Drumbeat: July 1, 2013

Analysis - Big lenders wary of following oil money to North Dakota

Many banks remain wary of the past repeating itself. North Dakota saw a surge of oil activity in the 1950s and 1980s, only to have the flare-ups burn out, leaving many residents, municipalities and banks in debt after funding large projects. Williston alone had millions in debt from the 1980s oil boom as recently as 2005.

"What we don't want to do is go into a community like Williston and engage in speculative lending and not have an exit strategy," said Dan Murphy, Wells Fargo's regional president for North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota. "We're happy to make loans. We want to be repaid."

The hesitancy comes even as Marathon Oil, Exxon Mobil, Statoil and dozens of other energy companies spend billions of dollars to extract North Dakota's oil and natural gas.

Many bullish geologists say the North Dakota oil boom will last for half a century at least, citing technological advances that have made supply easier to reach.

The Peace Garden State has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and the fourth-lowest foreclosure rate on home mortgages. But many of the new jobs are filled by men living in temporary work camps who send chunks of their paychecks back to their families in other states, rather than put money toward longer-term investments locally.

WTI Crude Gains After Quarterly Drop Amid Egypt Protests

West Texas Intermediate rose, snapping last quarter’s decline, amid concern than mass protests against President Mohamed Mursi of Egypt, the largest Arab nation, might spread and affect Middle Eastern oil supply.

Futures gained as much as 1 percent in New York. At least eight people were killed in clashes near the Cairo headquarters of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, and part of the Islamist organization’s building was set on fire, government officials and police said today. WTI fell earlier as much as 0.5 percent as China’s Purchasing Managers Index dropped to 50.1 last month, from 50.8 in May. U.S. crude rose 5 percent in June even as stockpiles increased for three weeks, government data showed.

Europeans Oil Benchmarks Go From Trusted to Tainted

The European Union’s top energy official ignored a warning delivered in 2009 about potential manipulation of Platts oil benchmarks “because markets trusted” them.

Andris Piebalgs, who was EU energy commissioner from 2004 to 2010, cited the confidence traders had in the pricing system when a lawmaker questioned the reliability of Platts’ prices more than three years ago. The warning went unheeded until May, when EU antitrust officials raided Platts, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc, and Statoil ASA as part of an investigation into the possible rigging of benchmark energy assessments.

EIA pegs OPEC's June output at 30.1 million b/d, down 300,000 b/d

London (Platts) - Crude output from the OPEC oil cartel fell to 30.1 million b/d in June from 30.4 million b/d in May, a drop of 300,000 b/d, the US Energy Information Administration estimates.

Average output of about 30.3 million b/d over the two months was some 800,000 b/d below the May-June 2012 average of 31.1 million b/d, the agency said.

Coal companies hit by oversupply, Obama

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Coal company stocks have taken a hit lately, as a global oversupply and pending climate change rules from the Obama administration weigh on the sector.

Gas Exporters to Defend Pricing as Courts Reject Oil Link

The world’s biggest natural gas exporters are vowing to defend a 40-year-old system for setting prices irrespective of court rulings that they have overcharged customers.

Tying gas costs to oil will dominate “in the long-term” as the system provides visibility and transparency for buyers, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which groups nations from Russia to Qatar, said on the eve of its second summit in Moscow today. RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, said June 27 an arbitration court ruled it had paid Moscow-based OAO Gazprom too much since May 2010 and forced the Russian state-owned export monopoly to add links to market prices in its formula.

LNG Trade: A View from Greece

Global LNG trade and shipping has been rapidly expanding worldwide over the past few years and Greece is at the forefront due to the dynamics of its shipping industry as its considerable investment in the sector.
Russia's Putin: Changing gas deals would hurt energy security
(Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Monday defended the long-term supply deals under which Russia exports the bulk of its natural gas, saying abandoning them would undermine global energy security.

Hedge Funds Cut ICE Brent Net-Longs to Lowest Since Mid-May

Hedge funds and other money managers cut bullish bets on Brent crude to the lowest level in six weeks, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

Fracking London Stockbroker-Belt Looms as U.K. Hunts Oil

The rolling country south of London is called the stockbroker belt for the residents who pay 50 percent above the U.K. average to live in pristine villages. The advent of shale oil under their lawns may shatter the idyll.

Two areas of Surrey and Sussex hold 700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil, or more than a year’s supply for Britain, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. The advent of drilling near mansions in the Wessex and Weald basins may widen the nation’s shale-energy debate, which has focused on gas in northwest England, hundreds of miles from London.

Shell Shuts Sarnia, Ontario, Refinery Unit in Unspecified Repair

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it is shutting a unit at its refinery near Sarnia, Ontario.

The unit is being shut for repair, Kristina Zimmer, a company spokeswoman based in Sarnia, said today in a phone interview. The shutdown is causing increased flaring and noise, according to a company statement on its website.

U.S. Oil Market Could Cope With More Iran Export Cuts

The top U.S. energy official said world oil markets could cope with further cuts in Iran's oil exports from tighter sanctions over its nuclear program as rising supply from the United States and Iraq offsets the loss.

U.S. lawmakers are embarking this summer on a campaign to deal a deeper blow to Iran's diminishing oil exports, and analysts say the ultimate goal could be a near total cut-off.

NY financial regulator probes insurers over Iran links: WSJ

ZURICH (Reuters) - New York's financial regulator has asked insurers Lloyd's of London and reinsurer Swiss RE AG for details about dealings linked to Iran as part of a probe into 20 non-U.S. reinsurance firms, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Protesters to Egypt's Morsy: You have one day to step down

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptians who helped overthrow a 29-year dictatorship in a widely hailed revolution have now given the country's first democratically elected president one day to step down from office.

In a statement posted Monday on its official Facebook page, Tamarod (the "rebel" campaign") demanded that if President Mohamed Morsy doesn't leave office by Tuesday, the group will begin a civil disobedience movement, call for nationwide protests and march on the presidential palace, where Morsy's administration is running affairs.

Gulf Arabs call for U.N. Security Council meeting to prevent Homs massacre

RIYADH (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states called on the U.N. Security Council on Monday to meet urgently to prevent a massacre in Homs, as pro-government forces in Syria try to wrest the city from rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad's army and allied fighters launched an offensive against rebels in control of the central city on Saturday after scoring victories against the opposition in other parts of the country.

Syria neighbors block thousands from fleeing: rights group

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's neighbors have closed or tightened restrictions at several border crossings, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded within Syria's dangerous frontier regions, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

It said Iraq, Jordan and Turkey had all restricted the flow of people trying to flee a conflict which has killed 100,000 people and, according to the United Nations, has already driven 1.7 million more to take sanctuary outside Syria.

China Agrees to Asean Sea Talks Amid Philippines Warning

China agreed to talks with Southeast Asian nations on a set of rules to avoid conflict in the South China Sea, winning praise from diplomats even as the Philippines warned of increased “militarization” of the waters.

Oil thefts threaten Nigeria's economy, environment

DIEBU, Nigeria (AP) — The first drops of crude float in the languid muddy currents of Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, then slowly grow into the splatter of a massive crime scene.

Oil thefts, long a problem in the Niger Delta, are growing at an ever-faster rate despite government officials and international companies offering increasingly dire warnings about the effect on Nigeria's crude production. Some 200,000 barrels a day — representing about 10 percent of Nigeria's production — are siphoned off pipelines crisscrossing the region.

While drums end up leaking in villages and used to make crude kerosene and gasoline, the major thieves appear to belong to international criminal gangs that sell it into world markets, analysts and experts say. And the same Nigerian politicians and military leaders now targeting the small-scale local refineries that dot the delta likely are the ones benefiting from those massive thefts.

Repsol to drill for oil in Amazon rainforest in Peru

Repsol has been given the go-ahead by Peru's ministry of energy and mines (MEM) to explore for oil in one "protected" and one proposed reserve in the north of the country in the remote Amazon rainforest bordering Ecuador.

Ask Umbra: How can we move beyond oil?

I am very interested in mitigating the effects of Peak Oil. Please tell me how BEST to encourage solar and wind technology. I would also like to encourage investment in new green energy and food research.

SF Bay Area braces for first day of transit strike

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Commuters braced for traffic snarls Monday morning as two of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit's largest unions went on strike, halting train service for the first time in 16 years.

The walkout promised to derail the more than 400,000 riders who use the nation's fifth-largest rail system and affect every mode of transportation. Transportation officials say another 60,000 vehicles could be on the road, clogging highways and bridges throughout the Bay Area.

SF bay area car rental startup faces lawsuit

Zaparde and co-founders, Kevin Petrovic and Shri Ganeshram, both 19, created FlightCar, passing on elite colleges in the Northeast and joining others in what has been dubbed the "sharing economy." These new businesses are trying to make it easy for people to share their property — such as cars or houses — and earn some money.

These companies are, however, also running up against government regulations. In FlightCar's case, San Francisco city officials and those at the airport say the company is undercutting rental car companies at the airport by acting like a rental company but ignoring the regulations that govern them.

The bike boom

Americans are using bikes for transportation and recreation in record numbers as the fitness and green movements, as well as high energy costs, spur a two-wheel revolution.

Green fuel a big winner in fall out from Fukushima

Wind, sun, tidal, thermal - one legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is a surge in interest in Japan in all things renewable within the energy industry.

A rush of technology firms and investors are exploring a range of green energy projects, tapping into the anti-nuclear sentiment that remains strong across Japan.

The renewable energy sector was given a significant boost last year with the launch of a government feed-in tariff, which resulted in subsidies for companies investing in the sector.

Arizona wildfire kills 19 members of elite crew

YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) — An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation's fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.

It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.

The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Residents huddled in shelters and bars, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

U.S. is not waging 'war on coal': Energy Secretary Moniz

(Reuters) - The U.S. government is not waging a "war on coal" but rather expects it to still play a significant role, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Sunday, rejecting criticism of President Barack Obama's climate change plan.

Obama tried last week to revive his stalled climate change agenda, promising new rules to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and other domestic actions including support for renewable energy.

Is climate change making cities wealthier and healthier?

The Greater London Authority's Matthew Pencharz, environment advisor to the Mayor of London, goes further. He said: "We must fight the rhetoric that... taking climate action inevitably leads to a reduction in living standards or even a complete change in our way of life. We must say that there is no contradiction between being resource efficient and fostering economic growth and jobs... financial incentives will provide a much more persuasive message than reductions in GHG emissions."

Capital markets and climate change: can pension funds save the world?

The way pension funds invest will determine the future, which means that to thrive they'll need to wake up to climate change.

The PPUE post doesn't allow comments so I am putting mine in here.

The biggest issue I have with PPUE for oil, is that the production lags the effort. Put less effort into fishing in a year, and you catch less fish that year. Drill less wells in a year, and you produce less oil over the next several years. Big swings in rig deployment do not immediately lead to big swings in production, so short term PPUE variations are purely about rig numbers and don't tell you anything about the return on effort.

In particular the scaling against a peak is resulting in a confusion of declines that are due to oil being harder to get, with noise due to a slow year for drilling.

The data needs smoothing over a much longer timescale than annual before doing this sort of analysis.

Additionally oil/NG are produced by wells, not rigs. One rig can drill many wells.
I understand the concept of this approach but what the author is doing is somewhat in contrast with the papers he refers at the end of the article: the fishing articles look at the total amount of effort that goes into harvesting ocean food not one specific vector (drilling rigs).
Also, fish is a (somewhat) renewable resource. Don't fish one year and chances are next year you can catch more fish with less effort because stocks have built. Non-renewables don't work that way. Once they are extracted they are gone.

mods: this comment doesn't belong in Drumbeat - it probably should be moved.

Thank you for mentioning that the comments were not enabled on the PPUE articl, Hot Air.

Comments are now enabled. You could cut and paste your comment there if you wish.

Best to all,

Re: Is climate change making cities wealthier and healthier?

Cities survive by bringing in resources from outside, i.e., they aren't sustainable. The larger the city, the greater the area outside which must be dedicated to support the inhabitants inside. High rise cities consume large amounts of energy just lifting mass from ground level to the higher floors of the tall structures.

