Drumbeat: May 29, 2013

Best OPEC Discipline Since 2011 No Proof for $100 Oil

OPEC’s best adherence to its production ceiling in 18 months is failing to buoy the outlook for crude oil prices, raising pressure on the group to pare supplies amid burgeoning U.S. output.

While all but one of 20 analysts in a Bloomberg survey predict the 12-member organization will maintain its target of 30 million barrels a day at its May 31 meeting in Vienna, most say OPEC needs to conform better with the limit to keep supply from overwhelming demand. Societe Generale SA says the necessary reduction could be “substantial.” The Centre for Global Energy Studies says prices may tumble without output curbs.

Oil slips back on economy uncertainty

LONDON (Reuters) - Brent crude oil futures retreated on Wednesday, on worries that the Federal Reserve could phase out its stimulus package, and an uncertain demand outlook for the global economy following weak growth forecasts for China.

Saudi Arabia’s Naimi Says Current Situation Best for Oil

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, is content with current conditions in the oil market, the kingdom’s petroleum minister said three days before OPEC members meet to assess the group’s output policy.

“This is the best environment for the market,” Ali al-Naimi told reporters today in Vienna when asked about the balance of supply and demand. “Demand is great,” al-Naimi said as he arrived at his hotel.

Oil-Tanker Rates Gain as Vessel Surplus Falls to Six-Month Low

Hire rates for the largest oil tankers rose as a surplus of the vessels declined to the smallest in six-months in the Persian Gulf, the world’s biggest crude-loading region.

ULSD Surges as Central Banks Signal Lower Rates to Spur Growth

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel futures advanced for the first time in five days as some central banks indicated they planned to continue measures to promote economic growth that could spur fuel demand.

Ethanol Gains on Gasoline on Signs of Higher Manufacturing Costs

Ethanol strengthened against gasoline on concern that bad weather in the Midwest will slow corn planting and raise production costs to make the biofuel.

Wyoming oil production up in 2012; still down historically

Wyoming oil production is on the upswing after decades of decline, but recent production is still nowhere near the state’s all-time peak.

Operators throughout the state produced more than 57 million barrels of oil last year, according to data from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The number represents an 8 percent production bump since 2003 and an 11 percent increase since 2009.

Eagle Ford Oil Output Rises 77% to More Than 500,000 Barrels/Day

Oil production in Texas’s Eagle Ford shale formation rose more Than 77 percent in March from a year earlier, topping 500,000 barrels a day and posting a record.

The nine geographic fields that make up the majority of Eagle Ford yielded 529,874 barrels of crude a day, according to preliminary data released by the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state. The fields produced 298,266 barrels daily in March 2012.

Syrian minister says oil production has fallen to some 5 percent of pre-war levels

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s oil minister says the country’s production has fallen drastically over the past two years because of the crisis.

Suleiman Abbas told lawmakers Wednesday that daily oil production stands at 20,000 barrels, roughly 5 percent of the 380,000 barrels produced daily before the March 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad began.

Chevron and Venezuela sign US$2b loan deal

Chevron Corp has agreed to lend US$2 billion to a joint venture with Venezuela's state oil company in an effort to boost production in an oil field in western Zulia state.

Primorsk June Urals Crude Exports Lowest in at Least Five Years

Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, plans to ship less than 1 million barrels a day of Urals crude from Primorsk port on the Baltic Sea for the first time in about five years, a final loading program showed.

Insight: Nigerian pirate gangs extend reach off West Africa

Until recently, Ivory Coast's maritime surveillance brigade - the equivalent of a coastguard - managed, barely, to keep a lid on crime in the waters around one of Africa's busiest ports.

But ruthless Nigerian gangs, which have expanded hundreds of miles beyond their home waters in the last three years, reached francophone West Africa's largest economy in October.

Born of an uprising in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, which spawned a web of criminal networks, the gangs now threaten to derail the development of one of the world's poorest regions as the Gulf of Guinea seeks to become a major oil and gas hub.

Vietnam accuses China of damaging fishing boat

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Vietnam has accused China of damaging a fishing boat in the latest escalation of tension in the disputed South China Sea.

The Foreign Ministry said a Chinese vessel slammed into a Vietnamese fishing boat while it was operating in Vietnamese waters on May 20. It damaged the ship's hull and risked the lives of 15 crew members, it said.

In Central Burma, a Lawless Rush for Oil

Oil fields abandoned by Burma’s state-owned oil company in Magway Division have turned into a lawless arena for local drillers and smugglers looking for a profit—with knife fights settling scores between rival drillers, company officials and local residents say.

Escalating Australian LNG Costs Spur Woodside to Look Abroad

Surging costs in Australia, set to become the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter by 2018, are stoking a drive by Woodside Petroleum Ltd., the nation’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, to expand overseas.

Billionaire Swedes See Lundin Jump After Matching Apple: Energy

Lukas Lundin, investment manager for his billionaire Swedish family, said the oil stock bearing their name should double in value this decade after making its biggest North Sea discovery.

RusPetro Leads FTSE All-Share Index on Loan Terms

RusPetro Plc, an oil producer in Siberia, rose as much as 16 percent to lead gains among the 600 companies on the FTSE All-Share Index after OAO Sberbank granted it a loan extension and a “holiday” on interest payments.

ONGC Profit Slumps to Lowest in 7 Quarters on Oil Discounts

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, reported its lowest profit in seven quarters after selling crude at steeper discounts.

Access to energy

SOME 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity, and 1.6 billion to modern fuels for household cooking between 1990 and 2010. The world's population increased by a similar amount, so the proportion of those who have access to modern energy sources rose.

Lessons from a 12-Year-Old Oil Investor

I learned a valuable investment lesson this past weekend...

From my teenage niece.

Those of my readers that have been with me for a long time know my family sticks to its traditions — including our annual festivities for Memorial Day. And yesterday's celebration was the first time in a long while that I had to catch up with my niece.

She is, by far, the youngest Peak Oil investor I know.

In praise of Big Oil

Plan to drive more this summer? Annoyed by the price of gas? Complaining that oil companies rip you off?

I say, shut up. Even if gas costs $4 per gallon, we should thank Big Oil.

We Could Prevent Europe's Energy Scare

Imagine your energy bill increasing by 50% in one day. Pretty scary, eh?

Back in March, this is exactly what happened... in England. In a single day, natural gas prices spiked by 50% there, all because of a failed water pump. As much as this could be considered a fluke accident, there were several factors that led to this single, minute event causing the worlds eighth largest natural gas market to its knees. Let's take a look at what happened, how the U.S. can prevent this from happening at home, and what it will mean for U.S. gas companies.

Warren Buffett Doesn't Care About Keystone XL

A recent report by Reuters highlights the oil by rail phenomenon and the misconception that if Keystone XL is blocked, all of that Canadian oil will find its way into the U.S. on a train instead. The truth of the matter is that moving oil from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast is one thing, but adding 900 miles of rail time to that distance – the distance to Alberta's oil sands – and all of a sudden rail is not particularly economical. Estimates are that it would cost $10 per barrel to transport oil sands via Keystone, and $30 via railcar. This economic reality is probably why, desperate though they are, Canadian producers only moved 25,000 barrels per day by rail in January of this year.

Not only that, but 75% of Canadian crude is processed at Midwest refineries, not on the Gulf Coast, presumably because the shorter distance saves time and money.

Boxer wants probe on troubled plant

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wants the Justice Department to investigate if California utility executives deceived federal regulators about an equipment swap at the San Onofre nuclear power plant that eventually led to a radiation leak, The Associated Press has learned.

Kentucky Operator to Cease Enrichment of Uranium

WASHINGTON — The only American-owned plant for enriching uranium, a cold war relic near Paducah, Ky., will be shut down next month, its operator said on Friday. The closing could pose a problem for the American nuclear weapons arsenal over time but is not likely to affect civilian nuclear electric plants.

Sweden stands by refusal to subsidise new nuclear

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's government will not subsidise new nuclear power stations, the energy minister said, sticking by a policy that casts doubt on the sector's long-term survival after the major operator sought to delay new investment.

South Korea shuts more nuclear reactors over fake certificates

(Reuters) - South Korea said on Tuesday it was suspending the operations of two nuclear power reactors and extended a shutdown of a third to replace cables that were supplied using fake certificates, threatening power shortages in Asia's fourth-biggest economy.

India, Japan seek early agreement on civil nuclear pact

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart agreed on Wednesday to speed up talks on a deal to allow Japan to export nuclear plants and to strengthen security cooperation as both sides keep a wary eye on China's military clout.

Train derails near Baltimore, collapsing buildings

WHITE MARSH, Md. (AP) — An explosion after a cargo train derailed Tuesday in a Baltimore suburb rattled homes at least a half-mile away and collapsed nearby buildings, setting them on fire, officials and witnesses said.

World car production grows 3 times faster than global oil supplies

In the last 10 years the world’s annual car production went up from 41 million to 63 million cars in 2012, or 52%. Almost 2/3 of this growth came from China. However, in the same period, global liquid supplies went up only 16%, an obvious mismatch.

Reality gap widens on EU car fuel efficiency claims - study

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The gap has widened between the fuel-efficiency that carmakers declare for their models and the reality for drivers, with luxury German vehicles showing the biggest divergence, a study has found.

Elon Musk's fortune swells by $2.9 billion as Tesla, SolarCity surge

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) = Elon Musk is on a roll this year, and he's got an extra $2.9 billion to show for it.

The serial entrepreneur currently heads electric-car maker Tesla Motors and chairs renewable energy firm SolarCity, which was founded by his cousins, brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive.

Tesla shares have soared more than 180% this year, with the firm reporting its first-ever quarterly profit earlier this month. SolarCity shares debuted on the Nasdaq in December at an IPO price of $8 and are now worth six times that, closing Friday at $48.78.

Tesla alternatives: Four cheap electric cars

Leasing an electric car isn't just a pricey option for the rich. In fact, there are some very reasonably priced options out there.

