DrumBeat: August 1, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/01/06 at 9:32 AM EDT]

Tropical Storm Chris heads toward the Gulf:

Scorching temperatures send natural gas futures to three-month high

Drivers try another gas to save gasoline. People are filling their tires with nitrogen to improve gas mileage. I guess buying a smaller car is out of the question...

From Military.com: Withdraw or Stand Firm?

So how do we get of Iraq with our dignity and not have a costly energy crisis?

In the short term, we can't. In the long term, America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. Technologies are already proven for making coal into synthetic gas and liquid fuel, and when crude oil runs low enough that it becomes unduly expensive, we'll put this technology in the field and become a net exporter of fuel to the world. That's two decades in the future, however.

In the meantime, we'd better get to work drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska and ramping up production, with apologies to the environmentalists.

Or we can continue to get shot at in the streets of Baghdad.

Bangladesh: Power outages protested

People formed a two-kilometre human chain in Gaibandha protesting frequent power outages.

U.K.: Single households 'waste energy'

Efforts to get households to reduce energy use are being hampered by the appliance and gadget-packed homes of single men, research suggests.
The suggested solution? An "occupancy tax" to discourage people from living alone.
I disagree that we can, or should,  ramp up production of US fossil fuels enough to make a difference, but this is a very interesting opinion piece by a retired naval officer at www.military.com.

Withdraw or Stand Firm?
Michael DiMercurio | August 01, 2006

"So how do we get of Iraq with our dignity and not have a costly energy crisis?"

Great minds think alike.  Leanan and I simultaneously posted the military.com story.
Death (to others) before conservation is apparently the credo we're going by these days. The invasion has turned out to be a fiasco and, more to he point, it pissed away resources that could have gone elsewhere. What a waste.
hey, someone's gotta die.  Might as well not be us.

(tongue firmly in cheek...)

Prof. Goose, your tongue may be stuck in your cheek - and I realise this is not a problem of your making - but if the US and Canada start to use their food surplusses that have enabled the world population to expand - to instead make bio-fuel to maintain a life style instead of life - is it not the case that starvation will be brought forward in whatever countries currently benefit from US food supplies?  I gather China is fairly high up that list.  Bio-alchol or food?
someone's gotta die.

EXACTLY RIGHT. In a population in overshoot, many individual organisms  must die. And humans on Earth are most certainly in overshoot. How do we decide who dies? Obviously, there's no easy answer if you want to be "humane." But there is one easy answer: NOT ME!

(and I'm dead serious, no tongue in cheek here. they can and will die, I'll hang on as long as I can.)

The "time of plenty" for the US and its partners in crime is coming to an end...

"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored."
~ Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page131-132.


Richard Dawkins has always seemed such a reasonable fellow, I knew he must have said something reasonable sometime. well found AC :-)
It is impossible to avoid the feeling that Malthus is 100% certain to win the game eventually. It is like playing against a crooked house.
Well yes, but taking a broader view the second law will be the ultimate winner.

Being aware of peak oil has really made me face up to my own mortality, indeed to the mortality of everything around us. It makes it hard for me to keep ignoring the deeper questions about existence and its meaning.

"This too, shall pass".

The "time of plenty" for the US and its partners in crime is coming to an end...

Yet another meaningless emotional response!

"partners in crime" : this is the evolutionary selected cheater detection mechanism at work.
Assuming an entirely egalitarian worldwide society (same income for EVERYONE) the problems of Peak Oil would be JUST AS BAD!

Cut the bullshit!

It is the GROWTH and total population which matters.

I do wonder whether China in the near future will declare a vital interest in American agricultural output. That should make for interesting times.
In the meantime, we'd better get to work drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska and ramping up production, with apologies to the environmentalists.

Don't apologize to me, apologize to your children. The war against nature is in reality a war of humans against humans: today's generation against all future generations. Our generation is winning big, but only by destroying humanity's life-support systems--clean water, clean air, and food production.

In the big scheme, the Iraq war is insignificant. The question is: "WHERE ARE THE REAL BATTLES?" The actual frontlines are right here in America, all around you: suburban sprawl, petrochemical factories, nuclear + coal power plants, industrial agriculture, and most importantly, the logging/drilling/mining of the few remaining intact ecosystems. Our victory is nearly complete. Soon it will be total, and all future humans can "thrive" in this toxic wasteland we have created for their enjoyment.

Crazypat, this is the point I have been making for years. We are competing for territory, food and resources with every other species on earth, and we are winning! We are killing off them boogers like there is no tomorrow. There are fewer other great apes on earth, about 200,000, than the human population numbers grow in a single day. Soon there will be none. Soon there will be no forest because we will have cut it all down to grow biofuels.

Soon our victory will be complete. We will have killed off every other species on earth except the rats and vermin that co-exist with us humans. Soon we will have a brown cursted earth all to ourselves. Then we can celebrate.

I guess....


yep, not much to celebrate, is there?

I was brushing up on my evolution last night. It's fascinating how the in the last stages of human evolution, the successor species exterminated its still-living ancestor species.

Also, I love how we are the most successful predator of all time. WE CAN EAT ROCKS!!! Literally! And like all extremely successful species, we will be destroyed by our own success. It is the natural order of things: an organism always modifies its environment just by existing, and its excretions are autotoxic. We can dominate, but not control.

Industrial civilization is as doomed as yeast in a wine cask.

The burning question on my mind is this:
Do humans have the power to destroy ALL life on earth?
Will nuclear armageddon do it? Persistent bio-accumulating organic toxins? Radical climate changes? I am still undecided, but I'm studying up on molecular biology. I'm sure we'll manage to cause another mass extinction--but I don't think we can actually destroy all life. Prokaryotes are some damn hardy organisms.

"Do humans have the power to destroy ALL life on earth?"

Yes, but probably with great difficulty as well as great(seemingly innate) stupidity.

Life is pretty resilient and could always re-evolve, though wasting a few million or hundreds of millions of years may be sad. I did a first pass of collapse levels a few years back:

Being humans we are more interested in our own and our economic systems survival, I have bad news: lots die and the economic systems break.

"Do humans have the power to destroy ALL life on earth?"

Naahhh...the cockroaches will always survive.  Heck, you can microwave those critters and they just laugh at you.

"Do humans have the power to destroy ALL life on earth?"

Not a chance.  There are creatures that require temperatures close to the boiling point of water in order to survive. They prefer temperatures above boiling. Some of the latest thinking is that they are very closely related to the first life forms on earth.


from the wikipedia article
The most hardy hyperthermophiles thus known live on the superheated walls of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, requiring temperatures of at least 90 °C for survival.

Many hyperthermophiles are also able to withstand other environmental extremes such as high acidity or radiation levels.

Note also that they do not even depend on current energy from the sun as almost all lifeforms do. As long as those deepsea vents remain hot, they have what they need.
No way. We like to think of ourselves as the peak of evolution, the most successful species and so on, but the fact is that every single individual alive today lives because all their ancestors survived long enough to be successful in the game. We are equally much winners - so far. Sure, we can look ahead and say the great apes will probably be dead soon, but that's our opinion. Evolution isn't about prescience. It's about what is, not what will come. Whether we will suddenly nuke ourselves has not been decided yet, and nature has, with its characteristic lack of forward planning, not taken that possibility into account one way or the other.

But the real lords of the planets are the microbes. If they could think through some form of emergent behaviour or something, they would probably regard us as mere brownian motion in the tea cup of evolution.

Apropos microbes: here's a link to an appropriately doomerish la times article called "The Rise of Slime".

Hello CrazyPat,

I am assuming you have read my previous postings on Mexico.  Mexico City [pop. approx. 20 million] is an area in extreme Overshoot, and the ongoing election standoff and Cantarell depletion is only adding to the population stress.  Now add in the absolutely mind-boggling water shortages and energy requirements to keep this area minimally supplied--Mexico City is optimally primed for a titanic clash as they go postPeak.  This link is two years old, but my guess is that things have only gotten worse since it was first published.

Water Crisis as Mexico City Sinks Faster than Venice

Mexico City's underlying aquifer is now collapsing at a staggering rate beneath the streets. While Venice slips into the Adriatic at a fraction of an inch each year, Mexico City is lurching downwards by as much as a foot a year in some areas. Over the past century, it has dropped 30ft.

The city now has five pumping stations working around the clock to draw water vertically three-quarters of a mile from the neighbouring Cutzamala River basin and from the lower catchment area of the River Lerma. Paying about $50,000 (£28,000) a day in water rights alone, the system consumes the same amount of electricity as Puebla, a city of 1.3 million people to the south-east.

Below street level, the ongoing subsidence is wreaking havoc with the water distribution and drainage systems. The city's 8,300-mile network of water pipes routinely fracture, losing up to 40 per cent of potable water supplies, according to some estimates. The city's sewage used to drain away by gravity towards a far-off outflow in the Gulf of Mexico but now needs to be first pumped uphill before it can be drained.
The Mayan and Aztecan collapses of yore will be nothing compared to when Mexico City has to be evacuated.

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


We may be the SA of coal, but how the heck does one "ramp-up" quickly with it? Especially if you tie GHG preventatives to it. It seems to me that we are tied to the Middle East for quite some years.

Funny he did not mention kicking over the Syrian regime. That might prove a benefit - just the knocking over of it, not occupying it. Eliminating an ally of Iran might be of benefit.

"Knocking over" Saddam has worked out well so far (for the long suffering USA taxpayer).

Legitimate point. But Syria continues to be a way-station and suppler of arms flowing into Lebanon (and Iraq).

Instead of occupying, maybe disposing of the Assad regime and letting the Syrians sort things out would buy the West and Israel time, and it would be a blow against Iran. Remember, there are very very few Shias in Syria, it is run by Alawites and is largely Sunni.

The Sunni/Shi'a split doesn't seem to be too important to Syria at the moment.  If the West went in and took out the Syrian gov't what do you think the Islamic world's reaction might be?  The whole Middle East is at a "tipping point"--the last thing we should do is give it a giant push.  Let's not forget the law of unintended consequences............

All good points you make. But remember Syria is not currently a religious regime, but a Fascist state left-over, sort of like Franco's Spain into the 1960's.

But the Alawites dominate it and it would be comparable in part to having half the Cabinet in the USA run by members of the 7th Day Adventists. Some Sunni consider Alawites as beyond the pale.

Neither was Iraq, and the Baathists were despised as irreligious autocrats.  Now look what happened.
You are talking about creating a civil war in a country of 19 million people!

This is not a fucking game of Risk, you are talking about regular people, families, civilians.

The civil war in Iraq didn't satisfy your bloodlust? Just give it time.

What's wrong with you?

"This is not a fucking game of Risk, you are talking about regular people, families, civilians"


Racism is judging a person or group of people solely on the basis of race.  Hating all the Arabs, or Muslims, or any ethnic or religious group, is fucking RACISM!!! And this is exactly the way the gov't=media=corporations wants you to think.  This is the propaganda 24/7 in our media.

Oh, and by the way, Red Cross observers on the ground in Qana say there were no rockets or Hezbollah in Qana.

It is not racism when the race (or culture) is Ay-rab. They are obviously 100% evildoers. You don't even have to listen to the MSM. You can get the message every day right here on TOD.
The actual targeting video footage disagrees with these observers you mention. Do you have a source for your story?

Thank you in advance.

All news sources I have been reading say there were no missile launches anywhere near the Qana homes that were bombed.  Even Israeli media are admitting that:


I have to admit that I do not put much faith on Israeli military propaganda "targeting video footage" that show a truck driving on some road as evidence of "rocket launchers" entering Qana.  With all due respect, my friend, I am surprised you do.

If you want to make a difference in a positive way, why don't you go to www.fromisraeltolebanon.com and sign the petition to stop this blood bath?  Thanks!

Fire Temple,

O.K., I will accept your solid argument that there was a major screw-up. In WWII it was called a FUBAR.

People died. It is wrong and sad.

If Hezbollah will work under the Lebanon Govt., AND as a part of it, and will not fire missiles into Israel UNLESS the entire Govt. agrees to it, well, I think you have an agreement (maybe with also taking/stopping resupply of THOUSANDS of missiles from Iran/Syria.)

On the radio last week I said if a third party fired missiles from Baja California into National City and Chula Vista, what do you think we would do? See President Wilson in 1916.

In World War Two the word was SNAFU.

Contrary to what is presented in "Saving Private Ryan" the FUBAR acronym came later (our of Vietnam, if memory serves, but I could be off by a war or two).

For current usage, most popular is BOHICA: Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.

For those doing multiple tours in Iraq, the last formulation is especially appropriate.

"This is not a fucking game of Risk, you are talking about regular people, families, civilians"

Tell that to the people that are shaping today's "New World Order"....didn't Bush Sr. coin that phrase?

AIPAC PNAC rah! rah! rah!

Ultimately, the only race you can't be racist against are the Chosenites. There have been coy murmurs here and there in the liberal press that you know, it's OK to not like black people, as long as you're not mean about it, and of course the noise about "illegal immigration" which we all know is about those brown people from down south, not illegals from England and Europe, and needless to say working-class white people have been a legitamate target for hate for years now, but don't ever ever ever say anything non-adoring about the Jews.

Now, there are Jews, and Jewish groups, who are against Zionism, but as much as possible is done in the US to deny they even exist. This is why  Chomsky is so marginalized here. There's actually a much more lively discussion about the direction Israel should go within Israel than here in the US.

The US is basically owned and operated by the AIPAC/PNAC faction of Zionists, being about equal parts Jews and Christians who seem to believe, respectively, in the superiority of the Jewish race and in the necessity to do whatever the Jews want so Jesus Christ will come back*

*which if he actually did, boy would he be pissed!

Your mask is slipping, fleam.
Your response is supporting his argument, don't you think?

fleam : don't ever ever ever say anything non-adoring about the Jews.

Jews are "more equal than others" with respect to antiracism.
I am surprised that you don't see the danger in this unsustainable position, it makes things worse.
There will ALWAYS be some racism around against EVERY and ANY group, it has to be contained to reasonable levels just like our other maladaptive traits.
There is no "final solution" to racism.

I think I disagree with you fleam. I want a safe Jewish state, I don't think the power of AIPAC/PNAC is quite as strong as you suggest.

I have Jewish friends, want Israel to be, yet mostly despise the Zionist state Israel is now.

Sadly I think Israel has crossed too many lines now and have probably united too may arab folks agaisnt them. My guess is that Israel must relocate to USA asap.

