DrumBeat: August 25, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/25/06 at 9:21 AM EDT]

Oil jumps on U.S. Gulf storm threat

As CNN noted this morning, the models on this one are unusually congruent. Not the typical mess of spaghetti:

TheStormTrack thinks this one could be nasty - worse than the NHC is currently predicting.

USDA-DOE Announce Additional Key Note Speakers for Review: Matt Simmons is on the list.

Additional keynote speakers have been confirmed for Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance. This conference is co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and is designed to create partnerships and strategies that will accelerate commercialization of renewable energy industries and distribution systems, the crux of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative. Advancing Renewable Energy, is scheduled to take place October 10-12, 2006, at the America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Biofuels may strain U.N. goals of ending hunger

Venezuela's Chavez plans to more than triple oil exports to China

Arab region's gas demand growth overtakes oil

South American Gas Pipeline Project on Hold, Petrobras Says

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, said plans to build a $20 billion natural gas pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina are on hold because of an impasse between Brazil and Bolivia over energy prices.

Mexico's PEMEX Restarts Development of Mature Fields

Russia spins global energy spider's web

Geostrategic oil interests and the Gulf

Oil firms 'hushing up' crisis of corroding pipelines

World can absorb oil rises, bank chief says

Six Steps to Beating Global Warming

Coal Gasification Archive Goes Online

Analysis: The death of oil?

Is $5 Per Gallon Gasoline Enough?

DOE predicts gasoline shortages

Here we go again. Oh well. Sigh.

At least I got the first comment. ;)

Anyone know if this is projected to be a really massive storm, width-wise, like some of the monsters last year?
I think it's too early to tell. The Weather Channel is predicting it will be a tropical storm later today and a hurricane threatening the gulf by early next week. It will probably turn northward as it enters the GOM, as usual. There is will encounter very warm water and could become a massive storm, or could remain compact.

Right now it's too early to say if it will even make landfall -though the smart money says it will. But the question is where, and right now the tracks show anywhere but northeast Mexico to the Florida.

Yup, too early.  But TheStormTrack thinks this one will intensify quickly, because of the warm water in the Gulf.  They're predicting it will be Hurricane Ernesto by Saturday night.
I know things change, but the guy I heard this morning emphasised the "it's a big if this thing stays together" side of the equation.  Citing dry air and lots of shear ahead of the storm on it's current track.

We'll see.  

Oil companies are preparing to evacuate.

BP PLC, which is responsible for 2,500 employees and contractors working on offshore rigs and platforms, has in-house meteorologists tracking the storm and has begun assessing the amount of time it would take to evacuate various facilities.

BP spokesman Hugh Depland said one of the key factors behind any decisions about when to evacuate employees is whether the winds are light enough for helicopters to land on offshore rigs and platforms. "Helicopters that we have historically flown, they don't like to shut down if the wind is above 60 knots," Depland said.

It's official: Tropical Depression 5 is now Tropical Storm Ernesto.

The StormTrack is predicting that it will become a hurricane, and will have a track something like Dennis.  (Thunder Horse, beware!)

You know, everyone's saying that this season is such a lessened threat than last year, but the fact of the matter is you only need one really BAD hurricane to screw things up for awhile.

I think if anything, Global Warming has made weather prediction much more difficult because we are seeing new patterns all the time....an increase in anomalies (droughts, warm where it should be cold and vice versa, etc.)  

Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see a hurricane that formed in the Gulf and just sat there spinning around for a few days without moving anywhere...kinda like the Great Eye on Jupiter.

Assuming it does. What's the deal with insurance companies. Can they even afford another one.
I'm sure they'll be all right.   They've been dumping the high-risk customers for awhile now.

Risky Business

With $58 billion in claims to pay for last year alone, U.S. insurers are jacking rates, canceling policies, and learning to cope with climate change.

...In 18 states, from southern Texas to the northern tip of Maine, insurance companies are scrambling to reduce the risk of major hurricane-related payouts. The upshot: For the 43% of the U.S. population who live and do business in these states, rates are likely to rise between 20% and 100% over the next year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. (In the rest of the country, premiums are expected to rise about 4%.)

The insurance industry does not officially believe in global warming, but they do accept that the climate is changing.

A changing climate shakes the industry

Says Allstate CEO Edward Liddy: "We are in a period of increased land and sea surface temperatures. When you couple that with more people living along coasts and dramatically increased home values in those areas, that's when you step back and you say, 'Wait a minute. This is not yesterday's game.' "

Publicly, insurers have not accepted the theory of global warming, which says that the accumulation of greenhouse gases - in part because of activities like burning fossil fuels - is changing weather patterns. What the industry does believe is that, for whatever reason, weather isn't what it used to be.



Exclusive: Whistleblowers Say State Farm Shredded Documents to Avoid Paying Katrina Victims, Allegations of Massive Fraud

Social collapse first maybe?  Thousands of people are pissed!  Now they've got PROOF!  Bring em down...

i am not surprised. it was probably either shred them or go bankrupt.
Bankrupt em in court.  We need a flippin reset button.
Aren't they making record profits though?
Not sure, I know they are MIGHTY healthy in face of the hurricanes and this would explain why.  I bet the aggregate numbers would astonish all of us.  I think they are paying less than 25% of their claims.
insurance company's run basically like a casino.
they are placing there bets that the monthly fee's from the insured will vastly outnumber the amount of claims they do have to pay out when stuff happens.
the big sign post that tells people that they actually lost the bet with Katrina is that they are trying to find ways no matter how minor to deny people their insurance payouts.
They don't just rely on fees...they actually invest the fee money as well.
still their entire model is based on betting their income will always be bigger then what they have to pay out.
the damage done by Katrina would do any one insurance company in so they are franticly trying to minimize their lost income by shredding and denying claims.
With some limited exceptions, the performance of major, NAME BRAND insurance companies has been shameful after Katrina.

Uncontested claims, where the homeowner was willing to just take the adjusters estimate, went many months before payout.  Local theory was that they had to liquidate real estate / other investments and just did not have the $$$.

Allstate & State Farm did NOT do right by many of their policy holders.  Others kept a tally of the few good and many bad insurance companies.

I don't suppose you have a link to that list of good companies?  I'm in Alabama an have state farm.

On the other hand don't insurance regulations vary greatly state by state.  Is it really that state farm was so bad, or is it that the state government was lax in making an enforcing regulations.

So much for the "Like a good neighbor..." and "You're in good hands" advertising jingles, eh?
These are corporations -- amoral, profit-maximizing machines that will do almost anything for a buck. The people who run them are legally bound to run as many risks as possible to make a profit.

Remember the Pinto and how Ford calculated it would be cheaper to settle lawsuits than recall the car and therein save lives?

Enron. WorldComm. And now maybe State Farm. When do exceptions become the rule?

Actually, Ford made the calculation that it would be cheaper to pay a few death claims than put a very cheap (<$25) fix in the Pinto. The US courts rightly reminded Ford that we don't allow them to do this kind of "cost-benefit analysis."
they were only unlucky enough to get caught.
Ah, but they had to be punished by the court system to be reminded of this, no? Only threat of punishment, not moral considerations, led to Ford correcting its behavior.

This is normal behavior for the corporation. Only the relatively sure threat of costly punishment leads to what we would call 'good' behavior.

Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Corp. is prominent in re-insurance and catastrophe insurance, seemed to have played this well. He raised rates to reflect last year's risks, and so far the bet seems to be paying off on a less active hurricane season. Berkshire has reported strong results in the last two quarters; its Class A stock is trading at all-time highs of about $96,300 per share.

Last year Berkshire was profitable overall despite a $2 billion hurricane-related re-insurance/ catastrophe insurance payout. Buffett is clearly hoping to make money on the catastrophe lines this year, with prices high enough to cover at least some payouts before having to draw on other funds. It could work unless there is another huge disaster like Katrina.

So did Buffett pay out all HIS legally binding Katrina claims?
Hey, is Alan around?  I'd like to get his take on the light rail thread that's posted on Daily Kos now.  You'll find it here:

"My other car gets 100 miles to the gallon"

It raises some great points, some of which Alan has raised in his posts some of which are new (I may have missed some of Alan's posts).

I'd also like to know if everything the author says in the Daily Kos post is true.  For example, here's one bit where he says a train gets the equivalent of 180 miles per gallon (if you calculate it figuring in all the people it carries):

"The average current technology diesel locomotive gets two to three gallons per mile. Based on this, given a fuel economy of 3.45 gallons to the mile (2004 average fuel economy for diesel commuter rail per US government statistics), the train uses 217 gallons of diesel to travel from Chicago to Harvard. Given the average train load of 619 passengers, this gives a fuel usage of 0.35 gallon (slightly more than 1/3 gallon) used per passenger to travel the 63 mile trip. Doing the math, this gives a fuel economy of 180 passenger miles per gallon of fuel used."

Don't forget canals. Graceful and efficient. :-)
Canals are also stinky cesspools.    Throw in some mosquitoes with tropical diseases, and you have a ditch of death.
Show me some land without trashed tires pooling water providing prime habitat for your foreign invaders and I'll show you a place not suitable for a canal.
From what Alan told me, even comparing diesel to diesel, a trolley car on rails is five to eight times more efficient than a bus on wheels.

The US is not Switzerland, but (as Alan has noted) in the Second World War, per capita oil consumption in Switzerland was 0.15% of per capita US oil consumption today.  

I think that Alan Drake and Jim Kunstler--electric trolley car lines and New Urbanism (Alan would say "Old Urbanism")--are pointing us toward the only real hope of retaining some semblance of a civilized society.  The irony of course is that we are just trying to get back to what we had in the early years of the 20th Century--before the nightmare of out of control suburban growth descended upon the land.  We have only begun to see the McMansion Meltdown.  

Re:  McMansion/Real Estate Meltdown

CNBC is reporting that H&R Block, which has a sub-prime mortgage division, is warning of very large mortgage related losses. . . A "tiny" paid for house, or a small rented apartment along a mass transit line looks better and better.

"Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy."  

(Because very large segments of the discretionary side of the economy are going to be contracting very fast.  BTW, the Tom Cruise/Paramount fight is just one example of this.  Hollywood, and the rest of the entertainment industry, are going to be fighting over a shrinking pie for years to come.)


Is education considered non-discretionary?


The non-discretionary economy I agree is bound to take a wallop.  Regarding Hollywood specifically, I believe they prospered during the Great Depression--escapism needed during trying times.  I used to think Starbucks fortunes would be a bellweather for the economy, since about every financial advice-giver tells you the first thing to cut back on is the $5/day latte habit.  (However, this might not be the best example as I'm realizing people are actually addicted to the stuff.)  But I'd watch similar (non-luxury) segments of the economy (the restaurant trade?)for signs of the coming economic collapse.
Restaurants are indeed taking a hit, at least the $10-$20 a plate places. Micky-D's is doing OK since they're a cheaper alternative, In-N-Out etc. Expensive "housewares" places are taking a hit as per a recent article in the MSM here (san francisco bay area) and while Macy's has plenty of $40 pillows, they seem to be selling a lot of their $10 ones like the one I got last night - wow I had a good night's sleep.

Very very slow motion wreck of a very very large and ponderous train.....

I think I would look for big ticket discretionary items to take an early fall. Say, big screen televisions, expensive DVD players, and high end personal computers.
Note the upsurge in $600 laptops. It's partly because of the upcoming demise of Mini-IDE in favor of SATA, but also because people aren't buying so many laptops now.
Fewer people are buying expensive laptops, because the existing laptop market's mature and saturated. I used to replace my home computer every 3 years. Last time, I replaced with a laptop, which is still fine three years later, every bit as capable as a new $600 machine (though it cost twice that). I can't see myself replacing it for another three years (after which, it may be too late anyway!)

I'll guess that people are now replacing their home desktop computers with $600 laptops. And then the home computer market will be completely saturated. This generation of machine has a good lifespan (and fairly low energy consumption!) And people's disposable incomes will take a nosedive... so they will be stuck with them anyway.

General recommendation : replace your 2+ year old desktop system with a laptop.

Just make sure you don't buy the laptop model with the battery that explodes and catches fire.
I suspect that is a hazard with all Li-ion batteries, to some extent.  It's been a serious issue with electric bikes.  The battery packs are a lot bigger than the ones for a laptop, and they're right under your butt.  
I use to know a guy who sold alcohol for a living.  During recessions, sales of the premium product increased.   Strange but true!  

Hard times mean that people like to give themselves little rewards.  A movie or a premium beverage is a relatively cheap thrill.  On the other hand, there is a difference between a recession and depression.

All you need to service that addiction for a fraction of the cost is a home coffee maker and a can of cheap Folgers (or equivalent).
Richard Gilbert is a transportation expert who consults with the OECD.  His reports support the following rules of thumb for freight transport.

Air frieght is 10 times more energy intensive than trucking.

Trucking is 10 times more energy intensive than rail.

Rail is 10 times more energy intensive than water (with the caveat that trying to go really fast in water only makes it as energy efficient as rail).

I interviewed Richard here:

And he has reports available here:

Interesting stuff.  Guess there's a reason people always settle along the waterways first.

I've got a mule, and her name is Sal.
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
She's a good old worker and a good old pal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
We've hauled some barges in our day,
Filled with lumber, coal and hay,
And we know ev'ry inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo.

Low bridge! Ev'rybody down!
Low bridge, 'cause we're coming to a town;
And you'll always know your neighbor,
You'll always know your pal,
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.
  We'd better get along on our way old gal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Cause you bet your life, I'd never part with Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Just one more trip and back we'll go,
Through the ice and sleet and snow,
For ev'ry inch of the way we know
From Albany to Buffalo.

What a neat old song! I suspect sail will have a real comeback too.

Anyone read the book The Mosquito Coast? Interesting book for Peakers I think, some good points made about the industrial mindset vs the realistic mindset. I like how the local guy who is given the watch..... well, I don't want to spoil it.

There is an absolutely brilliant piece by Dmitry Orlov (Aug 20) on Energybulletin.net and/or CultureChange/org, about the return of sail. Highly recommended!

