Drumbeat: July 24, 2013

Fed Criticized on Oversight of Bank-Owned Commodity Units

The Federal Reserve faces new pressure to explain why it lets banks trade raw materials and control supplies after congressional witnesses said regulators can’t really grasp what lenders are doing in industrial businesses.

Officials from the Fed and Commodity Futures Trading Commission may testify at hearings in September, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said in an interview yesterday after witnesses told his Senate subcommittee that commodities operations owned by lenders are hurting customers and endangering the financial system. He’ll also seek testimony from bankers.

“Should the public generally be forced to feel around in the dark to figure this stuff out?” Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said during the hearing. “This is too important,” he added later. “It does significant potential damage to the economy.”

Biggest Banks Face Fed Restoring Barriers in Commodities

The Federal Reserve’s review of its decision to let banks store, transport and trade raw materials signals a potential rebuilding of the wall between banking and commerce that legislation and rulemaking have eroded.

Morgan Stanley Oil Tankers Raise Market Power Concern at Hearing

Morgan Stanley’s involvement in an oil tanker business, petroleum transportation service and crude markets raised concerns at a Senate hearing today that the owner of the world’s largest brokerage wields too much market power.

After Costing Americans Billions, Federal Reserve Reexamines Bank's Commodity Speculation

It is one of the grossest miscarriages of Wall Street power and government obeisance resulting in billions of consumer dollars going into the pockets of banks, hedge funds and traders producing and adding nothing to the economic well-being of the nation, other than lining their own pockets.

Warren Says Banks Using Enron Commodity Model Face Risk

Banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. may have adopted the model for commodity trading used by Enron Corp., adding “more and more risk” to the financial system, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said.

JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among lenders whose commodity trading is in jeopardy as the Federal Reserve reconsiders letting banks ship crude oil and run warehouses for industrial metals. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, spoke today at a Senate subcommittee hearing on bank ownership of metal and energy assets. Enron, once the world’s biggest trader of power and natural gas, collapsed in 2001.

WTI Oil Retreats as China’s Manufacturing Slowing

West Texas Intermediate fell for the second day in three after fluctuating amid data showing a slowdown in China’s manufacturing in July and shrinkage in crude stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s largest oil consumer.

Abu Dhabi Boosts Oil Output in $40 Billion Plan

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is pumping about 1.5 million barrels of crude a day from its main onshore fields and is halfway through a planned $40 billion investment plan, company officials said.

Peak oil lives, but will kill the economy

Since 2005, though the price of oil has increased, production has still plateaued, suggesting that "supply is no longer able to match demand." This "inelastic supply of oil" creates a "price-production buffer against increasing economic growth." As global demand for oil increases, driven largely by emerging markets, this "leads to an increase in the price of oil." But this in turn means that "more unconventional resources become economically viable for development", leading to an increase in oil production.

However, the "potential for recession increases", because the whole cycle was set in motion by "an increase in the price of oil." As a seeming glut in unconventional production permits a nominal relaxation in prices, economic demand ramps up, once again pushing up oil prices as the economy hits the supply ceiling, reigniting the process. The result is an undulating production plateau correlating with higher but more volatile oil prices, as well as a prolonged recession punctuated by small cycles of 'recovery' and contraction.

The Oil Drum website set to close as peak oil fears vanish

The decision to shutter “The Oil Drum”, the leading website devoted to peak oil, has come to symbolise the end of an era – and sparked a furious debate about whether the theory was all along based on a fundamental mistake.

Peak oil isn’t dead; it just smells that way

But the reason The Oil Drum has been lacking for good original content wasn’t that it had lost the argument and there wasn’t anything left to say. Far from it. The flow of content simply moved to where good analysts and writers on the subject could actually get paid for their work. That was inevitable, because a publishing model that relies on a steady flow of free articles that take days or weeks or even months of hard, highly skilled work to create simply isn’t sustainable. Freelance writers like me moved on to paying publications like SmartPlanet where we could actually make a living. Consultants and hedge funds began restricting their work to their private clients and subscribers, with maybe a teaser of free stuff posted in their blogs and newsletters. Investors and oil and gas companies began hiring capable analysts to do the work privately, after many years of enjoying the assembled intelligence on The Oil Drum (and trading it very profitably, I might add) for free. The volunteers who had put so much time into the site all these years discovered that they needed to spend their energies elsewhere. And the public got accustomed to higher prices, so the media stopped talking about peak oil, which led to a dropoff in traffic. Hey, that’s show biz.

It’s also true that many of us, having cut our teeth on the data and the dialogue at The Oil Drum, moved on to other pursuits. Once you’ve learned something, you don’t need to keep relearning it. Just speaking for myself, I moved on to grappling with the solutions to the peak oil problem: efficiency upgrades, financing, policy issues, transportation paradigms, and the transition to renewables. Merely revisiting the peak oil problem didn’t seem like a good use of my time, though I have continued to write about it as a context. I know that some other former contributors to the site changed their tacks similarly.

Suncor Back in Favor as Alberta Heavy Oil Price Doubles

Suncor Energy Inc. and other Canadian oil stocks have risen almost twice as much as global competitors after the country’s crude rose to a one-year high on optimism that pipeline bottlenecks are easing.

Not surprised by Statoil foreign relocation

“The government’s aim with the new oil tax was to reduce industry activity and temperature. They now complain when Statoil is doing just that. It doesn’t fit together,” added Mr Solvik-Olsen.

Progress was the only Party that voted against when parliament introduced the new oil tax scheme in June, to major protests by Statoil and the oil industry.

Total Nears Sri Lanka Study Contract for Deepwater Oilfields

Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil company, may win a contract from the Sri Lankan government in a month to study the prospect of oil and natural gas deposits deep off the island’s fabled white-sand beaches.

Big Oil's Alaska problem

FORTUNE-- Oil companies operating in Alaska scored a long-awaited victory this spring when Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation significantly cutting state taxes on oil profits. But even before Parnell put his pen to the tax cut bill, opponents were seeking to overturn it, raising questions about whether the industry was too ambitious in its lobbying efforts—and whether the legislation will ultimately ramp up production on the state's North Slope as promised.

‘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.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

Gas Well In The Gulf Continues To Burn

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An out-of-control natural gas well off the Louisiana coast continued to burn Wednesday after it caught fire following a blowout that prompted the evacuation of 44 workers, authorities said.

Meanwhile, officials stressed that Tuesday's blowout wouldn't be close to as damaging as the 2010 BP oil spill, in which an oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and eventually spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana Agency to Sue Energy Companies for Wetland Damage

Louisiana officials will file a lawsuit on Wednesday against dozens of energy companies, hoping that the courts will force them to pay for decades of damage to fragile coastal wetlands that help buffer the effects of hurricanes on the region.

House Lawmakers Say Renewable-Fuel Mandate Will Change

Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers said legislative changes probably will be made to the Renewable Fuel Standard while a repeal of the quotas as demanded by refiners is unlikely.

Tomari reactor checks suspended

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will suspend safety checks for two nuclear reactors run by Hokkaido Electric Power Co. because the utility’s applications were far from adequate.

Hokkaido Electric is “clearly unprepared” for checks to be carried out on reactors 1 and 2 at its Tomari nuclear power station in Hokkaido, NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said Tuesday.

Energy companies are paying a heavy price for shunning renewables

The argument for green solutions is not just about climate change – traditional sources of power will soon cost more.

India solar firms wants probe against dumping broadened

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

Solar Energy Storage About To Take Off In Germany and California

Visitors to last week’s Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco could not help but notice the presence of a benign invader: energy storage vendors. Half the second-floor exhibition space at the Moscone West convention hall had been rented by energy storage companies.

Worse floods ahead for UK as climate warms, say scientists

Heavy and prolonged rainfall will cause both more frequent and more severe flooding across the UK and the rest of north-west Europe as the atmosphere continues to warm, say British and American scientists.

Arctic thawing could cost the world $60tn, scientists say

Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic "economic timebomb" which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists.

Coastal Antarctic permafrost melting faster than expected

Scientists had previously considered the McMurdo Dry Valleys region’s ground ice to be in equilibrium, meaning its seasonal melting and refreezing did not, over time, diminish the valley's overall mass of ground ice.

Instead, Levy documented through LIDAR and time-lapse photography a rapid retreat of ground ice in Garwood Valley, similar to the lower rates of permafrost melt observed in the coastal Arctic and Tibet.

"The big tell here is that the ice is vanishing—it's melting faster each time we measure," said Levy, who noted that there are no signs in the geologic record that the valley's ground ice has retreated similarly in the past. "This is a dramatic shift from recent history."

For me this is where climate change gets really scary. The potential for rapid, massive positive feedback is completely unknown. If all the arctic permafrost was to de-gas in a rapid burst, of say a decade, we would see methane induced warming of (human) species killing proportions, lasting perhaps a couple of centuries.

Is there any record of something similar in the geologic record?

RW - Is there any record of something similar in the geologic record?

Try the Permian–Triassic extinction event or the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum

Even the PETM was slow by modern standards, with significant temperature changes taking thousands of years.
BTW, if it was something as simple as a methane pulse, that would decay after a couple of decades. Today the methane half life is about 12years, but with a higher concentration I think the half life would increase, as the supply of oxidizing radicals in the atmosphere might get reduced.

Pangaea apparently existed at the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction event. All of us are members of the Tribe Of Pangaea.

...But one question remains: Are we members of the Tribe Of Pangaea after the Permian-Triassic extinction event, or before? Now, before you answer that that question, it is important to keep in mind that the Permian-Triassic extinction event was the only known mass extinction of insects, and that, as clever as we might think we are, we are far from extremophiles like tardigrades, which seem much less clever. Like yeast.

Climate change or global warming seem like such smooth gentle benign things... like, if only the beach on which we were lying in the sun and a light breeze with our margaritas would be a touch warmer, we would go for a swim.

The Miami article in Rolling Stone about sea level rise is really great. Search for "rolling stone goodbye miami" and you will find it.

Unbelievable problems combined with unbelievable shortsightedness. They should be planning massive relocations already and they are too busy building new skyscrapers.

Detroit should recognize the next great marketing opportunity -- amphibious vehicles.

re: Detroit: And...perhaps a prime re-location destination? :)

Depends on how "19 meters" (highest point of older Detroit) to "206 m" (high point of newer city) fares...next to a big lake.

"Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is 'imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes." ~ Wikipedia

You Could Feel The Sky

Thanks for the pointer to the RS Miami article. Things like this, e.g. your reference to that article, are what I'm going to miss most when TOD ceases operation.

Pretty much all the observations have been "faster than expected".
Turns out the IPPC is pretty conservative. Why can't something be slower than expected just one time?

Climate Changing Faster Than Expected

Feb 11, 2013 03:00 AM ET

I cannot recall where, but I read years ago that IPPC was charged after their first report to be less "dramatic" and more "conservative" in their report. Changes, as I recall, were made in the second report to be in accord with the 'official' directives (directed by Bush II's staff, IIRC).

We can expect most observations to be on the high end, if not off the chart. There was NO allowance for being conservative in the true sense of the word, but rather in the political sense. A really conservative view would have pointed shown the possibilities of disaster looming, in order to allow wise leaders to take necessary action. Instead we had lies and distortions.

Strange species, Homo sapiens, sapiens. I wonder if they'll be missed.


Arguably, no one will be around to "miss us" after we're gone.

Maybe the dogs that share the end times with us will, but the next generation of dogs won't. They will never have known us in any meaningful sense.

That's the weird thing, when there is no humans left to care about things (I'm pretty sure no other species on earth "misses" the dinosaurs like millions of human children do), our existence, our combined accomplishments, our stories, failures, trials, tribulations, etc. will no long matter because nothing on this planet will be left to care. Our existence will have had meaning to precisely no one. There won't even be a biologist, or some equivalent to lament the passing of those strange apes. Only humans do things like this. It iwll be a great loss in one sense and completely irrelevant and meaningless in another.

