DrumBeat: September 25, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 09/25/06 at 9:18 AM EDT]

Opec supply down in September

Oil supplies from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) fell 400,000 barrels a day on the month to 30.2 million bpd in September, according to preliminary figures from tanker tracker Petrologistics.

Saudi Arabia and Iran led the fall in output. Petrologistics head Conrad Gerber said the kingdom produced 9.05 million bpd in September compared with 9.27 million bpd in August.

Oil prices drop below $60 a barrel

Oil prices fell below $60 a barrel on Monday amid signs of growing petroleum inventories and after BP PLC said it had permission to restart the eastern half of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Nuclear power pushed for oil sands production: Reliance on natural gas as heating source is industry's Achilles heel.

Chavez drives a hard bargain, but Big Oil's options are limited

With Prices Falling, Gas May Lose Its Electoral Punch

Downtown projects taking steps to be more environmentally friendly

COLUMBUS, OH - A rooftop garden will insulate the former Lazarus department store Downtown and collect rainwater to flush the building’s toilets when it is reborn as government offices in January.

Such environmentally friendly building principles were little more than wishful thinking when the Columbus Green Building Forum organized its first seminar in 2004.

Oil peaks, valleys, plateaus and plains

Scotland: Green power station proposal to fire up Highlands economy

PLANS for a wood-burning power station capable of supplying electricity to 40,000 homes in Scotland have been unveiled.

Plant-fuelled cars could be Indonesia's future

Widespread Outage Spurs Coup Rumors In Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Panicky rumors of a coup swept through Pakistan on Sunday after a power outage interrupted national television broadcasts and later plunged much of the country into darkness.

Showcase pipeline fuels global gas flames

GM developing home hydrogen refueling device

General Motors is building a prototype for a home hydrogen refueling unit in hope of selling fuel-cell cars by 2011.

The unit, which would make hydrogen using either electricity or sunlight, would help sidestep one of the most vexing problems surrounding the creation of the pollution-free, alternative-power cars: how to persuade oil companies to invest in expensive new hydrogen stations that would compete with their core product, gasoline.

State red tape trips up green energy efforts

Despite overwhelming public and political support for renewable power, ratepayer contributions of $319 million, and a 2002 law mandating a dramatic increase in the use of sun and wind to create megawatts, California has boosted its use of renewable energy by less than 1 percent of the state's overall electricity use in the past four years.

Cooling Sun brings relief to sweltering Earth

The earth could be rescued from global warming by an unlikely saviour: not fewer cars, nor less pollution, nor even thousands of wind farms spread across Britain's hillsides - but, remarkably, by a cooler Sun. An international group of scientists believes a period of reduced solar activity could soon bring desperately needed cooling to our sweltering world.

What Can Young Professionals and Aging Baby Boomers do to Prepare for America's Collapse?

Any connection(payback) to the Pakistani Pres saying he was blackmailed into support?  Us saying we're bomb you to the stone age.  Well.   Hmm.  What timing

If you loose Electrical Power, and The Lights are Out,
If there is no Lights,  It is then the "Dark Ages"

Which by definition is the "Rebels blew them back into the Stone Age"

Rebels blow up gas pipeline in southwest Pakistan
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060924/wl_sthasia_afp/pakistanunrestsouthwest_060924090309;_ylt=As7QUa 474dRkrGrY8lMYVtyAsnsA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Lots of Special Ops guys running around over there who aren't exactly busy pursuing OBL and are perfectly capable of a mission like this. Taking down a grid, particular one as rickity as Pak's presumably is, isn't much of a challenge.

This is the kind of stuff that our admin--and America historically--has specialized in. Things that are so incredibly blatent that they couldn't possibly be intentional. Shooting down the Iranian civilian airliner about 15 yrs ago after a serious of terror incidents linked to Iran... well, subsequent investigation has shown some spooky intentionality to it. Soo-prize, soo-prize.

And the Venezuelan foreign sec'y was detained and strip searched at JFK yesterday -- but that's just coincidence after Chavez's comments, of course. It was only because he late for his flight... set off some kind of security alert. Coulda happened to any Foreign Sec'y.

Kind of a funny one:

Experts believe the future will be like Sci-Fi movies

It's really internet-centered, but it gives you an idea what other "value networks" out there are thinking.

That is funny!

 "By 2020, the people left behind (many by their own choice) by accelerating information and communications technologies will form a new cultural group of technology refuseniks who self-segregate from "modern" society. Some will live mostly "off the grid" simply to seek peace and a cure for information overload while others will commit acts of terror or violence in protest against technology."

Will disenfranchised LoTeks wreak havoc on society? Comparing future anti-technology vigilantes to modern day "eco-terrorists," Internet education expert and poll respondent Ed Lyell pointed out that "Every age has a small percentage that cling to an overrated past of low-technology, low-energy, lifestyle." Respondent Thomas Narten, a member of IBM's Internet Engineering Task Force, believes that "by becoming valuable infrastructure, the Internet itself will become a target," and FirstGov developer Martin Kwapinski feels that "random acts of senseless violence and destruction will continue and expand due to a feeling of 21st century anomie, and an increasing sense of of lack of individual control."

~  I thought it was going to turn out to be 'Expert' Gamers or something.  Was I wrong?

The 'Ecoterrorist' label just won't come off, even when most of the violence in our world is created by Political Manipulations, Resource Mismanagement and Denial of Education.  But 'The Feminazis' will make a way better Wes Craven film!

"It's 2006, do you know where your StarChild is?"

Low Tech for me, living la vida techie requires 60+ hour weeks, ask any techie and they'll tell you that, and the surmised techier future would involve even more hours to pay for the overhead. Overhead is what your average Amurrikan takes a 2nd job to pay for, the new SUV, the McMansion, new computer every year, extra training classes to keep the job that 0wns them like a slave.... wait, they are a slave!

So, just continue the present trend..... people even more overworked if they want to suck on the tech tit, maybe that drug that allows people (soldiers) to be somewhat effective without sleep will be perfected, hell, it may be required as a condition of taking a tech job..... sure you'll be a dissociated zombie who dies of whatever that sudden overwork-death the Japanese sararimen die of, but .... you'll be a techie!!

Nope I'd much rather be a H.G. and get to spend hours watching ants drag a dead moth up a tree trunk, like I did when I was a kid. We were meant to be barefoot and a bit smelly and have lots of free time.

I know a plant by sight, not by name that makes a smelly human seem fresh as a spring rain.  There are things out there that you can use to never be smelled by your prey as you walk or run them down.

The Hunter Gatherer has a bit more time spent doing the things that make his life easier, but you do get to spend it with your kids and family most of the time.

And the mortgage company will only be too happy to take a cut of the food profits to keep you in a fine lean to and let you have hammocks for a cut of the dried meat a week.

@ wikipedia:

Mad Max is an Australian apocalyptic science fiction film......


RE: Experts believe the future will be like Sci-Fi movies

IMO, this article merely demonstrates that television and movies shape people's views, even when such views respresent unrealistic expectations.

This brings up the question of whether popular entertainment may be used deliberately to mold public opinion.  

About a year ago, I was surprised to read an article in the NY Times about a new govt program that was looking to hire scientists in order to train them to write scripts for movies.  The govt spokesperson said the stated goal was to promote science in movies to stimulate more kids to go into careers in science.  That seemed like a ridiculous statement given the govt's ongoing efforts to undercut wages in science-based fields using H1B visas and also high-level govt officials' support of technology outsourcing.

The study cited by the article in odograph's link was perfomed by Pew, a neoliberal think tank that promotes globalization.  You have to wonder if "the examiner is leading the witness" so-to-speak when they come up with things like:

"52 percent of respondents agree that the "free flow of information will completely blur current national boundaries as they are replaced by city-states, corporation-based cultural groupings and/or other geographically diverse and reconfigured human organizations tied together by global networks." "

Just the fact that Stephen Hawkings believes AI is likely to overrun humans and we need to start a eugenics program ASAP to save mankind tells us that the lines between entertainment and reality have blurred too much.

This brings up the question of whether popular entertainment may be used deliberately to mold public opinion.

That is the funniest line in a long time.

Kabuki theater?
I should point out that I consider things like This Week With George, The McLaughlin Group, and most newspaper editorials to fall in the category of popular entertainment. ;-)

Forms of entertainment such as Survivor, Desperate Housewives, and the antics of Britney Spears are more of the mind-numbing variety.  

Radio, Radio
Elvis Costello

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

(CHORUS) Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me

Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
But everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed
You either shut up or get cut up, they don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel-to-reel
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools
Tryin' to anaesthetise the way that you feel


Wonderful radio
Marvelous radio
Wonderful radio
Radio, radio

Russia Snubs U.S., Redirects Gas Flow to Europe -- Media

A plan to give Europe access to a substantial amount of natural gas from the giant Shtokman field originally earmarked for the U.S. market is a direct consequence of U.S. policy toward Russia on WTO membership and sanctions on Russian defense exports, Russian newspapers reported on Monday, Sept. 25.

The apparent change of thinking on Shtokman, which is located in the Barents Sea is linked specifically to recently introduced U.S. sanctions on arms export agency Rosoboronexport and on aircraft maker Sukhoi, as well as U.S. refusal to support Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, Vedomosti business daily has written.

<--snip--> article goes on...


Re September production.

How can oilproduction for September be determined before the month is over??

Only on The Oil Drum. The future is always known at least 10 years before it happens.
Fat Prophets?
or Phat Profits.
More like Phut Profits
Another fall day, another decline in OPEC production.

Just part of the natural cycle of life it seems, especially since OPEC is considering production cuts to keep prices high - but strangely, OPEC production seems to have been steadily falling over the last 12 month time frame or so, regardless of price.

Obviously, supply, demand, and price are intricately related to production - except when you hit the top of the peak, and the only direction is for supply is down.

Will OPEC be 'cutting' production to keep prices high, or is this just another convenient diversion for what seems to be harder to deny - OPEC is no longer a swing producer in terms of opening the taps to flood the market.

I make no predictions about the price of oil, and obviously supply and demand have their own dynamic, but it looks like the race is on - declining oil production compared to a crashlanding American economy. (And no, I don't think declining gasoline prices are going to help the American economy crash more softly in any significant way.)

Should be interesting to see if this gives the Saudis enough time to get those ordered rigs up and running - a Saudi plateau is looking like a better bet these days, if anyone wants to bet. But their ramping up to 12 or 15 million barrels a day is looking ever more like a pipedream, in the light of their announcing production cuts to keep the price of oil 200% over OPEC's targeted price from ca. 18 months ago.

Though the idea that the Saudis might be still producing to fill storage is intriguing - didn't the Saudis already have a problem with too full storage and no buyers just a few short months ago?

I think a lot is going on which is not really visible on the surface at this point in terms of the Saudis perhaps having learned one thing from Texas oilmen - that bluffing is a valid way to take home all the chips if you play your cards right. Maybe the Saudis have a new plan - to become the world's swing tank farm. Certainly the Texans never thought of that one - they were too wedded to the idea that technology would save them. But the Saudis, who seem to believe they will become camel drivers again in the not too distant future, may just be attempting to wring every penny out of their oil through truly long term bargaining, knowing that the oil is running out while they do it, while not disturbing their strangely gullible buyers own inscrutable Western delusions.

Ok, oil is just below $60 this morning. Considering Plateauing production and the asian tigers still growing....what's going on here? can it really be the elections....that CT is getting a little far-fetched. We also wouldn't want suburban dumbasses to suddenyl figure they should buy that Hummer, afterall.
The Mess That Greenspan Made has news of a new Economist series on debt, world-wide.
Wow! That's one heck of a pyramid scheme that makes the leveraged stock market of the late 20s seem rather benign.
I know there was a recent long discussion about the SPR, but yesterday a friend sympathetic to the current administration, responding to my assertion that the SPR was uncharacteristically drained now in the runup to the election, made the claim that the SPR was drained after Katrina and just hasn't been refilled yet.  

Can anyone easily sum up when the SPR was brought to its current low point?  I'll go back through the thread later.  Thanks.

The interesting thing about all this is the way beliefs set expectations, and interpreations of current events.  When oil was $70 and heading higher it was easy to dismiss talk of speculative bubbles and ready capacity.  Now, I think, it's a little harder.  Was the Saudi guy who said he had no buyers lying?  We'll never know for sure, but it starts to be more believable as oil drops into the $50s.

