DrumBeat: August 29, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 08/29/06 at 9:18 AM EDT]

BP's Crude, Gasoline Trading Under Investigation

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, is being investigated by U.S. authorities for possible manipulation of crude and gasoline markets, a further blow to a reputation that's already suffering from spills in Alaska.

The crude oil inquiry is led by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures markets, and the Justice Department is probing its gasoline trades, BP spokesman Robert Wine in London said. BP is "cooperating fully," he said.

Gasoline demand rises slower in June

U.S. gasoline demand in June grew by just over 0.6 percent year-on-year, less than half the rate previously implied by weekly data, the U.S. government's monthly oil data showed on Monday.

Energy Bulletin has posted more reports from ASPO-5:

Dennis Meadows - Peak Oil and Limits to Growth

Jeremy Leggett Intertwines Peak Oil and Climate Change

Skrebowski tells us there’s 1,500 days until the Peak, & closing thoughts on ASPO 5

Head of Bolivian state oil company quits amid a corruption scandal. He was replaced by Evo Morales.

Suspected Pakistani rebels attack gas lines

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Suspected rebels blew up a gas pipeline and electricity pylons in the gas-rich Pakistani province of Baluchistan as supporters of a rebel leader killed at the weekend prepared to hold prayers for him.

Nationalist rebels have waged a low-key insurgency for autonomy and a greater share of profits from Baluchistan's resources for decades.

Iran to miss 2010 oil output target due to "lack of investment in ageing oil fields."

Pipeline explosion kills 5 in Iraq. Sounds like it may have been oil theft rather than terrorism.

Energy industry preparing for limits

When the head of the American Public Power Association spoke recently to electric utility operators in Minnesota, he had a straightforward message: Federal regulation of greenhouse gases is coming. Get ready for it.

"The issue is no longer whether there is a human contribution to global warming but the extent of that contribution," said Alan Richardson, president and chief executive of the group, whose members supply 15 percent of the nation's power.

[Update by Leanan on 08/29/06 at 10:39 AM EDT]

Betting billions on liquefied natural gas

Slacking crude reserves and rising demand are driving what some are calling one of the biggest investment trends in the world.
Iran needs more from oil tired old fields.

They need to pump harder and harder from their tired old fields to increase production.

More than 80 percent of the current total oil output is being provided from aged oil fields that need serious investment to increase production," he said.

This is the story all over the world. Seventy-five to eighty percent of all new production is coming from tired old fields. This will only steepen the slope of the decline curve a couple of years down the road. CEAR is pretending this is all new oil. They say current fields will decline by five percent, offset by new production. But at least 75 percent of this new production is from the same fields that they are saying will decline by five percent. Can they not see the error in this logic?


"In case of any sanctions against the country, the oil ministry will be in the frontline and we have prepared for serious work in this regard," Nozari assured.

And that "serious work" would be...?

And that "serious work" would be...?

Serious digging?

But seriously, Bakhtiari says Iran has only a third of the reserves it offcially states, 35-45 vs 132.5 billion barrels. In that context, they have little time left at the wished-for 5 mbd.
Add to that the fact that they specifically talk about mature fields, and it's not a big surprise if they can't meet the target. In other words: a yearly decline of 10% or more is in the cards.

And serious worrying.

Wouldn't it help Iran's nuclear argument to admit their actual reserves?
To do it officially would be problematic, internationally, inside OPEC, and why be the first, and the voice of doom?
And would the rest of the world really, say, OK, build your nukes?

But don't forget, Bakhtiari doesn't necessarily do things by himself. For all we know, he may well have talked it over at home before going on his world tour. And spread the word in a diplomatic fashion.

Here is the other facet to consider.  Iran can provide oil, gas, and radioactive material.  Of those three, oil and gas are in high demand, and paying well.  If you were Iran, and you needed to balance out your local energy needs, against your economic needs, how would you divy those resources?

Despite Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions which will gain them additional defense self-reliance, the move to nuclear for energy generation makes both self-reliant, and economic sense as it leaves the oil and gas up for sale to fund the building of a nuclear society.

I don't like the whole idea of them having nukes, but I can easily see why they would want them for both military and civilian uses.

If they are wise enough to see gas and oil as a soon to be dead end, then cash in while they can, and setup a nuclear society after the gas and oil industrial countries come crumbling down.

All and all, I have to give kudos to the Iranian "strategery" and long term positioning, at least from a detached admiring your opponent standpoint.

Though I see your point, I don't think Iran has any uranium as a resource.
<a href="http://www.wise-uranium.org/upasi.html#IR">Ah yes they do.</a>

Not huge quantities, but they started production at Saghand this year, and have built a facility to produce 50 tonnes of uranium per year.

That's what makes the enrichment of uranium for civilian use so plausible. Why would they want to rely on imported fuel, with the associated risks of cut-off, when they could master the whole fuel cycle and be independent?

I also think that they are only an adversary because the US wants to pick a fight with them.

Yup, and I believe there was another geological survey earlier this year which made another discovery of uranium in Iran.

Also as you note but I would like to add emphasis to, that the current capping factor for Iranian Uranium(say that 5 times fast) production is their refining capacity.  If they built additional mills, they could up their yearly volume from 50 tonnes if they desired it.

Iran has most if not all the pieces for a self sufficient nuclear society.  Even with sanctions its going to be tough to stop them.  It will require a military strike to end their nuclear aspirations.

Iran is holding some interesting cards right now, high risk, but potentially high reward also.

They have opened 10 uranium mines since 1988. Although it is not high quality uranium, it is sufficient to power reactors, though perhaps not on the scale Iran might ultimately wish. Also note that the heavy water reactor does not need enrichment and can use uranium to produce plutonium.
From that last article, I suspect this will be a growing theme as we head into and out of the Mid-term elections:

But businesses are reading the political tea leaves. Legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions is gaining ground in Congress with members of both parties. States, especially California and those in the Northeast, are moving forward with climate-change regulations. Two likely presidential hopefuls for 2008 -- Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York -- have called for reining in greenhouse gases.

This president has pretty much locked in his policies and said that we isn't going to change course. So everything now shifts to '08, when we will be in the 3rd year of persistently high gas prices, perhaps $4-6 a gallon for gas. Assuming the Republicans have an ultra slim majority in both houses, they will have to start working with the Dems more closely.

Possibly, if it is obvious to even the most oil-partisan folks that petroleum is in decline, they might be in a position to support "greenhouse gas" legislation to restrict, regulate and tax the hydrocarbon market.  They could blame the need for this on the "environmentalists" but still remain in control as much as possible.

It's not like they are really ignorant of the realities on the ground.  And they will work with "environmentalists" when it suits them -- and the "environmentalists" in turn have shown a willingness to be co-opted.

That is a nice scenario.  Here's hoping.
Did you know, not you personally or a lot of the folks here, that if the world wide consumption of oil were ½ the consumption of the USA, the world would have to produce 227 million brls/day or 2.7 times the current production!
Could you reduce your oil use by 1/2, 6 billion other folks in this world do or, about 11 out of 12. Not to mention  all the electricity and NG we waste.
Concerning RR's post yesterday: I have commented on ethanol using the same numbers as RR, here at TOD before RR's first Comment at TOD. I am certainly happy he took up the subject of corn ethanol, because I found trying to explain the EROEI to some is like banging your head on a brick wall.
The US uses 9.6 million brls of gas/day and produces 300 thousand brls of ethanol/day or about 3% of the gas usage or 140 billion gallons of gas/year and 4.6 billion gallons of ethanol. 4.6 billion gal's of ethanol requires 1.7 billion bu's of corn or 17% of our current average annual corn crop. To achieve 10% gas replacement would require 58% of our current annual corn crop. Our current commercial production of cellular-ethanol is about zero and in 5 years may yet be zero. The production of corn ethanol is a boon-doogle and here is why.  Dry corn or 10% moisture corn weighs 56 lbs/bu and a lbs of corn contains 7000 Btu's or 392,000 Btu's/bu high heat energy. A bu of corn can produce about 2.6 gallons of ethanol or 84K*2.6=218,000 Btu's. So by burning corn in a corn burner you can provide 174,000 more Btu's of energy to heat a home than the energy in 2.6 gallons of ethanol. That 174,000 Btu's is equal to the energy in 1.4 gallons of gas or diesel, so the 1.4 gallons of fuel oil saved could be used as transport diesel. Also the energy saved in the distribution and distillation process of ethanol is about equal to 30 % of the total energy in 2.6 gallons of ethanol. So that 65,000 Btu's of NG or coal saved could also be used to heat or produce electricity.  So using a bushel of corn to produce ethanol wastes more energy than is contained in the ethanol. I also realize that Mead Nebr. is going to use cow dung to produce methane
for the distillation process, however that methane could be used for other purposes if no ethanol was being made.
Soy-bean diesel is also a boon-doogle. 1 bu of soybeans can produce about 1.8 gallons of soy oil and about 1.5 gallons of bio-diesel. Since soybeans are about $6.00/bu that is $4.00 dollars/gal before considering capital costs or process costs, before even considering EROEI.
I guess TOD understands logic, but the public understands magic.  Aladdin and his lamp, Rumplestiltskin spinning straw into gold, the Philosopher's Stone, whatever.  

I think we need to reframe our arguments in a more magical story form if we want them to be believed.

Whats sounds more magical fairy than TEOTWAWKI?  I forgot Technology is the magic that will save us.
That which we don't understand is "MAGIC".

In other words, for those who do not truly understand "technology", the laws of thermodynamics, of physics, of chemistry and of other such specialized stuff; the world truly appears to work on "magic". Put the key in the car. Turn. It goes. Magic. Flip the computer on. Click on internet. It goes. Magic. Feel ill? Go to doctor. Swallow pill. All better. Magic. Feeling a loss of confidence? Flip the TV on. Click on talking heads. They say it's all good. Worries go away. Magic.

That may be so for most people, Step Back, I hope I am more discriminating in my understanding of science, technology and "magic".

Here's a little to help with "magic", reality, quantum mechanics, consciousness:

...and the philosophers's stone:

I was basically agreeing with this comment by NeverLNG:
TOD understands logic, but the public understands magic.  ... I think we need to reframe our arguments in a more magical story form if we want them to be believed [by the general public].

I think NeverLNG is on to something.
Look at the way Big Oil presents their "story" to the General Public (GP). They don't douse them with charts, graphs and equations. It's all about basic human emotions. A friendly face pops into view. "What's my carbon footprint? Ha Ha. What the heck is a carbon footprint?"

It gets your attention. It gets you thinking. It's the foot in the door.

Honestly, who throws a graph through the door?

Absolutely.  I've been thinking about this for a long time, and watching how people actually make decisions.

If you think about it, most people make decisions based on largely emotional inputs (that's how they sell cars, deodorant, bottled water-- you name it) and only after the decision is final, do they (we, really -- I'm no different most of the time) use the rational faculty of the neo-cortex to JUSTIFY and RATIONALIZE the decision that has already been  made from the gut.

I believe in rational thought -- but I am sure that for most people it amounts to just another belief system-- and that for most people, rational thinking and magical thinking are equivalent systems.  You just take whatever works.  

I am not sure how to do it, but I am working  on a way to tell the story in a frame that appeals directly to the emotional side, gives options for correct choices, then allows for post-decision rationalization that will affirm and reinforce the correct decision.

We can't keep beating people over the head with "facts" -- successful salesmen never do this.  And like it or not, we are selling an idea -- the idea that a better world is possible, and it is possible to get there by making better choices.  And that the default position (continuing to accelerate against the wall) is simply chaos or endless predation.


I've been thinking a lot about what I believe is going to happen to our society, our way of life, and our species. I don't believe it can end well, and I don't believe it will take long. You may certainly feel differently.

What is your motivation to make everyone aware of these issues? Is it a desire to say to everyone "See, I told you this was going to happen?" Is it to allow others to prepare themselves for the changes ahead? Is it out of the belief that we can change course and save ourselves (preserve our way of life) if enough people get on board?

Is the motivation to advertise TOD rooted in the need for others to validate our beliefs, findings, and predictions so we can all feel like we're being reasonable in believing what we believe?

From my perspective, the belief that the today is as good as it can get has fundamentally changed my paradigm. I'm emotionally less invested in "someday" and firmly rooted in now.

I think before we spend energy on promoting TOD we should understand the goals of promoting TOD. Don't you think?


I reviewed all of the Peak Oil sites and chose TOD as the best site for my purposes.

My purpose ?  

To publicize the overlooked solutions from Electrified Rail.  To get these "Silver BBs" as part of the policy mix of solutions.

I figured that there was a less than 5% chance that my individual efforts will actually result in a significant change in public policy.  But the odds are lower if I do not try.

You got more of a plan then I have.

I am more or less stumbling around a slowly changing set of intresting overlapping issues and problems with peak oil absorbing more and more of the set and have this form of debate as one of my favorite ways of finding new insights and collect ideas and I happily mix that with proselyting. I am here since this seems to be the best public peak oil debate.

My agenda is to learn, have fun, spread ideas I find constructive, be usefull since I enjoy that, try to further things I am reasonably sure are constructive and try to tickle a small part of the world a little to see how it works. And be less lonely with these thoughts.

I have yet not found the right place to do usefull work, unfortunately I ponder issues more then search for work or more important people to work with or chew on any of these intresting problems.

And I got some doubts about the quality of my insights, that is probably good for bettering them but I am at a loss on how to realy check things. I mostly use a loose set of principles to sort things into reasonable and unreasonable. Peak oil affects one amazing large set of processes and stuff and the world is weird and very, very large.

It is a little scary to have overreaching thoughts about this stuff that seems too work reasonably well togeather. It fails my own test for what is reasonable...

I have absolutely no idea if my efforts will ammount to something and how likely that is.

Thought you might be interested in a report from a Quebec to New York train trip posted over at Kuro5hin. The comments to the story are also interesting, with many Amtrak tales of horror. I must confess I had no idea of the level of disarray in that institution, and I have to say if most Americans think of Amtrak when they hear about rail, you have a tough job on your hands.

Perhaps prominent train skeptics should be sent on sponsored train journeys across western Europe or Japan to see how it's done properly.

I lived in Europe for five years when I was a young lad.  I loved the rail network(and the cheap cost) to get around.  Every single person I have ever talked to that spent a week or two over there, comes back wanting a rail network like Europe.  

Last night in one of my classes a guy was bragging about how much he likes Chicago's "L."  He was like it's so nice to just pay the small fee and sit back and relax while you get to where you need.  I'm ready for rail too.

Having completed a few Amtrak trips, I have to say it is not THAT bad! Sure, certain trips are often delayed because in the US freight has priority over humans (because the freight-haulers own the rails), but Amtrak is a pleasant way to travel, if you adjust your expectations.
Bring a good book and a laptop, visit the bar/snack/observation car, talk with friends and other travelers.
From my perspective, any day riding Amtrak beats any day in the cube farm (guess where I am now).
Still, bike touring is my favorite way to travel, but the time is hard to find.
I like urban rail a lot.  Long haul is a lot harder to cope with on the only train network we got, Amtrak.
I think it still has some roots in oil/mass-scale thinking. If you wanted to really do something, you would alert your neighbors, not trying to reach out to "the public." That assumes that we will have some sort of affiliation with people far away when it's all said and done. But when the lights go out, you are going to be surrounded by the people around you. If you want to create awareness, have The End of Suburbia screenings with your neighbors, create block meetings, creating actual relationships, etc. Unfortunately, that will probably be just as difficult, but it's more worthwhile than trying to create mass-scale awareness. That is already being done as much as it can be without causing craziness.
I'm not the person you directed you question to, but I think that very few of us will get through this without a functioning community to live in.  Therefore, it's in our enlightened self-interest to have at least some workable communities post-peak.  And that requires informing other people so they can be prepared.
We can't keep beating people over the head with "facts" -- successful salesmen never do this.

Well said.

Sales people know that the lizard brain makes the critical life/death and buy/don't-buy decisions.

As for TAB's question: Why bother advertising PO or TOD? My take on it is that I know I can't be self-suffcient. I cannot perform my own triple-bypass heart surgery on myself and I can't even make a pencil. So I need the rest of "them" (doctors, lawyers, pencil makers) to keep doing what they are doing best so that I can continue my semi-negotiable way of life.

In order for the rest of "them" (doctors, lawyers, pencil makers) to keep doing what they are doing best, they must be alerted to the PO problem (and yes, to the GW problem). We need to divert the main herd (the MSM herd) away from its madenning stampede towards the cliff. It is the only "rational" way to preserve our own semi-negotiable ways of life. --Well, at least that is what my lizard brain tells my neo-cortex and limbic brains. :-)

Sales people know that the lizard brain makes the critical life/death and buy/don't-buy decisions.

Yes :

I don't care what you're going to tell me intellectually. I don't care. Give me the reptilian. Why? Because the reptilian always wins.

But how do you sell powerdown to the lizard brain ?

We need to divert the main herd (the MSM herd) away from its madenning stampede towards the cliff.

What's your plan?


Emotionally sell against poor usage of energy and emotionally sell for good usage of energy.  This is what they have done for smoking.  

For example, I'm thinking of billboards on the highway that say in large letters:

(Emotionally Selling Away)

How many loved ones of yours were ripped away from you in a car accident?
More people died from cars in 2006 than the total amount that died from terrorism.  
CARS: Are they worth it?
Invest in public transportation and keep your loved ones.


Debt ripping your family apart?
Cars a big chunk?  How much could you save if you dropped those cars?
CARS: Are they worth it?
Invest in public transportation.  

etc. etc.

On the emotionally positive side to encourage good usage of energy:

Save money with Solar Energy.  Because real men know how to keep it light.

Fascinating thread.

I don't think I said we necessarily should advertise TOD.  Only, that if we have a message to sell (and some people here seem to) that we should look toward successful sales people for guidance.  And facts don't sell -- never have.  Remember Tulipomania?  You can sell anything with the right message -- for a while anyway.

On the other hand, I don't feel like I am in possession of a deep secret that I want to keep away from the MSM Herd so I can wind up surviving the next holocaust.  I don't know what's going to happen, but since we as a species have overshot the carrying capacity of our environment, it can't be good.  But keeping this secret won't help us.  Maybe Cheney can in his bunker -- maybe he thinks he is the new Noah.

I'm interested in everything, personally.  I prefer what I consider to be "facts" -- but sometimes that's pretty subjective.  And I am interested in what makes people "believe" -- whether fact or fancy.  Not that I can do anything with the information -- it's just interesting, and maybe it just passes the time.

