DrumBeat: September 6, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 09/06/06 at 9:24 AM EDT]

More on that oil find:

Although the discovery suggests that the undersea region holds more oil than previously thought, experts say the crude will be expensive to extract and years in coming.

What's more, growing demand in the U.S. and elsewhere could quickly eat up the production gains. And there is the uncertainty that comes with trying to figure out how much oil lies so far beneath the surface.

"It's phenomenal, if it's there," said Matthew Simmons, who heads Simmons & Co., a Houston investment bank that specializes in energy. "But until you get a field on production, you don't really know what's there…. It's a roll of the dice."

Simmons said the gulf had yielded several highly touted oil finds over the years that fell short of expectations.

Peak oil theorists don't know Jack

“The industry is still very capable of coming up with new ways of producing oil,” says Michael Lynch, a prominent opponent of the notion of peak oil — that global supplies of crude are set for a marked decline.

Meet Vinod Khosla, ethanol evangelist

BP appoints ombudsman to hear complaints

Farming for Energy

As eco-friendly energy becomes more cost-efficient, convenient, and feasible, the time may be right for a growth spurt

Dip in gas prices may lift entire economy: Gasoline prices fell by more than 30 cents a gallon last month, and everyone stands to benefit.

Tories want road pricing for all lorries driving in Britain

Heavyweight harangues Japan on oil law reform

Watari, chairman of the country's biggest integrated oil company, warns that unless the Alternative Energy Law and the New Energy Law are replaced they will "obstruct and crush all of the energy technology developments we could see in the foreseeable future".

Oil-rich Iraq forced to import fuel to beat shortages

BANGLADESH: Load-shedding deepens in city. Dsepite protests, the blackouts are getting worse. Supply is 39% short of what they need.

Power Shortage Cuts Alcoa, Ghana's Aluminium Output

Cairn delays India oilfield start

Cairn Energy has again put back the start date for production at its main Indian oilfield.

The firm blamed the delay on slower-than-expected pipeline building.

The Mangala oilfield should now come online in 2009, rather than in 2008 as predicted. Cairn had initially forecast it would start pumping oil in 2007.

Chad eyes bigger share of its oil profits

DAKAR, SENEGAL – Describing Chad's profits from a multibillion-dollar pipeline as "crumbs," President Idriss Deby is trying to grab a larger slice of the petrodollar pie, joining the trend of "resource nationalism" in vogue from Algeria to Venezuela.

Dr Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari and the four phases of transition

"The fact of being in 'Post-Peak' will bring about explosive disruptions we know little about, and which are extremely difficult to foresee. And the shock waves from these explosions rippling throughout the financial and industrial infrastructure could have myriad unintended consequences for which we have no precedent and little experience."

Advocates laud safety of new nuclear reactors

Energy costs force server rethink

For most of the history of commercial IT, servers have been measured largely by one metric: performance related to cost of acquisition. However, that equation, often known by the Americanism “bang per buck”, is now being challenged by a new metric called “performance per watt”.

The rise of performance per watt as a concern among IT buyers is a recognition that energy costs and, in particular, the power required by volume servers, have become important contributors to overall IT expense, even if the bill is still more likely to be handed to facilities managers than IT chiefs.

I just made my first post at Graphoilogy:

The Hubbert Parabola

In that post I experiment with 50 different regions of the world. For each one I do two plots:

"In the first one we will place all the data points (Q(t),P(t)) until year 2005 (both measured in
Giga-barrels) and then find the parabola that passes through the origin that better approximates
the data points (by the least squares fitting method). The intersection of this parabola with the
x-axis will give us the estimated URR. In the second plot we want to show how this estimated URR
has changed through time. For this plot, we define the function URR(t) as the estimated URR by the
prior method if we had used the data points up until year t, and discarding later years. In the
second plot we place points at (Q(t),URR(t)). Clearly Q(t)<URR(t) (just note that with a very
strange data set this could be false). So all points in the second plot should be above the URR=Q
line. The dashed line URR=2Q has an interesting property. If point (Q(t),URR(t)) lies above this
line, then according to the logistic model t is before the peak year (as calculated at year t),
i.e. Q(t)<URR(t)/2. If (Q(t),URR(t)) lies below the dashed line then we are after peak year."

Just a couple of plots here:

Have you tried this for the globe?

Doesn't this curve suggest global URR of 1650 Gb?

How is that credible? It's at least 20% beneath even Deffeyes lowball number.

In the second plot you see that the estimated URR has increased a lot in recent years, and it will continue to do so for some time. Only when we see that the points stabilize at an estimated URR value we can have some confidence. Like in the US case.

The parabola method is not good at all at predicting URR before peak year. And we are not past peak year.

The strength of the method IMO is at predicting URR after peak year, and many areas of the world are in this situation. If you go to Graphoilogy you will see that there are 20 countries where the estimated URR has stabilized. There are 21 bad cases like the world case, and there are 9 where it is too early to say.

I don't really see what we learn from this afterall then???
Well, for each region I have made two plots. The first one gives you an estimated URR and the second one gives a rough idea of how reliable it is. For the world case the second plot tells you that URR=1663GB is very unreliable. So that's what we learn. It is important to know when you shouldn't trust your forecasts and when you should.

Of the four plots I have posted, the estimated US URR has stabilized for years, maybe increasing slightly. This tells you that the estimate is quite robust. Mexico has just stabilized at peak year. South Arabia is a very bad case, the estimate is highly unreliable. UK has stabilized recently.

My next project will be to compare HL with this method. I think that we rely to much in the HL, and it is important to have an alternative to compare.

The US chart seems to show the estimate settles down when you are near the top which sort of makes sense. I think the noise in the UK (was it the platform fire?)and Saudi  kind of ruins it in those cases. What about the world?
Does it mean that Saudi and UK peaked at the beginning of the 80s ?
Saudi Arabia and the UK passed the dashed line at the beginning of the 80s. With the data points up
until then, this model predicted that they had already peaked. But that was a false
"impression" because both started to increase production and then the estimated URR started to

To say it in another way, this model was "tricked" and thought both countries had peaked,
but they hadn't.

Are Deffeyes-type HL plots available for all these countries?


Not yet, but I will get to it.
very interesting set of graphs on Graphology, roberto...i'm more interested in the parabola graphs...a country by country glimpse of production in comparison to the past. it is clear that there are a limited number of countries holding up production, and not in apparent decline...KSA,FSA, Canada, Quatar,Nigeria,Algeria ,and the biggies, KSA and FSA, suspect candidates for inclusion in this fraternity.
More on that oil find

"An opportunity like this only comes once every few decades," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates in Massachusetts.

So that's it chaps - no more discoveries until the 2030s.

On a more serious note, the official releases by Chevron, Devon and Statoil do not mention reserves.  The discussion about "reserves" is not for the Jack prospect but is a guestimate for the whole of this deep water play based on press interviews.

The fact that the field was discovered last year, the well test just reported was conducted during the second quarter of 2006 - does leave me wondering about the timing of this press release - and the media hype surrounding it.

On a different topic, this link goes to the oil market update by Clive Maund - for those who like technical analysis.


Cry Wolf... I spoke to a seasoned analyst on this today. He thinks it is definitely being over estimated.
Yea, this sort of thing happens al the time in the developing world - but I thought it was illegal in the USA.
3-15 billion barrels at 28,000 feet. Now thats alot of Mongo Nuts..
All of the news reports cite that this will "double the current U.S. reserves", but neglect to discuss the cost of the process, current and future rates of consumption, or address the long lead time required to bring the oil to market.  How do we call them on this?
Here's what I did last night in my Econ class.  A guy behing me was talking up the oil, so I politely interjected.  I explained for one it's 3-15 which is a huge interval.  Second the URR isn't what ultimately matters; if it's in the ground it's not making it to the market.  I gently pushed him in the direction of production numbers being central to reality and he got it real quick.  Made sense to him anyway.  

I went on to point out if it were on the high end at 15, & we were able to MAX it flat out, then we would use it up in less than 2 yrs. He quickly understood how little this is in the BIG picture.

He thanked me for pointing out the discrepancy and started asking questions.  I told him to google peak oil and choose where he wants to start.  He wrote it down and I hope to talk to him tomorrow night and see if he followed through.  Demonstrate your knowledge in a non condescending way to people and they'll do all the talking for you.

It is interesting to see how different people take in and process information and form attitudes and opinions - particularly when it cuts against some preheld conceptions.  Please let us know what happens.  

I introduced a very good friend of mine to the ideas and lent him a copy of End of Suburbia.  His wife scolded me for turning him into a worried doomer (not her phrase), and eventually he turned to a 'negotiator'  which means he looked inside himself and found faith in ethanol, although in general he has just put the whole issue out of his mind, so I don't bring it up any more.  

I think the instinctual response has a lot to do with your age.  When I talk to college peers, they are very receptive b/c I'm literally talking about their entire future adult life.  The whole liberal college experience does seem accurate in many, many cases throughout my experience.  In general people come there to gain knowledge from whomever it touting it.  

Last semester we had a debate in our brand new auditorium for legalizing cannabis and the high times editor stopped in to argue for while we had a retired DEA agent against. I'm currently trying to organize a peak oil debate in this same vein to stir debate among my college.  I've started asking around as to WHO could organize this since I just want to get it started rather than be in it.  It's my last year so I kind of want to do something since I've taken all this information on PO in and truly appreciate the seriousness and dire circumstances we will be facing without action at all levels.

Any one of my parents age and up, won't buy it.  I know there are plenty of you here, but you're able to think independently and actually examine facts rather than advertising and marketing.

Do you ever wonder why we consume so much?  After taking some marketing courses I've come to the firm belief it's marketing's fault.  They are THAT good at what they do.  They use what we've learned from modern Psychology and used it to push the right buttons (hmmm...just like a robot).  Ralph Nader warned against consumerism and he is looking more and more right.


I'm 29 and father of two young boys. My wife is fairly accepting that we just don't know what lurks around the corner. I've told her I'm a doomer. She gets it. She's less interested in making changes and more interested in enjoying the time we've got. Like Dan Ur said, "Have fun, and do what you need to do to have fun and stay as sane as you want to, and don't worry about it."

I've laid it all out for my parents as well (they are in their late fifties). They logically understand it all. They understand the arguments for peak oil, global warming, overshoot, etc. However, they are not interested in subscribing to it. My dad is an engineer, my mom a public health officer. They are bright people. But I think their experience has been that of better returns each year, with the prospect of improvement each year. They have been told that life can only get better. This is a message they've heard since they were babies, and it continues to be a strong message that they are receptive to. There have been few experiences in their lives to refute this prospect.

I don't want to make this an essay on age-ism, because that is short-sighted and without merit. There are plenty of baby-boomers involved in the debate, with voices on each side of the issue.

But I can identify with your statement about having the rest of your life ahead of you. I feel that to be true, and moreover it is true of my kids. It makes me sad in some ways (the idea that they will experience a lot of turmoil), but I don't think it saddens me as much as it saddens my mom (their grandma). Perhaps I'm just not as entrenched in the idea that life will always get better. Life is what it is. It is what you make of it. Life is impermanence. Accepting that this is true makes it easier to live happily.

Yes tanderson I think you hit it on the head. People tend to believe in what they've actually experienced. So, the Depression kids grew up to be great savers, and the Boomers at a gut level will always believe in Onward and Upward. The Founding Fathers were very much like that, since Onward and Upward was the fundamental experience for them - Ben Franklin had a miserable childhood but was able to go Onward and Upward very well. They all were. Those men founded this country and established its religion, of Onward and Upward lol.

I have a sibling 5 years older than I am, and it's amazing, they're a Boomer and I'm an X'er. We're quite close, but there are fundamental differences in how we think and see the world, how we believe. Their experience has been Onward and Upward, because after all, as a Boomer with tons of influential Boomer friends, how could it be otherwise?

Well, excceptions prove the rule and all that.  I'm a boomer doomer (age 55).  I'm looking forward to the upheaval in a macabre kind of way.  My partner is 44, and she gets it but refuses to think about it.  Partly the reason she avoids examining it too much is because the implications for the lives of her three daughters are so dire.

I gave my 82 year old father a runthrough of my wake-up-the-sheeple Powerpoint last weekend.  He got it instantly, and it scared the heck out of him.  He immediately started thinking who else I ought to give the poresentation to - our family has good left-wing political connections that need to hear the message.  My mother isn't all that interested - she understands the concept, but has enough to worry about in her life already, and the timeline is too long for her to get worked up over.

I then gave the same show to my 19 year old niece and her boyfriend.  They also got it, and even knew a fair bit about it already.  Their reaction was very matter-of-fact.  Sort of, "Yes, we know it's going to happen, but when you're our age life is all about change anyway, so what else is new?"

A fascinating set of reactions.

I've found that people with children tend to have different reactions than those without. Even boomers. The ones with children seem much less inclined to get it than those who do not have them. I think it has something to do with the parenting mindset -not wanting to think of anything bad ever happening to your kids.
I wonder if it's people with dependent children who have the hardest time with this?  If your kids are grown, or you never had any, you are free to contemplate calamity without feeling like you are visualizing a nasty future into existence for helpless children.
Exactly. At least, that's my theory. There are always exceptions of course but who wants to think about something nasty happening to their kids?
I'm a boomer semi-doomer with college-age kids. My experience has been a bit of the inverse. Kids, spouse and older parents all deny Peak Oil and think Dad has just gone Whacko --midlife crisis you know. Kids have seen nothing but suburban good life. My suspicion is that deep down inside they believe every grown-up gets a secret password when they reach 21 years of age and then you just enter it into the ATM and money magically comes out. The whole world is a series of magic acts for them. Turn the key and the car just "goes". Flip computer on and MySpace just happens. A secret "them" out there always comes up with better and better "technology". It just happens. It's a guaranteed form of magic. Sigh.  (--Maybe that is why I don't "get" Lord of the Rings. I can't get myself to believe in magic.)

I myself had seen Hubbert curves earlier in life but dismissed them as Chicken Little doomerism. It was only when I accidentally ran across a Matthew Simmons lecture that I realized this guy knows his tech and is not kidding. Went through the usual psych coping mechanisms: denial, anger, bargaining. Still in the bargaining stage and grudgingly sinking into acceptance.

Technology will get us out of the Quicksand!
If that doesn't work, The Market will throw us a Life Line.
It always ends happily. 10,000 movies can't be wrong.

I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I got Peak Oil immediately. I supposed in my case, the protective-parent mindset pushed me in the direction of "getting it". As far as I am concerned, better to face the doom, learn all I can, and use the information to help my daughter.

Of course, I was exposed to ideas of Peak Oil over a decade ago, when I worked for the Energy Analysis Program at LBNL. I didn't understand the full consequences then (I just thought in terms of rising gas prices and how they would effect me). So perhaps my situation is somewhat unique.


As a Boomer, my experience has mostly been one of Onward and Upward as well.  I bought into the consumer fairy tale. It was a sobering day for me when I realized that was the 'wrong' answer.  It took me a while to come around to that less-is-more way of thinking.

That said, I am happier now than I have been in a long time.  Go figure.

Here's an exercise I did a few years ago when I was trying to understand why my mother wasn't interested in PO.
I copied the ASPO graph from the front of their newsletter pasted it into a Word document, and then added three rectangles underneath it. One for my mothers life 1926 - 2010, one for myself 1965 - 2040, and one for my first son 1999 - 2080. I aligned then to the graph and there it is; mum has only ever known growth, I'll know both, and My son probably wont remember growth an only know depletion. I now cut Mum a lot more slack.
what do you know.  I was born in 65, and my son was born in 99.

I am shooting for 1965-2050.

My second wife, Trisha, and I are not together anymore, but she got it faster than most.  She carries on her live making is as fun as she can, though she has a ton of medical issues and if the times get really really bad, she will be one of the first to get tougher and stand her ground, but how long that is I have no clue.  She and I are still friends and it was the one thing that formed my opinions when we were still together about survivablity and all that.  

I am one who has been gathering the knowledge to be dropped anywhere in the USA and be able to survive at least a little while.  With just the clothes on my back.  Trisha could not due to medical issues.  

Teach your kids fun projects.  Growing and storing foods found in your yard and surrounding countryside and grown by you.  Teach them how to make fire without matches, All the basic old school boy scout things.  Teach them to repect the earth and the people that live on it, even if they don't always agree with their dieties or politics.  Teach them how to cook new foods and how to eat new foods.  Get out of your box and into the world around them.

I thank GOD that my dad taught me to love cooking, and to try foods even if I had not a clue waht were in them.  I am living with my parents dad 70, mom 76, and teaching them things I learned out there in the wilds of the world.

I have no childern of my own, neither does my brother, we are the last of my dad's line,  His older brother had 2 boys as well and they have 4 kids between them. A zero sum gain on my uncle's side and a negative gain on my dad's side.

Keep talking to your wife and keep having fun, its better to laugh than to cry, though crying is okay, but remember to get back to being positive, even if you feel the world is comeing down around your ears.  It's your Character that matters to your kids, and your wife and to others.

My parents kicked the bucket in their early 60s, working-class desperation and poverty will do that to you. Malnutrition as a kid taught me an open mind towards "new foods" as in, anything edible.

Boomers like you told me all about the extensive set of reasons I am only good for sweeping floors etc while H1B's and affirmative-action babies get the training and jobs. And it's all OK with you, because all the Righteous are going to Heaven right? Just like all those little Lebanese babies killed with American bombs, it's all OK cos Gawd sez so. Oh wait, the Lebanese kids didn't get a chance to get Baptized or hear Pat Robertson on the radio or whatever it takes, and they were in the way of Gawd-fearing American imperialism, too bad, they go to hell.

I don't listen to those types of folks that in my mind I class as false prophets.  

Yeah I know they are main stream and we have to listen to them say stupid things, and have stupid ideas and they taint the rest of us Christians.  But I am not one of thier ilk.

 And Though I could never get a true answer If I am a boomer or not.  I would have never told you :::

<<<Boomers like you told me all about the extensive set of reasons I am only good for sweeping floors etc while H1B's and affirmative-action babies get the training and jobs.>>>

You are good for what you are good at, and its up to you to get there. And along the way If I can help you get to where you are going just ask, I will offer you any help I can.

