Drumbeat: June 8, 2013

OPEC’s slipping grasp on the world’s oil market

At OPEC’s home base in Vienna last week, Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, played down the impact of the light, sweet crude that is gushing in record volumes from beneath North Dakota’s bald prairie and the scrubby landscape of South Texas.

“This is not the first time new sources of oil are discovered, don’t forget history,” he said. “There was oil from the North Sea and Brazil, so why is there so much talk about shale oil now?”

Secretary-general Abdalla El-Badri was even more blunt: “OPEC will be around after shale oil finishes.”

Despite the bluster from the biggest names in the 12-nation group that supplies a third of the world’s oil, however, it is clear the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is getting nervous, and experts are questioning how long the cartel can act together to hold sway over global oil prices.

OPEC: The ups and downs of an oil cartel

More than 50 years after it was created to wrest economic power from the major oil companies, the OPEC oil cartel finds itself at risk of losing its dominant role in the global oil market. The group is increasingly competing with new oil sources that are starting to chip away at its share in previously secure markets, while a shaky global economy keeps demand for oil at bay. Also troubling for OPEC as it looks to protect oil prices: One key member, long-suffering Iraq, is aiming to dramatically increase production and flex its muscles again as a major exporter.

It adds up to a nightmare scenario for the group. China, Russia and other countries are taking early steps to emulate the North American unconventional oil boom of recent years, which has the U.S. on track to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. Some key OPEC members, meanwhile, are eager to pump as much as possible to bring in badly needed revenue, rather than restrain output as part of any concerted effort to add upward pressure to prices.

Crude Reaches Two-Week High as U.S. Employment Picks Up

West Texas Intermediate crude rose to a two-week high on speculation that demand for fuel will climb after U.S. employment gained more than forecast.

Futures capped a 4.4 percent weekly increase after the Labor Department reported payrolls advanced 175,000 in May, beating the 163,000 median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The unemployment rate climbed to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April as more Americans entered the labor force. Oil also gained with U.S. equities.

“We finally got some decent economic news,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “We have an upside surprise and the market is taking off. Given the momentum and strength that we are seeing generally, we can make a run to $100.”

Oil Options Fall as Futures Rally on U.S. Employment Data

Crude oil options volatility fell as the underlying futures rallied to a two-week high on better-than-expected U.S. employment data.

Implied volatility for at-the-money options expiring in July, a measure of expected price swings in futures and a gauge of options prices, was 19.49 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:45 p.m. compared with 21.78 percent yesterday.

U.S. Gulf Coast Light-Heavy Differential Widens to 2-Month High

The widening spread could be a sign of Mexico trying to maintain its crude market share in the U.S., said Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis.

Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s national oil company better known as Pemex, adjusts the price of Maya at the start of every month to make sure the crude is attractive to buyers. The LLS-Maya spread widened $2.35 a barrel on June 3, the first trading day of the month.

Refinery issues send local gas prices soaring

Traditionally, when the calendar flips past Memorial Day, motorists expect to receive some relief at the pump, as fuel prices retreat from the expected jump into the beginning of the summer vacation season.

This year, however, many motorists have encountered something far different at service stations in Kane County and elsewhere in the Chicago area.

In the past week, rather than relaxing, the price of gasoline has surged to near record heights in northeastern Illinois and in other regions around the Great Lakes.

Saudi's crude output rises

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia produced 9.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in May, up from 9.3m bpd in April, an industry source said yesterday.

The source did not give a reason for the increase but Saudi Arabia typically raises output during the hot summer months to meet a surge in air conditioning demand.

Gas Rigs Unchanged for Third Straight Week, Baker Hughes Reports

Natural gas rigs in the U.S. were unchanged for a third consecutive week at 354, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI)

Oil rigs declined by four to 1,406, data posted on Baker Hughes’ website show. Total energy rigs fell by six to 1,765, the Houston-based field-services company said.

Rhine River Forecast to Open Fully Tomorrow After Flooding

The Rhine River is forecast to open fully to barge traffic overnight after floods and high waters disrupted shipments for at least five days.

US Oil Is Ready-the Challenge Is Getting It There

Given increasingly abundant supplies of natural gas and crude in the U.S., some consumers scratch their heads at the sight of high gas prices, which aren't expected to sink much as the summer season gets under way.

Yet some observers point a finger at inefficiencies in the U.S. transportation system, which forces oil companies to rely heavily on heavy transport to move crude supplies. Crude pipelines - such as the hotly debated Keystone XL that's now mired in Washington politics - could transport fuel more rapidly and at lower cost, some argue.

Where Does America’s Oil Come From? (An Update)

M. King Hubbert, the originator of peak oil theory, correctly predicted in 1956 that U.S. domestic petroleum production would peak between 1965-1970. He also forecast a peak in global production by the late-2000s. In 2008, many commentators interpreted spiking crude oil prices as confirmation of Hubbert’s theory.

But Hubbert, who died in 1989, did not live to see the “shale revolution.” During the past decade, advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have made it economical to extract oil from the pores of rock. Although U.S. petroleum production is still lower than it was at its peak in 1970, it has increased every year since 2008 with no end in sight.

Why Is Britain's Ministry Of Defense Predicting $500 Per Barrel Oil Prices?

After over three decades of relentless decline American oil production is increasing at a very rapid pace.

However, despite this radical change in American oil production I came across a report today that suggests that Peak Oil is far from dead. The British Ministry of Defense quietly released a study that suggest that by 2040 the price of oil is going to be a dizzying $500 per barrel.

I don't have any idea if oil is going to be $500 per barrel by 2040, but I do have some thoughts on why Britain's Ministry of Defense thinks oil prices are going much higher.

Start Your Engines: NatGas Revs for Transportation

Despite the slow rate of adoption of natural gas to fuel motor vehicles, a confluence of trends in favor of natgas is shaping up to loosen the stranglehold petroleum has on the transportation fuel market, according to Citigroup.

In a lengthy research report this week, the bank cited rising global natgas supplies, its relatively cheap price and ongoing environmental concerns among factors that "virtually guaranteed" an era where natgas would challenge the dominance of crude and distillates in the transportation market. Specifically in the U.S., the shale boom transforming energy markets is providing a major impetus to natural gas, Citi said.

Gas Shortages Felt Around Indonesia

Though Ratih, a 44-year-old resident of East Jakarta, felt fortunate to find a 3-kilogram gas cylinder for her stove, she was alarmed at how much the price had gone up since she last purchased one.

“It’s difficult to find [these] cylinders … I went quite far to find one. The price is going up, though. I paid Rp 18,000 [$1.83] this time, whereas I paid Rp 15,000 last time,” she said on Saturday.

Shell boss Voser warns Europe must 'stay competitive'

The head of oil giant Shell has told the BBC that Europe faces a growing struggle to compete with the US economy.

Cheap energy released by the process of fracking has revolutionised the US energy market.

British Gas owner poised for role in UK fracking

Centrica, British Gas’s owner, is in talks to buy into Cuadrilla Resources, chaired by the former BP chief executive Lord Browne, in a move that could boost the UK’s nascent shale gas industry.

China keen for upturn as commerce with Iran takes a tumble

China is Iran's biggest trading partner, purchasing up to a fifth of Iran's oil exports annually.

As Iranian elections take place on Friday, companies in the world's second-largest economy, and Beijing, will be hoping for a change of tack from Tehran's new leader.

Nigeria army says arrests man behind Delta police killings

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - The suspected mastermind behind an ambush in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta in April that killed 12 policemen has been arrested, the military said on Friday.

The Scariest Graph for Utility Investors Everywhere

Keep your lights on and your fridge open if you know what's good for your investments. According to a recent report, electricity demand growth is dropping – fast. Let's take a look at the numbers, and whether this report is fuel on the fire for this overvalued sector.

Between Scylla and Charybdis: Energy privatization in Greece

Greece is in the process of privatizing two energy-related companies: the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and the Administrator of the Natural Gas System (DESFA). In both cases the highest bidders appear to be Russian companies: Gazprom for DEPA and Sintez for DESFA. But Athens finds itself between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand it is under heavy pressure from the troika of Greece’s international lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – to privatize and meet specific fiscal targets, and on the other it is the recipient of “friendly advice” from the US and the European Commission to avoid selling DEPA and DESFA to Russian companies because of geopolitical considerations. More specifically, there is concern about Russia’s business practices in its own energy sector and also about Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas. The latter is, of course, very important, although there is a feeling of double standards as a close energy relationship like the one between Germany and Russia (with the construction and operation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline) did not cause similar concerns.

North Dakota grows five times faster than nation

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Propelled by a massive energy boom, North Dakota once again captured the title of the nation's hottest economy, with a growth rate five times the national average.

Canada’s provinces move on new energy fronts

CALGARY – Canada’s bid to find new markets for its oil and natural gas inched forward Friday, as British Columbia unveiled a new natural gas-focused ministry and New Brunswick deepened support for a plan to pipe Alberta crude east.

Tucson pipeline plans still in works

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP's recent decision to shelve plans for a crude oil pipeline from Texas to California has no effect on the company's plans for a natural gas pipeline from Tucson to the Mexican border through the rural Altar Valley, a company spokesman says.

Kinder Morgan has applied to build a 59-mile pipeline carrying natural gas from the Tucson area to Sasabe. The project would connect with a $460 million pipeline that the Japanese company Mitsui Co. has announced it plans to build south into Mexico.

Kazakhstan holds oil spill response exercises in Caspian Sea

Kazakhstan, Astana - The Republican command staff exercises "Kashagan-2013" for oil spill response were conducted in the Kashagan field in Kazakhstan, the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) told Trend on Friday.

"The participants eliminated the consequences of the second level conditional oil spill on the first day of the exercises," the statement said. "The equipment and appliances of the North Caspian project participants were used."

In nuclear power, a better way? Here's why.

When I first heard about this, it sounded like one of these miracle cancer cures you read about on the Internet. In this case, the cancer is climate change, and the miracle pill is something called the integral fast reactor, a different way of producing nuclear power. It seems too good to be true, but it looks like it is … true.

$1 Billion Nuclear Power Project Abandoned In Iowa

Plans for Iowa’s second nuclear power plant have been dropped by Mid American Energy. No design has been approved for the type of nuclear plant the company had intended, so they have let the idea go. It was reported that ratepayers will be refunded the $8.8 million they paid for a completed feasibility study. Sites not far from Council Bluffs and Davenport were being considered for the plant.

Shutting down San Onofre: How much should Edison's customers pay?

The decision to close the San Onofre nuclear power plant is only the start of many decisions to come: How will the decommissioning be carried out to maximize safety and restore the land as close to its original condition as possible? (The fuel has to stay on site, however, encased in casks that are then encased in concrete.) Where will Southern California Edison’s customers get the power that the nuclear plant used to provide? (Supplies are expected to be adequate through this summer.)

Who should pay for San Onofre fiasco? The answer is obvious

There may be lots of questions yet to be answered about Southern California Edison's permanent shutdown of its San Onofre nuclear plant, but here are a couple about which there's no doubt.

Who's responsible? Edison, 100%. Accept no argument that it did the best it could in overseeing a $700-million generator replacement project, but accidents happen. This wasn't an accident: It was the product of what Edison claims was its rigorous oversight of contractors.

How much should Edison's customers pay for the misengineering and mismanagement that led to mothballing a hugely important generating station? That's easy. The answer is nothing. Not a dime.

Earthship homes: Living off the grid

Earthship homes, the creation of architect Mike Reynolds, have been around since the 1970s. Typically they're solar-heated buildings constructed of tires that recycle water and are off the electric grid.

