Friday's open thread...

All exchanges of ideas and wisdom are welcome. Also, feel free to drop in links to breaking news, etc.
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I'm going to give this a shot here to see what others may think about it:

Given that the governing apparatus of a country cannot operate under conditions in which there is a loss of control of the populace, it is in the best interests of the governing apparatus to avoid those conditions.
History is full of examples when governments have lost control of the populace.
This country was created as a result of just such an instance.
There have been and will be times when an event or events have and will occur that precipitate loss of control.

There also are times when such events were known in advance to be more than likely or even inevitable.
In these cases, upon recognition of the likelihood or inevitability of such an event it can be assumed that a government or governments will take steps to organize systems and means of control in advance.

It is well known that fear is a means of control.

Distraction can work for a while.

Surveillance is a tool of control.

During a period of lack of control the legal system can be helpful in aiding a degree of control. Putting laws in place prior to such a period for the purpose of aiding control would be a rational step for a government to take.

Attempts to ameliorate the effects of or forestall a known, upcoming control-threatening event would be seen as a viable course to take. Depending on how extreme the loss of control is seen to be possible, such attempts can get quite drastic.

Force applied toward a country's own populace is another means available if control slips to a certain point.

Nobody likes lack of control.

The first 5 of the above 6 have been taking place over the last several years with respect to a known upcoming event.

A spokesperson for The Bank for International Settlements has said, "Everyone needs to commit to some unpleasant compromises now, in order to avoid even more unpleasant alternatives in the future.",,8209-1671957,00.html
They do mean everyone, they do mean unpleasant and they do mean commit.

However, it is most likely the case that these "unpleasant compromises" will only briefly forestall the event.

The developed world's physical and economic infrastructure is built on oil and its maintenance is built on the assumption of an ever increasing supply of oil.

Alternatives to oil, at this time and into the next 10 to 15 years, are not sufficiently developed enough to even nearly approach filling oil's shoes.

The event, known as "peak oil", and how geopolitics has lately been dictated by it, the threat it poses as an agent for loss of control and how seriously that threat is being taken by the world's governments and the actions taken to deal with that explains a lot of goings on.

Cheney's secret energy confab is secret for a reason.

The Patriot Act ain't just for terrorists.

The invasion of Iraq wasn't a response to terrorism.

The "us" versus "them" of people calling themselves Muslims vs people calling themselves Christian has not been pursued for religious reasons.

The fear that is constantly being pushed on the world over terrorism is not being pushed as a means to control terrorists.

It may very well be that some acts attributed to "evil terrorists" are not what you think.

It is not being said by some that bin laden is possibly hiding in Iran because getting bin laden is a goal.

China and India aren't doing large oil and gas deals all over the world NOW at a frantic pace because they think the price might go down any time soon or that availability will increase in the future.

All the big private oil companies don't now sport hyphenated names as a fashion statement.

The "failure" to secure Iraq could very well be purposeful.
Charges of incompetence roll off the back of this administration like water off a duck. Indeed, those who have demonstrated "incompetence" have been rewarded.
The oil there can't be used up if you get blown up trying to get it out of the ground. In a way it's become a sort of "strategic reserve" under the present conditions there. When it is finally seen as absolutely necessary to tap into it, you'll see the security situation improve drastically...but not until then. It will also have greatly increased in value by then.

Nearly every political analysis of current events should include peak oil in its formula.

In addition, it's been argued by some that being a highly effective carcinogen/poison depleted uranium was deliberately used to slowly kill off a high percentage of Iraqis, draining the swamp through attrition over a 20-30 year timespan that started with the first gulf war, and Iraq's highly destabilized condition will hasten the process, as ever more DU is spread across the country. And as dougr notes, there's the very diliberate official hate campaign being directed at Islam. I would add another item, and that is the very longstanding nativist hatred/racism of Asians, particularly Chinese. It is well to keep this in mind as you read Liu's latest item,, which is very well worth the time although he does make a big gaff by not recognizing that North America's NG extraction is in decline by saying the opposite.

I trust everyone saw the item demanding US withdrawl from all of Central Asia?

