Drumbeat: July 5, 2013

Saudi taps new oil areas in plan to preserve capacity

(Reuters) - Saudi Aramco plans to develop two less productive areas of major oilfields, industry sources said, as Riyadh takes care to maintain excess capacity for the long term, even while non-OPEC oil supplies are on the rise.

The plan to increase capacity from Khurais and Shaybah by a total of 550,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2017 will take the strain off Ghawar, the world's largest conventional oilfield, two sources familiar with the plans said.

Such projects are not intended to raise Saudi production capacity beyond the current stated 12.5 million bpd, Saudi oil officials have previously said.

After pumping its biggest fields at near record rates to make up for lost supplies from Libya and Iran over the last two years, the kingdom wants to focus on less productive fields to ease pressure on aging reservoirs to help keep their output robust.

Concern over Saudi Arabia's summer diesel consumption surge

In the past, Saudi Arabia would have been able to satisfy all of its fuel requirements, including for diesel, through its own means. But as the population has grown, so has the need for fuel to power an ever-growing electricity generation network. According to the Saudi Electricity Regulatory Authority (Ecra), demand has risen by 7 per cent to 10 per cent annually during the past 5 years, one of the highest growth rates in the world. This is projected to continue until 2020.

Meanwhile the kingdom's production of diesel has remained relatively flat. So while there is still a vast amount of oil under ground, the country has not been able to extract and refine it fast enough to keep pace with demand. As a result, Saudi Arabia, the kingpin of oil, has had to start importing diesel, among other oil products.

At first, the volumes were small. But in line with galloping demand, these volumes have ballooned.

This summer, the country is on track to import record high volumes of diesel. The national oil company, Saudi Aramco, is believed to have imported 9.5 million barrels of diesel last month alone, up from an estimated 7 million barrels in May.

OPEC Crude Exports to Rise, Oil Movement Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will boost shipments by 2.3 percent through late July as driving demand peaks during the northern hemisphere summer, according to Oil Movements.

The group that supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil will ship 24.18 million barrels a day in the four weeks to July 20, up from 23.64 million in the period to June 22, the tanker tracker said in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador.

OPEC oil exports earn $1.24 trillion in 2012, up 8.5% from 2011

London (Platts) - OPEC's collective oil export earnings rose 8.5% to $1.24 trillion in 2012 from $1.14 trillion in 2011, the oil producer group said Friday in its latest annual report. It stressed that the 2012 figure was a preliminary estimate.

The group pumped an average 31.13 million b/d of crude last year, which compares with 2011 average output of 29.78 million b/d. OPEC uses secondary sources to monitor its output.

WTI Oil Trades Near 14-Month High on Outlook for Jobs

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near a 14-month high, poised for a second weekly gain, on speculation a strengthening U.S. economy will boost demand.

Futures were little changed in New York after closing on July 3 at $101.24 a barrel, the highest since May 3, 2012. U.S. employers probably created almost as many jobs in June as in the prior month, according to a Bloomberg News survey before a Labor Department report today. Crude inventories in the world’s largest energy consumer fell by 10.3 million barrels last week, the most this year, government data showed two days ago.

Russian Urals Crude Oil Premium Rises to 20-Year High

Russian Urals crude jumped to the highest premium to Dated Brent in at least 20 years after a decline in seaborne exports.

Urals was at 73 cents a barrel more than Dated Brent in the Mediterranean, the highest since at least July 1991 when Bloomberg started tracking the data. Over the past two decades, Urals has usually traded at a discount to Brent, averaging almost $4 less than the North Sea benchmark in 2005.

Egypt's Islamists to hold 'Friday of Rejection'

CAIRO — Egypt braced for more unrest Friday as Islamists prepared to take to the streets to protest against what they are calling a military coup.

A coalition of Islamist groups that includes the Muslim Brotherhood called for peaceful demonstrations, which are set to kick off early afternoon on what they have dubbed a "Friday of Rejection."

Gulf drive against Hezbollah may hit ordinary Shi'ites

DUBAI (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states are punishing Hezbollah for its role in Syria by expelling Lebanese expatriates linked to the group in a move that could victimize Shi'ite Muslims with no ties to the militants apart from their shared religious faith.

Set up by Shi'ite power Iran in the 1980s to fight Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon, the Islamist group has sent its guerrillas to fight alongside the army in Syria's civil war, leading to defeats for rebels armed by some Gulf Arab states.

US moved too fast on new sanctions ahead of Rowhani presidency: Iran

Tehran (Platts) - The United States should have waited for Iran's new government to settle in before bringing into effect on July 1 the latest layer of sanctions aimed at Tehran's nuclear program, Iranian oil minister Rostam Ghasemi said Friday.

"We always seek to interact with the world. It was only fair that they [the US] had waited for the new government to take office...given that people stabilized the system with so many votes and the new president was elected with the slogan of interacting with the world," Ghasemi said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Russian PM approves draft deal for South Stream gas line offshoot to Macedonia

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved the draft agreement with Macedonia to build an offshoot from the South Stream gas pipeline to the Balkan country, according to the government website.

Under Medvedev's orders published Friday, Russia's energy ministry and the ministry of foreign affairs have been asked to hold talks with Macedonia regarding the draft agreement.

OMV turns towards upstream after Nabucco rejection

A long-held pipeline dream last week came to an end for OMV, the Austrian oil and gas company that is part-owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic).

The Nabucco pipeline project, and ambitious project to link the Shah Deniz gasfield in Azerbaijan to the European market, was rejected in favour of a rival pipeline.

Pakistan, China set sights on Arabian Sea link

BEIJING (AP) -- China and Pakistan set their sights Friday on developing a transport link through rugged mountains and lawless lands, a route they hope will boost economic growth and bring critical oil supplies to power-hungry China much faster.

A broad agreement for the "economic corridor" was among eight pacts signed following a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) transport link was described as a "long-term plan" to connect Kashgar in northwestern China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, likely by road in the beginning and possibly by rail later.

Nigeria’s Jonathan Seeks Infrastructure Funds From China

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will take a group of state governors and key ministers to China next week, seeking to strengthen ties with the Asian nation in everything from power production to bond buying.

At Anchor Off Lithuania, Its Own Energy Supply

KIAULES NUGARA, Lithuania — The first Soviet republic to reclaim its independence was Lithuania. But more than two decades later, the energy industry of this European Union member still feels like an outpost of a creaking empire run from Moscow.

Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, intends to change that.

This straight-talking politician, who holds a martial arts black belt, has enthusiastically backed a deal to anchor a ship near this tiny island and put it to work processing deliveries of liquefied natural gas into fuel for Lithuanian homes and businesses. That would break the stranglehold of Gazprom, the Russian government-controlled export monopoly that now supplies all of Lithuania’s gas.

Oscar Winner Woos West in Bid to Defeat Baku Oil Dynasty

Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibrahimbayov says two things are certain about his electoral race against Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, whose family has run the oil-rich Caspian state for more than four decades.

The first is that the challenger will win more votes in the October contest. The second is that the incumbent will falsify the tally. “What happens next will depend on the will of the people,” Ibrahimbayov, 74, said in an interview two days after uniting Azeri opposition groups behind his candidacy.

Nigerian government holds crisis talks with oil unions over strike threats

Lagos (Platts) - The Nigerian government, led by oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke held talks Thursday with the country's two oil worker unions, in a bid to stave off a strike that could potentially disrupt oil production and exports.

Nigerian blue-collar oil workers union Nupeng on Tuesday called off a planned three-day strike to protest against planned job cuts by foreign companies. It has, however, threatened to go on indefinite strike if the government fails to halt plans to sack its members as well as regularize the employment status of several hundred others.

BB Energy Raises Loan on Commodity Trader Debt Demand

B.B. Energy Holdings NV, a closely-held oil trader, increased its first unsecured credit line to $125 million, taking advantage of banks’ willingness to commit funds to the sector.

“The appetite from banks to lend to traders is there, including from banks that are not historically trade-finance providers,” Riccardo Greco, BB Energy’s London-based chief financial officer, said in a telephone interview. The loan can be used by any of the group’s trading offices, he said.

Veolia May Raise Revenue From Oil Sector Five-Fold: CEO

Veolia Environnement SA, Europe’s biggest water company, may boost revenue from oil and gas operations five-fold to as much as 5 billion euros ($6.4 billion) in four years, aided by shale drilling and the dismantling of aging offshore platforms.

The hydrocarbon business is “rapidly growing and rich,” Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot said today at a news conference where he detailed plans to take the utility into areas more closely linked to industry. “Profit margins are attractive.”

