DrumBeat: July 4, 2006

Update [2006-7-4 9:39:37 by Leanan]: Happy Independence Day!

From ISN Security Watch: Turkmenistan's hold on European energy security

Now, with international ratings agency Fitch warning that the elements are in place for a "perfect storm" of an energy crisis, news comes on 30 July that talks between Turkmenistan and Ukraine over an independent agreement for gas supplies in the fourth quarter of 2006 have bumped up against the issue of transit through Russia. The previous day, Turkmenistan and Russia's state-controlled Gazprom broke off talks on late-2006 shipments to Russia amid Turkmen threats to cut off supplies in September. Is the storm fast approaching?

It's the end of the world as we know it...and even the smart people are saying so.

Last month, ITP Business printed an article called Is peak oil pure fiction? This month, they printed letters they got in response to it. Pretty good responses to the cornucopian view.

Calpine's losses more than triple, a victim of tightening credit and high natural gas prices.

Pickup truck sales latest victim of high US gasoline prices.

BP blames Venezuela's Chavez for shortfall in production.

BP - the UK's largest oil company - said yesterday that it produced less oil in the past three months than many analysts had predicted, leading some to suggest it could miss its production targets for the year.

The company blamed a more aggressive attitude by the Chavez government, which forced the renegotiation of contracts on three of BP's oil fields in Venezuela. It is believed that BP was forced to give up about two-thirds of the oil the fields were producing, handing it instead to the state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Petrocaribe deal slow to take effect:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - One year after 13 Caribbean countries signed a deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to buy oil under preferential terms, a majority of them have not received a single drop of fuel, while those that have are still paying high prices at the pump.

...The program has gotten bogged down because many governments don't have state-owned docking or storage facilities, or the know-how of running an oil business — a task they previously left to private companies.

Forget cheap gas, Iran tells India

A note received on June 25 from the Indian mission in Tehran, addressed to ministry of external affairs (MEA) and the petroleum ministry, quoted Hosseinian saying, “Iran could not pay subsidies for supply of cheap gas to India and Pakistan who have kept gas price low in their domestic markets by providing subsidies. India and Pakistan should forget purchasing low price gas from Iran and they should take advantage of the opportunity of using the 'peace' gas pipeline.”

China has published a list of coal and electricity consumption for every province, region and municipality. The goal is to promote sustainable growth and energy efficiency.

John McCarron argues that homebuyers need to take transportation costs into account.

Recently a coalition of not-for-profits, led in Chicago by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, has been working on what they call The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index. It uses a complex formula that weighs, among other factors, rents and prices plus proximity to public transit and average vehicle miles traveled by residents in a given neighborhood. The index may not measure the exact cost of where we choose to live, but it's more accurate than what can be divined from most other sources.
And just for fun...beware of Ukrainians selling perpetual motion machines on eBay.
A Small Step Forward

(CBS 11 News) DALLAS Rain is certainly in high demand in Dallas right now. But when a host of dignitaries, including a delegation of elected leaders, show up for a major announcement on the steps of a DART light rail station, rain is a pain.

Nevertheless, when the federal government is handing over $700 million dollars to the Regional Transit Agency, the officials take it in stride, and DART takes a substantial funding allotment, with no questions asked.

On the steps of Victory Station, just west of the American Airlines Center, Federal Transit Administration Deputy Sandra Bushue unveiled the largest transit funding grant the State of Texas has ever seen.

The money is geared to finance a 21-mile extension of DART's light rail service.

The "Green Line" will offer public transit rail service to residents living in the southeast and northwest sectors of the city.

"When I talk to people about why they don't ride light rail, they say it doesn't go where we want to go. Well, this starts to connect people with places they want to go," said Gary Thomas, DART.

The expansion will offer 16 stations, including stops at Fair Park, Deep Ellum, Baylor Medical Center, U.T. Southwestern and Dallas Love Field.

The total cost for the expansion will exceed $2 billion dollars.

My Addendum >[Before Bush, 80% matching, now 50% Federal matching.  The bulk of the Interstate Highway System was built with 90% federal matching]

The DART light rail system is now in its' tenth year of operation.

An average of 60,000 trips are taken on the train line daily. DART offers daily service in Plano, Garland, Richardson and Dallas.

[DART could carry more if they had more Light Rail Vehicles.  Peak Hour, Peak Direction is at capacity]

I would be interested in hearing your take on the advisability of running light rail connections out to airports.
Seems to me that in the near future there will be a lot less flights with seats costing a LOT more and the only people who will be flying will be the finincially well to do - And I would bet that they will continue to drive their SUV's to the airport.
Only people that might take light rail to the future airport will be people that want to take their kids to let them see the wealthy drive in and fly out and then tell their kids about how everyone used to be able to do that.
My take is that it would be better to run the light rails lines to amusement parks. The kids would enjoy it more?
I think it is hard to make the case for light rail to the airport unless the community has already installed it at the other places where it makes more sense i.e. to/ from high density residential to high density employment/public facilities... But, it might be argued if you were to combine it with the removal of parking at the airport (esp. long term) that it would reduce highway congestion
Rail to airports will also be used to bring the workers to the field, whether they are TSA screeners, counter workers or others.

Not a first link, but a good one after the core is developed (depending on the location of the airport relative to housing/work/entertainment centers).

Even with $35 oil, I thought there was an overemphasis on rail links to airports (TPTB like them, they can think of themselves taking rail to the airport and avoiding that hassle).  In reality, 1/4 to 2/3 of the airport rail pax worked there (varies by airport).

However, high oil prices will not "kill aviation" directly.  At $35/barrel, refined oil was ~10% of airline costs.  Airline fuel economy has been steadily climbing per pax-mile (SW went from 45 to 54 pax-mile/gallon in the last 5 years).

The 787 will use 20% less than the 767 it replaces.  The 2012 EIS replacement for the 737 should use 25+% less fuel.

I am flying to the Houston Peak Oil conference for $99.10 RT from New Orleans.  Add a $40 fuel surcharge and I will still fly.  At 50 pax-mile/gallon, I will use about 12 gallons.  At a future 75 pax-mile/gallon, about 8 gallons.

The value of flying is high enough that it will not be easily displaced.  Home heating, daily commuting and other oil uses will likely be displaced first IMHO.

What will "kill aviation" for the general public is a prolonged, severe recession/depression with declining real wages.  But almost everyone will still fly "on occasion", even if only once every few years.

I agree that flying will linger.  People need to "get together" from time-to-time, even if the intervals are several years.  The government with its supportive policies of no fuel taxes for jet fuel, provided airport infrastructure, radar facilities and revolving bankruptcy court support has kept it competitive with the automobile.  Russian air transportation is the type of model that we will probably evolve into.  

Right now people can replace most airplane trips quite easily.  The use of VOIP, Voice Over Internet Protocol, telephone service provides unlimited talk time anywhere/anytime in the USA.  See sunrocket.com to get the idea.  You can use web cams, home entertainment systems, to enhance voice contact.  Documents can be scanned in, then emailed/faxed.  Conference calling can bring multiple parties into the loop.  DVD disks made from Camcorders can be mailed.

With a little electronic hardware most airline flights can be eliminated easily and cheaply, once we warm up to the idea.  TODers should use this approach if possible.  

New destinations, new development
DART Description of "the other" TOD
If the future is anything like the past, vibrant destinations will spring up all along the new rail lines.

While DART Rail has changed the way tens of thousands of people commute to work, it's also prompted dramatic lifestyle changes. People are choosing to live, work and play with DART as their connector. Since 1999, DART Rail has helped drive approximately $3.3 billion in new development near rail stations, and long before trains run on the Green and Orange lines, more transit-oriented developments are under construction and being planned.