It would be really interesting if the gov just decided not to refill the SPR at high prices, and waited for the bubble to blow over.

... of course, ideas like that are very much ourside our TOD value network.

I will bet that Saudi light sweet crude is not flooding the market - but sour crude certainly could be.

In this case, the Saudis may just be carefully focussing on their 'over' supply of sour crude, while keeping their mouths shut about not being able to pump enough sweet light crude.

Keep in mind the first apparent Saudi purchase of fuel oil - that doesn't sound like a country swimming in easily refined crude which can't find buyers.

This is complicated, and I would never pretend understanding, but isn't sour crude just fine as fuel oil?
Depends what you burn it in is probably the simplest answer - though this is a fine place to get even more detailed information.
sour means high sufphur content
Do Saudis have stringent SO2 stack emission limits?
There's little doubt that Saudi light sweet is declining, or that the world light sweet peak has passed. In that same vein, I keep wondering -but wouldn't know of a way to verify- what the SPR and other reserves around the world are being filled and replenished with (China has plans for huge tanks).

If more and more of the SPR is filled with heavy crude, who would ever know? It's useless in an emergency, because there is no refining capacity for large quantities, but as long as you keep it in the tanks, who will be the wiser.

The advantage is of course that it's much cheaper, and that you get to state that there's no problems with reserves: look at the numbers. If those Saudi idly floating tankers, for which there were no buyers, want to unload it, you'd get a real bargain. It's not fit for direct use, see refining, and that would keep buyers away. But it's ideal for strategic reserves, just not the strategy you thought was meant.

Spoken like a true Incorrigible Republican.
Never quwstion the motives of Dear Leader.
We are Guided by an Invisible and Beneficent Hand.
Online political compass tests placed me at dead center in the the current political spectrum.  Later, I embraced that moderation.

On something like this, I can look at both sides without being very certain at all about what is going on.  Many short term oil trends are possible.

For moderate unflappable manner you are down the niddle without peer.

Is there ever a time when you are suspicious of someone's motives? Do you ever seek an explanation that does not put the best light on everyone>

Sure, I'm suspicious both ways.  I'm a "lapsed Repbulican" in the Kevin Phillips sense, for all the reasons he cites, and suspicious of those who put the market at the center of all evil, as you see here.

The moderate reality is that we already have a state-market hybird of regulated commerce.  Nut jobs on the left and right form their poitical views based on a fantasy far from that reality.

Commerce is always regulated.  Sometimes the regulators are the Hell's Angels or their ilk; usually government of whatever form is the regulator.

The point that appears to elude you is that markets existed long before capitalism and will exist long after capitalism, which is a system for which growth is the sina qua non and which is peculiar to the age of fossil fuels.  

Markets are a social mechanism.  It is a mechanism which may be as old, or nearly as old, as self-reflective consciousness; there is no way to know.  

Capturing the state and reforming markets to serve the greed of tiny minorities, no matter the consequences, is the raison d'etre of the modern Republican party and their fellow travellers around the globe.  Is this evil?  It is certainly nothing less than terrible, for those who value human potential and natural beauty.

Your presumption of a 'moderate reality' is no more than an attempt to disguise an uncritical defense of the status quo.

Ah, you can't say it eludes me that "markets existed long before capitalism and will exist long after capitalism" when I've used that very line here myself.

The rest is bullshit, sorry.

You know, I get called a liberal by numb-nuts wingers, and I get labeled as a winger myself by numb-nuts liberals.

The thing all the numb-nuts have in common is that they can't even SEE the center.

Maybe you can come up with coherent definition of the centre to help those of us whose nuts are too numb to allow us to grasp the vague representation you make.

"All the rest is bullshit" is pretty feeble reasoning, so hopefully you can rise above this level in providing the lines surrounding and shaping your hallowed perch.

Take a couple of weeks, or years, as needed.

Capturing the state and reforming markets to serve the greed of tiny minorities, no matter the consequences, is the raison d'etre of the modern Republican party and their fellow travellers around the globe.

That is bullshit.

Half this country is Republican, and while many of them do not have their dots connected on cause and effect, they are not out there for that.

But then, to think about that you'd have to give up your bullshit bogeymen.

and while many of them do not have their dots connected on cause and effect

Yeah! Nascar dads and Soccer moms dont "connect" that much, they just binge on whatever is in the trough.

they are not out there for that.

To connect?
But YOU do connect, don't you?
How much "lapsed" are you for a Republican?

I never voted for this President, which is more than most (by a slim margin) can say.
And stop moving goalposts.
Your presumption of a 'moderate reality' is no more than an attempt to disguise an uncritical defense of the status quo.

Yes! THIS is the question ask about odograph.

WHY is he so gung ho about defending the status quo?
Expending treasures of time, number of postings, showing shameless mendacity, going against all logic, weaseling again and again, even contradicting himself.

WHY, WHY all these devious efforts by a nevertheless brilliant mind?

Man you ride odograph.  Not that I'm defending him, but it's funny b/c when he just ignores answering a real question, you are always there to point out the obvious.
What real question did I miss in the bullshit?
The common thread here is to avoid what I say, and attack something else.
i><aip shit.  I do not defend the status quo, never have.
The common thread here is to avoid what I say

Certainly not, you said :   "I don't think it is moral to deny anyone growth."
The common thread is to follow ALL what you say to debunk the bullshit and root out the mendacity.

As I point out in the other thread, you ignore everything I said against mere money, or GDP, as the proper measure of growth.

Try happiness:


I think it just comes down to temperament. odo is an interesting character.
The obvious questions he poses out loud always more interesting than the answers.
Well you guys finally found out how to get under my skin.  Ignore what I post on my own site early this morning:


Ignore it whent I say "lapsed" Republican, and point to a book ripe with examples of Republican dysfucntion and evil:


And follow that by painting we with the very things I've opposed:


Yes, that will do it.  If you want more opposistion to the same fucking things toilforoil says I endorse, dredge my blog.


It looks like the SPR was tapped last Fall/Winter because of Katrina, partially refilled during the Spring, but then the refilling was suspended this summer.  If I remember correctly, refilling the SPR was temporarily suspended because of the Alaskan oil pipeline shutdown.  The SPR is expecting refilling to restart in October.

Which dooesn't report numbers for how long?  I looked at the SPR and realized the numbers are nearly a year old.  For a reason?  Dunno...but they will start refilling in Oct, huh?  Wonder when those numbers make it to paper.  To be real honest, they could lie their asses off and whose gonna call their bluff?
Of course, replenishing the SPR could be another piece of a waiting October Surprise, to undercut the Peak Oilers, a mild SOP to the IOC's, and of course, the 'We are the ones who can assure Business as Usual, Vote for Us!'
The People's Daily Online seems to be confident of what is going on. :)

With midterm elections approaching, the Bush administration will be wary of making any unpopular decisions. High oil prices would undoubtedly cause the public to complain, an unfavourable situation at election time.
For these reasons, the US government has intentionally curbed the price of oil since May. At the outset, the US stopped increasing its strategic oil inventory. After the price of oil climbed in July, the US released 7.5 million barrels from their inventory within a week. After the price growth mid-July, the US government claimed that, if necessary, it would eventually release its strategic oil inventory to decrease the price of oil. ..
(18 Sept 2006)

I've heard of teh spr releasing 7.5mmb before, but see no evidence for this claim. according to gov spr site, there has been no release since last fall, tho they did stop refilling it from last fall loans, so overall us stocks are onlu up slightly since last year.
If you follow the link, it appears that the numbers were updated 3 days ago.  Is there something I'm missing?
I havent looked at it in months, so I am off a bit.  I do notice it says at the top it was updated on Fri.  Also my mistake, I'm used to finance numbers and we use Zero's when we mean zero.  It shows we actually took the time to know it's zero.  I briefly looked at nothing in drawdown barrels and figured they haven't put those numbers in, but I guess I'm supposed to assume it's zero?  It's dangerous to assume.
If we are awash in too much oil, why don't the oil refiners and oil companies that borrowed the oil,(and thus must pay it back), pay it back NOW to reduce this surplus on the world market. These low prices are destroying their profits and their stock price. The oil companies have control over this and yet do nothing. Thirteen million barrels put back into the SPR would help stop this freefall in oil prices. Next month China could start filling their SPR, and by then winter will be here...
They stopped filling the SPR last spring long before the BP pipeline problem.  They stopped filling the SPR when the new gas blends hit the market and prices started climbing (econo-PoliTics 101 ???).

Whatever get's you through the night, it's alright, alright - forget your future and your plight, it's alright, alright.


Went back and checked the dates...  The Department of Energy was ready to let more oil out of the reserve after the BP pipeline problem (in August), but it obviously hasn't been needed.

They should think about using this current "Abundance" to refill the ol' SPR.   Before the 12th Imam shows up or something unexpectedededly like that.  
I saw him playing pool with Elvis on Saturday night...
Oh great.  So Jesus, the 12th Imam, AND Elvis are all returning for one last Gig.  TimesUp fer sure.
...but yesterday a friend sympathetic to the current administration...

LO, you should keep better company.

The SPR contains just over 687 million barrels, just about exactly what it contained before Katrina. The SPR has been a minor player in US oil supply. Hardly anything at all has been put in or taken out since last year. Withdrawls from last year, such as they were, were replaced in November and this spring.

Here is the link.

I've been hunting about for the graph of energy flows in the US of A.   Could someone re-post a link to it?
Is this it?
Ding!   Thank you!
Here's one I haven't seen before:

"There are new reports out circulating that Chinese firms are planning to slant drill off the Cuban coast near the Florida Straits, tapping into U.S. oil reserves that are estimated at 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels."


I wonder how soon we'll start doing something about these little "problems" closer to home.  We may have to bring democracy to Cuba!  Maybe we'll just make a deal with China - they can have Taiwan and we'll take Cuba...

RE: Nuclear power pushed for oil sands production:
Reliance on natural gas as heating source is industry's Achilles heel.

Nuclear will be a hard sell in Canada, and they all know it. Total talked about it last year, but everybody else stayed silent. Now the public is slowly coaxed into the "inevitability." Not that's it's unclear to anyone that it's not just the natural gas, the oilsands has a lot more Achilles heels than it has legs to stand on.

On Saturday, there was the Nuclear promoted for oilsands story. The federal and provincial governments want to keep upgrading and refining in Alberta, and that means facilities need to be built, and 'energized'.

But why all the fuss, when natural gas prices are so low they sank Amaranth? Well, maybe Amaranth got the timing wrong.

Take a look at the futures:

Futures Market Prices
NYMEX Natural Gas
September 22nd Settlement Prices


  • Oct 4.627 -.154
  • Nov 5.881 -.130
  • Dec 7.401 +.010

  • Jan 7.891 +.010
  • Feb 7.936 +.015
  • Mar 7.756 +.010
  • Apr 7.116 -.050
  • May 7.076 -.050
  • Jun 7.171 -.050
  • Jul 7.266 -.045
  • Aug 7.336 -.055
  • Sep 7.411 -.065

Time to sell?
A major shareholder of Western Oil Sands Inc. [TSX:WTO] has sent a letter to the company urging it to consider a sale, the Globe and Mail reported Friday.

The letter, mailed by Toronto-based Salida Capital Corp., is dated Sept. 20 and addresses concerns about the rising costs of Western's Athabasca Oil Sands expansion and its decision to invest US$45 million in oil and natural gas in Iraq.

And what will they do with the oil?  Produce electricity?  Seriously, though, does it really make sense to use electricity to produce oil?  Perhaps if we are so desperate that we are pursuing such a destructive source as oil (tar?) sands, we should consider transitioning away from liquid fuels to run our transportation system.  Further, we are using a relatively low carbon source (natural gas) to produce a higher carbon source (oil).  
The nuclear option for the oil sands project would use the heat from a nuclear reaction to produce steam for releasing the Bitumen from the sands and heat for converting that to oil.  I doubt that electricity production is part of the nuclear plan, though the article did not say that.  One hundred percent of the heat for cooling the reactor core could be used for tar sands industrial processes.
Some interesting links I just ran across:


Phil Knox's streamlined 1994 Toyota Tacoma pickup saw its fuel economy go from 25 mpg to 32 mpg at 70 mph just by improving its aerodynamics, reducing its Cd from 0.44 to 0.25, the same as the Honda Insight gasoline-electric hybrid.


Passenger Car Aerodynamics
Getting the most out of the car you have.