Becuse anti-Semitism crops up everywhere, it'll be hard to find a place willing to accept a moved Israel. Anti-Semitism mixed with NIMBY-ism means that nobody will want a new Israel given the government's track record and displacement of people needed to make room. Becuse of people having to be displaced to make room, it's nearly a sure thing that terrorism will ensue at the site.
Hmmmm, how come we don't have Anti-Japanese-ism? Japanese ppl live all over the world, there are substantial numbers of them in the US, in S. America, all over the place. Except for that one sad chapter of history in WWII, we don't have Americans or S. Americans strapping on bombs and taking out the local Okazu-ya. How come we don't have Anti-Irish-ism. There are some real FOB (fresh off the boat) Irish in the Bay Area and always have been large no's of Irish in areas on the East Coast. There have been large no's of Irish in San Francisco at least since they (and the Chinese laborers) were used to build the railroads. Yet, no one has ever strapped on a bomb vest and blown up the Irish bars, and goodness knows, everyone knows where those are. How about Anti-Chinese-ism? Anti-Korean-ism? I can shop at Wing Yuan or Han Kook markets fully confident that no one will blow the place to smithereens.

Why? Because no one has had their family massecred by Koreans, Irish, Japanese (at least not for a long time) etc. There is NO pattern of the Japanese, Irish, etc declaring themselves above the law, and massecring people around them. No one lives in Neighborhood X, where Neighborhood X has been in existance for 1000's of years, and have a bunch of this or that group move in next door, then start shooting them for sport like squirrels, cut off their water, chop down ancestral olive and almond trees, and level houses.

If speaking the truth makes me a Nazi, maybe we need to look at who thinks speaking the truth is so dangerous, or .... hey maybe those Nazis were onto something. Seig, heil!

I actually agree with you about something.  

I also think the whole "anti-semitism" thing is really blown out of proportion.  You can't tell me that there is a hostile anti-semitic attitude in the U.S. as a whole.  A jewish family could move in next door to me and neither I, nor anyone else on the block would think anything of it.  

Just because a very tiny minority of people are anti-semitic, doesn't mean there's a huge undercurrent of hatred toward jews.  There are still people who are racist toward blacks.  The whole bruhaha about immigration has some undertones of racism toward Latin Americans.  

There will always be a small number of people who are bigots and who dislike certain nationalities/races/religions.  I say it is BS that there is serious anti-semitism to the point that jews can't live in a country like the United States or most European countries, where anti-semitism is purportedly worse.  The argument makes about as much sense as saying that African Americans all need to move back to Africa because a few kooks still exist out there who are racist toward black people.  

While there is little or no racism against the Irish in the US, let's not forget Belfast.  The Irish are not exactly loved in England and Scotland.  Similarly, the Koreans and Chinese probably have some residual resentment toward the Japanese over WWII.  There was plenty of racism in the US against the Irish and Chinese back when they were being used as cheap labor, just like that against the Hispanic immigrants today.  Acts of terrorism are the (usually) last resort of groups who perceive themselves powerless to resist oppression/occupation in non-violent ways.  Immigrant groups in the US haven't needed to resort to them because, in spite of racism and discrimination, they've been able to operate within the political structure to resist and improve conditions for their groups.

Native Americans, however, did resist violently (after trying peaceful means--treaties that were largely ignored by the US gov't) but were crushed by the superior numbers and firepower of their oppressors, who had no compunction in using terrorist actions themselves (ethnic cleansing on a huge scale).  Once a resistance group has been neutralized either through overwhelming defeat or assimilation, the dominant culture can safely ignore them.

The only reason we haven't had terrorism by oppressed groups in this country since the Indian Wars is because the conditions that create it haven't been in place here.  We've mostly exported our oppression and our representatives have been attacked in those countries (embassies, troops, businesses, etc. that have been attacked in Africa, the Middle East, Central & South America).  9/11 was the same sort of attack, they just brought it home for a change.  

I expect to see more home-grown terrorism if the economy tanks (as is likely), the gov't grows more oppressive (as is likely), and some ethnic/religious/economic group or groups get blamed for the problems with resulting unfair discrimination (very likely).  If they feel they have no other options, they'll resort to violence.

agric Noam Chomsky talks about this a lot - it seems at the founding of Israel, there were two main strains of thought, one was to get along with the neighbors, they were the sort of lefty socialist strain, the ones who came up with all the kibbutz farms, one of which Chomsky spent some time on. And the other strain was the direct descendent of the Stern Gang, Irgun, etc - let's be badass war hawks, and this 2nd strain has been encouraged by huge arms gifts from the US, and has become dominent.

Now, yeah, it's probably a case where the only solution is to give the Isrealis Navada or something. But, the first neighborning village they pillage and massecre, you can expect Americans to strap on the bomb belts.......

It appears that PO is the trump card in the battle between the US/Israel and the Arabs. As dependent as the US and Israel are on imported oil, the  US Congress will have no choice but to abandon their Israeli-centered ME foreign policy and instead securing Arab governments' favor and access to oil.

The interesting thing is that the Israeli lobby as you mentioned is so entrenched here, that the US would clearly do whatever it takes to ensure Israeli has a steady stupply.  

Interesting. I thought of the same idea before. All the Arabs need to do is get together and in unison say either divorce Israel or we shut the valve. Two obvious scenarios come up:

  1. We divorce Israel, and we get the oil, but Israel goes into a nuclear rampage. We lose.

  2. We stay with Israel, and they shut the valve. War ensues and we are crippled without the oil. Then, Israel in desperation since we can't help, they go into a nuclear rampage anyways. We lose.

Either way, the oilfields end up producing Green Glowing Light Sweet Crude that is useless. And we lose.

Thus, the only strategy is to keep the Arabs divided as long as possible. When they unite, it's Game Over.


"Oh, and by the way, Red Cross observers on the ground in Qana say there were no rockets or Hezbollah in Qana."

And you believe, though actually the better word is accept, this as accurate?

Now the Red Cross is terrorists? The Red Cross is sympathizing with Hizbollah?
Yes, Jack Greene, some people believe the Red Cross before they believe the IDF or Fox News or Iranian exiles being paid by PNAC.
And your blood lust is showing.
The thing to remember is that unless you are there, in person, no one really knows who is spinning what on the electronic media.

We would all do well to review the lessons in "Wag the Dog".


Exactly my point. One must examine sources from all possible places. I would suggest that electronic media is spinning from many different directions.

I thought Wag the Dog was way too much Washington Beltway - not everything stops at the front of the TV screen, and in this modern age of the blogs, it is hard to hide anything, as if one could hide much 10-20 years ago.

Are you trying to tell me nothing gets "spun" on blogs?  I would hardly say that's the truth.  Even though it's written by individuals, some have become masters at it.

Whoa, just the opposite. Tons and Tonnes get spun at blogs.


Rather them than us.

Also, it will give the Syrians the opportunity to get rid of a corrupt dictatorship that has 20% unemployment weighted down by a creaking old military machine that has been sending in men and supplies to kill our people in Iraq and in Israel, and the last time I looked, Israel was and is our ally.

By the way, Risk is far too simplistic.

And you believe that will actually happen? Maybe they'll throw sweets and flowers too, right?
Chocolates. Definitely chocolates. That's what I would want thrown at me.

No, they will not throw chocolates, they would want to throw bombs, but in their backward state (and frankly people who think the 9th Century is the place to be, well, I will take a pass) they might shoot longbow arrows.

Long-bow arrows? But if they are so backwards, why the WMD threat as in Iraq?
Prodigal Son,

Ask yourself, do you really think Iran does not want to have the Atom Bomb? If the answer is yes, than what do you do about it? If no, than you and I do not agree.

Long-bow is a reference to Shakespeare's HENRY V, not literal.

I'm not afraid of an Iranian atom bomb. We lived with a 'fanatical' USSR for 50 years.
Prodigal Son,

Israel is, and they have a reason to be afraid. Six million in 1941-45.

The USSR and kin did not embrace an end of the world philosophy and a "Death is Good" and it is now the "End of the World" religion.

I'm not Israeli, nor do I give a tinker's damn about the state of Israel. If Israel wants to occupy others' land and bomb women and children in Beirut that is their affair, not mine.

I'm a US citizen. My interests are with the United States. Jerusalem is not worth the bones of a single US Marine, and it is certanily not worth the billions we've given Israel in foreign aid.  

Fuck 'em.

The USSR and kin did not embrace an end of the world philosophy and a "Death is Good" and it is now the "End of the World" religion.

<Yawn> Nice right-wing talking point there. </yawn>

Religion will be the death of us.  Long live Atheism!
Amen, Autodidact! So far, only Atheists have avoided radicalism to the point of violence. While Islam is the most infamous for religious violence, the Israelis prove Jews can get violent, and don't forget the Crusades. There's plenty of blame to go around with Middle East stupidity. I liken their squabbling as like two neighboring kids fighting about believing in Santa Claus or The Tooth Fairy but using their dads' shotguns.

French Revolution

Bolshevik Revolution

Chinese Cultural Revolution

Pol Pot genocide of Cambodian people

Systematic starvation of millions of Ukranians under Stalin

Hm, now what was it about those nice reasonable atheists???

Now agnostics, maybe there is a glimmer of hope there. It is hard to generate the emotional fervor to kill masses of people under the slogan, "I am an ignoramus. Maybe you should be one too?"

Well..it could be argued communism was just a different kind of religion -- it certainly had many of the characteristics of one.
Point taken.  However, I was referring specifically to our current situation both globally and in the US, where it is the religious zealots that seem to be trying to ignite WWIII.  Atheists/agnostics are not immune to sociopathic behavior although I would posit that such individuals are not representative of the philosophies to which they lay claim.  The same can be said of such individuals that pretend to be followers of any religion.

As was pointed out, the crimes you list were committed by so-called Communists who were ostensibly operating with utopian (from their perspective) goals in mind--concepts not much different than those of the religious zealots.  Their professed atheism is insignificant to their political beliefs.  So, IMO, these groups (Communists and religious believers) can be lumped together and my point still stands, though I should perhaps change some terms.  Change "religion" to "zealots" and "atheism" to....hmmmm, what's a good label for "live and let live" beliefs?  Tolerantism?  

they might shoot longbow arrows.

I would rather bet on IEDs, have we not seen that somewhere else already?


And don't forget suicide bombers.

Of course, and ...
How do you get rid of that?

For various reasons, the longbow never really caught on outside of England. However, the horsemen of the middle east have been extraordinarily proficient with various kinds of compound bows and crossbows.

The myth of the centaur was based on mounted Ukranians ("Sythians) shooting short and powerful bows to overwhelm ancient Greeks. Both Mongols and Turks were marvelously profiecient mounted bowmen.

To get an idea of how hard it is accurately to shoot an arrow from horseback, just try it.

For various reasons, the longbow never really caught on outside of England.

Yet another lapse in your "education" Don, the longbow was used way before the englishmen reinvented it.

It is mentionned in Xenophon's Anabasis as used by the Karduchians or Kurds (!) :

They were, moreover, excellent archers, using bows nearly three cubits long and arrows more than two cubits. When discharging the arrow, they draw the string by getting a purchase with the left foot planted 28 forward on the lower end of the bow. The arrows pierced through shield and cuirass,

You know how long a "cubit" is?

You know how hard it is to shoot a longbow from a horse?

The English longbow was unique for a number of reasons, including availability of yew for the staff and the ability of some monarchs to persuade (or bribe) large numbers of "yeoman" to develop the incredible muscles needed to draw a 130 lb. self-bow.

The kurdish bows were compound recurve bows--entirely different from a self longbow such as the English used.

You are talking to an archer here.

BTW, there was an excellent "Scientific American" article on the evolution of the bow in military applications recently, not more than twenty or thirty years ago, if memory serves. The key problem with the longbow is that it takes many years of training and constant practice to develop and maintain the strength and proficiency to deal with a bow that has a draw weight of 120 to 150 lbs. (Some English longbows probably had a draw weight in excess of 150 lbs.) The arrows from these English bows could pierce the finest armor of steel plate in the thirteenth century--armor far better than that available in Xenophon's time.

Archers however, seldom get much respect. Look at Pandaros, who killed Achilleus, and from whom we get the inglorious word "pander," meaning to pimp. Come to think of it, the two Pandars were probably different people, but you get the point.

Mongols, Parthians, Pechenegs,etc and other central asian nomadic horsemen used
Re-curved compound bows, not long bows. (There aint a lot of Continental Yew on the Steppes)

Oh and BTW: The Welsh were probably the first to perfect the art of the medieval ''English Longbow''.

The longbow probably goes back about 50 000 years, so calling it ''English''is a bit of a misnomer.  

Still , we happy few, we band of brothers do owe some kind of proto-nationalistic debt to Henri Tydder.

The way things are going, the longbow may yet come back in fashion...

The Welsh are not an especially large people, physically. (Though Dylan Thomas was certainly large in some dimensions.) To draw a bow  of  say, 140 lb. weight you have to be
  1. Large
  2. Beefy, extremely well-muscled, probably built somewhat like a lobsided wrestler with a twenty inch diameter neck.
  3. Based on the historical evidence I've seen, the longbow flourished for only a few hundred years--largely because of the difficulty and expense of feeding and organizing large numbers of large men and training them and providing arrows. You had to practice probably three times a week at least to maintain a minimum level of proficiency. Your average peasant (regardless of ethnicity) was just not up to it. A beefy tall (i.e. taller than the five foot three average of the middle ages) well fed (lots of mutton, pork, cheese and beef--very very expensive to feed) guys organized into platoons and companies, together with officers--all very expensive, very difficult.

Much cheaper was to hire Genoese crossbowmen. Not as effective--but much much cheaper.
When the IDF get to the Litani River, they will start to get close up to the Syrian Border.

Then there will be a 'border incident'...

I think the IDF are playing for keeps this time: 600 000 Lebanse refugees; destruction of infrastructure required for a viable life; massive rebuilding costs beyond the finances of the Lebanon; pollution and damage to a healthy, emerging tourist industry in Lebanon; and The IDF dont appear to care about world opinion. You wouldnt do all this unless you were determined to win.

Israel must also know that if Hezbullah is eliminated, another will rise in its place later, possibly manned by the young men in the above mentioned 600 000 refugees.

And of course, its convenient that, at this time, the US have a lot of boys on the ground in the next country along from Syria. Eastern Syria is 'good tank country'.

But just a polite reminder: Baathist Syria is a friend of a Nuclear tipped oil power called Russia.

Just a thought, but who knows where this may go?


Please explain to me why only a small portion of the Israeli Army is mobilized, if this is their plan?

The Syrian army is pretty bad, so maybe Israel only needs a small percentage of its force. . . .

