DrumBeat: August 11, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/11/06 at 9:15 AM EDT]

A computer scientist explains why computers won't be sustainable in the Post-Carbon Age, and offers some suggestions on peak oil and the preservation of knowledge:

The fragility of microprocessors

A project to preserve knowledge may be unable to continue in an unstable society beset with power outages, hunger, and crime. Once rationing and shortages begin, agriculture and other essential services will receive the most energy. Scientists will be unemployed. It is very likely that resource wars will erupt all over the globe, so the military will be taking a large portion of the dwindling energy resources as well.

The time to begin is now, before we begin the inexorable retreat to wood as civilizations’ main energy source.

[Update by Prof. Goose on 08/11/06 at 12:13 PM EDT] Here's a story just out on MIT's Energy Manhattan Project.

BP will try to keep half of oil field open

The IEA says World can cope now with Alaska, Nigeria oil loss

Ford heralds the demise of the SUV

Large sports utility vehicles (SUVs) will go out of fashion because of environmental worries and demographic trends, a top Ford executive has said.

Mark Fields, who runs Ford's US business, said consumers would move away from SUVs to smaller cars in what he characterised as a "tectonic shift".

The Economist takes on Really Big Oil: Sluggish behemoths control virtually all the world's oil; they should be privatised.

U.S. Lists Places Where It Could Force New Power Lines

The Energy Department took the first step on Tuesday toward designating parts of the nation’s electric grid as “critical congestion” areas, which could force New York, New Jersey and other states to allow construction of new power lines that they do not want.

Now I know we're in trouble: In warmer world, even Inuit buy air conditioners.

I know we beat the hell out of GM but I think it's well deserved.  Nice to know they're bringing back a car that just 4 years ago didn't sell, oh and it will be available in 09 probably.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&a mp;cid=1155246610543&call_pageid=968350072197&col=969048863851

"Oil prices will likely stay in the $65 (U.S.) a barrel range for the next year or so," said Carlos Gomes, senior economist and auto industry specialist at Scotiabank. "I think it will be somewhat of a head wind for the muscle car segment."

"Camaro is much more than a car," he said. "It symbolizes America's spirit and its love affair with the automobile."

Insiders say the Camaro could be a "halo car" that would help attract customers to other GM models and boost overall sales.

"In that way, it could be very significant for GM," said DesRosiers.

They're going to turn it around with this don't you think?

America needs to fall in love with something else, like trains, for example.  
America needs to fall in love with her own two feet ..... oops haven't seem them in a while!
Orthopaedic surgeons stand to make a lot of money if Americans decide on running as a commuting method. After all, a mile of running is a mile's worth of bodily wear and tear. Those miles really do add up. I already have a blown left knee from a lifetime of high-speed walking. Ny right leg, which is now favoured is showing its wear and tear with a seemingly permanent pulled muscle. It's a trade off, Do you give your money to a cardiologist or the orthopaedic surgeon as you shred your lower body?

While people in Kenya might have evolved to run marathon-like distances to commute, European type white people have not. That's why we invented cars in the first place. When a runner-commuter can no longer commute what are they supposed to do? Blow themselves up like a Palastinian? When cars are too costly to use, that's what public transit or motorbikes are for. When that gets too expensive, the bicycle will be the method of choice. But something like running 10 miles each way is all but out of the question due to bodily wear and tear. Sure, you'll lose weight that way, but the mileage on the lower body is not worth it. Are you ready to shred your legs to commute?

I doubt evolution has much to do with it, it's a result of lifestyle and not being accustomed to it.  We've only been developing alternatives to walking for a short period of our history.  It's not long enough that we could have evolved away from being able to walk/run.  When people get older they naturally have problems.  It's not just reserved for Europeans by any means.  
Not to mention: why would we go back to walking?  I'm pretty sure a bicycle would still work just fine, and it's probably better for traveling long distances.  
Detroit seems resigned to producing "nostalgia toys" for middle-aged men with a few bucks to blow.  My advice would be to package these things with 8-track tape players, a color-coordinated pot pipe that slips neatly into a slot in the ash tray, and an inflatable "girlfriend" complete with hip-hugger jeans and long, bandana-bound blond hair.
Inflatable "girlfriend" is so 70s.

Let's offer the soft-sided middle-agers the new and improved Sony Sex Machine that never says no.

One way to reduce the population as these noobs crash and burn in ecstasy.

That's so funny -- and so true. Nothing says 'peaked in high-school' like a Camaro.
My senior year I had a 97 Z28 slightly used but FULLY loaded, but an automatic.  Following high school I dumped it for a brand new hyundai tiburon with the 5 speed.  College was a bit farther drive than high school.  There were only like 3 cars that could beat that small block V8.  It WAS fun though.
I greatly prefer the Automatic over the Stick. I tried a Stick, but I'm not co-ordinated enough to use it. The Automatic nicely allows for the "just sit back and fly" type driving expierence. Since motorcycles have a "Stick" my poor coordination sank that try. :( The first gear is awful herky-jerky! So long as a vehicle has the Automatic (or if it's a jet) I'll gladly drive it.

The trick of The Stick is that while it will give better fuel economy, it takes some coordination on the part of the user. The Stick was invented becuse the internal combustion engine runs best at one RPM speed but a car must be able to go from zero to a desired speed. The electric motor is a lot better match than the car engine. The innovation with the hybrid comes with how the controls are like a normal car with an Automatic. Previous attempts were always with extra switches or the like that'll require the new owner having to learn them, like that Stick.

The thing about the Stick I don't like is the bit with having to do the clutch. The Automatic has that "fluid clutch" thingy which causes it to act like the case of boating. Step on the gas, and you get the desired thrust. Step off, and you glide. A zillion times easier than messing with a clutch and a hand on the gear shift! I would end up preferring a British side drive car in the case of having to do a Stick instead of an American side drive Stick car. That's becuse I drive with my right hand on the teering column.

I had a '95 Camaro, 275 HP, 325 LB torque, 6 speed stick.  It was fun, and scary fast.  I remember saying to the salesperson that I didn't dream in my 70's high school days that I'd be able to buy a big V8 20 years later.  The future seemed different back then.  I guess, in retrospect, mid-90's gas prices lulled me into thinking they had found more oil after all.

Interesting that they finally went with an independent rear suspension on the whole Camaro line.  The solid axle would stick pretty good on smooth surfaces, but hit a pot-hole near limits of adhesion ...

Anyway, on the other side of the coin,

GM, Daimler, BMW Will Spend $1 Billion on Hybrids

I think they want to sell a few more Camaros to the poor dumb SOBs (like me) who think they had found more oil after all ... when they wise up, maybe they'll have hybrids.

odograph, we've all been there. When I recall the nights I spent pointlessly tooling around town burning GTO (gas, tires, and oil) like there was no tomorrow, I feel my facial muscles draw up in an involuntary grimace. Good thing we grew up, eh?  Hope it wasn't too late:-)
I spun my touring bicycle (w/ nobbies and panier) up to 22 mph (22 mph!) to pass some kids last week.  Funny how you can get the speed outlet in the 20 mph range, and do the body some good.
You might like to have a look at

Especially if you live in a hilly region.

odograph, I've been doing the same.  A couple of years back, I dusted off my trusty Shogun touring bike and now bike to work as often as I can.  It's a great way to fend off old age.  I highly recommend it.

Siggi, that looks pretty good. Do you think I could add an auxillary seat to accomodate my inflatable "girlfriend?"

Hmm, I am afraid she might fly away.
my work bike, it sees about 15,000 miles a year


pretty typical of what us messengers ride these days, just meat and potatoes, its all business

A fixie!  I don't think I could do it .. old dog, new tricks.
actually its both fixed or singlespeed with a freewheel, just flip the rear wheel around

at 40 yrs old im the oldest guy here still slinging packages

Pretty neat!  I had read something recently about messengers preferring singlespeeds.  Seems a good choice in town but much of my commute is over hilly terrain.  
Well, once youve been riding regularly for quite awhile gears really dont help much cept for racing, I just got back from watching the state criterium championships here, put in about 65 miles today on that bike. Unless the hills are over like 12% and/or more than about 2-3 miles long its really no big deal.

The reason we like bikes like that is its harder to break something, although stuff still breaks, just not as often as with a geared race bike.

"Unless the hills are over like 12% and-or more than about 2-3 miles long its really no big deal."

Got that, the other, and both at the same time.  Plus the real beauty...gravel roads.  So I require both a decent set of gears and fat tires.

Those damn bike messengers. I once had one damn near run me over in downtown Chicago. They sure get crazy! You'll have to be pretty crazy to take up that job, so the rest of us have to give them credit, since it's due. Better to be almost run over by a bike messenger than some idiot yuppie's horse-sized dog.
Sweet ride Pedex!! Everything that should be there, nothing that shouldn't.
Amusing... I still have a '95 Camaro.  I drive it about 500 miles a year and it still gets 27 mpg.  No more cruising in this car, it's lucky to make it to hardware store with the amount it's driven.
GM will turn it around, when the Cubs win a World Series. For nearly a decade, I have asked Cubs fans this question:

Which will happen first? The end of global civilisation? Or the Cubs winning a World Series?

My bet is the collapse of civilisation first, with 1908 being the last time ever for a Cubs World Series success. The above question is a no-brainer for any peaknik. Some time down the road, Wrigley Field will be a ruin like the Roman football stadium in the middle of Roma. And the Cubs will still be without a championship like the White Sox have before the "end of days".

Just a fun fact for the doomers in the TOD crowd. :)

ASPO critique of the most recent Cambridge Energy Research Association Repot at the Energy Bulletin

"The global consumption of oil is now around 31 billion barrels per year and the discovery in 2005 was only 8.95 billion barrels according to CERA and they show that the average world discovery rate the last 11 years is 11.5 billion barrels p.a.. The bulk of these discoveries comes from regions that were opened up for exploration after the collapse of Soviet Union and from exploration in deep water. We can now see a decline in the discoveries in these regions and we expect that this decline also will give an overall decline in discoveries worldwide."


But what about reserve increases in existing fields?  Focusing only on discoveries seems a hollow critique.
 It's like Mr Deffeyes says,"You can't put reserves in the tank of your car."
 I agree with him that it's actual production that counts.
But the ASPO critique is not based on production numbers per se, but on the differential between discoveries and production.  Their argument is that we're consuming more rapidly than we're discovering; ergo, we are going to run out sooner than CERA is projecting.  Discoveries, however, are a single source of reserve increases.  ASPO does not once mention reserve increases in existing fields, a substantial contributer to reserve increases.  

That's why the critique is incomplete.

"More things can be said about the report, but it is obvious that it is not worth $2,500. Part of the report is based on data not open for the public and the obvious reason for this is that CERA seek to make money from this hidden information. Oil production figures and data on reserves are of greatest importance for the global future and these should be available in the public domain as is the case in Norway and the UK."

Closing sentence of Prof. Alekletts critic

 I'm not sure that reserve increases are a good indicator of future production. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that indicates reserve information is a very poor indicator of future production because it is often manipulated.
 Also, we may see large revisions down in reserve data. Royal Dutch Shell oil revised theirs down a couple years ago, I think by a large % of their total reserves and Kuwait has acknowledged that their reserve estimates may be inflated by quit a bit.
 All of OPECs reserve estimates have been questioned and more transparency in how they estimate reserves has been asked for but I don't think the Saudis have been forthcoming with answers or clearer info.
 That may be why ASPO focusses on discoveries as a predictor of future production instead of reserves.
 Your question is fair , I don't have a definitive answer.
From what I can tell most of the OPEC reserve increase are actually camel dung accumulating on top of the field. There waiting for advances in CDTL ( Camel Dung To Liquids ) before they announce to the world the true nature of the large upward revisions in reserves that they have claimed. SA for example believes CDTL will provide them a 2 million bpd cushion in production.
But what about reserve increases in existing fields?  Focusing only on discoveries seems a hollow critique.

I am sorry JCK, but were you under the impression that reserves in the ground actually grow? I know oil companies sometimes, or used to anyway, periodically, upgrade their reserves due to deliberately low-balling their guesstimates in the first place. However this was a practice of publicly owned companies. Nationally owned companies change their reserves for different reasons, as did all OPEC nations in the 80s. They upgraded reserves for quota reasons. But existing reserves do not grow.

Shell, in 2004, had to downgrade their reserves because they had originally overestimated them. The Shell downgrade, in my opinion, marked the end of so-called "reserve growth". We can now look forward to "reserve shrinkage". OPEC reserves are way overestimated, perhaps by as much as 50%.

This is a terminology issue.  I am not advocating abiotic oil, but your statement that existing reserves do not grow is technically incorrect.

Oil in place does not change.  A fraction of the oil in place is classified as reserves, which is the portion which is expected to be produced, based on various (geology, economics, etc) models. Usually over time, greater portions of the oil in place are converted to reserves, and the reserves numbers are accordingly revised upwards.  

BP provides a good explanation of the terminology here.


So, in a given year, typical x amount of oil is discovered, and y amount of oil is converted from oil in place to reserves.  ASPO's critique is based solely on the former number, which is my original point.

Whether or not OPECs reserve numbers are correct is a completely separate issue.  

JCK, this is what I think you are talking about. There are two factors here; I will cover them one at a time.

The ratio of reserves to oil in place for a given field is often referred to as the recovery factor. The recovery factor of a field may change over time based on operating history and in response to changes in technology and field economics. The recovery factor may also rise over time if additional investment is made in secondary recovery techniques such as gas injection or water-flooding that augment the natural pressures within a given reservoir.

Yes, over time, water flooding and gas flooding increases production but there no evidence that this actually increases the amount of oil that can ultimately be recovered. Cantarell, in Mexico is a good example. Gas injection drove the production from about 1 to 2.1 million barrels per day. That did not increase the UUR one iota however. Of course water injection increases the amount of oil that could be recovered without water injection. But we have been injecting water in wells for perhaps half a century. All current reserve estimates are based on the exception that water will be injected, as in the vast majority of cases, it already is being injected. In fact, Saudi now starts injecting water right from day one. The Haradh 3 section of Ghawar came on line in February and started immediately injecting 520,000 barrels of seawater per day to produce 300,000 barrels of oil.

My point is JCK, all these things have already been figured into the mix. Probable reserves already include all these things.

There is an observed tendency for recovery factors to rise over time: another aspect of reserves growth and a major factor behind increases over time in estimates of ultimate recoverable resource made by organisations such as the US Geological Survey.

This is a sticky point. If you had been following the Peak Oil debate over the last six or seven years, as many on this list have, you would understand. A little history is necessary. The Securities and Exchange Commission will penalize a company for overstating reserves. It also plays havoc with the stock price if a company must downgrade estimated reserves. Therefore it has always been the policy of all publicly listed oil companies to understate reserves. Later, as they got a better handle on actual reserves of a given field, they could gradually upgrade them. This created the illusion of what the USGS calls "Reserve Growth". However this was always only a phenomenon of publicly listed companies only. And also, as Shell proved in 2004, it is largely a phenomenon of the past.

In the past decade, except for new discoveries and accusations, reserves of companies simply have not grown. They have already drained all they can get out of upgrading the reserves of all their large fields. These reserves are now shrinking, as would be expected when one pumps the oil out of them.

And, the past reserve growth of OPEC countries is not a separate issue. Reserve growth advocates point to OPEC's reserve growth as an example of how reserves grow over time. But only an elementary examination will show that there was no real growth in OPEC reserves. OPEC announced in the early 80s that each country's quota would be based on each country's proven reserves. This prompted each country to dramatically increase its reserves, doubling them in some cases.

