DrumBeat: September 18, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 09/18/06 at 9:28 AM EDT]

Oil Companies Are Now Debunking 'Peak Oil' Alarmists

...The giant Gulf find serves as a harbinger of significant oil discoveries to come, and it highlights why we should all be skeptical of the peak oil theorists.

What I forgot was the peak oil pranksters view their opinions as closer to theology than theory. My Huffington article was bombarded with barbed comments and understandably self serving challenges. It was as if I had questioned received wisdom and, possibly more significantly, a key link to ever higher prices.

Pragmatists And Heretics - Peak Oil And Runaway Global Warming

There is no more wicked a heresy today than to suggest that the organic growth of our present economy should be interfered with, should be replaced by a much more planned and regulated economy. Is there a fool who would endanger millions of people's lives arguing for the impossible?

Amtrak fares up; ridership adapts

A year after Amtrak announced steep increases of up to 59 percent in monthly pass fares, scores of commuters have abandoned its Northeast Corridor trains for other means and, in some cases, new jobs or addresses.

Swedish nuclear plants still too unsafe to re-open

Reactors Prone to Long Closings, Study Finds

An analysis of nuclear reactors by a safety group has found that they are prone to costly, lengthy shutdowns for safety problems regardless of their age or the experience of their managers. The finding could have implications for companies considering building new reactors.

Who Produces the Most Oil? Not Who You Think

Petrol pump strike hits Mumbai hard

With most petrol pumps in the city running dry by early morning, the traffic might soon be forced to come to a grinding halt.

US controls price of crude oil

The Good News About Oil Prices Is the Bad News

Rumsfeld Unveils New Justification For Iraq War: High Gas Prices

OPEC casts a dark eye on the greening of energy

Shell CEO sees oil prices 'lower than today:

Russia Threatens to Cancel Shell, Mobil and Total’s Licenses

Iran, Norway sign oil exploration deal

Benjamin Fahrer Permaculture Interview

Odograph, I read this last night. All of the jobs created in the past five years have been in health care, the least productive sector of the economy.

Also, I'd highly recommend reading "Thirst for cash that threatens a crash"

The next credit crisis may have little in common with the Tequila, Asian, and Russian debacles of the 1990s. As Russia, China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Brazil, all amass a war chest of reserves to free themselves from the strictures of a mistrusted IMF, the locus of financial risk is shifting to the epicentre of the global economy.

David Bloom, global head of currency strategy at HSBC, said: "It is the US that we are worried about as the housing market turns down. The US needs nearly one trillion dollars of foreign money each year just to stand still. If people around the rest of the world start keeping their money at home for any reason, the dollar will face a serious decline and we think it will kick in later this year.

"The risk has moved from the outskirts to the heart of the system, and it's now pressing on the very aorta of capitalism."

If the world economy has a "heart attack" in the form of an major economic crisis in the US, then it is conceivable that oil could be at $40 or less a year from now.

But I don't think anybody would be cheering.

I'm on board with this.  I'm confident we're looking at the beginning of a massive financial catastrophe.  Check out this buried in a bloomberg article discussing Net Foreign Purchases of our T Bills....


Caribbean banking centers, which some analysts tie to hedge funds, raised net holdings to $68.9 billion.

I tend to believe these aren't hedge funds since no one REALLY knows who it is, but rather the FED going to "extraordinary means", which Ben Bernanke said he would do to maintain the health of the US economy.

It's probably oil exporters' central banks and investment authorities.
Oil Exporters use London banks to buy their T-Bills.  Central Banks buy direct from the Fed.
its the u s treasury buying its own debt
I think so too.
>I tend to believe these aren't hedge funds since no one REALLY knows who it is, but rather the FED going to "extraordinary means", which Ben Bernanke said he would do to maintain the health of the US economy.

These are hedge funds, tax shelter funds and investment funds of overseas buearcrats funneling money out of their countries. FWIW:$69 billion is a barely a drop in the US Treasury market, and these accounts have been around for a very long time. In 2002 there was about $60 bullion held in the Caribbean.

The Fed can directly purchase and sell treasuries and does so frequently without using offshore banking accounts.

The Fed can directly purchase and sell treasuries and does so frequently without using offshore banking accounts.

How and where would I find totals for these transactions?  I know that they do sell them, but where do these buy/sells come from in the selling arena?  An intermediary?  I realize all changes are made through the NY trading desk, but again where do these numbers show up?

Part of it is the daily Repo and Pomo markets (google) where the FED allocates temporary of permanent funds for the primary trading banks to support the stock market and/or treasury market.
Awesome information!  I've googled it and waded through some BS to be quite frank....so I got to this table...


Can you help me read this, or can anyone who knows how?

PS-Anyone know why its no auto linky?

It looks like secure sites don't work with autoformat. I suppose I've never tried to link with a secure site and autoformat before.

You can always use the html "a rel="nofollow" href=link" to do it.

The link is here.

Net foreign purhcases has fallen in the past only to rebound strongly. I am a dollar bear but believe me these asian central banks dont learn easily. They love this currency.
Hows this point though?  If the Fed meets and decides this week to lower rates like some are calling for, it's a strong signal that they see bad times ahead.  If they hold rates, they are hoping it doesn affect Net Foreign Purchases, but if they were to raise rates, they can continue selling debt, but the housing sector tanks harder.  We're screwed either way, but it's fun to watch what they value but deflation is their enemy numero uno, so I would think they will print money at some point.
I agree. But dont count the foreigners out yet.Nobody seems to want a strong currency yet. I think that will change when oil starts zooming but for now everybody loves  the greenback.
If they lower rates the dollar will free fall.

Got Gold/Silver?

This is a phenomenon known as Baumol's Disease.

From Wikipedia:
Baumol's cost disease (also known as the Baumol Effect) is a phenomonon discovered by William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen in the 1960s. The original study was conducted for the performing arts sector. Baumol and Bowen pointed out that the same number of musicians are needed to play a Beethoven string quartet today as were needed in the 1800's; that is, the productivity of Classical music performance has not increased.

In a range of businesses, such as the car manufacturing sector and the retail sector, workers are continually getting more productive due to technological innovations to their tools and equipment. In contrast, in some labor-intensive sectors that rely heavily on human interaction or activities, such as nursing, education, or the performing arts there is little or no growth in productivity over time. As with the string quartet example, it takes nurses the same amount of time to change a bandage, or college professors the same amount of time to mark an essay, in 2006 as it did in 1966.

Baumol's cost disease is often used to describe the lack of growth in productivity in public services such as public hospitals and state colleges. Since many public administration activities are heavily labor-intensive and have a limited desirable provider-customer ratio, there is little growth in productivity over time. As a result, the costs of the bureaucracy will inflate quicker than the growth in the GDP.

This is how hegemony ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Prodigal son,
you're correct about the nature of direct patient to patient care, although there have been some improvements.

The other big issue is the huge effect of diminishing returns with medical technology.  The classic example is laparoscopic surgeries.  At first doing surgery through a scope seemed like a great cure for many of medicine's woes- fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, fewer post-operative infections, lower costs, greater patient satisfaction.  But what happened was that laparoscopic surgeries are so much better that patients are more willing to receive them and surgeons are more willing to do them since the risk and recovery for the patient is less.  If you had gall bladder problems 20 years ago, the surgery required weeks off of work and months before full recovery.  You'd be left with a 4 to 8 inch scar on your abdomen. You likely would have been inclined to try losing weight, avoid high fat foods and avoid alcohol.  Today, realizing you can be in and at of the hospital in 24 hours with just 3  half inch button hole incisions, you're more likely to just say, OK take it out.  The number of gall bladder surgeries has more than grown to cancel out the cost benefits of laparoscopic techniques.  
Furthermore, the better we are at keeping people alive, the more difficult and complicated it becomes.  More and more hospitalized patients today have a laundry list of medical problems.  So treating pneumonia today is not the same as it was 40 years ago.  Today's pneumonia patient is likely also to have lived through 2 prior heart attacks, be diabetic and hypertensive, and take 12 medications on a daily basis.  We might be a little better at treating this or that, but ultimately all of us will die and for most of us it will be after prolonged (and expensive) illness.
Finally, the fear of litigation also cannot be overestimated.  Many unnecesary tests and procedures are done to "cover you ass" creating more inefficiencies in the system.  

I realize this is off topic for Peak Oil, but being a non-energy person, I rarely get to contribute on anything where I am expert and I just can't resist!

Phineas Gage, MD

Jevon's paradox applied to medicine?
You bet.
Am I correct that your examples are all related to fat people? How about we tax the fat?
Here is the bottom line: Health care is something everyone needs (at some point) but very few can pay for. Like police protection, fire houses, and delivery of electric power, a simple capitalist supply/demand mechanism is not sufficient to meet this public need - but that is thre trend that has been developing for the last 20 years. The result is HIGHER costs in the form of bureaucracy. We have many large companies comprised of workers whose only job is to document why their company should not pay out benefits, fighting the health care providers who bill them. Practicing MDs employ more people to fill out insurance forms than to assess patients. There are some family physicians out there who have dismissed ALL of their office staff, take ONLY patients with NO insurance (federal, state, or private), charge $50 for a visit and make a living. There is a message there.
Interesting, but when you look at the private sector , say , for example automotive production, it is true that less manpower is required to build a car, but the amount of energy required to build the car has increased.

Looking at it from an Energy perspective, all that has changed is energy substitution. Electricity as opposed to people.

Foreign quote of the day (from a daily bankruptcy bulletin):

"To gain protection from the coming financial storm stay clear of the US market (including housing, equities, bonds and cash) to limit one's exposure to debt and position one's portfolio defensively."  From yesterday's South China Morning Post.
Do you suppose that would apply to equities in the energy sector?
I agree that the US finances are in dire straits; but I think you have to consider how many people need the US economy to keep strong for their own economic health.  The Chinese are the biggest example with their huge trade surplus to the US.  They're certainly not going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It's true that things can't go on this way forever, but they will be propped up just as long as possible.

I'm trying to find where I stashed the numbers, but as I recall, Chinese exports to the U.S. represent a small fraction of their economy.  
"I'm trying to find where I stashed the numbers,"

  Me. too. Messes up my short term memory. I need to draw a map.

Find the numbers. I am sure you are wrong.
243.5/1850 = about 13.6%
Not a small number but not too dominant either and not likely to drop to zero overnight.
As a ratio of exports, 243.5/762 = about 32%
More interesting, the fact China exports are 41% of the economy.

GDP to exceed US$1.85 trillion in 2005
US-China Trade Statistics and China's World Trade Statistics 1995-2005

Actually you would have to count all exports. Exports to Japan, for instance, (or Saudi Arabia or Mexico..) tend to be payed for by USDollar, meaning 41% of the economy (without considering backlashes up the ladder) is indirectly dependent on a healthy US economy..
Don't delude yourself karma432. They already have the golden egg and once they realise the goose doesn't have another one to lay, they might just eat it.
Retired people, with limited income, might be.
This is why you are the #1 TOD poster!
Very much on point.
What they don't explain too well is that the health care system is being funded by the magical credit card. Where does all the cash come from to pay doctors, nurses and all other health providers their larger than average incomes? Yes, very scary.
"What they don't explain too well is that the health care system is being funded by the magical credit card. Where does all the cash come from to pay doctors, nurses and all other health providers their larger than average incomes?"

Yes, much of the funding for U.S. health care is funded through borrowing and not just consumers using credit cards. The govt contribution to health care expenditures is quite large and includes: Medicare; Medicaid (state and federal); military healthcare to include VA; prisoners; research grants; and subsidies via reduced taxes on employment-based health care.

I've read (depending on what is included in the calculations) that the govt contribution to health care expenditures is 45% to 60% of the total layout.  What happens when foreign investors stop financing our debt?

It seems that between the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) and the medical-industrial-complex the U.S. has more bubbles than the Lawrence Welk show.


Folks, tonight we have a realllly good show.  ;-)

Lawrence Welk? Are you trying to admit your age?-)
Interesting that a sector with so many not-for-profits is the leading job producer. Interesting that the Bush tax cuts for the rich have netted ZERO jobs.
"Interesting that the Bush tax cuts for the rich have netted ZERO jobs."
Of course they did. 1.7mil of them in the health care system..
Regarding What's Really Propping up the Economy:

As an american physician, I fully expect to make far less money and be in a completely different (and more frustrating for me) healthcare system before I retire, probably in the next 5 to 10 years.  The current system is clearly not sustainable in the long term (even ignoring peak oil and other resource constraints), and the number of uninsured persons in the US will continue to grow until something changes. American businesses now also see their burgeoning health care costs as a huge burden that hinders their international competiveness. Already, american employers are becoming less willing to cover the cost of healthcare.  Politicians can ignore the 45 million low and mid-to-low income uninsured, but once businesses start shouting loud enough about their costs, I think Washington will finally be motivated to do something.  We are likely to see a further shifting of the cost of healthcare from employers to employees through a tax-based national healthcare system of some kind.  This is probably inevitable.  Anyone, however, who thinks a national healthcare system in the US will be better and fairer than the current system is incredibly naive.  We'll be trading one set of problems for another.  I refer you to the Medicare part D drug benefit as illustrative of the type of "compromised" program we'll receive.  this bill protected the drug companies first, created incredibly complex rules that no one understands, and the benefit to average people is questionable.

Anyway, back to the economy, as the article says, I think we can see that healthcare is one of the few places where americans spend money in a way that keeps the money in america.  Let's say that health care spending magically went from 15% to 10% of GDP without any other changes.  Where else would Americans spend that extra money in a way that stays in America to the same degree- probably they'd just buy more cheap plastic chinese-made goods at walmart.  The only other markets that are still mostly american owned and are creating good american jobs are housing and defense.  Nearly any other field can be exported or outsourced.  This creates a powerful incentive for politicians and corporatists to continue this path even to the unsustainable degrees that we are witnessing in those three fields- healthcare, defense and housing.  

The number of uninsured is now up to 47 million, or so was the last number I saw.

What's interesting is that no one stops to think about how many people live in the U.S. and how that number compares. There are almost 300 million people here, so 47 million is just under 16%. At the rate its increasing, the number will be 20% soon.

And this is a first world country? Um, yeah, right...

As an american physician, I fully expect to make far less money and be in a completely different (and more frustrating for me) healthcare system before I retire, probably in the next 5 to 10 years

Phineas, I know you don't mean it that way, but it's quite a statement to say the changes will be bad for you. If I were you, I would reserve the no.1 spot for the people who receive no care. That's really frustrating.

You should seriously consider the option that our society is on a slow but sure slide towards a situation where people become disposable. We'll rationalize this after the fact, as we do everything. It's nothing new, millions die every day somewhere in the world who could be saved with less than a dollar.

It will take some adapting when this starts happening in your town.

The US is fast on its way to having millions of people who can neither produce (no manufacturing left) nor produce (debts). They will be economically useless, and hence disposable. They just take up space.