This one's cross referenced with the others but the guy got sent to Iraq.

UPDATE: Progress on my truck is at a standstill
for now. As of April 2006, I received orders to
Iraq and will be there for at least until April or
May of 2007. When I get back, I'll get started
again with the goal of 40 mpg. Before I left, my
average mileage was 28 to 32 mpg in mixed
city and highway driving.

Substrate good post! Odo will probably agree with me, we both drive Priuses, and there's a huge aero factor. If I roll my windows down, just the front ones, driving 30-40 MPH normal street driving, I give up at least 10MPG. I don't dare hang an elbow on the window edge lol!! Aero is supposed to make a difference up at freeway speeds, but any bicyclist can tell you it makes a diffference at anything over 10MPH.

So, by enhancing the aero properties of any vehicle, you can gain some mileage. Also, think smoooooooth. Like, you're driving a stick and your brakes aren't too good.

You know, I haven't done any MPG comparisons with the windows.  I almost always keep them up, with the AC on the lowest setting ... but sometimes in low speed driving (that 30-40) I'll lower them (all) thinking it's slow enough not to make a difference.  Drat.
Is it really impossible to design a car that be ventilated by the outside air without losing fuel efficiency?
I ran across a couple of articles on designing proper ventilation for streamlined (pedal) racers (can't remember where though, sorry).  It's apparently possible to get ventilation with a nearly trivial reduction in efficiency...the key seemed to be not causing any serious disruption to the laminar flow (i.e. taking air from the stagnation point or using NACA submerged ducts), then slowing the air as it comes in by spreading it out (a la bernoulli) and keeping the air slow through the cabin (this had me confused for a couple of seconds until I realized that a fast breeze inside or outside the cabin represents the same drag), then to finally accelerate the air out the back to rejoin the other air by using a smaller rear hole (a la bernoulli).

Unfortunately for cars, they're giant greenhouses so you need some serious flow, and any ducting in the front will probably run by a giant heat source (i.e. the engine) and the ventilation value will be quite diminished.  But like most things, it could probably be a lot better than it is.

Thanks, Substrate. Your technical chops impress, no shit.


Sweden will be the first oil-free country in the world by 2020
The Swedish government has announced that Sweden is planning to become the world's first oil-free country by 2020. Will they make it?

They may be oil free in 2020, but if they are, it won't be for the reasons they think, and they won't be the first: many poorer countries will have gone before them.

So the answer is NO.

This is for all the fans of Alan: Back in the early 50's when I was in school, I would leave school on Friday afternoon, run over to the L-station after 4PM and catch the L to Chicago Union Station, buy a round trip ticket to Columbus Nebr. on the UP City of Denver. Board the Train for scheduled departure at 5 PM, It was Non stop to Omaha on the Milwaukee Road track, after that It only made passenger pick-ups and drop-offs along the line for passengers at 4 optional stops, next scheduled stop North Platte. I arrived in Columbus at 11:30, 6 and half-hours later, spend the weekend at home, reboard the train eastbound at 11:30 PM on Sunday evening, and be back at school before 7:30 AM on Monday morning. Today, traveling between these destinations, in 7.5 hours at any time of the day, is nearly an impossibility. 1 hour to O'Hare, 2 hours at the airport + a delay, 1hour flight time, wait in line for a car rental and baggage claim, and a 2 hour road trip. Oh what fun it is to ride in today's transportation nightmare.
This highlights the inefficiency of today's transportation grid.  Though this is heresy coming from a pilot, air travel just makes no sense unless the places are off the grid, separated by impassable or sensitive terrain, or are more than 750 miles away from each other.  For those who think that we can't reduce our domestic consumption, just take a look at the horrendous wastes involved in our transportation network.  I believe that if a collapses occurs, than it will be because we we're too damned stubborn implement a sensible restructuring plan.  If nothing else, too damned lazy.
we're too damned stubborn ... too damned lazy

These simple, wash-board characterizations are often used to describe learning disabled children.

It's never that simple.
A vast majority of the populace suffers from attention deficit and an inability to grasp hold of new abstract concepts. We are dealing with a much more intractable problem than simple stubborness or laziness.

Maybe they will start to pay attention when airlines start falling out of the sky, when they can longer afford a shuttle "hop" from New York to Washington DC?

Step Back, you're just too damned sensible!

No, it's a good point you make.  I understand why we call ourselves 'Stubborn or Lazy' or any other number of sort-of core insults, when I know that behavior is much less attributable to Calvinism than that.  Instead of Lazy, I would say that we're stuck in some habitual mindsets, and need to find better tools to help us think more clearly (against the fear we have of change, for example), and to act on our thinking.. which is ultimately another piece of 'stuck' thinking.

Bob Fiske

ADD, huh?  I am at the fringe beginning of the generation of kids put on medication.  ADD for most is simply kids being a flippin KID!  

A believer that ADHD is a biological condition, Xavier Castellanos M.D., then head of ADHD research at the National Institute of Mental Health, (NIMH), [55] has also expressed reservations about the extent of available biological information about that condition in an interview on Frontline in 2000:

Frontline: "How does ADHD work on the brain? What do we know about it?"
Castellanos: "We don't yet know what's going on in ADHD..."
Frontline: "Give me one true fact about ADHD."
Castellanos "The posterior inferior vermis of the cerebellum is smaller in ADHD. I think that that is a true fact. It's taken about five years to convince myself that that's the case. That's about as much as I know--that I'm confident about..."

I'm not saying it WONT be there, but c'mon. The family broke down in the late 70's/early 80's and parent's (I hate brushing such broad stokes) as a whole weren't educated on how to deal with kids, so they doped em up.  My fiance's son was on the newest fan dangled ADD medication and what did it do once he wanted to stop?  It created a horrible lisp in his speaking for about a week as the medication left his system.  He no longer takes any medication and voila, he's still making A's-B's.  His mom didnt know what to do with him as an unruly child, so like MANY parents they stuck em on medication and "they got better."

My sister was diagnosed as well and now that we are 10 years after, it turns out she has mild bipolar disorder.  ADD is far too broad to be anything on it's own.  Kids are kids.

Parental role
Many clinicians believe that attachments and relationships with caregivers and other features of a child's environment have profound effects on attentional and self-regulatory capacities. An editorial in a special editon of Clinical Psychology in 2004 stated that "our impression from spending time with young people, their families and indeed colleagues from other disciplines is that a medical diagnosis and medication is not enough":

"In our clinical experience, without exception, we are finding that the same conduct typically labelled ADHD is shown by children in the context of violence and abuse, impaired parental attachments and other experiences of emotional trauma."[56]
While no compelling evidence has been offered that parenting methods can cause ADHD in otherwise normal children a sizable minority of clinicians believe this is the case. A different perspective holds that while evidence shows that parents of ADHD children experience more stress and give more commands,[57] further research has suggested that such parenting behavior is in large part a reaction to the child's ADHD and related disruptive and oppositional behavior, and to a minor extent the result of the parent's own ADHD.[58}

I think many here will agree, we lack most forms of a cohesive family unit.  So instead we are all now VERY individualistic.

BTW....All quotes from wiki.

Jay Hanson said this:

It's like ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder], there's a psychologist saying 'There's a kid over there who can't sit still, he's got ADD' Well, [we might ask] 'What's ADD?' [The psychologist answers] 'It's a kid who can't sit still'.

I like that one.
Like some bold seer in a trance, Seeing all his own mischance

An interview worth reading.

Our Founding Fathers created a plutocracy, with all the trappings of democracy. And it was smart, it was a stroke of utter brilliance, and given the circumstances, the best possible political system. People who argue that democracy is a good political system simply haven't tried it.
I have run across three possible explanations - possibly overlapping - for the apparently higher ADHD incidence.

  1. Too little omega-3 fatty acids in the diet and too much ogega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and in the fat of grass-fed animials. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most vegetable oils, and in the fat of grain-fed animals. The brain functions sub-optimally with the wrong mix of fatty acids. (Obviously, meat also contains a lot of saturated fat in addition, regardless of how it is fed.)

  2. Low-level mercury poisoning. Many members of the Autism Society of America believe that the sharp rise in autism in recent years is due to to mercury poisoning from vaccinations and other sources. ADHD may be a lesser version of this.  

  3. Reactions to other types of heavy metals in the diet. Processed foods have large numbers of artificial colors and flavors. These additives were not tested on humans in the quanties that today's children are eating them. (Think green ketchup and bright colored frosting). See the Feingold program

I have one autistic son and another son who has had difficulty with depression and concentration. They both do better when they take high-quality fish oil pills as supplements.
Then there's this theory, which holds that the problem is not too many metals, but too few.  Because of modern farming practices, food has much lower levels of minerals than it used to.  

(FWIW, since that article was written, the Canadian court system has ruled that this is a legitimate therapy.)

Minerals do not equal metals. Not all metals are the same. There is no level at which lead, mercury, cadmium are beneficial.  
I didn't say otherwise.

The supplement in question has a ton of iron, vitamins, etc.  No lead or mercury.  It may have some selenium, which is necessary in small amounts but fatal in large amounts.  (The poison is in the dose, as Paracelsus said.)

Anyway, no one argued that the product was harmful; the Canadian medical system just didn't think it was helpful.  Clinical trials have apparently proved them wrong, at least to the satisfaction of the court system.  

Gail, great insight!  I for one have begun to question the shear quantity of processed crap we put into ourselves.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still eating my Oreos (they were on a really good sale), but I feel a sense of guilt at what the cumulative affect might actually be on my body.  Im young and still realtively fit, so I don't let it nag me.  I've been buying organic as much as possible, but only when prices are competitive.  It doesn't make sense to use less inputs and the price stays the same.  And yes I do realize it's still trucked by fossil fuels.
Higher labour input.
True, but what's the net difference?
Organic Oreos???
Garbage In, Garbage Out. You are what you eat,
Oreas will never be organic, but they're still good.
I'm going to start eating insects. Just imagine the post-crash panacea!

Eat at Tom's Bug Shack!

No, seriously. Check out this website. Our culture's avoidance of insects as food is uncommon in the history of humanity.


Tom Anderson-Brown

tanderson our culture's avoidence of insects as food is indeed unusual. I've had some damn tasty little brown flour beetles once, didn't know what the wonderful nutty taste was coming from until I looked and saw the little tasties crawling around, hehe. I think the humble mealworm is probably the best starting place, and they're easy to get and to raise. In fact if I were trying for "nearly zero food budget" I'd raise those and do a certain amount of hunting/harvesting low on the food chain, bugs and snails and small fish.

Any sushi place worth the name will have various types of shrimg cooked heads tails legs eyes and all, they're GOOD! The best dish is the one where you eat the tail of the shrimp raw and they cook the rest of it deep fried, yum! Those shrimp are generally kept alive in the better places. There's a more routine shrimp that's just cooked whole, a lot of people don't like them because they can be prickly in the mouth, but the key is, eat the head eyes first, that way you get to bite down on and "disarm" that sword shrimp have between their eyes, then eat the tail end first because there's another spine at the center of the flippers. Since shrimp are just big aquatic bugs, and people eat oysters for goodness' sake, it's amazing bugs aren't more popular.

WOW! - Gail, you're right on target!  It sounds like we have been through similar experiences, but sadly it sounds like your son is more severe.  But you clearly understand the problems, and I sincerely hope you see improvements.  The Omega-3's have been our final peice of the puzzle, and what a difference.

Thanks for the suggestion. It can't hurt to try.

There are many things that can help, and there are resources.  It is something we have had to learn about, which is always difficult when it is outside of your field.  I can post more info if anyone is interested, but it is rather OT.
In 'Omnivores Dilemma' Michael Pollan goes into this Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio. Apparently the wild Salmon, for example, have a better balance than do the farm-raised ones. Lots of examples of recent research that confirms suspicions that organically grown stuff is better for you. Sometimes science plays catch-up with 'common sense.'
It's a bit deeper than that.  Pollan spends a lot of time discussing the difference between "industrial organic" and the localized, completely self-contained organic farm of Joel Saletan.  Certainly, the long distance transport is a huge difference between these two.  Caught in the middle are vendors like Whole Foods, who exist in part because their customers demand out of season organic produce which can only be obtained from far away places. Pollan seems to be advocating a redefinition of sort of organic, since big Ag has started trying to coopt it.
My beloved fuji apples are grown in Washington.  I dont know if they'll grow here.  Will bannanas?