Saudi, Egypt electricity deal close

Saudi Arabia expects to sign an electricity-sharing agreement with Egypt that would kick-start the construction of power lines connecting North Africa to the Arabian Gulf.

The plan, previously stalled because of the Arab Spring, is back on track.

Three-gigawatt power lines between Riyadh and Jeddah and Medina and Tabouk are expected to be completed in the next three to four years, and by 2019, Saudi Arabia should be able to start exporting electricity.

Gulf states widen thinking on alternative energy strategy

Arabian Gulf states are looking at using alternative energy for one of the biggest consumers of energy in the region - desalination.

Soaring demand for electricity and a growing shortage of natural gas have led governments to rethink their energy strategy and incorporate solar power in particular into their plans.

Solar Industry Anxious Over Defective Panels

LOS ANGELES — The solar panels covering a vast warehouse roof in the sun-soaked Inland Empire region east of Los Angeles were only two years into their expected 25-year life span when they began to fail.

Coatings that protect the panels disintegrated while other defects caused two fires that took the system offline for two years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

It was not an isolated incident. Worldwide, testing labs, developers, financiers and insurers are reporting similar problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption.

Wal-Mart pays $82 million fine for dumping hazardous waste

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Wal-Mart will pay $82 million for violating the Clean Water Act and other environmental regulations, after dumping pesticides and other hazardous materials down the drain.

It's time to rethink recycling

FORTUNE -- In 2002, the renowned green architect Bill McDonough and his German business partner, Michael Braungart, an environmental chemist and former Greenpeace activist, wrote the groundbreaking book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Since its publication, the book has influenced not only an entire generation of industrial designers and chief sustainability officers but some notable CEOs. Cradle to Cradle argued that it's not enough for a company to become more efficient -- it must radially alter the way it designs products to make them more sustainable.

Peak water?

Two words that fill many economists with dread are ‘peak oil’. The phrase is meant to signify that moment when oil production peaks, and falls into decline. What will happen when that day occurs? Will we see the end of economic growth, or will we barely notice it, so rich will we be in renewable energy? But here are two words to send even more fear down our collective spines: ‘peak water’.

Decline in biodiversity of farmed plants, animals gathering pace

OSLO (Reuters) - A decline in the diversity of farmed plants and livestock breeds is gathering pace, threatening future food supplies for the world's growing population, the head of a new United Nations panel on biodiversity said on Monday.

Preserving neglected animal breeds and plants was necessary as they could have genes resistant to future diseases or to shifts in the climate to warmer temperatures, more droughts or downpours, Zakri Abdul Hamid said.

EU seeks 2014 deadline for nations' greenhouse gas plans

OSLO (Reuters) - All countries should outline their long-term plans for curbing greenhouse gases next year, earlier than favoured by Washington, to revive the stalled fight against climate change, the European Union proposed on Tuesday.

After past failures, almost 200 countries agreed in 2011 to work out by the end of 2015 a U.N. pact to slow global warming with curbs taking effect from 2020. They have still to figure out what each nation will do.

From link up top:
Best OPEC Discipline Since 2011 No Proof for $100 Oil

OPEC’s best adherence to its production ceiling in 18 months is failing to buoy the outlook for crude oil prices, raising pressure on the group to pare supplies amid burgeoning U.S. output.

Ha, the author thinks OPEC is adhering to quotas. The possibility that OPEC cannot produce more oil isn't mentioned.

The possibility that OPEC cannot produce more oil isn't mentioned.

Indeed...it also sets them up to paint any reductions in supply in the coming months as "voluntary", rather than the result of declining fields.

No you'r missing the point, this is showing the global economy continues to slow. This is the give and take between limited more expensive oil and the global economy built on cheap oil. The question of oil continues to be either ignored or propagandized, but its increasingly clear the global economy of the past 3 decades can't run on $100 a barrel.

The question of oil continues to be either ignored or propagandized, but its increasingly clear the global economy of the past 3 decades can't run on $100 a barrel.

But, but then humanity (meaning the 1%) will suffer, we (meaning the 1%) just can't let that happen!

Exxon CEO: ‘What Good Is It To Save The Planet If Humanity Suffers?’

By Ryan Koronowski and Joe Romm on May 30, 2013 at 11:21 am

At Wednesday’s meeting for ExxonMobil shareholders in Dallas, CEO Rex Tillerson told those assembled that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay, and cutting carbon emissions would do no good.

He asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

Just can't make this stuff up!

He asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

Fred, kind of like the license plate I saw yesterday -- LVN42DA. Living for today.

CEO Rex Tillerson is seemingly a selfish eunuch without descendants .. only way I can grasp that latter quote.

"It was necessary to kill the planet in order to save it."

Don't need to make it up, it's everywhere. Here's mine (again). Did not make it up.

Me- " we can make a good compressor that uses nonCFC refrigerant and works just as well. are you (Pres of major company) interested in it?

P- "No"

Me- "You're not! CFC's are a major threat to the planet. Do you care at all about your grandkids?"

P- "I certainly do- a lot."

Me- "So why no interest in saving their planet?"

P- " My task is to maximize gain to my stockholders, grandkids' planet is irrelevant."

Here's a commentary from SLATE:

The Arctic Ice “Death Spiral”

The author mentions his disgust with the denialist camp's refusal to accept the obvious decline, apparent in the data. But, hey, that's politics-as-usual these days...

E. Swanson

Maybe the question to ask is: Why is this politics as usual? What would stand to be gained by being truthful about this? Maybe it is a very good defensive strategy in their mind. Maybe peak oil has been on government minds all along; that is probably why we invaded Iraq. Sadaam Husein in a peak oil world would have been tough to deal with especially if he was making deals with China. I am not saying that governments make the right choices but I am trying to play out that they do know about peak oil and how would they react to this and maybe that is what you are seeing.

"Maybe peak oil has been on government minds all along"
Interesting Movie Clip from 1975:
Three Days of the Condor,

"Maybe peak oil has been on government minds all along;"

For some people in governments yes for sure, even if the term "peak oil" isn't used directly, I think James Akins 73 paper "The oil crisis : this time the wolf is here", written after US 1970 peak and before the "embargo" is a good example of it :

Akins is the guy named by Nixons after 1970 US peak to do an audit of US producers to check what was going on, he was then US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, several interviews of him in below documentary (unfortunately dubbed) :

Where he mentions in particular the "embargo" never having been effective from KSA to the US (tankers kept on going through Barhain to make it more discrete, towards the US Army in Vietnam in particular).

Also Lionel Badal study about the the IEA 1998 report is quite clear about direct pressure to "moot" the peak oil message :

Adm Rickover's 1957 speech was eerily prescient...


The Global 2000 Report to the President was released in 1980 by the Council on Environmental Quality, CIA, DoD and the United States Department of State. It was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter on May 23, 1977, and was directed by Gerald O. Barney. It was based on data collected by different institutions. This data and information was used in computer models to make projections for the future based on trends for the next decades.

This is the second study after The Limits to Growth that started discussion about possible future trends such as global warming, energy scarcity, explosive human population growth, plant and fauna species eradication, genetic diversity extinction, and a global economic system based on unlimited wants in contrast to Earth's finite resources, etc

It concluded with:

... If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the worlds people will be poorer in many ways than they are today [1980].

I have the complete report and it has a section discussing Hubbert's curve and the estimate of remaining global oil supply. See ppg 189-194 Technical Report Vol 2. As mentioned on pg 190

"... A feeling is developing that the peak in petroleum production will occur in the 1990's"

[things they missed: breakup of USSR, rise of China, Alaska & North Sea oil, deep ocean drilling]

The Global 2000 Report to the President: Entering the 21st Century, Volume One. See: Global 2000 Vol. 1 (14 MB).

The Global 2000 Report to the President: The Technical Report, Volume Two. See: Global 2000 Vol. 2 (18 MB)

The Global 2000 Report to the President: The Government's "Global Model" , Volume Three. See Global 2000 Vol. 3. (22 MB)

The Seven Locks edition (1.7 MB) includes a special foreword by President Jimmy Carter.

Current links to the same reports in the government archives are blocked The Global 2000 Report to the President, all volumes

Thanks for the links.

Note : the last link you provide isn't towards the blocked links in the government archives, but to a page with all links actives (and to translations)

Coevolution of farming and private property during the early Holocene

The advent of farming around 12 millennia ago was a cultural as well as technological revolution, requiring a new system of property rights. Among mobile hunter–gatherers during the late Pleistocene, food was almost certainly widely shared as it was acquired. If a harvested crop or the meat of a domesticated animal were to have been distributed to other group members, a late Pleistocene would-be farmer would have had little incentive to engage in the required investments in clearing, cultivation, animal tending, and storage. However, the new property rights that farming required—secure individual claims to the products of one’s labor—were infeasible because most of the mobile and dispersed resources of a forager economy could not cost-effectively be delimited and defended. The resulting chicken-and-egg puzzle might be resolved if farming had been much more productive than foraging, but initially it was not. Our model and simulations explain how, despite being an unlikely event, farming and a new system of farming-friendly property rights nonetheless jointly emerged when they did. This Holocene revolution was not sparked by a superior technology. It occurred because possession of the wealth of farmers—crops, dwellings, and animals—could be unambiguously demarcated and defended. This facilitated the spread of new property rights that were advantageous to the groups adopting them. Our results thus challenge unicausal models of historical dynamics driven by advances in technology, population pressure, or other exogenous changes. Our approach may be applied to other technological and institutional revolutions such as the 18th- and 19th-century industrial revolution and the information revolution today.

very interesting - thanks.

There's also the interesting point that the Holocene climate has been mild and fairly steady,
but the Pleistocene (ending 11,700 years before present) was a time of often rapid and extreme changes from ice age to interglacial. This meant that people had to keep moving to keep up with migrating plants and animals (whose abundance would be limited due to the stress of climate change). When things calmed down, farming could now work.

