Friday, July 29, 2005

false idol

Thursday, July 28, 2005

free trade whiners

Via the indispensable Energy Bulletin:

Venezuela May Not Meet Oil Output Goal, JPMorgan Says
"Skepticism abounds about Venezuela's ability to meet its goal of boosting production to 5 million barrels a day,'' the analysts said. ``Windfall oil revenue has been spent on social programs aimed at eradicating poverty rather than the oil sector, which has negative implications for future production growth.''

More FUD from the uber-captalists tribe of the Northern America's: shocked, aghast, as their globalist colonialism crumbles.

Kibbles for the poor. And literacy programs. And improved health care. My God - let them run along like this for a few more years and Venezuela might start to resemble the United States before oil peaked in the lower 48.

Let's see - I've added up the cost of all these Commie social programs on my napkin calculator. Then, using Friedman math, I've added up the Globalist value of having a healthy, educated workforce, and subtracted it from the cost of the social programs.

Hot damn - turns out to be a wash. Bullshit sure is slippery.

Strictly from an oil perspective, it is probably better for Venezuela to produce their fields at a sedate pace. Not much point in damaging future reserves due to overproduction,

even if the World Bank attack dogs are humping your trousers.

why buy milk when the cow is so cheap?

It's a scary new world

Larry Edelson says that while people think CNOOC (The Chinese National Offshore Oil Company) wants to buy Unocal because the Chinese want to secure oil, that is only part of the story. The lowly truth is that it is a screaming bargain. "Two years ago, when oil was trading at much lower levels, Unocal's reserves, based on the price-per-barrel of crude, were valued at $64 billion. But the total value of Unocal's shares was just $11.38 billion. So, in effect, by buying its shares, you could have bought its reserves for the equivalent of just 14.8 cents on the dollar." Remember, this was two years ago.

Now, we fast-forward to today, where it gets even better! Mr. Edelson takes up the story and says that he figures that "Unocal's reserves are at $102 billion. So you can buy the reserves for a puny 9.5 cents on the dollar."

I guess the old saying is true - got to have money to make money.

The CNOOC story rolls on - we'll see what happens when the bids are voted in August. I expect China to raise their bid. They've also been making noises about buying other, bigger oil companies that don't have American suitors like Chevron, should this deal fall through.

Persistant, are the Chinese.

Bill Bonner is casually walking by, and hears us talking about China. Off the top of his head, he comes up with a perfectly apt simile when he opines that "China is almost the exact opposite of the United States. If they are joined at the hip, commercially, it is strange beast they make. One works; the other eats. One saves; the other spends. One gets rich; the other gets poorer every day." Leaving me standing there with my mouth open at the unexpected profundity of it all, he walks off!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

gobs of data

Peak Oil Crisis: A Bible for Oil Deception - via Energy Bulletin
Some 30 years ago, amidst the oil crises of the 1970’s, the United States Government began compiling information related to US oil consumption and published it annually in the “ Transportation Energy Data Book.” It is now being prepared by the Center for Transportation Analysis at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is available on line.
Let’s take another case. Some foreign country has stopped sending us its oil. The lines at the pumps stretch for miles, and the people are screaming for buses to get to work, or to the mall for food. A quick look at Chapter 5 will tell you that while America currently has 77,000 transit buses, it also has 620,000 school buses.

This is a good article that has been making the rounds. It references a data packed report that I think many readers & Peak bloggers will find useful. Not so much in regard to their oil reserve numbers -- they do ok, but kind of fluff up the likely non-conventional sources. The massive oceanic methane hydrates reservess are presented as if they were a neutral option. -- HA! --

The breakdown of transportation and fuel use in the USA is superb. If I ever get around to taking a crack at a peak energy software model, this dataset would be enough to get me started, along with ASPO data for all the major producer countries. I don't know that I'll ever build this -- (Time is short. I'd be testing it against unrolling reality.) -- but I think it would be easier than modeling the climate. Industrial energy is produced and passed around structurally via a finite set of nodes. Such a model would likely be most useful in running scenarios, NOT predicting the future.

Some hazy time in the future, like say, December, I'm gonna rename this blog "Moot Point."

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Bartonian Extinction and other news

Exxon, Shell, BP Profits (...) Amid Record Oil Prices
Exxon Mobil Corp., BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc the world's three biggest publicly traded oil companies, will probably report record second-quarter profits because of surging oil and gas prices, analyst surveys showed.
Most of the increase in profit is coming from higher prices, rather than rising oil and gas production, according to Credit Suisse First Boston analysts including Edward Westlake.

