Drumbeat: July 17, 2013

Senators Grill Refiners Over High Prices Amid Oil Boom

Lawmakers grilled representatives of oil producers and refiners seeking an explanation for a rise in gasoline prices at the pump amid a boom in U.S. oil production.

Senators at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today complained that fuel exports and refinery shutdowns for maintenance cause regional price surges, while the head of refiner Valero Energy Corp. said local prices reflect global shifts in crude markets and blamed higher costs on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates ethanol use.

“Our people want to know why the flood of new domestic crude oil isn’t lowering prices at the pump,” said Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “There is no question that the lower oil costs are not getting through to Americans’ wallets.”

WTI Crude Declines for a Second Day Before Bernanke Testimony

West Texas Intermediate dropped for a second day as the dollar gained before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke testifies to Congress, undermining the appeal of commodities as a protection against inflation.

Futures slid as much as 0.8 percent in New York as WTI’s relative strength index signaled prices may have advanced too quickly. Bernanke, who has said the Fed may start reducing $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year, will appear before the House Financial Services Committee today. The Energy Department will probably report that U.S. crude inventories fell by 2 million barrels last week, a Bloomberg survey showed.

“People are going to realize that tapering of quantitative easing is on the cards, and there’s not going to be an escape from this,” said Hakan Kocayusufpasaoglu, chief investment officer at Archbridge Capital AG, a Zug, Switzerland-based hedge fund. “That will probably strengthen the dollar and, although crude has rallied lately on supply issues, it will put a little bit of pressure on the oil market.”

California gets $4-a-gallon gas. Who's next?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Drivers in California became the first in the mainland U.S. to pay an average of $4 a gallon for gas in the current price spike. They probably will get lots of company soon.

California prices reached $4.01 for a gallon of self-serve regular gas on Monday and continued higher to $4.02 on Tuesday, the first time since March that the price has been that high. Only Hawaii and Alaska, with their limited access to refineries, had been above $4 a gallon before the recent price spike.

U.S. Gulf Oil Profits Lure $16 Billion More Rigs by 2015

The deep-water Gulf of Mexico, shut down after BP Plc’s record oil spill in 2010, has rebounded to become the fastest growing offshore market in the world.

The number of rigs operating in waters deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the U.S. Gulf will grow to 60 by the end of 2015, said Brian Uhlmer, an analyst at Global Hunter Securities LLC in Houston. As of last week, there were 36 rigs working in those waters, according to industry researcher IHS Petrodata.

Fresh protests at Libyan Zueitina spark uncertainty on oil exports: traders

London (Platts) - A fresh round of protests at the Zueitina oil terminal in Libya has ushered in a wave of uncertainty surrounding crude oil exports from the country, a mere two days after the terminal opened again following more than five weeks of shut-ins.

Traders said that details were sketchy, but that protesters entered the terminal late on Tuesday and it was unclear whether or not fuel loadings were continuing.

Saudi crude output, exports rise in May vs. April

Oil production in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of crude, rose to 9.657 million barrels a day in May, compared with 9.31 million barrels a day a month earlier, while exports edged 4.6% higher during the same period, official data showed Wednesday.

The kingdom exported 7.789 million barrels a day of crude oil and condensate in May, up from 7.444 million barrels a day in April, according to figures posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative, or JODI, website.

BlackRock Dodges Pimco Losses in Abandoning OGX: Brazil Credit

The rout, sparked by Batista’s failure to deliver the oil production he pledged from offshore fields he has called “bonanza” assets, is vindicating BlackRock’s decision as investors brace for what would be the biggest-ever corporate default in Latin America. Credit Suisse Group AG estimates Rio de Janeiro-based OGX, which forms part of a Batista empire whose combined market capitalization has fallen $38 billion in the past two years, will have about $13 million in cash by year-end.

Kashagan consortium says takes further step towards first oil

(Reuters) - The North Caspian Operating Company, developer of the much-delayed Kashagan offshore project in Kazakhstan, said on Wednesday it had introduced gas to its artificial island and lit its flare.

Six rules for state-owned companies operating in Canada

Whether a company is entering Canada in a complete-control capacity or pursuing non-operating transactions or joint ventures, success in the Canadian oil and gas market takes a lot more than just regulatory compliance, safety, production, projects and profitability.

Chevron $1.24 Billion Deal Leads YPF’s Post-Repsol Shale Hunt

Chevron Corp., the world’s second-biggest oil company, signed the first agreement with Argentina’s government since it nationalized YPF SA in 2012 to help develop shale oil and natural gas in Vaca Muerta.

John Watson, Chevron’s chairman and chief executive officer, and YPF CEO Miguel Galuccio signed the accord yesterday at YPF headquarters in Buenos Aires to develop the world’s second-largest shale gas deposit and fourth-largest shale oil reservoir. The contract finalizes terms for Chevron’s initial $1.24 billion investment, which may reach as much as $15 billion. The partnership was first formed in December.

Iran Agrees to Barter Wheat for Electricity with Pakistan

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran agreed to barter wheat worth $9mln with Pakistan in return for Pakistan’s debts for Iranian power supplies, Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Behzad said.

China in $5 billion drive to develop disputed East China Sea gas

(Reuters) - Chinese state-run oil companies hope to develop seven new gas fields in the East China Sea, possibly siphoning gas from the seabed beneath waters claimed by Japan, a move that could further inflame tensions with Tokyo over the disputed area.

Beijing had slowed exploration in the energy-rich East China Sea, one of Asia's biggest security risks due to competing territorial claims, but is now rapidly expanding its hunt for gas, a cheaper and cleaner energy to coal and oil imports.

Enbridge seeks swift approval of U.S. midwest oil pipeline

MARSHALL, Mo. -- A Canadian company's plan to build an oil pipeline that will stretch for hundreds of miles through the Midwest, including through many sensitive waterways, is quietly on the fast-track to approval -- just not the one you're thinking of.

As the Keystone XL pipeline remains mired in the national debate over environmental safety and climate change, another company, Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, is hoping to begin construction early next month on a 600-mile-long pipeline that would carry tar sands from Flanagan, Ill., about 100 miles southwest of Chicago, to the company's terminal in Cushing, Okla. From there the company could move it through existing pipeline to Gulf Coast refineries.

Currency to Oil Rates Targeted for Tougher Oversight After Libor

Benchmarks underpinning markets from oil to foreign exchange face tougher oversight under plans by global regulators to prevent any repeat of Libor-style fraud.

Benchmarks should be based as much as possible on real transaction data, rather than estimates, and banks should tackle conflicts of interest, the International Organization of Securities Commissions, a Madrid-based group that harmonizes global market rules, said in guidelines published today.

Barclays, Traders Fined $487.9 Million by U.S. Regulator

Barclays Plc and four former traders must pay a combined $487.9 million in fines and penalties, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in an order tied to an investigation of alleged manipulation of energy markets.

The agency directed the company and traders to pay $453 million in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury within 30 days, according to the order issued yesterday. The London-based bank also must surrender $34.9 million in profits, to be distributed to programs that help low-income homeowners pay energy bills in California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington, the FERC said.

Quebec Rail Disaster Seen Jump-Starting Safe Push

A runaway oil train that killed scores of people when it slammed into a Quebec town is bringing renewed calls on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border for tougher safety rules for railroads.

Regulators and watchdogs have sought for years improvements to a common tank car design shown to be susceptible to rupture when derailed, while labor unions have pushed for a ban on trains being operated by a single crew member.

BP Wants Deepwater Payouts Frozen Amid Probe

BP is urging a federal judge to halt all Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement payments while fraud allegations are investigated.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh is carrying out a probe into alleged misconduct by a lawyer who helped administer the multibillion-dollar settlement programme.

California Proposes $300 Million Fine for PG&E Pipe Blast

California Public Utilities Commission staff recommended PG&E Corp. (PCG) pay a minimum $300 million fine as part of a proposed $2.25 billion penalty for the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno.

The fine would be the largest ever ordered by the California regulator, the commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division said in a filing today. “The tragedy in San Bruno, which was directly caused by PG&E’s unreasonable conduct and neglect for decades, was the worst disaster in the history of California electric and/or gas utilities.”

Energy Department ousts 2 top officials of Bonneville Power Administration

The Energy Department has ousted two top officials of the federally run Bonneville Power Administration, putting them on administrative leave after they retaliated against a half-dozen employees who were helping an inspector general’s inquiry about hiring practices.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which falls under the Energy Department and whose workers are federal employees, markets electricity generated by 31 federal hydro projects and provides power to about 13 million people in the Pacific Northwest. Its administrator, Bill Drummond, who was appointed in February, and chief operating officer, Anita Decker, were escorted out of their offices Monday, people familiar with the matter said.

Legal Challenges to New Nuclear: Can We Trust Government?

The National Trust for Ireland and Greenpeace have launched two independent legal challenges to UK Government plans for new nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point, Somerset, re-opening long-standing questions about nuclear safety.

With i3 Electric Car, BMW Tries to Ease Range Anxiety

BMW has bet considerable resources that the cost advantages of operating an electric car will outweigh the one big disadvantage — range. BMW says the i3, which will come to market in Europe in November and the United States next year, can travel 186 miles when equipped with an optional range extender, a motorcyclelike gasoline engine that helps maintain the charge when the car runs low. Otherwise, the car will be able to travel about half that distance, or about 93 miles, on a single charge.

Battery Seen as Way to Cut Heat-Related Power Losses

As scorching weather envelops the Northeast and the Midwest, electric utilities are scrambling to keep the power on while air-conditioners strain utilities’ capacity. By Tuesday afternoon in New York City and Westchester County, for instance, Consolidated Edison had logged nearly 7,700 interruptions since the heat arrived on Sunday, and it had dispatched crews to restore almost all of the power.

Such disruptions have plagued utilities for years: how do they keep extra electricity on hand and ready to go, avoiding the need to cut the voltage in stressed neighborhoods and lowering the risk of blackouts?

Now, several utilities, including Con Edison, National Grid and the large European utilities Enel and GDF SUEZ, have signed up to fine-tune and test what they hope could lead to an answer — a battery half the size of a refrigerator from Eos Energy Storage, the company said Tuesday. If the testing goes well, the batteries hold the promise of providing storage that until now has been unaffordable on a large scale.

The One Issue Republicans and Democrats Can Agree On

Ethanol is insane, and politicians outside the Beltway are finally fighting it.

21 children die after eating school lunch in India

PATNA, India (AP) — At least 21 children died and more than two dozen others were sick after eating a free school lunch that was tainted with insecticide, Indian officials said Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear how chemicals ended up in the food in a school in the eastern state of Bihar. One official said the food may not have been properly washed before it was cooked.

Looking for Ways to Beat the Weeds

For decades, farmers have responded to resistant weeds by turning to a new herbicide. But a number of scientists argue that we need to get off this treadmill. They argue that we can find more effective ways to fight weeds by appreciating how well they’ve done at our expense.

“Get off the fence” on coal ash, scientist tells US EPA

Coal ash, toxic substances and power plant emissions should be a priority for Gina McCarthy if she is appointed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an environmental scientist at Duke University has suggested.

William Chameides, the Nicholas Professor of the Environment at Duke University in North Carolina, said that the EPA should designate coal ash as a hazardous material, reform the Toxic Substance Control Act and propose carbon dioxide emissions rules for existing power plants if McCarthy takes up the position.

Unfinished oil and gas pollution rules greet Stephen Harper’s new environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper latest environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, could bring some front-line views of the impacts of global warming on her home in Canada’s North to the federal cabinet in her new role.

But one of her first challenges would be to tackle Canada’s fastest growing sources of emissions that contribute to the warming atmosphere by completing long-awaited and repeatedly delayed regulations cracking down on pollution from expanded oil and gas development.

World Bank to limit financing of coal-fired plants

(Reuters) - The World Bank's board on Tuesday agreed to a new energy strategy that will limit financing of coal-fired power plants to "rare circumstances," as the Washington-based global development powerhouse seeks to address the impact of climate change.

The Bank will amend its lending policies for new coal-fired power projects, restricting financial support to countries that have "no feasible alternatives" to coal, as it seeks to balance environmental efforts with the energy needs of poor countries.

85% of Filipinos say they are feeling effects of climate change

The impacts of climate change are a daily reality for 8 out of ten Filipinos, according to a recent survey of 1,800 adults across the country.

In the World Bank commissioned survey, 85% of those questioned said that they were personally feeling the effects of climate change, which are particularly pronounced across South East Asia.

The Philippines are the third most vulnerable country in the world to extreme weather events, such as typhoons, floods, landslides and droughts.

Each degree of global warming might ultimately raise global sea levels by more than 2 meters

Greenhouse gases emitted today will cause sea level to rise for centuries to come. Each degree of global warming is likely to raise sea level by more than 2 meters in the future, a study now published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows.

China donates sea wall to Fiji

SUVA (Xinhua) -- China on Wednesday donated a sea wall to Fiji, which became an example of the Fijian government's commitment to addressing sea level rise and protecting villages along coastal areas.