"They are becoming increasingly mainstream because everyone is becoming more aware of climate change and dwindling resources," says Reynolds, the founder of Earthship Biotecture based in Taos, N.M. "This is something that actually works and does not need fossil fuels."

When school's out for summer, many kids are at risk of going hungry

The hot summer months bring a fresh challenge for food banks in the nation’s poorest and hungriest counties: How to make sure millions of children get regular, healthy meals when they aren’t in school.

“The time of year in the United States (that) an American child is most likely to go hungry is the summertime, and the principal reason for that is school is out,” said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services with the USDA.

Cuba’s Other Revolution

But before seeking to apply the Cuban experiences to other countries and contexts it is necessary to consider the country’s unique and extraordinary circumstances. The 1959 revolution and subsequent sweeping land reform were a unique happening in Latin American history: the landed ruling class was defeated, uprooted and expelled. The country’s wealth and land were redistributed; and as a result, access to land is not a problem, and all farmers in the country enjoy first-rate free education and health care. Latin America’s land-owning elites, assisted by the murderous US counterinsurgency, have not spared any resources, be they financial, ideological or military, to prevent another Cuban-style revolution in the Western hemisphere.

Nevertheless, many of Cuba’s lessons can be learned and applied in other countries. One of the key elements in the success of agroecology and food sovereignty in Cuba has been the support of the state. The Cuban experience demonstrates that a successful transition to agroecology requires major involvement by the public sector. The country’s organic revolution contradicts the common image of the Cuban government as bureaucratized and lacking in creativity or imagination. If the Cuban state were as inflexible and inefficient as the revolution’s derisive critics make it out to be, it would not have taken the right measures, and in a rapid and decisive manner, to avert a fatal food crisis.

Land degradation threatens food security

WITH two centuries of an unprecedented population boom, likely to reach 9 billion by 2050, land degradation by human activities and climatic upheavals poses a threat to food security, especially in a land-scarce country like Bangladesh.

Historically known, it took the human species about 1,50,000 years to reach the 1 billion mark around 1800. Since then an additional 6 billion (!) have been added to the headcount — reaching 7 billion in 2011.

In such a grim scenario, it is apparent that soil, like water has become a fundamental resource but it is being degraded. The process of soil degradation can take different forms: hydraulic erosion, wind erosion, changes in the soil’s composition and physical degradation. Most people in our part of the world do not know that over 50% of the land that has been degraded by deforestation are situated in Asia and 15% are in South America and. At the same time, 37% of the soils are degraded by inappropriate agricultural practices in Asia.

Tough spot for farmers: Adapting to change you can’t believe in

Simply adapting to changes as they happen may be enough to keep farmers in business in the short term. In the long run, however, the advantage will go to those farmers who are able to plan ahead and make investments with a clear-eyed assessment of the science. In other words, there’s now a strong economic incentive to stop denying the reality of climate change.

Severe African Drought In The 1980s Caused By Northern Pollution

In the 1980s, decades of drought in central Africa reached the worst point. This caused Lake Chad, a shallow lake used to water crops in neighboring countries, to dry out almost completely.

Initially blamed on overgrazing and bad agricultural practices, the shrinking lake and extended drought have become examples of global warming. A new study from the University of Washington reveals that the drought was cause in part by Northern Hemisphere air pollution. The findings of this study were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Mexican Climate Fund Short of Cash, Slow Off the Mark

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - The Climate Change Fund set up in November in Mexico faces enormous challenges such as the enforcement of anti-corruption standards, which make it unlikely that concrete actions will begin this year, according to civil society organisations.

The fund, which will allocate resources to mitigate and adapt to climate change, was created under the General Climate Change Law of June 2012, with an initial budget of only 78,000 dollars, assigned mainly for administrative expenses.

Climate change is happening but we can meet the challenge

As carbon emissions rise inexorably, it's easy to feel powerless as catastrophe looms. But activism is a chance to take control.

Here's a report on a recently published paper:

The mystery of bitter Irish winters solved

In the paper, the authors compare information from old records against Greenland ice core data to show that those historical cold winters were most likely the result of volcanic eruptions. A link is given in the report to the paper which is open source from Environmental Research Letters...

E. Swanson

"Climate change is happening but we can meet the challenge" this is pretty much wishful thinking in light of the latest developments and findings.

We are on our way to a "fast and furious" climate change. It will be very brutal from here on.

We are at 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere which equals historically to about 8 degrees warmer in the Arctic. Watch this video:

The research team in the above video came up with clear evidence of a much, much warmer world every time we reached 300 to 400 ppm (So warm actually that all the ice was gone in Greenland AND West Antarctica)

Right now, mother nature plays catch-up to get there and is accelerating. And bear in mind we will go much higher than 400 ppm, first, just because we cannot and do not want to stop here.

Second, mother nature has a really, really bad surprise for us under the Arctic Sea.

Watch this video:

This is so big, there is just No way to stop and change anything from here on.
And it's going to be faster than anyone has predicted.

All of us, we will witness these developments in our lifetime. Clear and present danger ahead.

Anthropocene, the age of consequences it is, welcome to our new world.

Like you, it seems, I am revelling in dark satisfaction at the fuller version of Churchill's advice, recently expanded in the Topquotes..

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…”
—Winston Churchill, November 1936

I've seen both of those videos before and in spite of the obviousness of what is going on regarding the downward spiral of Arctic ice volume with an accompaniment of methane release increasing, along with multiple other signs of an impending tilt towards runaway GW, the general public and world leaders seem conflicted and fairly unconcerned. At least unconcerned enough to rally whatever efforts could be mustered to reduce carbon footprints by way of massive renewable deployment dwarfing any efforts so far, setting up infrastructure for EV's, requiring renewables on any new construction, smart grid improvements, electric rail transport, etc. Instead the emphasis is on economic growth and trying to get people back to work via pumping more monetary stimulus (QE) into a system that is suffering from the high cost of energy production as EROI drops.

We are caught in the greatest conundrum since the dawn of humankind, as the past and current burning of FF catches up with us via climate change, while we face the globalized descent down the net energy ladder, as the population increases 80M more each year. The conundrum being if we burn more FF it exacerbates climate change, but if we don't burn the FF (since the green revolution when we could have with Carter was rejected) the world economy craters. Caught between a rock and a hard place of our own making. Getting out of the conundrum gets ever more expensive as the time to get it done shortens.

I agree with what you say except for "ever more expensive". When my friends look at all my new PV and other solar widgets, and say "must have been expensive" I have a canned answer-"Nah, not expensive at all, in fact cheap. I paid for the PV panels with that fat pickup I didn't buy" ( or whatever other sillyness my friend happens to have committed recently). Nobody can say a thing is expensive when it does more good and costs less of real value than all that endless torrent of crap we are paying for right now without even thinking about it.

The world economy craters? Great, so bury it before it starts stinking even more than it does right now, and go on to something worthwhile with the same people, the same capital, the same management and so on, Everybody would be happier, and far richer by any real measurement.

Sure, I know, Politically Impossible. OK, So? --Consequences, that's what.

By ever more expensive, I mean not only the conversion to renewables not just for individual usage but industry as well, including smart grid advancements so solar in Arizona can be transmitted long distances, and the cost of carbon sequestration. And I don't mean from the FF being burned now, but all those mountains of the stuff in the atmosphere that have gotten us to 400 ppm. As more carbon gets added the costs rise ever higher, that kind of ever higher expenses. In other words we've probably already cooked ourselves and the only thing saving us so far is the momentum of climate change just hasn't kicked into overdrive yet, so we need to sequester like mad, but that will take a lot of energy. Where's it going to come from? See what I mean by ever more expensive?

OK, You are saying we not only have to quit emitting carbon, but also have to grab it out of the air and put it back underground, or somewhere, and this would take a lot of energy. Well right, maybe, but how about doing the taking out by other methods than us cranking hardware of some sort? Like replanting and other such natural processes, all solar driven and very widespread?

I notice the sawtooth carbon curve from Hawaii. Has a real sharp short dip during each spring growing season. Extrapolate that dip down to where we want to be and it doesn't take long to get there.

You mention industry. What I am saying is that industry ain't doing what's needed- the opposite, in fact. Like drilling miles of hole to suck up poison and drink it. So put all that grunt into growing kelp, etc.

Yep, we have probably already cooked ourselves. So, do we just sit around talking about it, or go do something that just might do a little bit of good?

I know the things we can do are likely hopeless, but also fun, for me anyhow. And-added bonus- I get to piss off my friends by holierthanthou.

Actually the yearly oscillations in the Mauna Loa data are more likely due to changes in the equatorial sea surface temperature and especially the temperature of the Indo-Pacific warm pool. Compensating the CO2 with outgassing from elevated ocean temperatures gives this largely oscillation-free version of the data:

Explained more fully here

This is not easy to duplicate because the roughly sinusoidal waves have to cancel exactly, otherwise a residual sinusoid will still be observed. BTW, there is a one-month delay between Temperature and CO2 increase.

Other areas may be more affected by vegetation uptake but not in the middle of the ocean where it is all PChem 101.

Nice work, WHT!

As usual, your analysis is impressive. I enjoy your thorough theoretical analysis coupled with empirical validation, in a form mostly comprehensible by a non-mathematician.

The 12 month cycle for temp variation is a fairly predictable one, and I can't help but think that the 1-month lag is actually an approximator for a more sophisticated migration of CO2 to/from greater depths as the temperature changes and the partial pressures manifest. How deep must you go to be isolated from yearly cycles? What part do waves, major currents, and storms play (if any)?

I still struggle to intuit what this says about CO2 forcing. It is clear that temp and CO2 correlate, that could be true with any driver for temp change. Is it convincing to you that change in CO2 will indeed drive a matching change in temp, or will the CO2 be sequestered to match the T, or some of both?

Do you have a view of how short-term factors contribute to the difference between your Mauna Loa calculation at 3ppm per degree versus Vostok at 10ppm per degree? It would seem like a forcing temp over a long term would drive greater change than the same dT over a short term, but does that explain 3 vs 10?

The CO2 that varies seasonally is the stuff that is in so-called chemical equilibrium.

The overriding forcing function of introduced man-made CO2 is not anywhere close to being in equilibrium. This acts like a dopant in a semiconductor -- it gets injected in the environment and stays around for a long time, only slowly diffusing to places where it can get sequestered from the environment.

Very interesting! Thanks, Web, for this info. I was sure some thinking had been done on that sawtooth- too blatant to ignore.

But back to the carbon problem. As the designated fix-it man in my little tribe here, I am in the habit of just fixing it (whatever) any which way I can. So I bring that habit to the carbonfryingplanet problem. Fix it. How?

Then I look out the window. A couple of months ago what I saw was nothing but "Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang". Now, a very short time later, I look out and see verdant heavy greenery all over everything, and the obvious thought is- A lotta carbon must have gone into all that, real quick.

So, if we grab that newly fixed carbon and don't just burn it, and encourage ever more of that sort of plant action everywhere, like sane people might try to do given the fix we are in, wouldn't that do some quick good? After all, while there's not much action per sq. meter, there's a whole lot of sq. meters.

And, like the sawtooth, somebody must have already done the heavy thinking on this one. What's the answer?

Deciduous trees are good at rapid production of leaves when the temperature warms enough to justify them. However only so many leaves are needed, and the CO2 in those is mostly recycled every year. Detailed examination of the CO2 transport in plants probably shows an initial rapid uptake followed by a slower uptake until fall. Not to say this would be visible in the atmospheric concentration - if biological processes contributed to that in any significant fraction I'd expect more year to year variation.

