Drumbeat: June 12, 2013

Fuel-short Egypt faces long, hot summer

CAIRO (Reuters) - A gift of gas to Egypt from tiny Qatar shows just how tough this summer is shaping up to be for the government in Cairo, facing a funding crunch and power cuts as it struggles to contain explosive public discontent.

Daily blackouts have darkened homes and businesses across the country over the past few weeks, aggravated in recent days by an early summer heatwave that has Egyptians cranking up their air conditioners.

Qatar on Monday offered five cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), worth perhaps $300 million, "as a gift to the Egyptian people during the summer months".

It is a small gesture from a Gulf ally which has already lent Egypt some $7 billion in the past year but highlights how tough times are for the 84 million Egyptians.

U.S. Oil Production Rose at Record Pace on Shale, BP Review Says

U.S. oil production grew at the fastest pace since BP Plc (BP/) started keeping records in 1965 on unconventional sources such as shale and tight oil.

An increase in output of about 1 million barrels a day caused net oil imports to the U.S. to drop by 930,000 barrels a day and imports are now 36 percent below their 2005 peak, London-based BP said in its annual Statistical Review of World Energy today. The expansion of both oil and natural gas production in the U.S. was the fastest in the world last year.

The report highlights the potential scale of unconventional oil extraction, which involves fracturing underground rocks to tap resources that otherwise wouldn’t flow to the surface. These technological advances will limit the influence of OPEC as North American techniques are replicated in Russia, China and Brazil, Nansen Saleri, the former head of reservoir management at Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said yesterday.

Coal remains world's fastest growing fossil fuel: BP review

London (Platts) - Coal remained the world's fastest-growing fossil fuel in 2012, despite the rate of consumption slipping below the 10-year average of 4.4% during the year, according to the BP 2013 Statistical Review of World Energy released Wednesday.

Total global coal consumption in 2012 rose 2.5% on the year to 3.73 billion mt of oil equivalent.

Global gas consumption rises 2.2% on year to 3.3 trillion cu m: BP

London (Platts) - Global natural gas consumption rose 2.2% on the year in 2012 to 3.3 trillion cubic meters, but stayed below the historical average increase of 2.7%, while global LNG trade fell for the first time on record, BP said in its annual statistical review published Wednesday.

South and Central America, Africa and North America saw above average consumption growth, with the US recording a 4.1% rise to 722.1 billion cu m, the largest increase globally.

World Oil Market Facing Product Glut: IEA

The world is heading for a glut of refined products as new Asian and Middle East refineries increase oil processing in a move likely to force less advanced competitors in developed countries to close, the West's energy agency said on Wednesday.

OPEC Boosts Oil Production to Seven-Month High in May, IEA Says

OPEC boosted crude oil production to a seven-month high last month as output increased from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, according to the International Energy Agency.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 30.89 million barrels a day in May, up from 30.75 million in April, the Paris-based IEA said today in its monthly oil-market report. That exceeds a target of 30 million that was reaffirmed at the group’s last meeting on May 31.

IEA Cuts Demand Forecast for OPEC Crude as China Cools

The International Energy Agency trimmed demand forecasts for OPEC’s crude in the second half of the year amid signs of slowing growth in China as output from the producer group rose to a seven-month high.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will need to provide an average 29.8 million barrels a day in the second half, the IEA said today in its monthly market report, lowering its assessment from the previous report by 200,000. That would require OPEC to cut output by 1.1 million barrels from the 30.9 million it pumped in May, according to the report. The agency kept its global oil demand estimates for this year unchanged.

BP cuts global gas reserves estimate, mostly for Russia

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil major BP cut its estimates of global gas reserves steeply on Wednesday, revising Russia's still classified reserves down sharply and putting Iran at the top of the world league table.

In its benchmark annual statistical review for 2012, BP put global proven gas reserves at 187.3 trillion cubic metres as of the end of 2012, enough for about 56 years worth of global production at current rates.

BP's last report for 2011 estimated global gas reserves at 208.4 trillion. The cut of 21 trillion equals roughly to seven years of global gas consumption.

Demise of U.S. Gasoline Driving Season Is Premature, IEA Says

The traditional peak for gasoline use in the U.S. from late May to early September remains significant and suggestions that seasonality in demand has faded are premature, the International Energy Agency said.

U.S. gasoline consumption will rise by about 300,000 barrels a day this summer, known as the national driving season, the IEA said. The forecast increase will follow less pronounced seasonal growth in 2008 and 2009, when the global recession affected demand, it said.

WTI Drops a Third Day as U.S. Crude Supplies Seen Rising

West Texas Intermediate traded near its lowest closing level in three days amid signs of expanding U.S. supplies and as the International Energy Agency trimmed demand estimates for OPEC’s crude.

WTI fluctuated after losing 0.4 percent yesterday to settle at its lowest price since June 6. U.S. Energy Department data today may show crude inventories in the world’s largest oil-consuming nation dropped 1.5 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The IEA trimmed forecasts for the amount of oil OPEC needs to supply in the second half of the year on signs of slower Chinese growth.

What's behind the spike in pump prices where you are?

A lot has to do with the available refining capacity in a particular region, along with the transportation costs involved in getting fuel to the drivers who need it.

Then add state gasoline taxes which range from Alaska, where you pay only 8 cents a gallon, to New York, which tacks on 50.6 cents to the price of every gallon.

Then add the higher cost of special summer blends required by state-by-state regulations designed to reduce air pollution in warmer months. That can tighten supplies and produce spot shortages, which drive up prices. Those shortages can also crop up this time of year when refiners have to shut down to switch over from making winter fuels.

Europe-U.S. Gasoline Cargoes Seen Steady Amid Peak Demand Period

The number of gasoline cargoes booked for shipment to the U.S. from Europe will remain little changed over the next two weeks as the country’s peak demand period continues, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Traders will charter a total of 21 Medium Range tankers for loading to June 25, the median in a survey yesterday and today of seven shipbrokers and traders showed. That compares with 22 vessels, each normally carrying 37,000 metric tons of the auto fuel, in a corresponding survey last week. There are 28 ships available for the trade, 17 fewer than last week.

Ofgem to crackdown on Big Six energy suppliers in bid to cut electricity prices

Electricity prices are set to fall after the energy regulator pledged to “break the stranglehold” of the Big Six energy suppliers.

Ofgem has threatened energy firms with cash fines unless they become more transparent about wholesale prices.

Government working to make LNG cheaper fuel option

New Delhi (IANS) The government is working to make liquefied natural gas (LNG) a comparably cheaper fuel option and achieve energy security by 2030.

"Making LNG a cheaper fuel option is a great task," Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily said at the third IEF NOC-IOC forum currently underway here.

Age of discovery gives sleeping African giant reason to stir

The search for Mozambique's hydrocarbons began more than 100 years ago but it was only when oil prices began to increase steeply 20 years ago that exploration really picked up.

Discoveries by Sasol, Anadarko and Eni over the past decade raised expectations of more big finds. As new finds have been uncovered, Mozambique's energy sector has attracted the attention of companies from Asian countries where there is rapidly rising demand for gas. Some companies have opted to buy into the exploration blocks at an early stage for this reason.

Kenya refinery workers stop protest over possible closure

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Workers at east Africa's only oil refinery sited on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast ended a protest on Wednesday after a meeting was convened to reconsider the possible closure of the facility.

They had earlier barricaded the entrance to the plant over reports it may be shut due to operational difficulties caused by old age and outdated technology.

Goldman Maintains Neutral Recommendation on Commodity Prices

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. maintained its neutral recommendation on commodity prices, predicting a significant decline in agriculture in the second half of the year even if the summer weather is worse than in 2011.

Israel to keep more natural gas for domestic use -minister

(Reuters) - Israel will keep more than half of its estimated natural gas reserves for domestic use, Energy Minister Silvan Shalom said on Wednesday.

Once totally dependent on fuel imports, Israel has made the largest offshore gas discoveries in the world over the past decade off its Mediterranean coastline. It is expected to become an exporter by the end of the decade.

But Israeli leaders are struggling to find the balance between how much gas to keep and how much to export. Though Israel wants to ensure its own energy independence, without a significant export quota foreign companies have said they would not invest in further exploration because the Israeli market is too small.

Gas Adds Energy to Israeli Diplomacy Dominated by Conflicts

Israeli foreign policy, dominated by conflict with its neighbors, may be entering a new era as the country turns into a natural-gas producer.

Exploiting energy discoveries off its Mediterranean shore will require Israel to soon decide on how much it wants to export, by what means and to which markets. That’s influencing relations with Cyprus, Turkey and Lebanon, spurring concern from rival producer Russia, and attracting interest from potential customers China and South Korea.

“This a new age for Israel,” said David Wurmser, director of Washington-based Delphi Global Analysis Group. “While the quantities are still modest in global terms, Israel could strategically leverage marginal amounts of gas for major impact if it utilizes them correctly.”

Libya's Crude Oil Production Falls Amid Protests - NOC

LONDON--Libya's crude oil production has fallen below one million barrels a day amid widespread protests at terminals, the country's state oil company said Tuesday, as local managers said an Eni SpA oil field had shut down due to the unrest.

The disclosure comes after clashes left 31 people dead over the weekend in the eastern city of Benghazi, underlining the security chaos in Libya.

Iraq's Oil Plan To Rival Russia And Saudi

Iraq has announced plans to quickly boost its oil production - allowing it to beat the world's current leading oil producers.

A senior Iraqi official said his country decided to ramp up oil production within 18 months by 30%.

'No deal' in Kurdistan dispute

No agreement has been reached between Iraq and Kurdistan on payments to oil companies working in the semi-autonomous northern region despite a meeting this week between Baghdad and Kurdish leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani was reported as saying on Wednesday.

Norway awards Arctic oil licences in northwards push

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway awarded 24 oil and gas exploration licences on Wednesday, mostly in the Arctic Barents Sea, potentially offering some impetus to a northward push in the search for energy that has been held back by rising costs and taxes.

It granted licences to 29 companies, including international majors Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips , Total and local heavyweight Statoil, in hopes of reviving oil production that is on course to fall to a 25-year low this year.

Undervalued Coal Leases Seen as Costing Taxpayers

WASHINGTON — The Interior Department is failing to collect tens of millions of dollars in lease payments for coal mining on federal lands, according to an agency inspector general’s report released Tuesday.

The study found that the Bureau of Land Management was improperly applying its own rules for assessing the fair market value of minerals beneath federally owned lands, shortchanging the government and providing a bonanza for a handful of large coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin of the Mountain West.

Indonesia Plan for Higher Coal Royalties to Hurt Low Rank Miners

Indonesia, the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal, proposed doubling royalties for some miners next year, threatening margins at companies that produce about 20 percent of the nation’s supplies.

The plan to raise charges to between 10 percent and 13 percent will apply to coal producers with permits issued by local authorities known as Ijin Usaha Pertambangan licenses, or IUPs, Susilo Siswoutomo, the deputy energy minister, told reporters yesterday. The proposal was first made last year.

Energy Dept. payments to ex-congresswoman questioned

A former congresswoman's consulting business reaped almost a half-million dollars from the Energy Department for questionable work, according to a new inspector general's audit.

Officials at two of the department's facilities — Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Nevada National Security Site — said there were "no deliverables" associated with their payments to former Rep. Heather Wilson's company, Heather Wilson and Co., according to the report.

Supporting Oil and Gas, but Resisting Encroachment

In the depths of the recession, a new wave of drilling took hold across farm fields and the high plains, helping to revive the city’s straggling economy. Unemployment is still stuck at 7.5 percent, but is down from highs of more than 10 percent. And local officials estimate that one in nine jobs is somehow tied to the drilling boom. Homes are selling again, and hotels are nearly full.

“We had better occupancy than Vail did during the ski season,” said Greeley’s mayor, Tom Norton.

But this spring, an energy company proposed sinking 16 wells next to a neighborhood of winding cul-de-sacs, pastel homes and the Family FunPlex recreation center. And in this energy-friendly town, an unlikely resistance was born.

“These wells are going to be here for a long time,” said Wendy Highby, a librarian at the University of Northern Colorado who joined a group of residents to oppose the project. “They’re what we’re leaving to our children.”

Recycled Coal Plant Waste Cleans Up Oil Spills

When Sudipta Seal and his co-principal investigator Larry Hench applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation, their goal was to create a material that could remove large volumes of oil from seawater economically and using a process that would be completely green.

In July 2010, Seal and Hench received a Rapid Response Grant from NSF’s Division of Materials Research to develop a novel process for treating fly ash — a by-product of burning coal — to absorb oil.

Iran denies malfunction at nuclear power plant

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman is denying reports that the country's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant has suffered a malfunction.

Atomic Power’s Green Light or Red Flag

WAYNESBORO, Ga. — The two nuclear reactors rising out of the red Georgia clay here, twin behemoths of concrete and steel, make up one of the largest construction projects in the United States and represent a giant bet that their cost — in the range of $14 billion — will be cheaper than alternatives like natural gas.

But something else is at stake with the reactors called Vogtle 3 and 4: the future of the American nuclear industry itself.

GM slashes Chevy Volt prices to spur flagging sales

With signs that sales of its Chevrolet Volt battery car could be coming unplugged, General Motors is offering potential buyers as much as $5,000 in incentives – making it the latest maker to try to cut prices in a bid to boost lagging demand for electric vehicles.

Whether the move will work remains to be seen, as GM has already trimmed the price on the Volt plug-in hybrid. But rival Nissan has had some clear success after cutting the price on its own Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, earlier this year.

9 questions for Tesla's Elon Musk

Is Musk the next Henry Ford -- or Preston Tucker? By getting Tesla into production with a saleable car designed from the ground up, he's already gone further in the auto business than many people expected (see Henrik Fisker), but Tesla's stratospheric rise has generated heated debate on websites like Seeking Alpha and Motley Fool as to whether it can continue to expand at its current rate.

'Revival of the Silk Road': Kazakhs launch China-Europe rail route

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan has launched a new transit railway linking China to Europe, aiming to beat rival routes for journey time in the competition to handle a growing flow of goods along the ancient Silk Road trade route.

"Kazakhstan is a virtual bridge linking the East and the West," Yerkin Meirbekov, deputy railway department chief at Kazakhstan's Transport Ministry, said in an interview. "You can actually say this is the revival of the Silk Road."

Bike Sharing in New York: The Tourist’s Perspective

When New York’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, announced plans for the city’s bike-sharing program at a 2011 press conference she called it “a fast, easy, affordable way to get around town.”

So now that the program has kicked off with 6,000 cobalt-blue Citi Bikes at 300 locations south of 59th Street in Manhattan, and in parts of Brooklyn, how fast, easy and affordable is it?

Merkel vows to rein in renewable subsidies

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised on Wednesday to scale back Germany's generous system of subsidies to the renewables sector if she is re-elected in September, a move that would reduce the costs of her green revolution on consumers.

Merkel's policy to wean Europe's biggest power market off fossil fuels and to embrace renewables has led to a boom in green energy sources, but ballooning costs have led to calls for cuts to feed-in tariffs and for industry to pay more.

"Dealing with the renewable energy reform is the most urgent of the energy topics, in my view," Merkel told a conference of the BDEW utility industry group.

Kuwait Invites Bids for Clean-Energy Park to Save Oil for Export

Kuwait invited proposals for the first phase of a renewable-energy park as it plans to generate 15 percent of its electricity from sustainable sources by 2030.

Only prequalified groups will be eligible to bid for the 70 megawatts of projects, said Salem Al-Hajraf, executive director of the energy research center at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. They include eight groups for a solar-thermal plant, 13 for a photovoltaic site and 16 for wind farms.

Kuwait, the third-biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is investing in alternative energy to save more crude for export. The Arab state, which doesn’t yet generate any power from clean sources, will produce 1 percent from renewables after building the park’s first phase.

Skidmore College proposes solar farm on Greenfield site

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College has drawn up plans for a 6,950-panel solar farm that would supply 12 percent of the campus’ energy, proposing to place the array on a Greenfield site owned by the college.

Why One Child Is Enough for Me—and Might Be for You

At that conference, a young researcher named Anna Baranowska presents a paper giving additional heft to the finding that one child may maximize personal happiness. The first child tends to spike happiness in a parent, she declared, while every subsequent child lowers it. In fact, social scientists have surmised since the 1970s that singletons offer the rich experience of parenting without the consuming efforts that multiple children add: all the miracles and shampoo mohawks but with leftover energy for sex and conversation. The research of Hans-Peter Kohler, a professor of demography at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jere Berman, a professor of economics, gives weight to that idea. In their much-discussed analysis of a survey of 35,000 Danish twins, women with one child said they were more satisfied with their lives than women with none or more than one. As Kohler tells me, “At face value, you should stop at one child to maximize your subjective well-being.”

Chinese parents left childless do battle against one-child policy

Zhang feels the government has not kept the promise it made when it adopted the one-child policy: that the government would take on the role of the children who would not be there, caring for parents in their old age. The government even popularized a slogan at the time: “One child is good. The government will take care of you in your later life.”

Under the current policy, Zhang is given $22 a month from the government in compensation for her son’s death – a sum that could not even pay her monthly Internet fee. The monthly compensation for parents varies for the different provinces from $16 to $32

With their children gone, elderly parents who are unable to care for themselves are faced with another cruel irony: a signature from offspring is a requirement for admittance to a nursing home in China. Despite promises from the Ministry of Civil Affairs Beijing bureau last year that the policy would be amended, it remains unchanged. For instance, if someone wanted to check in to one of Beijing’s 400 public or private nursing homes, they would need a signature from their children.

In Fields and Hives, Zooming In on What Ails Bees

If bees were to disappear from the globe, mankind would have four years left to live. That assertion, attributed to Albert Einstein but perhaps apocryphal, is voiced in “More Than Honey,” a fascinating but rambling documentary about the decimation of the world’s bee population through the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

Our Guts May Hate Mars

Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, says that soil bacteria also enhance the quality of the foods grown in it. For instance, some of the microbes attack the plants. That may sound like a bad thing, but in fighting off those assaults, the plants generate compounds that are beneficial to human health, such as antioxidants. What it comes down to is this: Among other functions, good soil has bad bacteria that make plants do good things. We may be able to replicate some of these functions with technology, but if we don’t know all of the things that soil does, we may miss something important.

Martian colonists could probably live for years on food grown without soil. The question is, could they live on it for decades? Could their children grow up on it? Are there hidden hazards that would not become apparent until much later? To put these questions another way: Can we identify and reproduce the ecosystem services of Earth for a lifetime?

Big Oil won't change its ways until citizens get involved

In May, the frightening truth became ever clearer - life as we know it on this planet is in trouble. But ExxonMobil's leadership continues to keep its head in the sand. The carbon dioxide (CO²) concentration in the Earth's atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.

With recent monster tornadoes and floods and last year's fires and drought, we don't need scientists to tell us we are beyond the tipping point for climate catastrophe.

Big Green, Not Big Oil, is the Enemy

It has the power to ruin economies, impoverish countless millions and leave many of us, quite literally, in the dark and cold. We are not talking about alarmist theories of what the future climate may do. We are talking about what the current and ubiquitous green agenda is doing.

Other than food, no commodity is as important to the world as energy. Yet, because of angst-ridden theoretical speculation – note: not empirical science – the modern green agenda has effected an intellectual disconnect. It is a disconnect that has seen eco-theories eclipse energy realities such that national leaders, industry executives and even reasonable people are not engaging in rational debate let alone action.

EU Should Move Beyond Carbon Market to Shut Coal, IEA Says

The European Union needs to think of other ways to prevent new coal-fired power stations from being built because its carbon market won’t achieve that this decade, according to the International Energy Agency.