Your point is well taken. I have a number of kids. One of them is definitively different than the others. Can't sit still. Can't learn. Is it it ADHD? The jury is still out. Ritillin and other medications have some bad side effects. So we are not quick to drop any old medicine down this one's throat until we get a definitve diagnosis & a second opinion. Still, it tries one's patience.

As for the mass public, I think it's the expectation of instant gratification that makes 'em ADD. They can't sit still and learn something complicated like Peak Oil. They need sound bites. They need Cranial Candy.

While no compelling evidence has been offered that parenting methods can cause ADHD in otherwise normal children a sizable minority of clinicians believe this is the case.

TYPICAL of the friggin "clinicians," ain't it?

Everyone: you must read "The Nurture Assumption" in order flush all that crappy psychoanalysis out of your world view.

Now I'm going to shut up again. I hate posting here among the Big Wigs.

IMO far better to just kick the kids out the door and say" Go play annd be a kid." instead of constantly hovering over them with this sufficating 'quality time'.

I was abadoned by both my parents due to war and stupidity. I grew up with an extended family and was left to play with my cousins.

It made me IMO a better individual than what I see children now being raised to. I learned independence and to rely on my own abilities.

Todays childe wants it all given to him and he gets it, be it drugs, cars, extreme whatever. Result= spoiled rotten whining children with no ability to actually do ought but play endless 'twitch' games, suck their thumbs and whine constantly for appeasement.

I have two of them.

As a child who grew up with a learning disability, I can understand the harm in over generalizations, and people who have this disability, like I did, should be given help and assistance they need.  Perhaps I was a bit too general, however, that also brings me to another point.  If you know that you have a disadvantage, you'd better work damned hard to overcome it.  I'm not overly nostalgic to by gone eras, most of what people remember is just fantasy, but I am old fashioned in a sense.  Can something be done, physically, technically?  If so, was it done?  No?  Than you failed.  It does not matter what the excuse was.  People need to change habits in this country, and the longer we wait, then the worse off we will be.
 So, with that in mind, and as much as it pains me to bring up the "good old days", I would like to quote Alan:

"I will point out that a developing nation, with 91 million people (mostly rural) and only 3% of the US's 2005 GNP, backward technology, managed to build subways in it's major cities and electric urban rail in most towns of 25,000 or more.  Over 500 cities and towns in just 19 years!
That nation?
The United States of America from 1897 to 1916."

I think I'm just in a cranky mood today, but my overall point is that I don't like hearing that something can be done, not due to some technical impasse, but due to lack of public or political will.  So for now I will do what I can, take the train when able, keep my heat low, buy those solar panels (eventually) and hope (vote) for politicians who are leaders not just leaches.


Looks like I touched on a sensitive nerve that hits many more places than just in my house. We've been to lot's of therapies. Everyone has a different theory. Try this. Try that. So far, no positive results. Just a lot of dollars down the drain by desperate parents and just a child that feels more and more defeated by failure to make progress.

You're right. It's much more than just having the "political will". There is much about the human brain that we simply do not know. It's complicated.

Ivan Illich calculated that the average car moves at less than 5 mph. His "Energy and Equity" is a brilliant must-read from the 1970's. It links the use of energy directly to the destruction of social ties.

Even if nonpolluting power were feasible and abundant, the use of energy on a massive scale acts on society like a drug that is physically harmless but psychically enslaving.

A community can choose between Methadone and ``cold turkey'' -- between maintaining its addiction to alien energy and kicking it in painful cramps -- but no society can have a population that is hooked on progressively larger numbers of energy slaves and whose members are also autonomously active.

In traffic, energy used over a specific period of time (power) translates into speed. In this case, the critical quantum will appear as a speed limit. Wherever this limit has been passed, the basic pattern of social degradation by high energy quanta has emerged. Once some public utility went faster than 15 mph, equity declined and the scarcity of both time and space increased.

Motorized transportation monopolized traffic and blocked self-powered transit. In every Western country, passenger mileage on all types of conveyance increased by a factor of a hundred within fifty years of building the first railroad. When the ratio of their respective power outputs passed beyond a certain value, mechanical transformers of mineral fuels excluded people from the use of their metabolic energy and forced them to become captive consumers of conveyance.

This effect of speed on the autonomy of people is only marginally affected by the technological characteristics of the motorized vehicles employed or by the persons or entities who hold the legal titles to airlines, buses, railroads, or cars. High speed is the critical factor which makes transportation socially destructive. A true choice among practical policies and of desirable social relations is possible only where speed is restrained.

Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.

The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets.

He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy.

The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 7500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 percent of their society's time budget to traffic instead of 28 percent.

What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.

  I recall that when we started moving faster than around 15mph in autos, people were concerned that there might be something physiologically harmful in that application of speed  to the Human Body.  Whooda Thunk, and yet, we all know it's true.. it just is coming at us from a different direction.

"They say there's a demon that lives in the sky."
  ("Gotta Stick of Beeman's?")

Actually this was the history of railway transport. There are a lot of reports from the start of the 19th century, where people were warned to go aboard a train. The human body was expected to "dissolve" when reaching speeds > 20 mph.

And there is a letter of the famous pianist Ignaz Moscheles to his wife from a concert tour in England, where he writes about a railway trip (~1840 maybe).
He describes an incredible experience of speed, and how the train would run much "faster than galopping horses" (actually these trains could hardly run faster than a galopping horse; "The Rocket" got some 30 mph)

"Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race..."

Synchronicity II

It is suicidal when you factor in the long term implications of driving and stress.  I know I've got Intermittent Explosive Disorder when I drive.  It can't be good for anyone, except maybe the mortician.
The sugar buzz off the Oreos makes it worse. Seriously. Be good to yourself.
Indeed. And anyone eating that crap has absolutely no right to complain about wasting valuable crop land on fuel.

Oreos are evil.

It's not just the oreos.  All Pastries are evil.

We are at Peak Pastries right now I think... I wonder if we can measure that somehow?

We are at Peak Pastries right now I think... I wonder if we can measure that somehow?

I wish we could. I would love to be able to know how much energy per person goes into all this crap. Maybe it is as important and as useful to reduce the energy component of our food as our transportation.

Everyone here seems to hate the car. I find the pastry a far more compelling enemy than personal tranport. And I have never owned a car!

I've owned several chocolate éclairs, but not for long.
I am addicted to cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde.  Often my last stop after an evening in the French Quarter,  Take the streetcar home from there :-))  Fond memories.

Beignets are NOT evil, just sweet and fattening !

I don't think an occiasional box of cookies is evil (though I go with Trader Joe's more healthy Oreo-clones when I lean that way).

If you want evil, got to "Apple country" outside LA, and watch the heavy people lumber out of their SUVs to eat pies.

The same food would be fine, if they rode a bike up there, or hiked the last 5 miles.  It's the lifestyle plus the calories that kill us.

What's that word....oh moderation...
I don't think an occiasional box of cookies is evil

Of course not. I was just having a bit of fun with the commenters who rage at car culture and its wastefullness while muching on oreos and big macs.

Actually, I don't claim the right to judge anyone else and don't like the habit of calling certain things one doesn't like "evil".

I do think it is interesting to see the range of areas in which our society is wasteful and contemplate how these could adjust in an era of scarce resources. I see possibilities across the entire spectrum of how we live our lives. This is why I don't see oil running out and us just ofollowing the exact same patterns we do now to out inevitable doom.

The scope for adaptation is huge. I think mankind will use a little less oil, substitute for some, and do less things than waste energy - such as oreos and processed foods.


More reason to examine our addiction to motorized individual transport units (mitu).  The folly of farmed fuels, electric vehicles, and the like becomes even more apparent when we realize that our average speed will slow well below 5 miles per hour with these 'solutions'. This even before we calculate the naturally imposed cost of continuously reproducing (repair, reconstruction) the highway, bridge and parking infrastructure. An effort that itself will depend on a system of material and machine production whose cost is rising, as the supply of low entropy continues to diminish and as our economic process becomes increasingly dependent on higher entropy inputs.  Mitu's (mee-too) are a perpetual motion disaster.

Peak oil is an opportunity to slow the rise in the entropy of the human environment.  Sadly, fools see only the path of wasted opportunity, blinded as they are by the illusion of speed the mitu generates.

The model American male devotes more than 1600 hours a year to his car

And don't forget to add: Cars are standing around parked for 90 per cent of their life time, covering considerable space in built environment.

Until people get out of the "business as usual" mode, they will continue to utilize transportation modes that now make no sense, as you pointed out, like flying short distances for "convenience." Doesn't seem to be changing quickly, or very much at all.
The ironic thing is that is not convenient.  Unless you own your own aircraft, flying a distance less than 500 miles makes nearly no sense, especially given potential alternatives.
If the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative comes to pass, you may be able to make that journey again before too long.
This article is about North Korea during the famine years.

In N. Korea, electricity is allowed only for light and watching TV. It can not be used for other purposes. Electricity monitors watch day and night. If a household caught in the monitor, it is not allowed to use electricity and punished by Giupso (state owned enterprise) or People's unit.

A couple of workers working for the refinery put their baby and a 100 watt bulb in a box and warmed the baby with the bulb plugged into electricity. It was caught in a crackdown.

Is that for real?  You can use electricity to watch TV, but not to keep your baby from freezing?

Didn't you ever read 1984? You don't have a choice, you have to watch TV.
And put the baby on, or in, the TV. What's so hard about that?
TV is where you get your doses of propaganda.
That's why I watch CNN!
Yeah baby on the TV (not in, high voltage in there!) or held on Mom's/Dad's lap in blanket, woops N. Koreans probably being trained to hate any kind of kindness or kinship with others, like 'Murrikans. And again, We is tha best! we don't need laws to require TV watching, we propagandize everyone to want a bigger TV! More TVs! A TV in every room! More TVs than people in the house!
The Green Roof Projects should have been going on in every  city years ago. Back in 1981 while I was working with my dad inside big water chillers for air conditioning systems in the building of the main offices for the department store chain  where he was Maintaince Engineer.  I pondered long and hard the fact that there was  a vast wasteland of unused roof top that could be harnessed for green houses and green spaces.  A few roof top gardens for meetings and parties and lunch area are dotting every major city but nothing like they could use.  And why aren't there more solar panals on the sides of buildings, I wondered even back then.  

I wrote the series Future Tech around those ideas,  Its a yet to be blogged or hard published story of mine.  But the Science of most of the first ideas of it were there back in 1981  when I started writing it.

Why has nothing been done until recently and still only in such a small scale????

I'd mention sea gulls and chipmunks as the problem, but we all know its something far more dire.  Man seems to take to long to find the solutions to his problems.  Now we are running out of cliff edge and still moving forward.

Yesterday in my Hike I looked out over Huntsville Alabama, from gap in the trees under the Power Transmission Lines coming over Green Mountain.  I started walking to the edge, my brother telling me not to get to cloe, me going right up to the edge and resting there.  There was several ledges below me, But the VIEW was AWESOME, well worth the hard work to get there.

We are up against a ledge like that, but most of us can't see the ground below us just yet, others are looking over the edge thankful there is another below us, still others are yelling from behind, Don't to close!  All the while that last ledge just a step below me was the end of safety,  a fall of hunderds of feet down and lots of trees to spear me off the ground.  Here we are getting closer to the edge not even looking down.

We are up against a ledge like that, ...

Stay the course brother. Be brave. Only the cowardly cut and run at a time like this. ;-)

I wonder if 'Just in the nick of time' and 'Eleventh Hour' are reflections of some part of our genetic code..  We do seem to push things right to the edge, and take a certain delight in certain danger.  I see myself do it, my daughter (3) hears me saying 'careful!' and just grins..

And even if all the Great Societies HAVE done up and collapsed ultimately, for probably pretty boneheaded oversights (or overshoots).. well, that's not the end, is it?  We're still here, and we've got their tools, some of their tales, and then some.

My Natural History class in High School ran with the motto, 'The only thing constant is change'.. and change is at the edge of the cliff, where one plane intersects another.. not out on the flats somewhere..

'I got through Platinum Hair, and I'm here!'

Existing home sales fall for fifth straight month

Average home prices fall - first drop since 1995
US housing is a prime example of a sector with a lot of inertia, where at first major changes will trickle down slowly.