In the supplemental info, they talk of Pleistocene sea surface temperature variation of 3 to 5 deg. C over a mere 70 years in the Santa Barbara basin (oxygen isotope data in sea cores), the difference today between the current Santa Barbara sea surface temps and those of northern Vancouver Island. Think about the difference between the flora and fauna between those two spots, and imagine what it would be like to deal with climate changes like that in one's (long) lifetime.

The domination of the farmer over the hunter-gatherer was cemented by two strategies:

1) harvested/stored grains convey power to their owner, across seasons to own and control additional agricultural lands, workers, and (with enough surplus) troops/armies to gather more land, and,

2) grains, in particular carbohydrates and digested sugars, are mind-altering and addictive, an additional form of control

This has been carried forward through/past Egyptian to modern green revolution corporate political/social control. Doritos are a tool of oppression. Coke and Pepsi are chains that bind.

ergo, "Obey Your Thirst" ,

.. and the idea that our market economic system can get 'addicted to addiction', if we don't also have social (hence, Political) norms which regulate against manipulating our people with pre-conscious vulnerabilities like these.

From uptop; Solar industry anxious.

Maybe it's just the usual media hype. Maybe there is a limit to how cheap solar panels can be.

The issue of solar panel quality is worrisome, esp. as the business in general is just starting to get momentum, and I am looking at installing my own solar PV at home. The non-disclosure agreements of some manufacturers seem to be having the effect of undercutting the industry as a whole. Solar PV products could benefit from (life) testing and reporting by an independent lab like Consumer Reports, but it doesn’t seem to be mainstream enough for them yet. Home Power magazine could help but probably doesn’t have the resources, and would be compromised because the manufacturers are also their advertisers. And a point made in the article is that with manufacturing processes changing continually it becomes sort of a moving target. Maybe still best to go with the established brand names, be willing to pay more, and hope that you get what you pay for.

An "Aternative Energy Expo" was held in my neck of the woods recently andone of the title sponsors was an outfit that sells PV systems and components as well as providing training on system design and installation. I had a chat with the CEO and when the topic of "thin film" PV came up he seemed pretty convinced that they were a potential fire hazard and prone to catastrophic failures. Coming from someone with a considerable amount of field experience, I'd say there might be some substance to his claims.

This article stinks of anti renewable FUD, creating a mountain out of a mole hill. Name names and let's get this out in the open and move on. It is in nobody's interests to protect businesses that manufacture sub-standard or dangerous products. There's just way too much missing from this story. Are the panels with high failure rates, thin film or crystalline? What percentage of the failures are performance related (open circuits etc.) versus catastrophic failures? Inquiring minds want to know.

Alan from the islands.

Sounds like the CEO was talking about BIP solar - solar shingles. They have had some fairly well publicized bursting-into-flame issues. Building Integrated Photovoltaic shingles are an application of thin film PV. Inefficient, costly, but getting better (except for the combustion thing).

Thin film solar has been considered a hazard in the event of a fire. If your house burns down for whatever reason with thin film solar panels on the roof, it may be considered a toxic waste hazard (unconfirmed) because of the stuff in the thin film solar panels - all those rare earth or heavy or whatever metals they utilize. This would make them a 'fire hazard' of sorts. Something a competitor at a trade show would love to allude to...


Why should there be any lower limit to the price of solar modules? Is there a limit to the availability of silicon, oxygen, aluminum, copper, boron, phosphorus (the last 2 in ppb quantities)? If the energy required to extract and purify the elements and manufacture and install the panels is provided by solar panels, is there a limit? If manufacturing is automated, and those machines are built by machines is there a limit?

Solar is inherently completely different from previous technologies. Some solar cells rely too much on rare elements like indium, cadmium, and tellurium, others don't. You can figure out yourself which companies are on the right track. Invest now, before we reach peak FUD.

I presume that you aren't technically educated. All technologies have limits and pushing those limits usually hit the Law of Diminishing Returns. In the case of PV panels, it's likely to be the cost of glass and aluminum, though some cells have been constructed using plastic. Glass and metals are energy intensive to produce and increasing energy costs will be reflected in the cost of these basic materials. Then too, there's the cost of installation, including the inverters or the batteries if it's an off grid installation. From the article, it would appear that cost cutting might result in lower lifetimes for the individual panels, which would represent higher maintenance costs as newer panels might not interchange with the older arrays. Sorry guy, in engineering and science, there really is no free lunch...

E. Swanson

There is, actually. Sunshine is free. A proportion of the solar electricity produced must be re-invested in manufacturing of replacement equipment. The power output, lifetime, and replacement cost together define the average energy return rate, which in solar is better considered as an organic growth rate. e.g... if all energy profit is re-invested in new panels, how fast will the installed base grow? Current best case is about 90% / year. In a practical situation rent will be subtracted from that. If the investors want a power dividend, or if there is a tax on sunshine then real growth is less.

What the article is saying is that some panels are producing a negative real growth. The purchase price (in dollars and joules) may be low, but power output and lifetime are not sufficient to make a return. The only way to really know which designs are profitable is to build and install them and see. Now operators know more than they did a few years ago.

The solar industry will eventually be about 100 times larger than it is now. Not all the technologies to make required materials solely from solar power exist yet, but they will come. Every system now installed is an experiment that will lead to improved efficiencies later.

Claiming 'all technologies have limits' without analysis sounds like a statement of faith to me. Are you in this field yourself? Are you current on what the leaders have achieved?

What the article is saying is that some panels are producing a negative real growth. The purchase price (in dollars and joules) may be low, but power output and lifetime are not sufficient to make a return.

And yet other works and white papers make a different claim, that PV panels output more than the energy put into them.

half full wrote:

Claiming 'all technologies have limits' without analysis sounds like a statement of faith to me. Are you in this field yourself?

The statement is based on experience and education. I've made it thru 2 engineering degrees. I started studying solar almost 40 years ago, with a course called "radiation heat transfer".

The solar industry will eventually be about 100 times larger than it is now. Not all the technologies to make required materials solely from solar power exist yet, but they will come.

Sounds like several "statements of faith" to me. Faith that technology will solve our problems. But, we know from experience that today's solution is tomorrow's problem. Worse, science and technology don't operate in a social vacuum, there's also the political and economic portions of society which must change as well, changes which aren't happening, IMHO...

E. Swanson

The fact that there is a limit to all technology and also cost of technology is evident in boundary conditions. A PV technology with no lower limitation suggests one boundary condition at free energy. PV technology with no lower cost limit suggests free PV cells.

So if the limit is a deal breaker of not is up for discussion, but there will always be limits.

If you've lived on Earth and paid attention, it should be clear that limits are built into the game. We keep tickling our minds with pleasing infinitives and grand absolutes, but Euclidean Perfection is still merely that.. it is an iconic ideal, and will repeatedly be stained by the more complicated middle-ground of the real world.

PV, as this story very plainly shows, can certainly be built on the cheap, and will then begin to show very real limitations as a result. Just as with Nuclear Power, it COULD be perfect..but people are people, nobody's perfect, and the promised ideals will get shortsheeted by psychology and physics, over and over.

It's not that hard to make good PV.. but you have to use quality, purified components, and it MIGHT not be as cheap as you'd hoped.

"...and will repeatedly be stained by the more complicated middle-ground of the real world." ~ jokuhl

'...and will repeatedly be stained by the more complicated middle-groundcontinuum of the real world'? ;P

If we end up with an automation plus robot dominated society, then the traditional inputs for cost (capital and labor) do change. But, then the cost of many/most manufactured items goes down as well, so if we express the price of a square meter of PV relative to the cost of a square meter of window glass, there will be a limit. And PV panels have a large and diverse supply chain. Not all parts of that supply chain will be uniformly susceptible to cost cutting via automation. We don't know where things will settle out in the long term, and predictions -especially about the future, are difficult.

More relevant near term, is avoiding hitting too many bumps due to the heavy cost cutting pressure. If people get afraid to buy panels, because they fear being stuck with lemons, this could seriously slow the solarization of the economy.

If we end up with an automation plus robot dominated society, then the traditional inputs for cost (capital and labor) do change.

Let me get out my +7 magic wand of annoy Pangeans and make this a world made by robotic hand and wave it while standing on a copy of Das Kapital so the waving of the wand can be seen by the whole crowd.


What will get the robot treatment is low skill low wage jobs in production.

How many low wage service jobs will be needed - and what ones won't be automated out of existence?

The flow of capital will collect in the hands of the owners of the means of production. The historic method of getting that flow back to the low end is hiring the low end of the scale. How will that be done in this robot future?

Is it a bad idea to instead take a Luddite-style position and ban automation?

Maybe it's planned obsolescence. Making something that lasts forever is ultimately self-defeating.

Making something that lasts forever is ultimately self-defeating.

Could you give an example of something that lasts forever?

Dwarf stars, and neutron stars. Also black holes. Human things...., forget it.

Could you give an example of something that lasts forever?

Why ask for what can not be delivered? There is some Hydrogen that may still be in existence from the beginning of time, but even that will stop existing under certain models of physics.

A better metric would be multi-generational, the lifetime of the user, or perhaps an ability to renew and re-harvest?

Of course it can't be delivered, which was obviously my point. Everything made by man fails eventually, and when it comes to modern technological devices they fail a lot sooner than popular myth would have one believe.

Depleted uranium? Anyway, I think it's clear that I meant making things extremely durable resulted in losing opportunities for selling replacements.

/.../ Sunshine is free. /.../

But the equipment to collect and store it isn't.
I'm still waiting to see the first Solar PV panel to be manufactured entirely without fossil fuel inputs of some kind.

And it is indeed a natural law that all things have limits.

Infinite terms are only valid in theoretical discussions.


I'm still waiting to see the first Solar PV panel to be manufactured entirely without fossil fuel inputs of some kind.

I truly just can not comprehend the thought process behind this thinking!

There isn't anything that is currently made in our industrial civilization that doesn't in some way shape or form depend on fossil fuels!

