Drumbeat: July 22, 2013

Wall Street Commodity Trading in Jeopardy Amid Fed Review

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among lenders whose commodity-trading is in jeopardy as the Federal Reserve reconsiders letting banks ship oil and store metal.

The central bank, ahead of a Senate subcommittee hearing on the issue tomorrow, says it’s reviewing a decade-old ruling to let deposit-taking banks trade physical commodities. A reversal would be the Fed’s biggest exclusion of banks from a market since Congress lifted the Depression-era law against them joining with securities firms in 1999.

WTI Crude Gains a Fourth Day as Funds Boost Bullish Bets

West Texas Intermediate rose for a fourth day after hedge funds increased bullish bets on the U.S. benchmark crude amid declining stockpiles.

Futures climbed as much as 0.6 percent in New York after capping a fourth weekly advance. WTI surpassed Brent by as much as 3 cents in intraday trading on July 19 as pipeline and rail shipments helped clear a U.S. supply bottleneck. Crude supplies have dropped by 27.1 million barrels in the three weeks ended July 12, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Rising China domestic oil output hurts import demand

Launceston, Australia: One of the clouds hanging over the global oil demand outlook is what’s happening to Chinese consumption, with crude imports falling in the first half of 2013.

The 1.4 per cent drop in imports contrasts with modest growth in implied oil demand. Such differences are often ascribed to changes in commercial inventories, which are difficult to assess accurately given China doesn’t report stockpile levels.

However, another factor has come to the fore, with domestic oil production rising a fairly strong 4.3 pe rcent over the first six months of the year from the same period in 2012.

Hedge Funds Bolster Brent Crude Net-Longs to One-Month High

Hedge funds and other money managers raised bullish bets on Brent crude to their highest level in a month, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.

Speculative bets that prices will rise, in futures and options combined, outnumbered short positions by 181,400 lots in the week ended July 16, the London-based exchange said today in its weekly Commitments of Traders report. The increase of 4,412 contracts, or 2.5 percent, is the third consecutive weekly gain and brings net-longs to their highest level since June 18.

OPEC must cut crude output to prevent sharp price drop in coming months: Kuwait bank

Kuwait City (Platts) - OPEC would need to cut production sometime in the second half of 2013 or early 2014 to stave off "a large drop in prices," Kuwait's leading bank said in a report over the weekend.

In its latest economic bulletin, released late Sunday, the National Bank of Kuwait laid out three price scenarios for the remainder of 2013, each of which could result in OPEC cutting production "to prevent prices from falling too far below the organization's unofficial $100/barrel target level." But the bank did not estimate how much output OPEC would have to cut or how much global crude oil prices would fall if it failed to act.

Analysis: As WTI and Brent reunite, Gulf of Mexico faces squeeze, not glut

(Reuters) - Even after a surprisingly vigorous surge in U.S. crude oil prices finally eliminated a three-year discount versus global benchmark Brent, some cash markets are sending a curious signal: refiners are ready to pay even more.

Keppel Seeks New Non-Rig Orders for Brazil Yards

Keppel Corp., the world’s largest oil-rig maker, will focus on building more offshore production and support vessels in Brazil as competition from China cuts prices for its main product.

West Africa Pirates Seen Threatening Oil and Shipping

West African pirates will threaten the region’s oil and shipping industries for years as the measures used to curb attacks in the Indian Ocean aren’t able to help, according to a provider of armed guards for vessels.

While international navies and private security are repelling attacks off the Somali coast, guards can’t carry weapons into ports in West Africa, said Barry Roche, chief executive officer of Protection Group International, the parent company of the largest security service in the Indian Ocean with only an advisory role in West Africa. Attacks are more violent because the West African pirates have machine guns and focus on stealing cargoes instead of taking hostages, he said.

Ahmadinejad’s Iraq visit pays off: Iran strikes largest gas deal to date

TEHRAN- Iran has finalised a major contract to export gas to neighbouring Iraq, worth 3.7 billion dollars a year, local media on Monday quoted a deputy oil minister as saying.

It was unclear how the transaction would be conducted as Iran's access to the global banking system is targeted by international sanctions over its nuclear ambitions.

Halliburton 2Q profit off 8%; tops expectations

HOUSTON (AP) — Halliburton's second-quarter profit dropped 8%, its energy operations hurt by a glut of natural gas. Despite the slide in profit, the Houston company edged out Wall Street expectations and shares edged higher in premarket trading.

Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil mull joint exploration projects with Rusgeology

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's key hydrocarbon producers, Rosneft, Gazprom and Lukoil, are in talks with state-owned exploration company Rusgeology over joint domestic exploration projects, a spokeswoman for Rusgeology said Monday.

Sabic Looks at U.S. Investments as Europe Slowdown Hurts Sales

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker by market value, is studying investment opportunities in the U.S. as the economic slowdown in Europe and China hurt its second-quarter sales.

Asymmetric oil: Fuel for conflict

Oil has often been linked to interstate wars. This column argues that asymmetries in endowments of natural resources are important determinants of territorial conflict. When one country has oil near its border with an oil-less country, the probability of conflict is between three and four times as large as when neither country has oil. In contrast, when the oil is very far from the border, the probability of conflict is not significantly higher than between countries with no oil.

Peak Oil Deferred

So in a sense, attributing Peak Oil to Hubbert makes Hubbert somewhat a historical victim as Hubbert was mainly saying that the conventional oil role in the energy picture would peak in 2000 not that fossil fuel use would decline after 2000 or that the planet would run out of energy.

But of course Hubbert was wrong in a multitude of ways.

Seven hurt in Pemex pipe blast in Mexico

TOLUCA, MEXICO – A pipeline explosion Sunday that injured seven people and sent flames and smoke shooting high into the air in central Mexico was caused by illegal tapping, Mexico’s state-owned oil company said.

Keystone XL risk worries U.S. oil sands investors

U.S. investors cut stakes in oil- sands stocks, including Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc., as delays to the Keystone XL project and the lack of pipeline capacity depressed Canadian crude prices.

In Hermosa Beach, a sheen of divisiveness over oil's possible return

After more than 80 years, the South Bay town braces for the possible return of oil drilling. An election will decide the matter.

Radioactive water leaked into sea at Fukushima

TOKYO (AFP) – The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Monday admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater has leaked out to sea, fuelling fears of ocean contamination.

India: MPs ask Centre to explore wind energy potential in the country

Cutting across party lines, a network of parliamentarians working to promote renewable energy has asked the central government to take immediate measures for the development of wind energy in the country.

Deforestation in Africa's Congo Basin rainforest slows

Tree loss in one of the world's largest rainforests has slowed, a study suggests.

Satellite images of Africa's Congo Basin reveal that deforestation has fallen by about a third since 2000.

Researchers believe this is partly because of a focus on mining and oil rather than commercial agriculture, where swathes of forest are cleared.

New Poll: Majority Supports Obama Climate Action Plan

CHICAGO - It's been almost a month since President Obama declared that he's not waiting for Congress to do something about climate change. He is using his executive powers to curb the pollution that contributes to it, and Americans seem to be glad that he's doing it. When pollsters told voters about all its elements, 61 percent said they support the president's Climate Action Plan.

According to Howard Learner, founder and president of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, he expects support to grow even stronger.

Carbon emissions trading gains momentum in China, despite challenges

GUIYANG (Xinhua) - Chinese government officials, environment and energy experts, and entrepreneurs have vowed to join hands in accelerating the process of building a nationwide carbon emissions trading market.

Consumers to pay ‘dirty’ coal power subsidies for years

Britain’s dirtiest coal power stations are to be allowed to bid for hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of subsidies that could allow them to stay open well into the 2020s. Senior ministers are so worried about the possibility that the UK could suffer electricity blackouts over the next few years they have agreed to let Britain’s coal stations bid for “capacity payment” handouts – paid for through people’s energy bills – which could allow them to upgrade their facilities. If successful, the money would help make coal generation economic well into the 2020s – but significantly reduce the UK’s ability to cut its carbon emissions.

Germany went ‘rogue’ to freeze green cars law, say diplomats

Diplomats from several EU states have accused Germany of using threats, intimidation and blackmail to sideline green cars legislation in an unprecedented display of hubris within the Brussels’ corridors of power.

Rich Countries Not Living Up to Their Climate Change Promises

At the 2010 climate conference in Cancún the industrialized countries promised to support developing countries with new and additional funds in their climate-friendly development. The situation after two and a half years is sobering: it is a case of much old wine in new skins. Switzerland too comes up short on innovative approaches to finding new funding sources.

Wildfires projected to get more common, harder to control

Devastating wildfires the likes of which razed Slave Lake in 2011 will become more common and tougher to control, according to new research from the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences.

Vulnerable Maryland weighs threat of sea-level rise

It was scary enough that a team of experts on sea-level rise projected that Maryland’s coastal waters could rise to six feet in this century. But to hammer home the findings of a new report, they included a link to a Web tool that allows readers to make like a god, sliding a scale over pictures of state landmarks until a creeping tide washes them away.

Maryland, with 3,100 miles of tidal shore along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, is one of several states, including Virginia, Delaware, Louisiana and Florida, most vulnerable to sea-level rise pushed in part by global warming that has caused glaciers to melt and oceans to expand.

In rapidly changing Arctic, US is playing catch-up

At a meeting in Washington last week, top US Arctic officials at the Coast Guard, Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other agencies acknowledged that the US lags behind other nations in dealing with the rapidly changing Arctic environment. The agencies are facing serious deficiencies in the ability to map the sea floor and develop enforceable environmental policies, as well as construct onshore infrastructure that would be used for search and rescue and oil recovery operations. Currently, not a single Navy surface ship is even capable of navigating the ice-covered waters.

Re: Consumers to pay ‘dirty’ coal power subsidies for years

Coal moves ever closer to death's door, at least locally, now that the Maritime Link has been officially approved.

