Drumbeat: May 24, 2013

Crude Landlocked as Canadians Join U.S. to Halt Pipelines

British Columbia, the Canadian province whose official slogan to its own beauty is “Super, Natural,” is invoking another saying: “No more supertankers.”

That’s potentially big trouble in a nation where oil exports amount to $73 billion annually and the industry employs more than 550,000 workers. It’s also a bad omen for nations, notably China, that have invested billions in Canadian oil projects with expectations that they will one day be able to buy vast quantities of heavy Canadian crude.

House Passes Keystone Bill as White House Vows Veto

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the eighth time congressional Republicans have advanced a measure promoting the project.

Democrats called yesterday’s vote in the Republican-controlled chamber a largely symbolic effort to score political points because the bill was unlikely to become law. The Senate, where Democrats have the majority, isn’t considering similar legislation, and President Barack Obama’s administration has threatened a veto should the bill emerge from Congress.

Texas Farmers Lose Another Bid to Block Keystone Pipeline

TransCanada Corp. won another of the remaining Texas state-court challenges by landowners trying to block construction of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline across their property.

Cheap shale gas bubble 'will burst within 2-4 years': Expert

The current shale gas boom which has bathed the US economy in cheap energy will soon go bust, a former gas industry geologist has told EurActiv.

The future of shale gas in Europe was high on the agenda at an EU summit in Brussels yesterday (22 May), with leaders stressing the “crucial” role that such indigenous energy resources could play in reviving industry.

But according to David Hughes, a geoscientist and former team leader on unconventional gas for the Canadian Potential Gas Committee, the US boom on which many base their expectations is founded on shifting sands.

WTI Heads for Biggest Weekly Decline in a Month on Supply

West Texas Intermediate headed for its biggest weekly drop in more than a month amid signs of rising U.S. oil inventories and a global economic slowdown.

Futures slid as much as 0.8 percent in New York. Prices may decline next week amid speculation that U.S. fuel supplies will be sufficient to meet summer demand after factory output in China shrank for the first time in seven months, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recommended selling WTI and buying Brent contracts for December 2014 as supplies accumulate on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Oil Options Volatility Rises as Futures Decline Third Day

Crude oil options volatility rose as the underlying futures fell for a third straight session.

Implied volatility for at-the-money options expiring in July, a measure of expected price swings in futures and a gauge of options prices, was 22.5 percent at 1:35 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from 22.06 percent yesterday.

Gulf Crudes Strengthen as Volume Declines During Rollover Period

Gulf Coast crude oils strengthened on the spot market during the three-day rollover period characterized by below-normal volume and erratic pricing.

Russia to steeply cut Baltic oil loadings

LONDON: Russia will steeply cut Urals crude oil exports from Baltic ports in June and load a total of 58 cargoes compared to 70 cargoes in May, trading sources said on Friday citing a loading schedule.

OPEC to Keep Exports Stable Amid Supply Glut, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will keep crude shipments little changed into early next month as abundant inventories cap demand, tanker tracker Oil Movements said.

Gasoil Ship Rates Rising in Northwest Europe as BP Takes Tankers

Rates to ship gasoil in northwest Europe are rising after BP Plc booked tankers to take refined fuel from the region to Algeria, draining vessel supply.

U.S. April Gasoline Use Fell From Year Earlier, API Says

U.S. gasoline consumption in April dropped to the lowest level for the month in 13 years, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Primorsk June Urals Crude Shipments Lowest Since at Least 2008

Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, plans to ship less than one million barrels a day of Urals crude from Primorsk port on the Baltic Sea for the first time since at least 2008, a preliminary loading program showed.

India: Power Failures Set Off Protests

A blistering heat wave has swept across most parts of north and western India, causing widespread electricity cuts and leading residents to protest and even attack power company officials and property.

UK gas supply six hours from running out in March

Britain came within six hours of running out of natural gas in March, according to a senior energy official, highlighting the risk of supply shortages amid declining domestic production and a growing reliance on imports.

“We really only had six hours’ worth of gas left in storage as a buffer,” said Rob Hastings, director of energy and infrastructure at the Crown Estate, the property portfolio managed on behalf of the Queen. “If it had run any lower it would have meant . . . interruptions to supply.”

How to Invest in Peak Oil

In the following video, Motley Fool energy analysts Joel South and Taylor Muckerman discuss a theory that has been around for 40 years -- the idea of peak oil. Joel tells investors that this won't mean that we run out of oil completely; rather, it means the end of oil that is cheap to produce, as resources that are easily accessed begin to dwindle. He then gives investors a few possible long-term plays to make to capitalize on this trend.

Australia Lures $21 Billion Bet on Coal Rebound

Coal’s worst slump in seven years has failed to deter GVK Group and Adani Enterprises Ltd. from pressing ahead with a $21 billion bet on Australia’s Galilee Basin as other companies shelve projects amid rising costs.

Sinopec's Addax seeks more North Sea investments

GENEVA (Reuters) - Sinopec subsidiary Addax Petroleum wants to buy more North Sea assets this year, its Chief Executive said, in a sign that Chinese firms may further boost their regional investments after two multi-billion deals in 2012.

Addax, a Swiss-based oil producer and explorer which was bought by China's top refiner in 2009 for more than $7 billion, first entered the North Sea last July with the purchase of a 49 percent stake in Canada's Talisman.

Oil Revolt Generates $35 Billion as Icahn-Singer Agitate

Apache Corp. isn’t waiting for Carl Icahn to tell the energy company how to reverse a two-year decline that’s erased $14 billion from its market value.

BP, Chevron, Total and other major oil firms seek new terms in Iraq

International oil companies in Iraq are negotiating to revise their contracts with the government, as new production targets undermine the profitability of their operations.

Iraq's government earlier this year revised down its national oil output targets to 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2020, up from about 3 million bpd today, as part of a new blueprint for the development of its energy sector.

U.S. officials lauds India for reducing Iranian oil imports

PanARMENIAN.Net - A senior American official on Friday, May 24, praised India for reducing oil imports from Iran and said the U.S. government will decide soon on New Delhi’s request to renew a waiver from sanctions on Tehran, The Associated Press reports.

Gazprom announces ‘fundamentaly new’ LNG project

Russian gas major Gazprom will soon announce another "fundamentally new" liquefied natural gas project, according to company CEO Aleksey Miller. Sources say it’s likely to be an LNG plant in the Baltic.

Zurich Insurance Seeks China, Saudi Expansion on Growth Bets

Zurich Insurance Group AG plans to expand in China and Saudi Arabia as the insurer seeks to capitalize on economic growth in the world’s second-biggest economy and largest oil exporter.

Texas Cited by Democrat as Model for Less Flaring After Fracking

Texas should be the model for other states as officials seek to reduce the need to burn, or flare off, methane coming from oil and gas wells drilled by hydraulic fracturing, a top Senate Democrat said.

Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, praised Texas for a flaring rate of 0.5 percent of the gas it produces.

Academics back BP's fight to cap oil spill payouts

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of accountancy professors is backing BP's fight to cap the U.S. oil spill compensation payouts it has to fund as the cash outflow threatens to add billions of dollars to its bill for the disaster.

Shipwreck Oil Spill Time Bombs Identified

Out of approximately 20,000 shipwrecks in U.S. waters, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently identified 36 sunken vessels that most threaten to disgorge their oily innards. NOAA recommended further assessment and potential oil clean-up of seventeen of those shipwrecks. The list was further narrowed to six ships that were most probable to leak 10 percent of their fuel oil or oil cargo. These high risk ships were all off the coasts of New England or Florida.

IEA: protect consumers from energy price hikes

The International Energy Agency said Friday that Germany must shield its consumers from paying too much of the cost of its ambitious switch from nuclear power and fossil fuels toward renewable energy.

Solar plane completes second leg of cross-country flight in Texas

(Reuters) - A solar airplane that developers hope to eventually pilot around the globe landed safely on Thursday in Texas, completing the second and longest leg of an attempt to fly across the United States powered only by the sun.

The E-Cat is back, and people are still falling for it!

I’m done pretending that this is science, or that the “data” presented here is scientifically valid. If this were an undergraduate science experiment, I’d give the kids an F, and have them see me. There’s no valid information contained here, just the assumption of success, the reliance on supplied data, and ballpark estimates that appear to be supplied “from the manufacturer.”

This is not a valid way to do science at all. And this is certainly not even close to meeting the criteria required for extraordinary evidence to back up such an extraordinary claim.

The long road to the 2000-watt society

The vision of a society in which each inhabitant of the earth manages to consume only 2000 watts has already been around for 15 years. During this time, there has been a steady increase in environmental awareness in the West. Technology has become more efficient and there appears to be very little standing in the way of a sustainable lifestyle. However, as a study by Empa and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich now shows, Mr and Mrs Swiss are still a long way from achieving this.

2013 hurricane names: From Andrea to Wendy

Weather forecasters are predicting another busy Atlantic hurricane season. The storms will get their names from an alphabetical list of 21 names:

Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy.

Noaa predicts wildly active hurricane season out of Atlantic and Caribbean

Americans were warned on Thursday to brace for an extremely active hurricane season – less than a year after the devastation of Sandy, which hit the east coast in October 2012 – with 13 to 20 named storms, including seven to 11 hurricanes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, releasing its annual forecast, said 2013 would be prolific in raising storms out of the Atlantic and Caribbean. Of the predicted hurricanes, Noaa predicted that three to six could be major hurricanes, rated category three and packing winds of 111mph or higher.

Can We Protect Against the Next Moore Tornado?

Sad experience is teaching that some old tornado safety tricks aren't as effective as hoped — particularly when buildings aren't designed with tornado safety in mind. In Joplin, Miss., a 2011 tornado killed 158, according to the National Weather Service (the city of Joplin pegs the death toll at 161). Among the devastated buildings was a local high school, and some of the spots disaster experts would normally suggest people go for shelter turned out to be among the most badly damaged there.

Interior hallways are usually the suggested shelter spots, but in Joplin, doors and glass windows at either end of long halls were destroyed by debris, creating a dangerous situation, Gallus said.

"Hallways became wind tunnels," he said. Architects like natural light, he said, but "probably when we design schools in the future, we need to be careful how we design them."

US carbon price backed by independent office

A tax on carbon dioxide emissions could help the United States mitigate climate change while significantly increasing government revenue, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this week.