Why Don't Farmers Believe in Climate Change?

But the biggest change delivered by science to farming in the past century is the one my brother is working to reverse: the advent of fossil-fuel-powered machinery and fertilizer wrested from the air by chemistry. That, along with cutting down forests to make room for farms around the world, makes agriculture the second-largest cause of the greenhouse gas emissions changing the climate. There's methane from massive meat farms and manure lagoons. There's nitrous oxide—yes, the stuff used at the dentist’s office—seeping out of the soil thanks to all that nitrogen fertilizer, and it's no laughing matter since N2O is nearly 300 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a century.

Few would have to change their livelihoods as radically as American farmers if efforts to combat climate change became more serious.

UK: Farmers should pay more for water, say government advisors

Farmers who abstract water from rivers should pay higher prices that reflect its true value, according to a committee which advises ministers on climate change.

Changing global temperature and weather patterns present a risk to the supply of important goods and services from the land, says a new report by the Committee on Climate Change. Without action this could undermine our ability to meet increased food demand over the next decades.

Air-Conditioning Will Be the End of Us

Earlier this week, as the outdoor temperature in New York City hit the high 90s and the heat index topped 100, my utility provider issued a heat alert and advised customers to use our air-conditioning “wisely.” It was a nice, polite gesture, but also an utterly ineffectual one. After all, despite our other green tendencies, most Americans still believe that the “wise” way to use air conditioners is to crank them up high, cooling down every room in the house — or even better, relax in the cold blasts of a movie theater or shopping mall, where someone else pays the bills. Today, Americans use twice as much energy for air-conditioning as we did 20 years ago, and more than the rest of the world’s nations, combined. As a climate-change adaptation strategy, this is as dumb as it gets.

The Costs of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Are Passing the High-Water Mark

More than 5.5 million homes are protected via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and a little less than 20% of those homes — usually those who live in the most dangerous areas — receive flood insurance at heavily subsidized rates. The result is a perverse incentive for homeowners to continue to live in areas that are likely to be hit by storms and floods, knowing that the cost of rebuilding will be effectively socialized by the rest of us. At a time when we should be seriously thinking about retreating from the most high-risk coastal areas, government policy inadvertently supports living on top of the sea.

Smith thinks that needs to change. “The program that exists today is not fundamentally sound,” he said. The NFIP is expected to go $25 billion to $30 billion in debt after it fulfills claims from Sandy, and both climate change and population growth will put further pressure on the program. A report released last month by the Federal Emergency Management Authority found that by the end of the century, NFIP could have to insure 80% more properties than it does today, and the average loss on each property could rise by as much as 90%. Keeping up a system that provides subsidized flood insurance for those who live in the riskiest areas is barely doable now — if those risks increase thanks to sea-level rise, it will be impossible. “To keep risks manageable and therefore insurable, all of us need to get serious about broad-scale financial solutions to this crisis,” said Smith.

Ice-free Arctic may come as soon as 2054, study says

Cruise ships and oil tankers may be sailing through ice-free waters of the Arctic as early as 2054, according to a new study that narrows to a handful of years the uncertainty of when this climate-change milestone will occur. Previous studies have pegged it to everywhere between 2015 and 2100.

Trade-Offs Between Food Security and Climate Change Mitigation Explored

Improving crop yields using sustainable methods could cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 12% per calorie produced according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. At the same time, these changes could provide more food to people in need.

CIA Backs $630,000 Scientific Study on Controlling Global Climate

The Central Intelligence Agency is funding a scientific study that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering to alter Earth's environment and stop climate change. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will run the 21-month project, which is the first NAS geoengineering study financially supported by an intelligence agency. With the spooks' money, scientists will study how humans might influence weather patterns, assess the potential dangers of messing with the climate, and investigate possible national security implications of geoengineering attempts.

From link above:

Senators Grill Refiners Over High Prices Amid Oil Boom

“Our people want to know why the flood of new domestic crude oil isn’t lowering prices at the pump,” said Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “There is no question that the lower oil costs are not getting through to Americans’ wallets.”

Unbelievable logic. He doesn't understand that the cost of extracting oil is going up, not down, and the reason for "the flood of new domestic crude oil" is because prices are high. Who elects these people?

One wonders whether the Senator made a serious statement. It may well be that he is trying to bring the issue to the public's attention by repeating the oil industry/Republican Party statements that fracking will produce lots of cheap oil. As the cost at the pump hasn't gone down, the disinformation campaign will be seen for what it is by the public and they will start screaming for blood in the political arena. As stated by the oil company executive interviewed:

“These are commodities and they work in a global market,” Valero Chief Executive Officer William Klesse said in an interview after he testified. While refinery outages can cause prices to rise, the gain doesn’t last long, as refiners are quick to ship in fuel to take advantage of that premium, he said: “It’s all about supply and demand, and free markets.”

Hey, next year's another election year, so maybe the public will finally get to understand the truth of the world's oil problem...

E. Swanson

The disinformation campaign: ABC News, last night:

The segment starts about 4 minutes in. They blame transportation costs and regulations, but no mention at all of the costs involved in extracting all of this tight oil "in our backyard".

The (automated) Drumbeat for Wednesday July 17 2013

ironic that both the lead stories are identical. lol.

I've been having trouble opening "theplanetbeat" the last couple days - are there compatibility issues with Firefox? I've viewed the page before without any issues, so it's curious that it now doesn't work. I am getting a "The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading" error.

i use firefox myself.
webpagetest reports its fine :
try http://thedrumbeat.no-ip.biz/ and see if it loads from there. if it does then its just old dns information cached since i moved the server around a few times in the last few days. should clear in about a week.

There are some issues floating around the internet. Some sites/providers are having issues. No big announcements but there is a bug going around.


President Gingrich would have brought gas prices down to $2.00 per gallon.

Been here 7 years and 35 weeks. Sorry to see it go and I will especially miss the drumbeats. Or maybe I missed the reversal announcement since I have not been here for a couple of weeks.

It seems to me that most Americans act mainly on emotions...who is going to be president not the one who is most qualified it is the one who "feels right" I have a friend and he is so tied into his political "team" that no amount of facts will sway him..."you gotta be positive" "this is just like the 70's" we will swing out of this in no time...etc....The flip side of this is that when Americans get scared boy do they get scared! Maybe they/we can't handle the truth....

It seems to me that most Americans act mainly on emotions

The book Propaganda (later called public relations) is all about HUMANS acting on such.

Americans are just one expression of that human condition. Far easier to spot perhaps, but rooted in the human condition.

"...most Americans act mainly on emotions..."

Likely true. But so avoidable. A little work on one's self, a little therapy or other help, can help one realize that they are not their feelings, they don't ned to be led by the nose by their feelings. Feelings are transient. Feelings can be evaluated for appropriateness, and acted upon or not.

This is a great example of where individuals can take control of their environment. Don't remain blissfully (or not so blissfully) ignorant. Become accountable to your self!

To forever allow ones self to be manipulated, via feeling states, by outside interests shows great lack of self respect.

You have just defined one of the basic goals of religion and philosophy through the ages - teaching people to take control of themselves and to exist on more than a basic emotional & reactionary level. That is what the old myths and legends that the Christian church appropriated were all about. It is just not that easy to get people to be that introspective.

Eventually they gave up and tried to string all that mythological gobbledygook together and pretend it described a literal history of real events and people. That allowed it to appeal to a lot more people, in turn allowing a larger power base, but losing the actual purpose the myths were intended to illustrate.

Read The Pagan Christ for more detail.


I heard an interview recently from some religious scholar type saying that 'the truth' is represented in various religious texts, even if it isn't presented with/by 'facts'. Facts alone don't make 'truth', and truth can be represented non-factually.

I have maintained that good novels, non-fiction, contain a lot of 'truths'. One can learn a lot more of the/about truth from a good timeless piece of non-fiction than from any of today's newspapers, for example.

And on my original comment above, I was reflecting on WHY are people are happy to be lied to, led astray, why the truth is so scary, why we let emotions drive our behavior.

One answer I came up with is that it is an accumulation of a lot of little things: Bad food and bad diet, polluted environment, too much time in front of TV and computers (physically), lack of access to nature, receiving too much propaganda (the content of TV and computers, media), all these things add up to less resilient humans.

In isolation maybe not too bad, or even noticeable, but through time, together, detrimental, even deadly, and sure to diminish the capacity to be autonomous, well-adjusted, thinking, human beings. Our brains and our bodies are compromised.

tstreet, you mentioned:

President Gingrich would have brought gas prices down to $2.00 per gallon.

Actually I read the following, and Newt only promised $2.50 per gallon. Still a significant amount lower than the $3.50+ we are experiencing.

Former House Speaker and current Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has promised voters that gasoline will be $2.50 per gallon after he becomes president.

Ah yes - the people love to hear all about the virtues of the wondrous invisible hand until they wake up and find it at their throat...

Great line. The funny thing is...when that invisible hand is at their throat they scream "socialism". Rather odd...no? ;-)

Forget Adam Smith's "invisible hand". At some point, in the not too distant future perhaps, Mariam King Hubbert's "invisible foot" is going to kick us down the side of a mountain! :-P

maybe the public will finally get to understand the truth...

Dream on. Maybe on another planet actually inhabited by an intelligent species?

Reality is for those who can't handle drugs.

Who elects these people?

The same people who don't accept natural limits and want to repeal the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, who else?

Whether the Senator believes or understands is irrelevant - the people believe and expect it. The propaganda is being used to keep people hoodwinked, and it is working very well indeed, but therein lies the trap. They really do believe that we're going to become the new SA of NA, and that oil will be so cheap that gasoline will be given away for free, the economy will recover and we'll all drive 500hp cars and SUVs.

When it doesn't happen there will be a mighty scramble to try to find some new propaganda to explain/justify it. Something akin to the fake Arab oil embargo of the 1970's will be required. Maybe they can blame it on the global warming conspiracy.

The latest propaganda is over the oil pipelines, which people believe are required to get those massive volumes of cheap oil to the refineries and then to their tanks. In reality, the pipelines are needed to get the oil to the coasts where it can be shipped to higher bidders in Asia.

The people are utterly propagandized on this, thanks to creeps like Wyden and the constant lies in the corporate media.

Meh. The people are not that stupid. In fact they are pretty skeptical if you read the comment sections after gasoline price stories. They are not buying into any big price drop . . . they just assume that if there is a flood of oil they'll just keep the prices high and suck up lots of profits. Lots of cynicism . . . which is warranted. But it is often mis-directed.

Again with the people bashing! Who has heard of the relevant limits and laws? Mentioning those is utterly verboten in the great corporate marketing operation known as American politics and media.

The truth is that there is already a remarkably large share of the people who want real questions and answers, despite the above ban on them.

People don't vote for demogogues like Wyden because they have antoher choice. Pointless pandering is the only thing being offered, despite the slightly different D and R flavorings.

RE: Again with the people bashing!

I'm not sure that what I write below is true and I realize that it may be just another version of "people bashing." But I'm honestly curious...

Does it seem to other folks on TOD that the ...same people who [do] accept natural limits and ... the laws of thermodynamics ... seem to find it all too easy to bash people whose lives/careers don't expose them to thermo or the study of natural limits?

Does it seem to other folks on TOD that the ...same people who [do] accept natural limits and ... the laws of thermodynamics ... seem to find it all too easy to bash people whose lives/careers don't expose them to thermo or the study of natural limits?

I don't know about most people but I went to a public high school in Buffalo, New York and physics, chemistry and biology were part of the curriculum there. I don't remember my classmates being special or privileged. My own son went to a public high school in Florida and he also had to take those same subjects in order to graduate. I don't consider holding the public or our political leaders up to the standards of a high school graduate a very high bar. Perhaps I'm just being naive.

So while some may construe my comment as people bashing, which wasn't really my intent, all I was suggesting was that those people who expect magical solutions are simply ignoring reality and allowing themselves to be hoodwinked and manipulated by professional masters of propaganda who are being paid by special interests to tell them what they want to hear.

I think you're right. In that we've set the bar too low (in HS I took a course in thermo, a bit unusual, but the class was full, and we weren't all planning on being engineers). And, (as Ghung suggests) we do seem to have conditions ripe for enabling lazy thinking - almost like affluence has enabled a default brain-state akin to idling? Reminds me of Postman's "Amusing ourselves to death" critique of the media (and that was long before those 500+ channels).

It does seem adaptive for people to pull away from discussions that get too painful, too gloomy, too etc. I can easily imagine individual differences: some of us deal better with the specter of risk, uncertainty, rapid descent, limits, you-name-it.

So one idea we've been playing with is figuring out how to "domesticate" such ideas (e.g., domesticate rapid energy descent, peak oil, rapid climate disruption). Figure out how not to trip the adaptive response of pulling away that many others seem prone to.

So I wonder if you guys have any specific things that HAVE worked when trying to get folks to listen/understand. Specific ways of wording things, good starting lines, stories of examples that help engage. [*]

(I guess a list of things that work well at getting people running away from you holding their ears, or screaming, or whatever, could be shared too. But that list might be too long to be useful?)