Nations should consider measures including bans of new and inefficient plants known as “sub-critical,” unless they are fitted with carbon capture and storage technology, Maria Van der Hoeven, the executive director of the Paris-based agency that advises 28 developed nations, said today in a London interview.

Tougher Regulations Seen From Obama Change in Carbon Cost

Buried in a little-noticed rule on microwave ovens is a change in the U.S. government’s accounting for carbon emissions that could have wide-ranging implications for everything from power plants to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The increase of the so-called social cost of carbon, to $38 a metric ton in 2015 from $23.80, adjusts the calculation the government uses to weigh costs and benefits of proposed regulations. The figure is meant to approximate losses from global warming such as flood damage and diminished crops.

U.S.-China climate deal called "breakthrough" but no long-term cuts yet

(Reuters) - China and the United States took a major step in the fight against climate change over the weekend, but what was termed a "breakthrough" might not do much in the longer term to lock in legally binding carbon emission cuts from the world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Still, environmental groups and some U.S. and global policymakers said the agreement could give fresh momentum to the United Nations' arduous process of finalizing a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by 2015.

US-China climate deal was long in the works

WASHINGTON (AP) — Disparate interests ranging from environmental activists to businesses and industry are lining up to support a first-of-its-kind deal between the U.S. and China to phase out a chemical blamed for climate change.

Although it took most proponents by surprise, the deal was in the bag before President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at the California desert retreat where they announced it over the weekend. And for China, it came only after a change in financial incentives made it more lucrative to get on board than to continue holding out.

Who Is Fooling Who When It Comes to Combating Climate Change?

Here's the scam. A Chinese company manufactures hydrofluorocarbons, the refrigerant gases responsible for the ozone hole and climate change. The gases can efficiently be turned into cash, either by using them in products like refrigerators or air conditioners or, more lucratively, by destroying them. In the early part of the last decade, Chinese manufacturers of HFCs made more and more of them--more than necessary for use even in the rapidly growing Communist country--because the international market for buying and selling the right to pollute with greenhouse gases awarded credits for their destruction. The gas could be made more cheaply--and then destroyed--than the carbon credits that resulted from their destruction were worth. All told, Chinese manufacturers netted billions of dollars in profits from an international effort meant to pay for developing countries to reduce pollution via projects such as preventing forests from being cut down or building more expensive renewable energy projects.

So when the Chinese agree to phase out HFCs, as their President Xi Jinping apparently did with U.S. President Barack Obama, they should be applauded--and shamed. Such cons are the most insidious reason why the world is not on track to restrain global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, and could see average temperatures more than 5 degrees C higher if more efforts are not made.

Montreal Protocol shows way for climate action

(Reuters) - A new deal to curb carbon emissions could copy features from the Montreal Protocol, which the United States and China favoured over its Kyoto counterpart in an agreement on greenhouse gases at the weekend.

The 1987 Montreal agreement bans chemicals that destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) formerly used as refrigerants and propellants in aerosol sprays, while the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is meant to curb greenhouse gases.

New York lays out $20 billion plan to adapt to climate change

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday announced a $20 billion plan to prepare for rising sea levels and hotter summers expected as a result of climate change in the coming decades.

The ambitious proposal - which could become the benchmark for other cities dealing with climate change - could reshape Lower Manhattan's waterfront, with the possible addition of a "Seaport City" out of the East Side.

The more than 400-page plan, which follows widespread destruction wreaked by Superstorm Sandy last year, included about 250 recommendations ranging from new floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades of power and telecommunications infrastructures.

Deadly Heat Waves Intensify as Summers Sizzle

No one ever should die from heat. But every year, about 650 Americans do — a death toll greater than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined. And, in a deadly harbinger of what is worse to come, a new study shows that heat deaths are on the rise.

Tanzania: Zanzibar's Encroaching Ocean Means Less Water

The AAP, a climate change programme implemented in 21 African countries, aims to assist Tanzania with the development of climate-smart policies and climate change adaptation projects.

Meanwhile, the 15,000 people from Nungwi village now have access to water 24 hours a day, which can be sourced from taps and reservoir tanks.

Why Humanity Is More Vulnerable to the Power of the Ocean Than Ever Before

We're in for environmental refugee crises.

Re: Deadly Heat Waves Intensify as Summers Sizzle

Just yesterday, the temperatures seen in Colorado set new record highs. Jeff Masters' commentary this morning tells us that:

Destructive wildfires erupted in three locations in drought-baked Colorado on Tuesday, fanned by strong winds and the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the state so early in the year. The mercury soared to 100°F in Denver on Tuesday, their earliest 100° day on record (previous earliest 100° day: June 14, 2006, 102°.) It was the second consecutive day Denver recorded its hottest temperature for so early in the year. At Lamar in Southeast Colorado, the mercury soared to 111°, just one degree below their hottest temperature ever measured, and 3° shy of the all-time hottest temperature ever measured in Colorado, the 114° reading in Sedgwick on July 11, 1954. The most destructive fire in Colorado Tuesday was the Black Forest fire burning near Colorado Springs. The fire destroyed over 60 buildings and forced the evacuation of several thousand people. The fire was aided by nearly ideal conditions on Tuesday afternoon--Colorado Springs hit 97° (only the 2nd time the city has been that hot this early in the year), with sustained winds of 29 mph gusting to 36 mph, and a humidity of 4%. Colorado Springs is under extreme drought. [emphasis added]

One can only hope that last summer's drought won't appear again this summer...

E. Swanson


Actually I do hope for several years in succession of severe drought and heat waves.

A few hundred thousand climate refugees from New Orleans had no impact - likewise Sandy, but perhaps a few million from the "Drought Belt", including a million ro so of Sen. Inhoefe's constituents, will make an impact.

"Too expansive" to do anything, even after they accept reality ? Easy to say when it is someone else.

This will happen, sooner or later, and far better that it be sooner in my "real politik" opinion.

Best Hopes for the Okies, Texies, et al,


But it won't just be droughts and heat waves, it will be those combined with storms or floods or something in almost every area. I'm not sure there will be anywhere for the refugees to go.

Yes that is a limiting factor..the carrying capacity of areas is a factor that not being considered very much...When I was in college I worked at a restaurant in Ms and all the lettuce that we sold plus a lot of vegetables came from California year round! This was in 96' and I thought that was crazy. I now live in Mt and most of our food here is being imported. Without cheap energy can you put people up high in the mountains and low in the deserts and still feed large populations? Cheap energy has allowed large populations to live in areas that would have been uninhabitable. Individualism does not work when there are limited resources and that has been beaten into us in the states for so many generations...

Energy allows you to put people in inhospitable places. Cheap energy subsidizes it.

Not Like My Father’s

I heard a lecture recently talking about climate change and farming. The speaker made the comment that the climate was changing fast enough that a family farmer could not count on the weather being the same as his father’s.

I learned that in recent years, heavy spring rains had been inhibiting spring planting. There have been problems with getting heavy equipment into the field. The amount of time where the soil moisture is right for both holding up the equipment and providing a good seedbed is becoming shorter (news link). The likelihood of seedlings being washed out by intense rains is increasing. Curiously to me, one response to this has been to build still bigger equipment so that more can be planted in the shorter amount of time that is available.

What I described in the previous paragraph is not something that is projected for the future; it is already happening. Farmers and manufacturers see what is happening, and they adapt. This adaptation to perceived changes is real, costly and much more concrete than the abstract threats of more drought and more flood. Another real issue that we already respond to is the warm spell in spring that causes budburst of orchards, followed by a freeze that wipes out a crop.

Events such as the wet spring, bud burst and crop loss, flooding out of a crop are not new to farmers. What is new is how often such events are happening. It is also new that the places where the events are occurring are changing.

Britain'swheat crop 'down by third after extreme weather'

Britain's wheat harvest this year could be almost 30% smaller than it was last year because of extreme weather, the National Farmers' Union has warned.

In a snapshot poll, it found a smaller area was planted last autumn because of the wet soil conditions. "Our poll is a snapshot, but it is extremely worrying that the planted area remaining viable for 2013 harvest on those farms looks set to be 29% smaller than last year. If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row.

Most of the UK's wheat crop is harvested between July and September and last year's harvest had lower volumes and quality because of weather extremes, with months of drought followed by downpours and flooding.

Earlier this year, breakfast cereal producer Weetabix said it would have to temporarily scale back production of some of its products because of the poor wheat harvest.

I am just an onlooker, but this has been the identical trend in all details including equipment here in NE England / Scottish Border. Last year was the worst that I can remember over 30 years (the planting and harvesting windows were very short) but intensity and frequency of floods has been going up this last 10 years. This year looks better,despite the very slow cool Spring and the current dry spell, but who knows, and we are in a temperate climate moderated by the ocean with few 'extremes'.

Err ... I had not seen that British NFU statement when I was writing a moment ago. It looks like I live in a favoured area this year! Goodness knows what the appalling Spring and floods have done to farming in Germany and Central Europe just now.

Was that flat spot from June 5 to June 9 all the spring runoff Lake Mead is going to get this year?


Water flow data is always interesting... Check the equivalent site for Powell:


Worrisome (?) is that snowpack is 43% of average.

I'm really starting to suspect we've begun a stage where we will be continually pummeled by a variety of climate change driven weather disasters. No region seems immune, but the manifestations are of every conceivable extreme. This will regularly damage infrastructure in almost every region and add an element of chaos to everything. For a long time I've wondered which consequence of having discovered and used the stored solar energy of fossil fuels would have the biggest, earliest impact. I'm starting to think it will be climate change.

Whilst I agree that things are changing, I think we need to be a bit less hyper about our claims. Deniers can, and do, note that we have no real records of weather (aside from TR data on drought/extreme cold) on which to base a statement that anything new is happening.

The best way to convey the facts is to state a theory about climate change that would be verified by a given weather event. Since climate is only marginally like weather, it would be trends over extended time period that would show the impact of AGW. After all, we had a very cool spring in my neck of the woods, and yet no one should claim that this shows global cooling.


Hey Craig,

Not to claim this is climate change...but, we are definitely seeing a climate 'timing shift of seasons' where I live on the BC Coast. (East Coast of Vancouver Island) For the last 15 years springs are wetter with rain lasting well into the supposed summer. Late summer is drier and the extreme dry conditions can last through October. We know this because we keep very close track on when we plant our gardens. It was always traditional to plant the main warm weather crops on the May 24th (Queen Victoria's birthday)long weekend. Now, it is usually too cold and wet and often requiring replanting. I used my woodstove this morning to take the damp chill off.

The water table is dropping due to a neighbour tearing out some beaver dams, but the ground is cold and wet.


Yo, Paul,

No doubt there is change a-comin'. The real problem seems to be conveying that the 'global weirding' we are seeing is caused by anthropomorphic phenomena and is not simply part of a normal and natural cycle.

Of course the worst aspect is that no one really can demonstrate what the consequences will be since we have never done anything like this before. We are all now part of an insane experiment that could result in tragic losses. And, even if the possibility of such are in low ranges, say 10%-15%, it is truly insane to continue the experiment, particularly since we have no back up plan when things get out of hand.

A strange species, homo sapiens sapiens. I wonder if they'll be missed. I wonder if there will be any species remaining to miss them.


Ah well...

I've always wanted to be part of a grand experiment. I didn't think it would include the whole world, but I'll take what I can get.

There will be interesting times ahead.

The best way to convey the facts is to state a theory about climate change that would be verified by a given weather event

What about the ice floating in the Arctic Ocean melting ?


That would, indeed, seem a better example of the impact than localized weather events or single year weather statistics.

I would prefer: Theory: AGW will cause arctic sea ice to melt. Fact: yearly increase in melting of sea ice. The theory would be validated each year that similar event occurs. By extending through several periods where natural events would indicate cooling and greater freezing should take place, yet did not, such fact would strengthen that portion of the theory.

Question: Is it good or is it bad? Lately the deniers are more likely to shrug their shoulders and say, "[W]ell, maybe there is warming, and maybe it is caused or contributed to by man, but it is a good thing, not bad." When shown how some species are dying off, they shrug again and say, "Well, it is still good for us since it means better climate for green growing things."

There is no end to rationalization, especially when you are paid to do it.


I'm not sure where you got the idea that the opinion I stated was based on local conditions or a single year's history.

The evidence to back up the theories is all over, and I don't think that's a role for an electrical engineer. I can however observe what is happening.

You look out the window. You observe weather. You do so over several years, and conclude what you see is a trend. It might be, or not. Climatology is a science, and folks who are involved in that study for years, and use the scientific method to formulate their theories, assess their results, and submit to peer reviewed publications when they think they have been successful.

Other scientists question, reformulate and test the theories submitted. After years of study, some consensus can result, and has, as to the place of human enterprise relative to atmospheric CO2, global warming, and other relevant matters.

Over generalization, use of hyperbole and the like do not help, and in fact hinder, dissemination of information in the field. I make no claim to be a climate scientist; I do, however, make a claim to be a skeptic, and insist in some rigor in important arenas, as I believe climate to be.

My point is that, in the interest of being a help, we should be more cautious in expressing our often very strong beliefs, be they in the field of Peak Oil, Climate Change, sustainability, or whatever. I recognize many on TOD are 'doomers' (tend to be so myself in many ways); prefer to stand back, though, and watch a bit more on this particular venue. Our antagonists are very well financed and will use hyperbolic rhetoric against us.


My comments had very little to do with what I observed out my own window, and a lot to do with what I have read and studied about the various climate change driven weather disasters all over the world. This has been documented by climate researchers and weather experts alike.

That is what informed my statement, and I reject your total mis-characterisation of what I wrote. Severe weather events are happening all over the world, and it is clear what is driving it. I'm not at all sure what you're on about here.

Hi, Twi. Whilst we appear to be on the same page vis-à-vis climate change, my comment involves the use of universals:

... we will be continually pummeled by a variety of climate change driven weather disasters. No region seems immune, but the manifestations are of every conceivable extreme. This will regularly1 damage infrastructure in almost every region and add an element of chaos to everything.

1The use of 'regularly' is okay, IMO, whilst 'always' would not be

Logically, to refute any of those universal statements, only a single outlier need be cited. Your assertion that no region seems immune is refuted, for example, in the next sentence where you say, "almost every region." Since the denial group know this, they use these statements, with the well documented outlier, to refute all climate change science. That is why I urge all to be cautious in their remarks... Science is never all or none. It is always subject to change. Why make it any easier for anti-science/pseudo science?


You are going awfully hard after what is basically style. I was clearly offering opinion, and quite obviously cannot know if exactly every region will be hit, how hard or by what.

The point I was making is that in my opinion climate change driven severe weather events will be regularly hitting almost every area, that the specific events will vary from floods and storm to fires and droughts (and many more), and that the accumulated effects of this may become the earliest and most significant impact of our exploitation of fossil fuels.

Personally, I think I communicated that clearly and fairly briefly, while your much more verbose and picky critique of style distracted from the actual point of what I was saying. Maybe it's a difference in what we're trying to accomplish - I really care little what the deniers think as I recognize their denial as an emotional/social issue and I know that nothing we say, or the way in which we say it, will have any impact on them. Their denial is not based on a lack of understanding of the issues or a failure to communicate clearly - it is because they do not want to accept the information.

Well there is a reason it is called climate change and not global warming....and I think even the right wingers that I know believe it is happening now...the problem is that it was presented wrong early on by the likes of Al Gore etc....Again the northern hemisphere of the United States could get a lot colder along with europe..that might scare some people more than global warming. I have friends all over the country and the world and they agree that the weather is strange maybe that is our "window" or maybe it is the internet...

Unusually Massive Line of Storms Could Spawn Rare Derecho

Meteorologists are tracking a so-called derecho weather pattern in the Midwest that could spawn severe windstorms in several major metropolitan areas, with gusts as strong as 100 mph. The gigantic line of powerful thunderstorms could affect 1 in 5 Americans on Wednesday as it rumbles from Iowa to Maryland packing hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds.

The risk of severe weather in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, is roughly 45 times higher than on a normal June day, Bunting said. Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky., have a risk level 15 times more than normal. All told, the area the weather service considers to be under heightened risk of dangerous weather includes 64 million people in 10 states.

The storms are the type that will move so fast that “by the time you see the dark sky and distant thunder you may have only minutes to get to safe shelter,” Bunting said.

We had a derecho last year. Maybe they're not as rare as they used to be.

Maybe not so rare indeed. Related ...


A significant severe weather outbreak appears increasingly likely across portions of the upper Midwest/lower Great Lakes from this afternoon through this evening. Intense storm development in a very unstable airmass ... coincident with a compact and intensifying surface low should result in numerous damaging wind events as well as scattered...possibly strong tornadoes.

… Given degree of capping and magnitude of instability...expect potentially explosive storm development to occur in the presence of modest to locally strong storm-relatively helicity /srh/. Any convection initiating near the surface low and front will quickly acquire supercell characteristics given degree of effective vertical shear of 35-55kt. Potentially strong tornado threat may be maximized during this early development phase /21z-00z/ near the low and front while storms remain discrete amidst high instability and effective srh in excess of 200 m2/s2.

Organizing influence of the deepening surface cyclone rippling east along the warm/quasi-stationary front...in concert with 50-60kt middle-level jet streak directed preferentially into/across the developing mass of convection suggests upscale progressive mesoscale convective system /possible derecho/ evolution through the evening hours. Given antecedent airmass characteristics...strength of large scale forcing...and depiction of current conditions...relatively high confidence exists in a number of storm-scale model simulations showing mesoscale convective system/derecho evolution within the high risk area through the evening hours.

Years ago, (when such events were still rare?), I watched one arriving at Aurora, Illinois from the northwest. It was like a sidewise tornado. The closest analogy I could use to the appearance at the leading edge was what you see as a snowplow moves rapidly into a field of loose snow. It was like a huge cliff of clouds, rising very rapidly, and came in at about 75 mph. Lost a few trees and many branches. It was very wide. I was elevated somewhat and had about a 12 mile view, and it extended across that from side to side.

We'd better hope that they remain rare.


I was elevated somewhat and had about a 12 mile view, and it extended across that from side to side.

Goodness, I hope it set you down safely! ;)

WeatherDude on DailyKos says

Several derechos happen every summer, mainly along the top edge of heat waves in the Midwest and Great Lakes region. In the DC area they happen once every 4 or 5 years. Across the country, there are numerous derechos every year (and even more mesoscale convective systems that are destructive but don't reach the criterion to be called a derecho).

A derecho is a line of storms 240 miles long causing constant wind damage. WeatherDude comments:

The term "derecho" is a very specific term that's usually assigned to a damaging line of storms after the fact, once all the wind damage reports come in and one can see that the system met the "240 miles of constant wind damage" requirement, only then can it truly be called a derecho. However, after the one that tore through Chicago to DC last summer and left millions without power for weeks, the term "derecho" has entered the public vocabulary as any bad line of storms, regardless.

WeatherDude is a college student who watches severe weather using National Weather Service data and others. He's nonhysterical (unlike the WeatherChannel), and interacts with posters on DailyKos and his Facebook page. I check with him when there's severe weather pending,.

While the Denver Post had a big article on the record heat and fires, they never mention global warming or climate change. One suspects they have an editorial policy never to mention global warming a a possible cause.


Capacity 9 million tonnes annually


Why not just build pipelines to Watar, or even Iran.

The UAE also has 4 new nuclear reactors under construction.


Two answers from Tesla owners to a question posed on the CNN article.

7. Can you bring down the price of batteries far enough to build a $40,000 car?

- [Tesla] are assuming batteries will continue to get something like 10% cheaper per year. A smaller car will require a smaller battery... The model S has either a 60 kWh or 85 kWh battery. That is MUCH larger than the 24 kWh battery in the LEAF or the 16.5 kWh battery in the Volt or the 20.1 kWh battery in the Fisker Karma.

