Drumbeat: June 19, 2013

U.S. Considers Exporting More Oil for First Time Since ’70s

The U.S. oil boom is moving Congress closer than it has been in more than three decades to easing the ban on exporting crude imposed after the Arab embargo.

Advances such as hydraulic fracturing are leading to record production that may outstrip refinery capacity within 18 months to three years, said Benjamin Salisbury, a senior energy policy analyst at FBR Capital Markets Corp. in Arlington, Virginia. Net petroleum imports now account for about 40 percent of demand, down from 60 percent in 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department research unit.

Congress has limited oil exports since the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo triggered shortages that pushed up prices and led to long lines at gas stations. An increase in domestic production last year by a record 766,000 barrels a day is challenging a notion that Americans need foreign oil, while setting up a debate policy makers may be reluctant to begin.

“Americans are unbelievably politically sensitive to oil and more specifically to gasoline prices,” Salisbury said in an interview. “For politicians to do anything, the pain has to come first. You have to see the rig count fall and then and only then can we have a decision about whether we want to export crude.”

U.S. oil boom helps thwart OPEC

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Surging U.S. oil production and greater energy conservation are helping keep a lid on oil prices worldwide and may be limiting the sway OPEC holds over world markets.

U.S. oil output rose by 14% in 2012, BP reported last week in its annual statistical review. The million barrel-per-day jump in output was the largest increase for any country in 2012, and the fastest single year increase in U.S. history.

"The tidal wave of oil coming out of the United States helped to [quench] the market's thirst," said Blake Clayton, a Fellow for Energy and National Security at Council on Foreign Relations. "Tremendous increases in energy efficiency in the United States and Europe are helping to soften the market."

Keystone Seen Failing to Sop Up Canada Oil Glut

“Keystone will help alleviate the lack of pipeline infrastructure but only temporarily,” David Bouckhout, a senior commodity strategist at TD Securities in Calgary, the securities unit of Canada’s second-largest bank, said in a telephone interview. “Growth of supply on both sides of the border, Bakken and Canadian supply, will outpace what Keystone’s capacity will provide in likely two to three years.”

Utilities Switch Off Investment in Fossil Fuel Plants

LONDON — On the outskirts of Scunthorpe in northern England, workers at the large power station known as Keadby 1 are preparing to shut it down at the end of the summer, with the loss of about 40 jobs.

Its owner, the British utility Scottish & Southern Energy, says fluctuations in global energy markets have made the natural gas power plant unprofitable despite a multi-million pound renovation, as demand for electricity has plummeted since the financial crisis.

In response, the company plans to keep Keadby shut down until at least 2015. It has also delayed new energy investments and is planning to close almost a quarter of its fossil fuel power plants, including parts of the Ferrybridge coal power station near Leeds in northern England.

WTI Advances to Nine-Month High as U.S. Stockpiles Drop

West Texas Intermediate crude rose to a nine-month high after an industry report showed U.S. inventories dropped last week.

Futures rose as much as 0.6 percent. Crude stockpiles fell by 4.3 million barrels in the week ended June 14, the American Petroleum Institute said. An Energy Information Administration report today may show supplies shrank by 500,000 barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to sign a statement at the Group of Eight summit calling for a “transitional government” in Syria. The U.S. Federal Reserve will release a statement and economic forecasts when its meeting ends today.

U.S. Natural Gas Gains for Third Day on Warm Weather Forecasts

Natural gas rose for a third day in New York on forecasts for rising temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest that may boost demand from power plants.

Gas for July delivery gained as much as 0.6 percent to $3.929 per million British thermal units in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $3.926 per million Btu at 2:03 p.m. Singapore time. The contract jumped 0.8 percent yesterday to $3.905.

Gas Prices Moving Away From Link to Oil

Unlike oil, which is a globally traded commodity, natural gas is priced depending on location and the arrangement under which it is sold.

In North America, gas is a traded commodity whose price is usually linked to benchmarks set at the Henry Hub, a meeting point of pipelines in Louisiana. In the rest of the world, gas prices are often indexed to oil products that gas might replace — a system that was developed to sell gas from the giant Groningen field in the Netherlands, in the 1960s.

But the linkage to oil is eroding, especially in Europe, as competition increases and multiple sources of gas emerge, largely through the increased use of liquefied natural gas, which can be transported globally by specialized ships. A surge of gas exports from the United States — not a sure thing — would add to the pressures on the indexed system.

Oil-Tanker Surplus in Persian Gulf Seen Smallest in Two Weeks

The surplus of tankers competing to ship 2 million-barrel oil cargoes from ports in the Persian Gulf fell to a two-week low, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

There are 15 percent more very large crude carriers seeking charters over the next 30 days than probable shipments from the world’s largest cargo-loading region, the median in the survey of four shipbrokers and two owners showed today. The glut was the lowest since June 4 and compared with 18 percent last week.

The Shrinking Road, Part 2: Fuel-Tax Tango

"States are scrambling for funds, especially as it comes to motor-fuels excise taxes," said David Zahn, vice president of marketing at FuelQuest, a Houston-based provider of fuel management and tax automation products. "Largely those taxes are tied to infrastructure, and from an infrastructure perspective, the maintenance costs alone … are exceeding what we are getting from those excise taxes. So there's a scramble for those additional funds."

The choices for policymakers are limited and each has its challenges. They include raising state and/or federal fuel excise taxes--not a politically palatable option--or tying fuel excise taxes to inflation.

1 in 9 U.S. bridges in need of repair

More than one in nine bridges in the USA — at least 66,405, or 11% of the total — are structurally deficient, according to a new report.

These are not rarely used, out-of-the way structures: Each day, Americans take 260 million trips over structurally deficient bridges, says the report from Transportation for America, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition that works to improve transportation.

Shale revolution grows stronger

There seems no end to the stream of good news coming out of the energy sector.

After the International Energy Agency (IEA) last November hailed the United States shale revolution by predicting that the country would become the biggest producer of oil by the end of the decade, the compliments have now been returned.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US government department that releases energy data, this week released a report updating on the world's shale potential.

The kaleidoscope of fossil fuel abundance

Like children looking through a kaleidoscope who are unaware of its actual workings, the media and the public have been misled into believing that early production results in the shale natural gas and tight oil formations in the United States will be repeated again and again across the United States and the world. This has led to exuberant forecasts of energy independence for the United States, an end to the dominance of OPEC in world oil supplies, and fossil fuel abundance for decades to come.

Energy Geek Week: Peak Oil RIP Edition

Since BP makes its data available on downloadable spreadsheets, I can freak freely crunching the data for myself, and noticing fun things. I’ll roll out a few things here over the next few days.

Like the end of the whole peak oil hypothesis. The first figure below displays the 60 percent growth in proven global oil reserves over the last 20 years. This is not just the result of recent technological advances such as directional drilling and fracking: the second figure takes BP’s data back to 1980, which shows a steady increase in reserves throughout the period amounting to a 144 percent increase.

Delaying Peak-Oil With Nanoparticles

When petroleum companies abandon an oil well, more than half the reservoir's oil is usually left behind as too difficult to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics.

NL: More exploration needed, Dunderdale tells NOIA

Speaking to the room, packed with oil and gas industry people, Dunderdale celebrated the growth of the offshore industry in the past few years.

"We are experiencing a great momentum right now in Newfoundland and Labrador's oil and gas industry," she said. "We have hit our stride."

At the same time, she stressed that the province's success has been "hard fought" both by the government and by people in the industry.

But she also said the industry is past peak oil on existing fields, and more exploration is needed.

Billionaire Tshuva’s Delek Kept From Debt Gush by Israel Gas

With gas finds at Tamar and the larger offshore Leviathan field in 2010, Libyan-born Tshuva, now worth at least $2 billion according to data compiled by Bloomberg, is helping Israel reduce its reliance on imports for about 95 percent of gas consumption and position itself to start exporting. UBS forecasts Tamar will generate more than $1 billion in sales in 2013, translating into revenue of $180 million this year for Delek, whose units own 31.2 percent of the project.

“The Israeli economy will be able to exploit the advantages of natural gas environmentally, geopolitically, socially and economically,” Tshuva, who started working in agriculture and construction in Israel at the age of 12 and is now 65, said in a May 22 interview at Delek Group’s offices in Netanya, Israel. It will “turn Israel into an important international player,” he said.

Saudi crude output, exports rise in April vs. March

Oil production in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude, rose to 9.310 million barrels a day in April, compared with 9.136 million barrels a day a month earlier, while exports edged 0.3% higher during the same period, official data showed Wednesday.

The kingdom exported 7.444 million barrels a day of crude oil and condensate in April, up from 7.420 million barrels a day in March, according to figures posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative, or JODI, website.

Adnoc 'not worried' by EU's jet fuel tariff

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is confident of finding enough buyers for its jet fuel despite a planned tariff on Middle East supplies by its top customer, the European Union.

Last week, the EU announced it would levy a 4.7 per cent duty on jet fuel from the region as it tries to throw momentum behind reviving talks for a free-trade agreement with the GCC. The new tax came as the World Bank upgraded the GCC to upper-middle-income status, prompting Europe to remove Arabian Gulf nations from its generalised scheme of preferences, a tranche of developing countries whose goods are exempt from import duties.

Russian Gazprom to maintain oil-indexed pricing for gas supplies to China

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Gazprom has no plans to link the price of gas to be supplied to China under a long term contract to US spot gas prices, the company said in a statement Wednesday, citing Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

After Gazprom snub, Greece to sell gas company to Azerbaijan

Having failed to woo Gazprom, Greece is to sell a 66 percent share in DESFA, a fully owned subsidiary of state-run natural gas company DEPA, for €400 million to Azeri state-owned SOCAR.

Women May Get Into Augusta Easier Than Energy CEO Role

Women may have better odds of getting a membership at Augusta National Golf Club than becoming the chief executive officer of an energy company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

With its decision to name Lynn J. Good as its first female CEO, Duke Energy Corp. will be the largest U.S. energy business by market value led by a woman. Good will be only the second female energy leader on the index, raising the amount to 0.4 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At Augusta National, home of the annual Masters Tournament, two women were allowed to join when the club changed its rules last year, accounting for 0.7 percent of an estimated 300-member roster.

Mexican oil producer Pemex evacuates headquarters after bomb threat

Mexico City: Mexico's state oil producer, Pemex, said on Tuesday it had evacuated its Mexico City headquarters, the site of a deadly explosion in January, after a bomb threat.

Indian crew kidnapped in pirate attack off Nigeria - sources

(Reuters) - Pirates in speedboats attacked an oil supply vessel and kidnapped four Indian and Polish crew members in increasingly dangerous waters off Nigeria's coast last week, two security sources said on Wednesday.

The gunmen launched their assault on the Singapore-flagged tugboat MDPL Continental One around 30 nautical miles from land on June 13, the security sources said.

Total extends reach in Kurdish Iraq

The French oil major Total has widened its operations in the Kurdish region of Iraq by becoming the operator of a concession in the autonomous area.

The company bought an 80 per cent stake in the Baranan block, with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) holding the remainder, as the presence of oil majors into the Kurdish region continues to grow in spite of Baghdad's objections. Total has held a 35 per cent stake in the Harir and Safen blocks in the region since last June.

Iraq’s Kurds to Export Oil by New Pipeline ‘Very Soon’

Iraq’s Kurds will start exporting crude by pipeline “very soon” after the completion of a new link to the Turkish border by the end of September, the Kurdistan Regional Government Natural Resources Minister said.

The pipeline to Fishkabour near the frontier with Turkey, will eventually have a capacity of 1 million barrels a day by 2015, Ashti Hawrami said today at a conference in London. The semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq is “well on its way” to have enough oil to fill the line’s capacity, he said.

Abu Dhabi accelerating diversification from oil as US shale booms

US shale gas and oil exploration is prompting Abu Dhabi, where the hydrocarbon industry accounts for more than half of the economy, to speed efforts to bolster non-oil output, a senior government official said.

The holder of 6 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves "isn't underestimating the potential impact" of higher US hydrocarbon output, Mohammed Omar Abdullah, undersecretary of the emirate's Department of Economic Development, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The government "is accelerating its efforts toward the more diversified economy," he said.

Uganda says to build 30,000 bpd refinery by 2016/17

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Uganda said on Wednesday it would build a 30,000 barrels per day refinery by 2016/17 and double this capacity two years later in a move towards commercial output of the country's oil.

Explorers struck oil in east Africa's third largest economy in 2006 and Uganda estimates its crude reserves at 3.5 billion barrels but wrangling over taxes and the viability of a local refinery have since stalled production.

Dart Says Centrica Deal May Spur Talks for U.K. Shale Partner

Dart Energy Ltd., an explorer with shale gas prospects in northwest England, said Centrica Plc’s deal last week to acquire a 25 percent stake in a license in the region may help accelerate its talks to find a partner.

Dart’s acreage in the U.K.’s Bowland Basin has attracted “a lot of interest,” Chief Executive Officer John McGoldrick said in a phone interview from Singapore. Centrica, the largest U.K. energy supplier, bought part of Cuadrilla Resources Ltd.’s Bowland shale license for 40 million pounds ($63 million) and will pay exploration costs of as much as 60 million pounds.

"Catastrophe that people are educated for the oil industry"

“It’s a disaster for the Norwegian economy that we educate people to work in oil rather than focusing on renewable energy more heavily,” the Liberal Party leader said during a seminar on higher education, Monday.

No confirmation yet, but signs point to west-east pipeline

TransCanada Corp. won’t confirm whether or not it’s proceeding with the Energy East pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick, but there are signs the company is well into the planning process.

Keystone XL Pipe Shuns Infrared Sensors to Detect Leaks

TransCanada Corp., which says Keystone XL will be the safest pipeline ever built, isn’t planning to use infrared sensors or fiber-optic cables to detect spills along the system’s 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) path to Texas refineries from fields in Alberta.

Pipeline companies have been slow to adopt new leak detection technology, including infrared equipment on helicopters flying 80 miles an hour or acoustic sensors that can identify the sound of oil seeping from a pinhole-sized opening. Instead of tools that can find even the smallest leaks, TransCanada will search for spills using software-based methods and traditional flyovers and surveys.

High levels of radiation found in groundwater at Fukushima

High levels of a toxic substance called strontium-90 have been found in groundwater at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan — coming to light even as the country moves closer to bringing its nuclear reactors back online.

Strontium-90 was detected in groundwater near the plant at levels 30 times above the government safety standard, officials said Wednesday.

Consumption on super-charged Electric Highway increases 45-fold

“Electric cars have massive potential for growth if we can put the right charging technology in the right place”, says Ecotricity founder Dale Vince – after consumption on their Electric Highway motorway charging network jumped 45-fold in the final quarter of 2012/13.

L.A. Breaks Driving Addiction as Bike-Train Commutes Grow

Los Angeles embodied America’s love affair with the automobile in the last century. In this one it’s trying to kick the car to the curb.

The city that put drive-thru restaurants on the map has doubled its network of bike lanes to 292 miles (470 kilometers) and expanded light rail by 26 percent in the past eight years, with another 18 miles of track coming by 2015. Bus and train ridership is on the rise, while the total number of passenger cars registered has declined in Los Angeles County -- evidence more commuters are breaking their dependence.

“I feel pretty spoiled by the transit system in L.A.,” said Madeline Brozen, a 26-year-old transplant from New Orleans who uses a bicycle and buses to make a 12-mile trek from the Los Feliz neighborhood to the University of California, Los Angeles in Westwood, where she researches urban transportation.