[*] I'm reminded of studies done by Langer on how changing a few words can have huge effects on creative problem-solving (e.g., saying that a rubber object "is a children's toy" or "might be a children's toy" had the latter group using it to erase in a contrived task that called for making corrections). Her work taught me to choose the words I use with great care IF I'm looking to get a particular outcome.

I look at the latest generation of consumer technology and I am in awe at its sophistication, subtlety, miniaturization, and reliability. It makes the sci fi of my youth look tame, I hold in my hand a whole array of scientific tools, the entire national library, links to every research establishment on earth, the computing power to analyze gigabits of data, real time communication with almost anyone on the planet, four separate radio data links, and more that I haven't discovered yet. Almost everyone in my country has one or more, and they are almost entirely used to play trivial games, chat with their friends in the same room, or read up on the latest celebrity scandal.

They are oblivious to the wonders they hold, they accept them as ordinary, throw-away toys. It used to be said the difference between cutting edge technology and magic was 5o years. Now magic doesn't even register.

There's a famous saying from Arthur C. Clark:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Yet I'm seeing young people, young men, that even see a common automobile as an essentially magic thing that just does what they want it to do without ever considering what it is made of. It's strange to me because I grew up with cars from the '30s and '40s that were really tempermental and needed a lot of attention.

I really hate how little I understand this computer based tech. When I bought my first PC it seemed perfectly natural to me to also buy a copy of the Intel software that it ran on. I pretty much gave up on understanding any of it when Windows came out.

The days when an individual could understand a computer system are long gone. Today's systems are well beyond real individual comprehension. The size of these systems are in the 10's of millions of lines of code and are just too large to be comprehended by a single individual or even a single company.

For example, do you know that your cell phone likely contains two OS systems? One system for the user interface and applications and another system for the communications back-end running on separate processors with a 'firewall' separating the two. Only the first system is generally discussed - Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, ... And no the second system is not made by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, ...

Even OS developers only 'know' a very small part of these systems. Adding to the difficulty of knowing is the dynamic behavior of the systems as they themselves become more message based and data driven. For example, when looking at the code, you can search for the general logic followed for a given message, but you cannot know the exact path because it depends upon the content of the message. The code will also generally not explicitly reveal the message protocols - the order in which messages are sent and received. That information lies in some design document that is generally not fully accurate.

RalphW - very true. The combination of sealed box technology, and inherent redundancy (who has a 3 year old phone? Tablet?) means that very little of the technology we buy, we have any desire or chance to really understand or value.

The other side to the constantly connected generation is that despite the wide variety of media, many people now get a very narrow window of information. You choose your web browser and it filters content to that it thinks meets your interest. TV used to force periodic news bulletins on people. I suspect my kids have not seen a 20 or 30 minute news bulletin on TV in years. They will simply walk away and drop into their social media, accompanied by whatever musical soundtrack tickles their interest.

They may not see the political, environmental and social issues that we see and read about. It simply does not register on their 'feed'.

For me it works the other way too, the availability of cheap microprocessors and tools means that I can build my own stuff. The best part is the availability of information on the internet, I can teach myself everything from building chairs to wiring solar panels. In the end these are just tools and what matters is how you use them.

almost like affluence has enabled a default brain-state akin to idling?

There is a rabbithole to go down about HD TV, framerates and the effect on the mind filled with rumor and untested charges.

I will instead reference old TV http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/mcluhan-studies/v1_iss3/1_3art3.htm

The evidence is that television not only destroys the capacity of the viewer to attend, it also, by taking over a complex of direct and indirect neural pathways, decreases vigilance - the general state of arousal which prepares the organism for action should its attention be drawn to specific stimulus. (723.9)

The Emerys' report confirms Krugman's preliminary findings of a reduction of brain wave activity in television viewing linked to a pattern associated with passive inattention. "The continuous trance-like fixation of the viewer is then not attention but distraction - a form akin to daydreaming or time out" (Ibid.). The chaos of high stimulation and extreme disequilibrium seems totally lacking here. Consciousness is not in evidence.


Thusly the rabbit hole I've referenced.

Reading I've done notes that the refresh rate for dogs is 89 fps. Some HD TV sets are 120 fps refresh. Thus the dog may have a different response to the old 480P rate VS new HD "films". Dogs seem far more concerned over a puppy whining than pictures of another dog or other video.

That and higher refresh rate concerns others. At least things like the the GNU EEG project would allow individual monitoring of what someone is "thinking" when they interact with media.

Things that have worked? Right Q, Aspera, thanks for asking.

I continue to be astonished at the strong positive reaction to my stratagem of presenting PV as fun as well as the right thing to do. The locals seem to have a growing appetite for those panels I bought in shipping containers and resold at cost. Groups have come together to install and share experiences, all in a social picnic atmosphere laced with mild, friendly competitiveness.

A big seller- my mini-split heat pump totally supported by PV on these recent hot sunny days. People love the idea of sin-free comfort.

And don't ever bring in paybacktime or other such simpleminded nonsense. We are playing a fun sport. Everybody knows that fun sports aren't necessarily cheap.

What mini-split heat pump have you been selling with PV attached? It is a self contained system or is the PV just grid-tied with the whole house?

I'm not selling, just talking, giving examples and assisting in first costs. In other words, being a booster. The invisible wings of the handyman mindset take over from there, zooming off every which way into worlds anew where, fortunately, I do not exist.

OK,, ok, I did say I was selling. I meant selling the idea, not the hardware, I am selling what's free for the taking, if you call that selling.

No, wimbi, get with it. YOU called it selling, not us.

Dang. just go back to setting up the new PV.

so what's the best inverter? The little ones on each panel in parallel? Or the high voltage ones in series that provide the opportunity to kill people?

"so what's the best inverter?"

That, of course, depends on the application. For off grid, most folks know what my answer will be.

BTW, after 9 years I just had my first Outback failure. Not a failure really, just a warning that the internal fan in our OB inverter is failing. It only runs under heavy loads. Their system monitor is good at warning you about stuff. Called Outback; part is free for lifetime; instructional video online. They are sending a spare fan for my charge controllers as well, just in case, since some have been in operation almost ten years. Hard to beat that.

That's smart on the company's part...if the fan goes out then all of the other stuff goes with it. Better to send a free fan out under warranty than have to replace the whole unit under warranty.

These units have been out of warranty for 7 years. It's about reputation and customer loyalty. Outback has almost a cult following, sort of like Milwaukee, Craftsman, and DeWalt had in the past.

Enphase Energy is the dominant player in the micro-inverter arena. They just announced their new 250watt microinverters so you can find a lot of good deals on the existing line of 215watt inverters (The M215). $137 each at some places.

What mini-split heat pump models are recommended these days? Some years back HereInHalifax had some specific recommendations, but there are probably newer models now. (Paul in Halifax: can we make contact off-line?) I'm looking for a smallish model, that runs on 115VAC.

Sanyo makes a 9000BTU - 120VAC unit that spends a lot of time down in the 300 watt range if you leave the fan on low, Runs fine with a single 3kW Outback Inverter. but it's a dated design. IMO, The Fujitsu 9 or 12 RLS2 is the unit for Offgrid now. Note the Amazing 27+ SEER Rating, There is a relay card option for the RLS2 that can be set-up for PV Power only mode during the day. ie. None or Little energy from Batteries. You need a 240V Inverter or an AutoTransformer. For Grid tie, 6to9 - 250 watt modules with micros will Net Zero this unit in most climates.

I'm glad to see you folks providing all the new scoop. We are seeing a revolution right before our eyes- jumping real fast from carbon to solar. My pitch here is that we should be making loud noises about this new news to the oblivious masses so as to hasten the day of salvation.

My mini-split (mitsubishi) is a wonder- no noise of consequence inside or out, high performance. I have the simplest control system - me and the on-off switch. It is on the 240 volt grid only, to be fed by, I have now decided, PV-micros. Since I bought that crate of panels for the multitudes, my own panel cost is low, so I am putting in 24 of them, with the thought of going to an EV-solar commuter as situation permits.

I am thinking the heat pump will largely replace the wood stove in the cold weather.

BTW, the heat pump compressor package is in a box sitting on top of a big water cistern and I pump cool water over it, to make it think it is living in mildly drizzly seattle instead of steaming appalachia.

I am leaving my 3kW battery off-grid system just as is, unconnected to anything else. Redundancy is the name of the game.

We're being forced away from Wood as well, my wife just started noticing some real breathing discomfort last winter that she felt was being triggered by particulates from our stove, even tho' it's a very tight Cat. stove.

Must Keep insulating, and I'm shopping for Mini Splits.. tho' I've already gotten a little fixated on the Mistubishi RLS line as the 'Steinway Concert Grand'.. why settle for less?

Thanks, Longtimber. That relay card option is just what I'm looking for. With increased PV output, I'm setting up the system to be a more time-of-use (actually voltage-of-use) setup. After the batteries are charged, I need to retask the PV output. I've already got some of it producing hot water, but also running an AC in the master suite (which I turn on manually). Having the charge controllers decide the battery is full and turn the heat pump on (if it's calling for heat or cool) will be nice.

Hi VT,

We have two 12,000 BTU/hr inverter-based Sanyos that operate at 115-volts and I'm very pleased with their performance. Unfortunately, Sanyo was bought out by Panasonic, so they're difficult to find and their replacements are inferior in my mind.

Under low demand, the Sanyos will loaf-about at 250 or so watts, and power draw maxes-out at around 1,500-watts in turbo boost.

Professionally, we use the Fujitsu 12RLS2 which is another great product, but it runs at 240-volts.

If there's anything else I can do to assist, you're welcome to shoot me an e-mail at my given name as shown below plus ".eldridge@aldgroup.ca".


There is a point of view that takes behavioralism as its basis. This point of view holds that our actions are caused by prior environmental factors, and the positive and negative reinforcement experienced from birth. We have no control over those causative factors and, therefore, no one is really ultimately responsible for anything. This is related to the to the Darwinian perspective that our environment determines our evolutionary trajectory. However, if this view is correct, we can't really attack the so called people bashers,either. So bash away. We know you can't help it. LOL

Still, when I see very little change with respect to the humongus vehicles I see everywhere, I just can't help the bashing, even if only internal.

RE: Behaviorism - This point of view holds that our actions are caused by prior environmental factors...

Yes, context, past and current, affects present behavior. Well established empirically. And how could it not for an adaptive organism.

But is that necessarily the only thing that can affect behavior? Big question that!

It does seem that evolution placed cognition between the sensual inputs and our outputs. This would seem to have given us more response options (in a context where all the good niche's were already as we descended from the tress to the savannah). Maybe to down-regulate the degree to which past context affects current response (even to the point of creating a novel response to a current context?) Those too would seem adaptive.

Might we be a little bit more complicated than a simple stimulus-response machine? Another big question that psychology has been working on for a while I'm told. Below OldTech talks about the "10's of millions of lines of code" in the communication/computing systems that we use, making those systems difficult for any one person to fully grasp. And that some of the processing is context based; routing/response based on the content of the information being processed. That's something that I didn't know about. But the fact that the brain has 10^14 neural connections gives me some pause in trying to characterize it as a simple S-R system.

Of course, some write that all this cognition is good for, is tricking the system into thinking it's not being controlled by past context; making it imagine that it has control over its own outputs. But I keep asking, tricking what exactly? And why? Massive lack of parsimony in that argument if you ask me.

And then there's the role of the future. Any chance that it might affect the present? Seems logically impossible.

But a fascinating (and dense) recent article took this on. I have a lot of respect for Roy Baumeister's work, so it caught my eye.

Seligman, Railton, Baumeister & Sripada (2013). Navigating into the future or driven by the past. Perspectives on Psychological Science.8(2): 119-141.


Prospection (Gilbert & Wilson, 2007), the representation of possible futures, is a ubiquitous feature of the human mind. Much psychological theory and practice, in contrast, has understood human action as determined by the past and viewed any such teleology (selection of action in light of goals) as a violation of natural law because the future cannot act on the present. Prospection involves no backward causation; rather, it is guidance not by the future itself but by present, evaluative representations of possible future states. These representations can be understood minimally as "If X, then Y" conditionals, and the process of prospection can be understood as the generation and evaluation of these conditionals. We review the history of the attempt to cast teleology out of science, culminating in the failures of behaviorism and psychoanalysis to account adequately for action without teleology. A wide range of evidence suggests that prospection is a central organizing feature of perception, cognition, affect, memory, motivation, and action. The authors speculate that prospection casts new light on why subjectivity is part of consciousness, what is "free" and "willing" in "free will," and on mental disorders and their treatment. Viewing behavior as driven by the past was a powerful framework that helped create scientific psychology, but accumulating evidence in a wide range of areas of research suggests a shift in framework, in which navigation into the future is seen as a core organizing principle of animal and human behavior.

Your response reminds me of why I will miss TOD. Yes, we debated the crap out of this in college many, many years ago. The main thing the debate did for me was seriously screw me up for several years. Even if we don't have free will, we are probably better off if we believe and/or act as we do.

