Drumbeat: July 20, 2013

Canadian Investigators Says Failed Brakes Led to Crash

The brakes on the train that crashed and burned in Quebec this month weren’t applied with enough force, Canadian investigators have found.

The braking on the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. train was “insufficient” to hold the 73 cars that were parked on a 1.2 percent downhill slope near Lac-Megantic, Quebec, the Transportation Safety Board said today in a statement.

“The train was not completely immobilized,” said Ed McCallum, a spokesman for the Ottawa-based agency. He said he was unable to give the number of brakes that were set on the train. “The number of brakes is important, but the quality is also important,” said McCallum.

Railway Weighing Viability After Quebec Crash, Chairman Says

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. is evaluating whether the company remains viable after the July 6 crash of one of its trains in Quebec that killed as many as 50 people, Chairman Ed Burkhardt said.

“Whether we can survive is a complex question,” he said today in a telephone interview from the Rosemont, Illinois, offices of Rail World Inc., the closely held company’s parent. “We’re trying to analyze that right now.”

WTI Crude Exceeds Brent for First Time in Almost Three Years

West Texas Intermediate crude became more expensive than Brent for the first time in almost three years as pipeline and rail shipments helped clear a bottleneck that reduced the price of the U.S. benchmark.

WTI hadn’t been higher than Brent since Aug. 17, 2010. The move was in intraday trading. WTI averaged $17.47 less than Brent in 2012 and traded as much as $23.44 lower than its European counterpart Feb. 8.

Improved pipeline networks and the use of rail links are helping to ease the North American oil glut created by rising production of crude from shale formations. WTI has jumped 18 percent this year, while Brent has decreased 2.5 percent as North Sea supplies stabilized after maintenance.

Alaska North Slope Oil Weakens as Price of Foreign Imports Falls

Alaska North Slope crude on the spot market weakened as the price of foreign imports it competes against for space in West Coast refineries fell.

Gasoline Advances as Shutdowns May Crimp New York Harbor Supply

Gasoline jumped to the highest in four months on speculation that refinery shutdowns in Canada and Philadelphia may crimp New York Harbor supply.

Futures rose as much as 1.7 percent as Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ refinery idled an alkylation unit, which might affect the fluid catalytic cracker. Korea National Oil Corp.’s Come by Chance refinery in Newfoundland shut units for repair. Irving Oil Corp., an exporter to the U.S. Northeast, has idled multiple units, including two catalytic crackers, at its St. John, New Brunswick, plant, according to Genscape Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky-based energy information provider.

Los Angeles Gasoline Drops to Four-Month Low on High Production

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles tumbled to the lowest level in four months as production in the state jumped to a eight-year seasonal high.

U.S. Energy Rigs Rise for Third Week, Baker Hughes Says

Oil and gas rigs in the U.S. rose by 11 to 1,770 this week, according to Baker Hughes Inc.

Oil rigs rose four to 1,395, the Houston-based field services company said on its website. Gas rigs increased by seven to 369.

South Sudan to shut down oil production by end of July

(Reuters) - South Sudan plans to sell 6.4 million barrels of oil worth $300 million before shutting down its entire production by the end of July due to a row over its alleged support for rebels in neighbouring Sudan, its oil minister said on Saturday.

Sudan, the sole conduit for South Sudan's oil exports, said a month ago it would close two cross-border oil pipelines within 60 days and insisted output be shut by Aug. 7 unless South Sudan gave up support for the rebels. Juba denies backing insurgents.

Premiers hope to put energy rhetoric behind them

At last year’s Council of the Federation meeting, an Alberta-led drive for a national energy strategy erupted into a clash over westbound oil pipelines between Alberta’s Alison Redford and British Columbia’s Christy Clark, who famously refused to support any national effort until her demands were met.

As provincial and territorial premiers gather once again for their annual get-together on July 24 to 26 at Niagara-on-the-Lake, which will be hosted by Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, energy issues are expected to remain front-and-centre.

This time around, however, premiers are expected to move past their differences and focus on common energy interests.

Former BP chief builds US Gulf oil acreage

LONDON: Former BP chief executive John Browne is to preside over the biggest set of oil and gas assets in the shallower, mature section of the Gulf of Mexico after buying them from US-based Apache Corp.

Private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC, where Browne is a partner, is to pay Apache $3.75bn for its continental shelf assets, Houston-based Apache said.

New York breaks peak power usage record in heat wave

(Reuters) - New York State's power grid operator said power usage on Friday broke a record set in 2006 as consumers cranked up their air conditioners to escape sweltering six day-long heat wave.

Nigerian Lawmakers Want Shell, Eni Oil Award Revoked

Nigeria should revoke oil rights for which Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Eni SpA paid $1.1 billion, a parliamentary committee said, alleging that the acquisition process was “highly flawed.”

U.S. charges mastermind behind Algeria gas plant attack in absentia

NEW YORK – Terrorism charges were unsealed Friday in New York against a purported al-Qaida-linked leader in Africa accused of leading a January attack at a gas plant in Algeria that killed more than 35 hostages, including 10 Japanese and three Americans.

Judge Rules Against BP Attempt to Suspend Payments

A federal judge denied an attempt by BP to suspend payments to people and businesses claiming damages related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while an investigator looks into possible misconduct in the payout process.

This Is What Fracking Really Looks Like

“It’s a very hard subject to photograph,” Berman explained. “You see a drill, and you don’t know what that means, and then it disappears. What does that mean? It took me a while to figure out how to approach it.”

Shale Truth Interview: Arthur Berman

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is presenting a series of interviews on the real impacts of the shale gas industry. In this first segment of our "Shale Truth Interview" series energy expert Arthur Berman discusses some of the industry claims on the supply and availability of shale gas.

Around 2,000 Fukushima Workers At Risk Of Thyroid Cancer Due To Radiation: TEPCO

Around 2,000 people who have worked at Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant face a heightened risk of thyroid cancer, its operator said Friday.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said 1,973 people -- around 10 percent of those employed in emergency crews involved in the clean-up since the meltdowns -- were believed to have been exposed to enough radiation to cause potential problems.

India solar firms wants probe against dumping broadened

Indian clean-energy companies that claim manufacturers in the US and China dumped solar cells below cost on the market are seeking to extend their case to include imports from Europe and Japan.

Indosolar, Jupiter Solar Power and Websol Energy System have filed a new petition to request that duties be imposed on shipments from the European Union and Japan, S Venkataramani, chief executive officer of Indosolar, said in an e-mailed response to questions about the case's first hearing held this week in New Delhi.

Coal-heavy South Africa eyes wind and solar sectors

South Africa’s main energy company Eskom is adding extensive wind and solar investments to its coal intensive portfolio.

The $1.3 billion Renewables Support Programme, supported by the World Bank, African Bank and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will offer Eskom support in building a windfarm and one of the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plants.

How green is your state?

What's the greenest state? Kansas.

Yes, Kansas. And it's largely due to all that wind power rolling off the plains.

Analysis: Lawyers gear up to lobby, sue as McCarthy heads to EPA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When Gina McCarthy steps into her new role as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency she will face an army of lawyers trying to sway the agency as it writes rules on power-plant emissions that will form the centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate-action plan.

Why is killer diesel still poisoning our air?

More than half the cars now sold each year run on diesel. They presently make up a third of the total car fleet, compared with just 7.4 per cent only nine years ago. The dramatic rise has been explicitly encouraged because they emit slightly less carbon dioxide than their petrol-driven counterparts. And big environmental groups that used to campaign noisily against them have remained largely silent, possibly because of their overwhelming, if understandable, concern with climate change.

This is a serious matter. Tiny particulates, one of the two most serious pollutants emitted from car exhausts, are officially calculated to kill 29,000 people a year, over 10 times as many as die in car accidents, in a toll only exceeded by smoking. And the Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution has also suggested that they may play a part in 200,000 more deaths. No one has yet worked out a similar fatality figure for the other big danger from exhausts, nitrogen dioxide, but it is strongly linked with asthma, and a major 25-city study has suggested that living near main urban roads could account for up to 30 per cent of all new cases of the disease in children.