President Barack Obama supports plans to price carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, tailpipes and factories that have been blamed for worsening climate change.

A mission on climate change

President Obama should spend his remaining years in office making the United States part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem. If Congress sticks to its policy of obstruction and willful ignorance, Obama should use his executive powers to the fullest extent. We are out of time.

Colorado's state climatologist says the High Park Fire granted him the permission, courage to talk about climate change.

Nolan Doesken used to have a hard time talking about climate change.

The topic has become so politically combustible that some scientists and researchers find it difficult to speak of or write about.

But, after the High Park Fire swept the foothills in 2012, Doesken decided to talk more openly about the reasons behind Colorado’s changing weather when talking to the agriculture community.

Russia evacuates drifting Arctic research station

Russia has ordered the urgent evacuation of the 16-strong crew of a drifting Arctic research station after ice floe that hosts the floating laboratory began to disintegrate, officials said Thursday.

Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Sergei Donskoi set a three-day deadline to draft a plan to evacuate the North Pole-40 floating research station, the ministry said in a statement.

Why Happy People Hide From Climate Change

New research found that when people have positive feelings toward climate change, such as hopefulness or excitement, they are more likely to avoid seeking information about it. Those who felt concerned, anxious or depressed about the topic, on the other hand, were more likely to seek information about it, new research shows.

What Does 400 PPM Mean for American Labor?

n 1940, as Nazi armies marched across Europe, United Automobile Workers Union (UAW) president Walter Reuther made a stunning proposal: Retool the Depression-ravaged auto industry to build 500 planes a year for national defense. Many scoffed. But a huge wartime mobilization put tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed workers to work producing what the war effort required, while shutting down wasteful and unnecessary production that would detract from it.

Screwed by climate change: 10 cities that will be hardest hit

Here at Grist, climate change is our bread and melting butter. But this month, we’re feeling especially hot and bothered. As part of our in-depth look at the warming planet, we’ve compiled a list of the U.S. cities that we think will be in the hottest water as the mercury rises — in some cases, up to their foreheads.

Spared by climate change: The 10 best cities to ride out hot times

Yesterday, we brought you our remarkably unscientific (seriously, it was written by this guy) list of the 10 cities most likely to get hammered by climate change. Today, we thought we’d give you the bright side, such as it is: the 10 towns to which we’ll all be flocking as the rest of the world goes to hell. You’re welcome. (Hey, we don’t call Grist “a beacon in the smog” for nothing.)

Saving Delaware's coast from sea-level rise

In a symbolic blow to state climate change adaption efforts, the Delaware county with most at stake in future sea-level rise forecasts abruptly declined to take any stand on the issue Thursday as a state panel approved dozens of recommendations for dealing with the threat.

Another bridge collapse, I-5 in Washington State. I believe that this a steel truss design, similar to the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007.

Super high tech electric cars like the Tesla won't work too well, if bridges collapse underneath them. Following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote a couple of years ago:

Will We Be Able to Maintain & Replace Our Energy & Transportation Infrastructure in a Post-Peak Oil World?

Developed countries worldwide are facing enormous financial costs associated with maintaining and ultimately replacing their aging energy and transportation infrastructure of pipelines, refineries, power plants, electric transmission lines, roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, etc. Given the reality of an energy-constrained global economy, especially in the context of a long-term decline in global net oil exports, it seems inevitable that, at best, our current energy and transportation infrastructure will only be partially replaced in future years.

Given a long-term expectation of partial infrastructure replacement, it seems likely that inevitable natural disasters – like earthquakes/tsunamis such as recently hit Japan, and hurricanes like Katrina and Rita that hit the US Gulf Coast in 2005 – will only aggravate the infrastructure problem. It seems likely that many areas heavily damaged by natural disasters will not be rebuilt, or will only be partially rebuilt. Government officials in Japan are considering exactly this scenario regarding many coastal fishing villages that were damaged by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

In the US, civil engineers have been warning about failing infrastructure for years. In 2009, they gave US infrastructure a “D” ranking, just barely above failing. Executive Director Patrick Natale of the American Society of Civil Engineers told CNN in 2009: “The bottom line is that a failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy.”

Unfortunately, when we consider the probability of an ongoing and accelerating rate of decline in global net oil exports, we have to consider the predicament of failing infrastructure combined with a declining economy.

In my opinion, it's the American automobile driver who's to blame for this bridge collapse and other similar incidents. The typical American driver want's large empty freeways but doesn't want any gas taxes. Gas must be cheap and roads must be free.

On a side note, I've crossed this very bridge on many occasions.

Apparently, an 18 wheeler with an oversized load damaged one steel beam, and the bridge collapsed.

From the Seattle Times:

The bridge, built in 1955, was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, according to state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson.

The bridge is classified as a “fracture critical” bridge by the National Bridge Inventory.

That means one major structural part can ruin the entire bridge, as compared with a bridge that has redundant features that allow one member to fail without destroying the entire structure.

Yes, from the looks of the pictures it looks like a catastrophic failure of the structural trusses.

Phew! So you're saying that it wasn't a (oops,) Tesla that caused the failure? That would have been really bad, huh?

Still, you're right. EV's certainly won't be able to get across downed bridges.. yet another strike against those Remorseless Carriages!

(It might still be of some comfort that Electric Emergency vehicles SHOULD still be able to arrive at either end of such a bridge to help out the dunked..)

EVs do need to contribute to road maintenance. However at this point, they represent such a small number of vehicles that it makes no sense to create a tax-collection system that would cost more than the tax it collects. So I think EVs should pay a ~$100/year 'road tax' at the annual registration.


State (North Carolina) to charge hybrid owners special fee

ASHEVILLE — Hybrid car owners would pay a special fee to recoup lost gasoline taxes under the state Senate’s budget.

Owners of hybrids, which use gas but also have an electric engine, would pay a $50 annual registration fee. Electric car owners would pay $100.

Lawmakers say the fees are appropriate because electric and hybrid owners still use the roads but they pay less in taxes because they use less fuel. The gasoline tax funds highways in North Carolina.

The problem is that it does not take into account mileage. That $50 they want to charge me is what I spend a MONTH on gas and is equal to what I would pay in tax driving an extra 6,000 miles.

Not to mention there's a Via Motors, GMC Sierra Hybrid, Silverado Hybrid, Lexus RX, Highlander, Cadillac Escalade, Yukon, and Tahoe. As well as Accord, Camry, and Escape. These are not 40+ mpg vehicles - only the Volt, Prius, and Civic are.

I think this thread here goes through the various levels of pi**ed I've been through since seeing this: http://www.bluenc.com/attention-hybrid-owners-will-you-balk-paying-extra...

"Will we tax bicycles, tricycles, unicycles, etc.? Soon we will be taxed for using our feet."

I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper - was thinking about saying "Well eff you, I'll make extra effort to ride my bike"...but I didn't want to give the fools any ideas - I think they really would start taxing bicycles.

Right now the most sense would be made if they just increased the gasoline tax (which hasn't been raised enough over the years any way since the price of materials went up a multiple of 4 - they've been stealing from the general fund) to make up for the loss of revenue (99% because of the economic downturn). IF people get more efficient cars, raise it again - and again to keep pace. Provide tax rebates to low income families if needed.

EVs are going to have to pay their share eventually, but to jump out ahead and try to kill these things when they're needed the most? WTF.

Well, we could get into a debate about it all, but of course the thing that took that bridge out is that same culprit that does such an inordinate amount of damage to all our road infrastructure; trucks.

So, I don't deny that I rankle to hear the first swipe against EV's up there, with the guilty party sitting smugly unscathed on the sidelines. It's a little bit like the way environmentalists take the abuse for so many issues that actually have solid offenders right in plain sight. Easy Targets.

It was an oversized rig hauling drilling supplies. So we can blame this on the oil industry!!!!!

Oh, in no way do I blame this on EVs or cars in general. I'm just pointing out that EVs do need to contribute to road maintenance since they use the roads.

BTW, is that true about an over-sized load of oil equipment?

The typical American driver want's large empty freeways but doesn't want any gas taxes.

Frugal, I am not frugal. I would support an increase of the US Federal Gasoline Tax to help pay for bridges and other road repairs.

I wonder how many bridges there are that have the lattice trusswork above the bridge deck that can be impacted by high loads. Does anyone know?

Yea, I support increasing the federal and state taxes on gasoline and diesel, especially diesel since the big rigs damage the roads the most.

The bridge was rated deficient.

However...the cause of the collapse appears to be that it was hit by a truck with an oversize load. It had a pilot car that clearly showed that the truck would not fit, but for some reason, the driver did not stop.

The I-35W bridge collapse had an entirely different cause. It was due to bad design or construction - the gusset plates were too small.

It's early yet for the I-5 bridge, but I'd say from what we know now, neither of these collapses were caused by poor maintenance. There are some bridges that have collapsed due to lack of maintenance or poor inspection - the Schoharie Creek bridge, for example.

On the other hand, the bridge is 58 years old. Things have changed a lot since 1955 in terms of passenger and freight traffic on roadways. One could reasonably say that having a bridge that old on a major highway is a maintenance problem by definition.

Sure, it's a maintenance problem. But the failure is not due to poor maintenance. It would have failed even if brand new.

OK, it may not be a problem of failing to maintain the bridge, rather of failing to maintain the road system.

It would have failed even if brand new.

Do you think that's just a tad bit too definitive considering the bridge was deficient? I mean wear and tear over time does weaken structures making them more vulnerable to collapse. It will be interesting to find out the post mortem engineering assessment once they've had time to analyze all the data.

I'm thinking a "new: bridge built to the same specs probably would have failed given the same accident. Presumably a new bridge would have to satisfy more stringent requirements.

Didn't the I-35 bridge failure have to do with corrosion from road salt. Many bridges in the north country have signs that say "Warning, we don't use salt on the road" (i.e. it may be icy). Minneapolis uses a horrendous amount of salt. I remember one morning with a temp of -20F, and the rear window of my truck, had liquid brine on it.

No, it was a design flaw. The gusset plates were too small for the load. Other factors: inspectors missed seeing the plates were bowed (later noticed in the photos in the inspection report), and the extra weight of a new concrete deck and the heavy construction equipment that was resting over the weakest point at the time of collapse. Corrosion was not a factor.

