Natural Gas concerns continued

This past week has been one where, despite the torpor that starts to fill the summer press, the progress of reality across the energy supply situation is beginning to make its uncomfortable presence known in the MSM. We have, it appears, reached that time where demand destruction, a phrase I heard for the first time not that much more than a year ago, is now beginning more evidently to impact the demand side of the oil and gas balance between supply and demand.

As I noted the other day, when talking about the oil sands, cornucopian thinking still seems to control the attitude of government. The comment by the Canadian National Energy Board that Dave cited includes the comment on gas needs

It takes about 34 cubic metres (1 200 cubic feet) of natural gas to produce one barrel of bitumen from in situ projects and about 20 cubic metres (700 cubic feet) for integrated projects. Currently, the oil sands industry uses about 21 million cubic metres (0.7 billion cubic feet) per day of purchased gas, or about five percent of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin production. By 2015, this increases to about 60 million cubic metres (2.1 billion cubic feet) per day, or nearly 12 percent, assuming gas production remains at 482 million cubic metres (17 billion cubic feet) per day.
This seems to imply that the demand increase is not that significant relative to supply. But to continue Dave's thread onto a slightly larger scale, the failure to put the demand into a global picture can lead to considerable, and unfounded, complacency.
In the NEB publications on Natural Gas, the short-term answer is to look to coal-bed methane from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB)
While production of conventional gas in the WCSB is expected to decline slightly, natural gas from coal (NGC)1 in the WCSB is now an important and rapidly growing source of gas production. Deliverability of NGC is expected to grow rapidly from 8 million m3/d (0.3 Bcf/d) in 2005 to 25 million m3/d (0.9 Bcf/d) in 2007. Thus, the increase in production of NGC is expected to offset the declines in conventional gas production and enable a small overall increase in gas deliverability.
However, when one looks at the other demands on natural gas in North America, most particularly for power the problem may be more evident. Because here, the entirety of both US and Canadian demand starts to be integrated. And it is here, despite the headlines in the WP about a natural gas glut, that concerns become justified.
One of the biggest challenges is the adequacy of natural gas supplies at competitive prices. Rising prices have spurred on additional drilling, however even this growth in production has not been enough to keep pace with demand. North American gas producers are drilling more wells every year just to keep production constant. Therefore, if more gas is to be allocated for electricity generation, there will be less available for other consumers.
Over a quarter of natural gas production in North America now goes to power generation. The recent expansion has added 1,600 MW of gas-powered generation to the electicity grid. (The scale is shown in a graph in my comment to Dave's post). However, the report notes that this has led, in the immediate short-term to overcapacity, and there has not yet been a full demand for power, and the underlying gas supply that would be needed. But as that overcapacity as absorbed by the growing market it will soon bump up against the production limit.
However, increases in gas production that have resulted from the high levels of drilling have not kept pace with growth in demand. Rather, high levels of drilling activity have managed mostly to offset the higher decline rates and lower productivity of new wells. In other words, the producing sector needs to drill more wells each year just to keep production flat. Overall, the outlook for natural gas supply in Canada and the U.S. is that production will grow marginally by 2006 to approximately 1 936.5 million m3/d (68.4 Bcf/d). This level of production has been relatively flat over the past six years (Figure 2.7). The Board expects that average annual U.S. gas production will rise slightly over the projection period to approximately 1 458.9 million m3/d(51.5 Bcf/d), with growth coming mainly from the U.S. Rockies.
So, where can we look for help?
A key supply source for North America is expected to be the rapidly developing global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market. Proven reserves of natural gas worldwide are about 20 times larger than the proven natural gas reserves of North America. Furthermore, advances in liquefaction and transportation technologies have lowered the unit cost of LNG by 30 percent over the past decade, enabling the use of LNG as a cost competitive source of gas supply in North America.
They note (as has been commented here by Dave and I earlier) that current North American capacity is about 5 bcf/d. So let us now step back one stage further and look at where we might get that LNG.

The largest suppliers are potentially Russia, Qatar, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt. Four of whom got together recently with US Industry The subject was long-term LNG contracts, given that US LNG demand is anticipated to grow from 2% to 10% of supply by 2010.

Both producers and consumers stressed that long-term contracts were key to securing future U.S. supplies of super-cooled LNG, Abraham told Reuters in an interview.

Just as U.S. industry wants secure supplies, big LNG exporters like Nigeria and Qatar want assurances that markets for their product won't fizzle out after they invest the billions of dollars needed to carry LNG across oceans on special tankers, Abraham said.

U.S. utilities need to convince sometimes reluctant state regulators to approve the recovery of expenses incurred in signing multimillion-dollar, multi-year contracts, he said.

State regulators "might not fully appreciate that ... you may not have a choice" but to sign these contracts, he said.

. . . . . NG producers must build 15 more giant "trains" to process the gas into liquid form and an equivalent number of U.S. import terminals must be built, Abraham said in the event program. Each of those projects will cost upwards of $1 billion, he said.

The EIA see the growth being even larger, with 17 countries becoming exporters including Norway, Russia, Equatorial Guinea and Peru. While
In the US, LNG will become more important than piped gas from Canada, the US's top foreign supplier, the EIA said.
The MSNBC article notes also that the LNG market will be of benefit to the energy companies
ExxonMobil, for example, last year managed to replace its used reserves only because it was able to book with the US Securities and Exchange Commission large gas reserves in Qatar, analysts said.

By 2020, the energy majors' share of gas versus oil will rise from 37 per cent to 43 per cent, Bernstein estimates.

However, LNG has been prone to massive cost overruns, delays and challenges over environmental concerns.

Chevron, the US's second-largest energy group, on Tuesday warned it faced growing costs at its massive Gorgon project in western Australia.

Much of the current market for LNG is to Asia, though 10% of the US supply last year was diverted, instead to Spain, as they had problems with hydro-electric power generation in a drought. Trains 3 and 4 from Qatargas (a total of 2.8 bcf/day) are however, scheduled largely for the US. But I did see one article last week (which I failed to tag) that noted that most if not all of Qatar's LNG is now under contract. We go to Iran, and find that maybe, after all they do need the nuclear power. Given that (as Leanan drew attention to) they are now imposing rationing as they stop importing gasoline, although that, perhaps is intended as a way of removing a weapon that might otherwise be used against them.

Which sort of brings us around to the supply of LNG from Russia. Now if we were to believe ex-Chancellor Schröder there is no choice. But then he is being paid a fair amount of money by Gazprom to say that. Gazprom is continuing it's purchase of gas companies, buying one in the UK this week. However, while most of the world is more interested in Ukrainian soccer players at the moment, the end of the agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkmenistan on gas prices may bring more attention in the next weeks. Started by the Turkmen wish to be paid at world market prices for their gas, at the same time as the government in Ukraine re-emerged, it begins to look as though we are returning to the days at the start of the year when prices and availability will again be in the headlines.

It is, however, Ukraine aside, a little of concern that Gazprom seems more intent on using its reserves to take over distribution networks, and control supply so that only it's gas is available, rather than spending money to accelerate production from its fields, such as Shtokman, planned development of which continues to be postponed.
I seem to have meandered a bit more than usual today, but to summarize the points, to get more oil from the oil sands we need more gas; but in a North American context that can only come from LNG; but LNG production is going to come from only a few places, and of the biggest potential players one is apparently already sold out, and the other is more interested in power of the political kind.

