PRICE OF A BARREL OF OIL 1978 – $14.00

“We are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process, rebuild the unity and confidence of America.” – President Jimmy Carter, 1979

“We have it in our power to act right here, right now. I propose $6 billion in tax cuts and research and developments to encourage innovation, renewable energy, fuel-efficient cars, and energy-efficient homes.” – President Bill Clinton, 1998

“I think that in ten years, we can reduce our dependence so that we no longer have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela. I think that’s about a realistic time frame…That’s why I’ve focused on putting resources into solar, wind, biodiesel, geothermal. These have been priorities of mine since I got to the Senate, and it is absolutely critical that we develop a high fuel efficient car that’s built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but built here in the United States of America.” – President Barack Obama, 2008

“We don’t have to wait on OPEC anymore. We don’t have to let them hold us hostage. America’s got the energy. Let’s have American energy independence.”- Rick Perry, CNN Debate, October 18

“We must become independent from foreign sources of oil. This will mean a combination of efforts related to conservation and efficiency measures, developing alternative sources of energy like biodiesel, ethanol, nuclear, and coal gasification, and finding more domestic sources of oil such as in ANWR or the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).”Mitt Romney  



It is too bad that our 255 million cars can’t run on hot air. American presidents have propagated the Big Lie of energy independence for the last three decades. The Democrats have lied about green energy solutions and the Republicans have lied about domestic sources saving the day. These deceitful politicians put the country at risk as they misinform and mislead the non-thinking American public. They have been declaring our energy independence for 30 years, but we import three times as much oil today as we did in the early 1980’s. The CPI has gone up 350% since 1978, but the price of a barrel of oil has risen 800% over the same time frame. Today, I hear the same mindless fabrications from politicians and pundits about our ability to become energy independent. Any critical thinking analysis of the hard facts reveals that the United States will grow increasingly dependent upon other countries to supply our energy needs from a dwindling and harder to access supply of oil and natural gas. The fantasy world of plug in cars, corn driven vehicles and solar energy running our manufacturing plants is a castle in the sky flight of imagination. The linear thinking academic crowd believes a technological miracle will save us, when it is evident technology fails without infinite quantities of cheap oil.

I know the chart below requires some time to grasp, but I’m sure the average American can take five minutes away from watching Jersey Shore, Dancing with the Stars, or the latest update of the Kardashian saga to understand why the propaganda about energy independence is nothing but falsehoods. You have U.S. energy demand by sector on the right and the energy source by fuel on the left. Total U.S. energy use is nearly 100 quadrillion Btu. In physical energy terms, 1 quad represents 172 million barrels of oil (8 to 9 days of U.S. oil use), 50 million tons of coal (enough to generate about 2% of annual U.S. electricity use), or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (about 4% of annual U.S. natural gas use).  

Please note that 37% of our energy source is petroleum, which supplies 95% of the energy for our transportation sector. That means your car and the millions of 18 wheelers that deliver your food to your grocery stores and electronic gadgets to your Best Buy. You can’t fill up your SUV with coal, natural gas, nuclear energy or sunshine. Without the 7 billion barrels of oil we use every year, our just in time mall centric suburban sprawl society would come to a grinding halt. There is no substitute for cheap plentiful oil anywhere in sight. The government sponsored ethanol boondoggle has already driven food prices higher, while requiring more energy to produce than it generates. Only a government “solution” could raise food prices, reduce gas mileage, and bankrupt hundreds of companies in an effort to reduce our dependence on oil. Natural gas as a transportation fuel supplies 2% of our needs. The cost to retro-fit 160,000 service stations across the country to supply natural gas as a fuel for the non-existent natural gas automobiles would be a fool’s errand and take at least a decade to implement.   


The green energy Nazis despise coal and nuclear power, which account for 31% of our energy supply. They want to phase coal out. They aren’t too fond of fracking either, so there goes another 23% of our supply. You might be able to make out that itsy bitsy green circle with the 7% of our supply from renewable energy. And more than half of that energy is supplied by hydro power. Less than 2% of our energy needs are met by solar and wind. For some perspective, we need to use the equivalent of 17 billion barrels of oil per year to run our society and solar and wind supplies the equivalent energy of about 300 million barrels of that total. I think our green energy dreams will come up just a smidgen short of meeting our demands. Nothing can replace oil as the lifeblood of our culture and there is no domestic supply source which will eliminate or even reduce our dependence upon the 10 million barrels per day we import from foreign countries. There are some hard truths that are purposefully ignored by those who want to mislead the public about the grim consequences of peak cheap oil:

  • The earth is finite. The amount of oil within the crust of the earth is finite. As we drain 32 billion barrels of oil from the earth every year, there is less remaining within the earth. We have drained the cheapest and easiest to reach 1.4 trillion barrels from the earth since the mid 1800s. The remaining recoverable 1.4 trillion barrels will be expensive and hard to reach.
  • The United States has about 2% of the world’s proven oil and gas reserves, but consumes 22% of the world’s oil production and 27% of the world’s natural gas production.
  • Demand for oil will continue to rise no matter what the United States does, as the developing world consumption far outstrips U.S. consumption. Oil is fungible and will be sold to the highest bidder.
  • The concept of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) is beyond the grasp of politicians and drill, drill, drill pundits. EROEI is the ratio of the amount of usable energy acquired from a particular energy resource to the amount of energy expended to obtain that energy resource. When the EROEI of a resource is less than or equal to one, that energy source becomes an “energy sink”, and can no longer be used as a primary source of energy. Once it requires 1.1 barrels of oil to obtain a barrel of oil, the gig is up.
  • There is a negative feedback loop that revolves around oil supply, oil price and economic growth. As demand continues to rise and supply is more difficult to access, prices will rise. Since oil is an essential ingredient in every aspect of our lives, once the price reaches $120 to $150 a barrel economic growth goes into reverse. Demand crashes and investment in new sources of energy dries up. Rinse and repeat.

Finite World

World oil production peaked in 2005 has been flat since then, despite a continuous stream of promises from Saudi Arabia that they are on the verge of increasing production. The chart below from the U.S. Energy Information Administration propagates the standard fabrications about energy supplies. Even though worldwide oil production has clearly peaked, the oil industry PR whores and government agencies continue to project substantial production growth in the future. The mainstream media trots out Daniel Yergin whenever it wants to calm the masses, despite his track record of being 100% wrong 100% of the time. The brilliance of his July, 2005 Op-Ed shines through:

“Prices around $60 a barrel, driven by high demand growth, are fueling the fear of imminent shortage — that the world is going to begin running out of oil in five or 10 years. This shortage, it is argued, will be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from two giants: China and India. There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day — from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day — a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand.”

Oil production capacity has not grown by one barrel since Yergin wrote this propaganda piece. This is despite the fact that prices have almost doubled, which should have spurred production. The current energy independence false storyline – the Bakken Formation – has gone from production of 10,000 barrels per day in 2003 to 400,000 barrels per day now, while the hundreds of millions invested in developing the Canadian tar sands have increased production by 50% since 2005. Despite these substantial increases in output, worldwide production has remained flat as existing wells deplete at the same rate that new production is brought online.


The facts are there is approximately 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil left in the crust of the earth. We currently suck 32 billion barrels per year out of the earth. This means we have 44 years of oil left, at current consumption levels. But we know demand is growing from the developing world. Taking this fact into consideration, we have between 35 and 40 years worth of recoverable oil left on the planet. That is not a long time. Additionally, the last 1.4 trillion barrels will much more difficult and costly to extract than the first 1.4 trillion barrels. The remaining oil is miles under the ocean floor, trapped in shale and tar sands, and in the arctic. Despite these hard facts, governmental agencies and politicians continue to paint a rosy picture about our energy future. I watched in stunned amazement last week as five bozos on the McLaughlin Group news program unanimously proclaimed the U.S. would become a net exporter of oil in the coming decade. Do these supposedly intelligent people not understand the basic economics of supply, demand and price?  

It seems the governmental organizations always paint the future in the most optimistic terms, despite all facts pointing to a contrary outcome. The EIA predicts with a straight face that oil production will rise to 110 million barrels per day, while the price of a barrel of oil remains in the current $100 to $125 per barrel range. Non-OPEC production has been in decline since 2004, but the EIA miraculously predicts a 15% increase in production over the next 25 years. OPEC production has been flat since 2005, but the EIA is confident their 50 year old oil fields will ramp up production by 25% in the next 25 years. Does the EIA consider whether OPEC even wants to increase production? It would appear that constrained supply and higher prices would be quite beneficial to the OPEC countries. And then of course there is the unconventional oil that is supposed to increase from 4 million barrels per day to 13 million barrels per day, a mere 325% increase with no upward impact on prices. These guys would make a BLS government drone blush with the utter ridiculousness of their predictions.