The IDF are mobilising reserves. Israel has about 150,000 Reseves. Now, it may be that the IDF will be happy with cordon sanitaire along the border, but it could be that the IDF have worked out that a dead zone all the way to the Litani is a good idea too. The risk is an IDF - Syrian border event. And what better time to do it than when US forces are next door?

My point is that this is different.

Someone somewhere has worked out that Israel has to win every war; Islamic States only have to win the last war.

Ultimately it is a matter of demography.

We will see. But Israel is faced with a problem. As time goes by, her ability to win wars against her neighbors will become increasingly difficult, simply due to numbers.

It is likely that Israel feels that she no longer has a choice. As time goes by, the population numbers just do not add up,and of course, the soldiers of Hezbullah learn, just as we, slowly learnt how to deal with Blitzkreig, they too are getting better at taking on the IDF.

Hezbullah could be destroyed, but some other organization would spring up and take up arms in it's place. You cannot displace 600 000 people and expect to be loved for it. When you do this, then you must realise that you must forever police a dead zone. No amount of UN Troops in a buffer zone  will 'cure' this problem. It is old strategies being applied in a new world. The population bomb makes all the difference. The Six Day war and the Yom Kippur War were fought under a different demographics. The world has changed. There are many more Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Saudi, Iraqi and Iranian boys who are 'up for it'. Shit, they cant even get laid. What exactly do you do with fit young men who have no future?

This is the sorrow of the Middle East: perpetual war of annhilation.

Add to this: Peak Water, Oil and Grain.

With young men who have no future and no sex lives there is only one thing you can do: Turn them into martyrs.
Not only do they have no future and sex life, but they don't even have booze to drown their sorrows. So, they sit, with their Turkish coffee at the cafe' and talk. And talk , and talk about the "great satan". Who wouldn't want to go to paradise and have 72 virgins and rivers of wine?

Next thing you know, they strap on the wearable bomb, and KABOOM!

Hello Mudlogger,

Your Quote: "Just a thought, but who knows where this may go?

Perhaps the Israelis and Lebanese are battling for future Earthmarine control of a viable and large biosolar habitat.  Extrapolate and consider the larger context from the information included in this earlier posting of mine.

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

Sadly, you may be right.

Each region  may decide how best to proceed in it's own nation's interests.

We may be watching PO /P Water / P Food in action as we speak. No longer in the realm of academosphere or blogosphere, but 'coming to a civilisation near you'.

''Well, in their time, they made a really good peanut butter sandwich''. (Said the Cockroach) - Actually Bageant from Cold Type - but I am sure he wont mind.

Getting hardnose nasty, one solution to the "peak oil" problem would be for the USA to get together with China, India and Europe and go into the Middle East and wipe out all of the people living there. That would free up the almost 10 million barrels per day that they are consuming in those countries for export from the new "Petroleum Park" managed by a joint consortium of oil companies from each nation involved the project.
A side benefit would be the elimination of all the terrorists at the same time. And it would send a clear message to the other oil producing countries that they had bettern not mess with deliveries of "our oil" to the USA, China, India and Europe.
And I will almost guarentee that there are people in the Government(s) that are thinking about it.
It would beat fighting a nuclear war with China or India over the oil!
This sounds like a major war crime on a planetary scale.
Well, what do you suppose people really mean when they say that the "American lifestyle is non-negotiable"?
And the leaders of China aren't going to let the residents of the ME stand in their way of China's growth.
War crimes are only commited by those who lose the war, not by those who win them - According to history.
Mind you I am not advocating this or saying this is what should happen, I am only putting forth what could/might happen when we hit major problems with demand outstripping supply. And ignoring the possibility is a good way to "let it happen". You have to think and talk about the worst possible scenarios if you hope to be able to have any real chance to avert them from happening. Ignoring these possibilities by those aware of Peak Oil is just like Joe Sixpack ignoring peak oil 'cause he doesn't want it to happen.
Well, what do you suppose people really mean when they say that the "American lifestyle is non-negotiable"?

I think that means that the American people will think everything is OK ... right up until the costs start to stare them in the face.  This has already happened in Iraq.  The polls are running for pull-out, and not "double up."

We can thank our stars that we were not quite so evil that we accepted this price tag and went shopping for more.

Another question would be tho ask who said "non-negotiable" and what is his political strenght right now?
Dick Chaney and he's still calling the shots.  Excellent anyalysis of the Israeli/Lebanon war at Asiatime (atimes.com) and Billmon.org.
I really think we've turned a corner.  Another indication:

Hagel: Bush Should Seek Immediate Cease Fire In Lebanon; Says Iraq Is Vietnam All Over Again

There's breaking ranks, and then there's breaking ranks.


Hagel is seriously thinking of running for President. He is also a bit like McCain in the GOP.

Actually George H. W. Bush used these words before the veep did.


Incidentally, the Vice President of the United States is Richard B. Cheney, not Chaney.


This is Chaney (Lon).
Som confusion is understandable.
Gee, maybe that explains my typo.  The resemblance is uncanny!
Mobsters R Us -- 'Say, nice country ya gotz here...would be a shame if something happened to it.'
There are terrorists in other parts of the world, ya know. Indonesia has the worlds largest muslim population, if you are assuming that muslims are terrorists.

The usual number thrown out after 9/11 was a potential pool of 1% of the Muslim population. In my opinion I think it was way too high of a figure, but in areas, like Pakistan or Somalia, it would be higher, while lower in India.

The fact that it is not anywhere near 1% points out to me that most people (Muslim, Arabs, French, etc.) do not want a return to the 7th century.

most people (Muslim, Arabs, French, etc.) do not want a return to the 7th century.

Right! So why are YOU longing for that by any other means?

I don't know if this has been posted before, or if the info is accurate, but for those who like strategic conspiracies, there is lots of ammo here:


I don't know if this has been posted before

Yes, it is on EB too.
It is a well known project:

THE BAKU-TBLISI-CEYHAN OIL PIPELINE, Globalisation and Inequality, Daniël Meijers

Bush voices support for oil and gas pipelines leading from Caspian to Turkey

How is this a conspiracy?

KVBGA.  The pipeline is of course common knowledge, but the BBC have not been reporting that the Israeli attack on Lebanon was about securing the Tblisi pipeline let alone water exports to Israel from the Tigris and Euphrates.  I find the reasoning of this article all too plausable but at the same time unbelievable - or am I in denial?  I'm not American, but it seems reading these pages that Americans are taking a lot more about government duplicity for granted than even the most sceptical Europeans.  Tony is now trying to wriggle from the tight corner he is in.
As I noted above.
A side benefit would be the elimination of all the terrorists at the same time

pssst your racism is showing.

Haven't we had enough empirical evidence that social engineering with cruise missiles is about the dumbest god damn idea to be hatched in the last hundred years?

Causing even more chaos in the Middle East is just about the dumbest idea I've heard yet.  We have long supported regimes like those in Saudi Arabia precisely because they offered stability.  Personally, I think our support for brutal, dictatorial regimes is wrong, and is not a policy we should follow, but I at least understand the logic behind it.  

The idea of purposely destabilizing the whole region has no logic behind it whatsoever.  The likelihood of a democracy springing up out of the ensuing anarchy is incredibly remote.  Another dictatorship is exceedingly more likely.  During periods of anarchy, people seek stability first, and only relative trivialities like political freedom last.  So just going through toppling governments would not offer any tangible benefits, and very likely would result in even worse, and more hostile fundamentalist governments.  

Our problem with Iran is we're treating them as an enemy, which they may be, but rather than treat them as one we need to "defeat", we need to treat them as an adversary we need to learn to work with.  Our foolish overreliance and overconfidence in our military might has accomplished jack shit so far.  Maybe if we'd tried being a bit more friendly to Iran all along, things would be different now.  In any case, we'll have to start some time, because you don't make friends by just going around throwing bombs.  This is also one of the mistakes with Israel's posture as well.  

The interesting part was that this was written by a former member of the military establishment.  What he admitted to was pretty astonishing, IMO.

It appears that we have the current and retired senior officers in the Pentagon to thank for forcing the BCR (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld) to take the nuclear option off the table regarding Iran.   I think that we are seeing the beginning of what may be an ultimatum to BCR by the officers in the Pentagon regarding BCR's misadventures in the Middle East.  

The body counts in Iraq may seem somewhat abstract to most us, but the officers in the Pentagon are seeing their fellow officers and their enlisted personnel following their orders being slaughtered for no discernible reason.

This story reminds me a lot of the Vietname debate.  I have forgotten who said "Just declare victory and get out," but it's a great line for today's situation.

Long time lurker,  First time poster.

On the original article(page 2) there is a discussion,
I found the comments interesting.  Most were saying we should stay the course.

"If we don't fight them there,  we will have to fight them here."  was the general mood.

I want to thank all of you for putting out all this good info and thought provoking subjects.


Unfortunately "if we don't fight them there, we'll have to fight them here" is believed in a lot by the average American.

I was shocked to hear a friend of mine say that all those Lebanese-Americans we rescued and put on cruise ships back here, are Hezb'allah agents, and once they're back here, will start doing terrorist acts here. He actually believes this.

Well, it couldn't help just how utterly pathetic our media is.  We see hardly anything about what's going on in other parts of the world and what people there are thinking, besides the grandious explosions of the military conflicts we are involved in.  The average American is never exposed to the real people who live in Lebanon, or the Middle East.  All they ever see is a propaganda caricature that is eagerly fanned by dishonest politicians.  

The current view of the world presented to Americans is entirely self centered, with our comfort and safety being all that matters, and the hell with the comfort and safety of others.  The way things are presented, people elsewhere in the world are just there for our own amusement or convenience, and other than that they just don't matter.  

I don't find it especially surprising that most Americans' attitudes pretty much reflect the crap that is presented on the "news".  

My tea leave reading was that when we had those six retired generals step forward, go on TV, make statements, meet with the whitehouse, and then go quiet again ... that behind the scenes they had done a deal.

This would be around the time of the Seymour Hersh articles on Iran & the nuclear option.

Actually, I'd guess that the deal was no bombing in Iran of any kind ... but your tea leaves may vary ;-)

I have a feeling that you're right about the top brass managing to avert an attack on Iran - so far.

Thus the War Party's attempt to go around them via Lebanon and Syria - trying to create an "inevitable" escalation.

"Senator George Aiken, Republican of Vermont, uttered his famous solution: "Declare victory and get out." The great tragedy was that Lyndon Johnson, either too willful or too worried about history's judgment, would not yield. Instead, it destroyed his presidency."


The Secretary of Defense at the time of the fall of Saigon was Donald Rumsfeld. No way is he going to be the one to let the fall of Bagdad happen. It's all about Rummy's ego.
Your facts are in error. Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense from November 20, 1975 to January 20, 1977  (when Carter was sworn into office).

The city of Saigon fell on April 30, 1975, more than six and a half months before Rumsfeld was sworn into office.

As I stated, your facts are in error, thus your conclusions are to be questioned.

Rumsfeld was White House Chief of Staff at that time. I stand corrected. He is probably still haunted by the fall of Saigon. The GOP blamed the Dem Congress for cutting funding for Vietnam.
The Domino Theory was widely argued by both parties during the 60s. It is a lot like the if we don't fight them there we'll have to fight them here propaganda. I'm still waiting for the Viet Cong to storm the beaches of San Diego.


The body counts in Iraq may seem somewhat abstract to most us, but the officers in the Pentagon are seeing their fellow officers and their enlisted personnel following their orders being slaughtered for no discernible reason.

The Iraq war combined with the Afghanistan war appear to have hit the special forces disproportionally hard. (Sorry, lost the link to the article). Since current strategic thinking is that future wars will be increasingly volatile and will be increasingly anarchistic, i.e. more guerilla warfare with less and less clear distinction between populace and army the special force become more and more important for warfare. Therefore the number of casualties is not as important for military as the number of special forces that are lost.

Your statement about production of US fossil fuels is interesting as I was just wondering what a realistic expectation of US oil production might be, if we drilled in ANWR, if we drill in the eastern Gulf, if we drill off the east and west coasts, etc.  Could we even sustainably produce 10 million bpd?

I was thinking about this after watching another infuriating c-span segment, this one with Sen. Landreau (sp?).  I like her and I'm not opposed to expanding drilling in the gulf, but there is always the unspoken (or spoken) assumption amongst some callers that we can drill our way to energy independence, especially where oil is concerned.  I know that's bunk, but I'm trying to get a handle on what we could realistically produce if we drilled absolutely everywhere.

"Could we even sustainably produce 10 million bpd?"


We can slow the rate of decline of total oil and natural gas production in North America by exploiting conventional and unconventional sources of oil and gas natural gas, but these sources should be used as a bridge to an economy that is powered as much as possible by electricity from renewable sources.  

IMO, this is the Great Debate.  

Do we believe ExxonMobil, Yergin, Saudi Arabia and most of the auto/housing/finance group and continue to try to expand our economy--and increase our consumption--against a finite resource base, or do we tax the hell out of energy consumption, offset by abolishing the Payroll Tax, and use our fossil fuel resources as bridge to a more sustainable future?

The latter is the clear logical option. The former keeps those in power still in power until cliff is seen through the fog by everyone.
Absolutely right. Build a bridge to renewable, sustainable life, as much as we can. But make it a carbon release tax, rather than an energy tax, to reduce the increase rate of the damage done to the climate, which may make nothing sustainable.
Houston Peak Oil Conference on August 13, 2006


Alanfrombigeasy and I will be speaking.  I know of at least one person who wants to carpool from Dallas, if anyone is interested:  westexas@aol.com

Any possibility of online streaming or posting of video files for those of us unable to attend?
I'll ask, but this is a pretty low budget, local event.
That would be me. I've got room for 3 more in my Prius. Email we_happyfew[at]hotmail.com
Selfish bastard. If you had a hummer you'd have room for 7 or 8.
Who says I don't? I have room for 3 more in the trunk, next to the toasty warm NiMH battery pack. Only a little of the alkali aroma/flavor seeps out, and that disssipates after a few showers.

With two hot babes in my lap, two more in the passenger seat, four in the back seat... that comes to...

Oh never mind, I just can't compete with AMPD in the fantasizing department.

The Prius has a carrying capacity of 850 lbs, which means 4 Japanese and their luggage or 2 Americans and their luggage.

Or me and a really full load of junk lol!

Two words -- Political Economy.

The old order is fighting tooth and claw to maintain the status quo. It makes you wonder what needs to happen to begin the process of change in this country when not even something like Katrina or the Iraq debacle makes much of an impact.


Welcome to the New America. The limits to growth are here--and you lose.

