This blog serves the purpose of educating the public on important issues, specifically peak oil, sustainability, and all matters associated with those correlated subjects.

“A vegetarian diet, particularly if you eat organic as much as possible, limits toxic exposure. Many pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins are concentrated as you move up the food chain: when eating meat and dairy products - high on the food chain - choose food from organically raised animals. Among fish, be aware that tuna and swordfish, big fish that eat little fish, are much likelier to have dangerously elevated levels of mercury. Little fish like sardines are safer. Vegetables, legumes, fruits, and grains are even lower on the food chain. To avoid pesticide residues in your food, it’s especially important to buy organic versions of those foods most likely to be contaminated. For produce, be guided by the Environmental Working Group, which in 2003 created rankings based on US government tests. The produce with the highest levels of pesticides were peaches, strawberries, apples, spinach, nectarines, celery, pears, cherries, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers. Washing and peeling fruits and vegetables will remove some but not all toxins. Crops grown locally and eaten in season are less likely to be sprayed postharvest and thus, even if not organic, may have lower pesticide levels. Organic fruits, vegetables, and grains may also have higher vitamin and mineral levels than conventionally grown crops.”

—   Timoth McCall, M.D.

Oil & The Economy: Stretched To Breaking Point


Stretched to Breaking Point

At this point I move beyond what was discussed at the conference to restate how I see the global picture today. There are two themes related to oil supply and demand that have been getting progressively more tense since the low oil prices that marked the first phase of the credit and oil crisis in 2008. Both of these are set against the evolving credit crisis which threatens to dwarf supply constraints with even more severe demand destruction.

Violence, unrest and tension in the Middle East

It does not appear that the Middle East can now go back to the undemocratic, authoritarian but otherwise generally stable regimes that previously held sway for several decades now. Any number of scenarios could further disrupt livelihoods and oil supply in the region.

How long can China increase oil consumption?

Despite global oil supply breaking slightly above the plateau range of the last few years, most of the growth in demand for oil in China has been met by demand destruction in OECD countries. How much longer before Chinese growth (ie. more than just a ‘slowdown’) is capped by lack of oil or lack of a world economy to export to?

From Phil Hart; http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9232#more

“A low-fat plant-based diet would not only lower the heart attack rate about 85 percent, but would lower the cancer rate 60 percent.”

—   William Castelli, M.D., Director, Framingham Heart Study; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

“Now some people scoff at vegetarians, but they have only 40 percent of our cancer rate. They outlive us. On average they outlive other men by about six years now.”

—   William Castelli, M.D., Director, Framingham Heart Study; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

“The beef industry has contributed to more deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.”

—   Neal Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

“Five to ten percent of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. By contrast, 70 to 80 percent have been linked to diet and other behavioral factors.”

—   Karen Emmons, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

Risk of death from heart disease for vegetarians compared to nonvegetarians: Half

Some Statistics Regarding Health

Americans killed annually by diseases due to excess weight: 280,000

Increased risk of heart disease for obese people: Double to triple

Increased risk of gallstones for obese people: Double to triple

Increased risk of diabetes for very obese people: 40 times greater


Obesity rate among the general U.S. population: 18 percent

Obesity rate among vegetarians: 6 percent

Obesity rate among vegans: 2 percent


U.S. children who are overweight or obese: 25 percent

U.S. vegetarian children who are overweight or obese: 8 percent

U.S. children who eat the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and grains: 1 percent

U.S. vegan children who eat the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, and grains: 50 percent

Peak oil is real and will stunt any economic recovery


During the last century, society squandered 500 million years of captured sunlight on drag races, traffic jams, private jets and overheated office buildings

Oil company cheerleaders proclaiming huge supplies of oil are dead wrong. Peak oil is as real as rain, and it is here now. Not 2050. Not 2020. Now. Oil production has been flat since 2005. This is not by choice. The producers cannot increase production because new fields cannot keep pace with declining production from old fields. The plateau is the top of the global depletion curve. Furthermore, this end of energy growth only accounts for volume. Energy quality and net-energy are falling like stones as environmental devastation increases. Every producing oil field on earth is in decline, unless it is brand new, and peak discoveries are well behind us. Meanwhile, the aggregate decline rate appears to be about 5 per cent per year. To maintain world production, we would need to bring a new Saudi Arabia – equivalent to three billion barrels annually - into full production every three years. There exists on earth not one single promising field that remotely approaches those requirements.

