DrumBeat: July 27, 2006

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose] Articles moved under the fold.
[editor's note, by Prof. Goose] There's a news story hitting the wires about a leaked memo from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) which reveals that big coal is planning a major blitz against efforts to fight global warming. From Ross Gelbspan's blog on the DeSmogBlog (Link 1 and Link 2):
The plan is a retread of a similar campaign launched in the early 1990s by coal interests. The latest version is spelled out in what is dubbed a "Vampire Memo" because it resurrects an earlier campaign which was discredited and abandoned in the mid 1990s. It draws on the work of such industry-funded skeptics as Pat Michaels, Fred Singer, Robert Balling and Craig Idso -- as well as such ideologues as Richard Lindzen and William Gray who have long been laughingstocks in the community of mainstream climate scientists. It notes that the IREA alone has paid Michaels at least $100,000 -- and is soliciting more money for Michaels et al from other coal outlets. Among other initiatives, the memo notes that several of the participating companies are planning to finance a major film to counteract the influence of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."
[Update by Prof. Goose on 07/27/06 at 4:53 PM EDT] OPEC can't bring down prices: cartel president:
"There is no shortage in oil supply. The current geopolitical conditions are out of OPEC's hands," the visiting Nigerian petroleum minister was quoted as saying by the Iranian oil news agency Shana Thursday.
Exxon Mobil 2Q Profit Jumps 36 Percent
Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday it earned $10.36 billion in the second quarter, the second largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.

[Update by Super G on 07/27/06 at 5:00 PM EDT] Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) wants to rename the energy bill the The Lee R. Raymond Oil Profitability Act.

"While gas prices have soared, the Republican Congress has showered oil companies with special favors," The New Jersey lawmaker said in a statement. "These companies reap record profits while consumers struggle. Lee Raymond symbolizes the excesses of Big Oil, so this bill should carry his name."

Just a thought for today. What national organizations have actually recognized peak oil, but aren't really talking about it. I know Sierra Club here is well aware, so are most of the environmental folks. But it's not something you see in their pitches to people because they don't want to freak them out, but PO does not always fit into a pure environmental story, since Nuclear and Coal become pretty attractive unless you tie together global warming and ecosystem destruction....

What organizations do people know are at least aware of peak oil?

I know it has been discussed at gristmill from time to time.  They might be a little skeptical, but they had jumped to one core question: whether it would mean a reduction in greenhouse gases or a greater shift to coal and more/worse emissions.
It's mentioned on Treehugger from time to time too.
That's my point. The people who talk about PO don't have other pet issues that it might get in the way of.

For pro-environmentalists / democrats, PO means having to think long and hard about nukes and coal as alternatives to oil. But they have spent the last 40 years opposing both very strongly.

For pro-business republicans, they have been talking about technology and freemarkets for even longer. Moreover the oil and car industries underwrite much of the political lobby and advertising space (ala Westexas's Iron Triangle).

This is why (IMHO) despite a high level awareness generated out there, no one with a vested interest is really talking about PO.

This is pure "3 Days Of The Condor" stuff.

When people are hungry and cold, they're not going to ask where their energy is coming from or how or why....... No, toto(neila), humans are not smarter than yeast.

"This is pure "3 Days Of The Condor" stuff."

For added drama...



(youtube link)
I think the list would be a lot shorter if it included who didn't know about and wasn't talking about it!!

but PO does not always fit into a pure environmental story, since Nuclear and Coal become pretty attractive unless you tie together global warming and ecosystem destruction....

Unless??? Completing that would logically lead to a hundred mile march in support of More Breeder Reactors Now!

..or better, wind/solar/wave/geothermal + efficiency/conservation.
Right, this is more the angle that I was going for. PO + GW = Conservation + Efficiency + Renewables and probably some nukes, LNG, etc.

One of my fears is that if we wait too long, we will burn through the rest of the coal left in the ground really quickly, superheat the atmosphere and be no closer to sustainability.

peakguy I think you are right, that's what we'll do. Why? Because that's the path that requires the least real thought and planning, it's the plan that's the most yeastlike.
fleam, the path that is most yeast-like is to produce alcohol until it kills you. I kind of think ethanol fits the description!
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I'm a huge advocate for ethanol but is it true that it takes "1.3 gallons of oil to produce one gallon of ethanol?" (http://gog2g.com/2006/07/26/scary-statistic.aspx) That ratio is absurd and I'm wondering if there is any site which provides this statistic rather than relying on word of mouth.


Hi Jason, the best figure I've seen for corn EROEI is 1.5 : 1 (as opposed to the 1 : 1.3 you mention). Source.

Google TOD for RR (Robert Rapier) for tons of discssion on ethanol EROEI. I think he might allow a maximum of 1.2 : 1 :)

But even 1.2 : 1 is a 20% return! Most people would die for that (I wish my 401k was making 20%). Of course, you have to factor in the capital to make that 20% return happen. RR's point (I think) is that after you've done that then ethanol doesn't pay (before subsidies).

I have seen some believable numbers in the 1.5 range for ethanol plants located in the midst of local corn. I have some actual energy usage numbers for an ethanol plant in Illinois. The thing is, that 1.5 also includes animal feed byproducts as BTUs, and it does not consider certain BTU inputs (transportation, BTU inputs into building the plant, etc.). It also does not quantify topsoil mining and pesticides and herbicides that end up in waterways. Once all of that is factored in, the EROEI is very marginal.

The other thing to consider is the most effective usage of your BTUs. This is not investing, where a 20% return is fantastic. The BTU inputs could be directed toward other areas where the EROEI is much higher. A return of 20% means that you consumed 1 BTU just to net out 0.2. Just using gasoline as an example, directing that BTU toward gasoline would net out 4 BTUs.



The transition to low EROEI energy sources would also likely have ramifications for the structure of society affecting culture at every level.

Here is an article by Joseph Tainter et al. where they look at how communities of animals [not just humans] differ substantially depending on EROEI of energy sources.

Resource Transitions and Energy Gain: Contexts of Organization

It's not often that beavers, fungus farming ants and imperial Rome are mentioned in the same abstract!

Tainter, of course, is well-known for his book, "The Collapse of of Complex Societies". This is scholarly writing, however. Not a popular rant predicting the downfall of modern civilization. Tainter offers no predictions.

Tainter offers no predictions.

Not on a specific date or triggering event but he does say p209 of the 1988 hardcover edition :

Although collapse is an economic adjustment, it can nevertheless be devastating where much of the population does not have the opportunity or the ability to produce primary food ressources. Many contemporary societies, particularly those that are highly industrialized, obviously fall into this class.

Deals with the unfeasibility of powerdown, on p214 :

Here is the reason why proposals for economic undevelopment, for living in balance on a small planet, will not work...

Does not offer any kind of "solutions" but staying the course, on p215 :

A new energy subsidy is necessary if a declining standard of living an a future global collapse is to be averted.

And challenges the naysayers, on p216 :

However much we like to think of ourselves as something special in world history, in fact industrial societies are just subject to the same principles which caused earlier societies to collapse.

My underlining.

I hope we will prove him wrong but I have no "faith" in incantations and wishful thinking.

And it's the "decline in standard of living" that Americans fear more than death itself. Think about it, we're going to turn the Earth into another Venus before we'll accept a lower standard of living. The only thing that will prevent us from turning the Earth into another Venus is if it turns out we're not able to - a plague, a war, general starvation gets us first.

The biggest problem with the people discussing Peak Oil, and remember we're the free thinkers, the "early adopters", etc., the vanguard, is we're scared shitless by the idea of lowering our standard of living. So, the talk is of how to run our cars on other stuff, very very little discussion of getting rid of our cars.

Great quotations.  I agree, there is little in Tainter's, "Collapse" to provide comfort.
You want to know why the non-doomers among us here don't read it? Cause they know it will deep-six whatever "idea" they have about society adjusting to this other than "nuke their ass, take their gas."
He does offer non-doomers something. Not sure they would like it much though. i.e. One of his fundamentals is that societies are problem-solving entities and modern ones, in particular, have many resources to draw upon (for a while):

Both the primary and secondary world powers have sufficient economic strength to finance diminishing returns well into the future. As seen in the cases of the Romans and the Maya, peoples with sufficient incentives and/or economic reserves can endure declining marginal returns for centuries before their societies collapse

But then he adds in parentheses:

This fact, however, is no reason for complacency. Modern evolutionary processes, as is well known, occur at a faster rate than those of the past.

But the main theme of the book is that increasing socio-political complexity yielding diminishing returns is the immediate factor that produces the collapse. Not the energy shortfall.

This is not particularly comforting. According to Tainter (based on his historical studies), society will come alive in a flurry of activity. There will be plenty of "scanning behavior" to find solutions. New complex systems and regulations will address the energy problem. Coercion will be applied. Collapse postponed but not averted since there is no escape from the law of diminishing returns without a new energy subsidy.

But the upshot is that collapse comes, not because there is no gas for your car, but because you come to hate your country. ie. The burden society places on you to keep things going will make parts of society seek alternative arrangements to membership in the complex socio-political entities they belong to. Tainter wrote pre USSR breakup. But it illustrates things beautifully.

We may well find a much lower standard of living easy to bear compared to the incessant demands of the state as it stuggles to hold itself togther.

"But the main theme of the book is that increasing socio-political complexity yielding diminishing returns is the immediate factor that produces the collapse. Not the energy shortfall. "

That would seem to vindicate the old gold bugs - always supsicious of the fedz and stuff.

If not for Peak Energy and Matter, we would probably have a run-of-the-mill type of Depression like each of the past several centuries is my guess.

But because of Peak Energy and Matter, we will probably have run-of-the-mill Die Back this time...

Even if no one believes it before, during or after...

(Tick ... tick ... tick .. A saud said nasty stuff that sounded similar to what Osama's side-kick said today... (click those fucking heelz together NOW dorthy godzdammit! - LOL.)


"But the main theme of the book is that increasing socio-political complexity yielding diminishing returns is the immediate factor that produces the collapse. Not the energy shortfall. "

Good job in catching that.  What most people fail to notice in any "diminishing returns" theory is that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with oil depletion" or peak oil.

It is an absolutely fatalistic theory.  Fatalistic theories are easy to recognize:  They state as ABSOLUTE IRREFUTABLE FACT  (thus, they permit no difference or discourse, they are essentially absolutist, you either accept the idea one hundred percent, or your in denial)  that a. It's going to happen, b.  There is nothig you can do about it, and c.  The harder you try to do anything about it, the worse you will make it....change can only be negative.

Frankly, even if it's true, as an intellectual position, it's completely useless, because it gives no usable course of action.   It makes one think of the little negative sadsack robot in "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy",

"I would calculate your odds of survival, but you really don't want to know."

Perhaps true.  But completely useless.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

What most people fail to notice in any "diminishing returns" theory is that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with oil depletion" or peak oil.

depletion of ground oil fields -> deep water drilling less cost effective
depletion of light crude -> sour crude less cost effective
depletion of sour crude -> shale oil MUCH less cost effective
Is that "diminishing returns" or not?

"It is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

Frankly, even if it's true, as an intellectual position, it's completely useless, because it gives no usable course of action.

Tainter does not give any usable course of action.
But this is not a cult!
I am not a member of Tainter's Church and I doubt most readers of "The Collapse of Complex Societies" see themselves as cult followers.
This is only an usefull model of an existing state of affairs, and it stands quite well to scrutiny.
WE have to find an "usable course of action".
Expecting ready made answers from some "higher wisdom" or going into denial of inconvenient evidence (even if it's true!!!) is the hallmark of religious thinking, and, YES, religious thinking is one among the many hindrances and impediments faced by mankind to cope with such a challenging predicament.

Tainter is definitely saying that large socio-political entities eventually die. Their life-spans, however, are quite varied and subject to many factors, including the behavior of their members.

Roger, you and I shall die too. I'm not sure believing that makes us fatalists! There is so much that we can do with a reasonable chance of preserving and enhancing our individual lives.

Tainter gives us a lot of useful insight into how things work. And, at the very least, he may help us avoid promoting schemes that would shorten the life of the collective. Personally, I'm very comfortable with powerdown options. At some points in my life I've used 1/5 the energy (for years at a time) that I've used at other times. But Tainter gives me pause about the applicability of a policy of pre-crisis voluntary powerdown to the rest of society.

Another part of the fallacy is that a return of btus per btu invested is not the same as a return on dollars invested. One invests dollars with an expected return year after year.  Your return on btus with ethanol is a one time shot. Obviously, you never get a payback in your investment in the same sense that you would get a payback on a bond invested, for example.

It's like if you invested a dollar, tore that dollar up and then got excited because you earned 20 cents on that dollar. Great!  You now have 20 cents but no dollar. Go find another dollar to get another 20 cents.  Yep.  You really just can't pass that investment up.

Investing in infrastructure for ethanol, of course, is another story.  Who knows, you might get lucky, and get bailed out by the government.

 Forget my last post. I guess, in actuality you are getting payback in the sense that you started with 100 btus and ended up with 120 btus.  In any event, I don't think it makes sense to treat this like a 20% return in that the btus don't translate to financial flows.  The actual financial returns may be only tangentially related to the energy flows, considering capital costs, subsidies, operating costs, supply and demand, prices, etc.  
The problem is that there's a whole lot of labor to get that small return.  As Robert Rapier points out, there are much better alternatives as a society.  Of course, if you're a farmer looking for something to do to pay the bills, you won't think the same way.

Much better for farmers to get wind farms...

A better analogy would be under oil, you are working 40 hours/week and making 100k/year.  you spend it all and have a pretty comfy situation.  Under alcohol, you are working 40 hours/week and only making 20k/year.  Either you drastically cut back your lifestyle or drastically increase your working hours.  