Don't get me wrong.  I purposely chose to practice in an underserved area.  I also came from pretty meager circumstances.  I even had several episodes of being uninsured myself before becoming a physician. I put off an elective but necessary surgery for 5 years until I had decent insurance coverage.  So I do realize how good I have it.  My family and I choose to live on less than half of what I make.  The rest goes to charity, savings and what's left of my student loans (all other debt has been retired).  Anyway, I said I expect to make a lot less, and I don't say that as a complaint, just as a matter of recognizing the inevitable.  Medicare plans a 5.1% reduction in physician payments starting in 2007, and all other insurers base their rates on Medicare.  So this decline will likely start next year.  Look for a lot of complaining from whiney doctors in the news.  We may even see mock "strikes".  Physicians cannot actually strike, but you'll probably see demonstrations at statehouses and that sort of thing. Since my family and I have chosen to live well below our current means, the adjustment should be less painful for me. I do see the uninsured as the number one problem in our system.  I just have little faith that things will be better after the government or whoever else "fixes" it.  I'll certainly like my job less, not bc/ of less money but due to more bureacracy, more paper work and less autonomy. I think it unlikely that the medical system will be better for the average patient in America 10 years from now.
Look for a lot of complaining from whiney doctors in the news.  We may even see mock "strikes".  Physicians cannot actually strike, but you'll probably see demonstrations at statehouses and that sort of thing.

If you want real change, you should target those who make a living suing doctors and hospitals. Make a database with the names of layers, their employess, spouses and children. Then every time one of them ends up in the hospital just let them lie on the floor and die.

Brutal? Maybe, but if you look to Europe you will notice that much fever people are with without insurance. It is also wastly more difficult to sue for malpractice.

So you believe that it is ok for a doctor to screw up, kill someone, and have no adverse personal consequences?  

Please identify anyone in this class of people that make a living suing doctors and hospitals.  

It is also wastly more difficult to sue for malpractice.

This does not pertains only to medical care.
The US "jackpot justice" is yet another scourge of the "non negotiable way of life".

Jackpot justice has saddled America with the most expensive tort system in the world, costing $246 billion a year — or 2.23 percent of GDP, compared to less than 1 percent in Japan, France, Canada and the United Kingdom.

I am thankful to be an European.

Different systems, different solutions.
Not one European country (especially not my Germany) has solved the problem of a population becoming older. This will overload the systems on both side of the Atlantic..
I will point out that my rail concepts would largely be recycled funding within the US and the pay scale generated is decent.  

Part of this is civil works, that, like housing, require boots on the ground.  Unlike housing, they also require skills that few Mexican et al visitors possess.

And part of it is the "Buy America" provision that goes with federal funding for steel, vehicles, etc.  Under NAFTA, that "America" includes Canada & Mexico.

Rail is heavy & bulky/hard to handle.  Two firms produce rail in the US and I am not aware of any imports of rail, but I am aware of switches & speciality work that we import.

Alan...I'm doing a short 7-10pg essay for my business writing course in college and wanted to focus on the financial aspect of light rail in urban areas.  I wanted it to be national in scope, I mean to apply to most cities, but not a paper on electrifying national freight rail.  

I want to stay focused and apply this to St. Louis mostly, but be able to fit most circumstances.  Can you help point me to some scholarly texts that I may pull info from?  Also can you send another link to your excellent outline on electrfying the rail that you've posted before?  Any help would be appreciated.

The entire www.lightrailnow.org site is full of data.  Very good place to start.

I am now reading Dr. Renne's dissertation on TOD (the other one).  256 pages may be a bit much though.  I can forward it if you like.

Best Hopes,


I think I'll stick to this sweet website.  Thanks for the treasure trove.
what's proping up the economy is the keynesian orgy of deficit spending   the deficit and i mean the physical deficit ($ 600 billion per year) not the phoney "budget" deficit  is about 5 % of gdp  well if the gdp is growing by less than 5% which it is then we are really in a recession arent we ?
oops   fiscal deficit
Al Gore will be giving a "major policy speech" at NYU this afternoon -- webcast around 12:30pm. See www.nyu.edu for details.
about global warming and climate change ... claimed with bipartisan backing.

Meanwhile, this is truly bizarre (and perhaps related?). From The Independent:
Bush prepares U-Turn on Emissions

It's not just "perhaps" related. The article specifically mentions Gore's speech today as an incentive for Bush' supposed "180".
Check out Gristmill for some thoughts about Bush's rumored announcement.
Hate to inject politics into this eden, but W is such a mind-numbingly evil little sh*t.  Is that even politics?  Maybe so these days it is; like a guard-dodger calling a purple hearted veteran a coward.  

Anyway, why couldn't we have a president who had a genuine coversion, like Nixon presumably did.  Nix "went to China" because it was the correct thing to do for the country he was leading.  The same is actually true of W's anticipated "green conversion", but b/c W doesn't care about anything but increasing power and wealth for himself and his cronies, we learn that W will go green in order to generally undercut and specifically minimize the impact of a genuinely green politician's speech.  That is just disgusting, even if it inadvertently ends up doing good.  But what will really happen?  W will say something nice, like "we will fight a war on greenhouse gas" (b/c it's always better if there's a war involved) then quietly do something evil, like open ANWR to drilling or expand clearcutting and mining in our national parks, relax mercury standards, etc.  Just like everything else he touches.
WPE: Worst President Ever.

did anyone see it? summary?
Gore called for an immediate freeze on carbon emissions. How would one do this?
Let's see - Gore owns three houses - totaling almost 10,000 sq ft. Maybe HE could start off by selling two of them?
al gore is a policy wonk
Do you mean that as a compliment or an insult?
i dont know     i heard that when al gore was running for pres and thought it was funny   but no it wasnt an insult   neither was it a complement
This one is a little different:

Technology-Driven Wealth Creation

As a young technophile I had a lot of sympathy for that idea.  The raw materials that everyone worries about peaking had been there ... it was the idea to use them, and the effective application, that created wealth.

Pour crude oil on a neolithic village, and all you get is a slippery village.

Now as I am older and try to take a more nuanced view ... I try to tease out how much of the economy is driven by information, and how far that can continue at lower energy intensities.

(BTW, in Orange County California, I think it's clear that technology workers have helped drive those housing prices.  I saw it in the Dot Com era as people immediatedly drove income into house buying.)

As a young technophile...

While you are at it why not going full-bore cornucopian?

This article started out reasonably:

Don't start thinking of Gulf oil as cheap gas

Until the end:

A few weeks ago, a Fox TV affiliate featured a story about a Clearwater inventor who had successfully used electrolysis in his garage laboratory to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water and produce HHO gas that burns at a temperature of 10,000 degrees. It can knife through steel like a chain saw's buzz in a still forest. When applied to automotive purposes, this fellow claims to have driven his car 100 miles on four teaspoons of water -- with water as the only byproduct. According to the feature, the development has been taken seriously enough to attract the attention of one carmaker and one Pentagon. Where is it now? Where is he?

Jail, would be my guess.

Can anyone honestly believe that research labs haven't accomplished the same thing decades ago?

That would be a "yes."

Are you saying they can believe it because they're stupid, or that you  also believe it. Sorry, my snarkometer isn't working so well today.

We did that experiment in high school chemistry lab, make hydrogen out of water. very easy.

10,000 degrees several times more than hot enough to melt diamond (or any material, such as the guy's car). Therefore he doesn't believe it.
Um...yeah.  Did you also drive your car 100 miles on four teaspoons of water that way?
Never tried it in a car. But I did pulverize a perfectly good one liter florence flask with it in high school. The chemistry teacher was practically rolling on the floor laughing at me after I lit it off... Zn + 2 HCl => ZnCl2 + H2
A simplier and one you can do at home.

Al + NaOH ->  H2 + NaAlO (Sodium Aluminate)  + ALOT OF HEAT(ie Extothermic).  

Lye and Aluminum Foil and some water -> Hydrogen

BTW, I have found that Lye is been missing from every store I've been to.   I Don't think they sell it anymore.

Used to do it in a quart size GLASS Bottle(setting in a pan of water as heat sink) and put a baloon on top and make H2 for the 4th of July (attaching a piece of sparkler on a string in the night sky with a big ball of yellow flame at the end)..

Sorry my teenage chemistry set memories.

The cheap dishwasher powder I buy is more or less pure NaOH, I think.
Leanan, thanks for a good laugh in the morning. Prison? Nah, no-one has anything to fear, as Carnot explained in 1824.

But better than all that: the byline states that Doll, the writer, belongs to a group named Technocracy Inc., which wants technology to save us.

Who are these geniuses?

Their website has this picture of their Board:

Again, thanks, great way to start the week.

I love all that high-tech stuff on the table.  Technology to save us all!!  Hehe.
We need a close-up of the teaspoon.
Don't laugh too hard.  One of our favored forebears, M. King Hubbert, was a founder of Technocracy, Inc.


Don't laugh too hard.  One of our favored forebears, M. King Hubbert, was a founder of Technocracy, Inc.

That's right, rototillerman, M. King Hubbert founded Tehnocracy Inc. along with the leader of the Technocracy movement, Howard Scott.

The technocratic movement was a social movement in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s that advocated a form of society where the welfare of human beings is optimized by means of scientific analysis and widespread use of technology. Although the movement is not as well-known today, it still exists as Technocracy Incorporated, the members of which partake in discussion groups and publish quarterly magazines.

Apparently they want to reorganize society and have it run by technocrats. A weird variation of the technofix, I guess.

I discovered this group when I came across one of their newsletters at my local library (they publish in the same small town where I work - Ferndale, WA). If you look at the newsletters (which mostly contain reprints of articles from other publications along with a small bit of commentary), you'll find a lot of Peak Oil coverage. In fact, the lead story from their June 2006 issue was written by TOD's Westexas (Jeffrey Brown), reprinted from the Dallas Morning News.  


Oh my gosh. He succesfully used electroloysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen? Wow. When is he being awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry?
I expect we'll get to see much more of this. The effects of peak oil will bring legions of snake oil salesmen into existence. The real problem however is poor understanding of science, in particular the first and second law of thermodynamics.

The first law states you can't make someting out of nothing. First calculate how much hydrogen you get from four teaspoons of water, then calculate the energy content of the hydrogen. Now calculate the amount of energy required to move the car 100 miles. Is the first number bigger than the second?

The second law of thermodynamics means that you'll get an energy loss every time you use energy. In the case above you get the first one turning water into hydrogen and oxygen, then you'll get a second energy loss turning the hydrogen back into electricity in a fuel cell, and finally a third one converting electricity to motion. So why use electricity to make hydrogen in the first place?

The good news is local (interview)
by Kelpie Wilson

Jason Bradford is a PhD evolutionary biologist who studied the effects of climate change on cloud forests in the Andes under the auspices of the Missouri Botanical Garden and other institutions. But in 2004 he switched his focus from study to action by initiating a remarkable community organizing effort in his new home town of Willits, California, called Willits Economic LocaLization (WELL).

What I forgot was the peak oil pranksters view their opinions as closer to theology than theory

Oh, you pranksters!   You really had me going there for a while.  

This is all part of the "daily copy" mentality, that most of us do to some extent (if just around the water cooler).  Price goes up and people write about the conspiracy or the end of oil, price goes down and people write about the looney alarmists and the miracle of the market.  Very few (present company excepted) write about the fundamental issue that is slowly unfolding.  What part of long emergency don't people get?

Reminds me of the AC/DC song "ain't no fun waitin around to be a millionaire"

If the theological end-of-world types are present, and vocal, how excacly is the outsider to distinguish between peak oil and its followers?
Not sure what you are getting at.  I can see calling abiotic oil a theory (that has I think is pretty contrary to a large amount of science) and that endtimers are a theology (based on biblical prophecy).  Peak oil is an observation, isn't it?  The outsider should be able to see the historic production figures showing province, after province peaking and also look at the current global production figures.  
Oh, I get the geology angle, but I also know that peak oil attracts people with much more general views of ... dare I say "collapse?"

I mean, I've said that maybe the oil decline will be slow, and I've been told here that doesn't matter that "everything else" is peaking too.

What would a visitor make of that?

What would a visitor make of that?

Who cares?

This reminds me of the scientists who wanted everyone to rally behind the most conservative flavor of the theory of evolution by natural selection, because they feared that if people saw scientists disagreeing on even the tiniest details, it would give credence to Creationists.

IMO, if that ever happens, the Creationists have won.

As I've said, TOD can decide if it is a peak oil site, or something more general.  A place to accumulate theorys of collapse perhaps?
I think if we strictly limited the site to peak oil only - estimates of how much is left, and not the political, economic, and social consequences - it would be

1)  The Internet equivalent of a police state, since most posts would have to be deleted, and/or most posters banned


2) Extremely boring.  Might as well turn off comments, and just let people swing by once a month to see the new estimates.

I will admit it was moderately annoying to me that when I woke up early this past weekend, the banner headline at "the oil drum" was "the end of science."

That did not grow organically out of the online community.  That was led.

That did not grow organically out of the online community.  That was led.

I disagree.  Tainter's work is prominently featured at DieOff.org, probably the oldest peak oil site.  Certainly predating this one by several years, and responsible for getting many of us here.  

Whether or not science can save us is a key part of the peak oil problem.  It did save us from Malthus' Doom.  Without the average Joe having to do a damned thing.  The question of whether it can provide a similar reprieve from peak oil is of course of great interest.

Actually millions of average Joes did all the dirty work in mines, factories, and farms to postpone Malthus' Doom. Scientists and engineers make bring us innovations but it was the hard work of millions of underpaid Joes and Jills which created the benefits.  A billion average Joes will need to learn how to implement the renewable fuels economy for all those innovations to benefit the world.
Scientists and engineers make bring us innovations but it was the hard work of millions of underpaid Joes and Jills which created the benefits.

Just wondering what the "underpaid Joes and Jill" would have done WITHOUT the scientists?
For a start they would have had EVEN HARDER work!
And not have been billions...

Society is a mixture of talents and abilities involving common laborers, entrepenuers, engineers, scientists, etc. Scientific advances only occur because common people produce more than they need allowing the few to study and experiment. I read somewhere long ago that it takes 100,000 person-hours of work to create one PhD.
Saved us so far, you mean.  And not all of us - i.e. Africa.
Yeah, Leanan is a real Mussolini. Devious.
Il Duce!
I can be friendly to everyone here, but that doesn't mean I think every faction is productive.

Why am I talking about this today?  Because we see people reacting to MSM articles painting PO types as religous extremists.  And then we have people repeating the tie between PO and Tainter and DieOff.

I guess I could be "nice" and pretend that there isn't a connection between that MSM view and what goes on here every day.  But that would just be pretending.

And then we have people repeating the tie between PO and Tainter and DieOff.

The link is literal.  Dieoff.org is on the peak oil blogroll, seen on every page of this site.  As is Kunstler, FTW, LATOC, etc.  

Odo knows that Leanan. I don't think that (s)he is so much a troll, and that doesn't lead us very far anyway.

It seems to me that we have someone here who feels (s)he has the ability to see better than the rest how the whole flux of infornation should be reviewed, a bit of a superiority thing. Me the objective one, listen to me.

And that is fine as well, though it does get a bit much when that pops up as a 20 times a day repetitive message 7 days a week, and as a more or less unrelated reaction regardless of the information that's being reacted to (everything that (s)he perceives as too negative needs to be pulled back towards the middle of the road).

There are more here hammering on that theme, but not as often.

Trying to see Peak Oil as completely disconnected from people is obviously doomed to fail. That's real doom.

I will try to take that criticism with good grace, but I don't think it is exactly right.