America's Aging Energy Infrastructure Needs An Overhaul

No one likes being told “I told you so.” But since DOE released its report last week, I’ve been tempted.

The report warns that the existing American energy infrastructure is highly vulnerable to climate change. That increasing temperatures will stress the U.S. water system and enhance the likelihood of drought. That because conventional power plants require huge volumes of water to operate, lower water availability will mean less reliable power. And that the changing climate will prompt more extreme and frequent storms, increasing energy demand due to extreme temperature changes and threatening our aging and already stressed electric grid with potential blackouts.

Will U.S. Refiners Pay For New Carbon Regulations?

If the conventional theory doesn't explain the recent move in RIN prices, then what does? According to the Wall Street Journal, on Monday, July 15 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA's decision to delay biogenic greenhouse gas [GHG] emission regulations for three years. Biogenic GHG emissions are those that are released from recently living biomass. Unlike GHG emissions from fossil fuels, which are released over a short time period after having been sequestered for millions of years, biogenic carbon has only recently been sequestered.

Why 80-degree temperatures kill in the U.K.

So why does 89 degrees kill in the U.K. when it doesn't in the United States?

One reason is that air-conditioning is relatively rare in England. Only 0.5 percent of homes in the U.K. have air-conditioning, according to the BBC. Compare that to the United States, where an estimated 87 percent of households have an air-conditioning unit.

Obama's unlikely climate change partner: China

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has stumbled on an unusual partner in his quest to combat climate change: China.

The world's two biggest emitters of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are finding common cause in efforts to reduce global warming, cooperation the U.S. says could clear the way for other developing nations like India and Brazil to get on board, too.

Reach for the Sun

A gigantic, steaming-hot mound of compost is not the first place most people would search for a solution to climate change, but the hour is getting very late. “The world experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes during the 2001-2010 decade,” declares a new report from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, which added that the decade was “the warmest since the start of modern measurements in 1850.” Among those extreme events: the European heat wave of 2003, which in a mere six weeks caused 71,449 excess deaths, according to a study sponsored by the European Union. In the United States alone, 2012 brought the hottest summer on record, the worst drought in 50 years and Hurricane Sandy. Besides the loss of life, climate-related disasters cost the United States some $140 billion in 2012, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded.

For Africa to Feed Africa, We Must "Make Peace" With Climate Change

This week in Ghana, leaders from across the continent are gathering for Africa Agriculture Science Week 2013, whose theme is "Africa Feeding Africa." As the World Bank report shows, few things are likely to affect food self-sufficiency in Africa more than the changes in growing conditions caused by climate change. The conference presents a timely opportunity to consider how scientists can help Africans adapt to climate change so they are not "condemned to the future" their colleagues have so vividly outlined in the World Bank analysis.

One way to do this is to strengthen the adaptive capacity of African farmers by bringing climate science down from the upper atmosphere and into farmer's fields in the form of practical seasonal forecasts of probable rainfall patterns and temperature, which can guide farm management (i.e., planting, farm operations and harvesting decisions).

The Climate Change Real Estate Boom Is Coming

Before he passed away, British futurist James Martin predicted a massive real estate boom in fortified "Climate Change Cities," where the global elite go to escape the ravages of rising sea levels and unstable weather patterns.

The Haunting Melody of Global Warming

Our own daily experience fails us, and looking at a graph leaves a lot of people cold (so to speak). However, sometimes converting a simple graph into some different form of information can deliver the message far better, and more effectively, than dots on a page.

University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford did something very clever: He took surface air temperature data and converted them into musical notes, one for each year from 1880 to 2012, and played them on his cello.

With regard to the last entry, I'm wondering if we'll see any mashups posted to such sites as You Tube... and how mashed up climate change will render things.

How about a duet with oil production? (steel drum?) FF concerto?

"Scientists predict that our planet will warm by at least another 1.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This additional warming would produce a series of notes beyond the range of human hearing." ~ A Song of Our Warming Planet

"If a tree falls in a forest..."

From the climate change real estate boom article.

"In the United States alone, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and many other cities face the risk of whole neighborhoods becoming uninhabitable because of climate change."

Chicago is next to Lake Michigan, 577 feet above sea level. It does not belong on that list.

And at the top of the drumbeat we have the Duh! quote of the month...

"“The train was not completely immobilized,” said Ed McCallum, a spokesman for the Ottawa-based agency." A week of diligent study and you already have figured out out that the train rolled down hill because the brakes were not on. Would this Ottawa place by any chance be the seat of Canadian Government?

(that is a rhetorical question, by the way)

My comment to the 'real estate' article:

"From above: "These new cities, which would cater to the “well-heeled,..."

As climate change proceeds, along with the depletion of resources and overall biospherical degradation, these folks may find themselves not so "well heeled". The 'little people' will likely make wealth preservation difficult, if not impossible. Plenty of historical examples for that. As it is, most of this wealth exists in the form of too many claims on too few assets. Our credit/debt based economies will likely go POOF long before sea level rise presents its full impact. Forward looking folks with means will have already built their lifeboats, IMO, or remain comfortably numb in their hubris."

As was discussed some yesterday, with an absence of systemical thinking, all sort of things are possible,, on paper.

New York City is littered with "luxury apartments." Some buildings are half-empty, being used by foreign billionaires as pied a terres. "Afforable housing" seems mostly a talking-point to get the luxury parts approved. One luxury tower on the West Side actually was found to have an affordable annex -- it was said to look like servants' quarters.

I can't imagine how anyone thinks that a city can host only the wealthy when the arts and commerce are what make the city worth living in. With Manhattan overbuilt with luxury flats and boutique stores, we in Queens live in fear as developers turn their eye$ on us. People living from day-to-day, going about their business, aren't making anyone rich. Rip it up, build anew -- that's where the big money changes hands.

Same in Sweden. We have long lines of waiting people to all the avilable flats. But for the last 5 years I have no memory of 1 (one) flat complex built for real people. Every single one of them are built as an investment, and thus they want tenants who can pay high rents.

Back in the 1960ies we had the same situation, but then the socialist government started the "million programme" to build houses for 1 000 000 people. We had like 6 million inhabitants at the time. I guess it need a state programme to turn this around.

During the sixties a lot of people left the countryside because of less people needed for farming then fertilizers and tractors started to be used. Some of these houses where built in suburbs that are very well planned.

Typically there there is a chopping mall in centrum with fast public transportation and good roads surounded with high rise buildings.

There have been a lot of complaints about these houses and this is most likely because they are cheap so people with less income tend live there. Sadly enough usually both the houses and infrastructure have not been properly maintained.

Yes they are boring as drying paint. I am writing this from inside one of these flats right now. But they are better than living with parents at age 40.

There usually is a lot of fun to have downtown during weekends. With a cheap appartment and cheap public transportation where will be money left to use downtown. Buy a nice house somewhere else and no or very little money will be left for fun.

Re: Why is killer diesel still poisoning our air

I'm pretty sure that diesel particulates are a serious problem but I'm not sure about the numbers they are citing here:

This is a serious matter. Tiny particulates, one of the two most serious pollutants emitted from car exhausts, are officially calculated to kill 29,000 people a year, over 10 times as many as die in car accidents, in a toll only exceeded by smoking. And the Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution has also suggested that they may play a part in 200,000 more deaths.

Here is a table excerpted from Wikipedia listing US traffic fatalities and showing that fatalities seem to have peaked in 2005 at a bit over 43,500 deaths and it seems there has been a very significant drop since.
Perhaps some can can explain what I'm missing? Is 29,000 deaths due to diesel particulates a typo? Do they mean 290,000, which is approximately 10 times the 2012 statistic?

Motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year[edit]

year deaths vehicle miles traveled (v.m.t.)(billions) fatalities per 100 million v.m.t. population fatalities per 100,000 population  %change
2004 42,836 2,965 1.44 293,638,158 14.63 positive decrease-0.52%
2005 43,510 2,989 1.46 296,507,061 14.72 negative increase0.44%
2006 42,708 3,014 1.42 299,398,484 14.31 positive decrease-2.79%
2007 41,259 3,031 1.36 301,139,947 13.70 positive decrease-3.85%
2008 37,423 2,977 1.26 303,824,640 12.31 positive decrease-11.0%
2009 33,883 2,957 1.15 306,700,000 11.05 positive decrease-9.7%
2010 [1] 32,885 2,967 1.11 308,745,538 10.6511 positive decrease-3.8%
2011 [3][4] 32,367 2,930 1.10 311,591,917 10.3876 positive decrease-2.5%
2012 (9 mo)[4] 25,580 1.16 314,395,013[5] 10.8483
(pro-rated over 12 mo.)
negative increase+4.4%
(pro-rated over 12 mo.)

2010 Detailed Statistics[edit]
The following table summarizes the number of people killed and injured in fatal collisions by month in 2010. The table does not include injuries resulting from incidents in which no fatalities occurred.[6]

01/2010 2290 4785 427
02/2010 2016 4340 386
03/2010 2423 5087 407
04/2010 2777 5775 404
05/2010 2934 6066 418
06/2010 2795 5809 348
07/2010 3095 6763 456
08/2010 3083 6549 428
09/2010 3024 6309 511
10/2010 3056 6382 543
11/2010 2795 5842 573
12/2010 2597 5417 548

The article is from the UK. It's British stats it's referring to.

I guess I shouldn't post before having my coffee!

Did Fred party too late on Friday night?

Party, in Brazil? Never happens... >;-)

Daily pictures at search engine Bing today - oil tankers - including a storm video

Sen. Boxer Sets Committee Hearing On Climate Change

At the helm of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer invited Republicans to submit any evidence they liked into the official Senate record, as Republicans brandished charts showing that atmospheric warming has slowed recently.

Dianna Furchtgott-Roth, an economist at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, said even if the planet is warming, it would be cheaper to control the sun's radiation through "geo-engineering" and "solar radiation management" that "diminishes the warmth of the sun's rays" than to cut back on fossil fuels.

Boxer said the Manhattan Institute has received $2 million from the Koch Foundation, set up by Koch Industries, a privately held oil and gas conglomerate.

It's easy to bash Republicans, but we are still talking about theater here.

The official policy of the United States is infinite fossil fuel consumption, infinite economic growth, and infinite population expansion. Again, that is the official policy of the country, at all government levels and of both major parties.

The United States has never done anything about global warming, and will NEVER do anything about global warming.

Dianna Furchtgott-Roth, an economist at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, said even if the planet is warming, it would be cheaper to control the sun's radiation through "geo-engineering" and "solar radiation management" that "diminishes the warmth of the sun's rays" than to cut back on fossil fuels.

LOL! I'd love to see her proposal, engineering drawings and economic analysis for a practical solar radiation management system that "diminishes the warmth of the sun's rays". I'm sure that, and whatever grand geo-engineering scheme she can come up with, would be orders of magnitude cheaper than simply cutting back on fossil fuels.

Well, unless of course, there was a sudden peak and decline in the production of those cheap and infinitely available fossil fuels on which her economic world view depends. And That, as we all know, could never happen!

...Now, Simon had a book that was published by the Princeton University Press. In that book, he’s writing about oil from many sources, including biomass, and he says, “Clearly there is no meaningful limit to this source except for the sun’s energy.” He goes on to note, “But even if our sun was not so vast as it is, there may well be other suns elsewhere.” Well, Simon’s right; there are other suns elsewhere, but the question is, would you base public policy on the belief that if we need another sun, we will figure out how to go get it and haul it back into our solar system? (audience laughter)

From: Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy (transcript)

Geo-engineering will be an easy sell.

Who seriously believes that after climate change takes out a few US cities, kills a few million people, or results in some other equivalent very predictable eventuality, that the masses won't endorse this?

A moderately well funded marketing campaign could pull it off today.

Do you doubt that?

Right now media and marketing convince people to drink Coke, eat at McDonald's, wear their pants well below their a**es, wear fluorescent sneakers costing >$100, buy Ford trucks, worship the Kardashians, drink energy drinks, vote for politicians who sell them down the river, sell them wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on and on and on.

No one has bothered to try yet, there isn't yet a need.

But when the time comes there will hardly even be a debate. Guaranteed.

Simply look at history. Simply look around you today.

In fact it will be like a decision to take or not take chemotherapy. The best option (not eating carcinogens in the first place) wasn't taken. Geoengineering will be a medicine that at least reduces the level of suffering (like most drugs in some vague hard to determine statistical sense), so we will line up and take it.

Attempts at geoengineering concern me more than climate change itself, but it is almost inevitable. It fits well with our religion of progress as well.

I imagine a lot of dissent along the line of, "Why should Boulder, Colorado, pay more taxes to save Miami from rising sea levels? They knew it was going to happen. Why didn't they do anything to save themselves?"

Which can be flipped right now..."Why should Miami pay more taxes to save Colorado from wildfires caused by global warming. They knew it was going to happen - why didn't they stop people from building in the forests?"

Apparently half of the forest service's budget is blown "fighting" and preventing wildfires out west - because people are too stupid not to build in fire-prone areas.

A video of the hearing is available on the Senate web site:


As the last speaker in the hearing (3hr 5min in the video), Roy Spencer gave his usual "there's no Global Warming" pitch, repeating his false claims regarding his "satellite temperature" measurements. The MSU and AMSU instruments don't measure temperature, they measure microwave energy in a narrow frequency band. For 20 years, Spencer and his partner, John Christy have claimed that these data are useful to monitor changes in the Earth temperature, that claim being subject to considerable dispute. He also claimed, yet again, that his instruments measure the entire Earth, which is clearly false.

I think his "lack of truth" is intentional and is thus perjury...

E. Swanson

His "lack of truth" is sanctioned by powerful members of our government (and their benefactors). On the House side, we have John Boehner (on CBS this morning) essentially equating obstruction with "moving forward", and Congress is on track to beat last year's record for the "least productive legislative session in history". Whatever our problems are, collectively, our government has no interest in solving them, in part because there simply aren't any viable solutions, IMO. I agree with the comment above that this is largely (very expensive) theatrics. They've done a superb job of setting both sides against the middle; just where they want us, and meaningful change is invalidated as soon as it's proposed; a society that's chasing its tail, lying to itself all-the-while.

For the most part, the doomers have it right.

Art installation brings you face to face with fracking

Fracking hell or fracking bliss? Fracking Futures, an art installation at Liverpool's FACT gallery, gives visitors a chance to decide what they think of this controversial gas extraction technique. Its miniaturised fracking "rig" simulates the sounds, tremors and flames that a real one might produce, and appears to drill right through the gallery floor.

... So what would it be like to have a fracking rig in your back yard? Put on your hard hat and enter the darkened gallery, and you immediately experience a sense of unease. The noise hits you hard, a pounding rhythmic bass sending vibrations right through you. Suddenly the red rig lights up and the drill rotates down through the rubble-strewn floor. The noise crescendoes, like a jet taking off, and metallic hammering accompanies the sinister smoke rising out of the drill hole. And then, as quickly as it started, it all stops. Forlorn bird cries ring out across a pool of effluent, and random methane flares hit you with a dry wall of heat.

Air Force weighs 'slant drilling' to tap offshore oil from Vandenberg

The U.S. Air Force will consider leasing land on Vandenberg Air Force Base for private companies to extract offshore oil and gas from land-based drills on the central California coast.

Sunset Exploration and Exxon Mobil recently asked the Air Force to review their proposal to use the technology for an oil and gas drilling project on the base near Lompoc, Air Force officials said Wednesday.

The proposal, opposed by environmental groups, would require the first new offshore lease in state waters since the 1960s, said Mark Meier, chief counsel for the State Lands Commission. It would allow companies to use onshore equipment with extended-reach "slant drilling" technology to reach offshore deposits.

U.S. law allows the military to lease land for oil development, and Vandenberg has five active oil wells, Air Force officials said.