Nowhere is the activity more dramatic than at Victory Park where DART's Victory Station and the mammoth American Airlines Center are overshadowed by the new, 31-story W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences. Construction cranes tower over four more residential projects in the area, as well as two retail and office buildings. Investment at the 75-acre development has passed the $500 million mark, and there's more in the works. Later this year, ground will be broken for the luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel and condominiums, The House condominium tower by famed French designer Philippe Starck and YOO Ltd., and yet another office tower.

Just up the corridor, near the site of DART's forthcoming Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Station, First Worthing is developing Cityville, a 16-acre mixed-use project featuring 263 apartments and 43,000 square feet of retail space.

In Farmers Branch and Carrollton, city planners are focusing large-scale urban redevelopment plans on future rail stations. Meanwhile, the City of Irving has drafted a land-use plan that envisions a full-fledged, mid-rise transit mall -- featuring office, residential, retail and services -- extending through the Las Colinas Urban Center and encompassing two proposed stations.

In the Southeast corridor, developers will build a four-story commercial and residential building near the future Baylor Hospital Station. DART Rail is viewed by many as key to drawing a new mix of development to the popular Deep Ellum arts and entertainment district, and more growth is expected near the Fair Park and Martin Luther King, Jr. stations.

The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is described in more detail in this Brookings Institution report.

The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index is a groundbreaking innovation because it prices the trade-offs that households make between housing and transportation costs and the savings that derive from living in communities that are near shopping, schools, and work, and that boast a transit-rich environment. Built using data sets that are available for every transit-served community in the nation, the tool can be applied in neighborhoods in more than 42 cities in the United States. It provides consumers, policymakers, lenders, and investors with the information needed to make better decisions about which neighborhoods are truly affordable, and illuminate the implications of their policy and investment choices.
The July ASPO newsletter is out:


Articles in this newsletter:

  1. Venezuela Revisited
  2. British Ambassador admits to Peak Oil
  3. The airlines admit to Peak Oil
  4. Astrology
  5. It is not difficult to guess the motives
  6. ASPO-5 International Conference in Italy
  7. Clinton raises alarm about oil depletion
  8. Scientific evaluation of the Hubbert Curve
  9. ASPO International Audio Conference - July 6th
The article about the Venezuelan oil strike is interesting.  

Also "Peak Oil and the Collapse of Commercial Aviation."  Kind of surprising that an airline industry journal would print an article like that.  

I don,t know why you think it surprising that aviation industry journals should tell the truth about peak oil. Civil aviation has already see twice what higher fuel costs can do and, now, many of us expect that the lessons of permanently higher fuel costs will be disastrous, especially for US carriers where the majority are in Chapter 11 bankrupcy.
 I used to work for the Heathrow Flying Circus as a planning manager and later Commercial Economist. The European airlines were generally united in seeing the problem of peak oil - which is why there was no airline objections to state aid for High Speed Rail developments in Europe. We saw rail as the future for short haul travel, with whatever fuel is left devoted to Inter-continental routes which have no alternatives.
Today, the European Parliament approved a paper that called for special taxes on airlines to reduce their contribution to global warming. The EU Parliament does not make laws but it does influence the Commission which does. And the Commission will now react.
The people who will be worst affected are the discount carriers. Because their wages are low and there marketing cots are negligible, fuel represents a higher percentage of total costs. Yet Ryanair, Europes biggest discounter, ordered 10 more Boeings yesterday to bring it's total orders to 249 aircraft. They and Boeing are going to learn a very hard lesson.
Thanks. It's the 4th of July, so now for a slightly different approach...

Soccer Good for the Psyche, Say the Winning Germans.

Everything, or almost everything these days in Germany, the ever happier host of the 2006 World Cup, is being looked at through the prism of soccer.
But not Bears.

Bruno, after 170 years of no bears in
Gremany, is no longer with us

It is this attitude toward the natural world that makes me confident that we will use every drop of the recoverable conventional oil, not bothering to sequester the carbon.


You make a good point, but your brush stroke is too broad. Lots of examples spring to mind of similar behavior, like the Italian and Maltese bird shooting habits. Do not be a small bird, and I do mean small, like a sparrow, in those two nations as the "hunting" instinct is to shoot them. The Maltese put song-birds in cages in their tiny rock-walled gardens to attract migrating birds to shoot.

But, in California, we did give the Mountain Lion a big reprieve and their numbers are in the 1,000s. Now much of California is split over this. If you live rurally and like to hunt deer, than you have one attitude toward the Lion, while if you are a green, or live in Frisco, you have a much different attitude. But there has been some agreement, and an occasional Lion wandering into a suburb does get shot, and lots in the north of the state if they are killing sheep or the like. And this is a heavily over-populated state.

Also, there has been much more cooperation of late between greens and union labor, or fishermen, in an attempt to strike a balance. This is much different that even a few years ago where it was all "my way or the highway."


You strike a chord here of a a modern phenomenon much discussed in the hiking community - that children today have a major disconnect with nature. Indeed most young adults have been reared in an environment that is air-conditioned and wired (TV, computers, etc.). Children are rarely seen outside playing any more. This is a problem that also worries some child psychologists as well.

There was also a recent poll in the U.S. that came out where the majority stated that they would rather watch nature on TV than, well, in nature. Bizaare and not a good sign for this country. My wife teaches outdoor education to children.  There are a few gems here and there, but most of these children would rather stay back in their cabins playing video games or almost anything that doesn't have to do with thr real world.

But  what are the children's role models?  We live in a consumer obsessed culture that craves buying stuff at the mall , giant automobiles, convenience, comfort, industrialized, process food, and speed. So why should we be surprised?  

My guess is because, when watching "nature" on TV:

  • The wildlife always shows up
  • Its a lot more exciting, they skip right to the hunting and sex and leave out all that sitting around stuff that animals spend most of the time doing.
  • You never have to camp in the rain
etc etc
You forgot one important point: You don't have to sweat.
In an interview with a local kid whose Mom had drug him out to a park cleanup, he cited that as his reason for not caring much for 'outdoor stuff'. This on a pretty spring day with a high in the low 80's.
Hey, obese kids sweat a LOT.
confident? :-)

The good news is that the last drop has already been preserved, and it's BIG:

"When the Maxwell House plant closed down in 1993, a few ... tried mightily to rescue the Hoboken plant's trademark coffee cup sign and its ever-flowing drops of coffee. The giant work of neon art had illuminated the Hudson River for decades, illustrating the company's slogan, "Good to the Last Drop." But ... former Maxwell House employees later told us the classic sign had been unceremoniously destroyed.

Then the reports started to come in: "The last drop was saved;" "I know the guy who's got the last drop." This past fall we learned the stories were true: ... Charles Moorman, who supervised the colossal cup's demolition, had retrieved the metal form for the smallest drop - a mere 12 feet high, three feet wide, and 200 - plus pounds -- and stored it in his Harrington Park backyard for six years... It awaits the restoration of its (expensive!) neon tubing and installation in our Museum space."


Anyone else get the sense that Americans are increasingly on edge?  

I get the sense that a lot of people are ready to explode at the slightest provocation.  IMO, it's because they are under so much pressure--financial; work; family, etc.--and they sense that the times are a-changin.

Five of us were leaving a fireworks show last night.  Instead of rushing to get in a nonmoving line of cars, we just took our chairs out, opened a bottle wine, enjoyed the night, and watched the SUV's jostling for a few feet of space so that they could wait in line for the traffic to clear.