FWIW, you could check out someone who "hammers" a bit harder than I do:


BTW, does anyone remember the more humorous classification someone did of peak oil types?  It might explain why there will be a continued (and I still think good humored) disagreement between people who agree on the basic geology.

Did you mean Peak Oil Taxonomy: The Doombat?

The Doomatinus Howlsatmoonicus

Yes, thank you.
Fantastic link. The term "apocaphilia" sums it up nicely. The main post and comments (many by people who visit TOD) state the middle ground argument perfectly.

From the comments

There are three attitudes evident in all this. First the "apocaphilia" Jamais points out; there certainly are a lot of people saying that we're doomed, and seemingly enjoying the prospect. Second there's the "what, me worry" crowd - free markets will fix everything, or (the CERA side of things) there's still plenty of oil to be found; unfortunately they're far too dominant and either complacent or deliberately misleading.

Third are a much smaller set: those who realize there's a problem of immense magnitude, but who also realize humans are capable of meeting the challenge with concerted effort.

There can be a strange and addictive fascination with the concepts of collapse.  I call it "doomer porn."  Not that there's anything wrong with that, by the way!
Because you ARE that connection.
Overshoot and correction (of biological and other systems) are scientific topics that we learn about and model in systems engineering curicula.  The idea that the discovery and exploitation of petroleum was a catalyst for overshooting the sustainable ecological bounds of the earth (vis-a-vis us humans) seems to me to be a reasonable theory.  

If you don't think it is, I would be curious as to why.  Although if you just are remarking that the MSM will not treat these type of topics very adroitly, then I would have to agree.  

Sure, many populations (human and non) have demonstrated overshoot and population crash.

I'm only uncomfortable with confabulation of problems.  If peak oil can hurt us, let's look at how.  If that isn't enough, if we have to stack more, less concrete concerns upon it to make it a real problem ... then I'm less interested.

I mean, can Peak Oil stand alone?  Or does it need help?

I'm only uncomfortable with confabulation of problems.

Except when it fits YOUR agenda.

I mean, can Peak Oil stand alone? Or does it need help?

Peak Oil does not need ANY HELP just veracity instead of mendacity.
Peak Oil does stand alone as a case of FINITE RESSOURCE EXHAUSTION in spite of all your hocus-pocus intended to dismiss the issue.

We think peak oil is easier to predict than oil resource exhaustion, don't we?

Or do you have a scientific projection on the latter?  When will we be "without fossil fuels?"

As long as we here (the PO crowd) keep our heretical view that The Market by itself will not provide, then we'll be labeled a doomsday cult by the ree Marketeers whose religion we are crossing.  So we are free to maintain our internal diversity of views.  Keep us sharp, Odo!
The Three Marketeers of the Iron Triangle. "One for all and all for profit!" :)
Why am I talking about this today?  Because we see people reacting to MSM articles painting PO types as religous extremists.  And then we have people repeating the tie between PO and Tainter and DieOff.

I guess I could be "nice" and pretend that there isn't a connection between that MSM view and what goes on here every day.  But that would just be pretending.

Good job, Odogragh. I don't have the time or the patience for this today, but it is clear to me that one of the main barriers to spreading the peak oil message is that the message moves further and further from believability as people get more and more willing to accept it.

It seems like the overwhelming need of the doomer / paranoid faction is for people not to believe them. This way they can have an enemy to rally against be it the MSM, corporations, capitalism, the government, sheeple, etc.

The more willing people become to accept peak oil, the more the crowd hollers that is not enough. They must also believe that the world is coming to an end from their doing and they deserve it.

I have no doubt that peak oil is a real phenomenon, but I also have no doubt that there is a cataclysmic doom cult at the heart of the peak oil movement. Every day, I see that the fundamentalists on both extremes are separated only by a dress code and a few buzz word. The gap between "die off" and "left behind" is very thin.

Keep up the good work of forcing the discussion into logic and analysis rather than the ideology of the doom cultists.

I think an effective way of thinking about the whole deal is as risk mitigation.  There is the probablility of the risk occuring and over what timeframe, and then there is the consequence severity.  As far as I am concerned I think the probablity of oil peaking is 0.9997, the question is timeframe.  The severity has to be reevaluated depending on what actions or new information has happened in the interim.  The consequences are also probably valued differently by different individuals.  As a country, we are so very far from looking at problems like this in this way, but I think its good that sites like this can consider and discuss the components of risk mitigation.
I agree.  But if you really want to know why peak oil is perceived the way it is, I think you have to look at the other.

It really was an education for me when I discovered that what we call peak oil "doomers" don't really derive their outlook from the geology.  It is, as I said way back then, "peak oil plus."  At a minimum that is peak oil plus a particular view of human nature, but it also may include alternate belief systems.

Not to let the cornucopians off the hook .. their optimism works the same way.  The fact that this is about oil is just a detail to them as well ... technology marches on, and problems are solved.

I know that some may accuse me of to often repeating this. perhaps it is my mantra, but

Peak Oil is not a technical problem.

I don't suppose you are heading toward it being an "opportunity" ;-)

I guess PO just means a production shortfall, which might be addressed with a vast range of social and technological means.

What are people reacting to in the 'prankster' articles though, the idea of a peak, or the idea of an outcome tied to the peak?

Opportunity? nah, especially for the billions who are likely to have shortened lifespans because of it.

What I believe we are witnessing is the collapse of western civilization, peak oil being the presenting cause. What is really to blame is our inability to imagine a life, a self, a society other than our all out search for "economic growth." In the process we have become so spirtually impoverished that we now think commercials are a legitimate art form and "evangelical" churches are seen as legitimate expressions of our religious life.

(I've often wondered if the owners of those "Know Jesus, Know Peace, No Jesus, No Peace" bumper stickers  understand the double reading.)

That aside, it will be our insistence that "technology" will solve our problems with regard to peak oil that will ultimately be the cause of our worst problems.

It may be the collapse of western civilization, but I think it may also be a 30's style reinvention of American politics.  Not to a repeat of the 30's mind you, but to something that works for the times.  Or something else.

It worries me that pessimists know how that will play out.

I am a Peak Oil doomer.  I am an atheist.  I try not to believe in anything.  Period.  Peak Oil is a matter of geology.  My "doomerism" is based solely on observation.  It's science, not belief.
Ah, science, if I recall correctly, is careful to distinguish between observation and extrapolation (using a particular model).  Upon which do you actually rely?

What is your assigned confidence to your model, and was it determined mathematically?

I'm 85.27% confident in my model.

(Oh, I'm not a Scientist!  But I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night!)

What is your assigned confidence to your model, and was it determined mathematically?

What is YOUR "assigned confidence" that Peak Oil doom can be averted, and "was it determined mathematically"?

It is only a belief of yours in technology and the market!
The belief that YET TO BE MADE innovations will show up whenever wished for.

P.S. So you are asking again for "good models" and "brass tacks", you know what that means, DEBUNKING...

Ah, I just found a pretty good quote:

When we run our computer and we see the first curve peak over and go down, we just quit paying attention, because we know that when that happens its going to bring so many changes into the system that our ability now to know what's going to happen is zero, so we just don't pay attention to it. That's my attitude. I think climate change, and the oil peak, either of them and certainly together, are going to introduce so many changes, that I don't know what it's going to be like.

"I don't know what it's going to be like."

Who wrote that?

Dennis Meadows - co-author of `Limits to Growth'

He does go on to say:

In my speeches sometimes, I say that if you think about the degree of change you saw in the last 100 years, social, technical, cultural, political, environmental, all those changes, its less that what you'll see in the next 20 years. What will they be? I would venture the opinion that there's be a lot less people 20 years from now, or 40 years, it's hard to tell how that'll be, I have some anecdotal thoughts but no coherent utopian vision.

That's worrying, but also a model for what we should be doing ... trading fuzzy ideas of the future, and not arguing unsupportable convictions.

Who wrote that? Dennis Meadows -

Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason, this isn't Focks News here, this is TOD.

That's worrying, but also a model for what we should be doing ... trading fuzzy ideas of the future,

You have to make up your mind once and for all and not asking for "math" from others where YOU deal in "fuzzy ideas".

I said it before "My logic is just as meaningful as it is unassailable while YOUR logic keeps messing around clear facts in order to deny some evidences".

And it IS logic not just mumbo-jumbo like your optimistic lunacies.

I sometimes wonder why you cannot see the obvious.  People who present concrete predictions can be asked for their underlying logic.  People with fuzzy concerns ... what can I ask them?

I might ask Mr. Meadows where he sees those short-term population reductions coming from ... but if he isn't definite why should he have definite proof?

It's like you are saying "i think X will happen tomorrow, to refute me calculate the precise odds."  Ah no, if you have a precise prediction, that's your job.

And don't build assumption upon assumption, like "if" aluminum doubled or trippled, "then" the enire "manufacturing industry" (as if there is such a unified thing) will "suffer" (in moving goalposts from the original "collapse").

It's like you are saying "i think X will happen tomorrow, to refute me calculate the precise odds." Ah no, if you have a precise prediction, that's your job.

Nah! Oh stubborn one!
I am just saying :


I do not have to "calculate the precise odds" save that the "odds" are likely pretty soon from what we know about about oil consumption and probable USABLE reserves (known as URR).

The whole TOD forum is mainly about this, didn't you notice?

Your arguments amounts to "may be not, we will switch to fairy dust or whatever".

Then YOU have to provide the "math" about fairy dust or whatever.

If you only were presenting the absract math that when you keep subtracting from a finite quantity it ends up at zero, that wouldn't be a big deal would it?

Why would anyone worry about that.

Now, I think what you are trying to slide along with that is an associated societal impact, no?

Aetheism is a belief.  

I assume in your doomerism, based on observation -you are talking about observation of human nature and behavior ?  There are certainly many many examples of people behaving poorly, selfishly, agressivly etc. in response to crisis, so I too am aprehensive.  But, also I have witnesse people acting cooperatively and selflessly in a crisis.  So, my prediction is that the consequences brought about by peak oil will be far from uniform and that those that have mitgated some of the risks structurally and by being cohesive as a community, and cooperative with other individuals and communities.  

Atheism IS NOT belief.  It is a lack of belief.
If you say so, I am no expert.  I thought an atheist was one who asserted that there was no god(s).  


Atheism in its broadest sense is simply the absence (a-) of a belief in a deity (theism).  It has been further refined into what are known as implicit and explicit atheism.  Implicit atheism is characterized by the phrase, "I do not believe in gods", while explicit atheism is best defined by the phrase, "I believe there are no gods".  It's a subtle but important distinction (to atheists, anyway...)  It's that latter position that is attached most firmly to the word "atheist" in the public mind, even though it is a belief-based extension to the basic concept.  The reason for that seems to be that it makes it easier for theists who maintain that man cannot exist without a belief in a deity to understand the position as one of mere rebellion rather than reason and epistomology.

Thuis endeth the sermon for today.

Right, no god.  Sorry for the caps, but it is an important point.
But, as a scientist (a person with a scientific outlook), I have to admit that there could be a god, or gods.  There is currently no way to know, until I die, I guess.  Either there is a god or there isn't.  Whether I, or anyone else, "believes" in god is irrelevant.
The same principal applies to doomerism, collapse, whatever.  I don't know what will happen in the future.  But I don't like the looks of it.  One could say that I "believe" in collapse, but my point would be that I see a high probability of that happening, and I don't see any practical solutions that will avoid it.
As for my view of "human nature":  There are maybe 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world.  A few people push a few buttons and we all die.  If those buttons are pushed right now, in under an hour most of the humans on this planet will be dead.  We are just dumb fuckin' monkeys!  Really dumb!!
Sunspot, you are an agnostic - one who believes that it is not possible to know whether there is a god or gods or not. Atheism is the belief that there is no god or gods.
I think you got it wrong on that.  Sunspot is just following the scientific idea that nothing can be proven, only disproven.  I'm an atheist myself; when new information comes in I'll change my position, until then all signs point to 'God is a myth, created by man' in my eyes.

Some humour for you:  Is bald a hair colour?  Is 'not collecting stamps' a hobby?

I thought an atheist was one who asserted that there was no god(s).

NO, I will have to repeat:

An atheist doesn't have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can't be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question.

From John McCarthy

P.S. May be not an entirely satisfactory definition because some Christians seem to believe in the evidence on werewolves and Harry Potter "evil witchcraft"...

Odograph wrote:

It really was an education for me when I discovered that what we call peak oil "doomers" don't really derive their outlook from the geology.

You are only half correct. If you has said "peak oil doomers don't derive their outlook only from geology you would have been correct. Our outlook is derived from both geology and biology.

At a minimum that is peak oil plus a particular view of human nature, but it also may include alternate belief systems.

A particular view of human nature? I don't know exactly what you mean by that, but of course biology does include human nature. But as far as it being an alternate belief system, that is a load of donkey doo. The facts of geology and biology have nothing to do with belief systems, unless you are a creationist and don't believe any of the established facts about geology and biology.

Overshoot cannot possibly be solved by technology. That is the one thing you cornucopians cannot get through your head. And you are a cornucopian because no one but a cornucopian could believe that technology will solve the overshoot and peak oil problems.

Ron Patterson

Gotta rush off ... but did if you read The Blank Slate I think there was a running theme there, that theorys of the mind have always been tied to views of human nature and then to view of politics.

I don't believe, having read that, and Descarte's Error, and The Red Queen, and Cheating Monkeys Citizen Bees, ... that there is a single biological view of human nature at this point.

(I believe new work in experimental economics is enlightening a lot of these PO related issues as we speak.  Add The Winner's Curse to that reading list.)

"I don't believe, ... that there is a single biological view of human nature at this point."

I think you are spot on. And I think we must resist the notion that biology determines human "nature" at all. Down that path lies a determinism that would end all reason for discussion. Part of the problem is the metaphor itself - human "nature" - what if we were to think about it as human "character"? Replace the biological metaphor with a literary one and what does that do to how we think about it.

Now - can we say that there is a single human character that will require us to act in a certain way?

Davidsmi wrote:

And I think we must resist the notion that biology determines human "nature" at all. Down that path lies a determinism that would end all reason for discussion. Part of the problem is the metaphor itself - human "nature" - what if we were to think about it as human "character"? Replace the biological metaphor with a literary one and what does that do to how we think about it.

Obviously you have not read "The Blank Slate" David.  If had, or if you had read Dawkins, or Wilson, or any other Sociobiologist, you would know there is no one believes that biology determines everything. It is nature and nurture that determines everything. It is our genes and our environment.

And why is everyone so dammed upset about any biological (genetic)  input into behavior. Genes give us the tendency to behave in a certain manner (along with one's environment of course). But one's environment will determine whether or not one acts upon genetic tendencies or not.

Davidsmi wrote:

Now - can we say that there is a single human character that will require us to act in a certain way?

And no one in his right mind would say that there is any such thing as a required genetic behavior. It is genes and environment David. Genes and environment, genes and environment, nature and nurture. Repeat that about one hundred times and perhaps you will not make such a mistake again.

Ron Patterson

You're right, I haven't read "The Blank Slate," but I have, unfortunately read more Dawkins, Wilson and their ilk than was good for me ;-).

Darwinian writes:
"no one believes that biology determines everything."  

If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

and then Darwinian writes:
"And no one in his right mind would say that there is any such thing as a required genetic behavior."

