free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 350. IS THE CURRENT FOOD CRISIS DUE TO PEAK OIL?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

350. IS THE CURRENT FOOD CRISIS DUE TO PEAK OIL?

ANSWER: No.

True to form, the peak oil doomsquad can barely conceal its glee at the recent food riots. Like our old buddy Jack from peakoil.com, who is now sporting this nifty new sig:
Dieoff - fun to watch, better with hot buttered popcorn.
Some of these bottomfeeders are now trying to pretend that they predicted the food crisis. Who are they trying to kid? We all know what they predicted. They said oil would peak, and the resulting price rise would cause food prices to skyrocket due to the dependence of modern agriculture on oil for machinery, transport and fertilizer. To paraphrase Colin Campbell and Richard Heinberg: The world population rose with oil, and will decline with oil, back to pre-oil numbers.

So, is that what's happening?

Definitely not.

First, world oil production isn't even dropping. The price of rice began to skyrocket in January of this year, when crude oil production was setting a new all-time record.

Second, although high food prices do have a small oil price component, there are clearly many more factors in play than just oil prices, and all informed commentators recognize this:
"The UN's special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, earlier blamed the [food] crisis on biofuels, speculation on commodities markets, and EU export subsidies."Source
And:
"A freakish cocktail of factors, including poor global crop yields, increased demand from the likes of China and India, and a weak U.S. dollar have made food prices soar. Yet many farmers and commodities buyers suggested yesterday that another factor has exacerbated these price increases, and incited unpredictable gyrations in the futures market: the growing clout of financial speculators, like large index funds and hedge funds."Source
It's gotten so bad that the CFTC (Commodities Futures Trading Association -- the agency which regulates futures exchanges in the U.S.) had to convene a conference last week to address irate farmers complaining not about the surge of diesel prices, but about the surge in speculative money causing havoc in the futures markets. Havoc to a degree that farmers are having trouble marketing their product.

Prof. James Hamilton of Econbrowser also finds the feverish activity since the beginning of 2008 suspect. Regarding the current price surge, he writes:
It seems to me we should be looking for a single explanation behind the common behavior of the group, rather than try to develop a separate theory for aluminum, barley, coffee, cocoa, copper, corn, cotton, gold, lead, oats, oil, silver, tin, and wheat.
Indeed, it seems very unlikely that we are suddenly running out of everything at the same time. He continues:
I also find it implausible to attribute the commodity price increase to a surge in demand. The economic news over the last three months has been very convincing that output is slowing, not accelerating.
In other words, much of the price surge since Jan. 2008 is a financial phenomenon, driven by the Fed's rapid interest rate cuts. This has created negative real interest rates, causing people to flee to commodities in order to preserve value. It's the same conditions which led the Hunt Brothers to hoard silver in the 1970s. If history is a guide, the bubble will pop when the Fed pulls the trigger, and begins to raise interest rates.

Another big factor, particularly in the case of rice, is plain panic, and the hoarding induced by it.

Yes, the price of food has risen, and poses a threat to the well-being of the world's poorest people. Does this mean the doomer shitheads get to say "told you so", break out the party horns, and prematurely ejaculate on their gold hoards and nitropacked food supplies?

Well, they're probably going to do that anyway, but back here in reality... No. There isn't a die-off until the people actually die.

The current food crisis is not the die-off for a number of reasons. First of all, the currently hungry people don't need to die. They're hungry due to lack of money, and there is certainly enough money in the world to get them fed. Dog and Cat food sales in the U.S. in 2005 were $14.3 billion Source , about 20 times more money than the paltry $700 million the World Food Program now needs to address the emergency needs created by the current food crisis.

A die-off, in the strict biological sense, occurs when the environment cannot physically produce enough food to sustain the population of the species in question. Therefore, even if 100 million people starve to death due to the current crisis, it won't be a die-off. Because it is patently obvious that we can feed those people if we want to. Therefore, if they are allowed to die, it would have to be labeled as what it really is -- a "let them die off"" or "kill off" or "mass murder", not a die-off.

Furthermore, there is a whole laundry list of things which can be done to improve the situation. For starters, we can get serious, and shut down the corn ethanol scam. Beyond that, this article (and the related links, all well worth reading) in the latest Economist discuss some of the deeper structural changes which will be needed to keep everyone fed.

Also, it's not at all clear that the current situation will be bad in the long run. Low agricultural prices have caused a lot of poverty in the past, and high food prices aren't all bad -- they bring greater prosperity to farmers and the countryside in developing countries. Only time can tell whether the current situation is a catastrophe or an opportunity.
by JD

67 Comments:

At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 7:12:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

If you comment, please use the Name/URL option instead of Anonymous. Just type in a screen-name and you're done. There's no need to register or anything. It improves the conversation if we don't have too many anons.
Thank you, JD

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 8:02:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Freak Oil said...

My problem with the die off concept is it is like the following video....

http://youtube.com/watch?v=qLlUgilKqms

We can see problems coming and there is time between each issue to make decisions on how to proceed. Doom prophecies seem to count on a precisely timed culmination of factors so much that taken all at once the system collapses. but in reality we live life one day at a time, one decision at a time...and we see what needs to be done and we have the capability to act pro-actively.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 8:50:00 AM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

Why don't you try writing something which actually concerns peak oil instead of disputing some looney's viewpoint? I think spewing out hundreds of words and carefully writing arguments about something plainly obvious is just stupid.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 8:53:00 AM PDT, Anonymous aRAM said...

"Does this mean the doomer shitheads get to say "told you so", break out the party horns, and prematurely ejaculate on their gold hoards and nitropacked food supplies?"

That and referring to the subhuman peak oil trash as "bottomfeeders" is just classic.

Thank you for being providing a balanced counterpoint to that crowd that is so invested in their peak oil lie and all the doomsday rhetoric they use to keep themselves warm at night.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Demesure said...

Doomers are by nature maniaco-depressive waiting for their fantasy doom to fulfill.

So if this bubble is the only occasion for them to rejoice on buttered popcorn before suicide when hungover time comes, let it be.

What is nice with the web is all their BS is archived and when the party will be over, we'll put their head in their shit and say "so you said so ?"

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 1:06:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Europac said...

Excellent stuff JD!

The Fed is an important and largely invisible culprit. This is absolutely right. All the food is priced in US Dollars and when the Fed lowers interest rates to 1 or 2 percent, that money is devalued - this causes the price of food priced in that money to soar. This is what we have now.

