DrumBeat: September 7, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 09/07/06 at 9:14 AM EDT]

Plenty of Oil—Just Drill Deeper

The discovery of reserves in the Gulf of Mexico means supply isn't topping out

You can tune out all the scare talk about Peak Oil for a while—probably a long while. Peak Oil is the theory, on the verge of becoming conventional wisdom, that the world's petroleum supply is topping out and will not be able to meet global demand soaring along with the economies of China and India. But a successful test in a mammoth field deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, announced on Sept. 5 by Chevron, Devon Energy, and Norway's Statoil, should help put that scary scenario on hold for decades.

[Update by Leanan on 09/07/06 at 9:27 AM EDT]

A Bubble In Crude

Those worried about having enough oil can relax. A big new discovery shows there's plenty out there — if we have the guts and patience to go get it.

Rift widens between producers, consumers

High crude prices have widened the rift between consuming nations, hungry for oil now, and producers who argue they must manage their reserves for the future.

Britain used the latest technology to pump as much North Sea oil as possible and now its fields are declining at the fastest rate in the world.

At the other extreme, under-explored Libya, whose oil development was hobbled by years of international sanctions, has rising production rates and great potential.

Congress finds BP Alaska problems: Investigators find "significant problems" with the way BP Plc maintained its Prudhoe Bay facility in Alaska. Matt Simmons says BP's CEO was "AWOL."

Energy stats of confusion

One of the hazards involved in energy analysis is placing too much emphasis on raw data, like the kind one finds in the U.S. Energy Information Agency’s weekly and monthly reports. While rawness may be a desirable attribute in certain meats and vegetables, it is less desirable in statistical information that is susceptible to errors requiring a correction at some later point. It is even more exasperating when the changes are significant enough to warrant junking a hypothesis that explained the earlier results well but doesn’t fit at all with the newly redrawn picture.

Offshore-drilling legislation heats up

Tom Whipple - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Word Begins to Spread.

Norway oil output 'peaking'

Norway's oil output is peaking at around 3 million barrels per day and will stay at this level for the next four to five years before the country switches focus to natural gas production, a senior government official said today.

SRAK Begins Drilling for Gas in Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter

Malaysia runs short of palm oil estates

Malaysia, the world's largest palm oil producer, says that it has almost run out of land suitable for new plantations of the crop, and that it will need to raise productivity of existing trees if it is to tap rising demand.

China says energy needs won't cause conflict

China to Invest in "Combustible Ice" As New Energy Source

Over the next decade, China plans to invest 800 million RMB (US $100 million) in the development of methane gas hydrate—so-called “combustible ice”—to meet its rising energy demand and alleviate heavy dependence on fossil fuels, according to a report by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner.

Botswana: Analysts Warn of High Fuel Prices

Russia may face gas supply crisis in 2 years

[Update by Leanan on 09/07/06 at 1:28 PM EDT]

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 1, 2006 - Oil falls below $67 a barrel after BP says Prudhoe Bay could hit full capacity by next month and report shows surprise jump in gasoline inventories.

But a successful test in a mammoth field deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico, announced on Sept. 5 by Chevron, Devon Energy, and Norway's Statoil, should help put that scary scenario on hold for decades.

Decades? Someone is in need of a good debunking.

Hmm. Weeks?
It's not difficult.

In rough numbers, today the US imports about 13 mb/d.  This increases by approximately 5% per year.  Assuming our demand and domestic production decline don't change much, in 2010 we will be importing around 15.8 mb/d.  If in 2010 they bring on 400 kb/d, this brings our import requirement down to 15.4 mb/day.  Even if they find two more of these and bring on an additional 800 kb/d by 2010 (HA!), our import requirement will still be 14.6 mb/day, or 12% more than we use today.

Energy security in the US?  Even this optimistic example says loud and clear, "Sell your Hummer."

Wow, this field might replace almost 3% of our import needs in 2010!
Or hey, we could raise fuel efficiency standards, and have at least as large an impact, but that's no fun.
Jevons. It's tired, but true.
Jevons. It's tired, but true.

That's not entirely clear.

This DOE report on the 25th anniversary of the first oil shock notes that since CAFE standards first appeared, fuel efficiency of the US fleet has increased 70%, but per-capita petroleum consumption has decreased by about 15%.

It's important to remember that Jevon's Paradox says increased efficiency can lead to increased use, not that it will, and the most relevant historical example (increased efficiency in the US after an oil shock) suggests that it will not.

In other words, history suggests that efficiency is worth looking at and cannot rationally be dismissed out of hand.  (Whether and how much it will help, of course, is open to debate.)

Were it not for JP, a 70% increase in efficiency would translate into a 70% decrease in per capita consumption, n'est-ce pas?  So JP ate up the other 55%.
Were it not for JP, a 70% increase in efficiency would translate into a 70% decrease in per capita consumption, n'est-ce pas?  So JP ate up the other 55%.

Perhaps, but that wasn't the claim.  The claim was that any increase in efficiency would be self-defeating, since JP would make that translate into an increase in consumption, and that's simply not true.

While it's certainly the case that per-capita consumption didn't drop as much as per-mile consumption did (15% vs. 40% = 100%-100%/1.70), that's much what you'd expect based on a supply/demand analysis; i.e., more efficiency = lower per-mile cost = more miles = lower decrease in total cost than in cost-per-mile.

Jevon's Paradox is simply noting that sometimes (relatively rarely) the demand for extra miles at the new per-mile price is so much higher than at the old price that the total cost actually increases.  That's not really all that surprising in light of modern supply/demand thought, though.

It's also worth noting that Jevon's Paradox is much less likely to apply to a mature market, rather than an emerging one, since the scope for increased consumption is so much lower.  If fuel efficiency went up by 100% in the US, it's unlikely that people would increase their miles driven by over 100% in response; most people just don't have that many extra miles they want to drive, so the "mile demand" is largely saturated, regardless of efficiency.  (Of course, we'd probably see SUVs come back into vogue to some extent, so we'd see the same kind of smaller-but-positive improvement that we saw from the CAFE standards.)

Pitt the Elder...

Your distinction is academic. The fact remains demand increases for gasoline every year, as does the domestic (and global) demand for crude. Our industrial economies require increased energy inputs for growth, otherwise financial markets wither. If efficiency cannot gain inversely proportionate to global crude oil depletion then there is trouble. IMHO there is simply no way efficiency can make the required advances to replace the most energy dense and useful liquid that we've discovered and consume is massive amounts. We have built our infrastructure around the highly inefficient internal combustion engine.

As of now, until the Dow drops dead or some other climatic event (no pun intended!) in whatever bizarre form--I was just stating that JP must hold true in a world of unequal humans, where billions are in poverty and billions of others in industrialized countries with computers, cars and credit cards. There is a natural tendency for the global system to encompass all humans in the "good" modern life of industrial societies. Energy = affluence. Hence, here in the US waste equals profit. There are masses eager to participate in the consumer cult culture we have created here in the West. If we conserve, that will be displaced by someone else, that is the fact. The Chinese have trade surpluses that they are siphoning off into development of highways and sprawling cities--a rising middle class is now displacing the old status quo of bicycles. In Shanghai, now most major roads don't even allow bikes. Not that I'm any Critical Mass proselytizer for bicycles--I prefer the subway. And as long as oil use and demand are rising--which is a necessity in order to ensure growth, then JP will hold true with a vengeance regardless of those who tout "efficiency" and "alternative energy" as saviors. More will be included in the easy-motoring economy, which will just further propagate demand. The financial system is built around these fundamentals, no-growth is not a viable option under present conditions...and if it rears its ugly head soon (like I and many others here at TOD believe it will) then people must know that "efficiency" and "alternative" fuels alone will not support the same kind of system that we had become accustomed to.

When will people realize there is no viable alternative for crude oil? Especially at the present global population level. We are going to have to make other arrangements, as JHK puts it.

If efficiency cannot gain inversely proportionate to global crude oil depletion then there is trouble. IMHO there is simply no way efficiency can make the required advances to replace the most energy dense and useful liquid that we've discovered and consume is massive amounts. We have built our infrastructure around the highly inefficient internal combustion engine.

All potentially true, and all completely unrelated to Jevon's Paradox.

While you're right that it'll be almost impossible for efficiency gains to keep up with exponential demand growth in the face of falling production, that has nothing to do with Jevon's Paradox, and invoking it only obscures the very valid point you're trying to make.

Jevon's Paradox is not a general indictment of energy dependency; it's a very narrow observation, and simply doesn't describe most of the problems we're facing.  When it comes to Peak Oil, Jevon's Paradox probably doesn't apply at all.

Pitt the Elder,

Thanks for thoughtful treatment of Jevon's Paradox. It helps that I happen to agree with you and think that invoking JP in discussion is often just a substitute for "Tsk, Tsk.."

The fact that I'm converting my travel to mostly a human electric hybrid (tandem bike) makes the rhetorical taming of JP even nicer. I feel good!

Roy in Silicon Valley

Oh, yes, one more thing:

Our industrial economies require increased energy inputs for growth, otherwise financial markets wither.

Historical evidence suggests that's not true.

Per-capita energy consumption in the US hasn't changed over the last 25 years (http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1c.xls), so the US uses only 60% as much energy per (chained-2000) dollar of GDP as it did in 1980 (http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1p.xls).
i.e., the US has seen roughly 65% per-capita GDP growth with zero growth in per-capita energy use.

Even world per-capita energy consumption is only up 10% in the last 25 years (http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1c.xls), despite much faster growth in real per-capita GDP, so it's not as if the increased energy efficiency in the US has (primarily) come at the expense of vastly greater energy use elsewhere.

Of course, that's not to say Peak Oil doesn't represent a serious problem; obviously, it does.  But the number and scope of problems it does threaten should be identified and examined as clearly as possible, and, fortunately, it is not the case that economic growth requires energy consumption growth.

Pitt, you write,

" But the number and scope of problems it does threaten should be identified and examined as clearly as possible, and, fortunately, it is not the case that economic growth requires energy consumption growth." (my stress)

Again, excuse me, but I believe your historical evidence is just another semantic to make a very grim situation look somewhat palatable. I think the evidence is to the contrary, namely, that economic growth, in the modern financial sense, is predicated on increased energy consumption. Everything that enables our economies to "grow" is based on having more available energy.

Also, I cannot concieve of a situation where decreased energy consumption could lead to a growth based economy, in the fashion that we have been accustomed to.

What matters is absolute growth not per capita.

Of course, you're only talking about the US--the most wasteful society on earth, not that hard for us to cut some of our totally wasteful energy expenditures and recycle that through "efficiency"... Of course, global energy consumption per capita had to be rising over the last 150 years since the discovery of crude oil--and as you cite, over the last 25 years with 10% increase per capita. Maybe you could find statistical anomalies within that graph and point them out.

You also fail to realize that through energy arbitrage, so to speak, our economy's energy consumption has been displaced and "globalized". Now factories in China and the rest of the newly industrialized world use tons of energy that is not officially "counted" by your US DOE data.

Also, during the last 25 years efficiency has rapidly developed, but is starting to hit a wall.

One can only make the internal combustion engine so efficient before it must be replaced with something new (costly,/long-timeline) or with another fuel (unlikely/grain based ethanol is a swindle).

My point about JP is still simply what it initially was... That even with increased efficiency you still need absolute gains annually (with required population growth) in order for financial markets to function properly. The system just doesn't work otherwise, no matter how hard one can close their eyes and imagine that everything is gonna be A-OK in a no energy growth global economy.

We'll see, time will tell.

I think the evidence is to the contrary, namely, that economic growth, in the modern financial sense, is predicated on increased energy consumption.

Based on what evidence do you believe that?

Yes, it's surprising (at least to me) and a little counter-intuitive that per-capita GDP has gone up so much despite per-capita energy consumption going up so little (or not at all), but that is the fact of the matter.  Accordingly, our theories should be based on what we observe, not on what we believe.

I cannot concieve of a situation where decreased energy consumption could lead to a growth based economy

It happened in the US from 1979 through 1983.

Obviously, that's not saying it will happen, but that does suggest that it can happen, so it might be an option worth looking at.

(Keep in mind also that you're pushing a bit of a false dichotomy; I was just talking about lack of growth, rather than outright decline.)

What matters is absolute growth not per capita.

Absolutely.  There are two reasons I've been talking about per-capita consumption:

First, my point was really pretty simple:  economic growth without growth in energy consumption is possible - at least theoretically - since historical evidence shows us that a group (e.g., 100M Americans) can have large growth in GDP while having no growth in energy consumption.

Second, demographic trends suggest that this may be achievable in practice.  The West - the world's major energy consumer - has a rapidly-falling population growth rate, and will reach no population growth in the medium term.  What that means is that the challenge of maintaining no overall growth in energy consumption is relatively modest for the West as a whole - about a 0.5% decrease in per-capita consumption per year - and it will get easier as time progresses, since the growth rate will get lower (all other things being equal, which of course they won't be).

I haven't been arguing that it will happen, should happen, or even necessarily can happen; what I've been arguing is that evidence does not support the claim that it can not happen, so more investigation is needed.

Even world per-capita energy consumption is only up 10% in the last 25 years (http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1c.xls), despite much faster growth in real per-capita GDP, so it's not as if the increased energy efficiency in the US has (primarily) come at the expense of vastly greater energy use elsewhere.

You also fail to realize that through energy arbitrage, so to speak, our economy's energy consumption has been displaced and "globalized".

No, I addressed that explicitly, as the above quote shows.

during the last 25 years efficiency has rapidly developed, but is starting to hit a wall.

Interesting.  What is your evidence for this?

That it "makes sense" does not mean that it's true.

That even with increased efficiency you still need absolute gains annually (with required population growth) in order for financial markets to function properly. The system just doesn't work otherwise

What is your evidence for this?

The system did work otherwise, from (for example) 1979 to 1983 in the US.  Stock markets even kept going up (although the S&P500 had a crash in 1981/82, it was still higher even at the trough).

In some ways, that illustrates my overall point:  there are variety of "common wisdom" claims that people assert, and those claims typically make quite a lot of sense, but those claims may well be false.

Without evidence - hard, factual evidence - to support a claim, it's very difficult to tell what's true and what's urban myth.

So I'm trying to provide some historical and quantifiable evidence regarding some of these claims, and - having no personal preference for whether these claims turn out to be true or not - I'm pushing the conclusions that the data support.  That is my overall point.

My own take on Jevon's Paradox is that it simply notes the observed tendency of exponential growth to overwhelm any increases in efficiency. The US consumes whatever percentage more crude now than in 1970 in spite of any increase in average car mileage or increases in efficiency of other uses. Same applies to electricity. Efficiency of appliances, computers, etc. has increased quite a bit, so has overall consumption..... Jevon's Paradox.

Bottom line: it doesn't make sense to try applying JP to narrow cases, it applies on a society-wide scale.

A good example of Jevon's Paradox is those corn stoves being used in the Midwest. Corn is so cheap, in relation to other fuels it's often economical to burn as fuel! This would have horrifled people 100 years ago, much less those who originally domesticated corn.
Great point... We have begun to go down the road of burning potential food crops for energy. That alone shows you the desperation that no one can face.

This is in a world where 2 people die every second of starvation.

I agree that this is a problem, but it is related to the same old problems and questions we've faced in the past.

For instance, why do we grow wine grapes in so many countries around the world, whem people are starving?

Why do countries with starvnig people grow tobacco?

Good reply. The food versus fuel issue is legitimate, but in its most common presentation simplistic and misleading.

Far more potential agricultural land is wasted on sugar, livestock, tobacco, alcoholic beverages (25% of global ethanol production) than fuel. Much current and future biofuels plans look to produce from poor quality land or non-food crops. The poor also suffer disproportionately from fuel shortages.

It is far from clear that producing fuel from farmland is a net negative for the poor.

Wine grapes can be grown on poor soils, they are like a tree, grown for years and years in the same spot. On land that would otherwise just be used for pasture, to steep for regular farming.

Grapes are hand picked.  In most cases even hand cultivated.  Rasins are a by-product of some grape growing, others are eating grapes, also hand picked.  

Sugar being a good food source.

Starving people?  Why are they starving? Didn't you know the USA grows enough to feed the world?  Ruler Y hordes the Food the UN food agency supplies and sits on it, or sells it to others, and the People starve.  

Tobacco provides a good cash crop, and if anyone gets to use it, a bit of an appetite supressant, so does the raw leaf of the cocoa (I don't know the latin genus and species) plant of which cocaine is derived.  Stravation happens in most cases because someone else is hording the food, The food can't get to them, War is killing the ability to get food to the people, someone wants to get paid more money for the food than the person has, Or the area has had drought and animal die-offs faster than the aid agencies can get food to them.  

Currently no one need starve to death or into illness on this planet.  Other humans let it happen or cause it to happen.  Soon we will have maxxed out our carrying copacity and then you will see real die off,  When the Grain in storage is used before the next year's crops are in.

57 days,  and then others start to feel the real pinch.  Though a lot of nations waste far to much food.  The USA is not the only one, we are seen as the worst, but any country can waste food.

I have been trained as a Chef I don't do it as a proffesion, mostly as a hobby and volunteer work.  Every resturant, every home I have been in, wastes food.  It does not help that the FDA and Local Health codes Require you not to serve day old foods to paying customers.  There have been and are drives in some cities to provide food stuffs to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, but that only partially attacks the problem.   Food spoilage, food saving and many other issues can be streamlined to prevent so much waste, but they just are not.  

Someone asked What I had invented,, (in yesterday's threads) Methods to get more food into long term storage and out of the trashcans of the world.  But food will spoil even with these methods, they are just minor stop gaps.

No one need starve!!!! That is still the point.  Humans kill humans, by action and by inaction.