Maybe I should double the price of that bridge.

I find the nature and nurture counter point (usually resorted to after someone questions the primacy of genetic determinism) just so much non-explanation. Unless you are at the point where you going to explain the mechanism whereby nature and nurture result in particular behavior, than you haven't added anything to the discussion. So, you'll say that some people are predisposed to be (e.g.) fat. So what? What have you provided other than an excuse for the person who is fat and doesn't want to do anything about it.

Let me throw a little thought experiment at you. I'm sure your aware that in modern physics that the direction of causality is not limited by time. So, lets suppose that perhaps nurture or the environment, actually acts upon the genes. So, I could say, perhaps, that being fat predisposes that person to having the genetic markers for being fat. So, where do we go from here?

Cut and pasted from Davidsmi's post:

You're right, I haven't read "The Blank Slate," but I have, unfortunately read more Dawkins, Wilson and their ilk than was good for me ;-).

Darwinian writes:
"no one believes that biology determines everything."

If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

and then Darwinian writes:
"And no one in his right mind would say that there is any such thing as a required genetic behavior."

Maybe I should double the price of that bridge.

David, I don't believe for one minute that you have read either Dawkins or Wilson. If you had you would not write such shit as this. Dawkins and Wilson both stress, again and again that both genes and environment control our behavior.

Dawkins states:

The belief that genes are somehow super-deterministic, in comparison with environmental causes, is a myth of extraordinary tenacity, and it can give rise to real emotional distress." The Extended Phenotype, Page 11.

And Matt Ridley puts it even more bluntly:

For more than 50 years sane voices have called for an end to the debate. Nature versus nurture has been declared everything from dead and finished to futile and wrong--a false dichotomy. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that human beings are a product of a transaction between the two.
Nature via Nurture, page 3.

Wilson, Dawkins and anyone else with an ounce of common sense will agree with Matt Ridley, human beings are a product of a transaction between the two.

But if you have evidence to the contrary David, put up or shut up! Post chapter and verse, like I did, or quit spewing shit about a subject you quite obviously know nothing about.

I must post one more thing from Dawkins' "The Extended Phenotype", from chapter 2, page 13, in which he exposes the very stupid myth bantered about by some people who claim that some Evolutionary Psychologists believe that genes alone control human behavior. (Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that is a myth.)

What did genes do to deserve their sinister, juggernaut-like reputation? Why do we not make a similar bogey out of, say, nursery education or confirmation classes? Why are genes thought to be so much more fixed and inescapable in their effects than television, nuns, or books? Don't blame your mates for sleeping around, ladies, it's not their fault they have been inflamed by pornographic literature! The alleged Jesuit boast, "Give me the child for his first seven years and I will give you the man", may have some truth in it. Educational, or other cultural influences may, in some circumstances, be just as unmodifiable and irreversible as genes and "stars" are popularly thought to be.
Ron, you seem to be missing the point. You said, and I quote, "no one" believes that genes control behavior.

Now, if you want to argues that Wilson, Dawkins and Ridley comprise everyone. We can go from there.

And if you want to talk about the specifics of one of these authors, fine.

But, please, don't go off half cocked with your grand generalizations and attempt to defend them with specific instances.

Experimental Economics. Jeezz.. That puts mental where it belongs.
Also called Behavioral Economics.  Some very intestesting stuff has come out of it.  It's one of those recent Nobel Prizes that I think was worth something:


Alfred Nobel meant to award prizes for science.
Economics is not a science.
You might be surprised.  If proto-economics is found by biologists studying monkeys, are they still scientists? ;-)

Cheating Monkeys And Citizen Bees

I think there might have been some proto-economics here as well:


I'll be surprised to find that the earth is flat, and 6000 years old.
Same differenece.
And Alfred Nobel did not instate the prize. The proper title for the "nobel prize" in economics is something like "The Bank of Sweden's prize in memory of Alfred Nobel".

So there's no such thing as a nobel prize in economics. It's a  scam. How appropriate :-)

Odograph wrote:

I don't believe, having read that, (the Blank Slate) and Descarte's Error, and The Red Queen, and Cheating Monkeys Citizen Bees, ... that there is a single biological view of human nature at this point.

That is like saying there is no single view of geology, or astronomy, or psychology. Of course there are different views of human nature, but there is far more agreement, among those who believe it really exist, than there is disagreement.

And you seemed to miss the point of all those great books. Well, actually of the four I have only read "The Blank Slate and The Red Queen". But make no mistake Pinker and Ridley agrees on far more things than they disagree on.

Gotta rush off ... but did if you read The Blank Slate I think there was a running theme there, that theorys of the mind have always been tied to views of human nature and then to view of politics.

Funny, after having read and re-read "The Blank Slate" I did not see that theme anywhere in the book. Perhaps you have a page number that you can quote, so I can look it up in my copy. The theme of "The Blank Slate" was that the mind is not a blank slate. That is we are born with certain instincts that are largely non-malleable. The theme of the book was to refute "The Modern Denial of Human Nature."

Neither Pinker nor Ridley posits "different views of human nature". In fact in the hundreds of books I have read on biology I have never heard that theme discussed. Of course biologists will disagree on this or that heritable behavioral characteristic. But no one, to my knowledge, that does not deny human nature altogether, posits totally different views of what human nature is. They all agree that human nature is simply heritable behavioral characteristics.

The only different views overall are between those who totally deny the existence of human nature, known in the discipline as "Radical Environmentalists" and those known as "Sociobiologist" or "Environmental Psychologists." Radical environmentalists believe the mind is totally malleable. They believe in the myth of the noble savage. Sociobiologists believe that human behavior is controlled by both your genes and your environment, your nature and your nurture.

Ron Patterson

I think it is pretty hard to miss the arrow of logic from neurobiology, through nature, to politics.

Thats after all, where the title of the book came from.  The Blank Slate was a view of man, and his nature, that resonated with certain political doctrines.  Reshape man, make him better ...

Pinker repeatedly blasts that Blank Slate strawman (I think justifiably), and using that lever, he indicts the politics which depend on it.

If you missed that, you missed an amusing subtext to whole book.

Naw...You are the one that missed the subject of the entire book Odograph. The book had one chapter, 16, on politics. The book had nothing to do with refuting any political theory or political doctrine, with the possible of Bakunin's anarchism.

It was entirely bad academic theories that concerned Pinker. The modern denial of human nature by many academics was his target. Pinker made mush out of the theory of the noble savage.

Now if you consider the theory of the noble savage a political doctrine, then you might be correct. But the noble savage has nothing to do with any modern day political doctrine.

At any rate it exposed the hypocrisy of academics who deny the existance of intelligence as a heritable characteristic. Here are two of my favorite passages from the book. The first deals with Intelligence, the second with known, or recent past hunter-gatherer societies and their violent nature. I have a third deals with what happens when law and order disappears, but I have posted that one before to The Oil Drum, so I will omit it here.


Ron Patterson

I find it truly surreal to read academics denying the existence of intelligence. Academics are OBSESSED with intelligence. They discuss it endlessly in considering student admissions, in hiring faculty and staff, and especially in their gossip about one another. Nor can citizens or policymakers ignore the concept, regardless of their politics. People who say that IQ is meaningless will quickly invoke it when the discussing turns executing a murderer with an IQ of 64, removing lead paint that lowers a child's IQ by five points, or the presidential qualifications of George W. Bush. In any case, there is now ample evidence that intelligence is a stable property of an individual, that it can be linked to features of the brain (including overall size, amount of gray matter in the frontal lobes, speed of neural conduction, and metabolism of cerebral glucose), that it is partly heritable among individuals, and that it predicts some of the variation in life outcomes such as income and social status.
     Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate" pages 149-150

Counting societies instead of bodies leads to equally grim figures. In 1978 the anthropologist Carol Ember calculated that 90 percent of hunter-gatherer societies are known to engage in warfare, and 64 percent wage war at least once every two years. Even the 90 percent may be an underestimate, because anthropologists often cannot study a tribe long enough to measure outbreaks that occur every decade or so (imagine an anthropologist studying the peaceful Europeans between 1918 and 1938). In 1972 another anthropologist, W.T. Dival, investigated 99 groups of hunter-gatherers from 37 cultures, and found that 68 were at war at the time, 20 had been at war five to twenty-five years before, and all the others reported warfare in the more distant past. Based on these and other ethnographic surveys, Donald Brown includes that conflict, rape, revenge, jealously, dominance, and male coalitional violence as human universals.
   Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, Page 57.

I think the book reads on several levels.  Note that I did not say you "missed the subject of the book" just "an amusing subtext to whole book."

It is a pretty rich read.

As to your idea that it had "nothing" to do with refuting any political theory ... how's this for a snippet demonstrating that arc, from neuroscience, through numan nature, and to poltics:

Reason: You say in The Blank Slate that Hobbes was right and Rousseau was wrong. Is civilization basically the development of institutions designed to rein in male violence?

Pinker: I think that's got a lot of truth to it, absolutely. That's what the rule of law is, and that's what a democracy is for. I don't think it's wiped out these impulses, and our fantasy lives may not be that different from those of the Yanomamo warrior. But we don't actually act on them. We can have lust and mayhem in our hearts, but not necessarily in our actions.

Shit howdy.


BTW, I am very close to Pinker's worldview.  I just also recognize that when you do that arc, you've got to ready to readdress it as the neuroscience changese.

After all, the old blank slaters weren't wrong to come up with a theory, just to hold too tight to it in face of newer science.

Surely, if we did solve overshoot by technology, it would prove that it was not overshoot.
I think there are three factors involved in any response to this subject.

The first is whether you understand/accept the basic premises - that oil is intrinsic to industrial civilization in its current form, it is non renewable, and production will start to decline as we exhaust the big fields.  There's nothing terribly controversial in there, and the objective case for this is pretty much watertight.  Though the cornucopians argue with the third premise, the evidence is there for any who care too look at it.

Then you head off into prediction and speculation.  When might the peak occur? How sharp might it be? How steep might the following decline curve be?  This is where all the technical analysis is focussed, and it becomes pretty obvious that the broad range of possible answers for all three questions results directly from the lack of global data transparency.  So in the absence of hard data, we are forced to either live with the uncertainty and wait until the situation clarifies, or decide for ourselves what assumptions and analyses seem most credible and what outcome seems most probable.  Here psychology starts to overtake the science.  You can choose any combination of outcomes that appeals to you, because there are similar levels of analysis to support each.  Is the peak now, in 2010, 2020 or 2030? Sharp peak, short bumpy plateau or long squeeze?  1%, 2%, 5%, 8% or more?  I maintain that a rational, objective person could legitimately pick any combination of those, but their personal psychology may predispose them to certain choices.

Once you've made up your mind what position you will take (detached observer, cheerful optimist, worried optimist, hopeful pessimist, gloomy pessimist, etc.) you might construct post-peak scenarios that flow from that position and, not incidentally, support it.

The point is, all the scenarios that flow from the observed facts have, as far as I can tell, approximately equal probabilities of occurrence.  The problem as far as public perception is concerned seems to be that there is not a single outcome scenario that is truly positive as far as "normal people" are concerned.  If I choose to adopt the belief that a fast-crash scenario will be a good thing in that it will get some number of us back to pastoral equilibrioum with a minimum of damage to the rest of the world, this isn't really much worse from the point of view of Joe Sixpack than the scenario of having to give up his dreams of 4,000 air conditioned square feet on an estate lot, and having to take public transit for the rest of his life.

I have presented both moderate and a severe decline scenarios to a room full of 40 strangers.  The speculations were preceded by a basic outline of the facts of the situation as known.  Interestingly, not one member of the audience felt that the severe scenario was implausible.  Their reaction might have been different had I not prefaced the doom and gloom with factual information, so this tells me that as long as we keep presenting the objective evidence along with the attitude-driven speculation, people who are inclined to notice the topic will eventially take the field seriously. There's no need to soft-peddle the range of potential outcomes.


Well said. Each person will take information and recast it in terms of their world view model anyway.

Too many criminal enterprises massage the public's world view. If an individual is ready to "wake up", the anti-doomsters spin won't work anymore. The teachers are here, ready and waiting for the pupils.

Frequently on TOD there is puzzlement expressed at the fact that someone could possibly be a 'Peak Oil Denialist'. After all, at some point production of crude will fall, right? Scientific fact, right???
The real denialist position IMO does not necessarily deny that a peak of production will happen, the real denialist simply finds this to be completely irrelevant. After all, market forces are already 'kicking in' to find energy from other sources. The most optimistic denialist would probably not see a peak happening simply because the segue away from fossil fuels will happen before any peaks and lots of the stuff will get left in the ground. This is truly the 'alternative' to Peak Oil. The slightly less than panglossian denialist might see a peak but only in the process of tweaking the market to make this segue away from fossil fuels. In either case, Peak Oil becomes irrelevant and since 'the stone age didn't end .....' blah, blah.
In any case, there is an alternative 'theory' on pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum as Duncan's Olduvai theory.
That's a very good comment, and the kind of writing that I wish I could do.

(I prefer peak now, 2%, ... but I am self-aware that this is a preference.  I think I've got pretty good support with the Hirsch Report, etc. ... but I WOULD have to junk that idea if 10% decline stared me in the face.)

Very nicely said, GG.

The one component that is missing is this:

You look around, and nothing is being done.

Regardless of when peak occurs, how sharp is it, how steep the decline afterward, one must still prepare.

There is no preparation going on. Not in my neck of the woods, anyway.

This is what is frightening. Not the peak. The current momentum of B. A. U.

I was part of a discussion group last night that touched on this.  The moderator made the comment that humans are much more motivated to seek personal advantage than truth.  Unless and until those two goals are seen by policy makers as being congruent, nothing will happen.  At this time no politician will willingly encourage their constituents to become voluntarily poorer, which is one change that would be necessary to mitigate general post-peak social decline.

The general discussion was about the insights to be gained from the Prisoner's Dilemma when considering human behaviour in a resource-constrained world.  The main conclusion was that as long as it was in someone's rational self-interest to keep consuming (i.e. defect) rather than limit consumption (cooperate) there is no hope of a cooperative resolution.  Even worse, it will always be in someone's rational self-interest to defect, and if everyone else knows that, there is little incentive for any cooperation.  The only way we could see out of that box was for policy makers to recognize the absolute necessity of cooperation as a survival strategy, and to enforce it through a combination of persuasion and coercion.  The underlying goal is to convince everyone that no one else will defect, and thus make it "safe" for everyone to cooperate.

The ancillary conclusion we came to was, "That just ain't gonna happen."  It was in intellectually stimulating but ultimately depressing evening.

The main conclusion was that as long as it was in someone's rational self-interest to keep consuming (i.e. defect) rather than limit consumption (cooperate) there is no hope of a cooperative resolution.

Of course, but there are solutions to this in the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, alas this is pretty technical and not within reach of the average elected representative, not to speak of Joe Sixpack!

I'm sure there were "defectors" in the WWII conservation measures, rationing, scrap metal drives, etc.  My impression though is that various forms of official and unofficial societal feedback and enforcement kept that in check.  No?
Yes, and this is exactly the structure we concluded would be needed in this case.  the thing is, you can only get buy-in once the the problem is evident.  A declaration of war has a clarity that is lacking in the Peak Oil debate.  In addition, it was easier to get compliance during the war because of the limited timeframe for the conservation ("Until we bury Adolph").  "Consume less forever" doesn't have quite the same rousing patriotic appeal.
"Consume less forever" doesn't have quite the same rousing patriotic appeal.