But Jim rogers (who is probably the smartest speculator on commodities in history and a legend) says that even if the dollar was strong, commodities would be in a bull market. This is largely correct. Rogers studied the history of stock and commodities markets and found that they had bull and bear markets in 18 year cycles. What tends to happen is that when commodity prices are low, companies that consume commodities make tons of money whereas the low prices of commodities drive people away from investing in them (or the companies that produce them - since the returns are so bad). What then happens is that demand grows gradually over time whereas supply stays stagnant. And then suddenly the cycles reverse - stocks that are overvalued plummet and then become stagnant because the operating costs of companies begins to soar. This hammers profit margins. And the built up demand and low supply pushes commodity prices higher and higher. Oil is a classic case of this. Oil prices were so depressed in the 1980s and 1990s that many oil companies did not bother to invest much in exploration (which is expensive once the easy to find stuff is gone, i.e. light sweet crude).

This commodity boom and bust cycle has occurred even when we haven't had fiat money. It happened even in the 19th century. This is a natural product of markets and capitalism and it is healthy. Easy money tends to distort the fluctuations, however.

For the record, I believe in Peak Oil and I do believe when that when global supply hits a peak and then declines, there will be economic havoc - stock markets will tumble, banks will struggle with bad debts on a scale that will make the recent credit problems appear like a walk in the park.

But to say that this would cause human populations to shrink by some 80 percent is nonsense. For example, in some third world nations such as India, more than 20 to 30 percent of the grains produced every year are wasted because of government inefficiency (the government is heavily involved in storage and distribution). If the government got the hell out of agriculture and instead allowed the market to do its work, much of this waste would be eliminated - and prices would come down. Also, Indian agriculture is NOT heavily dependent on oil inputs - most Indian farmers still use bullocks to plow their fields. Peak Oil is not going to change this! And India is the second largest wheat producer on earth!

So no, peak oil won't cause die-off. But it will cause economic havoc. Which is why, to protect one's wealth, some holdings of precious metals in physical form is not a bad idea in my opinion.

Lastly, on the speculation point, aside from the fact that low interest rates tend to lower the value of money and raise prices, they also feed the speculators because they can borrow massive sums of money at little cost and gamble on the markets. The Fed inflated the dotcom bubble and then the property bubble. Now there is hot money flowing into commodities - I disagree that this is a bubble just yet but if prices kept doubling year on year without a justification in supply/demand equations, then it will become a bubble eventually.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 1:11:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Europac said...

I also think that all the nonsense surrounding GM foods will soon disappear when we cannot afford all our snobbery around it - especially in Europe. GM foods should bring the second great revolution in modern agriculture. It should also drastically reduce our reliance on fertilizers and pesticides while boosting supply.

There is a reason why Monsanto stock is so expensive!

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are food plants under utilized out there. They are more or less ignored in the price cries.

http://www.greenfacts.org/glossary/mno/orphan-crops.htm

Another cheap option for getting yourself fed is potatoes. They are unpopular as a commodity because they don't travel well when raw. But as corn, rice and wheat price skyrocket, they are becoming hugely popular as food. There are 5,000 types of spuds.

You don't need a plot of land to grow a spud plant. They will pop out of a very large pot just as nice as you please.

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN0830529220080415?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&rpc=22&sp=true

JD, is Japan in food trouble? I heard there is severe flower and butter shortage there.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 1:46:00 PM PDT, Blogger craftycorner said...

I used the name/url option, it popped out anonymous! Using my Google...>:(, Name's Sandy

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 1:58:00 PM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

Since I believe it's quite clear we're already struggling with output and also because of the clearly different history of oil compared with other commodities I'd say calling oil a "classic example" and comparing it with other commodity price cycles is not quite appropriate.

And we've all heard that same economic mantra time and time (i can't say i've actually looked into it, but having heard this a million times i'm betting jim bob wasn't the one who originally came up with the idea) again, so pardon me if i don't think of some jim bob economist legendary or smart.

Whatever the future looks like i'm pretty sure it's not going to be the regular cycles because of the almost certain larger economic havoc (resulting from tightening oil markets) so i don't see the usefulness in citing them.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 2:25:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Europac said...

Babun (I hope I spelt it correctly),

Unlike you (and others like you who engage in intellectual masturbation on the internet), Jim "Bob" actually put his money where his mouth is. He retired at the age of 37 having made his pile on Wall Street after he got a Rhodes scholarship as a poor country boy in Alabama. He is worth a few billion - having it made it from scratch.

So I'd show a little more respect if I were you. If you really think you understand markets so well, pull your money out of your bank account (assuming you have any) and put it on the market to see how good you are. You may soon discover that intellectual masturbation counts for nothing in the real world.

I apologise for this, JD. You may well delete this comment. But when I encounter idiots and ignoramuses who mouth off without a single brain cell in their heads, I can't resist putting them in their place.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 3:37:00 PM PDT, Blogger Casey Burns said...

Awesome blog, keep up the great work.

"First, world oil production isn't even dropping."

Any references for this assertion?

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 3:55:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Any references for this assertion?

Link

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 4:18:00 PM PDT, Anonymous peak silly said...

Bloomberg has a nice article about how f***ked the commodities markets are because of speculation, not peak oil.

Wall Street Grain Hoarding Brings Farmers, Consumers Near Ruin

Is anyone else thinking about shorting oil soon? The peak oil hysteria is really getting insane.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 4:35:00 PM PDT, Anonymous peak silly said...

Oh and the Wall Street Journal mentioned why the price of oil has shot up and, of course, it has nothing to do with supply.

Linky


Like oil, world trading in most commodities is denominated in dollars. When the dollar declines, especially as fast as it has since September, commodity prices surge and speculators gamble on even further declines. As the nearby chart shows, since 2003 the dollar price of oil has climbed far more rapidly than has the euro price – 273% in dollars, compared to 146% in euros. Note in particular the oil spike in dollars since the second half of last year. This reflects the European Central Bank's sounder monetary management. And it means that had the dollar merely retained the same purchasing power as the euro, today's price of oil would be below $70 a barrel.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 5:04:00 PM PDT, Anonymous berniemac said...

I generally agree with what you say, but have a couple of points.

First, it is true that oil production has not peaked yet, and is still going up, albeit not by much. In spite of that, it is not keeping up with demand, hence the high price. Other factors are at play, like the US dollar depreciation and speculators, but adding millions of cars in Asia also has something to do with it.

Economists said that high prices for oil would spur exploration and production, and yet we barely manage to increase production at all. This too me is kind of ominous.

The biofuel craze is a direct consequence of this. The 'green' aspect of it is only a convenient justification; the real rationale is to increase domestic fuel production, at least in the US. They can see the writing on the wall, that is, even if oil production is stable or slightly going up, exports are declining. In that case oil prices do have a major impact on food prices.

As for the Fed hiking rates, this would cause a repeat of the 1930s in the US. The Fed cannot save both the dollar and the economy. They may finally choose to save the dollar after all, as even their current efforts at stimulating the economy aren't going anywhere.