There is little to no chance that current reserves will grow. They have all been milked for all that can be gotten out of them. All future growth in a companies or a nation's reserves must come from new discoveries.

From CERA's press release:
"During 2000, unconventional liquids represented 16% of global capacity, and by 2006 this had grown to 24% of the total," they write.  "We expect this strong growth to continue to over one-third of total global capacity (38%) by 2015, especially if E&P companies believe that the oil price will remain high."

88.7 mbpd - 24% = 67.4 mbpd. This is close to the ASPO estimate for regular oil for 2005. Anyone know if CERA is using the same definition of conventional liquids, i.e. total liquids minus tar sands, deep water and natural gas liquids?
CERA's 2006 update projects a short-term rate of capacity growth in 2005/2006 which is slightly lower than its May 2005 report as a result of slower Canadian oil sands expansion, a lack of capacity growth in Iraq, new project delays in Iran, political difficulties in Venezuela, lower growth in Russia, lower North Sea performance levels and hurricane-related difficulties and project delays in the Gulf of Mexico.
Excuses, excuses, excuses

We see much of the lost ground being made up by 2010, along with an increase of about 4 mbd in our global estimate by 2015, with the inclusion of GTLs in the outlook along with new discoveries and existing field reserve upgrades in non-OPEC areas
I see, maintain your prediction by adding in another category of liquids. Next time will CERA be adding in CTL?

Light vs Heavy Crude

Contrary to what seems to be a common belief, the overall proportion of lighter liquids is expanding faster than heavy and extra-heavy crudes, according to the CERA report.  Although the market seems to be very focused on heavy and extra-heavy crudes, there is a strong trend toward an expanding stream of light crude, condensates and natural gas liquids (NGLs).

Jackson and Esser's analysis indicates that extra-heavy oil productive capacity will more than double from approximately 1.9 mbd in 2006 to 4.7 mbd in 2015.  However, this increase in dwarfed by a four-times-larger rise in gas-related liquids capacity, from 15 mbd to 26 mbd during the same time frame.

No need to admit to a peak in light crude oil, just substitute gas-liquids.
This is a question about reserves.

A while back Stuart did a post about reserves.  The OPEC reserves were the usual flat with a couple of delta function increases in the recent past.

The non-OPEC data was more interesting. Generally the reserves have kept increasing, then flattening out over the last 5-10 years.

My question is, how can this be?  We've been pumping out a lot more oil than we have been discovering, especially over the las 5-10 years.  So what explains the small rise/plateau in reserves?

It seems to me the answers must be some combination of technology and price.  I'm skeptical of the price angle since as recently as 2000 the price of oil was near historic lows.  There was no noticeable dip in oil reserves due to the lower price (which would presumably make some formerly economical deposits uneconomical to recover).

Finally, I find it difficult to believe that technology can really make up the huge difference between recent production and recent discoveries.  But I suppose it's possible.  Any light anyone can throw on this situation would be greatly appreciated.

(I believe you mean step-function increases, not delta-function.  A delta function has zero width, infinite height and the area under the curve is 1.)
I've been thinking about knowledge preservation lately.  I don't have many suggestions for the "how" beyond archival paper or inscribed metal, but I do have an idea for what might be useful to a future society inflicted with knowledge loss.

It has occurred to me that the majority of all fundamentally useful knowledge can be found in carefully selected portions of a K-12 curriculum.  If we can assume that society retains  fundamental reading skills along with sufficient context to grasp the significance of the information, the contents of good high school textbooks would be invaluable.  I'd include such fields as the physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, psychology, sociology, history etc.  I might forego the economics texts lest our descendants be tempted into the same traps we were.  I would include some good ecology texts though, along with a copy of Catton's "Overshoot" to explain what the heck happened.

Unless knowledge is actually useful to the receiver I don't expect it to last very long.  Right now we are in the middle of a massive knowledge loss event.  The vast majority of us (in the west) don't need to know how to run a family farm so that it is self sustaining and so the knowledge base is slowly dying off.   I don't really expect it to be fully recoverable from books.  You can preserve a few nuggets of knowledge in books but to preserve a complete technology in written format you would have to consiously write the book with the awareness that the reader is not going to have anybody around to pass along common simple concepts.      
I recall many things that the Roman Empire had discovered from the standpoint of structural improvements such as geometry to errect large buildings, concrete that set under water, the beginnings of a clock, medicine (they actually removed cataracts in Roman times, or maybe Greek Empire times, I forget) were lost for maybe 1,000-1,200 years.  The loss occured within a couple generations too if I recall... I watch the discovery and history channel WAY TOO MUCH...

It's just another one of many transitions throughout history... another dark age, followed by a rennissance, some type of build-up (but not on oil) followed by another dark age...

In the grand scheme of things, our current "oil empire" is just a blip on the screen... Anyone who believes differently has not read enough history.

"The loss occured within a couple generations too if I recall... "

I imagine that with just a little bit of a societal hiccup, it wouldn't be hard at all to lose a ton of information/knowhow/ability.  Just consider today how specialized everything is.  Each person only holds a tiny piece of a puzzle, take out that one little piece and the puzzle is fecked.  There doesn't appear to be much redundency either.  The more something/someone becomes specialized, the fewer there are because the more expensive it/they becomes.

The most critical field is agriculture, and the knowledge base has shrunk tremendously with the elimination of the family general farm. (agribusiness has little applicability once the petrochemical industry gets too expensive.)

I have been collecting books on general farming/organic gardening, and one can go a certain distance with them, but one has to rediscover a huge number of things as one goes along. Some things are better transmitted in person.

Also, some of the great classics like Fukuoka's "One Straw Revolution" are virtually impossible to find. It took six months to finally get a copy from India.

Presumably we're going to have to go back to gardening/small scale farming in a big way in the near future, but the skill set is rapidly vanishing.

I'm reminded of certain cultural practices in China, such as opera etc., that were virtually stamped out under Mao, but have made a remarkable comeback, because a tiny number of old codgers still knew how to do the old routines. Hopefully farming will fare better.

Books on farming are all well and good but the other aspect of small homestead type farming as opposed to commercial is the genetic components - seeds and livestock. Both the crops and livestock used by large scale commercial operations are very different from what is desirable for a homestead. Even if you know what you need finding a source for self-sustaining seed and livestock varieties may be difficult post-peak. You probably need to already be building at least a base set of crop seed that you can grow and keep from year to year.
seeds and livestock.

Beside the "official" seed banks readied for doomsday there are more practical approaches:
Seed Savers
Kokopelli Seed Foundation, outstanding tomatoes.

I specially like the Black Krim

http://www.soilandhealth.org ... great website and e-library of agrigulture e-texts. Thanks for the title recommendation -- they have that title there, and so I just sucked down in PDF form. w00t. May its information contribute to my survival and that of the species.
Good idea, but IMO the K-12 is excessively watered down and sugar coated and have huge omissions.

If you want to preserve essential knowledge, most of it is in the 1911 "scholars' edition" of the "Encyclopedia Britannica." Later editions were watered down. The 1911 edition assumes that readers are familiar with calculus, French, and Latin and does not hesitate to tell you how to do some interesting things with chemistry.

H.G. Wells's "Outline of History" was largely based on rewritten excerpts from that edition.

For more recent knowledge, I'd use the finest college textbooks. For example, for a calculus text, use Apostle, a real math book. Many texts at the undergraduate level are now sugar coated, dumbed down and omit much useful information.

"Handbook of Chemistry and Physics" is good to have.

Any of several large unabridged dictionaries are very good to have around; I like the Oxford dictionaries and Webster's Second International.

For practical means to preserve knowledge, see "Lucifer's Hammer," by Niven and Pournelle.

I remember reading somewhere that now most books are printed on poor quality paper which will not last very long. I find it tragic to think my extensive library could one day be reduced to waste... Does anybody know exactly what the difference is between modern (cheap) paper and the good quality paper from, say, the 19th century? I've got an excellent Latin dictionary, printed in 1880, which is still usable (not a single missing page!), but many of my other, much newer books are coming apart.  
There is an explanation of paper ageing here
Chief culprits are alum used in sizing causing acidity and
acidity from wood pulp absorbing SO2 from the atmosphere more than cotton or linen rag pulp used previously.

Archive quality paper is available if you want it.

Libraries are treating selected acid paper books & papers with a method to neutralize the acid (high pressure gas for hours I think).
One of these days, TPTB will wake up and rediscover hemp. Used as a source of pulp for paper, it requires far less acid and much milder bleaching agents, and is much more durable than wood-pulp fiber. It produces significantly more fiber per acre than cotton. Protein from hempseed is easier to extract than protein from soybeans, and can be used in essentially all of the same ways. Fiberboard made from hemp is significantly stronger than fiberboard made from wood pulp. Growing hemp requires far less herbicide and pesticide than most other field crops. It grows nicely in most parts of the US and southern Canada. After the fiber is removed, the remainder is an excellent source of cellulose for various applications; presumably that would include cellulosic ethanol. Any reasonable plan for much more localized production of things like paper and cloth should include hemp. And, of course, it has been illegal to grow as a crop in the US since 1937.

In college, I had a summer job working at an ag field lab on a site that was formerly a large (square miles worth) munitions storage facility for the Army. During WWII much of the acreage had been planted in hemp, primarily as a source for rope for the Navy. Once established, hemp is hard to get rid of, so ravines and stream banks were still covered with the stuff. Periodically, the hippies in Lincoln (which tells you how long ago this was) would find out about it and sneak into those areas, believing they'd found the motherlode. They were always crushed when I pointed out that (a) there was no way they were going to get high on that stuff, and (b) everyone was laughing at them, including the local cops.

Paper mills = significant source of PCBs
This is a problem with books printed between ca. 1850 and 2000, and with poor-quality more recent books. In good books, you will find a page facing the Contents, or two or four pages before that, that has the printed where/when information, often a couple of disclaimers, and the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Somewhere above the latter, if it is a good book, you will find something like this:

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

Copyright (c) 2000 by Wiley-Liss. All rights reserved. ...

Most textbooks and scientific journals are now printed on acid-free paper. A book like this will last 200 years or more if stored properly, maybe even 1000.


Having dug very deep into scientific papers I found that the paper trail in journals eventually leads to papers and a few books that really describe how to do certian things.

The one area that is very difficult to find information about is industrial chemical processes not that it does not exist just that its not readily available.

There are lots of cool books the Foxfire series is invaluable.
One of my areas of research related to localization is the concept of a chemical plant in your backyard its amazing what you could produce at home given a machine shop and initial access to some decent stainless steel. Micro tube reactors offer significant throughput and excellent heat control for example. Fluidic processors are fasicinating for plant automation. Ceramics/Glass can also be used to substitute for steel in most if not all industrial process
except were pressure is a problem. Even here I suspect that
ceramics layered with carbon fiber could work.

The key is continued trade in a few exotic metals for catalysis but in a lot of cases copper and iron make fair substitutes. Also fermentation is a good approach for a wide array of industrial chemicals on a small scale. Even sulfuric acid can be produced biochemically.

The concept of a backyard or village chemical plant is
a lot of fun to persue.

I'm hoping my chemistry degree will get me a nice cave

Don:  Love the books you listed. I have the 1911 "Encyclopedia Britannica."  My father purchased in college. Onion skin pages. He always told me if you need the truth about History always check for verification, after 1914 everything is distorted. Also "Marks Mechanical Engineering hand book."
BTW the Lake Trout are enormous in lake La Ronge, that would be north of Saskatoon. Wow what a world this is, its hard to digest all the happenings in the past 30 days. TOD is my brief. Thanks to all the contributors!
My preservation system would be either microfiche on a durable film or something like the old Viewmaster viewer and discs.  Both could be viewed using sunlight.

BTW, I still have several boxes of Steroptican slides (and a viewer).  They're probably 70 or more years old and still in excellent shape.  Each slide, besides showing a 3D image, has a blurb on the back discribing the photo.

Heh, didn't the Energy Bulletin just have an article on peak oil as an apocalypse cult? I mean seriously, even if we grant her the civilization-as-we-know-it-is-at-an-end premise, the author makes a lot of huge assumptions and assertions in the article that are either not true or are just plain odd. Here's a couple of them that stood out to me:

First of all, apparently she thinks that most of the world's knowledge is kept only in computers. I'd argue that that is a false assumption. Sure, there is tons of data in computers, but most of the actual knowledge -- the conclusions that we draw from this data -- is also in printed form. And there is a whole hell of a lot of it; far more than at any time in the past. Even given rampant looting and burning and chaos and so on, a lot of it's going to survive the collapse.

She further makes the assumption that whatever groups that survive the collapse would spend their entire time and energy trying to keep their computer knowledge databases going and totally ignore the printed record to rodents, decay, and the cookfire. This is just ridiculous. If you are a group who wants to preserve knowledge and you know that your electronic storage is not sustainable, you are not just going to sit there and nurse it along until it dies.

She then claims that we need something better than paper and clay tablets to preserve knowledge, to which I reply "Why?" If it was good enough for civilization all the way up to this point -- including pre-industrial civilization, I might add -- why is it not good enough for the future? Because it doesn't last? The answer to that one's easy: you copy it onto a new medium.

Frankly, I read an article like this and just cringe, because although I believe that there are going to be hard times ahead even I don't think that humanity is just plain rock stupid. This author, on the other hand, apparently does.

"I don't think that humanity is just plain rock stupid. "

Yeah, that whole "lets build 20,000 nuclear bombs" thing was damn smart of us! With accomplishments like that you gotta ask yourself, "what sort of a-hole would ever suspect we're little more than a bunch of dumbass chimps who have mistaken the capacity for complexity for actual intelligence?"

I agree. I like to put it this way:
Humans are very clever, they are not intelligent.
I don't want to see the oh-so-precious knowledge get preserved. In fact, that's the worst thing I can think of.
I confess, reading that article, A Canticle For Leibowitz came to mind.
If it was good enough for civilization all the way up to this point -- including pre-industrial civilization, I might add -- why is it not good enough for the future?

Because it is not "good enough" for our CURRENT civilization and you don't seem to understand how much.
If we were to fall back to printed media only we will loose the capability to INDEX and SEARCH the enormous volume which has been accumulated, Google, Google Scholar, CiteSeer, CiteULike, Connotea, Rexa...

Loosing the microprocessors will not just mean having no Ipods and video games, embedded microprocessors are everywhere not just in silly washing machines, large software applications drive everything from banking to industry process.

Did you read CAREFULLY the arguments about the manufacturing of microprocessors?
No chance to run that in a place like Somalia is today...

What we really lack is a model of technological DEPENDENCIES, but it will be REALLY SCARY...

Furthermore there are likely domains where we CANNOT scale back because we have already lost the previous technology, this does not apply only to farming.

It's not just knowledge; it's the ability to accomplish bedrock tasks, like bookkeeping.

I computerized the accounting system of a large construction company about 20 years ago, took it from paper to disk.

Going back to paper would be possible, I suppose, but it would be really difficult. Few people know how to do paper based accounting, but also we've become dependent upon features of computerized accounting that would be devastating to do without.

This harks back to Joseph Tainter, who points to the declining marginal rate of return from information gathering and processing as a reason for "the collapse of complex societies."

Complex societies require information processing. The more complex, the greater processing required. Ours requires mind boggling amounts of it.

And without computers, how would you do it?

Don't know about balancing that GL. I concede it would ugly to go back to T accounts. But for many purposes, you'd be quite surprised what can be done with an Abacus. And rather quickly too. But expecting your grocery store checker to tabulate at speed with beads might be a real stretch. Those scanners allow you to hire an compleat dufus and still get it right.  

