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[P]
Peak Oil: the next big thing (Part Three)

By Apuleius in Meta
Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 03:47:08 PM EST
Tags: oil, economics (all tags)

Oil is getting scarce. The alternatives are unattractive. What does that mean in economic terms? The availability of oil and its price are linked by the laws of supply and demand. These laws are often cited as a deus ex machina that will save us from energy privation and avert a crisis. Those who think this way show they lack an understanding of how supply and demand work, and most often show it in how they speak of the issue. So now, let's look at the microeconomics of oil: the supply, the demand, the cost, the price, and the value of petroleum.


Some weeks ago I walked past another lecture announcement poster in an MIT corridor. The lecture is about our energy predicament. What was striking about it was the use of the phrase "peak oil." Our fossil fuel predicament has been an academic concern for decades, but now even the phrase "Peak Oil" can be uttered without fear of being seen as a fringe obsessive like, say, me. This month the New York Times printed two opinion pieces, by Robert Semple and Glenn Zorpette, giving the NYT readership an introduction into the issue of oil depletion. The oil company Chevron retaliated by putting out an advertisement in the op-ed page, denying there is a problem. Their last annual report however, tells a very different story.

A more sanguine editorial was published in Bloomberg's newswires last February. Matthew Lynn's piece, Cancel That Apocalypse -- The Oil Crisis Is Over is a good example of the fallacies employed to downplay our energy predicament, particularly those that involve the dismal science, economics. Here's a taste:

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Forget that order for a funny- looking electric car. Take the solar panels off the roof. Don't worry about hoarding tinned food for the long economic slump that is about to engulf the world.
Why? Because the oil crisis we were all concerned about less than a year ago is quietly going away.
The laws of supply and demand are starting to restore market calm. They suggest that although oil isn't about to get really cheap, talk of $100 a barrel can now be put to rest.
Mr. Lynn's citing of "laws of supply and demand" betrays that he is beholden to some of several misconceptions. One is the unwillingness common among financial analysts to admit that the laws of economics govern human behavior and only human behavior, and thus cannot trump the laws of physics. Another misconception is that the concepts "supply" and "demand" in the context of the energy markets conform to their counterparts in microeconomics textbooks. They do not. Finally, there is a tendency among all of us, made pathological by some, to think that today's economic conditions are preordained by the laws of economics. The laws of supply and demand do not preclude oil reaching $100 a barrel. They only describe the circumstances by which it would come about. They do not preclude market turmoil. They only describe how it could happen.

Economics is called the "dismal science" because of the dismal performance of economists' predictions. Economists make write their projections to three significant digits to show they have a sense of humor, so goes the joke. Nevertheless, economics does provide a good view of what a peak in oil production will look like, and therefore warrants a close look, starting with those aforementioned laws of supply and demand. Have a glance at Figure 1.

This is the Cross of Saint Andrew [0], patron saint of economists. It is the classical chart for the laws of supply and demand. On the vertical axis is the price of a commodity. On the horizontal, the quantity. Dropping from top left to bottom right is the demand curve. The reason for it is that the higher the price, the less of it people will be willing to buy. Rising from bottom left to top right is the supply curve. The higher the price, the more of it people will be willing to sell. At some price the two quantities will match. This is the equilibrium point to which the market will gravitate. The process by which it happens is not as clean as this looks. Sellers will offer the commodity at one price, and adjust it depending on how much they sell. They will also adjust the quantities they offer accordingly.

For common consumer goods, the change in price and quantity happens on the order of weeks. For oil, it happens on the order of minutes, thanks to the oil futures markets run by the New York Mercantile Exchange and other commodities markets around the world. Trading takes place at all hours of day or night, but primarily on New York's business hours. Now it's time to get pedantic. Sloppy reasoning involving supply and demand [1] starts with paragraphs on how an increase in price will decrease demand while increasing supply. Wrong. An increase in price will decrease quantity demanded and increase quantity supplied. (And a decrease will do the reverse.) An increase in supply isn't a movement along the supply curve, but a movement of the curve itself, a movement to the right. The same goes for the phrase increase in demand.

When supply or demand increase, the relevant curve moves to the right. When they decrease they move to the left. And here is the important thing to consider. A movement of the demand or supply curve is not dictated by economics. When the supply curve moves, it's because a new oil field has opened up for extraction, or a hurricane has knocked out oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. These are entirely physical and logistic considerations that make more or less oil available for a given price. So when someone says "an increase in demand for oil will lead to an increase in supply," he is talking utter tripe. An increase in demand for oil will cause the demand and supply curves to meet at a new equilibrium. It will do nothing to the supply curve. (In the short term, that is.) An increase in supply will cause the price to drop and the quantity consumed to rise. It will do nothing to the demand curve. It will do nothing to the demand curve. The shapes of the demand and supply curve are driven by noneconomic factors (such as how much oil is actually down there) and are thus not determined by any economic laws. If physics allowed it, the supply curve for oil would be so far to the right that we could be discussing the economics of lunar vacations and rocket car racing. But it doesn't, so we don't.

The next economic thing to think about is the price elasticity of demand, which is the change in quantity demanded caused by a given change in price. For some markets, like sushi, demand is highly elastic. For something like oil, quantity demanded does not change that much in response to the price. No matter what the price at the pump, you still need to fight the rush hour traffic to get to work. Well, if you use the same amount of gas no matter the price, that means the price itself will be highly variable. Mr. Charles Komanoff can explain to you how the commonly cited elasticity ratio for American gasoline demand (20%) translates to recent market behavior. At 20% elasticity, a 10% increase in price causes a 2% drop in gasoline use. Which might explain the recent news. There is also the question of the price elasticity of supply. The amount of oil extractible today depends on how many wells are dug and pumps are operating, and how much refining capacity is online. Until 1971, the Texan oil industry had spare capacity online for both extraction and refining. The amount of oil supplied from Texas was therefore highly variable (and set by a body called the Texas Railroad Commission - more on them below). The price of oil therefore, was stable. After Texan oil production peaked, it became Saudi Arabia's job to provide a variable source of oil to keep the price stable.

For reasons of national policy (i.e. a desire for a stable world economy to keep buying the oil and supplying Saudi Arabia with the consumer goods the population wants) the kingdom maintained a spare production capacity to be able to flood the market with oil on command of the oil minister. The Saudis have since stated bluntly that as of 2015 or so they will no longer be able to act as a swing producer. In truth, their ability is probably already no longer there. So we have a market with an inelastic demand, and now an inelastic supply. Here is what the two curves used to look like, and here is what they look like now (or pretty soon):

Notice how the supply curve has a bend that turns up and vertical? That is where the oil industry collectively gets up and says "look folks, this is how much is down there, and this is how fast we can extract it, no matter what the price is." The peak oil scenario dictates two things: demand for oil will continue to rise. Supply of oil continues to decline (the curve moves left, including the vertical part for the maximum of production. So now the price rises, and rises, and rises. And quantity demanded (and supplied) declines.

But, oil peaking is a long term issue, which calls for comparing long term versus short term supply and demand curves. Every graph for supply and demand represents the price and quantity for a set period of time. The demand curve for gasoline over the course of a week is highly inelastic. If the price doubled tomorrow you might still fill up because you have to get to work. But the same curve for longer periods is different. As the price of oil rises, people change their choice of car, and look to switching to public transport. Over the longer term, public transport itself might expand. Over a longer term yet, people adapt in what housing they want and where they want it, and over the span of a decade governments can respond by changing zoning rules and development patterns to facilitate living without the automobile.

Long term behavior is also different for the supply side. Oil rigs and refineries are not the sort of thing you can order from Amazon and receive in 5-10 business days. If you're an oil driller, you are probably pumping at capacity right now, which means no spike in the price of oil will get you drilling any faster tomorrow. Or next week. Maybe next year you might get more drills, but they cost money because everyone in your industry is bidding for them. So now is where unconventional fossil fuels come in. Extraction of oil from tar sands requires a huge investment in infrastructure to get started up. Such an investment can only justify itself when the price of oil is not only high but slated to remain high over the long term. This is why investment into unconventional fuels has been paltry thus far. It would be embarassing, to put it mildly, to start a tar sands mine because of a high oil price only to see the price of oil dip in response to your coming online, and take your profits with it. This is why the introduction of tar sands extraction has been so slow. But now we can guess that the high price of oil is here to stay. So these facilities are coming on line. But any solid prediction on their capacity or their effect on the price of oil has to be based on the logistics of getting these up and running, not on any inane talk of supply rising to meet demand.

So in short: there do exist supply and demand curves that model short and long term behavior of oil producers and consumers. These do act in accordance with the laws of supply and demand, and an infrastructure of futures and options exchanges exists to help them do so. But the shape and positions of the supply and demand curves do not change in accordance with economics but with geology, physics, and politics.

Who goes with? Who goes without?
That covers the oil market as a whole. Supply and demand set the price of oil and help set how much gets extracted and refined. Supply for crude oil is becoming highly inelastic. The supply curve for oil products, however, always has some give, because the crude can be refined into gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, lubricants, various chemicals, and plastics. These uses compete based on their individual demand curves and on the differing costs of configuring a refinery to make each product. So even while the supply curve for crude might go straight vertical, that doesn't happen for gasoline. Different amounts reach each station based on the price. Now, who gets this gas? Clearly, it's the people who pony up the money at the market price. Those who can't pay for as much gasoline as they want, or as much as they got last month, well, they get unhappy. Maybe very unhappy. Market economics dictate that they should not get the fuel they want, but other reasons might exist why they should, some of them even good reasons. And so, the government might decide to step in and regulate the price and allocation of fuel. It's happened before, so we have a good idea as to how things will fare if it happens again.

A government might cap the price of gas, and do nothing else (e.g. Nixon's America). It's a very simple solution. It's also a very bad one. With a price cap, less fuel will reach the pump than at the market price. And more of it will be demanded than at the market price. With consumers trying to get at more gasoline than is being made available, stations will run out, and a part of daily life will be keeping track of which stations are selling. At such a time it would be good to have a friend working at a gas station who can phone you when the tanker arrives. Without such help, you would often find yourself SOL.

Gas station owners may respond to a price cap by instituting ad hoc sales limits of so many gallons per customer. Fistfights would result. That might prompt the government to institute its own rationing scheme (e.g. America during World War Two). Human nature being what it is, there would be a black market in fake ration papers and in fuel. But rationing is what lets municipal fire departments obtain fuel when they cannot pay the market price for it, and when your house is on fire you better pray the city bean counters figured out how to keep the trucks fueled.

