DrumBeat: August 14, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/14/06 at 9:14 AM EDT]

American vehicles are piling on the pounds

“This is a huge issue,” Kevin Reale, an automotive analyst at Boston-based AMR Research. “One of the biggest things driving this weight increase is everyone wanting bigger engines and more horsepower. And then on top of that we are seeing people want all of the new components like DVD players and other entertainment devices in their vehicles. All these things are starting to add up.”

Alaska raises taxes for oil companies

Ancient Arctic Water Cycles Are Red Flags To Future Global Warming

Ancient plant life recovered in recent Arctic Ocean sampling cores shows that at the time of the last major global warming, humidity, precipitation levels and salinity of the ocean water altered drastically, along with the elevated temperatures and levels of greenhouse gases.

Prairie farmers anxious for chance to grow wheat for ethanol plants

Flour costs push up price of loaf

Bread makers say poor crop harvests and rising energy costs are forcing a hike in the price of bread on the shelves.

Bolivia Suspends Energy Nationalization

Bolivia's decision to suspend an ambitious plan to nationalize its oil and gas industry has reinforced doubts about the ability of its state-run energy company to manage the country's extensive gas reserves.

Iraqis mired in worst energy crisis since 2003

BAGHDAD - Under a scorching sun, Baghdad taxi driver Sameer Abdul Razzaq wraps a wet towel around his head and waits for gasoline in a line stretching a mile.

"I've been here since 6 a.m.," he said Sunday. "If I'm lucky, I'll get to the end of the line by sunset. I actually think I might end up spending the night here."

The Enron Connection to Higher Oil and Gas Prices

You'll excuse me if this has been covered but I've been away for a few days.

Scarcity, Mother of Invention

The bottom line is that the very process of developing alternative sources of energy to replace fossil fuels may yield benefits beyond our imagining. But if instead we fail to innovate, the consequences could be devastating.

Will innovation save us all??

".. may yield benefits beyond our imagining."

Or it may just barely save our butts, if we're lucky.  That line sounds like the doorway to Cornucopia, or a barker outside a casino, take your pick.  I don't subscribe to the NYT, (in either sense, oftentimes) so I didn't see any more of the article.

I have occasional moments of true brilliance, and I find they are sufficient to just dig me out of the troubles caused by my corresponding clumsiness.  Hope it continues..

I don't think we have any choice but to innovate, do we?  There's no guarantee that it will save any of us, much less all, but it's what we do if we want to 'get to the next level', or sometimes even to survive on this one.

I have heard 'Intelligence' described as the ability/flexibility to test new combinations/actions to solve a problem.. to use your senses and imagination to rise above routine and habit and devise a new solution.  That's 'Innovation', right?  I prefer this 'Glass-half full' definition to the opposite version about 'Insanity' being defined as 'Doing the Same thing again and again, and yet expecting to get different results'.  Still, it doesn't hurt to look at both the BrightSide and the DarkSide to get a picture of where you don't want to go, and where you might find some new options.

Bob Fiske

I have always liked a poem I wrote a few decades ago.

It basically says, "gulp gulp give me another one"

I don't worry about the half full or the half empty glass I just go and get another drink, we could dicuss the volume in the glass all day long.  Just doing something is better than standing still.  In my poem I got rid of the problem and moved on to something else.


I have to remember to close my posts with my central idea, not some side-note, as that usually gets the response, and not the thought that I was trying to share.

I, too, am not that thrilled by a debate about 'the glass', or which part of its volume I focus on..  I was more happy that I'd noticed an opposite corrollary to the 'Insanity' truism within the 'intelligence' line.  Ultimately, that comes to the same conclusion as yours, which says 'Next!'.. or 'Yes' to innovation.  I do think it's important to be aware of the 'Light' and the 'Shadow' sides of an issue, too, as the whole
 picture will inform your decision.


What concerns me about "innovations" is that they are directed toward maintaining the status quo, i.e., a growth oriented, consumer society.  I'm certainly not a Luddite (I put in my first PV and solar water systems over 20 years ago) but reducing consumption of consumer goods and significant energy conservation will likely do more than all the spiffy, technological stuff in the pipeline.

Further, it seems to me, that the additional complexity of new technologies will only create new problems that will then require additional solutions.

It is typically argued that these innovations will buy time to allow a transition to some new paradigm.  I could be wrong but my gut feeling says it isn't going to happen.


Even if we were to develop some new miracle technology for generating cheap non-polluting energy (fusion?), we cannot continue unlimited growth. For one thing, population growth cannot continue unabated. (If nothing else, there's only a limited amount of carbon in the biosphere.) Technology and cheap energy could have allowed humans to enjoy a better quality of life for a very long (unlimited?) time. Instead we chose to expand our population and now we're running into resource limitations (energy, food, water, metals, etc.). I can't see how any technological innovation is going to overcome the consequences of an exponentially growing world population and the demand for natural resources that brings.
Thanks, IFeelFree;

"I can't see how any technological innovation is going to overcome the consequences of an exponentially growing world population and the demand for natural resources that brings."

Maybe because you are assuming that 'innovation' presupposes that it's whole purpose is to continue and expand the status quo.  Every time an 'Alternative Car' discussion comes up, someone jumps in with the accusation that this is meant to fully perpetuate the way our 'Car Culture' works today.  It's not.  It will be what it can be.  But we will still use wheels, carts, cars and trucks of one sort or another, on one kind of roadway or another.  Is that our car culture, or an evolved creature that has its roots in the 'Route 66' universe? (initially wrote "Route 666".. oooh! demonic!_)

I don't think the population will be able to keep growing, and the Chinese or those in China Grove will also be making different Auto choices tomorrow than they do today, just as their town councils will be pinching pennies on which Potholes they can afford to patch..  That doesn't mean we won't be innovating all over the place.  I don't buy the false promises of these Oil Alternatives, either.  I don't expect the innovations that will help us to be 'miracles'.. just smart.  I think 'RibbonFilm' solar panels look like a smart innovation (Evergreen Solar), etc.  Science and Invention aren't the enemy.. just the misapplication of them..

My question is that if population is unable to keep growing, how will it stop growing? Will fertility rates go down worldwide (as we pollute the environment and food becomes more scarce)? Will there be mass starvation? Mass die-offs from war? Or will governments institute birth limits similar to China (one child per couple)? Fertility rates have gone down in developed countries, not as much in developing countries. One problem is that in many parts of the world having children is seen as having more hands to do work and someone to take care of you in your old age. It will be tough to convince poor people that having, say, only 1 child would be in their best interests.
e) All of the above

There will be an increase in famine and disease deaths, wars will become more frequent, some countries will institute one-child policies, but many people will simply say "There is no way I'm bringing a baby into this $&!%storm."  There will be massive pressure on holdout nations to liberalize abortion access and promote contraceptive use, but also increased resistance to that trend from religious radicals of all denominations.  I suspect that starvation will drop fertility rates in poor nations fairly drastically, and pandemics like AIDS will punch holes in the reproductive segments of their populations.

Mother Nature is really good at multi-tasking.

I already decided to not add kids to the fray. What we need is to encourage people who are poor (or comparatively poor) to not have kids. Those who can afford it the most should have them.

A poor person having a kid essentially dooms that kid to an ever-worsening 1970s energy crisis. College is no guarentee. What do you study? Religion actually in this case is promoting starvation and other suffering by opposing contraception and abortion.

Let me get this straight:  only rich people should have kids?  What kind of world are you living in?
Indeed.  The richer the family the more energy they consume.
Funny when you say the rich should only have kids you get questioned, howeer in nature doesn't this go on all the time?  The weak are weeded out and do not live.  Those genes are lost and the superior ones remain.  If you actually stop the think about it, why would a poor person WANT to have kids?  It doesn't make sense when you can not afford to take care of them, but since this is an acedemic hyperbole I'll step down since it's not moral and all.
So Malthus was right after all? My hope is that fertility rates will continue to trend lower. They have fallen dramatically in developed countries over the past decade and now are below the replacement rate. (For example, I've read that here in California the population would have fallen in recent years if not for immigration.) The problem is that even though fertility rates in less developed countries have fallen considerably, they are still twice the rate of developed countries. On the other hand, if fertility rates fall too quickly we end up with demographic problems -- a relatively small number of younger people have to care for a large aging population. I'm afraid that starvation, wars, disease might be what keeps down the population in some less developed countries. Religions that preach against the use of birth control are doing a terrible disservice to the world. Religion is too stuck in the past anyway. We need spirituality, not religion.
The problem is that humanity is already in overshoot.  Even if not another baby were to be born for the next 25 years, the outcome would be pretty much the same.  The time to have stopped growing both our population and our consumption was probably 100 years ago.

For an ecologist's perspective on why this is so, and why we are well and truly in the box, read William Catton's 1982 book "Overshoot".  It powerfully reoriented my thinking on this crisis.

Books have published for decades predicting imminent global disaster due to overpopulation. (According to the 1972 "Limits to Growth" we should already be witnessing the collapse of civilization.) What makes this time different is that there is increasing evidence that we are coming up against some hard limits with regard to natural resources. Obviously, population cannot continue growing forever. It's better not to be overly doom-and-gloom, but we need to take intelligent measures to limit population growth and reduce our usage of natural resources, so that we can at least reduce the suffering.
Ummm, er, maybe in 1972 they were right?
I get really tired of people who obviously haven't read LIMITS TO GROWTH" making up quotes from it.
The politest response I can give you is that if you don't know what Limits to Growth actually said, then stop making up falsehoods and passing them off as your wisdom. If you read Limits to Growth and then the 30 year update to the same, you'd realize that we are almost dead on target for the Club of Rome's predictions.

P.S. The Limits to Growth gave modern society a lifespan of about 100 years starting from its own publication, so we're talking about a collapse near 2070, not one that was supposed to have happened already.

Re: Population Control
  Who knows?

All I can do is try to have my family with whatever awareness I can about population growth (or decline), survivability, etc.  Nature will do the heavy lifting on this one.  We can try to communicate our concerns with each other, ask our communities and societies to make smart choices, but always beware the rule of unintended consequences.

We put our trust in the universe and have had one child, and mostly due to our ages are happy to leave it there.  There is a lot of indirect (and some direct) pressure to 'not do that to her', give her siblings, etc..  to which we're happy to gracefully decline them all.

What we can do is innovate, which means come up with new ways of doing things.  It doesn't mean 'continued system growth', or 'go shopping'.. it means look at how things are, and make some choices about what is likely to be a smart direction.  Once you've started that new way, you keep looking at it, and decide if you need to correct course, or even go the other way entirely.  You have to be aware and limber (even at our ages), you probably have to dive in sometimes, and duck out at others.

Talk about 'DieOff' is boring to me.  If the available-energy-times-population doesn't equal the world's 'carrying capacity', the numbers will have to go down.  Whether that means horrible wars, or pop's don't recover after natural disasters, or infant mortality..  it's just fairly maudlin to get too immersed in that.  I think it's fear talking, and 'Fear is the mind killer, the little death..', as Frank Herbert said..

When you're canoeing rapids, the advice I got was to watch the water's flow, the path you need to take.. NOT the rocks you are worried about running into, since that fearful attention, while in the holiest intention towards personal security, is the surest way to draw yourself INTO those pitfalls.  Canoeing rapids is Constant Innovation, Course Corrections, Maneuvers, Interaction with a moving field..

I like that imaage and totally agree that a positive focus is the best way to get through any crisis.  From a personal standpoint, the difficulty I have with this one is that it's so nebulous and there are so many uncertainties that it's hard to figure out where to focus.  This is especially so because I have a husband to convince, who acknowledges that there is a major problem but resists planning because, he says, anything might happen.
It's extremely difficult.  I agree.

It makes me a bit schitzo, trying to remember what I'm really shooting for.  Rapids aren't exactly cut-and-dried, either, so I'll hold with the analogy.  Things don't move just as you expect them to, and there are signs to read (or misread) about rocks beneath the surface, as well.  Maybe there are a few paths down ahead, and you have to still pick one (ethanol?, nuclear?) What lies further down that route, however?

I believe in simplicity, even if it's rare that my combustible brain usually actually achieves it, I'm trying to get to that side of the proverbial- (and now pretty annoyingly pat) Stream.  I believe we are tool makers, and not to shun our tools, but to be very clear about which ones are able to do the job, which ones are too dangerous or just too complicated to depend on completely..

When I told my wife that this $600- 130 watt panel was, yes, about two lightbulbs worth of power, and that, just when the sun shines, she did seem a little shocked.  It's hard to appreciate that this trickle of power will keep coming in for a few decades in all likelihood, and quite possibly during a few times or increasing times when you won't be counting those watts against a utility price of .08/kilowatthour.  During any extended outage, this power could save lives, keep a fridge and foodsupply going, and be invaluable.  At other times, this can/will be offsetting what is likely to be a rising-cost and possibly less reliable distant source of power.