OK so how did the Nazis, our closest parallel, cope with fighting a war, and dealing with decreasing resources (they had greatly decreased oil imports, food had to be siphoned off to the Army, etc.) I believe how they did it was to order everyone able to at all, to work more, put more land under cultivation even if just worked by hand, etc. In other words, although it may not have looked it because of less purely consumer goods, they went into a hyper-production, hyper-consumption mode.

Exactly in line with the "American Way Of Life Is Non-Negotiable" model, consume more! They're doing this to use via propaganda rather than at gunpoint because doing it by propaganda is much, much cheaper and spares good fighting men for the war front instead of having to have them at home watching over us. But, the gunpoint method is always there, waiting in the wings....

Too late, America has already lost its dignity. Now it has secured the oil in Iraq, pulling out and leaving a humanitarian disaster is not an option.  

The US and allies need to fix the situation. Otherwise it will look like nothin more than plundering a countries resources for its own gain, with total disregard for the people and culture of that country.

Of course it would have been better not to have invaded in the first place, and used the money to research alternative fuels, or more a more fuel efficient motor.

Re:  The suggested solution? An "occupancy tax" to discourage people from living alone.

This is another reason that housing prices are going to fall--more and more people are going to consolidate into one housing unit.   NYC has seen something like this, where people are renting bedrooms or sometimes bunk beds in what are effectively dormitories to cut down on housing costs.

Yes, I expect this to happen even without occupancy taxes.  No need to build new infrastructure.  People will consolidate where there are jobs, transportation, food, water, whatever.  They'll move in with friends or relatives because they lose their jobs or can't afford to drive two hours to work any more.  

Taking in a boarder used to be the classic way to make ends meet.  It's almost unheard of now, but that could change.

I am hearing more and more of married children living with their parents.  

I had my hair cut yesterday, and she told me that she and her husband live with his parents.

My son and daughter-in-law live with us...pay a small monthly rent to help defray expenses.


"I am hearing more and more of married children living with their parents."

This is already common in parts of the UK becasue of the housing bubble. I know of a young married couple, married last year, she is a nurse he is a motor mechanic. They could not afford to buy (could not raise mortgage) any sort of property in the area where their parents live even though both are working.

They now have a small house but only by means of both their parents standing surety to a portion of their mortgage.

Yes, this is more evidence of "The Dream" continuing its relentless march of progress towards the cliff.

Maybe the question for the 2008 Presidential election will be:

 "Are you better off today than your parents were 25 years ago?"

And the answer would be a resounding, "No".

We're not going to need an occupancy tax, for one thing, rent is essentially that. The real estate bubble we have going on now is due to a tremendous amount of speculative buying, 2nd homes, time-shares, etc. There's TONS of housing in this country, and that's before we start sending "questionable" foreigners home, and a lot of good decent ones get the hell out. (A lot of overlap between these groups, a lot of really decent ppl will be considered "bad elements".) We also have huge areas in the Midwest etc that have been depopulating for a long time. Wanna play Little House On The Prairie? A lot of people will want to give it a shot.

So, I don't see an occupancy tax coming in the US.

Taking in a boarder used to be the classic way to make ends meet.  It's almost unheard of now, but that could change.

As building codes and zoning have been tools of the wealthy /developers in many areas, I would expect municipal authorities to fight hard against allowing boarders or even extended families to share housing space.  In Sparks Nevada, I heard that Social Sevices is often used to stop "boarding" by claiming child endangerment.  Granted, this is being directed at latinos, but race and poverty are usually joined at the hip.  Making sure the poor must "enjoy" seperate housing is one way to keep them poor while enriching the landlord class.

True, but I think they will rescind such laws when TSHTF.  Or just ignore them.  There will be a lot worse things to worry about than the number of unrelated adults living at 23 Elm St.

TSHTF == State of Nature, not laws my friend.


Of course you are right Prof. Goose, but don't expect TPTB (and the regulators) to recognise that TSHTF right away.  Many people will try to continue on as in the past despite all the evidence that things have fundamentally changed.

How are they going to fight that?  If you own the house you can let whoever you want stay there.  Certainly your own family.  I suspect there are very few places in the United States where there are such overbearing laws preventing families from living together.  I also am skeptical they'll stand up in court either.  
Homeowners' associations.

It's required in a lot of McNeighborhoods that, when you buy the house, you agree to pay a network of lawyers to sue anyone who lets their grass get taller than 1.25". The covenants and such are usually written by the developers. And so far, they do stand up in court.

Damn right.
This is one of ideas I proposed that would occur with McMansions, as opposed to an empty ghetto that Kunstler espouses.  A four bedroom, 3,000 sq ft house could easily house a primary family and close relatives.  Multiple families living in such a structure is just as efficient as multiple families living in multiple individual, but smaller structures.

The multiple household members could consolidate responsibilities for efficiency (e.g. combined efforts to earn money for house payment, home maintenance, shared single transportation vehicle, etc.)

And the younger members could be put to work caring for elders and tending to the vegetable gardens.  
That is what happened to many of the old mansions built in the 18th and early 19th centuries.  They were divided up into multi-family units.

However, there are two reasons I don't think that will happen with suburban McMansions.  

  1.  Today's homes are not built to last.  They are disposable.  The idea is that house will be out of style in 10 years, and people will want to renovate, if not move to a bigger and better house.

  2.  Location, location, location.  Dividing up a mansion that used to be on Main St. in a small town and is now at the heart of a small city makes sense.  Dividing up a McMansion in the middle of nowhere does not.  

In the Post-Carbon Age, people are going to be living close to things they need.  Jobs, food, transportation, water, protection, whatever.  Suburbs won't give them that.    
/ Today's homes are not built to last.  They are disposable./

I can attest to this.  Houses made of cheap 2x6 and OSB do not last and are hard to maintain; OSB is especially vulnerable to water, intense sunlight and heat(delamination).  Failure to carefully maintain the structure will expose it to these damaging environmental factors...so in a lower energy future with less material wealth, these over-large, vunerable structures will need costly maintainance in the face of potentially higher rainfalls and temps. driven by GW.

Even plumbing failures caused by freezing(caused by insufficient heating{caused by high FF costs}) can cause significant damage to OSB

Too casual with cause :)

My own experience is more the opposite. Today's building codes are stricter than 20-30 years ago. I live in a recently built house with 2x6 framing (doug fir, not 'cheap 2x6') as opposed to the 2x4 framing of several decades ago. A rotten tree fell on the house last winter and bounced off the 3/4" plywood roof sheathing. It would have crushed a 1950's crackerbox. Lots more concrete foundations as opposed to cinder block. Just another perspective.
The comparison was between pre-twentieth century mansions that are commonly subdivided in old neighborhoods and the current crop of McMansions.  Making a comparison of McMansions to the suburban tract houses of the post war era isn't really valid.  They were both built to standards less than those of the old mansions.  The size of tract housing doesn't make them useful for comparison.  But the size of the typical middle class McMansion does make for a good comparison to the once upper class mansions of past centuries.

I don't think this is simply a case of "they don't build them like they use to".  Most of the pre-twentieth century housing stock have fallen apart and are gone.  What survives is the best of the best.  I doubt many currently built homes will fall into the "best" category but certainly some of the high end ones will.

In certain regards this is true...2x6 are stronger than 2x4 especially in truss and rafter applications(although if you look at the strength and growth ring density in older 2x4s, I think as studs they compare favorably to modern 2x6s).  That said, my point is not that new constuction is inadaquate structurally, but rather that it is not durable and that it is prone to damage in a "maintainance adverse" future.  

Your plywood sheathing(many modern houses have OSB) is vulnerable to water and sun as are the asphalt shingles which protect the shealthing.  GW will mean many places suffer higher temps, higher winds and more rain; all things which will adversly affect the durability of shingles/roofing and subsequently the onderlayment and eventually the structure of the home.  Given that McMansions often have ridiculously complicated rooflines with the incumbent problem of poor flashing and water protection, you can expect additional maintainance for these buildings.

We are used to considering houses in a 30-70 year window where they seem to be "permanent", but based on my observations in Europe and Spanish Colonial U.S.; I think wood-dominated construction is a mistake, or as JHK would say " a mis-allocation of resources".  

In rural Nevada I have seen several stick-built structures that have been abandoned(not maintained), and the speed (10-15 years) at which they descend to un-inhabitability is remarkable...which is why I remarked on it.  Whereas, some of the stone or log structures from the 1880's could still be made habitable today...uh it would take some work, or a very understanding wife. ;)

Bottom line, I think, comes down to how much the home builder/buyer is willing to spend. It is easy, within the parameters of modern materials available and building codes, to build a house with a life expectancy of many hundreds of years. Obviously routine maintenance must be done. My house has a baked-enamel steel roof good for probably 100 years and much longer with routing painting after the original enamel wears off. Modern exterior grade plywood is far better than it used to be and beats hell out of straight lumber for structural properties. My own thinking goes toward building smaller and using high-quality materials. I have seen McMansions that were built to high quality standards, but I agree there are many tract houses today that are not built that well. Having worked on housing projects in the last 4 decades though, I still believe the overall quality today is better than in the 50s and 60s.

For energy purposes, construction will become very expensive in the future and it will only make sense to build to last.

I can be useful here.
my opinion on the quality of craftsmanship in new vs. old  is they're the same. todays houses are over engineered and the production technques are streamlined. where the issue is imo is todays house don't breath. specifically inadequate attic ventilation. my favorite solution for this is a whole house fan. under $100 a home depot. not only do you cool your house on the cheap you also change out a lot of the hot moist air in your attic. It might not sound like much but I'll stand by it
As in the past, there is a wide range of building quality. From what I've seen, high end home builders still use stick floor framing while some lesser builders use laminated or trussed floor members with a lot more bounce.  I completely agree that everyone is tightening the envelope at a time when houses are full of off-gassing materials.
 "everyone is tightening the envelope at a time when houses are full of off-gassing materials."
I stress this point with everyone I work with. study after study shows the environment inside your house is unsafe (of course I don't have a link) a toxic nightmare really.
OTOH, people might just create their own little towns in the 'burbs.  Houses can be used for businesses--a general store, a tailor shop, a cobbler, a mechanic/blacksmith, carpenter's shop, etc.--with families living in the back or upstairs.  Granted the quality of the buildings is poor, but they can be repaired/restored.  The catch is finding people with the right skills.  I'm encouraging my son to consider a blacksmith apprenticeship (Love the 'Net!).

I'm talking to some of my more receptive neighbors about this issue.  There are definitely possibilities here.  Our houses are close together with small yards but it wouldn't be too hard to turn some or all of the common areas into gardens and small pastures/commons for small livestock.  We sure won't be needing the tennis court and the pool could be turned into a pond for ducks, etc.  Some shade trees could be removed and replanted with fruit trees.  The soil can be improved with compost/humanure.  We have a reservoir very nearby for water.  The biggest problem is going to be security if the S really hits the fan.  That and getting people to accept the inevitable and get to work!  ;-)  

That's a possibility.  

One thing to keep in mind, though...the best places to settle were settled first.  Places where there was water, rivers for transportation, good topsoil, shelter from the elements, etc.  These places are now the down town areas of old cities.

And unlike the newer McMansion suburbs, the topsoil was left in the place and just built over, not scraped off and sold to farmers and landscapers.  

Neighborhoods like these are often very affordable as well, because everyone with money has moved to the suburbs.

But a lot of burbs were built where the land is "pretty" and that means trees, water, or at least a water table not too far below the surface, sad to say they're built on good farmland. And as I've said, I see the present burbs depopulating a lot (I see everywhere depopulating a lot) and becoming a bunch of village-lets, imagine the English countryside James Harriot wrote about. In fact, his stories, about being a vet in the impoverished (but beautiful) English countryside in the 1930s are probably must-reading.
One thing I've wondered about if post peak drives a lot of people back to small farming as a way to make a living.

Will people start having more children so the kids can help on the farm and support parents in old age? My grandfather, who didn't have social security, lived until he was 84 on the farm because he had three sons and seven grandchildren to help with all the chores.

I suppose small farms could go back to having hired hands ... but where would they come from? Out here people tend to hire Mexicans as hired hands, some with lots of responsibilities, because they have a reputation as hard workers. Americans? Not so much ...

I've wondered that myself.  One reason population growth rates have slowed is urbanization.  Kids are free labor in rural areas, but just extra mouths to feed in a crowded city apartment.

If people do go back to farming, we could see birth rates rising again.

I spent all my teenage years bucking hay bales all summer long ... every summer.

Now my dad is 78, and he and I can run the whole farm because we have an automatic bale wagon and gated irrigation pipe. The other five brothers went urban and so we're on our own out here.

I didn't have kids after I started hanging out with Al Bartlett and crew at the University of Colorado in the late '70s. His exponential-growth talk hit me pretty hard back then, and I decided having kids was actually unethical.

Now I'm thinking, "Jeez, I'm 52 years old. I don't have any kids to use as farm slaves!"

But I want to keep the farm. It's five generations old, completely self-sufficient and might be something well worth having in a post-peak age. Cindy and I canned 120 quarts of tomatoes last year, grew 300 pounds of potatoes and we have all the natural beef we could ever eat.

But man, I might need some help here someday ...

Your urban siblings might decide they want to come home again when TSHTF.  Mayhap some of them have free slave labor...er, I mean children?
You will have plenty of young, strong people begging to help you--some of those unemployed dot-commers living on the front range no longer able to afford gas for their BMWs.  
Well, the question really comes down to this: Are they going to be "begging" to help, or are they going to show up toting  an arsenal and telling him they're there to stay, and he'd better farm for them?  

This is one of the reasons why a catastrophic transition is not really a viable option.  None of us are safe in a true power-down scenario.  It doesn't matter whether you live in the city, or on a farm in the country, in a period of general anarchy, what you "own" is always negotiable at the point of a gun.  A collapse of our basic social structure means a collapse of our laws, and all but the one or two of us who end up being small-time dictators are going to be much worse off because of it.  

Can I suggest adoption?  You might even be able to lower the world population even more than just not having kids since I would guess that kids coming out of the foster system have more kids on average than those who get adopted.
-BF (proud parent of 3 adopted kids)
I decided having kids was actually unethical.

Hey Don,

I grew up in Boulder. Al Bartlett was also a huge influence on me. While I don't think having kids is unethical, I think it is cruel and unusual punishment to bring a child into the world today. As you can see, even though I'm only 24, I'm already a bitter old man. It's hard not to be when I look out at the toxic wasteland my parents have left for me. Still, I forgive my parents--they at least tried during the sixties.

Industrial civilization is as doomed as yeast in a wine cask.