Interesting - many years ago some teacher told me that there was no such thing as altruism and that everybody always acted in their own selfish self interest. This caused me a lot of distress for a long time, as I could not really refute it. Eventually I came to understand that it was not really wrong, rather just a fragment of a concept that had been so oversimplified that it meant nothing. 1=1, yes, but so what?

Your comment seems to propose that the future itself influences processes in our mind. I find the wording a bit misleading.

I don't see what's so special in your cited paper (with all due respect). Isn't it logical that we make decisions based on what we will expect will happen due to those decisions? And of course, the only input we have are past environmental influences. The future itself, for practical reasons, never influences our mind, besides our own perception of what the future will be.

How can this have been overlooked in previous theories of the mind?

In my opinion, this is again nothing but a philosophical effort trying to reintroduce free will into scientific discourse.

But, free will is a non-issue. Just try to define the concept of free will, and it makes no sense. For example, the wikipedia definition:

Free Will: the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

Or, if wikipedia doesn't meet one's standard, cambridge.org:

Free Will: he ability to decide what to do independently of any outside influence

So, free will would mean our decisions are made under no constraints, without any influence. No physical limitations, not limited by any law.

What does that even mean?

Free will is not a scientific concept, but a moral and legal one about responsibility. Scientifically speaking, there's no real practical value to the discussion of free will.

Edited out some spelling errors.

Yes, context, past and current, affects present behavior. Well established empirically. And how could it not for an adaptive organism.

Good point about an adaptive organisms.

Dennett on free will and determinism


Does it seem to other folks on TOD that the ...same people who [do] accept natural limits and ... the laws of thermodynamics ... seem to find it all too easy to bash people whose lives/careers don't expose them to thermo or the study of natural limits?

I don't know about most people but I went to a public high school in Buffalo, New York and physics, chemistry and biology were part of the curriculum there. I don't remember my classmates being special or privileged. My own son went to a public high school in Florida and he also had to take those same subjects in order to graduate. I don't consider holding the public or our political leaders up to the standards of a high school graduate a very high bar. Perhaps I'm just being naive.

So while some may construe my comment as people bashing, which wasn't really my intent, all I was suggesting was that those people who expect magical solutions are simply ignoring reality and allowing themselves to be hoodwinked and manipulated by professional masters of propaganda who are being paid by special interests to tell them what they want to hear.

"...all too easy to bash people whose lives/careers don't expose them to thermo or the study of natural limits?"

That's a pretty big swath of society, and it's easy to mistake calling-it-as-one-sees-it for 'bashing'. I'm not sure it matters when it comes to mitigating our many predicaments. I've known more folks to outright reject, rather than accept this stuff when presented with an alternative view of how they could see things. I've explained the concepts of the increasing costs of bringing declining resources to market in very reasonable terms, only to find that many folks simply don't care, or don't want to know. Others already 'have it figured out'. Those who really are seeking clarity at least have a sense that things aren't as they are being presented; may be willing to listen. Then again, what makes me an expert?

It takes work, time, and energy to be a diligent skeptic, and we have an intellectually lazy society for the most part. Many folks find answers they're comfortable with and move on to bread and circuses, or whatever distractions they feel entitled to. Others are just too damn busy to pay attention, and some are just plain dumb. Life makes too many demands on their situational awareness. They're drowning in complexity. Easier to latch onto a simple story and stick to it.

Out of 500+ TV channels and thousands of websites, how many do you consider worth devoting any time to? What percentage?

I watch 2 TV's. One has 42 favorites programmed, mostly movie channels including Turner and HBO, The otherTV has about 20 assorted favorites including C-SPAN 2 which I watch on weekends, business channels and a music channel. That would be about 12%, far more than enough. Regular websites are less than a dozen. Fortunately I am retired with lots of time to waste.

I absolutely agree with you Ghung - and it may not even be outright rejection - but I run into A LOT of people who you really just can't engage in a conversation about this stuff. I can talk sports and some other current events with the best of them - so I don't think it is ALL in my lack of presentation skills and keeping things engaging - maybe I'm fooling myself and it is though :) But many times if the talk turns to something a bit "heavier" either from a doom & gloom standpoint or more technically oriented - people just seem to clam up and the conversation becomes lopsided, if not downright awkward...

There are A LOT of people who don't want to know about this stuff - they take everything a day at a time. Probably a good defense mechanism but not great for the long view. Think of how many people say "I never watch the news / read a newspaper - it's too depressing" - it's been quite a few in my experience. And the stuff put out there for popular consumption is just barely scratching the surface of the damn depressing stuff discussed on a daily basis here...

And obviously - what makes you an expert is that you are surrounded by all of us super-geniuses here on TOD :)

When I was young I went to Auschwitz; and I could not understand how so many of them stayed in Germany when they had the means to leave.....Now I am older and I understand.

I a very real sense, we all have to be intellectually lazy to survive in the modern world. We just don't have the brainpower to understand 1% of it, so we have to pick and choose a few narrow specialties to pay real attention to. The problem is that so many have chosen rather meaningless areas, like celebrities, or sports trivia, or (a particular) religious doctrine, or clothing fashions.... We all have to wing-it (and depend on what we've heard and couldn't/wouldn't verify) in many areas.

Good question Ghung. BTW, thank you for years of intelligent comments on TOD. I now watch very little TV any more. Some weekend PBS shows which are mostly BBC anyway. We finally got rid of cable TV. Why pay for something you don't use? I get my news from aggregators like Drumbeat, resilience.org. etc. NPR news is very poor now, esp morning edition.The same tired"expert economists", the endless human interest mawkish segments on the trials of our "warriors" and their families "serving" in far flung corners of the collapsing empire etc. CBC and some world newspapers still have value. Intelligent bloggers are my main source of info and opinion. In a world where the media should be reporting about the forest, instead all we get are stories about the trees. I find I am a lot happier hiking in the mountains and working in the garden.

Thanks, hugho. I've stopped watching most mainstream news for the most part. It's designed to be stressful it seems. I listen to local NPR with my morning coffee, mainly for the headlines and local stuff (Asheville NPR is good at focussing on local issues), and occasionally tune in to national news just to give myself a sense of what folks are being fed, and why they may believe what they do. I usually end up yelling at the talking heads on TV; not really healthy, but it beats yelling at real people in the community ;-)

Does it seem to other folks on TOD that the ...same people who [do] accept natural limits and ... the laws of thermodynamics ... seem to find it all too easy to bash people whose lives/careers don't expose them to thermo or the study of natural limits?

It seems that even many who have been exposed to such concepts can find it very difficult to overcome earlier "programming". I once had a professional acquaintance with an engineering degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the US. In conversation one day, he told me that he didn't believe in evolution - it violated the laws of thermodynamics. I was literally speechless. And he is far from unique.

On any given day, I can usually keep up with the best of them in the misanthropy department (having to drive doesn't help in this regard) and I think our prospects look pretty bleak. But apropos of (almost) nothing, I've gotten interested lately in the philosophical arguments about free will. I'm not at all sure we ever really had a choice. Mother nature is a cold-hearted, ruthless, cast-iron b**ch and, as someone once said, consciousness may be the cruelest joke she knows how to play.

I tend to ignore arguments involving the 2nd law of thermodynamics, partly because it's rarely relevant to the subject at hand, partly because people miss or misunderstand the whole "closed system" aspect and pointing that out doesn't seem to make any difference, and partially because I'm not entirely convinced that entropy is a real thing anyway.

Since the last part of that sentence is probably going to raise somebody's hackles, I'm going to state that it seems to me that there are 3 things (entropy, gravity, and dark matter) which stand a good chance of not being "real" in of themselves, but a superficial description of something that we're looking at completely the wrong way. As an example, the old concept of "epicycles" came about because people assumed that the earth was the center of the universe. When it was reframed as the sun being in the center of the solar system, that ugly mess went away. Any or all of those things may well be akin to epicycles, except in a more insidious manner because we have no idea where these concepts are causing us to mess up. (Well, okay, in the case of dark matter it's fairly easy to see where we might be going wrong, but not gravity or entropy.)

I have no proof of this, obviously. It doesn't mean I won't make use of the concept of entropy if there's no good way to avoid it, just that I prefer not to.

Yes, I also try to avoid entropy in conversations. Thing is, I suspect many people also don't fully understand it. The limits to growth community has created a quite encompassing philosophical narrative around entropy, although its technical definition doesn't really lend it to that purpose. Tom Murphy's last blog plost (Do the math) was really interesting for me.

Entropy is a real physical quantity:

S = k ln(W),

where S=entropy, k=Boltzmann's constant, and W=# of available states occupied by molecules in the system.

It has units of J/K (energy per temperature), which can be physically interpreted as the energy associated with raising/lowering the temperature of a system. Because of this, entropy is strongly linked with the heat capacity of a system. For an ideal gas:

del(S)= Cp ln(Tnew/Told),

where Cp=heat capacity (assumed constant) and T is absolute temperature.

You're right that the confusing part is how the system boundaries are drawn, and a lot of people use entropy the wrong way (taking it as a synonym for "disorder", "chaos", or "waste" seems to be common, but none of these are exactly correct).

To me, the basic idea of entropy is that nature prefers to have lots of molecules in medium level states rather than having a few in high level states and the rest in low levels. "Nature abhors a gradient", from Into the Cool by Schneider, summarizes it well. However, even in this book, the authors sometimes conflate entropy with randomness, which is also not quite correct since the molecules have a known distribution of states based on their temperature (as defined by the partition function).

I'm with you that we don't understand entropy, gravity, and dark matter/energy completely (especially dark matter/energy which are basically fudge factors to make our mathematical models work).

But I'd say we don't understand them at the extremes, i.e., the quantum, relativistic, and cosmic scales. Are black holes entropy consumers/destroyers, so entropy in the entire universe is conserved (like all other energy quantities)? Might be, but we'll probably never find out since there's no way to probe them.

However, just like Newton's laws of motion work pretty well for everything on earth (except particle accelerators), the 2nd Law of thermodynamics is pretty irrefutable if used properly.

I'm not entirely convinced that entropy is a real thing anyway.

I have to admit that my hackles have indeed been raised by that statement!

The following is excerpted from:
Ecosystem Thermodynamics
Presentation given in the course of the Master’s Programme
Environmental Management
– Module 2.1.1 “Ecosystem Analysis” –
Aiko Huckauf

According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics,

Note: equation removed because I received a message that my post would not be accepted due to containing invalid characters. Okydoky!

enhance the entropy of the universe.
Hence the universe will eventually degenerate
towards thermodynamic equilibrium where:

* all gradients are eliminated,
* all matter is transferred into its most stable chemical state,
* the entropy has reached its maximum, and
* the system is dead.

Some people find this heat death of the universe thought so disturbing that they want to forbid the
Second Law:

“I wouldn’t want my child
growing up in a world
headed for total heat death
and dissolution into a
vacuum. No decent parent
would want that.”

Kansas state senator Will Blanchard

Others have replaced the problematical concept of entropy by the more conceivable concept of exergy:
Exergy is the amount of work a system can perform when brought into thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment.

Exergy indicates a system’s distance from thermodynamic equilibrium: The higher the exergy,
the farther the distance.

Exergy is the available (or: usable) energy of a system and hence a measure of energy quality: The higher the
quality of the energy, the smaller the energy loss (e. g. as waste heat) when it is used.

I'm not entirely convinced that entropy is a real thing anyway.

OK, but is temperature real? I can tell when I stick my hand over a hot stove so it sure seems real even though, like entropy, it's a statistical property of an ensemble. Is momentum real? It seems real enough when I walk into a lamppost while not watching where I'm going. Is Ψ real? Hmm, good question.

They're mathematical constructs we use to model what we perceive and some are more intuitive and seem more real than others.

I wonder if we have the cognitive machinery necessary to even remotely comprehend what's "real". Getting back to evolution, what would be the selection pressure for that? I always liked the opening of the PBS Nova presentation of The Elegant Universe where Brian Greene is giving a lecture on quantum electrodynamics to his dog.

Musical argon is most accurate thermometer ever

The International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) in Paris, France, suggests defining the kelvin in terms of the Boltzmann constant, which relates the energy of particles to their temperature. That would be accurate even at extremes. The tricky part is setting an accurate value for the constant.

De Podesta and his colleagues filled a copper vessel with a known volume of argon gas. A gas's energy is related to the average speed of its atoms, which is linked to the speed of sound. By playing notes through the vessel at many frequencies, the team determined the speed of sound in the argon, and the energy of its atoms.

- I'm going to state that it seems to me that there are 3 things (entropy, gravity, and dark matter) which stand a good chance of not being "real" in of themselves, but a superficial description of something that we're looking at [in] completely the wrong way.

Your opinion is shared by many Physicists at the The Oxford Conference on Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality

To describe the present state of physics, the physicists here use an analogy by the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. He compares the present situation in physics to that of the early 17th century when Galileo and Kepler were working on the mechanics of early modern science. Looking back at that time, today's scientists view Galileo's and Kepler's ideas as a mixed bag of insight and error; future scientists may see the ideas of today's brightest researchers in much the same way.