Summary -- you can print dollars. You cannot print oil. Another feather in the cap for all those gloomy prognosticators. That and two cents will get you a cuppa joe.

How To Do Decentralized Energy
Cue Greenpeace ... Greenpeace UK, to be precise. The organization has just released a massive (~75 page) report entitled Decentralising Power: An Energy Revolution For The 21st Century, looking at what it would take to move the UK aggressively towards a distributed power network.

Good stuff. WorldChanging and Greenpeace, keeping their eye on the ball. The cornerstone of surviving our Long Emergency as a civilization and not a rabble is awareness of the alternatives to our present cracked out "solution" to life. The report is targeted at global warming mitigation -- works on that level and as a solution for Peak Energy.

A Bridge Just Far Enough
If you want an example of what sets greater Vancouver apart from the cities south of the US-Canadian border, look no farther than this Vancouver Sun headline: Council votes to turn two of six lanes on Burrard Bridge into dedicated bike lanes.
Just for context -- the Burrard Bridge is one of just a few main access points to downtown Vancouver, and carries a significant amount of car traffic into downtown from some of the western neighborhoods. Vancouver tried a similar experiment in the mid-1990s, but it ended after just a week or so because of a public outcry over congestion. The same thing may well happen again.

All the fat butts will scream about this one. Pedal faster -- like a Cuban. See how you're whipping past all the cars idling in the lane next to you? See how you can now cancel your club membership -- the one you don't use anyways? I'll keep an eye on the screams of pain from the car set up North. I resemble that remark.

What Can the Permian Teach Us?
But then the temperature shot up another five to ten degrees very quickly and huge amounts of carbon-12 were fixed into the rock suggesting a sudden injection of carbon into the air... all came together in a eureka type moment in the mind of offshore drilling expert and geologist Gerry Dickens. Methane hydrate was a curious new substance found recently in the deep ocean. At high pressure and low temperature it existed as a stable clathrate looking like bands and chunks of yellowish ice threaded into the ocean formations. (...) (T)he hydrate it turned out would convert to gas rather suddenly if the temperature rose just a few degrees, releasing methane gas rich in carbon-12.

DarkSyde rides in with another GREAT essay on a topic which in lesser hands would cause ones brain to glaze over. For me, I'm always complaining about them curious chimps at the DOE, chipping away at the hydrates, and now I gots another bullet for my gun. The Permian was an incredible Die-Off some years back that killed of everything on Earth. (Almost.) Western civilization and Joe Barton are trying to replicate it. The Bartonian. Has a nice ring to it.

Price hike enrages public
In Sana’a, the riot, pull(ed) together people from different classes ... Similar demonstrations accompanied by public chaos and destruction of government and private properties took place at the same time ... The police opened fire in the air and used tear gas to disperse the wrathful protestors who committed acts of vandalism, destroying both public and private properties, mainly in the capital city of Sana’a.

Phoenix, Arizona, 2010.

Postcards from the Pétrole Epoque IV

GM crops created superweed, say scientists
Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal.
Emily Diamond, a Friends of the Earth GM researcher, said: "I was shocked when I saw this paper. This is what we were reassured could not happen - and yet now it has happened the finding has been hidden away. This is exactly what the French and Greeks were afraid of when they opposed the introduction of GM rape."


Trust authority. They in authority have the authority to enforce that trust, if little else. It doesn't pay to fight it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

cadillac summer

Summer heat setting records
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- When it's 117 degrees, the beads of sweat feel as big as golf balls, and gamblers still want their cars parked. Casino valet attendants have only one hope: Pray for a Cadillac.
"Cadillacs are awesome. The Cadillac A/C just fires right up," Tommy Clements said as he shuttled cars at Boulder Station hotel-casino.

The looping ironies of this latter century are rich.

For now, in Phoenix and Nevada and L.A., there is gasoline to burn, swallowing the distorted air washing off the pavement. Ice cubes and pollution. One can easily imagine this heat is here to stay, this year and next year and the year after, a product of easy motoring, carbon expelling, gasoline burning Americans.

Is the lack of ocean upwelling contributing to the heat? The extrordinary ocean temperatures? I won't be the the one to get into a tug of war with the razor wielding Occam. Let's just blame it on underwater volcanos, and absolve ourselve from responsibility.