The picture below is an excellent representation of how the easy to access oil and gas of the earth have been tapped. They were close to the surface. The remaining oil and gas is deeper and trapped within shale and sand. The new technology for extracting gas from shale has concerns regarding whether fracking and disposal of waste water can be done safely, especially near highly populated areas. The relationship between fracking and earthquakes could also prove to be problematic. The wells also have rapid decline rates. Add a mile of ocean to the picture below and you have some really expensive to access oil and potential for disaster, as witnessed with the Deep Water Horizon.


The EIA projects natural gas supply to grow by 10% between now and 2035 due to a 300% increase in shale gas supply. It seems the EIA believes the fantasy of 8 Saudi Arabia’s in the Bakken formation of North Dakota and decades of gas within the Marcellus Shale. These fantasies have been peddled by the natural gas industry in order to get support for their fracking efforts. This false storyline is damaging to the long-term planning that should be taking place now to alleviate the energy scarcity that is our future. In 2006 the EIA reported the possibility of 500 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken formation, based on guesswork. The U.S. Geological Survey has since scaled this back ever so slightly to 3.65 billion barrels, which is six months of U.S. consumption. The deceptions peddled regarding Marcellus shale are also colliding with reality. The U.S. Geological Survey recently produced an estimate of Marcellus Shale resources, which will cause the EIA to reduce its estimate of shale gas reserves for the Marcellus Shale by 80%. The price of natural gas is currently $3.54 MMBtu, down from $13 a few years ago. Extracting natural gas from shale has high capital costs of land, drilling and completion. It is not economically feasible below $6 MMBtu.


Based on the known facts and a realistic view of the future, there will be less supply of oil and natural gas as time goes on. We can already see the impact of these facts today. Even though Europe and the U.S. are in recession, the price of oil continues to rise. The developing world continues to demand more oil and the supply is stagnant. Stunts like withdrawing oil from the Strategic Reserve are foolish and politically motivated. Is the world then running out of oil then? No, but any increase in future global oil production will be modestly incremental and production could be thrown off course by any number of possible events, from an Israeli attack on Iran to (another, but successful this time) al Qaida attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil refinery. Any forecast regarding future oil production and prices isn’t worth the paper it is written on unless consideration to wars, revolutions and terrorism are factored into the equation.

We Don’t Matter

Americans like to think we are the center of the universe. Those who propagate the misinformation about U.S. energy independence are clearly math challenged. The total proven oil reserves in the world total 1.4 trillion barrels and the United States has 22 billion barrels of that total, or 1.6% of the world’s oil. The U.S. burns 7 billion barrels per year, so we have enough oil to survive for three whole years. The U.S. consumes 22% of the world’s oil despite having 4.5% of the world’s population and less than 2% of the world’s oil. Do these facts lead you to the conclusion the United States will be exporting oil in the near future?


When you hear the pundits breathtakingly describe our vast natural gas resources you would think we are the dominant player in this market. Not quite. The United States has 4% of the world’s natural gas reserves. Predictably we consume 22% of the world’s natural gas. Russia controls 25% of the world’s natural gas reserves, with the Middle East countries controlling 40% of the world’s reserves. The pundits can hype our “vast” supplies of natural gas, but the facts clearly reveal it is nothing but hype.


The U.S. is consuming less oil than it was in 2005. U.S. consumption is not the crucial factor in determining the price of oil today and our consumption will matter even less in the future. Emerging market countries, led by China and India, will be the driving force in oil demand in the coming decades. According to the IEA, “Non-OECD [emerging markets] account for 90% of population growth, 70% of the increase in economic output and 90% of energy demand growth over the period from 2010 to 2035.”


This demand is being driven by the growth in vehicles in emerging markets. The U.S. market has reached a saturation point, but China, India and the rest of the world are just beginning their love affairs with the automobile. The accumulation of facts regarding both supply and demand should even convince the most brainless CNBC talking head that the price of oil will continue to rise. The 2008 peak price of $145 per barrel will not hold. The tried and true American method of ignoring problems until they reach crisis proportions will bite us in the ass once again.


Slippery Road Ahead

The concept of EROI is incomprehensible to the peak oil deniers. When Larry Kudlow or one of the other drill, drill, drill morons proclaims the vast amount of oil in North Dakota shale and in Alberta, Canada tar sands, they completely ignore the concept of EROI. Some estimates conclude there are 5 trillion barrels of oil left in the earth. But, only 1.4 trillion barrels are considered recoverable. This is because the other 3.6 trillion barrels would require the expenditure of more energy to retrieve than they can deliver. Therefore, it is not practical to extract. When oil was originally discovered, it took on average one barrel of oil to find, extract, and process about 100 barrels of oil. That ratio has declined steadily over the last century to about three barrels gained for one barrel used up in the U.S. and about ten for one in Saudi Arabia.

The chart below clearly shows the sources of energy which have the highest energy return for energy invested. I don’t think I’ve heard Obama or the Republican candidates calling for a national investment in hydro-power even though it is hugely efficient. The dreams of the green energy crowd are shattered by the fact that biodiesel, ethanol and solar require as much energy to create as they produce. Tar sands and shale oil aren’t much more energy efficient. It’s too bad Obama and his minions hate dirty coal, because has the best return on energy invested among all the practical sources.   

 File:EROI - Ratio of Energy Returned on Energy Invested - USA.svg

Worse than the peak oil deniers are those who pretend that oil isn’t really that important to our society. They declare that technology will save the day, when in reality technology can’t function without oil. Without plentiful cheap oil our technologically driven civilization crashes. We are addicted to oil. Americans consume petroleum products at a rate of three-and-a-half gallons of oil and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each.  You might be interested in a partial list of products that require petroleum to be produced.

Solvents Diesel fuel Motor Oil Bearing Grease
Ink Floor Wax Ballpoint Pens Football Cleats
Upholstery Sweaters Boats Insecticides
Bicycle Tires Sports Car Bodies Nail Polish Fishing lures
Dresses Tires Golf Bags Perfumes
Cassettes Dishwasher parts Tool Boxes Shoe Polish
Motorcycle Helmet Caulking Petroleum Jelly Transparent Tape
CD Player Faucet Washers Antiseptics Clothesline
Curtains Food Preservatives Basketballs Soap
Vitamin Capsules Antihistamines Purses Shoes
Dashboards Cortisone Deodorant Footballs
Putty Dyes Panty Hose Refrigerant
Percolators Life Jackets Rubbing Alcohol Linings
Skis TV Cabinets Shag Rugs Electrician’s Tape
Tool Racks Car Battery Cases Epoxy Paint
Mops Slacks Insect Repellent Oil Filters
Umbrellas Yarn Fertilizers Hair Coloring
Roofing Toilet Seats Fishing Rods Lipstick
Denture Adhesive Linoleum Ice Cube Trays Synthetic Rubber
Speakers Plastic Wood Electric Blankets Glycerin
Tennis Rackets Rubber Cement Fishing Boots Dice
Nylon Rope Candles Trash Bags House Paint
Water Pipes Hand Lotion Roller Skates Surf Boards
Shampoo Wheels Paint Rollers Shower Curtains
Guitar Strings Luggage Aspirin Safety Glasses
Antifreeze Football Helmets Awnings Eyeglasses
Clothes Toothbrushes Ice Chests Footballs
Combs CD’s & DVD’s Paint Brushes Detergents
Vaporizers Balloons Sun Glasses Tents
Heart Valves Crayons Parachutes Telephones
Enamel Pillows Dishes Cameras
Anesthetics Artificial Turf Artificial limbs Bandages
Dentures Model Cars Folding Doors Hair Curlers
Cold cream Movie film Soft Contact lenses Drinking Cups
Fan Belts Car Enamel Shaving Cream Ammonia
Refrigerators Golf Balls Toothpaste Gasoline


The propaganda blared at the impressionable willfully ignorant American public has worked wonders. The vast majority of Americans have no clue they have entered a world of energy scarcity, a world where the average person is poorer and barely able to afford the basic necessities of life. This is borne out in the vehicles sales statistics reported every month. There have been 10.5 million passenger vehicles sold through the first 10 months of 2011. In addition to the fact they are “purchased” using 95% debt and financed over seven years, the vast majority are low mileage vehicles getting less than 20 mpg. Only 1.8 million small energy efficient vehicles have been sold versus 6.1 million SUVs, pickup trucks and large luxury automobiles. Americans have the freedom to buy any vehicle they choose. They also have the freedom to not think and ignore the facts about the certainty of higher prices at the pump. By choosing a 20 mpg vehicle over a 40 mpg vehicle, they’ve sealed their fate. How could the average soccer mom get by without a Yukon or Excursion to shuttle Biff and Buffy to their games? Have you ever tried to navigate a soccer field parking lot in a hybrid? The horror!