I'm not a civil engineer, but I would think that steel truss bridges like the 58 year old I-5 bridge would be vulnerable not only to oversize loads but to lateral collisions from jack-knifed heavily loaded 18 wheelers. In other words, it seems like this was more likely than not a "When" event, not an "If" event. As noted up the thread, the bridge was classified as "Fracture Critical."

But the bottom line is that two bridges on US Interstate Highways have collapsed in six years. The trend line, especially in the context of repeated warnings by civil engineers about our crumbling infrastructure, does not look good.

I would argue that the common connection between the two incidents was a lack of funding to replace deficient bridges.

There are a lot of "fracture critical" bridges in the U.S. Something like 18,000 the last time I checked. In fact, they still build them. It's a description, not an indictment.

Two bridges in six years is not unusual. Pick your endpoints, and you can find even worse. The spectacular Sunshine Skyway collapse was only a year before the Hyatt Regency collapse, which was only a year before the Cline Ave. bridge collapse, which was only a year before the Mianus River Bridge collapse.

I actually think it's a pretty good sign that recent bridge collapses have not been due to maintenance issues. Being hit by a barge, being hit by a truck, being poorly designed or a contractor trying to get cheap - those could collapse brand-new bridges, too.

Of course, there is a massive difference between a ship hitting a bridge (Skyway collapse) and an oversize 18 wheeler hitting one steel beam, causing a bridge to collapse.

Other than the two collapses in the past six years, how many bridges on US Interstate Highways have collapsed?

And you said that the I-5 bridge was classified as "Deficient." What caused it to be classified as deficient?

They haven't said why the bridge was classified as deficient, but I imagine that information will be revealed eventually. There's got to be a bridge inspection report, and it should be a matter of public record.

Are you aware of any other US Interstate bridge failures?

Sure. I mentioned one that was caused by poor maintenance/inspection: the Schoharie Creek Bridge. It carried I-90 over the Schoharie Creek. The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge carried I-80. The Mianus River Bridge carried I-95.

Thanks for the info. Of course, the Oakland Bay bridge collapse was due to an earthquake.

So, counting the two in the past six years, would it be correct to say that there have been a total of four (non-earthquake) related bridge failures on the US Interstate system?

Links to info on the other two follow. Would it be correct to say that neither of these bridges were rated as deficient prior to their collapse? (Of course, Mianus should have been rated as unsafe, but it appears that poor inspection was a big contributing factor.)



Of course, the Oakland Bay bridge collapse was due to an earthquake.

I wasn't talking about that. I meant the 2009 collapse, which was caused by some kind issue with a repair job.

Would it be correct to say that neither of these bridges were rated as deficient prior to their collapse?

I'm not sure. They may have been. Both collapses were due to poor maintenance/inspection, however.

Agreed. I hardly consider this a sign of impending transportation infrastructure failure.

As a counterpoint, they recently re-surfaced my entire road with brand new asphalt, and it was just resurfaced 7 years ago and looked like new. Not only that, they came by and filled in all of the muddy tire-ruts on the side of the road with fresh topsoil and grass seed. Surely we're entering a new golden age of transportation!

"...but for some reason, the driver did not stop."


Despite lights that flash and all sorts of warning signs, this bridge has claimed enough trucks to make a website and YouTube channel out of.

We had a low entrance to the courtyard of our apartment block and the top of a furniture truck hit it. Although it wasn't doing much more than walking pace the impact shook the building like an earthquake. I was surprised at the shock of the collision considering it was only light metal cladding on a steel frame.

I could watch all day.

What price austerity?

A bridge classified as structurally deficient in 2011 on Interstate 5 crossing the Skagit River has collapsed, throwing drivers and cars into the water below....

According to Washington's own list of structurally unsound bridges, it means the "bridge requires repair or replacement of a certain component, such as cracked or spalled concrete or the entire bridge itself."


My first job out of college was as a bridge inspector.

"Structurally deficient" sounds bad, but it does not necessarily mean the bridge is unsafe. It just means there is deterioration to at least one component. The elements of the bridge are rated on a 0 to 9 scale. If any part has a score of 4 or lower ("meets minimum tolerable limits"), the bridge is considered structurally deficient. Over 70,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient.

If a bridge is unsafe, it is closed until it's repaired.

Leanan, any idea what would be a normal number of 'structurally deficient' bridges to have at any given time (compared to the 70,000 figure) assuming they were all getting a reasonable level of maintenance? Have you seen a trend toward more deferred maintenance since you were first involved in that field?

I have not noticed a trend toward more deferred maintenance. Rather, it tends to be cyclical. There will be a round of budget cuts, projects will be deferred, then there will be a catastrophic failure or a "prime the pump" jobs program, and there will be a bunch of money available. (Governments often spend more money on infrastructure in bad times, rather than less - Keynesian stimulus and all.)

Overall, I think bridges are getting safer because we have more knowledge about how they fail. Much of our infrastructure is aging (because it was built in the post-WWII years with a 30-40 year design life), so that is a problem, but we're also learning more about how to inspect and maintain it. The Mianus River bridge collapse in 1983 was due in part to budget cuts that left the state of Connecticut with just six pairs of inspectors to inspect over 3,000 bridges. The 1987 Schoharie Bridge collapse raised awareness of the problem of scour and the importance of underwater inspection. The result of these two disasters was a heck of lot more bridge inspectors being hired. While funding and staffing has fluctuated a bit since then, it's never gone back to the way things were before.

You get a job as a bridge inspector right out of school?

Geez, I remember when working for Chevron, right out of school, they assigned me to evaluate whether or not an elevator servicing our fluid catalytic cracker needed new cables; and the consternation I went through not having the foggiest idea how to evaluate the thing, yet knowing full good and well the ramifications of erring on the wrong side. Being I felt way too ignorant to properly evaluate it, I ended up going to the elevator, finding out who made the thing, and calling them in to evaluate it.

I guess these things happen. The engineers 58 years ago had no such thing as the computer aided stress calculations we have today, and I get the idea they too were highly pressed for the cheapest design that gets the job done; so I am reticent to point fingers.

So, we learn and move on.... I can't say ( by a long shot ) every design I have done was a stellar success. When I was younger, I snapped stuff out with the due diligence of a college exercise, where a mistake here and there resulted in nothing more than a somewhat less than perfect grade. While I feel I have gotten much better at making good stuff, I have sure gotten slower in the design process as memories of embarrassment of past failures have made me ponder over every possible failure mode I can conjure up.

My biggest problem now is finding management types who recognize the true cost of a less-than-perfect design.

You don't inspect a bridge alone. There's a team, and newbies fresh out of school will receive formal training as well as on the job training. You will be mentored by the others on your team; you will not make life or death decisions on your own.

Curiously similar to what goes on in social services. Fresh out of school, MFT and PsyD candidates do lots of high-risk assessments... suicide, homicide, even people who talk about suspicious devices.

True, we don't work without a net, and in most training sites, you have backup, and in a good one, you have supervisors who you can consult with anytime the clinic is open.

But it is strange that the folks with the least experience and making little or no money often have to make the most difficult calls. Folks in private practice getting $300 an hour don't have to deal with that as often... I wonder if the same is true for engineers.

The experienced learnt what to avoid. I guess the most experienced usually do not do the requiring experience, they are superiors and let someone else do the work they do not want to do themself unless there is a clever chief.

That's a relief!

I can't imagine what kind of stress that would have put on me if I had only college experiences to count on with a responsibility so great. Just that elevator gave me many sleepless nights. Even though I am trained as an electrical engineer, I was quite aware of work hardening and metal fatigue - but had no idea of how it related to elevator cables, which would be quite expensive to replace, but far more expensive to ignore.

Mentored? I thought that was supposed to learn obey orders.

My training experience has been very good with engineers. Well, some of them can be sexist jerks - it's still a field that is overwhelmingly male - but even the worst of them have been very helpful as far as mentoring goes. They want you to learn to do the job on your own, and they know that means taking the time to explain why we're doing what we're doing, why we're giving a bridge this rating, why we are closing or not closing a bridge, etc.

I started with consultants designing things to the minimum permitted factors of safety. Then I worked in construction for a couple of years. It opened my eyes. The guys are under enormous pressure to get the job done even if it's not textbook-perfect. After that I was much more conservative in my designs.

I think it is really stretching things to say we can't maintain our infrastructure. It was just a matter of priorities. We just chose not to maintain our infrastructure because we decided that it was far more important to give rich people tax cuts and to start wars.

No, those things are what it takes to prop the existing system up just a little longer, to maintain the illusion. Once it fails, then the massive subsidies that system provides to keep the automotive transportation system going will stop and it is doubtful people will be building many highway bridges. And the wars are what is required to keep the 5% getting our disproportionate share of the worlds resources, including energy. That benefit comes at the barrel of a gun, and once an empire shows that it is unwilling or unable to use it then they are finished. What if the Saudi's start to believe the Chinese can prop them up better than we can?

Infrastructure should not be built unless there is a viable long term plan to pay for maintenance. The free lunch mentality has come home to roost.

Read the book, "Why Buildings Fall Down: When Structures Fail"

A great book by some structural engineers with failure analysis backgrounds, written in laymen's terms. Structures have been falling down since man stacked his first two rocks. The interaction of man and nature as he attempts to defy gravity. From a civilizational perspective, the bigger news maybe their other book. "Why Buildings Stand up". The fact that millions of buildings and structures continue to stand up day after day don't make good headlines, though.

Yup... even an account of structural failure in the Bible ( Tower of Babel ).

Someone did not know the compressive strength of baked mud and straw, and found out the hard way one just can't stack 'em up forever.

I thought of it as rather unusual that grown men would try to build such a thing... didn't any of them ever play with mud as a kid and have some feel of the structural strength of the stuff?

'Why Buildings Fall Down' is a wonderful book. I liked the guys building a steel framed skyscraper who had trouble getting the bolts into the holes in the ends of the steel beams. So the they decided to have all the holes made bigger than the bolts. By the time they'd got to the fifth floor the whole thing was noticeably leaning, and after another couple of floors they had to take it all down and start again.


Feds Look for Temporary Fix After I-5 Collapse, AP / Manuel Valdes and Mike Baker, May 23, 2013

A truck hauling an oversized load of drilling equipment hit an overhead bridge girder Thursday night, sending a section of the highway into the river below.

The bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but a Federal Highway Administration database lists it as being “functionally obsolete” — a category meaning that the design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders and low clearance underneath.