Now not all 'doomers' out there are rejoicing at the ensuing human suffering, and indeed those who do are sick and despicable.

Other doomers simply read the signs and act on them. Famines, wars, pestilence and scarcity have been the lot of humans since the dawn of times, and to say it can't happen now is wishful thinking. It's always better to be prepared. With that said, I sincerely hope you're right.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 6:45:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd also point out that the price of wheat (according to USAToday's commodities page) is $8.08 per bushel. At 60 lbs a bushel, that's 13.5 cents a pound. A 1 lb box of shredded wheat is $4.59. Clearly the price of wheat is insignificant (3%) in the cost of that box of cereal.

If peak oil is causing food prices to skyrocket, it is through the mechanism of high transportation costs. The price of fertilizer (up by 2.5 X this year) will eventually rattle through the system too, but that won't double the cost of food.

I grew up in the Midwest, and a lot of the small farms that were in business in '60s and '70s were put out of business by 1990. Given a few years of decent prices, they could go back into production. But people have to expect that prices will stay high enough to make the business pay before they will make the investment to get that land back into production.

Mike S.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 6:54:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First, world oil production isn't even dropping."

I checked your link. They did break the old record. But the other side is that the price is up by over 300%, and the supply has gone up 0.2% over the time from May 2005 until Jan 2008.

This looks a lot like Plateau Oil to me.

Time will tell, of course. They are drilling for oil in Missouri, and getting 100 barrels per day per well, after injecting live steam down the well to melt the goo. Will this keep up with Canterell's decline? Personally, I doubt it. But I've been wrong before.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 8:11:00 PM PDT, Anonymous fugeguy said...

Oil production is still flat.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/ipsr/t21.xls

Getting ones panties wet over a week, month or quarter has no value.

1) yearly figures are best.
2) often initial numbers are significantly revised at future dates.
3) liquids do not count since we are talking about "peak oil" not peak hydro carbon liquids. not to worry as that will follow shortly.

2005's annual production rate average of 84.63 mbpd still stands. The fact we've had better days does not matter.

-- Let's hope we can somehow have a better year and then we can sleep a little better --

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 10:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Babun said...

Berniemac, thanks for putting my thoughts to words :)

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 12:55:00 AM PDT, Anonymous jona said...

I find it hilarious how the doomers keep harping on overshoot. We've exceeded our carry capacity by 2 billion, etc.

The truth is that we have more than enough food and other resources to feed and clothe more than 7 billion people. People in developing nations starve due to misallocation of resources, corruption, extortion, improper farming techniques, etc. In the developed world we still consume and waste a ridiculous amount of resources and food.

Doomers, what a bunch of tools.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Why don't you try writing something which actually concerns peak oil

I've been continually writing/reading on peak oil for almost 4 years now, and I can guarantee you that every topic has been covered here or elsewhere numerous times. Peak oil is a pretty slow moving phenomenon, and all of the blogs are basically rehash.

I'm genuinely curious, though. Is there some particular point about peak oil that's bothering you? Or that you'd like more information on?

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:47:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

JD, is Japan in food trouble? I heard there is severe flower and butter shortage there.

I heard the story about the butter shortage too, but I haven't seen any sign of it here in Osaka. I shop everyday at the supermarket, and there's always butter on the shelf. No flour shortage either.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 6:19:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Economists said that high prices for oil would spur exploration and production, and yet we barely manage to increase production at all. This too me is kind of ominous.

Yes, you're right, but I see the same phenomenon in a more positive light. The current plateau is occurring primarily due to political, not geologic, factors. There are numerous countries which can produce more oil than they are producing now: Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria, even the U.S. (continental shelf, ANWR etc.)... They aren't doing so for political reasons. But that's a good thing. It tempers the steepness of the downslope and leaves more oil in the ground for later.

The thrust of this blog is not that oil is not going to peak. The thrust of this blog is that peak oil will be a manageable problem because most oil is wasted on frivolous/unnecessary processes like cars and single-person motoring.

Famines, wars, pestilence and scarcity have been the lot of humans since the dawn of times, and to say it can't happen now is wishful thinking.

I didn't say it can't happen. My point is that, if millions of people die as a result of the current food problems, their death will be the result of a choice to essentially kill them. As I said in the post, the U.S. alone spends 20 times more money in one year on dog food than the WFP is requesting to deal with the current crisis. Right now, we have the ability to feed everyone. I am 100% correct on that point.

"Starvation is the lot of humans" is a load of fucking bullshit in the context of that one fact.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 6:38:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Right on cue, Richard Heinberg:

"There is a surreal quality to the experience of seeing the unfolding of unpleasant events that one has predicted. Plenty of times over the past few years I’ve said, "I want to be proven wrong!" Who in their right mind would wish to see economic collapse and famine? But it was obvious that, given the direction our society is headed, these must be the consequences. Now, with oil at $117 a barrel, the US economy teetering, and food riots erupting in Haiti, Egypt, and Asia, one could perhaps gain some satisfaction in saying "I told you so."
Link

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 9:48:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Freak Oil said...

If all this money is going into speculation, and this is indeed a bubble of sorts, does it's artificial economic nature actually hinder the growth of other sources of energy?
By being a quick buck or tying up potential alternative energy investment capital, and or sending mixed signals to investors who could potentially invest in sources of energy which compete with oil?

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:24:00 PM PDT, Anonymous mark said...

Corn ethanol scam? We should immediately convert 100% of our feed corn, starting with export feed corn, to ethanol and DDGS.

JD, I hope you've done your homework on animal feeding studies. DDGS is more valuable as a feed than the original corn. You get ethanol plus more animal flesh per bushel as a bonus.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:32:00 PM PDT, Anonymous mark said...

And some debate on the corn-ethanol-fuel-versus-cheap(er)-texan-beef subject:

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/04/texas-governor.html

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger maritza said...

JD, thank you for being a beacon of light when it comes to the concept of peak oil. I was first exposed to the concept about a year ago when doing some channel surfing. I came across the documentary "A Crude Awakening" on one of the movie channels (HBO or Cinemax I think). Needless to say it scared the living shit out of me. However, you have helped calm my fears with all you've written and given me a fresh perspective. Keep up the good work and God bless.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 5:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger FR said...

This is all very true. For a good billion dollars a day the UN world food program would have all the money they need for the *year*. By contrast, we (the US) spend two billion *per day* in Iraq.

As far as getting food costs under control? We could stop using arable land for biofuels; any biofuel feedstock should come from land that can't be used to grow food, or from waste products. Further, the Fed can stop killing the dollar. Further, we can eat less (or no) meat.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 10:36:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Juan said...

