DrumBeat: August 21, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/21/06 at 9:18 AM EDT]

Decaying pipelines threaten to add 20% to energy prices in next decade

BP Plc's shutdown of the largest U.S. oil field may be the first of many, as decaying pipelines threaten to add 20 percent to energy prices in the next decade.

"We'll look back on this event as the Pearl Harbor Day in energy," said Matthew Simmons, chairman of energy investment bank Simmons & Co. International in Houston. The chance that the leaks and corrosion found at Prudhoe Bay by BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, are an isolated occurrence is "zero," said Simmons, who's writing a book on aging oil infrastructure.

The September Scientific American (special energy issue) is now online. You can see the table of contents here. Most of the articles are behind a paywall, but one, A Climate Repair Manual, is free.

How global demand adjusted to oil prices: Growth in demand for oil has been contained in those non-OECD countries which have raised administered prices of petroleum products.

Sinopec's Iran oil block fails to yield enough reserves

A new argument on oil drilling in Alaska

Precious resources should be hoarded for generations, not incinerated in less time than it takes to wear out the warranty on a minivan. If a family had one cord of firewood left for the winter, would it make sense to burn it as rapidly as possible? If a student were down to the last $200 in the checking account, would it make sense to race to the next ATM? Racing to use the last of a depleting resource is foolish.

Airlines tremble at the prospect of $100-a-barrel oil

The new age of sail

Chris Skrebowski: Oil prices on rise till 2010

U.K.: Ambassador warned of Azerbaijan oil pipeline risk

Japan and China Race for African Oil

Oil price rise fuels leap in US arms sales

THE WAR on Terror and windfalls from rising oil prices have helped to push American military sales to foreign governments to their highest level since the first Gulf War.

Scientists Disagree On Link Between Storms, Warming

Kunstler's weekly rant has, buried in the now usual Lebanon screed, a sentence on the export oil problem--guess he's been reading Westexas' arguments.
Seadragon -

Well, I guess Kunstler has to include at least one sentence in there related to oil, so he can pretend his columns since the start of this Israeli/Hezbollah 'unpleasantness' are more than just pro-Israeli editorials.  

I do wish he'd zip it and get back to what he's really good at.  If I want to read pro-Israeli editorials, I don't have to read Kunstler's column: I can just open the editorial page of any major American newspaper any day of the week.

I concur with you.

It was James Kunstler who inspired me and led me to the subject of peak oil via his home page.  His book, "The Geography of Nowhere" is, in my opinion, among the finest works of our time and literally changed my life.  I often refer to it when promoting the concept of New Urbanism.  He is an immensely talented writer whose polemics on our energy conundrum and the failures of suburbia provide a necessary voice on these paramount issues.  His writings are something I always look forward to.

Having said this, I do wish he would step back from his diatribes on Middle East issues and stick to what he is best known for.

Re: joule and Erwin on Kunstler.  I would challenge you to look deeper at what Kunstler has been writing of late.  IMO, it is as coherent and on target as his writings on suburbia and peak oil.  I read widely from Left, Right, and more radical news sources.  Backing up and trying to come at this with a Zen beginner's mind, I believe he is accurately putting Israel's battles with Jihadi's in the right context of PO and radical Islam insanity. To regurgitate current politically correct Left position that anything construed as pro-Israel is part of the Bush-Cheney agenda is to blind yourself to how deep the Middle East peak oil rabbit-hole really is.  A lot of the backlash against Kunstler's writings of late seems to say more about a subset of Left group-think than about the content of what he is writing.
"A lot of the backlash against Kunstler's writings of late seems to say more about a subset of Left group-think than about the content of what he is writing."

I think that the Left's (justified, in my opinion) hatred of Bush has literally driven a lot of them crazy.

I don't even think the situation fits into the right-left political spectrum.

I see it simply as Olmert didn't acheive his military objective (secure a strip of land into Lebanese terrority to prevent their missles from striking Israel) and Hezbollah did (prevent Israel from occupying their land).

Also, there are people on both the left and the right who object to America sticking their nose into other country's business, giving free money and military equipment to other countries, intervention on the internal affairs of far away nations, etc.

Agreed.  This is not a left-right issue.  Many conservatives (Pat Buchanan, for example) also think the U.S. should distance itself from Israel.  Because they believe we no longer have interests in common, basically.
Double agree. This is an example where there is no representation in the media or congress of a substantial grassroots isolationist yearning.  If you don't like Israeli policy you are a left wing nut or right wing nut.  Israel is the only nation one is not allowed to criticize in public.

Another example would be the sly bipartisan support for decades of illegal immigration, an elite backed policy that is not even supported by legal immigrants, much less native born US people.

Allah Akbar.

Every nation is entitled to self determination and the repulsion of invaders.

Long live Hezballah.

That's funny, Hezbollah just embarked on an adventure to draw invaders into their country, without the country's permission. But if you want to say "long live" about a group whose television network produced a month long miniseries devoted to  telling the world that Jews use children's blood for passover bread, and whose hero (who they went to war to try to liberate) is a man whose claim to fame is that he crushed a 4 year old girl's skull with the butt of his rifle, well, Indymedia is thataway.
Sallam alaychem brother.

Death to all infidel "occupiers" of this Planet.

Long live Ebollah.
Long live the reign of our dark master.

You're killing me. All I can think of now is Sean Connery in 'Zardoz.' Ever seen that?
Zardoz? Actually yes. But with PO & GW decending upon us, I doubt that "living forever" is going to be one of our futuristic problems. What does Zardoz have to do with Hell's Ebollah plague?
I thought the super-bad special effects were similar. But I'm glad you are here. Can you remind us who is responsible for Hell's Ebola Plague? Some say the Saudis - some say Matt Savinar. Obviously you are setting me up. Few have seen the movie to start with.

It has everything to do with it.

The horses on the beach. I forget the terms. But basically, Connery was part of the fascist, Nazi SS, futuristic IslamoFascistJihadiDeathCult-types ...until he was set free by smokin-hot early 70's chickie-bunnies. And the flying head.

'Omega Man' is the next film you need to review. Heston in the Matheson Zombie classic.

Hell's Ebola Plague. C'mon, my man, we have screenplays to write.

The Zardoz community was largely about technology as you recall. They got past physical stuff and were into the whole mind thing. Oil would mean nothing if we could just get it out of our heads. No?

I have seen Zardoz but can hardly find anything related to Israeli/Lenabon or Peak Oil in it.
Closer to the Singularity, however.
I guess you have to be quite a bit loaded with your "good stuff" to see the analogies you are reporting.

However, in "Omega Man," that part where Brother Mathius wants everyone to either convert into being an Islamo-zombie or to die, well that could have a connection. Charlton Heston does the arms-outstretched sacrifice into the bloody pool at the end. Does his self-sacrifice for humanity ring a bell? Hmmm.
"I think that the Left's hatred of Bush has literally driven a lot of them crazy"

Doesn't Kunstler say that Tex?  LMAO and agree.

People here seem extremely naive to me.  And maybe a little too smug and superior acting.

It sounds like most people here grossly underestimate radical islam in so many ways it's sad and not laughable at all.  It's as if everyone here thinks the world consists of one homogenous culture and the idea of Religious LUNATICS is limited to Jerry Falwell et. al.

And of course I doubt very, very much anyone HERE has Yet had to face being blown up by a pretty, young women suicide bomber, or random missile, etc, etc so it is easy to sit and pretend to be Morally Superior and Judge From Afar.

Iran and Radical Islam are very serious when they preach and teach their ignorant and mostly poor and desperate Masses to Hate the Great Satan... but they truly mean The West in general.  After that they kill eachother off to see who Allah liked the Bestest Afterall.  Sorta like a Jerry Falwell on Steroids and Adrenaline running the USA (and no, Bush is a christian loony but not psychotic like the mullahz).

I agree with Adysseuse - I think Kunstler sees the real threat and it is most certainly a Symptom of the energy crisis.  Israel is the only thing close to a real democracy in the Middle East and the most stable country there by far, so it makes sense that we do not abandon them.  Would you rather count on the current batch of Arab governments as allies in such an Oil-Rich region?  With the growing poliTICal power of Iran and Radical Islam?  

I think Kunstler is looking at this from a very practical standpoint and the sad but true FACT is that Iran (nuclear or not) and Radical Islam is a Clear and Present Danger to most of humanity.  With Peak Oil they know TimezUp - their own oil reserves are declining and they literally cannot afford to wait forever for their little Armegeddon.

Nice condensation of every point that seventeen different people have each already made 16 times in the last month into a few cute sentences. Talent...Oily. You have a future here. I think there is an Alpha Male looking for a Biatch. Not sure how well he pays. But who cares. You obviously like to serve.

The "z" thing doesn't really work. Nor the CAPS. Shakespeare already tried it. He said,"scratch that." But go ahead. Try it one more friggin' time. Maybe you know better.

Well Oily, you turned off the CNN long enough to respond - good for you!  

But of course, your response doesn't address a single point in my post or the thread.  Nope, you just post an angry critique while Posing as a wanna-be editor for "Entertainment Tonight"... (hmmm, now why doens't that surprise me).      

Wait, I was supposed to address points you made? Sorry. I thought we didn't do that anymore here. I'll have to get back to you.
I'll have to get back to you.

Need a "reload"?
Nevertheless quite good stuff you have, been running for more than 8h30mn since this morning CET.
But it is dangerous for your health.

I think a lot of Americans exhibit a manichean mindset WRT the middle east, which is profoundly unhelpful, to put it mildly.

This little Lebanon war boiled up because

  1. an adventurist US administration, which has already done major damage to the region through its comic-book geopolitical analysis and systematically wrong-headed interventions, wanted to use Israel as a proxy to provoke Syria and Iran; and
  2. a new, inexperienced Israeli leadership (which, a rare occurrence, included no experienced military men), feeling validated by US backing, pursued its own (legitimate defensive) goals through an immoral and ill-advised adventure.

It just so happens that these foolhardy actors played into the hands of the Hezbollah, and that the Lebanese nation (which has few opportunities to exist, and has no vocation to hate Israel as such) united behind its "defensors", the Hezb, who are in reality its worst enemy.

So, in this precise instance, wailing about how all the Arabs hate Israel / hate the US / hate "our values" is wildly inappropriate. Lebanon is a place where fashionably-dressed young women can drink alcohol in public during Ramadan, where you can see the Vagina Monologues performed in Arabic, Beirut is the cultural and intellectual centre of the Arab world in the way Baghdad used to be decades ago. Lebanon, of all places, is not your monolithic bloc of seething hatred.

Or it wasn't. The Hezbollah, darlings of the Muslim world after their "heroic" resistance against the IDF, would like it to be. And they have received a powerful boost from their objective allies, Bush and Olmert.

Don't you think you're kind of playing it both ways here? I mean, I hear you, but I really can't respond.Unless I want to destroy you. Which I don't. But I think you may be dodging several questions. You already lost the casualty thing. Israel vs Lebanon was like 20 or 30 to 1. And it clearly changed constantly. You always claimed 10-to-1.  Sorry.
You mean you could tell me, but you'd havta kill me afterward?

OK, go ahead kill me.

You never got back to me with your casualty spreadsheet.
But obviously, the Lebanese casualties blew out when they could actually dig through the ruins without getting strafed etc... I was talking about the numbers announced officially during the conflict.

With respect to ratios, maybe you're right and the Israelis aren't satisfied with 10 to 1. For example, they are now holding 25 members of the Palestinian parliament hostage, for the release of one IDF soldier.

As a special bonus, here's the best succinct military analysis of the conflict I've seen. It's from a friend who spent some time in Lebanon in a UN contingent in the 80s.

I think anyone who looked at the last 20 odd years of the Leb's history could have seen that the IDF were doing a helluvajob fooling themselves that they could crush the Hezbollah with a few weeks of all-out war.

There are really only 2 good roads in the whole of Southern Lebanon, one goes kind of through the middle and the other goes along the coast. You can't get a lot of armour into S.Leb if you don't have control of those roads and the hills that overlook them. And even if you do control them, getting enough people and materials into the area in-between is very difficult.

The Hezbollah were already there, they had occupied the old UN positions and camps, and the old Israeli sponsored SLA/defacto forces positions. All these positions are key, as they command the high ground between the many valleys/wadis and overlook the roads and tracks through the area. But, more than that, they had fortified the towns wherever they could.

The old positions are all easily identified and are already on a hundred maps complete with exact co-ordinates enabling the IDF to shell and bomb the shit out of them with precision. It was in the towns, where some people stayed (and fought, apparently) and where the Hezbollah took up positions with very good anti-tank weapons (Syrian supplied) that the IDF armoured thrusts were blunted.

And now, even if the peace holds (it seems the IDF is pissing on it already) it's still going to be the Hezbollah who own the area, now even more so. They have a huge support organisation that's going to be rebuilding towns, houses, schools, medical centres and roads right now as we discuss this.

The IDF can't control the Syrian border, and can't stop munitions coming into Leb. They can't dissuade hundreds of young people from joining the Hezbollah either, especially as it was so heavy handed and killed so many of their friends and family. So essentially, all that was achieved was the destruction of some rocket launchers, which are so easily replaced they don't even have to come from Syria, and the revitalisation (as if they needed it) of the Hezbollah in South Leb.

I'll state it again, I think Israel is a legitimate nation that has every right to defend itself. But I also think they took advantage of the hostage taking situation (remember that?) to create a war scenario where they could have a free hand in S.Leb against the Hezbollah, and they made a proper hames of it.

Yeah, I wuz hoping I could bamboozle you with this approach. Obviously, your counterattack has succeeded. You called my bluff. Cheers.

Seriously, though. I thought I had won. Of course we will discuss this more. Shame on you MUDLOGGER(and others).

That's about what happened, not the article. I'll go read that now.

Yes, you are the toughest opposition I've ever faced. And I've lost before.
But what are we actually opposed about? You say

Don't you think you're kind of playing it both ways here?

but I'm not actually advancing any particular thesis, just trying to analyse events in a fair and balanced<sup>TM</sup> manner. I am not any kind of extremist, I'm well-integrated socially and politically. I engaged you, in particular because I think you are a level-headed guy in general, but appear to exhibit a not-uncommon lack of lucidity WRT the middle east.

AlistairC: How dare you inject reality into this debate. You are supposed to use broad sweeping statements and slogans whenever this all-important subject comes up on TOD. The future of the universe is at stake (just ask the Chinese).
Context is colorful

Culturally Americans have very little context to distinguish social, cultural and religious differences from our economic and political interests.