Which might be a good reason to post about THAI before too long.

Hello Heading Out,

Good Job!  Matt Savinar's LATOC news & updates has an excellent article about energy requirements for purely comfort home A/C-- 18% of all electricity, as I recall.  Future LNG requirements to chill us out are huge.  My earlier post pointed out that heating a house by FF fire, appliance cast-off heat, or crowded body heat is much more efficient than trying to cool the same volume of living space.

The big question is if A/C becomes largely unaffordable postPeak- will people migrate or learn to sweat?  Thus future LNG regasification and distribution pipelines may be best economically situated in locations for supporting colder climes.  Jay Hanson and Kunstler predict that millions of Southerners & Southwesterners will hit the road north in response to PO & GW.

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

"Jay Hanson and Kunstler predict that millions of Southerners & Southwesterners will hit the road north in response to PO & GW."

Which of course is just the kind of bizarre conjecture that keeps people from taking Hanson and Kunstler serously at all.

Air conditioning is one of the most demand elestic areas of energy consumption.  Here in Kentucky I have not yet turned on my air conditioner this year!  Because I am concerned about natural gas?  NO. Almost all electrical production in this state is by way of coal fired plants.  What I am concerned about is retaining money.  If I shave a month or so off the air conditioner use at each end of the summer, I can live VERY comfortably in July and August when I really NEED the air not to be miserable.

A friend of mine recently built a house himself (important distinction, he built it, and did not have one of the high speed developer/contractors do it) and so he could take the little bit of extra time and effort to install a geo thermal or ground coupled heat pump, and good insulation.  The place is like a small palace and costs him some $35 to $55 a month topside in air conditioning costs (his property taxes are higher).

If natural gas does indeed go up in price, the amount of waste that can be squeezed out of American consumption is ASTRONOMICAL.  Already existing technology such as ground coupled heat pumps, slightly better appliences and solar hot water could remove the consumption matching ALL the LNG we can import given current facilities and facilities currently in development to import it.

What the LNG promoters are terrified of is that after they make the investments, the "demand destruction" kicks in ( and this is demand destruction that causes no great discomfort to the average boomer), and the price collapses.  It is not out of the realm of possibility, and if the weather went mild for successive years, they could be, to use a direct term, screwed.

But the weather, and the American people and industrial demand situation mean so much.  LNG and large pipeline projects take years to plan.  It only takes a few days in the winter for tempetures to drop to sub zero, and then, how long will they stay there?  We are walking on the thin edge of catastrophe in planning our LNG and natural gas supply, and we know it.

So, what to do?  One thing we can do now.  We should try to increase natural gas and LPG (propane) storage as rapidly as possible.  This should be incentivised through tax breaks.  The gas and LPG are not going to spoil in the tank like bad friut, and JIT (Just In Time) inventory may be great for some products, but for a life supporting commodity like natural gas and LPG, it is a poor and risky way to do business.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

You rang all the bells with that post, Roger.

While I agree with everything you say, I'm particularly frustrated by the Kunstlerian "the 'burbs are gonna die, the SW US is gonna die, etc." nonsense.

Just once I want to hear Kunstler or one of the people pushing that puerile apocalypse porn provide a detailed analysis of how such a prediction will play out.  How, exactly, are people going to abandon Phoenix or the 'burbs?  Will they simply lock their houses and walk away from the biggest single investment they have?  Will they sell?  If so, to whom and at what price?  (Hint: If "everyone" is leaving an area, the market value of a house and the land it's on will be almost zero.)  And if they do move into one of those gloriously re-densified cities, where in the world will they all fit, and what kind of infrastructure and private investment will it take to house, feed, etc. them all?  And for all the people who work in an office complex or industrial park that's out in the 'burbs, how do they get there if they can't afford the transportation to travel to and from their prior residences?

The number one thing people learn when they study economics rigorously is that all prices and costs are relative.  When Kunstler predicts the death of Phoenix or Vegas or 'burbs, he's literally claiming that such incredibly drastic and expensive action will be the best alternative all those people have.

Given the advances coming very soon in EV's and solar power, the increasing use of ground-loop heating and cooling (which is insanely efficient, as you mentioned), the enormous opportunities for conservation (ditto), I don't believe for a second that a mass abandonment of some metro areas and tens of millions of homes across the US in the 'burbs will be the best option.

As one example of Kunstler's ability to gauge our ability to respond to challenges, I refer everyone to his statement about Y2K, written in April of 1999:

I wish people would pay more attention to the real problems we're facing and can still do something about, and ignore the Apocalypticon rants.

Problem is they might not have the chance, thats the rub. Natural gas goes up in price for 2 years straight at 40% a year(already there or close to it), then jumps some more after that. One good hard winter causing shortages and then the price spikes some more. Ok, so your in Kentucky, where it gets warm but not that warm. Now imagine Phoenix, where the "heat island" effect alone is now worth about 10 degrees these days in the summer putting it above 100F ALL day many days thru the summer.......can you live w/o air conditioning? Maybe if your young, but you wont like it. How bout South Florida? My Mom is already stuck there, or take about a 30% bath on her house she cant get rid of already due to the housing market dying in under 4 months. I know she couldnt live w/o it, but she couldnt afford paying $5-$700/month for it either, and it will get that high or higher unless an awful lot of demand goes away.

Then consider this country lives paycheck to paycheck on borrowed money, we dont have enough savings for a bailout plan, at least most dont. Sure, there is an enormous amount of waste and discretionary spending that can be wrung out of the system, still, that leaves the same problems in place. We've spent more than 100 years building a system that doesnt work without fairly cheap energy. Too many people moving and doing so alone and great distances. Our actual home arrangements may last awhile for those within a reasonable distance to work, but transportation will be the first issue added to increased costs for everything else. Without cheap transportation much of what we built doesnt work so well. Adding fuel to the problem is wringing out the excess means a serious downturn in our service economy because we let our base slip away to globalization, that isnt easily reversed.

An investment is only an investment if it returns money, if your upside down and cant hold on to your "investment", then you walk away from it, and under todays new BK laws, you may get stuck. The current inflation rate alone is wiping out or has wiped out most of the gains many have seen, even if they are too out of it to notice, that will get far worse.

Apocalyptic, ya maybe, but for some it will be a boom time, for others it will be ugly. For some its already ugly, almost a year later and the Katrina aftermath is still ever present for example. Depends on your situation and what your prepared to do, most I fear based on my observations wont fare to well in a crisis, and Uncle Sam cant be counted on to help, if anything the govt can be counted on to make things worse.

Yes, places that are 100% percent systhetic like Vegas, Phoenix, SoCal, etc etc that require massive amounts of water and electric just for basic needs will get pinched hard first. Those in more fortunate areas wont wanna sell either. Its a two pronged problem, your house becomes worthless and you cant sell it, but cant move w/o the cash from it, and if you could, finding a new place may be tough. Same with SUV's, they are about to become very very cheap and plentiful. Then because the economy will likely stall at  best and crash at worse, employment goes down the tubes too, what then? How many people do you know can go unemployed and for quite awhile, most cant.