Everyone is created Equal, no one should be left behind.

I guess in the end , I will be out there helping anyone I can till I can't help anyone else.   Just ask former neighbors of mine, >  608 Kennan Rd. Huntsville Alabama, ask them about Charles or some knew as Bear,  ask them they can be my witnesses, black or white I treated them all as fellow humans..

Judge me for what I have done, not for what the guy on TV does.

My mother, 62, is open minded but generally resistant to dire scenarios. She says she has seen this many times before -- Chicken Littles -- like her ex-husband who stocked a "panic room" in the late 70s and his friend who scared us kids with his EOTWAWKI scenarios. ("Do YOU think YOU could kill a squirrel with a bow and arrow and EAT it?  If you don't you'll DIE!")

That said, when I explained peak oil to her, she took it very seriously and when we got to EROEI, her eyes got big. I think she gets it but doesn't see what she can do at this point in her life (no assets, not a lot of choices but to decide which kid to move in with), so her response is philosophical.

Tate423:  where are you in college?  Just wondering.  Please respond privately if you wish (go to my info area).
It's Ok.  I'm going to the University of MO @ St. Louis.  Known around here as UMSL and I'm finishing my finance degree with a minor in Economics.  Hopefully I can find an employer to pay for my MBA at Washington University in another couple years.  I'm a sponge when it comes to all the information I can get my hands on.
I take it you're in OR by your name or do you simply want to be there?  I plan to relocate the the Pacific NW or perhaps Vancouver BC.  If not there I hear St Paul is nice.
I'm a fifth-generation Portlander, live in SW suburbs, anthropologist on faculty at Linfield College.  LoveOregon is from my name (Tom Love) and this place, though I somewhat regret the moniker now since, in the words of beloved 70s governor Tom McCall, while we Oregonians really do want you to visit...just don't move here!  It's a rather gentle but deep-seated xenophobic, slam-the-gate-behind-you sentiment around these parts, which will be severely strained in coming powerdown as refugees of various sorts move to the PNW.
Sounds like my kind of place...my first pick would probably be Vancouver BC.  Portland is very pedestrian/bike friendly from what I read, along with the light rail network.
The ways od Madison Ave and Wall Street are 2/3 of the non-negotiable American Way of Life. The final 1/3 is some vague thing like civil liberties, rule of law, the right to choose to be homeless, the right to deny health care to the poor, etc.
I've come to the firm belief it's marketing's fault [err ... I mean brilliance].  They are THAT good at what they do.  They use what we've learned from modern Psychology and used it to push the right buttons (hmmm...just like a robot).


You of course understand you are bucking up against one of the foundational pillars of our Western culture? ... Free Will.

It is built into our Judaeo-Christian view of the world that all human beings are "intelligent" and have powers of "rational" choice.

To suggest that we might be robots --programmable, emotion machines-- why that is heresy.

Do you renounce?

No? Obviously you have learned quite a bit more in college than the average robot, err ... I mean college graduate, comes to understand. This might make you unhappy in future life. Remember the first commandment from the Garden of Eden: "And from the Tree of Knowledge thou shall not eat lest ye know you are naked."

What does it mean to be half "robot", to be programmed by MSM?

What I find interesting is my new glasses I wear in my final year.  I discovered PO shortly before my Spring semester ended.  It hit me like 22 tons of bricks and I was like Holy Shiite!

I had a money/banking econ theory class and I started asking questions and my econ professor rebuffed my attempts at understanding the concept.  He denied it at first and then admitted he saw a lot of benefits if oil hits $100 a barrel.  Now I couldn't ask the right questions at the time b/c I still didnt know enough to stand my ground.  So listened to my grair haired proff and proceeded to debunk everything he said.  I ran out of time, but I will probably be in another one of his classes next semester.

Things have changed.  I didnt take any summer courses and instead took a reality course and started learning everything I possibily could about PO, GW, and the dire financial position we've dug ourselves into.  I find it very hard now to discuss some issues without interjecting my firm objections to our current way of life.  

Last night I got into an "discussion" w/ my Biz writing instuctor over persuasive messages in advertising and of course I put it out there that we are easily influenced and it's pretty clear to see we will do whatever is necessary to consume!  Which included absorbing as much debt as possible to keep buying junk.  She didn't like that answer, but so what.  I can back up my position with facts and if you're too warped to step back and think for yourself I can help you little.

I've always been different, though I'm sure many feel the same.  People have told me that from very early and it's just who I am.  I'm proud to be different and frequently get into "discussions" over the simple concept of a "normal person" (i believe none exists).

Don't knock your Econ or Writing teachers. They mean well. It's just that they were "programmed" to be who they are. They can't help it.

As for "persuasive" writing, let me give you a tip: it's all about understanding "reading" --no, not you understanding how to read but rather you understanding how other people read. You need to be able to pretend you are them and need to see how they decode your words without having first known what you intended.

Agreed.  All I got out of last night's class was be congnizant of your audience as you attempt to persuade them.  I also liked the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action).  Kind of gives you a framework to work within.
This has been a very interesting thread.  My impressions have been that age, family situations etc doesn't correlate that much on how an individual comprehends and accepts or not information related to things like PO.  But, there are some similarities in the reaction or actions people take.  For example, most my friends with young children simply do not have much spare time to think about the issue, or get involved in some local community responses - when they are involved it tends to be related to schooling.  

What It Means to Hit 300 Million

Sometime in October the U.S. will join China and India in the very small club of countries with at least 300 million residents. This really is a big deal, like hitting 700 home runs in baseball. No other country is expected to reach the 300 million mark for at least 30 more years (if you are keeping score at home, Indonesia and Nigeria are the best bets).

But here are a couple of questions for you to ponder as the U.S. gets closer to the big 300: Is it coincidence that the three countries with the largest populations also have the most dynamic economies in the world? And is it coincidence that the most innovative major industrialized country, the U.S., also has the fastest growing population and the most young people?

No coincidence at all, as it turns out. Surprisingly, a nation with a large population may have an advantage when it comes to innovation and the adoption of new technologies. Why is that? For one thing, innovation is risky. Most new products and new technologies fail. But a big home market offers a very attractive prize for success: Lots and lots of potential customers. And that tends to encourage innovation.

True, of course...as long as the infinite-growth party continues.

I'm not one to disagree that population constraints will cause some "fun" in the years ahead, but one thing I've been wondering about after a conversation I had is how much research is pushed forward based on sheer bodies.

Considering that some of the greatest discoveries in several fields have been accidents while on a search for something else completely, what will having fewer bodies do to our pace of scientific/technological progress?

The old saying that if you put enough monkeys with typewriters in a room for enough time that they eventually will type out War and Peace I think is not a bad comparison to some of the scientific breakthroughs that humanity has had.  Admittedly we are more conciously directing that "random" chance for discovery, but a large part of it has to be a sheer numbers game of minds working on projects.

If/When powerdown/population decline occurs whether voluntarily or forcefully, how is this going to impact future advancements?

Will we see a slower pace of discovery and innovation due not only to a lack of viable markets for enticement, but also a lack of minds working on the projects?

Or another way to phrase it, was the rapid pace of advancement in the last 100 years due to the amount of knowledge we had accumulated to that point which brought us to a "critical mass" and rocketed us on through more knowledge, or due to the number of bodies we could throw at problems to solve, or a combination of both?

That is something Tainter discusses.  

Derek de Solla Price noted that in 1963 science was, even then, growing faster than either the population or the economy, and of all scientists who had ever lived, 80-90% were still alive at the time of his writing.

I think we'll be hard-pressed to stay in place, let alone increase our scientific discoveries.  Only a couple of generations ago, many children dropped out of school before graduating, in order to help their parents on the farm or with the family business.  I suspect that will become the norm again.  

I'm going to post lightly today, but in a brief comment, I think the Tainter logic as presented at TOD requires that we believe three things:

  1. That complexity, as broadly measured across whole societies is a useful measure.

  2. That return on research investment, as broadly measured across whole societies is a useful measure.

  3. That past, failed, societies are similar enough to our own that the broad measures from #1 and #2 are useful leading indicators for a crash.

... I'm afraid I can't believe any of the three, and so I self-select myself out of the group of supporters.
I have never read the book.  In my opinion there is some things that I can't just put my finger on that bother me about Applying the ideas of Tainter to All of us out here on planet Earth.

I have to many things going on in my head to ever get out there and post on some of my opjections, but today I have time and don't want to think about some things so here goes.

I like your point #3,  though I think we will go through a period of draw back.  Die off if you will, maybe there are just to many of us around to make it a total "that's all folks, the end"  Maybe it's my Christian beliefs that say if it comes crashing down so be it, but I am still going to do what I am supposed to do, so why sweat it to much.

But to many ways that the whole thing can fall.  Stepen King Wrote in "The Stand" about a crash due to viral warfare.  The CDC knows and hopes that some things just don't come knocking on the world's door.  Global Climate change and Species die-off through over fishing of our prime fish protein stocks, and many other factors can crash the worldwide population to a more sustainable level.
What ever that level is really anyone's guess, some of them a bit more educated than others, but it is still a guess.  Where we are in 50 years is not going to be anywhere near what anyone thinks.  

Go back 50 years and find the person that correctly guessed where we are today, and give them a prize.

We are not going to even get close guessing 10 years form now.

Bob Shaw talks about Issac Asimov's Foundation books, Asimov was a scientist that wrote science fiction very well. But even he and others could not predict where we will be in 10, or more years later.

My guess is this... It will be a very fun time to live, and some of us will be scared out of our socks, just like we are now.  Have fun, and do what you need to do to have fun and stay as sane as you want to, and don't worry about it.

Good advice! I'm trying really hard to follow your advice.
My guess is this... It will be a very fun time to live,

Dan, are you serious? Will it be fun while watching small children beg for a morsel of food? Will it be fun watching people die because of the want of food, or be killed because they have a morsel and someone else wants it. I grieve every day for the life my children and grandchildren will face. I am 68 and hope to be safely dead when the shit hits the fan, but I grieve greatly for those less fortunate than myself, that is those not nearly as old as I am. Yes, it is a great time to be old.

Ron Patterson

Dan Ur is Christian, and that belief must be factored in.
yeah, you satanic athiest!  :-()
That's me!! Honestly, there's a sort of cavelier attitude towards human suffering "Cos we're all going to Heaven, at least MY people are" among Christians that I do not think is helpful.

I'd have to say I'm a Benthamist, read up in Jeremy Bentham, interesting guy, his basic principle was the greatest happiness for the greatest number, which pretty much calls for, in the framework we talk about here, a greatly reduced population (we get to reduce it or Mother Nature does) in a balanced ecosystem.

<<<<That's me!! Honestly, there's a sort of cavelier attitude towards human suffering "Cos we're all going to Heaven, at least MY people are" among Christians that I do not think is helpful.>>>>>>

I agree with you.  If a Christian has that attitude I would ask them what they really think Christ would have said about it all?

Chances are they won't give you a great answer.  Cause they don't really know, in my humble opinion, they are misguided.

There will always be poor people in spirit and in purse strings.  But these are the very ones the rest of us Christians need to care about.  

When the Oil Peak happens some folks labeled Christians will fall short of the name they profess to carry on their heads.  But judge the rest of us, not by what they do, but by what we do.  In the end I will fail.  I will die and my dead body might or might not get buried.  But By Grace I am still a child of Christ.

And from a thread below or above, when I said have fun, I meant more smile and be cheerful,  yes to the dying, yes to the suffering.  Let your smile brighten a sad time, offer comfort, and when you can get them to smile too.  Death might be death but everyone is going to die, leaving life with a frown and horrid feeling is not the way I would want to go, I want to have a smile on my face thank you.

 AND yes I have been close enough to death's door I knew what aftershave he was wearing that day.  But I had a smile on my face, ask my nurses, ask my doctors.  E.mail me if you need the contact numbers!

"Greatest happiness for the greatest number" isn't even well defined. Does that mean that median happiness should be as high as possible? Mean happiness? Perhaps as many as possible should be above a certain point on the happiness scale.
Broad brush stroke you paint there.  I am a Christian also, and I'm very aware of the potential grief PO will have.

Also keep in mind that when "fun" is being used to talk about uncertainty in the future, it is often meant in a sarcastic manner usually to take the "edge" off of a bad topic.  I won't speak for Dan Ur, but that's what I took away from it.

I personally often say something is going to be "fun" when in fact a more accurate term may be interesting or challenging.  Surviving in a PO doomers nightmare will be "fun".  It will present challenges(often life and death ones) to a great many people.  I personally find challenges(or rather the conquering of challenges) to be fun literally, and hence I often associate the two in a sarcastic comic way.

Will there be a lot of misery, suffering, and death.  If the doomers ideals pan out, yes.  But even in those scenarios there will be stories of compassion, heroics, and triumph.  And I hope and pray that I will have the courage cunning and faith to not only survive, but eventually to rebuild.  It will be a hard road if it really gets that bad, but the oppurtunity for "fun" or to put it in plainer English, to conquer a major problem will be like no other in human history.

Will there be a lot of misery, suffering, and death. If the doomers ideals pan out, yes.

I am deeply insulted by that remark. It is my ideal that children suffer and die while begging for food? I think not! Such a remark is so insulting that it does not deserve a further reply.

Ron Patterson

Sorry I did not mean to indicate that the doomers ideals will cause the suffering.  Allow me to correct my word choice, and replace "ideals" with "predictions".

I in no way want to insinuate that those who believe all is lost is somehow the reason for future suffering if their predictions turn out correctly.

So "doomers" are people who think that "all is lost"?

Who would you be referring to?

I can't think of anyone here who fits that description (yes, there are people who see lots of hardship, but that does not mean "all is lost").

I think it is your interpretation of people saying things that make you afraid. And fear undermines the ability for critical analysis (you shut yourself off).
If you react like that to people's words, I would suggest you consider the possibility that that is also the way you evaluate the facts.

And hence you draw different conclusions than those you conveniently generalize as "doomers".

Wait, so what is the definition of a Doomer?
1/ to me, it's a stupid word that implies god knows what to god knows who
your definition is "all is lost", but many others here use it in varying other definitions.
2/ since it very obviously means different things to different people, it's useles, meaninglesss as well as stupid
3/ see above: it apparently means whatever someone in need of generalizations wants it to mean. that says more about who uses it than about who (s)he heaps together

Are the people here who analyze Hubbert curves and linearizations doomers?
They just about all reach the same conclusion, you know, we're running out of the stuff.
Or are the doomers those who speak in critical terms about ethanol's promise to replace oil?
Or is it those who doubt any alternative to oil is feasible because of oil's inherent qualities?
Or maybe those who point out that people might not peacefully sit down and die and make room for others?
Or are people talking about melting icecaps worse than all of the above?

You get the drift by now, I hope: there is no meaning. So don't use it, it's silly and confusing. And meaningless.

I find it disturbing how this forum gets into "insult hurling" over who is a doomer, survivalist, moderate...cornucopian(gads).    But lately,  there has been a lot of doomer bashing.

It is a good question,  what is a doomer?

If I believe that our global society is a freight train steaming for a cliff, and we are still shoveling coal...does that make you a doomer?    

If I believe that people will not quietly go off and die without any violence when things get really bad...does that make you a doomer?

If I believe that the planet will shed roughly 80% of the human population in the next century...does that make you a doomer?

What if I don't care about all that and I am just trying to live through whatever may come and plan for it, does that make me a doomer?

I prefer PLANNER...everyone else is just talking!  

There are a lot of lessons in planning for your family, which is why I think you need to plan for yourself first then the community...good luck nationally and globally.

It's all about population!

I'd give some explanations of how I use the term myself.

If you believe that energy consumption per individual also follows a bell-shaped curve (and not just oil extraction), then you are almost certainly a doomer. This is Duncan's olduvai theory.

If you believe that irresistible social laws bottoming out in human nature and/or economic law makes all forms of damage-minimizing response impossible and/or dangerous, then you are a doomer (and incidentally, a historicist). "Jevon's paradox", as presented by the AMPOD, is an example of such a prophetic social law. For non-PO examples of the kind, see Marx's theory of capital.

Believing that international banking will immediately and catastrophically collapse after it dawns on them that energy supply will not grow forever, then I think you may be a doomer, too. (I wonder if the AMPOD doesn't predict this too on his website)

If you think there will be rioting in the streets as the supermarkets suddenly run out of food, then you're a doomer.
(oh, just look in this thread for examples)

If you believe that the elites will retreat into high-altitude blimps and underground colonies and establish an eco-fascist millitia of EarthMarines(tm) to protect the Arks from the starving desperate ex-suburbanites, then you are a doomer.(Wasn't that you, Totoneila?)

If you believe that small scale local production is already more energy effective than large scale + transport, then you're not necessarily a doomer, but you're probably a hippie.(I found this one in a book by the LILI foundation)

If you believe that "elected goverments" are inherently incapable of facing our current problems, and that decisions should be made "by fiat" and everyone who dislikes it should go in a bar and sulk, then you're an anti-democratic doomer. (Antonietta III held/holds these opinions) Ditto if you believe that peak oil heralds a glorious era of  National Localism and fascist rule (British National Party, at least parts of it).

I believe I have insulted enough people now. To me, doomer is not a nice word, but you noticed that... In the end, I wonder if doomers aren't a big part of the problem with peak oil. What's certain is that a lot of their predictions could be self-fulfilling if only enough people believed them, from the National Localism to the Earthmarines.

Considering that there have been other threads on these forums debating the precise nature of what constitutes a doomer, I think your attempt to guess what I believe to be a doomer is at best silly, at worst an attempt to paint me in a corner.

Correct me if I'm wrong but some of the "doomer" camp believe that in order to bring humanity to a stable level of population post peak would require the deaths of of about 4 to 5 billion people currently.  The goal of course to place population levels at or under 2 billion globally(some believe even lower).  That is a pretty bleak scenario and given the amount of war, famine, and generally anti-social behavior that would occur to get to under 2 billion, I'm thinking that with perhaps a few pockets of exceptions, the idea that "all is lost" is not too far off the mark.  The "All is lost" mentality regarding massive death tolls on the human populace and resource depletion is shared by the way with some pretty high thinkers, including Steven Hawking.  