Do please read the Liu piece as it does a very good job in explaining in detail why I knew the UnoCal deal would be blocked for national security reasons.

Last point, the only Chinese to ever go on an offensive outside of the main Chinese national area as exemplefied by its current borders were the non-Chinese Mongols (their Korean intervention was defensive from their pov), which makes me wonder if modern China will continue that tradition or will China emulate the Imperalist powers as Japan did and directly occupy another country to secure its resources?

My question is:

What has been the followup to the CERA report. Is it something more than a press release, and has ASPO or any other peak oil group with some $$ bought it to pick it apart yet. CERA keeps getting cited in the media as pointer that peak oil isn't a concern.

This shouldn't slip through the cracks just yet.

It's not true that the industrialized world runs on oil; to give just one example, the electric power sector and everything which depends on it runs on an olio of coal, natural gas, nuclear, water and wind with a few other sources for herbs and spices.

It's much more correct to say that the world's transport runs on oil.  This appears relatively intractable at the moment, but it is possible to meet 1.8 times US transport energy needs from zinc, recycled using biomass in thermochemical reactors.  (It is also possible to reduce zinc hydroxide to metal using electricity, which is the standard refining method; this could be done easily using wind power.)

Change or die?  Easy choice; we've been changing things for centuries, why would we stop now?

The term "Peak Oil" is a clever mind bender just as are many of the other things I've been ranting about under the "Terrorism Hits London" comments.

"Peak Oil" instills in the mind the idea that a sharp crisis (a "peak") will occur soon. Perhaps many who visit this Drum page are convinced that "Collapse of Civilization" (using Jared Diamond's title) will follow soon after.

Those thought patterns are not reasonable ones. They are emotional ones.

In truth, we humans (engineers, poets, or other types) do not know how much petroleum is down under the ground. Hubbert did not know. But he did detect a slow methodical process. The easy stuff gushed out under its own pressure. Then the gusher phase ended and we had to start sucking harder and harder through our straws. Eventually, the cost of sucking exceeded the monetary profit that was to be had from the exercise. So we moved on. We found new exotic places to make sucking sounds in: Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Venezuala, Nigeria. Eventually those suckers are going to demand too much sucking energy and we will quit there too.

Our governments are going to gaze around and spot some coal mines. Soon coal will be king once again. The problem is not that of running out of energy. The problem is greenhouse gases (GHG's) and destruction of our planet.

Too bad Tony Blair could not get Bushie to confess that God will not save us on this one. We're going to have to do it on our own and we are going to have to do it now.

Jimmy Carter was right.
Ronald Reagan was right off his rocker when he pulled those solar panels off the White House roof.
We cheered the movie pretender ("actor" as we call them) and booed the nerdy engineer. It is time for us to re-visit our Hollywood Values.

Praise the Poetic Engineers.

Peak oil or "peaking oil" - we can't know exactly when its going to happen. The "peak" and its effects in all their glory may not visit us for years, perhaps decades.

With such a complex subject and the limited information - plenty of it to be sure but limited in scope just the same - that we have it will be impossible to nail *the* peak.

But clearly it will be easy to spot politics in motion and global conflicts. "peak actual capacity" - when taking into current and potential future conflicts - may be here much sooner than "peak possible output".

It just getting announced that Billy R is going to retire as well...ergo, yet another thing to distract the media from energy issues for the next three months, two SC positions and the chief justice battle. It oughta be interesting, at least.

Point is ...

("peaks" have points don't they?)

Global Warming is the real crisis

It has no "peak" to pique people's interest

WE have been pumping CO2 into the air for millenium

Now that population is exploding, China & India are becoming Westernized and the frenzy for grabbing oil and burning it increases exponentially, things are going to get hotter and more acidic

PO is a way to wake up the sleeping SUV mom.
No oil means no more quick trips to the super-duper market
No oil means no more fully stocked shelves in the super market
No oil means no way to feed the off-farm family

It ain't technical anymore ...
It's family values


Perhaps you would care to explain your Liu obsession. Every time an article appears in the semi-newspaper Asia Times (The first button on their website says "Write for us"), I wait a day or so for your breathless post.

