Drumbeat: June 26, 2013

Egypt blames rumors for acute fuel shortage

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's embattled government on Tuesday blamed rumors and corruption for an acute fuel shortage that has had drivers waiting in long lines to fill their gas tanks — straining already taught nerves ahead of planned mass demonstrations this weekend demanding the resignation of the president.

Four Cabinet ministers lined up in front of cameras inside the presidential palace late Tuesday, trying to calm citizens' fears, as the Islamist government appeared desperate to grapple with successive political and economic crises that are hitting the country, adding to public discontent.

Government officials blamed nervous hoarding and black market diversions for the shortages. People are stocking up on staples, including fuel, ahead of the protests. Heavy subsidies on Egypt's fuel have caused distortions in the economy, encouraging some to make quick profits by illegally reselling gasoline and diesel.

WTI Crude Drops as U.S. Supplies Near Three-Decade High

West Texas Intermediate dropped for the first time in three days after an industry report showed U.S. crude stockpiles remained near the highest level in more than 30 years.

Futures lost as much as 1.1 percent in New York, before paring most of the decline. U.S. inventories slid by 28,000 barrels last week to 392 million, the American Petroleum Institute said after futures markets settled yesterday. Crude supplies climbed to 396.3 million earlier this month, the most since July 1981. A report from the Department of Energy today may show a decrease of 1.75 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Stockpiles last month swung between a drop of as much as 6.3 million barrels and a gain of 3 million, according to weekly government data.

Enbridge Line Shutdowns Sap Output as U.S. Crude Gains on Europe

Enbridge Inc.’s shutdown of Alberta pipelines capable of moving 1.17 million barrels a day toward U.S. markets is shrinking output and boosting U.S. crude to the highest level against Europe’s benchmark oil since 2011.

The company’s Athabasca and Waupisoo lines, carrying oil from northern Alberta’s rapidly expanding oil-sands operations to hubs farther south, remained closed today, with the exception of a segment from Cheecham to Hardisty. Nexen Inc. and Suncor Energy Inc. (SU), facing transportation limits, cut output.

Roads slightly less crowded 4th of July, AAA says

Get ready for lots of company on the road and in the skies around the Fourth of July weekend, though you'll find them slightly less crowded than last year.

AAA projects 40.8 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more during the Independence Day holiday, a 0.8 percent decrease from last year's record high.

The car trip still rules: 84 percent of travelers will be driving, while 8 percent will go by plane. But the number of people flying will increase slightly compared to 2012. The remaining travelers will take a train or go by bus.

Calgary’s Flooding Bruises Oil Patch Economy

Record flooding near Calgary has left the downtown core of Canada’s oil capital empty while forcing three oil pipelines to close and causing as much as C$5 billion ($4.8 billion) in damage to homes and offices.

Companies including Cenovus Energy Inc. and Encana Corp. asked employees to work from home yesterday as power to the office towers in Canada’s fourth-largest city remained cut off for a fourth day. Most shops and restaurants that rely on office workers for business were closed.

Shale, the unfinished revolution

GENEVA (Reuters) - Shale has revolutionised oil and gas supply and the global political balance in less than five years, transforming the narrative from one about "peak energy" into a story about managing abundance.

The revolution stems from the application of two mature technologies (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) in a new context to unlock oil and gas from well known rock formations that were previously impossible to tap because of their low permeability.

Indonesia Tries to Jump-Start its Own Shale Revolution

Indonesia’s state owned oil and gas major PT Pertamina has shale gas on its mind. The company is gearing up to explore for unconventional natural gas, amid Indonesia’s dwindling crude oil production.

Exxon to stop selling sticky fuel to shippers in Halifax

Citing environmental rules, ExxonMobil says it will phase out the sale of marine bunker C fuel to commercial shippers in the Port of Halifax as part of its decision to close its Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth, N.S.

Last week the company announced it will convert the 95-year old refinery to a large import terminal by year end.

Kenya plans to upgrade, not close, region's sole refinery

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenya plans to upgrade east Africa's sole refinery in the port of Mombasa rather than close it, after the threat of shutting it down prompted protests, Energy and Petroleum Minister Davis Chirchir told workers on Wednesday at the ageing facility.

Sinopec proposes $3.1 bln natural gas, LPG-based ethylene project

(Reuters) - Sinopec Corp has proposed a $3.1 billion ethylene plant in east China that would be the top Asian refiner's first to use natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a petrochemical feedstock.

Sinopec's plans call for a 1 million tonnes per year ethylene complex in Qingdao, Shandong province, at a cost of 18.79 billion yuan ($3.1 billion), according to a circular posted on the Ministry of Environmental Protection's (MEP) website on Tuesday.

Norway overtakes Russia as Europe’s biggest gas supplier

Russia lost its position as the main supplier of gas to EU last year as Gazprom exports fell by 10% knocked down by coal and high prices.

High gas prices in the EU coupled with cheap coal from the US, have made coal a more attractive fuel for power stations, according a new energy report from BP. On average, generating power in Europe is 45% cheaper with coal than with gas, BP chief economist Christof Rühl explains in the report. That’s why Europe did not compete for liquid natural gas (LNG) and its imports to Europe fell by 25%. EU imports from Gazprom also dropped by 10%, as Russia’s gas prices are tied to oil prices and therefore remained high, BP’s economist said. Norway’s gas pricing is not pegged to oil and are therefore lower. Imports from Norway rose 12%, and 2012 became the first year when Norway sold more gas to the EU than Russia, Rühl said.

Pipeline gas to drive European gas prices: EC's Lowe

London (Platts) - Pipeline gas will continue to provide price direction in the European and UK gas markets, Philip Lowe, director general of the European Commission's energy department, told the European Gas and Power Trading Conference in London Wednesday.

"Pipeline gas remains the driver in Europe given the conversion costs of LNG," Lowe said.

Iraq to announce in July firms to build oil pipeline to Jordan - official

Iraq plans to announce in July prequalified companies to build the country's first oil export pipeline in decades via Jordan, a senior Iraqi oil official said Wednesday.

Nihad Mousa, a director general at the Iraqi oil ministry, said that Japanese, Russian, Chinese and South Korean consortia have submitted documentation to qualify to build the pipeline. European and other companies have also shown an interest, she said.

Azeri gas consortium rejects Nabucco pipeline

VIENNA: The consortium developing an immense new Azeri gas field, part of European efforts to reduce dependence on Russia, rejected Wednesday the proposed Nabucco pipeline in favour of a shorter, cheaper route through Greece to Italy.

According to an announcement by Austrian company OMV which backs the Nabucco project, the Shah Deniz II consortium, has opted for the rival Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

TransAlta to sell coal power to Washington's Puget Sound

(Reuters) - Washington State utility regulators approved TransAlta Corp's 11-year pact to sell power from its Centralia coal-fired plant to Puget Sound Energy, the Canadian company said on Wednesday.

"PSE is now our largest customer for Centralia coal power," Dawn Farrell, TransAlta president and chief executive, said in a statement.

China canal project in Nicaragua has investors

The proposed passage through Nicaragua would be wider that the Panama Canal, and could leave the country well placed to capitalize on a predicted rise in global shipping over the next 20 to 30 years.

Even with its current expansion, the Panama Canal will still be too small to accommodate the world's largest container ships.

In addition to the canal, HKND has won rights to build a railroad, two ports, an international airport and an oil pipeline.

Afren Advances After ‘Significant’ Light-Oil Find

Afren Plc, a U.K. oil explorer in Africa and northern Iraq, rose in London trading after its Ogo well discovered a “significant” light-oil field in Nigeria.

Afren climbed as much as 8.7 percent, the biggest gainer on the benchmark FTSE All-Share index. Its well was drilled to 10,518 feet (3,206 meters) and encountered a gross hydrocarbon section of 524 feet, the London-based company said in a statement.

Pakistan aims to curb oil imports

Pakistan plans to use a port in the Arabian Gulf to import coal and to reduce its dependence on more costly GCC oil. That dependence is "killing its economy", said the country's water and power minister in Dubai yesterday.

One of the aims of the expansion of Gwadar port in Pakistan's Balochistan province is to help Pakistan to overcome an energy crisis by widening the mix of its power supply. The port is financed more than 80 per cent by the Chinese.

Challenges ahead as guard changes in Qatar

The energy empire built during Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani's 18 years as emir has fuelled a rise in GDP from US$29 billion to nearly $200bn and given Qatar the means to be a global player in art, sports and politics.

His son, Sheikh Tamim, who took over as the country's ruler yesterday, is to lead a nation blessed with a population as small as its reserves are plentiful: 117,401 barrels of oil for every citizen as well as the world's biggest gasfield.

But a shift in the source of new global supplies from East to West, driven by the rapid growth of North American shale gas, may eventually alter that equation.

Rising middle class fuels Brazil's protests

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - In many countries, like Spain and Greece, glaring inequality or a failing economy have triggered popular revolt.

But in the protests that have gripped Brazil since last week, regional experts say economic growth is actually feeding discontent, as a rising middle class puts demands on social services such as education and transportation that the government has failed to meet.

Industry, Environmental Groups Settle Seismic Law

The oil and gas industry will be required to provide additional protection for marine mammals, cease conducting airgun seismic surveys in certain areas of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and develop and test an alternative to field guns as part of a lawsuit settled on June 20.

Scientists Find Canadian Oil Safe for Pipelines, but Critics Say Questions Remain

Diluted bitumen — the blend of thick Canadian crude that would be shipped by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — is no riskier to transport than other types of crude oil, a new study has found, a conclusion that came under sharp attack by environmentalists.

Studies Find Methane Gas In Pa. Drinking Water

PITTSBURGH (AP) – New research in Pennsylvania demonstrates that it’s hard to nail down how often natural gas drilling is contaminating drinking water: One study found high levels of methane in some water wells within a half-mile of gas wells, while another found some serious methane pollution occurring naturally, far away from drilling.

The findings represent a middle ground between critics of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing who claim it causes widespread contamination, and an industry that suggests they are rare or nonexistent.

Massive tar mat dug up off Louisiana coast, 3 years after Gulf spill

(CNN) -- Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, workers have dug up a massive chunk of weathered crude from the shallows off a Louisiana beach.

The tar mat, a slab of oil residue mixed with wet sand, was about 165 feet long by 65 feet wide, said Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Murphy, a Coast Guard spokeswoman. It weighed more than 40,000 pounds, but more than 85% of that weight was sand, shells and water, she said.

BP Challenges Settlements in Gulf Oil Spill

NEW ORLEANS — BP is placing full-page advertisements in three of the nation’s largest newspapers on Wednesday as the company mounts an aggressive campaign to challenge what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses after its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ad, scheduled to be published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, accuses “trial lawyers and some politicians” of encouraging Gulf Coast businesses to submit thousands of claims for inflated or nonexistent losses.

Marc Rich, "King of Oil" pardoned by Clinton, dies at 78

LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Billionaire Marc Rich, who invented oil trading and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton over what had once been the biggest tax evasion case in U.S. history and busting sanctions with Iran, died on Wednesday from a stroke in Switzerland at 78.

Why Honda's Unloading Electric Cars for Cheap

When Honda Motor introduced its all-electric Fit EV in July 2012, it set a modest goal of delivering 1,100 of the lease-only cars in two years. Yet through May, the company had found just 176 takers for the plug-in. Consumers didn’t leap to pay $389 a month for a subcompact that can go only about 82 miles before it needs recharging, especially when the gas-powered version gets 30 miles a gallon and costs half as much. General Motors, maker of the plug-in Chevy Volt hybrid, and Nissan Motor, which makes the all-electric Leaf, have also seen sales fall short of their goals.

Car Sharing Grows With Fewer Strings Attached

One-way or free-floating services, which recently started in the United States, use GPS and smartphone apps for far more flexible car sharing. Cars are parked on city streets, and users pick up cars parked nearest to them. Instead of bringing the car back to a lot, users leave it wherever they find parking near their destination. They are charged for the amount of time they spend driving.

Solar Boat Harnessed for Research

Last year, after it became the first solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the globe, the Turanor Planetsolar could have taken its 5,500 square feet of photovoltaic cells and eight tons of lithium-ion batteries and sailed off into the sunset.

Instead it is becoming a scientific research ship, at least for the summer. The boat, a 100-foot, $17 million catamaran that was dreamed up by a Swiss eco-adventurer and bankrolled by a German businessman, will cruise the Gulf Stream studying the role of atmospheric aerosols and phytoplankton in regulating climate, under the direction of Martin Beniston, a climatologist at the University of Geneva.

Clean Energy to Reach 25% by 2018 on New Markets, Costs

Renewable energy may supply more electricity than nuclear reactors or natural gas by 2016, spurred by declining costs and growing demand in emerging markets, the International Energy Agency said.

Wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal use may grow 40 percent in the next five years, double the 20 percent pace in 2011, the Paris-based organization said today in a report on the industry. Excluding hydropower, cleaner sources of energy may reach 8 percent of total world electricity generation capacity by 2018, compared with 4 percent in 2011, the IEA said.

U.K. Wave Energy Needs Strike Price Six Times Higher Than Coal

Technologies that make electricity from waves need subsidized prices almost six times tariffs paid for coal-fired power if British developers are to bring their devices to market, an adviser to the government said.

Under the U.K.’s Electricity Market Reform, wave energy providers need at least 300 pounds ($461) a megawatt-hour if support is given over 20 years or 350 pounds over 15 years, said Richard Yemm, chairman of the EMR sub-group of the Marine Energy Programme Board, which advises the government on the industry. That compares with $78 a megawatt-hour price paid for coal-fired power, according to a Bloomberg estimate.

Melting Ice, Freezing Fossil Fuels Ambitions: Interview with Fen Montaigne

I am in the go-slow camp when it comes to developing the Arctic, whether it be the region’s fossil fuel riches, its minerals, or its fisheries. I think the problems that Shell has experienced in its early attempts to drill off Alaska’s coast bolster the case for a cautious approach. Cleaning up an oil spill in that environment would be far, far more difficult than in the Gulf of Mexico, and a spill’s effects would be more severe and long lasting in a cold-water environment than in warm waters.

The Arctic nations — as well as other interested countries, such as China — need to carefully survey and assess the resources of the Arctic basin and draft a conservative plan for their exploitation. That may include a ban on drilling for oil and gas in large sections of the Arctic.

Alberta Floods Cause: Jet Stream Seen As One Of The Causes Behind Floods, Upside-Down Weather

EDMONTON - It's a long way from the Arctic Ocean to southern Alberta, but scientists are increasingly intrigued by theories that link disappearing sea ice to off-the-hook weather such as last week's flooding.

Many are coming to believe there's a common thread between not enough ice on the ocean and too much water in the rivers — a high-altitude, high-speed torrent of air called the jet stream.

A changing tide?

ONE of the most divisive debates in Canada during the seven and a half years that Stephen Harper has been prime minister has been about climate change. It has pitted Mr Harper’s Conservative government and the country’s oil industry against the New Democrat and Liberal opposition parties and environmentalists, who mourn Canada’s exit from the Kyoto protocol and advocate stronger measures to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions.

Floodwaters began to rise in the western province of Alberta on June 20th. Within days four people had died, 100,000 had been displaced and the Calgary headquarters of the major oil firms had been forced to close. Greens quickly sensed an opportunity to press their case: with the centre of Canada’s oil industry underwater, perhaps the government would take a stronger line on the environment? Andrew Nikoforuk, a Calgary-based environmental writer, said: “I only hope my city’s nightmare is the climate-change wake-up Alberta, and Canada, needs.”

Environment and climate change: where the parties stand

After once being policy frontrunners, the environment and climate change have slipped on the agenda.

When the ALP was elected in 2007, then prime minister Kevin Rudd made climate change centre-stage at the UN climate meeting in Bali, where he declared that Australia would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Since then, the carbon tax was introduced, dumped and then returned to the agenda, and legislated. But it now faces being axed should the Coalition be elected.

Obama Sets Limiting Carbon as Priority in Climate Plan

President Barack Obama declared that limiting carbon emissions is in the national interest, setting a standard that will affect almost every sector of the economy, from power plants to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The package of initiatives announced in an address in Washington today mark the president’s first detailed plan for confronting what he’s called a central global challenge of the 21st century.

Clean Air Act, Reinterpreted, Would Focus on Flexibility and State-Level Efforts

With no chance of Congressional support, President Obama is staking part of his legacy on a big risk: that he can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by stretching the intent of a law decades old and not written with climate change in mind.

His plan, unveiled Tuesday at Georgetown University in Washington, will set off legal and political battles that will last years.

But experts say that if all goes well for the president, the plan could potentially meet his stated goal of an overall emissions reduction of 17 percent by 2020, compared with the level in 2005.

Keystone Supporters, Foes See Obama’s Support in Address

Leaders of a group opposing the Keystone XL pipeline hailed President Barack Obama for raising the issue in a major address on combating climate change.

“On a scale of one to 10, this was an 11,” said Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for 350.org, which advocates for action to address climate change.

Supporters of the project also were heartened.

Obama's Faulty Plan a 'Full-Throttle' Endorsement of Fracking

Obama climate plan touts gas fracking as "Transition Fuel," doubling down on methane risk.

Obama’s Challenge on Climate Change

President Barack Obama today announced a broad attack on climate change. His hope is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and he aims at every target imaginable -- every target within his authority, that is.

Included in his plan are solar and wind projects on U.S. public lands, new energy-efficiency standards and fuel-economy requirements, and greater limits on greenhouse-gas emissions of all kinds.

Obama's global warming plan: Not enough but better than nothing

Other than his position on Keystone pipeline, the most controversial aspect of Mr. Obama's plan involves reducing the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. That policy is virtually unavoidable as such facilities generate about one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But it's also unlikely to prove popular with conservatives who see such regulations as a burden to the private sector and generally prefer to delay, dilute or deny climate change policy.

A far better approach would involve some form of carbon tax or cap-and-trade policy that gave greater flexibility to energy providers. It would let the marketplace determine the solution. And fossil fuel-based forms of energy would be forced to pay for the harm they cause. In return, the federal government might reduce other taxes so that average consumers would suffer little-to-no net loss while the invisible hand of the free market works its magic.

Coal at Risk as Obama Seeks to Revive Emissions Progress

In his first presidential term, President Barack Obama presided over a sharp decline in U.S. carbon pollution.

With the economy depressed, Americans drove less. Low natural gas prices prompted utilities to shutter carbon-heavy coal plants, and burn more gas for electricity. Solar and wind installations soared.