A major economic downturn is already being advertised in the mainstream. Haven't you heard the ominous gold investment advertisements on the radio? I have.
In my area, we are getting TV ads on how to become rich on other peoples' foreclosures.  
In my area, we are getting TV ads on how to become rich by going to conferences on how to become rich.
Cheney as Noah?
Now that is funny:

... And it came to pass that the Higher Father spake onto Chey-Noah for He saw goodness in the right-sheetish man. "Bring thine daughter and her friend girl into the Bunker-Ark, two of everything. However, as for your sure-shot shotgun, leaveth that outside please, especially when the quail passeth by ..."

Our arguments need to be accessbile, but it's vital that we not sacrifice intellectual integrity. If we sacrafice intellectual integrity, then civilization is surely doomed as we compete with other, probably more skillful, witch doctors.

John P. Kotter (Harvard Business School) and Dan S. Cohen, in The Heart of Change: Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations Harvard Business School Press (2002) writes, "People change what they do less becasue they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings .

In watching the growing understanding of Global Warming over the last year, I think it was less because of Al Gore's excellent movie, An Inconvenient Truth , than because of last year's hurricane season, especially Katrina and Rita. I think Katrina was the tipping point, when we shifted in a few months from perhaps 2% of the population concerned about Global Warming to 60%.

I don't know the action that will create consciousness of Peak Oil. I surely don't want to hope for a "small" disaster that will lead the world to prevent the impending big disaster. Maybe a vivid picture of a winter without heating oil after a bloody attack on Iran and concomintant destruction of shipping from the Mideast. Or an unusually hot summer with frequent blackouts limiting air conditioning. Less compelling, I think. We can expect very savage attacks as (if?) we grow more effective.

... because they are  shown  a truth that influences their  feelings.

Pretty words.
But then again, what is the "truth"?
How do you get "them" to pay attention long enough to see the one it?
Who controls the tell and show stage?

Is Peak Oil in December 2005 the truth?
In 2010?
Is Yergin the truth?
What exactly is "oil"? How will we know when "it" has peaked?

What if this year's US hurricane season fails to meet and excede last year's? Does that make Global Warming an untruth?

Is Islam the truth?
Is Jesus the truth?
Is Adam Smith the true truth?
Did WTC7 fall due to good vibrations?
Go ahead and pick if you must.

The world is a messy place.
There is no one true truth.
Many truths can exist at the same time.
"Truth" is a human fantasy. Mother Nature does not pay attention to human fantasies. She does what she does, irrespective of what we believe in or not. Mother Nature makes Dodo birds. Mother Nature makes human stooges. Then she wipes the slate clean. One way or another. Truth is not something that sets us free. It enslaves us.

Here are some "truths" as I see them:
  1. Planet Earth is a finite sphere.
  2. Planet Earth contains a finite set of "one-time consumables". Once they are consumed, they are gone forever. Overfishing and extinction of a fish species is an example.
  3. Human society is fragmented into a set of competing hierarchies. They clash into each other and compete over dwindling resources. The heirarchies are robotic in nature. They take on a life of their own separate from the people who populate the hierarchy (from elites down to worker bees).
  4. Hierarchical structures include intellectual control mechanisms. Religions and economic theories are such control mechanisms. These controls take on a life of their own and compete for survival in a Darwinian sense.

Failure to step back and see the controls means failure in having a chance to egg the hierarchies one way or another. They will march relentlessly toward destruction of each other and of the world.
4. Hierarchical structures include intellectual control mechanisms. Religions and economic theories are such control mechanisms. These controls take on a life of their own and compete for survival in a Darwinian sense.

(It looked better in the Preview version ... that's the "truth")

HTML, like Planet Earth, is a strange and wonderful thing. Full of subtle hierarchies and delicate equilibria.

If only we could find which tags to close, to fix the planet...

That's the beauty of (what was) HTML.It mutates. Supposedly the ability to fix the planet is in the next patch.
You mean: </oil reliance>?
And <begin alt energy>?
The words are Kotter's not mine. His emphasis was on "showing" not "truth," as indicated by his italics. His assertion can be easily transformed to a testable socialogical hypothesis about how most people make decisions most of the time, including people who view themselves as highly rational. In that hypothesis, I'd replace "truth" with "something." It actually doesn't matter whether it's true or not in terms of the effectiveness of change behavior, only if you want the new behavior to be more successful by some criteria. My primary point was that it is a mistake, a catastrophic mistake, to abandon scientific truth for magic just to be more persuasive, because it is no more likely to lead to successful behavior than any of the magical or superstitious arguments.

Sorry if you read that as some sort of criticism (was not intended). I fully agree with the main message by Kotter, namely, people change behavior based on "feelings" (emotions) and not because of deep blue analysis (rational thinking).

The problem is that your average American does not get all emotional about science talk. Show him a nice graph or show her a detailed spreadsheet on field depletion and they are simply not going to get goose bumps.

No. Your fellow citizen is "moved" (emotionally) by deeply embedded beliefs in certain kinds of "magic". Think about the magic of money. (Are you salivating yet?) Think about the Power of Peer approval. (Are you at the top of your social circle? Are you Alpha among your male dog pals? Are you top dog to all the women?) Think about the joy of becoming a "success" in your community and being the envy of all your friends.

Carefully watch all the auto ads on TV. Are any of them selling to you with science, with technical spec sheets? No way, Ray. They are relying on the "magic" of their emotional appeals to get you to lean towards their version of a metal box on four wheels. Be cool. Buy our Box.

This is from TradeArabia.com:

The UAE's oil production hit a record high in May and Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the world's top crude producer, according to a report.

The UAE's oil output hit 2.651-million bpd in May, keeping the country among the top 10 producers, according to figures released by the Riyadh-based Joint Oil Initiative Data.

Russia became the world's top producer, pumping 9.636-million bpd in May. Saudi Arabia's output stood at 8.93-million bpd, sharply lower than the 9.432-million bpd it produced in the same month last year, said the report.

"The UAE's crude output that comes largely from Abu Dhabi is currently around 2.6 to 2.7-million bpd and plans are on tap to raise it to 4-million bpd by 2010. In fact, we would see a gradual increase in the UAE's output in the next four years," an Abu Dhabi-based oil expert was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Last week, Abdullah Nasser Al Suwaidi, Adnoc's deputy CEO and exploration and production director, said the company has increased production by 25 per cent over the last two years and is currently developing new fields in an effort to increase daily output from 2.8 million bpd to 4-million by 2010.

The US was the third largest producer last May, with its output standing at 5.092-million bpd.

It was followed by Iran (4.010-million), China (3.836-million), Mexico (3.337-million), the UAE (2.651-million) and Kuwait (2.579-million), the report added.

China's oil demand surged by nearly 700,000-bpd in a year to become the world's second-biggest crude consumer after the US, the report added.

It showed China's consumption reached 6.845-million bpd in May compared with 6.171-million bpd a year earlier.

A breakdown showed US demand grew to around 20.695-million bpd in May from 20.140-million bpd in the same month last year.

Japan's crude consumption climbed to nearly 5.226-million bpd from 4.677-million bpd in the same period, the report said.

Excluding Russia, which did not supply consumption figures, Germany ranked fourth among consumers, with demand growing to nearly 2.557-million bpd in May from about 2.494-million bpd a year earlier.

India was fifth with consumption at about 2.449-million bpd in May compared with 2.270-million bpd last May.

South Korea's fuel consumption rose to 2.107-million bpd from 2.046-million bpd while demand in Canada declined to 1.925-million bpd from 2.083-million bpd.

SA having troubles and Russia pumping more and more...

The consumption rose in all countries except Canada (in the report).

Can we say it now? - Saudi Arabia is past peak!!

And like Simmons says, when SA is past peak, the world is past peak.

I'd be more comfortable with those 1500 days if the actual worldwide production figures started climbing instead of the slow decline we seem to be seeing.  It would be great if worldwide production could reach over 90 by 2010, but I don't see it happening myself.

I think we're past "Deffeyes' Peak"...  ;-)

Well I hope so. I just placed a 100 Swiss franc bet with a sceptic, that world oil production would never again surpass the 2006 figure.

But a lot of smart money is on 2010...

(Oh. Did I really say that? "I hope so"? Shoot me.)

How are you ever going to ever know if you won this bet?
The arrangement is this :
  • if any year is higher than 2006, I pay up
  • if, after five years, production stays below 2006, the other guy has the option of paying up or doubling down.
Is the bet inflation adjusted? A dollar in 2011 wont be the same as a dollar in 2007.
That's why I specified Swiss francs... I'm in Euro-land, the other party in the USA.

Actually, if I wanted to hustle the guy, I would offer him enticing bets for 2010 which are labelled in dollars, and which I am sure to lose. And then clinch the major bet, in Swiss francs, which I am sure to win.

Then, in 2010, he realises each Swiss franc costs him $10 or more...

I am glad you have thought it through. Maybe you should bet a barrel of oil :)
Then, why hasn't anything major happened, like the price of oil skyrocketing? I think the exact immediate effect of the peak has not been explained well. Why is the US economy recording economic growth?
Try http://www.shadowstats.com

They can enlighten you here.

Re:  TradeArabia.com

In comparing these various regions to each other, we need to try to determine whether they are talking about crude + condensate or total liquids.

Relative to December, according to the EIA, the top 10 exporter's crude + condensate production (top 10 based on EIA 2004 numbers) was down by 3% through May.  I have estimated that this translates to a 10% plus annualized rate of decline in net oil exports from the top 10 net oil exporters.

Yes, but I've forgotten what it is that makes you so confident that the Saudis are bluffing when they say they have 1.5M barrels a day in reserve capacity.
Have you read Twilight in the Desert?  It may be possible they have spare, but the 1.5 M they claim is very unlikely, really pretty much ridiculous.  They are pumping very old, and quite mature fields.  All their oil comes from the same 4-5 fields.  They are almost certainly getting close to peak, if they haven't passed it it already.  
Have you read Twilight in the Desert?

I'll sell you my autographed, underlined, highlighted copy with copius margin notes for $100,000.

Or I'll tell you the story for the same price, over say... two days. But you don't get the book in that case.

When I bought it, it was $24.95. It's in paperback now. That's what they call deflation.

THeir stated position is that price is too high. In the past, when price goes above their target range, they produced more. So, if they really want prices to drop to, say, 50, and if they have excess capacity, why don't they produce it?
Maybe they can't. This theory, or the decline of their giants, would also explain this year's overall decline.

THe real question is how are the big consumers managing to increase their consumption?

Gas usage is highly inelastic in this country.  We can consume more at marginally higher prices.  Most people DON'T have a choice.
yes they do.  Turn down the thermostat, put on a sweater.  Stop using throwaway plastic containers made from natural gas.  Take a shower with a friend every other day.  Turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Etc.

I am sure that a 30 -50% reduction in gas use is possible without severely taxing our ability to cope.

I should have clarified...I meant gasoline, not NG.  Unfortunatly all one can do is switch to mass transit if it's available.
How about:
  • get smaller car, or use the smaller one of multiple cars already owned
  • car pool
  • combine trips
  • turn car off rather than idling
  • walk for the shorter trips (e.g. between several errands that are all within a smallish downtown)
  • ride bicycle when/where feasible
  • stay home (skip frivolous trips)

It's not just commuting.  Judging by the traffic on my sparsely-settled road, I'd guess that each of my neighbors makes 3-4 car trips per day.
Most people can't simply get a smaller car.  There are in many cases, transaction costs, which can be significant for some people.

All the rest I'm not going to argue against (I agree they should), but it doesn't negate the fact that Gasoline IS highly inelastic by every mathematical model b/c people do whatever they can to AVOID all your nice easy steps.

You can make very substantial improvements in fuel economy just by changing driving style.
All of this is well and true, but it still doesn't change the fact that at the margins gas is still highly inelastic.  You can do a whole bunch of stuff to reduce usage and the point is WE DONT so long as the increases are marginal.
The bottom line is that gasoline is too cheap in the US to modify behavior.  Europe taxation is maybe 200%, which is enough to have a real effect (including recent mass protests by truck drivers, obviously forgetting that their entitlements must be funded by taxation.)
I was going to complain about all the bold text until I read it. Now I understand.

Saudi Arabia down 5.4% year on year in May. I believe the UAE actually can considerably increase their production, they are one of the few bright spots. Maybe not as much as they say, though.

OK, some economists out there tell me why demand is still going up with oil prices in the $70s most of this year. This is not the way they teach it.

Elasticity of demand....basically we need this stuff to function and will pay as much as we can for as long we can.  I've read the inelasticity of gas demand at least in US is somewhere around .8 or higher.  It's highly inelastic and responds very little to marginal changes in either direction.
This depends on your definition of "elastic," from 1978 to 1983, US oil consumption dropped 17%. That was becuase of an oil induced recession, a repeat of that looks ever more likely  in the next couple of years.
Yet overall consumption of energy (BTUs) only dropped by 8.5%, suggesting that the elasticity of demand for oil was augmented by the availability of substitutes.
Right, that's in transportation sector? I've seen, those two numbers don't jive well, certainly over all energy consumption would count the switch from no more burning oil for electricity. The only thing that could count for such a discrepency in transportation would be, frankily I dont know, because there sure as hell wasn't "available substitutes" of energy in 1980 to account for 10% of oil consumption.

But the other matter here, is were talking about peak "oil," not other energy sources.  The idea that a significant global economic slowdown is not going to cut consumpution is both ahistorical and makes no sense.

You cannot have an intelligent conversation about peak oil without discussing all energy sources, their interdependence and their interchangeability.

But I agree with you that to think that a significant economic turndown globally is not going to cut consumption is both ahistorical and makes no sense.

For the record, from 1975 to 1978 (three years) passenger vehicle miles (pvm) in the US increased by 15.5%.  Pvm then declined in 1979 and again in 1980, and then began to increase again.  Pvm for 1983 were 6.8% over 1978.  In the next five years, pvm increased by 23%.

A lot of factors were at play in this period including the substitution of more fuel efficient vehicles.  But there is no doubt that recession had an impact.  Whatever the elasticity of price, unemployment cuts transportation demand.

For those interested, heavy truck vehicle miles stagnated from 1979 to 1981 after increasing in '79 over '78. By 1983 heavy truck mileage was up 10% in 1983 over 1978.

Heavy trucks achieved their greatest increase in fuel efficiency with the wholesale adoption of diesel engines.  I apologize for not having the time frame handy at the moment, but I believe this process was pretty well complete before 1980.

Looking at Canadian data heavy trucks have accounted for most of the increased demand for transportation energy since 1990.  I suspect the numbers are similar in the U.S.

BigEasy Alan is on the right track (sorry) to promote rail, even if I'm afraid that a wholesale move to electrified rail is neither feasible nor likely.  

While I won't disagree, one caveat.  Consumption decreases for the period 78-83 were due to CAFE standards mandated due to exponential price increases of gas.  From memory I recall gas increasing at over 500% from early 72-75ish.  This preceded the increased efficiency. There was a lag to turn detroit around.  I know now that auto traffic consumes the largest part of our energy needs and I believe it wasn't much different even in the 70's but I'm guessing.

Someone posted some kind of demand correlation (can't find IT) to the tune of for a 1% reduction in use it would require 15% increase in gas or somewhere in that area.  Even if these numbers are wrong, the point is it takes LARGE increases to alter demand.  When increases happen to the tune of a 500% increase in mere years, the current increases (46% in 2 yrs) look marginal relative to the past LEAPS.  When we keep getting marginal increases it's like the frog boiling in water(even though I understand frogs don't do this).

Consumption decreases for the period 78-83 were due to CAFE standards

There was a significant consumption decrease due to the biggest global economic slowdown since the 30s. This is the point, if the economy goes into recession in next couple months consumption fall will out pace depletion in short run and the price of oil will fall.

I liken this to the Ka Poom theory over at http://www.itulip.com.  I like the logic in the argument and short term deflation seems more likely, but as the S&D fundamentals take hold using less will still cost all of us more alah inflation.  
A big factor in that decrease was the ramp up of nuclear electric generating capacity, which essentially replaced oil fired electric generation in that time frame. The BTU's from oil used for electricity were replaced by fission BTUs.
Oh, to anticipate a possible response: one view of the situation is to say that demand has slackened but not enough to be flat or negative year on year. The increase looks pretty steep to me, however.

But, world production was flat during the period.
Who cut consumption?  All the poor countries? What will we do when their use drops to 0?
Interesting development in China in creating higher oil containing seeds.  They're making improvements at the margins, does anyone (RR) know the aggregate benefit to increasing oil content by a few percent?


China has bred a new kind of rapeseed with record high oil content in a move to develop its bio-diesel industry, the Ministry of Agriculture announced on Monday.

The new rapeseed has an oil content of 54.72 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the previously reported highest oil content, according to a test report from the ministry.

The seed was developed to meet the market demand for renewable sources of energy, according to the ministry.

High oil content means high heat content if burned.

Anyone have an idea of the efficiency of burning rapeseed in a locomotive powered by a Stirling cycle engine?  Wouldn't that beat converting the oilseeds to diesel and using a conventional Diesel-electric engine?

It wouldn't be very efficient.
If creating heat is your goal, then why not simply use cellulose (wood, switchgrass or hemp)? The point of extracting the oil from the rapeseed is partly for ease of transportation and partly because of the inherent utility of diesel. It would certainly make sense to make use of the stalk and other leftovers after the oil from the seeds have been extracted, but why use a Stirling engine?

Steam-powered locomotives that run on cellulose instead of coal might be feasible, but why bother when you can convert the biomass to electricity in a stationary plant and feed the electricity to electric trains. I'm almost certain this would give better overall thermodynamic efficiency, I am certain it would be more practical.


Cellulose fired steam locomotives were common a century ago or more (logging trains) -- there is still one running from Durango to Silverton, CO (I think).  But it burns an impressive amount of firewood, which requires some kind of transportation to get the wood to the fuel depots.  Currently, trucks, of course, since this is just a tourist attraction.

Long-distance transportation with self-contained power systems looks a little bleak.

It wouldn't be very efficient.

EVIDENCE, please!

I'm almost certain this would give better overall thermodynamic efficiency, I am certain it would be more practical.

This is certainly a "balanced" opinion, one true, one false!

It wouldn't be very efficient.
Okay I admit I didn't really do the numbers on this one. My main argument is that a Stirling engine will have to run at max power all the time, which means a lot of energy is wasted when less than max power is needed.

I'm almost certain this would give better overall thermodynamic efficiency, I am certain it would be more practical.
NeverLNG argued that rapeseed has high heat-content because it contains oil.
NeverLNG wishes to utilize this in a train powered by a rapeseed-burning Stirling engine.