I tried, apparently like a lot of other people, to find out anything out Henry Liu, but only found this very amusing Asia Times Forum (link below). He claims to have a Harvard degree, have been a professor, and to have an investment group. Google doesn't turn up anything - maybe you are Henry Liu.

Actually this is the whole "Who is Liu?" thread. No conclusion, but again, very amusing

Liu was a professor of Archtecture and Planning at UCLA before starting an investment firm in New York, where he is currently. He was involved in the early evolution of interdisciplinary research in Urban Planning and Architecture at UCLA in the early 1970's which set the framework from which he approaches things.


The committee, which was chaired by Chancellor Vern O. Knudsen, established the need for a school of architecture and recommended the appointment of a dean to prepare a suitable program.

On May 12, 1961, the Office of the President issued a statement reiterating the above, but adding the need for facilities in the field of city and regional planning. The committee emphasized the dynamic growth of southern California and the accessibility to practicing architects and planners in the area.

George A. Dudley's appointment as dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning was announced on November 8, 1964. Other appointments followed soon: Peter Kamnitzer was appointed associate professor and Henry C. K. Liu and Denise V. Scott Brown were appointed acting associate professors. Calvin Hamilton, planning director of the city of Los Angeles was appointed lecturer and a panel of distinguished visitors was appointed for the academic years 1966-68.

I also found this post below to the marxist-leninist list, so he is neither Karlof nor a fictional charactor, as I had suspected. However, neither his professorship 40 years ago nor his more recent activity lends much credibility to his views. The Asia Times as you may know is really just a blog. It has no print edition and I don't believe any staff.

I disagree with most of the anti-American, marxist inspired commentary from both Rajiv and Karlof, but respect the strength of their opinions and realize they are in line with other posters. I think you contribute to healthly discussion on this site. My point is that citing Henry Liu and the Asia Time as authorities, doesn't do much for your credibility. Be clear that you are not citing mainstream people with qualifications, but avowed communists.

Americans will believe and react to peak oil, but aren't going to buy into discredited economic theories and favorable assessments of Chavez and Castro. I think the peak oil community needs to distance itself for deindustrialist, marxist anti-Americans or no one is going to listen to any of us. Next time you find yourself asking, "why aren't people listening to us", remember we heard all the marxist enthusiasm last time around and remember how it ended.

From: Henry C.K. Liu
Subject: [M-L L] Re: How do we defeat the reformist ideology ? (reply to Keithand George)
Date: Wednesday, April 21, 1999 7:02 AM


The house/field slave distinction is the most potent and timeless image of
revolutionary fidelity.
Both industrial and post industrial workers have clear characteristics of
house slaves. Trade Unionism basically accepts the necessity of the
exploitative relationship between capital and labor and between management and
employees. Trade Unionism struggles for the welfare of the members of a guild
and is antagonistic to labor in general.
Industrial Unionism, since the advent of globalization, has been unable and
unwilling to shift its traditional universal struggle on behalf of all labor
in the domestic arena to an universal struggle on behalf of global labor. It
opposes free immigration of workers to the core, and the export of
labor-intensive manufacturing to the periphery.
The proletariat in Chinese revolutionary literature is translated as the
property-less class, not just industrial workers.
Historical conditions have rendered the industrial worker a economic elitist
and a counter-revolutionary.
The target of the revolution is the role of capital.
The enemy is the ownership of capital and the elaborate systems that supports
this immoral concept.
Relying on industrial and post industrial workers for waging the revolution is
bound to end in disappointment, for their revolutionary zeal declines directly
in proportion to concessions from management.
The only true revolutionary soldiers are the employed, the oppressed
minorities, the ideological students, the committed intellectuals and
professional revolutionaries.
The rest of society would have to be led by the nose into the new socialist
world order.


Henry C.K. Liu

Here is more on Liu from Google. He is a marxist and thinks Mao compares favorably to Lincoln. Again you have a right to believe this, but you should understand this would be rightly ridiculed by the majority of Americans. And no one who knows that this is your source is going to think you bring any impartiality to discussions peak oil. No wonder the two of you seem to roll in glee at any every swip at the U.S. You are waiting for the revolution and hoping it comes dressed as peak oil. Fanatics.