The All is Lost if XYZ calamity happens mentality is especially important to those who dream of moving humanity off this rock.  Humanity has its chance Right now, and if it makes the wrong decisions, the ability for humanity to ascend to space may be forever lost.  So does that help to give perspective on my viewpoint?  Sure if we fail at this junction humanity will survive to farm another day, but we will not move out into the stars.

Now I know there are "lighter" doomers out there who see only localized dieoff in certain regions as the outcome, or a reversion to a more farm centric civilization as a doomer model, and even those who think that a fairly high technology civilization could be maintained but not for all the population, and in general would be characterized by oppressive governments.

I know there are plenty of other scenarios ranging from near all out destruction to milder scenarios, but all and all, the general doomer principle is that after PO and other resource contraints bite us, life is going to be worse (much worse) than it is now at least for some amount of time and a considerable amount of the remaining population.

So considering that the people here can't seem to make up their minds of what constitutes a doomer or not, why am I being held to a different standard when it comes to judging what a doomer is or is not?

Keep in mind, I actually consider myself to be a doomer depending on the course humanity takes within next few decades(perhaps years).  I remain hopeful that we can avert a "collapse" and maintain a society with enough technological capability to someday conquer the solar system and maybe someday the stars, but I also realize that without some changes in our handling of resources, we are not getting off this rock.

In otherwords, I'm not yet resigned to the notion that we can't change course, but I am very aware that without a change in course we are in for some pretty rough times.

So tell me... am I really just that far in left field on my view of what constitutes a doomer or not?

What is a doomer?

The answer is quite simple. A doomer is someone who believes we are already deep into overshoot and the population must at some point in the future, collapse.

The very best book ever published on the subject was Overshoot by William Catton. The next best book ever published on the subject was The Spirit in the Gene by Reg Morrison. But you do not have to read either of these two books to find out what a doomer really is. David Price, who died in 1998 was a doomer. His short essayEnergy and Human Evolution can be read in about ten minutes. Red it and you will never again question what a doomer is. From then on, you will know.

Operative mechanisms in the collapse of the human population will be starvation, social strife, and disease. These major disasters were recognized long before Malthus and have been represented in western culture as horsemen of the apocalypse. They are all consequences of scarce resources and dense population.
David Price, Energy and Human Evolution

Ron Patterson

You won't get much disagreement from me on that definition of doomer.  As for this tangent, let me simply say I apologized and corrected my word choice.  I don't view doomers negatively or as a cause in and of themselves.  But I stick by my original point in that in this medium of text, sarcastic uses of words such as "fun" can sometimes be missed.

I've found when dealing with a text medium, that it is better to give the benefit of a doubt to the writer's intended tone, than to go galavanting off to the extremes with his conveyance of information.

I dunno...a lot of people seem to think anyone more pessimistic than themselves is a doomer.  

And there are some people who aren't bothered by a large drop in population, but are bothered by a loss of technology.  So, 80% dieoff doesn't really strike them as doomerish, but no Internet or horses instead of cars is deep, dark doom.

I remain hopeful that we can avert a "collapse" and maintain a society with enough technological capability to someday conquer the solar system and maybe someday the stars,

Ah ah... the conquer mentality raises its ugly head again... Same old, same old

Having fouled this planet; having over the last few decades left tons of detritus in orbit around this planet... and only last week crashing a lump of metal into the moon just to see how the dust flies!! You are suggesting we be let loose to wreck the solar system & beyond??

It's been said many times before...but until the human species learns how to live on THIS planet... it should not be allowed off it...  

to those who dream of moving humanity off this rock.

Exploring the universe... that I can understand... it is in the nature of man... moving humanity off this rock...why would you want to do that???

Ah ah... the conquer mentality raises its ugly head again... Same old, same old

Sorry to burst your bubble but given the evolutionary struggle our species has gone through to arrive here, and the continued intra-species struggle we continue along, we are by nature designed to conquer.  It is what we have evolved into, and yes as a Christian, I believe we were evolved into the baddest meanest organism on this planet.

It's been said many times before...but until the human species learns how to live on THIS planet... it should not be allowed off it...  

It could be argued that we have learned to live on this planet extremely well.  So well in fact we pushed all competition aside, and are left with only competing amongst ourselves.  The choices then are either we fight with each other for resources (and given the current technology that would be bad for us and most other life on Earth), or we find a way to expand our sphere of resources beyond just the globe.  One could argue from an evolution stand-point that we beat the Earth, whats next?

Exploring the universe... that I can understand... it is in the nature of man... moving humanity off this rock...why would you want to do that???

Because there is a huge galaxy and eventually universe to explore, learn from, and grow into.  I know the infinite growth idea is very unpopular here, and given the confines we find ourselves on this planet, that unpopularity makes a lot of sense.  But when you get off this rock, the game changes, or rather the game gets lengthened.  Is inifinite growth possible?  No, but is a lot more growth possible out there than on Earth alone, I believe most certainly.  But to attain those resources and that future growth, we need to be restrained and wise in these coming years and invest our resources properly to see us move into that space(pun intended) successfully.

Conquering space is the goal, and that purpose is one that fits our evolutionary progression in my opinion.  Non-expansionist ideals simply leaves us as being a sitting duck for the next sizable asteroid or some other calamatous event.

Telumehtar:Hate to burst your bubble but you are nothing but a very intelligent ape. The only evidence that there is another (or a great many) places in the universe like this planet which is conducive to mammalian life comes from old Star Trek episodes. I like the ones where they find the planets that are overflowing with nothing but hot chicks.  
Not saying space is going to be a very friendly place.  I fully expect it to be hostile, and I expect the exploration and colonization of space to be a dangerous and high risk venture.  But just because something is dangerous, and high risk doesn't mean we should automatically avoid it.

As for planets that are or are not habitable....  You have no better knowledge than I about the availability of those planets in the galaxy.  We have theories and models that give us an educated guess as to what to expect out there, but without actually seeing what is out there, we cannot definitively, or scientifically say that habitable planets are overly rare, or common.

Our current models believe them to be rare, but then new discoveries and advances in space exploration change our view of the universe almost yearly.  For instance the discovery of several additional planet-like objects has brought the whole Pluto argument into focus again.

Or with new techniques in viewing spectrums of energy we have detected large planets (with gravities too strong for humans) that possess what appears to be signiture similar to water.

But all the debate about space will be moot unless we can manage our resources here effectively.

"Not saying space is going to be a very friendly place.  I fully expect it to be hostile, and I expect the exploration and colonization of space to be a dangerous and high risk venture.  But just because something is dangerous, and high risk doesn't mean we should automatically avoid it."


Famous last words.

What happens if (hypothetically speaking) we go out into deep space only to find a race of Muslims who are about 200 years ahead of us and thus have all the weaponary necessary to totally kick our asses and then conquer Earth and turn into a planet of Islam?

Just asking.

You guys should look up the Fermi Paradox and, perhaps, ask if something like petrocollapse (and die-off) could possibly be the fate of most (if not all) innovative technophilic species in the Universe. Petrocollapse certainly would explain the "silence", or lack of any decent scientific evidence of interstellar civilizations.

Nature seems to have limits for many things. Peak oilers may have stumbled across the limit that keeps a lid on pesky anthropoid monkeys from taking over the galaxy.

Just a thought...


Petrocollapse certainly would explain the "silence", or lack of any decent scientific evidence of interstellar civilizations.

One reason among many, my own WAG about Fermis' paradox is this :
  • Even when intelligent beings evolve in some alien environment there is no compelling reason that they would develop technology, for lack of motivation (dolphins, orcas, seem quite intelligent) or for lack of ressources (metallic ores, fossil fuels, see also related arguments in Guns, Germs and Steel).

  • Intelligent beings ressourceful and agressive enough to develop technology crash their environment and/or civilization in a very short period of time (like we are seemingly about to do), such mere blips are therefore unnoticeable along the scale of cosmological time.

  • Intelligent beings ressourceful, technologically savvy and WISE enough, just KEEP QUIET in their home planet.
I suggest we heed Woody Allens' advice:

Mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to extinction. Let us pray we choose correctly.

This kinda sounds like The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, but in reverse religion-wise:
Talk about irony.  I came across this gem today about changes in our modelling of planetary systems.  Granted it's just a model using the available data (which is limited), but funny to see that there is already a perspective change on the possiblity of "Earth-like" planets coming from our measurements of gravitational pulls, and increased detection of energy spectrums from various sources around the galaxy.


Who knows... maybe one of them is even overflowing with hot chicks.  

I hope so.

Even I might have a chance there!

repeat after me:
there is no goal in evolution, it's a dumb reactive process.
There is no goal in evolution, it's a dumb reactive process.

It's worth repeating.

Never said evolution had a goal.  I said we have a goal, or at least some of us.  And that goal happens to fit well with our evolutionary progression.  Was the force of evolution steering us to explore the stars?  Doubt it, but the place where Evolution has brought us has made us into a species most capable of leaving this planet.
And that goal happens to fit well with our evolutionary progression.

Correction please, HAPPENED.
Now it happens to fit VERY WELL with our demise.

Pardon me but unless you happen to be a person from the future travelled back in time, I don't think our demise has "happened".

You see inevitable demise.  I see oppurtunity.  
You suffer from defeatism.  I suffer from hope.

Perhaps in a few years/decades we will see whose delusion was right.

You suffer from defeatism. I suffer from hope.

I do not suffer.
I can only be pleasantly surprised if you are right.
While you will certainly be grieving if I am right.

you will certainly be grieving if I am right.

No he won't. It's a self-curtailing paradox. The "demised" never grieve. They are after all, already demised.

It is only the cocky optimist who crows every morning -certain as always that his loud noises made the sun rise. :-)

You can certainly believe that energy consumption per capita will peak (or has already peaked) and will decline, and still be an optimistic, non-doomer.  The link between energy growth and economic growth or quality of life improvements is the key difference here.
I think I probably fit that description, somewhat.  As the fuel dwindles below critical levels, I think humanity will burn every tree and eat every animal until there's nothing left.  People are very smart and adaptable with regard to resource extraction from the environment around them.  We'll consume everything, and evolution will start over with algae and roaches.

The only thing I can think of which might prevent this would be a huge (like way over 50%) reduction in population in advance of true resource shortages, if such a reduction were possible without completely poisoning the biosphere.  Not that I advocate such an outcome, or believe I'm likely to survive it; it still strikes me as the only real hope for humanity.

Predictions aren't neutral, especially not speculative predictions of a system you're a part of and which is influenced by your statements. There is such a thing as a false prophet, and they aren't innocent.
Can we please stop putting people down because of their religion? It helps no one, and causes more problems.

Saying all Chrisitans are a certain way is the same as saying all Muslims are terrorists -or all atheists are satanic!

I did not mean it that way and you know it.

Suffering has gone on as long as man has been walking on this planet.   Am I to cry for everyone that does not make it out of life alive.  YES.  But I am also amoung the living and to them I have to say, enjoy life.

Will I see my parents grow old and die?  Yes.

Will I see both of my ex-wives get sick and die due to their medical conditions long before me?  Yes.

I will cry my tears and go on.  My Faith is that this is not the end.  We never did meet when you lived in Huntsville.  Likely we never will in the future.  But besides that, my faith says that yes their will be suffering, and not much I can do about most of it, except to minister to the living.  We might all die when a rock from space kills us, but I refuse to not laugh about the little things that are still a joy to me.  That road leads to depression and hopeless aimless wanderings.  I know I have been down those roads before and I do not like them.

We all are in one way or another just going to have to keep on going, might as well find a smile on your face when you can.  


Right on.

The worst aspect of TOD is the large percentage of people who seem to view the world only as a "horrible place."  They drone on endlessly about overpopulation while there are large swaths of open parkland in their backyards.  They whine about pollution, meanwhile the US is orders of magnitude cleaner then it was 40 years ago.

I'm not saying things are perfect, but I can't believe the number of people that were genuinely UPSET over the Jack find yesterday!

Innovation and technology are forbidden words around here.  I just can't figure out when all the "Organic Farmers" find time to post.  :)

Innovation & Tech aren't forbidden here; they have been demystified and analyzed.  When you get down to it, tech is a product of increasing complexity and many here subscribe to Diamond's belief in the crash of complex societies. PO figures as a part of this.  
Diamond's theories about the "crashes of civilizations" have nothing of the inevitability streak that we see in the doomers. On the contrary, he says we can and should do things with our problems.
I think the main reason that people were upset by the GoM announcement yesterday is because it reassures people ("the masses" if you'll forgive the arrogance) that there is no problem; chicken little was wrong again, when in fact it does nothing to change the predicament that we have gotten ourselves into.

"does nothing to change the predicament"

An extra 400k bpd in the wake of rapidly declining imports (by 2013) does nothing?

I'd call it a Silver BB.  Yeah, it doesn't change the fact that we're going to be hitting peak soon, but it could certainly help the transition.

I'm not discounting the incredible challenges that need to be overcome to pump this field, but in the wake of peak oil there is going to be tremendous incentive to conquer them and get the oil.

It's a huge gift.

It's a huge gift for the companies that will be making fat $ off it.  400kbpd is like 3% of our current daily consumption, and will be an even smaller percentage by the time this oil comes onto the market.  It does not change the overall problem in the slightest.
The "transition" will be delayed by any event that makes us think that we have more time to do the transition.  The "transition" will consist of burning everything within and out of site. In fact, that is the current plan if you look at all the coal fired plants on the drawing boards. After the "transition", all we will have left is a black, largely worthless planet. I use the term "we" loosely, because there won't be much "we" left to talk about the "we".

Oh, but wait. Hydrogen will save us. Bush tells us so.

An extra 400k bpd in the wake of rapidly declining imports (by 2013) does nothing?

Right now we have 6K bpd, in test.  We don't have 400K.  The 3-15 Gb numbers are partly optimism, partly politics (i.e., offshore drilling), and partly stock prices (Devon suddenly looks like a juicy takeover target).

If we actually do get 400K bpd from Jack for any substantial length of time, great!  Terrific!  Problem is, at this stage it's still a problematic possibility and it was reported as an immediate solution to all our oil woes.  (Personally, I think if we see anything near 400K bpd from Jack in production, we should consider ourselves very lucky indeed.  Let's face it - it's a desperation well.)

We need to slow down demand, and it may well turn out that overoptimistic stories like this will help drive demand up farther than 400K bpd will mitigate.  Good news can and does kill.

I'm not discounting the incredible challenges that need to be overcome to pump this field, but in the wake of peak oil there is going to be tremendous incentive to conquer them and get the oil.

Only at pretty high per-barrel prices.  As has been pointed out many times, we're not hooked on oil (got plenty of that) - we're hooked on extremely cheap oil.  Even in the best case scenario, Jack will help keep the lights on a little while longer in 2020, but won't do much of anything in keeping Walmart doing brisk business in 2010.  Jack's not another Prudhoe Bay, not by a long shot.  

I'm sure there's something burnable as a fuel source somewhere else in the solar system (Io maybe?), but incredible challenges stand in our way there as well.  Doesn't mean that we should assume that we'll magically overcome them just because incentive exists.

Only at pretty high per-barrel prices.  As has been pointed out many times, we're not hooked on oil (got plenty of that) - we're hooked on extremely cheap oil.

But wouldn't that be the desirable outcome?  Expensive oil?  Expensive oil, will allow oil to be around while we find cheaper alternatives, including possibly conservation, and or renewables.

Recently my wife and I had to go shopping for a car.  We deliberately decided that the car must get at least 30+ Highway and 22+ city.  We don't buy new cars because of our financial philosophy so that ruled out most hybrids (at least for this year) even if they were used cause even used hybrids are holding too much value and are beyond what we want to spend for a car.

What we ended up with 2005 KIA Spectra, which met our criteria.  Before this car, the concept of buying a car for fuel efficiency wouldn't have even made the top 10 reasons for us.  With the last 3 years however, the fuel efficiency of our vehicles has moved up significantly in the ranks of reasons and falls right in behind foor doors at number two on the list.

We will also be shopping for a house, and like many of my co-workers, the criteria for house shopping lately has been a house closer to work.  Maybe not biking distance, but no longer is a 1 hour driving distance viewed as affordable.  Fortunately I already live within 10 minutes drive of where I work so I only have to fill up my beat up old Mazda once every 3 weeks.

Point is expensive oil is impacting consumer choices.  The hybrids are gaining popularity, high efficiency vehicles are being marketed by car manufacturers, people are considering distance in housing choices, and people are becoming aware of oil's implications even if only indirectly.  

Large finds of hard to reach oil(thus expensive oil) will provide the impetus to prod users into other choices, while still holding up this infrastructure until something can supplant it(note I didn't say replace, because as my above examples point out, its the changing of behavior based choices i.e. lifestyle which the market is currently reacting on).

Expensive oil is precisely what we need, its buys time with the current technology, but makes it unattractive for people to stay on it for too long.


Great post.

Expensive energy makes conservation fiscally prudent.  Cheap energy encourages waste.

Conservation does not happen overnight, but it's a lot easier (and can happen much quicker) to conserve 1% then it is to build a nuclear power plant to generate that 1%.


But wouldn't that be the desirable outcome?  Expensive oil?  Expensive oil, will allow oil to be around while we find cheaper alternatives, including possibly conservation, and or renewables.

Well, ultimately it's the only possible outcome, desirable or not.  People just grossly underestimate the effects of truly expensive oil.

The problem is, it's not just about people driving cars.  It's about the cross-country trucking system delivering supplies, the agricultural system dependent on tons of petro-based fertilizers and pesticides, suburban property values and home construction, and the enormous amount of petroleum being used in the basic materials technologies that we depend on every day.  Much of the new tech folks are counting on requires large amounts of fossil fuels not just for factory fuel but for actual building materials themselves.  Higher oil prices mean higher prices for everything; after a certain point, exponentially.

The biggest problem, though, is that none of these issues exist in isolation.  They interact with each other, each problem making the next that much harder to solve.  Suddenly - very, very quickly - high oil prices caused by supply shrinkage result in extreme market volatility, which puts the whole system on highly shaky footing because the problem is growing fast while our ability to solve it is dropping fast.  Jack could easily be a lot more expensive in production than anyone dares to dream today.