"There aren't the wells you're looking for...". The (Environmental) Force is strong here.
Reply if you have an interest in Vandenberg launches.

I hear the Delta-IV Heavy lift vehicles sound like an earthquake … http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/video-giant-rocket-blasts-spy-sa...

Hi Seraph
I can see launch contrails from my place in South California when Vandenberg blasts a rocket near dawn or dusk.
Some are really impressive, I'll watch live video then go out to see the vehicle pass by. The "spy" satts are the size of a school bus. Search for "Lacrosse" and images.
There is a Delta Heavy scheduled for 28 August and I plan to drive to see the launch.
Some links in another post to avoid the filters.


CIA spooks investigate geoengineering to fix climate

This week in Washington DC, a panel of experts convened by the NAS met for the first time to embark on a study that will consider the risks and benefits of engineering solutions to dangerous climate change by sequestering away carbon dioxide or reflecting solar radiation back out into space.

... the CIA's main interest in geoengineering does not lie in any offensive use. Rather, the US intelligence community sees climate change as a potential threat to global geopolitical stability, and so wants a thorough analysis of the mitigation options. ... the main focus of the final report, due in the second half of 2014, will be a scientific assessment of the feasibility of three or four proposed geogineering technologies

Defkalion http://defkalion-energy.com/ will be streaming a demo of their LENR reactor on Monday and Tuesday. http://new.livestream.com/triwu2 This is part of their presentation at ICCF 18, where they are discussing their theories. They will have a live in person demo at NiWeek in August.

They will be showing their R5 reactor which they claim produces 4.5KW of thermal energy. Once pre-heated, the reactor only needs a spark at about 1Hz to keep running; the claimed COP is over 25. The device can run for 6 months before needing a recharge. Specifications are posted on their website.

They say they are working with existing energy companies on a broad range of applications, some already have reactors to work with. The first applications should be on the market in about a year.

No matter how well this stuff is refuted, it keeps coming back. No different than the last time, or the time before. Their site is pretty.

I will pay 2 times the market rate for all the excess energy produced by these wonderful contraptions. No ceiling.

Come set one up at my home or business.

My money is ready and waiting.

State department approves pipeline to Canada. No, it's not Keystone XL

A 430-mile-long pipeline from North Dakota to Alberta was approved by the US State Department Wednesday. The so-called Vantage Pipeline, not to be confused with Keystone XL, will mark the first time that liquids from North Dakota's reservoirs will flow into existing Albertan infrastructure.

Construction of the pipeline segment inside Canada has already been under way for some time, according to reports ... it is to carry ethane from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, through Saskatchewan, to Empress, Alberta.

North Dakota is rich in ethane and other natural gas liquids but it has limited export capacity for these commodities, and ethane in particular, said Justin Kringstad, who directs the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

Pipeline to be altered to ship Ohio shale gas to Midwest

One of the largest natural gas pipelines built in the United States will be made bidirectional to transport natural gas from Ohio to the Midwest and potentially to the West.

The Rockies Express Pipeline, called REX, previously was used to ship natural gas from Colorado and Wyoming to Ohio. But the shale boom in Ohio and Pennsylvania has reduced the demand for natural gas shipped east in the pipeline.

A forest will store carbon for free, it needs no fancy factories, and people running round digging holes, and spreading charcoal. If biochar is a simple solution, then surely just converting some unproductive land to forest would do the same job simpler, and for less costs, with the added advantage of producing oxygen as well.

It doesn't require fancy technology, and new unproven theories, and lots of money, which is probably why it gets far less attention then something gimmicky like biochar.

I read recently of some work indicating that biochar does not sequester carbon for nearly as long as was thought. I don't know what soil conditions were studied, or how good the methodology was.

There is this hill in Sweden where we burnt witches (10% of the local female population) in the 17:th century. You can still go there and find chars laying around.

I guess it is all down to the local conditions. I inspected a house that burnt in the 1960ies. The chars looked like it burnt yesterday.

Soil rich in organic matter is a great way to take carbon dioxide out of the air. A wholesale switch to organic farming methods would go a long way towards mitigating the longer term effects of climate change and offering long-term carbon storage solutions. As industrial farming begins its long slow death spiral, this will be all the more reason to convert to localized organic farming methods.

Does using compost made from sawdust, wood chips, food scraps and unused plants in the garden sequester more carbon than it releases?

With the benefit of doubt about any suggestions, implications or insinuations behind your question in mind, I'll nevertheless suggest that it seems like a very limited, even deceptive or misleading one to ask of compost. Since when has compost been viewed as a means to sequester carbon anyway? That seems like a question borne of and/or influenced by (BAU) climate change 'panic mode'. In panic mode especially, many people can lose their heads. But the system seems to have long ago begun the process of its own decapitation.

While burning "compost" effectively "monoculturalizes" it, it seems even worse than that if we're talking about decomposition, since burning it renders it more or less inert, where it is no longer compost as such.

From what is understood, many plants rely on living decomposition, such as with the relationship between some fungi and rotting wood, for example. There are many interrelationships we do not understand or know about.

It is hard to imagine the potential for, and increasing risk of, added disaster to our ecosystems and climate if humans started practicing the burning, en masse, of what would otherwise be living compost.

Planting or nurturing native forests seem like geoengineering done right and we've lost much of them throughout history. It's past time to start planting, rather than burning.

By the way, my little tamarack sapling transplant is doing well, and as per my self-study of wild edibles/medicinals, I've also been doing an inventory of what is growing wild on the land here. So far; bedstraw, speedwell, yarrow, fleabane, self-heal, daisy, hawkweed/sow-thistle, dandelion, plantain, white clover, barberry, wild strawberry & raspberry, false solomon's-seal, yellow woodsorrel, and something that might be chickweed.

While burning "compost" effectively "monoculturalizes" it, it seems even worse than that if we're talking about decomposition, since burning it renders it more or less inert, where it is no longer compost as such.

Hey Tribe, while I can't speak for BlueTwilight, I suspect that he or she wasn't thinking about burning compost as a means of sequestering CO2.

I think the question may have referred more to the carbon cycle itself in the sense that if we compost, instead of burning the organic matter what happens to the carbon. Is it reused by fungi, bacteria, plants and other organisms to build cellular structures and in that sense remains sequestered or is it mostly released as CO2 or CH4 during the metabolic processes involved in decomposition.

While I haven't researched this topic in depth, I suspect the overall process of composting should generally speaking, be a carbon neutral process with respect to carbon based greenhouse gas emissions.



Right. My thought about 'composting writ large' was the process of rebuilding deep soil bases, as with the Permaculture projects and the Barren land reclamation that Tribe, You and others have brought up.

I still go back to Mssr. Jean Pain and his Chipping/Shredding scrub-wood composting process that allowed him to make a stretch of worn out scrubland in Provence, France back into a highly fertile farm for he and his wife.


I have also found a PDF of the book that his widow produced that documents what they did in greater detail. 'A new Kind of Garden' (IIRC) If interested, I could find a link again.

If interested, I could find a link again.

Please do.

Actually worked! Some searches are better than others..


I'll be eager to hear people's thoughts on it.

Thanks, Bob! That's a great little book to have in ones collection. Lot's of simple concepts and very useful knowledge to have available

Very fitting that Jean Pain's name translates into John Bread...




According to the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization 650 gigatons of carbon is stored in vegetation, 750 gigatons in the atmosphere, with fully 1500 gigatons of carbon stored in organic topsoil. Says the UNFAO: "Soil organic carbon is the largest reservoir in interaction with the atmosphere"

Anything that increases the depth of topsoil must increase carbon sequestered. And vice versa.


When settlers first came onto the North American prairies, the topsoil depth averaged ten inches, built up over the centuries and held in place by deep grass roots. In the hundred years since the prairie sod was broken by the steel plow and the land was converted to farming, on average about half the topsoil has been eroded away.

Don't know how many tons of carbon this released to the atmosphere, but it must be a lot.