"Our Henry is a hard and fast Marxist," writes Sean Corrigan,


Mao and Lincoln

What the majority of Americans think and riducle has no relation is in most cases "right," if by that term you mean "true" or "empircally verifiable as correct." To think so is to live in an imaginary world. The majority of Americans, remember, fell for the crap Bush/Blair rattled on endlessly about in setting up the invasion and occupation of Iraq regardless of the empirical evidence at the time pointing to exactly the opposite of what they said.

I suspect that most Americans have never read Marx and have no idea how cogent his analysis of capitalism as an economic system was. So while they may riducle "Marxists" I doubt they are doing so "rightly." (indeed Most Americans don't know the difference between Marx and "communism"). Are "communists" hopeless utopians? Yes. But so are free market capitalists. Neither has been able to bring about an end to human suffering as near as I can see.

While we are on the topic of what most Americans think, I suspect that most do not. They BELIEVE (well we all do more or less). And they are carefully shepherded in those beliefs by a massively funded corporate, government, and religious BELIEF machine. So, trying to convince them (or us for that matter) of anything that is outside of the purview of common sense (a.k.a BELIEFS), is night impossible. (BTW, criticizing corporations and the government is a well established American pass-time that well precedes the advent of communism, every read your Sam Clements?).

Convincing the majority of the American people of peak oil before the crisis is a fools errand. Why, I can go out my front door right now and buy all the gas I want and more. There is no shortage (thought here may be price gouging by greedy oil companies). Besides, no higher authority than the United States government has said that we have oil resources that can last decades if not hundreds of years, so take your crazy scare tactics and shove them. Me and the kids have to load up the Suburban for a little league game and a dance recital. I just hope no terrorists have rigged the seats with explosives! Hmm, wonder if we should swing through the McDonalds drive through and pick up dinner on the way. Super Size Me, it's the American way!

I appreciate your clear and fair response to my earlier posts. I agree with a lot of what you say. Marx was clearly a cogent analyst of capitalism, particularly as it existing at the time of his writing. But this is the realm of theory, which I recall you have previously battered. You are also correct is assigning a parity to "communists" and pure "capitalists". I am in neither camp and think that both unfettered application of either approach would lead to doom.

However, this is a case where we don't need to discuss theory because there is a fairly developed track record of the two ideas in practice. There is a lot to what you say about American life. But really this more applies to humans in general. People just want to life and bring up their families in peace and prosperity. There never will be a civilization in which all people are actively engaged in politics.

I don't agree that Americans are carefully shepherded in their beliefs. There is also a very patronizing implication that you are better than them because you can mock their lives and question their values. In my youth, I felt much the way you feel now, but I either went through voluntary reeducation, or on my own realized that maybe the American life is what Americans want.

The U.S. has one of the world's most dynamic and open media cultures and still is near the top of media freedom. The New York Times remains the paper of record. Blogs, like this one, operate unregulated and uncensored. I think it is very hard to claim that people are blinkered and shielded from critical reasoning.

So let's turn to Marxism. It has been tried in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, North Korea. Everywhere it has led to ruined economies and millions of death, at the hands of man or through the failure of the system to be able to sustain them. You can say these aren't real examples of communism, but each has been embraced by American communists.

And now in turn, modern Marxists look to figures such as Chavez, as Karlof did a few days ago. In a few years he has ruined Venezuela they will deny it, as they denied their earlier enthusiasm for Stalin (American Communist Party), Pol Pot (Chomsky), Mao (Liu) and the other line up of murderers. Liu’s post, which I cited above, sees trade unionists as house slaves and an impediment to the ultimate goal of a revolution.

I am not an unquestioning supporter of the US and oppose much of what Bush is doing. I look forward to the day he is removed. I think corporations have too much influence, but know that they also provide jobs and livelihood for people. I am smart enough to know that while a line of fat people pouring into McDonalds is not the life I want, it is better than the options Marxism offers.