Maybe alien minds sufficiently like own will come along or exist to continue to give "meaning" to human existence after we're gone, but otherwise, humanity's very existence will be rendered completely meaningless because there will be no one to appreciate that "meaning" left in existence. There will be as much "meaning" left as my existence's meaning amounts to to a pine tree, rock, mouse or fish located in the boreal forest for all intents and purposes.

Ah well. So it goes...

Well . . . in the big picture that is ultimately true no matter what. In the long entropy driven heat-death of the universe all sentient life will be wiped out. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

In cosmological time, life is a blip. I'm quite sure that whatever planets are habitable are only habitable for a small percentage of their existence. Mars may have had life. Perhaps the reason that SETI has not had response is because whatever life exists in neighboring solar systems is not technologically capable at the same time we are. We have only sent out radio signals for the last 50 years.

There's a good, but depressing movie in this concept. Reaching ecological failure, a few ships leave Earth bound for different green planets (which we can probably identify in a decade or two).

All but one ship finds an uninhabitable planet. They perish.

Cut to a mature planet, with oxygen based life. The ship targeting it has malfunctions entering the atmosphere. It crashes and all onboard are killed.

End with Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones.

Roll credits.

I can't decide if I'm an optimistic pessimist or a pessimistic optimist...


sounds like pessimistic pessimism to me. :)

The thing is...if the humans did make it, they'd presumably face the same species' dilemmas brought to us by Nature, i.e., starting w. the math of reproduction (and the exponential function).

If we solve it here, now...rather, not "solve" exactly...understand and address...

In the long entropy driven heat-death of the universe all sentient life will be wiped out.

From: Ecosystem Thermodynamics, Aiko Huckauf

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

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

Kansas state senator Will Blanchard

Unfortunately the 'Universe' doesn't give a rodents rear end about what any of us wants...

And the IPCC went along because they figured charges of "alarmism" would discredit them -and any attempts to deal with the problem.

The First IPCC Assessment report was published in 1990 under Bush the First, the Second in 1995 under Cap'n Billy Clinton. The Third came out in 2001 and the Fourth Assessment in 2007, so it's likely that Bush the Second influenced both, as they most certainly did with the series of reports put out by the US Climate Change Science Program, since renamed The US Global Change Research Program...

E. Swanson

I stand corrected; the discussion I recall involved the 2007 report. And, in reading recent prognostications about the coming release of a new edition, it appears that there will be great back pedaling done, with much hedging of meaning of the facts that will be included. We will have to wait to see whether this is the case...

One of my frequent rants involves the steadfastness of our government throughout the past 33 years - as if there is really only one party in power, and all of the sycophants routinely bow heads in agreement with the Lord, God, Milton, and his Apostle, Saint Ronnie (the Wrong). Including Slick Willie and our current President. Money has taken over - our government has been purchased and willingly attends to Mammon.

Sorry . . . we are so out of step with Nature, and even with most of the rest of the world that it embarrasses sickens me. And, the moneyed interests of big business are winning in their effort to remain in power, where they will rule until their stupidity brings down our economy and our world's climate, whether through slow, long decline or a faster quick fall. In the fullness of time, it will appear to be quite fast, I am sure. To many species it will be so fast that they can neither move nor adapt, and so they will die.

Welcome Starfighter. You have been chosen to defend the frontier ...


How was it better in the Gilded Age with the Robber Barrons? Many civilizations have been out of step with nature at many points throughout time. Others have learned to live without so much impact. It appears now that some Native American societies learned to live with lower impacts, but not until after suffering through the damage their early attempts caused. The human race has been causing huge environmental disruption and lasting climate changes since we developed agriculture, and perhaps before.

The moneyed interests of the present system only appear to be winning. They will be swept away along with the system they manipulate by an unstoppable power - the simple of the lack of the basic resources needed to keep that system working. The burden of supporting the elites and all of the increasingly complex apparatus they build to prop themselves up, such as the security state, will do vastly more to damage and destroy them than any intentional sabotage ever could.

We've discussed the real limits we face here on TOD so many times over the last years. If you accept that these limits are real, well then they must have effects. It does not matter what people want, nor much how powerful they appear to be in human societies - there really are limits.

Some 30 years ago I took a freshman seminar on the then pretty new Limits to Growth study. I did not reject it then, but I could not reconcile what I learned there with the world I knew and saw all around me. As fantastical as it seemed then, it turns out that the limits were what was real, and the world around me was going to have to bend to those limits.

Do not worry about these clowns, they are only hastening the destruction of the very system they run, and which is causing the most damage to our world. We won't live long enough to see much of how this story plays out, but we will see the beginning. That future will not include them.

One of my frequent rants involves the steadfastness of our government... Including Slick Willie and our current President. Money has taken over - our government has been purchased and willingly attends to Mammon. ~ zaphod42

It's worse than that. (Slick Willie is a minor detail, perhaps like how the human species will increasingly become over a short time.) For one, it's not your government. For another it's coercive. It's a mob with a monopoly on violence. Specialization. Your passport, if you have one, is your cowbell/leash/brand. pwned. Just ask Snowden about that.

"coercion (kəʊˈɜːʃən)
— n
1. the act or power of coercing
2. government by force"
~ Dictionary.com

And they have our children too. By force. This is the Matrix.

"...The map is a simulacrum that, as a model, loses all reference to reality... reality exists only as rotting shreds that are attached to the map, and this is the state of our age according to Baudrillard; that the model, itself, has primacy for us; the real has become irrelevant..."
~ Philosophy and The Matrix - Baudrillard (available on You Tube corporate media container and apparent PRISM/NSA accomplice)

"Only try to realize the truth." ~ The Matrix

I did see one negative feedback lately. Fires in the arctic forests are converting pine forests to less flamable deciduous forests. The later has higher albedo, so that would be a negative feedback that might at least help locally.

Arctic methane 'time bomb' could have huge economic costs

... The authors say a release of methane on this scale could bring forward the date when global temperatures increase by 2C by between 15 and 35 years.

The model shows, with most of the damage in the poorer parts of Africa, Asia and South America. The largest costs envisaged include loss of crops to heat and drought, coping with sea level rise and worsening tropical storms.

This is likely to end up creating costs that will outstrip any benefits by three or more orders of magnitude, said Chris Hope of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.

“People are calculating possible economic benefits in the billions of dollars and we’re talking about possible costs and damage and extra impacts in the order of tens of trillions of dollars,” he said.

... A record decline in Arctic sea ice has been widely seen as economically beneficial until now, as it opens up more shipping and drilling in a region thought to contain 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 per cent of its undiscovered oil.

North Pole now a lake – Arctic cyclone to further fracture ice and churn up warm ocean water

I don't think that web cam is at the exact north pole - satellite images show the pole is still very icy - and the 'lake' is a surface melt-pond, quite big, but probably only a foot deep. Once the flow it is sitting on cracks, the water will drain away quickly. Ice at the pole is still about 2metres deep, but melting rapidly.

Also, this year's melt is not expected to exceed last year's record, matching closest to 2011. Probably will go down as a rebound year. However, keep in mind it took 5 years after the 2007's record melt for the next record in 2012. There is an overall downward spiral in Arctic ice volume, area and extent in recent decades but year to year it is an undulating process. Best estimates for an ice free summer is 2015-2016.

"For me this is where climate change gets really scary. The potential for rapid, massive positive feedback is completely unknown."

If it were a movie it would be The Therminator.

From the NYT:

A Carbon Tax by Any Other Name

Nobody likes paying higher taxes. Even a cap-and-trade approach acts like a tax at the retail level, as the costs of the allocations are passed along to the consumer. This fact will be the downfall of any cap-and-trade or tax system, as the tax will raise prices throughout the economy, eventually loosing it's effectiveness as wages creep up as well. Thus the tax must increase faster than price inflation, which would not continue for long. Again, I suggest that a direct allocation system would be a better approach. Starting with oil, with the intent of addressing Peak Oil, eventually stretching to cover other fossil carbon resources as well.

E. Swanson

No, it would still have an effect. All energy wouldn't go up the same amount, so some economic decisions would make production and consumption less carbon intensive. This sound more like a propaganda argument (of which I expect we will see quite a few of).

Actually if James Hansen suggestion were followed for part of the carbon tax at least, directing it equally to all taxpayers, then it would be defended tooth and claw like mortgage deductions, Social Security and other govt redistribution to all. Citizens en masse would not want to lose their carbon tax rebate!

Unfortunately while that helps to equalize costs it would not help with needed public investment in a Green New Deal for Green Transit, insulation etc.
People would have a greater cost incentive for energy efficiency but would probably lack the capital unless there is redistribution from the banksters and polluters.

Fukushima nuclear clean-up to cost $58 bn

The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster could cost five times more than estimated, figures have revealed, as Tokyo Electric Power said on Wednesday that steam had been seen again in a reactor building.

The government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion), far more than the 1 trillion yen the government has so far allocated.

On Wednesday, TEPCO said workers had noticed steam around the fifth floor of the building [near the spent fuel pool] housing Reactor No. 3, which was wrecked by the tsunami of March 2011. It was the second time in two days and the third time in a week that steam had been observed.

More BS to cover the reality. Fukushima cannot be cleaned up, it is not "over" and is still ongoing.

Fukushima cannot be cleaned up, it is not "over" and is still ongoing.

You might not be kidding. If Japan manages to continue its oil imports, and power the clean-up, it'll one day after several score years be declared a memory - but we know that won't be the case. Japan has no fossil fuels - they can't even power a steam shovel on their own (well, they could burn charcoal - but my point is valid). The Fukushima site is so contaminated and screwed-up they're still experiencing criticality as the mox fuel bubbles away into the earth sinking further and further as it melts the soil around its seething, human and machine killing mass. It's not possible to devise a robot, for example, that's got enough shielding to permit it to get within a few feet of the pounding radiation without literally going berzerk! Ever heard of "skyshine"? That's the effect of radiation reflecting off air molecules bombarding those who dare get too close to the outside containment chamber because the ceilings were blown away. That's how serious this mess is - it's going to take decades for the radiation to fall to a level where any reasonable cleanup can be done - but until then, Japan will have to spray water from billions of Olympic-size pool equivalents onto the reactor cores and the ground onto which they leak to try and cool it down, and try and keep the resulting contaminated water from going any place else! The site is covered with humongous tanks of irradiated water and they're running out of room for more tanks - these are tanks you the average man can't afford a single one of with a years' income - and they've got thousands of them ... thousands of tanks with water sloshing in them waiting to be cleaned and returned to the sea or perhaps reused - but now - the water seeths with radiation from particles picked up when cooling the reactor cores.

One can't tell it enough - but Fukushima isn't even beginning to get cleaned up - in fact, it's dirtier than ever.

One can see these tanks, etc., at the Google Maps Fukushima accident log.

For scale, see the ball field at the lower left. Some of the comments show how clueless folks are (" They must get control of the reactors if they have any hope of rebuilding."). I recall how those of us who feared the worst were castigated when we suggested that, once the fuel, especially the MOX, went into meltdown, there could be no 'cleanup', only attempts at containment. I stand by that.

I wasn't kidding, and the specifics you've outlined are part of the reasons why. There's a good chance that the present steaming of unit 3 is due to the cores boiling underneath and the steam traveling back up the channels they cut on the way down. Cleaning it up is beyond our capability - we don't even understand what is happening there, and attaining a better understanding is being thwarted by all the lies and obfuscation.