- Yes. Lithium Ion battery technology is improving at 7%-8% a year. With no tech breakthrough, that's 50% in 5 years compounded. Gen 3 car is 20% lighter/smaller, expect 200 miles range on about a 40-45 KWh battery. Right now, 60KWh Model S base prices at $62,400 after tax credit, $69,900 without. Battery improvements and volume will do it.

It seems to me the future is out of Tesla's hands and depends crucially on the battery manufacturers continuing to make performance gains.

My guess is there's some sort of tipping point. Once a battery is available which meets certain minimum parameters, there will be a rush of electric cars coming onto the market from many manufacturers.

Any ideas what is required and when it will happen?

So if battery technology keeps improving in a few years they'll be able to make a $40,000 small car with a 200mi range? I wonder if that is after government incentives, and if it will be after the auto loan financial bubble pops?

These guys at talking about under 20K for a 200 mile range car, maybe 15K after incentives. http://enviasystems.com/innovation/ But, I don't see any press releases in over a year from them. There is a lot of work going on in batteries, it's likely someone will find a way to get the cost down. An electric car is lower cost then an ICE except, for the batteries.

The leaf is currently under 20K counting all the incentives. It's range isn't 200, but the price point is getting interesting. Next year, they will all be offering wireless inductive chargers. You just park over a charging plate. Personally, that's an important feature, I don't like the idea of plugging in every night.

Yeah, this is a tricky area. I'm clearly a supporter of EVs but I am also dedicated to facts and reality. I don't think that battery prices will drop as fast as many people want or hope.

And that is where Peak Oil comes in. Over time, the peak oil dynamic will cause oil prices to inevitably continue going up. When you have a finite commodity in high demand that we literally burn up, it is just an inevitable fact that the price will rise. And thus, although I doubt we will see the dramatic battery price drops that people would like, electric vehicles will eventually become the more economically desirable option due to higher gas prices.

Of course, I hope to be proven wrong . . . there are various battery ideas that could possibly become breakthroughs if they figure out how to do them cheaply and reliably. But I tend to take conservative views on the advancement of technology unless there is a hard scientific/engineering roadmap.

electric vehicles will eventually become the more economically desirable option due to higher gas prices.

Those higher oil prices will have serious effects on the economy in general, and just because something is desirable does not mean it will be affordable/viable in such an environment.

Yes its likely to be a trade-off.
I wonder what spending cuts people will be prepared to make to keep their cars (ICE/EV) ?

Obviously it very much depends on individual needs and circumstances. For me, it would be very hard to give up my car simply because its just so damn convenient.

What do Australians really spend their money on? (accessible text version) (moneysmart)

Australian averages (per week):

$223 - current housing costs
$193 - transport costs
$161 - recreation costs
$59 - household furnishing & equipment
$44 - clothing & footware

My guess is that recreation might suffer the most.

Its interesting to note that spending on Alcohol is approx the same as spending on household Fuel & Power.
One wonders whether spending less on (inappropriate) Food & Drink might also reduce Medical (obesity) costs - synergistic benefit.

Higher oil prices should grow the American economy, assuming consumers react by reducing consumption. The growth would come from increased net exports.

I tend to agree.
I keep an open mind when it comes to EV battery technology. Its impossible to say just how low the prices will go. Breakthroughs are certainly possible, but cant be relied upon. Incremental improvement seems more likely to me. Cautiously optimistic is how I see it (combined with a dose of reality when it comes to scale).

Currently lifetime ownership costs for battery electric (BEV) and plug in hybrid cars (PHEV) are around the same as conventional cars according to the ERPI.
You can find the report on the first page of Green Car Congress - awaiting moderation makes linking rather tedious.

So essentially if the performance is OK, and you can already use a PHEV wherever you can use a conventional car, then the economics are OK, although at the moment they have a subsidy.
Dropping costs will at absolute minimum counteract the removal of subsidy, with GM for instance saying that by 2015 when they release a Volt II they will have taken thousands out of the cost.

VW are going the PHEV route, with several models coming out over the next few years, with a Golf one of the first, but Audi's and others as well.
They have already completely re-engineered their platforms, so that their new MQB platform can take a host of different drive trains without major modifications.
So they can economically do relatively small runs of Natural gas, electric, PHEV and fuel cell cars.

Mitsubishi is also altering emphasis to the PHEV route from batteries, with their Outlander PHEV selling well in Japan, and due in the US next year, so that a small PHEV SUV will be available.

So for PHEVs we are more or less ready to go with current batteries.

BEVs, Tesla aside, have progressed rather slower than many had hoped, with Toyota for instance downrating their IQ EV to a compliance car only.
They are emphasising much, much better solid state batteries for the long term.
Getting to those sort of levels is not a matter of simply awaiting regular 8% increments in performance to occur, but relies on breakthroughs which cannot be fully predicted.

So the BEV market, pending such breakthroughs, remains dependent on people being willing to accept range limitations, at costs less than the top Tesla.

That is why Toyota, together with almost every other manufacturer, is turning to fuel cells.

We know we can do them, and get good performance at a cost which is reducing more reliably than batteries are improving.

Infrastructure is the main issue, with things like low temperature performance and durability having largely been overcome, and cost well on its way to being so.

Battery only advocates make a number of claims about fuel cells which are not sustainable.
Energy use for instance is not much different between batteries and fuel cells, with both using around 1MJ/mile well to wheels, at the average efficiency of the US grid and assuming hydrogen from natural gas.

Advocates of natural gas instead of fuel cells are using it with around half the efficiency of using fuel cells and hydrogen, even after reforming losses if the hydrogen is obtained by reforming the natural gas.

Just like electricity, hydrogen can be obtained from a host of sources, and indeed in Germany for instance is regarded as essential to store the variable output on wind and solar.

The 'when' is dependent as much on oil prices as battery and other technologies now, as the building blocks are in place, unlike, say, in 1973, when it was petrol or walk.

This site has argued, correctly in my view, that at least conventional oil will peak (has peaked)

Arguments that there is also peaking on energy in general are much less firmly based, and not inferable from the original peak oil arguments of Hubbard, who postulated no peak for energy in general, at least at anything like present energy use, as he thought that nuclear power would do the job just fine.

Fossil fuels in general are clearly closer to peaking than solar or nuclear, but even there the boundaries are much less clear than for oil.

So, in a very long winded way, I am saying that we are there as far as PHEVs are concerned, and both fuel cells and BEVs are far advanced and we are unlikely to have to walk instead of ride on the basis of a Hubbertian analysis.

More general and more philosophical speculations such as Limits to Growth and the writings of Tainter are a different matter, but are quite separate to the close argument and methodology that Hubbert provided for peak oil.

I don't think EVs will ever see the numbers that the ICE was able to achieve. While the price/performance characteristics of batteries will likely improve over the foreseeable future, the amount of net BTUs available to society will not. In other words, I expect that famous VMT chart we've all seen to continue declining. This is the heart of the argument of the "Go Local" movement; the days of frantically moving stuff and people all over the country (and the world) are coming to an end. Unfortunately, our infrastructure and built environment is ill-suited to this reality.

So the answer to the question of what is required is a new and currently unknown energy source. At the moment I don't see that ever happening.

This leads me to conclude the future looks a lot more medieval in its structure, but with an unimaginable array of tech gadgets powered by low-density renewables.

Your argument that the net energy available to society will decrease is quite separate to Hubbertian analysis of peak oil.

Quite why we should need some new energy source is also unclear, since nuclear is around 1 million times as dense as fossil fuels, and can be accessed in many ways, many of which have significantly lower risk than present LWR and BWR technologies.

It should also be noted that whatever some think are the theoretical risks of nuclear in practise its civil use has resulted in remarkably few casualties, including Chernobyl and Fukeshima, and certainly nothing remotely like the several million a year death toll confirmed from air pollution alone from fossil fuels.

In any case risk of nuclear accidents is a very different argument to running out of energy, however regrettable they may be.

Many think that solar does not have the supposed draw backs of nuclear, and in any case whatever its demerits that is certainly not going to run out for a few billion years.

The fuel needs to run the US fleet electrically are actually quite modest, around 100GWe, or around the size of the present nuclear fleet, or one fifth of US base load capacity.

In many areas of the US quite modest solar arrays of ~0.5kw actual, perhaps 2-2.5kw nominal, can cover running an electric car.

So it would seem that whatever other grounds you may have for some sort of die off/return to immobile simplicity, they are based neither on Hubbert's arguments for peak oil, nor in fact from any fundamental shortage of energy sources which, whatever their other defects, aren't going to run out anytime soon.

Of course, maybe people would sooner go through some sort of die off or give up modern society anyway, but energy does not appear to be a constraint which is going to force them to do so.

As for it all being much too expensive, solar pv now runs at under $1/Watt nominal, not including the inverters, installation etc which are a lot more resistant to cost reductions.
Presumably though if everything is falling apart, at least labour for installation will not cost much.

Nuclear outside the US and Western Europe costs about $3,000kw, and the plant will last 60 years plus.

Most new energy demand is outside the OECD, so the low figure applies to most of the world, however regulation and poor implementation of it has inflated the cost of large construction projects in the West.

So in the worst case, we are talking about an OECD energy shortage, not a world shortage.

In fact even in the West nuclear power with high construction costs although it may not be as cheap as natural gas, is still way, way below any level where society is going to collapse paying for it.

Yep. I'm going to install solar PV myself and it will cost around $2/watt for all the equipment. Once installed, that will provide electricity for both my house & EV for the next 25+ years. We don't have an energy crisis. We merely have rising liquid fuel costs. That is a problem to be dealt with. But it is not something that is going to cause modern society to collapse.

If high gasoline prices caused the collapse of modern society then Europe should have collapse years ago. No, we are simply just going to have to adjust a bit.

As long as we have energy, where liquid fuels are needed, they can be produced.
Mitsubishi and Iceland have a plan to produce DME to replace diesel, using geothermal and waste industrial CO2, so contributing to reducing global warming too:
http colon//wwwdotos dot is/gogn/os-onnur-rit/OS-2010-DME-project dot pdf

'Production process is as follows:
1) The CO2 gas is captured from the exhaust
gas of the ELKEM ferrosilicon plant
2) The H2 gas is generated from water by electrolysis
3) Methanol is produced by synthesis from CO2 and H2
4) DME is produced from methanol as an alternative fuel

Now this, and switching to nuclear/solar etc may cost more than current fossil fuel consumption, so living standards might take a hit.

Even if that were the case though, many societies at many times have suffered a fall in living standards without collapsing.

The hypothesis that peak oil/peak fossil fuels will lead to inevitable collapse is based on the idea that as fuel sources get steadily more attenuated, then the energy cost of processing them progressively worsens, so that inescapably costs continue rising and people are driven nearer and nearer to the margin of survival, and then over the edge.

Such a progressive degradation does not occur using energy sources which are quasi infinite and eternal, relative to present energy usage.
Instead the cost of the engineering progressively lessens as experience and volume is gained, even if they took a jump up at first.

So on energy grounds there would appear to be no grounds for expecting an irreversible decline.

Of course, that does not rule out other grounds, a deterioration in accessible water or whatever, but any sensible discussion must have boundaries, and every issue needs separate detailed analysis.

So my feeling is that the argument of this site is right, and peak conventional oil has already happened.

This does not however have the allegedly inevitable consequences for society which many sought to infer from this, and is very far from being a show-stopper.

I feel it appropriate to comment in this string that I am finally seeing the sort of discussion and debate that is needed. A give and take on whether and how we might best survive what we anticipate (from Peak Oil); reasonable proposals and civil back and forth on issues such as, the place of nuclear power in our future energy production; the role of automobiles; how to power future transportation; limits to battery production (implicating the need for alternative technologies for same); as well as alternative futures, one with and one without most modernity. This is meat for our minds... much to be digested over time. Many views to weigh. And, a welcome relief from the normal antagonistic exchanges we see elsewhere.

At the risk of being self-indulgent, congratulations to TOD for beginning to meet its potential. And thanks to all who participate.


Craig, you just entered the wonderful land of Unicorns and Elf's wishful thinking :)

I guess I need to re-post my last comment on TOD regarding climate change, with an added link:

(Try to extrapolate what is reported in the video links and the NEW NASA findings, link here: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/13/2138531/nasa-finds-amazing-l... ,
bearing in mind that we are indeed on an exponential progression path.)

"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 scientific evidence of a much, much warmer world every time our world reached 300 to 400 ppm (So warm actually that all the ice was gone in Greenland AND West Antarctica, now extrapolate the consequences!)

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.

certainly nothing remotely like the several million a year death toll confirmed from air pollution alone from fossil fuels.

When several is "more than two and less than many" and the world death rate is 56 million - the above claim is looking at 5% or more deaths from "air pollution alone from fossil fuels".

Think of who you know have died - can you come up with validity for 5% or more of them "from air pollution alone from fossil fuels"?

I look forward to seeing the source of this several million a year death toll confirmed from air pollution alone from fossil fuels because the number is confirmed after all.

'In 2010, more than 2.1m people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and lorries. Other causes of air pollution include construction and industry. Of these deaths, says the study published in The Lancet, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.

Worldwide, a record 3.2m people a year died from air pollution in 2010, compared with 800,000 in 2000. It now ranks for the first time in the world's top 10 list of killer diseases, says the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.'

Reported in 'the Guardian'
The source, the Lancet, is one of the UK's premier medical publications.

There are numerous other reports which I could link to medical studies for the US and UK, both about international impact and in their respective countries - about 50,000 a year in the UK.

If air pollution from mainly coal, but also petrol and transport does not cause vast numbers of premature deaths, then the entire medical profession is seriously misinformed.

several million a year death toll confirmed from air pollution alone from fossil fuels.

Is different than:

'In 2010, more than 2.1m people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and lorries.

The 1st is a strong claim that the deaths are from air pollution from fossil fuels - the actual data source notes the lifespan was shortened due to a claim that fossil fuels are the most common particle.

Now the framing of your statements sure seem to be "direct deaths" - yet the air pollution is a shortening factor. Just like the Fission Power failure follies are a lifespan shortener. So why mis-represent this death issue?


Each day, around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and inefficient stoves that burn solid fuels such as wood, animal dung, agricultural residues, charcoal, and coal. As a result, 3.5 million deaths are directly associated with HAP each year. In addition, another 500,000 deaths from outdoor air pollution caused by cooking, with a large share of outdoor pollution in regions like Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa originating from household solid fuel use.

The 1st is a strong claim that the deaths are from air pollution from fossil fuels - the actual data source notes the lifespan was shortened due to a claim that fossil fuels are the most common particle.

EB, I think you're picking nits.

If your lifespan is shortened due to getting cancer from smoking cigarettes, wouldn't you accept as a valid statement of fact that cigarettes contributed to your death in a significant way even if any single cigarette could not be proven to have directly caused your death? I think most people are fine with saying cigarettes kill people.

So I also think it is perfectly acceptable to say that air pollution, such as diesel particulates cause the deaths of millions of people.

EB, I think you're picking nits.

And don't you agree that failed fission plants shorten lives?

If so, then why accept It should also be noted that whatever some think are the theoretical risks of nuclear in practise its civil use has resulted in remarkably few casualties, including Chernobyl and Fukeshima as some kind of correct statement if the metric to be used is a shortened lifespan?

So I also think it is perfectly acceptable to say that air pollution, such as diesel particulates cause the deaths of millions of people.

Only if you say the same kind of thing when you are speaking of fission power in practice - because the practice has failure modes that are life-shortening. The speaker did not and I feel the need to make sure the record reflects that at least someone noticed the rhetorical slight of hand. In court using one standard than another is collaterally estopped. If the actual metric is "life shortened" then that metric should apply across both. Normalizing the data for the energy use rate would also help to compare the numbers - if comparing numbers was the rhetorical goal.

And don't you agree that failed fission plants shorten lives?

Life is risk, Eric. One must look at the risks from each option, and compare them objectively. On that topic:

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster casualties

There were no casualties caused by radiation exposure, while approximately 19,000 died due to the earthquake and tsunami. Predicted future cancer deaths due to accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none.[36] However workers involved in mitigating the effects of the accident do face higher risks for some cancers.[37]

WHO Report

In 2013, two years after the incident, the World Health Organization indicated that the residents of the area who were evacuated were exposed to so little radiation that radiation induced health impacts are likely to be below detectable levels.[38] The health risks in the WHO assessment attributable to the Fukushima radiation release were calculated by largely applying the conservative Linear no-threshold model of radiation exposure, a model that assumes even the smallest amount of radiation exposure will cause a negative health effect.[39]

Independent peer-reviewed studies have found the same thing. Undetectable increase in risk.

Electricity from fission shortens lives, yes. There are no magic, cost-free technologies. But fission shortens lives at a rate three or four orders of magnitude lower than fossil fuels, and falling. There are much bigger risks to worry about.

It really needs to be kept in mind that during the worst phase of this disaster, prevailing winds were blowing the radioactive effluence out to sea. Japan was extremely fortunate in that regard. No such guarantees in place for next time.

I'm not sure why people discuss the Fukushima disaster in the the past tense as if it were over.

Certainly did not mean to imply that it's over. "Worst phase" was a poor choice of words; that should have been something like "early phase of rapid disintegration". We may not know what the "worst phase" is for a long time, and even then it may depend upon how that is defined.

Undetectable increase in risk.

And other officials have been known to remove radioactive bones and replace them with broomsticks, Russia claimed there was no problem with Chernobyl during the 1st few days, and one health official in Japan was claiming that radiation doesn't effect happy people.

If you pull the other finger it'll play pundits saying "power too cheap to meter".

evacuated were exposed to so little radiation that radiation induced health impacts are likely to be below detectable levels.

40% detection rate is within "likely below detection levels" as an example?

The reason we need a new energy source is resource depletion. While most analyses employ the phrase "at current consumption rates," we need to view energy needs at growing rates, lest we abandon the "growth is necessary" mantra. A quick glance at current upstream CAPEX for energy shows a tremendous increase compared to the amount of energy actually being produced. Of course there is a lag but it is difficult to see how these CAPEX levels can be sustained.

I submit nuclear will have the same problem. Of course uranium production will increase with price, but is it feasible that it can replace fossil fuels to the extent fossil fuels are used now?

I look at it this way; everyone is expecting 3% annual growth around the world. Thus, the world economy will double in the next 25-30 years. That means pretty much twice as much everything as we have right now. Twice the cars? Twice the energy to run them? Granted, efficiencies will improve, so we will need less than twice the energy to run these cars. But what if it turns into Jevon's Paradox?

That's an awful lot of batteries. Is there enough lithium for that?

Debates if broadened without limits become indeterminate.

The immediate question is whether peak oil means that society must collapse.

Since there are a lot of other sources, including other fossil fuels, which clearly have limitations but not so severe as for gas, but also including massively larger resource bases such as nuclear and solar, then answer is clearly no, in my view.

The immediate, ie in the next 50 years or so, problem is continuing to feed and support in some reasonable fashion the ~9 billion people we will have, not whether if we project, say, a 6% compounded growth rate in energy usage it runs out at some point in the future.

In the long run we might be all dead, but that seems no reason to hurry it.

Over longer than 50 years, assuming that society has not already collapsed, the technological possibilities become so indeterminate as we don't know which will pan out that we can't really do sensible planning or projections.

Possibilities are a host of fusion technologies, solar roof tiles so installation costs are zero, molten salt thorium reactors, solar hydrogen production, and on in a huge list.