The 9/11 Commission Report, carefully drafted with US and foreign interests in mind, identfiied Saudi Arabia as the primary source of funding for Al Queda before and for up to 2 years after the 9/11 attacks.

We are not well-served by assuming that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Queda are part of a monolithic movement. But they are different than the PLO, the Baathists and the earlier Pan-Arab movement in that the latter are secular.

If almost 70% of the reserves of oil were not in a tight little triangle in the Middle East we would not have deep concerns about Islam, or its radical and discontented expressions.

But imagine if we did want to comprehend both the challenge and opportunity presented by the Islam and the diversity of its expressions - both healthy and unhealthy. Our starting place necssarily would be on trying to understand an alternative view - of history, religion, culture and society. And just like there is not a single history of Christianity, modernity, Western culture - there is not a single history of Islam, Arab and non-Arab cultures and societies, and traditional, fundamentalist and modern perspectives within various non-Western cultures and societies.

There is a bias to want to see things in "black and white" but the world is colorful, alive and inherently dynamic. How we perceive one another across differences and distinctions within and across societies shapes the world in very real ways.


"IMO, it is as coherent and on target as his writings on suburbia and peak oil."

That is because you and he lack a comprehensive understanding of the fundamentals of Islamic terrorism.
Regarding Kunstler's recent pro-Israel commentaries, it is worth keeping in mind that he has always been open in stating:

a) That America's Iraq adventure was about oil; and
b) That he didn't in principle have any objections to a).

While I vehemently disagree with b) on obvious moral grounds, I have always grudgingly respected Kunstler's forthrightness on a) - though this does not absolve him of what is profoundly wrong with b).

These factors, combined with his ethnic background, perhaps make his recent pro-Israel commentaries less surprising than they might otherwise be.

Good insight. What I also find interesting is that a post by someone yesterday, I believe, originally calling for the removal of his link on the blogroll led to some of the best discussion of this man's recent work as has ever occurred here. Holy free publicity, Batman. Like I always say, any news is good news.

To whoever originally requested that...be careful what you wish for, you might not get it.

The best thing about this site is the high-level dialogue concerning oil. The second best thing is that when people cease to talk about oil, they can talk about whatever they want. Or link to whatever they want. Freedom of speech. This community is self-policed - or not at all. Live Free or Die.

(OK, you should probably end this one here, cut out those last three paragraphs...Yeah, that's a good idea...thanks)

Hello TODers,

TIME magazine has an excellent article on why we don't prepare for disasters.

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

That is a great article.

This paragraph says it all:

A federal system like ours is not built to plan for--or respond to--massive disasters, concedes George Foresman, the country's new Under Secretary for Preparedness. "Everything we're trying to do goes counter to how the Founding Fathers designed the system," he says, sitting in his office on the DHS campus in Washington, surrounded by pie charts documenting what needs fixing. Unlike other, more centralized governments, ours cannot easily force states or companies to act. And when the feds try to demand changes anyway, state and local officials bristle at the interference. Like teenagers, we resent paternalism--until we're in trouble. Then we expect to be taken care of.
I don't buy this.  The power of the federal government to tax and spend is essentially all that is needed to build an effective emergency preparedness regime nationwide. Offer state and local governments funding for regional/local preparedness programs (a national program does not need to be and probably should not be monolithic).

The real issues turn on the waste of federal tax income on military adventures, agri-business, and the like, and a prevailing ideology  that society consists of winners and losers, and government has no business messing with this 'natural' arrangement.  "We do not want our hard earned money to be spent on those people..."

Maybe, Mr. I-can't-get-this-to-work-because-of-Madison-Jefferson-and-all, should consider contracting the job to the Hizbollah.

Did you read the whole article?

Taxing and spending isn't the issue.  The political will to use those powers is.

They use New Orleans as an example. Everyone knows that all of New Orleans should not be rebuilt.  57% percent of Americans don't want it to be rebuilt.  The state and local politicians know it, too, but do not have the 'nads to say so.  They were hoping FEMA would play the heavy.  But FEMA wouldn't do it, either.  So all of New Orleans is being rebuilt, exactly where it was.  FEMA is requiring the houses be 3' higher.  Even though some neighborhoods were flooded 20'.

And you really can't blame them.  It's become a hot-button issue, tangled with race and poverty. It's a third rail, and no politician who wants to be re-elected is gonna touch it.

I absolutely agree that the absence of political will gets to the heart of the problem.  My objection was with the suggestion that constitutional arrangements stood in the gentleman's way.
The two are not unrelated.

The U.S. system is set up to maximize the power of the individual vote.  Which has negatives as well as positives.  It makes it hard for politicians to tell anyone anything they don't want to hear.

QUick technical point (AND I DO DISAGREE !)

All new homes, even in areas 4' above sea level and without any flooding whatsoever, must be raised a minimum of 3'.  A generally unwarranted burden that will make wheelchair accessiable housing almost non-existent.

However, other areas must be substantially higher.

There was some quick "grandfathering" going on before new rules are implemented; and the 50% rule (49.9% damage and new elevations are not required.  Sebveral people with nominal 53% damage appealed and got 49% status).

Existing housing stock was mostly built pre-WW II and early after, and is MUCH better quality construction.


When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts: Documentary. Directed by Spike Lee. Acts 1 and 2, 9 p.m. tonight; Acts 3 and 4, Tuesday, with repeated broadcasts through Sept. 13, HBO.

Nearly a year after Katrina hit, Spike Lee's latest asks tough questions and lets the victims describe their incalculable heartbreak for themselves

However, other areas must be substantially higher.

May be ALL areas "must be substantially higher" ?
The east coast of North America, with 1, 3, 10, 30, and 100 meter rises in sea-level

Great link.  I should be okay for anything less than 100 meters.  ;-)

FWIW, that NASA scientist who got in trouble with Bush administration thinks sea level could rise 80 meters by the end of the century due to climate change.

Just under 1 meter a year for the next 100 years?

340 feet in 100 years??  I thought 200 feet caused an ice age?

This report:


Seems to indicate 3.5" to 34.6" in the next century.

That report is almost a year old.  Things have changed drastically since then.  New data show the old models aren't working; the earth is warming much faster than predicted, and the glaciers are melting much faster than expected.  (Partly because we now understand more about the mechanism of melting ice sheets.  Basically, water starts running underneath the ice, lubricating it and hastening its slide into the sea.  They did not expect that.)

Interestingly enough, it has been through my understanding of Peak Oil that I have become quite concerend about the environment - specifically global warming issues.  

Wikipedia has an article on rising sea levels.


This seems to indicate we are seeing the seas rising at approximately 3mm/year.  This is a far cry from 800mm/year which is what you are claiming.

14,000 years ago there was the "Meltwater Pulse 1A" time period when the sea level changed 20 meters in 500 years.

Now obviously these sorts of things tend to have some sort of parabolic growth rate, so I'm guessing that you think sea levels could be rising 1.5 - 2+ meters per year 60 or 70 years from now?

I will have to run some numbers to see what sort of percentage changes that would require on a year over year basis.  But on the surface - you have to admit - that sounds preposterous!


Ok, so I just ran some numbers.

I took a 2006 sea rise number of 3mm.

It will take 8% growth every year for the next 100 years to see sea levels go up 80 meters.  Year 2082 would be the first year where the sea level rises over 1 meter.  Year 2105 would have the oceans rise 6 meters.  That would be approximately 3mm per day!!

I don't discount the possibilities of nasty feedback loops, but surely you have to admit that seems improbable?


Oops.  Wrong units.  It's 80 ft. Jim Hansen thinks sea level will rise.

In my defense, my office is halfway between English and metric.  We switched over a few years ago, at great expense and confusion, and are now switching back to imperial units.  :-P

Nothing like progress is there?  :)

Do you have a link to Jim Hansen's work?  I'd like to take a look at it.  Geologically a 4 meter change per 100 years is considered massive.

One of the things y'all are neglecting to take into account is that this is a non-linear system. It doesn't change linearly. The progress is either geometric or exponential, and sometimes reverses on itself. For example, you can have a 3mm rise one year and the next over a meter, due to a major ice sheet sliding into the ocean. The next year it could be back to a few millimeters. The system also contains a postitive feedback loop; in other words, the more that melts, the faster the remaining ice metls.

There is even a possibility for a sea level to rise by a few millimeters for most of this century, and then to rise 80 feet in the last few yeas as major chuncks of ice break up one after the other.

This is his homepage at NASA:


He's got PDF copies of many of his papers there.

But it's this research that seems to have alarmed him the most:

 Growing Evidence Suggests Potential for Rapid Sea-Level Rise


I'm not trying to make the impact of this seem any less, but from the second paper you site comes the following quotes:

Their simulations suggest that the climate in Greenland could become as warm by 2100 as it was during the last interglacial, when high northern latitudes were more directly exposed to solar radiation due to a tilt in the Earth's axis. That warming, coupled with increased melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, could lock in conditions leading to an eventual sea level rise of as much as 20 feet (six meters) in the coming centuries. Under that scenario, much of coastal Louisiana and South Florida would ultimately disappear under the rising seas.

The researchers emphasize that without a more complete understanding of the mechanisms behind the recent increase in glacial flow, predictions of future sea level rise rates are uncertain. But current trends do suggest that ice sheets may be more sensitive to a warming climate than previously thought, and that sea level rise could proceed at rates up to 3 feet per century.

"Eventual rise of 20 feet over the coming centuries."
"rates up to 3 feet per century"

That's a far cry from 80 feet in 100 years.


I'm not trying to make the impact of this seem any less,  

He put his own interpretation on the data.

Either that, or the British press made the same English vs. metric error I did.  It was the British press that reported on the story.  It was barely covered in the U.S.

I disagree as well. There is plenty of will and the will is not to act. Run down the list of campaign contributors to your so-called representatives. These people, even in NOLA, are making out like bandits right now. Our system feeds on the destruction. What is more profitable than destruction? Repeated destruction.

Beyond that, there are structural problems with our Commerce Clause and trade agreements. There is too much usurpation of power by higher levels. Who took the Guard and what is it doing right now? The Feds. It's not an issue of which party; this is the neo-liberal agenda. Stripping "redundancy" to just-in-time (or not as the case may be).

The solution, however, is not to concentrate even more authority and power at higher and higher levels, but that is what the PTB will try. We need to simplify and decentralize the response mechanisms, not complicate them. Tainter.

What can New York do to prepare for a hurricane? Start by ordering the Guard home. The lesson from NOLA is we are on our own.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hello Leanan,

That link above of Matt Simmons comparing BP's Prudhoe shutdown as an energy industry 'Pearl Harbour' is a good example of us not preparing for disaster.  The Asphalt Wonderland is at the extreme ends of two old pipelines [from TX & CA], recall my recent posting of the problems created in Phx in 2003 when just one pipeline broke down south of Phx.

The tankering of fuel by truck from Tucson to Phx [100 miles or more] was difficult enough, but this would be nothing if the pipeline from California broke down.  The CA pipeline provides 60% of our fuels--an significant earthquake in LA would probably leave us without a reliably large and steady fuel flow for some time.  Imagine tanker rigs having a 375 mile one-way haul!  Even worse, a major corrosion problem from lack of proper maintenance could require these tanker runs for months on end until this pipe was replaced.

It has been mentioned before on how old our nation's water, sewer, and electrical spiderwebs are getting too.  How would you like to have your neighborhood overrun by the breaking of an old sewer?

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

Hello Neon9,

Excellent article!  Makes me want to run out and buy an aroma-filtering mask and rubber waders.  My guess is most Americans would rather ante-up for a big-screen TV than vote for a tax-increase to replace their sewer lines.

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

That pipeline Totoneila refers to, in Tucson, ruptured and sprayed entire neighborhoods with enormous quantities of gasoline.

I didn't understand the nature of that "accident" until now.

Except for the few who have sewage in their basement/park/street/lake et al every time it rains :-)
Not to mention, sewage may be a bigger health hazard, but water lines leak billions of gallons a day of potable water into the ground in the US alone.
And of course, here in FL (and I'm sure there in AZ also) we use about 1/2 our water to keep our st. augustine lawns and flowering shrubs looking good.
"That link above of Matt Simmons comparing BP's Prudhoe shutdown as an energy industry 'Pearl Harbour' is a good example of us not preparing for disaster."

It is moreover a further example of the rising demand for "replacement energy", that is energy expended to maintain decaying infrastructure, whether oil pipelines, bridges or sewers, or to rebuild after 'natural' disasters.  This demand can be added to the ongoing increase in energy demanded for the production of useful energy.  In other words running harder and harder to stay where we are.  

This demand carries a large opportunity cost and subverts the systemic requirement for expansion that characterizes the capitalist model of industrialism. It wouldn't of necessity be a problem if the supply of energy available to the economy was unlimited, except to the extent that that supply comes with environmental degradation.

Unfortunately, not withstanding the hot air of cornycups and shysters, all the available evidence points to a severely constrained supply for a long, long time AND an sadly unconstrained increase in environmental degradation.

So here we are.  Two thirds of our btu's come from resources on the cusp of decline. (It's irrelevant historically if the decline has already set in or will set in by 2050. Forty-five years ago Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were slugging it out of the park, Floyd Patterson was slugging it out in the ring and Fidel was president of Cuba.  Time passes quickly, kids.)  Enormous quantities of energy are required to overcome the endless decay and destruction of infrastructure essential for the continuance of our urbanized economy.  And we are conditioned for a system that requires additional units of energy on demand.

It's enough to make me a doomer.  Yet, I resist.  

Resistance is Futile
Thanks.  You made me chuckle and after a day of number crunching on not unrelated matters, I needed that.

Elsewhere, I notice people talking about the usurption of local and state power by the nasty centralists.  Definitely something to be said for this concern, but those of us with roots in small communities are well aware of how power can be concentrated on the local level as well, and not for the public good.  A federal system with a dynamic tension between local and central authorities can be a very positive thing.

Frankly, I think a greater problem arises from the usurption of the power of love by the charlatans who would define our spiritual lives and in so doing reduce us to impotency.    

Frankly, I think a greater problem arises from the usurption of the power of love by the charlatans who would define our spiritual lives and in so doing reduce us to impotency.


It is moreover a further example of the rising demand for "replacement energy", that is energy expended to maintain decaying infrastructure, whether oil pipelines, bridges or sewers, or to rebuild after 'natural' disasters.

This is an important point. Ageing infrastructure does need energy and energy-embedded materials to rebuild--and money, and expertise, all of which are in critically short supply. What actually comes to pass will result from a complex mix of competing demands.

