DrumBeat: July 28, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 07/28/06 at 9:37 AM EDT]

Challenges of Linking Kuwaiti Production with Oil Reserve

Ten members of the Kuwaiti National Assembly last week tabled a motion to link Kuwait's crude oil production with its oil reserve. After it is passed by parliament it will become a law under which the Ministry of Energy and the oil sector will operate.

Aging grids cited in blackouts

The nation's power system may be showing its age.

Recent heat wave-related blackouts in California and New York are at least partly being blamed on creaky transformers, circuit breakers and cables.

Green Party candidate calls for national oil company

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for US Senate from New York, called today for the creation of a national oil company to help protect American consumers against the rapidly escalating price hikes for gasoline.

U.S. policy entangled by rising price of oil

Oil Is Like Milk; China Has No Need to Buy Cows Andy Mukherjee thinks China should trust the market.

If you need milk every day, you should buy a refrigerator. A cow in the backyard would be too much.

Japan joins the energy race

Nigeria oil hit by violence

Violence continues to stymie production in oil-rich Nigeria, as Royal Dutch Shell announced its production levels have not recovered in 2006 and armed militants took 40 oil workers hostage this week.

A Shell executive told reporters Wednesday that production levels were expected to be down in 2006 due to the continuing violence directed at foreign oil companies operating in the oil-rich West African nation.

API: U.S. Oil, Gas Drilling Activity Hits Two-Decade High In Q2

Portland prepares peak oil briefing book

To: The editors, contributors and readers at the Oil Drum
Re: Electricity

I would like to make a pitch for one or more threads on the electrical grid, primarily in the United States, but also worldwide. Consider the following:

  • Arguably even more than automobile transportation, electricity is fundamental to the way we live and work today
  • Electricity has been gaining in share of all energy consumption since its inception
  • Many of the peak oil mitigation solutions being proposed at the Oil Drum and elsewhere involve electricity, for example electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs, PHEVs), light rail, certain renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, and of course the rebirth of nuclear fission
  • Electricity is relatively agnostic as to how it's generated and as such is a good energy exchange format between a wide variety of sources and sinks
  • Electricity is in the news during the hot summer months as usage strains capacity
  • Fossil fuel-based electricity generation, particularly coal, is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions

For these reasons and more, I for one would be quite interested in learning more about how the electrical grid works, not just technically, but economically and politically as well. I know there is a lot of information readily available, (http://www.eia.doe.gov/fuelelectric.html, for example), but it would be nice to see the topic discussed here. I don't have the expertise to write about the grid, but it's likely that qualified and willing contributors can be readily found amongst the Oil Drum community and their friends, professional colleagues and family members.
I think many folks here agree that electricity is one of the best mediums of energy from primary source to end user. It's flexibility and vast infrastructure make it a natural fallback from liquid fuels in many areas like rail transportation. I would be interested in know more about this as well.

Maybe we should contact these folks and see if they have an expert to help lead a discussion on the topic.

I think you meant www.epri.com.  They appear to still require the redundant "www" subdomain.  Not including it can lead to problems under some browsers, like Safari, apparently.
If it can't follow the redirect it's a bug in Safari, the EPRI site seems to be set up just fine ...
Calorie, I agree with you.  The getting from where we are today to an electric future is a not so easy when you look at all the things that have to change.

I am reposting my response that was near the bottom of the Khosla ethanol thread.  
Here are my thoughts again.

   1. Reduce consumption everywhere, particularly liquid fuels, via drive for efficiency of motors and conversion of fuel energy to work.
   2. Eliminate waste everywhere.  All waste will be some one elses raw material.  Stop sending everything to Land fills.  Ames Iowa has one of three Resource Recovery plants in the nation (built in the 1970's) that sorts metals, glass and others and and provides refuse derived fuel, RDF. The RDF is sent directly to the coal fired generating plant and reduces coal consumption very significantly, electric rates haven't changed for 25 years.  We need more of this approach  country wide.
   3. Mass transit should be funded massively to reduce use of cars for work commuting.  This can be electric, hybrid diesel or other and can be light rail buses or other.  The goal is lots of bodies moved per btu's consumed.
   4. Raise CAFE standards (double?) now with built in increases yearly.  Make sure these can't be reversed if things improve in the short run.
   5. Do not pick winning transportation strategy (hybrid, electric, hydrogen, NG, etc.) but allow 3) to crank up innovation.
   6. Each state must identify the correct mix of alternative low fossil fuel energy to chase.  This needs to be fostered with incentives provided nationally to holistically reduce energy consumption and start capturing renewable energy.
   7. I live in Iowa and see ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans as viable for the midwest.  Good EROEI in these states where irrigation is not needed.  This technology should not be exported to all 50 states.
   8.  For the midwest it makes sense to maintain a liquid fuel supply to farm and transport agricultural commodities.  Biofuels can meet this need with waste streams feeding animals or used for industrial purposes.  
   9. The loop on biofuels can be closed in the midwest.  Percent of crop used to make fuel which is used to plant and harvest next crop with distillers grains and glycerine being used locally to make more food.  If this can be done other places with other raw material it should be pursued.  Energy must be captured and used locally, don't make ethanol from cellulose in New England and send it to Arizona for consumption.  All the efficiency is lost in transportation.
  10. The goal is for each state/region to manage their energy balance, gaining as much non fossil energy as possible from appropriate sources.  Every southern state is a natural for solar cells on every roof surface.
  11. Push solar, wind and micro-hydro at the individual consumer level.  Facilitate a distributed grid for electricity production and storage.  Lots of small generating sites rather than a few huge generating sites.  Big companies can manage the maintenance and distribution system.
  12. All of above should be set up to allow people to track their consumption and production of energy so that feed back loops get created.
  13. Once people are more responsible for having to maintain more of their balance of energy they will hunt for ways to use less and make more on their own because it has direct financial benefit to them.

I believe in the silver BB's approach to reducing reliance on fossil fuel.  Government and investment capital needs to stop trying to replace oil, NG and coal with technology X.  Isn't going to happen.  Invest instead in conservation approaches and on site energy capture.  

This needs to be a 50 year, minimum, retooling of the United States.  The Interstate highways took 50 years to build.  The new transportation and energy system will take just as long but will be self sustainable when complete.

Over the 50 years it takes to get off oil and coal world population has to be allowed to decrease through lower birth rates matched with natural die off of elderly.  If we stop having lots of children in 30-50  years 6 billion people will be die naturally at the end of their life span.  At that time a smaller population can use the energy capture system that will have been built to maintain a stable population.

That's the vision.  How do we convince moneyed and political interests to buy into that long term view at the expense of short term gain?


Those are all good suggestions...but I have two problems:

  1. Essentially, your thrust is to maintain the status quo.  It seems to me that what is needed is a new societal paradigm, that is, one that leads away from a growth-based economy.  Were this to occur, appropriate, necessary change will follow from it.

  2.  A time-frame based upon change over a generation+ is unrealistic.  I'm not even sure we have five years.  My optimistic outlier is ten years.

Well, that's the problem really.  I do see many possibilities - things we could do.  But the time difference between how long it would take to implement them (not to mention money and other resources) vs. how quickly the old paradigm falls apart leaves a very big hole to fill.  It's the "transition" period, and how can we make it across that worry me.

Further, if we should really have a hard time before we can complete our investment in new infrastructure, then it will make finishing it that much harder.  I think after the fall of Rome, civilization fell too far too fast, and look how long it took to dig its way back out.  

"One cannot leap a great chasm in 2 bounds" - You either get to the other side in one, or you fall in the hole.

I agree with both of you.  Population is the problem because it drives consumption and we might be in overshoot already.

My approach might ( I stress might) if we really reduce fossil fuel consumption immediately.  We can't go cold turkey the infrastructure won't allow it.

The problem I see is there is no real proactive plan to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.  Until we try and power some things with renewable, and prove how little energy will be available, there will be no target for energy consumption per person to shoot for.  I see too many people voicing the concept of using all the fossil fuels we want until it is well past peak and then we will shift to "the new energy sources".  That approach is dangerous.  

Better to force consumption now, and start using alternatives now, giving us some emergency stored fossil fuel to make the 50 year transition.  This approach is really for the developed countries to implement.  The third world doesn't consume that much fossil fuel except as food.  The world needs to know there isn't the carrying capacity for 6.5 Billion people.  Not enough energy, not enough food without the energy.  What is the carrying capacity using renewables?  I haven't a clue but we better find out soon.

Sorry - above should say "Better force conservation ..." - not consumption.

The goal needs to be a planned steep decline in use of energy and population.  The alternative is dropping off a cliff. Both energy and population will crash.  We will end at the same place wether we engineer the decline or we crash.  The difference is what is left of civilization via the two paths.

"The world needs to know there isn't the carrying capacity for 6.5 Billion people.  Not enough energy, not enough food without the energy.  What is the carrying capacity using renewables? "

Renewables can provide more than enough.  Wind in the US could generate twice the electricity we use now.  The earth receives 100,000 terawatts of solar energy continously from the sun, and humans use the equivalent of 4.5 terawatts on average.


It's late so you may not see this before this thread goes to thread heaven.

We all want to believe that there are alternatives that will work.  But, the reality is that homo sapiens are sucking every resource dry - water, aerable land, gas, oil, the sea, minerals, forests; everything.

It is a package deal.  Gaia if you will.  There are no magic answers.  I say this from personal experience since I embraced alternative energy and a concern for sustaible living 30 years ago.  I'm not into theoretical arguments about alternatives.

I'm not going to tell you are wrong because a change in reality only comes through experience.


"the reality is that homo sapiens are sucking every resource dry - water, aerable land, gas, oil, the sea, minerals, forests; everything."

Well, I agree that there are serious problems with all of these.  I haven't had time to research all of them thoroughly.  But TOD is dedicated to peak oil, and I have had time to research PO and energy thoroughly, and as far as I can tell peak oil is NOT peak energy.  I find that encouraging.

"It is a package deal.  Gaia if you will.  There are no magic answers."

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  It sounds a little...err...faith based.  This seems unclear and fuzzy.  I respect the role of intuition, but I find that I don't understand something in a clear way I get in trouble.  

"I say this from personal experience since I embraced alternative energy and a concern for sustaible living 30 years ago."

I've been interested in these things for more than 30 years too, ever since I read the Club of Rome's report.

"I'm not into theoretical arguments about alternatives.  I'm not going to tell you are wrong because a change in reality only comes through experience."

Well...talking about this, and learning from each other, is what we do here.   I know there are people feeling pessimistic, but that alone doesn't really tell me whether that makes sense, or give me a chance to change your mind.  I think you shouldn't give up on things, and that includes not giving up on communication - we can't come to a consensus on things unless we talk about them.

"Renewables can provide more than enough.  Wind in the US could generate twice the electricity we use now.  The earth receives 100,000 terawatts of solar energy continously from the sun, and humans use the equivalent of 4.5 terawatts on average."

One thing that interests me about renewables is that there seems to be a tacit assumption that, because they're renewable, they don't have a significant downside to their use.

All that solar energy being dumped on the Earth isn't going to waste, for example. Much of it heats the atmosphere and the hydrosphere, which makes conditions amenable for life. I wonder what environmental changes would result if humanity were to capture a significant chunk of solar energy, say 10  or 20 percent (20,000 terawatts), and redirect it through technological infrastructure. Sure, waste heat would contribute to keeping things warm (perhaps too warm!), but it would be distributed through the atmsophere in a different way. Could be detrimental.

I wonder what harnessing 4.5 to 9.0 terawatts via wind energy would due to local environments? Wind turbines tap into fluid momentum, and must produce a lot of friction on airflow. On a massive scale, wind "farms" could, perhaps, alter local wind-climates (at the surface), which may also have some interesting effects on local ecosystems.

Just some ideas. I would like to see more deep thought on just what the true ramifications may be for a full-scale "power-up" on renewables.


On a massive scale, wind "farms" could, perhaps, alter local wind-climates (at the surface), which may also have some interesting effects on local ecosystems.

Yes, I provided that link a few days ago :

Sow the Wind, Reap the Drag Coefficient (Dept. of "We are as gods, and might as well get good at it")

The main conclusion of the article seems to be that wind power would help with global warming, both by reducing CO2, and by shifting the balance between the poles and the middle latitudes.
The question you're asking is: how will using solar energy change the earth's albedo?  IOW, how will reflection change vs absorption?  The answer is, not much, and if it did the result would be much smaller than the effect of heat engine waste heat, and global warming.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that the solar energy is typically absorbed as heat now.  The likely places for solar panels is existing structures.  PV might change the albedo a little, but not a whole lot. There are a lot of buildings with dark roofs, which absorb a lot already - PV might actually absorb less.

Heat engines (coal, nat gas, gasoline ICE's) throw
off 3 units of heat for every unit of electricity generated.  IF solar absorbed an additional .1 unit for every unit generated, that would be a 30 to 1 difference, and that doesn't even include the reduction in CO2 and global warming.

If you were really concerned, it wouldn't be a big deal to make some human structures a little lighter to compensate for a little more absorption at the solar panels.  Really, the whole effect is negligible.

Nick, I like your thoughts.

However, I think the change of albedo would become significant if the goal is to collect a high percentage of insolation. If, for instance, an attempt to collect 80-90% of total insolation was successful, then the Earth's albedo must change from it's estimate of around 0.30.

Anyway, I'll keep thinking...


" If, for instance, an attempt to collect 80-90% of total insolation was successful, then the Earth's albedo must change from it's estimate of around 0.30."

Sure.  Of course, that would be about 20,000 times as much energy as we use now.  I think it's safe to say that human energy use will level out a long time before that.

Oh, and thanks!
Looking just at gasoline, there are some things we can do immediately to decrease consumption:

  1. I think Americans could learn to drive about 10% less by carpooling, combining trips, vacationing closer to home, and god-forbid maybe even taking some trips on foot or bike.
  2. Reinstitue the 55 mph speed limit.
  3. Use the A/C in the car less.

These three steps could bring an immediate 10 to 20% reduction in gasoline use and could buy us a few years to make longer term and more dramatic changes such as:

  1. increased electric rail in cities and towns.
  2. dramatic reductions in personal automobile use.
  3. returning to rail and river as the main means of shipping.
  4. slowly migrating out of the suburbs and megalopolises and back into our small cities and towns.  My little town alone (pop. 15000) has 500,000 sq ft of unused space above the shops of our 6 or 7 block downtown retail district.  In the 19th century, these were used as apartments.  Today no one lives there bc/ of the lack of parking, but they could very easily be converted back to 500 or so housing units without any new construction.  These floors are literally just sitting empty or maybe store the owner's junk.  On several of our streets, the rails that haven't been used by electric trolleys in 60 years are still in place.

 I see the "powerdown" as a return to a late 19th century standard of living.  Lots of walking, mass transit, a substantially increased percentage of people working in agriculture, less cross country and international travel. more river and rail transport.
Here here!  The problem will not be a lack of energy.  It will be a resistance to change.  This would all be easy but for cultural inertia.
The problem is never energy, it is always power (& energy) density.
I'm not saying people will make these changes willingly, certainly not at first.  They'll do so when energy becomes expensive enough.  My point is, there is some slack in the system- some very easy ways to reduce consumption- and this could buy us some time.  If in the meantime people start realizing the true nature of our predicament, then maybe we can make the transition to a new paradigm.  

The future may look a lot like the past:


It already looks a little like that -- okay transit in many major cities in the United States. Cyclists disembark Caltrain at Palo Alto Station on Bike To Work Day
This looks like every day at any of the train stations around here.

I remember sharing rides being fairly common in the 70s when I was a kid. If one person had a car, there were several people who knew them and a ride for the one person into town often ended up being a ride into town for a couple of their pals too. In fact a person would be considered standoffish, greedy/cold if they always drove by themself. We'd have really been hurting without welfare though. As 'rough' as my memories of the dirty 70s, are, they'll be nothing compared to the 2nd great depression coming up.

I actually heard that driving with your windows down uses at least as much energy as driving with your A/C on. Especially at highway speeds.