Although I don't have any particular beef with entropy at the moment, I've seen some things that would suggest that there is a large chuck of physics that we have no clue about.

Seraph, you may enjoy this: What is Real?

I suspect that some of our notions of conservation, don't work on cosmological scales. That includes stuff like the conservation of the net mass-energy in the universe. Of course humans have no way to exploit loopholes that only manifest themselves on a cosmological scale, so we are stuck with second law limitations.

There are (at least) two ways of looking at the 2nd law. Classical thermodynamics, as developed from Carnot through Gibbs, takes the second law as a postulate. Boltzmann's statistical thermodynamics could derive the second law from perhaps more fundamental considerations of energy transfer during random interactions.

Of course both are based on the "absurdity" of perpetual motion, e.g. wikipedia,

In classical thermodynamics, the second law is a basic postulate applicable to any system involving heat energy transfer; in statistical thermodynamics, the second law is a consequence of the assumed randomness of molecular chaos. There are many versions of the second law, but they all have the same effect, which is to explain the phenomenon of irreversibility in nature.

Personally I follow Eddington's interpretation that time is *defined* by increasing randomness, also that the success of general relativity is that it makes minimal assumptions about underlying reality. His "Nature of the Physical World" is a good read, but not mainstream physics at present.

I've not read Eddignton, but c'mon, 1928 !?

Try some 21st century science, try Brian Whitworth's Chapter 1. The emergence of the physical world from information processing :

This chapter links the conjecture that the physical
world is a virtual reality to the findings of
modern physics. What is usually the subject of
science fiction is here proposed as a scientific theory
open to empirical evaluation. We know from physics
how the world behaves and from computing how
information behaves, so whether the physical world
arises from ongoing information processing is a
question science can evaluate. A prima facie case f
or the virtual reality conjecture is presented. If a
photon is a pixel on a multi-dimensional grid that
gives rise to space, the speed of light could
reflect its refresh rate. If mass, charge and energy all arise from processing, the many conservation laws of physics could reduce to a single law of dynamic
information conservation. If the universe is a virtual
reality, then its big bang creation could be simply
when the system was booted up. Deriving core
physics from information processing could reconcile
relativity and quantum theory, with the former
how processing creates the space-time operating
system and the latter how it creates energy and
matter application

For what it's worth this precedes the abstract in case you don't go to the original>>

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine,
it is stranger than we can imagine -
Sir Arthur Eddington

What "lower oil costs" are you talking about, Mr. Senator? WTI is about as high as it's ever been for any length of time.

Unbelievable, indeed.

Ha ha, most of the reps were elected by chanting "Drill baby Drill!" The oil companies paid for their election.

Unbelievable logic. He doesn't understand that the cost of extracting oil is going up, not down, and the reason for "the flood of new domestic crude oil" is because prices are high. Who elects these people?

Well, he is asking the question and is not the expert. The more interesting thing is whether he will get a truthful and accurate answer.

Calling westexas! Maybe the senators need to hear from one Jeffrey Brown on how the OECD countries are being outbid for a declining quantity of world net exports by the BRICS. Wonder if they'd find that that interesting?

Alan from the islands

I just saw WestTexas on Peakoil.com -- talking about the end of the exurbs.

Regarding Air-Conditioning Will Be the End of Us, above, I've posted several times about the passive cooling strategy I used when designing our home, and how it has exceeded my expectations. I actually had to do a lot of convincing to get code approval, though one of my inspectors, now retired, paid me a visit last summer to get some pointers on designing his new home. He was impressed that our living area was still holding in the mid 70 degree range in the afternoon with outside temps pushing 92; no air conditioning. He said these design considerations should be code.

While we have a small 5000 BTU window unit in the bedroom, it gets used only when temperature and humidity make sleeping dificult, and is turned on after the batteries are at full charge and the DHW tank's water is heated, usually mid afternoon. We plan to replace the window unit with a small ductless heat pump at some point. The window unit gets removed, cleaned and stored for cooler months, when I convert the house to the passive heating mode.

Doing a quick calculation, our rather large living area has over 200 square feet of screened windows and doors that are opened when it's cooler (mainly at night). The ceiling in the center of the room is 16 feet high with awning windows that remain opened during summer months, passively venting warmer air, pulling cooler air through from below. The breeze wafts through nicely, and we close the lower windows and doors once the outdoor temps exceed the indoor temps. No push-button climate control, though I suppose some of this could be automated. Although I installed all of the required ductwork, there is no forced air system installed yet. All of the bedrooms have large, screened windows and ceiling fans.

I'm not sure how any of this can be implemented at scale, since, as with so many things, we've collectively invested in unsustainable strategies. Ultimately, survival will trump relative comfort in our decision making.

Training the Building Inspector.
Gary and Lorraine built a dome house in Imperial County, California in the early 1980's with some innovative passive HVAC features. It was the first of it's kind and they shared their stories of cooperation, obfuscation, and just ignoring the Inspector's concerns.
The dome was six or more inches of foam sprayed on a balloon attached to the foundation. (No framing? You can't do that. Wiring and water runs were questioned too.) They had a south facing sliding glass door with black tile flooring to capture heat from the winter sun and a large white throw rug to cover the tiles when temps rose. There is a fountain with with steel piping above the water line leading to the basement to draw in cooler air. The basement was the workshop, then became bedrooms (Hey, you can't have bedrooms below grade...).
The place is just beautiful and air tight. They did add a small room A/C to moderate temps and humidity.
I got pics somewhere.

What's old is new again. That is/was the principle design of our 1887 built Florida home. They are built up on piers to pull in cooler air from below. Double hung windows to vent out hot air near the ceiling levels. 11 or 12 foot ceilings.

Common sense was to just stay out of the hot parts of the house. Too obvious?

Used to have whole-house fan. It is still sitting in the attic. About 36" diameter, louvers would be opened in the evening, fan turned on and it would pull up the cool air and vent through the attic. If still too hot, there were sleeping porches.

Quaint, but can't do that now for fear of the masses of criminals just waiting to rob and rape.

"... fear of the masses of criminals just waiting to rob and rape."

In our house they'll have to get past the dogs. Shotgun comes next.

Shotgun comes next.

It would be a shame if the dogs were hit by some of those shotgun pellets.

Yes it would. Almost as bad as being robbed and raped (or worse). However, the dogs' chances for survival are better than the evil doers.

By the time those "masses of criminals" travel from The Big City to a neighborhood near you, they will likely have learned about shotguns and dogs. You--shotgun, me--rifle, who wins? Especially if it's winter and Mr. Rifleman shoots out your windows. Do you cover the window openings, exposing yourself to a well placed kill shot, or do you freeze to death? Do you go outside for more firewood, again exposing yourself to gunfire, or do you freeze to death? Not to forget, a few well placed shots will kill your dogs (and your PV too). If (when?) TSHTF, life in the country won't be much fun any longer..

E. Swanson

If TS really HTF as you portray it, I think the safest would be to live in a small city. On the countryside one can impose production quotas to feed the cities, which can project military power if needed.

Anyway, that's what I would expect based on how most cultures dealt with food shortages (USSR, Rome, feudal systems, colonies etc). Better to keep your city population happy and have to deal with some misery on the countryside than the other way around.

If it gets to that point, I'll be in a whole different mode. Besides, in our area, the "masses of criminals" from The Big City will have had to pass through some tough areas, especially if they come up through North Georgia (Dawson County?!, Lumpkin, Pickens, Gilmer, Rabun?!). They'll likely be pretty well shot up before they get here.

BTW:, our new congressman, Mark Meadows, held a live telephone forum last night and took a lot of questions. While he wasn't interested in taking my question on campaign finance and corporate 'personhood' (didn't make it past the screener), he took quite a few questions on "how do we keep Obama from getting our guns?", and "why can't I find ammunition anywhere".

He lost me when he used "Keystone pipeline" and "American energy independence" in the same sentence. I think I'll write the paper and pose an open question to Mr. Meadows about that one: "WTF does the Keystone pipeline have to do with American energy independence, you lyin' SOS?"

Darned, I was trying to edit my comment as you posted. You sort of answered my question: Do you shoot first and ask questions later when someone knocks on you door asking for help? If (when?) TSHTF, life in the country won't be much fun any longer.

The continued lack of ammo is really scary to me, but the market appears to be catching up with the demand. Reloading equipment and components have been hard to find as well, but that might be because the retailers won't want to sell until they are sure of their cost. I have managed to pull together a basic rig, as I wanted to start reloading again, as part of my long term plan in case things really do fall off the cliff. I doubt I could make a flint arrowhead or stone knife, tan deer skins for outerwear or moccasins...

E. Swanson

" I doubt I could make a flint arrowhead or stone knife, tan deer skins for outerwear or moccasins..."

Gosh. Why not? I can do those things (I was a primitive archery instructor for the Boy Scouts many years ago. It's like falling off a bike; one never forgets how). I really prefer steel though, using old car body parts and my PV-powered grinder.

Regarding guns and ammo, our local gun shop has very little stuff on the shelf. I assumed it was due to an overall shortage, but a "friend in the know" told me the owner has a stockpile, though is being very selective about who he sells to. He's in good with local law enforcement and militia types (sort of one-and-the-same here), and I'm sure he has a prefered customer list. I don't do much business there, as he seems quite paranoid.

Spooky times...

I refer the honourable gentleman to the point made earlier. Too many guns, too many nutcases for any spot to be 'safe', be it country, suburb or town.

When the US goes off the cliff, it will go in a blizzard of bullets.

"I doubt I could make a flint arrowhead or stone knife, tan deer skins for outerwear or moccasins..."

Don't worry about that. There isn't enough deer.

Reminds me of something I read here years ago regarding falling off the cliff .... "Good news is crab grass is edible. Bad news is there isn't enough crab grass."

The lack of ammo scares me too but probably for a very different reason. I worry about all these people buying up huge arsenals of weapons. As is, Americans own half the private guns in the world and we are buying more. And gun ownership has plateaued so it isn't new people buying guns but the same people buying more and more guns. As responsible as most gun owners are, there will inevitably be lots of sad effects from this. Suicides, gun accidents, guns falling into the black market from thefts, ill-thought out 'self-defense' situations, etc. Just google 'child gun accident' every week and learn of new sads stories of kids getting killed. So please be be responsible with those guns. We now have 12 states where the number of gun deaths is higher than the deaths from automobile accidents. :-( (The good news is the main reason for that is safer cars.)

And less driving - especially by young people. And an aging population. And slower driving, to save gas. (At least that last bit was evident in 2008, perhaps faded away now.)

The reality is that each area will have its own strategy. For example, in my area the chainsaw will be the weapon of choice. Huh? I'm in the mountains with only three roads in and out. Block them and let the bad guys pile up in a town 30 or more miles away. Once a traffic jamb starts no one is going to be able to move freely except on foot...a poor choice.

The disadvantage is that local will also be trapped which could be problematic.


Sounds like Lucifer's Hammer.

If you are freezing in your house, what is happening to the rifleman outside? You probably have jackets in your house too.

A better approach is for the attackers to throw a stink bomb, tear gas, smoke bomb or fire into the house and shoot the people as they exit through the doors. Thus they do not have to wait outside in the cold.

You need a castle wall and moat to protect yourself from these types.

Here you go. This guy started building his castle a few miles north of my Grandpa's farm when I was just a kid, when the area was still quite rural. It's made almost entirely of Tate, GA marble (Lincoln Memorial statue). Doesn't look very defensible though. IIRC, the guy was a stone mason.

It seems he doesn't like trees all that much, eh? I'm assuming that the brownish area around his castle is/was a lawn? I'd hate to see his lawn mower or does he keep a pet dragon and he lets it scorch the property every few weeks?

You need a castle wall and moat to protect yourself from these types.

Because of the rifle and cannon the castle and moat fell out of use as a defense method.

At the point where roving bands exist the larger caliber weapons will be in deployment and such fortifications won't stand up to such.

Just a note to encourage people to have a look at Massagran's new theoildrums.com site as one of the places to continue our conversation after TheOilDrum closes. I like the look and feel of Massagran's site and expect to be spending some time there. I'll also try to make sure that the best of the articles I post at EnergyTrends get picked up at theoildrums.com.

Hope to see you there!

I'll join but I have to be brutually honest upfront: it's incredibly bloated and messy at it's front page. Have articles come down by date by default, not by categories as it is now, and make articles take up the entire page horizonatally as it is on Oil Drum, but not vertically, to make room for 2 articles or so per screenview.

Also, stretch it a lot more on the sides.

The main point is to have a smooth transition. If there is any departure from the (wise) design decisions made by this site, then it should be voted upon by the community. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

It also refuses to work with a perfectly valid 2007 browser - why the obscession with software updates? Of course a legendary 1997 browser worked without a whinge, and what it doesn't display, I couldn't care less about!

Appreciate if you could test out theplanetbeat.com with your older browsers and let me know if it works.