Using climate change as a reason/excuse for reducing energy consumption within a city would certainly provide positive impacts on the wealth of a city, but much of what was mentioned is short term capture of "low hanging fruit". Once those measures were implemented, the next level of cuts will be much harder to reach. This will be especially difficult for the largest high rise cities, as basic changes at the structural level will be required. At some point, whole buildings must be removed and replaced with designs which are radically different.

Then too, sea level rise will slowly erode the land on which the cities and their port facilities are build. The case of Miami was presented recently, pointing out that most of South Florida will likely be flooded. From this perspective, saving the Everglades is a complete waste of effort, as that swampy land will become ocean bottom again.

Sad to say, I don't share the optimistic outlook in the article...

E. Swanson

Quote from Hutchinson article posted on The Prudent Bear economic blog:

"China is reportedly planning a city of 250 million people within the next ten years, hoping it will spur economic growth. The United Nations' population estimates for 2100 have Lagos, Nigeria with a population of about 150 million in that year. The Financial Times recently had a snooty editorial asserting that the 21st Century will be "the century of the city."

And then in reference to Black_Dog's statement:

"Cities survive by bringing in resources from outside, i.e., they aren't sustainable. The larger the city, the greater the area outside which must be dedicated to support the inhabitants inside."

Can you imagine migrating to a city of 150 million in the hopes to survive? I can't. How about 250 million? These people (planners) are truly caught up in their own insanity. In the case of Nigeria it is not hard to imagine immense and unregulated slum sprawl of tin roof shacks and unimaginable poverty. The Chinese plan is simply a solid indication of something ending badly.

I did find it interesting that in the Hutchinson article not one mention was made about energy constraints, even though the author stipulated such scale is not sustainable. If anyone is interested in the article, here it is.



Cities are much more energy efficient and effort efficient than suburbs for instance. The problem however is that cities require concentrated fuel sources like oil to run them; whereas in a suburb one can more easily subsist on low concentration fuel sources, but you need more energy overall.

Cities represent technology and development, so if you're feel that technology has an important part to play in 'getting through' our existential crisis then that ought to be the model you should support. Technology has already proved itself to be more valuable than individual humans given the willingness of people to tolerate virtual slavery in order to produce it.

The more resources available per capita we have the more egalitarian society we will have, and the greater the value placed on each human's individual existence. A city relies on the disorder (entropy) of the surrounding countryside just as much as a high ranking individual relies on the disorder (entropy) of his fellow man. There are solutions to every problem, just not happy ones, there are always unintended/unexpected consequences.

In the end the system itself is self-sustaining. The invisible hand will thrown as many people, and countries, under the water/bus/heel as necessary for the system itself to survive. It doesn't matter if people rise up and bring down governments in places like Egypt/Syria because it always is a no-win scenario, a Kobayashi Maru.

I don't have any data, but I have a strong impression that the birth rate is lower in cities than in the countryside.

Also, I don't think it is reasonable to require that a city provide all its energy from only the sun that shines on its area. It is a service hub for a large area, and drawing primary energy, as well as other resources from the larger area is what it does. It is like the head for a human. It consumes a lot of the organisms energy resources, but isn't directly involved in digestion. From the standpoint of the stomach -it would be seen as a parasite.

Cities may be more efficient in economic terms and may consume less energy per capita than suburbs, but that does not imply that cities are sustainable in the original ecological sense. After all, we know that all cities must bring in the material and energy resources to feed their production and consumption, as well as replace the normal wear and tear on every component. The same situation applies to the typical suburban development, which exists because of the automobile centric transport systems found in western nations.

It might be correct that resources distributed to individuals in a more nearly equal manor would result in less dissension, but as the available resources decline, even an equal distribution would not prevent problems and such an egalitarian society runs counter to thousands of years of human history.

I think that your mention of entropy is rather backwards, as entropy is usually considered to represent order or concentration, not disordered states. Our industrial civilization draws on low entropy in the form of stored fossil fuels to power our activities, our use increasing the overall entropy of the surroundings. We also move lower entropy concentrated agricultural crops from the farms into the cities and suburbs, using some of those fossil fuels for transportation. As those fossil energy sources become ever less available (and more expensive in real terms), it's not at all clear to me that "the system" will be able to respond in a "self-sustaining" way, without major turmoil, including population reduction...

E. Swanson

Cities are more efficient, however I find it a tossup between the efficiency and the requirement for things like oil to transport the materials to the city for consumption/processing and the disposal of wastes. In the suburbs and better yet farmlets you can do more (lower productivity activities) whilst not requiring as many outside inputs/exports even if you require more energy to sustain a western lifestyle. You could for instance get away with an outside toilet in the suburbs and grow many of your own vegetables; whereas as a city dweller you'd be completely dependant on people bringing materials in and taking your wastes out.

On the resource distribution front I was having a look at graffiti and civil disobedience. One of my tentative conclusions was that the disorder and chaos of people living with low resources/high stress lifestyles was the price paid for the middle/upper class lifestyles.

I go cold when the word efficiency is used so loosely. Properly it is a dimensionless unit, See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency.

So, more efficient in terms of a *ratio* of what exactly: energy, labour, resources, happiness, despair, chrysalis production?

The link you provided does not say that efficiency is dimensionless. It suggests that it can generally be quantified as a ratio of production to consumption. In the context of this conversation, it refers to the ratio of "living" to energy consumption. The suggestion is that many of life's functions can be done more efficiently (with less overall energy cost) in the city than in the suburbs. Less energy is consumed driving around, multi-residence buildings are often more energy efficient than single residences, that sort of thing.

Of course, this assumption isn't quite that simple, as can be seen here: http://theworldisurban.com/2011/03/energy-use-in-cities/

It does generally hold true for Americans, where rural and suburban people are wealthy enough to consume a lot of energy.

I think it's strange to talk about cities apart from other places as distinct to the degree that one could go away. It's like political discussions where someone suggests a better world where the 'other' side doesn't exist. Someone will always be farther right or left from you, and CITIES are part of human culture and have been for thousands of years now.

It's a 'pound of flesh', really. There will have to be drastic changes across the board, showing a great number of people whose lifestyles will have to change.

Presumably when you refer to suburbs making do with low concentration energy you are referring to PV and Wind? However, if the suburbs weren't there wouldn't the city be able to use those open spaces to generate electricity? I am unclear what specifically there is about a suburban life style in comparison to a city that allows them to use low concentrations more effectively?

It seems to me that the suburbs are a creation of the fossil fuel age- no way IMHO they survive a post fossil fuel age better than the city.

In the suburbs you can have:

*Outside toilet.
*Own vegetable garden. (I prefer perennial types)
*Space for multiple occupants/generations.
*Ability to collect own rainwater/energy.

It is more efficient to have a high energy lifestyle in the city. The difference is that to sustain that lifestyle you need a lot of complicated services for things like food transport etc to remain working. Like anything it depends on the circumstances, so I wouldn't write them off just yet.

Jeff Vail - another person I miss on TOD.

second that

cities require concentrated fuel sources like oil to run them

Electricity is very concentrated - it will do just fine.

Cities survive by bringing in resources from outside, i.e., they aren't sustainable. The larger the city, the greater the area outside which must be dedicated to support the inhabitants inside.

The flip side of that is, of course, that pretty much everything that people label "progress" comes out of cities. Economists and others have spent centuries identifying causes for that: network effects, accumulation of knowledge, economies of scale that allow specialization, etc. To the extent that cities export "progress" to the countryside, today's rural areas aren't sustainable in isolation either.

As an unabashed fan of indoor plumbing and personal computers, the research question of interest to me is whether there are regional solutions to the sustainability question. Is it possible to have a region that is recognizably high-tech but sustainable in the sense that, first and foremost, energy needs can be satisfied by harvesting solar power in its various forms: hydro, wind, PV or solar-thermal conversion to electricity, direct use of heat, plants? Certainly such a solution would not be business as usual, at least as that phrase is typically used at TOD.

Global solutions seem to me unworkable: too many people, too few places where direct and indirect solar can be harvested in sufficient quantities, too much need for intercontinental transportation. Regions that are too small won't be able to maintain the level of tech I'm talking about; my seat-of-the-pants estimate is that ultra-large-scale integrated circuits requires a minimum population of 30 to 50 million people. Feeding and powering that many people dictates a certain geographical size as well.

I'm not saying whether it's possible. I do think it's worth striving for, simply because you can, over sufficient time, sell the idea to average people in the world today. You can't sell the idea that subsistence farming is the best we can manage to the people of the developed world.

The trend in mega-cities is for ever taller buildings. Trouble is, the skyscrapers shade the other buildings around the area and thus limit the amount of energy directly available. The source is no more than 1,000watts/m2 perpendicular to the vector pointing toward the sun, thus packing more high density, high rise structures onto the available land results in less energy per structure. After that limit is realized, there will still be a need for imports of energy from some areas outside the bounds of the city. On a national basis, adding more cities eventually hits whatever basic limits on resources out there in the rest of the nation.

If humanity can't limit population growth, eventually, things will crash. These city planners don't want to admit that fact, if they even realize it exists. World population is growing at roughly 75 million a year, or another Iran or Egypt each year and the natives are already unhappy...

E. Swanson

"World population is growing at roughly 75 million a year"
Rome was'n built in a day. That is still true. But building a city like Rome only takes the time of the Christmas Holydays nowadays.

An interesting thing about density and building shapes, is that high rise towers are not at all an optimal shape for density (especially housing towers, as these cannot be made as "thick" as office towers).
That is, if you compare generic urbanism made of towers, slabs, and courtyard buildings, with the number of storeys as a variable, and the same constraints regarding natural light, towers do ot bring the best results at all.
Plus this is asymptotic, further to 12 storeys or something you don't gain anything.

This was studied in the sixties in Cambridge by Leslie Martin and Lionel March, and even if with to simple maths at the time, the basic results still hold.

You can check the two pdfs linked below for instance (blog post in French but papers in English) :

Of course population is a terrible problem, but that doesn't answer your point about cities. Cities not only use produce from the hinterlands, but they are also the channel and conduit the output of those lands to many more markets. This, primarily is what cities are.. central trade junctions. The fact that Education, Political Centers, Legal and Financial institutions end up there is reasonably understandable..
'That's where the money is.'

For Portland Maine, it's also where the state's biggest hospital is, as well as the centers for public services for Mental Health, etc..

Those outscaled items you mention are probably in pretty good proportion to the outscaled elements across the culture.. They're just bigger next to any of us individually, so they get point to as being some sort of culprit in all this.

I'm about to walk a mile and a half to get my groceries.. not all that uncommon a distance to go by foot for practical purposes in NYC. How does that compare to other places?

Of course population is a terrible problem ... That's where the money is.

Indeed. The terrible problem is we're in a catch-22 situation; we must create population (workers) to fulfill the future debt repayment to sustain growth and everyone's 401K or pension, pay the CEOs, and increase every lucky one's net worth. The consequence is environmental ruin and deep overshoot.

If we ever do manage to limit population growth, we'd better be ready for the great economic collapse and reckoning that comes with it. Death if you do, and death if you don't.

Going to fairways?
Reds WP

I'm not convinced of the lifting energy argument. Except for construction, what goes up must come down, and and efficient elevator will regenerate most of the energy on the return trip. There should be little difference in the net energy for a vertical or a horizontal elevator of similar length.

Every elevator has a counterweight. The mass of the counterweight is hard to define, because you never know if the elevator runs empty, or with it's maximal capacity of e.g. 6 persons. Newton said F=m.a . m=(mass of elevator+mass of counterweight+mass of cables). F requires energy. That means energy is consumed for lifting up a full cabine, but also for lowering an empty cabine (=lifting up the counterweight.) When the elevator slows down, energy is dissipated into heat by the brakes... Anyway: I do not see 100% energy regeneration at all. An elevator is absolutely a net energy consuming device.

You're omitting the potential energy recovery potential. It may not be used now but that doesn't 'mean it can't.
Reds wp

Sure it is a net energy consumer. You would have to have more weight going down than up over time for it to be otherwise. And sure they probably mostly use frictional braking. But like a hybrid car, the braking energy can be recaptured, and sent back to the grid (modern electric trains do that btw.). There is no real fundamental difference between an electric motor and an electric generator, the distinction is momentary, which way is the energy transfer, from grid to mechanical -or the reverse. Admittedly there are resistive loses in the motors, and frictional loses in the cabling and tracks etc. But these shouldn't be worse than in something like a train.