For now I'd be quite happy to see some of the fossil fuel inputs that we currently use to manufacture useless crap by the ton, diverted to more useful things like manufacturing PV panels. Then one day if we are really lucky we might have the foundations of a more sane and sustainable civilization.

Hey, for what it's worth, I'm still waiting to see the manufacturing of gas guzzling SUV being outlawed and gasoline being taxed at $5.00 per gallon. Add to that huge taxes for CO2 emissions. When we see that maybe you will get your wish and see PV panels start being manufactured exclusively with alternative energy sources being used throughout the supply chain. Until then I think it might be a rather long and frustrating wait.

Either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem. It's pretty easy to be sitting back in your lounge chair while sipping a cold drink, all courtesy of fossil fuels and armchair quarterbacking the people who actually have some skin in the game...

Edit: Heh, just happened to be up there at the top of the page, I found it rather appropriate.

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
—Henry Ford


But the equipment to collect and store it isn't. ~ Sponia

Unless we're talking green plants of course. And, over time, they give us fossil fuel... so, oxygen, compost/soil, carbon-dioxide sink, cooling, local climate moderation, food, building and clothing material... all free. But for a limited time only!

PV's are one-trick ponies.

I just transplanted a sapling today, by the way, from the forest to the homestead. Hopefully it survives. I had been at a gardening store earlier, when I recognized the same species that was for sale, not much older and for two or three hundred dollars, and thought that one could be had for free, so that's what I did. I think it's a cedar or yew, but am as yet unsure. It looks like a spruce but its needles are soft.

It's a pretty good trick though. I wish all of my investments worked as well.

Fair enough. How're your investments on the biological side, incidentally? What's your location/zone/growing interest?

Looks like what I just transplanted today is a Tamarak or similar Larch sapling, maybe a year or two old.

Larch is a wood valued for its tough, waterproof, and durable qualities; top quality knot-free timber is in great demand for building yachts and other small boats, for exterior cladding of buildings, and interior panelling. The timber is resistant to rot when in contact with the ground, and is suitable for use as posts and in fencing. The hybrid Dunkeld Larch is widely grown as a timber crop in northern Europe, valued for its fast growth and disease resistance...
In central Europe larch is viewed as one of the best wood materials for the building of residences. ~ Wikipedia

I would like to create a mini wintergreen (medicinal/tea/'free aspirin') plantation and noticed that the plants seem to prefer to grow under conifers like pine and spruce-- maybe larch too, or that it can give the soil something of a quickstart, given that it drops its needles in the fall.

We live on 45+ acres here:

Appalachian temperate rain forests (Eastern USA)
Temperate rain forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, part of the Appalachian Mountains.

Temperate rain forests in the eastern USA are limited to areas in the southern Appalachian Mountains where orographic precipitation causes weather systems coming from the west and from the Gulf of Mexico to drop more precipitation than in surrounding areas. The largest of these forest blocks are located in western North Carolina....

[from Wikipedia "Temperate Rainforests"]

Our issues with things that grow is the opposite of most peoples' on this forum. The average rainfall here is 65", and we've let some of our acreage go fallow after being in pasture for decades; may have to rethink that strategy.

So you are in or near western NC? Why would you want to rethink your strategy? Effects of too much rainfall?

I checked the sapling this morning, BTW, a little wilty-looking, but we'll see.

Edit: It looks very good today. Previously, in a hand-blender, some wintergreen leaves were ground with some water and the resulting tea-mash poured over and around the sapling. I might go back to the tree's orginial location and gather some soil to import as well and maybe do the tea thing with a few spruce & pine needles.

45 acres might work for an ecovillage. If you want to de-fallow some of that land, maybe you could contact some WWOOFers. ;)

Beyond which is the unsurprising fact that the Electricity that PV reliably provides us is a Phenomenally MULTI-Trick Pony. Heating, Cooling, Lifting, Pumping, Sensing and Control, Communications, Shaving, Toasting, Drilling, Sawing, Ironing, Waffling, Compressing, Decompressing, Driving, Jamming, ... etc, etc..

Electricity is magical like that.

In fact, electricity can help terrestrial plants grow beyond LED lighting.

Pangeans are a contentious and hypocritical group of people. They'll even go so far as to state these useless things we call computers while telling you this from a computer, using a computer network, displaying that information on a computer.

More on Computers and their usefulness next.

But where's the context? A cost-benefit analysis. It's as if there's no such thing as environmental degradation, species extinctions or climate change. Those are pretty high prices to pay for those clunky one-trick kludges (that get sold to us one trick at a time-- leaf blowers, bread bakers, blenders, food processors, drills, routers, cars-- and then discarded, out of sight out of mind, as thought to another planet.) and we, as a collective, seem blissfully willing to pay them.

What other species uses electricity? The electric eel? Maybe we can learn something from it.

What other species uses electricity?

Everyone that has muscles.

And ones without - like plants - can have more growth from the application of electricity.

Then maybe that's all we need, such as if we can't manage the other kind... such as if this whole planet is/is becoming one giant shanty town.

Feel free at any time to live your life without electricity as an example to others VS preaching and not following what you preach.

As alluded to in a previous DB, "...maybe we would do well, even if only as an exercise, to strip all the cruft of civilizational thinking and see what we can come up with...".

"...beyond a certain median per capita energy level, the political system and cultural context of any society must decay..." ~ Ivan Illich

The way things are going, we may find ourselves drifting toward an ecovillage in any case, whether we like it or realize it or not.

Oddly enough, aluminium is as cheap as it's ever been. Alcoa is in trouble trying to compete against Chinese production...

Pretty soon solar will be too cheap to meter :p

I am looking for a shift to happen when we finally get a PV plant 100% powered by PV and Wind. The raw materials will still be dug up/transported/refined by fossil fuels. But at least there would be the look of truly renewable energy.

I do wonder what would have happened, if the dream of "To cheap to meter" had been realized. Utopia? We humans are to good a screwing things up, probably more like "Absolute power corrupting, absolutely.

when we finally get a PV plant 100% powered by PV and Wind.

One of the 1st PV panel plants on the east coast was claiming they were 100% solar powered via the discard and out of spec production back in the 1970's according to the literature of the day.

So "its been done".

Obviously there are other energy inputs beyond the borders of the manufacturing plant.

Solarex had the roof of their factory covered with operating PV panels, but I do not know if they produced enough electricity to completely run the factory.

What does that actually mean. Every screw, every piece of plastic and glass, were manufactured with renewable energy? What about the mining and transport of the materials? The only way to get to your 100% renewable input, is to have the entire economy be 100% renewable. Plus, since energy isn't the only cost (of even the dominate one), being totally renewable, and having an EROI of greater than one, doesn't mean we can just exponentially get better.

if the dream of "To cheap to meter" had been realized. Utopia?

We'd be shifting to EVs because the cost to move them would be approaching 0. Pangaeists dreams of "good compost" would be at the local level with things like that electric compost maker and the jetcompost because the energy to move air and adaptation would be approaching $0. We'd look at electrification of coral to grow out the reefs because of the cheap energy. Even more robotic factories.

I'm sure there are big laser death rays in there somewhere under the 'corrupt', but energy for reprocessing waste streams and to reverse entropy become interesting thought experiments.

(Solar energy + a tree reverses the entropy of the burning of charcoal. Electrodes in the Sea reverse the entropy of iron rusting in the ocean as another example of applying external energy. Yet entropy runs all down over time....)

We'd look at electrification of coral to grow out the reefs because of the cheap energy.

That is something that actually works and is being done today.

‘Biorock’ process grows coral reefs with electricity

The Biorock reefs can be constructed in any shape or size, but most built so far have been dome-shaped and about 12 meters in diameter. The amount of electricity each Biorock reef requires is low, drawing less than 3 watts per square meter. So far most reefs have obtained their power from solar panels but other possible sources of power are underwater turbines, wave generators or OTEC platform

More power to them!

That is something that actually works and is being done today.

Yes, its why I've stated it many times on TOD.

There is even a niche application of using electricity+water to "grow" structures to live in on land has been pitched.

Could this be a way to sequester carbon. Limestone is carbonate. Maybe we can let the ocean plus nature do most of the work?

This is probably posted on TOD as well, but using limestone to sequester CO2 takes mountains of Limestone.


You will be waiting a very long time. Growing silicone crystals requires very stable power, and even minute fluctuations can destroy the process.

People were blindly optimistic about nuclear in the past, and I believe people are making the same mistake with solar.

People were blindly optimistic about nuclear in the past,

Electrical energy from fission power works - technically.

The social factors of flawed humans doing flawed things sure do seem to be at the heart of the problem.

Growing silicone crystals requires very stable power, and even minute fluctuations can destroy the process.

Which is why not all panels are made via that process.

I believe people are making the same mistake with solar.

Do expand upon this vague statement. What are these 'same mistakes'?

Blindly throwing all their hope on a new technology, that they don't really understand.

I was reminded of another example of blind optimism today, Space Station Freedom
"Reagan announced plans to build Space Station Freedom in 1984, stating: "We can follow our dreams to distant stars, living and working in space for peaceful economic and scientific gain.""

Optimism bias is a human condition, but that's a good thing. lol

Blindly throwing all their hope on a new technology, that they don't really understand.

Last I was aware, Humans have been capturing the sun for a long time. And PV is not "new" 2 to 3 generations of humans are now on the planet that could have picked up paper catalogs and bought PV.

It is so "not new" that 2 generations of 1st worlders could have bought solar powered calculators to use in math class.

Growing silicone crystals requires very stable power, and even minute fluctuations can destroy the process.

Unless your making breast implants you're probably going to want silicon crystals...

Blind optimism is not something I think you'll find too much of on this particular site.

Comparing any technology that harvests solar energy to nuclear is stretching it a bit.

"Unless your making breast implants you're probably going to want silicon crystals..."

Thank you for beating me to the correction.

I blame my lack of edumacation.

Why should there be any lower limit to the price of solar modules?

“There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey.”