Viridian Taps Macquarie in Bid for Irish Bord Gais Unit

Ireland is selling the business as part of an accord stemming from its 67.5 billion-euro international bailout in 2010. GDF Suez SA, France’s largest utility by market value, and Germany’s E.ON SE may bid for the business, the Sunday Business Post reported March 17. Keppel Corp., the world’s biggest oil-rig maker, based in Singapore, is also interested in the company, the same newspaper reported May 19.

The Evolution Of America's Energy Sources Since 1776 [CHART]

The Energy Information Administration offers this interesting historical chart showing how energy sources have evolved in the United States.

Shale Backers Sought Scalp, Fired French Energy Minister Says

Former French Environment Minister Delphine Batho said her support for a ban on shale drilling and reducing dependence on nuclear power cost her her job.

“The battle crystallized notably on the question of shale gas and more discreetly on the reduction of nuclear in France,” Batho said at a press conference yesterday at the National Assembly in Paris. “These forces that I am talking about wanted my scalp.”

Piper Alpha disaster prompted drastically improved safety measures in the oil industry, say experts

SAFETY measures in the offshore industry have improved by "light years" since the Piper Alpha disaster, but workers need to remain vigilant and be aware of the "consequences of failure".

Industry experts and union leaders said lessons had been learned in the 25 years since 167 men lost their lives in the North Sea, but incidents like the Deepwater Horizon fire in 2010 showed things could still go wrong.

Nuclear Cuts Vindicate Merkel as RWE Profit Dips

Germany’s $710 billion green-energy drive is cutting production at nuclear reactors, the nation’s most profitable large-scale plants, as power prices slump to a six-year low.

The proportion of hours during which electricity traded at less than 30 euros ($39) a megawatt-hour, the level at which UBS AG says reactors start losing money, rose to 50 percent last month, the most since 2007 and 92 percent more than a year ago, data from the Epex Spot SE exchange show. RWE AG cut output at its Gundremmingen plant near Munich 31 times in the first half as solar and wind output jumped, compared with 18 times in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The reductions, which typically last for hours at a time, underscore how Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to replace atomic power with renewable energy within a decade is gaining ground at the expense of profit at utilities from RWE to EON SE. The boom in green power, coupled with the lowest demand in 10 years, sent the average operating margin at 15 European utilities to the lowest since 2002, company data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Belgium wants lion's share of Tihange 1 nuclear profits

(Reuters) - Belgium will guarantee the costs of extending the life of one of the country's oldest nuclear reactors but will take 70 percent of the profits to invest in other energy sources, Belgium's energy minister said on Friday.

In July 2012, Belgium decided to delay the closure of Tihange 1 until 2025, due to concerns that it would not have enough alternative forms of energy.

“Pandora’s Promise” and “Switch” raise the right issues but get nuclear wrong

Two recent movies, Pandora’s Promise and Switch, promote massive changes in the U.S. energy economy; both embrace nuclear power and point to France as the nuclear success story. The two-part company, however, on natural gas: Switch sees gas plus nuclear as the major energy sources of the future, but Pandora gives gas no significant role.

These are “good-bad” movies. They effectively raise the right issues but crash on flawed conclusions. Pandora correctly places energy at the heart of the most important environmental issue: climate change. Switch nods to the importance of climate change, but its forte lies in portraying the energy economy as a whole.

NY homeowners sue power companies for devastating fires during Superstorm Sandy

Lawyers for 120 of the homeowners whose residences went up in flames during Superstorm Sandy sued the utilities in charge on Tuesday for failing to kill the power as rising seawater sparked off the electrical system last October.

About 150 homes in all were destroyed as enormous fires swept through the communities of Breezy Point and Rockaway Beach as Sandy pummeled the East Coast on Oct. 29.

Fire officials determined in January that the fires broke out because the power was still on when rising seawater came in contact with the electrical system.

Utility Line Worker Cuts Hobble Emergency Storm Response

Four days before Hurricane Sandy struck in October, Consolidated Edison Co. (ED) sought 1,800 power-line-repair workers from its fellow utilities to help respond to the massive storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean.

It got just 32. Three days later, the New York-based utility boosted its request to 2,500. It got 171.

Con Edison’s difficulties getting help from the industry’s mutual aid program, under which U.S. utilities send workers to other regions during emergencies, show how years of cost cuts and regulatory pressure to keep prices low has left them less prepared to restore power from the biggest natural disasters.

Masdar looking beyond Thames offshore wind farm

Masdar is seeking its next UK clean energy project after the world's largest offshore wind farm was inaugurated in the Thames estuary yesterday.

The London Array, an assembly of 175 turbines that rise out of the waters of the Thames estuary that can produce up to 630 megawatts of electricity, owes its existence in no small part to Abu Dhabi.

Solar Plane: Making clean tech sexy, adventurous

WASHINGTON (AP) — In noisy, energetic New York City, the pilots of a spindly plane that looks more toy than jet hope to grab attention in a surprising way: By being silent and consuming little energy.

This revolutionary solar-powered plane is about to end a slow and symbolic journey across America by quietly buzzing the Statue of Liberty and landing in a city whose buildings often obscure the power-giving sun. The plane's top speed of 45 mph is so pokey, it would earn honks on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Desertec’s collapse unlikely to affect EU energy plans

The collapse of a €400 billion plan to build solar plants in North Africa to power Europe will not affect Brussels’ energy plans, say experts.

Earlier this week the Desertec Foundation finally pulled the plug on the project, becoming the the latest in a series of companies that have terminated their membership with the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which was tasked with building the farms.

U.S. Floating Offshore Wind Pilot Project Put On Hold

LONDON -- Norwegian energy company Statoil has announced that it will put its 12 MW, US $120 million Hywind Maine floating offshore wind project, planned for construction off the coast of Maine in the U.S., on indefinite hold.

Special UN Report: Biofuels Impact Food Prices and Availability

A new report from the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) out of Rome, for the United Nations, implicates biofuels as a cause of high food prices. The June 2013 report, released today, is titled, “Biofuels and food security” (PDF). This comprehensive document includes many interesting graphics and it attempts to cover all aspects of biofuels production.

Peak everything

he surge in production from ultra deep water and on land unconventional plays has indeed produced a bump on the order, or even a little greater than what came after Prudhoe came on line in the 80s. But we're still below that level and well below the point where Peak Oil for the USA came in 1970.

So anyway, as far as corn and corn prices are concerned, what does it mean? Well, regardless of whether we had a massive government corn ethanol program, I'll submit that over time the cost of various forms of calories will tend to equalize with each other. I haven't done the calculations lately but the last time I did, it looked like $80 crude oil made corn worth about $5/bushel on an equivalent basis.

Allan Savory: “Agriculture is More Destructive than Coal Mining”

He named some of the factors related to this soil loss, which included the burning of grasslands around the world, the loss of forests, the loss of biodiversity, and the silting of continental shelves.

Then, he explained to us that because healthy soils are an important natural reservoir of water, today we have a big problem of decreased effectiveness of rainfall due to degraded and eroded soil. This is caused by agricultural practices, not by climate change. Because healthy soils sequester Carbon, large soil losses and resting soils have led to a reduced capacity to mitigate climate change. So, agriculture is more destructive than coal mining or anything else going on in the world today.

Syrian crop risks threaten to worsen food shortages: U.N.

ROME (Reuters) - Four million Syrians, a fifth of the population, are unable to produce or buy enough food, and farmers are short of the seed and fertilizers they need to plant their next crop, the United Nations said on Friday.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said Syria's domestic wheat production over the next 12 months is likely to be severely compromised and that it will need to import 1.5 million metric tons of wheat for the 2013/14 season.

Poachers Are Elusive Catch in City Waters

Sharp cuts from the federal sequestration meant furloughs this spring for the United States Park Police officers who patrol the bay, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Those officers are routinely called away to guard the Statue of Liberty.

State authorities have faced their own problems; Hurricane Sandy destroyed a dock used by the officers from the Department of Environmental Conservation, forcing them to keep boats many miles outside the bay.

“We’re not catching 50 percent of the people,” Captain Lopez estimated. “We just don’t have the manpower.”

Hoping for the Worst

The idea that capitalism will collapse under its own weight has much less traction today, in our markedly anti-utopian times, but it does appear in various forms. I’ve mentioned peak oil: the group Deep Green Resistance argue that come 2015 industrial capitalism will start to unravel as a result of diminished oil reserves and will be ripe for take down by a small group of committed militants. We also saw, at the start of the financial crisis, some glee on the radical left that capitalism was unravelling and that our time had finally come. Clearly, that didn’t turn out so well and such euphoria has mainly receded. But it has a hold on the imagination of leftists of various stripes, from anarchist to Marxist, such as Immanuel Wallerstein who draws on the notion of Kondratiev waves to argue that capitalism has been stagnating since the early 1970s and in twenty to thirty years will no longer be with us, replaced by either something better or worse.