Freak Oil asked: If all this money is going into speculation, and this is indeed a bubble of sorts, does it's artificial economic nature actually hinder the growth of other sources of energy?"

First of all, there's very little "if" in so far as the much greater flows into commodities and this has been greatly facilitated via a reulatory loophole which has allowed index funds to circumvent exchange set position limits, i.e. they are able to gamble more than other 'players' so also have greater impact.

IT’S NOT EASY TO SIZE UP THE influence of the index funds. But based on their known cash commitments in certain commodities, and the commodity indexes their prospectuses say they track, it is possible to estimate the size of their commitments in all commodities they buy. Using this method, analyst Briese (pronounced "breezy") estimates that the index funds hold about $211 billion worth of bets on the buy side in U.S. markets.

Applying a similar method, but with slightly different assumptions for indexes tracked, Bianco Research analyst Greg Blaha puts that figure at $194 billion. Either figure is enough to turn the index funds into the behemoths of the commodity pits, where total bullish positions now stand at $568 billion.
[...]
The speculators, now so bullish, are mainly the index funds. To see how their influence on the market has become outsized, just look at how they operate. Nearly $9 out of every $10 of index-fund money is not traded directly on the commodity exchanges, but instead goes through dealers that belong to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). These swaps dealers lay off their speculative risk on the organized commodity markets, while effectively serving as market makers for the index funds. By using the ISDA as a conduit, the index funds get an exemption from position limits that are normally imposed on any other speculator, including the $1 in every $10 of index-fund money that does not go through the swaps dealers.

The purpose of position limits on speculators, which date back to 1936, is clearly stated in the rules: It’s to protect these relatively small markets from price distortions. An exemption is offered only to "bona fide hedgers" (not to be confused with "hedge funds"), who take offsetting positions in the physical commodity.

The basic argument put forward by the CFTC for exempting swaps dealers is that they, too, are offsetting other positions — those taken with the index funds.


Please see: http://commitmentsoftraders.org/?p=32#more-32

In a recent Financial Times article, Martin Wolf argued that if grain prices were in fact being driven upwards by speculators it would be evident as high levels of grain in storage.

Martin seemed to forget that large international trading firms have in the past been able to corner particular grain markets and that these quantities would not enter into official calculations where, as in the case of India earlier this decade, official stocks declined even as actual stocks did not, and that this helped drive futures prices higher on that country's markets.

Now, should a large number of small-time hoarders be present, something similar is not impossible; officially measured decline while not in an effective sense, with the former feeding further speculative flows, helping to push price and bringing in still more small hoarders/speculators in a vicious dynamic.

Besides the fund flows, weak dollar and negative real interest rates.

I would say that there is a connection to 'peak oil' but that it is psychological, a shared type of millenarianism.

Millenarian groups typically claim that the current society and its rulers are corrupt, unjust, or otherwise wrong. They therefore believe they will be destroyed soon by a powerful force. The harmful nature of the status quo is always considered intractable without the anticipated dramatic change.

 
At Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 10:39:00 PM PDT, Anonymous juan said...

regulatory loophole

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 3:14:00 AM PDT, Blogger DB said...

Good post JD. You nailed it.
It's the speculators who are awash in freshly printed money from the central banks who are causing the across-the-board rises in commodity markets.

Good call.

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 5:31:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Lucario said...

Long-time lurker, first-time poster....

So, is there anything the average citizen of the US can do in the face of these rising food prices? Not buying fuel ethanol is easy in and of itself, but what does a layperson do to quash speculators? And what are the best organizations to donate to if you want to end all the corruption and tyrannical governments that starve their people?

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 8:25:00 AM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

I've been continually writing/reading on peak oil for almost 4 years now, and I can guarantee you that every topic has been covered here or elsewhere numerous times.
Peak oil is a pretty slow moving phenomenon, and all of the blogs are basically rehash.

I'm genuinely curious, though. Is there some particular point about peak oil that's bothering you? Or that you'd like more information on?


What bothers me is that you are being intellectually dishonest if you think you're debunking anything by just disputing a marginal group's lunatic view.

It bothers me especially because there have been more than a few interesting stories in the news lately (which were less optimistic in their view) which you could have tried to "debunk" instead - e.g the Astrid Schneider's interview with Fatih Birol. Or perhaps Jeffrey Rubin's latest prediction of $225 oil?

Surely you will at least comment on the upcoming WEO 2008 in november, which I conclude will be interesting to say the least judging from the aforementioned interview.

You've said you're not actually disputing peak oil will happend but still you seem to have a pretty happy-go-lucky attitude about the consequences of it. If you agree of a less bright view of the future, perhaps you could try to echo it too? It seems to me you're one of these people gripping on to the economist's mantra that the economy's internal mechanisms will prevent any major upheaval.

It's becoming ever more clear to me that anything discussed in this blog will always be one-sided.


Yes, you're right, but I see the same phenomenon in a more positive light. The current plateau is occurring primarily due to political, not geologic, factors.


Now you got it backwards. The current plateau is occurring primarily due to geologic factors but politic factors have made this phenomenon more immediate. We would not have any problems if there were a couple of extra ghawars in the world. The geologic constraints wouldn't be too far away even if we wouldn't have any political ones.

Whatever the reasons are, recent news have imo strengthened the views of that the near future won't be too bright. At this point I pretty firmly believe we'll be having major economic problems in the beginning of the next decade. What's beyond that is speculation - but the nearer we come the better view we will have of transition processes and future production. Whatever the future looks like, a carefree attitude is something that really really pisses me off and does not reflect a sane view of reality at this moment. This careless group gets the same looney stamp as the dieoff people in my mind.

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 4:10:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

babun,

I am not obviously trying to speak for JD, but I think you got the wrong gist of this site. I never saw in either of the posts that JD makes a carefree attitude, rather a "get real doomer pussies" attitude, a call to reason against a holocaustic armaggedon attitude of many of peak oil interested people.

Let's face it, Peak Oil has the gist of a very big thing, one that could create havoc in the economy. It is rather easy to fall into such a doomerish mindset of "peak everything, die off", I don't think anyone here could say that they didn't gave a thought about that, if only to dismiss it later.

JD is not paid to do this, so I also fail to see your authority on demanding that he should "debunk" your pet nightmare, if you want to do so, then go ahead and make your own blog to debunk it. Haven't you heard? It's free!

About the future not being too bright, well you know, shit happens every fucking day. And this is true since the dawn of time. Yes, I can also see some "bottlenecks" coming on, but if History is a lesson, bottlenecks are prone to spring huge opportunities.

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger nunya said...

This is going to be my summer reading:

The World Without Us
.

 
At Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 6:38:00 PM PDT, Blogger nunya said...