I am sure that those advocating the pure marxism that Liu esposes are far more blinded more ignorant of reality than the Americans you ridicule. If they are educated and well-read, their crime is greater. They don't have the excuse of being sheppered, but still want to lead people down a road they will never choose voluntarily because they know the hell thet lies at the end of it.

Americans have choices and make decisions based on a set of information greater than that of virtually any country on the planet. Judged against some unattainable ideal, it comes up short, I admit. But when compared to the horrors communism has ravaged this planet with it is a paradise.

" Pol Pot (Chomsky)"

What a rube, falling for this propaganda against Chomsky.

Well.  So much for the value and pertinence of THIS thread.


Sorry the rube is you. And those falling for Marxism. Here is some documentation, from liberal Economist Brad DeLong.

1. Take a look at Chomsky's 1979 After the Cataclysm:

If a serious studyÂ…is someday undertaken, it may well be discoveredÂ…that the Khmer Rouge programs elicited a positive responseÂ…because they dealt with fundamental problems rooted in the feudal past and exacerbated by the imperial system.Â… Such a study, however, has yet to be undertaken.

2. But it gets worse. Go back to your Nation of 1977, and consider the paragraph:

"...executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing."

Now watch Karlof in a few years. "What a rube, I never supported Chavez."

Think, you missed my point. We are all rubes from one time to the next. Americans, myself included, seem to be particularly susceptible to the stories and theories others craft for us, I think, because we have built such a fortress around ourselves (thoughl, certainly part of it has been built for us).

As for the latter, try a little test: Go ahead, watch your 11 O'Clock news and tell me what's missing...How about 6 O'Clock, national news. Hey, try those 24 hour networks. Is that poor wretch still missing in Aruba? How about the tragic tale of the kid in Montana (the story is awful, I admit -- but it pales when placed next to the story yof 1000's of little Iraqi girls I suspect, seems you could fill 24 hours telling stories about the Iraqi girls can't you?).

Yes, we are awash in information. But somebody forgot to filter out the crap and concentrate in the info. (i.e., a differenence that makes a difference). Information essential to maintaining a vigorous democratic society. -- That's why I for one am on the internet to pursue the issue of energy security and our future prosperity. (of course the web is full of crap too -- what's a consumer to do??!!)

Now, about Liu. I for one don't see anything about the Asian Times piece that smacks of advocacy for communism. At least so far -- I am not yet through the entire piece. So, what does communism have to do with anything. It discredits him? Maybe for some, but I would prefer a careful dissection of what he has to say, rather than simply dissmissing his piece because he may be or may have been a communist. Most Americans have never heard of him, so nobody is going to go on a national forum and cite him as the basis of am advocacy of changing our energy policies and patterns of energy consumption.

What I do see in his piece is a lot of assertions about US trade policy being in the service of US unilateralism. All interesting, and all subjet to cross verification from alternative sources, should someone have the time. I for one choose to BELIEVE him, for the moment. All useful points to consider when trying to get a handle on a story that seems to help us better understand the global economy and the US role in it -- there ARE other stories, I admit. But, as a professional academic who spends most of the hours in the week thinking about economies and how they are played out at the local level, I guess I want to know the stories that are out there. Marxists and neoclassical economists alike. Liu is a useful point of passing interest in this regard.

On a personal note. I very much enjoy karlof1's posts. There are some things he/she has posted I am not sure of. Fair enough since I suppose folks find my postings disagreeable from time to time (happily for me I don't followup with the responses to every one of my postings :-~. But as a rule and from my point of view karlof1 has a lot of very useful things to say. Pointing out the latest Liu articles have been, for me at least, particularly useful as informative reading. I don't care if he/she is a communist. No more than if he/she was a Buddhist or a member of the Royal Society of Day-Old Tea Drinkers. It would be un-American if I did.


I can see why you don't follow up with the responses to everyone of your postings. If you gave each one this much thought, you would have no time left in the day. I am glad to have responded to my and I am listening.

Unfortunately, I can't take your TV test. I don't have a TV. How's that for a good capitalist. I don't know the answer about the balance in news between tabloid and serious. I do think most modern TV news is entertainment more than education. However, I am not sure showing Iraqi girls would help much either. You can paint whatever picture you want with journalism by dead body. If a program showed the thousands of children who are victims of car accidents, people might think more about driving, but I don't know if it would be good journalism.

I haven't read the Liu piece and wasn't referring to it's contents as communism. I was pointing to his comments that I pasted in an earlier post (6:17 pm), to the marxist-leninist newsgroup. I didn't assign the term to him. However, I do agree with you that all opinions should be heard. It's just that Karlof jumps eagerly out every single time Liu publishes something as if he is the single authority. I think I have a right, after about the 10th time, to provide a bit of context.

I do think the marxist angle is relevant, although it certainly does not discredit anyone. Perhaps my words were a bit strong. An analogy would be something Lee Raymond said. Just because he is the head of Exxon, doesn't discredit him, but it's certanly a good reason to question his motive. He brings an ideological perspective that influences what he says. Likewise, with marxists and anti-industrialists, I think they come to peak oil with their preconceptions. I don't discard their points, but take them with the same lump of sand I would reserve for Raymond if he ventured in here.

I am glad that you are open to hearing from Marxists and neoclassical economists. However, overall the Marxists get a much softer treatment here than someone advocating a market system, although as I have mentioned earlier, the market has done a lot more for mankind than Marx and offers a lot more in getting us past peak oil. But all things in moderation and I am not a fundamentalist in any way.

I am also open to hearing what others have to say, but will hold tightly to my right to question them. As I said, Karlof posted 10-20 times before he got my goat. Personally, I do think that most modern marxists are hypocrits who wouldn't walk the walk for a second. So when i hear someone talk about cruising around the Pacific Northwest in their new Prius embracing a pretty radical marxist (read my post of 6:17 pm) who prefers Mao to Lincoln, and cheering on a dictator like Chavez who is in the process of wrecking his country and much of Latin America, I don't feel that I'm out of line in giving him the treatment others would reserve for the neoclassicist.

Why did I make reference to Liu's article? Does the facts it cites substantiate my position regarding the approval/denial of the Chinese/UnoCal deal and provide beyond a reasonable basis for my assessment? Besides the other later questions I raised, those were the only two at issue.

The whole thread is rather amusing--me Liu!? Given what I know of his experiences and accomplishments and affluence, I would actually be honored, but I cannot be him any more than he can be me. Unfortunately, "Think" shows ignorance of recent threads where I've disclosed much of my identity and philosophy, which prods others like Tedman, who prod me in return. Just so all know, my philospohy/religion is karlof1ism, a system of thought now almost 45 year's old--a venerable institution. I even do indulgences. So much for killing/smearing the messenger, what about the message: Will a major resource war erupt between a coalition of Eurasian powers and the USA and how might that occur?

What's the difference between the communist commisar and the fascist apparatchik? The former has a red hat and arm band, while the latter's are black. I wonder if "Think" knows what a soviet is?

But enough, for those with the burden of knowledge and wisdom, the load is heavy which enlightening others lessens. That is why we converse and try to remain civil. We are on the cutting edge of something very dark approaching, a potentially violent change in paradigm, a change no human can stop but can surely worsen. My analysis is that to avoid the greatest longterm pain and for my progeny to have a chance "modern" "western" culture must change from gain and consume to sustain and preserve.

Very interesting and enjoyable posts on this thread here .

Your thoughts took my mind off of the future of my local situation and what my neighbors might do when they miss a few payments, a few meals , a few friends. I can only express my thougts with simple one liners.... like is pedal to the metal, over the cliff full speed .... it's working, why change it ...... tell me what I want to hear..... That russian guy said we were a decadent country but you are not interested in what decadent means, yeah ..... Just a little more noise at the party.

$54? What's going on?

I took a look at the nymex site:

And if I'm reading this right, some unkown number of contracts have traded electronically for August, September and October have all traded at $54.

This is a bit of as surprise as those months closed at 59.63, 60.64, and 61.29, respectively.