Labrador fires shut down highway, affect air quality

Stubborn forest fires in western Labrador have forced police to again shut the main highway, as smoke from fires in the area and Quebec affected air quality hundreds of kilometres away.

The Trans-Labrador Highway near Wabush — the mining town that was temporarily evacuated last weekend — was shut late Friday night, with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary saying it was too dangerous to provide escorts for vehicles needing to reach communities in Labrador's interior.

Church Dropping Fossil Fuel Investments

The United Church of Christ has become the first American religious body to vote to divest its pension funds and investments from fossil fuel companies because of climate change concerns.

European Parliament approves backloading proposals

Plans to temporarily remove permits to pollute under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) have been passed by the European Parliament at a plenary vote in Strasbourg.

The vote (by 344 to 311) in favour of ‘backloading’ is being seen as a signal of support in EU climate policy and paves the way for a renewed drive in green investment.

After Failed Attempt in April, Europe Approves Emissions Trading System

LONDON — The European Parliament approved on Wednesday a measure intended to revive sagging prices and confidence in the European Union’s emissions trading system, the centerpiece of Europe’s effort to cut greenhouse gases and a model for similar systems around the world.

The vote had taken on symbolic importance because Parliament had rejected a similar proposal in April. That vote threatened the carbon trading system, which has been emulated globally as a way of using markets to curb greenhouse gases.

Dangers of climate change must force N.J. to reduce carbon footprint

Businesses did not flee the United States when child labor laws were passed in the early 20th century, or when national minimum-wage laws were introduced in the 1930s.

And, not surprisingly, businesses were not destroyed when the Clean Air and Clean Water acts were adopted.

There is absolutely no reason to believe efforts to reduce our carbon footprint will result in massive job loss.

Let's fight rising sea, not plan to flee inland

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank recently wrote that coastal areas, including the Florida Keys, New Orleans, and parts of Long Island "eventually may need to be abandoned to higher seas. As a start toward depopulating those areas, the federal government may need to cut off disaster insurance."

This is nonsense.

Coastal towns need to make wise decisions about where new waterfront projects are permitted and how they are built, and let's appreciate the great storm-absorbing capacity of tidal marshes and dunes. But talk of depopulating a thriving beach community on the basis of unproven projections is extreme.

How to combat global warming and prosper

In his recent speech on climate change, President Barack Obama warned that "someday, our children and our children's children will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?"

He's probably right. Then they'll say, "Why the heck didn't you pass a carbon tax?" And we won't be able to give them a good reason.

Industries rip climate-change plan to cut coal-fired power

BOW, N.H. — President Barack Obama’s push to fight global warming has triggered condemnation from the U.S. coal industry across the industrial Midwest, where state and local economies depend on the health of an energy sector facing strict new pollution limits.

But such concerns stretch even to New England, an environmentally focused region that long has felt the effects of drifting emissions from Rust Belt states.

Charles Krauthammer: Obama’s global-warming folly

Net effect: tens of thousands of jobs killed, entire states impoverished. This at a time of chronically and crushingly high unemployment, slow growth, jittery markets and deep economic uncertainty.

But that’s not the worst of it. This massive self-sacrifice might be worthwhile if it did actually stop global warming and save the planet. What makes the whole idea nuts is that it won’t. This massive self-inflicted economic wound will have no effect on climate change.

The have-nots are rapidly industrializing. As we speak, China and India together are opening one new coal plant every week. We can kill U.S. coal and devastate coal country all we want, but the industrializing Third World will more than make up for it. The net effect of the Obama plan will simply be dismantling the U.S. coal industry for shipping abroad.

The Amazing Energy Race

But I would not get caught up in the anti-carbon pollution details of the president’s speech. I’d focus on the larger messages. The first is that we need to reorder our priorities and start talking about the things that are most consequential for our families, communities, nation and world. That starts with how we’re going to power the global economy at a time when the planet is on track to grow from seven billion to nine billion people in 40 years, and most of them will want to live like Americans, with American-style cars, homes and consumption patterns. If we don’t find a cleaner way to grow, we’re going to smoke up, choke up and burn up this planet so much faster than anyone predicts. That traffic jam on the Beijing-Tibet highway in 2010 that stretched for 60 miles, involved 10,000 vehicles and took 10 days to unlock is a harbinger of what will come.

From link up top:
Saudi taps new oil areas in plan to preserve capacity

The plan to increase capacity from Khurais and Shaybah by a total of 550,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2017 will take the strain off Ghawar, the world's largest conventional oilfield,...

Such projects are not intended to raise Saudi production capacity beyond the current stated 12.5 million bpd, Saudi oil officials have previously said.

Hmm, what are the Saudis trying to say here:

  • Ghawar has peaked, and now we have spend billions on the less productive areas from Khurais and Shaybah to make up the difference?
  • We've never ever had a production capacity of 12.5 million bpd. We can't even sustain a production of 10 million bpd?
  • Manifa production has been less than expected, and can't make up production decline in Ghawar?
  • We've finally admitted that Ghawar is in terminal decline, but we don't really want to say this?

The persian gulf have supplied huge amounts of cheap oil for decades but one day sooner or later the world will discover they have started to produce less despite a will to produce more.

I think Saudi arabia produced more oil per day before than right now so the time might already have come for them.

According to the Energy Export Databrowser, they have been exporting roughly at a plateau since appox 1990, but their internal consumption has appeared to roughly double in the same time span.

I had read the number for march 9.14 million barrel per day but this is not important anyway because it is just a few months.

They state themself they do not intend to raise Saudi production capacity but they will increase production to take the strain off Ghawar. So if they plan to increase production capacity outside Ghawar and still do not plan to increases total production capacity I deduce they expect lower production capacity from Ghawar.

"Why the heck didn't you pass a carbon tax?" And we won't be able to give them a good reason.

Considering that 30% of the money goes to investment banks - an entity that has bupkisk and squatski to do with reducing Carbon along with the Carbon projects being only 30% effective, why should just a tax plan get passed?


BIG SOUTHERN SUNSPOTS: One of the biggest sunspot groups of Solar Cycle 24 is emerging near the sun's southeastern limb. AR1785 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares. Another active region trailing behind it, AR1787, is only slightly less potent, with a magnetic field capable of M-class eruptions. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the sprawling complex during the early hours of July 5th:

These sunspots are a sign that the sun's southern hemisphere is waking up. For most of the current solar cycle, the northern half of the sun has dominated sunspot counts and flare production. The south has been lagging behind--until now. June brought a surge in southern sunspots, and the trend is continuing in July. This "southern awakening" could herald a double-peaked Solar Maximum due in late 2013-early 2014.

Class X? Hrmmmm

There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.

Wouldn't that be a kicker if TOD goes offline ahead of schedule due to a Class X hit?

The only X flares on Solarham's event list for this year occured when Murcury transited between Venus and the Sun,they were not Earth directed.
Murcury is now between us and the Sun. Go to Solarham.net,click on the 'CME Prediction Models', then hit the 'Goddard' model to see the show as updated.
The 'Goddard' loop doesn't show all the other planets, however. For further investigation into planetary rotation and solar cycle/flare event history/prediction, go to and download SimSolar.com. You can choose dates between 1915 to 2086 and cross reference with google searches of Solar cycles and flare events.
What are the predictions for the next Solar cycle(s)? Might be worth checking into..

This chart shows Solar cycles/Jupiter-Earth distance and says it all:

Also, Jupiter is on the far side of the Sun and there has been more Solar flare action on the far side recently like this:

This solar cycle continues to under-perform. No solar doom in sight :-)

However we might be entering a "Grand Minimum"

Suppose we have to wait and see.

The TSI is barely 1366 W/m2 instead of it peaking between 1366.5 and 1367 according to PMOD-WRC: Solar Constant.

No solar doom in sight
Not so sure. Maybe the small to medium sized spots and flares bleed off the energy, and low activity simply mean the magnetic energy is building up just out of sight?

The mysterious difference between ordinary volcanoes and supervolcanoes, is not the level of activity, but that the former have innumerable small eruptions, whereas supervolcanoes do it all in one go. Maybe superflares work similarly?