When you read or hear about “10 billion barrels” of oil discovered somewhere, here is how to think about that - a third of that is probably not recoverable or entirely illusory. The recoverable portion will require a billion barrels of oil equivalent energy to produce; in the tar sands it would take three billion barrels. What is left, about five or six billion barrels, equates to about a two-month supply for humanity. Two months. We will not “run out of oil” because, simply, we will never get it all. What petroleum geologists point out is that all oil fields have a production curve, a peak and a decline. Therefore, the earth’s total supply has a peak and decline. 

But that is not all, the volume decline includes a decline in quality and net energy. As oil fields reach old age, energy returned on energy invested plummets and production costs soar for a lower quality product. Over the last century, oil producers have high-graded earth’s energy storehouse, and the best net-energy reserves disappeared 70 years ago. Oil in its heyday – the 1930 and 1940s – produced 100:1 net-energy, a hundred barrels out for one barrel of energy invested. Today, oil fields range from 20:1 to 10:1. The United States average is 11:1. We are now digging into the 3:1 net-energy tar sands. Energy expert Howard Odum warned of the net energy curve in the 1970s and geologist Marion King Hubbert graphed the oil decline in the 1950s.

Charles Hall, at the State University of New York, has calculated that it is not possible to run our complex civilisation on a net-energy below about 6:1 - because society needs that reserve energy to run its transportation, agriculture, health systems and so forth. The tar sands 3:1 net energy is simply pathetic. A salmon does better chasing herring. An Amish farmer gets 10:1 net energy with hand tools. I suspect most of the industry cheerleaders talking about “giant discoveries” and “energy gluts” know this. Still, they spin every new oil discovery as an arrival in the Promised Land, pump stock plays and promote their industry. In our world, that is legal. But it is not really honest. In April 2011, chief economist of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol revealed what the industry knows: “We think that the crude oil production has already peaked, in 2006.”

And since the population is growing, peak oil per capita occurred in 1979. We have now reached the absolute peak. Without increasing energy sources, we cannot increase economic activity. We can print money and harvest the earth’s assets and make it look like growth – for a while – but the piper will be paid. Nature shall not be mocked. In 2008, when the economy appeared to be roaring and traders pitched mortgage-backed securities on unsuspecting clients, energy production had ceased growing. As a result, the oil price almost tripled from $50 per barrel to $147. This equated to a $3 trillion increase to the world’s annual energy bill, which sucked discretionary income from every other market and helped crash the global economy. 

When the economy collapsed, oil prices fell. But as economies recover even slightly, the price will rise again since supply is restrained. Blaming the US President Barack Obama for rising energy prices is another con job. Blame nature. She just cannot make more of the stuff fast enough. During the last century, society burned the best half of recoverable hydrocarbons that represented 500 million years of captured sunlight; a one-time storehouse of high quality, concentrated energy. We squandered it on drag races, traffic jams, private jets and overheated office buildings. We burned this valuable asset and called it “income.” If you did that in your home, you would go bankrupt. Peak oil is real. The consequences – at best – will be a slowly scaled-down industrial civilisation. If we continue to ignore these facts, the consequences will be far worse. Nature just is not sentimental.

“Studies indicate that vegetarians often have lower morbidity and mortality rates…Not only is mortality from coronary artery disease lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, but vegetarian diets have also been successful in arresting coronary artery disease. Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for…obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types of cancer.”

—   American Dietetic Association Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets