• A Picture of Depletion

    (This post is by my colleague Heading Out over at The Oil Drum . HO does a great job with this post demonstrating to the layperson the problems we face with petroleum recovery in this era of peak oil. The lesson here is that this problem is occurring with many of the older large wells, and there are not nearly enough new large wells being brought online that can match the capacity of the older large wells.) Dogru, Hamoud & Barlow JPT 0204 Originally uploaded by Heading Out . For most people there was some one thing that brought the reality of Peak Oil home to them. For me it was this picture, from a paper by Dogru, Hamoud and Barlow in JPT in February 2004. The reference, to the paper "Multiphase Pump Recovers More Oil in a Mature Carbonate Reservoir" can be found here . It shows a vertical slice taken through the Abqaiq oilfield in Saudi Arabia, using an instrument that measures the relative fluid densities at different levels in the field.
  • The Evolutionary Advantages of Nearsightedness

    What is the evolutionary purpose for myopia? I forget where I heard the question raised recently, but it may well have been on the Al Franken show during a discussion of intelligent design. Economics is my day job, and I think that it offers insight into this biological riddle. So please indulge me while I put on my Jared Diamond hat. Myopia just doesn’t seem like a very intelligent design feature for a bipedal hunter that kills by throwing projectiles. It is not a modern adaptation to looking at nearby objects more often as has been rumored. Apparently , there have been studies comparing the degree of myopia in identical and fraternal twins finding that identical twins have a better chance of having similar degrees of myopia. However, there are absolutely no advantages to being unable to see far away objects in and of itself. Or are there?
  • In Sum, PO in a Nutshell

    If you didn't catch it, read my intro post below . There's also some links in there to primers, etc. This post, however, will be an attempt to sum up a pretty complex topic. Hubbert's Peak is reached when demand for oil exceeds production and supply. Let's be clear, peak oil is not about running out of oil. However, there is a finite amount of oil in the earth . At some point, we will have taken half of it. That is Hubbert's Peak. So, peak oil is about the end of cheap oil. Cheap oil has bred a lifestyle of convenience and excess, especially in America that is going to be difficult to maintain once the supply begins to shrink and will perhaps worsen the already growing class divide that exists in the United States. The less oil there is available, the more expensive and treasured it will be. Competition, if not war, over resources is likely. Combine this idea with increasing demand from modernizing countries like China and India, and you have the recipe for disaster. I am reminded of...
  • Do Kick the Elephant

    I’m The Jew. Thanks Ezra. Yada yada yada. Neil is absolutely correct when he says Remember that when Republicans try to define the Democrats, they won't ever bring up the centrist's moderate, conciliatory remark distancing himself from the radical. They'll bring up the radical's remark that fearful centrists pushed beyond the pale and didn't bother to explain. They'll use that remark to tar the entire Democratic party. But he’s entirely wrong when he says Sometimes a caveat of some kind will be necessary -- "I didn't agree with the Nazi analogy, it obfuscates more than it clarifies."
  • The misinformation campaign about Canadian healthcare

    Hi, this is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog , and I'll be writing a few articles about health care, (which may be somewhat crossposted from my blog) and taking the odd rare opportunity to rant about other subjects of my choosing here too. I will (as instructed by Ezra) be writing later in the week about what really happened to the Clinton's failed health care plan, and what lessons that brings for reform when we next get a chance. But first I must get at one of my pet peeves, as it came up again this past week. And that peeve is the situation that allows a combination of fact cherry picking and straight out lies to be told about other nation's health care systems. You all probably know the real story. Basically every other country figured out its way to some level of universal insurance system, with a mix of public and private provision of health care, with usually a centralized budget making sure that the health care monster didn't overwhelm the rest of the economy. Between...
  • Everything We Thought We Knew About the War Was Wrong

    (So, I’ve been requested to being everyone up to speed on the Downing Street Memos. Well, here goes…) Since 9/11, President Bush has positioned himself as the best, if not only person, with the wherewithal to protect America from terrorists. He has used the nebulous “War on Terror” to justify everything from the encroachment on Americans’ civil liberties (under the guise of the Patriot Act) to the invasion of Iraq. And yet, in a recent Salon article by Juan Cole, which references the public account of Sir Christopher Meyer as well as his interview with Vanity Fair, it becomes obvious that the President had little interest in pursuing the actual perpetrators of 9/11...
  • Notwithstanding

    Hi everybody--I'm Scott from Lawyers, Guns & Money . Many thanks to Ezra for allowing me to post at his terrific blog, and to have included me in such a distinguished group of writers. I thought I would make a few extremely wonky posts about democracy and judicial power, while relying on the other fine guest bloggers to provide posts that you will want to read. In my recent post about the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Quebec law banning the sale of private health insurance, a couple commenters asked about Canada’s “Notwithstanding” clause, which Matthew Yglesias has also endorsed recently. So I thought I’d explain it, as an introduction to thinking about judicial review and its democratic legitimacy...
  • Addiction to a Way of Life

    Thanks to Ezra for giving The Oil Drum a voice on this forum. My colleagues and I are going to be posting on what we, our involved community over at TOD , a growing community of bloggers , and a growing number of experts in many related fields, believe to be the pressing problem of our generation: we all see the petroleum economy as the fundamental lynchpin of our present democratic society and geopolitical system. The problem is that cheap oil/energy/gas is quietly fading into history, as evidenced by rising oil prices approaching $60/bbl today. (fyi, adjusted for inflation, the highest prices for an entire year were in 1981 and averaged around $66/bbl, with a day spike of $95/bbl). The real and tangible crisis of supply and demand is now inevitable, whether the coming crisis arrives in six months or in four years, or whether the crisis arrives in a slow, secular fashion or as a cataclysmic "shock," lives around the world are going to change.
  • Endtroducing...

    I'm taking a week off, heading up to the mountains with the girlfriend. Sadly, this'll actually make the site much better. Filling in will be: • Scott Lemieux, an assistant professor of political science at Hunter College and one of the excellent bloggers helming Lawyers, Guns and Money; • The Jew, who writes the smart blog of almost the same name; • Prof Goose, who'll be filling you all in on energy policy and can generally be found at The Oil Drum ; • Shakespeare's Sister , who needs no introduction but will bring you all up to date on the Downing Street Memos; • And Matthew Holt , a health care consultant who'll be adding some professional expertise to all the pronouncements us armchair health care strategists keep offering. I'll be quite surprised if you all want me back. Anyway, it should be a fun week around here, so keep checking in -- there'll be lots to learn.
  • Elections in Iran

    In the week's most underblogged story (wherefore art thou, Democracy Arsenal ?), the Iranian elections are rapidly hurtling towards the nightmare scenario. The reformers have been demolished, though it's uncertain whether that's by voter rejection or fraud, and what's left is unsavory at best, dangerous at worst. When the polls first closed, the government announced that Rafsanjani (a former president and general pragmatist), Mostafa Moin (a reformer in Khatami's vein), and the conservative Qalibaf would be entering into runoff. The next morning, that was amended. The new runoff would be between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, the xenophobic, anti-American, ultraconservative mayor of Tehran. In this context, the reformers, fearful of Ahmadinejab's particular brand of Islamic intolerance, have thrown their weight behind longtime foe Rafsanjani in the hopes that their voters won't sit out the runoff and hand the election to the truly insane. What's going on is pretty unclear. Assuming there...