Also, reinstating the 55 mph limit will not necessarily make people drive 55 mph. I actually think the limit has little bearing on how fast people actually drive.

I use quite a bit more gas driving with my windows down at moderate speeds compared to running my AC. I'd hate to think what kind of gas I'd waste doing it at freeway speeds.

My car's a darkish color and heats up quite a bit, I have to run the AC once the outside temperature exceeds 75F! I could avoid using the AC a lot more if it were a much lighter color, and didn't have a huge expanse of black dashboard under the sloping windshield. Anyone who has a Prius knows what I mean.

Since I have long hair, I prefer a car with a closed cabin. With summer in progress, the gas mileage has dropped from 28mpg to around 24.5mpg. Not that damn bad, but I sure would like better gas mileage.

The A/C unit aboard a car will use up energy if for no other reason being that it causes the engine to have a faster idle. That causes the gas mileage drop. With my Kia Rio of Year 2001 the car has the mpg as above. 28 in winter and 24.5 in summer. Aggressive driving is no help! :)

Change the work week. 4/40 saves 20% of commute gas; 3/36 saves 40%.
I already have a tendancy to combine trips. The problem of commuting isn't combining missions but the damn commuting mission itself. By moving closer to a workplace, you get to save on the gas. I plan on moving 5 miles closer to work - and I'll get to save on a fifth each way of gasoline.

It's easy to combine trips on a commuting mission. You can stop off at this or that mall on a mission home but you still use that damn gas for the mission home. That is the problem for the commuter. I use 3 fifths of gas each way as of now. I will use two fifths each way once I move. In a push-come-to-shove case, I will be able to use a bus as a "booster rocket" to get a bicycle toward where I work.

It's plenty about time that suburbanitic people think in terms of gas use instead of "minutes". That is, "gallons away" or "liters away". See above, and I think in terms of a "fifth" with the gas! Just yesterday, I saw a gas station with a sign of $3.76-and-the-9 a gallon. One penny short of a buck a liter. That was for the premium stuff. Buck a liter gas is coming, like it or not.

That with suburbanitic people thinking in terms of "minutes away" has always escaped me. The assumption is always that you use a car. If you don't always use a car, miles (or kilometers) becomes the better measure of distance. Time will depend on distance and transit use, and your walking. If you walk fast, you get to reduce travel time.

i would venture to guess that the grids are contructed as inexpensive as possible. That being said, during the aftermath of hurricane Rita, we lost power at 1pm each day and it came back on at approx 11pm, for about a week after the hurricane had passed. I was not affected by the hurricane, but apparently i was on a grid, that stretches from lower Louisiana, along the Texas east coast, and just north of Houston. And they (the electric company) were making repairs along the grid, and they would shut down a section to repair it.
I would imagine the grids are contructed whereas to spend as little money as possible to keep it going. Just my thoughts! It's all about the money!
I think the grid is suffering from the same problem the highway system is.  Basically, it's Tainter's diminishing returns.

When we first built it, we never imagined the load we would one day put on it, nor how dependent upon it we would eventually be.  That makes it hard to rebuild and repair the system.

I think the 60:s generation of US grid builders had no problem at all to imagine todays load. They planned that the load would be even higher and where in a little to great a hurry to get the first generation of nuclear powerplants on line and thus dident get them standardized thru competition or cooperation.

What they could not imagine were probably that the electricity distribution companies would neglect to continue invest and build upon their exelent system and that people at large would stop necessery investments due to NIMBY.

There is an old Swedish farmers saying for this that litteraly translates "To live on rust and rot", that is neglecting to maintain and reinvest in your houses and equipment and letting them wear down. An existance for retiering people withouth heirs, for people who dont care much about the future.

A lot of our power grid was built in the 1930s.  The population is almost three times as large now, never mind the increase in the size of the homes, the number of gadgets, air-conditioning, etc.  

Then there's the Internet.  I doubt anyone foresaw today's giant server farms in the '60s, let alone the '30s.

The 130-150 kV level dates roughly from the 30:s in Sweden and is very common as a regional distribution voltage with significant new lines in growing areas. It were  soon superseeded by a 220 kV grid that I think where most important in the 50:s, built to get power from far away hydro powerplants. And that in turn were superseeded by a 400 kV grid to get lower losses from far away hydro powerplants and higher capacity. The 220 kV level has then slowly been shrinking with lines scrapped or replaced by 400 kV lines. My impression is that the biggest limitation for this process are the 220 kV lines in our capital Stockholm where it more or less is used as a regional distribution voltage and there is not much room for 400 kV overhead lines and 400kV cables are significantly more expensive the 400 kV. This might mean that we will have 220 kV lines for manny more decades since they already exist and gives more redundancy then only a handfull of heavy transformers in the Stockholm area.

The 800 kV level were proposed and planned for in the 70:s to interconnect the nuclear powerplants in southern Sweden and it would then probably have started to replace 220 kV and 400 kV lines. The proposal died in the general technology scepticism following the nuclear power debate. There are rumours that a lot of the 400 kV poles installed in the 80:s are prepaired for lenghtening for a future conversion to 800 kV.

There must surely have been a simmilar development in the USA for your numerous coal and nuclear powerplants built in the 60:s and 70:s. It would be quite odd if the backbone of your grid were fromn the about a 100 kV era.

The building of main grid lines have been a slow addition of DC-links, upgrades of old 220 kV lines and a few new short 400 kV lines for better redundancy after the building boom during the height of our nuclear investments. Investments are planned to increase to facilitate more power trading and  more redundancy. I have heard no rumours about 800kV upgrades but it is undecided if a new major link in southern Sweden should be 400 kV overhead line or a HVDC cable. There is also a major reworking of the Stockholm power distribution underway. But we are not especially different from you, this would probably not have happened if we not had had a few major outtages showing that that the redundancy were incomplete and the grid did not deliver the expected quality of service. I am afraid that proactive maintainance and investment needs an accident now and then, hopefully one can learn from others mistakes.

In America transmission lines are held up in the air on towers with plenty of space between the conducting wires. They likely could handle a megavolt or two. In any case, as you step up the grid's voltage, you will need to upgrade the transformers on both ends. You could add transformers and wire them in series with existing ones, but that cuts reliability. The old transformer is liable to conk out from insulation breakdown. Not only that, as you put transformer outputs in series, you must keep them separated to keep conductors apart.

As I drive home on my commute, I get to see (and marvel at) a substation. You have the "extreme" voltage transmission lines go to it, then it feeds huge transformers and it has giant capacitors to even out power factor. The conductors between the parts are exposed pieces of pipe.

In downtown Chicago, the extreme voltage power is carried underground. But that takes heavy-duty insulation on the wiring. Possible all right, but not cheap. Even a "mere" 4,200 volts takes some impressive insulation on the wires. It's way cheaper to have exposed cable on towers for long range power transmission - despite lossiness.

AC overhead powerlines insulated with air have lower losses and higher capacity then long AC cables insulated with plastic or oil filled paper.

This is due to a cables higher capacitance to ground. During a period this capacitance is charged and if the cable is long enough it is time to reverse the current flow when the cable is fully charged leaving no power to extract for doing work at the other end. (Not a very good explanation :-( )

An overhead cable also have better natural cooling then an insulated cable making it possible to run a higher currant thru the same gauge of conducting metal.

Making it possible to use long cables and to exchange power between unsyncronized AC grids were the original reasons for developing HVDC. It is also more efficient for very long overhead power lines due to the same unsensitivity to the lines capacitance.

Not just the transformers - also breakers, instrumentation, etc.  I doubt that those towers could be upgraded to support a transmission voltage of 2X without replacement - the devil is always in the details, and there's a reason those towers were built the way they were.
Its of the shelf technology up to at least 800 kV AC.
The voltage rating of a power transmission is largely determined by the insulators on the towers. The stacks of glass disks must be long enough not to track over even when wet. They are expensive and are not normally made longer than needed for the  rating.

Also as the voltage goes up so do the corona losses (the slight crackle you can hear and the blue glow on wet nights). The extent of corona lines depends on electric field strength near the conductors and the smaller the conductor the higher the field strength at its surface. Very high voltage lines use multiple strands on each phase separated by spacers to approximate a larger diameter conductor and so lower the electric field strength.

The number of strands is increased as the voltage rises. This shows a four strand conductor. You would need to upgrade the conductors as well as the insulators if you increased the voltage.

I doubt data centers use radically more power than any other industrial installation. Industrial energy users that suck electricity off the grid have been around for a long time.
I think you'd be surprised.  A server farm can use the electricity of a small city.  Indeed, many of them have their own power plants, which has added to the natural gas crunch.

Yeah, the raft of 1U servers I have in the Portland Maine colo all have 450 watt power supplies. I've never understood what that means in terms of real power draw - except that power draw in not something the manufacturers want to reduce - they would rather bragg about it.

I'm in process of replacing all the servers in my local office with laptops and mean to get John Howe to spec me out a solar system to keep them going on 12v. I'll be able to sleep at night knowing all the servers in the colo are backed up with honking diesels. Grrr.

Lots of local electronics ought to run quite nicely on 12 or 24 vdc.

I do NOT know what the load of a 24x7 server with a 450 watt power supply really is. Except that to it one must add a lot of air conditioning. Does anyone have good numbers?


Knowing the power of the power supply doesn't tell you the power the server is using. It would be best to get one of those kill a watt devices and measure the power consumption. I know my newest 1.8 Ghz computer with 3 hard drives and LCD monitor uses about 150 watts. Laptop computers tend to be be sluggish compared to servers. It depends on what you are doing. Do you need the speed? Surfing the net with a laptop is a big energy saver.
Huh? Manufacturers do very much care about power usage issues, the AMD vs Intel war is largely being duked out over exactly that right now. See how the new Core chips are being sold as ideal for data centers.
I've gotta admit, I never heard of a data center having its own power plant and I know a few people working in the colo industry. Nearly all of them have their own backup generators running off diesel though, which can often keep them online for a few days or so (at best). That's not really a power plant though.

But for standard operational use they're almost always connected to the local electricity companies. Some are connected to several, with redundant feeds coming in at opposite ends of the building.

I was skeptical too, but did a little web searching and their huge power draw is basically true, at least for the largest server farms. However, there has been some confusion with the numbers, even by the New York Times.

From News.com:
It was an uphill battle for U.S. Dataport, a company in San Jose, Calif., that planned a $1.2 billion server farm that would be the world's largest data center. It called for 10 huge air-conditioned warehouses on 174 acres that would constantly draw 180 megawatts of electricity--about enough to provide energy for all the homes in a city the size of Honolulu.

Wow! However, consider that this is the "world's largest data center." Census.gov says the population of Honolulu was about 380,000. So by their estimate, each person in a city draws almost 500 watts. They don't say exactly how many square feet the installation was, but assuming the warehouse area was half the land area, it would be roughly 3.75 million sq. ft. This gives a power draw of almost 50 watts per square foot.

Then from a Charlotte newspaper:
Relocating server farms to rural locations shaves pennies per kilowatt-hour. But because server farms can consume as much power as a city of some 35,000 people, even modest reductions in electricity rates can save millions of dollars a year.

OK, but vague with no mention of the size of such a farm.

The New York Times wrote in April 2001:
Known as telecommunications hotels, server farms or data centers, these warehouses for computers, operating 24 hours a day, are also huge power guzzlers.

Developers are planning more than 46 of them in New York City and Westchester County over the next four years, according to Consolidated Edison. Dozens of similar projects are planned for the New Jersey and Connecticut suburbs, according to real estate firms and power companies.

But while the explosive demand is good news for an industry that needs some lately, it is alarming to some others -- most notably to energy providers. Con Edison officials say that the growth of server farms in coming years could contribute to already-looming power capacity difficulties in the New York region.

A single low-rise installation planned for the South Bronx would draw 180 megawatts all by itself when it is operating at its peak. By comparison, the World Trade Center, with its twin 100-story towers and underground shopping mall, draws 87 megawatts.

This sounds questionable, if the "world's largest" farm draws only the same amount. Where can you find 174 acres in the South Bronx??
Con Edison engineers say they have been taken aback by the fact that the 46 server farms have asked for a minimum draw of 500 megawatts of electricity -- roughly the amount of power required by 500,000 homes. The requests would increase the load in Con Edison's service area, all of New York City and Westchester County, by 4 percent. The peak load, the maximum power used at the height of consumption, is now about 11,850 megawatts.


The average data center consumes 60 to 100 kilowatts of electricity per square foot, compared with 6 to 8 kilowatts per square foot in an average commercial office building, said Tom Uhl, the project manager for Con Edison's telecom hotel team.

This last number is obviously an editing error: 100 kilowatts per square foot would set the installation on fire in seconds! They meant 60 - 100 watts.

This is confirmed by Armory Lovins:
Q&A: Amory B. Lovins
Energy Expert Talks About California's Crisis

Don't the big Web-hosting facilities such as Exodus consume a lot of power?

You will often read in the press that they use 100, 200, even 300 watts a square foot, which would mean that they look like an office but act kind of like a small smelter. They don't actually use that much -- the measured intensity is typically around 30 to 60 watts per square foot. However, even that could be very much lower.
In our own office last year, we replaced four Windows NT servers with a little Linux box the size of a book, called a Rebel NetWinder. It peaks at about 15 watts, and normally pokes along at a few watts. It's faster, cheaper and more capable than the four NT boxes put together. It doesn't take up much space, and it uses 98 or 99 percent less electricity than the four boxes it replaces.

So 60 watts/sq. ft sounds like a reasonable ballpark number. What would an "average" data farm be, though? A 100x250 foot building filled with computers sounds pretty darn big to me, but by these numbers it would only draw 1.5 megawatts - a "city" of about 3000 people.
And if you are Google.. you need your own hydro-electric plant to run it!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/technology/14search.html?ex=1307937600&en=d96a72b3c5f91c47& ;ei=5090

Depends a lot on what the machines are doing. But I mean compared to an aluminium smelter for instance, data centers are nothing new. The fact that they've suddenly got press attention is because there aren't many other big industrial complexes being built right now. Also because they sometimes feature household names like Google, MS, Yahoo etc ...
Yes, the Swedes knew about this, and folklore abounds with warnings about penny wise and pound foolish.  There is a wonderful old Temperance song: Shingling the Rumseller's Roof that pretty well sums up the mess we are in due to energy addiction http://polleymusic.lincolnlibraries.org/TemperanceRallySongsPart4h.pdf

Repairs and upgrades cost a phenomenal amount more.

I've run an internet service provider since 1994. Every year new competition would come online with new boxes that at half the cost and twice the power. I'd be supporting existing clients with legacy technology. Every upgrade was difficult and pissed off existing users. New clients would wonder why our system didn't work out of the box like new systems.

Ultimately, we realized it was cheaper to break and fix, just like the grid repairs. Shut down, redo, restart. Put the phones on hold and do it as fast as possible. There is no way to migrate everyone smoothly. From day 1 we thought internet access was a telco or cable job, so we went after the online commerce. But the same thing happened. We're on version 3 of our catalog system and may never get to version 4 because the transition will be impossibly complex and expensive. Too many interdependencies. And our competition is running on commodity sofware and hardware. Less capable but decoupled. I wonder how google deals with the Tainter problems?

Whether it's the highway system, the grid, just-in-time grain supplies, our economy as a whole - less energy (which is same as less expense) is going to force decentralization. So when the grid goes down, it won't be as much of it that goes down. A lot of the internet is like that, but the new COPE act, CALEA and surveillance provisions are driving it into a much more complex - and therefore unreliable - position. How human!

Our oil infrastructure underlies everything; it's highly complex and modern economics has stripped all the redundancy. One tanker taken out by a rocket on the high seas - what would that do to the system?

It seems impossible to replace oil with another more costly alternative at a lower EROEI point that will require an even larger, more complex and more costly infrastructure. The expense of alternatives and conversion to them is nearly unthinkable; the only real alternative is to back down the complexity. Anything that depends on building more technological infrastructure is not going to work until we decouple and decentralize.