Works fine with Ubuntu/Firefox 22 (HDMI @ 1080P).

With XP/IE8 (my solar data logging system) I have to zoom out to smaller text or things run together. The rez on that system is only 1024 X 768, which may be why some folks are having trouble with some of these newer sites. Some sites assume 1280 X ??? or better.

Can we move over our TOD tenure like air miles? Mine is actually a year longer as I changed user name after moving from Florida to BC.

Yes, thought it appropriate to move in a perfect diagonal across the continent.

Appreciate the effort and legacy. There is a lot of knowledge and wisdom invested in TOD. Used some yesterday to inform on the great oil and gas fracing bonanza that will have the relative duration of your average popcorn fart.


A particularly alarming aspect of Fatca is that it seeks to co-opt foreign banks as long-arm enforcement agencies of the Internal Revenue Service—even when it might contravene that country's own privacy or data-protection laws. If financial institutions don't report U.S. citizens holding accounts with them, these institutions face a 30% withholding tax on securities transactions that originate in the U.S.

Given this threat, why allow an American, or even suspected American, to bank with you? The reporting costs, and the consequences of a mistake, are too onerous

Looks like drawdown continues:

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending July 12, 2013
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 16.2 million barrels per day during the week ending July 12, 2013, 119 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 5.1 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.7 million barrels per day last week, up by 180 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 7.7 million barrels per day, 1.1 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 717 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 130 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 6.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 367.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels last week and are well above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 3.9 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged about 19.5 million barrels per day, up by 3.0 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day, up by 2.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 4.0 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 12.0 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.3 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

I prefer the graphs: http://www.eia.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_crude.html

Looks like things are peachy, really. There's been a rapid drop in stocks, but it's still on the high end of the 5 year. I don't see anything too wonky at the moment.

There is no MOL troubles yet it seems- at least not where I'm at....

Arctic Terrain Poses Severe Challenge to Canadian Plans

Logistics challenges are limiting Canada’s ambitious Arctic military plans for building installations and resupplying forces in its vast, harsh northern region.

Since 2006, the Canadian government has emphasized that it intends to greatly boost its military presence in the Arctic because the oil, gas and mineral resources there are critical to economic growth. ... But Canadian military officers have discovered that the logistics of operating in the Arctic rival or surpass the challenges of operations in austere war zones such as Afghanistan. (... activities can cost from five to seven times more than if they were conducted in Southern Canada)

... “It is harder to sustain operations in our High Arctic than it is to sustain operations in Kandahar or Kabul because in the Arctic, it’s what you bring.”

Question for Leanan (and others who know the inside workings of blogs):

This is not a question specifically about TOD's successors but about the internet in general. The last year, I have found myself the most interested not in energy, but in Leanan's posts @ her struggles with spammers (robo-type and the low wage human wave from overseas) unmedicated mental cases signing up under multiple names, problems with self moderation, etc.

The overall question is: is internet communications in serious danger for medium to low traffic sites?

I realize that the big boys (Marketwatch, etc.) might always be able to afford the latest tool, filter to stop all these commercial attacks. But what about the people with fewer resources? The very small sites aren't probably worth the spammers time, but sites that get more than 100 comments are probably worth the effort. Is this arms race between spammers and websites going to take up so much time and money that medium or smaller sized sites will have to shut down due to:

1. a lack of money to buy the latest filters or
2. because the people who run the sites simply become exhausted fighting the ever changing war everyday?

I am a little concerned that the profit motive is destroying the internet. I have wanted to start a site but your stories sort of scare me frankly. The unregulated nature of the net seems to allow unbridled commercial attacks that could have a real chilling effect of speech as people quit just due to the constant spammer harassment.

Or is it really not this bad? (how bad is it?)


#2 will do you in.

A very niche website theme - Earthworm processing of organics. worm digest dot org has a "new forum" - and you can see the lack of human love with how old the spam is there. 8000+ users - how many are spammers?

I have wanted to start a site but your stories sort of scare me frankly.

If you don't want to spend the time fighting the bad guys - use drupal or wordpress on your own private system then make a static copy of the output. Upload the new static bits as needed. Now instead of an attack surface of interactive code you have to watch you have a static system. Feel free to link it back to someone else like twitter if you want "interactions" with the ugly public. You can always place a response page or just an email to a "disposable" email address at yahoo!, Google, et la if you want to add important curated responses.

I am a little concerned that the profit motive is destroying the internet

Errrr that ship sailed a long time ago.

unbridled commercial attacks

One could always join the anti-spam parts of buycott and just never buy from spammers. The Spam "works" for someone - you just don't need to support them.

people quit just due to the constant spammer harassment.

As long as you know that heading in you can select the level of hassle you want. Odds are just the regular updates will be a hassle. But ask - how badly do I need the public interacting with what I post?

And remember, if you form a non-profit for your message, Dreamhost will allow you to have $0 cost hosting.

You are right to worry. It used to be that pr0n sites were the most common way to get infected with malware. Not anymore. They buttoned down their servers and are now fairly safe. Now you're most likely to be infected by visiting church web sites.

Why church web sites? Those creating them tend to be naive, figuring that their small, low-traffic sites would not be of interest to hackers. Wrong.

Traffic doesn't really matter. These are bots. They don't care how much traffic you get. They are just crawling the web, finding vulnerabilities and exploiting them.

The solution? Don't cheap out on security. Even a small web site can be hosted on a decent web hoster, that will have defenses. Or stick with something like Google, which provides free blogs and with good security.

Yeah, I've been bouncing the idea of hosting a followup to TOD off of my wife and she says she likes my idea of crawfish aquaponics a whole lot better. She works in an online world and is privey to how much time, energy and money her employers put into security, and most of their security issues have nothing to do with dedicated attacks; just bots someone turned lose - roving bands of electronic vandals. Their networks don't even use wifi, and 'devices' at work are a firing offense.

Crawfish fit my personality better anyway.

to give you an idea, the planet beat has barely launched as of 1.5 weeks and received a total of 400 attacks in that period.
the breakdown is 99.9% bots, 0.1% actual humans posting spams. fortunately the humans dont speak english very well or follow email directions.
From today's log (now that its on google it has more popularity, not just from the TOD crowd)..
Total Visits 752 28% humans / 72% bots
Total Hits 14K Average hits per second 0.2
Security 35 Events
A few of the events :
Comment Spammer (Comment Spam Bot)
from China
Bot (Unclassified)
from France
Comment Spammer (Comment Spam Bot)
from Ukraine
Bot (Unclassified)
from Ukraine
Bot (Unclassified)
from United States
Comment Spammer (Comment Spam Bot)
from United States

Dont wade into the internet cesspool without multiple layered defenses and decent security software.

400 attacks Comment Spammer (Comment Spam Bot) Bot (Unclassified) Comment Spammer (Comment Spam Bot) ...... Dont wade into the internet cesspool without multiple layered defenses and decent security software.

Note how the "attacks" are spam comments. Any IP address is subject to probing. But if you want to put up something to scratch the itch of putting up something, consider making them static pages so that you avoid the hassle of having to deal with the spam. Static pages translate to a far lower attack surface and if this is your 1st go-round consider static output.

the unclassified bots are usually SQL injectors designed to inject malware into pages.
static output is pointless. its a dynamic site.
sorta like taking a car and putting it up on blocks. the functionality is lost. sure, tires can get punctured, cars can crash -- but they get you from A to B. a static site is a dead site.
if you have the software, experience, bandwidth and hardware there is no reason a dynamic site cannot work nicely on todays internet even with all the perils that go with it.

If you're going to be posting here regularly, please use standard capitalization, and hard returns between paragraphs. It's hard to read a solid block of text, especially when it's all lower case.

static output is pointless. its a dynamic site.

1) You are not ee cummings.
2) I was not directing my reply to you.

if you have the software, experience, bandwidth and hardware there is no reason a dynamic site cannot work

Except that the original poster C8 seems to lack the experience. Hence my reply, using your data as the jumping off point.

If C8 has something to say, by all means put up a site. But be mindful of the effort it will take, and static pages will allow you to have less to worry about.

thanks to all- I'll look into your ideas

Email spam long ago proved that a few people are both willing and able to make millions of people miserable in order to make a little/lot of money. The only difference is that just as the web has evolved; the attackers have also evolved. The people who operate the botnets are the same kind of parasites that have been discussed here in other contexts.

Yeah, I was hit upon today by "EventVwr" scammers from India.

Soon, with just about everyone collecting data on everything we do, the scammers/marketeers will evolve in ways we cannot imagine. With the average smartphone loaded up with up to 15 environmental data gathering sensors plus all the other profiling data collection its impossible to know where this will lead.

With the introduction of things like google glass and facial recognition technology, even those that aren't connected will soon be tracked too. Even combining Brave New World and 1984 wouldn't do justice to the reality were seeing now. And in a world where honest work makes people poor and businesses bankrupt the race is on to discover cost free exploitation systems by governments, corporations and criminals (soon to become indistinguishable from each other).

EMP,, a big one :-0

Have you read "One Second After" by William Forstchen? It's about an EMP attack on the US and takes place in Black Mountain, NC.

I'll have to check it out; thanks. Couldn't have happened to a nicer place ;-)

That book is somewhat thought-provoking, though a bit overstated. Significant amounts of electronic equipment will survive an EMP strike, though if the grid goes down it won't matter much.

The book also swiped a lot from Alas Babylon, possibly intentionally as a sort of compare/contrast exercise. Then it borrows the cannibal horde from Lucifer's Hammer. At least it wasn't zombies.

Biomass fuel subsidies to be capped says energy secretary

The government is turning away from its controversial policy of subsidising UK power stations to generate electricity from burning wood. It will end subsidies for biomass burning in existing stations by 2027.

... The UK's biggest power station, Drax in Yorkshire, has been converting half its boilers from coal to wood. Most of this wood it burns is imported, particularly from the US.

... calculations by the government's chief energy scientist, David Mackay, on the carbon emissions from wood-burning are so controversial that they remain formally unpublished.

In a statement to the BBC, the energy department, DECC, now acknowledges that burning biomass in dedicated power stations offers poor value carbon savings compared with wind power or even gas.

The biomass policy was largely ignored in the media until it became clear that millions of tonnes of wood would be burned. At first, the firms involved said they were only burning waste from the timber industry, mainly in the US. An investigation by BBC News confirmed allegations by green groups that whole trees were sometimes being pelleted to be burned.

Biomass, like biofuel for transport, was an apparent solution seized in haste after EU leaders in 2007 agreed that renewables would supply 20% of all energy by 2020.

The UK delegation did not realise this included oil and gas, as well as electricity, and inadvertently signed up for a near-impossible target of 15% renewables.

The government's former climate change ambassador, John Ashton, told me: "The biomass policy appeared with haste. I can't remember a single strategic discussion over how it would be deployed. It's no way to run a long-term carbon reduction strategy."

A similar thing happened in Queensland Australia with a sugar mill that used the byproduct bagasse for co-generation. The plan was to supply heat and electricity for the mill, export some power to the grid and earn carbon credits. Not sure why the latter item makes sense it seems like double counting.

Anyways floods flattened the sugar cane crop so there was no bagasse and the power plant had to truck in timber waste from some distance away. Presumably those wood offcuts could have been chipped, pelletised, re-used or burned at the timber mill instead. The sugar mill lost money on the deal. In dollar terms nothing beats burning carbon that has been building up for millions of years (i.e. fossil fuel) rather than grown in real time.

Leaks Expose Rotten Core of Irish Banking

Portraying itself as a model of austerity as it rebounds from the crippling eurozone crisis, Ireland should have brought its presidency of the European Union to an end with aplomb.

But its outwardly sober, six-month term has been overshadowed by press leaks exposing the cavalier attitude of top banking officials towards a bailout that cost the taxpayer billions of euros.

A series of taped phone calls made in 2008 obtained by the Irish Independent newspaper revealed how, at the height of the international banking crisis, officials at the now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank discussed how to deceive regulators, poured scorn on the government, and derided the Germans who were working furiously to prop up Europe's failing banks.

Driving Somewhere? There's a Gov't Record of That

Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.

As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. ... networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver's location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners assemble what it calls a "single, high-resolution image of our lives."

License plate scanners can be efficient. The state of Maryland told the ACLU that troopers could "maintain a normal patrol stance" while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight hour shift.

"There's no expectation of privacy", said Lt. Bill Hedgpeth, ( Mesquite Police Department in Texas), which has records stretching back to 2008 ... "It's just a vehicle. It's just a license plate."

$25 gadget lets hackers seize control of a car

IN THE early hours of 18 June, a Mercedes coupé travelling at extremely high speed along a Los Angeles street smashed into a palm tree. It exploded into flames, killing the driver; the impact ejected the engine 50 metres clear of the car. Was it an accident? Or was the car hacked, allowing it to be driven off the road by remote control?

The very idea might sound crazy – but it's one that Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser to the US National Security Council, has raised after the driver was identified as Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings. Known for his revealing articles on the US military and its intelligence agencies, Hastings had emailed colleagues the day before he died to say that he was going "off the radar for a bit" to chase down a "big story".