The American public has been lulled back into a sense of security as gas prices have receded from $4.00 a gallon back to $3.40 a gallon. This lull will be short lived. Oil prices have surged by 15% in the last two months, even as the world economy heads into recession. The link between high oil prices and economic growth are undeniable, even though the deceitful pundits on CNBC will tell you otherwise. Ten out of eleven recessions since World War II were associated with oil price spikes. Gail Tverberg sums up the dilemma of energy scarcity for the average American:

“High-priced oil tends to choke economies because high oil prices are associated with high food prices (because oil products are used in food growing and transport), and people’s salaries do not rise to offset this rise in food and oil prices. People have to eat and to commute to their jobs, so they cut back on other expenditures. This leads to recession. Recession leads to lower oil consumption, since people without jobs can’t buy very much of anything, oil products included. In some sense, the reduction in oil extraction is due to reduced demand, because citizens cannot afford the high-priced oil that is available.”

But don’t worry. The rising oil and food prices will only impact the 99% in the U.S. and the poorest dregs across the globe that spend 70% of their income on food. The 1% will be just fine as they will bet on higher oil prices, therefore further enriching themselves while the peasants starve. The market for caviar, champagne, NYC penthouses, and summer mansions in the Hamptons will remain robust.

There is no escape from the ravages of higher priced oil. There is plenty of oil left in the ground. But, the remaining oil is difficult, slow and expensive to extract. Oil prices will rise because they have to. Without higher prices, who would make the huge capital investment required to extract the remaining oil? Once oil prices reach the $120 to $150 per barrel range our economy chokes and heads into recession. We are trapped in an endless feedback loop of doom. The false storyline of renewable energy saving the day is put to rest by Gail Tverberg:

“Renewables such as wind, solar PV, cellulosic ethanol, and biogas could more accurately be called “fossil fuel extenders” because they cannot exist apart from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are required to make wind turbines and other devices, to transport the equipment, to make needed repairs, and to maintain the transport and electrical systems used by these fuels (such as maintaining transmission lines, running-back up power plants, and paving roads). If we lose fossil fuels, we can expect to lose the use of renewables, with a few exceptions, such as trees cut down locally, and burned for heat, and solar thermal used to heat hot water in containers on roofs.”

Predictably, the politicians and intellectual elite do the exact opposite of what needs to be done. We need to prepare our society to become more local. Without cheap plentiful oil our transportation system breaks down. Our 3.9 million miles of road networks will become a monument to stupidity as Obama and Congress want to spend hundreds of billions on road infrastructure that will slowly become obsolete. The crumbling infrastructure is already the result of government failure, as the money that should have been spent maintaining our roads, bridges and water systems was spent on train museums, turtle crossings, teaching South African men how to wash their genitalia, studies on the mating habits of ferrets, and thousands of other worthless Keynesian pork programs. If our society acted in a far sighted manner, we would be creating communities that could sustain themselves with local produce, local merchants, bike paths, walkable destinations, local light rail commuting, and local energy sources. The most logical energy source for the U.S. in an oil scarce scenario is electricity, since we have a substantial supply of coal and natural gas for the foreseeable future and the ability to build small nuclear power plants. The Fukushima disaster is likely to kill nuclear as an option until it is too late. The electrical grid should be the number one priority of our leaders, as it would be our only hope in an oil scarce world. Instead, our leaders will plow borrowed money into ethanol, solar, and shale oil drilling, guaranteeing a disastrous scenario for our country.

The United States is a country built upon the four C’s: Crude, Cars, Credit, and Consumption. They are intertwined and can’t exist without crude as the crucial ingredient. As the amount of crude available declines and the price rises, the other three C’s will breakdown. Our warped consumer driven economy collapses without the input of cheap plentiful oil. Those at the top levels of government realize this fact. It is not a coincidence that the War on Terror is the current cover story to keep our troops in the Middle East. It is not a coincidence the uncooperative rulers (Hussein, Gaddafi) of the countries with the 5th and 9th largest oil reserves on the planet have been dispatched. It is not a coincidence the saber rattling grows louder regarding the Iranian regime, as they sit atop 155 billion barrels of oil, the 4th largest reserves in the world. It should also be noted the troops leaving Iraq immediately began occupying Kuwait, owner of the 6th largest oil reserves on the planet. Oil under the South China Sea and in the arctic is being hotly pursued by the major world players. China and Russia are supporting Iran in their showdown with Israel and the U.S. As the world depletes the remaining oil, conflict and war are inevitable. The term Energy Independence will carry a different meaning than the one spouted by mindless politicians as the oil runs low.

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention

Nothing but Flowers – The Talking Heads 


    1. “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.” — attributed to Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai

      “The United States has compensated for its production decline by importing oil. The planet does not have that option.” — Russell A. Brown, Argonne National Laboratory

      “The Senate is now considering increasing government subsidies for corn growers to produce more ethanol. If we produce enough ethanol we can postpone our next invasion of a Middle Eastern country for two to three years.” — Jay Leno

  1. How many times does this article have to be written before people ‘get it?’ The children over at Zero Hedge are a case study in denial today. The oil wars started in 2003, continued through Libya and appear to be heading to Iran (overtly, I think the war’s already going there covertly.) Life at the peak sure has been nice. I’m only sorry I’m not 10 years older, since this preparation for life from now on – solar and hydro power installations, gardening, etc., is a lot of work!

  2. Super article, Admin. Once again you have proven to be the Chief of de Charts and the best at dragging the databases into full view than anyone else I know.

    The Emir nailed it. I do a daily walk of a couple of miles around our little (320 homes) 55+ community and count the number of SUVs and full sized pickups (we’re big on towing boats around here) and come up with 260+. Some driveways have an SUV (or large iron equivalent) on one side and a big honking 4X4 pickup on the other.

    This is a community of the lucky ones that will be dying off before the Emirs’ Great Grandson has to fall back to the camel ride standard of living.

    I suspect that there will be many communities just like mine here in Florida that will eventually be populated by broken windows, mice, rats and squirrels and song birds as the various systems break down and life support systems fail and there are a lot of old Silents that are too old and tired to go the “survivor” route. All the Greatest will be long gone and the boomers will be still be in “running in circles, scream and shout” mode.

    Just depends on how long it takes before the disillusion in complete. Before that happens, our hugely involuntary investment in the military will be used wherever and whenever required to attempt to maintain the sinking ship of state and all the dependent row boats and swimmers that surround it.

    I started losing faith in the mid-70’s and early 80’s as it was obvious even back then that we, as a nation, were on the skids. It’s taken longer to complete the pratfall I anticipated back then to happen but I haven’t changed my mind as to the eventual destination.

    Great piece, Admin..


  3. The Earth called. Said they are running out of many resources, not just oil.

    The earth can not support 7 billion people ….. and growing. Non-renewable resources — most elements on the Periodic Chart — will eventually be depleted. Pretty much a fact beyond dispute. The only question is “when?”. I believe that time is fast approaching.

    I’m glad I’m an older fucker. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be pushing daisies before TSHTF.

  4. Today, U.S. power plants produce about 1 million megawatts for the electrical grid. By 2030, we will need to ADD about 350,000 megawatts to the grid just to keep up with the growing demand for electricity.

    In today’s Mad Hatter society led by the EPA and radical environmentalists, these fools are even blocking their own favored “green energy” power projects such as solar and wind farms with shit like “a solar farm in the Mojave Desert will endanger a dwindling desert tortoise population.” Mention nuclear and hydro power proposals, and they damn near have a heart attack. But in the meantime, they support taking coal-fired power plants OFF the grid and have succeeded in doing so in at least one case in Nevada.

    Once rolling brownouts and blackouts start to hit the entire nation as they did in California in 2000 and 2001, it will be too late. If your mother or grandmother dies of a heat stroke in the middle of a heat wave, as happenened tens of thousands of times during the last European heat wave, get ready for long waiting lines at the funeral parlors.

  5. “My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called “Max”.

    To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time. When the world was powered by the black fuel. And the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped.

    Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Max. The warrior Max.

    In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again…hope survives.”