Those are the choices, and they all stink. A price cap can turn life upside down. A rationing scheme will make a black market spring up. And the free market will cause people to be priced out of fueling their vehicles. Nevertheless, the supply and demand mechanisms do have their advantages. Over the short term, they can put your stomach in knots as you pull over to fill up your car. But over the long term, the high prices can persuade folks to start conserving, which is why SUV sales are tanking, more and more companies in the US are learning to rely on freight rail rather than trucking. And the beauty of it is that this reduction in quantity of oil demanded happens without a commisar in the oil ministry having to evaluate applications for oil allocations and decide who is or is not worthy. Here in New England, a ceramic tile maker recently decided to go out of business on account of the price of natural gas. Well, as horrible as it is for the many workers at the plant, that is one major gas consumer who will not be consuming any this coming winter, when we in Massachusetts are under warning that there may be shortages. And no bureaucrat had to make this decision. A low price says "we got plenty, take your share" and people dig in. A high price says "it's gotten scarce, or it's gotten harder to get, so you really should cut back" and people follow the signal without any paperwork. The availability and logistics for distributing energy all get boiled down to a single number that tells you whether or not you should continue consuming as much energy as you are. Economics is easy. Logistics is hard. The market translates logistics to economics and lets you think about other things.

Too Much Information Is Not Enough
Of course, this same boiling down to one number has a catch. What gets boiled down to the price of oil is a lot of things: how much can be extracted at the moment, how much the extraction costs in terms of personnel, machinery, pollution, politics, and the energy consumption of the extraction process itself, not to mention the degree to which other people want the stuff. The catch is while the price of oil shields you from some of these details, you may not want it to. The price of gasoline at the pump is surprisingly low right now, because the last winter in North America was mild, and heating oil reserves are full. How nice to know that you're getting cheap(er) gasoline because people didn't freeze last winter. But here's a less appetizing reason: the socioeconomic collapse of Zimbabwe. The large and mostly mechanized plantations of Zimbabwe have all but stopped operating, since the country's president has confiscated the farms, expelled their white managers, and given them to his followers, most of whom know nothing of farming. Now the former breadbasket of southern Africa is suffering from famine, as is the rest of the continent. But they have not been using oil, and that shaves maybe a penny off your tab when you fill. Nice of the Zimbabweans, isn't it? The number on the gas station marquee doesn't tell you this, but maybe it should.

On the supply side of things, the price of oil also has its effects. The sustained rise of the last two years has translated into an economic boom in the tar sand extraction region of Alberta. For most Albertans it means jobs, and wealth. But it also means pollution, so much of it that water resources around the province are in danger. It means changes in the political structure of Canada, and therefore changes in its chances of continued existence. None of this is told to you by the price of oil. You see the price, not the cost.

Cost has other dimensions, not least of which is the moral one. Canada is a liberal democracy, which means that most of the cost imposed by the pollution from tar sands extraction will be charged to those who buy the oil. The same does not apply all around the world. In the hinterlands of Ecuador, oil drilling has contaminated the water supplies of many villages, whose citizens are going sick and uncompensated. They are paying the cost of oil drilling, because they have no clout in the kleptocratic republic of Equador, because they are Indians and Mestizos. Perhaps the better of angels of our nature will prevail in the echelons of the Ecuadorian court system, but as the price of oil rises, so do temptations. And the dangers. In 1993, using shotguns and hunting rifles, 20 Cofan Indians from the village of Zabalo forcibly shut down an oil drilling site on their lands. The more the price of oil rises, the more likely it is that next time, the Cofans will wind up outgunned by hired thugs, and out-lawed by the government. The cost of oil isn't just financial or logistic. It is a moral cost as well, another thing you don't find out at the pump.

Having spoken of the cost and price of oil, I'll be succint about its value. Every barrel of oil extracted now is a barrel no longer available to future generations. The degree to which you care is dependent on your religious or philosophic beliefs, but one presumes most of you do feel to some degree responsible for the well being of the next generation. But that is one other consideration that is not reflected in the price of oil. Lots of information about the cost of oil and its value is discarded by the processes that establish the price. Should it be so?

Hi! I am Apuleius, and I am a consumer
The market for oil doesn't just reduce the logistics of oil to a comprehensible number. The system also reduces your role in the system, to that of a consumer. You have some power to influence it by where you get your energy, and how much of it you use. But the role is not only miniscule, it is also to a degree dehumanizing. Your only role is that of the consumer. It's a horrid word, isn't it? It is often in such contexts as "consumer boycott" to describe the political use of your dollars to influence corporate behavior. Our grandparents had a better word for it, though: "customer." And besides, you can't just be a consumer. In this day and age, we tend to establish our identities by what we buy and where we shop. But that isn't and shouldn't be all. You are not just a consumer. If you work, you are also a producer, and most people are generally prouder of what they do for work than what they do with their wages. You are also, most importantly, a citizen of your town, region, country, and planet. You may not exercise it, but as a citizen you do have some power to influence your community. It takes more work, of course, but is far more dignified than being a mere consumer.

Closing notes: This article is several months past due, because I am studying these issues for my own benefit more than I am for you lot. I have more articles own the pipe: 4. Oil and macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is where you look at aggregate figures like the gross national product, and all the fudge factors that go into calculating them. (As opposed to microecon, which only concerns itself with actual goods, services, and money, and doesn't try to mix apples and oranges.) 5. Oil and the logistics of modern life, which is where things get scary, and 6. A history of the energy sector which is (basically) how we got to where we are today. Till next time, cheers.

[0] Adam Smith is more commonly called the patron saint of economists, but it was Saint Andrew who was nailed to an X shaped cross.

[1] The textbook definition for microeconomic demand competes for attention with monthly official estimates for oil demand, published by the International Energy Agency and by the Energy Information Agency of the United States Department of Energy. For more information on those refer to The Oil Drum. These estimates are a useful thing to follow if you want to be informed on where the oil market is heading. But they do not match the definition of "demand" in the context of the laws of microeconomics.

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o Oil is getting scarce.
o The alternatives are unattractive.
o Robert Semple
o Glenn Zorpette
o advertisem ent in the op-ed page
o annual report
o This is the Cross of Saint Andrew
o [0]
o laws of supply and demand.
o New York Mercantile Exchange
o [1]
o An increase in supply
o increase in demand.
o Mr. Charles Komanoff can explain to you
o oil drilling has contaminated the water supplies of many villages
o sick and uncompensated.
o 20 Cofan Indians
o The Oil Drum.
o Also by Apuleius


Display: Sort:
Peak Oil: the next big thing (Part Three) | 144 comments (115 topical, 29 editorial, 1 hidden)
precisely the sort of thing (1.40 / 10) (#2)
by Roger Mexico on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 04:13:42 AM EST

...that K5 definitely does NOT need right now, maybe, I think.

+1FP as usual (1.00 / 2) (#9)
by stuaart on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 09:15:38 AM EST


Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective


the way to defeat oil use (1.84 / 13) (#11)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 12:51:50 PM EST

nuclear->electric cars

end of fucking problem

yes, this requires the willpower of the NIMBYs to turn on a dime

it also requires the common wisdom of the man on the street to update their retarded ignorance of nuclear's problems up from something circa 1980. the tech has made dramatic strides. no meltdowns, no 10,000 year old waste. breeder reactors and pebble beds. learn the new tech folks, then form your opinions and open your fucking mouths

of course, complacency means no one will watch what is coming. mankind's incredible shortsightedness means he will not budge until the last possible moment, and under tremendous pain

but the pain is coming: oil-funded 9/11s, oil-fueled hurricane katrinas, and china's growth driving oil prices through the roof is supplying that pain

give it a few more 9/11s funded by oil, a few more hurricane katrinas pummeling the coasts, and prices going throught the stratosphere as china's economy surpasses the usa's, and maybe then, finally, the pain threshold will be reached where the common ignoramus on the street realizes its time for a dramatic change, and politicians grow some backbone in response

and make switch to nuclear

i give 10-20 years

the pain is only beginning to ramp up

oil-funded millionaire fundamentalists waging war on the west like bin laden and oil-fueled climactic violence and higher and higher prices for a barrel of oil due to demand are things that are not going away

UNTIL WE STOP USING OIL YOU MORONS

WAKE THE FUCK UP

GO NUCLEAR

OR CONTINUE TO SUFFER THESE THINGS


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Some prejudice (none / 1) (#18)
by alba on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 07:31:44 PM EST

  • Americans are good for starting from scratch
  • Europeans are good for making it safe and reliable
  • Japanese/Koreans/Chinese are good at making it small and cheap.

So it's only natural that you come up with all kinds of lunatic schemes to save the world.
Unfortunately the will to start from scratch has little influence on the ability.



[ Parent ]
wtf? save the world with moronic stereotypes? nt (none / 0) (#20)
by circletimessquare on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 11:30:09 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Beyond electric cars. (2.80 / 5) (#40)
by xC0000005 on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 05:15:36 PM EST

I am a huge fan of plug in vehicles (which is why one is plugged in at my house right now), but a single solution is too narrow.  Let's look at what could actually be done, with minimal effort, in many places:

  1.  Recognize that there's no single solution to transport problems.  Oil's a good fuel for ships/trains.  It's probably a waste for many other trips.

  2.  Select a set of solutions that reduces your individual dependency on oil.  If you live in NY and don't drive, great.  Good for you.  For the rest of us, consider a set of changes rather than just one.
Walk when practicle.
Bike when it's not practical to walk.
Take the bus when it's not practical to bike.  That Diesel engine in the bus doesn't sweat much harder hauling 60 people than it does the driver.
Drive an electric car when you have to drive.
Drive an appropriate gas car when electric won't cut it.  Not hauling 10 people?  Ditch the SUV.  

The point is - you dont' have to have a single solution that saves the world.  A gradient switch would slow consumption long enough to ease the impact of an oil cut over. (if it were possible).

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

Forget nukes and electric cars. (3.00 / 4) (#44)
by alexboko on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 08:39:52 PM EST

Everyone's still stuck in the prevention mentality that we should have had twenty years ago. And nobody is talking preparedness.

What are you personally doing to prepare for the possibility that maybe these nuclear reactors (which nobody has started building yet) and these electric cars (which have yet to make a dent in the overall market) will not come online before the oil-driven recession takes place? And for the possibility that once the recession begins, more of society's wealth will be spent preserving order, fertilizing fields, and keeping urban inhabitants from starving, leaving less for R&D and for cutting the infrastructure over to renewables and fission?

What market-droids need to get through their heads is that the market doesn't give a shit about you. It doesn't solve problems. It reacts to changes and finds new equilibria. Maybe the post-petroleum equilibrium will be a 1930's-style depression. Maybe this equilibrium willbe the living standard, political stability, and economic vitality of Somalia. You can bet the market will "come up with something". It's less certain that you'll like what it comes up with.

