Friday, April 2, 2010

Living in the Southland

Before I get on to today's rant...

I don't know where the Peak Oil community gets its "The South is uninhabitable without Air Conditioning" schtick from - probably from Jimmy Kuntsler and the rest of his Middlebury College types (just teasing! sort of)... the weather here in Middle Tennessee is just as mild and as pleasant as can be. Yes there are some hot stretches, but nothing like the heat waves I experienced standing on a New York City subway platform in a suit and tie, waiting for the express. The winters are mild and short, spring and fall are delightful. Anyway... Here are a few shots of late March here in Tennessee...

The Barlett Pear tree in our back yard with the world's greatest horse, "Mike", in the background. I've had a lot of horses come through here, but none like "Mike" - he is a keeper. He was given to me as a 2 year old (Tennessee Walking Horse) "junk" horse by the previous owner of the farm. I don't know how he arrived at that decision, but it has worked out for me. Mike can best be described as a real life cross between Mr. Ed and Hidalgo.

Plum Blossom. I have 3 dwarf plum trees outside our barn that produce wonderfully.

OK, back to Oil, energy, and the markets. I have been away from the computer lately. Seems there is a big difference between blogging about self sufficiency and actually living it. Getting the farm ready for Spring is no small task. Babies are born, animals have to be processed, the garden has to get dug and plants started... I can tell you with great confidence that all of the petty mental diagnosis's de jour would be a thing of the past if their sufferers did this everyday...

But I digress...

West Texas Intermediate front month traded above $85 per barrel, and closed trading a dime or 2 off that number. Given that U.S. inventory and usage would seem to say, and have been saying, that Oil should be much cheaper... it would now appear that the U.S. is no longer "the axe" in the Oil market.

Of course, if you are lame brained member of the media, or worse, a politico... the culprit is those scum bag speculators. I mean, read that story. Talk about a desire to inflame the jury. Where is the story on the continuing slide in Oil imports into the U.S.? Can't run that one. Might have to deal with reality.

Oh, well.


If you have been reading my stuff for a while, you know that I feel that the political Left and Right in the U.S. are the walking dead. Dysfunctional, mean-spirited, hypocritical in the extreme, this 2 headed, incestuous, siamese twin needs the other while simultaneously needing their respective throngs of true "believers".

I wrote this piece nearly 2 years ago. Recently, Chris Hedges, for whose intellect I have a great deal of respect, posted this article. Mr. Hedges has some very good points. Some others are the wide-of-the-mark drivel one must expect and tolerate from a "True Believer". Notice the accusatory tone of the article - its the Right and the Republicans that are the Fascists! While we, the noble and intellectually elite Left, are here to save the day... BS! Your "true believers" are just as non-sensical as the Tea Baggers by any and every measure.

Why does it have to be Fascism? Why can't it be Libertarianism? American Liberalism and what was passed for Conservatism are dead, as complete failures SHOULD BE. The "true believers" on BOTH sides have held the debate hostage with their constant barrage of pointing out the inconsistencies in the other folk's argument while frothing at the mouth with their own.

In truth, this is how political advantage is gained in our current system. You see, I think Fascism hasn't a snow ball's chance in hell here in the U.S. The U.S. is far, far more likely to break up into autonomous regions than to tolerate a Fascist government. We are coming apart at the seams with the current regulatory environment, we won't likely tolerate much more. Did I mention we don't have the ability to pay for it?

Folks like Chris Hedges are terrified to see how close they came, only to see their dreams of totalitarian Liberalism go down in the flames of Libertarian personal responsibility. Too bad, Chris. The gig is up. It was OIL that funded your group's bribes and pandering, just as it funded the Right. Then, with US$ hegemony as the world reserve currency and the currency in which Oil was priced, the international bond market continued to fund the 2 headed monster that your group is half of... but that is coming to an end.

America is NOT "yearning for Fascism". America is addicted to cheap Oil, cheap credit, and free social services - and like any addict deprived of its fix... it is going through the Detox Tremors at the moment, and that will continue for some time... until the people have been weened off the junk - the junk the 2 head monster has been pushing since FDR.


K said...

A week or two ago you mentioned you are toying with the idea of using old tires as forms to make raised beds for growing potatos. I recommend you do not. "Ecotoxicity may be a bigger problem than first thought. Studies show that zinc, heavy metals, a host of vulcanization and rubber chemicals leach into water from tires." source:

"Why does it have to be Fascism? Why can't it be Libertarianism?" I guess sheeple would prefer first to listen to the siren song of fascism before they accept the unpleasant message of libertarianism; ASSuMEing they survive the cull fascism brings.

K said...

"The South is uninhabitable without Air Conditioning"

Like plenty of generalizations, there are exceptions. For grossly obese people and ill elderly people a heat wave in the Deep South would be lethal. Cities like Hotlanta would also be hard to live in for anybody; water pipes ruined from neglect or theft, black outs at inopportune times, etc. Also they may have to choose sleeping outside where it may be cooler, but being exposed to bugs (insect and human) who would like to take some of their blood.

bureaucrat said...