Since you can't work 200 hours/week, your only choice is to drastically cut back your lifestyle.

Going to an alcohol based system may be possible, but only if we drive 10% of the miles we currently do.

There are also a lot of coal-fired ethanol plants. Basicly, two solid materials are used to make one liquid.
Corn,  WATER, and Heat.(in the simplist of terms)    So it would be two solids and LOTS of water to fuel our cars.

But there is no water shortage, right?

Don't mention tar sands...gads.   Can you say rivers running dry?

It's all about population!

The wide range of estimates comes from how energy inputs are estimated (it's not at all obvious). Pimentel and Patzek are among the most pessimistic: according to the Science article below, they do use outdated productin techniques, rely on very poorly documented data, and do not credit ethanol coproducts with any of the input energy. This is probably the most comprehensive study so far.  It's just a press release, but they provide a link to a model, and details are in Farrell et al., Science, 311. 506 - 508 (2006).  They find that ethanol provides a net gain of 1-5  MJ/l, depending on how much coal is used in generation.  Cellulosic can provide much more, if that ever makes it out of the lab.
You're right.  Cellulosic ethanol can provide much more.

But it's not a question of 'IF' 2nd generation production paths make it out of the lab but rather 'WHEN' they do.

For further details, Drummers are invited to www.syntecbiofuel.com

But it's not a question of 'IF' 2nd generation production paths make it out of the lab but rather 'WHEN' they do.

Not holding my breath, but I hope you're right.  Could use some of that algal biod in my VW.  Won't solve the problem,  but it will help.

For ethanol from corn in the USA, the most important statistic is: If all corn grown in this country were converted to ethanol, it would provide less than 15% of our motor fuel.  Where are you going to get the other 85%?
Konrad Imielinski just published a post looking more in-depth to the EROEI of ethanol. Suprised by the detail Pimentel uses in calculating his results, he really is disgusted with ethanol. The positive net energy sources out number the negative, but that doesn't mean their correct.


For a definitive assessment of the value of ethanol and methanol please go to the following web site:

Here is the abstract:

This paper analyses energy efficiency of the industrial corn-ethanol cycle and brackets energy efficiency of the switchgrass-cellulosic ethanol cycle. IN particular, it critically evaluates the publications by Farrell et al. (2006a; 2006c) and Shapouri, Wang, et al. (Wang, 2001; Shapouri et al., 2002; Shapouri et al., 2003; Shapouri and McAloon, 2004). It is demonstrated that in a net-energy analysis of the industrial corn-ethanol cycle (Farrell et al., 2006a; Farrell et al., 2006c) did not (i) define system boundaries, (ii) conserve mass, and (iii) conserve energy.
As already pointed out in (Patzek, 2004), most of the current First Law net-energy models of the industrial corn-ethanol cycle are based on nonphysical assumptions and should be discarded. The energy cost of producing and refining carbon fuels in real time, e.g., corn and ethanol, is high relative to that of fossil fuels deposited and concentrated over geological time. Proper mass and energy balances of corn fields and ethanol refineries that account for the photosynthetic energy, part of the environment restoration work, and the coproduct energy have been formulated. These balances show that energetically production of ethanol from corn is 2 - 4 times less favorable than production of gasoline from petroleum. From thermodynamics it also follows that ecological damage wrought by industrial biofuel production must be severe, see also (Patzek, 2004; Patzek and Pimentel, 2006). With maximum theoretical yield of ethanol and the DDGS coproduct energy credit, 3.9 gallons of ethanol displace on average the energy in 1 gallon of gasoline. Without the DDGS energy credit, this average number is 6.2 gallons of ethanol. Equivalent CO2 emissions from corn ethanol are 50% higher than those from gasoline, and become 100% higher if methane emissions from cows fed DDGS are accounted for.

The U.S. ethanol industry has consistently inflated its ethanol yields by counting 5 volume percent of #14 gasoline denaturant (8% of energy content) as ethanol. Also, imports from Brazil and higher alcohols seem to have been counted as U.S. ethanol. A detailed analysis of 778 samples of 401 corn hybrids reveals that the highest possible yield of ethanol is 2.64 plus or minus 0.05 gal ethanol/per nominal wet bushel of corn. The commonly accepted USDA estimate of mean ethanol yield in the U.S., 2.682 gal EtOH/bu, is one standard deviation above the rigorous statistical estimate in this paper. From a mass balance of soil (Patzek, 2004), it follows that ethanol coproducts should be returned to the fields.

The energy efficiency of current cellulosic ethanol production is poorer than that of any other industrially produced liquid biofuel (Patzek and Pimentel, 2006).

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Turning plants such as corn, soybeans and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a new Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study.

"There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel," says David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell. "These strategies are not sustainable."

Pimentel and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley, conducted a detailed analysis of the energy input-yield ratios of producing ethanol from corn, switch grass and wood biomass as well as for producing biodiesel from soybean and sunflower plants. Their report is published in Natural Resources Research (Vol. 14:1, 65-76).

In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:

corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:

soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

This should put to rest the pipedream known as biofuels.

Now, an explanation:

The point should not be to rush around trying to figure out how we can continue the ridiculous automobile insanity, but how we can stop the paradigm of the murderous suburban nightmare as quickly as possible.

The Nutters of the world will pooh pooh the idea that peak is NOW or even a few years away, using that as an excuse for business as usual. They are the paid hacks of the science world, the same bought-and-paid-for "scientists" who tried to confuse the science that said cigarettes cause health problems, the same weasels who now try to insert themselves into the global warming science in order to confuse the hoi polloi.

Ignore the Nutters. We will run out. We will. That is simply a fact. If you look at the Limits to Growth study and its followup projections you can see that we are in deep trouble, even if we were to somehow develop easy cheap fusion, we would still be in overshoot. Why? Because we need other things besides energy to survive as an ever-growing species. We need arable land which is disappearing under the ravages of the so-called "green revolution;" we need fresh water and that is disappearing as well; we need unpolluted resources and that is disapearing as well; we need plankton and that is disappearing; we need the Amazonian rainforest and some scientists fear that a third year of drought will cause it to die, yes, die in a couple of years becoming desert in a few more.

Step out of your niche specialties people and see that while peak oil is important, it becomes even more important when put into holistic context. We need what is left of the cheap fossil fuel to de-industrialize.

I am a doomer not only because of the obvious dislocation that a sudden stoppage in oil flow would cause, but because I know this era for what it is a ruinous experiment known as the industrial period. This devastating and obscene bacchanal is resulting in a monstrous dieoff that is greater in scope than the last massive dieoff marked by the KT boundary.

With that in mind, perhaps people can see why I become angry, rude and often vicious when dealing with people who are only concerned with how to best keep our cancerous industrial society humming. In my view these people are Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mengele, Satan, Mohammed Atta, Custer, and any other life-hating thug you can think of, combined. The industrial apologists are advocating for nothing less than the extinction of the human race. The most frustrating problem is they are incapable of seeing this as they are too enamored of human "genius."

The science behind all of this is out there readily available to any who would take the time to research.

I know that many will pooh-pooh the Limits to Growth even though the scientists behind the book are recognized around the world for their credentials, acumen, careful methodologies, and painstaking research.
For those of you who insist on not reading the book, I suggest you check out Matthew Simmons take on the book:


For a couple of extinction sites, I suggest these:

http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/major-species-extinction-looming-scientists-warn/article-1 56865

For arable land problems:


For fresh water problems:


For the population problem:


For the collapse of the oceans:


in other words it's time to take up your ancestory, that is to be a generalist
If one has a very good idea as to where we are headed and one continues to play the short term politics of denial and promises that ethanol and hydrogen will let us continue as before, then one is bascially saying that it is ok to write off future generations and the planet which has sustained us for thousands of years. Based on that, you can pretty much put Bush, for example, in the camp of those who engaged in massive genocide in the past.

The possible problem with this theory is that Hitler, for example, knew what he was doing.  Bush may still be so misinformed that he doesn't realize that he is part of the cabal that is sealing our doom.  This is why Bush gets a free ride on so many issues; if you are perceived as dumb as dirt, then people tend to give you a pass.

The basic reality here is that one will not find any politician who will admit that growth economics must cease if we are to have a habitable planet in the future.  There is no hope from either party -- none.  Even Gore continues the myth that we can continue to grow and fix global warming at the same time.  Even if doesn't really take this problem seriously. Yes, he drives a hybrid, but it is a Lexus.  Better that he would move to a community where he didn't need to drive. Better that he would make at least a statement and take trains or buses across the country.  He's got his movie to do the talking now.  Perhaps he should just stay home for awhile, tend his garden, and think deeply about the mixed messages he is sending.  

Based on that, you can pretty much put Bush, for example, in the camp of those who engaged in massive genocide in the past.

Yes, but the damage began before Bush and will continue thereafter (with or without a Cheney, that's not the point).

How Will the Sixth Extinction Affect the Evolution of Species?.

But this is not only a matter of "species", quoting from the above link :

Episodes of mass extinction documented in the geological record were followed by protracted intervals of rediversification and ecological reorganization; five million years can be considered a broadly representative recovery time, although durations varied from one extinction to another. Suppose, too, that the average number of people on Earth during the recovery period is 2.5 billion (by contrast with the 6 billion today). Under these conditions, the total number of people affected by what we do (or do not do) during the next few decades will be in the order of 500 trillion.

Even if mankind does not get extinct and one does not care about "animals", messing with the lives of 500 trillion people and screwing up the whole stage for about 5 million years is no small deal, is it?

As I already suggested may be we should ponder this a little bit :

What normative duties do we owe to future generations? [PDF]

From Theodore P. Seto

I'm sorry but there's nothing 'definitive' about Patzek's and Pimental's work.

They do not take into consideration thermo-chemical conversion of renewable waste feedstocks, new technologies or cogen facilitation.

A few interesting articles for today...

A nice article on the maturation of Matt Simmons by Jan Lundberg of Culture Change (posted on the Energy Pulse website)

Business Week wonders Would $100 per barrel oil slam the world economy?. They also make seven predictions if oil reaches $100 per barrel (Note Business Week says "if". TODers undoubtedly would say "when"!)

Related to $100/barrel oil... I have a personal story to relate about how the price of gas is affecting people.  The following is a story that happened yesterday at a community hospital where my husband works:  A middle aged man came into the ER with a broken wrist.  He was evaluated and advised to go to an orthopedic specialist 45 miles away.  He said that he would not be able to because of the price of gas.  The group of employees working in the ER took up a collection and gave him a cash card for gas.  My question to pose to you thinkers, is, as gas prices go up, what is the answer to these situations?  Will the government ignore these problems because the local charities will do the job?  Will taxes be raised to maintain our standard of health care and entitlements?  Ideas?
IMHO, Barbara Bush already answered this question with regard to stranded Katrina victims: "They're doing as best as they can for themselves, Deary."

IOW, if you're stranded, you're on your own.

From today's Denver Post:
Sizzling oil will fry us
Oil at $100 a barrel and $4 a gallon would give many Americans legs more suited to the lily pond.


Think I'll change my name to "Kermit".  It's not easy being green........ ;-)

I've been reading this site for about two months now, and it's the only thing that really gets me through my work day.  I'm a petroleum engineering student in the midwest, and I'm at the point in my academic career where I'm trying to decide what to minor in, since I came to college as a second semester sophmore, credit-hour wise.  I've been juggling around geology, economics, and business as possible minors, and I've got geology 1 and macro-economics on my schedule for next semester.  Thanks for any suggestions or advice!
I just hope that the angry soccer moms don't burn your house down.   I would specialize in the heavy end of the fossil fuel spectrum, bitumen and coal (and perhaps some day shale oil).  
Ah, come on.  Some one has to drill for the oil so the soccer moms can fuel their minivans :P
A petroleum engineer with some econ sounds like many around here.  Wait no, we've got the jack of all trade's here.
That's what I've been leaning towards.  I have a majority of immediate family members that do alot with either economics or accounting, so i guess i've got some numbers in my blood.

Westexas:  They've been preaching shale in the PE classes i've had so far.  Esp. the importance of the Barnett Shale.

I should have mentioned unconventional gas, but as I said--provided you are not attacked by a horde of angry soccer moms--your future, IMO, is pretty bright.
Richard Rainwater, one of the richest people in the world, is learning how to grow his own food...
I actually heard he was studying to be a plumber. When the apocalypse comes and billionaires can't hire help to plant carrots, they will also have to fix their own crappers (unless the butler(s) also had the training.)
Weird, Stuart says it's a "waste of time."

Stu, care to comment on this one? Seriously. The man has $500 million sitting in cold hard cash - let me repeat that "$500 million in cold hard cash " and yet he is growing his own food.

No offense but in regards to the usefullness of food production, somebody here has it ass-backwards: you or Rainwater and I'm not betting against a man who:

A. is worth $2 billion and

B. (let me say it again) has "500 million in cold hard cash."

If I had $500M I'd be also able to afford living in my ranch and doing whatever I choose to, like to, or find fashionable. Unfortunately I don't and therefore I need to go to work, after  which I have too little time to waste for things that don't suit me.

For the record I've done gardening for several years in life and I definately hated it. Whoever finds it's good for him/her - let them go for it. But I find it very shortsighted to assume this is good for everyone.

Not saying "it's good for everyone", saying "it's not a waste of time."
Agreed. George Eastman, founder of Kodak, bought a bad batch of gelatin from Germany in his early years in the business. A lot of film went bad, and he decided to be totally self-sufficient thereafter.