So nevermind the politics and the pie-in-the-sky global solutions. Assuming that you're not a willfully helpless emasculated weakling utterly at the mercy of "society", what do you plan to do to safeguard yourself, your family, and your local community. That's the level of thinking we need at this point.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

fuck off wackjob (2.20 / 5) (#49)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 02:39:35 AM EST

either we're all becoming somalia, or none of us are becoming somalia

there's no such fucking thing as it's all somalia out there, but i have american society preserved in my bunker

there is no what are YOU going to do about it

there is only what is society going to do about it

because its sink or swim with society's answers to these problems

the individual's answer to these problems means squat, because it's not an individual problem

it's a societal problem

stay on fucking target, survivalist boy

and i'm not talking about the gun range, crackpot


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Neither. It's a community issue. (none / 1) (#65)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 08:40:41 PM EST

The individual is too small and society is too large. Towns of 2,000-10,000 are just the right size to be cohesive, capable of specialization, and able to defend themselves against parasites and predators.

From there, civilization can start getting rebuilt, and more sustainably the next time around.

Why the emotional outburst? Did I hit a raw nerve by pointing out the vulnerabilities of over-specialization and over-reliance on institutions you have no influence on?


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

yes, you hit a raw nerve (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 08:48:53 PM EST

assholes like you who want to start over with utopian communes

you're just a faithless turd, i know assholes like you, i grew up with assholes like you

you have no integrity or fidelity in your common man, your asocial impulses are your weakness, not your strength, but you think otherwise, and it means your just a burden for everyone around you

let's put it this way: your huge lack of faith in society bodes poorly for your fantasy life of self-sufficient little communities

you haven't thought your cunning plans all the way through moron

any problem you see society at large with incapable of dealing with also effects your little utopian experiment

that's the fucking truth

so how about you stick with society, and stop being such a faithless worm, you fuck

more pragmatism, less incoherent fantasy life


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Fatal flaws. (none / 1) (#68)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:05:05 PM EST

The first thing that's wrong with society is that it is contrary to human nature. For millions of years we lived as foragers and pack-hunters in tribes of a few hundred individuals. We just aren't wired to identify with 200 million people, let alone six billion. Wrong species, wrong phylum.

Furthermore, I think you're reading more of an extremist vision into what I'm saying than the one I actually have. I'm in favor of a rich, large, high-tech society. I just want it to be one that is capable of planning for the possibility of its own collapse and ensuring that the collapse is a graceful one, leading as quickly as possible to a new cycle of rebuilding.

I'm proposing that society should me modular and redundant, down to the level of the individual. So that no matter what parts of it fail or lose contact with each other, there will always be institutions or individuals that can take over the critical duties of the failed/missing parts.

I absolutely hate stuff that "can't" collapse/sink/fail, because when it does, nobody has any idea what to do. That is why I'm against a monolithic, centralized society. Now, why are you so adamantly for it?


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

rich societies don't breed (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:16:52 PM EST

reference: japan, italy

what will inherit the earth is not what is right or what is wrong, but what simply works, regardless of how smart or right or dumb or wrong it is

and what works is what breeds

period

but please, babble on about hunter gatherer societies and other such fables you use to prop up your defunct worldview

you're overwhelmed and underarmed

you're talking about engaging in a struggle which is already lost, and never really existed in the first place

tell whatever tales you need to placate your sense of what you think you are losing in this world that never existed, fables you use to explain meaning in your life that has none

pretty soon you will be wormfood, and no more, and your struggle will cease, and your frail ideology will be no more

for the only ideology that matters in this world is the ideology that works

and when i say "works" i don't think you have the right definition of what that word means

you're not using the proper yardstick or parameters when you conteplate that word

bands of idealistic utopian pricks in the woods is not the reciped for any ideology, anywhere, that has any hope or value

the only ideology that has any meaning is the one that doesn't separate from humanity, but engages it head on, and within those big cities that scare your feeble head

dream your dreams wormfood, start your utopian fantasies

you're not the first, you won't be the last, and none of you feeble brittle souls ever really matter


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

So... 2-million inhabitant cities are... (none / 1) (#74)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:28:55 PM EST

...natural?

A six billion population is natural?

I guess we'll see. My guess is there will be a population correction sooner rather than later, and I intend to be on the "alive" side of that correction. You can stay in your city, if you like.

Seriously, CTS, stop acting like I'm a primitivist. You know damn well from my previous posts that I'm not. You're angry because you're afraid. You're going through the exact same phases I went through a year ago when I was faced with these unpleasant realities. But pleasant self-delusion is more harmful in the long run than an unpleasant reality.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

this is what i am saying (none / 1) (#76)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:31:21 PM EST

you don't save the cities by writing them off

simple enough for you?

your seige mentality is a sign of your psychological shortcomings, not of anything useful to the rest of us

got it?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Okay, okay, you win. (none / 0) (#79)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:35:43 PM EST

Let's all sink into a few centuries of dark ages or maybe die off altogether to stick together with people who are doomed regardless of what anybody does. That's definitely the world view that works, and that will be favored by evolution.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]
that's about right, wackjob (none / 0) (#80)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:39:18 PM EST

why? because there is only SOCIETY

there is no smaller viable unit that can exist as some citadel amongst the waves

REALLY

your utopianism is UNWORKABLE IN REALITY

stop watching your mad max movies son, wake the fuck up to some simple logic

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

No, there is no one society. (none / 0) (#82)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:51:46 PM EST

There are countries, nations, races, tribes. That have, for a historical millisecond, have all been forced into each other's faces by advances in communications and transportation. These advances are nice, but they are fueled by a continuous torrent of oil. Once that dries up, everyone will fracture right back along their historical fault lines.

Quick, let's kill the messenger and deny the whole thing.

If no viable unit smaller than this nebulous society can exist, why do we even have such a concept as a citadel? And what is a family? I thought that was the smallest unit of society.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

you pretend to have a grasp of history (none / 0) (#84)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:02:34 PM EST

small tribes... tiny kingdoms... military empires... republicans, nations, religions...

where is it all leading?

one nation

the whole goddamn planet

that's the issue, that's the future

the only morally justifiable and intellectually honest position on the topic you pretend to know about is a global one, and only that one alone

the idea is to learn from history, not be trapped in it

but you go on with your bad self, and obsess about makind living in hunter gatherer tribes for some maladjusted reason that speaks of your own social shortcomings more than anything else

how the fuck that line of thought is supposed to be useful, as you type away on the INTERNET (what does that do but bind people from far flung locals?) is beyond me


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

We're talking past each other. (none / 0) (#89)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:12:12 PM EST

You're talking about morals, I'm talking about architecture.

The internet is redundant, modular, and fault-tolerant. If you have two or more connected computers, they can address each other using the IP protocol. The industrial world is increasingly less so. This does not bode well for the industrialized world. The industrial world I am unashamed to love and want to continue instead of living in grass huts and dying of malaria.

In order to save it, we need to make our society more redundant, modular, and fault-tolerant. Like the internet. None of us have enough influence to do that. But we can at least organize our immediate subnet and our downstream subnets along those lines. Maybe the idea will catch on and propagate all the way to the top. That would be nice, but plans should be made to withstand the worst-case scenario, not the best case one. So we plan to keep our own subnet functioning even if the rest of the network crashes and burns.

Before you accuse me of incoherence, please understand that I'm using a metaphor. I realize that the internet is not literally all of society.  It just illustrates some important points about how systems fail.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

zzz (none / 0) (#98)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:55:06 PM EST

you don't save "the internet" by reinventing it or shutting it off

you don't save technological achievement by becoming a luddite

do you understand my metaphor?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'm no luddite. (none / 0) (#100)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:20:53 AM EST

I have been a life-long science fiction fan and a transhumanist since I first heard of them back in 1995. I am presently in a biology PhD program and before that I worked as a computer consultant and sys-admin. And loved it. And got into frequent arguments with real luddites. Just because I disagree with your ideal of a homogenous, single-government world doesn't make me a luddite or any of the other things you called me.

With you or against you, eh? Is that you "pragmatic" vision for a unified humanity?

You save a cause by picking your battles. By finding a defensible position and retreating to it in an orderly manner instead of standing in the open and waiting to be overrun. By yielding the costly to protect the priceless.

I mean, I hope your letters to your congressman, your recycled cans, or whatever it is-- if anything-- you're doing does work. I want to be wrong. I don't regard the contingency I'm planning for as a desirable one.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

the issue is society (none / 0) (#103)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:56:56 AM EST

surviving or not

you've already given up on it, preparing for the apocalypse you believe is coming, and preparing your bunker for survival

this doesn't preserve anything at all

you don't preserve something by abandoning something

put it this way: if an asteroid of sufficient size is heading towards earth, society is doomed, period, end of story

any weirdoes dwelling in underground caves with cans of tuna aren't preserving society or doing anything that could be called the best of that society in microcosm

they're just a bunch of assholes sitting in underground caves with a lot of tuna

there are some things you cannot control or defend from

try to understand this old hackneyed quote:

"God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I Cannot change...

Courage to change the things I can

And Wisdom to know the difference..."

first, recognize what is beyond your control

second, accept it

preserving society fom the various threats in your mind, regardless of how real or not, is not on your list of abilities

simply because you don't understand what the totality of society is, and that you cannot make a valid microcosm of it

lose your god complex and your seige mentality

you vastly overestimate your abilities, and you vastly mischaracterize the threats, and you woefully do not understand the nature of the subject: civilization and society and its preservation


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

And you're calling *me* a luddite? (none / 0) (#109)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:07:14 AM EST

I will not accept death and disintegration, and I will never give up hope, no matter how overwhelming the odds. As a living organism, it is the purpose of my life to fight against death to the very last. I know what I value in society, and I will try to preserve that, whatever the sacrifice. Remember reading about that hiker a couple of years ago who had his leg stuck under a rock in the middle of nowhere and amputated it himself with a pocket knife so he could live? Would you have the resolve to do that? Or would you hang around and allow the rest of your body to starve out of solidarity with the cells in your leg?

PS: You're actually quoting prayers to me now you hypocrite?


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

zzzzzz (none / 0) (#114)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:40:52 AM EST

yes, moron, survival is the issue

of SOCIETY

not the ISSUE

WOOOEEEOOOO

can't keep track of your fucking subject matter

and yes, i believe that quote is called the "serenity prayer"

whateve,r i'm not religious, the provenance of the quote isn't important, do the WORDS OF THE FUCKING PRAYER HAVE MEANING, or do they not?

i'm sorry i'm asking you to use your brain to analyze words

clearly, we can simply dismiss something as invalid based on srouce, and regardless of logic or lack thereof

how very scientific of you

(snicker)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

In (none / 0) (#119)
by Ward57 on Sun Jul 09, 2006 at 03:29:01 PM EST

a single world government, there will still be wars. It's just that the losing side will not be allowed guns, and the winning side will have no reason to distinguish between soldiers and civilians.

[ Parent ]
natural as opposed to what? (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by Delirium on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:06:44 PM EST

The term "natural" is not really a well-defined coherent term. If by "natural" you mean "not effected by humans", then clearly 6 billion humans isn't natural, but then neither is any nonzero number. If you don't mean something like that, then in what sense is the current human population unnatural?