To Tribe Of Pangaea- First Member: I am referring to using the compost to build the soil in my garden. If I did not compost the sawdust and wood chips, then I would burn them in my wood stove which certainly would release all of their carbon into the atmosphere. FMagyar understands my question.

My garden is not peat soil, but I think the amount of compost I am adding to my garden is building the soil faster than the rate at which erosion and gardening is removing it. I add 12 gallons of compost per year to a corn plot measuring 9 feet x 12 feet. Because I have the area terraced I can measure the height of the soil relative to the tops of the concrete blocks. After a decade, I should easily see what is happening to the depth of my soil.

Understood, thanks, and all the best with it, it sounds promising.
Incidentally, I invite you to consider writing about it and/or about your other related projects over at the World Permaculture Network where you can set up a subsite of your own.

Thanks for the clarification/elaboration, guys, I feel a little better.

aardvark; I certainly hope that the regard for soil as a carbon sink in specific does nothing to limit the perception of & regard for soil in general.

eric; the book might be this one.

"Reafforestation will be the mark and work of the authentic civilization."
~ Jean Pain

Drought and blight are killing forests here in the U.S. Southwest releasing carbon into the atmosphere as the wood rots. Climate change might trump the intent.

There's a permaculture film floating about called 'Greening The Desert' that seems to "trump" drought and desertification with implications for more amenable environments.

This comment is not directly relevant to any drumbeat news but has more to do with this site gearing down. I registered as a user a bit over 7 years ago although I was a lurker for some time before that. I became interested in Peak Oil in 2003 and IMO pretty much all things relevant were discussed many years ago. The site will be missed but it has served it's purpose and the time has come to move on. Farewell TOD and may you join LATOC in the greener pastures.

I personally ditched IT as a career path and became a fisherman. Hard work but a lot less stress (most of the time). I'm in pretty good shape and still looking at the world's economic slide with doomer's eyes. So far we are on track with the worst case scenarios (slow collapse, heavy infrastructure decay while people remain ignorant of the seriousness of the 'economic decline').

I might not check back but felt like saying some kind of goodbye to the site although I'm not aware of any friends I might have made here :) In any case my life should be reasonably well covered - crash or no crash.

LATOC can be found here: http://theoilage.com/

Registering for theoilage is a pain in the neck. Their CAPTCHA is not obvious and took me 6 tries before I got by it. It is a fill in the blank question. Mine was "Of course you know this means ______"? where the expected answer is 'war'. I was thinking that the answer would have something to do with their site. Then their system has me registered but inactive because I did not get the registration email. I have tried to resend the registration email many times but I never receive the email. And yes I checked in the spam and junk folders. And to top it off I cannot find a way to contact an administrator on their site to get this resolved.

I had a similar problem with the planetbeat. AT&T's spam filter rejected the confirmation e-mail(didn't even go into my spam folder). A few hours later Zerk resent it.

That was last Tuesday, I'm still shown as the last one registering.

theoilage looks just like all the rest of the TOD alternatives, nothing special. Reading an article linked from TOD is like reading it along with a group of friends. Kind of like watching a movie with friends is much better than watching alone.

I too agree that it is community. When I read comments on TOD, I look for comments from posters I 'know'. After a while you learn personalities and respect some more than others. You know their point of view. This is what we are loosing with TOD and I fear we will not find it alternatives. Focusing on drumbeat news articles is not the key. Managing a site is not the key. Posting quality articles is not the key. These things while important are not the key. It is the community that is much more important and you cannot create that on demand in an alternative. Even TOD has suffered with the loss ROCKMAN and others.

Re. from above: "WTI Crude Exceeds Brent for First Time in Almost Three Years" by Moming Zhou

Improved pipeline networks and the use of rail links are helping to ease the North American oil glut created by rising production of crude from shale formations.

Because transporting oil by train is more expensive than pipeline, the price of WTI must be depressed to make it profitable to ship by train. The use of rail is not easing the glut. The glut has been relieved because the oil coming from Canada has been reduced by flooding last month. If EIA data was published promptly instead of with a 3 month delay, one could see Canadian imports into the U.S. have decreased.

The EIA's opinion from Short-Term Energy Outlook: Market Prices and Uncertainty Report, July 9, 2013:

WTI prices resumed their strengthening trend against Brent prices in June. The Brent-WTI spread settled at $4.52 per barrel on July 3, the narrowest level for the differential since January 2011 (Figure 2). However, this spread may not be reflecting the cost of transporting the marginal barrel of crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. An uptick in PADD 2 refinery runs, with the utilization rate in the Midwest reaching 90.7 percent for the week ending June 28, combined with issues affecting Canadian crude oil production and pipeline transportation may be diverting crude oil from Cushing to other parts of the United States Midcontinent. This can also be observed in the strength of Bakken prices compared to WTI prices in June. When refineries began increasing runs and the initial supply outages occurred, Bakken spot prices moved higher first and settled at an average premium to WTI of $3.05 per barrel for the five-day average ending June 14. Then, as some refineries in the Midwest came out of turn-around, WTI prices moved higher as well.

Looking at the Brent-WTI spread along the futures curve, the difference between the two benchmarks increases to reach about $7 per barrel by the end of the first quarter of 2014 and levels off at about $8 per barrel in 2015 (Figure 3). The increase in the spread along the futures curve shows that the further narrowing of this differential may only be temporary and has mainly been driven by the specific short-term supply and demand developments cited above rather than by the complete resolution of bottlenecks affecting inland crude transportation.

A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold

Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.

… Only a tenth of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that amount by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year —and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding —and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants.

… Using special exemptions granted by the Federal Reserve Bank and relaxed regulations approved by Congress, the banks have bought huge swaths of infrastructure used to store commodities and deliver them to consumers —from pipelines and refineries in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas; to fleets of more than 100 double-hulled oil tankers at sea around the globe; to companies that control operations at major ports like Oakland, Calif., and Seattle.

… Before Goldman bought Metro International three years ago, warehouse customers used to wait an average of six weeks for their purchases to be located, retrieved by forklift and delivered to factories. But now that Goldman owns the company, the wait has grown more than 20-fold —to more than 16 months, according to industry records.

… Because Metro International charges rent each day for the stored metal, the long queues caused by shifting aluminum among its facilities means larger profits for Goldman. And because storage cost is a major component of the “premium” added to the price of all aluminum sold on the spot market, the delays mean higher prices for nearly everyone, even though most of the metal never passes through one of Goldman’s warehouses.

… “It’s a totally artificial cost,” said one of them, Jorge Vazquez, managing director at Harbor Aluminum Intelligence,a commodities consulting firm. “It’s a drag on the economy. Everyone pays for it.”

… At the same time, JPMorgan, which also controls metal warehouses, began seeking approval of a plan that would ultimately allow it, Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, a large money management firm, to buy 80 percent of the copper available on the market on behalf of investors and hold it in warehouses. The firms have told regulators that these stockpiles,which would be used to back new copper exchange-traded funds, would not affect copper prices. But manufacturers and copper wholesalers warned that the arrangement would squeeze the market and send prices soaring. They asked the S.E.C. to reject the proposal.

After an intensive lobbying campaign by the banks, Mary L. Schapiro, the S.E.C.’s chairwoman, approved the new copper funds last December, during her final days in office. S.E.C. officials said they believed the funds would track the price of copper, not propel it, and concurred with the firms’ contention —disputed by some economists —that reducing the amount of copper on the market would not drive up prices

An upcoming dehoarding effect in metals?

Izabella Kaminska | FTAlphaville | Jul 15 13:54

An interesting bit of news, by way of the FT’s Jack Farchy and Daniel Schäfer this week:

JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are seeking to sell their metal warehousing units just three years after their controversial entry to the industry, even as a proposed rule change by the London Metal Exchange is likely to reduce the attractiveness of the business.

The two US banks got in to the niche warehousing business in 2010 at a time when a build-up in stocks following the financial crisis had triggered a boom for storage companies. But their ownership of warehouses struck a nerve when metal users began complaining that warehousing companies were profiting from bottlenecks in the system that have distorted prices.