The New Age of Sail

Don't go sailing out into any old storm in a sharpie.  I admire most of Orlov's stuff, but I think he's out of his area of competance regarding seawothiness.

Recommended (and easy) reading on this topic is "Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor" by C. J. Marchaj.

I've been wanting to post a reply to his post, or email him directly.  Can someone tell me how I can reach him?

I think the Chinese junk is a much better all-round sailing boat than is the Bolger box.

Maybe charge up some lead-acid batteries with PV film on sails for the times of no wind; a very small electric motor will do wonders at low speeds of a few knots.

The junk has many adherants.  With a good reputation like that it's worth some investigation.

I read yacht and ship design books for a while.  FWIW, the series of (I think 3) books by Robert H. Perry on "Sailing Designs" (pulled from his Sailing Magazine column) are good.  They give a design review for each of hundreds of yachts.

For bringing back sail, I'd say research the designs that were used for the specific purpose you seek.  Sharpies were used IIRC for bay fishing.  "Coastal" designs (particularly coastal schooners) are good for working the coasts, but are expected to stay away from the worst weather(*).  If you want to cross oceans with cargo ... build a bark.

I would be very interested to hear about your experiences sailing sharpies in storms. Were they set up for ocean cruising, or was this an accident involving a poorly ballasted sharpie being blown out to sea?
Don, have you seen the Electric Wheel from Solomon Technologies? Basically an electric motor + batteries which recharge under sail...

Batteries are regenerated under sail by the prop spinning in the wake. Hybrid-electric systems also include a DC generator to recharge batteries for long-distance motoring and heavy auxiliary systems use. An optional inverter supplies 120 VAC for onboard appliances.

Here's a queer "overshoot" issue that came up for me last night. I was talking with a friend about future career directions. I'm 50 years old & wouldn't know a corn plant from queen anne's lace - I have a hard time seeing myself taking up subsistence farming - or succeeding at it, anyway! Bike repair, yeah, maybe. What about blacksmithing, metal working in general.

My friend told me that he has some hobbying / artist metalworking friends. They tell him that getting soft enough iron for wrought iron work, that is a problem. Good clean iron fresh from the earth, that's not easy to get. Most of the iron around is recycled. The more iron gets recycled, the more it picks up trace amounts of other metals that harden it.

Seems to me an interesting direction to explore. Maybe the low-tech metalworking practices of our great grandparents will not be the low-tech metalworking practices of our great grandchildren. The source of metal in the future will be the scrap heaps we leave behind. What are the most effective low-tech methods to harvest this scrap?

dead links they only lead to blank pages.
at least for me on Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20060809 Firefox/
Try again.
still dead.
Your ISP sucks, then. Probably a DNS problem.
Try this link (goes straight to the IP address).

 Here's the list of titles they have for foundry books:

Kirk's Founding of Metals
Hardening & Tempering
Brass & Alloy Founding
Metalworking for Amateurs
Assayer's Guide
Charcoal & Electricity
Making Crucibles
Foundry 1900-01
Art of Casting Iron Thermit Welding
High-Frequency Induction Heating
Building Small Cupola Furnaces
Early Die Casting
Various Popular Foundry Books
Charcoal Foundry
other Gingery Foundry Books
Carbon Arc Torch & Water Resistor

Sounds to me that improving the recycling process of iron is prime terrain for intellectual entrepeneurship.  There you go, you folks who weren't happily envisaging  a future of agricultural labour or blacksmithing and who are not risk averse, an opportunity to think about.
Reading your posts jogged my memory that all of sudden, I am seeing many more ads in my local newpaper and roadside billboards looking to buy scrap metal.  Interesting sign of the times.
While there continues to be a problem with excessive trashing, I am encouraged by the volume of stuff which disappears from the curb before the garbage truck arrives.  Metal doesn't stnnd a chance of getting to the landfill,  if it is unattached.
Corn is a board leaf plant (a species of grass) about 2 feet to 10 feet tall, deep green wide leaves with tiny teeth edges.  Check out any pictures in your nearest info source.

Queen Anne's Lace is a lacy leafed plant with wide heads of tiny white flowers. It is related to Carrots. The root smells like fresh carrots but is woody and not that great for eating.  It is also a common road side plant in fields that have not been mowwed in while.

Now you know.


My stack of books that I've bought but not read yet is growing ever higher.  If you're seen the movie version, how does it compare?  I saw it a long time ago but it was on HBO and I was a disinterested teen and probably only saw bits and pieces. I imagine it would be much more interesting now that I know more about the world.  But if the book is extremely superior, perhaps I'll add it to the pile.
Paul Theriot's book the Mosquito Coast is a wondrful read.  Theriot is a great verbal stylist and a great observer of humanity, although a little depressing. I also recommend highly his train travel books, The Patagonian Express and The Iron Rooster. Too many books and not enough time! Its the dilema of all pointy-headed intellectuals.
The film was OK, but there was far more in the book.  Also a much more definitive ending.
think I might like to read the book. I saw the
movie, but it bummed me out; saw too much of
myself in the lead character played by Harrison Ford.
(he was a square peg in a world full of round
Water transportation is the most energy efficient mode.  However, little or nothing can be done to expand the US waterway system.  The "Tenn-Tom" canal has been dug and is open, every remotely reasonable waterway project has, AFAIK, been completed.

The market will drive suitable cargoes towards water.  So no "drum beating" required, unlike with electrified rail.

BTW, New Orleans has ocean going shipping, the Mississippi River, the Intercoastal Canal and six of the seven North American Class I railroads.

I'm wondering if smaller canals will not become worthwhile as transport costs rise?

I suspect that energy prices need to get really high before that happens.

In Europe, the extensive narrow-gauge canal networks (dug in the 18th and 19th centuries) are used almost exclusively for pleasure boating. Only a small number of wide modern canals actually carry any significant amount of freight.

Hello AlistairC,

Arizona has an extensive canal system.  In a 'long emergency': a lot of goods in small barges could be pulled by people and draft animals along these routes, assuming global warming still allows sufficient water flow and pumping rates.  It would be a simple matter to remove the vehicle bridges that are currently too low; the bridges that would impede barge traffic.  Here are some maps and photos showing the AZ canals:





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

Understand that Alan is out for while.

I think he would argue for diesel-electric traines, or all-electric, both being more energy efficient then diesel trains (please correct me if I'm wrong)


Diesel trains mean diesel electric.
It isn't enough to say rail is efficient and we need to invest in it.  Land-use must be considered simultaneously for rail to work in most cases.  Particularly for light rail, you must have nodes of compact, walkable communities around which the stations are based.  For long-haul passenger rail, you need cities and towns that you can move about without the need for your own personal transport vehicles.  Freight rail will be the first to come back because you can do heavy freight hauling on rail to "inland ports" where the cargo is transfered to trucks for final delivery.  We need to do it, but the land-use component needs to be there and it is often the hardest and slowest thing to change.  
I have yet to hear of an urban light rail project, which didn't immediately lead to intensification along the rail corridor.  Municipalities move quickly to change zoning, through variances if necessary, in these corridors to encourage this process.  Local authorities are often involved in financing the light rail project and this intensification leads to a process called uplifting.
Uplifting refers to the increase in property values and therefore increase in property tax revenues.
Define immediately.  Anyway I basically agree with you about the property values.  However, the land-use planning and establishment of processes should be done at the same time as the planning for the rail line.  There are a growing number of good examples around the country, but there are a few bad examples - or at least places were things didn;t happen "immediately" and these are jumped all over by the automobile lobby (Randal O'Toole, Wendell Cox etc).  A few articles via a quick google search (note: I don't endorse these views obviously)


Miami is an interesting example of this.  From memory, they built 20 miles of elevated "subway" (technical name, Rapid Rail) in early 1980s.  South of downtown, next to South Beach and other pricey real estate.  North of downtown, through burned out slums.  They also built "gadgetbahn" kind of like monorail through downtown.

System languished for years, low ridership, worst performance of any rail system in US by some metrics.  Some TOD south of downtown but not major. Only two towers north.

Miami approved expansion to 103 mile system and that same line (just 1 mile added onto end was open) suddenly had BOOMING TOD !

In 2004, I counted 15 of 23 building cranes within 3 blocks of a Metro station. It was clear that being next to Urban Rail was *HOT !!*

A change in plans was all that was needed.  Still 4/5 or so of TOD was downtown or south.

"Define immediately"  Thanks.  I didn't mean to imply overnight, but I am referring to a process that, inter alia, includes speculators buying land, re-zoning applications, etc.

I might add that intensification is not off to a good start in many jurisdictions, including my own, where it is being interpreted to mean major increases in allowable building height.  This ultimately results in a reduction of the net energy saving benefit of the light rail project, if I am to believe contacts specializing in the field.

Probably the best way to intensify is on the model of Helsinki, where buildings are restricted to 5 or 6 stories (going from memory).  A beautiful city by all accounts, densely populated with lots of green and lots of light for all.

So where are you?  I'm in Arlington, VA which has had TOD policies for 30 years.  We have been somewhat successful but with a lot of things we should have done better.  Human-oriented, compact, walkable design is an important overlooked feature sometimes.  Or, if not overlooked, is just reglated only by a numbers-based approach (how much floor area ratio/density - FAR).  Particularly for places that have been car-oriented, the attention to detail is often missing.  Pedestrians notice details, like trees, how wide streets are (a few feet make a difference) and building detailing and of course what uses/functions are within walking distance.  Height is really a design issue as significant densities can be achieved in 5-6 stories (with increased coverage).  In some places you may want something tall, but I think many urbanists agree with you that 5-6 stories is about right for background buildings to create a nice feeling street-space.  I'm not sure what the argument is for why net energy savings would be less for a light rail project with taller buildings, unless the building are also more widely spaced apart which they often do to allow light/air in but has the effect of making the area less walkable sometimes.  TOD is really POD.  I live 3 blocks from the DC subway, but rarely take it anywhere because the land-use that supports the station also makes it possible and enjoyable for me to do everything i need and want to do within a nice walk from my house.
I'm in Ottawa, Ontario.  Downtown with my family.  Walk, bike, bus and train 98% of the time.  Never have owned a motorized individual transport unit, other than a couple of motorcycles during my foolish youth.  People, especially suburbanites, never could understand how we managed to raise kids without a car. Location, location, location.

We bought years back in neighbourhood considered by many to be a high crime area filled with suspicious foreigners of different appearance. We wanted our kids to know that people of all origins are mostly good people.  Having read Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in the early seventies, we also knew the die was cast and figured that ultimately investment in suburbia was going to be a losing venture. Been warning friends for years, to little avail.  Now they are hoping for train service to their low density, crescent shaped streets.

High rise buildings require more energy per living/working space than low rise, or so I am told by people researching the field.  I haven't seen numbers.

Not too far from our house is a high-rise senior's residence.  Elevator dependent.  Another concern.  

I like steps, in fact I'm going to install a new staircase to our roof next year where I'm constructing a rooftop greenhouse/garden.  But I'm not going to climb more than a few flights with groceries in hand. While I'm getting more beautiful, I ain't getting younger.  

Don't know about energy use of highrise, I've heard conflicting answers.  Generally I like them less because they are not as adaptable as needs for uses change than buildings under about 6 stories.   Too many residences in a single building doesn't seem to work as well either from a community-building perspective.  And if the gloomer predictions of electric grid interuptions ever happen, you would be in big trouble in a high rise as you alluded.

Ottawa is nice.  I was there about 10 years ago for work for about 2 weeks.  Stayed at the Novotel downtown. It was in December and I remember they had beautiful lights for Christmas I guess.  

Three story ´stretched cubic´ house is supposed to be most energy efficient form.  No elevators, good interior volume to exterior area ratio.  Daylighting for every room.

Just some architects theory, but it seems rational.

Seems to me to be pretty widespread where I live, in the form of 3 story townhouses and apartments.  Of course, most of them are in massive developments within walking distance of nothing but more 3 story townhouses/apartments or neighborhoods of single family homes, for the most part.

What I'd like to see is an efficient way of utilizing all that roof - gardens, flattops, greenroof, solar panels, whatever.  90% of the neighborhood open space in such developments are parking or sidewalk, the rest is tiny backyards or neighborhood pools - roofing that didn't cost a bundle and was human-usable + communal could improve QoL a lot - on a purely aesthetic level, I prefer to live in an old single family home neighborhood because there are old trees + creeks everywhere, though the only thing I share with my neighbors is a herd of deer.

I very much agree to the human scale and attractive part (so HARD for modern Americans to design properly !).  One reason I am hanging on in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans :-))

Streetcars, unlike Light Rail, develop corridors.  Within 3 blocks of the line is "prime".  This allows decent density with 2 & 3 story homes (typically multi-family) with NARROW streets (24' to 28' wide with parking on both sides, natural traffic calming).

Quite frankly, I think I live in an ideal example of 1830s TOD.  And they did it better back then ! :-)

The New Urbanists need to learn much more from the Old Urbanism.

Boston's Green Line, I always thought was "light rail". Is that really a streetcar? They call them LRVs here. The version of cars they had before the Boeing LRVs were at least an order of magnitude simpler. When I talk about connecting rural communities here in Maine with light rail, that is what I have in mind as the low end option.

Has anyone thought through stealing back lanes from rural highways for rail? What would a cross section look like? Currently we have asphalt adding up to four lanes in front of my house. Narrow the lanes, drop the speed limit a lot, put in a single railway. Where do the bicycles go? How does one plow it? Or is stealing lanes hopeless where there are too many buried utilities? And will the grades usually work? That sure would make a nice handout for one of those consensus-trance "Smart Growth" conferences.

Those looking for efficiency comparison, passenger miles per gallon of diesel subway, electric to Exploder, scooter and helicopter here.

cfm in Gray, ME

"Has anyone thought through stealing back lanes from rural highways for rail?"

You better believe it. Moreover it ain't stealing.  Its liberating. But please rememer that most of the oppressed possibility for sustainable transport is in the cities.  

I and other cranks in the fair city of Ottawa advocate a staged liberation of the freeway, which roars through our city like the slash in a no-smoking symbol, directly overtop the bulldozed remains of the railroad.  I'm anouncing our slogan here on TOD, as a world premiere. "It was rail.  In the New Jerusalem, it will again be rail."