His house, in the middle of Rochester NY, is now a photography musem. It has foot-thick fireproof walls. He drilled his own well, kept cows in the side yard, and had a huge meat commercial freezer. The Kodak company refused to borrow any money for the first 100 or so years of its existence.

He did not have to do any of this. But he chose to, and it worked for him. (Until, as an old man, he committed suicide, leaving a note: "My work is done. Why wait?")

If you don't really enjoy it as a hobby and it will take you away from things that you like better/or be more productive - it is a waste time.
It is often said that advice freely offered is worth no more than that.  However, I will venture a thought.  Life in a world of past-peak water -- we're there now -- may well concentrate on finding, transporting, purifying and/or desalinizing water.  I would suggest such areas as geology with emphasis on hydrology, as well as bacteriolgy.  Systems for conserving/restricting water use and restoration of aquifers have both a technical and a political content.  Some years ago an idea was "floated" to capture and tow icebergs to points where they could be melted into public water supplies.  

Obviously, as we enter the downslope phase of past-peak oil, whenever that happens (or happened), the emphasis is likely to have several options including continued exploration, squeezing what is possible from existing fields, and bitumen-to-liquid processes using coal, shale, lignite and perhaps even peat.  All of this must be balanced against environmental concerns, including that of climate change.

I think it's going to be a bumpy ride: enjoy it if you can!


  I have seen several mentions of "peak water".  I buy PO coal copper gold etc, but water? The earth is covered with it and with GW more heat evaporates more salt water to rain down fresh water.  Yes certain areas of the world have supply problems but if people quit watering lawns and washing vehicles and flushing 5 gallons of potable every time they piss would there still be a problem?  Peak anything only applies to a consumable nonrenewable resource.  Water is renewable and recyclable.  In the places where water is scarce solar stills recycle it easily.
Hello Matt:

Water tables of major underground supplies around the globe are declining at a rapid rate (See Brown, "Plan B 2.0, chapter 3)  Some of these are "fossil" aquifers, non-renewable short of the next glacial cycle, such as the Oglalla in the US, the deep aquifer in the North China Plain, and one below the oil in Saudi Arabia.  All three have been severely drawn down.  Most others are technically renewable, but are being overpunped, some massively, because of even minimal needs of the people living there.  These are mostly people who don't have cars to wash, lawns to water or toilets to flush, and who will die or migrate when their wells go dry.  Natural recharge is just not keeping up.  Artificial recharge has been useful in the Grand Prairie region in Arkansas for the past half-century, but it is costly and it portends a salt problem.   Renewability is relative.  Conservation will help a bit, but the only real change will come from reversing population growth.  It takes a thousand tons of water to grow a ton of grain, and I'd rather have that corn to eat than as alcohol in my tank.

-- Mort.

I don't know of ANY large metropolitan area in the US that does not have serious problems with potable water either now, or anticipates having them within 20-30 years. I have heard that New York might be an exception to this, but I haven't heard much about it...
While it's true if we didn't waste so much many of these problems might never appear or go away, it's a lot easier to dream about people not watering their lawn every other day and not washing their car once a week than actually getting people to do it (just like trying to get people to conserve oil....)
Konrad Imielinski just published a post looking more in-depth to the EROEI of ethanol. Suprised by the detail Pimentel uses in calculating his results, he really is disgusted with ethanol. The positive net energy sources out number the negative, but that doesn't mean their correct.

sorry for triple posting

I call BS on this. To use a single 1984 study that claims sugar cane to ethanol has a net energy return in the range of corn is is a gross misrepresentation caused by ignorance or bad intentions.

While there are only a few recent studies on the EROIE of sugar cane, they are in the range of plus 8-10 and have been accepted by the World Bank, World Watch Institute, German and Brazilian governmnets, IEA, etc.

Kondrad should be embarrassed by the poor quality of his work which makes the site a mockery.

I ask again, can you tell me where these studies are and if they refer to sugar from manual labor or sugar from tractors?
I do not water my lawn.  I do not wash my car, why bother the rain will sooner or later.  If I grow a garden and I have not this year to much moving going on, though I did have several nice herbs from last year, I use rain water stored.  Not everyone can get water from rain, it is not pure and should be filtered for drinking.  The Ground Water has filtered through many feet of dirt and has settled in areas where we have been using it for everything.  Water is in fact a renewable resource.  Cleaning the water to keep us in good health does become an issue.  When I had kidney stones last year my doctor said, 64 ounces of water a day.  One half a gallon.  I filter most of my water when I lived in Huntsville Alabama, mine needed it out of the tap.  Huntsville had a spring that fed water to most of the town up until a century ago. It still runs, but the population can't get enough.  

We will have to come up with better policies to handle water use very soon.  Cities or fields?  My pool or my drinking cup?  Filtered Or from the sky?  We are a 6.5 billion people strong that drink and waste that water everyday.  Recycling it is the only way we can live.  

Rain storms clean the air out, they filter the sky above and bring out the smog and let you feel it on your face.  Please filter it before you drink it.  

Again, it's cheap clean water that's getting scarce.  Sure you can put up desalination plants, tow icebergs from the Arctic (that has been seriously suggested), pump water from the GoM to irrigate the Great Plains (also seriously suggested), all these things are expensive, in both money and energy. And for what? Green lawns in summer big enough to need a riding mower? Swimming pools in the back yard? Golf courses in the desert? What are our priorities?

GW will redistribute water, in both space (some areas dry out, others get wetter) and time: regions depending on snow melt will have problems. Also, the warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold.  Did you know that the atmosphere over the US holds about 6 times as much water as all the surface water (rivers and lakes) in the US combined?

it's not all water. it should be called peak Fresh water.
natural sources are being destoryed at a alarming rate, maney experts from scientests to people in the pentagon realize that it will be so much of a problem countrys will start wars over accsess to fresh water.
but water? The earth is covered with it

Yes, but it is not potable.

That is what you want to find - a way to control potable water. Look at Iraq - a large source of fresh potable water. And the parts of lebenon being invaded - a potable watershed of importance in the region.

I think you are reaching for water as a source of conflict in Iraq or lebanon.  Clearly Oil ranks orders of magnitude above democracy which is orders of magnitude above water.  water is still cheaper than oil.  I went through survival trainin in the desert and you can make potable water where you cant find it. Every desert has water.  Move at night sleep in the day never waste a drop.  Think about how much water is wasted in all aspects of our lives.  We are never going to run out but we will be forced to change our ways.  Oil is not being produced so we will eventually run out completely different scenario.  I am not dismissing water as a problem only saying if your water is shut off and you are thirsty you will drink out of the toilet tank until you have to drink from the toilet then you will blot up morning dew with a cloth and ring it into your mouth.  I have been thirsty before.
I think you are reaching for water as a source of conflict in Iraq or lebanon. Clearly Oil ranks orders of magnitude above democracy which is orders of magnitude above water. water is still cheaper than oil.

1) Water is $1 a 16 oz bottle in the stores
2) 'the source of conflict' - So Iraq was billed as 'WMD' and the latest Iseral shooting features claims of 'a cross boarder kidnapping' (or was it IDFers in lebenon?)

At TOD, oil is the lens we look at the world, so water isn't a focus. But the watershed of Iraq DOES matter. Same with the water resources of Lebenon.

Think about how much water is wasted in all aspects of our lives.
Ha! I use so little water that the remote meter powered by water use doesn't activate. I'd have a greywater system, but I have no land/crop locally to PUT the grey water on. Stainless steel piping to capture rainwarer in't cheap BTW.

Iraq is about OIL.  It is also an artificial front for the war on terror, though I would argue the intellegience of that strategy.  Hezbollah and Hamas are about the destruction of Israel as is Syria and Iran.  If you spread cow manure on the ground plant seeds and water most plants prosper.  If you take dejected youth place them in poverty and subject them to religous fundamentalism you get terrorists.  We are losing the hearts and minds aspect.  Kill every last muslim or reign in Israel and support policys to improve quality of life and we could win this.  

I agree every commodity has value, but if Israelis were "capturing" a watershed why wouldn't Hezbollah poison it?  It would be an easy task if they piped out lebanons water.  

I'm going to bed...I pity every Israeli family that has lived in a bomb shelter for the past few weeks and every lebanese family who has had their whole world ravaged.  

I stand by my sentiments, H2O is the least of our worries.

I stand by my sentiments, H2O is the least of our worries.

Maybe time to question your sentiments and get some facts. Aquifer/River depletion is up there with depletion of oil and topsoil. IMHO :)

Fair enough....but what pumps all that water from the rivers and aquifers?  Energy.  If we run out of that then the limiting factor is the pumping not the pumped.  And I live in FL and Brazil with a 50/50 split neither of which are hurting for water.  

My original claim is supported water is renewable oil is not.  Topsoil is also renewable.

So IMHO you should present facts to the otherwise.  Bird flu theoretically is a threat but I am more interseted in energy rates and interest rates.  They change my life.  

My advice is to minor in speech and drama.

To succeed in life it helps to think clearly and to be able to present your ideas in a convincing way in public.

The two most important classes I've ever taken are

  1. Algebra
  2. Acting.

Of these two, acting has had the larger return on investment. Plus, I always have my vaudeville routines to turn to just in case civilization as we know it does come crashing down.

Singing, poetry, art and drama are some cultural universals that make humans what we are.

   I'll second your Algebra, but add in arts and crafts.  I have had to cut and paste (literally and figuratively) so much since being employed in the "real world".  
Don, I sometimes wonder if your presence here on TOD is an act: you've read everything, know everything and everyone, score with no problem, sail, cook etc to perfection. I do enjoy the majority of your posts however; so maybe you're a good actor? :)
I am a superlative actor.

Indeed, it has been said that I am an alien from outer space, an anthropologist sent to study humans through participant observation. Now, if that rumor were true, would I tell you?

Believe nothing I say that you cannot independently (and easily) verify.

Of course, I apply that same rule to every post.

Believe nothing I say that you cannot independently (and easily) verify.

At last!
You admit!
We can junk it all except for the fun.

Don, I sometimes wonder if your presence here on TOD is an act:

*clap* *clap*
You figured that out. The 'I have God Clearence' was what pushed it over the edge. That and an unwillingness to say 'I was wrong'.

have you considered trying whiskey?
Whiskey is hard to make if you want Jack Daniels quality. Moonshine is easy, and you can use it to fuel your car--straight 160 proof moonshine works fine in flex-fuel cars.

I hoard high quality red wines and a variety of liquors for trade goods, and also because (I confess) I'm a beverage snob.

On the theme of "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker," Matt, do note that 151 proof Bacardi rum can ignite most anybody . . . um . . . make that "anything."   :-)

Sadly I can agree on the 151...
I read some woman in Miami is suing Bacardi for that very reason...she got burnt in a bar during a promotion.
This dredges up an old memory - the first time I borrowed my mom's truck as a young lad, to go to a new year's eve party.  When I awoke the next morning at my friend's house, the temp outside was touching -50 celcius.  One try at turning the motor over and it was clear what had to be done.  Pop the hood, open the carburator, and pour in 151 just as someone else was turning the key.  For those in similar situations interested in trying this technique, when doing this be sure to keep all body parts away from the area just above the opened carb.  Hey, it kept me out of trouble that day...
"When I awoke the next morning at my friend's house, the temp outside was touching -50 celcius.  One try at turning the motor over and it was clear what had to be done."

Yeah, turning around and going back to sleep.  I can't imagine the horrible noises that thing must have made.  At temperatures like that, the oil in the pan must have been a thick goo.  You probably put the equivalent of about 30,000 miles of wear on it that morning.

Whiskey is hard to make if you want Jack Daniels quality.

With global warming, they will loose there ability to make product like many are used to.   The keys are re-use of the mash and having the correct alcohol %age so you extract the 'correct' sugars/flavors from the wood.  

Moonshine is easy,


Public-Choice Political Economy and Political Science

If you want to know why policy gets enacted and why governments do what they do you have to understand who the politial actors are, where their interests lie, how they use ideology to justify what they do, and how they are organized. Understanding human society at the macro level is more than just comparing us to ants or chimps -- it's about understanding the institutional software that governs human societies.

There is a tendency here to look down on politics and those who study it -- but politics is everything. In the words of Leonard Cohen -- it's the bitch who determines who will serve and who will eat.  

more than just comparing us to ants or chimps

Despite my occasional flinging of the monkey poop around here, I totally agree.

Did you see this morning's Senate debate on offshore drilling?

What pre-programmed political machinery is it that drives the Senate to jump on the ethanol band wagon? I think I heard Sen. Brownback of Kansas mention that "Bill Gates" is all behind ethanol and then he mentioned another guy (was it Vinohd K?) but the kids were making noise in the kitchen --so missed it-

Politicians are programed to get elected and re-elected, to do so requires some combination of special-interest support and ideological positioning to maximize votes. Furthermore, politicians have a limited amount of time to learn about issues -- they aren't specialists, and those most likely to organize politically are the relatively small interest groups with large vested interests in various public-policy issues. Thus, politicians seek votes and those that they perceive as most likely to give it to them (either directly or through cash contributions) are the organized interest groups that want to subvert public policy for their own ends.

This is how the system 'works'. Bad public policy is the rule, not the exception to it.

Politicians  -- they aren't specialists,

Actually. They are.
Like you said: "to get elected and re-elected"

The "Guns of August" Meme Rolls On

Good article by Tom Whipple:


No takers. I'm surprised. I'll put forward that this is definitely not the right analogy, Texas. You need to read   "Europe's Last Summer" by Fromkin. I'm serious. You need to read that. Have your Tuckman handy for reference, though.