If the oil problem was just about choosing between an SUV and a hybrid, this issue would have been over decades ago.  But we use cheap oil for a LOT more than just cars.  We literally depend on it for our lives.

The real problem is that there is no combination of alt energies that will replace extremely cheap oil in keeping the system we have going right now.  It's simply not possible.  We have to rethink everything, and transportation is just the start.

Again, I hope Jack is all that and a bag of chips.. but even if it is, it doesn't come close to solving the problem or even mitigating it.  We need to rethink the whole works, and bubbly media optimism gives us just that more excuse not to think about it for another year.

Oh - and don't forget the insane amount of debt there is in society, especially in the United States.  A staggering percentage of our population desperately needs the economy to keep growing at a 2-5% annual rate, just to keep up with loan interest rates.  That's a particularly nasty implosion waiting to happen, with only a serious energy shortage needed to kick it off.
For what it's worth, at the gross level:

The entire fertilizer industry uses less than 2% of world energy consumption, and this is overwhelmingly concentrated in the production of ammonia. The ammonia industry used about 5% of natural gas consumption in the mid-1990s.



I've seen people quote the fertilizer concern, but if it's for food, I expect it will get one of the last 2% availale.  Not an immediate concern.

The EIA says closer to 3%, but that's neither here nor there.  Unless we're planning to heavily subsidize farming far more than it already is, or to nationalize it completely (and assuming the government is financially and logistically capable at that point), even that 2-3% use is going to result in serious repercussions as oil prices climb.  (And yeah, the incentive would be there to replace petrochems with cheaper, more effective, non-petro fertilizers and pesticides.. but if it were that simple, we'd be doing it now.  And it still takes energy and raw materials to make the replacement.)

Some more statistics for comparison, courtesy of the EIA.  Personally, I find it interesting that a full third of U.S. oil consumption in 2004 (a bit shy of 7 million barrels) wasn't in transportation at all.

The numbers regarding motor (cars, trucks, etc.) vs. nonmotor (I presume aircraft, boats, etc.) transport don't seem to be broken down here in terms of raw crude use, but if you compare motor gasoline consumption to overall oil consumption, factoring out non-car gas usage, it's pretty easy to imagine that passenger car (i.e., no industrial trucking) use probably accounts for about a quarter to a third of overall oil consumption in the United States.  Most of the rest of motor transport gas is likely going to the interstate trucking system.

At any rate, the lions share of U.S. oil use isn't going into passenger car gas tanks.  It goes into operating the infrastructure of society in general, in many, many capacities.

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't strive to conserve gas on the passenger car level.  Not at all.  But it's just the barest start, and frankly little more than a feel-good measure at this point; meanwhile, the average enlightened Joe today thinks that everyone buying hybrids solves everything.  The oil problem is a lot more than just a car problem.  It's actually a massive engineering and logistical nightmare.

Valisade, when arguing with odograph make shorter arguments and go for the kill!

even that 2-3% use is going to result in serious repercussions as oil prices climb.

Just highlight that with one or two sentences, don't go into lengthy details, people get lost in the details.

I'm not arguing.  I'm just talking numbers.
He's not arguing with Odogragh either. He's insulting him. Luckily for the quality of dialogue on this site, Odogragh hasn't been initimidated.
He's not arguing with Odogragh either. He's insulting him.

I don't see that, and I leave it to no one insulting odogragh, with good reasons and feeling...

Don't you think in any industrial society, that if the food supply were truly threatened, that the goverment would simply solve the natural gas for fertilizer problem by mandate?

There are more serious problems in nations on the edge, so to speak.  Actually, I sometimes feel that if we left aside unrealistic (yes, I said that) fears for ourselves, we might be more interested in their plight.

BTW, on oil use in the rest of the economy, I'm one of those people who thinks there is a lot of efficiency and conservation just waiting to happen.  How many will fly with higher air fares?  How many jet skis, snowmobiles, personal-etc. will be sold?

And again, if we REALLY got in tight straights a lot of that could just be banned by mandate - even in a democracy.

They whine about pollution, meanwhile the US is orders of magnitude cleaner then it was 40 years ago.

We can derive from this an interesting "correction factor" for all your statements, that will be about : x (3 / orders of magnitude)

Dan wrote:

I did not mean it that way and you know it.

Dan, I only know what you said. And you said it would be a fun time to live. That is exactly why I asked you if you were serious. We often misspeak and I was giving you a chance to correct what you said. I thought perhaps you had made a mistake but I was not sure and wanted clarification. To my mind it will be the most miserable time to live, even for the survivors.

Suffering has gone on as long as man has been walking on this planet.   Am I to cry for everyone that does not make it out of life alive.  YES.  But I am also among the living and to them I have to say, enjoy life.

Yes, there has been much suffering in the past. Our ancestors suffered hard lives. Many saw half their children die in their lifetimes. But we live in the gilded age. Our lives have been soft compared to our ancestors. That is why so many of them looked to a better life in the hereafter. They believed there just had to be some meaning in their suffering, there just had to be a better life after this one.

But we enjoy our lives far greater than they ever did. And we enjoy our life now to a far greater extent than our children and grandchildren will, if they are lucky enough to survive. It will be the most terrible time to live. I cannot even contemplate it without cringing, and thinking of my grandchildren. It will not be fun.

But I go back to Huntsville for the weekend every two or three months. Drop me a line and we will get together and have dinner sometimes.

Ron Patterson

MY whole paragraph,

My guess is this... It will be a very fun time to live, and some of us will be scared out of our socks, just like we are now.  Have fun, and do what you need to do to have fun and stay as sane as you want to, and don't worry about it.


I said also in the same sentence some of us are scared out of our socks.   I said words that you misused to form your dire thoughts of my serious comment.

I will have to be careful and make sure you and others understand that some comments of mine are a bit tongue in cheek sarcastic turns of phrase.  

The world is a scary place.  Smile while you can, you will not get out of it alive.  And yes suffering goes on, and yes kids are dying in the millions every year, and so there are tons of death and distruction going on. My parents are going to DIE.  Again let me repeat, What else is new???

Call me what you will. I am going to enjoy what I have.  I am not healthy, I am not rich, I only have a van.  

You took the first part of my sentence without listening to the second half of it.  

I will be in Huntsville in a few days, staying less than a week.  Visiting my ex-wife who will be in the area for a week.

Just finished reading Tainter's "Collapse..."

Having read most of the PO books, all the biggies, I appreciated his more general and historical perspective.  Also his eloquent style; so many new books use what I call "TV-speak", a writing style that's supposed to be more realistic.  He's a good, old-fashioned 'English-style' articulate writer.  

In reply to Odograph, above, I think what Tainter was trying to do was find commonalities amongst various collapses.  The book is like a 'meta-study' of collapse theory, where someone looks at all the past studies and tries to gain insight.  His intention, IMO, is to come up with a theory that holds across different societies, cultures, and times.

Thus complexity is not really a measure, it's just a fact, an unavoidable by-product, and it brings costs with it - diminishing marginal returns. IOW, if we were a world of 6.5 billion hunter/gatherers, we wouldn't have the costs of complexity, but that just isn't our row to hoe.  Thus #1 IS key.  Complexity jumps ahead, but the inevitable costs relentlessly follow... So it's not really a 'measure'...

I agree that return on research investment (#2) doesn't leap out as a civilization-breaker.  I think he needed to use some numbers/charts to back up his theory and that's one that was available...

In the last 6 months or so I've become accustomed to viewing a lot of what's going on in the world through the PO lens (as i bet many TOD'ers do), now I appreciate being able to add a 'diminishing marginal returns' filter as well.

My favorite things from the book are:  #1 that in a complex world, we'll all collapse together when we go.  #2  Collapse is a choice that improves the lot of most everday folk (at least in the past...).  and #3  A society may choose to deal with a problem... by choosing to NOT solve it.  For example, what if we dealt with the fuel-for-300 million-US cars-problem by NOT solving it?

I especially agree with your point #2. To classify whats coming as a collapse presupposes that what we have now is a success.  I think there will be a very different world but doing things locally, working hard, and being with friends and family (assuming no bad wars) may be a much more fulfilling life than a million blogspots, spongebob, atlantic city and no hair gel on airplanes.
As it happens, I've been off doing my part today to build more web complexity ;-).

It strikes me that what I'm working on is totally disposable, in any kind of crisis (or even in a venue of higher costs).  In the meantime, is it really harmfull?

Or is it good that our economy can generate jobs for people, keep people occupied, with creating harmless complexity?

.. I'd certainly hate to see everyone in the office out of work ... in a world with less complexity and fewer jobs.

300 million brians i·ÁíIe US ... do we want them all watching the grass grow?
static on the line, reposting:

300 million brians in the US ... do we want them all watching the grass grow?

No.  That's not sustainable.  It's our petroleum-fueled societal complexity that allows so many people to be not involved with the direct production of food and other necessities.
I think this is somewhat separable.  It is certainly true that agricultural productivity frees hands/brains to create other sorts of complexity.  It is also true that the petroleum provides an important energy input for agricultural productivity.

It is also true that the petroleum used to grow staple crops is relatively low:

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

As I've said before, it depends on what you compare it to ... farm use is  10% of on-road diesel, and maybe 5% total Distillate Fuel Oil consumption.  And that's all farm use, including growing grapes for champagne, etc.

So again, if we can produce those calories with a tiny fraction of our fossil fuel stream, why not be happy that workers like me can get a job creating harmless complexity?

(Note - some sources cheat in my opinion, when they total energy for "the total food production and distribution system."  They actually add out to include totally disposable uses of energy, like drive through hamburger joints, etc.  That wider total may be interesting in some passing fashion, but what matters in a power-down scenario is how much energy a core system (with luxury and convenience foods removed) really requires.)

Because it's not sustainable without fossil fuels.  It's more than just the actual petroleum we use for agriculture.  It's all the "overhead" - the complexity that allows the degree of specialization that marks our society.
Well, a lot of people at The Oil Drum worry about "Peak Oil" as opposed to the longer term conjecture about a world "without fossil fuels." ;-)

We have a friendly disagreement on the latter.  I don't believe one can make reasonable predictions about futures and solutions out in that moderately distant age when we are without fossil fuels of any kind.

I think we're already seeing the fault lines cracking.  College is increasingly out of reach for kids these days.  Yet your prospects without a degree aren't great.  So they are fighting over who gets in (white vs. minority, in-state vs. out of state, legal citizen vs. illegal immigrant, etc.)  And going into massive debt that they may never be able to pay off.
We have lots of problems in our age, as have people in every age.  The trick is to tell whether the problems are all fault lines, or if some of them are just problems.

FWIW, my outside observtion is that the bizarre system of college credit and loans has created a feedback look with tuitions.  Unintended consquences.

Which is, of course, exactly what one would expect from Tainter's theory.  ;-)
I think corruption is a perenial problem of government, and not just on the edge of collapse, at some complextiy or whatever.


"The Questions" every parent or student should ask his or her financial aid office when exploring loan options are:"


"4.  Do you accept kickbacks from lenders?  Kickbacks might include expense-paid trips, gifts, or dinners.  At their national conference this year, some financial aid administrators walked away with digital music players, DVD players, gift certificates and designer briefcases."


What we've got is a government program old enough that people know how to mine it.

I'm pretty sure that includes institutions who have less reason to cap tuition, when there is that (crooked?) credit industry out there poised to pay them.

I think the Tainter logic as presented at TOD requires [mumbo-jumbo]

Please feel free to correct us at TOD about the "real Tainter" instead of "Tainter logic as presented at TOD".

I bet not!

Yet arguments MUCH SIMPLER than Tainters can be made which lead to similar conclusions.

I did expound these arguments in a reply to your question:

How do we make the "no growth" argument without invoking Tainter mumbo-jumbo?

These arguments DO NOT in ANY WAY rely on the assumptions you "can't believe".
And YOU DID NOT REFUTE them because you cannot, you keep attacking one strawman after another for lack of real arguments against no-growth/powerdown.

Since I don't think you are an idiot, you know what I think now...

Neither is there any proof that sheer numbers lead to more "advancement", nor is "advancement" defined, though that might be a good start.
nor is "advancement" defined, though that might be a good start.

That is probably a sticky one to pin.  But to make a wild stab at it I think we would need to clarify the areas where advancement can occur.

First is theoretical knowledge.  The learning how something (usually nature/physics/chemistry) works.  In my opinion learning the why's and how's of the universe is advancement whether its something so impactful as the laws of gravity or the discovery that the bot fly has a taste for human flesh.  In otherwords raw unapplied knowledge about our universe.

Second technological knowledge.  That is the application of principles learned from Theoretical knowledge put towards some purpose.  Its here where I think the question of advancement gets murky.

For instance, we've learned through theoretical knowledge that to preserve temperatures, we need insulators.  The coozy(sp?) would be an application of that theoretical knowledge put to a purpose.  Now does the coozy constitute an advancement?  Probably somewhat, if you enjoy cold beer.  But that same theoretical knowledge can be applied to house insulation, which most would argue is a significant advantage.

One theoretical concept, two technological applications each with a great degree of difference in what would be considered advancement.

Agreed Leanan.  With a declining energy base we will be hard-pressed just to stay in place.

I tend to disagree with the view that more people equates to more opportunities for major new technological advances.

IMO, the advances that came fast and furious out of the 20th century were a culmination of high energy inputs and a better understanding of chemistry and physics via humanity standing on the shoulders of scientific giants.  This all brought about a one-time-only-in-the-history-of-mankind technological adaptive radiation: Technology Man emerging during the era of Petroleum Man.

We might still be able to come up with new "advances" in medicine and science but, increasingly, these will be available only to the filthy rich and well-connected few.

I already see this trend in medical research.  A good example is the emergence of new cancer treatments based on oligonucleotides.  The oligonucleotides are relatively non-toxic, very specific to the cancer cell-type, and in some cases remarkably effective at extending life when traditional cancer therapies have failed.  The catch is these treatments, even though tested and safe, are rarely offered to the average patient because of cost.  I recall reading an article last year in the NY Times which quoted an oncologist who said she doesn't mention oligonucleotides to her patients because she fears they will be disappointed to learn that they cannot afford to self-pay for the treatments.  

I see the same thing happening with stem cell research and gene therapies.  Taxpayers are subsidizing this type of research but very few will be able to afford the cost of treatment.  The MSM pounds away ad nauseum on the controversy over using fertilized eggs but they ignore the bigger issue at hand.  

We have nearly 50 million uninsured people in this country and millions more underinsured or unable to afford copays, coinsurance, and large deductibles - YET, we spend billions on testing for expensive treatments that few will have access to.

I was appalled when I saw the enormous WASTE in our own facility on expensive DNA microarrays and other new toys that, in the grand scheme of things, yield very little information.

Sorry for the tangent, I just get frustrated by the myopia of the Grand Wizards of the Technology Cult who can't see the forest for the trees.

I don't think there were more scientific giants in the past, so much as a lot of scientific "elephants" that were relatively cheap and easy to discover.  

But the days are long past when a genius working alone in his basement lab or garden can make a significant scientific discovery.  Even being independently wealthy or having a wealthy patron isn't really enough.  You aren't going to make a major breakthrough just by observing peas in your garden or even traveling to the Galapagos.  

Now, you need scanning electron microscopes or mass spectrometers or DNA microarrays.  And probably a staff of assistants, too.

Are there still great discoveries to be made?  Of course.  Just as there are still petroleum reserves to to be found.  But you'll have to work a lot harder for a smaller payback than in the old days.

Law of diminishing marginal returns in action!
We have nearly 50 million uninsured people in this country and millions more underinsured or unable to afford copays, coinsurance, and large deductibles - YET, we spend billions on testing for expensive treatments that few will have access to.

Another concealed way of ripping the least favored even more.
But this is very specific of the "broken" medical care in the US.
On a worldwide basis these large expenses for meager life expectation enhancements (upon total population averages) only show up as diminished returns.
May be more "ethical" but just as bad for the collapse threats.

I just get frustrated by the myopia of the Grand Wizards of the Technology Cult who can't see the forest for the trees.

Well... this is the scourge of the cornucopian thinking, they always see technical feasibility not economic feasibility (in spite of their lauding of "the market").

1963 was probably Peak Science in terms of rate and success and societal encouragement and investment.

My father started his career that year after grad school and did extremely well.

Realities are very different now, as I personally know.

By the way, there is no shortage of actual candidates for science & engineering jobs regardless of the poor performance of average students in high school.   The problem is lack of committment by industry to a career path.

A moment I thought you said 1963 was peak science fiction.

While Asimov and his pals certainly wrote much cool stuff, there's so much of it today, too :-)

Hi Telumehtar,

I do think the rate of innovation will slow for lack of minds working on projects, however I don't think that loss of productive and innovative minds will be solely due to population loss. I think attitude will affect the number of people interested in pursuing innovation.

The loss of population is not likely to be a pleasant experience. Innovation is spurred on by competition and a healthy market. I think innovation becomes more difficult as the collective psyche of a civilization realizes that things are taking a turn for the worse. I believe the drive to make new "doodads" that push the boundaries of existing technology will not be seen as an important venture when the broad populace becomes aware that population loss is occurring.

I think people are likely to react to population loss not with innovation, but with a regression toward safe, comfortable, and familiar thoughts and actions.

Teluhmetar -

You raise an interesting question.

In my view, scientific and technical advancement is a combination of both an accumulation of knowledge and the application of 'warm bodies' (well-educated ones, hopefully)... plus a vital third ingredient: MONEY. Without the latter, the first two can only get you so far.

While there is always room for the unexpected major breakthrough, if one looks at the history of technology, most advances, particularly in industry and medicine, have been the result of the gradual accumulation of knowledge and practical know-how, acquired slowly, brick by brick. In the big picture, Noble Luareates have had less to contribute to progress then the large number of unknown drudges toiling away on relatively unexciting projects in obscure academic and industrial labs and demo projects.This is where the money is essential.