If there were an award for Understatement of the Year....

I wish I could converse with my college freshman at the same level as you do in your talk mentioned above. Plus, I'm continually dogged by matronly feelings for my students, so I "soft-pedal" the scenarios, as you mention. I'm afraid of making them afraid--and also of sounding like a kook. Flawed?

Also--listening to you folks on this site--so much more educated, specialized, and intelligent than I--disagreeing so profoundly and heatedly on this site just makes me break out in a cold sweat.

I'm glad I "dropped out" long ago and became semi-self-sufficient.

But then I think, "No one else is doing it, and if I prepare but no one else around me does, what good does that do?"

Now where did I put that Celexa....

Of course, people are really, really bad at predicting the future.  

This book is about why we're so unhappy when we spend so much time and effort trying to be happy.  (It is not a self-help book; it's a scientific explanation of why we're usually so wrong about what will make us happy.)  

There's an excerpt here.

Gilbert argues that our imaginations are extremely limited, and even personal experience doesn't correct for this.  There's a natural human tendency to overestimate how much control we have over our situations.  (People who do not do this are the clinically depressed.)  

He suggests that the best way to deal with this to look to the experiences of others, rather than relying on cultural wisdom or our own imaginations.

Unfortunately, no one's dealt with peak oil before.

There have been societies which have faced resource depletion with England's wood shortage being the one most cited. Wood for fuel and wood for the Navy were depleting the forest and something had to give and it wasn't His Majesty's Navy. Conquering foreigners (Native Americans) for their resources was their strategy. Sound familiar?
Don't forget, Easter Island.
Don't forget, Easter Island....

...is not the story of a self-destructive society that most people think it is.  Check out this post on that topic, or this article on the subject in American Scientist, or simply go read the paper in Science (Hunt, T. L., and C. P. Lipo. 2006. Late colonization of Easter Island. Science  311:1603-1606).

There are certain terms tossed around as short-hand warnings of doom.  Not all of them mean what they're commonly thought to mean.  Easter Island is one of them.

I've read 'em.  I don't really see what difference it makes, even if these theories are accepted (and they are still controversial).
As they often do with a variety of topics, The Onion has a useful perspective on doom theology.
Oh, I get the geology angle, but I also know that peak oil attracts people with much more general views of ... dare I say "collapse?"

I mean, I've said that maybe the oil decline will be slow, and I've been told here that doesn't matter that "everything else" is peaking too.

What would a visitor make of that?

They'd give up on TOD as being full of self-deluded apocalypse-seekers and quite possibly write off the whole notion of Peak Oil as being nothing but the latest wank-fest for the ever-present core of doom-and-gloom nutjobs who always have some reason that "the sky is falling...for real this time!!"

I say this, of course, as a recent visitor who's still making up his mind.

Frankly, so many people associated with Peak Oil are such narrow-minded zealots, unshakably convinced that We're All Doomed and ready - nay, eager - to blatantly ignore any evidence to the contrary while frothingly trumpetting any flimsy shred of support to their view as gospel truth that it's hardly surprising the notion of peak oil is having trouble shaking off its "whackjob cult" stigma.  These kinds of fanatics are one of the worst obstacles standing in the way of wider knowledge of the problems associated with resource depletion; their lack of rational objectivity makes the whole idea look insane.

So that, if you were truly curious, is what a visitor would make of that.  He'd make of it that you're shooting yourselves in the foot.

"Frankly, so many people associated with Peak Oil are such narrow-minded zealots..."

Over time we become like our opponents?

It didn't take that long. Zealots versus zealots.

That's why there is an obsession with Cornucopeans, CERA, etc. There has be to an enemy. I jus hope the two extremes are grateful to each other for being useful foils.

These kinds of fanatics are one of the worst obstacles standing in the way of wider knowledge of the problems associated with resource depletion; their lack of rational objectivity makes the whole idea look insane.

Does the "whole idea" look insane to YOU?
What are you gonna do?
Leave or join the fray of the "moderates"?

how excacly is the outsider to distinguish between peak oil and its followers?

By debunking vocal idiotic growth theologians with accurate math!

LOL, I walked away from that thinking the accurate math just reinforced my point:

"That makes for 67114 cans per tonne at an "aluminium cost" of $2,417.50 / 67114 = $.036 per can. 3.6 CENTS, versus the total cost of any soda can.  3.6 CENTS, versus the total cost of any soda can.
Pepsi & als can bear doubling or tripling the cost because it will still be much less than alternate solutions."

We're all gonna die, because a can of soda needs 3.6 cents worth of aluminum!!!

(Your closing suggestion that "The mechanical manufacturing industry CANNOT bear such increase without compromising their own economic outlook or the economic outlook of their customers." is typical of a bland doomer generalization.  No math there, just faith.)

We're all gonna die, because a can of soda needs 3.6 cents worth of aluminum!!!

Still your mendacity, Eh?

I said the OPPOSITE, that it does not matter that a soda can needs 3.6, 7.2 or 10.8 cents of aluminum as a retort to you saying that "I'll believe it's a shortage [of aluminium] when it doesn't come free with every can of soda." pretending that to be the litmus test for NO aluminium shortage.
Don't reply that I have to prove there IS an aluminium shortage, that not what I said!
I said that you were once more spurting irrelevant innuendo.

No math there, just faith.

Yeah! "faith", ramp up the price of the base material by a factor of 3 and nothings happens, every use of aluminium is just like soda cans.

You are really a motherfucker you know!
I do enjoy insulting bastards like you.

Here's a nickel kid, buy yourself a sense of humor.
You can't do that, that's Ann Coulter's trick: "In journalism we call that a joke."
I stand by it, but when K gets excited it is kind of hard to continue rational discussion.  Do you think that is his goal?

If you want to take it up rationally, it started with Alan's suggestion for more rail.  We couldn't build more rail because "everything's peaking" including aluminum.

Is there a rational argument for that, or do we just wave hands, say prices will double or tripple, and that "manufacturing" will fail?

I have to say--I really don't know.

I just don't know.

If you want to take it up rationally, it started with Alan's suggestion for more rail. We couldn't build more rail because "everything's peaking" including aluminum.

That was NOT MY POINT!
My point was that you pretending that "I'll believe it's a shortage [of aluminium] when it doesn't come free with every can of soda." IS JUST BUNK.
See above

People pay a buck for a soda, and throw away the aluminum can.  What was it, close to a million metric tons lost a year that way?

And you want to quibble that this does not show that aluminum is still considered cheap by our society ... because the cash value for a single can is 3.5 cents by your calculation.  As I said, I think that confirms my argument.

BTW, I posted a more direct link/quote a while back.  I have to stitch this together from a few factoids:

  1. Over 50% of the aluminum cans produced are recycled.
  2. In 1998, the amount increased to over 879,000 metric tons.

Assuming we are at rougly 50% now, we are discarding rougly 879,000 metric tons each year now.  How many trains is that?

And I suppose the "double or tripple" question leads to how recycling might change.

Factoids from here:


The future of recycling?

It is a sad reality that it is the present, a few miles up the San Gabriel river trail.  Not children, but homeless men and women, with bikes and trailers stacked with aluminum cans.
It's amazing how try this song here is. Green Day's American Idiot. It seems to me particularly relevant right now. Some other songs of their that are relevant are Jesus of Suburbia where they talk about 'the holy scriptures of the shopping mall' and a 'steady diet of soda pop and ritalin'.

Don't wanna be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new media.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mindfuck America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
Well that's enough to argue.

Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along in the age of paranoia.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
Well that's enough to argue.

Don't wanna be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information nation of hysteria.
It's going out to idiot America.

Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.

What I forgot was the peak oil pranksters view their opinions as closer to theology than theory.

A friendly reminder from the petro-industrial complex:

Critics call World Bank energy scheme misguided
"The Bank continues to invest $2 billion and $3 billion a year in greenhouse gas-producing energy projects, which fuel climate change and fail to help the world's poor," said the report, which is backed by groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Policy Studies.

"Financing for renewable energy projects makes up less than 5 percent of the Bank's overall energy financing in fiscal year 2005," it added.

The World Bank is a legal criminal organization that exploits Third World resources and people on behalf of its western backers (yes, that would be you). It's no coincidence that Wolfowitz is the World Bank president.

It should be closed down, along with the IMF, and criminal investigations should start ASAP. But what are the chances?

Zilch, I've only made made aware of this "bank" recently and have tried to find out more on how they have ravaged the third world.  At some point revolution seems more proper than taking it in the ass every day.
That's been tried. Many, many times. At which point the U.S. sends troops in to 'restore order'. Ever wonder why our troops are in so many third world countries?
I meant here in the Only World we know, in Amerika.
Oh, okay. Agreed.

But at the moment its not plausible -TPTB hold too much power to counter anything. Though that will probably change as PO, climate change, and everything else wears on. And when pushed far enough, the 'peasants' always storm the Bastille.

Oh, I don't know if its that TPTB hold so much power - its just that revolution on TV is so much less effort than the real thing.
As I've said before, advertising has gotten so good we don't care about reality!
If we didn't have the World Bank, where would we send disgraced defense intellectuals?
The Monkeys are Running out of Oil

Turn your sound on and click this


Ron Patterson

Great stuff, Ron!
All I can say is:   oooooo, ooooo, ooooo
( reminds me, I think I'll go trim my nosehairs )
I knew this was going to happen: the sharks are coming to get us!! :  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060918/ap_on_sc/underwater_discoveries
And some of us "monkeys" fish with dynamite and cyanide.  Good thinking there!  Real sustainable...
Thanks, Ron.

I always like to get the week off to a good start. That video did the trick.

To save it, copy the You Tube url, go to keepvid.com, paste it in, select You Tube from the list and click on Download. When it comes back, right click to get Save Target As and put it on your hard drive.

This way, some of us can start things off right each and every week.

not funny/truth
The second article at the top, "Pragmatists And Heretics - Peak Oil And Runaway Global Warming" had these recommendations to deal with peak oil:

"If you agree that the peak oil problem is not solvable within our present economy with dire consequences then heretical options need to be considered:

  1. An ordered reconfiguration of our economy;
  2. a Manhattan-style renewable energy program;
  3. plus a US led global 'New Deal' based upon an oil depletion protocol.
  4. With organized relocalization to bioregions partitioning globalization and minimizing unnecessary trade;
  5. a weightless economy, quality not quantity;
  6. America as world's innovative problem solver for a common future and major wealth re cycler.

  7. New post green revolution agriculture;
  8. Draconian ecosystem-based natural resource management to protect biodiversity globally;
  9. local food.

  10. Turn the volume of advertising way down,
  11. stop socially engineering consumers;
  12. permaculture infill; trains and public transport; etc., etc. We need the possibility of change that can now happen only marginally as back eddies in an economic current that's unsustainable."

Some of these I'm sympathetic to (5,7,9,10,11 & 12), others I find scary (1,2,4). I certainly don't want the government to get involved enforcing any of these.

I find this to be symptomatic of some of the former socialists that have gravitated to the peak oil sphere, and who want to use it to create a new all powerful government to run everybody's lives.

I think these people are giving everyone involved a bad name.

They seem to have skipped step one - which also happens to be the most difficult.

1) Gain control of all significant political and social institutions on the planet.

There are mechanisms in the financial markets for converting correct views of the future into capital, and towards the adaptive changes, ultimately control of the institutions.
Are you saying that our first goal should be to raise money? If so, how much money do I need to raise to change the very goals of the financial markets I'm using to raise money? Can I  raise that much without having my values subverted by the goals of those financial markets?

You may be right in theory, Kevin, but I'm not exactly sure that using the mechanisms of wealth creation and consumption are going to bring an end to wealth creation and consumption. Something just doesn't feel right, there. If you know what I mean.

I have trouble seeing the financial system is anything other than totalizing. Resistance is going to have to be local.

Don't be such a pessimist.  Getting involved with the financial markets didn't hurt Jerry Rubin, after all...
I'm with Leanan in that I don't think strictly limiting the site to peak oil is a good idea either.

I don't claim to know what our most pressing problem is even; they are all interrelated. I am also supportive of Jim Burke's list of options 2,5,7,9,10,11 & 12 but 1,3,4,6 & 8 are just avenues for those that want to herd humanity. Ultimately however, all I can have faith in is changing personal behavior.

What I find the scariest is that people propose "US-led" anything. Those days are over, boys and girls.

And your talk of "former socialists" is just as easy a grab-bag as "doomers", complete nonsense used as an excuse to make yourself look smart. Guess what?

Want to talk socialism? I dare you to find a western country with more government involvement than the US these days.

Ah, but that's "national socialism".
No, I believe that, technically, it is fascism.  Rule by, of, and for the corporations.
Roel: When it includes spending the shmuck taxpayer's money on : 1.Military adventures 2.Evildoer Security 3.War on Drugs not supplied by Big Pharma 4.Buying votes by subsidizing corn ethanol to keep Red states Red, etc.etc., it isn't no damn unamerikan commie socialism. The nice thing is you can lower taxes for the important people and just put it on the card and everything will work out great as those Chinese are really stupid.
They're happy you think so. Makes it much easier for them.
Sarcasm alert.
I assume you numbered those items to be able to identify them, but that distorts the intention of the original text, which had no bullets and had a deliberate usage of some periods and some semicolons:

An ordered reconfiguration of our economy; a Manhattan-style renewable energy program; plus a US led global 'New Deal' based upon an oil depletion protocol. With organized relocalization to bioregions partitioning globalization and minimizing unnecessary trade; a weightless economy, quality not quantity; America as world's innovative problem solver for a common future and major wealth re cycler.

New post green revolution agriculture; Draconian ecosystem-based natural resource management to protect biodiversity globally; local food.

Turn the volume of advertising way down, stop socially engineering consumers; permaculture infill; trains and public transport; etc., etc. We need the possibility of change that can now happen only marginally as back eddies in an economic current that's unsustainable.

I think the first paragraph seems to say that the reconfiguration of the economy would consist of items 2-6.

But never mind, those who worship the Free Market above all else would reject all of this.  And those 80% of the PO crowd who, according to Rob Hopkins, are looking only for new energy sources to maintain BAU, they won't accept it either.

I think the recent article by Pat Murphy calmly and clearly spells out what we're really up against.  If we want to avoid "Plan D" (die-off).  (I do wish he'd mentioned the "P word" though - population control, starting in the USA.)

You are correct, I added the bullets, and upon looking at it again I see that the added clauses are explications of the original points.

That said, I don't relish the idea of government running a "Manhattan Project" to "solve" our looming energy crisis. Remember that one of the cornerstones of Jimmy Carter's energy plan was to make the Four Corners area a National Sacrifice zone in order to switch from Middle Eastern oil to Oil Shale. If Congress had gone along with the notion, a lot of money would have been made by workers and investors; not much oil would have been recovered -- and the Navajo lands would have been destroyed and the Colorado River despoiled.

Perhaps there is a better word for this process than "socialism," but I can't think of it.

Government responds to demands from all sectors, including voters and consumers as well as Halliburton, Ford, GMC, and ExxonMobil. And all these sectors, given the choice, would vote for lower energy prices.