This should help us coalesce the forces of enlightenment.

Many people have suggested that roads, especially interstates, could make great rail corridors.  The biggest problem is that roads have inclines and declines at a steeper angle than rail allows.  The same is true for the tightness of curves.  This is much more of a problem for secondary roads than it is for interstates but it is still an issue but probably not one that couldn't be overcome.

I do have to wonder about the height of overpasses.  Is the interstate standard for overpass height high enough to allow a standard train car to pass under?  If the coversion was strictly for passenger rail use, then the passenger cars would likely be brand new and able to be designed for the proper height.

Freight trains have only the loco wheels driving, max grade ~3% (unhappy over 1.5%)  LONG radius curves needed.

Light Rail & streetcars, all wheels drivien, offically can take 6% grade with BIG safety factor (10% is OK, 14% to 15.5% have been in historic service; up hill OK, downhill emergency braking does not meet current safety standards).

LRVs have a 90 foot turning radius (from memory), Skoda 66 feet and New Orleans streetcars 50 feet.  Since 18 wheeler turning radius is 48' (and they do not follow the same path every time) any street corner that an 18 wheeler can take, so can a New Orleans streetcar.

Switching from overhead wire to 3rd rail is done "occasionally" to minimize overhead clearance issues.  Not SOP.

People do not like being near auto sewers.  Putting rail next to them drives down ridership.  How many people want to spend even 4 minutes next to the noise and exhaust of a freeway ?  That is, IMHO, the biggest argument against taking freeway lanes for Urban Rail.

Entering and exiting people & rail lines is another issue.

Very good points but I was thinking more of what happens if fuel becomes so expensive that automotive traffic drops, say, 70%.  I agree that an "automobile sewer" isn't the best place but if you're really short on resources and need to build something to get a screaming masses from point a to point b, then it could be a possibility.  With a significant drop in traffic, the location in the middle of the limited access highway wouldn't be as bad but since they were designed with cars in mind, it would take a lot to actually make them somehow pedestrian friendly.

The annoying thing is that many people who have an automobile centric thinking pattern often do scream about local rail being worthless because it wasn't built in the median of their favorite interstate.  I think this is because they can't mentally navigate the world without thinking in terms of the routes laid out by roads.

A few months ago I drove my car to the airport to pick up a friend.  We were going to go to a little pub a few miles away but I wasn't able to find it because I was driving and had only gotten their in the past on heavy rail. Apparently my sense of direction and view of the world has been so altered that it is now rail station-centric.  :)

For light rail, or for low speed rail, you can put a bed of gravel on top of a lane and put rails on it, without disturbing what's underneath.
Portland OR has developed a technique that works for streetcars but not heavier LRVs.  $300 per track foot, 3 weeks to complete 3 blocks (2003 #s).  The concrete bridges underground utilities.

Driveway access is an issue with some alignments.

My favorite is in-street running with textured "rough riding" concrete outside the rails (cars can use it, but they avoid the lane due to bad ride) and smooth between the rails (encouraging bicycles).

"I'd also like to know if everything the author says in the Daily Kos post is true.  For example, here's one bit where he says a train gets the equivalent of 180 miles per gallon (if you calculate it figuring in all the people it carries)"

That is similar to numbers we have developed in Los Angeles for presentations by our group (The Transit Coalition).  For Diesel hauled Metrolink trains with 600 seats we estimate 2.5 gallons per mile or 240 PASSENGER MILES per gallon for a fully loaded train.

Of course your mileage may differ, and will depend heavily on the frequency of stops.

This would be twice as many passenger miles per gallon as a loaded 40-seat MTA bus getting three miles per gallon ... and a little more efficient than a Toyota Prius loaded with FOUR happy car-pooling commuters. (more comfortable than it sounds).

I don't have the numbers, but electic light rail sounds better than all the above, on a number of counts.

Has anyone run the passenger miles per gallon at current average ridership?
Amtrak has a load factor just above 50% and they carry their restuarants and hotel rooms with them (both are more fuel efficient when stationary, operating off grid power).  From memory, Amtrak has similar cars with 66 seats for most of the country and 88 seats for the Northeast, California and other shorter hauls.  88 seats (short haul) is more fuel efficient than 66 seats in the same basic railcar.

A few years ago they had actual high 70s pax-mile/gallon (78 from memory).  New locomotives since then should increase their fuel economy.

I support regional rail (<250 miles) much more than cross-country rail.  No rolling hotels or restaurants needed.

Aircraft are more fuel efficient on longer trips, due to increased time in the thin stratosphere.  AMtrak today might use a bit less fuel going from DC to LA, but not much less than an a/c.  And it will take two days.

OTOH, St. Louis to Chicago is a "good" rail length.  Fuel & time efficient.  Just electrify the rails :-)

Thanks.  I was actually more curious about those buses.  Good to know the trains were hitting high 70s though.
Just tried to plan a trip to NY from DC, and what I can't understand is why Amtrak wants to charge me slightly more than Jetblue does for even its low-speed coach fares, and twice that for its Acela Express service (the only high-speed rail in the country, for a few seconds of the most well-maintained track at least).  This is on one of the most developed rail lines in the country, fully electrified.

Meanwhile, the Chinatown bus can get me there in an extra hour or so, for $35 roundtrip, about 30% of what air/rail would cost.  If I dare enter DC, where they seems to be more violence than Lebanon at the moment.

180 passenger-miles-per-gallon is perfectly believable.  It's nearly the same "typical efficiency" figure I give for diesel-electric commuter rail, namely 200 passenger-mpg.  This is based on many examples, and I'm happy to add more if given good data with references.


The "typical efficiency" figure takes into account actual use.  With all seats filled the efficiency equates to roughly 400 pax-mpg, and if you go to the extreme of hauling standees as well you can get as high as 900 pax-mpg.

That's just the beginning, though - electrically-propelled rail cars are far more efficient.  One European LRT car studied in actual service managed over 700 pax-mpg.  When filled to crush capacity the efficiency is over 2000 pax-mpg.  Subway/metro trains may be even slightly more efficient - once you start talking about the extreme end it's really a case of just how many people you want to cram in.  The crush capacity figures are mostly of theoretical interest only, though they do happen regularly in real life in New York, London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo, ...

As for intercity, if you want an example of a very efficient high speed rail service consider the TGV Duplex Paris-Lyon: each train seats 545, and overall occupancy is 80% - 436 people per train.  The entire 380-tonne train gets the gasoline equivalent of 1.18 miles per gallon, so in typical use that's 506 passenger-mpg at a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).  The consumption is measured over the whole route, including three intermediate stops.  The French rail company (SNCF) not only makes a profit on this route, it has long ago covered the capital cost of building the system in the first place.

Yes, of course rail service replacing road (both for passenger and freight) is an important part of reducing energy demand.

The tragedy is that the TGV network hasn't been rolled out quickly enough through Europe. Though London and Brussels are now connected, and the lines under construction to western Germany and Switzerland will be opened next year, I don't expect any of the planned extensions (e.g. Lyon-Turin) will ever get built.

Rail will be the primary vector of personal mobility before long, just like it was 80 years ago (when cars were for the rich). The quality of the existing infrastructure, and people's proximity to it, will be a crucial element of personal freedom and opportunity.

A too Franco-centric view !

German ICE is the equal to French TGV, Germany & Denmark just signed a 9 billion euro agreement for a road-rail bridge that will save 2 hours.

The Low countries are well on their way, as are Spain & Italy.

Sweden has a nice system of semi-high speed rail and connections now to Denmark.

The former communist parts of the EU are now getting serious as well about high speed rail.

Even England is making true high speed rail from London to the Chunnel at some expense.


Has some good maps of euro rail lines.  Check color code on bottom for high speed types.

Daily Irony:

The Ad/Offer to win a Kelly Clarkson Ford Mustang at the top of "Analysis: The Death of Oil?"

Really?  Thanks to Firefox, I don't see no stinkin' ads.

Though it's not really all that ironic.  That article basically reflects the economists' view of peak oil: the high prices will get us to conserve and switch to biofuels, so don't you worry, you'll always have something to put in Kelly Clarkson's Mustang, if you win it.

Concerning Yergin, I have found an interesting reference in one of my favourite books, Overshoot (written in 1980), by William Catton.

In a note from Chapter 15, Facing the future wisely, you can read this:

Not just average citizens but schoolars too remained preoccupied with the precariousness of depending on imported oil rather than concerning themselves about precariousness of depending on exhaustible oil. See Robert Stobaugh, "After the Peak: The Threat of Imported Oil", Ch. 2 in Stobaugh and Yerguin 1979 (listed among references for Ch. 14)
The complete reference is Stobaugh, Robert and Yerguin, Daniel: 1979 Energy Future: Report of the Energy Project at the Harward Business School. New York. Random House.

Table of contents: The end of easy oil / Robert Stobaugh & Daniel Yergin -- After the peak : the threat of imported oil / Robert Stobaugh -- Natural gas : how to slice a shrinking pie / I.C. Bupp & Frank Schuller -- Coal : constrained abundance / Mel Harwitch -- The nuclear stalemate / I.C. Bupp -- Conservation : the key energy source / Daniel Yergin -- Solar America / Modesto A. Maidique -- Conclusion : toward a balanced energy program / Robert Stobaugh & Daniel Yergin -- Appendix : limits to models / Sergio Koreisha & Robert Stobaugh.

It seems the book is easy to find in second hand stores.

I have found one more reference googling it, like this one from the Harvard Business School: "How Do We Prepare for a World Without Cheap Oil?", writen by James Heskett in September 2004. Not having the book, it's the only way to see what Yergin and Stobaugh were thinking way back in 1979. According to Heskett,

Starting from a premise stated in the title of the first chapter, "The End of Easy Oil," the project team went on to recognize the importance of a balanced approach relying heavily on the marketplace. But it suggested that this could be complemented by two major efforts to deal with the dilemma, at least in the U.S.--incentives to foster conservation and the development of alternative energy sources, particularly solar energy.
Stobaugh and Yergin wrote two articles in Foreign Affairs around the same time they published "Energy Future".

Before the book's publication, they wrote "After the Second Shock: Pragmatic Energy Strategies", you can read there a 500 words preview (the article has over 13.000 words, if you want it for 5,95$, look here):

Within the United States, this second shock should bring to an end what had become an increasingly powerful tendency to pronounce the energy crisis a thing of the past, to discount the possibility of a second shock and instead to project scenarios depicting a glut of oil on the world market.
You can say that Yergin & Stobaugh were, in a sense, precursors of the current peak oil debate:
But the intensity of the debate goes beyond self-interest. Powerful romanticisms compete. On one side are those who have a vision of the national life decentralized in many spheres through the mechanism of the energy crisis, to the point where it becomes a post-industrial pastoral society. Even more powerful has been another kind of romanticism, what might be called an industrial romanticism, a belief that conventional production by itself can be a savior, that it is possible to return to an era of ever-increasing production rates.
It is amazing how time (and perhaps money?) changes people!

Upon the book's publication, they wrote another one, "Energy: An Emergency Telescoped" (again, there's only a 500 words preview, but this time you can't buy it, go here for more information).

Their worries about the danger of having to import more oil each passing year are stated from the beginning:

American overdependence on imported oil poses not only a host of old problems in graver form but at least one new one, the problem of "hostile oil"-potentially decisive proportions of Middle East oil under the actual or prospective control of governments that are politically antagonistic to the United States.
Concerning Stobaugh, I have found much less than from Yergin, apart from the two cited articles in Foreign Affairs. It seems Stobaugh used to be member of the board of the Alliance to Save Energy, and it is being mentioned as pushing "energy efficiency as a new solution to energy woes" (I say that "he used to be", because in the current list of board members he is not featured).

Professor Stobaugh is the Charles E. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and he now is on the faculty of Rice University, where he teaches a course on corporate governance to managers.

Having a look to Stobaugh's publications, it seems he stopped writing about energy after 1979... It would be interesting to ask now to Stobaugh (btw, here is his email) about their old articles on oil and of course, knowing what he is thinking now of the work of his former peer... It seems Yergin forgot about conservation and alternatives and embraced the Church of Producing Our Way Out of a Energy Crisis...

From the article about Mexico:

"Production at Cantarell is expected to be down 8% at 1.86 million b/d this year, and decline further to 1.68 million b/d in 2007. In 2008, Pemex estimates Cantarell output to be 1.43 million b/d.

In the first half of 2006, Pemex's overall crude oil production was 3.34 million b/d, of which it exported 1.91 million b/d."

Me:   So, in 2006, Cantarell was 1.86 mbd and by 2008 it will be 1.43 mbd.  That is a loss of 0.43 mbd or 23% of the exports...assuming no increase of Mexico demand and no increase or decrease from other wells.

Rick D.

I'd suggest the interesting thing is to plot these numbers and extrapolate the line.

I get something like 1.16 mbd in 2009, or a loss of 0.7 mbd = about half of exports. By 2010 its under 1mbd.

So if we might expect a halving in production within 5 years it certainly looks like a cliff edge is staring us in the face. That's a lot on infill drilling.

So, ¿how much do internal business in Mexico pay for Cantarell oil? ¿Will the cost of oil to them raise as international prices raise?

If it does, there will surely be some demand destruction in Mexico too.

If it does not, then Mexico is giving up a pretty amount of income just to keep their business happy. Not that it would be out of character of a public company like PEMEX to do so. And there can even make sens for the country to try to export processed goods instead of unprocessed oil. But I cannot see the Mexican government giving up too many hard foreign currency just when oil prices go through the roof.

Hello Mencial,

Consider the implications for Mexico of an AZ refinery versus building it in Mexico itself [hint: read the Narcosphere link most of all]:


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

Re:  Corrosion Article


"He declined to name the companies involved because of confidentiality agreements signed during his work as a consultant. But he said that major repair projects had been initiated in the Middle East, Russia and India."