It is highly unlikely further fissions are happening at anything like a self-sustaining criticality in Fukushima. If they were volatile radio-active fission fragments like 131I would continue to be emitted. This would be obvious to the many, many open source radiation monitoring projects undertaken in Japan even if you want to discount the official measurements.

That's a whole new level of too cheap to meter!

Cognitive performance of girls who walk to school is better than those who travel by bus or car

Cognitive performance of adolescent girls who walk to school is better than that of girls who travel by bus or car. Moreover, cognitive performance is also better in girls who take more than 15 minutes than in those who live closer and have a shorter walk to school.

We need moar public transport. Nobody should have to walk in this new era of prosperity.

I read an NY Times report of research showing that high school students who had a 1/2 hour of cardiovascular exercise prior to math class had improved math scores.

The diffrent parts of the body are connected. Who would guess?

A sound mind in a sound body. Seems like we figured this out a long time ago.

I'm looking forward to 'studies' on girls that don't go to school versus those who do. Although, aside from their being essentially forced to go to school, how would such a study be valid, and what of ethical considerations in such a study? Speaking of ethical considerations; how much time is actually devoted to the raising by the parents of their own children? And what are their children indoctrinated with in school, outside of their parents' control?

Building homes that make more power than they take

These "zero-net energy" homes will feature thick walls, solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling systems, meaning families should be able to generate more energy over a year than they consume.

The homes under construction 70 miles north of New York City have costly green features. But the builders believe they are in tune with consumers increasingly concerned about the environment and fuel costs.

And there are buyers here and around the nation willing to pay more for savings down the line.

Energy-Saving Light-Control Film That Automatically Controls Sunlight Transmission in Summer and Winter

This light-control film is based on the fact that there is a change in the incident angle of sunlight between summer and winter. The film blocks sunlight in summer by using total reflection but transmits it in winter. Unlike other light-control films, the film can control the transmission of direct sunlight while always allowing people inside to see the view outside the window. Without any inherent changes, the film automatically controls light transmission depending on the season. Light transmission can be controlled simply by attaching the film to an existing window. Therefore, if the film can be efficiently produced, it will save energy by substantially reducing cooling and heating loads.

Now, let's add a PV layer to that, and create energy at the same time!

I would even give away the "outside view" in favor of such.


The sun will reflect onto the street or the building across the road and overheat it instead. I foresee solar wars.

No sooner said than:


Law suit pending over reflected light!!!!


This is a nice, high-tech, completely unnecessary complication. The sun angle changes by 47 deg. from winter to summer (this is at solar noon; before and after, it's even more), so this effect of hugely reduced transmission in the summer is already well in effect for south windows in all the temperate latitudes where we need a difference between winter and summer.

As an example, I live at 37 deg. N latitude, so the sun angle from normal (90 deg) incidence is 29.5 degrees at solar noon on the winter solstice and 76.5 degrees at solar noon on the summer solstice. The difference in transmittance between 0 and 29.5 is virtually zero (full transmission, subject to the approximately 0.8 factor for double-pane glass); there is essentially zero transmittance at 76.5.

All of this comes at no additional cost; if you happen to live in an area where you need less transmittance when then sun is lower in the sky (such as at the autumnal equinox), there are always overhangs and deciduous trees. If you have large west windows, this new-fangled thing will help, but not solve the problem; a more effective and cheaper solution: grow some trees ! Don't buy a house that is on a North-South street; boycott them; they're not suitable for human habitation without massive inputs of energy.

We already have all the (simple) technology to live quite comfortably with close to zero energy inputs for heating/cooling in most places in the US, with the exception of places around the great lakes (cold and cloudy), and the Gulf coast (hot and humid).

I would envisage this sort of thing on multi-story office towers, and apartment buildings. Perhaps as retrofits. One solution doesn't fit all.

Of course trees are frustratingly slow, I'm stay waiting after four years. I get some shade from um, but only a fraction of whats needed, and it will be a few more years before it is decent.

Awnings and shade trees do not stop heat from conducting and infrared radiation from transmitting through the poorly insulating glass. Aluminum foil, insulated inserts, curtains and a few shade trees keep the light and heat outside of my windows.

IF it's not high tech, fuggedabout it.

Well said. Perhaps someone could develop a machine that deploys small shades in the summer, and withdraws them in the winter. We could mount them on tall poles and place them around the house. Eventually maybe we could invent nano-bots that would build the machines automatically.

I find it interesting that so many feel the need to develop new techniques that allow us to live on this alien planet. I wonder how the natives did it before we arrived?

"Perhaps someone could develop a machine that deploys small shades in the summer..."

They did. They're called pole beans. Other climbing annuals such as Morning Glories or vine tomatoes work well. Besides providing shade, the other advantages are obvious.

Well, I was trying to describe a tree, but that works too!

Vines grow much faster than trees. I do have some on my big west wall. And trees in the grass nearby. And there are a couple of big trees upsun in the neighbors yard. Her tree is growing about as fast as mine, so I see little shade benefit from my trees.... But the vines do add several square meters of shade for the wall.

Hmm - I will allow no vines to grow on my walls! Too many years spent working on houses I guess. It's actually a fair amount of work to keep them off the walls, and off the trees too. There are quite a few "new" vines that have shown up here in eastern PA in the last few years, and they are quite aggressive. Oriental bittersweet is one of them, but I don't yet recognize others.

I've been running twine from stakes in the ground to little hooks in the eaves to grow beans an other annual vines. I'm planning to make seasonal trellises of wooden frames and chicken wire; living panels to shade the house more in summer, store in the barn in winter. Our overhang (eaves) do a fine job of controlling seasonal insolation, except in the evening on the west side. The northwest corner of the master bedroom has a trellis with Confederate Jasmine located to shade afternoon summer sun but not in winter. This year, Virginia Creeper volunteered to shade the SW side of the living room, so I let it grow, but it's kind of invasive. I'll pull it down this fall. Looks like a jungle this year (47" of rain to date, and counting).

Simple options....

Vines that work by clinging, rather than wrapping around things are the problem. I'm using Bower vines, and Honeysuckle, which need things to wrap around. So you have to create something for them to hold onto.

I designed our house to maximize winter solar insolation and it runs east and west with lots of glass. Knowing this I also included an overhead/pergola on the south side or the house would be an oven. We've used wisteria with great success for close to 30 years. My only complaint about wisteria is that it grows like crazy so lots of pruning is necessary. Also, the blooms form long seed pods. I prune them off after bloom but it takes a lot of time.


For a second, I was wondering what kind of technology pole beans were. I formed an impression that the 'beans' might be slang for ball bearings that the poles might slide along, extending their lengths.

Well, I was trying to describe a tree, but that works too! ~ Twilight

Stop it, your technology's killing me. :D

Heat and storms: research helps suburban homes adapt to climate change

Professor Katie Williams from UWE led the research project, Sustainable Neighbourhood Adaptation for a Changing Climate (SNACC). She explains, "Over 80% of us in England live in suburbs and will experience more heat waves, storms and floods in the future.

"We studied six types of suburbs, with homes ranging from flats and terraced housing to new build and large detached homes, in Bristol, Stockport and Oxford.

"Homes most likely to overheat are in the middle of terraces, single storey homes or flats, those with large areas of glazing, especially skylights, and older homes with less insulation.

"Our research showed the government's energy-saving Green Deal scheme could lead to problems with overheating and this is now likely to be addressed in new guidance for Green Deal Assessors and to installers from the insulation industry."

Even easier in the tropics: just overbuild PV a bit and keep energy-efficient habits. So we generate an average 40kWh per day and use 20. We don't get paid for the difference, but it's nice to know we're lowering the amount of CO2 going into the air by twice our consumption level. Why not?

Well done, sir, well done. I've contemplated doing the same thing, but I would need to expand my current 3.2 kW array to about 6 kW just to break even now that I have an electric car. And given that I'd like to get another plug-in vehicle, I'll need about 8 kW to break even at that point.

Getting that much solar would mean I would have to upgrade my main electrical panel and probably the underground feed, which means trenching, which really adds to the cost, but it would be really nice to flood the neighborhood with PV generated electricity during the day...

I thought this article was interesting.

Five years ago the nuclear energy industry looked set for its first run of serious growth since the late 1970s, when the Three Mile Island disaster put the brakes on reactor expansion in the U.S. In 2008, Congress authorized $18 billion in federal loan guarantees for plant construction. Utilities submitted 24 applications by the end of that year, anticipating that lawmakers would eventually put a price on carbon with a cap-and-trade bill that would make coal-fired plants less profitable. In 2007 and 2008, the price of the nuclear industry’s two biggest competing sources of power, coal and natural gas, skyrocketed as part of a global rally in commodity prices.

That optimism has given way to despair. Four reactors have closed so far in 2013—a record for the industry. Because of the shale energy boom, natural gas prices crashed, followed by coal. Electricity demand fell during the recession and has yet to regain its 2007 peak. Bolstered by billions of dollars in green energy subsidies in the 2009 stimulus package, renewables, especially wind, have come on faster than many anticipated. Cap and trade never happened. And Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 reminded the world just how dangerous nuclear power can be.

But they have loan guarantees which gives them what they really want.

Colorado releases draft drought mitigation plan

DENVER - The state of Colorado has made its DRAFT Drought Mitigation and Response Plan available for public comment.

The plan includes an updated assessment of areas that would be most vulnerable to loss and damage due to drought, plus a revised response framework.

Nearly all of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, which shows southeast Colorado experiencing exceptional drought.

As Texas drought spreads, firms could be up the creek – ‘If you don’t have an active water management plan in place, you're courting disaster’

"As the drought continues, industry's eyes are opening," said Jordan Furnans, senior engineer at INTERA, a Texas-based geosciences and engineering firm. Those eyes are opening to discover that more dry years are coming, he said.

There's a desperate need for water to fuel industrial, chemical, and energy operations in some parts of Texas. "If plants shut down, they're losing millions of dollars per day," Furnans said.

Ecological study discovers impact of the great drought on forests

Ecologists from the University of Stirling and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee studied the great drought of 1976 which saw plagues of ladybirds, a Drought Bill, and cries to 'save water: bath with a friend'.

Their findings, published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, found that it caused permanent changes to our forests. Extreme events like droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, causing major damage to plants and animals, but are difficult to study due to their rarity

Deforestation spikes in Brazil over last year: group

Deforestation has soared in the Brazilian Amazon since a new forestry code was passed last year at the urging of the agribusiness lobby, a non-profit environmental group said Thursday.

Arctic’s Boreal Forests Burning At ‘Unprecedented’ Rate

Gazprom could get Arctic shelf sites by end of 2013

Gazprom, the world’s largest extractor of natural gas, may get access to areas of the Arctic shelf as soon as the end of 2013, according to a statement from the Russian Minister of Natural Resources.

A government decree awarded Gazprom 17 offshore sites in the Barents and Kara Seas. The company applied for 20 fields.

Only state-owned companies are certified to hold Arctic explorations licenses. Gazprom and Rosneft are officially the only companies with the right to explore the Russian Arctic shelf, as they both received exclusive extraction licenses in return for large cash payments.

Both Gazprom and Rosneft will provide back-door opportunities for western companies to gain access to the Arctic shelf, as Russia has much more lax environmental standards and regulations. Gazprom has already teamed up with Total, and Rosneft has been in talks with Norway’s Statoil and Shell.

I highly recommend Peak oil isn’t dead; it just smells that way, above. Chris Nelder lays it out quite well. He explains many things, and why the MSM will never grok peak oil any more than I'll get a good grasp on quantum physics. Leading up to his conclusion:

But my bet is that U.S. and European consumers can’t tolerate significantly higher prices. Price tolerance is something that Cornucopians never talk about, so you won’t hear that argument from them. If I am correct on that point, then production will have to decline as prices become intolerable. By virtue of its upward pressure on price, unconventional oil production contributes to, not cures, peak oil.