I claim that it's better to convert the seeds to diesel because diesel is easier to transport (it's concentrated energy) and utilize (it's liquid rather than solid).

In itself, a Stirling engine can have very high termodynamic efficiency (an ideal Stirling engine follows the Carnot cycle as closely as is practically possible with given materials). But you will notice Stirling engines aren't much in use anywhere. Certainly not for transportation purposes.
Wikipedia discusses this at some length. And seem to come to the conclusion that a hybrid electric system that allows the Stirling engine to run at constant load, might make it useful for propulsion.

Having now arrived at a hybrid electric train powered by a Stirling engine, why not go a step further and unload the Stirling engine in order to save some weight? Surely this would be more practical..
But would it be more efficient?:
Well, you save the weight of the engine and the fuel, which must count for something.
Presumably you can also build a larger and more efficient power plant.
A stationary plant is easier to cool, which means higher efficiency.
On the negative side there is transmission loss which means I'm only almost certain this would give better overall thermodynamic efficiency.

Doing some real crude energy ratios, I come out with about a toss-up.  so why bother?  Use whatever looks like oil in a diesel, and use stirlings for rough biomass-don't bother with high quality rape seed, since any cellulose wll do for the stirling.

Which brings me back to an old much-repeated refrain- use rough biomass to power agriculture, and divert anything that can go into a  diesel to road use.

And yet another oft-repeated querulous quibble- Would you folks please finally take note that the free-piston stirling has come of age, and can deliver good efficiency (35-40% heat in/electric out) and LAST A LONG TIME.  And it's just iron, so we know how to make it at a sensible cost.  In any size you want- home cogen to locomotive.  And not to forget solar.

NASA will tell you how.  Ask for space power.

With crops, it's almost always disastrous to focus on a single yield variable. In reverse order, total yield per unit land area, labour requirements, fuel requirements, and the inputs needed to maintain soil productivity are what I think about as a farmer. This is why I remain committed to livestock farming with my land.

Net energy per acre is what we would like to see on this website. Unfortunately, that figure is hard to come by.

With the rapeseed example in the article, if that 2% rise in oil content makes the rapeseed crop more susceptable to pests and diseases or requires additional fertilizer or labour inputs, then the "aggregate benefit" may be negative. In my experience, higher yielding varieties of crops (or livestock for that matter) almost always increase the expense of the other inputs. The higher yields often don't make up for the other expenses.

I see your point.  There are plants that grow extraodinary in hydro setups with CO2 added.  Some grow three times as fast with the addition of high amounts of CO2 since the temps can increase into the 90's.  When this happens though, all the inputs go up nearly three times as well including the water and nutrients needed.  You get bigger plants in shorter time even though it's more energy intense.  
"Net energy per acre is what we would like to see on this website."

You've hit the nail directly on the head with a sledge hammer, MarkinCalgary.

Net energy per acre.  This is the phrase that will sink the ethanol ship, with all due respect to the brilliant work of Robert Rapier.

This is why bio-energy crops like pelletized switchgrass, burned for space/water heating will replace corn/switchgrass/etc for liquid fuel production.  The ethanol manufacturer will not be able to compete on price with the pellet/brick manufacturer for access to the energy crop.

Net energy per acre is also one of the two reasons why neither ethanol nor solid fuel manufacturer will be able to compete with the food distributor on price for access to the land's bounty. The other is that all people with income will buy food/water before any other commodity.  

Crops for fueling the human economy will overwhelmingly be limited in democracies to marginal farmland (for which switchgrass is emminently suited over great swathes of North America).

I'd be very interested in your take on the Polyface Farm as described by Michael Pollan in the Omnivore's Dilemma.

Finally, some recognition! ;)

I've not read The Omnivore's Dilemma, but I've read a great deal about Polyface Farm through Joel Salatin's books and articles. (Salatin is the patriarch at the Polyface family farm.) With the possible exception of his overuse (IMO) of tractor power, I have little to object to in Salatin's model. My motivations certainly seem to be in the same direction as his. Minimal inputs, let the animals do the work, and nurture the soil. I just don't share his fear of horses. (So, I'm comfortable using draft horses instead of a tractor. No, I'm not kidding.)

Salatin's books are entertaining to read if you have the right state of mind. He definitely seems a little (self-)righteous at times, but perhaps he has a right to be. Salatin's unfortunately titled "You Can Farm" is probably as good a place as any to start. Gene Logsdon is also an author in this area, perhaps a more respected one as well.

My father, who was born in Germany in 1903, used to make a few pfennings collecting horse manure from the streets of the industrial town where he lived for sale to local greenhouse operators.

I have pictures of him driving drafthorses northeast of Edmonton circa 1930.  We made limited use of a draft horse on our farm in BC until about 1960.

One advantage of horses and oxen is the usefulness of their waste stream.  I think it would be interesting to see the impact on net energy per acre comparing animal power to tractor power, plotting several fuels for the tractor.

You give me the numbers, I'll plot it. And that offer always stands. I think this is extremely interesting, too. I just don't have the numbers. One the surface, I would tend to agree. It only makes sense that there is an "advantage" in the "usefulness."
My recollection of a discussion on this subject, is that you can get roughly the same amount of traction per acre, by growing rapeseed and running a tractor, or pasturing a horse.

A major difference is timeliness. For an equivalent energy input, it might take five days to plough by horse what you could plough in one day with the tractor.

Similar ratios apply to horse-powered transport vs. biodiesel.

I don't dispute these figures. Actually, I find them both believable and quite interesting. However, they can't be taken in a vacuum. (Not that Alistair was suggesting that they should be.)

Once again, the spectre of inputs comes into play: Growing rapeseed is much more labour, equipment, and input intensive than maintaining the same land in pasture. (With virtually zero prior experience, I grew 135 acres of pasture this year and harvested it with cattle. I only invested about 8 hours of my time, $200 in electric fencing, and $150 for seed, into this venture.) One can use marginal land, that you wouldn't plant to rapeseed, as pasture. The tractor itself is a huge input and requires a great deal of input, as well as eventual replacement. Horses come with a built in replacement mechanism.

Of course, horses aren't input free. Working horses need grain, shoeing (arguably), and there are veterinary expenses. And there is the fact that animal power is slower and will therefore require more labour. From an energy stand-point, these costs are small.

It's a complex issue, and there is very little in the way of hard numbers to support either course. But I know many farmers that quit tractor farming and moved to low-energy methods (some using horses or oxen) and saw their profibility soar. I still find that suprising, but these folks are still farming. That's more than I can say about a heck of a lot of conventional farmers.

Wow! Profitability?
If you have info/web links, I'm interested, Mark.
I'm a city worker/rural dweller, but my neighbours who farm are still buying bigger and better tractors... I'd like to see that turn around one day! (out of choice rather than constraint if possible)

The last guy around who still used yoked oxen for ploughing retired about 15 years ago.

You can get some of that from the Swedish Commission on Oil Independence.


cfm in Gray, ME


I agree with most of your post as usual with some clarification about tradeoffs.  Some comments for people to think on, that may change the energy balance per acre.

Fruiting structures, like seeds, are made when the plant has sufficient energy after growing to maturity.  Or for perennials after storing enough energy to make the fruit crop.

Their are three ways to give plants more energy.
1)Improve photosynthetic efficiency.
2)Reduce respiration loss.
3)Combination of 1 & 2.

Photosyntheic efficiency is almost always improved if the plant has less stress when capturing sunlight.  There are genetically controlled processes that can improve heat tolerance, drought tolerance, high pH tolerance, etc.  All these allow the plant to fix more carbon per unit of sun energy.  The efficiency of the entire coupling of light and dark reactions of photosynthesis is improved without requiring more inputs.  The limiting step was the efficiency in converting light energy to chemical energy.  Similar mechanisms work in reverse for not using stored energy in the dark period (respiration loss).

Over the growing season capturing more energy allows more of it to be allocated to secondary metabolites, like oil, without decreasing starch or protein content in the seed.  The same plant can make more stored biomass all things being equal.

This drives yield improvement over time and biotechnology has speeded this selection mechanism up almost exponentially with selections and genetic rearrangements.  A 2% increase is not a lot of oil increase and could be easily gained without hurting plant health or disease resistance.

A 2% increase is not a lot of oil increase and could be easily gained without hurting plant health or disease resistance.

Agreed. As someone who has to make decisions on topics related to these issues, what I'm looking for is data to this effect. Without actually doing my own trial runs, it's hard to get.

Leanan, the Bloomberg link for the BP article doesn't seem to work. This one does, same subject, but I'm not sure it's the same piece.

Just finished reading yesterday's Forbes piece on Shell. Why are the two big Europeans in the biggest trouble? Anything to do with painting themselves green? Or am I just missing the bad news on Exxon and Chevron?

And Iran misses targets by 500.000 bpd until 2010? Ouch.. Move over, Prudhoe.

Thanks.  That's the problem with Bloomberg links.  They're subject to change without notice.

I've fixed it.  I think.

I don't know about the rest but from the Forbes piece it's quite clear why Shell has hit hard times: in the 90's when oil was dirt cheap they didn't see the difficulties coming and positioned themselves as a leaner, more flexible player with low costs and (hopefully) high margins. Thus they let their human resource deteriorate, with obvious results.

As for BP, it is hard to decide between malice and stupidity. They have certainly known about their corrosion problems for years and waited with repairs until that latest oil spill. Maybe at first they had no money to invest (during the low price period) and then as prices rose they chose to avoid downtime at any cost (for fear of low prices returning). Either that or the bastards just timed this maintenance to create artificial scarcity.


At lunch next to the hospital last Friday, I sat next to two University of Kentucky architecture professors plus four students.  I got into the conversation (much about New Orleans) and I asked the question about current standards for durability.

A sore point it seems.  Modern homes are designed to last at least 20 years before "major repairs" are required.  No money is wasted on something that is 1) not required by code and 2) will last longer than 20 years.

Of cource, a modern home will not fall into a pile of debris in 2027.  But problems with the roof, plumbing, OSB board, foundation, heating & a/c, etc. should start to crop up about then.

There are exceptions, but these are quite rare.  Public buildings cost more ($165/ sq ft for a new school), but they last longer.  "Specing" for durability is a dying art among architect students.

So suburbia is biodegradeable !

So suburbia is biodegradeable !

If only that were true, Alan. Good piece. Would we still be able to build a home for 100 years?

Makes me think of something I read years ago about the craziness of mortgages. The author, name forgotten, said that if a house costs $100.000 to build, and lasts 100 years, it should cost $1000 a year, or $83.33 a month, to live in. All else is usury, speculation etc.

"Would we still be able to build a home for 100 years?"

It's just a simple matter of design, materials and craftmanship, so why not?  On the other hand...

Design should be easy to fix.  Many houses these days have gratuitus roof articulations and lack eve overhangs and other elements that made maintenance simpler and were self protecting.  Materials in theory should be easy to fix, lthough it costs more up front to use plywood rather than particle board and stuff like old growth timber isn't really available.  Craftmanship is probably the hardest to do anything about.  There are some craftsman out there but I think they all work for those 'this old house-type shows' - just kidding i have a very old-school guy that does my stucco and plaster repair work, but he is so busy (cause there are so few like him) that it is hard to get him to come over.  

I live in a 101 year old home with the original stucco (plus some patches) and the original galvanized steel/tin shingle roof.  It's a simple 4-square with high ceilings and it works just fine.  I don't see any reason it won't be around for another 100.  

Build high quality house modules in a factory and stack them into a high quality houses. You dont have to make all of the work by hand at the building site.
I love modular design.  Highly efficient at least compared to traditional frame housing.
What makes them "efficient"?
Built efficiently, IE factories rather than waiting for the right contractor to show up.
Oh, OK.  We have lots of Sears houses in my neighborhood, that were built in the 30's.  Sears would ship the whole house on the train and deliver to the job site for assembly.  Sort of the same thing.  Those Sears houses (mostly bungalows) are highly sought now, mainly for their aesthetic charm.  
I remember reading about those in my college history class.  I couldnt believe there were really mail order houses.    
These guys do just that.  Great homes.  Almost Hurricane proof too.  Energy Eff.



I think you sent me that before.  I've got it bookmarked and will take a serious look next year as I look to build or buy a home.

This assumes it costs nothing to maintain. Not terribly likely. I'd wonder if a 100 year old house really does cost less over its lifetime than 5 20 year lasting houses. Keep in mind that it's probably less energy efficient, etc... And of course that you can "schedule" the construction of the new 20 year lasting house when materials are cheapest (perhaps year 18, perhaps year 24, whatever), but the heating losses of the 100 year old house strike every year, whatever the cost.

I just think that considering only the initial construction cost is a little misleading. Not sure how the numbers would turn out myself.

As I see it locally a 100 year life lenght house is much closer to the ordinary house quality then a 20 year house.

The construction of both can be timed with changes in materials and work prices but the 20 year house will have to do that four times more for all of the construction while the 100 year house only need maintainance.

Both houses can be well insulated but code can change over time.

I live in a low medium quality apartment in a an area with 2 and 3 floor houses where the windows were changed after 40 years, the new ones should last longer. The sewage pipes will be changed in about 10 years or perhaps internally relined for another 20 year of service or so and the bathroom renewed. The kitchen is starting to be worn out, also that were of low quality but that is no reason to tear down a house. The roofs will probably need retiling in 10-20 years. If these houses were build now they would get 10 cm more insulation, they will likely get that when the facade is worn out but that will take decades. New built houses would be more energy efficient but the capital loss from tearing down perfectly livable and maintainable houses can equal quite a lot of district heating. It would have been even better if they had been designed to be easy to maintain.

20 year life lenght, thats not a house thats a caravan withouth wheels.

Let me expand on this a bit. There is a building I go by often on my way to work. it was once an old brick monstrosity, but it is apparently steel reinforced concrete under all that, so the frame is (presumably) fairly solid. As time went on, newer buildings were more efficient. The tenants started using coputers, which used more electricity and required more airconditioning. The building had some ventilation problems due to its age, and a little bit of sick building syndrome. Beyond that, people like light, both on the street, and in the office, and absorbing it all with masonry is counterproductive.

There's also the fact that in the city, the facade of every building must be examined every 5 years (a law implemented since a falling brick due to crumbling mortar killed a passing pedestrian some years ago), and this is much cheaper with glass than with brick.

Add to this the fact that the building has no sprinklers, is not ADA ready, poor electrical system, crappy elevators, inefficient ventilation, well, you get the point.

The building is fairly tall (around 5 stories), soo they didn't tear it down, they just stripped off the facade, and replaced it entirely with glass curtain wall. Then they did the ventilation, added sprinklers, brought it into ADA compliance, redid the HVAC and electrical systems, and they're nearly done. Was that actually cheaper than tearing it down and starting from scratch? It must have been, as that's the choice they made, they did after all save the frame, and probably the floor plates, so they weren't starting from nothing. Of course this building is surrounded by 30+ floor towers, so it's probably not long for this world anyway, no matter what shape it is in.

This is kindof what I'm getting at. Most buildings probably meet their doom due to increasing density (in the city) making them too short for economic viability, or due to changing usage and traffic patterns (in the suburbs). Add to this hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, and every other sort of  mishap, and probably not that many buildings will actually make it to 100 regardless of the construction quality.

This is obviously not true of major skyscrapers, which is why they are built to last, but your average stick frame house lasts a really long time anyway, to build it to last forever would perhaps just be money wasted in many, if not most, cases.

In any case, I've never seen a house that had serious trouble after only 20 years, and I'm a little bit of a geek for buildings. And yes, I do live in the US. The 20 year thing seems to be a straw man, and the "houses should last 100 years" response also seems to be something of a straw man of its own. The reality seems to be somewhere in the middle, as it should be.

The lesson is probably that you should avoid low quality work and saving a short term penny. A good foundation, frame and roof is not much more expensive then louse ones. Thick insulaton is not much more expensive then thin. I guess the biggest problem is that building well requiers thinking more and planning better, skill is probably a limiting factor. And if you are on a very tight budget prioritize the parts that are hard or impossible to upgrade later.

The debate here and on some other forums gives the impression that the US small house customers want mcmansions whose rooftops looks like a castle but dont mind if they fall thru the internal walls if they lean on them. :-)

Properly built, a house should cost VERY little to maintain for a century.

Metal roof (say copper), durable plumbing & electrical, durable structure & windows, durable exterior (brick is easy solution, but cypress wood works as well).

The waste of resources, including energy, on bio-degradeable housing is a decision that will impact our future.

IMHO, we cannot afford another generation of disposable housing.

I spent some time talking to a project manager for a non-profit that builds low income housing units. He had the interesting insight that building in concrete and steel was cheaper in the long run than wood frame construction.

The reason was building insurance costs eventually trumped materials costs. He further stated that the reason there is still wood frame construction is that the builders and the long term owners are often different people. And the builders have a short term profit motive.

I just think that considering only the initial construction cost is a little misleading.


Not sure how the numbers would turn out myself.

So why writing rubbish?
You have an uncanny ability to spit out bullshit about ANY topic!

Cost of a 100 years house + cost of maintenance for 100 years.
5 TIMES (Cost of a 20 years house + cost of maintenance for 20 years).

20 years houses need maintenance too, don't they?
Would not they even happen to need MORE EXPENSIVE maintenance because they are rubbish?

Is the cost of a 100 years house close to 5 TIMES the cost of a 20 years house?
More likely between 2 and 3 times at most.
And the cost of a 200 years house is likely to be only slightly higher.

And you want to make up the difference by energy efficiency?
Why would a 100 years house built TODAY be much less energy efficient than a 20 years house built 50 years from now (as an average)?

You also want to make up the difference by "scheduling" the replacement construction?

What a PILE of bullshit!!!
How much are you paid for that lousy job?

I once knew a farmer who had the same axe for 50 years. He just had to replace the head once, and the shaft 5 times.

Maybe you know him?

20 year homes. 30 year mortgage. interest only, off course
New York has some interesting housing stock. Many of the single family homes in the less dense areas are made of wood and have incredible heating and cooling costs. The Brownstones and low level attached houses last nearly forever (some go back to the 19th Century) and have fairly moderate heating and cooling costs if they get the right windows and plug the cracks as necessary - and the windows often provide good cross ventilation in good weather. And then we have the taller buildings which are durable, but require a good level of maintenance and have sealed windows and forced air throughout, with large variations in temperature in different zones.