There is no constituency for higher energy prices, which is why Robert Rapier's proposal is highly unlikely to get very far -- even though it is the only way to solve global warming and peak energy.

Conservation is perhaps the primary "silver bullet" to pave the way for the future, but I find it very difficult to believe it will come about by any means except higher prices and/or rationing, driven by shortages.


Well, the government ran a "Manhattan Project" of sorts to start the high days of car culture in the 50's with the buildout of the Interstate system. And the post-war recreation of the US as a permenantly militarized state was also such a government led economic iniative, an program that has received tens of trillions of dollars with scarcely even the trappings of free market decisions.

Both of these programs worked, in a manner of speaking. (Though, of course, we are reaping the bitter fruits of each right now.)

There is a better word for it than "socialism" -- and the word is centralization. And in fact centralized economies have generally proven far more robust in times of extreme social duress than have "free market" systems. Could England have effectively dealt with the threats that were posed against it in 1940 had there been no exercise of central power determining everything from levels of armament production to how much chocolate you could eat in a given month?

The reason people put up with it -- and the reason there was a "natural constituency  for it -- is that they wanted to survive and they judged that to be their best chance. Likewise, anyone who wants a snowball's chance in hell of keeping global warming from becoming catastrophic could easily use the same calculus.

So, nobody relishes the idea. But the appropriate question is: what system would work best for giving us the best chance to stave off planetary collapse?

That could be an honorable debate. Personally, my sense is that, "free markets" aren't the ticket. We are entering a societal period of "fight or flight" stress, and that tends to make markets very risk averse at precisely the time we need a massive investment in new infrastructure.

If people really understood the threat -- if you had stories like this on every day and every hour on US television and radio:

-- well, people would have a "Holy sh*t!" moment and start saying what can we do?

And the answer is: we can institute a transition over to a carbon-free economy (with a target date of 15-20 years) and have CCC and TVA style workforces making it happen. (With immediate a stringent economic penalties for trading partners that dont do the same.) Give people that choice, and I beleive they;ll make the right one.

After a period of centralizion, England, the US, etc. returned to a more laisez faire economy in the '50s. It truly can be a temporary measure.

When we talk about PO and GW, we are discussing two problems that are very interrelated. If Deffeyes is right and oil peaked last Dec., we will see CO2 emissions cuts that will dwarf Kyoto. Conversely, if we "solve" PO through a Manhattan PRoject that succeeds in getting oil out of shale oil, we'll destroy the southwest AND jack up the GW problem.

I'm certainly not saying that government is powerless, or that it is "bad" (a la the libertarians); just that they often respond to the wrong signals and that their actions are often both wrongheaded, and monumentally destructive.

Most of the worst environmental disasters of human history (the Aral Sea drying up, Hanford nuclear waste on the Columbia River, the paving of much of America, etc. etc. etc.), were governmental programs that no private entity would ever have bankrolled.

If Deffeyes is right and oil peaked last Dec., we will see CO2 emissions cuts that will dwarf Kyoto.

That will cut the CO2 from oil, sure.   But 'because energy is fungable', "clean coal" will be increased.

But what you say has very little to do with what I said.

First off, both I and the author of the crosscurrents piece stipulated it should be a carbon-free alternative energy infrastructure. Nuclear, wind, solar, biomass, etc.

Secondly, you didn't answer the essential idea that what makes centralization necessary under present circumstances is that we will be entering a period of unprecedented risk and turbulence and that free-market capital investment tends to contract under these kinds of circumstances. That's why the Britain WW2 analogy is appropriate -- they didn't wait for private investors to raise the capital to build armament factories, and they didn't let the market decide how much aluminum, chocolate, nylon, etc. went to consumer vs. military uses. But that has been case throughout history -- whenever a society's existence is threatened, there is a necessary move to a planned economy. Capital is just too skittish under the circumstances.

So if you ignore that much, then sure... the whole concept doesn't have much appeal.

Be a little bit more worried about these people than former or current socialists:


For a scary bunch of right-wing nationalists, they sure have a good handle on Peak Oil.  That's the best PO exposition I've ever seen from a political party!
Reading this piece, they don't seem like Oswald Mosely's fascists at all.

"Post-oil means post mass production of processed foods. Someone, male or female will need to cook a family meal."

They certainly aren't bound by reactionary sexual stereotypes.  Nor any of my other preconceived notions. At least by their PO postings.  

Dont you believe it. They have morphed from a party of knuckle dragging Nazi skin-heads in the 80's. They started to loose support and got an image makeover. Quite successful as well. Got suits and evryfink.

As time passes and Peak bites, they know that they can restart ethnic strife. They are starting to pick up support in White Working Class areas now. Largely because the WWC feel left out and ignored by the powers that be.
To date, in our 'never had it so good' society, not much trouble. Wait. I think they know time is on there side.

'As poverty knocks on the door, love flies out the window'.

Lets hope tomorrow doesnt belong to them.

'Cos if it does there will be a lot of new camps in the shires.

More worrying still. It is the ONLY thumbnail sketch on Peak Oil by any UK Political Party.

I think they are looking forward to PO.

I've been flogging this agenda for quite some time in the comments section here and in other forums. Glad to see it getting some discussion.

This is the way to go, kids. Not a day to waste.

All other stories, narratives and concerns on planet Earth pale by comparision to our need to respond in dramatic fashion to runaway global warming.

Word is getting out.

That famously hysterical and radical publication the Financial Times has just prominently run this story:


FIONA HARVEY, FINANCIAL TIMES - A growing body of scientific opinion suggests the world may be about to experience not a gradual rise in temperatures over several decades but a wild careering into climate chaos. That is because some of the changes triggered by warming temperatures create a "feedback" effect of their own. These feedbacks can cause the warming trend to accelerate further or bring serious disruption to regions of the world. In this view, the rising proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, by creating feedbacks, is pushing the earth's climate through a series of thresholds or tipping points that threaten to bring cataclysmic consequences. Those could include a much more rapid melting of the Arctic ice and the Greenland ice sheet than previously predicted, the accelerated melting of permafrost, the cessation of the Indian monsoon, a rapid dying back of forest in the Amazon and a halting of the sea currents that help bring warm weather to Europe. . .

Peter Smith, special professor in sustainable energy at Nottingham University, told the British Association science festival last week: "We could reach the tipping point within 15 to 20 years from now, which would give us just 10 years in which to determine the destiny of our planet." Jay Gulledge, senior research fellow at the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, says climatologists "have dramatically under-estimated how responsive the climate is to warming".


Afghanistan "rebuilding" goes awfully wrong

An August report from the US Congressional Research Service, made available in Canada last week, concedes it will at least take 5 more years to "wrestle Afghanistan from Taliban influence". That would make for a 10-year war; it started in 2001.

There is no longer any distinction between anti-terror operation Enduring Freedom and rebuilding mission ISAF III. It's now one big mess.

Meanwhile, a Canadian study says a Canadian soldier serving in Afghanistan is 6 times more likely to be killed than a US soldier in Iraq.

The latest offensive, code-named Medusa, is once again called "highly successful" by NATO, but Canadian Press doesn't buy it any longer:

The review, published by the Congressional Research Service on Aug. 22 and made available last week in Canada, comes as commanders in southern Afghanistan say they have crushed Taliban resistance in an area west of Kandahar.

Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid and Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, the Canadian and NATO commander in southern Afghanistan, met at Khalid's residence yesterday to declare victory in Panjwaii after a two-week offensive.

"The ability of the Taliban to stay and fight in the Panjwaii and Pashmul areas is at an end," Khalid told reporters.

NATO says intelligence claims 512 insurgents died and 136 were taken prisoner. Officials gave no figures for how many escaped. Taliban spokesmen have declared NATO claims wildly exaggerated "propaganda."

Yesterday's declaration of victory was eerily similar to another bold statement four months ago when Canadians took the traditional stronghold from Afghan guerrillas. After a month of sporadic but intense fighting, Lt.-Col. Ian Hope said coalition forces had "broken the back" of the Taliban in the area.

Instead, the Taliban returned almost immediately and dug fortified positions in the area.

In between admissions of casualties and failure, the US and Canada try to lay the blame with EU countries, who are reluctant to join in the operation. It's probably fair to assume the Europeans don't believe in the mission, and the NATO statements about it, anymore than the press now does.

In the meantime, Canada's Conservative government vows to stay, and last week sent more troops and material. National TV shows footage of coffins arriving back home on an almost daily basis. That would be deemed unaceptable in continental Europe, and it remains to be seen how much longer it will be accepted in Canada.

From what I seem to remember Europeans only accept the bodies of civilians blown up on trains, embassies and on holiday in foreign countries.
Europeans have longer memories than you. They remember that they have invaded Afghanistan, and other such places, before. And they are realistic about outcomes.

Try some Kipling:


Or This:

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
   And wait for supports like a soldier.
      Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
   An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
         So-oldier of the Queen!


From Energy Bulletin:
Institutional investors warned about peak oil and climate change

A major report launched today warns institutional investors to pay attention to the dangers of climate change and peak oil. The fourth Carbon Disclosure Project report is the result of a collaboration of 225 institutional investors with combined assets of $31 trillion. In the report, Winston Hickox, Senior Portfolio Manager of Environmental Initiatives at Calpers, one of the world's largest pensions funds, writes, " While climate change risks are rapidly becoming clearer and better understood by institutional investors, the implications of "peak oil," yet another large-scale economic externality that requires better understanding by investors, is less well known to the institutional investor community."

I looked a little closer at the Carbon Disclosure Project Report. This is basically a climate change report, with a major section near the back (Section 8) on peak oil. Al Gore is the key note speaker at the meeting at which it is being released today.

According to the report:

CDP's aim is twofold: to inform investors of the significant risks and opportunities presented by climate change; and to inform company management of the serious concerns of their shareholders regarding the impact of climate change on company value.

Each year, the CDP sends out a survey to Fortune 500 companies regarding climate change issues. The current report summarizes responses to this year's survey.

The report concludes:

Greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation creates winners and losers. The best positioned company is our GHG regulatory model would have windfall revenues yielding $298 million or 10.6% of 2005 Earnings (EBITDA). The worst could lose 25% of tis EBITDA due to regulatory compliance costs.

GHG reduction is less costly than expected. At a fixed marginal abatement cost of $25 per tonne, many companies could reduce their "business as ususal" 2012 emissions to 10% below 2005 levels for less than 1% of their reported 2005 earnings.

This report is important because it calls attention to global warming issue, and the fact that something can be done without too great a cost. By including a section in the back of the report about peak oil, the report increases awareness of peak oil and opens the door for including questions relation to peak oil in future questionnaires.


What are you seeing in the insurance industry in terms of the penetration of Peak Oil knowledge and ramifications?

When are the big companies going to start changing their 5 year plans etc?  

What was the link to that article you wrote and posted before?



Penetration in the insurance industry of Peak Oil knowledge and ramifications still seems to be pretty low. People are much more willing to think about global warming, since they can easily see the hurricanes that are causing today's problems. It seems like it takes a long time to sink in. The fact that MSM treats it as an oddball idea doesn't help.

With respect to planning for peak oil, I think insurers should be using the ideas of "Enterprise Risk Management" to look at potential impacts on their operations. Enterprize Risk Management is a type of analysis some insurers (and consultants) do to look at the impact of risks that cross many aspects of a company's operations. The usual approach is to look at what has happened in the past (such as fluctuations in inflation rates), and model expected impacts if similar events should happen now. I think companies (instead, or in addition)should be modeling likely future risks, including the collapse of the housing bubble and the arrival of peak oil. So far, this doesn't seem to be happening to any signficant extent.

The article I wrote about peak oil for the insurance industy was Oil Shortages: The Next Katrina?

Thanks for asking.    

I think the best chance of peak oil to break into the mainstream is through the financial press. At some point, other major corporations are going to realize that they need truthful numbers out of the oil companies if they are to make rational plans. Ford and GM would not be in such dire situations now if they had understood peak oil.

I have been trying to think up the most efficient way to communicate about peak oil and energy issues to those with a financial background (I am trying to see past my viewpoint, which is engineering). I could use some feed back on my current approach.

I think there are two key points: Rate of Discovery of Oil and EROEI. Everything else falls away once we can communicate these two. What I am trying to do is give people some intuitive models to use to reason about these concepts.

Rate of Discovery of Oil

This graph posted on the Energy Bulletin gives the whole peak oil story in a single view. Once a person can see that the most of the oil reserves we are using were found in the mid sixties or earlier. The discoveries have clearly peaked, and declined. Oil production must peak and decline as well.

(Refer to the Exon graph, second one down)

If we consider discoveries as "revenue entering a company", then this graph looks just like a dying company. It has early success, but now the revenue stream is drying up. If a person was managing such a company, they would not be authorizing huge new spending, they would be calling for cutting back spending and shifting the built up cash reserves to new companies or new markets. (alternate energy, energy efficiency).

A comparison of current energy production versus rates of discovery should terrify anyone who has done basic accounting. A person does not need to understand Hubbert Linearization to realize that we need to change our energy consumption.


Not all fuel sources are created equal. Some sources, like oil, give a very large payback for a small investment. This payback creates a "profit margin" that supports the existence of all the people that do not work in the energy industry.

A good metaphor for understanding EROEI is farming productivity.  When a farmer grows just enough food to feed himself and his family and plant a new crop, his return on seed invested is 1.0. This is sustenance level agriculture. Everyone in this economy is a farmer, there are no other sectors of the economy.

As the productivity rises to 5, it creates some room for other trades. The other occupations might be a blacksmith, a doctor, a weaver, a shoe maker, a soldier. Now the farmers only make up 20 percent of the economy.

Today you can drive through Kansas as see signs that say "One Kansas farmer feeds 100 people plus YOU". In such an economy, there are many specialists, many segments of the economy, and a very small percentage of people need to work in farming.

Unfortunately, the energy system is moving the opposite direction to this little metaphor. Oil has a high EROEI, from 5 to 20 to 1. Many proposed "solutions" have much lower EROEI. One such item is corn based Ethanol with an EROEI that is only 1.2 or lower. Similar low EROEI fuels are tar sands and shale oil.

Attempting to transition to these lower EROEI fuels will be like moving toward sustenance level farming. The energy sector will begin to make up a larger and larger segment of the economy. When it cannot expand any longer, then other sectors will need to contract to fit within the "surplus".

End Notes:

Any suggestions on the basic approach? Can you think of other topics that are more critical for those starting out to understand? I think that once a person has these two major chunks of understanding, it is possible to debunk most of the deliberate lies that are being tossed out.

Its not really that hard.  From a finance/econ background I figured out the game real quick, but didnt know what to do with my gut feeling until a chance encounter somehow with LATOC.  I read the splash page and took a big breather and realized we're screwed.

Now I knew in econ 101 in college as soon as my econ proffesor told me natural resources are considered in econ terms as infinite.  I wish as a freshman I could have held a better argument and stuck to science, but I capitulated and went on for another 3 years before figuring out Peak Oil.  

Now I talk it up in my econ/finance classes and the young unenlightened take it with a grain of salt since the facts are larger than life and it's easier to go back to business as usual.  There are many qho thank me for the info, but don't take it farther since I don't think they want to know.  I'm sure I'm labeled the crazy eccentric guy who answers all the questions to get us through the lecture as fast as possible and who happens to spout off about diminishing returns for oil exploration.