Five years out, ten years out, as producer countries flip and stop exporting oil in the massive quantities they do today, what will happen to the Desert Southwest?

The end could be swift. It may come faster than we can produce plastic solar panels for every roof top. It may come well before the first hybrid cadillac rolls off the line.

I feel sorry for people who have taken on thirty years of debt to buy a wood frame air conditioned hovel in the heart of this nascent maelstrom.

Friday, July 22, 2005

trash returned on trash invested

I suppose at some point, my sidebar links might explode. I link to Viridian / World Changing, as well as James Howard Kunstler. I've tried to provide a bit of a buffer - but html accidents do happen, and if the two should touch, there might be an explosion, like matter and anti-matter.

The heart of the disagreement is this: Kunstler argues the future will turn out to be "old fashioned" green, likely involving sour faced farmers (think American Gothic) holding organic pitchforks. The Viridian movement seeks to design a "bright green" future. What does a bright green future mean? Imagine the rain forest ascendant, with a huge plug to power all the laptops belonging to the howler monkeys. I imagine it will also glow.

Both are marketing a vision of the future.

Now, I don't mean to pick on these two competing visions. In fact, I have noticed that there are aspects of these philosophies that venn up, as when each propose efficient urban patterns for living that would save energy and increase standards of living.

I'm fond of all my links. Most I read daily, though some are vestigial organs. When they attack each other, it is rather exciting. I must take sides, if only for a day. And today I respond to blue.

Viridian Note 00449: The Mad Max Scenario
You can make synthetic oil from coal, but the only time this was tried on a large scale was by the Nazis under wartime conditions, using impressive amounts of slave labor. (((So, then, the Nazis had a Peak Oil problem, right? Did this make the Nazis collapse without a shot being fired?)))

Humans are pretty good at turning gruel into useful work -- for a time. If one were to instead propose using an industrial process to convert coal to gasoline, now we can hunker down to brass tacks and do an EROEI analysis. Cliff notes -- It is better to burn coal for electricity than convert it into liquid fuel. In an energy famine, would one waste energy, or start handing out donkeys?

Under optimal conditions, it could take ten years to get a new generation of nuclear power plants into operation, and the price may be beyond our means. Uranium is also a resource in finite supply. (...) ((( (...) the Manhattan Project didn't take ten years, and nuclear power wasn't beyond the very modest means of the 1940s.)))

The Manhattan project wasn't modest, but the safety standards of the day sure were. That's why the Columbia River glows, and you must drive through certain (large) stretches of Washington State with your windows rolled up.

Proposals to distill trash and waste into oil by means of thermal depolymerization depend on the huge waste stream produced by a cheap oil and gas economy in the first place. (((Wow, a Peak Oil trash crisis! We might run out of trash! Why isn't the Main Stream Media covering this menace?)))

This is a great point. Indeed! Our Pétrole Epoque has left us with a TREMENDOUS endowment of trash. After oil runs out, immediately we shall begin to power our civilization on this heaped up refuse, and in fact, create NEW stylish trash with our trash endowment. However, the dark underbelly to this shining city by the sea is pointed out by our bearded prophet of DOOM, Kunstler.

You see, it is a question of Trash Returned on Trash Invested, or TROTI for short. And in converting Trash to Trash by way of thermal depolymerization, Trash is lost FOREVER.

Come to think of it, sign me up.

Thought should precede sarcasm. Peak Oil is not conventional consensus reality. Cheap energy underpins our civilization at present and people who draw attention to this fact are not the clowns in this narrative, even if some of their specific future scenarios are wacky and deridable.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

step on it

Deffeyes: "We're speeding up the decline." via Black Gold
My goal for ringing him up was to see if anything had changed from a year ago. With increasing demand in China and India, record prices, the war, was there any way -- possibly -- that the situation wasn't as bleak as it seems?

Nope. If anything, it's worse.

"We're burning the candle at both ends. We're speeding up the decline," he tells me.

Deffeye's Hubbert's Peak is the first book I read on Peak Oil. So I'll cast in my lot with the Prof.

Peak oil this year or bust!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

quote of the day

"the elves, or God, or whatever, are not refilling the wells with oil."

quote courtesy the - The Oil Drum

Cnooc hot to trot

Cnooc persists in bid for Unocal
"We were extremely uncomfortable when the Chinese government took a more active role in Cnooc," said Merjan. "We look at this as securing assets as opposed to doing what's in the best interest of shareholders." The company sold its interest in Cnooc on Tuesday.