Solutions, sure, lots of those. Most can be done with existing technology, ALL require the same sacrifice, culture change and a drop in living standrds, in a country that has been raised to believe that should never happen and cant happen. The mindset must be fixed first or none of this flies.

It all boils down to timeframe, is it spread out over a decade or more, or is it just a few years? If its soon, most people will be F'd for awhile, just the way it is.

Well put.
Where Kunstler & the die-off crowd are wrong is that they think everywhere is like Phoenix.  It's not.  Outside the US, hardly anywhere is like Phoenix.  Society is adaptable and will cope with Peak Oil - though not without some pretty drastic changes during power-down.  You'd be amazed how quickly people's mindset can change once their current one stops working.

There are two issues being discussed here: a possible near term crisis in the natural gas section of the US electricity grid; and actual shortages of fossil fuels caused by global depletion and reflected in high & rising prices.  I'll deal with the near term crisis first.

  1. Does anyone really believe that the US government will just stand by & let the power grid collapse for good in areas fuelled by natural gas?  I'll grant that they may just be stupid enough to allow a short-term collapse to happen through "leaving it to the market", but the solution to a natural gas crisis is so screamingly obvious - coal.  They'll fund the necessary work to connect the grid up properly so that coal plants further away can make up the gap between supply of natural gas fired power and demand.  Of course that will aggravate Global Warming, but that won't even slow down, let alone stop, the current political elite.  I can just imagine Bush & co saying "The Dutch can drown, but Phoenix is gonna have their power.  The American way of life is not negotiable."

  2. Turning to the longer term, despite anything anyone tells you, people don't actually need air conditioning.  The human race got along just fine without it for millenia and will again.  Think Mad Dogs & Englishmen:

  1. When air conditioning becomes unaffordable, it will be junked in order to allow people to keep what they do need.  This process will be a great deal quicker if power companies get to introduce "time of use" charging.  They're moving towards this here in Australia and, when it's brought in, I predict a massive drop in air conditioner use.  Most people with one will probably still keep it, but they'll be much more sparing in their use and adjust the thermostat so that the machine is just taking the edge off the heat rather than making the house a "just right" temperature.  Even this is a luxury rather than a necessity and will go eventually if it needs to.

  2. The die-off brigade like to go on about the massive resources it will take to adjust to Peak Oil.  What they don't tell you is the massive resources that are presently going into unsustainable consumption & investment patterns.  By building railways instead of roads, trains instead of cars, and medium density flats instead of McMansions, you'd be amazed at how quickly many cities can be transformed.

  3. Of course, some cities just won't make the grade - they'll have too far to shift in too short a time.  I can certainly imagine Phoenix as one.  And it's quite possible many people might just have to pack up & go.  It's happened before.  Has anyone read The Grapes of Wrath?

The good news is they won't have nearly as far to travel.  The bad news is they probably won't be driving.

6. Eventually, even coal will run out.  By then, however, people will have got the point about non-renewable resources.  Peak Oil will put the cornucopians out of business for good, so we'll be able to use the remaining fossil fuels as an energy bank to fund the transition to a sustainable society.


"Just once I want to hear Kunstler or one of the people pushing that puerile apocalypse porn provide a detailed analysis of how such a prediction will play out.  How, exactly, are people going to abandon Phoenix or the 'burbs?  Will they simply lock their houses and walk away from the biggest single investment they have?  Will they sell?"

There's a logical problem here: it's not Kunstler's job to explain how people are going to abandon the burbs -- it's YOUR job to explain how they will be able to continue surviving there if gas and oil go way up in price! The fact that all the options are painful or worse has no bearing at all on what will be.

"Given the advances coming very soon in EV's and solar power, the increasing use of ground-loop heating and cooling..."

Ok, let's just say --I don't agree -- but let's just say that takes care of cooling. It certainly doesn't take care of transporation or electricity (or water or food).

"And for all the people who work in an office complex or industrial park that's out in the 'burbs, how do they get there if they can't afford the transportation to travel to and from their prior residences?" Indeed! It seems to me you arguing for Kunstler here, not against him.

Is it that you say gas and oil aren't going to go up quite a bit, and then continue? It is true that there is a large amount of energy waste in our country, some of it not structural -- curable with e.g. better gas mileage, using fans instead of A/C, fluorescent bulbs, etc. BUT, prices won't stop there. What happens then? Then we will have to address structural issues, some of the issues Kunstler addresses. Eventually the car has to go, the McMansions have to go, and the burbs as they exist now have to go. It doesn't matter if it's inconvenient or disastrous even -- if prices go up high enough, then what will be will be.

If you dispute that, then it seems to me the onus is on you. Lay out a scenario in which our current way of life can be continued.

BTW, lots of people got Y2K all wrong, not just Kunstler. Even some big names in computing who should have known better.

[Will they simply lock their houses and walk away from the biggest single investment they have?  Will they sell?  If so, to whom and at what price?]

A couple of points here.  First, during the Depression, people did just walk away; they had no choice.  My folks lost their house but the banks had so many, they just let people stay in them.  Farmers walked away from farms that had been in the family for generations.  So just because we don't like the result doesn't mean the result won't happen.  Second, yes, a house is people's largest investment, or at least largest asset.  But they rarely own it: the bank owns it.  As interest rates go up forcing the adjustment of ARMs, as the cost of driving to work, the cost of food, the cost of everything we buy goes up because of increased energy costs, people can get to a point they cannot afford the mortgage payments.  They have no choice but to walk.

Is your position that these apocalyptic views can't or won't happen because they seem too bad a result?  If that's the case, none of this peak oil stuff can happen because the result is too bad.  So let's just continue along with mainstream America and deny it and be happy because as long as we deny it, it can't happen.  I like to think the apocalyptic version won't happen either, but I can certainly envision a lot of scenarios in which that is the inevitable result.  If peak oil hits in the next few years, what will be the impact on our economy?  If we slide into recession or depression, from where do we get the massive capital necessary to implement all these necessary alternatives to overcome peak oil on the scale necessary?  From our bankrupt government?  Borrow it from the people who can barely (or can't) afford food for their kids and the higher costs of their mortgage?

There may be no point in Kustler obsessing on the collapse of Phoenix and the southwest.  At the same time, if you had your kids there and that collapse were a reasonable possibility, would you rather be made aware in time to protect your family?  Kunstler does provide a service because he is one of the few really giving a view over the edge.  If you think the edge doesn't exist (and this isn't to say going over is inevitable), you have far more faith in human nature than I.  

The Phoenix area is one of the fastest growing areas of the country.  Tucson and Phoenix are predicted to be one continuous mega city.  Is this rational?  The housing is cheap, compared to L.A.  Damn the future.
Y2K could indeed have been serious if it weren't for the massive preparation program put into place. Kunstler was wrong because he thought nobody would do anything about it, not because the problem didn't exist.

Millions were spent on preparing for Y2K. The preparations worked.

Now of course, many say that Y2K was a silly pointless panic ... just because they didn't have to use their survival cabin in the hills.

Why Y2K was a non-event was simply all the programmers doing their little bit each in an all hands effort. Similarly, with the upcoming energy shortages, each of us, not just IT geeks, get to participate in this all hands effort. Buy that motorcycle. Move closer to work, turn down the A/C, and so on.