IMO, increased corrosion is primarily a symptom of falling production (and rising water cuts) and not a primary cause of falling production per se.  I have frequently pointed out that the East Texas Field now--at a 99% water cut--is where many of these large old oil fields are headed.  There is probably a contributing factor of bacterial contamination (which can accelerate corrosion) where operators are injecting treated seawater into the formations.   From what I have read on TOD,  is not possible, as one would expect, to completely eliminate bacteria in the seawater.  

Hubbert accurately predicted the timeframe for the Texas and Lower 48 decline, and the HL data clear showed that Texas and the Lower 48 were beyond and/or at the 50% mark in the early Seventies, when they peaked.  However, a conventional (CERA, et al) analysis of production would have probably missed the Texas peak. The East Texas Field, found in the early Thirties, showed rising oil production in the years leading up until 1972, when along with overall Texas production it started a terminal decline.  How would Yergin, et al, have handled the East Texas Field in 1972?  

Saudi Arabia, in 2005, was at the same stage of depletion that Texas was at in 1972.  HUGE DIFFERENCE:  The East Texas Field only accounted for about 7% of Texas production in 1972.  Ghawar, at least until recently, accounted for more than half of Saudi production.  It's interesting that the Saudi stock market has crashed while the Venezuelan stock market is up.  

IMO, Huber, Yergin and even the Megaprojects effort are all underestimating the decline in production from the large old oil fields.

I think it is theoretically possible to eliminate all bacteria in seawater but cooking up the 7 mbd that is injected into Ghawar is a bit of a technical hurdle, not to speak of the energy required to do that.
PaulusP -

You don't need to boil the injected water to kill all the bacteria; you can just chlorinate it, as is routinely done in municipal water treatment plants.

In the US, you are typically required to maintain a chlorine residual in the water leaving the treatment plant of 1 part per million. This is to allow for the chlorine to do some additional disinfecting on its way from the treatment plant to the point of use.

In the case of injected water, one could go to a much higher chlorine residual. However, whatever you do, it might not be enough to totally prevent bacterial contamination, as there are bacteria already present in many deep groundwater formations, and once these become comingled with the oil, there isn't a whole lot you can do.

I suppose one could temporarily shut down a pipe line for cleaning and disinfecting to get rid of the sulfate-reducing bacterial colonies attached to the pipe walls,  but it appears that the oil companys prefer to take the ostrich approach and wait for the corrosion problems to manifest themeselves as leaks.

Might the chlorine react adversely with the oil?
IFeelFree -

Possibly... what there is of it.

Don't forget: we're talking about chlorine doses in the parts per million range and not percent concentrations of chlorine. So, if any chlorinated organic compounds are formed at all,  they would be at a very low concentration.

Yes, but chlorinated hydrocarbons tend to have high toxicity. (That's what insectides are made of.) The presence of these compounds, even at the parts-per-million level, would be of concern. I would think it would require special handling and refining, no?
IFeelFree -

Well, let's not forget that if chlorination is used, it would be the water that is chlorinated, not the oil directly.  Sure, there would be some contact of chlorinated water (with only a few ppm of chlorine) with the oil at the oil/water interfaces,  but I doubt there would be all that much opportunity for the production of actual chlorinated organic compounds, many of which are manufactured by contacting the organic compound with actual chlorine gas under high temperature and pressure. Many are not all that easy to make.

This is all academic, because I doubt very much if the bacterial problem is solely from the water being injected. Bacteria are ubiquitous, even way down deep, so it is hard to get rid of them entirely. In my opinion, the best remedy is the most obvious: routine cleaning of the interior of the pipeline to remove crud and scale, underneath which bacterial colonies can grow and do their mischief. If that had been done on the BP pipeline on say a yearly basis, they probably wouldn't be having the problems they're having now.

Flowing water and pipe interiors (given clearing the vicinity of the pipes) are both possible to sterilize by irradiation.
Looking at the experience listed by the company that gentleman works for, one would imagine the Middle Eastern field he is referring to is Kuwaiti.


It raises the question of whether Burgan has definitely peaked, or perhaps it is just doing a "Prudhoe Bay"?

(Sorry - I know Prudhoe has peaked, but I mean whether we can see a pickup in production shortly once the pipes are replaced)
I know Simmons general position on energy related matters, but given that this conference is in part put on by the USDA, does anyone have insight or references to his position on using agriculture as a source of fuel.  Does he believe in it at the local level, large scale, or not so much ?
It would be great if RR could attend this and ask some embarrassing questions.
Is there a link to this USDA conference ?
Here's the official Web site:


It's $500 to attend.  

I would like to point out that the article entitled, "Is 5 Dollar Gasoline Enough," is a right wing rant that calls the Y2K bug and global warming a hoax.

Neither is or was a hoax.

Try to avoid the clownish articles.

Try to avoid the clownish articles.

Not gonna happen.  :-)

I like to offer articles from the whole spectrum.  Left, right, doomer, cornucopian.

We need to keep an eye on what the clowns are up to. Besides, they're amusing.

I agree, Leanan.  I think it's necessary to see what disinformation is being put out there.  It's why I watch CNN!!  ;-)
I totally agree.  Regardless of whether or not we read them, other people will, and we need to understand the arguements (no matter how poorly reasoned or researched they are) so we can counteract them.  Plus even the crazies say something true and worth learning once in a while.

The "suburbs are superior" commentator in the local paper yesterday wrote a column that said the suburbs would be saved by rolling out fleets of small shuttle buses to get people to their suburban office parks.  He then blamed rail advocates for the terrible traffic and air pollution because if they just went along with bus "rapid" transit and his fleet of micro buses, everything would be fine and dandy.  He even promised that it would cause the price of gas to go down!

It amazes me that so many people can not see the problems in our land use and truely believe with religious confidence that there is some solution (such as tens of thousands of microbuses dancing through the suburbs) that will allow everything to continue to exist as it is now.  As dumb as I think most of their arguements are, these commentators reach a lot of the public who desperately want to hear that everything is going to be ok.  It really scared me what kind of people they're going to end up electing when things get really ugly.

I also fully support Leanan et al

I would even argue that one should force oneself to read the 'heretics'. Of course it's far more pleasant to confirm the wisdom of one's own worldview by listening only to those who agree with you, but it does not move the ball down the field.

And now some recommended CERA reading for the weekend:

Diminishing Returns: The Cost of North American Gas in an Unconventional Era is available for $40,000 for both Phase I and Phase II results, including the written reports, the Phase I and Phase II multimedia results presentations, and the electronic version of the result tables for both phases.

CERA and IHS study experts are available to present the results to clients at their offices (in a half-day presentation) for an additional fee of $15,000, subject to separate written agreement. Travel expenses will be billed separately as incurred.


Ah, the joy of capitalism.  Misinformation at a price only the rich and powerful can afford.

Oh well, we can always count on the misinformation trickling down.

Well, after you put down that much money, would you be willing to admit that you had been had?
I do have a caveat to my earlier statement about the importance of reading and/or listening to those with what sound like nutty viewpoints.  Everyone's time is valuable and at some point there the law of diminishing returns comes into play when a particular source has either been totally discredited or keeps repeating the same message over and over again.  I believe that I'm pretty open minded but I'm not about to spend time reading article from the KKK because I'm pretty sure I know their viewpoints and listening to what they have to say would certainly be a waste of time.

As far as the repeating message goes, heck, I don't bother reading Kunstler that much anymore since his new writings are often just a rearrangement of the words cheesedoodles, fry pits, and clusterf**k.

Yes, I agree.  I used to post Jerome Corsi's articles, but I rarely bother now.  He just says the same thing over and over again.  It was interesting and amusing the first time or two, reading things like "there's oil in the Gulf of Mexico, where no dinosaur ever walked, therefore oil is abiotic," but a little of that goes a long way.
The McPaper has been regularly reporting on the slump of the "casual dining" market.  These restaurants are the cheapest sit-down restaurants.  They're one step above fast food, and their customers tend to be lower-income than those of higher-end eateries.  

Though this particular article doesn't mention it, previous articles have blamed the drop in customers on higher energy prices and mortgage rates.  People are putting more money in their gas tanks now, and they can't use their homes as ATMs any more, so they're cutting back on eating out.  Either cooking at home, or downgrading to fast-food restaurants.

Restaurants shave prices, plump menus

In the face of a meltdown in same-store sales and falling customer counts, some of the biggest names in casual dining -- from Outback Steakhouse to Applebee's to T.G.I. Friday's -- are taking serious actions to try to salvage 2006. Some are even chopping prices.

Excluding the weeks after 9/11, this is the toughest period the industry has faced in nearly a decade, says Richard Snead, CEO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, which owns Friday's.

"This is unprecedented," concurs Paul Avery, COO of OSI Restaurant Partners (OSI), whose brands include Outback. Beginning in November, Outback plans to cut prices across its menu, he says.

I'm reminded of what happened in my town when the largest employer fired thousands of workers and moved many others to other states.  Dozens of restaurants went belly-up...and so did the "no-tell motels" down on South Rd.

Can't see how cutting prices will bring people back. If you haven't got $10 to spend on a meal, you almost certainly haven't got $8 either. It's not as if they are trying to undercut a competitor.
OT, but I like this Tyler Cowen presentation on (pdf warning) Is Globalization Changing the Way the World Eats?

[...] But that being said, not meaning to offend any of you, but overall, going to a shopping mall is not my recipe for how to have great food. A shopping mall typically has good food, not great food. It has predictable food. It has food that a lot of people like, but it does not have this notion of food as adventure, food as obsession. So you go to a shopping mall, the rents are typically high. You need high traffic stores. And you need stores that will appeal to large numbers of people. And you want stores that have brands that are predictable, so you will see a lot of chains and outlets in shopping malls. And in general if you on a street or a place where people go for tourism, you have to worry about the food, because the people who are eating are not that well informed. So if you live in suburbia, my alternative recipe is not the shopping mall, but the strip mall. Now a lot of strip malls look like dumps. You think, ugh, strip mall, Wal-Mart, or PhotoShop, or gee, there are seventeen places in my strip mall and I don't even know what they are, why do I go there? But I will go out on a limb and make a prediction, that the future of American food lies in the American strip mall. Not in the elegant street, not in the shopping, but the future of American food lies in the strip mall. And what does a strip mall have? Because it is ugly, it has low rent. It is not a closed market. There is no Michelin guide for the strip malls. It is an open market, so when immigrants come to this country, they want to start a restaurant, they don't have a lot of money, where do they look? They don't look to the shopping mall, they look to the strip mall. So if I asked myself, where I live, what are my two favorite restaurants? They have both opened in the last year. One is a Cantonese restaurant, the other is a Szechuan restaurant called China Star. They are my two favorites. It's real Chinese food. It's not beef with broccoli and all the rest, it's superb Chinese food with serious cooks. Very cheap restaurants, fantastic food. They are both in strip malls. Not only that, they are in ugly strip malls. One of them is next to a Kinko's. The Szechuan place. The Cantonese place, what is it next to?  Well, it's interesting what proliferates in these strip malls. There is a restaurant next to my Cantonese place, the sign is in Vietnamese , and then there is an English version of it, none of which I can understand, and except for the one word tofu, there are three other words, I've no idea what they mean. [...]

So get thee to the "essential" side of the economy as Westexas says, and get thee to the strip mall for good food, as Tyler says.

I'd noticed that.  Not that it would ever occur to me to go the mall for good food.

But one of my favorite restaurants is an Indian place in a sleazy-looking old strip mall.  Doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside, they've got Culinary Institute of America chefs cooking some really excellent food.  

Come to think of it, the "diamonds in the rough" for food around here are in the ugly sleazy strip malls too. This area is the 1970s in motion and we have plenty of 'em!
Their same store sales suffering probably has as much to do with over-expansion (and the ease of entry into markets by competitors) as it does with the economy.

Are we spending more on gas?  Of course.

Do we have to eat?  Of course.

Only now instead of a handful of "casual dining" places there are two dozen in any given location.  The restaurant row concept taken to extremes.  Of course the industry will have a shakeout.  Five years from now all the weaklings will be gone.

Note: I'm not in that industry now but was for many years, back when they were much more cautious about where to open a Chili's or Outback.  Nowadays it seems any vacant lot is fair game, and they are cannibalizing their own sales from their existing store two miles away, not just their competitor across the street.

"Five years from now all the weaklings will be gone."

Are you expecting an end to the "ease of entry into markets by competitors" ?

I guess I should have said the current crop of weaklings :)

Some of the new competitors are quite well financed.  For example, less than twenty years ago when Outback started, nobody had heard of them (IIRC it was a group of management types from another company, probably old Steak and Ale types).  

Outback has the business sense to survive even a pretty bad downturn in the economy, but they may shutter some of their poorer performers to help consolidate a bit.  Right now they are the #3 casual dining chain and have over 900 restaurants.  And they (normally) just serve dinner.

I find all this a little weird... I live three miles from the biggest shopping mall in the area which has multiples of every type of chain restaurant known to man. It has been years since I ate in one of them (or visited the mall for that matter). My three favorite restaurants are all locally owned family places in stand-alone buildings owned by the family that operates the restaurant. One is a Greek place and the other two have 'smokers' out back to produce that most Southern of treats - barbeque. All serve fresh vegetables. There are some good Chinese and Mexican restaurants in nearby strip malls but they seem to come and go. The various chain restaurants seem to come and go as well since there are always too many of them for the area. I suspect this problem will get worse.
"I think that yuppie food did me in." -Joyce complaining to Harvey after their first date. I always think of this quote when someone drags me to a chain restaurant.
I don't eat chain :-)

A morning before breakfast/lunch meeting of the speakers at the recent Houston Peak Oil conference was proposed ... at Denny's.

I vetoed that and we ended up at a nice local place called "Hungry's".

A lot of these companies are in business to sell franchises, not food. Flash in the pan appearances of their franchises is something that suits them just fine.
What is the chief economist at Goldman Sachs smoking?

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/columnists/all/stories/082506dnbusdimartino.2cd19b8. html

He first says mortgage resets will be small.  Yet he says later:

"This is a payment shock of nearly 10 percent of consumption - almost two orders of magnitude larger than the aggregate impact, and large enough to cause increases in mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures for households unable to refinance," he said.