  6. The earth, without the use of fossil fuels, can probably support 2-3 billion people. Case in point: Hubberts THIRD prophesy:

    In 1956 Hubbert predicted the US oil peak would be sometime between 1969 and 1971. For this he was ridiculed and laughed off the face of the earth (almost). Turned out the US oil peak was in 1970. This is something the drill-baby-drill, it’s all the environmentalists’ fault, ditto heads don’t know anything about.

    Next in 1974 Hubbert predicted the world oil peak to happen about 1998. However he DID say that if OPEC were to restrict the supply, then the peak would be delayed by 10-15 years which would put it at 2008-2013, or exactly right. Here is what Hubbert’s prediction (to scale by MBPD) looks like overlayed onto a reasonably close estimate of the actual global oil peak which started in 2005 and has continued as a plateau up to now.

    Hubbert said, “The third curve (on the left) is simply the mathematical curve for exponential growth. No physical quantity can follow this curve for more than a brief period of time. However, a sum of money, being of a nonphysical nature and growing according to the rules of compound interest at a fixed interest rate, can follow that curve indefinitely…Our principle constraints are cultural…we have evolved a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth…it behooves us…to begin a serious examination of the…cultural adjustments necessary…before unmanageable crises arise…”

    Ok, anyone see any cultural crisis happening? Yeah, what about a worldwide uprising of the 99% against the 1%? What does this have to do with Hubbert’s Third Prophecy? EVERYTHING!

    Debt can continue to increase indefinitely, while oil can’t. And since our entire money system is based on debt with interest attached there is no way to escape it. All money is debt because we have allowed banks and the fed to create all our money through interest-bearing loans by using the fractional reserve system. The details are unimportant, the main point is that our money supply is created by interest-bearing loans of banks and the fed. Therefore, the economy must always grow in order to pay back the interest. When the economy can’t grow anymore…collapse.

    Debt has continued to grow because we don’t have a real economy anymore, we have a fictitious funny-money phantom economy of mostly financial speculation.

    As we all know, we had a stock market crash, a housing crash, an oil price spike and crash, and an employment crash. Because we don’t have a real economy any more we have papered over these problems by creating more debt. The taxpayers bailed out the criminal fraudsters on Wall St., taking on more government debt, and the fed bailed out many bankrupt banks internationally ($12 Trillion), indenturing the taxpayers for future debt.

    Since debt represents ultimately a claim on real assets, debt cannot continue forever if growth of the real resource based economy has stopped. This is Hubbert’s Third Prophecy: When economic growth cannot continue due to the lack of affordable oil, then we will have a cultural crisis. Well here we are folks. The solution of the powers that be? Create more funny money through the fed’s “quantitative easing program”. The solution of the Keynesian economists? Take on more government debt through interest bearing loans by selling Treasury bonds to the fed, China, and other parties (stimulus). The solution of the right-wing “deficit hawks”? Cut government (social) spending to the bone to “cut the deficit” which they created through monstrous military spending, and tax cuts to themselves. Guess what. None of these are going to work. The solution is structural in the monetary system itself. When all money is debt, there is always interest to pay and growth is required.

    Hubbert didn’t mention one other notable feature of a debt-money system. It systematically pumps wealth from the bottom 80% of the population in wealth to the top 20%. The bottom 80% pay interest while the top 20% collects it, and of course most of the interest is collected by the top 10%. When all money is debt, that’s a lot of money going to the top. The Occupy Wall Street people aren’t stupid. They know the game is rigged.

  7. Since I realized our dire energy crisis, I have gone off the deep end. How could we be so stupid? Everything changes when you realize our kids have a shit future. My job super sucks because I work for a corporation and I hate corporations now. I realize they are at the center of our problems. I watched a video on Monsanto the other day, nearly puked. Watched Pelosi last night and again nearly puked. I want so bad to walk away from the empire, like Guy McPherson has done. It takes huge balls, and an understanding wife. This was a great article. Maybe you could focus on an article on how we should cope with a life that now seems like a life not worth living. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal, but live has changed since I started living life with my eyes wide open. My daughter graduates this year with a psychology degree. I told her to get her masters on helping people cope in a society in the power down phase. Should be plenty of jobs there. Have to work for free though. Shit! Guess I’ll keep that extra bedroom open. Oh wait, this just in, two Italian scientists figure out how to mix nickle and hydrogen to create energy. They want more money and won’t tell anybody how they do it. I tried so hard to believe this. Turns out they are a couple of quacks. I was an optimist there for a second.

  8. Hydroelectic power is a non-starter. All of the major dams (Grand Coulee, Hoover, etc) which can be built have been built. Solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass power projects are farts in a hurricane and will remain so for decades, plus solar needs a backup plant when it gets dark, and a wind turbine turns only 25-40% of the time in the best of circumstances. Coal plants are now under attack from even the judicial system, which upheld rules that allow coal-fired plants held liable for cross-state pollution (are you shitting me). Oil-fired plants are few in number (thank God), but I point out that one of the largest in the nation sits on the coast of environmentally-conscious Maine. Natural gas is probably the wave of the future, but it produces 60% of the so-called greenhouse gases that a coal plant produces.

    Which leaves us with nuclear (and yes, there’s a plentiful global supply of uranium, with the biggest and best deposits in Australia and Canada). If the U.S. builds 200 third-generation-plus double-reactor plants in the next decade, we’re covered through mid-century and perhaps beyond. Most of these reactor buildings can be located on EXISTING nucleat power plant sites. And the latest reactors are 20 times safer than the 1960s and 1970s models, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I just hope we’re not fucked by Fukushima.

    Nuclear power would enable our country to send more and more natural gas to the transportation sector to power various fleets of trucks, cars and buses. And reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And if push comes to shove, I have determined what gets first crack at a dwindling supply of gasoline. It’s called a tractor.

    This energy problem is so simple that even an ex-CIA officer can solve it.

  9. Dave Darby

    Unlike Admin, I will be a smartass. The U.S. has been experimenting with thorium as a source for power since the 1950s. Pffft. Nothing. India has given thorium its best shot and come up with one, just one, operable thorium power plant that produces a whopping 62 megawatts at an enormous capital expense to build the fucker. Let me use a phrase I used above. In the world of power production, 62 megawatts is a fart in a hurricane.

  10. SSS

    Your solution is brilliant and has less than a 0% chance of being even discussed. Fukushima has set back nuclear power by a decade and possibly permanently. The future is now certain.


  11. Hey, we still have 30-40 years to drive SUV’s. That’s all people drive anymore, and huge pick-ups. We need to ration what oil is left, make it last until something else can be found (Although there is nothing that can be used to make all those products listed). In Europe, gas is like $6 a gallon (liter equiv.). Gas should be more expensive here, so we use less. People drive SUV’s because they’re too fat to fit into compact cars. Their cars have to fit their size. I see people so fat they can barely fit into their SUV’s. Many have scooter carriers on the back of their SUV, because they are too fat to walk anymore. Good luck getting these “consumers”, in every sense of the word, to downscale. We’re doomed, especially in the U.S.

  12. I Love the good ole USA but to be honest most of the world pays alot more for their fuel. Maybe it is time we paid more. I know I will get blasted for this. Take a look at most consuming countries and they pay 6 to 12.00 per gallon. There is going ot be a time when we too will be paying this. I am an ole fart but you cannot keep comsuming a finite resource and expect it to remain at the cheap prices we are paying. Hmm maybe the kids will have to ride a bicycle like most of us old folks did. Today everyone drives when they could be riding. Goodness gracioous it will be awful not having your own car to drive at the age of 16!

    Nothing is going to change and when the time come to pay the piper alot are going to die as the world cannot support the current population without oil. PERIOD.

  13. I love the way you lay it out in simple terms.

    My hub counters with Yergin. pfft.

    @GT, with all due respect, get the freak out of here.

    Gas is so high because the European governments tax the shit out of it. Yet they are still on the edge of financial Armageddon.

    We need to starve our government monster, not feed the freaking thing. What would another drastic shrinking of our middle class, and another drastic explosion of growth for the government, solve?

    NOTHING. Just kick us while we are down.

    When you couple the big energy lie, with the free fiat lie, I cannot see how one cannot SEE the writing on the wall.

    The cliff(s) are coming.

  14. “People drive SUV’s because they’re too fat to fit into compact cars. Their cars have to fit their size. I see people so fat they can barely fit into their SUV’s. Many have scooter carriers on the back of their SUV, because they are too fat to walk anymore.”

    Goddamn, AWD, only you could find an angle to squeeze “fat people” into a discussion about energy. I gotta admit that I got a good chuckle when I read your comments. Very creative.