What sucks is the political ruling class want no part of the preparation. Instead, they want to milk the situation until starving throngs come begging to them to be enslaved just to eat.

Here's a problem, though, Lou. Yeah, Kunstler overstates his case and overly neglects adaptation and change. He's selling books after all. But have you ever been to Phoenix?

Believe it or not, Phoenix has an old downtown. But it's very tiny, the size of a city of oh, maybe 15000. That's because before airconditioning, hardly anyone in his or her right mind wanted to live there. Before heating and cooling, you could always throw on more clothing in a cool climate, however lice-ridden that clothing might have been. But there was never anything you could do about 110 degree heat, except die of heatstroke if you weren't young and strapping anymore. Most of the U.S. population, including the population of Phoenix, is not young and strapping anymore. Even much of the young population is not particularly strapping.

You don't need a Kunstler-style collapse to make Phoenix a truly dangerous location for most people. All you need is an electricity supply that's a bit unreliable. And it's easy to make the electricity supply a bit unreliable. Simply create a political Global Warming panic, and have our corrupt, incompetent politicians ride their hobby horses into the fray. Voila.

The same is true - to a lesser degree - for virtually all of our southern cities. Very few people lived there before airconditioning, relative to cities elsewhere. From June through September everything not cooled unremittingly drips humidity and reeks of mildew.

N.B. a similar problem may arise with cities that are too densely populated, in any area, hot or cold. After our politicians, egged on by GW doomers who are selling books too - run for the hills, we think the oceans might possibly be deeper 1000 years from now - have messed up the electricity supply, life is not going to be any fun for people who have to decide between walking up 20 floors, or else risking being stuck all day in a dangerously hot airless elevator.

LouCrinzon and ThatsItImOut - your objections to Kunstler's scenarios seem to be due to; 1) your distaste for the idea (this is an emotional and irrational response and not worth further discussion), and 2) your Ignorance of the Possible Mechanisms of by which the burbs and cities could decay during an indefinate energy crisis.

The problem is you both seem to focus only on your own life experience in Modern, Fully Energized First World Cities.  So no wonder it's so difficult to imagine the collapse of a major urban center.

But consider looking to history for examples - both modern and ancient times - when resources could no longer support cities or countries...  

Or you could watch in Real-Time how First- and Second-World Cities are currently experiencing urban/economic decay (eg. India, Pakistan, S. Africa {]).  You can See the effects of the Power Shortages and interuptions on sewer and water services, the lack of reliable employment due to unpredictable power outages on industry, decling property values, and heavy tax burdens for those who try to stick it out... there are many, many symptoms and issues far beyond simple AC for the hot summer.  People may not want to leave their homes but might be Forced too - either because they lost their homes for foreclosure or because their city is becoming virtually unlivable.  

"Or you could watch in Real-Time how First- and Second-World Cities are currently experiencing urban/economic decay (eg. India, Pakistan, S. Africa {])."

India is booming. I've lived in Southeast Asia for over ten years. Decay is not in the vocabulary. Half the world lives in Asia and most of it is very dynamic.

"Power Shortages and interuptions on sewer and water services, the lack of reliable employment due to unpredictable power outages on industry, decling property values, and heavy tax burdens for those who try to stick it out."

But these have nothing to do with peak oil. There are less power shortages in most of the world than there were a few years ago.

Doomers love to check pick a few bad things and then claim they are proof the world is coming to an end. But at any time in history there have been good places and bad places, decay and growth.

I don't know what will happen, but the ease with which doomers find proof in everything does nothing to convince me they are right.

India has been booming because the world was awash in cheap oil.  Their economy is now crashing, they are in Desperate Need of New Energy Nipplez, and now Pakistan is screwing with them again via the Moozlim FreakShows the pakistanis still host on the border and within India... India is a basket case and what parts of it that DID manage to crawl into the first world are now disintegrating before our very eyes...

Power Shortages are ultimately related to Peak Oil - "Fuel Switching" once worshipped by the Greenies is now becoming Fuel Twitching - and you will see it in the markets... oh boy what fun!!!

Humpty Dumpty has MANY cracks - if you are blind to the symptoms and wish to ignore them, you are choosing ignorance.

Jack, I honestly am not a "DOOMER" at all.  I see a Living Hell of a transition but in the long run the civilization that Sap forms from the wreckage will be far better than this one - for a far greater percentage of the population than is now served by the current version of civilization. This is Homo Sap's FIRST try at a Global Village - we will get it "righter" next time.

Everything always looks rosy at the top - this is Peak Oil, but it is also Peak Energy, Peak Matter, and Peak Standard of Living for a very long time to come... sorry, ask Mother or manzthingy's written history if you disagree and insist on having Faith only in the experience of your own tiny existance.

Hello ThatItsImOut,

I respectfully disagree on A/C inelasticity.  I am old enough to remember when A/C was a very expensive option on homes or cars here in Phx.  My mother, as a Depression Era Phx child, slept with her family in the front yard under wet sheets to keep cool on hot nights.  The wealthier had screened sleeping porches to ward off mosquito bites.  Swamp-cooling, for those that could afford the electricity, was considered a big advance.  Her family's big treat was to see an occasional movie in the first A/C buildings in Phx followed by home-cranked ice cream using very expensive ice.  Refrigerators and A/C were first praised as absolute miracles, then absolute essentials.

I don't know a great deal about new cars [I prefer two wheel transport, love my scooter] but I do not think it is even possible today to buy a car WITHOUT A/C.  Come to Phx and see if you can find anyone driving around in the afternoon heat with their windows down.  Those that do just haven't saved up the money yet to get their A/C repaired--generally very expensive.

Same with Phx houses, stores, govt. offices, and businesses.  They could all be currently running swamp-coolers and saving megawatts, or as you suggest--install a geo thermal or ground coupled heat pump, and good insulation.  But they don't, and haven't since Reagan put the kibosh to Carter's Conservation Plan. My local grocery store even has a thirty foot A/C opening for its customer entrance because normal electric doors injured too many people and the big entrance draws more people 24/7.  This link gives an animated example:

Most Phx commuters could have long ago collectively forced mass-transit or bike paths to be built by mere consumer demand, or shifted to motorcycles and scooters for big savings, but they now see no-sweat autos and buses as a birthright, just as they see climate controlled comfort as non-negotiable everywhere they go in the Asphalt Wonderland.  Americans have forgotten frugality.  I think Hanson and Kunstler are correct.  Mike Ruppert of FTW bailed out of LA for Oregon as another example.

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

Shaw, don't you think demand destruction will hit a lot of things before A/C?
Hello Vintermann,

It all depends upon the consumer's priorities and wealth.  My guess [roughly ten years postPeak?] is that the remaining Phoenicians might be willing to pedal to work, then sweat profusely all day at a non-A/C job in order to keep his/her job from being outsourced overseas to Dubai [or wherever energy is cheapest], then go home to a hot house, but still afford the luxury of one room in the house being super-insulated and cooled by a very small, but highly efficient A/C unit to allow a comfortable night's sleep.  I picture bunks for the whole family [no snoring allowed?], but they would spread throughout the other bedrooms in cooler times.

I basically lived this way during my first two non-parental 'launch' years: no car, pedaled to an outside job, pedaled home to a small 3-bedroom bachelor house shared by five other guys to defray costs.  Barely remember the great toga parties.