Most base metals curves are still in contango, so if banks were prompted to buy into warehousing businesses specifically to exploit store-and-forward-sell strategies, now may seem an odd time to start shedding warehousing interests.

The FT suggests the exit is being prompted by the LME’s decision to tackle the phenomenon of unprecedented warehouse queues — related to the fullness of warehouses. These were starting to tarnish the reputation not only of warehouse owners, but of the LME system itself . The delays had been profitable for warehouse owners because they continued to receive rent until the metal actually left the building. The greater the delay, the more rent.

It's a crooked world we live in.

Seraph- as the hour for TOD is getting late, I would appreciate it if you could share some of your search methods and favorite sites for these articles- thanks

And I've always wondered and marveled at how Leanan could compile such a comprehensive list of relevant articles daily and then semi-daily...

Ditto, I can not even approach her speed in locating, screening, citing, previewing and posting links to articles. Magic....

C8- The answer to your question will have to wait till later in the week when I get back to my PC (I'm using a kindle at the moment) . Posting multiple links can be tedious with this tablet.


Classical rent seeking behavior

ClassicalNeo-classical rent seeking behavior.
There Fixed!

When times get tough, fraudulent schemes blossom.

The vampire squid strikes again.


The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. -- Matt Taibbi

The free market only works if there are no dominant and powerful players who can skew the rules in their favor. By persuading politicians they are "too big to fail" the big financial groupings have worked themselves into a position where they can subvert the market in virtually any nation. The whole world is being turned into a corrupt third-world kleptocracy for the benefit of the 1%.

The only solution I can see is to forcibly break them up. This will mean difficulty raising capital for very large projects, but I think the benefits will be worth it.

The other factor is the way people who make investment decisions don't carry personal risk. They get their salaries and bonuses whether the enterprise being invested in succeeds or fails, often thanks to fancy risk-offsetting derivatives. Their fortunes need to be much more tightly bound to the real-world results of their decisions.

Vampire squid are incredible cephalopods! There is no need to insult them by suggesting that they are even remotely anything like Goldman Sachs!

Peak Oil is dead! Long live Peak Oil!

Noah Smith, Noahpinion, Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One of my favorite websites, The Oil Drum, is shutting down, and I am mad! Everyone is attributing the shutdown to the death of the "Peak Oil" meme, which in turn is attributed to fracking. The first is probably true; Peak Oil mania is over. But the second is false. Fracking has not killed Peak Oil. It just hasn't fit the narratives that many of the Peak Oilers spun.

The thesis of Peak Oil is simple: Global oil production will soon peak and begin to decline. But there were two possible stories that the Peak Oilers told about how this would happen:

"Good Peak Oil": In this case, we find something that's better than oil, and switch to that, just like we once transitioned away from whale oil. In this case, oil prices and production would both fall.

"Bad Peak Oil": In this case, we don't find something better than oil, and as oil becomes more scarce, the price would go up, while oil production and overall economic activity both contracted.

What we got was neither of these. Or more accurately, we got a little bit of both, coupled with something else that doesn't fit with either story. What happened was this:

AFN condemns nutritional experiments on aboriginal children

Resolution says experiments reflect a pattern of genocide

CBC News, Posted: Jul 18, 2013 4:45 PM CT

The Assembly of First Nations has unanimously passed an emergency resolution condemning nutritional experiments done on aboriginal people including children in residential schools in the 1940s and 1950s.

Delegates stood and wiped away tears as they passed the resolution Thursday afternoon at the AFN’s annual meeting in Whitehorse.

The resolution states the experiments "reveal Crown conduct reflecting a pattern of genocide against aboriginal peoples."

Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Indian Residential Schools date back to the 1870’s. The policy behind the government funded, church-run schools attempted to “kill the Indian in the child”. Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, with the last one closing in 1996.

More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in these schools. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. Today, there are an estimated 80,000 former students still living.

I used to think we Canadians were generally good and decent!

The relevance of the above posts to discussions here at TOD... Pipelines!

Actually Canadians are just much better at self-glorifying P.R. than the Americans, that's all.

Always worthwhile reading the comments at the Arctic Sea Ice Blog...

A chunk of ice 25 times size of Manhattan breaks off NE Greenland

Yes, that is one big chunk of ice -- and it broke off quite rapidly. Good idea to use it as a condition sentinel from here on out.

Nasa Worldview overlays a distance scale; according to that, 83.9 km x 31.9 km = 2205 km2 (or 851 sq miles, 25.2 Manhattan Islands)

As long as the ice is melting I guess everything will be OK but then the ice is almost gone temperatures could start to increase more rapidly. If you measure the energy needed to rice temperature in glass with pieces of ice quite a lot of energy is needed just to melt the ice before the temperature start to increase.

The feedback into climate from the sea ice melting is extremely uncertain. This spring the North Pole had an unusually persistent cyclone over it, keeping temperatures down, and fragmenting and scattering the ice. Although this delayed the visible surface and edge melting of the ice, it is unclear how the melt season will end up.

There is some suggestion that it was the fractured ice introducing open water into contact with the arctic air that lead to the cloudy, low pressure system becoming stable for so long. It may be a taster for the kind of regional weather system changes we see in the arctic.

Not really on topic, but, like TOD, she tried to provide a little clarity.

Pioneering US journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92

Ms Thomas covered the administrations of 10 presidents and was known for asking difficult questions.

She was a fixture at White House news conferences and considered a pioneer for women in journalism.

Here's to asking hard questions.

Not just for Alan, I found it very interesting.

Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road.

7,000 mile rail shipments from China to Europe, much faster than by sea. Average 14 miles per hour, I'm sure that can be improved upon if they could just get the gauge standardized.

At least in the photo it is an inefficient single track and is not electrified.

The sea route is still about 25 percent cheaper than sending goods by train, but the cost of the added time by sea is considerable.

There are many things they could do to improve efficiency in both fuel use and duration of travel.

Steve From Virginia has posted his latest Monday Mayhem at Economic Undertow: this is a Drumbeat replacement:

Egypt’s future crude oil import requirements for 3 population scenarios

Egypt sits on a key strategic location between North Africa and the Middle East, where almost 4 mb/d of oil transit through the Sumed pipeline and the Suez canal.

20 years after its oil peak this country is now embroiled in a serious energy crunch. Crude oil production will decline between 3 and 4 % pa while population may grow from 80 million to 100 million by 2030. It is in the world’s interest to make sure that Egypt does not descend into chaos which will impact not only on global oil markets but also on neighbouring countries. This will require to help Egypt with importing crude oil. Here are some simple calculations what kind of quantities would be involved:


Whoever comes to power now faces the same situation. If the problem of fuel shortages in Egypt cannot be resolved by oil imports, violence may impact on other countries and there is the prospect of one the world’s chokepoints in serious danger. In the end there will be no other choice than OPEC supplying as much oil as is needed to keep Egypt going, on credit or at discounted rates. That oil of course will not be available to those who thought they can always buy oil for their pleasure.


Yeah, a lot of people are bashing on Morsi and are happy that the Islamists are gone. And I agree that theocracy is a bad thing but in the big picture, that is merely a side-story to Egypt's real issue: its flailing economy. No matter who takes the reigns faces a nearly impossible situation. Well, the one thing they can do to help is implore the people to stop rioting so at least they can revive the tourist trade.

Perfect situation for a go-to-solar effort. Somebody is going to be shelling out big bucks to solve this mess, so why not go where we all know we have to go eventually- all solar. Egypt is an ideal start point.

Spending the same just to keep the present hopeless situation going a little while longer would be really stupid, no?

My sister and her family have been in my neck of the woods, on vacation from the UK, for the past three weeks so, I've been sort of busy/distracted. The conversion of TOD to a static archive was announced days after they arrived so I haven't really commented on that yet. I find it somewhat ironic that the deactivation of TOD is being heralded as a sign that Peak Oil is dead just as it seems to me that PO is becoming undeniable. Just a couple of quick signs:

Detroit files for bankruptcy.
No plausible excuse AFAICT for oil rising from $95 to $108 over the past month

Here are a few stories from my local rag that add to the mix one way or another:

Jamaica and the Panama Canal

Now that the canal is being expanded to accommodate much larger 'Post-Panamax' vessels by doubling the capacity of the waterway by 2015, the same expectations that Jamaica stands to benefit have come up. The expansion project will create demand for ports that can handle these super-sized Post-Panamax ships. Miami and a number of other ports on the US Eastern seaboard are already ready, having done the necessary upgrades.