Anyway, trying to feed and bed a 3-year old, so my thoughts are not likely to keep a kayak together tonight.

Bob Fiske

the advice I got was to watch the water's flow, the path you need to take.

Where do you see "the path [we] need to take", please?

I don't presume to make any critical choices for everyone else's boat, or paddle position, place up or down the river,  whatever.. but the question is appropriate otherwise..

As far as the above was concerned, the 'Rocks' were the attentions on the dangers of 'DieOff' itself, of whatever Chaos threatens us if this indeed does 'Go Bad'..  ask someone in Baghdad, it may already be bad.   I accept that there are Rocks and Dangers looming all about.

The 'Flow', then, is the actions I need to follow (and not get disheartened/distracted from doing) to establish/ envision what looks like a tenable life 'after the rapids'..  Food Security, Water Supply, Energy, Social Cohesion, Emergency Preparedness.. both for me, family and my closest (in this case) 60,000 or so neighbors...  reduce wasteful expenditures in money, energy, materials, time-used..

  -- As I was typing this, a solar panel arrived at my doorstep (no joke), which I bought from hard-won bucks from a lucky summer job.  I kind of want a new camera for my business, to improve the jobs I can take.. in either case, it's one form of income or another. --  


It's like that Eleanor Roosevelt quote from above.. 'It takes as much energy to plan as to dream'

I think many of the paths are pretty clear, but they are unspectacular, and anathema to our expectations of MiddleClass American Life (apologies to those not wearing such shoes)..  Simplify, Cut Back, Rethink, Reconnect within your community, Stop the TV-babble (as much as possible), Diversify your dependencies and Produce more/Consume Less.

A lot of these 'feel wrong', but might still be right, you're just contradicting the norms, and by doing so are automatically 'judging' those neighbors you want to make sure you are connected to..  no saying there aren't a lot of conflicts and difficulties in reinventing/rediscovering what makes up 'the good life', what is essential, and what is fluff/addiction/distraction..

"Did you really think you could kill time and not injure eternity?"  Thoreau

the advice I got was to watch the water's flow, the path you need to take.. NOT the rocks you are worried about running into

Lovely image.

Unfortunately, whereas the "water's flow" and the "rocks" are perfectly visible to us in a river, the future is opaque.

Not visible. There is nothing to guide us but guesswork.

And contradictory claims by multiple "experts."

  I may have already done this in the reply to Dan UR, but I'm trying to find the right way of saying this..

  I guess it depends on what you are willing to call 'innovations'..  some get more complex, some resimplify.. the whole process to me seems to be a continual shifting out and back, at least as it happens when I am designing and implementing 'solutions'..  There have been passive solar homes throughout the ages, but as we started reigniting that idea in the 1970s, it was an innovation from the existing 'Line it up with the street and put windows everywhere' mode of architecture.  I am playing with innovating the roofing and siding materials into a more modular, long-term system that can function in a few specialised ways, Ventilation/Evaporation, Photosynthesis, Heat Collection.. etc.  It adds either complexity to your siding, or adds more functionality to your Heating/Cooling/Power system, depending on which side you're looking at.

  There's stuff in the pipeline that isn't just more snazzy, plastic 'Sharper Image' gadgetry..  I mean, boy, do I cringe with Weltshmertz when I see all the solar panels that are being pumped out of the RealGoods catalog to live for 6-8weeks in these cheezy Path Lights.. Useless! .. but think of all the mercury batteries that will never be produced, since the solar desk-calculator has become a standard form?  Shouldn't take much more silicon to make a simple, solar PDA..   ahh! There I go, getting all 'Taintered' with complexity.. Dang!

Bob Fiske


I obviously don't disagree with implementing efficiency improvements.  FWIW, I designed and built passive solar houses 25 years ago.  There really isn't any trick to it. I designed our current house during that period.  However, I could only get 30% of the winter heat from solar without going to an active system; and a large one at that since the mountains of northern California where I live can often go for 1-2 weeks with significant insolation.

The problem with household energy efficiency is the large installed base - just like transportation.  There are two factors that probably preclude real upgrading of efficieny beyond CFL's:  First, cost.  People are in hock up to their ears and do't have to bucks to renvoate.  Second, and ultimately, people have to see life differently.  By this I mean that they have to move away from consumption (and having babies) and come to see that life can be satisfying and rewarding without stuff.

I'm old enough to have lived when there was no TV, AC and all the things people demand now as standard issue.  People mostly stayed home and talked on the porch.  I'm still pretty much like that.  I went to my first movie in 20 years to see An Inconvient Truth.  We don't get TV, although we do watch videos and dvd's.  We provide much of our food and all of our water and heat (firewood).


Glad you saw the movie, Todd.  I've been meaning to ask if you could point me towards some sources of design/build passive solar houses. Thanks.

Let's start with the reality that I am out of date and there are newer books out there.  But, still, even while newer materials are available, the design calcs are the same. With that caveat, here goes:  The Passive Solar Energy Book (Expanded professional edition) by Edward Mazria, 1979, ISBN 0-87857-238-4.  Not many pictures but provides data for heat loss/heat gain calculations.  A good book.  Design for a Limited Planet by Norma Skurka and Jon Naar, 1976, ISBN 0-345-27489-X.  Little technical detail but lots of pictures on what others have done and a synopsis of the designs. Solar Houses by Louis Groop, 1978, ISBN 0-394-73543-9.  Similar to the preceeding book. A Design and Construction Handbook for Energy-Saving Houses by Alex Wade, 1980, ISBN 0-87857-274-0.  Lots of good information but doesn't provide you with the information you need to do heat gain/heat loss calculations.

One of the toughest things to deal with is thermal mass.  None of these books really gets into it seriously and I can't find the one I'm thinking of.  In any case, I hope this helps.


Thanks so much. I'll look at those.
What is tough with thermal mass? To calculate how much you need for a certain behaviour and how fast it will exchange heat energy with the rest of the house?

My first guess would be the more the merrier within the insulated climate shell as long as it is cheap. It will anyway be influenced by the furniture. Thick concrete floors and walls, brick and stone is good. Adding 5 or 10 cm to the ground slab and cast a load bearing internal wall that you are sure wont be moved in 15 cm concrete wont hurt anything.  

If I ever build a house a lot of it will be made in thick concrete.

Using the mass for day-night cycle storage means that you will have a changing indoor temperature. And you can cut down on the heat input during daytime giving a need for good ways to keep excess sunlight out of your windows. But it is nice to have a house that wont freeze for days if whatever heating system you use quits when it is  -10 C.

For active heat energy storage I would use a large water tank or two and input heat from one simple wood fired fireplace or larger boiler and perhaps a solar heater. It could also keep me with hot water for a week.


What's hard about thermal mass is to get the right periodicity of heat loss and heat gain based upon insolation.  More is usually not better but so is too little.

Although there are a lot of systems that use water as the heat sink, it's usually easier and cheaper to used a collector and forced air circulation with the heat stored in a rock bin under the house.  I once did design a heat system using water circulated through a wood heater.  I never built it because we sold the property.  Frankly, I wasn't impressed with the actual amount of heat versus the firewood required.

For concrete construction, a good starting point is The Portland Cement Association's Guide to Concrete Homebuilding Systems by Pieter Vanderwerf and Keith Munsell, 1995, ISBN 0-07-067020-X.  It's available as a remainder from places like Edward Hamilton Bookseller.


The most important thing with passive structural heat storage for night and day cycles is probably to accept a temperature swing in your indoor air to get the heat energy into and out of the strucure. I made a dumb grammatical error about this in my original comment. :(

I mostly see it as a way to even out outdoor temperature swings lasting for several days of very hot or very cold weather.

when I designed my house I kicked around the idea of an insulated concrete floor with embedded radiant heating in it. then hooking it to my solar water heater.
didn't do it but it was a nice pipe dream  
A very well insulated concrete ground slab with embedded radiant heating with plain water in PEX tubes as a heat carrier is the most common way to heat new small houses in Sweden. It gives exellent comfort while being fairly cheap and works well with low temperature heat sources such as heat pumps or deeply cycling hot water tanks heating by a wood or pellet fired boiler. It is also very good for hooking up with a solar water heater but that is usually not worth the effort since you anyway need another heat source for the winter and additional fuel for that is usually cheaper then the capital cost for the solar heater.

Yes, I used to build homes and condos like that, with various combinations of mass, in floor radiant heating, solar systems driving it. There is no optimum mass given the variety of life styles as far as I can tell. What matters far and away the most is the design temperature for the inhabited space, the zoning and how well regulated you want the temperature. Surfaces, reflectivity. If you can put up with 55-60 and warmer during day - wear long underwear and close off half the house it's pretty easy. What I wish I'd done with my house - build it more like an onion, with the core better separated from the half-heated or closed off spaces. Human beings are very sensitive to radiant temperatures, so a warm surface in an otherwise cold room can be very effective.

cfm in Gray, ME

Check out www.monolithicdome.com

I built a wood-framed 40' diameter dome (3/8ths dome) on a 3' riser wall (19'6" at the apex) in 1974.  Here are a few problems with domes:  There is a lot of unused volume if they are left even partly open which is really one of the main points of building a dome. Next, the only vertical walls are the ones that separate rooms.  This makes it difficult to hang pictures, place bookcases, etc.  Finally, it is difficult to get a decent R value even with sprayed on insulation.  My house has an R-47 roof, R-20 walls and it's on an insulated slab.  Plus, I'll tell you it gets old as hell dealing with an "out-of-plumb" structure with a lot of angles when we live in a plumb world of 4x8 plywood

I'd forget the dome and go with SIP (structural insulated panels)construction were I building again.


Todd, It sounds like you built a geodesic dome? I've heard of lots of problems with them. The Monolithic Dome is air formed, sprayed with 4 inches of polyurathane foam, then the rebar and 4 inches of concrete. It is built from the inside so the concrete is inside the insulation envelope. Incrediable strenth and thermal qualities. David South who designs and builds these domes claims an effective r-value of 60! I've built two domes at work-shops in Italy, Texas. Very fast and inexpensive to build. I believe that in a resourse sparse future these domes will help in many ways. I've been looking for an area to relocate for a couple of years now. I intend to build a few of these domes sometime in the near future....Bob
I read somewhere that 2X4's aren't 2 by 4 anymore and instead like 1 3/4 by 3 3/4 or something.  Anyone know what I'm talking about?  Something to do with cutting corners, ahem, I meant costs.
2x4's have never actually been 2x4, that I know of.  They are 1-1/2 x 3-1/2.

They are 2x4 when they are cut from the log, but shrink as they dry.  Then they are planed to smooth them, which further reduces their size.

Many homes in New Orleans are built of dimensional lumber.  Cypress was the early favorite, with "heart pine" following that.

Minor repairs can be problematic, with new lumber being undersized.  And one needs to pre-drill holes before nailing in heart pine.

Alan has this correct, dimensional lumber from the "old days" was, indeed, larger than today's dimensional lumber, and almost always of superior quality (old growth and/or heart pine or hardwood...I've been in homes from the 1910's and 20's with oak framing).
There is an argument for minimal thermal mass as well.

Let the house heat/cool as much as it wants when unoccupied.  Then minimal energy to heat/cool back to comfortable when one comes home, with smaller sized equipement.

Thermal mass seems to be a negative for New Orleans summers, as an example.

No night cooling; 80F (28 C?) at dawn and then up from there on a day when it does not rain.

Back in the 1980s I remember reading a research piece that stated the use of thermal mass was very climate specific.

I even remember seeing a map of USA showing best-practise on a regional basis...

I'll try & see if I can dig it out...

Meanwhile, in UK building regs now require concrete house slabs to be insulated.

Found it...

All way too complex. No one wants to own a house with rock bins or any of that other stuff. It puts people off. Feels obsessive.
Insulate. Insulate as close to exterior as possible. Insulate as seamlessly as possible. Any structure that is doing big day/night temp swings is not insulated. When you are passively insulated the active components are less and less important, the energy inputs tiny.
Think cave. A well insulated structure behaves much like a cave.
The best passive solar houses that I've seen use planter beds in the greenhouse for thermal mass (as well as a thick concrete slab).  Generally makes the house smell spring fresh year round...a bit of an improvement over a cave, I'd say.
I think there's a bit more to a good design than just insulation.  I agree that when the house is sealed up, it shouldn't fluctuate that much in temperature.  But the reality is, when it's over 100 degrees outside, your inside temperature is going to go up.  There recently was a heatwave in my area and the record indoor temperature was 88 degrees.  That's pretty good, I think, when you're talking about temperatures well over 100 outside, but it's still pretty warm.  