This is due to:

  • The sheer amount of people that work in the sector, in construction, sales, mortgages
  • Ever sweeter deals and attractive mortgage schemes
  • Plain ignorance about anything having changed
  • People who have dreamed of owning a home for years, and are not about to have that derailed by some minor hiccup
  • Feel-good stories (it's like oil). Just look at this one:

Lereah predicted that prices would likely keep declining for the rest of the year.

"We do expect an adjustment in home prices to last several months as we work through a buildup in the inventory," he said. "With sales stabilizing, we should go back to positive price growth early next year."

He could have added: "Did I mention we sell bridges too?"

If anyone can come up with a reason why this will not become a major disaster within the next 12 months, please inform us. Lon Wittter's Barron's article a while back stated it quite clearly: when the housing sector goes, so does the economy.

Lon Wittter's Barron's article a while back stated it quite clearly: when the housing sector goes, so does the economy.

I would add and so does this country, but that's too much pie in the sky, right?

If anyone can come up with a reason why this will not become a major disaster within the next 12 months, please inform us.

Well, mortgage rates are coming down.  That can't hurt.  As of this morning a local bank has rates as low as 5.625% with 2 points.  This same mortgage was over 6% earlier this year.  

Energy prices are dropping too.  Natural gas under $5.  Gasoline @ $2.25 outside of Boston this weekend.  Mild winter predicted due to El Nino. (in the Northeast at least)

I should claify - that is a 30 year fixed rate mortgage.
Well, mortgage rates are coming down. That can't hurt

Until and unless you think for 2 seconds about why they're coming down.

Because inflationary pressures are easing?
OK, for you it may take 3 seconds.
Holy Shiite...that was funny if you read the above comments back to back real quick like a coversation and at the end say the 3 second part in a smart ass kind of way.  Wow I can't wait to go home today...oh wait classes.  
prices rise and prices fall but the government and central bank hasnt stopped creating money so inflation pressure continues

Very true.  Through the central bank goes through cycles as well.  Sometimes they create more money, other times less.

My response was partly tounge in cheek as well.

The real answer is that the economy is slowing, and that generally means we'll see declining interest rates.  Historically that has been good for the housing market.

I was laying in bed last night thinking about TOD (and peak oil), and you know it seems awfully like a cult to me.  Everyone is welcome as long as you're prepared to hoist the party line, not ask too many difficult questions, and you sure as hell better not suggest any way out.

Doom doom doom.  :)

I talk almost entirely about "ways out" or mitigation, have been relentlessly positive or neutral, and have been VERY well accepted.  My signature line is even,

Best Hopes,


BTW...yeah N.O. Saints!!!
i'll have to get a tune up on my sarcasm detector right away
And what is a "major disaster", really? Someday, possibly soon, we'll have an economic slowdown, a recession. That's not a major disaster! It's good for the economy to have these cutbacks from time to time, to prune out waste and inefficiency, and frankly to remind people to be more careful and not to assume that financial trends can only go in one direction. We've had recessions before and will again. Housing prices fell in the early 90s and it wasn't the end of the world. Sure, it's not as much fun as when everything is go-go-go but people get through it.

Disaster takes more than a fall in real estate prices. Disaster is when people are starving. Yes, some Peak Oilers see that coming, and we'll see if they're right, but it's going to take more than a halving of housing prices.

Using the word recession might be a little insensitive to the people who have to live through a meltdown that dwarfs the Great Depression by many orders of magnitude.

But if you don't think it'll be that bad, I wonder if you anticipate that the U.S. will:

A. Find another new magical money illusion bubble like real estate has recently been,


B. Actually engage in productive economic activity like manufacturing or farming.

Or is there another alternative?

You know, I think that "B" clause about "manufacturing or farming" is kind of like that old joke:

"who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

If economic activity works, it's productive.  Period.

Well, if I had my own money-minting machine, I would not have to work until I got caught.

So it is with the U.S.A. You say they must be doing valid work because they have money. However, when they get caught printing worthless bills, it will not be seen as quite so respectable.

You said "productive economic activity like manufacturing or farming" above.  That includes a lot of legal activity, including all of the arts, which are legal, and not always "physical."
Pardon me.  That "leaves out" a lot ...
For the record, I was not suggesting manufacturing and farming as a comprehensive list of productive activities, just a couple of examples.

I happen to believe that oil will get a whole lot more expensive in the near future, and "we will send you CD's of American (TM) songs for your cheap goods at our Walmarts" will not be a workable bargain in the future.

It is clear to me that that Americans (TM) have been consuming far more in value than they have been producing by riding on a reputation that hasn't been deserved for some years now.

Pyramid scheme central banking may even be legal, but I certainly won't put under your category of Arts.

Please pass along my best regards to the good citizens of Cornucopia.

I have trouble with the direct link between value and "things you can drop on your foot".

The US created the Ipod and US companies probably get more than 90% of the value from its sales. They have to power to decide who "manufactures" it and realize that gluing plastic together is a low value input that can and should be sent offshore. However, Apple owns the idea, makes the decisions and earns the profits.

Likewise, despite all the yelling and screaming about Nike and others I still can't see why "gluing uppers and soles" together is a strategic industry. It's also near comical how on the one hand people say this is the savior of the American workforce, but when some foreigners are doing it, it all of a sudden becomes "slave labor".

It is a mistake to think that because something is solid it is good and because it is an idea it is bad. If you start with this assumption, of course you will think the US is doomed. Once you realize it is a fallacy, the situation becomes much more complex.

Or for that matter, Bill Gates.  Not that always appreciated his software, or his buisiness tactics ... but when the world's richest man got there by pushing bits, and not iron, that tells you something.
Agreed. My argument should not be construed to mean the US economy is perfect, that a US recession may not be on the horizon, or the US doesn't face serious structural issues in adjusting to a changing place in the world economy.

I just want to question the idea that manufacturing stuff is real economic output and creating ideas is not.

There are certainly grains of truth in what you are saying, and I am soundly misconstrued if it was inferred that I thought only material things were worth producing. I put deep personal and social value on arts, philosophy, science, and education as ends in their own right.

My two main concerns with you vision are:

  • I don't believe that we can be a nation full of inventors of new gadgets like the IPod. Even if every woman and man were such a brilliant innovator, it is silly to think we need so many millions of new gadgets.

  • Cheap oil has allowed a setup where a brilliant inventor in San Francisco can command a mass of starving unemployed ones in Asia to work cheap in bad factory conditions to massproduce his product inexpensively. Even without moralizing that matter, I do not think it will be feasible a few years hence when the cost of shipping the items will be prohibitive.
I also agree with much of what you are saying. I think there are more than "grains of truth" in both points. In fact, sometime reality must be viewed from at least two different angles to get a realistic and multidimensional picture of it.

You are correct that the US can not be a nation of 300 million inventors. In fact, I do think this trend tends to benefits a smaller number of people with big ideas and those that finance them. While the broadening of the investor base through pension funds, etc. means this is not just a handful, it does not provide a livelihood to the masses. Still, while Google, Apple, etc employ less people than say General Motors or Walmart, their employment contribution to the US is massive and important.

I do think there is a potential crisis facing a class of US workers who have not had the opportunity (or have not taken advantage) to develop skills that are rewarded in this marketplace. I do think it is incumbent on the US government to do a better job of supporting these people and more importantly to help them become qualified for remunerative work.

Your comment regarding "commanding a mass of starving workers in Asia' is a political statement rather than an expression of reality. I live in Thailand and have worked in much of Asia. I would not want a factory job assembling products for export, but people not only actively pursue these jobs but pursue educational opportunities that qualify them to get them. It is clear that there other options are worse and it is patronizing to claim that they are making a wrong choice. Workers in Asia want these jobs just like workers in the US. The options facing those in poorer countries are less desirable and they can afford to do the work for less money.  

Will shipping items become prohibitive? Maybe. As noted elsewhere, container shipping is extremely cheap in per item cost and energy use. However, if it does become too expensive to do, then more labor accrues to the US. Good for you, bad for me and my Asian neighbors.

However, to be more than just complaining, your point about the US losing valuable jobs needs to be supported by plans or actions. I don't think any amount of hoping will get manufacturing back to the US. Instead, I think people need to try to compete for jobs where their skills are valued at international levels, take jobs with local customers, or create value as entrepreneurs. This vision is not perfect, but it will work. Can you suggest something better?

Can you suggest something better?

First, I wish your world and the one I desire could exist side-by-side with a choice of being in either world. There are many reasons that make this difficult, not the least of which being the massive global warming carbon emissions produced by the capitalists.

Better? Perhaps I can't say.

Better for me? Food and goods produced on a local level traded without currency. It is possible that access to certain medical technology would be reduced and that I would live a shorter life. But I have no doubt that it would be a better life. We would be living as humans healthy in spirit. Growing our food, doing our work, and having the rewards of what we do.

As it is, I am a skilled computer programmer working full-time with no medical benefits and no ability to pay for over-priced medical care on my own. The capitalists work to protect the profits of the medical industry and prevent me from obtaining treatments that I could afford but which are outside their regulations for the protection of corporate profit.

I am surrounded by a mass of millions of dehumanized drones spoon-fed on "American Idol," and I both long for and predict a world where we will once again take good care of ourselves, work hard in the day, and sing and tell stories around the campfire at night.

I don't believe that we can be a nation full of inventors of new gadgets like the IPod. Even if every woman and man were such a brilliant innovator, it is silly to think we need so many millions of new gadgets.

I think the segment can survive, and perhaps grow, but it is going to be very much a race.  A race to stay in the same place, even.

Luckily there are people in the US who want to run that hard.

"It is a mistake to think that because something is solid it is good and because it is an idea it is bad. If you start with this assumption, of course you will think the US is doomed. Once you realize it is a fallacy, the situation becomes much more complex."

Seems to me that this ignores, perhaps, the more salient problem with simply having "ideas" and shipping the required manufacturing to foreign shores: Wide production webs result in many vulnerabilities, in part due to the expense of fuel required for shipping various pieces and parts used to build things like iPods and Nikes. In a situation with escalating energy prices, a country that has much of its manufacturing scattered far-and-wide could face some serious issues. There are times when it is unwise to spread too thinly--and one of those times may be unfolding right now.


As (and if) wide production webs become increasingly vulnerable and expensive, we will make adjustments. Just like Americans will not have hothouse blueberries in January, elements of the production process will not be worth producing elsewhere and shipping.

In my view, like yours, these pressures will occur and increase. However, that is still just prediction. The trend seems to be hard and fact in the other direction.

The September issue of the Drewry Container Market Quarterly says that container shipping demand is up 10% YoY in the just ended quarter and supply up over 13%. High fuel prices have had an impact on the sector, but didn't seem to slow trade much. The turning point is still in the future.


Drug dealers are productive?
Con artists are productive?
Bank robbers are productive?
Fraud is productive?
It's one thing to havean economy and something else to have an economy someone might want.

They're all part of the new "service economy".
Kinda sad that everyone has to go the crime route, when there are so many non-criminal examples available.

(come to think of it though, Microsoft is kind of a grey area on crime ;-)

Oh, I'll just come out and ask it.  I wrote software today.  Am I a criminal?
Hehe. I'm a PHP coder by profession myself. I sleep a lot better with myself at night doing that than I would earning gains off a schnazzy spread of financial derivatives...

Nonetheless, I look forward to the good, honest days to come
where most of us will grow our own food and trade hand-made goods without currency.

The website I develop allows unlabeled musicians to share their music. It's not a whole lot of a difference between building that website and putting bricks together to build a music store.

In general, I personally target my discomfort with unproductive work towards those who make gains from playing with currency, as opposed to doing something that would be useful in the absence of a currency.

When I was working one hard, 7 days a week, software job, a co-worker actually had a 1940's copy of "5 acres and independence" in his desk drawer.  He'd read good passages from it to amuse us as we waited for systems to boot and proms to burn on Sunday afternoons.

The image is compelling in that environment, but I can be happy riding bikes when I can, and growing a few vegetables on the patio.

I dont mean to nitpick, but average and median are two different measures of central tendency and when it comes to homes, median is the preferred choice.  The article stated median declines, not average.
I'm hoping Khebab(or anybody else that knows what they are talking about) could comment on this.

What exactly is volatility? What is the definition? I'm not necessarily talking about the dictionary, but what it means in terms of oil prices specifically. What are we measuring?

I did the following rather simplistic analysis of oil prices and came up with the following.

Crude Volatility

I used average weekly prices. Then I measured the percentage difference between each week and the week 13 weeks previous. I then took the absolute value of this number so that we are always dealing with positive change. The thicker blue line is just a moving average of the values and has a trendline attached.