Masdar inaugurates Seychelles windfarm

Masdar has inaugurated a 6 megawatts windfarm in the Seychelles, sufficient to power more than 2,000 homes.

The project will satisfy 8 per cent of the electricity needs of Mahé, the country's most populated island. The eight-turbine windfarm was funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. It will help the Seychelles to meet its target of producing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

Making Energy Efficiency Attractive for Owners of Older Seattle Buildings

Switching to less power-hungry light bulbs is relatively easy, and the payoff relatively swift. But replacing furnaces or boilers or reconfiguring the building’s shell involves sinking millions of dollars into an asset that the owner may want to get rid of long before the investment has paid off.

In a new twist, some investors, a technology company, a municipal utility and an environmentally oriented foundation have joined forces to show that major energy-efficiency improvements in commercial buildings may provide alluring new revenue to all involved.

Harnessing the Net to Power a Green Revolution

LONDON — At the intersection of clean power and information technology, a new breed of digital start-ups is harnessing the power of the Internet to make smarter, more efficient use of energy and other resources.

Proponents call it “cleanweb,” and they say the sector is poised to bring about huge leaps in efficiency, saving money and cutting planet-warming carbon emissions.

New Effort to Quantify ‘Social Cost’ of Pollution

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is making a second attempt to systematically account for the dollar damage from greenhouse gas pollution, even with no consensus on how to forestall global warming or whether to do so.

Supporters of the idea acknowledge the tremendous difficulties of trying to translate slippery estimates into a single mathematical factor, difficulties that perhaps help explain why there is little hope of consensus now on climate policy.

EU politicians to try again to rescue carbon market

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union politicians are likely to back a plan to support prices on the EU carbon market on Wednesday, in a step towards resolving debate over whether to prop up the world's largest emissions scheme.

Even if the vote, expected after 3 p.m., is positive, the proposal to temporarily remove some of a glut of allowances from the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) faces further hurdles.

Groundbreaking Analysis Reveals Route for Businesses to Uncover Billions in Hidden Profits From Climate Change Action

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired) - Smart companies innovate their way through business challenges. A new analysis shows they can also innovate to solve a global challenge - and profit along the way.

The 3% Solution: Driving Profits Through Carbon Reduction (www.the3percentsolution.org), released today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and CDP, provides a groundbreaking assessment of how companies can reap big profits from cutting their carbon emissions, simultaneously helping the world avoid runaway climate change.

China's change of fortune in focus

One of the hot topics in China these days is balancing the need for economic expansion while encouraging sustainable innovation. How do firms create a new set of tools that will permit economic growth without putting too much stress on the environment and on increasingly scarce natural resources?

China Introduces Local Program for Reducing Emissions

BEIJING — China unveiled its first pilot carbon emissions exchange Tuesday, though plans for a nationwide rollout and efforts to apply the program to some heavy industries could be undermined by a slowdown in the nation’s economy.

High-emission industries like aluminum and steel are likely to resist higher costs as they are already battling weak prices caused by tepid demand and too much supply.

Obama to prod West to take on global challenges in Berlin speech

BERLIN (Reuters) - In the city where John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan gave defiant Cold War speeches, President Barack Obama will call on Wednesday for a renewed spirit of activism by the West in tackling 21st century challenges from nuclear proliferation to climate change.

U.S. states, greens delay lawsuit, await Obama climate plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Environmental groups and a dozen states and cities said Monday they will delay planned legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying they will wait to see if the White House soon unveils a climate policy strategy.

The attorney generals of New York and nine other states, along with three major green groups, had planned to sue the EPA this week because it missed a deadline in April to finalize emissions standards for new electric power plants.

Small global warming rise would have 'alarming' impact - World Bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Much of Bangkok could flood within the next two decades if global warming stays on its current trajectory, as sea levels rise and cyclones intensify, the World Bank said in a new report on Wednesday.

The flooding of 40 percent of the Thai capital was just one of dozens of negative effects the Washington-based World Bank warned would happen if the world grew warmer by just 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), which it said is likely to occur in the next 20 to 30 years under a "business-as-usual" scenario.

Re: The kaleidoscope of fossil fuel abundance

Another good article by Kurt Cobb. Compare Cobb's comments with those from the lead story up top:

U.S. Considers Exporting More Oil for First Time Since ’70s

Exports must expand to sustain the boom that increased U.S. production last year by the most since the first commercial well was drilled in 1859, said Robin West, chairman of the oil consulting firm PFC Energy. Output is putting the nation on pace to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer by 2020, according to Energy Department data.
Drevna said in an interview. “We have to educate the folks to say, ‘Look, we could be that swing producer.’ We have the capability here in the United States, in North America, to make OPEC NOPEC.”

The promoters of the so-called "Oil Boom" are likely to do far more damage to the US than all the fundamentalist with explosive devices strapped to their bodies. That's because when reality hits home, the US consumers won't be prepared...

E. Swanson

Heck, B.D., with nanoparticles freeing up ever more oil (nanoparticles are free, you know), we will have
$1/gal gasoline, 6% growth, jobs for all, and BAU will continue until the cows come home - - - or until the global temps rise by 5 deg. C, whichever comes first.


The elastic nanoparticle work actually seems to be pretty good. Sure those nanoparticles would cost, but you can't say that the cost would be significant, and there's nothing to say that you couldn't recover and reuse the nanoparticles.

This presentation gives more information on the technology. Seems worthy of exploration/money.


As for BAU, personally I think it's preferable to the alternative we'd get - same as getting one year older is preferable to the alternative.

According to the article, reuse is a distinct possibility. So, good on that one.

As for BAU; isn't a new paradigm possible - - - one in which we use what remains of our natural resources to establish a sustainable infrastructure, instead of just going on wasting our treasure on the present one wherein we burn hydrocarbons until we cook the planet?

Yes, cook is hyperbole. It is still a good allegory for what CO2 will do. Not the absolute measure of warming, which is uncertain but unlikely to cause totally unlivable conditions for the entire Earth, but rather the speed of warming, which it can be said with some certitude to cause the die off of many species of plants and animals. And, one of the animals that could be impacted is that branch of the Primate family known as Homo Sapiens, sapiens.

So, no, I do not agree that BAU is preferable to the alternative we'd get. Converting our power grid to decentralized inputs through multiple solar, wind, tidal, geo-thermal and hydro-electric inputs will take much of our remaining deposits of metals and hydrocarbons, to say nothing of the capital required for an investment of that magnitude. It will be expensive, which means we will have to choose between a livable long term and a fun short term. Our choices will be, live for the moment and condemn our progeny to dismal poverty, or suck it up, and act like a truly sapient species. Our children and grandchildren will thank us for choosing wisely.


"BAU is preferable to the alternative..."

I get that a lot from folks who have no Plan B, little imagination, or not much wiggle room. Comes down to faith at that point. I submit that alternatives are what we will get. Best to develop your own wherever possible.

Great, fine, luvly.

But, see, here's the problem. We've known about climate change for two decades now, peak oil even longer. Do you see much changing happening in people's attitudes? Do you see much planned movement towards a different model?

No, you don't.

And every year later is a steep slope of required rate of change. The steeper that slope, the less likely people will change, the less likely it's possible for them to change that fast.

As such you have to accept that we are going to go, at full speed, off that cliff. If you are planning for anything else at this point you are fooling yourself.

Now, maybe you have a plan B for how you and yours are going to adapt, take up an 'alternative' and survive what you know is coming round the corner. However, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy - and this situation we are looking at collapse with a lot of panicky, not particularly sane, mobs and governments. We've seen the examples of that happening across the world in recent years, its NEVER pretty. There's an awful lot that can go wrong with your plan B (particularly if it's a variation on the pastoral idyll).

So yes, BAU is preferable to the alternatives. The alternatives maybe what we are going to get hit with, full in the face, but sustaining the capability for BAU as long as possible is the best option for you.

All you are saying is that it is more comfortable before the collapse - there is no option of continuing BAU. Continuing to do what we have done only ensures it. Collapse will come no matter what, it is only an issue of how one deals with it.

And that is just assuming that a centralized power grid must be maintained. There are even more options than that.

Our choices will be, live for the moment and condemn our progeny to dismal poverty, or suck it up, and act like a truly sapient species. Our children and grandchildren will thank us for choosing wisely.

I keep wondering not if but when, nature will come up with a black swan or two. Case in point.

LONDON (AP) -- A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia...

...But MERS appears far more lethal. Compared to SARS' 8 percent death rate, the fatality rate for MERS in the Saudi outbreak was about 65 percent, though the experts could be missing mild cases that might skew the figures...

..."As long as it is around, it has every opportunity at the genetic roulette table to turn into something more dangerous," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota."

65% of 7 billion is roughly 4.5 billion, "That would solve the population problem", said in the voice of Dr. Albert Bartlett.

During the Campfire days I wrote a marvelous essay :-) on an alternative form of society that I was going to submit but Campfire went away. Here are some ideas from it:

I would argue that the initial step has to be to decide upon the form of governance and the geographic area it encompasses. It is possible to have "distributed" governance and no central government at all nor representatives. Rather decisions could be made by the populate via consensus.

As far as geographic area goes, does it make sense to have a "United States" where many areas do not share the same concerns with other areas? Might it not be better to establish political areas with common concerns?

Then we come to "the economy". Clearly our present day consumer economy is doomed but what do we put in its place? This took up a lot of words in the essay but, essentially, people only worked part of their lives, the balance being at their family/affinity group home producing their own food and energy.

In the case of energy we all know that some places are better suited to PV while in others it might be hydro, etc. Similarly, each area would determine whether their energy was distributed or centralized. I would argue that each area should make its own decision.

I don't have time (I'm working on firewood) to give a full picture but this gives an idea.

Back to work.


I would argue that the initial step has to be to decide upon the form of governance and the geographic area it encompasses. It is possible to have "distributed" governance and no central government at all nor representatives. Rather decisions could be made by the populate via consensus.

Sounds a bit like the Shire of Middle Earth >;-)

The Shire was a voluntarily orderly society.[44] The only government services were the Message Service (the post) and the Watch, the police, whose officers were called Shirriffs, and whose chief duties involved rounding up stray livestock. The total number of regular Shirriffs was 12, three for each Farthing. There was also a somewhat larger and fluctuating number of Bounders, a kind of unofficial border control. At the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, there were many more Bounders than had been required for centuries, and they were unusually busy: one of the few signs obvious to the Hobbits of the Shire of the troubled times.
Source Wikipedia

Right now the United States seems to have way too many Bounders for its own good...

Time to trot out the technocracy ideas at http://www.technocracy.org/study-guide

Basically it replaces money by energy chits and then lets the energy free market determine how resources are to be allocated.

The system would easily adapt to any polity size. Not sure how it would accomodate wars. Possibly that would be a feature, not a bug.

Next week here in Belgium there's a gathering of the local de-growth party to discuss such ideas, i.e. the payment of an unconditional income, based on some resoure (energy maybe). I'm thinking about going there with some technocracy info.

I don't know how useful all this discussion is, at least it distracts from total doomerism.


I don't know how useful all this discussion is, at least it distracts from total doomerism.

I've been observing the Brazilian version of the Arab Spring over the last few days down here in Sao Paulo.

What has struck me is that everywhere around the world whether it's in the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street, Jakarta, Greece, Spain etc... it is the so called educated middle class that is doing the protesting. There is this general feeling that things are just not right but nobody really seems to be able to put their finger on what exactly is wrong. Sure, they target the government policies, corruption, banks, corporations etc... but nobody, or at least very few connect what is happening to ecological overshoot, overpopulation and resource depletion. There is this continued effort to get the economies all over the world back on the growth path.
I think it will be quite a shock to most when they find it just isn't possible anymore. A new paradigm will emerge but I'm afraid the transition is going to be rather bumpy!

This little reality check was posted over at Real Climate by patrick:

It’s a talk by Murphy titled, Growth Has an Expiration Date:


I might call it: “We’re Not Even Taking Care of Our Gerbil Yet,” which is a direct quote–well, almost.

"... it is the so called educated middle class that is doing the protesting."

I can't remember if it was WesTexas or AlanFBE that used the phrase a lot, but the "Formerly Well Off" are the ones that recognize when the rug is being pulled out from underneath them...because the poor never had anything to begin with and the ultra-rich have the system rigged in their favor anyway and aren't feeling the pinch.

In other news I saw an Anthony Bourdain the other night from Sao Paulo and he said it was described as "Las Angeles threw up on New York" - which sounds positively lovely.

How could US consumers be "prepared" other than to stop consuming so much? In that case they wouldn't be consumers anymore. Some of them might be converted into citizens, and others would simply stop existing.

The promoters of the so-called "Oil Boom" are just the typical predators that always exist. At this time in history they are unchecked as effective government fails, but they are not the root cause. They are a symptom - the root cause is the consumers.

The promoters of the so-called "Oil Boom" are just the typical predators that always exist.
the root cause is the consumers.

Not really. Case in point:
Bank of America ordered us to lie, ex-workers say

E. Swanson

Meanwhile, across the pond:

Jail reckless bankers, standards commission urges

Senior bankers guilty of reckless misconduct should be jailed, a long-awaited report on banking commissioned by the government has recommended.

The cross-party Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards' fifth report said bankers should in future be accountable for their actions.

Jeez, in the US, these guys stand a [slim] chance of going to one of many (partially) bank owned prisons:

On Wednesday, January 24, the Occupy movement joined the National Prison Divestment Campaign in 13 cities across the country for a nationwide day of action that gave a voice to an invisible segment of the 99 percent exploited by the private prison industry.

The National Prison Divestment Campaign was organized less than a year ago by Enlace, a coalition of US and Mexican low-wage worker centers and unions, to pressure corporations to divest from private prisons, whose chief investors include some of country's largest financial institutions such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, both of which have provoked the ire of the Occupy movement for their role in tanking the economy, among other things.


Going to jail? Just foreclose on the prison :-0

The concept of private prisons is abhorrent. The last thing we need is a group with a profit-motive for creating more prisoners. This has already lead to children being overzealously thrown into juvenile detention facilities because the judge got a kick-back.

The step towards private debt prisons are not very large.

Oh that is already happening. There are some crazy cases of people getting wrapped up into prison-industrial complex on trivial things but then they get stuck in it due to endless fees & charges that they can't pay.


Justice should be paid for by these who benefit. Fines shuld also be paid for by these who benefit.

Sorry . . . I'm hesitant to post links these days because the spam issue.



This is a terrible thing. Courts are losing funding so they are saying OK to terrible policies wherein private agencies collect all these fees from people in the court system and that just locks those people into a cycle of debt.

What these libertarian inspired ideas totally ignore is the real cost to society of things like private police forces and private prisons.

In Ireland in the 1960's there was a famous policeman called "Lugs" Brannigan, he acquired thename Lugs because he was a keen amateur boxer and his ears took a bit of a battering. Anyway Lugs had a philosophy which worked, whenever he came across a young tearaway up to no good for the first time, the youngster was given a choice, a charge and probable conviction or a "boxing match".

Many inner city amateur boxing clubs and sports clubs found their ranks swelled by Lugs Brannigan as when the miscreant lost his "boxing match" he was offered help with his skills provided he joined and participated in running his local sports club.

The philosophy was simple and effective, acquiring a criminal record early in life puts a person at huge disadvantage for life in addition to which once a person goes to prison once, the deterrent effect is much lessened, they have less to lose by continuing a life of crime and they move further away being a productive member of society.