"First, world oil production isn't even dropping"

For Exxon Mobil, $10.9 Billion Profit Disappoints
Published: May 1, 2008


...But even as it posted the second-most profitable quarter in its history, Exxon’s earnings managed to disappoint investors because of a drop in oil production...

...stagnating hydrocarbon production...

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 12:46:00 AM PDT, Anonymous antisolipsism said...

I just came across this. Is this a good sign or a bad sign (this question is not necessarily rhetorical)?

http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell-en/our_strategy/shell_global_scenarios/video/scenarios_video_26032008.html

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 1:51:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

babun,

It's true that I have a care-free attitude toward peak oil, and I'll tell you why: I don't drive.

I detest cars. I live now in Osaka, where I function entirely by walking, bicycling and mass transit. So, yes, I literally don't care at all how high the price of oil/gasoline goes. The panic about oil prices rolls right off me, like water off a duck's back. You're like a junky, trying to get me to freak out because heroin prices are rising. But it's not going to work because I quit using the drug a long time ago.

Now, I've been saying that for years, and a lot of peak oilers have said: "Don't be so smug. Oil prices are going to get you too because oil is used to deliver everything, and make everything, and grow food etc. etc." That's what they say, but I'm the sort of person who keeps close records of what I spend, and you know what? The price of oil has now risen by about 1100% since the late 90s. And yet food and the other goods I buy at the store are still ridiculously cheap. The oil inflation component of my budget is so small, it's not even worth thinking about.

My personal fossil fuel consumption is absolutely miniscule -- I use natural gas to shower and cook, and that's it. Those bills are very small, and I could make them way smaller if I wanted to by taking Navy showers, or boiling water in the microwave etc. In fact, I'll go head-to-head with anybody in a low carbon lifestyle contest.

Nevertheless, I live a very comfortable, first world lifestyle. In fact, I know for a fact that my standard of living was greatly *improved * by getting rid of my car.

So, as I like to say, peak oil is going to be lifestyle armageddon. To the average American SUV owner, stepping down to a moped or the bus is going to seem like the end of the world. But it's not. It's just a lifestyle haircut -- no big deal really, compared to previous generations who took bullets in the face at Iwo Jima etc. In the worst case scenario, folks end up living like I do. Which isn't really frightening at all, unless you're looking at it through the eyeballs of a hysterical petroleum junky worried about his next fix.

I also disagree with you that die-off believers are fringe elements in peak oil. Richard Heinberg believes there will be a die-off, and you can't get more mainstream peak oil than Richard Heinberg.

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 6:52:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

A question JD.

Who defines "Mainstream" in the era of the internet, the most completely de-centered media ever invented?

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 8:58:00 AM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

It's true that I have a care-free attitude toward peak oil, and I'll tell you why: I don't drive.

If we're talking about a phenomenon that concerns society as a whole, i find it quite ignorant to base your visions on direct personal impact.

Conservation on a societal level is a decent argument, but these are issues that are very difficult to assess. Do we need determined politics to encourage conservation or will the market cause conservation to be the dominating effect instead of demand destruction? How much more efficient can we get and how fast can we increase efficiency? How will increased efficiency play out in the dynamics of the global and local economies?

As these are issues that really aren't being discussed on the level they should be - I don't see we're in for a great start. I'm almost certain we will see major economic upheaval and massive unemployment.

There are so many moving parts I believe it's quite impossible to predict any time frames or further development - but i'm pretty sure it's gonna be a damn bumpy near future. I also pretty firmly believe that if the world economy suffers - you will have to be one of very few lucky ones if it won't affect you in Japan.

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 2:55:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

I have been reading your blog since its beginning and must state following.

you are finally starting to succumb to reality.

while you earlier spoke about lunar solar power and Peakoil/Peakfood as non events, you now already backpedal to state that 100 000 000 dead is not a "die off". why did you have to say that? maybe because you already know these millions are gonna die in the future and no lunar solar power will come to save them?

Myself, i really appreciate your blog for antidoomersim, for I am not a doomer. But I also never really shared your childish kindergarten overoptimistic "no event" vision of the world where large spaceships cruise the galaxy to mine asteroids and capture solar power.
the truth is that Peakoil/Peakfood/Peakresources are "yes events", not "no events". and the laymen should learn about them, at least those laymen who will freeze to death because of peakoil or starve to death because of peakfood. I myself would like to know the name of the phenomenon which is killing me, wouldnt you?
this is contrary to your view "laymen do not need to learn about po"

sch_peakoiler
( we met a couple of times at pocom)

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 3:42:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

"100 000 000 dead"

WTF? 100 million DEAD?

WHERE?!?

WHERE?!?

 
At Friday, May 2, 2008 at 5:21:00 PM PDT, Blogger Sean Daugherty said...

"Therefore, even if 100 million people starve to death due to the current crisis, it won't be a die-off."

JD said it, but I think sch_peakoiler's interpretation of it is a little... unusual, to put it lightly. The point (which I thought was patently obvious, as he mentions it in the next sentence) was that there is no such peak oil-related event that is stopping us from producing enough food to feed the (entirely hypothetical) 100 million people who might conceivably die (not "will die") due to starvation. If they die, it's because the rest of the world made the decision to not feed them, not because they were unable to do so. And it has precious little to do with peak oil (directly or indirectly), one way or the other.

On another note, JD, thank you for all the time and effort you've put into your blog thus far. I know I'm not from the first person to say it, but your work here has helped me come to terms with some of my own Peak Oil-related fears.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 12:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger green with a gun said...

I think we can fairly say that peak oil (or "demand significantly exceeding supply", which comes to the same thing in terms of price effects) has contributed to the food price rises, but it's not true to say they're entirely due to that.

JD notes that the price of oil is just part of the cost of food. However, there are other fossil fuels involved, for example natural gas. And we're starting to hear anecdotal reports that fertilisers are becoming more scarce - China has imposed a 100% export tariff on their fertilisers, as noted here.

The peaking of conventional crude production, or excess demand on plateaued supply, means increased demand for coal and natural gas, which pushes up the price of fossil fuel derivatives generally, and thus the price of food.

Also JD quoted,

"The UN's special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, earlier blamed the [food] crisis on biofuels, speculation on commodities markets, and EU export subsidies."

If there were more than enough conventional crude oil, then there'd be very little demand for biofuels. So that peak oil or excess demand on plateaued supply puts pressure on the food supply through increased demand for biofuels. It's a second order effect, but is nonetheless an effect.

"speculation on commodities markets" may also be taken to include fossil fuels, again giving flow-on effects to fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, and thus food.

Again, this does not mean that peak oil or excess demand on plateaued supply is the sole or even major cause of the spike in food prices; but it's a significant contributor to it.