Can anyone really believe it won't hurt much?  Pass that stuff...

10:45 EST - a tornado warning (yes, warning) has just been issued for New York City.
Now there's something you don't see every day!
gomex water temp is showing to be approx 32.5C

scroll down about 95% of page to see gomex water temps.  

The article above "DOE Predicts Gasoline Shortages" references a recent DOE study. Does anyone have a link to the study?
I think it's the new Hirsch report, which I posted about in an earlier Drum Beat.
I have a question for Westexas and others who have made comments in the same vein.
Many of you keep saying ELP, which I vehemently agree with (for moral reasons even more than PO -I have an incredible hatred of Walmart and its ilk) and you also say to move to the non-discretionary side of the economy, and/or to get a job that will be in demand in a post-PO world.

I'm terribly curious as to what is meant by this. Could you elaborate please? What do you consider the non-discretionary side of the economy? What jobs do you think will be in demand after PO? I think other people might be curious as to your feelings on the subject as well.

How about this for a start? I'm planning to post this sign in front of my house.

Need to have a job done?  
Want to learn to do the job yourself?
Talk to me about trading goods or your services for services or training in the following areas:

Food Canning
Bicycle Repair and Maintenance
Tree and Shrub Pruning
House Painting (In & Out)
Knife and Tool Sharpening
Straight Razor Honing

Working together, we can create a self-sustaining community.
I'd like to get to know you, neighbor!

From recent posts here, how about starting thine own moving company?
It's pretty easy to list the things not to get into--entertainment; travel; etc.

Perhaps the best way to analyze the situation would be to go back and see who did the best, or more accurately, suffered the least, in the Great Depression.

Food and energy (and energy conservation) are the big two.  Working for a local utility might be a great idea.  Some others might be repair and maintenance; local manufacturing (local shoe making for example).    As Jim Kunstler said, we are not going to have the 10,000 mile supply lines from China much longer.   In regard to the teaching question above, I would recommend teaching people how to grow and can their own food.

First and foremost you have to free yourself from the American suburban "dream," which is rapidly becoming the American suburban nightmare.  An interesting question would be to determine what percentage of total American after tax income goes to pay for housing and transportation related expenses.   Key recommendation:  small housing unit close to where you work, or along a mass transit line.

This may sound a little cold blooded, but you might want to think about being aggressive about volunteering for a pay cut, if you know that job cutbacks are coming (I volunteered for a 50% pay cut in 1989, in exchange for equity interest in oil deals, which worked to my advantage).  If you can aggressively cut your cost of living, it gives you a competitive advantage over others who are still driving debt ridden SUV's to and from large suburban mortgages.

Increasingly, conspicuous consumption is going to be seen as both stupid and as socially unacceptable--instead of a sign of wealth.  Conspicuous consumption will also make you more of a target.  

I'm going to talk to some people next week about picking up a contract in my semi-retirement.  It's kinda funny from the TOD perspective ... software for automotive dealers ;-)

I'll try to salt the money away, and see what's happening from that perspective.

It's pretty easy to list the things not to get into--entertainment; travel; etc.

And yet...as others have pointed out, Hollywood did very well during the Great Depression.  People needed an escape.  

Even today, in developing nations, poor people sell their blood and spend money that's supposed to feed their hungry children on movie tickets.

Robert McKee, in Story, says his mother told him to go into the entertainment business, for the sake of job security.  She believed that no matter what, people would always need entertainment.  (He took her advice and became a screenwriter.)

"Conspicuous consumption will also make you more of a target."

I think this will be the big difference from the 30's.

In the 30's there was a great deal of "I won't beg or steal, I have my pride"  type of moral fiber.

Today with "Grand Theft Auto" type morals, It will be more "Your Money And/or Your life"  I fear.

Most people down and out in the near future "Know where the rich live" and will want to visit them and "Share" that potroast...


I think that the demand and need for the field I'm training for (psychology) will only go up in a Post-PO world, as will the need for good ministers. Though I also think that when the economy goes south, it won't pay worth a darn. But I'm expecting that; I'm not going into this field for money, after all, and I can survive on almost nothing. But I do have several skills that I could use to make money in such a case -gardening (in two or three years I hope to go for my master's cert), canning and preserving, sewing, various crafts. Real engineering work (building bridges and houses, using pulleys, etc, things that require more effort than writing computer code and actually involve interaction with people). If nothing else, I could find some copper tubing, some grain, and practice `chemistry' in my garage, ala my moonshining ancestors.

Btw westexas, I'm currently planning on a 60% reduction in income in January, as I'm starting full time at school. I'd like to have my degree sometime before my children enter college!

"I think that the demand and need for the field I'm training for (psychology) will only go up in a Post-PO world, as will the need for good ministers. Though I also think that when the economy goes south, it won't pay worth a darn."

What you lose out on in individual pay, you'll more than make up for in volume.

"As Jim Kunstler said, we are not going to have the 10,000 mile supply lines from China much longer."

I don't agree with Kunstler.  As is indicated elsewhere today on TOD, the fuel consumption of water born transport drops dramatically with speed.  The stuff may be at sea longer, but it will still come.  China offers Das Kapital disciplined, educated labour at a low price.  You are going to have to propose a personal paycut in excess of 50% to compete for Das Kapitalist's favour.

I do expect more cabbage and less lettuce in my diet for the bulk of year though.

You are going to have to propose a personal paycut in excess of 50% to compete for Das Kapitalist's favour.

And I think it's going to happen.

Trade routes are as old as man.  We'll still get stuff from everywhere it's just NOT going to be J-I-T for ANYTHING.  And it won't be near as large in terms of volume or nominal value.  We will still be trading though.
I'm sure we will.  But trade goods will be luxury items, not staples.
This is true.  Travel used to be expensive, it will be again and this will force many items to become luxury if they are demanded as such.
How should we define staples?  

I agree that the downward pressure on income will be relentless and one by one, we will buckle.  I think it important to prepare people to resist the inevitable spin from servants of the comfortable that the new poor, like the old poor, have only themselves to blame (most intellectuals), or that this is all fate (various holy book thumpers).

We could define staples as goods for which there is always latent demand, i.e. which do not need to have demand created for them through consumerist advertising.

Most of what China sells us does not qualify by that standard.

ie: spices, gold, silver, slaves. should give you a rough idea.
Trade from China? Where do we think China will be 10-15 years from now? How about lost in coal fired smoke, with no drinking water left, turning into a desert unable to produce the most basic food for its people?  

The by far largest human mass migration is still gaining speed, we're talking 200-250 million people in 2015, stuck in unliveable cities, while back home the old farm is either too polluted, disowned, or swallowed up by factories or hydro-projects.

China's future is at least as much of a dark enigma as the US is in a post peak world. And it's a reasonable guess that export might be a tad low on their list of priorities. At least consumer goods. They will have lots of people.

Not to mention the 15 million homeless refugees from the current crop of typhoons.


15 Million People!! It makes Katrina look like a cakewalk -- which it was anything but

So maybe the world is having the worst hurricane season ever.

China is colonizing Siberia right now, sub rosa. Expect that to turn overt. Lots of lovely land in Kamchatka.
Remember that the words "tea" and "clipper" go together.
entertainment did well during the depression.
"entertainment did well during the depression."

Well, there is entertainment and there is entertainment.  

Consider Las Vegas, Orlando, expensive concerts, etc.   Also look at the cost of a family of four watching a DVD versus going out to the movies.  

I have frequently asked if anyone (living outside these areas) would have noticed if Las Vegas and Orlando disappeared off the face of the earth.  

Like everything else, cheap entertainment will do vastly better than expensive entertainment.  

In a black comedy fashion, it will be entertaining to see the stars and Hollywood moguls fighting over a declining entertainment dollar.   The Tom Cruise/Paramount fight is just Round One.

I've taken to making post-peak jokes/comments to friends/acquaintances/strangers.

For example, when I plan on blowing someone off, I tell them, "I'll pick you up in my stagecoach, post-peak!"

There's a guy two floors up who gets around so much that when he's in his office, we say that he's, "between sex."  Condoms are petroleum-based, right?  There's gotta be a joke in there somewhere.

I asked my taxi driver the other day, "What do you plan on doing, post-peak?"

His answer (note that this man was Pakistani): "What do you need?  I am here for you."

Seriously though, post-peak, i'm thinking about doing a low-budget stand-up tour, just biking from lifeboat to lifeboat.  I'm trying to line up BP (begin peddaling) as my sponsor, and maybe Oil CEO as my straight man.

If you can get Paris Hilton as the lead, I'm there.
True, but you may be surprised by the kind of entertainment that does well.  For example, Playstation/Nintendo systems and games are very popular with poor families.  Foolish waste of limited resources?  Not really.  Though the cost of of the game system and games are high, they provide a lot more hours of entertainment for the buck than other forms of entertainment like movies or books.  A game may cost $50, but you can play it for weeks or months.  
Think about what people will still need, or will perhaps need more of. Maintenence of almost any item will probably be in high demand, from electronics to septic systems. Handyman services. Brewing beer or other alcoholic drinks. Growing plants for sale. Teaching, although that might depend a bit on what you can teach. Animal husbandary. Installation of energy and water saving (or producing) devices. Drawing construction and renovation plans (I hope!) These are just some that pop into my head right now...
being a cop in a police state is always a good bet
also a job in a morgue or a funeral home : )
have a nice weekend
11:07 - NYC tornado warning cancelled.

I'll bet somebody is trying to figure out how to blame something like this on Bin Laden.  Now that would be the ultimate spin (I'm sorry...)

No, no -- don't be sorry. I think it's Iran's weather making machine, built with Russian technology and funded by those wily Chinese from Wal-Mart dollars and US T-bills...


Could this be a weather machine?

Mehr News: A translation by Ardeshir Dolati
MehrNews.com, one of regime's news agencies has just reported in its Farsi section (but not in English) that within the next few days the regime will announce a major breakthrough in its nuclear activities.

Mehrnews.com reports that according to their source, the breakthrough as the result of Iranian nuclear scientist's research is of huge importance. The source declined to give further details and stated that the news will be announced by a high-ranking office-holder soon.

In regards to the article on Russia spinning a global energy spider's web, How is it that the status quo in the US is not screwed? It sounds like producer countries are collaborating (or is it colluding? They're in cahoots anyway) with other eastern powerhouse countries to shut the US off from oil and prosperity.

So, the US has the world up against it with no oil to burn and nothing of value to sell to the world. Sounds to me like we're going the way of Cuba pretty soon. You'd better get your gardening skills in order.

If I remember correctly, the US still produces about 15% of the traded btu's in the world.  Up against the wall of greed as consumption is in the neighbourhood of 25% of the total.
Not fully agreeing with your premise, but pretend I am for a second and answer: and whos fault is this anyway?

Most problems are of our own making.

I couldn't agree with you more. I don't pretend to blame anyone else (except perhaps GM, Standard Oil, and Firestone).

But that brings an interesting thought to mind. I'm a product of all of the collective decisions and schemes of our society that came before me. I'm just trying to get by like everyone else, to have a good life in the system I live in.

We Americans of late seem to like to feel ashamed of all of the destruction and injustice and consumption we're a part of. How can I not feel ashamed and guilty as an American?
Saying "Whose fault is this anyway?" totally disregards the fact that I'm just a spec in this world and, as a spec, I didn't really have that much to do with where we're at today. Isn't the fault squarely on the shoulders of GM, Standard Oil, Firestone, Exxon, The Federal Reserve Bank, the WTO, the MSM, and all of the entities that manipulate the system and people for their own profit, all the while understanding that their short-term gains are going to bring us all to ruin?

Seriously, WTF can I do in order to not feel like this mess is my fault? I'm pretty powerless in the grand scheme of things. I hold little hope that this will end well.

You're right in that we should not be held accountable for the sins of our forefathers. We were not even around in those times, so how could we possibly have had any impact on them or hold any guilt? But we are around today, and for those of us who recognize that their is a problem, we have a duty and responsibility to make choices in our own lives to minimize our part in the problem. I could not look my future children in the eyes if I had to explain to them "yes, I helped trade your future away so that I could buy cheap plastic stuff at Wal-mart".
What you can do is take control of your personal actions. And if you're the activist type, try to make a difference in the wider world.

Maybe it won't save the world. Maybe it won't even save yourself. But that's not the point. The point is to try. 'To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'

WTF can we do, indeed.

What we, the people, need to do is wrest control of our government back. America was founded with an idealistic premise in mind - that the people should actually rule themselves, not hereditary elites, monetary elites and connected elites.

Great idea, not holding up so well in practice. Turns out the masses are easily lulled into complacency. Our leaders talk all about "Freedom", but my cynical eye sees more of a docile, hidden, serfdom than anything.

We, the people, have allowed this to happen. Forgetting that big business leaders pull their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us, we've generally allowed ourselves to be cowed into accepting whatever comes down the pike without asking rational questions like "does this really make sense" or "is this path truly sustainable" and "what about the rest of the world"?

We follow along the path, mere specs to use your words, because willingly, or unknowingly, we've allowed ourselves as a mass to become politically impotent. Our periodic elections provide the guise of "freedom" and democracy but in the bigger picture the system as it stands today is far from free and democratic.

How do we wrest control, fight the entrenched media and intentional misinformation distribution - the propaganda? Hey, this site is one such mechanism. Do we have enough tools and people power to make change happen, do demand that the status quo simply isn't good enough? Probably, but the forces are poorly organized on a global and country basis.

Sadly I think its going to take massive shocks to our system to wake people out of their happy ipod-enhanced stupor and see the world clearly.

I'm no left-wing nutbar... I'm a card carrying conservative who is deeply disappointed with our current conservatives in power.

I walk a similar ideological path....we've been had and all of us are paying.

You might try looking into the Free State Project.


They're trying to get a critical mass of people to move to NH to take control at the state level.

I live in Mass, but from what I can tell NH is one of the few places left that values personal freedom.  "Live free or die"


Oh, my.  It reminds of the group that is trying to get rightwing Christians to move to South Carolina, so they can take over the government and create a Christian state.

And people wonder why I don't think the United States will survive as one nation (under god or not).