You could in principle put an elevator under a waterfall, then it would become an odd form of hydropower generator. You might even be able to drive a plugin up hill, fill a big water tank, and recover more electric energy going back down than it took to climb the hill.

I was slightly amazed to find the following quotes in an article onPlatts newsfeed today. Thearticle was focused on new requirements for oil companies to disclose payments to the governments of countries in which they operate. The view of Statoils Helge Lund,

Despite his objections to tougher transparency requirements, Lund does seem to recognize that the writing may be already on the wall when it comes to more detailed disclosure on taxes.

“Times are changing, our operating environment is more complex, our industry is definitely more competitive and our operations are more technically challenging…. I think societies will expect more openness and transparency going forward…particularly so with oil and gas companies,” Lund said.

“Shifts in politics and society are altering expectations also for big oil,” he said referring in part to the impact of the global economic crisis which has sparked a re-evaluation of the financial sector and the role of large corporations.

And Shells Voser,

Voser framed the debate over transparency in different way, referring to a “broken” relationship between civil society, government and business.

“It’s extremely important that the triangle between civil society, government and corporates starts to work better,” he said. “Over the last 4-5 years, I think that triangle has been completely broken. The trust affect is no longer available.”

The article can be found at http://blogs.platts.com/2013/07/01/disclose-dollars/?sf459499=1

The Egyptian Government was paying $110 a barrel in 2012 for its own oil in a joint venture with Apache



A lotta 'ultimatums' are flying around in Egypt today ...

Egypt's military issues 48-hour ultimatum

Egypt's military has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Islamist president and his opponents to reach an agreement or it will intervene to put forward a political road map for the country and ensure it is carried out.

The military underlined it will "not be a party in politics or rule." But it said it has a responsibility to act because Egypt's national security is facing a "grave danger," according to the statement, read out on state television.

Mr. Morsi’s administration appeared caught by surprise. “There are protests; this is a reality,” Omar Amer, a spokesman for the president, said at a midnight news conference. “We don’t underestimate the scale of the protests, and we don’t underestimate the scale of the demands.” He said the administration was open to discussing any demands consistent with the Constitution, but he also seemed exasperated, sputtering questions back at the journalists. “Do you have a better idea? Do you have an initiative?” he asked. “Suggest a solution and we’re willing to consider it seriously.”

... looks like the military doesn't have Morsi's back.

Winner take all election outcomes have built in conflicts. Clearly, the system needs to reflect total representation of the population and not simply disenfranchise? even the majority. Canada, my country is a case in point. First past the post is not a good way to run a country, but then such systems are not about fairness or true democracy, are they?

The US electoral system is supposed to address some of these imbalances, but ....

People that aren't listened to don't like it. Sometimes they are angry enough to protest, Morsy could fix this with an outstretched hand, but he won't will he?


Egypt seems to be a good example of accomplishing "democracy" before the culuture is ready for it. Democracy, especially one with a first-past-the-post electoral system requires a genuine sense of shared destiny and a willingness to compromise with your opponents while expecting that you will eventually get your turn at the helm. There seem to be many reasons why this will be difficult to obtain in Egypt. Couple the intransigence of the factions with the building demographic and resource imbalance and it is difficult to see a happy future.

Maybe the army is their best hope.

In Sweden we murdered our last dictator in 1792, and have experimented with democracy ever since. The last "regeringsform" - the part of the constitution that regulates the government - was formulated in 1974. Building democracy takes time. Especially if it isn't invented yet.

Democracy and a nation state are two things which need to evolve internally, imposing it from outside usually ends in tragedy.

Those who still revel in the myth that they are still democratic, use forcing it upon others as a distraction from the fact they've already lost their own.

Boy, I'm sure glad I don't live in a country like *that*! U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!!!
We're still #1, right...?

Posit a minority that is 51% of a party -such that they can control its primaries (or list of candidates on offer), and that party carries 51% of the vote. Then you have 26% being able to control the agenda.

Sometimes the parliamentary system can be even worse. In Israel the fundamentalist religious party is something like ten percent, but in order for a governing coalition to be formed one of the major parties has to include it in its government. Of course the issues of importance to them are non-negotiable. So in important ways a tiny minority gets to call the shots.

Taylor Energy oil platform, destroyed in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan, is still leaking in Gulf

... The platform and its pipelines disappeared on Sept. 15, 2004, when Hurricane Ivan crossed the area, accompanied by winds of 145 mph and waves estimated to be 71 feet high. The heavy pressure transferred to the ocean floor by those huge waves, which crossed the area once every 16.1 seconds at the height of the storm, caused a landslide that obliterated the platform.

The platform had been secured to the seabed by eight structural piles, according to a scientific report prepared for the federal Minerals Management Service. "It was subsequently located lying in an almost horizontal orientation and almost entirely buried in sediment up to 100 feet deep, approximately 900 feet from its original location and in approximately 440 feet of water," Taylor Energy officials said in papers filed in federal court as part of a lawsuit against the firm's insurance company.

In one of several underwater investigations that followed, three plumes of oil and gas were found seeping from the sea floor in the vicinity of both the well casings and the downed platform 900 yards away. Oil has been spotted at the site ever since ...

The Taylor Energy platform site is about seven miles north of BP's Macondo oil well, which blew out in April 2010, resulting in an 86-day uncontrolled spill of oil.

Climate change poses grave threat to security, says UK envoy

In his first interview since taking up the post, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti said climate change was "one of the greatest risks we face in the 21st century", particularly because it presented a global threat. "By virtue of our interdependencies around the world, it will affect all of us," he said.

He argued that climate change was a potent threat multiplier at choke points in the global trade network, such as the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world's traded oil and gas is shipped.

"The military do not deal with ideology. They cannot afford to: they are responsible for the lives of people and billions of pounds of investment in equipment," he said. "When the climate change deniers took their stance after the Copenhagen summit in 2009, it is very interesting that the military people were never shaken from the idea that we are about to enter a very difficult period."

He added: "This danger of the creation of violent conflicts is the strongest argument why we should keep climate change under control, because the international system is not stable, and the slightest thing, like the food riots in the Middle East, could make the whole system explode."

Humans: the real threat to life on Earth

... We currently have no known means of being able to feed 10 billion of us at our current rate of consumption and with our current agricultural system. Indeed, simply to feed ourselves in the next 40 years, we will need to produce more food than the entire agricultural output of the past 10,000 years combined. Yet food productivity is set to decline, possibly very sharply, over the coming decades due to: climate change; soil degradation and desertification – both of which are increasing rapidly in many parts of the world; and water stress. By the end of this century, large parts of the planet will not have any usable water.

We are also going to have to triple – at least – energy production by the end of this century to meet expected demand. To meet that demand, we will need to build, roughly speaking, something like: 1,800 of the world's largest dams, or 23,000 nuclear power stations, 14m wind turbines, 36bn solar panels, or just keep going with predominantly oil, coal and gas – and build the 36,000 new power stations that means we will need.Our existing oil, coal and gas reserves alone are worth trillions of dollars. Are governments and the world's major oil, coal and gas companies – some of the most influential corporations on Earth – really going to decide to leave the money in the ground, as demand for energy increases relentlessly?

"The behavioural changes that are required of us are so fundamental that no one wants to make them."

Typical hyperbole from a thinker who wants to blame the species for the requirements of the power structure.

Not only are there already a great many people who want to make the needed changes, but the possibility of gaining a majority would be greatly enhanced if the topic could be discussed in mainstream politics. It, of course, cannot be, for pretty obvious reasons of wealth and power.

It helps nobody, meanwhile, for the would-be critics to help TPTB keep the lid on things by so wildly exaggerating the scale of opposition to realism and progressive survival.

Green misanthropy and nihilism (and the sloppy social analysis on which they rest) remain a huge problem.

A bit of serendipity that this popped up on the TOD quote ticker about the same time you posted:

“So one may almost say that the theory of universal suffrage assumes that the Average Citizen is an active, instructed, intelligent ruler of his country. The facts contradict this assumption.”
—James Bryce (1909, 35)

I'm compelled to favor Bryce's assessment over yours for the most part. People, especially in the US, are largely, collectively, reactionary, post-eventually adaptive rather than progressive. My observation, especially lately, is that many folks resent being bothered with the facts of resource depletion, climate change, politically disfunctional discourse, etc.. They are busy dealing with the complexities of their own survival and feel entitled to go about their lives without interuptions. This is why we see so much anger, blame and chaos when serious changes are forced upon them, rather than productive cooperation and compromise.

You say: "Typical hyperbole from a thinker who wants to blame the species for the requirements of the power structure."

Isn't the power structure part of the species? For the most part, we get the leaders we deserve. History shows us that societies often evolve in ways where viable leadership becomes impossible. It's easy to blame 'leadership' for the shortcomings of the collective; much more rare that we blame ourselves. I expect that this is an evolutionary artifact; a natural limitation we'll have much difficulty overcoming. A great deal of humility will be involved, IMO.

I probably come out somewhere between the two of you. I'd frame the issue here as "what are he conditions under which people behave..." (a) unreasonably (e.g., collectively, reactionary, post-eventually adaptive rather than progressive) or (b) reasonably (e.g., cooperatively with others and the planet, adopting a restorative lifestyle).

Clearly, TPTB have created seductive conditions under which we behave in ways that serve their interests while consuming and disrupting the planet. And most of us have willingly slipped into that way of life for its proximate benefits.

But are people fundamentally incapable of ever behaving reasonably? (given the right conditions).

Humans have evolved to consume resources at the greatest rate possible. I don't think this fits with your definition of behaving reasonably in context. We have also evolved to have hyperbolic discount functions, blindly optimistic hopes for the future, and an in built ability to deny anything that conflicts with our blind optimism. We also seek out information that confirms our own biased opinions, and filter out contrary information.

I'm not sure what the right conditions could be, maybe a dictator with rules based on ecology, maybe. Certainly not with individuality and belief in personal freedom. We have more power at our disposal then ever before in history, conditions have never been better to achieve whatever we want. They are likely to get a whole lot worse in the future.

Leaders don't generally solve problems, but they can create them. One of the ironic facts is that those who believe in the 'apocalypse' tend to bring it forward to make it relevant and pressing; whilst those who disbelieve push the idea backwards, or dispel altogether. The truth is somewhere in between these points as much as technology itself is both a blessing and curse. In the end the future will happen whether we like or not -- we should however believe in hope because despair is the recipe for inaction.

" In the end the future will happen whether we like or not -- we should however believe in hope because despair is the recipe for inaction." Emphasis added.

I am totally fed up with the hopium meme. Hoping doesn't get it done. I am certainly not going to rely on "leaders" nor am I going to rely on technology. I am going to rely on "doium", i.e., I'm going to do what is necessary to bypass those who are sitting around waiting for someone else to take action to save their a$$.

There are a lot of TODers who fall into the "doium" class.


And yet hopelessness can destroy any sense that what we do matters.

Maybe plan for the worst, hope for the best, do something.

Reminds me of James thoughts on ideals, and Le Guin's response:

All the higher, more penetrating ideals are revolutionary. They present themselves far less in the guise of effects of past experience than in that of probable causes of future experience, factors to which the environment and the lessons it has so far taught us must learn to bend. - William James

Ideals as "the probable cause of future experience" that is a subtle and exhilarating remark. - Ursula Le Guin

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "He who lives upon hope will die fasting".

And I'm sure we all agree.

But isn't there a difference between saying that hope alone is sufficient to sustain us (which I can't accept) versus saying that hope is a necessary component for thriving through the hard times ahead (which seems self-evident; why try or do anything if there is no hope)?

Hope appropriately...

I think it would be useful to differenciate between "hope" and "expectation".

To me hope is basically prayer. The situation is out of your hands and you have no control. For example, if you are lost in the woods and know nothing about survival, about the best you can do is hope/pray someone finds you.

In the case of expectation, if I am lost in the woods and know a lot about survival I have a reasonable expectation that I can overcome the situation. It doesn't mean that I will make it but that there is a reasonable probability I will.

In other words, hope = no control; expectation = lots of control. I'm not sure expectation is the word I'm searching for but I'll let it go at that.