Magnetic field strength still seems to be following the path projected by Livingston/Penn


There latest published paper is http://www.leif.org/research/apjl2012-Liv-Penn-Svalg.pdf "DECREASING SUNSPOT MAGNETIC FIELDS EXPLAIN UNIQUE 10.7 cm RADIO FLUX" (September 2012).

A recent study of sunspot records suggests that the Maunder Minimum began with two small sunspot cycles with roughly the same amplitude as predicted by our extrapolation for Cycle 25 (Vaquero et al.2011).

Finally, it is interesting to note that there seems to be a strange lack of the normal precursors for Cycle 25 as observed with helioseismic and coronal emission line indicators (Hill et al.2011; Altrock 2011)

Still the sun is, I'm sure, more than capable of surprising us. Hopefully not too unpleasantly...

The storage systems for highly radioactive used reactor cores at San Onofre is not “hardened” against anything significant.

In a free market, nuclear power would have died for financial reasons by now. But that’s not happening fast enough, since various regulatory agencies keep the plants profitable for their owners. But every day the world continues to use nuclear power, the size of the problem the industry leaves behind increases by about 10 tons nationally and 50 tons globally.


Biased of course, but overall a decent cogent condensation of various inherent risks of present day fuel rod storage and one persons viewpoints on how to best deal with it.

If anyone has any info if the immediate next generation of nuclear reactors planned will have anything new and improved about their storage of spent fuel cores I would appreciate input. Merely fixing the decades old problem of the Mark I's suspended fuel pools to me is not anything new.

Dr. John Clague who holds the chair in natural hazard research at Simon Fraser University says that the primary damage to the landscape from the extreme flooding will appear in the widening of river channels that must be taken to account in the recovery efforts.

This issue becomes much more serious when dealing with pipelines that run east to west, such as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines. East-west pipelines—more than the north-south lines that have been typical in Alberta and Saskatchewan—cross an extraordinary number of watersheds. Each crossing is vulnerable to extreme changes in the movement of water.


Hoping For the Worst - Up Top

I'm amazed by the amount of philosophical effort people are putting forth regarding collapse (This also includes Greer.)

I'm a doomer who expects some kind of societal collapse but I sure as heck don't hope for it to occur. I have no philosophical basis for this belief. Rather it's, "What isn't sustainable can't be sustained." Anyone on TOD knows the litany of things that are unsustainable in today's world.

I live in the boondocks and know how hard life can be without the goods and services we currently receive. Why would I "want" to make my life even more difficult?


From the "deep green" perspective (which I largely share), human lives will have to get much less comfortable, and humans will have to get much rarer, for the rest of the biosphere (and by extension, humans themselves) to have a chance of thriving or even surviving.

This is one of the reasons I'm going to miss the Drumbeat so much. I can't stand the endless pseudo-philosophical babbling that goes on on most of the other peak oil / collapse sites (especially Greer).

Hi Todd,

You mentioned in the End of TOD thread that you had put together some thoughts for a Campfire post. In a reply to Ghung downthread, I mentioned a site that's opened in the last couple of days - there's a forum there ("Fireside Chat") which might be a good place to post... what's the worst that can happen?

Thanks for the heads up. I'll check it out. The article was an outgrowth of a series of posts that Aniya and I had about post-peak education a long time ago. It's on my old computer; I wonder if it still works.


I'm with you on this, collapse is hard. There is nothing romantic about living in a village with things collapsing all around you. The only one's who welcome collapse are those who have never lived a hard life.

However I didn't get the impression that Greer was trying to sugar coat it. He's merely suggesting coping mechanisms and technologies that will fill the gap so that the transition can be made easier, for example he talks about learning how to operate a slide rule and a ham radio which IMO is a good idea.

The notion that the current global civilization of 7 billion people will collapse into a state where calculators and computers are replaced by slide rules is ridiculous. Even if oil reaches $500 or $1000 a barrel, industrial civilization can be easily maintained in its current state by throwing the poorest "useless" hundreds of millions people overboard (by isolating and starving them). Which, I'm afraid, is exactly what will happen in the following decades.

Well, he's not saying that 7 billion can live on slide rules, at least not from what I know. In fact he is not even giving any specific advice on the economy or how to live. He maintains that he doesn't know anything about the world outside of US and seeking advice from him on it would be a bad idea.
I think he mentioned something about not taking advice from clueless white men and for that statement alone I read his blog regularly.

But that doesn't mean that learning to operate a slide rule is a bad idea. It's about personal experiences and solutions, there are no hard and fast rules for survival. For me learning to operate a HAM radio or a slide rule makes sense because very few people here know how to build and operate them. My post collapse (if there is ever one) job resume could use these skills. Learning farming on the other hand has very little use for me because majority of people in this country are farmers and I'd be competing against a lot of people who are way more skilled for a lot longer than I am. I also remember an argument on TOD about buying gold where someone said that you can't eat gold, but I know that your fields can be burnt down and land confiscated, in such a situation you'd have to move. Some gold would come in very handy then.

Most of the blogs are focused on the western world which from my experiences is extremely dependent on it's machines and consumer spending so I understand the repeated focus on thrift, building human networks and psychologically coping with poverty but these are things which I grew up with so it has very little relevance to me. Instead I try to pick up bits and pieces from every blog which suit me, sometimes it's TOD, sometimes it's Greer's or Dmitry's.

I think Greer's main focus is the theory of catabolic collapse which to me appears to be the only viable theory on collapse right now. Barring catastrophes, a fast crash looks highly unlikely.

Industrial civilization can be easily maintained? Even throwing overboard 6 billion people still leaves you with demand not far below where it is today. I agree that humans are K selected species so hierachial behaviour will be a prominent factor in a collapsing society.

Industrial society is dependent on many resources, some of them critical. I would not say that poor and useless people are an important resource, more likely a waste product. Its the limitations imposed by the lack of resources, as well as the build up in waste that causes collapse. It could be either, or both. The fact remains that in a finite system you cannot have endless consumption of resources, and no animal can live off of its own wastes.

The point is that there will be no sudden collapse and no sudden "running out" of resources. Everything will just get more and more expensive and difficult, for a very long time, moving on a long tail of the curve. And during that long time, the K-selected hierarchy will exclude more and more people, so that the living standard at the (constantly shrinking) top can remain the same. When I look at the current developments, I'm starting think there are still enough resources for this process to last for centuries. Of course, it will not be pretty for most of us, who will find ourselves outside the "selection". You could compare it to Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries, a stagnant, overpopulated mess, which none the less provided a very comfortable living for a tiny group of feudals at the top. If those at the top finally realize that they need to limit resource consumption to maintain the system, they will limit it, by force. And such a system could, in theory, continue indefinitely, with population and consumption restricted by top-down violence.

The point is that there will be no sudden collapse and no sudden "running out" of resources.

The world has no $5 a barrel oil - is that not "running out of of a resource"?

The people of Baghdad used to enjoy 24x7 electrical power. Then over the course of a few days they no longer had 24x7 power and years later still lack 24x7 power. Is that not a "sudden collapse"?

How about when an army opts to target your solar panels? Is that not a resource you were using "running out"?

If those at the top finally realize that they need to limit resource consumption to maintain the system, they will limit it, by force.

Finally realize? Has such not went on for years in various local areas?

Going from 24/7 power to 0 power is a sudden collapse. Going from 24/7 to partial power is a partial collapse, or catabolic if you prefer. Going from $20 oil to $111 oil isn't a sudden running out, going from having 75mbpd down to 10mbpd of oil would be a sudden running out.
I suppose a sudden running out would be when even people that can afford it, can't obtain it. Maybe like toilet paper in Venezuela, or twinkies etc.

Going from $20 oil to $111 oil isn't a sudden running out,

It is 'running out' of the $20 a barrel stock. And if you have $30 in your pocket - you ain't getting a barrel of oil at $111 a barrel.

I don't remember if it was one of the 'ill conceived campfires', a key post, or a drumbeat that spoke of "rationing by price".

But you are still getting some oil, just not a full barrel anymore.

I actually broadly agree with that assessment. Though I am reminded of an example of the collapse of the Roman Empire, where the standard of pottery found in a Kings kitchen was lower then anything found even 100years before. I'm sure he was living large compared to the masses, but still like a peasant compared to his ancestors.

Consider Germany in the 1930s. There was economic contraction. But instead of the type of response you seem to suggest would happen, the Germans went crazy. Why don't you expect that to happen in the peak oil scenario?

WHO Convenes Emergency Talks on MERS Virus

The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the deadly MERS virus, but said the move did not mean it was hiking its global alert level.

... "It means that if in the future we do see some kind of explosion, or some big outbreak, or we think the situation has really changed, we will already have a group of emergency committee experts who are really up to speed, so we don't have to go through a steep learning curve."