This year, coal use and carbon emissions are up -- and forecast to grow in the years ahead, putting in doubt Obama’s 2009 pledge to cut greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020. It’s against that backdrop that he outlined yesterday a broad swath of policies to curb the use of coal, improve the efficiency of appliances and boost clean-energy investments.

Obama’s Overseas Coal Pledge to Curb Ex-Im Bank Financing

President Barack Obama pledged to end U.S. government financing of overseas coal projects, a promise that could end millions of dollars in support for power plants in nations such as Vietnam and India.

As part of a “Climate Action Plan” released today, Obama called for ending U.S. support of foreign coal-fired power plants, unless they are in the poorest nations or have expensive carbon-capture technology.

Corbett reacts coldly to Obama climate change plan

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's governor isn't warming up to President Barack Obama's plan to address global climate change.

Gov. Tom Corbett issued a statement late Tuesday calling it "not only a war on coal ... but also a war on jobs."

Obama’s Climate Words Are Nice. His Climate Deeds Are Even Nicer.

Obama has probably done more than anyone in the history of the planet to reduce carbon emissions.

Sea level along Maryland's shorelines could rise two feet by 2050, according to new report

A new report on sea level rise recommends that the State of Maryland should plan for a rise in sea level of as much as 2 feet by 2050. Led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the report was prepared by a panel of scientific experts in response to Governor Martin O'Malley's Executive Order on Climate Change and "Coast Smart" Construction. The projections are based on an assessment of the latest climate change science and federal guidelines.

Building the indestructible metropolis

New York City's plan to bolster its infrastructure to deal with climate change is only the beginning of a long struggle to fortify cities around the world.

Re: Shale, the unfinished revolution, above

The revolution stems from the application of two mature technologies (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) in a new context to unlock oil and gas from well known rock formations that were previously impossible to tap because of their low permeability.

Progress. Usually this kind of articles talks about "new technologies" whenever mentioning hydralic fracturing. Today it is "mature technologies". So they are slowly moving forward towards actually looking at the stuff they write about.

Wow that is something but do they talk about the likelihood of shale reserves life span not being very long. I still hear rumblings of new "Baakan discovery" underneath the existing one that will be supplying massive amounts of oil for another 50 plus years...I don't know how to convince people of the futility of this because they are so programed on believing otherwise. Also it has been a while since I have heard anything about Saudi oil are they still producing at the same rate?

EIA has Saudi Arabia crude oil & condensate production at 9.14 Mb/d in February 2013, down from its record of 10.04 Mb/d in February 2012. Wait for the peak demand for electricity in summer to pass before making assumptions about their production capacity.

Re: Alberta Floods Cause: Jet Stream Seen As One Of The Causes Behind Floods, Upside-Down Weather

Lately, there's been quite a bit of talk about changes to the jet streams as an indication of climate change. This has been spearheaded by Jennifer Francis, who has made the rounds of various scientific gatherings, claiming that what is seen in the polar jet is the result of AGW. I think she is missing some of the basics in her presentations, especially the roll of the world's oceans. Changes in the circulation and heat content of the oceans directly impacts weather, but most weather people focus on short term phenomena and ignore the large areas of water which feed thermal energy into the atmosphere above. It is an often overlooked fact that the jet streams are the result of the tropic to pole circulation and their path continually varies as the large air masses move around to balance the flow of energy into and back out of the atmosphere.

A posting in yesterday's Drumbeat linked to a discussion of jet streams in which it was claimed that the Coriolis Effect was a force acting on the atmosphere. From a dynamical point of view, this is incorrect and is the result of attempting to model the motions of the atmosphere using an Earth centered reference frame. That the Earth is rotating in inertial space causes the Coriolis effect to appear as a force, whereas, if an inertial reference frame is used, there is no force, only momentum and gravity effects. The upper atmosphere is weakly connected to the surface via shear forces, thus air masses move more like the orbits of satellites. The result is the appearance of wavy patterns in high latitude jet streams when viewed from an Earth centered perspective...

E. Swanson

"I think she is missing some of the basics in her presentations, especially the roll of the world's oceans."

Maybe we should ask an oceanographer instead of an atmospheric scientist then? People are way too specialized in our complex society, but I'm still not seeing the controversy. The jetstream blocking seems pretty well correlated with the phenomenon where drought/flood/etc. parks in a given location for way longer than usual and makes a mess of things. I'm not particularly worried if the ocean is forcing the jetstream or if it's atmospheric heating or something else entirely. Is she somehow claiming the jetstream is the root cause, or just one of the observable phenomena? There's always something deeper going on in science. An understanding of the jet stream significantly increased my knowledge of some of the moving pieces (the local UA scientists are pretty focused on the relationship between El Nino/La Nina variation and polar heating as well, btw, [you can see where all the research dollars are flowing at the moment for sure, haha]).

Ditto the Coriolis Effect - it's transmitted by shear - makes perfect sense to me. I suppose it's not entirely mathematically precise to use the word 'force', but all that shear is no doubt transmitting force, each air molecule has some friction and can apply a force on it's neighbors. I'd chock it up the the vagaries of the English language and attempting to transmit scientific studies to a lay audience, but maybe my understanding is inadequate to grasp some fundamental inconsistencies you are seeing...


One can't understand the so-called "jet stream(s)" without understanding the Coriolis Effect. Start with the fact that a person standing on the Equator has a horizontal velocity of about 1040 mph, relative to the galaxy. Of course, everything else on the ground around her also has the same velocity, so she can't sense her velocity. Now, high overhead, there's a batch of air, which is starting to move to the North. As it moves, it follows the curvature of the Earth and thus the ground below has progressively less horizontal velocity as the latitude increases. But, the parcel of air is not solidly attached, so it retains some of it's eastward horizontal velocity. As a result, from ground level, the air appears to have an eastward velocity, even as the air is losing horizontal velocity because of shear forcing from the lower layers of the atmosphere. Air returning from the Arctic exhibits the opposite effect, as it starts with little horizontal velocity, then is accelerated by the moving surface below, the result being an apparent westward turn...

E. Swanson

The strength of this coriolis psuedo force varies as the sine of latitude. Its actually just a term in the equations for a rotating coordinate system, it only looks like a "force" if you view things in the rotating coordinate system (which turns with the solid planet). This has an impact, high winds are rare near the equator, and hurricanes lose the ability to collect vorticity (spin) if they get too close to the equator. [Vorticity/spin is always being lost to the solid earth, so if a cane stops ingesting it, it weakens]

It has a huge effect on weather. Without it air would flow straight from high to low pressure, and the pressure differences would rapidly fill in. But because the winds get turned, the wind flows almost perpendicular to the pressure gradient. You get a jet stream where there is a pressure gradient at altitude. And warmer air has a lower pressure gradient with height than colder air, so you tend to get surface high pressure near the poles, and high altitude low pressure near the poles. The pressure diff drives the jetstreams.

This is a very interesting graphic by Stu Ostro of the Weather Channel.

It shows thickening of the atmosphere due to global warming, as the 500mbar isobar creeps higher with global warming.

I did a linear correlation between the two and it matches accurately the barometric pressure head divided by the universal gas constant.

According to Ostro, this pressure differential is enough to cause significant ridges and troughs in the system, leading to more extreme climate events.

This means there is the equivalent weight of 20+ meters of air over our heads since we started pumping excess CO2 into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

That variation is due to both CO2 and H2O with a proportionality of climate sensitivity. You may be able to back out the climate sensitivity.

Minor quibble. That increase in geopotential height is at 500mbar pressure height, not at the surface. The 500mbar height represents the point at which one is about half way thru the atmosphere. At the surface, there's still the same mass of air overhead, it's just that the atmosphere is expanding as it warms...

E. Swanson

I have always thought that the lapse rate is pretty much fixed and doesn't this just about prove it?

He isn't talking about the lapse rate: the height of a given pressure surface depends on the scale height, which proportional to temperature.

According to Ostro, this pressure differential is enough to cause significant ridges and troughs in the system, leading to more extreme climate events.

A uniform warming (creating a small, uniform raising of geopotential height) should have no effect on weather. The atmosphere heats up and expands, the atmosphere puffs up a bit, but that's all. Non-uniform heating *will* drive changes in the winds, but that's another story.

The classical barometric pressure formula is
P = P0 * exp(-m g Z /RT)

where m is average molar mass, g is gravitational constant and R is universal gas constant. At the P = 500 mbar level, the quantity inside the exponent is constant.

dZ/dT = mg/R = 28.96*9.8/8314 = 0.034 m/K which directly matches that curve I showed above. This is definitely a result of the ideal gas law, pressure is proportional to density times temperature, and the atmosphere is expanding due to the heat.

There is another formulation for the barometric formula which assumes a polytropic exponent, f

Barometric Formula

Lapse Rate Formula

The lapse rate is constant to first order. This has been assumed since Manabe's early work in 1964. This is what Manabe thought would happen when CO2 was added to the atmosphere:

Note that the curve merely shifts over due to warming, the slope (or lapse rate) is fixed. This is a thickening of the atmophere according to Ostro as the altitude at the same temperature is higher.

I don't think we disagree on the math, only the interpretation. You're right that the lapse rate is constant, but that's not needed to explain the increasing height of the 500 mb surface.

The classical barometric pressure formula is
P = P0 * exp(-m g Z /RT)
At the P = 500 mbar level, the quantity inside the exponent is constant.

It's very simple: since m g Z / RT is a constant, as T increases, Z must increase.

But that doesn't change the amount of air over our heads, it just makes it expand. The amount of air over our heads (mass per square meter) is P0/g, and we both just took those as constants.

Thats what I would expect. Because atmosphere two is a bit warmer, and has a longer scale height, I could imagine there might be subtle differences. Its not obvious it would dramatically change circulation.

Perhaps Ostro is wrong in saying the "thickening" effect is as strong as he thinks it is.

I still find it interesting that the 500 mb records reaffirm the global temperature increase. None of this Urban Heat Island effect and whatever else the skeptics claim is ruining the surface temperature readings. This is a very sensitive weather balloon reading that essentially maps the temperature on the ground to one at about 5000 meters. The constant lapse rate assumption gives us the numbers and then we can quibble.

The lapse rate has been modeled using basic physics, the result being a version of the Standard Atmosphere. There are more than one such model, one of which is called the US Standard Atmosphere. From the link:

The "Standard Atmosphere" is a hypothetical vertical distribution of atmospheric properties which, by international agreement, is roughly representative of year-round, mid-latitude conditions. Typical usages include altimeter calibrations and aircraft design and performance calculations. It should be recognized that actual conditions may vary considerably from this standard. [emphasis added]

For example, I suspect that the model wouldn't apply in polar regions during Winter, where the tropopause may be as low as 300mbar and the atmosphere very dry...

E. Swanson

Written by Black_Dog:
At the surface, there's still the same mass of air overhead....

But humans are adding carbon to the atmosphere and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is a function of atmospheric temperature. The number of molecules is increasing which should partially increase air pressure at the surface due to a greater weight of air.

The volume of the atmosphere should also increase with the air pressure because the atmosphere is contained only by gravity, not a physical container which maintains its volume. The Ideal Gas Law, PV = nRT, does not have a constant volume for the atmosphere as temperature increases.

The same mass of atmosphere would actually produce a lower pressure if it is warmer/higher. Because the force of gravity is ever so slightly lower higher up. But, this would be a small effect.

At the surface, there's still the same mass of air overhead....

But humans are adding carbon to the atmosphere and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is a function of atmospheric temperature.

This is not a significant effect. The force balance at the bottom of the atmosphere is:

P0 A = M g

where P0 is the surface air pressure, A is the Earth's surface area, M is the mass of the atmosphere, and g is gravity. I get M = 5.2e18 kg.

The mass of extra CO2 in the atmosphere due to humans is 800 gigatons, or 8e14 kg, a change of 0.015%. (The change in water vapor is hard to calculate, but is smaller.) You can calculate the change in height of pressure surfaces from this effect using the pressure equation WebHubbleTelescope mentioned earlier: it works out to 1.2 meters.

Fluid flows exhibit vorticity at all scales. The Coriolis Effect is strongest for air flows at mid and higher latitudes, but has little effect in the tropics, as the predominant flows tend to be zonal, as you note. The pressure differences you mention are the result of the energy flows from the Sun thru the climate system, including those internal flows between the oceans and the atmosphere. I think weather folks focus only on the atmosphere, as weather is a continuing flow with short term concerns over storms, while analyzing climate patterns must include the ocean and cryosphere's thermal response. An recent example might be found in the rather warm SST's found in the northern North Pacific in the Gulf of Alaska and west of Canada. There's still a strong atmospheric circulation this morning observable in the satellite data...

E. Swanson

It was a 100-year flood on both the Bow and Elbow Rivers. People have no idea how big a 100 year flood is until the see one, and the more fortunate among them manage to go their entire lives without seeing one in their area. The last 100-year flood in Calgary was in 1902, over 100 years ago .

Many years ago when I was at the University of Calgary, I read the Calgary Flood Plan, and what it predicted is pretty much exactly what happened. When I bought a house in Calgary, it was well above the 100-year flood plain. It was only the rich people who didn't read flood plans that owned houses on the flood plain below me.

In this case, the flood was caused by a big cyclonic low (a big, counterclockwise rotating low-pressure storm system) that stalled over the Canadian Prairies because of a bocking high further east and started feeding warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into the Canadian Rockies. Usually these things move rapidly east and turn into Alberta Clippers, causing floods in Manitoba and northern US states, but this thing stayed in Alberta for days.

Here in the Bow Valley, we had 250 mm (10 in.) of rain in three days, compared to our annual average rainfall of 320 mm. Basically we got 3/4 of a year of rainfall in one storm. All of our bridges are wiped out (including the ones on the TransCanada Highway) and we are cut off from the rest of Canada except for helicopters and emergency traffic. The backcountry is even worse, e.g. the highway to the Kananaskis Valley is washed out in 4 or 5 places and the only access is by helicopter.

Since I am the type of person who reads flood plans before buying a house, my neighbourhood is in great shape except for a boil water order, but everybody here has unexpected houseguests and we spend most of our spare time helping other people move.

So, as far as is known, all of Calgary's 100-year floods were caused by these freak cyclonic storms. Disconcertingly, the 1902 flood was bigger than the 2013 one, and there were floods in 1897 and 1876 that were even bigger than that - three 100+ year floods in 26 years. For some reason, it settled down after the last 50 year flood in 1932, and the rivers behaved themselves until 2005 - nothing bigger than a 25-year flood for 72 years, which gave everyone in Calgary a misleading sense of security.

I have been wondering how you made out, RMG? Glad to hear your place is fine and on good ground. I live on a pretty good sized river prone to flood, but our property has never flooded as well as the three places right next door to us. 1/4 mile away? Look out. The power of water is frightening when encountered. Awe inspiring and humbling. Glad to hear all is well. Despite the heartache and loss I would bet life long friendships have been made as neighbours reach out to help and comfort. On the news we watched people tackling cleanup and it looked like a nightmare in hell.

Summer is coming, I hope.


People here are quite resilient and oriented toward helping their neighbours, so everyone is coping well. People who escaped without damage are wandering around flooded areas looking for things to help out with.

The only thing is that the property loss is huge, running well into the billions. My wife was on a wilderness first-aid course before the flood, and one woman was very upset that she lost her wristwatch on the course, which was a family heirloom. The next day she and her husband lost their house and both of their cars, which kind of puts everything in perspective.

You can't buy flood insurance in Canada, so this is serious. The people who have lost everything are going to have to rely on government handouts, but fortunately there seems to be a lot of government aid coming. Both the Alberta Premier and the Canadian Prime Minister represent districts in Calgary. Neither has seen anything like this in their entire lives (which of course is typical of 100-year floods).

Of course the question will be whether this was a freak storm or a new effect due to the changing jet stream pattern. I'll let the climate scientists and meteorologists figure that one out. It will probably take a few years of new data to figure that out.

I'm betting 100year floods (assuming historic 100year levels), are no longer hundred year floods, but probably 20-50year floods by now. But it probably varies by location.

It is as likely that a place that looks for 100 year floods will see 300 year droughts. Climate changes can go in either direction.

The wisdom seems to be that, with average temps higher, the total vapor in the air will be higher (amount of water, not to be confused with humidity which is the amount as a ratio to the maximum amount it could hold), and that means that rains, when they do come, could be much heavier.

At the same time, weather patterns may change. That means that areas that are used to frequent rain could become dry, while other areas used to prolonged dry weather could become much wetter. Neither of these conditions are as big a problem, though, as the likelihood that in places near the equator, wet bulb temps could rise to levels so high that nothing now living on earth could survive there. Not that some microbes might not adapt, but that would take time, and these changes promise to be fast.

So, yes, EOS, it will vary by location, and overall no conservative scientist (not politically conservative, mind) seems to be predicting that good / favorable changes will predominate. Quite the contrary.

Best hopes for moderation.


The biggest effect seems to be that variability is increasing. So weather which is a large departure from the norm for a given location/season is becoming more common. It is being called weather whiplash. We've seen a lot of cases where places have gone from epic drought to epic floods within just a few days. So many locations seem to be getting both more droughts and more floods.

Like locally, we've snapped from unusually cool and windy to record heat and back again.

The increased water vapor in the air also reduces in volume by quite a bit when it condenses to the liquid state during precipitation.

The increased vapor presence will increase the mechanical energy release during storms, as a greater volume of liquid water is dropped onto the ground below.

It looks like more aggressive storm systems coming to me.

From Climate Central

One study, published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences in 2012, found that the odds of extremely hot summers have significantly increased in tandem with global temperatures. Those odds, the study found, were about 1-in-300 during the 1951-1980 timeframe, but that had increased to nearly 1-in-10 by 1981-2010.

A familiar story in many places.

When I first lived in Brisbane (Australia) in the 1960s I was interested to see the number of western suburbs which had a distinct stratification of houses. The houses on tops of hills were built in the 1920s, and the houses in the valleys were built in the 1960s.

Looking at the history of the city, it is easy to see why. Houses built in the 1920s were built by people who remembered the 1893 flood. By 1960 these people had mostly died, or at least had retired. Decisions on development were made by a younger generation. After all, new flood mitigation measures would stop that from happening again.

It happened again in 1974.

New flood mitigation measures were implemented to stop it from ever happening again.

It happened again in 2011.

New flood mitigation measures are being implemented . . .

There is much we/I do not understand about the Jet Stream.

Last year, there were interesting links here that pointed to the variations from normal (normal assigned as "sigma" and various observations at 3 and 4 sigma, etc.)

Now it's apparently more critical.

Just to add to your thought process, if interested, the link below quotes and links to a few studies about the IPO and the exceptional heat uptake by the oceans during AGW.