[ Parent ]
By natural, I mean... (none / 0) (#101)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:41:39 AM EST

In the case of cities, by natural I meant "at odds with innate human social instincts".

In the case of the population of the planet I meant "dangerously close to carrying capacity".

Sorry about the sloppy use of words. It's hard to tell what he's saying, but it seems to be that our kin/tribal allegiances are inherently to the entire human population, and that I'm some kind of sick abberation for admitting that my allegiance is to myself and those closest to me either geographically or cognitively.

I'm trying to say that neither we nor any species have ever, even for the briefest moment history, had this sort of global consciousness and that despite his invocations of evolution, species-loyalty couldn't possibly have evolved because the current overpopulated and interconnected state of the planet that would be necessary for any deliberate collective action by humanity as a whole is itself a remarkable aberration sustained only through tremendous outlays from dwindling energy reserves.

If CTS were right, it wouldn't be necessary for him to be so vehement in his attacks against me, anymore than it's necessary to attack people who buy high and sell low... they're punishing themselves and won't be able to keep it up for very long. The reason he is so furious must be because he thinks I might be on to something, and is worried that my point of view might be contagious.

We need to cut over to renewable energy. But we also need to plan for what to do if this attempt fails and the capital for further attempts is no longer there. As far as I can tell, CTS's plan B is "die together". I don't think this attitude is a productive one nor one, to use his terminology, that will result in breeding well. It's like attempting to prevent a stock market bubble from bursting by shouting down anybody who calls it a bubble.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

shut the fuck up asshole (none / 0) (#105)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:15:58 AM EST

enough vehemence for you?

want to talk unnatural?

talk agriculture

it radically increases the density of people who can live off of a given acre of land

it is not... NATURAL

and yet, it is, and has been so, for tens of thousands of years

such that the naturally gregarious and pack-oriented human developed into larger social structures

as in: completely natural according to human social levels of contact

the only thing that changed was their allegiance from tribe to that of nation

it didn't impact the density of their social interactions

it was a higher level abstraction of social cohesion, having nothing whatsoever to do with genetics

it had to do with ideas, memetics, a sphere of evolution above and beyond genes. the evolution of ideas. defined by, but not constrained by, genetics. having nothing to do with the survival of individuals and propagation of genes, but of the survival of ideas and the propagation of social structures

you're using the wrong language for your subject matter

everything that happens in biology is described by physics, but it is stupid to limit yourself to a physicist's alphabet to talk about biology

everything that happens in philosophy/ politics is described by biology, but it is stupid to limit yourself to a biologist's alphabet to talk about memetics

oh, sorry, i almost forgot:

so suck my dick you ignorant douchebag


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I like memetics as much as the next trendy but... (none / 0) (#106)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:48:59 AM EST

...give me one example of a memetics hypothesis that's testable by an actual experiment. Or have we transcended the need for testable hypotheses as well and emerged into a new sphere of pure bullshit?

If memetics and your will to believe is all you have to back your centralized one-world government idea, it's a pretty damn weak idea. Not that it's in any danger of happening because a quick look outside will show you that there are a lot more of these troublesome tribe-minded individuals than there is you.

But don't despair. You can curse them all out too, and then clobber them with an endless stream of single-sentence paragraphs until they too see the wisdom of acting against their own friggin self-interest for no particular reason.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

this is k5 (none / 0) (#108)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:05:00 AM EST

this is the very definition of sphere of bullshit

look, i'm not going to get into a giant wankfest with you over the validity of the soft sciences versus the hard sciences

suffice it to say that memetics describes patterns of behavior, and much like politics and propaganda, has a set of principles and theories which guide effective real world predictive ability

i mean advertising isn't a science, but it is bound by rules and principles too, to great effect

don't believe me?

sex sells doesn't it?

want to test that?

is that soft science principle testable enough to a level of validity enough for your hard science mind?

no?

well, you seem to be typing some words here with a level of conviction on the subject matter: what guides your certainty in your beliefs on the subject matter?

or is your opinion completely invalid?

you decide:

soft sciences untestable and invalid... therefore, your opinions on this subject matter are equally invalid, according to the same principle

soft sciences testable and valid... therefore, you can continue spewing forth the words you do with some integrity

go for it dude, make your choice

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

To recap. (none / 0) (#110)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:14:49 AM EST

You're saying that we should focus all efforts on large-scale (and as yet un-started) efforts at preventing peak oil and absolutely none on community and individual preparedness because... everyone should go down with the ship... because individual survival is contrary to evolution... but not genetic evolution, memetic evolution... specifically your personal interpretation of memetic evolution.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]
follow the bouncing ball moron (none / 1) (#113)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:37:27 AM EST

the idea is for society to cope with its problems

you don't help society cope with its problems by divorcing yourself from society

duh!

the goal: preserve your house

the problem: a house has termites

your solution: move to the barn

!?

now you very well CAN divorce yourself from society, please, by all means, do so

but then you've nullified your ability to speak meaningfully on the problem!

get it dipshit?

you CAN move out of your house and into your barn

but then you've modified the existing goal, which was: preserve your house... you've DIVORCED yourself from that issue by moving to the barn

in other words, you don't solve a problem by changing its initial parameters

get it, oh great exalted genius?

the problem is how does SOCIETY cope with its energy needs

you work on a solution WITHIN THAT CONSTRAINT, or you forfeit your ability to speak meaningfully on the subject

simple logic

can you grasp it fuck?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I guess what I said can apply to larger units... (none / 0) (#70)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:15:06 PM EST

...than cities. I'd love to see a Federal contingency plan (with yearly drills) for failover to an alliance of sovereign states, and similar state contingency plans.

Since I'm pragmatic, and not a utopian like CTS, I don't waste time on this, because I have no influence on State and Federal government. However, anybody who gets off their ass can influence local government, and therefore that's what I'm focusing on.

I'm compassionate and want as many as possible of my fellow human beings to have their shit together when the hammer comes down (plus it greatly simplifies the task of rebuilding to have it simultaneously proceed from multiple centers). So, I'm trying to spark discussion about it, with my good friend CTS helping draw attention to it with his wild abusive flames. Think Locke and Demosthenes.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

"Since I'm pragmatic, and not a utopian (none / 0) (#73)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:28:19 PM EST

 like CTS,"

funny!

you want to break up society rather than work through it, and i'm the utopian, and your pragmatic

got it! you're humorous, thanks for the laugh

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'm not trying to break society up. (none / 0) (#77)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:32:11 PM EST

I just think that it's likely enough to break up that we should think about how to make this process as painless as possible and how to facilitate recovery from it.

Rather than insisting "it cannot happen, lalala, I'm not listening you crackpot".


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

false complacency is wrong, of course, duh (none / 1) (#78)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:34:15 PM EST

...and so is false alarmism, you wingnut


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
False? (none / 0) (#81)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:48:11 PM EST

declining oil reserves -> increasing oil prices -> increasing fuel and fertilizer prices -> increasing prices ON EVERY SINGLE THING ANYBODY BUYS ANYWHERE -> runaway cycle of inflation -> mass bankruptcies, housing bubble pops, economic depression -> less capital available for R&D and refitting to a renewables/nuclear economy, slowing the already slow process further

Meanwhile...
spikes in fuel prices may be so abrupt that they disrupt shipments to cities and suburbs -> riots -> refugee problem

So far all you've been doing is flinging ad-hominem attacks and personal values at me, as if I'll start to share your value if you express them forcefully enough. What would be more effective would be to come up with alternatives that would make it unnecessary to make this end run I'm proposing and would seem to effective to me that I'll start pursuing them in preference to my own. Alternatives that would make a positive difference even if lone individuals implement them without the support of big business and big government. Because they haven't done anything so far, and it's not clear that they'll ever be capable/willing to.

Abuse is for the intellectually lazy.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

ah, it's the apocalypse coming! (none / 1) (#85)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:03:20 PM EST

zzzz

wake me up when it gets here so i can get my fiddle

(snicker)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Furthermore... (none / 0) (#67)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 08:56:36 PM EST

  1. I said nothing about gun ranges. Kindly respond to me and not to imaginary voices.

  2. Right now, the American way of life is preserved in America and not in Somalia. I don't see you in any hurry to sink or swim together with the Somalis. How is that any different from preserving a tolerable standard of living in mid-sized towns and cutting loose the lemmings in huge cities that caused most of this problem to begin with?

For the record, I live in a huge city, and this worries me. My personal plan includes getting the hell out when I can afford to do so.

Seems pretty straight forward to me-- if you can't solve a problem (and you CAN'T solve this one, stop fooling yourself) find a defensible spot and contain the problem outside your borders. So the people who see the writing on the wall need to...
A) Learn skills that will make them useful outside of an air conditioned office.
B) Pick honest, resourceful neighbors.
C) Get to know said neighbors, start brainstorming and discussing a local preparedness plan.
D) Get active in local politics to encourage the town or county to study the consequences of peak oil and climate change and develop a town/county preparedness plan. At the very least a way to deal with waves of refugees and a way to source critical supplies when long-distance shipping is no longer an option.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

holy incoherence batman (none / 1) (#69)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:08:21 PM EST

you argue disengagement and getting involved at the same time. kindly work out out that contradiction and get back to us

k thx

ps:

"Right now, the American way of life is preserved in America and not in Somalia. I don't see you in any hurry to sink or swim together with the Somalis. How is that any different from preserving a tolerable standard of living in mid-sized towns and cutting loose the lemmings in huge cities that caused most of this problem to begin with?"

kindly explain what the fuck that furball of incoherence you coughed up is supposed to mean... american way of life... somalia... mid-sized towns... lemmings... wtf?

try coherent thought sometime dear wackjob, it's a nice alternative


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Calm yourself, Beavis. (none / 0) (#72)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:23:06 PM EST

You're on a testosterone trip and you're too angry to read what I'm saying.

The world, right now, if it was one cohesive society, would be closer to the living standard and technological level of the developing nations than that of your neighborhood.

The reason we have any technological and economic progress at all is that we contain the chaos, to some extent, in the developing world. During good times, the chaos recedes. During bad times it advances. The oil crash will be an unprecedentedly long and severe bad time, and chaos may make inroads into regions that up till now had been protected. But it doesn't have to overrun the entire country. The priority should be to keep a few areas functioning so they can rebuild instead of pulling everyone down with us.

Buy local. Learn to make/perform at least crude DIY alternatives to goods/services you currently rely on a long distance economy for. Make friends with your neighbors. Spread the word.

Is that simple enough for you?


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

Okay, okay CTS. (none / 0) (#83)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:58:26 PM EST

Which of the following concrete recommendations do you actually disagree with and what will be the negative consequences if people follow these recommendations? How do you intend to prevent them from following these recommendations?


Buy local. Learn to make/perform at least crude DIY alternatives to goods/services you currently rely on a long distance economy for. Make friends with your neighbors. Spread the word.