Naturally this doesn't mean some massive perishing of the human race is about to begin.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 7:31:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

sch_peakoiler,
The only childish thing going on here is your lies and misrepresentations of my actual position.
Yes, I am a vocal advocate of harvesting energy and materials from space, but I have always stated that those are long-term goals. I have never portrayed those technologies as a solution to peak oil. My solution to peak oil involves standard off-the-shelf technologies like efficiency, mopeds, EVs, telecommuting, unconventional oil, coal, nuclear, solar power and wind. You can read my solution here: 329. THE SOLUTION: ELECTRIFICATION + CONSERVATION. My solution doesn't say a thing about space solar saving us from peak oil, or from famine. In fact, you just made that shit up, like the liar you are, and tried to foist it on me, as if it was something that I actually said at some point.

I have also never claimed that PO will be a non-event. You're confusing me with Marshall Brain. I call it "lifestyle armageddon" and I've said "We're going to go through some gut wrenching social/infrastructure changes, but technology, industry and the human mind will solve the problem."(#138) I've also stated that peak oil will not be a non-event because the retooling and conversion process will be economically stimulative.(#209)

I see a lot of big fat Americans riding mopeds. It's a big event, just not that frightening.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 8:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger JD said...

I'm almost certain we will see major economic upheaval and massive unemployment.

So you say, but turn back the clock a little. When I first tuned into peak oil in 2004, oil was around $40 a barrel, and everybody was sure that $60 or $80 or $100 oil would absolutely devastate the world economy.That's not just peak oilers. Many mainstream economists said the same thing.

Well, here we are at $120, and the world as a whole is still growing at a rapid clip. Even in the face of $120 oil, the airline industry is still growing -- more slowly, yes, but still growing fast:
"Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global scheduled international traffic data for March. Compared to the same month in the previous year, passenger demand increased 5.8% with load factors at 77.7%. Freight traffic grew 3.2%."Source

Those are powerful arguments for the optimist case. Those who said that high oil prices aren't that big of a deal have been largely proven right -- much to the consternation of both peak oilers and mainstream economists who thought the economy was much more sensitive to oil shock.

So I don't think your case for economic tumult is as airtight as you think it is. The empirical evidence shows that the world economy is handling high oil prices far better than expected. Various explanations have been put forth for this counterintuitive, but real phenomenon. What's yours?

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 8:35:00 AM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

I have also never claimed that PO will be a non-event. You're confusing me with Marshall Brain. I call it "lifestyle armageddon" and I've said "We're going to go through some gut wrenching social/infrastructure changes, but technology, industry and the human mind will solve the problem."(#138) I've also stated that peak oil will not be a non-event because the retooling and conversion process will be economically stimulative.(#209)

I see a lot of big fat Americans riding mopeds. It's a big event, just not that frightening.


I think the fact that you consider it a non-event is quite obvious when reading your articles. As is the fact that most of us disputing your views have a more pessimistic view of things.

I don't really see either side presenting a lot of concrete arguments to support their case. As I said earlier, there are so many moving parts and I could easily imagine someone could come up with a dozen good arguments on both sides.

I'll still repeat myself a bit though. My view is pessimistic because there is so little research and discussion on the topic that I believe responses will be unorganized and sporadic in nature. I don't believe that the market is able to automatically solve a problem like this.

In order to properly debate this we would need a somewhat accurate estimate of the timing of the peak and the degree of the decline, as well as a reasonable estimate of how fast and how efficient convervation measures might be applied and probably also research about how the effect of conservation on energy trading and economic growth. Production numbers are, and probably will remain quite clouded due to the lack of transparency among certain producers. And because this is already under research and being discussed a lot - I'd rather see arguments concerning the other side of the equation. I'll give you a virtual diploma if you can find any research on this JD ;) As long as neither side can really back up their arguments with essential numbers, I consider this issue pretty much a matter of faith.

Nevertheless, as long as we are unsure - echoing a carefree attitude is not the best in my opinion. It does not stimulate the kind of discussion we need. I think what we need right now is people to take this issue very seriously and really bring this into the attention of basically everyone. That means presenting a worrisome (not apathic) picture of the future, pretty much in the same fashion as global warming. That would stimulate more research and discussion on the topic - which we definately need.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 9:38:00 AM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

Well, here we are at $120, and the world as a whole is still growing at a rapid clip. Even in the face of $120 oil, the airline industry is still growing -- more slowly, yes, but still growing fast: "Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global scheduled international traffic data for March. Compared to the same month in the previous year, passenger demand increased 5.8% with load factors at 77.7%. Freight traffic grew 3.2%."

Well of course. We're still living pretty high up on the curve of the recent huge economic upswing. What is happening right now - as your article points out as well - is that growth is slowing down. If oil prices will remain high or go even higher, I believe they will probably slow things down even faster. Nevertheless, I believe there are other factors that lead the current slowdown and that high oil prices will only start exacerbating the effect in the years to come. I believe they will start hitting badly after the turn of the decade.


The empirical evidence shows that the world economy is handling high oil prices far better than expected. Various explanations have been put forth for this counterintuitive, but real phenomenon. What's yours?


Well, we have still seen strong economic growth and also strong growth in the use of petroleum products still in recent years.

I believe we won't see growth in the use of petroleum products rise by much (at least in the foreseeable future - say 10 years) but rather see the use of it decline. That renders empirical evidence quite useless in my opinion. If economic growth will occur while the use of petroleum products decline I may be wrong. I believe this is especially unlikely in countries such as China or India though - which are expected to dampen the effect of the current US downturn. In other words, it's not just about the price now. It's also about the availability of petroleum products to support economic growth. The fact that we've been having strong economic growth has also increased purchasing power, which has meant the price has not hit as badly as it will when the economy starts slowing down. Another thing is that the countries with the strongest economic growth have been subsidizing gasoline and diesel prices - thereby reducing the effect of global oil prices on growth. I don't know what the limits of subsidizing are - but surely someone has to take the hits for the high oil prices. The actions of the "teapot" refineries in China recently are proof of this. I believe particularly China and India are living on the edge here, and high prices will start affecting them.

This said, I'd like to point out that i have pretty much no knowledge of economic theories nor have I studied the aforementioned economies in particular. This is just how I imagine things will be. My views are based only on such time frames I believe are on some level predictable.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 1:51:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

"I think the fact that you consider it a non-event is quite obvious when reading your articles."

Brilliant. What you just said is equal to this: "I don't care that you don't say what I think you say, I know better than you what you say, and you don't say what you think you say, you say what I KNOW you say."

or equal to this: "stupid retard, I know better than you what you think, cause you know, I'm Fucking Omniscient."

Get a life.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 3:11:00 PM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

I'm sorry for my bad choice of words. Non-event naturally wasn't the correct one. What i meant was the carefree attitude and the belief that we need not worry about this issue.