N.S. utility approves $1.52B deal for Muskrat Falls link
N.L. to N.S. subsea cable Maritime Link approved with conditions

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has approved a $1.52-billion deal with conditions for the Maritime Link, a subsea cable designed to transport power from the Muskrat Falls project to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, Emera, is a minority partner in the Muskrat Falls project and is responsible for the Maritime Link, which may see as much as 40 per cent of the electricity from the 824-megawatt project moved to Cape Breton by subsea cables.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2013/07/21/ns-maritime-l...

One TWh a year at a fixed cost for thirty-five years, with the option to purchase an additional TWh at market prices.



How would 65 feet impact coastal Florida? New York?

The real problem is that no one knows just how long it will take. We are already at comparable CO2 levels (400ppm) to the last time sea levels were there.


The article concludes:

"And what we're seeing in other parts of Antarctica and Greenland today tells us that the transitions can be very abrupt by geologic standards," Scambos said. "They are mercifully more manageable by human standards, at least if we decide to start managing."

No doubt he was referring to research such as this, from June 20.



You can get a rough idea what it would be for New York here:


Set the pulldown for 20meters, and you should be pretty close. You can drag the map around and see what Florida looks like as well - the "New York" thing just gives a starting point for the map.

Nearly the entire state of Delaware is gone if you look at the map. South Florida is gone as well. It gets pretty grim no matter what low-lying area you pick. I guess I would be interested in seeing how far underwater these places would be.

NOLA is going to need bigger pumps :-0

Well we have an alternative: The Netherlands and its dikes.

(although I was reading Maryland would have a problem because of porous limestone.)

Porosity may indeed be good/bad in both directions.

How about the sedimentary rocks in USA, have it been hot before? Or have the land risen? Or have they formed above sea level?

Dikes to hold back 20M is much much tougher than dikes to hold back 2M. And the consequences of a breech are much much much worse.

The typical dykes in Frisia are made for 8 meter floods, many are higher because they slowly sink into the swampy ground. 20 metre is tough but may be cheaper than economic losses due to frequent floods or large scale relocation of US east coast cities.

Maybe it's just me? I tend to think the taxpayers need to stop insuring the fools that build in a flood zone. You would expect the genius underwriters for big insurance companies would quit insuring beachfront property too. That would certainly put a stop to it.

The new republican North Carolina government has a full-court press going on to keep coastal development booming; you know, the party that tells me they don't want me to pay for other peoples' mistakes.

That shouldn't exactly come as a big surprise to anyone here. Remember this?

The North Carolina House of Representatives voted today to revise controversial legislation that would have barred state planning officials from considering the possibility that a changing climate might accelerate sea level rise. Climate scientists who had been highly critical of the former proposal gave a lukewarm reception to the changes, noting the bill still places a 4-year moratorium on the ability of planners to draw on the most up-to-date science.

"This version is better than the original Senate version," says climate researcher Robert Jackson of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "It's still bad policy though because it requires the state to bury its head in the sand for 4 more years."

Sounds like they are going to literally be burying their heads in beach sand... What a bunch of shortsighted nimwits!

They're also attacking public education; eliminating $110 million for teachers aids, eliminating tenures, freezing raises, eliminating class size limits for primary education, and diverting tax dollars to private schools. The state currently has a slight budget surplus, so I'll let others decide what their agenda is. Amen.

Another, more OT, bill from this year's General Assembly:

(Update 7/2/13): The Senate has tentatively approved HB 94, which would override the ability of the Mining and Energy Commission to write rules for fracking chemicals. In particular, it would prohibit the commission from writing rules that require full disclosure of those chemicals. That bill must still be heard by the state House.

(Update 7/19/13): Negotiators for the state House and Senate have reached an agreement on a bill, SB 76, that tweaks the state's mining and energy law. The final bill does not "fast track" the fracking process as earlier bills did, but allow the Mining and Energy Commission to develop fracking rules before permits are issued. However, another bill, HB 74, would restrict public notice of the chemicals used in fracking procedures.

No sense in bothering folks with details, eh?

Many US east coast cities ar built on porus substrates, especially in Florida. Seawater will simply push it's way under dikes and seawalls. Freshwater aquifers will also become salinated, and drainage is a problem requiring constant pumping. I suggest you read "Goodby Miami" at rollingstone.com.

Also, another sea-level rise study …

Sea level rise: New iceberg theory points to areas at risk of rapid disintegration

In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the University of Michigan.

"If this starts to happen and we're right, we might be closer to the higher end of sea level rise estimates for the next 100 years," said Jeremy Bassis, assistant professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences at the U-M College of Engineering, and first author of a paper on the new model published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

"Essentially, everything is driven by gravity," Bassis said. "We identified a critical threshold of one kilometer where it seems like everything should break up. You can think of it in terms of a kid building a tower. The taller the tower is, the more unstable it gets."

... A third feature is also required for the most dramatic ice collapses to occur. Icebergs can't float away and make room for more icebergs to break off the main sheet unless the system has access to open water. So areas that border deep, unobstructed ocean rather than fjords or other waterways are at greater risk of rapid ice loss. The researchers point to the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers in Antarctica and the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, which is already retreating rapidly, as places vulnerable to "catastrophic disintegration" because they have all three components.

"The ice in those places gets thicker as you go back. If our threshold is right, then if these places start to retreat as you expose the thicker calving font, they're susceptible to catastrophic breakup," Bassis said.

This website shows what 1-10ft would do to Miami.


Re the article above on Germany using threats to stop the deal on green cars, that certainly was a surprise when it happened, the Irish government, as rotating EU President, had actually claimed majority agreement on this proposal only days before and were claiming it as one of their achievements.

It seems the manufacturers want a slice of the subsidy pie, the sooner this upcoming German election is over the better, as all kinds of things are in hibernation in Europe until it happens.

More and more it seems that in the modern world, politics as we currently know it is hindering rather helping civilisation.

(Not sure if this has already been posted)

Global Energy Systems Conference 2013 (globalenergysystemsconference)

Videos are now available
The format is very nicely done with presentation slides that sync with the video

Nice format indeed, this conference was a one off or plans to have it recurring ?

The program of it would be perfect as a charter for a "TOD sequel" I find.

Thanks for notice; also others for posting the link. That may have been the most important conference held on the planet this decade, and there was zero coverage in the MSN. Sad commentary on priorities.


Euan: "It is worth noting that there are no industry or government sponsors. This is not for want of trying."

Heading Out comments on the burning of coal by UK electrical utilities:

...Which brings us to the new “news” out of the UK. The argument that a nation’s government must, in the end, deal more for the benefit of its voters, than to its political views has been one of the underlying cynical views I have held for the energy future for a long time. Telling a nation that they need to do something “for the good of their grandchildren”, does not go very far when oil prices are rising and they have a cheaper, indigenous source of energy – which is, quite frequently coal - that will allow them to feed themselves, and their children, and thereby provide a path to the generation of said grandchildren.


Six Ways 'Shrinking' Cities Try To Survive

Detroit's bankruptcy can in part be traced to the loss of more than a million residents. So how have other "shrinking" US cities coped?

- 1. Demolish derelict buildings...
- 2. ...and sell the land for $25
- 3. Accept that smaller can be better
- 4. Build institutions
- 5. Don't be trapped by history
- 6. Entice the right jobs

These insights may come in handy for 'shrinkage' due to causes other than economic (e.g pandemic, climate change migration, etc).

Driverless tractors till German high-tech farm

... Impervious to fatigue and indifferent to poor visibility, they reduce distances travelled by each vehicle, saving their owner fuel costs and improving crop yields.

"It offers enormous productivity gains and allows for a reduction of resource use at a time of growing environmental regulatory demands," said Oliver Neumann, spokesman for agricultural equipment giant John Deere.

More automation could mean fewer jobs in mining communities

Increased remote-operation of mine sites from city-based control centres could lead to fewer jobs and less economic activity in mining regions, a new report has found.

The report, from The University of Queensland's Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM), found that the increasing automation of mining tasks – such as driverless trains and haul trucks - can provide safety and efficiency, but also is likely to result in the loss of on-site jobs.

The report comes just months after BHP Billiton opened an automation centre, allowing employees to operate its Pilbara mines from Perth. Rio Tinto is already operating a similar centre for its iron ore operations.

... What to do with all those 'little people'?

Driverles tractor indeed.

How about a real driverless tractor. Doesn't even have a cab or a place for a rider.


Tracked, diesel electric propulsion, off the shelf parts, 2 engines-run both only when necessary.

Thanks for linking this post and stay tuned.
I am meeting with the inventor this weekend in person and will be making an update on how his project is going.

The other model to go with is small and all electric.

Small (1.5 HP / 15 amp 110 or 5 hp/20 amp 220) allows far cheaper electric tethers and allows for scaling/downtime via more units.

Take excess wind/PV and have bots toil and "fix" the electric power as food. Thus the smaller food farms can produce higher value organic food for market.

The robots can ride lasers and use metal spikes with RFID tags as row markers.

The robots can ride lasers and use metal spikes with RFID tags as row markers.

Enhanced GPS using systems like Real Time Kinematic already exist and are being used as we speak.

In addition to the satellites, there are ground level transmitters spaced a few miles apart. Farmers can precisely locate field corners, then lay out row crops on a computer and autopilots steer the tractor or sprayer.

The systems are so precise that tilt between the antenna the and ground is measured and corrected for.

Indeed, Seraph... what to do?

...as driverless tractors, manufactured by robots in automated factories devoid of human labor (run by computers with a very few middle management people as supervisors), function in place of farmers to provide produce for people whose ability to purchase is derived from government largess, and paid for by taxes on the very few who still have earnings, and who are absolutely livid that they should have to pay such, and are pushing very hard for legislation limiting those taxes. And wondering why there is a deficit.

Why don't "those 'little people'" go out and get a job? Lazy bums! That's what they are! Lazy!!



Just like we have tales of women who disguised there bodies to join all male military units, I can imagine people disguising themselves as a robot in order to get hired!