Private prisons and police forces will depend on criminalising as many "customers" as possible, society can only lose.

Lugs Brannigan was criticised by many at the time, usually by the politicly correct lobby and even more so in retrospect, usually along the lines of police brutality but there are hundreds of his "victims" still prepared to speak publicly in favour of the man and many attended his funeral a few years ago and comforted his family by stating that Lugs had changed their lives for the better. I knew the man personally after he retired and a more civic minded person you couldn't meet, he operated in a tough inner city environment and made a large positive difference, perhaps he even saved the world from a handful of potential libertarian vandals LOL.

We already have private debt prisons -- they're called McMansions.

That's a good one! The truth that cannot be spoken.

Yeah, private prison almost killed Sr. Jackie Hudson. It took over 100 phone calls to get medical attention to her. Most individuals in prison would not have that sort of support network. I called twice.


There was no mention in the article as to why light oil was being exported to Canada instead of to refineries in the Eastern US. The Jones shipping act is the culprit -- oil shipped between two US ports must be carried on a ship built in the US and manned with a US crew whereas any tanker can be chartered to carry oil from a US port to Canada. Eastern US refineries which can only process light oil continue to import oil from overseas while tankers loaded with US light crude sail past them on their way to refineries in Eastern Canada.

Are those requirements really that onerous? It is not possible to use US tankers and US crews?


Of the 98 Jones Act cargo vessels listed, 52 are tankers, many are likely designed to carry cargos other than crude (bitumen, liquid sulfur, other chemicals, etc.), and many are west coast/Pacific vessels. There aren't many US flagged/Jones Act merchant vessels left. Per the link:

From its height at the end of World War II, the modern American merchant marine has shrunk to a tenth of its former size.

According to statistics as compiled by the US Maritime Administration, in 1955 there were 1,072 vessels sailing internationally flying the US Flag. Currently, this number stands at 93 vessels while the Jones Act component of the US ocean- going fleet is 98. Some of this drop represents the increased size of the vessels of today. (the 1,072 ships in 1955 combined for approximately 13 million deadweight tons while the current US Flag fleet of 191 ships represent 9 million deadweight tons). Overall, in 1955, the US Flag fleet represented almost 25% of the world’s overall tonnage while the US share today is approaching only a mere 2% of total world tonnage.

To me the requirement makes perfect sense, but of course while we can consider building pipelines the idea of building and manning some tankers is absurd. Naturally it would be cheaper to outsource that to foreign companies, and since we have to borrow for everything we do I guess that's the only way it can be.

U.S. oil boom helps thwart OPEC

*looks at WTI . . $97.86 . . looks at Brent $106*

Oh yeah, clearly OPEC has been thwarted. What are these people smoking?

If history regarding the first oil schock was put straight a bit, this "US energy boom" propaganda (with all the bubling financial interests behind) would perhaps be a bit tougher to convey ...

The legend being basically :

"first oil schock = Yom Kippur war/Arab embargo= geopolitical event = nothing to do with geologic constraints"

Typically how it is "indexed" on below graph for instance :
(and most historical graphs regarding oil, where US 1970 is never mentioned)

Whereas the reality is much more :

- end 1970 : US production peak, the energy crisis starts from there, with some heating fuel shortages for instance (some articles can be found on NYT archive on that)
- Nixon named James Akins to go check what is going on
- Akins goes around all US producers, saying this won't be communicated to the media, but needs to be known, national security question
- The results are bad : no additional capacity at all, production will only go down, the results are also presentede to the OECD
- The reserves of Alaska, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, are known at that time, but to be developed the barrel price needs to be higher
- In parallel this is also the period of "rebalance" between oil majors and countries on each barrel revenus.
- So to be able to start Alaska, GOM, North Sea, and have some "outside OPEC" market share, the barrel price needs to go up (always good for oil majors anyway) and this is also US diplomacy strategy
- For instance Akins, then US ambassador in Saudi Arabia, is the one talking about $4 or $5 a barrel in an OAPEC meeting in Algiers in 1972
- Yom Kippur starts during an OPEC meeting in Vienna, which was about barrel revenus percentages, and barrel price rise.
- The declaration of the embargo pushes the barrel up on the spots markets (that just have been set up)
- But the embargo remains quite limited (not from Iran, not from Iraq, only towards a few countries)
- It remains fictiv from Saudi Arabia towards the US : tankers kept on going from KSA, through Barhain to make it more discrete, towards the US Army in Vietnam in particular.
- Akins is very clear about that in below documentary interviews (which unfortunately only exists in French and German to my knowledge, and interviews are voiced over) :
For instance after 24:10, where he says that two senators were starting having rather "strong voices" about "doing something", he asked the permission to tell them what was going on, got it, told them, they shat up and there was never any leak. The first oil schock "episode" starts at 18:00

(the "embargo story" was in fact very "pratical", both for the US to "cover up" US peak towards US public opinion or western one in general, but also for major Arab producers to show "the arab street" that they were doing something for the Palestinians).

How many Americans these days know that they went through their oil production peak in 1970 1% ? 0.5 ? less ?

By the way, a good summary regarding Akins below (at the time of his death 3 years ago) :

I think the US should export petroleum products. They'll just be wasted if they aren't exported.

The country has been a net importer for decades. Why? To support a transportation system that is frankly stupid. It's time to start exporting all we can. The easiest step would be to simply raise taxes at the pump, which would increase net exports by decreasing imports.

500 Years Of (Mostly Rising) Energy Prices


Starts with wood in 1500's; interesting chart. It needs an energy equivalence interpretation to be really useful, though.


Yeah, comparing a cubic foot of wood against a tonne of coal is absolutely useless.

Also not clear if the chart is corrected for inflation, or even how you'd reasonably estimate inflation over a 500-year timeline that includes events like pillaging the gold and silver reserves of an entire continent.

Zerohedge has some interesting articles at times but the place seems so narrative driven. They have a doom narrative and then just look for data to fit that narrative. And when the data doesn't fit, cherry pick it and manipulate it to make it fit the narrative.

No it is not doom driven.. It is anarcho-libertarian site whose denizens for the most part want to to see the Keynsian "socialist" system be replaced by Austrian free markets, sort of a Ayn Rand circle-jerk...

It is rife with conspiratorial ideation, Tea Party whackadoos, AGW deniers and the like...

I post there (as opposed to here) because the natives are so fun to spar with...

Sigh. Yes, it is, but not all anarcho-libertarians feel all these things you list. I think Noam Chomsky would label himself such, if the meaning of libertarian weren't so perversely twisted here in the States.

Foundationally, the base concept is to question authority, and to ask authority to justify it's perks and prerequisites. Quite simply, to ask power to justify itself. Sure, in pursuit of this perspective some wander off the path and see shadow masters pulling all the strings. Not all see this, though, and many realize the delusion of that road, though we may have travelled it at one point.

I've expounded on my libertarian roots in past DBs. Be happy to do so again. To provide the Reader's Digest version - the current view of Free Markets are actually markets that are not free, Capitalism is not really based on capital, and Private Property is neither private nor protected.

I'm going to respond to Spec downthread on the gold standard. That is, if I can avoid my natural tendency to wander off on discussions of what Frank Herbert intended allegorically - or not ;)

Good for you...

You are clearly too polite for ZH and all that I will say about American style libertarianism is that it is a simplistic worldview and narcissists are naturally attracted to it. Moreover, they cling to naive notions that have been disproven empiracally. The very idea of a free market is anathema to the human condition and we know this from 6,000 years of history. Nice in theory but all but impossible to realize. Someone is always trying to stack the odds in their favour...

Now it could well be that a low-tech agrarian based society is in the offing, maybe then Libertarianism can function. But as long as corporations rule the roost, Libertarianism is intellectual naivite at its worst...

You are clearly too polite for ZH and all that I will say about American style libertarianism is that it is a simplistic worldview and narcissists are naturally attracted to it.

There are plenty of narcissists in every political philosophy.

The very idea of a free market is anathema to the human condition and we know this from 6,000 years of history. Nice in theory but all but impossible to realize.

It is difficult to realize. So is climate change mitigation, nuclear disarmament, world peace, or any number of things.

But as long as corporations rule the roost

Since liberals and conservatives alike heavily back corporations with the power of the state, "the corporations!" isn't exactly a damning criticism of libertarianism.

A post remarkably free of content and rife with strawmen on your part....

Not all libs and conservatives "back corporations", nice try though...

Even notice how the Pauls and most self-proclaimed libertarians *never* discuss freedom and liberties vis a vis corporations and what limits might be imposed on them? In fact, they spend a lot of their time harping on about the existing limits to corporate powers via their incessant bashing of the EPA and the like...

Yes, libertarianism is nice little ideology provided that you do not have to worry about real world issues....

Not all libs and conservatives "back corporations", nice try though...

And neither do all libertarians.

Even notice how the Pauls and most self-proclaimed libertarians *never* discuss freedom and liberties vis a vis corporations and what limits might be imposed on them?

I have. Have you noticed how much state activity enriches corporations at the expense of the public and "free markets"? And who exactly are promoting, funding, and running these programs? Not libertarians. Turns out that libertarians like some restrictions on corporations that liberals and conservatives don't. And vice versa.

Again, if your complaint is "the corporations!" you have to grapple with the sumptuous benefits granted by actual officeholders, few of whom are libertarian. But I grant it's a lot easier to deal with a caricature of minority political ideology than to deal with the bipartisan pro-corporate consensus.

Sorry, but you have blinkers on, or are very blind to history...

You also, like many others, seem to confuse a repudiation of libertarinism with an implicit endorsement of the current paradigm. I see this merely another example of the paucity of the Lib. position...

Hey TM

I watched 'Inside Job' last night. Finally. If that doesn't destroy your faith in "the System' of supposed controls and oversight (rule of law) nothing will. I suppose the oil companies are as collusive? as the financial industry. Anyway, too angry to cry.

If the world was 'libertarian' the banks would have failed and there would have actually been competition as opposed to state sponsored collusion and criminality. Or, would it have been even worse? Could it be any worse?

As to the above posts on private prisons and debtors prisons...they are only for folks;regular folks. No wonder there are anarchist protestors.


Hallo Paulo,

My faith in our broken system was shattered long ago. 2008 was the final straw. Despite this, and because of my very nature, I perpetually seek for ways to right the ship upon which we all sail. It is a tall order, to be sure, and one most likely to fail. There's a touch of Quixote in me, I suppose. I just keep tilting at windmills.

I'm glad you watched Inside Job, and I understand the pain it caused. There are many other works which can bring one to such rage.

Rage, however, is not a plan. Neither is hope. To your comment on what a libertarian world would have done with the banksters, yes, failure would have been the option. But one must consider this at a much deeper level. The libertarian, as I define that term, is extraordinarily wary of the entire reserve banking system. A reserve bank is inherently insolvent. It never, by it's very definition, has enough money to cover it's obligations.

As a result, banks in such a system must be given special protection, and powers, to deal with this inherently ridiculous paradigm. This places them outside the most basic principles of a Free Market, the principles of Reward and Failure. Reserve banks cannot be allowed to fail. This position immediately gives them unprecedented leverage and power, and human nature being what it is, sooner or later the unscrupulous will gravitate towards a position where they will not be allowed to fail.

In 1913 the banksters took overt control. A hundred years later it is indeed a tangled web they have woven. So what Bernanke and the other central banks did in 2008 was possibly the only option which could have been pursued. But make no mistake. It has not fixed the underlying problem, as you witnessed in Inside Job. We are, IMHO, in the process of building the next Bubbles.

They too will burst. When they do, if there are enough educated folk, and they have enough will, we might reform things. Again, the chances are against us. They always have been. But without knowledge the effort will be doomed to failure from the start. Best thing to do is get better informed. I will again suggest Murray Rothbard's The History of Money and Banking in the United States as a starting point.

Just a suggestion.


Thank you so much for your well thought out reply. It is most appreciated. I will disagree that what was done in 2008 was not the only realistic option; only because any other options were unimaginable to the status quo. "Well, it is okay if we steal/lose your money, but mine"? Should the dice have been rolled? I don't really know, but I do know that there should have been some strings attached and there should have been some penalties. GM, Chrysler bailed out, but look at Detroit, anyway. Look at Flint and the rest of manufacturing in NA. If this malfeasance had been done in China by industry leaders/insiders I suggest they would have been taken out and had a bullet to think about. Our guys received even bigger bonuses. Our System is rotten and without values or heart. The people are not the cause of this, but an organized cartel of psychopathic business, political, and academic insiders are. They are aided by those whose strings they hold.....CNN?

I like what Iceland did and I commend them for the courage they exhibited. The people and Govt stood up for each other.

There is a huge bubble brewing, and the players are addicted to the monthly Fed bond buying as exhibited by the latest stock drop. This foolish market is touted all the time as an example of a healing economy..."just look at the Stock Market"!!! but I have always viewed it as just another way to separate me from my hard-earned money. Interestingly, I just put the rest of my liquid assets into GICs, yesterday. I am losing to inflation, but not as much as losing it all. Our own plans have been set for years by reducing all debt. Bought land and built home. We have built up skills and tool inventory, contribute to our community, and focus on health, friends and family. We are quite happy living simple honest lives and hope to be left alone.

I will order in your book suggestion. Thanks again.

Thanks again....Paulo

Whatever... I think the western world is more based on an efficient means of mass production.. whoever has it wins. Although, it leads to mass consumption of resources and mindless zombie consumers.

how you'd reasonably estimate inflation over a 500-year timeline

I know it would be imperfect, but my suggestion would be based on value of week of work for an average worker, as expressed in a uniform commodity. Gold would be okay (historically 1 oz = 1 week work); silver ok as well. Otherwise, perhaps based on calories of heat or food production. As you noted it is not easy to estimate inflation against dissimilar currencies and times.

Truly there is insufficient data against which to judge the chart. I suppose that if we assume correction has been made for inflation in similar manners for each heat source, then you might say the trending is interesting in that it appears to follow similar curves. Or not. What it means, though, is open to debate.

Perhaps there is another measure somewhere that shows available wood, and whether or not we see a peak in wood use from overcutting forests. Then, whether the beginnings of the availability and use of coal as an alternative, whether that decreased wood use, impact on wood availability subsequently, and so forth.

Would that I had time to explore all of these elements, we might see a significant opus, providing insight and clarity to all of our questions about peaking of natural resources. Again, or not.

Of note: "...events like pillaging the gold and silver reserves of an entire continent." I find increasing humor in reflecting on the good it did Spain to possess all that gold and silver. Indeed, reality abounds in absurdity.


It did Spain a lot of good, at the time, in the XVI Century and up to 1810.
Spain was less populated than either England, France, the Sacro Roman Empire, Italy, Turkey.
Yet the Pacific was The Spanish Lake, its soldiers fought wars against all the countries in Europe and the world, mostly winning.

In America the Spanish Empire extended from Alaska -Spain defeated Russia in the XVIII- down to California (a Spanish name and possesion) Texas = tiles, Florida (the first and oldest settlement in North America, older than the English ones by centuries) Mexico and the Caribbean down to The Malvinas /Falklands and Tierra del Fuego, and at some time included Brazil.

Also the Philippines, Guam, the Marianas and discoveries in Hawaii and perhaps settlements in Australia.

Spain founded the first universities in America, in Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina and other places.
All that by a country that had as few as 5 million people in 1492 and backward by the European standards of the time.