-- John Ruskin (English Writer and Critic of art, architecture, and society, 1819-1900)

The New York Times article does not identify which manufacturers have made defective PV panels. It hides behind the canard of confidentiality agreements preventing disclosure and implies that Chinese and American manufacturers are to blame.

I do not have any confidentiality agreements, and I have 12 PV panels that are showing no manufacturing defects except the MSX-120 outputs less than its rated power (the power output is stable though).

1 Arco M-75 since 1990 (US)
8 Solarex SXP-44's since 1991 (US)
1 BP/Solarex MSX-120 since 2001 (UK and US)
1 Kyocera KD-135 since 2009 (Japan)
1 Kyocera KD-135 since 2012 (Japan)

Until the media identifies the perps, I will have to assume this is more anit-renewable energy propaganda.

I think its a real effect. Although the anti-renewable types will try to blow it way out of proportion. Siting the quality of old panels (that sold for several dollars per watt), doesn't say much about the quality of present sub dollar per watt panels. The pricing pressure is so many times greater today, that the concern about shortcuts being taken is real.

Unlike Ghung, I do not by the cheap Chinese PV panels because I am concerned about their durability. Arco and Solarex are defunct. Kyocera PV panels are expensive, $1 / watt to more than $2 / watt. That article neither identifies who is making defective PV panels nor whether they are cheap or expensive. People are assuming cheap Chinese PV panels are the culprit.

Over half of our panels are Siemens and Kyocera. The Suntechs we bought recently appear to be virtually identical, constructionwise, though we got them for less than a 5th of the price we paid per watt for our Kyoceras. If they last half as long.... I'll let you do the math.

Yes, your Suntechs are about 3.6 times less expensive than the Kyocera I bought last year. However, you purchased one of those expensive MPPT regulators whereas my only accessory was an MC-4 extender cable. A $12 timer and my refrigerator/freezer are the shunt regulator for the MSX-120 and the two Kyoceras. I am not sure which of our approaches is the better deal.

On another forum someone asked the question; how much PV could we use if it was free? Assume that energy storage technology is stuck where it is now. We would still need alternative electricity supply at night and in overcast conditions.

Suppose there was enough PV to run an entire country in the middle of a sunny day. As the sun set or cloud cover emerged some electricity users with inflexible demand will need some other form of generation to cut in. For example aluminium smelters don't want molten aluminium to freeze solid and cause an expensive re-start. Maybe it will work out cheaper to run some types of backup generation 24/7. Other types of thermal generation will need lead times of a few hours to get to operating temperature.

Forget PV costs. The next problem is cheap, compact and safe batteries. For example a suitcase sized battery holding 10 kwh that can last 10 years of full daily discharge, is cool to the touch and costs maybe $500 max.

"Forget PV costs. The next problem is cheap, compact and safe batteries."

Cheap and safe, yes...compact? Meh. Not for house-power. As long as it isn't as big as the house itself cheap and safe will do - no reasonable size or weight will be a problem.

We've got a long way to go before we hit the point of even zeroing out the daytime fossil fuel use, so the "storage" issue really can be pushed off a few years into the future. It needs to be worked on, but doesn't need to be worried about for now. A weird distinction but one I'll hang my hat on for now.

The interesting part is what will wind up happening as we breach that threshold. Usually the daytime is the highest time of electricity use (a nice synergy with solar) and then there are the "off peak" times at night. If a person is on TOU pricing they will usually get charged a substantial amount more during the day for the power they use. In the solar powered world...this should be the cheapest time. A complete reversal of FF pricing schemes.

So in this reversed world where night time power is the most costly...I can see a niche for solar thermal power stations with molten-salt storage providing that high-cost night power. Essentially they'd have a large thermal reserve that they would heat during the day explicitly for use at night. This won't work for everyone, but it's likely to be the next stage after daytime saturation for those areas able to use it. I'm also keeping my eye out for more articles about electrochemical flow capacitors - they'd fail your compactness requirement, but could excel in the other areas.

Cheap and safe, yes...compact? Meh. Not for house-power.

And yet, here on TOD there are regular posters who are running their homes off of batteries and PV.

Not so regular these days.

$500? Gosh, people don't think twice about spending that on a refrigerator that may last ten years. A car? A vacation?

The size of a suitcase? Not. But I could pack over 50 of our battery sets in my wife's closet, though weight would be an issue :-0

Safe? I feel much safer living with a 52 KwH battery in the house than I did commuting every day in Atlanta.

Current battery technology is fine. It's peoples' expectations that are warped.

Off again...

And don't forget that wind would part of the mix at night. There was a paper put on a few (several?) years ago at Berkely which posited a series of wind farms covering the entire United States so that there would always be a reasonable amount of electricity generated somewhere. Combine this with a smart grid covering the entire country and include solar and this would cover the vast majority of our needs. Frankly, I never saw a refutation of this paper but somehow it seems to have disappeared into the trashbin of history like dozens of other worthy analytic efforts.

It would not take much backup to provide for night time needs for the vast majority of people. I would be more concerned about heat at night than I would about electrical needs. Most houses, however, requires electricity to run most heating systems at night.

I suppose this has been brought up as well, and I don't know why I never thought of it, but it seems to me that if we had a truly significant amount of PV (and wind and other Solar etc..) working through the daytime peak hours, it could become possible/necessary to simply dial down daytime hydro production, which would in effect allow those hydro resources to be naturally 'recharging' as a result, whereby that surplus is available for unsunny hours. The solar doesn't necessarily have to be pumping that hydro into the reservoirs, in many cases.. just stop spending it as fast.

Hydro (most places -there are exceptions, like say Norway) is under 10% of total power. So it wouldn't be enough to cover downtimes, by itself. Generally you need a combination of several solutions....

And don't forget that wind would part of the mix at night. There was a paper put on a few (several?) years ago at Berkely which posited a series of wind farms covering the entire United States so that there would always be a reasonable amount of electricity generated somewhere.

Moreover, a little bit of over-capacity in wind/solar generation can lead to a large amount of stable power potential.

Looking at real-world, hour-by-hour electricity demand for an entire year, and real-world, hour-by-hour wind generation and solar insolation figures, you can solve for how much overcapacity you'll need given a specific amount of storage and reliability requirement.

Based on the modeling I've done and talked about on theoildrum.com (e.g., 5 years ago), 50% overcapacity and a day of pumped storage gives about the same reliability of generation as a coal plant (max of 12 interruptions per year for less than 240 hours total).

Putting current prices into the simulator indicates that 25% overcapacity with 3.7 days of storage gives year-round load-following generation with zero interruptions in supply over the course of the year's worth of hourly data, at a generation cost of 10c/kWh (assuming a 5% yearly rate of return on the initial investment over a 30-year time horizon).

(Interestingly, price changes over the last five years have shifted the optimal system from 20% solar to 60% solar.)

Forget PV costs. The next problem is cheap, compact and safe batteries. For example a suitcase sized battery holding 10 kwh that can last 10 years of full daily discharge, is cool to the touch and costs maybe $500 max.

As long as you take VISA, Master Card or American Express I'll take a half dozen of those, please! >;-)

And you can put me down for 10 of them too

Fairfax will also take some - this one is probably due for an upgrade ..
World's biggest battery switched on in Alaska >> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/3312118/Worlds-biggest-battery-swi...

I was scratching my head when I came to this:

Each cell measures 16in by 21in and weighs more than 12 stone.

Sure enough "stone" is a valid mass measurement. 1 stone = 14 pounds.

Wow, some people really like living on the edge, don't they?!

Stored in a warehouse near the city, where temperatures plunge to -51 degrees Centigrade in winter, the battery will provide 40 megawatts of power - enough for around 12,000 people - for up to seven minutes.

This is enough time, according to ABB, to start up diesel generators to restore power, an important safeguard since at such low temperatures, water pipes can freeze entirely in two hours.

I wonder if they've figured 'Peak Oil' and consequently peak diesel into their long term plans for survival... I'm going to bet that they haven't.

Row, row, row, your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!
Just don't lose your paddle when you hit sh!t stream.

FMagyar - you found the jewel hidden in the text... A football-field-sized "stadium" choked full with batteries many stories high ... enough to run New York for "2 seconds ... or so"

Batteries are obviously "not the future" even if it increases 2 or 3 orders of magnitude per weight/size... at least not for running cities when the wind is down or the sun is away ...

Boof, there are less expensive options that can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the need for batteries.

1. Do not build PV only. A combination of PV and wind power smooths the variations better then either alone. Add in hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal, run-of-river and solar thermal with storage.

2. PV power output does not decrease to zero when a cloud passes by.

3. You must overbuild both PV and wind power in a full scale build out. When it is especially sunny across the country, there will be more electricity generated from PV than is needed. On a cloudy day, the PV power will not decrease so far below the demand allowing the other ones to make up the difference.

4. Because hydroelectric and pumped hydroelectric are cheaper than batteries, use them for storage first. Use pumped hydro among the Great Lakes and build artificial islands at see.

5. Because biomass is a cheaper form of storage than batteries, use that for storage next.

6. Interconnect power lines over long distance to smooth out variations. Electrify long distance freight rail lines and construct high voltage DC transmission lines over the rail easements. You could move gigawatts around the country with such a system.

7. Because there are many possibilities for demand-side management that are less expensive than batteries, apply them to shift power demand from nighttime to daytime, from cloudy days to sunny days and from calm days to windy days. Some examples:

A. water pumping (as from a well to a tank) when the power is available
B. improve efficiency to reduce the scale of the conversion, such as install LED lighting in buildings and street lights which would reduce the demand for electricity at night.
C. Design refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners to run only during the day.
D. Smart meters that can set prices for electricity based on availability to use a price incentive to encourage people to use less electricity when it is scarce. That could work for electric hot water tanks, dishwashers, clothes washers, charging electric vehicles.... Use your imagination.
E. When there is surplus PV or wind power, manufacture some things that can tolerate variable production, such as ammonia, hydrogen or natural gas for peaking generators.
F. Excess power can be stored in the ground as heat (thermal mass) in a ground source heat pump system.