While I personally am not in South Carolina, and am not particurally religious, this doesn't bother me at all.

We need the ferderal govt like we need a hole in the head.  If we got rid of the federal income tax, and left things at the state level, I have every confidence we could turn things around.

The difference between trying to contact your federal reps vs your state reps is night and day.  At the state level they really need your vote.

And the best part is that if I didn't like what my State was doing, I'd have 49 other choices of places to move too, with no citizenship worries.

And the best part is that if I didn't like what my State was doing, I'd have 49 other choices of places to move too, with no citizenship worries.

What makes you think that?

Point taken.  I suppose I might not be quite as free to move about as I think.  Still, the idea of 50 states that would welcome me, all with their own benefits and drawbacks sounds wonderful.
If TSHTF, I think "keeping out the undesirables" will be a big part of politics, local and otherwise.  We'll be facing "overcrowded lifeboat syndrome," with people fleeing bad areas en masse and those already there trying to keep them out.  
After discussing state vs federal gov'ts with my fiance last night it got me thinking.  I know of one city here in MO, Kingdom city, that attempted to become it's own "kingdom" during the civil war.  They weren't in federal or state hands, but that was squashed as we flipped sides to the Union.

History has a way of repeating albeit not exact, I wonder when states begin to do something about the federal govt.  Then again what the hell can states do about all this?

i think it was mark twain that said.
history doesn't repeat but it does rhyme.
Vermont is also talking about succession.
I'm no left-wing nutbar... I'm a card carrying conservative who is deeply disappointed with our current conservatives in power.

My question is: if liberals were right all along about the so-called conservatives (actually extremists) currently in power, exactly who are the "nutbars?" Those who knew that evil was coming from afar off, of those who identified with said extremists until it became apparent even to the densest among them that something was amiss?

For my money, the term "nutbar" would best be applied to anyone who ever supported this mis-administration.

I wonder if Nader will run again in 2008?  

I'm sick of most of the frickin Democrats and Republicans in power right now.

Voting these days makes me almost want to puke knowing the futility of the action and the waste of emotional energy involved.

I'm not sure who you can really blame right now for the current situation our government is in.  The ones in Power or the ones that have allowed those to come to Power without a fight.

Or the one's who let the wrong ideas take hold.
Voting these days makes me almost want to puke knowing the futility of the action and the waste of emotional energy involved.

Which begs the question: what's going to happen when it becomes obvious even to the masses that both parties basically stand for the same thing, and that the election process presents no real alternatives?

find a good place to hide.
this system can't be changed from the inside.
those in power have made it so that you can't get to the actual seats of power unless you sell out to those same people.
I regretted the "nutbar" term right after I pressed post. What I meant to say is that there are plenty of "conservatives" who agree, in lock step, with the middle, and the left, of the political spectrum that our current 'conservative' governments - not just in the US but  in many major countrys - are leading us astray big time.

So what I ought to have said in order to not be misconstrued is that my comments above might be painted by certain on the right as having been made by a "left wing" activist, but in fact they are coming from a concerned conservative.

Sadly political labels aren't very helpful in portraying where ones head and heart are. Many right wing ideologues would find some of my ideas rather "lefty". Myself I prefer common sense to ideology anytime. The current administration is sorely lacking in common sense. Sadly I doubt any new admin will address the issues we are facing with sufficient vigor and depth.

Absolutely agreed that political labelling will not provide a viable solution. People from all ideological stripes are going to have to wake up to the reality that the current poltical system will not protect their livelihoods.

There are people trying to address this.

"Our goal is not to create a whole new Party from top to bottom, but to give a jolt of reality to today's parties. "

Seriously, WTF can I do in order to not feel like this mess is my fault?

I find comfort and clearity from Hellingers work and, especially, participating in workshops using his method. It's a way to learn a lot more on (collective) guilt and finding your own walk in life, taking responsibility and respect the way others did that before us.

Seriously, that's what you could do. All the best!

From the Hellinger website linked above by Splinter (thanks!), this story really hit home for me. My take on it is to live life for the simple joys. Thinking about life in this way certainly helps put me at ease in regards to trying to change the course of history.

Two Good Fortunes

Long, long ago, when the gods still seemed close to us, two singers named Orpheus lived in a little town.

One of them was the Great Orpheus. He invented the Chithara, a kind of guitar, and when he plucked the strings and sang, the whole of nature around him was spellbound. The wild animals lay at his feet, the tallest trees bent down to hear. Nothing could resist the power of his music. And because he was so great, he courted the most beautiful of all women. That's when his trouble started.

The beautiful Eurydike died during the wedding festivities, and Orpheus' cup, raised high, broke in his hand. But for the Great Orpheus, death was not the end. With the help of his great art, he found the entrance to the underworld and descended into the realm of shadows, crossed the river of forgetting, passed the hounds of hell, and appeared alive before the throne of the god of death and touched him with a song.

Death set Eurydike free, but with a string attached. Orpheus was so happy that he didn't notice the malice in this boon.

He started back and behind him he could hear the footsteps of his beloved. They safely passed the hounds of hell and crossed the river of forgetting and began to climb toward the light which they could see in the distance. Suddenly, Orpheus heard a cry-Eurydike had stumbled. In panic, he turned and saw the shadows of the night fall, and he was alone. Beside himself from pain, he sang his parting song, "Now I've lost her. My happiness is gone forever."

He managed to get back to the world of light, but his experiences in the realm of the dead made life seem strange. As drunken women invited him to go with them to the festival of the new wine, he refused, and they tore him living limb from limb.

So great his unhappiness, so useless his art. But, he is known in all the world.

The other Orpheus was a smaller man. He wasn't a great musician. He sang at little parties and played for simple people. He wasn't very successful, but he made them happy and he had a lot of fun. He couldn't make a living singing, so he got an job that wasn't very special, married an woman that wasn't very special and had children that weren't very special either. He committed small and ordinary sins from time to time and was just about as happy as everyone else. He had a very ordinary life and died old and satisfied with life.

But, no one knows him -- except me.

It wouldn't have to be the way of Cuba if U.S. strategy is ultimately to use military force to seize whatever resources the "national interest" requires. That's what scares me.
From a WiFi near my father's hospital.
Limited time for lunch (sorry)

Are the editors of TOD interested in using this as a core of a response ?


The recent Peak Oil mitigation study, Economic Impacts of U.S. Liquid Fuel Mitigation Options prepared by Hirsch, Bezdek and Wendling for the Department of Energy overlooked the "best" solution.  This overlooked approach can have a quicker and larger impact than any one of the proposed mitigations; and quite possibly more than all production orientated approachs together.  In extremis, it is technically and socially possible (see historical precedents below) for this one solution plus declining US domestic production to provide all of our transportation needs without resorting to coal-to-liquids, oil shale or accelerated enhanced oil recovery.  And do so in an environmentally positive way without any significant environmental obstacles to slow implementation.

The first of the two linked, and overlooked, approaches is to electrify our inter-city freight railroads (with some enhancements) and promote inter-modal transfers with free market and other incentives (such as Interstate Highway tolls). The DoE study states "...trains... simply have no ready alternative to liquid fuels".  This is clearly untrue for this particular mode for the time scales of the study.  The only existing capital good affected, diesel-electric locomotives, can be easily rebuilt or replaced with cheaper electric locomotives for a "trivial" expenditure.

The other overlooked approach is to build Urban Rail on a scale at least comparable to (or more intensely than) the Interstate Highway system.

A conservative estimate, based on a major but not a crash effort, is that these two approaches can save 10% of US Oil use in ten to twelve years.  (See attached paper).  A crash effort could do more today than the "Peak Streetcar" building era from 1897 to 1916.  As a nation of less than 100 million people, a majority still rural, with a GNP (inflation adjusted) of just ~3% of today and quite primitive technology, the United States built 500 streetcar systems.  Most towns of 25,000 and larger got electrified transportation.  Clearly the United States has the technology and resources to do much more today than a century ago.

In addition, electric trolley buses and enhanced transportation bicycling can provide vital links in a non-oil transportation system.  Electric assisted "tricycles" can service a broad spectrum of the population with a non-oil alternative for local travel, such as to the closest electric rail stop or neighborhood grocery.

The changes in the urban form brought about by an abundance of electrified Urban Rail and a paucity of liquid transportation fuels would be of the magnitude of the changes brought about by deliberate federal policy from 1950 to 1970; when almost all downtown shopping and business districts died, most established neighborhoods declined and suburbia and shopping malls boomed.

We did it once, we can do it again !

Oil, or "Liquid Transportation Fuels", are not required to support an advanced Western industrial society with a vibrant democracy and a decent quality of life.  A premier example is Switzerland of WW II.  Due to strategic decisions made in the 1920s, and subsequent investments, they were able to function with 1/400th of current US per capita oil use in 1945.  Three years later, they were still at 7% of current US oil use, a level that would allow the United States of today to join OPEC as the 3rd or 4th largest oil exporter.

In a more recent strategic decision, Swiss voters approved in 1998 a twenty year, 31 billion Swiss franc program to improve their already excellent electric rail system.  Adjusted for population and currency, this is equivalent to the United States voting $1 trillion !  The dominant goal, of several goals, is to move all heavy freight by electric rail and not truck.  Semi-high speed passenger service, improved rural access and quieter rail cars are other Swiss goals.

The Swiss are not alone in taking strongly pro-active actions to get off oil today.  The Thais have budgeted 550 billion baht (~US$14 billion) for mass transit, are building a 95% renewable electricity grid and developing small scale rural bio-gas.  All from a Third World economy of 60 million people !  And the French are in the midst of adding one tram line to every town of 150,000 and two tram lines to every city of 250,000 as well as finishing their renowned TGV system.   Sweden and Finland are setting goals and deadlines for an oil-less society.  Even Russia is rapidly electrifying their railroads.  All of the above are working towards solutions that significantly reduce Global Warming emissions as well as significantly reducing oil dependence.

Electric rail and associated changes in development have, unlike the production alternatives studied in the report, a negative feedback relationship with tight oil supplies and an ability to scale up very quickly.  The more expensive oil becomes, the more effective Urban Rail and electrified freight railroad will become; thereby dampening the social and economic impact of Peak Oil.  Of the approaches studied, this is true of only increased vehicle efficiency.   And in a sudden oil supply interruption, both Urban Rail and electrified freight can be scaled up by 50% to 100% in a week if prior preparations have been made.  This is not true of any other alternative proposed.

Coal-to-Liquids and Canadian tar sands use similar, and scarce, speciality industrial products and scarce personnel.  Several key industrial products and personnel are bottlenecks today in the limited expansion of Canadian tar sands production.  These existing shortages, with associated cost over-runs and delays, call into question the extremely aggressive schedule in the DoE paper.  Enhanced Oil Recovery likewise competes with conventional oil and natural gas production for critically scarce resources.

By contrast, there is a large and robust international industrial base supporting the very large installed base of electrified rail.  This international support can easily supplement any domestic shortfalls and allow massive implementation quickly.

Electric rail, Urban & Inter-city, vehicle efficiency, electric trolley buses and transportation bicycling are the best alternatives available and can, by themselves, potentially deal with the consequences of Peak Oil.  All of these approaches are better environmentally, economically, socially and for strategic security;  they can be scaled up faster and will not suffer as much from industrial and personnel shortages.  There is no technological risk with electrified rail, unlike the extreme risks associated with oil shale and substantial technological risks with large scale CTL and EOR.  

By every reasonable metric, the first alternatives listed are "better" than CTL and oil shale production.

The DoE study has one very large, unrealistic and unstated assumption; "More than doubling US transportation carbon emissions will have minimal political opposition and will not slow implementation".  One reading of the political tea leaves is that CTL and Oil Shales will only be pursued if they are carbon neutral.  One political strategy is to balance carbon positive CTL & Oil Shale recovery with carbon negative Urban Rail and railroad electrification (both with ~20 to 1 energy efficiency gains) in a carbon neutral program.  This may be the only politically possible program that involves CTL and Oil Shales.

The crisis of Peak Oil may require that all alternatives, the best and the sub-optimal, be aggressively pursued.  But the best alternatives should be pursued first, most aggressively and most complete l

FWIW, I suspect that I "overuse" quotation marks on ceratain words.  Maybe I'm sensitive to the punctuation for that reason.  Why not just say better, and best?
"The dominant goal, of several goals, is to move all heavy freight by electric rail and not truck."

Alan, to be taken seriously by the folks you are addressing, you need to be realistic, in their terms and by some objective measure.  This 'realism' needs to cover process and objectives.  I don't see it in your letter.

It is not feasible under any probable scenario that all heavy freight (this expression is not clear) can be moved by rail, electric or otherwise.  Even in the heyday of rail, much freight, was moved by teamsters, driving teams of horses or oxen and then truck.  

No question in my mind that peak oil requires a massive expansion of rail and an end to road warehousing (just-in-time inventory management).  A trend in this direction (expansion of rail) is already discernible. I'm sure you're aware of the growth of intermodal loadings.  But intermodal is just that, intermodal, two or more modes of transport.  

We are not going to get in the forseeable future sidings leading into every job centre. Even if the capital could be raised, and I doubt it given the opportunity costs, I question whether the energy invested in such a project would be less than sticking with local truck delivery.

I would suggest that you concentrate your message on the value of investment of resources, public and private, in medium and long-haul movement by rail (and boat), wherever possible.  I think your letter should at least reference concerns that policy makers have with rail, especially monopoly pricing and its implications of economic re-regulation of transportation.  I suspect it very likely that these concerns lie at the heart of the view of Hirsch et al that a major shift to rail is in the cards.

A major shift to rail challenges the economic orthodoxies of de-regulation, privatization, just-in-time inventory management, and probably others.  Hirsch et al are surely experienced enough to know that ideological orthodoxy upheld by vested interest adds up to enormous amount of inertia.

I don't mean to discourage you.  I commend you entirely for your efforts and share your goals.  I also commend you for the love and support you are providing your father.  Therein lies a true cornerstone of civilisation.