I expect world oil production to rise, weakly, for another two years or so, as America falls into a deeper slumber believing that fracking has cured everything. The media will reinforce that belief. And when it comes, the wake-up call is going to be harsh. In the meantime we’re just going to be waiting for the punchline.

So to those who can grasp the data, here’s my final thought: How will you prepare yourself for The Great Contraction? You’ve got perhaps two good years left of business as usual, and maybe another three or four after that before things really get difficult.

This pretty much sums up my assessment and primary motivation. Get thee to the discretionary side...

Yeah, Chris Nelder always produces good pragmatic analysis. Sadly, his data-driven conclusions won't get the wider distribution as the story people WANT to hear. Fox News is the model for the modern news industry . . . provide the news that people WANT TO HEAR since that is much more profitable than producing accurate neutral news. (Who sits around and views cable news all day? Old retired white people . . . so provide them with the type of new that old retired white people want to hear.)

Thanks, all.

"media companies need to give people the news they want." - Rupert Murdoch, WSJ, 12/8/09. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870410710457457019122341526...

This pretty much sums up my assessment and primary motivation. Get thee to the non discretionary side...I'm pretty sure that's what you really meant and I hear you loud and clear!

Alan from the islands

Thanks for the correction, Alan. About the time I posted that, the Sherrif came to the door (always a cause of sphinctergripperitis) looking for some guy that worked for me 8 years ago. 8 years? Didn't say why. At least he didn't say "you've been served" or somesuch.

This is the point the Steve from Virginian has been hammering on for some time - We're only a couple of years out from when the price is not high enough to keep producing these "new" expensive sources, but too high for the economy to handle.

Agreed. This should be locked on the home page of theoildrum when it shuts down.

Wonderful article, I am going to make a copy and nail it to my wall. I also have a copy of "2052 A Global Forecast for the next forty years". Let's see if it survives till 2052.

A Republican Secretary of State Urges Action on Climate Change

Scientific American sat down with the 92-year-old former Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, George Shultz to discuss what can be done to combat climate change in the present political environment. The interview was held at his home in the hills above Stanford, which boast solar panels and his electric vehicle—a Nissan LEAF—in the garage.

- Your long career in government was often focused on protecting the U.S. How will climate change affect national security?

I think in the energy area, we have to be constantly aware of three big objectives. Number one: we have to think of energy as a strategic commodity that is very important to our national security. Number two: we have to recognize that energy is the engine of the economy, so we want inexpensive, reliable, consistent energy. And number three: we have to recognize that energy produces pollutants as it burns, so it affects our environment. It affects the air we breathe; it affects the climate we create. So we have these three issues to keep in mind all the time, and you can't just do one or the other, but you've got to work on them all at the same time.

... on a lot of these issues, time is not on your side because [environmental problems] can get, if not beyond repair, increasingly hard to repair.

I also worry about discontinuities.

... I have four great-grandchildren.

It's fun to have little babies around again, but you look at these little kids and they're so full of vitality and curiosity and so much fun in them. You can't help but ask yourself: What kind of a world are they going to inherit, and what can I dredge out of my experience that might be put into place to help make it a little better?

Well George . . . you helped create the monster. Now they just look at you as a senile RINO that has gone all squishy.

Yeah he did. From Wikipedia:

Domestically Shultz enacted the next phase of the NEP, lifting price controls begun in 1971. This phase was a failure, resulting in high inflation, and price freezes were reestablished five months later.[8]

Meanwhile Shultz's attention was increasingly diverted from the domestic economy to the international arena. He participated in an international monetary conference in Paris in 1973, which grew out of the 1971 decision to abolish the gold standard, a decision that Shultz and Paul Volcker had supported (see Nixon Shock). The conference formally abolished the Bretton Woods system, thereby causing all currencies to float. During this period Shultz co-founded the "Library Group," which became the G7. Shultz resigned shortly before Nixon to return to private life.[8]

 photo US-debt-1791-2010v01_zps1a5e697b.jpg

Common for the elderly to regret poor decisions. It's called getting religion.

And number three: we have to recognize that energy produces pollutants as it burns, so it affects our environment. It affects the air we breathe; it affects the climate we create.

'ENERGY'(the capacity to perform work) does nothing of the sort! Though expecting a 92 year old former secretary of state to actually be able to discern between energy dense fossil fuels and 'ENERGY' is probably a bit too much to ask at this particular juncture. >:-(

Yet we must give credit where credit is due, he also says this!

You've got solar panels on your home. Why did you do that?

I figure I've got to walk the talk. They've been on [the roof] for about six years. I have a little chart that has my electricity bill before and after, and if I take the amount of money I've now saved, I've paid for the panels plus the opportunity cost of that money. I also have an electric car. I drive it around campus and around town. I don't have any range anxiety.

You have no range anxiety whatsoever with your electric car?

Well, I don't take it for long distances. Most of the driving everybody does is around where they live. And I have a charging device in my garage so I figure I'm driving on sunshine, and it's free. It doesn't cost me anything, so I kind of like it.

Actually Mr Secretary, guess what? You're driving on 'ENERGY'!

He says...."And I have a charging device in my garage so I figure I'm driving on sunshine, and it's free. It doesn't cost me anything, so I kind of like it".........The little bit everyone misses......"it doesn't cost ME anything".

We can drive all the electric cars we like or power our homes with solar panels....we THINK it doesn't cost us anything. This is where dissonance is apparently beyond defeat. Of course we can't simply drop our use of energy, it's impossible but we could at least acknowledge what the problem is. There is a good book to read "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)" By Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris.

Some of us could adapt to drinking sea water and reduce our freshwater usage and we think "its free, it doesn't cost me anything". Think the big picture though, we are adding 70 odd million people to the planet annually and all we are doing is making room for them, we are encouraging and abetting BAU. And we know the consequences of prolonging BAU.......don't we? Probably not I'm thinking.

Unless we directly offset the CO2 emissions we "save" by sequestering or fencing off an equivalent amount of FF's all we are doing is making CO2 emissions available to others that don't have the means or will to "save". Jevons is alive and well, Joe down the road will always use that what the conscientious "green" person leaves available. If there is a buck to be made, advantage to be had or simply outright necessity and desperation to feed a family, any pretenses to "saving the planet" WILL BE dropped and justified.

So this is what is NOT going to happen.
*The burning be actively prevented or positively offset with sequestration.
*An admission that "green" or "sustainable" energy use (in isolation) does nothing more than extend the notion of BAU and therefor the extended use of FF's.

Dissonance is endemic and pervasive, the vast majority of TOD readers suffer from it and don't even know it. In one post someone will comment on or acknowledge over-population, pollution or resource depletion and in the next talk about how manufacturing, selling and buying EV's or hybrid vehicles is good. The same for electric trains, windmills, solar farms etc......anything it seems to keep the lights on and prevent hardship, better to kick the can than actually suffer oneself, not now...maybe later, there is always later.

There is and old proverb......."It is best to dig the well before you are thirsty".
I think the planet is going to get very thirsty before we begin digging.

There is no "baby steps" to cure several thousand years of ecological and environmental destruction. The mostly irreversible damage was done as we ran the population up to 7 billion. Imagine the damage as 7 billion and rising continue to ravage the oceans, rivers, lakes and forests. The time for baby steps passed over sixty years ago, that is when reductions should have commenced in earnest. By now we may have been able to see positive results.

A good point.

Dissonance is endemic and pervasive, the vast majority of TOD readers suffer from it and don't even know it. In one post someone will comment on or acknowledge over-population, pollution or resource depletion and in the next talk about how manufacturing, selling and buying EV's or hybrid vehicles is good. The same for electric trains, windmills, solar farms etc......anything it seems to keep the lights on and prevent hardship, better to kick the can than actually suffer oneself, not now...maybe later, there is always later.

Not really! I think most TOD readers actually get it. Do any of us relish the fact that things look pretty bad for the human race, I doubt it. I don't think anyone here thinks BAU will continue for any length of time. Will EV's solar, wind trains, less consumption, etc... save all of humanity? Nope, but right now for most of us I don't think we are contemplating suicide just yet. So we plod on.

0. The power to transcend paradigms.

Sorry, but to be truthful and complete, I have to add this kicker.
The highest leverage of all is to keep oneself unattached in the arena of
paradigms, to realize that NO paradigm is"true," that even the one that sweetly
shapes one's comfortable worldview is a tremendously limited understanding of
an immense and amazing universe.

It is to "get" at a gut level the paradigm that there are paradigms, and to see that
that itself is a paradigm, and to regard that whole realization as devastatingly
funny. It is to let go into Not Knowing. People who cling to paradigms (just about
all of us) take one look at the spacious possibility that everything we think is
guaranteed to be nonsense and pedal rapidly in the opposite direction. Surely there
is no power, no control, not even a reason for being, much less acting, in the
experience that there is no certainty in any worldview. But everyone who has managed
to entertain that idea, for a moment or for a lifetime, has found it a basis for radical

If no paradigm is right, you can choose one that will help achieve your purpose. If you
have no idea where to get a purpose, you can listen to the universe (or put in the
name of your favorite deity here) and do his, her, its will, which is a lot better
informed than your will

It is in the space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live
in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or
crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.
Back from the sublime to the ridiculous, from enlightenment to caveats.

Places to Intervene in a System
By Donella H. Meadows

Voters think Republican climate dissenters are ‘ignorant, out of touch or crazy,’ bipartisan poll finds

The poll, a joint effort by the Democratic firm Benenson Strategy Group and the Republican firm GS Strategy Group, could provide further evidence to a small group of moderate Republicans – mainly retired from politics – who have been trying to nudge the party to engage with the issue of climate change.

A few former Republican members of Congress – and an anonymous congressional aide – have publicly warned the party will lose voters, especially among the young, if it is seen as anti-science.

So I should expect that the next congressional election will throw the Tea Party out of Congress. I'm not holding my breath. They will find some excuse to vote for the party they always have.

I am so going to miss this site. Where else will I be able to learn about what's going on in the world?


Where else will I be able to learn about what's going on in the world?

You can always try the WSJ...

Natural gas rig explodes, partially collapses in Gulf. How big a disaster?

The cause of the blowout and the fire remain unknown, although questions are being raised about whether there was a problem with the rig's blowout preventers, the safety equipment that is meant to shut off out-of-control oil and gas wells.

A spokesman for the rig's owner, Walter Oil & Gas, "initially said the blowout preventer appeared to have failed, but the company later said it was still investigating the incident and wouldn't know the cause of the blowout, or why the well continued to flow, for some time," reported The Wall Street Journal.

Conflicting reports suggest it's unclear how long it will take to contain the blaze or stop the leak. Two firefighting vessels that were in the area pulled away from the rig after it collapsed and a third firefighting ship is en route, BSEE said.

More info and update as of about 2?45 p.m.


It's oil. No, it's not oil, it's gas. Nice photo of fire. 'nother rig coming for relief well.

Let it burn. That reduces oil dumped in the gulf and reduces strong greenhouses like Methane.

At least the "sheen" is dissipating, at least according to WaPo. We don't 'officially' know the location of the well, other than about 150 mi. south from Louisiana. Projection is about 25 days +/- before the relief well is able to stop the flow.

Deep water drilling... what could possibly go wrong?


Craig, It's only 55 miles off shore, according to the nola.com report -- and the picture shows the platform standing high in the air on BIG LEGS. Is that what they call a "jack-up" rig? Anyway, the article says they are sending a jack-up rig out to drill a relief well. So I guess the water isn't all that deep there, The "deepwater" rigs float and are "sailed" like ships (like the Deepwater Horizon), aren't they?