Actually, aquiring assets early in a long bull run for commodities is probably a fabulous thing for Cnooc shareholders. Bad for the United States, but then, just about everything is these days. The U.S. produce 5 million barrels of oil a day (and change) importing the remaining 15-20 million barrels.

"U.S. strategic interests are not served by selling a U.S.-based oil company to a company that's 70 percent owned by the Chinese Communist government," Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Energy Committee, said in a statement announcing that he would hold hearings on the issue this week

Barton Fink is on the House Energy Committee? Who could have imagined. His assertion is fundamentally correct. However, it is an odd time for congresscritters to be talking strategic interests, having hollowed out the North American manufacturing sector, in a wholesale bid to let China sell it back one DVD player at a time.

Which they have done. Interesting times.

As I mentioned before, China is curious to see if the dollars they piled up have any value whatsoever. If this sale is blocked, the ramifications will probably be more severe than any of us can imagine. This is the most important story of the summer. (The Michael Jackson trial being a close second.)

If the sale is blocked, United States dollars have no value.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Barton, Fink.

Michael Mann and associated scientists have formally responded to the dilettante "researchers" in the United States Congress, who were spurred into absurd action because of an article by an economist and a moron in the Wall Street Journal.

Scientists respond to Barton
Many in the scientific community would welcome any genuine interest in climate change from the committee, but the tone and content of these letters have alarmed many scientists and their professional organisations. In the words of Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Barton letters "give the impression of a search for some basis on which to discredit these particular scientists and findings, rather than a search for understanding."

I respect the approach these scientists took. Strictly speaking, in his role as a representative of the people of Texas and a lawmaker, I am not sure Joe "Joe" Barton has the authority to make private citizens dance to his fiddle. The how and why of grant money isn't classified information in the United States. (Yet.)

I would have been equally happy if the scientists in question had simply photocopied their asses and faxed this over to Barton's office.

Barton, your glacier called, and it is melting.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

peak oil - the big flip

Oil has peaked just about everywhere. Quick - on to the consequences.

Liquefied gas fills gap left by North Sea decline
THE first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) arrives in the Thames Estuary this morning and will be the start of many shipments of gas from Algeria that will help to replace Britain’s declining North Sea gas reserves.
The Berge Arzew, a third of a kilometre long, will moor at the Isle of Grain, Kent, and begin to pump 138,000 cubic metres of LNG into National Grid Transco’s new LNG terminal.

Better yet, Britain snuck this load out from under the United States. Read the article: Volatility to follow. Oh yeah? So the North Sea peaks. Britain now needs to import energy, and the powers that be aren't making any more oil on timescales that matter to humans.

It will be interesting to see how many natural gas ports at dollars a million by 500 plus can be built, and whether after having completed said ports, they'll even have ships docking at them. Algeria, the source for the gas in the article above, had a big blowup at an LNG gassification facility over a year ago. LNG trade should prove the most disruptable in a volatile world.

But maybe we should do LNG to save the oceans:

Warmer oceans may be killing West Coast marine life
Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, apparently caused by a lack of upwelling — a process that brings cold, nutrient-rich water to the surface and jump-starts the marine food chain. Upwelling fuels algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which provide an important food source for a variety of sea life, from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.

What in the heck could cool down the oceans? How about a LNG De-Gassification terminal, say, 10 miles offshore, sucking in the warm water and spitting out 100 million gallons of ice water a day?

Behold, the future. Attacking dilemmas with problems.

The salmon are in heaven, with a million tiny halos, and they are judging us.

Without salmon around, I expect shrimp to start growing to the size of Enron executives. Look what happened to those stupid rodents when the dinosaurs died.

Friday, July 15, 2005

peak roar

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

petrol greed and Codex Alimentarius

Concerned about peak energy, I haven't spent too much time on the industries which directly benefit from our present state of petroleum glutted wealth. Industries like drugs -- the legal kind.

Perhaps that has been a mistake.

It's About More Than Just Vitamins...
As long as I'm pimping documentaries, you might want to catch this excellent online short film We Become Silent which explains the recent furor over Codex.... If you have broadband you can view it online (it's about 20 min.), and if not you can download it.