I went through a difficult period of personal change where I learned that I had to give up hope to advance as a person. One example was treating a very close family member, my brother, nice despite repeated events that showed a some-what evil intent to cause serious grief which he seemed to enjoy.

I gave up hope and took very hard look at myself and what I need. I seek out good people and avoid like the plague those who fit my brothers profile, there is zero contact between us, my choice.

It was a watershed for me. I had to accept that there would be no change on his part and that I was the one who must change, to give up all hope. I find myself applying the same test if you will to other situations. It is amazingly liberating.

So Todd - I agree. There is too much hope that some one or something will be there and fix things. More than likely they will fix things for themselves first perhaps at your expense. Hope is a blindness, denial, or delusion. The sooner you get rid of it the better your life will be.


I think this is the rare exception where old Ben was flat out wrong. America has 310 million mostly delusional cargo cult minds who live almost *entirely* on (false) hope, while more than 2/3rds of us are obese.

I've never thought of hope as a convenient excuse for inaction; if anything, it motivates me to work harder. In the absence of hope, any constructive action or act of self-sacrifice would seem rather pointless.

Otherwise, I very much agree. The time for half-ass excuses and self-serving rationalizations, wishful thinking, and invectiveness and vituperation has long since passed. Contribute something positive, or at least have the decency to shut-up and get out of the way.


Hope does serves a lot of good purposes in human society. One of the most important -- and yet under-rated -- reasons for hope is that the absence of hope (that things can get better/stay the same) people can throw out the rulebook on congenial relations. One of the only reason we have people willingly reducing their consumption (savings/investments/trade paid with debt) is that they believe they will get repaid later. People look at the debt bubble as being impossible to pay back, yet people keep that system ticking over with hope.

Written by Squilliam:
One of the only reason we have people willingly reducing their consumption (savings/investments/trade paid with debt) is that they believe they will get repaid later.

Yes, it is one of the reasons. Another without hope: it is better to die trying than atrophying. Others are resigned: they want to kickback with a brewski and watch the collapse unfold.

Modern cities are heavily dependent on transportation to get resources in and waste out. Will that be possible at the current scale without cheap, plentiful fossil transportation fuel?

Recall that yeast go into population collapse from either of two consequences of overpopulation: resource depletion or pollution. Megacities enabled by the industrial revolution and cheap, abundant fossil fuels are no more sustainable than 7 billion people on Earth. If cities are sustainable during population collapse, then they would provide a refuge that would prevent population collapse. Nowhere on Earth would be safe.

"Modern cities are heavily dependent on transportation to get resources in and waste out. Will that be possible at the current scale without cheap, plentiful fossil transportation fuel?"

I share your concern about climate change, but transportation will get along just fine without fossil fuels.

Trains for the long haul, and electric trucks for local delivery will work just fine.

The problem with taking hope out of the equation is that the absence of hope can lead to negative unintended consequences. You could say that the actions of a starving man who has hope that he will be given food tomorrow are completely different to someone who lacks that same hope.

Will it be possible to run cities on less transport fuel? Probably. The current model is to make the 'lower classes' increasingly miserable to compensate. The system works up to and no further than the point where people rise up and protest, or rising crime becomes counter-productive.

The challenge in predicting the future of such complex systems like human society is that there are a lot of redundancies built in to compensate for problems. We are like yeast, but we can do better than yeast at being yeast essentially.

The problem with taking hope out of the equation is that the absence of hope can lead to negative unintended consequences. You could say that the actions of a starving man who has hope that he will be given food tomorrow are completely different to someone who lacks that same hope.

You can take this exact scenario and flip it on its head. If someone is hopeful that it will rain cheeseburgers the next day, they might be willing to splurge through their remaining supplies leaving them with nothing while they wait for the cheeseburgers to begin raining down. Whereas someone who does not have hope for cheeseburger rain may pace out their supplies and seek actual solutions to their food problem instead.

I'd say this is getting a bit too abstract. And, being taken out of the political context where it's most important.

Our problem: the FF industry is telling people that the status quo is ok, if only we leave things to them.

So, if hope means "they'll take care of us" then of course hope is harmful.

If hope means "there are better solutions than the FF status quo, and I can and will help make that happen" then hope is good.

I don't think it's terribly far off from what often happens. How many times have you seen someone lose their job and go on unemployment, spending every penny of it continuing to go out to clubs, go on a vacation - right up to the point it stops. They have hope, an expectation, that they'll get a job before it runs out, but sometimes that doesn't happen.

That describes someone who's both unlucky and prepared inadequately. That's not our social situation overall.

Our societies failing to transition away from fossil fuels, because the fossil fuel industry refuses to take the hit.

I agree with Todd. I cringe when someone uses the word 'hope' and when I use the word (rarely) I equate it with telling a lie. I rely doing and trying to be a realist.

JMG's blog has a nice little discussion going on on this theme. Greer says that stoics are probably better at recognizing and fighting crisis than those who peddle hopium, I concur. Hope is a good thing, but must be accompanied by action. Action itself is important, the feelings behind it are probably irrelevant.

I think that Todd is right in suggesting we differentiate between "hope" and "expectation." I'd go farther and suggest that we may be reading the word "hope" and using very different meanings.

    1. Some use hope as a replacement for doing. They have "hope that things will get better" and so don't feel it necessary to act. I trust we'd agree that they will suffer during the coming hard times. Now I'm not saying that anyone on TOD is hoping in place of doing, just that some of us may assume that when "others" (here or outside TOD) use the word hope, they misuse it as an equivalent to action. But maybe those others are using hope in a different way, like those below (from Todd's suggestion).

    2. Some use hope as an assessment of self-efficacy. I think that is what Todd is getting at; knowing that I have the skills and experience in using them that match the challenge being faced. Thus I might conclude that "I have every reason to expect a hopeful outcome."

    3. Some use hope as an assessment of group-efficacy. For instance, I get this feeling of hopefulness when I read folks here giving details on setting up PV panels, or talking about radical voluntary simplicity (i.e., I'm reading Alexander's Entropia this week), or gardening when it counts, or other deep responses to energy descent. This seems to follow Boulding's notion that if it exists, then it is possible. If you can do it then I have some hope that I can too. But, and this is key, this hope doesn't let me or my family off the hook, just the opposite, it motivates me to take more action.

I too have a negative visceral reaction when people use hope in the first way above. But I also think that it is idiocy to take action when one has no hope that anything desirable will happen. That is, doium without hopium is stupidium.

We might also be missing another perspective on hope, meaningfulness. Meaningless action is a dreadful waste. Struggle, even suffering and sacrifice, is tolerable when there is meaning. Nietzche observed that those with a "why" to life can bear almost any "how," an observation relevant to energy descent. So, I hope that my actions make a difference.

IIRC (from high school very long ago), when Pandora opened the box and let the evils loose upon the world, one remained behind. That was hope. But, in keeping with definition 1 above, that means that hope was an evil.

I think the issue is that you differ in what the required changes are. Buying a Prius, putting up some solar panels, using LED lights, and energy efficient driers just wont cut it.

If everyone that drives an SUV/truck, uses lots of grid power, uses lots of incandescent lights, and have inefficient dryers took those steps, it would make a HUGE difference. It really would. Gasoline usage would plummet. The grid would be flooded with so much PV electricity that we would need to change the current utility structure to handle all that PV.

We don't do it because we don't need to yet and people don't want to. But it is nice to know that we have options as the situation becomes more difficult.

Makes sense. If everybody in the US took their vacation budget for one year and spent it on energy saving/generating it would make a significant difference.
But spring break in Cancun is more important.

Right, how much extra enegy would it take to manufacture all those new gizmos? The grid would be flooded on sunny days during summer, and the extra stressors on the system would also require substantial energy outlay to mitigate. You assume people don't want to, maybe they cant afford to, maybe there are people would love to own a vehicle period. You also assume people don't need to, I'm not sure how you measure that, but even the most conservative estimates say we are using the earths resources at 150% of replacement rates.

I assume you expect the rest of the world to remain poor, because those options are a joke if you think the rest of the world is going to live the dream you describe when they don't even have running water at present.

A realistic difference would need to be around a 75% reduction in energy consumption to start with, but that is unrealistic when people can't even use a clothesline, they have to buy an energy efficient drier, or people can't turn the lights off, or walk to work. Green consumerism is an oxymoron, and a joke. "I gotta get all this new shit, it's energy saving, buying all this new stuff is gonna save the planet."

I am merely advocating a shift in consumption of resources - in this example shift it away from vacation/travel and reallocate it to conservation/alternatives. That by itself would likely reduce consumption in t+1.

I see that as being one of those things that people could possibly, maybe, one day, get around to doing, but actually not the fundamental change that is required if some kind of happy ending is to be achieved. It's the panacea that small actions can make a big difference. Big actions make a big difference, small actions make a small difference, and no difference when confronted with the reality of rising population and a growing economy.

how much extra enegy would it take to manufacture all those new gizmos?

Not that much. Manufacturing really doesn't use that much energy, and it's mostly electricity (which is easy to get from wind & sun).

The grid would be flooded on sunny days during summer

Only if you were silly enough to rely on solar alone, instead of a nice balance of wind and sun. google caiso renewable report.

even the most conservative estimates say we are using the earths resources at 150% of replacement rates.

No, they don't. They say we're emitting way too much CO2, which is nicely fixed by eliminating FF and going to wind and sun.

For 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths; that is, humanity uses ecological services 1.5 times as quickly as Earth can renew them.[2]
Google 'ecological footprint' It is conservative because it seems to ignore the fact that FF's are being consumed at rates far beyond anything approaching that.

Industrial use accounts for 37% of energy consumption, in your dreams electricity is easy to get from wind and sun. In the real world it is easier to get from FF, otherwise the world would have been run on wind and sun not FF.

The power spike are hilarious on a windy sunny day, I hadn't thought of that, thanks.

humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths

That's correct. If you look closely, you'll find that's mostly due to unsustainable FF consumption, and the resulting CO2 emissions. In those models, if FF use is eliminated the footprint is reduced well below 1 Earth(s).

Industrial use accounts for 37% of energy consumption

That includes a lot of stuff besides manufacturing of LEDs, appliances, etc. Manufacturing the kinds of goods discussed above takes less energy than your intution is telling you. For instance, the vast majority of the energy consumed by vehicles is the operating fuel, not the manufacturing. That means that substituting new, more efficient items is a big win.

in your dreams electricity is easy to get from wind and sun. In the real world it is easier to get from FF, otherwise the world would have been run on wind and sun not FF.

That was the past, not the present. And, of course, that FF ease of production was an illusion that didn't take into account pollution, CO2 and security ($T oil wars, anyone?).

compare the cost of a new car to the amount of fuel you will use. If my old car is worth 7k and a new EV is worth say 30k, then I have 23k for fuel purposes before I have even charged an EV. I realise price is not an exact measure of energy but it is actually close enough to give a ballpark figure.

Since most of our energy comes from FF, eliminating them will require a substantial reduction in energy use, which should reduce our ecological footprint. It's a fantasy that you can replace FF with 'new tech'. New tech requires FF for the entire production cycle, you can't buy any kind of 'renewable power' that has been built without using any FF. QED replacing FF with renewable is a fantasy.

The fact that in todays modern era we still have oil wars should give you a clue as to how critical FF are. In the face of all the evidence..........

Any view of the future that doesn't start with a substantial reduction in energy use simple isn't serious.

If we all lived like Egyptians our ecological footprint would be less then 1, so by that measure it's sustainable, and yet they use FF, so it's a very conservative measure. I'm pretty sure that given half a chance they would increase their consumption if they could. Or you could try Bangladesh, which is a classic because they have a low impact lifestyle, but are still beyond the ecological footprint of their own country.

The logic doesn't follow. Since existing solar -or whatever was built in an environment with ubiquitous fossil fuels -it is impossible to do so. Nor is a reduction in scale a law of physics. The transition isn't going to be completely seamless, and will require a lot of dogged willpower to accomplish. But, it can be done. The key is to rapidly develop that willpower, and to be smart in how we harness it.

Well there we have it. The key is to rapidly develop the willpower and be smart how we use it. As simple as that.