8. Use flywheels to smooth fluctuations measured in minutes.

If all of those things are not sufficient, then you need some expensive batteries but not nearly the number you are imagining.

"We would still need alternative electricity supply at night and in overcast conditions."

You still have hydro, and you have wind. And for at least a couple decades yet you have natural gas generating plants that can spin up quickly.

Here (Eastern Washington State) the problem is winter. Heavy overcast, short days (8.5 hours of daylight), and usually no wind to disperse the freezing fog or spin a turbine. And heavy heating demands. And this can go one for weeks at a time. That is when you need a large back up. We'd have to subsist on the local hydro capacity, the gas turbines and the local (and only) nuke.

In Navy terms, it could turn out to be a long "rig for reduced electrical load" event. It would not be impossible to manage though.

Forget PV costs. The next problem is cheap, compact and safe batteries.

Not really.. just add some H2 pipelines that parallel existing major NG pipelines. Run H2(made by surplus PV, wind) into modern combined cycle power plants which can efficiently(60-65%) burn any mixture of H2 and CH4. Storage can be depleted NG reservoirs as big as you want.. Long term storage problem solved.

P.S. This is why utilities are building CCPP's by the boat load, they have a long term future in a renewable matrix.

Not really.. just add some H2 pipelines that parallel existing major NG pipelines. Run H2(made by surplus PV, wind) into modern combined cycle power plants which can efficiently(60-65%) burn any mixture of H2 and CH4. Storage can be depleted NG reservoirs as big as you want.

Ever worked with H2? On what basis are you making the H2 pipeline claim?

On what basis is it SAFE to pump H2 into a 'depleted' NG reservoir?

Use and export of US wood biomass as energy fuel has been a subject of interest here from time to time. See the link for two maps depicting biomass burning in and export from the southeastern US (actual and proposed).
The link announces a campaign opposing use of forests for fuel, but it does not present data from which sustainability can be evaluated.

Fossil fuels are pretty much the only reason we still have trees. The trends were pretty clear, and shifting away from FF's will likely see said trends resume.

That's a pretty grim thought...

Yeah, but he's got a point, as that happened in Haiti and now Greece.

I was not disputing it. I think it's a grim thought BECAUSE he has a point...

Yup, and cutting those trees to export to other places as a fuel source is insane.

Worldwide Easter Island?

But hey, it happens. From your comment I assume you are referring to scenarios discussed in the Jared Diamond book, Collapse. Sometimes I get the feeling that we are living in the last, as of yet unwritten, chapter of that book.

The Dying Dollar and the Rise of a New Currency Order

In the last decade the problem of over printing was solved by artificially raising oil prices through the Peak Oil hoax, and ending Iraqi oil production. It must be understood that the Empire is not looking for more oil production. There is so much oil in the world that should it be drilled for freely, it would end the Money Power’s energy monopoly. The Iraq invasion and the quest for control of the Middle-East is to keep a lid on oil production. Saddam’s suicidal decision to accept euro for his oil only hastened his demise.

Absolutely hilaripus....

Rockman is gone we all know, but where is Darwinian and westexas?

Westexas seems to show up when he has an on-point response or wants to clear up something that sounds true/is a common misconception with the facts as he knows 'em. If ya really care, you could always just email him as the profile has an email address.

If Darwinian isn't indisposed/dead I'd guess once the House of Saud has a leadership change he'll show up as the rumors/misconceptions he'll feel will need some correction. If ya really care, you could always just email him as the profile has an email address.

Thanks for the profile links with email addresses. I will make contact and report back if I find anything interesting.

Didn't realize that Rockman disappeared. If there was a guy that was a pro at conversational writing, he was it.

I recall him recounting the story of his buddy perishing in that mysterious South America trans-Atlantic flight. Poof, and that's it.

Haven't seen RockyMtnGuy around recently either. Hope it wasn't something I said...

RMG likes to go on long sailing voyages. Retirement must be nice... :-)

Link up top:

Eagle Ford Oil Output Rises 77% to More Than 500,000 Barrels/Day

The nine geographic fields that make up the majority of Eagle Ford yielded 529,874 barrels of crude a day...


Output of condensates, or natural gas liquids, was 89,345 barrels a day in March, down from 123,871 a year earlier, as drillers moved away from less profitable gas.

I have read comments here on TOD regarding the liquids being produced out of the Eagle Ford and IIRC those comments stated that most of the liquids being produced was condensate and not light sweet crude oil. Is that actually the case here and the author of this article is merely counting condensate coming from gas wells as total condensate being produced at Eagle Ford? Is most of the liquid being produced from oil wells there actually condensate too?

Scientists Develop CO2 Sequestration Technique

May 28, 2013 — Lawrence Livermore scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.

The team demonstrated, at a laboratory scale, a system that uses the acidity normally produced in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution while producing hydrogen fuel and other gases. The resulting electrolyte solution was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration that in turn proved strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric CO2.

Further, the researchers suggest that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced in the process could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification


The key thing to note about this process is that it's electrolysis, ie, it requires electricity to drive it. The authors state that this would be from renewable resources. Otherwise (perhaps obviously) it makes no sense at all.

Unstated is the fact that this is carbon-negative storage (or change in form) of energy. The best case, is that this becomes a viable method to either store energy (in a chemical form), or at least a way to produce specialty fuels and chemicals. I can't imagine doing it on a huge scale. But any industrial process which produces something people want, and which is carbon negative will certainly help mitigate climate change. If we can get to say a billion tons of CO2 removal per year, by carbon negative manufacturing processes, then we can emit a billion tons per year and have a stable climate. Thats about 3% of present emissions.

I just rec'd an email re: Drupal (TOD) passwords and user info may be compromised.
05-29-2013 2033 GMT. 1:33 PM US Pacific time.

I've not seen that - perhaps it is a forged email? I know management knows my email address because of the 2 or 3 emails I've gotten over the years. If there was a problem, there is no shame in putting up a banner saying the same as claimed in email.

I have not heard anything about this. Who is it from, and what, exactly, does the message say?

You can e-mail me if you don't wish to post it publically.

Could be spam but my email provider allows me to see the sender domain name and mail address without opening the mail.
It looks legit as most phishing mails are pretty obvious but as Bush 42 said: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."
I dunno.


This message is on the Drupal site:

That's from Drupal.org, not TOD.

From ZDNET: "Drupal issues password reset after servers compromised"

In an announcement posted on its site, the company noted that its attacker gained access via third-party software, and not due to any vulnerability in Drupal's software itself. The third-party software has not been disclosed. Only accounts on drupal.org and groups.drupal.org have been potentially compromised. Customers running their own instances of Drupal should not be affected.

Drupal's notice is titled "Important Security Update: Reset Your Drupal.org Password"

Never use the same password for two different logins.

Perhaps you have a drupal.org account?

"Content management system software developer Drupal is recommending that its customers reset their Drupal.org passwords after it was discovered that account information on its servers had been compromised.

In an announcement posted on its site, the company noted that its attacker gained access via third-party software, and not due to any vulnerability in Drupal's software itself. The third-party software has not been disclosed. Only accounts on drupal.org and groups.drupal.org have been potentially compromised. Customers running their own instances of Drupal should not be affected."

From the Unintended Consequences department ...

Gut Punch: Monsanto Could be Destroying Your Microbiome

First the bad news: The “safest” herbicide in the history of science may be harming us in ways we’re just beginning to understand. And now for the really bad news: Because too much is never enough, the Environmental Protection Agency just raised the allowable limits for how much of that chemical can remain on the food we eat, and the crops we feed to animals — many of which end up on our plates as well.

... Even if we aren’t absorbing all the Roundup that’s on the food we eat, we are certainly exposing the residents of our digestive tract to it. And here’s the funny thing. While we don’t have the metabolic process that Roundup disrupts, many microbes do.

So, in short, we may be dousing our interior landscapes with a potent and effective intestinal flora herbicide. Oopsie. :-(

Researchers are only now beginning to explore this idea. There is new research out of Germany that establishes that glyphosate kills many species of beneficial animal gut bacteria while not affecting more harmful gut bacteria, like E. coli and the bacteria that causes botulism, which is apparently at epidemic levels in cattle.

And, as Pollan explains, our gut bacteria play a core role in maintaining our health, although in ways that are not at all understood. The research is in its earliest days, but it’s possible that an unhealthy microbiome could contribute to obesity and other diseases, especially those caused by inflammation.

and Artificial Sweeteners May Do More Than Sweeten

It has been thought that artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, don't have an effect on metabolism. They are used in such small quantities that they don't increase calorie intake. Rather, the sweeteners react with receptors on the tongue to give people the sensation of tasting something sweet without the calories associated with natural sweeteners, such as table sugar.

But recent findings in animal studies suggest that some sweeteners may be doing more than just making foods and drinks taste sweeter. One finding indicates that the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas can detect sweet foods and drinks with receptors that are virtually identical to those in the mouth. That causes an increased release of hormones, such as insulin. Some animal studies also have found that when receptors in the gut are activated by artificial sweeteners, the absorption of glucose also increases.

After they kill off all of the bees, they'll introduce the Roundup Resistant BtToxin Bee and charge a daily fee for their keeping. Then they'll genetically modify some gut bacteria that you'll have to pay a use fee for...think you can stop paying? Give them a feces sample and they'll check to make sure you're not illegally breeding their Roundup Resistant Gut Flora in your bowels and not paying the fee! That poo is patent violatin' son...you better pay up.

... Then they'll genetically modify some gut bacteria that you'll have to pay a use fee for

Sounds like the Lysine Contingency from Jurassic Park. It was a genetic alteration Henry Wu performed in the dinosaur genome. The modification knocked out the ability of the dinosaurs to produce the amino acid Lysine. This forced the dinosaurs to depend on lysine supplements provided by the park's veterinary staff. In this way dinosaurs could never escape from the park because they would never survive long without the food supplements.

change that to ...