Interesting. I wonder why it was originally reported as structurally deficient?

Functionally obsolete bridges are not necessarily unsafe either, but it would explain why the bridge got hit by a oversized load. From eyewitness accounts, it sounds like the oversized load would have been okay if it had been in the middle lane. But it didn't move over, and hit the superstructure.

Reminds me of a bridge that was hit in NYC years ago. It was one of those stone arch bridges. The truck driver had been driving the same route for years, and knew he had just enough clearance to get under the bridge in the right lane. What he didn't know is that the bridge was sinking. One day, he didn't make it.

The inspectors determined that the bridge could still support the traffic it was carrying, since the part that was damaged was carrying only a sidewalk. But on further review, they decided to close the bridge. If a truck parked on the sidewalk, the bridge might collapse. And it being NYC, the chances of a truck parking on the sidewalk were not negligible. Eventually, they bolted the biggest I-beam I have ever seen to the sidewalk, and opened the bridge again.

And truck driver knew he had to be in the middle lane to get under that bridge.

OK, but if you take a step back, in the highway system just as in so many others (electric grid, water systems, etc.) we are using very old infrastructure and pushing it harder than ever. As I said before, things have changed since 1955 in terms of the volumes, speeds and sizes of passenger and truck traffic, but we're still using the old infrastructure to try to accommodate it, pushing it harder than ever. And when you push an old system harder then you get catastrophic failures, because things do go wrong.

This is analogous to what I expect with the power grid. As we attempt to transfer more energy to the T&D grid, including more of the energy that powered personal automobiles and distributed, asynchronous local generation, we're expecting to get by with an overlayed high speed communication and control system on top of the old stuff that is already there. The results will be similar.

All of this is because we can no longer afford the costs of building infrastructure now that we've used the cheap fossil fuel bounty, rather we're inventive and clever about nursing the old stuff along father than it was designed to operate (nuclear power plants anyone?). I see that all around me, including on roads. When the highways are not holding up, either the well made early ones that are getting really old or the lighter built later ones that don't last, they bring in a grinder and smooth it out, patch some holes and put a really thin layer of asphalt over top. Works nicely for a short time, but the structural problems underneath are still there.

But the question always ends at how we extrapolate a possible future from these deficiencies.

"London Bridge is falling down.." It's a perennial problem, and sure, right now, we have more bridges to keep up and more people to cross them (by far) than it seems we'll be able to support in the near future, but comments that suggest that since it can't hold together as it is means that it will simply completely collapse, instead of undergoing continual and considerable changes until new balances are arrived at.. I haven't heard an argument that really makes this worst case as unavoidable as it gets painted here so often.

Are we patching things together to string them along? Of course. Were they doing that 100, 200, 500 years ago? Sure they were.. to me this sounds like how about 90% of things get done, and then here and there, somebody insists on doing it right, or overbuilds, or gets lucky.. and there are the accumulations of a few pieces around us that look immortal compared to the regular crap we live in or drive over.. and those things are in our hands as we say, 'Why don't they build things to last anymore?' ..

I mean think about it, if we had a year where 15 big bridges caved in on us..a lot indeed, but still a reasonably small percentage.. how do you think our priorities and our resulting investments and policies would react to that? And not to detract from your point about overall infrastructure, our financial condition and the costs of such work would also be getting a similar triage.. NOT in careful foresight, but right on the heels of each surprise debacle.. and so, more rural highways would gradually get abandoned or de-paved, more pressure would grow for long-term transport investments like Rail and Fewer, Better Highways would evolve as well.

Growth will continue.. we will grow smaller and smaller. Not to say it will be an easy or painless process. As Mr. Andrews (Victor Garber) said aboard the Titanic Set, "It is a mathematical certainty."

This video shows you EXACTLY how to survive the sinking.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM9Xv1hR8mQ see? Piece of Cake.

I think it's a wash, really. Yes, you get catastrophic failures with old bridges. But you get catastrophic failures with new bridges, too. (See Tacoma Narrows.) Rust never sleeps...but we also have more knowledge and better technology to keep up with the deterioration.

We did see a massive increase in traffic as more women went to work and the two-car family became the norm...but we won't see a jump like that again. In a sense, the worst is behind us.

The main problem I see is Tainter's declining marginal returns. It's not that it costs more these days. It's that we've become dependent on our infrastructure. It's easier to build a new highway than to rebuild an old one. Because now you have thousands of cars that need to use that highway every day, and shutting it down to fix it will be a massive inconvenience.

There's all of that, but also, we could no longer afford to build the highway system we have now over the span of time we did before. We simply no loner have access to the cheap energy we used to do it, we need to keep using the expensive energy we have now in operating the old infrastructure, and the debt we took on to keep that expensive energy coming is still in there and needs servicing.

I'm sure the I5 bridge will now get replaced, but at time goes on less and less of the old infrastructure will be replaced as it fails.

There's all of that, but also, we could no longer afford to build the highway system we have now over the span of time we did before.

I think we could...if we were working under the same specs they had then.

A lot of the difficulty now is due to more restrictions. Back when we built the Interstate system, it was through forest and farmland. You were taking someone's woodlot or chicken coop. Now, you'll be going through a school or a subdivision or a shopping center - far more difficult and expensive. People lawyer up when it comes to getting compensation, and there are other delays like title searches, environmental impact studies, etc.

These are not necessarily bad things. I wouldn't want to go back to the bad old days. But it does make projects a lot more difficult and time-consuming - something old-timers often don't realize.

Who needs a functioning infrastructure?

I thought that giving free money to bankers and allowing them to loan us money to buy new cars and homes took care of the problem.

Just move further away and take your SUV around the collapsed bridge!

2000 Watt Society

I found this article very difficult to understand. It's this meant to be 48 kWh per day? 2kW maximum loading, like an 8 amp fuse on the house?

I think the concept of flow rate versus flow is not only a problem in the peak oil world. Of course I never read anything thoroughly enough so maybe it's in there...


It is 48KWh per day, including all sources of energy. I guess this includes embedded energy and emergy.

For reference, that is about the current level of per capita consumption in China, or 6 times the level in the USA.

[edit] of course I mean one sixth of USA per capita consumption.

2000 watts is the goal. that's 60 million btu per year, about 1/5th current U.S. consumption.

Elizabeth Kolbert wrote a New Yorker piece some while ago describing the goal.


It's an awkward metric for Americans--total energy consumption expressed in electrical energy
units--but the basic idea is simple.

We need to get per capita energy use way down. Much lower than American use. Much lower than EU use.

2000 watts is possible with these essential caveats:

* very well insulated house, passivhaus sort of thing

* access to mass transit

* very little (no?) airplane travel

I don't think anyone in Kolbert's piece was actually living this energy-frugally.

Even green home dwellers, the minute they got on a plane, screwed the pooch.

Thinking about it, and converting it to "gallons of gasoline per day", it works out to be 1.3 gallons,
or about 5 liters.

But that's for liquid fuels, electricity, space heat, and hot water.

Or, 2000 watts x 24 hours = 48 kwh =163,000 btu per person per day, if you want to work in
electric units.

A backpacker would be far far far below this, or a bicycle tourist for that matter. Just stay away from
the Dreamliner.

It's an awkward metric for Americans--total energy consumption expressed in electrical energy
units--but the basic idea is simple.

It's awkward because it is a confusion of parameters/units - trying to express energy in units of power is like trying to express a distance in terms of speed.

How far did you go? Well, I went 60mph.

In other words, it is an error.


2000 watts is actually an expression of draw, appetite, 24/7/365, so in effect it is
a speed

right now, here in the U.S., per capita "speed" is between 10,000 and 11,000 watts.

that includes your share of Pentagon/commercial/industrial use

Note that you are explaining energy and power to an electrical engineer.

Power is the rate of energy use. Speed is the rate of distance traveled.

People often mess this up with electrical energy but rarely confuse speed and distance in the same way. There seems to be a preference to specify a rate and imply a time period, but I don't know why.

Watts (power) is only an expression of rate (~speed), and cannot be used to indicate energy, unless a time period is implied - which is a silly and unclear way to do it. If what is meant is energy, why not just use a unit of energy?

I've often wondered if confusion stems from our use of watt-hour (or kWatt-hour) as the unit of measure? (All hail SI?)

    Miles/hour * Hours = Miles (easily follows a simple 4th-grade rule on canceling numerator and denominator... ).

    Watts * Hours = Watt-hours (not so much).

Or is there some other confusion going on?

I've always had a rough relationship with expressing an "amount" as a "power." I think as 'Muricans we're used to looking at the power bill and seeing "kWh" - an amount. It's the power we've used defined over a unit of time and makes sense.

So "2000 Watt" as representing a long time averaged power - an ongoing event - is foreign. The bastardized self canceling unit of 48 kWh/day is not - it's relate-able.

"right now, here in the U.S., per capita "speed" is between 10,000 and 11,000 watts"

That's about 15 continuous horsepower. 264 kWh/day. Would take approximately 59 kiloWatts of PV per capita to generate. (Ignoring storage - yeah yeah) Would, at $3/Watt, cost $177,000 per person.

we're used to looking at the power bill and seeing "kWh" - an amount. It's the power we've used defined over a unit of time and makes sense.

Much more simply, it is the energy you used.

If I pour you a pint of beer and you drink it in 20min, would you say you drank 3 pints an hour?

*raising hand*

If you pour me three nice cold draft wheat beers, and I get to consume them within an hour, I will agree with you ; )

kWh is relateable as its on the bill. Strictly speaking kJ or MJ would be more scientific. Metric units are always the wrong size! 2kWh is a nice size
I use about 4 a day in summer in my one bedroom flat in south east England. That's for water heating too, but I don't turn that on often - I'm too tight. Ten pence a kWh and I can relate to money :)

This is primary energy consumption, much of which is lost as waste heat. You don't need to replace it 1:1 with wind/solar. Also another good chuck is space and water heating, which could be supplied via heatpumps (and some solar thermal as well). We don't need to spend $177K per capita. With a little smarts we could get the bill way down.

We need to get per capita energy use way down. Much lower than American use. Much lower than EU use.

Well, here's an idea that might help a bit. As we know every little bit of energy conservation helps!