So what are we supposed to do. Harvest a goodly fraction of annual plant production, and convert it into a form suitable for long term storage? Charcoal? But even stuff like terra-preta only holds the carbon for a few hundred years. We could try to manage forests to maximize carbon storage -which is certainly a form of bio-geo-engineering. I'm not sure thats stable however. For other reasons the forests in the semiarid southwest of the US (and many others) were managed to reduce/eliminate fires -so the CO2 storage increased -but now they are not stable against catastrophic fires.

I can think of other geo-engineering ways to absorb CO2. Fracture all/much of the near surface silicate rocks, and CO2 dissolved in rainwater will gradually convert them to carbonates. And you could try to claim its natural -thats the way the planets thermostat natually works -only on a timescale too slow for humans, only we speed it up dramatically. But who is going to want their local area to be surface fracked like that? And what sort of other stuff much leach out?

My answer to what are we supposed to do is just another one of my conditionings from R&D engineering.

We have a problem, it's serious, and we don't know what to do about it. So we call a brainstorming meeting of all the people involved, and bat around ideas in a big free-for-all, no ideas too crazy.

We get lots of ideas from smart, knowledgeable people, a lot of them are really off the wall- fun but obviously notgonnawork. But then that gets us to thinking-- maybe that idea, nutty tho it obviously is, has some components that we might be actually able to use. And if we patch the good parts from it onto the good ones from some of the other nutty ideas-- Hey, that one's actually worth a try!

And so we get to an answer.

Of course, sometimes there is no good answer, just bad ones. OK, that's the answer.

What we do not do is nothing--just sit around and hope if we don't pay attention to it, it will go away. It won't.

Then, Consequences.

As an engineer I certainly understand that sentiment and the process, but my first question would be:

"What problem do you think you are trying to solve?"

My second question would probably be:

"And what next?"

I think the distinction between a problem to be solved and a predicament to be deal with is important here, and I would be VERY concerned with approaching it as a purely technical problem to be solved. Down that path lie things like attempts to geoengineer "solutions" to climate change and other things that will only do us more harm.

That doesn't necessarily mean do nothing, but then again doing nothing may in fact be the best choice at times.

"Sometimes nothin' is a mighty cool hand," Right. Churchill said that sometimes the best thing to do with an apparently intractable problem in diplomacy is nothing, since such problems can evaporate with the passage of time.

The problem of global climate change is not one of them.

Or maybe it is. We do nothing, the biosphere collapses, humanity is history. After a few or maybe many millions of years, the next great thing comes along.

I mean, that's always been the way it has been before, right?

When you suggest that "doing nothing" might be the best choice, you appear to be suggesting that continuing BAU might be the only solution. But, from an ecological perspective, "doing nothing" is actually doing something, that is, continuing to use the Earth as a dumping ground for our industrial/consumer system's waste products. What ever the effects of increased CO2 on climate, "doing nothing" will add more to those effects. So, "doing nothing" is actually "doing something" by accepting the present economic system in it's full extent.

Then again, if you think of "doing nothing" as literally doing nothing, as in, stop doing what we are now doing, then I would agree that "doing nothing" may be the best long term choice for humanity...

E. Swanson

Nothing doing...

I'm not advocating continuing to use fossil fuels, although we certainly will. To me that is continuing to do something obviously harmful.

I was thinking more about the attitude of "we've screwed things up, let's try to fix it", which can lead to doing things like planting invasive plants, implementing new technologies, doing things to try to cool the planet, etc.

Everything done at scale seems to have unintended consequences, and it seems like all of the problems we face are yesterday's solutions to something. We like to think we can fix everything we've screwed up, but part of wisdom is to learn to accept that we are not omnipotent and not everything that is broken can be made whole again. Maybe it's better to try not to break more things.

Sorry, but our entire economy is based on "breaking things". Every newly produced chunk of concrete, steel, glass, aluminum, wood, oil coal, etc, is the result of "breaking" some portion of the natural world. With mineral resources, the rocks are literally broken, as in smashed to small bits, to extract the part(s) which we consider to be of value. There are gold mines which smash a ton of rock to extract a few grams of gold (also perhaps copper and silver), literally converting mountains to powdery dust. We even speak of "breaking ground" as part of planting crops to feed our bloated populations.

From my engineering point of view, I understand that there are some technological fixes which can be applied, over time, in order to cut down on the need for those resources. But, from my political point of view, I also understand that the ultimate problem is the basic structure of society, especially our economic system, which demands that most of us must "work" to be able to obtain what we need for our individual survival. Those without work or income are shunned by others, as the "work ethic" is central to our definition of an ideal life. Ultimately, industrial mankind won't be able to stop doing all those negative things until the system within which we all live changes in such a fundamental way that it might be said that it's been destroyed and replaced with a new paradigm, one in which all people shun the accumulation of wealth (and power) and the resulting consumption of the Earth's natural resources. Continuing onward with BAU isn't going to stop the sinking of the Ship of Fools...

E. Swanson

Again, I have never advocated continuing onward with BAU.

Sorry, I suppose I'm a bit confused. You suggest that you aren't advocating continued use of fossil fuels, yet you say that you aren't willing to accept technological fixes for out situation. Perhaps you would let us know what you ARE advocating as the desired future direction for human survival...

E. Swanson

We have a problem, it's serious, and we don't know what to do about it. So we call a brainstorming meeting of all the people involved, and bat around ideas in a big free-for-all, no ideas too crazy.

Case in point, I had a conversation recently with the owner of a bamboo products company. He is also an agronomist specialized in growing bamboo forests. He is working on a project with the Brazilian government to plant and harvest bamboo along railroad tracks throughout Brazil. Win win! It grows fast, captures carbon, it's easy to harvest and load onto trains and he gets cheap bamboo for his business!

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet — with a growth rate of up to 1.2 metres a day. It is stronger than steel, weight for weight, and its roots can reduce soil erosion by up to 75 per cent...
..."They sequester carbon through photosynthesis, and lock carbon in the fibre of the bamboo and in the soil where it grows."...
...Under regular management practices, bamboo sequestered an equal or greater amount of carbon over the 60-year lifespan of a Chinese fir plantation...
..."If the bamboo forest wasn't managed through annual harvesting practices, it would be significantly less effective at carbon sequestration,"...
..."Bamboo is different — the more you cut it the more it grows...

Ever have a lawn? you gotta mow it >;-)

Great example, Fred. Did they talk about the idea of the locomotive running on the bamboo it mows as it zips down the track?

Correction on important scientific fact. As a kid I tracked the rate of growth of bamboo vs kudzu. Kudzu won going away - leading by almost 10mm/day.

so I started to think about breeding racing bamboo. Like most of them, this thought of mine didn't get out of the starting gate.

"As a kid I tracked the rate of growth of bamboo vs kudzu. Kudzu won going away - leading by almost 10mm/day."

But Kudzu is a wispy little vine whereas bamboo is a thick, fibrous shoot of über-grass. So who wins by dried mass?

btw - how's the WimbiDrive coming along? The velomobile world needs a transmission that can maintain a pedal crank rpm near 60 between 2 and 30 mph and can handle up to 1500 watts...can you make that happen without a mid-drive? :)

A house near us in PA has a front yard of bamboo. You would not believe how invasive the stuff looks. From the edge of the house to the street (30 feet?), it is a solid wall of bamboo. I'd be tempted to buy some big stakes from the owners for my garden but I'm not sure you could get to the front door.

Charcoal? But even stuff like terra-preta only holds the carbon for a few hundred years.

If adding the Charcoal boosts yields and the Carbon is able to be 'locked up' for many decades such is a solution Man would just have to keep at. Man got here by "keeping at it", the solution won't be instant either.

Taking crop fodder and charring it would also break the disease cycle along with (hopefully) destroying things like BT or glychophospate in the residue.

I think we should pick a stable carbon compound and start rebuilding the Mountains of Appalachia that have been torn down for Coal. We could Call it Moria.

It would be like our own MegaPyramids! 'It is a good place to die!' hmm.. Does 'Pyramid' have something to do with 'Fire'? (maybe not, according to etymology online.. apparently an alteration of Egyptian pimar "pyramid." )

The 'MEGA' part should get some buy-in from the rest of the culture. If we set the framework of up such that there's a really compelling Cartoony Bad Guy involved and some kind of Sports Stats to go along with it, I bet we could get a few million folks a year to drive over to it and get their picture taken being a 'real Pyramid Slave'.. it's not free labor, they'd have to PAY to get the honor!

Service guarantees citizenship. Carbon Capture Macht Frei.

Pyromids for Pyromaniacs. New episodes daily.

We could call it Moria Mordor.

Edit: Oh, my bad, those are one and the same.

Um, no. Moria were the dwarf mines while Mordor was the land of Sauron. But I like the idea for the carbon but it needs to be somewhere that lightning or fire cannot reach.


"...like sane people might try to do..."

There's your obstacle; insanity is only measured at extremes by we, The Ignorant, who's idea of being sane must relate to themselves and their thoughts established over a lifetime. I own two cars, the next door neighbour owns four, another one owns just a motorbike. Man, they have to be insane! Go to church every Sunday? No thanks, not me; you're crazy to do that! The family with six kids; whoa that's nuts!! Holiday in Europe? Build a 100 square home? Throw half your dinner in the bin? Buy a copy of People magazine? All sheer madness, from my perspective at least.

Sanity is an individual thing. And no laws will ever govern it. And hey, it's all a bit trivial anyway, right? Right?

I wonder what my mother would think of me visiting TOD? :)

Cheers, Matt

Very interesting. One possibility for the difference between MLO and Vostok delta-T vs. CO2 rates is that MLO is being compared only against tropical temperatures, i.e., the 30° latitude band represents roughly 1/4 of the global ocean, while Vostok temps vary as the entire ocean/atmosphere changes -- about 4 times as much ocean area, and about 4 times as much outgassing.

Replying to my own comment: a quick look at ERSST data shows global peak-to-trough seasonal variation is roughly .42° C, while MLO CO2 data peak-to-trough seasonal variation is roughly 4.5 ppmv: a ratio of 10.7 to 1, which matches the Vostok data quite well.

As we all know, correlation is not causation. Your choice to use "local" SST's (defined as the Western Pacific Warm Pool between 6S and 15N) seems to miss the rather obvious influence of the trade winds at Mauna Loa, which is located at roughly 19.5N. Those trade winds typically blow from the northeast into the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ marks the the thermal boundary between hemispheres and exhibits latitudinal shifts with the seasons. I think the source areas for the annual cycle in CO2 measured in air flowing over the Hawaiian Islands is likely to be the large land masses at higher latitudes.

As I understand it, there's general agreement that the cause of the seasonal variation in CO2 is the growth and decay of plant material at temperate and higher latitudes with the yearly weather cycle. If there were a strong variation due to tropical SST's, one might expect to find variation in the record in conjunction with the ENSO oscillations, instead of the rather constant amplitude yearly cycle actually observed...

E. Swanson

Saying that it is a conundrum implies that we have a choice. I know that we could certainly use less energy and emit less carbon from a technical point of view, but clearly there are more than technical issues at work, as we are doing absolutely nothing and show no signs of starting. Our society is apparently not constructed in such way that we are able to respond in a reasonable, rational way. Just as people like Tainter, Diamond, Greer and others have been pointing out, our system is designed to do what it does, not to adapt to these new conditions. So I do not believe there will be much choosing to emit less carbon, there will only be limits imposed from outside. These will cause this social system to fail, not to adapt.

"Whatta ya mean "we"?" I have been greatly pleased and surprised to find so many people around here (ordinary little place) who have already got their minds set on doing less harm and doing more good. I see evidence that he masses are ready to rise, by golly.