I used the most recent data, but the recent price swings may not appear here because of the 13-week period I used.

This suggests that since 1998, volatility has been getting less, not more. Could this be right?

My understanding is that volatitlity is the standard deviation that multiplies a Wiener process (random walk) in the Black-Scholes model (see here). A way to compute volatility is to estimate the standard deviation of log(P(t))-log(P(t-1)). For instance, if you take the daily prices between 2002 and mid-2006, you get a SD of 0.0177 (or 1.77 % per day). Now, you have to divide it by the square root of the sampling frequency (1/361) to get the annualized volatility:

volatility= 0.0177 / sqt(1/361)= 0.3368 (33.7% per year)

Now, I'm not an economist!

Perrty good...
Thanks, Khebab. I'm going to dig out my old statistics textbook and start playing with this.
Here's an article I found describing what volatility means in financial markets:


Basically it is a measure of how much variance there is in the return (i.e. the price change, for commodities). If prices are very stable or if they have a very steady trend, then volatility is low. If prices are all over the place, up a lot at one time and then down a lot a little while later, then volatility is high.

Your results are interesting, but the trend you have identified is very slight and probably not too significant. In a comment to this Econbrowser article:


JDH (an expert on oil prices) says that historical volatility for oil going back to 1974 was 29% (meaning roughly that 2/3 of the time, annual oil price changes were less than 29%). However he says that more recently the volatility figure has gone up to 33-36%. So he sees an upward trend, but is looking at a much longer baseline than your analysis.

It looks to me like your data is strongly influenced by the enormous spike to near 60% in mid 1999. I wasn't in the market then so I don't know what was going on with that. But it certainly stands out on your chart and it is probably responsible all by itself for the downward trend.

Thanks, good observations. I'm going to redo this at some point with different time periods and cycles.

Econbrowser is a great site.

I periodically bring up the subject of volatility for the reason that one frequently hears oil pundits speak of increased volatility as we approach peak, yet never seem to provide any evidence of measurement.

Why is econbrowser so good?  I check it everyday and they can't even keep it updated day to day.  Not to mention they don't fully appreciate the implications of peak oil, instead opting to provide the status quo some ammunition that alternatives will arise.  yeah ok, and like someone said Elvis is down at the local pool hall.

I think one of the better blogs for econ is mish.


Hello Oil CEO,

Interesting graph, thxs.

Speculation ahead!

If I had a Foundation supercomputing supercluster-- it would be fascinating to fully analyze this data from a 'detritus energy wave theory' viewpoint.  Recall my recent posting whereby the arrival of a VLCC supertanker is tantamount to the onshore breaking wave of a tsunami.  Thermodynamic limitations combined with economic & political policies determine the velocity, amplitude, and induced volativity of each arriving shipment.

Some simple examples may be useful to illustrate this point.  Synchronized energetic perturbations can setoff wild volativity.  Years ago, my 3 teenage friends and I thought it was fun to get inside a swimming pool about hip-deep and in synchronicity: cup our hands and splashpulse the poolwater.  In about a minute, the tremendous wave action in the pool would have gallons and gallons of water jumping out of pool: totally soaking the pooldeck and surrounding lawn.  Conversely, we could tamp this wave motion very quickly by jointly anti-synchronous cooperation.

I have mused about the incredible political power of this tool quite a bit, if it can be properly applied.  Imagine if you could get everyone in NYC at precisely 7pm to race about their home flushing all toilets and opening all waters taps wide open.  The resulting sewage flood would probably totally overwhelm the city sewage capacity and certain areas might suddenly have enormous overflows of raw sewage. EEEWWWW!!!!

If you could identify these chokepoints: one neighborhood closely cooperating could make another neighborhood basically uninhabitable.  Here in the Asphalt Wonderland: Scottsdale, Carefree, Paradise Valley, Estrella, and other wealthy upscale suburbs are at much higher elevations than the poor parts of the city.  The elevation disparity from Superwealthy Carefree [elevation 2395 ft above sealevel] and Paradise Valley [1340 ft], with huge homes on mountainsides,  is far higher than the megalopolis's sewage plant in the far Southwest valley.  The city of Buckeye [elevation 890 ft], near the huge treatment plant, and other low-lying suburbs could be swamped with millions of gallons of sewage in a carefully planned action by the Valley of the Sun's elite.  Not only the streets would be swamped with sewage, but the induced flashflood would make hundreds of gallons backpressure flow up through toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks inside houses.  What a giant stinking mess!  

But I could think of no easier way to jumpstart an population exodus from the Asphalt Wonderland.  Careful postPeak chokepoint tuning of this sewage system infrastructure could target specific neighborhoods for attack in an optimal fashion.  The wealthy, who can easily afford to go biosolar when the time arrives [if they wisely choose], can thus easily drive out of the habitat those poor Overshoot detritovores that cannot afford biosolar Powerup.

This application of energetic perturbation is applicable to food, fuels, and electricity too: Those that depend on massive spiderwebs of shared carrying-capacity will die when thermo-forces inevitably shrink the spiderwebs' breadth and inability to respond to pulses of intermittent energy flows.

Consider the latest Hirsch update, SuperNafta, and the topdogs' desire to established 15 core States of detritovore lifestyles [but not explicity stated as such].  I believe this evolved from computational analysis of future postPeak shrinkage in the detritus spiderweb. Consolidating the infrastructure to a minimum size, is not only dictated by thermo-econo realities, but effectively reduces the effects of unforeseen incoming perturbations and enhances control for them.

Recall my posting of how Las Vegas is currently screwed to the tune of $0.30/gallon.  To me, this is logical evidence of rational thermo-econo-political forces in joint action.  If one considers the arid habitat of the Great Basin and the great degree of Overshoot there already: it only makes sense to impose energetic limits, then let perturbations whipsaw this area in the future to jumpstart start massive migrations and induce a drive to biosolar sustainability.

If one accepts my speculation of NSA/CIA black-budget contracts for Foundation to Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, and other possibly covert supercomputer cluster labs throughout the US: I believe very advanced market studies [and manipulation?] for all energy sources for postPeak predictive decline and directed collapse is roughly attainable.  Application of econo-political measures can help finetune the desired outcome.

Careful analysis of Vegas's pipeline limitation can indicate numerous measures of thermo-flows, price elasticity ratios, and perturbations in the local market. Further study can yield rates of societal adjustment, detritus/biosolar adaptation ratios, in-migration vs outbound migration, and endless other details.  Are sales of bicycles, scooters increasing, and to what degree?  What transference rate to car-pooling and mass-transit is occurring during this period of falling fuel prices, and how does that compare during the earlier period of rapidly rising prices?

For food: consider the latest spinach ecoli problem.  If all the appropriate data can be collected and correctly analyzed-- the market thermo-econo tracking of this bagged and refrigerated spinach tsunami is clearly revealed.  How far and how fast did this spinach get dispersed nationally? How quickly did the whipsaw perturbation of warning info reach the grocers and consumers?  Do infection rates as recorded by the CDC/WHO have future applicability for edible pandemics?  Did sales of lettuce increase in response, or did people shift to some other foodstuff?  What financial losses were incurred by farmers and others in the distribution food-chain?  What are the implications for humanure sewage being applied to future relocalized permaculture?  A full computational study of this predictive collapse and directed decline of the refrigerated spinach market would be beyond fascinating,IMO.

Careful thermo-econo control of the ethanol vs edible foodstuff ratio will be a powerful perturbational tool as it can create corresponding synchronous and anti-synchronous energy waves for optimal Foundation designed effects.  I forsee careful postPeak calibration of this ratio to leverage who can afford detrito-food, thus forcing most to relocalized permaculture and my predicted shift of 60-75% laboring in the fields.

NSA/CIA studies of all potential energy chokepoints have probably been completed for water, food, and FFs, and are now highly classified to keep out of the reach of any detrito-terrorists, whether from abroad or potentially homegrown as we go postPeak.  A obvious case is that no big trucks are allowed to drive across Hoover Dam, but must make a current 150 mile detour until a new bridge is completed in the future.  I believe data refinement is ongoing, and the weakest spiderweb links are being studied.

Volativity induced from global warming is a foregone conclusion, but I suspect it is being intensely studied and modeled for it's perturbational effects across North America.  The crashing energy tsunami waves from droughts, floods, and hurricanes have far-reaching effects on all spiderwebs.  Synchronicity or anti-synchronicity [whichever method is best for the desired econo-politico effect], of other perturbational waves can then be used to further amplify or tamp down [within certain limits] some climate change effects upon the sheeple.

I would think the CIA/NSA, in conjunction with the US Census Bureau and other govt. orgs, is busy gathering data still from hurricanes Katrina & Rita.  What was the outmigration percentage, stress-induced death rates, detritus adaptation flexibility of in-migration areas,.... on and on.  What I found fascinating, but tragic, was the sad deaths of so many trying to evacuate from Rita.  But it clearly shows the elite's ability to stampede the lemmings in a temporary predictive collapse and directed decline exodus of millions.

Perhaps, this info can be postPeak useful to induce millions in an "Exodus from the Southwest" as severe drought and acquifer depletion will inevitably arise.  Properly induced out-migration from MSM 'facts' combined with judicious use of periodic deprivations from thermo-econo cresting and ebbing perturbations will create corresponding delay pulses of human movement.  PostPeak spending for necessities only will quickly deprive Vegas of it's economic lifeblood, and vastly reduced Colorado flows will require the water to go for areas supportive of agriculture and permaculture.

Continuing in my wild speculation: consider if Zimbabwe's Pres. Mugabe, in covert cooperation with the IMF, World Bank, WTO, CIA, NSA, and other elite Orgs, are testing and tweaking Isaac Asimov's Foundation concepts as briefly outlined by my crude text efforts above.  Mugabe is so incompetent in his managerial efforts that I suspect, but have no proof, that outside forces may instead be test-running 'predictive collapse and directed decline' of the former African breadbasket.  Who knows?  This being a poor, landlocked country map, it might be easy to monitor, study, and control the many factors of interaction and perturbations to deduce certain CONSTANTS of human behavior that can be applied worldwide.  We already understand the qualitative importance of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Are there underlying quantitative predictors of human thermo-performance?

Will the sheeple ignore this at their great peril?  Time will tell.

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

Hi Bob,
This wild speculation reminds me of the 'theory' that someone posited once that if all the Chinese climbed onto six-foot platforms and jumped off simultaneously it would stop the earth's rotation. I came back with the idea that if all Americans pointed their cars in the same direction and simultaneously accelerated they could achieve the same result (or maybe cancel out the Chinese if we were in a Mutually-Assured-Nonsense mode).
Hello ET,

Thxs for responding.  IF one understand's how we all instinctively seek MPP, it can be a very powerful tool in the right hands as we go into postPeak thermo-decline.  As opposed to other species, we all seek to surf effortlessly down detritus energy waves far above the natural reefs and rocks of Liebig's Limiting Constraints.  Consider this photo and or this Youtube video.

In Asimov's Foundation [plus my Overshoot & Dieoff analysis]: the Overshoot population was headed for a full, but slow, catabolic collapse that was estimated to last for a millenium resulting in widespread violence and drastic levels far below optimal sustainability.  Hari Seldon sought to derail MPP as much as possible, thereby rapidly accelerating decline to keep a magnitude or better of civilization surviving and thriving.  Using the concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline of Foundation to optimize the decline for the long-term betterment of all.

We already know that postPeak the incoming detritus energy waves will be ever smaller and further apart, but MPP can make allowances for this to insure catabolic collapse.  Far better to optimize our decline by constantly varying wave heights and furthermore constantly shifting the underlying rocks and reefs of all the possible dimensions of Liebig's Constraints.

In effect: If one can imagine total unpredictability of incoming waves from perturbational wave effects: a surfer would have no idea if a swell is a dinky 3-footer or a 7-story monster-- thus no one would dare surf because the risk of drowning or smashing on the ever-shifting rocks below would be too great.  In short, your desire for detritus MPP would be useless, and you would seek biosolar powerup instead.  If this was applied everywhere, then detritus powerdown and biosolar powerup could be easily achieved, and the squeeze through the Dieoff Bottleneck would be optimized for us and all the other species too.