The short film is good and streams well over broadband. It references a court case in the UK. The results are in:

Thousands of vitamin products threatened by ruling
The European Court of Justice has rejected British health food industry claims that the proposed Food Supplements Directive, coming into force on 1 August, breaches EU rules. Yesterday's decision means some 300 nutrients and nutrient sources in the UK will be banned unless they can obtain inclusion on a "positive" list - a move that supplement manufacturers say requires excessive levels of testing and red tape.

Common supplements, produced from well known food sources for millenia, are now to be "studied" by drug companies, repackaged as "drugs" and sold at great profit, (as presently occurs in Norway and Germany). If you have health insurance, naturally. Those on the margins of our exclusionary global culture will suffer, as usual.

Oh, and Americans, apparently codex alimentarius has tolled for us. Now we are simply waiting for the wheels of progress to crush us a little more.

When I come across something like this, a little terriblisma goes a long way. This nonsense will be unsustainable in a post peak world.

"Give me liberty or give me death" -- some terrorist.

an orderly exit

I've been pondering the value of simply spreading word on peak oil and energy, as opposed to other types of actions. Is it helpful by itself, or does it simply spread fear and uncertainty?

I think spreading the word is helpful. Of course, for those of us blogging on these issues, a hefty percentage of our readers self select for this type of material. That appears to be changing. A wider audience is coming, propelled by ceaseless oil price growth.

The primary way in that I feel getting the word out is that it might reduce panic in the face of a sudden shortfall. If oil production drops, say down to 79 million barrels a day, we've got a mass decision point as a culture. Freak out or share?

If someone yells fire in a crowded theatre, the only thing keeping everyone alive is an orderly row by row exit, versus a spastic granny stomping push for daylight. People know to be calm because they are taught that it will save them in a particular situation.

Are the Desert Kingdom's foundations built on sand?
Despite the recent surge in oil prices, which have doubled in the past two years, hitting $60 a barrel last week, Simmons believes governments cannot leave the markets to ration increasingly scarce energy resources. 'I grew up in a banking family. I am a firm believer that the market is a 500lb wrecking ball. If you leave it to the invisible hand of Adam Smith, that could actually end up creating a gigantic noose that strangles us.' He points to the fights that broke out in the US in queues for petrol during the Seventies oil embargo as evidence that the market does not produce fair solutions to problems of scarcity.

In Matthew Simmons view of the world, leaving the coming oil crisis to "the markets" is akin to stomping on your friends in that hoary old burning theatre and letting them die.

We need solutions ready for short term mitigation of the relatively mild initial effects of depletion. ASPO has long advocated that oil usage in the future be allocated proportionately based loosely on usage at the peak date.

I endorse that approach over "What in the blazes?" any day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

summer hours

Ok, I've got about 10 things I want to post on this week and I am running way behind - in the meantime go check out the latest WHT peak oil model... I'll start catching up tonight.

Part 1: A Macro Peak Oil Model
Part 2: A Macro Peak Oil Model
Don't take the peak date too seriously. This profile is meant to show how easily the asymmetrical Bell curve derives from such a simple model. (It is actually quite difficult to distinguish the rise from a Gaussian curve).

Monday, July 11, 2005

tax cuts for the wealthy

Friday, July 08, 2005

unintended hurricanes

Due to ongoing climate change, which is itself linked to explodin' carbon based fuels at the pleasure and leisure of carbon based life forms, our planet is being terraformed along more interesting lines...

NOAA predicts two or three hurricanes to hit U.S.

Frank Lepore of the National Hurricane Center said scientists were looking at warmer ocean temperatures as a possible factor in this year's forecast.
"The issue, really, this year is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic," Lepore said.

What do we win?

Hurricane Winds Reach 135 Mph, Forcing Florida Keys Evacuations
Hurricane Dennis strengthened overnight into the strongest storm ever this early in the Atlantic hurricane season, forcing mandatory evacuations in parts of the Florida Keys.
Florida (is) still recovering and rebuilding after a devastating storm season last year (...) A record four hurricanes -- Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne -- struck the state last year and caused almost $23 billion in property damage.

But guess what -- the oil industry is still recovering and rebuilding along the gulf coast as well. Maybe that is why:

Oil Rises in New York as Hurricane Dennis Heads for U.S. Gulf
"The hurricane is a major concern at the moment,'' said Gerard Burg, a minerals economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne. "If we see similar damage, we could see oil prices breaching $70 a barrel and could approach $80.''