Look, the comparison between running an existing used FF car and a new EV is clearly in favor of the FF car unless it is a real gas guzzler. Everyone gets that and it is not some novel clever idea. The issue is when you have to buy a NEW car, what is better an ICE FF car or an EV.

Why do you have to buy a new car? You are right, the ISSUE is when you HAVE to buy a new........ to pretend you are saving the planet or whatever.

Someone must have bought a new car for that used car to become available on the market for you (or someone else) to purchase. Also, there are a large number of vehicles which are destroyed every year as the result of crashes and another fraction which rust away or wear out to become scrap, which tends to add to the perceived need for new cars. The only proper way to make the comparison is between new cars at time of purchase, IMHO.

As for saving the planet, there aren't any 100 mpg cars available (forgetting the fuzzy math used to calculate MPG of EVs), but there are 50 MPG cars available. It takes time to make the change and we gotta start somewhere...

E. Swanson

Extended Range EVs like the Volt easily get 100 mpg. I think the average Volt driver goes 900 miles between fillups.

And, of course, pure EVs don't use fuel at all - just electricity, which is neatly provided for night charging by wind power.

fuzzy math

Be more specific, and provide the numbers.

In a very general sense, the same quantity of energy must be applied to the wheels to move a vehicle over the road, whether that energy is provided by an IC engine or an electric motor. Regenerative braking can capture some of the braking energy, but that would work for hybrids as well as EV's. At present, renewable energy is still a rather small fraction of US electric production, although we all would like to see that fraction increases. Perhaps the future will see enough electric production from renewables to power all our transport needs, but, at the moment, that's not happening. For proof, check out the latest stats for sales of new car and light truck...

E. Swanson

The EV removes many of the parasitic loses that plaque the ICE vehicle. Besides braking energy, they include frictional loses in the transmission, and loses pumping air/fuel/combustion products around with the engine. If we right-sized the ICE engine -to have just enough power to retain cruise velocity, instead of several times more, things would be more equal -but that doesn't seem to be the way cars are heading. So the EV ends up being much much more energy efficient.

I agree that part of the problem is that cars with ICE's have been designed with power plants which are much too large to provide the greatest fuel economy. We've already seen high MPG cars with ICE's, such as the VW 1 Liter, which uses a small diesel to power a hybrid drive. Power is the time rate of energy consumption and thus the more performance (defined as acceleration) available implies lower MPG if one has a lead foot. A smaller vehicle with a small engine would not allow that "kick in the butt" one enjoys with a typical sports car. With a gasoline engine, the control mechanism is a throttle, which essentially controls efficiency, starting at zero at no load idle up to nearly maximum efficiency at full opening. But, no one drives with the peddle to the metal all the time, unless one is a NASCAR racer (or drives an old '60's VW..:-).

On the other side of the comparison, for an EV, those axillary systems such as HVAC, power steering and brakes would reduce the effective MPG, especially during winters high latitude. With an ICE car, the waste heat is very useful in winter. An EV out in the weather with a dead battery when temperatures are below 0o F could turn into a life threatening situation.

As for energy efficiency, the calculation needs to be carried all the way back to the primary energy source. With coal fired steam electric electric power, the generating plant loses about half the thermal energy. Gas fired combined cycle plants do better and these days, gas is relatively inexpensive, though that is slowly changing as the shale gas glut is consumed. NOt to forget the energy lost in distribution and the cost of the structure and maintenance must also be considered. The comparison isn't as easy as some make it appear...

E. Swanson

Power is the time rate of energy consumption and thus the more performance (defined as acceleration) available implies lower MPG if one has a lead foot.
With a gasoline engine, the control mechanism is a throttle, which essentially controls efficiency, starting at zero at no load idle up to nearly maximum efficiency at full opening.

Eh...not really. Throttled engines have a "sweet spot" which is neither at closed nor wide-open throttle. There's also a zone of loading withing that throttle band where they become most efficient.

With large engines come a lot of parasitic losses - that's the big detriment in carrying excess horsepower. With a bigger engine comes more ports to pump oil and coolant through, more valves to actuate, cam journals, wrist pins, crank interfaces, and particularly piston ring swept area...but most importantly - more head area, piston crown area, and cylinder wall area to lose heat through. This is why you want a reasonably large displacement per cylinder and a bore-to-stroke ratio around 0.9:1.0. Higher displacement per cylinder gives you more volume per unit surface area and a more square bore:stroke ratio also maximizes volume to exposed surface area though there are compromises to make with ring swept-area and combustion bypass.

These are the reasons I think the Chevy Volt should have been given a 1-liter twin cylinder. Even an 800cc single would probably work but a 1L twin is a "slam dunk."

A lot of people don't realize that the vast majority of semi-trucks these days use inline 6 cylinder engines which displace around 8 to 15 liters giving them pistons that are often around a foot in diameter.

With an ICE car, the waste heat is very useful in winter. An EV out in the weather with a dead battery when temperatures are below 0o F could turn into a life threatening situation.

Strawman. An ICE car without petrol will suffer the same fate. One legitimate criticism however, is that a depleted pack subjected to extreme cold could possibly ruin it - which wouldn't happen in an ICE.

There are two things to be concerned about here: PO and climate change.

EVs address PO by not using oil.

They address climate change by using electricity, which can come from wind.

Wind is still small, but EV's support it by creating demand at night when wind power produces excess power and can't charge for it.

In the real world it is easier to get from FF, otherwise the world would have been run on wind and sun not FF.
That may be a dated argument. It used to be true. Not so much anymore. The cost curves (of fossil versus wind/sun) are crossing. The argument that if X was doable, we would have done it already is a hollow one -at least in the face of rapid technological advancement. There is a lot of inertia in our systems. The word is slow to get out. Having people trained and skilled and comfortable with the new stuff takes time to build. You just don't ramp from 1% to 90% renewables in a year or two -even if you could manufacture the stuff. No, the rate of growth is limited by a lot of factors related to building expertise, and physical supply chains etc. So expect that the average energy device (producer or consumer) to be a decade or more out of date when compared to the state of the art.

I haven't really seen these crossing cost curves, converging yes, not crossing. It's a long stretch from even crossed curves in electricity, to mining iron ore with electricity generated with windpower, then shipping it to Japan with wind power, assembling it with solar power, then shipping it to the US as a Prius. That's just for the iron ore. In what reality are we building electrical powered ships? The cost curves of gear that can run on solar v FF aren't even close to crossing, if anything they are going the other way.

In the face of technological advancement we are using more FF now then we ever have in the past. It is only now at this point that we can afford to invest some of that surplus into other energy sources that we could not without FF. If you kept all the technology, and took away the FF, could you build a civilization with the energy consumption of today? If you took away all the technology and kept the FF could you build a civilization with the energy consumption of today? It seems obvious to me that you could relearn the tech, but you can't recreate the abundance of millions of years of stored sunlight.

I haven't really seen these crossing cost curves, converging yes, not crossing.

Windpower is now cheaper than new coal, and comparable to nat gas. We'll see how long it takes for nat gas prices to rise significantly...

It's a long stretch from even crossed curves in electricity, to mining iron ore with electricity generated with windpower

It's being done right now. A lot of coal mining is done with electrical equipment - nat gas fumes and diesel engines don't mix well. Much oil drilling is electrical.

In what reality are we building electrical powered ships?

There are ships using windpower as a cost-reducing adjunct. There are a few things that are well suited for liquid fuels: aviation, long-distance water shipping, seasonal agriculture. Those things probably don't add up to more than about 7 MBPD, once they maximize efficiency gains, and that can come from synthetic liquid fuels and biofuels.

If you kept all the technology, and took away the FF, could you build a civilization with the energy consumption of today?

Sure. It would just a while,as the energy available for investment would be smaller.

you can't recreate the abundance of millions of years of stored sunlight.

Ah, that's easy. Wind is scalable to at least 4 terawatts, and solar is scalable to at least 5,000 terawatts. We'll be fine.

Wind is scalable to at least 4 terawatts, and solar is scalable to at least 5,000 terawatts. We'll be fine.
Even though I think both those numbers are two to four times too large, his point stands. We just gotta go do it.

We could quibble about that, but yes, what the heck, one and 1,000 TW are enough.

Cost, Are we talking about HNM costs ( herenowme) or planetary costs?

Of course, from the context of the discussion, we are talking about HNM costs, because everybody knows that the planetary cost of ff is way too high to pay, no need to even talk about that cost-waytoohigh- so forgetaboutit.

As many on this list have shown 75% reduction isn't so hard. Of course clothes lines don't always work weatherwise. Even in sunny California, there are about 3-4months where they are hopeless. I have grown kids who refuse -bugs might land on the clothes. Also the stupid dryer creates soft fluffy clothes -not so with line dried. It can be a tough sell.
Yet, if you switch to a good LED from an incandescent, thats over 80% savings. Thats likely far more than you will gain by turning unused lights off...

But, we are again distracted by concentrating on domestic energy consumption, and ignoring commercial/industrial.

Well maybe people have had a 75% reduction in energy consumption, not many I'd say. I have never owned a drier, and live in a pretty humid climate average about 60 inches rain a year, most of it over winter and spring. Five people in our house, no drier and we always wear clean clothes, it is actually possible to get clothes dry on a rainy day. So I have no concept of why people need a drier.

Domestic consumption is the purpose of industry or the economy, if that goes away so does the economy.

Maybe. Here in Taiwan nobody uses dryers; we have 2000+ mm of rain per year, and most people live in apartments. It's honestly not that hard to hang clothes in a balcony or if you are afraid of bugs/rain, indoors (yes they will dry indoors even with 80+% humidity!). I am actually quite surprised that clothe lines or the like aren't common in North America - you'd think people want to save some completely unnecessary $$$.

Our relative humidity currently stands at 100 per cent and it has pretty much remained in 90 to 100 per cent range for the past several weeks.

 photo RH_zps433c3982.jpg

I can't hang clothes outside because of the constant rain/drizzle and I already run my dehumidifier just about non-stop in an effort to keep mould and mildew at bay. The last thing I want to do is to add several more kg of water to the mix. Everything goes into the dryer for good reason.


Paul, I can't help thinking that a air exchange system would help you humidity problem. By warming the incoming air from 13C to 23C the RH would drop drastically, take it down to something liveable.The heating of the incoming air being done by the outgoing in the heat exchanger. I looked at these units some 15 years ago, in the UK, so the technology is well established.


We have a heat recovery ventilation system and I'm thinking it may be contributing to the problem because it introduces a steady stream of moisture laden air. I don't want to heat the lower level in mid-summer (in addition to running the dehumidifier), but that seems to be our only option.


Check the tables for the moisture content for different temperatures vs RH. Going from 100% RH at a low temperature can end up as 50% RH at the higher temperature but the actual moisture content remains the same. The air's moisture carrying capacity has increased with the increased temperature. Might be an idea to check the temperatures and RHs on the two air streams at the inlets and outlets. It should be dropping the RH by 1/3 to 1/2 depending on the internal and external temperatures. With such high humidities indoors and a, maybe, 10C difference in temperature it sounds like something is not right somewhere.


While I agree with Smeagle that those changes taken in isolation aren't enough, they would go a long way.

I have the impression nearly everyone likes solar, but scraping together the needed capital -and overcoming the fear that they might get a bum deal, means it is put off. Waiting might even be rational, as prices continue to fall.
Climate Progress was pushing solar gardens today (I've also heard this called community solar). Anyway they had a figure of 75% of the household who couldn't do solar because the rented -or didn't have a suitable roof. The idea of solar-gardens/community solar, is you buy shares of a larger scale project. I think this also makes economic sense, as small rooftop systems are more expensive per watt then larger scale groundmounts.

Michael Dawson:
I'm just not convinced that the facts align with your view. At least not yet.

Let's talk on the other side of collapse and we can work out a few things. But the problem is getting there, right?

I do not want to save everyone! I was told that my entire life and it was a lie. If we do that, they'll just have more kids, and those kids will want stuff that they were deprived of in childhood, and they'll just be more people to grow old, more kumbaya "we are the world" happy talk advertising nonsense.

The collapse is corrective! It isn't difficult to figure out. The oligarchs and very intelligent people figured it out a long time ago, which is they they all go to Wall Street to stripmine banks and corporations for all that they're worth instead of building anything productive. They know the game is coming to an end. We've already built all that we can.