I think the more we learn about this, the more we'll find out that the ocean taking up heat and (currently) driving it deep will spin the other way at some point and unleash a mess.


I think this (IPO and ocean heat uptake) will be (or is now) linked to variations in the Jet Stream, at least to some degree.

And we also had the SST that split the polar low in Jan, leading to a wacky spring.

Re: Obama's Climate Change Speech

Some good stuff there, particularly the opening salvos of the War on Coal. Why try to deny it? I say just make it official, since it needs to be fought so the US has at least some shred of legitimacy in trying to convince China/India to reduce their consumption. Cause if they continue burning coal in all their new plants for the next 50-100 years, we'll easily get 5+ C warming.

However, Obama and the political establishment are still hung up on growth. Maybe I'm just farther along on the energy descent spectrum, but clinging to the idea that growth will save us is so outdated (not to mention that claims of GDP growth are simply a scam perpetuated by debt growing at a faster pace). It's at the point where I get annoyed anytime growth is assumed to be this unquestionably benevolent objective, when in physical reality, excessive growth is extremely dangerous and unstable.

Anyway, just my rant for the day.

Hill, there's this institutional order called capitalism. It exists to fuel overclass privilege, and does so extremely well. The overclass spends a bit of its fortune making sure its core priorities are not questioned or even mentioned by politicians. Obama is one of their hirelings, a self-described pitchfork-catcher, and major player of the money-and-marketing-as-politics racket.

Hence, growth is not a topic eligible for the political table, no matter how outdated it is. The topic is simply forbidden to any politician hoping to keep a hand in the cookie jar/get re-elected. This is all because without constant growth, corporate capitalism implodes.

Changing this political situation will take a coherent and serious social movement, something way beyond Occupy and 350.org.

Well said.

"Changing this political situation will take a coherent and serious social movement, something way beyond Occupy and 350.org."

Actually, I suspect "changing this political situation" is impossible. Innate human behavior and cultural attitudes that have slowly developed over millions of years are not likely to change until events happening in the real world make it *impossible* for that behavior to continue. And even then, there will still be a whole lot of denying, scapegoating, rioting, hand-wringing and pining for the "glory days" before the fall.

Growth, greed, immediate gratification and selfishness seems to be hard-wired into us by evolution. Perhaps we should focus instead on genetically engineering altruism, concern for long-term consequences, satisfaction with what one has, and a respect for the environment into future generations. Now THAT'S what I call "social engineering"!

... claims of GDP growth are simply a scam perpetuated by debt growing at a faster pace

TAE had something to say about that in a 6/25 posting at http://www.theautomaticearth.com/Finance/deflation-by-any-other-name-wou...

I'm not sure just how fast our fall will be, or how soon it will come. What I am certain of is that, just like gravity limits growth of mountains, there are natural limits on economic growth, and from appearances they are being exceeded. The argument for catabolic decline over an extended period was discussed on The Archdruid Report the other day; despite it being well reasoned, the fear (shared by me) is that because of the world-wide actions taken as part of BAU in order to extend the growth paradigm, that very factor results in global failure, and the lack of a fall-back position to limit the speed of the decline points to likely rapidity.

We can have two hopes - one is that I am wrong and the fall will be slow and incremental; the other is that it will take a while, and during the hiatus some of us might set up our own positions to protect those we love.

Best hopes for one or the other, Hillson.


As to whether decline will be sudden or slow, doesn't that depend on your time frame? Even JMG thinks that in a century there will be many fewer people making do with what's left (or at least, that's the impression I got from the latest articles). Considering a century is not THAT long a time period, even in human affairs, and it sure looks sudden.

If there were to be a "sudden" collapse, what happens next? People are going to reconstitute society, the economy, and technology like electric as fast as possible. So then it starts looking like a stairstep.

In any case, I think all of us will be hurt by it, or have been hurt by it already. I've never really established myself with a decent job, partly because I graduated just before the crash of '08. Partly my own fault, but partly the nature of circumstance. I can't afford a car, or a house, or any of the trappings of the "American Dream". Riding a bike is hardly the end of the world, but in one sense, it's what collapse looks like. When nearly everyone is riding a bike, we will have fallen far, but perhaps also advanced just as far (health will improve, the environment will improve, limited resources will have other places to go).

I expect collapse will be "fast" by a historical scale but "slow" enough (over decades) to fool us all (or at least most of us).

Agree, Adam.

The laughable political turmoil in our little part of the world (Australia) has been playing out over several years, a blip really. However, when it reached it's head yesterday, all of a sudden it became, well, sudden.

As for the timing in respect of our individual birth date, that's interesting to ponder. As a late-40ier, with mortgage and other debt near zero, am I in a better position than you? Perhaps, but I have three teenagers still "on the payroll" and the household bills keep on coming. Will my kids be better off, with their gadget existence, largely uncaring about dad's warnings about the difficulties ahead?

Who knows, but as has been mentioned on many occasion, we live in interesting times.

Cheers, Matt

What needs to get pushed is the number of jobs and the quality of jobs between installing wind & solar versus coal.

Obama's speech was solid in making the case for doing something about Climate Change.
But he actually proposed almost nothing of any import to actually stop it.
Forcing coal-powered power plants to cut their emissions or shutdown is a good step but one which could have been made in 2009.
Otherwise it is all the same support for fracking, nukes, biodiesel etc.

The two biggest things to REDUCE energy usage and greenhouse emissions were not mentioned:

1)Stop the Wars which use 5% of US oil usage and (Obama did point this out) are the largest greenhouse gas emitters on Earth. Instead as with Auto Addiction, the Pentagon is to continue the Wars by commandeering resources like algae or god knows what from actually helping people to eat, live, heat or run some equipment. Ie as 30% of US corn now goes to feed cars instead of people at a net energy loss so more precious resources will be wasted continuing the endless Wars

2)Stop Auto Addiction - Green Transit was totally ignored, the need to move as much freight as possible to Rail was totally ignored, fantasies about the US Auto industry adapting after they were already bailed out at US taxpayer expense and are boosted by sub-prime Auto loans and electric car subsidies and cash for clunkers.

Obama's proposed actions were, as usual, nothing to stop Happy Motoring and endless Wars from decimating the planet...

Obama's speech was solid in making the case for doing something about Climate Change.
But he actually proposed almost nothing of any import to actually stop it.

Yes, which is exactly what any political speech is supposed to do: publicly profess reform/support for some long neglected problem, make ambiguous promises about "action", co-opt the language of grassroots efforts, thereby defusing public fear/anger and generating good feelings among the hoi polloi. So we can all go back to BAU as soon as the crowd disperses.

Hello and for all,

Based upon a question in a previous thread about distribution of first 12 months of reported production from the tight oil wells I have studied for Bakken (ND), I found time to do the analysis and visualize it, as shown in the chart below.

The chart above shows distribution and total for all the 443 tight oil wells I did the full time series analysis of from Bakken (ND) and which results have been presented in previous posts on TOD.
NOTE: The intervals used for the portions (orange columns) in the chart are 2,000 Bbls plotted towards the left hand scale and with a polynomial fit of 6th order (black line).
Also in the chart are shown the total (plotted towards the right hand scale) as a red line. The developments for the totals for the studied wells for Jun 2011 - Dec 2011 thinner gray line (to the left) and for all studied wells for 2010 as a blue thinner line (to the right).

From the chart it is possible to see the developments in the median and how the distribution of well productivity has changed for the presented periods. The wells I studied are from all over Bakken (ND). A study of wells by individual pools would provide insights into developments for the pools (like the sweet spots).


Rune -- Really interesting chart, thank you! Just to make sure I am interpreting the chart correctly:

1. Mean value for all wells, 1st year of production ~80,000 barrels?
2. The grey line sitting to the left of the blue/teal line indicates less production from the 2H2011 wells than from the Y2010 wells?

That is what it looks like to me as well, Steve.

There are some important implications for the industry, then. Frackers are claiming cost efficiency with multi-stage fracs and faster well completion times, and I'm inclined for the moment to give them the benefit of the doubt. But the typical well was producing 10% less in 2011 than in 2010 (albeit with plenty of spread well-to-well).

Crude markets have been flat to down, so the cost efficiency contends with upward cost pressure due to lower throughput. I doubt they are getting much more than 10% annual cost savings, or if so that it can be sustained.

What the chart shows is very important.

It illustrates that the oil is TIGHT in more ways than one.

The distribution of recovery amounts is very tight as it follows a very narrow distribution in EUR volume.

In other words, we can't expect much from "super giants" in the Bakken formation.

The statistical analysios that Rune, and DC and myself do is very appropos for predicting future production levels. It is just a matter of counting how many wells are yet to be put in production and watching the overall decline set in.

Hello Steve,

Edited as data and chart was revised.
The arithmetic average for the 12 first months total flow for all wells studied was around 85,000 Bbls.

The chart shows that for the wells started in the period Jun 2011 - Dec 2011, 50% of the wells had first 12 months total flow between 0 (dry) to 75,000 Bbls. The other 50% above 75,000 Bbls. Around 5% were at/above 153,000 Bbls (or 95% was below 153,000 Bbls, if you like).
The grey and blue lines shows a trend towards less productivity for "younger" wells.

A character error in the formula for the distribution was corrected and the chart shall be as below.

Sorry about that.

RUNE... great chart and excellent work. By the way, Deborah Rogers at the EnergyPolicyForum.com had this to say about the top 5 Shale Companies:

Free cash flow of Continental Resources, a big player in the Bakken, has dropped from ($430M) to ($2.4B) since 2010, all of it negative. And Continental is not the only one. Devon Energy’s free cash flow has dropped from ($1.2B) to a significant ($3.5B) over the same time frame. Range Resources, who are drilling primarily in the Marcellus, booked a negative free cash flow of ($556M) in 2010 and this has deteriorated to ($1.0B). Kodiak Oil and Gas, another Bakken player, had negative free cash flow in 2010 of ($170M). It has now deteriorated to ($1.0B). Chesapeake is interesting because its free cash flow for 2012 ($3.3B) is now roughly equivalent to its level in 2010, ($3.4B). But over the last two years Chesapeake has liquidated approximately $13 billion in assets with no commensurate gain to free cash flow. Management still needs to move outside the company to generate cash to continue operations. And yet, shareholders have had their underlying assets disappear to the tune of $13B to pay down debt.

According to Rogers, these shale companies may be showing positive cash flow, but in reality its not positive FREE CASH FLOW when you factor in the tremendous amount of CAPEX. I went back to some of the balance sheets and did the math. The CAPEX spending is increasing like a bad dream.

I would like you opinion on this because you stated in a prior post that these companies would pay back this CAPEX and make profits. From what I am seeing... this is nothing more than CHARLES PONZI on steroids.

However, I am just a mere simpleton and maybe I am missing something here.



What I showed in a comment some time back was a chart with some estimates that showed development in total cash flows as negative (time frame as from Jan 2009 and as of early 2013) for Bakken (ND) demonstrating that debt and other sources of financing had been used to the tune of around $20B (since January 2009) to drill wells and rapidly grow production from Bakken. This in addition to the positive cash flows generated from the operations (the sum of those becomes roughly total CAPEX).

The thing is that if companies suddenly stopped drilling they would have (generous) positive cash flows (and zero CAPEX) from a rapid declining production and provided the oil price remains around present levels, most companies would recover (earn) all CAPEX now in the ground and some more for profits within 3 years.

There is however another consideration to this and that is what debt carrying capacities the companies have (which varies for several reasons). Companies with a heavy debt overhang may become vulnerable to even moderate sustained declines in the oil price, but still have the options to reduce activities to improve cash flows. Admittedly not a preferred solution.

Financial growth (growth in profits (from growth in volume) as it will show up in the income statements) also increases the debt capacities for companies (think leverage) and more debt is used as a growth steroid, but there is a limit to how much debt a company can take on.

Companies that are close to debt saturation may get into liquidity crunches with a lasting lowered oil price.

Was this clarifying?

RUNE... thanks a great deal. I see what you mean. Let me see if I follow your drift. If these public energy companies decided to tell their shareholders that they no longer had an interest in being an energy company in the future and stopped all drilling, they could make GREAT CASH FLOW.

Thus, they could pay back their CAPEX and maybe make some profits. But Rune, what public companies follow this sort of business model?

Lastly, it seems as if there are more costs that the shale companies would like to admit to. For instance, studies have shown that the huge fleets of trucks that bring the equipment to drill, frack and transport shale oil is actually tearing up the local roads.

Even though counties and states are receiving some revenue from these companies, it turns out to be a fraction of the cost to repair and maintain the roads. Of course, the shale companies are more than happy to OFFLOAD these costs to local taxpayers rather than pay their fair share.

And can you blame them when they are on the Wall Street Capex treadmill?

You raise interesting questions.

Companies, irrespective of business, are in it for making financial profits.

There are external costs (call them invisible) that absolutely should enter the equation.
In some circles there are also discussions about the impacts from plugging wells as they come to their end of economic life and removal of equipment. If a company goes bust the state (taxpayers) normally are stuck with this bill.
Some states do not have taxation of shale activities.

Companies normally have a goal about growing, that is also why they take on debt. Any public company that do not submit to the growth rhetoric gets punished by the market.

Another strategy is to make themselves attractive for take overs. Petrohawk (that is the owners) made its money from this strategy.

Somehow the file name got autochanged, so here we go again.

A character error in the formula for the distribution was corrected and the chart shall be as below.

Sorry about that.

21 percent of homes account for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions

Energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scientists are reporting. Their study, which measured differences in energy demands at the household level, appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Their study of more than 3,000 households in a Swiss town found that only 21 percent of the households accounted for almost 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest factors contributing to a few families having a disproportionately large environmental footprint were large living spaces (which use energy for heating, lighting and cooling) and long commutes in private vehicles. "If their emissions could be halved, the total emissions of the community would be reduced by 25 percent," the scientists concluded.

More information: "Housing and Mobility Demands of Individual Households and their Life Cycle Assessment" Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (11), pp 5988–5997 http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es304084p

see also Pareto principle

I expect that the 21% of households with the biggest footprints corresponds very closely with the richest 21%, especially if things like airplane trips are included in the calculation. If everyone is poorer and many don't have jobs, they can move into together in housing, and not commute to jobs, saving a lot of energy.

This is not necessarily a good assumption.

Our family income is well within the top 21%, but we have cut our carbon footprint to a very small amount (about 1 ton of CO2, due to consuming 80 gallons of gasoline per year) for 2 people. (Of course there is embodied carbon in things we buy.) This is due to solar panels, electric cars (Leaf and Volt), buying renewable power for any grid usage -- all things that some, at least, consider "expensive" but that upper-income folks can afford.

Some have claimed that electricity use is proportional to income -- no doubt true for Chinese whose income is rapidly rising and who now want modern conveniences. However, a few years ago I looked at per capita income of states and per capita electricity use of states. New York and California have some of the lowest per capita electricity use but high incomes; highest electricity use was Kentucky, not very high income.

Why Honda's Unloading Electric Cars for Cheap

That raises the question of buying a new EV, vs keeping a used ICE (and eventually, the question will be how long to keep an EV). I've got broad data from Edmunds and Consumer Reports, but it's not detailed, and it doesn't go older than 5 years.

Has anyone seen good detailed data on the cost to own used cars?

Hey Nick,

The issue with used cars is, well, they're used. Our 12yo wagon blew it's head gasket recently and the cost of repair was similar to what we could have sold it for in mint nick (no pun intended! :)). At the end of the day, anything made by humans ain't gonna last. Electric cars, solar panels, wind farms, double-glazed windows - heck, even the pyramids - have a shelf life.

BAU, in a nutshell, has a shelf life.

200 years from now it won't be space ships and mega cities, it'll be man versus/co-existing with nature (for the most part). Is that such a bad thing? Unless we kill the planet first, of course.

Cheers, Matt

I don't think it's enough to say, 'everything will fall apart someday', and suggest that this hushes the question between used ICE cars and EV's, though.

EV's can be built as far simpler machines than ICE Autos, with motors from conversions that I've heard get ratings up to a million miles of use. The difference between that and Pistons and Combustion, Seals and Exhaust Vapors is simply enormous.

Yes, there will be complexity in the electronic controls and battery management, while those can come in a broad variety of flavors, too. Yes, tires will wear and bodies will rust, but I don't really hear anybody worth listening to suggesting otherwise..

There's a place for '200 years from now'.. but people are trying to figure out what to do NOW, in a world which will still be running on roads for I would conservatively say, another 10 years anyhow... and yet the gas that ICE cars need might be a key swing factor in how that works out.. so really, I can't be much bothered with the thrust of Nick's question, as I don't think the comparison is necessarily where the choice lies. Sure, an Old ICE car will continue to chug along, probably somewhat cheaply, if the gas supply holds along with the overall economy. If NOT (which is the everpresent question here, and the one I think needs to be in this issue as well), if that supply, or the affordability of it has plotzed on us, what are our options then? How do we move things and people then, and while we are wildly busy reacting to and designing for that shifting reality?

Let me frame it this way:

One of the major justifications for electric vehicles is their reduced maintenance.

If we could get detailed maintenance data, broken down by vehicle subsystem or component, then we could do a good analysis of the savings.

So, anybody seen that data?

A well-designed EV is going to have almost no problems with the electric motor, controller, and charging system. It will have the same problems as traditional cars with the things they share (tires, brakes, suspension, steering, etc.).

The big mystery is the batteries. Although they do accelerated testing of batteries by charging & discharging them in heated containers, we simply do not have completely solid information on how long they'll last. I'm sure the testing they've done will be very helpful such that the modeling is good and the actually results will be within the error bars of the predictions . . . but nothing compares to real data. So it will be nice as the initial crops of Tesla Roadster, Leafs, Volts, and other Li-Ion powered cars age and we get solid data.

Solid data based on experience will help the insurers, the people that write warranties, the quants that value the cars for leases, etc. And assuming everything works out, it should make the consumers more comfortable buying EVs.

Priuses have been around for about a decade or so. Has Toyota made any useful info available on their (customers) experience?

The Prius batteries have held up quite well. However, they are NiMH batteries and the EV & PHEV biz has moved on to the less-toxic and higher energy-density Li-Ion batteries.

Only time will tell what time will do, but there is at least one Prius with almost 500,000 miles on the original battery - driven by a medial transporter. I think a few other Prii taxis have seen some serious mileage as well with no battery issues. My own 2004 Prius is nearing 190,000 miles and has the original brake pads (the 12V PbA accessory battery has been changed). I doubt there will be any problem with the electric-assist rack like there usually is with hydraulic assist (though nothing can beat my CRX manual rack and pinion). There's only one low-stress belt and they even did away with that on the 2010+ models. The previous owner (I bought it with 180,000mi) kept records of everything - the biggest expenses were with the ICE...oil change/filters, air filters, radiator flush, throttle body cleaning, and of course - petrol. Second biggest were a few sets of tires.