These clever ones will get a real shock when someone looks for the refueling or charging hatch and plugs something into them.

I wonder how they'll get themselves into the "robot shipment container" without being noticed?

Sometime ago there was a big debate in AI about whether we can ever develop AI that will compete with humans. The proponents were saying that it's only a few decades away and the detractors were saying that it's impossible, then there was a third group which said that the topic is irrelevant because a terminator like scenario is not necessary, all you need is specific intelligence for specific tasks like an AI for driving a tractor or an AI for flying a plane and an AI for digging a hole and a majority of human labor will be rendered useless. Looks like the third group was right.

Back in the day when I was majoring in CS/AI (before the mighty energy/information complex snatched me up), the third concept was refered to as 'expert systems'. One of my professors was an AI developer for Lockheed and she posited that we could never develop AI on our own; that it must evolve within systems we construct and provide. I still have my copy of Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind", which she built a course around. From Wikipedia:

In a step-by-step process, Minsky constructs a model of human intelligence which is built up from the interactions of simple parts called agents, which are themselves mindless. He describes the postulated interactions as constituting a "society of mind", hence the title...

A core tenet of Minsky's philosophy is that "minds are what brains do". The society of mind theory views the human mind and any other naturally evolved cognitive systems as a vast society of individually simple processes known as agents. These processes are the fundamental thinking entities from which minds are built, and together produce the many abilities we attribute to minds. The great power in viewing a mind as a society of agents, as opposed to the consequence of some basic principle or some simple formal system, is that different agents can be based on different types of processes with different purposes, ways of representing knowledge, and methods for producing results.

This idea is perhaps best summarized by the following quote:

What magical trick makes us intelligent? The trick is that there is no trick. The power of intelligence stems from our vast diversity, not from any single, perfect principle. – Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind, p. 308

There was a lot of philosophy woven into the program, designed to try and define what intelligence is.

This concept, in part, inspired the movie War Games; WOPR had to learn that nuclear war was futile on its own by running and evaluating millions of scenarios.

One fear that my professor had was that there would be a lag time between the evolution of an electronic mind and its development of self-limiting agents such as compassion, morality, etc.; if they developed the concept of choice, then artificially implanted agents like Asimov's three laws may be moot. This was before the 'Terminator' movies and War Games were released. WOPR would have said "so what, lets play anyway; see what happens"...

I too did a bit of AI work, only it wasn't in a well structured course environment. My boss was a university prof who went out on his own to start a business. He quit the college environment because he had a disagreement with the other prof, who wanted to stress the "natural language" side of the research work. Anyway, we worked on a building a system in LISP to do fault detection in real time. His approach may not have been the best, when applied to real world non-linear systems. My job was to build a model of a non-linear system, the thermal control system for the ISS, which I was able to do. We were just beginning to get it to work when the Challenger accident put the NASA world on hold. I haven't found a full time job since, perhaps because I was never really a CS person, but a mechanical engineer, and my skill set faded while jobs in the US manufacturing industry dwindled.

As for AI style robots taking over, well, think of all the "AI" buried within the Windows operating system. Now days, there's more computing power in a cell phone than was available to build satellites 25 years ago and they are all connected together via wireless links. We're also bombarded with malware and virus programs, which may one day crash "the system". If that were to happen, what will the average man or woman on-the-street, who has become totally dependent on that portable device, do to solve life's daily problems?

E. Swanson

They'll be like Hugh, formerly Third of Five, after being disconnected from the Borg Collective.


See this

The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations

I guess that's one way of looking at it.

Computer smart as a 4-year-old

The UIC team put ConceptNet 4, an artificial intelligence system developed at M.I.T., through the verbal portions of the Weschsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Test, a standard IQ assessment for young children.

They found ConceptNet 4 has the average IQ of a young child. But unlike most children, the machine's scores were very uneven across different portions of the test.

"If a child had scores that varied this much, it might be a symptom that something was wrong," said Robert Sloan, professor and head of computer science at UIC, and lead author on the study.

Sloan said ConceptNet 4 did very well on a test of vocabulary and on a test of its ability to recognize similarities. "But ConceptNet 4 did dramatically worse than average on comprehension—the 'why' questions," he said.

"If a child had scores that varied this much, it might be a symptom that something was wrong,"

Yes, because it is a computer and the people who criticize IQ tests are right - they have a cultural bias.

A computer works very well at this point w/o having to interact with culture. Eventually they will get culture right too.

Just goes to show how IQ tests are such a flawed parameter. Computers don't have any real world intelligence they can't tell that you can pull a rope but can't push it, a 2 year old child can though.

Climate change: some reasons for our failures

... We know that if we continue to use fossil fuels as our primary energy source, the conditions of life on the earth for our own species and for others will be damaged perhaps beyond repair. And yet, eyes wide shut the nations of the earth are doing very little to avert the impending, entirely foreseeable catastrophe.

There are many reasons why, some obvious, others less so.

In the way it has evolved, the post-war international “system” of nations is entirely unfitted to the kind of broad-ranging international cooperation now required. Nations participate in the international system predominantly to safeguard and advance their self-interest – the so-called "national interest". Only when they think the national interest is served will they form alliances or involve themselves in broader schemes of international cooperation.

How about human nature. The fact that we need to have cars, and build stuff, to make our lives easier and more comfortable. We are evolved to accumulate resources, and to be blindly optimistic about the future. Maybe people need to be told what to do by a 'higher power'. Yet the only higher power is still just people, even if elected by other people to represent their own desires. If people can't change on their own, it's doubtful they will elect people that will force them to change.

Beware of calling our Western Industial Consumerist proclivities "human nature". Surely, there is a vulnerability in that direction. But our 'Western' 'developed' culture is not 'humanity', and does not define 'human nature'. Many cultures have eschewed that path, as have many individuals within those cultures.

The current 'rape the earth and damn the torpedoes' mentality is fairly recent in the scheme of things, and nothing says it is the end all and be all of "human nature".

Please excuse all the quotes, but I think it's good to call attention to certain terms in this way once in a while...

I think sgage has a real point here. Its hard to disentangle human nature and culture. The western -actually international-capitalist culture of necessity has used advertising to influence the culture to favor consumption. We are rapidly losing the earlier cultures, in favor of a roughly global hyper-consumerist one. And the big capitalist money has and will continue to invest in modifying/maintaining that culture.

Drive a car much? Use much FF generated electricity? Got some gizmos you just need to have? Got the whole house at a constant temperature all year? Obviously you have a computer full of toxic materials that will be buried somewhere and forgotten about.

Call it what you will, and blame whoever you like, blame the government, or advertising, or culture. From those that are trying to save the planet somehow by buying an energy efficient clothes dryer, and super-insulated McMansions. We'd all love to be kinder to the planet if it means we don't have to give up any of the perks we currently enjoy. We pretend we are doing something while doing nothing. Self delusion is a very strong evolutionary trait.

Humans follow their nature, there is absolutely nothing new about the rape the earth culture. There is an order of magnitude difference in scale, that's new. Survival of the fittest, it's new that we can afford to keep the weak around.

The maximum power principal is an observed action in nature where species always attempt to consume the maximum amount of energy. You could call that animal nature, but I class humans as animals.

I also question the statement that many cultures have eschewed that path (how many?), while that is technically possible, where are they now? Have they joined the culture of capitalist greed? Or do they continue to eschew out of ignorance?

I think I have identified some pretty obvious charecterisitics of human behaviour, I would be amused to hear some other definitions of human nature, that actually are demonstrated by human behaviour, not just wishful thinking (another facet of human nature).

/rant end

Call it what you will, and blame whoever you like, blame the government, or advertising, or culture. From those that are trying to save the planet somehow by buying an energy efficient clothes dryer, and super-insulated McMansions. We'd all love to be kinder to the planet if it means we don't have to give up any of the perks we currently enjoy. We pretend we are doing something while doing nothing. Self delusion is a very strong evolutionary trait.

Certainly there is a lot of truth in what you say. However when I read those words a very specific group of people comes to mind. No need to mention which group... I personally know people who could live like that but chose not to. These people are actually walking the walk. They understand reality and are not delusional. Is the way they live completely benign towards the planet. Certainly not but they are many orders of magnitude away from the lifestyle you describe and striving hard to get even further away from it.

I'll give you one example. www.moradaviva.com.br

600 watts of PV, a couple of LED lights, rooftop water capture, clothes line instead of dryer, home made composting toilets, permaculture for a significant part of their food production, all in a country where the average person makes less than $5,000.00 a year and everyone has access to at least basic health care.

Maybe you should come down for a visit, a different perspective might do you some good.



Yair . . . FMagyar. I totally understand that concept. The "basic health care" is the biggie, if you have that many things are possible.

A couple of years ago I did a trip to an old gold mining area in the snow country where they had a very good reconstruction of the shacks the miners lived in.

About 12 feet square, shored up with fire-wood on three sides it had a woodstove, table, chair and bunk with boxes of books underneath. There was bags of flour, beans and rice, a bit of canned tucker, a 32.20 Winchester and a couple of flitches of bacon hanging outside under the eaves.

About forty people from a tour bus were shaking their heads at the "deprivation" and terrible conditions the miners suffered . . . they reckoned I was a bit weird when I said I could overwinter there no trouble at all.

It all comes down to a state of mind and expectations.


"It all comes down to a state of mind and expectations."

Which is why 98% of the population is going to go bat$hit crazy when it all comes down.


And this is the only real thing that worries me... To me, it has always been a matter of how the mass will react.
And we know the herd will turn mad.

Adapting as an individual/small engaged community would not be insurmountable, but thriving through widespread unrest, and in the context of breaking complexity combined to global cognitive readjustment , that will be the thing.

Not to mention that trying to educate your fellows while taking action yourself, given constrained intellectual focus of people in a context of constant emergency, would claim a significant amount of dedication.

About forty people from a tour bus were shaking their heads at the "deprivation" and terrible conditions the miners suffered . . . they reckoned I was a bit weird when I said I could overwinter there no trouble at all.