If during a post-peak oil contraction (or outright collapse) technical progress comes to a standstill, it will not be for lack of knowledge or educated warm bodies, but rather due to a lack of money to enable those warm bodies to by put to work in developing that which needs to be developed.

A close analogy would be the bankrupt farmer. He knows how to farm, and he is readily willing and able to farm, but he can't farm because he doesn't have the money to buy seed, fertilizer, and fuel. He's sort of laying in the bottom of a potential energy well, with no way out.

Tom Friedman is hit and miss, but one of his hits was spotting a big change in recent history: the number of people China and India have pumped through good science and engineering schools in just the last few decades.

The number of brains working on science and engineering problems just exploded.  We might lose some innovation per engineering capita, or even per straight capita ... but does that really matter?

Ultimately I think averages of "innovations per person day" are bunk.  Especially given imporant patents like the flip top toothpaste tube.  What matters, and what we will have to see for ourselves - is the rate at which we get important and useful energy innovations.

The US was doing this 30+ years ago, get ahold of some of the old electronics magazines from that time. Outsourcing (jobjacking) wasn't in the picture then so they had to educate and hire Americans, novel thought! If a person was willing, the co's were happy to stuff 'em with all the tech education they wanted, and frankly I've hung around with enough of the folks who went through that time to know it was a hell of a good time to to be an engineer or anything like that.

Growth "industries" now seem to be farming (if small and organic), stuff that is essentially cleaning up the crumbs of the oil party like detailing Hummers and dealing in tech detritus, surplus sales, etc., and stuff that can't be catagorized, a million little niches. I suspect more basic stuff like being able to make shoes out of old tires etc will be the hot careers in the future.

Biotech is HUGE.  Tons of new labs in Cambridge, MA.  Tons of research.  98% of the scientists are Chinese or Indian, but they're here in the US developing new compounds.

Information Technology is still big.  We're awash in data.  Companies are still grappling with how to best track/analyze/update/present it.  All the big names are working on this stuff, and there's a million ways to apply it to just about any sort of enterprise.

We've still got the best University System in the World.

Alternative Energy is just getting started.  We still make Solar Panels here in the USA.  Wind farms.  Tidal Power.  These technologies are just becoming cost effective.

I guess I don't see things as badly as other people do.

Biotech is HUGE, computers, info-tech etc yeah yeah heard it a million times. Average American kids are not getting any chance to be part of that, it's much cheaper to hire H1B's another country paid to educate, and are much more controllable.

I kid in the US who grows up next to a Motorola or Intel factory is much, much less likely to get a job there than a Chinese or Indian, the way things are set up now. Jobjacking reigns supreme.

As Tainter pointed out about the Roman Empire, loyalty to the Empire no longer pays. I've pointed out to many people that I'd be better off being loyal to France than to the US, anyone of my age (early 40s) or younger is in this position.

Best part of dieoff will be seeing the Boomers go.

My girlfriend works for one of them, and there is no shortage of Americans working at these companies, except as scientists.  She's in recruiting and says that they just never see a resume that isn't from Asia.  (Well, almost never - they do have a few)  The senior directors, and support staff are mostly American.

If you want to go to France - Go!  Nobody's stopping you.

The biggest problem I see in America is this whole "the system owes me something" syndrome.  Educate yourself.  Get a job in something you love.  Live within your means.  Question, improve, deliver.

I'm not advocating the typical Boomer position that "it will be ok", but if all you're doing is counting the days until the end of the world, your efforts are misguided, IMO.

Americans are being filtered out by HR - plenty of Americans submitting resumes, she's just never seeing them.

Going to France takes money, a transportable skill, or both. I'm working on it.

Worked in an R&D outfit lately, fleam? Recruiting does the filtering. HR just archives the resumes to satisfy legal requirements. America's school system does an abysmal job putting out biotech-ready graduates. The shortage is genuine.
Going to France takes money, a transportable skill, or both. I'm working on it.

Ahem... I would suggest you collect more infos on the job market and specificities of the "french way of life" you might have surprises.
Long established Britons and Americans are doing fine and loving it but it took them quite a while.
Though, collapse wise (in the worst cases) France is probably much, much safer than the US.

A few years ago I went to the CAD seminar at US Berkeley. That's a great place where the cutting edge technology gets presented. The speaker started off with an informal survey - how many people in the audience were born in the USA. Just two people raised their hands, out of maybe 20 or 25.

I don't know where the filtering happens, but where I work it is certainly not HR. We hire the top graduating PhDs. It's a simple fact, few are born in the USA. Go look at the lists of graduate students in some research group at a major university in the USA. Hard to say for sure, of course, but just judging from names etc., people are coming from all around the world, and of course India and China are huge. Maybe it's the graduate school admission process being biased to foreigners. But I doubt it.

The biggest problem I see in America is this whole "the system owes me something" syndrome.

I think there's something to that. I don't have children, so I sure can't speak first hand. But suppose a child is not doing so well in reading or math. What does a typical parent do? Push the child to work harder, or blame the school system? Or maybe both parents are too busy working second jobs to pay much attention.

We seem to have ourselves in a difficult situation. Superficial analysis and easy scapegoating aren't going to lead us out of the rut we're falling into.

I still don't get why people think there's a problem?

Isn't the old mantra "you can be anything you want to be?"

American students are far more interested in finance, politics, law, social services, accounting, and sales.

Does Home Depot not need managers?  Does Kohler not need sales reps?  Do we not need Social Workers?  These are all valid jobs in the economy.

It's not like the US isn't driving innovation in biotech, medicine, and technology.  The asian scientists today are like the Italian tailors, or Mexican masons.  Just another in a long line of immigrants earning a living in the USA.

This is the mark of a declining empire.

Britain built its coal-based industrial empire without a decent school system, using rough-hewn engineers and their apprentices in a laissez-faire model presided over by greedy pimps like the East India Company and the Hong Kong taipans.  Its competitors, Germany, the US, Russia, and Japan, all saw improving education and technical skills as a matter of survival, often of national security.  America's state school system was based on Germany's, and featured Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges.  As Britain's empire grew senile, it got to be all about banking and insurance, and the artificial economy of the colonies, and the war industry.  Its "public" schools taught nothing but hierarchy, bullying, and Latin.  Its social services lagged behind poorer countries, its arts were trite, its discourse self-serving.  In 1890 Germany passed Britain in steel production, and nothing was done.  Every country that competed peacefully or violently with Britain in the 20th Century had state schools cranking out engineers and scientists.  The consequences were as vast as they were slow.

And get this: now China is bribing its scientists back home by offering them the resources to start their own high-tech businesses, and it's working.

The ants are tired of being exploited by us sales rep and MBA grasshoppers.

I think your viewpoint is skewed there.  I personally work for a company who has a very nice degree of diversity.  In my division I (white/male) work with 1 Hispanic female and 1 Asian female (both are American citizens).

The developers in our company are composed 3 White Males (all Americans), 1 Asian Female (American),  4 Indian Males(think one is an American citizen and I know another is actively working to become one), and the team is headed up by a White male (American).

The Support crew we have here is about 50/50 male female, is up to 22 people last I checked has a pretty even spread of Whites, Indians, Hispanics, and Blacks with a slight edge for Whites and Blacks.  Most of them are American Citizens (usually born here), and the few that are not are actively going through the legal process to become citizens.

And the layout of my company is not at all uncommon down here in Houston.  Quite a few of the NASA contractors have diversity in their ranks, the Chemical and Oil industry down here has a significant amount of diversity, the Medical center is composed of doctors from all ethnicities, and that includes those with American upbringing (note I don't say "whites" though I see plenty of whites getting jobs as well).

In fact Houston is ranked as one of the most diverse cities in America, and aside from the problems of ILLEGAL immigration, that diversity has not suffocated Houston's ability to provide jobs not just for native Houstonians, but also for several 10s of thousands of New Orleans refugees who fled here.

Sorry but I believe your inability to see oppurtunity in your back yard has less to do with the social evils you imagine to be there and more to do with a lack of responsibilty for your own actions.  I've known plenty of people(some even I consider friends) who blamed everyone but themselves for their "lack of oppurtunity".  The "Man" was keeping them down, or those Affirmative Action riders took their jobs, or Whitey was oppressing them, or XYZ group wasn't playing by the rules.  To all of which I just shake my head, and tell them not to focus on the "man" AA or whitey, and instead tell them to focus on becoming so good at what they want to do, that the companies would be foolish to skip over them for quotas.

I won't deny that there are some inequities in our system, and they will hopefully be addressed (the unfair hiring practices that Illegal Immigration permits comes to mind), but ultimately, this land still has one of the best if not the best chances for gaining affluency, whether you start from rags or riches.  Europe has been locked in a caste system far far longer, so I doubt you will find France all that more promising if you can't take the self initiative here.

Biotech is HUGE.

Sure, but what is biotech good for, energy wise?
And even market wise?
WHO will have the money to buy enough of the expensive biotech gimmicks for the companies to recoup their R&D expenditures?
All the fancy technologies you gloat about can be EITHER assets or liabilities depending on their ROI.
And all ROI will be crippled by the increased cost of basic ressources.

I guess I don't see things as badly as other people do.

Go see an optometrist!

Thomas Edison and several during his time likely IMO pushed us further along the discovery road than we would have been otherwise.  We have single inventions that people improve, but the first was spark the rest just get more heat out of the spark.

I invent lots of things, but I write about them instead of make them.  Being a Science Fiction writer I can think of all sorts of things only to see them later made into TV shows ( Kitt from KnightRider was my invention, but my car could fly and go to the moon, I even have drawing I did) only to have someone else take a similar idea and make something else out of it.  I will grant you that about 90% of my short stories will never make it to the book forms so you guys and gals could buy them.  I do have a blog site and I have been thinking seriously of just posting them there, but I digress.

We will have people making do, ( a form of invention ) and folks like me writing our ideas down as fiction ( a form of invention ), but we will have fewer folks making the mass market bucks for these things as time goes by.

How many people does it take to make a cell phone tower a profit making investment?  I have no clue, but someone had to think of and build one to see if we could do what we do with those almost worth ear attachments.

Some of my radical ideas you just are not ready for,  I put pen to paper a lot and after writing a while, figure no one in their right mind will ever buy the idea and I put in a notebook and go on. I wonder how many neat things we don't have because other inventors do the same thing.

Charles Owens,  author and inventor at large.

Oh come on, lay some of 'em on us! We can take it! You can't call yourself an Inventor At Large without sharing some of your genius with us.
How we come out of a population decline is going to very much depend on how that decline happens.
If the criminal berzerkers manage to run free and eliminate the farmers, engineers, scientists, machinists, teachers, etc... while stealing everything from them, then our society may collapase.
If, on the other hand, societies hand - via government - controls the population decline and eliminates the "dead wood", criminals, etc... then we may have a very good chance to maintain our society with a bright future for future generations.
It is not how many people you have, it is the quality (and education) of the people you have got.
Any good farmer knows that you can take any animal group (including the human animal) and breed it up or down by the management practices employed. Current world management practice on the human animal is to breed it to the lowest common denominator - not a good sign for the future of the species.
I would hate to think of (or live through)the draconian measures that would be necessary to refocus the management practices (ie government planning/actions) towards making a serious effort to institute continous improvements in the human species.
I would guess that this is one of the most sensitive, touchy subjects on the planet!?
How are we supposed to solve a problem we are (encouraged?) not to talk about openly?
In other words, eugenics. Might as well come out and say it.

The only problem is, real-world attempts at eugenics do not show a great record of success. The British noble class may be considered a good example of this, and even Galton was dismayed - inbreeding has resulted in lower results than could be expected from random chance. Attempts to breed for intelligence, which is generally what people talk about when they talk about eugenics, have been notably unsuccessful. We know quite a bit more about breeding for hardiness, and simply involved breeding between "races", something that's looked upon by eugenicists with horror. And, look at the most successful human groups over time - you get the pygmies, the Bushmen, the Australan Aborigines etc. Not the average eugenicist's picture of beauty. But in the eyes of Nature, they are the most beautiful indeed.

So, what exactly do you have in mind?

Attempts to breed for intelligence, which is generally what people talk about when they talk about eugenics, have been notably unsuccessful.

Fleam: eugenics was not so much a matter of breeding for intelligence as of discouraging or preventing the mentally disabled from reproducing themselves - as a rule via compulsory sterilization ("Three generations of idiots are enough" as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said in defending Virginia's castration programme). It was also widely practiced in Scandinavia until, after the defeat of the Nazism, it became associated with euthanasia and racism.

Not only has eugenics fallen into disrepute - it has been replaced by dysgenics, insofar   as smart women have virtually ceased to reproduce, while the `welfare queens' carry on increasing and multiplying.

But as you suggest, natural selection does not necessarily select for smartness. And so be it. Blessed be modernity, for the cognitively disadvantaged shall inherit the earth.

Copelec, great post, thanks. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that when those less endowed with intelligence have by far the most offspring, then as one generation follows another, the average intelligence will drop.

Natural selection, in human beings, does not today, select for intelligence. In fact because we live in times of plenty, natural selection hardly selects for anything these days. In such times natural selection loses its grip. When everyone survives those only marginally fitter than others have no advantage.

But in times past, natural selection did select for intelligence. That is how we arrived at this point. Intelligence was the primary survival technique of our ancient ancestors. That is, the smarter had a survival advantage over those not so smart. And as one generation followed another, we became the most successful animal on earth as far as evolutionary competition is concerned. We are competing with every other wild animal on earth for food and resources, and we are winning...big time.

But don't count intelligence out too soon. True, when things get tough brawn may win out over brains...temporarily. But I would bet that if you came back a couple of hundred years from now, you would find brains the ultimate winner. And, in those hard times, you will see natural selection giving a survival advantage to the smartest once again.

Ron Patterson

You are right, Ron


the average IQ in the west has gone up 10-15-20 points the past 50 years

how'd you like them apples?

If our intelligence indeed has gone up that much, does
that mean if we went back in time to 50 years ago we
would find the average man to be markedly dull to our modern sensibilities?
It's called the Flynn Effect. Scientists are still debating what causes it but few, if any of them, actually believe it is caused by an actual increase in the IQ of the general population.

Not even Flynn himself believed that there was actually any increase in intelligence. He favored environmental causes for the effect. Others have attributed the increase to social changes, better nutrition or simply the effect of different tests in different times.

We should also consider that IQ ratings may not reflect true intelligence.

Or that watching American Idol and playing video games does indeed make a person smarter.

That and processed food.

Very very good posts!

I just wanted to see what you had in mind, I feel human intelligence is still an unfinished project, and under natural conditions, intelligence is favored. It is across the living kingdom. Even plants are smarter than they were long ago. There's no "Master Aryan Race" (or black, yellow etc) in our future, we're likely to need all the genetic diversity we can get.

Regarding selecting for intelligence, has the dating game and social life become less complex lately?
There are going to be very severe constraints on our societies ability to provide the level of funding and care for the defectives in a Post Peak Oil world.
Individual rights are not unlimited. For example you can not yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater because to do so would trample on the rights of others. Deliberately breeding when there is a strong likelyhood that the resulting offspring will be defective and then dumping the defective onto society to supply the care and support for life for said defective is equally trampling on the rights of society by an individual.
There are diseases that are known to be the result of defective genes. I believe that society does have a right to prevent the conception of children from such individuals which have those defective genes with the intent to breed those defective genes out of existance.
Preventing conception where there is a known high probability of defective offspring would both work towards lowering the overall population and reducing the strains such defectives put society.
When a significant portion of the population have lost their jobs, their houses, their cars and other expensive toys they are not going to give a tinkers' dam about the fate of state supported defectives. And that probably will precipate one of the really great tradegies of the Post Peak Oil world. Reducing the numbers of defectives by preventing conception could help mitigate some of that tradegy if we have time?
Regretably I doubt that any politician in this Country (world?) has the intestinal fortitude to even suggest taking such action and thereby condeming multitudes to untold neglect and suffering by failure to act.
To date I have heard no-one talk about what is going to happen to the state supported defectives when the state can/will no longer afford to continue their support/care. Private care organizations are going to be hurting too for funds and will be up their eyebrows trying to help those who have lost their jobs, houses, cars, etc...
We are talking Peak Oil here and I do believe that constructively talking about population reductioon is an important part of mitigating Peak Oil effects. I think we should be talking openly about what can be done constructively to reduce population and mitigating the pain and suffering of those who can not help themselves during any "Powerdown" scenario.
What are your suggestions?
There are diseases that are known to be the result of defective genes. I believe that society does have a right to prevent the conception of children from such individuals which have those defective genes with the intent to breed those defective genes out of existance.

Given how much we don't know about Genetics, how do you, or anyone for that matter decide which set of genes are keepers?

How do we know that the same person who is predisposed to various genetic ailments might not also be the person who has a the gene type to resist AIDS or some other disease?  By forcing them to end their line, you may also remove their beneficial genes from our species as well.

Further who do we allow to determine what is or is not "defective"?  Is brown hair defective?  What about a missing hand?  How defective is the guy with brown hair and the missing hand going to be viewed as when he turns around and turns out to be the most brilliant scientist since Einstein, or the most amazing trumpet player since Louis Armstrong?  Defective is a highly subjective term, and that is doubly so given our sheer ignorance of the human genome.

A more compassionate, fairer, and ultimately inclusive practice to population control is birthing limits.  Each woman/couple would be allowed X number of offspring.  You could even turn this practice into an incentive based model, in which the more economically advantaged are permitted to have more children because they need less help from society to provide for them.  This would encourage harder/smarter workers to breed and welfare recipients to not breed.

Maybe its a cop out answer, but determining genetic quality for breeding rights smells a bit too much like Der Fuhrer.  

How do we know that the same person who is predisposed to various genetic ailments might not also be the person who has a the gene type to resist AIDS or some other disease?

We would have got rid of Stephen Hawking when trying to avoid Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.


I understand what you're saying, and it makes sense to me. However, I believe population control is a non-starter.

Instincts tell us to reproduce. Think of the challenges of convincing every American that this is a good idea. People would just not accept it freely. It is a God-given right to have kids, they'd say. But, let's assume everyone in the US bought into it. Consider the challenges in selling this idea to all of the widely varying cultures of the world. It just isn't possible.