Protesters to Egypt's Morsy: You have one day to step down

I listened to 20 or so minutes of coverage on the Egypt melt-down.

So what is the problem? Is Morsi and the Egyptian brotherhood passing strict religious laws that are bother people? No.

The problem is fuel shortages, rolling black-outs, and general economic problems.

Looks like (local) peak oil issues though no one dares say that.

To some degree I feel sorry for Morsi because there is no one that can solve these problems. But the problem with politicians is that no one will even admit problems exist.

Not sure it's about oil. Egypt has 84 million people, population rising nearly 2% per year, limited fertile land and not much industry.

Just a very poor country.

They are self sufficient for oil right now but no export to cover for food. As far as I know there are very few natural resurces. They have pyramids so tourism may give something but I guess cheap labour is the only path if they want to import something.

Plenty of poor countries, not so many having to adjust to a ruthless ELM. Egypt hasn't got the credit rating to be able to easily purchase energy supplies, and has in the past had government income from oil.

They still have plenty of oil for themself although not enough to sell.

If we redefine plenty to mean 8.657 bbl/day per 1,000 people. Compared to the US 44.3 barrels per 1000 people, then I totally agree.

Plenty or plenty, they produce all they use themself and do not have to use renewables.

What does that say about countries that import half their oil?

They do not have enough but they do fine as long as they have enough money and there are poor countries which do not afford to import half of their oil.

During the seventies in Sweden they used oil chipped long distances instead of locally available firewood. Times have changed and now it is quite common to use the forks from harvested trees as fuel.

45 out of 1,000 Egyptians have cars. I don't think they need that much oil. The 70% below poverty line are spending their money on food and not much else. Inflation has been very high (8%) but not runaway levels, yet.

Yeh poor people don't need petrol.

Yeah they do, we have similar ownership levels for cars, the cities will collapse without oil and so will the country. Ironically cars can be ditched when there is an oil shortage, bread delivery trucks need to keep running though.

Closer to my home, in this global village we all are in: It looks like ELM may impact Mexico within the next 10yrs, too.

Energy Export Databrowser - Mexico

Mexico probably has a lot of ultra deep water oil in the GOM but lacks the expertise to access it. The Eagle Ford also crosses into Mexico but the drilling stops at the border. The oil and gas do not stop though - the Eagle Ford wells near Big Wells Texas are pumping about 700 barrels a day now - that is about 30 miles from the border. Mexico lacks the expertise at this time to take advantage of the Eagle Ford.
There is more to reality than a simple graph.

Gas exports are also crashing, I'm not sure how much they get from gas but it looks like they have passed peak gas, and exports trending very fast toward imports

Spec's Solar PV project update:

I've been moving slowly. I need to collect on a few invoices before I have the money to buy the PV panels and inverters so I'm working on the underlying infrastructure. I've installed the Soladeck roof junction boxes and installed some conduit in the attic but it is amazingly miserable work. We got hit with a heatwave and there are only a few hours that I can work in the attic before the temperature soars to 100+degrees. And the attic requires a lot of crawling around in really tight spaces. But I did get 2 of the 3 attic conduit runs done. The last one though is in tight space that is about 1 and 3/4 feet high and requires some bends in the conduit. Damn I'll be happy when this conduit and wire pulling is done. But I'll still need to go back in to pull the wires. Ugh.

Well, I figure this is the hardest part of the job. The rest is just installing racks and wiring it up.

Does code require that the conduit be run inside, or are you putting "form before function"? I ran my conduit on the roof and down a corner of the house rather than penetrating the roof. It enters the utility room via an LB just outside the PV equipment. Considering all the PV on the roof, the conduit is barely noticable. This also kept the grounding outside the house. No sense inviting lightning into the structure.

No, it doesn't have to be run inside. But based on the best places for the PV panels and the location of the main utility panel, the shortest path was through the attic. And I do appreciate the nice clean install look. But I sure am paying for it with a difficult install.

Very good point on the lightning though. But fortunately lightning storms are very rare where I live.

You were probably thinking cost of materials equals minimize length of wiring. Easy of installation and access for maintenence is important too. I just heard the same argument applied to poor welds on the Bay Bridge. Don't blame the welders, they are doing a great job for humans under the conditions (tight spaces etc.). he thought engineers should be required to put in some time with actual construction crews, -so they can appreciate what they may be asking because of their designs.

It was an aesthetic decision in part. I've had the same decision with other things. When a cable TV guy came to my house to drill through my hardwood floor, I said "NO!". I'd rather pull the wires, something that cable & satellite TV people won't do because they are trying to do as many installs as they can quickly.

I didn't want conduit running across my roof, going over the gutter, and along the side of my house. One of the things about doing this myself is I get to do it the way I want. Just the panels up there and a single Soladeck junction box (they should be paying me for mentioning them!) makes it look clean. Of course, I do pay for it in the terms of brutal crawls in the attic among the rat poop. ;-)

"rat poop"

Conduit obligatory.


Inverters? As in microinverters and an AC power run? Can you just use Romex in the attic?

I'm sure you've looked into this.... Just sounds a little odd to be bending conduit in your attic.

Well, I needed #8 solid for grounding so I think I needed conduit for that.

You may want to check on that with your local building code / board. Where I live grounding wire is not allowed to be in a conduit. About 3 weeks ago I had grounding wire in a conduit and then had to pay an electrician to remove the violation (remove the conduit).


I too have been curious about the conduit in the attic. I have all kinds of Romex running throughout my attic , including 240V. For My house, it would seem odd to have to put conduit for micro-inverters right next to bare Romex.

Well, you guys may be right. I did the conduit because my original plan was for a traditional string based PV system and I know that did require conduit. I then switched to microinverters because of shadow issues and I figured it would be easier to get through the planning department. I'm not sure if the micro inverter based 240V AC system requires conduit. I need #10 hot1, hot2, and neutral plus #8 ground. So I guess I may have been able to use 10/4 Romex plus a #8 ground. Oh well, live & learn.

If the runs themselves don't require conduit, any connections certainly would have to be in a box.

The Soladeck roof junction boxes may have that covered.

Since it's not DC, 12-3 Romex is fine for Micros for Medium runs. Sometimes have to go to 10-3 to limit voltage rise for longer runs. There should be a chart in the Micro Inverter (MI) manual. Good Idea to limit the Number on each sting " opps I mean Branch" to 1-2 less than the maximum in the manual for a lot of reasons, ie if you replace a 215/240w with a 300 watt in years future. Copper oxidizes ... Many MI's require a DC system ground. Use Solid #6 , As per NEC. #6 does NOT have to be protected and can shunt surges via run shortest path to ground rod. AC Modules need no system Ground, only an equipment ground.

The lengths are long enough and I'm putting the maximum number of PV panels on one branch and I want to be able to expand the other such that #10 wire seemed best. I did try to minimize the voltage drop by center-feeding the bigger array.

Thicker wire is better. Even if you are up against current (wire heating) limits, it makes your system more efficient.

Thanx for the update and commentary Spec, and the commentary from Ghung and Got2Surf. Very earliest I'd be attempting something similar would be next year, probably in the fall. Not sure I can swing the costs at this point, but one can never tell. Also, chalking and insulation will come first (chalking already started. I hate mice, btw. Really, really hate them :P

I can definitely sympathize on the attic crawl and heat misery. We actually have enough space to more or less walk in the attic in many places (and these were supposed to be energy efficient homes. Hmmm.) We have Romex running all throughout the house, which I don't like, for aesthetic reasons more than anything else I guess.

The space over the ceiling itself is insulated, but the roof is not. I'm thinking about mebbe blowing in more for the ceiling and stapling up some for the roof, or would that be ill-advised?

Ghung's comment about inviting lightning inside the structure did get my attention, I admit!

Sounds like what you have is referred to as a "cold roof". Adding insulation over the ceiling will give you the biggest bang for the buck. Ideally you would have eave vents and a continuous ridge vent, the theory being warm air rises and is exhausted along with any moisture that has gotten by the vapor barrier. When adding insulation over the ceiling take care not to block the eave vents as this could lead to condensation problems in the winter.

Training intelligent systems to think on their own

The computing devices and software programs that enable the technology on which the modern world relies, says Hector Muñoz-Avila, can be likened to adolescents. Thanks to advanced mathematical formulas known as algorithms, these systems, or agents, are now sufficiently intelligent to reason and to make responsible decisions—without adult supervision—in their own environments.

The potential applications of GDA agents include military planning, robotics, computer games and control systems for electrical grids and security networks.

As autonomous computing devices and software gain wider use in society, says Muñoz-Avila, GDA agents must be able to recognize and diagnose discrepancies in their environments and take intelligent action [SkyNet].

Answer: WOPR ("Wargames"), Skynet ("Terminator"), Cylons ("Battlestar Galactica").

Question: What could possibly go wrong?

; )

Butlerian Jihad, here we come...

Thanks for broadening my horizon


I had Herbert for a guest prof in a Future of Man class at UCSB----
Little did we know how visionary it was.

Kansas firm proposes oil pipeline in North Dakota

Kansas company is seeking shipping commitments from oil producers to use a proposed pipeline that would carry crude from western North Dakota's booming oil patch to Illinois. Wichita-based Koch Pipeline Co. said Monday that oil shippers have until Aug. 14 to solicit interest in the Dakota Express Pipeline.

Koch says the pipeline could be running in 2016 and would have the capacity to move 250,000 barrels of crude daily from western North Dakota to hub in Patoka, Ill., and to the company's terminal in Hartford, Ill.

The company says it also is exploring a pipeline connection at the Patoka, Ill. hub that would further move North Dakota crude to Louisiana and the eastern Gulf Coast.

Because there was another proposed pipeline for the Bakken canceled last year, the prospects for the Koch pipeline seem unlikely.

Cancels 200,000 bpd Bakken pipeline project, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 27, 2012:

ONEOK Partners LP has cancelled plans to construct a 200,000 barrel per day pipeline to carry crude oil from the prolific Bakken shale deposit to Cushing, Oklahoma, due to a lack of long-term shipper commitments.

The End of Car Culture

A study last year found that driving by young people decreased 23 percent between 2001 and 2009. The millennials don’t value cars and car ownership, they value technology — they care about what kinds of devices you own, Ms. Sheller said. The percentage of young drivers is inversely related to the availability of the Internet, Mr. Sivak’s research has found. Why spend an hour driving to work when you could take the bus or train and be online?

Maybe people are starting to realise how dumb it is to spend an hour getting to work. I'm no expert, but people can be pretty stupid. Why spend an hour driving to work? Why indeed?

Not just that. It's a career killer. I'm in IT, and I've seen people in their 50's laid off and ruined because they didn't keep up with the state of the art. That's something you have to do off the clock (so you better find this field interesting..), and you have to do it because when your company needs to upgrade from Buzzword #22 to Buzzword #23, you have to be the one to tell the boss, not the other way around,.

An hour a day sitting in traffic is an hour you are not working, exercising, raising your kids, delighting your spouse, or learning what your industry's doing. I cannot afford that hour. If I bike to work, that's exercise right htere. If I take transit, I can read.

I was shocked at the number of kids who graduated high school with mine a few years ago who didn't have driver's licenses. At least 30%.

It was an economic decision for the most part. Between the upfront cost of a vehicle, the cost of fuel and insurance, and the hassle of dealing with all of the above, they would rather take the bus...or bum a ride from someone paying the freight.

When I graduated from high school I estimate that more than 1/2 the students had no drivers licenses. The girls. 1961. I never dated a young lady with a driver's license until 1968, and that was in Southern California.

I telecommute every workday except Mondays.

Hopefully the global telecommute trend will continue, and perhaps even have accelerated adoption.

A new study by Leonardo Maugeri (from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School)
"The Shale Oil Boom: A U.S. Phenomenon"
Study Forecasts Tripling of U.S. Shale Oil Output to 5 million b/d in 2017


EIA thinks 3 million b/d is closer to the mark:


Although their short-term energy outlook (shown as the red line on the chart) might indicate a signal they would go to a higher number.

The guy is a permanent optimist, it's gotta be a mental condition. The glass isn't just half full, it's filling up and will soon be overflowing.. into another glass. The world is dominated by people like this.