I always liked her treatment of Stilwell. "Vinegar Joe."

You need to also read "The Peace To End All Peace" by Fromkin.

And you need to read these too, FLEAM.

People are going to go completely nuts when they can't get their cheap energy fix.  I have no problem with those with disabilities using scooters on sidewalks but according to this Wall Street Journal article, more and more of the scooters are being used by people who just don't want to expend the effort to put one foot in front of the other.

On a recent afternoon at Walt Disney World, Dennis Robles was cruising around on an electric "mobility scooter" that the park usually rents out to people with disabilities. Mr. Robles doesn't have a problem walking -- he says he was simply saving up energy for late-night dancing.

"I'm pretty healthy," says the 37-year-old truck driver from Brooklyn, N.Y. "Just lazy, I guess."

The power scooter is an increasingly ubiquitous sight, with an estimated 1.2 million in use nationwide. But while the $1,000-plus vehicles have been hailed as a boon for the infirm and the elderly, they are now finding a new constituency: able-bodied people who simply don't feel like walking. In addition to theme parks like Dollywood and Minnesota's giant Mall of America, the scooters are popping up everywhere from Las Vegas casinos to grocery stores. When scooter demand outstrips supply at Wal-Mart, greeters "evaluate the situation" and make sure that people using the scooters can demonstrate a legitimate need, according to a company spokesman.


I suppose you could look at it as a $1000 electric car... :)

Around here I see people riding small slow electric motorcycles on the sidewalk. Under the law here (Ontario Canada) these bikes are illegal as sold due to missing saftey features, and it's illegal to ride a motorcyle on the sidewalk, you need a plate and a motorcyle lic. etc etc.

When I asked a clerk in a store that sells them they said: "Oh, don't worry, legally they are just like an electric whellchair" (I find no law to support that position, but there ya go.)

I guess on private property like a store or Wally World its up to the property owner to decide where they want to allow small electric cars to be driven. On the public roads I say treat them like a car and require them to meet the same saftey regs and restrictions i.e. plate, insurance etc etc.

In most parts of the USA anything that can't go 30mph counts as a moped, and so has much less regulation than a motorcycle or a scooter, and may even only be classified as a bicycle.
Interestingly, at the Oil Depletion Protocol site that "Postcarbon" runs visable here:


we find this section under transportation options (my bold):

Change your mode of transportation

Begin a quantitative assessment of your use of petroleum for transportation. Keep track of how much fuel you use each month by car, and how many miles you travel by plane. Reduce your driving by doing the following:

  • trade in your vehicle for a smaller and more fuel-efficient one
  • commit to taking local transit one day per week and gradually work up to more days
  • purchase an electric scooter
  • ride your bike one or more days per week
  • join or start a carpool
  • join a car cooperative
  • group errands together so you make less trips in your vehicle

Whatever changes you decide to implement, work out a schedule so you are properly prepared for changes in travel time.

Ummm... why do they not mention walking?

This is a good place to repeat a rant- one I think is actually close to an important observation of a VERY inconvenient truth.

 I had the misfortune this morning to  go to town to buy a coil of tubing to make my well water recirculating cooler for my house.  What I observed;
1) All cars had only one person in them (mine too)
2)Almost all people I met were VERY FAT

  1. The store was crammed with absolute crap of the kind that never should have been made and certainly never shipped all the way from china (eg-fuzzy rabbits, hair smellers, things that take batteries and make little squeaks, big plastic blow up widgets, one shot-drop-dead record players----).
  2. There was no way for somebody walking to get to that store without being roadkill.
5)There were ranks of soda pop cooling machines outside in the heat, sucking up kilowatts and doing not a damn thing but making the fat people fatter and spreading aluminum entropy far and wide.
6) The street was lined both sides with big coal power-gobbling signs demanding people swill up moreandmore of the planet fasterandfaster.

You get the picture;  I am guessing practically everybody here  has seen more of this than I have.

So I ask myself.  What am I, a DNA-destined gadget maker, doing?  What if I actually succeeded perfectly, and suddenly everybody I saw on that street could be riding on a flood of nice clean solar energy?

What they would do with that energy is what I saw them doing. I am working to do THAT???

I THINK WE NEED A NEW SPECIES.  Sorry about that.

Great post! I was at our local street fair last night, a pretty thin population for Americans because so many are recent immigrants, Asians Indians etc. and a lot of the whites you find are Euros once they open their mouths. But still a LOT of really large people. And all eating like mad! Well, it was probably ppl's dinner, and I'd just finished eating like mad over at Pho' Nam, so I can't criticize but it was still quite a sight.

You're describing the average scene in any Wally's, Target, etc biggie supermall in the Empire, we need to look at this stuff with fresh eyes, and Kunstler's rantings only begin to cover it.

No need to say your sorry, very nice rant IMO.

You'll get a warm fuzzy feeling from the money and energy you'll save with your home made recirculating cooler.

Someone else will get a warm fuzzy feeling from feeling a warm fuzzy thing with big ears they bought 2 isles over from the copper tube section.

Some worker in Outer Mongolia is rather warm and fuzzy because they work in a 18 hours a day in some sweatshop making fuzzy things, and its so humid in there that there is mold growing on him.

It all sort of fits together somehow in my mind.

Excuse me, my beer is empty, I'll be back in a minute...


Welcome to the US of A.  I hate to admit it, but we're waddling, ignorant, complacent energy pigs.  

I'm an optimistic person, truly, the world could change in the snap of one's fingers.  But where is the will?

I can be positive in the abstract, but when I step out out into the 'real world', I am confronted with a reality such as you describe...

The negative momentum and the lack of willingness, the sheer physical impossibleness, of change, does not give me hope...


Looks like Chris Skrebosoky (sp) agrees with Westexas re. effect of large Producers own consumption. In his ASPO 6 presentation says "The wild card Oil Producers own Consumption. Opec Russia and Mexico internal consumption + 4%."  
Forgot most important statment Chris S. Make in previous post.  

"Oil supply in international trade may peak earlier then the oil production peak."

"Oil supply in international trade may peak earlier then the oil production peak."

I would substitute "may" with "will."  Even if Chris is right about the world peak (which I doubt), for all intents and purposes, from the importers' point of view we are past peak, IMO.

Westexas. I notice you are fond of quoting Andrew McKillop. I have been reading his stuff for a while now and so far he has been right on as far as the economy goes. Have you read his book "The Final Energy Crisis" and if so did you find it helpful in understanding his reasoning? I have a hard time following his reasoning perhaps because it seems so counterintutive, at least to me.
"I have a hard time following his reasoning perhaps because it seems so counterintuitive, at least to me."

I haven't read his book; I have only read his articles.   I think that his chief point is that prior recessions, that correlated to oil prices shocks, were actually caused by interest rate increases.  His point is that we have to see very high oil prices--$100 plus in today's dollars--before we see significant reductions in demand and an economic contraction.

He has stated that the post-peak economic contraction will actually be worse, because of the economic expansion preceding the bust--sort of the light bulb burning brightest right before it goes out.  

McKillop's articles on the EB:

http://www.energybulletin.net/news.php?author=andrew+mckillop&keywords=&cat=0&action=sea rch

Natural Gas weekly storage showed a decline of 7 billion cubic feet this week. This is very unusual. the summer months, even the extremely hot months, usually show a build in the summer.

This could be an ominous sign. Natural gas dry production peaked in 1972, then reached a secondary but lower peak in 2001. Natural gas production in 2005 was down 7.5% verses 2001. However it is down a whopping 3% for the first four months of 2006 verses the same period for 2005. That is for dry production but gross withdrawals are about the same.

People who do not see a natural gas crisis coming are totally f***ing blind! The reason it is not so obvious however is because of demand destruction. Most industries that use natural gas as a feedstock, like nitrogen fertilizer production, have either just closed up shop or moved to countries where natural gas is much cheaper and much more abundant.

Natural gas is up about 21 cents so far, trading at $7.10. But it is fluctuating quite erratically.

natural gas is good because you can easy vary the load .. to match demand (electricity). With record power use in USA no doubt this has been happening ..

Matt Simmons has basically been saying we have been in for a supply crunch for a few years now. And it has not happened. Was predicted again last winter, but as we know, the winter was very mild.

Dukey, natural gas is not good, well not in good shape anyway. The supply is dropping gradually but surely. Gas is not just used for generating electricity, it is used for industrial feed stock, but it is used mostly for heating in the winter.

We have survived a natural gas crisis because of the closing of plants that use natural gas for feed stock. They have either closed down or moved offshore. People who heat with gas cannot move offshore or close down.

The average build in natural gas stocks for week 30 of the year, during the last five years, has been 61 BCF. This year, instead of a build we had a draw-down of 7 BCF. This is big.

But the point is, natural gas extraction is in decline and the decline rate seems to be accelerating. This will eventually put a bigger load on coal which is much more polluting than natural gas.

How much do you think arbitraging may affect storage.  Storage is high and there is not a rush to fill before winter.  The spot price during the week of July 14 through July 21 tended to be significantly higher than the forward price, thus providing significant gains by selling storage and storage-destined gas and locking in future contracts to replace that gas.  High storage provides a greater incentive to pursue these strategies to lower storage gas gas costs for utilities and their customers.
I do not think arbitrage is affecting storage at all.

Storage is high and there is not a rush to fill before winter.

I do not understand that statement, it makes no sense. Gas is injected every day and gas is removed from storage every day. The point is, every well in the US is producing flat out every day of the year. They produce an excess of gas in the summer, (usually except for this past week), and not enough during the winter. That is why they store the gas in salt caverns in the summer for withdrawal during the winter.

Are you suggesting that oil companies are closing the taps and not pumping all the gas they can? There are several companies putting gas into storage. The more gas they put into storage during the summer the more they can sell during the winter. If one company holds back on its gas, then the other companies make more money at their expense. Well, that is unless you know something I do not. If so, please fill me in. Are you blameing high gas prices on the oil and gas companies?

My comments were directed to the utilities who fill their production area and market area storage.  The mild winter led to very high levels of storage remaining after the winter season.  Usually refilling storage requires their maximizing their fill rate, but not this year.
It's pretty interesting to look at the effect of unconventional gas on total Texas gas production--basically it has only served to keep production flat.

Texas gas production peaked in 1972--same year as oil--at 9.6 TCF/year.  Since 1983, gas production has basically ranged from about 5.6 to 5.8 TCF/year.  Last year:  5.7 TCF, down slightly from 2004.

IMO, unconventional oil--like unconventional gas--will only serve to slow the rate of decline of total oil production.  At some point, unconventional oil will probably stabilize total oil production.  

Yes, and the IEA reported a presumed all liquids production from Nigeria as averaging 2.19/mbd in the 2nd quarter of this year. The total would be 2.865/mbd if we consider lost production as all liquids and not just conventional light sweet crude. The 0.675/mbd is reported as 26% of production. 26% of the above is 0.745/mbd, too high. 0.675 is 26% about 2.60/mbd. There's quite a discrepancy between 2.600 and 2.865. Let's see what we can do. Ok, over the last weekend, 0.180/mbd was taken offline and the total quoted for Shell here is 0.653/mbd shut-in for various reasons. However, just on Wednesday, ENI experienced some sabotage.
The outlook for Nigeria's crude oil output deteriorated further Wednesday after a flowstation owned by a unit of Eni SpA (E) was attacked overnight.

News the Ogbainbiri flowstation in Bayelsa State in Nigeria's oil rich Niger Delta had been attacked drove U.S. light, sweet crude futures for September delivery up 0.7% to $74.07 a barrel. An initial statement from Eni suggested the disruption had caused a "significant decrease" in crude developed at the facility. Nigerian insiders, however, said the impact was marginal and only between 16,000 to 35,000 barrels-a-day of crude oil had been cut at the Nigeria Agip Oil Company's facility.

But the disruption is the latest in a wave of similar attacks by militants as they fight for regional control of oil and gas resources in the region. Including the latest disruption, attacks by the Niger Delta militants have now cut Nigeria's production by over one third, or 715,000 b/d.

Nigeria, a key member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the world's eighth largest oil exporter, relies heavily on foreign oil majors to develop its oil and gas sector.

Royal Dutch Shell's PLC (RDSA) oil facilities in the Niger Delta have also been heavy disrupted in recent months, largely due to militant attacks. Close to 680,000 b/d of Shell's Nigerian production is now believed to be shut-in, after 180,000 b/d was shutdown due to a pipeline leak, late last week in the eastern delta.

I know when to give up.

My first post, after lurking for about a year. Please be kind. :)

Of the top ten companies in the Fortune Global 500, 5 are oil companies.  The others are auto manufacturers and, of course, Wal-Mart. (I am sure that Kunstler will cover this ad-nauseum.)

What does this say for the state of things?  I hesitate to venture my opinions at this point, I'm not as good with the technical side of things as most people here.  However, it does seem to be that the current price of oil has very little to do with production costs and/or RDE.  The 30% profit increases and record setting revenues make it seem that it is more of a media/speculator induced bubble rather than a supply problem.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not an optomist.  The technical production values that Stuart is kind enough to do the reporting on paint a pretty clear picture.  I am saying, though, that the current price levels might be more of a reflection of Big Oil's greed rather than a significant pinch on supply.

Does this argument hold any water?

It is 'said' that without speculator/geopolitical premiums, oil would be down at $55

So your question 'Does this argument hold any water?' Most would say some, but the oils wells probably have a bit down them too!!!:)

A lot of arguments have been brought to the table as to why oil prices are high, ultimately ony supply-demand can really influence oil prices for a long period of time.

Also know that Big Oil produces just a fraction of the worlds oil.