I sure am gonna miss y'all.


How China’s Shenhua group is plundering water supplies

A major Chinese state-owned coal producer has caused "drastic drops" in groundwater near one of its projects, the environmental group Greenpeace said in a report.

Lakes have shrunk, wells have dried and sand dunes are spreading near a plant in Inner Mongolia run by coal conglomerate Shenhua Group, the organisation said on Tuesday.

It called the project a "classic example of the unchecked expansion of coal-reliant industries that is in growing conflict with China's water resources

Time to Decide: Concentrated, Privatized Wealth or Shared Prosperity and Economic Democracy

Journalist Ted Koppel summarized the privatization trend: “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another…. We’ve privatized a lot of what our military is doing. We’ve privatized a lot of what our intelligence agencies are doing. We’ve privatized our very prison system in many parts of the country. We’re privatizing the health system within those prisons. And it’s not working well.”

... At its root, privatization is about profit for a few at the expense of the many – the workers and people who need the services. How do they sell this scheme to the public?

One key is self-created money scarcity – which should not even be an issue. We say that money scarcity should not be an issue because Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) demonstrates that government has the power to create money. Money scarcity is a driving force, as a chairman of a major finance company said at a privatization conference, “Desperate government is our best customer. There will be a lot of desperate governments out there.”

... The alternative, also growing rapidly albeit more quietly without corporate media coverage, is economic democracy. This is based on new models that give people greater control over their economic lives, share wealth in an egalitarian way and allow people to have more influence over the direction of the economy.

Economic Democracy Conference

... What is the next evolution of the U.S. economy? How can it be reshaped so that people gain greater control of their lives and greater influence over the economy? Democratizing the economy would move the United States away from crony capitalism and create an economy where wealth is more equitably shared. People are already putting in place programs that democratize the economy, giving them greater influence and control over their economic lives.

The Economic Democracy Conference will bring together people who are working on the front lines to:

- The Emerging Shape of the Next System
- Why Are We in Debt? What Are Our True Debts to One Another?
- Models for Permanently Affordable Housing: Community Land Trusts and Co-ops
- How to Stop the World's Largest 'Trade Agreement'
- Rethinking Money
- Essential Information for Starting a Public Bank
- Creating Publicly-Owned Renewable Energy
- Nuts and Bolts of Co-operative Businesses: How to Empower Workers and Keep Wealth in the Community
- Enacting an Ecologically Sound Economy: Beyond Dirty Fuels and False Solutions

seraph, are you going to be posting your news items anywhere else after tod closes? if so, where, and under what name? I will seriously miss leanan's and your contribution to creating a well edited news feed collection.

Yeah, I wish Leanan and Seraph would get together and continue a Drumbeat-like blog somewhere. These links have been my primary daily newssource and I'm going to miss them so much.

CHARLIE MUNGER: Energy Independence Is A Dumb Idea

If energy independence was such a good thing, let’s just imagine that we go back to 1930 or something like that and we were hell bent to have total energy independence from all the foreigners. And we just drill and use every technique we can and we produce our hydrocarbon reserves which are absolutely certain to be limited.

Well, by now have way less in reserve and are way less energy independent. In trying to get energy independence we would have destroyed our safety stock of oil within our own borders.

Oil and gas are absolutely certain to become incredibly short and very high priced.

Energy independence, if we don't reduce our usage, is a dumb idea, for the reasons he said. However, the "dumb" part of that is that we don't reduce our usage; energy independence due to reduced usage is a great idea.

In trying to get energy independence we would have destroyed our safety stock of oil within our own borders.

That's exactly the point I made when writing to Hon. Cathy McMorris, my region's Senator - in response to her support of the Keystone XL pipeline. I posited that rather than thinking in the short term, it's important that the Keystone XL pipeline iS NOT completed so that we don't end up just flushing our (Canadian, yes, but really all of ours) reserves out to the rest of the world. I explained the irony of Iran - how due to the sanctions against them, that they may well end up being "the last man standing," and not us.

I never heard from McMorris. She probably laughed if she read my message at all. She won't be laughing when the undulating plateau begins to shark-fin, now, will she?

PS . In a way, the best course for action is to import oil for ALL our needs from overseas, and shut down domestic and Canadian production while managing to weasel it out of the producers (Saudi, etc.) with our debt tinged dollars so when the day that shall pass soon arrives, that the Saudis and Russians are pulling up water, we'll be able to manage the North American / South American continents' collapse and perhaps save something meaningful.


Greetings from Kettle Falls. Slight correction:

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is our US Congressperson.

Our US Senators are Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. You might have better luck with them.


I know with great certainty that commodity price manipulation by the Big Banks is far worse than the fairly surfacy stuff I can see.

And why don't I need to be "fair" to Big Bankers and those trading commodities at the Big Banks? Because I know how humans behave generally, and I also know that among humans, commodity traders at Goldman Sachs and other "investment banks" are the scum of the Earth. Those assholes would run over their own grandmother to make a buck. They belong in the 4th circle (for the greedy) of Dante's Inferno.

And because I know about these humans, it is easy to imagine how the Federal Reserve, in 2003, "decided" that there was little risk to consumers or markets if the banks were allowed to own the commodities themselves. How it was that central bankers rationalized that particular decision is of no interest to me. If humans are unable to see the obvious dangers of scumbags at the Big Banks trading in markets in which they own substantial assets, I can not help them. It's a no-brainer, literally.

Video of blow-out off Louisiana from over-flight. Taken before the rig caught fire. That looks a lot of gas to me.


Rig fire in Gulf may burn for 2 months, officials say

A drilling rig that caught fire late Tuesday after a natural gas well blew out about 55 miles off the coast of Grand Isle could continue to burn in the Gulf for several weeks while response crews work to permanently shut in the well, an energy expert said Wednesday.

...“It’s always a big deal if it’s your well, or your rig,” said Smith. “I think this one is a far smaller problem, if you will, than the Macondo well.”

One striking similarity: The apparent failure of the blowout preventer. Smith said he was “a little bit confused” about why the equipment didn’t work.

Smith believes that the rig crew “hit a high-pressure gas pocket, and the mud weight they were using for the drilling completion wasn’t adequate to contain the pressure.”

If Rockman was still here, I'm sure he'd have a lot to say on that!

Sounds like this problem is escalating. The rig floor ....

Rockman has started a forum thread http://peakoil.com/forums/blow-out-t68523.html

And Oily Stuff answered my question:

The first thing people will want to know is how do these things ignite and this video will answer that clearly. Downwind notice the rocks (chunks of cement?) hitting the water. Those solids are passing thru the RT all the way up thru the derrick over the crown and clanging against iron causing sparks and ultimately ignition. I have seen rocks blowing up thru the derrick the size of bowling balls.

"Smith believes that the rig crew “hit a high-pressure gas pocket, and the mud weight they were using for the drilling completion wasn’t adequate to contain the pressure.”

You can see a lot of stuff splashing into the sea at 0:42. What might that be?

Parts from the first failed Junk-shot? remember?
-- or more likely(?) associated gases condensing into liquids/solids at 1ATM

Drilling mud, sand, gravel from the bottom of the drill string?

Yeah they have a mess on their hands on that well. The group that drilled that well are some of the worst players in the GOM. They should have never been given a permit to drill after Macondo. I've worked for them for years and I had to "stop work" due to various well control and safety issues on more than a few occasions. I went looking to see is Rockman had any comments on Peak oil news and it doesn't look like he's talking about it.

I noticed the only image I saw of the rig burning was taken from a surface vessel... I'm going to assume that the FAA turned local air traffic control over to the offending company, as has been the case with BP's Macondo and Exxon's Arkansas pipeline spill.
Chapter One in the oil company disaster playbook is all about gaining control of the story. They've also been known to hire local cops to keep press photographers away at ground level.
Information warfare 101...

Flow of gas from damaged Gulf well stops, fire on rig nearly out, officials say

Natural gas has stopped flowing from a damaged oil well off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Thursday.

The fire aboard a drilling rig located in 154 feet of water 60 miles southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana, is also nearly out, the agency said. What remains is a small flame "fueled by residual gas at the top of the well," it said.

The well was stopped up naturally by sediment and sand that flowed into it, the BSEE said. It was not immediately clear what steps would now be taken to secure the well.

... situation could change suddenly

here's ROCKMAN, et.al take on it ...Blow Out

Critic Of Offshore Drilling Safety Regulation Helps Run Company That Owns Failed Natural Gas Rig

The executive VP of a company that owns an offshore natural gas rig that suffered a blowout Tuesday is an active critic of stronger offshore drilling regulations. Though federal officials confirmed the gas flow had stopped on Thursday morning, the accident raises serious concerns about the safety improvements taken since the disaster caused by a blowout three years ago aboard the Deepwater Horizon.

Hercules Offshore’s executive VP is Jim Noe. Noe is also executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, which said on the three-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

The continued, even perpetual, regulatory uncertainty limits long-term business confidence. It also reflects a fundamental misconception: that any new regulation makes things safer than they were before, even if we haven’t fully analyzed the effectiveness of previous regulations. Spending too much time complying with new and ever changing regulations can distract us from ensuring that industry is focusing on holistic and practical risk management.

So what? Nowhere near 1973.

So what? Nowhere near 1973.

If I had told everyone here, 3 or 4 years ago, that US oil production would exceed 7.5 million bpd in mid-2013, I would have been laughed at as a Cornucopian fantasist. Now that it's actually happening, the latest excuse is that it hasn't reached the 1973 peak. If it does reach the 1973 peak, it will be fun to see what the excuse will be then.

I still say you're a Cornucopian fantasist.

If I had told everyone here, 3 or 4 years ago, that US oil production would exceed 7.5 million bpd in mid-2013, I would have been laughed at as a Cornucopian fantasist.

Meh. If in 2000 said that oil will cost 5 times as much as it costs today and and world wide production will only go up a few percent, you'd say I was pretty pessimistic. But that is also exactly what happened.

Meh. If in 2000 said that oil will cost 5 times as much as it costs today and and world wide production will only go up a few percent, you'd say I was pretty pessimistic.

But that is not what anyone in the peak oil movement was predicting in 2000! Back then, the big peak oil website, was the "die off" website, which was predicting something rather different.

Also, the major peak oil predictions from the early 2000s were predicting an absolute decline of all liquid hydrocarbons, of about 2% per year, starting around 2005. Within the peak oil movement, there wasn't even a single source--not one--which claimed that worldwide oil production would continue increasing into 2013. The most optimistic peak oil projections showed absolute decline of all liquid hydrocarbons, starting in the late 2000's. The least optimistic (and far more numerous) peak oil predictions showed a speedy collapse of civilization to a pre-industrial state. None of that has happened. Even the most optimistic projections, were still quite wrong.

-Tom P

The only error that the "peak oil movement" has made was to underestimate the will of the system to get more oil out of the ground. I guess nobody expected that we will be willing to sacrifice large parts of our society, just to get a few more barrels of oil. Because that's what's happening right now. Those increases in production are not cheap, they are extremely expensive, and only made possible by a constantly rising input of energy and resources. Resources that are being taken away from other parts of society, while those parts are being destroyed.

There really wasn't any peak oil movement in 2000 . . . just a few souls. And with any group, the views actually vary widely. There are peak doomers and there are peak optimists that believe peak will happen but other technology will cover for it. I think your claiming the peak oil movement is made up of the peak doomers is just plain wrong.

Even the major oil companies and CERA are 'peakists' . . . they just predicted a peak starting in 2030 or so. They also predicted prices in the $30/barrel range for today.