So looking at the nearer term and considering stuff we know that we can make work, or are close to it, then we already know that uranium can be used much more efficiently, simply by reprocessing as the French and Russians do, and up to around 100 times more efficiently by using one of many, many technologies that we have a good handle on such as pebble bed reactors (being built in China now), the Integral Fast Reactor, and lead and sodium fast reactors amongst a long list, as well as 4 times as abundant thorium in a conventional CANDU reactor.

On a once through system such as the US uses, the cost of the raw uranium is only around $0.003kwh.

At about $500kg uranium from land-based mining becomes in massive supply, and with more efficient reactors this would still form a tiny amount of cost, of the order of the $0.003/kwh we pay today or less.

Lithium according to Chemetal amounts to around 30 million tons, enough for around 6.5 billion Leaf cars at 4kg per 24kwh pack.

Zinc is also an excellent material for batteries, although the technology is less advanced than lithium.
It is very common, and could provide batteries for umpteen billions of cars.

Fuel cells can also run electric cars, and GM for instance are in progress to reducing precious metal use in them to around the same level as in the catalytic converters in conventional cars.

It isn't given to people to be able to solve all problems for all time, but at a less elevated level there would seem to be good possibilities to support a lot of people at a good standard of living for a long time, even if they have the misfortune of not being able to expand their living standards to infinity.

What Jevon's paradox does not tell us is that the increased use of resources can be very useful, so it is far from a zero sum game.

In any case my own interest is not in philosophical imponderables, but on whether oil running low is going to crash society.

I don't think it will.

Also a number of technologies such as the Integral Fast Reactor which could be fairly speedily developed can run on what is presently classified as 'waste', and which the plan was absurdly enough to bury in Yucca mountain, for which the nuclear industry has contributed to date around $30 billion.

It is absurd, because the cost of developing reactors to use it as fuel instead of burying it is way, way lower than the repository, and also a fraction of the $30 billion.

The energy in the 'waste' is enough to provide all the electricity the US consumes for of the order of hundreds of years.

Under those circumstances it is difficult to see shortages of fuel as a show stopper for nuclear power.

There are also a great variety of different ways to use it as fuel, so any difficulties in one particular pathway can be circumvented should they occur.

My instinct, backed by lots of ignorance of the subject, is that nuclear power is all you say. But seems to me it has a problem not shared by the other relatively limitless source of energy- solar. That problem is vulnerability to intentional harm, as would be likely, for example, in social disruptions from climate change.

Bad guys could do bad things with any nuclear reactor, no matter how beautiful its personality, but would have a long and tedious job to do much harm of consequence to a field of windturbines or solar steam engines, much less rooftops of PV.

From such thoughts, and my personal background, I favor solar thermal machines, which I know for a fact do work and could be made to work far better, with little technical effort, and to boot, need nothing more in materials than what was already available to Thomas Edison.

Nuclear is continually compared to some ideal system which causes no casualties.

Actually, the death rate from current sources is pretty horrid.

Leaving aside air pollution, mining for coal causes massive casualties, ie in its routine operation it is a mass killer, and doesn't need an accident or sabotage to kill them.

A lot of those casualties are due to terrible safety standards in Chinese mines, but that aside it is inherently dangerous.

Piping highly explosive gas around the country is also by its nature dangerous, and for every nuclear accident, Chernobyl aside without confirmed casualties, there are umpteen gas explosions.

In all the ho-ha about Fukushima, it has been little remarked that after the tidal wave what was left of the oil and gas installations was a sea of fire, with unknown numbers of people burnt to death, as if you were near those you were a goner.

So the 'nuclear catastrophe' at Fukushima which has been drummed into us was in fact more of a very expensive inconvenience, with people, rightly or wrongly, moved out from their houses for some time, whilst the oil and gas installations killed them stone dead.

By their nature compact nuclear installations are much more easily guarded than sprawling fossil fuel installations, and the buildings themselves are immensely strong.

It has been passed over than without exception the reactors in Japan stood up to a category 9 earthquake, well outside their design tolerance.

This is a remarkable achievement.

No other buildings in the world are anything like as safe,

You just have to build them in places which don't get hit by 15 metre tsuanami, although in fact it is clear how they could have been built to cope, had it been in the 40 year old design brief.

In contrast renewables are currently utterly dependent on fossil fuels to function at all.

The risks and casualties from fossil fuels, even excluding lethal Chinese mines, are so great that the build of the fossil fuel plants to support them is building in decades of much higher casualties than anything which can reasonable be inferred from nuclear.

Not only are oil and gas installations soft targets for any terrorists so inclined to hit them, but in the massive economic decline scenario some here see coming things like the vast, extended transmission networks for wind are impossible to guard, and can simply be stolen.

BTW, as steam engine is a high pressure vessel, and as such very nasty things happen to it if it is punctured.

As for rooftop solar, I used to be a builder, and just like the medical profession we had a technical tern for amateurs who seek to maintain equipment on their roofs.

That term is 'casualty'.

The effective death rate from roof top solar is likely to be surprisingly high, just as it is a very dangerous job to work 80 metres up on a wind turbine, never mind turbines at sea, which are in a class of their own.

Little remarked for solar is that a large volcanic eruption would dramatically reduce output in one hemisphere or both, as has happened many times in the past.
So you would have least power when it is most needed.

I have been a solar advocate for 40 years, but have been continually horrified by its misapplication driven by ideology.

For a start, a lot of people can't seem to get their heads around the fact that you need sunshine for it to work well, and what is more sunshine in around the time of year power is needed.

In much of the world, including parts of the US, solar will be a very useful source of power.

What it won't do is eliminate the need for nuclear power, operating 24/7 all the year around.

But I have strayed from my main argument.

Whether one feels that nuclear or solar will bear the big part of carrying the load, there is no reason to apprehend that greatly reduced supplies of oil will lead to societal collapse, as there are resources available on a wholly different scale, which aren't going to run out anytime soon.

solar advocate for 40 years

I am doubtful that any other "solar advocate" would recognize you as such.

Some things you failed to mention.

Nuclear power is the only power source that can create multi-century exclusion zones. Had the winds been blowing south instead of out to sea at Fukishima, Tokyo would have become an exclusion zone - except it could not be evacuated.

The current price of new nuclear power is being set in the UK. The Brits are willing to pay £80 per MWh for wholesale electricity for 40 years from two new EPR nukes. EdF wants £100 per MWh. These prices are *FAR* above the prices for solar or wind. £ = $1.50 (about)

Nukes suffer from common design risk. One design flaw can take out a fleet of nukes. Magnox in the UK, N4s in France, B&W in the USA (TMI) are examples of common design flaws taking out many nukes at once. *MUCH* more common than "A Year without a Summer". reducing solar power.

The French are concerned that a common design flaw may reveal itself in their 900 MW class reactors as they age. The French plan to build out renewables as a backstop to unreliable nukes (see SONGS).

That said, I support the massive subsidies required to build Vogtle 3 & 4. No good wind nearby , the nukes will replace coal, and the area around is lightly populated with "not great" farmland. We can do without that corner of Georgia if things go bad.

Georgia rate payers are paying for Vogtle as it is being built. High rates promote conservation, which is good.


"that corner of Georgia" is near my home.

If you look at a map of the locations of NPPs you'll find there are a lot of such corners. There is nothing to keep the waste that NPPs generate stuck in corners anyway.

The current generation of nukes has about a 1/400 chance of creating an exclusion zone. Perhaps the next generation a 1 in 800 chance.

It is telling that I can make the logical argument that we should accept the risk from nukes in order to burn less coal - and reduce our carbon emissions.

The *FAR* better choice is to use much less energy, and use it with dramatically more efficientcy, and get as much as possible from renewables.

*BUT* nukes (even with the 1 in 400 or 800 risk) are better than coal.

I just wonder what happens when half the world's nukes are hit at once with a "tsunami" - a solar flare at least as big as the Carrington Super Flare.

How many control systems will be fried, and out of control nuclear reactors will be created at one time ? Of those, how many will melt down. I asked, decades ago, and nuke plant design did not consider such a super flare.


Complex systems are fragile. Particularly in times where climate is shifting, how do we even quantify these things? Such huge and long-term consequences to any number of potential events we can think of, and also to those we have not considered.

We have coal now. All the things that coal does, positive and destructive are part of our everyday. Why replace that with another system that leaves us in thrall to the power companies and vulnerable to the fragility of such a vast web?

How do we make using less energy fun? Stylish?

Power was out Monday night when we got home. Grumbled a little, then went outside and watched the lightning bugs.

Given that there is no program to deal with the waste and given the present system of leaving that waste on site, then one must take it as a certainty that all of the waste will be released into the local environment. It is technically possible that it could be moved to somewhere else but there is no program to do so. Just moving it would be extraordinarily expensive and difficult, there is no place to move it to and we don't have the knowledge of where might be stable or safe enough for long enough, and we have not been able to achieve this throughout the peak of our prosperity.

To believe the waste will not be released into the local environment is a simple act of faith akin to saying "they'll think of something" - there is no evidence to support it at all.

Therefore, the areas around NPPs will be contaminated and become unable to support healthy human (and other) life.

The French are reprocessing a fraction of their waste (and would reprocess more if it were cheaper than new uranium). The Swdes are close to a hole in the ground to stick the waste into.

The risk from nuclear waste is a potential threat in the distant future, when much of the waste has decayed away.

The mercury and heavy metals (including radio-nuclides) from burning coal are accumulating today. Even without creating climate chaos - the other pollutants from burning coal are causing more accumulating damage.

But we burn LOTS of coal today - so it MUST be OK ? Right ?


BTW, an interesting article on the impact of one heavy metal


No, it's not ok, and the buzzards are coming home to roost. But fixing the problems of coal with the "next gen" problems of nuclear is not fixing anything, it's just whistling past the graveyard. It's not just the distant future that nuclear waste threatens, it's the threat posed by all those inherent instabilities in such a complex system with such long lasting toxicity at it's core. We can't know all the consequences of what we do, but choosing to develop something with such obvious, huge and long lasting problems while continuing or increasing the power of utility companies is to blinker ourselves to reality and starve the future.


A. You repeat the false choice that nuclear will defer the burning of coal. Where is the evidence that all the economically recoverable coal will not be burned anyway, and that if it is not burned that nuclear power would be responsible for that?

B. Uranium is a heavy metal every bit a conventionally toxic as lead or mercury - it just happens to be radioactive too, and will be for a very long time. Your statement implies that we can contain the waste for longer than it will remain highly dangerous. Where is the evidence of this, and more pragmatically, where are the programs to do so? The French and Swedish projects will only hold a fraction of their waste as you say, and it has not been proven (and cannot be) that they will be effective.

One evidence is Great Britain, down to 4 open pits and only a third of reserves mined.

French coal mining is long gone, but mot German.

Georgia Power is closing 1 MW of coal fired plants for each MW of new nuke.


You are claiming GB switch away from coal was due to nuclear power? What assures that coal will not be mined?

That Georgia Power will switch MW for MW from coal to nuclear does not itself imply the coal will not be burned. This is really a false choice anyway - that coal is bad does not mean anything about nuclear, which is also bad.

The real choice is as you stated earlier - use less.

As long as we keep burning coal, even using less just prolongs the burn time (which does have significant benefits in allowing time for nature & humanity to adapt).


Response to B

Remember, nuclear power plants don't create uranium they destroy it. The uranium they use has to be gathered up from other places. So if uranium is so horrible how come it's ok where it is now spread out all over the world?

Also, what makes you think it can't be stored safely? Other materials don't seem to be receiving this much scrutiny. For example you mentioned lead. It is a toxic heavy metal which which isn't going anywhere(either stable or has a very long half life). Yet I can buy a lead-acid battery and stick it in my car without people demanding that I prove that the lead in the battery will never hurt anyone ever.

Really I would prefer if it was recycled. Nuclear fuel can breed more nuclear fuel from uranium-238 and thorium-232. This means that the amount of energy that can be had from nuclear technology is potentially very large. I don't know why people are always comparing it to fossil fuels when there is such a huge difference in their potential.

Exactly how much energy it can supply overall is debatable, but however long it would last I'd be happy with it. If it's a long time that's great. If its a shorter time then at least we will destroyed a lot of the material need to make nuclear weapons.

In my opinion it's the best chance we have for not using them or having them stick around indefinitely. If things collapse people will probably have resources wars and we might end up using them. If things don't collapse and we don't use it countries will probably still continue to keep nuclear arsenals, but if we deplete the resource then maybe some day our ancestors will live in a world without nuclear weapons. Whether or not this line of reasoning means much to you it's something I hope for.

In conclusion I think nuclear power is a valuable tool, and I don't see any reason to give up on it.

Remember, nuclear power plants don't create uranium they destroy it.

Power plants as built en mass today don't destroy Uranium. They "destroy" only certain kinds of Uranium, the unstable kind. Stable Uranium has a 1/2 life that outlasts humanity.

The uranium they use has to be gathered up from other places. So if uranium is so horrible how come it's ok where it is now spread out all over the world?

Really? Is this supposed to be funny?

The "ok to spread it around" just is not true. That is why most Nations have not implemented depleted Uranium (DU) munitions. And the one Nation that is big into using DU rounds has been known to remove DU contaminated soil from other "friendly" Nations.

In conclusion I think nuclear power is a valuable tool

And like most valuable and powerful tool misuse and abuse is the issue.

and I don't see any reason to give up on it.

Ok. Then show how the policies in place to prevent things like sleeping security guards allowed it to happen. Justify how the person doing the reporting had to place video up on YouTube before action was taken.

Power plants as built en mass today don't destroy Uranium. They "destroy" only certain kinds of Uranium, the unstable kind. Stable Uranium has a 1/2 life that outlasts humanity.

I never said they destroy all types of uranium. I just said they destroy uranium which they do.

Really? Is this supposed to be funny?

The "ok to spread it around" just is not true. That is why most Nations have not implemented depleted Uranium (DU) munitions. And the one Nation that is big into using DU rounds has been known to remove DU contaminated soil from other "friendly" Nations.

Are you reading what I wrote? Where did you get "ok to spread it around" from what I said? I said it is spread around.

Here from wikipedia

It occurs naturally in low concentrations of a few parts per million in soil, rock and water, and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals such as uraninite.

Nuclear reactors aren't making uranium (if you want to nitpick nuclear power plants as built en mass today aren't making uranium). The uranium comes from the earth. So how come it's only a horrible insurmountable threat once it's been through a nuclear reactor?

In regards to the rest of what you said nuclear power has an excellent safety record. It's not perfect, but nothing in life is. In regards to the specific issue of security, I think that there are a lot of places that are easier targets than nuclear power plants.

Edit: I think I see the problem now. I should have written.

So if uranium is so horrible how come it's ok where it is now (i.e. spread out all over the world)?

Instead of

So if uranium is so horrible how come it's ok where it is now spread out all over the world?

Also I meant descendants not ancestors

"So if uranium is so horrible how come it's ok where it is now spread out all over the world?"

The devil is in the dose. Humans concentrate things, extract what may be useful, and discard the 'waste', still in super-concentrated form. A little sunlight (radiation) is neccessary for good health. Does that mean more is better? Radon? It occurs in many places, in the rocks. Building a room out of that rock and sleeping in it every night for years turns out to be a bad idea.

Are you saying that there are safe levels of radiation? This seems to be a subject that is brought up often in these kinds of debates. Most of the time it seems that the people who are against nuclear power don't believe that any level of ionizing radiation is safe. If that is true then doesn't that mean that the uranium spread around the world is causing sickness and death? Seen from that perspective uranium mining can be viewed as cleaning up a hazardous material.

Natural Uranium can certainly be dangerous. And so is lead, cobalt, various mushrooms, hemlock, arsenic, radon, etc.

People that live near more radioactive areas probably do have higher rates of cancer.

But I think your attempt of classifying uranium mining as a clean-up operation is a bit ridiculous. We are digging up natural low concentrations of it and making it into high concentrations that are more dangerous. And worse, we then fission it creating all sorts of non natural radioactive daughter particles that don't naturally occur on Earth since they long since decayed.

So your contention seems to be that concentrating a dangerous substance makes it more dangerous. In other words the uranium is less dangerous where it is now (i.e. spread out all over the place).

I think there is a problem with this reasoning. If your contention is true wouldn't it mean that the contents of all the world's nuclear reactors would be less dangerous if they were spread out more? This seems to follow from your reasoning, but if someone proposed spreading the contents of the nuclear reactors out all over the world I doubt anyone would agree that it was more safe.

If you argue that this rule only applies to uranium then please provide some justification about why it shouldn't also apply to other radioactive substances as well.

Natural Uranium is more than just 'spread around'.. it's not peanut butter! We've dredged most of it up from deep underground, where there had been NO contact between it and humans, we've made tailings piles at the surface of those mines that can then become airborne or work into surface water systems, unlike settled earth areas that had long since settled down and where humans live, and will have gotten generally encapsulated under soils and living systems.

Now, we've used it in DU bullets and other ordinance and detonated it, burned it and shot it at people, left more of it as Dust on Desert lands, where it can hit both locals already suffering from the results of these wars, and also become air and water-borne to affect other living systems at levels far out of the reach of the Ambient quantities of Uranium and other compounds in the crust.

The concentrated fuels are put into a fissioning state where they are at risk of meltdowns and other failures where they can emit great volumes of Radioactive particles into air and water and towards the population centers that are generally never going to be far from Nuclear Power Plants and their Spent Fuel Storage sites.

The difference and danger is quite plain between our uses of these materials and how they otherwise exist in the earth's crust.

So you're saying that uranium is safe when it's underground?

Safer when it's underground in it's unconcentrated form. That's very different from the extremely concentrated form of spent fuel that you're talking about burying! Nobody here misses the false point you're attempting to make.

Except that my points aren't false. The logic that is being displayed here is flawed. I've already demonstrated that when you have a certain amount of a substance having it be in a higher concentrated doesn't necessarily mean it's more dangerous. That probably why jokuhl switched tactics and started talking about it being safe underground, so I pointed out with my question that this goes against one of the popular anti nuclear contentions that uranium is not safe stored underground. Now your trying to switch back to concentration, but the concentration argument is still logically flawed underground or above. If you are still not getting why it's flawed perhaps something jokuhl said will help “deep underground, where there had been NO contact between it and humans.” You see the problem with concentration argument is that it ignores exposure. Five pounds of lead ground up and spread out over a city is a lot worse then five pounds of lead buried in a hole. This should be fairly obvious. I don't know why people are having trouble with this.

The amount of exposer(if any) people receive from natural uranium underground, or from uranium that people store underground, is a subject that people need to debate with valid arguments and evidence. Not with flawed logic and fear tactics.

Yes. I am.

For all PRACTICAL purposes, Uranium and Radon, etc, even when they are sitting in granite chunks a couple feet below your feet should NEVER cause you or yours any trouble.. If you bring up and crush that rock, take the dust and separate the Uranium out, and put its concentrated results at the edge of one of our rivers or bays.. and then FISSION the stuff.. all of that is surely more dangerous to you and yours than it had stayed encased in Rock Underground.

WHY are you trying to argue this point? What is so hard to understand about this? How can I understand what you're asking so I don't just think you're just being silly and having fun distracting people?

From the very beginning I've been responding to Twilight comment above (specifically part B of it). I thought this was fairly obvious. I am only one lone person talking to many people, and I have limited time and energy for this, so I'm sticking with the topic that started it. I think I've done a good job showing that uranium can be handled safely. Thanks for acknowledging that it can be safely stored underground.

One point I haven't addressed yet is people using uranium in weapons. I Think it's something that should be stopped, but I don't think that uranium is the real problem here. If people want to hurt each other they will find a way, so I think the real issue is what to do about people wanting to hurt each other.