What does this [economic ranking] say for the [physical] state of things?

Welcome to TOD.
Don't be afraid.
We only kill our own.

That said, Fortune's economic rankings are based on a "noise" we humans make. We call this noise "Price". It indicates the "values" we humans attach to stuff.

Mother Nature is deaf. She does not listen to our noises.

So the answer is, it says nothing about the physical state of things.

The oil is there (in claimed "reserve amounts"), or NOT, irrespective of the Fortune-ranking noises we make.

TheDave, I will try to be kind. No, your argument doesn't hold water. The oil companies are no more greedy today than they were ten years ago. But more importantly, oil companies do not set the price of oil. Also, publically traded oil companies only control a small percentage of all oil traded.

Supply is in a pinch but that pinch is not the entire story. True there is perhaps a terror premium in the price of oil. How much is debatable. Some say as much as $15 a barrel. I tend to think it is much smaller than that, peahaps less than $5 a barrel.

But prices have been moving up for over two and one half years. Only demand outstripping supply can cause that kind of long term upward trend in prices.

But remember my first point; oil companies do not set the price of oil, that is done in the marketplace. And the price of oil has absolutely nothing to do with the cost to produce a barrel, other than they could not for very long trade below that point. Oil prices are set by supply and demand in the marketplace.

Darwinian -

Yes, of course 'oil prices are set by supply and demand in the marketplace'.

But it also follows that if one can control the supply of oil, one can influence the price of oil. OPEC learned this principle quite early on and has on occassion used it quite successfully.

So, the fact that there are genuine supply/demand problems in the global oil market does not automatically preclude the possiblity of a little supply manipulation here and there to game the system.

I am not claiming that such manipulation is the primary contributor to the current price of oil, but in seller's market sellers have been known to engage in unscrupulous behavior, including illegal price-fixing akin to  Enron electricity brokerage in California.

You CAN have a genuine tight supply problem and genuine funny business at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

I would not characterize supply manipulation as gaming the system or funny business. It would be imprudent and irresponsible for the oil producing nations to continue to run full out while their reserves deplete. I would advise them to start gradually cutting back in order to extend their period of wealth and influence.  
Thank you Brian, I could not have said it better myself.

It is nothing but common sense for nations to begin to husband their natural resources. If we had started to do that many years ago, we would not be so deep in this damn mess. We would still be in it, but not quite as deep.

"Terror Premium" is a good phrase, and I think it is exactly what I was trying to bring to the front there.  I couldn't guess what that amount would be, though I believe it to be relatively small as well.

I realize that Oil companies do not set oil prices, my point was that with prices as high as they are, oil companies and organizations (OPEC, etc) are almost disincentivized to do a whole lot to find new reserves or exploit newer technologies (however unlikely either is.)  That was my point about "greed." Though I think you are right about that remaining relatively level since about 1890.

"oil companies and organizations (OPEC, etc) are almost disincentivized to do a whole lot to find new reserves or exploit newer technologies (however unlikely either is.)  That was my point about 'greed.'"

Historically, oil prices increases have been followed by vigorous efforts to put new supplies on line and that is happening now.  From conventional production, these efforts have generally not been succcessful if a region is past the 50% mark, e.g., the Lower 48.  The whole question is how fast unconventional sources can be brought on line.

"make it seem that it is more of a media/speculator induced bubble rather than a supply problem."

A couple snippets from an article addressing that issue:


Is There An Oil 'Bubble'?

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, July 26, 2006; Page A17

Could there be an oil "bubble''? Well, yes. In early 2002 oil sold for roughly $20 a barrel; now it's close to $75. The main cause lies in tightening supply and demand -- and the fact that supply (as the present Middle East fighting reminds us) could be interrupted at any time.

Old-fashioned speculation may also have played a role, and that raises the possibility of a bubble. But any bubble would be a peculiar beast, and if it burst and prices dropped significantly, we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that this might signal a new era of comfortable abundance. It wouldn't...

"Speculation" has a bad image. It suggests financial sharpies plundering everyone else. The reality is often the opposite: financial innocents following the latest fad to ruin. That happened with tech stocks. The oil picture is murkier. The big "speculators" are institutional investors -- pension funds, hedge funds (pools of loosely regulated funds) and investment banks...

Whatever happens, we should avoid the easy conclusion that speculators have artificially increased oil prices. In truth, they are speculating against real risks -- the risk that oil from the Persian Gulf could be cut off; that hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico could damage U.S. oil rigs and refineries; that political events elsewhere (in Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela) could curtail supplies. High prices reflect genuine uncertainties.

Oil is essential and insecure. A sensible country would minimize this insecurity by economizing on oil's use (through taxes and tougher fuel regulations) and developing its own resources. We should have redoubled our efforts years ago; we should do so now.


Fascinating article. Another really bright guy writes an article about oil supply/demand without ever mentioning oil depletion. He almost goes to great lengths to talk around it. He is not an idiot, so my conclusion is he is just another professional B/S artist.  
Welcome to TOD. Please read Stuart's post for background.

Is Oil In a Price Bubble?

Other people have given good answers but maybe not put it in quite this way. Yes, the price of oil is higher than simple considerations of supply and demand would put it. Yes, this is due to speculation in the oil market. But, the key point is, this is exactly how markets are supposed to behave, and it is an OPTIMAL strategy for getting the most use out of our remaining oil.

What happens is that as investors and speculators foresee future oil shortages, they bid up the price of oil for future delivery. Because oil is easy to store (just leave it in the ground!), this causes oil producers to transfer production from the present into the future, when it is worth more. That reduces present-day production and drives up present-day prices. The result is that we conserve oil today, making more available in the future when we really need it.

The "invisible hand" of the marketplace produces a reallocation of oil which is exactly what well-intentioned commentators call for via subsidies, taxes, rationing, etc. And it can be shown that letting the marketplace do it is inherently more efficient than trying to goad people with taxes and artificial incentives.

But notice that the situation looks, superficially, as you describe it: producers holding back on production and making prices higher than it seems like they need to be. It makes it look like they are cheating, when in fact they are merely being economically rational, and in the process are benefiting us and the whole world.

The difference between this type of hold-back and the "cheating" kind is that the latter requires collision and near-monopoly (what economics call an oligopoly - monopoly spread across a few producers). That was what we had back in the 1970s when OPEC cut back production.

Today's cutbacks do not require collusion, which means that they are not a matter of market manipulation and are consistent with a fully efficient economy. Each individual producer decides for himself to cut back, because he sees that his oil will be worth more next year than this year. He doesn't care what his neighbor his doing, he is deciding for himself the policy that maximizes his own profit. There is no collusion and no artificial control. This is why this kind of production restriction helps the market system to work better, unlike the kind we had in the 70s.

Ah yes, the Timothy Leary approach to rational behaviour. Of course, the market in the 70's was dirty and nasty and full of contrivance and duplicity and deception. Not like today's market place. No, not at all.

Today's market place is filled only with agents with complete information acting in perfectly rational ways.

So, today, I ring up the Saudi's and ask for a head's up on production. Of course, they tell me to look on their web site, after all, they provide full disclosure. Reserves, production, rigs, etc. These guys are really nice. They want to help us folk in the "market." After all, it's in their best interest. After all, they're rational participants as well. And we all know we can't be rational in the absence of the facts.

I like fairy tales as much as the next child, but passing this off as fact seems, at the least, hopeful.

When the figures for the EIA and the IEA tally, month on month, year on year; when the figures supplied by the aforementioned are not subject to revison report after report after report, then maybe the fairy tale of the "market" will come true. Until then, I'll just hold my breath. Guess I'll be long dead and gone before the "market" will be populated by fully informed rational agents.


How much does the price of oil affect the price of oil?

What I mean is, as the price of oil rises, how does this affect the cost to produce oil (production of equipment, shipping, cost to move people)?  And how much of a lag time is there?  Parts they are using today may be 5 years old, produced and shipped with $20 oil.  If they need to replace those parts they may have been produced and shipped with $70 oil and the cost of that part is higher.  Production cost goes up a little, price goes up a little.  The next time they replace that part it maybe $90 oil.

So, my original question - how much of an affect does this have on the overall price (cost of production) or is it minimal?

As you suggest, the relationship is complicated. And of course, production cost of a drill bit or some other infrastructure component is not solely dependent on the price of oil - there are other inputs as well. So if oil goes up 10% it doesn't mean that everything goes up 10%.

But broadly speaking you can get a handle on your question via the notion of EROEI, energy returned over energy invested. This ratio estimates how much energy is "spent" to produce a given quantity of energy. Energy sources with low EROEI require a high investment of energy. Those will be the ones that have problems like you are describing, where the inputs and factors necessary for production are very sensitive to the price of energy.

However, oil generally has a very high EROEI, especially in the Middle East. It can be 10 to 1 or even higher. That means that it takes very little oil to produce oil, and therefore the costs to produce the oil are relatively INsensitive to oil prices. So even when oil goes up in price, producing Mideast oil does not get much more costly. That is probably the best answer to your question.

I would add that low EROEI sources are susceptible to inflationary pressures, or "cost-push" inflation. The Athabasca oil sands project cost overruns reported in early July are a good example of this (reported on TOD by Leanan here).

Sprott Asset Management published a report here (pdf file) that discussed this.   Here is one key quote:

Costs can iterate on themselves when higher costs require higher energy prices, and higher energy prices lead to higher costs.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) is live on CSPAN now yapping about the wonders of ethanol, PEHEV's, Yankee ingenuity, etc. --GOOd old fashion American way to solve our problems and "eliminate our dependence on foreign oil"
A little bit of Google homework:

Brownback Calls for Greater Energy Independence (Describes plan to grow and innovate toward more diversified energy sources Wednesday, July 19, 2006)


Anti-BB blogger

BB Google results

Has anybody checking out the "methanol economy"? Note that is METHANOL not ethanol. Some Nobel prize winner for chemistry is promoting it, saying that methanol has many of the same properties that make ethanol a good liquid fuel replacement, but that it can be produced using only electricity through CO2+Water synthesis.

It is claimed that currently the best places to produce it are near fossil fuel burning power stations and so on because the CO2 concentration in their exhaust is quite high which makes it economic to extract, but that one day we could suck it straight out of the atmosphere.

He says this makes it a way to mitigate global warming, though I am sceptical on this point. Seems CO2 sequestration is the only feasible way to do that, because when burned the methanol will presumably decompose back into CO2 so the whole cycle is carbon neutral.

However the idea of manufacturing fuel from sunlight, water and air seems almost too good to be true. Has anybody looked into this in more depth?

Methanol can be produced from synthesis gas, created by heating biomass.  Synthesis gas is mostly CO and H2, so if you have a good process to get these from CO2 and H20, then you are all set to make some methanol.  Photosynthesis does this for us to make biomass, so biomass to methanol is equivalent to whatever you are talking about.

It seems that the biomass to methanol route is simpler and more efficient than cellulosic ethanol.  I don't understand why ethanol is getting so much more attention  for an alternative liquid fuel.

IIRC, ethanol is non-toxic and biodegradable, but not so for methanol. Methanol fumes can make you go blind (like masturbating?). I do know that the Health and Safety regulations (UK) are onerous for handling mathanol...
My impression is that methanol is about as toxic as gasoline if you are a primate, and much less so if you are not. Environmentally, methanol is much better than gasoline.  Also, ethanol is toxic, we have all seen this.  Ironically, a treatment for methanol poisoning is ingesting large quantities of ethanol, in order to block the toxic metabolism of methanol. BTW, some wine can have as much as 300 mg/liter of methanol. Also, think back to those old memeo or spirit duplication machines we used in school. The solvent for them was mostly methanol.

As far as being biodegradable, humans and other organisms have a natural level of methanol around 1 mg/kg, and many microorganisms will happily metabolize the stuff.  Methanol is released any time wood is thermally degraded (wood alcohol). The half life in the environment is about a week.

Here is a link to the United Nations view on methanol:

I have commented on this before. You are correct. As a scientific solution, direct methanol synthesis would be much better than coal or natural gas via corn to ethanol. But the ethanol lobby will rise up and scream about toxicity, etc. It is disappointing that too often the political solutions win over the scientific optimum.



Well, right now I'd still be supporting ethanol. The science behind CE seems far more developed than electro-synthesis of methanol. Trial CE plants seem to be actually in production and in the process of being scaled up to commercial levels.

Where are the solar powered methanol plants by the seaside? Even methanols biggest supporter admits the science to separate CO2 from the atmosphere in economic quantities doesn't even exist yet, so you can do no better than recycling from fossil fuel burning power plants. I don't see that scaling anytime soon.

Hopefully some team will crack the separation problem ...

If you are going to make syngas for methanol then why not go a little farther and make gasoline, diesel, etc.
However the idea of manufacturing fuel from sunlight, water and air seems almost too good to be true. Has anybody looked into this in more depth?

Cyanobacteria are way ahead of you -- by about 2 billion years.  Right now our yields are utterly pathetic (don't remember exact numbers -- would've paid better attention if the numbers looked at all hopeful).  AFAICT the field is not terribly well funded and probably won't be until we can show we have a hope of beating plants in efficiency.

Also, IIRC methanol has ~75% of the energy density of ethanol.  Wouldn't butanol make more sense for a SI-ICE biofuel?