The MERS meeting will be only the second ever held. The last was during the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, which is believed to have claimed tens of thousands of lives, raising fears of a pandemic like the Spanish Flu crisis which killed millions after World War I.

I've started a Yahoo group for anyone who desires to leave their contact info:

Group name: TOD Refugee Registry - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TODRegistry

I'm not sure how Yahoo groups work, so any offers of advice will be appreciated. I suggest folks use 'encripted' email addresses. Apologies to those who don't have, oand need to, set up a Yahoo account; seemed the best option. Suggestions on other options will also be appreciated.

Hi Ghung,

A (very) few of us have already migrated to http://thedrumbeat.no-ip.biz/

There's a lack of content at the moment (not surprising since it's only a day old!) but I think there's a chance to build something. I'd like to think there's a real desire to rebuild the TOD community, certainly a large number of comments on the End of TOD thread seemed to indicate that...

Hope to see you, and many others, there.

Edit: "It is not necessary to register with Yahoo! in order to participate in Yahoo! Groups...." so those who don't want a Yahoo account can still leave their info.

As Redd would say.. "You hear that Elizabeth? I’m coming to join you, and I’m bringin’ a 5th of Ripple. (Glug, Glug) Well, maybe not quite a 5th."

(Will sign up later, from the machine with the Yahoo stuff on it..)


I have added an email address to my profile. Use my nym above rather than my sig below.


Solar panel maker Conergy files for insolvency

German solar panel manufacturer Conergy said it will file for insolvency on Friday, the latest victim of ferocious competition from Asia in the industry.

Conergy, set up in 1998, has annual sales of around 473 million euros ($610 million). It was one of Germany's biggest solar cell makers in 2011.

Germany was once a leader in solar technology, but the sector has dwindled recently as it battled falling government subsidies and oversupply.

Thriving tundra bushes add fuel to Northern thaw

Carbon-gobbling plants are normally allies in the fight to slow climate change, but in the frozen north, the effects of thriving vegetation may actually push temperatures higher. In a series of climate simulations performed at NERSC, a group of researchers found that the spread of bushes, taller ones especially, could exacerbate warming in northern latitudes by anywhere from 0.6°C to 1.8°C per year.

... That is, in fact, what has been happening to some tundra regions. The authors point out that one study found a 1.2% increase per year in coverage in Alaska.

Paper: On the influence of shrub height and expansion on northern high latitude climate

or http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/1/015503/pdf/1748-9326_7_1_015503.pdf

China hit by largest-ever algae bloom

The State Oceanic Administration said on its website that the algae, enteromorpha prolifera, started to appear a week ago and had spread across an area of 28,900 square kilometres (7,500 square miles).

The China Daily quoted professor Bao Xianwen, of the Qingdao-based Ocean University of China, as saying: "It must have something to do with the change in the environment, but we are not scientifically sure about the reasons." [... runner-up for the 'Homer Simpson' Gross Understatement Award]

The algae are not toxic nor detrimental to water quality, but lead to extreme imbalances in marine ecosystems by consuming large quantities of oxygen and creating hydrogen sulphide.

... stir, settle and wait 90 million years. Presto! Instant oil.

Jeremy Jackson has done a few good presentations on the rise of slime, and how we wrecked the oceans. I don't share his optimism that we can fix it. Of course it is theoretically possible, but doesn't take into account human behaviour other then saying 'we have to change.' Which is code for 'never going to happen.'

From what I understand, there is no "we can fix it" for ocean ecosystems, more of a "we could leave it alone to fix itself". My feeling is that eventually it will fix itself after most humans are gone. The only real question is how much is lost in between, and how long the period of healing is. Is it hundreds of years with most stuff intact, or millions of years with most stuff lost? I totally agree that humans will not make the changes neccessary to save ocean ecosystems as they exist now, or to allow them to grow back to 1950 levels of health.

From my understanding of the possible impacts of climate change, it looks pretty grim. But you never really know. In any case, I expect corals and sharks as a whole to outlive us, but many types of coral and shark around now to go down with us.

From what I understand, there is no From what I understand, there is no "we can fix it" for ocean ecosystems, "we can fix it" for ocean ecosystems,

And as I've posted links to many times on dynamicTOD - Humans can electrify coral to help coral grow.

So that would be something Man can do to help "fix" things beyond stopping harvesting from the sea.

You very well may be right.

But I'm reminded of Antonio Gramsci’s notion of a “pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will.”

I guess I can understand failure to create a widespread and durable behavior change.
After all, there are so many reasons why our efforts may fail.
But I don't understand when folks advocate for a lack of effort.
And worse is when there is an accompanying schadenfreude.

Reframed as "what are the conditions under which human behavior changes" at least gives us options. I'm not for willfully letting our options expire without exercising them.

Granted that the range of conditions may be quite narrow.
The time to act so as to have a significant impact may be slipping away.
Motives to act currently may be weak and/or abstract.

But never? Really?

We're entering a period of significant evolutionary challenge. A unique ("novel" in adaptive parlance) environment. Old behavior patterns will not suffice. There will be a lot of variation and selection going on, at multiple levels.

I've no idea which "experiments" will get selected for and I don't imagine that anyone else does. But one sure way to get selected out is to make no effort whatsoever.

When I first started to realise all this was going to go down, I looked at my own life and asked myself how much I could practically change. A little bit of recycling, a few less plastic bags, driving more economically, plant a few trees, choose an electricity provider that uses only renewables, turn some lights off, replace a few lightbulbs. In otherwords sweet FA. The punchline is that I am one of the very few people who believe in this stuff. You see I have goals, I want to own a farm, and there are other things I also want, so I'm not going to run off and live in the forest with a zero carbon footprint, which isn't scaleable anyway.
So if I can't even do without a computer, what hope does the planet have when most people don't believe in this stuff, or are that poor that they can't cut back, or have no empathy for their own environment?
Even people that have empathy for the environment will still destroy it given the choice between comfort and misery. How long would you freeze for if it was the choice between freezing and cutting down some trees? There is now too many people and not enough trees to keep everyone warm over winter. Which means that without FF for heating and cooking, all the trees are going away, just like the Sahel.
I'm optimistic about my own survival, and I'm taking action for that, but I'm guessing it will be a futile attempt. Antonio Gramsci was looking out two different types of glasses. How about taking the glasses off, and having a real look with the intellect and will?

PCJ invites bids for solar energy systems

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is inviting bids, from local and overseas contractors, for the supply of 18 rooftop solar photovoltaic systems.

The systems will be installed at 15 schools and three public sector agencies, the PCJ said in a release today.

“As the government of Jamaica actively seeks to reduce the national energy bill, the PCJ is facilitating the use of renewable energy by public sector entities,” the release said

I have family visiting from the UK at the moment so, I haven't been able to follow TOD as closely as I normally do. I saw this shortly before I saw a comment about the plans to stop posting new articles and Drumbeats on TOD. I guess there's not as much to talk about any more. Time for doing things now. I've got lots of solar panels that need to be mounted on roof tops and connected to charge controllers or grid tie inverters in preparation for the onset of the decline that is sure to come someday. Lot's of other stuff to do as well. At least, at last my government is getting in on the act as well!

Alan from the islands

Lot's of other stuff to do as well. At least, at last my government is getting in on the act as well!

Three cheers for that!


A system on a school could be anywhere from a kilowatt to a megawatt. Do you know roughly how much? Is it just a greenwashing drop in the bucket, or an actual downpayment on a plan?

I tried to get more details by going to the PCJ web site but there is no more detail than was outlined in the newspaper article. It appears You have to pay US$70 for a set of bid documents to get the details. I would hope that they are at least 10kW an preferably in the range of 50kW and over, to make a real difference in the electricity bills of the entities involved.

Alan from the islands

If we can't be 'investing' all this time to post in August, maybe we should just have a big party at Alan's place. A PV-Raising Party, that is.. drinks and food after!

Student team unveils world's first solar-powered family car

The Solar Team Eindhoven (STE) of TU/e in the Netherlands presented the world's first solar-powered family car today. 'Stella' is the first 'energy-positive car' with room for four people, a trunk, intuitive steering and a range of 600 kilometers [372 miles]. This is the car being entered by the student team in the Cruiser class of the World Solar Challenge that starts in Australia in October 2013.

STE will have the car officially certified for road use to prove that this really is a fully-fledged car.

Long solo car trips as bad as air travel for climate, study says

"What the study does indicate is there's a fairly substantial climate impact saving from switching away from aircraft to trains or diesel coaches, so certainly this could be used as a starting point for further consideration for a high-speed rail option."