Just had my water pump replaced on my Prius with 85k miles. $400

When we first got it 7 years ago, we got 45 mph or so. Now we get 42 mph. The dealer has insisted it is nothing to do with the batteries. We did get new tires a few years ago but that didn't change the mph.

Just had my water pump replaced on my Prius with 85k miles. $400

Um, you know about this, right?


You are a good man! :-) I had not heard about it and have gotten nothing from Toyota in the mail about it.

I checked their website by typing in my VIN and my car does not have that recall.

They sold 1.5 million Prius between 2004 and 2009 so it's not all of them.

"When we first got it 7 years ago, we got 45 mpg or so. Now we get 42 mpg." (changed h to g)

You're not hallucinating. As I said the fellow I bought the car from kept immaculate records - including fuel purchases. The car has lost a few MPG along the way, probably due to the battery not performing as well as not much else changed. Even the change to all-season tires (not LRR) doesn't seem to have amounted to much - though I keep them at 40psi near the sidewall recommended maximum. What may interest people here is that there's a double-hump in fuel economy - a drop in the winter and a drop in the summer. The fuel economy drops noticeably in the winter - cold performance is for shite and it idles for longer. In the summer there's load from the air conditioning. So in the spring and fall the fuel economy is the best.

Check your tires - a lot of them have gone to a 42 psi max sidewall up from 35 psi max and I've noticed that if you run 42 psi-max tires at the old 35 psi-max pressures they handle like garbage and fuel economy goes in the toilet. The switch to these new higher-pressure tires has happened without a peep - they've just quietly become the dominant style.

Car manufacturers and dealers think so:

"Car dealers are nervous a shift from gas to electric cars will mean that they don't see their customers as often as they currently do.

The design of the electric car is really simple. There's not a lot of parts, so there won't be much need for maintenance says Mark Perry, Nissan (NSANY) Americas' head of Product Planning. When he said that, was speaking to a group of dealers at an event in New York to show off Nissan's upcoming electric. (We stood outside the circle of dealers and listened in.) "

I've heard a contention that transmissions are the most important cause of car scrappage (" you can call any wrecking yard sales clerk and ask him why most of the cars in his yard are there ,if not because of an accident that rendered them undriveable,and he will tell you the same thing. The used mechanical component that is most often sold out is the automatic transmission. Among lower class working people who drive older cars this is accepted as a given as certain as death and taxes").

So, what about transmissions?

Well, EVs (and Extended range EVs like the Volt) don't have them. EVs generally do have a reduction gear to reduce the ratio of engine rpm to wheel rpm, which is often called a transmission. However, it's not the multi-speed affair with a torque converter and one or more clutches that drive conventional vehicles, and so reliability will be very high.

Regenerative braking greatly reduces brake wear. Brake maintenance is a significant cost. Even Prius brake wear is greatly reduced, and it only has partial regenerative braking. Taxi drivers with Priuses are very happy about that cost reduction.

EV's have no starter motors, transmissions, mufflers, tuneups (plugs/injection, air filters), timing or other belts, fuel pumps, engine coolant (with fan, radiator, hoses and pump), valves, oil (with filter and pump), exhaust pipes or muffler, catalytic converter, supercharger, idle control, or fuel injection. The engine has only one moving part, almost no internal friction, and is likely to last forever.

Wouldn't all of this likely reduce maintenance costs by roughly 75%?

Jay Leno has a 1909 Detroit Electric model that's still working just fine - it's even still using the original battery.


The Leaf’s service manual says the Leaf requires ABSOLUTELY NO SERVICE. No oil change, transmission fluid, spark plugs, tuneups, oil filter, gas filter, air filter, radiator leaks, muffler changes, power steering fluid, transmission radiator leaks, brake pads, emission control sensor failures, air care inspections...

The only recommendation: inspect/replace brake fluid every 30,000 miles.


Fleet EV managers seem particularly aware of the potential maintenance savings:

“On an equivalent 100 mile-per-day diesel vehicle, we spend roughly $900 per year in preventive maintenance – oil changes, filter changes, anti-freeze adds, and eventually transmission oil changes. With the electric vehicles, we take that down to $250 per year.

The electric trucks are only equipped with four grease fittings and no engine or transmission oil. The truck must still be taken to look at brake lines and other wear components that may be cracked. Overall, there is virtually nothing that goes wrong with these things.” – Staples vehicle fleet manager


Don't worry, the manufacturers will start to install thinner brake pads of softer material and other such 'cost savings' to increase the service rate.


Battery packs should not be a mystery. EVs should be sold "batteries not included." Then, drivers can rent and swap battery packs as desired. See my article at Safe Energy Association.


Properly maintained ICE's can routinely last 200,000mi with nothing more than oil and filter changes, and maybe some belts. Manual gearboxes the same, with more complex automatics not quite are reliable but still well over 100,000mi. In other words, so reliable that it just doesn't matter. So while an electric motor is better yet it will not be an important advantage.

Hopefully the electronics for the EV are done well enough that they should be reliable (just like with engines and transmissions though, it will vary by manufacturer as not every organization is equally competent).

The rest of the vehicle is the same. Therefore it will come down to the battery.

Car manufacturers and dealers think EV's cost less to maintain:

"Car dealers are nervous a shift from gas to electric cars will mean that they don't see their customers as often as they currently do.

The design of the electric car is really simple. There's not a lot of parts, so there won't be much need for maintenance says Mark Perry, Nissan (NSANY) Americas' head of Product Planning. When he said that, was speaking to a group of dealers at an event in New York to show off Nissan's upcoming electric. (We stood outside the circle of dealers and listened in.) "

I've heard a contention that transmissions are the most important cause of car scrappage (" you can call any wrecking yard sales clerk and ask him why most of the cars in his yard are there ,if not because of an accident that rendered them undriveable,and he will tell you the same thing. The used mechanical component that is most often sold out is the automatic transmission. Among working class people who drive older cars this is accepted as a given as certain as death and taxes").

So, what about transmissions?

Well, EVs (and Extended range EVs like the Volt) don't have them. EVs generally do have a reduction gear to reduce the ratio of engine rpm to wheel rpm, which is often called a transmission. However, it's not the multi-speed affair with a torque converter and one or more clutches that drive conventional vehicles, and so reliability will be very high.

Regenerative braking greatly reduces brake wear. Brake maintenance is a significant cost. Even Prius brake wear is greatly reduced, and it only has partial regenerative braking. Taxi drivers with Priuses are very happy about that cost reduction.

EV's have no starter motors, transmissions, mufflers, tuneups (plugs/injection, air filters), timing or other belts, fuel pumps, engine coolant (with fan, radiator, hoses and pump), valves, oil (with filter and pump), exhaust pipes or muffler, catalytic converter, supercharger, idle control, or fuel injection. The engine has only one moving part, almost no internal friction, and is likely to last forever.

Wouldn't all of this likely reduce maintenance costs by roughly 75%?

Jay Leno has a 1909 Detroit Electric model that's still working just fine - it's even still using the original battery.


The Leaf’s service manual says the Leaf requires ABSOLUTELY NO SERVICE. No oil change, transmission fluid, spark plugs, tuneups, oil filter, gas filter, air filter, radiator leaks, muffler changes, power steering fluid, transmission radiator leaks, brake pads, emission control sensor failures, air care inspections...

The only recommendation: inspect/replace brake fluid every 30,000 miles.


Fleet EV managers seem particularly aware of the potential maintenance savings:

“On an equivalent 100 mile-per-day diesel vehicle, we spend roughly $900 per year in preventive maintenance – oil changes, filter changes, anti-freeze adds, and eventually transmission oil changes. With the electric vehicles, we take that down to $250 per year.

The electric trucks are only equipped with four grease fittings and no engine or transmission oil. The truck must still be taken to look at brake lines and other wear components that may be cracked. Overall, there is virtually nothing that goes wrong with these things.” – Staples vehicle fleet manager

I put most of the same info in a comment above, but links put it in moderation - I"ll edit this down when it goes through.

Automatic transmissions are a weak link, but many still last a long time, especially on lighter cars. They are also completely unnecessary. Manual gearboxes are reliable as anvils. And yes, you can list all the parts that go to making an engine, but the fact is that the combination of all of that will routinely last upwards of 200,000mi with nothing more than oil, filter and belt changes. Mild stainless exhausts last the life of the car.

Regenerative braking may reduce pad wear, but changing brake pads is trivially easy - if you do your own it's like a 45min job and $30 for the front pads and the rears hardly ever need work.

The rest of the car is all the same - suspension, wheel bearings, lighting, body, windows, interior parts, etc. My point was that the automobile in its current state of development is extremely reliable, so if you are hoping that this will be a major selling point for the EV, well I doubt it.

I suppose that dealers who are used to making a killing doing service work for people with no mechanical abilities might be worried. But given the ethics of the dealers I've seen they will probably still be charging people to change the oil on EVs.

Edmunds says that the average maintenance cost per year (for the first 5 years of life) for the Nissan Versa is $543. Over a 20 year lifetime that's about $11k, and of course those costs will increase charply with age.

So, seen actual data, especially for cars over 5 years old??

I have no idea - in the last 14 years the only work I've had someone else to do on my cheap Hyundai was body work after a couple of dents and mounting tires. I did the rest, which was not much - certainly unexpected maintenance costs (outside of filters, oil, tires, brake pads) have not reached $500 over the life of the car.

So I don't know what the average maintenance costs people pay are - the kind of thing that Edmunds would be measuring. I do know what the actual reliability of modern vehicles is, even really cheap ones, and it is very high.

I suspect that people typically pay outrageous sums for repair work, and plenty of it unnecessary at that, mostly because they are being taken advantage of. That kind of thing is in the numbers you will see from Edmunds, and it would still be going on in an EV world.

If you go back to my original comment and look at the vehicle from a relative point of view, you are swapping out an ICE and some form of transmission for an electric motor, battery and associated controllers. The best you could do is improve upon the reliability of the parts you remove, but those are already very reliable. So if you are expecting such a rational calculation to increase the popularity of the EV, it won't because it is not an issue now.

People buy cars mostly because of what they think it will do for their image and their social fitness (i.e. because they think it will help them get laid). They assume it will also work as transportation, as that was all worked out a long time ago.

Well, there does seem to still be quite a lot of discussion about whether EVs are cost-competitive, so it would be nice to nail down the maintenance part...

It's pretty convenient for you to insist on shrugging off things like Exhaust, Transmission and Brakes. The fact is, a great many of the cars out there are NOT low-maintenance wonders for 200k miles.. people are busy and underskilled, so very few are doing their own brakepads, or will opt for a stick shift.

The needs of all those subsystems and the kind of wear that they endure is shown very clearly by the bustle in garages and auto parts stores.

EV owners talk about going for Years without setting foot in one.

I suspect a lot of parts on EVs will age(rust or fatigue) just like on ICE cars. Things still wear (especially moving parts). I figure the drive train is much better, but I suspect the rest is pretty similar.

That's already been stated throughout this conversation.. and so still, there are several systems, moving parts, caustic or corrosive materials subject to friction, pressure and heat that do not go into EV's.. clearly the two types have parts in common, but it's surely worth recognizing how many of the fundamentally different components (named over and over in these discussions) make the EV vulnerable on many fewer fronts than the ICE vehicle.

I think the answers to these sort of questions depends very much on each persons circumstances and their needs/wants.

I pay to get my car serviced. If I look at the service bill, most of the parts cost of a typical service is oil filter, engine oil (plus environmental levy) and air filter. Belts might need replacing on more major services and platinum tipped plugs are good for 100,000Km. So none of those are required on an EV. Exhaust, transmission dont apply and break pads should last longer. Then I have to offset that against the life of the EV battery which is dependent on my driving habits.
Then there is my expected life of my car. Do I keep the car for 5 years, 10 years, 15 or 20 ? Do I trade-up regularly or keep it going as long as possible ? If I trade-up regularly (5 yr or 80,000Km) then the battery may not be of concern to me. Do I buy a new car to take advantage of the safety features: ABS, ESC, air bags, SIP (my 16 yr old car has none of those). Do I buy new or used (re-sale value) or do I lease ? Do I own the battery or lease it ?

I think the answers will vary depending on what assumptions are used when making comparisons.
(personally I hope my next car is an EV, but that might still be several years away for me)

You're avoiding my point because we disagree about the electric automobile. Forget it's about cars:

You have machine, and you wish to replace a component/system on it with a different, mechanically simpler one. The part you are replacing is already quite reliable regardless of its complexity thanks to 100 years of design and development. The best you can do is exceed the reliability of the part you are replacing - which is already quite good - will you really be able to do better overall? Will the end product be much more appealing to customers based on that?

I'm looking at the two designs as machines in relative terms, not the absolute price people pay for service. And there actually large differences in vehicles from different manufacturers. Heck, a lot of people buy VW products, which I would never consider given the almost gratuitous disregard for serviceability and the outrageous costs.

And manual transmissions are not an issue of busy lives or mechanical skill.

The part you are replacing is already quite reliable regardless of its complexity thanks to 100 years of design and development.

No, it's not just the engine that's affected. Brakes, and all of the supporting peripheral equipment: transmission, cooling, fuel handling, exhaust, etc, etc. Cars require maintenance, most people don't do their own maintenance, and EVs will reduce those costs.

The question is, how much? You're arguing that the difference is small, but let's look at some actual cost data.

So....seen any data sources??

I'm arguing that the difference won't be a significant reason for people to buy EV's, because cars are already reliable enough and people buy for emotional reasons rather than logic. The numbers won't matter.

Ah. So you agree that EVs are perfectly affordable compared to people's current choices - they just need to choose better?

I'm not sure how you put those words in my comment! A thing is affordable if you have the money to buy it. It need not be useful in any way to be affordable - artwork and jewelry are examples.

If it is a useful object then whether it remains so depends on many factors, such as (in this case) one's ability to maintain it and the ability of the state to maintain the road system so one can use it, and ability to afford and obtain the energy.

Whether something is affordable is not the same as whether it makes sense.

My point is still the same - you expect people to make a logical car buying decision, and the (unproven) lower net maintenance cost of an EV to be a significant factor in that decision. I disagree. It doesn't explain the huge Dodge pickup tuck I passed today with an air dam, a hood scoop and a giant wing on the back - all factory stock - or the dozens of other absurd vehicles I passed too.

Actually, I'm not sure what your point is at all.

My point: EVs (and EREV/PHEVs, which don't have range problems) cost less than those pickups you're criticizing - if people aren't buying them, then it's for emotional reasons, just as you say.

you expect people to make a logical car buying decision

Well, I'm not sure how you put those words in my comment. Economics does *contribute* to the car buying decision, so it would be nice to address that part of the decision.

factors, such as (in this case) one's ability to maintain it and the ability of the state to maintain the road system so one can use it, and ability to afford and obtain the energy.

We have plenty of energy - the main problem is CO2 emissions, which electric systems can nicely eliminate.

Your original comment that I replied to was

Let me frame it this way: One of the major justifications for electric vehicles is their reduced maintenance.

I don't agree that this will be a significant "justification" for people to buy an EV.

The hybrids are at least as mechanically complex as traditional ICE vehicles, in some cases more so, so it certainly won't be a factor there. The Prius has two complete drive trains and energy storage systems, and whatever brake pad wear reduction is provided by it's regenerative braking system will be lost due to the higher mass.

As for "having" plenty of energy, I certainly don't agree there.

Talk to taxi drivers - they're converting to hybrids ASAP, and they rave about the reduction in brake expense.

Sure, we have PO-lite, but talk to utilities - they're terrified of falling demand for power.

"... and whatever brake pad wear reduction is provided by it's regenerative braking system will be lost due to the higher mass. "

I have a Prius with nearly 190,000 miles with the original brake pads.

I also have a 1988 Honda CRX Si which I bought with high miles from a guy who kept it well maintained before I got it and I carried on - to a point. It is still capable of running but it burns as much oil as gas and basically needs all of the suspension bushings replaced, the interior is shot, the paint is shot, the throwout bearing in the transmission is making noise...basically the whole car is worn slap out... 300,000 miles. The only actual problem during that time was the bolt on the distributor rotator got a little loose and snapped leaving me stranded once. So a car given basic care will go a long way.

Me: "When was the timing belt/water pump replaced?" Friend: "What's a timing belt?"

On the flip side...are numerous 90,000 - 150,000 mile cars that have snapped a timing belt because the owners didn't even know they existed. Including my friend's Prelude that I replaced the valves in at 180,000 miles after it got so worn out that it skipped timing and wiped out every single valve and dented the pistons with them. My sister's car had the water pump seize - which on the civic she was driving is driven by the...timing belt. It was a lucky save on that one - managed to shut it off on time to keep from doing damage but it was damned close to snapping it.

I remember on this one car show the people decided to go to a parking lot and offered to top off everyone's oil if they allowed them to check it. There were SO MANY people that the oil was at the bottom of the dip stick and/or black as sin. People don't even bother to check their oil!

Good info.

It's amazing how people don't maintain their stuff, including cars.

There's a reason commercial vehicles last 30 years.

People buy cars mostly because of what they think it will do for their image and their social fitness (i.e. because they think it will help them get laid).

VW Eurovan camper.

2 built in beds, highly unstylish. I guess it works.


People buy cars mostly because of what they think it will do for their image and their social fitness (i.e. because they think it will help them get laid).

Sorry, I don't buy that for a minute. Sure, it's true of some people, but most people just want a convenient, reliable way to get from Point A to Point B.

I could have happily driven my old car forever, but at age 16 it started randomly stranding me places. It was very inconvenient, not to mention unsafe.

IME, this is the reason the average person gets a new car. Even taking the car in for minor repairs is a big PITA, and once you start having to do that, people start looking around for a new one. If they can afford it.

Of course I made a vast generalization, and that cannot be true for all people. Nevertheless I think the vehicle choices people make indicate it is pretty close to the the make.

And I completely disagree.

I think if what you said was true, there would be more variety in car models. Like in the '50s, where you could tell what year a car was made just by looking at it. Today...nobody says, "Look, a 2003 Camry." Because it looks just like a 2002 or 2004 Camry.

Why the change? Probably a lot of reasons, but I suspect Peak Oil USA had a lot to do with it. When Detroit got their butts kicked, and it dawned on them that people wanted cars, not chrome penises.