The trade-off is that the higher buildings have far more people and can better support regular maintenance financially much easier. But the Brownstones really need less inputs to keep going. I think I'd put my money on an attached brownstone to retain it's value longer.

Unless there's an earthquake, which some believe we are way overdue for in the eastern U.S.  Wood frame and skyscrapers would probably be okay, but the brownstones would be rubble.
and just a reminder: GW should cause more earthquakes worldwide.  Really.  Not kidding.  Real science.
Cape Cod would be history - it's just a big sand bar, bedrock is 200 to over 400 ft down.
I know.

Scientists find new perils in global warming

Scientists are now confirming what many people have suspected for several years: that there is a connection between global warming and a rise in seismic activity leading to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
C'mon. Is this supposed to be read seriously?
No one can say whether or not these particular earthquakes were precipitated by global warming.
yes, take it seriously.

An article in New Scientist magazine of May 27 titled "Climate change: Tearing the Earth apart?" takes a cautious but clear look at what is already happening as a result of climate change.

"All over the world evidence is stacking up that changes in global climate can and do affect the frequencies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic sea-floor landslides. Not only has this happened several times throughout Earth's history, the evidence suggests that it is starting to happen again," writes Bill McGuire.

"The climate interacts with the Earth's crust via the changing mass of water and ice that is shifted around the planet. The pressure of water and ice on the crust is considerable: 1 cubic meter of water weighs 1 ton, while the same volume of ice weighs slightly less, up to 0.9 tons. With this in mind, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the loading and unloading of the Earth's crust by ice or water can trigger seismic and volcanic activity and even landslides," he explains.

Scientists have confirmed that during both the arrival and departure of the last ice age, there was a "link between glacial advances and retreats and the rate of global volcanism."

If you take the fact that the Land masses "Float" on the mantle it makes perfect sense.  How much weight has been "Lifted" off Greenland and other places?
The ice sheets in Antarctica average 2100m in thickness.  The Texas Gulf coast is all sediment run off of the Rockies and the old coast of the region millions of years ago was cut through Austin for example.  As an example, the Balcones Fault or more specificly Mount Bonnell fault, has been active most recently because the subsidence of the coastal plain by this sediment.  

So, removing ice off of the poles can definitely change the geology of a region, whether it causes an increase in earthquakes would be a pretty hard hypothesis to test.

Hello Wandering Aimlessly,

It would be much easier to link global warming with super-jokulhlaups causing huge tsunamis.  Recall my recent postings and consider how many billions of tons of sediment would be quickly washed offshore.  This could eventually destabilize the undersea Continental Self setting off a huge landslide, thus a tsunami.

Scientists PDF suspect a massive subsea landslide is what happened at Unimak Island when the Scotch Cap Lighthouse was suddenly overwhelmed by a 105 ft tsunami.  See this horrifying artist's impression and before and after photographs of the lighthouse.

This event also caused the tsunami in Hilo, Hawaii about five hours later.  This is what led to the creation of the Tsunami Warning System.

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


ah, I see your comparison.  I read a story a while back about an island in the Azores that is really unstable and a big chunk of it can fall into the Atlantic Ocean at any moment.  And since the unstable part faces westward towards the Americas, all the kinetic energy of an island falling into the Ocean will cause massive tsunamis all across the Eastern Seaboard.  So yeah, I can see the same thing occuring with a super-jokulhlaup messing things up, especially one in Greenland.
Actually Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands.
The housing issue brings up a needed fundamental shift in thinking: Improved Efficiency = Economic Growth.

After reading Odum and Odum (Environmental Accounting, A Prosperous Way Down) it is easy to see that the economy is like a huge tank of water. The more water in the tank, the greater the wealth. Adding more water does raise the level of the tank (producing more oil, iron, cars). But the tank is leaking (cars rust, houses collapse, fuel is burned). Which means a society can raise the level of the tank by plugging leaks.

The 20 year houses may be cheaper to build now, but those houses are like planning to put leaks in the tank that will spring open in just 20 years.

I think that our society (the US) is so used to increasing wealth by adding more water to the tank that we have forgotten the efficiency side. You can even hear people argue that increasing efficiency is "bad for business" when the opposite must be true (for the above thermodynamic reasons).

As our energy sources stop growing or reverse into decline, efficiency improvements will be the ONLY way to grow the economy.

I think the Roman Empire might be a good example of a culture with a flat energy input that instead built to maximize the efficiency side to achieve growth. Some of those roads and buildings are still here 2000 years later. Buildings that last "forever" are almost like compounding interest.

YES !!

You have articluated something I have "known" for a long time.  One of my attractions to hydroelectric.  Build it, get very low cost energy for half a millenia or so.  Subways should have a similarly long payback.

We cannot increase our rate of extraction of resources much more; but we can do more with these resources.

A 300 year home does not cost that much more than a 20 year home (say 1/3rd more ?).  It makes more economic sense to make energy efficiency investments into a long lived home.

The long term benefits of a 300 year home are self evident; especially if built in a sustainable location.

One of my attractions to hydroelectric.  Build it, get very low cost energy for half a millenia or so.

Or at least until the reservoir silts up and the next earthquake :-)

When the reservior silts up (in one to eight centuries for different dams), rework the intake and it becomes a "run-of-river" power project that generates not on demand, but  whenever water flows.

Modern dams are remarkably earthquake resistant.  Earthfill becoems stronger over time (some in China have survived 2,000 years and multiple earthquakes).

BTW, India's ambitious plans are to build one or two dams on the headwaters of a river and then have a series of run-of-river projects below.  The dams shift some of the water seasonally, and when released it goes through a series of dams.  Much less environmental effect.

Exactly! If you do spend energy, spend it on something that creates more energy. Or, (just thought of this), spend it on something that uses energy in a form that is easy to create (electric rail).

Should a city choose higher housing costs or open the highways and spread out? From close the leaks perspective, forcing investment in housing is the only rational city plan. Again, cheap housing costs just feel like your winning, but the over all wealth would be dropping.

I am just getting my head around these ideas of "tanks" and "flows" (finally understand what the ethanol people have been trying to say about living on "flows").

Just spotted this quote at the top of the page:

"Considering the many productive uses of petroleum, burning it for fuel is like burning a Picasso for heat."

Another viewpoint on quote is burning petroleum for fuel means that the petroleum runs "out of the tank" instantly. Better to use that petroleum to make carbon fiber windturbine blades and benefit from it for 30 years.

Creating "energy multipliers" that do the same basic function, but with ~5% of the energy for multi-centuries is a very valid way to enhance social & economic well being.

Swizerland is drilling a flat, straight electric railroad tunnel from Zurich to Milan.  This will replace heavy trucks going OVER the Alps and flights for people from Zurich to Milan (and beyond).  Freight in speciality cars will travel at 160 kph (100 mph) and 120 kph (75 mph) in convential freight cars at FAR less energy than grinding over the mountains in a diesel truck.

This will be a permanent enhancement for the Swiss, Germans & Italians.

A subway under Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles would do much the same thing.  

An economy based on perpetual growth needs a perpetual input of new energy and resources. If you fix the leaks, it becomes stagnant. This would make interest rates useless, or impossible, take your pick. "The earth plus 5%" (pdf) by Larry Hannigan is a good parabel for this.

Paying interest means you have to pay back the principal PLUS the interest. The interest is the added water. The waste produced by the growth system is the water leaking out. Economic activity requires the use of energy. And that produces waste (2nd law). Waste is not an unfortunate addition, it's required by the growth system and can't be avoided.

Alternatively, you could say that a growth economy always requires more energy and resources than the natural system can (re-)generate. These extra resources are needed to pay the interest.

So Odum's water tank will not work in a growth system. He knew this very well. His Emergy theories are about as good as it gets. M. King Hubbert proposed similar ideas, as have others.
But they are addressing steady state economies, not growth economies. A transition to a steady state is unavoidable, but so is the struggle that the transition will impose.


Thanks for the link to the parable. It helps explain the reason why we are headed for major monitary problems with peak oil.

Once people become aware of peak oil and what it means for the future, long term loans will no longer make sense - people cannot be expected to pay back the interest plus pricipal over, say, 20 or 30 years in a declining economy. It seems like the whole monetary system may fall apart, rather early on. (In fact, the puncturing of the housing bubble may be a big step toward making the system fall apart.)

Unless a quick replacement for the monetary system is found, its failure could lead to many other problems early on, like people going hungry when food is still being produced, if there is no way to pay for the food.

This seems fairly nonsensical. The largest determining factor in interest rates is the hazard of the underlying investment, that wouldn't change, even in a zero growth economy. The second largest determining factor is the comparative ability of other investments to make similar returns. That might change in a zero growth economy, but the first factor would still be at work. You'd want more money than you lent out because you might not get any back at all!

I agree that the steady state transition will occur, but it's not clear that it will cause massive problems. Of course, with out of control governments debts it certainly would. With reasonable stewardship, I don't see that there's a substantial difference between an economy growing at 1%, and one growing at 0% if the population isn't growing. In either case, my wages will grow much faster, as people tend too have wage growth throughout their lives, and then die, the difference between (for instance) 5% growth and 4% growth in my personal wages doesn't seem like such a large one.

The largest determining factor in interest rates is the hazard of the underlying investment, that wouldn't change, even in a zero growth economy.

I strongly disagree.  

There's a reason why usury was considered a grave sin in the steady-state economies of the ancient world.

If you disagree with this, maybe you can say why? This is fairly stright-forward and can be broken down. There is "risk free debt" that has a certain interest rate. The spread between that and the interest that you pay on a similar instrument is basically all risk related.

If the "risk free" is 4%, then in any debt over 8% the majority is related to the hazard of the underlying investment.

What part of this is it that you have a problem with?

"Risk free" U.S. Treasury or similar government debt is a relative benchmark. A riskless 4% return is only positive as long as inflation is less than 4%. The indignity of paying taxes on investment returns that don't exceed inflation is another consideration.
I think you may be talking about wealth, not growth in GDP or throughput.  We can decrease throughput while increasing wealth if we are conserving our assets. Our society depends upon growth because it is fixated with throughput. If I plug a leak in my house, the reduced energy bills are not considered an increase in GDP although, clearly, my personal welfare has increased. People need to focus on the costs of living not just the income needed for living. Thing thing applies to solar PV. Our future costs will decrease while they won't be reflected in the so called economy.  Since we measure the wrong things, we make bad decsions with respect to conservation and longevity of resources and assets.
"If I plug a leak in my house, the reduced energy bills are not considered an increase in GDP although, clearly, my personal welfare has increased."

If you took off time from work to fix the leak you actually decreased the GDP.  Alternatively if you applied the savings  to reducing your debt,  that also implies a decrease in the GDP.  You're spending less money

I'm not sure I understand all this, but here goes:
What I am trying to say is that "conservation and longevity of resources and assets" runs counter to the principles of our growth economy. Not on an individual basis of course, but on a broader one. If you fix the leaks in your house, or you decide to sell your car and ride a bicycle, you will spend less and benefit.

If 25% of the population of your country does the same, within the context of a growth economy, that would likely be enough to choke it to death. Your reduced eenergy bill does not increase GDP, but that is exactly the problem: the system requires a growing GDP. It needs to grow to pay off the interest, let alone the principal. Our economy cannot survive negative growth.

The leaking water froim the bottom in Odum's tank is necessary to make way for the added water on top. You could fix the leaks, but since you still need to add water (interest), it will just "leak" from the top. There's only so much tank. Which makes it a good example of what is wrong with perpetual growth in a finite system.

I have to admit I just started reading Environmental Accounting and don't have a solid grasp of it yet.

I am not so sure that there "must" be leaks. I get the feeling that people choose to have leaks because those leaks benefit them. For instance, a car maker can benefit if all cars break down in 5 years and need to be replaced. Essentially that car maker can capture a greater share of the tanks energy, but at a cost to the whole economy.

If I understand correctly, this is really a "Tragedy of the Commons" kind of situation, where if everyone puts lots of sheep on the commons the grass is destroyed and everyone loses. But each person is only rewarded if they add extra sheep.

Governments seem to be the technology that we have developed to break tragedy of the commons type problems. The US has turned anti-government, creating vulnerability to this kind of issue. Perhaps this is why trying to increase efficiency has been politically unacceptable to the right, even though it leads to greater economic well being.

It's economics only. Governments have no control. We may have the illusion that we can vote out the growth system, but we can't. In order to keep our society at some kind of bearable level, we have to keep producing. That requires energy- and material resources. No way out. As I said, you can fix the leaks, but the water will just flow over the top. You can't choose to stop adding water.

The reason for this is that all our money is issued as debt, our governments pay interest over all money issued.. Other than Odum and Hubbert's personal energy credits, which carry no interest, in our present system everything does. Those who control the economy, or the water and tha tank, will not allow the system to stop. They would lose all. They;d rather go to war, and will, and do.

The only way to stop growth is collapse.

The only way to stop growth is collapse.

That's pretty pessimistic, but that should at least be an opportunity to LEARN, such as to not restart growth after collapse after having PRESERVED some parts.

The only way to stop growth is collapse.

That's pretty pessimistic, but that should at least be an opportunity to LEARN, such as to not restart growth after collapse after having PRESERVED some parts.

So explain how it can be stopped in a more optimistic way.

As for the restart, not to worry, we have Fred Hoyle for that one:

It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only. (Hoyle, 1964)

In a couple of hundred million years, the fossil fuels might replenish themselves allowing somebody another go at things.
In the next Kalpa.

Is "might"... and the metallic ores won't.
And the human genetic pool won't be there, the average lifespan of a specie on earth is 5 millions years.

This is also not true. Money issued by the central government is the exact opposite of debt. You are lending them value (the thing of value that they paid you money for), and they are giving you tokens that you can use. You are lending the government (society, whatever) "value" when you hold money, and they are not paying you any interest. The hazard is also not zero. If you burn your money, or lose it, then "they" don't owe you anything.
Maybe in a perfect world this would be true.  However under our current central bank the dollar is backed by debt.  The backing is nothing more than the power of the gov't to tax the people to pay the debt (t-bills).  So long as foreigners are buying our debt, the dollar stays a float.  Seeing how discount rates are pausing, if the discount rate doesn't increase, the dollar is not being defended and it's going to fall relative to most currencies.  

When foreigners don't buy our debt (which is happening now), we monetize it through carribean banks (FED in disguise) buying our bonds mysteriously.  This is exactly the unusual ways to maintain economic health that Bernanke promised in a speech.  

In addition the value of any dollar to a person is nothing more than the belief in the value.  It's a self fulfilling prophecy that will continue until the masses realize it's paper and worth little more than the debt attached to it.

"The only way to stop growth is collapse"

There are many existence proofs that this statement is false. Look at all the examples where societies had negative numbers for growth and did not collapse. Google "shrinking GDP" for ~965,000 results.

Cuba is a frequently cited example of a society that stopped economic growth but did not collapse, but there are many more.

"Governments have no control. We may have the illusion that we can vote out the growth system, but we can't."

Maybe you are just a congenital pessimist! Governments have plenty of control (maybe too much) and examples of humans changing their governments are too many to list (many with horrible results). Do you not believe that the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, the American Revolution occurred?
On a less apocalyptic note, plenty of European countries have voted for slower growth and more social equity and in my experience their choice has worked out pretty well for all concerned.
One thing is certain, that when social change has occurred it was instigated by people who believed in the possibility of change and not by do-nothing pessimists.

What people don't seem to get is that all the current societal, economic and governance paradigms are dead meat with zero or negative growth (population, "stuff", energy, et al.).  It also means giving up what we consider to be "progress" and a variety of choices.

Let's jump to the future:  There is only one family vehicle sold (all black by the way); a PHEV diesel with a beach seat to seat three with AWD and various attachable trailer components such as a flatbed for hauling things like firewood or produce and a forecart to use farm implements when plowing.  It is owner maintainable.  The engine uses replaceable sleves.  Roller bearings are used throughout.  It's expected life is 100 years with the exception of the batteries (old-fashioned lead-acid)which last 25 years.

So, how does such a vehicle impact society?  First, the automotive industry as we know it shinks to almost zero.  This includes not only manufacturing but all things allied with transportation.

Second, the fuel taxes goverments need to pay for stuff won't be there so goverment shrinks too.

Third, there will be lots and lots of people without work - forever.  What do you do with them? My guess would be "work service" where all people would be required to spend, say 5 years, actually working after which they would go home and personally produce what they need such as food and clothing.

The list could go on but my point is that, while not truly stable-state, this society has the potential to survive over many generations.  Hopefully, this will buy time for the society to mature and weigh what options are best.

First, the automotive industry as we know it shinks to almost zero.

It is much worse than that:
In order to produce the bulk of the fleet of such vehicles it should have GROWN very fast for a short period before falling to near zero for replacements purpose only.

How can this be managed?

Growth of the auto industry really isn't the issue (and, I'd like to add here that it would be all "durable" things from fridges to hot water heaters to computers).  What is at issue is timing of actually doing something and infighting/politics.

Whose and what technology do you lock into for a century of production? I'm assuming here that durables would be designed so they could be upgraded, beyond repair, at some point in time.

Let me hint at what I mean from personal experience.  I had a 1949 Ferguson TEA20 wheel tractor I only sold a few years ago and it ran fine.  I had a nice 1957 Jeep 4x4 pickup that I traded for some fence work but it ran fine - it had a '63 Ford six engine.  Lastly, a 1954 John Deer crawler that I sold a couple of years ago when a neighbor bought better equipment and it didn't make sense keeping it. All this stuff was close to or more than 50 yers old but it suited my needs. It could have been kept going for another 50 years with simple maintenance.

But, if everyone took this position on all their durables, and it was mandated that durables last for generations (whatever that means) growth ceases.  No paradigm is ready for this.

As I see it higher quality longer life lenght equipment makes growth cheaper, growing the trash pile at maximum speed is not usefull for anything.

This is just such a misunderstanding of society. There is no such thing as "not enough work to do". If there was nothing else to do, we could have people out there scrubbing our sidewalks with toothbrushes, there is absolutely no limit to the amount of useful work to be done in the world.

To the extent that a system allows people willing to work to not work, it is a broken system. Just because the current system allows this under some circumstances does not mean that it is a permanent fixture of all systems. It mostly works out because this sort of thing is (fairly) rare, only a few percent of society at a time. Even then, usually there are jobs, but they just have aweful pay. During the great depression, when this system had a serious breakdown, what happened? Well, the government started putting people to work, just as it should have. The problem was eventually fixed by a large task that made the government much less shy about getting work out of people, a war. It shouldn't take a war, it just takes resolve. Resolve that would have been served up soon enough anyway.