Get active in local politics to encourage the town or county to study the consequences of peak oil and climate change and develop a town/county preparedness plan. At the very least a way to deal with waves of refugees and a way to source critical supplies when long-distance shipping is no longer an option.




Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]
LOL (none / 1) (#87)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:06:08 PM EST

"How do you intend to prevent them from following these recommendations?"

you got the question wrong asshole:

How do you intend to MAKE them follow these recommendations?

go ahead asshole! close down the local walmart! tell the people it's good for them to buy local stuff at 10x the price, and to limit their choices, and to limit their quality

go for it dude! you're going to get a huge upwelling of support!

(snicker)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I don't care if they follow them or not. (none / 0) (#90)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:20:46 PM EST

You forget, I'm not a pure altruist, I'm a reciprocal one. I don't care what happens to people who neither follow my recommendations nor offer a better plan.

My recommendations are aimed at resourceful people with a healthy instinct of self preservation, to start them planning for peak oil.

Let the obligate consumers shop wherever their pudgy little hearts desire, I wouldn't dream of preventing them. But the rest of us have no obligation whatsoever to feed or shelter them when the shit comes down.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

altruism exists in and of itself (none / 1) (#92)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:25:25 PM EST

there's no such thing as reciprocal altruism

that's called trade, moron

so i'm glad that you're ready to admit you just don't fucking care about anyone but yourself

not that that isn't obvious in the bullshit you say already

stop with the dancing around and just admit your true nature

you're an asocial selfish fuck

enough with contrivances, just admit your nature and disappear into the woods with your cans of tuna and your ammo

that you bought at walmart

(snicker)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'm an asocial selfish fuck (none / 0) (#96)
by alexboko on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:49:08 PM EST

I thought it was obvious. Have you been paying attention? You asked me how to force people to follow my recommendations, and I'm simply responding that they're free to do as they like, screw them. You statists are the only ones who force people to follow.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]
i'm not forcing you to do anything (none / 0) (#97)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:53:34 PM EST

except to be honest with your own words you say

so put down the fucking keyboard

move in the woods

stop talking to people

please

(snicker)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Read Dawkins. (none / 0) (#102)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:49:17 AM EST

In a mixed community of pure altruists and reciprocal altruists, it's the pure altruists who allow parasites to inflitrate the community again and again, starving off most of the altruists and the parasites themselves until the survivors are mostly reciprocal altruists who in the absence of parasites again start increasing in numbers and creating a region of safety and prosperity where pure altruists can again take temporary advantage by no longer taking the effort to be reciprocal, thus again allowing the parasite population to rebound, and so on ad nauseum.

Anyway, which one is this Walmart you keep bringing up, I'm confused-- is it a pure altruist or a reciprocal one?


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]

genes are not memes (none / 1) (#104)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:06:22 AM EST

we're talking about memetics, ideology

this is another layer on top of your selfish genes and your biology of the individual

the lower layer informs what goes on above it, but does not fully explain the rules of this different game

you are lacking in a mental perspective that fully understands the nature of your role in this new sphere

your view is warped, it encompasses a different set of issues than what is required to comment usefully on the subject before us: civilization and society

it's not fully described by genetics

or rather: it is, but completely out of scale. like trying to study a glacier with an electron microscope

it's like a particle physicist trying to talk about chemistry in the language of ONLY particle physics

or a biochemist trying to talk about philosophy in the language of ONLY biochemistry

of course they are interrelated, and layered on top of each other

but it is better to use the proper abstractions and concepts for the layer you are currently dealing with to come to a more valid commentary and focus your mental faculties to their best

you're hobbling your mental abilities by not adopting the proper alphabet for the subject matter before you

but just ignore me

you go keep describing the action of enzymes in the language of particle physics

you talk about society in the language of genes

pffft


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Memetics is not [yet] a science. (none / 0) (#107)
by alexboko on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:58:51 AM EST

It's a damn analogy. Which you took and ran with because it sounds scientific and justifies your pre-existing conclusions about the superiority of collectivism and centralization. I might not understand memetics, but neither do you, because apart from several dozen pages of yeah-that-sounds-right speculation and a few BBS-cults, memetics doesn't exist. We have no idea what this cool hopefully-someday-to-be-science will say about your one-world-order. Remember, religions are memes too. As are racial stereotypes. As is patriotism.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
[ Parent ]
that's perfectly fine (none / 1) (#112)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:25:06 AM EST

you can completely reject the validity of what i say on the basis that i am using untestable/ untested principles

you value logical cohesion

that's a commendable value

so i'm glad that, according to the much vaunted principles you just championed, in line with your impeccable standards of logical cohesion, that you are ready to null and void everything you have said in this entire thread, and probably a large set of your personal beliefs

right?

since it's all untestable according to hard science standards, right?

in fact, you won't even respond to this post, right?

what would be the point about talking about all of this flim flam untestable bullshit, right?

or maybe you want to keep talking... but its all so much trendy wordiness you are spewing, so i shouldn't consider anything you say with any conviction or give your words any value, right?

wait, wait, wait...

maybe there's another way

maybe yu can fucking deal with the validity of what i say on the fucking face value of what i am saying

rather than dismissing it out of hand as too "trendy"

how's that concept you mentally brittle fuck?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I am glad to see (none / 0) (#133)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 09:18:33 AM EST

That somebody else believes in the nuclear/electric car solution. I have done much studying of the problem and that is pretty much the only viable solution I keep coming up with, but damn is it a good one. Virtually unlimited energy at today's energy prices and travel for the equivalent of 60 cents a gallon and all done safely and without dependance on unstable regimes.

But you know what. The public opinion needs to change. It's up to people like us to change that opinion. I don't see how else it's gonna happen, unless reality settles in so deeply that the public has no choice but to come around. But by that time we will be 5 to 10 years away from solving the problem, so who knows if it would happen. I think people like us should be doing everything possible. Writing letters, calling congress, informing friends and family, etc.

Have you seen "An Inconvenient Truth"? The related website has a link you can follow where you can donate to help offset your carbon emissions. But this donation is simply going to an energy company that invests in wind/solar/etc. Nothing about nuclear. So I am not donating (I do buy some wind energy blocks from my utility though). I was thinking of writing a letter to Al Gore laying all this shit out for him. But I want to make sure I've got all the details covered first and then I'll make sure it's all nicely formatted.

[ Parent ]

more overwrought than usual (2.71 / 7) (#13)
by khallow on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 01:40:12 PM EST

Since this has already reached voting, there's little point in discussing its excessive length or inability to promptly make a point.

Let's go on to the pseudo-moral whining.

How nice to know that you're getting cheap(er) gasoline because people didn't freeze last winter. But here's a less appetizing reason: the socioeconomic collapse of Zimbabwe. The large and mostly mechanized plantations of Zimbabwe have all but stopped operating, since the country's president has confiscated the farms, expelled their white managers, and given them to his followers, most of whom know nothing of farming. Now the former breadbasket of southern Africa is suffering from famine, as is the rest of the continent. But they have not been using oil, and that shaves maybe a penny off your tab when you fill. Nice of the Zimbabweans, isn't it? The number on the gas station marquee doesn't tell you this, but maybe it should.

No, it's irrelevant to my decision at the pump. Changing my fuel consumption won't help or hinder Zimbabwe. Obviously, you didn't sufficiently consider the plight of the Zibabwe people before you hit "post". Please do so next time.

But it also means pollution, so much of it that water resources around the province are in danger. It means changes in the political structure of Canada, and therefore changes in its chances of continued existence. None of this is told to you by the price of oil. You see the price, not the cost.

How odd to say this given the start of the next paragraph.

Cost has other dimensions, not least of which is the moral one. Canada is a liberal democracy, which means that most of the cost imposed by the pollution from tar sands extraction will be charged to those who buy the oil.

So we have that Canada's political structure hasn't changed despite what has to be a century of oil production in the country. Further, that the costs which "don't appear" at the pump somehow still appear at the pump.

The cost of oil isn't just financial or logistic. It is a moral cost as well, another thing you don't find out at the pump.

No, this is a cost of third world corruption not of "oil". Even if oil ceased to be a valuable commodity tomorrow, Equador would still be exploiting its own. What's the point of paying for the "moral cost" when the exploitation goes on whether or not the payment is made?

And if we're going to include that sort of information, we should also include the billions of people who benefit from cheap energy as provided by oil. That brings me to my last point.

Having spoken of the cost and price of oil, I'll be succint about its value. Every barrel of oil extracted now is a barrel no longer available to future generations. The degree to which you care is dependent on your religious or philosophic beliefs, but one presumes most of you do feel to some degree responsible for the well being of the next generation. But that is one other consideration that is not reflected in the price of oil. Lots of information about the cost of oil and its value is discarded by the processes that establish the price. Should it be so?

We produce other things with that oil: a better civilization, more wealth for more people, better technology. These are things that last generations. I think the tradeoff is reasonable.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Sorry, not in voting yet (none / 0) (#16)
by khallow on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 02:23:13 PM EST

I just voted on a bunch of things and forgot this was still in the edit queue. Sorry about that.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

On elasticity of demand. (3.00 / 4) (#19)
by Morally Inflexible on Tue Jul 04, 2006 at 08:32:54 PM EST

It would be trivial for nearly everyone to cut their gas consumption by 75%. That SUV you commute in? trade it in for a $2000 motorcycle, or buy the motorcycle and save the SUV for short grocery jaunts. Heck, just scaling down to an echo would give the average SUV driver a 2x-4x savings in gas, and yeah, it's not comfortable for 5 people, but 5 people will fit.

Nearly all gasoline consumption could be considered luxury consumption at this point in time. Look out your window. How many families use SUVs rather than a station wagon? how many people drive sports cars rather than economy cars? how many cars with only one person do you see? How many people live more than 10 miles from work in order to speculate on the volatile housing market? My point is simply that gas is still very cheap right now. When gas becomes expensive, nearly everyone in my demographic will be using motorcycles, and you will often see 4 or 5 people in a Toyota echo size economy car.

For evidence, look at what happened during the last energy crisis. Cars got real small, real fast. Motorcycles became more popular. Look at Europe or Asia for even more extreme examples. In many parts of the world, the standard transportation is a 50cc-150cc moped or motor scooter.

My point is that this scaling down of consumption will come naturally with price increases, and it won't even be that big of a deal for most of us. (Now, there are many working-class families living (on credit) as if they were upper middle class. Those people will have a hard time of it, but gas is a minor component of their problems. The interest rate hikes required to keep the dollar afloat is their big problem.)