Boy you should read Tainter's "Collapse of Complex Societies".  The situations you describe are exactly like the problems evolving societies face as they become more complex (small problems that would be easily handled at a lower level of complexity become disruptive and insurmountable at a higher level of complexity) and the solutions you describe (decentralized, less complex) is what Tainter says is what is the inevitable final result.

Unfortunately, the transition periods can be very violent and wrenching, and a smaller population is ultimately supported.



50 countries, anyone?
50 countries? Don't feel bad. Read this "pledge of allegiance":

I pledge allegiance, to the flags,
Of the Divided States of America,
And to the Republics, for which they stand,
50 Nations, under Greed, further divisible,
with poverty and injustice, for most.

I developed that not-such-a-pledge back last century!

my version was always:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stood, one nation under the almighty dollar, divided, with liberty and justice for those who can afford it.
I think globally and act loco [sic]:

I pledge allegiance to the United States of Adam Smith and to the Republican Finger which they obey, one global economy, under Gold, indivisble, with profits and corporate liberty for those who can afford it. Amen.

Khebab pointed out to me a few weeks ago that (if I recall correctly) satellites last up to 14 year max, with an average of 7 years. As rocket fuel becomes more expensive, or simply unavailable, a crucial part of our infrastructure will fade away and leave us with a very difficult problem to patch.
Rocket fuel cost is a very small part of the overall cost, even the cost of all raw metal and common parts is a small part of the cost.

The big cost is the man hours for designing, producing, assembling and testing the satellite, its custom instruments and the launcher.

The sensetive part is probaly if something would stop those workers from working and not move closer to work during a powerdown scenario and if manny producers of parts and subassmeblies goes bankrupt and wont restart buisness with new owners due to having the bulk of their business in other areas with low demand.

But a tenfold increase in metal prices and a hundredfold increase in rocket fuel cost will not stop launching of essential satelites.

If you worry about the above scenarios get the satellite, rocket and key subasembley manufacturers to increase the ammount of in-house work and move suppliers closer to the main factories. Use non in-house electronics and so on with a solid demand in the civilian and military sector. And plan for building some nice neighbourhoods close to the factories perhaps even staring on them.

The proof for this being possible is in Indias space program when India were much poorer then today.

But it is of course possible for a military industrial complex to prioritize away the production of vital services and fuble the means to assure fulfilling long term contracts. But that is not an energy problem, its a management, politics and smart customers problem.

Um, wait a minute. The amount of hydrocarbons used in a single space launch is nothing compared to our daily consumption. We're talking about a few hundred thousand gallons a few times per year. We could produce that stuff from bio fuel sources (even at an energy loss) just to ensure we had the satellites since the function they serve is huge. In other words, we could, with a nuclear/solar/wind backed electric based infrastructure, continue building and launching several satellites per year indefinitely. The volume of liquid fuel involved is so small and the value returned that a negative EROEI could be accepted up to some pretty bad values.
You're right about satellites. The ISS is pretty much a waste, but electronic sattelites are too useful to pass up. And indeed, becuse of only a very small percentage of fuel is used to launch them, we can accept an energy-loss situation. Indeed, that's the case with liquid hydrogen as the fuel half of rocket propellant. Also, energy is wasted to liquefy air to get liquid oxygen for the other half. We accept that energy use becuse LOX (don't confuse with the fish for bagels) is useful in hospitals for oxygen supply systems. In fact, some people have LOX in their house for healthcare reasons!
I read that as you were run over by technical development while not understanding the basic technology well enough to make it upgradable. This is very hard to do with IT systems, the only example I am sure about is Ericssons old AXE telphone exchange.

Electricity distrubution technology advances at a snails pace compared with computers and slapped togeather software standards such as HTML and its numerous backends. I do not find it meaningfull to compare those technologies. Making a grid redundant is a straightforward technical job where almost everything is known. The electricity users demand more reliability, slowely add more overtone noise and like to buy more power but they do not build vast mazes of tangled wiering such as the hodgepodges of online systems.

It should be easy, customers are demanding better services are probably willing to pay for it, the technology is known, you basically only have to actually make the investments and send the bills. If your grid goes down its becouse you are stupid, not becouse of some complexity natural law.

Hardly no one have had better resources to build and run a gold plated 99.99% 24/7 grid then USA. And you are still rich, fix it or bleed!

And you are still rich, fix it or bleed!

If it were up to me, I would.  I think investing in infrastructure is a great thing to do to prepare for peak oil.  It ain't going to get any cheaper or easier after TSHTF.  

But we've known the grid is a problem for at least 20 years, and haven't done squat about it.  

I thought for sure they'd finally get moving after the Blackout of 2003, where half the country and part of Canada went dark.  But no, our Congresscritters talked about fixing the grid for about a week after the blackout, then did nothing.  

If that blackout wasn't enough to get them moving, nothing is.

We had an equivalent for country size blackout in southern Sweden and eastern Denmark in september 2003. Manny powerplants and powerlines were down for maintainance and then we had a freak N-2 or N-3 accident. One about 1100 MW nuclear powerplant went off line (N-1) and before the spare gas turbines were spun up a faulty "breaker" in a 400 kV switchyard broke down leaving one about 800 MW nuclear block off line (N-2) and the arch blew across the switchyard and shorted the feed from another about 800 MW nuclear powerplant (N-3).

This prompted a complete reanalysis of the Nordic grids and a revision of the common standards. The basic goal is to weather one N-1 during maximum (winter) load and then another one after the 15 minutes it takes to get the spare gas turbines on line. (An N-1 is the at any time most loaded powerplants, powerline, transformer or busbar going down. )

The freak accident seems to have led to about a doubling of the maintainance pace of the switchyards but I dont know if and how they have solved this kind of sensitivity to arces blowing in an unfortunate direction. And I am only 90% sure since I have not cheked the budget and yearly reports from the authority running our HV grid but they use to do what they plan.

The larger investments in redundancy will take a few more years before they are done, they are slowed down by NIMBY politics. And I guess the old work for making the major powerplants able to go to house turbine running have continued, not all of them weatherd this disturbance and thus took extra time to get on line.

Perhaps this is helped by the political dynamics of the grid spanning several countries? We do not accept wekanesses in our neighbours powerlines taking our grid down and vice versa. Chould not Canada put preassure on you?

What a wonderful post.  And a most "quotable quote"P:

"Whether it's the highway system, the grid, just-in-time grain supplies, our economy as a whole - less energy (which is same as less expense) is going to force decentralization."

DEcentralize.  Not even the United States will remain United before this Storm ends.

Become a Micro Utility and focus on your Profoundly Locale as the Kunst's man sayeth ;).  Your Local World will beat a path to your door (and you will get sick of it and have to hire someone to deal with the putzes).

I guess once I move, I'll have to get a hybrid car and behead a parking meter! Does Home Depot sell pipe cutters?
"Pirates of the Caribbean" is likely to become Reality TV for someonez...
The power grid is one of the textbook examples of NIMBY-ism. No one wants transmission towers, power lines, or large substations built anywhere close to where they live. And they really don't want a power plant close to where they live. Many, if not most, urban growth plans fail to include corridors for transmission facilities. Many easements for transmission facilities that were granted in the past are too narrow for new, larger facilities, and expanding them may involve condemnation and eminent domain. In many places, new transmission facilities must be approved by a combination of local, state and federal authorities, some with conflicting goals. In some states, the review process for transmission siting is not closed-ended; that is, there is no limit to the amount of time agencies can hold a request without responding.

One of the reasons that the grid is rickety is that "politics" makes it hard to expand it.

If we are trying to reduce our demand for fossil fuels, why would we want to expand the grid?  Maybe we should make it more reliable, but expand it?  Please don't.  

The focus needs to be on demand management, not grid expansion.  

Lower your standard of living then. Population continues to rise and if we do not expand the grid to accomodate it then each person must use less and less power. This is just like AlphaMaleProphetOfDoom's rhetorical point that people won't reduce their income because it affects their social fitness. So sure, you be the first to reduce you electrical usage and then find a way to convince the majority that what you are doing has social value, else they won't buy into it.
That's a problem with the grid. They put it together in the cheapest way possible, to optimise profit. If they went for reliability it would have cost a lot more to have cobbled it together.

But power companies now have a challenge. If we add in electrified rail you need more capacity - and better reliability. Consider the idea of trolley buses. If there's a blackout, you cause traffic jams as the buses "die" and are marooned in the middle of the street. That is, unless the buses have emergency diesel generators onboard. (or at least a battery pack to pull to the side)

Back in the 1990s I had in my studio apartment a computer UPS plus a pair of marine batteries, becuse of frequent nuisance blackouts. A "nuisance blackout" is a blackout that lasts an hour or two. I used the UPS as a complete apartment battery backup system. With e-rail or e-buses as above, even a nuisance blackout will cause problems for commuters.

So, if we go with e-transit we will need a better, more reliable grid, not one made as damn cheaply as possible. While Germans like good engineering, we Yanks tend toward making everything as damn "economically" i.e. as cheap, as possible. And our power grid shows that tendancy.

California is the case of needing e-transit the most but the power grid is the least reliable. Remember Y2K1? California is the WORST place to add e-transit yet they need e-transit the most!

If I was a homeowner, I would love to have a hybrid car. That way, I could use the car as a temporary powerplant in a blackout. Kind of the plug-in hybrid in reverse.

    "we Yanks tend toward making everything as damn 'economically' as possible, i.e. as cheap as possible"

We Yanks, in our various governmental boxes -- city, county, state and national -- are largely limited by statutes requiring acceptance of a lowest bid, and by habit in commercial situations.  Exceptions to low bid in a governmental context tend to have adverse political fallout.  Oversight of contractors usually falls to accountants, attorneys, and politicos, not engineers.  Low bid also places contractors in the position of having to risk cutting corners to stay on budget and/or on time.   The problems uncovered in consequence of a death in Boston's "Big Dig" may be seen as an example of the dangers of exclusively low bid contracts.

No... we Brits way outdo you in cheapness...go and look at the quality of British houses... and look where the british car industry got by "designing on the cheap"!

Better to be a German...

And I was told that the saying "I'm not so rich to buy cheap things" is a British one... have to revise my info
Actually, German cars have fallen down lately in quality - according to a car industry quality management guy I know, Mercedes is behind Ford and GM....

Asian cars seem to be the only quality ones these days.

And, of course, there's the one where One guy says:

I'm so poor I owe the bank $5,000

To which his friend replies:

I'm so rich I owe the bank $500,000

There is no beating a Deutclander in terms of engineering. Just ask that Dieter Z, the Chrystler bkingpin. The Germans (Deutchlanderen) managed to make jet planes during the war. The Heinkel-162 was a good try for a "volksjager", a peoples' fighter. The problem is that they had no teenagers who played a "Flight Simulator"!

The Germans had their chance, but happily failed. They had their chance to be a superpower but failed along the way. They had submarine vehicles, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, but happily not a nuke. They were working on it but happily they they failed.

The proponents of the "free market" religion have deceived people and people accepted the deceit. The argument is made that free markets are more efficient (and they are in some respects) and that this efficiency should be applied to the power grid. Being greedy (cheap) human beings, we bought this line of thinking. But this is precisely why utilities were closely regulated monopolies in the past. The collective wisdom of just a few generations ago was that the reliability of the utility was more important than the efficiency. The only solution that has a working historical track record is to re-regulate the utilities and then place a higher priority on reliability than efficiency. Others have argued that there may be other ways to achieve the same thing. This may be possible so I am certainly open to such ideas. However, letting the "market" manage critical services does not seem wise.
I agree, corporations are much more likely to mine infrastructure than to maintain or improve it.
re: markets

"Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts would probably have been appalled. Politics and government down through the ages, while often brutal or grossly deficient, have been the subject matter of Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas and Machiavelli, Locke, and a few of America's own great names. Markets, by contrast, descend from fairs of late medieval Europe, church-permitted safety valves for gambling, money-lending, and other forms of license. The idea that they have turned into a vehicle for human governance lacks any base beyond the occasional financial publication." ---Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy (New York, 2002), p 417-418.

We have been suckered by the deregulaters in more than just electricity. When its only one set of wires and one main pipe I can hook up with there is essentially no choice for consumers. I think the nat gas utilities missed an opprotunity in my area of offering household CHP units. Of course in many parts of the country nat gas and electricity are provided by the same corporation and therefore no competition between the two.  

Electric cars

Not so shocking

Jul 27th 2006 | SANTA MONICA
From The Economist print edition

High-tech entrepreneurs unveil a sporty electric car

ASK people if they would buy a new electric car and most will respond blankly. After all, electric cars have not been seen in large numbers for nearly a century, and the golf carts and milk floats that represent electrified transport today are hardly the sort of vehicle to win many people over.

And don't terminate it the first time you drive it

Tesla Motors aims to alter that perception. The venture, based in California and financed by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, has unveiled a two-seat sports car. It will cost $89,000, and Tesla aims to sell a couple of thousand of them before introducing a cheaper, four-seat version.

The car's design alone is likely to turn old-fashioned notions of electric vehicles on their head. Beyond that, Tesla makes three audacious claims. The first is that the vehicle accelerates from nought to 100km (60 miles) per hour in just four seconds. That is faster than a Ferrari. The second is that it can travel 400km on an overnight charge from an ordinary 240 volt socket. The third is that it is more environmentally friendly than a petrol-driven equivalent.

There is no doubting its breathtaking quickness. And the range of 400km is a heroic accomplishment, made possible by the use of advanced lithium-ion batteries and lightweight carbon-fibre bodywork. Dr Musk, the firm's chairman, concedes that racing Ferraris all the time would reduce the range somewhat, but points out that, using the American government's methodology, the car's fuel efficiency is the equivalent of 52.5km per litre of petrol (135 miles per American gallon). The average new American car gets less than 12km per litre.

The grand claims of greenery might sound a bit fishy, given that most electricity is made from fossil fuels, but several studies have shown that electric vehicles which draw their power from a grid that is itself half coal-fired (as America's is) produce less in the way of greenhouse gases than an average petrol-driven car.

Tesla, though, aims to be even greener than that, according to Dr Musk. The firm plans to offer optional solar-photoelectric systems, to be set up as a car port at home, that will be able to power the cars for 80km a day without having to draw on the grid. Given that the average driver travels less than this, the idea promises, as Dr Musk puts it, to "make our cars energy positive"--for those with Santa Monica's reliable sunshine, at least.

There was one gripe, though. Some of the petrolheads at Tesla's launch party complained that the silence of the electric motor was too alien. They missed the grunt and growl of an internal-combustion engine. A Tesla engineer nearby came back with an idea: "We'll program the software to have a variety of engine roars, just like ring tones on mobile phones."

So funny about the noise factor. I've often thought that instead of having a small bell on my ultra quiet bike, I should have a small radio that makes motorcycle sounds to scare off pedestrians from standing in the road, especially trying to hail a cab.
This is in fact on my talking points with Mr. Khosla. I plan to discuss electric cars. I have spent some time this week studying the white papers on the new Tesla. One thing I haven't figured out is if they can make an affordable car for the masses. This thing has over 6,000 laptop-type batteries. How much do those cost in bulk? I am guessing at least $10 each, meaning they have $60,000 invested in just the batteries. But do you need 6,000? If you do, then unless the price comes down by a factor of 10, you won't be able to produce a car for the masses. Of course the second question is: Do you want to produce a cheap car for the masses, since this will permit the suburbs to continue their relentless expansion?



what sort of energy does it take to produce lithium ion batteries?  After all, in case no one noticed, lithium doen't just lie around in nuggets waiting to be picked up.
what sort of energy does it take to produce lithium ion batteries?

If batteries are $10, then less than one seventh of a barrel of crude :)

Unfortunately, energy doesn't quite equal money. Lithium is a little on the rare side. Plus, once you get lithium salts (as the ore), you have to electrolisise the lithium out like how we get sodium metal. The process of getting the Li is rather energy-intensive. To get aluminium is similarly energy-intensive as it too has to be electrolisised out. That's why aluminium ore processing sites are by hydroelectric dams for cheap power.
I still don't get why they decided to make a rich man's toy as their first shot.  Perhaps the first one was going to be low volume and expensive anyway, so may as well make a boutique car & go for the wow appeal - but still, they had to put a lot of design work into that thing, and we need another 2-seat roadster like a hole in the head.  Hopefully they can reuse a lot of the engineering on a real car.
I think it is an attempt to appeal both ot the pro-green liberals and to the crowd of machos seeking power and status.