There are always slide-rules. We designed airplanes, targeted artillery, navigated, all manner of complex things with slide-rules. Trouble there is: you have to understand relationships. We've kinda fallen out of that habit with business calculators and drag and drop spreadsheets.  

The database shortfall would be hideous. We might be back to knotting strings like the Inca <g>. We would certainly need to push fiscal responsibility lower and adjust management hierarchies significantly. Which again, points to needing significantly educated employees at almost all levels of an org.

Plus, there would be no keyboards. People would have to write legibly. Imagine that.

You don't get it.

Electronics aren't going anywhere.  We can make an electronic calculator (and the hardware to run a cash register) with less energy than it takes to build and run a mechanical one.  You can power an electronic calculator off the light from a desk lamp, ferpetesakes.

We can go back 10 years or more and still make some pretty damn good low-power stuff out of CMOS.  If we can keep our current fabs going, laptop processors and MCU's for embedded systems can be very thrifty with the ergs.

Huge computation arrays and massive database back-ends might go by the wayside, but systems that you can power with a generator on a foot treadle are still very useful for every-day and can run a great deal of what we consider to be "modern civilization".

If we can keep our current fabs going, ...

Because I live in "Silicon Valley", I get a good chuckle out of the way this thread has been developing. It's a classic case of the blind men poking around different parts of the elephant.

There was a time when "real men" owned fabs out here in Silicon Valley, California. You could drive around and spot tank farm after tank farm (where hazardous gas tanks like phosphorous, etc. were kept).

"We" don't make too many chips anymore in "Silicon" Valley. The silicon is gone. Even the design work is fast off-shoring away.

What Friedman was trying to write about was how energy intensive the whole semiconductor fabrication porcess is. Large amounts of energy are consumed to make single crystal silicon (i.e. blank wafers). Large amounts of energy are consumed to "grow" thermal oxide, to implant source and drain dopants, to pattern the metallization layers, etc. etc. Friedman was asking about what happens when we no longer can afford all these energy sucking steps.

Sure the end result, the low power CMOS RISC processor, is a wonderful engineering achievement. But how do you get to have one in hand? What did it take to manufacture it? What did it take to manufacture the production equipment (i.e. Applied Materials etch tools) that make the chips? What happens when you run out of plasma etch chamber "consumables"? ... out of sputter targets? The fab doesn't keep running by itself forever and ever --sorry to say.
 It is a huge and complex infrastructure.

You don't get it.

I think that might be my point. There's an awful lot to get and the getting must be done from a lot of people, across a lot of disciplines, across a lot of geography, including oceans, and political systems. The dependencies mean the design knowledge, the manufacturing knowledge and the raw materials supply chain is very fractured.

Your criticism assumes that if electrons flow, we're good. I appreciate your treadle power example. But I am speculating about a bit more chaos: that the manufacturing chain contracts and the ubiquity of electronic computers/components shrinks.

What happens if computers become very expensive again or components less reliable?

What happens if you cannot source and fly in, via private jet, that critical sub-assembly when your system goes down?

If petroleum resource wars ramp up, and that is not a big assumption, your easy chip days are over, treadle or no.  


Thanks, Joseph.
  Wish I had written it myself.  This is largely where I come from on this issue.

  Part of the question for me is what of our current knowledge is actually important to keep, and what is more or less 'chaff'?  The scientific literature is, as far as I know, being published, shared and archived.  Highly technical business processes may be hidden in encoded CD's or entombed on HardDrives, but they are part of that deadly 'complexity' to start with, right?  Some paintings, songs and plays will survive, many won't, but not for lack of our copious duplications and piracies..

  We could lose tons of our precious accomplishments, movies, trade reciepts, Opinionated Blogs.. but who's to say these things are essential for our functioning even as a sophisticated, literate society?  Most essentials will get transcribed, told, shared, if we are down to the essentials.  Other skills will be learned again if they're needed.  We'll invent new tools, write new songs.

  ..and I'm not convinced we will let go of electricity and  solid-state switch and amp, which is at the heart of the computer.  Electronics and communications will give us advantages in securing food supply, trade, etc.  We wouldn't let them go, and I don't think we'd have to.  We might have to 'get smaller'.. and backtrack on a bunch of miniaturization, though.   Before miniturization got as far as it has, there were processors built with much less vulnerability to microscopic deformities that would be hardier and less 'precious' to create and sustain.  My old 8088 still runs.. it won't last another generation, surely, but a reengineered '88  or Z80 today could be made to run cool and last for decades.  Text is fine with me..

And then if it does tank.. well,  I think my Mom puts it well when she says that every stage in life is a process of letting go.  I don't want to wake up on the other side of this dream desperately clinging to 'the stuff' I had in it.

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."   Goethe

the contents of good high school textbooks would be invaluable.

Knowledge and know-how go WAY beyond textbooks and any kind of documentation, a large part is in people brains, "best practices" and usages.
I has been said that neither the Apollo Cabin nor the Concorde could be reproduced today in spite of all the documentation being available (sorry I don't have the source).

Guh, this is a the sky is falling article.  Worst case scenerio:

1)People will stop using super duper energy hogging processors so they can play video games.

Mad max scenerio:

2) Computers will shut down at night because that is when solar cells won't work.

A computer scientist explains why computers won't be sustainable in the Post-Carbon Age

Bull.   Unless there is a total collape of society, the usefullness of electronics will make sure some production will happen.

Want to argue that CPUs use alot of power and need a diet, sure.   Want to argue that uses like Xboses will stop, sure.

But 'computers won't be substainable'?   Needs like space-shots to put up weather satilites, PV cells, motor controls will keep CPU production happening.

I agree on all counts, Eric.

Additionally, even suggesting a link between oil and chips is silly--you make them with electricity, only about 5% of which comes from oil in the US.

Like the author of this article, I have a long background in computers and a decades-long energy interest (plus an economics degree), and I don't even begin to see the connection she's trying to draw.

As for the power needed to run microprocessor-based systems, that's dropping dramatically thanks to much more energy efficient chips, especially the latest Intel products.  (The chip guys have finally figured out that it's far more efficient to run two or more processor cores on a single chip at a fast speed than it is to run a single core as fast as possible.  The current level of integration is two cores/chip, with fours in the works, and talk of eights not too far out.)

As for the whole issue of preserving knowledge--yes, that is a legitimate problem and one that I would very much like to see addressed with more urgency than we're showing today.  But it's decoupled from energy concerns.

finally figured out that it's far more efficient to run two or more processor cores on a single chip at a fast speed

Don't discount the effets of CMOS over TTL or even ECL.  Apple's Newton 2100 shows howw useful a computer can be, and how little power it can draw.  (under 60 mA at under 5 volts.   Some people fit the machine with hand cranks)

Indeed. People should keep in mind that today's computers are maximized for speed and capacity so that they can play games, see movies, and store porn.

Look at the more urgent uses we have for computers: storing and searching through text, bookkeeping, email.. Really, the important things we do on the Net make the Net nothing more than a glorified telegraphy service. A very important service, but one that can run on hardware stripped down from today's.

Without Quake and iDVD, a computer for reading email can be made from far fewer transistors. Those transistors can then be far larger (going back a decade or two..), which makes them easier to make (less energy, less stringent clean room conditions), and cheaper to operate.

Unless we really are heading for a dieoff, we should be able to keep the Net running, useful, and storing important data. No Youtube, though.

But it's decoupled from energy concerns.

Try writing that with you computer unplugged.

In contemplating a Mad Max, post-civilization scenario, it occurred to me that much of the basic knowledge one would need to start over again resides in the older editions of common technical handbooks.

Just briefly glancing at the bookcase where I keep reference material and technical books, I think the following partial list from that collection would help get us off to a nice start:

  • Practical Blacksmithing

  • Henley's Formulas for Home and Workshop

  • Chemical Engineering Handbook (Perry, early ed.)

  • Mechanical Engineer's Handbook (early ed.)

  • Home Mechanics Handbook (old)

  • Merck Manual

  • Handbook of Applied Mathematics

  • Handbook of Chemistry and Physics

  • Encyclopedia of Machine Shop Practice

  • Practical Woodworking

  • Audel's Plumbing and Steamfitting Guide (old)

  • Roper's Engineer's Handybook (very old, steam)

  • Rodale's Build it Better Yourself

  • Rodale's Getting the Most out of Your Garden

  •  U.S. Army Survival Guide

Now this is just a partial list from a single person. If that were to be combined with contributions from other survivors, it would not be hard to build a solid body of practical knowledge to get going again.

The older handbooks are far better than the newer ones, as they deal with things on a more basic level and include a lot of technical lore that is of little use today but would be invaluable in a Mad Max world.

So, I am somewhat optimistic that it would not be for lack of available technical  knowledge that we would fail to rebuild.

Such failure would far more likely result from the basic human tendency for a group to make war on the neighboring group in order to take their things of value rather than make those things themselves.

I have a ten volume set of the International Library of Technology, 1920 edition, which suddenly seems more valuable than it did when I picked it up.
Hello Joule;

You want my  "Reference Data for Radio Engineersz" fourth edition when I go?  It's in excellent condition:

old hermit -

Sounds good!

I forgot - and most young people aren't even aware of - how popular amateur radio used to be, even up to about the late 1950s. There were a bunch of amateur radio magazines, and ham radio operators were almost a cultish, tightly-knit group. (Maybe they still are.)

My parents once got me a little lradio kit for my birthday one year, and I have fond memories of soldering all those resistors and capacitors.  When I got done, it sort of worked, and that was a most satisfying accomplishment for a 10-year-old. (Can't exactly make your own iPod, can you? )

Of course, the transistor killed all that. But it should be remembered that tube radios are not susceptible to damage from the electromagnetic pulse (EMP)  of a nuclear explosion (or so I'm told).  The same is true for the older cars with a points-and-breaker ignition. So, if and when we finally do the dirty deed and have a nuclear exchange, after it's all over, I will be happily cruising in my '68 Beetle while my neighbor will be stranded in his Lexus crippled with a fried electronic ignition. (Plus, the spare ignitions in all the auto stores will also be fried.)

Yes, low-tech has its place in the larger scheme of things.

A crystal set makes more sense since no juice is required.  I had one until I went to college (1956) and my folks threw it out (along with a lot of other great stuff, especially my trapping handbook). They are pretty simple to build - either AM or FM ones.  I still have a few galenas (which are sort of passe' now).  I went into Radio Shack about four years ago to see if they still produced kits for crystal sets and the kid looked at me like I just got off the boat.  Do a google search.
Todd -

Man, this is turning into a real time trip!

I also once had  a crystal set, and it actually worked fairly well.

You know, the young generation appears to be virtually without skills that would enable them to survive in a Mad Max world. They can't build anything; everything they use has been bought in a big box store.

They can manipulate all the latest electronic gadgetry, but don't have a clue how it all works.

They drive all sorts of cool late-model cars, but if they had to lift the hood, they would know what the hell they were looking at.  I think these  people will be quite helpless should TSHTF. Of course, some of the more resourceful ones will make it just fine.

And that is what is encouraging, somewhat. Somewhere, someone will pull it out. While outwardly I  have utter contempt for today's young people, down deep I know that they are just as strong and resourseful as any in the past. It just will take more extreme conditions to draw that quality out ... once they have to get rid of their iPods, Rasberries, and whatever the hell they have plugged into their heads.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that, in spite of outward appearances, young people will eventually pull through.

Don't despair too much.  There are lots (LOTS) of kids out there doing some very cool stuff.  They're not all at the skate park.(Which is pretty cool, too)  My daughter is 3, and is far more interested in the 'battery' than the toy it powers.  It's Jameco and the Robot Store these days, but I still go into Radio Shack, mainly out of Nostalgia/Loyalty/StubbornHope.

RE: Building your own IPOD..  my brother linked these to me..  

"..just randomly I happened to run across a site tonight that has
DIY projects similar to what we were talking about.


The project that drew me to this site is a home-made MP3 player, housed in an Altoid's tin! This woman also has designs for a USB to Serial port converter, a mini Ethernet connector, a dimmable halogen bike light using LiIon batteries, and bunches more.
infrared winamp remote

adaptive ambient light for movies
http://www.hackaday.com/entry/1234000090073787/ - blog article on hackaday
http://divxstation.com/article.asp?aId=151 - direct link to article

bedroom "mood" lighting - includes some simple circuits for dimming leds

guy with interesting projects and an online store for electronics parts

optically isolated parallel port i2c adapter

1-wire wireless router

  1-wire and i2c are simple communications busses that are supported
  by a lot of free software - these two links contain further links to sites
  describing the technology and software, and projects folks have made
  with them

large page (with popups) about using parallel ports, hardware and software

"They can manipulate all the latest electronic gadgetry, but don't have a clue how it all works."

Electronic gadgets like that are so rediculously complex I wonder if any one person actually knows how they work.

"They drive all sorts of cool late-model cars, but if they had to lift the hood, they would know what the hell they were looking at."

I'm guessing you meant "wouldn't", but I'm not sure anyone knows what the hell they're looking at when they pop open a late model car's hood.  You open the "hood" on your beetle and what do you see?  The engine (with carburetor on top).  Open the hood of a modern car...and you see a plastic table and a shitload of wires.  WTF?  Where did the engine go?  The people buying the cars just shut the hood really quickly and purge whatever they've just seen because "hey...the car goes, it's new, looks cool, no problem"  the engineers and the people who built it just had to put it together at the factory, drop it in and forget about it...they don't have to fix it.  There have been a few examples of brilliant engineering in which you actually have to lift the engine partially out of the car to change the spark plugs.  The plethora of crap that can go wrong on a modern car basically requires you to use a computer to interface with the on board diagnostics to determine where in the miles of wires something might possibly be wrong.  God forbid should you have an actual mechanical failure you wind up spending three hours pulling sensors, 4 unbolting half of the engine that has nothing to do with the problem but you have to do it to get the clearance, 5 minutes fixing the problem, and six more hours putting it all back together.

"While outwardly I  have utter contempt for today's young people, down deep I know that they are just as strong and resourseful as any in the past. It just will take more extreme conditions to draw that quality out ... once they have to get rid of their iPods, Rasberries, and whatever the hell they have plugged into their heads."

Can you really blame them all that much?  They've been taught to be that way, by their parents, the TV (their parents the TV?)...society, basically...the society set in motion by those who came before.  It's just an extension of the consumer society that what you're actually doing is buying an image and not a machine or buying a service and not a machine.  We've been taught to become detached from the reality of an object and only worry about the service it provides.
Here's a better thing to feel utter contempt over...complexity.  The need to be so specialized in a single field that it completely overrides the ability to gain sufficient knowlege and skill elsewhere.

addendum re books for a Mad Max world:

  • Whole Earth Catalog (1971 ed., lots of cool stuff)

  • Several stacks of Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Ilustrated from say 1935 to 1950 (chock full of quaint how-to projects and technical tips that seem trite today but would come in very handy. These magazines are a great reminder of how resourceful Americans once were and to extent Americans once made and repaired all sorts of things themselves.)

  • Crouse's 'Automotive Mechanics
  (Hey, even Mad Max needs to service his machine once in a while)

  • 'How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive' 1971 ed. [John Muir's classic hippy-oriented guidebook for old Beetles. Great if you have one (I do). A pre-1972 Beetle would make a great car for a Mad Max world: ultra reliable, simple, and easy to fix]

  • 'Guide to Gunsmithing' (self-explanatory)


Which uses more energy?  1 Computer, or the 10 secretaries it replaced?  Computers have enabled MASSIVE productivity growth in the last 20 years.  

I got in an argument with a Pat Larouche supporter out on the street the other day.  We started talking about how the United States has exported it's industry.  "We don't make anything anymore."  We were in agreement up to this point.