I think I covered the "speculation" thing pretty well in your last post. Dumb Schoen hits the nail on the head ... there is no oil supply problem .. yet. Speculation is such a mean-spirited word :), but that seems to be the guilty party, not supply or demand as much.

42-year old investors of all stripes (like me) are looking for the "Investment of the Century," and are jumping on the peak oil bandwagon, bidding up oil prices, looking for a guaranteed big win. Things will probably play out this summer as they did in the summer of '08. Peak and pop. The near-free money available via the Fed isn't helping.

I won't retype all the crap I wrote in the last post addressing all this. ;)

(You can give up on the Libertarian thing -- we have too many old people with no savings who will demand services, and that means government and taxes. It is a miracle that after 18 months of 1% CDs that the old people haven't started to march already.)

K said...

Those taxes will just suck more money out of the economy so that it may be squandered. What will happen when the economy is no longer limping along and it is comatose with multiple organ failure?

Greg T. Jeffers said...


Thank you for the data on tires.

kathy said...

I have to laugh Greg. I usually blog evey weekday and always have a book in progress but I just don't have the time now. My little spread takes time and I don't have nearly as much land as you do. I am only posting on MWF until late fall.I love those pictures. We are still pretty barren in the Northeast. I am remembering summers in Texas when I was kid. Livable but miserable in August. Your place sure looks looks like paradise though.

PioneerPreppy said...


Did you see the article at the post carbon institute about Glen Sweetnam and the Obama admin. admitting to "looming oil decline"? I linked to it from my blog but as far as I know it is the first official nod towards peak oil by Obama and co.

Nice pics, I am not very much further North than you here in Missouri but I am guessing I am about a week or two behind in blossoms. The last few days everything has greened up nicely though.

As an alternative to tires, my grandfather used to use his worn out bee supers to stack for covering potatoes. He would cut the bottoms out and just stack em up as the vines grew. I think he used the half sized ones though not the full height ones.

As for the AC thing I guess it is more of a death-trap to those surrounded by concrete cities. As a boy I can remember my relations South of Memphis not having AC and they survived. We didn't have it here until I was almost 10 but I guess I am just North of the M-D line so it doesn't count.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Hey Kathy:

I hear you LOUD and CLEAR. It is infinitely easier to write about gardening and livestock than it is to actually DO it while parenting, working, and the rest of our lives.

I love the work. But I see clearly Orlov's point that there will be much less time for discussion and contemplation because we will actually be doing IT.

On a bright note... I exercise regularly, and fairly briskly... and it is NOTHING compared to working around here. I notice that every year I come here a little softer and a little heavier than I would like, and in no time the farm fixes that. Walking back and forth to pick up the chicken eggs, check the incubator, feed the pigs, milk the goat, work in the garden, make repairs... keeps the weight off - even though I eat the volume of a college kid.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


We had no AC in my childhood home. There were some hot days and worse nights, but you live.

Work and laboring becomes infinitely less productive during the heat - who knows, maybe that will be a good thing... slow us down a bit.

I am from Metro NYC, about 10 miles north of the NYC border. Summers are HOT in NYC! Much worse than rural Tennessee. I find the weather in much of TN, SC, NC, VA, even coastal GA, very agreeable, though the tornadoes leave something to be desired.

Stephen B. said...

Before I even read the rest of today's post, let me say that I do not consider Tennessee to be the South when it comes to heat. I'd opine that your area of TN is closer climate-wise to Boston than Miami.

I'd draw the future trouble line all around the Gulf Coast, including most of Georgia, and certainly South Florida, the latter being a place I've spent some time in, in the summer, and without AC.

I made it a point once to visit TN and I could have easily seen myself staying.

Stephen B. said...
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westexas said...

An update on three of the four largest source of imported oil for the US:

It appears likely that Canada, Mexico & Venezuela (CMV) all showed (individually & collectively) year over year net export declines in 2009, just like 2008.

CMV's combined net exports fell from 5.0 mbpd in 2004 to 4.0 mbpd in 2008. Based on EIA total liquids data, and assuming no net combined increase in consumption by the three countries, it would appear that they achieved double a double digit net export decline rate last year, with estimated net exports falling to about 3.6 mbpd in 2009, a decline rate of 10.5%/year.

The net overall production decline rate for CMV from 2004 to 2009 was 2.4%/year. If we extrapolate this production decline rate out to 2020 and assume no increase in consumption, CMV's net exports would be down to 1.6 mbpd in 2020.

K said...

You are welcome Greg.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Stephan B:

SOuth Florida would be unmanageable without AC. We had no electric for 6 WEEKS after hurricane Wilma... it sucked. But South Florida ain't The South - it might be South New York, but it ain't The South.