Healing Crisis by Steven Lagavulin was posted yesterday on Energy Bulletin.  He talks about the pain and difficulty we go through on our way from finding out about peak oil (or climate change, or whatever pending disaster) to a better state of being.  There's discussion, which I haven't read yet, at the original article.  Since this better state is one where we become capable of action, I think this essay is worthy of a thread of its own.  Snippets that particularly struck me:  

What I've found is that the most beneficial antidote to these initial feelings and reactions which threaten to overwhelm us (i.e. fear, depression, hopelessness, anger, a generalized "psychic vertigo") actually lies through greater awareness of our problems and our situation, and not through "shutting out" or turning away from the discomfort these issues bring up--although this is often our instinctive reaction. But at the same time we also want to caution that we don't allow ourselves to be drawn too forcefully into these topics either, and it's quite common for many people to become like deer in the headlights when the first dawning of disillusionment begins to break--stricken with fright, yet unable to pull themselves away from the full glare of impending doom. As that psychiatrist nonpareil Dr. Seuss counseled, we should "remember that life's a great balancing act", and that frequent, small doses of disillusionment are much better for the digestion and the constitution than obsessive binging. It's important that we work to "rebalance" ourselves, but we don't want to "unbalancing ourselves in a different direction".

I think the long-winded point I'm trying to work toward is this: I've discovered that as I become more aware of my situation I begin living a different way of life. And as I begin living a different way of life I simultaneously begin feeling my power to resist all the subversive forces in our modern culture which had previously left me feeling helpless and "deflated". It happens in slow steps certainly, but those steps add-up. Also, I'm entering into a different "circle" of people, people who are themselves striving to live a different way of life.

Thus I find that I'm becoming much more sure of myself and the direction of my life, less driven by unsustainable and unsuitable ideals which make me doubt my self-worth, and I feel a more real sense of community than I'd felt when I was completely immersed in our consumer/success culture. In my experience then, greater awareness of all the things that are "dying right now" has actually helped me find a better ideal for which to live.

In my own case, it's taken me over a year to work through the stages of grief to a place of acceptance that the future will be difficult.  Finding my way out of "obsessive binging" on that awareness to constructive action is my present task.    

I've tried writing article on this topic but it is so difficult.

I refer to the "vertigo" as having your "psychological compass shattered."

"psychological compass shattered."

Exactly. A great analogy.

Some years ago, I worked through a "mid-life crisis," and figured out what I would do with the next few decades. I got it all figured out, went back to school, got a BSc, started a new career. Then I "discovered" the dizzying ramifications of Peak Oil. Enter mid-life crisis #2. I'm having to figure it all out again. I sit here with the hope that this will be the final mid-life crisis. But then, I'm beginning to think that perhaps Peak Oil for many will simply be an ongoing series of mid-life crises as people are forced to constantly adjust to an environment of ever-more-limited energy. The so-called "Long Emergency."


Woilf I'm seriously hoping to "grow up" to be a bum. Seriously! I've been doing some serious reading and soul-searching lately (when I can since I work some hellacious long hours as my part in the Empire Machine) and I've come to the conclusions that: (1) I want to be as little useful to the machine as possible, and (2) if I had skills that would stand me in good stead anywhere, and was able to live on very little, I'd have more security than I have now. Having the foraging skills of an old time Chumash Indian would be just about perfect. However, since most of that territory is under the cancer of houses and factories and all the rest of this cancer tumor we live in, and it would be a solitary life, the second best would be to simply need as little as possible. The small biz I have been running is more like an evil zombie that takes me along for the ride, it wants to grow grow grow and take all my waking hours with it. And it's really part of the military industrial complex, I'm not building bombs but I ain't making crocheted quilts either - and after reading Kotke's "Final Empire" last night, I'm even more awake to the fact that tech is just flat out evil.

So, I'm looking at either becoming a street musician or a street artist. A bum.

I'm even more awake to the fact that tech is just flat out evil.

NOTHING is "flat out evil" per se, everything depends on both the onlooker and the context.
Actually the sum of tech + our DNA + current zeitgeist + current point in history/evolution + any factor I may forget is of course "evil".
We need to change some factors, possibly only one, choose wisely.

So, I'm looking at either becoming a street musician or a street artist. A bum.

Are you sure this is going to help you or anybody else, also will you stand that forever (lifelong, which is "forever" for anyone).

   Call me a contrarian but: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/48223. I'm doing a little: telling people about Peak Oil and GW, riding my bike more etc. It is disheartening to see all the waste and stupidity.
It is disheartening to see all the waste and stupidity.

Very true, I see you are contributing your part :-)

Seriously, I agree that individual actions do very little for a change but just because they are NOT BACKED BY LARGE CULTURAL CHANGES.
But large cultural changes do not occur on a whim, it takes a myriad of factors and TIME.
We don't have "time" so we must find some "quick temporary fixes" and still be pushing for cultural changes.

The death toll from global warming is up to 81 in CA.  Likely over 100 nationwide.
Don't blame global warming alone.  It always gets hot in the summer, especially near deserts.  It is not that much hotter this year than periodically over the last 100 years.

The difference is that we used to have "unlimited energy" to cool micro climates down under those conditions.  We don't anymore.

I think most people are aware that it gets hot in the summer.  Global warming makes it more likely that it will get hotter.  Having Death Valley temps in the San Fernando Valley is far from normal.

This is interesting:  http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

Not all "good as gold", IMHO, but most of it is.

Petro-Civilization Views

The evening sun, slightly reddened by a haze of combustion products, accents Mt. Hood as a jetliner lands at the Portland International Airport on the evening of 25 Jul 2006. Summer heat has melted much of winter's snowpack from the volcano; glaciers stand out among walls of andesite and dacite. Apparently, the glaciers are melting, perhaps another indicator of an atmospheric global warming that may be due to inputs of the "greenhouse gas" carbon dioxide, a waste product from fossil fuel combustion. A view of the Oil Age, a complex moment in human history where people grapple with both the benefits and downsides of life in an industrial society.

Gas prices rise by another massive amount, how do UK citizens respond? Find out here:

http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?sortBy=2&threadID=2831&start=0&tstart=0& &&&edition=1&ttl=20060727180006#paginator

Exec summary - about half "get it" and call for conservation, about half choose to bitch about privatisation/profits.

Note it's possible to agree with both sides of this argument ;)

Warning: Miserable Old Git Rant Ahead.

Most of the UK population is in the very early symptom stage of a newly emerging disease called ''Peak Oil Death Syndrome''

Or PODS as we non-doctors call it.

There is no known cure.

Regrettably, we in the UK have followed the 'consumer' model rather than the citizenship model. Pretty much like the US. We have rights, We have privelieges, We have entitlements. They are automatic and God-Given. We have a Government/Establishment that has usurped the responsibilities and concommitant rights of Citizenship in exchange for the entitlements of being a 'consumer'.

Over 40 years, the State has become the father of the nation. Men as fathers are practically redundant.
Earnings are sucked out and then handed back by the state as the state's largesse.
Skills are not taught.
Independent thought is regarded with hostility.
Education has been degraded to a level of pointlesness.
Social mobility through education and the acquisition of valued skills has ceased.
The fleecing of the intentionally dumbed down hoi-poloi by means of wealth extraction has begun.

Once we were a 'player'. Waterloo, Trafalgar, The Jet Engine, I K Brunel, The Spitfire et al. Now we are a bunch of targeted market segments. We are 'consumers'

Do not be too surprised at the comments made on this blog.

Before being sheared, the sheep will bleat.

At the end of the day , we deserve the government we vote for.

Sometimes its the lesser of two evils in many peoples eyes.
Why put up with the lesser of two evils?
Why not just reject both evils - greater or lesser?


1st symptom: buy an SUV. (''But darling, Jane at number 42 has one. How can I show my face at Sarah's coffee morning without one? Dont you believe your children are worth it? Do you want them to WALK to School? I should have married Simon'').

2nd Symptom: Buy a bigger house than you need(''It's an investment, you wont regret it. You will need to get on the ladder NOW or you will miss the boat'').

3nd Symptom: Whinge about the price of fuel. (ps: 3dollars is NOT a lot)

4th Symptom: Whine about the price of Gas for heating.

5th Symptom: Snivel that 'somebody must DO something about it'.

nth Sympom: Adapt or die

''They bought their tickets, I say let them die''. The only good line in a movie called 'Airplane'... (other than 'dont call me surely').

How about the flight assistant's line, "There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"  It is sorta PO-relevant.
LOL :)
Very PO relevant IMNSHO :)
you just made me remember the movie.
Lets get real now.  If there's Candidate A and B who you both don't care for what do you do?  Write someone in who's not going to get enough votes?  Not hardly.  So you pick the least worst solution!
Did you ever read the "War Nerd" column?  It seems like it would be up your alley.
never heard of it. where can i find 'war nerd'?
Gary Brecher better known as the "War Nerd"


A big time-waster alert is in order. War Nerd is excellent reading capable of swallowing you for hours.
True, when I discovered it I spent the entire day reading every back issue and laughing my head off.
Here is an investment/economics question-
when reading about a Matt Simmons presentation I noticed he said that oil companies would be a poor investment if oil prices spiked.  Why would this be?  It seems like they would be making absurdly large profits, assuming gov'ts didn't take them over and they could safely deliver product.

Any thoughts?


  1. Price controls
  2. Confiscatory "excess profits" taxes

These are coming. My prediction is shortly before November, 2008 for blatant political reasons.
Hate to say this, you may be right.

Shell have posted last quarters results.

About £1.6 million dollars per hour in profit.

Think of my office and me drowning in a rising sea of one pound notes. (go on, you know you want to...I do)

Then think of Goblin minions shovelling money into wheelbarrows and racing them to the bank.

What Chancellor would deny himself the chance of a 'windfall tax'?

Right now, the oilcos are their own worst enemy. They should use the money to get in on AltEnergy, Nuke Power.
They should morph into Energy Companies rather than remain oilcos.

They have the loot, they have the skill sets

Here is an investment/economics question-
when reading about a Matt Simmons presentation I noticed he said that oil companies would be a poor investment if oil prices spiked.  Why would this be?  It seems like they would be making absurdly large profits, assuming gov'ts didn't take them over and they could safely deliver product.

I disagree 100% with Simmons. Oil prices HAVE spiked. Oil companies are raking it in. I think oil companies will continue to rake it in, because oil prices will probably remain high. If you invested in oil companies prior to the spike, then you have made out quite well.

The wild card is "What exactly will the government ultimately decide to do about the situation?" I maintain that unless they start implementing a stiff carbon tax, there isn't much they can do to actually help the supply situation.



Does anyone around here really believe that we would nationalize our oil co's?  This has got me wondering what the govt WOULD do re: oil co's WTSTF.  Maybe not even outright nationalization, but subversive measures to maintain control.  That's the MO these days anyway.
These guys have more than a little influence with both parties. I wouldn't hold my breath for this (or price controls).
I don't know Matt's reasoning, but I wonder if it's kind of like buying gold or buying gold stocks.  you would think that they gold co's would be worth a bunch of money as they ramp up production as prices rise, but in fact gold stocks don't track gold prices.  The correlation is small and I wonder if this could be similar.  

IMO, I would bet on oil, not the oil co.  The oil will be needed, not necessarily the company.  If I had the resources I think I would have some cash in long term oil futures.  They trade all the way up to 2012 and last I checked they were barely in the $80's.

RR- I think the "spike" that Simmons was referring to was in the $200-$500 range (the higher end if Ghawar, Cantarell, and Bergan all start Yibal-type declines).  I think Simmons sees the current market prices as way undervalued (due to the looming peak).

tate- I see what you are saying about the company vs. the commodity - but oil majors have such vertical integration- controlling everything from finding the oil to delivering it to your gas tank- I would think that the company's value is much more tightly tied to the commodity's (vs. the gold industry).  This seems to be borne out in the massive profits of the oil majors due to changes in oil price.

Im in wonder of the tight vertical companies that the oil majors are.  They look for the black gold, pull it out the ground, send to be "burned" into a bunch of other stuff.  Then they pipe it around the country and WE pay THEM to stick their pumps into our cars.  That's a pretty good strategy to make some cash.  Might be the best one going....yeah it's the best thing going right now.
No surprise to me, Prof Goose, that another GW denial campaign is mounting.  And it'll probably work to a certain extent, most of the American public is still clueless, despite Al's best efforts (as I've mentioned, look at his book!).  And now that the news media is "war, war, war" (breaking news on CNN - something blew up in the Middle East!  Oh No!!!), GW and the Energy Crisis will remain on the back-burner for as long as possible.
There will be an energy/oil crisis that will strangle Americans, but most will blame the Ay-rabs as we've been trained to do ever since 911.
I was hoping we were through with that kind of stuff finally. That memo is interesting reading. Here we go again.
A Russian scientist Khabibulo Absudamatov predicts that a decrease in the Sun's radiation beginning [ed. conveniently for us] in 2012 will cause global temperatures to decline into the middle of the 21st century. We hope that this actually occurs prior to a tremendous impact on our economy.
A RealClimate search turned up nothing. This MosNews article is all there is. There are 31 Google results for "Absudamatov".

Scientists have not disregarded solar variability. And here is this unpublished, not peer-reviewed announcement -- because that is all it is -- that the Earth will start cooling in 2012. And here he is in an IREA memo.

If I announced something like this would you believe me? Certainly not. But maybe the IREA would give me a job.

I ran across a graph today that pretty much put things into perspective over at Financial Sense.

So the fact is, MEW fueled everything for the entire millenium thus far.  So if we include that the numbers are massaged anyway, I would surmise that even though 03-05 is up w/o MEW, that the reality is flat or negative slightly.

that is incredibly telling. It might mirror the production of Ghawar, with and without water cut.

That will not end pretty, but as 1999 shows, it may go on much longer than smart people can guess.

This is a request for the editors and contributors of TOD.