Zerohedge just got up a post presenting an alternative view to "The Shale Oil Boom: A U.S. Phenomenon".
“Don't Get Carried Away By The Shale Oil Boom”.

I believe this study has been well debunked in previous Drumbeats.

1) He's a trained economist. Not a geologist. Not a petroleum engineer.
2) He doesn't take into account the rapid depletion rate of fracked oil and gas.
3) He may even be counting formations like Green River in Colorado as proven reserves.

It sounds like he's blowing smoke for the benefit of energy investment sharks or pure peak oil denialists.

This is a new study, that focuses specifically on tight oil (not kerogen) in the U.S. and its potential replicability globally. His previous study was well-criticized so in some sense you could say his mind set has been 'pre-bunked.'

That said, 5 million b/d seems like an optimistic assessment to me. We should have a better read on the trajectory by next year. I would expect persistently high WTI prices to spur growth of the level he is calling for, if the oil is there. Rune Likvern's posts on Bakken wells from last week strongly suggests that productivity is tailing off, which would give us continued high prices but little growth in volume (sort of like the last several years of global oil production....)

"Coal companies hit by oversupply, Obama"

Biggest challenge for US coal companies is that domestic demand is falling (mostly due to utilities switching to natural gas), and they are in a poor competitive position to supply the growing markets in SE Asia because major coal exporters Australia and Indonesia are already in the neighborhood.

Yeah, the market is FAR more to do with coal's problems than Obama. Electricity demand has been weak due to a sluggish economy and more efficient usage (CFLs & LEDs instead incandescents, LCD/LED TVs instead of tubes, more efficient fridges/washers/etc, residential PV installations, etc.) And wind installations have been growing everywhere. But, yeah, mainly the low natural gas price. And for now, all of those factors are continuing. People will use coal jobs as a reason to bash Obama, it is mostly because they don't like Obama and will use anything to bash him.

One thing that surprised me a little is just how relatively quickly some of the US utilities were able to switch from coal to natural gas. Perhaps they were already well prepared for the phasing down/out of coal ? (EPA etc)

Another point is when does CTL become worth pursuing ?
I guess the EPA are unlikely to be happy about that.
But with coal prices weak and likely to stay weak, some one must be doing the numbers.
The Chinese have already built a fair amount of their petrochemical industry on coal, one wonders when they say they want to limit the burning of coal whether that includes CTL - I suspect probably not.

BTW: Sorry about the lack of floods this year :P

Most utilities have both coal and combined cycle natural gas generation. At partial load, they can one or another (coal is maybe 35% efficient, CC NG 55% efficient). So switching is a management decision.

For several decades now, most new US electrical generation has been NG (90% some years).

Add to this that NG plants are the cheapest to build and quickest to permit fossil fuel plant.

Best Hopes for More Renewables,


A small tribute to the 19 wildland firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona Sunday.

These individuals were highly trained, and at near peak fitness. Most of us would find it impossible simply carrying the tools into their workplace, much less fighting the fires.

As noted in the news, this is the worst disaster since 1933 for wildland firefighters. To have taken an entire hotshot crew is very sobering. And I believe this "perfect storm" of wildland fire conditions shall be often repeated in the years to come. You can't blame this catastrophe per se on climate change, yet most know we'll be seeing many more instances of it as climate change deepens.

Granite Mountain crew photo:

This is not a joke, sarcasm off. Maybe the right people could ask the air force to use some of it's long loiter drones, in training exercises over these teams that are directly fighting the fires to give advanced warning of windshifts, increasing danger and a hundred othe things usefull to firefighters that I don't know about. Would be able to give them great information to help fight the fires and possible escape routes. It could all happen in real time so just a couple minutes could literally get these guys to safety.

Yeah, sounds good, but sometimes "just a couple minutes" is way too long. Often when crews get burned over, especially hot shot crews, we're talking seconds. Honestly, the hot shots don't need anyone to tell them the wind has shifted. They can feel it on their skin. Also, I think the thick smoke would be a problem for drones. And there is usually air support of some kind already. As for escape, the hot shots are supposed to figure that out (escape route, safety zone, trigger points) before they engage. But again, sometimes it comes down to a matter of just a few seconds.

The fact of the matter is wildland firefighting is inherently extremely dangerous, despite our best efforts to make it safer.

Who is going to finance it?

I don't think that would be a problem. Fire fighting is incredibly expensive: the crews, the trucks, air support, mobile communications, mobile showers, laundry, caterer, thousands of bottles of Gatorade. I big fire camp is like a small city, with all the amenities. I think the cost of a drone would be insignificant in the big picture.

Just a coincident, but I just saw on the TV news 19 died in a helicopter crash in Russia.

Last year I got certified for my wildfire buffers on one of my buildings. 130' in all directions on flat ground. It is one rule in land use planning that I think should be followed along with fire resistant materials.

It is not just climate change - it is also the fact that we have been suppressing fires for so long that our forests are set up for catastrophic fires.

Historically these areas burnt more frequently, keeping ladder fuels, etc. to a minimum. We treat wild fire like it is some sort of option that we control instead of embracing it as a needed natural process. The sooner we can build buildings and change our thinking and policy to allow frequent and less intense fire the better we will all be. I can only hope the loss of these young men will not be for nothing. Sad, horribly sad, I feel for their families.

The fire triangle = heat,air and fuel. We seriously have control of only 1 of these. We need to change ourselves or it will continue to only get worse.

A similar tragedy occurred east of San Diego near the town of Santa Ysabel in 1956. The use of non violent inmates to clear brush and create fire breaks was common then. Eleven died when they were overcome by fire in rugged mountainous terrain.
I was camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park when an unattended campfire started a wildfire and saw a Hotshot crew deployed by helicopter. The nearest paved road was 5-6 miles away (4WD only) and the fire burned for days. Brave souls.

Please read:

Robert Rodale’s editorial from the September 1976 issue of Organic Gardening and Farming about personal independence

It’s Time for a New Declaration of Independence

How Independent Am I?
That’s a good question to be asking yourself in this year in which we are celebrating our 200th anniversary of the independence of our country. If you are like most Americans today, you will have to admit that you are not very independent. You are free, in the sense that you have liberty to say pretty much what you want, to worship as you please, to move about freely, to own property, to have a fair trial, and so on. Independence, though, is something else. To be independent means that you have a basic liberty of existence. You are not tied to others when you are independent. You are able to support yourself, working with your own resources. The person who is truly independent will live well no matter what happens to the rest of society.
Prior to 1776, when we were still a colony of England, our people were much more independent individually than you and I are now. America then was a country of small farmers, craftsmen working in their own shops, and storekeepers enjoying primarily local trade.
Now, by contrast, hardly any American does anything without leaning on hundreds of other people in some way. Even simple acts, when examined closely, reveal connecting threads leading to unexpected places. Consider picking your teeth. A couple of hundred years ago, gaps between molars were cleaned with a sliver pried from a convenient piece of firewood. The “tool” for the job was made on the spot by the user, at no cost. Today, toothpicks are items of commerce...Probably a thousand or more people are occupied doing dozens of jobs related to the toothpick trade.

Wonder what a Tea Party or GOP member thinks of this?

The most successful humans have been involved in interconnected societies since hunter-gatherer days, that is, as long as they have been human. The genuinely interesting question is how large of a collective society is in the best interests of the humans. Unfortunately we still have instincts that focus our sense of reciprocity to hunter-gatherer sized groups. The benefits of specialization require not only larger groups than that but productivity in food production that simply isn't possible with groups that size.


As we reap the physical benefits of the inter-connectedness of literally billions of people I sometimes wonder if your average hunter-gatherer or subsistance farmer enjoys and appreciates his life at least as much as a modern member of this complex web of which each of us is but a minute particle.

"The genuinely interesting question is how large of a collective society is in the best interests of the humans."

What is the "best interests" of "the humans"? Which humans? What interests? By what criteria do you measure "best interests".

That sentence needs a LOT of unpacking...

Well, that's an old conundrum isn't it? I think the most common definition is the most satisfaction with life for the largest number of people. But you can beat any concept to death. Future people? Young people, old people? People of my religion? Who knows? But you have to try.

Perhaps its best to try for the largest sustainable group in healthy concert with the eco system the group inhabits without conflict with outside groups.

Orlov weighs in on the subject this morning:

Communities that Abide—Part I

As we prepare, we must understand two things. The first is that little can be achieved by acting alone or as nuclear families; what is needed is a band, a clan, a tribe. The second is that we must think small: within the limits of Dunbar's number, which is somewhere between 100 and 230 individuals, and is commonly taken to be around 150. This number is based on the cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable personal relationships. Indeed, throughout much of human history, people lived in groups that rarely exceeded Dunbar's number. Larger groups are possible, but only at great expense, either in the form of exorbitant amounts of time expended on “social grooming” (a.k.a. politics) or through the imposition of authoritarian, hierarchical structures which tend to be very inefficient. Thus, larger groups are, by their very nature, less efficient, squandering resources on organizational maintenance, which smaller groups avoid. The number 150 is ubiquitous....

... It is important to note that even at such small numbers a well-designed community can provide everything its members need: housing, nutrition, education, medicine, entertainment, companionship, social security and, perhaps most important of all, a sense of belonging. To people who live with the feeling that they belong to a cohesive community, where each member puts the interests of the whole ahead of their own individual interest, this is an incredible source of power....

Dmitry is gonna need a bigger boat ;-)

"America then was a country of small farmers, craftsmen working in their own shops, and storekeepers enjoying primarily local trade."

And they were completely incapable of building the infrastructure to support solar cells, the current generation of wind turbines, the internet, or most vaccinations, smallpox having just been figured out about this time.

Complexity has costs and benefits, like most things.

Humans have never been independent. We have always banded up and pooled resources and skills. This alows us to specialize and maximize efficiency. The primary strategy of survivial is to find a group and stick to it.

What you are talking about is not individual but local independence. That is when you are in a group of people who depend on each other, but the group is small enough that you know everybody in it.

A small tribute to the 19 wildland firefighters who lost their lives in Arizona Sunday.

These individuals were highly trained, and at near peak fitness. Most of us would find it impossible simply carrying the tools into their workplace, much less fighting the fires.

As noted in the news, this is the worst disaster since 1933 for wildland firefighters. To have taken an entire hotshot crew is very sobering. And I believe this "perfect storm" of wildland fire conditions shall be often repeated in the years to come. You can't blame this catastrophe per se on climate change, yet most know we'll be seeing many more instances of it as climate change deepens.

To put this in perspective, only 21 firefighters have died previously in AZ since 1955.

My youngest kids went to HS with one of the Hotshots. Seems like most people I know from the area are either related to one of the victims or were friends with one. Lots of sadness.

In my thoughts, I return to the 1948 Mann Gulch, MT fire, where all but three of a crew of 15 smokejumpers perished.

Two of my sons, and a daughter-in-law, were wildland fire fighters.

Doug...I love ya, but please don't keep re-posting comments if they don't get through the spam filter. Wait until Kate or I approve them. It's usually not very long.

Downtown apartment dwellers unplug from the grid
'Sustainable Joes' document life with no fridge, stove or hot, running water

London, Ont., roommates Stephen Szucs and Dave Pope are living with no fridge, air conditioner, stove or hot, running water this summer after deciding to disconnect from the electrical grid for three months.

At the beginning of June, the two, who are calling themselves the "Sustainable Joes," cancelled their electricity, emptied their fridge and turned off their hot water heater in their two-bedroom apartment in a downtown London house. Until the end of August, they will be showering outside and using only the electricity they collect using a small number of solar panels.

That's enough to charge their cellphones, run their blender to make smoothies, and power three-watt LED wands so they can host board games nights for their friends, but not enough to splurge on comforts such as fans and television.

Audio interview available

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/07/01/environment-sustainab...

Hats off to ya, guys !


No refrigerator is a non-starter. I'm not fond of food poisoning, and running to the store multiple times a day would use more energy that the appliance. What I miss the most when camping is the refrigerator. An ice chest has its own limits.