"So your contention seems to be that concentrating a dangerous substance makes it more dangerous."

This is so obvious there's no point in discussing it. Far too many examples to even begin listing them, and with some substances or energy forms, the exposure rate and toxicity goes up exponentially. Try drinking a quart of beer in an hour, then drink a quart of bourbon in the same time period. Hair dryer vs. arc welder? One aspirin vs. the whole bottle?

Your logic is flawed. All dangerous substances can not be treated the same under you overly simplistic rule. One problem with your logic is that most of the things you listed have safe level, but not everything is considered to have a safe level. For example lead. According to the CDC "No safe level of lead exposure has been identified." Because of this people go out of their way to clean up areas contaminated by lead and in the process they concentrate it. By your logic they are actually creating additional hazard by doing this.

You never answered my question about whether or not there are safe level of ionizing radiation. There either are or aren't safe levels of radiation. You can't have it both ways where there aren't safe level of radiation when it benefits anti nuclear arguments, and there are safe level when that benefits anti nuclear arguments.

Arguing about some theoretical absolute absence of these materials does nothing to support any idea that would suggest that Higher Concentrations up in the Biosphere aren't still worse than the Existing levels that our Biosphere has grown and evolved around.. but that fact alone already proves that the background levels of Lead and Uranium are something we can live with, while we can see areas at Chernobyl, Hanford, Fukushima, Dounreay, Champagne etc.. Where leaks to downright barrages of excess radioactive material spills have created increasing areas that steadily turn our biosphere into a great uncleanable Guinea Pig.

Maybe this is the disconnect..
The Problem with misreading the LNT Linear-No Threshhold discussion of radiological cell damage, is that it is still not an absolute measure, because our bodies CAN repair cell damage, and CAN cure their own tumors, so that some forms of damage are not 'game over'.. but on the other hand, some cell damage HAS been shown to create recurring chromosome changes, and so even small damaging doses CAN create the conditions for persistent mutations. Result? Uncertainty.. (ie, don't F*** with it, if you can't do so with some knowledge that it's reasonably safe.. and making self-replicating chromosomal changes within the Human Genome, when you have the option to do Otherwise is simply criminal. At the very least it's brutally stupid.. Lighting a match in the Explosives Shack stupid.)

To add to it all, with all the other compounds we have dug up and exposed ourselves to in concentrated forms in this product and that, our bodies' toxic burden and nutritional depletion has made our immune system's ability to protect us one more phenomenal question mark in the above equation.

Well as one of the people who thinks that the acceptance of nuclear power is necessary in order to keep people from burning all the coal, I find your argument about keeping dangerous substances out of the biosphere less then persuasive. As you may be aware coal is responsible for putting quit a few nasty things into the biosphere (including lead and uranium). I know what you're going to say. People need to change their life style and bla bla bla... So here's the question. Have you convinced the majority of people to live like you want them to, because if you haven't I don't see how you are going to stop them from burning coal, and even if you did somehow convince them I'm not sure getting 7 billion people off fossil fuels with only renewable energy is even possible.

Scaring people using vague threats alluding to unproven dangers might be enough to get people to abandon nuclear power, but I think you are going to have a much harder time with coal (even though its much worse). Coal is familiar. Everyone knows coal, it played a large part in building the world we all live in. Getting people to be afraid of familiar things is difficult. Just look at the death toll automobiles have raked up without anyone really caring. If you want people to stop you need to give them an alternative they can accept, and that alternative is nuclear power.

I am glad you're interested in keeping the genome pure. Everything has been going down hill sense those stupid multicellular organism. Strutting around with all their fancy organs like they own the place. Sigh, on a more serious note I'm very angry with anti nuclear people right now. From my perspective antinuclear sentiment is doing people great harm, and it's becoming difficult to keep my anger out of my writing. Maybe I better take a break an cool down a bit.

Uranium is not the problem, it is the buildup of radioactive actinides that result from the fissioning uranium. After a while their decay creates around 7% of the heat in a typical reactor, which is why forced cooling is essential after the reactor is shut down. It is also why the fuel needs to be replaced so often, as the long-lived actinides build up they generate more and more of an uncontrollable heat baseline.

If a water-cooled core overheats hydrogen starts being produced at 900C, you can either vent that along with the radioactive gases or wait for it to explode. At higher temperatures the core will burn, but if you can exclude oxygen at that point you can hopefully disperse the slag after it melts through the bottom of the reactor.

Several types of coal emit large amounts of uranium and it's daughter products into the air. One analysis I saw calculated the released uranium into the environment from coal burning to be more grams/GWh than the uranium inside the fuel rods in a reactor.

And uranium is toxic - but as toxic as mercury ? Per OSHA regs for worker exposure, not so.

Alan out the door in an hour

What would one of these mega storms do to a nuclear infrastructure? That tornado in Oklahoma looked like if it hit right it could do some damage? I know that nuclear seems like a good answer but when it goes wrong it seems like a very dumb idea..

Tornados would tear up the switchyard, anmd put the nuke offlien for a year, but the basic structure would be unharmed.

Roughly 1 foot of stainless steel covered by a yard of reinforced high strength concrete.


How about the backup generators needed to cool off decay heat and spent fuel pools?? Sounds very similar to Fukushima...

The *FAR* better choice is to use much less energy, and use it with dramatically more efficientcy, and get as much as possible from renewables.

AlanfromBigEasy, that is very well said.


    stabilize population on the Earth now.

    improve energy efficiency 33%

    triple output of wind energy to 10% of electricity

    a 20 times increase in output of solar PV

    ...any other good ideas...?

stabilize population on the Earth now

The significant energy-using population is already pretty much stable. According to UN Population projections (updates released today, btw) the vast majority of population growth is happening in poor African countries, among poor Africans. (I'm pessimistic about their prospects, because I don't believe that their leaders want to improve their lives--rather the opposite.)

improve energy efficiency 33%

Energy efficiency has been improving at around 1% per year for the last 30 years. With high oil prices, the rate should accelerate.

triple output of wind energy to 10% of electricity

This is a somewhat pessimistic projection of what will happen under business as usual--but see the next point.

a 20 times increase in output of solar PV

Globally, solar PV installed capacity reached 100 GW rated output at the end of 2012, according to Wikipedia. A 20-fold increase would give us 2 terawatts rated, equivalent to about 500 GW (0.5 TW) of coal-fired or nuclear power, adjusting for capacity factors. For context, total global electricity production is more than 4 terawatts (4,000 GW) continuous equivalent -- 5 TW coal-fired, 20 TW PV equivalent. And that's not enough for a decent standard of living for the world by half.

We need to do a bit better than 20-fold. Fortunately, the way PV prices are going, we will. In the 20s, PV will be cheaper than any other method of generating electricity, nearly everywhere people live.

any other good ideas...?

* Improving the education of women in less-developed countries, and supporting them having a political voice.

* Making cities more livable.

* Changing social status signals away from conspicuous waste of energy.

All happening, but they all take time. (And harmful ideas, like wage suppression and austerity programmes, tend to find more favor among governments, for some reason.)

A 20-fold increase would give us 2 terawatts rated, equivalent to about 500 GW (0.5 TW) of coal-fired or nuclear power, adjusting for capacity factors.

gregvp, thanks for your comments and additional ideas.

Maybe we should shoot for a 50-fold increase in solar PV versus 20-fold.

Best hopes too for better education for women that are under-served.

Next Tuesday I am going to have lunch at the French Embassy with the Environmental Attaches for the #1 carbon reductions Denmark and #2 France (and the French Transportation attache). Several ideas to discuss :-)

Packing now - so I may not hold up my end of the debate.


*BUT* nukes (even with the 1 in 400 or 800 risk) are better than coal.

Some energy flow diagrams showed fossil fuels as 50 Xwatts VS nuke as 10 Xwatts. Last time I looked 409 fission plants. Chernobyl - 1 reactor. Fukushima - 4 reactors. Not at all 1:400 risk. But lets say 1:400. With 5 times or more fission reactors - would the 1:400 failure rate be considered acceptable? In an industry where sleeping security guards was ignored until they were posted on YouTube. In a Nation who's so afraid of terrorism! that entire new government departments are created and these departments buy rounds of ammunition in the millions of rounds for that department.

solar flare at least as big as the Carrington Super Flare.

That question has been asked more than once on TOD and the only time I remember a response - the response was 'not to worry - the systems will be OK'.

I asked, decades ago, and nuke plant design did not consider such a super flare.

Then I'm guessing you have more knowledge than the responder I'm referring to in the above text.

Ok, I sort of agree with you in general principle, and will ignore the details. Sure, anything can kill you, like a rock.And there's plenty of energy if we put our priorities right.

One point re solar vs nuclear I was gonna put in but it was past bed time.

Solar/wind can be done in small units and is widely dispersed over the globe. They can take fairly low tech to achieve some useful result, so all that adds to power of the people

(And BTW, I wonder why solar is totally dependent on ff when nuclear isn't?? I don't think people in 1700 using solar/wind did it on ff.)

Anyhow, nuclear is not anywhere near back-yard slap-it-together status like a hot air engine and a mirror, or a wooden windmill.

Or am I wrong here? If so, where can I hide?

On a once through system such as the US uses, the cost of the raw uranium is only around $0.003kwh.

So? The raw photons from the Sun have a $0.000 cost.

How much is the cost for TEPCO per kWH once one adds in the costs of failure modes?

(speaking of failure modes: Fire hits nuclear plant — Blaze started hours after reactor was restarted #Ringhals #Sweden )

Ringhals’ Reactor 1 was restarted on Tuesday after having been shut down the day before due to a broken meter. .... The blaze started shortly after 9am at Ringhals’ Reactor 1 and was extinguished less than an hour later.

Fuel cells can also run electric cars, and GM for instance are in progress to reducing precious metal use in them to around the same level as in the catalytic converters in conventional cars.

And as I understand it, if you are using hydrocarbons in hot fuel cells - almost $0 precious metals once one gives up on a Hydrogen powered fantasy.

Such systems are supposed to have a far better conversion ratio of energy into motion than ICE based systems.

Zinc is also an excellent material for batteries

I liked such arguments better when in sonnet form along with the engineer drawings.

oil running low is going to crash society. I don't think it will.

Oil isn't running low. $5 and $10 a barrel oil is "running low". Any society, economic system and assets built on $5 and $10 a barrel oil useage patterns will have a problem. That $5 and $10 a barrel society is crashed. The society built on a barrel of oil priced at 1 Yergin is crashed.

No, I don't think any supply constraints in fossil fuels will crash society, but they will force a multitude of reorganizations. We won WWII on 6 mbpd and we could do it again if we had to. What I do think is those exurbs in the middle of nowhere tanked in value in the last financial crisis and those rings of unreachable tracts will continue shrinking as oil get ever more expensive. Obviously, all these alternative energies cost more than fossil fuels or else we would have employed them already. But that is no reason to think they won't be further developed to the extent that we can afford to develop them.

It is not just the quantity that matters - the cost matters too.

It's not really as obvious as you paint it.

What you overlook in such an assessment is that fossil fuels are highly profitable, and their ongoing sources can be controlled by large interests, who can thus benefit from them, while poo-poohing the external costs and damages like pollution, climate change and resource wars.

Clean Alternatives are Expensive in their Startup Costs, but steadily recover that expense with their minimal running costs, no need for dangerous supply routes, and unholy alliances.

We would only have employed them already if we hadn't had a perpetual barrage of disinformation from extremely wealthy energy companies and countries keeping their subscribers distracted from doing any real math.

High FF costs don't have to be a problem per se. One person's cost is another person's income. You can see that dynamic at work as we speak. The economic activity in the states where the oil industry has a significant presence are economically doing measurably better than those states that don't have FF related activity. What matters probably more than the absolute level of price/expense is how that revenue on the flipside of that coin is distributed.


If FFs go up in price, that means we will spend more resources (materials and labor) to extract them. Sure spending resources on a hole in the ground counts as GDP, but it doesn't create good and services for humans, its just economic activity spent to get something we used to get with a lot less effort. The world wide oil&gas capital expenditures hit something like $^%)B last year. That is a lot of capital kicking that can. Couldn't that capital have been better spent building renewables and efficiency instead? It just shows how horribly out of kilter our priorities are.

Whether a person spends a dollar on gas (and therefore a company receives a dollar in revenue or spends that same dollar on solar panels (and therefore a company receives that dollar) strictly from a GDP POV those dollars are the same. Same on the extraction side - Whether society spends money on a roughneck or a math teacher makes GDP wise no difference.
Any increase in expenditures equals an increase in revenue.
The question at hand is not one of how expensive or cheap something is - those are largely anchoring phenomena both across goods as well as across time - but over which time frame a particular allocation of resources (in the broader, non-commodity sense)is optimal.

It is tricky question because aside from ideology and preferences there is another factor at work, one that may not be obvious until you see it: innovation, both technical and cultural, stand on the shoulders of the work of others.
It would have been impossible for society to have invented LED bulbs in 1750. Not because people back then did not have the mental capacity but because the required body of knowledge creating the foundation for such discovery did not exist yet.
As a bit more practical example, new data centers often are way more efficient than those of even a few years ago. This is largely because society demanded cheap, fast mobile computing devices, and as it turned out the chips in those devices can function in server farms with a fraction of the energy consumption. In very real way the iPhone you have helped decrease server farm energy consumption.


The immediate question is whether peak oil means that society must collapse.

I agree with you that the answer is most likely negative, and that it won't crash society. At least in the permanent sense of the word.

What seems more likely to me is that it will force a restructure to accommodate resource limits, and that far more of our capital will be directed toward energy production, with less available for consumer goods, powered personal transportation devices (automobiles), and enjoyable but unnecessary travel to the ends of the earth. Also precluded by the newly evolving paradigm (my vision, remember), will be long distance transportation of perishable goods. I may be wrong on the last item since it is possible that solar powered ships, as well as new designs of wind powered ships, might be able to travel sufficiently fast and power refrigeration as well, to allow such. Transportation of grains, dry goods, etc., is more apt to continue, while overland transport will devolve to rail based freight lines. I see air travel and use in food transport as a dead-end though.

Information will still be transmitted over the internet, though I believe that future improvements in computers will be focused more on limiting energy use and conserving resources than the outlandish constant growth for growth's sake we see today.

I am not sure about your reference to Jevon's paradox. It looks to me like, if anything can derail society it will be J'sP.

Nice to see the board used to discuss ideas like this. Thanks for your comment.


The immediate question is whether peak oil means that society must collapse.

Since there are a lot of other sources, including other fossil fuels, which clearly have limitations but not so severe as for gas, but also including massively larger resource bases such as nuclear and solar, then answer is clearly no, in my view.

That is indeed a key question, but you need a more nuanced and informed view of the issues before you can say yea or nay.

First, peak oil is a problem of transportation fuel. Sure there are base power issues as FF turn down, but it's transportation where it really bites.

Second, the world doesn't suffer in an averaged way. One of the characteristics is that the hit will be profoundly non-uniform on the way down - regions, countries, conurbations) meaning the implicit rate of change gets magnified (the 'lands model).

Last, scale, rate, laws and funds. It takes time to scale anything, the more mechanical it is, the longer that scaling takes. Amounts are less important than rates, in adoption, maximum pace of chance, as well as production resources. Laws and the financing of change also act to slow movement - particularly as politicians and proletariats behave more and more irrationally in response to stress.

Put that together and you have a situation where large scale change in the availability (and secondarily cost) of transportation hit a society quickly, with an inability and unwillingness to change the structures of that society to adapt (tighten our belts and it will blow over). That creates a situation worse than has been seen in the 'Arab Spring' - with those who have nothing left to lose lashing out at the society they inhabit - at exactly the time they need to pull together.

I think you will clearly see more collapses than adaptations - and the consequent effect on the ones that remain of the loss of suppliers/markets will probably pull the majority down in the end.

It depends on how one defines collapse. A pretty good argument can be made that collapse is underway now. Beside that a lot of canaries in this coal mine we live on are are disappearing each day, humanity seems to be losing ground on many fronts. All of the handwaving and proposed faux adaptations being forwarded upthread don't change that we, collectively, are deeply invested in a course with one general result; destructive testing of all systems neccessary for survival.

Couldn't have designed it better myself :-0

Collapse is one of those things I think you know when you see them.

Is Greece in collapse? Well to a certain definition the answer is yes. Nobody seriously thinks they can pay back their debt, or that the previous status quo can be recovered. Yet there has been much less in the way of riots and lynching that one might expect. The greek populous does seem to hang on to the idea that things will get better, and the rough times can be ridden out.

So I'd say Greece hasn't really collapsed, not yet.

To get a true collapse, I think we have to reach a situation where 'fight or flight' kicks in. Where you get an avalanche of realisation that 'its over man'. That's connected with not having anything, wanting to hang on to that stuff you no longer have, and losing the hope that it's temporary. Everything up until that point may have set the scene, but it's the breaking of the connections that make the system of society work that signals the true collapse.

But why would that happen? We still know how to farm. We still know how to build things. We still know how to operate society.

Sure, we have economic issues because energy is a bit more expensive. So we need to adjust. Keep calm and carry on.

We still know how to farm.

Do we? What percentage of the population knows how to farm, compared to say the Great Depression era? Who actually produces food in the US?

Why do concepts like return on investment not matter?

Why do societies fail and civilizations collapse, or why would ours be different?

Societies fail and civilizations collapse when the resources, environment and arrangments that built and sustain them become increasingly constrained. It's mostly about flow rates, and collapse is a process, though sometimes a single event can be the cause (war, natural disasters, abrupt climate change, etc.). Human-caused catabolic collapse, as Leanan mentions, is hard to see in real time. The symptoms are large scale efforts at substitution, increasing real costs for essential goods and services, political impotence, increasing societal and economic divisions/inequality, basic long-accepted rights being usurped and constrained, and evermore desperate attempts to maintain and restore lifestyles that are no longer sustainable. Growth that matters grinds to a stop, replaced by attempts to continue growing with things that don't matter, ie: monument building, "bread and circuses", etc..

Sound familiar? The signs are everywhere.

As for Greece, definately undergoing another collapse. It's being kept afloat by external inputs it can no longer afford, reliance upon credit and charity, and inertia. Worldwide, the availability of and reliance upon credit hides collapse well, for a while. This constant reshuffling of the cards won't change the fact that the trump cards are slowly being burned with each reshuffle. When our current civilization will be forced to fold is anyone's guess, but the longer it takes, the deeper in the hole we are. At some point, Nature will send Guido around to collect....

Yup. We need to think about these issues in terms of complex systems and interactions rather than in terms of isolated technical problems to be solved. Near as I can tell our society is collapsing anyway, for the reasons such things usually occur. Peak oil is not really the cause, merely a trigger.

Our society is built on certain characteristics, certain expectations.

We could no more go back to subsistence farming than we could go live on the moon - it just doesn't work for the population size, skill base, or expectations. We can't get there from here, and nobody would want to.

Forget the idea of the pastoral idyll, it's as unrealistic as abiotic oil.

So because subsistence farming will not support the "population size, skill base, or expectations", and because "nobody would want to", then is is impossible?

Our society, or some descendants of it, will certainly return to subsistence farming. It is quite easy to get there from here, all that is required is to keep trying to perpetuate the existing fossil fuel dependent system. It won't be idyllic and it won't support the population or material wealth and lifestyle people expect now, but that does not mean it will not or cannot happen.

Why is the idea of limits so hard to grasp, and why do we feel we always get to choose how things will work out?

Collapse is one of those things I think you know when you see them.

I disagree with this. Looking at past societies that collapsed...they did not seem to recognize it when it was happening. Perhaps because it's so slow.

Sure, there are the "stair steps down," but from the point of view of someone living through it, it's impossible to tell whether it's the beginning of the end or just a crisis that will be overcome.