    Tell you what. I’m gonna give you a heads up on an article I’m thinking of writing for TBP. It’s about forest fires (I’m not kidding). This will give you a good head start on thinking about a fat people connection to forest fires.

  15. The Millenials (and we all) certainly have a dire struggle ahead of them. How the hell do you prepare a child for this future? It’s like all awakened parents must become Sarah Connor, mother of Jon Connor, who must be raised and groomed to fight the Terminators.

    The children today must learn what? Gardening, home energy production, small scale military strategy to protect their community, hunting, scavenging. personal defense, history….

    What a task…

  16. SSS – I understand that some good work has been done recently on harnessing wave/tidal power. That could be a big help if it were to pan out. Waves work 24/7.

  17. KaD

    Are you stupid or do you just talk that way? That gibberish you posted on interest and debt and U.S. peak oil and Hubbert’s Third Prophesy made absolutely no sense. And it doesn’t have a fucking thing to do with the energy pickle this country is facing.

    And then there’s this from your whacko comments: “This is something the drill-baby-drill, it’s all the environmentalists’ fault, ditto heads don’t know anything about.”

    Consider me a ditto head. I fucking hate the EPA and the Sierra Club and everything they stand for and are doing. Same goes for every other major environmental group. All of them. All of those pricks are nihilists who want to pass on a totally destroyed society to our children and grandchildren.

    Ok, you twit, provide ANY wisdom on how the EPA, the environmental groups, and their fellow travelers in Congress have HELPED our nation in building a baseline (24/7, 365) energy program.
    We’re all waiting.

  18. India, which has about 25% of the world’s thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, after which five more reactors will be constructed.[31] Considered to be a global leader in thorium-based fuel, India’s new thorium reactor is a fast-breeder reactor and uses a plutonium core rather than an accelerator to produce neutrons. As accelerator-based systems can operate at sub-criticality they could be developed too, but that would require more research.[32] India currently envisages meeting 30% of its electricity demand through thorium-based reactors by 2050.[33] –

    They dont seem to have abandoned thorium based fuel as yet.

  19. Thorium is interesting. But it doesn’t produce Plutonium for weapons, the way Uranium-based technology can. For that reason, the nuclear establishment threw Thorium technology under the bus long ago.

    I wouldn’t place much weight on India’s efforts. I deal with Indian technology on a daily basis. The quality of its tech. matches the quality of Indian PhD dissertations that regularly cross my desk: woefully bad when not plainly fraudulent.

    The nuclear establishment doesn’t care about energy. It cares about weapons. Otherwise it would put serious research effort into Thorium. That’s the (poker) tell.

    Ignore what the elite political/corporate/psychopathic class SAYS. Follow what it DOES and what it FINANCES. Pay close attention to what doesn’t get done and what doesn’t get financed.

  20. A great summary of the desperate situation we are in. US oil production peaked around 1970 – as predicted by Hubbert. Since that time, the US is importing more and more crude oil in order to compensate for the declining national oil production. What very few realize is that we did not pay for these oil imports. Our payment was in paper Dollars which are at best claim checks on future US economic growth. The claim checks are being held abroad by various creditors some of which are getting nervous as they begin to realize that these Dollars may be worthless. We have an energy crisis and, at the same time, a currency crisis. These two are intimately related and can not be solved separately. The only chance to solve any of these problems is to solve them simultaneously.
    Is that ever going to happen? Or are we destined to live through times of chaos and war?

  21. As a middle aged guy with a physics degree, I’d say Thorium could delay the imminent decline of industrial civilization…if we’d started working on it 30 years ago. Jevon’s paradox always wins in the end. Humans are biologically wired to be incapable of planning ahead and restraining growth voluntarily. Easter island is a place we will visit many times, and still never remember the lesson.

  22. Centerfield-That intro is a personal favorite of mine, and quite appropriate in this context. But I believe the last line of paragraph 3 is misquoted. Not “The warrior Max”, but “No warrior Max”, IIRC.

  23. SSS says “Consider me a ditto head. I fucking hate the EPA and the Sierra Club and everything they stand for and are doing. Same goes for every other major environmental group. All of them. All of those pricks are nihilists who want to pass on a totally destroyed society to our children and grandchildren.”

    +1. The most generous thing I can say about the EPA is that it might have been established with good intentions. In practice, it is a destructive behemoth set on increasing its own power and importance (like most gov’t institutions). As my mining friends like to say, “Let them starve and freeze in the dark”.

  24. Geeze Kill Bill. You gave me a boner with all that heavy water fast-breeder plutonium core accelerator talk. I had to wiki some of that stuff to unscramble some of the old nuclear engineering neurons I had programmed 30 years ago. I researched thorium a bit and put it right above cold fusion using nickle and hydrogen. Its nothing to hang our hopes on. Remember, its a liquid fuels problem anyway.

  25. Kill Bill said, per cut-and-paste from Wikipedia, “India, which has about 25% of the world’s thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, after which five more reactors will be constructed. India currently envisages meeting 30% of its electricity demand through thorium-based reactors by 2050.”

    Even if all that were true, 300 megawatts is a piss ant power plant. There’s a coal-fired plant on the Navajo reservation east of Page, Arizona that cranks out 2,200 megawatts of power sent to over 2,000,000 (!!!!) customers from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Uses a high grade, low-sulphur coal from a nearby mine that has a 200-year supply left.

    India has over a billion people. If it expects to meet 30% of its electricity demands through Thorium by the year 2050, it will need to build over 1,300 300-MW thorium plants by that time. And that assumes NO population growth in India for 40 years. Ain’t gonna happen.

  26. Let me be clear – when it comes down to the option of turning out the lights or burning coal, we are going to burn coal. Fuck global warming and the icecaps (not that I believe that stuff anyway) – we will burn the coal and anything else we can get our hands on when push comes to shove. Environmentalists will make nice charcoal at that point.

  27. “They (India) dont seem to have abandoned thorium based fuel as yet.” —- Kill Bill

    They also haven’t abandoned burning cow shit in their stone ovens to bake bread.

    So what’s your point?

  28. Very thought provoking and well researched article. When it comes to declining natural resources and the growing population……….Crap Vikings – Packers is on, Nevermind.

  29. Imaginer is ……………

    another dickhead who hasn’t read a single fucking comment and posts a useless bullshit link to a War and Peace doctoral thesis on thorium.

  30. Petey

    Soylent Green is totally avoidable for the U.S. Totally. But the environmental lobby is dragging the country in that direction. And it’s winning.

  31. Funny,they can tell how much oil is left?otherwise i preety much agree with you.
    I would like to think if oil well last twenty five years that humans can create new forms of energy.
    Either that or through civil war or some other disaster, oil well be the least of my problems.

  32. Sumo said, “The nuclear establishment doesn’t care about energy. It cares about weapons. Otherwise it would put serious research effort into Thorium.”

    You need to take off some weight and do more wrestling, sumo. Your fat ass is suffocating any oxygen supply to your brain. Have you heard the Cold War is over? I can tell you for a fact that the nuclear weapons establishment started looking for other uses for its brain power and technology almost immediately after the Iron Curtain fell.

    I took a tdy to Sandia National Lab in 1991. A totally top secret venue. The scientists there were seeking any and all avenues and suggestions to redirect their technological skills post Cold War. It was a stunning display of U.S. scientists ready to provide their ideas and dedicate their skills to more peaceful uses.

  33. Admin

    Thanks for the article. One of your best. Despite its critical importance and message, it will receive few comments.

    Unlike your creative articles about Ron Paul and The Old Man and the Sea, when you can wax prolific about a true patriot’s stand against the destructive political machine and receive hundreds of comments, energy policy is a tough nut to grab anyone’s attention. Pity. Our nation will pay dearly for its inattention. The “Thelma and Louise” photo you posted is spot on.

  34. SSS said:

    “The scientists there were seeking any and all avenues and suggestions to redirect their technological skills post Cold War. It was a stunning display of U.S. scientists ready to provide their ideas and dedicate their skills to more peaceful uses.”

    Please get a clue. Scientists can seek all they like. It’s a sparrow’s fart in a hurricane without funding and political approval.

    Scientists do research, they don’t fund it. Scientists do what they are told if they want to get funding and keep being funded. They are so easy to control.

    It’s all about the money. The big money is for weapons, not energy.

  35. SSS, I know. I’m in the nuclear camp like you. The environmentalists are trying to prevent TVA’s Watts Bar 2 from going on line. Apparently many Americans have a death wish and a desire to live in the dark ages.

  36. By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times

    November 15, 2011
    Retail gasoline prices remained at record high levels for this time of year, but at least the oil rally finally cooled Monday, ending six straight weeks of gains for the commodity.