Schindler, a Solar Impulse Main Partner and world leading elevator and escalator manufacturer, is following Solar Impulse’s pioneering spirit, also vertically, but in a different way. Schindler heavily invested in a concept; a concept that became reality and is now being commercialized: a solar-powered elevator.

A revolutionary achievement, Schindler’s solar elevator does not only reduce energy consumption, it can run entirely on sunlight. Furthermore, because of their capacity to run independently of the power grid, it allows them to function, undisturbed, in case of a power outage.

Prototype solar elevators were tested in Barcelona (Spain) and Switzerland in residential, low-rise buildings. The energy is collected by solar panels on the building’s rooftop while excess energy is stored in the Energy Storage Device (ESD) until needed. Backup power needs are provided by a one- phase grid connection, significantly simpler and more cost-efficient compared to standard three-phase connections.

You are joking right? Ever heard of stairs as an energy saving device? The whole solar powered escalator, and energy efficient clothes drier, are just a giant joke. You wont get to a 2kw society with that kind of attitude.

You are joking right? Ever heard of stairs as an energy saving device?

Sure, I'm 60 years old and I use them all the time even when most people half my age use the escalator or elevator. Then again I actually have no problem walking a couple of miles on a regular basis either.
Of course there are people who do need assistance and sometime you can't carry everything on your back either.

My point was more along the lines that these solar powered elevators are off grid which fits my ongoing theme of decentralizing energy production. Do I think they are a permanent solution to maintaining BAU, nope!

The only (temporary) solution I see is for a highly contagious version of H(x)N(y) bird flu virus to come along and wipe out 95% of humanity... but in the meantime since everyone else is still pretending, why not me?

Oh, and for the record, I actually dry my wash on a clothes line. My overall attitude and outlook are firmly rooted in reality. So the joke's on you!

"It's an awkward metric for Americans"

Indeed. As someone who spent several years working in a utility residential DSM program, I posit that the typical American would have little clue regarding the distinction btwn kW and kWh, and would have less understanding, as you say, of total energy expressed in kWh. Americans conceive of their electric bills in dollars. 'I used $80 of electricity last month' is as far understanding goes in most cases. We've a long way to go educationally. We might start in the schools, but they're not designed to enlighten, rather the opposite.

The 2000 watt (average) goal does not seem so unattainable.

48 KWH per day is 17,520 KWH per year.

Over a year's time, our house has used about 12,800 KWH of electricity (including charging of 2 electric cars, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt), and we have used 100 gallons of gasoline (3300 KWH equivalent), mostly from driving the Volt on summer vacation. That's 16,100 KWH for all direct personal consumption for 2 people, or less than half the goal. Our house is fairly energy efficient, but could certainly be improved. We are close to net-zero electric use, mainly because we have 12 KW of PV solar and a solar thermal water heater.

To this would have to be added energy spent at work, air travel, imputed energy in purchased products.

A large fraction of air travel could be replaced with teleconferencing.

"To this would have to be added energy spent at work, air travel, imputed energy in purchased products."

And your share of energy spent on road maintenance, the agro-industrial food production system, the energy of every municipal or other government building, and every business that touches anything related to you - insurance, health care, entertainment - the grid, national 'defense', etc...

There is a lot of energy consumption that is off screen to us.

Dedicated people have little difficulty getting their personal consumption down. I figure the Solar Mosaic interest I'm earning about covers my residual electric bill (the PV system is undersized). And that at least cuts down on the gasoline consumption (plugin). But you gotta add in your proportion of the general industrial/commercial/agricultural system that we are a part of. Many of those businesses waste a lot of energy, and we, as individuals have little control over it.

As an example, at work I keep about 100 computer cores busy nearly 24/7. That dwarfs any energy I would use at home -even if I was a typical energyhog without PV.

Is a dryland farmer going to be able to reduce to 48Kwh/day? No. If you try to do it all that happens is production from the farm will fall.

Is rail a viable alternative to pipelines for moving Alberta Oil to seaports?


re: rail alternative to pipeline

Not across the Rockies and the Coast Mountains to the BC Coast it isn't. That would be worse X10 than the proposed and opposed pipelines. The rails are steep in grade, very curvey, and subject to derailments. Those derailments always seem to dump toxic loads into beautiful rivers. I still think Keysone xl and additional rail will move the stuff south...but what do I know beyond having an opinion? I do live on the coast, and while I consider myself to be a petroleum user and both friends and family work in the Sands, I would support any and all protest to stop the increase of tanker traffic. It isn't that I am hypocritical, it is just that I live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world and know full well what oil sheen on water looks like....let alone gobs and globs of bitumen. I say slow down development and save it for Canadians as needed. It doesn't have to be sold this decade to continue our lifestyle.

I would pay more for my gas (currently 1.39/litre....reg) to stop tanker traffic increases as well as contribute both time and money to add to the protests. Will the pipeline be twinned and oil moved through Vancouver via Burrard Inlet? I doubt it. But like I said...it is just an opinion. If Harper pushes it through he can count on this being his last stint at Govt because he will lose his BC support.


Fan me with a brick! On Thursday (yesterday) one of the local rags published the following:

EDITORIAL - Start of an EPOC

We note the first communiqué by the public/private group committee that has undertaken to monitor Jamaica's latest agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and are particularly struck by two things.

The first is symbolic, the acronym they have adopted: EPOC, which stands for Economic Programme Oversight Committee. Add the letter 'h' and the acronym spells the word 'epoch', among whose meaning is a point in time marking the beginning of a new, or distinct period. Phonetically, this word is indistinguishable from the committee's acronym - EPOC.

It is this newspaper's hope that the IMF agreement and the economic adjustments that it demands will mark a memorable epoch for Jamaica - the time in which we undertook bold actions leading to a long period of sustained macroeconomic stability and decent growth.

I didn't see it till very early this morning and posted a comment. My intent was mainly to irritate the editorial staff with some sobering facts but, to my surprise, it was approved and has been published!

One of the predictions about the things that will accompany the peaking and subsequent decline in world crude oil production is that, economic growth will also stagnate and then be followed by economic contraction. Following the stagnation that began in 2005, the world is only just beginning to see a slight up-tick in crude oil production, largely due to frantic drilling activity in the US, where they are drilling hundreds of new wells per month in the so called tight oil formations in the Baken region of North Dakota and the Eagle Ford region of Texas.

Due to the nature of these formations an expensive and water intensive technique called hydraulic fracturing must be used to maintain the flow of oil from these wells. Despite the use of this technique, the production of these wells declines at a rate that is significantly faster than the conventional wells, on which most of the worlds crude oil production has historically been based. In light of this, if the large number of new wells per month is not sustained for any reason, there is a significant risk that world oil production will begin to decline in the not too distant future.

In the absence of significant growth in oil production and subsequent energy use, to produce increased economic activity (GDP growth), borrowing or budget deficits have been used by governments all over the world to try and maintain levels of economic activity and create the illusion of economic growth. In light of all the above, in the current situation, it is pointless to hope that continuing the fiscal shenanigans will "lead to a long period of sustained macroeconomic stability and decent growth."

What we need to do is decouple our energy, electricity production and transportation systems from the use of oil and it's by-products. Only then will we be able to achieve sustainable economic growth in the absence of significant, sustained growth in world crude oil production.

Are we seeing a creeping acceptance of Peak Oil by this newspaper? They even ended with a variation of my new catch phrase, "talk loudly - and often."!

Alan from the islands

That was quite eloquent.

If they're doing any fact checking before they allow comments like that they're going to wind up learning a whole hell of a lot with the way you've been going.


Access to condoms makes a difference

While I can't say that I have the answer to the condoms-in-school quandary, I do know that had I been given a condom, I would've used it, and condom or not, I was going to have sex.

There are a couple other letters regarding condoms in schools.


On the other hand, we must also be realistic. While we may make provisions for such education and preach the message of abstinence, not every student will develop so positively or adhere to the principles being taught. Consequently, we must also make provisions for greater sex education. Now, this does not mean distributing condoms in our schools or simply telling students what contraceptives are available and which to use. It means telling our students that if they cannot control their sexual urges (and some will tell you quite frankly that they simply cannot), these are the ways in which they can effectively use available contraceptives, and this is how they can properly access them.

Such a strange tightrope to walk...trying to maintain a religulous moral standpoint and still maintain a grip on reality.

In related news...


(United States) Teen birthrate hit another record low in 2011

The teen birthrate has been dropping steadily since the 1991 peak, save for blips in 2006 and 2007. The new report shows particularly steep drops, with a 25% decline in the overall teen birthrate just since 2007.

During 2007-11, teen birthrates fell at least 15% for all but two states -- North Dakota and West Virginia. Rates fell 30% or more in seven states, with the largest drops -- 35% each -- in Arizona and Utah.

Thanks for the complement. I am rather pleased that I was able to use 327 words in nine sentences to cover most of the bases.

As for the birth control debate, it seems that more and more people are realizing that the practise of people without the wherewithal to finance the raising of children having as many as they want is not sustainable and is the root of many of our problems. One columnist, who wrote a column titled, 'Erase the stupid idea of giving students condoms', in the May 22, 2013 issue of this same paper, elicited many comments that were quite harsh and called the writer himself stupid!

Yeah it's a strange country I live in, where you have all these pious people spouting platitudes and then you have this on the front page of one Sunday paper:

Young and loveless - Teenage prostitute pushing for a fresh start

Theresa speaks with her eyes. They dance in tandem with her hands as she talks about the future she wants. Her eyes look away wistfully as she searches for memories of a mother she never knew. And they become entirely flat with images of the life she leads at night.

Theresa has sex with men in exchange for money. She is 17.

"I didn't want to do it when I was just starting," she says of her first encounter, one year ago.

"I was wondering, 'Why am I doing this?' It never felt right, but I had to get a food."

At the time, Theresa had recently dropped out of school and had given birth to a daughter.

She went through a harrowing experience in a children's home before returning to her household.

The expectation of her family was made clear: she had a child to take care of so she had to go out and make a living.

Saddled with adult responsibilities and unarmed - without an education or employable skill - Theresa took the advice of an older friend, who was already involved in prostitution, to make money through sex.

Like scores of other teen moms without a marketable skill, prostitution became a means of survival.

That's some reality to maintain a grip on! I bet Theresa wishes that there had been condoms available in the school she dropped out of and that she had developed the habit of insisting that they be used, just like she has to now.