The occupants of two vehicles--a small Toyota and a large SUV (a Suburban)--almost came to blows when the Toyota driver refused to move to allow the SUV to exit the parking lot.  The SUV drove over the curb and sidewalk to get in the nonmoving line of cars.  One of the passengers in the SUV got out and kicked the Toyota.   It makes one wonder what happens as it becomes increasingly clear to the SUV driving owners of McMansions that their way of life is passing away. . .

I live in the city.  We just bought a house in a very racially-mixed, poor/working class neighborhood.  we are working to make the house "green and crunchy" and ready for post carbon existence.  (But I digress.)

The other night, several of the neighborhood children and parents gathered at "the holding pond" (which is a large area of green always with some water, meant to replace the old marshes and help with storm-water run-off) to do their own fireworks show.

It was fun and beautiful, and rather small.  Lots of laughter, squeels, and "oohs and aahs" from the little ones.  No cars.  No parking.  No traffic hassles.

Walkable, bike-able neighborhoods.  Shoes and pedals.  These help to create a high quality of life, reduce tension, and just might help us to save a bit of a niche on the planet for our species for a little while longer.

Small and simple can reduce tension.  As can a bottle of wine shared between friends who are not rushing to get into cars and traffic!

I vote for both: small and simple AND the wine with friends :)
Beer (local Abita Amber) and boiled crawfish on the stoop also work well :-)
Ahhh.  Now we are really getting somewhere in solving peak oil problems.

Imagine areas where 20 or 30% of trips are by foot and biking, 40 to 60% are by transit (plenty of electric rail, accomodating carry-on bikes) and only the small remainder of trips are by auto (maybe 10 to 30%).

We could even slow down and live more humane, neighborly lives.

I do believe that some of the simple solutions with existing technology can bring us the most immediate, effective, and lasting impact.

The cool, Jetson's solutions are not to be discounted in the long run, but are not likely to be really effective for a long time.

Imagine areas where 20 or 30% of trips are by foot and biking, 40 to 60% are by transit (plenty of electric rail, accomodating carry-on bikes) and only the small remainder of trips are by auto (maybe 10 to 30%).

Imagine ?

I live in that neighborhood.  The Lower Garden District of New Orleans.

Of course our electric rail line is the oldest Urban Rail in the world, 1834 to my neighborhood; 1835 further uptown.

And our cars were all built in 1923/24 (except our 1897 work car).  So no carry-on bikes but mahogany seats.

Before Katrina, 3 of the 5 apartments in the old mansion that I live in did not own cars.  5 places to buy food within 6 blocks, banks, tailor, barber, insurance agent, restaurants, bars, shops within 4 blocks.  2.5 blocks to the streetcar.

Off to the July 4th Celebration on the River soon; starts at 3 PM and goes to 10 PM.  I might walk or take the bus (streetcars still down :-((  About 1.25 miles.  Last drove my car on Sunday.  Might need it again before the end of the week.

Maybe because they've just charging their gas and finally can't pay the bills

Experts say rising interest rates and higher gas prices are squeezing consumers' budgets. As a result, more people say, "Charge it," then find it harder to pay the bills.
The American Bankers Association says the signs of distress are evident in a pulse-taking of late payments that ticked up in the first quarter. The president of one credit counseling group says consumers are carrying "exorbitant" debt with no savings to fall back on.
I've driven a variety of small cars for years, from a 1300cc Fiat to my present Hyundai.  I've also had a succession of Jeep Grand Wagoneers.  I can tell you that the attitude of other drivers is much different depending on the size of your vehicle.  If your in a small car, your are much more likely to have other drivers pull out in front of you, tailgate, cut you off, etc.  It's like they think you're driving a Nerf car.  What they fail to understand is that it's the car that is smaller, not the driver - I guess because they cannot distinguish between the two (you are what you drive).  There is also a pecking order based on the price of your car.  A BMW or Audi driver will expect you to give way if you are driving a small Hyundai.  

Problem is, I don't buy into any of that - other drivers can wait their turn and follow the rules, and I don't give a crap what they drive.  This lead to conflicts at times!

Cars are the avatars of people too lazy to play World of Warcraft.  Hybrids are halflings.  SUVs are rangers.  Hummers are barbarians.  Pickups are orcs. Etc.  I think the gnomes are the old Volkswagen beetles.  
There are no halflings, rangers, or barbarians in World of Warcraft. I think you must be confusing it with Everquest, a game whose time has come and gone. ;)
I've played both those games extensively, but I didn't want to expose my nerdiness. =O
Oddly enough, I would say that New Orleanians (NOT the "Uptight Center of the US" before; note the sobriquet "The Big Easy") are even less so today.

Everyone assumes that the stranger might have been through some major trauma and needs a smile, a kind word and a helping hand more than the vigiliante imposition of some "social order" or norm.

Everyday living can be quite a hassle with lines & shortages and the absence of so much.  When I am in line, and not in a rush, and the person behind me is, I often let them get ahead of me.  I am not alone in this small courtesy, which means little but smooths out life and it's difficulties nicely.  Often the offer is refused, with a smile.

I have asked this question of myself and those around me for a while.  I do notice and it might just be the age of my parents that they have lost almost all tolerance for the misbehaviors of others.  I see it in others though of differant age groups.  I find that being nice and giving freely for the sake of the joy of giving is getting so uncommon that when I do it people can't believe I am helping them or giving freely.  I am not rich, I don't work for my living like a lot of you do, But I have skills and things that I do give freely of when needed.  

In the Years of living in the south, My second wife started to notice the uncaring attitudes of people.  She lives in Ohio now and can't stop talking about the change in caring that she has gotten up there.  

Maybe it is just a regional thing, or maybe people just live in the wrong places for their comfort levels, or maybe being nice is a dying phase of Human history.

I don't know, but I have said before, I see a change happening and its getting worse.  I'll keep being nice.

The collapse of "niceness" is not a regional thing.
I suspect it is spreading all around the world.
Causes for the phenomenon are probably many.
Number one on my list is ego-centered advertising.
What does this mean?

In order to sell a product to YOU.
Commercials center on instant gratification for the YOU.
They center on catering to YOUR sense of power.
YOUR sense of importance.
YOUR sense of uniqueness.
YOUR sense of being better than the next-door Jones fellow.

These messages accumulate in the mind to the point where people expect to be serviced wherever they as if they were royalty. When was the last time a stranger said "thank you" if you hold the door open for them?

have you watched the documentary called 'century of self'?
The root is population growth, I think.  Niceness is reciprocal altruism, the expectation that those you do favors to have a chance of returning them some day.  But the US population has tripled in my lifetime and the chance of a stranger returning a favor has therefore fallen to one third.  I don't say this is conscious; it is preconscious.  I do plenty of favors for people I see a lot but the percentage of people I meet once and never again has greatly increased and after a while the selfish internal computer takes notice.  I think this happens in all social animals exposed to crowding.  
When was the last time a stranger said "thank you" if you hold the door open for them?


Thank you for letting us know where the nice people are hiding: NOLA
Happened to me twice this morning. And one person held the door open for me. Minnesotans are nicest, among U.S. states.
In Northern California they stream out of the store, each glued to their cell phone, each to their self-absorbed world, and not one volunteering to lift an arm and keep the door ajar for the next person behind. They won't even nod a thank you with their eyeballs. You've got to see it to believe it. Obviously folk are more civic minded in other parts of the country.
Summer heat, holiday friction?