Once the sun goes down, insulation works backwards and keeps your house a roasting oven, even after temperatures have fallen off outside.  Which is why I would say an equally important aspect is probably adequate ventillation.  You need a way to get all of that heat out of the house once it's heated up, which means you need a few windows.  Or at least an interior design that lets you channel the heat out one side, while pushing cool air in from the other.  

In a colder climate the opposite might be a problem, although if one relies on artificial heating, which is obviously a necessity in cool climates, then maybe ventillation is not as important.  In a hot climate, though, unless you are going to rely completely on the AC, night cooling is pretty important in my opinion.  

In colder, and perhaps warmer climates, I wonder about a "super-insulated room".  A bedroom with attached bath, perhaps with a small stove (exterior combustion air).  R = 100+, no exterior doors.  A retreat in the coldest weather.

In a warmer climate, perhaps a very small window type a/c driven by PV panel (mine uses 600 watts).  Rest of house could have tall ceilings, cross ventilation and ceiling fans.

Go here to see how we retrofitted our home in NC to go from 56 kWh per day to 9 kWh per day.  Significantly behavioral, but also systems/structural.  Very doable for what many can afford.  And - as we are attempting to influence with our example - doable for many more if utilities were properly incentivized. Note that the paybacks on my spreadsheet do not include tax rebates for solar space and water heating.
1100 kWh/month is the average?  yeow.  We're less than half that here (asheville) and don't even try that hard.  Of course we don't have the (now) normal trappings like AC and a dryer, but we do have electric hot water.  I'll bet phantom loads are railing us though.  The last time I was at a big box (home despot) I asked the guy if they had Kill-a-Watt meters and he looked at me like I had three heads.  I've been looking in the local "stuff" paper here the iwanna (http://www.iwanna.com/) for solar systems, and they do show up ocassionally, but they also disspear fast.  There was one just recently that had 5 panels for $1000 but it was gone before I had a chance to blink.  Not entirely sure how well a system would work here anyway, though...kind of in-between ridges with a lot of trees and a poorly oriented house.
I think about the massive amount of existing homes, and of the difficulties that working-class folks will have in breaking out of the pure furnace dependence.  I am trying out some inexpensive designs for Solar Hot-air and Water to help take the edge off the Oil Bills, which will start either freezing, burning or starving people up here this winter if it's really a cold one.

In Coastal Maine, we're lucky to have a lot of Sun, so that PV electric and even solar heat should be well worthwhile in wintermonths, if done right.  Heard about a greenhouser up here who did so well in Fall, Winter and Spring, that he let the gardens rest up in the summer, and took himself a vacation!

My family built a Passive Solar Saltbox house up in the White Mts in 1980, including a Finnish Fireplace (2hr burn kept the mass hot for 1-2days), and a 'cool tube', sort of a poor man's geothermal which allowed an earth temp-normaled air supply from underground to feed the house, all 12 months.  Warm, 45 air in the winter,  cool 45 air in the summer, always fresh with fair/moderate humidity.


How well did the house in the White Mountains work?  I just moved to VT and am building a passive-solar timberframe saltbox and will have a masonry heater as the primary heat with a closed loop geothermal heat pump as a back-up so would be interested in hearing your perspective.

The house was pretty successful, tho' we were out of it in too-few years, due to us kids growing up, and other paths moving us all away.  Miss the house and the land terribly.

Liked the 'Cool Tube' a lot, as very simple, minimal downsides, as far as I know. (Look it up now, there's very little mention of it.. some reports of humidity build-up and mold in Humid, summer months.. ours was made from bottom-perfed 4" drain pipe, and sloped, so I don't think it was an issue.. but truly one to take care around, as this serves as the fresh-air supply.  Another benefit as such, was that this would tend to keep the house from developing 'negative pressure', so any cracks/gaps would be less drawn to have icy or steamy indrafts.  System does depend on generally very tight building, tho', so updrafts at the house peak pulled in the air through the cooltube.

email me and I'll tell you about other parts of the design, etc.. it'll be hard to backtrack here, if an afterthought hits me.


This is part of the technology problem - innovation may solve the issue and it may not. We just don't know. Further, as our technology advances, it becomes increasingly complex and costly to do further research in an existing field. (This is part of the complexity problem Tainter discusses in his book on the collapse of societies.)

So betting on innovation is betting on a complete unknown. We might have a breakthrough but fusion researchers have been saying they've expected fusion to become viable for 50 years now. More recently some fusion researchers are admitting they are not sure if we will ever tame fusion, though I personally advocate continued research. We may learn to control fusion and we will surely learn something else - we're just never sure what else we will learn.

However, beyond technology there is another issue, larger than technology. That is resource depletion against a geometrically growing population base. This is a solvable problem if the world wants to solve it, yet so far there is no sign that the world cares to solve it, other than just slowing it down a little bit. If we don't get a handle on the population problem, then no probable technology can save us.

I'm very skeptical about fusion energy. The reward would be great but the technological problems are extreme. The limited progress that has been made over the past 50 years suggest that fusion power may never become practical. At what point do we give up and divert the vast sums that are being spent on fusion research into potentially more fruitful areas such as alternative energy research, battery research, public transportation, etc.? I agree completely with you statement about the population problem. Population growth is at the root of peak oil and natural resource depletion.

At what point do we give up and divert the vast sums that are being spent on fusion research into potentially more fruitful areas such as alternative energy research, battery research, public transportation, etc.?

Hopefully never as long as the efforts continue to give new knowledge about plasma physics, new materials, etc. We should on a global level be able to afford a large number of such research projects. Its like astronomy, what use is a highly advanced global culture if we dont use it to add to our knowledge of the world?

I'm a physicist (have even worked in the nuclear field), so I'm sympathetic. We have learned a great deal about matter at extreme temperatures, developed lasers, magnetic confinement, etc., and I do favor high energy physics research as long as humans have the resources to do it. However, it's a question of emphasis. Should we continue to fund fusion energy research at current levels, increase funding, or divert some of the funding to other promising alternative energy fields? At this point, I'm in favor of either freezing funding levels for fusion research or diverting some of the money to solar/wind/battery/etc. research. If peak oil is real and imminent, is there really time to develop a nuclear fusion reactor, given that the problems have not been solved? Yes, we can learn from the research, but we can also learn a lot from research in other areas.
Assuming we can keep a civilization, that's a legitimate question and should be reviewed periodically like any other decision. But just cutting it off entirely would be foolish because we just might make that breakthrough one day, and even if not, serendipity will likely yield other unexpected benefits.

I don't think any of us commenting here really disagree that the research should continue. The only question is at what level and honestly, we can't answer that because we don't know how wealthy or poor civilization will be if the oil situation becomes very problematic.

Vast sums? Hahahahahaha! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

A quick google tells us that the USA is spending on the order of $290 million a year on "fusion sciences". Big deal. That's less than a mile about of Los Angeles Red Line extension. "Mass transit" is so unaffordable we'll never have much of it. And there may be no need to care - it's now probably only a matter of time before some safety fascist bans "liquids" like toothpaste, and who knows what else, from transit systems. So you can say goodbye to the concept of riding transit home from the grocery store - or any other store except maybe the clothing store.

Now, as to that other "more fruitful" stuff, we can easily fund research into all of it, using only minor petty cash. (What we can't afford are huge premature implementation boondoggles such as that for corn ethanol. Those run into the tens of billions. But they have nothing to do with research, and everything to do with a weird combination of rampant corruption and mindless pastoral nostalgia.) The fusion spending is too utterly trivial to compete with anything at all. Indeed, the risible spending level may well have something to do with the lack of success, since fusion is not an easy problem.

Vast sums? Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
While fusion power is still in early stages of development, vast sums have been and continue to be invested in research. In the EU almost € 10 billion was spent on fusion research up to the end of the 90s, and the new ITER reactor alone is budgeted at €10 billion. It is estimated that up to the point of possible implementation of electricity generation by nuclear fusion, R&D will need further promotion totalling around € 60-80 billion over a period of 50 years or so (of which € 20-30 billion within the EU). In the current EU research programme (FP6), nuclear fusion research receives € 750 million (excluding ITER funding), compared with € 810 million for all non-nuclear energy research combined, putting research into fusion power well ahead of that of any single rivaling technology.

Unfortunately, despite optimism dating back to the 1950's about the wide-scale harnessing of fusion power, there are still significant barriers standing between current scientific understanding and technological capabilities and the practical realization of fusion as an energy source. Research, while making steady progress, has also continually thrown up new difficulties. Therefore it remains unclear that an economically viable fusion plant is even possible.
I recall a quote from my collage chemistry professor (and former Los Alamos nuclear labs researcher):
"Fusion is the power source of the future....and always will be."
I've heard the same thing said of oil shale.
GreyZone wrote:
[T]here is another issue, larger than technology. That is resource depletion against a geometrically growing population base. This is a solvable problem if the world wants to solve it, yet so far there is no sign that the world cares to solve it.

I agree. This is the core problem, the one that absolutely must be addressed. Is it solvable? I'm not convinced. The only "humane" ways of stopping population growth is limiting family size to 2 children or less. Thus we must have birth control. Women must be empowered to control their own bodies. What are the signs of progress on this front? In developed nations, very good. Everywhere else, men continue to dominate women and have large families. The proven correlation is that family sizes decrease  with women's education and access to clean water and sanitation. My position is that solving the problem of population growth is intimately bound up with solving the poverty problems in the "third world".

Is it possible to solve the poverty problems of the 3rd world? That is up for debate. One thing is for certain, solving those problems will require energy sources.

Is population strictly a 3rd world issue? Or is population also an issue in developed western countries. Let's think of the US for example. I think population is a serious issue in certain locales, like Los Angeles. Without cheap energy, the carrying capacity of many US cities starts to look like a problem. How about the Midwest or Northwest, areas that are arguably well endowed with water, forests, arable land, etc? Without cheap energy, how will population numbers in these regions "settle out"? I'm not sure, especially when refugees from LA start coming north.

What do you think?

I think the idea is that we in the US have the worst population problem on earth because each one of us uses so much energy...I believe Dr. Bartlett mentions that it's hypocritical for us to lecture other countries on their problems when we haven't solved ours. My view is that we should be both providing an example and exponentially increasing our contributions to solving the Third World's population problems, but alas, we are not.
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate

Much of the "innovation" I see touted as replacing fossil fuel energy is aimed at maintaining the status quo.  To solve our energy problems we must achieve a new level of consciousness regarding our creation and usage of energy.  Simply replacing fuel sources without replacing consciousness is IMO a waste of both time and energy.

The link given to the blog goes to a generic ISP home page, but whois shows that the prez. is the owner of the domain name
How does the president of a freakin' country have time for a blog?
Maybe he doesn't pump iron 2.5 hours a day (when he isn't on a 4 day weekend or another six week vacation) like an unnamed President of a major country.
How does the president of the country have time for a freakin' radio address? http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/radio/

On the other hand, some countries have gotten with the times and discovered video: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al%C3%B3_Presidente on a 3-6 hour long weekly talkshow.

http://www.ahmadinejad.ir/ seems to work now.  His initial post is mostly propaganda against the "Great Satan USA," history of his rags-to-riches rise to power, glory of the revolution, and other incredibly fascinating mundane content.

To read the English version you can click on the Ameristralian flag in the upper right corner beneath the picture of the studious prez.

Looks like he's allowing himself 15 minutes per post, which answers my question below.

...er, above.
This is not an OK to discuss Iran/Iraq issues that are not related to oil.  :-)

Iraq and Iran sign oil agreements


Tehran, Aug. 13, (BNA) Iranian Oil Minister, Khadim Waziri and his Iraqi counterpart, Hossein Shahrastani, signed here on Sunday a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the oil field.

Iran News Agency (IRNA) said the Mou stipulated that Iran should supply Iraq with kerosene and liquefied Gas in return for crude oil. Iran's Oil Minister said in a statement following the signing of the Mou that Iran will receive 100 thousand crude oil barrels and get them refined on its soil and in return Iraq will receive two million litres of kerosene. He added that Iran will soon meet an Iraqi desire to purchase oil tanks and oil derivatives from Tehran. On the other side, the Iraqi Minister of Oil said the two countries reached an agreement on exchanging and trading in crude oil and oil derivatives and signed another accord on formation of joint delegations to study oil fields in both countries.

Thats odd, I read last month that Iran was rationing gasoline. Now they have spare capacity for Iraq?
The Australian Govt is in panic mode about oil prices as it faces an election in the next 10 mths, so has announced a AUS$1.6 bill (about US$1.2 bill) give away to fund conversions to LPG, smaller amounts to search for more oil:

75% of Australians (up from 38% a year ago) think they are not doing enough about the issue- hence the panic.

All Australian Governments (Federal, State and Local) follow an anti-duck model to get elected. A duck looks very smooth on the water but is pedalling like hell under water. The Aus Governments make a lot of fuss and bother, especially just before elections, but do sh*t all where it counts

It seems to get them re-elected.