I sometimes watch that "dirty jobs" show.  It kind of fascinates me which ones I could do and which ones I don't have the stomach for (literally).

One that took a strong constitution was the uneaten food sorting job in las vegas, that was part of a hog feeding operation.  Apparently there the "extras" from those buffets are recycled.

(in a somewhat tighter economy, someone would have hogs or chickens at home to eat restaurant scraps.  in a very tight (pessimistic future) economy, somebody would eat it.)

(on increasing the food value of those wine grapes, it could be done with dried fruit, fruit leathers, etc ... but the point really is that we don't and that this is a very old choice we have made (in the broadest possible sense of the word "we))

Well, Jevon's paradox is just the narrower idea that increased efficiency allows greater usage.  Actual data indicate that for driving, about 30% of greater efficiency is used to drive more miles, which is what you'd expect in a fairly mauture market - most people drive as much as they want to already, and lower costs won't make that much difference.  Of course, that only applies with stable prices - in a time of rising prices Jevon's paradox doesn't apply.

Oil prices crashed in the 80's and 90's, and so usage increased.  Not especially far sighted, but not surprising. Greater usage wasn't caused by greater efficiency - light vehicle efficiency hasn't increased in the last 20 years.  

There's no reason to think that will happen again, at a time of rising prices.

My own take on Jevon's Paradox is that it simply notes the observed tendency of exponential growth to overwhelm any increases in efficiency.

While very true, that's not Jevon's Paradox.

Jevon's Paradox is, restated, "a decrease in the per-unit cost may increase the number of units consumed so much that the total cost increases".  It's a supply-and-demand effect.

Your point is, restated, "exponential growth is really fast.  Think about how fast it is; no, it's faster than that."  It's the "yeast doubling" explosive growth effect.

They're both important points to consider, but they're different points.

Yeah, Jevons only applies if the effect of the efficiency isn't offset by rising prices.  If the overall cost of driving falls, then of course people will drive a little more (though usually they'll take only about 30% of the savings to drive more, and pocket the rest), but if the price of gas is rising as fast as the efficiency is improving, then driving would be stable.
Jevons only applies if the effect of the efficiency isn't offset by rising prices
This brings to mind something Zach Goldsmith (editor of The Ecologist) claimed about efficiencies. He said that businesses can benefit from increased efficiency and cited one business that saved billions off its costs (it was a big UK based business but I don't recall the name). I then thought, "yes, but what did they do with the saved billions?" Why do businesses and people want money? To hoard it? I doubt it. I think this is the lie about efficiencies - if money is saved, it will be spent somewhere else and continue the growth economy, which means more consumption of all resources. Not that efficiency is bad; it's not. But I think a more realistic message needs to be given, not that efficiency is profitable - it is, but that doesn't help us in this long emergency.
" if money is saved, it will be spent somewhere else and continue the growth economy, which means more consumption of all resources. "

Well, if you increase efficiency at the same rate as economic growth, then resource use would be constant.  And of course at some point the markets for tangible goods mature and level off, and economic growth comes from services, which don't use much in the way of mineral or energy resources (except for a bit of electricity).

It depends, too, on the resources.  It's no problem to use more electricity from wind, or solar.

Well, there is a limit to which efficiency can be improved, due to the 2nd law of thermo, and that is usually well below 100%. Once you arrive at the limit, there is no such thing as economic growth without mineral or energy utilization. Things which use "a bit of electricity" provide just "a bit of growth".

Finally, wind and solar are not infinite resources--there are a finite number of watts available, and making them available takes a lot of up-front energy for construction and fabrication. With apologies to Monty Python fans everywhere:

Every watt is sacred
Every watt is great

"there is a limit to which efficiency can be improved, due to the 2nd law of thermo, and that is usually well below 100%."

The 2nd law doesn't tell you anything about how close you can get to 100%.  We're getting a bit abstract.  Here's an example:  I remember car industry execs who said that 40mpg cars were absolutely impossible.  At that time average MPG was about 13. Now it's about 26, and it could easily be doubled again to 52, and Toyota is talking about getting 75 with the next Prius.  The next step is EV's, which currently get the equivalent of 115 MPG.

The ratio of energy to GDP gets very, very low for services.

Wind and solar may not be infinite, but the ratio of available solar to our needs is about 25,000 to one.  Wind has an E-ROI of about 60, and solar of 10-30 and rising, which is substantially higher than oil at the moment.  A high E-ROI  really does mean that they solve energy availability problems - that's what E-ROI means.  It also means that if energy prices go up, the output of wind and solar just gets proportionately more valuable.  Finally, a high E-ROI means on a practical level that energy isn't a big part of the cost, and even if oil prices triple it still won't be.

"The 2nd law doesn't tell you anything about how close you can get to 100%."

False. In heat engines (internal combustion engines, nuclear power plants), the maximum possible conversion efficiency of thermal energy to useful work is a function of the two temperatures involved.

Nobody will defend the quotes of auto execs. Indeed great strides have been made in cars. But some of this has come from redefining what a "car" is. Consider the size of a current model Cadillac vs. its land yacht ancestors. If you made a hybrid Hummer, how much better mileage would it get.

My point is that efficiency improvements face diminishing returns. The cost to get that next 10% keeps getting higher. Real efficiency improvements are also limited by the necessity to replace existing infrastructure. The mileage figures you quoted are for cars currently sold. What is on the road is much worse, and turnover takes years. How are you going to limit economic growth to be less than efficiency gains?

Pacific NW National Labs has estimated the US wind energy could theoretically replace 20% of our current generating capacity. It doesn't matter what the E-ROI is; there is your availability limit.

With solar, your limit is ~300 watts/sq. meter. And please point me to a solar unit where I can get the kind of return (10-30 fold) that you quote. In reality, there are few areas of the country where you can save enough on energy costs (at today's prices) to recoup the photovoltaic fabrication costs (which takes a lot of energy at today's prices). That doesn't sound like a E-ROI of 10 to me. Nanosolar will probably be the best near term. How much is possible from solar? I hope we make it through the next few years to find out.

Services? You mean like the "Information Economy"? Look at this plot:

Note the ramp up in the last few years? And that's despite all those CFL bulbs we've been installing.

"In heat engines (internal combustion engines, nuclear power plants), the maximum possible conversion efficiency of thermal energy to useful work is a function of the two temperatures involved."

Absolutely true: the 2nd law does limit the efficiency of heat engines, but 1) it doesn't tell you how close you can get to 100%: a very high input temperature and very low output can get you any arbitrary % you want, and 2) as a practical matter you don't have to use heat engines.  For example, fuel cells are more efficient.  Similarly, photoelectric processes can be much more efficient for converting light to electricity than a solar thermal plant using a heat engine, and electric engines are 6 or 7 times as efficient than gasoline ICE's.

In transportation, efficiency is a misnomer: from the point of view of the laws of physics transportation involves "translation" of an object from one location to another.  There is no increase in kinetic energy, no work done, just a change in location.  This can be done with an arbitrarily low amount of energy if something is accelerated to whatever speed is needed, friction is minimized, and the kinetic energy recaptured at the other end (i.e., regenerative braking).  For example, the Prius has, I believe, a coefficient of wind friction of .29, but the GM EV-1 was at .19, and lower is certainly doable.

So, the EV I mentioned with an equivalent MPG of 115 can be doubled to 230 without too much trouble, and can be doubled again with more work.

You're right, cars are somewhat smaller. OTOH, larger SUV's/pickups (light trucks) are more than half the US market, and light vehicles (cars & light trucks) are much more powerful than they were 25 years ago, so on the whole light vehicles are probably at a lower efficiency point design wise, compensated for by more efficient power trains.

There's no question that at some point you run into diminishing returns.  OTOH, there's only so far you need to go.  For instance, an electric car using 50 whrs per mile could be run from PV on it's own surfaces, or even from a bicycle generator - that's personal transportation!

It's true that improvement is limited by turnover. OTOH, turnover is faster than most of the casual analyses have assumed (including Hirsch's, surprisingly), as newer cars are used substantially more than older ones - you can probably replace 60% of car usage in 5 years.

That 20% figure isn't a hard limit: it's what you can do without much trouble.  You could do much more with careful demand management (including use of plugins and EV's for low demand period charging, and V2G), a better national grid, storage, etc.  Solar is complementary: it has a different pattern, and follows usage much more closely than any other source, so between solar and wind you could easily get to 70% of electricity demand.  The other 30% might come from many sources, especially biomass and nuclear.

What's the source of that limit of 300 w/sq meter?  Solar insolation is about 1,000w/sq meter (clear day at a good location).  Sunpower cells (the best single layer cells, i.e., less expensive and not used for concentrating systems) are at 200, the best commercial triple junction cells are at 380, and the latest lab methods offer the possibility of 650.

"please point me to a solar unit where I can get the kind of return (10-30 fold) that you quote."

I think you're thinking of dollar Return on Investment ($-ROI).  Yes, currently solar PV has a very long or nonexistent $-ROI in most places, though it's cost-effective in some places, like Japan and parts of California, and would be cost-effective in many more if the costs of fossil fuels included external costs (pollution, occupational health, CO2, security, etc). PV costs are dropping about 8% per year, and that's likely to accelerate with thinfilm like Nanosolar (though prices may not drop as quickly, as supply is currently being rationed by price due to skyrocketing demand), while FF electricity is rising in price.

Energy ROI is very different, and is quite high for both solar and wind.  E-ROI doesn't tell you anything comprehensive about total cost or $-ROI, it just reassures you that the energy technology in question is basically feasible.

I'm curious where that electric generating capacity chart came from, as the increase from 2000 to 2003 seems a bit steep.  I'd remind you, though, that this is a world chart.  The transition to a service economy would be visible only in places like the US, Canada, Europe, etc.  That's a tough one to analyze at a macro level, as you'd have to account for manufacturing outsourcing, changes in other sectors, etc, but it's pretty clear that a programmer in front of an LCD monitor uses less energy than a guy with a forklift.

Finally, I agree with you that it's not the long-term that's the problem, it's the transition in the next 10-20 years.  I don't have a lot of faith in the Feds, especially with the Current Occupant, but the rest of the world (other countries, as well as local government, private industry, and individuals in the US) is moving.  Let's work so that we move faster.

As to fuel effiency, the Citroen 2cv got something like 90mpg of course it had a top speed of about 60mph and it also did 0-60 in 32sec.  Its all a question of trade offs.  When fuel efficency becomes more important than performance we will see highly fuel efficent cars.
That would be called communism, comrade neon9.

Hahah. Nice one, prodigal son.
Don't forget Satanism.  
and terrorism.
Damn that's a good one! We need to come up with more stuff like this, show we can laugh at ourselves and satirize the cornucopians' view of us, it will only help our cause.
oh god is that funny! Prodigal Son, can you email me privately? I tried to email you but your addy isn't public.
 Seeing that, reminds me go check out a story I posted to my Blog.  It's all about what congress has been talking about for a few days, what the government can and can't do with you while live your life.  Either as an honest citizen or as a commie pinko facist trying to take out a loan to buy a house so you can get a DL so you can drive to Washington D.C. and protest the Stupid laws they are inacting.

Oh and Watchout for car jackings, Your beat up pimp mobile might be needed by NSA to hide their agents in the slums so they can spy on the kids buying 1,000 pre-paid cell phones to sell on the street corners.  

Laughs,  Okay it was the 370 mile drive that has made me realize its the same ole same ole in congress, no wonder I stopped listening to what they have been talking about.

Check the story out, comment, let me know, send me an E.mail something,  Checks can be made out to charles Owens, The blog has my address to send them to.


That's right, sell your Hummer to someone else who will use just as much if not more fuel than the current owner uses. Instead retrofit that Hummer with a hybrid drive system. Or just let it sit and rust.
Or just let it sit and rust.

But that's not in the best interest of Numero Uno!!  :)

Better yet, turn it into a "parts car."  Sell the parts individually or use some of them to build something that won't depreciate in value so fast in a post-Peak world (whatever the hell that might be).
Definitely.  You would not believe the number of articles along that line today.  "Peak oil cancelled!  Party time!"  
I expect we will hear more and more of this. Instead of "party time", people should think of stuff like this as "Last Call". And boy is the hangover going to be bitch!
at least until after November, oh, say 6th.  
Right, just long enough to secure the "election"
Hello TODers,

I think this is a good time to consider how TPTB and MSM can utilize Shaw's Paradox to their short-term advantage.

If the topdogs are thinking the price of oil is going too low: a cornucopian message can help sustain FF demand among the unwashed masses.  Thus, Yergin spouting Jack off in the MSM is purposely to diminish the never-ending depletion & conservation doomer message from TOD and other influential groups.

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

It is amazing how one decent exploratory well gets turned in to an unending supply of the good stuff. I guess when faced with the prospect of hard times people will glom onto any hope to get back to that "good" feeling. It's really a sad state of affairs, we are are so hooked into this growth thing, we can't even see what its doing to us.
I might have a fresher perspective, since we live in a homestead on the edge of a small town with two traffic lights. We don't have a TV, and we don't travel much.  A couple times a month we go to the "big city" thirty miles away; 60,000 people. Maybe twice a year we go to a "Real" city, Tucson. Wow, THAT's a weird experience. All those people zooming around in their cars, without any perspective that this might be unsustainable. In fact, the very word "unsustainable" has been overused and under appreciated. It falls on deaf ears.

It is pretty clear from the deluge of articles above that this is not just a corporate-media delusion; it expends to the full width and breadth of the global civilization. The richest billion people literally cannot conceive of a different way in which to run their lives; the wall of denial is total.

I dont' think peak oil will be fully acknowledged until production has declined so far, and changes have progressed so deeply, that the conclusion is unavoidable.

If adaptation requires the piercing of "The Iron Wall" of denial, that adaptation will be very slow in coming.

It is not clear how we CAN adapt. For after years of trying to lessen our dependence on the machine, my wife and I are almost as dependent as everyone else.  Perhaps other people's margin of error (if things were to collapse) is a few hours or days; our's is a few months, or possibly years. For we cannot weave our own clothes, etc., so in the long run we are also dependent.

In the old hunter-gatherer days, no one had to weave their own clothes. Every animal you ate came with X amount of clothing material, or bedding material, etc.

Low overhead, that's the key. What did the old Sioux have to work to support? The clothes on their back, literally, and a teepee, generally shared between 6-12 people. The orginal affluent society, because of low overhead.

not to mention they used every little scrap of the buffalo.
the fur traders hunters just took the skin and the tongue leaving the rest to rot.
Even in Canada... yesterday's Globe and Mail carried a half page spread, "Peak Oil Theorists Don't Know Jack" in the business section front page.
Looks like the Globe and Mail put the balancing piece in today:

Jack's just a drop in the bucket

The Jack discovery, along with the almost a dozen other prospects that have been recently drilled, could contain as much as 15 billion barrels of oil. Taking the five-year time horizon to develop the discoveries, and assuming U.S. consumption is in the neighbourhood of 22 million barrels a day by then, the 15 billion would last less than two years.

In other words, nice, but not enough.

I did see one this morning that sounded a note of caution:

EDITORIAL: Big Gulf of Mexico Oil Find Won't Mean U.S. Energy Independence

Source: The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Publication date: 2006-09-07

Optimism must be tempered by some realities. First, the United States consumes about 5.7 billion barrels of oil a year, so, at best, this find represents a little less than a three-year supply. Second, it's the deepest oil well ever drilled -- 5.5 miles below the Gulf's surface -- and it will be expensive and technically challenging to extract. Third, it will take probably until 2010 before it's commercially available.

No one should think it's time to forget about conservation plans or developing other sources of energy. Even if this adds more than 50 percent to the nation's known oil reserves of 29 billion barrels, we'll still be importing most of our oil. And, we'll have to be aware of the tremendous pressure this will create to ease environmental restrictions on drilling in the Gulf off the Florida and Louisiana coasts. It even will affect attitudes toward giving the green light to drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, where it's estimated there are another 12 billion barrels of oil.

The nation needs more fuel-efficient vehicles, new sources of energy and sensible national policies to make us less reliant on foreign oil. This find only helps a little.

Ive seen that number several times in the last few days. According to BP statistical site, US consumed 7.5 billion barrels in 2005, not 5.7 billion.
You are right about that. Looks like someone transposed a number.
Yup. Simply multiply 21 (or 22?)--hard to keep track of all these numbers, by 365... You get somewhere in the range of 7.5 billion as a result.

The funny thing that no one seems to be mentioning... I saw an article somewhere yesterday with a big title something along the lines like "US Reserves may swell 50% on huge oil find"... As if this is a massive find which is a harbinger of good times to come. When, in fact, the exact opposite is true--what this story is indicative of is how small US reserves is.

As usual, the press has got everything backwards.

Already happening in the more sane, local press:


And here too.

Published - Thursday, September 07, 2006

New oil discovery does not reduce need for conservation

By La Crosse Tribune editorial staff

The announcement about a large deep-water oil field off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas certainly is good news.

But we shouldn't assume that we can drill our way out of the current oil crisis. The world now includes a rapidly developing China, with its 1 billion residents. When more Chinese residents start consuming oil at the rate of Americans, there's no amount of new oil fields that could make up the difference.

Instead, we're going to have to get smarter -- and pretty quickly -- about how we use energy <snip>

Chattanooga newspaper has 'Oil find deep and difficult' on the left side of the editorial page which points out the expense and long time frame for producing this field and the fact that it will do little to diminish our imports of foreign oil. On the right side of the editorial page is 'A Great new US oil discovery' which is a call for drilling in ANWR (and any place else) to recover more domestic oil. (these are not available online)
Hello RR:

No one should think it's time to forget about conservation plans or developing other sources of energy. Even if this adds more than 50 percent to the nation's known oil reserves of 29 billion barrels,

 It's the 50% increase in the national reserves that kills me
me when I'm talking to people about PO.  Their comments are
look we just almost doubled our reserves.  Trying to convence
them that a 50% increase doesn't mean a damm thing, is next
to impossible.