 
At Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 6:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger FR said...

anon:

"you now already backpedal to state that 100 000 000 dead is not a 'die off'."

100,000,000 dying is an avoidable tragedy. You really don't think we can make enough food to feed everyone? You think it's geological? Answer me one thing: If we simply consumed less meat, how much more food can we grow? (That's not to mention a million other things we can do.)

Outside of conservation, if the UN gets 700,000 million dollars this year, they'll be able to feed everyone they need to feed. Peak Oil is not a geological problem, it's just a wealthy lifestyle greed problem.

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 10:16:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

you had a post where you explained that laymen should actually not learn about peakoil as it is of no big deal to them anyway. If this is not a vision of non-event, then we just understand the term differently. for me a non event is something that neither touches anybody's life, nor significantly influences things. Your view of Peakoil in 2005 was this: laymen should not learn about it, it is a stricktly scientifical phenomenon of no interest to the usual buddy.

My point was that you already backpedal. I reread your first posts to this blog with great interest, actually. First you told laymen should not learn abot peakoil and now you already talk about a probability that 100 000 000 such laymen could die. Too much for a unsignificant event?




FR:
you ask me whether or not we can feed the people if we take from the wealthy and give it to the poor? As of now: YES WE CAN.
current crisis is mainly due to capitalism, which feeds the poor with the rests which remained after the feast of the rich.
But then you are totally wrong as to ascribe the crisis to the economy system alone.
The Problem is complex: Peakoil is a geological problem which is being amplified by the inefficient capitalistic system. Yes, capitalism makes Peakoil more severe, BUT it does not render Peakoil a no-event.

The complete answer is YES, if you take from the wealthy and give it to the poor, you can solve todays local problems, not the global problems of energy/food shortage. This solution only lasts a couple of years EVEN if it is implemented.

to make it short: capitalism makes the problem of peakresources more severe, but the problem itself remains!!

sch_peakoiler

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 11:13:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

"First you told laymen should not learn abot peakoil and now you already talk about a probability that 100 000 000 such laymen could die. Too much for a unsignificant event?"

Are you a troll? The argument at stake is that current crisis is NOT due to peak oil, but rather due to the economic crisis and the hoarding of food by hedge funds and other speculative groups who are trying to flee from the dollar.

Stick to the point. If you think otherwise, then argue so, and back it. This kind of collage is as unacceptable as Al Gore's collage of Katrina to Global Warming. Just because GW contributes to more hurricanes, it doesn't mean that GW made Katrina. Likewise, just because some nutties who believe that the world is going to die because of impending catastrophe (insert specific paranoia here), will always link any regional or local disaster, any economic crisis and anything whatsoever to such pet nightmare.

It's called obsession. And it is not good for your health.

"The Problem is complex: Peakoil is a geological problem which is being amplified by the inefficient capitalistic system."

Well of course. The problem is always peak oil, ain't it? Even if it isn't, more obvious answers are only "amplifying" underlying causes. Try to think with your head for a moment. You're completely brainwashed.

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 1:56:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

luis,

if you think calling names would help, for instance calling me brainwashed, then you are cordially welcome to call me so. If it helps, how could I mind. I for my part will then call people brainwashed who mine asteroids on the weekend and mine seawater uranium in large scale monday to friday.

will it help?

back to the topic.

my point is this.
******
In 2006, both world agricultural production and food production rose by less than 1%. As a consequence, per caput food agricultural production is estimated to have fallen by about 0.2%; the first such decline since 1993.

Much of the poor performance of world agriculture in 2006 was due to disappointing cereal production, which fell for the second consecutive year. The decline was caused by a contraction in, wheat output, down 5%, and coarse grains, down 3%,
*********
http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx

everybody is "hoarding" now but nobody has mentionied falling food outputs.

there is less food per person in the world since 2006. You can give or take the unsocial distribution of foods (for example I get more food than John Denver which is unfair of course) but there is less food.
As I already told you, the unfair distribution makes the problem worse, but the problem under it is shortage.

Hoarding on the other hand is a response to this development. If I know a man must eat lest he would die and if I know there is less foodstuffs per person than for 2 years then I invest.
There are 70 Million people coming to us each year. thats about 1% growth.if foodstuffs fall below this growth then you have a shortage and you must either redistribute (as JD said - less food for pets more for the people) or let the "extra" people die.

But JD fails to understand that redistributing does not change anything on the underlying problem. I have to repeat it several times : redistributing affects the aftermath of the problem but not the problem itself.

sch peakoiler.

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

luis,

a correction of a typo:

where I said "less food than for 2 years" I ment "less food per person than 2 years ago"

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 3:25:00 PM PDT, Blogger FR said...

Anon,

There are good things and bad things about capitalism. One bad thing that you and I mentioned, of course, is the distribution of resources -- the wealthy few use far too many of the resources, leaving very little for the masses. This is true, and something has to be changed in the system to fix that.

But one good thing about capitalism is innovation. That's why most of the best inventions in the 20th century came from the small percentage of people in the United States. (What did the Soviet Union invent?) Another good thing about capitalism is this: sometimes (though certainly not all the time) the invisible hand of the market works wonders. Right now, people in the US are conserving oil more than ever (demand decreased last year about 1%). This conservation is not from a newfound green spirit; it's because people can't afford to drive as much as they'd like.

In the short term, forced conservation because of high prices, and in the long term, developments of new, known technologies and brand new inventions will fix the crisis. It's not the end of the world.

 
At Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 5:54:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

you had a post where you explained that laymen should actually not learn about peakoil as it is of no big deal to them anyway.

Since you've already shown yourself to be a liar, right here in this thread, it's probably best to let people make up their own minds about what that post actually says. I personally would paraphrase it: "Don't waste your time obsessing about peak oil on the Internet. All you really need to do is heed the market signals and conserve."

Apparently your basic point is that we should inform the 100 million people who will die shortly that they are dying of peak oil, even though the world is currently mobilizing to ensure that they don't die, and it's perfectly clear that peak oil is only one of many factors. I find that argument to be quite strained and stupid -- just what one would expect from a documented liar like yourself.

Try again when the actual body count hits 100 million people. Then you might have a point.

You are also cherry-picking stats about food production. Yes, grain production growth was disappointing in 2006. But that isn't the last available year. In 2007, grain production surged by 4.7%. And it is forecast to increase yet again by 2.6% in 2008.Source This despite virtually no increase in crude oil production over the last 3 years. Whether food production can continue to rise and keep hunger at bay is an empirical question. Deceiptful statements that "food output is falling", by documented liars like yourself, don't carry much weight.

Time will tell, my friend. You're just the latest of a long line of doomer shitheads who have shown up here declaring your opinions about the future to be the final word.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 5:36:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Luis Dias said...