In this case there is a lot of natural gas in the sea to the northwest - everyone ignores the fact that a lot has been sold to China at a (low) fixed cost. The Federal govt is also making a lot of fuss about Ethanol as it helps cement the farmers votes - pity the country is in permanent drought.

"pity the country is in permanent drought."

Most of Australia sits in the subtropical high pressure zone, a point of subsidence in Earth's global atmospheric circulation.

A $1.6 Billion fossil fuel subsidy, at the same time when electric cars like the Reva are left floundering in Australian docks due to regulatory incompetence.
It's not only that Western cars are getting more heavy. 1000 Germans own 650 cars. 1000 Chinese own 15 cars. The world average is 123 cars per 1000 inhabitants.

Assuming that China will reach the world average by 2020, we will have 200 million additional cars. The Chinese government thinks they will need 600 Million tons of oil per year in 2020.

Iranis add 1 million cars per year, meaning their export capabilities of oil will decline.

Not necessarily. You are leaving out a huge amount of factors.
Assuming that China will reach the world average by 2020, we will have 200 million additional cars. The Chinese government thinks they will need 600 Million tons of oil per year in 2020.

Projections like this have never made sense to me because they incorrectly assume that current growth rates will continue into the forseeable future. Anyone who frequents this site knows on some level that such an assumption is pure bunk.

For once, I'd like to see a projection for car ownership that took Peak Oil and societal breakdown into account, and as a result predicted less automobiles per capita at some future date than the current number. Surely, it must be obvious that in the not-too-distant future gas will become prohibitively expensive for the "rank and file" and only the very wealthy will be able to afford to fill up. What kinds of er capita numbers will we see then? -- an average of 5 cars per thousand... 2 per thousand?

In general, the reality just hasn't hit home yet that the global community is facing severe shrinkage rather than growth.

I agree that these sorts of projections are stupid, but would making one for a Peak Oil scenario be any less futile?  Depending on what conditions you set, you can come up with just about any projection you want.  Projections going forward tend to assume continuation of the status quo, which is silly, but at least it maintains a similar basis for comparison.  

Anyway, what these sorts of projections tell me, is that regardless of whether oil peaks and declines, demand for oil is going to outstrip supply.  Peaking is a serious concern, but even without peaking, it's clear production growth is not going to keep up with demand growth.  Long term oil prices are going to go up, gas prices are going to go up, and cars are going to be a lot more expensive to operate and be quite a bit less ideal to use for primary transportation.  

I completely agree with you on demand continuing to outstrip supply, Nagorak. I also admit that there is no solid criteria for preparing projections showing negative growth, other than perhaps computer models that predict disaster scenarios.

It just annoys me to no end to see projections for future growth that any resonable person familiar with Peak Oil knows is ridiculous.

Why is is crazy to assume linear growth or even exponential?  I AGREE that it IS crazy to assume growth, but that's all we've done for the last hundred thousand or so years, so really is it THAT crazy?  It's all people know, so it's not crazy it's a belief structure.  We assume growth based on models of the past and while they are no indication of the future, you and I both know you are doomed to repeat it.  

The growth that is discussed in exponential or linear terms is simply taking the data we have to work with and understanding the possibilities of the future if things sustain.  There is no assumption that it will just happen, but rather that based on what we KNOW, this is the possibility.  The population curve is near vertical as we speak and this is from not even 50 years ago!

It's this thinking that's got it wrong.  In 1970 when the limits to growth was published it was heresay to think that the growth rate of the planet could double in less than 50 years!  The status quo remained and it will remain when nothing changes.  Now that these people are here, they will strip every resources from this planet at whatever price.

The french lily in the limits to growth sums it up best.  If a lily is taking over a pond and it's rate of growth is doubling each day it will take 30 days for the pond to be completely covered.  If you waited until the pond is 50% covered before making the decision to act, how much time would you have?  You'd have one day since on the 29th day it would cover half and the next day it would smother the pond.  Exponential growth does happen, there are enough people on this planet to prove that point.  Saying it's not going to continue is like a no brainer, but ignoring that it IS happening is nieve.

After rereading several posts are you simply at odds with linear growth of everything, or just oil?  

Only tangentially related to oil, but interesting nonetheless...

Hope Has Withered for India's Farmers

An epidemic of suicides is sweeping India's poor farmers:

Fueled by crushing debt, failing crops and government indifference, the suicides are a stark reminder of the desperate poverty that continues to engulf huge swaths of this nation of 1 billion, despite the enthusiastic portrayals of India at home and abroad as a software powerhouse, an outsourcing giant and an economic juggernaut with growth of 8% a year.

...The farmers have been hit by a double whammy: The cost of seeds, fertilizer and other supplies has shot up dramatically, while the state government has cut its guaranteed purchase price by 32% and bought up less of the harvest, forcing farmers to sell low to private traders.

Some farmers, in desperation, end up borrowing from loan sharks at 50% or 60% interest.  

Damn. We can probably expect more of that as the oil peak becomes obvious. The oil peak and the shortages will create plenty of reasons for despair.
We had a good turnout at the Houston Peak Oil Conference.  Alanfrombigeasy and I both spoke.  Several TOD'ers were in attendance, including Bubba.  

I didn't get to say hello, but reportedly Henry Groppe was in the audience.

FYI--article on Henry Groppe:

I went to the first 2/3rd of the conference, but unfortunately had to leave before the end sessions.  There seemed to be a pretty good turnout, but I would be interested in the actual numbers.  I think from the sessions I went to that everyone did a pretty good job of describing the problems, and that there was a good mix of reality and optimism that doing something was better than doing nothing.  Westexas gave a good talk, but he was preaching to the choir as most people seemed to have done a lot of homework on the internet.  The talk on Urban Rail options seemed especially relevent given Houston is going for a second line right now.
I would love it if someone could point me to a summary of the final sesssion, and whether or not some recommendations can be made at different levels of the problem - i.e 10 recomendations for the average person in Houston, 10 recomendations for the Houston Mayor, 10 recomendations for the outlying cities, and 10 recomendations for the state of TX.
I especially liked that as I came in at the start of the conference, there was a guy standing outside handing out leaflets claiming to debunk peakoil and that we all crazy, with all the usual awful arguments.  (for some reason an argument has been made that the invisible hand and market will make adustments to other fuels and we will be ok means that visible hands doing work are just not needed)  For me anyway, that guy was a sign that the message is getting out there, even if denial is a stage in that.
I was tempted to jump in my car and drive over, but 1) am lazy; and 2) would just be adding to the problem... 23mpg, 400 mile round trip. 17 gallons and some change.
Housing Market Versus Oil Market

Nationwide, median housing prices are up year over year, but down since December.

Market weakness is being led by order declines in the luxury home segment, e.g., Toll Brothers' orders are down 50'% year over year.  

Kind of sounds like the oil market.

AS I understand it, we are all patiently watching and waiting to see if a peak does occur in the near term data, right? In fact, that`s what Stuarts famous “Plateau” posts are all about.

Wouldn`t it be funny if peak occurred right under our noses and we didn`t spot it?

How do you explain this then?

The Collapse of OPEC Production

Look at this graph, noting the Sept 06 high point....

Note we have 8 monthly data points after the peak and they paint a picture of linear decline.

People have said “as goes Ghawar so goes the world”, surely “as goes opec, so goes the world?” If we could not forestall world peak if Ghawar collapses (5.5 mbpd production), then we stand no chance if opec as a whole peaks (31.5 mbpd peak production). Is this what the data is showing?

Maybe its not as bad as it looks. Latest data point on the graph is May 06. Do we have any further data? Why, yes we do. Petrologistics has come out with 30.03 mbpd for opec June output. I will leave it to you to eyeball the graph and decide if this data point fits also (I know what I think). As for the decline rate approx. 31.5 to 30 is 5% in 8 months!

How come nobody has commented on this?

Correction - that should be Sept 05 high point
There is a good chance that the market is becomming over supplied. Just look at the oil price. It is at almost the same level as last year. OPEC might just be controlling their output to keep prices up (isn't that what the goal of the cartel is?).
OPEC could be trying to control output, but AFAIK OPEC's ability to enforce its quotas has been pretty limited. Cartels often fail because any one member can get a short-term individual gain by overproducing. Given the huge demographic and economic pressures on most OPEC countries, even with $75 oil, I doubt there are many producers with a foot on the brakes.
It would be great if someone looked at OPEC with Nigeria subtracted out. Wouldn't Nigeria represent a large chunk of this decline... that would not be due to depletion.

That is a most interesting curve, but I don't know what it means yet.

Do you have the data broken down by OPEC country?

I'll ask a question that I put forward yesterday - could the decrease in crude output be b/c refineries are max'd out?  
An energy analyst friend of mine was firmly convicted this was the reason for decreased output.
After looking at the US refinery usage stats (90-92% for July) - I think this statement has some merit.  BUT - does anyone have refinery utilization numbers worldwide?

It would seem rational for country to decline their output, even with the high prices, if they had no where to ship it for refining/storage.

Anyone have any thoughts?


It seems to me that if refining bottlenecks were the big problem oil profits should increasingly flow to refiners, not producers.  I don't know if that has in fact happened.
That's my guess, too.

If oil were "backed up" behind refinery "bottlenecks," then why is oil so high? Wouldn't the price fall?

I guess the reply to that would be that the current price is currently propped up by speculation. (a la SelfAggrandized Trader).

My only issue with this is that the fundamentals (supply/depletion and demand) seem to justify the current price.

A few observations:
  • your production axis should start at zero
  • The loss is around 3% over 9 months
  • between 2000 and 2002, there was a fall in production of almost 8%
Thanks for all the comments, especially Khebab. It was your work on HL that got me interested in this site.

Your observations

* your production axis should start at zero

This is merely a way of "zooming in" on the interesting portion of the data, it in no way changes the data you`re looking at. Consequently, there is no reason to start the axis at zero. Anyone who used an oscilloscope constantly changes the axis and zero point to bring out the relevant portion of the data.

* The loss is around 3% over 9 months

You are correct it is 9 months sept 05 to jun 06. Not sure how you get 3%. I used to calibrate scientific instruments, so calculating percentages is second nature to me, thus:

31.5 to 30.0 is a drop of 1.5 mbpd, right? A change of 1.5 from 31.5 is 1.5/31.5*100=4.76%.

Lets do it in reverse just to make sure: 100-4.76=95.24% of the original left. so, 31.5*0.9524=30.0006. correct. About 5% as I said.

* between 2000 and 2002, there was a fall in production of almost 8%

True,but oil prices had not started their huge rise then. Why the falling production at a time of rising prices?

Best Regards

An interview with Henry Groppe (check out his comments on food):


I don't want to piss on the peak-oil parade, but that "Enron connection" article is an eye-opener to me.

The Chronwatch article alleges that the unregulated nature of the market in oil futures

has likely increased the price of oil by as much as $25 per barrel.

Can some of you market-savvy types expand on this notion ? There's nothing particularly implausible in it to me.

I have no vested interest, financial or ideological, either way. I tend to think that the speculator is the peakoiler's friend.

Excerpt from the article:  "Similarly contrary to the recent hysteria surrounding this issue, supply is expected to grow faster than demand for the foreseeable future"

I think that it is fair to say that the author is not a "Peak Oiler."  He is basically asserting that currently high oil prices don't reflect a Peak Oil situation--despite the fact that oil prices have been up 15% to 30% since world production started falling in late 2005.  

In any case, his oil price premise could be completely correct, but irrelevant, if we are, as a I suspect, right at the beginning of a long term decline in world oil production.

This article basically reflects the prevailing public opinion regarding Peak Oil--the Anger/Denial stage, on the way to the Acceptance Stage.

Yes, I'm aware that the author is one of the Great Unwashed regarding peak oil. He makes a number of bald assertions, some of them revealing ignorance about oil supply, and others alleging that speculation has greatly boosted oil prices.

But he could be right about the second part, and that is what I want to understand more about.

It seems to me that, if a temporary slackening of demand (demand destruction) / increase in supply (new production) caused speculators to bail, sending oil down to $50, then the general press and public reaction would be "well gee, those peak oilers had it all wrong! Stop worrying and pass the mortgage agreement... "

which would be a major setback on the path to a sustainable future.

Possibly, peakoilers WANT the high oil price to be due to supply and demand, discounting speculation as an influence... this would be partisan blindness.