"I suspect it very likely that these concerns lie at the heart of the view of Hirsch et al that a major shift to rail is in the cards."  Should read in NOT in the cards.
My 10% Reduction in Oil Use paper (which I note will be attached) suggests a 10 to 12 year goal of transfering half of the ton-miles of heavy inter-city trucks to rail.

It also suggests lifting property taxes from railroads that electrify (thus encouraging putting back double tracks, intermodal transfer points, etc.).  This may be all the incentive needed :-)

I do think that transfering 98% to 99% of the current volume of intercity heavy truck to rail is a doable goal in a couple of decades.  "Last mile" delivery within an Urban area is not intercity freight.

One can see tracks still embedded into city streets where rail spurs went to many "smaller" warehouses and businesses.  I can see that pattern returning post-Peak Oil.  Not 100% but 90+% of shipments may end up not being intermodal.

The savings from avoiding an intermodal transfer, more than the diesel for a short shuttle, will give those businesses on a rail spur a competitive advantage.  In the "dynamic destruction" of today's market, new replaces old and the new will focus on the lowest cost location.  Formerly easy access to an Interstate was essential (see WalMart distribution centers), soon being on a rail spur will be required.

My non-crisis solution for Urban Rail is 90% Federal Funding (just like the building of the Interstate Highways) with two paths.  A stream-lined FTA process, where the gov't reviews and approves plans and 90% "up front".  The other is for richer cities that "just build it" and get "after the fact" matching (half to be used for future expansion) based upon performance.  90% if they meet federal goals, 82%, 61%, 43% etc. depending on how short of those goals they got.

Two papers of mine:



1 Trillion over 20 years is 50 billion/year.  Or about 1/7th of our current budget deficit.

Seems doable.

Since this WOULD be gov't issued, lets at least double the price, just to be honestly lying a bit.
SBB, Swiss Rail, is a gov't owned corporation.  They were interested in bidding on a UK pax rail contract but wanted longer terms.  They have a superb reputation for efficiency, far better than any US RR for example.

I think a "management contract" to the Swiss would be a good idea.

The Swiss started with the best run rail system in the world (arguments from Japan) with a solid infrastructure and they are improving it.  IMHO, Switzerland is more than half ready for Peak Oil, but NOT 100%.  They will need to do more. But what they HAVE done in the past and are doing today gives them a very solid base to "finish the job".

I would be THRILLED with $1 trillion in the US today.  A lot of essential stuff post-Peak Oil could be done with that.

But Hirsch talks of a minimum of $2.6 trillion (and then says it could be easily twice that) for CTL, oil shales (powered by coal fired plants) and enhanced oil recovery over twenty years.

The US, starting where it is at, makes $1 trillion over twenty years a very decent down payment.

There is something else you can work in, the phenomenal cost of maintaining the Interstate/State system. There is no end of stories about the price of asphalt and dirt tripling and states deferring maintenance. OK, you defer half your road projects this year because they are too expensive. What is that situation going to look like next year and the year after? Better? Is it Kunstler makes the point when the axle breaks on the semi, that's the end of California produce? [Oh, right, we'll fly it in.] The maintenance angle gives you an in to the planning board and budget sessions, legislative committee on transportation, etc.... The don't HAVE the money any more, so they cannot continue business as usual.

The Swiss political system, the Cantons, that's a Peak Oil thing too. But for another day....

I'd like to steal this for a press release if I may. :-)

cfm in Gray, ME

Sadly, most Americans have absolutely no concept of how expensive roads are to build or maintain.  They're under the impression that not only do gas taxes cover the whole cost but there is a huge surplus left over that is spent on welfare queens and other left wing social projects.  The ironic thing is that the interstate system is one of the largest socialist building projects in the history of the world.

No, it's welfare for the capitalists. Your gas taxes subsidise the trucking companies.

Why is road maintenance so expensive? It's not because the roads are poorly made. It's because the heavy trucks destroy them.

If you eliminate everything over (say) ten tons (some arbitrary number, I'm not a specialist), then your road maintenance requirement practically disappears. Small trucks delivering over the last few miles from the railhead, this is the sustainable model.

They are quite the piggies eatting from the trough.  The state DOT is looking into adding Truck Only Toll (TOT) lanes.  The road freight companies have said they will allow it only if they are allowed to use the free lanes in addition to the toll lanes.  I know they pay higher license fees than private automobiles and that's why they claim they should be able to still use the free lanes.  I have no idea if the math adds up.

Trucking is hard on roads and I've seen a huge amount of damage done by just one truck with an overweight cargo load.  But when you throw in the costs of roads that have been externalized (especially if you take away the DOT's mostly unlimited power to use eminent domain), I don't believe that even without trucks that roads could pay for themselves through current gas taxes, but since I don't have the numbers to back up that statement, I'm not going to dwell on it.

Louisiana was "considering" tolls on the Interstate Highways when an R senator attacked the concept.  IMHO, this will be the only way to maintain them.  And a good way to promote rail shipments :-)

You are welcome to use the draft "in toto" or just concepts.  I would like to know the forum and final wording (just curious).

Best Hopes,


Fortune on Getting real about the real estate bubble

Homeowners just saw their wealth shrink, by a lot. The numbers will only get worse. It's time to examine the clichés that the "experts" - chiefly analysts and economists from realtors and mortgage associations - used to convince Americans that what they're seeing now could never happen. Here are the four great housing myths - and why they never made much sense in the first place.
You know it gets serious when Fortune /CNN start publishing these kinds of stories. They are still subdued, but at the same time quite clear.

Canadian TV last night took a first step, and reported on US housing. 1 segment on how bad US prices are being hit, a 2nd one on how, as explained by Canadian "experts" (yes, housing agents), this would never happen in Canada. Sleep well, and don't worry.

But as Lon Witter said: when the housing finance market goes, so does the entire economy.

There's something else going on: the housing bubble is in reality a money bubble. If 50 million US homes each lose an average 10% in value, say $20.000, 1 trillion dollars disappear out of the economy. This can happen in weeks. And 20 or 30% are very possible.
Where does the money go? Well, where it came from: thin air.

King Hubbert wrote about money and economy (steady state theories) when he took a break from linearization. He talked about the Great Depression ("I had a front seat", and asked people to wonder why an economy that had ample resources, and millions of people willing to work, was brought to a standstill. Same thin air.

Just had a long talk with a person in the media, related to the transportation industry  (as close as I can get to identifying the source).  This person is trying to write an article about energy, Peak Oil and transportation issues, and is trying to see what he/she can get by with.

Interesting statistic:  one auto dealer noted that 60% of his new car buyers were $10,000 or more upside down on their old cars, i.e., 60% or more of his new car buyers were rolling $10,000 or more into loans on the new cars.   Note that Ford is now offering zero percent loans to buyers with poor credit histories.

This is not going to end well.

yea i been seeing more then a few ads on tv with them offering 0% loans.
My boss is getting calls from this banker all day today.  I guess he called about some type of loan and now this guy is harassing him for his business.
one auto dealer noted that 60% of his new car buyers were $10,000 or more upside down on their old cars

Boy, these astounding factoids keep rolling in.  I'd say it was an "unbelievable" factoid if other loan, savings, equity, news hadn't been heading this way ...

Morgan-Stanley's Stephen Roach's friday article is about it too.

US: Another Post-Bubble Shakeout

Five and a half years ago the equity bubble popped.  Within six months, the US economy went into mild recession, and the global economy was quick to follow.  Today, America 's housing bubble is finally bursting.  Is the die cast for another bubble-induced downturn in the US and global economy?


Last time they turned on the fire hoses of free money(it was free in real terms) and flooded the market.  What happens when they do it again?
What happens if they do it again: the price of gold explodes and the dollar goes through the floor. NB: in the event of severe inflation (as Roach well knows), the Fed can't tighten as it did under Volcker because household balance sheets couldn't stand it. Too many adjustable rate mortgages would reset at rates high enough to force widespread defaults. Too many banks would be stuck with high levels of sour loans. Under this scenario the FDIC would take a large hit and might even need a taxpayer funded bailout, as the savings and loans did in 1989.

Most people know that under normal circumstances priority one for the Fed is to fight inflation and priority two is to facilitate full employment. But when the garbage hits the fan one priority trumps all others: to preserve the safety and soundness of the banking system.

Right now Bernanke's job is one of the toughest there is.

I agree on the outcome, and I also firmly believe inflation is what the FED will choose.  Remember this is Mr Helicoptor himself.  He wants to drop money out of thin air and he CAN do it now.

So declaring bankrupcty sounds better each day.  After all, where would the world flee too with their debt based assets?  CHINA?  Reason what would happen in the case that we did declare bankruptcy.  China isn't going to support the world, and neither is Europe.  Russia?  They can't even replace themselves, so I think not.  We may lose the petrodollar, but then again it would be difficult for the world market to adapt to a new paradigm in energy trading, but it could happen.  It's so what if, that it's hard to say, but the way things are going it's not working.

The FED is warming to the idea.
http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/06/07/Kotlikoff.pdf#search=%22is%20the%20US%20ban krupt%22

I like it too the more I think about it.

The Fed is already doing it.  Inflation is crazy.  

My mother called me this morning to tell me her hairdresser went up $20.  $5 on the haircut, and $15 more for the die.

The pizza I had for lunch today was .95/slice 1 year ago.  It's 1.10 today.

Gasoline has increased 250% in 4 years.

The peanut butter I like has gone from 1.99 to 2.79.

Going out for drinks in the city is ridiculous now.  Most places are getting $4.50 - $6 for a beer.  Mixed drinks are $6 - $8.  Fancy Martini's are $12 at any sort of nice place.

The list goes on and on.

The problem is - who in the American public wants to save?  You put your hard earned money in the bank - earn 5%, and then the govt takes 30% off the top.  Not to mention inflation is running at 8%.  Might as well spend it and have a good time.

This would be OK if we weren't using that house to finance the party.  Investing in yourself seems the only possibility to beat inflation.
In a high inflation economy, people have incentive to not save and instead to... buy and consume. Interesting that, eh?

Anyway, in a high inflation economy, your earnings are better off turned into hard assets. Gold, tools, land, property, etc.

And further, if you get a fixed rate mortgage and believe that the inflationary process is going to run for a while before things get worse, and that certain property values will not crash badly, then get that mortgage. If you can earn the inflated dollars to pay off your property downstream, you will come out ahead.

Finally, note that people in Texas during the S&L crisis who still had jobs could often renegotiate their loan with their lender. Often if the market is flooding with properties that banks and such cannot dump quickly, they will decide it's better to get some fraction of the original loan's value than nothing at all. A few people I know here in Texas renegotiated mortgages as much as in half and kept their houses. So, if you have good property, perhaps a farm or a ranch, or good urban property, you might be able to renegotiate if things start to get really ugly. That banker would rather have some income than none when he has 10,000 other properties producing no income at all.

My father says a fixed rate mortgage means being able to sleep at night.

I've been pondering the inflation/deflation argument for 5 years.  Finally bought a house last year.  I'm still worried about deflation, but I don't think a long term protracted deflation is politically palatable.  The future US debt obligations are completely unmanageable.  Running the printing press is the only viable solution.

A paid off mortgage makes sleep even better ;-)

As does having a couple of million in the bank.  ;)
in the bank ...

Are you sure?

Renegotiation Planner.  Renegotiation Planning 101 Professor. Executive-Director of the Association of Renegotiation Planners.

We have forever displayed a social impulse to find a sustainable way to distribute the low entropy we access as we can and must. We socialize our children, directing them to patterns of behaviour that benefit our survival on an individual and collective level.  I doubt that the labour market can escape this social impulse post-peak, anymore than it has pre-peak and I doubt that we will do anyworse of a job socializing our children.  So the commitment to social protocols will remain, even if values shift.

The labour market, like any other, needs a distributive mechanism.  Job descriptions lubricate that process. Creativitiy will out.  It comes encoded.  The so-called dark ages were a local event.  Old descriptions will morph into new meanings.  New ones will flower.

In any post-peak scenario born of rational consideration, we will still in our billions be accessing low entropy the day, the week, the year, the decade...after the peak is officially announced on FoxNews.  We will overwhelming participate in orderly exchange. Where there is chaos, I would anticipate a trail of blood leading to the hands of some group, adapted to privilege.  The murder in Darfur is not committed by the hungry.

The peak of violence could be now.  Perhaps the imperium cannot survive peak oil.  Peace could break our everywhere in its wake.  

We have so deeply internalized the idea that the west, with the US as lead dog for the last century, and europe before that, is a benevolent force in history, that we reflexively screen the synapses that might form a countervailing idea. We are constantly repeating the chant that without our system and values, there is only barbarism.  It's no wonder that, in the face of the end of industrialism, some anticipate the end of civilisation, and others ongoing chaos and misery.  Like today, but worse.

It is a fundamentally arrogant and self-destructive idea.

For myself, I regret that I will miss the second half of the 21 century, which I anticipate may be a renaissance that outdoes the Italian.  Why not?

my guess? $20 candy bars that once cost only a buck or 2 would be a good start.
Hello TODers,

Nights of Terror as political conflict continues in Oaxaca, Mexico. One killed in Chiapas clash as the conflict rises from the deadlocked election.  Finally, from CNN in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: an editorial entitled, "Towards Armageddon and After"

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

Thanks for the info about our southern neighboors.  This entire continent is not looking good at all.  
Hello Tate423,

Amnesty International news release:


I would like Amnesty International to come up with fundamental rights for a PostPeak World such as:

  1. Starving to death does not give you the right to attack your neighbor.

  2. If you have food and water, you must share.

  3. Converting grains to transport fuels is immoral.

  4. The rich must use every bit of their wealth to ease suffering. Afterall, they own most of the world now.

  5. It is immoral to have more than one child.

  6. The '3 Days of the Condor' scenario will not solve anything, but will make things worse.

Can you think of anymore?

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

Hello TODers,

I just sent an email to Amnesty International asking for their plans for a postPeak world.  If I get an answer--I will post it on TOD.  We will see...I hope they are aware of Overshoot and Dieoff, Catton, Hardin, Diamond, Tainter, M. King Hubbert, etc.