I see chrome penises all over the place - the new Ford and Dodge pick ups, the Camaros, Mustangs, etc. Have you seen the grills on the big Ford trucks?

Most of these are very poor choices for transportation purposes, and expensive ones at that. There are different categories of vehicles that appeal emotionally to different groups, but all of it is based on emotional appeal, not the logic of transportation needs. Some appeal to those who want a big vehicle to feel safe, some want a big vehicle to feel strong and powerful, some want to show off wealth with a fast expensive sports car, etc.

Look at how SUVs replaced mini-vans in the US - a small minivan with maybe a 3L V6 is actually a really useful and fairly efficient family car, but these have been largely supplanted by giant SUVs.

To paraphrase Dr. Freud: Sometimes a truck is just a truck ;-)

And you do need a truck sometimes. Been thinking about this because of a recent experience Freecycling some larger items. They would not fit in a car, or even a compact SUV. (I told people this, and they still showed up with cars too small, and expecting their 8 year old daughter to carry out something a grown man would have trouble with, but that's another story.)

I suppose in the old days, a lot of families would have station wagons that could accommodate larger items. Or they'd have friends or family they could borrow a truck from. Now, the typical pattern is to have one car, one truck or SUV or minivan. Many of us live far from our families, and it's not as easy to borrow a truck as it used to be.

I need a truck regularly - firewood, loads of hay, etc. Then there are those certain loads you unhesitatingly throw into the back of your beat-up old pickup that you wouldn't really want in a minivan - I'm thinking of bringing deliveries of horse manure to my gardening friends :-)

For whatever reason, I don't like to lend out my truck per se - if someone asks, they will get my truck complete with driver (me).

If you use it as a truck regularly then you should have a truck. But I rarely need one and when I do, it is generally for hauling something from Home Depot. And I can now just use the rental truck that is sitting there at Home Depot.

Between car sharing, Home Depot rentals, and regular car rentals . . . I don't see the need for most people to get a big truck. I think a very large percent of truck purchases could be eliminated. Sometimes they are needed. But I think most truck purchases are a waste.


Unfortunately, Zipcar and other car-sharing companies are only available in big cities. Where you probably don't need to borrow a truck very often. They're much better about making deliveries in cities.

Yes, right now they're mostly in big cities and college towns.

But, they're growing fast, as is the industry....

I see chrome penises all over the place - the new Ford and Dodge pick ups, the Camaros, Mustangs, etc. Have you seen the grills on the big Ford trucks?

Sure, they exist, but most cars in the U.S. are bought by women, and women tend to choose smaller, more practical cars.

Look at how SUVs replaced mini-vans in the US - a small minivan with maybe a 3L V6 is actually a really useful and fairly efficient family car, but these have been largely supplanted by giant SUVs.

I don't see that at all. From what I see in the local parking lots, we are long past peak giant SUV. What's selling now are crossovers.

I think you just admitted the point Leanan. Women don't need cars to get laid. For men, it's a bit differnt. I know that my success rate increased markedly going from a Ford Escort to an Acura TL. That said, the vagueries of male vs. female mating stragies are not the proper concern of TOD (though they probably are tangentially engaged so far as the discussion is about cars), but let us not pretend that the strategies of the sexes are the same. They're not.

And the social fitness thing, I'm sure that's applicable to a certain extent. Who's going to hire a professional who works at a shiny downtown office building (which isn't Manhattan, but a lot of other places), who drives a beat up piece of "junk"? I've worked with those people, and image is very, very important. Thus the BMW's, Mercedes, Lexus, etc. cars. Heck, that is definitely one of the reasons I have a TL myself. I'm not in that business anymore, but it is definitely part of the game in that circuit.

Granted, that's not everything, but for guys in the oil patch in my province, the bigger the truck, the more chrome, the more bells and whistles, well, the better off they seem to be to peers. Sure, they're drowning in debt, but the point is to seem more succesful (whatever that is) than the next guy.

Women don't quite do it the same way, but let us not pretend that women don't do something similar with material things in general, even if it isn't to get laid.

I wasn't arguing that some people buy cars as status symbols. I was saying that it's incorrect to say that's the motivation for most people.

And, to agree with you further, buying a car as a status symbol is not the same thing as buying a car as a compensation for feelings of sexual inadequacy.


My field guys require a truck to get them to hire on. Not only is it a status symbol, but a FREE one, for them. They do need a truck, but not as nice a one as we get them.

I have a truck - it's a '94 F250 with an 8800lb GVWR and dual tanks. It's only gets driven when it is needed - it will haul over 40 bales of hay properly loaded. It is a work truck, not some massively chromed truck made to look bigger than it is to satisfy my ego.

No, not everyone is trying to get laid - other groups have other emotional reasons for their choices, such as safety and security. I see lots of women driving very big SUVs around here.

Cars have not been marketed as transportation since the 1923 Jordan Playboy "Somewhere west of Laramie" add, because even by then cars could be expected to provide basic transpiration. The expectations of performance/comfort/reliability now are higher, but still that is the minimum one would expect. People who can afford to buy on emotion.

The relevance of this is that many here expect that the masses will make rational, logical choices based on the issues we discuss here - we are a group that is biased towards such thinking compared to the general population. I don't believe that at all, and think it is a product of neglecting to account for the emotional nature of most people's behavior.

So, from that point of view, people can well afford to buy EVs and EREV/PHEVs, they just need to be sold on the idea...

Few can afford it at all, they are taking out loans or renting them. Within their ability to access debt they will buy the most appealing thing they can get, with no thought to what it costs them in the future. Perhaps you can make an EV appealing, but given the way they are discounting them, even with government subsidies, it looks like a tough sell. It was in 1909 too.

Perhaps you can make an EV appealing

It would help to not have Fox news bashing them every night...

SUVs had a lot to do with the CAFE truck exemption - SUVs could have more acceleration because their MPG standard was lower. That did in station wagons and vans. Now, of course, "crossovers" are just station wagons on stilts.

Yes, owner time, inconvenience and safety are significant costs that aren't counted into personal vehicle maintenance costs.

But, commercial vehicles are kept much longer (often 30 years), even though they *do* count those costs. That's because their beancounters know that:

1) Depreciation is more expensive than maintenance, and

2) Scheduled preventive maintenance works. This includes scheduled thorough inspections, and replacement of certain parts with predictable lifetimes before they fail.

My strategy is to keep cars until they get hit by a tree (really happened!)or have an unusual large repair (transmission, structrual problem, etc) usually around 20-25 years of age. Then I buy something about 7 years old.

In the UK the standard expense you are allowed to claim for using a personal vehicle on company business is 40p/mile. This includes a component of deprication.(the rate drops to 25p/mile for any mileage over 10,000 per year). (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/travel.htm). On my old (small) car I kept a fairly detailed log and it regularly worked out as costing me 25p/mile, all costs included (insurance, maintenance, fuel, taxes)over several years. These are UK prices, so for an average car that has passed that initial 'new car' depreciation (typically a car will lose about half its value in the first 3 years) you have running costs of 25p/mile upwards.

My last car (petrol engine, 1.1 litre) lasted 180,000 miles before it died. The current car (1.6 litre) is still running at 185,000 miles after 10 years...

"I don't think it's enough to say, 'everything will fall apart someday', and suggest that this hushes the question between used ICE cars and EV's, though."

Completely agree. See below.

"...people are trying to figure out what to do NOW..." [re ICE versus EV]

Yes they are, 'cept that we keep barking up the BAU tree, with all its bad-habit branches, in the knowledge (hope?) that the black swan will soon build a lovely fat nest in that tree and lay another golden egg so that each person on a planet of 7+ billion may have access to private transport (amongst other things). Bad habits, built over many years and generations, are the first obstacle. Sure, they can be broken, sometimes as a consequence of performing another task (my wife and I noticed our daughter's fingernails pretty up after she had braces fitted - she'd stopped biting them). But in the main, something extraordinary usually has to occur to bring wrongful thinking around. Religion anyone?

ICE versus EV? Really, what does it matter; they both encourage ongoing wasteful practises.

Cheers, Matt

How is an EV, made from recycled materials and driving on low-CO2 concrete*, wasteful?

*99% of vehicles are recycled now, and low-CO2 concrete exists now, even if it's not yet in widespread use.

Because you are still using a huge amount of energy to move a vehicle that is unnecessarily and extravagantly heavy, and taking up about 150 square feet of space when you could be taking up a small fraction of that.

Yep, one driver in a vehicle that carries five (and all that)...

No, not really.

An EV uses about 300 watt-hours per mile. That's very little. It's less than the energy used to power a bicycle, when you account for all of the energy used to produce food. More importantly, it's electricity that fits nicely with renewable, zero (eventually) CO2 wind and solar power. Heck, $2,000 of wind power investment powers an EV for life.

As for the space - really? You want to drive 100 kph in a velomobile, with no space in front or behind?

I agree that parking is annoying, but how is it unsustainable? I agree that it would be nice to reduce urban sprawl, but sprawl is not driven by transportation mode, it's driven by the cost of dense urban living.

What matters is that we have to get around still. There are growing options, more cycling, I believe transit will be making a major comeback.. but part of the solution will be small, independent vehicles.

How can you guys convince us that we're going to reinvent some kind of system that doesn't use vehicles that are about the size and utility of cars and light trucks? They are surely part of a wasteful system that has overgrown itself and has a great many destructive aspects.. but I still maintain that it is a fallacy to paint the 'car' as the problem. The problem is scale and application, the problem is access to enough cheap energy that we have been ABLE to use it the way we have.

Sugar is not the cause of diabetes. The WAY we eat it, the quality, the amount in proportion to other foods, our relationship to it has become toxic. The same holds true for cars.. the same can be said about Sex. We are applying them in unhealthy ways, but they are not essentially destructive when used in the right way and proportion.

Meantime, you've got to keep going, just to be able to plan and create the next reality.. so today what is available to you is roads and something fairly similar to BAU, and you and we have to use it even to get out of it.

Yes, again Jokuhl, I agree with you.

I simply don't see "EVs", with all their inherit similarities to ICEs in ground-to-grave costs, required infrastructure, etc as the way forward. It's BAU, plain and simple, with underlying compounding growth to boot. I'm all in favor of every human on the planet having immediate access to a solar-powered golf cart or such, but no way we'll ever get there. Do we need 5,000 jet airplanes in the skies at any one time or all that disposable junk powering from country to country on massive ships? Yes, apparently we do.

Sure we have to get around, but to what end? I'm not suggesting a re-invention, as such, just a hell of a lot less of what we have. Oh, and a bit of general education on planetary limits as well... Too much to ask?

Cheers, Matt

Given human proclivities and desires, I'd say yes too much to ask. But I have been called a pessimist before (quite rightly too I think), so take my reply with a grain of salt. Maybe humans can surprise me, but I doubt it.

The problem is scale and application, the problem is access to enough cheap energy that we have been ABLE to use it the way we have.

EXACTLY! A given example of an automobile is not the problem, nor is an EV a solution. They are just individual pieces of a transportation system - it is all about scale.

There is not doubt that we can't keep using the ICE automobile transportation system we have. The issue is whether we can extend the automobile system by replacing the ICE cars with EVs. Obviously I don't believe we can or should - I don't think the concept works at scale, and I don't think we can continue subsidizing the road system to make it work.

Now in reality I don't believe it matters one bit what any of us here think anyway - the only thing the masses can envision is the automobile, and there are way too many powerful vested interests wrapped up in the existing system. So we will keep at this automobile transportation system until it fails - and I don't see the EV being all that significant.

Cars can last forever, with proper maintenance. Jay Leno has a 1909 Detroit Electric model that's still working just fine - it's even still using the original battery.

In 200 years people will be puzzled that we ever used FF, and it won't be missed. Wind, solar, nuclear, etc will work just fine (assuming climate change doesn't get us, of course).

Couldn't find any reference to a "1909 Detroit Electric model" in Jays garage.

I did find a 1909 Baker, but (in spite of what the text says)it is running on modern golf cart batteries. The original Edison battery is sitting on display beside the car.


How do you know it's running on modern batteries? As you say, the text says " Jay still uses his 1909 Baker’s original Edison batteries. He just washes them out occasionally and refills them, and they work fine."

00:43, Jay and his mechanic show off the golf cart batteries in the vehicle. And (4:11) points out the new charger for them.

He does say he has a set of functioning Edison batteries, but not in this vehicle.

Good evidence of the previous failure of the EV. But this time it will be different....

Good evidence of the previous failure of the EV

Well, the battery did power the vehicle for about 100 years. That's not bad.

EVs didn't fail, they just couldn't compete with *apparently* dirt cheap petroleum.

The battery never "powered" the vehicle at all - it is merely a storage media.

You assume that without petroleum the automotive transportation system would have been viable.

Sure. Why not?

I do not see the automotive transportation as viable without the inexpensive, concentrated, easily portable energy of gasoline or diesel. And that is going forward - it could never have been built to this scale without it.

Nick, I've read enough of your comments over the years to know we are unlikely to come to an agreement. I'm no fan of the automobile, ICE or EV, but it is not up to me to decide. The conversation has become a little tedious for me to maintain, so probably even more so for others to read.

Coal built the industrial revolution. Oil didn't arrive until after WWI - it was convenient and accelerated things a bit, but it was very far from essential.

Oil is now obsolete - the sooner we kick the habit the better.

Oil built the roads. To be clear, I am not a advocate of continued use of oil. Oil is obsolete, and with it the automobile.

No, oil built some roads, but it's not essential. Roads existed before 1915, they'll exist after the age of oil.

Electric trucks and other building equipment work very nicely. So does rail.

Again, there is this puzzling assumption that oil can't be replaced, that it is somehow magically necessary for industrial/modern civilization. Oil has been cheap and convenient for the last 100 years, but the industrial revolution started without it, and modern civilization certainly will continue without it. The idea that oil is necessary is an argument against solutions to Climate Change, and an argument for "drill, baby, drill".

• 130 years ago, kerosene was needed for illumination, and then electric lighting made it obsolete. The whole oil industry was in trouble for a little while, until someone (Benz) came up the infernal combustion engine-powered horseless carriage. EVs were still better than these noisy, dirty contraptions, which were difficult and dangerous to start. Sadly, someone came up with the first step towards electrifying the ICE vehicle, the electric starter, and that managed to temporarily kill the EV.

Now, of course, oil has become more expensive than it's worth, what with it's various kinds of pollution, and it's enormous security and supply problems.

• 40 years ago oil was 20% of US electrical generation, and now it's less than .8%.

• 40 years ago many homes in the US were heated with heating oil - the number has fallen by 75% since then.

• US cars increased their MPG by 60% from about 1976 to about 1991.

• 50% of oil consumption is for personal transportation - this could be reduced by 60% by moving from the average US vehicle to something Prius-like. It could be reduced by 90% by going to something Volt-like. It could be reduced 100% by going to something Leaf-like. These are all cost effective, scalable, and here right now.

I personally prefer bikes and electric trains. But, hybrids, EREVs and EVs are cost effective, quickly scalable, and usable by almost everyone.

No, oil built some roads, but it's not essential. Roads existed before 1915, they'll exist after the age of oil.

Huh? Some roads? For all practical purposes, oil built all the roads that support our modern age. What existed before 1916 were basically wagon roads.

U.S. Route 66

In 1857, Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a Naval officer in the service of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, was ordered by the War Department to build a government-funded wagon road along the 35th Parallel. His secondary orders were to test the feasibility of the use of camels as pack animals in the southwestern desert. This road became part of U.S. Route 66.
While legislation for public highways first appeared in 1916, with revisions in 1921, it was not until Congress enacted an even more comprehensive version of the act in 1925 that the government executed its plan for national highway construction.
Since the 1950s, as Interstates were constructed, sections of Route 66 not only saw the traffic drain to those Interstates, but often the name itself was moved to the faster means of travel.

There's no way that what was designated as US66 could even begin to handle a tiny fraction of what's needed today, even with a massive buildout of electric rail and electric vehicles.

I would agree that most of the US road infrastructure was built in the last 75 years, And oil was definitely the dominant transportation fuel in that period.

Does that mean that oil is the only fuel that can power construction equipment? Of course not.

Nick, it's what you just did there that makes it not only frustrating but meaningless to try to discuss anything with you.

You said: "No, oil built some roads, but it's not essential. Roads existed before 1915, they'll exist after the age of oil."

I point out that oil built all of our modern roads, not some, not most but all.

You change your whole point to say "I would agree that most of the US road infrastructure was built in the last 75 years, And oil was definitely the dominant transportation fuel in that period." That's no longer "some" roads but "all".

First, there are a lot more energy inputs into road construction than the diesel that powers the construction equipment. So, just because oil was the dominant transportation fuel isn't quite the same as "oil built the roads".

Second, roads built since 1916 are not "all" of our roads, they're "some" of the roads. Why is the distinction important? Because it helps clarify that oil is not essential to road building.

Loosely speaking I agree with your point: the great majority of our roads were built in the age of oil, with "oil powered" equipment. But...

Why is that important? What argument are you trying to address? Go back earlier in the conversation: "Twilight" was arguing that without petroleum the automotive transportation system would not have been viable.

My point: We can certainly build and maintain roads without diesel. This argument that "oil built our roads" seems to be supporting that argument, and if it is, then I have to disagree.

Would you agree that oil is not essential?

If not, why not? Just because of an intuition that renewables or EVs can't scale up?

In order for wind, solar, nuclear etc to replace FF, that will have to be capable of self producing themselves. That isn't even remotely possible now except at an insignificant scale. If you want to know what a world powered by renewable energy looks like go back in time 400 years and further. Sailing ships, human labour in the mines, wood for heat and bio oil for light. Now we don't really have the trees to make sailing ships anymore, ore grades are far to low for human mining, most landfill sites have higher metal content then most new mines, and you can pick your metal. Wood for heating isn't renewable fast enough to maintain current populations and energy consumption, and if you want some renewable bio oil, best plant an olive grove.

I'm sorry, but that's just too simplistic, Smeagle.

We are not where we were 400 years ago, and the ways that they actually employed solar energy and wind was useful and brilliant, but wouldn't come close to even the simplest improvements we could quickly employ on a massive scale today, like Highly insulated homes and Solar Heating, Cooking and Refrigeration, to knock a huge dent in the energy inputs required from classic sources like Wood and Peat, etc..

We have a number of 24/7 power sources apart from all that which could run a range of industrial manufacturing needs into the foreseeable future as well. The way we have tapped Niagara Falls could Leave Upstate NY as a manufacturing center for centuries, with the Oceans, Lakes and Canals as ways to keep supporting the materials and products connecting to customers, etc.