Then he started telling me how we needed to get back to the days of FDR.  Build more roads.  Build more dams.  Create things!  Egads.  

I'm not happy that we've shipped all of our industrial processes overseas, but we do still produce things.  Biotech.  Nanotech.  Computer Programming.  Wireless technologies.  These are the things America is creating now.  

He told me computer programs were just "bits" and weren't really anything.  I told him he just didn't get it.

I'm not happy that we've shipped all of our industrial processes overseas, but we do still produce things.  Biotech.  Nanotech.  Computer Programming.  Wireless technologies.  These are the things America is creating now.  


Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.

Want to argue that CPUs use alot of power and need a diet, sure.

ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT, like many of the replies.
The problem with computers is the level of technological expertise needed to BUILD them not mainly the power supply.
You guys should really READ the papers before commenting...

ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT, like many of the replies.

And you know this because?

You gonna hand-wave, or you gonna defend your position?

Come on, show WHY there is no need for CPUs to go on a power consumption diet.

The problem with computers is the level of technological expertise needed to BUILD them not mainly the power supply.

The level of technical expertise is a sunk cost.   Unless everyone who knows how to make them are killed and the data on HOW to make them is destroyed,

Alice Friedemann is making a claim that all the energy and effort going into mircoprocessors will stop - per
Jared Diamond collapse.  

My claim is, barring a BIG collapse of society, the making of electronics is too damn important for society to just walk away from.   High current switching, data communications, gettign sattlites into orbit to watch the weather...all needs that giving them up won't happen unless there is such a widespread collapse that we are back to secret is "banging the rock together".

You guys should really READ the papers before commenting...

You might want to start with yourself.    Start by showing why what there is no reason for CPUs to go on a power diet.

eric blair ol' buddy a BIG collapse of society is exactly what we have coming.
eric blair ol' buddy a BIG collapse of society is exactly what we have coming.

That may be what we have COMMING, but is that what we going to get?

And you know this because? You gonna hand-wave, or you gonna defend your position?

eric, you should back off here (step back). Kevenm.. is correct on this topic. I posted above with less hand waving and more tech talk. Had not gotten down to this ad hominen branch of the arguments. Everyone is well meaning here. They just don't have all the information in hand. The world is complex ... very complex.

Kevenm.. is correct on this topic.

No She is not.

eMergy discusses the idea of how the mental effort for a process can become a sunk cost.   The processes to make silicon chips are so well understood that man has made machines to automate the manufactoring.

Once you have a verified mask and process, the claim of "its hard" is, well, bunk.  

Design and proving out a design is what requires technical expertise....the building, not so much.-

Once you have a verified mask and process, the claim of "its hard [to do]" is, well, bunk.

Who is the hand waver now?
Let's say you got your (1) verified mask in one hand and your (2) process recipe on a piece of paper in the other and you even have a "fab" full of the latest steppers, etchers, etc.

Word comes in though, that Hakim is sick  today and won't be coming to work.

"Who gives a flying sh*t about Hakim," you yell, "the production show must got on! I've got my masks and recipes. That's all I need. Everything else is pure BUNK."

"But sir," insist your loyal underlings, "Hakim is the guy with the magic touch who knows how to mix the chemicals just right each day to make it go. We never get exactly the same batches of sputter targets, the same batches of photoresist, etc. And lately, to be frank sir; quality and consistency have been going downhill. We don't quite understand why ..."

There is a lot more to making a chip than a mask and a recipe. The fab needs a constant supply of high quality materials and people to keep it going, to fix things, to assure consistent quality in all factory inputs, to quickly diagnose problems when things are not going right. Break just one link in the delicate chain and the whole ecosystem can come tumbling down. It's not as slam dunk and turn-key as they make it look. There is a lot of encapsulated complexity behind the facade of simplicity.

Who is the hand waver now?
Let's say you got your

That would be you with the 'lets say'.

"But sir," insist your loyal underlings, "Hakim is the guy with the magic touch and (2) process recipe on a piece of paper in the other

If one person 'has a magic touch' - then the process isn't documented is it?

Break just one link in the delicate chain and the whole ecosystem can come tumbling down.

CAN  Ms, Alice is claiming it will and we'll be burning wood.  And to supprot her claim she trots out the purity of the silicon as the 1st step.

Now, why don't YOU explain why demand from the PV sector will cause the chemicals and processes of making wafers to go "poof!"

The level of technical expertise is a sunk cost.

Ha! Ha! Another contender for twisted dialectics!
This is NOT a matter of "cost" of a single plant even if this is $3 billions, it is the CONTINUED AVAILABILITY of the technical expertise which is questionable.

You might want to start with yourself.

Gratuitous derogatory assumption.
I read the paper yesterday, BEFORE it was on this thread!

And you know this because?
Start by showing why what there is no reason for CPUs to go on a power diet.

I did NOT say that "there is no reason for CPUs to go on a power diet", they could and would.
I said that this is NOT the stumbling block.

You gonna hand-wave, or you gonna defend your position?

Hopefully not all are IDIOTS on this thread and Jimk already provided ALL the suitable arguments, which of course odograph started bullshitting about (same employer may be?).

Many thanks Jimk for sparing me the trouble.

I advise you to refrain from commenting about odograph. Some of us have memories. Don't start. You've been warned already.
I advise you to refrain from commenting about ME.
I could be enticed to comment about you.
Do you want to start?
You've been warned...

You are a stalker. We cleared that up a few days ago. You apologized. Stop commenting about odograph before somebody calls the FBI.
Comment about ME all you want. Look up my IP address. Tell everybody my phone number and address. A bunch of people here would like that. They would love to call me. So you would make some friends. We all know you have those skills.

Do it.

Comment about me. It might be more interesting than the shit you usually post. Look at it as a career opportunity.

Swell. He's run through the Seagram's 7 and gotten into the Absinthe.

What gives man?  This site is for discussions about energy...science politics etc related to them.  Go get your high school annual look up whatever guy kicked your ass or girl who ignored your phone calls and pester them like a normal stalker.

Matt Tipton

I am fortunate enough to be gainfully unemployed and can use my real name, but that was not always the case. And it is not the case with many industry insiders who post on this site.

Threatening to "out" people has a chilling effect far beyond the spat that started this escalation.

People quarrel all the time on this site, but personal threats such as this are unacceptable.

I urge that this (threatenign to "out") be made unacceptable, and that perps get 86ed. One warning? No Warning?

How should we proceed to make this a binding rule?  

if it was my forum, I'd boot the person AND ban their ip the moment they made the threat. no warnings or second chances. that type of thing is a major red flag. you don't need that type of bullshit.
Thanks everybody above, it makes it easier to count my friends.

Still I see a few ones missing...

BTW AlphaMaleProphetOfDoom :
you don't need that type of bullshit.

Right, there's already a lot bullshit here but this is part of the game.

Also, a bit of technology advice: you cannot ban a dynamic IP and banning the IP will not prevent a truly malevolent guy from hacking your personal details.
So what's the point?


You are the guy at the party that keeps talking louder to force his opinion heard.  You are agressive and anoying chill out and quit threatening people either directly or implied.  If you choose to debate someone post facts/links and leave personal shit out.  


it is the CONTINUED AVAILABILITY of the technical expertise which is questionable.

So you are in agreement with me about a major collapse.  

The text by Alice Friedemann is claiming that the process is too complex to be kept going because of a lack of energy.

I claim her position is bullshit WRT 'production will stop due to a lack of energy'.  As long as governments have the power of force, the need for silicon for the weapons of war and the utility of weather satalites will keep silicon in production.  

The market needs for power switching and power conversion by wind and PV will keep silicon in production.

The level of technical expertise is a sunk cost.
Ha! Ha! Another contender for twisted dialectics!

Not in the model of eMergy.   Given your post, English is not your native language, correct?

Jimk already provided ALL the suitable arguments,

Really?   Exactly WHERE does he mention power electronics?  
Or a desire to extract electrical power from wind or PV?

Many thanks Jimk for sparing me the trouble.

Of what, the trouble of you agreeing with me?

A LOT of bullshit as usual, let's debunk it.

So you are in agreement with me about a major collapse.

This is Stratagem XIV "Claim Victory Despite Defeat"
There is not a single instance on TOD where you show as a believer in collapse.
On the contrary you DOUBT it will happen "but is that what we going to get?"

The text by Alice Friedemann is claiming that the process is too complex to be kept going because of a lack of energy.

A glaring lie, you stand corrected by the author:

I never make the argument that it takes too much energy to make computers or that computers use too much energy.

The market needs for power switching and power conversion by wind and PV will keep silicon in production.

Again this is not about just any "silicon" nor "power" components but about COMPLEXITY of the supply chain for microcomponents manufacturing.
This is Stratagem XXIX, diversion, trying to move the discussion to a vaguely related but irrelevant topic.

Not in the model of eMergy.

An attempt at Stratagem II Homonymy, raising arguments only related to the topic by common vocabulary.

Really? Exactly WHERE does he [JimK] mention power electronics? Or a desire to extract electrical power from wind or PV?

This is diversion again.

Of what, the trouble of you agreeing with me?

I am pretty sure that everybody can see that WE DO NOT AGREE.

As well as the fact that JimK DID provide detailed explanations about the fragility of infrastructure for computer manufacturing.
enviro attny did it too and this relieved from the trouble of detailing those arguments myself, so that I can tackle your LIES.

It is interesting that a handfull of posters at TOD seem to have for sole purpose to discourage meaningful debates by countering EVERY sensible argument with lies and deceit.
I wonder what it means...

Your argument would be so much stronger if you answered politely with facts rather than with repeated barrages of hominen rants.

Keep pumping "facts" into the dialog:

  1. How complex is it to manufacture blank silicon wafers? How much energy is consumed in the manufacture? How many different technology specialists are needed to make it happen?

  2. How complex is it to manufacture patterened silicon wafers? How much energy is consumed in the manufacture? How many different technology specailists are needed to make it happen?

  3.  How complex is it to dice, test and package "chips"? (Hint: they are not potato chips)

If you start "educating" your detractors, you won't have to spend all that excess energy spitting down at them. Peace.
Your argument would be so much stronger if you answered politely with facts rather than with repeated barrages of hominen rants.

The girl is going that route because she can't actually argue the point.

Her next step will be to "out" the poster.

" .  . . a BIG collapse of society, the making of electronics is too damn important for society to just walk away from."

Romans probably said the same thing about the making of concrete.

Romans probably said the same thing about the making of concrete.

As I remember from Roman Concrete and Masonry....the idea was you kept your job by keeping the method secret.

In the case of silicon making, it is documented all over the place, and many nations have many people who know the process and many more that have the ability to learn how.

So, barring a worldwide collapse that does 'a canticle for leibowitz', silicon will keep being made due to its usefulness in switching power and transfering information.

It appears we have a large selection of expensive, technical items which are "too critical" to be allowed to pass on. So we will invest ever increasing percentages of our resources to keeping them going.

At what point do we have to do triage?

I think the author's point is that computers don't last very long, and that their production requires enormous investment and resources. If our resources and ability to invest decline, keeping each of these things (computers, communications satellites, etc etc etc) going becomes increasingly unsustainable.

Which means at some point the process breaks down.

I think the author's point is that computers don't last very long,

Computers, barring static zaps and power surges last a long time.   Migration of doping agents limit the lifetime of chips.   Last time I read up on it...25 to 50 years.

The software that runs on them, not so much.   Viruses, poor quality, competing on adding "features" all add to churn in the market.  Churn that provides growth.

Now I have 15 year old microprocessors doing their dedicated tasks.  I have old z80 systems still doing the dedicated task I coded for them.   And I have 8 year old 486 systems running the latest versions of BSD unix, doing what they do.

All of these far longer than the 2-4 year lifetime being bantered about.   Why?  Because I'm seperating the software from the hardware.

Don't confuse the software with the hardware.   The maluability of software is what makes the CPU so valuable.  

This poster

expresses WHY CPUs will continue.   The utility of the internet and the desire to have humans to communicate (and a desire to correct the wrong-thinking of  Kevembuangga ) will keep some form of internet functional.  The utility of space shots to monitor the weather.   Same with a desire to be able to switch and use electrical energy.  

Because if Alice Friedemann is correct when she says "
The time to begin is now, before we begin the inexorable retreat to wood as civilizations' main energy source. " the resulting die off after stripping the planet of wood means printing up books on Al cans won't matter because the planet will be dead to the aerobes and taken over by the thermophilic.

Because if Alice Friedemann is correct ...

Wait a minute. Now you putting all her words in our mouths? No one said she is 100% right. Only that she raises a good point. High end semiconductor fabrication is at risk due to Peak Oil. Just for example, if PV manufacturers start competing with IC makers for polysilicon, then IC prices might rise to levels that make ownership of state of the art computing difficult.

If you want to keep chugging along with your Z80, be my guest. BTW, I just threw my Trash80 out of the garage. It hurt. So much nostalgia. But then again nostalgia isn't what it used to be.   <:-0

High end semiconductor fabrication is at risk due to Peak Oil.

Ms. Friedemann is arguing the end of the microprocessor and going back to wood as the energy source.

I've been stating such a position is wrong, save a total collapse.

I won't argue that the high end which drives the latest Xbox arn't at risk.

ust for example, if PV manufacturers start competing with IC makers for polysilicon, then IC prices might rise to levels that make ownership of state of the art computing difficult.

Ms. Friedmann has made the statement "
Creating a chip begins by cutting a thin 12 inch slice, called a wafer, from a 99.9999999% pure silicon crystal, one of the purest materials on earth."

If a price drop is a function of volume increase, having MORE polysilicon demand should lower prices.   Statements about the PV industry constantly harp on 'when volume goes up, prices will drop'

But state of the art sub micron processers need 1/4 million + stepper motors.  Making PV cells don't need sub-mircon and 1/4+ million dollar steppers.  

Looks like the state of the art microprocessors have bigger risk factors than the ingots.  

Besides, things like this:
and the stolen electrolyte are enough to bring down a machine.   Other than hard-core doomers who have us burning wood and shoot each other, no one is arguing there won't be capacitors.

If you want to keep chugging along with your Z80, be my guest.

Why should I invest in a different controller when the one that works is still working?   The lower end of the market isn't going to go away - unless there is a total collapse.   In which case, getting food and not being shot will have more importance.

Ms. Friedemann is arguing the end of the microprocessor and going back to wood as the energy source.

Well obviously all 6.5 Billion of us can't go back to wood because if "we" 6.5B do, very soon there will be no forests and no planet.

"In the case of silicon making, it is documented all over the place, and many nations have many people who know the process and many more that have the ability to learn how."

Do you have any concept of the number of fab machines, the infrastructure, utility and manpower requirements involved in manufacturing a semiconductor plant?  You are talking about 10 or more different engineering and construction companies, hundreds of people (just in the design phase), equipment manufacturers out the ass, etc. etc.

It is a hugely expensive, hugely complicated process.  Any significant reduction in the world economic complexity, and things like semiconductor fabs will not be built.  Furthermore, existing ones will quickly shut down because of the lack of ability to provide ongoing maintenance and obtain equiment/raw materials.

Once the existing network of engineering/manufacturing/design for these types of systems is gone, it will basically be gone forever.  You can't go the design drawings and operating manuals and build a fab unless you have the entire support industry in place.

This applies to basically any complex part of modern civilization.  They all rely upon a complex web of supporting infrastructure to operate.  Once the web breaks, the entire structure has to be rebuilt.  

Do you have any concept of the number of fab machines, the infrastructure, utility and manpower requirements involved in manufacturing a semiconductor plant?
It is a hugely expensive, hugely complicated process.  