The New York subways used to have a program of "deferred maintenance." That's occurring worldwide on infrastructure--oil, electricity, water, roads. There will be a rationing process--short term fixes to critical problems first, them satisficing solutions to bigger issues.

I think it's a safe bet that worldwide infrastructure will continue its long-term decline, with just enough investment to keep it limping along. And the ecosystem will just have to adapt.

Come to the dark side my son.
It's enough to make me a doomer. Yet, I resist.

I would be nice to share a common understanding of what a "doomer" IS or is not:

- Anybody expecting a total collapse ("a few breeding pairs in the Arctic") can certainly be named a doomer.
- Is anybody expecting "only" a large die-off (billions) but some "civilised" life going on at some places a doomer?
- Is anybody expecting a return to primitivism (with or without a large die-off) a doomer?
- Is anybody expecting a return to warlordism (with or without a large die-off) a doomer?
- Is anybody expecting only "some" die-off (a few hundred millions) a doomer?
- Is anybody NOT expecting "business as usual" a doomer?
- Is anybody NOT expecting "yet we will make it thru tough times" a doomer?

Any votes, opinions or proposals for a more nuanced terminology?

I think the way it usually works is "Anyone more pessimistic than me is a doomer, and anyone more optimistic than me is a cornucopian." ;-)

The denizens of PeakOil.com have tried to deal with this issue with a "Doomer scale."  Some call it the "Doomertron," others call it the "Doomerosity" scale.  It was originally 1-5, but people have gone "off scale," declaring Doomerosity readings of 7, 10 etc.

Darned inflation...

Hmm, there seems to be a theme today in may of the articles that we humans are being foolish.  

From Orlov:

"Perhaps we should be making some new plans, like the Easter islanders should have done, while there is still time. But there is hardly anything more enduring in the world than human folly, and there is no-one to steer this ship of fools away from the rocks of physical reality. Even if there was, this ship is not designed to turn, or even to slow down, but only to speed up. What other word is there for people who are working harder and harder in order to bequeath to their children a bankrupt country and a planet-sized disaster area - except fools? Some suppose it it our insect-like genetic programming to postpone desperate measures until it is too late for them to be of any use. I doubt that it is: we were free spirits once, before a millennium or two of settled, civilized labor of tending fields and serving a landlord (or serving as a landlord) bred it out of us."

An interesting observation, but do insects really postpone desperate measures ?  

It's the human condition, I think.  From the link Bob posted:

In A.D. 63, Pompeii was seriously damaged by an earthquake, and the locals immediately went to work rebuilding, in the same spot--until they were buried altogether by a volcano 16 years later.
Pompeii and New Orleans--hmmm, do we begin to see a pattern here?

Romans had a better excuse.  

They didn't know anything about geophysics.

And probably Pompeii was near good economic trade routes and agriculture to make it profitable.

Did people in San Francisco and L.A. rebuild after their earthquakes?  Uh, yeah.  Kobe, Japan is still there.

Why do people do it?  Because they own the property, have a mortgage on it, and if they don't rebuild they'll be ruined.

I have a hard time blaming them there.  The land around that area was very fertile (because of the work of the volcano), so there was a great incentive to stick around.  But the thing is...I doubt any of them knew what an earthquake was, or what caused them, so it's not like they could just be like "ah, this is an earthquake prone area and we should move somewhere else or construct our homes differently"  and second, I seriously doubt there were any vulcanologists there...as long as they prayed to the volcano, everything was cool.

We should know better.

"We should know better."  Ah, can someone remind me what is the percentage of people in the US who believe that the 'virgin birth of our lord and saviour' was an actual historical event?
They probably ignore the virgin part and simply believe that Jesus was a person so the logic follows...
Got to take your jab at the Christians eh?

Something to consider...

The success of America, and ultimately humanity in averting the effects of Peak Oil is first and foremost dependent on us as a collective citizenry/species in recognizing PO as a danger.

In order to promote the cause of recognition, you need to win people to your ideals.

Christians along with others who follow Diety centric beliefs make up the Vast majority of human race.

Tell me how are you helping your cause (PO awareness) by alienating a rather large subsection of the American/World population with your barbed remarks?

You know you could instead of belittling them, appeal to them using their very own religious texts in order to win more PO aware, and potentially active propenents.  i.e.  God created man to be a good steward of the Earth.  Or any number of stories and parables about good stewardship.

However your smugness, and superiority complex does little more than to push away the very resource that the PO cause needs.  People, specifically people who care enough to do something and mobilize their wallets and votes.  And if there is one thing that many religious people are, it is usually caring, have money, and vote.  The religious right don't hold the power they do because they don't vote afterall.  

The fact that often times those same people are often locally involved(a concept heavily touted here) in various missions, town boards, charities, XYZ cause awareness, school activities, and Sport/Recreational League activities couldn't at all be of possible use to the PO crowd either could it?  Nor the fact that Churches/Temples/Mosques serve as a major center for community involvement in much of the US and the world wouldn't be important either eh?

Trust me when I say, that when you make such snide remarks, you do more to hurt your own cause(and ultimately the acceptance of PO as a problem) than you ever do to those religions.  A casual religious passerby who heard a bit about PO and might potentially be a PO convert could be thrown overboard because they were turned off by the tone that your post expresses.

Think before you post.  Think about how does this comment WIN people to my cause or does it bash something unrelated and drive a potential fellow Peak Oiler away.

PO needs allies to get momentum.  I wouldn't get so elitist as to turn away a potential ally in this matter over something so unrelated as religion.

Well stated. The religious baiting by the self-proclaimed "superior" atheists gets tiresome. Perhaps toilforoil is ignorant enough to not realize that some of the more knowledgeable professionals in the oil industry are believers of various faiths, such as [G.R. Morton, who wrote this great paper about Ghawar http://home.entouch.net/dmd/ghawar.htm] a few years ago.
Let me recommend "The Pagan Christ- Recovering the Lost Light" by Tom Harpur, an Anglican priest and prominent theologian in Toronto.

I'd be happy to discuss these matters after you've completed this work.

That's your response to their restrained criticism -- tell them to read a book? Why don't you just defend your point of view, or apologize?
Or, alternately, we could drop this and get back on-topic ...
Harpur's book is a work of great scholarship founded on other works of great scholarship.  It certainly helped me to reconnect with the christos within.  And no I am not an atheist though I've long grown out of the notion that some bearded white guy is up there sorting out the good from the bad.  The virgin birth is a myth and as Harpur points out, it is a myth which lost its true power when it was perverted into supposed historical reality some centuries into the common era.  

I deal in evidence, brother, and there is no evidence of a historical Christ and plenty of evidence of the distortion of the message of the church of the first and second centuries of the common era by self-serving usurpers searching for a means to keep the unwashed in line.

It's time to step out of line.

My local public library has a copy. I will read it.
So that's your response? To dictate that others read some book that already confirms your personal beliefs rather than engage the issue directly and positively as Telumehtar suggested?
Actually, my son, I was a soul adrift until this book showed me the light and the way.
I think I agree with much of what you are saying. (I'd also recommend Sam Harris's "The End of Faith".) I certainly don't believe in a literal interpretation of the bible, and I think the bible has been distorted over the centuries. As with any religious text, we should take what is useful and uplifting from it, and let the rest go. Perhaps the virgin birth is just a symbol of a mother-figure living in state of purity and onenes with God. Religion should not be used to divide people (Muslim vs. Christian, etc.). Truth is multi-faceted. We must go beyond religion to real spirituality.
True brother.

Our religious institutions should of themselves not be an 'END' but should be the 'MEANS' and therefore not just a social club but instead the POINTER to the "way".

If you can't make it to the light on your own then all the lifted up hands in the world won't help you one bit,nor hymns, nor fallen priests , nor chants, nor strapping explosives on your bod, nor telling others how they should live spiritually.

The truth is out there(thanks X-Files) if you wish to seek it. Some would rather sit around and play ego games whilst sucking up all the loose change in the congregation and having at all the young nubile womemfolk.

As for me I find enlightment in strange places but I started after 30 years of falled church attendance with the Kabballah and reading the Old Testament in Hebrew(a slow but meaningful work).

I also took a stab at the Quran and found out that it was true that Islam wishes the destruction of all the profane and unbelievers(primarily those who deal with crosses).

We are in a religious war. Oil is the apparent weapon. I think we are likely to lose.

After or during that loss, sprituality I think will enjoy a very huge revival, then once more charlatans will arise, migrate to the political arena and we can start it all over again. I am going to miss the 'second' showing, praise deity.

airdale--"I could be wrong, I have been wrong before"

+1 on The End of Faith.
I think you've missed the point toilforoil,

My point is that if unaverted PO turns out to be the doomers scenario, that collective grave isn't going to care whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Athiest, Agnostic, Pagan, Bhuddist, Hindu, or Scientologist.  It will gladly accept your remains all the same.

I'm not a doomer, not yet, and this is largely due to the fact that I think humanity can turn this ship around still.  Not a 180 mind you, but a steady course change as more and more people (regardless of faith) are WON to the idea of PO and become interested in alternative energy measures to avert a collapse of our civilization.  And people are not WON to ideals when those ideals are being harbored in a hostile forum.

Don't win enough people fast enough however, and those groups you snipe at will still be in the same hole as you.  You might think about getting along with them or better yet, appeal to them for a common cause that does all humankind good.

Glenn told me a few days ago that he has posted here before, but under a pseudonym. I told him we would like his input here.
Thank You... you put it much better than I could have.
I don't condone bashing religious belief, but I think toilforoil  makes an interesting point, albeit obliquely.

For most of us on this site, PO is a geological event and its consequent difficulties determined by thermodynamic laws concerning net energy.

But for many others, the inevitable decline in perceived standard of living will be viewed as retribution for sin or the inherent evil nature of others.

There will be much scapegoating unless  PO is viewed first and foremost as a geological phenomenon.


I am working on an article, "how do I tell my church about Peak Oil" using stories from the bible:

  1. Noah (duh)
  2. Joseoph (preparing for the bad times during the good)
  3. Jeremiah (the original Prophet of Doom)

The tower of babel is very easy to analogize to an economy based on ever lasting growth ala suburbia.  When it became impossible to keep growing the society based around the tower it collapsed into factions.

Jeremiah said, "we need to return to the Torah or the Babylonians are going to kick our asses." That's like saying in the modern day, "we need to become more frugal and less dependent on borrowed money and cheap crap and guzzling gas or our goose is cooked. Look at Iraq.)

As far as my religious beliefs, the only thing I believe in is "full specturm ass coverage." Thus, I know a bit about each of the major religions and (unlike most white liberals) actaully do have friends of different faiths, races, etc.

Figure if/when I get to the gates o' heaven, my ass is covered no matter which religion turns out to be the ONE true religion.

Luke, chapter 12:

LUK 12:15  And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a
 man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

LUK 12:16  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain
 rich man brought forth plentifully:

LUK 12:17  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I
 have no room where to bestow my fruits?

LUK 12:18  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build
 greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

LUK 12:19  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for
 many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

LUK 12:20  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be
 required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

LUK 12:21  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Where do you want this killing done? God said "On Highway 61".
Also, take a quick scan through the book of Amos.
I've put some thought into how to present peak oil to religious people in my area also. I believe living simply and humbly is a common thread with all of the worlds major religions.
 America's religious people have for the most part strayed from this ideal. Instead of consuming only what we need we seek happiness in stuff. More and larger stuff constantly.
 I think Christ would be appalled if he stood in the parking lot of most churches as people drove into services.
 Hummers, SUV's, jewelry , personal displays of wealth and personal selfishness.
 I think people would agree that Americans have strayed far from Christs message of humility and how important it is to share God's gifts with less fortunate people.
I assume this article is being marketed towards evangelical fundamentalists Christians? I ask because that is the only one Biblical appeals will work for.

I'd just like to point out that there are numerous other religions in this country and the world which do not even follow the Bible, and many Christian sects that do not need the Bible to convince them of PO.

As point of facts:
-Chrisitanity is not the dominant relgion even in this country, much less the world. It has about a thrid of the world's population, or 2.1 billion people. And of the Christian sects, while the most visible are the Fundamentalists, they range in theology and beliefs from the ultra conservative Southern Baptists to the most liberal Episcopalians. You would have a hard time getting these groups to agree on anything, including Biblical interpretation.

-Islam has about 1.3 billion people.

-Hinduism and Buddhism are the next biggest, at 900 million and 376 million respectively. (I treat these two stats as suspects, as most Indians are Hindu and most Chinese are Buddhist/Confucianist/Zen, and both countries have populations in excess of 1 billion.

-The total number of religions is impossible to determine, but it is at least several thousand.

My point is, convincing religious communities of the reality of PO should be a priority, but focusing on one segment isn't going to go very far. The Religious Right might be the most visible group in this country, but they are really a small minority of even Christians.

And the path might be harder than you think. My own faith, liberal though it is in the extreme, and devoted to the enviroment, justice, etc, has yet to wake up to the realities of PO. Though, since there are at least 3 of us on this site alone, I suspect that will soon change. One thing UUs are good at is stirring up debate.

For those that find themselves in a universe goverened by physics, it's a bit of a surreal experience to inhabit a planet filled with worshipers of cloud beings.  Especially ones that can't even agree on which cloud being to worship, or their number.  On top of that, within themselves they can't even agree on which version of their sacred texts to use or even how to interpret the texts.  To which I say "whatever" but it seems there's a propensity for them to start wars with their faith as a backing.  Everyone goes to war thinking they've got God(s) on their side.  Even a religion that has at it's core the values of "turn the other cheek" and "do unto others..."

These puppies:

  1. Have no other gods before me.
  2. Make no images of anything in heaven, earth or the sea, and do not worship or labor for them.
  3. Do not vainly use the name of your God
  4. Do no work on the seventh day of the week.
  5. Honor your parents.
  6. Do not kill.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not give false testimony against another.
  10. Do not desire another's wife or anything that belongs to another.

If we really were a christian nation, we'd have no army...because we'd literally be condemning our soldiers to an eternal hell (#6 in particular).  Closing all shops on Sunday would probably bankrupt everyone, and coveting thy neighbors $h!t is totally what suburbia is all about, and drives conumerism - the US would be bankrupt in a day if we followed that.

Prayed for gas lately?