To wrap it up with your 'at Current Populations'.. again, that isn't a requirement for us to continue along and be able to use the tools and knowledge we've gained so far. Populations can and probably must shrink.. that doesn't automatically make Ball Bearings, Photovoltaics and Stainless steel inviable.

Yes there are infinite possibilities, but very few probable scenarios. Ballbearings were in use 400 years ago, but PV and stainless steel require very reliable power at the end stages of manufacture, and plenty of raw power at earlier stages.

Manufacturing is the process of turning resources into capital and waste. Where are all these resources coming from? Where is the waste going? I know it's a waste of time trying to simplify things here, everyone just fixates on one minor detail and pretends that obliviates the underlying premise.

Highly insulated homes are not a new thing, highly insulative materials that are readily available, renewable, and practical are not so common as one would hope. Wool comes to mind as a possibility, but is far more practical as clothing. Warm clothes was the common solution to being cold, and wood was used for cooking. Solar cooking is great on sunny days, but it's not gonna give you a hot cuppa in the morning. Not sure about solar refrigeration, never heard of it outside a concept type phase. Which requires are fair amount of metal and inert gases, neither of which could be common in a world run on renewables.

PV and stainless steel require very reliable power at the end stages of manufacture, and plenty of raw power at earlier stages.

Wind and solar can do that. Nuclear can too.

Have you looked at Germany's plans? German engineers are very hard headed, and they plan to eventually eliminate FF.

You might want to watch California's CAISO website - it's fun to watch the reliability of the renewables.

Where are all these resources coming from?

You might need to be more specific. But, address the 100,000TW of solar energy, and recycling.

Where is the waste going?

The big waste problem is CO2, and, of course, if we eliminate FF we eliminate most of that problem. Might help to go vegetarian...

highly insulative materials that are readily available, renewable, and practical are not so common as one would hope.

Please be more specific.

Solar cooking is great on sunny days, but it's not gonna give you a hot cuppa in the morning.

Wind, solar and nuclear electricity will work nicely.

In order for wind, solar, nuclear etc to replace FF, that will have to be capable of self producing themselves. That isn't even remotely possible now except at an insignificant scale.

They can easily reproduce using their own power. It's not the cheapest way to go at the moment, but it's perfectly doable.

You are dreaming.

You might want to be more specific.

We really don't need FF, and oil in particular.

Wind and solar will do. Nuclear will get used as well, though at this point I think wind and solar are cheaper and faster (and safer) in OECD countries.

Electricity will be used for HVAC, and almost all passenger and freight transportation. Synthetic fuel (from seawater and renewable electricity) and biofuel would supply relative small niches: aviation, some long distance land and water transportation/shipping, seasonal agricultural work, petrochemical feedstock. Greater efficiency will be important (PassivHaus, etc).

All in all, this is likely to be about the same cost as our current system, and much cheaper when you add in external costs like pollution and supply security.High oil prices cause recession.

In the small consolation department, at least the floods in Calgary et. al. won't be going north to the oil sands and their tailing ponds. Manitoba Power might get a little more oomph from hydroelectricty. Or maybe not if they have to dump too much water without generation to lower conditions at The Pas. Final destination will be Hudson Bay.


How a World War Z-Like Pandemic Would Impact the Banking Industry

“If the pandemic is severe, the economic impact is likely to be significant, though predictions are subject to a high degree of uncertainty,” reads a report from the International Money Fund (IMF), pointing out that the impact depends on a host of factors, from the virulency of the infection to how well emergency services are able to respond.

What would be a pandemic’s economic impact? One report from Trust for America’s Health found that a pandemic flu has the potential to cause a devastating recession comparable to the recent Great Recession, with a U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss of over 5.5 percent ($765 billion, adjusted for inflation). The Center for Disease Control, on the other hand, estimated in 2005 that the loss would be a more modest $186 billion (adjusted for inflation)

With its close ties to the economy, the banking industry would be one of the most heavily affected areas — and also have the potential to cause the most disruption to American’s everyday routines and quality of life. Here are some potential problems that banks and the consumers who use their services should anticipate.

- Bank Workers Staying at Home ...
- Debit & Credit Cards Become Useless ...
- High Demand for Cash ...
- Spending Limited to Necessities...

A look at the Limits to Growth scenarios shows quite clearly the hole that we've dug for ourselves.

We are in the ultimate catch-22. Further growth will deplete the fuels and cook the planet, and result in a crash anyway. An end to growth, crashing now, means endless economic depression.

Not too smart, are we, despite all these roads and buildings and cars and planes and electricity and tv and internet.


Having just finished reading the book World War Z, if a similar pandemic were to occur (zombies or otherwise), where 2/3's of the U.S. population (to say nothing of the world's population) was killed within the first year (it was 3 months or so in the book, but I'll use 1 year here), I'm pretty sure that the hit to the economy would be a whole lot more than 5.5%.

Furthermore, again relying on the scenario described in the book, if there were indeed zombies (anyone not interested should stop reading now) that rose from the infected, and there were 200,000,000 of them from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains in the continental U.S. alone within one calendar year (to say nothing of the rest of the world), well, the hit to the economy would be unlike anything that has ever occurred. At least during the scourge of the Black Death, the dead stayed dead. In WWZ, the dead rose again and were driven to increase their numbers until all human life was converted to zombiedom.

But enough about that, we have a real world with its own litany of problems to deal with without resorting to the fantastical. Then again, there are parasites which effectively turn some creatures into zombies (no word of a lie, google zombie ants for more info. Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is the Wiki entry you're looking for) so perhaps it's only 99% as ridiuclous as it sounds rather than 100% ridiculous. Thankfully, we're people and not ants or WWZ would be rather more terrifying.

I'm thinking the IMF didn't use the first draft of World War Z to calculate their viral pandemic analysis, however your observation ...

...Thankfully, we're people and not ants or WWZ would be rather more terrifying.

reminded me of Agent Smith's observation

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

Not buying it. Every mammal, all life for that matter, constantly tries to push the limits nature imposes on it. In the end nature wins and equilibrium is forced upon whatever life there is, nothing instinctive about it. We removed the predator population from the Grand Canyon, what did the deer do, they found equilibrium, by overpopulating then dying of starvation. These big brains of ours have allowed us to push the limits quite far, but the limits still exist. Learning how to use stored sunlight allowed us to expand exponentially, but there were still limits, food production and life expectancy for example.

Life has a single purpose to make copies of itself, secondary is surviving long enough to make copies, everything else i.e. food, shelter, New York only exist to serve the primary function.

I used to think that Smith's analogy was quite insightful. Now I realize that he's engaging in the same anthropomorphic superiority complex that humans (ironic isn't it?) do with respect to the rest of life on earth.

Humans aren't a disease. They are, collectively, a force of nature without a mind or a consciousness. As a collective whole, the human species takes on attributes that cannot properly be given to a single person.

And the whole virus thing, well, every living thing behaves that way. Put a species into an environment with ample food and space, without competitive pressures or predators and watch the population explode. We're just better at it than other species due to our big brains. We can capture more resources and ensure no competition (except from other human social groups) impede our ever growing monopolizatoin of energy and material flows on Earth. This will last as long as it can and then it won't. It would be the same with any other creature on Earth we know of, not just viruses.

But enough entertainment philosophy for one day. Listen to this claptrap http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/06/26/business-renewable-ener... . It's like they know absolutely nothing about the facts or the issues.

So it goes...

"Then again, there are parasites which effectively turn some creatures into zombies."

FOX News? Or NPR for that matter? IMF? EIA? WSJ? There's a lot of Zombies preaching growth around these parts I've noticed- it seems quite contagious.

One might be able to make the argument that a Zombie plague of the BAU variety pretty much explains why we're looking to hand the future to the yeast and the cockroaches...


“If the pandemic is severe, the economic impact is likely to be significant ...” reads a report from the International Money Fund (IMF)...

So, what matters is not the millions of deaths and the hundreds of millions of sick people, but the economic impact of a pandemic.

And what is that impact, do they think? A drop of 5.5%. Five point five percent. Only eighteen dollars and fifty cents of income, instead of the twenty dollars you were expecting. Only nineteen-twentieths of what you wanted roughly speaking. And it does seem to be rough, all right. Nineteen twentieths? Is that all? Calamity! Disaster! Catastrophe! World-ending! (/sarc)

I think some people, especially the IMF, need to reverse their priorities.

A thought occurs. By saying that the impact of a global pandemic on incomes wouldn't be very great, is the IMF sending a coded message that a spot of biological warfare before tea-time would be perfectly acceptable?

Probably I am being too cynical and paranoid. Probably.

"Probably I am being too cynical and paranoid. Probably."

I don't think so. In this Brave New World, the only metric of anything is the bottom line. It's complete inhuman insanity, but there it is.

Only eighteen dollars and fifty cents of income, instead of the twenty dollars you were expecting.

Basically it becomes a calamity because of the way our economy is structured. They are living on the edge, the loss of a dollar ten means they can't pay the rent, the power company and buy essential medicine. And none of those guys will except anything but 100% full payment. So the guy is either, thrown out of his apartment, or he has his electricity cutoff, or he has a psychotic episode because he didn't take his meds.

Also note that conversely they are saying they don't need 2/3 of the US population for 94.5% of the US economy. If there was ever a more dam'ing condemnation of the current state of affairs, I've yet to see it.


Dangerous heatwave settles over U.S. Southwest- temps to hit 120 F in Arizona

Temperatures in the 100s across Phoenix will turn to 115+, with 120+ along the Colorado River Valley as a ridge of high pressure builds in the area. This ridge will be very large, bringing temperatures 15-20 degrees higher than normal for Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, New Mexico, and Utah. Other areas like Montana, and Wyoming may also be in the outer fridges of the heatwave ridge.

The Arctic Heatwave Hits Central Siberia Pushing Temperatures to 90 Degrees and Sparking Tundra Fires

Today, a heatwave circling the Arctic set its sights on central Siberia. Temperatures soared into the upper 80s to near 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) over a vast region of Siberian tundra, setting off pop-corn thunderstorms and sparking large, ominous fires reminiscent of the blazes that roared through this region during late June of 2012. Those fires were so large they sent a plume of smoke over the Pacific Ocean and blanketed valleys in western Canada.

Each individual fire in the above image hosts a plume of smoke about a hundred miles long. The fire to the far left, hosts a very long smoke plume of at least 350 miles in length.

Some numbers I saw (predicted) 129 Death Valley, 124 Needles.

Summer Danger: Extreme Nighttime Heat

Extreme heat is on the way for Arizona, California and Nevada, as a large, hot dome of high pressure builds over the region, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. In Death Valley, Calif., searing temperatures could even reach 130 degrees Saturday and Sunday.

Extreme Weather Tied To Unusual Jet Stream

for a visual animation of the current global jet stream ...

Weather Model - Global Jet Stream Wind and 250 mb Pressure

... cutoff lows spinning in multiple vortices in atlantic and pacific look alot like hurricane precursors.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat watch for most of Southern Nevada from Friday through Monday due to a strong ridge of high pressure settling over the state, Las Vegas Weather Forecast Meteorologist Reid Wolcott said. Highs are projected to be upwards of 115 degrees while lows could possibly stay above 90 degrees overnight, he said. And though this isn’t the first excessive heat warning issued this June, Wolcott said the weekend’s heat wave is unusual because of its projected length and lack of relief throughout the night.

We’re just sitting here looking at the long-range models, and it doesn’t appear to have any end in sight,” he said. “It’s out of the ordinary,.”

If you don’t have relief at night, it’s going to be a real tough go,” he said.

I can't imagine 130F. I think I would just pass out from heat stroke.

I've been in 105F or so and my brain just shuts down.

8 Images to Understand the Drought in the Southwest

As the map below on the left shows, huge areas of the Southwest, especially in California, Arizona, and New Mexico, have seen less than 1 inch of rain since mid-April. That’s unusual, even for the driest parts of the desert. From the map on the left, you can see that it's less than 10 percent of the rainfall that normally falls over southern Arizona during this period

Map Image

Short-term impacts are already apparent. According to the USDA, 75 percent of last winter’s wheat crop was rated in poor or very poor condition in Texas. In Arizona, 79 percent of the pastures and rangeland were in poor or very poor condition, which is bad news for the livestock that rely on that grass for grazing throughout the summer. In New Mexico, that number was 93 percent.

These places arê the next best thing to desserts anyway, so I don't see this having any real impact on food prices. I'm speaking out of ignorance but what does a pasture look like in Texas if it is in good condition?


A few years ago my wife and I headed across country in my restored cherry red vw van. On the way home driving through Las Vegas it was 117 (shade). The desert was so hot we found relief in driving with the windows shut as the air coming in was too hot. My wife said they used to have to do this in Australia. Obviously, bo air conditioning. I saw land for sale for $2.50 per acre. We had to put wet clothes on our heads.


I experienced 120F at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the middle of August...to get an idea of what it feels like, one may pick up a hair dryer and point it in one's face. A normal wind feels cool when it blows...at 120F your skin does not appear to produce enough sweat to keep up with evaporation and it just feels hot. I consumed over 1 gallon of water in the span of 6 hours and when we reached camp drank another half-gallon on the spot. We left on a different trail that had a stream which crossed it at intervals - I would take my pack off, roll in so that I was dripping wet, and then put my pack back on - within five minutes I'd be dry again.

110's livable in the shade, it all depends on the humidity. Conversely I'm far east enough that some water vapor from the gulf is expected to temper things a bit here. Still, I may be looking at the loss of a few chickens this weekend, we'll see. It's been a long time since I've seen it this hot here.


Been in 115-120 a few times. Always got my hair wet before venturing outside, that eliminates the shock when the sun+air hits your head. What I remember is that above some temp (probably humidity dependent) wind makes it worse -i.e. the heat advection is greater than any evaporative cooling.
Heck back then as a tough young-one I went mountain biking (at sunrise) on those days. But I started totally dripping wet, had a couple of gallons on me, and had predrunk enough for the body to start waterlogged.

Highest temp I've ever been in was one August in Redding, CA, when it reached 117F. I was surprised that it felt so much warmer than 105F; I'd thought that once you were above 100F it was all pretty much HOT. Asphalt was melting, the sheer oppressiveness of it...

107 here today in SW Okla...heat index somewhat higher. And of all days, the wind was almost non-existant. Instant sweat....animals suffering.

Might be intresting to find out how much energy Vegas uses per capita just for cooling or at 115 should I say refrigeration.

pg 10 energy consumption per capita (Millions of BTU) Nevada 2011–2012 Status of Energy Report



NV Energy seeks 24 percent general rate increase

... Witkoski noted that NV Energy is seeking to raise its “return on equity” from 10.5 percent, set in 2008 during its last general rate case, to 11.25 percent. The commission approved a return on equity for the Northern Nevada sister utility of 10 percent this year.

Customer complaints increase during summer months, when power bills spike because of the heat.

The most difficult things for customers is when it gets to be 110 degrees plus,” Yackira said. He noted the company offered payment plans to level bills for Southern Nevada customers year round.

The long range forecast says Todd and I are gonna get some seriously weird weather on Tues... 99 degrees with rain. Bizarre to see that in print, even if they are wrong.

Western Canada is looking forward to 'broiling' temperatures by July 3

Heat Wave May Threaten World’s Hottest Temp. Record

Heat Anomaly Map

The latest HPC 7day precipitation forecast looks weird. They have a big wet spot (2-3 inches) in NE New Mexico. It is about time for the monsoon to start, but that doesn't look like the monsoon footprint to me.

California may get a real test of the grid this weekend and next week with an all-time record-breaking heat wave forecast, considering that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is offline. Today's independent systems operator shows supply at around 50,000MW, with predicted use at 42,000MW or so, even before the heat wave kicks in for real.


I'm not at all convinced this will be record breaking, when averaged over the whole state. I use the high forecast for Stockton to estimate my highs. They have 103,104,106,106. In 2006, it was something like 109,115,115,108. I already had 108 earlier this month. So at the lattitude of the bay area, it just looks like a run of the mill longish heatwave. Now inland southern Cal, thats another story.

The forecast is only for 100 F high and 58 F low on Saturday here in Arizona. It has been 110 F and 112 F here before. This is normally what happens just before the monsoon starts.

102 F (39 C) for the high temperature today in my part of Arizona.

36% humidity

86 F in the house

Libya: 3.4 people/km2
water area: 0 km2

Military Report: America Has 'Misguided' Fixation With Domestic Drilling

The report, released quietly this month, says climate change is a bigger national security threat than the country's dependence on foreign oil.

WASHINGTON—A new report from the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses and the London-based Royal United Services Institute, two of the NATO alliance's front-line strategy centers, recommends putting more effort into fighting global warming than securing reliable supplies of fossil fuels.

The authors call the habitual American fixation on winning energy independence through expanded North American production of oil and natural gas "misguided." They say the "only sustainable solution" to the problem of energy insecurity is not through more drilling, but through energy efficiency and renewable fuels, like biofuels to replace oil.

Despite the steady supplies provided by the current U.S. drilling boom, "the increased domestic production of oil and natural gas is not a panacea for the country's energy security dilemma," they say.

The fixation on "renewable fuels" is just as bad.

I don't think they are looking to biofuels to 'replace' oil. It is just a far-out long term research project into having alternative and future fuel sources to power the military. Access to oil fields can be cut-off by wars and ultimately, oil will start to decline. So they need to start working on alternative/future sources now. They will be largely dependent on oil now and for a long time in the future. But as the boy scouts say . . . be prepared.

Remember when jatropha was going to rock the biofuels world? It looks like efforts to domesticate it haven't been successful. Nature bats last again.....

None of these biofuels can ever replace oil as we use it today. There simply is not enough land mass to grow enough enough. And that is ignoring the high cost.

But you can't build electric jet fighters . . . the physics just doesn't work. So although we civvies may all be forced to switch to electric cars eventually, the military will still need some liquid fuels no matter want.

Well a lot of people are experimenting with taking CO2 plus water plus energy, and creating hydrocarbons for fuel. So far only on a lab scale. But if we get it working, and build enough wind/solar, we could manufacture enough artificial fuel for specialty uses.

Nobody in right mind should even think about a jet fighter these days. With what we know, we could just make little smart bullets which would sweep the sky clean of them in no time.

Or, if we were half as smart as that bullet, we would take that money and bribe the opposition into going to the beach instead of the barricades, or whatever.

My brother got fired from the CIA for his move in a war game -- loading B-52's with sears catalogs and cash and dropping them on the Ho trail to cause massive mind changes among the pajama clad foe.

My brother got fired from the CIA for his move in a war game -- loading B-52's with sears catalogs and cash and dropping them on the Ho trail to cause massive mind changes among the pajama clad foe.