Alan from the islands

Hi Alan,

To begin, I'm not a newspaper reader. Nor do I watch mainstream news or "current affairs" programs. And a bit slack on the book reading these days as well. But talkback radio (both mainstream/national provider), yep, that runs most of the day as I shoot nails and slice timber. Have I EVER heard the term "peak oil"? Nup, not once. Sure, if ever I do no doubt I'll drop tools and listen with a keen ear, but until then, I'll quietly go about my business; get the debt paid down, see my (now) three teenage kids off to a good start and ready for a life of sunsets.

Really, what else is there to do?

Cheers, Matt (Average Joe)
Melbourne, Australia
TOD member, 5yrs 30wks

What else is there to do? I was reading from up top the Motley Fool investing in peak oil and I have thought about this but I think their analysis is wrong. Right now we are are the Red Queen running to stay in one place- That is why the FED has to continue adding 85 billion a month- the stock market knows this and money will rush out if the FED stops doing this....we are told by mainstream media every week that we must invest in the system ie...stock market...but what happens when the music stops....oil will fall to a very low value which we all here no is not good because we won't be able to afford it---and wells will shut down creating a shortage...and then they will have to recapitalize----I think if you are going to invest in energy you have to hold cash until you see the drop then jump in....a gamble of course...Investing now seems more like a gamble.

Colorado's state climatologist says the High Park Fire granted him the permission, courage to talk about climate change.

It is pretty sad when scientists feel so insecure in their jobs that they are bullied into not talking about a particular scientific phenomenon because it is not politically popular. Climate change needs a 'Scopes' trial.

Climate change needs a 'Scopes' trial.

I thought it already had it"s Scopes Monkey trial?

Environmentalists hail Supreme Court ruling on carbon

By Linda Greenhouse, Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2007

WASHINGTON — The new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on carbon dioxide emissions is a strong rebuke to the Bush administration, which has maintained that it does not have the right to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and that even if it did, it would not use the authority.

The ruling does not force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate auto emissions, but the agency would almost certainly face further legal action if it fails to do so.

In one of its most important environmental decisions in years, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday that the agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions.


Reminds me of Feynman's comment on academic freedom-of-inquiry.

"So I have just one wish for you -- the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom." -- Richard Feynman

On that note, best speech ever by a US senator!!


Thanks,Fred, for bringing that up. I will put it into my op-eds, which have been long singing the same song.

This whole denial thing is literally beyond belief! How do those people live with themselves?

On the insurance companies bets on warming- excellent point-when it comes to money, gotta quit the phantasy,right?

I remember my poker games with the deck apes on my ship- They had totally weird concepts of the world, but when it came to betting for money, they got real and put their brains in gear.

So what do they say about Munich Re?

Bitumen Doesn't Float

Study debunks Enbridge claims that oil sands crude spill is standard clean-up.

By Andrew Nikiforuk, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Some diluted bitumen products will sink in fresh and brackish marine waters in less than 26hours following a tanker spill or accident at a marine terminal.

That's the conclusion of new report by Jeff Short, a highly respected U.S. environmental chemist who worked with for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for decades.

Short directed much of the groundbreaking research on the impact of the Exxon Valdez spill on aquatic life. His research found that oil's toxic properties lasted as long as two decades in marine waters.

The scientist's bitumen study ("Susceptibility of Diluted Bitumen from the Alberta Tar Sands to Sinking in Water"), was filed by the Gitxaala Nation to the National Energy Board last March and directly contradicts testimony by Enbridge hired guns during the Northern Gateway hearings.

Source of Life Running Out: Water Scientists

The majority of people on Earth people will face severe water shortages within a generation or two if pollution and waste continues unabated, scientists warned at a conference in Bonn Friday.

"This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe entirely avoidable," read a document entitled The Bonn Declaration issued at the close of the four-day international huddle.

The declaration points out that humanity uses an area the size of South America to grow crops and another the size of Africa to raise livestock.

User Awareness Key to Effective Energy Monitoring

A new project makes the user interface for intelligent buildings monitor energy supply and consumption more easily accessible to everybody, from geeks to computer-illiterates.

The EU-funded project Fiemser aims to tackle the issue of increasing users' voluntary engagement in energy saving.

The project has developed a Building Energy Management Systems, referred to as BEMS, consisting of several wireless sensors installed throughout the building. They measure both energy consumption and generation, taking into account the fact that more and more buildings—whether they are refurbished or new—are fitted with solar panels.

The advantage of the software developed under the project's umbrella is that it can balance electricity from the grid with that drawn from a domestic source. Its innovative control algorithms allow precise adjustment of the building's energy use. For example, it can detect an increase in temperature when several people are in a room. As a result, the heating in that room will momentarily be turned off, while leaving the rest of the building unchanged. It will also take into account the weather forecast. ... , a sunny weather forecast is likely to yield extra electricity generation from solar panels. Therefore, system chooses the best moment to run the washing machine during the day, balancing the user's needs with the availability of energy from solar panels.

Solar Kettle Allows for Boiling Water off the Grid

A company called Contemporary Energy has unveiled a new device it calls the Solar Kettle. It looks very much like a normal coffee thermos, but has flaps on one side that open to allow for collecting solar energy, thus heating whatever is held inside. The company will be marketing the device to campers and others that need a way to boil water when electricity is not available.

The Solar Kettle looks very much like a normal thermos when not in use, though it's heavier—2.6 pounds when empty, compared to about a half pound for a normal thermos. It looks markedly different however when heating a liquid. The flaps open and direct the sun's energy to the vacuum sealed thermos. The device comes with a stand as well to allow for unattended heating. It typically takes about two hours to heat cold water to boiling.

Cool! Thanks for that link.

You do mean hot, right >;-)

Unfortunately, no price is listed. Solar Kettle boils water using the Sun's rays (Gizmag, Bridget Borgobello, May 22, 2013) lists it as approximately $53 and holds 500 ml of water.

Boiling 500 ml/day for 20 years from 10 C to 100 C at 100% efficiency uses 382 kWh of heat. Assuming 10% sales tax, it costs 15 cents/kWh.

Pretty much a fluff toy -not for those who do the math. There are a lot of feelgood green products out there.

"There are a lot of feelgood green products out there." As naturally carbonated drinks.

The Tea Party and the Politics of Paranoia

Members of tea party claim the movement springs from and promotes basic American conservative principles such as limited government and fiscal responsibility.

But new research by University of Washington political scientist Christopher Parker argues that the tea party ideology owes more to the paranoid politics associated with the John Birch Society — and even the infamous Ku Klux Klan — than to traditional American conservatism.

“Tea party conservatives believe in some conservative principles, to be sure, but they are different from more mainstream conservatives in at least one important respect,” Parker said. “True conservatives aren’t paranoid; tea party conservatives are.”

Asked flat-out if they think President Obama is “destroying the country,” only 6 percent of non-tea party conservatives agreed, a number that rose to 36 percent among all conservatives regardless of tea party affiliations. By contrast, 71 percent of self-identified tea party supporters thought this extreme statement true.

... Parker called the tea party a continuation of what political scientist Richard Hofstadter in the 1960s described as “the paranoid style in American politics,” characterized by exaggeration, suspicion and conspiratorial fantasy.

But new research by University of Washington political scientist Christopher Parker argues that the tea party ideology owes more to the paranoid politics associated with the John Birch Society — and even the infamous Ku Klux Klan — than to traditional American conservatism.

Paranoia is American as apple pie, happily practiced by left, right, center, and those who don't fit that spectrum at all. This tendency shouldn't surprise anyone: colonial and slave-owning societies are notoriously paranoid. And they have good reason to be. The natives and slaves are constantly fantasizing about (justifiably) slitting your throat.

America also has a lot of Scots-Irish, a group with an understandably paranoid culture. The Scots-Irish originally lived in the borderlands between Scotland and England. When these two nations went to war - and they went to war a lot - it was on the Scots-Irish land. Whichever nation marched through usually decided to cleanse the locals as a precautionary measure, regardless of which side of the border line they were on. That sort of thing creates a lot of jittery people, understandably so. Many settled in Ireland for a bit before moving to the US, hence the -Irish portion of their ethnicity. But they're not really Irish (or Scottish or English, for that matter), they're the Scotland-England borderlands people, and their culture is all their own.

Mix paranoid colonizers, slave owners, and borderlands refugees, and you get a pretty paranoid country.

You are confusing fear with paranoia. Fear is rational worry. Paranoia is irrational worry like thinking Obama has a tornado machine that he used in Oklahoma, the Boston Marathon bombing was 'false flag' attack, the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a fictional event created to take your guns away. Yes, those are all things believed by some of the extremist Tea Party people.

Rumor mill works like this on the right (there is a left wing version as well):

Pete to Tommy: "I think Sandy Hook might have just been a fictional event created to take our guns away."

Tommy to right wing blog: "My friend told me that Sandy Hook was a fictional event created to take our guns away."

Drudge reads blog and reports as fact: "Sandy hook did not happen. It was a fictional event created just to take your guns away."

Pete reads Drudge, and tells all: "See! I was right! Sandy Hook WAS a fictional event created to take our guns away."

Even Pete believes the story... after all, he read it on Drudge.


Paranoia is just institutionalized fear.

I think the Scots-Irish originally were Scots resettled in 17th century Ulster to dilute the rebellious native Irish population.

Yeah, at the very start of the 'tea party' revolt it had bit of a Libertarian tinge to it and it included tattooed Gen Xers suspicious of government. But over time it got nurtured by astroturf organizations and taken over by the hardcore GOP base such that it merely became a different name for the hardcore GOP base that was just annoyed at the GOP for losing elections. It is more theocratic than Libertarian now. And crazy church lady Michelle Bachmann is the head of the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives. The approval rating of the Tea party has plummeted down to the 20% range along with that transformation.

The Tea Party -And Their Money- 10 Years Ago

"A study published Friday in the scientific journal Tobacco Control unearthed documents that reveal the tobacco industry's desire to fund a new "tea party" to advance their anti-regulation objectives years before the tea party, as it is known today, got its start. The same documents show that the two organizations most identified with the modern tea party, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks (FW), themselves got their start with a healthy dose of money from the same industry."*

Is the Tea Party the grassroots "patriot" group they like to pretend to be? Not so much. in 2002, what is now the Tea Party got a started with the Koch brothers with a very big check from the tobacco industry.