So what "we" gotta do is do it.

As for this social system failing. It already has.


I think it's a little like the Breastfeeding situation that many of our Mothers and even current moms are surrounded by. They really want to do the right thing by their babies, but are simply swamped by a system that has too little information, too MUCH misinformation, and little real support to enable people to make the change without it being a very unnerving leap of faith, against a chorus of braying challengers.

And yet, people are still pushing back out into those frontiers and holding on against the 'Parmalat' giveaways and the chanting disdain of the doubters..

Interesting that you use that example. A recent study found that using some baby formula actually helps mothers breastfeed.

Maybe the lesson is less stridency on all sides.

Seems like a Fairly small study..

You know that I'm frequently against pushing extreme positions, but I'm also very wary of moves to get Camel's noses back into the tents they were kicked out of. There's a slight ringing of 'fair and balanced' between the lines of this sort of study.

As the comments showed, there are a number of ways to supplement breastfeeding if there is a culture of it around you, primarily with Wetnurses who can help until the mother's own milk comes in, as well as Doulas and Lactation specialists to help overcome awkwardness and inexperience. It's very much to the point I was making above.. many people want to get rid of their crutches and anxieties, and build up lifetime habits that will be smart and resilient, but without enough people around them sharing the message that 'it's a smart move and we'll support you in it', it's a very high threshold to jump for many.

But as that goes, and as I said, I'm not an absolutist. We offered our daughter some formula at the beginning as well during some initial difficulties.. and she wisely spat it right back in our faces. She ended up nursing for up to four years, which is far longer than most American kids, and gives me a lot of hope that her cell and neural development is built on a really good foundation.

I'm highly concerned about mixing profit motives with newborn's nutritional needs, and playing that sale on parental fear. There are things in human life that really have no need to be monetized.

My wife nursed our third-born for a year, hoping to continue nursing the adopted child we planned on. We got him when he was nine days old and my wife put him to her breast. Two things -- our year-old daughter evidently hadn't been taking much milk, and the supply was way down. Second, she looked over at the funny little creature on the other breast and promptly weaned herself. (Our son weighted less than five pounds -- the home-made kids all were eight pounds or more -- and looked like a hairless cat. He grew up to be winsome.) My wife belonged to La Leche League, and our pediatrician said he learned about breast feeding from her.

When he was about eight, No. 4 listened to a discussion of blood relatives. He piped up: "I'm related by milk!"

Our first two were born in a small town, and reading pamphlets proved only partly helpful. We were in a university community for our others and there was more hands-on help available.

I'm not sure that 'hands-on help' is the best way to, er, express that. What I get concerned about, in the pro/con debate, is that there are a very wide range of circumstances which affect how successful breast feeding is. Just saying that 'all natural' is right does not cover it. The mother's production does not always match the babies need. There may also be situations where natural feeding don't work, maybe inverted nipples that a friend had. There is no single right answer.


'No single right answer'

Sure, and I think I'd already made some proper disclaimers to that effect.. but we are also learning enough about neonatal nutrition and nutrition in general to begin to see that there might well be some answers that are wrong.

Human Breast Milk is a highly complex material to synthesize.. as we use our own offspring as the Test Rabbits.

Mammals have been breast feeding their offspring since the late Triassic, Infant Formula has only been around since the 1950s, coincidentally about the same time that Ad agencies really got the whole manufacturing 'needs' down to a science.

Interestingly, I'm trying to digest (ahem!) an article about Nutritional Health as it ties in with Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease.. as my Dad just got admitted to the Hosp. for a small stroke a few days ago.

I'm curious again to see what the Rabble-rousers over at Weston Price have said about it, and found this, directly tying the conversation with my Dad to the one with TOD.

In his (Dr. Weston Price) classic work on nutrition, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he connected nutritional status during development to deformities of the oral palate as well as to the risk of tuberculosis. Price believed that developmental deformities of the chest cavity—produced by the same nutritional causes as the deformities of the oral palate—made a person more vulnerable to the tuberculosis bacterium. For these reasons, he placed a special emphasis on the importance of nutritional preparation for and support of pregnancy and lactation—practices he universally observed among the healthy indigenous groups he studied.2 Modern science is now rediscovering the links between vascular disease and oral health and fetal nutrition.


Well, statements of absolutes are probably a bad idea - mine as well as yours. While there are some individuals doing something (and with my full support), the society as a whole is not doing much of anything. And while the society is failing, it has not failed completely yet (I suspect you'll be able to tell the difference if you're around then). Regardless of individual efforts the global CO2 keeps rising.

"We" are not getting it done. If you've a plan to change that I'm all ears, but for now I'll stick with my expectation that change will be forced upon the unwilling masses by external limitations.

OK, here's the plan. A few people with some money go out and hire the best cartoonists, comedians, novelists and pop song writers/performers, and give them the job of making it just what everybody knows that we gotta get going on the multiple problems screaming down the track toward us.

This makes it possible to get more money and talent to do the job.

Example, this gal with nothing but a pencil and some paper made it common knowledge that slavery is bad and something should be done about it.

Then, I am quick to admit that we then went out and solved the problem the bad way- civil war.

Who knows, maybe better luck this time.

Again, can you define the problem you are trying to solve?

Problem: We are hellbent to ruin the biosphere with our nasty habit of burning fossil carbon, which took millions of years to get buried, in an eyeblink of time, and we are doing it faster and faster and trying to find ways to do it more and faster still, while at the same time the people who have spent serious time thinking about its consequences yell louder every day that this is a huge sin against the next generations.

That's very bad behavior, in my opinion. Gets us where we don't want to be. A Problem. The one I am talking about. How to fix it?

Simplest solution - just say there's nothing wrong here- forget about it. A highly popular solution, almost as popular as not even noticing it at all.

Example of acceptable (debatable and anyhow highly unlikely) solution to stated problem.
First,-do things that get a majority to recognize the problem exists and desire a solution
Second-specify in detail what tradeoffs can do- like, how many of our grandkids don't have to die early if we take our chips off of obese cars and put them on a good transportation system.
Third- crank out a bunch of other, very clear examples of better ways to get a better, not a worse, world.
People get behind it, the snoball rolls, we quit foreclosing on the future, a solution.

I applaud all efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption. There are many different ways to approach that. One can try to gain popular support to effect change at a wider social level (long shot) or focus on a personal level. One can focus on new technologies or learn to live as people did before they had access to much fossil fuel.

None of this will result in maintaining the level of comfort, convenience and material wealth we have now. Major change will be required along with considerable sacrifice. My concern about approaching it as an engineering problem is that we don't know what will work, and we know what will work for some won't work for others.

I personally do not believe the wider society is capable of choosing to make the kinds of changes needed on a scale that would be effective. I believe that the method and scope of the changes will be effected using the method called "collapse", as this is how societies have historically shed complexity. Our carbon emissions will be reduced when we are no longer able to access the fossil fuels. Hopefully some of those (few) who have voluntarily learned to live with reduced fossil fuel access will be able to show (at least some) others how to do it.

A kickstart project?


Perk Earl said; "the general public and world leaders seem conflicted and fairly unconcerned."

The one and only way that "world leaders" could effectively address the constraints is to crash the global economy and destroy the assorted currencies, mostly focusing on the dollar but all others as well.

This will destroy demand (kill millions/billions) on an unprecedented scale. But first they need to make sure the chosen, the few, the .1% are made whole and are as prepared as they choose to be.

What else could they possibly do?

Oh right, they also need to remove ammo and hopefully guns from circulation, monitor all communications, make every act of resistance an "act of terror", have neighbors spy on and report each other, and blame it all on Islam and socialism.

So just relax, they got it all covered.

So long as new finds of oil and gas are greeted with cries of joy, so long must the battle to educate the public endure.

Looks like inland California and the Southwest are in for some record heat today. They say that Death Valley is already at 111F as I write and the forecast high is 127F by 4PM. Tomorrow things are expected to be extremely hot again. Makes one wonder how humans going to "meet the challenge" before we fry...

E. Swanson

Also, seems like the Amazon may be approaching a 'tipping' point ...

From JPL: Hidden Wildfires Taking Big Toll on Amazon Rainforest

Using an innovative satellite technique, NASA scientists have determined that a previously unmapped type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest than has been lost through deforestation in recent years.

In years with the most understory fire activity, such as 2005, 2007 and 2010, the area of forest affected by understory fires was several times greater than the area of deforestation for expansion of agriculture, according to Morton. The study goes further and fingers climate conditions - not deforestation - as the most important factor in determining fire risk in the Amazon at a regional scale.

Understory fires can damage large areas because Amazon trees are not adapted to fire. The long, slow burn gives way to a creeping death that claims anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the burn area's trees.

We live in No. CA about 2 hours drive north of SF, and it was 100F at 11:30 AM this morning and now at 12:40 it's 103.1 (and I make sure to keep the outside thermometer in the shade). Will update later when we reach peak which my receiver keeps track of.

What really struck me as different was the speed which these high temps were reached. Fri. 95.2, yesterday 105.8 and today will get up to around 109. Usually high temps like that take several days to build up to very high temps.

Last night at 3:00 AM as we couldn't fall asleep because it was 77F outside and 82F inside, although the forecast and what the online weather channel claimed was 66! If it was 66 I would have been sound asleep. I know you're wondering why not keep the AC unit on at night. Just hate to breathe that crap 24/7. Would rather lose sleep and get some fresh air.

There are the usual cool spots. The high in Berkeley yesterday was 73. My low last night was 75! That's about what it is in the house now -running the AC till the sun falls on the outside unit in about a half hour, then it will be allowed to drift upwards....
At least its only supposed to a two day heat wave, I can remember eight days in a row with highs 40C (104F) and above. We might even get showers Sunday night! Showers this time of year are at least as unusual as temps above 105.

Showers this time of year are at least as unusual as temps above 105.

Agreed. Looking forward to Sunday to see if it really happens.

Just checked and the forecast is 20% chance which is slim to none. The site claims it's 109 right now in our area, but my therm reads 104.7


Could be worse ... ... Pakistan Wilts Under Record Heat Wave

Pakistan in recent weeks has suffered its most severe heat wave in decades, with temperatures reaching as high as 51 degrees Celsius (124 Farenheit) on May 19 in Larkana, a city of two million people in southern Sindh province. This was the highest temperature for that month recorded there since 1998, when the mercury peaked at almost 53 Celsius (127 Fahrenheit).

... Toasty!

They hold the world record of 53.5 degrees, set in 2010. Guess this wave was in another part of the country.

Over time, some places will become so hot for periods of the year one can not stay alive without electrical cooling. Those areas will be uninhabited. Is Pakistan on route to become the first such spot? Or at least part of it?

I think you're referring to Sherwood and Huber 2010 in PNAS which look at a 10 C warmer world which is possible in a few centuries and it's impact on humans and other warm blooded animals. The upper limit is not so determined by the dry bulb temperature but by the wet bulb temperature which -when reaching temperatures around 35 C- limits the ability of the body to loose excess heat. Pakistan and India as well as a large part of South America and Africa will be in de danger zone under this scenario due to high temperature and high humidity.

Zanobetti et al 2012 in PNAS show that an increase in summertime temperature variability with higher extremes leads to more deaths under groups of elderly people.

53.5 = 128. One day last July death valley had 128F followed by a low of 107 (which tied the highest low with Kuwait). Although suspect the old 134F from death valley still holds. The 136F from Libya has been overturned. Even without the 134 reading, I think death valley still tops the list. Of course the pop of DV is very small, and it is a dry heat.