... The study showed that even a couple of passengers in a small diesel car could leave a smaller carbon footprint than the average coach or train, which are shown to have the least climate impact on the whole.

"Here we differentiate load factors so that if you look at the diagram you can read that, 'OK, this is the number of passengers in my car, this is my climate impact'," Dr Borken-Kleefeld said.

More information: Paper: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es4003718

Or you could stay at home. Which actually makes more sense if you care about that type of thing. I'm in the we're fu##d why bother crowd. I don't travel much, I'm too busy trolling TOD.

From Up-Top: Nuclear Cuts Vindicate Merkel as RWE Profit Dips

On June 16, a Sunday, wind and solar plants met more than 60 percent of Germany’s demand, a record...

Renewable power is so prominent in Germany’s grid that natural gas-fired plants haven’t been profitable for 17 months...

It is an interesting transition to watch -- the changes occurring in Germany.

Drop the subsidies and mandates for wind and solar in Germany and see if the 'success' story repeats itself.

Right! While you're at why not remove all traffic lights and we'll see if traffic self organizes.

Boof, you do realize that fossil fuel and nuclear were subsidized as well, right? So why pick on wind and solar subsidies unless you have an agenda, it's against your personal ideology, or you just wish to cling to an already failed paradigm at all costs? Fossil fuel based BAU is a dead horse, it's time to stop beating it.

Solar and wind are newborn colts they still might need some of that mare's milk before they are strong enough to graze by themselves and can be hitched to a new wagon.



Please elaborate on how FF and nuclear subsidies compare to the feed in tarrifs. Solar and Wind are a different species from nuclear, hydro and FF. The main difference is that they are not 'on demand'. Something very few people can handle, so they ignore that minor technicality, or start abstracting about storage.

What is it that people can't handle? Maybe the absence of looking up readily available information on demand?


The same IEA report also said fossil fuels attracted about $523 billion in government subsidies in 2011, up by 30% from 2010. That compares to $88 billion for renewable energy. The heaviest subsidies typically take place in parts of the Middle East and Africa, the study said.


Why? Because the "free market" is the right way to do things? Through all history, it never was and there is no rational reason why it should be.

Computers, nuclear technology, spaceflight, all those things were built upon state funding and would not exist without it. If history were made only by "free enterpreneurship" we would be still living as feudal serfs, because that is the most cost-efficient way to run a resource-constrained society. As can bee seen today by capitalism naturally converging to a form of neo-feudalism.

I agree, if nuclear isn't making a profit, what does that say about renewables. Also from the article gas hasn't made a profit in 15 months, looks like King Coal is the only profitable enterprise left. It's not exactly the utopian cornucopia many make it out to be. There are many factors that have not been addressed, yet people still make absurd comments like solar is scaleable to 8,000Tw. This is happening at a mere 22% of consumption, still a long non-linear way off from 35%, let alone the fantasy of 100%.
Another gem from the article was that June 16 production was nearly 13 time the years average. Scaling up that kind of variability is just a joke. Oh well, I can laugh about it at least.

There are many factors that have not been addressed, yet people still make absurd comments like solar is scaleable to 8,000Tw

Solar can "scale" up to the point of a Dyson sphere.

I understand why Solar is a "problem" for centralized control freak power companies. All them thar little people doing for themselves must send the power companies into fits.

Also, I don't understand why people insist on solar being able to cover current consumption patterns 1:1, disregarding the fact that people can adjust their consumption patterns for day/night and summer/winter cycles to correspond to energy availability. We've lived this way for thousands of years, and with current technology, it could be quite comfortable when properly implemented.

It's the same reason people insist on having a car, and lights at night time, and an entire house at a consistent temperature. Which reminds me that in a renewable world, peak electricity demand is more likely to occur in winter not summer, as people switch from gas and oil powered heating and cooking to electric.

Peak electricity demand in Quebec occurs on the coldest winter night. Which is why we'll need buildings built to Passive House levels of efficiency.

Buildings with low winter night time heat loss are going to be essential in the early stages of the shift to a Post Carbon energy system. Think of Passive House buildings as a form of "load balancing and storage". There is so little heat loss that you could shut down the heating system for most of the night and only lose a couple of degrees Celsius. When the sun comes up a little solar heat gain and increased production from PV can then bring the temperature of the building back up. We can handle around a four degree swing in interior temperatures quite comfortably.

It's resilient design.

On this and other related building design issues it's worth checking out Alex Wilson's Resilient Design Institute, resilientdesign dot org

Also how much electrical heating in Quebec is still resistance vs. heat pumps?

Electric baseboard heat dominates the residential market, with electric boilers and forced air heating systems rounding things out. Heat pumps are not all that common, in large part because electricity is so cheap, i.e., currently, 5.41-cents per kWh for the first 30 kWh per day, then 7.78-cents per kWh thereafter. Québec winters are also pretty harsh, even by Canadian standards, so heat pumps are not an ideal fit. That's not to say that they can't help reduce load -- they can and to a great extent; it's just that during the coldest times of the year, you're going to be relying on electric resistance or some other alternative heat source to do the heavy lifting.

Personally, I'm a big fan of Hydro-Québec's dual-energy rate. When temperatures remain above −12°C or −15°C (depending upon where you live in the province), you pay a flat rate of 4.40-cents per kWh. However, whenever the mercury falls below this, the rate jumps to 21.26-cents and you're automatically switched over to your backup heating system, which is typically oil or gas. So, in effect, these space heating loads are dropped precisely at the times when Hydro-Québec's system is under increasing stress. [BTW, a high efficiency heat pump will still provide good performance down to −12°C or −15°C, and at 4.40-cents per kWh the operating costs are extremely low.] Dual-energy rates also encourage homeowners to defer or perhaps forego other discretionary uses during peak times and so this too helps reduce the stress put on generation and distribution resources.


Most of the temperate world uses more energy in winter then summer. I don't think there is time, resources or will to build passive houses for everyone. As well as building all the LED lights, heatpumps, solar panels, EV's, public transit etc. etc.

Mainstream advertising bombards us with the idea that the lights gotta go on the instant you flip the switch. I think it's a money thing.

Why limit it to a Dyson sphere, there is a whole universe of 'solars' out there. You could tap into the entire power of the universe, and fly off on a unicorn to the moon for a feast of cheese. If only Big Energy wasn't hiding the technology that made unicorns.

I see you chose not to touch the centralized control aspect that is threatened with Solar and instead went with Unicorns.

I hear that there will be a herd of 'em going by soon. Best go out to the unicorn blind powered by 24 by 7 electrical lighting and wait for 'em.

Ten billions reasons to be scared of climate change

... just for this Friday morning forget everything you may have heard from the sceptics and accept that climate change is real, man-made and accelerating and will have disastrous knock-on effects on crop yields, storm strength, ocean levels and human migration.

What can we do about it? Well, the good professor muses, we could invent our way out of it. That's the "rational optimist" argument best articulated, Emmott says, by The Times's very own Matt Ridley. Or we could change our behaviour so profoundly that all previous social revolutions would be blips by comparison.

And what will we do about it? Probably nothing.

"I think we're f****d." This was how Emmott closed a sell-out appearance at the Royal Court Theatre in London last year.

"I think we're f****d." This was how Emmott closed a sell-out appearance at the Royal Court Theatre in London last year.

I think I kind of agree... however hope never dies >;-)

I was wondering if anyone has any ideas if I could find an outlet for some of my energy and climate related graphics. I created one after watching James Hansen's TED talk titled:

"Why I must speak out on Climate Change".

According to James Hansen our atmospheric energy imbalance is currently on the order of about six-tenths of a watt per square meter. Which doesn't sound like much. However it equals the energy released by 400,000 Hiroshima sized atomic bomb explosions every single day!

I decided to play with that a bit. 24 hours or 1 day is equivalent to 1440 minutes. 6/10ths of an hour (in honor of that 6/10 of a watt) is 36 minutes. A very convenient number because 40 X 36 = 1440. And 10,000 X 40 = 400,000. I decided to create a graphical representation of this as follows:

First I created a 100 X 100 square grid 250 mm X 250 mm on each side. I created little red and orange circular icons each of which represents a Hiroshima equivalent nuclear explosion energy release. One megaton equals 4.184 gigajoules, the atomic bomb nicked named Fat Boy which was dropped on Hiroshima was about 12.5 Megatons.

I filled in my grid with 10,000 of my little icons. I then created 40 identical pages each page with 10,000 icons, each page representing 36 minutes of one day.