    Any slowdown in crude oil inflation is welcome news to American consumers, who are poised to pay a record $489.7 billion on gasoline this year by the calculation of Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. That’s more than $100 billion above what they paid in 2010.

    U.S. drivers were paying an average $3.436 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of service stations. The U.S. average is up 1.2 cents from a week earlier and 54.4 cents from a year earlier. The old record for this time of year was $3.111 a gallon, set in 2007.

    In California, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.84, down 1.5 cents from a week earlier but up 66.5 cents from this time last year. The old high mark for this week, $3.395 a gallon, also was set in 2007.

    Gasoline prices remain high in part because some of the nation’s refiners are making more diesel and heating oil at this time of year and exporting record amounts of diesel overseas, where they can make more profit.

    Kloza said demand for gasoline in the U.S. is so low that some refiners who aren’t selling overseas are shutting down production.

    “On the eastern half of the country, we’ve already seen ConocoPhillips shut down a refinery and Sunoco may be ready to shut down another,” Kloza said. “This is also going to set the stage for a big rally in gasoline prices in the spring of 2012.”

    High gasoline and diesel prices helped drive the results of a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll, conducted for the Small Business Majority advocacy group, that showed 80% of small-business owners in California were in favor of tougher fuel-efficiency standards.

    “Stronger fuel-efficiency standards would help decrease costs associated with transport, which would boost our bottom line,” Zachary Davis, owner of the Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz, said in the group’s statement, released Monday. “That’s money we could put back into running and growing our business.”

    In futures trading, oil ended its longest rally in more than two years as concerns over the European debt crisis outweighed the fact that Japan posted its first economic growth since its disastrous earthquake and tsunami in March.

    Analysts said the rally was driven by increased demand in emerging economies and because North Africa’s biggest oil producer, Libya, remains largely offline since its recently ended civil war.

    Crude oil for December delivery dropped 85 cents to $98.14 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday. Brent oil was down $2.27 to $111.89 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Exchange.

    Oil prices had rallied strongly — up more than 30% — since early October, when the commodity fell to its 2011 low of $74.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That was the same time that the European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude, fell below $100 a barrel.

  37. “We are at the highest fuel prices ever for this time of year, even though they have dropped a bit in recent weeks,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. “I think we will see prices in 2012 that will break … records.”

    Kloza said Americans are on pace to spend a record $489.7 billion on gasoline in 2011, which is $100 billion more than they did in 2010. The only year that came close was 2008, when U.S. motorists spent about $448 billion on gasoline; that year, the U.S. average peaked at $4.114, but prices quickly declined from those summer highs.

    Fuel-price specialist Bob van der Valk said that oil prices, which have been creeping back toward $100 a barrel, eventually will boost gasoline costs.

    Yesterday, West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose above $96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its highest finish since late July.

    West Texas Intermediate crude “will be in the $110-a-barrel range next year,” said Van der Valk, an independent fuel consultant.

    “We started high on gasoline prices this year and we stayed high, and we are going to go higher next year,” Van der Valk said. “We could be as high as $4.50 a gallon in California by Easter. The rest of the country will be above $4 a gallon by then.”

    The main reason for the stubbornly high prices is growing demand in Latin and South America, which is driving record U.S. exports of fuel to those parts of the world, particularly in the form of diesel.

  38. Hey Admin, I sent you an email over at SA because I can’t seem to find one from here.

    I’ll let you know if it happens again.

  39. SSS: In case you didn’t have time to notice before shooting your dumb mouth off I didn’t write the article; that’s why there’s a link underneath.

    I have neither the inclination nor the patience to educate you on important matters for which the information is readily available for you to educate yourself if you’d just look.

    I don’t personally care what you or anyone else on this site thinks; I have neither the time nor inclination to please everyone all the time either. You can think grass is pink or the moon is green cheese; I really couldn’t care less.

    I speak as much truth as I can, if you or anyone else doesn’t like it or understand it-not my problem.

  40. There is already a Diesel fuel shortage were I live dam hard to get, have to get it
    from the Koch brothers. I believe the Locomotive is the most efficient means of
    transportation,There are two types of Engines today that develop the same torque
    at one rpm Or at a thousand rpm, Steam and Electric, Both invented over a hundred
    years ago. Steam power cars are not practical but direct current electric cars are
    very practical. The problem with electric cars is you can’t have one. They require very
    little maintenance .No gas. Not many parts to produce it, they don’t wear out, hard to tax.
    No commerce.

    GM produced an electric car called the LV-1 [Who killed the electric car] made it
    a little too good; there is battery technology to go eighty miles an hour For eight hours.
    That battery is patented, is not available. Electricity runs everything Why not my car.?
    Change is hard; In the future this technology will come available, to bad Mad Max
    will be the only one using it

  41. KaD

    Well, excu-u-u-u-u-u-u-use me! Next time you post someone else’s article, why don’t you make that attribution up front? As in “Hey, I didn’t write this, but I think you’ll find it interesting.” Or just post the fucking link.

    And it’s still gibberish. At least now we know it isn’t your gibberish.

  42. Admin

    What did I tell you when I said above, “Thanks for the article. One of your best. Despite its critical importance and message, it will receive few comments.”

    This sucker is going down like a dying quail. Not sure how many hours you spent putting this article together for a well above-average informed audience, but I’m sure it was a lot.

    Energy is an extremely complicated and difficult subject to grasp. Wikipedia won’t hack it. You have to make a concerted effort to try and understand what’s going on. I’ve been trying, as you have, to make sense of all the variables, and I admit I’m still learning.

    I just wish MANY, MANY other visitors would weigh in with their thoughts. The fact they haven’t is not a good sign.

  43. Great article overall. I think SSS and some others are too negative on Thorium and solar; no, currently proven technology for either one doesn’t cut it, but progress is being made rapidly. Both of those have a chance of providing a relatively soft landing, which is about the best we can hope for. The global civilization of today is built on oil, which is rapidly becoming scarce relative to demand, and there is no available replacement. The consequences of peak oil will be groundshaking even if a quality fixed-source power supply becomes available (Thorium, fusion, solar, etc.), but will be absolutely devastating if we don’t come up with some kind of new energy source.

  44. The sad truth is that the gas prices need to be high – higher in fact than they are. Low prices = more consumption = quicker exhaustion of oil reserves. Time is in desperately short supply. The energy crunch is coming. Fuel conservation will not occur without cost incentive. It will be a bitch. Poor planning decades ago, and an unwillingness to face reality, will result in enormous pain quite soon.

  45. “I just wish MANY, MANY other visitors would weigh in with their thoughts. The fact they haven’t is not a good sign.” —- sss

    I disagree. I think it’s more of a function of Jim writing such a good article that it’s almost impossible to refute.

    Sure, some disagreements on thorium, solar, etc. Maybe I should post some Abiotic shit.

    Also, peak energy just isn’t an emotional subject. It’ll be emotional once gas costs $10 a gallon .. but for now, The Biggest Loser is on tv. That’s way more important.

  46. “Abiotic shit”

    Two words that go together when the first one is referring to oil.

    The people of the developed world in the 20th Century are like a trust-fund kid who hits 18 and blows his entire fortune on a weekend of hookers and blow.

  47. I remember back in high school a friend saying that before they’d moved to Texas, another friend had converted his motor cycle to run on water, Ford had paid him well for the patent, then hidden it. I was like, right, what bullshit. Then I started using electrolysis to remove rust from antique tools and learned you had to have good ventilation or risk blowing the roof off your garage! Basically you are using a battery charger to produce, come to find out, the same hydrogen and oxygen they use to get the bloody space shuttle into space! (or “used” I guess I should say…) More research and you find little hydrogen from water producers being patented almost 100 years ago…and stories about garages getting raided when the wrong people found out (a fair number of stories, not just a couple of the usual internet el-creapos out there) and guys that supplied kits getting shut down and now only supplying plans. Sure is a lot of water out there! And the exhaust is…water…or oxygen. I have no clue how you could run a whole power plant this way, but there sure are lots of cars…and some have already mass produced engines for hydrogen fuel cells…

  48. SSS, do you understand the concept of “prototype?” If there is substantial potential during trials of modifications to the design, why would you waste money on a larger operation?

  49. Snick said, “I think SSS and some others are too negative on Thorium and solar; no, currently proven technology for either one doesn’t cut it, but progress is being made rapidly.”