I'm not too into trying to analyze why prices are doing whatever in the short term (5 yearish), but it seems to me that now that OPEC and others have seen that 60-70 dollar oil has not crushed the world economy, then why would they sell for less ?  In other words, the motivation to hold prices at a lower level (assuming there is excess capacity somewhere - which may not be true) is not there.  And, it seems Saudi and others recognize that stable prices are important and they may believe that it is more possible to stabilize prices at the more recent higher level.  If we really are entering into the long decline then we will know soon enough.
I have said here before that with 2 TRILLION dollars of real physical demand for oil on an annual basis it would require an enormous amount of money for speculators to cause oil to be 25 USD above "fair value" for a period of a year or more. This is fanciful in my opinion. I think speculators can add upto 10 USD in the very short term only. Speculators don't have enough money to push it up from 25 USD to 75 USD and hold it up over three years. IMO, 90% of the price move is simple demand (China/India/US) and supply (depletion/lack of spare capacity).
I agree 100%, but keep in mind the influence of hedge funds.  Currently "Assets" under management is $1.5T and that is a best guess.  Some put it much higher and $2T isn't far off.  Since the clearing houses control the largest flow of these funds, if several hedge funds acted together, they could probably swing it short term, but again long term it's iffy.

You are exactly right as far as the public reaction to falling oil prices.  

Right now, the MSM is still full of articles about, "The Oil Bull Market (Commodities Bull Market)" and how prices have, "nowhere to go but up."  There's no risk involved in investing in commodoties, of course, since they can't go down, given Chindias exponential growth prospects, falling dollar (even though the dollar is rising), rising inflation (even though inflation is almost nonexistent), global instability (oh, God) etc.  In fact, it's gotten to the extreme that even Peak Oilers have begun to get some press!  This is a very bad sign.  

A month from now, we will be seeing articles more along the lines of, "Is This the End of The Oil Bull Market?"  "Gold Loses it's Luster,"  "Increased Production Prospects Cap Oil's Rise,"  "Decreased Demand Prospects Curtail Oil's Rise," etc.

Finally, as oil reaches its bottom, the media will be advising everyone to sell, screaming, "This is the End of the Oil Bull Market!"  and claiming that, "prices have nowhere to go but down."  "Get Out While you Still Can!"  At that point, as oil prices descend towards the high 50's, even most TODers will probably be claiming that, "the smart money is waiting until oil hits 40 to get back in."

In my opinion, people concerned about falling oil prices putting a damper on conservation efforts and efforts to alert the public about approaching peak oil have nothing to worry about.  This is a longterm bull market and the pullback will only be temporary (although that's not what you'll be hearing as we approach the bottom).  For those who are worried about peak oil, you should consider yourselves lucky, we could have just as easily been in a commodities bear market as peak approached.  Imagine how many interviews WestTexas would be doing right now if oil were at $20!

  Just an observation on your "just another commodity" statement.  Now, financial markets are not my forte, so forgive me if I am merely stating the obvious, but it seems to me that your quote is a does not accurately explain past price fluctuation in the oil markets.  10 year bull/bear markets can easily be made to fit items such as gold, copper and, if you will, oranges, though the latter seems to be bit more affected by yearly weather.  Oil OTOH seems to be run by multi decadal bear markets, 1940s-early 70s and mid 80s until now, minus a small blip in the early 90s, broken by short or long term supply crunches like those of the mid to late 70s and again now.  Unless i'm missing something the price of oil seems to be ridiculously cheap unless there is a perception of a shortage or an impending shortage.  Granted while today's price of $73 a barrel is probably been bid up to a premium by "selfagrandized traders" jumping on a commodity bandwagon, there seems to be a fundamental supply and demand balance that is driving price.  If the "wall of oil" does hit the market, regardless of the "long term bull market" prices will drop precipitously, even if the other commodities do not move in tandem, though they probably will.  From what I've seen, please correct me if I'm wrong, the supply demand balance of the other commodities has not changed in recent years, there are no shortages, nor does anyone worth their merit believe that there will be any.  Oil is the commodity most influenced by such.  Anyway, as an outside observer, $57 seems only attainable through demand destruction (a recession) or supplies increasing (possible).  Either way, barring anything catastrophic, we'll know this time next year...unless of course we don't.  
I by no means am an export, so please correct as you see fit...
I agree with a lot you said. But I think there are some shortages occuring besides that in oil. Look at days consumption in copper. At one point we were down to less than 2 days supply!! Uranium has been in a deficit situation for along time and inventories continue to fall month after month.
Anyone who buys commodities knows that when the MSM tells you to zip you zag and vice versa.
AlistareC here is the complete quote and URL which you neglected to post:

The key here is that CFMA allowed for the creation of electronic futures exchanges that would not be governed by the CFTC, and determined that energy futures and derivatives could be traded on such exchanges. In the view of this Senate report, this precipitated a tremendous expansion in the demand for energy related contracts - and the potential for manipulation by large investors around the world - that has likely increased the price of oil by as much as $25 perbarrel.

As you can see, this article puts an entirely different slant on the matter. This article is saying that the expansion into electronic futures exchanges not governed by the CFTC is responsible an increase of as much as $25 a barrel.

I believe this is pure poppycock. Just because oil is traded on the ICE, (International Commodities Exchange), does not mean that it is unregulated. These trades are must still comply with the rules and regulations set by the brokerage houses that handle the trades as well as the clearing house that must ultimately clear the trades. These people, the clearinghouse and the brokerage houses, cannot afford to allow un-margined and totally unregulated trades to take place. Also, a trade on the ICE would have no more effect on the market than a trade on the NYMEX. Also the NYMEX's share of the electronic trades, (Access), is subject to the same rules and regulations as is normal NYMEX trades.

Futures contracts are ultimately a zero sum game. For every dollar gained a dollar is lost, minus commissions. Every trade that is opened must ultimately be closed. If buying a long contract causes an uptick, the ultimate closing of that contract would cause a downtick. Also hedge funds play both sides of the market, with a few exceptions, like T. Boone Pickens and Goldman Sachs, they go short just about as often as they go long.

Also it is news that moves the market far more than the hedge funds. The news that Goldman Sachs would exit the unleaded gas futures market caused prices to drop 20 cents in one day. When they do exit the unleaded market, later this month, the movement is likely to be minimal.

But these are day to day, and perhaps week to week swings in the market. The long-term trend is governed by the fundamentals, supply and demand. Crude oil prices have been moving up for two and one half years. Demand from India and China, along with the disappearance of most spare capacity is what is causing this long term trend, not speculators day to day trades. And by the way, the average lifetime of an OPEN contract on the NYMEX is about two days; (open interest divided volume.) With an average contract lifetime of about two days, how can this possibly affect the long-term price of oil?

One more point, the NYMEX electronic trades are open, visible and regulated. If there are other electronic trades on futures or derivatives that are not visible to the NYMEX traders, then these trades could not possibly influence the NYMEX price simply because they would be unknown, not visible to traders. What traders don't know cannot possibly affect their actions.

I took some time a shot him an email earlier this morning.  I know it's not worth it, but arguing with a non peaker in the media can be fun I must admit.

You summed up the fallacy in the article nicely.  It took me far more paragraphs, but I tend to get tangential easily.

If a speculator thinks price will rise, he can buy the future. But he doesn't really want to take delivery, so he must subsuently sell the future, hopefully pocketing some profit as the position is closed.  If many speculators are doing this, enough, that is, to drive the future price up $25, then when the front month comes close these speculators must sell en masse. So, holding onto the assumed $25 impact, futures should be at least $25 higher than the front month, maybe $50 if the avg effect is $25.

But, the peak from the futures strip is $7 above the front month. To me this means that, if speculators are entirely to blame for this contango situation, they are increasing the price by $3.50.

Another way to look at this is that every barrel produced is either burned or stored.  When the US spr is included, overall storage in the US is about the same as last year. So, to me the main culprit for high prices are those foreigners, unfairly bidding for what, by rights, should be considered by all as our oil.  And, adding insult to injury, they're bidding with our $.  It is quite outrageous that the nouveau riche in Asia are outbidding the nouveau poor in the US.

As I read it, gaming a market works much better in a tight market. So, shut down a few plants/refineries/xmission lines/pipelines, whatever to make it happen. Of course, globalization and maximum financialization of sectors forces operators to work on the thinest possible margin. [Anything else is not efficient.] Where they can be sure of a taxpayer bailout when that margin fails, that is the best possible outcome.

Globalization and financialization leads to tight markets. Add in the fungibility of fish <-> fish oil <-> snake oil <-> wheat-to-ethanol etc... and everything crashes more or less at once. The more fungible, the more together.

I asked myself a question six months or so ago, why is Tom Friedman a liberal, why is Hillary Clinton a liberal? I thought a liberal was a tolerant pluralist [the purple teletubby] Turns out liberals hold two religious tenets: 1) growth is good and 2) free market fundamentalism. We have liberals and neo-liberals and con-men, but all of our "leaders" no matter what color subscribe to those two religious tenets. Liberals are fundamentally cornucopians.

Dawkins, Jensen - and a few others - write about group think as a gene or as a mental virus. Our collective faith is driving us to suicide. Our collective faith guarantees our helplessness. You know, liberals (of all parties) will try to come up with ways for business to prosper from innovation. The conservatives and crooks (we're the best because we win) will try to game the system. I don't want either of them in my lifeboat.

Whether or not we are at peak oil now doesn't matter. We're going to have less than we want too soon.

cfm in Gray, ME

Agree...we operate a one party system and get to pick which crook robs us this term.
Two things:

Is just in time dead?

In the coming years we may be faced with such a dynamic in many markets. The most devastating and far-reaching effects could come in the energy markets. Will the just-in-time religion which swept the world in the 1990s survive such a dynamic?

(so long as the tax code punishes firms for having stock on hand, yes)


Both companies claim that the technology reduces solar cell production costs by a factor of 4-5. That would bring the cost to or below that of delivered electricity in a large fraction of the world.

U.S. Wind Power Approaches 10-Gigawatt Milestone

The report also shows that U.S. developers brought online a capacity total of 822 megawatts (MW) in the first half of the year. With the strong growth, the U.S.'s cumulative wind power capacity surged to 9,971 MW -- within close striking distance of the 10-gigawatt (10,000-MW) milestone. (For a listing of projects completed and under construction, see link below.)

Texas 's cumulative total now stands at 2,370 MW of capacity -- enough to power more than 600,000 average American homes -- followed by California's 2,323 MW. Texas edged ahead of California by adding a total of 375 MW, about half of the total amount installed in the country since the beginning of the year.

I found that second story (Solar cells change electricity distribution) to be very interesting.  I surfed from there over to the Nanoslar homepage.  These seem to be advancing pretty fast.  Apparently it will all hit the market in 2007, and we'll know for sure then ...
Oh, and those stirling guys are still cranking:

6 Cents Per kWh: World's Largest Solar Project Unveiled

I checked a few months ago and Stirling is not (yet) public.  Is Nanosolar?  I too just visited their website but there's no indication there, which leads me to suspect that one can't buy shares...at least yet.
They both look to be privately held corps at this point.  I haven't seen any news of a public offering.
I was thinking the exact same thing for Nanosolar...

Don't know enought about Stirling engines to invest...

When I last checked with sterling you could invest in the company if you had a net worth of more than one million dollars and would invest at least one hundred thousand in the company.  The numbers are from memory so they may not be completely accurate.  I do not have a million dollars  so I had to pass.
You might be interested in this article, then:

Renewables, PART 4, BIG SOLAR:
Scarcity, Rising Commodity Prices and Reality
by Michael Kane

That's a good article, but sometimes it's good to put numbers in perspective.  They worry:

"It took between 4,920 and 6,000 lbs of aluminum to produce the six dishes currently operating at Sandia National Labs in addition to many other essential commodities. To install 20,000 dishes in the Mojave Desert by 2012, 8,500 to 10,000 tons of aluminum will be needed.8 Aluminum, along with many other commodities, has continued to rise in price despite a few short-term losses caused from big money moves by hedge funds.9"

but looking elsewhere:

"The quantity of aluminum wasted in America is staggering. In the year 2001, 760,000 tons of aluminum cans were wasted--165,000 tons more than were wasted in 1990. This was more aluminum metal than was used nationally for trucks, buses, bridges, and roadway applications combined. i Between 1990 and 2000, Americans wasted a total of 7.1 million tons of cans: enough to manufacture 316,000 Boeing 737 airplanes--or enough to reproduce the world's entire commercial airfleet 25 times.ii"


Waste is, unfortunately, waste. Someone will need to recover that waste in order for it to be viable. That takes time and costs money, neither of which are free or readily available.
My point is there is a reason that the cited wasted aluminum is wasted.  The price of aluminum reflects this fact.
I wasted water brushing my teeth this morning. It was not economical or even feasible for me to recover it. A loss.
There is a certain amount of metal waste at current prices, relative to the cost of new mining and production.  Your article IIRC talked about the costs of making new aluminium in a high-energy costs environment.  I wonder how the waste equation might change, simply with a price change?

Do you doubt for a second that if we were really scrambling for metals there would not be "metal drives" as in WWII?