Yes.  stepper motors that cost 1/4+ million a pop as an example.  The position of Alice Friedemann is that "
The time to begin is now, before we begin the inexorable retreat to wood as civilizations' main energy source. "   If wood is the MAIN source of energy, that means we don't have heat pipes to make a 'simple' water heater, or the glass to make the evacuated part of the heat pipe.   At that point, the resulting scramble for resources means the planet will become dead due to war or stripping the surface of anything that can burn.   And her 'lets save the knowledge' position won't matter because there won't be humans to use what get saved.  

Sub micron and layering methods mean lower power and more chips per wafer.   But you can build microprocessors with micron and larger sizes and still obtain much of the benefits of the microprocessor.   Sure, you won't get your porn or your X box, but the communication system will still exist, as will power switching.  

It is a hugely expensive, hugely complicated process.  Any significant reduction in the world economic complexity, and things like semiconductor fabs will not be built.

Again, bull.   Humanity would have to be getting rid of wind machines and photovoltaic panels.   The usefulness of electrical power would mean a dedication of capacity to making sure the power semiconductors and small CPUs will continue to be made.  

A reduction in makers and the wild diversity in production, sure.   But elminiation?   Only under a total collapse situation.

Well, sure, if you want to fall back to a reductionist idea that the Intel 4040 may rise again, I have no quarrel with you. But who wants to go back to the stone age of computing? I though we were talking about losing our Pentiums and higher.
I though we were talking about losing our Pentiums and higher.

No.  Ms. Alice Friedemann is arging the END of microprocessors.  

But who wants to go back to the stone age of computing?

Who said anything about going back to a 'stone age'?   The internet ran on 16 bit machines for a long time.   The stone age lacked PALs and programmable DSPs.   32 bits, PALs and some DSPs are all doeable with micron and larger processes.  Same goes for the modern power switching electronics.  

In the case of silicon making, it is documented all over the place, ...

You must be kidding.
Have you ever heard of "trade secrets"?

For example in this brag post, they say,
"Specifically, the company uses several trade secrets and patented processes to deposit atomically thin layers of material to form the wafers that are then used to manufacture state-of-the-art integrated circuits for cell phones, fiber-optic networks, and vehicle collision avoidance radar."

You must be kidding.
Have you ever heard of "trade secrets"?

Again, these are somehow NOT documented?

Just because you don't have the documentation does not mean it is not documented.

For the 'loss of process' to happen the company and its documentation would have to be lost too.

At that point you are back in the 'total collapse' land.

eric blair wrote:
But 'computers won't be substainable'?   Needs like space-shots to put up weather satilites, PV cells, motor controls will keep CPU production happening.

It's not that computer's won't be sustainable -- computers are already unsustainable.

As Friedman clearly explained in the article, computer chip manufacture is heavily dependent on very specialized chemicals. Now you have to do some thinking for yourself and draw some conclusions (I know it's asking a lot, but try it).

Where do complicated, specialized chemicals come from? They are created from basic molecular building blocks.

Where do these molecular building blocks come from? Oil and other fossilized remains.

Do you really think peak oil will not affect computer chip manufacture?

It's Peak Oil not No Oil!

I'll be the first to admit we're on a massive binge right now, but as supplies decrease prices will increase, and those technologies which provide the most benefit for the least cost  will continue, if not thrive.

Do you beleive we're all going to back to tilling soil and milking cows by hand in 2011?  You're nuts!!  

Maybe I'm biased since I work in the computer industry, but we're going to need computers more than ever in a post peak oil world!  I can pay my bills online.  I can communicate with people all over the world, have discussions, share information.  I can collaborate on knowledge bases (Wikipedia), open source projects (linux, MySQL), download tax forms, pay bills, view pictures...  

All of these things are going to become MUCH MORE IMPORTANT post peak oil.  Which is more efficient energy wise, flying 5 guys to London for a sales meeting, or using video conferencing technology?

Maybe I'm biased since I work in the computer industry
I also work in the computer industry. You should be terrified to learn that I help produce the control room software that keeps the electricity grid functioning. I can't believe I work here, either.

we're going to need computers more than ever in a post peak oil world!
I think that all depends on your view of the post peak world. There are so many things that can happen, it's really hard to say what will be more important and what won't. I agree that teleconferencing is much better than flying. However, I am not convinced that your sales meeting will be necessary or even desirable. I am also not convinced that computers or teleconferencing will even be possible in the long-term (decades time scale). Computers and the internet are complex beasts that require a lot of care and feeding.

You're nuts!!
I get that all the time--hence the moniker.

yeah like the 5 sales guys are even going to have jobs to teleconference about post-peak oil! that you would even use such example proves you SOOO don't get it.

the problem is our infrastructure, system of finance, etc. don't need to run out of oil to be kaput. let's say we had peaked in 1996 when production was about 70 mbd. Today we use 85 mbd. If the decline rate was 5% we have about 45 mbd at our disposal instead of 85 mbd.

a 40 mbd a shortfall in only 10 years? You don't think that would have introduced MASSIVE discontinuity and dislocations into complex endeavors by now? would we all even be here discussing this stuff or would we have more "immediate" concerns?

How many people working in sales of anything other than guns and drill bits would even still have jobs at this point?

A lot hinges on depletion rate.  I'd move off the fence if I really knew what the decline would be, as well as when it would start.

5% next year would really shake people up.

I'm less convinced by "complexity" arguments because they themselves hinge on depletion.  What do you need to maintain complexity?  People and energy.  We've got plenty of people :-/

It's not that computer's won't be sustainable -- computers are already unsustainable.

Based on the claim of a post on energybullitin.net?

I say the claim is bogus, unless there is a major collapse.

Now you have to do some thinking for yourself and draw some conclusions (I know it's asking a lot, but try it).

And I know its asking alot for YOU to understand, but I'm going to try to actualy provide you with an education.   Try to keep up.  Oh and stay on your meds Crazy Pat.

The needs for the highest tech - weather sattilites and the medium tech - power switching, means production will continue.      The war machines need the same tech, so the government will make sure such technology and the resources remain allocated.  

If governments loose the power to influance production, then yea, the tech will go away.

Do you really think peak oil will not affect computer chip manufacture?

Only volume.    The basic tech will be in use so long as we have the desire to harvest energy from the wind and via PV.

Unless you have some magical methods that harvest electrical energy that does not use semi-conductors and microprocessors to control these semi-conductors.

Based on the claim of a post on energybullitin.net?
My position that computers are unsustainable is based on my understanding of physics and ecology. It is not based on Alice Friedman's article, although I think she articulates many facets of our predicament very well. Her article brings up great points that people should understand and discuss.

Sustainable means something that can be continued indefinitely. Our techno-civilization is based on massive quantites of energy derived from unsustainable sources. We are facing a imminent decline in the availability of energy, and most importantly of that most useful form--oil. There are no sustainable replacements in place. We are now at Peak Oil (IMO, in Deffeyes opinion, and in many others' opinions).

In a world in energy decline, demand destruction will be mandatory. Where and how this occurs is the million-dollar question. Chip manufacturing is extremely energy intensive. Creating rocket fuel is extremely energy intensive. Will these survive the energy decline? It depends how we decide to allocate the remaining (and ever-declining) amount of unsustainable energy.

If governments loose [sic] the power to influance [sic] production, then yea, the tech will go away.
An iron-fisted government may be able to allocate energy as it wants for a limited time, but not indefinitely.

Will we decide to continue our current, wasteful "needs", or will we invest that energy in the capital needed to harness sustainable energy sources? I say we will not be able to build enough new infrastructure in time.
Game Over for computers.

Oh and stay on your meds Crazy Pat.
Don't worry, I take them twice a day. And I will continue to do so until I can't get them anymore due to the decline of the pharmaceutical companies.


you wrote:

"The war machines need the same tech, so the government will make sure such technology and the resources remain allocated"

I would say you are correct if you add the words "for military use." at the end of the sentence.

Where do these molecular building blocks come from? Oil and other fossilized remains.
Oil is a brew of all kinds of chemicals which must be refined for most uses.  Name one of these building blocks which can't be made from e.g. bio-oil from fast pyrolysis or bio-methane (and perhaps more easily than from crude oil).
Alice Friedmann's thoughts about what to leave our descendents in her "The Fragility of Microprocessors" raises some interesting value questions, indeed questions about who we humans are.

We humans are creatures who naturally search for meaning. One of our deepest impulses seems to be to define ourselves, to try to answer the question, "Who are we?" THAT'S who we are, in a sense: the animals who ask, "Who are we?"

We are all interested to some extent in that question, whether or not we are philosophically inclined. For instance, the mass appeal of the science-fiction theme of visitors from outer space or of the recent scientific search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) suggests an interest in who we humans are. Looking out there into the universe at large is really like looking into a mirror. Listening with our radio telescopes for signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence and trying to figure out what to broadcast really involves asking, "what does it mean to be human?"

That is the sort of question we need to think about in trying to decide what thoughts, arts, and things to preserve for our descendents, given the possibility of cultural collapse of some sort. How do we decide what to preserve? What is useful? What has lasting meaning or beauty? For whom?

I remember this question being raised vividly and interestingly in quite a different context some years ago by the oncologist/writer Lewis Thomas in his LIVES OF A CELL (1975). He tries there to imagine the "conversation" between ourselves and intelligent beings in a distant solar system.

I hope you all won't mind my quoting three paragraphs from Thomas's essay. Even though it addresses a very different possibility, it does seem to suggest several criteria we should bear in mind if we try to speak to Alice Friedmann's thoughts about what to leave our descendents.

Thomas writes:

Let us assume that there is, indeed, sentient life in one or another part of remote space, and that we will be successful in getting in touch with it. What on earth are we going to talk about? If, as seems likely, it is a hundred or more light years away, there are going to some very long pauses. The barest amenities, on which we rely for opening conversation--Hello, are you there?, from us, followed by Yes, hello, from them--will take two hundred years at least. By the time we have our party we may have forgotten what we had in mind.

We could begin by gambling on the rightness of our technology and just send out news of ourselves...but we would have to choose our items carefully, with durability of meaning in mind. Whatever information we provide must still make sense to us two centuries later, and must still seem important, or the conversation will be an embarrassment to all concerned. In two hundred years it is, as we have found, easy to lose the thread.

Perhaps the safest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We would be bragging, of course, but...we can tell the harder truths later....We could send out our science, of course, but just think of the wincing at this end when the polite comments arrive two hundred years from now. Whatever we offer as today's items of liveliest interest are bound to be out of date and irrelevant, maybe even ridiculous.

Perhaps the force of Thomas's image is dissipated for anyone who saw the movie CONTACT, but his concern with "durability of meaning" still seems relevant. And folks in any future society that rises above mere subsistence (that is, above the need for any technological information we can provide them) are going to be interested in our art as well as the thoughts and practices that gave our lives meaning.

 It would be embarrassing if we sent them scientific info and they came back with: "You guys got the E=MC2 thing wrong."
 but maybe more useful to know than "We don't like your music."
You know the very first image of earth life aliens will encounter is a film of hitler giving a speech broadcast in 1936?  I swear to God this is true and I will try to find the link/story. I came across it accidentally when looking for some sattelite images of climate change and saved it to my computer somewhere.

If you've seen the Movie "Contact" this was part of the plot.  Hitler in the 1936 Olympics had the first high power TV broadcast.

(I'm reading the book right now)


Gene Roddenberry did a take on this 38 years ago.  Very entertaining.

oh yes, I remember that episode. Not as good as city on the edge of forever but quite good nonetheless.
The biggest SETI problem is defining intelligence. There is no scientific consensus of the definition of intelligence.
The first radio signals that may have slipped past the ionosphere were sent in the 1880s. Fifty years later we were filling space with microwave radar pulses. Fifty more years and we confine signals to coax cables and optic fibers. What would the folks around Tau Ceti make of Rush and Fox News?
A quick trawl for good news:

A record $843 mln flows into alternative energy, tech firms

PG&E vows fivefold increase in solar use

[Connecticut's] House leaders urge conservation, alternative energy

Winds of change coming to B.C. energy sector

There are more out there, but I thought I'd throw a few links to show that we aren't all blindly heading for that fossil-fuel cliff.

Yesterday the words 'Peak Oil' appeared in the newspaper editorial in my home town! (Chattanooga) The editorial was titled 'More than a Pipeline Problem'. Made me wonder if the editor who wrote it reads TOD. I could not find extract of it online however.
Awesome news TNGranny, it would be great to see Chattanooga plan & prepare like some of the other towns we have heard of.
Actually there are quite a few small things happening in Chattanooga. We have had the free electric bus shuttles downtown for quite a while and the Riverwalk is now complete and plans are in the works to branch out from it up most of the urban tributaries with walk/bike paths. Building on this, the SEFTC plans to link the Cumberland Trail and the Pinhoti Trail to the Greenway system as a node in our 5000 mile foot trail network in the southeast. This is the Interstate Highway System for hikers!
Another small encouraging sign was that the planning commision made a local developer go back to the drawing board for a shopping center he was planning and turn it into a mixed-use village.
I don't think he is talking about PC's and lap tops.  The foundation of communications is based upon large main frame computers called switches.  They are incredibly power senstive beast.  Uncontrol power downs, and uncontroled power ups cause packs and circuits to blow.  This is why these systems are on UPS ( uninterruptable power sources) such as marine batteries, and back up generators.  However, that is now also a problem of long term sustainability with its own unique problems in the future.  

Sustainability is now a significant issue for Ma Bell.  They have considered locating data centers near nuclear power plants to ensure power supply, using solar power, wind and even aquatic turbines.  For companies that have 30 year plans, the problems are very scary and so far no real good answers.  Things may sound good comming from an engineer or on paper, but implementing then through network planning and engineering is another story.  Because the network is highly concentrated in central offices with huge power demands, the solutions have to be very large.  

In case you were worried, all your search engine needs will still be operational after the crash, as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are all building data centers near hydroelectric facilities on the Columbia river:


All human knowledge will be retained in Google's cache, if anybody can browse there. I envision aliens arriving 100 years from now to find a civilization ruled by the one person with a working connection.

Darn, another good one:

MIT's Energy "Manhattan Project"

For what it's worth, I think we are what we eat, and we've been feeding ourselves ... maybe the bad news first, around here.

Maybe you can be in charge of posting "happy" news alongside Leanan's...
Just for the record...I posted that news months ago.  I post good news as well as bad, as well as stories from across the political spectrum.  

Just because I post it doesn't mean I believe it, though.  :)

You do wonderful work for all of us Leanan, and I appreciate it as much as anyone.  I don't see any competition.

Technically though that storry came out on the 11th.

Yeah, I know, but it's recycled.  I suspect because of the current energy angst.  
No progress at all?
BTW, the "we are what we eat" comment really came from a sudden notice that the vew from TOD is a bit different than the one I get from some of my other feeds, GCC in particular.

I think I contribute to that skew myself, as I read good news elsewhere, but bring concerns and worries here.

As someone who has to get on a plane tomorrow, this comic is hitting home.
OK, there are enough science types here, so I have to ask. Liquid explosives? I like to think I am fairly aware of the world around me, but I've never heard of that before yesterday. Is it that easy to make a device out of gatorade and some putty? Don't worry, I'm not asking for formulas, I don't want the CIA kicking in my door tonight. I just find this whole story rather bizzare. I mean what is next, I can't wear my clothes on the plane since I might have woven some explosive thread in my clothes? Oh, no shoe laces eithers, might strangle someone with them. Reminds me of the move 'V'.
Spiegel online has a story about them. They say they are simple to make following instructions from the Internet. They cite hexogen and TATP (Tri-Aceton-Triperoxid).
shawnott -

There are a number of liquid substances that are explosive, some of which are rather unstable and therefore dangerous to use (e.g. nitroglycerin).  