As electricity continues to get expensive, back to swamp-cooling a single room by PV/batts/small gas genset, then sleeping in the yard, or on the roof as poor Iraqis do.  I think the last appliance people will give up is the refrigerator.  Cold beer & ice cream is priceless!

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

Could the problem with all those new houses in Arizona be that they were designed for an Ohio climate. For centuries if not longer the main building material in Arizona was adobe not plywood and vinyl. Thick adobe walls create a thermal link with the lower temperature ground 10 feet down which kept interior temps comfy without modern A/C. I see no reason why a thick adobe shell could not be built around modern houses as an energy conservation measure.  The materials are dirt cheap and require little skill to build. Just wait until winter to avoid heat stroke during construction.
Will the commoners be able to think ahead and restrict their energy use, even when prices are high?
For most people, if not all, the economic effects of one's energy use is highly delayed - by days in terms of petrol for car use, and months in terms of home electricity use.

Many people here, whom I suspect are highly intelligent, educated and motivated individuals, speak of 'shaving off A/C use to make the winters more bearable' or similar efforts. However, I would hypothesise that the average citizen is so disengaged from the economics and science of energy use ('taking it for granted', so to speak) that they would be at least subconciously unable to make the connection between 'less energy use' equating ultimately to a 'lesser bill'? - and subsequently blaming their increased energy expenses on anyone but themselves.

In summary: there are no price meters on refrigerators or air conditioners. Consumers must 'guess' the effects of their energy use and its ultimate financial impact, which makes conservation harder, and seem more distant.

I used to live in Sacramento and used a squirrel cage fan directing air from the basement to the duct system in the Summer.  No AC whatsoever and my inside temps never exceeded 80 degrees despite days outside as high as 105..  It's probably hotter there now but it's amazing what you can do with a squirrel cage fan and lots of trees.

It used to be that it was very unusual for people to have AC here in Colorado.  But global warming, combined with increased comfort needs and more money have conspired against that.  I suspect, however, that better construction could, even in today's hotter climate, make much of that AC unnecssary.  

Gas only provides 18% of electricity in the US.  Wind generation is 40% new generation in 2006, and 50% in 2007.  Wind and coal could easily replace the NG used for electricity.

Does anyone seriously think the US will have trouble generating electricity due to PO?  I thought everyone saw transportation as the real problem.

I'm largely in agreement with Nick - the critical problem is transportation fuels - electricity in the US need not be critically affected.

I'll agree about coal but substitute nuclear for wind as the other source to gain market share in the intermediate and long term.  There will be new windmills too so long as there remain tax credits and production subsidies.

BTW, people talk about Phoenix running out of electricity PO.  Have they forgotten the three reactors at Palo Verde, just to the west of town?  Did they know about the room and design for 2 more reactors on the site?

How about the Four Corners Coal Plant to the northeast, the world's largest single air pollution point source (or used to be.)

As to natural gas, most new electrical capacity built since the early 90's has been gas fired.  However, the relative increase in gas prices compared to coal prices has left more of it idle as the spark spread for gas got too low to run.  Coal has assumedly picked up the slack.

Burning natural gas, domestic or LNG, for any major portion of our electrical needs is folly.

Yeah, I generally agree.

"substitute nuclear for wind as the other source to gain market share in the intermediate and long term."

Yeah, I'm thinking of the short term: the next 10 years.  At the end of that time there's a good chance wind will be bumping up against the roughly 15% market share limit caused by intermittency.  

At about 10 years new nuclear, and solar, will likely become major players.  Storage from plug-in hybrids, smart meters and demand management will start to provide more flexibility for wind, nuclear and solar, probably raising the market share limits for all three.  

I have two general and belated comments here.

1) Landscaping can make a major difference in the temperature of homes, at least in some areas like Pennsylvania where I now live.

For instance, my next door neighbors used to have thick shrubs obscuring the front of their south-facing house.  The windows looked to be recessed.  They have no awnings over the windows and no shade trees in the yard.

A couple of years ago, they chopped down the shrubs and replaced them with much lower plantings.  Immediately, the summer temperature in their house went up 5 to 10 degrees.  They were quite shocked.

Deciduous trees and shrubs on the southern exposure, conifers in the northern exposure and a mix on either side, coupled with fans, including a whole-house fan that can pull cool night air through the house, can make a big difference in a climate like this.

As to Phoenix, I think that its summertime population will be reduced, but its wintertime population may be more stable.  Now that the Gulf Coast may be routinely demolished each summer, more snowbirds from the Midwest, Plains and Inter-Mountain region may look to Phoenix to get away from the cold.  

My Rand-McNally shows 1713 miles between Chicago and Phoenix.  Doubling that mileage and dividing it by 25 (a reasonable approximation of the highway mileage obtained by a mid-size sedan) leaves 137--a rought esimate of the number of gallons of gasoline required.  A good-size older home in Chicago could easily consume 137 gallons of heating oil a month in winter.  As I understand it, there is not much call for heating or cooling in Phoenix during the winter, so a long snowbird trip, even by auto, might make sense energetically for at least a decade or more.  That might make for a lot of need for rental housing or a way to get at least some value from housing sold essentially as winter vacation property.

On another topic, the U.S. NREL energy maps show solar thermal as producing more power than PV in the southwest.  

Any and all comments appreciated.  

Great detailed dairy Heading Out.  Living here in WI, in the upper midwest, we rely heavily on NG and propane for heating - Thus I don't see mass migrations up north to escape the heat, but I could be wrong - we did get quite a few refugees after Katrina.

Do you see NG as the most "stranded" of energy resources, compared to oil, coal, nuclear fuel, etc and does this bode ill in a post-peak future frought with sabatoge (a la Syriana)?

Hello Bec336,

I use swamp-cooling exclusively as part of my Powerdown regimen, yet visitors who have become acclimated to A/C don't like to stay long as they claim the humidity level makes them uncomfortable [maybe my peppering them with PO & GW facts is what really drives them away].  =)  Yet the cost savings are obvious:
The reason evaporative systems use less energy is that unlike refrigerative systems, they do not have an energy-consuming compressor to compress vapour and condense it back into liquid to repeat the cooling cycle.

Instead, evaporative coolers just use fresh water to achieve high efficiency cooling.

According to the World Bank report, 4 million EAC units in operation in the United States provide an estimated annual energy savings equivalent to 12 million barrels of oil in addition to an annual reduction of 5.4 billion pounds of CO2 emissions.

Advantages of Evaporative Versus Air Conditioning Evaporation is a highly efficient natural heat exchange process because there is no third element in the exchanger.

As the air is in direct contact with the refrigerant, in this case water, the heat is transferred extremely efficiently.

In compressor systems, the exchangers involve a third element - the metal coil, which interferes with the efficiency of the heat transfer.

With compressor systems there are two heat exchangers, the evaporator and the condenser, so there is a double negative effect.

The only power-consuming components of a direct evaporative cooler are the fan and small water pump.

The energy savings of EAC units vary with humidity levels and temperatures, however, typically in the UK; EAC systems will yield 50 to 70 percent energy savings compared to conventional air conditioning.

For example in a typical hourly cycle a three and a half ton refrigeration unit consumes 8,698-kilowatt hours of electricity compared to an equivalent evaporative cooler, which consumes 1,800-kilowatt hours of electricity.