Morally Inflexible, meet China. (none / 1) (#120)
by fn0rd on Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 11:48:56 AM EST

And her ugly sister, India.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

hay fnord (none / 0) (#142)
by buford on Wed Oct 11, 2006 at 09:05:50 AM EST

you don't happen to live in melbourne do you?

zHHD's first law of grandiosity:
if a man zeros you, he is a spastic with the scro
[
Parent ]
I remember hiking into the city (none / 0) (#128)
by Gruntathon on Sun Jul 16, 2006 at 11:48:14 PM EST

in the morning, during peak hour. It was a long walk. In the breaks when I was next to Victoria road, which just so happens to have some of the worst traffic in Sydney, I started counting cars that had more than one person in it.

I think it was about one in eight. So ~85% of the cars had only one person in them.

I found it rather delightful to watch a police officer rolling up and down the transit lane (where you are supposed to have at least two people in your car to drive in) collecting fines from these one person cars whom were too annoyed with the traffic in the other two lanes to stay there.
__________
If they hadn't been such quality beasts (despite being so young) it would have been a nightmare - good self-starting, capable hands are your finest friend. -- Anonymous CEO
[ Parent ]
-1, More peak oil BS (1.33 / 9) (#22)
by HackerCracker on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 02:03:47 AM EST

Not that I advocate a dependence on petroleum products for vehicular transport, mind you. Beating the oil addiction is essential. But peak oil is a BS concept invented by a guy who worked for (surprise, surprise!) a major oil company.

Yawn.

is that what makes it BS? (none / 0) (#37)
by speek on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 01:09:15 PM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Yes (1.33 / 3) (#38)
by HackerCracker on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 03:34:12 PM EST

It's fairly well documented that new discoveries of oil are constantly being made--so much so that it's in the interests of the oil companies to put out the idea that it's scarce and in danger of running out any minute now in order to ensure that profits stay high.

An excellent write-up on the subject by Greg Palast can be found here.

[ Parent ]
been drinking gasoline? (2.33 / 3) (#50)
by boomi on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 06:15:35 AM EST

That's not a write-up, it's a set-up. It misrepresents Hubbert's theory as a study about reserves, whereas Hubbert was making prediction about production rate (based in part on knowledge about available reserves). It also fails to mention Hubbert's prediction about peak production in the US itself, which was remarkably accurate.

As to the theory that the price is kept artificially high by oil cartels, I'll use Occam's razor:

  1. Huge companies bungle up with countries to fix the price of oil though more would flow readily for each of them
  2. Everyone is pumping as much as possible because they want the money


[ Parent ]
Way to oversimplify (1.00 / 3) (#57)
by HackerCracker on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 11:48:07 AM EST

I call bullshit. Hubbert was talking about the oil supply for the entire world, not just the US. And where's your proof that his US predictions were accurate? Hirez, plz.

As for Occam, you don't know what you're talking about. Point 1: Saudi Arabia holds the worlds oil supply by the short and curlies by virtue of the fact that they're the #1 OPEC supplier. And by virtue of that fact, anyone dumb enough to try and flood the world with cheap oil will find themselves drowned in a flood of even cheaper oil by the Saudis (which addresss point 2). The Saudis have enough cash reserves that they could do that for at least a year if not more, and the country trying to outdo the Saudis will find their economy a smoking crater by the end of their little stunt.

[ Parent ]
Hirez numbers (none / 0) (#126)
by boomi on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 06:05:13 AM EST

How about "Annual U.S. Crude Oil Field Production"[1]? Or the 'hirez'  monthly version[2]? Draw your own graphs, tool.

What about about your comment: "It's fairly well documented that new discoveries of oil are constantly being made"? Do you have 'hirez' on that? The opposite is 'fairly well documented'. You obviously have no idea what Hubbert was talking about, go read his 1956 paper[3].

So it's the Saudis controlling the whole game? How could they do this if oil was abundant? It's not, and that's the whole point.

[1] http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/mcrfpus1A.htm
[2] http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/mcrfpus1M.htm
[3] http://www.hubbertpeak.com/hubbert/1956/1956.pdf

[ Parent ]

oil companies... (none / 0) (#130)
by DDS3 on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 10:38:42 AM EST

...are actually the first to point out that oil is not running out.  They are, however, pointing out that oil may run our from existing supplies.  Those are two different things which John-Q often confuses...which is what you seem to be parroting there.

[ Parent ]
your blood for my oil (1.00 / 4) (#23)
by doomfook on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 03:45:47 AM EST



+1FP, Apuleius (none / 1) (#24)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 04:12:21 AM EST

Although I have no idea why this is in Meta instead of say Op-Ed...

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
O-1L $ (1.75 / 8) (#29)
by akostic on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 05:18:51 AM EST


--
"After an indeterminate amount of time trading insane laughter with the retards, I grew curious and tapped on the window." - osm
-1 Talking Ass (1.33 / 9) (#32)
by givemegmail111 on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 08:26:02 AM EST

nt

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
You fail to explain why (2.66 / 3) (#33)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 09:13:12 AM EST

supply of oil is becoming more price inelastic. You make some attempts at explaining but they are not nearly enough to actually support your dubious claims.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
-

the one good thing about the coming (2.00 / 3) (#51)
by army of phred on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 07:34:33 AM EST

apocalypse is that candy asses like you will become prey.

As you wave your masters in whatever at the oncoming hoards, your lovely trophy wife will cower in fear as she anticipates the approaching gang rapers. Even as you are beaten into unconciousness, you'll marvel at the irony that all those years pumping iron has still left you unable to defend against even the most primitive of weapons as you are beaten silly by what amount to be discarded car parts and tree branches.

Once again natural selection will win, and you, the posterboy of failed choices, will lose. Fortunately, your demise will be quick, and your wife will be enjoyed by a dozen roaving marauders, albeit for a very brief period of time. Later that night you will be both cooked and eaten.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

lol what (none / 0) (#52)
by tetsuwan on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 07:45:03 AM EST


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

lol what (2.25 / 4) (#55)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 11:15:41 AM EST

if you actually read my diaries you'd know I own several guns. I have training in them, professional and casual. I can place a bullet in a man's face from 300 meters with iron sights. I have stockpiled enough ammo for the exact eventuality you describe.

My trophy wife will be very cozy as I go around taking things and wives from other men who are not prepared.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

well thats good (none / 1) (#56)
by army of phred on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 11:39:04 AM EST

obviously you're still going to be dead meat, but the plan you have to delay this a few days is noteworthy. You just seem to be too big a metrosexual to last much longer.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Obviously not (1.50 / 2) (#61)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:46:13 PM EST

my friends are similarly nuts. Although we're not survivalists or anything like that, we are surely the kind that doesn't go through the meatgrinder like the typical metrosexuals will. Yes, I'm a metrosexual but I'm one with guns.

Besides, if shit really hits the fan I'll be the first one to called to serve my country, being a reservist and all that. No worries if that happens as everything is taken care of for me.

--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

dude (1.50 / 2) (#62)
by army of phred on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:52:58 PM EST

You will be the pussy getting off'ed and dying with a look on your face saying "wtf? I thought I was special?!?!"

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
If you say so /nt (none / 1) (#63)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:55:50 PM EST


--
"My mental image of you is Wyatt's brother Chet in Weird Science."
- Parent ]

Oil pricing (2.80 / 10) (#36)
by cdguru on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 12:15:12 PM EST

I suggest you do some review of how oil is priced.  You bring out a commodities exchange and then blissfully ignore that the exchange process is virtually assured to turn any sort of supply and demand pricing on its ear.

Not to get too far into how commodities exchanges work, you need to understand that you aren't buying oil on a commodities exchange.  You are speculatively buying a contract for oil delivered three months from today.

Tne nature of commodities pricing being speculative and a "futures market" means there is nearly a 100% total disconnect between oil pricing and current demand.  This is partly intentional and has its roots in how grain and livestock were sold in the 1800's.  Why are we selling oil on a commodities exchange in futures trading today is not exactly clear.  It does add some price stability to the consumer market, but also removes virtually any connection between supply and demand.

So oil is priced speculatively on the exchange.  This means that when a barrel of oil is priced at $75, it is not "current" pricing at all.  It is what is being promised for a delivery three months in the future.  At that time it is entirely possible the market will have changed and consumers will be paying more or less for gasoline refined from that oil.

Another delay that entiers the picture is once the oil is delivered it is refined and distributed.  It takes anywhere from two to four weeks between the time crude oil is delivered to the refinery and gasoline, diesel oil and other products are sold to the consumer.  This distribution process, at least in the US, is another source of separation between the actual pricing of the oil supply and pricing of it to the consumer.

Yes, this does mean that when you hear about an "oil price increase" and see the gas station on the corner increase their prices the next day it is a completely separate event.  There is no connection whatsoever between these two, other than in a marketing and sales sense.  It would be far more correct to note an oil price increase (or decrease) and see the price change four months later when that oil finally reaches the corner gas station.  But that is not the way it is happening in the US today.  Nor do I really believe it is happening that way in any part of the world where oil is traded on a commodities exchange.

Unless you understand this three to four month disconnect, you can't possibly understand the "cost" of oil products.

Another factor here is the freight train aspect of this.  Let's say you have a 100 car freight train going 60MPH and hit the brakes.  How long is it before the last car stops?  Well, it turns out there is a lot of slack in the car couplings and it takes a long time and a great deal of distance before the last car finally stops.  The oil market we have gotten ourselves into is very, very much like that.  If we were dealing with delivery times alone it would be significant, but adding the three month futures contracts into it is a huge distortion.  This means that should the demand for oil change drastically - for whatever reason - we would be in for some pretty wild times.

It is not as simple as turning off the tap.  Let's say that GM's new partnership results in the release of an all-electric car that charges in 30 minutes with a 300 mile range and sells for $12,000.  Think it would sell?  What do you think would happen?

It would likely be a disaster for the world at large.  Why?  Because we have at least a six month long "freight train effect" of oil on its way here.  There is nothing that could be done to stop it and with a sudden change in demand there would be no market.  We are likely talking about an effect on the global economy that would be in the billions.  And it would mean a bottom-up restructuring of just about everything from the farmer with a tractor to the assembly line workers to a guy delivering potato chips to the mini mart at a gas station.

Be careful what you wish for.

Excellent comment (3.00 / 7) (#39)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 05:15:32 PM EST

But your last comment is not realistic. It would take several years for even a perfect electric energy delivery system to permeat the market. Your argument also assumes that GM would have the manufacturing capacity to flood the market with new technology. Not realistic.

Suddden economic collaps in China (e.g civil war) would have a much bigger impact on oil prices in the short run.

Isn't one reason for the lag that oil is often delivered in freighters that has to go for weeks to get to the market?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

On the 21st of each month (3.00 / 3) (#95)
by Apuleius on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:40:54 PM EST

That is when trading for the month's contracts stop, and those who hold them arrange delivery. The week before the 21st is when all of the hedge funds unload their contracts for this month and buy contracts for several months ahead. (Well, most of them do it long before the contracts come due, but the 21st is the hard deadline). So on the 21st, the contracts are in the hands of people who actually want oil. That tempers down the speculation considerably.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Useless technical note (3.00 / 3) (#111)
by Verbophobe on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 02:21:12 AM EST

Great comment, but I'd like to mention that

Let's say you have a 100 car freight train going 60MPH and hit the brakes.  How long is it before the last car stops?  Well, it turns out there is a lot of slack in the car couplings and it takes a long time and a great deal of distance before the last car finally stops.