    I’m not negative on Thorium and solar, but I am realistic. I SUPPORT both Thorium and solar, but the cold, hard reality is that neither will produce, AT PRESENT, the massive amount of baseline power we will require in the near to mid term, ie. the next 20 years. We cannot afford to waste time hoping for a “breakthrough” on this or that technology.

    The biggest solar plant on earth is in California and produces 365 megawatts…………..part time. It’s backed up by a natural gas plant that picks up the slack when the sun sets. The solar arrays sit on over 6,000 acres. That’s nearly 10 fucking square miles of land.

    In contrast, our largest nuclear plant (a triple reactor) produces 3,900 megawatts, serves 4,000,000 customers, and operates 24/7, 365. If we built 100 of these puppies, we’re good to go for half a fucking century. We could actually take some of the older, dirtier coal plants offline and still be in the black for our power needs. And here’s a bonus: sell the excess coal to China, India, whomever………………………at a premium.

    Here’s the bottom line, Snick: for baseline power, you either have to burn something or go nuclear. That’s it. No other options. None.

  50. SSS – right you are as of today. I do believe that over time we will slowly convert to a range of sources – nuclear/hydro/coal/gas(maybe)/solar/wind/wave/ and coal. There is plenty of coal oat there. And I do not think we will ignore it when people are shivering in the dark. We have just touched the surface of renewables – but I do not think they can fully offset current sources and they are all subject to the forces of nature – which leads back to nuclear or fossil fuel energy to at least top the system up. I also can envision a HUGE drop-off in deamnd as prices skyrocket. SUVs and central heating will just not be affordable by average joe.

  51. Actually the best base load power by far is hydroelectric, but the US has exploited most of its useful hydro capacity already (as you pointed out earlier). There is some remaining potential, but not huge amounts.

    I agree that among well-proven technologies for large-scale base load generation, which can be increased in number for the US, uranium fission nuclear plants make the most sense. There are some issues here:
    -as a matter of practice it’s taking something like 10-15 years to get a new nuke plant operating from the early approval stage. A lot of this is bureaucratic hassle and NIMBY, but it’s not a good standard.
    -This reflects a focus on megascale centralized base load plants. That is certainly a proven approach, but it’s probably not the best one. There is a LOT of potential for more localized generation.
    -Proven approaches to uranium fission have a mediocre EROEI; at least it’s still positive, but it’s not great.
    -Whatever the technical merits of proven fission technology, good fucking luck getting any new ones approved and built after Fukushima. And we probably need to shut down a lot of the older ones for safety reasons.
    -Likewise, we need nuclear waste storage. Yucca Mountain would work perfectly and is about as good as you could ask for, but politically it’s dead. If you can’t get political approval to store waste deep underground in a mountain in a barren desert next door to a nuclear test range in a barren western state far from civilization, where exactly are we going to decide to store it?

    As for the California solar plant, a massive base-load centralized solar plant is about as dumb and economically inefficient as having gasoline generators for base load. It’s somewhere between the trilobite and the dinosaur of solar technology. The useful future of solar is with rooftop generation and net metering into the utility grid. There are breakthroughs being made in PVA cell efficiency and cost. Check out the link below.

  52. Zara asked, “SSS, do you understand the concept of prototype?”

    No, Zara, as a former Air Force pilot, I’m totally fucking clueless on what a prototype is. The Air Force only buys aircraft that go straight from the drawing board to fully operational and combat-ready. No trials. No test flights. Right straight to the battlefield. No exceptions. So please explain to me what this mysterious word means.

    Zara followed with, “If there is substantial potential during trials of modifications to the design, why would you waste money on a larger operation?”

    WTF are you talking about? Trials of what? Thorium reactors? What larger operation are we wasting money on here? Give me a break. I’m not a fucking mind reader.

  53. I will also make this prediction, as it obliquely has to do with energy. I predict that meat will radically reduce from western diets. Meat takes ten times more energy to produce than does grain per calorie produced. So it will become gruesomely expensive. World-wide demand for calories/protein will be enormous. Meat will be too expensive except for special occassions or for those who own farms I who will have the great temptation to sell the meat or to produce calories for sale. If there is sufficient world-wide food, them ethanol may replace meat for use as a fuel source.

    This is not a good-looking future for those accustomed to an endless foodbasket.

  54. When I copied and pasted something its not what I said nor does it mean I agree with what was ‘said’

    SSS wrote: Even if all that were true, 300 megawatts is a piss ant power plant.


    But its a safe natural energy source. I could say that gasoline engines are piss ant power plants but that doesnt stop them from being useful. Cars are pissant power producers but that didnt make them obsolete,

  55. “They (India) dont seem to have abandoned thorium based fuel as yet.” —- Kill Bill

    They also haven’t abandoned burning cow shit in their stone ovens to bake bread.

    So what’s your point? -Stucky

    That India is still building Thorium based energy plants and havent, from what I gather, given up on it. Period.

  56. Snick

    +10 on your last, thoughtful comment. Now, we’re talking. Just a short comment on your “focus on megascale centralized base load plants. That is certainly a proven approach, but it’s probably not the best one. There is a LOT of potential for more localized generation.”

    I’m with you on more localized generation of nuclear power, as is Admin, who mentioned it in his article. I just haven’t gotten comfortable with the security aspects of a proliferation of smaller nuclear power plants. But that’s just me.

  57. No, Zara, as a former Air Force pilot, I’m totally fucking clueless on what a prototype is -SSS

    Hmm. I have a feeling they wanted the clueless to test prototypes


  58. I see little wind generators on every house and roofs covered in solar panels. I see fields of wave generators esp. On the pacific seaboard. I see beds individually heated not entire houses. Air conditioning? Bwahahahahaha! Swamp coolers if anything. SUVs? Nope. Bicycles yes. Local food sources. No bottled water. Less transport by truck. Smaller homes better insulated. Huge pressure to plant drought resistent and low cultivation GM plants. Lots more chicken eaten (efficient to grow) and a lot less beef (highly inefficient). Falling birthrates as reality bites into the combined pysche.

    I see yards turned out to vegetable patches. Communal farms. Turmoil as the FSA realizes they must learn to fend. More nuclear plants.

    I see a return to the past with respect to peopel needing to be self-sufficient. But it will be quite a shock. Too bad. So sad. Life goes on.

  59. Kill Bill

    Your comments are well taken.

    As I stated above, I approve of whatever efforts are being made on Thorium power plants. I hope we or India or whoever can come up with a breakthough on this energy source.

    What I don’t approve of is hanging your hat on something that may or may not work out well. That’s not only not smart, it may prove fatal.

  60. llpoh,

    -This is not a good-looking future for those accustomed to an endless foodbasket.-

    That is precisely why I have not poisoned the gophers that live along side me, nor shot the cyotes that keep me awake with their yipping half the night.

    It also contributes to the reason I don’t have a wife. Ever tried to eat a woman more than she eats?

  61. What I don’t approve of is hanging your hat on something that may or may not work out well. That’s not only not smart, it may prove fatal -SSS

    If necessity is the mother of invention then surely failure is the father of invention.

  62. Since it doesn’t appear I have anything left to argue, let’s rehash Yucca Mountain. WTF?? Really, WTF?? As I said, if you can’t get political approval to store waste deep underground in a mountain in a barren desert next door to a nuclear test range in a barren western state far from civilization, where exactly are we going to decide to store it? I’ve been to the Nevada Test Site, next door to Yucca Mountain, and considering there’s about 900 radioactive craters there, and that the groundwater is 1000’s of feet down and moves at something like an inch per decade, that Vegas is more than an hour away and there are no other significant human settlements for a much greater distance in all other directions, I simply cannot imagine a better place within the US to store nuclear waste. But, because Congress is utterly dysfunctional and corrupt, Hairy-Balls Reid managed to prevent any actual use of Yucca Mountain, with absolutely no alternative existing. Last I knew they authorized the price of a happy meal to study other options, and report back in 10 years, or maybe it was 20. I think we should send a ton of waste home with each and every Congresscritter – and 5 tons for each committee chair or minority rep, and 20 tons for each Speaker – until all the high-level waste is safely stored in the homes of Congresscritters. Can I get an amen?

  63. No reorganization with bankruptcy. That’s the way humans work; whether it be individuals, families, companies, local government or Federal government – or as we can witness right now: the Eurozone.

    We won’t admit that we can not afford the home mortgage we agreed to until the day arrives that we have no money upon which to write a check! And at that point we still won’t admit the fact: we’ll blame it on the lender! This applies to most of what we do when we live in a fantasy world; we believe in selected fiction.

    In reality we will never runout of energy….. we will just runout of the money and then credit required to obtain it. On that day we will “reorganize,” whatever that requires. Until then, it would appear, we will not runout of hot air.