Says Robert W. Esser, a director of CERA: "Peak Oil theory is garbage as far as we're concerned."

The actual estimated reserves for the "Jack" discovery, about 300 million BOE, would meet total world liquids demand for less than four days.  From nuclear + fossil fuel sources, the world uses the energy equivalent of the estimated "Jack" reserves about every 36 hours.

Look at the chain of events here.  A group oil companies makes an announcemnt of a "major" discovery, at a politically convenient time.  The energy analyst guys, CERA, jump on the bandwagon and use it as an example of why Peak Oil is "garbage."  All of this is reported by the media group, at Businessweek.

Look at the level of coverage regarding this ultra deep discovery, versus the (extrememly limited) coverage of the ongoing crash in production at Cantarell, the ongoing production deccline in Saudi Arabia and the overall decline in production by the top 10 net oil exporters.

What we are seeing is the "Iron Triangle" in full force--fighting back against those who would advise Americans to "Economize; Localize and Produce."  

The underlying message of the Businessweek column is to go ahead and buy and finance the large SUV and large suburban home, because you have nothing to worry about. . .

Hey Westexas, did you see the link I posted on  yesterday's thread to a list of all the U.S. localities that have implemented some form of their own local currency? ELP and they don't even realize it!
I find the surprise expressed at The Oil Drum more surprising than the entire spin itself. Deliberations in the War Room have been finalized. Now the full weight is thrown behind getting the media to paint the desired picture. And the spin machine is powered by a giant engine that controls much of the press and throws a lot of weight. This they can do. But we knew that.

We saw it coming from far, as in 7000 feet of deep water, away.
Bush "admits" to the secret CIA prisons, and while some EU allies express their shock, for what that's worth (he lied!!), it will hardly raise a brow this side of the pond. Result: it can't be used against him anymore in November.

Meanwhile, NATO grabs the opportunity, away from the full press glare, to demand more troops for Afghanistan. They're losing bigtime over there. But they're not losing US bodies, so who cares?

It has been decided that 2 full months of powerspin are needed to get the election outcomes desired. Well, we're off, the gentlemen have started their engines.

Oh, and there's the little matter of a Senate vote on offshore drilling. What better persuasion than a discovery "at home" that carries the promise of lower prices at the pump? Who in Washington now wants to be seen as the party pooper?

Jack's main purpose may well be holding out the option of more Jacks. If only they let us drill.

It's a clever ploy. Telling people what they like to be told is infinitely easier that the opposite. See anyone capable of breaking that fold? I don't think Peak Oil awareness is perceived as a serious problem yet, but just in case, Jack squashed it out of existence for the foreseeable future. Job well done.

It is amazing how fast the price of gas is coming down this time.  Oil is down less than 15%, and gas is down about the same, even though the price oil is only about 1/2 of the cost of gas.  Usually, it takes months for gas to follow oil down.  The spin is in full force now!
I don't even think the average 'merkan cares about secret prisons. The "liberal" press (good on 'em but this has played into corpgov's hands here) has been telling those who are interested there are secret prisons, so there's no real shock over it now when the neocons let it out that they exist now. And the average 'merkan is convinced all them ay-rabs in Dearborn Mich. or someplace can hardly wait to rape their sister (who looks like Drew Carey in a dress) anyhow. We've all been weaned on movies about WWII where The Good Guys beat up The Bad Guys for a confession and were raised to believe the Nuremburg trials* were run on the up-and-up so basically we as a country have no real problem with secret prisons by now.

*The Nuremburg Trials did convict and hang a lot of baddies, but they were a kangaroo court at best. The big baddies were offed and that's good, but a lot of smaller supposed baddies,  maybe baddies and maybe not, were hanged on hearsay. The result is that some of these minor players are considered martyrs now,, although you'll never hear about it from inside the US.

"We've all been weaned on movies about WWII where The Good Guys beat up The Bad Guys for a confession "

Not to mention "24", where someone is tortured for information about every 3rd episode.  The victim is always guilty (at least when Jack Bauer does it), they always cough up the info, the info is accurate and the day is saved.

Have you really watched 3 episodes? You must have a strong stomach.
I have friends who rent and/or buy the full season DVDs and can't even understand that what they are paying for is propaganda. At such moments I feel like joining the doomers.
Oddly enough, I can notice the strong propaganda elements, put them aside, and enjoy the show.

It certainly promotes bad things, like fear of "terrorists", faith in torture, secrecy and general disdain for civil liberties.

OTOH, it's a fairly complex mix of ideas.  The authorities, including presidents and presidential advisors, are usually incompetent, corrupt or power hungry.  Three of the first 5 seasons have featured plots to gain control of oil supplies, twice by corrupt presidential advisors.

Finally, it's pretty good entertainment.  I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 25 not accompanied by someone who can explain all this...

Lynchings are good entertainment too.

This is fiction, you know...

come to the dark side my child
Sorry, Alpha. I'm holding out for the Alpha Female Prophet.
Holding out for Leannan, eh?  ;)
They're losing bigtime over there. But they're not losing US bodies, so who cares?

Thats a understatement. about half the country is back under tali-ban control.
Must be the half that aren't grwing the poppies for heroin.
Right on, Jeffrey.

And that's why I am a hard-core, despairing, not-nearly-enough- prepared DOOMER.

Not because of Peak Oil.

Because of human OBLIVION to the facts.

What good does it do me to prepare when the people around me aren't preparing?

No, they're doing the opposite.

Let's call ourselves Realists - not Doomers


Like you, I've called myself a doomer for more years than I care to remember.  However, I've come to the conclusion that we need to rename our position.  "Doomer" connotes some sort of emotionally arrived at or, perhaps, irrational belief.  In my case, and I'm sure most others, I arrived at my beliefs from a rational perspective.  Further, the actions I have taken have only been taken after a rational consideration of the future.

Todd; A Realist

Relax, Doomsters, this is just a big jack-off.  In a few months, if not weeks, the present circle-jerk will have been forgotten, real trends will reassert themselves and the climb in peak oil/energy awareness will continue.
The Optimist Believes That This is the Best of All Possible Worlds.

The Pessimist is Afraid That He is Right.


There is so much good in the worst of us
and so much bad in the best of us
It's hard to tell which of us
should reform the rest of us


Congratulations, THEOILDRUM! The spinmeisters have finally established a base camp at this venerable place. "Doomers" sounds too bad, we have to call it something else....

Thanks for the compliment, you are exactly right.  Whether we like it or not, words define people's thoughts (not much of an insight there, though). Who would choose doom over cornucopia?

The truth is that I want to live/survive far more than most other people.  To me, they are the doomers.  I have been willing to put my time and money on the line in order to have better odds at a satisfying life.

As a Realist, I see nothing that leads me to believe population will be dealth with; that a non-growth economic system will be developed; that all energy will come from sustainable sources; that agriculture will be able to function without FF inputs and so on and so on.  

It's really the difference between the people in Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged and people outside.  The people in the valley were not doomers even though they understood where society was going.  They were highly optimistic.

Todd; the Realist

BTW, Todd, thanks for the recommendation of Lights Out the other day.  I'm still reading it and learning a lot.

Thanks.  It's such a good read and contains so much useful information. I've considered printing it out but I can't get myself to spend the ink and paper.

For those who missed the link, it is:


Be forewarned it's 611 pages - but worth it.

Some other good reads with good information are:


This story is called Dark Winter by Tom Sherry.  It starts with an eruption in the Seattle area.

This was follwed up with:


This is the continuing story and still (albeit slowly) ongoing.

Todd; a Realist

Just don't try "moderate," it's taken.

FWIW, I think "pessimist" is a good word, which accurately describes those who think peak oil will lead to very bad outcomes.

(we moderates worry about somewhat bad outcomes, and the optimists don't worry at all)

Well, if doomers become realists, I'm going to rename moderates to be "people with a balanced brain chemistry."
What good does it do me to prepare when the people around me aren't preparing?

I bet you could actually find me some local, state, federal, and international programs to reduce energy and/or oil consumption.

Down the thread someone wants to say that "pessimism" isn't emotional .. but what the heck is it when we just pretend nothing is happening?

(The key is that it isn't happening fast enough for you, and me actually.  But not fast is not the same as not at all.)

Aha, but you are wrong!

See, the the price of oil has PLUNGED down to 67-68 dollars or so... Just look at the little graph on the righthand column there. I mean, if that isn't evidence for peak oil "theory" being garbage then I don't know what is.

Anyway, didn't Vincente Fox announce a 10 billion barrel find  earlier in the year? I mean come on, we've now discovered 25 billion barrels in ONE year. You guys just want the futures price to go up. Jesus you people are so pessimistic--why can't you just go with the flow? I mean yeah, Saudi supposedly has 250 billion barrels left--so what! We have 21 million (plus the new finds) which will last us, eh, hrmm, carry the 1... shit, nevermind.

Just let the oil fiesta continue!

Roll up in your SUVs and holla if you hear me

21 billion! Alas, three years worth of consumption is close to negligible.

If only we could drill anwr, and get another couple of years worth of hydrocarb smack. Shoot 'er up!

Great job the MSM is doing talking down the price of oil, and so close to the elections too.  If I didn't know better, I'd think it was there was some kind of conspiracy or something, but that's just absurd...

Don't forget the April 5, 2004 BusinessWeek cover story on Saudi Arabia.  In fact, that story is how I found out about Matt Simmons and his book.

I would not be surprised if we see some more sober MSM articles about this find (i.e. Jack, lower tertiary) in the near future.  These will remind us about the high cost, long lead time, location in the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico, importance of production rate as opposed to reserves, and the ongoing depletion of existing fields in production. I'm betting on a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal in the next few weeks.

What's proved is 300mm. Chevron statement is 'maybe 3-15 billion'. What is qouted is 15 billion, or 50x the proved.
I thought all that was was proved is 6k bpd outta something called Jack 2--that is something like almost 30,000 feet down--supposedly below the normal oil barrier and more in the territory of gas? I dunno.


where did the 300 million (proved) figure come from  chevron didnt to my knowledge comment on reserves  only that the lower tertiary (80 x 240 miles) could contain 3 to 15 billion
Hi Westexas,

As I told before, the way the MSM are acting now is not as good as it would be if it was actually convincing people to ELP but at least, they are a notch above their previous stance: dont even argue against!

When you want to keep something off the public debate, the first thing to do is not to talk about it.  If it's not talked about, it does'nt exist.  Right now they are talking against and they have two reasons to do it.

  1. Geopolitics are kind of smooth theses days and even the Iranian situation is less hot than in the summer or last spring. Worries are also on the low side for the huricane season.

  2. This discovery was spinned in the usual low consumption period, we have not started heating, AC is down in northem part of the US, vacation driving is down because of back to work period, change between the summer and winter fuel formulae and lowering of fuel prices to empty the tanks.

People are less dumb than they appear (sometimes) and they know that this kind of lowering of prices is just a step to increase the price even higher than before.  They've seen the patern in the last 3 years.  

I do think then that the PO message will kind of get some more people on this.  

Time and developpement in actual extraction of the ressource world wide will confirm the decline in Cantarell and KSA. I wonder at which point does the current shiping to the refineries in Texas and Louisianna will get low enough to limit the switch to other producers.  

I do think it's better, in a chain of event perspective, that the decline of production comes from a geological limitation.  Other effects caused by war, technical maintenance, unrest or commercial sanctions would just get the people to discard PO as the underlying phenomenon.

If indeed Chris Skrebowsky, Collins and others are right and increase in production is possible trough 2010 it will just help us convince more people and prepare better.

Westexas, It is amazing to see the differences in MSM reporting on oil crashes vs oil discoveries.  This smells just like the Mexican oil discovery that was as big as Cantarell and rapidly sank to zero.  We will be fortunate if this find is at the low end of their range.  I don't know how they could be so certain given the limited exploration and great depth of their find.  In this case it looks like absence of proof is proof enough of a "huge" find.  Reminds me of gold rush fever.

Soon all we will have will be solar and efficiency improvements.  We'd better get used to it.

It's all part of PR control. We can't have the people finding out the truth -why that would cause a panic!
Peak Oil of course is not a theory but a fact, as the world is subject to natural laws and oil is finite.

What that article, and others like it, might have suggested is that Peak Oil, according to Hubbert Linearization, could have some slight adjustments down the road.

Im not an HL expert, so will throw this out to the crowd, but how much of a 'region', according to HL, goes out to the deeper water (35,000 feet)? Can we do a Hubbert analysis of Nigeria and other African countries that have never drilled in deep water and assume that future finds will fit in their general geographic 'country' boundaries? Or are deep water Nigeria and deep water GOM 'different' regions and should be linearized separately from the countries they are next to?

That fatuous Business Week article suggests that the Lynchites over at CERA consider near term peak to be unlikely to impossible (before 2020).

Now I'm very curious--why doesn't Michael Lynch work for CERA?

Nate Hagens writes:

What that article, and others like it, might have suggested is that Peak Oil, according to Hubbert Linearization, could have some slight adjustments down the road.

Precisely. It is absolutely vital for peak oil theorists to factor in a generous yet-to-find fraction in their calculations -- otherwise every future discovery (be it baby elephant, hippopotamus, water buffalo or koala bear) is going to give the cornucopians yet another opportunity to dump buckets of derision on the 'doomsters'.

And the peak oil activists will begin again to hum and haw (for example) about pre-election 'conspiracies' or play with words by making artefactual distinctions between 'conventional' and 'non-conventional' categories of oil.

Why not just acknowledge the reality: nowhere is it carved in stone that a straight line has to stay straight for ever. Why not consider the possibility that the final decades of the petroleum era may have a somewhat different pattern than the one that characterised the now vanishing halcyon days? After all, the Hubbert curve only 'settled down' about 25 years ago. Who can guarantee that it won't get unsettled again?

And just in case there are any misunderstandings: I am a dyed-in-the-wool Georgescu-Roegenist, Cattonist, Hardinite, Dalyist and Anti-Yerginist. I have a copy of 'The Entropy Law and the Economic Process' under my pillow. I have attended the last two ASPO annual conferences.

... and I even brushed up my old school math for HL's sake.

Now I know that the x-axis is the horizontal and not the vertical one.

After all these years ....

Why not just acknowledge the reality: nowhere is it carved in stone that a straight line has to stay straight for ever. Why not consider the possibility that the final decades of the petroleum era may have a somewhat different pattern than the one that characterised the now vanishing halcyon days? After all, the Hubbert curve only 'settled down' about 25 years ago. Who can guarantee that it won't get unsettled again?

That's in fact what economic theory would tend to predict. As world oil supplies decrease, price will rise. More importantly, price will be known and anticipated to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. This will lead to very different results than when individual fields or even countries have run out of oil in the past. Incentives to improve production will be far greater as the world goes over the top of Hubbert's Peak than anything we have seen before. No longer will it be an option to just go elsewhere where oil is still cheap and easy to get. There will be no more "elsewhere" to go.

Expecting worldwide peak oil to be the same as region-wide is setting yourself up for surprise and disappointment.


I get your point that economic incentives will push up production but I think you gloss over the strongest arguments too easily.

If I understand your argument, your position is that if we show up with more money then we will figure out more ways to get more oil.  This is the argument posed by CERA and Lynch.  They say Hubbert theory fails because it doesn't take into consideration that the area under the curve grows in response to technology and more money.  I believe that is what your opinion is.

In my opinion, the strongest argument for a worldwide peak to be the same as a region peak is the United States or other wealthy country that is in decline.  

The United States has peaked and has been steadily declining for over 30 years.  The price of oil has increased from $18 to averaging around $70 since 1998 and we've pretty much done nothing to stop the decline trend.  As the world's largest importer we are transferring huge amounts of wealth oversees to pay for our imports.  Not to mention the price rise is making many of our enemies more wealthy and more powerful.  

Can you honestly hold the position that if this is simply a matter of price and economics---why haven't we been able to signifcantly change the shape of the curve for 30 years?  Wouldn't it be in our best interests to increase our own production as much as possible?  Yet we haven't.  The best we have done since 1998 is maybe find some gas or oil that will possibly offset the Gulf of Mexico decline.    

Furthermore, peak oil is all about economics anyway.  If we have to spend $200 for a barrel of oil just to change the shape of the decline rate from 4% to 3% where does that really help us?  Wouldn't oil at that price pretty much revolutionize the United States way of living anyway?  

I like your skepticism against all the doom talk around here.  Need different viewpoints.  But I don't think this argument flies--I can't see how the world will be significantly different than the aggregate sum.


The point is that logically, there is no reason to expect local peaks in production of an irreplaceable commodity to have similar effects as a global peak in production, for the reasons I gave. Local peaks mean you go elsewhere; a global peak means you have no choice but to work harder than you ever have before, or else you die (or whatever). So logically, you would not expect this to be the case.

Now, maybe in fact it does turn out to be the case, even though logically there's no reason to expect it. Maybe in fact regional peaks will turn out to have the same properties as a global peak.

But if that were true, what would this site be about? Isn't the whole point of the PO movement that worldwide peak oil will present us an unprecedented challenge? Otherwise people could just say, oh, we ran out of oil in lots of places before and nothing bad happened, so running out of oil in the whole world will be no different.

Of course, that's absurd. Running out of oil in the whole world is very different from running out of oil in one field or country. And that's really all I'm saying. Just as we would expect other effects of a worldwide oil peak to be different from past regional peaks, we should expect the details of production rates to be different as well. Desperate people behave differently than complacent ones, and that is going to make a huge difference in the response to a worldwide peak.


I get your point very much.  I do think things will look different on the backslope but will have to do much more with demand than ability to get supply.  But I don't see a big change for supply.  