...is incorrect. If you model the entire freight as a point mass, since braking force is constant throughout the deceleration the braking distance is thus a function of speed and mass, because for each unit of distance, you're dissipating a fixed amount of kinetic energy.

Generalizing this to a long freight train makes you realise that, if the braking force is only applied to the locomotive in front of the convoy, then each car behind it will overcome the slack and then press itself against the car in front.  While this will provide for a fairly bumpy stop, the distance the locomotive will have traveled from the moment of application of the brake to the moment the speed is zero is the same regardless of the slack in any link.

Otherwise, though, nice post.

Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration
[ Parent ]

Wait A Second (3.00 / 4) (#123)
by Western Infidels on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 01:29:11 PM EST

The nature of commodities pricing being speculative and a "futures market" means there is nearly a 100% total disconnect between oil pricing and current demand. ... It does add some price stability to the consumer market, but also removes virtually any connection between supply and demand.

A 100% disconnect? I'm no economist, but I just can't buy this.

Consider: Saudi Arabia has historically acted as a world-oil-price-stabalizer by adjusting their oil production. That couldn't work if there were no connection between price, supply, and demand.

Consider: Transactions of any sort involve time, essentially by definition. When dealing with commodities futures, it may be three months. When dealing with groceries at your local store, it may be 15 minutes. When dealing with a caterer, auto dealer, or mail-order house it may be a week.

If the mere presence of a delay between payment and delivery of something caused a "100% total disconnect" between pricing and demand, there could be no connection between pricing and demand, for any good or service, ever.

If it's the length of that delay that is the critical characteristic, the situation is hardly better: What would be the magic threshhold for "100% total disconnect"? What magic interval assures a solid connection?

When talking about the Peak Oil problem, with its decade-oriented timescale, three months looks pretty trivial. Markets of all kinds may have their reflexes tempered by the latencies built in to them, and they may sometimes veer in the "wrong" direction for a while. But that short term noise averages out in the long run.

[ Parent ]

Interesting... (1.20 / 5) (#132)
by DDS3 on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 11:04:12 AM EST

Consider: Transactions of any sort involve time, essentially by definition. When dealing with commodities futures, it may be three months. When dealing with groceries at your local store, it may be 15 minutes. When dealing with a caterer, auto dealer, or mail-order house it may be a week.

Interesting, but I don't buy it.  The price you paid for those groceries is based on the price the grocer paid.  The price you paid for oil is based on the price someone speculated you might be willing to pay some three or four months back.  Worse, the price you pay at the pump is not reflecting the price the oil company paid to get the oil, it's not reflecting the price the gas station paid to get his tanks filled.  When the cost of oil goes up...three or four months out, the price at the pump goes up now.  When the price falls, the price at the pump falls some three weeks, a month, or more, later.  The oil companies live in an artifically manipulated economy.  Contrary to popular myth, the oil companies DO NOT participate in a free economy.  As some economists say, in a bad oil market, the oil companies win.  In a good oil market, the oil companies really win.  In other words, since they manipulate supply and demand, they profit on both sides.  So yes, the time differential serves to benefit the oil companies because it allows them artificially profit...thusly, there is a huge disconnect.  Having said that, the disconnect is NOT based soley on time.  Moreso, it's based on the fact that time is used to hide their market manipulations.

[ Parent ]

A question (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by Herring on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 08:50:54 PM EST

I have heard in a couple of places (no references) that if the car fleet of the US matched the fuel effeciency of the car fleet of Europe, then the US could be a net exporter of oil. Is this true? Can anyone supply a reference?

For the record, I realise that USian gallons are smaller than Imperial gallons.

Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you

An answer (3.00 / 3) (#60)
by glor on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:45:26 PM EST

Just over half of the oil consumed by the US is gasoline and diesel; the rest is petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, asphalt, etc. I don't know whether this is a fundamental limit or whether it's determined by market forces (my guess is the latter).

Also, the US imports about 60% (just over half) of its petroleum products, crude and processed.

If fuel economy were doubled, the US would consume half as much gasoline, which would halve imports, since those figures are presently the same by some coincidence. But imports would still be necessary. Note that US oil production has been falling since 1970.

Sources: us transport oil consumption fraction (from Google); Historical US oil production (with ANWAR).

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Doubtful. (none / 0) (#94)
by Apuleius on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:38:55 PM EST

Distances in the US are too great to solve just by upping gas mileage


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
O.K. . . What is your point? (1.60 / 5) (#46)
by Tango Down on Wed Jul 05, 2006 at 09:26:18 PM EST

You seem to be giving a rather boring lecture on market economics, and why oil is "Out of the loop" since it is a limited quantity. This is true, but it is also nothing new. Many commodities are a limited resource in the same fashion as petroleum. Gold, Diamonds, whale oil, yada yada yada. If you are suggesting that oil has reached a peak, and that production will not be able to meet demand, you are wrong. There are many untapped fields, and Saudi Arabia will do for now. There seems to be some type of condescending message to SUV drivers, in which case, stuff it. The countries that produce oil will be corrupt with or without the U.S. For the next few years oil prices will be high because of increased demand from China. We will either drive smaller cars, or find new sources, also nothing new. If you are implying that a crisis is looming, also bullshit; oil is a largely luxury commodities in the U.S. and barring an all out war in Saudi Arabia, or Iranian attacks on oil shipments and refineries, we will be fine. Oil will run out, or become incredibly expensive sometime in the next 40 years, and as such I am all for alternative sources, but this article is kind of silly. We have not reached the "Peak", or at least this article provides no evidence that we have. All natural resources are of course finite quantities, but did we need this long, and in my opinion slightly pretentious, article to tell us that?

My point (none / 0) (#93)
by Apuleius on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:38:15 PM EST

Economic theory does not predict that we will find enough energy to enjoy our standard of living. Only that we will try.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
that much is true (none / 1) (#99)
by Delirium on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:02:23 AM EST

However, I don't see many people suggesting that we won't find energy, only that it may be more expensive than it has been in the past. That alone will not necessarily be decisive when it comes to standard of living, I don't think. It may slow an increase in our standard of living, but I don't think we're all going to go back to living as if it were 1850 or something, each tilling individual family farms in Kansas and largely subsisting in highly local economies.

Basically I think technology has advanced and is still advancing so quickly that any increase in energy prices is swamped by how much more we can do with the same energy and less work—even if oil were several times as expensive today as it is, our standard of living would still be substantially better than it was even as recently as 1950.

[ Parent ]

The problem with this: (none / 1) (#121)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 08:20:02 AM EST

Democracy gets unstable under economic stagnation. Look at Argentine. Since their golden days in the fifties they have seen a lot of trouble. Part of that is incompetent rule and part of that is the culture of Peronistic sentimentalism. Argentine was one of riches countries in the world in the fifties, now it can barely call itself part of the 1st world. Following this stagnation, the Argentinian democracy has not been stable.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Touchy Touchy (none / 1) (#122)
by Western Infidels on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 11:48:45 AM EST

There seems to be some type of condescending message to SUV drivers, in which case, stuff it.

Did someone hit a nerve? The only mention of SUVs that I noticed in this article was:

"...high prices can persuade folks to start conserving, which is why SUV sales are tanking..."

That sounds like a pretty dispassionate way to mention a couple of uncontroversial facts. It's certainly not condescending or in any sense a "message to SUV drivers."

[ Parent ]

Diamonds correction (1.20 / 5) (#131)
by DDS3 on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 10:48:57 AM EST

Diamonds are actually one of the most readily available minerals on earth.  The ONLY reason they are scarce is because the market is 100% manipulated by global cartels.  In some places in Africa, diamons are collected by placing a bucket around ones slave labor and have them crawl the length of a beach.  Buckets get filled rather rapidily.

There exist what are called rare gem stomes.  Some gems truly are rare.  Diamonds are simply not one of them.  Think about it.  The process which makes diamonds is the process which fuels our planet plus the most common mineral (carbon).  It's been around for billions of years.  As such, there exists billions of years worth of factory output.  Not to mention, we can actually make man-made diamons, in almost any color, better, bigger, and stronger, than can be naturally found.

If you want more information, feel free to do searches on topics such as: "The Rise and Fall of Diamonds", "De Beers", "Diamond Cartels", "Diamond Buyers", etc...


[ Parent ]

Lots of sillyness. (2.28 / 7) (#53)
by Eivind on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 08:20:32 AM EST

your story is a total mixup. Lots of trivialities. Lots of misunderstandings. Lots of getting hung up on one detail, while ignoring the elephant in the room.

Examples:

You point out that a higher price will tend to make people buy a little less oil short-term, and a lot less oil long-term. Trivially true. Nothing special for oil, trivially true for any product.

You point out that the production-capacity for oil cannot be changed overnigth, but that it takes years for new capacity to come online. Trivially true. Nothing special for oil, equally true for any product that requires heavy industries.

You point out that the ultimate max production of oil is limited by the amount that is "down there". Trivially true. Nothing special for oil. Equally true for any product where we use a noticeable fraction of the easily accessible resources.

You claim that the consumer can't easily quickly change his fuel-needs. Which is untrue. On the contrary I would suggest most of us could cut our fuel-consumption in half, or quarter it inside of a month with no large changes in life-style.

It's trivially true that there will come some day that has the highest production of oil ever. For the simple reason that oil is a finite resource. Trivially true. But you completely fail to even try to explain why this in any way shape or form will be a disaster. The peak would be a problem if there was no long term alternative to oil. But there is.

You also fail to notice (or atleast don't mention) the fact that oil ain't just used for vehicles. A lot of it is also burnt in stationary plants for producing heat and/or electricity. This could (and would on the day when that's more economical than oil) be replaced with any number of other energy-sources.

I agree $100/barrel is perfectly possible. Indeed it already happened. The average price for december 1979 was $38/barrel, which adjusted for inflation since then works out to $100 in 2005-dollars.

Where I live, consumers currently pay on the order of $320/barrel for petrol. Still this hasn't caused a collapse of society, on the contrary the average person around here has never driven as much as today, nor has he ever paid so small a part of his wage-check to do so.

Summary: You're likely rigth that oil will remain expensive. Perhaps even rise significantly higher than today. You fail to even adress why this is such a huge deal.

I completely disagree with you (3.00 / 3) (#58)
by The Real ChefSalad on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 12:23:03 PM EST

First, he was trying to include a primer on microeconomics for those who haven't been to college or flunked out. Naturally that included walking people through trivialities. He did it inline and a decent job at that.