If you ask me this makes it to neither of them. IMO it would be much better idea release 2 models targeted at each group.

Why a high performance sports car? Because it shatters old notions about electric vehicles being slow "golf cart" type vehicles. It totally resets that notion and causes people to rethink the issue. Sure, bring out a little boring square car that people think is "cute" and mentally file away as another golf cart. They won't buy it. But this thing turns heads. I talked to people in my office about electric vehicles last year and got glazed eyes and yawns. I sent them all links to this thing and suddenly electric vehicles are a topic of discussion here. I see the Roadster purely as a marketing tool to get electric vehicles into the public dialog.
Just like people are not buying Honda Elements and ScionBs.
Good Point. "Cute" also counts for alot. Notice the reaction on this site to certain designs. People don't react to "makes sense," or "economical." But "cute" and "cool" - Hell, even AMPOD will wet his panties over stuff like that. Ooooooooh!
Quite apart from cost, there is the problem that Li-Ion batteries wear out and must be replaced after only a year or two normally. They are also quite temperature sensitive.

That's a minor hassle in a laptop or MP3 player. A much bigger deal when you have 6000 of them.

I'm surprised you can charge it overnight via a wall socket. That's gotta give you one hell of a whack on your electricity bill. I wonder if it works out cheaper or more expensive right now?

Someone has repeatedly claimed that lithium only lasts a year without citing any documentation. OTOH I've read that lithium batteries can last over 10 years. What gives???
They usually last a year or two but it is not unheard of for them to last much longer:


Specifically they age from the time of manufacture, and their usable working life can be dramatically lowered by the way in which they are recharged.

I read an EPRI claim that electricity costs $0.75 a gallon equivalent.

Your $10/battery cost is high.

They put 6,000 batteries in the car to get the 250 mile range. No, most people do not need that range. Yes, the batteries are one of the biggest costs in the Tesla.

The cheap electric car for the masses will happen. All that has to change is for folks to realize that they don't need 250 mile range for their commuter car. $4.00/gallon gas will help them understand this. Even though battery technology is improving, cars with lead acid batteries will also work when the mileage requirement is lessened. That is a psychology problem.


I agree.  While I understand there are certain physcial limitations that are physical in nature (electric grid) so moving everyone to plug in cars will make that situattion worse.  However without that problem, I don't get the big deal that these things only make it around town.  I would bet that most people don't drive 200+ miles a day.  The best part is if you can charge your car while parked in the sun via solar panels, you won't use as much electricity re charging.  This is truly about marginal gains to maximize efficiency.
The cheap electric BICYCLE is more likely. Less mass to be machined means less energy of manufacture. Which means less money to buy that energy. Don't forget smaller motors means less copper is needed - and copper is expensive. Electric motors need that copper. You could in theory use other metals, but copper is the best conductor of electricity, second to only silver. A motor with windings of silver world work better but would be exceedingly expensive!
My wife's dream car would be an electric full scale replica of the Ford Country Squire wagon we road in as kids. The roof rack could hold a diesel genset that could be stored suspended from the garage rafters when not needed. These over powered and over priced penis enhancers are not what the ladies really want.
I used to own and be loved by a Mercury Grand Marquis Station Wagon--the most comfortable and probably most useful vehicle I've ever had; it stayed in the family past 200,000 miles and for nearly twenty years. One of its great virtues was as a load hauler; with the trailer package on the engine for more efficient cooling, it could with little effort haul a trailer carrying 5,000 pounds of useful load. That would be a good many lead-acid storage batteries, and for short trips the trailer could simply be left in the garage or at the motel.

There are still a lot of these behemoth Ford and Mercury wagons around, because they were excellent cars in the first place and often owned by older people who still give them tender loving care.

CAFE killed them off. Though the mileage on these big cars was surprisingly good, "average mileage" under CAFE could be raised by making SUVs ("trucks") rather than cars that got less than twenty-five miles a gallon. (By going only 55 mph, I was able to get slightly more than twenty miles a gallon, even with a fully loaded Mercury Grand Marquis wagon with the grand old Ford five-liter engine in it.)

The lack of engine roar isn't that big a problem. At work, I drive battery-electric forklifts. You get a quiet hummmmmm that has a base frequency that varies with speed. Some vehicles, whose motors have brushes, have a speed dependant small "turbo whine" sound. Step on the "gas" you hear the click of a contactor and the small "turbo whine" as the motor revs up as you gain speed.

You get used to the unique noise e-vehicles make during use. That e- sports car would not sound "alien" at all. I personally wouldn't bother with the "engine noise" add-on played through the stereo. One thing that would bother me is regenerative braking, if done wrong. Where I work, we have a batch of Toyota e-forklifts. The newest one has regenerative braking. When you let off on the "gas" it jerks to a stop. I much prefer a DC motor and its "glide" when taking your foot off the "gas". Oddly enough, sometimes we rent out propane forklifts. THOSE get taking used to after you get hooked on the electric ones!

I agree with you about ev engine noise...who cares?

But then it was only last week that I watched a Daily Planet repeat about how Ford engineers had spent millions on getting "exactly the right note" for their F150 truck...

Quote: customers would only buy if it had the "macho engine/exhaust noise"... but wasn't too intrusive ..

There's just no hope for car companies who are stuck in this paradigm...

Why do you think Honda and other Japanese motorcycle makers went to so much trouble to re-create the famous 'potato-potato-potato' idle of the Harley-Davidson and also its blasting roar on their H-D knockoffs?
It's different for a sports car, but as far as most new sedans and SUV's are concerned, they're generally so quiet now that you run the risk of starting an engine that's already running.
I could do a piece on the power industry but it might be somewhat too long for a single post.

To Editors:

Another thing for suggestion pot: the definition of a standard collection of data points for a geographical entity. Post these somewhere on TOD.

Population, housing units, miles of road, miles of railroad, average income, hours worked, miles commuted, kw generated, sources of same, etc.... What should be in it? What level of detail - I would think towns - cities might have multiple "neighborhoods".

If I want to compare Swiss cantons with *transportation corridors* or perhaps *bioregions* (eg, a comparison of different geographical entities) in Maine, a normalized data set would really help, wouldn't it? Would it be only oil or all energy sources or oil vs percentage of total, etc.... There must be something on which we can piggyback. This data is all (or almost all) available online already elsewhere in bits and pieces - it's more a matter of specifying the organization for our own porpoises. Then we could parcel off the work to people in different locations around the world. I'll do Maine, US.


I posted this on an earlier thread, but wanted to try again. The concept of EROEI is thrown around frequently, but outside of a physics concept, we don't have a solid definition of its strengths and weaknesses. In financial analysis, no one ratio tell the whole story and each can show a false picture for one reason or another. These are just two rough thoughts on EROEI:

Flaws in EROEI: Why 1:1.2 could be just fine

If a project has a negative EROEI, it can only be beneficial if it is converting a lower value fuel (ie. coal) to a higher value fuel (ie. gasoline). However, once EROIE is positive, it gets much more complex. It is not possible to look at one project that is 1:3 and say it is better than one that is 1:2. Here is why:

1)    The energy turnover period also makes a difference - at least from an investment standpoint

If one project has an EROEI of 1:1.2, but can be done 50 times per year, it may produce more energy than one that has an EROEI of 1:1.5 but can only be done once. If corn ethanol has an EROEI of 1:1.2 but turns the initial investment over frequently enough, it can produce quite a lot of energy.

If you take the same ratios, but harvest twice as often, your energy input may double and your energy output may double, but your investment stays the same since the harvests are sequential. It's continual compounding.

The process looks like this:

Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units
Invest 1.2 units
Get back 1.44 units
Invest 1.44 units
Get back 1.73 units

2)    Using ethanol as the fuel input

As long as EROIE is positive, you can create whatever ratio you want by using ethanol itself as the energy feedstock. If all of the trucks that shipped ethanol and all of the machinery that worked the fields were run on ethanol, it would reduce both the numerator and the denominator equally and the ratio would go up.

However, it would make absolutely no difference. The reduction in gasoline used would be offset by the reduction in ethanol produced. But it is important to realize that if you wanted to create an elaborate system of fooling EROEI, you could.

This brings up the question of why don't ethanol producers use ethanol fueled machinery and transport. The answer is because no one makes ethanol fueled tractors or suitable trucks and it would be inefficient to use custom made equipment.

As long as a project is EROEI positive and the inputs can be substituted with ethanol, you can theoretically get the EROEI number as high as you want.

I don't buy it.  EROEI matters.

We're burning through our trust fund now like there's no tomorrow.  Once it's gone, getting a job at McDonald's won't make up for it, no matter how many hours we work.  It may be "money positive," but it won't keep us in the style to which we have become accustomed.

The process looks like this:

Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units
Invest 1.2 units
Get back 1.44 units
Invest 1.44 units
Get back 1.73 units

In reality it would look more like:
Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units
Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units

You can not grow exponentially your invesments because the other limitations of the system will soon kick in - land&water availability, labour, better alternative use of land etc.

The turnover point is important. Ethanol would look much better if we could harvest corn 3-4 times a year. But we can't and therefore a CTL plant would be a better idea, though technically it's EROEI is twice lower (0.6 vs 1.2). The lower yield is offset by the fact that we invest much less resources per unit of output per day. The way to think about is if we have a 30% efficient solar panel, which costs $100/rated Watt and a 6% efficient panel which costs $4/rated Watt. Which one will we choose?

The reason ethanol from corn will never make it without the subsidies is that the low energetic yeild needs to cover all other expenses - labor, capital costs etc. But converting our corn surplus to ethanol may be a viable idea (to some extent).

CTL does not have a lower EROI.  Your 0.6 figure presumably comes from starting with the energy contents of the coal.  But you need to instead start with the energy cost of getting that coal from the ground to the CTL plant.  That's a lot lower than the coal's energy contents.  In other words, coal itself has a rather positive EROI.  As you said, "the fact that we invest much less resources per unit of output" of coal is the key, and that is the EROI.

In contrast, to get the corn for ethanol you need to invest a lot of fuel even before it gets to the conversion plant.  An EROI calculation is tricky: it has to be a closed loop, or the equivalent of one, so you can see how much end-use energy you get from investing a unit of same, or equivalent, into producing it.  Energy "quality" must also be taken into account (e.g., electricity is far better than coal).  (But ethanol is not better than corn, because you can't eat the ethanol.  Well you can drink small amounts of it...)

Yes, but Pimental's calculations include coal energy in the inputs, which can hardly be considered of the same quality as the output (liquid). In order to compare apples to apples I think we need to adjust the energy from coal by a factor of 0.6 which is the efficiency of liquifying coal.

Adjusting nuclear/renewable energy would be more tricky but as a reference we can adjust it by the coal burnt it displaces. If a coal plant is 40% efficient this means that 1BTU of electricity is equivelent to 1*0.6/0.4 = 1.5 BTU of liquid fuel.

Overall this will improve a little bit the EROEI of ethanol, especially if coal is used for ethanol destillation. But in this case GHG-wise ethanol is definately a very bad idea.

In reality it would look more like:
Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units
Invest one unit
Get back 1.2 units

If you want to be realistic you need to label the units

Invest one unit fossil fuel
Get back 1.2 units ethanol
Invest one unit ethanol
Get back 1.2 units ethanol

If you are recyclying the ethanol you get back a 0.2 units net each year. After 20 years, roughly the lifecycle of a windmill for comparison, this yields 5 units of ethanol from the original unit of fossil fuel (if you dont' recycle the last year) That 1.2 EROEI doesn't sound that bad after all.

This is an artificial and misleading construct. Let's take coal. If I invest 1 BTU today and mine 10BTUs of coal and then "recycle" 1BTU back tomorrow, after a year I will have gained 9*365 = 3285 BTUs from that initial 1 BTU. For your reference period (20 years) I would then get 65700 BTUs. Now if I liquify these 65700 BTUs with 60% efficiency I would get 39420 BTUs liquid energy having invested just 1BTU 20 years ago... Or I'll achieve 3,942,000% gain... What a deal compared to some miserable 500%, huh? :)
Oh really, lets compare then. My artificial and misleading scheme returne 5 units of energy from 1 unit of fossil fuels. your "more realistic" scheme returned 39420 units of energy from 65701 units of fossil fuels. More enegy yes but much, much more fosil fuels used. Not exactly an efficient use (60% compared to 500%) of something that is in limited supply.
You're contradicting yourself. I showed that using your logic I got 40 000 times return on 1 BTU, while you have just 5 times return on 1 BTU. 60% to 500% is apples to oranges, you should compare 4 000 000% to 500%.

Regarding the "fossil fuel use" it is truth that coal is not unlimited. But are you trying to tell me ethanol production would be unlimited? What about soil fertility, water availability etc.? How long will it last? Much shorter than coal I can tell you.

Using some of your energy yield as an input doesn't change the EROEI, it just obscures it by reducing the net yield.

Even if you had an EROEI of 2, that would mean that for every gallon of ethanol you get from growing and processing the corn, half of it never leaves the farm. With EROEI=1.2, this rises to 80%. As pointed out earlier, this is not a problem if you have unlimited farmland.

This is also of importance when considering the energy available from the tar sands in Alberta, since recovering oil from that is both energy and water intensive.

Amen.  EROI needs to be far above 1:1 to be economically useful.  About 4:1, according to Charles Hall, the originator of the EROI concept.
And discussions of EROEI need to include the fact that we need ever-increasing energy to fuel economic growth.  Projections are that we'll need something like a third more energy in 20 years than we do now.  So any plausible scheme has to not only make up for the depleting energy from fossil fuels, we need even more to account for growth.  Just to keep things afloat.  As the population bomb keeps mushrooming, etc, etc...
JoulesBurn -

In the same vein, I thought I'd repost my reply to 'Jack' on this very subject that got somewhat lost toward the end of the Vinod Khosla thread.


Jack -
I agree that by using the total output of the first ethanol plant as the input to a larger ethanol plant, etc, etc, in a piggy-backing manner, you can make the 'apparent' EROEI appear quite favorable.

However, the analogy between financial compound interest and energy return is imperfect and can be only taken so far. One always has to be very careful how and where one draws the envelope of analysis.

If you put pencil to paper, you will also see that as you go through several such iterations, the ratio of the amount of ethanol actually leaving the system and thus available FOR USE AS A TRANSPORTATION FUEL to the amount of corn input actually gets lower and lower. (Try it.)

 What this means is that a self-sustaining ethanol- from-corn scheme will use an enormous amount of corn to produce relatively little fuel for actual use in transportation.  It is somewhat paradoxical that as the EROEI goes up in such a piggy-backing scheme, the efficiency of corn usage goes down.  

And it won't do to say that it doesn't matter how great the corn input is, because, as we all know, even devoting the entire US corn production to ethanol will only replace a relatively small fraction of our current gasoline usage.

Tons of news floating aroudn this morning.  Some of the various snippets I've found so far....

For those who don't understand the financial impact or who are curious about what hedge funds do, this has a lot of good information.


If hedge funds were a country, it would be the eighth-biggest on the planet. They can sink whole economies, and have the potential to crash the entire global financial system. Yet they are beyond regulation. We should be very afraid. By Janet Bush

One senior British banker told me: "You talk to any FTSE-100 company and they live in fear of the hedge funds. If they choose to short your shares you're fucked."

Hedge funds can arrest the development of whole econ omies, and they have the potential to crash the financial system. It has almost happened before. In 1998 the Fed persuaded the "Fourteen Families" (an apposite Mafia reference) of Wall Street - the major banks - to cough up money for a $3.6bn bailout for Long-Term Capital Management, a hedge fund whose bets went wrong. The Fed said at the time that LTCM's failure had been abrupt and disorderly and had posed "unacceptable risks to the American economy".

Stagflation anyone...?