The final tally on page forty equaling 24 hours of time and 400,000 12.5 megaton nuclear explosion equivalants of solar energy, that was not radiated back into space, therefore the energy imbalance...

My presentation is not quite ready for prime time but I created a quick video clip file from it so I could post a link to it from my photobucket account.

I'd appreciate some feedback as to whether something along these lines is useful in getting across some of the concepts related to Energy and Climate to audiences who might not grok more technical material.

Here's a link to the file, probably a powerpoint or PDF would be more useful but I can't link to those from photobucket.




Fat man and little boy were a bit under 20kilotons, not megatons. It takes a fancy fission/fusion/fission design to get into the megaton range. The biggest USA N bomb was the Mike test (pre H weapon), they had a mixture of Lithium 6 & Lithium 7, and thought only the Li7 would fuse. Opps! both isotopes fused, and the observing team nearly paid with their lives!

The biggest bomb ever was the TsarBomba, which the Russians tested over Novia-Zemlya. It was designed as 100megatons, but Sakhorov was so worried about the fallout, he got them to not use the Uranium casing (which would fission upon absorbing the neutrons from the fusion part of the bomb), it was something like 57 megatons.

Fat man and little boy were a bit under 20kilotons, not megatons

Correct it should be 12.5 Kilotons! Thanks for catching that.

The scaled-down version of the bomb was still big enough to cause a fireball that was seen 600 miles away, meaning if it was dropped over Manhattan, you would have been able to watch New York City burn from Virginia. Windowpanes would have been broken down through South Carolina. Even though they dropped Tsar Bomba over a deserted area in the Arctic Circle, wooden houses were destroyed and stone houses had their roofs blown off hundreds of miles away. The shock wave was so extreme that even with the parachute giving them a 20-mile head start, the plane that dropped it was knocked into a free fall for a half-mile before catching itself and continuing to get out of Dodge.


I'll be honest, it's kinda boring. Just watching red dots, you could try the XKCD format which is actually quite entertaining in a nerdy sort of way. http://xkcd.com/radiation/

I'll be honest, it's kinda boring

Oh, I can do the funny too! What I'm trying do do here is find a way to convey the magnitude of the energy equivalent. BTW I'm not concerned about nuclear radiation here, that's for a very different discussion. I'm just trying to get across the amount of daily energy imbalance.

But I accept that the way it looks right now it is boring. I'll work on that. Thanks!

XKCD have done a few different charts like that which give a perspective, and orders of magnitude to different otherwise hard to understand numbers. Here is money http://xkcd.com/980/huge/#x=-6432&y=-7968&z=1

Its the format, where you start of with something small that people can understand, like the amount of energy in a peanut, then go through orders of magnitude changes in scale to show how much is being released by people in a day, or added to the atmosphere in a day. It's only by giving an understandable comparison that people will be able to comprehend it. I can't understand 1 atomic bomb, let alone thousands. Unless you explain how many punches in the face 1 atomic bomb is, most people wont get it. You need to work up there slowly. JMO

Unless you explain how many punches in the face 1 atomic bomb is, most people wont get it. You need to work up there slowly. JMO

Perhaps I'm being a bit naive but I thought that most people have seen pictures of the devastation in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb exploded there. IMHO, that was one heck of a punch in the face.

Google: A Photo-Essay on the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki... That's a lot of energy.

Although its not really the amount of energy, its the rate of delivery -and the fact that some was in the form of a shockwave. I'd bet at ground level it was no more than a days sunshine, but delivered in less than a second, rather than over hours.

Kind of like how a hiker could descend several thousand feet in a few hours without injury. But, if he jumped off a cliff of the same height, the outcome wouldn't be so pretty.

(thought I posted this already - guess not)

Don't forget the various man made atmosphere heaters like HAARP. HAARP can dump 3.6 MW of energy into the atmosphere + whatever about is released at ground level to get to that 3.6 MW number.

(remember folkes how 'The Internet is a Series of tubes'in a news conference in 1990, Stevens talked about bringing energy from the aurora borealis “down to Earth so it could be used” to solve the world's energy crises)

I really like the idea. Another way to think about it would be to use area rather than time. The surface area of the Earth is ~500e6 km^2, so each of the 400e3 Hiroshima bombs would go off in 1275 km^2 or squares about 40 km on a side. Maybe a picture of the Earth with 400 thousand bombs going off every day would make it more meaningful, especially if you could zoom in and show how close these bombs are. You could also say that this happens every single day, and it's getting worse - the bombs are getting closer all the time.

Do you have any thoughts on how to get this out to a wider audience?

The article mentions Matt Ridley. He had an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal yesterday (behind a pay wall, but Google can find it):

Science Is About Evidence, Not Consensus

He is writing about climate change and he presents an interpretation of the latest study regarding tree rings and historical climate. Reading his take on that study, which is available as an open publication, I think he has missed several major points, repeating climate denier propaganda, perhaps intentionally. Then, he claims this is his last post, so he has decided to desert the playing field before anyone has a chance to point to his errors. If I still had a subscription to the WSJ, I would write a rebuttal letter, but it would probably be too late as the damage is already done...

E. Swanson

Related to Labrador fires shut down highway, affect air quality in DB ...

Quebec forest fire causes widespread blackouts for a 2nd day

Half a million Hydro-Québec customers were without power at rush hour for the second straight day, as widespread outages caused by forest fires in northern Quebec affected transmission lines.

The utility said Montreal and other parts of southern Quebec were affected.

The blackouts occurred nearly exactly 24 hours after a similar power failure caused by the forest fires, despite the utility's best efforts to protect the network.

Crazy Weather ...

Over a Foot of Hail Swamps New Mexico Town

A lone thunderstorm dumped over a foot of hail in the town of Santa Rosa, N.M. Wednesday evening, leaving a surreal sight the day before the Fourth of July. Photos from the Santa Rosa Fire Department showed snow plows clearing city streets clogged with accumulated hail drifts.

The Western U.S. Heat Wave Is So Bad Pavement Is Causing 2nd-Degree Burns

… “I just released a guy from the hospital a couple of weeks ago who tried to make it across a parking lot in his bare feet earlier this summer,” Coates said. “We had to do skin grafts on him and they’re not easy to take on the bottom of the feet. If people try that now, it can only be worse.”

Yesterday was our grand-finale for the heatwave. It was 85F just before sunrise, and hit 108 a bit after two. Normally it heats up another few degrees before a peak around 5PM, but the cool started filtering in. Today's high is around 85, with strong cool winds!

Re "Utility Line Worker Cuts Hobble Emergency Storm Response" (above) - Upstate NY gets some extremely destructive ice storms; the last major one was in 1998. A friend works for National Grid (formerly Niagara Mohawk) and loaned me a documentary video the company had made of their efforts during that storm. The damage was massive, hundreds of poles broken etc. Support crews came in from all over the eastern US, and replacement poles were trucked in from the south (yellow pine from Georgia as I recall). It was an almost war-scale operation conducted under freezing, wet, hazardous conditions with the storm still in progress. A lot was at stake; to survive dairy farms needed very large generators and lots of diesel fuel (hard to procure) to power their operations. Ni-Mo did get most of it back up and live within a week or so. Watching that story I wondered how much longer we will be able to pull off feats like that.

That ice storm affected the entire northeast.

They fly not only crews but their equipment (trucks, cherry pickers, etc.) in from all over the country. Just roll 'em into the belly of a C-5.

It seems like putting power lines under ground would prevent all of this damage and repair.

As TOD winds down, this week WTI closed at $103.80, Brent $107.70


How many yergians is that anyway? And what is the barrel equivalency of a barrel of snarkinol to WTI?

Well, the official "End of TOD" thread has rolled over 500 comments and is hence a pain to follow, so I'm posting a few thoughts here. Friday Drumbeats are usually pretty short anyway, since there will be a new one the next morning...

While one of the things I value about the conversation here is the mix of different viewpoints, it might be time to move beyond that. If the time has come to talk about what do on the downslope, rather than measuring barrels...it might not be a bad thing if the successor to TOD is not one site, but several.

It is difficult if not impossible to discuss "what to do next" unless you're in a somewhat like-minded group. Yes, you run the risk of groupthink, but otherwise, you just never get past the wrangling over the basics. Left vs. right, doomer vs. cornucopian, pro-nuke vs. anti-nuke, etc. You reach a point where there's no further value in arguing over it, but you can't get past it, either. You can't discuss how to get off fossil fuels if there's a bunch of people constantly saying, "We'll never get off fossil fuels, don't even try." You can't discuss possible solutions if there's a bunch people who get in your face at every turn saying there's nothing we can do, we're all doomed.