We could already be seeing the leading edge of this, with people stealing copper wiring, and prices for cans and recycled steel way up.  
But by comparison, who saves aluminum cans anymore? That's so....1970's.
In most of the northeast, there's a deposit on aluminum cans.  Five to ten cents each.  So yeah, people save them.  
Out in California it's a sad thing, but typical for the working poor to ostentatiously throw away (5c deposit) cans and bottles, and for the genuinely poor or homeless to collect them as a subsistence income.

Bottles at the side of the road are a tragic safety net.

The homeless collect cans and bottles around here, but so do a lot of other people.  It's a common fund-raiser for the Boy Scouts.  They go door-to-door and ask for cans.  Many people who can't bring themselves to toss them but are too lazy to take them back to the store are happy to give them to a good cause.

I also see retirees going through the dumpsters at my apartment complex, looking for cans early in the morning.  They don't look poor; often, they are driving fairly nice cars or trucks.  I think for many of them, it's just something to do.

I don't remember if this one has been posted before, but it covers the Silicon Valley action on alternative energy, solar, and Vinod Khosla:
It's interesting that they consider coal-gasification to be a "green" technology.
green doesn't mean anything today.
it's the new corporate buz-word.
You're on a green trajectory!
I like green burritos.
Several comments all rolled into one.

Yesterday's DrumBeat had several articles that put me in mind that others out there know what is going on and have put their money where their mouth is, and are betting on oil shocks for the future.  

Tiny Houses for Americans might be another solution instead of the McMansions that seem to be popping up all over.  I have drawn up plans for several designs in the last 2 decades since I first became interested in them.  A single person can get by with under 200 sq ft.  A family of 4 with under 500 sq ft.  Smaller homes use lots less energy and can be better tied to the use of rainwater and wood stoves for water and heating use.  Getting a reverse in the building codes for planning housing devolopments where the maximum size is 1,000 sq ft of any building in the project.  

As my dad pointed out, here we have Iran and nukes,  Isreal and their enemies,  BP shutting down from 200,000 to 400,000 bpd in Alaska, and we are all waiting for the next shoe to drop.  The hurricanes have not even shown up yet!  Something is coming to a head pretty fast you better watch out.    My parents lived through the Great Depression they remember the lessions learned.  Even now they don't have to save and conserve and yet they do a lot of the time.  Just another thing a lot of us younger folks are going to have to learn on our own soon.  By younger I mean anyone younger that 76.

So what is the next crisis looming on the horizon?

Getting a reverse in the building codes for planning housing devolopments where the maximum size is 1,000 sq ft of any building in the project.  

I'm told the reason communities have minimum home sizes is to keep trailers out.  The minimum size usually rises with the size of standard trailers.  

A guy I know got around that by buying a lot, and putting up his garage first.  He then moved a trailer into it in the middle of the night.  For several years, he and his family lived in a trailer inside the garage, while he saved the money to build the rest of the house.

Just curious, but if a community doesn't want trailers then why not just define a trailer home as temporary and deem temporary structures to only be available in emergencies defined by the community (since I'm sure some enterprising soul will say HE is in an emergency to erect a trailer home).

Once a community has defined their problem in a box, removing it tends to follow through so long as the support was there to begin with.

I suspect it's just too difficult to legally define "temporary."  While a size limitation is straightforward.  
I bet the trailer thing is just an excuse. If that was it they would have banned them directly, not use some whacky roundabouts to do it.

The real reason is not to "spoil" "our" neighbourhood with small houses in the game of "who is above whom". This fashion on its turn is caused by the vested interests of construction, automobile, home supplying companies etc. for building huge houses. The bigger the house, the more money you have to put in it and the more profits for them.

Much zoning has as its goal KOPP (Keep Out Poor People).

To a large extent, the flight of the middle classes to the suburbs was a flight away from poverty, Blacks and crime, not to mention high taxes and rotten schools.

Those going to the distant suburbs and exurbs were neither stupid nor immoral.

I mean, who would want to live in a neighborhood that had a public library such as that described by Leanan? Ugh.

I participated in the "white flight" as it's known around my area in STL while I was in high school.  Basically you had blue collar Beoing workers fleeing the immediate vicinity of Boeing (its going down to say the least, Ford just shut down a couple miles down the same road).  

They took to the sprawling suburbs of another county all together.  This county has been called the racist county in all of MO.  At last check (2000) they are 95% white and I would bet money it's actually grown.  The best irony of all though happens in my old stomping grounds in O FALLON, MO (once the 2nd fastest growing city in the country back in the late 90's) in this county.  

In unincorporated ofallon there sits trailer homes.  They aren't nice and they aren't maintained and these trailer homes at in the dead center of the geographic city.  The city has tried to get rid of them, but they are unincorporated and don't really care.

I'm not there anymore, but my mom said a developer has slowly been buying up all the property and kicking people off of it.  They want to build ultra luxury homes and it would make sense sitting in the center of the then incorporated city. They like their little towns out there.

Other countries have decided that the better way to KOPP is to give them education and jobs instead of everbody hiding in gated communities. But this is a different discussion and a long one.

Of course your point is valid but things would have been otherwise and such stupid regulations would have been obsolate if we addressed the underlying problems, not the easy ones.

That's my point fix the egos too if we have too, but get the likes of the big houses out of the coding.  I guess the only way I would be able to get this going is to actually go in buy a bunch of land.  Offer to build from a set of plans houses that are under 1,000 square feet for people on 1 to 2 acre lots for growing and keeping things stable.  Basically build my own commune.

Maybe I just want to have my cake and eat it too.  People have always had a KOPP attitude it seems.  Around here it is grown to the KOPPAOPATP.. = Keep Out Poor People, and Other People (not our race) and Those People (any that do not fit into our way of thinking).  Lots of Hispanics have moved into the area and Lots of an undercurrent of haterd and dislike, Amoung Whites and Blacks.   Pretty soon the big housing developments are going to hit the wall and stop for a while as the money dries up.

=Gets his coins and spare bills to go land hunting= Don, Send me a list of all the females you know that might like to live in a commune,  I'll save a spot for you and yours.

Best source of desirable females is recently divorced trophy wives who are collecting $50,000 per month (and more) in child support. I already gave this idea to Matt Savinar, and if he has not acted to get into the divorce business for these very desirable women (good breeding stock, very healthy and attractive), I cannot imagine why.

Beautiful single (and soon-to-be-single-again) women hang out at particular places, and with particular guys, such as their country club tennis coaches.

Ah, the life of a tennis coach . . . nostalgia . . .  But I digress;-)

Dave Cohen made an interesting comment yesterday, broadly speaking about Peak Oil and its relation to apocalyptic movements.  I had a chuckle when as I made my response I found myself typing the words "brings new meaning to the unfortunate tech phrase 'eat your own dogfood!'"

There was of course a popular sub-thread yesterday about eating dog food in response to Peak Oil, and another on the unavailability of coffee and tea.  They might still be going.

I commented to both threads myself.  They seem fun in some sense.  While I can be pedantic about pessimistic scenarios at times (too pedantic, I recognize this), sometimes I can relax and play the post-carbon game.

The thing is, both threads illicited responses that said basically "are you guys for real?"  That might be something to think about, in terms of who we are at TOD, and why we might (or might not) be confused with apocalyptic movements.

I went surfing for the accepted depletion curves and found "Global Oil Depletion: Methodologies and Results - Roger W. Bentley" at the ASPO 2005 webpage:


In that there is this plot of everyone's predictions:

oil depletion

To my eye, the most pessimistic predictions there give us until 2025 to dip below 60 Mb/day.  Time to stock up on dog food?

Looking at that graph and just averaging everything (assuming that no one prediction has a lock on truth) .. I'd say we have as good a chance as being flat 20-30 years out as being strongly down.

Also note that the well-liked oil depletion poster shows a moderate down trend:


So what's the deal guys, who are we?

Even if there is a long production plateau-which I doubt-the growth in the absolute number of consumers as the Chinese and Indians acheive a modern world resource consumption argues for huge shortages for American consumers. Prices are going up, and will continue to rise. Its supply and demand.

I also don't think an average of the depletion projections will yeild a real model of the shape of the decline curve. Not all "experts" are equal in a land where global warming is considered debatable by Exxon paid experts and MSM newscasters pay more attentin to advertisers than to the truth. West Texas is probably right that the decline curve will more likely look like the decline of Texas production

I'm not an apocolyptic doom and gloomer, but I do think we are headed for painful years as the world adjusts.

So, the energy will become more expensive. And so what if I may ask? Given that uncle Sam has a well maintained dollar printing press in his backyard, he will be able to outbid countries like China and India for at least couple of decades to come. The average american will feel just a slight discomfort and may even start to (oh, no!) change. The real pain obviously will be concentrated in the third world. Of course they may try to do something about it but isn't this why we are paying so much for our military?
The paper coming off the USA printing press will continue to decline in value VS the paper coming off the Chinese printing press. Deep into post-peak, this trend will accelerate as China continues to diversify away from the US market (IMHO).  
Uncle Sam is devaluing the dollar but it is YOU who has to bid with it.
 We pay for the gas which comes from the oil company which has to use the devaluing dollars we pay for gas to bid for oil on the world markets.
It's not a question of whether, with suitable social solidarity and coordination and cooperation, we can somehow manage with X % less oil.  Of course we could, in theory.  But the question is, if and when peaking becomes obvious, how will the ponzi scheme of "capitalism" react.  If the psychology of those who have the money leasds to "financial markets" collapse, and many of us lose our jobs, then it's going to be the "greater depression" (if not WW3).  Those who think that because fuel only costs 5% (or so) of the American household income therefore if it doubles we'll still be OK, don't take into account that everything else will change at the same time.

That does not mean that we won't be able to buy some coffee.  But it does mean that our lifestyles will be drastically changed, towards less affluence.  In the "third world" now most people get coffee - but do not jet to vacations in far-away resorts.  They have electricity (at least occasionally) - but do not commute in private automobiles.  That's where the currently affluent countries are headed.

We can eat a lot more cheaply on vegetarian food. No need to eat dog food. If you believe food will become scarce and expensive, stock up on rice and beans, start a vegetable garden.
Hee, hee.  That's really funny.  I have serious doubts that the world is coming to an end, but we did just buy 25lb pound bags each of rice and beans, and our vegetable garden is doing great!  Come to think of it, I brought the bags of beans and rice home in my bike trailer, with our load of produce from our CSA share.  Maybe I'm more of a doomer than I think?
The world may not come to an end, but its likely that food will get more expensive as energy prices rise. It makes sense to look at options to cut down costs wherever possible. I still eat out once or twice a week (much less than I used to) but I cook a lot of my own food, mostly vegetarian. My food costs have gone down significantly over the past couple of years. This weekend, I cooked up a batch of dhal (curried lentils) and rice. I add a fresh vegetable each day and that's dinner for the next few days.
What if the choice came to buying a bag of beans or keeping your Internet connection?
Who are we?

In a rational world, a knowledge of depletion, (though unpleasant) would enable us to look at the alternatives such as alt. energy; conservation; localisation; birth control; rationing etc, (and formulate a rational response).

The problem as I see it is that when it becomes completely obvious that peak oil, water, food etc is here, then panic sets in. Oil futures ramp to impossible levels circa $180 +. Nothing moves. Nobody can get to work. Markets and people panic. You get hoarding, Gunfights at petrol stations, martial law, you name it.

However a main stream knowledge of PO is not an absolute requirment. Hitting a tanker in the Straights of Hormuz or major infrastructure in KSA etc is probably enough to screw up the way we live just for a few months and after a few months, where is the food?, where are the police? where is the army? We are all skating on thin ice.

It would be irrational not to contemplate the worst

Effectively, the monetary value of oil ceases to matter and the strategic value of oil takes over: With oil, a nation state may survive. Without oil a nation state goes under.

The great danger is that our current state of existance just flips from a thin veneer of a civilised state to barbarism.

Was it not AJP Taylor who said ''We are ever only four square meals away from barbarism'' ?

In 2000, picketing at fuel depots because of diesel prices nearly brought the UK to a complete standstill. Food was disappearing off shelves, Petrol suddenly looked like becoming available only to the apparatus of the state

It is almost impossible to look at PO without contemplating the absolute worst case scenarios. It does not mean that this site is for doom-mongers and therefore putting people off. All scenarios should be evaluated in full, and some times a little bit tongue-in-cheek.

TOD IS mainly contemplating an inexorable decline in energy and therefore standard of living as a likely scenario And how to manage or mitigate the decline in a civilised way. But the possibility of a flip from a civilised state to barbarism when conditions worsen is not zero.

It just gets a bit silly when we start comparing the pros and cons of off road bikes, assault rifles and recipes for long pig...

Personally I would prefer a managed powerdown, but the more I look at PO, the more I think it is likely that it will all get  just a little bit Hobbesian.