Although its industrial base was small it could reasonably said that the commerce of precious metals and buying processed goods from Holland, Italy, France and England kept a sound balance of payments; OK, it even was true, some of the time.

In Spain the Literature of the XVI century is called The Golden Century, it was the time of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Góngora and the Cronistas de Indias: discoverers, soldiers and writers like Cortés (a lawyer, by the way), Bernal Díaz and there were some very good artists and musicians, too.

All that was powered by Gold Silver, Guns and Steel and for a long time by the best sailing ships in the world.

Yes, their empire was financed by gold and silver stolen from the Americas. And, in spite of all the gold and silver, they we not able to defeat England, who in turn plundered the Spanish fleets, seeking that gold and silver for their own interests.

The Spanish continued to seek gold (the raison d'etre for their meanderings in the New World - that and to 'convert' the savage natives), never realizing that there is never enough, and will and can never be enough gold, silver, and dollars to assuage the greed of those who believe satisfaction and peace of mind come from riches.

Sorry for the rant... as I said, I find it ever more ironic as I hear about how we must base our money on gold, silver, etc., in screeds promulgated by worried magnates discomforted by the diminishing value of wealth. The wealth travels from hand to hand, never remaining, always elusive, never enduring. Money owns people; gold owns people; the land owns the people, not the other way around. If you think otherwise consider, hundreds of years later the gold is still here, the land remains, and the people who thought they owned it are dust.


I believe, too, that one of the effects of the huge influx of gold and silver from the Spanish Conquests was rampant inflation...

Remember that Columbus' expedition in 1492 was financed by wealth stolen from the Muslims and Jews that had been defeated by Ferdinand and Isabella.

It all keeps going around and coming around.

"Although its industrial base was small it could reasonably said that the commerce of precious metals and buying processed goods from Holland, Italy, France and England kept a sound balance of payments"

Or less charitably: a bubble of easy gold and silver that when popped then left their coffers empty, and their mining technology nowhere near that of say, the Germans--because why improve the mines when you can just send slaves with baskets down to bring up what you need, and why waste time on improved processes when the ore is so pure?

"The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment" by Gary D. Rosenberg has some articles on the Spanish vs. German mining situations, and see "Voyage of the Beagle" for observations of working conditions at a mine. For a modern parallel, try s/precious metals/oil/ and consider the financial system and where and what manufacturing is moving to.

Gold would be okay (historically 1 oz = 1 week work); silver ok as well

That's exactly what I was getting at. An ounce of gold might be worth a week's work before the discovery of the New World, but what happens when a couple hundred conquistadors can get their hands on a roomful of gold as a reward for a week's worth of slaughter and kidnapping? What happens when the the week's work to mine silver is done by thousands of indigenous slaves on starvation rations?

Answer: gold and silver lose their value, causing massive price inflation throughout the European economy. During the 16th and early 17th century Price Revolution, prices on everything rose as much as sixfold.

Take another look at the Zero Hedge graph that started this discussion. Notice that the price of wood rises sixfold from 1500 to 1650. Interesting. Does that graph represent changes in the availability of wood, or of gold?

I find increasing humor in reflecting on the good it did Spain to possess all that gold and silver.

They were untouchable while that gold held its value, throughout most of the 16th century. But as the buying power of their New World gold and silver fell, so did their political power, until they found themselves in massive debt following a long, costly war in the Netherlands to protect their interests.

So yes, it was possessing (and then spending) all that gold and silver that led to Spain's downfall. It ain't irony, it's economics.

For bonus points, guess what the Zero Hedge people think about fiat currency vs a gold standard?


The gold standard is silly. You can't limit the monetary supply to an arbitrary finite commodity. If the economy grows faster than the gold supply then you end up with a deflationary death spiral.

And consider this thought experiment. What happens when some clever nuclear engineer learns how to synthesize gold by combining lighter elements or splitting heavier elements. Do we then just have the world monetary system crash? Or even without that unlikely scenario . . . why do we want the monetary system dependent upon the rate of gold mining which is largely done in foreign countries?

I just can't understand how people find the idea to be sensible. It is not a 'barbaric relic' as the gold-bugs mock non gold-bugs. It is just gold.

" If the economy grows faster than the gold supply then you end up with a deflationary death spiral."

Sounds like it limits growth. What a ridiculous concept ;-/

Yeah, but our economy's growth should be tied to our ability to power it, not to the availability of some random element on the periodic table. So let's hear it for the joule standard.

We don't need no growth. Growth is the planet killer.

It is by greed alone that I set my mind in motion;
By the juice of lucre, the hands acquire stain, the stain becomes a warning
It is by greed alone that I set my mind in motion.

20th century Mentat


I must not feel empathy.
Empathy is the mind-killer.
Empathy is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my empathy.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the empathy has gone there will be nothing but sheer sociopathic greed.
Only I will remain.
Me and my Stuff. Mine, mine, mine!

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.
- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

That sure seems to fit the times, I must say! I'm thinking we're the ancient history that the BG analyzed and learned from...

I'm thinking we're the ancient history that the BG analyzed and learned from...

We must learn from the past or we are doomed to repeat it.


You guys do realize Herbert wrote Dune as a cautionary allegory on petro-politics, with spice instead of oil, right? The story fits the times by design.

Well yeah... It was clear even to 15-year-old me back in 1970 :-)

Thanks guys! This is why I read the Drum Beat on TOD. (Including some of the other branches - there were several but I just stuck this here)


I didn't realize that when I read it. Time to read it again. Or not...

Still though, interesting observation, one I never made when reading Dune.


Oh really? I thought it was his submission to the pointless pretentious incomprehensible gobbledigook sci-fi contest, and would have gotten the gold medal if it hadn't been pipped by Stranger in a Strange Land.

Being a profound Sci-Fi Classic I started DUNE 5 times, each time not remembering anything I'd already read. I think there were giant sand worms that could sense vibrations. And some sort of resource called 'spice' with no obvious use. I'm glad someone read it with sufficient comprehension to determine it was an allegory.


Okay, I'm sure the indenting is going to bury this, but it's the appropriate point.

In a nutshell, I'd argue Ghung is fundamentally on to the issue. By tying money to a physical commodity you tie it to a limit. By representing it symbolically you release it from any such bound, and thus make it functionally infinite.

As TODsters all know, we live in a finite world. By having infinite money we are removing all limits we place on our exploitation of a finite resource. We encourage devastation. And devastation we have.

Tie your money to a commodity, any real commodity, and you limit your exploitation. Tie your money to a symbol and you beg for ultimate despair.

Thus, we despair.

"Time for You to Leave, Grasshopper ...

And yet, it cannot be so, Master Po. For the Grasshopper is ornery, and does not yet understand how the Wind and the Sun can provide for the needs of the Body and the Soul, as the Ice melts and the Sea boils.

He does not yet see the path, save through the danger of the Atom. For that which has been done must be undone, and to do so will take great Power.

He desires the safe and narrow path, but fears it will lead to a field which is poor in harvest, rich in thirst, and fraught with violence...

He hopes he is wrong.

I don't think so. In the computer business for example, value increases by making things smaller. Growth is only a planet killer if resources are priced incorrectly.

Your logic fails.
Growth means in increase in production and consumption. This is tied to a growth in energy use which is doomed to fail:

No, increased efficiency will not help because there is a minimum amount of energy that is required to produce an item. Once that minimum amount is reached growth in production will again cause an increase in energy consumption.
People ignoring the fundamental physical limits of human existence should start taking science classes...

The economists definition of growth is: An increase in GDP.
Which is great, because this type of growth can go on as long as we can imagine and name larger numbers.

To illustrate this:
If prices worldwide were to double next year and wages were to double as well, GDP worldwide would skyrocket. Eeconomists would (by definition) have to claim the beginning of a new golden age.
Yet in reality, nothing would have changed except a few numbers.
On a sphere with limited size you cannot grow indefinitely. Those who propose "growth will continue" really mean "Growth until I die because it's convenient for me. I don't care about what happens after my death."

Most people don't realize what growth means:


I think there are many examples of why GDP is not a good measure of well being- but the one you have cited is not. If prices were to double along with wages- GDP in real terms i.e. adjusted for inflation would be flat. I don't think any economist worth anything would consider that a "golden age".

People ignoring the fundamental physical limits of human existence should start taking science classes...

And you seriously expect that to happen in a society where profound ignorance of reality and mathematical illiteracy are considered badges of honor?!

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

The economists definition of growth is: An increase in GDP.

Economists would like to measure the flow of goods and services to households, and ultimately every household's well-being, but it turns out that this is very hard to do. GDP, for all of its many and large imperfections, is the best measure we have so far.

If prices worldwide were to double next year and wages were to double as well, GDP worldwide would skyrocket. Eeconomists would (by definition) have to claim the beginning of a new golden age.

Not by definition, no. A simple-minded economist would say that there was a one-off spike in inflation of 100%, but nothing has changed in real terms, because all prices are in the exact same proportion as they were.

More educated economists would say that since debt is denominated in nominal money, not real, the total value of outstanding debt has been halved. This should allow the people who were previously up to their credit limit to take on more debt and buy more stuff (and those who were 'underwater' on their mortgages to sell their houses if they want).

A golden age? No, they would say. Creditors (old people, mainly) have seen half their wealth wiped out. But since those people don't buy much anyway, and people who max their credit limits do buy things given the chance, there would be a spike in economic activity...until interest rates rose enough to dampen it down to the status quo ante.

Pretty much every economist agrees that growth will have to stop eventually. But most of them say, let it not be while there's a couple of billion people living on less than two dollars a day, and a few billion more living on less than $20/day. Let the poor get a reasonable lifestyle first, they say. I can't fault them for that.

Take a tip from Anatol Rapoport (PDF): if you want to argue against somebody, understand what they're saying first.

I think our economy *is* tied to ability to power it. And that is exactly why it has barely growth in the past 6 years outside of the fast-growth regions like China and other developing economies. Pretty much all the OECD countries have been stagnant and with many indicators pointing downward like VMT, unemployment, wage levels, etc.

I think our economy *is* tied to ability to power it.

Yep! Which is why we need a new economy that does much more with much less. That is the main message from the Solar Impulse team. In case anyone is interested they are currently in DC and preparing for the last leg of their cross country flight on their way to New York.

The United States Secretary of Energy visits Solar Impulse and André and Bertrand receive an award from the solar industry.

Solar Impulse has shared our pioneering spirit and clean technology message with many government officials as we have traveled across the U.S.. Now in the Washington, D.C. area, we were pleased to have the United States Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz join us yesterday.

The Secretary noted that Solar Impulse aligns with 4 different Department of Energy priorities, including solar, energy storage, energy efficiency, and advanced materials: “This wonderful achievement, this engineering marvel, touches 4 really critical areas for the Department of Energy.”

At the event, Bertrand Piccard issued a challenge to governments around the world. He explained that while the clean tech industry has created solutions that are clean, affordable and create jobs, people often don’t switch out of habit. Therefore, governments must play a major role in deploying clean technologies.

Exactly! Imagine what would have happened if, instead of going for 'shovel ready' road building and useless bank rescues, we had invested all that stimulus in new power infrastructure and sustainable initiatives! Instead of bailing out GM and Ford, hired them to build new mass transit vehicles. Instead of bailing out banks, had passed single payer medical care.

If we were as smart as ants, we would have figured that out. But then, we aren't that smart, are we?


If we were as smart as ants, we would have figured that out. But then, we aren't that smart, are we?

I believe the bar has been set at the IQ level of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and we haven't quite gotten there yet. To aspire to the intellectual level of ants, it seems would truly be beyond our capabilities...

BTW, for the record, individual ants are dumb as can be. The true intellectual genius resides in the Ant Hill.

Check out Chapter 11:Prelude... Ant Fugue, The Mind's I, by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett

You're thinking like a constructive economist (constructing concepts and exploring how they play out). But humans mostly think with tunnel vision, "i have money, I want its value to be based upon something intrinsic, so I choose gold, because I think there is only so much to go around", -to heck with everyone else -keeping my stash's value is sacred.....

I can't imagine transmutation to create stuff, it involves huge amounts of energy to smash atoms around, and you either use -or gain large amounts of it. But I could imagine mining something like asteroids. Gold is a siderophile element -it is attracted to iron. When out planet melted, and the ion sank to the core, -it took most of the gold and platinum with it. So it is rare in the planets crust. But iron-nickle meteorites are the iron that sank to the center of some now smashed up asteroid, and they took most the the asteroids gold. So, it is at least conceivable, we might someday end up with a lot of it.


I can only imagine what the markets would do should the rumor that a substantial asteroid, thousands of tons, and a high percentage of mineable gold ore has been claimed by an investment firm and preparations have been made to snare the asteroid and place it in earth orbit to be robotically mined. Thousands of tons of pure refined gold, smelted in space by robots using focused sun rays, will be returned to Earth via robotic glider.

Cut to animations of Space-X robotic mining missions, with a talking head hocking up estimated costs of production being around $100/pound, while flocks of other well-dressed heads start chiming in about initial buy-in costs and upside potentials of thousands of percent return.

Let the gold market roil on the news, buy on the dip, make more than enough money to recover the costs of producing the rumor.

Illegal? Well, the banks did it with real estate, and I do not see bankers in jail over it.

I think some are doing this same thing with oil right now.

Its not illegal if you have enough money to buy the law.


Pretty much a useless chart, it needs a lot more clarification. Like the log scale and different axis.

It does look like the Brent oil price is matching the oil demand decrease we are seeing this year in China, United States, and ...

If the price continues the trend and spills over to US oil prices, will already unprofitable Bakken producers finally stop producing oil? I really get a kick out of some of these companies, look at Emerald Oil's net income over the last three years (save you the trouble, all negative).


Well, that graph trend is amazingly arbitrary. How about pick the dates from 1/17 to 2/8 and have the graph shoot up? Or the end dates from 5/30 to 6/15 and have it shoot up?

If the price continues the trend and spills over to US oil prices, will already unprofitable Bakken producers finally stop producing oil?

Clearly . . . no. If they were to stop producing there would be less oil and the price would shoot back up.

It is not arbitrary, it correlates to oil demand for 2013. And no, there might not be an immediate price response depending on the extent of demand destruction, see 2009.

I was noticing this trend a while back...WTI is coming up as well - erratic but on a long term average upslope. But both Brent and WTI looked to be settling into a range. Any time Brent falls below $100/bbl it pops back up, and any time it gets above $115 there's a sharp response down. Both are being chased by the costs of new oil (going up) and capped by what economies seem to be able to handle. WTI has been looking on a trend to level around $100/bbl itself.

It appears to me currently that there's a hard cap at $115, but if I was forced to guess - I'd say that level may be coming down. Underneath that is the marginal barrel on the rise, so together they should be on a trajectory to meet - but where that may be, I don't have enough information to even take a wild guess.

Oil supply and demand are fairly finely balanced. It only takes 1-2 mmbpd for a few months to send oil to $50 or $150, and how many countries can adjust their production by that much without sinking their economy in order to maximise long term income? Err, one, that I can think of.

Who says that oil sellers can't also be oil buyers in the global market to keep the price stable?

It is finely balanced but it will still move as required. It can't move below the production price of the marginal barrel for long or else they'll stop drilling. If production costs rise then the price will rise.

But the price can't move above what people can afford to pay. If it does, demand will be destroyed. Demand destruction is big in Europe and the USA. That is why the oil industry is focusing so much on South America and Asia . . . those places still have some demand growth as some people climb into the middle class.