"What evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack," says Clarke in a Huffington Post interview. Intelligence agencies, he says, can remotely seize control of a car to make it accelerate wildly or brake suddenly, for instance.

Warning - this story can lead to a rabbithole of theories about a conspiracy or 2.

It all depends on how much trust you place in your fellow Man and how much faith you place in their electronic do-dads and how they interact.

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10039 as a tool and jumping off point about talking with the car systems.


(the positive version would allow for modular cars. Have a base frame and bolt in a power plant, interior and then show your own uniquiness by buying an outside shell that expresses your individuality.)

"Intelligence agencies, he says, can remotely seize control of a car to make it accelerate wildly or brake suddenly,"

I may have to keep my manual transmission car with no ABS longer than I was planning...

A closer look at that story reveals that this is only possible via either a wired connection to the car's computer, or a wireless attack on one of the (currently rare) cars that has its computer equipped with wireless networking.

I keep being puzzled by the insistence, common in this modern world, of putting EVERTHING on the 'net, from LED light bulbs (so you can change the bulb color from your smartphone) to power stations (so that evildoers from across the world can blow it up?) Even the military seems to suffer from this self-inflicted vulnerability.

putting EVERTHING on the 'net,

It allows you to be your own little NSA to your own devices.

Humans like control and that control freak aspect allows management to think the engineer's toy fettish is worthwhile and it is still novel enough for marketing to feel they have an angle and value add.

A closer look at that story reveals that this is only possible via either a wired connection to the car's computer, or a wireless attack on one of the (currently rare) cars

OnStar (as an example) is on more than 30 types of GM autos. Given the many miles of wire and many different processors already in the car - how could you tell you have a rouge device plugged in? Its not like these cars are the bat mobile and can detect weight changes or new things on the data bus.

If this was such an attack, they are rare and hard to defend against.

"how could you tell you have a rouge device plugged in?"

A rouge device would be red and stand out pretty well. But will the vendors all make the rogue devices rouge?

(couldn't resist)

I have been using a LPR (Licience Plate Reader) for over 3 years. I have recovered 37 stolen cars and 15 stolen Licience Plates during that time for a local PD.The LPR system I use is not connected to any outside computer system. I do down load the latest "hot sheet" list of plates from the NCIC data base every time I go out.

It never occurred to me that this info would be kept and down loaded by anyone

If you're downloading the 'hot sheets' you are uploading all the plates that you drove past during your shift. The data is stored as a text file of date, time, plate number, gps location, etc. Upload would take a fraction of a second - doesn't require any input from your end.

All major roads in the UK have number plate recognition cameras on them. The data is collected and stored by the police (mostly for) forensic tracking the movements of suspects before and after the crime they are suspected of. Of course, the data is there. It will be widely used for all sorts of other purposes.

If you want to travel in the UK without being traced, do not drive. Cycle or walk, do not carry a mobile phone.

And don't forget to camouflage yourself, or facial recognition will get you too, with all those cctv around (cvdazzle dot com).

Other than testing your system - what are you getting out of this effort? Are you getting a cut somehow?

Maybe he's just playing Little Big Brother.

'Brown ocean' can fuel inland tropical cyclones

In the summer of 2007, Tropical Storm Erin stumped meteorologists. Most tropical cyclones dissipate after making landfall, weakened by everything from friction and wind shear to loss of the ocean as a source of heat energy. Not Erin. The storm intensified as it tracked through Texas. It formed an eye over Oklahoma. As it spun over the southern plains, Erin grew stronger than it ever had been over the ocean.

... The research points to possible implications for storms' response to climate change. "As dry areas get drier and wet areas get wetter, are you priming the soil to get more frequent inland tropical cyclone intensification?"

Maize trade disruption could have global ramifications

Disruptions to U.S. exports of maize (corn) could pose food security risks for many U.S. trade partners due to the lack of trade among other producing and importing nations, says a Michigan State University study.

The study, featured in the journal Risk Analysis, didn't primarily focus on plant disease, population growth, climate change or the diversion of corn to nonfood uses such as ethanol. It suggests, however, that significant stresses in these areas could jeopardize food security.

In growing lawsuit, service members fault TEPCO for radiation-related illnesses

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan —Five months after participating in humanitarian operations for the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that led to nuclear disaster in Japan, Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel Hair’s body began to betray him.

Hair believes radiation is the cause. He is among 50 sailors and Marines in a growing lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co., alleging that Japan’s nationalized utility mishandled the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that spewed radiation into the air and water.

Other servicemembers have been diagnosed with leukemia, testicular cancer and thyroid problems or experienced rectal and gynecological bleeding, the lawsuit says. Hair said one of his friends, a fellow USS Ronald Reagan shipmate, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The Defense Department and other organizations have said the radiation levels that troops were exposed to during Operation Tomodachi were safe, implying that any cancers or physical ailments since then are coincidental. Nearly half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society.

… Sailors were drinking desalinated seawater and bathing in it until the ship’s leadership came over the public address system and told them to stop because it was contaminated, Hair said. They were told the ventilation system was contaminated, and he claims he was pressured into signing a form that said he had been given an iodine pill even though none had been provided. As a low-ranking sailor, he believed he had no choice.

Sebourn, with only two days of training, was tasked with testing seven points on an aircraft’s skin for radiation. He and others crawled all over the crafts for months, he said, with only gloves for protection. At one point, he said, they took the radiator out of one aircraft and tested it. The radiation was four times greater than what should have required them to wear a suit and respirator, he said.

Sebourn is alarmed that the word “radiation” doesn’t appear anywhere in his service record, even though that was his job and he was exposed to it. He believed troops exposed would be red-flagged in their service records and be tracked for medical problems.

… lessons NOT learned from Gulf War syndrome

Perfect for the lazy (and hopefully not too hazy) days of summer...

'Poor man's pontoon' runs on Mother Nature
Boat uses solar panel to run motors

A Nova Scotia man is using the power of the sun to putter around Fraser's Lake in what he's calling the boat of the future.

Dan Baker's "poor man's pontoon" cost him just $2,900 to build. He's dubbed it the Firefly.


"We don't move very fast," said Baker. "The speed is a close approximate to a leisurely canoe ride."

His project is dwarfed by $16-million MS Turanor — the world's largest solar-powered boat — that's currently docked in Halifax. Baker said he figures the MS Turanor might be bigger, but both boats are based on the same idea.

"That boat and this boat represent the future," he said.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/07/17/ns-solar-powe...


12 arrested as Hollywood hit by roaming bands of robbers, police say

Police said the 12 were part of large marauding bands of young people who conducted a string of robberies, assaults and acts of vandalism along Hollywood Boulevard. Many more suspects remain at large, they said.

There were no reports of weapons involved in the attacks, which victimized at least four people, according to police. As many as 50 robbers were believed to be involved in the attacks.

Kato said the robbers splintered into smaller groups of 10 to 15 people and spread through the area, regrouping at times. Police said many of the robbers flooded out of the subway station at Hollywood and Vine.

… two young black men were detained in handcuffs before being released with the terse explanation that they had mistakenly been stopped because they matched the general description of the robbers.

New form of flash mob?

It's called steaming.

Basically you get a group of ~10 youths who quickly move through the target environment blatantly stealing, then disperse - all under a plan. Concentration of people at a point overwhelms local response, and if the police can stir themselves long enough to attempt to apprehend, the quarry has just gone on 10 different directions, overwhelming the numbers who could track.

Its a sad day when Slashdot beat out TOD. So I get to be the bearer of the news.

The first phase of the program, called “The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program” was initiated on Monday (July 8) in the Contumaza province, where 1,601 solar panels were installed. These installations will power 126 impoverished communities in the districts of Cupisnique, San Benito, Tantarica, Chilete, Yonan, San Luis, and Contai.

NASA: Globally, June Was Second Warmest On Record

By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress/climate on Jul 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

How hot was it in June? So hot that NASA reports the only warmer June in the global temperature record was 1998, a year juiced by both global warming and a super El Niño.

By contrast, 2013 has been hovering between a weak La Niña and ENSO-neutral conditions, which would normally mean below-average global average temperatures — if it weren’t for that pesky accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports the June 2013 surface temperature anomalies (compared to the 1951-1980 average):

Yes, parts of Antarctica were nearly off the charts. What could go wrong with that?

New normal…

US wilting in a heat wave somehow stuck in reverse

The oppressively hot weather in the Northeast has surprised meteorologists: It's moving backward across America, something that rarely happens.

The operations chief at the National Weather Service's prediction branch says the western Atlantic high pressure system behind the hot dry weather started moving east to west last week and by Tuesday was centered over lower Michigan.

Jon Gottschalck (GAHT'chawlk) said the high pressure was going the wrong way. Normally U.S. weather systems move west to east.

My posting in unrelated to this topic... apologies for that.

Need some career advice from TOD regulars... I want to change career
paths from electrical systems R&D (applied to Oil & Gas/Renewables
industries) to a full-fledged one in petroleum (upstream)

1. How can I get a break into the upstream O&G industry, esp. in R&D?
What skills do I need?
2. In order to pick up new skills, would you recommend short courses
(NeXT, SPE etc)? or should I think of part-time/full-time degree
3. Would you even recommend this switch?

Brief background - 8 years in R&D after a PhD in Mechanical Engg. that
was focused on electronics/semiconductor failure...strangely
fascinated by E&P but seems working on downstream O&G electrical
systems seems out of favour to get a break in upstream technology R&D.

Alaska’s spillionaires

The Exxon oil spill of 1989 made the town of Valdez infamous, luring people to clean one of world’s largest environmental disasters with the prospect of economic gain. Today the oil is gone, but the prosperity remains.

Falling oil prices could spark global turmoil

Falling oil prices can have a lot of benefits. They put money into consumers' pockets. They cut trade deficits. They make it cheaper for businesses to sell stuff.

But if oil prices fall over the next few years, as some analysts predict, the effects won't be all roses.

OPEC, for example, could be on the losing end. And that could lead to unrest in countries around the world.

Oil producing nations in the Middle East and elsewhere have used bulging oil revenues of the last few years to placate their people. No place is this more true than Saudi Arabia, which has subsidized housing, health care, gasoline and a host of other things to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars since the Arab Spring protests began in 2010.

As a result, Saudi Arabia now needs oil prices close to $100 a barrel just to balance its budget...

Humans don't have oil; oil has them...

I think problems from falling oil prices are as likely as problems from a Sharknado.

Oil 108.19 +1.71 +1.61%

The cornucopian flood of oil continues to push prices down to where people are buying V8s again. Or not.

What flood? Looks like we are worse off now than we were a year ago in terms of days of supply. Too much weight given to the production increases in the US. It just means we are running faster and faster to stay in place.

Looks like the price of oil could fall all the way down to $135.

I just paid $3.43 for off-road diesel, the lowest in a year that I can recall, and less than regular gasoline around here. Maybe I should hoard some. It's been so wet that farmers and contractors can't get much work done. Perhaps there's a local/regional glut as a result.

The growing supplies of tight oil will likely send the oil price all the way down below $140/bbl. ;-)

Steam Detected at Damaged Fukushima Reactor

Fresh trouble at the No. 3 reactor is especially worrying because it contains mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel. The upper floors of the reactor also house its fuel pool, which stores over 500 fuel assemblies. The reactor complex’s basement is flooded with highly radioactive water. Studies show that an accident like a meltdown or containment failure in a reactor that holds such fuel would result in more cancer deaths than one in a reactor fueled only with uranium. {emphasis added}

Just when folks were beginning to think that everything was A-OK...

E. Swanson

No one who has given it serious thought* was thinking that everything was A-OK.

Just in the last week test wells have detected a huge step up in radioactivity in the groundwater between the plants and the ocean. They measure this by looking for Cesium, but in fact, it's a complex and toxic brew of radioactive isotopes all over the periodic table.

*Those who are employed in pro-nuclear think tanks know the dire state of things, but their paycheck depends on them not saying that out loud.

Just when folks were beginning to think that everything was A-OK...

And along these same lines :

Point Lepreau faces new problems, NB Power reveals
NB Power will shut down the nuclear reactor again later this summer for repairs

The Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is experiencing new operational problems and is to be shut down for two weeks in late summer for repairs, documents filed with the Energy and Utilities Board reveal.

According to the filings, Point Lepreau has developed a vibration in a non-nuclear pipe that transports steam, likely to the plant's turbines, and has been unable to achieve full power because of the problem.

The vibration problem appears to contradict claims made last week by Gaëtan Thomas, the president and chief executive officer of NB Power, that Point Lepreau was finally operating trouble free.

See : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/07/17/nb-point-le...

Lucy + Charlie Brown + football


Why Don't Farmers Believe in Climate Change?

Allan Savory believes that ranchers hold the key to sequestering carbon. See his TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_a...