Elliot wave theory, Krondratiev waves,, and other statistical tools clearly indicate thermo-physical waves in motion and operant upon us all.  Foundation would seek to supercomputer massively utilize every bit of knowledge, action, trends, and reactions to disrupt predictability of detritus collapse; to induce us to rapidly paradigm shift faster than the Hubbert downslope or the force of global warming.  This combo of synchronicity, or the inverse, can be used to leverage change.

Imagine Vegas being jerked rapidly around by various waves of boom & bust, fuel shortages, water shortages,... .and so on faster than the population can reasonably mitigate.  Most will choose to migrate elsewhere.  Imagine similar forces in your neck of the woods.

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

The city of Buckeye [elevation 890 ft], near the huge treatment plant, and other low-lying suburbs could be swamped with millions of gallons of sewage in a carefully planned action by the Valley of the Sun's elite.  
Instead of a 'flashmob', they would be a 'flushmob'! <heh>
"The city of Buckeye [elevation 890 ft], near the huge treatment plant, and other low-lying suburbs could be swamped with millions of gallons of sewage in a carefully planned action by the Valley of the Sun's elite."

Unless your engineers totally screwed up the design of your sewer systems, there is no way sinks and toilets can put enough water into a sewer to overflow it.  You couldn't even screw up the sewage plant.  It would simply bypass the high flow at the influent.

Sorry, my environmental engineering instincts kicked in.

Hello Enviro Attny,

Thxs for responding.  May I suggest you google sewage problems?  This is a problem worldwide, and will only get worse in the postPeak era as the energy required to maintain safe sewage infrastructure is tremendous.  It is only natural that humanure recycling will become common for most of us. Consider this link.

I'm not saying that there aren't major problems with the infrastructure of our sanitary system.  I was just pointing out that toilets and sinks can't flood a sewer system.

Sewers flood because of stormwater.  Most older cities have at least a partially combined system (sanitary and storm).  During storm events, they overflow to the river.  this causes major contamination problems.  Take a look at this link for the Pittsburgh system.  They will have to spend billions to try and fix CSOs, and will probably fail.


With the current popululation density of the world, centralized treatment of sewage is the only solution to prevent massive water contamination problems.  It would be a bit difficult to ask the millions of people in a city to treat their sewage themselves.

A sewage infrastructure and centralized treatment process is perfectly suitable to a low energy future.  One facility, treating 200,000 million gallons/day will use a lot less energy than a million systems treating 200 gallons/day.  The sludge from sanitary plants could easily be reused with no significant problems, if the government would simply forbid any commercial/industrial discharges to the sanitary system.  Since they don't, the treated sludge is problamatic as a reusable nutrient source.

that should be 200 million, not 200,000 million.

200,000 million gallons/day would be one big-ass plant


Yet another article on the libertarian Lew Rockwell website 'debunking' the notion of peak oil:


I was going to email the author explaining how he has badly misunderstood the whole oil situation, but this particular article is so ill-informed and so factually incorrect that I wouldn't even know where to begin. It would probably be a total waste of my time anyway.

It appears that since the convergence of two events, the discovery of the 'Jack' deep-water oil field in the Gulf of Mexico and steadily dropping gasoline prices, peak oil debunking has gathered greater momentum.

Though I haven't listened to people like Rush Limbaugh in many years, I can just imagine what sort of discussions on peak oil debunking must be going on in that milieu.  It's an uphill battle.

Oh, they'll all stop talking about it as soon as the prices start upward again.  Which could be today, looks like we may be rebounding from the $60 bottom.  Or maybe not...
I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to all these so-called PO debunkers.  I'll bet a lot of people have heard the words "peak oil" for the first time thanks to them.
Futures just poked over $62.  And no "bad news" today that I'm aware of (beyond the usual).
My God...who keeps playing tug-o-war with the oil prices?

I've watched it go up/down/up over $1 within a day...I keep imagining Uncle Sam on one end of the rope and the ME on the other side...see-sawing back and forth.

It's making me dizzy!

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=businessNews&storyid=2006-09-25T180646Z_01_S P200324_RTRUKOC_0_US-MARKETS-OIL.xml&src=rss&rpc=23

"The rally started on buying by a European bank and the locals got caught short, which in turn set off stops," said Nauman Barakat, oil analyst at Macquarie Inc. "There's no news as such to set this buying off."
"Robert Klassen retired from a forty-year career in critical-care respiratory therapy."

Obviously he is well qualified to talk about PO.  OK, I'm joking.  Sadly he does not even seem to understand the basics concepts of PO, and believes somehow the business community actually supports PO.  If only that were true.

Lew Rockwell's website is usually enlightening, I don't what started this PO debunking thing, but it seems to be unhappily spreading like the plague.  Bloomberg Radio has one commentator after the next declaring that the price of oil must fall.  Funny almost all of those commentators were totally wrong about the direction of oil over the last five years.  

But don't be surprised. One problem is that what goes around comes around. Commodities go up, commodities go down. If you want to discuss a long term (secular) trend productively, you've got to separate it from the noise. And the noise is fractal - prices are volatile even over periods of years - it's not Gaussian-by-the-day. That makes filtering it out really tough.

In order to "simplify" the discussion for political ends - see all the primitivist posts in these pages lately - geology and logistics issues got hitched to short-term prices, because rising prices made that convenient as a debating tactic. (Remember, a short time ago, gasoline was well under $2/US gallon.) Now we suddenly find the issues hitched to prices that happen to be falling. Politically, it's going to be nearly impossible to unhitch them. By the time it happens, prices might be rising again. Hitching action to statistical noise is just not a Really Bright Idea.

Same thing with Katrina. An awful lot of commentary got hitched to a real outlier of a hurricane season. (Although, with just a few decades of truly comprehensive aerial/satellite records, maybe it wasn't much of an outlier at all - how could we know what the range really is?) So if this season turns out to be a dud, as seems increasingly likely, well, end of problem and the N.O. area levee boards can go back to diverting levee money into the pork barrel, right?

Growing Economic Inequality Threatens U.S. Values

If you're in Asheville, N.C., stop by Biltmore, the vast estate that George Vanderbilt III--heir to a railroad fortune--constructed between 1889 and 1895. You can tour most of its 250 rooms, including 43 bathrooms and an indoor swimming pool. When few Americans used electricity, Biltmore had its own generators. To take the tour is to grasp one of the great advances of the 20th century: the gap between the superrich and most Americans has narrowed enormously. In Vanderbilt's time, most Americans lived in filthy slums or on modest farms. Now even the wealthiest among us live more like ordinary people than George Vanderbilt ever did.
Just to add to this.  In the article it mentioned the all time median income record was in 1999 (gee right before the boom, right) @ $47671, and for 2005 it's $46326.  Going over to http://minneapolisfed.org/Research/data/us/calc/ I find that in today's dollars once inflation is figured in the $47671 figure in 99 should be $55883 JUST TO BREAK EVEN.  Not to mention CPI numbers are bullshit anyway and I'm sure it should be anywhere from 2-5% higher than even this, but I digress and the point is clear.

And this is in 6 short years.

Author looks at how the brain is wired for sociability, connectedness

Q: The Internet has made communication so easy, but you suggest that such electronic discourse may have a real downside. You mention that the social brain (described in the book as a set of "neural networks that synchronize around relating to others") is active in a human contact, but that it isn't active online. Can you explain what's happening here?

A: It's been noted since the first days of the Internet that it allows a person to say something they would never say were they face-to-face. The social brain refers to the very extensive circuitry active in some way during a social interaction. The social brain doesn't just take in what the other person is doing. It tells us what to do next to keep things operating on track. If we're upset or agitated and we're with the person, we might say something artfully because our social brain is telling us how to do it. But without it online, it lets us do whatever we want -- and sometimes with unfortunate consequences.

So much for the idea that MySpace or Facebook can make up for the modern loss of social capital.  We're in the Silicon Age, but we still have Stone Age brains...

It's quite simplistic to suggest that there is no interaction taking place online. This forum is proof. The interaction may have a slightly different form, but that is just as true for a phone conversation, or making/watching TV, or writing/reading a book or newspaper, who in turn all differ from each other.

i would say that the increase in distance, both physical and mental, would tend to lead to a decrease in veracity. But then again, we all know many people who are masters in lying straight to our faces. "It lets us do whatever we want"?
In that case, let's just say that these media allow for him to promote statements like this, which means that he gets to do whatever he wants. Not 100% sure that's what he meant to say though.

The "expert" might as well have focused on the fact that right on through the Stone Age and the present era, the reptillian brain guides our actions much more than our cortex, and therefore argued that nothing much has changed.

It's quite simplistic to suggest that there is no interaction taking place online.

But no one said that.

What he is saying is that the parts of the brain that usually engage when we are interacting with people face to face do not engage when we are interacting online.

I find that quite fascinating.  

Makes sense.  We've all typed out that hate email and contemplated hitting send.  Some have refrained, while other like me have hit that send button knowing full well what would be returned in kind.
You're all a bunch of dicks!
It's quite simplistic to suggest that there is no interaction taking place online.

But no one said that.

Wait a minute, you. He is paraphrased:

You mention that the social brain is active in a human contact, but that it isn't active online

If we're upset or agitated and we're with the person, we might say something artfully because our social brain is telling us how to do it. But without it online, it lets us do whatever we want.

My take on that is: no social brain, no social interaction. You have 3 options, which all mean the more or less the same:

  • no interaction
  • no social interaction
  • social interaction, but without the social brain

What he is saying is that the parts of the brain that usually engage when we are interacting with people face to face do not engage when we are interacting online.

Well, not exactly, he throws our what he calls the social brain.  And I'm saying that you can make a similar, albeit not completely equal, case for a phone conversation. Or some other media. How social are you on the phone, Leanan? Or are you social through another part of your brain than the social brain?

I find that quite fascinating.

It may be fascinating, but it's simplistic too. He read something somewhere and forgot to think it over, or that's my take. It's not that communication doesn't change online (wait, what about a webcam, is that face-to-face?), but that it's just one of many such agents of change, and not at all unique, just the latest. The fact that he doesn't mention that makes me think that he'll pick up a phone and feel he can have a nice social conversation with his wife. But can he? If it's about faces, he can't. He states that the social brain is not involved in phone conversations.

It makes me think of biologists who argue that dolphins and whales can't lie, because they don't see each other when they talk, they communicate over distance most of the time. That I find fascinating.

Is it easier to deceive when you see someone, when your facial expression hides your intentions, or is it when you don't see them, when your facial expression can't hide your intentions, when the words have to stand on their own? Not an easy one.

My take on that is: no social brain, no social interaction.

Sorry, I see no way it can be interpreted that way.

And I'm saying that you can make a similar, albeit not completely equal, case for a phone conversation.

Indeed you can.  You see this with cell phones.  People driving while using cell phones are prone to crashes; for this reason, many states are banning the use of cell phones in cars, unless they are "hands-free" models.

The problem with this is that it's not the hands that are the problem.  The problem is the distraction.  People using hands-free cell phones are just as likely to get into crashes as those who are using regular models.  

So if talking is such a distraction, why isn't having passengers in the car equally dangerous? Having passengers is a little more dangerous, especially for young, inexperienced drivers, but not as dangerous as talking on a cell phone.  The reason is if someone is there in person, they can tell when you need to concentrate on the road, and stop talking.  People do this automatically.  But they can't do it over a phone, where your environment and body language are invisible.

So why does it matter?  As he notes, we are a social species.  It's healthy for us to be social.  The people most likely to live to be over 100 years old are the ones who have a strong social network.  

So does doing it over the Internet count?  The jury's still out, but I suspect the answer is no. For example, those studies that find heavy Internet users tend to be depressed.  Is it causal?  Maybe, maybe not.  But I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out it was.  I suspect Homo sapiens needs social interaction...face to face, not over a fiber optic network.  Internet porn is not a substitute for a flesh and blood relationship, and 1,000 Friendster friends cannot substitute for a face to face friend.

So does doing it over the Internet count?

"[...] I remember once describing the Internet to a shaman. He looked at me in disbelief. `You need a computer for that?' he asked. `Do you mean that the only way you can reach that web which connects all people together is with a machine?' He had never heard of anything so ridiculous."

That's what I find a fascinating view on off-line global communities!

My take on that is: no social brain, no social interaction.

Sorry, I see no way it can be interpreted that way.

He says the social brain is out when online. Can we agree on that? That leaves you with interaction, social or not, not processed with the social brain. You may name it as you please, but don't think you can do it with your social brain.