You can always overcome unemployment. The only problem that can be serious, is a reduction in GDP due to some other serious problem, be it turmoil, shortage, or even natural disaster. Unemployment is not so much a problem, as an opportunity, it means that we are providing all the goods and services you see in the economy, and still have X% of our productive man-hours left over to do someething else with.

Of course, neocons don't see it like that, and neither do the "It's my precious...." rank and file of covetous drones. So good resources (man-hours) are flushed down the toilet by declaring their existence bane rather than boon. It's a broken system, but you bet that an ant colony doesn't have unemployment, nor does a military regiment, or a frontier outpost, or a ship at sea, or space station, or almost any other non-capitalist societal structure. With minor modifications, capitalist structures wouldn't have it either. If it gets to be too much of a problem, the fixes will be implemented.

the fixes will be implemented.

Haliburton labor camps.

Yeah, apparently that's how they fixed the great depression too. Why don't we learn that Haliburton was behind the Civilian Conservations Corps? Oh, that's right, because it wasn't. :-P

Like anything else, there's always a corrupt way to do things, and a reasonable way. Of course, with the current jokers, it would be Halliburton all the way, but nothing lasts forever. it may not even last past November, with a little luck.

Second, the fuel taxes goverments need to pay for stuff won't be there so goverment shrinks too.

The fuel taxes are go to highway building and maintenance, and they aren't enough to cover the actual cost.

So what would really happen is the roads and bridges would fall into disrepair.  This would make driving and having a car less desirable, even for the wealthy.  So less fuel would be consumed, and less money would be available for roads and bridges.

I could see the whole car culture/highway system going into a death spiral.

"Third, there will be lots and lots of people without work - forever."

This is just WRONG. Go look at today's low-energy societies. I am familiar with Nepal, which uses less than one-hundredth the per capita energy of the US.
Everything we do with energy in the US becomes an employment opportunity for a human being. People (porters) haul cargo instead of trucks, but 100 porters replace 1 truck driver. Hand labor in a field replaces tractor labor, but 100 people with hoes are about equal to 1 tractor.
Even feudalism figured out how to use available labor (and much of Nepal is not far from feudalism) and capitalism in a low energy environment would do the same.
Although there are many features of capitalism which I dislike, capitalism continues to function through war, natural disaster. Even in the Gulag, prisoners buy and sell desired items.

Of course, it's not just houses that are built this way, every fast food joint built in the past 10-20 years ago is built exactly the same way. They just assume that they will have torn down the old restaurant in a brand 're-imaging' after that amount of time.
In my part of the South, termites are a signficant problem unless pesticides or termite bait is used regularly. I expect that once oil/natural gas supplies start to dwindle, termite control will be less available. As a result, homes and businesses in the South will have signficant termite damage, if they are built as they are today.

If buildings in the South are to be long-lasting after peak oil, we may need to use materials like brick and concrete, rather than wood, to make them long lasting.

Alternatively, we may need to build very disposable buildings (mud and sticks), and rebuild them often.

Sorry, I meant to post the above in the 20 year housing discussion.

the roman empire didn't have technology advancing as fast as we do. It is natural for a society with massive change occuring continuously on the scale of, roughly, 20 years or so to primarily build structures that will last through that time horizon without additional maintainance.

20 years may turn out to be too long for some of them. Do you really think all the McMansions built today will still be viable in 20 years? Time moves on, and until societal structure gets a little more stable, it would be foolhardy to build everything to last a century. The Empire State Building is something like 75 years old, and should last anohter 75 no problem. Of course they knew it wasn't going to be in a neighborhood that would become yesteryear's fad! Similarly the New York Times Tower will probably have a similar lifetime, and I imagine it's being built accordingly.

We don't see all the ramshackle structures the romans built because they aren't there anymore. It's survivor's bias. We only see what was great, and the Romans (also knowing that it was great) knew they wouldn't want to tear it down for awhile, so they built it to last.

I'm not sure this is really a modern phenomena.  Plenty of homes built 100 years ago weren't built well either.  We just don't see them, as they've fallen down or been replaced.
Just another coincidence theory book :)
"Ten buildings completely burned to the ground. All but Edison's lab and the storage battery building were reduced to fire-ravaged rubble. It was hypothesized that a random spark from a switch in the film department suddenly ignited the surroundings. Yet it was as though the fire erupted all at once from everywhere across the fireproofed compound in building after building, and even across the walkways. Certainly Edison's complex was filled with every form of flammable chemical and material. But no one could explain certain "funny capers," as they were termed.


But in truth the disaster was not only the final blow to Edison the man, but also to a bold venture by two titans of American invention and entrepreneurship--Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Their plan was to blunt the world's irrepressible and growing appetite for oil and the internal combustion machine. If successful, Edison and Ford--in 1914--would move society away from the ever more expensive and then universally known killing hazards of gasoline cars: air and water pollution, noise and noxiousness, constant coughing and the undeniable rise in cancers caused by smoke exhaust particulates.


Ford went on to reveal that he and Edison had actually been "working for some years" on the vehicle to ensure it would be "cheap and practical." He added some specifics: "The car we propose to build will contain battery equipment weighing 406 pounds, and the entire car will weigh but 1,100 pounds. It will run for 100 miles [without recharge]."

I must admit. This is great stuff. But can you comment on order, relationship, and source? I don't really understand that. I haven't followed link. Is this a new book, or what? Have you read it?
The quotes are from the first chapter of his book, available September 5, 2006. I was struck by the Ford-Edison info too. The author was mentioned on a segment of 'The History Detectives' aired recently.
I like it. We will be returning to this subject.
I have been observing the futures market for quite some time and for the first time Dec 2010 trades above current month contract. That is a marked contraction in just a few days. When the forward month touched 78.50 dec 2010 was at 73.00. With the current month at 69.50 and dec 2010 trading above it, to me suggests the peakers have drawn first blood. Of the long dated futures 2010 is easily the highest traded. The difference  has been shrinking for quite some time as pointed out by others. Now we have a slight premium.  
You got a link so we can watch the futures too??
I have seen the futures. And they work!

How hard is it to invest a few thousand dollars on 2010 oil, at $70? Can any schmuck do it?

Anybody can do it, but from what I understand it gets expensive and you need quite a bit of cash up front as the trade unit is so high. The terminology and so on is quite obtuse, so can take a while to get up to speed.

A much simpler way to invest directly in oil is to use an exchange traded commodity fund. You can buy into the fund through your normal stockbroker and it normally costs the same and has the same minimum trade size as a normal stock. The only problem I see with them is that they are not able to exactly track the oil price due to contango and backwardation in the market.

Has anyone bought into a ETC oil fund? Any useful experiences?

The oil funds typically track the liquid short-term spot market.  This means that they will gyrate heavily with inventories, economic conditions, weather, random stuff like that.

If you want to bet just on oil in 2010, and ignore the short term fluctuations, then you need to bet on the long-dated future.

It is not as hard to buy as you think.  Easiest thing is to open a "universal" account at Interactive Brokers.  You can do your normal stock and mutual fund investing with them---and also, if you are approved and you are careful, you can buy various commodity and financial futures.

The 2010 crude future would likely not fluctuate very much u ntil time passes (i.e. in 2010) so that it becomes the short-term future.  The bid-ask spread will be substantially higher than the short-term liquid future, but if you are buying and holding it is not such a bad idea.

Taxation on regulated futures in USA: profit and loss is allocated as 60% long-term gains and 40% short term gains regardless of actual holding period.

I've been wondering this myself.  Anyone have the answer?
I would suggest options on 2010 futures. Youcan sleep at night and not worry about margin calls.
Minimum you need to cough up would be 3500 to 8000 depending on when and what strike price you buy.
Get educated before getting into futures.It is very very risky.
DO not buy the oil fund  symbol USO. It is a money losing proposition. As the futures for further out contracts are more expensive the fund is perpetually losing money as it sells cheaper near term contracts just before expiration  and buys more expensive new contracts. That thing is a joke. When it started trading it was supposed to track a barrel of oil. It was $70 that day and so was oil. Today that POS is at 64 while oil is at 69.75.
It is a great shorting tool if are negative on short term price movements as this constant decrease in NAV works for you. I assume they will fix this somehow but so far it has been one sad money losing proposition. Best of luck.
Email me if you have any more questions.
I've seen this before, and I haven't been following the markets all that long. It happened in early 2005. It tends to happen after a sudden drop in near-term prices, because the longer term prices move more slowly and take longer to adjust.

The previous time, it stayed that way for only a few days (or maybe even less).

A real sign of Peak Oil will be when long term futures are going up 5-10% per year, and dragging up near term prices with them. We are far from that situation yet.

Excellent point.
I have a question. Does anyone know why gasoline prices have been going down but diesel and heating oil are holding steady or climbing? Thanks.
Following last years hurricanes gas proceeded to run up to $3/gal and barrel prices were $71 a barrel.  Now we've got a run up to near $80 and gas moved a little but not much over $3.  This morning I see gas at $2.54 the lowest in probably at least 6 mos. maybe more like 8. and crude is knocking on $70, barely $1 more.  I would guess some refiners or distributors have been making some nice coin and justifying it somehow.  Any thoughts?
Traders look at inventories for short-term trading, hence prices inversely track inventories. With refinery capacity at > 90% the refiners are drawing down crude inventories a bit faster than they are being replenished, hence relatively higher crude prices. The refined product, mostly gasoline this time of year, is swelling gasoline inventories a bit faster than motorists are using them, hence lower gasoline prices. Plus a myrian other things....
During summertime, refineries are reconfigured to produce more gasoline in order to meet expected demand. Maybe there is a slight glut in the gasoline market due to over-supply? These kinds of small imbalances would happen all the time, I'd think. Probably after Labor Day the mix will be changed again and prices will readjust.
Not that we all here didn't see the housing crunch coming...

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/columnists/all/stories/082906dnbusdimartino.31b0350. html

A year ago, homebuilders were the darling of the credit rating agencies, the entities charged with helping investors determine the financial health of a corporate borrower.

That's striking considering that liquidity issues could lead to ratings downgrades for many builders within the next 12 months.

Break out the champagne boys and girls, the crisis is over!

Washington Post
A Fuel-Good Story At Summer's End
Gas Prices Record Steepest Decline Since November


"Life's got to be a little better if gas is going down," said Craig, who shuttles three carloads of children home in the afternoon. "I went, 'Wow, $3.09, that's not so bad!'

"It's the price of existence," he said as he filled up for $2.99 a gallon at an Exxon station at Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street in the District.

Now that's priceless.

I predict that we will soon start seeing stories about an unexpected climb in President Bush's popularity. His ratings run hand in hand with gas prices, but in the opposite direction of course. Today's population doesn't need bread and circuses, all they want is cheap gas, and they'll be thrilled with their leadership.
Well in Utah they sure are....


The Utah Republican Party is asking its supporters to call Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and tell him they disapprove of his scheduled participation Wednesday in an anti-war rally preceding a visit by President Bush.
Hardcore. OK, I have to totally agree.

It's all just about betting, right? I don't have to reveal my true feelings?

If gasoline moves quickly towards $2.50 and then maintains a steady pattern sub $3 - I have no doubt you will be proven right. Timeframe - until October 2008. That makes this a risky bet.

The real question is - Are you thrilled with your leadership(your - as in that which leads you)?

Newsweek's cover story is about the growing popularity of childlessness...and the backlash it's generating.

For centuries in Western Europe, it was not unusual for a quarter of women to remain childless--a higher rate than in any country today. (In fact, demographers say it was the family-happy 1950s and '60s that defied the historical norm.) But in the past, childlessness was usually the product of poverty or upheaval, of missing men in times of war; infertility strikes 3 percent of couples at most. Today the decision to have--or not have--a child is the result of a complex combination of factors, including relationships, career opportunities, lifestyle and economics.

Men want children even less than women do, but it's men who are leading the backlash:

At the same time, around the world it's mostly men who are at the head of a growing backlash against the childless. Politicians and religious leaders warn darkly of an "epidemic" of childlessness that saps the moral fiber of nations; they blame the child-free for impending population decline, the collapse of pension systems and even the rise in immigration. In Japan, commentators have identified the "parasite single" who lives off society instead of doing his duty to start a family.

But studies suggest that penalizing the child-free with higher taxes doesn't work.  The real reason for falling birthrates is that those who do have children are having fewer of them.  Some countries are trying to raise birthrates by offering subsidies for the third or fourth child born to a family.

I must say, all this reminds me of Tainter's work.  As collapse approaches, population levels off, maybe even declines.  This is seen as a problem by the government, since they need workers, warriors, taxpayers, etc.  So various incentives are offered to encourage childbearing, usually to no avail.    

Alas, world population is still rising.
Yeah, Leanan, I don't think it makes any ultimate sense to see population growth on a national level. It just has to be global. Even China's population still grows, despite all the little emperors who wander around womanless. There is too much migration all over the planet to view this from a narrow perspective.
Population growth will be halted by the collapse, but not before. There's still nooks and crannies left, and forests to cut down, where a few more can fit. The fact that it doesn't happen in our street means little.
I thought it was interesting, not because it means the population problem is "solved," but because governments are seeing the problem as the opposite of what most of us here see it as.  It's falling birthrates they see as the problem.  
Stable societies evolve strategies to limit population in function of carrying capacity.
Anecdotes from my in-laws : in peasant families in the Ardèche, a dirt-poor mountainous region in France, batchelor uncles and maiden aunts abounded. They renounced marriage because they had no prospects : smallholdings were barely big enough to scratch a living for one family, too small to sub-divide. No prospects of raising enough money to buy land. The choices were celibacy or emigration.

Incentives for child-bearing : A few countries have made it work. In France and Finland (very similar demographics), it is clearly demonstrated that empowering women by giving them the possibility of having children AND having a career, is very effective in turning the birthrate around (women WANT to have children, if they can afford to). They are about the only western Euro nation with an above-replacement birthrate

(Ireland is a special case, they seem to have leapfrogged from third world status to hypermodernity with remarkable aplomb)

Stable societies evolve strategies to limit population in function of carrying capacity.

Yes, Diamond and others have covered this.  There are a lot of ways to do it.  Requiring land ownership before you can marry. Encouraging homosexuality and other forms of sex that do not result in children.  Late marriage. Infanticide.  Suicide.  Polyandry.  

But we've lost most of these, and I wonder how long it would take to re-establish them.  Even the classic Western example - having at least one of your children become a nun or a priest - has fallen by the wayside (which is causing problems for the Church).

It won't be long before the army will take the place of the church in your example, and fetch one or two kids from every family. Problem solved?!
Do not underestimate the fertility of soldiers.

When the insane dictator of Paraguay started a war against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay (1865-70) that led to the death (I hear) of 1/3 of the male population, the country was repopulated in two ways;

  1. the victorious occupying troops spawned many bastards
  2. the Catholic Church looked the other way at polygamy.

I predict that by 2100 there will be a large number of half-Chinese kids in North America.  Not sure about Mormons.
Aside from the objections on a moral basis to the solutions you propose, there is a much simpler and in my opinion a much less objectionable method to controlling birthrates.

Allow men and women without children and at any adult age to be allowed to choose whether or not to be "snipped".  I can't speak of other countries, but in the US, most doctors will not perform this operation unless the man or woman is certain they are done having children, and the current measure of this certainty seems to be that the patient already has at least 1 (usually more like 2 or more) children already and is at least over 30 years of age.

If an 18 or 21 year old wanted to go through with it and they did not have any children as yet, most doctors would turn them away.

The reasoning for this that I've been given from some doctor aquaintances I've talked with is that they fear first that some people would change their minds later (a claim I think is moot since especially for men, the surgery is usually reversible).

Secondly, that this would give people a false sense of security in having unprotected sex since one of the main consequences (babies) would be removed (again a claim I question, but does seem to have better reasoning behind it than the "change their mind" argument).

It has been done already in India and Indonesia without much impact on total birthrates seemingly.

(I remember that after the tsunami parents having lost children had the surgery reversed, can't find the link now)

Allow men and women without children and at any adult age to be allowed to choose whether or not to be "snipped".  

I don't think we can count on that level of medical care in the post-carbon age.  Certainly not in the Third World where population is growing the fastest.

CNN had a story about the baby boom currently going on in New Orleans.  The reason?  People were bored, with nothing else to do.  And there was no access to contraception.

I think that there is more to it than this. Historically, after any major disaster/war/famine/plague/what have you, the birth rate goes up. People seem to respond to disaster by reproducing.

If you look at birth rates, you'll also notice that there's a tendency for babies to be born during the summer months -following the long, dark, cold months of winter.

Either way, it doesn't bode well for the population issue when TSHTF.
People were bored, with nothing else to do.  And there was no access to contraception.

TV = population control?

Not a bad theory I guess, but one that will be tough to implement unless we get enough energy alternatives.

Vasectomies are fairly low tech/low risk surgeries, so I don't see an end to PO being an end to that medical procedure short of a complete and utter collapse.  Where there are pockets of civilization, I expect there to be pockets of modern medicine as well.

Tubal Ligations are more serious, and more dangerous, and depending on the extent PO limits the availability or certain medical resources I could see this being more problematic.  Again though, I think with a modicum of modern technology intact, these procedures might be feasible as well.

As for comparing India to the US or other Western countries, I think you are comparing apples and oranges.  Women in India do not possess the same freedoms they do in the West, and the views of a career woman in India are very different than they are in the West as well.  While there is a certain stigma even in the West to a woman not wanting children, it is nothing compared to the stigma a woman in India would have.  Culturally and educationally, India I don't think is ready for the mindset of childlessness or small families especially since they are still primarily an agricultural/peasant society.  Not to say that India might not rapidly adjust their culture or education in response to the population problem when TSHTF, but by then it may be too late to prevent a collapse.

Of course as someone pointed out, the problem of adopting a lower birthrate before TSHTF leads to those who do populate very well, pushing out those that decide not to.  IE some of the problems Europe is beginning to experience with an ever growing and high birthrate Islamic subsection.

Where did India get into this?

Tubal Ligations are more serious, and more dangerous, and depending on the extent PO limits the availability or certain medical resources I could see this being more problematic.

And of course, it's the number of fertile females that counts.  

Sorry, I lumped my response to Kevem about India with a response to you.  Didn't mean to throw you.

As for the fertile female being the part that counts, no that isn't entirely correct also, unless you are assuming polyandry as the social norm, which it isn't in most modern countries or even historically, most societies.