There was a stink just recently in the news about a Teacher being fired because she was a woman (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2339673&page=1).  Has she ever read the bible?  It's not too flattering.  First, woman was cast from adam's rib.  Then she eats a damn apple and gets them kicked out of heaven on Earth known as Eden.  It just goes downhill from there./ "...any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman...Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:18, 19 & 33./

If some supreme being decreed all of this, why is it so fucked up?  Why do you have to omit large portions of what it says to be able to live with yourself, to live as an American?  If you believe this is the word of God, you must follow it.

With that having been said, I know some damn good people who call themselves Christian.  I know some damn good pagans too and a Jew.  What does it all mean?  I can't really say.

Minor correction. The commandment in question does not say "Do not kill" but rather says "Do not murder" which is somewhat different. This is a common misinterpretation which results in a bad conclusion because the assumption starts in error. The entire matter is fairly complex but those who have read the original Hebrew make clear that the word is not an all encompassing ban on killing.
If some supreme being decreed all of this, why is it so fucked up?

The other day I was in a hospital room.
Spotted a copy of the Bible placed there by The Gideons (who are these guys?).
Started at the "In the Beginning" part.

... And on the Seventh day He rested ...

He? The supreme all mighty? Needed to rest?
What the f___? Since when does a supreme being need to rest?
And what's this jealousy bit at the top of the 10 Commandments pop chart?

And on the 7th day, the almighty one "rested" --cause He was tired and cause he was "happy" with his jacked-off creation but "jealous" with the thought that his lill ones might worship another father? Since when does a Supreme Being have human, male emotions? Hmmm. Something very Self-Image-like here. I wonder why.

P.S. You got the First and 2nd Commandments wrong. That is the problem with translations. You got to go back to the original Hebrew.
Rough translation: (1) Yo dudes, me name is Jehova and I shall be your one and only God. (2) Not in my face are you dudes gonna disrespect me by showing that you "have" other gods. (Although in fact you might "have" these other gods, but don't let me catch you worshipping them above me, the numero uno.)

Brother, I am praying the Good Lord see fits to remove the stick the devil hath shoved up ye anus!
That's it? That's your contribution? After this entire discussion? That's what you got out of it? Must have had something good going on the last three days. Because, Good Lord, we've missed you.
Think before you post. Think about how does this comment WIN people to my cause or does it bash something unrelated and drive a potential fellow Peak Oiler away.

I understand your concerns but there is a least 2 downsides to your point:

- If you start going "political" with a Peak Oil party-line you are going to the slippery slope of "political compromises" which may bring the same sort of half-baked solutions which come out of the political game and which will be in practice ineffective even when gathering consensus.
Furthermore, apart from the fact that Peak Oil will happen (even so there are also deniers) there NO consensus on the WHAT and WHEN, not to speak of SOLUTIONS, there is no party-line.

- This amounts to some "restraint" and self-censorship which will castrate the brainstorming which makes a large part of the value of TOD, beside the technical matters.

Political is one thing, religion bashing is utterly useless however and I fail to see how avoiding religion bashing will "castrate the brainstorming" about Peak Oil.  Love or hate it, humans of all faiths are facing this problem, and nit-picking beliefs is at best a distraction from the problem, and at worst a wedge to drive away potential problem solvers.


But you bring up a topic which I've been trying to get my head around also.  Should a eureka moment occur and the majority of the population wakes up to find that we are in a hole, what then?

As you say, politics has a way of watering things down into half measures, and wishful thinking.  Which is why when I read a lot of posts on this forum advocating government this and government that to bail us out, I have to scratch my head and think huh?

Isn't "government" and politicians part of what lead us to this mess in the first place?  Why on Earth would I want to rely on them to bail us out.  Especially given their ties, (democrat and replublican alike) to current interests which don't want to see change.

The thing I want government(federal that is) to do, is quit playing favorites, phase out subsidies, and let a level playing field be the arena of ideas in which this contest for the best technology can be fought.  And then for the most part get its fat bloated arse out of the way.

If anything, by getting a nationalistic energy approach out of the way, I think it will encourage regional solutions, which may or may not be uniformed across the country.  For instance Ethanol in the corn belt, and solar in the sunbelt, and tidal along the coasts.  To paraphrase someone on an earlier thread, instead of searching for the silver bullet, we should be looking for the silver shotgun shell, and in my opinion a monolithic federal approach will deter that not help.

Anyhoot, I reserve the right to change my mind, as I'm still fairly new to the PO problem, but my current leanings are that a "political" or rather politically mandated answer is likely to be our goose cooking.  A private or State/local push for ideas I think is the better approach.  The market I think works, as long the market is getting truthful information to make rational decisions.  Part of the problem with Oil, is I think the market is getting half truths at best, and outright lies at worst.

Anyhow, if its political debate over energy policy, and even some bashing, go for it.  That is what drew me to this site in the first place.  But leave religion out of it, its the one thing that can make otherwise rational people divide amongst unrational reasons.  And the last thing we need is more division.

I guess the thing I would like to know about the people of ToD is, if an Evangelical Christian who was a major entrepreneur into alternative energy solutions gained a popular following for President based upon his "good stewardship" platform, would those at the ToD be willing to stifle their objections to his faith in order to vote for a guy who would power us down?  Its a tough question, I know, and its one I have begun wrestling with but in reverse. I'm fairly conservative on many view points and its seems many of the more enviro/alternative energy-friendly candidates are directly opposed to my stand on many other fronts.  

if an Evangelical Christian who was a major entrepreneur into alternative energy solutions gained a popular following for President based upon his "good stewardship" platform, would those at the ToD be willing to stifle their objections to his faith in order to vote for a guy who would power us down?

Only if he was willing to tackle the real issue: overpopulation.

Insects may be genetically programmed to postpone desperate measures, or for extreme paranoia, in theory, although that seems like an unlikely thing for them to evolve. But higher animals can do some of their own programming, on an idividual and group level, reprogramming themselves to survive rapid changes in the environment. Insects have to rely on their genetic programming to survive. Humans seem fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum.
The human dilemma seems to be the problem of time scale and repetition.  We eventually learned to smoke meats and make preserves to smooth over the food availability cycles.  Or maybe we just learned that from the squirrels ?  
But higher animals can do some of their own programming, on an idividual and group level, reprogramming themselves to survive rapid changes in the environment.

Reprogramming an individual is hard enough, ask any shrink, but reprogramming a group is hopeless.
Groups drift hapazardly along "cultural lines" and beside cults and mobs which are not of much interest for Peak Oil purposes no "reprogramming" seems possible along rational lines and within short time frames.

who said anything about "rational"?

Cowboy appeal:
"They" hate your freedom to roam the range freely in your SUV. Diversify. Go flex fuel hybrid. America is about diversity. Flex fuel hybrid is patriotic. Only cowards cut and run on 100% gasoline.  :-)

nationalizing the national gaurd

This paragraph seems to support the Administration's proposal that the President be granted the authority to gain control of the National Gaurd during times of national emergency. Why limit it to the Gaurd? Why not state and local police forces, private security companies and bouncers at local pubs?

I was once recruited by the Guard in my local state and one of the best reasons was this whole "you're not under the control of the Prez."  Really?  So you mean to tell me that my governer(who does control the guard of the state) won't kowtow to the Prez to gain favor & contribute his part?  C'mon who R you kidding?  That unit(the one I would have went to, it's a long story) went to IRAQ, I $hit you not.
clarification - the proposed initiative would allow the President to usurp control of the Gaurd within the US. This is quite unprecedented.
I agree, but under the current system there is a de facto power over the guard through governers.  My state loves bush(last check anyway), so why wouldnt he back up bush and send the guard if he asks?  The support is there, so what's stopping him, some moral argument?  Please.
TITLE 10 > Subtitle A > PART I > CHAPTER 15 > § 332

"Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion."


There are other provisions under the Insurrection Act section of the Federal Code that essentially allow the [r]esident to do with what he pleases regarding the National Guard, Police or FOE lodge members; no further legislation is needed.....

In terms of governmental preparation to avoid disasters, the problem is not Federalism; it is democracy itself.  Preparation requires sacrifice of some sort - giving up something or spending (and maybe taxing) for something. It simply does not pay for an elected representative to ask people to sacrafice today to prevent a POSSIBLE problem tomorrow.   The voters will definitely feel the sacrifice, but will disagree about whether the problem is short or long term or never.   Sacrifice always loses more votes than it gains.   That's why Bush never asks for sacrifice, depending in Iraq on a volunteer army and an invisible deficit for financing.   That's also why the inevitable coming oil shortage cannot find traction for action in Congress or the Administration beyond toadying to farmers to subsidize ethanol.  But higher CAFE standards?  Fughedaboudit.  
It seems to work in the nordic countries and they are all democratic. Such preparations are not a dominating part of the budgets and there are more complaints when the preparations dont work then praise when they are built up in anticipation of problems but preparations are done for a significant number of possible problems. Its after all one of the majorn reasons to have a government. But I can agree on this function loosing ground in Sweden in the competition with quick fix subsidies to key voting groups.
We're fairly independent group out here; the local fire department has decided to go with a new solar-powered, solar-heated fire station.

Excess power to be sent back into the grid ...

Well the fact of the matter is the truly radical components of the American experiment--distributed political power--have been under assault in this country for at least a century. The centralization of power that came with industrial life has brought us to this situation -- a monolithic economy dependent on oil. Of course as that falters, everyone pines for centralized solutions further eroding what was radically unique about the American experiment, and of course the emergencies necessary to bring further centralized power are documented far further back than our relatively new republic.

Instead of thinking DC is going to solve things and it ain't, we might turn back to distributed power and unleash ourselves from the oil leviathan through innovation and action at the local level, reclaiming our responsibilities and thus our rights and dignity as citizens.

<Instead of thinking DC is going to solve things and it ain't, we might turn back to distributed power and unleash ourselves from the oil leviathan through innovation and action at the local level, reclaiming our responsibilities and thus our rights and dignity as citizens.>

 That's why the self sufficient/ survivalist kind of mindset appeals to me.
 Individual responsibilty
 independent families
 cohesive communities
 self sufficient localities

 Sad that the self sufficient people are thought of as nut cases in our country and those that can't wean themselves from the consumption driven society are the  "normal" folks.

c'est la vie,,,back to cleaning my guns

Not promoting self sufficient/survivalist, just more local/community based governence and economy with greater diversity of life, all connected in a distributed network way. There's a lot of room between our present corporate globalists economy and walling off a couple acres with turrets.
I find the survivalist mindset scary and counter productive but I might have gotten a bad impression of it from media and survivalist webpages.

My bet for emergencies is on volontary cooperation within a well organized state with fairly active municipiality level democracy.

World war two is mostly forgotten but the local state learns from small disasters and will probably focus on what is realy important if there are any large ones in countries Sweden has close cultural ties with. Examples of learning is a small dam break leading to a recertification of all dams with lots of flood improvements to handle larger torrental rains and a small hurricane leading to a fairly massive rural cablification program.

Perhaps it will rain even more and we could get a realy strong storm that also topples 400 kV lines and then we will have to raise the bar and rebuild with better margins. Its the wise thing to do if it is affordable, if you dont do it you will get more unaffordable problems in the future. These problems are the easy ones, solvable with concrete, rebar and so on, the hard ones are the social ones.

What about:
Individual responsibilty
 independent families
 cohesive communities
 self sufficient localities

is scary and counterproductive in a peak oil world?


People hiding in a holes with guns, ammo and canned food while they think most of the local population is the biggest threath and at most they need to be united against them is scary.

Individual responsibility and multi level redundancy in resources and cooperation is of course good. More of that and creation of more social capital would be great anywhere in the world.

those sound like long term survival plans. but do nothing to help in the short term chaos of a collapse. at least in those areas that will experience it first hand instead of second hand as other people flee to the safer areas. but i do agree with other posters, having a large stockpile of food, water, weapons, and ammo only makes you a target.
I don't mean to be argumentative or to beat this issue into the ground but I disagree that these things would not help in the short term chaos of a collapse. It seems to me that we will have chaos during a possible collapse in large part because there is so little individual responsibilty, family self sufficiency, community cohesiveness etc in America.
 IMHO, a lot of chaos will be a result of the lack of these things in America.
I was a youngster during WWII and lived both in the city for awhile and in the country on several farms with my relatives thru all of it.

There is a HUGE disconnect between people and their morals/attitudes and life back then as opposed to what passes now for 'culture' in this day and age.

Back then most folks , at least in the country, were honest and hard working and KEPT THEIR WORD. They worked together but were extremely self-reliant.

If a neighbor down the road asked for your help and you gave it but then didn't come help you in your need? He was worthless trash and discounted as such and shunned , as well he should have been.

You did right and were honest. That was then,,,this is now.

A world apart and slowly dying as a result.

When the men came home from the war? All hell broke loose. Most left the farms, few stayed. They wanted good times and free reins. My father and his 6 brothers who fought that war were exactly in that mold. They left my grandparents to slowly die on their farm all alone. Didn't care enough to help the ones who birthed and raised them. We then began the start of a huge downward spiral in our society.

The American Dream slowly died. It was fun while it lasted but its now gone and won't be coming back this way. Possibly not ever.

I viewed and lived the 50's,60's ,70's..... and now I am just 'hunkering down' and living the rest of it out.

Hard to find a bit of peace and tranquility but I am right back where it all started. A few miles down the road from that old farm where those 7 boys and 7 girls were born, raised and went off into the world of the American Dream. All are dead now but one who lives nearby. He will NEVER buy what is said about PEAK OIL. He is near to pass on anyway and could care less.

I see it and hear it well. I wish it were different and the ending were better. I applaud the efforts of those here. I spend a lot of my spare time reading the comments and hoping against hope that we just might squeak thru.

When your dreams turn into nothing but regrets, then you might as well be dead already anyway.....(someone else said this, I just like the truth of it).

Now to the store to buy another case of .22 ammo. Squirrel is something I will have to reaquire a taste for and let me say that I ate a lot of squirrel on that old 100 acre farm of my pappy's.