Concerning desperation, lets take a real world example.  Shell Oil is in the oil business and if they can't replace their oil reserves they will die so to speak.  They are a good model for desperation as they have been struggling a bunch with replacing reserves.

Shell is spending 19 billion dollars this year mainly on synfuels.  Shell is making the decision that milking oil from dirt is more cost effective then searching for more.  Shell is also contemplating opening up some new projects in the new Jack area find.  

Think about this.  Shell, a desperate company, has decided that its better to spend their time and cheaper to drill down 5 miles for oil or gas and convert dirt to oil than to upgrade existing production flows.  Accordingly, increasing the amount of recoverable oil from the oil in place seems to be quite difficult.  Otherwise, it would seem to be much easier to simply put this money to doing that as such a small increase in recovery factor would be huge for a company with this big of reserves.  A desperate company will years of oil experience isn't counting on changing the production curve.  

Summing up, in my opinion, the production curve will be similar on the backside even if we are desperate.  In my opinion, any extra financial and survival motivation will be tempered by the difficultly of extracting the newly found oil from 5 miles down, burning dirt, etc.  Unconventional might cause the decline rate to be a little slower, which is good news (from a PO perspective only), but a totally different shape seems unlikely to me.

"It is absolutely vital for peak oil theorists to factor in a generous yet-to-find fraction in their calculations"

Ah, you don't understand the point behind the curve fitting, and that is why you are bashing the technique. I think I can help, and perhaps help a few others understand at the same time.

We cannot measure future oil discoveries and production directly. They happen in the future and we are not there yet. So the point of fitting the curve is to use past data to create a mathematical model. Then we use the mathematical model to predict the future.

The mathematical model for discoveries predicts that there are at least 100 billion barrels of oil yet to be discovered. If those discoveries are not found, then the model was too generous and the decline curve will be steeper. If 200 billion barrels of oil are found (about another Saudi Arabia's worth) we can start to worry the model was too conservative.

No one is factoring in a generous yet-to-find fraction. What they are doing is reporting the predictions of the model. (that is why we did the whole model in the first place)

Also notice that an extra 200 billion barrels is still less than 10% of the planets total endowment of oil. Adding it or not will not change the peak date by much, or lower the decline rates by a large amount.

"Why not just acknowledge the reality: nowhere is it carved in stone that a straight line has to stay straight for ever."

A good point and worth addressing. I think you will see why that line is unlikely to change direction.

When a polling company predicts an election, they cannot ask every single person how they will vote. So instead they ask a few thousand people and fit that data to a mathematical model and use that model to predict how everyone will vote. It is a valid question to ask how certain are the poll results (and they usually state +-3% or so).

In a poll they might ask a few thousand people out of 100 million voters.

But consider our case with oil production. HL analysis is predicting that we are almost at 50% of total production. We have "polled" half of those 100 million voters. If you examine the discovery data, it is even more certain, we have "polled" 94% of those 100 million voters. That isn't polling anymore, that is the final vote count.

Is it possible the line shifts direction? Yes. The last 6% of discoveries might turn out to be 4% or 8%. Will that matter overall? No.

I still strongly recommend Deffeyes's chapter on Hubbert Analysis in "Beyond Oil". It is very clear and there is no point in retyping everything he writes.

Thank you for your very interesting reply. I hope to address the points you have raised in a future posting -- but I don't have time at the moment due to 'pressure of leisure' -- have to go off cycling with Madame C. as promised.

Actually I have read carefully the Deffeyes HL chapter -- in fact, I think it's almost worth a sentence by sentence analysis, since it encapsulates all the strengths and weaknesses of the top-down approach to peak oil.

Coming soon ...

Why are you people surprised? What here really is unexpected? Are you all so foolish as to believe that people will respond to raw facts alone always? Especially when there are powerful vested interests (westexas' "Iron Triangle") that have much to gain by debunking those facts in any way possible?

Peak oil is not a problem about science or even technology. Peak oil is a social, psychological, and political problem and we are losing that fight. Further, I will boldly predict that we will continue to lose that fight, until it is too late to do anything about it. Heck it may already be too late as a prior generation tried to warn the world in the 1970s, including M. King Hubbert himself before Congress.

Craig Bond Hatfield, a retired geology professor in Toledo, began sounding the alarm in the early 80s about peak oil, though not using that term. He retired in 1999. I went to see him last month at his home, after not seeing him in 27 years. I asked him what he's been writing lately about oil.

"I quit writing about oil after I retired because I realized it's too late. I'm retired. Time to have a little fun."

I see this string of crying wolf scenerios as seriously tragic. We had an open window in the 70s to try to reform ourselves as a society and superpower. Before that it was purely speculation. After Hubbert was vindicated it was immediately clear that the US had to make a decision, that decision was the Carter Doctrine as we all know which has now morphed into some twisted version of Rationality Gone Mad in the Form of NeoCons From Hell. Once Katherine Harris has won her Senatorial campaign in Florida (please god no) I think you can very well give up all hope and call in the apocalypse.

There is nothing that frustrates me more than the retarded inveighs against peak oil scenerios ("peak oil" is not a theory but an observation, as JHK has repeatedly stated!) The idea that somehow we can't hit limits to growth is this Randian idea of the intrepid capitalist out to go find the "next thing".

I'm not sure Rand knew so much about thermodynamics.

Anyway... It is a shame that everyone says (CERA's Daniel Terdgin included) that there has been many times before where people warned of oil running out--since it's discovery a little after the mid 19th-century, and this time is the same thing. Everyone fails to mention that the warnings in the 70s were an opportunity to prepare ahead (ala Hirsch Report pre-requisite 3 decade rule.) We had been "tested". And we failed. We were tested again with Enron and the East coast black out. We have been making the same decisions for more than thirty years, and we aren't going to stop now. We will run into we hit a wall, whatever its form may appear as before us. We chose to go the way of "globalization" and the road led here--to the status quo.

Short the market. =]

i feel the same way, as if we are headed straight for a wall, at full throttle!
The politicians will talk it up as if everything is OK, but as some one recently indicated, the GOV will deny everything despite anything contrary, and then blame someone when the CRAP hits the fan! followed up with promises to fix it all up, and raise our taxes............
Mr F,

Not a chance that Harris will win.

Yeah, I realize that--it's just that I ordered my rampant horse of the apocalypse and he's already in the stable and ready to go. He's just waiting for Katherine to fire the starting gun.
A lot of us down here in Florida love the fact that she won the primary.  She doesn't stand a chance of beating Nelson, but she's loads of laughs in the meantime. :)

Peak oil is not a problem about science or even technology. Peak oil is a social, psychological, and political problem and we are losing that fight. Further, I will boldly predict that we will continue to lose that fight, until it is too late to do anything about it. Heck it may already be too late as a prior generation tried to warn the world in the 1970s, including M. King Hubbert himself before Congress.

Over here in Sweden we did not forget to use our technology after the 70:s oil crisis had passed and I think we still are in the fight. We need to do lots more but a fair ammount of what needs to be done is at least on the drawing board and in the agendas of all the large political parties. There are very nice synergies in lessening the dependancy on oil, emitting less CO2 and making society less voulnerable to major disturbances and all of those goals are being worked at, slowly but still going forward.

I have never found the scenario of peak oil to be "scary". What I find scary are stories now coming out that the permafrost is melting at a much faster rate than previously. What I find "scary" is when I see before and after pictures of glaciers and other ice packs. What I find "scary" is when I see species pushed higher and higher and further north because of rising temperatures. What I find "scary" is the continuing drowth in the southwest.

And, finally, what I find "scary" is that such a stupid article could be found in Business Week. What is "scary" is the amount of fossil fuels we are consuming. Whether we are running out of oil should be irrelevant in a world that is determined to do something about global warming. Unfortunately, because our so called leaders won't do anything unless is relates to fear and greed, the existance of peak oil, at least, was a way to get people to do something about alternatives and conservation even if they didn't give a damn about global warming.

But never mind. Most of the country is more concerned about Tom Cruise's baby and Katie's possible botox treatments than they are about peak oil or global warming.  

On a related note, there was a guy on Scarborough last night criticizing the CBS news for saying that this new discovery in the GOM would probably not have any efffect on short term gas prices. This was his evidence that CBS is still dominated by liberals.  Yeh.  Whenever anyone just points out basic, obvious facts, it is a liberal conspiracy.

Yeh, Peak Oil is so last week. We can all relax now and recommence happy motoring as usual.


Agreed about climate change being the biggest danger. A tiny bit of good local news: today I get my hybrid operable: Bike pedal/electric.

We recently got an eGo electric scooter, which we run on PV. Great running little machine; will go up to 20 miles on a charge (530 watt hours to charge up again), and it will hold a front basket, panniers, and pull a trailer rated at 100 lbs. (took three months to get the scooter, and will take another 2 plus months to get the trailer; demand is heavy.)
i would rather get a normal bike. less parts to break.
Well, bikes break down, too. As I see it, the weakness of the Ego, or any scooter, is that you can't pedal to extend the range.

I'm thinking of someday tricking out my old Trek with an electric drive - Wilderness, Bionx, Lashout or something. That way if I run out of juice, I can still pedal my way home.

Considering how often the conservatives have been wrong regarding anything scientific then anyone presenting "facts" must be a liberal.
Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
wait, Katie's getting botox treatments?  I KNEW IT!!!!  
No one more qualified than you to do it, although I suggest you title it "You Don't Know Jack...About Jack."
  I'm personally glad that Chevron and Devon and Statoil have discovered a giant field. This has the potential of helping to buy enough time to ease the transition that is necessary in our world to renewable energy sources. But, the reaction of the markets show the irrationality of our investors.
  It will be somewhere between 5 and 10 years before the fields from the Wilcox Subsalt Trend come on line. The technical challenges are immense-8,000 ft of water has pressures of 3500 PSI and all installations will have to be constructed with robotics. In the mean time the world is facing five to ten years of flat or declining production. So, my question is why would the contracts for September delivery fall 10% on news of high cost crude 5 or 10 years in the future?
  I'm not a geologist, but my thought is that this should open up sub-salt exploration onshore and in shallow gulf waters. As a landman who is a Texas Gulf Coast saltdome specialist, I sure hope so.
  But, none of this will be cheap. Production costs will go up exponentially because of the depth and pressures. The era of cheap hydrocarbons is over.
I certainly understand the sentiment in your first paragraph. But the remainder of your post explains why that sentiment is misplaced. We (as a nation, a society, as a planet) are not about to plan and enact a transition. Unfortunately we will continue this pattern -"oh look, a few more drops to squeeze out" and fight over. "No need to worry about the future - we'll find a few more drops."

This is why I repeat over and over - we are not confronted with a technical problem. This is a social and political issue. And our social and political systems are going in a direction opposite to a planned transition. We are talking centuries of inertia and the perceived self interest of the dominant forces within the dominant societies.


No one ever asks to be happier later.


Not really the problem as I see it. The problem is that we are convinced that our current lifestyle is the only possible one through which happiness is possible. Funny that these very same people never ask why they have to buy plastic crap to make themselves happy. Is Walmart really our church of choice these days? And why are so many Americans seaking solace in rather stilted version of christianity? I could go on. But here's the real question - Are we happy? numb? or just well conditioned?

Are we happy?

That is a good question, but I would go further and say compared to what?  1950's life?  1850's?  300AD?  2000BC?

Happiness is elusive.  A lot of people have trouble finding it.  People spend a lot of time talking to psychiatrists and analysts, and take lots of pills searching for it.  Rich, poor, young and old all search for it.  It means different things to different people.  How do you quantify it?  Even if we could, would we really want too?

Would you want to live in a world where everyone was constantly happy and positive and walking around with a big smile like Flanders from the Simpson's?

Do you intentionally miss the points of posts you respond to?

I know where I find my happiness. But that is hardly what is important here. It is that most people simply accept what they are told makes them happy (fast car, big house,) by our culture and that those things are "things," objects. And these are the values of the dominant culture.

And all those people in psychiatric therapy, on pills, etc., most of them are there because they don't find happiness in those "things" and have become convinced that there is something wrong with them because of it.

Indeed, our culture has become so totalizing that even children who do not think like all the rest of us are "diagnosed," labeled and medicated.

Hell, we don't have to measure happiness. We have the government and corporations to do that for us and they know what makes us happy.

So we must be? Aren't you?

Believe it or not, I'm pretty happy.  I've got my problems like the next guy, but I enjoy the merry-go-round of life as the earth spins around the sun.

Are "things" bad?  If I commission a master woodworker to make me a fancy dining room table, is that wrong?

Should we (pardon the pun) crucify the church for building elaborate churches for people to pray at?  Surely they can pray just as well in a cave?  Do we tear down the pyramids because they are a symbol of excess?  Should the Eiffel tower be torn down and the metal used to build huts for starving children?  Is having coffee and croissants at a cafe in Paris excessive?  Can't you survive on bread and water?

I'm definitly with you in regards to the doping of our children.  It's tragic.  And I'm not a fan of today's consumeristic society (especially of throwaway Walmart junk) either.

But human nature is to build and create.  There is also a strong urge to leave something lasting behind, a legacy if you will, when we pass away.

No one forces you (us) to buy stuff.  But you can't force other people NOT to buy stuff either.

Who are you to tell other people that they shouldn't be getting happiness from "things?"

And when you actually respond to what I'm saying, then I will respond, in kind.
Hi davidsmi,

I really love your posts, I sincerely do. I find myself easily able to relate to what you say much of the time.

I don't understand though how ggg71's response to your post wasn't valid. I can relate to what he said as well. There are some truly beautiful things in this world that have been created by people and I wish I were able to experience more of them. On the other hand, there are some truly ugly aspects to the wasteful side of our society that I've had enough of.

I agree with you that the feeling of happiness is experienced by many people when they acquire new things or pay for "the experience" of something, like a trip to Disney. But I also believe that every "consumer" out there experiences times of genuine happiness that come with the connection to people, nature, accomplishment, and the human experience. I believe you're well aware of what genuine happiness is. It isn't measured by marketing firms or our government.

There have been a couple of folks who've posted recently that they're "retiring" from TOD. It saddens me when our discussions become defensive, impatient, and toxic. One of the reasons I spend time here is because I feel happiness in the experience of interacting with others who want to discuss our world in the early 21st century.

As Bob Shaw posted yesterday to TOD:
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.

Thanks, TAB

Thanks Tandersonbrown.

Energy use is not fundamentally bad.  Neither is consumption.

Sometimes I think consumption is confused with waste.

The very fact that US Energy consumption is so high, makes me believe that conservation in the US will be possible on a massive level.  People in the US are wasteful because they can AFFORD to be wasteful.  As energy prices rise due to fewer resources, people will have no choice but to consume less and conserve more.

Unfortunatly this impacts the poor the most.

TAB, thanks for your post. And I don't disagree with what you are saying. But understand that ggg intentionally misinterprets what others say and I was just calling him on it. What I began talking about was how our culture has acted to define happiness as being accessible only in certain ways. ggg tried to respond as if this was a question of individual happiness. That wasn't the point and he knew it. In fact, that individuals have to confine their search for - what did you call it? - genuine happiness outside of the context of their everyday lives is precisely part of the problem. ggg certainly isn't stupid. And I'm not going to guess at his motivation for his intentional misinterpretation. However, I do reserve the right to not respond when that is the case.


First, thanks for the compliment above.

Second, I honestly don't have any motivation, other then increased knowledge and the enjoyment of a healthy debate.  I'm on TOD because I enjoy discussing our current and future energy problems, as well as potential solutions.  And I hope you believe me when I say I wasn't trying to intentionally misinterpret you.

Misinterpretration, unfortunatly, is one of the downsides to online communication.

The bottom line is that there is no government quotient for the population's "happiness."  No metric.  No stat.  It's an individual thing.  People make their own choices about what they are going to do to make themselves happy.  Some people buy a fast car.  Others buy big houses.  Others join the Peace Corps.  You might not like it, but it's their money, their time, their choice, their life.

Everything we do uses energy.  Different people have different ideas about what constitutes the "proper" use of that energy.  I don't think it's right to judge people on their choices.  Last I checked it's still a free country.  Energy is sold openly and freely to everyone.  You decide how much you want to spend, how much you want to use.  Other people get to decide how much THEY want to spend, how much THEY use.

That's the cost of freedom.


Ok Garth, let me try to explain my incredulity, then. I don't believe you are being straight up because no thinking person could actually believe that individuals create their own world as you suggest. So you must be utterly naive or simply trying to misdirect through nonsense.

Let me be clear about this - individuals do not create the world they live in. Such solipsism is untenable in philosophy, much less in the social arena.

And this has nothing to do with freedom. You know that, so stop pretending.

Most of us here enjoy the banter and stimulation of a decent and fair debate, but for that to work all included need to follow the basic ground rules or we just wind up talking past each other.

hhmm.  There's a difference between coming to a reasoned judgement that some people are pursuing a false happiness, and feeling free to coerce people in the name of a narrow personal viewpoint.

I would guess that some people object to an analysis of happiness, because they suspect that the analyst hasn't really done a good job of it, and they're afraid of coercion based on it.

I think it's perfectly possible to analyze happiness, but it's harder than most folks think, and that many analyses are indeed pretty superficial and narrow.  So, we need to do such an analysis very carefully, with respect to a diversity of experience and with scientific rigor.  That's not easy.

Finally, we then need to act on that analysis with compassion and non-coercive communication.  That's even less easy, but it's necessary (at least according to my analysis of happiness!).

"Happiness is elusive."

Due to evolution, it is necessarily so. It's also short-lived.