An enforcement of monogomous relationships, where the male has had a Vasectomy will produce the same desired result for a lower risk, than a polyandric(sp?) society where the females must go through Tubal Ligation.

Heck, even a polygimist society where the male has undergone a Vasectomy would be a safer and simpler method of achieving an active sexual society for a lower percentage health risk.

I know that the monogomy thing irks the free luvin' hippies and the polygimist thing irks the feminists/women's rights proponents, but factually, Vasectomies are safer and easier.

Of the two choices, I believe a monogomous setup would be more conducive to preserving the rights won by females than a polygimist setup whereby harems and concubines I think would resurge, and women would be little better than property again.

As for the fertile female being the part that counts, no that isn't entirely correct also, unless you are assuming polyandry as the social norm, which it isn't in most modern countries or even historically, most societies.

No, I am not assuming polyandry as the social norm.

But I am also not assuming that monogamy is the social norm.  Because it isn't.  It may be the ideal in our culture, but in practice...nope.

My sister did her dissertation on an 18th century alchemist/fortuneteller.  She said the most common question his clients asked of him was, "When will s/he die?" - meaning their spouse.  She says because of the high death rates of the time, the average marriage lasted 5 years, even though it was "till death do us part."

P.S.  This article has some fascinating insights on the hazards of assuming monogamy is the norm:

Why is AIDS Worse in Africa?

Your article there I think provides more evidence of the advantages of a monogomous setup.  True I understand it is not currently executed to perfection in our society as there is cheating, and other arrangements but even with the cheating the rate of infection as indicated by the article is being kept low by the behavior.  Sounds like the polygimist and polyandric behaviors of the African people is a potential cause behind their high rates of infection.

But to steer this back to population control, my point originally I think stands.  Wider availablity of Vasectomies and Tubal Ligations combined with monogomous relationships would be a useful tool towards driving population levels down, a goal which when powerdown happens whether forcibly from depletion, or voluntarily will help to ease the effect of resource scarcity.  Fewer people to fuel/heat/feed/mobilize is a direct method of conservation.

Sure, universal monogamy would have some advantages.  But how are we going to achieve it?

Frankly, I think abiotic oil is more likely.  


If you want to keep trying frame my arguments as 100% or 0% solutions go ahead, but it does a disservice to your own arguments.

I'm not stating that 100% monogamy is an attainable goal.  Never did, and never will.  But a push for behaviorial change in this direction could curve the effects of a society with a less monogamous setup, namely STDs and unplanned pregnancies.

Instead of an average 10 sexual partners in the USA what would happen to Birthrates, and STDs if that average was lowered to say 5 or 3?

Further, by focusing on just monogamy, you miss the point of the full solution I was pointing to, Vasectomy of the male in a male/female monogomous relationship as a low cost/low risk silver BB in controlling population growth.  The whole point of monogamy is to prevent the fertile female from getting pregnant while still being able to enjoy sexual activity.  The moment she leaves the monogamous relationship for another male, she exposes herself to the risk of having a child, which is the whole thing we are trying to avoid.

Population is not a problem in the U.S.  If it weren't for immigration, we would be at or below replacement rate.

It's the developing nations where population is growing fastest.  The solution you propose has to work there, not here.  

True the US has a better grip on population concerns than other countries, however, according to the 2000 Census data women were having 2.1 children average.  Some think the .1 helps to offset accidental deaths in the population, and thus a 2.0 rate would actually be decline rate.

Problem I worry about for the US is at roughly 300million people, can the territory we inhabit support us without Oil, gas and the industry and farming techniques we've developed around it.

My initial reaction is probably, but I don't think we will have extra food capacity to help anyone else out.  We will feed ourselves, and the nations that count on our exported food will starve.

Also if biofuels(specifically thinking Ethanol) are to be any portion of the Silver BBs to our energy problem, that means we need to cull population to free up land for fuel production instead of food production.  Personally from what I've read, the algae in the desert idea sounds like a more efficient use of land and resources.

I think the US is toeing the population overshoot line real closely.  Europe, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, sections of SE Asia, and portions of Africa are in for a hard ride, and probably collapse.

Australia, Canada, Russia(if they can ride out the storm from all the surrounding population centers), the US, and most of the Americas, North and South, I think have better odds going for them.

Anyhow its been fun, but I'm bailing from this thread.

kicks the dead horse one more time on the way out

Personally, I hope we don't re-establish suicide and infanticide. Far better to prevent new people from coming into the world, rather than getting rid of them after they're here.
If memory serves, divorce is still unconstitutional in Ireland precisely because it would result in the division of family farms not really large enough to subdivide.
Umm, Finland's total fertility rate is 1.8; France is 1.9. Both below replacement rate.


Ireland is a special case, they seem to have leapfrogged from third world status to hypermodernity with remarkable aplomb

I think you will find its another case of a housing bubble giving a positive gloss on the economy.

The French made a substantial reduction in fertility within marriage starting in the early 19th century, more than two generations before the rest of Europe. This change was regionally very uneven, it took effect where the Church was weak (hard to say which was cause and which effect).
Modern societies do not know how to deal with aging and soon-to-be declining populations. This is a huge problem coming at us right along with peak oil and probably abrupt climate change.

In the long run, countries will be better off with (say) half their current populations and a median age in the forties, but the transition is going to be tough.

The Baby Boomers are supporting my relatively luxurious old age with Social Security, Medicare, and a generous pension.

Who is going to support the retirement of the Baby Boomers, especially when peak oil chokes off real economic growth per capita? Note that we older folk vote, and in a democracy there is no way that the retired and soon-to-be retired will agree to a lower level of benefits than their parents got. And, at the same time, I think there is no way that people under, say forty-five, will agree to much higher levels of taxes that would be needed to meet the expectations of retiring Boomers.

The official line is that economic growth will solve the problem.

Yeah, right.

Very good observation. In other words, if you are under fifty, stop paying into your pension plans, because you will never see that money back. And once the boomers and the obese and the asthmatic kids and the allergic ones start to put real pressure on the health care system, that will be gone too, and you're going to wish you had stayed really fit, and not eaten all that processed stuff while spending your life sitting down..
All these top-heavy institutions will fall by the wayside, just like the electricity grid. They exist by the grace of abundance. And guess what?
The more probable future is that economic contraction will solve the problem...

There will be insufficient resources to go around. Those old and infirm, less able to produce or acquire food and energy, more disease prone, in the wrong place at an unfortunate time - will have a significantly lower likelihood of survival (than now and than others then).

Energy is the real wealth and quite possibly the major determinant of population change. We don't seem to have found an adequate replacement (or alternative lifestyle that we would voluntarily choose) yet for the temporary fossil energy boom and the hour is getting late.

The one SURE consequence of peak oil is that we'll be poorer on the average.  There is no way to stop that, no matter how boomers vote or what whiz-bang technology will be thought of.  Insistence on keeping the same (or higher) nominal number of dollars of entitlements will result in (even faster) inflation.

What is not at all clear is how the smaller pie will be divided.  Will wealth disparities keep growing (neo-feudalism), or will a social upheaval result is a restructuring of the economy towards a more equitable system?

As long as the promise of "economic growth" keeps the common folks from rebelling, the current system buys time and the rich get richer yet.  At some point people in the USA will notice that they're falling back despite all the promises.  Many people in the rest of the world already noticed that.  The Chinese "growth miracle" will pop and the wealth disparities there will spark mega-rage.  Post-peak, even businessmen will eventually realize that there's no room left for "growth".  What will happen then?

We in the USA can be poorer but happier, if we change priorities.  For example, single-payer health care in other industrialized countries costs less (per capita) in total than the public expenditures portion alone of the US health care "system" and results in better health status of the general population.  (I wish I kept that link, it was published in a staid US mainstream journal on health care systems.)  Even Cuba has better public health outcomes than the USA.

Well, just to take a stab at the SS issue...

Taxation of Social Security benefits isn't indexed to inflation, unlike most others in the tax code (one other thing that isn't: the AMT). So, the gutless politicians don't have to reduce the benefits, they just let the fullness of time do its work.  Likewise, Medicare premiums are going to increase exponentially in the future, so more of your SS benefits will go towards your government health care. These things won't be nearly enough to cover the shortfall, but it should mitigate it somewhat.

This is the reason for all established parties in Sweden fairly silently rearranging the pension system to automatically lower the pensions if the incomes to the system dont grow fast enough. Its called "the brake", probbaly since it lowers the pensions when calculated debt and credit dont match well in advance of the funds running empty. Rearranging it will require more then 50% of the votes in parliament.

That this could be done to avoid a financial disaster about 15-20 years into the future probably makes it more likely that we will implement good post peak oil plans if we get more then a series of ordinary oil crises as the one in the 70:s and absolutely have to do drastic things to handle the situation.

Not only are those of us currently in college/grad school supposed to support the Baby Boomers in retirement, we're also supposed to pay back the federal deficit and raise our own children.


Even if every one of us ends up in a high-powered career, we wouldn't be able to do that. We probably won't even have the money to do two of those, much less all three. So, if it comes down to a choice -which do you think we're going to pick?

If you think you get to pick, you are indeed an optimist.
A delusional one. But you can v be optimistic about that too. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

When your entire society is faced with all these problems, and as you state the issues, you still do so in current energy rich terms, that society will change radically, it will have to.

But any which way you turn this, it ain't lookin' good for the boomers.

I'm not saying we'd be allowed to choose. ;-)

But when things get so bad that people can't feed themselves or their families, and their being taxed to death, generally their is a revolution.

Those of you currently in college/grad school?

Ok, quick reality check for you here. What percentage of the U.S. population has a B.A. degree?

About a third.

But what I meant was, those of us in the college age category. Though this will be the most educated group of adults in human history, since over half of my generation are/will attend college, thanks to the relative affluence and liberal financial aid policies.

I really doubt are children will have it so well.

You are an optimist.  Liberal financial aid policies?  Let me enlighten you on at least that fact. I'm finishing my bach degree right now. My parents are middle middle class at best.  When it came time to go to college my mom and I split the cost of my first two years & I went to community college.  First two yrs paid in full.  Transferred to state school to finish and I am capped at what I'm allowed to borrow.  Well that number hasn't changed since the 70's I am told.  No it's not changed for inflation at all.  My mom has to pay the difference or I don't go to school.

Tuition has gone up nearly 40% since I started (3 year plan).  Every semester my mom takes out another loan to cover my difference in costs.  This nightmare will finally end next year as I finish.  She was forced to borrow $12K and I've got another $15K.  This is absolutely insane.

Oh and financial aid let me see.  I was 30 in my class of 400.  I'm white and male.  Parents make "too much."  The only thing available was stanford loans and I did apply for several scholarships however since I chose to work in high school, that counted against me too.  I'm not complaining(maybe a little), but I tend to find a lot of similar cases around campus and they are not all white and male.  It's sad.

Relatively liberal. Until very recently there was no such thing as financial aid. Either Mommy and Daddy were rich enough to send you to college, you were lucky enough to get a wealthy sponsor or some other miracle occured, or you didn't go at all.

tate, I know how hard it is to get the money for college. I was the first person in my family to go. Most of them didn't even finish high school. The only reason I was able to go was Pell grants, Stafford Loans, and a whole lot of part time work. When my parents, aunts, and unlces were my age those programs weren't around.

So, yes, we do have 'liberal' financial aid policies. Much better than the historical precedent at any rate!

Education is simply one of the corner stones of societies and civilization as a whole.  For this reason, higher education should be easy to access for everyone and this can work with private colleges.  I'll hope for inflation to wipe my debt out.
I think the difference is the timescale you are looking at.  

Compared to 1860 or 1930, yes, financial aid in the U.S. is "liberal." Compared to 1970 - no way.  

When the boomers were in college, there was tons of financial aid.  No more.  Most students are forced to get loans, unless they are really poor.  

When the boomers started families, mortgage and other housing programs increased.  Now that they are aging, we can expect social security and Medicare to increase.  

They've got numbers on their side.

Since you put it that way, I'm paying for my parent's "almost free" ride.  Wow that hurts the pocketbook.
Thanks for saying this.  I have often thought that there is baby-boomer bashing and blaming on TOD, by "ourselves" mostly.  The truth is, we are not the ones who started this industrial revolution, but we sure have funded a nice retirement for those generations ahead of us.  In return, I fear that we will be in the most trouble of all--at a difficult age when TSHTF and SS and Medicare funding runs out.  Those younger than us will be in a difficult, but better situation to adapt.  Its really the perfect storm for boomers.  I know there are many of us out there who give boomers a bad name, not all though, and in defense, we have been victims of the media, and advertising industries.  
we [Baby Boomers] have been victims of the media, and advertising industries.

I'm a Boomer too.
But that is not fair.
Why pick on one subset of our Adam Smithian society? People in media and advertising are just "doing their thing" (to use a Boomer colloquialism) just like each practitioner in each zone of specialization is "grooving" in his or her own "professional" digs.

Our college professors never explained to us that everything is a lie. (Because if they did, we would have to take them out and shoot them.) So they kept preaching the wonderments of our prosperous economic system and how the Great Depression can never happen again and how "if we can go to the Moon, we can do anything".

Why pick on media and advertising? It's everybody. It's all of us. We were all suckers.

Everyone bought into that lie just like everyone bought into dot.com stocks just before the bottom fell out.

Oh, come on SB.  You know that we can hardly get 20 ft out our doors these days without being bombarded with advertising.  For that matter, we're being bombarded within our own homes if we listen to radio, tv, internet, open our mailboxes etc.  Every year the percent increase around us grows even higher.  If I could eliminate the advertising from my life, I'd be a happier person. If I could have raised my (now teenagers) without the influence of advertising, both they and I would be happier, as well.  I'm not saying it's all bad, but I'd sure like to be able to stop the hundreds of credit card applications my college child is now receiving.  But I can't.

It works. I tried it, and the only junk mail I get now is from folks I all ready have business with. Which unfortunately is still quite a lot.

It does take 4-6 weeks to kick in though.

I have had a great many advantages in life. One of them was to be born in 1940, rather than ten or twenty years later.

When I was a freshman in college, the costs were negligible ($42.50 per semester at UC, Berkeley for all the classes you wanted to take), jobs were very easy to find after college . . . and not least, I was just the right age for the Liberation of women and all the fun we had in the sixties:0

My pension is defined benefit and rather generous and quite secure--something that very few Boomers can look forward to.

I was brought up in the shadow of the Great Depression and World War Two and before television, and thus I learned to practice frugality and saving as great virtues.

To a large extent, your chances in life depend on when you were born (and other matters over which one has no control such as gender, social class, country of origin).

To some extent my "success" in life has been self-made, but to a much greater extent it depended on good genes and good luck.

Men want children even less than women do, but it's men who are leading the backlash.

This suggests to me that (some) men are beginning to lament their loss of control over women, and perhaps seeking to re-establish it. It makes me worry for my daughters, and even more for any daughters they might have.

That is one reason I am not confident birthrates will continue to fall.  

From  Tiptree's The Women Men Don't See:

"Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like -- like that smoke. ... And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You'll see."
You're very right Leanan. Not just women, every individual and group perceived as weak or weaker will be blamed and taken advantage of. A shallow veneer of culture propped up by abundance is all we have accomplished.
Alexis Ziegler has an interesting perspective on this at conev.org.  PO'ers should find the rest of his articles interesting also.
"[M]en are beginning to lament their loss of control over women, and perhaps seeking to re-establish it.

I recently heard a talking head saying the same thing in explaining the rise of Islam, particualrly among younger men.

A decline in fertility rates is good news, certainly. Still, I see the DINK family model (dual income, no kids) as terribly flawed. A good portion of the ToD community seemingly envision a future in which we live more locally, produce more of our own food, and -- almost certainly -- engage in more manual labor and live with fewer resources.  And therein, lies the rub.  With fewer people in the household to share responsibilities, divide up the chores, and help to generate income than, say, would have been the norm a couple of generations ago, this "powerdown" vision is going to run into a wall.

I'm convinced that living well in the future is going to entail a complete rethinking of our current living arrangements.  How closely we live to one another (both literally and figuratively), how we divide up the necessary labors, and how we share resources, will to a great extent determine our quality of life.  Alternate living arrangements have, of course, been tried, and at least with respect to the most recent American experiences (thinking of the communes of the sixties and seventies), pretty much been abandoned.  Still, I think we have a pressing need to try to redefine our family and community relations and to figure out what we have to share that would benefit all concerned.  

I harbor no illusions about the difficulties of redefining such relationships -- particularly amongst folks accustomed to the luxury of being able to afford their own (e.g. the typical American). But I think smaller families and fewer resources will force us to take some risks in this direction.

Communes didn't exactly vanish. They morphed into the much more workable cooperative living arrangement, which is alive and well, and actually thriving.
Yes, correct. I didn't mean to imply that all cooperative communities had failed. I know of a couple examples in our area and I'm sure there are more that I'm unaware of.
The real reason for falling birthrates is that those who do have children are having fewer of them....

Leanan, that may be one of the real reasons, but there is an even `realer' one - it's that the West has become de facto Godless (except for Kansas). In the bad old days the vast majority of the populace believed that God (and Jesus in particular) gets really upset if you wear a condom, practice coitus interruptus or in any other way prevent Mother Nature from doing her thing and ensuring that women will have approximately four children every three years.

And people who did evil things like that could well end up in eternal fire, because when God gets hot and bothered that's what he tends to do: one stroke and you're out! Now that most people no longer believe in God (and certainly not in Hell), or believe that God is basically a decent chap and may sentence the birth-controllers to, say, a mere 3 billion years in Purgatory, which is just a fleeting instant when compared with eternity, they are likely, in medias res  to wear French letters, insert Dutch caps, swallow birth control pills, have the Fallopian tubes sown up, and so forth.

And it came to pass that recreational sex trumped procreational sex, and the birthrate fell among the godless ones and they eventually wiped themselves out and were replaced by the true believers, who know that the world was created in six days  ....

So various incentives are offered to encourage childbearing ...

Fear of hell is the best incentive of all.


Not sure I agree with this.  There was plenty of sin, even when people supposedly believed in hell.  

Then there are the Calvinists, predestination, election, etc.  God has already decided who will be saved, and who won't.  So it doesn't matter what you do, your fate is already decided.  

If the purpose of religion is social control, one would think that predestination would undermine the whole shebang.  But in practice, it didn't.  Turns out, people didn't worry that much over what God thought.  They were more concerned about what the neighbors thought.  They behaved because they didn't want other people thinking they were not among the elect.  IOW, it's not going to hell that's bad, it's everyone knowing about it that you want to avoid.  

Never underestimate the power of peer pressure...