Using remarkably similar language to the Handbook of Jamaica 100 years ago, current Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton says the Logistics Hub Project will allow Jamaica to take full economic advantage of the opportunities presented by the widening of the Panama Canal.

Now, this commenter calling himself "Peak Oiler", obviously a TOD reader, gets in the following stab for PO

If world oil production does not increase significantly over the next few years, as is suggested by a select few analysts, contradicting the current hyperbole surrounding recent increases in "tight oil" production in the US, the world economy will not grow. To the contrary, it will contract and there will be less shipping and less need for all these facilities.

Next up:

Transport costs taking toll

Highways must play a significant role in our development process, but the rising cost of the toll will defeat the purpose if the average motorist is unable to afford it.....[snip]

It was my understanding from news reports at the time that the Portmore area should have been developed with a railway operating from Hellshire to Kingston This would have been run similar to a subway, but in its wisdom, the Government scrapped the plan.

Most modern cities have such systems for mass transport and even millionaires use them, as long as they are reliable. Maybe we are asking too much of investors, and that is why they are not attracted to the proposal to reintroduce the system. Since what is left is rusting away and a temptation to scrap-metal thieves, why not give the contract to a serious investor at a peppercorn lease for 25 years before trying to skin them with taxes? A passenger service from May Pen and Linstead into Kingston could minimise the congestion on the road, creating employment and lowering the country's fuel bill.

Again in the comments section this "Peak Oiler" character gets in another stab for PO including the following:

The peaking and decline of world oil production will continue to result in increases in transportation costs. 97% of US transportation is fuelled by petroleum products and they have some mass transit networks that are electrically driven so, it must be even higher in Jamaica.

Oil free transport is a topic that has not been discussed in Jamaica recently, as far as I am aware. Since we do no produce oil, maybe we should be discussing it.


EDITORIAL - Lessons from Detroit

How Detroit, once one of America's leading industrial towns, and Jamaica came to this pass should make interesting case studies. Moreover, the likely effect of Detroit's bankruptcy filing should be a matter to which those Jamaican stakeholders who would resist public sector and pension reforms pay close attention.

Like Jamaica, Detroit has, for too long, suffered from bad government and poor economic management, which exacerbated the loss of competitive advantage by the city's motor manufacturers.

There was a time, though, when the vibrancy of the city's motor industry masked the shortcomings and the city offered its employees generous pensions and insurance. When there was no longer the income to meet these obligations, the city, like Jamaica, borrowed to cover the expense.

Again this "Peak Oiler" dude rips into the comments with a PO related comment.

Finally an AP syndicated story on Detroit:

Why can't Detroit make a comeback?

So why can't the Motor City use bankruptcy to transform itself in the same way? Unfortunately for Detroit, it's not that simple. Automakers were able to shed most of their problems in bankruptcy court and come out leaner and more competitive.

The city can get rid of its gargantuan debt, but a bankruptcy judge can't bring back residents or raise its dwindling revenue.

"In General Motors, at least you could have this dream about there being increased revenues in the future," said Douglas Baird, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of Chicago.

"It's much harder to do that in the case of a city like Detroit because it doesn't sell a product."

"Peak Oiler's" comment:

In my opinion Detroit is the poster child for "Peak Oil". While their has been much ado over recent surges in US oil production in the US press of late, declaring the concept of Peak Oil dead, the fact is that at some point production of oil will no longer increase year after year but, will instead go into decline. One of the signs of the peaking of world oil production is a significant run up in prices coinciding with some amount of difficulty in increasing output in response to increasing prices, as is being experienced now.

Detroit is a "one trick pony" with it's economy very heavily dependent on automobile manufacturing and with increasing fuel costs precipitating a decline in car sales in most major markets outside China and India it is difficult to envisage a turn around for Detroit. Next in line is probably the area around the Boeing aircraft assembly facilities, when passenger airliner sales tank, as they invariably will. Remember when it happens that, I predicted it.

I find it surreal that at the same all this Peak Oil is dead news is coming out, this newspaper is publishing comments by someone calling themselves "Peak Oiler", that mention the words Peak Oil over and over and over again. Of course, maybe they're just making fun of him.

Alan from the islands

Re: "So why can't the Motor City use bankruptcy to transform itself in the same way [as GM]?

GM's bankruptcy was Chapter 11, while Detrots's is Chapter 9, meaning there are some big differences. Chapter 11 has some time constraints built in designed to accellerate the process. Finalising a Chapter 9 can take years.

One 'solution' to Detroit's 20 billion dollar problems is to throw $36 billion at improving and expanding its roadway system:

I-94 Expansion: Controversial SEMCOG Vote Passes, Will Widen Freeway Through Detroit (UPDATE)

A proposed freeway widening that would cut through Detroit's most up-and-coming neighborhood had residents and transit activists howling for alternatives -- with little recourse.

SEMCOG, a regional governance board encompassing seven counties across Southeast Michigan, met Thursday afternoon to approve the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. That vision will ultimately allocate $36 billion in funds over 25 years to the area's roads, freeways, highways, buses and proposed light rail, including extensive work on I-94 and I-75. The plan was passed, despite impassioned public comment begging for alternatives, and a motion to temporarily remove the most controversial aspects of the transit plan.

Folks may enjoy Steve Ludlum's commentary on the subject:

You might think the battles over urban freeways were won long ago but you would be wrong. The US highway enterprise is a gigantic, mindless robot that nobody knows how to turn off! The Federal Department of Transportation funds the bulk of the cost of ‘improvements’ with the state and localities picking up the generally modest balances. The US government has unlimited borrowing capacity and — thanks to the Federal Reserve and generalized deflation — can borrow at the lowest possible cost. As a consequence, hundreds of millions of good dollars are set to be thrown after bad … good dollars squandered every year for ten years on useless freeways that could certainly be spent more productively elsewhere within the city.

Feed the cars, starve the public: after fifty-years, citizens in Michigan still don’t understand that freeways and automobiles are what bankrupted Detroit in the first place and are set to ruin the state … along with the rest of the country....


Once TOD really kicks the barrel toward the end of the summer, all its little droplets will be more scattered than ever, like an oily, yet oil-rinsing, rain over the blogosphere/forasphere/etc..

Drupal is an English rendering of the Dutch word "druppel", which means "drop" (as in "a water droplet"). The name was taken from the now-defunct Drop.org website, whose code slowly evolved into Drupal. Buytaert wanted to call the site "dorp" (Dutch for "village") for its community aspects, but mistyped it when checking the domain name and thought the error sounded better. ~ Wikipedia

I hope to see some of you little droplets writing for example, for a little bit of coin over at permaculturenews.org.

Don't think this has been covered here:

Economists forecast the end of growth

Last year Grantham issued his stunning but little-known verdict that previous US GDP growth rates of 3% a year are now "gone forever." Future US growth will eventually approximate:

"1.4% a year, and adjusted growth about 0.9%... The bottom line for US real growth, according to our forecast, is 0.9% a year through 2030, decreasing to 0.4% from 2030 to 2050."

He adds that Prof Gordon and others have failed to account for the role of "tightening resource constraints" and "environmental costs that increase at an accelerating rate"

In other words, economists (always the last to recognise reality) are seeing that average growth predictions have at least halved. That of course means lower interest rates, less capital, and less chance of funding the necessary changes.

It also means recessions should be considered the new normal.

The only thing I don't think they have truly recognised is that there is one major source of productivity growth left - the widescale automation of jobs. Companies get richer through first offshoring and then automation - whilst unemployment grows and the poor get more revolting.

What was that about slow gradual decline again?

Do their growth models account for abandoned and degrading infrastructure? Real estate captured by rising sea level?