Did I miss some news?

Hey!!! I want a philosophy named after my blog-id too! ;-)

Karlof1 is right. The underlying subject here is rather dark indeed (assuming there is no easy one for one replacement of petroleum as an energy source). And this blog has been a very useful source for exchange of informed understandings. Pooling knoweldge can make the task of discussing these issues with others more effective than each of us could come up with individually in disparate parts of the world.

If things go sour, the most conservative estimates (excluding the obvious outliers like 2025) say we have 10 years. Other say the time to act is now. We can see that major players on the global scene like US/UK, Europe, Russia, Japan, and China aren't waiting around to see who is correct. Their are positioning themselves NOW.

But, at home, our friends and neighbors are not. At least not enough of them. (though this blog's very existence might suggest something afoot in the grassroots). So, I suppose on thread to consider is ways of talking to people about energy and peak oil that will appeal to them before the crisis. Some thoughts have been expressed in the past. How about some more ideas?

Now I have a floor to install (Hey, I got to spend some of that California home equity!)...


I was reading some of the "google news" stories, with the search "gas prices." It was interesting. A number of papers reported "new highs" for their areas, and quoted their citizens saying "gas prices are too high" ... but none really looked ahead a year or suggested what to expect.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. I get the idea that some folks just think prices are "too high" and that they should just go down again.

Ten years isn't a very long time to shift a lot of infrastructure, Tedman.  If we are going to be seeing big problems in 2015, the time to start doing something about it is 1995-2005.

Whoops, late already!

From what I've been seeing, the only possibly viable semi-substitute for cheap oil is cheap coal. Which we do have a lot of. I dont know much about coal other than it burns, and real dirty at that. I've heard theres ways that coal can be treated to be cleaner burning, but not sure if thats very realistic. Also, not sure how/if coal can be easily converted into some form of fuel that standard/modified internal combustion engines can use. Coal might just end up being used the same way it had been used a hundred years ago, in which case the air pollution from current populations using similar per-capita amounts of coal would be devastating, wouldnt it? Even if using coal on a massive scale is insane for the future of the planet, I'm afraid people will do it regardless, if thats the cheapest way they have of staying warm.

Ok ... so I took a look around for the zinc cycle to find out more .. and found this article about a 300 kw test plant that uses this technology. That seems impressive to me. If this can be done on a massive scale (is there even enough zinc to support the current energy requirements?) ... I have more reading to do.

Pinchy:  You'll find other links and my thoughts on the matter zinc here, and some more here.

I hate it when you find you a word out but only after you've published. ;-)

Does anyone have any clue what the amount of embodied energy might be in solar thermal plants like this? (I see lots and lots of metal in the pictures, so it's presumably respectable, but I'd like to compare quantitatively with the energy in the zinc output).

Also, anyone know anything about the energetic effort required in mining zinc?

Also, what is the 300kW exactly? The amount of energy in the sunlight captured by the mirrors? Or the amount of energy stored in the zinc?

Is the efficiency figure of 30% calculated versus sunlight falling on the whole area of the plant, or only on the sunlit areas of the mirrors? (Mirrors shading other mirrors is a significant issue with solar heat plants).

Either way, it's presumably a peak figure; the capacity factor will be fairly low due to nighttime, low angle sun in evening and morning, winter, clouds, etc.

For you all; the world uses 11 Terra Joule in total energy every day...
This is at the moment only possible with fossile fuels. The rest doesn't come close:

So we have only one choice at the moment: reduce or use coal.

I wonder if that is going to be a choice at all.....

Roger:  The Earth receives about 1360 W/m^2 of sunlight at the top of the atmosphere.  That's 174,000 terajoules [note spelling] per second over the Earth's 6380 km radius disc.

Stuart:  I don't know about embodied energy, but I've been doing a little checking about cost.  A document I found which compares trough vs. power-tower solar thermal plants lists a cost of $3622/kW for a 200 kWe power-tower plant.  How much energy is involved, I can't say; a lot of the bulk of such a plant is mirrors, and it seems possible that you could run a glass plant directly on thermal energy and escape the middleman.