I would like to have a lot more, more reliable information on the EROEI of various enrgy production systems.
I agree.  However from what I've read around here a lot of the data hinges on assumptions made when determining the EROEI based on pure mathematics.  Since I know assumptions create their own headaches, I tend to wait until a consensus range is demonstrated by a production facility.  The good ole show me state coming through on that one.
Some Econ posts for the day....

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2006-09-17T213639Z_01_N 17219044_RTRUKOC_0_US-FINANCIAL-SAC.xml&archived=False

Hedge funds exiting and causing a crash?  Hmmm...last sentence is the best....

"Hedge funds are bigger than they used to be. Their positions are bigger," he said. "I worry that if everyone were to sell, could we get out?"

That would be a NO.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=reutersEdge&storyID=2006-09-18T093822Z_01_N1 2266445_RTRUKOC_0_US-ECONOMY-BROKERS.xml&pageNumber=2&imageid=&cap=&sz=13&WTModL oc=NewsArt-C1-ArticlePage2

Large scale reductions in home lending and home realtors.  Gee, think we're in a downturn yet?

"Over the last year or so, we probably have not been getting overly qualified people," he said.

You mean you just hired anyone?


More talk of slow bonds sales for our T Bills.  So countries are realizing it takes $1Trillion a year in net foreign acquisitions just to maintain our standards now?  Who would of thunk it...?

Net flows of capital into the United States fell to a much smaller-than-expected $32.9 billion in July, less than half of the nation's trade deficit in that month, the Treasury Department said Monday.

The report said net purchases of bonds dipped to $6.6 billion in the month, the lowest level of buying since April.

This statement on page two of the housing article gave me pause:

Real estate industry job cut announcements totaled 3,033 year-to-date through August, a nearly 96 percent surge over the same period in 2005, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an employment consulting firm based in Chicago.

The mortgage lending industry has not fared much better, with layoff announcements totaling 8,513 during the same period, a rise of over 70 percent year-over-year, according to data provided by the company.

You haven't seen THAT on the news. More than 11,000 jobs in the most crucial economic sector lost in 8 months -not good. It looks to me more and more like we might be at the edge of a recession.

We have a winner!
The Peak Oil thing is going the way of our politics in general: It's not about trying to understand what's going on and formulate sensible policies. It's become a team sport, something your team either "wins" or "loses". As if PO advocates are somehow "the opponents".

It's all bullshit, and of course, in the end Actual Reality trumps Virtual Reality.

It's so discouraging...

- sgage


This article is interesting in what it seems to be missing.  This article points the recent price drop in the SPR.  Now I know this releases #'s, but does anyone here track them month to month?  I ask b/c if the SPR is really being tapped to temper prices until Nov, we should see a noticable drop in stocks that can't really be hidden that long could it?

Anyone with more knowledge on how the SPR "really" works would be helpful to determine the degree of accuracy in this article's claims.

Here's a link to the SPR:


No new withdrawls seem to be posted.  Can we trust this is true?  
I think oilmanbob is my source for this.  Maybe someone can give more insight.

How come nobody is discussing Learsy's article about the debunking of peak oil 'alarmists' -- the first of today's links (here)?

Learsy is clearly no fool -- his concern with climate change indicates that, like many well-informed people, he is worried that we will 'run out of environment' before we 'run out of energy'. That is indeed probably the main reason why only a small proportion of environmentalists attach priority to peak oil.

Did Learsy cut too close to the bone?

Nah, I think it's just that we've already discussed similar articles ad nauseam.  Indeed, his article is in response to an article posted here and discussed several days ago.  
Hate to disagree, but anyone who thinks Jack2 is going to save the world is a fool.  I'll believe all the oil from "future discoveries" when I start pumping it into my gas tank!
Damn, I used the "B" word! (believe)  So let me put it another way: Until that oil is discovered and pumped out of the ground, it is belief.  When I can pump it into my gas tank, belief is irrelevant.
A bit off-topic, but when you mentioned Jack2 here, I was reminded of a question that occurred to me a few days ago, following the report of that 6.0 quake in the GOM.  I haven't seen it addressed yet and apologize if I simply missed it.  

Do any geologists here have any insights on whether GOM quakes have the potential to cause widespread (however you wish to define "widespread") effects on GOM production, or would they be expected to only cause very localized disruptions to nearby wells?  Is the GOM seismically active enough for this to be a relevant factor to consider when thinking about possible energy shock triggers?  It seems to me that seismologists are somewhat fond of saying that "in a seismically active zone, it's not 'if' but 'when' a big one hits."

I'm completely naive about the science behind this particular topic but it occurred to me that very deep wells (like Jack2) might be exquisitely sensitive to the type of shear forces of the scale that a major quake could produce, and that multiple wells could go offline simultaneously if a large event were to occur.  Major disruptions of even one or two of the bigger wells could cause aftershocks (sorry...couldn't resist) throughout the markets.  

Thanks in advance for any insight on this.

-Peak Squid

What would be very interesting to know in re: Jack is the price at which the oil would need to sell in order to recover the costs.   I'm told that the WTI price needs to be more than 100% higher than extraction costs to make it profitable to pump.   Anyone have any idea what it will cost to get the Jack oil to land?
Re: his article is in response to an article posted here and discussed several days ago

Leanan -- how do you know that?

I meant the WSJ article he explicitly links to.  That was posted here and discussed in a previous DrumBeat.
Learsy makes his prejudices known towards the end. After blathering on the usual nonsense about how the end of oil has been prophesied for a century, he says,

"To be clear, my argument with peak oil is that it has been used as an effective yet spurious tool to ratchet up oil prices and transfer literally trillions of dollars to the myriad players of the oil industry and their hangers on -- all at our expense....

And here's another twist: The U.S. Department of Energy, our government's ambassadorial mission to the oil and gas industry has asked The National Petroleum Council, an oil and gas research group, to investigate peak oil claims. To head this study will be none other than the "Gipper" himself, the oil industry's own Lee Raymond, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon and the famous recipient of a $400 million plus retirement package. It was through his actions, by example and deed - serving as a beacon to others in his industry -- that we are now being held up at the gas pump to fatten their bottom line and make those payouts possible.

Interesting idea; have Lee Raymond investigate Peak Oil! What a laugh!

I think a lot of these leftist pundits refuse to believe PO because it would justify higher profits for oil companies.

Kuntsler made an interesting statement on his blog today:

But here's one thing I wonder: what if the number one user of oil products in the US had laid in huge inventories of the stuff earlier in the year and has lately withdrawn from bidding in the futures and spot markets? I am speaking of the US Military. It would make sense, against the background of Iran rattling its nuclear capabilities, and the Israel / Hezbollah affair, that the US armed forces filled their tank farms to the max this summer and are now stepping back from bidding on any additional oil for the time being. This could be easily "managed" by the people who run this massive organization -- namely, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the rest of the civilian authorities based in the executive branch of the government. They don't have to consult with congress on their oil purchases.

This seems to be the most probable of the conspiracy theories floating around as to why oil is dropping so precipitously before a major election. I'm not saying it is probable in and of itself, just more probable than some of the others. What do others here think?

While I do feel this is the case I find little evidence or logical explanation of how this could happen.  Every day Trillions of dollars in oil is traded.  There are maybe a select few who have that kind of cash, and to affect spot prices you HAVE to trade in oil futures or no?  

Even when taking into account contracts already in place, how much oil is needed on a day to day basis that IS affected by spot prices?  Maybe you don't need trillions of dollars to affect price.  But even if we quit "buying" oil going into the election, how long could the SPR last anyway?  

So I went to the SPR website and found this....

Which already has OCT 06 numbers for exchanges!  And looking at the numbers it would appear nothing really happens at these reserves month to month except following Katrina & Rita last Sept.  They don't even have drawdown #'s for 2006 at all.  WTF?  

We consume 24Mbpd, right?  So if we quit buying we've got 687/24=28 days or a months supply.  At the worst of Katrina/Rita we drew only 15.7mp for TWO MONTHS and gas went to $3/gal.  So how many barrels would it take to reduce gas to $2 in my area?  I would love to see some raw numbers add up to provide some punch to this argument.

Kunstler talks about the army, not the SPR.
My larger point is that I have heard very little details or even ideas as to how oil can be manipulated so easily or for such a period of time by a few traders.  The only focus left after going through some envelope numbers appears to be this BS cushion we call the SPR.  Sorry for the confusion.
Don't worry about that. But also, don't lose sight of how big a customer the US army is. I've said a few times that they are very peak aware, no choice, and they are bound to be stacking up however and wherever they can, no matter the costs.

It's hard to see how they would do it, but if possible, they'l; want to get multi-year secure supplies, and not just for peacetime. Having branched out to 120 different countries worldwide makes that a logistical nightmare, of course.

Which, come to think of it, is a big energy consumer by itself, just getting the stuff to where you need it, They've secured the Iraq reserves now, but that doesn't solve these kinds of problems, That's good for that theatre, but pretty much useless in the Pacific, for instance.

Energy planning in the Pentagon got a lot more complicated in the past 5-10 years. And that means that they were and are prepared for sudden declines.

That is nice to know.  I'll still be here securing my meager fortune to leave!
Leave? There a list somewhere out there of 120 countries you don't want to go to. And unless I'm mistaken, that does not include the one you're in now.
North of this border is nice, Vancouver especially.  Not to mention I wouldnt rule out Swizterland.
Hello Optimist,

I hope that you and many other TODers read AMPOD's LATOC news & updates sections--His links many times posit answers to questions such as yours.  Thus, this link on oil market manipulation.

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

this link on oil market manipulation.

Which was debunked on the Daily Kos here:  


I can't shoot 'em down nearly as fast as Bob can Google them up, so please apply some critical thinking.

Bob - I suggest a new tagline with the yeast. "I just found this on some website somewhere, could be utter crap - I don't know". At least people would be warned.

Hello Jack,

Thxs for the counter-posting--I have no idea or expertise to tell who is more correct--just posting it for discussion by those with more expertise.  The DailyKos article talks about BigOil's inability to manipulate prices, but the Jeff Vail's article discusses Govt ability to influence prices--one is apples, the other is oranges.  Consider how governmental invasion of Iraq has influenced prices.

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

BP Says Thunder Horse Platform Delayed Until Mid-2008

BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company, said its Thunder Horse production platform in the Gulf of Mexico won't start until at least the middle of 2008, more than two years behind schedule, because of repair delays.

Tests over four months ``revealed metallurgical failure in components of the subsea system,'' which will now be retrieved and rebuilt, London-based BP said in a statement today.

The start-up delay at Thunder Horse is the second in two months, and comes after a series of disasters at the company's U.S. operations, including a 2005 Texas refinery explosion, oil spills in Alaska, and investigations into market manipulation in propane and oil trading.

The platform, designed to process 250,000 barrels of oil a day and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, was damaged by Hurricane Dennis in July 2005, leaving it listing at a 20-degree angle. It still hasn't started production.

On July 25, BP said Thunder Horse and another platform, Atlantis, wouldn't start until early 2007, after saying in April that Thunder Horse would start in the second-half of this year. Thunder Horse was originally supposed to start in late 2005 and Atlantis this year.

This is why I think Skrebowski may be too optimistic...

"This is why I think Skrebowski may be too optimistic..."

And we have reports that all four of the largest producing fields in the world are declining or crashing.

This article also says the repairs have cost hundreds of millions of dollars so far and it's been one year.  So if it's going to take another year and a half to get it up and running we'll assume double repair costs, so let's say it's $250M just to be easy and it balloons to $500M, then we're looking at a $1.5B piece of equipment.  And it's still not working "right."  You ever wreck a car that's not been totalled, but you know even after they fix it, that "something" isn't right?  I have a feeling it's going to be that way when it comes to this platform.

So these rigs are looking more and more dispoable.  Now I know the sunk costs are enourmous, but you know these guys will keep throwing money at these.  A few more hurricanes and this GOM game is over.  How many people are going to bet that the GOM will continue unabated by nature in the next 5 years?  This is dire and really expensive.

The platform, designed to process 250,000 barrels of oil a day and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, was damaged by Hurricane Dennis in July 2005, leaving it listing at a 20-degree angle. It still hasn't started production.

This is simply wrong. Hurricane Dennis did not cause Thunder Horse to list, that culprt was Hurricane Ivan in 2004. For an explination of the damage done by Dennis and a note that it was Ivan that caused TD to list, along with a good pictue of the listing Thunder Horse, look here.

Ron Patterson

My second picture post on TOD

250,000 * 365 * 70 * 2 = $ 12.8 billion in lost revenues (I think)

You figure the avg oil price in the last 2 yrs isn't $70, but maybe closer to $50.  Still it's a load of cash and it puts it in perspective on lucrative these rigs are considering the cost was a mere $1B before repairs were needed and throwing off even $5B in the first year would yield a retarded ROA of 400% on this one piece of equipment.  Wow.  As long as the finance guys see these kind of numbers I can see rigs costing several times as much coming on line.
I was combining last year's avearge price with next year's average price :)
Good call...but if it's been down for one year fully and not pumped since 2004, aren't we really talking about 4 years then?
Yeah, it has to be at least 3 years late if they're talking about 2008 - the next great year for Hurricanes.

250,000 * 365 * 85 * 3 = $23.3 billion

(85 = av oil price for 2005, 2006 and 2007)

And people are whining about profits NOW.  It's going to be ugly for sure.
I can see you have not been informed of the truth the way I have in various peak timing debates. See, since Thunder Horse will start production after it was scheduled to start, it is effectively the same as starting now, which means that its current production is effectively the same as real oil coming out of a real pipeline.

Except there isn't any oil.

But apart from that, there is a huge flood of new oil production just waiting to hit the market, any time now - after all, look at the huge amount Thunder Horse has been poised to provide any day now, with its capacity of 250,000 barrels of oil a day and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

Except in the real world, its production since 2005 is 0 barrels and 0 cubic feet. But at some point, after another two hurricane seasons, it will be a major part of the increase of oil production which will prove just how false the prediction of near term peak oil is.

But there still isn't any oil coming from Thunder Horse today, and there won't be any coming in 2007, apparently.

And as we are starting to see, BP's infrastructure is a lot more creaky than anyone suspected just a few months ago, unless you happened to be a certain Houston investment banker.

Basically, I think that there is another fault line in the peak oil debate, between those looking at the oil coming out of the pipeline now (to whatever extent it is possible to determine), and those looking at spreadsheets about what should be coming out of the pipeline.

It is possible for both sides to get distracted by the minor points and foibles of their perspectives, but peak oil is not measured with spreadsheets, it is measured at the end of the pipeline.

So let's see, 250,000 barrels a day is roughly 4% of American oil production, using the Prudhoe Bay measuring scale - I bet by 2008, there is a good chance that 250,000 barrels a day will be 5% of American domestic production - see, the peak problem is being solved, since 5% is bigger than 4%, which means a full net plus of 1% - or something equally fantastic. (Actually, there is a German expression for such math - it is called a Milchmädchenrechnung or 'milk maiden calculation.')