You are right about how bizzarre things have gotten regarding airport security.  I just read in the paper this morning that at the Philadelphia Airport, airport security people were confiscating all containers of liquids, including shampoos, shaving lotions,cough medicine, and misc toiletries. These the airport security people put into big plastic bags.  

Some passengers then saw some of these airport security people go through the bags almost in plain view to pick out various goodies like perfume and colognes.  When challenged about what they were doing, the reply was something to the effect, "So what?  They're gonna be thrown out anyway!"

I think what this country needs is a good airline boycott. Partly due to things like the example above, I have purposely not flown in several years and plan to keep it that way.  

 That's been my policy sence 2001;
I was just telling my wife last night. Security may collapse tomorrow, after all security types and expensive liquor don't mix.
Read all about it here.

There are many kinds of liquid explosives.  A few years ago a mook named Ahmed Rassam was arrested trying to cross from Canada into the States with a car trunk full of the stuff, headed for LAX.

but I've never heard of that before yesterday.

Interesting, what you "never heard of before yesterday" is UNLIKELY?
Amyl nitrate will do fine.
And not difficult to find because it is also used to get high.

Right.  The new air travel advertising theme:

"Fly often.  Fly safe.  Fly Naked."

I still think it has a nice ring to it.

Liquid explosives are very very easy. Some are so ridiculously easy that it would be morally wrong for me to give you any hints--and so I won't;-)

Napalm is also very easy.

If you have evil in your heart, there is plenty of information on the Net. Fortunately, there is also plenty of misinformation that will cause you to die of or be mutilated by burns or explosion if you follow the recipe. I suspect somebody is purposely posting much of this misinformation.

More power to them!

Sorry.  Couldn't resist a cartoon that I saw myself last week.


As we use increasing amounts of fuel to make fuel, does that make our production numbers artificially high?

Suppose we pull 75 million barrels of oil out of the ground some day in 2008. We spend 2 million barrels running tractors and other machines to grow corn to make 3 million barrels of fuel. Will that count as 78 million barrels of fuel produced, or 76?

In a sensible system, where we concentrated on processes with EROEI greater than, say, 3, this wouldn't matter so much. But the lower-effectiveness processes may be easier to get working, and easier to subsidize.


I'd think so, but for the time being I think both ethanol and tar sands are burning natural gas as their main fossil fuel input.  And that natural gas wouldn't be counted in "total liquids."
Has anyone noticed the flat spot on the gas storage report curve the past few weeks? There was nothing like it the previous two years, even after the Gulf shut ins. Imagine a cold winter and another hot summer. Are you prepared for 100 Deg. and  78 deg. dew point weather with no AC for extended periods? It's quite possible next summer.
That is true. For an accurate accounting for the energy actually flowing into society to do useful work, one should subtract the energy used to get it.

It would be interesting to analyze the total energy outputs from an off-shore oil rig, as I assume that the energy needed for operations comes from their production (burning natural gas). As the field ages and enhanced recovery efforts are used, their energy needs must increase. This wouldn't show up in the liquid output, but would in their gas output (if any)

This month's IEA "Oil Market Report" is just out.

World oil supply gained 615 kb/d in July to reach 85.5 mb/d. Revisions driven by an unscheduled shutdown of Alaska's 400 kb/d Prudhoe Bay field trim non-OPEC supply by 220 kb/d in 2006 and 30 kb/d in 2007. Non-OPEC output averages 51.1 mb/d in 2006 and 53.0 mb/d in 2007.

OPEC crude supply in July fell by 225 kb/d to 29.8 mb/d on Venezuelan maintenance and renewed outages in Iraq and Nigeria. Effective spare capacity, currently 2 mb/d, could stay tight in the coming months if Nigerian and non-OPEC outages persist and OPEC raises output to compensate. Though weakening in 2007, the adjusted `call on OPEC crude and stock change' stays close to 30 mb/d through to 1Q07.


No comments on this?  Aren't these numbers off the top of Stuart's graph?
Hi All,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I noticed that in many solutions, no one mentioned changing the zoning laws.

When i visited america, I noticed how it took the greatest amount of time to walk to any place because of the very long block-distances, maybe it was true more of the west-coast, I really don't know. But residential and commercial and official spaces were quite far away from each other, great if you have a car, not so great otherwise.

In India where I live, commercial, office and residential space is very cheek-by-jowl. This makes Indian cities terribly crowded, but nonetheless we are less affected by price rises in gasoline/petrol (also 50% of petrol cost in India is taxes) We can walk to neighbourhood stores to purchase our daily stuff and bus services are used more commonly than in the US. Also, our rail network (inter-city, not so much intra-city, except for a few like mumbai) is very extensive.

I think that changing zoning laws to just keep industrial and agricultural activities separate should be enough, atleast service sector people can live in office/commercial/residential complexes. This would go quite a long way in resolving problems with liquid fuel scarcity.

Is this idea brought forth in other ways and i might ahve missed it? Comments are welcome.

Europe is a bit in the middle of the US and India then. During  the 80ies and early 90ies, Germany was americanizing, people moving to suburbs, shopping centres opening way outside cities, railway lines closed.

Fortunately, that trend reversed before it could do too much damage, when governments increased energy taxes, cut tax-breaks for commuters. It is equally important that we don't have a housing bubble in Germany, so houses remained affordable, even within city centres.

This is the new planning 'fad' in the US now. Usually called 'New Urbanism' although that's associated with upscale developments. For some reason the seperation of residental and commercial property by greater and greater distances became fashionable over the past 40 years.
Now that is slowly changing, at least in some areas. I'm sure there are still a few neighboorhoods being built right now with cul-de-sacs and no sidewalks. Interestingly enough, Houston, a place with no traditional zoning laws (at least not last time I checked) is one of the most sprawling cities in the US. New Orleans, another city that went without zoning for many years, is more compact with more neighboorhood businesses and more mixed uses. At least the older areas...
Just a follow up I read:
The Houston MSA urbanized large amounts of land between 1982 and 1997--over 350,000 acres--
but development and population both grew about 35 percent. As a consequence, like the other large
Texas metros, Houston held its density and moved upward in the national density ranking, from the
40th to 36th densest. But metropolitan Houston still is the least dense among the 10 largest with 3.2
persons per acre in 1997, and could be considered dense only in comparison with Atlanta. Other fast
growing sunbelt regions like Phoenix and San Diego are markedly more compact than Houston.
I have five places to buy food within 6 blocks of my home in New Orleans, my tailor and insurance agent are both 4 blocks away, a bank is 3.5 blocks away and the St. Charles Streetcar is 2.5 blocks away.  Thus, I use 6 gallons/month.  and I know my neighbors.
nothing new under the sun

Check out new urbanism at http://www.cnu.org/.

This is an arrow right at the heart of the practical problems that we face going forward in this country.  Interests that promote rapid exchanges of natural resources into short-term capital gain are given evolutionary advantage in our culture.    This is a great comment that entwines so many threads of our law, politics, biases, desires, and expectations.

Currently, local politicos promote and extend the zoning regulations further towards converting ever more raw material and cheap energy into landfill mass because it puts dollars into their rice bowl.  The consumers want it.  The contractors want it.  The state and federal taxing interest are happiest with this status quo.  So the best politico at the game has the edge over the next insurgent to their position.  It feeds on itself.

However, this is the wrong area to focus effort at promoting change, IMHO, because it is a consequential artifact, not a first-order principle.  When the energy pendulum swings the other way, this aberration will go away of its own accord.

Great observation.  Saw it action this afternoon as a formerly beautiful, wooded area in Pace was being mauled, compacted, and prepared for the next Big Box. как жаль

Our patterns of human settlement in the USA are car-oriented, and this aspect of our infrastructure does require huge amounts of energy and materials to build and maintain.

We have developed huge companies, "pork barrel" projects, and burueacracies all to keep the momentum for making new car-oriented infrastructure as the focus of development.

For this reason the impact of "New Urbanism" has been very small, it seems to me.

We have such a long way to go -- I like the notion of "Edible Estates" and "Continuously Productive Urban Landscapes" myself.

My guess is that given the accidents and mistakes and fits of violence we humans are prone to, we will not easily find the time, resources, and forethought to carefully plan any kind of civilized future.  That need not discourage us from trying.

Creation of sustainable, peaceful infratructure seems to require a certain level of commitment that we USA Americans do not seem to have.

There are two reasons why computers might stop being made.

  1. They're not worth it.

  2. The supply chain breaks.

The first answer is ridiculous. Yes, a semiconductor fab takes a lot of resources, but it makes trillions of transistors--and 100,000 transistors is enough for a basic CPU. (microcontrollers have 2,000 or so, but I want to run networking and probably GUI.) If I am trying to learn to farm or blacksmith, a discussion group or wiki would be absolutely invaluable. And the energy requirements of laptops are already low, and could be made lower by at least an order of magnitude with modest engineering. (Put in modern versions of older slower chips, and quit running Windows. And make the lid clear, set it in front of a white wall, and turn off the backlight. And replace the hard disk with flash--no one really needs 100 GB.)

The second answer may be worth worrying about, and is the point of the article. If your industry needs an epoxy that's only made in one factory in Japan, and that factory burns, then you're in trouble. (This actually happened sometime in the 90's. I don't know how it was worked around.) If your industry needs dozens of supplies from all around the world, then you'd better hope that none of them are sourced from (or travel through) areas that collapse.

For people worried about collapse, even just economic collapse, it may be worth thinking about what it would take to put together a local semiconductor fab. Memmel's post above in this thread looks interesting. How about it, memmel? What would it take to supply a one-micron fab?

Computers, and the supplies to make them, will be far more valuable than an equal weight of food. If we can't keep them going, then we can't supply food either, which means we're talking mass starvation, which implies an Easter Island vicious cycle (see deforestation in Haiti). At that point, conditions will be so different that most of our knowledge will be irrelevant.

So maybe we should talk about what really basic ideas can be used to bootstrap back to whatever technology is appropriate.

The Periodic Table, and basic chemistry.
Digital logic, general-purpose CPUs, and networking.
Value and mechanisms of accountability (democracy, free press).
Basic numeracy, perhaps including calculus.
Evolutionary theory (useful for breeding).
Basic cosmology.
Birth control methods.
Key medical theories.

What else? How small a book could this be packed into?


My first impulse was not to read that article, because it's kind of a given that if we end up F'd on energy we won't have a lot of things ... microprocessors included.

Looking at it now, I'm pleased that the author looks at depletion rates and trys to translate that into energy available for tech such as microprocessors.

Here's the thing that makes that difficult though: it is a battle of exponential curves.  Computers continue to get faster and cheaper with Moore's law, even as energy gets more expensive and rare on Hubber's curve.  Who will win the Moore and Hubbert smackdown?  I don't know, and again I think anyone who proposes to answer such a question has to pile assumptions pretty deep.

One contender for a low power future is the MIT $100 laptop project:


You are forgetting to factor in the productivity gains of the computer!!!

Sure, the computer costs me something in terms of energy when I check movie times on fandango, but what is the net savings over driving across town to see that the movie I want to see isn't playing at that theater?

Someone posted that cell phones are horribly energy ineeficient vs land lines the other day.  I just don't see how that can be...  What's the energy cost of deploying and maintaining all those landlines???  It's huge!

I can't comment on energy efficiency of the phone, but I have yet to see a phone make it through a day of talking after about a year.  Batteries suck, even when you charge them like it says.  Couple that with people switching phones every 18-24 mos and that's alot of resources.  However I must say that China has built their communications from the ground up and chose wireless.  

It's far more cost effective to put up towers that cover a geogrpahic radius, than running lines everywhere.  Fiber optic cable is still being buried, but not on the scale that wireless has transformed the communications of the chinese.

Who will win the Moore and Hubbert smackdown?

My money would be on Hubbert.  I'm not into tech as much as I was, but last I read, Moores law was quietly being discussed as becoming less realiable b/c chip speeds on silicon are literally at limits.  Intel just announced another redcution in transistor size, but at this nano level we are running into production issues with producing on such a small scale.  I think it was from a 40nm transistor to maybe a 30nm?  I really don't remember, but the jest of the essay was the limits on manufacturing nanoscale tech.

After silicon, IBM's carbon nano tubes were the next great leap being touted since they are organic and theoretically capable of speeds unheard of.  Things may have changed though, but I've still got money on Hubbert.

All batteries die after a certain amount of use.  That's just a fact of life.  

And while I think there is a certain amount of planned obsolence built into things these days, today's cell phones are orders of magnitude smaller then the old wired phones.  

And smaller usually = less energy.


Actually, I'm still using an old, analog "bag phone" with the lead-acid battery.  Frankly, as long as they keep providing service, it beats the heck out of the new digital phones because it has an unbelievable range here in the boondocks.  I can get through when my wife's phone can't even connect.

I start with the observation that we humans have a very limited ability to predict the future.  Knowing that, there still are some questions we have to take a stab at.  Oil depletion, Social Security finances, and global warming all fall in that category.  We may not be able to model them perfectly, but we do know that the wrong path can lead to some pretty bad outcomes.  So we do our best.

Luckily those things can at least be attacked in a numeric fashion.  Oil depletion can be modeled using Hubbert's method based on production numbers.  Social Security can be modeled with a combination of actuarial data and economic projections.  And of course global warming requires the tremendous complexity of a world-wide climate model.

But here's the rub with respect to "post carbon" futures.  We need the output of things like Hubbert's method as our starting place, from that we can look at the possible social and technological responses need in a particular timeframe.  Unfortunately those numbers are all over the place.  Even if we throw out (fairly?) the optimists in government and industry who see an increase in oil production over the next few decades, the pessimists (realists?) still don't agree.  I see global production declines of between two and eight percent thrown around.

We are starting our "response" discussion on an uncertain position, and to go from there to questions of how much of a computer industry we can afford, we have to layer on even more uncertainty.

Lets say we have global oil production of X bbl/day, and we want to subtract out the oil required for essential services like growing and delivering food.  Anybody have a list of such services?  Anybody have a list of those services' fuel demands under the "best practices" allowed by today's technology?  I don't think so.

We are left going with our gut, as humans always have done when face with a fuzzy problem.  I think that's fine, as long as we don't confuse a gut feel for a guarantee.  We all need to be a little humble and check back now and then to see if events are really unfolding the way we thought they would.

My gut says we'll respond to falling oil production with a bunch of silver BBs.  That outlook forces me to be patient, and to see if the big questions are answered:

Q:  Will society look for silver BBs?
A:  Tentative answer is yes

Q:  Will society adopt those sliver BBs?
A:  Looking sketchy

Q: Will silver BBs be enough?
A:  Totally unknown.

Oh these techno-cornucopians are all on drugs. Or brainwashing. Yeah, brainwashing. If computers are so damned great and productive, why are we now, with computers, all working our asses off when our parents or for a lot of you, your grandparents, living better off of one person's income? Read  Clifford Stoll's Silicon Snake Oil which amazingly was written in the 80s.

Computers are just one aspect of the speeding-up of the treadmill.

A a techno-curmudgeon, I might ask why video cards need more dynamic memory that (big) unix server did in my day ;-)

That's kind of the rub.  We have always spent more transistors on games and (screen) candy than on the nuts and bolts of computing and communication.  I remember being shocked in the early days that Atari had sold more 6502 micropressors (in game consoles) than every other microprocessor OEM in the world combined.

FWIW, one of my early accounts was with Whole Earth Magazine's WELL (Whole Earth 'lectronic Link).  At the time it was considered a progressive thing.