Benefits of Evaporative Air-Cooling Versus Air-Conditioning:.

  • EAC Conventional Air Conditioning Power consumption 25 to 70% lower than AC.

  • High Indoor air quality 100% outside air 10-15% outside air Refrigerants Water CFCs, HFC, HCFC * Maintenance: Annual pad change Bi-annual filter change .

  • pollution Emissions: No CFC emissions CHFs, FCs, HCFCs.

  • Water Consumption: Moderate - Nil.

Conventional air-conditioning impacts significantly on a building's operating costs as it uses in excess of 25% of its electricity consumption.

The energy savings would be even higher in Phx compared to the UK example as we have a much longer heat season in the Asphalt Wonderland.

Amazingly,  most Phx new home builders do not even offer piggyback A/C & swamp cooler installations and ductwork like my older house [built this way due to consumer demand after the first energy crunch].  Retro-fitting a rooftop swamp cooler is also currently prohibited by many Homeowner Associations as it is considered detrimental to home values and scenic views.  

To my way of thinking: mopping my brow is a lot less postPeak work than shoveling snow, chopping wood, and putting snowchains or snowshoes on to get somewhere.  But most people I have talked to cannot imagine life without A/C-- they say they would move first.

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

Thanks for the resonse Totoneila.  While swamp coolers aren't much of an option here with dew points getting into the 70's each summer, ground water heat pumps are.  I'm not sure about the exact initial cost ($10k to drill several wells - closed loop vs open loop system), but in looking at houses out of town here with a few acres, they are quite popular.  One heating bill I saw was $50/mo in the dead of winter with sustained sub-zero temps - and this for a 2500sqft house.  This is my plan once my kid goes away to college and we move out of town with some land.  I would say that there are about 4 uncomfortable weeks of heat/yr here spread out over three months.  I wish I could invest my money in the infrastructure now before the commodity crunch make availability an issue.  But for now I'll just sit an wait for 4 years, hoping things don't get too bad before I can prepare...

Two questions for you:

  1. If the grid fails, how will Phoenicians pump water to support a million or so residences?

  2. Where did the Hohokam people go, and why did they leave?

Every time I visit Phoenix I wonder about these things.
Hello Consume More,

Thxs for responding. I don't have much time to respond because I just discovered my girlfriend's vehicle has a flat tire and she needs it tomorrow morning.  So briefly:


Basically, unless we go to a full humanure and localized permaculture to wisely use every raindrop and BTU--we are screwed by PO & GW & Overshoot. I see no evidence that the Asphalt Wonderland is making any effort to proactively transition.  In fact, it daily gets worse with the flood of new arrivals, both legal and illegal.  Being at the pipeline ends from TX & CA only decreases our energy security.


Basically, they tried the best they could as long as possible [doesn't everyone?], but Overshoot & Dieoff eventually whittled them down to sustainabilty.

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

HO-I think the management of Anadarko agrees with your sentimentd. Independent natural gas stocks were mostly up 10% or more on Friday as teh Kerr McGee buyout validated natural gas deposits and leaseholds. Very bullish for energy/natural gas long term
Re: "Very bullish for energy/natural gas long term..."

Yes, indeed. My post on the Anadarko acquisitions will be available tomorrow and should make a good follow-up to HO's excellent post. I'll have more comments on this later.

best, Dave

Several posters have touched on A/C. There's one simple thing that works very well, up to a point --- a fan! The other thing that works is karate. My old sensei had us working out in a hundred degree weather -- no fan, no A/C. We
were drenched. But you know what? It changed my body. My tolerance for heat went way up. I was in my late 50s then. I'm 65 and am starting up again. Two benefits: get ready for GW and be able to tie my shoes more easily.
Losing weight works very well too. I have a slim build and don't suffer hot weather nearly as much as the more heavily set (hard for me to stay warm in winter though).

The Cuban experience shows that weight loss will be one effect of peak oil, so air conditioning won't be "needed" as much as it is now.

I can attest to losing weight to mitigate heat intolerance. Before I lost 60 pounds I was very intolerant of heat. Now, I'm more like a normal person instead of rivalling a bodyshaved polar bear with the heat. At home alone, you could go almost nude to improve heat tolerance a few degrees too.

I now get to save a LOT of money on A/C. During non-summer my power bill is just short of $20.00. With normal A/C use as of now, it might hit $25.00. Living by Lake Michigan helps too. In the past I once racked up a one month bill of $110.00! That was away from the lake, in a top floor apartment (studio like now no less!) and when I was heat-intolerant. If you are obese, you have a great way to save on A/C and food! Just lose a bunch of weight - a feat easier said than done. Even this will get easier as sugar gets diverted to ethanol and food companies stop adding the infernal stuff to everything.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahrisani sez production now up to 2.5 mbpd, targeted for 2.6-2.7 mbpd by year end. Additional targets: 4.3 mbpd in 2010, and "challenging Saudi Arabia as world's largest producer" by 2015. Quien sabe? - but if one looks at the history of production in Iraq, since the discovery of oil in Kirkuk in 1927, the Western concession owners did their best to minimize Iraqi production to protect their investments in other countries, i.e., hold back Iraqi production to keep world price of oil up. After nationalization (1961?)under Col. Kassem - and then his overthrow by the Ba'athists (and the CIA)the country has not been an island of political stability. Iraq looks like the least developed Middle Eastern petroleum province with prospects for large production increases - if the country ever gets its act together.
The guy's a clown, he makes Ali al-Naimi look like George Washington.
We can drive much more efficient cars shorter distances to and from much more energy efficient and smaller homes equipped with ground loop heat pumps for heating and cooling.  The problem is getting from here to there, given the vast number of large, energy inefficient vehicles and homes.  

Consider the problem of funding the transition costs when the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans and when we already have a net negative savings rate.

Hugely energy intensive areas dependent on discretionary spending, such as Las Vegas and Orlando, are going to get killed.

The key point is that you don't want to be on the discretionary side of the ledger in a post-Peak Oil environment.

The fact that so many discuss A/C as if us americans would drop dead without it just shows how populations with full bellies and air conditioned lives lose touch with reality.  Kangaroos survive the blistering heat of the Australian outback and so can humans.  Kangas do this: one, find shade.  Two, they lick their hands and arms, and dig into the earth - both methods reduce body temperature.  As long as people have food and water (not guaranteed) they can survive the summer just fine.  Cover your head with a wet towel in the shade.  But A/C has spoiled some people, so that losing it seems like the end of the world for them!        
Maybe the concern arises because of information and stories such as this CDC report summary. And that was in the relatively benign climate of Chicago, where a "heat wave" is brief compared to the interminable cut-it-with-a-knife conditions in the Southeast, and where the vast, overwhelming majority have some access to A/C. There is indeed a reason why the South was very sparsely populated before A/C became affordable.

In European countries such as France, heatwaves are more than an order of magnitude more deadly because, unlike in Chicago, most residences and many offices have no A/C.

BTW we know only that some kangaroos survive. Those are the ones we see. The others, of course, are dead. So are the hundreds of humans in Chicago, and the many, many thousands in France.