Now that is thinking outside the box. I'm sure they had no way of even modeling that in their war game.

But that is what ultimately wins out. We didn't beat the USSR with nuclear weapons or tanks rolling in from Europe. We beat them with Coca-Cola, Levis, McDonalds, cars, computers, televisions, rock & roll, movies, etc.

And we will ultimately bring down Iran with internet, satellite TV, porn, make-up, video games, etc. People want the good life and they'll ditch their own leaders if they can't provide the path to prosperity.

And we will ultimately bring down Iran with internet, satellite TV, porn, make-up, video games, etc.

But Iran had all those things under the US installed Shah. Iranians didn't want it and that is why they had an Islamic revolution.

Not his fault. It's a cultural blind spot, people in US and west in general don't understand how political Islam works.

Iran is a unique case. What brought down the Shah was a combination of political Islam and other factions, but in the aftermath the political Islam faction was the most organized and quickly seized power (much like in Egypt). Just as in Egypt, part of the problem was the hollowing out of the civil opposition while the Islamic groups, though illegal, were more resilient and harder to scatter or bribe.

But Iran is also a very peculiar case in that the Islamic revolutionaries WERE commited to a much more moderate and democratic form of government than is recognized in the US. For a long time, the voting age was 16. Elections happen regularly, and despite the veto the religious leaders have over who runs, reformers and moderates win regularly. Coca-cola is sold in Iran, as is makeup. Headscarves are enforced, but not burquas, and women still work and hold a very modern place in society. Some freedoms were lost, real freedoms, but in a very real way other freedoms were gained by the Islamic majority in Iran - the right to vote, political representation, etc. Can't say as much for the Baha'i, sadly... The Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews have limited rights but are recognized as legal religions.

Saudi Arabia is a much more extreme country than Iran, yet Iran is somehow seen as a perpetual enemy of the US... If you ask me, it's all pretty backwards. It's an old grudge that makes no sense, much like the Cuba embargo. Saudi Arabia has much more to account for in the spread of extreme and violent Islam than Iran, even counting Hezbollah and Syria.

It also has to do with what the Russians used to call "the correlation of forces". Which largely refers to the friend/enemy networks set up among competing (and cooperating) states. We have one network/axis that is US, Israel, and the Gulf Sunni countries. Another is Russia, Iran, Syria. We can't break out of these thinking patterns, because we refuse to abandon that game.

I was merely remarking upon the comment that you can change their minds with Coca Cola and Money, not so, political Islam is stronger than any of the addictions that the Industrialized world can conjure.

The Shah was a corrupt dictator that was put into power after a western-supported coup. He held power for some 40 years. I don't care who you put in office, I don't want them there for 40 years! That was the bigger problem. And since political dissent was not tolerated there were almost no political opposition to take over. Instead, people went with the clerics. Who can you trust if you can't trust the clerics? Such a massive mistake as many altar boys will tell you.

Political Islam is strong but it is weakening. Iran is a lot like the USA in that the urban areas are liberal and the rural areas have more conservative religious people. But like the USA, the draw of hardcore religion has been weakening over time.

It is going to take a lot of time though. Islam is a bit authoritarian. The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.

Political Islam is strong but it is weakening

That's a brave prophecy esp for a religion that has survived 1400 years supplanting local cultures and religion wherever it went at a time when guns, TV and Satellite didn't exist. My money is on Political Islam outliving market capitalism.

The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice

Your idea of justice is very western and I must say relatively young (200 years ago people had a different idea of justice), other people have their own idea of justice. That's exactly the kind of blind spot I am talking about.

OK, massmedia in combination with economic problems caused by overpopulation and depleting resource base will cause real problems for islamic countries. Mass media, that can not be controlled, are a thread to the unstable society, not an asset.

In the centuries between 600-1700 islamic societies were (compared to their opponents) often peers in military affairs, economy and science. These advatages do not longer exist.

Not all those things. The Internet was unavailable to the average consumer even in the '70s, and satellite TV was in its early days. (In Hawaii, TV programming was typically two weeks behind the mainland. Because they had to wait for the reels to be delivered.)

But yes, the idea that capitalism conquers all because people are naturally materialistic uber alles doesn't match reality. Look at Iraq now. They are rejecting many of freedoms and consumer goods that were available under Saddam.

Uh, no. All but a small minority of Iranians were fine with Western entertainment and technology during the Shah. It was the Shah's counterdemocratic coup followed by political imprisonment, torture, and summary execution of political enemies they objected to.

We Westerners tend to focus on the evil Iran's revolutionaries did during and after the revolution, while ignoring the evil we did to inspire it.

And maybe you shouldn't forget(or simply know about) the CIA/MI5 organized coup d'état to remove Mossadegh in 1953 and put the Shah regime instead ...

The really awful thing, is we had already rejected intervening. The Brits requested intervention during the waning days of the Truman administration: The Iranians have nationalized OUR oil company and we are gonna lose so much money. Truman said intervening would be immoral and refused. Then Ike got in with a whole new team. This time thay said Mosedeh was gonna turn the place commie. So we agreed to help with the coup. Just use the magic scare word "commie", and you can get anything you want.

Just use the magic scare word "commie", and you can get anything you want.

Well, that was the magic scare word in 1953. Today it's "terrist". Tomato, tomahtoe.

Interesting to speculate on what tomorrow's word will be.......

We didn't beat the USSR with nuclear weapons or tanks rolling in from Europe. We beat them with Coca-Cola, Levis, McDonalds, cars, computers, televisions, rock & roll, movies, etc.

Actually, I think it was ethnic tensions that brought down the USSR.

Deffeyes might also be right: flooding the market with cheap oil might have had a role.

It was certainly a combination of many things. But the main thing was money. Their economic system was very weak . . . and the cheap oil was a final blow that knocked it over. When I point to Coca-Cola, Levis, McDonalds, cars, computers, televisions, rock & roll, movies, etc., I point to them consumer goods that money can buy.

"Russian Ambassador: There were those of us who fought against this. But in the end, we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time, our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines."

-Dr. Strangelove

We had some Russians over for a technical course in the late 80's. They went into the local Tesco (supermarket) to do some shopping and ended up staring at the selection of pet food. Totally blew their mind set.


I worked at a grocery store for years during my university days. The pet food isle did then and still does now, blow my mind. Seriously. It's insane.

I think that the European peace movement had a lot to do with it.

The USSR was held together in large part by fear of the west - the peace movement removed the legitimacy and reason for existence conferred by an external threat. Russia relaxed it's grip on it's major state industries and it's satellites, and the rest is history...

We've also heard a few times about the extra burdens of Afghanistan and Chernobyl as additional weights and demoralizers tied to the carcass..

Can you show me in the Energy Export Databrowser when this infamous flooding with oil took place? All I see is actually decrease in oil production, not increase.

My brother got fired from the CIA for his move in a war game -- loading B-52's with sears catalogs and cash and dropping them on the Ho trail to cause massive mind changes among the pajama clad foe.

Ironic, because I'd always heard that was the very purpose of the CIA: to create and protect global markets for U.S. corporations.

My brother got fired from the CIA for his move in a war game -- loading B-52's with sears catalogs and cash and dropping them on the Ho trail to cause massive mind changes among the pajama clad foe.

Then this essay should be rather interesting to you. More than 50 years old, but still relevant.


Dont forget the rail gun. It may change the face of war as we know it.

Egypt blames rumors for acute fuel shortage

Egypt is so screwed. They need to cut those subsidies but there will be riots when they do. I've been stalling and buying time by begging for free/cheap oil from other Arab states who are oil exporters but that strategy won't last. They have to eliminate the subsidies and let the chips fall where they may. Perhaps they can phase them out over time to lessen the blow but they have to ultimately end.

It is not going to be pretty.

It can always get worse:

Will Ethiopia's 'grand' new dam steal Nile waters from Egypt?

Egypt is newly worried about a huge Ethiopian dam now under construction on the Nile’s main tributary – a concern that reflects arid Egypt’s overwhelming reliance on the world's longest river...

....But Ethiopia – the source of almost 86 percent of the water flowing to Egypt – is equally adamant that it has been denied a fair share of the river by agreements between Sudan and Egypt in the 1950s that divided the river between them.

Ethiopia two years ago started building what will be Africa's largest dam on the Blue Nile. It is a clear indication, despite anger from Egypt, that upstream Nile countries will no longer simply accept what they feel are inequitable water-sharing deals.

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Not much to see here,, yet.

On the other hand, I've been reading about the "acute fuel shortage" in Egypt for years now.
It's a recurring news article that just keeps being rewritten. I think Egyptians are probably very used to the situation now, anyway. It'd be different in a Western economy where everything is predicated upon "Just in time".

But yes, Egypt is screwed. No longer a net oil exporter, tourism has fallen and doesn't seem to return that fast now that the Islamists and their Salafist hardliner nutjob allies are in power.

What does Egypt have except tourism and energy production? Nothing, really.
Egypt is quickly moving towards becomming a failed state like Somalia.
But it will happen slowly.

On the other hand, it's much less fragmented than, say, Syria and a lot less clannish than Libya.
The religious minorities are being persecuted outright, but that's true in all of the Middle East.

Egypt has a cohesive ethno-religious core and that keeps it together. What could bring it down, however, is the religious/secular divide.
The hatred against Morsi is truly strong. There's a big demonstration coming up this 30th June.
Some even talk of impeachment. I think that's highly unlikely. Not because Morsi is all that powerful but because the opposition is so fragmented, they are only united in their opposition to Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood.

The moment they have a weakned Morsi their inner divisions will appear and their less disciplined behaviour will re-emerge.

Plus, the recent developments in the Middle East is all about Sunni/Shia. Egypt is a very large Sunni state. I'm sure Iran wouldn't mind destabilizing a large Sunni state.
The entire Middle East is just a perpetual area of conflict. Once the oil starts to wane, most if not all of it will look like Egypt/Syria.
Only Israel will prosper, their new natural gas find probably doesn't hurt them either.

It always amazes me that the interpretation of a book, in this case the Quran, can lead to such war/violence/divisions even withing the same general religion.

If you sat 12 Scholars in a room with the book "Lord of the flies" and got them all to debate what it all meant you would probably end up with a set of carefully written minutes. Would a different control group descend into beating each other over the head with clubs if they couldn't agree what it all meant? Is this a basic question of intelligence we are dealing with here? Does religion overwrite the intelligence and rational decision making part of our brain by indoctrination or through free will?

I don't think I will ever truly understand Islam.


Change two words in this post to Bible and Christianity and its veracity will be entirely unchanged.

Do you really assume that a fundaental Christian society would be better? The problem is not Islam but role of religion in every day's life.

Gents, I agree with both of your statements and my post makes no exclusion to other religions. I was simply being relevant to the post above regarding Sunni/Shia.

Riots in China's Xinjiang region kill 27: Xinhua

BEIJING — Riots in China's ethnically divided Xinjiang region on Wednesday left 27 people dead, according to state media which said police opened fire on "knife-wielding mobs".

It was the deadliest spasm of violence to hit the troubled western region since 2009. Xinjiang is about twice the size of Turkey and is home to around 10 million members of the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

Beijing has launched a stream of high-profile investment projects in an attempt to boost economic growth in the relatively poor region, which has rich reserves of coal and gas.

Brazil uprising points to rise of leaderless networks

... Braha's modelling studies of unrest over the past century in 170 countries show how long-standing social stresses leave a society susceptible to the spread of unrest once it is sparked off. The initial focus may be an otherwise unrelated event: bus fare increases in Brazil; redevelopment of a park in Turkey; heavy-handed policing in Sweden; the suicide of a Tunisian street vendor in the 2011 Arab Spring.

In fact, most protestors worldwide are not the grindingly poor, but the newly prosperous, says Martin Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. As inflation begins to surge again, these people fear falling back into poverty. This suggests societies emerging from poverty could be unstable: China take note.

The price of food is another stressor. Brazilians protested last month as the price of tomatoes more than doubled. The country's food production suffers marked price volatility.

Yaneer Bar-Yam, head of NECSI, has found that when a global food price index tops a threshold value, clusters of riots occur. It has been hovering around this value for some time, he warns – more price spikes may mean more riots.

Disruptive Thinking: Do you find yourself a bit edgy of late?

Grazing zooplankton could be key to marine chlorophyll decline

A much discussed 2010 study reported that chlorophyll concentrations in the world's oceans – an indicator of phytoplankton growth – declined over the 20th century at a rate of around 1% a year. Physical factors associated with climate change, such as higher sea-surface temperatures and reduced mixing depths that decrease nutrient concentrations in the upper layers of the ocean, go some way to explaining the decline. But biological processes may also be coming into play, for example a difference in the change in metabolic rates as temperatures rise of phytoplankton and the zooplankton that feed on them.

... The researchers recalibrated the standard ecosystem model, which had assumed a Q10 for zooplankton grazing of roughly 1.1. This led to a projection of a decline in global chlorophyll(a) of more than half by the end of the 21st century.

The model projected a rise of 6.9 °C in mean sea-surface temperature by 2100. For a zooplankton Q10 of 1.1, the team projected a 22.5% drop in chlorophyll by 2100. A zooplankton Q10 of 2 indicated a 48.1% decrease in chlorophyll, a Q10 of 3 gave a 54.4% reduction and a Q10 of 4 resulted in a 51% drop.

... In other words, the ocean biomass is going to crash.

See also Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report, 2015 to 2019

I wonder what the feedback CO2 wise will be? Move right along folks, nothing to see here!

Amazing what you run across on the internet ...

The definitive compilation ... Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction w/links

1 Ancient predecessors
2 Modern works
- 2.1 Pre-1900 works
- 2.2 Post-1900 works
- - 2.2.1 Nuclear war
- - 2.2.2 Pandemic
- - 2.2.3 Failure of modern technology
- - 2.2.4 Extraterrestrial threats
- - 2.2.5 Cosy catastrophe
- - 2.2.6 Post-peak oil
3 See also
4 Notes
5 References
6 External links

Yo-Auto unveils first natural-gas/electric SUV, also powered by gasoline

When one thinks of Russia and cars, innovation does not immediately spring to mind. One company may be changing that, however. The delightfully named Yo-Auto – or as it is only slightly less delightfully known in Russian, Yo-Avto – is taking a road technologically less-traveled with it ё-mobile (ё-мобиле) vehicles.

The company had introduced itself with a funky trio comprised of Yo-coupe, Yo-hatchback and Yo-truck, and later showed off a pretty far-out (Yo)-concept. The thing that unites the bunch is a unique drivetrain. Although it has a conventional internal combustion engine that's said to run on either gasoline or natural gas, it lacks a transmission. Instead, a generator takes the work created by the engine and feeds it into a supercapacitor, which then passes it along to two electric motors driving the rear wheels. The system employs regenerative braking and uses the advanced 70-kilogram (154-pound) energy storage system to start the fuel burner.

It sounds slightly over-complicated and not especially efficient, but Yo-Auto says this "hybrid" configuration can return 3.51 l/100 km (67 mpg). Mr. Prokhorov's remarks after riding in the vehicle didn't touch on that particular metric, and only involved the driving experience: "This is the best car I've ever been in." This, of course, leads us to believe he is either extremely biased or his other car is a vintage Lada

Oil will be flowing through new Texas pipeline by 2014

Oil could be flowing through TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Pipeline by the end of the year, clearing up the logjam in Cushing, Okla., and sending thousands of barrels per day to refineries near Nederland.

The 36-inch diameter pipeline passes through 17 Texas counties and will have a capacity of 700,000 barrels per day, Dodson said.

Russia tight oil tax relief at risk from compliance costs

Steps to stimulate extraction of hard-to-recover oil in Russia, vital to sustain output in the world's largest crude producer, could be stymied by onerous costs of measuring output[?], experts and a key member of parliament told Reuters on Wednesday.

The debate over tax relief for unconventional oil comes as Moscow tries to join the shale revolution led by the United States, which has overtaken Russia to become the world's top gas producer and ramped up output of oil in recent years.

Russian producers have already reported 500 million tonnes, or 3.5 billion barrels, of recoverable reserves of 'tight' oil in the shale of Siberia's Bazhenov formation.

The city of Paris is supporting instalation of solar panel with the goal to have 400 000 m2 installed. To help people, the city hall now published a solar potential map for each roof of Paris:
So if you ever wondered how much electricity you could get from solar panel on the Louvre museum or the Eiffel tower you can look at this map.

@150watt pet metersquared thats 60MW.
Palo Alto just contracted for 80MW from three locations. So they got Paris beat!

‘Many, many’ Canadian homes could become uninsurable

Joan Bryden, OTTAWA — The Canadian Press, Published Tuesday, Jun. 25 2013, 9:14 PM EDT

Millions of Canadians living in many parts of the country could find their homes declared uninsurable, as the insurance industry grapples with skyrocketing water damage claims.

That’s the grim future predicted by Blair Feltmate, chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Project at the University of Waterloo.

“That’s going to be the harsh reality,” Feltmate said in an interview Tuesday.

“In the absence of weather-hardening infrastructure, under the new extremes of climate change and extreme weather events, we are categorically heading towards an uninsurable housing market in Canada in many, many regions.”

Feltmate’s project, jointly funded by the university and Intact Insurance, is aimed at finding practical, affordable solutions to the challenges presented by climate change.

A Gamble on Shale Job Growth Fails to Pay Off for Governor Corbett, as Fracking Worries Grow Nationwide

Sharon Kelly, Desmogblog, Fri, 2013-06-21

“It’s pretty simple,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Philadelphia Democrat, told MSNBC recently. “Governor Corbett was elected, and he immediately began cutting education funding. At the same time, he gave tax giveaways to the largest corporations in the commonwealth.”

Both in Pennsylvania and across the country, the politics surrounding shale gas and fracking are far more divided and becoming even more so by the day.

Just one day after Mr. Corbett’s Philadelphia speech, Pennsylvania’s Democratic party added a fracking moratorium to their state platform.

"U.K. Wave Energy Needs Strike Price Six Times Higher Than Coal"

I'm a big fan of lots of renewable energy systems, but wave energy is just not happening. You've got complex machinery trying to harvest low power density from a very hostile environment, with big environmental side effects. The UK has dumped a ton of money into it, but this dog won't hunt.

Yeah, wave energy is a pretty tough one. There is definitely some energy there to harvest but doing it efficiently is difficult. And doing it with all the mechanical stresses and salt water endlessly beating up the equipment . . . well that makes it EXTREMELY difficult.