  64. Oil at $102.50 a barrel today, but don’t worry the government reported inflation declining because energy prices are falling.

    Got it?

  65. Not sure what Melvin was saying, but maybe this is along the same thinking.
    A barrel of oil contains over 20,000 man hours of work in it. At 10 dollars an hour, that makes the barrel worth 200,000 dollars, thats 4292 dollars per gallon. I guess we have a ways to go yet. The point being that eventually no one will buy it, and hence, never run out. I can’t believe we (the US) smoke 17 million barrels a day. That’s got to be bad for the earths lungs.

  66. majormocambo said, “I can’t believe we (the US) smoke 17 million barrels a day. That’s got to be bad for the earths lungs.”

    Look, I’m not on board with this global warming, carbon dioxide shit. I think the jury of climate and other scientists are still deliberating. Al Gore and his ilk made up their minds years ago. Guilty.

    But what I proposed above, moving sharply in the direction of nuclear energy, satisfies both sides of the equation, unless some anti-nuke critic is opposed to nuclear power plants emitting steam (water vapor) into the atmosphere. Under the best of circumstances, water vapor’s shelf life in the atmosphere is no longer than seven days. (In Arizona, it’s probably seven minutes.)

    Meanwhile, the Warmers claim that carbon dioxide molecules can last as long as 400-500 years!!! How in hell do they know that? Do the CO2 molecules in the upper atmosphere carry a birth certificate?

    At any rate, nuclear energy is the only CURRENTLY available baseline technology that should shut down the Global Warming Chicken Littles. No pollution, massive power source.

    But as Admin said with his Thelma and Louise photo, not a fucking chance will it ever get a fair hearing. Especially not with this dumbass society.

  67. @ majormocambo

    Forgot one point. I’m all for reducing our dependence on oil, foreign and domestic, in any way we can reasonably do so. The price of oil is headed in only one direction. Up.

  68. Why did the American gov’t subsidize nuclear in the first place? You know, if it were fully private, the bloody company would have had to buy the friggin mountain to put the waste under before the plant was ever built!!!! Now, you have to get agreement amongst a few million people for where to put it *sigh* and how come all the plants that exist in America, including the ones being built, were permitted no later than the 70’s??? If they’d simply allowed the scientists to do what scientists do, we’d have had fission a decade ago I’d bet. Nice and clean. Right up there with stem cell research…lovely to watch your child almost die from diabetes and know you will out-live him.

  69. The only thing I fear of nuclear energy is the stupidity of man. They make mistakes all the time. When you have all out nuclear energy plan, that increase the chances for mistakes, and you get the added increase of mistakes by adding massive amounts of corporation/government red tape and politics which increases the chances of stupidity creeping in. For example, who in their right mind put the backup generators in Japan at sea level. Nuclear energy scares me. If there is any hope on earth for a “hail mary” on energy, it has to be atomic, and it has to harness the energy released (binding energy) you get when you change an atoms configuration. The nuclear energy we produce now comes from a naturally occurring decay of an atom. We need to be able to force it on an atom without the bad nuclear radiation. The promise of nuclear fusion is doing exactly that, but getting the atom transformation going and sustaining it had proved to be difficult. The quacks over in Italy say they can mix nickle and hydrogen and a little heat and produce copper, with a huge amount of binding energy released in the process (more energy released than input). Some call this cold fusion, I don’t buy it. So we can only dream, and maybe nuclear energy in the short term will tide us over and buy us a bit more time. But like you say, no chance in hell that is going to happen, so we keep burning the coal. Eventually we are going to get to the point where all the mining, which relies on liquid fuels, is going to take a hit. Getting the minerals out of the ground is only getting harder. it doesn’t get any easier from here.

  70. majormocambo

    Quacks? Maybe. Haven’t followed that story. But I know about theories and experiments and the idea of replicability. Yes. When it happens — and when it doesn’t, quack!

    You may remember Edin Land’s initiat Retinex experiments, I think published in Scientific American in 1959. He got results, the scientists that dismissed him as ‘just a businessman’ didn’t. Quack. But decades later, some young turks said, how about this, and lo! replication, why golly gosh, Land was on the right idea.

  71. majormocambo

    Where to start?

    “The only thing I fear of nuclear energy is the stupidity of man.” Try researching the Westinghouse AP 1000 third-generation plus nuclear reactor. It removes a lot of the stupidity of man, specifically the Three Mile Island factor.

    “For example, who in their right mind put the backup generators in Japan at sea level.” Wrong. Japan moved the backup generators to higher ground NOT affected by the tsunami. The stupid engineers left the switching station (from primary to backup power) next to the reactor plants. It got flooded and failed. Surprise!!!!

    “Nuclear energy scares me.” Why? Doesn’t scare me in the least. It’s perfectly safe. Mushroom clouds from nuclear bombs scare me.

    “The quacks over in Italy say they can mix nickle and hydrogen and a little heat and produce copper, with a huge amount of binding energy released in the process (more energy released than input). Some call this cold fusion, I don’t buy it.” Neither do I. Cold fusion is a hoax.

    Take a walk on the wild side, Major. Research today’s nuclear power potential.

  72. SSS

    Ok, so they moved the generators and left the switches at sea level, same effect.
    I’m not dead set against nuclear power. I was a nuclear engineer through my junior year (switched to Electrical) and was in the Nuclear Navy. Again, man worries me. I have checked into the newest technology and I am impressed. It has always interested me.


    Edwin Lands retinex algorithm based on the same principle that the visual cortex uses to achieve color constancy is a bit different than creating energy. Its ironic because my masters thesis was simulating the calculations performed by the piriform cortex. No one wants a computer that smells though. In any case, there can and should be hope, and I think I’m hanging my hope on clean atomic energy. If you research Sergio Focardi and Andrea Rossi, you’ll find the stuff on nickle-hydrogen reactions. The reason I call them quacks is …. you decide.

  73. Good article, here are some grounded suggestions if you are worried about sudden oil shortage.

    1 – Copper disinfects and purifies water. used for thousands of years, suppressed in the last century due to oil based products. An almost unlimited water purifier. Stay near a freshwater source, you have plenty of water – irrespective of the water company.

    2 – Oyster mushrooms. This species of mushroom will digest any dead organic matter, including plastic and oil based products. If you get some plastic tubs, some used coffee grounds from the coffee shop and some spawn, you will have an almost indestructible food supply, just throw your old food,hair,leaves,sawdust etc on it to build up your supply.

    3 – Hemp – Hemp, if grown, provides food(seeds) oil(seeds) fuel(stalk) fibre(stalk) mushroom substrate(leaves) it needs little water and will protect soil. If the whole system went down, if your rations can last 3-6 months, then that should give you enough energy to cover you whilst you grow a crop of hemp, which should last you until the following year.

    4 – Health. If you have a genuinely healthy mind and body, you will feel great without any stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, etc. You will also improve your resilience under stress if you are genuinely healthy. I have grown up in the western world, but cannot see how energy intensive methods of keeping healthy will compete against eastern methods such as qi gong and yoga.

    The key to survival if the show hits the rocks is clean water and sufficient food. Copper will get your water clean, oyster mushrooms will provide nutrition and food. Personally, i am not going to wait until i’m thirsty before i dig my well.

  74. Anybody heard of or seen the new movie, “Thrive”?

    “On 11-11-11, Thrive, the documentary movie event, will open around the globe on the Internet. The trailer gives a tantalizing glimpse of a movie that asks and answers tough questions about why we are not thriving and how we can. It explores free energy and how we have the knowledge right now to free ourselves from the chains of the current global energy policies. ”

    On the surface it seems a little too involved with conspiracies. But, it also looks interesting.

  75. I wonder who will “Thrive” when you rent this documentary. They push all the right buttons to get your interest. Kind of like a “Chris Martenson” site, where he baits you with one article, then makes you pay to see what the really good insights are, of which you can get for free if you read enough of the right blogs. Knock yourself out, rent it.

  76. stucko, thanks for link .. I see a lot of names I know. Nathan Stubblefield isn’t there, but another unconvention inventor from the late 19th C.

    major m … be careful you do not fall into the FSA camp!

  77. majormocambo

    It’s just five bucks to rent. Cheap bastard. lol

    It’s not the money …. it’s the TIME I don’t want to waste. Was just wondering if anyone saw it already, and their input.

  78. Well no shit. Did you just figure this out? Better call Brandon Smith and work it all out.

    If you wanna use the car do go ridin next Sunday….
    Summertime Blues Blue Cheer yea Cochran wrote it.


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