It is a real pinch between rising production costs and demand destruction from high prices. They can talk about reserves all the want but it is that demand destruction that seems to have the upper hand lately. They'll say there is no 'peak oil' but only 'peak demand' but I still maintain that they are and always have been exactly the same thing.

I have found that oil demand is an excellent bellwether. (The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading his flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be noted by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.. - Wikipedia)

China's factories are faltering again, pointing to slowing growth in the world's second-biggest economy.

Slower growth in China's vast manufacturing sector, seen as an economic bellwether, could raise pressure on the country's central bank to try to stimulate the economy even as it tries to contain an explosion of credit.

Just my opinion but I think that is wishful thinking on CNN's part. The Chinese run their economy in a different manner to a purely capitalist one in that decisions are made centrally. The Chinese are far more concerned about keeping a stable economy as stated in the article.

"We believe the government is committed to tolerating short-term pain to achieve its policy objectives -- containing financial risks and secure sustainable growth in the long term," noted Zhiwei Zhang, an economist at Nomura.

The Chinese are aiming to shift the focus of their economy away from manufacturing in an attempt to diversify it and create a stronger domestic consumer base. In the short term this will cause their economy to grow more slowly although still within the allowable limits set out by the party, China will weather the storm being a centrally controlled country, the U.S and other markets will react negatively as China is not acting in their short term interests (although in the long run a strong Chinese consumer base might keep the world's economy ticking along a little bit longer).

re: "High levels of radiation found in groundwater at Fukushima"

Strontium-90 levels near Japanese power plant are 30 times above safety limit

Half-lives (concentration)
1 (1/2)
2 (1/4th)
3 (1/8th)
4 (1/16th)
5 (1/32nd)

Strontium 90 has a half-life of about 29yrs, according to Wikipedia, so we only have to wait approx 145yrs until at a supposedly safe level.

The article mentions Strontium-90 (which is called "a toxic substance") and Tritium, but is silent on any other radioactive substances. It is not reasonable to assume these are the only ones present, and so longer half-lives are probably also there.

Japan formally OKs new nuclear safety requirements

Japan's nuclear watchdog formally approved a set of new safety requirements for atomic power plants on Wednesday, paving the way for the reopening of facilities shut down since the Fukushima disaster in a move critics charged was too hasty.

The new requirements approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority take effect July 8, when operators will be able to apply for inspections. If plants pass the inspections, a process expected to take several months, they will be able to reopen later this year or early next year.

Wednesday's decision setting the launch date for the new safety requirements came nearly two weeks ahead of the legal deadline, prompting critics to suspect industrial and political pressure so that utilities can restart their reactors as quickly as possible.

The critics say the new requirements still have loopholes that make things easier for operators, including a five-year grace period for installing some mandated new equipment. They also say the approvals only concern resuming reactor operations, while nearby communities lag in enacting needed emergency and evacuation procedures.

Tesla to Demo Quick-Swap Electric Car Batteries

Tesla chief executive and founder Elon Musk used popular the messaging service Twitter to put out word that a "live pack swap demo" was taking place at the company's design studio in the Southern California city of Hawthorne.

Making it fast and easy to restore full power to electric car batteries is seen as a big step in winning over drivers hooked on the convenience of refueling vehicles that run on petrol.

also Juiced Roads: Volvo Explores Electric Power for Trucks, Buses

They are working on a method where power is continuously supplied to the vehicle from an external source—in the form of power lines built into the surface of the road. Along with a power and transport firm, Alstom, the company built a 400 meter-long track at a facility in Hällered near Gothenburg. They are testing a special collector fitted to a truck. The collector draws power from the rails installed into the road surface.

Specifically, two power lines are built into the surface of the road along the entire length of the road. The power line is designed in sections; live current is delivered to a collector under or at the rear of the truck if an appropriate signal is detected.

Noiseless electric buses on the streets of Gothenburg


Buses that glide noiselessly without emissions, that pick up passengers indoors and which are powered by a renewable source of electricity – this will become a reality in 2015, through the launch of an ultramodern bus service in Gothenburg. The new technology enables completely new possibilities for future public-transport. Behind the initiative is the Volvo Group, in cooperation with the Swedish Energy Agency, the City of Gothenburg, Västtrafik, Lindholmen Science Park and Johanneberg Science Park.

This is from one of the websites above - I should note that it is Volvo propaganda. Interesting nonetheless...it seems the electric bus game is afoot (a good thing).

As to the links above...Tesla battery swapping - I predict disaster there. It's just a bad idea.

Laying thousands of miles of electrified line in the road to power big rigs? Pffft! We can't even be bothered to fix potholes. There are already things called "trains" which do this kind of thing better.

I personally don't think battery swapping is a bad idea. Ahead of its time, perhaps, but with standardization, automation, and cooperation among manufacturers, the advantages could be huge.

I think integrating a model-specific, proprietary battery into the chasis is an awful idea. Replacing/repairing a defective or worn out battery in many current models is an expensive nightmare. Having swappable, upgradable batteries would create a whole new industry to replace the dying liquid fuel systems we currently have.

When my wife finally bought a new camera, I urged her to buy the model that used standard rechargable AAA bateries so she wouldn't be stuck buying an expensive proprietary replacement in a couple of years. Same concept...

I add my vote to that one. Seems bloody obvious to me that a chunk-chunk battery swap and off you go system will really put EV's on the road. Same as I do with my portable drill out in the shop.

Every time I place my neck on this particular chopping block here lots of people here take a whack at it. Very odd. They all bring up over and over the weary weak old weeps :

"but that would require standardization, and car companies don;t like to do that"
"who would own the battery and what would keep people from stealing it"
"do you realize how heavy a battery is? How would the average person push one into the car?"

and so on, lots even more absurd than that and every one easily answered with the obvious - it would make EV's really go big time. Money!

And, of course, it could take the transport system off ff and on to wind/solar.

Hm-- maybe that's the real objection to battery swap.

I think swapping is a bad idea. At least as long as we have abusable battery technologies. The swapper has no incentive not to abuse the battery, since it will be someone else's problem. So a few bad apples can ruin the whole system. Its also not so easy to disconnect and reconnect these babies.

But we also have copious access to data-logging. It will be pretty easy to have data records on a battery, and even just with a time-stamp, it will be clear how it was treated and by which customer.. apart from that, even little camcorder lithiums have circuitry to protect them from excesses.. it would be most likely that if you overdischarged or tried to over-gun a battery, it would just shut down on you, or throttle you back.

I would envision an EV with a fixed batt, maybe a '15 miler', and a tray for extended range.

The options are pretty broad.

I think the best analogy for swappable batteries is the standard propane tank. Back in the bad old days, every manufacturer used a different size tank, with a wide range of connectors and safety systems. To fill it, you had to take it to the propane facility, where a highly-trained specialist would fill it behind barbed wire. Now, everyone uses a standard tank, which they swap for another identical tank at the supermarket. These tanks are very abusable, but the tank swapping company takes responsibility for inspecting and repairing them.

And the stakes are much higher for propane: worst-case scenario for a swappable EV battery is a short circuit and overheat, possibly destroying the car. Worst case scenario for a propane tank is a massive fuel-air explosion at the entrance to a crowded supermarket.

jokuhl's point is spot-on: the solution to battery abuse (and many safety risks) is to use batteries that are smarter than their users.

Its also not so easy to disconnect and reconnect these babies.

It could be, if someone took the time to design 'em that way. Spring-loaded contact pins on the underside of the vehicle, metal tabs on the top of the battery protected by a slide-away plastic cover. Battery mounts between the rear wheels, vehicle has a small electric motor which lowers the battery to the ground when you push two buttons: one inside the car, then one outside. Battery has caster wheels on the bottom so it can be rolled out from behind the car: a new battery is rolled in, the car lifts it into position, and you drive off. Small "gas stations" could just keep a few extra batteries on site and have a truck deliver new ones weekly from a central charging facility; larger stations could do the recharging on-site. Since all the mechanicals are built into the car or the battery, a tow truck driver can swap your battery on the roadside.

In the end, it can be as complicated and dangerous as swapping out a propane tank.

The fundamental problem with an electric vehicle is the time term in the equation for electrical energy. You must transfer the energy into the portable media and that takes time - since it is a significant amount of energy it is a significant amount of time.

Swapping out the battery masks that time requirement for the user but it doesn't remove it. Now the batteries must be gathered and transported somewhere to be charged where either they are done in parallel at very a high power (rate of energy transfer) level, or it takes a lot of time. Then they must be returned to the "station", again incurring transportation energy costs.

Effectively, a battery swap concept is an attempt to reduce the inherent problem of the finite and significant time required to transfer energy into a portable media, at the cost of reduced efficiency.

Most/all of that can be done at the battery swap station. The gas station (petrol court) doesn't send your car off to get refueled, and electricity is much easier to transport than liquid fuels. The infrastructure is already there (power lines), and battery stations could also be used as grid storage for renewables; racks of car batteries in an automated, distributed system, Robots do the physical work; computers do the rest (testing, charging, managing inventory, etc.). A smart phone app could let drivers know which station has the correct battery (like current fuel price apps). RFID and/or bar code systems already track inventories. It doesn't seem that far removed from what we have now. This is off-the-shelf tech for the most part. All that would be required is for manufacturers to get on board.

That said, this is all purely academic, since BAU is doomed :-0 (dooomed I say)...

I'm sorry my friend, but you are missing it.

The gas station (petrol court) doesn't send your car off to get refueled because the energy is already stored in an easily portable media that merely needs to be moved (it's even a liquid that can be pumped). Charging the battery takes time because it is not an analogous process to pumping fuel.

The power lines that are there may be sufficient to charge batteries in small numbers at one time, but that still leaves the problem that for every customer that comes in a far larger amount of time is required to charge that battery than would be for a fuel fill up. Picture a large gas station - for every customer swapping a battery how many minutes of charge time is required? When does that time happen? If you want to do them in parallel then much higher power levels will be required, and that infrastructure is not there. You have to be able to do it in time to keep supplying the new customers - if you get behind then people will show up and you'll have nothing to give them.

If you are using those batteries for grid storage then you may be removing charge from them at any given time, which only makes it harder to keep up.

But you are making the mistake of thinking that charging place is like a gas station. It is not. 95% of the time, people will charge up at home overnight. The public charging place or battery swap place is only for that 5% of the time when you are making a long trip or have some other reason.

Another thing the charging station can do is maintain a larger inventory of batteries. Let us say on an average day 100 cars stop by for swapping batteries. The charging station could maintain a bank of 200 batteries. This would ensure that at any given time at least a few are fully charged and readily available.

An inventory can be helpful to deal with peaks, but if your charge rate is below the required usage you will quickly run out of inventory. You still need to charge swapped batteries faster than they are used up.

You can charge all your batteries through the night (let us assume the charging station is closed at night). During the day, you start swapping charged batteries for depleted ones. The depleted ones are immediately connected to the grid for recharging. If you know how many cars you can expect on a typical day, you can always maintain a sufficiently large inventory to ensure that a fully charged battery is available at all times. Of course if lots of cars show up at the same time you may run out of charged batteries. This is equivalent to not getting a dial tone if everyone tries to call at the same time.

There are likely to be a lot of issues. Li-Ions are not supposed to be left fully charged for long periods of time. You really like to do your charging on an almost just in time schedule -only you probably don't know when the customers are going to arrive. So you want to keep only a modest number fully recharged at any one time. You might also give people a discount to the swap price, if they instead pull up to your (level-2/3) charge station instead. Maybe you also have a restaurant on site, and many customers would be happy to eat while their car is charging. I really would think swap stations would be only on major longdistance routes....

Since batteries are a big part of the overall cost of the infrastructure (cost of cars, plus cost of supporting stuff), the economics only works if the number of extra batteries per car is small, you can't have three hot swap batteries available per EV, the capital cost would be more than the total cost of the cars!

No, I'm stating explicitly that charging is not like filling up with gasoline. That is my point in fact, and that swapping batteries to make it seem more like that merely hides the required time but does not make it go away.

As for the statement that people will charge at night, it remains to be seen what percentage that will be. This situation would be straightforward to model for someone who is interested (i.e. not me).

As I see it, we have normal use EV mode,-charge at home (work?) and do your commute or local shopping. Then an occasional long trip. It is for that ocassional long trip that you need the charge-on-the road option. The problem is demand is likely to be overwhelming on travel days -like Thanksgiving, and not enough on most days to make the concept pay for the station owner.
Unless batteries get several times cheaper, I can't see this business model making sense.

95% of the time, people will charge up at home overnight. The public charging place or battery swap place is only for that 5% of the time when you are making a long trip or have some other reason.

This is a serious disincentive for potential investors. The demand for charging/swap will be very seasonal.

None of these are showstoppers. Here's a back-of-the-envelope business model for a battery swap station: I serve 10 customers an hour on average, 18 hours a day. Each swaps out a 100 kw-H battery, which I store in a charging rack for 8 hours to charge.

I'll need a charging system with a capacity for about 10 batteries/hour x 8 hours = 80 batteries. Make it 150 to handle rush hour. That should fit in a big garage.

I need about 10x18x100 = 18,000 kw-H of electricity per day, or 750 kw continuous power. That's a significant draw, but nothing the utility can't handle. In a rural area I can generate that myself with a single utility-scale wind turbine in the back lot, which is great advertising.

The money side works out nicely too, if you care to do the math.

750kW continuous is a significant amount of power, and this represents maybe one now-typical gas station. That will likely require upgrades of many local distribution systems.

Yes. In the big picture, transportation accounts for a quarter of U.S. total energy consumption: you can't shift a load that large onto the power grid without making some upgrades. But on the small scale, 750 kw is not a load that's going to make the local utility panic. They'll have to upgrade some substations as more and more swap stations are built, but these are ideal customers.

I've been meaning to work up some solid numbers on this but here's how things "should" go. With a ~125 - 150 mile range the majority of *full day mileage*, both for work and regional, trips should fall within the home charge. We're talking in the area of >99% of driving covered by home charging. Perhaps 0.5% of the rest can be taken care of with 1 (225- 275 miles) or 2 (325 - 400 miles) quick charges. Which leaves maybe ~0.5% that would need more than 2 quick charges and could really benefit from a swapping scheme.

I wonder what percentage of trips normal cars go to the equivalent petrol station...

Some people fill up at 1/2 some at 3/4 and others near E. If a car drives 12,000 miles per year and goes to the gas station at 350 miles that's 34.3 visits to the gas station per year. If my 1.0% EV miles on QC is correct then that is ~800 miles or 6 visits to a quick-charge station.

Seems like a major marketing decision will have to be whether the battery is an integral part of the car or not. If it is, the quality and general characteristics are important sales points/considerations in the initial purchase of the car, and the car owner has an interest in proper maintenance and care of the battery. If not, then the battery is more like a commodity that would be better leased than purchased. Battery leasing companies would then own the batteries and would also either own or contract with the swapping/charging stations which would manage their inventory. Either way I think the batteries will end up with tamper-proof embedded "black boxes" that log charge/discharge data, seismic events (dropping the battery), thermal history, etc. The black box could also block charging/access unless the authorized charging station or host automobile applied the correct key code.

If the system is charging 80, 100 kWh batteries at any given time, each battery charges for 8 hours and assuming 85% efficiency for the charging system, then each battery is:

receiving 12.5 kW of charge;
drawing 14.7 kW from the power line; and
dissipating 2.2 kW of heat.

All 80 batteries are drawing 1,176 kW from the power line and dissipating 176 kW.