It all comes down to a state of mind and expectations.

Yeah, I can certainly relate, now contrast that with what Smeagle said:

We'd all love to be kinder to the planet if it means we don't have to give up any of the perks we currently enjoy. We pretend we are doing something while doing nothing. Self delusion is a very strong evolutionary trait.

Truth is, it seems that it is he/she that is so stuck in the BAU paradigm that he/she doesn't want to change his or her own expectations and therefore projects that onto everyone else in the whole world by saying nobody want's to give up their perks.

Here's the real kicker it's possible to really enjoy spending time in an environment that people like Smeagle and those 40 people on the tour bus you mentioned, consider such terrible conditions.

I'm not sure it's possible for many, Fred. Everything they are is invested in everything that is. Suicide may be relatively painless.

I was about to add an edit when you responded.

Having access to some basic amenities like a few hundred watts of PV, clean water, sanitation, refrigeration etc... is not the same as living in a McMansion and driving around in an SUV but it also is not quite the same as living in a cave wrapped in animal skin gnawing on bones while sitting around a fire either. I think there may be a happy medium in there somewhere.


I think there can be happiness in all manner of circumstances. It is all about expectations and having the skills to live well in those various circumstances. This is the logic behind adapting ahead of time, because once you need them it is possibly too late. But realistically, these are skills learned over a lifetime and we all carry the baggage of an upbringing in the industrial age.

Still, I read between the lines of many of these comments a hint of the expectation of sudden change. It may well be that someone who used to have a comfortable large house is now out living in a cabin, which would be a step change for sure, but for the broader society these changes will come in fits and starts over a long time. We project ourselves into the stories of the future, but it is unlikely that we, as individuals, will still be around then. Better to start preserving/learning/preparing to help those who will.

Either way on the downslope does anyone think the government appetite will also drop?

Not to mention some of them justifying their existence by claiming places like Smegle's are not up to building codes and are unsafe and bulldozing places like that.

And yet, if it was like many mountain mines, they probably cut down all the trees for a couple of miles around. And dumped toxic mine waste on the ground.

And what would you call human nature in that situation? Clearly you are the aberration?

How could one do all that in 12 square feet? That is 6 feet x 2 feet, the cross-sectional area of a coffin.

Not 12 square feet, 12 feet square. 144 square feet.

Yep humanity sure is a diverse creature. There are also psychopathic murderers, as usual it's futile to attempt to make any kind of broad generalisation here.

I'm not claiming that humans can't behave differently, but it's human nature to want to be rich and have it all, otherwise we would all be living out in the jungle, in a tropical paradise.

Again, you are confusing specific cultures with human nature.

You have conflated a bunch of other ideas, too, into some caricature of "human nature".

As far as cultures enthusiastically "joining" the culture of capitalist greed, you don't know what you are talking about. Cultures have historically been compelled to serve capitalist greed, rather than "join". How many cultures eschewed "joining"? The great majority of Native American cultures, for a start. Being conquered is not "joining".

But conquering and enslaving / annhilating is most certainly a part of human nature. At least if history is any guide. It's not always done, but it is certainly common enough to be unremarkable.

History is only the last 10,000 years or so. Conquering/enslaving come with agriculture/"civilization". That does not define human nature.

Agreed. Below, with emphasis added, is just one of many antidotes to the over-simplified, if not outright misrepresented, statements and assumptions about human nature.

I always cringe when anyone writes that the human mind is, or is capable of, just one thing, be it cooperative or competitive, dominating or partnering, gentle or harsh, genuinely empathetic or always faking it. How can a complex system, with 10^14 neuronal connections be just one thing? Throw in epigenetics, context-based gene expression, emergent properties of complex system and such simple descriptions say more about the writer's mind than the human mind.

Milbrath, Lester W. 1989. “Transforming the Dominator Society.” In Envisioning a Sustainable Society: Learning Our Way Out, 39-57. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Introduction, From The Localization Reader: Adapting to the Coming Downshift.

Political scientist Lester Milbrath directs our attention to the drivers of localization ... by showing how dominator societies have organizational and behavioral norms that create conditions for societal collapse. He brings to light modern, often hidden presumptions about the best way for maintaining social order. But he does more than critique. He also presents the partnership society, a hopeful and positive alternative to dominator societies, and suggests that such societies are plausible because they once existed, often for long periods of time.

Milbrath concludes with a response to those who say that it is useless trying to repair the world because human behavior is such that good works are always undone. Localizers will find his talking points useful when they encounter opponents who believe humans are fundamentally flawed, unable to escape their unreasonable, selfish, hypercompetitive and warlike selves. Most heartening in Milbrath’s argument is the claim that today’s problems are not so large, nor the current social and political systems so powerful, that ordinary people are helpless to do good.

The mind, and thus human nature, is adaptive; evolved to thrive. If conservation behavior is called for to thrive, human nature will adapt. If energy affluence is available (as it once was), then human nature will thrive through consumption.

Did I mention blind optimism?

It's not clear that conquering and enslaving only came up 10,000 years ago. Which is certainly long enough for some facets of human nature to become apparent.

With humans what you see is what you get.

Conquering and enslaving requires certain power structures to be in place and access to a large resource surplus. Neither have existed before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago.

Exactly. You need store-able wealth. Which is grain. Beads, gold, shells, and feather capes are all very well in good times, but no one is going to take them for food in bad times - when you really need your "investment."

For most of human history, our "bank" was the goodwill of our neighbors. That's what you invested in.

That's also why we need so much to be part of a group - to the point that we'll do things that are not in our best interests just to be part of the gang.

Well, locally anyhow, goodwill of neighbors is still an investment opportunity, highly profitable hence highly invested.

And I can't believe this place is much different from any other similar places, of which there are many. That's why I get a little annoyed by the repeated theme here that everybody is out for themselves alone--not most of the ones I know, and in my opinion, not anybody with any foresight.

Even sociopaths, of whom I have unfortunately had experience in my business-related former life, while in fact utterly self-concerned, try to give the appearance of being otherwise, and, of course, can be highly skilled at this sham.

And to counter that, there are lots of grandmas who seem not to ever have had a selfish thought - mine was that way, and she kept the family going when it greatly needed such a person. There's a real survival force- a good grandma.

Humans were using tools and weapons as some kind of display of wealth, at least 400,000 years ago.
They (heidelbergensis) make these handaxes that to our eyes look perfectly serviceable. And yet, they've tossed them away. There's a lot of making things but not actually using them," says Professor Clive Gamble of the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton, England.

Gamble cites wooden spears found preserved in a bog at Schöningen, Germany, and are associated with horse bones. Dated to 400,000 years ago, the spears provide the first hard evidence of human hunting and are weighted at the ends to be thrown like a javelin.

"I just wonder whether the Schöningen spears were ever used. Yes, there are horses at the site, but are the tips of the spears damaged? You'd think spears like that would break after they'd been jammed in a few horses," muses Gamble. For heidelbergensis, tools and hunting weapons may have played an important role in social display, one that we don't yet fully understand and may even border on ritual.

"They may have been more interested in making things as a demonstration of who they were and what was important to them. Killing horses was probably something they did once a week," Gamble remarks

Humans were using tools and weapons as some kind of display of wealth, at least 400,000 years ago.

Maybe. We don't have any way of knowing for sure what they were using them for.

They (heidelbergensis) make these handaxes that to our eyes look perfectly serviceable. And yet, they've tossed them away.

There's a theory that the so-called handaxes are what's left when you make flake tools. That is, they're garbage - meant to be thrown away.

In any case, no one is saying foraging societies are never violent. Just that they aren't as violent as societies that have settled down and have some stake in the land. Yes, there's social display and violence among hunter-gatherers. But it's between individuals, not between the complex societies required to conquer and enslave others.

I've kind of gotten off track from my original post, which was baisicly to say that it's unrealistic to expect government policy to go against human nature, and the true cause of our own preidicament is human nature.

Conquering and enslaving has been a pretty obvious character trait of Humans for the last 10,000 years, and the conquering seems to have started at the very latest with the Neanderthals. There is no real evidence for or against other then that.

With humans what you see is what you get. It probably sounds a little fatalistic, or deterministic, but the subconscious has been around far longer then the 'conscious' and is still pretty much in control. We are still animals, and all animals have basic instincts that drive them. It seems acceptable for animals to have basic instincts, yet somehow as people we think we are so different to that, and everything bad we do can be blamed on something called culture, or the government etc. etc. Anything really, just to deny that we are responsible, and incapable of changing.

We've had a good 40 years of warnings about climate change and pollution, incapable of change. Even longer for peak oil, still just the same old denial, technology will save us, and blind hope that we will change as soon as X happens. It's actually pointless me even pointing this out, but it passes the time.

With humans what you see is what you get.

Perhaps...but I think most people do not see a representative example of humans. Either because we are not exposed to other cultures, or because we see only what we expect to see. We tend to assume everyone is like us. While there is certainly a core human nature, it is more versatile than most of us realize.

Animals have instincts that drive them, yes, and we are animals. But it's not all nature red in tooth and claw. E.O. Wilson's latest book is about group selection: the idea that altruism may have evolved because it benefits the group, not the individual.

You may be right, but I still have yet to hear a better theory explaining why we are absolutely stuffing up our own habitat, depleting our energy resources at a rate that guarantees collapse, all the while unable to change our own behaviour. Ask an American to walk instead of driving, and they will look at you like you're loony. Ask an Indian to walk instead of buying a car, and they will yell at you, that it's their turn to own a car, everyone else has stuffed the environment, not them, everyone else should stop first.

I agree that altruism is part of human nature, how else could you explain the 'good feeling' you get from helping someone. We are not all bad, and pretty great at a lot of things, it just happens to be that the things we are bad at, are causing a global catastrophe.

Ask an American to walk instead of driving, and they will look at you like you're loony. Ask an Indian to walk instead of buying a car, and they will yell at you, that it's their turn to own a car, everyone else has stuffed the environment, not them, everyone else should stop first.