PO.com tried to address that with separate Doomers Only, Moderates Only, and Cornucopians Only forums. Not sure what became of that; I'm guessing their hands-off style resulted in those forums being heavily trolled, or they simply did not have enough people to keep that many forums going.

Cid Yama reported in the "End of TOD" thread that PO.com has been taken over by right-wingers, and the left-wingers have retreated to an alternate site called Malthusia (I am member there, too, though I have not posted there in years). There's also the site created by former LATOC members, which is, as you might expect, hardcore doomer. I haven't been to the Resilience forum, but judging from what EB was like, I'm guessing it's positive but moderate: we are facing serious problems, but there are things we can do. And of course, most of the mainstream "green" sites have a decided technocopian bent.

So, I dunno...maybe it will be a good thing, if people here find (or make) themselves a forum suited to their individual views of the future.

it might not be a bad thing if the successor to TOD is not one site, but several.

The only downside is the tracking of the redundant fail-resistant newTOD. But more than 1 place allows the load to shift to others if any one point stops.

A curated RSS feed could also work, if no one likes the wikia.com collection of links others find helpful idea.

a forum suited to their individual views of the future.

Part of the joy of Drumbeat was the diversity along with the 'have you considered this'/'here is why you vision is wrong' conversations. Going to where its all the same won't result in growth or a honing of the argument. Going to a 1 person blog will typically be filtered by the 1 person to their view and no one will ever see counter-arguments.

The breadth of thoughtful discussion here at TOD is something I have a hard time believing I'll find anywhere else.

I guess that's what saddens me most.

The thing that always stood out like a sore thumb was an inability of TOD to come up with any kind of statement regarding climate change, and I guess it was hinted that the problem was that the editors themselves were deeply divided on the subject. So officially the subject was never discussed, at least officially. Yes, in the comments it was discussed a lot, but nothing on the front page..

We used to have climate change stories on the front page. But yes, since then we've agreed to stay away from it in the key posts, because there is significant disagreement on the topic.

I have spent quite a bit of time at all of the sites and I only read the DB currently. Not sure what I'll do but I am not particularly worried about it either. I graduated with honors in learning how not to worry about stuff. I think you will run the DB elsewhere but I think I am probably wrong, too :)

"While one of the things I value about the conversation here is the mix of different viewpoints, it might be time to move beyond that.

It was the mix of different viewpoints that made TOD what it was. Any worthy descendant whould be wise to keep that as a priority. Preaching to the choir is a futile process of reinforcing groupthink, and TOD promoted discovery over validation; groupthink resistant. Moving beyond that standard would be a loss, IMO.

It's the singer, not the song.
I'm curious where you end up.
I hope you plan to devote relatively more time to writing and producing content and less time to moderating.
A lot of the issues covered here, from energy to climate to infrastructure to culture to geopolitics bleed over into each other.

I suspect most of the people here are more generalists than they acknowledge- while they may self-describe as engineers the heated debates seem to revolve around history, culture, politics... so settling into a ghetto of the like-minded isn't exactly what we're looking for.

I'm not sure where I'll end up, if anywhere.

Over this last month, staff and contributors will be posting articles on what they've learned over the past eight years. I won't be, but I've been thinking about it.

I never considered myself a hard-core doomer, but I did think there was a non-zero chance of a fast crash. I suppose I still think that, but now I think it's much closer to zero. I still think peak oil and resource constraints in general are important, but it looks like the future will not be Mad Max, but more like Japan after the real estate bubble burst, or maybe Great Britain after they dismantled their empire. A long, slow, and not particularly exciting grind.

There were certainly plenty of "doomer porn" events over our eight years. Prices rising from $30 a barrel to almost $150; at one point, new record highs were being set almost weekly. Katrina, the event that led me to TOD. The gas shortages throughout the southeast after Hurricane Gustav, and reactions to them: brawls at gas stations, police unable to get gas for their patrols, people sleeping in their offices because they had no gas to drive home, tanker trucks being accompanied by the National Guard, people waiting in line for hours and filling up every container in the car, including coffee cups. The talk of "tanks in the streets" if the too big to fail banks were not bailed out. Deepwater Horizon. Fukushima.

But they did not lead to TEOTWAWKI. For the most part, there was a recovery of sorts. And the result, in many cases, is we are less vulnerable than we were. The gasoline shortages resulted in storage depots being created along the pipeline, where gasoline can be stored for use in case of emergency. Dealing with gas shortages has taught at least some people to stock up and keep the tank full, at least during hurricane season. Similarly, avoiding "tanks in the streets" last time means there's much less panic about the current financial problems (which are still significant).

Eight years ago, I was sure peak oil was a more urgent problem than climate change. But looking back...peak oil has had little affect on my life. Yes, I'm paying more for gasoline, but I never drove very much anyway. I am paying more for food, in part due to higher fossil fuel prices, but as with many Americans, food is a relatively small part of my budget, compared to previous generations.

Climate change, OTOH, has been a smack in the face, in the form of storms and flooding outside anything we've seen in recorded history here, and the incredible amount of work it takes to recover from them.

So I guess if I've learned anything over the past eight years, it's that prediction is difficult, especially about the future. Even the best of us aren't very good at it.

I assume your comment relates to the blog/forum topic, and not to work life in general? Given the zeal with which you've contributed here, it would hard to imagine, and unfortunate, if your talents were not applied SOMEWHERE.

With age, kids, and time here, I increasingly see the world in shades of gray where once I would have defined a black and white position. Perhaps the best value of this site for me has been to recalibrate my intuition, on multiple topics, with thoughtful dialog and hard facts. Rechecking base assumptions, especially those implicitly instilled during our formative lives, is not an automatic occurrence.

When I hear others talking about the Illuminati or the US shadow government pulling strings to manage the world, or even the 1% stacking the deck, I think about how hard it is to predict world outcomes here. Long-term conspiracy theories will struggle against chaos and entropy. The best you can do as an individual is envision multiple scenarios, plan for resilience, and adjust as you go.

In a deeply compartmentalized society with thousands of skill-set in millions of roles, deep expertise is the norm. We're all stuck in a world of trees, wondering about the forest. This site brings a lot of really tall trees together to trade interesting tidbits, and together we're sussing out the nature of the forest. It's not a crystal ball picture, but still a valuable gestalt. Who among us doesn't see a Yahoo headline as they must forever blithely attribute each move in stocks or oil to a single cause, and discern key pieces of the picture that the pundits are missing in the oversimplified analysis?

Long-term [deck stacking for a particular outcome] will struggle against chaos and entropy.

And people within the organization on occasion stepping forward telling what is going on (Snowden*) and others who are either screw ups or are throwing sand into the gears (Not getting the Hong Kong extradition paperwork correct).

*Using Snowden because that will be the least contentious example.

Thanks for the thoughts.

I tend to agree with Ghung that the range of views has been very valuable, particularly when we were able to, within that spectrum see where the world isn't just Hard left and Hard Right.

As much as we did and do get into repeated ruts on particularly thorny issues and bang away at all-too-familiar talking points, I think the real action was in less fraught exchanges where we got to see the points that separate us, but in a way that shows that we are mostly arriving at our views for some good reason or other. (Maybe my marriage has given me some more chances to understand the value of such inevitable disagreements, and yet remember that we are connected and need each other just the same.)

The important thing at TOD has been what is common among us, Peak Oil and related issues, even as it brings out in very sharp relief the closely related things that divide many of us, too.

In Screenwriting terms, I would call that a Strong Dynamic Range, from Love to Hate, if you will.. which I think has been key to the brilliance of this experience.

For a site with like-minded folk and action steps, I go directly to my local permaculture crowd. (They serve the best food at the meetings.. and they also tend to have a decent Left-right Spread to their membership, since their foundation is focused away from Political Action, and towards the sciences of Food Production and Homeowning.

It's been the range of views Ghung mentioned that has me coming back, almost daily, as a lurker in the years since Katrina and now, near the end, with a handle.

+10 on the local permaculture group. Like-minded on the things that matter to me (e.g., behavior change at many different levels: individual/family/neighborhood/village, lots of small experiments, but no wasted effort on policy/econ/political change). But with clear goals, solid hope, high within-group trust and, most important of all, a "let's get cracking" approach.

I would pull out, it looks like civil war to me if the pro-Morsi supporters can organize and arm themselves well enough.

BP to pull staff from Egypt amid unrest

It added that all staff were safe and that its local oil and gas production had not been affected.

"This decision was taken after reviewing guidance from governments and our own monitoring of the situation on the ground," the statement said.

It added: "Around 40 essential expatriate staff remain and our office in Cairo is open."