Many here thought Katrina was the end of New Orleans. And maybe historians, looking back, will agree that it was. But it's not evident now, when the city seems on the way to recovery.

Similarly, many countries have suffered financial crises, and eventually recovered.

Collapse, like peak oil, is only visible in the rear view mirror.

I disagree with your disagreement. When Rome burned, people left. Sure there might have been some left in the ruins, but the society died. What Rome was, ended.

And they didn't have lack of oil creating lack of transportation to put the full stop on their civilisation's time in the spotlight.

We aren't even as resilient as they were.

Finance will be enough to make it quite obvious that the collapse has come - hell, it's probably likely to CAUSE the final collapse. When the ships stop coming, the pipelines don't flow, the refineries are shut, the civilisation will die inside 4 meals.

Rome took hundreds of years to collapse. In fact, historians looking back today do not agree on when the Western Roman empire "collapsed." I'm sure it was even less clear to those living through it.

Not sure what you mean by Rome burning. If you mean the Great Fire (which Nero supposedly fiddled during), it happened centuries before the end of the Roman empire. In fact, some accused Nero of setting the fire to clear space to build his villa.

I don't think doubling the economy will mean twice the cars. A lot of rich country car markets are already saturated.

A lot of transportation may shift to overhead powerlines, which don't require batteries.

aardvark :

"- Yes. Lithium Ion battery technology is improving at 7%-8% a year. "

For those of you out there that are interested in Lithium-Ion battery research, I put together a characterization approach for modeling Li+ battery discharge profiles here:

I was fortunate to have attended a week-long training course on Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology last month, which turned out to be very informative. What I find is that any time you can get that buried in the details, something usually jumps out at you and catches your interest.

In this case, what caught my eye was how disordered the anode storage matrix is in a typical Li+ based battery such as LiFePO4 and LiFeSO4F. So I solved the equations for discharge under greater amounts of uncertainty, and the results were surprising in how well they fit published discharge profiles.

The research in electrochemistry still mainly revolves around putting various materials together in complex ways, but occasionally one can step back and describe the mechanisms very cleanly in mathematical terms. After looking at the results, it seems as if the disorder and uncertainty is a benefit in maintaining a more level discharge voltage and current. The spread in the material characteristics tends to even out the flow of diffusing ions, which is good for practical applications.

Beating the fossil-fuel grip is going to take lots of incremental advances and spread over a range of technologies, but I think we may get there yet.

Uh . . . that is a nice set of equations but what does it all mean?

What is your opinion on the ability of the industry to reduce prices and increase energy density?

"Uh . . . that is a nice set of equations but what does it all mean?"

It's like getting Ohm's Law correct. If the equations don't match the data, you can't model the component and it is less useful for analysis during engineering design of battery management electronics (i.e. when to regenerate the charge, etc)

The red dots are a fit to the discharge data (black curve labeled 1) according to the new model. The other curves are poor fits ref [1]

Here is another case, ref [2]:

The red dots lie on top of the data whereas the best attempt previously was the black line. That seems a pretty horrible fit to me, and the new model works really well.

I didn't understand why the conventional models were so awful, and so that's why I tried to improve on them.

[1] A. Churikov, A. Ivanishchev, I. Ivanishcheva, V. Sycheva, N. Khasanova, and E. Antipov, “Determination of lithium diffusion coefficient in LiFePO< sub> 4 electrode by galvanostatic and potentiostatic intermittent titration techniques,” Electrochimica Acta, vol. 55, no. 8, pp. 2939–2950, 2010.
[2]C. Delacourt, M. Ati, and J. Tarascon, “Measurement of Lithium Diffusion Coefficient in Li y FeSO4F,” Journal of The Electrochemical Society, vol. 158, no. 6, pp. A741–A749, 2011.


Reading the prospectus, that was a pretty high-powered course. Did the instructors have any views on the future of EVs?

"Reading the prospectus, that was a pretty high-powered course. Did the instructors have any views on the future of EVs?"

The instructors that mentioned oil depletion were realists. They all knew that EVs were the only path forward, and relying on fossil fuels was a dead end.

One instructor said that the Better Place strategy was doomed from the start, because no one wants to swap batteries. That shows that they weren't trying to oversell.

In my experience such people overlook the possibilities of electrified rail. EVs are *NOT* the only way forward.

A recent essay on Paris


Best Hopes for Frid connected EVs,


It was a course on road vehicles, not rail vehicles, so the options were on the path forward for road-worthiness.
I made my opinion known that I was more a fan of carbon-fiber road bikes in any case :)

I love your optimism and I hope you are right and I see the importance of rail etc...but I would also like to add one thing --- How important are individuals that they need to travel over 200 miles in a day? A lot of these solutions would work great with infrastructure change......before putting solar on your house spend money to make it more efficient, I see a lot of fat in the states that could be cut and probably give people a better quality of life. If you can sell them on a $4.50 dollar can of coconut water you can sell them on anything, just need the right pitch man or woman. I live in Mt and used to laugh at the ignorant people buying FIJI water in bottles...now I just cry...


A recent advance in the energy density of vanadium electroylte for use in van redox batteries, achieved by an Irish commercial/university consortium has an interesting effect on the economics of light rail systems were they to be powered by an onboard vanadium redox battery, it brings the marginal cost of operation down by approx 25% and reduces the capex by perhaps 15%.

Expect an announcement within 12 months, incidentially Ireland ran a battery powered train on a commuter line between 1930 and 1949 until it was replaced by a diesel set chiefly because the original manufacturer was no longer in business owing to the economic effects of WW2.

360MW bidders get one-month extension

Construction of the plant is expected to begin January 20, 2014, while commissioning of the new capacity is set for two years later on January 2016.

The 360MW project, which is expected to introduce LNG to the fuel, is the primary means by which Government plans to slash energy costs by about one-third. In the process, it will replace old generating units, some of which were commissioned four decades ago.

So far, one comment from some dude,calling himself "Solar Man" ;-)

Alan from the islands

From "Big Green, not Big Oil, is the Enemy", emphasis added:

There is no contest from an economic point of view. Solar, wind and other “alternatives” favoured by the greens are not and will never be viable. From a thermodynamic point of view they will never amount to much more than one percent of world energy demand without massive and unsustainable government subsidies.

"Never" used twice, and then

Fossil fuels, headed by the recent emergence of shale hydrocarbons -- arguably the biggest energy story in decades -- have offered an imposing argument for the world dependency on them in the foreseeable future. The future of oil and gas is not solar and wind; the future of oil and gas is oil and gas."

Nevertheless beyond their "foreseeable future" (time period not otherwise specified) the authors remain certain that the "alternatives" will not be viable!

"From a thermodynamic point of view they will never amount to much more than one percent of world energy demand without massive and unsustainable government subsidies."

And the other 99% of "world energy demand" will be for what? Slave labor?

That could mean the world just would forever want 100 times more energy than what is thermodynamically available.

Not sure how massive government subsidies would improve that situation though :)

I think most people who advocate wind and solar realise that it can only provide a fraction of the current energy demand (more than the 1% quoted). That is why reducing demand is as important as finding alternative energy sources. We will not have free energy slaves that oil provides around forever.

Oh I think it can provide a very large fraction. It will take time. But the people that say "But they only supply 1%!" are looking at it backwards. I say "Yes, that's right. Isn't it great?!?! There is SO MUCH ROOM TO GROW!" Germany is showing it can be done. I'm not an absolutist . . . I don't think we need to provide 100% renewable in the next couple hundred years or so. But I think we can provide a huge percentage of it.

It is hard for me not to feel that way considering that the PV system I'm building will supply both my car and my house with all the net energy they will need for the next 25 years. And it will only cost about what an average family pays for gasoline in 4 years.

And yes, we need to reduce demand. But I think that can largely be done with very little change in lifestyle. Much of it is very simple . . . swapping out traditional bulbs with LEDs as our friend does up in Halifax, getting rid of remaining tube TVs and replacing them with LED backlit panels, putting home entertainment centers on powerstrips that can turn it all off with one switch, making 'always on' things like refrigerators, DVRs, etc. as efficient as can be.

I saw a couple of APC power strips in Office Depot, today, that had built in on/off time controls.


1% only?

Just yesterday here in California 2% of electricity demand was met by solar (and that doesn't count net-metered installations, of which there is over 1 GW of capacity.

Wind was 4%. Sum of all renewables was 13% and that excludes large hydro plants.

Utility scale solar is only getting started here in California there's another 2 GW of solar scheduled to come online this year.

Any nearly anyone can install enough PV on their roof to offset a large chunk of their energy bill.

The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is no longer accepting applications for PG&E residential but I doubt that slows things down. The panels have got so cheap and there is the Federal 30% tax-credit still. The installers are continuing to offer no-money-down systems. So I think it will continue to grow.

Especially with people buying these $199/month EVs. If you get solar, you can keep your electricity costs pretty cheap thus drive with a very low fuel cost. It is no accident that Elon Musk has both a PV company (Solar City) and an EV company (Tesla). The PV and EV combo works well due to the tiered rate system that encourages people to be efficient.

Any nearly anyone can install enough PV on their roof to offset a large chunk of their energy bill.

If you do it right, most California SFHs can easily provide all their net electricity needs with solar. This does mean being efficient and a good PV system design. I felt bad for the person who's PV system design I cribbed some info from. It was only a 2.9KW system but it easily could have been much more for not much additional cost. If you are going to bother going through the hassle of pulling permits then why not build a system that will cover ALL your electricity needs. Or better yet . . . more than all your needs. The equipment is cheap, it is the permitting and installation that are the big costs now so maximize your returns.

All true in my experience. I started off just last year with a piddling 1kWp and quickly realized what you say. So now I have 5kW sitting next to my workshop, which is a huge overkill given that my average daily use is 5-6kwhrs. But it's because I am looking forward to electric car and a mini-split heat pump.

I think it's important to note what a lot of people have already mentioned in passing- the change in attitude when it soaks into the new PV owner's head that this is sorta free electricity. Once you have it, and when the sun is bright, you have a flood of juice that you might as well use, so you have the happy job of finding the most sensible app for something that you have before been using only in a miserly fashion from concern about the future.

More and more people around here are jumping on this new situation, and PV is exploding.

Ah, um, I mean PV use is booming. Nobody dead yet.

where are you? here many people will say it is just not feasible given our cheap abundant energy..I live in MT

Which way cheap? Cheap because I am not paying for what it does to my grandkids' world, or cheap because it doesn't mess up the world for my grandkids.

Cheap for the first reason is not cheap. The second kind is what I call cheap. Solar is cheap. I can afford it. I can't afford the first kind of cheap.

I live in as ordinary a place as you can get in the US- western foothills of appalachia- smack-dab average.

Where I live PV is busting out all over. And none of it counts in CAISO's renewables charts. So when we reach the mandated 33%, the actual penetration will be much much higher than that.

Or better yet . . . more than all your needs. The equipment is cheap, it is the permitting and installation that are the big costs now so maximize your returns.

This was the way we decided to go. The cost of the hardware was really not that bitg a deal compared with the hassle of the project. So the idea of just getting more than needed made sense to us. We may need more power in the future, or the terms of the net-meter agreement may change. And what if we generate more power than we use and don't get paid for it... so what? We're still offsetting CO2 that would otherwise be generated.

So we went ahead and put in 10kw of panels, 9.6kw inverters, since that was the max allowed under the net-meter agreement without upgrading service and paying for a special study. No downside, as far as we're concerned.

https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/fTfF96479 - a bit cloudy today

if we generate more power than we use and don't get paid for it... so what?
You obviously don't have the conservative mindset. The chance of someone getting something of ours for free is just too horrible to contemplate.

Yeah, I'm not even sure what happens if I generate more power than I use. I sort of remember some law being passed saying they need to pay me but I'm not sure. But I don't really care, that is not the point. And if they do pay, I think it is at a pretty low wholesale rate and that's fine.

Yet Another One Bites The Dust: Miles Electric Gone Bust

Miles Electric, founded in 2004, made headlines with the first street-legal Chinese-made automobile sold in the United States. Its ZX40 was made by FAW Tianjin, a subsidiary of Volkswagen and Toyota joint venture partner FAW.

Miles sold into one of the few niches where EVs make sense: It made what usually are called ESVs, essential services vehicles, low-speed all-electric means of transportation used in parking enforcement, security, shipping and delivery, and grounds maintenance.

Miles built and sold NEVs. NEVs are not allowed to go more than 25 mph and are limited to roads with speed limits of 35mph or less. And the only tax-credit for an NEV is 10% up to $2500.

Full-speed EV cars qualify for up to a $7500 tax-credit as long as it has at least 16KWH of battery in there. So who is going to buy an NEV when you can pay just a couple thousand or so more and get a full-speed crash-test EV? Almost no one. So the current EV tax-credit pretty much killed the NEV category.

"Miles sold into one of the few niches where EVs make sense" . . . pffft. You can now buy a Mitsubishi-i for pretty much the same price so why buy the slow-speed vehicle?

I have seen small electric cars used to deliver mail. They are more or less special purpose built and are usually driven about 50 metres between each mailbox. In this case electric make sense. It also make sense for forklifts indoors for several reasons.

Hybrid buses would make sense to reduce pollution. Basic problem is the bus produce the most pollution then they start and release it at the passengers who just left the bus.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration [CCS]: Research, Development, and Demonstration at the U.S. Department of Energy

To date, there are no commercial ventures in the United States that capture, transport, and inject industrial-scale quantities of CO2 solely for the purposes of carbon sequestration. However, CCS RD&D has embarked on commercial-scale demonstration projects for CO2 capture, injection, and storage. The success of these projects will likely influence the future outlook for widespread deployment of CCS technologies as a strategy for preventing large quantities of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere while U.S. power plants continue to burn fossil fuels, mainly coal.

Given the pending EPA rule, congressional interest in the future of coal as a domestic energy source appears directly linked to the future of CCS. In the short term, congressional support for building new coal-fired power plants could be expressed through legislative action to modify or block the proposed EPA rule.

... In addition to the issues and programs discussed above, other factors might affect the demonstration and deployment of CCS in the United States. The use of hydraulic fracturing techniques to extract unconventional natural gas deposits recently has drawn national attention to the possible negative consequences of deep well injection of large volumes of fluids.

These practices have raised concerns about possible leakage as fluids are pumped into and out of the ground, and about deep-well injection causing earthquakes. Public concerns over hydraulic fracturing and deep-well injection of produced waters may spill over into concerns about deep-well injection of CO2. How successfully DOE is able to address these types of concerns as the large-scale demonstration projects move forward into their injection phases could affect the future of CCS deployment

Unapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Discovered in Oregon: Status and Implications

... The presence of GE wheat in the market could have significant trade implications if the variety turns out to be widespread. The United States is a major wheat exporter, exporting about 50% of its wheat crop. About 90% of Oregon’s wheat crop is exported. Many countries, including Japan, the European Union, and South Korea, have zero tolerance policies regarding imports of unapproved GE varieties. Japan, the largest buyer of U.S. wheat, and South Korea have temporarily halted imports of U.S. soft white wheat grown in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

Should the investigation show that the contamination is from commingled seed, or that the genetically engineered (GE) wheat is widely dispersed, the trade implications could be more significant.

Earthquake Risk and U.S. Highway Infrastructure: Frequently Asked Questions

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Countries: Comparative Trade and Economic Analysis

Renewable energy: World invests $244 billion in 2012; shift to developing countries underway

For only the second time since 2006, global investments in renewable energy in 2012 failed to top the year before, falling 12% mainly due to dramatically lower solar prices and weakened US and EU markets.

Total renewable power capacity worldwide exceeded 1,470 GW in 2012, up 8.5% from 2011. Wind power accounted for about 39% of renewable power capacity added followed by hydropower and solar PV, which each accounted for approximately 26%. Solar PV capacity reached the 100 GW milestone, surpassing bio-power to become the third largest renewable technology in terms of capacity in operation, after hydro and wind.

The main issue holding back investment last year: ongoing renewable energy policy instability in important developed-economy markets, according to twin reports issued today: ...

Study finds moving some computer services to cloud would save significant energy

A six-month study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Northwestern University with funding from Google has found that moving common software applications used by 86 million U.S. workers to the cloud could save enough electricity annually to power Los Angeles for a year. The study is summarized in a report (The Energy Efficiency Potential of Cloud-Based Software: A U.S. Case Study) issued today.

The report looks at three common business applications—email, customer relationship management software, or CRM, and bundled productivity software (spreadsheets, file sharing, word processing, etc.). Moving these software applications from local computer systems to centralized cloud services could cut information technology energy consumption by up to 87 percent—about 23 billion kilowatt-hours. This is roughly the amount of electricity used each year by all the homes, businesses and industry in Los Angeles.

Maybe we could let the NSA handle the server end of it.

Hmmm, the study is funded by Google, a big cloud provider. Foregone conclusion.

Sure, huge cloud computing providers can share server resources more efficiently than a company datacenter can. But the electric bill is a small part of the overall IT budget in most companies, and it's harder to put a price tag on factors like control and security of sensitive data.

And somehow, I suspect, an Android phone would be just the ticket to access the thus clouded data? Back to mainframe (err, I mean, "the cloud") and terminal (err, "smartphone") access we go!

A six-month study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Northwestern University with funding from Google has found that moving common software applications used by 86 million U.S. workers to the cloud could save enough electricity annually to power Los Angeles for a year. The study is summarized in a report (The Energy Efficiency Potential of Cloud-Based Software: A U.S. Case Study) issued today.

That's not entirely true, they forgot to mention that when I am not using my laptop I shut it down, but servers keep running at full power even with lower number of users just to accommodate a surge of users. Like everything there is a sweet spot to the whole cloud-power-consumption story, given the privacy, ownership and ease of use implications I'll stick to keeping my data in my own PC.

Richard Stallman says that cloud computing is a trap, cloud wasn't the reason he worked so hard to build all that software.

I think modern compute farms can do better than run flat out all the time. Data center managers are aware that power (and cooling) are major costs. Many cpu chips can throttle back the voltage/clock when they aren't needed (though memory not so much), whereas few computer users turn theirs on/off waiting for slow boot/shutdown is a real pain.

Exhibit A : Reducing Server Power Consumption

Servers in data centers waste a substantial amount of energy. The reason is that servers are deployed and configured for peak capacity, performance and reliability, usually at the expense of efficiency. Such waste unnecessarily increases capital and operational expenditures, and can result in finite resources (particularly power and space) being exhausted, thereby creating a situation where the organization might outgrow its data center(s).

Of course there are ways to dial down power consumption but business needs sometimes overpower those after all you don't want your site to crash because everyone's watching some new Justin Bieber video. I am not saying that this is the case everywhere (There is plenty of work going in the field of server power consumption), but this shouldn't be taken as some mantra.

Modern PC's and laptops also power down in the same way as servers when not in use, shutdown is not necessary.

How many will want to use cloud servers once they realise just how many people have access to their data?


Web privacy is over rated. Most people don't bother about who is viewing their photos online. It's not that privacy itself not valued (no one wants to see anyone peeking through their windows) it's just that our brains are not designed to process the way privacy works on internet, only geeks and nerds are able to understand this concept.

Web privacy is over rated.

And that is why people are known as notanoilman and wiseindian here on TOD as examples.

- signed Eric Blair.

TOD is for geeks, to understand what I meant you should join Facebook.

Considering Dear Leader of Facebook has the following attitude:

"I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS," he said. "People just submitted it. I don't know why. They 'trust me'. Dumb f----."

I won't be joining anytime soon with the ownership being out of control.

Does anyone have a copy of the 2011 API Joint Association Survey on Drilling Cost? Or access to a library that has an electronic copy?