Report: Terrorist attack on uranium plant — Damage forces closure of facility — Up to 50 people wounded

[...] a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden four-by-four at the Somair uranium mine and processing facility [...]

The attacks come just four months after Al-Qaeda linked militants seized a desert gas plant in neighbouring Algeria in a siege that left 38 hostages dead, also in retaliation against the intervention in Ma

Areva said one person was killed [...] 14 others were wounded. Labo said however that around 50 people were wounded at the mine, adding that almost all of the victims were security agents. [...]

At the mine, an employee told AFP that “a man in military uniform driving a four-by-four packed with explosives mixed in with the Somair workers and blew up his vehicle in front of the power station at the uranium treatment facility.” [...]

A source at Areva in Niamey added that “the damage had forced the closure” of the uranium plant. [...]

Areva, the world’s second-largest uranium producer, condemned the blast as a “terrorist attack” [...]


Also Enhanced firepower sought to fend off ‘radiological sabotage’ at nuclear sites

Climate Change Won't Be A Problem When We Run Out Of Oil

They say that every cloud has a silver lining.

If future energy consumption (which is mostly fossil fuel) drops because of a financial collapse brought on by high oil prices and other limits, then, at least in theory, climate change should be less of a problem.

My estimate of CO2 generation by fossil fuels in the 21st century is only about one-quarter of the amount (range midpoint) assumed in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report. When differences in estimates of an important variable are this far apart, one starts reaching the “Garbage in, garbage out” problem.

A comparison of energy consumption estimates is shown in Figure 2. My estimate of energy consumption (similar to that in Figure 1) is shown as the Collapse scenario.

The Collapse Scenario in Figure 2 is my estimate of future energy consumption, using amounts similar to Figure 1 of this post. It is based on the assumption that financial limits are what brings down the system. As the system is brought down, our capability to provide many basic services, such as our ability to maintain roads and electric transmission lines, disappears. Thus, we become unable to maintain the complex systems needed to extract oil and gas and coal, and because of this, are unable to maintain current energy supplies. Even renewables will become a problem, because we need fossil fuels to create new renewable energy generation. We also need fossil fuels to maintain the lines used to transmit the electricity, and to provide back-up generation.

I must admit when I read these posts (and the ones referred to in Gail's article) claiming that we don't need to worry about co2 emissions and climate change due to peak oil I always end up rolling my eyes. I have been studying peak oil and climate change for 7-8 years now and am pretty familiar with the science and the data. It takes some pretty convoluted reasoning to get to the above conclusion.

I note that figure 2 indicates a fairly steep drop off into collapse starting about now. Where is the data to support this figure? While the world economy has shown an overall growth that is considered anemic by older standards it is hardly in serious decline. Energy consumption is very high and shows no indications of significant decline. CO2 emissions are still growing and projections of energy use and the effects of other human actions strongly indicate that they will continue to rise for years ...perhaps many years. The longer this situation continues the further it gets us into the secondary effects of climate change such as co2 and methane releases caused by our burning fossil fuels. To think that our industrial civilization will not pull out all stops to maintain itself, even in the face of eventual financial ruin, is foolish. And I await the figures which show that we are falling off the table in financial terms. One can make the argument we are pretty stagnate or on a plateau, but we could stay on that path for 10-20 years before we really drop off. Part of the reason we have not declined as fast as many assume is that the high cost of energy is forcing countries like the US to become more efficient (we are using less and pretty much maintaining position). Considering how energy inefficient we still are I expect that we can continue our forced readjustment for quite some time. There will not be a big financial downturn as the article predicts until the inefficiencies are largely worked out. In light of this we should be expecting that energy use will remain at current levels at a minimum. CO2 emissions are likely to rise for quite a number of years still. And after they peak you still have to have them drop a long way before CO2 levels stop climbing.

Until the industrial agriculture system can no longer provide quantities of food sufficient to feed near 100% of the existing population global collapse just does not seem likely. We can have a pretty crappy global economy and still keep the population largely intact. There will be strong emphasis on doing that as along as possible and this will drive co2 emissions.

I think that the larger problem is that as oil peaks, coal use will expand again. If you think the economic barons will go down without a fight, you better think again. And, people will need a/c more and more if temps rise.

It is not reasonable to expect that everyone will suddenly stop using electricity just because the cost of gas for the car and the overall cost of energy goes way up. They will stop buying consumer goods, drop one car and then the other, going car-pooling or public transit. And, they will keep the a/c set on 75 deg. After all, they have a right to be comfortable, don't they?

You need to add the use of coal and NG to that.



Coal use in 2011 was 30.3% of primary energy use the highest since 1969 and accounted for 43% of human caused carbon emissions.


I think I read here on Drumbeat in the last month that coal used is expected to rise over the next year and that Australia is opening the worlds largest coal mine. The below link indicates a about a 10% rise in coal production by 2017. I hate this, but I see no indications that it is not going to happen.


"And I await the figures which show that we are falling off the table in financial terms. One can make the argument we are pretty stagnate or on a plateau, but we could stay on that path for" Wyoming? Really? Do you not think that the actions of the FED are not unprecedented? 1 in 5 Americans is on food stamps 16 trillion in debt.....terrible GDP numbers....Also you say we are becoming more efficient is it that or are we just in a depression covered by heavy FED actions...just because the stock market is going up does not mean we are in good financial shape...I do agree with you that we can become energy efficient but won't that take energy too? Moving people out of the suburbs into cities...building up cities to take these new people...a "new " transportation system to move all these new people. To make the transitions that you are talking about we need a government that is proactive and in the states we have a government that is reactive; good for personal individual freedoms not so good when large problems arise.

Yemen's main oil export pipeline sabotaged, crude flow halted

Unknown attackers have blown up Yemen’s main oil export pipeline in the central province of Ma’rib, halting the flow of crude oil, government and industry sources say.

The key pipeline, which carries oil to an export terminal on the Red Sea shore, had been pumping around 125,000 barrels per day (bpd), Reuters quoted an industry source as saying.

Oil revenues make up more than 70 percent of Yemen’s state budget. Oil and gas products also account for over 90 percent of Yemen's exports.

Cummins gets to work on natural gas engine

Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant has begun limited production of a new 12-liter Cummins Westport natural gas engine — the ISX12 G. According to Cummins, the ISX12 G operates on 100 percent natural gas, which can be carried on the vehicle in either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) form.

... “The growth of the natural gas business is dependent on the price differential between diesel fuel and natural gas, as well as the number of fuel stations nationwide.”

Cummins anticipates that natural gas engines will account for 5 to 10 percent of the on-highway market over the next five to 10 years, and considers itself well-positioned if demand is greater.

Halliburton Joins the Natural Gas Vehicle Party

Another day, another U.S. company announces that it is deploying a fleet of natural gas vehicles. This week, it's Haliburton's turn: The company will be adding 100 natural gas vehicles to its fleet. Vehicles aren't the only way this company is betting on natural gas, though. Halliburton and its partners have also successfully completed a well, but they did so using natural gas instead of diesel fuel as a power source.

Fire at Fuel Depot in Rio Kills One

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A huge fire at a fuel depot on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro killed a man and injured seven others on Thursday, local media reported. Firefighters were still trying to control the blaze on Friday morning.

The fire department said that the depot contained about three million liters of fuel (25,000 bbl). Temperatures in the fire reached 1,000 degrees Celsius, and radiated a heat of 600 degrees Celsius to the surrounding evacuated area. Television news reports showed flames reaching hundreds of feet high, clouds off black smoke and a gas tanker truck catching fire close to the blaze.

also Rio fuel depot fire spreads to neighbouring homes

EU bans three pesticides harmful to bees

The European Commission said Friday that it will ban for two years beginning in December pesticides blamed for killing the bees that pollinate food and fruit crops.

Bayer of Germany and Switzerland's Syngenta insist that their products are not to blame for a very sharp decline in the bee population which has stoked fears over future food security, made worse by the unpredictable impact of climate change.

Poland Looks to Diversify Gas Supply

Energy independence not sole motivation as country's national oil company and private firms place bets on shale gas.

And yet the major oil companies can't get out quick enough, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/08/poland-shale-idUSL6N0DP2WH2013...

WARSAW, May 8 (Reuters) - Canada's Talisman Energy and U.S. oil firm Marathon said they were quitting Polish shale gas operations, raising questions over the business sense of developing the deposits, once seen as a potential energy bonanza.

U.S. oil major Exxon pulled out last year, citing disappointing drilling results, but the announcements from Marathon and Talisman on Wednesday added up to the most dramatic exodus from the sector to date.

Marathon said it had decided to end operations in Poland: "after an evaluation of the company's exploration activities in Poland and unsuccessful attempts to find commercial levels of hydrocarbons."

This follows the announcement from Shell earlier this month that they were not going to participate in the shale business in the UK.

Looks like shale gas recovery might not be a major business in Europe.

New from Chatham House ...

US Energy: the New Reality

(pg 3) Projections of US oil and gas output have been wrong in the past. While they may offer an idea of the direction of travel, they are open to substantial error, with consequences for the extent to which policy-makers – or anyone else – should rely on them.

Similarly, future projections of US oil and gas production are inherently very uncertain. The key production uncertainty is the extent to which new discoveries, technology and investment will offset the inevitable and continuing decline of old reservoirs onshore, while also sustaining production of oil and gas from shale – where decline from individual wells is very rapid.

•The trend of rising US dependence on imports of foreign oil and natural gas has been abruptly reversed, as a result of falling domestic demand for oil and increasing domestic supplies. This trend is likely to continue until at least 2020. At the same time, the nature of this turnaround takes away the ‘national security’ argument from the oil and gas industry‘s demands for further tax breaks and access to environmentally sensitive areas on- and offshore.

•There are significant transitional challenges. The main sources of US shale gas and 'tight' oil are distant from existing infrastructure. The new oil mainly replaces light African and Atlantic crudes, rather than heavier Middle East oil for which refineries were designed.

•The aggregate of 'energy self-sufficiency' is superficial. Only if potential surpluses from Canada and Mexico are included can one project the idea of North American energy self-sufficiency.

•'Energy security' is losing strength as a policy justification. The United States will, however, remain a substantial oil importer for at least a decade, and cannot be indifferent to the stability and security of global oil markets.