Im all for local control to combat the problem, but then reality sets in that a MAJORITY of my tax dollars find their way into Federal hands.  I always say follow the money and where's the capital going to be at the local level?  It would be something for someone to "hijack" local politics and force feed renewable investments for the better of them.  Of course that person will be ripped a part, but would be vindicated too late.
The architecture of a more healthy government system remains intact in the US - citizen, local, county, state, and federal. One person's not going to get far, but a movement that understands the problem and gets people involved to reinvigorate the American system and begins instigating solutions at all levels still has a shot and part of that is keeping tax money at more local levels.
I like the optimism in your post.  As of late, I have become more optimistic because I feel there is more "awareness" out there, as well as industry and individuals trying to develop energy alternatives.  Look what's happened to the public's awareness of ethanol's shortfalls recently?  Now, I'm starting to hope that there could be a quick turn-around once the majority recognizes PO as a reality.  Two months ago I wouldn't have thought that was possible.  Next, I've started to have some hope that we, the people, could unite on this single issue in the next elections.  I've always been opposed to single issue candidates, but this will be my exception.  I don't care what party the candidate is, if they are PO aware and interested in helping this nation powerdown, then they will get my vote.
Good points Brutus and the rest. I recommend John Norquist's " The Wealth of Cities: Revitalizing the Centers of American Life" and Jane Jacobs' "Cities and the Wealth of Nations" as good primers on municipal regionalism. Daniel Kemmis is a fine writer as well.

Closer coordination of cities with their hinterlands will be critical in a relocalized, powered-down post-peak society. Unfortunately, the current US system is poorly set up to encourage effective regional governance -- metropolitan area governance structures are usually weak, ad-hoc, and  fragmented, and state boundaries rarely correspond to coherent economic or natural units, like city regions or watersheds. IMO peakers should be talking more about restructuring the American federal system into a network of coherent regions better adapted to the challenges ahead.

Westexas (and others),

You posted this last Saturday

"Re:  Pumping the fear factor out of oil
"By 2008 or 2009 you're going to have a lot more spare capacity in Saudi Arabia than there is now," said Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank.
What continues to amaze me is that the cornucopians will admit that regions do peak and decline, but they assert that the world--which is the sum of discrete producing regions--will virtually never decline (or that the peak is decades away, worst case).  
As I have said before, this is like saying that individual wells will peak and decline, but the field--the sum of individual wells--will never peak. "

Strangely enough, this 2004, 23 pages PDF from Deutsche Bank acknowledges Peak Oil, mentions ASPO on Page 9, and on page 10 : "The end-of-fossil hydrocarbons scenario is not therefore a doom-and-gloom picture painted by pessimistic end-of-the-world prophets, but a view of scarcity in the coming years and decades that must be taken seriously. Forward-looking politicians, company chiefs and economists should prepare for this in good time, to effect the necessary transitions as smoothly as possible"


True, indeed. Deutsche Bank Research acknowledges peak-oil. Last year, there was a hearing at the parliament of the German state Nordrhein-Westfalen. Interesting to read, but available only in German. The guy from BD Research was great there, he supported PO against the guys from Shell.

DB Research has not much to do with the normal business, it seems.

Businessweek says $50 oil over next couple of years


Pickens mentioned at the end as a contrarian who may no longer be right b/c so many now agree with him.

I love it, Businessweek is setting up more lambs for the slaughter.  If oil touches the 200dma of US$ 67, I am going to be buying with both hands.  The only way we will see $50 oil again is if the US government lops a zero off their currency. (1 new dollar = 10 old dollars)
Concerning yesterdays comment on greater than unity gain device with patent applied for don't bet on it. I have spent endless hours performing empirical experiments to verify magnetic shielding to protect electronics from extremely high permanent magnetic fields. These experiments where for the purpose of verifying magnetic shielding designs using magnetic modeling programs. A magnetic shield is simply a material that has a higher magnetic permeability than the area surrounding the magnet. The shield simply absorbs the magnetic flux and directs the flux thru the shield rather than the extended area around the magnet due to its higher permeability. I know of no magnetic shielding material that has a low reluctance or high permeability that doesn't also have a relatively high value of electrical conductivity. As you slide the shields together to close the window they will attempt to slam together, because they are also basically magnets. Then when you attempt to open the window it will require enormous energy to initially separate the shields. The energy expended moving the shields will no doubt be greater than the electrical energy generated in the apparatus outside the window due to common friction and lower flux density in the generating apparatus due to distance. If there were some means of changing the magnetic permeability of the shield material from 1 to 10,000 on command the same as you change the conductivity of a semi-conductor it would have possibilities. You may also have to consider the energy dissipated in the shield as heat due to the eddy-currents generated by changing flux density within the shield when they are separated and again closed. This is IMO nothing more than a scam.
Regarding greater than unity energy gain, a successful device has already been designed.  There are two basic principles involved:
  1. cats always land on their feet, and
  2. jellied toast always lands jelly-side down on the floor.
Therefore: you strap a piece of jellied toast jelly-side up to the back of a cat and toss him from some height.  Since he will try to land on his feet, but the toast will counter-act that by trying to land on the jelly, the cat will revolve in the air for an indefinite time hovering above the floor.  You simply tie a generator to the cat's tail and ... the end of the energy crisis is in sight.
This is fantastic.
You need to consult a patent attorney right away to stake your patent claims for the "Perpetual Energy System Comprising Feline with Jellied Grain Plate Attached Thereto" --LOL
Great in theory--please prototype it, and link a video.
In my youth on the farm I did some seriously bad things to more than a few cats trying to disprove this theory(cat's landings).

I was sucessful in those endeavors finally.

Tools were a hayloft and rope.

If they wouldn't hide what they do when we aren't watching(in the gravel in my driveway) then we wouldn't dislike them so, but they know if we saw them at it that we would certainly not be amused and seek revenge.

Personally I prefer Jack Russells for mouse control.Plus they don't try to hide when they are about their biz or scratch dirt over it so you get it on your back whilst crawling under the car/pickup/tractor/haybine/whatever.  

OK, I'll bite: why do you need to protect electronics from PERMANENT magnetic fields? If the field isn't changing, it isn't going to induce any potentials that would damage your electronics - is it?
Well, a constant magnetic field will exert a force on any electrons moving through it. For sure it will screw up the behavior of any vacuum tube devices, e.g. a CRT display. I wonder if even a solid state device would gett messed up - all the electrons will want to bunch up along one edge of the transistor, for example.
A simple steel housing over the electronics would shield a constant magnetic field. (The electrons in the surface of the metal re-arrange so as to cancel the magnetic field.) If the magnetic field is time-varying, then that would cause electro-magnetic (EM) radiation. Unless it was very strong, it probably wouldn't affect the electronics. There are ways to at least partially shield EM radiation anyway. The easiest is simply to move the electronics away from the source of the EM radiation.
A simple shield like that works fine for static electic fields - that's a "Faraday box". The electrons are moved by the electric field until their own fields cancel it out.

But it doesn't work for magnetic fields. If electrons are stationary, they won't feel any force at all from a magnetic field. Thus they won't respond in any way to cancel out the magnetic field. Shielding sensitive equipment from a static magnetic field is not so easy!

No, the constant magnetic field induces eddy currents in the surface of the metal. These eddy currents create magnetic fields which oppose and cancel the magnetic field of the magnet. A nickel-iron alloy called Mu-Metal is used for this purpose because it has high magnetic permeability. However, this will happen to some extent with any metallic shielding. I should have been more clear on this in my original post. Note that this only applies to constatn magnetic fields.
Eddy currents happen when a conductor moves through a constant magnetic field. They cause a drag on the conductor, like friction. This will happen with a non-magnetic conductor like aluminum. My brother worked with MRI equipment for a while. He says it's pretty strange to carry big pieces of aluminum around in a room with the MRI magnet turned on. There's resistance in moving the aluminum across the field lines, but not parallel to them.

You're right of course, mu-metal is used to shield constant magnetic fields, because of its permeability. But that has nothing to do with eddy currents. It must be electrons moving at some level, of course, but more down at the atomic level where the magnetism of the material comes from.

From "How Things Work" on Mu Metal:


"Mu metal attracts flux lines. It draws flux lines through itself so that if you were to wrap yourself in a layer of mu metal, any magnetic flux lines that would have gone through you (and thus exposed you to magnetic fields) will go through the mu metal instead. Mu metal and similar alloys are used routinely to shield objects that can't tolerate magnetic fields."

In other words the property of high magnetic permeability is what draws the magnetic field lines to the Mu Metal. Magnetic fields can be perfectly blocked using superconductor materials (the Meisner effect) due to induced currents which are a kind of "eddy current". However, you're right, the term eddy current is specifically used to describe what happens when metal moves in a magnetic field.
It's called the Hall Effect. Interestingly, the magnetic field will deflect "holes" traveling through the solid state device as well.
Yes, a constant magnetic field can cause a drift of charges in a semiconductor device but the effect tends be very small unless the magnetic field is very large. (Hall effect currents tend to be orders-of-magnitude smaller than normal currents in semiconductor devices.) Also, as I posted above, a constant magnetic field can be shielded against.
That is exactly how a hall device works, a semi-conductor. A constant current is applied in one plane and a voltage is measured in the plane perpendicular to the current flow. If no magnetic field is present the voltage is zero. If a magnetic field is present and it is perpendicular to the current flow a voltage is measured. The voltage is proportional to the magnetic field strength or the plane of the magnetic flux. If the field is flipped or the current is reversed the polarity of the voltage measured will have the opposite polarity. Shielding is very necessary for control and processing electronics in the presence of magnets used for magnetic resonance measurements. Also most small latching relays have small permanent magnets that are used for latching and a high magnetic field in their presence can upset their individual fields. Op-amps and fet's also fail to meet their spec's in the presence of high magnetic fields. Digital processing electronics can usually be moved out of the presence of high fields.
Not to be nasty because I understand that kind of fun, but ...
Are not such digressions likely to discourage casual readers of TOD as much as religious bickering?

Sorry to butt heads again, but my take would be no.  I've found the technical debate on magnetism to at least be passingly interesting, and when I get more time, I'd be inclined read about it further.

The nature of the Oil Drum to this viewer seems technically oriented which has an appeal.  If the conversation goes way over my head, I glaze my eyes over and move on, but if anything it gives me goals to go out and learn more about what is being said so that the next time its brought up, I can at least keep pace, and maybe even contribute.

Like teaching a kid the game of chess.  At first the kid is fighting a curve as you use various strategies to beat him, but pretty soon he is whooping your backside with your own strategies, or even better new and/or improvised ones.

Sometimes the way to grow in knowledge is to get in over your head, and then grow out of it.

Regarding the Scientific American issue for Sept. 2006 (Beyond Carbon: Our Energy Future --link to it is in the main post), I finally got through most of it and was disappointed. The "specialist" authors in each topic area (coal sequestration, nuclear, renewables) painted a somewhat cornucopian picture of the prospects that face "us". In terms of Global Warming, they devised a "Seven Wedges" Plan for the next 50 years on how to stop the upward spiraling concentration of atmospheric CO2. None of them adressed the Smithian economic system and why it will block us from getting to their civilization-saving dreams.
Thanks for the analysis, Step Back.

Funny how the cornucopianism filters out the need for very real change in our personal lives, in our culture of consumption, and in our childish magical belief in techo-religion.

I do think that calling our economic system "Smithian" is quite innacurate, though.  Adam Smith could not have foreseen today's economic system, which is more accurately called "corrupt crony corporatism" or simply "Fascism."

Whatever terms we use to describe the economic status quo, the need for accute responsiveness to the changes in our habitat is so obvious that it is tough to see how even corporatists can be blind to it.

I hope to see more accurate coverage of the resource depletion and global climate change issues, as well as population overshoot -- but I'm not holding my breath.

Adam Smith could not have foreseen today's economic system, which is more accurately called "corrupt crony corporatism"

My apologies to those who better understand what Adam Smith was striving for in his works. It is just that there is no word to describe our "Wealth of Tunnel Visions" system of governance. Each "speciality" focuses only on its own area of expertise. It can't see outside its own sand box.

When I called the Sci Am authors cornucopian, I was perhaps going over board. Each is a "specialist" in his own area of expertise, but none seemed to sense the global ebb and flow of our human governance systems and how those will impede all those wonderful Wedge Solutions that "we" as a species are supposed to undertake in order to halt the tsunami of ecological disasters and resource depletions that is heading our way.

I agree that Adam Smith could not have fairly foreseen the parasitic life forms (i.e., the "corrupt crony corporatism" and bigger yet, the state-run corporate enterprises) that mutated and took control over our non-negotiable way of living.

As for even the "corporatists" being blind to the need for accute responsiveness to the destruction of our habitat, that does not at all surprise me. Your/my sense of what is "habitat" is not the same as their sense of what constitutes habitat. Listen to their language. For them, "habitat" is low interest rates and abundant investment opportunities. It is all about reaping new fortunes of cash in coming years. The concepts of resource limitiations and population overload do not enter into the language and frameworks of their mental models.

The corporatists can no easier see Peak Oil, Global Warming or Collapse of Complex Civilization than can a fish see the water in which he swims. Their MBA-honed sensors are not equipped to detect these under currents. If GDP is forever growing and $ROI is meeting "expectations", then what more can one one wish for? The state of our civilization, as far as they are concerened, is great and growing ever greater.

I think you're wrong about Smith :-) -- he wrote wealth of nations in response to mercantilism -- the crony capitalism of the 1700s.

Smith was a rare thing  -- a classical liberal. Very, very few of those people around today in the US political system, and they are most definitely not found in the party of business (GOP).

But, you're take on why we seem so unable to confront these problems is spot on -- the system of incentives we as individuals face doesn't make it conducive for us to confront them as individuals. We're stuck in a collective prisoners' dilemma.


"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
That is a paraphrase of a discussion I had over the weekend with a bright engineering student (a college undergraduate). He is a genius, just like his father (not me, somebody much smarter). He's taking thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, etc. at a top top US university this year. Smart enough to know that all the electrical engineering work (EE) is going to be out-sourced from the USA and that is not the career path to pursue for an American engineering student.

But what then? Nuclear engineering? Biotech? Is that the future? He was not aware of PO although his genius father knows too well that I'm a PO freak. (Genius father does not accept the PO hypothesis BTW) I tried to point out to young Einstein that among his calculus formulations he should step out to a space borne view and consider that the Earth as a finite sphere. That struck home as a view he had never considered before. I asked him to devout his genius abilities to solving the world's big problems-- energy depletion, CO2 pollution. Said he would think about it.

Anyway, that is digressing from what I wanted to say: What do you want to be when you grow up? How do you answer that question for a young person considering a career path? What immediately comes to mind?

  1. doctor
  2. lawyer
  3. financial analyst
  4. engineer / scientist
  5. other "professional" speciality?

Do you see how you (we all) are pre-programmed to answer the question with a fixed set of answers? We can't think outside our own fish bowl --our self imposed box.

What should we be telling young people about the future? Are there words in our language for some of the "specialities" that will be needed in our near-future world of scarce and shrinking resources?