EIA drilling cost statistics stopped being updated with 2007 being the last year with complete data. RigZone (and many others) reported the highlights from the 2011 JAS and some of the information is very interesting:

$125 billion was spent drilling 44k oil and gas wells for an average cost of $2.8 million per well.
of that
$65.5 billion was spent drilling 10k shale oil and gas wells for an average cost of $6.4 million per well.

Cheap shale gas? You be the judge.

I would really like to see how the per foot costs have changed over the last 4 years.


Equally interesting would be statistics showing ratio of drilling expense to total cost for oil and gas. How much of what is paid is the actual cost of recovery, how much is transportation, how much processing, and how much profit?


Yes. What we really want to know is how is the cost changing to deliver X good or service. For example how much does it cost to move a ton of freight? Because in the end, that is really what we care about.

I would like to see that explored for each major use of energy. So to build buildings, transport people, goods, etc.

Hall and Murphy found that 60% of the energy used in the transportation system was used to move the oil, refine it, move the gasoline, build the roads, build the cars and trucks. Another 10% or so doing the drilling for oil (or 25% for in-situ tar sands). So only 30% to 15% of the energy remains and we have not even started the engine yet! It is easy to see why small changes in the price of oil tip society from growth to decline.

We need more whole systems analysis (even though it is really complex). Tom Murphy did this neat comparison of water heating efficiency. Microwaves seem great, until you factor in efficiency of the coal burning power plant.


Gas ovens in his example are terrible, unless what you really need is a warm house, and baking comes along free for the ride. What is the whole system efficiency?

What do you make of Adam Brandt's June 10th post and ongoing discussion - EROI and oil sands etc?

Phil H

Yes, Jon raises some very interesting points. This is an incredible factoid if true:

"Hall and Murphy found that 60% of the energy used in the transportation system was used to move the oil, refine it, move the gasoline, build the roads, build the cars and trucks. Another 10% or so doing the drilling for oil (or 25% for in-situ tar sands). So only 30% to 15% of the energy remains and we have not even started the engine yet! It is easy to see why small changes in the price of oil tip society from growth to decline."

Over on RealClimate.org somebody mentioned on this month's open thread that

"Fortunately, there is a LOT of low hanging fruit — for example the 58 percent of the USA’s primary energy consumption that is outright WASTED (according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), or the coal-fired power plants that can be replaced with wind and solar much more quickly and at much lower cost than most people realize."

I don't think much gasoline is wasted once it goes into the tank. Unless they are talking about joy-riding?

Adam was kind enough to send over his paper and I have not had a chance to read the whole thing.

Hall and Murphy found that 3:1 was the minimum EROI society needed to have. So I would guess that tar sands does not have a high enough EROI for growth. The key for me is how much natural gas does it use? Low EROI energy sources get subsidy from another energy source.

Say conventional oil is 20:1 EROI or 5% energy used. 60% consumed refining, transporting, roads, cars, etc. So a surplus of 35%. Then EROI falls to tar sands 4:1 or 25% of energy used. Now the surplus is only 15%. That is a huge drop. Oil makes up 40% of US energy supply. So a 20% drop of 40% is an 8% drop in primary energy. Like losing the whole nuke fleet. That has to have an impact. That has to cause a contraction.

It depends where the energy inputs come from.

Here is a link the the Hall and Murphy paper "What is the minimum EROI a sustainable society must have?"


The source of the energy input is the key point in all these EROEI-ish discussions. When the energy put into a system is renewable and the process as a whole ends up with 1 btu more than it started with society is ok.
no blog link this time.
It's a bit frustrating for me to see so many smart people wrestle with efficiency vs sustainability....As long as the inputs into energy extraction are non-renewables you will eventually run out, no matter how efficient you are. Whether it takes 1bbl of FF to extract 2bbls of FFs or when 1 bbl of FFs extracts 100bbls worth of FFs, the direction is the same way: eventually you'll extract zero.
Only if renewable inputs are used to create renewable outputs society has a chance.


I don't think much gasoline is wasted once it goes into the tank. Unless they are talking about joy-riding?

Not much. Only 80% of it is wasted as heat once it gets to the engine.

100% of it ends up as heat once it reaches the engine, unless you are going up hill.

The only question is how much useful work it does in the mean time. Passenger miles per KWh, or
Kilogramme miles per KWh for freight. Under ideal conditions my car will return 10 passenger miles per KWh ( 5 passengers, steady 50 MPh). Ford explorer with just the driver ? nearer 0.4

I am sure when he talks about Lawrence Livermore's 58% of energy wasted he means the 55.6 Quads of energy thrown off as waste heat by burning coal and oil. Given 97.3 Quads of total energy used, that comes to 57.1% wasted.

The problem is, you can't get around the laws of thermodynamics. It's very hard to get economic value out of low-grade waste heat.


Everything is lossy, but historically cheap energy especially in the US has led to the use of much more energy than we could manage on.

Some calculations that some of us did showed that a standard of living of around Western European levels, ie not reducing home heating, retaining present levels of mobility etc could be done on an energy flow of around 1.5kw per capita.

The US would use a bit more, due to bigger houses and so on.

The US grid is around 33% efficient, and even transmission losses are around 7%.

Visiting a few high spots on energy efficiency, oil is almost all used for transport.
The US light vehicle fleet could run on around 100GWe of energy, around the output of the US nuclear fleet.

Now although the generation of nuclear power is not terribly efficient, since the fuel is so cheap and carbon emissions tiny, that really does not matter, and in fact the gross output of the US nuclear fleet including waste heat is around 300GW.

There are various ways a good chunk of this could be used, including using it to up the efficiency of hydrogen electrolysis, but really, just like solar arrays which in much of the US could also provide much of the power for cars, the inefficiency does not matter too much.

Solar arrays are only around 15% efficient, but since they are not kicking out carbon, so what?

Efficiency matters far more for coal and gas.

Japan and Germany are fairly far along in commercialising home fuel cells, which would mean that instead of wasting the heat at central generation units, electricity would be produced in the home, with the otherwise waste heat providing hot water.

Heat pumps using centrally generated electricity provide around a factor of 4 gain in energy output, so countering all the generation and transmission losses.

In any case, decent insulation can greatly reduce the massive amounts of energy used for space heating and cooling.

The very fact that present systems are so inefficient means that very large gains can be made relatively easily, and that in turn means that we can provide for increased standards of living on a static or falling total energy budget in the developed world.

For a per capita 1.5kw energy flow, and taking nuclear costs at around $6,000kw, then around $9,000 is needed if it were all to come from nuclear power, as a thought exercise.

Since a new plant has a design life of 60 years, that seems pretty economical to me, and not a problem to finance.

The plant is not the only cost of course.
Heat pumps, insulation, electric cars and so on all cost money.
So does wasting energy as we presently do though.

Solar advocates, of which I am one, will expect that a large input can also come from this source, so overall I would argue that we are in pretty good shape for securing our energy future, peak oil or no, and even accounting for the inroads of entropy! ;-)

EdF wants 100 pounds (US$150) for 40 years guaranteed to build two new EPR reactors in the UK, That is wholesale prices feed into the grid.

This price puts all the risk on EdF (except for contaminating one corner of England for 200+ years), and not the ratepayers of Georgia like Vogtle does.

Your price points are far below the current market price for new nuclear power in OECD nations.


Hall and Murphy found that 60% of the energy used in the transportation system was used to move the oil, refine it, move the gasoline, build the roads, build the cars and trucks. Another 10% or so doing the drilling for oil (or 25% for in-situ tar sands). So only 30% to 15% of the energy remains and we have not even started the engine yet! It is easy to see why small changes in the price of oil tip society from growth to decline.

And what if electrified rail is used ?

Hint: When the highest tunnel in the first American Trans-Continental Railroad was taken out of service a couple of decades ago, they found the original rail still in use.

I read the scheduled maintenance plans for the 58 km Gotthard TransAlp rail tunnel in Switzerland. Design is for 300 trains/day (up to 240 kph) although lower axle loading than North American RRs. Rail and electrical service replaced every 100 years.

The calculations change.



You can check out the history of per well drilling cost at the link above. These are inflation adjusted prices. As you can see, the cost of drilling has exploded upward.

This is the crucial factor for a Limits to Growth type scenario. The investment needed to get the same amount of resource rises rapidly. Investment must then be cut somewhere else and that ends growth. Eventually the cost to get resources rises so high that maintenance of old infrastructure cannot be afforded, and we get decline. Of course it is not perfect and uniform. Some areas keep growing. Some areas decay early.

In nominal (non-inflation adjusted) dollars the average drilling cost has fallen since 2007 from $4.0 million per well. This was expected because of the cut in the rate of drilling. But shale well costs just kept rising. The link below is the history of nominal well cost.


Like you I would love to get my hands on some post 2007 data.

I've done some preliminary work looking at just this. Per foot and per well costs have absolutely skyrocked since 2000.

We are talking ~$100 per foot before 2000 to $900+ in 2007. And <$1,000,000 per rig pre 2000 to $5,000,000+ in 2007.

Cost figures to 2007 found here: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_enr_wellcost_s1_a.htm


It’s a startling assertion because it threatens the faith that many economists place in technological progress. Brynjolfsson and McAfee still believe that technology boosts productivity and makes societies wealthier, but they think that it can also have a dark side: technological progress is eliminating the need for many types of jobs and leaving the typical worker worse off than before. ­Brynjolfsson can point to a second chart indicating that median income is failing to rise even as the gross domestic product soars. “It’s the great paradox of our era,” he says. “Productivity is at record levels, innovation has never been faster, and yet at the same time, we have a falling median income and we have fewer jobs. People are falling behind because technology is advancing so fast and our skills and organizations aren’t keeping up.”

GM slashes Chevy Volt prices to spur flagging sales

Yeah, there is a price war going on in the EV market right now. It is GREAT for EV purchasers in California, Oregon, and a few other places. But the auto companies are probably hating it. I think it started with Nissan cutting the price of the base model Leaf S down to $28.8K before incentives.

Chrysler then finally came out with an announcement for its Fiat 500e . . . it would have a $199/month lease price and that really raised eyebrows. Chrysler has been whining about being forced to make an EV but they surprised people by making a really nice looking one and offering it cheap.

Chevy then cut the price of the upcoming Spark EV down to $27,495 such that it is less than $20K after the $7500 tax-credit! Yowzaa! (It also has a $199/month lease if you want that.)

Honda has been trying to lease out their Honda Fit EV for nearly $400/month but in view of all these offers, they slashed the price down to $259/month and that includes insurance.

So in view of all those deals, GM had no choice but to offer incentives on the Volt. And in addition to that crop of cheap pure EVs, the Volt also now needs to compete with a crop of other PHEVs now including the plug-in Prius (meh), the Honda PHEV (too expensive), the Ford C-Max Energi (interesting), and the Ford Fusion Energi (pretty nice).

Oh and with all that . . . Mitsubishi practically has to give away the Mitsubishi-i since it is a bit substandard. Too small of a battery.

Hmmmm. I wonder when they'll get to the point where people in my neck of the woods will think they are good value?

Like Hawaii, Jamaica has a small area so, range anxiety is unlikely to be a huge issue. Also like Hawaii, electricity prices are high but, there is significant potential for renewable energy. There are people who can afford the premium EV command as we have our fair share of Bimmers, Mercedes and Audis on the streets and I have even seen one Porsche Cayene S (MSRP: $65,850) and one Porsche Panamera (MSRP: $75,200).

The government doesn't really have a specific policy for EVs vs hybrids but, hybrids can be imported duty free IIRC. Not having any government incentives for EVs means that the local dealers are not interested and have no plans to sell any EVs. Despite that, less than two hours ago, I saw a Nissan Leaf being driven by a "white guy", probably an expatriate! Maybe the collapse will be slow enough to allow some forward thinking individuals to show the rest, some of the possibilities for life after the oil age.

Alan from the islands

So in view of all those deals, GM had no choice but to offer incentives on the Volt.

Recently, there was an announcement that the next generation of GM Volt would be around $8,000 less expensive.

Best hopes for lower priced non-ICE cars.

Amidst all the corucopian cheerleading, there are reasoned voices who speak to those with money, e.g.

AllianceBernstein: The Shale Oil Revolution Is Already Ending And Oil Prices Are Going To Surge


A free 8 week course in Food Sustainability from Coursera - new

Interesting. Thanks.

Who Is Fooling Who When It Comes to Combating Climate Change?

The scam over carbon credits awarded to the Chinese for destroying HFC gases (that should be illegal) underscores the sloppy thinking over carbon mitigation. Those credits were possible because China is regarded as a 'developing' country or Kyoto Annex II. Now that China is burning nearly half the world's coal they are long past the developing stage. The Europeans are equally culpable by exploiting the cheap carbon credits to excuse their unabated coal burning.

Critics say that the concept of carbon pricing, either carbon tax or cap-and-trade, is flawed. I think the concept is good but the implementation is bad. Apart from bogus carbon credits there are other loopholes you could drive a coal train through. These include free permits and exemptions. For example smelters get 94.5% exemption from Australia's carbon tax which could be why the polls say the government after September will try to abolish it. World wide I would put Arnold Schwarzenegger in charge of carbon pricing as he understands the concept of no pain no gain.

State of emergency declared in Fort McMurray

CBC News, Posted: Jun 11, 2013 2:17 PM MT, Last Updated: Jun 11, 2013 10:44 PM MT

The mayor of Fort McMurray declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday over flooding caused by Hangingstone River overrunning its banks and concerns that the Clearwater River will also flood.

"The state of local emergency is being declared for public safety reasons," Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, said at a council meeting Tuesday evening.

"The consequences of not evacuating residents from the flood zones are too high for us not to act on that immediately."

When it rains it will now pour!

No lack of irony...

Fort McMurray? . . . as in oil sands territory? Is this the Earth fighting back with a feedback loop? ;-)

RMG usually has all the answers to tar sands questions.

I predict after all is said and done it will look as pristine as a golf course. The traps will consist of sulfur mounds, lots of holding ponds for water hazards, some elevated tees, etc. With global warming, a longer golf season in Canada.

Article says there's a boil water advisory, but I'm more curious about the effects the rain/floods will have on the tailings ponds. Boiling water is not going to remove any heavy metals/salts that may seep into the groundwater (at much faster rates than what is already occurring).

Will an independent reporter investigate this? Cause the gov't and corps sure as hell won't report anything.


Some maps and numbers of tailing ponds.

One can always get more info about the original plans for the EIA's at the ftp site for AB EIA applications


(wget with exclusions works well)

And a recap of the previous days posting about the Serengetti of Canada, the Mackenzie


Posted I believe on a previous Drumbeat - the original source


AB also released a few days ago their annual(?) TailingsManagementAssessmentReport2011-2012.pdf

Well . . . I filed my PV system plans with the county. My original drawings were 6 pages of 11 x 17. After reviewing other plans submitted that were approved, I had to add a who bunch of conduit calculations, voltage drop calculations, conductor sizing calculations, overcurrent protection device calculations, lists of where warning labels would go, etc. None of the stuff is difficult, it is just annoying to have to learn how to do it for doing one plan.

The plans ended up at 14 pages of 11 x 17 plus another 14 pages of 11 x 17 with pages of technical specs and what not from the equipment I was using. I'm hoping that the wall of drawings & equations is enough to just get them to approve it. I can see why solar PV costs so much . . . there is a fair amount of busy-work involved.

Well, I hope it gets approved or the changes I need to make are easy. If they start asking for wind load calculations or something esoteric like that, then I'm not sure what I'll do (besides get really mad).

Any possibility you would be willing to share your drawings?

I'd love to have a reference set.

I would be more than happy to share my drawings. In fact I would love to help start a movement for self-installers. I think that self-installers could help propel a rapid change because if you can self-install, it makes no sense NOT to do it. With current electricity prices, the very low cost of PV panels, and the 30% tax-credit, it is crazy not to self-install if you have the skills to do it.

And it is not rocket science. It is basic electrician skills. Any electrical engineer, electrician, construction worker, DIY home-improvement buff, etc. willing to put in a few hours of learning and effort can do it.

Is there a private messaging system on Oil Drum?

I'm not aware of any messaging, but my user name + gmail will get it to me if you email it.

How about placing them in Photobucket or something similar.

Photobucket would work but you'll lose lots of resolution.

Where can I anonymous put some PDF files?

Create a new gmail account and put the files on Google Drive (http://drive.google.com). Make sure you are giving permission to everyone to access the files. Let us know the gmail id (do not use it for personal email, etc)

OK, I did this. Right now it is just a PDF. I created this in Visio and I'll put that up eventually but not yet.

Notes: THIS HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED AND MAY HAVE ERRORS IN IT. But it can serve as something to learn from and start from.


I would love to see this too! Tortiseshell , gmail, etc

and Thank You!

I too would love to see it. aspera2017, gmail.com

I would very much appreciate it them as well. I am in Arizona and have a great roof, would love to self install.

wyatt.cameron at gmail dot com


Spec: What type of monitoring system are you planning? Online, on site, or both?

I've spent much of the last couple of weeks upgrading my monitoring and contol systems. I dug deep and got a new ultra-efficient mainboard and solid state drive; using about 20 watts running my solar software and weather station. Doing maintenance on some stuff: up 'til 1AM replacing a fan in my oldest charge controller. Checking wiring for tightness, stuff like that. Upgraded my software to the latest version of WinverterOB (with FlexDC battery monitor, module coming soon).

For all: Homepower dot com is still the goto place for all things RE, especially residential PV. Many articles there on installs, codes, jumping through regulatory hoops, site analysis, etc.. It's how I got my start many years ago. I especially found the diagrams of various systems (many with pictures) quite useful. Search the site for "PV installs". They sell years of articles on DVD; quite searchable, with explanations of terms, etc.

Most of the better equipment manufacturers have online forums that help a lot, especially in avoiding mistakes that others have made. I always browse the forums when I'm considering a new piece of equipment. It was the forums that moved me away from Trace => Xantrex => Schneider early on when I expanded. Outback's customer service just kicks but. Usually their support picks up without a wait; almost always first call resolution, free firmware updates without hassles, etc.. These things mean alot, especially when one is off grid DIY.

Hey, I'm just an amatuer doing a very simple grid-tied microinverter based system. So I have no batteries, chargers, etc. like you do. I want the system to be 'install and forget'. Once installed you do nothing but maybe hose off dust a couple times a year.

The only monitoring system is the Enphase Envoy. It is a little widget you plug into you home AC and LAN. It then picks up all the microinverter data from the power line and creates a web page that you can look at. I guess you can look at every once in awhile to feel good and make sure all the microinverters are working. If one isn't working you, just shut down the system and replace it. But that shouldn't happen for a decade or two.

The Envoy/Enlighten system is neat. Greenish linked to his system a while back. Here's a system in NV; Mt. Wheeler power:


The main thing is to be able to spot when one of your panels or strings is under-performing. Sometimes it's just a big leaf or bird poop on a panel, but it's a good thing to have some situational awareness. "Install and forget"? We'll see. This stuff is pretty cool, better than watching paint dry ;-)

See a system in your area:


Yeah, the Enphase stuff looks pretty nice. My previous system was an SMA SunnyBoy but that house had a nice unobstructed view of the southern sky. This house is just single story house with some trees around in various directions plus a chimney that will cast a shadow on some panels. So I wanted to go with microinverter system since the shadows will only then affect the panels they are on. (That is another thing people should stop obsessing about . . . having perfect access to the sky and carefully measured site surveys. You can't move your property so just do the best you can with it. Put up the panels and collect what you can.)