$70 a barrel. Paging Michael Lynch. Cassandra on line two.

Now the fuel we burned in an obvious effort to make weather more exciting is going to cost more because OUR WEATHER IS MORE EXCITING. This recursive pattern should bootstrap paranoia for the next fifteen years or so, or at least until all the oil rigs in the gulf are sleepin' with the fishes.

Let's get busy on terraforming things back to the way they were.

freedom fries

Thursday, July 07, 2005

trafficking in wasted oil

Matthew Simmons has pointed out variously and correctly (such as in The End of Suburbia and Twilight in the Desert) that traffic congestion is enemy number one for wasted liquid fuel.

Traffic congestion is public enemy numbers 1 through 8 on passenger car fuel efficiency. And so we can have all of these Priuses and hybrids, don't get me wrong they are great. I drive a fabulous new Diesel Mercedes and I get, on the open road, as long as there is no traffic, I can get almost 50 miles to the gallon. But when I am in stop-and-go traffic I get between 5-11 miles to the gallon.

Ponder this nugget of wisdom while staring at this cool web simulator, which I spotted on Cascadia Scorecard --

You know, I think I've lived through that Jam before.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

jittery in Fresno

I've been watching the Unplanner's blog with interest the last few months.

Now, he has decided to pack in his California civic planning and leave the golden sunshine behind. Specifically, he knows what is in the sausage, and has no desire to be clusterfucked. He's got a family, and peak oil is setting up to hit the sun belt hard.

Packin' it much for P.O. planning
1. It is over populated and growing too fast. Plain and simple, the demographics of this area scare me. Even though I live in what is considered rural in california terms, by non-CA terms it is still crowded. My county, is home to nearly 400K people and growing rapidly. What's worse is the population distribution indicates that a sizable portion of the population has YET to enter the child bearing age. Plus due to our relative inexpensive cost of living, thousands more are flocking to us each year.
2. Despite this county being larger than the state of Connecticut, most people are jammed into the North-western 20% of the county. The bulk of the land is occupied by 10K foot mountains.
3. Water. It only rains on average 8 inches of rain a year...
4. Socio economics.

I am sure some people will find this hysterical, overwrought.

I don't. I can't blame Unplanner for being worried.

8% decline a year. Will it be a smooth decline, or will every export country clam up and preserve fuels for local consumption? How do you build a monkey trap?

The United States is the biggest energy importer in the world, consuming over thirty percent of the global daily allotment of oil. What happens to the food supply if there is a six month supply disruption at the wrong time of year?

Lately, driving around, pondering highways stuffed full of cars, I mentally remove the guzzlers, trying to identify hybrids. Less than 1 in 100. SUV's are no longer high fashion, but that doesn't stop the nouveau riche from clanking around Redmond, WA in their Hummers.

And I don't live in California. It rains up here in Washington State, we've got plentifull rivers and fertile valleys, I could grow tomatoes in the soil outside my window tomorrow. (mmm, pesticides.)

California smells of asphalt and dust. And possibly, tragedy.
No one knows what is going to happen.
Listen to your intuition.

the ugly dystopian

In the past, the ASPO newsletter has contained some articles where our follies are presented in the Swiftian sense. In the July 2005 newsletter, I fear William Stanton was given too much rope to present his not so modest proposal. To be straightforward, I found it a disappointing and unhelpful entry.

Oil and People
That is the do-nothing, let Nature take its course, scenario, involving more than a century of immeasurable human suffering. What alternatives are there? They have to be scenarios in which enlightened governments and their peoples, with astonishing foresight and determination, take positive action to reverse population growth by new, Draconian, laws. China has pioneered such an approach, by its one child per family policy.

It is definitely a painful and troublesome thing to go head to head with human evolutionary instinct. I am certainly one who believes that negative population growth is a desirable state of affairs for the next one hundred years. Getting there is tricky of course; consider the details of Stanton 's plan.

So the population reduction scenario with the best chance of success has to be Darwinian in all its aspects, with none of the sentimentality that shrouded the second half of the 20th Century in a dense fog of political correctness

This sounds ugly. And I'm not sentimental.