Appealing to people's intelligence is one thing. Appealing to their instincts (to their heart, to their beliefs, and to their emotions) is another.

So breeding is a privilege that is granted by society now? And who gets to decide who is "defective" or not?

Hey, I have a better idea. We leave it to nature, which does a much better job of it than crackpot eugenics planners. If I survive, my genes were good enough to survive at my time and place, if I don't, they weren't, but unlike you, nature doesn't make any value judgements.

You want a suggestion? I suggest you crawl into a hole somewhere, and stay there, and in that way you can contribute to the solution of the population problem. If you want, you can take with you some critiques of totaliarianism that you can read when nature takes its course.

If I survive, my genes were good enough to survive at my time and place,

Or you are born at the wrong place or the wrong time, like just before Peak Oil.
Did you take the The Post-Apocalyptic Survival Test?


The Great Leader
You scored 70 Strength, 55 Guile, 59 Morality, and 75 Survival Rate!  
Look around at the burnt out husk of our once great civilization. It's all yours baby! Your empire of dirt. You got high scores in all the places that matter. The world is yours. You can do with it what you will. Hail to the king baby.  

Disturbing....but kind of fun.

The Post-Apocalyptic Survival Test

Cult Leader
You scored 59 Strength, 75 Guile, 54 Morality, and 91 Survival Rate!  
You're a smart and moral person. If you're going to survive though you'll need some friends. Your best bet would be to make up a religion and gather a flock.  

Anyone want to join?  <Dr Evil Voice>Muhahahahahaha</Dr Evil Voice>

"...any animal group can be bred up or down..."

Well... maybe in height or weight, but as others have noted intelligence is much more slippery.  'The Genius Factory' was a fun read about the US Nobel prize-winner sperm bank.  Decidedly mixed results.  (as well as sneaky non-winners making lots of deposits...)

Leave it to a Darwinian to make the excellent comment that these days, the process of natural selection has come unhinged from reproductive success.  Sounds like an overshoot developing (next book on list - Catton -> Overshoot)

Tainter, a surprisingly NON-depressing read, might help flesh-out these ideas for some.  I associate pop. decline with collapse (in today's world, esp. w/ capitalism) and one of the defining characteristics of collapse is less socio-political complexity - IOW no central government controlling anything.

From a purely biological perspective, mixing up the gene pool as much as possible will give our species the most diverse range of individuals for that day when natural selection kicks back in - no?

From the comments, I suspect that no one has done any purebred livestock breeding.
In order to be able to really have any chance of success you have to use at least 5 generation lookbacks to be able to determine charastics for breeding.
Just because "X" happens to be a genius really has no bearing on his ability to throw genius traits in the sperm department. You would have to use at least the 5 generation lookbacks for the desired traits as well as the negative traits for both the male and the female. Then over the succeeding 5 to 10 generations of continued selective breeding you will be able to develop the desired traits without the negative traits coming into play.
Anyone who thinks you can just take the sperm from genius "X" and dump it into any female and produce genius offspring is an idiot (in my not so humble opinion <BG>). Selective breeding is an intensive science, not a dart board game.
I've a friend who used to do research with sperm, has handled more gallons of the stuff than is easily imagined. Her stories about PhD and Nobel Prize winning sperm donors are priceless.
Running somewhat independent from the economic "to infinity and beyond", exponential population growth continues, just a bit unevenly spread over the planet.
Population explosion threatens to trap Africa in cycle of poverty

There are 27.7 million people in Uganda. But by 2025 the population will almost double to 56 million...[..] Midway through the 21st century Uganda will be the world's 12th most populous country with 130 million people - more than Russia or Japan.

Other countries with fertility rates (births per woman) of over 5 are for instance Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Afghanistan. To get some more perspective you should realize that Nigeria presently has a population of 127 million, and Pakistan 145 million.

Pakistan in 2050 will be way over 400 million, more than the US.

While the immigrant question is a hot topic in the US, the Eurasian/African landmass(es) offer(s) much bigger problems. What these numbers simply mean is that the next 50 years will bring unstoppable mass migration, a movement that is already well under way. Combine the population explosion with food, water and energy shortages and you get a real scary movie.

Just to hit a few population densities:

US     31 / km2

Japan    339 / km2

Uganda    120 / km2

So wow, it looks like Uganda does need to manage their density quite soon.

(I didn't bother to look up US states, but I'd expect California to have quite a bit of headroom before hitting such densities.)

((also, I believe infinite growth is impossible, and try not to worry about impossibilities.  it's just a question of how and when we change trajectory))

population 158 million, pop. density 198 and fertlity rate 5.6

but even worse:

Bangla Desh
population 142 million, pop. density 985 (!!) and fertlity rate 3.3

growth rate is a bit slower, and there are good reasons for that

every acre of land that's yours in the US, you'd have to share with 31 others

there are about 200 acres to a km2. so we actually each get about 6 acres to ourself.

bangladesh is incredibly fertile, w/ much of the land capable of producing three rice crops a year. they are not self-sufficient for food, but they do an admirable job given the astounding population density.

if yergin proves to be right and we have increasing oil production for a few decades (and if we could magically suspend global warming which will make a lot of the topical and subtrop world desert and arid savannah by mid-century) some of these population curves could happen.

but my guess is that africa is going to be a god-awful mess beyond words w/ high population growth in an energy-scarce world w/ warming that dramatically reduces ag yields in hotter regions. worst of all worlds for those poor folks.

Odograph -

While the US, in the aggregate, has a very low population density, the numbers are strongly skewed by our large thinly populated states, such as Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, etc.

The population density in the Northeast is actually pretty high, e.g.,

New York - 149/km2

New Jersey - 420/km2

So, it appears that New Jersey is more densely populated than Japan. (Glad I don't live there anymore!)

So much for the argument AIDS is depopulating
Body, I haven't anyone argue that AIDS is depopulating. What I have heard is that AIDS is slowing the rate of population growth. And population growth is slowing. It is slowing, in undeveloped countries, because of AIDS, because of local warfare, because of malnutrition, because of higher infant mortality or basically because a higher death rate and a lower birth rate in general.

Malnourished women have far more miscarriages and are just less fertile in general. If this trend continues, and I am sure it will, the earth will be depopulating in just a few years.

Ron Patterson

Darwinian: I don't think malnourished women have less children. The ave for Somalia is 6.76, for Niger 7.46. Both countries are more poverty-ridden than anywhere. There seems to be an inverse coorelation between living standards and child births.
Perhaps you are right Brian. But these are all estimates. I would suggest the problem needs more study.

Of course you probably noticed the infant mortality rate in these countries are among the highest in the world, 118 per thousand in Niger and 114 per thousand in Somalia. No doubt that malnutrition of both mother and child is a prime contributor to that factor. But perhaps I am wrong here. Perhaps it is the lack of medicine and health care that is causing the high infant mortality rate. Perhaps food is not as scarce as we might think. The truth is I don't have enough facts to know exactly what is going on in Niger of Somalia.

But I remain convinced that at some point malnutrition must affect birth rates. After all, how can it possibly be otherwise.

Ron Patterson

But I remain convinced that at some point malnutrition must affect birth rates. After all, how can it possibly be otherwise?

Ron, malnutrition just isn't what it used to be. Now, thanks to modern medicine, even the world's poorest populations have a lower rate of child mortality than the European upper classes had a century ago.

But caring and compassionate Mother Nature will no doubt solve all these problems with a little dose of dieoff.

The four horses are on their way ...

Oops, I mean the four horsemen
Combine the population explosion with food, water and energy shortages and you get a real scary movie.

You do indeed - we see the trailers virtually every evening on television here in Europe, as thousands of desperate Africans assail the gates of our semi-guarded palace. Like the Vietnamese of the 80s, they are chiefly 'boat people'. Unlike the Vietnamese, few countries welcome their arrival.

You might also like to read this short essay by Janet Larsen (Earth Policy Institute) titled Population Growth Leading to Land Hunger.

Ah, that real-life movie called "The Camp Of The Saints"  - how long before that book becomes required reading in the schools there?

Interestingly, there was a film in TCOTS genre ('The March') which was broadcast by BBC in 1990 as part of their 'One World Week' series-- and texted by William Nicholson (more here). It was also shown on the German ARD channel.

But even then it was deemed to be so inflammatory that neither the Spanish nor Italian state TV channels allowed it to be broadcast in their countries.

Don't think it's available on video or DVD, unfortunately. It has some absolutely great images of masses of African refugees fleeing northward to the Meditteranean coast, though unfortunately I can't find any on the web.

As to Raspail's prophetic TCOTS, it is still in print in French and English. Long out of print in Germany

As in the case of Raspail's prophetic novel, art got in there first while reality was still putting on her shoes.

The problem is, I think the USSR had a population of nearly 300 million before it broke up.
"is it coincidence that the most innovative major industrialized country, the U.S., also has the fastest growing population and the most young people?"

Perhaps the correlation goes the other way: pop growth is high due to immigration, and immigration is high because we're wealthier than our neighbors to the south...

"Global solar power generation is expected to increase by 25% this year, a European conference on solar energy was told at its opening session on Monday."

Solar power growing

I just posted links to and quotes from three articles on the solar market:


Between the ramp-up in silicon PV, the rise of thin-film technology, and the increasing price of fossil fuels, solar looks to be perfectly positioned to (finally!) go mainstream in a big way.

Of course, coupling widespread solar PV use with PHEV and EV passenger cars means that some people, like Kunstler, will have to revise those predictions of Las Vegas and Phoenix blowing away like tumbleweeds because of high transportation costs.  

One more on solar from GCC:


it sure looks like the pace has picked up this summer.

We can't manufacture water...
Sure we can. Take methane, reform it to syngas, separate out the hydrogen, and burn the hydrogen. Voila! You now have water, but the EROI is not so good.

You also get water during most combustion processes, but for pure water you have to burn hydrogen.

Of course my tongue is firmly in cheek, but you can definitely manufacture water.

For "pure enough" water, you can boil sea water, capture the steam and recondensate it.  Its a survival tactic, and has a horrible EROEI, but the water is free from the minerals in seawater and sterilized to boot.  

In fact as a bonus you get salt to do things with too.  Lewis and Clark did this on their expedition.  Got to see their salt making site while I was in Oregon recently.

So in a pinch "pure" water can be produced its just not very efficiently scalable.

De-salination of ocean water. It requires some energy, though.
BTW, on that server cost per watt thing ... we've talked about that here at TOD going way back, and I think we've seen it coming.  It is entirely expected that as energy prices rise, companies will re-optimize their strategies.

And of course a maturing industry (Internet presence) will move to reducing costs of daily operation, whereas in the early days (and in still-open niches) it is all about a race to market.  In the race to market, no doubt the cautious lost.  Google, with its farms of junky power-hog PCs-as-servers cleaned up.  But now, it's time to re-optimize from their dominant position.

(and as I said a couple days ago, I expect this to change the perceived Moore's law progress ... as engineering resources are diverted from the speed race to an efficiency race.)

The theglobandmail.com states:

Chevron Corp. and its partners say they have tapped into an area that may contain as much as 15 billion barrels of oil in the ultradeep waters of the Gulf of Mexico -- the kind of massive reservoir of crude that the industry dubs an elephant discovery.

As far as i have been able to digest from article at marketwatch.com that is not true. Marketwatch states:

Devon's stake in four discoveries and 19 prospects in the lower tertiary could add between 2 billion-5 billion barrels of oil equivalent to the company's reserves, Stephen Hadden, Devon's senior exploration and production vice president, said during a conference call with investors.
and further
Challenges remain, however, as lower tertiary reservoirs lie under thick layers of salt that throw off conventional imaging equipment. Being able to map these reservoirs beneath the salt is "absolutely critical" to success in the lower tertiary, Hadden said.
While oil and gas companies have exploited the Gulf for decades, only in the past five years they have managed to discover hydrocarbons in lower tertiary rocks, which are older and lie deeper than currently producing deepwater reservoirs. Lower tertiary rocks have proven to be fruitful to oil producers in onshore Texas and Louisiana. Deepwater lower tertiary discoveries could have at least 15 billion barrels of reserves, said Pickering Energy's Heikkinen.

I conclude from this that the find could be 2 to 5 billion barrels which leads some experts to extrapolate possible finds up to more than 15 billion barrels large. As I read this those amounts have not been found yet.

Still, it would be good for us to have such reserves outside volatile regions.

P, you are misreading the article.

Devon's stake in four discoveries and 19 prospects in the lower tertiary could add between 2 billion-5 billion barrels of oil equivalent to the company's reserves,

Devron has a 25 percent stake in this venture. So the total would be 4 times Devron's share.

That being said, I think this is greatly overestimated. Most people are looking at those figures, 3 to 15 billion barrels and thinking crude oil. No, that is not what anyone said. They are saying BOE. And at those depths most of that BOE is likely to be gas, not oil.

During the test, the well sustained a flow rate of more that 6,000 barrels of crude oil per day with the test representing approximately 40 percent of the total net pay measured in the Jack #2 well.

Ron, the quote is from the official Chevron press release.

In normal basins your observation about depth and liklihood of gas would be correct, but the GOM is quite unusual.  It is actually temperature and time acting on the source rocks (maturation) that is the key parameter.  At 7000 ft we have the seabed - tempearture here I guess will be <10C - normally at this depth in a pile of sediment you would be around 80C - so for a start the top 7000 ft is very cool.  Add to that that the basin has subsided very, very fast - then the sediments at depth have not yet had time to heat up - i.e. they lag the ambient geothermal gradient.  Another aspect of rapid burial is that the sediments have not been at depth that long.  So, in summary, you get anomalous cold temperatures at depth and the source rocks that would normally be post-mature still lie in the oil window.

Here endeth todays lesson on geochemistry.


Ahh. My mistake.
Still, it would be good for us to have such reserves

Yes, unless burning oil contributes to global warming. Unlike somebody (CryWolf?) yesterday, I believe GW is more urgent than Peak Oil. Let's kick our crude addiction sooner rather than later.

An indepth discussion was going later in the day about trying to invent ways to get at the oil in these deep water areas.   Bob Shaw, thought of submersibles being used to drill or pipe off the oil. Either he or someone else talked about Subs being crude oil tankers.  Bladders were mentioned as a way to float the oil to the surface.

When we get to the end of the day.  We see that hey the hype was just that hype, must have been a slow news day. But Oil prices are under $70 on the NYMEX and some people inculding my ex-wife have informed me that gasoline is under the 2.40 mark in several areas.  All looks rosy again. We will have a few weeks of calm GOM weather and then Winter Heating oil builds and NG builds on what might be termed a "nice warm winter" and everything is rosy here too.

Mr. Lynch gets to push himself closer to the Dinner table and Ask for second helpings of "Eat crow you peak oil crazies".  Mr. Yergin gets to get his newest suit for his next appearance on the TV.  Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief and the end is almost here, lower prices are the rule of the day.

I have been thinking and accumulating knowledge about Energy, Plants, Cooking, Survival, and many other subjects for decades, and in the end it really won't matter much.  

I dunno-7000 feet down produces enough force to break solid concrete, which typically has a compressive strength of 3,000 psi. So it's difficult, no doubt about that.

I think the worst that could happen is gas and oil prices going down for a little while. Without (pricing) pressure no body will change anything and the government isn't likely to increase CAFE standards, push new transit, et al. I think there is a quote up top saying we have 2 modes-panic and complacency.

7,000 feet roughly translates into 3,000 psi, as I desktop calculatored it out, at a guess of the salte water versus fresh water densities.  Then you add in that there are more creatures that eat iron and steal than we have chemicals to fight them. Add in the fact that currently all the deep water subs we have are for Oceanographers and not I would think Oil drilling.  By this I mean deep water, below 3,000 feet.  Navy subs rarely go very deep if they did their hulls would get crushed.  ROV's would work, but what if you are in a tight drilling phase and the Storms come up and you can't stay on Station?

It's all going to be new ground and costs are going to be high no matter what anyone else thinks, this is not going to be easy to get to and work into production.

And again.

Why are we jumping for joy at finding oil where it is so DARN HARD to get at????   Cause the easy to find stuff is gone and we are hunting for crumbs on our empty plates and SCREAMING for joy when we find one.  It sure sounds like an ADDICT to me.

That's my understanding, from reading the posts on here - the "new discovery" was first announced in 2004 or so, that "oil field" has been known about longer than that, and since it's so deep, it's below the "oil window" and likely to be mostly nat. gas. Nat. gas is hard to get up, hard to transport, etc. Whee.

But it sounds good before an election!

Re: I think the worst that could happen is gas and oil prices going down for a little while. Without (pricing) pressure ...

There is a fundamental contradiction in some analyst's positions: they expect massive new spare capacity which would, in turn, bring down prices and discourage substitutions, investment and efficiency. They might counter and say that at $35 or $40/barrel oil, prices would still remain high enough to encourage all of the above. Could the GOM Lower Tertiary be developed at $40/barrel? I doubt it. They need to build a pipeline out to the basin; it's a start-up cost.

The number I saw was that it wouldn't be profitable at oil less than $40/bbl.  

My own thought is that the effect of people being put at ease about oil availablity and therefore consuming more will outweigh the actual amount of oil pumped.

Unleaded here in STL...$2.34/gal.
Gas prices here on the Oregon Coast haven't budged, $3.09, since BP's pipeline fiasco. But on a recent trip down to CA, I saw diesel consistently over $3.75.
I no longer get diesel prices.  I'm sure someone here can enlighten me, but going back even 3 years ago haven't diesel prices usually been lower due to less refining needed to crack it?  Now here it's still near $3 while unleaded has crashed.
It is primarily demand driven. The recent ultra-low sulfur diesel specs have also made it more expensive to produce diesel. Oil companies have spent billions in capital to meet the new ULSD specs.
RR to the rescue!  Thanks for making it obvious.
Yesterday, I skimmed this document (pdf) too quickly and made an erroneous claim -- that this field had been discovered in the 1930's. The truth is that the Wilcox play that runs from Texas/Louisiana out into the Gulf has been known since the 1930's. This is a new extension to that play in really deepwater. Mea Culpa.