I've designed it in a manner wherein I can easily add 9 or so more panels & microinverters by just coupling them to a Soladeck junction box on the roof. I was tempted to do them now but from my calculations, the system I designed should provide more than enough electricity for my EV and my reasonably efficient house. But if I were to have 2 EVs then adding those additional panels would be nice.

Those Soladeck boxes are nice . . . they help make the installations look nice & clean since you can easily run the conduit in the attic instead of on the roof.

Much thanks for those documents speculawyer they are very much appreciated.

Today in Home Power magazine I ran across an article regarding the International Fire Code which has for the first time adopted standards for the installation of solar panels. These include a requirement that there is a 3' minimum setback of panel edges from the ridge, the hips, and the eaves of a a roof plane. The 3' must also be to the inside of the supporting wall - eave overhang cannot be used.

This is to give firefighters a walking path and exposed roof that they can tear into.

So hopefully you get your permit soon before your municipality adopts the code.

This is a bummer. No more 100% coverage on shed roofs, which is a nice look.

Yeah, my original plan had panels all the way up the ridgeline. I was annoyed as is that I had to leave 3' of space empty up at the ridge of the roof which is the best place since there is less shade there. But they said I could go all the way down to the eaves.

Yair . . . speculawyer. As I have posted here before I find that quite amazing. Why?

Is it because you are doing the installation yourself . . . would a contractor have to jump through all the hoops?

As I have mentioned I ordered a 3.2Kw system and then I gave the fellers a hand to install it and it was up and running in under five hours . . . in the pouring rain.

Every thing is standardised and the racking approved and its just a case of bolt it on. We are in a 52 m/s wind speed area too, it doesn't have to be that hard.

All the best with it.


Exactly! This stuff is pretty tinker-toy. As long as you are using some nice fat wires and not going long distances, this stuff is very simple. Throw up the racks, throw up the microinverters or install the string inverter, install some conduit, pull some wires, install the PV panels, install the disconnects, put in a breaker in the main panel and you are done. OK, that is a little over simplified but it is pretty simple stuff.

Maybe because it is I had a father who was a mechanical engineer and could fix almost anything in the house. But I'm just not intimidated and I'm willing to put a little sweat equity into it.

Yes, solar contractors (here in CA) have to jump thru all those hoops.

Navigating the fire dept. bureaucracies and also the local planning bureaucracies takes a lot of time and effort, for every installation.

Also semi-informed or misinformed potential clients require a lot of hand-holding and education. It's good to be thorough as a consumer, it adds cost for everyone to be a major PITA about it.

Most of the hardware is pre-engineered for weight, wind, etc. Good luck if you want to do something 'custom'. Then you need engineers to sign-off...

Installation is the easy part.

Yeah, I feel sorry for all the hoops the contractors have to jump through. But I'm sure the big outfits have it down to a science now. I'm sure they've got macros for what calculations, requirements, and warning labels are needed for each different county/city. But it should easier. I think the DoE should make an incentive program that is contingent on local planning departments adopting a unified simplified code.

But on the other hand, those hoops are probably a good barrier of entry for competitors. And they dissuade self-installers thus potentially giving them more business. But I think that is a bad way to look at it. I suspect that only a tiny percentage of people would consider self-installs . . . heck, most people can't even jump-start their own cars or change flat tires these days. They should be happy with self-installers because they'll talk up the benefits of solar to their neighbors. And they'll increase deployment of PV systems thus increasing the number of units manufactured and thus helping keep the component prices down.

I can see why solar PV costs so much . . . there is a fair amount of busy-work involved.

Yeah - soft costs are now the predominant cost of install PV with the drastic fall in PV panel prices.

This stuff isn't rocket science. These installs really should just be cookie cutter - a simple how-to guide to cover a handful of your typical install scenarios should be all it takes and pulling a permit should be as straight forward as pulling a permit to install an additional circuit on your house.

Well the weather in Dakota and sech places must still be very poor othernwise this total would surely be racing away from what I done read in tha newspaper:

Census: More deaths than births among whites

The USA's largest population group — whites who are not Hispanic — recorded more deaths than births last year for the first time ever, according to an analysis of Census Bureau estimates out today. The milestone reflects the aging of the white population and lower birth rates than those among minorities.

Best hopes for stabilizing population growth for all races.

TRAPPED! IMF rep says without key policy changes, Jamaica will remain in economic rut

"Supposing tomorrow God would give us a wish and that one wish was to get rid of the entire Jamaica debt, [so] you wake up tomorrow morning and you have zero debt," he said, as he sought to illustrate his point. "What guarantee would you have that in five years' time, in 10 years' time, the debt is not exactly back where it was? Ultimately, it is the policies that you are going to put in place," he asserted.

It is not so much the newspaper article itself that is worthy of being posted in this DB, it is the content of a comment by some dude calling himself "Peak Oiler" that, spins in the problem in terms of energy. The comment reads:

One key policy that is adding to the problem is the energy policy, or lack of it. Ever since the oil shocks of the seventies, Jamaica has been getting deeper and deeper into debt, with a major component of that debt being the cost of importation of fuel (oil) to fuel transportation and electricity generation. While it could be said that we could have put the fuel we have imported to more productive uses, at least in the area of electricity generation there is a fundamental dynamic that is being overlooked.

When the JPS was government owned, while providing a valuable albeit unreliable service, it was run at a loss, creating a drain on the public purse and at the same time removing wealth from the local economy to pay for fuel. Now that the JPS is privately owned, it is no longer a drain on the public purse but, with it's customers increasingly being forced to pay the true cost of the energy generated, including the energy lost to electricity theft, it has become a drain on the purses of it's customers, ordinary Jamaicans, companies and the government itself.

The opportunity that the government is missing is best illustrated by looking at the German energy policy. The German energy policy has taken advantage of the technological advances in renewable energy to create a new class of cottage industries in Germany, with a broad base of ownership, all geared towards generating electricity. While reducing Germany's reliance on imported energy, more importantly, these new industries generate wealth on a local level using sustainable, renewable resources.

With it's energy policy, Germany has created a locally owned, renewable energy industry that generates incomes at the local level, fuelling German economic growth while, at the same time, improving that countries balance of payments by cutting fuel imports. There is a lesson in there somewhere!

I'm just curious as whether any of the German members of this forum would say this summary of the results of the German energy policy is essentially correct. Paging Ulenspiegel!

Alan from the islands

UW research: World population could be nearly 11 billion by 2100

A new statistical analysis shows the world population could reach nearly 11 billion by the end of the century, according to a United Nations report issued June 13. That's about 800 million, or about 8 percent, more than the previous projection of 10.1 billion, issued in 2011.

There's no end in sight for the increase of world population, he added, yet the topic has gone off the world's agenda in favor of other pressing global issues, including poverty and climate – both of which have ties to world population.

... The current African population is about 1.1 billion and it is now expected to reach 4.2 billion, nearly a fourfold increase, by 2100. Global population reached 7 billion in 2011. It passed 6 billion in 1999.

This is impossible. No way there are food for 11 bilions 90 years from now.

I'm not convinced of that. Of course the ecological footprint would be awful. But is seems within the realm of industrial possibility. Probably at least as likely, as that we couldn't support 5billion because of various system collapses.

Well, they'd better hurry along and bring Earth II, III & IV on stream P.D.Q. then.
I'm so tired of this idiocy: bring on the collapse, I say. At least leave a few other species alive to carry on.

Another projection has China at just under 900 million people in 2100.

Perhaps sustainable, perhaps not in the world of 2100. But at least a chance that they can avoid famine.

That is how long demographic trends take to wind down populations.


Cuba Girds for Climate Change by Reclaiming Coasts

After Cuban scientists studied the effects of climate change on this island's 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometers) of coastline, their discoveries were so alarming that officials didn't share the results with the public to avoid causing panic.

Climate change may be a matter of political debate on Capitol Hill, but for low-lying Cuba, those frightening calculations have spurred systemic action. Cuba's government has changed course on decades of haphazard coastal development, which threatens sand dunes and mangrove swamps that provide the best natural protection against rising seas.

"Will Cuba become a sustainable destination like Costa Rica?" ... "Or will it go the way of Cancun and much of the rest of the Caribbean that has essentially sacrificed natural areas, marine and coastal ecosystems for economic development in the short run?"

Supreme Court Sides with Oklahoma in Water Fight

WASHINGTON -- With water, water virtually everywhere, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that thirsty Texas counties can't run a pipeline into Oklahoma for more drops to drink.

The decision, which upholds two lower court rulings, is a victory for states' rights over multistate water compacts that are common throughout the West. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion for a unanimous court.

... The battle is critical for nearly 2 million residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth area who get water from the Tarrant Regional Water District. The fast-growing area needs far more water than it has; it warns that if it goes dry, other areas reliant on such compacts could as well.

May have an impact on water availability for hydro-fracking and agricultural use.

EU Law Targets Resource Company Transparency

The European Union and Canada have taken major steps to make oil, gas and mining companies declare payments to governments, widening the drive to end poverty in resource-rich nations by ensuring their wealth is shared out.

The EU parliament approved the most sweeping disclosure law to date, while Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the first time pledged to push forward mandatory reporting requirements for energy and mining companies, bringing a country with one of the world’s largest extractive sectors in developing countries into the transparency push.

However, the drive faces a pushback in the United States, where some of the biggest oil companies represented by the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of US regulations to reveal project payments. They want to void the law.

FEMA Report: Climate Change Could Increase Areas at Risk of Flood by 45 Percent

Rising seas and increasingly severe weather are expected to increase the areas of the United States at risk of floods by up to 45 percent by 2100, according to a first-of-its-kind report released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday. These changes could double the number of flood-prone properties covered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and drastically increase the costs of floods, the report finds.

The report concludes that climate change is likely to expand vastly the size and costs of the 45-year-old government flood insurance program. Like previous government reports, it anticipates that sea levels will rise an average of four feet by the end of the century. But this is what's new: The portion of the US at risk for flooding, including coastal regions and areas along rivers, will grow between 40 and 45 percent by the end of the century. That shift will hammer the flood insurance program. Premiums paid into the program totaled $3.2 billion in 2009, but that figure could grow to $5.4 billion by 2040 and up to $11.2 billion by the year 2100, the report found. The 257-page study has been in the works for nearly five years and was finally released by FEMA after multiple inquiries from Climate Desk and Mother Jones.

... The NFIP went $16 billion in debt on Hurricane Katrina and after Sandy will be $25 billion in the hole, a debt it may be unable repay. The report projects that the average loss on each insured property could increase as much as 90 percent by 2100. If future storm victims aren't forced to eat their losses, taxpayers may have to cover the difference.

Report: The IMPACT of CLIMATE CHANGE and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program through 2100 (12MB pdf)

The FEMA study is based on the assumption that sea levels will go up by four feet in the next 86 years. But a report released last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that sea level rise could be more than six feet.

From the Economist ...

Coastal Cities and Climate Change: You’re going to Get Wet!

Even as seas have risen over the past century, Americans have rushed to build homes near the beach. Storms that lash the modern American coastline cause more economic damage than their predecessors because there is more to destroy. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, a Category 4 storm, caused $1 billion-worth of damage in current dollars. Were it to strike today the insured losses would be $125 billion, reckons AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe-modelling firm. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm, caused $23 billion in damage; today it would be twice that.

Last year Congress required the insurance subsidy that the federal government has long offered to householders who live and build on flood plains to be phased out. Such subsidies, in effect, pay people to live in dangerous places. A region’s preparedness depends in part on how seriously its leaders take climate change.

New York’s plans illustrate that although climate change is global, adaptation is local. In America such things as land-use, zoning, construction and transport are typically under state or local control. That sets America apart from more centralised countries like the Netherlands. As Rohit Aggarwala, a former adviser to Mr Bloomberg, says: “It’s not clear the federal government is the leader on this issue, even if they wanted to be in charge.” During disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may come in to clean up, but evacuation orders come from state and local authorities, and police, fire and medical teams also tend to be employed locally.

Since most US oil is produced from wells more than a couple of years old, it does not follow that a one year 20% increase in investment should increase production by 20%.

Many oil fields are multi-year, 2012 investments may not produce till 2015.


Why America's Shale Oil Boom Could End Sooner Than You Think

America’s oil producers are nervous. They’ve had a great run the past few years. Domestic oil production is up 43% since 2008 to 6.5 million barrels per day, the highest level in decades. The majority of that 2 million bpd jump comes out of the two most successful new oil fields, the Bakken and the Eagle Ford. To develop these and all the other fields nationwide, the top 50 operators invested $186 billion in 2012, according to Ernst & Young. That was a record level of spending, up 20% over 2011.

You’d think that with drillers getting better, honing techniques and driving down costs, that a 20% increase in investment would bring about a more than commensurate increase in oil and gas production volumes, right? And yet according to Ernst & Young, total U.S. oil and gas production was up “just” 13% on the year.

It’s bad enough to be spending more and more to generate ever less growth. It’s worse when that growth doesn’t even translate into profits. Oil and gas companies have spent hundreds of billions acquiring acreage, drilling wells, booking reserves, boosting supplies, but in 2012 they proved too good at their job, found too much gas, cratering the gas price, which made vast shale fields uneconomic to drill at all. In 2012 those 50 biggest companies recorded $26 billion in asset impairment charges — basically natural gas reserves that were worth $26 billion the previous year became worthless because it cost too much to drill them. This led to a 58% decline in after-tax profits in 2012 over 2011.

And you’d better believe the same thing could happen to oil reserves.

But it’s worth thinking about what could happen to the American Oil Boom if oil prices slipped just 10-15% from where they are now.

According to research conducted by that group, in tandem with Yale Prof. Emeritus Paul MacAvoy, a 1 million barrel per day addition to global oil supplies could push prices down by 10%. A 2 million bpd boost would bring it down 20%. If U.S. oil supply growth keeps up at the pace of the last two years, we could add 1 million bpd before the end of 2014.

“In short, if OPEC simply declines to reduce its own production quotas in the face of growing U.S. oil volumes, the American producers could grow themselves right out of the money,” says Hirs.

... the 'Red Queen' is losing ground

But only for a couple of years. This is exactly why the US production has forever been cyclical. About when oil would drop, gas will be screaming back. That's the new aspect -- prices seem to be out of phase.

Fed Could Drain the Oil Market's Tank

Refiners and oil marketing and trading firms keep stocks on hand to ensure they can supply customers. Low interest rates, facilitated by the Federal Reserve's policy of quantitative easing, make it cheaper to finance those inventories. Indeed, those low rates can make it very profitable to buy oil, store it and lock in a margin by selling futures.

Energy economist Phil Verleger estimates that with short-term interest rates around 0.25%—roughly in line with Libor—the financing cost of holding stocks today is around two cents a barrel every month. Right now, three-month oil futures trade at about a 30 cents a barrel premium to the spot price. On that basis, assuming 90% leverage, an investor could buy oil and sell it three months forward, earning a 2.5% return after costs.

That might not sound like much. But it is five times the yield on three-month U.S. Treasurys and a no-brainer for a trader at an oil firm with access to storage capacity.

But the trade is getting squeezed over time. Back in February, the spread was around $1 a barrel, implying a return over three months of almost 10%. ... with bond yields rising as the end of quantitative easing becomes a more realistic prospect, profits on the carry trade are likely to shrink further. The same trade described above at current spreads but with a 1% financing cost earns a return over three months of less than 0.7%.

As this squeeze becomes more apparent, it can become self-fulfilling as those holding inventories sell them in the expectation that futures will decline further. That liquidation adds further pressure to prices as it increases available supply.

Say 50 million barrels were liquidated over the second half of the year, which would simply bring U.S. inventories down to around their five-year average. That would amount to almost 274,000 barrels a day. To put that in perspective, it equates to about a third of the IEA's expectation for global oil-demand growth this year.

I haven't seen this discussed:-

Nicaragua waterway to dwarf Panama canal

If it goes ahead, the $40bn (£26bn) scheme, which is twice as expensive as Brazil's Belo Monte dam and likely to be three times longer than the Panama canal, looks set to transform global shipping and jump start the economy of this Central American nation.

As well as the waterway, the draft agreement between Nicaragua and a Hong Kong registered firm — Nicaraguan Canal Development Investment Co Limited – includes provisions for two free trade zones, an airport and a "dry canal" freight railway.

"This will be the largest project in Latin America in 100 years," Ronald Maclean, the executive fronting the operation in Managua told the Guardian. "If Nicaragua gets to do this, it is going to be a transformational project not only for Nicaragua but for the region."

Why would China do this?

Hmmm, how about: access to Orinoco oil and the underexploited Mexican part of the Gulf, and a direct route to West African oil and minerals. Oh, and cheaper shipping to the markets of Europe and from the farms of Brazil and Argentina.

Why would a Chinese company do this?

Passage fees through the Panama Canal for large freight ships are upwards of US$200,000 each trip. Even with the upgrades now in progress, the Panama Canal is a major bottleneck, and it limits the size of ships, making shipping more expensive. There's plenty of money to be made.

As a byproduct, pretty much every country in the world benefits from more efficient shipping.

Once upon a time, Western companies would have been fighting each other over an opportunity like this. Now, apparently, investment--building stuff--is too much trouble. It's easier make money by manipulating the markets and firing employees.

I haven't seen this discussed:-

I've seen the topic - just not your why.

Why would China do this? how about: access to Orinoco oil ... Once upon a time, Western companies

Ahhh, but that oil can get to the "west" via the Atlantic ocean. No need for a canal.

Now China is looking for a shorter way to the West? I find the irony of this to be beyond words.

what's up with CFN? where is the guru of defcon1? all is well with the curmudgeon of armageddon? what of all Hiz followers who are being denied the right to be "FIRST!" in the comments section?
what of the eventual nasty sniping as the comments degrade in meaningless name calling? who is being groomed to take Hiz place?

i have to go to work every day as i wait for the collapse of western sivilization. how will i know when uhmerika haz collapsed? when i dont have to pay property taxes, that's how.

when i caint buy liquor at the bar anymore. when i hear gunfire every night and someone pops a cap in my hade, then i will know the fork in our collective arses haz ben turned over, we is done! when money caint buy anything i'll know it's all over. when lead is more valuable than gold, then it's all over. but when? tomorrer? next week? next month? next year? a decade? a generation?

the uhmerikan goobermint can store every email and phone call and every blog entry, just like this one. but cheap heroin floods the streets of the community and no one is arrested.
the criminal banksters of wall street, the "big boyz", steal all the money and the citizen ponies up. life is good.

no flying cars, no moon bases, no trips to mars.

we have scientists developing 100 year star ships yet we caint master fusion power. we spend trillions on war and destruction and death but we wont put solar panels on every roof. those that do are fools.

giant corporations destroy the ecosystem and then deny any consequences. the CEO's of those self same corporations are awarded medals of honor from corrupt goobermints.

before the show is over humans of earth will "invade" other planets to rape resources there. titan comes to mind. titan is a moon of saturn and has oceans of hydrocarbons. mars is closer and evidence suggests life and therefor oil. asteroid mining will become a reality before the big die off. happy motoring at any cost.

enjoy yer ringside seat for the freak show. no one gets out of here alive.

Statoil: Report on macro and market outlook towards 2040

Statoil today launches its "Energy Perspectives" report describing the long-term macroeconomic and market outlook based on studies conducted by Statoil's in-house analysis team.

Does anyone know what is going on with the Arctic Sea ice? In june the 85:th, a giant "cracky" area begun to form in a band the size and shape of Sweden, nearly touching the north pole. It has grown ever since, and now reached the open water. I have never seen a crack like this, and chances are there will be a widening of this to make an ice free North Pole already this summer. What is hapening up there?


At the supplied link, select the date june 5 2013 and click Submit, then check out day after day to see the process going on.