I'm sorry, but Veganmaster is right. I was brought up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, argueably one of the worst climates in the US as far as heat is concerned. The humidity is almost always high, the sun very direct, the temperatures averaging quite high. Yet people lived in Houston since 1836, a real monument to human greed. Air conditioning was not common until about 40 years ago. The persons who think that AC is a necessity are not correct.
   The latin american solution is the siesta. During the hottest part of the day take a nap in the shade. Adjust work hours . Sleep on a sleeping porch at night,and sleep on top of the bedding. Drink plenty of fluids, and be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke.Take cold showers. This is what people do in Lagos, Nigeria or on the Yuatan or in the Amazon.
  Most of the people that die from heat stroke in Houston are too fearful to open their windows because they watch too much TV with dramas that make them paranoid.Humans are the most adaptable species  on earth as far as climate. So get real.
The problem with siestas is that they tend to create four rush hours as people go home to take them, as is the case in latin america. a/c might be more energy efficient than having people drive to work twice. Siestas are a solution useful in a village environment, where you can walk home, but not useful for cities.

The problem with cold showers in phoenix is water. Simply not enough for the population base to shower any more than they are now.

There are no lawns in phoenix?
Yeah, and also swimming pools.  A year or two ago, the "epicenter" of the West Nile Virus mini-epidemic in the USA (spread by mosquitos) was PHX, due to the large number of abandoned swimming pools, not counting the non-abandoned ones.  When TSHTF there will be fewer swimming pools kept chlorinated...  Which brings me to the point: the main reason many will leave Phx and Vegas etc will not be the cost of AC, it will be the lack of income!  In a frugal, low-energy world, these desert cities have no reason to exist!  Gambling can be done elsewhere just as easily, and retirees hang out where it's pleasant and affordable, or at least survivable, which will be somewhere else.  Except of course that they've already spent their savings on building in the wrong places.
And the 14000 folks in France died of watching too much TV too?
I have lived all my life in Florida.  Before AC we used fans everywhere.  Our homes had higher ceilings and porches.  We had plenty of open spaces with cool breezes.  We didn't miss what we didn't have.  

Today we have people living in mobile homes made of metal and baking in the sun.  The mobile homes have to be cooled with AC or they would be unlivable.  Same with our work environment.  I used to spend most of my time outside doing physical labor.   It wasn't a problem as trees and canopy cover were everywhere. Now everyone is a cubicle bunny inside a steel building filled with people and machines.  Without AC you couldn't work there.  

We have created a world that requires AC to function.  Most of the infrastructure that we have cannot be "dialed back" to a livable condition.  Without AC it will be abandoned.

I always take hot showers for the chill afterwards, and scalding hot tea was the colonial remedy for heatstroke. Is this all wrong?
-Simply not enough for the population base to shower any more than they are now.

I'll wager that if each phoenician were to collect rainwater, there would be more than enough for them to shower more than they currently do.   The question is, if every inhabitant of those arid region sprawlopolitan undertakings actually harvested as much as they could, and then used that water to replace groundwater consumption, given a restructured approach more xeriscape in layout than putting green lush, would the water table rise, fall or remain the same.  Anything other than a rise in the water table would still be a failure, as it would indicate that even permaculture design application can not support the numbers foisted upon the landscape.

I'll silly wild ass guess, and say that widespread use of water harvesting and grey water re-capture would not reverse the trend of falling groundwater situations.  For that reason alone, as the price of energy rises, the ability of these outposts to sustain their present populations, let alone growth, will falter.  It may not turn out to be a full on riot of an apocalypse, but I doubt that it will be an orderly reduction in population either.

For the truly insane, in which I include myself, relocating to one of these moribund locales could be a part of humans surviving the joint forces of PO and GW.  I live in the scorned pueblo to the south of Phoenix.  Tucson is claimed to be the site of the longest continuously inhabited site in the US.  I purposefully moved into the neighborhood that is situated on that land.  We have a collection of permaculture freaks dotted throughout the neighborhood that grey water reclaim, water harvest, humanure compost, grow food and continually strive to reduce our consumption of the finite.  If we can find a way to power-down and ride the decline, maybe humanity will survive.  Then again, we could get roasted as a main course by a larger band of roaming brigands as hegemony cracks and regionalism fails in its wake...

-your canary in the southwest coal mine

Glad to see that you found the Nation Energy Board ( 2005-2007 Short-term Outlook report.  

While the NEB recognizes that the 'end is near' for conventional natural gas, it is putting a great deal of faith in coal bed methane and tight gas. Similarly, the Canadian politicians are doing the same with 'cheap' LNG from Russia and Qatar.  Canada exports about 50% of its Western Canadian gas to the US, and conventional supplies are 'mature', i.e. field depletion.  So how long can coal-bed methane and tight gas last?

As the NEB puts it:

"The deliverability outlook reflects the industry operating at practical maximum levels...
Gas drilling is expected to rise by 20 percent over the period and will more likely be constrained by the size of the drilling fleet and available manpower than a shortage of investment. Even with prices at current levels or higher, these constraints will likely keep Canadian gas drilling from rising faster than indicated.

Initial productivity of new wells continues to decline and will require an increasing number of new wells each year just to hold deliverability constant. The decline in well productivity reflects the maturing of the WCSB. Although significant amounts of gas remain and companies have more
drilling prospects than ever, gas is available in smaller increments and will require increasing levels of activity and effort for each added unit of deliverability."

Petroleum is required to manufacture solar panels and the parts necessary to build, maintain, and operate wind generators, hydro-electric, and even nuclear power. There is no mining for uranium (or even plain coal) if you don't have gas or diesel for the big machines, and you need oil for machine lubrication, wire insulation, insulation varnishes for electric motor/generator windings, the computers and control equipment, etc.

These ongoing discussions must find clarity - the end position is not about energy, but rather the raw materials resource that petroleum provides. Over and over you find the myopic many stating that we can use source X, Y, and Z for continuing changes in power generation that ultimately must take place, regardless of when.

The real problem that must become the primary debate is simply this; how do you make photovoltaic cells for billions of people without plastics? If you have them now - you won't after 20 years have passed due to their natural degredation, regardless of construction or design. You can't build and maintain wind power systems, you can't build and maintain hydro plants, and what's worse, you can't fertilize and apply pesticides on the scale we do today, you can't produce most of our medications, you can't manufacture most food preservatives, and you can't even make insulation for the literally millions of miles of power lines that must be replaced, as well as added to the growing network.

Energy will always exist and there have been ways to harvest it since man first harnessed the power of flame. The trick now is sustaining the current form of technologically based society when the most essential resource required to manufacture the simplest parts will ultimately go away ... not when the ground is empty ... but when the economics of supply and demand make pumping too costly to justify.

The heart of the discussion must no longer be about energy ... it must now focus on materials resources that allow for the mass production of simple gaskets and O-rings, emulsions and varnishes that make modern electric motors even a possibility, the basic paints and preservatives that allow a wooden home to survive the envirionment and pest infestation, simple road tar that must always be processed for further transportation developpment, simple tires to ship - haul - distribute, resins and composites that allow us to manufacture the very tools we need to keep the entire system in operation.

While some will say, "I don't need these things - I can live in the boondocks and do just fine."

Nice. I grew up in those "boondocks" and while it's fun to lean back on your backside and point a finger at others not experienced in subsistance hunting and farm management, it is also as pernicious as any cancer.