Hey crazypat,

I really loved Boulder in the '70s, and the '60s were pretty nice, too, if you didn't mind the tear gas ...

I was a charter customer of the old Penny Lane, and I think Isadore and I were the only "ranchers" in the place. But there were ideas everywhere. Boulder wanted to buy the Disney monorail, and loop it around town. They considered building a Taos Pueblo-style village out on Arapahoe for affordable housing. They put hydro turbines on the town water pipe from St. Mary's Glacier and generated $600,000 in royalties every year for the library system. The Pearl Street Mall was a classic move to a walkable community years before the idea caught on. They surrounded the town with 40,000 acres of open space. There is a world-class farmers market ...

Now Boulder is overwhelmed with big cars and ostentation everywhere you look. It actually committed suicide, in a way, by becoming such a nice place to live.

You can't be a bitter old man when you're 24, man! It takes time ...

When I was 24, John Denver was going to be the next Governor of Colorado, solar panels would be everywhere and we would all go on Shamanic vision quests into the vastness of reality.

Hey, maybe there's still time!

Ahh, the glory days of Boulder. And I agree fully with you--Boulder has now it has now changed dramatically in character due to its own success. I grew up in South Boulder, in one of the hideous box houses that somehow got zoning approval during the heyday of Boulder's expansion. After the growth clamp-down, housing prices skyrocketed, of course. And now we have reached the obvious foreseeable result: richer people move to Boulder and change the character. We have moved from the "hippy days" of progressive environmentalism to our current state of green-washed overconsumption. Fortunately, that original core population of Boulder is still around. Even better, they have raised a generation that is at least AWARE of the problems, even if we children continue to destroy the world by our ACTIONS.

Still, the radical forces of YUPPY-ism in Boulder have accelerated in recent years--so much so that the change from my childhood in the 80s to today is very visible and disturbing. As an example, take the Crossroads Mall fiasco. It goes a little something like this:

  1. Nearby suburb Broomfield (which has no growth restrictions) builds a fancy new mall.
  2. Boulderites shift to shopping at the new mall, and Boulder city sales tax revenues drop precipitously.
  3. The city makes budget cuts, including closing public libraries 1 day per week (take that, literacy!)
  4. The city approves the plan to demolish Crossroads (the old Boulder mall) and replace it with a flashier, fancier mall with more box stores.
  5. Overconsumption continues rapaciously.

Ironically, the mall in Broomfield is owned by the same guy that owns Crossroads. He didn't like the treatment he got from the Boulder city council, so he built his new mall and killed Crossroads in a slow, agonizing death.

Now, we have the nightmare scenario: Home Depot VS McGuckins Hardware. Who will win? It will be the true test of Boulder's "Buy Local" mindset. I really loved McGuckins, and I am very sad that its fate is all but sealed.

Don, you're right--becoming a bitter old man does take time. Unfortunately, I'm a quick learner, and I had a cynical bent to begin with. Patterns are easy to see for an inquisitive mind, but unseen beliefs are impossible to change.

When I was 24, John Denver was going to be the next Governor of Colorado, solar panels would be everywhere and we would all go on Shamanic vision quests into the vastness of reality.

I wish I could believe in similar utopian delusions for 2006. Sadly, I cannot. With today's population pressure and resource depletion, serfdom and the police state are making their triumphant return here in the U.S. I'm just waiting for Dubya to take that last step and burn down the Reichstag.

Here are some inspiring lyrics from that visionary Zach de la Rocha:
These vultures rob everyone
Leave nothing but chains
Pick a point here at home
Yes tha picture's tha same
There's a field full of slaves
Some corn and some debt
There's a ditch full of bodies
Tha check for tha rent
There's a tap, tha phone, tha silence of stone
Tha numb black screen
That be feelin' like home
- "Calm Like a Bomb", Rage Against the Machine
The Battle of Los Angeles, 1999

Table Mesa or Martian Acres?

Think about me ... I had to live through the Vietnam War, plus Nixon, plus Reagan with his brain-addled finger on all the nuclear weapons.

Still ... I have hope ... they're just upping the ante this time. Maybe the world has come to the climax of its great spiritual fever and will turn to healing as we all spontaneously decomplexify.

I wouldn't put all my eggs in that basket, though ...

Table Mesa, right by Bear Creek Elementary, just at the foot of NCAR.

And speaking of nukes, I'm especially afraid of those. Maybe it's because I grew up a few miles from Rocky Flats. (For those of you that don't know, Rocky Flats was the plutonium detonator factory for thermonuclear bombs in the 80s and 90s.) January 2000 was absolutely terrifying cuz that was the month that W got his finger on the big red button. But you have a good point--Nixon and Reagan both left office without pressing it, and Cheney was in the back room those days as well.

So, should I have hope? I think not. Hope will certainly be our downfall, since the biggest product of hope is inaction. "I hope things will work out all right" does not lead to "I will fight for our future or die trying." Check out this article, "Beyond Hope" by Derrick Jensen from Orion Magazine:

No matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We're losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don't care.

Frankly, I don't have much hope. But I think that's a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness.

I have to agree with Don here crazyPat.

I'm 28 and I too feel industrial civilization is as doomed as yeast. In fact, I suspect most of us on this board will either die in Mad Max style shoot-outs over a few drops of juice or, if we're lucky, simply be turned into fuel by Halliburton built thermal depolymerization machines personally operated by Dick Cheney himself after being rounded up by robotic soldiers with strangely familar Austrian accents.

Nonetheless, I really think you need to cheer up a bit. Here watch this:


Hehehe "If all the science comes in and global warming turns out to be true, how will you hold Saddam responsible?"
Thanks for the laugh, Matt. I do indeed need to cheer up. After all, I'm still living, and life is very very good around here (Seattle) in the here and now. After all, I don't really want to end up like our ever-optimistic buddy, Jay.
but there were ideas everywhere

"They" always criticize what Boulder does and make fun of their ideas, and then a few years later "they" have copied them, and done the same things themselves.

The town really is/was about as good as it gets.  It still has the highest per capita educational level in the US, and continues to make the best place to live surveys in every category, except now, price.  It is probably the most bike friendly in the country.  It is unfortunate how Denver is encroaching upon it, and how the tiny towns which were once unincorporated around it have become developers targets.  Also--a victim of its success is that many companies desired to locate there, so it employs many more people than actually live there.  All this has led to too much traffic and the hated automobile. But, I have never purchased anything there without being asked "would you like a bag?" while being glared at as if to say "you can take that without a bag, can't you, or otherwise I'll hate you for actually contributing to the overuse of plastic bags in this world and for you not being a responsible world member by not bringing your own canvas bag with you!"  The current Outside magazine says they hate it because its too perfect.  I am sad, too, for the changes that have happened there over the years, becoming the victim of its own success.

The Great American Nuclear Fambly on a farm yes, demands a lot of kids. And as good Americans, we believe that's the only way for humans to live. But, this is merely a good way to encourage the most procreation so TPTB get the most soldiers, and remember, war has been the way of life for our Empire for at least the last 50 years. (More like the last 100, but the movie Why We Fight has shown the last 50 years which have been even more intense.)

So, just like the Germans did, you encourage the nuclear family so ppl have lots of kids to work the farm, then when those kids are old enough to fight, draft 'em and put the women, older folks, etc to work doing what the kids did. It's a great system, keeps an Empire well stocked with fit young fighters.

(Here, I should insert that in urban, defensive, warfare, you don't need that 18-24 demographic, Hezb'allah is using ppl 15 or so into their 40s, And they're lethal, it's more about cunning and spirit than being able to march 30 miles in a day in urban fighting, defending one's homeland.)

The reality, as opposed to how it's done in the US, is that people work best in groups of several families. Many of the people here mention that in their own experiences - how it's nice to have other people around to cooperate on projects, do heavy lifts, etc. If the New Farming Movement is based on groups of families rather than the nuclear family, there won't be a new overpopulation problem.

The Amish are a good example, they work together on anything that needs it, and work is shared and favors are exchanged a lot. Their biggest problem is too many kids, since their Christian religion says to spread over the earth and all that. So they have to keep buying more and more land. And like anyone else, they like sex! With a settled existance, babies are only nursed a year or so and then it's time to expect another one.... this is much different than the 3 or even 4 years' nursing time for hunter-gatherer kids.

I'm with Zerzan and the rest, farming was our biggest mistake, but if we're going to farm, doing it in conjunction with the nuclear family model is the worst possible way.


I used to think that way when I was 24, almost exactly. At that time, you could just as easily spin a story that the world was doomed. But the future is impossible to predict and people can change enorously over the course of a lifetime or part of one. Cheer up and enjoy yourself. But save your comment. One day you may be a 70 year old grandfather - it will be funny to look back on.

Seriously, a lot of young people think the world is ruined and use it as a reason to screw their lives up. It can be a long hard lesson in the unpredictability of the future. A lot of people regret not preparing for the future because they didn't think there would be one. You aren't the first, or part of the first generation to think this way.

Formerly crazyjack


Thanks, Jack. It's easy to get caught up in the "there's no future" mindset, especially in these uncertain times. At the same time, it's hard not to feel that this time it really is different. Maybe too I studied too much physics and environmental science. Still, radical change can happen so fast it's mind-blowing. I sure hope that I can look back and laugh as a 70-yr old grandad, but I can't say I'm all that confident about it.

Concomitant to Peak Oil and the forced "re-ruralization" of a percentage of the population, an interesting issue will be how the healthcare industry will fare. What will happen to the quality of healthcare if huge, sprawling hospital complexes which currently house all of the very latest medications and research labs are no longer economically viable?

I would assume that with everything else becoming more local, that the medical professions will as well. It probably goes without saying that there will be a drop in quality in the care provided, though how precipitous it will be remains to be seen.

Tying this into birth rates rising, it may be necessary in the post-Peak Oil era for families to have more children, not only ensure that more helpers are around, but as insurance against a higher infant/child death rate.

The relocalization of healthcare is going to be a huge challenge. In the early 1900s local hospitals were dotted all over the map, each at the centre of a circle the radius of which was the length of a hurried trip by horse drawn transport.  When moblity is restricted and if regional/rural areas see their populations start to increase again, the role of the rural doctor is going to have to change greatly.  How to plan to relocalize healthcare is just one of many questions that arise from the impact of PO on healthcare.

What level of complexity will we be able to sustain 2, 5, 10, 20 or more years into the period of energy descent that will follow on from Peak Oil?

What will be the appropriate level of complexity that balances cost effectiveness with the best possible outcomes?

Almost all drugs are petroleum derived, they represent an extreme case of value adding and without doubt will continue to be made, but at what cost and in what volume? How strong and how stable will the international logistical chain be that delivers them?  How many drugs do we need?  What can we dispense with? What can we make locally?

What sort of equipment is indispensable? Can it be maintained without recourse to exotic spare parts? What is the minimum needed in an operating theatre?  

Is there a case to be made for surgical teams to move around to perform elective surgery in smaller hospitals?  If so what can we pack up and move from place to place as required? Should we look at the robust, combat zone/disaster relief surgery/anaesthesia kits that have already been developed?

The present trend to throwaway almost everything is unsustainable. What reusable equipment can we manufacture that will safely do the job of disposable products?  

What operations and treatments are no longer going to be possible or affordable or justifiable?

We will need to manage risk and accept risk-benefit trade offs that might be currently unacceptable. Is legally driven decision making still going to be a viable response to risk minimization?  We can't really eliminate all risk now and will be much less able to do so in the future. Will GPs, particularly in rural areas, find that they called on to do much more and more complex procedural work for patients who can not travel to large centres?  How will they get the required training?

We need to counter the dangerous and naïve assumption that natural and holistic therapies will be able to simply take over when conventional medicine starts to fail, with no diminution in health or safety. Some natural therapies that actually work will find a place, but we must fight to defend the enlightenment and insist on scientifically proven treatments.  We must try our hardest to keep the system functioning and adaptable for as long as possible.

I am trying to get my head around these issues and would appreciate input from others who are thinking about the problem.

Dr Jim Barson. Convenor, Health Sector Working Group ASPO- Australia.

I can be reached at barsonj(at)bigpond.com

These are important issues. If put in a broader context, they become even more ominous:

  1. One issue you allude to is rationing: even if economic growth keeps up at current rates, on a worldwide basis it is hard to afford the ongoing cost increases of health care. In an economically-constrained post-peak environment, there will be fewer dollars to spend on health care. Someone will need to make difficult decisions about who goes with less, or with none.

  2. There is the issue of health care problems caused directly by peak oil. Much of the improvement in human health has come directly from better public sanitation: clean water, and good sewage treatment. These things, as well as preventative health care measures like vaccination, could erode post-peak. Climate change issues (more flooding, more extreme temperatures hot and cold) are also likely to make this worse.

Here's a preview: the 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee. Bad water filtration allowed fecal protozoans into the municipal water supply. 25% of the population-403,000(!)-fell ill, 44,00 sought medical care, 4,400 hospitalized, about 69 deaths. Cost estimates were $32 million in medical costs and $64 million in productivity losses--all in 1993 dollars. Reference

Rationing is happening now, in an informal way that devolves responsiblity down to the coal face, as far as possible from any elected official. For example one ICU bed, four people need urgent surgery + post op ICU, who gets the bed? The youngest?  The sickest? The one with the pushiest surgeon? The one with the best contacts and the most clout?  The one who has waited the longest?  In the end people miss out and some die while waiting.  The PO specific problems of health and sanitation that you mention are real and serious, these could turn on something as non medical as no fuel for garbage trucks.

The other big issue is the great demographic discontinuity, AKA the baby boomers, with impending PO constraints on service provision, this generation will be in direct competition with their parents for access to surgery etc. At present we are doing revision heart surgery on octagenarians, this will not be the case in a few years time when an army of gray haired  ex flower power boomers with unstable angina start to line up at the door.

hmm that rings a bell..
did it happen during the summer or winter? if it was winter then i was there at the time visiting my grandfather.
Fantastic questions, and ones that must be answered. You are a great asset for ASPO Austrailia.

I'd just like to point out that re-localization alone is not a solution. The carrying capacity of any local area is limited by the resource in shortest supply. Almost everywhere, there are not enough local resources to provide for the population living there. Trade with a region that has an excess of that resource will continue to be mandatory.

As to limiting resources in the area of health care, drugs and medical equipment come to mind first. I believe it will not be possible to provide these locally. Thus, re-localization is not enough. Cooperative trading must continue, somehow. But it obviously won't be easy. Unfortunately, human health and life expectancy are going to take the hit.