There was a documentary called In Pursuit of Happiness that aired on CBC's excellent The Passionate Eye in the last month that explored this issue. One conclusion was that happiness is relative. Basically, if something changes in someone's life that makes them happy, they will return to their "base happiness level" in short order. The same normally happens with losses, but more slowly and only with greater effort. I think this explains the societal resistance to peak oil that we see in North America.

But happiness doesn't necessarily have to come from what advertising says it should. While other people are happy with the purchase of a new SUV, I'm enjoying the fact that I have the time and resources to explore a less oil dependant lifestyle. Selling my gas lawn mower last year was a happy moment for me. So was the realization that a bicycle had removed any need of a second car. Starting construction of a tiny energy-autonomous cabin on a quiet rural property within cycling distance from my workplace was sublime.

But happiness doesn't necessarily have to come from what advertising says it should.

Agreed. However people want as much relative happiness as financially possible.  Marketing sells benefits, not products.  If I can convince you this will make you happy, even if fleating, I've got you.  Marketing is psychology and with advances in our knowledge of irrational behavior (in markets too) we know people will do stupid shiite.  Seperating them from their cash isn't that hard - corp profts set a record last QT and cash on the balance sheet was also an aggregate record.  We're peaking in consumption come to think of it.

 My philosophical position is that if a person persues happiness, then they obviously have not acheived happiness. We have a society that can never be happy because we are persu  a state of mind that is a result, a product of behaviours interpreted subjectively by each person. And each person's task is to discover that which makes him/her happy, then to do it.
  There are other desirable conondrums,I.E. love...  I want to be loved, but I cannot compel others to love me. But in this life where people who love me and that I love die and drift away I must learn to love new people and that is more important than receiving "unconditional" love, and is in fact the prerequisite for receiving love.
  So much for the philosophy of subjective states. But I do believe that all of us who contribute to TOD in a sincere manner are trying to honestly find some solutions for humanity and deserve respect and good manners. We all have an altruistic motive. And I am interested in everyone's ideas, even if I don't agree, as it seems that others using this blog are intelligent, interesting people.
You have to keep pursuing happiness.  It's in the constitution for gods sake. You don't have a choice!
Actually the declaration of independence. Sorry
actually the constitution  check the preamble
I get what your saying.  I always feel generally happy and optimistic, even in the face of PO.  Not to say I haven't examined the realities, but I would rather be hopeful and provide myself some motivation, otherwise I would just collapse into a depression.  Now I have my moments like everyone else, but I'm quick to find the silver lining which tends to upset many people who WANT to focus on the bad.

Congrats on the energy-autonomous cabin!  That sounds great!

I'm currently trying to get my household energy requirements down to barebone levels as well.  It's not easy, but it's definitly rewarding.

  Anything that involves people is by definition a political and social problem, and facts have very little to do with perceptions. Look at the number of people who beleive in that the world was created in 4,004 BC. And most people don't think, let alone plan for anything better, and that is the nature of humanity.
  Yet some people do plan and think and dream, and often their vision becomes the new reality. That's our task. Believe me, when I started protesting Viet Nam in 1967 all the US was against us, and the same when I started protesting Iraq. And I bet we will be out of that war in a couple of years.  As Peak Oil Cultists (a joke, you silly literalists) we face the same task of changing people's perceptions to conform to the facts. The forces of ignorant self interest and inertia, which West Texas refers to as the Iron Triangle, always lose because thy are basicially stupid and inflexable. They will break themselves argueing with physical facts. This new oil will never be cheap, and the exponential growth of demand will consume any new sources of hydrocarbons in short order.
  So, to quote Mr. Brown, Economise, Localise, Produce. Good examples work a lot better than exhortations, and the truth will show through long before any 28,000 ft deep oilfield comes on line.
Precisely. And, the more people buy into it the more and the faster it will spread.

People operate on stories. Culture is built on these stories. Our predominant story in America is The American Dream. It's false, but that's the story.

To change things, you need to change the story. Show that there is another way, and that it works, and it better than the old way, and things will start to change.

I'm afriad that the problem is far deeper than what Mr. Brown refers to as the "Iron Triangle." We are confronted with the excesses of the very basis of our culture. When you protested against Vietnam you impacted a policy, you did not change our culture. And while there are aspects of our culture that did change as a result of the widespread movements of the 60s - they were mostly accelerations of inclusion movements that had begun long ago(broadened voting rights for blacks, inclusion into the economy for women, etc.), indeed are part of what the U.S. has been about from the beginning. And while there was some activism against consumerist values, that aspect of "the sixties" did not have any long term impact on our culture.

We are not in a situation where we can expect to gather together enough people to protest against a government energy policy. We have to ask people to stop doing things they believe are part and parcel of who they are. Americans, particularly, aren't going to rise up tomorrow and ask the government to ban the sale of SUVs or to shut down mega agri-corps. We're not even going to get them to stop shopping at Walmart. And don't even get me started on preventing the rest of humanity from desiring to copy the U.S.'s warped model.

We are in complete agreement on the need for good examples - and they are all going to have to be on the individual level, because there will never be a national government that will give up on the economic model that has been built up over the past few centuries.

"...inclusion movements that had begun long ago..."

I find Alexis Ziegler to be very insightful with respect to this.  In addition to this excerpt from his primer on Conscious Evolution, he has some specific commentary regarding peak oil and biofuels at the link that I encourage everyone to read:

We are living in a time when civil liberties are, in general, expanding like the unsteady but unstoppable growth of economy. This has left us with some dangerous misunderstandings, and self-defeating arrogance about where our liberty comes from.

Democracy, and the expansion of civil liberties that come with it, are not simply the work of enlightened "founding fathers." Democracy, like male supremacy, follows a global pattern. The societies that have evolved into democracies include the Greeks, Romans, numerous European nations, and U.S. Americans. In each of these societies, a central powerful state with a land-owning elite grew first. (The land-owning elite was not as entrenched in America.) As these cultures grew, they sent their militaries into foreign lands, and became colonial powers. As the wealth of colonial exploits arrived back in the motherland, a mercantile class grew up to trade these foreign goods. Over time, the volume of goods arriving from the colonies grew, and the power of the mercantilists grew, until finally, they were able to challenge the power of the landed elite. Thus civil liberties were expanded to the mercantile class. (It is hard to conduct business if you constantly have someone plundering your profits, or looking over your political shoulder.)

So what's this got to do with us? The thing that is important to understand is that the expansion of civil liberties has, in our culture as in every other, followed the expansion of resource extraction. When a society has an enormous inflow of resources, from colonial exploits or from fossil driven extraction, it is economically useful to have a large group of people who are personally empowered. Those empowered souls serve as entrepreneurs, mercantilists, and consumers, driving the economy forward. Democracy can be defined as the ability of groups of people to use their economic position to assert political power. In the absence of an expanding economy, democracy does not expand. In the U.S. after World War II, the income of African Americans was expanding rapidly, as it was for women. This is not coincidental with the success of the movements to gain civil liberty for these groups. But we must also heed the lessons of the Greeks and the Romans, because as their resource base declined, they reverted to military dictatorship. We would be unwise to imagine that their will to freedom was any less than our own.

Why would cultures move so readily from freedom (as we had when we live in gathering bands), to dictatorship of early states, to democracy, and back to dictatorship? Are we in Western society headed for a return to dictatorship? If we allow the gears of unconscious culture to keep blindly grinding along, then yes, we will in the coming decades return to a more authoritarian government. Civil liberties will be restricted from the lower classes upward as our resource base contracts.

Interesting.  You know, I always mock Dubya for conflating free market capitalism with democracy, but maybe he's right after all.  

They are interchangeable. But also, we never had either. It's merely a wordplay that makes people feel good, since it delivers and maintains an illusion of a measure of control that we can exercise over our lives. In reality, political and economic power can be bought, and are therefore, in our society, the same thing.

If you think your vote carries as much weight as the one coming from Rex Tillerson, Sam Walton or Dick Cheney, good luck.

A free market may well be a fantastic economic model, but we have no way of knowing, we've never seen one in action.

It's like the Gandhi quote:"What do I think of western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea."

What we do have today, under the misnomers free market and democracy, are simply systems intentionally designed to lend a semblance of legitimacy to one person exploiting others (as many as possible) as well as the natural world.

How was it again? Democracy stops working when people discover they can vote themselves an ever bigger share of the commons.

"The illusion of freedom [in America ] will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."

~Frank Zappa


Excellent post.

We might remember that the founding fathers owned slaves, and slave owning went away after a horrible civil war, but also the rapid expansion of fossil fuel based machinery, which made slavery redundant.

Now even poor people have large numbers of machine slaves, which do the work of many people and draft animals.

Expansion of sufferage became not only permissible, but desirable, starting in England in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, because economically valuable people demanded it, and because there was no pressing reason to continue denying it.

The entire global society is addicted to the benefits of machine slavery; so it will be interesting to see how our society responds to the diminishing of machine slavery. Will we be content with a falling lifestyle, or will the powerful classes start taking away liberties from foriegners and the lower classes?

The record of the past six years is not very encouraging.

"Will we be content with a falling lifestyle, or will the powerful classes start taking away liberties from foriegners and the lower classes? "

Isn't Bushes guest worker program going to create this second class citizenship catagory that has fewer rights and freedoms?  Perhaps the powers that be feel it is essential to have these workers so that citizens can maintain the standard of living required to support democracy.  

Just throwing it out there

There will be second class citizens alright, but they need not come from abroad.
Hillbillies. Crackers. White Trash. Trailer Trash. Heshers. Mullets. Joe Sixpack.

Have I missed any names? Look at any "from the front" (and generally unauthorized) blog from Iraq, complete with cellfone photos, and you can see this is the vast majority fighting at the front. The elite have been denigrating them for the past 20 years, white-trash have been fair game in press, TV, etc and you all know it.

So we have our underpaid and overworked and considered-racially-inferior underclass, and after the Indians and Chinese have smartened and headed out (failing empires are never fun) they'll be here to do the shit work, like they've always been.

Frank Zappa! RZZZZZ!
Thanks for the reference. I'll look a little closer when I have some time. I will say, just from your excerpt, that I will be wary of the one-size fits all approach to defining cultural change, but I'm always interested in reading views of history that have a longer and wider view than the last centuries current events.

(Just a teaser here - but how many are aware that what we typically call barbarism - in other words, the nomadic forms of culture - actually post date the rise of mono-culture civilications?)

I'd appreciate any references you have on that, as I've been looking at the roots (NPI) of our culture of late.
It's been awhile since I've been in the literature, so don't have any names right off. I'll try to remember and look at home and send some to you. Though it should be fairly easy to find, the Russion anthropologists of the last couple generations have been especially good in looking at the nomads, but there certainly are others.

The problem for the nomads (from the historical perspective)has always been that it has been the "settled" civilizations that have written their history. As civilizations expanded outward they inevitebly came into conflict with nomadic groups. The city folk thought this was empty land because the "barbarians" only passed through infrequently. The nomads, of course, were moving or following their herds in search of grazing area, they may not have occuppied the land in the same way, but they needed it, nonetheless, to feed their animals. So, the city dwellers thought these wild men came into these areas and attacked them for no reason other than that they were uncivilized. But to the nomads, they saw the city dwellers as the interlopers.

Of course, this gets compounded when population pressures caused large populations (city or nomad) to move into areas otherwise unknown to them.

Climate change forged first civilization

It's nice to see someone claim that it was utter disaster that forced us to settle down, not innovation or superior intelligence. That helps explain why the first farmers were smaller and sicker than their traveling brethern. And then for the priceless::

"Once the cat is out of the bag, it doesn't go back.
You can't uninvent technology,"
An extremely faulty analysis.  How does Swiss & Icelandic democracy fit into his theories ?  And he has his facts wrong.  The Greeks lost their democracy to military conquest.
"At virtually the same time Roth was describing the challenge of reality to fiction, historian Daniel Boorstin, in his pathbreaking study The Image: A Guide To Psuedo-Events In America, was describing how everywhere the fabricated, the inauthentic and the theatrical were driving out the natural, the genuine and the spontaneous from life until reality itself had been converted into stagecraft.  As Boorstin saw it, Americans increasingly lived in a 'world where fantasy is more real than reality,' and he warned, 'We risk being the first people in history to have been able to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so realistic that they can live in them.'"

- "Life: The Movie", Neil Gabler

You need to read Marx. Boorstin is cribbing Marx, 150 years after the fact.
And gets away with the plagiarism because his American audience hasn't and wouldn't read the original.
The original has a lot more punch. Boorstin doesn't even read his source very well.
But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence,....illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.

This passage from Ludwig von Feuerbach The Essence of Christianity (1841) principally remembered because it is quoted at the beginning of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach. The commentary and literature on commodity fetishism and false consciousnes is extremely extensive, there has been a constnt stream since the 1840's and it never goes out of fashion.
Except of course in America where to admit any knowledge of  intellectual history is the same as confessing to being a card carrying member of the Communist Party. Boorstin knew darn well what he was plagiarizing but neither reader nor reviewer would call him on it because to do so would be admitting a connection to a wider world outside Murica.

The term "pseudo-event" borrowed from Debord.
This, and the other deep-water fields that may result from this extension of deep-water technology, don't seem to change much WRT peak oil as far as I can see.  They will make the downslope easier, so that's probably not too bad, but since significant production from this field will take quite a few years, it doesn't look as though it really changes the ASPO peak date.  

This makes a difference for the doomers, since the downslope is looking a little less steep.  It makes any collapse look more like Kunstler's Long Emergency or Leanan's preferred catabolic collapse than an Olduvai Gorge.  Yes, I do realize that these are all forms of collapse, but the first two allow for more adaptation.

OTOH, if it gives us more time to ramp up CTL, then it's a big problem for climate change mitigation.  I've thought for a while that growth and demand would reverse, setting up a late 70s/early 80s scenario where demand drops, creating an oil glut which then kills off alternatives, while at a lower level of consumption.  That cuts off the need or impetus for CTL, since we adapt to the lower level of consumption without the coal, and happens too fast for CTL plants to get running.  If oil production falls off more smoothly and over a longer period, we may well get the CTL plants running.

It makes any collapse look more like Kunstler's Long Emergency or Leanan's preferred catabolic collapse than an Olduvai Gorge.  Yes, I do realize that these are all forms of collapse, but the first two allow for more adaptation.

They also allow for a lot more damage to be done to the environment.  Catabolic collapse means all resources and capital converted to waste...and hence an eventual crash to way below the carrying capacity and level of technology that existed before the complex society arose.  

IMO, a long, slow catabolic collapse is actually the most doomerish of scenarios.

"most doomish of scenarios"

This phrase just called to mind the review I read last night of Cormac McCarthy's new novel. Sounds like a real doozy -- bands of cannibals chasing the main characters through a devastated, ashen landscape:


I keep trying to convince myself we're not headed to a place this horrifying, but with increasing difficulty.

I think it's too late to kill alternatives.  Wind is too mature to dislodge. Solar growth will continue in Europe regardless of what the US does.  Batteries are the key technology for electrification of personal transportation, and the battery market is a $30B global market, which doesn't need the transportation market to continue it's 8-10% yearly improvement.  Further, that rate is accelerating with nanotech/non cobalt li-ion.

The key question is the rate of development of the plugin/EV market.  That's moving faster for trucks than for personal transportation, which is probably good, as they're the transportation basis for business.

And "plug in, EV transport" will, of course, rely primarily on coal to supply electricity.

(I live on PV energy, including for short run transport, but it is not very realistic to think it will become mainstream anytime soon...)

Well, no, wind and coal are neck and neck right now.  

Page 8, 2007 (later years aren't accurate for wind, because they're beyond the planning horizon):  

Wind is now the single largest form of electrical generation being installed in the US, with 44% of the market in 2007(adjusted for capacity factor)...

Of course, as I discussed in another post today, coal is also growing again, so whether wind takes the lead over coal depends on GW awareness.

We've covered this ground before -- but the coal vs. wind choice is a false one.

Forget not the nukes. If I were king of the world, I'd have an aggressive wind and nuke buildout right now to replace 100% of our coal plants and add extra capacity (with the intention of decommissioning the nuclear plants in coming decades when another zero carbon technology is viable to replace them). But the key is, it would need to go hand in hand with a move to replace/retrofit our vehicle fleet to run on electric power.

The point is that our action has to begin now, now, now, with the intention of cutting CO2 emissions close to zero in a short timeframe.

(And I would include some serious and near-term trials of climate mitigation technology. One that seems relatively harmless and practicable is have fleets of vessels on the oceans that spray large quantities of salt water into the atmosphere -- the salt particles then seed clouds to reflect more sunlight into space and do some reflection in their own right. Serious scientists have also discussed intentionally putting more sulfur into the atmosphere. The downside is acid rain, of course, but that's nothing compared to the competing downside. But a large number of "environmentalists" tend to be remarkably dogmatic about winning individual battles, missing the context of the war. In fact, I would argue that "the environment" as the term has previously been used, is not longer that relevant. The only remaining question of any importance is whether we can keep the global biosphere from complete collapse.)

What motivates the view, of course, is the "global warming awareness" does not include the extent to which the mechanisms of climate change are accelerating beyond all predictive models. See for instance:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/09/07/climate_time_bomb_forecast?rss_id=B oston+Globe+--+National+News

This is the most important fact right now about climate change.

With it comes the realization we have a very small window in which to act (whether in reality it is too late already we don't know, but no reason not to take the hopeful view). And with said acceleration, our actions now could be of enormous importance -- magnified in coming decades.

I agree - we need a WWII style effort to convert from fossil fuels.  Think what the US did in 3 years (ramped up plane production to 100,000 per year!).

Personally, I think we could do it faster and better with wind and solar (check out nanosolar.com), vs nuclear, but that's a relatively small detail.  Nuclear would work, too.  I suppose the best plan would be all three in parallel.

Sorry, but I am too busy studying Katie's laugh lines, err, her lack of laugh lines.