There was plenty of sin, even when people supposedly believed in hell.

All depends on what you mean by 'plenty'. There's certainly more sin today -- harlots and fornicators being the rule rather than the exception. And the fact is that the religious on the whole do have more children than infidels - compare Ultra-Orthoox with liberal Jews, Arab Muslims with secular Arabs, for example. BTW, in Darwinian terms, religion always (eventually) wins. Evolution, so to speak, favours those who don't believe in it.

Off on a bit of a tangent -- here's a citation from Garrett Hardin that might be of general interest to TOD readers:

It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding of mankind in the long run [...]. Charles Galton Darwin made this point when he spoke on the centennial of the publication of his grandfather's great book. The argument is straightforward and Darwinian.

People vary. Confronted with appeals to limit breeding, some people will undoubtedly respond to the plea more than others. Those who have more children will produce a larger fraction of the next generation than those with more susceptible consciences. The difference will be accentuated, generation by generation.

In C. G. Darwin's words: "It may well be that it would take hundreds of generations for the progenitive instinct to develop in this way, but if it should do so, nature would have taken her revenge, and the variety Homo contracipiens would become extinct and would be replaced by the variety Homo progenitivus


You'll find the entire article here.


There's certainly more sin today -- harlots and fornicators being the rule rather than the exception.

Not sure I buy that one.

As Barry Burg points out in Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition, we have a tendency to look at upper class Victorian mores, and draw a line back to Biblical times, assuming that moral sensibilities were the same all the way back (except maybe even more conservative).  

It's not true.  Sexual mores varied a lot over time.  In some ways, they were even more permissive in the past.  

That's assuming that the children of a given subculture stay within that subculture.  That's true to some extent, but many reject their parents' mores.
There's certainly more sin today -- harlots and fornicators being the rule rather than the exception.

Gratuitous affirmation :
Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

And the more religious are not the less prone to indulge in recreational sex :
Look away, Dildo Land The author of "Sex in the South" whoops it up at a sex-toy sales meeting in Arkansas.

Pre-1940's there was a brothel in every town.  It was accepted.  Sex just wasn't talked about.  But it occurred.

I would wager that many of a wife encouraged their husband to visit the "Ladies".  To get them off her... er... back.

The real reason for falling birthrates is that those who do have children are having fewer of them.

Well hell, that goes without saying doesn't it? That is like saying; "The real reason most people don't live to be 100 is because most of them die before they reach that age." The statement is obviously true but totally without any meaningful information whatsoever.

The question is obviously; why are people having fewer children? The answer to that question depends on; what group of people are you talking about? If you are talking about the developed West, then there are several answers. There is the empowerment of women, higher education, the availability of birth control and so on. But if you are talking about the Sub-Sahara Africa, India, Bangladesh or anywhere else in the third world, then there is an entirely different answer. There is massive overcrowding in most of the third world. In Guatemala and many other places in Latin America children dumped on the streets at the age of four or five to fend for themselves. These children don't grow up to have many children themselves because they don't usually live that long.

In Africa many adults of childbearing age have AIDS. Most of the others suffer from malnutrition. Malnourished women are not as fertile and suffer miscarriages at a much higher rate. Basically the birth rate is dropping in the third world purely for Malthusian reasons.

In a vastly overcrowded world, it was bound to happen.

Ron Patterson

Well hell, that goes without saying doesn't it?


Politicians want to penalize people who don't marry and have children, with the idea that they are the reason for falling birthrates.

In fact, historically speaking, the number of people who don't have kids at all is not high.

This matters if you want to increase the birthrate.  It suggests that you're better off encouraging those who do have kids to have a few more, rather than trying to force those who don't have any to have some.

Some of the factors you mentioned have been posited as reasons for the decline, but the fact is, nobody really has figured it out yet. It seems to be a pretty worldwide phenomenon among Westernized countries, the US somewhat excepted. China's reduction is easy to explain: severe coercion from the government. A drop in the infant mortality rate tends to preceed it by a number of years.
Try and paint with a less broad brush. Sub-Saharan Africa is not a unit. Over much of it there has been no decline in fertility, nor any significant effect of AIDS. Nor has there been a decline in fertility in Guatemala.
Interesting, if a bit wordy, article in peakoilblues.com on the energy protests in Europe in 2000.

"A year before 9/11/2001 happened in the USA, a ‘terrifying incident’ of a different sort happened in Europe that changed how political leaders across the world would forever understand the essential role oil resources played in the ‘developed nations.’"

The take-home is best summarized by the first comment in that blog thread:

"Too many pundits engage in dry debates about “protocols” and “powering down” strategies that will guide the world into a “soft landing” after the depletion of cheap fossil fuels. The problem with this debate is there is too much focus on humanity’s ability to craft a “clever” solution. The real challenge of humanity’s dark side is utterly discounted. Fear, panic, anxiety, and covetousness will not take a holiday while the “clever” among us plan a better future. The paradox of peak oil will be the question of how we can craft creative solutions that will entail no small degree of sacrifice and cooperation while keeping the darker impulses of mass panic, rage, and greed at bay. I hope that the PO community will take a hard look at the “5th of September”. There are so many seperate historical threads in this story that are worth discussing in depth. First, it is important to note that this was a crisis that was provoked not by a lack of oil, but by an overabundance of frustration and rage. How many more times in the future will our rage and fear mutiply the impact of a difficult sitation? It is unfortunate that the American media buried this story."

From the PeakOilBlues.com article on September 5th:

It is clear that delivering fossil fuels to those who can afford it, is of utmost importance to the keepers of our culture. They have learned the painful lessons about what happens when the flow of oil stops. All of you in the Peak Oil community realize that it will stop, but before it does, it will become wildly expensive. The events of September 5th, 2000, tell us that we will be cut out of who will still have access to dwindling resources, and who will not. If we pay attention to the actions of our leaders, we will learn that they will protect the flow of oil first, our safety second, and our freedoms last.

This doesn't give me much hope that the US gov't is going to give up its war on the Middle East.

Also, how is it again that we're all not completely screwed?


Hey, we're "special"! We're "above" that sort of thing. We're annointed from ghod (or some other entity) and destined to rise above all.

I mean, you just have to believe, right? Believe hard enough and the world will "evolve" into something magically better, yeah? And besides, we have technology and that makes us even more special, doesn't it?

As for the US and wars in the Middle East, what's the line from that old song? "We've only just begun..."

On a more serious note, Chris Vernon's recent post over at TOD:UK on UK population is fascinating stuff, including the facts of how hard it was to sustain the UK during the blockades of WWI and WWII when population was closer to 40 million than today's 60+ million.

Hello VtPeaknik,

Thxs for this link.  It provides evidence to buttress my beliefs in the fast-crash scenario, but I continue to work to prevent it.

I have posted this before, but the sad irony is the Cornucopians' Message brings the Peak sooner with a fast decline, and the Doomers' Message delays the Peak date and helps prevent precipitious collapse.

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

In the US, fuel taxes are around 20%. In EU, taxes are more than 50% of the price, so more goes to gov than to oil exporters. In this situation it is easy to blame gov for high prices.  EU consumers using a lot of fuel in their jobs, eg truckers, naturally think gov is to blame, and realize the problem can be solved with the stroke of a pen... so, find the guy with the pen.
In the US, most consumers realize that tax is only a small part of the problem.
In the US, whatever your problem is, it's somebody else's fault.  (That's why we have more than a million lawyers.)  In the case of high fuel prices, all the recent hoopla in the MSM is that people think they are being gouged, and blame TPTB, want to "throw tne bums out".  In the US the citizens have been lulled into being consumers, and they expect TPTB to take care of them.  (We now even have the "entitlement generation".)  Even the lessons from Katrina (one year today) have not quite sunk in, yet, but people do seem to have a rising sense that all is not well with the system.  Eventually they will bring their demands to TPTB, like some did in Europe 6 years ago.  But when?  At $4/gal?  $8?  And what will TPTB do then?  (Halliburton is already paid to build detention camps.)
And what will TPTB do then?  (Halliburton is already paid to build detention camps.)

It's comforting to know that at least some people are prepared.

The real entitlement generation is living in the EU.  The social net is quite ragged here compaed to there. Note the fuss, and eventual reversal, every time they try to reduce entitlements there.  'Welfare as we know it' was, in fact, seriously reduced under Clinton.

Comment from "Nick" yesterday:

"Well, the problem is that the human experience is not just mildly inconsistent with the idea of animal population overshoot (and the reindeer story), it's completely the opposite.

The reindeer story is perfectly consistent with the normal "ecological overshoot" idea, which is that reproduction, fertility and population growth stay very high until the resources in the environment are exhausted, and then cannot be sustained by the resources, resulting in suddenly skyrocketing malnutrition and death rates."

It may look "orderly" to you, sir, if you only look at the last few generations but if you look at those reindeer, the last few generations before the crash were slowing down in birth rate too. Remember a new generation of reindeer are born annually. For humans that's a 20+ year cycle. So the truth is that our population is flattening right at the top of this curve, just like other mammals do when they near the crash phase.

Further, your claim that this is orderly simply provokes howls of laughter when viewed in the larger historical context. Let's look at human population in the larger historical context, shall we?

Now take a good look at that and tell me how that absurd, almost vertical exponential growth curve differs from the reindeer or the yeast or any other species. And please refrain from pleas that we humans are different and thus special. We've already wrecked the biosphere and are just finishing the job. You can go right on believing that we're "special" and somehow immune to the coming population crash. Just let me know where you live so I can bury your remains if I happen to wander by after the dieoff. Heck, I'll even throw in a prayer to your favorite deity if you let me know which one.

GreyZone, for once I agree with you 100%. The fall in population rates, because of affluence is but a drop in the bucket. As someone else wrote today, you have to look at the entire world.

As far as the entire world is concerned, the rate of population growth is slowing, but it is entirely because of Malthusian reasons. That is, in Africa and much of Asia, the population growth rate is falling because of an increase in death rates. The fertility rate is falling because people with diseases such as AIDS, and malnutrition related diseases. Malnurished women are just not as fertil as well fed women. Starving people simply have less kids.

Nick is simply wrong when he says:

Now, might we still go into overshoot?  Maybe, but we're clearly not seeing a decline in growth because of it.

Wrong! We are clearly already deep into overshoot and we are clearly seeing a decline in the growth rate because of it. We have been deep into overshoot for several decades now.

David Price wrote of the problem in 1995. We are way past the point of no return. We are clearly headed for the same destiney as the reindeer on St. Matthew Island.

Ron Patterson

We have been deep into overshoot for several decades now.

Two hundred years if you ask me. Now here's something to make you feel real good: The World Population Clock

Political correctness is obviously not your forte [smiley]

Good stuff!

This is where I find inroads to the older generation.  My father in law is new to computers.  I taught him how to search anything he wants from google.  He is addicted now.

He started asking about over population so I busted out the HOCKEY stick graph and his faced turned white.  He quickly looked at it and said we doubled everyone since I was born?  I said yeh and then some.  He bout $hit a brick.  He quickly realized the error of all this and lamented that he was glad to be in one of the biggest countries with a mere 300M people.  

Anyway we found this site and started watching the clock. There were so many babies born in the 30 secs we watched, he couldn't believe it at all.  It was surreal to him that this could be happening.

He knows the entire US dominance will end and he fears he'll be alive to watch it.  He believes exactly what I preach, that Rome was the greatest civilzation of its time and they died from within.  I would wager it's no different only now it's called the USA.

Anyway we found this site and started watching the clock. ...

Just to add to your father's distress, I suggest you simultaneously watch Chevron's Oil and Gas Consumption Clock at their 'Will You Join Us' website.

Dont know if this will post right, but after loking at the clock and laughing my ass off (not the reaction he would do probably) I clicked on the hydrogen poll to the right.


If it doesn't display right,

39% chose hydrogen being available in 10 yrs
27% chose 25 yrs
11% chose 50 yrs
23% (ME) chose never

Now, who are these people?  J/K...

Nick is simply wrong when he says

Yes, but he his just another troll with a (corporate?) agenda there is no point arguing with him.

So, you expect to be a survivor?
I'm planning on it. I may not make it but hey, one can at least try, right? I figure there's a much higher probability in dying for those that don't prepare at all so I can at least offer to bury the poor bloke's remains.

In the meanwhile, as I said previously, grab a cold one, pull up a chair, and watch civilization kill itself. It's trying really hard and I'd hate to intervene and disappoint it.

I couldn't have said it better.
Grey I have to agree with you on most points but one.

We are special, and I don't mean that in a "escape the consequences" type mentality.

Unlike other animals who are extremely tied to their niche humans, (along with rats, and roaches) have an amazing adaptability, and perhaps most importantly, a brain which can react to stimuli in manners other organisms can't.

I have no illusions that maintaining or increasing a 6 billion person population is feasible barring some major breakthrough(border on miracle).  But I do think that unlike the yeast, deer, and other organisms who become trapped in a finite system, humans may have the capacity to avoid a collapse, and instead enter a "controlled" fall.

Certain social trends make me wonder if this is likely, but I think more than any other animal, the potential for a controlled fall is most prominent in the human species.

Chalk it up to false hope or denial if you want, but if we really are doomed to collapse on a grand doomers scale, then why bother having this site or having conversations on how to mitigate impacts.  If the world ends tomorrow, get your SUV, beer, woman(substitute man where applicable) and party hardy while you can.

Well, I think in that thread he also disclaimed knowledge that our current overshoot has resulted in depletion of resources, starvation, etc., a la Club of Rome.
Nick, I mean.  Darn that format...
Detroit Sees Cheap Gas as History

TOLEDO, Ohio, Aug. 28 -- The Chrysler Group, which depends more heavily on sales of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles than any other Detroit automaker, said Monday that it expected gasoline prices to remain at $3 to $4 a gallon for the rest of this decade.


Ford's chief sales analyst agreed Monday that high gas prices were not a temporary phenomenon, although he did not cite a price range. The analyst, George Pipas, said the auto company expected gas prices to remain high, volatile and unpredictable.

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a front-page article on the development of new refineries around the world (and in particular it focuses on the world's largest refinery being built in India)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reprinted the article, titled Giant New Oil Refinery in India Shows Forces Roiling Industry:

Of particular interest, the article notes:

  • Refining profit margins currently are quite good
  • From a financial perspective, it's "better" to build new refineries overseas instead of in the US (cheaper labor, less environmental red tape, etc.)
  • Wood MacKenzie counts 500 plans to build or expand refineries around the world (and expects half of them to actually get built)
  • Many of these new refineries will be able to handle heavy, high-sulfur varieties of crude oil
  • Not only is the US becoming more dependent on foreign crude oil, it is becoming more dependent on foreign refined petroleum products (e.g. gasoline)
Hello TODers,

A copy of my recent email to the national Red Cross:
Hello Red Cross,

I am a forum member of TheOilDrum.com [TOD], and have studied Peakoil at Dieoff.com and EnergyBulletin.net for several years.  I was interested in reading your official plans and policies of how you plan to respond to this fossil fuel depletion event that will continue to get worse every year.

You are encouraged by me to join TOD and post your plans there for discussion by our members.  We have many experts that will propose suggestions to help improve your ability to save lives and reduce violence, besides saving your organization multi-millions of dollars.

I thank you in advance for your reply.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?
IF I get a reply, I will post it here on TOD.


Have they replied yet?  I am interested to hear what they say.

Hello Consume More,

I just got emailed back: the normal computer software reply thanking me for my submittal.  My guess is their spam filter auto-deletes all incoming email unless it has the keywords: volunteer or donation, but we will see.

My biggest disappointment was my emailed suggestion to GOOGLE.  Underneath the I'm Feeling Lucky button, I suggested they included an I'm Feeling Unlucky button that would always take the user to Dieoff.com.

My goal was to make Jay Hanson's Magnum Opus the #1 worldwide website in hits and visit time. But I guess Google's stock price is more important than optimizing the Dieoff Bottleneck.  Such is life.

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

My biggest disappointment was my emailed suggestion to GOOGLE.  Underneath the I'm Feeling Lucky button, I suggested they included an I'm Feeling Unlucky button that would always take the user to Dieoff.com.

totoneila, that's the funniest damned thing I've heard in a while.

I suggested they included an I'm Feeling Unlucky button

If you really did that and got a reply could you share it?
If you didn't, DO IT NOW!

Hello Kevembuangga,

It was approx. 3 years ago when I first emailed this suggestion to GOOGLE--I am still waiting for an answer.  Maybe if everyone at TOD emailed Google, someone might get an answer.

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

Time to get bearish on oil price?

US consumers' confidence tumbled to its lowest level in nine months amid fears over deteriorating business conditions and a weaker jobs market, according to a monthly index published on Tuesday by the Conference Board.

The last global economic slow down instigated by the price of oil was the early 80s. From 1978 to 1983 US oil consumption fell by 17%, while global consumption from 1979 to 1983 fell by 10%. That would be drop in US of 3.4 mbd and global 8 mbd today.

If the economy tanks $70 a barrel, it's going to be important to say we can't just grow again. Oil has now put cap on our oil-century and our way out is going to be a new energy economy.

Unlike the 70's there is no reserve capacity at present and S&D constraints borne from peak oil will negate any downturn in prices due to a downturn in demand.  It will simply mean S&D are more balanced in the short term.  We all know the long term trend of crude prices.
I'm not sure I'd bet on that in the short term. What does reserve capacity in the 70s have to do with how much consumption was cut?
I'm mixing your consumption and prices up a bit.  I don't get what you're saying about $70 oil.  

I'm saying that even if we try and cut consumption peak oil will mitigate the gains due to a permanent loss in supply, not temp like in the 70's.  The price will move little if the demand is falling just as supply is falling.  

I dont disagree, I'm talking short term. I haven't seen any numbers to say that depletion with no replacement is going to be double digit in next couple years, but there is growing outlook that the global economy could take pretty hard hit in the next year. Which if it happens, will seriousily impact consumption and the price of oil.

Its something people concerned with peak oil should be concerned, because there's going to be a lot of questioning how to get out of it and there needs to be voices saying we need a new energy economy, we need to even decrease consumptin more, and thats going to be hard arguement in recession.