I thought on it a bit more after my conversation with young Einstein. If only I had advised him to become an "Energy and Materials Resource Allocation Specialist" (EMRAS) in his future career. That would be something outside the traditional box of electrical (EE), mechanical (ME) or chemical engineering (ChemE). Why didn't I have that ready as a talking point? Too bad.

Reminds me of a rare opportunity which I had earlier this summer.  I unexpectedly found myself one on one with a bright female chemical engineering student.  I spent the five minutes I had with her trying to explain PO to her and encourage her to consider some aspect of that as her career.  I walked away feeling like I had really dumped on her, something I don't do to other people, and felt sorry for her.  Am not sure what impression I left her with--a crazed person got ahold of her?  Perhaps early seeds were planted which will eventually germinate.  She knew nothing of the subject when I brought it up.
One of the more difficult aspects of connecting with the young is their sense of time. What is a "long time" for them?

20 years is a life time for them.

So tell them PO is coming within a decade or so and they think that it is a half a life time away. Why worry now? Besides, everything is progressing so rapidly now a days. The "Singularity" will surely arrive well before PO has a chance to breathe its tempest of doom upon us. Technology will save us. Complexity will save us. The race belongs to the young and swift.

My daughter is a bright chemistry major. I've been thinking of asking her to research an appropriate catalyst to crack veggie oil into a reasonable facsimile of gasoline.
If you are talking with my daughter your intentions better be honorable. :)
Since I, too, am a female, I can assure you that my intentions were honorable!!
If he wants to stay in EE - power electronics will still be needed.

If one thinks the mega corp will be dead or grow in power - that will pick what way to go.

If one feels the government controls "it all" via taxation and creating protected markets (thus making sure you make a profit) that will pick your choice.

If one wants to be their own boss with employees or work for someone else - that also influnces the choice.

What I want to be when I grow up?
  Heli-ski guide ! ! ! !

How old am I?

What is my degree?

What do I really do for a living?
Software for the electricity grid control room

And I'm gonna quit it all to ski full time. After all, I'm in the last generation that will know snowy winters. And helicopters sure as hell aren't gonna be used for skiing much longer. But as an energy industry insider, I can tell you that the grid is going down for sure. You have no idea how f*cked up it is here.

In wich region is the grid mismanaged and what are the main problems?
Hello Crazypat,

Since you are an insider--care to comment on Duncan's Olduvai Gorge Theory?

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

he says he is an insider... who truly knows?
I write software for train control systems, and would be very interested to know more about the sort of problems you see with the grid. Some that might be common is:

A) Systems were designed and programmed a long time ago by very smart people that are not around anymore,(since maintenance is not that interesting). You are not sure anymore exactly how and why it works.

b) You can't replace it from scratch - all you can do is keep on patching it, half expecting your patches to mess it up.

c) What else?

So ... like most pieces of specialist software from the 70s then? :)
I could not agree with you more... The more I read into how the grids work, how interdependant they are, and how loaded they get anymore... it's amazing they work at all.

At your age, I would advise you to follow your dream...

Crazypat and all you power grid insiders,
I don't remember there being much TOD comment on the story from a week ago "Feds Target Powergrid Congestion"

http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2006/08/10/news/regional/fe005aecf7056d3b872571c40001d7ae. txt

With thoughts that our best future course may be to increase electricity by way of wind and solar, and power more transportation on the grid, along with the limitations of declining fossil fuels, which would be the smartest way for us to be heading?  1-trying to regionalize our grid or, 2-work to improve our national grid as in the above article?  It seems to me, that we'd be better off regionalizing most aspects of our infrastructure in poweringdown, but I'm no grid expert like some of you.

In moderately bad scenarios for PO (Defcon 3?), I would guess that outsourcing might be more problematic than it is now. Outsource to where?

Probably the best thing to get from education now is resourcefulness.

There are plenty of geniuses right here. It doesn't take a genius to realize the solution is to power down. The infinite growth based on infinite energy has no solution. One solution is to drive small battery powered electric cars with a 40 mile range for the bulk of daily transportation. Suddenly the genius is labelled a pessimist and an idiot.
in the same vein karl marx has been completely miss-understood as well.
to get a good idea go watch the mark steel lecture about him.
To put it lightly he would be appalled at what people have done in the name of him and his book.
"To put it lightly he would be appalled at what people have done in the name of him and his book."

I think that is a constant with all great men in history. (Christ, Mohamed, Gandhi, The founding father of the USA )  We humans twist good ideas into horrific perversions.

yea as the old saying goes.
'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'
My reading of the "Scientific American" articles is that the authors are very very worried about lack of appropriate policy responses by government. Phrases such as "imperative and inevitable" are used in regard to government action, but the engineer/scientist authors do not brush aside the importance of appropriate actions on a large scale--and quickly--by governments.

My evaluation: The technologies are here; they work. In regard to governments, I cannot imagine effective global cooperation to attack successfully the problem of putting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This failure of imagination may be a personal failing due to age and nonuse of hallucinagenic drugs, however;-)

Sailor friend,
Fear not. Government help is on the way. Why just this morning President Bush endorsed ethanol as the way to diversify our economy away from total reliance on oil:

"We encourage consumption through different purchasing habits, like hybrid vehicles. We have encouraged the spread of ethanol, as an alternative to crude oil."

But if you think Bush is all alone on this, here is the Democratic "political" take & give on things:

One boy in the audience told [Senator] Feingold he is concerned about high gas prices and the senator responded: "We have to figure out a way not to use oil. Wisconsin has the best farmland in the world."

Feingold added that Wisconsin has the potential to make alternatives, ethanol and biodiesel fuel, with resources available in the state.

It's hard not to think of Jared Diamond's "Collapse".  The problem is in view and solutions are possible.  The weak link is the people.  

I was a member of a centrist political blog a while back, when Hillary suggested going back to a 55 mph speed limit.  I have never seen so many reasonable people go completely nuts.  They wanted to burn her at the stake.  At the same time howling about high gas prices.

Perhaps we should make a list of Great Ideas Dead on Arrival:
  1. 55 m.p.h. speed limit

  2. Gasoline tax gradually increasing to bring U.S. prices in line with those in Europe.

  3. "Feebates" on cars where big heavy monsters carry a hefty tax that is used to finance a substantial rebate of some thousands of dollars to encourage people to buy new cars that get better than 40 miles per gallon.

  4. Alan Drake's eminently logical proposals for moving people by rail and also electrifying railways. (This one may not be dead on arrival, but the movement is slow as molasses pours outdoors in January. People should be rioting in the streets in favor of implementation of Alan's ideas.)

  5. An end to zoning codes that prevent minihouses or mobile homes or people living on their boats when they are out of water.

O.K., now you folks fill in the next five.
I was in the US a few weeks back and I was frankly astonished that several states - eg Texas, were actually in the process of RAISING their speed limits.   There seemed no discussion on the effect on gasoline useage, absolutely none whatsoever !  ( 55 mph-80mpg, probably around a 35% increase in fuel burn.)

The level of disruption caused by high gas prices obviously has a long way to go before people start to join the dots !

Well, the official "motto" on Texas highways now (the ones you see on the signs every couple of miles) is "Don't slow Texas down." (It used to be "drive friendly" when I was a callow youth). I think what they really mean is "get the hell outta Texas' way."
It makes sense to encourage driving faster since gasoline taxes will be higher.  More cash in bank for TX.  That's the short term benefit to the gov't not to mention people will love it!
Electrifying rails isn't dead.  It is being considered at the largest RR last time I inquired.  It's not going to happen so long as the RR is footing the bill though, I do know that.
I was impressed by the seven wedges concept. It frames the topic energy use in terms that are easily understood by those without advanced technical skills.

The first two wedges are based on efficieny and conservation, the best place to start.

The articles clearly state the sense of urgency around FF consumption and GW.

In typical Scientific American fashion, the articles cover specific topics. You are correct that a lot of social, economic and technical issues are not addresses. I felt this most in the article by Jeffrey Sachs, one of my heros. On one page he lists the four ways to lower fertility. Great ideas, but implementation is not discussed.

For those who do not subscribe to Sci Am and don't undestand what we're talking about, look here

The Sci Am article on keeping Carbon in Check sets forth a bunch of time versus scale of implementation "wedges". They say we have 50 years (until year 2056) to get these in place or else we are toast.

Step back, I concur with your assessment of the SciAm articles. The article on transportation acknowledged the problem of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the United States vehicle fleet, then listed out some alternatives.
  • Improve or change vehicle technology
  • Change how we use our vehicles
  • Reduce the size of our vehicles
  • Use different fuels

Nowhere was the option of "reducing vehicle use," promoted. The article did not mention light rail. It did not hint that there is a connection between land use patterns and driving habits. Option 2 "change how we use our vehicles," obliquely gets at the concept of reducing vehicle use (without using the "R" word), but this option wasn't really discussed, execpt to note that VW is developing some kind of "urban" car that does better in city driving. Beyond that, Options 1 and 4 overlap a great deal.

The article is mostly a rehash of the same old cornucopian idea that we'll be able to continue our energy-hungry lifestyle with different fuels - complete with the requisite Armory Lovins quote.

The assertion by the author of the hydrogen article that hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles face 'fewer technical hurdles' than battery operated vehicles had my 'Huh!' meter maxing out. I seriously question the premises here. Disappointing is an understatement.

Nepal rolls back oil price rise after protests

KATHMANDU: Nepal's multi-party government reversed an increase in fuel prices on Sunday, bowing to angry protests that had paralysed the capital for two days, a minister said.  

Activists had torched dozens of vehicles, burned tyres, stopped traffic and forced businesses to close in the city following Friday's move to raise prices by up to 38 per cent.  

"We have withdrawn the increase in oil prices in view of the current situation," Physical Planning and Works Minister Gopal Man Shrestha said after an emergency cabinet meeting.  

Hello Leanan,

I wonder if the detrito-terrorists know that they are actually helping to reduce local future fuel demand by burning all those vehicles.  IMO, it would be better to go ahead with market-pricing and let them burn all the vehicles they want to quickly re-equilibrate the local supply-demand curve.  If they burn every vehicle in Nepal, fuel will then decline in price, but bicycles and shoe leather will get quite expensive.  Their choice.

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

Net Oil Exports Revisited: The No Down Payment Disaster and a Proposed Triage Plan

by Jeffrey J. Brown

Net Oil Exports Revisited

I've written several articles and posts based on "Khebab's" excellent technical work. This was my first article, posted in January, 2006, on The Oil Drum:

Hubbert Linearization Analysis of the Top Three Net Oil Exporters

My concluding statement from this article:  "It would seem from this case that these factors could interact this year produce to an unprecedented--and probably permanent--net oil export crisis."

I thought that it would be interesting to compare the decline since December in world crude + condensate production to the decline in production from the top 10 net oil exporters (based on the 2004 list of top exporters).

As of the May, 2006 EIA numbers, the world is down 1.3% since December, an annual decline rate of 3.1% per year, but the top 10 oil exporters are down 3.0%, an annual decline rate of 7.2%.

Note that consumption is growing quite rapidly in most of the exporting countries, and note that in most cases domestic consumption is satisfied before oil is exported. In the captioned article, I showed, using my "Export Land" model, how a 25% drop in oil production and a 20% increase in consumption (over a five year period) would lead to a 70% drop in net oil exports.

I estimate that net oil exports from the top exporters are probably down by 4% to 5% (over a five month period), an annual decline rate of as much as 12% per year, which suggests that exports from the top exporters are falling about three to four times faster than world oil production is falling

As I have been relentlessly pointing out, I think that we are looking at a series of bidding cycles for declining net oil export capacity, with the oil going to the high bidders and with the losers having to reduce consumption. Leanan, on The Oil Drum, has documented several case histories of poorer countries having to reduce consumption. Soon, the developed and rapidly developing countries will be bidding against each other, instead of bidding against regions like Africa.

However, we are beginning to see clear signs of stress here in the US, among poorer households and among financially overstitched homeowners. Consider some recent numbers from the 8/21/06 issue of Barron's.

"The No-Money-Down Disaster"
Lon Witter, Guest Column, 8/21/06 Barron's


    * 32.6% of new US mortgages and home equity loans in 2005 were interest only, up from 0.6% in 2000
    * 43% of first-time home buyers in 2005 put no money down
    * 15.2% of 2005 buyers owe at least 10% more than their home is worth
    * 10% of all home owners with mortgages have no equity in their homes
* $2.7 trillion dollars in loans will adjust to higher rates in 2006 and 2007

At the end of 2003, 1% of Washington Mutual's (WaMu's) option ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) loans were in negative amortization (the borrowers were borrowing more money each month, not even paying enough to pay the monthly interest charge in full). At the end of 2005, 47% of WaMu's option ARM's were in negative amortization (55% by value of the loans).

WaMu is booking these negative amortization payments as earnings. In prior times, loans where borrowers were making less than the interest payments would be classified as non-performing loans. In January-March, 2005, WaMu booked $25 million in earnings from negative amortization payments. In the same period in 2006, WaMu booked $203 million in earnings from these payments. These borrowers are increasing their mortgage balances as property values have started falling, so the default risk on these loans is extremely high.

Mr. Witter estimates that a simple revision to the mean suggests a 30% drop in residential property values in the US over the next three years. This is without considering in the effect of further increases in energy prices.

A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines:  http://www.energybulletin.net/14492.html

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website:  http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.15% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

Jeffrey J. Brown is an independent petroleum geologist in the Dallas, Texas area.
His e-mail address is westexas@aol.com

So the way to go is to abandon 80% of the current "suburbs" and rebuild along the current rail lines masses of 100sq ft "homes"?!?!?!

Come on!

In America we call a 10'x10' home a jail cell!!

This type of thinking is completely ludicrous.  It will not sell.  Period.  End of story.

There's no way it's more economical to replace all of that suburban housing then it is to add new light rail lines, and upgrade the fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Not only that, the 10x10 homes don't have bathrooms.  I can't see the average American going for that.

Far more likely: we'll cram more people into the homes that currently exist in cities or along train lines.  

My grandparents raised six children in a three-bedroom house they built themselves.  Their only daughter slept on the floor in the hallway.

But they did have a indoor bathroom.

There's no doubt in my mind that two people don't need a 3500 square foot house.

I think a well designed 800-1000 square feet home can be perfect for a couple.  An outdoor space that can be used in nice weather is essential too.

Older larger homes will probably become family centers - where several generations live together.