Otherwise, nothing else I said yesterday was false or misleading. I see the Cornucopians are out in force today. I highly recommend HO's thread A Belated Response to CGES.

Concerning the remarks by Lynch and Yergin, there is little to say other than to point out that it is all highly misleading; it is akin to cheerleading. It is a question of Reserves versus Production Flows, as I discussed here. The Reserves Argument (these are not even known in this case) is a fallacy.

The fallacy consists of giving reasons for your thesis without considering reasons against it, or giving reasons against an opposing view without considering reasons for it.
I know of no better example than this Jack find to tell the world some simple things -- the era of cheap, easily accessible Oil is over. The peak of actual production (not some mysterious ruse that Yergin calls productive capacity) is near. You can't put Reserves in your gas tank.


Thanks a lot for your link with the essay on `The One-Sidedness Fallacy'.  Let us digest the following paragraph:

To become two-sided, you must first make the arguments against your own thesis explicit. Write them out as carefully as you write out the positive arguments for your thesis. But if that were all, your final case would be indecisive or inconsistent. You must take the counter-arguments into account. Demonstrate their weaknesses, admit their strengths, and revise your own argument accordingly. In practice this takes many forms. It might mean answering the counter-arguments and showing their inadequacy. It might mean retracting part of your thesis or one of your arguments for it. It might mean qualifying an unqualified or oversimplified thesis. It might mean acknowledging an exception. It might mean making a concession. It will almost always mean making a simple argument complex.

Now, we know that the cornucopians do not specialize in two-sidedness.  But cannot the same sometimes be said of the peak oil theoreticians?  The way some readers have reacted to the recent `elephantine' GOM discovery is as though it were almost a sacrilege even to consider the possibility that the fraction of yet-to-find oil might still be large enough to adversely affect the latest version of the Hubbert curve.

I know. Impure thoughts.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned ....


The HL method assumes that more oil will be found and produced. That is why the down slope curve of the "bbl oil vs year" graph looks like a bell curve and not a cliff like downslope.

Reread pages 48 and 49 of "Beyond Oil". Deffeys quantifies just how much more oil is expected to be found. By his estimate, 100 bbl of oil is yet to be discovered. You will need far more of these 3bbl to 15bbl discoveries to even match that estimate, much less push the whole curve out of shape.

Get back to me when you can put unproduced estimated recoverable reserves in your gas tank. Reserves are an opinion -- geologist Greg Croft. Fill up the car with an opinion. You have sinned against the Father, repent! Hah!

I have considered all the arguments, I agonize about it every day...

Great link

I wish the press had also reported this quote:

"In 1996, ten years after initial acreage leasing in the PFB, the industry consortium of Shell, Texaco, Amoco and
Mobil combined resources to drill the "largest remaining undrilled structure in North America" named BAHA
(Figure 3)."

Then it would not feel like there is much more oil left to find, but rather that these are the last drops out of the now empty bottle.

Meet Vinod Khosla, ethanol evangelist

What kind of article is this anyway? Check out these descriptions of Khosla:

"his deepset eyes"

"the barrel-chested Khosla"

"wearing a tight-fitting full sleeved tee shirt"

"his full lips and firm buttocks"

OK, I made that last one up. :-) But I was half expecting that to turn up in the article.  

But that was the best one!

I agree, you missed some opportunities in your Khosla articles, Robert. You do have the literrary skills.
How about these? If I write another article on him, I may include some passages like this, inspired by the article above:

"When I spoke with the silky-voiced Khosla on the phone, his smooth demeanor sated my objections."

"In a recent e-mail from VK, his hypnotic writing style left me mesmerized, and broke down my resistance to his advances (in cellulosic ethanol)."

I dare thee, Rapier:

When, halfway through the conversation, he suggested I call him Vinod, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been blind; it wasn't just his overpowering intelligence; no, my new friend exudes the natural virility that so characterizes the natural-born leader, a man that people will blindly follow because they instinctively realize that trust need nevermore be an issue; this rare human was placed among us to guide his lost flock; an enlightened spirit driven by divine powers towards self-effacing sacrifice.

The alpha male has entered the energy industry, and all we have to do from here on in is to be humble, silent, devout, while his soft spoken words and gentle though decisive actions will show us the way to that very place where the waters shall part, and the brilliant shining path to the new lands of waving grains laid bare before our eyes.

I must humbly bow to the skills of a much better creative writer than myself. Honestly, that's why I never write fiction. I am just not good at that kind of creative writing.
Goddamn, Bob "Rape", when a fellow 'merrikan tells ya ya have "literrary" skills I think ya ought to sit up and listen to the sumbitch and write yer ass off.

Or something! :-)

who knows, one day we may combine our talents, and you have many that I don't, and enhance our inclusive fitness

ps that was fun to write

I always thought he looked like the evil cult leader in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But it seemed so un-PC to mention it.
First off if the photo is the way he was for the interveiw, with 'Satish John'  ( likely a female, but that's just a guess, I am good at spotting female thoughts in writing, but not prefect ), then he is not barrel chested nor in a tight fitting shirt.

A long sleeved pullover which my stunted fashion sense ( my 2nd ex-wife Trisha is rolling her eyes even now ) is rather cool looking in both senses of the word, cool and comfortable in a hot clime, and cool looking too ( I bet it's silk or rayon).  If I had the clotthes budget he has I'd be dressed in nice clothes like that, and my trademark shorts and sandals too.  

This was a puff piece!! It looks serious, but its a puff piece,  an article written to make you feel good about this persons ideas.

My dad is the same size around as this guy is, in the picture. And NO ONE says my dad is barrel chested,  though I think my dad is shorter than Vinod is, and I am willing to bet 5 times stronger.  

Robert it is a Puff piece, with facts thrown in to make it sound like we should follow him to the alter of the Ethanol Deity like the author mentions early on, its a product selling point.  Facts can be half lies in a piece like this and no one thinks twice about it.

I guarantee you that if your Dad had a billion dollars, chicks would marvel at his "barrel chest" and "deepset eyes".  
NPR ran a story this morning in Morning Edition, including an interview with Daniel Yergin. Yergin sounded quite reasonable, cautioning that we would not see significant production for 5-6 years and noting that the first oil was discovered in this region about 5 years ago, so that lead times from discovery to production are quite long. He also said he thought that the oil  companies were using $35/barrel as a "test" price, i.e. they were expecting to earn an acceptable return on investment if oil is $35/barrel.


Yergin Interview:

I went to Walmart yesterday (please don't scold me!) and noticed some empty shelves in the shoe dept.  They calculate everything very carefully, empty shelves don't make money.  Anybody else noticing anything like this at the big-box retailers?
I also like to try and gauge the traffic on my commute, and I do think there is less, sometimes at least.  Hard to tell, if it's only maybe 5-10%.  But I think I'm seeing it.  Anyone else?
By the way, my previous post about water was referring to Phoenix and Vegas.  If the energy shortage don't get 'em the water drying up sure will.  Add GW here...
Yes! My Dad went to Wal-Mart yesterday and
remarked how much empty shelving he saw.
I've noticed this at both Wally's World and my local grocer.  I noticed many things seem to be thin and I've asked clerks about it and they simply don't get paid enough to know whats going on I suppose.  Most blame it on the store managers, but I really don't know how two stores (literally across the street from one another) can both be experiencing thin shelves b/c of two different managers.
From a retailer's management perspective, less inventory is a good thing because it reduces your holding costs.  I don't think it is an issue with their supply chain, rather the retailers are forecasting slower sales and are reducing inventory held in proportion with those lower sales.

I think what your seeing is perhaps deliberate reduction in inventory in preparation of a proceeding recession, which almost all forward looking economic indicators are showing.

Sounds reasonable.  But here's my beef.  I tend to shop on Sat's early in the AM before EVERYONE gets there.  Why is it that at the start to your day, you would have thinly stocked shelves or worse I've actually had to go to anther grocer to finish my shopping?  Now they've missed out on my biz and they may have reduced holding costs but they've also lost potential profits.  I do believe at least the grocer may be haphazardly managed at this location b/c if I burn extra gas to peruse another of their locations (in a little nicer area) they do NOT suffer from this.

Now Wally world missing stuff is a whole nother issue since they are run warehouses on wheels.

Recession, possibly, but I kind of doubt it.  My thinking is its the shift from Summer lines to Fall.

Walmart and other stores down here are liquidating summer products (everything from clothes, to sun tan lotion) and prepping space for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I think its the lull before the seasonal spending storm.  Also Labor day just shot by with Labor day sales, again designed to clear out inventory.

As for the grocery stores... can't help you there, but possibly again, prepping for fall products, like row upon row of Trick or Treat candy?  I know the Kroger I go to usually has 3 or 4 rows dedicated to holiday favors usually a month or two in advance of the actual holiday.  Halloween Easter and Christmas are big candy seasons with a slow down after Easter til the next Halloween.

Im talking some food staples.  They were missing several baking products that my fiance wanted and one time they were our of pork steaks!  I don't think most of you know what a Pork Steak is though....I understand it is a midwest maybe even a St Louis thing.
Here is a plug for Walton Feed, "been in business 54 years and has been providing dehydrated foods and supplies for immediate use and long term food storage for over 20 years."
For the last 8 months or so it's been almost impossible to find several kinds of contact lens cleaning fluids in the stores around here.  The supermarket I go to has had an empty shelf with a "we're working on the supply problem" sign all this time.  Makes me think of the Soviet Union, and the collapse of the empire.  An early sign?
Just what I was afraid of.  Thanks for the reports!
You can order some of that stuff online, it will be more expensive than buying it locally though, online-buying of a lot of things is more expensive.

I suggest some "street level economics" type research on this, talk to people at your local Wally's, Radio Shack, etc., look for those empty shelves or other little signs, like better brands being replaced with lower-quality (and often funny looking lol) brands of stuff in your market. Woops where's the Best Foods mayo now they only have store brand etc.

I've done a bit of asking around of various people, seems to normal workweek in my survey is 60 hours.

Yes, the fall of this Empire and the fall of the Soviet Empire will not be completely dissimilar.

No, I think it's the Bausch and Lomb recall.  They found that a weird fungal infection of the eye was spreading all over the world.  Of course, no one really cared until U.S. residents started to be affected.  

It was unusual, because this infection is usually found in tropical areas, but people in the northern U.S. were getting it.

It was eventually linked to Bausch and Lomb contact lens solution.  They voluntarily recalled it, and the epidemic stopped.

No one knows what the problem was.  The solution itself was not contaminated.  But somehow, people who used it were prone to this fungal infection.

I too have noticed, at both big box retailers and little local stores. And as someone else pointed out, its not just seasonal items or big ticket items either. But bread, fruit, veggies, things you really need. Heck -even Coke and Pepsi products, and those companies get furious if their shelves aren't kept stocked!

I thought it was just a local problem, but the fact that others have noticed it too is worrisome.

Got a question for the geologists. Here in east
texas the wilcox is both productive as a fresh
water aquifer and oil producer. It does produce
oil as shallow as 450', and in my county is the
most prolific fresh water aquifer (900').
  From my limited geological experience, I found
in east Texas and Louisiana the Wilcox was at
the top of the geological strata column. Question
is, if the Jack prospect is below the Louann salt,
can it be expected to produce at many other intervals
below the Wilcox?
  Second question, how did it get below the Louann
salt when all production onshore (offshore) is
above the Louann?
Read the pdf file I cited. Link above.

  I'm not a geologist, I'm a Landman who has read a lor of geology. With that caveat, I'll attempt to answer your question about the salt.
  Salt is plastic under pressure and rises from the original Louann Salt bed under the immense pressures found at depth. It often detaches from the mother salt bed and floats up through the shales and sands and spreads out to provide a seal for oil and gas bearing sands and limes. So this production sounds like productions from overhangs on onshore fields, like the overhangs at Barbers' Hill or Spindletop. Mike Halbouty's book Salt Domes of Texas and Mexico, second edition, has some great illustrations that might help you visualise this. It was published by Gulf Publishing.
  I don't know about formations below the Wilcox in the northern Gulf. The article linked by Dave Cohen above seems to indicate not. Maybe some Cretaceous-and I don't know about Woodbine in that area. But the subsalt play may continue in to deepwater Mexico in the Cretaceous.
  My question: shouldn't we be looking at the subsalt potential of the onshore salt domes with 3 D seismic?
Some more articles for today:

Ethanol: Good for car fuel, mouthwash?

Why find another use for ethanol at a time when demand for the fuel has skyrocketed?  Because while the demand for fuel ethanol could wane if the automotive industry embraces other technology, “the demand for liquor and mouthwashes and cough syrups will always be there,” ...

(They make it sound like booze from corn is a new idea, and as if there will be need for billions of gallons of mouthwash?)

Meanwhile, in Israel:

Amdocs, whose 3,000-strong fleet is one of the biggest in the country, has been testing three different devices that claim to reduce fuel consumption. The most successful one is called Supertech.   This small cylindrical device is made of perforated metal with magnets, a diode and ceramic components. The manufacturer claims that when placed inside the fuel tank, the device reduces fuel consumption by improving combustion. Supertech can be used in both gasoline and diesel engines.  ... The device, which Amdocs began testing in December 2004, has been installed in about 50 of the company's cars.  "Compared to cars without the device, there's a difference of 8 to 10 percent in fuel consumption," Rosenthal said. "It could save millions" ... According to Euro FuelSaver, Supertech's Italian manufacturer, the device transmits electromagnetic waves that temporarily change the fuel's molecular structure. This change improves the fuel's reaction with oxygen and makes the combustion process more efficient."

- hmmm, I always thought such devices are pure bunk.  How to explain the test results?  Did they give the cars with the device to their more energy-minded and light-footed drivers?

Exactly. If you're aware a device has been placed in your car that's supposed to decrease fuel consumtion, you'll drive more light-footed and get that 8-10% better mileage. It's easy to get that or more just with driving habits.

It's not that there's anything to the device, it's that almost no one understands the virtures of double-blind testing.

Uranium price rises from $48.50 to $52 / oz in 1 week

I started following U a couple of years ago when it was $29.  The price is marked weekly and rises of 50c to $1 or no rise at all are the norm.  So $3.5 in 1 week is a huge jump (if the figures are correct).


That should be $48.50 to $52 / pound, not ounce.
I'll take a couple pounds please.  Where can you deliver to?
Delivery is international (ask about our special intercontinental option, guaranteed to your doorstep within 30 minutes.)  Also this week, try our special "Chicago" style option, with the extra thick graphite crust.  Order electronically at  mailto:AQkhan@strangelv.com.   </kidding>

Actually, U3O8 might be an excellent investment vehicle, likely to increase in value even more than Au in an energy-deficient world.  You could stash a few thousand barrel of oil equivalents under your mattress.

I like your humor.  We need more of it around here sometimes....
from what i remember reading
we are using 2x as much uranium as we digging up each year, with a lot coming from old stockpiles
Decommissioned warheads maybe?
This has been going on for years, so it can't explain any recent price movements.  In the short to medium term, the stockpile drawdown makes it difficult to justify putting money into uranium exploration and development.  Eventually, when the drawdown is done,  people will start reopening mines and looking for fresh prospects.
While scanning the print edition of today's Wall Street Journal, I read an article ("Calderon Wins Mexico's Presidential Election") on Calderon's victory in Mexico's presidential election. The article discusses the many challenges Calderon will face during his six-year term.

The article notes that Mexico's oil industry will present the president-elect with one of these challenges and states that:

"Mexico's oil production has peaked by most estimates, and the country could become a net oil importer by the end of Mr. Calderon's presidency".

Regular TOD readers are well versed on the decline of Mexico's Cantarell field and Westexas' postings on future declines of global export capacity. But this is the first I've heard of Mexico becoming an oil importer in the very near future. Has anyone seen other references to this possibility?

If true, such an event will surely send shock waves through the United States (Mexico's currently our number two source of oil imports) and Mexico (which the article notes gets a third of its government revenue from oil exports).

Unfortunately the electronic version of the article is behind the WSJ paywall, and I have not found it reprinted electronically elsewhere.

Speaking of declines in production, I was reading over at Kunstler's site some of the comments Kunstler has posted by Jeffrey Brown. He says that he estimates "that the net exports from the top 10 net oil exporters are falling at an annual rate of 9.2%, since December, 2005." If this is the case, I believe the trend for exports would look something like this:


Is that correct? If so, it appears as though we'll be at 50% in about 3 years. Maybe I'm wrong. But if not, Yikes!


(The EIA showed Saudi Arabia to be producing 9.5 million bpd, crude + condensate, in December, 2006)

Texas and US Lower 48 oil production as a model for Saudi Arabia and the world
Jeffrey J. Brown & "Khebab", GraphOilogy


Based on the Hubbert Linearization (HL) method and based on our historical models, we believe that Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production.
first published May 25, 2006

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlebusiness.aspx?type=tnBusinessNews&storyID=nSP282454&ima geid=&cap=&from=business
Saudi pumping around 9 mln bpd of oil-Aramco exec


SINGAPORE, Sept 6, 2006 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is pumping about 9 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude, a senior official with state-owned Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday, less than was estimated in a Reuters poll for August.

"We are around 9 million barrels per day," Ibrahim Mishari, vice-president of marketing and supply planning, told a forum in Singapore. He declined to be more precise.

A Reuters poll of consultants, shippers, industry and OPEC sources on Tuesday estimated Saudi Arabia output at 9.3 million bpd.

Of course KSA has already entered the PR spin market, claiming things like a saturated market, no clients, competition from non-OPEC, and will use that tall tale for a while to come to explain any downward trend in production.
And in the meantime schlepp any rig they can find into their fields.

They've seen it coming (no wonder if Ghawar is where Heinberg puts it).

And that makes your work all the more valuable, so we can avoid being trapped inside a total 3-D seismic smokescreen.

Good to see you didn't leave after all.

I'm trying to gradually fade away . . . .
So is Jay Z
(The EIA showed Saudi Arabia to be producing 9.5 million bpd, crude + condensate, in December, 2005)
Hello Planner,

Thxs for your posting!

We have had many posts on PEMEX and the Cantarell Crash--they can be found by an archive search.