I think it depends on how you ask them.

We are "stuffing up" our environment in order to fit in with our groups. It's that dynamic we have to keep in mind if we hope to change things.

You may be right, but I still have yet to hear a better theory explaining why we are absolutely stuffing up our own habitat, depleting our energy resources at a rate that guarantees collapse, all the while unable to change our own behaviour. Ask an American to walk instead of driving, and they will look at you like you're loony. Ask an Indian to walk instead of buying a car, and they will yell at you, that it's their turn to own a car, everyone else has stuffed the environment, not them, everyone else should stop first.

What you are describing is not human nature! It is an aberration, a disease! This is the consequence of a very recent combination of factors, 1) access to cheap easily available fossil fuels, 2) the deliberate global manipulation of the masses through the propagation of consumerist memes for the benefit of a very small minority of sociopaths. See: Deconstructing Edward Bernays' 'Propaganda'.

Here's a better example of what human nature and even human wisdom can be like in a more natural habitat.

The Achuar: Ancient People of Ecuador
Smiling Achuar Community

The Achuar are a group of indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, currently numbering around 6,000. Their ancestral lands – nearly 2 million acres in all – straddle the modern borders of Ecuador and Peru, a remote area that has allowed them to preserve their way of life with little outside influence or colonization...

...Achuar Wisdom

The Achuar have lived in and with the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years, and their wisdom represents an invaluable resource for organizations and people concerned with the loss of this irreplaceable treasure.

As custodians of the rainforest, the Achuar maintain a rich culture, including systems of economic and social organization based on the intricate natural rhythms of their environment...

- See more at: http://www.pachamama.org/achuar#sthash.hOiDPAd0.dpuf

I see cultures such as those of the Achuar in a light similar to finding and maintaining wild strains of maize in order to have robust genetic diversity available for our agricultural crops. We need these wild and untamed cultures with their memetic diversity to be able to infuse some of those memes into our dangerously diseased and aberrant culture.

Perhaps OT in the minds of some but not to me...

We are about to lose one more of our cousins, may their species RIP!

The rarest lemur listed is the northern sportive lemur, with only 19 individuals left in the wild. ... “In particular the lemurs are now one of the world's most endangered groups of mammals, ...

Look deeply into it's eyes in this photo: http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Lemurs.jpg

I thought altruism was learned, not an innate instinct.

Small children are inherently selfish. They have to be taught not to be.

I'm sure in the early days of humanity, the various competing bands of humans experimented with many different types of organization and codes of ethics.

It might be as simple a reason as the fact that people preferred living in the "nicer", more altruistic, groups, which attracted more members, and eventually the altruistic groups dominated the others through sheer weight of numbers.

(Where is Sparta today? A historical footnote. The non-altruists did not survive and prosper for long.)

Altruism has turned out to be a winning strategy. The winners have passed on what they learned.

Maybe, but you cannot be altruistic in isolation, and it maybe learned at a very young age. My two children are adopted, removed from their negligent and abusive parents at ages 1 year and 2 weeks respectively.
The younger one has always shared readily, and is very popular with friends and parents alike, but she learned early that sharing usually resulted in rapid reciprocation, and full expects it, with tantrums if it doesn't happen. The older one is much more reserved, and has always shared reluctantly, and it is only now that she is 10 and has a more developed outlook on life that she will offer without prompting.

I thought altruism was learned, not an innate instinct.

How can that be true, when even creatures like ants and bees are altruistic?

It's not solely a human characteristic.

DNA analysis is revealing that a lot of what we thought we knew about altruism was wrong. For example, many, many species of animals practice adoption - caring for young animals that are not their own offspring. Adoption is something that should be quickly weeded out, since it not only benefits someone else's genes, it takes resources from your own progeny. It had been assumed that adoption exists because there was a high degree of relatedness between the adopters and adoptees - kin selection.

But the DNA has shown that this is not true. The adoptees - among rats, mice, sea worms, sea lions, skunks, llamas, etc. - are not related to their adopters, and are not more likely to be adopted by closely related animals. (Curiously, primates and carnivores are especially prone to adoption.)

Small children are inherently selfish. They have to be taught not to be.

I think this is wrong. Children are both inherently selfish and inherently altruistic.


Children are both... So too the rest of us. Someone would have to be blind not to see that we each have inherited inclinations for both behaviors. Having multiple latent tendencies is adaptive. Volunteer in an early childhood center for a few months and you can see both tendencies in their purest forms.

A key question, then, is what are the conditions that result in a tipping point - a preference for one behavior over the other. Material affluence (cheap energy and other forms or ease) would seem to have sanctioned the self over the group.

Then there's the development of a norm (or perhaps a meme?) saying that extreme self-interest is all that we are capable of (discussed by Miller, D. T. (1999) The norm of self-interest. American Psychologist. 54: 1053-1060). The norm/meme then narrows both the conversations and people's perceptions (wasn't it William James that said you inhabit that universe to which you attend?)

I mean, geez, even E. O. Wilson has rejected the limited view of human nature as solely based on narrow self-interest, and as being incapable of altruism. He's willing to accept the cold hard light of data. Even he rejects the narrow 1960s psychological/socio-biological worldview.

Though there is an interesting twist here.


... propose that self interest be explored, not as a motive in basic conflict with altruism, but as an essential complement to altruism. But it is necessary here to begin by addressing some misunderstandings. The first involves distinguishing self-interest from selfishness. Self interest is often devalued as a useful motive because it is, mistakenly, equated with selfishness (Perloff, 1987). It is easy to confuse the two. However, selfishly eating the last vine-ripened tomato without sharing it with others is quite different from taking care of yourself. The responsibility for getting your own needs met, for maintaining mental alertness and a positive outlook, rests only with yourself. And if you do take care of yourself, then you will be in a much better condition to take care of others who cannot take care of themselves (e.g., people who are sick, children) or to advocate for the environment.

A further concern is that self interest is only about attaining personal well-being. The extreme of egoism is to believe that the only thing that matters to us is our own well-beingand that, by extension, we can never have concern for another person or thing external to us. In their thoughtful book, Psychology's Sanction for Selfishness, Wallach and Wallach (1983) clear up this misunderstanding by noting that our well-being depends on what happens to those things we care about. They state that "we are satisfied or pleased if we attain what we (really) want; we improve our well-being if something that we (really) wish for comes to pass" (p 201). The key issue here rests on understanding what it is that our well-being is based upon. These feelings are derived from attaining an outcome, any outcome, we care about. Thus our well-being can easily depend on such things as the well being of another person or an ecosystem. Framed this way, self-interest can be tied to a vast number of concerns, many directly relevant to environmentalism and some working with surprising effectiveness.

Source: Kearney et al. (2006) Some Psychological Aspects of Altruism and Self-interest. (First presented at the Western Psychological Association 77th Annual Convention, Seattle, Washington, April 24-27, 1997).

I think that this perspective is why I'm so taken by the notion of the "well fed neighbor." It's in my own best interest that I be surrounded by well-fed neighbors and in a neighborhood that sees that as a worthy outcome.

Humans are not altruistic. Look the word up in the dictionary.
We cooperate when it is convenient to do so. It's a survival instinct. Don't mistake altruism for cooperation.

If we are altruistic why is wealth distributed so unevenly? Why do millions starve? Why are there homeless, why is there racial discrimination, war and misogyny? Why are there gangs?

Look at the aftermath of a theater or nightclub fire, notice the bodies piled up at the exits, trampled by the "altruists". Self preservation is a far, far greater instinct than any altruistic tendency.

Woman and children first as long as the second, third and steerage classes are locked below decks. When push comes to shove (literally" it's every man for himself. You might like to think humans or you are different or special but in the long run, a human life is a way and means to propagate genes.

Books to read
The Moral Animal.....Robert Wright
The Unthinkable (Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - And Why.......Amanda Ripley
The Modern Scholar: Evolutionary Psychology......Allen MacNeil
Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World...Hank Davis
The Selfish Gene.....Richard Dawkins

Good list of popular books (I've read most).

But I'll still stand by E.O. Wilson, his research, and his more recent publications.

So agriculture has a higher EROEI then hunter gatherer? Last I heard the exact opposite was true. Religion predates agriculture by a few hundred thousand years.

"Last I heard the exact opposite was true."

Where did you hear that? Hunter-gatherer lifestyle has higher EROEI, but only for individuals and societies who restrict their population growth in accordance to their environment. But when applied to a population that grows exponentially over time, then agriculture has a much much higher EROEI, due to better economies of scale and much lower diminishing of returns.

Right, because the EROEI of agriculture is so awesome now that we have the scale.

It would be awesome, if we kept population growth under control. If, for example, we only had as many humans around as are needed for the agricultural production itself. If we had let's say 1 billion people, or fewer, on the planet, the EROEI of agriculture would be infinitely higher than any hunting-gathering. We did not scale the population in linear relation to agricultural productivity, and that's the problem.

You need to remember that EROEI is not some stand-alone number, it's always dependent on the context. Let's look at the hunter-gatherers: sure, it was probably nice to go out, throw a spear at a wildebeest, pluck some berries from a bush and have a nice steak with cranberry sauce every day for lunch :) But that only works with such high EROEI as long as there are very few of you hunter-gatherers in the environment. When there are many, and you have to walk 20 miles for those cranberries, the EROEI drops significantly. Yes, the population growth was (indirectly) caused by agriculture, but we need to remember that it was not inevitable. If you de-couple agriculture from population growth, then you can get some pretty high EROEI out of it, much higher than hunting-gathering.

I'm curently reading "The Making of Global Capitalism". Most of the joining was accomplished via clever planning and programs on the part of the capitalists. The new American empire -which is really just a collection of more or less global capitalists, is quite different than the traditional command and control empire. Much of the joining happened because the people wanted "stuff", and making the changes deemed to be preconditions by the capitalists pretty much made the outcome inevitable.