Boston compared to Tenn? Not even close. Boston has a miserable, long, rainy, cold, sunless winter - much like NYC. If I lived there, I would kill myself (just kidding), even though I love the Town itself.

I like the weather from Southern Va down to Charleston, SC. You get 4 seasons, but the winters are MUCH shorter and milder than the NE.

Jeff BKLYN said...
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Anonymous said...

Isn't Mexico the lion's share of decline in the past few years West-Texas?

In regards to some of Jeff BK's comments, I think that intergenerational anger will rise year by year as the "safety nets" look to disappear at the same time that long term higher unemployment and stagnant wages face the educated youth, many whom will face severe cognitive dissonance when their American dream--becomes a pipe dream.

A lot of people in my age bracket (early 30's) are already frustrated and laugh when we see our SS payments as the age rises. Mine went from 65 to 67 so far, guessing they will have to raise it again.

Of course anger over race, economic disparities (growing), and religious groups will likely rise as well. As the Wheels come off--it will become a stir fry of problems. But the US has seen other times of social change and severe trouble, I just believe our culture is less resilient than it used to be--we don't have redundant systems of key things such as food & water to help stop-gap economic problems, and our culture has moved to a culture of "me" rather than "we" which will not be helpful when tribalism of sorts becomes more important once again.

So anyone have some data on the offshore drilling that Obama is opening up, it takes years for that to come online, but any idea when it does how much theoretically that can help stop-gap the decline?


Greg T. Jeffers said...

Hey Westexas:

Canada is having an export decline?

westexas said...


Canada's net exports dropped in 2008, and unless they had a sizable consumption decline in 2009, their net exports also dropped in 2009.

Until the recent decline, Canada's net exports had been going up, and of course Mexico's net exports have been falling since they hit a production peak in 2004, and Venezuela's net exports have been falling since the late Nineties.

westexas said...

The CMV (Canada, Mexico, Venezuela) net export decline shows the key characteristic of net export declines--an accelerating rate of decline.

Their combined net export peak was 5.3 mbpd in 1997 (EIA). They hit 5.0 mbpd in 2004 and 4.0 mbpd in 2008. Assuming flat consumption, they were down to about 3.6 mbpd in 2009.

The 1997 to 2004 net export decline rate was 0.8%/year.

The 2004 to 2008 net export decline rate was 5.6%/year.

The 2008 to 2009 net export decline rate (assuming flat consumption) was 10.5%/year.

bureaucrat said...

I watch the monthly oil import numbers from EIA ...

and while Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria are up and down at any given time, Canada's exports seem to increase on a regular basis (up to 2 mbpd in December). Canadian oil truly is unconventional oil production, as the very old conventional fields of Mexico, Venezuela & Nigeria slowly waffle and peter out.

I think you have to look at Canada separately. Their engineers are able to harness "truth in production methods and numbers" a lot better than the other three countries, who have been delusional for years.

westexas said...


Note that the key EIA metric is net exports, which is defined as domestic total liquids less domestic consumption. Alberta is a large oil exporter, but the net export number drops down to about one mbpd, when overall consumption (especially Eastern Canada) is considered.

It's a measure of how oblivious we are to the net export threat, when virtually no one is aware of the fact that the combined net exports from three of our four largest sources of imported oil have dropped by about one-third since 1997, and the decline is--as expected--accelerating.

bureaucrat said...

If prices continue to remain high after the "summer driving season," you may have some rethink on our present oil situation. For now, anyway, the gas stations are all filled and the oil & gasoline in storage (EIA) is above its "average range." Kinda funny if demand is increasing.

Peak & Flatline United States + Export Land Model + Increasing Products In Storage + Increasing Demand (which assumes a better economy, which I think is phony), does not add up.

Stephen B. said...

"The Energy Department is preparing to make sweeping revisions to its U.S. natural-gas production data after finding it has been overstating output, raising new questions about the government's collection of energy information.

"The monthly gas-production data, known as the 914 report, is used by the industry and analysts as guide for everything from making capital investments to predicting future natural-gas prices and stock recommendations.

"But the Energy Information Administration, the statistical unit of the Energy Department, has uncovered a fundamental problem in the way it collects the data from producers across the country—it surveys only large producers and extrapolates its findings across the industry. That means it doesn't reflect swings in production from hundreds of smaller producers.

"The EIA plans to change its methodology this month, resulting in "significant" downward revisions in some areas, according to Gary Long, the acting director of the 914 form, who led the review.

"The Wall Street Journal last month reported that the EIA also has key deficiencies in its collection of market-moving oil-inventory data that has caused swings in its survey.

Not sure how long that link will stay current.

bureaucrat said...

Yep, I would not surprise me at all that USDOE EIA is recording national energy inventories using crayons, index cards, post-it notes and phone calls asking "Sooo, just how much 'erl you got this month, Jonesy?" :)