The economy's growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, logging just a 2.5 percent pace as consumers tightened their belts and spending on home building dived. Inflation, however, shot up.

An inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve showed that core prices _ excluding food and energy _ jumped by 2.9 percent in the second quarter _ far outside the Fed's comfort zone.

SOMEONE here has to have some good data on this or at least a good idea if this is a reality.  Sounds far too easy IMHO.  Sulfur to solve our problems?  How about the high sulfur oil?


One way to curb global warming is to purposely shoot sulfur into the atmosphere, a scientists suggested today.

Injecting sulfur into the second atmospheric layer closest to Earth would reflect more sunlight back to space and offset greenhouse gas warming, according to Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego.

When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in1991, millions of tons of sulfur was injected into the atmosphere, enhancing reflectivity and cooling the Earth's surface by an average of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit in the year following the eruption.

Maybe America DOES get it.  Check out this piece about people transforming their garages into kitchens and other additonal spaces.  Then again it is designer kitchens apparently.


You can go as far as your imagination and budget allow. Baton Rouge architect Kevin Harris is designing a $1 million, 4,000-square-foot, four-car garage for a client who wants walk-in storage closets, elevator access to the house, and pet condos for 10 dogs and cats (with videoconference facilities so the owners can keep in touch with their animals when they travel).
Sulphur ehh? Clever stuff..only it oxidises to SO2 which touches water vapour and becomes H2SO3 and kills trees. You do like trees don't you?

Sometimes I wish the trees could inherit this rock in space..

They will, and judging from the way things are going, it won't be all that long.
"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."  Willa Cather
law of un-intended consiquences strikes again!
now raise your hand if you actualy think someone will try this, then try to cover up or downplay the acid rain that follows.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in1991, millions of tons of sulfur was injected into the atmosphere, enhancing reflectivity and cooling the Earth's surface by an average of 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit in the year following the eruption.

True, but think of the energetics involved.  Millions of tons of sulfur every year or two injected a good 10-18 km high (and that's just to get to the bottom of the stratosphere).  How are we going to get it up there?  How much energy would it take?

Re: high sulfur oil.  Terrible idea.  That sulfur remains in the troposphere, where residence times are more like 1-2 weeks.  It will then come down as acid rain.

How about high sulfur jet fuel?  I think we burn about 100 million tons of it a year.  Maybe we could get 1% sulfur into it, good for a million tons?
Hmm, fuel use is highest on climbout, and you can't always get to the stratosphere, even in big jets.  We also don't know what the long term effects are, since major volcanic eruptions are quite episodic.

What if instead of making a big mess and then looking for bandaids to fix said mess we don't make such a mess in the first place? And if we have a mess, what if we deal with the cause instead of covering over the symptoms?

That's one way to do it but they should use sulphur free fuel for taxi and climb to cruise altitude. On the other hand we could convert farm and forest residue into charcoal and bury it. I'd rather remove excess carbon from the air than add a new pollutant.
re:injecting sulphur into the atmosphere - you need to consider the additional effects of acid rain. I would rather have warmer climate than no trees, fish in fresh water, etc

How about both less global warming and atmospheric pollution?


NEVER!  You are infringing on my inalienable right to use huge quantities of energy!  If we have to pump sulfur in the air and turn the planet into a dead rock, then so be it!  (sarcasm, of course)
How about putting a large reflective screen out in space between the earth and the sun. If properly designed it would give you the capability to control the amount of solar input and thereby the temp of the earth.
(I want an ice age, no I want global warming, but I want warm temps, and I want cool temps.<GBG>)
It is technically feasible and practical. It would give us time to try to get our act together before things really get seriously bad.
"One way to curb global warming is to purposely shoot sulfur into the atmosphere, a scientists suggested today."

This is what scares me about the Global Warming RED HERRING.

The Quacks who suggest tampering with the atmosphere are the Biggest Danger to our species and our planet since the last Astroid.

Be very, Very afraid of your godz of PoliTICs, Science and Technology.  These pathetically Ignorant Child-Priests in our Ivory Towers are Playing with Matches again and are going to burn down the Whole Barn...  

Desperate Madmen in search of an answer at the End of The Exam... ("TimezUp - passss testsss to the right pleaZe," Says Mother Nature).

But then again, I guess the Clown Priests of Science are part of this Very Natural Process too I guess.  Carry on Mother...

Paul Crutzen is actually one of the preeminent scientists on atmospheric and climate issues.  He coined the term "Anthropocene" to denote the geologic age of Man (about 200 yrs old and counting).  He has a neat series of plots looking at everything from population to fossil fuel use to loss of biodiversity to CO2 buildup to number of McDonald's franchises worldwide, and they all look pretty much the same: exponential increases.

I haven't read the actual article so I don't know if he's being taken out of context.  If it's accurate, then it would be very sad indeed. Then I can only guess he's hit a point of despair (he's been beating this drum for a long time) and is left reaching for desperate measures.

I always thought "Anthropocene" might be just a bit hubristic, but I certainly see his point.  As for 200 years, though I'm no expert in such things, I am swayed by Ruddiman's "Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis."
Be very, Very afraid of your godz of PoliTICs, Science and Technology.  These pathetically Ignorant Child-Priests in our Ivory Towers are Playing with Matches again and are going to burn down the Whole Barn...  

The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash -- as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot -- it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking.

-- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946

Where's the metaphor jason?!?!?!
Mostly what struck me was "ivory tower" suddenly becoming a "barn" being burned down.  But I assume you are not talking about actual child-priests playing with actual matches.  What I quoted of you above contains, by my count, five completely different metaphors in just two sentences.  The content of your argument aside, this is just sloppy communication, and to paraphrase the Centauri minister in Babylon 5, if you cannot say what you mean, how can you possibly mean what you say?
Jason - I think you know very well what I meant and if you did not I will offer your parents my pity and I will spell it out for you.

IF you think humans are going to control the planet's thermostat and steer This Civilization through "Global Warming," then YOU are the one who is "clearly not thinking at all."

You try and change "your" local weather and what do you think your neighbors will do?

By neighbors, I mean START with Your Personal Neighbors and work all the way up to State Neighbors etc (Global Village, remember ?).

Mother Nature is IN the House!.  She (deaf, dumb and blind girl) is in Control of the Thermostat - sorry.  

Nature will continue to be...  Pandora's box ~ another cliche metaphor for your Religion.

(hey, how many neighbors does it take to get a Small Wind Turbine in Your Yard????  ....

Depends ... on PoliTICS

... good luck with your Religion of Politicz and the Scientist-Priests you seem to Trust In... oh, and their Technology too, = almost like the Four Horsemen type of thing snuck in the back door on Homo Sap).

No, I got what you were driving at, and for the record I don't think civilization is going to survive (and I don't think that's a bad thing, either--see my Thirty Theses or the discussion here on my work from earlier this month).  But I chose not to address the substance of your post because your implication that global warming is not a serious threat is simply so outrageous it scarcely warrants the effort to refute it.  Rather, your use of language—continued in your most recent, fragmented response—reflects, I think, the amount of critical thought you've put into your position.  I'm no grammarian or "spelling Nazi," but there are certain times when you go beyond mere pedantry, to the intersection of language and thought, where sloppy language simply illustrates sloppy thought.
ah... yes, Thank you Jason.  But after this part below you are just babbling again and I will assume no longer addressing the substance of the post... Again... yes, thank you...

"No, I got what you were driving at, and for the record I don't think civilization is going to survive (and I don't think that's a bad thing, either--see my Thirty Theses or the discussion here on my work from earlier this month). But I chose not to address the substance of your post..."

The global financial system is in general very unstable. "Peak Finance" doesn't get talked about much here ... there is a contingent who are very unfriendly to economics related discussion ... but it could certainly complicate resource limit mitigation efforts.

My impression has also been that the global financial system is very unstable - it depends on continued growth and on not having any sharp discontinuities. Once there is a sudden shock, or the realization that growth will not continue indefinitely, the system is likely to come unglued very quickly.

What are some good sources to read other people's ideas about this? It seems like there are write ups in some of the peak oil books like Jeremy Leggett's "The Empty Tank" and Matt Simmons' "Twilight in the Desert". What are some other sources? Are there write-ups about what actually happened in Argentina a few years ago, or in other non-communist states that have had sudden failures of the system?

An excellent blog site (kind of the equivilent to TOD is Prudent Bear.com
Well, the problem of needing continuous growth has been discussed on TOD before. I was actually thinking of things like the currency/derivatives markets  -  some traders are racking up extremely risky positions and we could get into deep trouble if several were to encounter problems at once. Many economists and even central banks have written about the disturbing trends in the currency/derivatives markets.
MH...finance major.  You peaked my curiosity enough to make me google the above term.  Since my gut was right, WTF do you mean peak finance.  Are you just pointing out another depression where it's all the fault of finance?  I think I know where you're going with it, but peak means you've used half or are at half.  What can be half of finance?
Peak doesn't mean anything of the sort. Outside discussion of finite resources (like oil), peak simply means the upper bound. And in the artificial world of finance, you don't need to have "used" half of anything to reach a peak in financial terms. Viewed more simply - the Dow Jones has had a peak and retreated from that peak. Someday it might establish a new peak but it hasn't yet and doesn't seem likely to do so anytime soon. The idea of "peak finance" would seem to imply that this is as wealthy as the world gets. From here, cumulatively, we produce less wealth than the "peak" and when you have to share that wealth amongst more and more and more and more human beings, then everyone gets generally poorer. I don't buy that concept, at least yet.
Barbara Ehrenreich had this interesting observation way back in 1987, re: the inefficiency of capitalism.

"It takes 20,000 Americans working at $10 and hour--or 1,300 Mexicans at $3 a day--to generate enough profits to support one Leona Helmsley during the off-season alone. The rich, in short, are a terrible burden on the rest of us."

That's peak in my book.

Tim Hartford wrote in interesting piece for Forbes.com on why your boss makes so much money (rather the CEO) and it's because it serves as the motivation to get promoted so that YOU are that very same person.  Now that's not a truly wealthy person who doesn't need to compete, let alone work.
Other than the CEO, no other American employees should be paid anything at all. Nada. Zip. The added motivation to climb to the corporate penthouse will fuel a new era of economic nirvana and enlightenment, guided by the invisible hand.
Peak does not mean "used a half".  Peak means peak.  It's all downhill from here.  (Sounds good to a bicycler.)
I meant it in the context of another poster who said we were at peak [some type of food] and he was shot down immediatly b/c around here Peak means you've used half and since food IS renewable it wouldnt apply.  Sorry for being so aloof!
Personally I wish that PO "advocates" (other than Halfin :-) refrain from mentioning the "half" thing.  Peak is at half URR only in a simple model such as the logistic.  What's far more important, as has been said here often, is the rate of flow, and when that will reach a max and then decline.  And there could also be a peak flow rate for grains, or irrigation water, or monetary gains from investments.  And perhaps even more importantly, flow per person.  In that sense, Global Peak Oil happened in 1979.  The impact on "the third world" and "terrorism" has been huge.
It doesn't show up on Google because I just made it up. There is no such thing as "Peak Finance". Sloppy use of terminology, please accept my apology.

I really meant that it is plausible our financial system will get in serious trouble at some point and start "unwinding".

For instance the derivatives market along with the activities of currency speculation has been a concern for some time. The phrases "unstable" and "unsustainable" get thrown around a lot in discussions about these things.

A nice post on the tribalism that Matt talks about-
It really looks like the new Cross Hudson Rail Tunnel is going to be built. The Port Authority just earnmarked $2 Billion for the project and it has major backers on both sides of the Hudson.

This would be a great way to set up more regional light rail in Northern NJ and commuter areas in New York.

Does anyone know why there is no passenger rail between NYC and Eastern PA. Easton, Allentown and Bethlehem are only 75 miles from the city and the only way to get to the city is by bus or personal automobile.

The only way to get anywhere from the ABE area is by car/bus.    It was not always this way - anyone remember the Lehigh Valley RR?
Don't feel bad. In Chicago's suburbs, the norm is that there are two ways to get around: You use a car or morph into a goose and fly. While Pace buses exist, the norm is they don't exist where you are.
Its a terrible shame but a critcal piece of rail track called the Lackawanna cutoff was destroyed a few decades ago. Read it and weep: http://www.pennjerseyrail.org/
That would be really useful to have back. Who let them sell the ROW?

I wrote to Gov. Corzine and asked him to fund it.

Re: Oil is like milk http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&refer=columnist_mukherjee&sid=aoIl6aEOjrgk

Can anyone tell me what valid purpose is served by this farrago of false analogy?  Oil is not the least like milk -- if you need a glass of milk a day, "don't buy a cow, buy a refrigerator", etc.  

Pretty clearly both the cow and the refrigerator need oil inputs in the current economic system.  China bets that they can purchase oil-bearing strata and they will be able to hold them --a somewhat dubious proposition.  The Bloomberg "economists" imagine that some kind of "free market" will magically transport oil where it is needed.  

Both strategies imply some kind of (increasingly) forceful, undoubtedly militaristic and violent -- and as we are seeing-- increasingly obvious control system.  But don't call it "imperialism."  It is "unipolar hegemony."

Maybe Forrest Gump wrote that article.  

Another good example of the Danger of Democracy... government by "the People" is a noble idea but not necessarily a very good one.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. "" H.L Menckan

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for US Senate from New York, called today for the creation of a national oil company to help protect American consumers against the rapidly escalating price hikes for gasoline.

It never ceases to amaze me that "green" people can't see the consequences of reigning in gasoline prices. The result will not be green. If you look around the world, the places that we would consider really green have really high gas prices.



I say let him do it. The government will bungle the job so badly the resulting supply disruptions and shortages will end up forcing us to conserve the little we can get and reduce our overall consumption.
Certain issues get lumped together until they belong to one side or the other.  I don't know why that's a green issue either, however I do support it - not to keep the price down, but to prevent the gross inefficiencies of crony "capitalism".  Why in the hell should we allow those public monies to be funneled into private profits?  Use the money for funding rail or other projects - many of which would indeed have an environmental payoff.    

Not that I think there's even a ghost of a chance of this happening.

You want crony capitalism? Look at the national oil companies of Mexico or Venezuela. Gazprom is another example.
I'm on it!
A nationalized oil compnay would be a disaster. Christ Jesus, look how poorly AmTrak is run.
While I will agree that amtrak is a disaster, there are no people to ride it.  It just doesn't make sense to use IMHO, at least not in the current state.  My fiance took it from STL to CHICAGO and it wound up taking 12 HOURS!  She flew one way back after already paying the round trip fare.  Granted this was years ago, but I'm sure little has changed.  Right now Amtrak may be experiencing heavier loads, but I doubt it since the Airlines are instead experiencing full loads for a change.  
much of the problem is that freight trains have priority over passenger trains. So if a 2 mile long, slow moving coal train is going in the same direction as you, too bad.

No other country uses such a method.

I don't get the RR connection to the govt?  They were the govt, but not anymore, but they are VERY important to the movement of freight.  I've always thought that freight should have exclusive corridors.  I've read about bridges where trains have to wait HOURS to cross because it's one lane!  Basically everything needs to be overhauled from the power grid, to the transportation grid, to the financial system, capped out by an altered government.  I truly believe we are becoming overly complex and the gains are not justified.
There is one little problem with Amtrak: it really is

two universes alien to each other:

Amtrak railways: a railway system on the East coast that works o.k. and

Amtrak rail cruises - a ridiculous vestige of times past.

Only politics keeps them together. Amtrak railways could do better alone.

Ridership on all of Amtrak's Midwestern routes has increased significantly in the past year or two, and several Midwestern states are working with Amtrak right now to improve the service even more.

For example, the Hiawatha Service between Milwaukee and Chicago carried over 500,000 passengers in calendar year 2005 for the first time ever. The Hiawatha will approach 600,000 passengers this year. It helps that the Hiawatha's on-time peformance is well over 90% (thanks in large part to the cooperation of the host railroad Canadian Pacific). Last year the state of Wisconsin opened a new station at Milwaukee's airport (with a shuttle bus between the train station and the airport terminal), the Village of Sturtevant (near Racine, WI) is about to open a new station, and a public/private partnership has begun redeveloping the downtown Milwaukee station into an intermodal terminal also serving Greyhound and local transit.