There were some interesting notes on a similar Chinese strategy mentioned in the book Debt by David Graeber. Basically, he says that ancient China avoided conflicts with its poorer (and potentially aggressive) neighbours by flooding their markets with cheap goods, thereby creating a relationship of dependence and indebtness, which eliminated the potential threat. It's quite fascinating how similar it is to the current situation.

Survival of the fittest, it's new that we can afford to keep the weak around.

And, from an individual viewpoint, that is only bad when it is your progeny who don't make the cut.

The only real choice is voluntary reduction in population or involuntary reduction in population. We can only choose the first; the second is the default.

Best hopes for good choices.


I think you might also be missing the fact that we humans are competitive and ruthless creatures. Those who don't follow the dominant path and remain competitive, tend to be rolled over and destroyed.

A fine example of this is the destruction and marginalization of non-industrial / non-technological peoples everywhere. Their cultures and societies do not tend to survive intact when the come up against "modern" societies. I'm pretty sure that was also the case historically as well. In modern times, the disparity of technology / modernity is simply greater and the breadth of modern society's reach and infiltration into every part of the world greater.

Good point, I think if you put that into an evolutionary context, it makes sense that humans would behave that way.

"Their cultures and societies do not tend to survive intact when the come up against "modern" societies. I'm pretty sure that was also the case historically as well."

The tale of Cain and Abel is assumed to be a parable on the violent nature of agriculture and civilization. Abel was a nomadic herder, living closer to nature (God loved him more), and he is killed by Cain, the settled farmer.

From http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.ne h/t Steve Bloom ...

Offshore permafrost decay and massive seabed methane escape in water depths >20 m at the South Kara Sea shelf

Abstract: Since the Last Glacial Maximum (~19 ka), coastal inundation from sea-level rise has been thawing thick subsea permafrost across the Arctic. Although subsea permafrost has been mapped on several Arctic continental shelves, permafrost distribution in the South Kara Sea and the extent to which it is acting as an impermeable seal to seabed methane escape remains poorly understood. Here we use >1300 km of high-resolution seismic (HRS) data to map hydroacoustic anomalies, interpreted to record seabed gas release, on the West Yamal shelf. Gas flares are widespread over an area of at least 7,500 km2 in water depths >20 m. We propose that continuous subsea permafrost extends to water depths of ~20 m offshore and creates a seal through which gas cannot migrate. This Arctic shelf region where seafloor gas release is widespread suggests that permafrost has degraded more significantly than previously thought. (Emphasis added.)

I haven't read the paper yet, but the apparent consistency of the effect relative to depth would seem to point the finger at warm water encroaching onto the shelf. That interpretation seems consistent with the supplemental map of the surveyed area, the legend for which reads:

Map showing the distribution of gas flares (yellow lines), neotectonic faults (black lines), and sands/silty sands at the seafloor (grey areas). There appears to be no correlation between the presence of flares and the occurrence of faults and/or coarse-grained sediments at the seafloor. In fact, the majority of flares occur in regions of the seafloor where sediments are comprised mostly of silts and clays. This suggests that there is a different geological control on the distribution of gas flares in the area.

also Constraining bubbling of methane from thermokarst lakes

In northern thermokarst lakes, which form in depressions left as permafrost thaws, methane, a greenhouse gas, can be released from lake sediments to the atmosphere through bubbling, or ebullition. ... Researchers sought to better understand the spatial distribution of bubbling in lakes. They note that in many northern lakes, the bubbling sources, which they call ebullition seeps, cluster together in regular spatial patterns.

They combined field data from individual seeps with models to describe the spatial patterns of ebullition in three thermokarst lakes in different regions of Alaska. The authors used these models to create simulated ebullition data sets, on which they tested various methods for estimating lake ebullition. They find that the standard method of measuring ebullition with randomly placed bubble traps is biased toward underestimating methane flux, while a method using survey transects to map ebullition bubbles trapped in lake ice only slightly underestimated methane flux.

Record Heat for the World’s Most Northerly City

Temperatures at Norilsk, Russia have peaked at 32.0°C (89.6°F) today (Monday, July 22), the warmest ever observed at this large city in the Russian Arctic at 69° 20'N latitude, almost as far north as Barrow, Alaska, and one of the warmest temperatures ever measured at such a northerly latitude on earth (Umiat, Alaska at 69° 22'N reached 92°F (33.3°C) on July 14, 1993 according to the WRCC database). However, sites just a bit south of Norilsk (Snezhnogorsk at 68° 6'N) reached 34°C (93.2°F).


I don't know if this was ever noted here before or not - I couldn't find a reference to it in a site search.

Ocean Apocalypse

Jeremy Jackson gives an excellent (and frightening) one hour lecture to the US Naval War College on the state of marine ecosystems and ties together a number of issues that get discussed around these parts on a regular basis. From January of this year.

Thanks for posting. Jeremy Jackson has done some great work trying to bring these things to our attention.

Polar Bears and penguins are toast.

That's the most depressing talk I've heard in my entire life. And I was already a card carrying doomer!

It's scary what's happening to the oceans. Here are two of his slides, showing what 100 years of fishing harder has done to the North Atlantic. (Red is good.)

It is still a renewable resource and may be restored, the fossil fuels will be worse.

It is still a renewable resource and may be restored, the fossil fuels will be worse.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Once you reach tipping points in complex systems such as those that exist in the climate system and oceans of the world you can not restore them to their previous states. You create completely new stable states. It seems we will have to adapt to consuming protein from the Medusozoa as opposed to fish in the not to distant future. Welcome back to the Precambrian. maybe in another half million years or so you'll see fisheries restored...

Here's some great music for your appreciation!

Cambrian Explosion




Yes but if the population of a species drops below the minimum viable level, it ceases to be renewable. It's not as if we can decide to stop fishing (ha!) and assume everything will return to the way it was.

I'm not sure one can say that any particular aspect of the interconnected predicament will "be worse" than another. Seven billion and counting - I'm sensing a perfect storm in the air but maybe it's just me.

The fish may never come back.

Jackson reckons that slime and jellyfish are taking over, like in the Precambrian. He reckons humans have managed to reverse half a billion years of evolution. As he drily remarks, "Not bad for one species."

We're doing the Easter Island thing, folks. To the planet. And/So there are no frontiers left. Except Mars.

I love this guy. From his talk at 23:00

By the way, we no longer grow food in Iowa. All this production of corn, this miraculous production of corn, one third of it goes to make ethanol, which is an energetically stupid thing to do; one third of it goes to make high-fructose corn syrup, because there are not enough obese people in America; and one third of it goes to feed hogs to be shipped to Russia. (I'm working on a book in that area ... I met this very cool very helpful farmer in Iowa and he had one book on the shelf in his living room, and it was the Lonely Planet guide to Russia. Because he goes to Russia three times a year to sell hogs. *snarky tone* That's doing us a lot of good in America. I guess it's making him a lot of money.)

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

As a species, Homo sapiens is at a crossroads. Study of our planet’s turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference.

But in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz, science journalist and editor of the science Web site io9.com explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever.

... Newitz’s remarkable and fascinating journey through the science of mass extinctions is a powerful argument about human ingenuity and our ability to change. In a world populated by doomsday preppers and media commentators obsessively forecasting our demise, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a compelling voice of hope. It leads us away from apocalyptic thinking into a future where we live to build a better world—on this planet and perhaps on others. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever the future holds.

A good roundup of purple unicorns and smiley faces ...

See also Lisa Simpsons experience with Ignorital Medication

The author's name is Annalee Newitz and the book is called Scatter, Adapt And Remember (excerpts from Google Books). And the first sentence of chapter 1 reads like this.

If you think that humans are destroying the planet in a way that's historically unprecedented, you're suffering from a species-level delusion of grandeur.

And here is the last few sentences of the book.

Things are going to get weird. There may be horrific disasters, and many lives will be lost. But don’t worry. As long as we keep exploring, humanity is going to survive.

Her "point" in the opening sentence is that there have been other mass extinctions during the Phanerozic (the last 542 million years) and this is just another one. Her last sentence expresses her ineffable Hope that humans will survive the next mass extinction—it is sure to occur sometime within the next one million years!—because there are always species which survive mass extinctions. And are we humans not great? Sure we are!

What dreck.

You know, if you take a long enough view, absolutely nothing matters at all.

What is the glory of 'surviving' the next mass extinction if 'we' cause it?

Gah, this stuff puts me in a foul mood...

And that is absolutely correct. So take the long view, sit back, relax and enjoy the sunshine. Smile.

It doesn't actually matter anyways, not matter how many grey hairs or how peptic the whole mess makes you. Chill out.

I try to do this and fail miserably all the time too, but it does seem to be the truth all the same.

"The meek prideful shall inhertit the earth", eh?

What a horrid perspective.

Agreed. However as an intellectual excercise, I think she has it figured out. I too find surviving a (predictable) extinction cased by us is morally quite different from surviving an extinction imposed upon us. But, that distinction doesn't affect the probable outcome. Some of us will survive the bottleneck.

Ah, but this time, it's as if we are the dinosaurs, constructing our very own comet.

First drive: 261 mpg Volkswagen XL1

But the heart of this high-mileage beast is a minuscule 2-cylinder, 0.8-liter 48-horsepower diesel engine paired with a 27-hp electric motor drawing power from a 5.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

I know I can't afford the XL1, but I would like an efficient car with a 2-cylinder 0.8 liter engine.

I have always thought that this is the way to go...can't this tech combined with a financial crash push peak oil out to say 30 years or so? Much less energy usage in the U.S, India, and China....?

Just wondering when I read, "... can't this tech combined with financial crash push peak oil out...", whether this is part of the overall problem with Peak Oil. People are trying to deal with it by "pushing it out." Another way to say, "kick the can down the road," if you ask me.

The reason I say that is, first of all there are climatic impacts that are not being dealt with, and second, it does nothing to solve the problem (or deal with the predicament, if you prefer).