If you have not previously,  Try reading this one from Chip Haynes(the guy who wrote "Ghawar is Dying").

It is very funny in a PO sort of way.

Sixty Days, Next Year

Shows how things can progress rather quickly and our way of life IS a very thin veneer.

Thanks for the link.  Interesting stuff.  
thanks for that.

Grim but witty.

Always been a great fan of gallows humour

But then of course, perhaps if we are lucky, life will be like this:



Sorry , I just cannot stop myself.

This one is even better.

Middle East Crisis brought to a halt by the price of rocket fuel:


"Sixty Days, Next Year"

That's not a pure peak oil story.  It is one of the "peak oil plus" scenarios.  In this case it is "peak oil plus Saudi Arabia in flames."

That's fine, and on one level it shows how things might combine badly.  On the other though it reminds us that pure peak oil scenarios are less often used to generate this level of catastrophe.

Other people suggest "peak oil plus ponzi capitalism", others like "peak oil plus a population bomb", still others "peak oil plus complexity", "or peak oil plus the basic instability of human civilization" ... some like 'em all.

I'm being put off by all that.  It makes peak oil seem less a movement in its own right, and more a plank in everybody's platform.

Maybe this is all because we humans are bad at dealing with big but far-off problems, and so we try to work out how they could hit us sooner.  What if we really had 20 or 30 years to work this out?  Would that make the problem, in a sense, harder to deal with?

first off we live in a complicated and complex universe, everything is connected. this is the same with peak oil.
for example population factors into peak oil, the more people the faster it happens and the higher the peak will be. food supply factors into both peak oil and population because the food supply is dependent on fossil fuels and the population needs food. you need to realize this before you can grasp the size of the problem we and our short term thinking have put us in.
and yes humans in general have poor to very poor long term planning unless the environment forces one to be a long term planner. there are also some that are seem to be un able to plan at all past a few days. my brother is one, every time he gets a paycheck he spends it all in the same day.
We have lots of problems on this planet, ranging from ocean depletion to oil depletion.  Population, poverty, starvation, are all problems.  But having problems does not mean that any one narrative is correct.

Dave have us a heads-up on a magazine article called "Imagine There's No Oil: Scenes from a liberal apocalypse."

The author sees people fitting PO into a narrative of apocalypse, and I think he's describing a real phenomenon.  

FWIW, I'd rather we worked on the problems, and left the narrative to Hollywood.  I enjoy a good disaster movie as much as anyone.

A little over the top, but great! Anyways, oil production will go over the top! (and start the maddening decline!)

For those buying a bike, you'll want to live within 10 miles from work unless you're already a Lance Armstrong. In that push come to shove, I could from the next apartment take the bus half way then use the bike in a 2-stage commute. Then, I'll get into enough shape when the buses conk out. Now, about those rolling blackouts and the UPS and batteries...

You don't want to be more than 25 minutes from your job, grocery store or your particular civilization...by bike, car or by foot.  Roman cities were designed that way and if you switch to a bike from a car your sense of what is practical will change also.
Romans had bikes and cars?
I guess Romans had feet...
25 mn at slow pace (3 Km/h) = 1.25 Km = .775 Miles
When hurrying (not running) about double, 2.5 Km, 1.55 Miles.

I am 2 miles from my office.  Walking distance.  

However, I have a feeling that will be the least of my worries when TSHTF.

Book recomendation:

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

The problem as I see it is that when it becomes completely obvious that peak oil, water, food etc is here, then panic sets in. Oil futures ramp to impossible levels circa $180 +. Nothing moves. Nobody can get to work. Markets and people panic. You get hoarding, Gunfights at petrol stations, martial law, you name it.

If USA goes haywire and stops on peak oil news and a doubling or tripling of the oil price it might lead to quick and sharp recession with a potential for falling inflation adjusted commodities prices.

That would hurt a lot of Swedish export businesses that trade their goods in dollars but deals can allways be renegotiated in Euro or SEK if too much changes. But it would surely give a chance to stock up on commodities needed to accelerate the building of post peak oil infrastructure such as rebar, copper, cement, electrical equipment and so on.

If we get such an recession I hope our politicians have the cool to skip the savings targets and pounce on the opportunity. It should be possible to accelerate the building with somethinbg like 25% by shaving years of the long term plans in the pipeline and more if we can get foreign workers to move over here. It would be even better if the planning process were quicker and easier, we get at least 80% of the benefit out of at most 20% of the time and the rest is a waste of manhours, calendar days and courts.

If the oil price double could you be nice to us over here and run around in circels while screaming that the world ends to induce a proper panic and tear down your ability to bid? :-)

But the best would of course be if you started to save on resource use and made good long term investments. Functioning countries and regions are good for everybody, suicidal neighbours dont compete well but neither are they usefull and they might do realy stupid things and set the neighbourhood of fire.

This will only happen if everyone suddenly comes to realize the nature of the problem all at the same time.  The nature of humans is to first approach something like this in a form of denial.  They might look to someone like Yergin or Palast for comfort.  They might blame OPEC or oil companies for price gouging.

Next they will try and take comfort in things like ethanol or hydrogen or some new fad of the day.  It will take a little while longer before all of these are seen to be insufficient.

I believe that we have already started this transition, but we are not very far along yet.  There are a lot of people out there talking about peak oil in the general populace.  Lots of average people already have to confront the idea in one way or another - they just won't accept it.  Not quite yet.

"just averaging everything" - taking an average of 1 sensible analysis and 9 stupid ones does not give you a correct answer.
Don't read too much into that guys.  It was just my attempt to be humble and neutral, to say that I don't know and don't know how to pick which one to believe.

Also, it's a way to avoid choosing the one that confirms my previous beliefs.  It's a way to keep myself from throwing out answers that make me uncomfortable.

How do you choose?  How many people just say "oh no, look at that cluster at the bottom?"

Taking a curve that appeals to you is no more sensible.

Are they actually learning things in high school these days?

Local guest editorial piece in the Op/Ed section of the paper...he's suprisingly insightful (except for the little bit about ethanol)...it's worth a read.

[emphasis added is mine]
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

"...While this jump in fuel costs is due to a temporary problem, we know better than to expect the high gas prices to be a temporary burden. The cost of oil is constantly rising and we are at its mercy. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that oil is only going to get more expensive, and we are not prepared to pay the costs of what will happen when there is not enough oil to go around.

We've heard it explained a thousand times, the simple relationship of supply and demand. As we use up the earth's supply of oil, what's left becomes more valuable and people are willing to pay more for it. Petroleum geologists predict that 95 percent of the world's oil supply has already been discovered. This leaves little room for any increase of supply. What's left of the earth's oil will go to the highest bidder, and with big new bidders like India and China, the only people who will be able to afford it will be the oil executives who made record profits by exploiting a nation of people who had no choice but to buy expensive gas.

The bad news doesn't stop there. In the long term, we know we'll run out of oil eventually, but thinking in the more immediate future doesn't yield any comfort either. The Middle East holds 60 percent of the world's oil reserves, and conflict in that region will continue to make accessing that petroleum difficult. Iran is the world's fifth-largest oil producer, and should hostile conditions with Iran stop its oil exportation, prices in the U.S. could see a dramatic jump.


This country is entirely dependent on oil, and it's obvious why.

All fossil fuels and primarily oil have been our most efficient and cheapest source of energy for the past 150 years. We use oil for automobiles, electricity, manufacturing and even agriculture requires a significant amount of gasoline. Without oil, our economy and our society couldn't possibly function as it does today.

It is crucially important that we transition from oil and other fossil fuels to renewable energy sources that will not dwindle and run out in the near future. Initially it will seem like a financial sacrifice to invest in more expensive sources of energy, like ethanol, solar, wind and tidal. But as the planet's oil reserves run lower and lower and global population and energy needs continue to skyrocket, the oil industry is doomed to a slow collapse. Are we going to let our way of life go down with it?

As gas continues to get more expensive and spending larger amounts of money to run our cars becomes less practical, fuels like ethanol will become more practical and more desirable.

The sooner we can develop these types of fuels the sooner we will be able to relieve ourselves of what will be exorbitant fuel prices.

Decreasing our oil consumption can help to slow the process, but at some point there will not be enough oil to meet our needs. If we do not prepare for a transition of energy sources to gradually replace oil, we will lose many of the things we take for granted. "

American among 4 oil workers seized

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria -- Armed men seized four foreign oil workers - two Britons, an American and a German - from a nightclub, the latest in a spate of abductions targeting the petroleum industry in Africa's largest crude-producing country.
A nightclub!

In Port Harcourt?

What were they thinking?

Byron King has an opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Peak Oil - get used to it

When the shutdown in Alaska rattled markets around the world, it showed just how fragile the oil supply really is
This was also published in the Kuwait Times.   Interesting. . .


Looks like it originally came from the Pittsburgh newspaper. Pretty good overview of peak oil.

What's the word on Kuwait? Are they going to start restricting their exports?

The September issue of Scientific American has much to recommend it and statements people will take exception to. For example in the Climate Repair Manual they state "Climate change compels a massive restructuring of the worlds energy economy" but also states "Even if oil production peaks soon - a debatable contention given Canada's oil sands, Venezeula's heavy oil and other reserves- coal and its derivatives could tide the earth over for more than a century"

Their article 'An Efficient Solution' states "Wasting less energy is the quickest, least expensive way to stem carbon emissions and discusses "the huge potential of energy efficiency measures..."

Without getting into the EROEI debate they state "the fertilizer, water, natural gas and electricity currently expended in ethanol production from corn need to be substantially decreased" Cellulosic ethanol "is not yet a commericially viable process. They list the negative externalities of biomass to fuel and conclude "it is unlikely to dominate the future energy supply anytime soon.

In The Rise of Renewable Energy they state "No plan to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions can succeed through increases in energy efficiency alone"

The articles contain lots of charts, graphs, data, hurdles, policy options far out solutions and even sci-fi solutions

Don't expect the in depth level of analysis presented on TOD
but they do present a nice collection of ideas

Correction- there is a discussion of biofuel subsidies and energy return in a separate article. RR may want to take a look at this to convert into EROEI - they talk about a positive net energy of "almost 5 megajoules per liter" from corn to ethanol.
That's a gain of less than 18,000 BTUs per gallon of ethanol produced, and is in line with the USDA estimates. I haven't seen the article, but I bet they reference the USDA.

Two things. First, a gain of 18,000 BTUs on a gallon of ethanol means that the efficiency of producing ethanol is 18,000/76,000, or 24% (versus 80% for gasoline). Again, this is in line with other estimates. However, the reason that the net is positive is because the animal feed by-products are valued as BTUs. With respect to fossil fuels in and ethanol out, the net is right around zero, even before taking into account soil erosion, etc.

Thanks RR, Yes they do state they "are accounting for energy byproducts" The article is written by Daniel Kammen of U Cal Berkeley. He references his own and colleagues work
The author sounds familiar. I read an article recently which compared the energy ratios from various papers. The author were pretty rough on Pimentel for various reasons, alleged double counting, inconsitent system boundaries among others. Does this sound like the article in Scientific American?
I will look up your other work to see if you have commented on this, but it seems to me they are fudging here. The quality of energy in byproducts does not match up to the quality of energy in ethanol. All btu's aren't equal.
Hello TODers,

More on my ideas to mitigate postPeak violence:

Like the Kevin Costner movie, "Field of Dreams", if we build it, they will come.  Can kids be inspired to rip out a baseball diamond and plant corn instead?

I believe our youngsters, once Peakoil is explained to them, will readily abandon shopping and hanging at the mall, playing videogames, watching TV and DVDs, attending concerts, expecting Disneyland vacations, cellphone yapping, car-cruising, and wasting time at pointless websites, etc, etc.  I think they will actually enjoy being outside, working as a team to improve their environment, and getting lots of exercise.

Our children are more more amenable to accepting radical change than adults.  My long ago email to the National PTA begging for curriculum change and abandonment of school busing was ignored, but events will eventually force recognition of this issue.  Kids will be much more willing to walk or bicycle to school than adults doing the same to get back and forth to work.

Once crunchtime hits, I expect the schools to put their students to work tearing up all the baseball diamonds, football fields, tennis courts, etc so they have space to practice the new curriculum of permaculture and animal husbandry.  The youths, naturally being quite energetic, will accomplish this in record time.  Once the ground is prepared and the seeds planted, it will require much less work intensity until harvest time.  During this period, the students will team up and walk around the school neighborhood to convert the elderlys' yards into more gardens.  The elderly will have the land, but will not have the energy to dig up the lawn and decorative non-edible plants, fill-in the pool and remove the concrete, tear out the decorative wood decking, then saw it into fireplace sized pieces, and so on.  Other kids will be practicing forestry by tree-planting, gaining axemanship proficiency, and learning animal trapping techniques.