In Boston, the trend to smaller living is in full force.  Developers routinely split buildings into a number of smaller units.  The absolute low end of this seems to be about 300 sq ft which can work for a single person in the city.


My wife, stepson and I are comfortable in our 950 SF home. We do also have a full, though low-headroom, basement and a small shed outside.

My stepson and his girlfriend have been looking into apartments. He can't see the logic in throwing away $1,000/month on rent and utilities, so we've been discussing expanding our house upwards.

From the local paper:

Wind farms not good deal

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's claim that industrial wind farms have a huge upside is false. Industrial wind farms' upside is the production of puny amounts of expensive unreliable electricity.

As a matter of fact, 500 miles of ridgeline would have to be converted to industrial wind plants to provide just 10 percent of Pennsylvania's energy needs. The downsides are windfarms' requirement for massive taxpayer subsidies, their unreliability, radio and television disruption, strobe effects, shadow flicker, adverse impact to wildlife and forests, constant noise, aesthetic degradation and property devaluation.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., sums it up nicely: ``At a time when America needs large amounts of low-cost reliable power, wind produces puny amounts of high-cost unreliable power.''


Same ol, same ol.  Yes to smokestacks, No to wind turbines.

Pennsylvania may not be a good place for wind power. Much of the east is not good class 4 or 5 wind areas. This doesn't mean other places aren't good for wind power. Lake Michigan has 10,000 sq miles of class 5 wind resource that would cut the amount of coal burnt considerably. Burning less coal is a political no go in Pennsylvania.
"Not only that, the 10x10 homes don't have bathrooms.  I can't see the average American going for that."

Actually, the home profiled on the CBS segment had a bathroom/shower.  The "bedroom" was in the attic, so the effective square footage probably did not include the "upstairs" bedroom.

In any case, as Jim Kunstler has said, changed circumstances are going to compel Americans to change the way they live, whether they like SUV's and McMansions or not.  

IMO, American are beginning to realize that "Cheap is the new chic."  I predict that conspicuous consumption is increasingly going to be seen as stupid and as socially unacceptable.   I predict an increasing stampede from rapidly depreciating McMansions.

I agree that we live in wastefully large buildings. But the energy required to create millions of 1000 sf homes in different locations is going to far exceed the energy to retrofit and use what we have.
To some extent, I am going for shock effect--to get people to start thinking outside the "McMansion Box."  

However, the key point is that anything bigger than the minimum square footage necessary for every day activities is a "want" and not a "need."  

Think of all the people that live in very small living spaces for months at at time in sailboats.

Curious that no one had any comment on the oil export numbers.  Rapidly declining oil exports are going to kill off the suburbs faster than anything else.

Curious that no one had any comment on the oil export numbers.

Silence speaks louder.  I think very few here will argue declining exports.  It's simple logic really.

RE: Declining Exports

The only thing I would argue is that at some point the "available oil" will become so valuable they won't be available for export at any price.  Probably sooner rather then later.

Do you supply the enemy with the weapons to destroy you?

The 1% doctrine Kuwait is talking about sounds pretty smart to me - assuming you can defend your borders.  Kuwait has already proven that it can't so I doubt you'll see that policy actually come to fruition.

Thus is why their SILENCE speaks volumes.
What's the typical sq ft per person number for people living in trailers?

There's already a sizeable constituency there for decent 100 sq ft housing with rational transport options. People who currently drive long distances in old inefficient cars to low-paid jobs, i.e. who have very short-term sustainability problems with rising gas prices.

Add in a growing army of mortgage defaulters. I think you're on the right track.

But the critics are right too : it's un-american, and not negotiable.

Regarding no one commenting on export numbers...trust me, we read your posts, study them, and look forward to your updates.  These declines are impressive.  Thankyou, as always.
As for the tiny houses--I have been aware of these small houses for some time.  They advertise some of them in the back of Dwell magazine, which promotes prefab homes.  I, too, have considered how they may have a future in a powerdown.  If people go back to organic farming on small tracts of land, I picture something similar popping up all over pieces of land, say one house to 4 acres or so.  They'd be particularly perfect for single persons.  I believe they can be marketed as prefabs because the cost of shipping them is relatively low since they are so small.  Yet, building them locally according to local energy needs would probably make the most sense.  We may have an explosion of locally built small straw bale houses.  They are extremely energy efficient and look like cute European cottages.

TLS- Am quite looking forward to the post you mentioned last month about Jay Hanson's visit. Any sense on when it'll appear on the site?
Some do have bathrooms, but from what I could tell, looking at the plans on their Web site, all of those are larger than 10 x 10.

The ones that are 10x10 and smaller need outhouses.

A couple of years ago, the County here changed the zoning codes to forbid building any inhabitable dwelling of less than 750 square feet.

It seems they're still banking on demanding a 'park-like atmosphere' of cardboard McMansions as the wave of the future.

That's because they need the property tax
revenue from McMansions rather than from
folks trying to live in 100 sq feet ..

Gotta pay the pensions of all those retired
civil servants ..

Triff ..

Worse yet, here in DeKalb County GA (one of the two urban counties in the Atlanta area), code requires 1200 sf.  I live in a cohousing community of townhouses built starting in 1999, and this negatively impacted the affordability of our units.  Most cohousing communities have significantly smaller dwellings.  
Hello Capslock,

This is unfortunate--just more of the infinite growth paradigm.  Consider how many McMansions have walk-in closets with more aggregate sq. footage than these tumbleweed houses.  Years ago in Phx, they offered a public tour of a local monster-mansion: the master closet was so BIG that they installed a commercial dry-cleaning mechanized clothes rack!  The owner sits down and spools up the desired suit, dress, shoes, etc.

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

Huh???  How do you conclude that banning new strucures under 750 ft2 is "demanding a 'park-like atmosphere' of cardboard McMansions"?  There's a hell of a difference between 750 ft2 and a McMansion.
If I read it right, it's 750 sq ft per person. Is that correct?
And, or course, they plan on the usual couple plus one kid in the house, to yield a minimum house size of 2250 sq ft.
Those negative amortized loans being booked as earnings now will still cause a net loss to WaMu.  When they truly become "non performing" & thus not paying, WaMu will charge these off as a loss and in a year the bleeding will begin in earnest.  Booking it now may be a small hedge against inflation since those losses in the future will actually cost less in real terms.  Does anyone get surprised by this?  

A classic tenet of reward is risk.  Risk seems to have disappered from the vernacular.  Hedge funds specialize in risk and they now control over $2T in "debt based assets."  The house is shifting in the wind.

Jeff, I respect your work immensely, but 100 sg ft house? That's a bit insane. Like the others here, I agree that what we'll see is more people living together in larger houses and people abandoning the McMansions. And others living in (relatively) small houses with their kids. I grew up with two brothers and both parents in a series of houses that were no more than 1000 sq ft, and that worked out fine. My current house is about the same size and it is perfect for me and my animals. If I ever get anything bigger, it will be after I'm married and have kids, and then it will be an old Colonial where we can hopefully do the Waldens thing -nothing like several generations together under one roof!

FYI, I discovered last night and this morning when I was catching up on local news that the flight from the outer suburbs here as all ready started. Over the past couple of months, property values there have tanked and foreclosure rates have shot up. Home prices in the desirable areas of town have increased significantly as those folks try to move back in.

On the brighter side... there's opportunity. My side yard can fit 8 of these mini-houses nicely. Two rows of 4 with a vehicle sized central access path. And, as luck would have it, I'm downtown adjacent to a big University. This could be high-end student housing.

Let the infill begin!

"Let the infill begin!"

I agree.

It is imperative that we differentiate between what we want and what we need.   As I said up the thread, think of all the people that spend months, sometimes years, in sailboats.  Think of paying cash for a very small, energy efficient housing unit, close to a mass transit line.

"Wants" are going bye-bye.  

Even on The Oil Drum, I think that most people are still in denial regarding the effects of a rapid decline in net oil exports.  What is going to reverse the trend, when all four of the world's largest producing fields are almost certainly declining?

As I have said about a thousand times regarding my ELP recommendations, if I am wrong, you will have less debt, more money in the bank and a lower stress way of life.

I'm with you.  Every month I go around my apartment and identify something that I don't need.  I got my wife into this too. We live in an 800 sq ft place in a big city, and we don't think we need nearly that much space.  500sq ft would do. I can walk to work.

Even though I read peak oil sites like TOD, I can't even say that our lifestyle change is necessarily even related to the more pessimistic oil depletion scenarios that may lie ahead.  

In that way, I am probably an example of the denial that you note.

But put simply, it's just great to live a simpler, less consumptive lifestyle.   The more things you own, the more they own you.  

And financially we're in good shape because we spend only a fraction of the money we make.  The housing bubble has also meant that owners are in effect subsidizing us to live where we do (rent has not even kept up with inflation over the last five years, meaning the real cost of renting our place has been declining during that entire time).

Even if Yergin et al. are right (are you kidding) and peak does not occur for 25 years and turns out to be a gentle "undulation", less consumption is still a great lifestyle.  At this rate, we'll be able to live on the interest of our savings in 15 years.  (And no, those savings are not parked in a bank earning USD.)

And if the pessimists are right (much more likely), we'll have an easier time weathering the turbulence, because we are already accoustomed to having much, much less.  

Almost nothing in life is a win-win. But this one is.

But thing I will say, is that lifestyle change, even a voluntary one like ours/the one you advocate, westexas, takes time.  It was hard giving up old things (even useless old things!!) and old habits.  We're still not where we want to be on consumption.  It's really been a war to change my habits.  A fulfilling thing, but still difficult, I hate to admit.  

I fear that the only thing that will truly force the necessary changes will be higher prices.  But, on second thought, maybe that's nothing to fear. . .

Ltrain:  "But put simply, it's just great to live a simpler, less consumptive lifestyle.   The more things you own, the more they own you."

I nominate your post as the "Post of the Month."  (No such thing, but sounds good anyway.)

Out of curiousity, where is your savings parked?
I'm not sure you want advice from me!  I make no claim to being a particularly wise investor.  I'm upbeat about my long-term financial future much more because of the sheer rate of savings in relation to my income than from the performance of my investment choices.  

Basically, I'm in the Jim Rogers camp.  We've started to put a good amount of money into commodity ETFs like DBC, GSG, and a little USO.  Those are volatile short-term, but we don't care.  I believe that these can perform decently while also being good inflation hedges.  

I worry a lot about stocks, but we've got some money in Canada, China, and some emerging markets.  I think that some developing countries will do ok amongst steadily rising oil costs (Vietnam comes to mind, though investing there is not yet easy, and some sectors in those countries will get hosed).  We also own a few energy stocks, though none of Big Oil, and all of the major railroads in North America. We have a few alternative energy stocks. (We've done well with MEMC, if you want to call it "alternative energy")  But I think a lot of that stuff is risky, and I don't know what I'm doing enough to toss a lot of money there.  We also have a little gold and silver.

A fellow Brooklynite, I suspect.

I spend a lot of time pondering how NYC will/would be affected by an oil peak. I own a place and worry about propery values a bit. But it's heartening (at least for my personal situation) to see that previous post -- that while property values are falling in far-flung 'burbs, they are still rising in choice locations. Assuming the social fabric doesnt disintegrate, B'lyn is good place to be, I think.

Did anyone see that New Yorker story a year ago, that New York City is the most energy-efficient locale in the USA? Stacked boxes and public transport (like the L), after all.

IO wonder what the correlation is between city energy efficienty vs population density. The higher the per capita population I wonder if that almost forces higher energy efficiency.  Would explain the whole NYC "surprise."
Actually, Chicago. . . I love visiting NYC, but am a midwesterner at heart.  

I too think that dense urban locations will do well.  But maybe that's my own hope.  Random thought:  Does anyone think that location could become the substitute for the size of one's home, in terms of status symbols?  In other words, instead of a 10,000 sq ft McMansion, one's address would become the new status symbol?  

Maybe that's wishful thinking. It seems like almost-uselessness will always be a status symbol. . . e.g., a car that can go 0-60mph in 4 seconds, or houses with twice as many 10x10 bathrooms as regular occupants, or big phat diamonds. . .

Ah, the elevated -- not the L which runs across 14th St to Williamsberg in Brooklyn.

Excellent post, in any case. It wouldn't surprise me if property values in densely populated cities do very well.

On the other hand, 1 br apts have been going for 900k recently in neighborhoods like the upper west side. Hard to think that's sustainable post-peak.


How big is your house?

"How big is your house?"

The smallest that my wife will let me get away with.  

I have a theory.  A house represents a compromise--between a male, who wants something 50% smaller, and the female, who wants something 50% bigger.

I want to sell and rent an apartment in a New Urbanism community--a Kunstler Kommune.  My spouse does not want to rent.  She would buy a townhouse, but the square foot costs are huge (I don't want to buy).  So we are staying put for now.   We are pretty close in, so I don't anticipate a big drop in property values, but we shall see.  

In any case, I have a sneaking suspicion and I am not popular with a lot of wives and teenagers right now.  

Amen.  I would be happy in a trailer on about 5 acres, a cow, some chickens, and an internet connection, but I would have to say goodbye to my wife and son.  
OTOH, you might be better off converting that space to a garden.

Food could become much harder to come by than housing.

Would if I could. But it's on the north side of the property, shaded by the house and by perimeter trees. Not much sun in summer because of trees, none in winter because of house.

OTOH, our community has 14 or 15 public gardens. I've got 25'x 40' <g> about 2 miles from the house (10 minutes by bike).


What is going to be better than suburbia? Let's warp into the future and place NG at $30 and gasoline at $8. Where is the sanctuary? I think alot of suburbia bashing is founded on flawed assumptions. There are many desperate actions which will take the energy use out of suburbia. Carpooling, downsized cars, turning off lights, turning back thermostats, backyard gardens, renting out spare room. I think the quality of life will be inversely proportional to population density. I see unemployment as a major problem. High population density will equal crime by the masses of unemployed. People may actually move out to suburbia to escape the mess. Sprawl may be a benefit. There will be so many mortgage defaults that the banks will be forced to renegotiate the mortgages. The banks will not want to foreclose on so many houses they won't be able to sell them.
For those preferring the metric system, 10feet = roughly 3 metres.
10feet^2 = roughly 9 square metres.
From the Washington Post:

In porous border, GOP sees an opening

I'm reminded of Jared Diamond's comments on "overcrowded lifeboats":

At the Bakers Dozen donut shop in Sierra Vista, Sally Hawk of Huachuca City held her tongue as her husband, Jim, fretted over a Republican Party in control of the House, Senate and White House but "doing nothing." Then, when talk turned to the illegal immigrants flowing over the border, she chimed in hesitantly: "I think they ought to shoot them. I don't have anything against Mexicans. I just want them here legally."
The "A new argument on oil drilling in Alaska" article is nice to see, but is hardly a new argument.  Those who advocate independence on foreign energy through an increased domestic drilling and mining approach are advocating a "Deplete America First" strategy or "DAF".  