"If computers are so damned great and productive, why are we now, with computers, all working our asses off when our parents or for a lot of you, your grandparents, living better off of one person's income?"

This might have to be analyzed for its myth status.  As evidenced in a previous thread, 50% of "work" apparently consists of reading and posting on TOD.  Perhaps we're not so bad off after all ;)

My money would be on Moore. Much faster doubling speeds - one to three years - and probably a paradigm shift from silicone chips when Moore's law starts to fade. Kurzweil discusses this at length in "The Singularity is Near", very good book.
We need some Singulartarians around here ;-), it will help when the pessimists mistake me (a moderate) for an optimist.
ggg71 you're in the Matrix more deeply than most so I'll try to be gentle: When I was growing up there was THE Move Theatre. One. It was the one. The only one, in town. So, everyone went there. It was easy to know what was playing, read the marquee as you go by on the bus, or listen to your friends. Now, there are umpty-billion movie theatres, and I don't go to the movies any more. I'll borrow a DVD from the library or buy the DVD. Going to the movies has become too complex, too stressful (with the traffic and bullshit) and too expensive. And going with strangers or alone feels weird anyway.

Landlines...... in the old days the fone bill was about $10 a month, or you used a payfone. Now, with a cell fone, it's $50 a month to start, it goes up from there!

The most basic landline, a telegraph line, can be kept going with the most simple batteries, literally fruit acids and reactive metals. The code isn't hard to learn. If we keep any technology, and frankly I hope we don't, it will be on this scale.


is it really that bad in the US? For 50$ you can get a cell phone flat rate even in Germany, where it's more expensive than in most other countries in Europe. I pay some 13$ per month, that includes 50 minutes.

When I want to go to the movies, I take my bike through Berlin's central park (Tiergarten) and arrive at Potsdamer Platz, where quite some movie theatres can be found. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays a ticket is around 6,30$ (5€).

$40 buys you 1000 minutes a month from T-Mobile (the "Get More 1000" plan).  That seems like the big deal right now ... though I stuck with Verizon for their good national network (never saw a roaming charge on my last Pacific Coast road trip).

... when I was in at Verizon to ask them a technical question, the poor woman in front of me was trying to talk her way out of a $500 phone bill(!!!).  Talk about addictions amongst us monkeys.

I pay $100 for 1,000 minutes (have to renew/roll over after 12 months) with T-Mobile.  I may roll over a few minutes at teh end of the year.
>>> ggg71 reporting from the matrix:

In the "old days"...  can you get any more cliched?

I'm only 32, so my "old days" aren't that old.  But lets talk about the progress made in phone technology.  That old phone bill for $10 let you call locally.  Long distance phone calls were crazy expensive.  Calling Europe was unheard of...  And the average income was what - $5000/year?  Less?

Today I can get a landline with unlimited US calling, voicemail, call waiting, etc for $35/month.  And the average income is what 50-60k?

But I don't even have a landline because I've gone totally cellular!

I pay $70 for my cell phone mainly so I don't have to worry about going over my minutes.  Plans start at $30.  You can even get plans where you just buy minutes in advance.  I have 800 minutes plus free nights and weekends, and I've never gone over.  (knock on wood)  From what I see, it's actually getting cheaper every year even though inflation is running at 6 or 7%.

>>If we keep any technology, and frankly I hope we don't, it will be on this scale.

But I don't know why I'm wasting my breath - you obviously don't like technology and are projecting doom and gloom because you want to see the technology destroyed!

My big reason for getting a cell phone was that I use it as a safety link while hiking and mountain biking alone.  Coverage on the local trails is pretty good.  And if I've got the cell for that, might as well cancel the land line.

As it happens, I have called 911 after breaking a wrist ... hope I don't have to do that again.

One of those "laws of unintended consequences"...apparently there's been quite an increase in injuries and single person accidents because people have that sense of security of having the phone with them to call for help, so they take a few more risks than they would normally.  

Of course Murphey's law states that should something happen, you will either accidently destroy your phone, or land somewhere with no signal.

Increased single-person accidents ... that doesn't really surprise me at all ;-)
  You guys are on a topic that is very interesting to me and I think increasingly important to all of us.
  IMHO, there are a few macro factors that have dominant effects on our current and future standard of living. These macro trends may worsen the effects of Peak oil when it comes.
  1) There have been tremendous gains in technology and electronics, computers etc that have had a net deflationary impact on the cost of goods and services.
  2) A huge % of the worlds population has entered the worlds labor market in the past 30 years. The people of the former Soviet Union (FSU), China and in large part India because of the politics of the cold world were not connected to the US and its allies  30 years ago. Of course, the people of these countries worked and took care of their daily business but the countries they lived in did not trade with the US for the most part.
  In the past 30 years, about 50% of the worlds population entered the global market. People from India, China and the FSU make stuff for American markets at what  is basically slave wages by western standards. This has been hugely deflationary.
 So imported things from these countries are very cheap relative to what they would be without this increase in the global labor market. electronics, plastic crap everything.
 So, why is the treadmill running faster?
 Despite these macro economic forces that are deflationary, it is harder for many of us to maintain the same standard of living our parents had even though we make more $ per week/day/hour of work and both parents work when not long ago most wives didn't.
 The inflationary macro economic issue that is overwhelming the hugely deflationary items I noted above is the increasingly rapid devaluation of the dollar.
 As the US$ declines in value, everything is going to continue to get more expensive. Also, as we know, the American and western European workers increasingly compete for the same job with the relatively new entrants from the countries I noted above.
 The increased size of the global labor market decreases wages for anyone that competes for the same work due to outsourcing.
 This means wages in the US have been increasing at a rate slower than the rate at which the government inflates our currency going forward. This gives us a net decrease in real wages.
 The treadmill will continue to increase in speed at a rate proportional to the speed at which their government devalues their currency.
  We have stagnant wages because of the global labor arbitrage and the cost of goods/services/commodities is increasing  because our governments inflationary monetary policy overwhelms the deflationary impacts of the added global labor and the increased efficiency of technology gains.
Plus the enormous productivity gains of quick cellphone use (caller and cell-phone-using recipient).
My first impulse was not to read that article

Of course, no need to know ANYTHING about any topic to spit out the usual baldersash, blather, bunkum, claptrap, drivel, garbage, idiocy, nonsense, piffle, poppycock, rigmarole, rubbish, tomfoolery, trash, twaddle, tommyrot, applesauce, baloney, bilge, bull, bunk, crap, hooey and malarkey.

Looking at it now, I'm pleased that the author looks at depletion rates and trys to translate that into energy available for tech such as microprocessors.

WRONG, this is NOT the content of the article, you kept with your "first impulse", eh?

The problem with computers has NOTHING to do DIRECTLY with energy supply but with COMPLEXITY of the technology.

preach on, brother!
While looking for innovations in battery technologies, I found this:

Europositron technology

Partanen Europositron technology overcomes the existing difficulty and electropositive metal ions are reduced to metal through analytic and catalytic reactions in normal temperature and with a calculated electrical current. The flow resistance of the solution and the required excess voltage are taken into account.

The creation of aluminium hydroxide is eliminated and recharging for large number of cycles is possible. The technology applies to all existing methods of battery production including spiral wound sandwich examples. Another advantage of the Partanen Technology is that there is no "memory" effect as is found with many existing versions of today's batteries.

Thus batteries of various sizes can be manufactured with the following calculated performance characteristics:

Energy Density/Volume: 2100 Wh/litre

Energy Density/Weight: 1330 Wh/kg

Cycle Life: 3000+ cycles

Minimum Working Temperature: - 40C

Maximum Working Temperature: +70C

Life: 10-30 years

Discharge Rate: Adjustable

A good example of the difference the Partanen Technology would have is EV 1 by General Motors.

The total weight of the car without batteries is 816 kg. With the batteries the weight goes to 1550 kg. The power supply consists of 26 Lead-Acid batteries of 53 Ah each, which weigh 736 kg i.e. almost half of the total weight of the car. Without recharge the EV 1 runs 145 km on highway and in city traffic about 115 km.

With a Partanen technology battery weighing 60 kg, and with a volume 40 liters it would have a capacity of 80 kWh. Installed in a 816 kg EV 1 it could run 870 km on highway and 690 km in the city traffic.

Source: http://www.europositron.com/en/background.html

Naturally, I am extremely sceptical if what they claim is true. However, the have won a Frost&Sullivan award, and, ususally Finish people are trustworthy.

Is there anyone from Finland who could comment on this and on Mr. Partanen?

Hm, that' 4.8E9 J/m^3. That's starting to creep up into fuel territory. Hydrogen at 1000 atm is 4.9E9 J/m^3. Wood is 1.1E10. Methanol 1.8E10. Gasoline 2.8E10. Values taken from Table 6.1 of Nanomedicine http://www.nanomedicine.com/NMI/6.2.3.htm
According to this source (published in '99), five-micron lithium rechargeables had energy density of 2E9 J/m^3. Of course, batteries are usually much worse than that.

Here's another table that may be more usable/useful:

Sez that gasoline is 9,700 Wh/l (=3.4E10 J/m^3, somewhat different from the first source), while lead-acid batteries are 40 Wh/l.


Electrical engines are far more efficient. Using an ICE, not even 20% of the primary energy of the gasoline are used to move the car. Electrical engines should achieve 50% or more, not taking the generation of electricity into account, though.

By the way, this battery can also be built very large, Europositron says. It could be used as a storage of electrical energy and thus make wind and solar base-load capable.

It's too revolutionary to be true...

Hello Siggi,

I am not an engineer, but does this idea have any merit for possible postPeak PETAWATT energy storage and periodic GIGAWATT generation?  As I got no replies, I guess I posted it too late in the earlier "Vinod Khosla's Reply to RR" thread for anybody to notice.

I would be interested in reading replies from those with more technical expertise than me.  Admittedly, this is highly speculative: but storing kinetic energy potential in 'steelies' could be comparably equivalent to hydro-generation. Thxs

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

Hello TODers,

Here is a little more of my thinking on this idea.

Basically, steelies will flow much easier than water on a gentle slope because there is no adhesion effect like H2O. Also, rusting is a much slower process than the evaporation of water.  Global Warming is already making water storage behind dams problematic already as some water must be released to retain habitat viability downstream.  But the guaranteed gradual buildup of steelies can be biosolar-powered over time, until the harvesting of the energy is needed.

Those with more technical backgrounds could determine the actual energy density of a flowing 'steelie stream'.  My totally wild-ass guess is that a foot high flood of steelies has the same energy density as a twenty foot high tsunami or hurricane storm surge.  Basically, imagine a cubic foot of steel hitting you versus a cubic foot of water--the basic idea of a bullet being lethal versus kids playing with water-pistols.

Obviously, you cannot pile the steelies so high that the bottom units deform from compression.  My WAG is maybe 20 ft high maximum for the dam, but it would only require a very gentle slope to insure that the steelies will roll through the sluicegate to the generation system below the dam.

IF iron ore is still plentiful across the planet, then replacing those steelies that will eventually rust away is possible.  Their small size means they are totable by humans or draft animals in the worst case situation if some electricity for some special purpose is desired.

I could see steelie dams built all over the world's deserts with the uplift conveyors powered by stirling engines or PV.  The electricity would be sent over the grid to those climates where people could live without A/C saving huge amounts of energy.

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

Hello TODers,

Some more wild-ass thinking: if you can imagine a five mile square 'lake of steelies' above the dam/generation facility, and another five mile square 'lake of steelies' below with the relentless Arizona sunshine blazing down upon this huge mass-- there is a tremendous daily heating updraft and nightly cooling downdraft that could be harvested with horizontal windmills suspended above these steel lakes.  Would this help the gradual conveyor moving of the steelies from below the dam back upstream?

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

Hello TODers,

I wonder if these steel lakes would attract a lot of lightning strikes and if there is any way to harvest this enormous energy.  If the steel lakes were divided by a grid of insulating rails and further insulated from ground by specialized electro-isolation of the concrete lake bottom--does this make huge capacitors when the lightning hits?

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

Hello TODers,

As I ponder this hypothetical steelie generation system--I realize that tremendous human safeguards will have to be designed up-front to protect human life.  The buildup of static electricity charges alone from moving steelies could badly electrocute someone, and if someone fell into the steelie stream it would probably quickly grind them down to powder.  So this whole generation system, if technically viable, would require a lot of fences and guards to keep people out for their own protection.  I wonder how loud a few billion moving steelies would be--I am assuming it would be deafening if you are near the sluicepath.

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

but storing kinetic energy potential in 'steelies' could be comparably equivalent to hydro-generation. ... The steelies would grind up your turbine blades, regardless of what you make them from.

But an oversize elevator, with motor-generators, lifting something like a kilometer cube of earth? Or gather up all the used lithium batteries from the cellphone industry and tie them in parallel? Flywheels? Supercapacitors?

i got it __ a giant wimshurst machine

Hydrogenerators can get 98.9% efficiency (98.3% more typical; one vendor claims 99.0% but no one believes them).

Smaller motors, such as streetcars are in low 90s% electrical efficiency.  Lose another (rough estimate) 5% to 7% in gearbox and drive train and steel-steel interface on rail.

Well above 80% efficiency from wire to rail.

Just a short one...

he has been in some news when I googled the name.
Had a company that was probably ok, sold that and
started to study  the battery stuff.

He had an acerbic text in a discussion forum
that somehow gives to me a feeling that he probably
believes in his idea but otoh I wouldn't invest in
this (he claims to need two people for the showcase batteries)... but then I do not have the money either... :)

3...4 year business plan. Hmmm... I cannot say if
this is really ok.


Thanks, Seppo!
Let's just wait and see how those prototypes will do.
Is there anyone from Finland who could comment on this and on Mr. Partanen?

Hi, I'm a Finn, but this is the first time I've heard of Europositron and Mr. Partanen. That in itself doesn't signify much (there are a lot of things I've never heard of), but  after looking at the website and digging up information from some Finnish-language, business- and investment-oriented discussion forums, it seems highly probable that Europositron is either an outright scam trying to lure some gullible small investors or just a bunch of delusions cooked up by some loony who actually believes his own pseudo-scientific babbling.

Now, I could be wrong (I spent less than 1 hour looking into this), in which case I owe an apology to Mr. Partanen. However, this "Europositron technology" just doesn't smell right to me.

So BP is declaring force majeur in regards to the pipe corrosion.  They claim this was out of their control, so they should not be forced to pay a penalty built into the delivery contracts.  Hmmm...I think I would be using that lawyer on retainer right about now.


ConocoPhillips has informed its crude oil customers that because of a shutdown of the pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, deliveries may come up short.

In declaring a force majeur, Conoco is telling its customers an event out of its control could cause it to breach its contracts. Thus, ConocoPhillips avoids incurring financial penalties when it can't fulfill its deliveries.

A ConocoPhillips spokesman said only one of its three West Coast refineries would be affected by the pipeline shutdown and that the company should be able to get ample supplies for the facility elsewhere.

BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil jointly own the massive oil field.

I read that as Conoco Phillips is declaring force majeur because they can't be held responsible for BP's maintenance practices.
 I think BP is still on the hook but ,like you said, a lot of lawyers will bill a lot of hours on this one.
From one of the links:

#  Spinach solar power: Tapping the secrets of photosynthesis -- engineering proteins from spinach -- to make organic solar cells whose efficiency could outstrip the best silicon photovoltaic arrays today.

Ok, I'm game.   How long do they last?

# Silicon superstrings: A novel approach to manufacturing conventional silicon photovoltaic arrays by pulling the chips in stringy ribbons out of a molten stew like taffy rather than slicing them from silicon ingots.