All we know that PO is one side of the coin, the other one (beside GW) being new energy sources. PO scenario could be powerdown or a hollywood movie future depending on the availability of new forms of energy.

Ethanol, oil shale, tar sands are covered regulary and at an amazing level of detail and rigor. But you know, when you tasted such a good stuff you just want more, I just can't kick the TOD habit.

I would like to get from TOD that same level of detail and rigor but about say fusion, breeder reactors, hydrogen from bacteria - all the stuff you can find for instance in http://alteng.blogspot.com/

I know that there are lots of news about new forms of energy and covering it all would be a huge task, but we need TOD to cut through all that data to get some valuable information.

Maybe an article about the "classics" fusion and breeders could make a good start. Even better: Hubbert's hope, Would fission be able to deliver all the energy the world will need?.




With regards to the poor prospects for large scale expansion of nuclear fission power, see David Fleming's article:


This is just a reiteration of van Leeuwen's work, IMO extremely pessimistic/fairly unrealistic.  Some assumptions embedded in all of the arguments include:

  • Limited uranium reserves, despite there being almost no exploration effort for the last 20 years.
  • Working from the capabilities of 1960's nuclear technology, despite greatly improved newer designs.
  • Requiring nuclear safety at a level of over a billion dollars per life saved, despite almost all communities being unwilling to spend at a level of $250,000 per life saved for emergency medical services, a factor of 4,000 less.
Setting operational safety issues aside (which will likely happen as the energy crisis worsens), we still haven't resolved the disposal issue after decades of trying:


With regards to Uranium supply, it is a finite resource. Ignoring the implications of that is what got us in the present fix with oil. Even industry cheerleaders concede that not enough will be mined to satisfy demand even under modest (1-2%) growth:


The bigger question is whether or not nuclear will make much of a difference before the oil supply tanks. For example, just to replace the electrical generating capacity currently driven by oil would take a 50% increase in generation from nuclear. This by itself would take hundreds of new plants. Currently, only a couple dozen are under construction worldwide. Next, consider the feasibility of building thousands of plants for the nuclear -> electricity -> hydrogen scheme to power transportation. And then there's the infrastructure for that.

Regardless whether one believes van Leeuwen's numbers or those of an optimist like James Lovelock , I'm sure that more nuclear plants will be built. This is, IMO, preferable to the increased use of coal or tar sands, but it's not without major negatives.

To be fair, we need to think about what we are already doing with power sources like coal.  A single large coal power plant puts a few million tons of CO2 up the stack and a few million tons of not-so-benign ash into landfills every year.  The general public is exposed to these wastes and its estimated 50 or 100 die every year because of that single plant. A large nuclear power plant puts a few tons of high level waste into controlled storage in a year. The general public is  exposed to only a minute fraction of this waste.  We have much larger disposal issues than the nuclear one to resolve.
Uranium is finite, but if there is a Hubbert Curve for it, we are then just barely up off of the abscissa.  Uranium could be a second chance energy source for society.  Hopefully, we would use the time and prosperity provided by it more wisely this next time around.
The even bigger question is, "will anything make much of a difference before we are in big trouble?"  Any solution dependent on transforming infrastructure is going to be tough now. If only we had kept our eyes on the energy ball back in the 80's...
I see the pro nuclear lobby casually toss coal-ash in the same pigeon-hole as nuclear waste every time they put forward their case. Perhaps they would elaborate on the problems. In the days when coal was burnt close to people up to the 1950s there was some respiratory problems with smog, when fog mixes with smoke. I think it's not rocket science to try to avoid breathing much of that - but what do you specifically dislike in ash?

Ash and manure makes a fertiliser

Just for their record I would like to say I have no objection to picking up coal ash with my bare hands. I might be persuaded to eat some if you ask nicely. You guys would do that with radioactive waste right?

Ash and manure makes a fertiliser

Biomass ash is an exelent fertiliser for micronutritients and ph adjustments.

Coal ash have very high levels of heavy metals collected by the formning coal beds over milennia.

Something being ash do not guarantee that it is good for your field. But I would not be especially surprised if you could find some grade of coal ash that makes it grow better, I would however not like to eat what is produced on that field.

From the nuclear perspective, coal ash contains uranium, which will affect the environment mostly through radon emission. Paradoxically, a large coal power plant will release about 3 tons of uranium every year, up the stack and out the grate, much more than a nuclear power plant is allowed to do.  http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

I would hesitate to add fly ash to acidic soil.  Acid would help leach out the heavy metals concentrated in the fly ash and make them accessible to your plants. We have alot of acidic soil here in the NorthEast.

It depends on the waste.  For short-lived isotopes, like iodine, cesium, or strontium, no way.  For longer-lived isotopes like plutonium or uranium, a few grams as solid metallic pellets would be okay to handle.  For the record, I would be willing to swallow as much plutonium 238 in pellet form as anyone would be willing to swallow as nicotine tablets, or a hundredth the amount of caffiene tablets.  BTW, LD50 for nicotine is around 50 mg and for caffeine around 10 grams.  For such a challenge, I would expect to live, (might go to your funeral), and help  demonstrate that we take for granted alot of stuff much more toxic and accessible than nuclear waste.

Uranium is finite, but if there is a Hubbert Curve for it, we are then just barely up off of the abscissa.

Can you point to a source for this statement?

The Oxford Research Group pegs the supply of positive EROEI uranium at about 60 years at present usage rates.

The US Army Corp of Engineers report "Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations" has this to say about the supply of uranium:

Estimated domestic uranium deposits are 225 million pounds at $30/lb and about 760 million pounds at $50/lb. U.S. consumption is about 54 million pounds per year with large amounts currently imported. Worldwide resources are estimated at 5,000 million pounds at $30/lb and 6,500 million pounds at $50/lb. About 31 percent of the low cost reserves are located in Canada. Annual worldwide requirements range from 121 to 175 million pounds per year (WEC 2001). Assuming an annual usage of about 150 million pounds per year, this equates to about a 33 to 43 year supply at current consumption rates. Here again, since uranium is a non-renewable natural resource, it supply will eventually reach a peak and trend downward. However, there is no shortage of world capacity to supply uranium at this time. Development of new plants is growing very slowly, with much nuclear power generating capacity projected to shutdown over the mid term. [Emphasis Added]

Nether of these reports gives me a warm, glowing feeling about the long-term contribution of nuclear power in a post-oil world.

I do not propose or advocate the decommissioning of existing nuclear power plants, but I think we really need to sharpen our pencils, and soberly calculate how many more can be built with a lifetime positive EROEI.

I think our remaining resources would be better spent on building up the electrical grid, and overbuilding a grid of wind farms. Wind farms cost roughly USD $1/watt to erect, then each tower can begin production as it is completed, and each become energy positive in less than a year. Contrast this with with the multi-year schedule of nuclear plant construction, and the enormous energy debt incurred before the very first watt is produced.

Yes, the wind does not blow all of the time, and yes, we may need to change the way we live in order to deal with that fact. Occam says that's an easier problem to solve than breeder reactors of fusion.

The first report is from van Leeuwen (Storm & Smith), a very pessimistic view of uranium mining and geology.  When the methodology it uses is compared against actual experience, it looks to overestimate costs by one or two orders of magnitude.

IMO, uranium industry is in a strange state right now, since Russian enriched Uranium is competing with mining production.  This has greatly discouraged production, development, and exploration, which has depressed reserve estimates and introduced large uncertainties into the ones that we have.  You are not going to find what you are not looking for.  

The current cumulative production of Uranium is about 2.5 million tons.  In the link above,  it looks like we are extracting uranium economically in ores at least down to 10 ppm.  At this concentration, recoverable uranium reserves are around a trillion tons, or 400,000 times as much as we have producted so far.  If this is correct, then we have barely jogged up and to the right of the origin on the graph of production, centuries away from 50% cumulative production of reserves.

Wind power has a place in the future energy picture, but even more than Occam, I believe in Murphy.  After we build up a large wind infrastructure, we will probably find out that one of the effects of GW will be decreased winds :-)

Wind and solar are the best bets.

The US has more than enough wind potential: I've seen estimates of 2.9 terawatts of potential name-plate capacity, which at 30% capacity factor gives about 900 GW, or twice what the US consumes these days.  Wind is cost effective. It's only real drawback is intermittency, and plugin-hybrid & EV charging would take care of that problem beautifully, as EV charging would smooth out that intermittency.  EV's and wind power are a match made in heaven.

Solar provides a 5 kilowatt hours per day per square meter, on average.  At even 20% efficiency (60% is possible), the average household (which has about 150 sq meters of roof)could provide all it's power needs with only a portion of it's roof space.  Solar is too expensive in most places (not all), but it's coming down fast.

At even 20% efficiency (60% is possible)

Where did you get those figures? Best photovoltaics are at 15% (at intense direct sunlight), and best Stirling engine solar dishes are at 39% (ditto). Somehow I don't see people installing Stirling engine dishes weighting several tons on their rooftops.

For the 20% figure, see sunpower.com.  They're 20% efficient, and available commercially  - in fact, they're an industry leader because of their efficiency.

For the 60% figure, see http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/002789.html

These people have since gotten financing to commercialize the quantum dot technology - this stuff is coming, if not from them, then someone else.  There are probably a 100 serious projects and companies working on this around the world.

From sunpower.com:

Sunpower technologies are typically categorized as follows:

    * Free-piston Stirling engines
    * Stirling Coolers
    * Stirling Cryocoolers and Pulse Tubes
    * Linear compressors

No photovoltaics here. AFAIK just Stirling engines are for power production; the problem with them as I see it is that the potential for improvement and lowering of costs is not that big. You will always need a huge steered mirror to focus the sunlight, and this will always require expenses of material for the mirror, for the supporting structure etc.

For photovoltaics 15% is still the best you can get on the market now. Higher efficiences have been reported but mostly in laboratory conditions.

The second link looks more promising, but this is just a research after all. Nanotechnology has been promising miracles like that for a decade now, but I'm reluctant o bet our future on promises.


I gave that URL from memory, and of course it was completely wrong.  The one you want is:

I can understand what you mean about betting on research.  Though I think such improvements are likely, we don't have to bet on them, as things like sunpowercorp are real and on the market now in large volumes.

As I noted, PV costs are dropping rapidly and volumes are doubling every two years. Thinfilm (see http://www.nanosolar.com/pr5-6.htm) and building integrated PV (BIPV) appear poised to reduce costs even faster.  Solar electricity costs are now below retail costs in large parts of CA, and in Japan.  Solar is a $10B business. We're at the tipping point for solar moving into center stage.

Too bad that Sunpower and Sun Power Corp are so easily confused.  Sunpower stirling engines are the current darling of NASA for space isotope power generation, and get maybe 35% thermal efficiency defined as electric power out/thermal power in from isotope.  They could also do as well with concentrated solar, of course.

The multijunction solar cells of Sun Power Corp and others are also efficient, and also require concentration because they are  expensive per unit area.

These two gadgets are competitive.  I would love to see a real competition between them.  Both have good arguments in their favor. Neither carries anything like the burdens  coal or nuclear have clanking around their necks.

By the way, don't  toss out stirlings just  because they have moving parts and PV doesn't.  NASA  projections of space stirling  life would indicate they would last 35 years in use on earth as solar generators.  By that time everything is obsolete, putting it euphemistically.

You can read all about this in the current IECEC proceedings, just last month.  I don't know how to make a link.

"The multijunction solar cells of Sun Power Corp and others are also efficient, and also require concentration because they are  expensive per unit area."

I was under the impression that Sun Power Corp was NOT multijunction, and that it is not more expensive than other PV on the market.  Are you sure about that?  You may be thinking of the 38% efficient triple-junction cells used in satellites and some concentrator designs...

I don't know nothin' about PV.   I get the impression from people who claim they do that the higher the efficiency, the more expensive and  vulnerable the cell and the more likely it is to degrade with heat or solar intensity.  When I ask for more info, I get a lot of unsupported claims and confusing statements.

The people who actually sell domestic PV tell me to count on at least $10 system cost per actually delivered watt.

I do know something about stirlings, and am betting on simple, cheap, hightly reliable ones that aren't going to be very efficient, but use rough fuel, like on a wood stove.

So I say, let the both of 'em fight it out  in a fair fight -the market place. I'll be happy to go with the one that wins.

"I don't know nothin' about PV.   I get the impression from people who claim they do that the higher the efficiency, the more expensive and  vulnerable the cell and the more likely it is to degrade with heat or solar intensity.  When I ask for more info, I get a lot of unsupported claims and confusing statements."

Well, these "people who claim they do"  certainly don't seem to.  I guess all you can do next you encounter them is try to get them to provide support for their claims.  I haven't heard such claims, and until these people provide support for their claims it sounds like you shouldn't worry about them.

"The people who actually sell domestic PV tell me to count on at least $10 system cost per actually delivered watt."

Wow.  Demand has really gotten ahead of supply.  PV supplies are expanding at about 40% per year, but they can't keep up with demand, especially in Germany.  Now CA has increased subsidies, and France has raised the price they'll pay for PV power to Germany's level.

All this means that PV suppliers can charge a heckuva markup to ration their product, until supplies catch up in a couple of years.

In the true spirit of "open thread"...