How about IED - Intermittent Explosive Disorder, apparently a legit psych diagnosis implicated in road rage etc. Coming soon to a court near you, make sure your defense attourney has it in his armoury. More effective when the defendant is white and middle class, no doubt.

Why didn't one of them die?

A little off topic, but just on ENERGYPULSE.

A good argument that natural gas may be the anomaly in the short term. That is, the price will stay low because there is so much of it being saved/stored.



Natural gas storage levels are so far ahead of historical averages that there is no longer any non-hurricane alternative to price declines and production cut-backs. For example, everything else equal and assuming average injection rates, natural gas storage would reach traditional maximum levels around 3.3 Tcf about two months ahead of schedule and absolute physical maximum storage around 3.5 Tcf more than one month ahead of schedule. There will simply be nowhere to put the gas normally injected in September and October. Second, a 450 Bcf storage surplus is approximately equal to incremental gas usage from a back-to-back hot summer and cold winter. This is approaching the definition of a short-term gas bubble. Apart from lower prices and production cut-backs within a month or two, the only force that can change this dynamic is a highly disruptive Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. In the long-run, the gas bubble collapses as North American depletion curves dominate all other variables. But not this summer. For this summer, it's either much lower prices and voluntary production shut-ins in the regions with the most extreme supply / demand imbalances or hurricanes.

I plan to buy Encana (ECA) this October, target ~$38.  And more if we have another warm winter.  Hold at least 4 years (maybe 15).

Encana is a major gas producer, Canadian based,


I have been in and out of ECA over the last three years, just now getting out.

If its not already been talked about.  Popular Mechanics recent issue has an article off our drumbeat discussions of yesterday.  Can't there be a 100 mpg car built soon?  It is several pages long and I only skimmed it to see if they had mentioned anything about the Op-Ed piece, then thought, Duh! Charles, "They have to put to print weeks in advance, so the answer is NO!".

But they did have several pages of info and might or might not be interesting to read, I can't say I have not read them yet.  

I don't know why my dad got the magazine, but he does have more tools than I'd bet any of you except a few farmers.  But he can fix anything that happens to break, in the house, on the house, one his cars, or in the stores he works in, including computers.  Maybe some more of his skills will leach into me in my stay here.

Back to the 100 mpg car, it's going to take a bit to get to it.  Like discussed yesterday How will rate those miles to the gallon if half the time it is using batteries?

My Opinion is Point A to last gallon of gas in tank.  Total miles driven divided by total gallons of gas on board.  Simple.  If you use the car any than that test expect different results.  A lot of uses for a high mileage car will be long distances, if the range is good enough.  Put a 10 gallon tank on them and get 300 to 1,000 miles out of them and you will get plenty of rural buyers and sell lots of them.

My Opinion is Point A to last gallon of gas in tank.

That's a good test.  Maybe put it on a window sticker with a "city" number based on ... 50 miles a day?  I guess that gets hard, but 50 might be a good WAG.

Point A to the last gallon of gas

Sure all you have to do is scale up the battery and down size the gas tank and you can claim whatever gas mileage you want.

Claiming a plug-in hybrid gets "200 mile per gallon" when 3/4 of that came for the batteries sounds like BS to me.

Curses, foiled again.
Are we talking only an IC engine getting 100 mpg?  Or are we talking any kind of Gasoline/Diesel and Electric Hybrid getting 100 mpg?

I guess everyone can come up with their own car that won't meet the 100 mpg standard.

I want a car that I can get in, drive anywhere I want to knowing that I will get at least 100 miles per gallon of the gasoline that I put in it.  If I drive for 400 miles on battery then 600 on gasoline, but only have a 10 gallon tank full.  Then great for me.  

But I can see that this won't solve the issue.  I like to drive till I have to fill up.  That is just me.  My last full tank of gas was gotten about 45 days ago. I have about 3 to 5 gallons left.  I don't drive a lot.



The 100 mpg car is already here, the acceptance of them has some way to go.

Actually, this one scores 100 mpg as well:


I'd buy it if they (California) let me.

I do appreciate these cars for aesthetic and utilitarian reasons.

As I've said before (too many times!!!) I ride pedicabs and cargo trikes.

Believe me, I've come to a new appreciation for the wonderful power supplied by gasoline.

There's nothing like pedaling a load of 200 pounds of tools plus six 60-pound bags of concrete mix a couple of miles to a job -- including up a steep hill or two -- to make one aware of the amount of work that gasoline does for us.

We will get the most mileage out of simple solutions!

Walk, bike, meter that gas out very carefully, and use fossil fuels more at need and less at whim.  This will really help.

We will need to redesign our human settlement patterns and our lifestyles to do so, but we can make considerable changes without spending too much and save the expenditures for the sustainable infrastructure choices that will cost more but deliver lasting multifaceted benefits.

I dream of surviving and thriving while I pedal.  Sometimes I dream of a powerful elctric assist on my cargo trike.  Occassionally I think that by the time I reach 60, I'll stop pedaling heavier loads or will find a good little energy-miser hauling machine.  Already there are some out there -- from GEMCar to ???

Any favorite hauling machines out there amoung TODers?

I liked your other post about that:

Imagine areas where 20 or 30% of trips are by foot and biking, 40 to 60% are by transit (plenty of electric rail, accomodating carry-on bikes) and only the small remainder of trips are by auto (maybe 10 to 30%).

Right now I'm putting gas in the Prius about once a month, and walking/biking the rest.  It would just be more fun to be tanking up a Lotus desgin once a month ;-)

If you do get that electric assist, it won't take much.

My retrofitted UPS storage battery weighs 65 lbs and stores about 1.2 kWh.  If you can use half of that, that's 600 Wh.  600 Wh applied to the wheels at 70% efficiency is 420 Wh, or enough to lift your 560 pounds of cargo, plus 100 pounds of bike, plus 200 pounds of you a distance of almost 1300 feet.

Wow!  1300 feet is good.....really good!

Electric assist is a fine thing -- and I do hope to get to use it someday.

Thanks for the info about the UPS (?) battery. UPS as in United Parcel Service.....?  I'm not up on battery terminology at all.

Well, off to clebrate liberation of the oppressed from evil empires, watching the traditional fireworks.

(In this context, UPS is "Uninterruptible Power Supply".)
UPS = Uninterupted Power Supply for computera (for sale at many office supply shops).
Thanks Alan and EP.  Now UPS makes more sense to me.  I've plenty to learn about electric assist and such.
The Chinese are about to introduce $10,000 cars into the American market - potentially doing what they did to the market for DVD players.    I am wondering how much of the high-mileage technology will be included at the very low price-end - and whether this would necessarily be a good thing?  Outside the US, huge numbers of people would eagerly adopt car culture and everything that goes with it if they could afford it, and cheap high-mileage cars would seem to make this possible for billions of new drivers.
If we're at peak oil ... that pretty much says what will happen with consumption.  Maybe more cars, but not more gallons.
Cars do a lot of harm simply by their numbers, their re-allotment of space.  (Helicopters get terrible mileage and distort space horribly, but have had no global significance because, despite George Jetson, they are so expensive.)  I'm worried about things like China making a car so cheap it will catch on in places like Brazil.  
The talk about Bruno the Bear a few days ago reminded me of this poem by Hafiz:

Two Bears

After a hard day's forage
Two bears sat together in silence
On a beautiful vista
Watching the sun go down
And feeling deeply grateful
For life.