That is the nice thing about solar PV . . . no moving parts and the most difficult environmental stress is the sunlight that it designed to capture. It is too bad they are not all that easy. Wind is cheaper I guess but those turbines are mechanical devices with a lot of moving parts that will ultimately wear out.

That said, the problem they keep having with Tide and Wave is that there is TOO much power for the machines they've tried to not get torn apart by them.

Sounds like a Yogi quote in the making to me.

As for 'low density', goodmanj, I think that, just like Patriotism V. Treason, is all a matter of time and place.

The advantage of wave -if you can get it going, is it is available much of the time, and predictable for at least a couple of days. Its also available in parts of the world that don't get much sunlight, and typically have winter peak demand. It would be a good complement for other types of renewables.

How much is it that there is a big learning curve, and the only way to get past that is to heavily subsidize the early developments? You sound convinced it is intrinsically difficult, which might well turn out to be the case. But, has enough effort been expended to rule out the learning curve effects?

Some money has definitely been thrown at the problem, but whether it's "enough" is a matter of opinion. My understanding is that the UK and other European countries have been heavily funding academic R&D on this topic since the 1973 OPEC embargo: lots of private companies have been spun off too. There are dozens of widely-different technologies that have been field-tested at full scale, but none of them have made the leap to mass production.

"1973 OPEC embargo"
What OPEC embargo ?
The "embargo", as limited as it was, wasn't from OPEC (not Iran, not Iraq, not Venezuela, etc), very lited anyway, maybe time to realize that the first oil schock was first and foremost the direct consequence of US 1970 production peak (U.S. first producer at the time, and by a wide margin), a summary below :

With regards to the references to Dr. Francis, she is promoting a hypothesis, which is quite intriguing with regards to the recent extreme weather events of the past couple of years in the northern hemisphere. In January, she presented a her current research in some depth at the Weather & Climate Summit. Some TODers may find this useful.

Day 3 Presentation:

Day 5 Presentation:

Thanks for the links, I recall seeing them before . Note also that her presentations were in January 2012 before the record sea-ice melt at the end of the 2012 melt season. While I like much of her data presentation, I think she is incorrect to focus on the difference in albedo of sea-ice vs ocean as a prime cause. Her general statement that the solar energy is reflected by the sea-ice but absorbed by the open water is flat out wrong, as the albedo of water is much larger when the direct beam arrives at a high zenith angle.

At the beginning of the second presentation (4:22), she presented a photo of the Sun over the sea-ice and water with the Sun at the horizon. In this photo, the brightest part of the ocean/sea-ice mix is the water, as the sea-ice scatters the light and thus appears darker. She also says nothing about the effects of melt ponds on the surface of the sea-ice, which exhibit a much lower albedo than sea-ice covered by fresh snow, thus the absorbed energy goes directly into sea-ice. The melt ponds appear as open water to the passive microwave sensors, so Chapman's measure of sea-ice area tend to overstate the amount of actual open water. The likely initial cause of those melt ponds is melting due to increased down welling infrared, which might be expected from additions of greenhouse gases and/or changes in cloud cover. That increased infrared would be absorbed equally by both the ice and water.

Then, she gets into her analysis of jet streams, missing the other side of the problem, which is, the increased forcing of meridional flow due to trapping of energy in tropical and mid-latitudes. Her analysis may be pointing to a real change, which is interesting, but I doubt it's the whole story. For example, this year's sea-ice melt is running only a bit below the long term average for 1979-2000...

E. Swanson

Hmmm.... There are two links one from 2012 and one from 2013. You may want to review the 2013 (Day 3) link.

With respect to her being wrong or completely missing other problems, that is something you can debate with her I guess. At the very least, it is useful info for me and other who may not be as specialized as you.

Do you have any presentations such as this from any professional conferences we can take a look at? It would be nice to see your perspective using a similar format.

You are correct that "Day 3" is 2013. I recall watching it, but looked at "Day 5" for the date. The idea of a AGW Arctic Amplification has been around for more than 30 years. Francis was a co-author with Mark Serreze on a 2006 paper, "THE ARCTIC AMPLIFICATION DEBATE", in which they made the case for the large difference in albedo which she repeatedly mentions. But, there is data which has been published which shows the difference in albedo between the sea-ice and ocean water at high polar latitudes.

Here's one paper, which I have some disagreement with, but which gives lots of references:

Perovich, D.K. 2011. The changing Arctic sea ice cover. Oceanography 24(3):162 173


part of the problem is that the ocean albedo is quite low at lower latitudes, but at polar latitudes, the situation is different. In the paper above, Perovitch incorrectly references conclusions from a paper (Pegau and Paulson, 2001), which reverences earlier work from 1972. It's rather strange, since Perovitch actually made measurements of albedo over sea-ice:

"Albedo evolution of seasonal Arctic sea ice", GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L08501, doi:10.1029/2012GL051432, 2012

I don't want to give the impression that I think the sea-ice decline isn't happening, I just want the model builders to get the physics correct in their models. As it is, most of the models have failed to forecast the rapid rate of decline in sea-ice we've seen since 2000...

E. Swanson

You have to integrate over all the input and exit angles of the light. Snow reflects more than ice, which reflects more than ice with melt ponds which reflects more than open water. I think the meteorologists have this well quantified.

Oh? Have you a reference to a climate model which uses the information presented by the Perovitch report? I would like to know of it, so please tell us the reference. Here's a general description of Perovitch's measurements over 4 years near Barrow, AK:

Despite this variability, albedos from all four years follow a similar pattern. First, there is cold optically thick snow with an albedo of ~0.85. As temperatures increase, the snow cover begins to warm and melt, thereby decreasing the snow albedo to about 0.7. Next, there is a rapid, large decrease in albedo as melt ponds form and proliferate to cover as much as 70% of the surface. Albedos decrease from about 0.7 to as low as 0.2 during this period. There is then a rapid rebound of albedo to as high as 0.6 as surface water drainage occurs and the pond fraction decreases to as little as 10%. Albedos then decrease over time as the melt ponds gradually widen and the ice underlying the ponds thins.

He continues with a discussion of the differences between "seasonal" (first year) ice and multiyear ice...

E. Swanson

UK shale gas resources 'greater than thought'

UK shale gas resources may be far greater than previously thought, a report for the government says.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England - double previous estimates.

Meanwhile the government has announced measures to enable shale gas drilling as part of its infrastructure plans.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon described shale gas as "an exciting new energy resource".

The disinformation about UK shale in the media is enormous on both the pro- and anti- sides.

There is massive hysteria about polluted water sources and to a lesser extent earth tremors. There are ridiculous claims of centuries of cheap energy just waiting to be tapped.

The real issues get lost in the noise. To me these are

The risk of increased levels of direct atmospheric release of methane causing extra greenhouse warming and direct polution of inhabited areas

The indirect damage to our local environment from the instalation, operation and clean-up operations.

The risk of a major blowout as happened in the North Sea a couple of years ago.

The uncertainty of the size and extraction costs of the resourse.

The maximum sustainable extraction rate for the reserves.

and, most importantly,

The opportunity cost of being distracted into NOT tapping renewable energy flows as fast as physically possible, when we are already forecast to be risking power cuts within the next 3 years.


There is massive hysteria about polluted water sources and to a lesser extent earth tremors.

Because of course you have 3D X-ray vision and know exactly how existing fractures in the pre-fracked geology will behave once ops commence.

With all due respect the best 3D surveys don't give us enough info to know this with anywhere near 100% certaintly not to mention countless anecdotal stories of contaminated water supplies that prior to fracking had no noted problems.

We are only just BEGINNING to understand how fracked geology behaves WRT groundwater. This is a ticking timebomb and we will soon descover we are deficating in our own nest.

Also contrary to your assertion that earthquakes are the lesser mentioned factor, I would strongly disagree and say that all you hear about in the media is the Earthquake threat and very little attention to the groundwater problem. I would even go as far as to say the Earthquakes are used as a straw man to divert attention away from the potentially more serious problem of undrinkale water.


"This is a ticking timebomb and we will soon descover we are deficating in our own nest."

Thanks for sharing your 3D X-ray vision with us.

I didn't need X-ray vision to work that out though. Like I said in my post there's plenty anecdotal evidence out there that damage is being caused and that the contamination was unexpected ergo the geology is not 100% watertight, excuse the pun.

When it comes to bringing about change, anecdotal evidence is usually worth the peer-reviewed paper it's written on. While I agree that fracking is generally a bad idea, due to the unknowns for the most part, as Ralph mentioned, there are plenty of above ground issues to be concerned about.

Either way, the UK will run out of stuff to burn at some point, frack or no frack.

2nd part of a Ronald Wright interview.

I found his Massey lecture book much easier than Diamond, or the sociology based Ellul books of the 70's and 80's. The reading flowed so gracefully.


No new changes in his previous viewpoints, but I enjoy the evolution of individuals messages.

Link to the original book


Wright's concept of the progress trap is quite compelling. Had I not been familiar with the concept before coming to the Oil Drum, the concept of Peak Oil and its attendant predicaments would have sailed right over my head.

Wright's book also made me aware of the real fundamental problem of climate change and how it aims directly at the heart of modern life. Our weak spot is agriculture. Agriculture is dependent on stable climate. If the climate gets sufficiently chaotic and agriculture fails on a massive enough level planetwide, modern life effectively ends within a short time as its foundation is removed.

It sounds ridiculous (well probably not to the people here, but to those not here), but that really is the simple truth of the thing. There's a limited supply of food until the next harvest (and always has been for the last 10,000 or so years), once that supply is gone, it's gone. If the harvest is not good enough, settled human life (to say nothing of modern life) blows up catastrophically.

We've had localized famines in the past due to the vagueries of the weather. Do the same thing across the entire world (as climate change seems to make possible) and we lose a significant fraction of the world's population in one year. Many civilizations have already been destroyed by prolonged localized agricultural impacting climatic changes.

Climate change is nowhere near that bad yet worldwide, but once you start getting out to 4 - 6 degrees of average temperature change, the foregoing scenario isn't out the question.

Strangely, hardly anyone seems to talk about this particular feature of climate change. I don't think that folks aren't aware, but it's not really talked about. I guess it's implicitly included in the forecasts of disaster.

Train derails as bridge drops two feet over Calgary’s swollen Bow River

ALGARY —Emergency crews are at the scene of a train derailment on a sinking bridge over Calgary’s swollen Bow River, working to keep railcars full of petroleum product from falling into the water.

At approximately 3:30 a.m., local time, the train derailed on the Bonnybrook Bridge outside of Canadian Pacific’s Ogden yard. The bridge gave way after most of the train had crossed. Cars that were still on the tracks were pulled away from either end.

The Transportation Safety Board has deployed a team to the site of the derailment. The federal agency said four of the cars contain petroleum products and one of them contains ethylene glycol residue. There may be a sixth empty car.

also Calgary bridge with derailed train shows signs of stabilizing

Five of the Canadian Pacific rail cars contain petroleum diluent, which is used to thin petroleum products, including bitumen from Alberta oilsands, for transporting through a pipeline.

Ten terminals for crude oil trains planned or built in Washington (slide show)

Companies are building or planning to build 10 railroad oil terminals in Washington state, plus one in Oregon, to accommodate long trains of tanker cars bringing crude oil from Bakken oil shale fields in the Dakotas.

The oil will help support five refineries in Washington state, which have been seeking other sources of crude as volume through the Alaska pipeline has been dropping with the depletion of Alaskan oil fields.

The Alaska pipeline is bringing about 295,000 barrels a day to Washington’s five refineries, about a quarter of its peak operations, said Frank Holmes, director, Northwest region, for the Western State Petroleum Association.

Now that is an interesting juxtaposition of two items... working to keep tankers from falling into the river above building to accommodate long trains of tanker cars.

Long trains of tanker cars? What could possibly go wrong?


Feds investigate St. Marys oil well incident

The groups had asked the federal EPA to review the St. Marys oil leak as well as alleged Clean Water Act violations in a separate Youngstown case to see if the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' oil and gas regulatory program is working effectively. The coalition proposes that the federal government take back its oversight responsibilities in the state.

Its complaint alleged that Ohio has been out of compliance with the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, or EPCRA, under which chemical inventories are to be publicly available, since 2001. In that year, state lawmakers passed a law "that essentially exempts the oil and gas industry operating in this state from requirements (of the federal law)," the activists said.

They pointed to the emergency near St. Marys to make their case. They said that when concentrated chemical odors were detected at the facility, local emergency responders were unable to access required chemical data that was supposed to be on file. The local newspaper was told the information was filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the groups said.

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

Systemically Important or “Too Big to Fail” Financial Institutions

Although “too big to fail” (TBTF) has been a perennial policy issue, it was highlighted by the near-collapse of several large financial firms in 2008.

Some economists argue that the real problem is some firms are “too interconnected to fail.” That is, it is not the sheer size of certain firms that causes contagion, but the fact that most activity in certain key market segments flows through those firms. Were the interconnected firm to fail, other firms would have difficulty absorbing the failed firm’s business, and there would be disruptions to the flow of credit. If problems in one market segment undermine an interconnected firm, problems can spread to the other market segments in which the firm operates.

Economists consider financial firms to be uniquely vulnerable to instability because a fundamental feature of financial intermediation is the use of short-term liabilities (debt or deposits) to finance long-term assets (e.g., loans). As a result, assets cannot be liquidated fast enough or at a sufficient price to fund redemptions in a panic. The use of liabilities, rather than equity, to finance most assets (referred to as “leverage”) can result in losses exceeding equity, which results in insolvency, or an inability to meet obligations to all creditors in full. These features make financial intermediaries inherently vulnerable to runs—since those who redeem funds first are thought more likely to access their funds, there is an incentive for creditors to rush to redeem, whether the firm is suffering from a liquidity problem or a solvency problem. Panics can be self-fulfilling: whether or not the institution originally had financial problems, a panic can lead to its failure. Panics are also prone to contagion—the observation of a run at one institution can lead creditors to run on other institutions, because of perceived connections or similarities to the original firm.

The classic run involves depositors at banks, but the recent crisis demonstrated that other debt markets can also be susceptible to runs for banks and non-bank financial firms. Non-bank financial firms were highly reliant on short-term borrowing, through financial instruments such as repurchase agreements and commercial paper. They favor short term borrowing because in normal conditions these short-term funds are inexpensive and readily available. The short maturity of these instruments meant that loans needed to be rolled over frequently. The proximate cause of most of these firms’ failure was the inability to roll over maturing debt. When these firms experienced financial difficulties, counterparties became reluctant (or were not in a position) to transact and maintain business relationships with them.

The rapid shift from market discipline to government assistance during the crisis undermines the future credibility of the pre-crisis policy approach. If policymakers wanted to return to a market discipline approach, making that approach effective would arguably require statutory changes that bolster policymakers’ credibility by “tying their hands” to make assistance more difficult in the event of a future TBTF failure. This could be accomplished by eliminating broad, open-ended authority that was invoked during the last crisis.

If investors do not believe that market discipline will be maintained because policymakers face short-term incentives to provide government assistance in times of crisis, then a “no bailouts” promise would not prevent moral hazard.

Some analysts believe that the genie cannot be put back in the bottle—market participants now believe that the government will provide assistance to TBTF firms based on the 2008 experience, in which case they face little incentive to monitor or respond to excessive risk taking. If so, the policy options to mitigate moral hazard are to regulate TBTF firms or use government policy to reduce the systemic risk posed by TBTF firms.

Some policymakers would consider a tradeoff of less credit for a more stable financial system to be a tradeoff worth taking, considering that the recent crisis resulted in the deepest and longest recession since the Great Depression.

… The U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council has reportedly designated three non-banks as “systemically important,” and therefore subject to heightened prudential regulation. However, the Financial Stability Board, an international forum, has identified 28 financial firms as “systemically important financial institutions,” 8 of which are headquartered in the United States.

In the first quarter of 2013, there were 37 U.S. banks with more than $50 billion in assets, of which 4 with more than $1 trillion in assets, of which 2 with more than $2 trillion in assets. Ten years earlier, there was only one U.S. bank with more than $1 trillion in assets.

According to one study, the three largest banks held 5% to 15% of total commercial banking depository assets from the 1930s until the 1990s. The share of the top three then rose until it had reached about 40% by 2008. Assets of the five largest bank holding companies (BHCs) totaled 51% of total BHC assets at the end of 2012.

Over the long run, large non-banks have emerged, in part because of the growth in “shadow banking. According to one estimate, assets of broker-dealers grew from 3% of commercial bank assets in 1980 to nearly 30% in 2007. Over the same period, hedge fund capital increased from less than 1% of bank capital to more than 100%.

There was no standing policy to provide liquidity to non-bank financial firms to guard against runs before the recent crisis.

Factory Insurance Would Fight Blight

Automakers and other private firms should be required by law to carry insurance policies to pay for tearing down their factories and buildings, recommends a hard-hitting study from Michigan State University's Center for Community and Economic Development.

Such a requirement would prevent commercial and industrial companies from "walking away" from shuttered facilities – a problem plaguing the nation, said Rex LaMore, director of the CCED and lead author on the study.

The report also supports the creation of a private sector industry that develops and maintains insurance that can implement abandoned property clean-ups.

LaMore said the proposal is not without disadvantages. It could, for example, discourage mixed-use structures and increase construction costs.

More information: http://news.msu.edu/media/documents/2013/06/d3872863-e60d-429b-9350-ffec...

UK energy regulator sees higher blackout risk by 2015

Britain's risk of electricity blackouts by 2015 is more serious than previously thought, regulator Ofgem warned on Thursday.

The country's spare electricity supply margin could fall as low as 2 percent in 2015/16, down from around 14 percent currently. Last year Ofgem gave an estimate of 4 percent.

"Electricity supplies are set to tighten faster than previously expected in the middle of this decade," Ofgem said in a report, adding that the chance of supply disruptions would rise to one in 12 years in 2015/16 from one in 47 years now.

Report: Security of Supply Outlook - 2013

Based on advice from National Grid, our assessment suggests that the risks to electricity security of supply over the next six winters have increased since our last report in October 2012. This is due in particular to deterioration in the supply-side outlook. There is also uncertainty over projected reductions in demand. ... this is a material change from National Grid‟s previous projection, which partly reflects a more pessimistic economic outlook

Recovery? What Recovery?

The Economy Is Even More Sluggish Than We Thought

Kevin Drum reports that after revising their announcement of GDP for the first quarter of 2013 down already, from 2.5% to 2.4%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has released a further revision to 1.8%, proving that this isn't much of a recovery.

Stopped hearing (reading) the word "recovery" about 2 years after the crash in 2008. Like people gave up expecting it. We are used to the sluggisdh economy now.