Bear in mind, though, the "gold coast" neighborhoods you describe were, in many US cities, once suburbs themselves.  "Jobs, food, transportation, water, protection, whatever" sometimes consolidate where the people are, even (or perhaps especially) in suburbs.

I think it's important to remember that "suburb" can mean many things.   Certainly a suburb can be a distant-flung area in the "outer rings" requiring a lengthy commute. It may also be a nearer-in, more established part of a city surrounded by services, business areas, markets, etc.

Not all of the homes built within the past 20 years are disposable.  I think it's possible that "inner-ring" suburbs may continue to see increased demand well into the future.

Yes, but those clearly are not the "suburbs" Kunstler is referring to.  Those early suburbs, usually mixed-use neighborhoods built along train lines, are what he sees as the future.
From DIY.com

"When deciding between an old or new home, the list of pros and cons is lengthy. To begin, people often assume that workmanship in past generations was superior to what is practiced in today's workplace. Given the value denigration in much of our culture, this is probably true in a general sense. But to apply this as a blanket condemnation of current construction quality would be a grave mistake. Good and bad craftsmanship have had their place in every era, and builders with skill and integrity are by no means an extinct species.

The advantages of newer homes include up-to-date standards for structural stability, energy conservation and general safety, especially with regard to electrical systems, fireplaces and heating equipment. Also on the plus side are the lack of general wear, the modern design features, contemporary conveniences, and in the case of a newly built home, the builder's warranty. Newer homes are often (but not always) found in upcoming and developing areas, where value appreciation may be more pronounced than in localities where older homes are found. Thus, in many cases, there can be investment advantages with a new or relatively new residence.

Of course, newer homes can also be the products of low bid subcontractors, resulting in any number of faulty conditions. Brand new homes come with builders' warranties, but these provide no assurance that the builder will respond favorably when there is a problem.

With many older homes, there are also advantages, such as proven stability, established landscaping, ambient character, and antique design features. But here also, there is a list of down-side considerations. There are many issues involving deterioration, wear and obsolete design. Many older homes have been upgraded to offset these disadvantages, but such improvements are not always the work of qualified persons, nor is such work always done with a permit.

With rising utility costs, lack of energy efficiency in an old home is also a major consideration, and upgrades in this area can be cost prohibitive. Insulation in ceilings, walls and floors is often substandard or nonexistent, and old style windows waste heat almost as badly as if they were open. Old heating equipment is typically not designed for efficient use of fuel, requiring more money to produce a given amount of heat. Furthermore, with old heaters, safety problems are more likely to occur.

In many respects, the choice between a new or old home hinges upon individual considerations, such as personal likes and dislikes, long-term objectives, available time and capital for home improvements, do-it-yourself skills, age and season of life, etc. When all factors are considered, the choice should be the one that is most consistent with your practical needs, desires and finances. And as always, it should include the disclosure advantages provided by a well-seasoned, qualified home inspector."

"The suggested solution? An "occupancy tax" to discourage people from living alone. "

I'm already discouraged. How about they find  a lady willing to live with me? I like that solution better.


You might read Robert Heinlein's description of "Line Marriages" in "The moon is a harsh mistress."  Desperate times call for innovative solutions.
I might re-read it :>)
Perhaps a new nickname might help. :-)
LOL. I'd rather pay the tax.


There already is an occupancy tax. It's called a gas bill.
The storm is not heading for the gulf as per:

http://hurricane.accuweather.com/hurricane/regions.asp?partner=accuweather&site=ATL&region=H ATL&type=IR&large=0&anim=STILL

"If the system can avoid most of the islands, we project the system will be somewhere between the central Bahamas and southeast Cuba by Friday. This system could directly affect Florida early next week."

So, that would mean the east coast of Florida...not the gulf??

Last year and in other years, we've commonly seen storms like those cross the gap between Florida and Cuba and then head on into the Gulf gaining strength after temporarily hammering Flordia, Cuba, or both. I believe there are even cases where storms start out there in the Atlantic like this one, swing deep into the Gulf, then swing clear back out into the Atlantic.
What is the status of the gulf temperature? Is it hotter than normal?

1 August 2006

1 August 2005

Looks cooler than last year to me.

Dr. Jeff Masters at the WeatherUnderground posted a pair of good blog entries on this topic yesterday and today.

Definitely lower surface temperatures and generally lower tropical heat potential than last year, with one important exception. Just as last year, the loop current spawned an eddy at the beginning of the main hurricane season:

Not that it's likely to continue on its current path, but did anyone else notice that Chris is on a beeline to Houston over that new eddy? That would liven things up a bit.

could have a wee bit of a problem with the 8/13 Peak Oil conference. . .
FWIW, TheStormTrack.com doesn't think Chris will amount to much. In fact, he thinks they jumped the gun even giving it a name.
word on the street here in Houston, if a hurricane starts heading to Houston, lots of people will not be leaving, like the mass exodus last year.
Guess they plan on toughing it out, maybe they are planing on GOVT to bail them out.
By the way, there is no FEMA (fix everything my ass)

friend of mine saw that on a T shirt in N'awlins.

Last year, only one storm did this, the one named Rita....
Here's link to the NOAA chart from 2005, showing where every storm started, and went:
2005 Atlantic Chart. Note that only one storm, Rita, started where Chris is starting, and followed the path that Chris is taking.

Here is Rita's track from last year, demonstrating the point I was trying to make earlier.

thought the same thing when I saw the proposed track yesterday.

as soon as this thing hits the keys, we'll go to Defcon 3.

I noticed the exact same thing.  If this storm gets in the gulf, I expect to see a real show.  Aug 1, and we have something like this already.  I have to wonder what the price of oil will be in 30 to 45 days.  
Last year about this time I think we were floating along near $60 per barrel with some fluctuations up and down by a few dollars. Then Katrina, followed by Rita hit and oil jumped to an eye-popping $70 per barrel. Except now we're at roughly $75 per barrel and eyes don't pop anymore. So if I was going to guess, a Cat 4/Cat 5 hurricane loose in the Gulf is going to mean $80 per barrel oil, if not higher.
I'm no weather man but they say that there is a "ridge of high pressure" along the GOM right now.  If that holds when the storm comes through it will force the storm into the GOM because it will be the path of least resistance for the storm.  Think of it as trying to walk against a strong wind... it's easier to walk with the wind than against it.

My $.02


that's what the folks over in the weather pits are saying, yes.  the question as always is the depth of the ridge when it makes contact, which controls the amount of northward turn.
Well it all depends on where this high pressure ridge is located. "Along the Gulf of Mexico" does not tell me much. A high pressure ridge will always turn a storm away. Low pressures attract, high pressures repel. So where is this high pressure ridge? Which way will this high pressure ridge "push" the hurricane.
Currently, there is weak high pressure with a center over the FL panhandle (1021 mb), and an east-west elongated 1020 mb axis stretching to the east of FL. A weak 1013 mb trough is offshore of the East Coast to the north of the tropical storm, but it appears that the narrow high pressure ridge, which is between the trough and Chris, will serve to guide the storm center more westward than allow a curve to the north.


Thanks for the update, as I stated previously, I'm no weather man, I had just heard several of them yammering about a high pressure ridge... and thought I would throw that out into the meat grinder that is TOD. And if you do not post with links to back up a statement then you become the MEAT. =)
Record electricity consumption forecasted in Ontario today.

The energy board is requesting that people conserve ... until 8pm.  

I'm happy to say that I haven't seen anyone wearing a sweater in the office today (~25C inside).  Either the building HVAC guy is trying to conserve ... or the chillers can't keep up.  Probably the latter.

Killer heat wave in the northeast today. My office has enacted the "Emergency Peak Demand Curtailment Plan." Which means lights are off, thermostat's up. Employees are asked to turn off coffeemakers, computers, printers, etc., when not in use. And to take the stairs rather than the elevators if possible.

The rule they suggest for elevators is take the stairs if it's "two flights down or one flight up." Boggles my mind, that people can't walk more than one flight up or two flights down.  I never use the elevator.  The building's only four stories high, fer crissakes.

Makes one wonder what subsequent summers will be like, insofar as emergency energy conservation measures are concerned.  

It's interesting that there appears to be little difference between temperatures in South Dakota, New York and Texas this summer.  We will find out, but I assume that it is going to still be cold in the winter up north.  The overall climate in Texas may not be so bad after all.  We also have our own electric grid.  

Huzzah for Texas.  All you'll need is water, and you can't have any of ours.
The eastern half of Texas is not bad for water, especially if you install a rainwater capture system. And if climate change induces drought then all bets are off anywhere. You just can't predict rainfall levels at that point. For instance, records from the last ice age suggest that the central US was a vast desert at that time. Only with the retreat of the ice did it become a fertile plain. So on that score, your water is no more secure than anyone else's water.

We really ain't gonna switch to no electric cars, are we?

no, we are not. thank you, capslock, for being one of the few who can infer the obvious conclusion from the facts under our noses.
You're right, shortages of electricity make electric cars problematic. IMHO, however, that fact that there are no electric cars will also discourage switching.
Some twisted perspective: I'm at a federal lab in one of the areas hit by the Northeast blackout a few years back.  The lights are on, the AC's cranked, people are acting like nothing's going on, despite other folks cutting back and 112F (and rising) heat index.

And this is the EPA...

Boggles my mind that people can't walk more than one flight up or two flights down.

True., for normal, able-bodied people. But I broke my leg 3 months ago, and I STILL have to take the elevator.

And I'd like to add that I have never been happier about industrial civilization than I was riding back down from the mountains in that ambulance.

Yankees help conserve energy

In effort to assist the City of New York in reducing energy consumption during the current heat wave, the New York Yankees will decrease power usage throughout Yankee Stadium. The following electrical elements will be adjusted during tonight's game and for as long as the current weather necessitates:

  1. The left-field out-of-town scoreboard will run periodically and the centerfield Diamondvision screen will be used sparingly throughout the game.

  2. Concourse and concession televisions will not be turned on.

  3. Concourse advertising signs and lighting will be dimmed.

  4. Lower roof lighting will be kept off.

  5. Stadium air conditioning will be kept to a minimum throughout the game and will be shut down in most areas overnight.

  6. Additional measures will be taken as required.
You forgot:

  1. The deck chairs will be re-arranged.

  2. Instead of the organ being used, a marching band will play (on).

  3. Capt. Bloomberg will be in the bridge. (his "war room" bunker)
Oh yikes, imagine baseball games during the day like in the.... the.... late 1800s! Oh the horrors!
It was a lot more recent than that.

A Boomer friend of mine likes to tell me about the baseball games she went to see as a child.  She grew up in Pittsburgh, and back then, they let people in free after a certain amount of time.  (After the 4th inning, I think.)  She used to run over to Forbes Field after school, which was just in time to get in free.  She was there during Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, and saw Bill Mazeroski's famous walkoff homer.    

Yes, they used to play even Game 7 of the World Series during the day.  They let people in free, even to the World Series.  And good parents could let their little girls go to the ballpark alone.  All of which boggles my mind.  

Of course, it's all about TV now.  Games are not only at night, they're often rather late at night, especially during the postseason on the East Coast, so they air at least partly in prime time on the west coast.

Without TV, we couldn't afford to pay Derek Jeter's salary.  Heck, we probably couldn't afford to pay Bubba Crosby's salary.

Its sad...I'm in NY and I AM wearing a sweatshirt. Its like 60 degrees in my office I swear...
I'm jealous.  We're still doing the "emergency peak curtailment" thing.  It's hot and dark.  

We were informed yesterday that we should consider today a "casual dress" day, so a lot of people wore shorts to work today.  o_O

The Korea Herald has a commentary on the coming triple peak--oil, grain, and water.  I think it is amazing how matter of factly they mention peak oil.  Is peak oil much more recognized overseas?  Here is the link:
"Is peak oil much more recognized overseas?"

Here in France peak oil is refered to matter of factly almost everywhere, even in the MSM. For instance, on monday, I jumped while listening to "Les grosses tetes" on RTL, when Philippe Bouvard, between two jokes, said something like : "but you know, there soon will be no more oil. In 50 years, no more cars...".

Have a look at "The end of oil"  (it's in french) :
France 2 is a (the main) national public TV channel, the topics are fairly clear : "spies and bullshitting", "which life after oil", "the american blindness"...

It reminds me that, 18 monthes ago, when I first spoke of peak oil to my grand-mother, (she's 90 y-o), she simply told me : "ça devait arriver..." ("It had to happen").

It's as if in fact everybody knew what was going to happen, expecting it, and are now silently taking steps to be prepared for the worst.

In Finland peak oil is not recognized in the main stream media. The national-level news services dismiss it referring to the USGS and CERA forecasts, and they assert that NG will last for another 100 years on current consumption levels (although in Finland the NG usage is so small that their ignorance is understandable). I think the laymen in Finland are more educated about the facts than the MSM, since the laymen have to deal with the energy prices in real life.
that rather surprises me...I know a few really smart critically thinking Finns...
Oil’s New Price/Demand Equation

The controversies that give rise to investing opportunities aren’t only about companies; sometimes, they can be about broad issues. Today, the direction of oil prices remains a central topic of debate among investors. While most observers focus on the challenges to supply, our research suggests that the demand-side factors will be an equally important governor of the direction and speed of price changes. We’ve synthesized our views on the oil supply/demand equation as well as a host of related issues in this research piece, Oil’s New Price/Demand Equation. 7/21/2006

To relieve the suspense in advance: Because we don’t see any dramatic changes in either supply or demand occurring over the next five years or so, our research convinces us that oil prices will decline only very gradually during that period, settling somewhere in the low $40 range, well above historical levels. Not long ago the common wisdom was that $10 to $15 oil was here to stay. On that basis, producers had little incentive to undertake costly new exploration. While today’s high oil prices certainly justify such development efforts, they won’t pay off in new supply for quite some time.


No mention of continuing oil field depletion in that analysis.
I apoligize if some of this has been posted, but I am catching up after some "holiday" as those across the pond call it...

I know everyone will appreciate this story..


Record temperatures across the US turned the natural gas market on its head on Monday - forcing prices up 14 per cent as many analysts were predicting a supply glut could send them lower.

Prices had been $5.90-$7.30 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) for the past two months, from a record high of $15.38 mmbtu in December 2005.

Prices fell after a mild winter left inventories higher than usual at the start of this summer, leading to predictions of excessive supply. Following last week's draw-down, US prices closed on Thursday at $8.21 mmbtu.

So The perfect storm that was to devistate us last winter will happen a year later when general prices are already up 5-6% due to the happy printing presses at the FED.