So, yeah... we can push to problem out, which will make it worse. We need, instead, to deal with the problem. If there was ever a problem with TOD, it was that too many simply wanted to gripe about, but not fix, the problems inherent in peak oil. At times some sound like they were looking forward to it, almost cheering it on, as if that would make them "right," and that was all that mattered.

My prediction: mankind, being dumber than, say, yeast, will find a way to maintain BAU until it becomes absolutely impossible to continue any longer, at which time the stairway down will be far steeper, the journey far less pleasant, and the outcome far grimmer than it could or should have been.

As usual, might I add.


So, yeah... we can push to problem out, which will make it worse. We need, instead, to deal with the problem. If there was ever a problem with TOD, it was that too many simply wanted to gripe about, but not fix, the problems inherent in peak oil.

Interesting, I never thought of TOD as an entity that would actually come up with specific plans or solutions to the problem (predicament) of Peak Oil. I always saw it as more of a vat for fermenting facts, knowledge and ideas. Which is why I really liked the campfires. Good brainstorming allows for the inclusion of ideas that may at fist glance be completely OT, wrong and even misguided. Where I felt TOD got off track was that it tried and succeeded in maintaining too narrow a purely technical focus. Therefore at times stifling much potentially creative and IMHO, needed discussion.

However as we all know, you can't please everyone all the time. Still on the whole, TOD has been a truly fantastic experience to have been a part of all these years, it has been an honor to have been granted the opportunity to spend time here. I can't thank everyone who has participated, enough. I hope that many of us will take some time to digest what we have learned here and put it to good use in our own communities, wherever we may find ourselves!



Interesting, I never thought of TOD as an entity that would actually come up with specific plans or solutions to the problem (predicament) of Peak Oil. I always saw it as more of a vat for fermenting facts, knowledge and ideas.

That's probably a big reason we're archiving the site. I think many of us feel it's time to stop talking and start doing.

As for Campfire...TOD has allowed people on staff (not me, I hasten to add) to make connections that we would never have dreamed off back when we started. No, I'm not going to name any names, but if I did, you'd recognize them. To the point that I suspect Campfire became, well, something of a liability.

Just as a fer-instance, not an actual event...but say you're a peak oiler with a career, family, limited time and energy. Do you spend that time working on posts for TOD, and editing/moderating for the site? Or do you instead work on those presentations for Barack Obama and Bill Gates next month?

Not only that, but you start to consider what a Google search on your name will turn up. Campfire might not be the first thing you want to see. Even if you do believe that talk about what to do when there's no technology, and how to make your own clothes in case you can't buy them at the store any more is valuable...you might not want to present yourself in that light.

...stop talking and start doing.

Not sure who we credit with the saying, but maybe it's time to get off the blogs and Blame no one, Expect no help, and DO SOMETHING.

It's that last part I'm using to judge which new TOD-clone to move to. That is, "I get it" and I can always google for an update on Bakken well decline rates. Now what I need help with is understanding options on how to respond, not more help motivating me to do so.

We need lots of small experiments (and I think that folks here are doing them). But we also need a good way to share successes and failures.

Regardless of the outlet used, I value clear, concrete, vivid and engaging language. It helps me pre-familiarize. Sharon Astyk's writing has always worked for me, but she seems to be writing less these days.

30 more years choking on diesel fumes with legs dangling as worse than senseless things in some wheelwell? What a grim and myopic vision! Oh well, they have a pill now for high cholesterol--"when diet and exercise aren't enough--you might be breathing carfug."

The following is actually quite funny if you are in the right frame of mind, those oilmen can indeed be slippery customers.

New Frontiers: Conventional oil, unconventional, or an Oreo cookie?

It used to be easy, dividing oil and gas plays into conventional and unconventional segments. It’s a lot more complicated now, as Starr Spencer explains in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.


But just what is unconventional oil and gas? Is it a substantially different type of rock? Or is it fancy technology applied to wells?

Geologists say it’s both.


Here’s how the respected, well-used oil and gas glossary on giant oil services company Schlumberger’s website puts it: Unconventional is an “umbrella term for oil and natural gas… produced by means that do not meet the criteria for conventional production. What has qualified as unconventional at any particular time is a complex function of resource characteristics, available exploration and production technologies, the economic environment and the scale, frequency and duration of production from the resource.”

Schlumberger noted that perceptions of these factors “inevitably change over time and often differ among users of the term.”


For its part, in an attempt to reduce confusion, the EIA — the statistical research arm of the US Department of Energy — has phased out the word “unconventional” in its materials, agency spokesman John Staub, said.

“We try to focus on the type of formation that the oil and gas is being produced from, or the technology aspect,” Staub said. “One term we’ve toyed with for replacement of the word ‘conventional’ is structure, stratigraphic or water contact reservoirs.”

If we need a new term for conventional oil and gas, ergo unconventional oil and gas is the new normal, is this a tacit admission af peak oil ?

Hiding the problem in plain sight so to speak. LOL

Back to the future.

Polynesian navigators revive a skill that was nearly lost

Two ocean-going canoes have returned to New Zealand after an epic voyage to Easter Island by Polynesian navigators using traditional craft. The revival of ancient skills continues to gather momentum and has great cultural and political significance for the indigenous people of the Pacific.


Hang in there.


A friend was sailing from Guam to a small island near Chuuk and had two islanders with him (pre GPS).
They told him he was slightly off on his navigation.

Asked how they knew, they said they could see the reflection of the lagoon in the clouds from 300 miles away.

Cute story, but unlikely. I have made the same voyage. Guam - Truk about 500 miles, standard close reach [ best course upwind in the trades ]. Best possible lagoon reflection distance is 30 miles. How can you see a cloud 300 miles away ? Likewise wave bounce off atolls. My experience is max distance for specific atoll ID is 15 miles and that only when approaching from the windward direction.

An island can be detected quite simply. Squat with testicles hanging free. Normal wave action sets the standard pattern and new waves are easily felt. Amazingly accurate.

Maybe he was mistaken.
I've sailed quite a bit in Micronesia, but never with outer islanders, just Guamanians and Palauans.

I commercially fished there (spear and troll) in the 70s and 80s.

How do you get the troll to drop the fish so you can sell it?

Poke him with the spear?

There are stories of Pacific Islanders who would use the angle of the ocean swell as part of their skills to navigate to fishing grounds or places to trade, then return home. Many generations of knowledge. "Lore".
Likewise over the horizon sights were reported by early explorers, many who kept detailed ship's logs. Learned from the indigenous people?
I have read about these phenomena years ago and would have to really dig to find info. Maybe even use the Wayback Machine.
Dark skies and night vision. At 9000 ft. (2700 M.) elevation I could see stars and galaxies from horizon to horizon from the Sierra Nevada, the view was likely the same or better at sea level then. Go to a dark sky location, sit for an hour with no light and be amazed. Lookup Zodiacal Light. I once could see the Andromeda Galaxy from home, but air and light pollution has taken that away, as well as seeing our Galaxy, The Milky Way.
Please reply for links,

The early Antarctic explorers could tell whether there was ice or water a few miles ahead, based upon how bright the bottoms of clouds were. I remember thinking of the Colorado Plateau as red bottom cloud country. So a sizable island has a subtle effect on the appearance of clouds overhead. If it is a big enough island, it will modify the local weather, and that might be observable a hundred miles away. Also certain bird species might be found in the vicinity of islands....


They say one good deed deserves another. It seems like one good subsidy deserves another. The high wind power build has been driven by subsidies and renewable energy targets, not by pure market economics. If there is a CO2 cap as well as a renewable energy quota then wind power gets two bites at the cherry since coal and gas are handicapped. Now it turns out to remain profitable that coal and gas operators need to be paid to remain on standby.

I have a better idea; nobody gets a subsidy or mandate. Just use a single objective like a CO2 cap and let the players work out how much wind, coal and gas makes up the mix. The wind fraction may rise on its own as it becomes a saver for expensive gas. As the CO2 cap shrinks and nukes are shunned then wind overbuilding or aggressive demand management may have to step in. Don't game the CO2 cap with phoney credits.

AFP: ‘Fukushima reactor site engulfed by steam’ —Kyodo: ‘Something like steam’ coming from unknown source at Unit No. 3 — Tepco: ‘Continuously wafting through the air’ — Work to remove rubble suspended

The Australian, July 23, 2013 (h/t RadChick): Fukushima reactor site engulfed by steam [...] Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have reported steam inside a battered reactor building for the second time in less than a week. The operator said today steam was seen around the fifth floor of the building housing Reactor No 3 shortly after 9am [...] Steam was spotted in the same area on Thursday [...] with TEPCO saying it did not know for sure what had caused it. [...]

“Worrisome” spike in deadly birth defects around leaking U.S. nuclear site — Officials claim “it could be a complete coincidence” — No news reports mention it’s by the most contaminated area in Western Hemisphere #Hanford

A high rate of birth defects has confounded Washington health officials, who have been unable to identify a cause.

A report released Tuesday by the Washington State Department of Health said that, since 2010, the neighboring counties of Yakima, Benton and Franklin have an unusually high number pregnancies affected by the [neural tube] birth defect anencephaly, which results in a newborns’ brains being severely underdeveloped.

In the U.S., there are approximately one or two expected cases of anencephaly for every 10,000 annual births [...] the health department found that there was an abnormally high number of cases reported from January 2010 to January 2013 with approximately eight cases of anencephaly for every 10,000 births. [...]

U.S. Department of Energy: Two studies of birth defects in Benton and Franklin Counties were published in 1988. [...] Results showed a statistically significant association between preconception exposure of the parents to ionizing radiation and neural tube defects in their infants.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission: Twelve specific malformations were analyzed for evidence of association with parental employment at Hanford and with occupational exposure to ionizing radiation. [...] Neural tube defects showed a significant association with parental pre-conception exposure [...

Re: Fukushima and steam, one of the comments on this article comes to mind:

"Dec 1, 2011 ... No nuclear explosion, no. But you'll have continuous (huge) explosions when the fuel reaches the water table. Something like a nuclear geyser ..."