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

Sir, with all due respect, I must take issue with one of your points. That would be #5 -It would be immoral to have more than one child.

Bear with me for a minute. Yes, we are overpopulated right now. But if things progress as you seem to believe they will, then that will not be the case for much longer. And then what?

Fertility rates in the U.S. are at historical lows right now. Somewhere around 2.1 children per couple. They used to be much higher. The spread of education, industrialization, more and more women in the workforce, modern medicine, better nutrition, and more recently finances, have all contributed to lowering the birth rate. A century ago it was still common for people to have 4, 5, 6, or even more children. But there were reasons for this. One of the most enduring -and completely false -myths of the Frontier Days is that people had all these large families -and they all survived to adulthood. Until the 20th century, that was actually the exception rather than the rule. The reason was simple -most of them died before reaching adulthood. It was only with the advent of better nutrition and modern medicine that this began to change. It was also at this point that family size began to shrink.

Now in the developing nations things happened differently. Modern medicine and nutrition arrived before the other things. So, people are still having lots of babies and they're all (or mostly all) living to adulthood. High fertility rates + good healthcare + decent nutrition = population boom.

In a post PO world, should civilization come crashing down as you suggest, then mortality rates will return to their old levels. They could even go higher temporarily due to pollution, transition to agriculture, etc. So it may be not just desirable, not just moral, but necessary to have more than one child in order to continure you family.

Hello Optimist,

Thxs for responding.  That is a very good point, no disagreement from me.  I will defer to Isaac Asimov, who was a prolific writer and essayist on population as evidenced by this link.

I am not sure if you read the Isaac Asimov essay on overpopulation, but basically he says we should practice reproductive restraint, and if we ever reach the point where the human population is getting dangerously too small in numbers, we should have no problem convincing people to reproduce like mad when the occasion arises.

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

As a sci-fi fan, I am well familiar with Asimov's work. He is in fact one of my favorite writers. (OT, but WHY arent' there any good science fiction writers these days? Some of the garbage I find at the bookstore/library makes me want to start writing myself!)

My view on overpopulation are that it would take care of itself in very short order if the supply chains and modern medicine came crashing down. Consider:
-over 1 billion people are all ready malnourished.
-over one-half the world's population (probably more like 3/4s, and also including the 1 billion referenced above) are totally dependent on unstable, long supplies chains for food that are powered by petroleum, and on crops that are grown using petroleum.
-Most of the world's population lives in crowded, all ready unsanitary cities that would quickly become unlivable without modern services and would turn into breeding grounds for disease.

In other words, I think the overpopulation problem will solve itself through starvation and disease. Please note that I don't like this idea; I hate the thought of people dying. But I am wise enough to know that Mother Nature's laws are inviolable and unappealable.

Note that AIDS is allready causing a population crash in Africa, even though it hasn't been termed that. Other diseases will make a resurgence worldwide: cholera, dysentary, tuberculosis, pneumonia, etc. Without modern medicine these diseases quickly become fatal. Here in the U.S. the elderly would probably die first if medicine broke down, due to the simple fact that many of them are dependent on medications to live. (And I say this with the full knowledge that my 85 year old grandmother is one of them.) Other medically fragile persons would also quickly perish. There would also be a sharp spike in the suicide rate. (part of this brought about, no doubt, by people on anti-depressants going through withdrawal after their meds run out)

That's my take on the issue of population crashes. And that doesn't even factor in pollution and such in water.

Now, that's the societal take. That's what Asimov covered. My views were from the viewpoint of a family. You want to insure that your genes get carried on. Most of your children will die before reaching adulthood. Therefore, you have more children. It wouldn't even be a conscious decision -such is programmed into our genes.

There would also be a sharp spike in the suicide rate.

It happened in Russia in the 90 in somewhat "milder" circumstances than the ones you are contemplating.
There were case of parents committing suicide in order to have their children taken care of by state orphanages which were still running and had better conditions than the life of the average citizen.

Overall, the already crashing populations like in Africa may be comparatively LESS impacted by the mayhem than the western urbanites.

P.S. How did you choose your pseudo?

Sorry Bob I unplug on the weekends and didn't see this until Mon Am.  I hope you get a response and keep us up to date here at TOD.

BTW...I liked #1 the most.

still though the silence is deafening from any of the us media outlets.
As us media company's focus on the 'supposed' killer of a girl who was forced to live through her mother's dream of being a child-hood pageant model. Which seems to be part of the American dream, to force one's offspring to do what the parents wanted to be themselves whether it be a sports star or a model..
As us media company's focus on the 'supposed' killer of a girl ...

So this is the way to do it, sacrifice a young virgin for the sake of PO awareness.
A bit of buzz and PR about the "PO motivation" for the crime and that's it!

JonBenet Ramsey 36,800,000 hits on Google, 19,000 on Google News.
Natalee Holloway 1,020,000 hits on Google, 349 on Google News, fading, not likely a virgin anyway.
Natascha Kampusch 38,400 hits on Google, 14 on Google News, a rising star, not dead just abducted.
Wow! truly rising, went to 70,000 while I was typing.

But may be your complaint is misguided :
Peak Oil 6,220,000 hits on Google, 237 on Google News.

The "News" number is probably more representative of the MSM.
BTW, the number of "hits" on Google is obviously fake, it is a computed estimation not the real number of pages or links.

Today Northwest flight attendents were told they can't strike.  I know it's a Friday, but I'm curious as to what everyone's feelings are on Unions.  I'm starting to feel like we need to classify jobs as to the degree of skill and all those low skilled jobs should be unionized while anything requiring skills should be on their own.


It just feels like pure labor(non skilled, low skilled) is expendable, but these are people we're talking about.  They shouldn't be uber powerful and make demands that fly in the face of common sense and logic, but there has to be a balance.  Now those who have attained a degree or two will have more leverage in the marketplace so a union shouldnt be needed since many will BE management.

I would argue that even most professional jobs should be unionized.  They are outsourcing $100K engineering, accounting, financial analysis, and other jobs to Asia.  A few weeks ago I saw a news story how law firms are outsourcing to Indian lawyers to do the basic legal work.  

Low and high labor are both expendable.  A college degree doesn't matter.

A few weeks ago I saw a news story how law firms are outsourcing to Indian lawyers to do the basic legal work.  

Don't we have to many lawyers already?

I worked in a union shop many years ago and got threatened with bodily harm (we might have to break your arms) for working too hard.

I hate unions.

Unions are for the mob mentality people who can't think for themselves or who have no independent streak in themselves. Maybe that is why they have such a hard time getting a foothold in the South. We are free thinkers.

Has anyone else seen this?

In a recent address to the Australian Senate Committee, Dr. Samsam Bakhtiari, Senior Advisor for the National Iranian Oil Company in Tehran, presented an update on world oil supply, announcing these daunting statistics:

The decline of global oil production seems now irreversible. It is bound to occur over a number of transitions, the first of which I have called transition 1, which has just begun in 2006. Transition 1 has a very benign gradient of decline, and it will take months before one notices it at all. But transition 2 will be far steeper, and each successive transition will show more pronounced declining gradients. My WOCAP model has predicted that over the next 14 years present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32 per cent, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020.

It came from: http://carolynbaker.org/archives/cooking-on-the-road-to-collapse

Uncanny, isn't it? He seems to nail it.

It's on Energy Bulletin
Here's the Full transcript in PDF

Dr Samsam Bakhtiar. You are giving me the shivers.

The Europeans have begun a freight train line from Barcelona to Kiev, which is roughly 2,600 kilometres. The idea of having freight trains is a very good idea, but it is a bit late now. If you have rails you might make the service a bit better, but you should not construct it from scratch because it will take 20 years and cost at least 20 billion euros. I do not think such a project will ever be finished because the high oil prices will trigger rises in prices for all other commodities.

OK, that puts some things in perspective for the medium term. But it gets more urgent :

I think that Russia does not have much gas anymore, although it is the largest producer in the
world. I am very worried for the Europeans, and probably this winter you will see that the Europeans are going to have an enormous number of problems. If it is a harsh winter in Europe, you might have thousands of people dying. You had hundreds last year, but that was only the beginning. If this winter is harsh, you will have thousands dying because the Russians simply do not have enough gas to provide to Europe.

Time to get some firewood.

what link are you quoting?
The second quote above is from page 21 of the full Bahktiari transcript shown above. Another link to it is
I respect Bakthiari, but I do sometimes wonder if his pessimism is somewhat overblown with regard to near-term prognostications.
Twenty years will go by regardless.  

If the EU is building a new freight railroad from Kiev to Barcelona (instead of a 10 lane SuperNAFTA highway) and it will not be finished before Peak Oil, so be it.  Parts of the railroad will connect with existing railroads and be of some use before it is completely finished.  And the new rail line WILL be needed whenever it is finished.

In 1998 (when oil was ~$13/barrel), Switzerland voted for a MASSIVE rail project.  Started in 2000, finished in 2020.  The centerpiece (a 57 km tunnel) will not be open till 2017 (assuming no delays)).  Well past Peak Oil.

With 20/20 hindsight, the Swiss should have started in 1988 instead of 1998.  And what they are doing is "not enough" for Peak Oil.  But better to be doing 70% of what is needed for post-Peak Oil a decade late than nothing (like the US).  With their installed infrastructure, after a difficult period of adjustment, the Swiss will be "OK".

Peak Oil is not the "problem". post-Peak Oil is.  And the further one goes past Peak Oil, the more severe will be the problems for the unprepared.

Good read. Thanks.. Excellent overview of parallel developments. I like the term Termail Triangle, but think at times Octo-angle would be more appropriate perhaps. Allow me my favorite quote:
As the delineation of the Terminal Triangle reveals itself with increasing clarity, as sweltering, hungry, thirsty, debt-battered, unemployed, eventually homeless and bankrupt Americans with empty pension plans, frozen bank and 401K accounts, looted Social Security savings, who can no longer afford their suburban Mc Mansions, astronomical utility bills, credit cards, and gas-guzzling automobiles discover that the Rape Of Russia by U.S. financial systems was merely a warm-up exercise for the economic evisceration of the United States, the social fabric of America will unravel, and chaos will ensue.
I hope this isn't a repost ... new E&ETV on-line video:

Oil: Peak oil proponents talk about difficulty in changing U.S. energy policy

Princeton's Kenneth Deffeyes, author Richard Heinberg, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and others discuss peak oil and national security. (Originally aired: May 10, 2006)


A question. I was wondering when world oil consumption rates per year exceeded world oil discovery rates per year. When did we stop 'saving' and start 'withdrawing'?

Thanks in Advance.

 "When did we stop 'saving' and start 'withdrawing'?"

When the first barrel of oil was produced.  

Depletion started with the first barrel of oil produced, and it will end when the last barrel of oil is produced.  The argument is over the volume that is produced, but these hours of "ancient sunlight" as Thom Hartmann put it, are finite.

From wiki:
The peak of world oilfield discoveries occurred in 1962


Bakhtiari seems to be saying crude oil will decline 2.5% annually from now.  If he's right in a year or two we might have a rule of thumb as to how this affects GDP and prices.

Next week the PO savvy Four Corners program is doing a show on living with less carbon http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/

Sen. Feinstein (Calif) spoke on NPR yesterday.

I thought she was just great.
Maybe she will kick some butt.
To me, she didn't have a clue, but maybe people will wake up a little and do some research.

She said that maybe todays nuclear technology is ok since it generates less CO2 that coal.
She said that Vinod is a prince since he invests in ethanol which allows cars to produce zero CO2.

She said that 76 senators are from states that burn coal for power and she can't hope to pass
legislation with this much resistance.

She said that Calif needs 200 mph trains through the center of the state.

She said that Calif leads the nation in reducing energy use per person while the other states are increasing.


"Feinstein said Thursday during a speech at the Commonwealth Club."


"some estimates put water as high as 95% of Earth's total greenhouse effect. The remaining portion comes from carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, ozone and miscellaneous other "minor greenhouse gases." As an example of the relative importance of water it should be noted that changes in the relative humidity on the order of 1.3-4% are equivalent to the effect of doubling CO2."


"Ford's entire U.S. fleet of new and used cars and trucks is estimated to emit about 73 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year - an inconsequential drop in the bucket compared to the estimated 207 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released annually into the atmosphere by nature (200 billion tons) and man (7 billion tons)."


"Either Feinstein is an idiot, or she is mendacious.
So. Is there global warming? Certainly. We knew that in childhood. The Hudson doesn't freeze solid any longer, and the brackish canals of Holland don't freeze hard enough to skate on every winter. The glaciers are retreating. The Earth is warming and it has been since about 1800, with an acceleration in about 1875, and another acceleration in the early part of the XXth Century.

Do greenhouse gasses contribute to it? They certainly should. Arrhenius calculated the probable effects before World War I, and for all the sophistication of climate models there wasn't a lot of progress for a hundred years after his calculations.

How much do they contribute, and will Kyoto do much to stop things?  Unknown, and no.

Don't all scientists say the opposite?  No. There is a consensus that the Earth is warming, having been colder from about 1400 to 1800 (and having been warmer than now from about 800 to 1300). There isn't a lot of dissent from that view. There is a consensus that CO2 contributes to warming; there is no consensus on just how much it contributes; and there is none whatever among scientists that Kyoto will do a damned thing except enrich some people, beggar others, slow down the industrialized nations' economies, and employ a lot of "regulatory scientists" -- the kind of bureaucrats who gravitate into regulatory agencies and give themselves titles generally using the word "scientist" but who do no science. (See Edith Efron The Apocalyptics for a good description of what these people do.)"

Hello TODers,

Long time readers of my postings will recall my long posting on Antarctica, subglacial lakes, super-super-johkulaups, rapid breakup of icesheets due to super-lubrication, Bentley Subglacial trench, and so on.  It seems some scientists are starting to agree with my speculation:


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

By the way, did you knew that Che Guevara was called "Ernesto".

Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was his real name.

Looks like he is still fighting US Imperialism's Oil infrastructure. Isn't that ironic?

For soem reason it made me think of "we don't need no steenking badges" ... but Ernesto played one of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre bandits.  It wasn't the actual character's name ;-)