My understanding was this method as used by one cell maker was having aging problems of the panels.   Now, that could have been FUD by a different panel seller.  

Does anyone have how long these new versions are supposed to last?

# Silicon superstrings: A novel approach ...
Sounds like the "EFG" (Schott Solar) method ...
Semiconductor integrated circuit manufacturing really is quite fragile. Of course theoretically one could back off to a 1970's technology if some critical parts became unavailable or whatever. The interesting question with any kind of overshoot - by the time one realizes that backtracking to level X is required, one might not have the resources any more to pull it off. So one gives it one's best shot, maybe targeting a pull back to level X-2. So you can invest a lot of resource in putting together a level X-2 system, only to discover, oops, some critical pieces aren't coming together, I can't even hit level X-2, so I go back maybe to X-4, etc.

I think about this kind of thing with respect to personal finances. I have about 9000 books crammed into my 900 sq ft apartment. If my finances were to get tight, probably I could sell a lot of books and generate some cash. But the timing is tricky. To get a really good price on most things, the longer you can afford to wait for the right buyer, the better price you can get. This is just another example of the rich get richer, or conversely, the poor get poorer. If I wait too long to sell books, then I could get desparate and have to sell quickly, which brings in less money, which amplifies my desparation, etc. The collapse can accelerate.

Moore's law is the driving pattern in the semiconductor integrated circuit manufacturing business. This is an exponential, so it really has a feel of some kind of self-amplifying feed-back mechanism. The dangerous thing about such mechanisms is that they can run in either direction. People only build 3 billion dollar chip fabs because they anticipate a profit. The only way to make a profit is to sell A LOT of chips. The reason your laptop costs like a thousand dollars is because of the sales volume. If somehow the sales volume gets cut, e.g. some kind of big recession, then the unit price will just have to go up, to insure a return on the fab investment. But price going up cuts the volume again.

It's absolutely true. A chip fab is an incredible technological achievement, and actually an incredible economic achievement - just to get that much money invested in a single facility. Just because everybody likes their cell phone and PDA etc. is not sufficient reason to insure the sustained existence of these miracles. It could take just a subtle shift in the balance of economics and that industry could be in rough water. Actually if you look at Intel's stock price, it ain't a pretty picture already.

In a steep powerdown scenario we might as how many microprocessor (etc.) fabs are already in the world, and what the energy cost is in maintaining some of them.
The above makes more sense with "we might [ask] how]"
With something like an ethanol plant, I suppose the whole network involved is not so complicated & the energy cost can be computed. A modern chip fab is vastly more complicated, and involves a global network of equipment suppliers, repair services, etc. The lens that gets used in the lithographic process - right at the heart of the business - this lens costs a zillion dollars, and very few places in the world can make these lenses.

OK, the lens probably doesn't wear out too fast! Suppose we just stopped any new designs or new manufacturing facilities. How cheaply could we just keep churning out today's chips, to be able to replace existing devices as they fail? Suppose we put the whole chip industry into maintenance mode?

The energy requirements for making chips are surely no barrier. I imagine the chemicals involved are also not any big deal. Sure, they go through a lot of water. But mostly there isn't a lot of pollution going out.

The real issues are equipment and expertise. It takes a team of at least several hundred specialized engineers to keep a modern fab running. If you follow the supply chains for the equipment, surely it all comes down to people. Lots of very sophisticated and touchy equipment that has to be kept running right.

This is all overhead. If the fab line can get one chip out, it can get thousands out. The whole game is volume. You have to cover say twenty million dollars per year to keep the expertise staff working. If you can sell tens and hundreds of thousands of chips, then the price per chip can be hundreds of dollars.

So the real question is: if energy prices shoot up, is the eating and heating and transportation budget of the typical consumer going to eat into their electronic gadgets budget? If people will just keep buying cell phones and PDAs etc. right through any such economic turmoil, then the chip fab business will survive. If folks decide they'd rather stay warm than surf the web, then the sales volume of chips goes down, so the unit price goes up, and the chip business goes into a death spiral.

I downloaded this podcast to my evil cell phone and listened to it as I hiked to the market today:


Hiking while listening to a low-power device might be an example of the energy-tradeoff in a lower carbon world.

TOD folk might find it interesting on a couple levels.  It's about "Watching the Alpha Geeks" and shows where another set of smart people have their heads.  There is some insider talk on things like DIGG and IA (intelligence augmentation, rather than artificial intelligence).  There is also some stuff about hacking the physical world, which might be inspirational for alt-energy tinkerers.

And those folks who disdain tech while communicating over a tech medium might pause and think intelligence augmentation ... if it's always a bad thing.

And those folks who disdain tech while communicating over a tech medium might pause and think intelligence augmentation ... if it's always a bad thing.

Sure, but HOW DOES THIS RELATES to JimK's reply???
To properly use "Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute" you certainly need intelligence augmentation!

How cheaply could we just keep churning out today's chips, to be able to replace existing devices as they fail?

The arguement of Alice Friedemann is that there won't BE microprocessors.  

And you are framing around TODAYS sub-micron tech and todays devices.

Change the framing to a level of technolog that uses light for the masking, less layers and the baseline utility of Microprocessors and power switching still exist.  

Silicon slabs are still needed for PV.  Somehow under the 'no one is buying PDAs' version of what happens, this leads to no more silicon being melted and making ingots?

If people will just keep buying cell phones and PDAs etc. right through any such economic turmoil, then the chip fab business will survive.

And this somehow makes the Z80 or 80168 go away?  What about power switching silicon?

Keeping lights on at night (even if they are LEDs or Compact florecent lights), switching electrical power, communications,  putting up weather satilites and whatever the military 'needs' are will keep microprocessors and fab plants in play.   Don't confuse the lack of an Xbox 5 with collapse and back to burning wood.

Great points.  Certainly some of the technoogy we use in our everyday life is suitably complex that it almost seems like magic.

I would argue about Intel's stock price though...  Maybe it doesn't reflect massive growth anymore, but a company valued at 100 Billion dollars is not exactly sick.  Maybe compared to last years (or 3 years ago, or whenever) overinflated price it seems sick, but they still have massive value in their factories and technology.

Of course Intel is doing OK but a lot of folks would sure be happier if they were doing better. Just a few weeks ago they laid off 1000 mid-level managers. Looks like 15,000 more lay-offs in the works - I don't know the time scale. Of course energy prices aren't closely coupled to this at all. A lot of it is just that 90 nm designs and 65 nm designs are really hard, and especially power consumption, especially from leakage current, is a monster problem. So we see the move to multi-core chips. If I really had all this figured out, I would be emperor of the universe!

The industry isn't exactly thriving right now, and a big economic downturn would not help at all. It's really the overall economic picture than matters a lot more than specifically energy. As lots of folks have pointed out, microelectronics gives back a lot of value per joule.

Well, things ebb and flow.  Who knows ... Intel could go out of business.  It's possible.  Digital Equipment Corporation did, and they manufactured chips.  AMD is certainly giving them a run for their money, although most people seem to agree that Intel's latest line of chips put them back into the lead technologically.  

The whole concept to me of the world losing technology on a massive scale seems farfetched.  With a full fledged WW III - it's possible I suppose, but I think at that point Peak Oil would be the least of our worries.

On the other hand, what is a reward for keeping advanced electronics manufacturing going in a resource contracting world?

Those who succeed can provide communication, data handling, access to old culture and superior weapons. King of the world stuff, tradable for any raw material or resource.

But it would be a good idea to start designing electronics for much longer life lenght. If todays or five years into the future laptop, PDA, cell phone etc is good enough making it last for 50+ years with replaceable mechanical wear components saves a lot of resources.

Hello TODers,

As the agony of the election recount continues down south, here is a disturbing report on shootings of striking teachers.  I have no idea if this was covertly designed by the Mexican elites to help further tip Mexico into the essential and dramatic postPeak reforms required for their paradigm shift.  Knowing that Cantarell is collapsing: they must be studying the future direction of Mexican society.

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


I wrote Peak Oil and the Preservation of knowledge, and I'd like to respond to some of what's written above.

I can see that a few of you didn't read the article. I never make the argument that it takes too much energy to make computers or that computers use too much energy.

Others missed my main points, probably because energybulletin published only two parts of a much longer piece, beginning in the middle.  The full piece is at http://www.energybulletin.net/18978.html or http://www.energyskeptic.com/PeakOil_and_Preservation_of_Knowledge.htm

Basically I'm saying that microprocessor production exists within the larger framework of global trade, which is far more fragile than people realize.  Microprocessors are made with chemicals, metals, machinery, highly trained personnel and so on, which are all vulnerable to economic and social disruptions.  

Sometimes a widget comes from just one place -- very dangerous, a single point of failure -- and some components come from all over the world.  Either way, it will be hard for microprocessor production to continue if the companies that make the components can't do so due to war, go out of business from oil-shock depressions, earthquakes, fires, piracy; if airlines are grounded from lack of fuel or terrorism, and so on.

As energy declines, energy is likely to be diverted to agriculture, and if it isn't, because I agree microprocessors are important, and people go hungry, the social disruption is likely to be enough to halt microprocessor assembly lines.  People really like to eat and get grumpy when there's no food.

Microprocessing exists within a larger economic, political, and social framework which can't be ignored, and this extends to thinking about any enterprise surviving declining energy.

For example, consider the problems a neural anatomy lab I worked in had when it moved from the University of Illinois to the University of Puerto Rico.

The water we bought wasn't pure enough, or wouldn't stay pure enough in that climate, to do critical histology experiments, and the chemicals that needed changing at certain points weren't changed sometimes because the bus I was on broke down or buses weren't running at all due to strikes. Although I usually bicycled to work, the area the lab was in was too dangerous for me to bicycle to at night -- I wasn't allowed to do that.

Kids from the La Perla slum next door (see Steinbeck's "The Pearl") kept breaking into the lab and wreaking havoc.  Archeologists dug through our phone lines, and for the 6 months I was there, they were never fixed, which made ordering supplies and communicating with other labs a big problem.  The lab was supposed to be finished before we arrived, but it wasn't finished when I left 6 months later, because the workers called in sick all the time, and sometimes we'd see them drinking in a nearby bar!

I always had to have a Plan B, C, and even D.  Things didn't usually go as planned. Banks would be closed for four hour lunch breaks or no discernable reason at all.  On a vacation to the far side of the island, we had two flat tires from tacks strewn by striking road workers, which took a long time to repair.

If you think that when energy declines, society will continue to function smoothly enough to produce silicon and chemicals to six nines of purity, and parts will be delivered flawlessly, think again.   Think of the decline as a lot like living in Puerto Rico.

As far as the doomster criticism from techno-optimists, I'm in good company. Walter Youngquist, author of Geodestinies, my favorite peak oil book, helped edit this piece and urged me to get it published.

James Lovelock shares my concerns.  In the last chapter of "Global Survival: The Challenge and Its Implications for Thinking And Acting.", he wrote about the preservation of knowledge.

He believes that scientific papers are going to be too hard for people in the future to understand, so we need to print simpler, summary texts of what we know about the world on high quality paper.  I think a lot of undergraduate science textbooks do this quite well, so getting them printed on archival paper as soon as possible is a small action that could be taken immediately.

Global warming is not in dispute. The latest findings indicate it's happening faster and harder than expected.  If sea levels rise over 200 feet, an ice age begins, and agriculture becomes tenuous, the length of a dark age could be quite long, so it would be better to find a more permanent way to record knowledge than paper or microfiche.

Alice Friedemann in Oakland, CA

P.S. here's an abstract about energy and computer manufacture you might find of interest:

Eric Williams. Energy intensity of computer manufacturing: hybrid assessment combining process and economic input-output methods


The total energy and fossil fuels used in producing a desktop computer with 17-inch CRT monitor are estimated at 6,400 megajoules (MJ) or 260 kg respectively. This indicates that computer manufacturing is energy intensive: the ratio of fossil fuel use to product weight is 11, an order of magnitude larger than the factor of 1-2 for many other manufactured goods. This high energy intensity of manufacturing, combined with rapid turnover in computers, results in an annual life cycle energy burden that is surprisingly high: about 2,600 MJ per year, 1.3 times that of a refrigerator. In contrast with many home appliances, life cycle energy use of a computer is dominated by production (81%) as opposed to operation (19%). Extension of usable lifespan (e.g. by reselling or upgrading) is thus a promising approach to mitigating energy impacts, as well as other environmental burdens associated with manufacturing and disposal.


First of all, thank you for this post.  Personally, I find it one of the more important posts on TOD.


I'm sorry if I missed your emphasis on other factors, but I was responding to this text (below) in the first-linked article.

For me, looking for a numeric starting point, that seemed to be it.  Sorry.

Matt Simmons also believes that an 8% rate of decline is possible, given how Saudi Arabia's fields were mismanaged, the use of technology to extract the oil sooner than it would have otherwise been pumped, other super giant oil fields having depleted rapidly after their peak, and the likelihood that Saudi oil reserves are probably half of what is reported.

The decline after peak might initially be low, buying a few years of time, but if it does reach 8% per year, world oil extraction would decline by almost half in eight years. That is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, because there is too little time to adapt.

That is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, because there is too little time to adapt.

Some societies are already preparing a non-oil alternative transportation system.  Switzerland already had a good one, and in 1998 voted for 31 billion Swiss franc upgrade/improvement. (Adjusted for population & currency, equal to the US voting to spend $1 trillion on upgrading our rail transportation).

Swiss per capita oil use in 1945 was 1/700th that of the US in 2004.  Plenty of room to "survive".  Add Thailand, Sweden, Brazil and most of the EU as being ready for 8% annual depletion in a few years.  Even Japan might make it with nukes.

Not everyone is an clueless as the US.

yea they are energy hogs. both in manufacturing and use(lower power pc's like via's epia's are more energy intensive to make because of the lower energy usage requirements).
though they are also very fragile systems that are not made to last, they are made to be used for 2~3 or so years and then be thrown away as the person buys a newer one. for every one that has made it and still works past 2~3 years there are at the very least 10 that have not, because of they are either in the person's basement/atic/garage, or in a landfill adding to the toxic materials in it.
computers are not going to last long for the general populace, governments and the uber rich will have them longer but even then in a world of declining energy they will have to give them up as well.

as a side note i don't see a mention of the needed 24/7 electricity flow needed for the plants to help maintain the clean environments and that a loss of power could close the place down for months or longer.

forgot to mention this is what caused the price of ram a few years ago to sky-rocket. a earthquake near some of the major manufacturing plants knocked out their power and their backup power, end result they had to shut down to clean their clean room.
Microprocessors are made with chemicals, metals, machinery, highly trained personnel and so on, which are all vulnerable to economic and social disruptions.

Modern processors are near our technological and logistic pinnacle, and so are very vulnerable to a decline in global economic complexity.  The trick is to have in place a graceful degradation path, which must include supporting technological capabilities at the national and local level.

On an optimistic note, newer technology may not require such demanding manufacturing conditions. One techno-fix which might eliminate much of the supply complexity is the development of self-reproducing 3-D printers which can print electronics, part of the nascent area of desktop manufacturing.


China's net import of crude oil rose to 70.33 million tons and refined oil products, 12.03 million tons, in the first half of the year, said an official with China's General Administration of Customs yesterday[11-Aug].

The net import of crude oil and refined oil of the country rose by 17.6 percent and 48.3 percent year on year, respectively.

The rapid growth of Chinese economy as well as its booming auto ownership contributes to the surging demand for oil in the country, said experts.

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP surged a year-on-year 10.9 percent in the first half of 2006, 0.9 percent higher than the same period of 2005.