In this way dinosaurs people could never escape from the park because they would never survive long without the food supplements.

produce the amino acid Lysine. In this way dinosaurs people could never escape from the park because they would never survive long without the food supplements.

Just a reminder of the global Lysine price-fixing conspiracy as some TODers may be too young to remember.

Humans will never escape the park - if only we could learn to take a little care of it while we're here.

You all should read The Windup Girl, a good sci-fi book. From Wikipedia...

Biotechnology is dominant and mega corporations like AgriGen, PurCal and RedStar (called calorie companies) control food production through 'genehacked' seeds, and use bioterrorism, private armies and economic hitmen to create markets for their products. Frequent catastrophes, such as deadly and widespread plagues and illness, caused by genetically modified crops and mutant pests, ravage entire populations. The natural genetic seed stock of the world's plants has been almost completely supplanted by those that are genetically engineered to be sterile.

The exercise world has known for two decades that cutting diet soda improves fat loss. If someone wants to lose weight, the first rule is "drink only water and green or black tea".

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Financial Stability Oversight Council: A Framework to Mitigate Systemic Risk

The Office of Financial Research (OFR), contributes to the annual report issued by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). In the 2013 annual report, the OFR noted a number of positive trends, including increased capital levels and liquidity among financial intermediaries.

However, the 2013 report includes several areas of continuing concern. For example, several sources of wholesale funding (such as money market mutual funds and repurchase agreements) remain vulnerable to the risk of runs or fire sales. The housing finance system still relies on government support, although financial trends for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) have improved. A number of operational issues, such as information technology and resilience against cyber-attacks, are ongoing concerns. Interest rates create additional concerns, including the reliability of benchmarks such as LIBOR, and the exposure of financial intermediaries to significant losses should market interest rates rise (sometimes referred to as yield spikes). Longterm budget issues, so-called fiscal imbalances, remain a concern although revenues have recently been rising as general economic conditions improve in the United States. Finally, the 2013 annual report discusses several factors in other countries that could negatively affect financial stability in the United States if conditions overseas deteriorate, including the resolution of European financial turmoil and Japanese macroeconomic policies

‘Weather whiplash’ is a symptom of climate change: report

A report from the environmental research organisation World Watch Institute on Wednesday provided further evidence of the costs of those extreme shifts – known as “weather whiplash”.

The report found that the United States alone accounted for more than two-thirds of the $170bn in losses caused by natural disasters around the world last year.

Philadelphia has always had crazy weather, but the swings we're seeing are nuts. Tuesday's low was 45 degrees (8 C), Wednesday's high was 89 (31 C). I've never seen a 44-degree swing in 36 hours before.

But then this isn't the planet we grew up on.

AccuWeather tells me that today's high in Philadelphia has already hit 93 F (34 C) and tomorrow is forecast to hit 94 F. Welcome to Summer in the New Amerika...

E. Swanson

Must be because of some esoteric theory unspeakable by your current Governor.

Forecast: Midwest power will be on when summer heat waves hit

A national electricity reliability organization is forecasting electricity supply challenges in Texas and southern California this summer but says the Midwest region should continue to have more than enough power to meet its needs.

Expanded electricity supplies thanks to construction of new power plants coupled with the loss of large energy-intensive manufacturers during the Great Recession have combined to give the region ample supply. [... Good philosophy! See good in bad. I like.]

... The Anticipated Reserve Margin for Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is 12.88 percent for summer 2013. This is below the 13.75 percent target for ERCOT. Sustained extreme weather could be a threat to supply adequacy this summer. ERCOT may need to declare Energy Emergency Alerts (EEA) if there are higher‐than‐normal forced generation outages or if record‐breaking weather conditions similar to the summer of 2011 lead to higher‐than‐expected peak demands. Insufficient reserves during peak hours could lead to increased risk of entering emergency operating conditions, including the possibility of curtailment of interruptible load and even rotating outages of firm load.

Here in South Africa Eskom has a reserve target of 18%. We are currently down to the 2-3% range I believe, due to the slow build-out of new capacity. It's now winter when we hit peak demand. There are constant appeals on the radio and TV to save electricity 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

We're holding thumbs. Everyone remembers the rolling blackouts of a few years ago. In theory you can prepare for them and they're not so bad. In practice they are horrible, and for some businesses, catastrophic.

Is the weather in the particular US states responsible for the tight oil boom particularly bad? The increase in total US oil production since the start of the year under the influence of the 'fracking bonanza' does not seem to be quite what it was last year:


No doubt a temporary blip on the march to energy independence :).

A warmer, and warming atmosphere, holds more moisture. When it rains it will pour...

Toronto's Don Valley Parkway reopens after severe flooding

Cleanup interferes with morning commute after torrential downpour
CBC News, Posted: May 29, 2013 6:06 AM ET, Last Updated: May 29, 2013 7:37 PM ET

Torrential rains wiped out the possibility of a normal morning commute for many Toronto drivers as the Don Valley Parkway was left impassable by water and mud.

The DVP is a major expressway that connects the Gardiner Expressway into the downtown area with Highway 401.

By 8 a.m., water covering the expressway had started to recede, but the road surface was coated in mud and debris in places. The southbound DVP reopened by mid-morning and the other side of the expressway later in the morning.

Toronto police Staff Sgt. Bob Bowman told CBC News that police began closing the DVP one lane at a time early Wednesday until the water began covering the entire expressway.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen it in my 30 years that we actually had water cresting almost up to the jersey barrier of the Don Valley Parkway," said Bowman. "So we had to put in a closure until that water dissipates.”

... and when it doesn't rain it will be hot and dry!

Drought Conditions Forecast to Return to the Central U.S.

Harris-Mann Climatology, a long-range weather, commodity and stock forecasting service, predicts the return of drought conditions in the central U.S. within the next four to eight weeks.

(PRWEB) May 22, 2013

The drought pattern of 2012 in the central U.S. was compared to the devastating droughts of the 1930s ‘Dust Bowl’ era and was also as severe as dry periods of the 1950s. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe to extreme drought conditions still persist from South Dakota southward into eastern Colorado and down into northern Texas. The southwestern U.S. has also been experiencing drought conditions with not much rain in sight.

Long-term climatologist and forecaster Cliff Harris says, “The drought in the Southwest is expected to move and expand eastward over the central and southern Great Plains, as well as at least the western Midwest, by late June or July. Flooded areas near the Missouri River are likely to turn to the opposite extreme of dryness later this summer season."

Harris-Mann Climatology predicts this current drought pattern may be the costliest U.S. natural disaster of 2012 and 2013 as damage estimates could be near $200 billion, even more costly than Hurricane Sandy.

James Kunstler and many pundits have asked what has happened to people's awakening to
the ongoing collapse in favor of the 1%. It appears that after a respite, work on Occupy Sandy and other disparate smaller scale initiatives that Occupy Wall Street is re-emerging in conjunction with European wide rallies:


On June First, Occupy Wall Street is coming home. We need to reconnect with each other, and to the great work that lies still before us. The struggle has continued on, and we have continued to struggle – but social distance has drawn us apart from the shared community we once so intimately embraced, and we want to re-engage with each other so that we can draw on each others’ strength and share support in our challenge against the powers that be and the corrupt system of the world they rely upon to hold them in place. We refuse to support them any longer, we refuse to support that which cannot sustain life for the many in order to raise up the few, and we invite each and every person who wishes to join us to pick up a sign and join us in person at Liberty Plaza to reclaim our common home and fill it once again with growing resistance

From Europe:


Calling on "all citizens, with or without party, with or without a job, with or without hope," a coalition of groups across Europe are planning a June 1 international demonstration, People United Against The Troika!, to protest austerity measures imposed by the all-powerful troika - International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and European Commission - that have led to bank bailouts on one side and, on the other, unemployment, foreclosures, social inequity and cuts in public services such as health care and education in country after country, all in the name of a debt crisis that, in organizers' words, "once again privatizes profits and socializes losses, while demanding bloody cutbacks in return."

Tnings are about to get interesting...

Vi PR newswire (a source you can trust no?)

ZENN also reported that the testing laboratory has commenced preparation for testing of EESU layers produced by EEStor, Inc. Initial work by the laboratory involves calibration and verification of testing equipment. EEStor has reported that in producing layers for the testing, it encountered, at high voltages, an anomaly that may be related to ambient humidity. ZENN has been advised by its consultant that this is not an uncommon occurrence with high performance layers. EEStor has advised that it believes it is addressing the issue by using established procedures. Accordingly, it will conduct the tests in stages. Initial tests will focus on resistance and capacitance of its new polymer as well as the permittivity over voltage characteristics of the proprietary CMBT produced by EEStor. Reports from the initial phase of the testing are expected in the next week with further reports to follow as more detailed testing is undertaken and as the hydrology issue is addressed.

And from the past:

ZENN claims they will launch EEStor-powered EV in fall 2009 At ZENN annual shareholder meeting in Toronto yesterday, company officials made a big announcement about their plans to move beyond mere neighborhood electric vehicles. They plan to launch a model called the cityZENN which will be a fully certified electric car with 80 mph top speed and 250-mile range.

"EEStor" has become a favorite one-word insiders' punchline on the gm-volt forum and other online EV forums. Kind of like "Yergins" here on TOD. Just hearing it makes you chuckle.

The part of the saga I do not grok is if they have a 'better than average' solid state cap, that has a market. If they have a solid state cap that is as good as modern lead acid and can make/sell it for less than the same rated storage capacity, they have a market.

At least with the EEStor saga there should be an end to the small amount of EV hope if they can't demonstrate working material with this latest round of testing. Perhaps seeing that they can't get to the EV specs they wanted they'll settle for storage battery markets if they can make that bar.

With apologies to George Lucas:
EESTor..now thats a name I haven't heard in a long while.

Reduce fuel prices for all Jamaicans - Mair

GREGORY MAIR, the opposition spokesman on energy, is pushing for a level playing field in the pricing of heavy fuel oil sold by Petrojam to the bauxite industry as against the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), and, by extension, the Jamaican consumer.