Though, after a while
A thought-provoking conversation began
Which turned to the topic of

The one bear said,
"Did you hear about Rustam?
He has become famous
And travels from city to city
In a golden cage;

He performs to hundreds of people
Who laugh and applaud
His carnival

The other bear thought for
A few seconds

Then started

("The Gift" -- versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

[Sailorman, I recommend this book for your summer reading, between sailing lessons :) ]


A few months ago, I compared the US Marine Corp with the 2nd Division of the Waffen SS.

Much to the intense disgust of many readers of this site.

I was wrong.

Comparing the USMC with the 2nd Waffen SS, dishonours the Waffen SS.

Clearly they most closely resemble the psycho-sexual murderers of the Dirlwanger Battallion in Poland 1944.

''Bush's Army: a Few Good Degenerates
Rape, Lies and Murder

Americans who get their propaganda from Fox "News" or are told what to think by right-wing talk radio hosts are outraged at news reports that U.S. troops planned and carried out the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman. They are not outraged that the troops committed the deed; they are outraged that the media reported it. These "conservatives," who proudly wear their patriotism on their sleeves, dismiss the reports of the incident as a Big Lie floated by "the anti-American liberal media" in order to demoralize Americans and reduce public support for the war.

Playing to this audience, Col. Jeffrey Snow, a U.S. brigade commander in Baghdad, told AFP News that news coverage could cause the U.S. to lose the war. In other words, what we are doing in Iraq cannot stand the light of day, so reporters must not report or the word will get out.

Many Bush supporters believe that truth is not on our side and must be suppressed. Yet, they support a war that is too shameful to report.

I have made it clear in my columns that Bush supporters are not true conservatives. They are brownshirts with the same low intelligence and morals as Hitler's enthusiastic supporters. And they are just as resistant to facts.

It was not the "liberal media" but the investigating U.S. military officials who told the Associated Press that the rape and murder of the young woman and her family appeared "totally premeditated," that the soldiers noticed the woman on their patrols and studied her and her family for a week before separating the woman from her family and raping her. After having their way with her, the soldiers murdered her and tried to burn her body with a flammable liquid in order to cover up their foul deed. The soldiers' cover-up attempt also involved the murder of other members of the murdered rape victim's family, including a child.

Many Americans are so unsophisticated that they refuse to believe anything bad about their country. They regard acceptance of unpalatable truths as disloyalty. This failure of American character is why Bush has been able to get away with transgressions that scream out for his impeachment and trial as a war criminal''.

Dont bother replying. There is no reply.

Have a happy fourth of July.


Let's see now if I have this straight. If a miniscule small number of any given group like Italians, Russians, Africans, Asians, highschool teachers, etc... commits a crime like murder then you consider all members of that group to be murders.
Almost no-one reading that post is going to accept that illogical male cow manure. You do yourself a dis-service with such posts, but then you don't put your real name on them, do you?
The US Military is a small cross section of society and the vast majority of society and the US Military are honest hard working law abiding citizens.
I respect your right to voice your opinion, and I hope you will respect my right to voice my diametrically opposed opinion.
Dont bother replying. There is no reply.
Why are you and Mr. Roberts giving zero credit to the investigating military officials? Saying this kind of behaviour is a Marine thing is about as logical as saying it is an American thing.
You have no reply
There is a reply sorry.

Not all the guys and gals serving in the Armed Forces approve of this behavior. As well Not all the folks who voted for Bush approve of this behavior.  Anyone committing a crime in and out of the military or in or out of War-time should be held for trial.

Though some of the post is not your opinion and is that of another Author, You did post it.

Though you do point out your opinion that the US Marines can be compared to a WWII German force.  I will have to disagree with you.  Yes Crimes have been committed, Yes they are wrong, and Yes they should be sent to Levanworth for a very long time of hard labor.  

BAD people are everywhere, even though we would like them not to be in our police, fire, hospitals, schools, military, or nieghborhoods.  We have laws that say if you are caught for this behavior you will be punished for these actions.

Have a happy 4th of July as well.

You have no reply
I'm not too thrilled about the allegations, but this, "You have no reply," business is troll behavior, not intelligent discussion.
You are all missing the point.

As previously described in my comparison with 2.Div WSS, I made the point that the USMC were capable of atrocities.

Now there is evidence of a premeditated rape-mass-murder.

I am no great fan of hearing such stories.

Prior communiques (above) compared the situation with other nations. (eg Russia etc.). We all know that others behaved like animals. That is not the point.

The point is that the USA should not ever be associated with atrocities. The USA had a special position in world society, going back to the liberation of western europe in 1944-1945

It does not matter if 1,10,100, or 1000 were involved
. What matters is that One member of the US Army was involved. And now, the US Army will forever be associated with this stain on its honour.

I have said this before and I will say it again:

The US Army is better than this.

I see your point (I think) and both agree and disagree with it.

That US armed forces are above such acts is plain daft. Invading armies typically display such behavior, sadly. I agree that attempts to whitewash US armed forces, taken to the extent it has been, is absurd.

Where I disagree: invading and occupying armies might do such acts with consent or even encouragement of their command. That is certainly plausible for the Waffen SS, I think the evidence is equivocal, at worst, for US forces in Iraq.

Where I have a problem is, and this is in agreement with you, I think, the portrait that US forces are abnormally 'good' in their behavior relative to others in similar situations.

I think we must wait and see how such criminal acts by US forces are treated.

I promised myself a short while ago that I wouldn't get involved in this type of non-oil discussion, but I just can't help myself.

I will go so far as to say that almost any human being is capable (including myself) of unspeakable atrocities under the right cicumstances.

The problem I have, though, is that if such is committed under a wartime setting, there is a tendency (at least on the part of fellow countrymen) to forgive it as being the result of combat stress, or whatever. But switch that exact same atrocity (rape, multiple murder, and body desecration) to a civilian setting, and there is little forgiveness, the rationale being that the law is the law and we all must obey it. Thus, I see a double standard here.

Closing on a cheery note, let us keep in mind that the current US civilian police force is heavily represented by ex-military people. So, just think: that stressed-out sociopathic Iraq-war veteran who was given a medical discharge just might become a cop in your very own neighborhood.

If you've ever read the book or seen the movie, 'Clockwork Orange', just remember the ease with which Alex's fellow droogies later became police officers. Thugs wearing badges are still thugs.  

     This subject of how the Iraq war is being fought is somewhat off the point, but nobody raises the most important issue.  Under international law and the Nuremberg principles (both of which are part of United States law), our invasion of Iraq is unjustified aggression, and everyone who started it and is engaging in it is committing a crime.  Legally, American soldiers in Iraq have no more right of self-defense against the Iraqis than a bank robber has a right to defend himself against a bank employee trying to stop him.  But of course the rule of law has been replaced by the principle that Might Makes Right, especially when it's our own country.  Is this just an example of the breakdown of law and order which is coming when peak oil and resource depletion really hit our society?
i am afraid so.
No, it is an example of this:

Add Max Hastings' 'Bomber Command' to Sailorman's List. I recommend discussion of moral argument starting around page 140 to kick things off. Of course, you have to read previous 139 pages to have a clue - but I didn't say it was going to be easy. For the record, this is my second time through, highlighting and underlining this time. Hastings is superb.

"The US Army is better than this."

Well, no, it seems it isn't as the news stories tell us.

As a former Infantry officer in the Canadian Armed Forces these tales, nasty as they are, did not surprise me at all.
and no, its not an "American" thing. The metal health impacts of the situation on the troops cross national lines and are not particular to the U.S. culture, civillian or millitary IMO.

Atrocities of this kind are completly predictable under the conditions extant in Iraq, or most other theaters where you have a prolonged occupation involving an enemy force melding in with the civillian population, at least based on all the military history I have read.