Critical Economic Challenges and Whether Democracies Can Meet Them

Robert Rubin, Co-Chief Operating Officer - Goldman Sachs, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; US Treasury Secretary (1995-99), will examine the economic challenges facing industrialized countries and reflect on the effectiveness of the democratic political system in addressing them. Transcript

Rubin: ... I believe it is entirely possible that the largest industrial democracies are in a period of truly historic importance, and perhaps even at a crossroads with respect to their social cohesion, the social conditions, their economies, their geopolitical position in the world and maybe even their political systems themselves.

Six-year drought ends

Approximately 300 residents of Sligoville and surrounding communities in St Catherine now have water flowing into their homes, after living without piped water for up to six years.

This has resulted from the rehabilitation of the Sligoville Water Supply System at a cost of $50 million, by the government of the People's Republic of China.

The system, situated at the Sligoville Park, was officially commissioned into service Tuesday, during a handover ceremony.

The project, which commenced in November 15 last year, was completed in April 15 this year. It involved the replacement of all eight water pumps used on the four-stage pumping system. Connecting pipelines were also installed between each water pump and existing valves. Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill said the Sligoville Water System was one of the most challenging water-supply systems in the country, primarily because of its elevation, electricity demand and its number of pumping stations.

So Sligoville, a small town between 510 and 617 meters (1700-2000ft.) above sea level, has got a brand new system to pump water up to the town, using electricity supplied by the local utility, at a price of at least 30 US cents per kWh. Brilliant!

Alan from the islands

back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that one kilowatt-hour will pump about 73 gallons (assuming 1700 feet of net pumping head and 70% efficient pump/motor combination). At 30 cents/kWh, that's about 0.4 cents/gallon. High, but not a deal-breaker - 40 cents/1000 gallons - so long as it isn't going for frivolous things like watering lawns. The number that is more disturbing is investing $50 million for just pumps and some pipes, to serve just 300 people. That's $166,000/person in water infrastructure and that doesn't include filtration or other distribution costs. Is that US $ or J$? And why is the PRC involved in this?

The $50 million is J$ and the exchange rate is about 100:1. The PRC is involved for the same reason they're involved in all their other aid programs all over the world. They've got the money to lend/give and I guess one day they might want countries to vote for something at the UN, against the wishes of other powerful countries?

Alan from the islands

Coal Has Regained A Big Lead As America's Top Source Of Electricity

Back in 2011 and 2012, natural gas was rapidly rising as a source of electricity in the U.S., displacing coal. In April 2012, the two sources were tied, each supply 32% of the America's energy.

But environmentalists will be disappointed to hear that coal is now back to providing 40% of the nation's electricity output, more than all other power sources.
The reason: natural gas prices have now climbed back to well above $4, after falling to as low as $2 a year ago.

Yeah, that is disappointing but expected. We all know the price of natural gas was unreasonably low and only got that low due to over-investment in gas drilling.

Don't worry solar is cheaper then coal. Stupid market.

Hot Trend in Automobiles: Not Owning One

Whether by choice or through financial reality, the percentage of American households without a car has doubled over the past two decades—and is now approaching 1 in 10.

Best hopes for more walking and less driving.

Kinda annoying, the walking, as the air quality isn't so great, and the sidewalk under I-5 is covered in glass (sliver lining: at least there is a sidewalk, and the WA drivers don't throw things like they do at pedestrians in other states?). But, the last time I was stuck in a traffic jam was back in June 2012, which coincidentally was also the last time I was in a vehicle.

The long road to the 2000-watt society

The average instantaneous energy consumption for Brits and Australians is about 5 kw, for the US 10 kw and for the Swiss 4.2 kw. Assuming the Swiss are efficient and frugal then world energy consumption should be 7 bn X 4.2 kw = 29.4 Tw. It's currently 17 Tw.

We have energy inequality now in which many people need more to live a decent lifestyle e.g with refrigeration of food. Others squander energy on hot tubs and giant cars. However with Peak Everything we can't just take energy consumption away from those who waste it since there still won't be enough. I see no easy way we can find enough energy so everybody gets an adequate fair share.

In the end it will not be equal, but there will be enough to go around. How do I know this? History is full of examples of populations being reduced to levels adequate to sustain thier needs. The only new wrinkle is that this time it may very well happen on a global scale.

Since I started my carbon reduction campaign about a year ago, I have found it easy to reduce my total carbon emissions to about 1/10 that of my friends. I don't travel, I don't use electricity in my fridge when it's colder outside than the fridge, I use PV power for all other uses including heating and cooling via heat pump and good insulation.

and so on. All awful obvious and easy.

I didn't spend as much on all this as my friends did on excessive vehicles, etc. And I'm pretty sure I am happier than they are.

I don't use electricity in my fridge when it's colder outside than the fridge

That only works if the heater is off inside. Depending on where you live and the season, that could be a chilly experience. It may be a case of you shivering while your friends are whooping it up burning FF, singing and dancing with the heater on full blast, music blaring, beer cans popping, pizza boxes akimbo letting the good times roll while the heart of the oil age beats a little while longer.

I put the fridge in a pantry cupboard with screened vents to the outside air in the floor and wall. That way it rarely runs during winter--sometimes I even cover the vents to keep food from freezing inside the fridge. During the summer the pantry, being on the northeast side of the house under the trees, is the coolest place so the fridge runs less than it would if it was right in the kitchen.

Yep, my fridge has its own little room, sorta frigid in there.

When I was a kid, we had an ice box.- like a box with a block of ice in it. Any reason we couldn't do that today, despite the strong psychic counterforces radiating from that party Earl mentioned next door? We could get the ice out of their fridge. With that din, they wouldn't even notice.

Yair . . . With the general drop off in traffic I would put it to the moderators that the site could be reinvigorated with a return to the wide ranging discussions of the "campfire" segment. . . anyone else feel the same?


I've gathered that's not been the direction the Eds are likely to run.

Personally, I'm here with an interest in discussing current energy stories as they relate to tools and intelligent options with which to anticipate 'our energy future'.. and to hear the experiences of all of you around the globe.

Campfire topics were great ways to get further into some of these, and I'm always pleased to see Keypost articles on new thinking in Alternative Energy, Transportation, Housing, Lifestyle..

Another big BC fight ramping up over the Fraser River Port Authority applying to ship Wyoming and Montana coal from Vancouver to Texada Island in the Gulf of Georgia. There is another protest, today. The coal will be off loaded rail to barge, where it will be then towed down river and up-coast to be re-piled until a ship can be then loaded up for further transport to Asia. This is already being done with Quinsam coal mined near Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

I assume this is the coal Oregon said no to and Washington State is fighting about in the media. I do see coal trains moving by Stanwood when I visit my sister.

Enbridge's Northern Gateway....Kinder-Morgan's Burnaby facility proposed to move 900,000 barrels of bitumen/day, our own southeast coal terminal in Delta, Quinsam coal on the Island, and a new proposed mine below Courtenay. Tumbler Ridge coal through Prince Rupert. Jeeez.

Our forest Industry is so mechanized and with the softwood lumber tariffs forcing 90% of sawmills to relocate in US to avoid paying it....we are becoming the ultimate accomodator to world energy needs. Gotta eat. Rationalize it any way we want our broke Provincial Govt will #hore us out any way possible to plump up the coffers and promote 'The Free Enterprise Coalition".

These are troubling times for many of us. We all use ff, and because we all do so, our economic system seems to force us to be more and more involved in its production and transport. Some days I feel like we are running a giant meth lab for the world's energy jones.



Of course there is also our recycled premier betting that exporting LNG will pay off BC's budget. Notwithstanding Alberta's inability to balance their books despite exporting the world's biggest petroleum deposit. I realize there are differences but I suspect there will be unexpected extenuating circumstances that nobody could have predicted.


@ Bryan

I very much agree with this. I have had a few discussions lately with folks that have stated they no longer watch the local news because they cannot tolerate what our Province has become. As for the NDP, they have lost their way and don't know what they stand for beyond trying to placate enough voters to get into power. The Liberals, of course, are for the most part as liberal as any other group of politicians that represent only the monied and business class. I am afraid that over the next 4 years they will create a Province that has gone too far in too many ways to be credible and/or sustainable. BC is running that world-wide race for the bottom without real vision or purpose. "Vote for us and it will be like it used to be, like it should be, like you deserve and are entitled to. Trust us".

Just retired and lined up enough 'cash' carpentry jobs for any extras. Just applied to contract out construction and flying services. Buying local....certainly from Canadian suppliers whenever possible. Trying to stay off'lists'. Retired from the 'formal job', but will probably work in one form or another till I drop because I find work immensely satisfying and creative....fun....rewarding.

I am 57 and taking a welding course with some kids in their early twenties. At lunch on Thursday I was explaining what it used to be like when I was their age and worked as an apprentice carpenter. In 1973-74 I worked as a third year (19-20 age) and was paid $7:00 dollars per hour...approx. 50 cents an hour over the union rate. Our company was union certified but building private and self-financed projects. Cigarettes were less than $4.00 per carton and draft was 25 cents per glass. It cost me $3.65 to fill up my moms bug and about $6.00 to fill up my truck. In other words....1/2 hour pay for a weeks worth of smokes, 20 minutes work to spend the night in the beer parlour (no yuppie pubs back then), and an hours pay to fill up the truck or 1/2 hour to fill up the bug. To live the same way as an apprenticed welder a journeyman would have to make a minimum of $100.00 per hour. (Apprentices are paid percentage until they get their ticket/red seal.) Now, in Alberta contract welders can make this provided they supply their machines and transport and WCB, etc...but journeyman rate for most trades on the Coast is around $30.00...and spotty at best.

And we have a new Premier hell bent on cutting services and exporting LNG...in the vain hope to restore what life used to be. In fact, this week she cited Wacky Bennett and stated that LNG exports would restore to the good old days when our Province opened up to industry and the dams were built.

I always had parents rooting for me and their ability to help out if ever needed. Many of these kids don't even have a solid family to stand behind them as they are also under-employed and barely getting by. My message to them is get that welding ticket and use it as a foundation for another related trade. Go pipelining or into the energy sector and become established and financially secure before the 'interests' find a way to take that away from people like they have every other industry.

My grandkids will be able to take over our land and grow food for themselves and get by.....if past trends point to our future. We can always eat potatoes, garden greens, elk, and fish. Gotta run. I just saw something big swim across the river. Excuse my Sat. morning rant.