8/1 10am
"Chris forms in the Atlantic and is a possible threat to Florida and the Western Gulf down the road"

Well, although I alluded to the fact that the disturbance just east of the islands had a chance to develop yesterday, I was a bit surprised tow wake up and see Tropical Storm Chris this morning. Chris is not the best organized tropical storm by any means. It still has northerly shear impacting it as a trough departs to the north and northwest of the system, but shear conditions are only going to improve from here out, so I think Chris is here to stay.
Alan Drake likes light rail, but what of PRT?


The ULTra guys claim it's more energy efficient than automotive transport and also conventional public transit!


I wonder how they arrived at those figures. Maybe they are comparing to busses.

This seems like an interesting compromise between scheduled light rail and private transport.

I found this link most enlightening on PRT:


Well, consider that LightRailNow! has an agenda :) But let me try a brief rebuttal (I don't really care either way but PRT has me interested).

Firstly it seems obvious to me that PRT can work, because we have a far more complex, less safe and less efficient version in deployment right now - it's called the road network. And yes it suffers repeated traffic jams, roads are unsightly, and it's very dangerous. Yet it mostly wipes the floor with public transport. The convenience of personal transport just cannot be beaten - the idea of connecting every village in England to the rail network nowadays is just preposterous even if light rail were to be used. Yet we do exactly that with the road network.

So the main problems with PRT seem to be:

Insistence on elevated skyways

Why? Presumably to avoid disrupting the already existing road network. But that's exactly what light rail lines often do - look at the Metrorail in Manchester city center to see how road lanes were taken over and large urban re-building was required to make it all fit. If you drop the elevated skyways then PRT can fight on the same playing field as light rail.

Lack of capacity relative to light rail

This is only a disadvantage if you assume an incredibly highly used network. Consider that often train services only have a few people on them! At this point it probably becomes less efficient.

Anyway I don't see why this is necessarily true. There is no requirement for fixed car sizes on high capacity routes with many similar journeys. Private vehicles are convenient but if there isn't the capacity most will go for sharing a car with others (like on a bus) vs sitting in traffic jams.

Also consider - you may get strictly less capacity but it is far more convenient. Rail has historically been incredibly frustrating for me and my friends in the past because it stops running at night - how exactly do you go out for a night on the town with no way of getting back at 2am? In Newcastle we were lucky, there is a train to Durham at 10:45pm and then another at 2am. So if your meal at a restaurant is late and you miss the train, whoops you gotta wait until the early morning before you can be back home. And if you stay in a club you have to leave by say 1:30 to get back to the station.

It should be noted that these trains nearly always run under capacity, except for the 2am train which is always packed. Why packed? Because it's the only one!

So given a choice between a less efficient PRT system or a higher capacity scheduled rail service I'll take the PRT thanks. Even if it means waiting for a few minutes for a slot to become available.

Headway distances

The idea here is because the cars are remote controlled they can all break simultaneously so you don't need as much room. I don't really see why this is a problem - the capacity figures are probably better than a standard road and we spend billions building them!

Lack of actual implementations

Well, they are trying again at Heathrow which seems like a good place to test an implementation. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

Lots of good ideas went through some failed implementations before being successful, and the handful of actual PRT systems that were tried hardly are a large set. The desktop computer springs to mind as an example.

Basically PRT-as-automated-road-system I think has a lot of potential. PRT as skyway is a cool idea especially if built properly with decent urban planning but I see no reason why it should hold the rest back.

Great insight!  How about this though?

Why not marry parts of light rail to PRT? What if both networks were available and the PRT was ran on a for porfit basis, while the light rail was ran as a govt entity.  Light rail will be cheaper, but PRT "may" be faster, less hassle, & still afford you "personal" time.

For those who want to pay a little more, you get a little more.  For those who need bare bones transportation, urban rail will take care of you.  It would be like the first class tickets on a plane.  This would ease problems people have with letting the car go "over my cold dead fingers."

Also posted on biomass thread:

Question:  is there any fundamental reason that electric trolley lines and/or light rail could not be built along power line right of ways?  They have two key ingredients already:  a ready supply of electricity and a clear right of way.

The grade might be a problem.  Power lines go right over small mountains, etc.  
I was mainly thinking of urban areas, where of course grade could still be a problem in some places.  However, here in Texas and in large parts of the the country, grade tends not to be a problem.   Where grade is a problem the lines could go through tunnels, or around, but it seems like urban power line right of ways would be great places for light rail and/or electric trolley lines.  
Dunno about Texas, but here in the cluttered northeast, power lines run along roads and highways in urban areas.
I suppose for libality reasons, some power companies will not even allow people to build parking lots under transmission lines. I'm talking about the high tension lines though. That is probably just to keep people from climbing them and such, I've never seen one fall down even in hurricanes (although I do live in Orlando-I'm sure they're not invincible but I presume they would close the train before it got that bad). It's not a bad idea, you have a ready supply of electricity and a wide open easement that's usually 40-100 feet wide.
Are you talking high tension line right of ways?  Most of the light rail I'm familiar with use 480v.
They would have to use transformers to reduce the volatage of course, but it seems to me that it would be a good way to do implement an emergency electrification of transportation.
Electric trolley and light rail lines should be located within a short walking distance of where people want to go. If utility rights-of-way run through areas of existing (or planned) density and connect existing (or planned) centers of activity, they would be good candidates for transit lines; if not, not.
"I hear those things are awful loud."

Pardon the jocularity, but I can't take PRT seriously.

TOD got Slashdotted yesterday and had a ton of new traffic. It would have had a lot more if it had remained online, unfortunately it didn't.

The discussion can be seen here for those who are interested:


(It is on ethanol/Khosla)

Two things to think about:

  • TOD gets as many comments as your average Slashdot story, but has no moderation at all. Slashcode style moderation might prove useful if only to make it faster to read threads (of course you can always put it into nested/threshold-0 mode to read every comment like now)

  • If the bottleneck is CPU time (seems likely) seeing as how the TOD pages aren't that dynamic it might be worth hooking it up to a Squid (invalidated when a comment is posted) or something so it scales better. No point constantly trying to get on reddit or digg if the load cannot be handled.
yeah, we missed that first hour.  :(  measures are being taken.

reddit and digg aren't nearly the burden that /. was...I'd say we missed 20k hits, but that's a complete guess.

Speaking of power outages, this notice was sent via e-mail to all Students, Staff, and Faculty at MS State Univiversity today:

TVA has again notified Starkville MSU Campus that we are in a power Alert 1 status. Curtailment of MSU power without notice is a high probability again today, August 1, 2006. TWO OF TVA'S MAIN GENERATING UNITS REMAIN OUT OF COMISSION TODAY. The possibility for having to kill MSU Electrical power without warning is greatest from now till when the system loads peak this evening. TVA has already asked their VPI Users to get off line today (we are now a FPI User). Please reduce any energy use you can. Back up your computer work and take action to mitigate any projects that might be in danger should we have to dump the campus load without notice. We will only do this if we are directed to by TVA but the possibility of having to do so is high.


Has anyone heard of TVA having units down? I can find no mention of it aside from the above notice.

I answered my own question:


TVA required several industrial customers across the Tennessee Valley to shut down a portion of their power Monday, amid scorching heat and the loss of a nuclear unit at its Watts Bar plant in East Tennessee.

The utility said the nuclear unit was shut down because of an apparent generator problem. The situation isn't a safety concern, TVA spokesman Gil Francis said, but could continue to affect some customers. Francis said he didn't know how long the nuclear plant would be offline.

As a former independent OG producer (1979-82)I
am in the habit of looking in the local Sunday
paper and reading the well permits and completions
for the previous week. (East Texas). I noticed
week before last there were no oil completions
and this week only one (15bbls. daily)
There were a good number of gas completions but
the production figures are far below what they
have been in previous years. I recall one 4mmcf
and several 2mmcf, but what was striking to me
was the majority were far less than 1mmcf. With
most of these in excess of 10,000 ft. depth I would
surmise they will never pay out.
welcome to declining net energy

Worms can save the world!

A luxury hotel in South Africa uses worms to dispose of organic waste.  

Organic waste on rubbish dumps releases carbon dioxide and methane, greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, adding to global warming.

"Methane is particularly bad because it has about 20 times greater affinity for heat than carbon dioxide," said environmental scientist Roger Jacques.

The worms prevent this by devouring the waste and turning it into stabilized organic matter.

The Worm Cafe: Mid-Scale Vermicomposting of Lunchroom Waste--A Manual for Schools, Small Businesses and Community Groups by Binet Payne solves both problems. Her students dealt with the real-life problem of what to do with cafeteria waste in their middle school in Laytonville, California. They developed a comprehensive program for keeping food waste separate from recyclables and veggie waste from the meat and dairy. They fed the veggies to redworms, saved meat and dairy for pigs, and shredded paper they collected from the classrooms to use as bedding. The worms turned the bedding and veggies into dark, earthy, nutrient-rich material they use to fertilize their garden plots. Some of the veggies grown there go right back to the cafeteria to feed the kids and staff. You can't beat that for recycling! And the school has saved $6000 a year from waste disposal fees since it began.


I've mentioned vermiculture before, as have others. By all reports, it's a great way to get high quality compost and return nutrients to the soil. Someday I would like to build an earthship and if I ever do, vermiculture will be part of my homestead.
It is amazing how good red worms work. We just harvested our first couple of cubic feet of compost. The only odor is that of good rich earth. It only took a few months to get this, and we split up the worms and now have twice as much surface area which will double our yield and double what we can compost. Vermiculture is great!

With all the fruit and vegies we go through down here, we generate alot of compostable material.

The news is particularly sucky these days. Sometimes you just have to go play in the dirt and forget about all the crap going on.

Gasoline's fledgling rivals: the race to power your car
As pump prices soar, the push intensifies to find cheaper and greener options.
Urban Survival posted the link to this story.

August 01, 2006
Record Household Deficit - Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?
by Paul Kasriel

I say next summer will be the beginning for many families to recognize that they can not continue playing the same game.  I say this only because of the $1.2TRILLION in ARMS that will adjust up next year.  So far we've adjusted up about $400B and the stories are all over the papers with people suddenly out of a house or not knowing how to pay the increased costs.  

I'm talking 3X as much and only next year.  The year after (2008) is suppose to be another $1T in more ARMS, so we're talking about 1/6 our housing stock by value is going to be reset at higher interest rates in about two years.  Who's going to pay for these?  I think our banks are going to be holding a lot of hard assets as they are paid back kindly for the ARM fiasco in form of bankruptcies & paper write offs.

China is #10 in windpower!

This is from Energy Pulse:


By the end of 2004, China produced 200,000 off-grid wind turbine generators, ranking it number one in the world. Chinese enterprises have mastered advanced off-grid wind turbine generator technology through technology transfer from foreign companies.

In-grid power is integrated within conventional power grids, providing the most economical utilization of wind power. China's abundant inland and offshore wind energy resources provide potential for large-capacity, in-grid wind farms. By the end of 2005, China had built 59 wind farms with 1,854 wind turbine generators and a 1,266 MW in-grid wind power installed capacity, ranking it number ten globally.

"In the long term, America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. Technologies are already proven for making coal into synthetic gas and liquid fuel, and when crude oil runs low enough that it becomes unduly expensive, we'll put this technology in the field and become a net exporter of fuel to the world."

The more I read statements like this, the more I believe that coal is the answer to peak oil. And by "answer" I mean the answer that industry, the media, and the U.S. government are going to latch onto as the designated "way out" of this crisis. "Problem solved."

Increasingly, the energy discussion is going to be shifting to "peak coal," because there is no doubt in my mind that the miracle of coal is going to be hailed as our salvation.

And the other thing that keeps echoing in my head are David Goldstein's almost parenthetical comments in his "Out of Gas" about what will happen to the planet if we actually burn all that coal. Carbon sequestration looks like a fantasy. I know I keep harping on this, but it is unsettling.

I think you are exactly right for the US. I'm trying to decide if my moral compass allows me to invest in coal stocks for 10 years or so...
Hedge your future losses now.  Bite the bullet.

I guaran-damn-tee that if the expected ROI you're looking at would double or triple your moral compass would point in the "go" direction REAL fast.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on you for that. Like I said in a previous thread, I would NEVER and I mean NEVER sell out to TPTB and just shut up and go away.

That is, unless they offered me at least $2.1 million (after taxes) in which case that 404 page will go up mighty quick.

actually, if we burned all that coal, I think acid rain and heavy-metal poisoning would get us long before climate change. Don't underestimate the destructive power of acid rain. Goodbye breathable air, goodbye forests, goodbye topsoil, goodbye drinkable water.
did I say IF we burned all that coal? I meant WHEN
no way, Berkeley. that is RIDICULUOS! I must say, if Olaf was predicting this in 1931, it must have been obvious even then that America was pre-ordained to take over the world, homogenize it, and destroy it.
Amazingly prescient and visionary predictions, especially given the timeframe.
OMG that's funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That was done by someone who reads here A LOT. I think they did Stuart pretty well <g>.  
wow.  that's absolutely hilarious!
Way, way, way too funny!  Thanks!
Gentle fun that packs a real punch. Thanks to the author! Just what the doctor ordered. :-)

What a hoot.  I can't believe whoever it was put that much time into it, but I love it.

Gotta love this, from the end of a piece over on CNNMoney.com (especially the 'logic' at the end!):

"You can't say oil won't go below $60 again," said Andrew Lebow, an energy broker at Broker at Man Financial in New York who agreed with the short-term $60 premise. "It could go to $20 or $30" in a couple of years.

When asked why he saw a price floor that's so far below even the widely accepted medium-term price floor of around $40, he responded "Who in 1998 thought it could go to $75? No one."

This guy is quoted in the MSM all the time. He is retarded and useful as a contrary indicator.
The WSJ has a front page story on Venezuela, PDVSA, and their production problems.  I'm puzzled by the production numbers.  The WSJ kept stating that Venezuela's production is 1.6 mbpd (versus PDVSA's claimed production of 2.2 mbpd).  I assume that they are not counting the very heavy oil stuff, but the article wasn't clear on this point at all.

The overall theme of the article is that their production is now going down, after rebounding somewhat from the post-strike decline.  

Lightbulb finally goes on.   It appears that they are just talking about PDVSA's net oil production--and not total Venezuelan production.
Does anyone honestly see a return to $40 oil?


From the article-
"You can't say oil won't go below $60 again," said Andrew Lebow, an energy broker at Broker at Man Financial in New York who agreed with the short-term $60 premise. "It could go to $20 or $30" in a couple of years.