"the US Army will forever be associated with this stain on its honour"

Well, yes, armies do horrible things to the people that they encounter. This is the lesson of history confirmed by the daily news This dishonour can be added to the U.S's list. ALL armies that have seen combat (Including Canada's) have one...

So, given that this is generally known, are the "American People" in some degree responsible? I would say yes  

Think we are all clear about meanings and contexts on this question? Switch off "Safe Search" and try typing "Rape" into Google image search, I'll wait...

Please check into a hospital and get the help you need.
Like maybe a psych hospital in the former Soviet Union?
You obviously have no practical way of defending your position. Very similar to North Korean and Iranian strategy. Subsequent comments following your original post verify this. Clever. Yet ultimately, you cannot defend your position. Mess with the best, die like the rest.
Mudlogger doesn't have to defend his position because it never got attacked.
Posters stated contrary views
No agreement on facts, no agreement on basic premises.
Argument is not possible from that beginning.
Posters aired what they wanted to air.
A lotb of outraged people responding to my barb are in fact right.

I spent the last day gardening and calmed it down a bit.


Look at this incident from the point of view of the 'average Iraqi man in the street':

  • the perpertrators were in US uniforms and war-gear.
  • whatever is now said, whatever action is taken against the perps, they looked as if they had the moral authority of the USA behind them. The fact that they abused this authourity against the people of Iraq, will cut no ice with the populace of Iraq.
  • All the Iraqis see is more US-uniformed personnel behaving outrageously. After Haditha, Abu Gharieb and Falluja, this act merely re-inforces a particular picture of the (once reknowned) US Army.

Looking back to another time:

Now what was it that the mother of Lt Calley said?
This may not be quite right, but the message is the same:

''I gave the army a beautifully well brought up boy and the army turned him into a monster''.

How would YOU react in Texas, Colarado or wherever you are if an Iraqi army of occupation raped and murdered one of your women and then killed the witnesses?

Remember: even though they were comopletely rogue, they were still in the unifiorm.

Iraq and PO:

Now some People here have said what has this to do with the study of Peak Oil?

It has everything to do with PO. The USA'S action in Iraq is IMO a physical manifestation of the USA's intended response to PO. At some point, probably in the 80's or 90's, Uncle SAM must have looked at the options:

  • Depletion Protocols and power down (as later articulated by Heinberg) - SHARING
  • Manhattan II (as later articulated by Simmons) - TECHNOLOGY
  • Lets get it (the Carter Doctrine, enforced by Perp. Cheney, Perp. Rumsfeld, Perp. Bush)- WAR OF AGGRESSION OVER RESOURCES.

Looks like your government picked the latter option

What then does this 'Dirlwanger Incident'and the minds of the perpertrators describe?

  • The perpertrators believed they could get away with it
  • They looked upon the victims as untermensch: this is an absolute pre-requisite for the perpetration of a war crime.
  • If they were caught, they believed that the army would bury it (''who cares, untermensch are untermensch'').

What does this mean for the US army of occupation and the USA in general?

  • More dead and crippled American boys and girls
  • Less chance of some kind of civilised Government in Iraq.
  • More treasure wasted
  • Less global credibility or moral authority
  • More nations desiring to un-hook from the dollar.
  • Fewer Allies
  • More enemies.

What does it mean for Britain? (your ally, or ''bitch''- Robert Newman).

''Gangen mit, haben mit, hangen mit'' just about sums it up.

The Iraqi occupation is a war that the USA cannot now win.


The moral decay of your army is setting in.

These terms are associated with failing armies of occupation throughout history.

Add to this:
Sub standard recruitment levels

Now compare the Iraqi occupation with that of West Germany and the Marshall Plan.

A reputation can take a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.

But the really, really terrible thing is that over the next 4 decades, the World could have done with some guidance, technology, and decent, policing army.

Thats the real shame.

I wonder what history will make of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.


Hard to argue with this one. You should watch the movie "Gunner Palace" (if you haven't seen it). I think a major problem is that the troops are really not designed for this occupation/policing role. It is interesting that it is still referred to as a "war" when the standard definition would include having an opposing army to fight. IMO, the nature of the conflict places abnormal stress on the occupying troops.    
I don't think Peak Oil really matters.

Provocative statement but true and here is the reason.

1.) Most refinery capacity is geared toward working with light sweet crudes.
2.) It takes many years to convert or upgrade to work with the heavier crudes.
3.) Because the heavy crudes differ widely the refineries become tied to a single source field light sweet was the true fungible resource.

4.) Oil producers are making power plays now even though they are now selling less then useful heavy oil.

So the hypothesis is the loss or peak of light sweet crudes is enough to send us into post peak oil conditions. The slow conversion of refinery capacity to handle uncertain supplies of heavier crudes is overshadowed by the loss of light production.  The situation can be likened to a thirsty person adrift on the sea water water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

So what we need to look at is the actual available refinery capacities for various grades of oil vs availability. I think the growing mismatch here is what will send us into early peak conditions.

Now we do use a lot of heavy so this is not a unused resource so it is depleting and certainly there is not enough heavy oils coming online to replace light sweet.
So I think we can actually discount a lot of potential heavy oil production since coupled with refinery bottle necks it won't stave  off the effects of peak oil.

So a few questions.
How long to add heavy sour crude support to a refinery ?
What are we doing to convert ?
Is there a price point that makes switching economic ?

Are there real shortages of light sweet yet ?

Does plotting depletion of light sweet overall depletion and the time to switch refineries over lead to what I think will happen which is overall depletion will beat refinery conversion with us seeing a buildup of unused heavy oil capacity in the interm but still far from enough to replace falling light sweet stocks even post conversion.

Note this seems to be exactly whats happening today.

Stuart of course predicted this



Shit, that story is a blast from the past!  :-)

'Guest' contributor Stuart uses only 1 graph and there is a total of only 18 comments!

How times change! (Mostly for the good IMO)

Question - Is there any way of knowing whether the oil that might be discovered in ANWR or off the California Coast is light/sweet or heavy?

These are what are termed "undiscovered resources".

If resources are "undiscovered," then please explain the logic of calling them "resources" at all.

As an old logic teacher, I'm puzzled.

It's "statistical oil" ;-)
And how many gallons are there in a statistical barrel?

About 4?

Well, you could make an educated guess. The Orinoco bitumen and the Alabaster tar sands are heavy and sour because most of the lights have either been attacked and eaten by bacteria or evaporated. This reduced the amount of oil but not the amount of sulfur. Therefore the stuff became heavy and sour at the same time. In other words it became heavy sour gunk but started out as light sweet crude, much deeper and many millions of years ago. This is also how the La Brea Tar Pits became tar. It did not start out as tar, but there was no cap rock to trap the oil so it migrated all the way to the surface and consequently became heavy sulfuric tar.

I don't really know if this same principle can be applied to deeper reservoirs or not but I believe it could. The south end of Ghawar is much shallower than the north protion. And it is much heavier and sourer than the much more prolific northern half of the reservoir.

So is ANWR at about the same depth as Prudhoe Bay. If so, it is likely to be have about the same specific gravity and sulfur content. At least that is my theory but I could be corrected by an Oil Geologist, which I am not.

Aty one point, I spent a bit of time looking at the EIA website for information on how much testing had been done at ANWR and what we really know about it. The only refernce that I could find was to statistical comparisions that said fields with similar external; chjaractoristics has produced a certain amount of oil, so ANWR could be expected to as well.

