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Judging by the news we are starting to get in Australia, Elaine, you may be an optimist.

High-level volcanic ash

High price of oil

High price of wheat

You emphasised them all

This is looking like a disaster of biblical proportions. Somedays I wish you were wrong.


Elaine, please read this:


Yes Elaine, as PJSV suggests, please read the link on Engdahl's reversal of his thinking on peak oil.

I'd value your take on it.

I've seen the Russians' A-biotic theory debunked on other blogs, but then I'd come to believe that sunshine is bad for you and older women should take estrogen.

Like Will Rogers, it's not what I don't know that bothers me, it's that I know so much that is wrong.


I never heard about this theory. Engdahl seems to be relaiable. Anyway, we shouln'd forget this explanations. Otherwise, we will look like those who ask the FED to cut the interest rate and forget the implications on USD and inflation. I hope you Elaine can write your thoughts about this theory.


Tom Noonan

In Chapter 21 of 'Life, the Universe, and Everything', from 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe': is the story of the longest and most destructive (flying) party ever held, now into its fourth generation. This piece of satire has always struck me as a comment on our financial system; say since the deregulation of the 1980s. The party ended when the Krikkit spaceship crashed it to recover the golden bail or something.

By the way one of the principles of a very respectable group blog (academics, law, economics and the like) posted an entry about his mortgage brokerage (disclaimer?, confession?). Anyway the post seems to have been taken down, and I think it was trivial, and contained no third party revelations. Peach Home Loans: Refund Mortgage Broker arrange home loans in Melbourne Sydney and Brisbane. www.peachhomeloans.com.au/ . Scams are terribly socially acceptable in Aus; viz. the picaresque history of the Australian Wheat Board. By the same token the American legal system seems to me to be rather suspicious.

Final comment:
I am the Spirit who always denies, and righteously so.
Because everything that comes up, must go down again.
It would be better if nothing came up.
What you call evil then, is my natural place.

For those who know the reference - I have never read a commentary on it that really gets it.


I read the Engdahl article, and I'm not particularly impressed. For example, he quotes: "They are primordial materials which have been erupted from great depths."

This is nonsense. Oil breaks down at high temperatures into methane and a tarry residue (which is probably where tar sands come from). There simply is no conventional oil deep in the earth. Below a couple miles down, oil can't exist because it is too hot. This has nothing to do with biogenesis, it is just the way oil reacts to heat. So, unless the Russians want to argue that the earth has a cool, creamy nougat center of oil, oil isn't going to bubble up from the depths.

As an aside, one of the stronger arguments in favor of biogenesis is that oil is only found in rocks of a certain age (i.e. ones that date back to the age of dinosaurs). If abiogenesis is true, one would expect the age of the rocks to not matter very much.

Now, there has been a respected abiogenesis theory in the west since the 50s or 60s. It was created by the astronomers Bondi & Gold (of Steady Stat Universe fame, and definitely not Russians). We know there is a lot methane in space, and that complex hydrocarbons can form by molecules colliding. However, ultraviolet radiation breaks those molecules down again, so in the relatively open areas of space, you don't get many hydrocarbons that are more complex than methane.

Gold hypothesized that under the right circumstances the rate of acretion might be greater than the rate of molecule breakdown (other gases in the area blocking UV radiation, frex). In that case, the chemistry for forming more complex hydrocarbons becomes plausible. All the building blocks are there in large quantities.

Thus it is entirely reasonable that there might be a lot of complex hydrocarbons in space (whether there is conventional crude oil is another thing entirely). It is entirely reasonable that some of those hydrocarbons might have been gathered up by the earth in its early days.

However, there is nothing, zip, nada, in support of this, other than an interesting theory and some spectragraphs of simple hydrocarbons like methane. Even if it is true, the molten magma that permeates the mantle, and certainly the molten nickel-iron core, of the earth would have cooked it completely.

Thus, there is no oil in deep waters of the Atlantic, because those rocks oozed up as magma and were to hot for oil. There is no oil in granite because granite is an igneous rock that was extruded as magma (too hot for oil). There is no oil in places like the Deccan Traps in India (vast fields made by magma flows 70 million years ago), because the rock was too hot for oil. In addition, any land that subducted beneath a continental plate that did have oil, would have had the oil cooked out of it.

The bottom line is that people have been looking for oil intensely for the last century. The Chinese and Americans, in particular, have been scouring the land for it. Biogenesis or abiogenesis, no one is finding oil. The theory of peak oil does not in any way depend on biogenesis. It depends on oil appearing in fields that get depleted by pumping. The oil could have formed on Pluto for all it matters.

IMO, global warming is more likely to be wrong than peak oil. I will also note that, if oil is indeed a nearly limitless resource, all we've done is hopped from the frying pan of peak oil to the fire of global warming.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

I will explain what a 'peak' is...I live on one...and how the oil wells in Russia work as well as space gases and such.

The most generous supply of energy is near to us and dear to us: the sun. In so many ways. And there are black holes, the ultimate energy source. And the gravest danger to our very existence.

And the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy is still one of my favorite TV shows. And then there is Dr. Who.....


Elaine said "But of course, my view is, people never learn much from life." Agree. Indeed. People never learn much from life except how to get to the bar. Y Gassett said "The one certain thing you can learn from history is that people don't learn from it."


thanks for that breakdown shargash. i'm a commodity trader and i know that background knowledge is going to come in handy at some point in the near future. probably when crude gets too high, this anti-peak oil theory hits the wires to calm fears, crude corrects and sells off, people think the run is done, then boom, reality re-sets in and we're off to the races again... of course, if we don't bomb iran first and setoff ww3

ELAINE this is probably the best blog i have ever come across. and i'm an insomniatic information hound, so that's a MAJOR compliment =) i must say i'm impressed.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Why, thank you, Acrabbe!

I am a totally weird person. One economics publisher told me, 'We must terminate you because you talk about magic too much.'

Yet this is the ultimate essence of fiat money systems! Refusing to understand this cripples many economics writers who think our systems are rational. Heh. The Accountants are rationalists! And who listens to them? Not Enron, not our government!


All around my town people have spent the entire summer fixing up houses -- from tiny starter homes to huge mansions. Everything is redone and new flowers and shrubs are planted and then...

a "for sale" sign appears in the yard.

I have yet to see anyone fix their house just because they live in it. That used to be quite common. Now, construction of any kind is like a dead canary in a mine: that house is up for sale.

And none of them are selling! Yet, the massive restoration work continues and invariably the finished house is then put up for sale. No one seems to notice that other houses that were remodeled have not sold in over a year or more. They have "price reduced" signs out now.

There are mansions for sale that used to be off-limits to the underclass. They were inherited or sold to friends or family in private transactions. They never had a "for sale" sign in their yard. Now, several are available to anyone who wants one. My favorite stone mansion is for sale, but alas, I do not have the money to buy it.

I have never understood the herd mentality. Never.

Neuro Artist

I think a lot of people try to sell their house at this point, because they can't afford it or they think that they will loose by selling it later. Of course it would have been much better to have sold the house when people thought it was a foolproof way of earning lots of money buying an expensive house. But as Elaine points out people never learn from history. Even if they do know about history they would tend to think it is different today.

Ready for the last rally on the stockmarket? Let the buy-out frenzy begin, the chinese, japanese and the oil-sheikhs are anxious to change their papers into something more tangible.

Ground controll to Major Tom? Take your protein pills and put the helmets on, commencing countdown...

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