I believe I've shown you how we can work with nature at very low cost to reverse all this. We are already doing so on about 15 million hectares on five continents, and people who understand far more about carbon than I do calculate that, for illustrative purposes, if we do what I am showing you here, we can take enough carbon out of the atmosphere and safely store it in the grassland soils for thousands of years, and if we just do that on about half the world's grasslands that I've shown you, we can take us back to pre-industrial levels, while feeding people.

Well if you pay money to his company, they will give you the key. He goes to great lengths to not explain exactly what holistic management actually is. There is nothing in the way of impartial studies that back up his wild claims. I am a farmer, and can't see how his methods can be better then 'best practice' anyway.

That being said, there are plenty of things 'we could do' to prevent climate change. We wont do them, and it's too late. We could have moved away from FF 40 years ago, we didn't then and we wont now. Fantasisers like Savory would like to have the cake and eat it too. Which appeals to most people especially if they can sit on their arse doing nothing and blame the farmers for not doing it all for them.

That's a bit harsh. His website has links to many academic studies. Unfortunately it's badly laid out so the information is hard to access and integrate. And admittedly he disguises the money-making aspects of his operation.

But the basic picture is clear enough. The grasslands of the world were in symbiotic relationship with herd animals that used to clump closely in one place under pressure from predators, then move after a day or two, leaving trampled grass, dung, and urine behind; i.e. mulch and fertilizer. Mimic this by herding cattle in the same way. "Mob grazing" I've seen it called. And he has before and after photos that demonstrate remarkable recovery in vegetative covering.

Seems persuasive. Or is this an example of "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (H. L. Mencken)

Savory has many critics. His scam (did I say "scam"? Sorry - I meant "scheme") makes for a great TED talk - glib, over-simplified, feel-good, undemanding of the audience in any way, etc. As an ecologist, I am rather skeptical it would work out anything like the way he claims.

Here's a good summary of some of the critique against his deal:


The comments in the Slate article were very instructive, and mostly not supportive.

The writer was James E. McWilliams, the author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly and an associate professor of history at Texas State University (i.e. not a scientist).

He is also a vegetarian who has written anti-meat articles and is supported by the Kellogg Foundation (i.e. BAU).

I'll quote from a comment by Stan Parsons:

I refute the statements made by James McWilliams on the Charter Grazing Trials. I was closely involved in monitoring those trials. As an economist (MS Purdue 1968) and animal scientist (PhD Natal University 1966), I was one of three men asked to monitor the Charter grazing trials 1969-75.
So typical of an academic with an axe to grind Mr McWilliams is using information that is 40 years old. What a pity he has not stayed up to date with developments since then. During those trials I was sufficiently convinced that with modification Savory’s principle had sufficient merit to be added to my consulting portfolio for livestock and business management. By the time I returned to Zimbabwe in 1998 I and my colleagues in Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Zimbabwe had the worked with well over ten thousand ranchers on three continent from the high rainfall areas of northern California to the desert regions of Namibia. In addition to changes in their business and livestock management most of those ranchers were, and still are, using the grazing principles developed by Allan Savory. It is they rather than the academics in their ivory towers who should be asked if controlled grazing management works. I believe you will find the answer is in the affirmative.

I'm eager to see Savory's work and similar variants on grazing practise rethink the current doctrines. His premise sounds very reminiscent of the work that Salatin and many Permaculture practitioners have been working towards, while his detractors sound to my ear exactly like those nutritionists who keep defending industrially enriched cereals and 'eating by calorie counts' .. Dead Gray food.

Long live the upstarts!

This doesn't seem much different than the rotational grazing we practised for 30 years. Jamb the cattle into a pasture for a couple of days, then move them to the next. Each pasture remains ungrazed for 2-3 weeks; prevents overgrazing, promotes a deeper root structure, and allows the cow wastes to break down and be absorbed. Our soil analyses improved to the point where we rarely had to fertilise (a little lime every few years). Nomadic herders did it for thousands of years, on a seasonal basis. It does require a water source for each section.

Cows are lazy. In a free range situation they'll stay in one place and strip it bare before they move on, especially if there's water nearby.

Something else for the doomers to worry about, from Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery:

In the 1990s, researchers reported that since the Second World War, soil erosion caused farmers to abandon an area equivalent to about one-third of all present cropland. Needless to say, the loss of agricultural production in an area larger than India won't help us feed the world later this century, when it is projected that we'll need to feed another several billion people. The estimated rate of world soil erosion now exceeds new soil production by as much as 23 billion tons per year, an annual loss of not quite one percent of the world's agricultural soil inventory. At this pace, the world would literally run out of topsoil in little more than a century. It's like a bank account from which one spends and spends, but never deposits.

WTI and Brent spread at just 83 cents now -at the time of this post.

Maybe they should close down the railways and shut the pipelines, as infrastructure is the reason the price went up. If all that oil gets clogged up there, the price will fall right away.

So Keystone XL is dead now ?

Yeah, if it gets removed, oil will go to $20 a barrel in no time

That is kind of odd. The Keystone XL pipeline has not been built. And the Egypt/Syrian crisis' affect Brent more than WTI.

I guess the draw-down in US supplies is spooking some people.

Most reports I read claims the price was artificially low because there wasn't an efficient way of transporting oil out from the shale plays, and that the oil price went up when the oil got transported out on the market more easily, hence my joke about shutting the infrastructure down.

In case production is running at full speed there I could come up with three reasons:
1. Increased capacity and higher flow out.
1. Lower flow from Athabasca tar sands.
2. Lower flow from Bakken.

Theoretically it is possible someone is holding back production to within pipeline capacity or something similar. They simply do not care to produce the oil unless they get cheap transportation and save it for another day.

HeadingOut has now posted a response about the closing of TOD:

To Forbes - A Gentle Cough of Correction at TOD's end
Forbes recently issued a commentary on the closing of The Oil Drum, which deserves some rebuttal, since, as with many stories on the "Peak Oil" topic, it conveys too many incorrect statements and false assumptions.


I checked out the guy who wrote the Forbes article. He is a professional propaganda "expert" or PR man with oil industry clients. He should have had to pay the magazine for advertising space.

Please accept my deep expression of gratitude to all TOD staff and posters. I became PO aware in 2002, and in 2006 sold my house and moved my family from California to Oregon, having found a community actively preparing both for PO and climate change. Installed PV panels and a solar water heater, started a large garden, located within walking/bike distance of essential services, etc. Best move I ever made.

Watching the temporary growth of oil production from tight oil deposits in the US, I'm wondering if we will see another spurt of production from Arctic regions made more accessible by global warming. I'm of the opinion that every bit of of fossil fuel that can be "economically" developed, will be, irregardless of climate impact.

No surprise here, but it's official:

Detroit files for bankruptcy

Detroit filed for bankruptcy Thursday afternoon, becoming the nation's largest public sector bankruptcy. The move could slash pension benefits to city workers and retirees, and leave investors holding the city's debt with only pennies on the dollar....

...Orr already halted payments on about $2 billion in debt last month, saying the city needed to preserve its dwindling supply of cash. His reorganization plan calls for cutting $11.5 billion in unsecured debt -- including pensions, health care funds and loans not backed by assets -- down to $2 billion. That would mean that investors and retirees would receive an average of just 17% of what they are owed. Specific plans for the cuts are unknown at this time.

So much for a comfortable retirement. One wonders how many folks had all of their eggs in this one basket.

Well, the writing has been on the wall for months if not years for this one.

Let's hope that a bankruptcy for Detroit can do for Detroit what going through bankruptcy has done for GM . . . put them on a fresh start with a better financial footing.

GM had assets to sell off. Detroit has slums.

They split GM into "Good GM" and "Bad GM". Good GM continued and Bad GM went down the tubes.

Hey, that might work for Detroit.

Does anyone know how much of this is being covered by the Federal pension guarantees? Are the cities and states kicking the can to the Federal Government?

And, how do we pay that debt?

Print the money!

Seems fair to me. What could possibly go wrong?


Jimmy Carter Says NSA Scandal Shows America Has No Functioning Democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter apparently is not impressed by the excuses the government has made about the NSA surveillance scandals, stating that America has no functioning democracy at a meeting in Atlanta,olc/battended by a reporter from the German newspaper Der Spiegel. This follows on some of Carter's earlier statements, which argued that " the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far," and also that, "this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."

Problem at ANOTHER cavern in salt dome near giant Louisiana sinkhole — “Automatic emergency systems” engaged — No ‘immediate’ safety risk to public

An internal piping problem inside a Dow Hydrocarbons underground storage cavern in Assumption Parish prompted automatic emergency systems to burn off propylene and shut the cavity.

Dow officials are working on plans to check the cavern — located about two miles away from an Assumption Parish sinkhole. The situation poses no immediate safety risk to the public. [...]

The cavern, which is more than a one-third of a mile underground in the salt dome, stores propylene, a flammable hydrocarbon. [...]

The cavern is located on Dow’s site on the opposite side of the salt dome from the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole and the failed Texas Brine Co. cavern suspected of causing it. [...]

Posting this here, as the relevant thread is closed for comments.

As most here I'm very sorry to see TOD go silent. The articles were often very interesting, but what I think makes TOD so exceptional was its comment section. For all the internetting I've done over the years, positively never have I ever seen a better one. A lot of reasons why this is so have already been summed up higher in this thread:

* The lack of unnecessary distracting features;
* Task completion effort (cf. Canuckistani) - and thus the one single, shared, conversation flow;
* Clear and practical color conventions;
* Good indentation, allowing for multiple threads to start out of a single post;

And probably several more aspects which I'm not able to come up with now but concerning mostly the comments section have allowed TOD to become what it is now. The contributors are important too, but I think the logical, no nonsense conversation model also attracted the kind of logical, no nonsense thinkers we value here.

If I do have one improvement to propose, it would be to, as used to be done, allow for regional discussions (e.g. TOD Europe).

Seeing the other models being proposed at the moment (theplanetbeat; theoildrums; quora; oilprice; Powerswitch; economic_undertow;..) I see none have grasped these aspects of TOD or don't know how to achieve them. Most are of the same tried forum sort, which in my experience don't compare to the conversation experience I witnessed here.With all respect of course for these alternatives, undoubtedly a lot of effort has already been put in some of them. I hope they achieve what they're aiming for, and I certainly will keep an eye and try to collaborate on them after TOD has gone,
but I'm skeptical.

So I wonder, is there no chance that Super G's super coding be shared? Maybe it's old, vulnerable and not practical for a new site anymore, but at least the code can give insight how to try and simulate it?

What about a downloadable site archive? Not then to continue the conversations, but if indeed everything that could've been said has been said (doubtful, for me), we can store it for later insights.

Or maybe I'm just having difficulties in letting TOD as I knew it go and in accepting what the change may be. Cf. my username; nothing stays, everything changes, for the better or the worse.

In any case, I can't thank enough all those that made this website possible. Leanan for her superb moderation, Super G for his beautiful site design, all contributors I ever read something from
(Ugo Bardi, Nate Hagens, Euarn Mearns, Jérôme à Paris, Stuart Staniford, Tom Murphy, Southern Limits, Prof. Goose, Gail the Actuary, AlanfromBigEasy, Rune Likvern and so many others.)
My thanks also go to so many commenters who gave me new insight and took the time the write out their ideas so clearly, and who, generally, were really open to having honest discussions; No list of names here because no matter how many I would name, there're just too many.


Seeing the other models being proposed at the moment (theplanetbeat; theoildrums; quora; oilprice; Powerswitch; economic_undertow;..) I see none have grasped these aspects of TOD or don't know how to achieve them.

zerg's theplanetbeat has the technical bits down to replicate TOD but lacks the people skills of moderation and selection of articles. The 'people bits' are what makes TOD TOD.

What's with oil prices (specifically WTI) going up? Does anybody here have an explanation?

Several folks here mentioned that once the bottleneck at Cushing was relieved that WTI would go up closer to global prices rather than down, as many mainstream analysts were predicting. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but it's a large part of it. See:

Pipelines help Oklahoma oil producers gain hold on slippery pricing

New and expanded pipelines are relieving the glut in Cushing and helping Oklahoma oil producers sell their oil for much closer to the international price.

Oklahoma oil producers are receiving a price closer to the international rate as the country's pipeline infrastructure catches up with boosted domestic supplies.

The shale oil boom that has swept across the country over the past five years has ramped up domestic oil production, cut into imports and moved the country closer to energy independence than it has been in nearly half a century.

But the growth happened faster than the country's pipeline infrastructure could handle.

As a result, hundreds of new storage tanks have been built in Cushing to hold oil for up to months at a time as it waited in line to move through pipes to refineries along the Gulf Coast and throughout the country.

West Texas Intermediate crude — the benchmark for domestic oil — is priced at Cushing. The glut over the past three years has led domestic oil to be discounted by up to $30 a barrel compared to the international Brent Crude price.

Flooding in Alberta knocked out over 1 MBD of US imports last June. Slowing coming back online. Still not 100%.

I think it has been a combo of factors:
1) Drop in supply inventory
2) fear premium from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc.
3) Economy improving
4) Canadian floods as mentioned above