Great, JD. I didn't find those stats, but cherry-picking 2006 also looked suspicious to me. And the notion that a 0.2% drop per capita would be the trigger event of die-off is obviously comical.

Those stats aren't pretty, but they aren't anywhere near to die-off standards. For instance,

"Unchanged from the previous forecast in February, world cereal stocks by the close of the seasons ending in 2008 are expected to fall to 405 million tonnes, down 21 million tonnes, or 5 percent, from their already reduced level at the start of the season and the smallest in 25 years."

The obvious question, did die-off happened 25 years ago? Cycles do happen, and we are in the beginning of a new one. Even in my own country, where production has been low because of low prices, the agro-business is being quite positive in the future of wheat production given the surge of prices.

And yes, anon you are a troll. You look at a tiny cloud and claim desperately that the coming hurricane is going to kill us all. It's intellectually painful. The best way to stop being a troll is however...to put your name on your posts for instance. You show laziness and cowardliness. No wonder you're so afraid of what's coming.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 8:51:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello JD,

first to your "liar accusation".

I read your blog and made my opinion and impression of your views. I come to your blog and openly say in your face in front of all your readers: "JD, my impression after reading your texts is that you see PO as no event and that laymen should not know about it. I think your position is wrong"
If you see this impression to be wrong you are totally free to correct me, because I am telling this openly to you and not to some third party elsewhere.

if you call this lying then maybe you have an issue or two? A lie would be if I did not discuss my impressions with you directly but would dissipate false infos of you to a some third party. not in the place where you directly answer.

this is my view.

for now I am still saying that your post about laymen reads FOR ME as "laymen should not learn about it".


to the food statistics:

actually I was not cherry picking the stats - I was SHOWING you exactly the reasong of the tight market. You told your readers that the problems behind the food crisis are hoarding etc. but the was a real output problem also, and the tightening of 1% can easily cause hoarding in a BIG WAY.
that was my point. Even with 2007 production the market remains tight and you should have mentioned it actually, I guess. Otherwise it reads as if it were not for the actual problems with food whatsoever.

about iforming laymen of peakoil: I think we generally should inform laymen about all important changes to our lives. And when GWB says that we can mitigate everything by just drilling ANWR - you know I see this as plain wrong.

luis,

0.2% less food is not enough for a die off, for sure. But it is more than enough to be cause for the things you see now: hoarding, overinvesting etc. Many of my friends invested in foodstuffs - so they are part of that too, but they did it not at whim but because of the initial tightening which came 2005-2006.

as to my peakoil.com nickname I put it in the first posting of mine.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 1:44:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Neal said...

Oh, of course Anon. You've got ALL the answers, from you and your little buddies at PO.com how could you be wrong? Here is what I don't get you people say we need to "deal with reality" yet you and your little friends fail to do just that. Through one simple mistake. You CANNOT predict the future, you DO NOT know what will or what will not come to pass. Period!
You may think that you know, but you do not. And yes you are a troll. Instaed of speaking of the topic at hand you, instead choose to call JD out. But I'm sorry if I hold some hope or if I am optimistic in the sense that we, manknkd can make it through these tuff times.

Tell me somehting when is the last time a pessimistic person invented something that helped us to live better? You can't. I just get sick of folks like you who say this will happen for a fact, as if it were the the good book. Here's what I say to you and to Jack with his catchy little sig, you first buddy.

For without hope we have nothing, for without dreams we are nothing, for no sprit we will fail, for no determination, we will crumble.

 
At Monday, May 5, 2008 at 11:18:00 PM PDT, Anonymous babun said...

Lol, I can't believe anyone wants to argue with an idiot

 
At Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 7:36:00 PM PDT, Anonymous soylent said...

"Because it is patently obvious that we can feed those people if we want to. Therefore, if they are allowed to die, it would have to be labeled as what it really is -- a "let them die off"" or "kill off" or "mass murder", not a die-off."

Exactly.

You could feed ~10 times more people using grains directly than you can by first feeding it to cattle; and meat is a very big part of the north American and European diet.

But just giving the worlds poor food is not the solution. We should readily give that food away only when there are serious consequences. Otherwise highly discounted and subsidized food will outcompete local farmers and exacerbate the situation.

The best thing we could do for the worlds poor would be to unilateraly and unconditionally drop trade barriers.

 
At Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 1:51:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Ker said...

JD, are you taking into consideration world population growth and automobile industry expansion?
If resource suply increased by 5% but demand by 10% you have got 5% deficit. A chart of supply line going up may be tricky without accounting the demand!
JD lives a frugal lifestyle, and thats ok for him, he can write about how peak oil will not affect him. Good.
(for him)
But lets check out this simple essencials:
- ENERGY is needed for LIFE.
- The energy comes from resources
- A decrease in resources impacts quality of life in direct proportion: LESS ENERGY available => LOWER quality of LIFE.
What if black holes are energy demands for giant civilizations ??? (ups, sorry, out of the subject)
Peak now, or peak in 5 years, peak oil will happend. Peak gas will happend. Peak nuclear will happend. I don't know when, but it will. That's unquestionable, thats physics laws. And when it will, we are going to drive less, work harder, and all this projections already made.
So are we going to talk here that TODAY is not the peak oil when many of the large oil deposits peaked? Ok. I agree, lets talk about it. However, this doesn't mean that peak oil can not happend TOMORROW.
And this doesn't mean we can keep living as we are, delaying the enevitable end of the last drop of oil. If you are prepared, you're going to have better quality of life.

 
At Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 12:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Shane said...

OK, I'm sorry to bring back an old thread, but...

Green with a Gun said something I feel the need to comment on.

"If there were more than enough conventional crude oil, then there'd be very little demand for biofuels. So that peak oil or excess demand on plateaued supply puts pressure on the food supply through increased demand for biofuels. It's a second order effect, but is nonetheless an effect. "

You start from a false premise. Your assumption is that the reason for interest in biofuels is because of supply. That is incorrect. The reason is due to high petrochemical prices, which is assumed to be a supply and demand issue (and that is debatable.)

And ker, don't be a douche. Great attempt at a troll, but while petrochemicals are a source of energy, they are not THE SOLE SOURCE of energy. At least you seem to mostly agree with the rest of us on most of this. Your comment makes me think you seem to believe you're in disagreement, but the funny thing is that you're not!

 
At Friday, June 13, 2008 at 6:00:00 PM PDT, Anonymous morgondag said...

Speculation and factors like biofuels and input costs (fertilizer, tractor fuel etc) are not mutualy exclusive. Indeed I think they are mutually reenforcing. I.e., speculators invest in food in part because they belive food is bound to go up becuase of those factors.

 

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