The state of Illinois is contributing significant new funds to add train frequencies on their Chicago-Quincy, Chicago-St. Louis, and Chicago-Carbondale routes. They are also working on improvements to the Chicago-St. Louis corridor that will someday allow train speeds up to 110-mph. St. Louis has just begun developing a new intermodal station, too.

The state of Michigan and Amtrak are working on improvements that will allow faster travel on the Chicago-Detroit line.

Looking longer term, nine Midwestern states have developed a plan for implementing a 3,000-mile high-speed rail service hubbed out of Chicago (see Midwest Regional Rail Initiative link on Wisconsin DOT's website).

Other parts of the country are looking at regional high-speed rail service as well.

And you think most large corporations are well run?  
No but my plane trip is under an hour.
And no plane trips are delayed, uh?
And it's always a quick and easy trip to the airport?
Guess I'm lucky, better yet I don't fly often so the probability theory hasn't caught me yet...
I gotta ask - what the heck is the relevance of that?

Well that is not the whole article is it?

Hawkins said the national oil company should also be mandated begin at once a NASA-like drive to develop wind, solar, and other alternative sources of power. "It could do this because, unlike the oil companies, this publicly controlled company corporation would have no vested interest in stifling renewable energy sources that compete with Big Oil's fossil fuel reserves."

"While the invasion of Iraq has been a disaster for the Iraqi citizens and American consumers and taxpayers, it has been a huge windfall for the private American oil companies. They are literally making out like bandits.

Yeah, I am not so comfortable with ExxonMobil determining my future as well as them making out like bandits. Their denial of GW and funding of anti GW propaganda as a case in point.

Oil geologists disagree on when global oil production will peak. Some say peak oil production is imminent. The most optimistic put it off about 35 years. But all agree that sooner or later the finite supply of oil will force prices up inexorably as increasing demand meets diminishing supply.

How can they say that!!! They have no idea why we should keep depending on oil.  Oil is forever, abiotic I mean, right?  Damn this stuff is going to keep increasing for forty years right?

Hawkins has called for taking $300 billion a year in US military spending and investing it in "a global public works program to rewire the plant for the efficient use of renewable energy in 10 years."
What no killing people, just what kind of guys does he think we are?  Where is my gun!!

"Venezuelan heavy crude should be seen as a transitional source of energy as we build clean, renewable sources, including wind, solar, biofuels, solar and wind generated hydrogen for fuel cells, and geothermal heating and cooling. Above all, we must increase our efficiency in energy use, most especially in the transportation sector through a massive expansion of mass transit and freight rails," Hawkins said.
I guess one word explains it... COMMIE!
Let me clarify... the take-away sound bite from this story was stupid.  But if your read the full text of what the guy was saying, he is pretty close to the middle of what is said here.
First of all I don't believe nationalization of any fossil fuel industry is neccesary. What is needed is a transition to alternatives perhaps long term financed by special bonds. Make the bonds of low enough denomination so the common folk can get some of the profits down the road. Call them Hirsch Energy Bonds. There are technologies which are not considered cost effective now but ought to be built up as quickly as possible. Things like algae oil farms and advanced battery factories. New electric power grid lines not owned by any one utility but rented by them on a mwh basis. Electric cars could be given away in order to get old gas guzzlers to the scrap yard. Thorium-Floride powerplants built under cities where concentrated power is needed. Good ideas all around which Wall Street is slow to accept.
"The Larger P.O. Picture"

With all the graphs, charts, flows of important news, etc., it's easy to lose the larger picture of what is going on vis a vis peak oil.

According to Chris Skrobowski, et al, we know that massive amounts of oil are expected from deep sea oil from last year through the end of the decade. Based on this, many of these experts are predicting oil edging up to 90 MB/day or even more, before peaking around 2010.

Yet looking at Stuart Staniford's charts (which are probably the best real time snapshot we have available), we see that world production is basically flat, with a very slight upward movement. (And that upward movement might be because of a late addition of ethanol and biofuels to the IEA statistical mix).

So what does this mean?

It looks like non-deep sea oil production is doing terrible, with depletion rates probably closer to Schlumberger's "8%" than Dr. Colin Campbell's "2-3%".  Which means we can probably expect a wicked production slump after 2010.

Any comments?

i can't comment on the depletion rates , but i did want to comment on iea's method of counting. including ethanol in oil production figures is ridiculous.this amounts to double counting , since it takes oil to make ethanol. stuart , is there any way to create a "true" graph of oil production by eliminating the ethanol and biodiesel component? i don't think the graphs will tilt upward if this correction is included.
Looks like a HUGE un-addressed issue to me... Net oil production numbers.

What about it, Big Boys? If global oil production creeps up to 90 and plateaus for a few years, but the new production is costing much more in energy to extract, then the NET oil coming out is necessarily in decline!

e.g. if it takes half a barrel of oil to produce a barrel of shale oil, then you actually need two barrels of shale oil to replace one depleted Saudi barrel. Something like that.

Is there any way to account for this in those fancy graphs?

This was discussed in a previous "production" post.  Whether to count ethanol or not.  On the one hand, it is fuel.  OTOH, it's not really subject to the same model as oil is.  
"Net Oil" is closely related to EROI. If oil's EROI has declined from 100:1 to 10:1 and most new sources like deep water and oil sands are maybe 3:1 or less, then we may have already passed Peak "Net Oil" without realizing it. This idea has bounced around TOD a few times, but the near impossiblity of accurately measuring "Net Oil" makes it a short discussion.

Then you add in ethanol's EROI of 1.3:1, factor in the fact that much of the Energy Invested comes from non-liquid sources, some comes from non-fossil sources, and the calculation get even worse.

We know that light sweet has peaked, barring a miraculous recovery, and that is the stuff with the best EROI. To me, that is a proxy for the effective peak, and we passed that peak a few years ago. About the same time, prices started relentlessly marching up. Coincidence? I think not. I think "Peak Net Oil" has come and gone, and we are left to scrounge through the increasingly lower EROI hydrocarbon left overs.

As Mike Lynch is so fond of pointing out, there are 10's of trillions of barrels of hydrocarbons known to be still left in the ground. I predict we will extract at least that much before EROI reaches 1:1, but Peak NET Oil will eventually be reckoned to be around the year 2001.

I wonder if we are experiencing a paradigm shift, away from "OPEC vs. non-OPEC" to "Deep Sea vs. "non- Deep Sea."

OPEC seems to have plateaued, if not actually in decline, and is running its pumps full out. Since it is no longer the swing producer in any positive sense (as opposed to the negative sense of being able to shut down in the event of war), why view it differently than FSU or North Sea?

Since Deep Sea seems to be the only expanding sector with possible extra capacity, it would make sense to look at this in conjunction/contrast to non-Deep Sea.

Or, DS vs. NDS

I'm no good at graphing, but I'd love to see a chart showing deep sea separated out in this manner.

Partial answer--deepwater is the shortest-lived blip on the graph. Source: ASPO via Energybulletin.net:

That Kuwait news is a biggie.

Far-sighted lawmakers! A rare thing.
It seems they want to keep about 50 years' worth of production in front of them, at all times. i.e. adjusting production upwards or (more surely) downwards in function in changes in reserves.

If all oil producers did that, what would we have? A sustainable oil supply! albeit an ever-diminishing one.

An eminently sensible idea. The cornucopians claim that we have at least 50 years of oil ahead of us can't possibly disagree with it!


The Oil Drum:  What would we have predicted for Kuwait?

By:  Stuart Staniford 1/20/06


Hubbert Linearization Analysis:

Amazingly, the intercept is at 76gb. Given that current cumulative production is 36gb, this suggest there is 40gb to go. So this is in decent general agreement with the (24gb,48gb) range from the internally leaked information that Petroleum Intelligence Weekly has gotten hold of.

That suggests Kuwait is at 47% of their ultimate recovery - so close to the half-way point. Future declines are projected to be modest based on the K of just over 4%

A quote from this article illustrates the uncertainty surrounding reserve estimates. Here we have a group of legislators trying to get the to heart of the matter and we see:

The motion comes from National Assembly members seven months after a report published by the 'Petroleum Intelligence Weekly', which is a prestigious and internationally acclaimed specialized magazine. The bulletin stated that the actual volume of oil reserve is about 24 billion barrels and it is almost the same volume of the potential reserve. This means that the total reserve stands at about 50 billion barrels, and that the oil industry will last another 25 years or more according to the production capacity of the oil reserve, which is not yet finally defined.

Other sources of information, such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and specialized publications all indicate that the Kuwaiti reserve ranges between 85 and 102 billion barrels of actual and potential crude oil.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Energy and its oil sector have not yet verified the exact figure of the oil reserve, because it wants to assure the world and Kuwait in particular. With this lack of information, some MPs asked the former Minister of Energy a direct question about the accuracy of the published information. The National Assembly has provided all the information on the nation's oil reserve in general, and the tables and statistics on the quantity of reserve in each field, and the number of discovered reservoirs that are being developed.

But the pressing question, among many others, is how to explain or clarify the difference between the actual and potential (unconfirmed) reserves, and who will determine the difference. Will he be satisfied with the existing quantities on the ground, which are estimates, whereupon everyone agrees to a certain discretionary percentage of the possible extraction to obtain an approximate figure that would be to everyone's satisfaction?

Today, there are major differences, not only in the oil states, but also between the giant oil companies, over the definition of the actual reserve and the extraction percentage. Some major companies insist that the actual reserve is the last barrel extracted from the field. The oil extraction percentage hovers between 40% and 55%. At the same time, some companies confirm they are capable of extracting more than 60%, depending on the state-of-the-art technologies at their disposal.

The main concern is the controversy over the definition of the actual reserve, hence giving rise to the urgency for a common definition, if possible.

Could someone please post about the influence of doubling or tripling oil prices on Hubbert linearization estimates? URR, as I understand it, includes only the economically recoverable reserves. Surely, as the price rises, it must become econonomic to extract a larger percentage from each field. Wouldn't this tend to reset the linearization?  

"Surely, as the price rises, it must become econonomic to extract a larger percentage from each field. Wouldn't this tend to reset the linearization?"

Higher prices help increase conventional production, but it's a small amount.  The real problem is best shown by the East Texas Field, which is now producing 1.2 mbpd of water with a 1% oil cut.  You can't do much to revive a field that has watered out.

Also, consider the Lower 48, where we have tried all manner of more sophisticated exploration, drilling, completion and production practices--and production has dropped steadily since 1970.  

The North Sea, benefiting from much better technology, peaked at the same point, relative to Qt, as the Lower 48, 29 years after the Lower 48 peaked.

This does not mean that the oil industry can't make money in a post-peak region.  We can and will.  There is just no evidence that we can exceed the peak production.  The only real rebound of consequence in a large producing region has been Russia, and its cumulative production falls within the predicted HL limits.

Where oil prices will help is with unconventional sources of oil.  IMO, the only real question is the rate of increase of unconventional oil production versus the rate of decline of conventional.    IMO, unconventional production will only serve to slow the rate of decline of total oil production.

I think your declining production argument gets lost because people look at the 'global' picture rather than local or regional producers. When supply began to decline and prices increased -- extra production came from newly discovered fields from the 'rest of the world'.

The theme that needs to be hit home is that there is no more 'rest of the world'. We're operating under full-world conditions or so close to that it doesn't matter. Empty-world economic models aren't appropriate anymore.  If more American's realized that India and China alone are some 2 BILLION people all searching for more and more oil I think the reality would soon set in. When the vast majority of Americans think of these places they get images in their head of villages and shantytowns that are thirty-to-forty years out of date.  

The trouble is that images of shantytowns in places like China and India still hold true - for the vast majority of their populations. In both places, only a small minority are making the money while others make a buck a day - barely enough to buy a liter of gas.
Sure, but enough of those folks are beginning the transition to American-style standards of living.
Can anyone get behind the WSJ paywall to get an article tittled, "Congress May Let Hedge Funds Manage More Pension Money?"  

There's been a lot of hype about GM & FORD failing, but I stumbled on this bllomberg article which points out the bleak outlook for Chrysler from here on.


Chrysler sells three times as many SUVs and trucks as it does cars, the highest percentage in the industry, according to Spinella.

Ouch!  It's kinda like a rope a dope I suppose, only that it's possible to get hit three times while paying attention to the wrong company.

Haven't found that one on a free site yet, but there's this rather dramatic article by Molly Ivins:

Your Next Worry? The Suicide of Capitalism

And another:


Consider the source ... however the basic economic argument seems grounded in logic even if the motives of the author are questionable.

And worse the WSJ seems to be saying the same thing:


MH...LaRouche isn't liked too much around these parts.  I think he's got great vision and ideas, but the devil's in the details and many of his solutions don't add up, ie. Nuclear energy.
The WSJ article is terrifying, equating Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to Enron.

Then I noticed the date; the article is 4 years old. I presume the situation is far worse today.

It seems that the people running our economy are taking the attitude of those who planned the Iraq Invasion. Best case scenarios all the time, damn the torpedos, full  speed ahead.

Until they hit a torpedo, which of course could not possibly have been predicted. Utterly unexpected.  

You said 4 yrs ago????????

Wow..check out this paragraph buried deep and FOUR YEARS AGO!

How able are home-purchasers to finance the mortgage? Let us utilize a strictly standard arrangement. If a household were to buy a new home, at the median price of $174,000 (in the above example), on a 30-year mortgage, putting the (now standard) 10% of the home purchase price down in a down-payment, and financing the rest in a mortgage at the prevailing fixed interest rate of 7.04%, then its mortgage payment of principal and interest, would be $12,553 per year ($1,046 per month). On such a home, the home insurance and home property tax would be approximately $1,920 per year. Thus, the total "home cost" would be $14,473 on an annual basis. If, according to HUD, the "home cost" should be no more than 28% of total household income, then $14,473 is 28% of $51,689. A household would need an annual income of $51,689 to afford the "home costs" of a median priced home of $174,000.

Sixty percent of American households do not have an annual income of $51,689. Three-fifths of American households could not afford to purchase and live in such a home.

ARMS anyone?  That's how four years ago we got the maybe 2/5's of these people (record home ownership under BUSCH II) into homes that they can't afford.  I'm ready as I can be.  

Just yesterday I got into an argument with this lady in my office over the condos here in STL.  They are springing up everywhere and I flat out said they won't sell.  Our old building is being turned into condo's and are starting @ 200K topping out in the low 7 figures.  I said STL won't buy condos and better yet the entire market has cooled and will be totally screwed next year when over a trillion dollars in ARMS resets.  She looked at me and said, "What you think we're going into a recession or something?"

People just don't get it.

umm, I'm not sure we're looking at the same article. The WSJ article referenced just above is about Freddie and Fannie being like Enron.... must be some sort of mixup.
Whoops...from the LaRouche site.
The average existing home price is now $231,000.  Taxes and insurance have gone up along with this.  In my city this buys a 2100 sqare foot, two-story frame colonial in an average close-in suburb.  Here's how this works out with a conventional loan, with 2% annual property tax:

$231,000 @ 6.75% fixed 30 year loan = $1349 monthly (after 10% down payment)
Tax + insurance = $468 monthly
Total payment = $1817 monthly or $21,804 annually.
$21,804 is 28% of an annual salary of $77,871.

The housing market is cooling fast in many areas.  Rising ARM + zero (or less) equity = OUCH.

In fact the predictions came true:


Except it didn't get the same coverage Enron did. But a $10 billion accounting "mistake" cannot be good no matter what way you look at it ...