I firmly believe we are headed for a harsh recession since we aborted the one in 2000.  It's like we're goign to squeeze in two to make up only I really think we're staring at the perfect storm for a depression in every sense of the word.  Just my humble opinion.
Interesting EB article:
US vs. Iran: Is an attack inevitable?
Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar, Al Bawaba


...The US is a declining empire and can no longer afford to play by the rules; not that it ever was inclined to do so. The talk of pre-emption was a clear sign of the fear that soon US would not be able to control the situation. It was decided to try to arrest the growth and ambition of all those countries that were going to challenge the US hegemony in the international system. But pre-emption is a last desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. The folly of believing that by pre-emption a great power can hold its place in the international system is clearly stated by the historian Paul Kennedy:

"So far as international system is concerned, wealth and power, or economic strength and military strength, are always relative and should be seen as such. Since they are relative, and since all societies are subject to the inexorable tendency to change, then international balances can never be still, and it is a folly of statesmanship to assume that they ever would be".

Stupid or not, this is exactly what the current US administration is trying to do. After examining all the possible scenarios of how to forestall the US' decline, it came up with one solution: control of oil fields. If the US could physically control the sources of world energy, it could practically determine the growth of the world economies and by extension their military powers that were to challenge it in the future. Of course, the US government could achieve a similar outcome by entering into an alliance with two major Middle Eastern countries Iran and Iraq, but this would require a rethink of its Israel strategy; something that a US president is not even allowed to contemplate.

So they tried to implement this grand strategy. The current US administration under the pretext of "war on terror" invaded Iraq and occupied it. Now we have to note that Iraq was chosen first because it was extremely weak. After 8 years of war with Iran, a devastating war with the US and its coalition in Kuwait and nearly 10 years of sanctions, Iraq was in no position to put-up any kind of resistance. On top of all these, the US government through its agents in UN team in Iraq had obtained blueprints of all military installations, and had even bought the general responsible for the defence of Baghdad.

It was envisaged that once Iraq was occupied and the population pacified, the US and UK forces would turn around and occupy the Iranian Southern oil region of Khuzestan. The area is relatively flat and is ideal for armour assault. Once the oil fields are occupied, it was thought, it would be only a matter of time for the regime in Tehran to collapse; paving the way for a puppet regime to be installed in Tehran.

Having bases in Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, the US would control over 30% of the world's natural gas and over 61% of the world proven oil reserves. China, India, EU and others had to then pay tribute to the US to ensure their economic survival. If that was not enough, the US would create a sphere of influence in Iraq and Iran analogous to the old colonial system of economic exploitation. I know that you may find this difficult to accept; after all we can not believe that these sorts of things can happen today. But it does happen and what is more, people love to make it happen. To make my point clear, consider what this US administration had planned for Iraq...
(27 Aug 2006)

EB Comments:  Long article. Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He is also on the editorial board of CASMII. He's a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway.

The Project for a New American Century laid bare?

Pretty incendiary stuff, if true.

Re:  The Project for a New American Century laid bare?

I have concluded that there are two types of Americans:  (1)  those who have realized that the Neocons' plans for the Middle East have failed and (2)  those who will realize that the Neocons' plans for the Middle East have failed.

Every time I hear Bush talking about staying the course--otherwise all the American soldiers who have died will have died in vain--I think of Philip Caputo's book "Rumor of War," about his experience in Vietnam.  Caputo started out as a gung-ho Marine Second Lieutenant.  He gradually came to realize that the US was bogged down in a sometimes multiparty civil war (at one point, various factions of the South Vietnamese Army were at war with each other).  

The most frequent criticism that Caputo received as he started questioning the war was that if the US pulled out, everyone who had died would have died in vain.  I think that Caputo was there at about the halfway point, about 25,000 Americans dead, on the way to the final toll of 50,000 plus.  

Retired three star general Newbold, who resigned in protest over the Iraq War (prior to the invasion), said that the military let itself be duped again by the civilian leadership--just like Vietnam.  

I would say that American troops are in Iraq for the duration.  We could invoke "peace with honor," declare the war over, and come home from Vietnam. Vietnam wasn't sitting atop the life blood of industrial society in the way that Iraq is.  

I expect that a few Democrats and independents will successfully campaign on a "bring the troops home" platform in the next couple of elections, but no Democratic candidate for President will do so and be able to keep that promise.

westexas -

I read the entire Bakhtiar article, and I think he is right on. (Unfortunately.)

It is hard to escape the validity of the premise that if the US wan't to remain the world's premier superpower, it will have to control most of the world's oil supply. If it wants to control most of the world's oil supply, it will have to control the Middle East. If it wants to control the Middle East, it will have to install compliant regimes in both Iraq and Iran.   If it wants to install compliant regimes in both Iraq and Iran, it will have to i) continue the Iraqi occupation indefinitely, and ii) attack Iran. QED

I am now convinced that the Bush regime  will not deviate one nanometer from this path.

Under this administration there is no way in the world that the US is going to withdraw from Iraq, even if the situation stabilizes rather than spins off into chaos, as it appears to be doing. The size and permanance of our bases in Iraq puts the lie to the notion that we are ever going to withdraw.

It is quite clear that the US relations with Iran is now far worse than when Bush came into office. Iran's new chuminess with both Russia and China, as expressed in various oil and gas deals, is an extended middle finger right in the face of the US. Furthermore, the current neocon ideology coupled with the strong influence of the Israeli lobby will make it all but impossible for any sort of accord with Iran.

The US is steadily building up a case for military action against Iran. It wants. It needs it. Israel wants it and needs it. All that is lacking is a pretext for war. And that can all too easily be supplied by a fabricated Tonkin Gulf type of incident or a conveniently timed  major terrorist attack to be pinned on Iran.

Another conceivable scenario is for Israel to attack Iran 'all on its own', fully knowing that Iran will counter attack, and that the US would be waiting ready to  defend Israel by attacking Iran.

The Bush regime has indeed painted itself into a dark corner.  The only way for there to be peace is for the US to admit that it screwed up and cease its grand plan to militarily dominate the Middle East. I just don't see that happening as long as Bush is in office. These people do not have any Plan B. So, I think they are going to roll the dice and go for broke sometime before Bush leaves office.  

As long as the US is committed to spending hundreds of billions of dollars on its Middle East campaign, there will never be anything more than lip service and nickles and dimes put toward alternative energy, mass transit, and the restructuring of our infrastructure to be more energy-efficient. More and more money is being sucked up by the US war machine.

I try not to be overcome by a sense of futility, but given our current situation, I find it difficult.

Here's a scenario for you.

Iran has signed deals with China and Russia regarding oil and natural gas. There is no way those two countries will sit back and let us secure the world's remaining oil supplies. It would destroy them.

So, let's assume the U.S. attacks Iran. What could they do? Russia couldn't do much obviously. But China could play all its cards and dumb the U.S. dollar en masse, and ease all lending to the Treasury. It now holds nearly one trillion dollars (see the Newsweek article I posted below). Sure it would put the Chinese economy into a depression, but it would outright destroy the U.S. economy -and our war machine, thus ending our control of the ME.

Thoughts? Does anyone think this is plausible or not?

As I said before, for the sake of argument even if one were to accept the premise that it is a "good" idea to seize the oil fields--on extreme nationalistic grounds (cheered on by millions of SUV drivers)--seizing the fields and holding them are vastly different things.

One variation on the dollar/debt situation is that BCR may plan to seize the fields and then renege on most foreign debt.


I have to agree.  I really don't think people think about the whole oil import issue enough.  The U.S. only produces 5.1 million barrels of oil and around 2 million in gas that is declining.  I've read agriculture itself consumes 20% of our total oil consumption of 21 million barrels.  If we no longer had access to imports we could barely feed, heat, and provide oil for military.  Not just $200 a barrel oil.  No oil.

Friendly countries are going down.  Mexico is about to implode.  North Sea and Norway are imploding.  Canada is going down even with the tar sands.  Brazil is about the only one increasing.  

Our friend in the Middle East, Saudi, is going down.  Iran is now becoming the power in the Middle East and we are the Great Satan to them.  Saudis only are staying in power because we back them to prevent another Iranian-like revolution.  Russia has no love for us--we broke them earlier.  China is rising as an economic power.  If we left the Middle East who do you think the Middle East will sell to?  The U.S. or China?  Wouldn't China just dump our treasuries, killing the dollar, allow their currency to appreciate and just buy oil from the Middle East using yuans, rubles, etc. Russia could also sell China oil and help provide food supplies.  

I think the situation is pretty desparate.  Effectively, the Middle East and Russia could simply cut off oil supplies to the U.S. as they see fit.  We would like a little more grain please U.S. we'll send you some oil, etc.  

If we withdraw militarily from the Middle East then our hugely oil-dependent economy (along with Europe) will be at the mercy of the Middle East, China, and Russia.  And to return the favor we dealt them, we might become a land of alternative energy sweatshops to ensure they have energy once the oil runs out.  Don't see us leaving the ME any time soon.      

Agriculture uses approximately 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel per year.


How's that compare to the total?  hmmm, Here's a better link:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/fuel_oil_and_kerosene_sales/current/p df/table13.pdf

I guess it depends on what you compare it to ... farm use is  10% of on-road diesel, and maybe 5% total Distillate Fuel Oil:

Renege on foreign debt? Do you think (supposed) control of oil fields would allow us to get away with that? An extreme scenario.
I don't doubt there are extreme scenarios that will be played out, and soon, this one seems unlikely
I don't think there were duped.  I think the entire military wanted to use all this metal they had sitting around to see what it looked like for real.

I must admit.  I was at home during the first night (day here) of bombing.  That was simply amazing at the capability of our military for that time.  The whole shock and awe was spectacular until you realize what it really meant.

that the Neocons' plans for the Middle East have failed.

Not to sound too conspirationist but how do you know that the REAL plan is the ADVERTISED PLAN (from PNAC)?
May be it is less of a failure than one can think.
However there are serious hints that if they have a concealed plan they are perfectly able to botch it too.

A robust plan should function without being secret.
And a true world power (not a declining one) doesn't pick on the weakest countries it can find to demonstrate it's military prowess...
I wouldn't use the word "duped". More like joyfully allowed themselves to be deceived.

The military are an odd lot, but when the job description is "blow things up and kill people" you tend to collect a certain type of person.  They tend to be very optimistic.  They know that "when the enemy is in range, so are you", yet they still run onto the battlefield with gusto, convinced of their own survival.

Then they encounter the reality of an Iraq or Vietnam.  When we first invade everyone was giving each other high fives and making fun of we pessimists. Now you can't get them to look you in the eye.

I had family in desert storm and all they bitched about was the lack of war.  Many were irritated that they were sent over for what like 48 hours or something?  Then they got to do nothing but look at all the lights at night.  Then they went back to waiting and running from jumping spiders the size of DVD's.

It's safe to say it's different this time.

Check this link. They all use NG-cars today.


Here's some interesting links:

From Newsweek -Is China Too Rich?

From tstreet: Debt Gains Attention http://www.thestreet.com/_dm/markets/economics/10305903.html

And the presentation the latter refers to: http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d061078cg.pdf

I got these from LATOC.

Chad leader wants majority stake in oil output

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad must have a 60 percent stake in its oil output after receiving only "crumbs" from a foreign consortium running the industry, President Idriss Deby said on Tuesday.
I posted a link in yesterdays drumbeat with a link to info on Chevron trying to bribe a CHAD leader so that is why they now want crazy demands to let them remain.
I enjoyed that debt story, especially the reporter's incredulous response.  "These are MEGO numbers--My Eyes Glaze Over." I guess she hadn't heard, and neither has most of the public. I like the parallel of this issue to PO, except the difference is we know exactly when this "fiscal tsunami" will hit and how bad it will be. And still we cannot bring ourselves to deal with it. If we can't, how can we deal with PO, GW, etc.
At last some African leaders are waking up to the way they are getting ripped off, and the extent of their potential leverage as the last promising oil province.
Note that the "human rights" advocates are in bed with the Western governments, trying to keep the revenue out of African hands.
From Leanan's natural gas update. The world in a nutshell.
Exxon estimates America's consumption of natural gas will rise from 65 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) currently to 85 bcfd in the next 10 years. But domestic production of natural gas will only increase from about 55 bcfd today to about 60 bcfd.

"The difference between production and consumption is increasing," said Exxon spokesman Bob Davis. "That's why you're hearing so much about LNG."

Exxon, which along with Royal Dutch Shell is one of the biggest players in the LNG business, is currently embarking on a $14 billion LNG project with Qatar Petroleum and ConocoPhillips (Charts) that will bring LNG into the Texas Gulf Coast...

They [new LNG projects] will all be fed with gas from a huge field [North Field] off the coast of Qatar, whose state oil company has a 70 percent stake in the Texas project.

Previously much of U.S. natural gas demand was met by Canada, where it was easily shipped south via pipeline. But Canada's natural gas production, like America's, is expected to be flat or slightly declining. Speculation is that Canada will export less natural gas as the country's firms use more of it to extract crude oil from its massive tar sands reserve in Alberta.

Natural gas production in North America has peaked. Even Lee Raymond acknowledged that last year. Yet here is this drivel that "domestic production of natural gas will only increase from about 55 bcfd today to about 60 bcfd." Further down, we learn "But Canada's natural gas production, like America's, is expected to be flat or slightly declining.".

The EIA expects natural gas production in North America to be down 2.6% in 2010 compared with 2003. Sometime after that, as mentioned in the quoted text, production mysteriously increases. Despite a record number of drilling rigs, production continues its decline. Nobody talking about any of this seems to get it! The declining production is irreversable. Natural gas fields decline faster than oil fields. One year they're there and Poof! the next year they're gone. ExxonMobil is betting on LNG from Qatar -- no kidding! It's an excellent investment. They know what they're doing.

These reports like Leanan's FT link are coming to you from FantasyLand.

And, FT finally acknowledges what I have reported on before -- "Speculation is that Canada will export less natural gas as the country's firms use more of it to extract crude oil from its massive tar sands reserve in Alberta." Hey, thanks! You guys are all over it. Keep up the good work.

Natural Gas? What natural gas?

Yet investors are pouring Billions into LNG. Reminds me of the story above about all the 500 or so oil refinery projects. We're going to end up dumping all our resources into an already visible dead end, aren't we? If that is projected as profitable - and it probably is - then all it is doing is transferring the last dollars out of the consumers into the pockets of the fat cats while simultaniously leaving no ability to produce anything much. Bullets are going to be too expensive to shoot the dissidents.

Good link, Past and Future Roles of Women in America. Not only women, but all of us (or none of us) are going to have any rights at all unless we have economic rights. I've made that connection before - Susan Faludi's "Backlash" and "Stiffed" - but this was much more succinct.

The people who are destroying this planet have names and addresses. That is starting to imply to me a much more combative approach to Peak Oil and the resulting mess. Our economy itself is an instrument of death - I can't eat anything in the stores - not that I'm allowed to know what is IN the food. GDP goes up when I get sick. The bright spot of the last day is the Yes! Men in New Orleans. HUD does right in New Orleans.

"Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!"

cfm in Gray, ME

Yes, PNG--a precious finite resource that is our fuel of choice for running grain ethanol plants!!
LNG and supply reliability.
They say most LNG is under long term contract. Legalities aside there are reasons it may disappoint some customers. These include national governments ordering quotas of NG be retained for domestic use and energy security. For example there is talk of a 3,000km pipeline and a GTL plant at Gorgon gas field. I suspect in the near term many trucks will convert from diesel to CNG. I've heard of an unofficial LNG spot market whereby tanker ships change course in mid ocean to help out a buyer willing to pay extra.  Then there's the terrorism and NIMBY factor of terminals close to cities. Finally there is uncertainty whether contracts can be renegotiated at favourable prices and quantities. All of this says don't depend on LNG long term.
China to Invest $5 Billion in Venezuela Oil Projects

The deal is the Asian nation's latest in Latin America to help meet its rising energy needs.

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Officials announced Monday that China had agreed to invest $5 billion in energy projects here, a deal that underscored the Asian nation's way of doing business in Latin America: Lock up significant natural resources with promises to fund huge public works projects.

China's investment will be poured into new and mature oil fields through 2012, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television. The announcement in Malaysia followed a six-day trip by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to China, his fourth since taking office.

During the trip, Chavez said he would triple sales of oil to China to 500,000 barrels a day by 2009.

China also agreed to build 13 oil drilling rigs and 18 oil tankers for Venezuela. As part of the deal, China agreed to help Venezuela build a $9-billion railroad line, as many as 20,000 housing units and a fiber-optic network.


So Venezula wants to build a $9 billion rail line ?

China has also helped Iran with the Tehran subway.

How exactly did China help? Can we get a million dollar figure? I'm just looking for guidance. You know that.
Money figure & currency I do not know.

Iran builds it's own subway cars (with sanctions they want in-country capability; kind-of like nukes) to a Chinese design.  The Chinese took some Iranians into their factory and helped in other technical ways.

Chinese civil engineers also helped in the design.  Offical word is that they only did professionsl peer review of Iranian designs (I suspect they did more than that).

If I were China, I would have given the designs, peer review and all for free to our good Muslim friends.

Strong word about  oil supplies from Senator Luger.  I guess you can't say our leaders are clueless about peak oil.  On the other hand, words are not actions.


Add Lugar as #2 on the list of politicians starting to get it?
There's also Udall (D-NM), so Lugar's #3 out of 500.
I've brought this up before, but I'll press my case again.

Just an opinion. I get on at like 11 PM EST, and the Open Thread (Drumbeat) is already tapped out at 240 posts.

This is a 24/7 website. This is a 24/7 world.

I'd like a second Open Thread after 5pm. Check out Jerome's advice for how to blog. The one(auto)Open Thread has serious disadvantages.

Look at the serious slowdown that happens between 3pm and 7pm and then again between 1 am and 9 am. This setup limits half the spectrum.

This site is all about peak. Mitigating peak! C'mon now, let's git rid of that peak around Noontime.

The ultimate beneficiaries will be the "Specific" Topic-Threads that get posted at certain times and killed as a result.

So anyway, if I bring this up again in the next two months, just tell me to shut-up.

TOD's biggest fan

I agree 100%. I would also suggest that the time is varied somewhat to enhance randomness. I get the sense people write up their little posts, then wait for 9:30am to dump it. The same few names seem to win the contest for first post.
How would you know? You are never near a computer at that time. Just stay out of this ;) Oh...yeah, and thanks for your constant 100% support. I will fail sometimes, you will only consistently get 95% out of me.

If you want some good reading. Pick up the Rolling Stone with Christina Aguilera on the cover. Or see what they got for free on the internet.

I think it was SeaDragon turned me on to that.

Matt Taibbi has a piece on Pre-Fab prisons in Texas. Excellent. Totally one-sided. That's why I love Taibbi.

And article about Torture. Hope you've read the Gulag Archipelago.

The Gitmo just needs to close. Hello?