So were the hardcore peak doomers right? No. Were the optimists right? No. This is one of the case where the truth was in the middle. Was there world-wide collapse? No. But have things been just business as usual? No. Since 2007 we've been in a world-wide economic stagnation . . . higher oil prices definitely contributed heavily to that. And we've had lots of instability . . . and to no surprise, much of it is in oil exporting or former-exporting nations.

Is using up all your oil stocks to be "independent" for a few years really the way to go?

It is called the "Drain America First Policy". And apparently most of the political class is in support of that as a policy. It is what happens when your only time frame is the next election.

US population has increased more than 100 million since 1973. That translates to falling per capita abundance as does the high price of gasoline

US population has increased more than 100 million since 1973. That translates to falling per capita abundance as does the high price of gasoline

And during that same time, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per capita has risen from $26,281 to $48,282 (source). Which translates to, falling per capita consumption of oil and rising gasoline prices hasn't meant squat to the ability of Americans to increase their standard of living.

All of that increase has gone to the top 10% of the income distribution, half of it to the top 0.1%. This is entirely imported wealth from financial transactions. Median US incomes have fallen. The rich have got fabulously more wealthy, People who use most of the oil have got poorer.

"...hasn't meant squat to the ability of Americans to increase their standard of living." ...ignores so many things I'm not sure it warrants a response.

One of the many things ignored: Mr. Abundance did not say which Americans were able to increase their standard of living. Certainly not the "great" middle class that is held up by American Capitalists as the engine of job creation... which also explains why the last two "recoveries" have been jobless.


All of that increase has gone to the top 10% of the income distribution, half of it to the top 0.1%. This is entirely imported wealth from financial transactions. Median US incomes have fallen. The rich have got fabulously more wealthy, People who use most of the oil have got poorer.


In other words, America’s “middle class” did start largely disappearing in the 1970s, but it was because they were moving up to a higher-income category, not down into a lower-income category. And that movement was so significant that between 1967 and 2009, the share of American families earning incomes above $75,000 more than doubled, from 16.3% to 39.1%.

And if you don't believe that, ask yourself this: Why is there so much of this all over the country? A nation in which people living in housing like this is the rule rather than the exception, is not one suffering from the effects of low oil-per-capita supplies and high gasoline prices.

The mistake Peak Oilers made was thinking the US economy would collapse if the price of oil remained over $100 per barrel for an extended length of time.

They didn't realize Mr Bernanke was prepared to go $16 trillion into debt to maintain the illusion of BAU.

It would be a bigger mistake to think that Mr Bernanke's actions have succeeded. The world economy is collapsing due to high oil prices, just be a little patient.

That's kind of what I meant. We're in Wile E. Coyote territory.

There is more to it than that. The peak oilers did not sufficiently appreciate the growth of new supplies of higher-priced oil. As oil prices went from $20s/barrel to $80s/barrel, that really did open up a whole host of new previously uneconomic oil. Deepwater oil, more EOR, hydrofractured shale, conventional tar sands, SAGD tar sands, more heavy oil recovery, etc.

So What?! That means that the theories of the peak oil movement have all been wrong! Everything about Hubbert curves, creaming curves, decline rates, the unworkability of unconventional oil--all wrong. All of Colin Campbell's predictions, for example, have been wrong. All of the projections from ASPO, have been wrong.

The peak oil movement wasn't just claiming that oil production would never again reach its 1973 peak in the US. The peak oil movement was claiming that oil production COULD NOT INCREASE at all, that oil production in any region would follow a bell-shaped curve, and that global production of ALL liquid hydrocarbons would decline absolutely, by about 2% per year, starting in 2005 or so. The peak oil movement claimed that ALL these things (hubbert curves, etc) were like laws of physics, but then the predictions all failed!

Bear in mind that I am referring to the more sober elements of the peak oil movement. I won't bother revisiting all of the many predictions of the collapse of civilization, the collapse of international trade, worldwide die-off to 1.5 billion people, the natural gas cliff, the "Olduvai Gorge", and so on.

I don't see how you can say "so what". You're treating it like it's nothing, but it seems pretty major to me.

-Tom P

Never really thought of peak oil as a "movement". An understanding/awareness perhaps, but hardly a gather-round-the-campfire kind of affair.

Yeah, Tom is just building strawmen. I've seen everything considered from BAU continuing to total collapse. His point seems to be that it shouldn't have been discussed at all. I've always said that humans will continue to burn pretty much everything they can. Declaring victory or defeat for one set of predictions or another is pretty childish when considered in the context that, either way, we've all already lost. Only in ignoring that can folks like Tom relish the idea that 'peak oilers' didn't get it quite right.

Using the latest EIA data, GNE and ANE, as defined above, were respectively at 96% and 86% (of 2005 values) in 2012.

Regarding the following:

The peak oil movement wasn't just claiming that oil production would never again reach its 1973 peak in the US. The peak oil movement was claiming that oil production COULD NOT INCREASE at all, that oil production in any region would follow a bell-shaped curve, and that global production of ALL liquid hydrocarbons would decline absolutely, by about 2% per year, starting in 2005 or so. The peak oil movement claimed that ALL these things (hubbert curves, etc) were like laws of physics, but then the predictions all failed!

The (so far) peak in US crude oil production (EIA, C+C) was in 1970, at 9.6 mbpd. Since 1970, we have seen an "Undulating Decline" pattern in US crude oil production, as new sources of oil have come on line, and then peaked and declined, e.g., the North Slope of Alaska. Using, IMO, a conservative estimate of 10%/year for the decline rate for existing US oil production would mean that the industry would have to replace 100% of current oil production over the next 10 years, in order to just maintain current production.

If the Peak Oil "Theory" is dead, what's the alternative theory, that the sum of discrete sources of oil that peak and decline, e.g., the North Slope of Alaska, will show a perpetual increase in production?

In any case, at least through 2012, the dominant global pattern that we have seen is that developed net oil importing countries like the US were gradually being shut out of the global market for exported oil via price rationing, as developing countries, led by China, consumed an increasing share of a post-2005 declining volume of GNE.

Just for the record, I think your argument is a logical fallacy.

Just because the predictions are wrong today, doesn't mean they will always be wrong.

Time, over the long run, will tell.

For my part, I dismissed the more radical prognositcations some time ago. That said, I can see no reason whatsoever to believe that oil production rates will continue to grow forever. It's just not possible so far as I can see. The last 8 years worth of crude oil production growth has been pitifully small. So little growth as to be basically zero. In the meantime, 560 million humans have been born into the world. The human species is not winning the race.

This is to say nothing of the fact that 20% of the American population is on food stamps, and will continue to be for awhile yet, as economic growth and jobs have yet to really recover from 2008.

Cracks are beginning to show. Whether they're all due to peak oil, no one knows, but I doubt that peak oil has nothing to do with all the things going on. The lack of growth in oil supply is going to show up somewhere in the system, and I think it's fair to say that it has.

Time shall tell. It always does.

From Chris Nelder's article "Peak Oil Isn't Dead; It Just Smells that Way" at SmallPlanet

. . . Since 2003, who forecast the global repricing of oil best, the peakists who expected prices to spike into record territory, or the Cornucopians who consistently predicted that oil prices would return to historical levels? The answer is indisputable: the peakists.

For the past decade, the Cornucopians have told us that a new abundance was coming from deepwater oil, tar sands, enhanced oil recovery, biofuels, and other unconventional sources. Global oil production would rise to 120 million barrels per day, and prices would fall back to $20 or $30 per barrel. Those stories were all completely wrong. The peakists called it.

Here’s what happened: Oil repriced in response to scarcity. Triple-digit prices were responsible for the new flush of unconventional production. That production, including fracking for tight oil in the United States, raises prices, it doesn’t lower them. We’ve hit and fallen back from the consumer’s price tolerance repeatedly for the past six years.

If we do go back, we have to compare Ghawar to Ghawar, Colonel Drake's well to Colonel Drake's well and not mask the declines with output from the Bakken, Eagle Ford, and other sources. I can see where someone like Russian and us would have a second maxima. Whether it is higher or lower than the first is irrelevant to the fact that resources diminish over time. Name calling does not change the situation. Now where is that stewart with my Titanic tea and who is going to clean up all this cold water on the floor???? I'm going to have to write a letter to the CEO of the White Star Lines!!!!! ***Intolerable...***

I came across these two podcast interviews. The first is a recent interview with Nicole Foss. In this interview she differentiates between Shale Oil and Oil Shale and she is the first person I have heard to differentiate between the two. One contains oil in tight formations and the other contains a waxy substance called Kerogen (“Rock that burns”).

The second is a Charlie Rose interview with Jeremy Grantham. Mr. Grantham likes to crank the numbers with respect to costs and financing. He has called a number of bubbles before they have burst. His perspectives are interesting on the way GDP is calculated and other issues. Anyway, here are the URLs:

Here is the Nicole Foss interview link:

Here is the Jeremy Grantham interview link:


By the way, the past two months I have been a net electrical energy exporter with minor surpluses of 74 and 41 kwhrs. Averaging over the past 3 months we have been a net energy exporter. While I do not expect this to continue into the winter months, the surplus is heartening.

Part of this can be attributed to conservation by using Cree LED light bulbs (available from Home Depot exclusively) and reinstalling fallen installation. The other part due to the installation of solar hot water and a photovoltaic array. Mr. Grantham’s interview relates to this.

We have planted vegetables and a couple of fruit trees but we may evolve into squirrel stew and venison providers…


Shale oil and oil shale were discussed by Walter Youngquist in the Hubbert Center Newsletter 1998 #4. See also the Youngquist book GeoDestinies

The first is a recent interview with Nicole Foss. In this interview she differentiates between Shale Oil and Oil Shale and she is the first person I have heard to differentiate between the two. One contains oil in tight formations and the other contains a waxy substance called Kerogen (“Rock that burns”).

Hi Peter, I think if you type the terms Shale Oil, Oil Shale and Kerogen into the search engine located in the upper left hand corner of the TOD page, you will discover, that all of these terms and topics have been extensively discussed on this forum over the past few years.

TOD is a fantastic resource when it comes to all things related to Energy >;-)


Look at the production graphs. Start producing oil in the US 48. Peak in early 1970, then decline. Find oil in Alaska. You get a bump in the decline, increase again. New peak, then decline. Find new oil in GOM. New increase,but it is peaking and declining again.

Now oil prices are so high we can afford some very expensive oil sources in North Dakota. Whats going on? A new bump. New peak, then decline again.

The very fact this crappy expensive source is used is a sign we are running out of the good stuff. The sweet spot wells have already run dry. This is not the oil sources you are looking for.

Written by top_p:
The peak oil movement was claiming that oil production COULD NOT INCREASE at all, that oil production in any region would follow a bell-shaped curve, and that global production of ALL liquid hydrocarbons would decline absolutely, by about 2% per year, starting in 2005 or so.

Are you referring to the production of crude oil & natural gas condensate or liquid fuels? Liquid fuels are some hydrocarbons, alcohols and imaginary volume. I have always thought the production of liquid fuels would increase for a while after the production of C+C declines. The category was created to propagate propaganda.

Who has projected an absolute decline? Perhaps you do not know the difference between actual production that varies and a curve that projects average future behavior. As for all liquid hydrocarbons decreasing who proclaimed absolutely that methane and coal can not be converted into liquid hydrocarbons? Methane, coal, crude oil and natural gas condensate are being converted into ethanol, an alcohol, which some people incorrectly label as a hydrocarbon.

As for oil production being unable to increase at all, I always maintained there would be a price response. However, the price response in the U.S. has been larger than I thought.

Anyone who proclaims "oil production in any region would follow a bell-shaped curve" is a fool because there are plenty of historical examples of regions with production curves that deviate from ideal Gaussian curves, Russia and Saudi Arabia being notable examples.

You do seem to be falsely describing what others have stated and then asserting that those statements are false which is a strawman.