When asked why he saw a price floor that's so far below even the widely accepted medium-term price floor of around $40, he responded "Who in 1998 thought it could go to $75? No one."

I love this bit:

Now that OPEC has tasted record high prices with little impact on demand, some say the cartel won't let crude fall too far - at least for now.

It's those greedy Ay-rabs.  I knew it!  

an energy broker at Broker at Man Financial in New York
So, Andrew Lebow gets paid to say nonsense like this?

I say nonsense all the time but nobody pays me for it. I'll gladly do Lebowe's job for half the price.
Concerning Kuwait: This is very interesting.

By law, the government needs to give all Kuwaitis a job, as is stipulated by Article 41 of the constitution: "The State shall endeavour to make it [work] available to citizens and to make its terms equitable."
It doesn't say that they have a right to be lazy and not work! Why not have a reward scheme, whereby employees who are active and actually work are rewarded. Those that do not, well, I can think of many ways of encouraging them...but then again, that's not my job.

Kuwait is a lot different from Saudi Arabia, but in one aspect it is obvious they are a lot like Saudi, that aspect is wasta. Wasta assures one, if they have it, that they can just be lazy, do nothing, and not get fired. There is no reward scheme for hard, competent workers in either Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

The writer of this piece says Kuwait should adopt a system of rewards for those that work hard and deserve it. Well Duh! But seriously, a system of rewards for hard working industrious workers, and a system of holding back rewards for the lazy, is totally foreign to the Arab Mind. It will be a hard sell in Kuwait and it will never catch on in Saudi Arabia. Rewards are doled out according to the amount of wasta one has and absolutely nothing else.

But seriously, a system of rewards for hard working industrious workers, and a system of holding back rewards for the lazy, is totally foreign to the Arab Mind.

I'm not sure why this is a topic for TOD but...

Be careful with your generalisations... what you say is certain true for oil-rich GULF-arab states...but then I suspect the mindset would apply to ANY nation that had a small population (~1m real Kuwaitis)... and billions of dollars pouring out of the ground.

I have lived in both countries.

It is certainly a problem in Kuwait... the jobs given to most Kuwaitis are nominal ministry "desk-jobs";  (whether they bother turning up for them every day is another question!!) and hence trying to get anything done through the many levels of ministry bureaucracy is a nightmare.

Unlike KSA... the word "wasta" does not exist in Kuwait. Wasta means power through political or family connections... power to get a job, power to avoid traffic fines, whatever... It obviously exists in Kuwait though... as it does elsewhere in the world...as we in the west also recognise in the phrase... "it's not what you know.. it's WHO you know..."

How you look at this job creation scheme is interesting. One perspective is that it is an equitable way of distributing the vast oil wealth to the general population. But since there are no incentives nor consequences... (neither carrot nor stick!!)it certainly does encourage laziness...

As I posted yesterday Kuwait males also receive large cash handouts at "coming of age" and upon marriage. Also they a guaranteed a large housing "loan"... though in popular mythology... it is said that these are largely "forgotten" after the first few repayments... O' that mortgages worked like that!!!

Canbrit, thanks for the great post. But you are mistaken about the word "wasta" not existing in Kuwait. It is an Arabic word known to all Arabs. I did not hear the word either during the five years I lived in Saudi Arabia, 80-84. The Saudis never talk about wasta to Americans. But my son who has worked for ARAMCO since 1991 comes in contact with it almost every day. He trains and grades Saudis in their Saudiazation program. It frustrates him because because people get promoted on the basis of wasta and nothing else. He says because of wasta the Saudis will never be able to run something so complicated as an oil business by themselves. Incompetents are in charge of the incompetent.

Anyway google "Kuwait Wasta" and you will get many hits.
A few:

In the run-up to the elections, we have decided to repost articles written in the past about Kuwait. Our reflections and commentary on a small strech of land we call home. "Wasta" was first published on Oct 10/ 2005.

It was terrifying because even though it wouldn't have been our fault, the police almost alwas believe Kuwaitis over anyone else because of "wasta," which means power and is what this country seems to run by, It's kind of an unspoken good ole boy system.

I TOTALLY understand the WASTA thing!!! It's like all of Kuwait works by wasta ...sigh.

And you're right about the driver's license thing! It's like if a person doesn't have a wasta, they can't and probably won't get their licence on the first try. Total corruption. Total corruption.

I was just musing further over the use of the word industrious in the above quote...

I thought I would just add... since many western readers will be unaware... that in the Gulf states there is no "industry"... (other than the oil industry...  )

The only job a Kuwaiti will do is a ministry desk job or private business owner... (even better because you can get someone manage to it for you and, essentially, do nothing at all..)

All getting-your-hands-dirty jobs are done by expats...  

So the notion of being hard-working or industrious  as we understand it in the west doesn't really apply.

GM, Chrysler, Ford sales tumbled in July

But Toyota boasts a 16.2 percent increase as rising gas prices reshape market.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Tuesday reported steep declines in July sales, a drop expected to cost the U.S. automakers a bigger slice of a market overshadowed by concerns about fuel efficiency and high gasoline prices.

The sales declines came after steep discounts fired up sales a year ago.

They can't afford the sales incentives that have helped their sales over the past couple of years.

Toyota is set to introduce their full size pickups (January 1, I think) which will likely show it has less to do with the size of the vehicle than the brand.  In other words, I expect them to sell well, even with gas near $3.00 a gallon.  

Local Toyota ads on the radio are talking about amazing discounts though, Toyota regular old sedans for 1-2% financing? Full sized trucks for 0% financing? They're doing ford/GM style promotions, so even they may be hurting.

Because, shocking as this may sound, there are alternatives to having a new car. You can get a used, all paid for, car, or a scooter, or take the bus, ride a bike at least while we're not in the rainy season*, etc.

So, even Toyota may be hurting a little - maybe people are buying Scions (toyota engines and really just low budget toyotas) or some of the Ford/GM small sedans, which are also in many cases just low-budget Toyotas under another name.)

*last winter in the SF Bay Area was like being in the Pacific Northwest - rain rain and more rain. Not a good time to be a bicycle rider, or scooter rider etc. Not sure if we'll end up in the constant rain in the movie Blade Runner but we're probably in for another wet one.  

Interesting, that could almost look like a deflationary trend ... interest rates below offical inflation.
Yeah, it seems like a small thing, but to see toyota offering interest rates so low, and even on their smaller cars, amazes me. I think it means something.
You notice it got bad for the big three, then stabilized only to see another giant downturn in sales and market share.  This is really no different than where we are in terms of the stock market.  We've started the slide back in May, now we have seen the stablization before the perfect storm starts.

Here's some comforting news:

Higher energy prices, including gasoline, are having an effect on consumer spending. Not since the first three months of 1991 have home construction, consumer spending on durable goods, and corporate purchases of equipment and software all declined in the same quarter.

That comes from John Mauldin and it's scary to think it will get worse.  

Oh yeah and I didn't find this on here anywhere but while everyone is talking about Iraq, Israel, Syria and on and on and on....the far east is priming the pump so to speak....


Seoul - A brief exchange of gunfire erupted between South and North Korean troops on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border, but no casualties were reported, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Tuesday.

Yes that said gun fire at the DMZ.  At first I thought this was posted on 1/8, but I quickly realized they are on 1/8 today.

Yes that said gun fire at the DMZ.

Probably just a couple of five-o-clock Charlies shooting at tigers.


Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican crude oil output at the nation's largest field, Cantarell, fell in June to the lowest in more than four years.

Cantarell, which accounts for half of Mexico's oil production, yielded 1.74 million barrels a day in June, a 13 percent decline from a year ago, according to data on the Energy Ministry's web site.

Petroleos Mexicanos, the country's oil monopoly, estimated this year Cantarell output would decline 6 percent this year to average 1.9 million barrels per day.


There's also this story, from about a week ago:

Oil production falling at Cantarell as predicted

Huge field off Mexico declining at a very fast rate

MEXICO CITY - Output at Mexico's most important oil field has fallen steeply this year, raising fears that wells that generate 60 percent of the country's petroleum are in the throes of a major decline.

Production at Cantarell, the world's second-largest oil complex, in the shallow Gulf of Mexico waters off the shore of Mexico's southern Campeche state, averaged just over 1.8 million barrels a day in May, according to recent government figures. That's a 7 percent drop from the first of the year and the lowest monthly output since July 2005, when Hurricane Emily forced the evacuation of thousands of oil workers from the region.

Although analysts have long forecast the withering of this field, a rapid demise would pose challenges for the world's No. 5 oil producer.

Petroleos predicted a 6% decline. Yet year over year, for June anyway, the decline is 13%. That is a steep decline rate. Can we expect Ghawar and Burgan to decline at this rate? Likely not, perhpas 8% will be closer to their actual decline rate.
Scarry stuff, 13% in a year!? Still world oil production seems to keep stable at the plateau.
Based on a 2004 list of top exporters, it appears that probably seven out of the top ten are showing lower production and/or lower exports, versus late 2005.  
Note that production from both Venezuela and Mexico is dropping.  These two countries are just days away from the Gulf coast.  
Yes, it's a steep decline, but it is only one month, and total Mexican production in June, according to this webpage, was only down by about 4% which is not particularly steep in comparison to declines seen in the North Sea, for example.

 Does anyone have the statistics for total Cantarell production so far this year in comparison to last year?

Pemex were predicting a decline of 6% for Cantarell this year, but then they predict a fall of 9% in 2007 and of 15% in 2008, so that in 2008 they are expecting production from Cantarell to be just 1.430 million barrels a day. See here.

I asked "Does anyone have the statistics for total Cantarell production so far this year in comparison to last year?"

The updated Bloomberg article answers my question:
"Production at Cantarell has averaged 1.84 million barrels daily during the first six months of the year, 10 percent less than in the same period a year ago, according to Energy Ministry data."

The article also has the following quote:
' ``The situation is probably much graver than the government would like us to think it is,'' said David Shields, an independent oil consultant based in Mexico City who has covered the industry for 18 years. ``Oil production and oil exports are going to decline considerably over the next three years.'' '

The oil column at Cantarell is about 800', and it is thinning at the rate of about 300' per year.  According to the earlier WSJ article, the worst case decline rate--based on internal Pemex reports--is up to 40% per year.  

This is the point that I have been hammering on.  Assuming that Ghawar is declining, the world's four largest producing fields are all declining.  What I have found hard to reconcile is an expectation of rising oil production, while it's very likely that the four largest producing fields are all declining.  Note that Ghawar and Cantarell acount for--or accounted for--10% of world crude + condensate production.

...on a related note...
I doubt this will help the situation much but
the Senate has approved a bill that would allow
additional drilling in the GoM.


How much oil/gas is supposed to be set free by this new legislation?
The guess I saw in today's Tribune was a billion barrels. Even if right, not exactly a a Gawar. Siven how so many recent finds have been disappointments, derate the guess accordingly.
I've seen those numbers regarding the oil column several times but can't square them with actual production declines mentioned here.  If Cantarell is down only 7% since December and only 15% since 2004, how can the oil column be thinning at a rate of 300 feet a year?  Is there no direct correlation between the depth of the oil column and the production or are we now entering into a power dive that will make the 7% since December look paltry?
I've seen those numbers regarding the oil column several times but can't square them with actual production declines mentioned here.  If Cantarell is down only 7% since December and only 15% since 2004, how can the oil column be thinning at a rate of 300 feet a year?  Is there no direct correlation between the depth of the oil column and the production or are we now entering into a power dive that will make the 7% since December look paltry?
"Is there no direct correlation between the depth of the oil column and the production or are we now entering into a power dive that will make the 7% since December look paltry?"

It depends on the configuration of the reservoir and the structure.  The use of horizontal wells is frequently used to maintain high production rates--until the water and/or gas hits the horizontal wells, which results in catastrophic declines, e.g., the Yibal Field.

I asssume that they used horizontal wells at Cantarell, but I couldn't find specific confirmation of it.  In any case, the permeability relative to water and relative to gas is higher than to oil.  From this point forward, maintaining high production rates will decrease remaining recoveries (below what they could have achieved).  Ghawar is facing the same situation.  

Good article on Cantarell (summary of WSJ article):

Regarding nitrogen in your tires: If the nitrogen seeps out more slowly than oxygen, eventually your tires will approach 100% nitrogen, right?
If the seepage rate is a function of the gas' partial pressure, then eventually oxygen seepage will slow.
So if the O² seepage slows, that still negates the 'benefit' of pure nitrogen gas, right?
I spent some time on this last month and I don't think I've seen this done before.  I took the EIA numbers for fossil fuel reserves and production (oil, coal and gas), converted them all to BTU and tried to find out the life expectancy of our fossil fueled world if all of the sources were interchangable.  I thought the numbers were interesting.  Has anyone different/better numbers than these?

   World Reserves  World Production (2004)Btu/year   
Oil 1.188E+12 Bbl   2.769E+10 bbls/year      1.523E+17 (39.0%)
NGas 6.555E+15 ft^3 9.248E+13 ft^3/yr      9.525E+16 (24.4%)
Coal 1.001E+12 tons 6.500E+09 tons/year      1.430E+17 (36.6%)
Total    3.530E+19 Btu 3.905E+17Btu/year      3.905E+17 (100.0%)

   Growth Rate            Years Remaining       
    0%                90.4       
    2%                52.1       
    4%                39.0   

A 4% growth rate would finish this crap off pretty quick if I'm correct.  And this doesn't consider even the issue of peak oil or conversion efficiencies turning coal into liquid fuel.....
(Apologies for the formatting)   

Back to the original editorial in the military.com web-site: If the U.S. government is serious about coal-to-liquid fuels and coal-to-natural gas, it should start building plants NOW.  Government needs to get proactively involved because private capital would still rather invest in exploration (much higher returns).  

Coal conversion projects are capital intensive and with long lead times (4-5 years).  We may get about 100-200 kbpd coal-derived liquid fuels added every year, but that will mostly address growth in demand and not reverse crude oil consumption.

So no chance of exporting the products like the article suggests, but still a good start.  

Quick post from Hydroelectric conference:

Excess electricity (spill water) has a cost (for Itapu in Brazil) or 0.6 cents/kWh and that might over state costs.

Grand Inga in Congo has potential of 44 GW (think 44 nukes).

A movement towards using excess to make ammonia (transports like propane).  Sunstitute some sources towarsd; also easily gives off hydrogen.  Can (I question this) be used directly as a fuel.

Lots of hydro potential left, even in US. (maximum 300 GW, practical perhaps 17 GW in 1 to 30 MW plants).

TVA is middle of 23 year upgrade of existing hydro plants; will expand capacity by 750 MW.