"TEPCO saying it did not know for sure what had caused it. [...]".. Japan's version of Old Faithful. Maybe they can sell tickets :-0

Is the below like China quoting The Onion as truth?


(Elpais.cr) If you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use you can drop a fine not exceeding 30 million.


Experts are warning that with the increased levies on self-consumed solar energy so high many households will have to pay more for the electricity they generate themselves than they would for regular grid power.

The main trade association for Spain's electric utilities which distribute most the country's electricity said "the cuts will compel our member companies to undertake a drastic reduction in jobs and review their investments in Spain," Asociación Española de la Industria Eléctrica (Unesa) warned.

Is the below like China quoting The Onion as truth?


(Elpais.cr) If you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use you can drop a fine not exceeding 30 million.

Tullow Says Wells in Mozambique, French Guiana Fail to Find Oil

The Cachalote-1 exploration well off the coast of Mozambique, drilled with operator Statoil ASA (STL) and others, encountered gas that isn’t commercial and didn’t find oil, Tullow said in a statement today. The company is searching for oil close to where others have made the century’s biggest natural gas discoveries off the East African coast.

“The potential for discovering oil in this region remains,” said Exploration Director Angus McCoss. “We will integrate this valuable data into our regional model to improve our chances of unlocking the oil play potential offshore Mozambique.”

Tullow has declined more than 11 percent this year after a previous exploration well in French Guiana failed to find significant oil in April and projects in Ethiopia were delayed.

But the hype was so promising! What a disappointment.

Why can't oil companies under-promise and over-deliver for a change? /sarc

Yeah, have them deliver more, so we can burn it and add to the misery of the future.

Rrrrmmmm, rrrrrmmmm, zoom zoom. All the more enjoyable, because I know yet unborn babes will be paying for it!

Arctic Cyclone Developing

•Over the next few days a large cyclone (low pressure system) will form over the Arctic Ocean, which will start to cause drastic changes in the sea ice in the area.
◦This system strengthen winds to anywhere from 75-100 km/h over the ocean on Wednesday night into Thursday which will start to shift the ice in the area.
◦Last August a similar system developed in the area which destroyed 800,000 square km of ice.
◦This system looks even stronger than last year's, and much of the ice in the area is thinner first year ice, so there could be drastic changes in the Arctic sea ice over the next week or so.

It's also pretty warm at the moment

Weather report as of 63 minutes ago (12:00 UTC): The temperature was 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit).


Weather report as of 7 minutes ago (12:58 UTC): The temperature was 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit).


Weather report as of 16 minutes ago (12:50 UTC): The temperature was 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit).

interactive map

Stems Journal

We're open! Stems Journal is now accepting submission for our debut issue.

Stems is looking for writing and visual art inspired and challenged by science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.

The submission deadline for our first issue is August 31st. Please visit our website, www.stemsjournal.com, or email us at editors at stemsjournal dot com for more information.

Looks and sounds very interesting! I don't know about the August 31st but I might submit some art eventually.

Best of luck with your launch, I'll be visiting for sure!



Not my launch, but their spiel. Sounds like an interesting venue.

If you are wrestling on how to interpret or current predicament through writing and art, may I suggest The Dark Mountain Project:
Disclaimer: They have published some of my work

Council of Canadians: Ontario Energy Board Natural Gas Infrastrcture Hearings

Andrea Harden-Donahue, July 22, 2013

Union Gas and Enbridge are trying to convince the OEB of the need for expanded and restructured natural gas infrastructure in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ontario. They want to do this in order to diversify supply, lower upstream risks and supply costs. The Council of Canadians has worked with 3 fracking expert witnesses who are saying this is bunk. While focussed on questioning Union Gas and Enbridge’s arguments, the reports are full of useful information and facts for anti-fracking activists.

Hughes demonstrates how supply predictions for U.S shale gas plays are overblown. Cornell Professor of Engineering Anthony R. I1ngraffea highlights his research exposing why natural gas is not the touted bridgefuel...

--- snip ---

The timing of these OEB proceedings coinciding with TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project is no coincidence. Ontario and Québec have been receiving conventional natural gas from the Prairies over TransCanada’s Mainline. This is the 55 year old pipeline TransCanada is proposing be converted to carrying oil (tar sands crude), extending it in Alberta and from Québec to Saint John New Brunswick.

Talk about bad idea – replace conventional gas with imported fracked gas (wrong on so many levels) in order to ship tar sands crude in an old pipeline over precious rivers, streams, farmlands, through communities and Indigenous lands to reach Eastern ports for export.

--- snip ---

Hughes’ warns the OEB against counting on an abundance of cheap fracked gas, easy-to-get gas will be used up soon and then industry will have to go after less productive wells, increasing costs and risks.

What's good for Alberta is not necessarily good for the rest of Canada.

Intact estimates impact from floods, Lac Mégantic rail disaster

Canadian underwriter.ca, 2013-07-22

Intact Financial Corp. announced Monday it will record after-tax catastrophe losses of $123 million, net of reinsurance, in its second quarter financial results, which the Toronto-based property and casualty insurance carrier is scheduled to release at the end of July.

"The severe rain storm that impacted thousands of Intact customers in the Greater Toronto Area resulted in an estimated $170 million of insurable damages,"
    --- snip ---
"The devastation brought on by recent flooding and torrential rain is unprecedented," Intact CEO Charles Brindamour stated in a press release. "The scope of the damage and destruction that we have witnessed in recent weeks is a stark reminder that we must adapt the protection offered to Canadians to ensure it remains sustainable in light of the greater prevalence and severity of weather events."

Intact said Monday it estimates the cost of paying its Alberta customers in the aftermath of June's flooding will amount to more than $300 million for an after-tax impact of $105 million, net of reinsurance.
    --- snip ---
In addition to the Alberta and Toronto floods, Intact Monday also included an estimate of the financial impact of the Lac Megantic Quebec tragedy.

"The train derailment and explosion in the town of Lac-Mégantic will result in a $25 million impact to the company's third quarter results," Intact stated.

Spain is an even better example than Detroit of falling down the Seneca Cliff. And faster.

2007 was the best year ever in our history.
In 2008 the world's economy crashed, and Spain lost its wheels.

Since 2008 and accelerating, Spain has seen unemployment grow to 27% -7 Million working age people.
The traffic is stopping, travel on the Underground and on Trains and on the road has diminished, at least by a third.
The consumption of Oil drops at 17% a year, also the demand for electricity.

It is easy to understand why. Spain doesn't have Oil, Gas and Coal and it is sorely lacking in the kind of businesses that could compensate with exports -we don't have anything like Casio, Samsung, Mitsubushi, Sony. In fact the car companies are all foreign owned: Ford, GM, Peugeot, Renault, VW (owns SEAT).

Millions of people are destitute. Spain doesn't have a benefits based Welfare State and when Unemployment payments stop they do not receive any aid.
There are no Food Stamps or the equivalent in Spain.
And people are losing their homes, and thrown out on the streets by the banks.
No, they are not given shelters like could happen in the UK or Germany, where they are sent to a B&B or some other solution, like Social Housing -there's no social housing in Spain worth mentioning

In fact the situation is now very similar to that during the Second World War in Europe !
Millions of people are being helped by the Red Cross.
The other day there was an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel denouncing the situation -it happens also in Romania, but they were already very poor before 2008.

* Made Poor by the Crisis: Millions of Europeans Require Red Cross Food Aid *
SPIEGEL Online International - 11.03.2013

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 dropping down, real fast.
And it is not stopping, we have not reached bottom, not by a long shot.

It is not the same in the rest of Europe, the old saying that "Europe stops at the Pyrenees" is true again.
It is something peculiar to us, part of the same process but much more intense, in great part because of the lack of cheap fuels.
Spain can no longer afford to pay the fuels it needs.
There are other factors, of course, the building bubble the most important one. It exploded and millions of workers lost their jobs, the administration lost their revenues, and the banks specially the local, politically corrupt Building Societies, went broke.

I sincerely believe we'll fall to something similar to the situation in 1959.
When workers bought cigarettes one by one, or a single glass of red wine and everybody was very, very poor.

ps. The news about the government heavily taxing the PV panels is absolutely true.
Do you remember the albino monk in Da Vinci's Code, a member of the Opus Dei?
All the members of the right wing government of Spain belong to that nefarious sect, the Opus Dei, a Catholic Mafia.

A search of "Opus Dei in Spain" brings up some fascinating stuff. Hang in there, santaluciae.

Chapman: *I* don't know - Mr Wentworth just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at the mill, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.


[The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain [Palin] enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles [Jones] has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang [Gilliam] is just Cardinal Fang]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

The Spanish Inquisition
by Monty Python

The Pope is currently in Brazil...

Worshippers flock round pope's car on drive from airport while protests break out elsewhere in response to presidential meeting.

Oh, Sh@t!

‘Nobody understands’ spills at Alberta oil sands operation

Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.
The company’s operations use an “in situ” or underground extraction technology called “cyclic steam stimulation,” which involves injecting thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam into deep underground reservoirs. This heats and liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which the bitumen flows and is then pumped to the surface.
The scientist, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, said the operation was in chaos.“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”
“In the course of injecting steam they’ve created fractures from the reservoir to the surface that they didn’t expect,” said the scientist, who is speaking out over concern that neither the company nor Alberta’s regulatory bodies would properly address the situation.

If I remember correctly, TOD's RMG says this type of operation is going to be increasingly used. Great, newer can create more messes than old!

Now, remember, these tar sand operations are good for the environment because they help clean-up nature's mess. After all, if nature didn't leave these toxic goo deposits laying about, we wouldn't have to extract them and burn them up.

Naughty nature.


I better buy a Hummer so I can do my part to burn this nasty stuff.

A pair of shiny new Dodge RAMs in every driveway would certainly help. If we all pitch-in and work together, we *can* make this world a better place.

Now just close your eyes, bend over, and think of Alberta !