And, true to the laws of supply and demand, all that new production has brought prices crashing down this year! Erm, sort of....

Running faster towards depletion.

There have been a lot of talk about production. How about new oilfields? Where are they forming? Any work to build new traps above which may eventually become source rock? I heard about gas from landfills, does anyone know about others?

Oil forms on time scales of millions of years. I don't think trying to create new oil fields is a viable tactic.

Over this past weekend santalucia made some observations on the situation in Spain. Wonder if cutbacks and austerity measures had anything to do with this? …

Dozens die as Spanish train derails in Galicia

All 13 carriages of the train, which was travelling from Madrid to Ferrol, came off the tracks near the city of Santiago de Compostela. Analysts say it is the worst rail accident in Spain in four decades.

It seems the driver was going too fast. Sadly simple human error. Spain is now unlikely ever to have the capital to invest in automatic train control to prevent this happening again.

Don't think it's as simple. The driver reportedly made a frantic phonecall:

"I'm at 190 (kmph) and I'm going to derail!" the engine driver told the controllers of RENFE, the rail network.

Why would he do that if he had full control of the train? He would surely have just backed off he speed.

Do you know the deceleration performance of a train at 190Kmph?


1.5 m/s 2 = 5.4 Kmph/s. Stopping time is 35 seconds. Long enough for an emergency call
once you wake up to imminent disaster.


Braking from 190Kmph would take approximately 35 seconds and nearly a mile in distance.

10 seconds to make a call would still leave the train traveling at 140KMph.

Don't think of the incident as a single point in time, and you can see the answer.

If you watch the video, available through Zerohedge, you will see that the cars behind the locomotive began to derail first; there is a deformity (looks like a bulge) apparent at about 2.5 sec into the video at the point where first passenger car joins engine. just after the second car comes into view. Also note that the train was transiting a left turnout at the time. This would have been long AFTER the call was made, since the crash took place at about 4 sec. into video. The video could be explained if the brakes to the cars failed, and the engine was trying to brake alone.

Certainly a sad and tragic event. Still, train travel is quite a bit safer than automobile travel.


Watch the crash here:


I'm surprised he had time to radio anything. Well, spaniards can talk very fast...

Watching for some input from Alan from Big Easy. He's my main train guy!


Strategic retreat …

Study proposes changes in New Orleans area levee systems

The researchers note that, historically, the design of Southeast Louisiana's hurricane flood risk reduction system has hinged on raising and adding levees in response to river or hurricane events that impact the region. Now, it may be time to think and build smarter.

… "By eliminating the 55 kilometers of man-made levees on the west bank of the river from Pointe a la Hache and Venice, the surges propagating in the river from Pointe a la Hache past New Orleans will be lowered by up to two meters," Westerink said. "This would save billions of dollars in levee construction to protect communities upriver from Pointe a la Hache."

The researchers are aware that eliminating the man-made levees on the west bank might potentially endanger the few sparsely populated areas along the lower west bank of the Mississippi.

"For the few communities south of the Pointe a la Hache, the study suggests building strong and high ring citadel levees around them and then connecting these communities with a bridge, much as the Florida Keys are," Westerink said.

Common agricultural chemicals shown to impair honey bees' health

The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees' main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae – a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees' pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroa mites, common honey bee pests.

In the study's most surprising result, bees that were fed the collected pollen samples containing chlorothonatil were nearly three times more likely to be infected by Nosema than bees that were not exposed to these chemicals, said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the USDA's Bee Research Laboratory and the study's lead author. The miticides used to control Varroa mites also harmed the bees' ability to withstand parasitic infection.

In an unexpected finding, most of the crops that the bees were pollinating appeared to provide their hives with little nourishment. Honey bees gather pollen to take to their hives and feed their young. But when the researchers collected pollen from bees foraging on native North American crops such as blueberries and watermelon, they found the pollen came from other flowering plants in the area, not from the crops. This is probably because honey bees, which evolved in the Old World, are not efficient at collecting pollen from New World crops, even though they can pollinate these crops.

Carson seeks to declare emergency to speed oil site cleanup

Carson city officials are seeking to declare a local emergency in an effort to pressure the state and an oil company to speed the cleanup of a contaminated housing tract where residents have been advised not to eat vegetables or fruit from their yards and to limit contact with the soil.

Testing in 2008 revealed that the soil and groundwater beneath many of the 285 homes in the Carousel tract, which sits atop a former Shell Oil tank farm, contain benzene and petroleum.

The oil company, which owned the land before it was developed into homes and which state officials said was responsible for its cleanup, has said that the chemicals do not pose an immediate health risk.

I keep looking for an appropriate place to insert this comment and the moment seems to keep slipping by, so I suppose this is as good a place as any.

My “Crude Awakening” really started to come together right around the time of the Macondo leak and I found TOD.

I have been lurking here on a regular basis since April 2010. Up until the notification that TOD is shutting down I did not register. In hindsite, 20/20 of course, that was a mistake. Personal registration or lack thereof notwithstanding, I have been a regular and eager visitor to the site and like so many here feel connected and a great sense of gratitude for all of the contributions and contributors. TOD has been a fantastic resource and I am actually feeling grief wrt the imminent shutdown. I want to extend a hearty thanks to everyone who has made this thing what it is. Insert the motley cast of characters here….

I also share the bewilderment and disbelief that TOD is shutting down now. I suppose there is no need to go through my personal litany of why I think this is a mistake, but I would like to add my voice to the choir of “please reconsider”. The feeling that I get when visiting this site is one I used to experience when going to a Grateful Dead concert, being surrounded by all these friends I haven’t met yet. There is a great sense of community and that is needed more than ever.

My TOD experience led me to Automatic Earth, Do The Math, Energy Bulletin/Resilience, Post Carbon Institute and Sustainable Man to name just a few.

Some of the people I have discovered via TOD include Kjell Aleklett, Nafeez Ahmed, Gar Aperovitz, James Balog, Ugo Bardi, Arthur Berman, Colin Campbell, Kurt Cobb, Charles Eisenstein, Richard Heinberg, James Kunstler, Chris Nelder, Richard Turcotte, Gail Tverberg, Tom Whipple.

So I want to suggest that if the TOD shutdown is inevitable and we are soon to embark on a great Diaspora, why not go out with a bang. It has been interesting to watch how the notification of shutdown rippled out into the “mainstream” albeit in a mostly negative fashion. It is evident to me that there is still quite a bit of relevance in the TOD.

What if, a brief position statement is created, perhaps something not unlike NulHypothesis’ comment (although I would add that the Peak of conventional oil has led to the crazed search and manic extraction of unconventional fossil fuels and the subsequent increase in environmental degradation), that the TOD community can get behind as “We The Undersigned”. (This may be a herding cat exercise, I admit). Include in this links/references to as many blogs, groups, sites, organizations, etc. that share in the PO sentiment. This is then sent out to as many people, associations, journalists, publishers, websites, etc. as is reasonable. Say to the President, all the Senators, the Representatives, the Governors, EPA, Defense, Interior, Commerce, NRDC, Sierra Club, 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, Riverkeepers, Major Universities, Democracy Now, NYT, LaTimes, Chicago Tribune, WSJ, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera, Guardian, WaPo, Huffington Post, Ring of Fire, etc…Perhaps even a full page ad somewhere. Might be a very big rock dropped in the pond and who knows where the ripple would go. Then we could say, “We Told You So”.

Ah well, just some thoughts, back to lurking for know.

'What if a brief position statement is created..'
I think that is an excellent idea, and it would be a fitting last post. Needn't be long or involved at all, for best ROI make a small # of safe but BAU-killing predictions, eg. 'global conv. oil production will continue to decline' & 'unconventional oil will become unaffordable', etc.

One high-probability benefit will be discrediting all the "nobody predicted this crash in oil supply" morons, could save some serious time down the track.

Nafeez Ahmed now has regular posts on the Guardian website, and they are excellent. The Guardian website is one of the best MSM sites on the web, although you have to sift the wheat from the chaff.

Train Derails, Leaks Ethanol in Tampa

... Tampa Fire Rescue officials told a local NBC affiliate 15 train cars derailed and three spilled ethanol. That report added that cleanup could take longer than 24 hours.

Unusual Storm System Moving Backwards Across United States Through End Week

A low pressure system that started in the Eastern United States has retrograded under a ridge of high pressure to the north over the last couple of days. This system is moving from east to west, which is extremely unusual for this hemisphere. We’ve seen these move east to west for a short period of time, but this one will make it to Southern California by the time it weakens.

The upper level system is known as an easterly wave, however I’d like to call it a super easterly wave based on the distance it is going to travel. This particular system will have traveled from one side of the country to the other once it has stopped moving west, diving from there into Mexico, gathering up monsoonal moisture to be put into Nevada and Southern California later in the week into next week.

Rainfall estimations across parts of Central Texas could be over 2-4″ of rain, with more rain (above 6+” possible in parts of South-Central Texas. Severe storms, including tornadoes, hail, and damaging winds will be possible from Texas, New Mexico, and parts of Arizona through the next few days.

Storms Deliver Triple Digit Winds, Hail Nearly 5 Inches in Diameter, Street Flooding

Hail as large as baseballs was reported in east Hutchinson, according to Reno County [Kansas] Emergency Management. Winds estimated as high as 100 miles an hour were reported in southern Reno County near Pretty Prairie. The town itself was hit hard by hail and strong winds, knocking down trees and blocking streets.

“Please Please Please stay away from Pretty Prairie for now. They are not letting people into town at this time,” a post on Reno County Emergency Management’s Facebook page implored.

A hail stone measuring 4.75 inches in diameter fell near Yoder in eastern Reno County and hail as large as tennis balls was also reported.

Climate change caused Calgary, Ontario flooding, majority believe

Climate change caused by human activities was behind the flooding in Calgary and the recent storms in central Ontario. At least, that’s what 53 per cent of Canadians polled July 23 by Forum Research believe.

... Agreement that climate change is occurring is highest in Atlantic Canada (91 per cent) and lower in Alberta and British Columbia (79 per cent).

Insight: 'Crude for blood' - return of sectarian war hits Iraq's oil exports

Iraq's Sunni insurgents are targeting its main northern oil pipeline, undoing plans for a massive increase in exports as violence reaches levels unseen since the darkest days of civil war.

Iraq's ambitious plans to ramp up its oil output have been held back by poor maintenance and technical problems. Violence is making the situation worse, and, if it continues to escalate, could have a measurable impact on global supply.

... "It is government crude for Sunni blood," said Abu Ammar, a Sunni tribal leader in southern Nineveh province, where a stretch of the main Kirkuk oil pipeline has repeatedly come under insurgent attack. "The Baghdad government should understand this message: stop spilling our blood and we'll stop attacking the oil pipeline," he told Reuters.

According to oil shipping figures tracked by Reuters, Iraq's oil exports have fallen this month to just 2.27 million barrels a day, a fifth below the government's target of 2.9 million bpd this year.

... one of the main reasons for the fall is the damage inflicted by insurgents to the Kirkuk pipeline, constructed in the 1970s to bring 1.6 million barrels of oil per day to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

"Bomb attacks and leakages due to corrosion have made the pipeline unfit to handle steady shipments from northern oilfields," a senior official with Iraq's state-run North Oil Company told Reuters. "In recent meetings we told the oil ministry that Kirkuk's major export pipeline is now suitable for watering gardens and not for carrying oil."

Main Yemen oil export pipeline blown up, flow halted: officials

Tribesmen blew up impoverished Yemen's main oil export pipeline on Thursday, halting the flow of its main source of foreign currency, security and oil officials said.

High five, tribesmen!

I love the words used, like 'impoverished', 'main source of foreign currency', 'security' and 'oil officials'. Great stuff. Great grandchildren.