I have also noticed that republican politicians and think tanks seem obsessed about ANWR, but oil companies completely ignore it.

Does anyone have any evidence of what is really in ANWR?

This report:


Says: "The current analysis uses the USGS assessment of potential field sizes in the coastal plain area, based on its assessment of the underlying geology."


"Potential production from ANWR fields is based on the size of the field discovered and the production profiles of other fields of the same size in Alaska with similar geological characteristics."

I don't think we have results from any test bores or drilling of any sort, but I may be wrong.

Thanks, Jack. A least this information is 'from the horse's mouth' so to speak. The local newpaper editor regularly rants about how the 'environmentalists' are keeping us from being energy self-sufficient by preventing drilling in ANWR. Looks like the environmentalist argument that it will reduce our inports by less than 5% and have essentially no impact on world oil prices (<$.50) may have been taken from this report. Of course this report projects the cost of a barrel of oil to be $27 (2002 dollars) in 2027 also....... Maybe with hyper dollar inflation?
This report draws most of its conclusions based on Prudhoe Bay as to quality and quantity of oil to be expected since ANWR has not been drilled. Environmentalists also draw their projections of what is likely to happen in ANWR from Prudhoe Bay. So I am off to try to find what I can about the quality of oil extracted from Prudhoe Bay.
Yes, but it seem that the comparison of ANWR to Prudhoe Bay is pretty speculative. It may be the best one-on-one comparison, but there are a lot of areas around Prudhoe Bay that have no oil at all. Proximity is not correlation.
Hey Jack and Darwinian,

This is an excellent topic. Worthy of Stuart/Dave/HO analysis, I think. I know a bit about it, but have been thinking about Alberta. Perhaps I will divert my attention. Jack, tell us what you know. And when it's all over, can I have all your stuff?

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that it is a good topic and needs adult attention - Stuart/Dave/HO.

I remember learning in an oil class that there was only one test bore sunk at ANWR and that no one had access to the data. I tried to confirm that, but couldn't find anything. In fact, I couldn't find much about what we really know about ANWR at all, which got me thinking.


One person who I know personally and has been involved in "Oil Company" operations in the area has claimed that it is nothing but tar sands or something similar. The conduit (aka "little bird") which brought me this information is highly suspect, but I am working on it.
I don't think Peak Oil really matters.

Well, I disagree. I think Peak Oil matters greatly. The peak in light sweet crude occurred some time ago, possibly as early as 2000. The peak of all oil occurred this past December, or almost certainly within 12 months of that date.

As for refinery conversion to heavy sour crude, many of the world's refineries have been in the process of doing that and have been for some time. It is just that the US is way behind the rest of the world in this conversion process, though Valero and Citgo are not. Most of Valero's refineries are geared to heavy sour crude and so are Citgo's because they are geared to process Venezuelan heavy sour. Valero is making a mint refining heavy sour crude:

Depending on the precise chemical composition, lower quality oil is selling at discounts ranging from $7 to $17 per barrel, when compared with light, sweet crude. A year ago, heavy, sour crudes, whether from Mexico, Venezuela or Canada, were discounted by about half that much.

Valero has refineries in the US as well as in the Virgin Islands. All over Canada they are converting their refineries to process heavy sour crude:

In 2003, Shell Canada completed the conversion of their Scotford refinery to use bitumen feedstock. In the fall of 2003, Consumer's Co-operative Refineries Ltd completed a 35,000 bbls/day expansion of their refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan. This increased their heavy oil refining capacity to approximately 85,000 bbls/day. Petro-Canada has also announced plans to do a major refitting of their Edmonton refinery. Although this construction is not expected to increase their capacity, it will allow them to upgrade and refine oil sands feedstock. The $1.2 billion CDN project will significantly expand the existing coker at Edmonton allowing for approximately 53,000 bbls/day of bitumen upgrading. Similarly, Suncor is expected to do a feedstock conversion at its Sarnia refinery to run more lower value oil sands feedstock.

To my knowledge the US is not building any new refineries right now. But refineries are being built in many other places in the world. And virtually all these refineries are being built to handle heavy sour crude. In the near future you will see a crash program to convert more of the US's refineries to handle heavy sour crude. This will cause a disruption but will not be near the catastrophe that peak oil will mean.

There is a proposed refinery in Yuma, Arizona.  They looked to Pemex, but they refused to commit to a long-term supply of crude.  Now they are looking to tar sands, via the pipeline to the Pacific.

It might get off the ground, perhaps not.

I expect oil exporters to expand refining capacity in the face of declining oil supply.  One way of adding value and investing their income domestically. This will mean, IMHO, a squeeze on importing refineries.

Remember, Peak Oil = Peak Refining

Why else would the Exxon CEO testify before Congress that Exxon would never build another refinery ?

It's by no means clear that you can make a sharp distinction between light sweet ("peaked") and heavy sour ("not peaked"). Among major provinces, US ex-Alaska and North Sea, both declining, produce overwhelmingly light sweet oil, but so do Africa and Asia, both still increasing, and the combined totals are comparable. I think the idea that light sweet alone has peaked is more an excuse than anything else.
Back to latest ASPO: They say the latest BP statistical report understates UK reserves [?]
 Alan from Big Easy: Could you comment on the proposed
maglev train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? Seems like a monstrous waste of resouces to me.
Me Too !

Large # of problems with idea.

Spend the $ building the Red Line down Wilshire to UCLA and then to "the Sea"; Santa Monica,

THAT would save some gas and make life better.

Signs of Change (New Zealand Herald)

"Motorbike sales are rocketing as New Zealanders turn their backs on cars to combat the soaring cost of fuel. Motorbike registrations rose for the 27th consecutive month in June, when 758 machines were sold. That figure is up by a third on sales at the same time last year. And it is a 45 per cent increase in motorbike sales since January, compared with the first half of last year, Land Transport New Zealand figures show.

June car registrations are down 19.2 per cent on the same time last year.

Climbing fuel prices have been blamed on the rising cost of oil internationally. In June 2004, petrol cost about $1.20 a litre. A year later it was about $1.30 a litre. Yesterday the price was $1.70 a litre."

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=1&ObjectID=10389816

Sigh. Typical cherrypicking data graphics. Would it have killed them to show, say, ten years of monthly data for each series with zero-based axes? And maybe put the car and motorcycle data on the same axes so we can see that motorcycles are still a small fraction of total registrations? And - uh oh - why NEW motorbike sales and USED car registrations? More cherrypicking? They aren't showing us the real data, so there's no way to know.

I'm sure the data are strongly seasonal, but they could have marked each June with a dot or something to help the eye along. These data-thin graphs with thrusting trendlines are an insult to the reader's intelligence.

Oh, and the gasoline price should be inflation-adjusted, and the vehicle sales should be per thousand population. But you knew that, didn't you?

(In case you haven't guessed, I'm a big fan of the work of Edward Tufte)

Note that motorcycles are potentially immortal, while there are few thirty-year old autos on the road. On my 1969 Kawasaki Sidewinder (single cylinder, two stroke, high exhaust pipe) I am king of the road and can go offroad much more proficiently than any SUV.

I have not yet decided which of my children to will it to.

there are few thirty-year old autos on the road

Mercedes diesels.  More die from accidents than wearing out.

Yeah, but after fifty years or so it is hard to get parts for Mercedes-Benz cars--possible, but expensive. On the other hand, with motorcycles you can usually and easily mill down a slightly larger car and run indefinitely on non-stock parts. To do this on a car is way, way more expensive.
While the Herald may be cherry-picking (this IS the MSM with the largest sheeple readership in NZ), there are a couple of points to note:

"why NEW motorbike sales and USED car registrations?"