They're economists, be thankful that at least a few are considering resources to be non-infinite ...

I'm actually kind of shocked that none of the seem to have put together 'the end of growth'/decline with the example of MENA and drawn any obvious conclusions.

The only thing I don't think they have truly recognised is that there is one major source of productivity growth left - the widescale automation of jobs. Companies get richer through first offshoring and then automation - whilst unemployment grows and the poor get more revolting.

I have to wonder if it has ever occurred to them, that large numbers of poor people who are revolting because they have no jobs, coincidentally tend to be very lousy consumers of products made by robots? What do they suppose are the implications of that for the economy as a whole?


Then again, perhaps the economy can be saved and this might be the beginning of a new growth industry in health care...

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A child is rushed to a U.S. emergency department every 45 minutes with an injury that's related to a falling television, according to a new study.

How the heck does the Onion stay in business?

I have to wonder if it has ever occurred to them, that large numbers of poor people who are revolting because they have no jobs, coincidentally tend to be very lousy consumers of products made by robots? What do they suppose are the implications of that for the economy as a whole?

Shhhh, don't tell them that ........... I have a horrible feeling they might have already worked out that those people they no longer need to make the products can thus no longer buy the products; so why keep them around ?

Did you realise that after the recent changes to benefits in the UK, those on benefits can no longer afford to live in London, and thus have to move elsewhere? Segregation into the haves and the have nots makes it easier to put up barriers, and to apportion resources like fuel if they grow short....

Shhhh, don't tell them that ........... I have a horrible feeling they might have already worked out that those people they no longer need to make the products can thus no longer buy the products; so why keep them around ?

Yeah, but the flip side of that is that the people they no longer need might have figured out a few things too. History is replete with stories of uprisings. The privileged and the elite who think that living apart from the poor in gated communities makes them safe, would do well to study the French Revolution. Roast banker on a spit is not without historical precedent. Unfortunately these stories do not tend to end well for either the rich or the poor.

I think having horrible feelings are probably justified on both sides of the fence.

I think it is important to realize that there is no "they". If you are the CEO you have a fiduciary duty to maximise profits for your company. If that means people get replaced by machines or the job needs to be sent abroad, then that is what you have to do. If you don't do it, your competition will, and then you are out of business. Even if you somehow manage to stay in business, the board of directors will replace you with someone else who will do what it takes to maximise profits. It has always been this way.

If you are the CEO you have a fiduciary duty to maximise profits for your company.


Just generally speaking, no. The profitability of a corporation is, of course, one of the considerations that ought to enter into any discussion over the direction of the corporation, but directors and officers aren't required to maximize short-term profit at the expense of all other considerations.

In the legal field, the principle that the directors (and officers) of a corporation are allowed to exercise discretion in determining the best course of action for the corporation is known as the "business judgment rule".


In general, as long as a corporate director or officer acts in a manner which is in the corporation's best interests, and avoids any breach of his or her duties of good faith or loyalty, there would be little cause to find a breach of any fiduciary duty. And of course "in the corporation's best interests" can encompass any of a variety of possible actions. It could simultaneously be in the company's "best interests" to outsource jobs to China (in order to cut costs and improve profits) or to keep jobs in the USA (in order to avoid negative publicity and to mitigate the impact of fluctuating transportation costs), and where one or the other is chosen, it's usually not going to be considered a breach of fiduciary duty to choose one or the other.

If you are the CEO you have a fiduciary duty to maximise profits for your company. If that means people get replaced by machines or the job needs to be sent abroad, then that is what you have to do.

Only if the CEO is a linear thinker as opposed to one who understands complex systems with feedback loops.

suyog, please see the link to the complex systems cartoon in my post above.

What the CEO seems unable to grasp, and apparently most people don't grasp it either, is the simple fact that his shareholders profits depend on sales to the very people whose jobs he is displacing. By sending those jobs abroad to people who make much less money he loses both his local market and the workers abroad can't afford his products either.

If too many CEOs keep doing this, they are for all practical purposes sawing of the branch on which they all sit. The consequence of this practice if widespread enough ends up destroying the very markets upon which their profits depend. How shortsighted is that?!

Granted all of the above assumes that the current system is sustainable in the first place, which if it depends on growth and the continued consumption of finite resources, it obviously is not! But that's a whole n'other can of worms and a separate layer of the onion.



Think of the pool of CEOs as a complex adaptive system - mindless agents optimising their individual environment.

Now, if there were close coupling of the consequences of their actions with the choice of those actions - we would have a dynamically stable system.

However, the consequences in a globalised world are distant in both time and space. They can be in different regions/countries to those inhabited by the CEOs, and the time horizon is a minimum of 5 years, probably more likely decades.

As such the loosely coupled system tends towards massive oscillations - or more probably collapse and breaking apart.

"However, the consequences in a globalised world are distant in both time and space. They can be in different regions/countries to those inhabited by the CEOs, and the time horizon is a minimum of 5 years, probably more likely decades." ~ garyp

Reminds me of my mention of something along those lines...

"Perhaps, paradoxically, this is because the disorienting, distancing, damaging effects of our technologies place us 'there'. Place us where we only realize later, or somewhere else, and often too late, how they inevitably affect our reality."

Maybe we could have some sort of TOD review/nostalgia/elaboration/reference/retrospective/rehash/interpretive/reinterpretive/etc. site, BTW, especially if many of the same things have been written before, and if TOD is going to be archived and accessible online. A kind of companion booklet for TOD.

Call it something like, 'What Happened In Vegas?' or 'reDrum', perhaps, or 'The Oil Drum Companion'.

You are considering it as technologically based; it's not. The basis in the systems of society. Arguably the slave trade was an example of decoupled systems where the correcting feedback was disconnected in time and space from the CEOs - only without immediate technology it took many decades to centuries for the circle to be closed.

If anything technology allows faster feedback. The problem is it's still slower than the rate at which said CEOs can collect ill-gotten gains and scarper.

Easiest route to fixing things is to fix those feedback loops. The right tweak can change the world (it's probably the only possible hope of addressing peak oil or climate change). The trick is sliding it past the corruption.

I have this image in my head of wildly oscillating CEOs >;-)

CEOs are among the leaders of the community. Leaders have a responsibility towards the health of the community. It's not written down in the legal tomes, but it has been so since time immemorial.

Noblesse oblige is the term that best sums it up.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy for them to say they must maximize profits and shrug off the consequences of their actions.

Some sort of public-spiritedness should be a requirement for senior leadership, plus enough gumption to stand up to investors who want to squeeze the last penny of profit.

Initially the industrialization process seemed to work pretty well - using cheap and abundant fossil fuel energy to replace human labor, and to concentrate production by driving independent humans out of business. A few individuals could corner the production and get very wealthy at the expense of the former producers. This lead to social conflict and gross financial mismanagement that almost brought the systems down. Eventually, since there was so much new wealth from fossil fuel energy, an agreement was reached to share enough of it to create a large middle class buffer.

Once the price of energy got high enough, combined with the need to service the previous debts run up (since it never really paid its way), industrialization simply did not provide enough return for the ownership class. There were two responses to that: One was to abandon most automation and replace it with cheap foreign labor (industrialization in reverse), and the other was to go all-in and try to automate totally. Neither can succeed, and industrialization will fail - since there are few who can make things by hand, and much of the products in our world cannot be made that way, then many of the things we depend on will become unavailable.

Neither can succeed,

Robots take less time from one end of the assembly line to installation to become productive VS the human's consumption for 10+ years to productivity.

Robots take less captured photons to be productive. How many robots can be productive from the same acres of land instead of growing food are instead covered in PV panels?

Don't count out the robots and the robots ability to put you out of a job just yet.

Don't count out the robots and the robots ability to put you out of a job just yet.

Perhaps after the singularity when they become fully sentient consumers and all acquire credit cards...
BTW, do you think silicon, as opposed to carbon based life forms, will be any smarter than yeast?

Well, we have hybrid carbon/silicone life forms, and they don't seem any smarter.....

High access to knowledge, no wisdom to use it.