Seriously, though, I don't know whether your plan would work but it's worth a try.  If I were co king of the world, I would place an immediate moratorium on any new fossil fueled power plants. I'd also take a chance with nuclear but am still a little bit concerned that the fossil fuels required to build them, mine and process fuel, and estalbish the necessary nuclear priesthood for indefinite storage might negate the fact that they emit no co2 during electricity program.

We can't go on as we have been, but we will. I guess we can.

Well, that's kind of the fallacy that the past will resemble the future. I mean, I know we're on the same team here.

My belief in nuke power is simply that EVs are clearly the way to go for personal transport, and I simply do not believe that wind + solar can run an electric grid + extra capacity for EVs. I mean, that's not even remotely realistic.

And your concerns about nuclear power are well founded. But again... the alternative is fantastically more appalling.

Everyone loves the analogies of human beings driving off a cliff or into a brick wall (myself included), because they're accurate. We still might have time to slam on the brakes, but time is so vanishingly short in that regard.

Instead of making and watching entertaining TV shows and worrying about everything that we worry about, industrial societies should radically reorganize around two principles:
*cutting GG emissions as dramatically as possible each year
*getting together our best scientific minds in a Manhattan Project to come up with realistic mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Putting on my psychologist's hat for a moment (though I'm not one), it would actually improve the quality of our societies and most people's personal lives to have a collective mission.

It's terribly frustrating that the insane course of action is so frequently considered "realistic" while the sane one is "absurd".

I did not mean to imply that the future will resemble the past. It will, until it doesn't. I meant to imply that we will continue consuming our assess off until it's just not possible. In the mean time, we will have made the planet largely uninhabitable.

In any event, I fully support your "plan", but this would require some short to medium term sacrifice which will not be forthcoming from the world's people.  

"I simply do not believe that wind + solar can run an electric grid + extra capacity for EVs. I mean, that's not even remotely realistic."

Why is that?  The US has more than enough potential wind alone, and solar on roofs could also do it alone, capacity wise.

Wind is cheap enough.  Solar is getting there very quickly.

Is your concern intermittency?  Plug-in's and EV's would solve that neatly, with charging demand management and V2G.

Plugins and EV's would only add about 13% to electricity consumption (210M vehicles, 200 whrs/mile, 12k miles/yr, vs 440 GW current consumption).

I would so love to be proved wrong. And I know that some are arguing that it is possible in theory.

Intermittency is a primary concern of course. And theoretically, I agree, that needn't be fatal.

I guess my answer would be: large industrialized countries are run largely on nuclear power. We have the example of, say, France. There are no untested assertions here.

As soon as even a medium-sized town or city anywhere in the world (even minus EVs) runs entirely on solar and wind-power, then I will consider converting. Say a town of 100,000 or even 10,000.

But, look, you know that I think we should motivate all our societal capacity toward answering this problem. Nuke plants usually take a decade to build under present circumstances, but if you start start streamlining the process and do it more of a "wartime" mode like that the one both sides used for producing armaments during WW2 that timeframe could be reduced dramatically.

As I've stipulated: any nuke capacity buildout should be stipulated to be a temporary measure, intended over the long run to be replaced by solar and windfarms, assuming our societies are still together enough to manage such a thing two or three decades down the line.

" large industrialized countries are run largely on nuclear power. We have the example of, say, France."

Actually, France is a good example of the effectiveness of load balancing of a difficult-to-manage power supply.  You see, power demand is pretty proportional to solar insolation, cause humans are active during the daytime.  Nuclear, OTOH, produces power 24 hours per day.

What France does is sell most of their power during the night to their neighbors, and import heavily during the day.  France would be in big trouble if they were an isolated power system.

So you see, they're actually a case-study of how to balance supply with demand when your power source is out of sync with demand. Now, the nature of the discrepancy is a little different, as the intermittency of demand is a little more predictable than the intermittency of wind and solar, but the magnitude of the discrepancy, and the problem is the same.

Another example of a solution to the nuclear problem, which is strikingly similar to the kind of solution that might be used for wind and solar, is the Ludington pumped storage facility in Michigan, which is paired with nuclear power.

What France does is sell most of their power during the night to their neighbors, and import heavily during the day. France would be in big trouble if they were an isolated power system.

Indeed we are very lucky that our immediate neighbours have the good grace to stick to the VERY OPPOSITE PATTERN OF CONSUMPTION than us.

The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

No, they just have complementary forms of production.
complementary forms of production.

Interesting, which form of "production" produce LESS at night time beside solar?  

When did you stop beating your wife?
yeah, I probably should fight the temptation to make humorous points that might be misinterpreted.

What I mean is, I would be much obliged if you would try to make you points that are clearly related to the previous post, rather than making short posts that may seem like repartee, but that don't provide sufficient detail to allow an answer.

We were discussing nuclear vs wind, and the environment that would support them. Apparently you have opinions about nuclear, wind and solar, but I can't quite tell what they are, and why.

What I mean is, I would be much obliged if you would try to make you points that are clearly related to the previous post

In my first reply, my point "clearly related to the previous post" was that your argument about immediately neigbbouring countries providing relief for an unflexible nuclear production schedule does not hold water.

An I am still talking about that (a subtopic of the general nuclear vs wind question with respect to production schedule and grid regulation).

To clarify the reference to solar in my last reply, I mean, since solar is NOT YET of any sizeable importance for any neighbouring countries of France it is not the case that they plausibly produce LESS at night.

I see I have to provide the dots, connect the dots, provide eyesight training, provide logic courses, quite of a drag for every minor point, sigh...

" your argument about immediately neigbbouring countries providing relief for an unflexible nuclear production schedule does not hold water"

My understanding is that in fact they are doing so, by reducing their production at night from fossil fuels, hydro and wind and using France's nuclear electricity instead.  Do you have information to the contrary?

" solar is NOT YET of any sizeable importance for any neighbouring countries of France it is not the case that they plausibly produce LESS at night."

We weren't talking about solar, and I wasn't suggesting that the complementary production in neighboring countries was solar.  Rather, as above, it's reduced production from fossil fuels, hydro and wind.

The discussion was about nuclear, vs renewables especially wind.  The previous post suggested that nuclear had proven itself in France, as France produces a very large amount of electricity from it.  I was pointing out that this arrangement only works because France is part of a larger system, so that instead of nuclear proving that it could provide 3/4 of France's consumption, instead what was proved was that nuclear could provide perhaps 1/3 of a much larger grid.

This is similar to the situation for wind and solar, which each need to be one component of a larger system.

oops. Where I said "fossil fuels, hydro and wind" please substitute "fossil fuels, and hydro."
44% of what market?
"44% of what market? "

Of the market for new electrical generation capacity.

Yes, but you talk about a nack and nack race,

Wind is now the single largest form of electrical generation being installed in the US, with 44% of the market in 2007

Come on. Numbers easily mislead, as do words. This is like saying the population of Monaco grows faster than that of China.

DOE 2006 electricity generation:
Coal 53%
Wind: not even a category, so it's one of "others", which total 1%

Let's say wind is 0.5%, and that's already a stretch, that means it's less than 1% of coal. And hundreds of new coal plants are planned for the US in the next decade.

What neck and neck? The ant and the hippo?

Wind at the end of 2005 was .6% of US kwhrs.  At the end of 2006 it will be .9%.  Yes, that's a 50% growth rate.

"hundreds of new coal plants are planned for the US in the next decade."

I think that exaggerates the situation.  The NEI data that I pointed to in my earlier post

page 8, http://www.nei.org/documents/Energy%20Markets%20Report.pdf

is the best source I've been able to find for actual plans.  You can see that there are 120 coal plants on the drawing boards, and the peak year is 2009 at 19.4GW capacity installed.  

Keep in mind that wind could easily grow from 11GW in 2007 to over 20 GW by 2009, and that the majority of these coal plants are very early in the planning process (about 10GW were announced a month ago, in Texas), and many will be cancelled.

What's important is not the existing stock, but what's being installed.  There's no question that the volume of wind installations is in the same league with coal - just look at the table keeping in mind that wind has a 1 year planning horizon, so the 2008+ numbers will rise dramatically.  Further, with a little luck global warming awareness will rise to the point that new coal plants are stopped entirely, pretty soon.

  Wind is increasing at a very rapid clip here in Texas. A new windmill costs a heck of a lot less than a coal plant. And our legislature has seen fit to mandate that Wind will be 10% of our Utilities generating capacity by 2020 and ERCOT buys 100% of the wind that is generated. We are now just about even with California in generating capacity.
  Ranchers love 'em. Wind Generators pay $1500 a month to the landowner per windmill. These things come in 100 unit farms , folks. The windfarms jobs start at $20/hour, compared to the chickenshits at Wallmart paying $6/hr for 29 hours a week. The owners of wind generators don't live in the Counties and pay ad valorem taxes while not voting for the County Tax Assessor, so the school boards love 'em. And the cows like the shade and don't bitch about the noise. They are even beginning to offset the decline in royalty from oil wells for the Permanent School fund. And, the cost per kilowatt hour is now less than the cost of electricity from natural gas. They're the greatest thing since Blue Bell Ice Cream!
sweetness!  so how would I go about landing a job building wind turbines and such?

I don't think oil prices are crashing on this news.

We're coming up on the shoulder season.  Gas and crude supplies are ok right now.

The markets never make sense in the short term.

Thank you, Dr. Pangloss.
This has the potential of helping to buy enough time to ease the transition that is necessary in our world to renewable energy sources.

Transition? What transition?

I don't see no stinkin transition...

Here's the transition:

Page 8, 2007 (later years aren't accurate for wind, because they're beyond the planning horizon):  

Wind is now the single largest form of electrical generation being installed in the US, with 44% of the market in 2007(adjusted for capacity factor)...

Nick -

On the document you posted, did you look at the planned coal-fired capacity in years 2009 and 2010? It looks like there is more electical capacity planned from coal in those years than in from all sources(wind, natural gas, coal, nuclear, etc)in 2006.

Sure.  The problem is that coal has a planning horizon of around 4 years, while wind's is about 1.  This means that a table like this, which showls current plans (permits, announced projects, etc) can't provide accurate information for wind beyond 2007.  Similarly, it doesn't show nuclear because nuclear has a roughly 10 year planning horizon.

Many of the projects shown in this table won't be built - it's useful primarily as a comparison between different sources, as this is true for all of the sources.  You can expect wind to keep growing, while some of the coal projects will not be built, but you won't see that in this table for 2008 for about another 6-10 months.

So, 2006 and 2007 are the only years for which this table is comprehensive for wind.  The interesting question is the outcome of the horserace between wind and coal: wind could replace coal entirely for new projects in 5 years if the country decides to get serious about global warming.  Wind requires a little more planning, for transmission, load balancing, demand management, power supply and demand forecasting, etc.  These are new things for utilities, and coal is easier.  For instance, Texas has great wind resources, and yet TXU just announced a big coal plant building project.  It doesn't really make sense, but....it's easier.

Some utilities in CA, MN and NY are much more flexible.  Others will need...coaxing.

wind could replace coal entirely for new projects in 5 years if the country decides to get serious about global warming
 Underline added.

This is Mike's point exactly - it isn't going to happen.  And, if you think it is, I'd be interested to know how and why.

Well, I think that's up in the air.  Most utility execs think it will happen eventually, they're just not sure about the timing, which drives them nuts.

My best guess is that wind and coal will share the market 50/50 for the next 5-10 years, and then the country will get to a critical mass, and we'll get serious about global warming and stop building coal.  Actually shutting down coal plants will happen eventually, maybe 15-20 years out, starting with the least efficient and dirtiest.

Not as fast as needed, but better than nothing.

wind could replace coal entirely for new projects in 5 years if the country decides to get serious about global warming
 Underline added.

This is Mike's point exactly - it isn't going to happen.  And, if you think it is, I'd be interested to know how and why.

Oops, it did a double post - sorry.
So, my question is why would the contracts for September delivery fall 10% on news of high cost crude 5 or 10 years in the future?
The truth is that the future is far more uncertain than people here and elsewhere credit. We really don't know if we face a hard Peak Oil crisis within the next year or two, or if we have ten years or more of technology improvement and structural change to get into better shape for a transition. Just in the last couple of years we are seeing a near-revolution in areas like solar and wind power, hybrid and electric vehicles, ethanol and other biofuels, increased oil field exploration and development, enhanced oil recovery, and many other research and development efforts that will prepare us for a post-peak world. These efforts, which are already bearing remarkable fruit, will only increase going forward.

In this context of uncertainty, people tend to evaluate new pieces of information not just in terms of what that one piece of evidence means, but rather as a token or sign of what the trends are. When good news starts coming in, people assume that there may be more good news to come, that this may be a sign that trends are moving in a favorable direction.

You see the same thing here, but in the other direction. When bad news comes in, people here say ah-ha! - see, this means that the trends are going in the way we predicted. Each interruption in production, each declining field, even though the circumstances may be specific to that particular location in the world, is seen as part of a larger pattern. Evidence is promoted from the particular to the general, from the local to the global.

This is human nature, and it's probably a reasonable heuristic given the uncertainty we face. Nobody knows how quickly oil demand will grow in the next few years - it may even fall if the U.S. housing market crashes and pulls the world into a recession. Likewise nobody knows for sure what will happen on the supply side the next few years. We could have a glut or a shortage of oil. In this fog of uncertainty, every piece of evidence suggests a trend, and people, both individually and collectively via markets and governments, react to it.

Indeed,  Bravo.

As Oat Willie used to say.

"Onward, Thru the Fog"


The market does not act in a rational manner, although individual players are rational in recognizing that. I know that a new find will have no short term impact on supply, but I also know the way the market responds to this. Therefore, I respond in the same way which reinforces the overall irrationality. This may be a short term response, however, assuming that real demand snd supply will eventually overwhelm the news of the GOM discovery.
  Well, screw rationality anyway. Instead of trying to get auguries of the future from disecting news on this blog, I think we would be better off slaughtering a sheep and interpreting its liver. We probably wouldn't get better results as far as the direction of the oil markets, but we would have the makings of some mutton barbeque.
Says Robert W. Esser, a director of CERA: "Peak Oil theory is garbage as far as we're concerned."

Well I guess that settles it then.  Oil is infinite, and will never peak.  Now why don't I feel better?  What balderdash!  And he's paid well to spew it.

Lots of good news / bad news on energy and evironment as I page through the last couple days' news at Hugg.  One bad one I hadn't heard about was nuclear fuel rods washing up on a Scottish beach! Maybe that's old news to some ...
Oh, but odograph! Nuclear energy is safe. Haven't you heard?

There is no "safe" energy except for wind and solar, which cannot yet compete with either nuclear or fossil fuels.

The safety of nuclear power cannot be considered in a vacuum -- it is a comparative thing, and that comparison should be to coal. Realistically, the vast majority of any electric power that displaces petroleum for transport and the vast majority of new generating capacity in the US (and China) are going to be either coal or nuclear.

But coal is not "safe" -- between mining accidents, black lung, and air pollution alone it kills far far far more people than civilian nuclear power ever has or will. It causes far more environmental damage from sulfur and particulate pollution. And it is, of course, the absolute worst in terms of carbon emissions.

Most nuclear-related fatalities tend to be late-in-life cancers. On the other hand, take a look at public health stats in China, where coal-source air pollution has a massive toll and kills millions of people.

With that in mind, I wonder if the nuclear rod on the beach in Scotland (and other such expected dangers of nuclear power) is less "safe" in either human or ecological terms than, say, making the climate change situation ever more intractable and hastening this kind of stuff:


http://www.caribbeanpressreleases.com/articles/291/1/Caribbean-Facing-Dire-Environmental-Future/Cari bbean-Facing-Dire-Environmental-Future.html

"One day in 1997, Mr Minter was informed that the beach had been fenced off after routine monitoring by Dounreay's inspectors uncovered a radioactive particle.

"Managers from the plant assured him that the event was a one-off. But since then, 66 more particles have been found. The latest comes from rods that Dounreay's workers call "bone seekers". They pose a danger to anyone who comes in contact with them.

"Mr Minter has carried out his own investigations and says he has uncovered numerous cases of incompetence and errors, including serious accidents covered up by the Official Secrets Act. Faced with the evidence of their own records, the plant's managers admitted that the particles on the beach probably came from accidental releases. They said that, over the years, tens of thousands of irradiated particles could have been spread over the local coastline.

Guess it was SWEPT UNDER THE RUG.. glad that was the only one!

"Hi, I'm Clint MacLure, and you might remember me from my other films, like "Nuclear Energy, our misunderstood friend."   -  The Simpsons

Peak Oil is the theory, on the verge of becoming conventional wisdom, that the world's petroleum supply is topping out and will not be able to meet global demand soaring along with the economies of China and India.

Emphasis mine -- bjj

It's now editorially OK to use the words 'peak' and 'oil' in the most mainstream of American magazines.  That's a big step.  And it's humorous, in a macabre, gallows sort of way, to watch the glacial pace of acceptance of a game-changing dynamic.  Admit it, MSM has a tough job dragging circa 300M Americans into a new and harsh reality.  We're still in the denial phase, but I can see in the above quote an attempt by editors to slooowwwlly condition the unwashed masses to get beyond de-Nile.

P.S.  Sorry to non-US readers for the US-centric language.  But I feel unqualified to speak for other cultures.  Heck, I barely understand my own much of the time. :)

I think the deep oil news is the end run around what was a growing PO awareness creeping into the public psyche.

I think it was effective in crushing the momentum that had developed in the PO awareness campaign.

I think there are powerful forces, doing everything they can to STOP the message of PO.

I hate to say this, but I think this fight to get the truth out is futile and it is really best to make your own personal plans and hope for the best.