And I'm saying that you can make a similar, albeit not completely equal, case for a phone conversation.

Indeed you can.  You see this with cell phones.  People driving while using cell phones are prone to crashes; for this reason, many states are banning the use of cell phones in cars, unless they are "hands-free" models.

Nothing to do with cellphones, just the fact that he makes a distinction between seeing someone's face and not seeing it. Which makes the other passengers in the car a weird subgroup. Face or no face? Are you closer to them than to your hot lover that you're talking to on your cell? Where is your social brain then? Is phone sex different from chat sex? How?

You bring up body language, he does not. Face-to-face is his paradigm.

So does doing it over the Internet count?  The jury's still out, but I suspect the answer is no. For example, those studies that find heavy Internet users tend to be depressed.

So tell me where and how the net differs from the phone in its social implications. Distance is distance, right? One on one? Chat is that.

He says the social brain is out when online. Can we agree on that? That leaves you with interaction, social or not, not processed with the social brain. You may name it as you please, but don't think you can do it with your social brain.

Sorry, I don't understand what you are trying to say.

Nothing to do with cellphones, just the fact that he makes a distinction between seeing someone's face and not seeing it.

I don't think that's the key point.  It's a figure of speech; it doesn't literally mean that seeing someone's face is the important thing.

So tell me where and how the net differs from the phone in its social implications. Distance is distance, right? One on one? Chat is that.

I think the difference is that the phone is mostly used to contact people who you already know, and usually see in person.  (Social uses of the phone, I mean; I'm not talking about calling Dell to complain they got your order wrong.) Phone calls don't replace actual friends.  

The Internet is different.  It is replacing actual friends for many people.

The social brain refers to the very extensive circuitry active in some way during a social interaction. The social brain doesn't just take in what the other person is doing. It tells us what to do next to keep things operating on track.

I suspect Homo sapiens needs social interaction... face to face, not over a fiber optic network.

I use Skype video to keep in touch with friends overseas... does that count as face-to-face or not?

What I find interesting is that:

(a) after the initial greeting people tend to forget that they are"on video"... lots of gestures that they wouldn't do in real face-to-face conversation... scratching, fidgeting etc... it's as if they were just "on the phone"..."

(b) there is no real "eye contact"... people tend to look at your image on the screen... not at the webcam.

However, I do think that, as in real life, comments on videophone tend to get moderated because you can see the facial reaction of the other person...

So maybe it lies somewhere between...

So maybe it lies somewhere between...

Perhaps.  Probably have to do an MRI of people Skyping to find out for sure.

The oil price ticker on the upper right hand corner of this page is stuck on September 22. Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
The oil price ticker on the upper right hand corner of this page is stuck on September 22. Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
If you click on the chart and follow the link to the Yahoo Finance page, you will see it is stuck there also, so it is not the fault of the Drum.
Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.
Can any TOD administrator fix this? Thanks.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.  My social brain is temporarily offline.

TOD is stuck in bear mode - prices jumped $2 this afternoon (maybe THEY don't want us to know).
Leanan...just want to thank you for all your work.  DrumBeat is as informative as it is interesting and usually attracts an engaging discussion.  
About 22,000 noncommercial buyers now hold long positions -- that is, bets that crude oil prices will rise -- according to the most recent report from the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation; in August the figure was 83,000. "It is a huge reversal in position," said David Kirsch, an oil markets analyst with PFC Energy in Washington.

Good article in NYT.

Oil Prices Fall as Speculators Retreat

I would so love to bet big on oil contracts out at the horizon around 2010.  I got three years to wait.
legal drinking age?
My assumption is that many hedgies switched from long to short when oil began its slide from the peak, and further assume that they now hold very large short positions.  If so, when is the next reverse? There is real resistance at 60, many hedgies might begin selling short positions to lock in profits, and this action may result in a very sharp move up.
I'd like to know when the short sellers need to close, and how have the commercials reacted to all this?
Commercials have been buying for 5 straight weeks. Net position is now at -2,100 contracts versus -70,000 contracts 5 weeks back. Positions are as of last Tuesday a day before october contract expiration. Commercials generally dont change their trend. IF they were buying till tuesday I am sure they will continue as prices fell.
I am sure the next report will show them net long.They are usually right.
Market wrapUp on Financial Sense Online has the invisible hand at work again?  
Question about Natural gas wells.
 Can the extraction rate of natural gas be regulated?
If it can be regulated, does that mean it can be capped? or is that for oil?
US taxpayers fund $20 billion insurance debt

One of the world's largest insurers is $20 billion in debt. It has no hope of repaying its loans anytime soon, if ever.

Worse, the $870 billion worth of homes and businesses it covers are among the highest-risk properties in the country, with claims filed on many of them again and again.

Such troubles would constitute a historic corporate collapse were not the insurer the National Flood Insurance Program, owned and operated by the U.S. government, and the lenders the U.S. taxpayers.

The policies, which had so much riding on them, went on sale in June 1969. Private insurers would write them, but not have to assume any of the risks.
At first, the program was run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But after 10 years, it was transferred to FEMA.

What does everyone think of this angle of why the Gas price fell?  Read the whole (Short) article.



Prior to Goldman's revision of the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index in July, unleaded gas accounted for 8.45% (dollar weighting) of the GSCI. Now unleaded gas is only 2.30%.


I would like to "restate" what Mr. King said: What this means folks, is that hedge funds and institutional money that "TRACKS THE INDEX" were FORCED TO SELL 75% of their gasoline futures to conform with the reconstituted GSCI. And if anyone hasn't noticed the timing of the price of the gasoline price collapse...just in time for November's Mid Term Elections!



I think George and Dick know somebody from Goldman (LOL).
"...paper tricks being played on what amounts to a wealthy flock of sheep." And the regular sheep too.
A short blog entry for me this evening:

Man Builds 105 MPG Car

He also provides directions for building your own.

I want to get your all's (or y'alls...for us Midwesterners) reaction to a hypothetical situation:

How do you think oil markets in general and Saudi Arabia / OPEC will react if the Democrats grab some power this November?

I know this might be a BIG stretch, but I'm starting to wonder if SA, Russia, Iran, etc. is seeing some writing on the wall.  Bush is being "openly" criticized by other world leaders and more and more in the MSM.  Cracks are starting to show in the economy even though gasoline prices are declining.  What if the typical
BushCo ploys don't work this time?  What if people are tired of the Bush's playing of the terror card?

So, what might happen come December if this scenario were to play out?  Would it change the psychology of the market?  Which way?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Correction to above:

How do you think oil markets, in general, and Saudi Arabia / OPEC, specifically, will react if the Democrats grab some power this November?

I think the rest of the world will heave a great big sigh of relief. But haven't started counting chickens yet.
Oh, I'm certainly not saying it will happen...I'll be utterly surprised and amazed if it were to happen.  I don't believe it would be any kind of shining white horse to save us from the evils of PO either.

I'm just curious in the hypothetical.  BushCo are chums with SA...would Democratic Party power piss them off? Or is SA getting tired of BushCo...are they ready for new leadership in the US?  Someone that might actually deal with the ME instead of bombing the crap out of them.

How do you think oil markets in general and Saudi Arabia / OPEC will react if the Democrats grab some power this November?

Why would Democrats win ever again?

"Voters who managed to make it past the array of hurdles erected by Republican officials found themselves confronted by voting machines that didn't work. Only 800,000 out of the 5.6 million votes in Ohio were cast on electronic voting machines, but they were plagued with errors.(164) In heavily Democratic areas around Youngstown, where nearly 100 voters reported entering ''Kerry'' on the touch screen and watching ''Bush'' light up, at least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for chronically flipping Kerry votes to Bush.(165) (Similar ''vote hopping'' from Kerry to Bush was reported by voters and election officials in other states.)(166) Elsewhere, voters complained in sworn affidavits that they touched Kerry's name on the screen and it lit up, but that the light had gone out by the time they finished their ballot; the Kerry vote faded away.(167) In the state's most notorious incident, an electronic machine at a fundamentalist church in the town of Gahanna recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry.(168) In that precinct, however, there were only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up.(169) (The error, which was later blamed on a glitchy memory card, was corrected before the certified vote count.)" Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Every day, in every way, it just keeps getting worse and worse.
Dragonfly's question was about oil markets if Democrats gain power in November. It was not about Ohio, John Kerry, or the 2004 election. What does this have to do with the price of oil?
"What does this have to do with the price of oil?"

The question was if democrats get elected etc.
What do you mean if? Republicans will do all they can to prevent it, hence the election fraud link. Maybe I need coffee.

Here we talk about using more batteries (a la the electric car) to replace ICE. And there you have MIT developing micro-engines of the gas turbine variety to replace batteries in gizmos.

Laugh, cry, shrug shoulders ...?
Following earlier discussions about which is worse car culture or bad food culture, I did a little calculation to see what would happen if the world cut sugar consumption in half and used the resulting surplus to produce ethanol.

Global sugar production: 150 mn tons (annual)
Conversion to ethanol would produce: 114,286 mn liters
Or 30,234 mn gallons. This is the equivalent of 21,164 gallons of gasoline on a BTU basis.

One half of this would be 10,582 gallons or 29 mn gallons per day. In barrels this would equal 690,281 barrels of gasoline per day.

Now if the world produces 80 million barrel of oil per day and 30% (24 million barrels) becomes gasoline, we could get almost 3% of total gasoline consumption from only one half of existing sugar production.

Looked at another way, global sugar consumption can be equated to 6% of total gasoline use.

Of course then we would all probably live longer, which would offset some of the gains.

Jack: Interesting analysis. IMO, sugar as a foodstuff will eventually be quite uncommon as the fuel derived is too important. As for living longer, maybe-if you don't consume too much of the "sugar alternatives" the invisible hand will concoct up and sell to you.
Although if we drove more as a result of the lower gas prices because of the 3% supply increase, we might get less exercise and negate some of the health gains.

It has occurred to me that the massive (and hugely complicated) modern-day 'health' care and insurance industries depend on humans developing or living in fear of chronic illnesses caused by poor high sugar diets and lack of exercise. But do we really want everyone to start eating and living healthfully, thus severely hurting these industries?? Because of their massive size they are absolutely essential contributors to the continued functioning and growth of the global economy and financial system in its current version. It makes me think that in a different world, where humans ate only natural food from rich soils that they are adapted to as biological organisms, as opposed to man-made junk like oreos, Inka-colas, and mineral deficient versions of produce grown via fossil-fuel fertilizers, and sickly grain-fed factory-farm animals, most or perhaps all this modern energy intensive and computer tech-based industry would be superfluous.

Of course I am as dependent on the system as it is as most anyone else. So selfishly I would not mind it continuing a little while longer. I can still get my all cold-processed "organic food bars", covered in shiny plastic wrappers, shipped from some place 2000 miles away. This is actually reasonably nutritious natural food. But sustainable? Hardly.

No one is going to change the human penchant for sweetness.

From the reading I have done, corn syrup does more damage to health than does sugar.  Corn syrup has a high concentration of fructose as is commonly referred to as high fructose corn syrup (hfcs).

Here is an exerpt: "Leptin tells your body to stop eating when it's full by signaling the brain to stop sending hunger signals. Since fructose doesn't stimulate glucose levels and insulin release, there's no increase in leptin levels or feeling of satiety. This can leave you ripe for unhealthy weight gain.

The Fate of Fructose in the Body

Fructose requires a different metabolic pathway than other carbohydrates because it basically skips glycolysis (normal carbohydrate metabolism). Because of this, fructose is an unregulated source of "acetyl CoA," or the starting material for fatty acid synthesis. This, coupled with unstimulated leptin levels, is like opening the flood gates of fat deposition.

Should Fructose Be Eliminated From the Diet?

It's not that you should eliminate fructose from your diet, but you should be aware of how much you're consuming. After all, fructose is the primary sugar found in fruits, which provide valuable nutrients. In this case, a little fructose is fine. It becomes a problem only when someone consumes high levels of fructose or HFCS, which is now present in virtually all commercial foods (see below)."  http://www.diabeteshealth.com/read,2004,4274,2.html

There is a great deal of research going on investigating the link between hfcs and the obesity pandemic. And no wonder: "According to a commentary in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of HFCS increased over 1,000 percent." (ibid)

Rather than burning sugar derived ethanol in mitu's (motorized individual transport units),it would be energetically wiser to burn corn in pellet stoves, and save the sugar for sweetener.  It would be even better to grow other crops than corn.