The charging area will need lighting and a cooling system that will consume additional power.

If the charging area is a 10 feet wide isle with racks on each side, the batteries are stacked 4 high and the slots are 5 feet wide (I am imagining a short, wide battery mounted under the car like in a Tesla), then it would be about 50 feet long and 20 feet wide to store 80 batteries.

Another way would be to use a conveyor belt. The car drives into the swap garage. The discharged battery is lowered from beneath the vehicle and put on an underground conveyor belt. The conveyor belt being circular delivers a charged battery at its other end which is raised and inserted into the car from beneath. This eliminates the fork lift and should speed the swapping process. These could also be staked vertically to minimize the size of the lot. This could be built elevated in a building rather than underground.

Another way would be to use a conveyor belt. The car drives into the swap garage. The discharged battery is lowered from beneath the vehicle and put on an underground conveyor belt. The conveyor belt being circular delivers a charged battery at its other end which is raised and inserted into the car from beneath. This eliminates the fork lift and should speed the swapping process. These could also be staked vertically to minimize the size of the lot. This could be built elevated in a building rather than underground.

Watch your description in action:

It was a nice swap system . . . but the problem is that it was not an open standard and it was too early.

You're right that the charging area will need a significant amount of active cooling. However, typical air conditioners have an efficiency ratio of around 10, so the power required for cooling is about 176/10 = 18 kw --- again, not a showstopper.

"Regular" batteries, like AA and AAA are standardized.... and they are swappable. It seems people are ok with that.

except in most cell phones and many other rechargeable devices used daily. OK - cordless drills and many laptops use swappable rechargeable batteries, but every manufacturer has a different configuration with different voltages within that configuration and even those configurations change every two years as battery technologies improve. It works OK if you buy the extra battery at the same time you buy your drill, but that's it.

Even within the "standard" battery configurations (which is rapidly becoming obsolete), you have AAA, AA, C, D, and 9V, not to mention the various larger lantern batteries, plus the small lead-acid batteries in your little APC UPS's. And then we get to the auto batteries. Top terminal post. Bolt-on side terminals. different amp-hour configurations. Go into your local all-purpose "battery" shop and see how many configurations there are of "standard" batteries.

The EV market will be exploding with all the major auto manufacturers jumping in and battery configurations changing every year by every manufacturer. A battery swap-shop would be Tower of Babel-like unless the manufacturers all agreed on a single standard that would hold steady for at least 10 years, which is not going to happen. No way that swappable EV batteries will become a viable business model in the near-term future. As soon as the EV industry settles in on a single DC fast-charge standard and public fast-charge stations are common on major highway corridors, battery-swap will not even be considered.

All of the things you mention (and Twilight, above) are quite solvable. Many standards exist, often required by law. Other industries (ie: computers/electronics) have developed their standards so that all benefit. I can't see anything about transportation batteries that makes them especially resistant to standardization.

I just received a PCIe to RS-232 comm port card in the mail. I had a choice of different manufacturerers/vendors/chipsets/configurations, but all meet very specific standards and will allow my PC to access my data loggers which still use a relatively old but robust standardized set of rules. Saying that transportation batteries can't follow a similar process doesn't add up, IMO.

I just bought Li batteries for a 10 YO drill that's had several sets of its original NiCad batteries. Direct replacement upgrade. Again....

IIRC the 85kWhr Tesla battery pack is >400 volts and ~1,200 pounds.

I just received a PCIe to RS-232 comm port card in the mail. I had a choice of different manufacturerers/vendors/chipsets/configurations, but all meet very specific standards and will allow my PC to access my data loggers which still use a relatively old but robust standardized set of rules. Saying that transportation batteries can't follow a similar process doesn't add up, IMO.

$5/unit versus $30,000/unit ...no big dealio.

Although, one of the interesting things about the Tesla packs are that they use standardized batteries within their proprietary casing...much like those drill batteries (ever open one up?). I thought they might be bonkers for doing that since it complicates the bejesus out of the pack, but they're making it work for them and the way they've apparently set the BMS up - it can lose a few cells in each sub-pack and still operate.

This is why we need industry-wide agreed upon standards.

We have a standard for what goes in gasoline and diesel, we just need the same for EVs.

We have a standard for slow-speed charging . . . the J1772 connector. We have war for higher speed charging with CHAdeMO and SAE-Combo. (I think USA should do SAE-Combo even though there are no chargers nor cars yet because it is agreed upon by GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, VW, Audi, and Benz.)

But battery-swapping does have advantages over fast-charging. It can be done faster and it won't harm the batteries at all.

But that said . . . I think we are 15 to 25 years away from when we could start doing it.

It can be done faster and it won't harm the batteries at all.

On what do you base this assumption? The only way to charge the battery faster is to provide a higher power input. Is the assumption that the limiting factor in other charging schemes is the power that can be provided? Is it universally true that charging at higher power has no negative effects on the battery for all battery technologies?

You misunderstood my comment. My point is that battery-swapping can be done faster than fast-charging. (5 minutes rather than 20 to 90 minutes) The discharged batteries that are swapped out are charged at normal charging speeds and ready the next day (or in a few hours).

OK, I did misunderstand what you were saying.

The propane tank swap programs I have seen charge a higher fee when you first sign on that effectively pays for the cost of the tank. So even if you never ever pay for a tank swap again, and just take and get it refilled, the company that runs the swap program has likely at least broken even on you. You could try to ripoff the swap program by paying for a tank swap just after the tank reaches its expiry date (10 years in Canada) but they would not be losing much money as a new tank is pretty cheap. With the electric battery, you can recharge it yourself, each time reducing the remaining life of the battery without generating any revenue for the company that actually owns the battery. Given the high cost of an electric car battery I don't really see it being a viable business when people will be putting the battery through a charge/discharge cycle every day and may only need a battery swap at very irregular intervals.

There was an excellent post on TOD a few months back explaining why battery swapping wasn't really a viable business idea. The post was made right after that outfit in Israel that was promoting this idea failed.

Propane swap services charge 2-3 times mark-up for the actual propane. My friend (relative, actually) does it at his fruit stand and charges $19.99 for 3.8 gallons that cost him $7.60. He pays the service $1.00/bottle for inspection and a seal (he actually does the filling himself). If I take my own bottles to the big box farm store, they currently charge a flat rate of $1.99/gallon. With tax, a 20# bottle costs about $8.00 to refill (kind of like charging the car at home); much cheaper. I tell folks how much they can save, but they swap their bottles anyway. Convenient, I guess.

If a battery swap service charges a 40 KwH battery at 10 cents per KwH and charges $25 for a swap and has another 2 kwh overhead, there's a pretty good return, less initial investment. Typical net profit on liquid fuels is about 8%, according to another friend who owns a gas station. While I expect most charging would occur at home, along major interstates, swapping could be profitable. There's also the the idea that swapping services could offer upgraded batteries (higher capacity, etc.) when they become available, and insure that their batteries have been frequently tested and certified (along with a free cup of coffee). Marketing and all that, like current gasoline with "Techno-zoom".

With a battery-swap, I'm sure the drivers will be willing to pay multiple times the cost of the electricity. It is something that you only do for long trips, most of the time you will just charge up at home. It is the same rationalization for using public chargers . . you are paying for the ability to get a quick charge when you are far away from home, not for the electricity.

Its like parking . . . you'll pay $20 or whatever the parking places near the ballpark charge you. But you won't pay $20/day to park at home.

None of this will happen any time soon. And it may never happen if fast-charging becomes quick & easy. But it is nice to know this option exists if it is needed in an oil-scarce future.

"Its like parking . . . you'll pay $20 or whatever the parking places near the ballpark charge you. But you won't pay $20/day to park at home."

Only suckers drive to the ballpark.

I am absolutely flabbergasted with how much people will pay when sports are involved.

Once you get 'em in the presence of their friends, each seems to take great care as not to be viewed as a tightwad, and pay whatever is asked.

The profit margins could be amazing for an operator in Oregon.....They could be paid by the electric company per KWH for the power they use to charge their customers batteries, as long as they charge them at the right time of day.


Battery abuse is indeed an issue to be resolve but it is not a hard issue to resolve. You just stick some sensors, a tiny processor, and some flash memory in battery . . . that costs about a buck or two. The battery is smart and records how it is used. If someone abuses the battery, the battery reports the abuse when it is checked back in and that person has to pay a penalty.

Yeah, Ghung, that is exactly what I say. First there needs to be some time for the EV market to grow & standardize a bit. And then come up with some swappable battery shape & connector that can work in many different types of cars. And pick a size that is enough for a very small car but you could put in 2, 3, 4, or more for larger vehicles. And you could use digital codes to denote the battery chemistry type, the optimal charging protocol, etc.

Battery swapping would be a great way to allow small commuter cars to drive between cities in a local region. I wouldn't want to drive across the country but making cars with small batteries work for regional driving would be a great way to keep the EVs cheap (due to small batteries) but very useful (since they can do longer distances with quick swaps).

I think integrating a model-specific, proprietary battery into the chassis is an awful idea.

Depends on what your goals are. One of the most attractive features of the Tesla is its handling, and that was the result of locating and distributing the battery mass optimally throughout the chassis. Any "quick change" battery arrangement will necessarily compromise the way the battery is situated with respect to the car's overall weight distribution and other attributes. Maybe not impossible but not nearly as ideal as starting with a clean slate and just putting it where it works best. The second best approach would probably be a low profile package centered under the car and removable either by sliding out from the side (higher profile vehicle) or dropping down (would require a lift or pit).

Your "second best approach" is something I proposed a couple of years ago; make the battery package flat and slide it under the car, either from the side or from the rear, protected by a retractable bumper. A bit of standardization could make it doable robotically. I think Better Place was ahead of its time, if that time ever comes. My doomer id doubts we'll ever get to a "better place" regarding the car culture, but it's always a fun discussion.

Yes. The battery (or any other part for that matter), is part of the weight distribution, and also part of the mechanical stiffness of the vehicle. The more you make it separate, the less the vehicle can be optimized. And being 10% or more of the vehicles mass and volume, means the battery is an important mechanical component. And battery technology/chemistry is still being experimented on -most likely the best traction batteries a decade from now won't look the same as today's.

One of the most attractive features of the Tesla is its handling, and that was the result of locating and distributing the battery mass optimally throughout the chassis. Any "quick change" battery arrangement will necessarily compromise the way the battery is situated with respect to the car's overall weight distribution and other attributes

The Tesla people would seem to disagree with you, since they just announced today that they'll be installing swap stations between SF and LA. So apparently their Tesla S *does* include a swappable battery.

We've also been talking about the problem of battery pack compatibility: one thing about compatibility is that if one company gets out in front, it can set a de facto standard that everyone else must follow. (think Bell telephone wiring, or Edison light bulb sockets.) Tesla is in a good position to do this.


We'll link to this 2009 post up front, just to make sure everyone's clear that the fact that a Tesla EV can, indeed, do battery swaps is old news. Yes, four years ago, we learned the all-electric Model S was designed with battery swaps in mind. Or, as Tesla CEO said tonight, "We designed Model S from the beginning to be capable of swapping out the battery pack faster than you can fill a gas tank." Are we clear? Good.


I'm sure everyone has seen the video by now.

If we are going to have battery-powered electric vehicles these sorts of electric buses make sense as a transition. But as Gilbert and Perl point out in "Transport Revolutions;
Moving People and Freight without Oil" Grid-controlled electric power is way more energy efficient and ultimately the way to go. I.e. the old overhead electric powered trolleys
or lightrail instead of battery powered electric buses.

For more detail see:


Why not both? If the road has charging built in, like trolley busses (whether overhead or induction, whatever works). Your EV could tap in to the road power, which could also top up the batteries as you drive. The batteries would get you the last few miles over the roads that don't have built in charging.

Obama Preparing Big Effort to Curb Climate Change

President Obama is preparing a major policy push on climate change, including, for the first time, limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants, as well as expanded renewable energy development on public lands and an accelerated effort on energy efficiency in buildings and equipment, senior officials said Wednesday.

In a speech in Berlin on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said that the United States and the world had a moral imperative to take “bold action” to slow the warming of the planet.

“The grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise,” Mr. Obama said. “This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

Just words.

The US government is in gridlock. Nothing Obama wants to do can get through the House of Representatives. Nothing the House of Representatives wants to do (which consists of killing Obamacare and restricting abortion) can get through the Senate or White House.

Oh . . . and it gets worse, it will probably be this way for at least 7 years. The districts for the House of Representatives are heavily gerrymandered for the GOP so they'll probably hold it until another census in 2020. The GOP is out of the mainstream and the demographics are getting worse for them over time such that there is almost no chance of them winning the White House until they change policies a bit.

Obama can tinker with things at the EPA but he can't do much. And the big thing discussed about is the Keystone XL pipeline. I assume he'll approve it. Perhaps he'll suprise me but the main Obama style is the compromising centrist. So I just can't see him taking a strong position and denying it.

It gets worse...

The only things that have been getting through with overwhelming "bi-partisan" support these days are massive corporate giveaways - the only thing that both parties are paid lavishly to agree upon.

I predict that the republicans will eventually put a Keystone XL provision in something like the Violence Against Women Act that will leave Obama an "easy out," which I think he's been looking for a while now, to say "I can't veto a bill so important as this over the Keystone XL." And he'll sign it with glee.

If he could trade an approval of the Keystone XL pipeline for banning production, imports and exports of coal in the U.S. by the end of this year, then it would be worth it.

*snort* That's not a deal, that's a mugging. No republican would take it seriously.

You really think Obama wants to ban coal exports?

Just words?
Well, pretty good words if you ask me.
It does show that if an effective grass-roots mass movement on climate change action could develop, it would find a powerful advocate in the nation's highest office.
The fact that movement does not exist is no indictment of Mr Obama. If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.
Mr Obama was re-elected by a comfortable margin. He already has a number of achievements to his credit both domestically and in foreign affairs. If the status quo holds for another three years, history will be very kind to him- probably vaulting him to the front ranks of American Presidents.
So his words are not 'just words' in the sense that yours and mine are.
If the most powerful man in the world says that climate change is 'the global threat of our time' it is more than just words. Not nuclear disarmament or Mid-East peace or education reform or any of the other second-term hobby-horses Presidents of the modern era have taken up.
Failure of any meaningful action on climate change has little to do with a deadlocked Congress or a feckless President and everything to do with a weak environmental movement.
Young people, in particular, seem quiescent on the issue. Until they wake up and start raising hell Obama really has no audience for tough political action.

Agreed. Words are his main tool. Action depends on the congress, and we can see why it looks like he's done nothing.

Sure, he has also backpedalled and stuck with the bankers, failed to do many things.. but to have a US pres that at least NAMES it and lays that responsibility at our feet is significant. It's not really his job to DO it, it's to get US to do it.

"He already has a number of achievements to his credit both domestically and in foreign affairs."

That's one way to put it...

Mr O's performance to date: boviate, equivocate, prevaricate, supplicate, and finally capitulate to our Corporate Owners. If he believes that anyone is listening to him, he needs a serious reality check. If he wants any to listen to him ever again, he needs to grow a backbone, find some principles, and draw a line in the sand.

Do I look for that to happen?



Hey Zap

You forgot assasinations with drones and special forces.

Never underestimate the power of public speaking. He gives such a good rousing speech designed to suck in and manipulate. I am still waiting for a banker to be jailed.



I agree except for one thing: It's spelled 'bloviate'. :-)

Thankee, sgage. Having to rush and it does not appear in spellcheck, so my bad.