I don't think these places will become totally uninhabited. Some means of keeping cool on the worst days are needed. This includes underground dwellings, as well as access to some sort of heat pump technology. As long as there is some economic or military or political purpose for being there there will be some humans present. Denmark has small dog sled teams patrolling Greenland in winter in order to legitimize their sovereignty.

I remembered wrong. It wasn't the world heat record, but of Asia.

The question I have is with climate change and peak oil where do you want to be to help "minimize" the pain...carrying capacity in California is high but there are a lot of people there..the mountain areas have too many people on them and it takes too much energy to heat a house... etc...climate change could have the effect of making some areas colder!

Here's a final update on high Temp. today: 109.8F Scorching!

Yeah, accuweather says that these high temps were reached:

Death Valley   124°F
Sacramento     108°F     Record  103° (1973)
Fresno         108°F     Record  105° (1973)
Redding        111°F     Record  100° 
Chico          111°F     Record  106° (1973)
Bakersfield    109°F     Record  107° (1973)
Yreka           99°F     Record  106° (1973)

I have a faded memory of being in that heat wave in Northern CA back in 1973. We were traveling and when we stopped, I bought an ice cream sandwich to cool down, only to find the ice cream evaporated before I could finish eating it...

E. Swanson

43C. Wow. The only place I've experienced that sort of temperature is Namibia in the semi-desert.

By law manual work had to stop at 42C. On our construction site we used to have a thermometer hanging in the shade of a tree and the workers would run over and check it periodically.

I visited Neiva during a cool patch in a heat wave. It was 45C whereas they had been having temperatures of 47! Currently it is around 30C here and a lot less comfortable.


An ice free North Pole is closer than ever this year. A large band of broken ice (60% surface coverage) roughly the size and shape of Sweden currently goes across the Arctic Sea in a manner that touches the Pole. There is a greater than 10% chance the X on the map is ice free fright now. A lot of this ice will be gone by september.


The link presented is the active link that updates semi daily, but day to day pictures can be found at a database somewhere.


Sodium Reactors

"In fact, GE-Hitachi has an IFR prototype, and they’ve signed a memorandum of understanding to build one in South Carolina."

Is this statement true? Is it a feasible design? Will it or could it be the answer to current waste depository fiascos? Is it still a pipedream? Is this just a feel-good article?

I know there are some knowledgeable nukers out there who could stab at some answers. Thanks in advance.


...and this:


TVA + Babcock & Wilcox - small-reactor project at the old Clinch River Breeder Reactor site in Oak Ridge.


For those unfamiliar with the Saga of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, its an interesting read.

From link up top:
OPEC’s slipping grasp on the world’s oil market

The IEA, the West’s energy watchdog, has predicted the United States will pump 11.1 million barrels a day by 2020, up from nearly seven million in 2012 and surpassing Saudi Arabia in the process

This is an awfully optimistic forecast, a 4 million barrel/day increase in just 6.5 years. The IEA must be simply extrapolating current trends and doing no analysis of decline rates or future sweet spots. Why do these guys get paid big bucks? A guy like Rune could do a much better analysis for free!

IEA stated methodology on their web site says that they use decline rates as part of their oil forecast. However, the methodology comes from a field by field analysis they performed in 2008. Whether this adequately reflects the relatively rapid declines of oil shale fields in North Dakota, for example, I do not know.

However, it is apparently inaccurate to assume they do not taken into account declining production.

However, it is apparently inaccurate to assume they do not taken into account declining production.

Well then, how the heck do they come up with a 4 million barrel/day increase in just 6.5 years?? And I assume they're talking mostly about tight oil, which has inherently high decline rates.

Hell if I know. I guess one needs to read their forecast to find out.

No country have ever increased production with 1 million b/d under a year. (With exception of turning on the crank on already made installations). 4.5 millions in 6 years is near impossible already for conventional oil.

If they really say this, their prediction ability is crap and there is no reason to listen to them ever again.

From the EIA U.S. crude oil + lease condensate production through February 2013:

2011 December 6027.39 kb/d
2012 December 7121.65 kb/d
difference +1.09 Mb/d

The IEA thinks production will increase at a more moderate rate for the next 6.5 years. Since the IEA and EIA use the honor system to publish whatever numbers they desire, the IEA certainly has it within its means to make their prediction come true irrespective of the reality of oil production. Keep that in mind when considering the quality of the data.

It's a terrible analysis that doesn't make any real world sense as you and others have pointed out.

While it is certainly true that the massive increase in fracking was unforeseen by most peak oilers it is merely a game extender, not a game changer. Oil from fracking currently accounted for less than 5 percent of the daily U.S. consumption last year. This is even after a 750 percent increase in tight oil production since 2003. Clearly there needs to be an unprecedented increase in exploration and drilling for oil from fracking to even begin making a dent in the wider scale of things.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that domestic production of tight oil will max out at 1,325,000 barrels a day by 2030. This is only 7 percent of the current U.S. daily consumption. And no one seriously believes that the U.S. economy can grow without increasing oil consumption. The numbers don't stack up, it's as simple as that.

no one seriously believes that the U.S. economy can grow without increasing oil consumption.

Why not, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK all did. Each of these major economies had stable or falling oil consumption over the decade from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s. Indeed, half of the EU-27 nations had non-increasing oil consumption over the course of that decade. The USA during the early 80s is another counterexample.

(FYI, I looked at 1995 to 2006, to ensure reasonably healthy economies during the period being examined. European oil consumption is about 15% lower now, and GDP is roughly unchanged in real terms. Data is from EIA.)

Essentially, you're taking as given a very strong assumption -- that economies can't grow without using more oil -- and not only are you not providing evidence for that assumption, available historical evidence strongly suggests that the assumption is false.

Pitt, I like your thinking. Keep it coming, please :)


Thanks for your comment.

As you point out there are short periods where reasonably healthy economies have grown without increasing oil consumption. However these are largely exceptions. Chris Martenson: http://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/147473

"Oil and GDP are highly correlated and always have been. The general observation is that growth in GDP is usually higher than growth in oil consumption - as growth in oil consumption powers economic growth. Without growth in oil consumption, GDP growth doesn't advance."

"Back in 2009, in a piece entitled Oil - The Coming Supply Crunch (Part I), I calculated that every 1% increase in global GDP was associated with a 0.25% increase in oil consumption – in other words, a roughly 4:1 ratio."

Gail Tverberg: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/02/08/our-investment-sinkhole-problem/#mo...

Figure 1. Comparison of 2005 to 2011 percent change in real GDP vs percent change in oil consumption, both on a per capita basis. (GDP per capita on a PPP basis from World Bank, oil consumption from BP’s 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy.)

"In Figure 1, we see that for several groupings, the increase (or decrease) in oil consumption tends to correlate with the increase (or decrease) in GDP. The usual pattern is that GDP growth is a little greater than oil consumption growth. This happens because of changes of various sorts: (a) Increasing substitution of other energy sources for oil, (b) Increased efficiency in using oil, and (c) A changing GDP mix away from producing goods, and toward producing services, leading to a proportionately lower need for oil and other energy products.

The situation is strikingly different for Saudi Arabia, however. A huge increase in oil consumption (Figure 1), and in fact in total energy consumption (Figure 2, below), does not seem to result in a corresponding rise in GDP."

I would also be careful as to where that economic growth came from. If it was tertiary economic growth as John Michael Greer calls it, it is largely unaffected by oil consumption. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=12518&page=0

"One of Greer’s key insights is his model of the economy based upon three tiers. The primary economy is the natural processes that provide goods and services to humans without the need for human labour. These goods include things such as fossil fuels and mineral ores whilst the services include pollination and the water cycle. The secondary economy is where humans become involved, namely through the transformation of the goods and services provided by the primary economy, that is nature, into the goods and services required by humans. The final tier is the tertiary economy, the purpose of which is to allow for the distribution of goods and services of the primary and secondary economies. Critical to an understanding of this model is that the different types of wealth that these three tiers produce are not interchangeable. In short, you can’t eat money and you can’t grow food without the natural wealth provided by the earth’s primary economy.

Another crucial point in this model is that whereas the primary and secondary economies are subject to negative feedback loops and essentially self regulate; the tertiary economy, as currently structured, is not. Fiat currencies, fractional reserve banking and exotic financial instruments allow the money supply to increase independently of the primary and secondary economies."

One way to grow would be to tax gas at the pump. That would reduce demand for gas and increase net exports. Consumer demand could still be kept up by making the tax change revenue neutral. It would also spur investment in fuel-saving technology (and car maintenance).

In regard to "Who should pay for San Onofre fiasco? The answer is obvious"

When you read the article, substitute "your pension fund" for "shareholders."

Not to say the article is materially wrong, but the connotation is that the evil rich should take the financial hit. The situation is not that simple, few situations like that are.

Back to Econ 101, there are only three ways places corporations can increase profits or cover costs. Pay the workers (or other suppliers) less, pay the shareholders less, or charge the customers more. In this case the company has already announced 1000 layoffs by the end of the year, and this follows layoffs that made the news last year when it became obvious there was no quick fix. So that step has already been implemented. Not to say the Board shouldn't can the CEO as well.

On the IFR topic, Wikipedia has a fine write up the concept. At the small scale it works very well. The accountants will want to scale it up the giant-size, and then it probably won't work nearly as well. The square-cube law very much applies to nuclear reactors. Two of the six factors in the six factor formula are dependent on the surface area to volume ratio of the core.


Actually the six factor formula is probably slightly different for a fast reactor. The basic math still holds though.

When you get to the IFR article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

go ahead and read about EBR II as well. It was pretty neat.

Taking a hit for a bad investment does not prove that you are evil -- if you are getting this connotation it is through a misreading of the moral ramifications of market signals.

My take on this is that the rate payers the government and the shareholders should all be hit hard. The workers are the only ones that should get off the hook, and they are being punished.

The Argument Against Oil Drilling in Arctic Seas

The Natural Resources Defense Council has issued a statement concluding that recent events — most notably the grounding of a Shell Oil drilling rig in Alaska — show the oil industry is not ready to safely, cleanly drill offshore in the Arctic.

NRDC Issue Paper: Environmental Risks with Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Development off Alaska’s North Slope

Yeah, but big money has a way of moving big money to those that need big money to make big money, so environmental concerns will become secondary.

Methane leaks could negate climate benefits of US natural gas boom: report

Methane leaks could undo the climate change benefits of America's natural gas boom, a new report said on Tuesday.

The report [Leveraging Natural Gas to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions], produced by the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), said America's shift from coal to gas had produced important climate gains. But the report said those reductions were not enough, on their own, to escape the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Some 29% of America's electricity came from natural gas last year – compared to just 14% a decade ago, the report said. But it comes at a high cost to the local environment, because of the risks to air and water quality posed by hydraulic fracturing.

There is also a growing body of evidence that the release of methane gas into the atmosphere at well sites, compressor stations and along pipelines is far higher than previously thought.

... The report adds to growing evidence of the down sides of America's natural gas boom – beyond the widely reported contamination of local wells by chemicals used in the process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking".

Such a seemingly simple thing as fixing leaks is not even achievable, what hope is there for actual real action?

Humanity Imperiled:The Path to Disaster

What is the future likely to bring? A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside. So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now -- assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious -- and you’re looking back at what’s happening today. You’d see something quite remarkable.

The question is: What are people doing about it?

There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them. If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed. Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada. They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.

... Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died recently and was the object of mockery, insult, and hatred throughout the Western world, attended a session of the U.N. General Assembly a few years ago where he elicited all sorts of ridicule for calling George W. Bush a devil. He also gave a speech there that was quite interesting. Of course, Venezuela is a major oil producer. Oil is practically their whole gross domestic product. In that speech, he warned of the dangers of the overuse of fossil fuels and urged producer and consumer countries to get together and try to work out ways to reduce fossil fuel use. That was pretty amazing on the part of an oil producer. You know, he was part Indian, of indigenous background. Unlike the funny things he did, this aspect of his actions at the U.N. was never even reported.

Today we believe that people living in the medieval ages believed Earth was flat. Of course they did not believe that, sailors figured the truth out long before that. The question is, what will people in the future believe about our believes? My guess is they will believe we never understood it. Why else didn't we do anything?

If people still exist that far into the future, then they will have returned to the medieval ages.

The attitude from Waterworld: it's blasphemy to even think that the water rose up flooding the land. It has always been Waterworld. Because they will not know that anthropic emissions wrecked the habitable planet, they will not be blaming their ancestors for what they do not know happened.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the publishing of "1984". In commemoration, the [illegal] monitoring of all private communications by the NSA/FBI is exposed.

Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Three Things Young People Should Know to Save the World

- 1. Obedience is extremely dangerous.
- 2. People in power manipulate us into acceptance
- 3. Doing nothing is obeying a deadly order [a sin of omission is morally and effectively equivalent to a sin of commission]

Tech Giants as PRISM Guards for the National Security State

You have to wonder if tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon et al were so willing to hand over their customers' data to the NSA, and comply so eagerly with other shady government surveillance programs like PRISM for one simple reason: Taxes.

As in “Give us what we want (everything that has ever been digitally or electronically recorded in your data bases) or we will audit you”. Apple’s willingness to hand over its user’s private data just might have something to do with its alleged tax evasion scams that concealed $74 billion in profits.

And for the open source distributed proofed and foofed version.


To make an .epub download the .htmlzip version and use Sigil or (faster, less hands on) Calibre to produce.

Gotta love Canadian copyright law as long as it continues. Death plus 50. If you choose not to download, you can read the html online.

Thanks for the link Pax. It's been many years since I've reread 1984. It's prophetic.

Some profits are taken early, others a few quarters later or under the authority of a different taxing agent.

Since security is such a concern and seems to trump all issues of liberty and privacy, why not just go all 1984 and bring on the cameras in every room. It is already the case that major cities televise about every square inch 24/7 so why not just bring it into the home.

People lose their liberty and privacy because they don't care. We have become such a fearful and cowardly nation that I doubt that there is even a significant minority that cares about freedom, except when it comes to guns, of course. Whatever happened to give me liberty or give me death. Guess it went down the memory hole.

Yes, people are being manipulated. But why is it so damn easy to do so?

Where are the protests? Where is the outrage? For that matter, where is the Tea Party?

I would venture to call some of this tyrannical except that I believe that this invasion of privacy is going on with the cowardly consent of the governed.

"..But why is it so damn easy to do so?"

'New, HD front and back facing cameras, and with higher connectivity, they can be streaming 24/7, even when you don't know it!' ('Dave, dave, I can't see both your hands, Dave. What are you doing?')

Senator Padme Amidala: "So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause."

but lest we feel entirely powerless, Kwithurbitshen and listen to Emmanuel Goldstein on Democracy Now last week..


It's 11:58 pm, have you fought for your democracy today?

All that would result in is young/unskilled workers losing their jobs. Nader is a charlatan.


It's always easy to call Nader names.

Probably because he has been so wrong AND ineffectual about so many things, like seatbelts, clean water and corporate influence in politics. What a crackpot.

Maybe you don't agree with the minimum wage argument, but his overriding point is that we aren't as powerless to effect changes for ourselves as we keep thinking we are.. and he's a good example of THAT, too!

But no, keep calling him silly, unsupported names, your Moniker gives you extra privileges to do so.

Agree with jokuhl. Nader has been fighting against corporate greed and influence longer than I've been alive. Has he won *every* battle he's fought? Of course not. But to call him a charlatan for not being 100% victorious when taking on the hydra of Wall Street/K Street/Madison Avenue, etc. is ridiculous. At least the man has always fought the good fight and had the courage to accept the consequences for doing so.

Since 9/11, life—and surveillance—made easier

Americans' expectations of privacy have diminished remarkably since Sept. 10, 2001—and only partly because of the terror attacks that happened the next day.

Laws were passed to take up the fight against shadowy terrorists by giving authorities access to information that previously was off limits. At the same time, technologies intended to make Americans' everyday lives easier have also made it easier for corporations—and the government—to track their movements and habits.

Here are seven ways in which our world has become a less private place: ...

Microsoft applies for patent on technology to count users watching streamed content

(Phys.org)—Microsoft Corporation has applied for a patent on new technology that would use a Kinect-like device to count and even perhaps identify people as they watch streamed content. Its purpose would be to allow content providers to restrict the number of people viewing content, or the number of times certain individuals could watch a particular video stream. Such technology they note, could also allow for collecting payment for watching content based on the number of people watching, or prevent minors from viewing adult material.

(see also 'telescreen' - 1984)

Greer was writing about Spengler the other day in his blog. One of the point that Spengler raises is that civilizations in their final stages become pacific, I'd like to add a twist to it and say that they also become paranoid about safety. Was it like this a 100 years ago ? Were people so obsessed about preventing every single death that they would have voluntarily voted such a surveillance state into power.

people ... voluntarily voted such a surveillance state into power.

If the Nation was a Democracy then the "people" would have a vote.

America is a Republic. Under a Republic the "people" don't have a vote - the "representatives" have the vote.

posted about where to find the open source copyright free version of 1984 on fadedpage - but it seems to have gone down the memory hole.

Remember, Capitalism will sell you the rope to hang it with, but you might have to actually pay for it.

It's there. Nine out of ten times when people complain their posts are gone, it's because they don't understand the threaded system we use here.

Your reply will not necessarily be directly under the post you replied to. If others replied before you, your comment may end up way down the page from the comment you replied to. It may also be pushed further down the page by replies to posts above yours, long after you posted.

Search the thread on your name to find your posts, or check your profile to see your comments, if you don't remember which thread you posted in.

And I repeat...if you have questions about why comments are removed or aren't approved, e-mail me privately. Do not complain about it in the comments.

Sorry, I was having problems deleting it 120 seconds later.

Fracking America’s Food Supply

... The Bakken Shale lies directly below one of the most fertile wheat fields in the United States. North Dakota farmers produce almost three-fourths of all amber durum harvested in the United States. High in protein and one of the strongest of all wheat, amber durum is a base for most of the world’s food production. It is used for all pastas, pizza crusts, couscous, and numerous kinds of breads. Red durum, a variety, is used to feed cattle. North Dakota farmers in late Summer harvest about 50 million bushels (about 1.4 million tons) of amber durum, almost three-fourths of all amber durum produced in the United States. About one-third of the production is exported, primarily to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Destruction of the wheat fields, from a combination of global warming and fracking, will cause production to decline, prices to rise, and famine to increase.

The presence of natural gas drilling companies has also led to decreased milk and cheese production. Penn State researchers Riley Adams and Dr. Timothy Kelsey concluded: “Changes in dairy cow numbers also seem to be associated with the level of Marcellus shale drilling activity.” Counties with 150 or more Marcellus shale wells on average experienced an 18.7 percent decrease in dairy cows, compared to only a 1.2 percent average decrease in counties with no Marcellus wells.”

Beneath some of the nation’s richest agricultural land in drought-ravaged central California lies the Monterrey Shale, a 1,750 square mile formation that holds about two-thirds of the country’s estimated shale oil reserves, about 15.4 billion barrels (647 trillion gallons). The landmen have already arrived to buy leases and set up what is likely to be the biggest oil and gas boom in the country.

More than 200 different crops are grown in the central valley, including about 70 percent of the world’s supply of almonds, most of the grape production and 90 percent of all domestic wine sold in the United States.

Big strike leads to oil field chatter in Panhandle

The Lincoln Journal Star reported Friday that Black Star Petroleum says the oil was discovered thanks to two wells it drilled near the Wyoming border in Banner County.

The company said two independent consultants estimated the two wells could tap between 4.3 million and 23.3 million barrels of oil.

The find, if it proves out, still would be minuscule compared with other oil fields. For example, the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska’s North Slope area ranks 20th in the world and contains an estimated 25 billion barrels.

An analysis shows the two wells are geochemically similar to the Silo field in Wyoming and the Jake well in Colorado, Black Star said.

The Silo field, near Laramie, has produced more than 10 million barrels of oil since 1981. The Jake well in the Wattenberg field in northeast Colorado in 2009 had initial production of more than 1,500 barrels of oil a day. That production has declined since

The un-dead rise, again ...

From WSJ [a purveyor of doubt]: We May Live on a Natural Gas Machine

Coal, oil and gas are "fossil" fuels, right? They are derived from ancient life-forms and are nonrenewable, stored energy, extracted from prehistoric sunlight. In the case of coal and most oil, this is obviously true: You can find fossil tree trunks and leaves in coal seams and chemicals in oil that come from plankton.

But there's increasing doubt about whether all natural gas (which is 90% methane) comes from fermented fossil microbes. Some of it may be made by chemical processes deep within the earth.

... Maybe this explains why so much methane bubbles up through hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Moreover, a new paper by Vladimir Kutcherov of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm argues that this might also explain why vast quantities of hydrated methane (known as fire-ice) have been found under the seabed near the continental margins: Perhaps it has come up from the mantle.

Dr. Kutcherov thinks the evidence "confirms the presence of enormous, inexhaustible resources of hydrocarbons in our planet." If he is right—and America's new Deep Carbon Observatory aims to resolve the question in the next few years — natural gas may effectively never run out.

... whack-a-mole. Where's my hammer?

While natural gas may 'effectively' never run out... we know for a fact that stupidity, absolutely never will!

Theory of Abyssal Abiotic Petroleum Origin: Challenge for Petroleum Industry. Vladimir G. Kutcherov Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Good luck whacking away! Hey at least the Wall Street Journal believes him.

Hey, here comes Kutcherov's Abiotic Gas Theory....

So, who needs fusion, baby? Chemical processes are apparently exempt from resources.

This is a crack-up! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-08/china-may-exports-trail-estimat...

‘China Export Growth Plummets Amid Fake-Shipment Crackdown’

Overseas sales rose 1 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said in Beijing yesterday, trailing 35 of 38 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey and down from April’s 14.7 percent pace. Imports dropped 0.3 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $20.4 billion.

The report reflects a government campaign to root out illegal capital inflows disguised as trade that had inflated figures and added to appreciation pressure on the yuan. It also underscores the challenges Premier Li Keqiang faces as overseas demand stalls while rising home prices, financial risks and overcapacity at home limit his room to boost the economy.

“This shows the real state of the Chinese export situation,” said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong. The data show a “pretty depressed” picture, with weak external demand and a yuan that has appreciated substantially against a trade-weighted basket of currencies, said Shen, who previously worked at the European Central Bank.

Ok, so the lying stops and we get the real numbers which a 1% increase from a year earlier. As you can see in the first paragraph in block quotes, April was reported at 14.7% increase, but overseas sales most likely could not have plummeted from 14.7 to 1% in one month. Therefore, the 14.7% was reported in the pre-truth era.

Third world Britain: Country faces food shortage, warn MPs

The International Development Committee said Britain is “never more than a few days away” from a significant food shortage.

The MPs, in a report Global Food Security, said the Government should cut the huge amount of discarded produce – estimated to be 30 per cent across the world.

Contrary to popular opinion, discarded produce is actually discarded for a reason. Normally it has gone past it's best before date.