The scenario is: Immigration is banned. Unauthorised arrives are treated as criminals. Every woman is entitled to raise one healthy child. No religious or cultural exceptions can be made, but entitlements can be traded. Abortion or infanticide is compulsory if the fetus or baby proves to be handicapped (Darwinian selection weeds out the unfit). When, through old age, accident or disease, an individual becomes more of a burden than a benefit to society, his or her life is humanely ended. Voluntary euthanasia is legal and made easy. Imprisonment is rare, replaced by corporal punishment for lesser offences and painless capital punishment for greater.

The punishment regime would improve social cohesiveness by weeding out criminal elements.

Who runs this authoritarian nirvana? Will these rules apply democratically to the elites? Dropping population IS an important goal. The globe is done with pyramid scheme growth, except on the balance sheets of fools. However, instituting strict state controls would have unintended consequences, if it is tenable at all. I don't believe it is tenable. I suppose William Stanton would consider me to be a woolly-headed politically correct type, but I think his vision of the future sucks and reads like bad science fiction.

Engineer-Poet deserves credit for pointing out the general connection of Dystopian science fiction to gloomy post peak scenarios.

No one wants to see human suffering on a permanent, chaotic scale. The supposed alternative -– actively weeding out the undesirables -- is a slippery slope to a different sort of hell.

If it is to be a Darwinian future, I’ll take anarchy. Stanton can keep his death state.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

america leads the way

How Dense Can We Be?
Yesterday's post on Density as Efficiency triggered an interesting discussion in the comments, and reader Laurence Aurbach provided some very useful links expanding upon the issue. One link in particular stood out: the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's online exploration of "Visualizing Density."

Modes of living need to be re-examined now if we are to have a post-peak soft landing, and the storm clouds are on the horizon. WorldChanging has a couple of recent entries that roll up a lot of the nicer ideas and motifs out there.

The general idea for the first few years following a peak is to conserve at the rate of depletion. Density will not initially be as pretty as presented. It will just be necessary.

Meanwhile, it is instructive to compare conservation-friendly density dreams with what is actually happening:

Big cities losing people (Thanks James Moe for the tip)
But new Census Bureau estimates to be released today show many cities slipping again. More than two dozen large cities that had been growing a decade ago are shrinking. Fast-growing suburbs with service-sector jobs and more affordable housing are attracting thousands of foreign-born residents who in the past would have started out in the city.

"The passing of abundant oil is not shaping up to be a soft landing for those with the fattest asses. And in this world, we all know which nation leads the way in obesity."

Friday, July 01, 2005

somebody spiked the punch

The ramifications of Peak Oil are absurd.

This explains much of the knee-jerk criticism to the well-established model of Peak Oil. It doesn't mesh with our world as it has been experienced. People don't have a cognitive frame of reference for “running out of oil”; it has never happened before. (As Jay Hanson pointed out.)

People in the U.S. can tell you what to expect if kidnapped by aliens (they’ll probe yeranus), but would have no idea what to expect if Iran blockaded oil traffic in the Gulf, using their cruise missile capacity. (Where are the frosted flakes???)

Adding to a general lack of knowledge is the angry criticism directed at individuals who stray towards negative scenarios. My sense of self does not include a tin-foil hat, but an outside observer might perceive one nestled on my hairy pate.

For example, proclaim something perfectly reasonable, in a post peak context: “The airlines are going the way of the Dodo”, or “Gold will rise in excess of $1000 US dollars an ounce” and the big nets come out. Peak Oil – what dat?

Consider a simple negative scenario:

Shortly, we lose 8% of our oil production in a given year.
Subsequently, we grow 8% less food in the next year,
Human population shrinks by 8% around the globe.

Now, this absurd scenario is easily picked apart. (Liquid fuel could be allocated for food first.) Or, it is easily supported. (Rich countries control the supply; poor will suffer.) It strikes me that arguing over this scenario is pointless, because:

Peak oil is absurd in the context of our current civilization.
It ALLOWS for absurd consequences.

In that light, the simple negative scenario described above has moved into the realm of the possible. That is a very different thing from me ADVOCATING such a thing, as those who discuss overshoot are often accused.

Absurd, I tell you.
Be ready for anything.

KAPOW! gone fishin'

Don't expect much activity this holiday weekend. NASA is going to shoot me into a comet on the Fourth of July, and I've got a lot of training to do to prepare myself. (I wouldn't let them dip me in liquid nitrogen, gonna do it the hard way.)

I should be back on Tuesday or Wednesday, with perhaps a little wear and tear.

a little zapped, but I am fine!

there is no there there