Yeah PeeV, this is one of my favorite photos:

 photo solarcamel.jpg

This guy is transporting vaccines across the desert with what looks like about 120 watts of PV and a couple of portable refer units. Those guys in London got nuthin on him. Helps keep the even-toed ungulate cool.

There was a time when about 50% of my PV was dedicated to refrigeration. Helps keep the fermented grain and hops cool ;-)

The panel also provides shade for the cargo.

We probably need to build some PV hats and clothing.

Awesome photo! Thanks!

But like many tools, we're over-reliant on fridges. There are a lot of ways to eat the kinds of foods that just don't require refrigeration, and above that, we refrigerate many items that really never needed it to begin with. We also tend to think that foods in the fridge are 'safe', and I'm sure many people will eat expired and unhealthy food because it has that suggestion of being shielded, which is not necessarily a safe assumption.

While at the same time, one of my greater health worries these days is the effects of rancid oils, and I've learned that many of the common vegetable and seed oils have additives to keep you from smelling any rancidity.

Live foods. That was how people traditionally dealt with lack of refrigeration.

Some researchers even believe we've evolved to consume such foods, and we're suffering now for the lack of them. It appears the human microbiome is more important than we realized.

One time when I asked for a piece of hard salami, unsliced because it would keep better on a canoe trip, the woman behind the meat counter just about freaked out at the idea that I was going to be taking it in on a trip with no refrigeration. How did she think people kept meat before refrigeration was invented?

"How did she think people kept meat before refrigeration was invented?"

And the incidence of stomach cancer began declining about the time that refrigeration/freezing took over meat preservation, replacing the smoking process.

BHA and BHT came out about the same time, cutting down on molds in grain products too. There has been a long argue as to which is the cause of the drop in stomach cancer, if either one is responsible.

I would agree that refrigeration/freezing is a superior method of meat preservation. I'm probably reducing my life expectancy by cooking meat on a charcoal BBQ, though it seems a good trade off as the meat tastes a lot better than if it was cooked on a propane BBQ.

Hi HiH
A search of your username shows a warning re: web security, harmful, etc.
Is that you or a squatter?


Hi Tom,

I'm not sure. I use this moniker on a couple of websites I frequent (this one and Crackberry.com) and that's it. I did a quick Google search now and see that there is a website, facebook page, and so on by this same name, but they're not mine (I don't have a facebook or twitter account and I don't blog).


Good news. I was just looking for contact info to send you a link.

Sure, Tom; by all means, please feel free to pass it along. It's my given name as shown below, followed ".eldridge@aldgroup.ca".


Best hopes for TOD community member & poster Rudall... who is missing as of this posting...


Wow... thanks greenish. Hopes and prayers from here as well. Not the kind of guy who goes missing voluntarily. (Member for 7 years 20 weeks)

Best hopes he turns up OK. Over the years Ive often hiked alone, and it can be very rewarding. However, I've also been involved with volunteer SAR, and I know bad things can sometimes happen to solo hikers. Let's hope it turns out well.

I'm also a solo backpacker, and familiar with the Winds, where just about anything could happen.
Hopefully this turns out well, but time is not our friend here.
Al least it is July, and not October.

It seems odd that more details haven't been reported (that I've seen), like if they found his vehicle at the trailhead.

Randy Udall missing since last Wednesday in Wind Rivers.
Longtime Oil Drum members may know Randy Udall, who posted here sometimes as RUdall, and did lots of community renewable energy work in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, with an organization called Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE).
Hoping for the best, and lots of people are looking for him, but that is a long time to be missing.


Sen. Mark Udall’s brother, James Udall, is missing after going on a solo hike in Wyoming, the senator’s office confirmed to POLITICO.
The 61-year-old, who goes by Randy, was trekking in the Wind River Range and was supposed to come out of the mountains last Wednesday but never did. An experienced hiker, this wasn’t the first time James Udall had gone solo into those mountains.

Wow - that is a very desolate, dangerous wilderness. I fear for him.

Too many stories in that lead! Okay - here's the press playing at 'fairness' and 'class warfare' and 'down with the rich':

"The rolling country south of London is called the stockbroker belt for the residents who pay 50 percent above the U.K. average to live in pristine villages. The advent of shale oil under their lawns may shatter the idyll.

Two areas of Surrey and Sussex hold 700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil, or more than a year’s supply for Britain, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. The advent of drilling near mansions in the Wessex and Weald basins may widen the nation’s shale-energy debate, which has focused on gas in northwest England, hundreds of miles from London."

We're being asked to feel pleased that the wealthy old gray men will have to give up their 'posh' estates to give Britain oil.

The numbers: 700 million barrels. (Right! No - not right. "Estimated." Now, knock it down to half, and down to half again, after estimated becomes 'recoverable' and the energy used to recover it is expended.)

So, a few 'bloody' months of shale oil and gas. To DESTROY the greenery south of London.

700 million barrels - more like 200-300, if they're lucky.

But, they're selling it to the Brits, aren't they?

And who's gonna tell them that they can't drink any of the water in that region - for the next 1,000 years?

The 2013 EIA energy conference ran from June 15th-17th. The agenda and links to the presentations can be found at http://www.fbcconferences.com/e/eia/agendagrid.aspx.

I haven't read all of the presentations yet but found the Valuing Renewables as a Long-Term Price Hedge paper quite interesting. It proposes looking at wind energy as a hedge against rising natural gas prices by treating wind as a energy source but not capacity. I am sure there are other interesting ideas in the other presenations as well.

Correction - The conference was June 17th and 18th.

Probably for the same reason sales were so good the previous month.

In May, U.S. auto sales rose more than expected as construction workers and oil drillers bought more pickups to meet growing demand for their services, a trend major automakers expect to continue through the rest of the year.

Eight states raise their gas tax

Eight states increased their gas tax this week, according to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The largest boost was in Wyoming, which raised its gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, followed by Connecticut, California, Maryland, Kentucky, Nebraska, Georgia and North Carolina.

The increases went in to effect on July first.

"It's a marginal increase," said Ken Orski, publisher of the infrastructure industry publication Innovation NewsBriefs.

Meanwhile gas taxes in Virginia and Vermont went down.

Here in NC:

North Carolina increased its motor fuels tax to its second-highest level in history on Monday.

The increase was small, just one-tenth of a cent per gallon, but the 37.6-cents-per-gallon level is second only to the 38.9 cents per gallon that North Carolinians were paying in the first half of 2012.

The level changes twice a year in response to recent wholesale prices, which makes it more like general sales tax than most states’ per-gallon taxes. North Carolina's is 17.5 cents per gallon plus a variable component; it applies equally to gasoline and diesel fuel.


I wonder if anyone will actually notice ?

Here's a chart of average weekly petrol prices where I live (daily prices fluctuate even more) ......


I suspect our Federal Government could (hypothetically) increase tax on petrol (not diesel) by 5c/L and most people wouldn't even notice if they were not told (of course politically that just isnt going to happen).

Well, I didn't notice (I'm in California) because the price hasn't changed from what it was last week.

The coming nuclear energy crunch

As the British and American governments signal their renewed commitments to nuclear power as a clean, abundant source of energy that can fuel high growth economies, a new scientific study of worldwide uranium production warns of an imminent supply gap that will result in spiralling fuel costs in the next decades.

The study, based on an analysis of global deposit depletion profiles from past and present uranium mining, forecasts a global uranium mining peak of approximately 58 kilotonnes (kton) by 2015, declining gradually to 54 ktons by 2025, after which production would drop more steeply to at most 41 ktons around 2030. The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, concludes:

"This amount will not be sufficient to fuel the existing and planned nuclear power plants during the next 10–20 years. In fact, we find that it will be difficult to avoid supply shortages even under a slow 1%/ year worldwide nuclear energy phase-out scenario up to 2025. We thus suggest that a worldwide nuclear energy phase-out is in order."

Here is an update on the bets on uranium production and nuclear power generation that I had with Michael Dittmar who wrote the peer reviewed paper in the above article.

World uranium production in 2012 was 58394 tons.

Only Dittmars error bars prevented him from being wrong again in the year he made his prediction. He predicted a global uranium mining peak of at most 58 ± 4 ktons around the year 2015 is obtained.

I made a series of three bets with Dittmar in 2009.

1. World Uranium production (I won in 2010, 2011, 2012)
2. World Nuclear power generation bets going to 2018 (I won in 2010, lost 2009, 2011, 2012)
3. Uranium production in Kazakhstan (I won 2010, 2011)

So out of 9 bets, I have won 6 bets and lost 3.

I have won all five uranium production bets.
Dittmar tries to deny it but the 300 Terawatt hours of power that Japan and Germany have foregone each year were the margin of difference in 2011 and 2012. It looks like we will halve 2013 with one bet each and then I expect to run the table from 2014 onwards on uranium and power generation.

Before uranium from seawater, there will be more uranium from regular mines and uranium from phosphate. Uranium from seawater will come when it is commercially needed.


UEQ and Cameco commissioned through a global engineering and professional services consultancy, estimated a capital cost of US$156 million for a base case PhosEnergy plant located at the site of a 1Mtpa P2O5 phosphate facility in the south east United States capable of producing approximately 880,000 pounds of uranium per annum at an estimated cash operating cost of less than US$18 per pound.

The initial focus for commercialisation is expected to be the phosphate fertiliser industry in the USA, where UEQ estimates there is an opportunity to recover approximately 6 million pounds of uranium per annum. Operating in the USA also has several potential synergies with Cameco’s existing US operations. The worldwide PhosEnergy production opportunity is in the region of 20 million pounds of uranium per annum. (3000 to 10,000 tons per year)

Yep the Uranium price has been all downhill since Fukushima ......


which has lead to very little investment in new mine construction ......


There are plenty of mines that are non-economic at current prices before we need to be worried about sea water extraction. Longer term forecasts are for a resumption back up to $70/lb.

The study, based on an analysis of global deposit depletion profiles from past and present uranium mining....

That makes it seem like the study does not include a discovery model which would definitely make it forecast a steep decline within a few years.

There is a new Harvard study from Maugeri.



Maugeri, author of a 2012 report forecasting rapid growth of global oil production and belying the notion that oil output has “peaked,” argues in his new paper that the boom in U.S. shale oil production is central to the overall U.S. oil surge. If oil prices remain close to today’s levels, total U.S. production of all forms of oil [all liquids includes natural gas liquids and ethanol] could grow from 11.3 million barrels per day to 16 million barrels per day by 2017.

The dramatic surge in U.S. shale oil production could more than triple the current American output of shale oil to five million barrels a day by 2017, which would likely make the United States the No. 1 oil producer in the world, according to the new study by researcher Maugeri at Harvard Kennedy School.

NOTE - The United States is already the world's number one oil producer in terms of all liquid oil production. The US has 11.8 million barrels per day of all liquid oil production. This is already up 400,000 barrels per day from the end of 2012.

There's already a discussion on this going on upthread.


I know you're here to be contrary, but I really think you ought to look at the data the State of North Dakota puts out. 130 barrels per day per well isn't going to lead to oil nirvana.

I also know you focus on gross production, not net.

The WTI spot price cracked the $100/barrel mark today. This is the first time it's been above this level in over a year. Recent purchasers of gas-guzzlers may soon regret that decision.

Looks like WTI is increasing faster than Brent in the latest uptick. Libya hasn't got much press but reports coming out of there are pretty grim for oil supply.

Bolivian president's jet rerouted amid suspicions Edward Snowden on board

Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country's president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said Snowden was not on the plane. The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said: "We don't know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales."

Talk about blowing things out of proportion. Violating diplomatic code for catching a hacker and that too for something that is an open secret.

Quelle surprise !

Oil and gas industry emission rules still not ready from Ottawa
Obama's climate change speech and coming cabinet shuffle may have played part in delay

For the second time in two years, the federal government has missed its target to publish greenhouse gas emission regulations for Canada's oil and gas sector.

Environment Minister Peter Kent told the House of Commons environment committee in March that he hoped to have the regulations ready "by mid-year." Now, at the midpoint of the year, those hopes appear to have been dashed.

"The regulations will be announced in due course," an official in the minister's office told CBC News when asked to comment. The same official went on to add that work on the regulations is progressing and the department is working with a variety of stakeholders, the industry and the provinces.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/07/02/pol-oil-and-gas-regul...

I would expect nothing less from the Harper government.