Good lick trying to get people to eat mouldy bread, rancid milk and brownish greenish meat.

I take it you did not read the report. It is not suggesting that people eat food that has gone bad.

"Best before" dates are entirely arbitrary. Food may spoil before the best by date, or it may be perfectly fine long after the date. The report suggests using other methods to detect spoilage than best-by dates.

Other possibilities: store food in ways that slow spoilage, and encourage people not to buy food they are not going to eat. (I suspect a lot of produce is wasted in the U.S. because people buy it with the intent of eating healthy, but end up ordering a pizza instead, and it ends up not being used.)

Another huge source of waste is leftover food at stores and restaurants. The New York Yankees baseball stadium makes a huge effort to not waste food. Anything left over after a game is taken to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. In many venues, that food - from hot dogs to sushi - is discarded. Other things restaurants can do: offer takeout boxes automatically (many people are too embarrassed to ask for doggy bags, or don't think of it). Offer smaller portions, so people throw away less. Recycle peelings and leftovers that aren't fit for human consumption by feeding it to animals, composting, or sending it to a biogas plant.

Behold the 9-day fresh strawberry: New approach to slowing rot doubles berry shelf life

Strawberry lovers rejoice: the days of unpacking your luscious berries from the refrigerator only to find them sprouting wispy goatees of mold may be numbered. A research team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Components and Health Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and Sensor Electronic Technology, Inc. (SETi) in Columbia, S.C., has demonstrated that low irradiance ultra-violet (UV) light directed at strawberries over long exposure periods at low temperature and very high humidity—typical home refrigerator conditions—delays spoilage. The team used a novel device incorporating light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that emit UV at wavelengths found in sunlight transmitted through Earth's atmosphere. The results, which will be presented next week at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2013), are significant because previous attempts using traditional UV light sources for storage of produce resulted in severe drying, and it was unknown if the advantages of long exposure to low-level UV light would be effective against rot.

Ozone can protect fruit from decay for weeks after exposure, study finds

Texas company: Microwave keeps bread mold at bay

I'll probably stick with the Goatees, personally.

Between Ozone and Microwaves, I think you're killing the things in the food that support my life as much as it does the lives of the molds and bacteria that are growing there.

As Pollan says, if it won't decompose, how well do you think it's going to digest?

In case of a shortage I guess it will be eaten in time unless there are political problems such as lack of money to buy the food.

Not all produce is disposed after it has gone off. Lots of it is disposed when it is freshest (on the farm).
Ever see farmers leave fruit to rot in the field because the price to pick and transport is higher than it is worth? I often see that with crops like oranges
Ever see farmers dump produce because it doesn't meet A1 grade, supermarket standards, fruit/vegetable shape requirements or size? I've seen eggs thrown out (too large for tray or double yolkers or soiled), bananas dumped (minimum hand size is 3 bananas), misshapen potatoes are rejected by supermarkets, oversize fruit rejected at canneries, etc etc.
I saw on the news last week where they plan to shoot 10,000 cows because the cost to ship them to non drought areas is more than their market price.
Then there is all the produce that is dumped to maintain prices or farmers get subsidies to not grow in the first place (crop set asides).
So much waste.

I lived in a political collective in the 60s and we fed ourselves by dumpster diving.
And we were privileged upper middle class intellectuals.
Just think what a talented proletarian could do!

I lived in a political collective in the 60s and we fed ourselves by dumpster diving.

It is now called "freegan" or Freeganism.

Contrary to popular opinion, discarded produce is actually discarded for a reason.

"reasons" like a part of the produce being punctured or crushed. Or a blemish. The rest of that tomato or pepper may be good, but unless the store has a deli operation to attempt to resell the undamaged parts as a processed meal option - what is a store to do?

Normally it has gone past it's best before date.

And you know this based on?

I like this article which was linked on the same page as well. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/406138/Jobless-graduates-taking-up-hair...
I am sure they are related, the "service" economy doesn't seem to be working too.

From this weekend's Financial Times FT Magazine:
The Future of the American City

…In 2010, for the first time in US history, the number of poor living in the suburbs exceeded those living in the cities…

…There may be greater enthusiasm in September when ground will be broken on Detroit’s first streetcar project since the 1950s. The M1, as the tram route will be known, will link downtown to midtown Detroit. There is poetic irony to the notion that Motown’s comeback might be powered by urban rail. Detroit used to have many tramlines: they were ripped out at the behest of the auto companies. “Most people figured out that Detroit needs mass transit to revive,” says Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, America’s third-largest mortgage originator. A native of the city, Gilbert took a bet in 2010 when he shifted his company’s headquarters from suburban Livonia to downtown Detroit. It now has 10,000 employees there. “I’m putting everything I have into the revival of Detroit,” says Gilbert. “There is no Plan B.”...

Thanks for link Walt.
We Brits have followed the model as best we can for the last 60 years as we went for the petroleum age, if always with a 5-15 year time lag.
We built shopping malls and closed down major industries, and in our much more confined space even had many mini-Detroits affecting millions. However we managed 'gentrification' of some of our cities earlier, especially London, (think Antonioni's 'Blow up') so on that one we could have been ahead of the curve.

But reading about the Inland Empire reminds me that America is something else!
Seems to make sense though of the big petroleum / 'economy 2007' picture we read about on The Oil Drum?
No really new Big Idea on the horizon?


Detroit is about to declare bankruptcy. It is the future American city, a bombed out, post apocalyptic hell-hole.

Leanan, can you let me know why my post regarding the article ‘China Export Growth Plummets Amid Fake-Shipment Crackdown’ with link did not pass the review process? The link was a legitimate article from Google news.

Patience, please. I am not around 24/7.

I did approve your article, hours ago, but it ended up back in the moderation queue. The usual reason for this is because you tried to edit it. I repeat = do not edit a comment that was caught in the spam filter. It will end up hidden again.

And if you have questions about why comments were removed or not approved, e-mail me privately, please. Do not ask about it in the thread.

It's there, it's there - thanks! I didn't realize it can be several hours before a queued post makes it past moderation, so now I'll show amazing patience in the future.

I try to fill in the gaps and liberate trapped comments whenever Leanan isn't online, but sometimes I'm not available or my timing is off.


Thanks to both (all) of you for keeping this ship of fools afloat.

Well - it's still a gigantic puzzle to me that a "good old proven human TOD-user" like Perk Earl even ever enters this "Spam-control Que" - in the first place.... modified entry with a link - or not. It's obviously taking a big toll on the flow and streamlining of the TOD _Experience.

Probably that spam filter doesn't allow to define a "safe list" of users ?

Or the functionality is not used ?
(would be surprising that there isn't one)

There isn't. As others have pointed out, the kind of spam filter we use rarely allows that kind of "whitelisting."

Spammers and trolls can spoof "trusted" user names. The best I can imagine is that probable trusted could have higher thresholds, and perhaps get put on top of the toreview queue.

Spammers and trolls can spoof "trusted" user names.

Other than knowing that my password is "goaheadusethispassword", exactly how is this "spoofing" supposed to happen?

Using some kind of cross site scripting? I have faith in the TOD technical staff that they understand the issue - and if someone was to "capture" this account, I could always create a different one....

Thanks paal m, very nice of you to say. Yeah, I tried those other peak oil sites but feel most comfortable here on TOD. Like the format, and understand they need to confirm a post is not trying to post ads for products. Would be great though if the spam filter recognized regular posters, providing them carte blanche to bypass moderation, but maybe that kind of adjustment to the system is not possible.

I believe TOD is a not for profit organization. Banner ads? No. Pop-ups? Nope. Volunteers on their own time? Likely.
It's rumored that Kate and Leanan will sometimes sleep or goto dinner.

Heh. Yeah. Stuff happens!

From Earthship Homes; uptop

No doubt there are few people capable of appreciating the irony of this new definition of an earthship;

It took nearly five years and more than $200,000 to complete the 1,600-square-foot earthship and install windows, floor tiles from surplus pieces of granite, the 800-square-foot greenhouse, the indoor greenhouse planter, the porch, the green roof with its rainwater system and the kitchen with a sink salvaged from a restaurant.

You have to be more conscious of the way you move terms around.. this is a single house, being built in the Metro DC area. It's not a 'new definition of Earthships'

They couldn't get financing, they had hired a contractor and then let him go when it wasn't working out.. Trying to do something different might well end up being very costly.. and that's not even a contradiction to the premises of efficient housing or renewables. They can frequently cost more to set up, but then cost less to operate. These guys did their best.

I don't see that as ironic, but as taking risks and trying something outside the box.

Indeed. Next will be the Tiny Home that's 1500 ft2 with only 2 bathrooms and 3 bedrooms, with an office and a 2-car garage.

Considering that the average home size in the U.S. is now 2,480 ft2 and was as high as 2,700 in 2009, I would say 1500 ft2 actually qualifies as "small" if not tiny over here.

Australia is not renowned as a winter sports playground but this weekend's opening to the official ski season is a shocker. No link but copy paste Welcome to the first weekend of the 'ski' season to a search engine if you're interested. My guess is mid latitude ski areas now need to be at least 1600m in altitude preferably over 2000m which cuts out Australia.

Enthusiasts for renewable energy like to point out Australia got 13% of its electricity from that generic source last year. However most of that was from habitat drowning hydro built in the 20th century helped by several recent years of La Nina rainfall. Things look a bit grim this year. Not only are hydro dams well down but the wheat farmers will be looking for spring rain to get a harvestable crop.

Re : OPEC: The ups and downs of an oil cartel

Quite Amazing how this "OPEC is the bad guys oil cartel" image is rooted, with the usual :

"In response to October’s Yom Kippur War, OPEC initiates an oil embargo, quadrupling prices and sparking the first Western “energy crisis.”

When the reality of the first oil shock is much more :

- end 1970 : US production peak, the energy crisis starts from there, with some heating fuel shortages for instance (some articles can be found on NYT archive on that)
- Nixon name James Akins to go check what is going on
- Akins go around all US producers, saying this won't be communicated to the press, but needs to be known, national security question
- The results are bad : no additional capacity at all, production will only go down, the results are also presentede to the OECD
- The reserves of Alaska, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, are known at that time, but to be developed the barrel price needs to be higher
- In parallel this is also the period of "rebalance" between oil majors and countries on each barrel revenus.
- So to be able to start Alaska, GOM, North Sea, and have some "outside OPEC" market share, the barrel price needs to go up (always good for oil majors anyway) and this is also US diplomacy strategy
- For instance Akins, then US ambassador in Saudi Arabia, is the one talking about $4 or $5 a barrel in an OAPEC meeting in Algiers in 1972
- Yom Kippur starts during an OPEC meeting in Vienna, which was about barrel revenus percentages, and barrel price rise.
- The declaration of the embargo pushes the barrel up on the spots markets (that just have been set up)
- But the embargo remains quite limited (not from Iran, not from Iraq, only towards a few countries)
- It remains fictiv from Saudi Arabia towards the US : tankers kept on going from KSA, through Barhain to make it more discrete, towards the US Army in Vietnam in particular.
- Akins is very clear about that in below documentary interviews (which unfortunately only exists in French and German to my knowledge, and interviews are voiced over) :
For instance after 24:10, where he says that two senators were starting having rather "strong voices" about "doing something", he asked the permission to tell them what was going on, got it, told them, they shat up and there was never any leak.
(the "embargo story" was in fact very "pratical" both for the US (to "cover up" US peak towards US public opinion or western one in general, but also for major Arab producers to show "the arab street" that they were doing something for the Palestinians).