I know I have not contributed much to TOD and most will not miss my posts, but I like, some others here, am going to back off participating in TOD.  I will check in occasionally to see what you all are doing.

You are a unique group and hope others have the will to keep it up.

Good Luck All!!


There are three potential paths (global, community, and individual) to mitigating and adapting to Peak Oil and the problems it engenders:

1)Global - Large scale macro policy changes, like gas tax, power down, oil depletion protocol, electrification of transport system etc

2)Community - Local level changes like: eating locally, using renewable energy sources from locally advantageous sources, changing local economy to be less reliant on fossil fuels


3)Individual - Try to improve ones own life. Lower ones desires and increase ones ability to provide/produce things that oil gives us easily now.

Some will primarily spend their efforts on only one of the above.  Others will spend a little time on all 3. Ultimately we all want to improve our own lives, but to ignore community and national policy opportunities comes with a long term price.  

Each of us are individuals but there is huge leverage in the social structure of our species - dont underestimate the amount of change that one person or one community can have by setting an example.  Whether you read TOD or not, you can still participate on all 3 levels. Good luck to you.

1)Global - ...., power down,

Have you not heard?   the entire rationale behind "powerdown" looks like feng shui.

yea. from what i have seen the more people advocate somthing the less they actualy know what goes into it.. quite a hole we(as a speices) have dug ourselfs into.
quite a hole we(as a speices) have dug ourselfs into.

Just from a tax/expense basis, the ability to take land and make a go of it farming means long hours with dangerous power equipment to be told 'your food is to expensive' - all to make the nut to pay for insurance, taxes (land...not alot if income), energy bill(s), repair/maintinance of building/equipment...on and on.

Meanwhile, back on the tax front....

And on the healthcare front:

And on the insurance front:

So one should go ahead...take a job that makes onework hard and puts you at alot of risk of physical injury and subjets you to goverment paperwork just for moving hay about.

Applying permaculture principle of zones to social interactions, priorites for mitigation paths would be:

  1. personal
  2. household (family)
  3. local community (neighbors, friends)
  4. local bioregion (city, county)
  5. state
  6. national
  7. global

I view the EROI for zones 5 thru 7 as steeply declining and with a high opportunity cost.  Zone 4 may also be problematic.  In my case a low social EROI for Zone 4 played a part in my decision to relocate from Sacramento CA to Eugene OR.


I agree with your analysis above and I am currently considering the Zone 4 possiblities.  I have no time or energy for anything above your Zone 4.  I will try to affect things much more locally and personally from here on out.

I'll be watching the rest of ya...no pressure...but, the future of the world is in your hands...jk...adios!!

But never forget, anything you do in the lower zones eventurally impacts the higher ones. So, by doing anything you are helping to change the world.
Six degrees of seperation?
Ha...well put...I am not giving up...just need to take more personal action in my life to prepare than typing here on a blog.

Thanks, guys.

"Six Degrees of Separation" was a good movie...one of Will Smith's first.  The movie eventually lead to the "Kevin Bacon Game" didn't it?

liferaft - thank you - i was unaware of those gradients and that totally makes sense - especially your EROI comment.
You're welcome.  Also, IMO, one of the most important things for anyone to do is to join a community/tribe focused on sustainability.  Equally important is an assessment of your local bioregion - does it have plenty of clean water, locally grown food, local industry, and access to renewable energy - if not, it's time to think about moving!
Im considering this right now - any suggestions?
My wife and I have been researching options for about a year, focusing recently on joining an intentional community or starting one from scratch.  We looked at rural, near to town, in town (co-housing).  The bad news is that 90% of these communities fail.  The best reference work we found on the subject is Creating A Life Together.

Anyway, we were at a permaculture guild conference in Eugene Oregon and heard about intentional houses.  Basically it's up to 5 people sharing a household, like a cooperative.  These housholds are then linked together into a larger community, like a permaculture guild, so you have something similar to an intentional community without everyone living together.  This is basically what is happening in Eugene Oregon.

We thought this was a great idea, loved Eugene - which is rated as the top Green City in the U.S. - and bought a house on .4 acre for $245,000 within 4 miles of downtown - easy bicycling in flat Eugene.  Major factors in our decision process:

  1. plentiful clean water supply.  Our property is hooked to city water but also has an irrigation well.  We also saw several rain catchment systems in use.

  2. land and climate suitable for growing most of our own food.  Typical lot size is about .36 acre, plenty to grow food, and much of Eugene has great river bottom soil.  It does freeze, but there's not much snow.  We saw people growing a wide range of food, and citrus is posssible in greenhouses.

  3. low reliance on fossil fuel energy.  EWEB, the power provider, gets 71% of their electricity from hydropower.  Most homes are all electric.  We saw a couple PV installations, and Oregon has tax credits and power buy-back provisions for PV.  One home we visited is near to net-zero energy use, combining passive design with PV and solar water heatinng.

  4. an active community focused on sustainability and relocalization.  At the conference there were 100+ attendees, about 40 of whom got there by bike.  Within bike range of the conference facility - Dharmalaya - are five advanced permaculture sites.  Eugene has a huge farmer's market every Saturday, and there are literally dozens of CSAs.

There are disadvantages to Eugene. I5 runs close by and the air quality is sub-standard.  It also rains and is cloudly more than average.  Having just endured 11 days of 100+ temperature in Sacramento CA - a new record - and with predictions of 50 to 110 days a year of 95 degrees and above, and considering all the pluses, we've decided to make our stand in Eugene.

Hope this helps.

This is all rather interesting to watch the development over the past year.  

When I first started reading about this stuff and you never heard a single thing about Peak Oil in the mainstream media.  The only place I would find any news articles is gold bug websites and other off-the-wall websites.  Then in the last few months we see some more mainstream articles in Chicago Tribune, UBS agreeing there will be Peak Oil, the bloomberg article, etc., etc.  

Then we hear about the Jack find and how it MAY have 3 billion to 15 billion barrels of oil OR gas and will be extremely expensive to produce.  And the anti Peak Oil guns are a blazin'.  Quite interesting.  Peak Oil has went from something a bunch of nuts worry about to something the mainstream media has found the need to blast down with a find that could be between one and a half months to six months of world supply at present consumption rates.  

I always find it interesting when they say Peak Oil is false.  What has been going on the U.S. since 1970?  Environmentalist conspiracy to keep oil production down?  I really just can't understand how the natural logic of oil fields peak and decline leading to the aggregate that countries peak and therefore the aggregate of countries, the world, will also peak.  And once the world begins decline the unconventional oil source will not be able to ramp up faster than the decline of the world.  I've never heard any convincing argument why the world won't peak and decline when that's what oil fields actually do whether its now or in 20 years.  

Reminds me of open source code.  Originally open source code was "a cult" but each year the logic of having more eyes look at code to eliminate bugs continues the growth of open source to the dismay of companies like Microsoft who is now starting to integrate open source.  

BTW, I took a bus tour through Malaysia (about 15 years ago?) and saw mile after mile of those palm plantations.  The thing that struck me at the time was that the weed-eater conquered the jungle.  It didn't seem that planting trees was the hard part, but keeping the growth down beneath the palms was the issue.  FWIW.

Sad to see the biodiversity go ...

On China's investment into the methane ice, isn't there a problem with this plan if Global Warming is ramping up?

I could've sworn I saw an article either here or in the news somewhere stating that there is a large concern over perma-frost melting in various regions of the world and that as the perma-frost melts, the release of gas trapped by that ice would accelerate, and in turn fuel additional rate growth of global warming.

If this turns into a fuel source to run China or anyone else, how are they going to be able to keep the methane trapped until they are ready to use it?

Methane clathrates, also called methane hydrates, have been pursued by energy companies for decades without much success. If China has some new technology to exploit them, then everyone will have that soon too. It's too important of a technology not to steal in some way and the Chinese have been leaders in stealing tech for years now so I'd expect the world to return the favor. And if they don't have any new tech then it's just more "Iron Triangle" noise intended to hide the realities.

As for global warming, if sea temperatures rise sufficiently (and they are rising) then the methane clathrates will melt of their own accord releasing all that methane into the atmosphere. For reference, methane as a greenhouse gas is about 20 times more powerful at holding in heat than CO2. Prior major extinctions in geologic history are associated with large methane releases. To assume that we would be exempt this time simply displays the foolish snobbery we humans have over the rest of the planet.

That news item was in Nature, also picked up by several other news sources last night and this morning:

Melting lakes in Siberia emit greenhouse gas: Methane from thawing permafrost could increase global warming

Lakes in the permafrost zone of northern Siberia are belching out much more of the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere than previously thought. In coming decades this could become a more significant factor in global climate change.

Aaahhh Businessweek.

Ever the faithful mouthpiece for the right.

In the print issue they had a sidebar about how the US has reached a "New Record!" for energy consumption.  Outstanding.

I'm all for a new, gigantic oil-field in the GOM, I just wish it was more realistically marketed than this...


"there's plenty out there -- if we have the guts and patience to go get it."

Guts?  Don't they mean 'True Grit', or is that just the next grade of crude that we'll have to find a way to refine?

Here's an article of interest for those catastrophist/ doomers who are salivating over the prospect of American Financial collapse. The US office of public debt in Parkersburg, WV is planning to expand to accomodate all the growth.  This is the office with the infamous black file cabinet containing all the Congressional I.O.U.'s indicating the borrowing from the social security trust fund. Just a few months ago, they moved some of the operation into a new 4 story building but apparently in just a matter of months they have outgrown the space.


Exponential growth again...
Didnt see this anywhere....this guy is drilling an oil well next to his house in LA.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2006-09-07T122931Z_0 1_N06141314_RTRUKOC_0_US-OILMAN.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil prices are so high, that oilman Steve Jordan is drilling a well next to his home near Lake Charles, Louisiana, he said on Wednesday.

Jordan, 52, said the well will stretch 8,500 feet (2,591 metres) under his house and swimming pool and below the adjacent Calcasieu River.

He hopes to strike oil in about 10 days on a prospect that wouldn't have been worth drilling when prices were lower, he said.

good for him, but the title leads one to beleive its an uneducated goon trying his hand at oil. when it fact this guy is no newbie to oil!
The ferocity of the emotional response related to this "find" is an indicator that Peak Oil awareness is spreading. Do not be discouraged by the nonsensical media reports. Once the hysteria dies down and people start doing the numbers, it will actually strengthen the message about Peak Oil.

What we're seeing here is a bandwagon of denial, with the most fearful the first to jump on board. Friends, do not give up. Now is the time to bombard the irrational with the facts. Sharpen your pencils and let Business Week and their ilk have it.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, finally they fight you."
It looks like we are now around phase 2, eventually at the beginning of phase 3.
So, dear TOD contributors, keep going on, the fight is not over, it is just starting.
If they ignore you they are winning.  Once they step over the line and even think to argue with you, they have failed and you have won. You made them notice you.  Period.

Whatever the outcome they have lost already, you are now in control.

See it for what it is,  Peak Oil has won.  Not that they could have ignored it to much longer anyway.  But we have still won the tug of war of information, they started arguing against the concept.

That is what he meant by the saying. IMHO.

There appears to be a tremendous amount of despair expressed at TOD today regarding the way the MSM and TPTB are spinning this new find in the Gulf. I think we are all being far too pessimistic.

The way I see it, once the MSM is done having its orgasm, the Gulf find will completely vanish from the news, and the MSM will move on to the latest hot news item faster than you can say Jon Benet Ramsey.

Once the reality that this find won't translate into increase domestic oil production for many years begins to sink in, and once gas prices start climbing again, and once we start  seeing chronic supply tightness, then perhaps the  concept of Peak Oil will not seem like such 'garbage'.

One thing though: I don't think that the Jack field or other similar finds, regardless of how big, are really going to buy us any more time, because of what I will call the 'Deferred Term Paper Syndrome'.  This is where the professor unexpectedly gives the class a one-week extension on the term paper due date. Everyone in class feels so relieved that they go out and party and then goof off for another week. Predictably, they will in the exact same state of panic as the new deadline looms and not a scrap of work has been done of the term paper during the extra time granted.  And that's the way it's going to work with these additional oil finds.

That may be true for parts of the economy and not for others.  Wind and solar will continue growing.  Battery development will continue.
Nice analogy joule.  I remember working 44 hours straight to finish my senior ChE project, because I partied and goofed off the entire semester.  Of course, no all-nighter is going to fix our oil problem.  I doubt we will even try.  Just party to the end and take our F.

Wouldn't the analogy make more sense if we wait untill close to the last minute, and then work like hell to put alternatives in place?

Or did you get an F?


ggg71 -

Well, while alternative energy such as wind and solar are indeed experiencing healthy growth, there still isn't anything like a Manhatten Project type of massive government pushed crusade to put tens of billions of dollars worth of alternative energy systems in place ASAP.  

Even if there were, the alternative energy businesses couldn't absorb all that money in such a short period of time. A large project tends to have  a certain minimum lead time that cannot be accelerated very much by throwing more money at it.

Regardless of how large a financial incentive you offer, nine women working together cannot create a baby in one month.

yes, but 9 women can make 9 babies in 9 months.

That won't help our population problem, however.

I like the baby analogy.  That's funny.  (And good!)

Can I assume 4% depletion, and 2% growth?

Conservation will most likely be the first swing producer.  Not only will there be economic incentives to conserve, the government will probably fund all sorts of programs (tax incentives) to help consumers switch from lower to higher efficiency equipment.

Solar Hot Water, Instant Hot Water, higher mileage cars, hybreds, electric vehicles, mass transit, telecommuting, etc...

Next, industries that can ramp up quickly to capitalize on the high costs will do so.  To the detriment of the environment, this will probably be Coal.  Powerplants will most likely switch to coal freeing up Natural Gas.

I expect NIMBYism on Solar and Wind projects to disappear.

Nuclear will then be put on a crash course.  Say 5 years to the first new plants.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but we will adapt.

In that vein what are open book tests called since we've got all the data staring at us?
That the MSM is debating the issue of peak oil at all is a huge advance.  It was stated in an earlier post that keeping something off the agenda is the first line of defence (this is bang on).  That line of defence has been breached - this is now on the agenda.  See below.  I conclude that the horses are getting nervous and they need to be calmed...

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics

"The faces of power debate has coalesced into a viable conception of three dimensions of power including decision-making, agenda-setting, and preference-shaping. The decision-making dimension was first put forth by Robert Dahl, who advocated the notion that political power is based in the formal political arena and is measured through voting patterns and the decisions made by politicians. This view was seen by many as simplistic and a second dimension to the notion of political power was added by academics Peter Bachrach and Morton Baratz involving agenda-setting. Bachrach and Baratz viewed power as involving both the formal political arena and behind the scenes agenda-setting by elite groups who could be either politicians and/or others (such as industrialists, campaign contributors, special interest groups and so on), often with a hidden agenda that most of the public may not be aware of. The third dimension of power was added by British academic Steven Lukes who felt that even with this second dimension, some other traits of political power needed to be addressed through the concept of 'preference-shaping'. This third dimension is inspired by many Neo-Gramscian views such as cultural hegemony and deals with how civil society and the general public have their preferences shaped for them by those in power through the use of propaganda or the media. Ultimately, this third dimension holds that the general public may not be aware of what decisions are actually in their interest due to the invisible power of elites who work to distort their perceptions"

I'm a political scientist by education and the first thing that struck me when I read this excerpt was "wow, that's a pretty narrow definition of politics." So I clicked the link to see who wrote this and low and behold there is more to the "definition" than you included. Look at the section following the paragraph above as well as the later paragraphs on "pragmatic" power. The portion you quoted is not a sufficient representation of the contemporary study of politics
It was not intended to be a complete definition/discussion but specific to the issue of agenda setting and what is debated and not debated.

However, as a political scientist, if you have comments to add on agenda setting and debate, that would be of interest to me and probably others now that PO is moving more and more into the MSM as a topic.

I apologize if it came across as though I was criticizing you for the definition, that was not my intent. My reaction had to do with the source (Wikipedia) and not necessarily the content (which is reasonable as far as it goes.

Political Science (like any area of study) is not nearly as unified as the word "science" might seem to suggest. But here is my take on agenda setting. The most you can expect out of our political institutions (with the possible exception of the occassional enlightened locality) with regard to peak oil will be discussions on what we can do to replace oil. They are not capable of addressing the growth ethic that is the root of the problem, not because they are evil people, but because the institutions themselves have been set up to reflect and support the underlying cultural assumptions that created them - and the people that wind up in them are supporters of those assumptions (they have to be in order to even be there).

This is why I say the problem is even deeper than Mr. Brown's "Iron Triangle." It is our culture itself that is working to prevent us from solving the problems we face. <Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now, before I really get in trouble>.



Good stuff. I think you are right.  The institutions can "Rearrange" the Furniture,  BUT it is COMPLETELY out of context to REPLACE the Furniture.

I remember seeing a cartoon and a board of directors are meeting at a big company and the Pres is saying.
"I don't get it,  We have cut costs, We have streamlined our operation, We have revamped our marketing and are sales are still in terminal decline."

On the wall in the cartoon picture is a calandar saying 1920, and Outside the window you see the company name.
"National Buggywhip Inc."

They couldn't understand that their entire PREMISE was wrong.

They can chose solutions from the variables WITHIN the Set, but if the solution requires a variable OUTSIDE the Set, It cannot be done. (math set theory).

and this statement;

"...will be discussions on what we can do to replace oil. "

Exactly.  NOT replacing Oil is a solution OUTSIDE the Set of permissible Culturally supported values or options.

It would be like saying we need new transportation, and be taken to a Car Lot and then asking a salesperson "What kind of Horses ya got?"

Does Not Compute, Does Not Compute, Does Not Compute...
until the computer crashes.

Tell'em that their Theory's logic isn't what's wrong, It's your "Givens" that are wrong.