You may have solar cells - but what do you do when they degrade? You may have alternate fuel you can produce, but what do you do when you need new parts? You may have tools to keep your work running, but what do you do when they must be replaced? You may have everything in place to last 100 years without the need for building or replacing anything at all - but what do you do when tragedy strikes...? Flood? Hurricane? Tornado? Home fire or wildfire? Disease with loss of medicine manufacturing?

And most importantly - what does everyone else do?

I read one gentleman state that he has enough guns and ammunition to last.

Nice thoughts. So what do you do when a husband and wife come to your door, with their three baby children with them, hoping for food and supplies? If you help them ... what about the next time? The next family? If you don't help them ... in time of need, who will help you? Who do you turn to when a tree branch blows 50 yards in a bad storm and smashes your solar panels? Will those you ran off your land share thier resources with you? When the steel parts of your alternative fuel engines wear - when the steel tools begin to break - when the spark plugs go - when the wires break down - when your plumbing needs repair...

... without the rawest of materials ...

What do you do then? I've read comments by some saying they'll use the local supply of natural materials - wood for building, heat for furnaces in which to work metals, and even wood gas.

Ever drive through the Smokies up to the end of the Appalachains? The next time you do, take a look, take a very long and hard look at what you see. You'll notice something that should shake you to your bones; there are almost no trees standing older than 100 years.

Why? Because once before we dealt with the very same thing. Wood for homes, wood for fences, wood for barns, wood for heating, wood for cooking, wood for turpentine, wood for coke to power steam engines and blast furnaces, wood for ships, wood for rail road ties, wood for carts - wagons - plows - tools - shingles - paper ...

Going back to the "boondocks" isn't so easy any more ... you've got 300 million people competing for the same resources - even if they don't know how to use them, it doesn't stop them from wanting them ... and with infants in their arms ... are you the one to tell them they cannot have?

These are serious questions and there are no easy answers ... but as long as people continue to focus on "energy" without stepping back to take a larger, broader look down a much wider path of time with regards to economics, environment, and the supply of the most essential material resources ... there will be no answers found.

Anything you can make from oil can be made from biomass. It's all a matter of investing in the right technologies soon enough. The invisible hand of the free market is utterly devoid of foresight. We can save seeds for next years or we can eat them now. If someone is willing to pay more for bread now than the farmers can pay for seeds the free market will sell the seeds now to the baker leaving nothing for next year's farmers.
This assumes teh farmer sare pretty dumb. They can see the coming shortage, and will easily be able to outbid those wanting bread now, even if they have no cash because their bankers aren't dumb, either.
We are close to the peak in oil production, oil will not run out the day, decade or even century after the peak. That no fossil oil would be available for other highly productive energy production schemes is quite silly. Why do so manny fall for that idea?
Another reason why the trees on the Smokies are only 100 years old is that one of the main tree species in the area was the American Chestnut.  It was almost completely wiped out by the Chestnut Blight about 100 years ago.  Only a very few trees in isolated areas survive.

Right now, botanists are breeding a new American Chestnut that has been cross-bred with Asian Chestnuts.  The new Americans contain the genes for blight resistance while showing the shape and size of the original Americans.

There are still pathogens attacking and killing primary tree species like Sudden Oak Death for oak, Emerald Ash Borer for ash and other species and another bug for Hickory.

The Emerald Ash Borer problem in the Detroit area, where it started from bugs contained in airplane shipping pallets, is so severe that Detroit is now burning infected ash in a power plant.  It appears that there will be a least some power available in areas of the country with a vulnerable tree stock.

Additional Nat Gas needed for Upgrading Heavy Oil/Bitumen

Once you have produced the bitumen/heavy oil, further upgrading is necessary to produce a synthetic light crude oil.

The Husky Oil Upgrader at Lloydminster provides brochures that can be downloaded.  They contain some interesting numbers:

  • Synthetic Crude Output 65,200 bbls/day
  • Natural Gas Usage 32 Million cf/day (enough to heat 50,000 homes)

This works out at an additional 500 cf Natural gas per barrel for upgrading, in addition to the numbers given by Heading Out at the top of the Post.


i used to live in upstate new york.
now i live in charlotte, north carolina.
the reason for my move was clear.
i did not want to freeze to death when oil and natural gas supplies became scarce.

if you have any sense of the laws of thermodynamics, then you will understand that it is far easier to survive the heat in this society than it is to survive the cold.

give up air conditioning during the summer ? no problem.
give up heating during the winter ? that is a different ballgame.

it takes a whole lot more energy to keep from freezing in the rust belt than it takes to die of heat stroke in the southeast.

if the northern lattitudes have, lets say, a normal winter of sub-zero temps for one month, then i believe you will see a lot of older people dying in their hundred year old apartments inside cities such as new york, chicago, phily,
detroit, and many others.

if the southern latitudes have a real hot summer, then you will see a lot of older people dying of heat stroke in uninsulated trailers and high-rise apartments.

however their is a big difference.

a lot more people live in old apartments in the north than do people living in trailers in the south.

when temperatures soar into the nineties and hundreds down south, and there is no a/c, then people will stay home in housing that is primarily built to stay cool.

most of the housing in the city of charlotte is old, and have many large trees for shade. they are made out of brick, and when combined with trees surrounding the home, they seldom allow the temp inside to exceed 80 degrees.

but, inside of the large cities of the north a frigid winter presents a whole different story.

boiler pipes freeze. skyscraper level apartment houses lose heat on an enormous scale. it takes only a few hours for an apartment or home in the north to lose heat that becomes life-threatening. you can not escape the cold.

when the last summertime blackout occured throughout the northeast, people climbed down stairs to spend the night in the lower levels of their skyscrapers, or to sleep on the sidewalks. they could escape the heat.

if, and when, a major blackout hits the southeast, then even the dumbest people will know enough to move outside into the shade and keep from dying of the heat.

when faced with these two extremes, and being powerless to change that fact with a simple twist of the thermostat, i believe the chances of survival in the southeast as opposed to the northeast is about ten to one.

there is an inescapable point to the laws of thermodynamics :  where there is heat, you can survive.
ask any arab.

where there is cold, you cannot escape it.
unless you have the skills of an eskimo, you will die in the cold.

when you cut down a tree, and use it for fuel, that tree is gone forever.

when you let a tree grow, it provides a good deal of shade.

for all of these reasons, and many more, i believe mr. kunstler is incorrect when he states that the northeast will be better off than the southeast during an energy starved future.

with three hundred million people and counting, i would put my money on dixie.

My mother just had an ICF (insulated concrete forms) house built in Canada. On a sunny day in winter the heating does not come on for much of the day no matter how cold it is outside. During the summer the house stays cool enough for comfort without air conditioning. A combination of good design and insulation can make a wide range of climates habitable without requiring high ongoing energy inputs.
In the North, if you're cold, you can put on more clothes.

In the South, if you're hot, there are only so many clothes you can take off.

Having grown up on the Florida Gulf Coast, I'm with the crew that says higher electric prices will act as a disincentive to living in the South.  I lived there when we didn't have AC too.  

Of course, if people want air conditioning, we'll just have to build more nuclear power plants to provide the juice.  Ground source or water source heat pumps are come into wider use too.