Is 5 not 25% greater than 4?
I'll get off the floor now....damn milk math.
we might call it fuzzy math, or voodoo math, depending on which generation of Shrub is doing the name-calling.
Since the much milder conditions at Thunder Horse depths in terms of temperature and pressure have had such a devastating effect, you'd have to be a real jackass to continue nursing great hopes for Jack!
My first picture post on TOD A glimpse of the future?

The indoor ski centre in Dubai - booming economy and energy well spent?

There has been some debate recently about polarisation resulting from peak oil.  Those with energy and lots of cash may be able to achieve anything they want while energy poor developing countries may struggle somewhat with high energy costs and energy shortages.

This ski center is probably no more extravegant than Europeans and Americans et al flying to ski areas in Winter - which I myself enjoy doing - but I am also aware that this type of activity may have to be rationed in future.

Energy consumption will peak in the richest countries last - and peak oil consumption may already have arrived in many poorer countries.

Hahaha. This type of activity is rationed now.

I've been following this thing in Dubai for quite some time. I  think it is hilarious. Where did you get this picture? Are there more?

Do you want one with actual skis on?
Don't tell me you've actually been there. Yeah, how come everybody is walking? They haven't built the pro shop yet where you can rent skis? They forgot that part. Hehe.
I ski in France and Norway.  Pictures came from an friend who travels - was actually on his way to Thunderhorse - so I guess he'll have a couple of years off.
This time with skis:

That's incredible. I wonder how long before some high-profile event, like the U.S Olympic snowboard team showing up to do stunts for the camera happens.
Here's a link that contains story of ski-slope.

If you have Google Earth installed you can go direct to the beach.


Got to love Janszen...Debtor's Prison literally.

Debtors' prisons have a strong historical track record. Although Charles Dickens railed against such prisons because his father was often in one, they helped propel England's Industrial Revolution. People frightened of them worked hard and paid their debts. It's no coincidence that England lost its world dominance not long after abolishing them in 1869.

Clearly, debtors' prisons will be a jobs powerhouse--tens of thousands of stable jobs will be created annually in sectors including construction, food service and security. These new jobs will help replace those lost in manufacturing as well as those likely to start diminishing in real estate-related activities, which has been responsible for over 40 percent of new jobs in recent years. "The business of America is business," said Calvin Coolidge, U.S. President from 1923 to 1929. The business of tomorrow is indentured servitude.

I know many of you here have talked about the slave conditions imposed by debt.  

You ain't kiddin'.

Last Oct, congress passed & W kicked out the legs from the consumer bankruptcy law.

At the moment, debtors filing for bankruptcy are legalled mandated to get scammed for "debt counselling" by unregulated "debt counsellors", while said counselling firm takes their paycheck and pays the bills for the debtor after a 10% cut, and the bankrupcy judge no longer discharges the unpayable debt, he just determines the time-timetable. [In a nutshell].

At some point, when post-peak decline sets in, growth becomes history, the poor old capitalist mare is going to lay down, and no amount of kicking will make her get up again.  When the owners decide to stop kicking her, they'll pull out a gun, and render her to dog food: I.E. debt servitude/feudalism.

Bankruptcy "reform" was a necessary, though not sufficient, brick in the wall.

Any takers on the when's, how's and where-for's on the next legislative initiatives to enable debt servitude?

I don't know about the control.  I have to believe that 60 million people having guns will become a factor.  

I have a feeling the "Anger" phase after the denial phase is going to be significant.  

A line from the movie "The Substitutes"  about football,  And they brought on substitutes to play 5 games only, anyway;

Coach talking to the team on their last game "You Are VERY dangerous people, because You realize you have Nothing to Loose"

Not having anything to loose possibly may become a common state of being  in the future.

Couple that with a generation grown up on "Grand Theft Auto"  and Columbine will really become just high school memories.

And they know where the rich live in their area.


Maybe not.

An Update on Shortages
A few weeks ago several of us commented on what seemed to be shortages in supermarkets and big box stores. Most of the noted shortages involved various grocery items. Since that discussion, I have kept track of this phenomenon in order to determine whether or not it was chronic or a blip. I have done this by keeping a rough check of the inventory levels of the various stores I shop at. In addition, I have mentioned this to friends of mine who live around the country to get their thoughts on it. Finally, this past weekend I had to go shopping for a new vacuum cleaner. In the interests of research (and the low inventories of vacuum cleaners, discussed below) I went to several stores and several different kinds of stores, and noted the inventory levels of each. I also went to Lowe's to buy some home improvement items the local hardware store didn't have, and checked there as well. My findings are as follows:

-The shortages are continuing locally, and increasing. This is occurring at big box stores (Wal-mart, Kroger, etc) and local grocery and health food stores.
-The items which are in short supply have varied some, but many are the same as three weeks ago. They include: juice, canned and packaged fruits and vegetables, various packaged meats (luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages, etc.), freezer goods, some OTC medications, a few appliances (vacuum cleaners -I had to go to three different stores of the same chain to find one that had several decent models in), canned goods from chili to tuna. Some of these items were completely sold out, while others were `merely' running low. This was particularly interesting at stores such as Wal-Mart that pride themselves on keeping fully stocked shelves. When I asked employees what the problem was many were flabbergasted. Others said they were having supply problems. Every store had some bare or nearly bare shelves but these varied from store to store.
-The items that weren't in short supply were as interesting as those that were. Bakery goods were fully stocked. Junk food was still in abundance. It was interesting to note that one store was out of canned and frozen corn, but had plenty of corn chips and the like.
-Hardware and hardware stores seem to be unaffected thus far.

As far as regional differences:
-People I know in the South, Eastern Midwest, and Northeast have all reported shortages, with the exception of Florida.
-I know reports from the bulk of the Midwest.
-California and the rest of the Pacific coast seem to be unaffected.

Questions that need to be answered include: What is the cause of these shortages? Why are they affecting some parts of the country but not others? (If indeed they are; my sample wasn't exactly a scientific sample.) Is this a short term phenomenon, or something that will continue indefinitely? Either way, what is the ultimate cause? How will this affect prices? And why haven't more people noticed this?

Any thoughts are welcome.

The shortage of contact-lens liquids around here (Vermont) are continuing (since January or so).  It's not just the one liquid from one brand that had a problem with fungal infections.  It is several kinds of liquids from several brands.
One correction: the Mid-West discussion on regional differences should say 'I have no reports at all from the bulk of the MidWest.'
well - one possible explanation fitting your theory is that most of the 'crap' that we buy at big box stores comes from containers that arrive in ports on the west coast, and the east coast is the end of the line transportation wise and any snafus that arise, logistically due to oil or otherwise, will result shortages at the end of the line.

but are there shortages of what you really NEED?

Basic grocery items? Um, yeah. (Though I myself keep a 3-6 month stock of just about everything in my pantry.) If you'll read what I said, about the only grocery items that haven't been affected are bread and junk food.

Riddle me this: if we're short on corn, why are they making corn chips and corn oil but not canned corn?

<grocers voice>That is now located in the adult beverage section, it's under ethanol now</grocers voice>
India hunts deep sea energy and mineral reserves

India has a deadline of 2009 to file claims before the UN's New York-based Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) -- for rights over the natural resources beneath, if it can prove its seabed is a natural extension of the outer edge of the subcontinental landmass.

"At present production, India's oil and gas reserves will last 30 years," said V.K. Sibal, director-general for hydrocarbons, Ministry of Petroleum, Delhi. "Extending the continental shelf will help India find resources for sustainable development."

Funny how, every time I take a sip of my coffee, the meaning of the term "sustainable development" has changed.

I thought Albert Bartlett made it clear enough when he defined sustainable growth as an oxymoron, but no, it's too tempting for politicians and economists to use, and too hard for most people to understand.

My city, Montreal, proudly promotes itself as the "city of sustainable development", and then, without missing a beat, plans new highways.

It doesn't seem to bother anyone, like a car that uses 10% less gas can be called "good for the environment."

Commodity Strategists: Goldman Says Buy Crude Oil for December

By Nesa Subrahmaniyan

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world's most profitable investment bank, recommends investors buy crude oil for December delivery and sell contracts a year later as recent price declines may have been overdone.

Goldman Sachs is ``very positive on the oil market during the fourth quarter'' and demand will ``likely improve,'' Goldman analysts led by Jeffrey Currie said in a report on Sept. 16. Global oil demand may rise by more than 2.2 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter compared with 1.2 million barrels a day in the first half of 2006, the analysts said.

Oil's decline in the past month pushed December futures below contracts for delivery at the end of next year. Crude has fallen 19 percent in New York from a record $78.40 a barrel on July 14 on rising U.S. fuel inventories and reduced concern about Iran's standoff with the United Nations over nuclear enrichment.

``We would recommend being long December 2006 against a short December 2007 position, as'' the price disparity encourages traders to hold oil in storage to benefit from higher prices next year, Goldman said. A decline in oil prices recently has increased demand to a level ``not seen since July of last year.''

Oil for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded at $63.44 a barrel, up 11 cents, in after-hours electronic trading at 5:40 p.m. Singapore time. A month ago, the contract nearest to delivery closed at $71.14.

The December contract was at $65.11 today and the bid price for December 2007 was $69.91.

The difference between December 2006 and December 2007 contracts was minus $4.72 a barrel on Sept. 14, and at minus $4.80 a barrel today.

Limited Output

A 35 percent decline in gasoline prices since August may raise demand by 200,000 barrels a day, and a colder winter may boost prices in the fourth quarter at a time when production is constrained, according to Goldman.

``The market will be lucky to grow crude production by more than 1.5 million barrels a day during the fourth quarter without significant increases from Saudi Arabia,'' Goldman said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps 40 percent of the world's oil, last week opted to maintain its production target and consider possible cuts in December should prices slide further.

Meteorologists' forecast for a weak El Nino pattern suggests that the Northern Hemisphere winter may be colder than average, Goldman said.

Goldman said rising U.S. diesel inventories are mainly attributable to a switch in grades to ultra-low sulfur grades.

Tanks holding the older grade are being emptied and cleaned to store the new fuel while the new cleaner burning diesel is added to storage.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nesa Subrahmaniyan in Singapore at nesas@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: September 18, 2006 05:49 EDT

Oil CEO how's it going?
Any word on getting Naimi to fly down for my slides?
Hey wondering if I could get your opinion on this.

http://www.raymondjamesecm.com/Docview.asp?file=http://beacon1.rjf.com/researchpdf/iEne091506b_0805. pdf

Why is american storage ofr NG going through the roof while canadian storage looks rather weak in comparison. If we add the 2 up the "glut" in NG looks a lot less.
Your thoughts?

Hey, we're actually thinking of flying you in for the next OPEC meeting. Rafael Ramirez says he's gonna be in Cuba with Hugo that weekend. He needs someone to sit in for him. Ever been to Abuja? They tell me it's somewhere in Nigeria.

That pdf link isn't working for me. Anybody else having same problem? I'm getting 'Invalid Request.'

You still need Norwegian field-by-field stats? I found them.

Yes I do. Please. Pretty please.
For Raymond try this
then click on NG update. I also emailed you.
Did you read it?
http://www.npd.no/English/Frontpage.htm  is their homepage

hit products and services at top ->Facts and Statistics

Then on that page hit first link in middle under first heading to get NPD's facts page


on this page their are links in the right side frames that have all the data.

Try "fields," it will open up option "producing fields" and then give you excel files to download back on the left. And "downloads."

Yes, I have had time to skim through Raymond James report. I don't know a lot about the history of NG production, but from all the graphs it looks like storage is up, even seasonally in both Canada and US. It's the mild weather that is causing the price to be so low.

I haven't heard about a "glut." Where did you get that? Did you read NYT article on NG Hedge Fund that lost $3Billion? It seems to suggest that the NG market is much more volatile than the oil market.

I'll be bookmarking these reports, they seem to be a decent source of timely analysis. They lay out their forecasts and revisions in a nicely transparent form.

Oil Depletion Mitigation Bill

The following are suggestions for what an "Oil Depletion Mitigation Bill" could include:

I. Funding Farmers Transitioning from Conventional to Organic/Sustainable Methods of Food Production

II. A Federally Sponsored Program to Replace Incandescent Bulbs with Compact Fluorescents

III. $10,000 Mini-Grants to all non-profit Relocalization Groups in the United States with 100+ Members

IV. Increased Funding to existing Energy Auditing and Weatherization Programs

V. Matching Funds for Renewable Energy

VI. Immediate Adoption of the "Oil Depletion Protocol" and "The Earth Charter"

Quick question about natural gas wells! Wells are labled primary and alternate, when an alternate well established, what is it's purpose? Is it to be a back up in case the primary fails? or is it to assist the primary?

I am ignorant about this and thought you guys/gals might know.


Amaranth Facing $2B in Gas Market Losses

NEW YORK -- Amaranth Advisors, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, is likely to have more than $2 billion in losses after a fall in volatile natural gas futures last week.

Greenwich, Conn.-based Amaranth, which has $7.5 billion under management according to its Web site, declined to comment on the losses. Based on assets of $7.5 billion, however, the fund is looking at a loss of $2.63 billion.

Amaranth is the second hedge fund to be devastated by big swings in the natural gas market recently, with New York's MotherRock LP last week telling investors they are unlikely to get any of their money back.

Russia telling shell to go take a hike.
This may delay Sakhlin-2
2 real bad events for future supply. For once I would like to see some rationality in the oil market. I hoping that the latter contracts 08-10 rally regardless what happens to the near term contracts.
Hard to know what to think exactly. Got to dive into some archives for the precise goings-on. Anyone knows more, please post.

The western spin is that Putin makes one more move to grab resources. But that is not the whole story. In the form of a  production-sharing agreement, Russia was very interested in having a main partner for the technologically difficult undertaking, but is very dissatisfied with Shell's management of the project. Initially, Shell projected $10 billion total development cost, and out of the blue announced it would be $20 billion.

Russia is on the hook for a fair share of that. There was an earlier quarrel over a pipeline, that Shell kept on refusing to divert away from a natural reserve, whale migration route, until Putin stepped in and simply ordered them to do it.

Time to find a file: The History of Sakhalin2"

NOTE: Exxon is involved in Sakhalin 1, and doesn't have these difficulties.

totoneila, more  Zimbabwe news, not yet reported in the MSM.

Intelsat has shutdown the primary satellite link for Zimbabwe's state communications company for non-payment, which has affected most of the telecom there.

Zimbabwe falls off the internet.

And so begins. The grid begins the collapse.
Hello Don in Maine,

Thxs for informing all TODers.  I think we can expect Zim to get much worse, and we can now watch for similar decline in many Third World Countries.  Sad.  The Grim Reaper does not take prisoners.

On the energy front near you, is there much local MSM news on the admitted 'wild-bet' ultra-deepwater wildcat in the Orphan Basin?  Also, do you have any understanding of how well a deep-sea platform can withstand an iceberg & heavy seas?  My guess is that they will have to have tugboats pull icebergs away early so that they cannot hammer into a rig.  Isn't the fierce Labrador Current in this area too?

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

I watched a discovery channel episode on drilling in the N. Atlantic and the rig was surrounded byu a giant star shape thing that was solid steel and filled with water I think and this could deflect a LARGE iceberg, but this was years ago I watched it, so memory could be a bit off.  I rmemember thinking this is crazy!

Found a link, read it and weep


RC  known to you as ThatsItImout