I have been updating TODers with posts on Mexico recently, especially after their recent election standoff and killings in Oaxaca.  Here is the latest update from the The Nation.  Hopefully they can peacefully compromise, otherwise, Sept. 15,16 maybe the first days of terrible violence.  I believe Mexico's combined political and energy problems pose a greater current threat to our national security than many other FF exporters-- but I can't decide which is the better overall solution: closing the border vs SuperNafta incorporation.  The topdogs seem to be pushing for SuperNafta and the privatization of PEMEX.

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

EROEI of wind power - HELP!

I am trying to get to the bottom of EROEI (or equivalent) for wind power:

Vestas are quoting an energy balance of 7 months for a 3 MW off shore turbine - i.e. 7 monhts to repay all the energy for the life cycle of 20 years - EROEI of 34? (would you like to comment Nate?)


Richard Heinberg The Party's Over (p 164) has an "Energy Yield Ratio" of 2+ for wind.

Wolf at the Door quotes an "Energy Profit Ratio" of 0.03 to 2 for wind.


There seems to be massive discrepancy here.  Any authoratative views and links on this would be most welcome!

Here's what the British Wind Energy Association say on it...


Thanks Oily Bill.  I wrote to BWEA today and they gave me the Vestas link - so they are using the Vestas data.
Shameless Self Promotion

Biggest US oil find in years sparks hope for energy security

The announcement that new oil production has been succesfully tested in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico was hailed by experts as proof that oil has not yet reached its peak production, but many questions and concerns remain....


Energy investment banker Matt Simmons (one of the leading 'peak oil' defenders expressed his scepticism about the enthusiasm surrounding this new oil discovery. "In the past 15 years, there've been so many great projects that started out and then petered out," Simmons told Reuters.

A critical analysis of deep ocean energy resources can be found on the "Oil Drum" blog.

Experts also warned that the new oil discoveries would not usher in a new era of lower oil prices, as the size of potential reserves from these fields will remain modest compared to the huge oil fields in the Middle East. There are also very high costs connected to further exploitation of the deep-water fields in the Gulf of Mexico.


Price of uranium has more than quadrupled in just a few years. I know there are quite a amount of uranium in the world, but not quite convinced that theres a lot of economical uranium. The proponents of nuclear power, such as world nuclear association, advocates that there is no conceveable peak uranium scenario visible.

I'd like to hear some informed opinions on the resource base. Are WNA as optimisic on economical uranium as, say CERA on economical hydrocarbons?

(And i'm of course aware that "economical uranium" depends on what one consider as cheap, but for the game; say twice the current price)

As far i my understanding goes, there is currently not beeing built breeder reactors in numbers anywhere remotely close to the conventional designs. Correct?

I've heard estimates of 50 years at current consumption rates, and current known deposits. However, if we ramp up nuclear power, we would have a lot less. Nuclear energy proponents like to point out that the cost of uranium is negligble in the economics of nuclear power. As we mine increasingly low-grade ore, the cost of obtaining the uranium increases, but since it is a minor cost, so what? We could mine lower and lower grade ores. Some even argue that we could get uranium from seawater. I think that's nuts. The environmental, human, and energy costs of digging up large swaths of earth to obtain modest quantities of uranium (once the uranium mines are exhausted), or extracting from seawater, seem prohibitive to me. Then there's the waste disposal problem...
there are zero working breeder reactors in the world at present

there is one surrogate in Russia that is not a real breeder

I LOVE saying:: breeders are dead

Breeder reactors are uneconomical compared to standard fission reactors, as long as uranium is cheap. Thorium breeder reactors are possible, but they produce U-233 which can be easily extracted to make nuclear weapons. (It doesn't require isotope separation, only chemical extraction.) As such, they pose a significant nuclear weapons proliferation risk.
I think we are more likely at the birthing part of the breeder lifecycle rather than at the end. Right now uranium is too inexpensive to justify deployment of breeders, though it would be wise to invest in their development, so that we can use them when we need them.
that would be a reeeeally long birth, then, wouldn't it?
not even whales are pregnant for 50 years

go to stormsmith.nl
MIT did even more, and they declared breeders a thing of the past

thorium is theory, and there's tons of those around
problem is, it's too late for theory
yeah yeah, thorium works on paper, but
we desperately need stuff that works now, not "hopefully" in 25 years

bright spot: if breeders are dead, we have much lees of a population issue

investing in breeders would be the worst of all, even ethanol trumps that
at least ethanol works....

Fifty years isn't so long when compared to the centuries that we have until breeder reactores will be necessary.  I think that nuclear power has several features that encourage/require  longer term planning and thinking, a good thing for our society IMO.

Storm & Smith are generally very pessimistic in their reasoning, which is at best described as semitechnical.  I feel what they mostly do is an elaborate form of setting up and knocking down the strawman.  The MIT study did not declare breeders a thing of the past, just not currently economical with relatively cheap uranium, but sure to be used in the future.

We do need stuff that works now, but we also need stuff that will sustain us over centuries.  For alot of the issues that we consider here at TOD, even 25 years is short term thinking.  

I am not clear on the population comment.  Countries with high birth rates are probably not where anyone expects to see lots of nuclear power any time soon.  I do feel that an expansion of some form of nuclear power is needed to help prevent a catastrophic system collapse.

I don't know of any technical comparison of ethanol to nuclear power or breeder reactors. Given the debate on TOD about even the basics of ethanol fuel cycles, it might not even be possible to do such a comparison.

The price of oil is dropping and so is Saudi Arabia's production.

I will stop there because it would be impolitic of me to tell you how I really feel about this.

I don't understand. Are you saying that demand is outstripping  reported production numbers, so price should be way higher?

I'll sum it up very quickly. Demand IS production. There are other factors that influence price like geopolitics and speculation. I think speculation has gotten a bad rub as of late and some who have gone long are getting cold feet.

As far as geopolitics. Well. There is no news. No new wars. Some guy got killed by a stingray. People are starting to realize that the Iran thing will go on forever.

Better hope for a very cold winter.

It would be kind of funny if SAT is right about $57 and T.Boone Pickens gets smoked on his $80 bet. But there's a long way to Mid-November. And a longer way till the end of the year.


I realize you are the big oil guy, but I thought production is called supply.  Right now there appears to be smaller growth in demand (1%, instead of 2-3%) and gasoline inventories(supply) are up.  Fundamentals do take over and the price is dropping since all the refiners seem to be flush with gasoline at the moment.
That's why I capitalized IS. There is a growing school of thought that the numbers have an extremely high margin of error. And that, if fact, production IS demand, since we can't accurately measure either.

Or, put another way - Supply IS demand. Or vice versa. Price acts as a balance point, approximately at the crossroads. All three factors revolve around each other like electrons around the nucleus. Forgive me if I've forgotten my physics terms. We never know exactly where they are, but we've got a pretty good idea. Good enough, so that if you can accurately figure out where two of the three are going, you can catch the third.

Keep in mind, gasoline and oil prices, actually effect each other. Quite heavily. Not simply a pass-through from oil to gas. Little remarked upon. I forget the word - symbiosis or something?

I get your point.  I think what it boils down to is the equilibrium theory and applying it to reality.  I've often wondered what REAL supply and Demand curves look like for a REAL industry.  So I read some more on equilibirum theory and from what I gather, it's not really known all that well.  

It simply makes it very easy to understand the concepts of what happenes when you change any of the factors affecting demand or supply.  In the equilibrium model demand does equal supply until something changes and in the real world everything is constantly changing so how accurate is any S&D model?  It's only as good as the underlying assumptions which in many cases are crap.

I was hoping you would. I was a bit nervous I'd have to deal with a bunch of negative feedback on this one. Luckily the thread is old enough that I don't think many people saw it.

This is in fact an extremely complex issue. Even though we call them "fundamentals." This subject will obviously come up again. I see Cry Wolf mentioned the demand is production thing on Friday (I think).

If you look at the EIA's weekly petroleum review they use "product supplied" for their official "demand" numbers - for gasoline.


As an econ student you should be figuring out by now that the "curve" part of S&D curves is crap.

It is a ploy that econ professors use to, yes, teach some basics; but also to slowly seduce students into believing unquestioningly in the all knowing, everywhere-present, Singularity Market. It is barely any different from getting people to believe in an all knowing, everywhere-present, Diety.

In truth, there is no one "Market". It's a bunch of Ask and Bid dots splattered like paint splashed over a canvas where the canvas is multi-dimensional so that the dots locate geographically and across time as well as differently for different classes of Askers and Bidders who posses different information sets and different economic powers.

For example, if you are a poor person who cannot afford to go far to buy your gasoline and there is only one station in your  vicinity (and you MUST have gasoline NOW in order to survive --get to your floor-scrubbing jobs), then all those S&D "curves" are an abstraction completely removed from your socio-economic and geographic realities. The only question for the monopolist gas-station owner is how much he can keep extracting from you without sending you into total bankruptcy. The only weapon you, the poor consumer, has is information. You need to keep sending "signals" to the station owner that you are poorer than he thinks so that he does not keep raising prices. It is in his interest to keep you economically viable, but barely. If you get too rich, you might be able to afford to drive further away and find a cheaper station. His interest is to keep lying to you by convincing you there are no cheaper stations. Your interest is to keep lying to him about how much money you made this week. The whole system is built around a bunch of lies.

S&D "curves" is just another lie along the road to becoming an unquestioning believer in the Smithian religion.

Hello TODers,

Hint for TODer newbies: As the threads continue to get longer, many of us [me included!] just don't have the time to catch up on all the previous threads to read the latest additions.  But, on the rightmost column is the your comments button that allows you to easily see any replies to your posts.

I just wanted to thank all the TODers that have replied to my postings [feeble as my postings are].  I have learned much from your knowledge--thxs.  I do use the your comments tool to read all replies: some I respond to, others I am content to let the responder have the last word.

GO TEAM TOD!  Remember, we are all in this Tragedy of the Commons together--let's stay polite to each other as we strive to learn together.

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

Absolutely, Bob. Let's stay polite and together as Saudi Arabia goes down the tubes.

Meanwhile, who around here speaks Russian? How about Farsi? Ibo? Kazakh?

Also, Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?



Take your pick.

its kind of hard for me to see Cheney as much of a human. Personaly, I feel as though we need to bury him at a crossroads with a stake through his heart.
Hey Bob, even threads are victims of exponentiality, right? told you!!
you can try figure out a way to get two separate Drumbeats, but we already know how that would end, it's just a matter of time
still, having said that, there's a high AVERAGE level here that is unique
(that's why it gets so busy)

though I understand Jeff's desire to slowly fade away, I can still wish he would not, because he teaches me plenty

it might be an idea to have an "all oil" thread, and an "all else" one, but it would take away some of the wildness, and as we all know, order never produced anything, while chaos creates
and besides, there IS a strong connection between peak oil, and peak food, and peak debt, and peak housing prices, and peak population, and peak everything, (tell you a secret, it's all about exponentiality)
so separating them inevitably takes away from something somewhere
it's at the meeting point where you get the best insights, but you got to get those while they last, there's too much information, and way too many people lost and looking

hmmm, is there enough IQ here to find a way to reset the beat before it goes down the drain at 500 posts a day? can we divert the peak in posts, or will we mourn post-peak? I have no answer ready, I look at this as I do at meny things these days, in that there are things that have to run their course. Yeast does run it scourse and asks no questions..

I'm hopeful.though: first step would be to ask people for some restraint, some sympathy, some taste. You know, have some respect for this place, it deserves it, this place is a temple of sorts, and if you break that, where will you go?, and never EVER use it to vent frustration. I see way too much of that. Beat up your kids and pets, guys!! Get nipple rings. Get green pills. But take off your shoes when you enter this place. For Bob's sake

Not you, Bob, no beating on pets for you, no nipple rings. You chill, man.

let's stay polite to each other as we strive to learn together.

I would say, let's stay polite to THOSE WHO strive to learn together.

Complementary hint to newbies, bookmark the comments pages of people whom you strongly agree OR DISAGREE with and from these "hooks" you will find the discussion threads that most interest you.

I've been thinking about Westexas' mantra a lot lately : Economize, Localize, and Produce. It was something that I had been doing unconsciously for quite a while, but I started wondering if others were too and took stock of things around me. Well, I was home sick today (don't ask) and caught up on a bit of reading. One thing I read was a story in the Christian Scinece Monitor on local  currencies. It piqued my interest, so I poked around some on line and discovered that lots of places have these now, and their becoming quite popular. Check it out:


Hello TODers,

Anybody in the restaurant business out there?  I have a question in regards to the viability of my still evolving postPeak strategy.

Let me preface my remarks.  Decades ago, when I was a teenager: I had a part-time dishwasher job at minimum wage at a HOBO JOE'S restaurant [a diner chain like a Denny's or IHOP]. They also allowed me to eat as much as I wanted while I was on the job.  Being a typical, rapidly-growing teenage boy: I had the cooks working practically non-stop preparing food for my mass consumption.  I believe I nearly doubled my real wage by this eating orgy.  =)

I have never ever had a weight problem due to my high metabolic burn-rate [6'5" tall, 185 lbs, 51 years old].  PostPeak, WTSHTF I hope to still eat minimally well by getting a job in a high-end Scottsdale restaurant to work for just food only. MY QUESTION: Do restaurants still allow this employee eating or do they prefer to compensate by giving devalued fiat currency?

If free employee consumption is still allowed: I think this is a preferable strategy for me as opposed to dumpster-diving for dinner.  I expect that my contributions to my 401k, Social Security, and hopes of a pension will simply evaporate in the stock market crash and ensuing widespread Wall Street insider corporate computer theft.  The required huge 60-75% US labor shift to intensive physical labor will favor the young being hired over the old for what is considered a postPeak livable wage, so my minimal goal is to seek a method whereby I can secure at least one good meal/day.

Of course, at this postPeak point, a high end restaurant for the rich might be mostly soup with some meat, SPAM, a rare shipment of eggs every now & then, steamed veggies, and fresh and crisp salads.  I think all the other fast-food joints and diners will be history as the vast majority of people will be forced to cook all their rudimentary meals at home to stretch their budgets.

In the early postPeak & climate change years, does this seem like a viable strategy for a relatively old fart?  Or do most think the Boomers will be economically forced to dumpster-diving very quickly?

I think there is a small window of opportunity for me because I seek only food for myself vs a younger man who needs to earn enough to feed his family--is this a reasonable assumption?

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

IME, employees get meals, but they are limited. You're allowed to have one meal per shift, say, and the price/size may be limited as well.  

You are usually allowed to buy extra food with an employee discount (25% off, say).  

A man's gotts do what a man's gotta do:

Potomac Bass Found to Be Bearing Eggs

Just in case someone needed more problems for her/his outlook on the future. Glad to be of service. Didn't really expect to pump your world full of hormones and get away unhurt, did you?
(hint: shrinking polar bear genitals. checked yours lately? eat a lot of fish? got kids?)

Abnormally developed fish, possessing both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River in the District and in tributaries across the region, federal scientists say -- raising alarms that the river is tainted by pollution that drives hormone systems haywire.

The fish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, are naturally males but for some reason are developing immature eggs inside their sex organs. Their discovery at such widely spread sites, including one just upstream from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, seems to show that the Potomac's problem with "intersex" fish extends far beyond the West Virginia stream where they were first found in 2003.
The results were striking, according to Vicki S. Blazer, a fish pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. More than 80 percent of all the male smallmouth bass they found were growing eggs, including all of the fish caught at four of the seven survey site

Its a "known problem" the culprits are likely the polycarbonates :

manmade chemicals, including plastics, can mimic hormones at extremely low doses.

Yet another "success" of unabridled technology.
Remember the asbestos problem?
How many thousands of crappy chemicals are we sprinkling around like mad?
From some remembrance of the REACH Directive, around 30,000.
Of course this Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals has received a mixed reaction from European business leaders.

BTW, I am NOT a luddite nor technophobe, but if including the cost of externalities in the cost of production makes some production infeasible this just means that this production is NOT COST EFFECTIVE, not economically viable.

Hello TODers,

Here is another Mexico update from the Washington Post:
The possibility of a violent conclusion to the confrontation between the government and the demonstrators is now becoming part of the country's political discussion

Mexico is "a country torn apart," declared Alvaro Delgado in Proceso (in Spanish), the country's leading political newsweekly on the eve of the tribunal's decision. The country's "severe political crisis is accelerating and will, if it is not headed off, degenerate into a constitutional descent into violence."

The country's entrepreneurial and political elite, wrote another Proceso columnist, Denise Dresser, have their "eyes wide shut."

"They avoid the challenges and do not understand how great they have become," she wrote. "They diminish the post-electoral crisis when they will have to face it anyway. They think the storm will pass just by ignoring it."

The uncertainty of what will happen next is generating worries of a violent crackdown. One of the formative public memories of Mexican politics is the so-called Tlatelolco Massacre on October 2, 1968, in which the PRI government crushed a burgeoning student movement with gunfire that killed scores of peaceful demonstrators. The government then denied all responsibility. With Mexico City again engulfed by street protests, there is fear that history will repeat itself.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

It's very different now, there was no serious electoral challenge to the PRI then. If AMLO can keep the momentum of protest elevated, the establishment won't be able to successfully respond with violence.
Hello Smekhovo,

Thxs for responding.  You make a very good point--I hope that you are correct and peaceful negotiations ensue.

I have read other reports that AMLO's support is shrinking to a committed, but radical 'critical mass'.  If this is true: the Mexican elite may decide to go ahead and militarily crush it.  Then, that ill-conceived action may or may not ignite a civil war.  I have no idea how this will all play out--but I hope more Americans are watching and becoming deeply concerned.  Not only are Mexican lives at stake, but nearly 2 million barrels/day of exports to the US are in jeopardy too.  I would be greatly disheartened if the next step in the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario would be a US invasion to takeover the Mexican oil infrastructure, followed by fighting a Mexican insurgency.

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

The numbers in LA Times article Leanan linked to at the top of her post don't make any sense to me. 800Kb/d is said to be 11% of US crude oil production, which would make US production about 7.2Mb/d, whereas according to EIA it's about 5.12Mb/d. And the US is said to "burn through" 5.7Gb/y, which would come to 15.6Mb/d -- way low, right?