$100/barrel for crude oil translates to $400-$500 per barrel of petrol/gasoline. Apples to oranges on the $320/barrel figure of yours.

Lastly, while we could easily move to a different fuel source, it will require vast amounts of energy to replace or retool our existing infrastructure. If we try to do after we run out, we won't have enough oil to make the switch. That's the true problem with peak oil.

Furthermore, what alternatives do you suggest? We could go with alcohol instead of gasoline and vegatable oil instead of deisel, but those require serious changes in infrastructure and equipment AND serious amounts of land. Oh, and corn sucks for alcohol. We would need to use sugar cane and sugar beets (mostly beets which are sweeter than cane). I'm not going to go further into this; you can do that on your own. Trust me though, no alternative can replace oil. Not one. Not even all of them together.

Please don't anonymise me again, rusty. I'm having a hard time remembering what my current user name is.
[ Parent ]

I'm interested in one of your points (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by hatshepsut on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 04:21:55 PM EST

You claim that the consumer can't easily quickly change his fuel-needs. Which is untrue. On the contrary I would suggest most of us could cut our fuel-consumption in half, or quarter it inside of a month with no large changes in life-style.

I'm interested in what you would suggest for cutting fuel consumption in half (let alone to a quarter) without large changes in lifestyle.

Before you ask: I drive to work (public transit would take me 2-3 times as long). My household has two adults, but only 1 car, the car is rarely used on weekends. Our house has recently been renovated, including a new high-efficiency boiler (natural gas), double-glazed low-E windows, R20 insulation (better in the attic). We have an air conditioner, but only use it when the temperature and humidity both spike when we expect company.

I would consider a new vehicle, switching to public transit, or finding a job closer to home to be "major lifestyle changes". That said, I would welcome any reasonable suggestions....

[ Parent ]

you've already done the cutting (3.00 / 4) (#86)
by Delirium on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 10:03:47 PM EST

The vast majority of Americans don't fit any of the criteria you just listed, which is why the vast majority of Americans can easily cut their fuel usage significantly with no major changes in lifestyle, which is why fuel demand is not really inelastic—the price just hasn't gotten high enough for people to bother.

[ Parent ]
Well written, nicely done, (2.66 / 3) (#54)
by bushmanburn on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 08:37:41 AM EST

I abstained because there is so much of this on the internet and I don't care much about this subject anymore. People seem not to be that concerned about it either, even though we should be. This is sorta the same thing as ranting about GWB or John Kerry or Bill Clinton over and over again.

Liberal hack posts excuses for oil price increases (1.14 / 14) (#59)
by Film at minus 11 on Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 01:25:33 PM EST


Film at -11.


start with a fallacy, all else must be bunk (1.42 / 7) (#115)
by iggymanz on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 12:20:27 PM EST

"Oil is getting scarce".  No, production just keeps going up and up, and there is no shortage of either fossil fuel nor specifically oil on this planet.  Getting really granular in scope, most sweet light crude is still in the ground.  There are only price hikes and bottlenecks in our distribution system.  But the oil companies love people like you, a high price makes them eversomuch more profitable at every stage of their processes.  Do you own stock?

Cite Sources (3.00 / 2) (#117)
by LittleZephyr on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 10:15:14 PM EST


(\♥/) What if instead of posting that comment,
(0.-) you had actually taken a knife and stabbed
("_") me in the eye? You murderer. ~ Rusty

[ Parent ]
Hubbert's Peak (3.00 / 2) (#118)
by Western Infidels on Sat Jul 08, 2006 at 03:43:03 PM EST

Hubbert's peak theory predicts that production of a natural resource rises until about half of the exploitable portion is left. Your observations - "production just keeps going up and up" and "most crude is still in the ground" do not function as objections to the theory; they are in fact a perfect description of the pre-peak period.

[ Parent ]
STFU = (1.07 / 13) (#116)
by CodeWright on Fri Jul 07, 2006 at 01:06:53 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

Nope (1.66 / 3) (#124)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 08:16:10 PM EST

There is no shortage of oil yet, and won't be for at least a hundred years, maybe longer. Furthermore, we are just now discovering efficient means of turning LOTS of things into short hydrocarbon chains, so in all likelihood we'll have cheap syngas in 20 years time. Further, while most people don't realize it, most of our energy comes from coal, hydropower, and nuclear. Even if we could only produce enough biodiesel, ethanol, and so on to fuel the support infrastructure for those other forms of energy, it would be more than enough to allow us to carry on, but the reality is, we can produce enough of those to meet demand if we just scale up infrastructure, WHICH IS HAPPENING. We will be off of oil for environmental reasons LONG before it runs out. The Chinese might be fucked, but that's not our problem.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

For Christ's sake (none / 1) (#125)
by Apuleius on Fri Jul 14, 2006 at 01:26:14 AM EST

Read my earlier articles. The oil shortage has already begun. And there is no end in sight to it.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Yes, but (1.50 / 2) (#127)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 01:26:45 PM EST

Your earlier articles are wrong. That's the point here.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Some simple facts (1.66 / 3) (#129)
by DDS3 on Mon Jul 17, 2006 at 10:33:28 AM EST

1, Oil is not scarce!  Not in the least!  There is now, more known oil in the world then there has ever been at any point in time in history.  Notice the keyword, "known".

2, As oil prices stay above $65-$70 a barrel, alternate fuel sources become readily viable.  Note that ethanol is not, in the least, a viable fuel source...at least not from corn.  Using corn for ethanol has only caused the price per gallon to rise...and that's not counting the subsidies provided by the government.  The only people that ethanol helps are corn growers as it allows them to make way more on corn than they could otherwise.  Ethanol from hemp (IT IS NOT POT), on the other hand, is probably a very viable source yet it's illegal in the US.  This is because it competes with petrochemical and cotton companies on too many fronts.

3, Oil is "scarce" for several simple facts.  Excess oil which would otherwise be available in some markets are often dumped on third world countries.  What they lose in dumping is made up for in scarcity in the other large markets.  Two, the oil companies refuse to make new refineries which can process dirty ("high sulfer") crude.  This dirty crude can be bought for roughly half the price of high quality, clean crude.  It costs roughly 1/3 more to process and yeilds slightly less.  This means the oil companies can make roughly the same money either way...but why should they as they have to invest in new refineries.

4, No incentive exist to tap known oil supplies because as refinery capacity does not exist.  Plus, by increasing capacity, you are increasing supply which decreases the price.  This is not in the best interest of the oil companies.  After all, the oil companies have purposely gone out of their way to decrease excess capacity over the last two decades.

Okay (none / 0) (#135)
by Pholostan on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 08:30:55 PM EST

Care to back your facts up? There is plenty of info out there that all the big fields are already being tapped to nearly the limit. Where is all the wast amounts of oil you are talking about? Tar sands? Sorry, not viable, se earlier article. Coal? Sorry again, se earlier article. If there was crude possible to extract out of the ground, somebody would, I think. So where is it?

- And blood tears I cry Endless grief remained inside
[ Parent ]
I don't have anything to point... (none / 0) (#137)
by DDS3 on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 11:28:35 PM EST

..you too...but this is commonly known and readily available information.

The "big fields" are primarily "providing quality crude".  Based on the market price, it's the best place to get.  As the price goes up it becomes easy to reach the VAST known fields of oil which have yet to be touched because market economics did not allow for it.  Once the price per barrlet hit $60/barrel, the other fields became open targets.  The only question is...when...not if the oil companies will start tapping these.

Also, the "tapped" condition you speak of is ONLY talking about low-sulfer crude.  High-sulfer crude is readily available.  The problem here is, very few refineries exist to process it.  Having said that, there exists far, far, far larger fields of high-sulfer crude than exist of high-sulfer.

Simply put, if you ran an oil company, which would you go for, easy to tap oil of high quality which is cheap to get or lower quality oil which required more processing, requires additional processing capacity be built, and is harder to get to?  The obvious answer is you would want to dry up the first before you tackle the second.

Long story short, even the friggen oil companies are happy to point out...there is now more KNOWN oil in the world than has evern been known before in the history of man kind.  That, of course, does not mean it's all of equal quality and equally easy to get to.  Economics drive where it comes from.


[ Parent ]

hmmm (none / 0) (#138)
by DDS3 on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 11:39:09 PM EST

You know...after I posted I realized that it seems like you completely ignored the content of my original post.  The information is pretty well laid out and it's not hard to comprehend.  The fact that so many are willingly low-balling that post versus ask questions or heck, perhaps begin to check for themselves really speaks loudly about the quality of people here these days.  The fact that you replied at least puts you shoulders above the others.  Heck, that post had two trolls rate it right off.  I still have another post which was troll rated about diamonds which did provide information to do your own searches...even listed the name of a friggen book!

I mean come on.  Nothing I've offered is contrary in the least to even the mass-feed miscomprehensions which you're spewing.  Seriously...did you bother to even think about what I wrote in the first post?  Did you give it pause to understand why you have the misunderstanding you have?

Simply put...are you and the others a thinking-man or are you a sock puppet, ignorantly parroting information without understanding the context in the least?


[ Parent ]

Dismal Science (none / 0) (#134)
by b00kanon on Tue Jul 18, 2006 at 04:31:03 PM EST

Umm Economics is called the Dismal science because alot of it is about really depressing trade offs.

The world gets very depressing when you look at it in economic terms.

Here a something I skimed just to make sure I was at least partially correct,
http://www.economics.unimelb.edu.au/TLdevelopment/econochat/Dixonecon00.html

from the text

"There was a final if unintentional, Malthusian legacy, one for which he was responsible along with Ricardo. Economics would hereafter be associated with the atmosphere of unrelieved pessimism and gloom, and economists would be given the name and reputation that survives to this day, that of Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science"


Given the serious content of the article (none / 1) (#136)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:23:00 PM EST

would a nice editor come in and take out some of the more egregious grammatical errors and typos?

Excellent primer on supply-demand theory, by the way.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

why is this in Meta? (none / 0) (#140)
by sye on Tue Aug 01, 2006 at 09:12:35 AM EST

K5 trench is for oil digging?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
commentary - For a better sye@K5
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ripple me ~~> ~allthingsgo: gateway to Garden of Perfect Brightess in CNY/BTC/LTC/DRK
rubbing u ~~> ~procrasti: getaway to HE'LL
Hey! at least he was in a stable relationship. - procrasti
enter K5 via Blastar.in

herbal petrol maybe the alternative (none / 0) (#143)
by chrisranjana on Wed Jan 03, 2007 at 12:35:35 PM EST

The world petrol crisis can be slowly solved by finding alternatives like these

http://www.pppindia.com/bb/why.htm

--------
chris,Director, Chrisranjana Software and Solutions PVT LTD,
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India,
Cu

Amity of recommend (none / 0) (#144)
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Peak Oil: the next big thing (Part Three) | 144 comments (115 topical, 29 editorial, 1 hidden)
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