Sage, he's trying to coin a new word. Boviate = "Bovine Bloviation" >;-)

More like a Bill Murray-ism... "be the ox."


Ottawa Raising Offshore Liability Cap To $1B in Arctic, Atlantic Waters

HALIFAX -- The Canadian government is planning to introduce new rules to make drilling and production companies more accountable in the event of offshore spills.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, speaking at a news conference Tuesday in Halifax, said Ottawa will introduce legislation this fall to raise the liability cap for companies operating in Atlantic Canada's offshore to $1 billion, up from the current $30 million. The liability cap in the Arctic would also increase to $1 billion from the current $40 million, he said.

"This means companies would bear up to $1 billion of responsibility for spill cleanup costs and compensation for damages whether or not they are at fault," said Oliver.

OINK: TV ad skewers Lindsey Graham's pork-barrel plutonium MOX boondoggle

... "We wanted to call out Senator Graham's determination to continue uncontrolled spending on a project that is $6 billion over budget, behind schedule and has no future market for its product," Tom Clements, Friends of the Earth's South Carolina-based nuclear campaigner. "MOX has become nothing more than a pork-barrel project used by Senator Graham to line the pockets of special interests." The French company AREVA is a main beneficiary of the MOX plant design and construction.

The cost of constructing a factory at the Savannah River site to make mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel, or MOX, from surplus weapons plutonium has soared from $1.6 billion in 2004 to $4.8 billion in 2008 to $7.7 billion today. Clements, co-author of an upcoming article on MOX in Arms Control Today, said there are rumors in the Energy Department that the cost could reach $10 billion.

In addition to being far over budget and more expensive than safer plutonium disposal options, there are no commercial nuclear reactors lined up to take any MOX fuel which might be produced if the plant can ever be finished or start up. MOX use in nuclear reactors makes the reactors harder to control and can contribute to higher radiation release in case of accident.

Related to Small global warming rise would have 'alarming' impact - World Bank in DB ...

What Climate Change Means for Africa, Asia and the Coastal Poor

A new scientific report commissioned by the World Bank and released on June 19 explores the risks to lives and livelihoods in these three highly vulnerable regions. Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience takes the climate discussion to the next level, building on a 2012 World Bank report that concluded from a global perspective that without a clear mitigation strategy and effort, the world is headed for average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times by the end of this century.

Detour Ahead: Cities, Farms Reroute Animals Seeking Cooler Climes

In spite of considerable human development, the southeastern United States region could provide some of the Western Hemisphere's more heavily used thoroughfares for mammals, birds and amphibians on their way to cooler environments in a warming world, according to new research led by the University of Washington.

..."These findings highlight the importance of the natural corridors that exist in these places – corridors that likely warrant more concerted conservation efforts to help species move in response to climate change," Lawler said.

Where is Darwinian (Ron P.)? I've been very busy lately and visiting TOD less frequently than I usually do, but I haven't seen posts by Darwinian lately. Is he on vacation or taking a break from posting?

Word is that Ron is working on his own site (yet to be confirmed). Several regulars have left, are on hiatus,, etc., lately; reasons being debated.

Thanks, Ghung.

Global Estimates 2012: People displaced by disasters

GENEVA, 13 MAY 2013 – A new report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reveals that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. While Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt, 1.3 million were displaced in rich countries, with the USA particularly affected.

98% of all displacement in 2012 was related to climate- and weather-related events, with flood disasters in India and Nigeria accounting for 41% of global displacement in 2012. In India, monsoon floods displaced 6.9 million, and in Nigeria 6.1 million people were newly displaced. While over the past five years 81% of global displacement has occurred in Asia, in 2012 Africa had a record high for the region of 8.2 million people newly displaced, over four times more than in any of the previous four years.

“In countries already facing the effects of conflict and food insecurity such as in Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Sudan, we observe a common theme” says Clare Spurrell, Chief Spokesperson for IDMC. “Here, vulnerability to disaster triggered by floods is frequently further compounded by hunger, poverty and violence; resulting in a ‘perfect storm’ of risk factors that lead to displacement.″

Global Estimates report 2012: Highlights


Potentially 'Catastrophic' Changes Underway In Canada's Northern Mackenzie River Basin: Report

In a report, nine Canadian, US and UK scientists convened by the US-based Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, say effective governance of the massive Basin, comprising an area three times larger than France—holds enormous national and global importance due to the watershed's biodiversity and its role in hemispheric bird migrations, stabilizing climate and the health of the Arctic Ocean.

The panel agreed the largest single threat to the Basin is a potential breach in the tailings ponds at one of the large oil sands sites mining surface bitumen. A breach in winter sending tailings liquid under the ice of the tributary Athabasca River, "would be virtually impossible to remediate or clean-up," says the report, available in full online

"Extractive industries should be required to post a substantial performance bond which would be used to cover the costs of site clean-up should the enterprise fail financially or otherwise fail to fully remediate damage and destruction at the site in question," the report says. "The performance bond should be secured prior to site development and the commencement of operations."

... The ecologic, hydrologic and climatologic regimes of the Mackenzie River Basin are at risk from planetary warming. The area is ecologically fragile and could become more so. ...

Though these changes are already significant, "and in some cases border on catastrophic," the report says, climate simulations suggest increased warming will lead to even higher temperatures of a level not seen on Earth in more than 10,000 years. "Most participating stakeholders believe the region could adapt if the changes occur slowly," says the report. "However, rapid warming will make adaptation considerably more difficult."

While this performance bond idea is a sound one, in practice, the industry probably can't afford it. Because the relevant governments are keen on keeping their populace's happy with good jobs, low unemployment and so forth, this will not be done.

There's a lot of things that the Alberta government should do but won't. The political calculus doesn't support doing those things. While there are a few aware Albertans, most are content to be fat, happy, rich and stupid.

We got the government we deserved. Sucks for the environment, but there it is.

So it goes...

Reposting (June 12 originally) the original source. Nuanced - I enjoyed reading.


Outlook is grim for mammals and birds as human population grows, study says

The ongoing global growth in the human population will inevitably crowd out mammals and birds and has the potential to threaten hundreds of species with extinction within 40 years, new research shows.

An expanding human population footprint is "one of the biggest concerns of this century," McKee said. "Part of the resistance to addressing the problem is that human population size and growth is difficult to talk about and difficult to do anything about. To keep the human population in check, you have two options: increase the death rate or decrease the birth rate. I think the latter is the better choice."

Outlook is grim for mammals and birds as human population grows, study says

Nit-picking but I hate that headline as it implies we are not mammals. They could have easily said "Outlook is grim for other mammals and birds as human population grows, study says"

...decrease the birth rate.

Seraph, some of this is already occurring.

Imagine if all the world's countries got together to make this an important priority.

In an article with many caveats, and that is still being written and revised, Wikipedia says:

As of 2010, about 48% of the world population lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility. Nonetheless most of these countries still have growing populations due to immigration, population momentum and increase of the life expectancy. This includes most nations of Europe, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Tunisia, China, and many others. The countries or areas that have the lowest fertility are Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Ukraine and Lithuania. Only a few countries have low enough or sustained sub-replacement fertility (sometimes combined with other population factors like emigration) to have population decline, such as Japan, Germany, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

(footnotes removed)

It is obvious that if we do not volunteer (decrease the birth rate), we will be forced (increase the death rate) to reduce population. Since we all know that there are expected to be 11 Bn in 2100, what are the odds one way or the other?


As of 2010, about 48% of the world population lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility.

Craig, that is encouraging. It is a higher percentage than I expected.

Looks like a massive disaster is unfolding in India with possibly tens of thousands dead. Climate change causalities: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Uttarakhand-toll-may-be-in-thou...

Without meaning to lessen the tragic nature of this event, it is difficult to say that these are climate change casualties (or did you really mean causalities?). Discrete events are seldom provably caused by climate change, though large numbers of unusual events can be shown to be indicative. It has gotten to the point that every time there is a tornado, hurricane, snow storm or other unusual weather phenomena we immediately hear screams that, "[i]t was caused by AGW."

Recommended: Add together these events; present them in a group showing that it is increasingly unlikely that climate change is not altering conditions, as shown by x, y & z. Otherwise deniers will jump down your throat (as they have mine at times) with their own shouts of, "Alarmist!"


There are reasons to be cautious about attribution, but convincing deniers is not it. There are some very vocal and well funded deniers who will -never- -ever- be convinced, and we can't afford to further postpone looking directly at the problem.
If we applied that logic to the smoking-cancer problem, we would still be advertising it to kids and giving them to soldiers.

I'm opposed to calling these global warming casualties not because I'm worried about what the deniers will think of me, but because it's intellectually dishonest.

Climate is defined by statistical averages, so climate change casualties should be defined the same way. If I said, for example, "50,000 more people died of flooding worldwide in the 2000's than the 1950's" -- those could be climate change casualties. Unfortunately that's not sexy journalism, I can't show a photo of a dead Indian girl and caption it "climate change victim". But just because it isn't flashy doesn't mean it's not real.

Niggling while Rome washes away..

We need the truth, not just the facts.

Barry Bonds used steroids during his record breaking home run year.
People have been hitting home runs ever since baseball was invented, so one cannot attribute one home run on steroid use.
However, a record year?

This applies to climate change.

So how does that contradict our need for TRUTH in this discussion? If all we ever harumph over is our caution at tying anything to CC, lest we get called bad names..

The TRUTH can include those disclaimers, but we keep getting into this silly call for putting the Disclaimers up as the Headline. That's Niggling.

Would you feel the same about a photo of a person dying of lung cancer, with the implicit causal attribution of smoking.


You are right in that you cannot attribute any single event to climate change but I guess we'll be sure only when we have tornadoes in Delhi. Ah the irony of science, it doesn't help when you need it the most.

The monsoons go through periods of flood and drought, the last decade appears to have been relatively normal overall as far as the monsoons go with 3 years of drought since 2000.

I think the problem they have been having is that regionally the monsoons have been unpredictable. Last year Northern India was hit by a severe drought, this year it has seen flood conditions and the rains have arrived 2 weeks earlier than normal catching many by surprise.

The article asks whether it is a man-made disaster.

Series of dams have allegedly upset ecological cycle and hill slope stability.

Forest cover depletion has loosened soil leading to frequent landslides.

No urban planning led to houses coming up in danger areas in Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Chamoli, etc.

The flood and mud might be more a consequence of overpopulation than climate change.

Surely it's all of the above. Overpopulation and stupid dams and over-cutting of the forests and development with no plan all serve to reduce buffers, reduce resilience. So that when Climate Change throws (ever more frequent) curveballs, the results are much more disastrous. It's never one thing - it is a confluence of things.

I wonder if that's why we simply can't deal with it. We want one thing to blame so we can declare "War on Thing". That's just not how it works.

All of the articles indicate heavy rains have fallen from the monsoon in India, but that is not enough to conclude that the rainfall is unusually high and caused by AGW.

The point is that resilience is being lost, at a time when more reilience is clearly going to be needed.

Ups-and-Downs of Indian Monsoon Rainfall Likely To Increase under Warming

The Indian monsoon is a complex system which is likely to change under future global warming. While it is in the very nature of weather to vary, the question is how much and whether we can deal with it. Extreme rainfall, for example, bears the risk of flooding, and crop failure. Computer simulations with a comprehensive set of 20 state-of-the-art climate models now consistently show that Indian monsoon daily variability might increase, according to a study just published by scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The consistent result is that 4 to 12 percent variability change of daily monsoon rainfall in India are to be expected per degree Celsius of warming. "This is a robust indicator," says Menon.

Even if seasonal mean precipitation would remain unchanged, impacts could be substantial - "Focusing on the average is not always useful. If rainfall comes in a spell and is followed by a drought, this can be devastating even if the average is normal.

More information: Menon, A., Levermann, A., Schewe, J. (2013): Enhanced future variability during India's rainy season. Geophysical Research Letters (online) http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/grl.50583

Not only do we want a unitary cause, we also want the single cause to the provable except for a nearly infinitesimal remnant probability. That's simple not possible with stuff like weather, or cancer.

It's both. The problems is that a lot of traditional knowledge has been lost and power has been taken away from local bodies, people who know the area locally aren't in charge of making the decisions anymore and babus (bureaucrats) in Delhi have no clue what to do to preserve the environment other than attending seminars.

On the plus side, these towns are thousands of years old, they've seen their share of calamities like this, they will bounce back.

Or they go down like Nineveh, Sirkap, Troy, bones for the subsequent villagers to pilfer materials from for their somewhat less grand ambitions.

The town is as old as Troy probably older and still standing.

And? The Trilobites had a pretty good run, but past success is no guarantee of future survival. A large population crash (see, e.g. the Mayans) might render any "old" city somewhat unoccupied, or, hypothetically, something like torrential rains alternating with scorching droughts could force the population elsewhere, especially if these problems are somehow compounded by the loss of glacier-derived river flow, water table pollution and draw down, soil fertility loss through pollution and erosion, and so forth.

Yield trends insufficient to double global crop production by 2050

Crop yields worldwide are not increasing quickly enough to support estimated global needs in 2050, according to a study published June 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Deepak Ray and colleagues from the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota.

Previous studies estimate that global agricultural production may need to increase by 60-110% to meet increasing demands and provide food security. In the current study, researchers assessed agricultural statistics from across the world and found that yields of four key crops- maize, rice, wheat and soybean- are increasing at rates between 0.9 -1.6 percent every year. At these rates, production of these crops would likely increase 38-67 percent by 2050, rather than the estimated requirement of 60-110 percent. The top three countries that produce rice and wheat were found to have very low rates of increase in crop yields.


Spec's PV project update:
I've been worried about my plans because I reviewed them and found some errors in
the calculations. However, none of the errors substantively changed things. They
were mostly just cut & paste errors.

Well, I got a call from the Building department guy and it looks like my plan has been approved. :-)

He started to tell me I needed 3 feet around the full array but then I argued with him about it
and pointed out that the roof is pyramid shaped and there is plenty of space to walk around the
array there are plenty of other roof access points. (The rule said something about being able to
go down the eaves as long as there are at least 3 other access points to the ridge line.)

He relented . . . "OK, I guess it is fine. It is ready to be picked up." Nice.
Now it is time to start buying PV equipment. (Actually, I already bought some warning labels, conduit, flashing, etc.)

Looking at the average price of installations of around $6/watt (According to the tracker
at the California Solar initiative), the 6KW system would cost around $36,000 if I paid someone
to install it. I've been running the numbers and I think it will cost me around $12,000 in cash.
But then I get a 30% tax credit on that so it will only cost me around $8500 after the tax-credit.

That is $8500 and I won't have to pay for electricity nor gasoline for the next 25 years or so as
long as I have an electric car and stay in this house. It is the ultimate energy price hedge.

Green energy? As far as I can tell, the 'green' seems to be greenbacks saved. (At least if
you are able to put some sweat equity into it.)

Anyway . . . see . . . it is not so hard.

Nice! - It would be interesting to do an ROI calc ($ROI, not EROI) on your PV capex, as compared to buying in on a part of a Bakken oil well. Of course, you will also have some DYI "sweat capex" in your PV investment:)

Thanks for the update & thanks for posting those plans. I've been wondering how diy something like this might be!

I think the most intimidating part is creating plans and getting them approved. After that, the work is pretty simple stuff that any handy DIYer can do. The basic skills are on par with installing a new circuit for a 240V dryer outlet far from the breaker box and installing one of those twirly vents on a shingle roof. If you can do those two things then you can install a microinverter based PV system.