There is certainly a lot of redundancy around, but I don't think one can really repeat oneself often enough on this issue.

For those who have a longer attention span, I suggest reading Cleveland and Kaufmann's article entitled Why the Bush Oil (Energy) Policy will fail. [pdf file].

I haven't seen the  deflation/inflation scenarios argued in the last 5 minutes so I'll post this article.

Over the past year, consumer price inflation has clocked in at 4.15%. Producer price inflation (finished goods) has been a similar 4.12%. But if you look at intermediate goods, we're currently at an inflation rate of 8.83%. That's the most abrupt widening in the spread between intermediate and finished goods since the 1973-74 oil crisis. Moreover, if we look at points in history when prices for intermediate goods have outpaced prices for finished goods over a 6-month period, we've also seen, on average, an acceleration in the PPI finished goods inflation rate over the following 6 months.



I've been saying double the CPI announced and you'll get the real number.  It's a good layman's way to find out the truth.  When you've got all the coal miners telling you there's no smoke, you know sumthin aint right.
 You may be right Tate.
  Add to the mix that China is getting uncomfortable holding such large foreign currency reserves. Ponder what happens to the value of the US$ and how inflation may run if China starts trading their currency reserves for commodities in earnest.
From Forbes:
"China has a problem that seems enviable: It's sitting on a mountain of cash. It has amassed nearly $1 trillion in foreign currencies in just a few years by becoming the exporter of choice for all kinds of manufactured goods, which it produces at a far lower cost than would be possible in more developed economies."


Here's the thing about the currency crunch.  I have a hard problem believing that any country would upset the apple cart.  The reality is the USD is the reserve currency and we are allowed to devalue it as we see fit according to all those countries who continue to buy our debt.  Who wants to upset the current money making game?  As of now, no one.  The only country starting this trend to walk away from the dollar would be CHINA.  

I think the deconstruction of the dollar would happen QUICKLY though.  Once one country ACTS and dumps dollars en mass, the world would follow as those holding seek to minimize losses.  Who wants to be left holding the bag?  It's going to be us, but if the dollar were truly to be "dumped" en mass, I would think our leaders would KNOW the totally f-cked nature of the US financial position and say ok bitches, we declare bankruptcy anyway!  

Think about it, the ramifications of losing the dollar as reserve currency may as well mean it no longer exists b/c if people leave it, we got nothin, so what's to lose by declaring bankruptcy once we've reached that point?  I kinda like the whole fresh start part of it.

Doesn't that mean I can declare bankruptcy too? That would be kind of cool...
Wonder what it would mean for internal US politics and the leadership for the worlds most powerfull military? It could be quite bad for the rest of the world if you get a less wise administration then the one you have now.
Anyone have any ideas who's running in 2 yrs anyway besides Hillary?
Hello tate423,

Condi Rice vs Hillary in 2008--overall elite goal is to radically polarize the country: like AMLO vs Calderon in Mexico is doing now. My two cents.

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

The way things are going, one has to wonder about the sanity of anyone who wants to succeed Bush.  

I think that Bush is just hoping to run the clock out to January, 2009 without World War III, and/or something like the Great Depression II breaking out.   I don't think he is going to make it.

BTW, if you haven't read "Fiasco," it's a good book.  The latest issue of Foreign Policy Magazine makes many of the same points.  It's bad enough that the Neocons have neofascist tendencies; our problem is that we have largely incompetent neofascists.


The inability of Rumsfeld, Cheney & Co. to learn from mistakes is something out of a book on abnormal psychology. To see similar instances of egregiously stupid groupthink, one has to go back to the days of Robert Strange McNamara and the claque around LBJ.

Pehaps being involved in a losing quagmire type of war simply shuts down major portions of the brain--some kind of physiological/chemical response to maintain self-esteem in the face of prolonged abject and tragic failures.

Bush thought he had surrounded himself with smart people who would tell him the correct things to do. Oddly enough, I think Bush knows that he is not the smart one in the family, but he thinks he can recognize character and intelligence in others. Alas, he is quite wrong about this--and lacks the courage to admit mistakes and to fire his claque.

"I think that Bush is just hoping to run the clock out to January, 2009 without World War III "

I think you underestimate how insane he is.  The rumor mill at work says he is chomping at the bit to go into Iran.  An the Iranians are nuts enough to give him an excuse.  Isn't August 22 the mystically significant day where Iran is going to reply to the European nuclear proposal?


I bet an uncle last night 1/4 oz of gold that we'll be at war with Iran and Syria.  I still believe that the Israel / Lebanon clash isn't over yet... That will likely be the catalyst, but hey I'm just a dumb American... what do I know?

Any other takers on my bet?  :-)

Running out the clock would require a calm energy/currency market, which is highly unlikely.

  • The housing market collapse and the subsequent foreclosure boom and construction job losses won't wait till 2009.
  • A 30% drop (or more) in house values, with a zillion people who have used the equity of their proporties to borrow ever more, is a social disaster. As Witter says in Barron's: "And when the housing-finance system goes, the rest of the economy will go with it. "
  • The deficits, federal, consumer, you name them, are not just at record levels, they rise at record levels as well, exponentially. The pressure to keep the -international- dollar value as insanely high as it is now, with regards to the debt levels, will have to give in. ICongress calls on China to de-link the dollar and the yuan, though that would likely make the dollar implode.
  • When the dollar plunges, everything that is imported, including oil, will go up in price, a lot, within an economy that is barely breathing. If your cost of living goes up 30% at the same time that your house loses 30% of its value and your mortgage payments also rise 30%, you may well have a bit of a problem.
you make a great point about the link between oil prices and dollar depreciation, but you also made me think about that in a sort of feedback mechanism.  If the petrodollar stands, and I hardly think it won't, then the daily demand for dollars will always create a defacto, ever increasing demand on dollar bills.  How does the dollar fall when you've got the world in need of your dollars for oil & the remaining oil is ever increasing in price?  Maybe I need more thought on this one.

As I said if China dumps the dollar then all bets seem off, but if things happen "on the margins" people just adjust expectations and stare in disbelief that it can continue.

i have been thinking it over for awhile taking into account the increased powers this administration has been illegally accumulating, and the fact that these powers are worded in such a manner as to not expire after these guys leave which brings me to three possibility's.

  1. they actually believe their crappy view is what America should look like in which case they leave happy thinking they have set things right and don't care anymore.

  2. they don't plan on giving up power in two years.

  3. they plan on having someone else they can control in office in two years(jeb bush and/or conny rice? anyone?)

also taking into account the 'noble lie' concept and a little understanding on the neo-conservative philosophy i have to say from the most likely to the least it's
50% #3, 40% #2, and 10% #1.
Long lists ... Hagel, Gingrich, Tankredo, Allen, McCain, etc. etc. ...

Kerry, Clinton, Wes Clark, Edwards, Richardson, Feingold, etc. etc. ...

I'm a Wes Clark guy, myself ...

IDM.  It don't matter.  Not that it has ever been much different in the US, but both candidates put on a good show, then, regardless of who gets in, the industrialists tell them what to do and how.  Same as it ever was.  Same as it ever was.  Want change?  Change the system not the players...
This is not an incompetent administration when you consider the core beliefs of the GOP. Most important is their efforts to take money from everyone else and give it to the super rich. At this they have been more successful than any administration in history. The war in Iraq sends the message to every country in the world the damage we can do. Fear of America's military is the core of the GOP's foreign policy. They want the American people to fear the federal government as shown by the unconstitutional acts under the guise of the so called War on Terror. If Americans lose their trust in the feds to come to their aid then a whole slew of programs can be totally eliminated including Social Security, the minimum wage, food and drug quality assurance, FEMA, environmental protections, etc. Dubya and company are far from incompetent and its low approval rating is a result of these successes. Approval isn't needed for the GOP election strategy of smear attacks on the Dems to work. If the GOP doesn't lose control of Congress this fall it will show how effective their entire plan is.

Might not be a country, it could be a non-state actor, such as a George Soros or some large banking cartel. Hell, such an agent might not even do it intentionally.

cfm in Gray, ME

The only country starting this trend to walk away from the dollar would be CHINA.

This has been discussed in another thread.

My apologies....I tend to unplug on the weekends.
Peak Kibbles!


Bruce from Chicago (soon in Toledo Illinois)

Fortune's not worried...

What pipeline problem?

Lost in the fallout from BP's shut-down at Prudhoe Bay is the fact that the system is getting better, and oil supplies are growing, says Fortune's Jon Birger.

But Matt Simmons has harsh words for BP:

Veteran energy banker Matthew Simmons thinks corporate soul-searching is in order. "What created the unbelievable aura of [BP chief executive] Lord John Browne of Madingly? He was the best cost cutter in the industry," Simmons asks, and answers.

"The whole culture at BP has made it a ruthless place to work, which is why I suspect you're going to see a lot more internal people speak out."

How the hell can Matt say that? The man is The Lord Browne of Madingley now!
One common view of business makes a sharp distinction between making money and doing good in society. This is a "limited and distorted" perspective, according to John Browne. Business that focuses just on money doesn't invest in the future -- in its employees, new ideas, markets or products -- and won't be around for long. Any successful business is part of society, says Browne, "and exists to meet society's needs."

Lord of Cheaping It Out

not to beat a dead horse, but:
BP Plc's shutdown of the largest U.S. oil field may be the first of many, as decaying pipelines threaten to add 20 percent to energy prices in the next decade.

This is a prime example of net energy. The Bloomberg article linked up top had numerous mentions of how much it will cost to provide adequate maintenance on a large and intricate oil infrastructure that is getting older. This all will take energy as well as dollars. Where will this energy come from? Via higher prices it will be taken away from other sectors of the world economy, leaving less of the oil coming through the repaired pipeline for non-energy endeavors.

German approach might energize solar industry
Applied Materials enters market with acquisition in July

United Kingdom: Farmers to 'plant' mini wind turbines

SHANGHAI - China's Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. said on Friday it expects rising prices for solar power cells will start to decline as soon as next year, fuelling demand for solar energy.


WSJ throws a hail Mary:

A nearly 8% decline in crude-oil prices in the past two weeks, and the market's flirtation Friday with prices below $70 a barrel, is reigniting a debate: Is there an oil-price bubble, and could it burst?

The answer will go a way toward setting the tone for broader financial markets and the economy. High oil prices have affected everything from consumer spending, to the stock and bond markets, to interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve to curb inflation.

If oil continues to slide even as international tensions flare, "it is going to be much more difficult to argue that crude oil remains a bull market and that all dips are buying opportunities," says Tim Evans, a futures analyst with Citigroup Inc.

Hah, the financial boys, and they are almost all boys, have gone from Alan Greenspan pontificating two years ago how unlike the 70s oil price rises have limited impact on our "new economy" to today recognizing that go-go growth can't be sustained at $70 barrel. So now we get the Journal trying to talk the price down.

Well if you have a sick sense of humor, this all infinitely entertaining.

it's funny how they think oil is like a stock market pre-Y2k.

"Cmon, BURST dammit!  I need to fuel up all my limos STAT!"

Good grief, ethanol made it to a survival site today:


The implied answer is cellulosic ethanol.

Great quote in the ASPO Review in an article by Simmons and Udall on CREA's forecast. In referring to the IEA, EIA and CREA's forecast they call them "Petro-Prozac".

You have to go the ASPO USA website and The Review section to subscribe for free.


I am in the process of registering for the  ASPO USA Oct. conference in Boston. Figure I can take Amtrak from Phila.

Just heard on CNBC!

I just heard something that sounded very strange on CNBC. Oil closed up $1.31 at $72.45 for the September contract which expires tomorrow. But the reason the NYMEX correspondent said was Iraq which will continue to enrich uranium, and news from BP that its Texas City Refinery will not meet its expected import quota.

Now what the hell does that mean? Anyone? Anyone? Bhuler? Anyone? At any rate I thinks this BP news came in about five minutes before the close. Because that's when the price of oil suddenly jumped by about sixty cents.

Hello Darwinian,

My guess is they are short because the crude has to be sent to California instead because of the Prudhoe shutdown.

A BP spokesman declined to discuss refinery operations,
 citing company policy against doing so.

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

I don't know but I don't think so. The shutdown has been less than expected so far, only a very small percentage of CA oil comes from Prudoe Bay, and California inventories are running high right now.
McDonald's is not satisfied with their contribution to the American diet.  Now, in an interesting cooperative marketing strategy, they're promoting Hummers.  After all, our kids will need supersized vehicles to move their lard-asses around town.

From the Environmental Working Group newsletter...

This month McDonald's is giving away toy Hummers -- 42 million of them, in eight models and colors -- with every Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal. That's right: The fast-food chain that helped make our kids the fattest on Earth is now selling future car buyers on the fun of driving a supersized, smog-spewing, gas-guzzling SUV originally built for the military.

See what google thought I typed into it's search box! Even they're wise to the scheme!

Iraq? Iran? Who cares!

I was wondering what gaga zionist Bernard Lewis would say today when Iran failed to attack his favourite country with a nuclear weapon.
Probably that it really happened but in a spiritual sense.
Hello TODers,

Could this be the start of the Mexican revolution? Here is another link for another press perspective.
OAXACA, Mexico - The picturesque colonial city of Oaxaca sank further into chaos on Monday as protesters armed with machetes, pipes and clubs seized 12 private radio stations, cut off highways, and blockaded bus terminals and newspaper offices.

The smell of uncollected garbage and tires burning at barricades hung over the city, a popular tourist destination, and some businesses ran short of water after demonstrators refused to allow water trucks into central Oaxaca.

About 3,000 leftists and striking teachers wielding machetes and clubs marched through the city, demanding punishment for an early morning assault in which unidentified gunmen shot up a state-owned radio station that has been occupied since Aug. 1.

Also Monday, the demonstrators - a mix of striking teachers trade unionists and leftists - cut off all the main avenues in Oaxaca's center, burned several vehicles and blockaded the offices of two newspapers, two bus companies and a television station.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

The Chiapas election is too close too call--expect more protests--this time from the far right!  Don't forget there are 60,000 armed Federales nearby.

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