Every major financial 'panics' of the 19th century was preceded by an unregulated part of real estate, commodity, or security market. Going deep in debt to buy stocks led to the 1929 collapse. Hedge funds are just another way to buy stocks with borrowed money. Billionaires didn't become billionaires by putting their own money at risk.
  A little-noticed provision in the pension bill moving through Congress would allow hedge funds to manage significantly more pension-fund money.
  The change is the latest sign of the growing influence of the loosely regulated investment pools in all corners of the financial system-even as most hedge funds resist proposals to tighten government oversight or supervision.
...The provision likely to emerge in the pension bill-provided it survives a particularly contentious House-Senate conference-would alter existing law so that hedge funds wouldn't have to count assets of public-employee or foreign pension plans toward that 25% ceiling, according to congressional aides and hedge-fund lobbyists.  That would allow funds to accept unlimited amounts from public or foreign funds, even if they continue to limit the amount they accept from private-employer pension funds to 25% of total assets.
...The Securities Industry Association, a major Wall Street lobby, also supports the measure.  The Treasury Department's top domestic financial official, Randal Quarles, told the Senate Banking Committee this week that Treasury backs it too.

The AFL-CIO does not want the law changed. A graph shows that currently, 7% of hedge funds capital invested is from pension funds.

Can anyone get behind the WSJ paywall to get an article tittled, "Congress May Let Hedge Funds Manage More Pension Money?"  

I think this is it:

Law may let hedge funds manage more pension money

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as usual.

Thanks Kalpa and Leanan!  This isn't good.  Doesn't the fact that hedge funds take on EYE WATERING levels of risk to get these returns make anyone want to think a little more about this?  Bernanke says these are highly trained professionals, but there are 9000 of them.   I've read other articles on hedge funds and the top 5 are POWERFUL and control the majority of hedge fund activity which would explain their 200M a year pay packages.  When one of these large titans faulters I know there will be no bail out except for maybe bankruptcy.  

With that article floating from the STL FED, has anyone else read ALL of it?  I've read probably half and it's nothing new if you were paying attention.  No one wants to touch this paper.  Is it REALLY possible to declare bankruptcy after the party's over?

A lot of the "captains of finance" are members of gated communities in Montana. They are hedging their bets; if it all goes south the cities are fucked, but the super rich have their safe Mecca.

Speaking of safe Meccas, the Gulf Arabs are well entrenched in Phoenix, just in case.

According to the Anthropik network Montana has already collapsed.
No, not according to me, according to Jared Diamond; I'm just the messenger.
Remember Diamond's point that collapse actually benefits some people. Given this, perhaps those same people leading us to collapse want to ensure that they are in a position they feel will benefit after a collapse.

Nah, they couldn't be that bright. ;)

And before Diamond, there was Tainter, who argued that collapse is an "economizing process"--a viewpoint I share.  Our history of collapse generally comes from the privelaged, who had much to lose, but when we look at society as a whole, we see that in most instances of collapse, most people actually benefitted from the change: fewer leaders, less government, less taxes, less bureaucracy all made for an overall much improved condition.  The consequences of collapse are, on the whole, fairly positive; it's the process itself that's brutal.  The worst possible situation is what we have today, where so much of the world is in a state of collapse, for all intents and purposes, but propped up by outside regions of complexity.  The result is that the process of collapse never finishes; you have all the brutality of collapse, with none of the benefits collapse eventually creates.  I see most of Africa as a fine example of this.

Now, if by benefit you meant that such persons would be part of the general body of humanity improved, you may be on to something, but if you meant "take over" in some sense or another, their brightness would have little to do with it.  Collapse diminishes complexity, and hierarchy is one form of complexity.  Collapse leaves much less space for anyone to "take over."  Egalitarian structures can prosper in a collapse, making the very notion of an "over" to take obsolete (see the emergence of the southwest Native American tribes in the wake of the collapse of the Anazazi, Hohokam, etc.).  But then, I don't think the neo-feudal scenario is a very likely one at all, and many who anticipate a total collapse do.  I'm working on an article that may be published on Anthropik as early as next week, detailing the full case as to why I see the neo-feudal vision as quite unrealistic.

When one of these large titans faulters I know there will be no bail out except for maybe bankruptcy.  

US Treasury has said they won't bail out crashed hedge funds in future. But, when LTCM collapsed that's exactly happened as they feared a chain reaction of collapse. LTCM had taken on such ridiculous amounts of debt and risk that to let it entirely default would have been highly dangerous.

So who knows what they will do in future ....

Comments from Urban Survival:

The real key number for me in this report is what's going on with the person savings rate - that's the one that reports whether you are taking money out of your bank/house equity or selling off whatever to make ends meet:

Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was a negative $141.0 billion in the second quarter, compared with a negative $97.0 billion in the first.

The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- decreased from a negative 1.0 percent in the first quarter to a negative 1.5 percent in the second. Saving from current income may be near zero or negative when outlays are financed by borrowing (including borrowing financed through credit cards or home equity loans), by selling investments or other assets, or by using savings from previous periods.

It appears the problem is the confusion between "savings" and "investment." Many middle class folks invest in real estate or stocks, rather than savings instruments making 2-4% interest.

The problem comes when real estate and the stock market plunge, and people realize they're under water.

That's when the economy goes into an immediate dive.

I think that is an amazing figure - it's the kind of news that I would think would have everyone just hopping up and down in all the press.  But no.  Did you ever feel like just running around and screaming "wake up" at everyone?  It wouldn't matter anyway, they would just look at you with a dull, uncomprehending stare.  

$141.0 billion - so in Q2 we borrowed enough money to finance half the Iraq war.  I can't say the empire isn't popular, we're willing to dig deep to keep it running.

Threadbot posted, as the first item on today's Drumbeat, the story that Kuwait is about to start to husband their oil, holding more of it back for future generations. The same news item says that other states will surely follow. I have been predicting for months that this would happen. When this happens world production rates will drop, first by at least half a million barrels per day when Kuwait begins to do it, then by several million barrels per day when other states follows suit.  This is the most important thing to come across the wires in months. It is the first sure sign that peak oil is either here or fast approaching. I am surprised it has gathered so little attention from Oil Drummers.

http://english.daralhayat.com/business/07-2006/Article-20060727-b0123427-c0a8-10ed-01ce-4de8d6f17a3f /story.html

An excerpt:

If approved, Kuwait will be the first oil state to regulate and tie up oil production with the rate of oil reserve quantities. Certainly, all the other oil states will follow up on this thorny issue carefully.

But M. King Hubbard saw the significance of such a policy:

Were we a rational society, a virtue of which we have rarely been accused, we would husband our oil and gas resources.
 - M. King Hubbert
A Golden Oldie:  2004 NYT Article on Shell & the Yibal Field

Yibal serves as a good model for Cantarell & Ghawar.

Note comments about the emerging concerns about prolonging the life of the oil fields.  This is the same point made by the consultant (recommended by Saudi Aramco) at the recent PBS Peak Oil debate.


April 8, 2004
Oman's Oil Yield Long in Decline, Shell Data Show


Two engineering papers written last year by Petroleum Development Oman officials show that production in Yibal has fallen at an annual rate of about 12 percent for six years; that is more than twice the normal rate of 5 percent in the region. Moreover, Shell overstated its proven oil reserves in Oman, a December 2003 Shell report found, primarily because the company had failed to trim the figures back "in light of recent downturns in oil production rates."

But some insight into Oman's views are contained in remarks made a few years ago by its minister of oil and gas and another director of Petroleum Development Oman. The remarks were published in the venture's newsletter and posted on Shell's Web site. "We have been too preoccupied with trying to get that extra barrel" now, said the minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy, "rather than formulating a plan for the long term."

Countries like Oman seek to husband their oil and gas to extend their income over the long run, but Shell, aiming to increase value for its shareholders, has a shorter time horizon: its license in Oman expires in 2012, so it has emphasized pumping more oil sooner.

A Dec. 8, 2003, report to Shell's top managers about the impending restatement of reserves criticized the operation in Oman. The cause of the problems, the report said, was "the extreme focus on short-term development opportunities (`keep the rigs busy to keep the oil rate up') to the detriment of defining long-term projects."

The declines in the Yibal field are spelled out by officials of the joint venture in two papers that were published last year by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The papers have different numbers: both say production peaked in 1997, but one said it declined to its current rate of 88,057 barrels a day by 2000 from a peak of 251,592, while the other said it fell to 95,000 barrels from 225,000. A spokeswoman for the society said she could not explain the difference.

Both papers say that about 90 percent of the liquid coming out of the ground is water and 10 percent is oil. The high volume of water, one paper said, comes in part from the water that Shell injects into the ground as part of its horizontal drilling technique, which it introduced to Oman in the early 1990's. The relatively high volume of water being pumped up adds considerably to the costs of extracting the oil.

In 2004, it is my understanding that Yibal had produced about 42% of Original Oil In Place (OOIP).   According to Matt Simmons, the world record for this type of reservoir is 45%.   Note that Yibal, at 42% of OOIP was producing 90% water and only 10% oil in 2004.

Assuming OOIP of 172 Gb and production to date of about 60 Gb for Ghawar, Ghawar has made about 35% of OOIP, and it is fast approaching, or is past, the point at which Yibal started crashing.  I believe that Yibal produces from the same reservoir as Ghawar.

From this point forward, Ghawar can have higher short term production or higher remaining recoveries, but not both.

Over at peakoil.com I asked the following question:

"I have a question - given that Ghawar is using many of the same and/or similar EOR techniques as Yibal, and that Shell and the government of Oman both failed to anticipate the collapse of Yibal, why should someone believe that the same fate does not await Ghawar (and Cantarell for that matter)?"

Rocdkdoc, a frequent poster there and someone who does not believe that SA is in trouble yet over Ghawar, replied as follows:

"Apples and oranges I'm afraid. Yibal is comprised of a very fine grained homogeneous carbonate with high porosity, low matrix permeability and high permeability locally attribued to fractures. In order to attempt to get extra recovery at Yibal PDO drilled horizontal short radius wells into the reservoir well before they understood the compartimentalization. As a consequence they intersected fault zones with very high permeability connected to the water leg which effectively meant the well could not draw down pressure enough to get past the water production (oil was bypassed). A couple of recent papers on Yibal (SPE) indicate they have now run full field simulations following extensive 3D seismic acquisition. They think they know where the bypassed oil is and where the fractures are...the trick going forward will be to avoid the fracture zones or shut them off if intersected.

On the contrary Ghawar is comprised mainly of very good reservoir in the Arab D, relatively high porosity and high matrix permeability. There are zones of high permeability due to the super K (an algal mat where permeability is extreme in comparison to the surronding rock) and faults. The main difference is that the Sauids have identified the issues fairly early on (as evidenced by the SPE papers that Simmons has cherry picked from) their MRC wells are nothing like the short radius horizontals drilled by PDO...the MRC wells intersecting up to 5km of reservoir in a given well. As well the Saudis have pioneered some of the new technology regarding water shut off, horizontal well logging, expandable casing ect... they are basically generations ahead of PDO in this respect. But I would not count Yibal out based on the latest publications which suggest they are doing exactly what the Saudis did with Ghawar a number of years ago....understand the full field simulation model."

So his response is that the geology in Ghawar is completely different, that the Saudis understand this much better than Shell did in Oman, and he even says to not count out Yibal yet because he thinks they can get to the stranded oil.

I wonder if others here might choose to comment on his response.

Darwinian, thanks for calling this to our attention. It's too easy to scan the headlines, get caught up in the debates below, and not catch important developments.


It appears from Gulf country PR statements that they are committed to being as shortsighted as we are; but I would be amazed if they aren't analyzing the reality of peak oil behind the scenes.

This development merely shows they are not stupid. Once they tie production to remaining reserves, our stupidity, recklessness and shortsightedness will be shown in high relief.

P.S. This could cause all our charts and assumptions to become obsolete.

I don't think the thrust of the charts data will be off by all that much.  Even if you cut production back, you can't erase what's been done.  If all the ME does this, I think it may be the beginning of the world recognition of PO, b/c if 2/3 of the oil left is there, when they decide this, it will wrankle wall street even more.  You will have WS oil co's lying to investors about how long there is and the countries of ME telling the world what's up.  It will bring the focus much clearer and maybe we'll actually do something.
What I am suggesting is that much of our concentration is focused on charts and graphs that calculate production increases and declines based on the assumption that players are maximizing production.

If and when producers step back production, to prolong their flow of income, then the charts will all have to be rethought and reworked. And, by definition, this would mean production would decline and the moment of peak would be moved up.  

I think the charts and graphs in question represent a best case. That best case is approached when everyone is making every effort to maximize production.

The actual case will most likely come in below the best case. Whether that means weather-related damage, terrorist/war related damage, voluntary production cutbacks to preserve their resource (as we are discussing here), accellerated decline rates due to aggressive production methods, or other unpleasant things we haven't thought of yet, there seems to be more risk to the production downside than opportunity to the upside.

The reason I disagree is you can't go back and change the past.  Well it's done all the time by the EIA or whatever it's called.  My point is that say the peak is somewhere now (which is what Im feeling, but who knows), that would mean nothing would really change except the other half of peak.  Yes it would matter, but we would still have peaked and the downhill is still going to be here faster than anyone wants it. The psycological aspect of the decision by these producers is more important IMO.  If ten ME countries can convince the US that the oil will run out, maybe we're moving in a better direction overall.
The peak may be now, or it might be 2011. Big difference. If the downslope is steep, it could be catastrophic. If producers choose to limit production, that would make the downslope steeper. There are, of course, other things which could make the downslope steeper.

If Dr. Campbell is correct and the decline is 2-3%, we might be able to adjust. If Schlumberger and others are correct and it's 8%, the global economy will probably crumble (or crumble faster).

Great nations can only change directions so fast. Response times for global civilizations would presumably need to be longer.  

> maybe we'll actually do something.

If they try to hold back production I'd expect we'll try to democratize them.

One big worry with the husbanding scenario :

The big consumers (US, China?) won't like it.

In this respect, "oil grab" imperialism scenarios start to look more likely. You Kuwaitis don't want to pump out your remaining oil? Never mind, we'll do it for you.

the sooner countries husband resources the better - it amounts to a gas tax of sorts -higher prices here to stay - but some powder in reserve. best scenario i can consider (unless we go to war over it)
Iraq struggles to keep up flow of oil

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Pipelines carrying crude oil through Iraq's unguarded desert suddenly collapse after weeks without disruption -- a single bullet puncturing a line, halting Iraq's main source of revenue.

At the same time, daily bloodshed is pushing the country closer to a civil war. These two dynamics at work in Iraq -- the quest for prosperity amid an endless struggle for security -- tug firmly on Iraq's future and the U.S. involvement here.

Leanan -

I know the pipelines in Iraq are constantly being damaged and then repaired, thus causing serious disruptions to the overall oil output from Iraq.

Given how pipelines (especially aboveground ones) going across hundreds of miles of open territory are so inherently vulnerable, I'm actually somewhat surprised that we are not seeing more pipeline attacks elsewhere in our troubled world.

I am also somewhat surprised that the people doing these attacks are not focusing more on the pipeline pumping stations. While a section of pipeline might be repaired in a week or so, a large pumping station could take  several months to get back in operation. Perhaps because they are now very heavily guarded?

Still, several well-planned and coordinated suicide attacks on pipelines and their pumping stations could take a considerable amount of production off line for quite a while. As things heat up in the Middle East, we will probably see more of this.

If I'm a guerrilla group looking to maximize damage while minimizing costs ,,it's hard to beat an 18 year old kid firing a single $1.50 bullet from 500 meters away.
pipeline repair+ oil production lost+ environmental damage/ $1.50 for the bullet + $5 for lunch  = an amazing ROI for the local bandidos

I think they will do this for as long as we choose to send repair crews out.

Plus, if you see yourself ultimately controling that oil infrastructure, maybe you don't want to destroy that parts that are most valuable.
I think it's somewhat more sophisticated than that. Consider the value of the infrastructure. Consider the likelihood the insurgency would be in a position to replace a destroyed pumping station if they were successful in forcing the occupation to cease. Consider the value of the oil being pumped through the infrastructure after the occupation is defeated.

It has nothing to do with ROI and lunch. It has to do with a clear understanding that the oil is worth nothing if it remains in the ground. It has to do with the understanding that the infrastructure to bring the oil from the ground to the Gulf is priceless.