Just curious - Are you allowed to do that ?
In Australia all wiring and cabling has to be done by a licensed electrical contractor.

I noticed in Oz the electrical switches on the shelf are basic on/off, to be installed by one's sparky. In Canada there are a dozen types of timer, dimmers light sensor, motion switches, GFI, not to mention lighting. If you can find a fancy dimmer in Oz the hardware is about 2 to 3 times that of an equivalent item up over. Partly this must be due to the 240 volt system. I honestly do not know the law but I do know that nobody calls in an electrician to replace a $10 timer.

Even as someone a little bit left of center, I am a red-blooded American and appreciate our rugged individualist core. It is my property, I should be able to do what I want on it. More extreme libertarians would say there should be no building code at all. But I think that would be too far . . . people eventually sell their properties and I shouldn't be able to build in a way that creates a fire hazard for neighbors. But if I create plans that are approved like everyone else's and I have my work inspected like everyone else . . . why shouldn't I be able to do the work myself?

Any place that requires a 'licensed contractor' to any work (even work on your own property!) has bowed down too far to the unions.

But to answer: Yes, I am legally allowed to work on my own home. I feel sorry for places that restrict such a basic liberty.

Thanks :)
(luv the "red-blooded American" answer)

IIRC the laws in Australia (state based) came about due to electrocutions (240V) and house fires.

Slight digression: I recently helped some relatives renovate an apartment. They decided to replace the old fuses with modern circuit breakers. They discovered the previous tenants had replaced the thin fuse wire in one of the 15A 240V power circuits with heavy gauge copper wire.

To some degree, that rule increases the chances problems. If you are forced to hire a licensed electrician then you might just decide to quietly do the job yourself and never get it inspected at all. With a system that allows people to do their own work, at least they can do the work themselves and get it inspected.

In the UK I believe they have adopted a middle ground. As a homeowner you can do the DIY on electrical etc but it needs to be checked on completion by a qualified sparky. Certificates for such mods are needed if the house is sold on, so if you don't plan on moving I guess you can wire away to your hearts content.

I try to do everything to code.

If the worst should happen, My house burn down, I anticipate the insurance company coming in to examine everything. If they find 1 item not to code, they will declare that the cause of the fire, and deny my claim.

As a homeowner you can do the DIY on electrical etc but it needs to be checked on completion by a qualified sparky.

My system will be inspected by the county building inspector before it is put into operation so it sounds the same.

European new car sales fall to a 20 year low in May 2013:


Recession, better longevity of existing cars, changing work practices - and of course the continuing higher price of diesel and petrol continue to reduce the demand for new cars in this part of the world. The article suggests that the UK's bucking of the downward trend is linked to easier credit terms for individuals and small businesses.

As a footnote, my rough calculations show that this rate of sales equates to 'full' car fleet replacement time of 40 years for Europe. (Make that every 20 years, as the 'average car ownership in the EU is about 500 per 1000 people, so there are about 250 million cars on the EU roads.)

So are they still building new highways in the EU?

I think we are pretty much finished with new highways - I don't know about the rest of the EU. But in London the big money is on a new, cross city railway link - the "Crossrail". It is often touted as the largest current construction project in the EU. It will increase the city's rail capacity by 10% and carry up to 70,000 people per hour in peak travel times. However you look at it, it is an impressive undertaking.


No. Focus shifted to maintaining the existing highwaysystem instead of expanding it. In the Spain, for example, numerous kilometers of brand new highway are not even being connected to the grid ("temporarily", they believe; due to austerity.). These highways lay unused in the landscape. The original "state roads", meant to be replaced by the highways, carry few cars or trucks. That means the replacement was pure overshoot. (I just spent a week in Spain. I went there to look at this kind of phenomena. Brand new, but never to be used highways; but also office buildings with no tennants, industrial estates with no industry, appartmentbuildings and even towns: unfinished and with no people. Interesting.)

Brand new, but never to be used highways; but also office buildings with no tennants, industrial estates with no industry, appartmentbuildings and even towns: unfinished and with no people. Interesting.

And meanwhile, there are people with no cars, no office jobs, no industrial jobs, and no homes.

So we had people build things that they can't afford to buy.

But thankfully, the world bailed out those banks that own all those unproductive assets.

You know . . . we really messed up didn't we? We should have let the banks crash & burn. The value of those assets then would have crashed due to liquidation and perhaps those people could then have afforded to buy them.

I can second this. I spent 3 weeks on the Northern coast of Spain 2 summers ago, after a break of 10 years. What had been a winding all day drive, through small towns and villages was now done in half the time on new dual carriage motorways, but with quite a few 'empty' sections where the funding has been pulled and part constructed motorway stood in suspended animation. This area did not seem to have the ghost towns and buildings of the South though.

Has Motorization In The US Reached Its Peak?

ANN ARBOR—Fewer light vehicles are on America's roads today than five years ago, thanks possibly to increases in telecommuting and public transportation [... Oh, and maybe, THE HIGH PRICE of FUEL!], says a University of Michigan researcher.

Michael Sivak, a research professor at the U-M Transportation Research Institute, studied recent trends in the numbers of registered cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and vans in the U.S. from 1984 to 2011. He examined both the absolute numbers and rates per person, per licensed driver and per household.

Sivak found that the absolute number of registered vehicles reached a maximum of 236.4 million in 2008, 2.6 million more than in 2011.

He found that rates of vehicles per person, per licensed driver and per household reached their highest levels most recently in 2006—two years before the economy stalled. The rates that year were 0.79 vehicles per person, 1.16 per licensed driver and 2.05 per household. In 2011, the rates were 0.75, 1.10 and 1.95, respectively.

Not surprising given the demographics. As people retire they can drop the extra cars. Now I can cost-justify the commuter car and the truck. Once I retire the car can go away. Even using the truck for everything the total gas consumption will drop, because miles driven will really drop.

Apocalyptic Scenes As Smog Engulfs Singapore

Fast-food deliveries have been cancelled, the army has suspended field training and even Singapore's top marathon runner has retreated as residents try to protect themselves from the smog that has descended on the city-state.

In Singapore's worst environmental crisis in more than a decade, the skyscrapers lining the Marina Bay financial district were shrouded by thick smoke Thursday as raging forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia's Sumatra island pushed air pollution levels to an all-time high.

and 'Hazardous' Singapore haze hits record level

see also 'Hell with the lid taken off': The pictures of bygone Pittsburgh and its residents choking under clouds of thick smog

and 1948 Donora, Pa. Smog

I remember seeing photos of smog in London in the 1960's. Sort of like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Smog


On the Singapore link, I especially liked the lead in advertisement for a large, pollution-causing automobile.

At my current assignment I work with an old-timer who's retiring next year (he's worked two years past the minimum retirement age where you start receiving government retirement benefits). He's skilled, articulate, but very dry and formal. Since he dislikes talking about his personal life, he often brings up pertinent or noteworthy domestic and international economic subjects when we're gathered for lunch. This week he began talking about how he'd read an article stating that the US soon would begin exporting shale oil produced through fracking and that the use of brown coal powered power plants would be discontinued in light of this revolutionary advancement.

Since I'm somewhat up to speed about some of the facts concerning shale oil I told him about the

* ratio of domestic production to imports in the US
* abysmal net energy derived from shale oil
* tapering off of production increase in shale oil plays because the lowest-hanging fruit (sweet spots) are drilled, produced from and abandoned first
* high production decline and poor recovery rates (high depletion rates?)
* horrid potentially recoverable reserves to resources bases ratio
* subsidizing of shale oil production through still-cheap conventional hydrocarbon sources (trucks bringing in equipment and there not being any pipelines in shale oil play country; correct me if I'm wrong on the second point)
* remaining conventional reserves in the US (20 billion barrels or something closely reminiscent to this number?)

I also told him that the highly optimistic articles dismissing and downplaying peak oil in favour of questionable advances in the recovery of second-grade sources of liquid hydrocarbon energy were written by economists with a scarce grasp of the natural world and limits therein. I must mention that this person is an economist himself and manages the administrative details at my current assignment (contractual details and such). Given that he's so professional I thought he would understand, but he dismissed it altogether and wanted to discuss something else. I wasn't brash or arrogant, but mentioned these facts in a concise manner (somewhat difficult in Norwegian since I lack the required decorum).

In other news, I feel good lately. I'll be forever troubled by a decade worth of internal negative monologue and depression, but things are not so hopeless, even though doom/despair is closing ever in and looming like before. I know this is Norway's and my peak prosperity. I'll never get to be old, retire or have kids (I refuse to have kids who will die before me or have significantly worse lives). There's been a flurry of negative articles regarding the state of the Norwegian economy lately. Nobody is mentioning that we're producing as much oil as we did 20 years ago (down from 3.1mbpd to around 1.45mbpd), only that investments are surging. As if it's the money caught up in this that's significant and not the resulting net energy? I suppose it's because we're still exporting 80% or so of our current domestic production. Money is king while there are no shortages of which to speak.

Unemployment is rising despite a net increase in jobs because there's net population growth of around 100 thousand people a year in a country of 5 million (where 4 million are ethnic Norwegians who hardly reproduce to keep up with deaths). Too many additional want-to-haves (and it's not like all of the excess have required competencies such as an education or mastery of either Norwegian, English or another mutually intelligble Scandinavian language). Oslo is a mess with thousands of gypsies begging on most every street corner in the downtown area of the capital and I'm being asked daily whether I want to purchase dope of dubious quality from West-African refugees/asylum-seekers who don't speak a word of Norwegian.

There's just so much irrationality and lack of pragmatical solutions. When there's no shortages you can cater to every minority's niche wishes without making it look like there's compromise. But there is a finite budget in every municipality, county, city, state and nation and it some matters are more pressing to address than others, no? It's easy to spend money that isn't yours.


Thanks for your impression of modern Norway. As a Canadian I think Scandinavia would be the first choice if I wanted to live in Europe. But as someone who already owns good rain gear and a parka I am curious why there is an attraction for Africans. Although I sold a spare parka to a Somalian in Yellowknife...


Why would it be attractive to Africans. A functioning economy and government. Almost no chance your kids will be kidnapped and forced to join some warlord's army.

That is only parts of Africa, not all of it. It's a pretty big continent with a lot of different countries. Some parts of Africa are doing decently or even reasonably well. I'll grant you that political stability of African countries as a whole is not enviable, but then, neither was political stability in the rest of the world for most of its existence. Eventually, functional leviathans will rise in Africa. They're just not quite there yet.

Natural gas to rival oil as road fuel: IEA

LONDON--Natural gas is set to emerge as a significant new transportation fuel over the next five years, raising the prospect of a challenge to oil's dominance in the sector, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.

In its five-year gas outlook, the Paris-based energy watchdog said it expects natural gas use in road transportation to rise to 98 billion cubic meters by 2018, covering around 10% of incremental energy needs in the transport sector. According to the IEA, this shift will do more to reduce the medium-term growth in oil demand than both biofuels and electric cars combined.

also http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2013/june/name,39014,...

Judge rejects enviro bid to curb Mont. methane emissions

A federal district judge in Montana has rejected a bid by environmental groups to force the Interior Department to curb greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling on federal lands.

Judge Sam Haddon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana in a ruling late Friday said methane emissions from wells, pipelines and other infrastructure in Montana were too insignificant to meaningfully change the Earth's climate.

... "While individual leases may seem insignificant in isolation, any individual source of greenhouse gas emissions seems insignificant relative to total global emissions," said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center who represented the groups. "Indeed, that's one of the causes of climate change: A huge number of individual sources that, when added up, are wrecking our atmosphere."

Moreover, the groups pointed to a 2010 U.S. EPA estimate that oil and gas systems account for more than one-fifth of domestic methane emissions and nearly 2 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

From Carnegie Endowment Global Energy Think Tank ...

Uncovering Oil’s Unknowns

... the need for transparency is clear. Data availability is currently a huge concern. There is not sufficient data available at present to fully illuminate what lies ahead for tomorrow’s oils. And the oil industry has generally not been forthcoming with policymakers or the public.

Oil companies are hesitant to divulge any information that could jeopardize their competitive advantage, so proprietary analysis is the norm. For example, the circumstances under which a refiner will run heavy or light oil, turn its coking unit on or off, or shift operations to yield different petroleum product slates form the essence of a company’s competitive advantage. Even academic work can be veiled due to use of proprietary data sets.

There is also a lack of transparency in oil infrastructure. It is unclear how the industry intends to transport oil, whether by rail, pipeline, barge, or a combination thereof. It is also unclear how the variety of oils is accounted for during transport and refining. For example, how does ExxonMobil accurately report the extra-heavy oil that spilled when its Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Arkansas in March 2013? How much diluted bitumen was spilled in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010? What will be the long-term outcomes of the petroleum coke (pet coke)—a low-quality byproduct that replaces coal in industrial fuel and feedstock—piling up along the Detroit River in the spring of 2013?

The extraction, transport, and processing of oils cannot be effectively managed if these new resources are not better understood and industry practices are not made transparent.

Billionaires Dumping Stocks, Economist Knows Why

Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast......[snip]

And this is where Wiedemer explains why Buffett, Paulson, and Soros could be dumping U.S. stocks:

“Companies will be spending more money on borrowing costs than business expansion costs. That means lower profit margins, lower dividends, and less hiring. Plus, more layoffs.”

No investors, let alone billionaires, will want to own stocks with falling profit margins and shrinking dividends. So if that’s why Buffett, Paulson, and Soros are dumping stocks, they have decided to cash out early and leave Main Street investors holding the bag.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It might be an ad for something but, I thought members here would find it interesting.

Alan from the islands

Personally, I watch with relish, having a lot of cash on the sidelines. I await a time to buy in.

"Personally, I watch with relish..."

Sweet? Dill? Bread & Butter? Dow dropped 350 points today. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

"Dow dropped 350 points today. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

10 more days like today and the market might be fairly valued. A 20% bear market is 3000 points when you start at 15,000.

In big, bold letters, on CNN, the headline vis-à-vis the stock market was: "DON'T PANIC!"

I feel so... well, ... justified!!!

Back to the HOG!


Today, so far, things are going in the wrong direction. But I am patient. The day that QE ends should be a good bloodbath day. I can wait.

In the last collapse, I was fully invested before the market finished cratering. I aim to be somewhat slower pulling the trigger on the upside this time. Tough or impossible to time these things I know, but with the knowledge of oil markets, the energy systems and how that impacts the real world, I think I may have an advantage that I can take to the bank.

Of course, if it all (real world and financial world) slides into the gutter as some expect, all at once, I will fail miserably, but it will be the least of my worries anyways. Ah well, I chase those imaginary dollars and see where it takes me. Who knows, I might make enough to become one of those plutocrats who need not worry about Peak Oil ever again... I'm allowed to dream aren't I? Even of something other than the coming tide of misery due to mankind's folly?

Before you do any such thing, watch this (youtube video)

Colin Campbell predicts credit crunch due to peak oil 2005

The link should take you straight to 1 minute 48 seconds in, where he discusses over-valuation of the stock market. Is this the beginning of the ultimate crash or just some profit taking? I do believe there will be a final crash one day and those who get the timing right will not be the ones who are left holding worthless stocks!

Alan from the islands

Okay... seriously. The number of these events is unlikely to be anything but evidence of the impact of AGW.


Is RMG still among those reading TOD? He is from that neck of the woods, IIRC. Hope all is well with him under these circumstances.