Hardly anyone here in NZ buys brand new (never before owned) cars.  The majority of 'new' car sales here in NZ are used japanese imports.  I have never bought a brand new car, and I don't know anyone who has, either.  However, I have (along with lots of other people I know) been the first NZ owner of an imported vehicle.  Thus, new used car registrations (which I assume the above graph shows) directly equates to 'new' car sales.

"the vehicle sales should be per thousand population"

Please explain why this is.  The Herald is not comparing NZ sales with any other country, so why should per capita figures be used?

I'm going to have to put on my stats curmudgeon hat (sigh), but here goes.

> The Herald is not comparing NZ sales with any other country

No, but it is comparing different years in which NZ's population changes - by 1% a year according to the CIA. OK, that may seem small (he says, backpedalling rapidly :) but why not make the slight additional effort to get it right?

If population increases by X% and all other things stay the same, you would expect car sales to increase by X%. Showing car sales per caput as opposed to raw sales volume takes out that effect and gives a more accurate picture of the underlying demand for cars - how strongly an INDIVIDUAL wants to buy a car. Of course other things DON'T stay the same, but population is an obvious non-oil-price-sensitive driver of car sales volume and is easy to estimate from official statistics, so it is useful to take the effort to correct for it.

The reason for wanting a longer time series is simply to allow the reader to compare those year on year changes with the typical level of inter-year fluctuation. And when the comparison period gets longer, even a 1% annual population growth begins to add (compound!) up.

Thanks for the explanation of why USED cars, BTW.

I'm going to add Tufte's books to that recommended reading list that Don Sailorman has going on another thread


Very nice. I agree. Or at least you convinced me.
OK, thanks for the per capita explanation.  I'd never really thought about it that way.  However, I have to say that I hardly ever see these kind of graphs done on a per capita basis.

I guess we here at TOD should be using the per capita method for graphing oil production. But then Richard Duncan has already done that and the Peak was in 1979.

> I guess we here at TOD should be using the per capita method for graphing oil production

This is going to sound like more backpedalling, but I respectfully disagree. I don't think per caput oil PRODUCTION is very interesting if you're charting approach to planetary peak oil - the relevant statistic would be per-PLANET oil production, and N(planets)=1 in most models :) Anyway, the upstream isn't very labor-intensive. The skilled manpower shortages that the big oil cos. are whingeing about aren't really affecting the global picture. Exxon, BP et al are pretty good at allocating resources, so the manpower will tend to flow to the big, easy fields first.

I don't expect oil production to be population-driven in most countries (as opposed to, say, food production in a subsistence-agricultural economy). To put it another way; if a country has a mature oil industry (and that's the only kind of oil industry that exists any more), then doubling its population would not be expected to double its oil production.

But doubling the population would certainly double its CONSUMPTION, by increased imports if necessary. (This only works if the country doesn't have 25% of the world's population, or consume 25% of the world's oil - basically I'm assuming that things don't go nonlinear on a system-wide scale.) Per caput oil consumption is interesting because it takes out the population effect, and as a way of embarrassing the USA (but not on their birthday). Plus it's consumption that's driving the current price spike IMHO. Anyway, aggregated consumption = aggregated production near as dammit, planetwide.

That Duncan link gives one furiously to think, though, does it not? If per-caput peak was in 1979, who has been getting leaner since then? (answer: probably the USA!).

I'm going to shut up now before I make an even bigger fool of myself. Any of our in-house statistical heavyweights want to wade in here? Stu, Robert?

Not quite true, there are a lot of new cars sold in the NZ market, but they have a hard time competing with the dirt cheap 3 year old Japanese imports which so clog up the roads.

It is also likely cherry-picking to make the graphs look more dramatic - people who buy new cars are probably not going to be affected by higher fuel prices, whereas used car buyers may be more likely to consider a motorcycle.

I suspect there are also a large number of people buying scooters to commute as well... I wonder what bicycle sales look like.

The Statistics NZ 1998 Business Activity Report has a section on The Motor Vehicle Industry.

At that time (sorry, no newer data), some 70% of new car sales were previously registered overseas (Japanese Imports), so my use of the word "majority" still holds.

However, it is also interesting to note that the report states that "80 percent of new car sales were to 'fleets'".  This again backs up my assertion that most people do not buy brand new cars.  It is essentially companies that do this.  Which I can testify to because all of the used cars that I have bought that were 'NZ new' originally (as opposed to Japanese imports) had all been initially purchased by Govt departments or private companies.

Essentially (in 1998 at least), only 6% of new car sales were brand new cars sold to private individuals.

My gut feeling is that the stats have swung even more in favour of japanese imports in the last few years as we have enjoyed the strong NZ dollar.

Of those approximately 1 in 20 people buying brand new vehicles, I would say that it is a fallacy to generalise that these people do not care about fuel efficiency. Indeed, the local Toyota dealer here in Hawkes Bay is heavily advertising the Lexus Hybrid on the local radio.  Why would they be doing that if new car buyers do not care about fuel efficiency?

As for scooters, I totally agree.  I am trying to source a scooter right now and they are like hen's teeth. I doubt I will have any bargaining power when it comes to haggling.

Bugger!  I am just looking for a bike now.  This isn't gonna help me get a good price!
A friend is visiting, and he needs information on solar pv systems to recharge batteries for a bicycle taxi.  Post the answers here, I'll get him to sign up on this site soon.
The best site I've seen for EV hackers:


New Orleans puts the Verb in Party

Went to the "Go 4th on the River" celebtration at Spanish Plaza.  Open back stage was 10' (3 m) from the edge of the mighty Mississippi.  River traffic in full view and down river traffic not much past 100' behind the performers.  Odd to see a contaienr ship gliding behind musicians.

First band was impressive ! 5'2" or 3" red-headed young lady, 16 y/o that played a VERY mean fiddle with her zydeco band and she sang in French and English :-)  She really got into it.  Much improved from when I saw her at 14, and then she was very good.

There was a light rain, but we had 50 to 100 people dancing to the zydeco music (depending on how hard it was raining).  Most impressive was a 70+ gentleman who partnered with two young women (one late 20s, other early 30s I guess).  I thought of Don :-)  Later one partner told me that she was almost worn out but he kept going.

A brillant young musician giving her all on stage, crowds of people dancing in the rain up front and everybody happy & smiling whilst the river traffic glides by.  A wonderful moment !


The band after her got their amp wet in unloading and could not perform.  So some one turned on a boom box and most people stayed and visited in what had become a light drizzle for over an hour and a half.  The woman to my right once lived in Lakeview, got 12' of water and lost her husband 4 months after the storm.  They got the maximum flood insurance benefit of $250,000 (all you can buy) and a $600,000 mortgage; leaving them $350,000 in debt with a ruined home.  The stress got to him.  (I wondered suicide).

She now lives in the spare room of a friend and we talked about job opportunities available now.

We just accept this here now, so we kept talking and chatting with everyone around us.  Yhese things are said openly but without much emotion.  I also chatted with several other former strangers around me in taht hour and a half.

The next band came up and had a good set (think pop rock band with 3 guitars, drums and 5 brass players).  Less dancing but still quite fun.

Fireworks were supposed to be minimal, but Shell Oil stepped in and we had an excellent 2 barge "shoot out".

Walked the recent widow to her car, offered to buy her a drink but she said she had to get back home and feed her dog.

Maybe 250 mpg car is a bit difficult, but 250 mpg bike:

and 250 mpg scooter