In his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, Mair contended that players in the bauxite industry purchased heavy fuel oil from Petrojam for 15 per cent less than the state-owned oil refinery sells to the light and power company.

"Why don't we level the playing field, have a real competitive environment in the fuel sector and give JPS, and, by extension, the consumers of electricity, the same status as the alumina/bauxite producers," Mair asserted.

Thwaites must stand firm on condoms in schools

I wish to lend my voice to support the minister of education, The Reverend Ronald Thwaites, on his position regarding the distribution of condoms in schools. We already have an abundance of mixed messages for children in the society at large.

There is an oversupply of sexual stimulation all around! On his way to the bus stop, little Johnny sees paintings on the nightclub which leave nothing to the imagination. When he gets on the bus, lyrical content over the speaker system surround him with clear messages regarding the necessity to prove sexual prowess. On his return home, the ritual is repeated in the afternoon. This time he is surrounded by adults who seem to be dressed for the beach or simply wearing the latest dare.

The "condoms in schools" (population control) debate , rages on.

Alan from the islands

No Energy. No Water ...

Intense Heat Wave In India Brings Sunstroke Deaths, Electric Grid Meltdown, And Spoiled Fruit

Heat wave conditions have claimed the lives of over 500 people in India since April. India’s Department of Disaster Management reported that 524 people have died of sunstroke since April 1. The Indian Meteorological Department said tomorrow’s forecast called for clear skies and continued heat, warning that “the heatwave will continue.”

The Times of India reported that the state of Hyderabad’s 500 sunstroke deaths in just three days is the highest such death toll in recent history.

New Delhi saw 43 degrees C (or over 109 degrees Fahrenheit) today, western states such as Gujarat saw highs between 116-118 degrees Fahrenheit, and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh hit 45 C (113 F). This state is one of the nation’s poorest, with 190 million people. Its energy infrastructure is inadequate to the demand of so many residents trying to cool themselves. Since pumps are often required to provide water, this also means that a power outage comes with a water outage. Angry residents attacked power company officials and even set fire to a power station. For the rest of the population, power outages combined with humidity caused most people to stay indoors.

Fuel Shortage Halts Water Pumps in Tawila, North Darfur

Tawila camps' residents told Radio Dabanga on Friday that the diesel shortage has caused the water stations in the region to grind to a complete halt. The price of a barrel of water has risen to SDG 8 ($1.80). This has a further negative effect on livestock and vegetable farms that are now threatened by drought unless diesel reaches the camp from El Fasher, the state capital.

Diesel shortage interrupts mobile towers in Naxal areas: MHA

NEW DELHI: If attacks on mobile networks by Naxals are not enough, security forces are grappling with a diesel shortage to power mobile towers which has left the telecom network non-functional for long periods.

That's sounding like it's time for a lot more solar PV in India/North Africa. Other recent reports suggest that the Middle East could use (is using) some as well.

Alan from the islands

I was thinking about collapse yesterday....

As Tainter describes it, collapse is basically a way to sidestep all the complexity when things get... just too complex. Or "when the marginal cost of doing something becomes greater than the marginal benefit", something like that.

All the layers of complexity in running a society become too burdensome and the whole think just falls down. As defined, or explained, it's a rational choice because maintaining the complexity comes at a greater cost than the benefit of remaining bought in. To the average person then, it's a rational choice to withdraw from the A .. B .. C .... --> Z structure of things and just go directly from A to Z.

But in today's world all the steps from B to Y, 24/26ths of all the effort and complexity, are what support (to whatever extent, some very little) 90% of the populace. As Darwinian points out, if we simplify, society collapses. Stop shopping --> depression (both ways!).

Thus if we do what it takes to become sustainable, all the stuff we talk about here, from food production to energy use and on and on, simplify, society collapses. And with 7 billion mouths to feed, collapse means mass death. So we are locked in to perpetuating the system. To simplify is to condemn 6 billion +/- people to death.

Do you like those odds - do you feel lucky (punk)? Clint Eastwood reference.

However, we will collapse eventually, it's not like there's a choice not to.

Are we stuck in a paradox or what?

....it's a rational choice....

Except collapse is not a choice people make, rational or otherwise. It is a thing that happens in spite of the best efforts of most to maintain the complexity - it is simple failure. And yes, that complexity is born of exploiting resources beyond what is sustainable, and drives a population in excess of what is sustainable too. So people must die.

However, all people die. So the critical questions are about whether more people will die sooner than what might have been their expected lifetimes, and perhaps more important, what is their quality of life up until that point?

For your summer reading homework, read A Canticle for Leibowitz

A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer Walter M. Miller, Jr., first published in 1960. Set in a Catholic monastery in the desert of the southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the fictional Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it.

Even if 99% of us "buy the farm" that still leaves 70-75 million - more than enough to rebuild civilization over the next 1-2000 years. It's not about odds. Let's face it - we are all mortal.

(the below link is able to be produced and produced quickly due to actually knowing where something exists on the Net and knowing what to ask for.)

http://archive.org/details/ACanticleForLiebowitz AudioBook. So you can up your personal complexity and listen to it.

Thanks for the links - they'll give my eyes a break

I bought my replacement copy on a 2ndhand booktable in a metro underground station in Sophia, Bulgaria more than 10 years ago. Serendipity works wonders.

However, two problems with the Miller thesis. First - all the minerals and fuel we used will not be available in our case. Second - the value system that should have been a 'saviour' both the first and the second time round the same catastrophic industrial circuit had to take to Space to stay alive. And we know that is impossible.

Here's a question though.

Do we know if mankind has ever even gotten close to the brink of collapse?

I can think of regional collapse, like the plague or even WWI and WWII.

In written history, we have a few examples of collapse of empire, some involving massive loss of life, others not so much...

If you think about it on a planetary scale, when has it ever happened?

I think there are a few times in early man's history where the number of breeding pairs is thought to have gotten shockingly small, but other than that, I can't think of anything since agriculture came around. (I orginally spelled it agroculture, but most won't get the joke. Plus I'm a poor speller, so intential spelling errors don't work for me)

I'm not saying is not possible or even probable. I guess I'm saying there's no way to imagine what it would look like if it were global because it's never been witnessed and recorded, except in myths.

A global collapse could not have happened at any previous time, because there was no global civilization. The local civilizations were not interconnected or dependent on each other, so every collapse affected only them and their neighbours and trading partners. Only a powerful external event like an asteroid strike or a supervolcano explosion (like the Toba explosion ~70,000 BP) could do it. And then there are the population numbers... when you have only a million or so people scattered all around the world, it's very hard to imagine a truly global event. Not so with 9 billion crammed into a relatively small number of dense places.

And for most of history people had no idea what "global" actually means. The considered their immediate surroundings to be "the world", that's why most local historical events that were passed on in oral or written history in the form of myths, describe those events as "end of the world".

Thanks for that reminder (Joe?) Strummer.

Tainter used the typical Roman citizen in his collapse example. Rather than go through all the effort of supporting the empire (paying taxes, servicing the troops?), it was easier and a rational choice for said citizen to just skip all the bother, welcome the barbarians, and let things fail.

Collapse is a choice made by individuals. Choosing not to add to the complexity, as returns diminish, collapses the edifice.

And, here's a key point - things are better for the decision-maker after the collapse - the whole marginal return not being as good as the marginal effort. The individual collapses the system That's why collapse happens, because it is the rational choice and things improve after, or at least fail to worsen.

And that was the part I forgot to mention earlier, and I appreciate being reminded of: Since civilization is now global, and there are 7 billion people, and because of overshoot (Darwinian), things can't really get better post-collapse - there's just too darn many people. Hence the paradox of being stuck moving ahead, unsustainably, propping up the system, unable to allow it to collapse, moving towards collapse nonetheless.

We may have just about checked out as a species:
However, this is open for analysis.

What's remarkable is how relatively stable this era has been and how one can seem to be lulled into thinking that it will always be this way...

The Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event... is the Earth's most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years.

Researchers have variously suggested that there were from one to three distinct pulses, or phases, of extinction. There are several proposed mechanisms for the extinctions; the earlier phase was likely due to gradual environmental change, while the latter phase has been argued to be due to a catastrophic event. Suggested mechanisms for the latter include large or multiple bolide impact events, increased volcanism, coal/gas fires and explosions from the Siberian Traps, and sudden release of methane clathrate from the sea floor; gradual changes include sea-level change, anoxia, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

~ Wikipedia (my emphases)

Anything look familiar?

GMO Wheat Found In Oregon Field. How Did It Get There?

A farmer in Oregon has found some genetically engineered wheat growing on his land. It's an unwelcome surprise, because this type of wheat has never been approved for commercial planting.
Nobody knows how this wheat got to this farm. Monsanto's last field trials in Oregon were in 2001. After all such trials, the genetically engineered crops are supposed to be completely removed.

EU to check US wheat for GM contamination

he European Commission said Thursday it has asked EU member states to check imports of wheat from the United States which may be tainted with a genetically modified strain made by US agrochemicals giant Monsanto.

The Commission, the European Union's executive arm, said it had informed the 27 member states of the problem, "recommending (they) test the consignment of soft white wheat" in question.

"In case of a positive confirmed result, the consignment shall not be placed on the market," it said in a statement.

Soft white wheat accounts for about 80 percent of US wheat imported annually by the EU, with most of it going to Spain.

The Commission noted that there "are no GM wheat varieties approved for sale or in commercial production in the United States or elsewhere at this time."

It's an unwelcome surprise, because this type of wheat has never been approved for commercial planting.

What should never have been approved in the first place, is the very existence of Monsanto!
They have opened a Pandora's box and it is very unlikely that there will be no unintended consequences.

May Monsanto execs live in the most interesting times of all... A GM pox on all their houses!

What should never have been approved in the first place, is the very existence of Monsanto!

That would require a pushback to late 1700 corporate jurisprudence.