We are the Buggy Whip Mfg's and it's 1920.

John Carr

I couldn't agree more that the problem is with our culture and its "growth ethic". I think the Iron Triangle is a model that captures the essence of our culture in an identifiable entity. Or perhaps it is a way to focus our frustrations on an entity as opposed to focusing our frustrations on our culture, and thus, on ourselves.

We're a part of our culture, after all, so changing the culture means we must each change. Not an easy thing to swallow especially when it means I have to challenge the means by which I earn my paycheck, which feeds me and my family, pays my mortgage, etc.

I think the courage to step out of this paradigm that is our culture is something found in very few people. It is yet another reinforcement to my realist position. We're entrenched in a system and even though it's obvious that the system is destroying us, getting everyone to change to the degree needed is simply not realistic.


We cannot imagine a viable society that exists without the underlying dynamic of the growth ethic.  We measure throughput and then pronounce that as representative of the positive state of our economy. How many jobs out there are not dependent upon this growth ethic?  We have an entire industry, the financial industry devoted to its care, feeding, and analysis. The stock market could not exist without this ethic. Corporations live or die by growth. It is not sufficient to say that we will all just simply withdraw and be hunter/gatherers.  We crossed that bridge centuries ago.
Excellent points David, thanks
With all this Happy Jack news I bought a couple of barrels today.  Have any of the technical people here looked at the Chinese Methane Ice story?  Aren't we in peak ice as well...
About the GOM find: As many here have already noted, the reserves have been estimated as 3 to 15 TBOE and at that depth most of it is likely to be gas. If they build the pipelines and start drilling for gas, couldn't this find actually ease the coming North American NG shortage? Of course it's extremely deepwater, but still, could the NG production be ramped up enough that it would make an impact?
As uncertain as oil statistics from EIA may be, they show some consistent trends.

I notice some very worrysome trend on gasoline stocks in the US : the gasoline stock is gradually replaced by blending components while finished gasoline is declining, flirting with its historical lows.

Statistical error or worry ?

Where can I look at the raw numbers you speak of?
Atlanta area folks - need help!

We have a small Peak Oil Meetup group in Atlanta, and have just committed to have Richard Heinberg come and speak the evening of Wed Oct 11.  We are scrambling to find an affordable venue that will seat 200-600 people, so if you have any ideas or contacts please email not me but Liz Logan at ebethouise at yahoo dot com.  We have two options that are less than desirable - one a church that seats only 200 and the other a conference center that is too expensive.  We are hoping to get a classroom or something at one of the universities, preferably GA Tech or possibly Emory, and any contacts there or other ideas would be most helpful.  Thanks!!

Several people who post here belong to our group.  We are meeting next on Wed Sept 13 at the Toco Hills library at 7:00.  Please come and help us put this event on.  For info go here.

Try one of the local UU churches. UUCA is big enough to hold that many people. Their rates are generally reasonable, and if one of your memebers is a member of the congregation you might even get the venue for free.
Thanks Optimist.  The UU has their church related activities on Wed night, unfortunately.  They were our first choice.

We'd like to have our event at GA Tech, Emory or maybe GA State.  We have another church lined up, but we think these venues would be even better.  We are in the process of contacting these folks, but if anyone has a connection, we'd love to know about it.

Thanks so much!
The other Liz

Just go tell those UU's to change their calender, since you got a more important date. Talk it up!  I have been the chief calender guy in my local UU outfot more times than I can remember, and that's the sort of thing I did all the time.
I read in one of those articles that production in the optimistic case may be approximately 750,000 bpd for the new discovery.  Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but is this not less than 1 percent of world production?  All these comments on quantity reflect almost everyone's poor understanding that it is FLOWS that count, not reserves, when considering peak.  Comments?
No Pipeline from Jack?

From The Energy Bulletin:

4. The wells are located in deep water and will not be served by underground GOM pipelines. The oil will be pumped directly to tankers. Pipelines are faster and more efficient, and tankers will put a higher price and limited the amount of oil pumped out.

5. The wells are most likely mainly natural gas, as they are very deep. All estimates are in barrels of oil equivalent. Oil tends to form closer to the surface, gas deeper. Therefore the discovery is likely to impact natural gas markets, not oil, if the gas exists in meaningful quantities.

This is most strange. Oil may very well be loaded directly onto a tanker but not natural gas. Notice #5 states: The wells are most likely mainly natural gas... Loading natural gas directly onto a tanker is impossible, it must first be liquified. This requires a huge cooling train and massive amounts of electricity to run them. I would think putting such a train on an offshore platform would be impossible.

So the question is, what are they going to do with all that natural gas? Perhaps reinject it?

There must be a misunderstanding here. Does anyone have any further information on whether there will be a pipeline or not?

Ron Patterson

  Ron, the reports yesterday said the discovery was oil. This sounds improbable to me, but a geochemist in yesterday's thread said that because of the rapid subsidence of this part of the Gulf that the lower Eocene sediments had produced oil rather than gas because of the thermal maturity of the sediments.
  Nobody has ever produced oil or gas in this water depth. Any pipe or Christmas Tree (wellhead fittings) will have to withstand 3500 lbs. of water pressure plus whatever pressure is in the formation. This is going to take very sophisticated engineering and materials science. All of the equipment will have to be installed with robotics or waldos on submarine vehicles.
  All this probably can be done, but not quickly, and its going to take a lot of new equipment technologies. I think it is just too early to figure out how they operator will achieve getting the oil and gas produced and marketed with the small information that is available. My best guess is subsea well equipment and pipelines to a platform in shallower water where the oil will either hook up with existing platforms or be produced into tankers, but I'm not an engineer and I'm not paying for it, so my guessss isn't worth much. But one thing I do know is this will be very expensive oil and gas.  
Does the rapid subsidence make it possible for the oil window to be that much deeper?   Is it just that the hydrocarbon chains have yet to be broken down by the temperature and pressure of that depth?
  Probably. The Geochemist's comment said the temperature was much lower than normal for the depth. But, remember this discovery has had just two assessment wells and is claiming 300,000,000 barrels of reserves. What happens if the sand in the facies(Rock Formation) has a permeability barrier and most of the field is actually natural gas? I'm not sure it is economic at $6 natural gas. I have a hard time believing in these huge figures with just two wells, let alone a 50% addition to the US reserves. But I sure hope they are right-my father owns both Chevron and Devon stock.
Thanks--the subsidence idea at least gives a semblance of a reason why the normal conditions for hydrocarbon formation might not apply.   Hearing you on the upside for Chevron and Devon, although most of the big boys have a line out in that same deep sea fishing contest.  Seems like desperation to me, but what do I know--I've never drilled a well down almost 30000 feet.
reading of the technical difficulties you mention i wonder if these can be considered proven reserves by any stretch of imagination   maybe you should advise the father-in-law to sell his chevron stock

Clinton to get custom hybrid SUV

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Former president Bill Clinton will take delivery of a specially outfitted "Presidential Edition" Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV later this month.

..."The Clinton Climate Initiative is working with some of the world's largest cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Clinton said in an announcement. "I'm happy to have a fuel efficient vehicle to do my part and I'd like to thank the Ford Motor Company for this."

Should have gotten a Prius, but I guess that would have been un American.
I wonder how the armor plating will impact the fuel efficiency?  And will his "custom" vehicle have those spinny wheels and thumping 4000 watt sound system?  That would be a sweet ride!  And is this an endorsement of the democratic party?  And will Bell let Hillary drive it?  Or Chelsea?  And where will the Secret Service detail sit?

This news generates so many questions!!!

Or maybe they'll park it on their front lawn and put some spot lights on it so everyone can look.
Don't forget Bill's own personal ride. He is original owner on a 1969 Shelby Mustang GT500KR. Red. Convertible.
That is so sweet though.
  Good for him! He is a great leader and better communicator, I'm glad he's on board showing a good example.
Anyone seen this yet?

The Oil Drum debate, round one

I was just sent the link. I like the fact that TOD is considered a "powerful blog."

More shameless self-promotion. Yesterday Dave, now you. And yes, our energy alpha-male has his picture bigger than yours, which is so small it's weird.

The writer(s) go in the right direction, but your man Vinod's clouds of words are too confusing for them, in the end they simply they don't get your EROI argument. Bit of a shame. But at least they tried.

This whole moral thing that is thrown in from left field confuses me, I must say. "Yeah, we'll burn more than we get in return, and it's a pity about the land, but it's the moral thing to do?!"

And yes, our energy alpha-male has his picture bigger than yours, which is so small it's weird.

My picture is from my employee ID. It is only about 8 KB. It is the only one I had handy when Etopia asked me for a picture a few weeks ago for the interview I did with them. Venture Beat obviously got the picture from there.

The writer(s) go in the right direction, but your man Vinod's clouds of words are too confusing for them...

You noticed that too. Notice that he never answers the question put to him, instead going off on all kinds of tangents. Even when caught red-handed making false claims, he can't come right out and concede that he was wrong (see his answer on Brazil, for instance).

ah, so I'm not crazy then. Thank you.
Since no one has addressed this I shall. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on the current spot gas price of $1.64.  With the current spot price of oil at $67, and 20% of the oil consumed in the refining and distribution, that leaves only 34 gallons per barrel for liquid fuels or other products for sale. At $67/brl that means the oil cost alone of a gallon of liquid fuel is nearly $2.00. Could I be missing something like politics or election time?  $1.64* 34= $55.76

Took the fifth,

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The former head of pipeline-corrosion monitoring for BP in Alaska refused to testify under oath Thursday as outraged lawmakers grilled company officials over the causes of a massive oil spill earlier this year."


Al Jazeera shows a tape of Bin Laden with 9/11 hijackers

What's today? September 7, 4 days ahead of the 5th anniversary.

Why do I get the creeping suspicion he might be "caught" before November 6?

It's not that I don't like coincidence, or spontaneity, don't get me wrong.

  If "Bin Laden" is caught, check his arms for dialysis needle marks! My personal suspicion is that he is in Saudi at one of his half-brother's palaces. He is a royal relative, and I don't believe the family of Saud would let him be prosocuted.
A question to the nuclear engineers here, what are the long lead time parts for a nuclear powerplant?

I guess it is the heavy steel parts such as the preassure vessel, steam generators in a PWR and turbine axels and casings. Is that correct? What other parts take a long time from order to delivery? What do these long lead time parts cost in percentage of a completed plant or millions of dollars?

Hello TODers,

Latest update from Bloomberg for your consideration.

Is Mexican-elect Calderon moving to hoarding Mexican FFs?   Or is he totally unaware of Peakoil and Cantarell crashing?  I have no idea!

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

My Letter to the Editor

to the Lexington Herald-Leader  Others are welcome to copy (please make small changes, H-L has a 250 word maximum).

The recent headlines about the ninth successful (+ four dry holes) very deep water well in the Lower Tertiary (Wilcox trend) appears to be successful "marketing" by 50% owner Chevron more than a dramatic breakthrough with Jack #2.  25% owner Statoil of Norway, which is less concerned about American politics and public opinion said "... A decision whether to develop Jack may be made in 2007 or 2008, Statoil's Mellbye said. The field would start production in 2013 if development goes ahead".

This contradicts the "750,000 barrels in new daily US crude within six years" on your front page.  Peak production follows many years after first production.

The other 25% owner, Devon, talked more about early, and bigger, very deep wells than Jack #2.

The total very deep Wilcox play may have 3 to 15 billion barrels of oil EQUIVALENT.  That is oil PLUS natural gas.  Only if the maximum 15 billion barrels is 100% oil would this be a "US reserve increase by 50%".  At the depths noted, all observers expect much of the oil equivalent to be natural gas.

Your headlines did a disservice to the truth of a nice oil play that will, at best, reduce but not reverse the 33 year decline in US oil production.  And the truth that the US must soon start using significantly less oil.

Like the recent drop in gasoline but not diesel or aviation fuel prices, I wonder if early November votes are part of the equation in this news "marketing".

We're thinking along the same lines, Alan. Here's my letter to the Bellingham Herald (200 word limit).

The successful test drill for oil in the very deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico was greeted with a lot of hype in the headlines [Herald, 9/06].  When we read the fine print, however, we see the devil in the details. In addition to the important qualifiers mentioned in the AP article, consider the following.

3 to 15 billion barrels is a huge range, and estimates usually end up being overly optimistic. Note also that the estimates given are for combined oil and natural gas - probably much more natural gas at this deep level. Even at the most optimistic level, it's only 2 years of U.S. oil supply at 2006 levels of consumption (the U.S. consumes 7.5 bbpy, not 5.7, as the AP article claims, and this consumption is growing at 5% per year).

When and if this oil actually comes on line, it will do nothing more than replace existing production declines in the Gulf. Oil production in the U.S. peaked in 1970, and now that we're nearing the peak in world oil production, we need to face the truth that fossil fuels are finite, and we need to begin making other arrangements.  We must begin using less.

My first post on the oil drum. I didn't intend to join, but I felt compelled - since I have never seen such a  large group of bright but pessimistic posters IN MY LIFE!  

Get a clue. If there is money to be made by finding oil, oil will be found...for the forseeable future

One more point...the fact that my name - Gusher - has not been taken long ago, tells me what a gloomy group of people you mostly are.

Welcome Gusher.

Don't be shy to post your thoughts.
No one here has a monopoly on truth.
We're all exploring. Playing with facts, numbers and ideas.

I have never seen such a  large group of bright but pessimistic posters IN MY LIFE!

That is a valid observation.
I suppose it all depends on how we each choose to view the world around us.

Like this:

Or like this:

Note: Clicking on the last picture will link you to the Fate of Humanity power point site. It is a long read. If  you are patient and read through the whole thing you may understand why so many of us are pessimistic.

If you are the impatient type, I recommend you do Chapter 5 first (Easter and St. Matthew Islands). I think the Easter Island statue building industry execs got it "real" that there was money to be made in building statutes ... bigger and better each time.

Statue pundit, Drain-all Yurgent told them that "technology" would come through to assure many decades of continued production. He foresaw an undulating plateau of ever increasing statue productions. Sure there were a bunch of pessimistic Cassandras running around yelling mad stupid things about a bunch of dumb ole' trees. But why listen to them?

OOps. I meant Chapt 4.
Awww man, whaddya call that? A Magnum Opus or something? I imagine Gusher is building a fallout shelter right about now, never to be seen again.

Be kind to the newbies. I can't believe you've out-done me on that one. Do you think he deserved it?

Come back anytime, Gusher. We need your happy thoughts.

Oil CEO,

Two points here:

First, Gusher asks a valid question.  Are we overly pessimistic?

Second, a lot of people read these pages without ever commenting. So I didn't post those pictures (and it really does not take that long) for Gusher's sake alone. I suspect many of the silent majority are asking the same question that Gusher had the guts to pose out loud.

Hey, I knew that. But I think Gusher requires your attention a couple of posts down below.
Gotchya boss.
And I was already taking care of that fire drill even as you posted.

When do I get my raise?

(BTW, are you a midnight insomniac like me?)

I'm Sleep's worst nightmare. Raise? Let's wait until after the November elections. Democrats are notoriously more greedy then their counterparts. I gotta see how much these bastards are gonna cost me. How about an empty promotion and a cool-sounding new job title?
This guy says rats killed the trees, err something...

Rats, humans... Semantics. =]

Step Back...thanks for the photos.  

You really think people are so dumb that they don't react to market forces...and find better ways? And solve problems?

... people are so dumb that they don't react to market forces...and [they won't] find better ways [that] ... solve problems [facing them, i.e. Peak Oil, Global Warming, Overpopulation, Deforestration, etc. ,etc.]?

Woha there Gusher.

The pressures must be building up too fast in your agile well head.
I never said "people are dumb". If you want to call anyone dumb, call me dumb. Then I can't argue with you on that one.

Your actual pressumption, as implied in your question, is that "The Market" is somehow going to pick up on some extraterrestrial "signals" indicating that something is going terribly wrong.

And then The Market is going to slap a lot of smart people awake with a swipe of its Invisible Hand. They are going to wake up and "react" to that Market Force by saying to themselves:

"Ouch. That slap across my face by the Market forces sure hurt. But obviously it means something. It means that there are problems out there and that I, me personally, the self-centered individual, must and will "solve" those problems by "finding better ways". Yes, that's what I'm going to do by golly! (So hold on to your Sunday church hat Miss Molly! This righteous dude is going to find those better ways. Watch out world, here I come! Ouch, that really hurt.)"

There are too many twisted ideas in that pressumption for me to cover in one long rant.

First, though, let us observe that according to market theories, "The Market" IS ALREADY operating with the best (optimal) solutions that it can provide because "The Market" has already factored in all the billions of possibilities.

It caused those possibilities to compete with each other in the free market of ideas. It concluded that our current, non-negotiable way of life is "the better way". So you see? This already IS the best of all possible worlds. The Market is not generating a massive Apollo Program in reaction to the fruit cake Peak Oil problem and that in itself proves there is no problem. It would be a waste of scarce resources to react to a problem that simply ain't there.

Second, according to the extra-terrestrial Market signals being broadcast into my local TV tube, there is a current excess of governement foreclosures and liquidation sales that is creating a golden opportunity for me to get rich quick by jumping in to those real estate deals before they are all gone forever. A once in  lifetime opportunity. Sadly, that is a new Market reaction, a better way, an optimal solution as we may call it by way of which the Golden Market forces are showing themselves to me and a few of my fellow insomniac TV watchers.

So in conclusion, yes Gusher, there is a Santa Claus.
And yes the Market is finding the better ways -as it always has (cough ... after all 1929 was the "better way").

Oh. I almost forgot.
You are welcome for all those photos.
I hope they helped you to step back and see the bigger picture.
So now what is your view? Are we overly pessimistic?