What would you do? In their shoes you'd elect to make life tough for your adversary and yet minimise the post occupation efforts required to continue the flow of oil to the markets.

The "local bandidos" comment is pathetic and without merit. Whether you like it or not, the US has invaded. These lands have belonged to Arabs for a lot longer than the US has existed. Your choice of language may hint at a part of the problem.

I claim no real understanding of the Arab world, but I do appreciate the wisdom that your "$1.50 and lunch" throw-away represents.

sorry,, i meant to say ragheads
Excuse Me??  
Wow.  Classy.

Chief Elgin: I don't want to hear Dune Coon or Sand Nigger from him or anybody else.
Conrad Vig: Captain uses those terms.
Sgt. Troy Barlow: That's not the point, Conrad. The point is that Towel Head and Camel Jockey are perfectly good substitutes.
Chief Elgin: Exactly!

-- Three Kings

"The spoken word , like the arrow flown , can not be withdrawn"
Looking back at the above post, a day later, I honestly wish I had not written it. I am not a racist person and the above term is derogatory towards Arab people and most find it offensive. Tossaway remarks like that do not advance any debate and are not constructive to problem solving. To say the middle east has terrible problems is an understatement.
I grieve for the children of war and all victims of the horrible violence we see there no matter their religion or ancestry. The causes of these conflicts have roots in history as well as current decisions of leadership today.
 When I wrote bandido I did not mean to offend either but obviousley I did. I certainly did not help to soothe the irritation or advance the debate with the above post.
 I apologize to anybody I may have offended with the above terms.
Thank you.  
goritas -

Good point!  I neglected to take into consideration the possibility that these people want to damage the pipeline system so as to deny its benefit to the occupiers but perhaps not so much as to render it useless once the occupiers are driven out.

On the other hand, if it looks like the occupiers have no intention whatsoever of leaving and plan to be there indefinitely, as appears to be the case of the US in Iraq, then lasting, long-term, and expensive damage DOES make sense, as the insurgents will not be the ones having to repair it.

Regarding Gungas' remark, I wouldn't take it too literally or take it to heart.  The term 'bandito' has almost become part of the English language and is often used to convey the image of an independent outlaw. In fact, it is sometimes used almost as a compliment for someone who is outside the system and somewhat of a revolutionary. I think any insurgency could be described as a band of 'banditos' without denegrating their cause.  Just my opinion and my amateur's read on contemporary American English usage.

Let us not get fixated on perceived slights. (The real ones are bad enough.)

I think the UK is pretty screwed when it comes to electricity. All our nucleur power plants are or will be decomisioned in the future, and we need to start building replacements for these yesterday. Also north sea gas is running out. Perhaps a large shift to coal could get us out of our future mess. Oh yeah UK coal peaked too, guess we could import it :p

You are right. It certainly seems like UK has problems ahead.

It seems like the situation is ripe to start getting some of these things in the local papers - maybe some of this is already being done. You might try letters to the editor, or other approaches - writing in smaller publications, making friends with someone writing for a newspaper, or whatever works. Perhaps with more publicity, more effort would be put into conservation and alternative fuels. Otherwise, UK looks a lot like a canary in a coal mine.

For some in Washington, commuting's a slug-fest

Rush hour in Washington brings the slugs out into the light.

Each workday, members of a unique breed of commuters known as "slugs" line up, sometimes at regular bus stops, sometimes at special areas. Chatting quietly, they wait for strangers to pick them up and drive them to the office, or home at the end of the day.

The slugs constitute a decades-old system of casual car-pooling that moves thousands of workers from the suburbs to the city, with no money changing hands and no official government involvement.

They have this kind of informal system in the SF east bay and in Chicago as well, although I've never heard them called slugs in either place.

Saudi Arabia's Shiites and their Effect on the Kingdom's Stability


Although there is little evidence of Shiite militancy inside the Saudi kingdom at present, the violence between Shiites and Sunnis in neighboring Iraq remains intense and could spill over into Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the specter of confessional violence looms as homegrown Saudi Salafi-Jihadists and the fighters returning from the jihad in Iraq could clash with the quiescent Shiites living inside the oil-rich kingdom.

Although there is still little evidence of returning Saudi fighters, there is cause for concern with respect to the oil industry. The oil target is a way to attack the Saudi regime, the West and, in the Eastern Province, also the Shiites since they comprise a considerable number of Saudi Aramco's manual labor force. If Saudi Salafi-Jihadists do in fact return home and inject new blood, energy and more sophisticated techniques into homegrown Saudi terrorist movements, it is very likely that there will be increased attacks on oil infrastructure, including the enormous and exposed water-pumping installations which Saudi Aramco depends on to pump crude oil from its aging supergiant fields in the Eastern Province.

Therefore, it will be important to monitor whether returning Saudi fighters breathe new life into the kingdom's Sunni insurgency. If the violent Salafi-Jihadists returning from Iraq decide to fight the Shiites in the Eastern Province, the effect on oil prices would be dramatic and devastating for the Western economies, thus giving the Saudi jihadis one more enticing incentive to bring confessional violence to Saudi Arabia.

It appeared initially that the big Sunni powers backed Israel's attack on (Shi'ite) Hezbollah, presumably assuming/hoping Israel would crush it in a few hours and set back Shi'ite resurgence.

This has backfired, since Israel miscalculated, and Hezbollah has stalemated the Israelis. This amounts to a Hezbollah victory, which Israel cannot allow. Israel is under tremendous strategic pressure to "win", which may not be possible without an actual prolonged war.

THerefore, the Sunni rulers are backtracking and calling for a ceasefire. If the Lebanese war (Shi'ite vs. Jew) merges with the four way war in Iraq (Arabs against "Christian Zionist Crusaders", Shia vs. Sunni, Kurd vs. Arab & Turkomen, Shias and Sunnis vs themselves), then it is quite likely that the war will expand to include the neighbors.  

and indeed while the world's attention focused on Lebanon, Iraq is sinking into full blown civil war, with Iraqi government officials admitting that "the Iraqi experiment is over" and the breakup of the country is inevitable.

The Sunni rulers have every reason to be afraid. This growing civil war could very easily blossom and drag in the entire Middle East into a war between Sunni and Shia. And as WesTexas noted, there are large Shia minorities in the oil producing areas of the western Gulf, with Bahrain, I believe, Shia majority.  

Sorry, the Independent article has disappeared behind a paywall.

money quotes;

"Iraq as a political project is finished," a senior government official was quoted as saying, adding: "The parties have moved to plan B." He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. "There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into [Shia] east and [Sunni] west," he said. (...)

In the past two weeks, at a time when Lebanon has dominated the international news, the sectarian civil war in central Iraq has taken a decisive turn for the worse. There have been regular tit-for-tat massacres and the death toll for July is likely to far exceed the 3,149 civilians killed in June.

Mr Maliki, who is said to be increasingly isolated, has failed to prevent the violence. Other Iraqi leaders claim he lacks experience in dealing with security, is personally very isolated without a kitchen cabinet and is highly dependent on 30-40 Americans in unofficial advisory positions around him.

"The government is all in the Green Zone like the previous one and they have left the streets to the terrorists," said Mahmoud Othman, a veteran Iraqi politician. He said the situation would be made worse by the war in Lebanon because it would intensify the struggle between Iran and the US being staged in Iraq. The Iraqi crisis would now receive much reduced international attention.

That's why US troops are being pulled from the Sunni triangle and thrown into Baghdad, to try to stem this imminent breakup of Iraq. This shift will also relieve pressure on the Sunni insurgents, and allow them to consolidate their position in the provinces, and shift forces to Baghdad as well.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that Bush Sees a Chance for Change to Sweep Mideast

I guess we'll have to wait and see whose "reality" prevails.

PeakOil Tarzan -

The US has about as much chance of 'sweeping the Middle East' as Germany, after the battle of Stalingrad, had of sweeping the Soviet Union.  Or about as much chance as LBJ did of sweeping Vietnam in 1968.

 Bush, ensconced in the bowels of the White House, behind layer upon layer of security and layer upon layer of yes-men, is no less removed from reality than Hilter was, circa early 1945, when he was ensconced in his Fürher-bunker  behind layer upong layer of security and layer upon layer of yes-men.

Hitler at the time was ordering divisions into battle that no longer existed. Bush appears to be not far from doing the same.

No one stopped Hitler's insane actions, and no one will stop Bush's.

I fear we are all in for a very bad time.

Since you brought it up, am I the only one to notice that GWB seems particularly loony lately? His performance at the G8 meeting was spectacular-grabbing the German PM then running away like a subway groper, calling Tony over-"Yo, Blair", talking with a wide open mouth of grub (on camera no less). He is starting to become more likeable, in a Jerry Lewis/Gallagher sort of way.  
BrianT -

Yeah, I agree, GWB's behavior appears to be getting somewhat grotesque.  The question is: Why?

I hope you are not the only one picking up on this.

The president is an alcholic even if he hasn't touched alcohol is 20 years. Alcoholism is a mindset as well as a central nervous system disease. Self deluded that he can do no wrong leads him to do insane things like stating that certain parts of the legislation he is signing can simply be ignored. National security and executive privilge were the defenses Nixon used to excuse his crimes. Nixon was a full blown drunk and prescription drug attack while in office and also believed he could do no wrong.
I do believe bush is starting to loose it.  He thought he was a crusading knight out to make the world a better place.  Instead he has taken on the characteristics of Don Quixote.
So was Kennedy(turns out he was a bigger junkie than Rush Limbaugh). So was Churchill(more whiskey per day than Keith Richards - by a factor of two). It could be argued, by your standards, that Clinton fits the bill by way of an alcoholic father. What is your point? I wonder, were you drunk when you wrote this? So was Yeltsin. Need I go on?

In fact the only sober one I can think of was Hitler. You better seriously reconsider your methodology. Sounds like you've got a problem. Maybe it has something to do with your "mindset." Just checking.

Oh, yeah, sorry... Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad seem real sober, too. No problem there. Did you look at this issue for even half a second past the point where you decided you didn't like George Bush and you were going to rip him?

This is stupid crap. You are more capable than this.

I agree that alcohol has affected most presidents lives. LBJ had similar dysfunctional thinking about Vietnam and was known to really booze it up. JFK grew up with a father who smuggled liquor during Prohibition. Hitler may have been a teatotaler but his doctors kept him well supplied with amphetamines before it was known they caused schizophrenia. Stalin, Saddam, and many other tyrants of history were severely physically abused by their fathers. In many Islamic countries there is no legal protection for children against abuse. Even the Torah has provisions for the 'honor killing' of children. We are doing business with royals and dictators who don't tolerate unpleasant news about their oilfields and many other issues. They believe ridiculous things about 'Zionists' which also feeds a disconnect with reality that allows them to tell outright lies to we infidels with a clear conscience. Dubya, Cheney, and Rummy may consider people like me an infidel who can be lied to because it is in the interest of national security.
As for my mindset that's between me and my psychiatrist.
Well said. I appreciate your response. I wasn't expecting that. I misjudged you.

Jesus? Did I just misjudge someone? ...Lloyd, did I just misjudge someone?

"Yessir, that happens occassionally."

"Words of wisdom, Lloyd - Words of Wisdom."

Churchill was a heavy drinker, but he was not an alcholoic by any means. Most of the English upper class are heavy drinkers; few are alcoholics, though Lord Rochester was an interesting exception.

The idea that Churchill was an alcoholic is flat-out nonsense propounded largely by his political opponents in Britain and especially by that Goebbels guy in Nazi Germany. You do not live to age ninety and die with no evidence of cirrosis of the liver if you are an alcoholic.

I'm reminded of what Lincoln said when busybodies informed him that General Grant was drinking a fair amount:

"Then I shall find his brand of whiskey and send a barrel of it to my other generals."  [or words to that effect]

To grasp the true extent of alcohol consumption among upper class Brits, I suggest reading the well-researched novels of Patrick O'Brian. Ah, Captain John Aubrey, a man after my own heart.

I regard accusations of alcoholism in historical figures with some suspicion.  What I noticed most about Samuel Pepys' Diary was that people in his good old days spent a lot of time at least slightly buzzed.  Other than boiled tea and coffee, they seemed to drink a lot of alcoholic beverages:
    * Ale (6)
    * Ale, buttered (2)
    * Beer (6)
    * Cider (7)
    * Metheglin (6)
    * Mum (2)
    * Posset (6)
    * Sherry (1)
    * Spirits (5)
    * Wine (23)
    * Wormwood (20)

Though water had been piped into London since the completion of the New River and the Islington reservoir at the beginning of the century, by the 1660s the supply was intermittent, necessitating storage in domestic cisterns. As it had passed through elm pipes and lead `quills' before reaching the house and then was allowed to stagnate, it would not have been thought a healthy or pleasant drink. Though some houses would have had domestic wells, the chances of these being contaminated by nearby cess-pits were high. Water was not, therefore, a drink of choice for the city dweller.


I can't remember why I stopped following Pepys' Diary, but it was very worthwhile reading.

But note that even if Iraq breaks up, the White House can cast it as a victory if the currently elected government votes to break itself up. And I seriously think that if such a proposal came up in the legislature after being negotiated to agreement behind closed doors between Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite representatives, that it would easily pass. Then Bush can wave his hands and say "See? They voted for it and they are happy with it." After that all that any of those nations needs to do to stay on the happy side of things is have elections or the appearance of elections. And the Sunnis will elect Sunni leaders, the Shiites will elect Shiite leaders, and the Kurds will elect Kurdish leaders.
If Kuwait and others deliberately produce on a declining curve(negative exponential,solve the DE)then at some point they won't be able afford their current level of imports. Even if a barrel of oil was worth a zillion dollars, it still contains only so many joules or BTUs of (combusted) energy. If that energy doesn't cover the amount embodied in bananas or car parts then these things can't be imported. This is only a plan for slower death, not survival.
I lived in Kuwait for 8 years...

It used to be said prior to 1991.. that they earned more from their financial investments than they did from their oil. Then they had to pay for the Gulf War/liberation...

With the current price of oil and consequent vast amounts of hard cash at their disposal.. I imagine that they are back to same investment position.

I noted a news item in TOD yesterday about the emir giving "everybody" (well, in reality, probably just all 1st class Kuwaiti males) a present of $700... tho' that's mere pocket change to a Kuwaiti..

No. China will be exporting a new car for $9995 (approx. 130 fillups for a large SUV). IMO, ten years from now the cheapest new car will cost maybe 50 fillups for a large SUV.All that expensive oil will be a very good thing to own.  
The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil
snip snip

By Michel Chossudovsky

07/26/06 "GlobalResearch" --- - Is there a relationship between the bombing of Lebanon and the inauguration of the World's largest strategic pipeline, which will channel more a million barrels of oil a day to Western markets?  

Virtually unnoticed, the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC) oil pipeline, which links the Caspian sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, took place on the 13th of July, at the very outset of the Israeli sponsored bombings of Lebanon.

One day before the Israeli air strikes, the main partners and shareholders of the BTC pipeline project, including several heads of State and oil company executives were in attendance at the port of Ceyhan. They were then rushed off for an inauguration reception in Istanbul, hosted  by Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in the plush surroundings of the Çýraðan Palace.

Also in attendance was British Petroleum's (BP) CEO, Lord Browne together with senior government officials from Britain, the US and Israel. BP leads the BTC pipeline consortium. Other major Western shareholders include Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, France's Total and Italy's ENI. (see Annex)  

Israel's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was present at the venue together with a delegation of top Israeli oil officials.

The BTC pipeline totally bypasses the territory of the Russian Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, both of which have become US "protectorates", firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US and NATO. Moreover, both Azerbaijan and Georgia have longstanding military cooperation agreements with Israel. In 2005, Georgian companies received some $24 million in military contracts funded out of U.S. military assistance to Israel under the so-called "Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program".

Maybe this thread is dead, but I must comment on Leanann's first citation: Kuwait's decision to link production to reserves.  This is the first official adoption of a hoarding strategy by a govt. that I've seen.  It is bound to spread as it makes total logical sense from the exporter's perspective.  If implemented, it may have more impact on restricting supply than any other factor.   I just think it is amazing.