And by the way, if you take wikipedia definition of a cartel :

A cartel is a formal (explicit) "agreement" among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers that agree to fix prices, marketing, and production.[1] Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry, where the number of sellers is small (usually because barriers to entry, most notably startup costs, are high) and the products being traded are usually homogeneous. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. The aim of such collusion (also called the cartel agreement) is to increase individual members' profits by reducing competition.

Tough to say that OPEC qualifies, and not about it being countries and not firms, but simply that they for sure cannot reduce competitition or new entrants in anyway.

In fact if the cartel concept can be very real for some value added products, in the case of non renewable raw materials it doesn't make much sense anyway.

Wholesale operator among 10 arrested for electricity theft.

The female operator of a wholesale enterprise in Kingston is among 10 business owners who have been arrested for electricity theft in the Corporate Area and St Catherine.

The arrests were made last week, as the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) continued its drive against electricity theft. The JPS says the business owners have been using metre bypasses and other methods to steal electricity.....[snip]

The light and power company says since January, more than 77,000 illegal connections have been removed and 114 people arrested.

Sort of follows a discussion on Friday's DB about electricity theft and while all of this is going on there is something weird happening in the local economy. I get a sense that we are approaching another stair step down. Some places seem to be stretching their credit facilities to the limits, the local campus of the University of the West Indies being a good example. In other instances, organisations seem to be barely "treading water. A metal fabrication business I know, has put most of the workforce on furlough as there is just not enough work to keep them on the payroll. Generally I get the impression that many business and individuals are being pressured from both ends, facing rising costs and declining incomes at the same time.

Yet still one auto dealership recently opened their new US$13 million pair of showrooms (two brands) and seem to be doing OK while a fancy new home improvement/hardware store recently opened for business on a busy main thoroughfare in Kingston. All the while real estate developments are continuing apace. There's one construction on my street, middle to upper income bracket apartments no doubt and just yesterday I noticed that they were demolishing what used to be a "prep" school (as privately run k12 schools are known in Jamaica) that had run into financial difficulties and ceased operations. I suspect more apartments are going to be built there.

So, while some businesses are struggling to survive, there seems to be no shortage of money to buy high priced (mostly German) cars and build apartments supposedly for the same people who can afford to buy the cars. I just have this sense that there's some "funny money" floating around. The doomer in me tells me this is not going to end well. I guess I'll just have to wait and see!

Alan from the islands

Thanks for your JA updates. I spent a couple weeks there in '89 and it's always interesting to hear about the island from your energy / economic perspective.


Your welcome. It seems a bit like the twilight zone at the moment. Lots of happy faces and positive stuff in the newspapers, on radio and on tv but I'm coming into contact with more and more people who are facing serious financial challenges, largely a result of rising fuel, electricity and food costs. I must be hanging out with the wrong crowd. On the other hand, many of these people were doing okay, not so long ago.

Alan from the islands

Twilight zone is a good analogy. I don't think there's an industrialized nation on Earth that isn't feeling like this now.

Thanks again!

Twilight zone

"For your review this evening is a globalized economy getting financially pinched as it meanders down the net energy ladder. But as you will see, this isn't any ordinary economy as it gets a visit from the Twilight Zone in the form of Quantitative easing as a last ditch effort to escape the inevitability of collapse."

I always feel like I'm in the Twilight zone.........

Newspapers, radio, and TV are make believe. They are not real, do not reflect reality.

Don't look to them for validation or information. Best not to allow them access to you at all.

The things that are in the "news" are rarely interesting because of any "content" of their own, rather they are sometimes interesting because of what they tell us about what is going on behind the scenes. When you are being played they way in which that is attempted can be revealing about the player's intentions.

I too enjoy reading the input from people around the globe, I have a question for Alan, is energy supply a monopoly in Jamaica ? If so is it a state or private monopoly ?

The refinery is a state owned monopoly. They sell refined products to private marketing companies including Total, Texaco, A local franchise, formerly Shell and a handful of small local companies including one state owned. Electricity used to be state owned but,

In 2001, ownership of JPS returned to private hands when Mirant Corporation, a US-based energy service provider acquired 80 percent of the company.

A Google search for"jamaica public service company our history" should bring up the "history" page from which the quote was taken. Electricity transmission and distribution is still a monopoly but, a few private entities were allowed (invited?) to build own and operate generating plants to sell electricity to the "network operator".

Alan from the islands

John Varley has written another bit of doomer porn, "Slow Apocalypse". The premise is that a researcher at a definately nameless American agency develops a bacterium which decreases oil viscosity to improve extraction ... but through malice, things go wrong, and doom happens. Doom, doom, doom. The intro looks like it could have been written by most of the people here.

Don't forget, you're here too.

Well, I've finally got off my butt and I'm designing my PV system. I built a PV system at a previous home and I made an aborted attempt to build one at this house a few years ago but I got frustrated and quit. And now I am learning why . . . they've made it harder since I first installed a solar system several years back. Many more drawings and calculations required. And warning signs . . . lots and lots of warning signs. There are whole web stores dedicated to selling people warning stickers. 2 pages of my plan consists of warning stickers.

This is annoying . . . we were supposed to be making it easier to install these things but it has got harder. And I'm not convinced many of these changes are for the better. Some are but many are just make-work. As long as people stay within a proscribed certain design space, they shouldn't have to do all these calculations. A lady at the planning office was nice enough to show me an example from another system. She told me I could look at it but I wasn't supposed to make copies. I told her I needed some time to learn a little so she let me go into a room to study. I whipped out the cellphone (which is a new one that I just got) and snapped a bunch of pictures of the design. I felt like a spy. I then spent a couple days now creating my own design which is largely cribbed from that design and from the technotes from the inverter manufacturer.

I had originally created a 6 page design on 11 by 17 paper. It is now up to 14 pages of 11 by 17 plus another 15 pages of 11 by 17 of spec sheets from the equipment I'm using. I guess I feel that if I overwhelm them with paperwork they'll assume I know what I'm doing and approve it. And I do know what I'm doing but did I really need to waste a couple days learning what these stupid calculations are and then creating my own which are basically just slightly different than the design I looked at. I mean jeez, there is not that much room for variation . . . we are all using #10 AWG wire and whether the run is 30 feet or 50 feet doesn't matter much since they'll all pass. Do they really need to know if my voltage drop is 0.89% or 1.13%? They need to create a reference design space wherein if you stay within that space, you don't need to waste your time on these calculations that are just all going to yield pass results.

Oh . . . and although I love these microinverters, they sure nickel and dime you to death. The microinverters are reasonably cheap. But then you need to buy their proprietary trunk cabling. And their proprietary terminators. And their proprietary monitoring system. And their proprietary sealing caps. The racks do the same thing. Nice thing that someone needs to compete with: Soladeck . . . it is a combination piece of flashing, NEMA 3R junction box, and has knock-outs in the junction box that let you create an entry into the attic. That allows for nice clean installs with no messy conduit on the roof. 3 in one: flashing, junction box, and clean/easy roof penetration.

Look at the NEMA code - DC and 48V may not need any blessing of inspectors. If you don't like the "rules" of the game - change the "game".

Another alternative POV - just do it and ask for forgiveness later.

It's not completely clear from your post if you are building a grid tie or off grid system. Though I assume that you are dealing with all these calculations to pass inspection for a grid tie system.

Otherwise who cares as long as you really know what you are doing, just do it.

On the other hand you can buy off the shelf fully integrated systems. Sun Electronics is one such place. They had their off the shelf systems specially designed for them by Dr. Roger Messenger. I had the privilege of taking a PV design and installation course under his auspices a few years back. Any system designed by him is guaranteed to pass inspection if properly installed, at least in the state of Florida.

Since there was mention of microinverters, I assume that speculawyer is building a grid tied system. That's a higher voltage than a typical off grid battery installation, thus the higher code requirements. Then too, speculawyer is in California, if my memory is correct. Cue the worn out recording about "excessive government interference". All those regulations make the local mega utility (PG&E?) happy, as it makes renewable installations more difficult...

E. Swanson

The micro-inverters are "supposed to" reduce the code compliance issues because although they bump the voltage up to 240V (for lower resistance) they put out alternating current and shouldn't sustain an arc-flash, as well as ending the DC current right there at the panel - so there are never any "always hot" lines beyond that. The moment that contact with the line is lost, the micro-inverter shuts down. So they're supposed to be code-compliance magic...apparently, that's not the case in CA.

The micro-inverters have (slightly) reduced the code complexities and requirements. But it should be more. The main problem is that the amount of requirements has grown and swamped the small amount of simplicities introduced by the microinverter.

I'm also not sure of what will happen when I submit my plans. I don't know if they are going to ask for a disconnect on the roof. They ask for that for string systems . . . they didn't ask for this back when I built my first system. It is annoying but I can see why they ask for it. But I'm wondering if they are going to ask for an AC disconnect on the roof which seems nearly pointless because shutting off the AC disconnect on the ground will de-energize everything except right behind panels.

It is a grid-tied system. I think stand alone systems are great for cabins out in the woods and people willing to maintain them. But for most people they are most hassle and more cost than they are worth. I'd rather spend the extra money on more panels.

Off-the-shelf designs will get you a head start but they are no guarantee of passing in the thousands of different planning offices around the country that all have different requirements and people that interpret them differently. Plus the rules keep changing all the time. I could probably easily list 10 different things about my previous system that would require additional things in the plans and/or would have to be changed in the design to pass muster today.

And it is funny how the changes can build on each other. For example, I had loose wires on the roof of the previous system which would have to be in conduit now. And after they started doing that, they realized that these conduits on the roof get really hot so you have to do derating calculations for the wires in the conduit on the roof.

Complexity begets complexity. Choose your complex systems carefully, lest you inherit theirs as well.

Peak cars strikes again!:


June 10, 2013, 8:41 am Comment
Exide, a Big Maker of Car Batteries, Files for Bankruptcy

Exide Technologies, a major manufacturer of car and truck batteries, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday as it sought to repair its finances amid rising costs for materials and the shutdown of an important operation.
In a court filing, the company cited the price of scrap lead in North America, which accounts for 40 percent of its costs of goods sold.

Meanwhile on the Peak Air Travel front, once again another flight has just been cancelled.
This seems to be almost normal on one leg of recent airline bookings...

Interesting article and documentary on Cuba's grappling with "Peak Oil" when it was summarily cutoff from Soviet oil supplies after the fall of the Soviet Union.


Cuba’s Other Revolution

“During the Special Period’s most difficult years, countless and creative solutions were found by our campesinos and agricultural science researchers. There was one objective and one priority: to recover our agricultural systems and produce what’s necessary to feed ourselves. However, we needed integrating and modeling concepts for the changes that were now indispensable, and we found them in agroecology.”

- Orlando Lugo-Fonte
President of the National Association of Small Farmers of Cuba (1)

Cuba is the one country in the world that has made the furthest strides, and in the shortest time, in moving from industrial conventional agricultural production to organic farming. This achievement has been celebrated and documented by numerous experts and observers, including land reform scholar Peter Rosset and agroecologist Miguel Altieri, academic bodies like the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA), and NGO’s such as Food First and the Worldwatch Institute, and have been the subject of a 2006 documentary, titled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2).

It should be noted that last time I checked Cuba has the smallest carbon footprint per capita of any nation on Earth. Partly that is due to their failure to expand Auto Addiction since the US embargo. But also their adaptation of organic agriculture may provide the World with a path to sustainable agriculture...

One, that article is posted up top. Please take a few seconds to search the page before posting article links, to make sure they haven't already been posted.

Two, there's a new Drumbeat. Check the front page once in awhile. ;-)

Here is a good U-tube documentary on the "Special Period". (53 Minutes long)

How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.