I need TOD. I mean, as I use my time to stay current, informed and hopefully ever-learning, I find that my personal "ROI" is greatest here at TOD. News, energy, geology, philosophy(!), sociology, politics... the breadth of subject matter, both from the editors and the posters, is vast. Anyway, to my point...
  I have just recently, after many months or lurking, taken in upon myself to start reading through the dozen or so frequently-referred-to books covering PO. I've picked up a few at our local library, and bought a few at our local bookstore, but my question is this: Is there or would it be helpful financially for TOD to have some sort of bookselling "affiliation", thereby supporting what I'm sure will be increasing bandwidth costs while offerring readers PO-related books? I see that avdertising is stated as covering hosting expenses, and if that is the case then my thoughts may not be needed.
  I value this site, and would not hesitate to support it financially.
  I'll take my answer off the air. ;-)

ps. Did I say Thank You?

awww.  :)  for all of us here...thanks.
Bakhtiari addresses the Australian Senate Committee.


Or rather tells them that we are all screwed.

and we won't turn down your money either.  :)

We used to have links to Amazon sales below the blogroll.  They were slowing the page down quite a bit, and really weren't producing any revenues...

right now, we're doing all right, I guess.  none of us make any money off of the site (note Stuart is looking for PO-related consulting work, and he'd be darned good at it).  while I'd love to take a leave of absence and do this for a living, it's really only the top level bloggers who can actually live off the profits of their blog.

so, the blogads and adsense covers our server costs, but if and when we start expanding again, we may have to ask for some support...but until then, enjoy!

From a purely selfish TOD user perspective, a bookseller affiliation is not a bad idea at all. Lately I find myself copying book titles from TOD comments and pasting them into the search box at Amazon. I don't buy the books yet but I do put their pages into a bookmark folder for later sorting & purchasing. I would love it if the "Peak Oil Primers" box over on the right was followed by a "TOD Library" with links such as "Geology", "Physics", "Chemistry", "Anthropology", "Economics", "Agriculture", "Survival" etc. All Amazon links could then be stashed away under those links, leaving most of the site nice and clean yet providing a great service to users. It shouldn't be that hard to set up (wink wink :-) ).
Regarding the horrifying but fully expectable propaganda campaigns that are the subjects of those memos, I can already hear Sen. Inhofe doing his Montgomery Burns impression:  "Exxxxcellent!"
Re: A Plea for Rational Discourse

Yesterday I personally attacked a TOD commenter after feeling provoked. The exchange starts here. I unconditionally and publicly apologize to Jokuhl who was the recipient. I also apologize to Stuart whose comment in the thread I labeled "condescending".

With that out of the way, I would like to make a plea for rational and civil discourse on TOD. I have noticed a disturbing trend lately of personal attacks and flip off-topic remarks (outside Drumbeat open threads). I let myself sink to that level and I regret it. As a Senior Contributor here, I have tried to add positively to various ongoing debates in my posts. Needless to say, a person in such a position should lead by example.

I hope that all of us at TOD will make an effort maintain a high level of debate on the topics discussed here. I am against censorship and stifling conversation. So, let's go forth into God Only Knows What future with our dignity (and sense of humor) intact.

Finally, I welcome all the first time posters.

Thank you Dave, I second that motion.  The quality of the original articles at TOD just keeps getting better and better.  However the comments section is starting to show early symptoms of the problems that ruined www.peakoil.com as a site for rational discourse and turned it into a pub house brawl.  Let us all strive to prevent another tragedy of the electronic commons.
Ignore the bad posters.

They will go away.

BTW, you are a good poster. I want to learn more of micro-hydro and how to do it.

Dave - your example represents a great microcosm of TOD. This is not a Better Homes and Gardens chat room on slugbaits, but a deep discussion of humans facing how to wisely adapt to a dramatically different energy landscape. Serious stuff.  Occasional outbursts and tempers are bound to periodically interupt a mostly civil discussion.  As world events and the energy situation get more serious, we might have more occasion to 'fight like cats in a sack'.   We also have an incredible diversity of posters here so for certain people are going to disagree.

However, even with some ritual dominance contests, occasional sophomoric banter, and a few personal attacks, this site provides me (and others) with WAY more information, perspective and insight not only into the facts, but the implications of the various energy paths before us. The return on my time here so far, in an eduational sense, has been very high.

Thank you for all your hard work. Please keep it up (and tell me your favorite natural gas stocks)

I agree, rational discourse is the only way to go.  Even with TODs slight ups and downs I consider it a must daily read.  Some other sites are good but TOD is the best.

Sometimes thinking about PO gets me gloomy.  To keep things in perspective I think of all the tech things that have been created in my life that no one could have predicted: LED lights, lasers, personal computers, satelites, cell phones, etc and don't forget the Internet!  The first computer I ever used was an analog and was programmed with resistors, capacitors and inductors.  We have come a long way and may have a long way to go.

Your forgiven Dave;  
Even at my age, I some times lose it and am very disgusted with myself afterward.
Konrad Imielinski just published a post looking more in-depth to the EROEI of ethanol. Suprised by the detail Pimentel uses in calculating his results, he really is disgusted with ethanol. The positive net energy sources out number the negative, but that doesn't mean their correct.
I have no idea how or where to start a new topic in the TOD "stream of consciousness" style threads ... but here goes anyway ...

I had seen various projections of oil production, price, production etc in various reports, some quite old.

Many of these projections are graphs or tables going forward some years.

Clearly there are errors in some projections ... the data predicted all those years ago doesn't match when you actually arrive at a specific date ... just take a look at the oil price to confirm this!

Now to my question: is there a statistical branch, method or technique which can take a series of apparently rigorous old projections and using data about what REALLY happened, can derive an estimate of the nature & magnitude  of errors likely to exist in any NEW projection we make today?

There must be a lot of valuable error data embedded in those old estimates.

MetaMeme -

I think the idea of doing some sort of statistically rigorous post-mortem on past projections is a good one!

When I look back on my own past predictions,  regarding such things as world events, business, and personal matters, my track record is not too good. And when I really think about why I made such dumb predictions, the reasons seem quite obvious after the fact, when it does me absolutely no good.

So, I think it would be a worthwhile exercise.  However, I am too ignorant about statistical methods to make any suggestions about how to go about it.

Hello TODers,

The ongoing saga of the Mexican Standoff is now spreading beyond the border.  Mex-Americans in a US trade union are calling for a vote-by-vote recount.

This brings up the possibility of a very interesting scenario for US elections.  After the incredible controversies of the US 2000 & 2004 Prez elections, what will the populace do if 2008 results are possibly manipulated?  I would suggest that the US goes to a full paper balloting system so there can be no question of electronic fraud, and full traceability is possible.

It seems obvious that ballot design needs to be simplified whereby there can be no question of determining voter intent.  No hanging chads and all the other technical controversies-- perhaps the presidential ballot should be a stand-alone sheet and the voter is required to write in ink their choice followed by an ink signature.

Additionally, there should be a sufficient supply of ballots and voting booths at every polling place so there is never a long wait.  I like the idea of having 3 people pre-verify the Prez ballot before it goes into the sealed collection box.  In short, whatever it takes to prevent election controversies ahead of time is well worth the effort to head-off post-election violence.

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

And then you can ban reporting of any election results until the last polling place in the nation has closed.
Also ban "exit polling". First one to shove a microphone in my face and ask (demand?) who I voted for is going to get the microphone shoved up "where the sun don't shine".
one poster in one of the previous drum beats thought i was crazy in sayin isrial is not a rational state. well it seems i was right.
the artillery shell in a photo taken in Lebanon (below) is a chemical weapon delivery device. It is being handled by an Israeli Defense Force soldier and Hebrew lettering can be clearly seen on the armored vehicle. Another chemical weapons shell of the same type can be seen lying on the ground to the right. It is not known what type of chemical is in the chemical canister, however, gas dropped by the Israelis in villages in southern Lebanon has resulted in severe vomiting among the civilian population.

Whatever that device in the photo is itis definitely not an artillery shell. It may be some kind of weapon dropped from an airplane. We are now in the age of PhotoShop and other software which can alter what is shown in the photo.
The photo of the burned child could be from any news archive in the world.
How does your post about chemical weapon use relate to the challenge of peak oil?  I have noticed several anti-jewish postings in the last few weeks where there is no explanation of its linkage to peak oil.
"I have noticed several anti-jewish postings in the last few weeks where there is no explanation of its linkage to peak oil."

I have noticed that anyone even questioning what Israel is doing immediatly gets labelled anti-jewish by the jewish thought police!!:)

Agreed though it doesn't have a lot to do with peak oil.


Since the truth is always the first victim in any war discerning the validity of the claims of either side is nearly impossible. The passion of combat leads to atrocities all around. If a person has good evidence of a war crime then use the World Court as a place to present that evidence instead of posting in every available discussion group on the Internet.
anyone even questioning what Israel is doing immediatly gets labelled anti-jewish by the jewish thought police!!

you haven't used the z-word or other anti-sem code words.
want to criticize Israel? go ahead.
But remember, there is no oil there there.

Fuel air bomb. It sets off the booby traps Hezbollah has been putting in the underbrush in open fields and roadsides.
San Francisco's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) is having a hearing tomorrow, with a press conference preceding it, on "the peak oil phenomenon:"


Press Conference, Hearing Friday
                         on `Peak Oil' Phenomenon

 Press Conference Will Be Followed by a LAFCo Hearing on Ramifications for
 City Government of Imminent Drop in Oil Production, Accompanying Rise in

SAN FRANCISCO (July 26, 2006)--On Friday, July 28, the Local Agency
Formation Commission (LAFCo) will hold a press conference and hearing on
the ramifications of Peak Oil for San Francisco, and what City leaders
should do now to prepare for the onset of depleting supply and rising
production costs in global petroleum reserves.  In April, the Board of
Supervisors passed a resolution introduced by Supervisor Mirkarimi
acknowledging the Peak Oil phenomenon, and providing funding for an
assessment of its effects.

What:  Press Conference preceding LAFCo Hearing on "Peak Oil"

When:   Friday, July 28, 2006 at 12:30 pm

Where:  City Hall Steps, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco


  • Sup. Ross Mirkarimi
  • Professor Richard Heinberg, author of The Oil Depletion Protocol
  • Dave Room of Energy Preparedness
  • Representatives from the SF Department of the Environment
  • Representatives from San Francisco Oil Awareness

Following the press conference, LAFCo will hold a hearing on the topic at
2:00 p.m. in Hearing Room 263 of San Francisco City Hall.

What is Peak Oil?
"Peak Oil" is the term for the economic principle that global oil
production will peak at the point that reserves are 50 percent depleted.
Once that peak is passed, oil production will begin to diminish as the cost
of oil production steadily rises.  Far from speculative theory, the
phenomenon has been widely studied by geologists, physicists, and
economists worldwide, and was even acknowledged by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in a report last fall.  According to that report: "The doubling
of oil prices in the past couple of years is not an anomaly, but a picture
of the future.  Peak oil is at hand with low availability growth for the
next 5 to 10 years.  Once worldwide petroleum production peaks, geopolitics
and market economics will result in even more significant price increases
and security risks.  To guess where this is all going to take us is would
be too speculative.  Oil wars are certainly not out of the question."
(Source: "Energy Trends and Implications for U.S. Army Installations," U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, September 2005)

Boris Delepine
Office of Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 282
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-6758 (phone)
(415) 554-7634 (fax)


"EIA issued a Federal Register notice announcing its plan to discontinue the collection of data on Forms EIA-182, Domestic Crude Oil First Purchase Report, and EIA-856, Monthly Foreign Crude Oil Acquisition Report, after the July 2006 data collection."


what the heck does that mean?
I think it means that a source of data used by the oil drum editors will no longer be available.
So you don't know either?
An interesting take on the conflict in Lebanon By Michel Chossudovsky:The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil.    It's not an angle I had seriously onsidered, but I'll have to keep an eye on it - he may have a point.

In April 2006, Israel and Turkey announced plans for four underwater pipelines, which would bypass Syrian and Lebanese territory.

    "Turkey and Israel are negotiating the construction of a multi-million-dollar energy and water project that will transport water, electricity, natural gas and oil by pipelines to Israel, with the oil to be sent onward from Israel to the Far East,

    The new Turkish-Israeli proposal under discussion would see the transfer of water, electricity, natural gas and oil to Israel via four underwater pipelines.

Prior to the bombing of Lebanon, Israel and Turkey had announced the underwater pipeline routes, which bypassed Syria and Lebanon. These underwater pipeline routes did not overtly encroach on the territorial sovereignty of Lebanon and Syria.

On the other hand, the development of alternative land based corridors (for oil and water) through Lebanon and Syria would require Israeli-Turkish territorial control over the Eastern Mediterranean coastline through Lebanon and Syria.

The implementation of this project requires the militarisation of the East Mediterranean coastline, sea ways and land routes, extending from the port of Ceyhan across Syria and Lebanon to the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Is this not one of the hidden objectives of the war on Lebanon? Open up a space which enables Israel to control a vast territory extending from the Lebanese border through Syria to Turkey.

Article in Aspermont Industry News (Australian) on Perth's fuel cell buses:

"IT HAS been nearly two years since the Federal and Western Australian Governments launched three hydrogen fuel cell buses onto Perth streets as part of a $15 million trial. With the end of the trial looming, what is the next step in the fight for a cleaner environment and more cost-effective public transport? Angela Kean reports

One of three hydrogen-powered buses that were launched onto Perth streets in September 2004
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Project and Transport Sustainability director Glen Head said the Western Australian Government was in the process of deciding whether to extend the trial or progress with the next generation of fuel cell buses."

http://www.industry-news.net//storyview.asp?storyid=62705&sectionsource=http://www.industry-news .net/

Look at these natural gas numbers going down:


Will it remain at that pace, or be rapid at some point?  When the power plants can't get that stuff, it will really put a squeeze on anything else.

In some parts of the US, homes and businesses are exclusively heated using that stuff.  Also a lot of appliances...  Huge sales on electric units and retrofits..