The kids will take great delight in slopping the hogs, feeding the chickens, picking tomatoes and carrots, and the older students can be learning food preservation skills, slaughter and butchering techniques, leather-tanning skills, and so forth, so that eventually the school lunches will be generated by their own efforts.

My hope is that the present college students, who are studying to become future teachers, are mentally preparing themselves to teach the basics to our children.  Kunstler has his biggest crowds at college campuses, so I am assuming that Peakoil Outreach is having its greatest effect among the young.  Does anybody have some statistics on this?  Simple economics predicts that many college students already are financially limited to mass-transit or bicycles if they understand that going into debt from college loans will severely hamstring their financial futures.

Is this assessment too optimistic on my part?  Will we see a peaceful, cooperative shift to Powerdown, or is widespread violence and anarchy the more likely result?  Won't most adults naturally realize we have to behave appropriately postPeak to maximize our children's future chances?

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

Oops, forgot to include the link where Kevin Costner returns to the cornfield.

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

Acutally, Bob, the smart parents will have already set up for home schooling (and if they are really smart, doing it already).  
I have 6 and 8 year old relatives. They are already brainwashed into a hyperconsumption. They are thrilled over every plastic toy coming their way and glued to their gameboys every chance they get.You should see the toys piled up in their bedrooms. Have tried to get them to help me weed the garden. That experience wore off very fast for them. They do like to hike though. Still think the situation is beyond reasoning with people young or old until necessity changes things.
Hello Khaos3,

Thxs for responding.  I am 51, biologically childless, but my stepson is a long grown adult, so I have very limited experience with present day youngsters.  My guess is these children's parents are still in denial of Peakoil, otherwise they would not let them become hyperconsumptively acculturated by having plastic gewgaws and Gameboys-- should be more like given the opportunity to earn money to buy bicycles, fishing poles, books-- like what I did when I was a kid along time ago.  Glad to see them hiking, that is a good start.  Are these children willingly helping weed their parent's own garden and/or learning to grow tomatoes at a minimum?

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

I hope to God that it works out your way.
One boy has incredible scientific curiosity. He had us read to him a fairly advanced book on the structure, function and disorder of the human body since he was 3 years old (lots of pictures. His capacity for smart questions I have never see before. His knowledge of the human body at 8 would astound you. But I can't get him to do physical work and all the parents do not even give their kids chores. My mate is a tyrant (in a good way). She does order the kids to work when thay are here and they better listen to her. She can get 3/4  of them to help. The girl told me yesterday she doesn't like the outdoors only the indoors. All the parents work. Can't afford not to. The kids go to daycare, school or sometimes here or with their grandmother who lives next door. Their parents buy them an incredible amount of toys. Their grandmother adds to the larder.  I can't explain why they do this but I see this as fairly typical with other parents. Maybe it is some sort of substitute for giving them time. It seems each generation is trained to consume more. We have been very upset lately because the parents are now buying them small atv's and dirt bikes. It is particularly  frustrating because atv's are tearing up woods roads I like to walk on.  I have gotten through about peak oil to two parents who live a little further away. They have a 3 year old and a one year old. They bought a Prius and told the other relatives they don't want anything more from Disney. But it is like holding back the flood for them. The plastic stuff comes pouring in at Christmas and birthdays and they don't know how to prie it away from their kids.
I thought when I moved up here from Manhattan I would be in the land of frugal Yankees but it seems to be the same all over.
I'm afraid I have to agree with khaos3 - I think that while a minority of peaple will embrace sustainability, the majority will cling to the status quo of suburbia, commuting, cars, convenience food, credit cards, etc., etc., until it disintegrates.
The old Yankee farmers are probably better students here in rural Maine. They see the waste around them clearly.
Our younger boy (9) is in Cub Scouts.  We fecently returned from camp this summer and again I'm amazed at the range of practical skills that are carried along and imparted by this organization.  And by skills I mean more than just how-to knowledge, rather a, well, "be prepared", "git-er-done" mentality and set of values which emphasize cooperation, trustworthiness, etc. - all values which, despite Scouting's detractors, will serve these young men well in times ahead.  
Eagle scout right here baby!  I live by the motto be prepared!  It's not the best though since I tend to hang on to a lot of stuff "in case."

But to say that you learn practical applications is an understatement.  I was inducted into the Order of the Arrow which is suppose to be the organization that the best scouts get into.  We learned survival training like building temporary shelter etc.  I loved it so much.  I'll go back and teach some time.

Im a Senior in my last year at college and debt is a fact of life to pay for college.  There is NO way around it.  My parents make too much per the gov't, but they didn't plan for my college.  I have yet to meet a single student who tells me there parents planned for them to go to college and they paid, but then again I'm at a lowly state school.  I have to take on debt, but the gov't only allows me a certain amount, the rest my parents are shouldering and are paying for me.  I'll still leave college with 1/5th what everyone else has at a mere $12K and I'm pretty happy since my mom picked up the other half.

College is the only debt that might actually BE an investment.  Oh and financially limited?  Please, most students have racked up credit card through the nose.  I know several who are maxed out and service their exisiting debt with problems.  They haven't even started to pay their college loans.

My how times have changed.

I attended U of Toledo from 1978-1984, lived at my parents' house, worked nights at McDonald's and summers at a park, and managed to get my degree while incurring a debt of only $600.00--which is fortunate as my degree was in English (i.e. not the most lucrative).

One of my friends graduated from Indiana with an English degree.  He's a call center rep for amex now making decent coin on sales.  I've made it clear to him how this can't continue and he knows it.  He's trying to look around him and get a mentor to help him get into the management side.  Ask him why English and he'll say it was the easiest degree to get when he started his 5th year.  He's paying for it now.
I actually break even almost considering I don't live with my parents.  I go to night school since I work all day.  I've got a cush job with an OK salary and I'm not even done with my degree.  My parents are firmly in the burbs, so my commute would kill me, not to mention my fiance whom I live with.
Just a comment on the big picture. I have been reading Beyond Oil, by Kenneth Daffeyes. In it he claims that, based on Hubberts curve, the oil supply will drop by 10% by 2019. Then, I read this quote in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

"Following sharp price rises for oil in the 1970s, world oil consumption reversed itself. In the book Winning the Oil Endgame, the authors describe how oil consumption in the US fell 17 per cent from 1977 to 1985, while GDP grew 27 per cent. That reduction was primarily driven by the improved efficiency of motor vehicles in response to high prices."

The entire article can be found here:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/oil-price-spike-to-end-you-can-bet-on-it/2006/08/14/115540774 2140.html

Put the two comments together and you get the sense that it may all turn out a lot better than you might have thought. We actually can adapt, we have done it before. I don't see why we can't do it again. 10% by 2019 will bw very doable.

People keep saying that the greatest untapped energy source, especially in the US, is conservation.  I couldn't agree more.  While I think it's true that it will be harder to save 10% now that it was in the late 70's/early 80's, simply because we use oil more efficiently now, I also think we can rely on more sophisiticated ways of conserving: Using the Internet to avoid some business travel, the rise of cellulosic ethanol, thin-film solar, and lithium-ion batteries (for plug-in hybrids), etc.  

Of course, the "we're all going to die shivering in a dark cave" crowd doesn't want to admit that we can and will mount an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge.  They think it makes a less compelling story, I guess.  I prefer to be optimistic while I'm working as hard as I can to help educate people about our looming energy issues.  That makes it much easier to get up in the morning and look at myself in the bathroom mirror.

What will be the key to igniting the extraordinay response, Lou?
IMO, year over year decline in global production.
and the oil price... just like it did in the lates 70's.
Menzie Chinn's new post at Econbrowser:

Billions for production, not a cent for conservation...

I think that's hyperbole but I haven't dived into it.

But in the 1970's there was much more "slack" in that stationary electricity production and industrial and some home heating could be quickly converted away from petroleum.

It wasn't just cars.   But cars were just so inefficient that a bit of technology could help.   Today, cars are far more efficient, in the sense that now with computer fuel injection, 99%+ of fuel is properly combusted in an engine which is reasonably close to theoretical efficiency limits of Otto cycle.  The extra benefit has gone to actually useful things like significant safety and strength improvements as well as greater speed & comfort.  We may be able to give up some of the latter, but don't think that the gains of the 70's were erased---they are still present in the cars.

Today, there is virtually no use of oil for electricity because the price is too high.

And what happens when we have the same fuel efficiency as Japan, with 600cc cars (zero point six liters) prevalent---and yet the oil just keeps on depleting and depleting and depleting????

Massive coal to liquids is climate rape.


People bitch about all the SUV's, Hummers, McMansions, etc...  But then they say there's no way we could curtail consumption like we did in the 70's.  That doesn't make sense.  If there's waste - then there's oppurtunity to increase conservation.

I try and live pretty simply, but even I could cut my energy use drastically.  I boought a 1000 sq ft house built in 1895 last year.  I have a 20 year old gas fired forced hot air furnace that I'll probably replace in the next couple of years to soemthing that's much more efficient.  My hot water tank is over 40 years old.  (Solid Copper tank - what's that worth?)  When that finally gives out I'm going to upgrade to an instant hot water heater.  I've got about R9 insulation in my attic currently - going to upgrade that to R38 before the winter.  The basement ceiling has no insualtion.  I hope to get that insulated soon as well.  Eventually I could replace the windows...

I'm fortunate in that I walk to the commuter rail to get to work.  The grocery store is 1 mile away, as is the beach.   Even still I'm averaging 7000 miles per year...  I've got a Ford Ranger so there's room for improvement in my mpg...

Also, I'm not very good about recycling - though my girlfriend and I have been discussing changing our attitudes and fixing that.

All told there a million ways we can increase conservation.  I think you're already starting to see it a little bit - and oil is still cheap in inflation adjusted terms!  


Hello TODers,

Mexico's Smoking Volcano

From this link:
The Mexican government keeps assuring everyone that "all is well" -- even when it can't afford to buy steel pipe!

Mexican riot police busted heads and used tear gas on Mexico City protestors today.

Even more disturbing, both candidates are claiming victory in the vote recount so far.  You would think at least one would be back-tracking by now-- it is a very confusing situation to me.  Worst of all, the Arizona media hasn't mentioned the problems down South at all, they are still focusing their cameras on local car wrecks.  Even the national US MSM are ignoring the opportunity to cover this event.  This link appears to give fairly good information, but I cannot vouch for its accuracy.

Regardless, I hope Mexico can resolve this volatile issue peacefully.  Other links showing how polarized Mex society is:


http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/a-democratic-mexico-easier-said-than-done/2006/08/13/1155407655839. html


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

Hello TODers,

Here is some interesting stuff on Mexican FF production prospects.



and an interesting article that suggests that if SUPERNAFTA goes forward, then EXXON takes over PEMEX with Calderon help:


I have no idea what is the truth in Mexico, but millions are upset with what is going on.

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

Oops, the last link should be this one about SuperNAFTA:


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

The current Republican energy-driven foreign policy can be summed up as "Energy exporting countries must accept US investment so they can pump more oil," and the specifics -- prop up the Saudi royal family, replace Saddam, etc -- follow from that. I feel reasonably sure that somewhere behind the scenes the Administration has told the top Mexican politicians that either (a) they find a way to accept such investment in order to increase their production in the short term or (b) the US will start deporting a few hundred thousand illegal laborers back to Mexico each year. The civil unrest in Mexico that would follow such a move would likely be severe, so it's a meaningful threat IMO.
Hello mcain6925,

Excellent analysis! I would generally agree that does appear to be the strategy for Mexico because the US govt could have posted the National Guard along the border years ago to prevent illegals from entering.  Instead, the govt. ignored the flood so businessman could exploit them, and politicians would not have to worry about them voting, either here or in Mexico.

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

Electric cars and solar arrays:


Shameless plug, I know.

> "Flour costs push up price of loaf"
(from the article: "Experts said this would mean price hikes of around 15% to 20% for major flour users.")

This is nothing.
A couple years ago Brad DeLong put modern flour prices in context:

"[five-pound bag of flour] contains 7500 calories...That's four days' worth of food... To one of our ancestors alive in 1500, the bag of flour...is the same fraction of their economic resources--material welfare--as $300 would be to an American today."

( from page cached at tinyURL http://tinyurl.com/q3pcy )

Exactly.  And it's fossil fuels that have made food so cheap for us.  
Here is some nice advice on how to save some money

-- Consider the gas guzzler. This is controversial advice, but if you're car shopping don't rule something out simply because it's not gas efficient. Some big cars are deeply discounted now, while you'll pay top dollar for the hybrid or tiny gas-miser. The difference in price could keep you in gas for a couple of years.
Hello TODers,

Is Russia's GAZPROM forming a NatGas Cartel?

and of course, this Russian link accuses the EU of a Consumer Cartel trying to disrupt GAZPROM

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