Trust In Leaders, Sense of Belonging Stir People to Safeguard Common Goods, Analysis Shows

A new report [Cooperation, Trust, and Antagonism: How Public Goods Are Promoted] in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, examines more than 25 years' worth of studies on the use and support of public goods [the commons] ... Craig Parks (Washington State University, Pullman) and his co-authors emphasize the urgent need to broaden thoughtful use of public goods, noting that charitable contributions are at historic lows, fossil fuel reserves are shrinking, and climate change threatens the planet's future.

In the report, the researchers discuss a variety of scientific findings on conditions that foster cooperative use of common resources, including:

- Strong group identity ...
- Smaller community size ...
- High trust in leaders ...

The article also cites factors that lead to incongruous use of resources, including:

- Intergroup conflicts ...
- Ideology/values ...
- Cognitive disconnection ...

Threats to some common resources are so vast or abstract that people struggle to comprehend the consequences. The most salient example is people's struggle to envision the impact that climate change will have on future generations. [... or a world without cheap energy]

also Human Cooperation: Challenges for Science and Practice

The ocean will probably be the first global commons to collapse catastrophically.

Jeremy Jackson in his "How we wrecked the ocean" talk asked the question, if the ocean is in such bad shape, how come we can still go to Costco and buy cheap fish?

His answer: we (i.e. advanced industrial nations) steal it from other people who lack the means or knowledge to defend their ocean heritage. Poorer nations that rely on ocean produce for a significant part of their diet (mainly in south-east Asia) are going to suffer first from ocean collapse.

U.S. Army foresees robots becoming squad members

... In 20 to 40 years, humanoid robots, using human tools, could precede soldiers into dangerous areas, performing tasks such as turning a wrench to open valves, opening doors and climbing ladders. Some day, the U.S. Army might send autonomous robots into battle to physically engage with the enemy.

"We see a transition from a dumb robot being a tool to it becoming a member of the team. Do I have a robot that carries my stuff, or do I have a robot that is a member of the squad?" said Lt. Col. Stuart Hatfield, Branch Chief of Soldier Systems and Unmanned Ground Systems with the Army.

"It's about maintaining overmatch," Hatfield said. "The saying is, 'We never want to go into a fair fight.' You want everything to your advantage. If you're wearing 40 or 50 pounds of body armor, and you have 100 pounds on your back and you're chasing a guy in flip flops up a hill, you're at a disadvantage already. We want to lighten the load for the soldier."

"We're looking at the vehicle being able to decide when to assume responsibility," said Hudas. "We're looking into the problem of the machine understanding the consciousness of humans.

Hudas said the Army is probably five to 10 years away from having a robotic vehicle that could make its own decisions.

As Poland's fracking future turns cloudy, so does Europe's

Estimated to have more untapped reserves than any other European Union nation, Poland was eager to replicate the boom from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the United States that has helped lower energy prices and carbon emissions.

But now the scenario is increasingly cloudy. Poland's estimates of shale have been reduced, and three major energy companies, including ExxonMobil, have recently pulled out of the country after disappointing results.

EIA estimates initially showed Poland had 5.3 trillion cubic meters of gas, but Polish geological studies, using different methodologies, estimate potential at only a fraction of that. And according to the EIA's new assessment report from June, potential has been reduced by 20 percent, in part because of more complicated geological conditions for retrieving shale gas.

... so, who's our next 'bunny' ...

Chevron Draws Europe Toward Natural Gas Independence: Energy

Chevron Corp. (CVX) is betting it can win over eastern Europeans with the idea of energy independence even after dry wells and government delays led Exxon Mobil Corp. and Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM) to scrap efforts to tap natural gas deposits in Polish shale.

Polar Thaw Opens Shortcut for Russian Natural Gas

YURKHAROVSKOYE GAS FIELD, Russia — The polar ice cap is melting, and if executives at the Russian energy company Novatek feel guilty about profiting from that, they do not let it be known in public.

Novatek, in partnership with the French energy company Total and the China National Petroleum Corporation, is building a $20 billion liquefied natural gas plant on the central Arctic coast of Russia. It is one of the first major energy projects to take advantage of the summer thawing of the Arctic caused by global warming.

The plant, called Yamal LNG, would send gas to Asia along the sea lanes known as the Northeast Passage, which opened for regular international shipping only four years ago.

Whatever blame for the grim environmental consequences of global warming elsewhere in the world that might be placed on the petroleum industry, in the Far North, companies like Novatek and Total, Exxon Mobil of the United States and Statoil of Norway stand to make profit.

Yamal Peninsula to China is about 11,000 km (7,000 miles). I would hate to be on one of those ships with the big gas balls going through ice passages or typhoon-prone seas. They look bulky and top-heavy.

But every year going forward there may be less and less ice up there. This is a new climate change feedback loop . . . Northern passages are facilitating the burning of more fossil fuels. Miami is toast.

Kinda Important, worth a read ...

World Changing Technology Enables Crops to Take Nitrogen from the Air

A major new technology has been developed by The University of Nottingham, which enables all of the world’s crops to take nitrogen from the air rather than expensive and environmentally damaging fertilisers.

Professor Edward Cocking, Director of The University of Nottingham’s Centre for Crop Nitrogen Fixation, has developed a unique method of putting nitrogen-fixing bacteria into the cells of plant roots. His major breakthrough came when he found a specific strain of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in sugar-cane which he discovered could intracellularly colonise all major crop plants. This ground-breaking development potentially provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The implications for agriculture are enormous as this new technology can provide much of the plant’s nitrogen needs.

N-Fix is neither genetic modification nor bio-engineering. It is a naturally occurring nitrogen fixing bacteria which takes up and uses nitrogen from the air. Applied to the cells of plants (intra-cellular) via the seed, it provides every cell in the plant with the ability to fix nitrogen. Plant seeds are coated with these bacteria in order to create a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship and naturally produce nitrogen.

N-Fix is a natural nitrogen seed coating that provides a sustainable solution to fertiliser overuse and Nitrogen pollution. It is environmentally friendly and can be applied to all crops. Over the last 10 years, The University of Nottingham has conducted a series of extensive research programmes which have established proof of principal of the technology in the laboratory, growth rooms and glasshouses.

It is anticipated that the N-Fix technology will be commercially available within the next two to three years.

also http://phys.org/news/2013-07-world-technology-enables-crops-nitrogen.html

... This is a $185 Billion dollar/year industry with $300-500 Billion in sunk infrastructure - expect some pushback.

... will weeds benefit?

Thank you for posting Seraph, super interesting. We'll see how well these bacteria perform outside of sugar cane cells. Ya gotta wonder, why hasn't nature allowed this "technology" to work in all manner of plants for eons already?

Farmers have been planting inoculated legumes to fix nitrogen in soil for years. How does this differ? Maybe this type of bacteria has an affinity for other crops.

The NG producers may find this problematic.


These bacteria with a sweet tooth are a different sort from the nodule forming bacteria in legumes. They are free-living:


From the link:

The relationship between the legume and rhizobia is symbiotic, or mutually beneficial. The bacteria invade plant root hairs and multiply in the outer root tissue. The plant forms tissue that acts as a protective enclosure around the bacteria. The plant also supplies energy to the bacteria from photosynthesis. For their part, the bacteria convert nitrogen gas to ammonia in the nodules.

It seems like the individual plant cell will form a protective enclosure for the bacteria. Presumably the bacteria feeds off the cell's food sources. Some questions:

- How does a bacterium on the inside of a plant get access to atmospheric nitrogen?

- More bacteria means more plant energy used by the bacteria. How will this affect crop yields?

- Will there be over-production of nitrates, which are poisonous to humans?

Generally speaking, legumes consume some N from the soil, and some from the air. Given that yields from legumes are lower it seems a safe bet that yields will be lower, given the extra work done. Nitrates may be a problem, but I have no experience with people or animals getting nitrate poisoning from peas or clover.

I'm not holding my breath waiting for the next 'Green Revolution' but I would try these plant if I had access.

I'd like to see this applied to something simple like grass.

Pakistan Now ‘One Of The Most Water-Stressed Countries In The World’ As ‘Demand Exceeds Supply’

With fewer than 1,000 cubic meters of water available per person, Pakistan is “one of the most water-stressed countries in the world” according to a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

... Water demand exceeds supply, which has caused maximum withdrawal from reservoirs. At present, Pakistan’s storage capacity is limited to a 30-day supply, well below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with a similar climate. Climate change is affecting snowmelt and reducing flows into the Indus River, the main supply source.

Small correction to quoted text: "Pakistan is “one of the most population-stressed countries in the world” according to easily found demographic data."

There is *plenty* of water there for a sustainable population of no more than, say, 20-30 million (ideally less).

Keystone Pipeline Prompts Congress to Let Lobbyist Write Letters

The letters commend the State Department for its “thorough and transparent” analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline and urge U.S. officials to approve the project as soon as possible.

At least a dozen state and federal Republican lawmakers wrote in support of the $5.3 billion project that would cross six U.S. states. In doing so, they often pointed to the same facts and the used the same language.

The wording similarities aren’t coincidental. The letters are all based on correspondence written by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a Washington-based coalition of energy producers and users, including Exxon Mobil Corp. in Irving, Texas, and Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Michigan.

The letters themselves don’t indicate any connection with the Consumer Energy Alliance.

Lobbyists write the laws. Why shouldn't they write the letters?

Oil Drummers!

As a long time member (5 years, 16w) I decided its time to post something before the end of the drumbeats.

I have worked in solar and now algae for the last 6 years....this video was interesting:


One of the lowest view counts TED talks I have ever seen, maybe people don't like the message??

Ends with, "even if we do all this it might buy us a few more years"

As someone who has dedicated their life to solar and now algae, I agree, using 300m years of sunlight in 200 years will be hard to replace with something that has to use the sun as it comes in to power our world and food production real time.


40% of the US corn crop to produce 7% of the fuel. Double the 'efficiency' and you get 14%.

To take that up to 52% you are looking at 160% of the are currently in corn.

I assume you need a bit of fresh water. I also assume you need tons of steel and pipes.

No word on the most critical factor EROEI, which at a price of oer $200 boe, I'm going to guess is pretty close to 3 maybe less. Which pretty much means you can refine it, and transport it to the gas station before you run out of energy.

It's in the real of 'possible' but not in the subset of 'likely'.
Just my honest opinion.

New report says 3.9 million Canadians struggle to afford food

Some key points from the report include:

•Nearly one in eight Canadian households experienced food insecurity in 2011. With the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, food insecurity has persisted or grown in every province and territory since 2005.
•One in six children in Canada lived in a household affected by food insecurity in 2011.
•Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick had the highest prevalence of children living in food insecure households at 57%, 27% and 25% respectively.
•Until now, the main window into the problem of food insecurity has been food bank utilization statistics. However, the report's findings show that extent and distribution of food insecurity is far greater than food bank use indicates.

Interesting. Canada is doing well these days and yet hunger grows? I guess they are just like us . . . big income inequality. Some super-wealthy and a lot of poor people struggling.

That seems to be the new norm everywhere in the world nowadays...

This is where Malthus thesis comes into play. The amount of actual tangible production is not keeping pace with population growth. If you get a chance to read the Essay, it will make a lot of sense.

Renewable Fuel Standard

Congress did nothing the last 5 years to make sure the cellulose ethanol gets made. Exxon, Valero and any number of companies affected by the law could have taken action but they did not. This is malfeasance.

How many tons of corn cobs does it take to make a gallon of gasoline?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck...?

A common woodchuck (Marmota monax) is known to displace approximately 1 cubic meter of dirt in the construction of its burrow. If a woodchuck would or could chuck wood, instead of dirt, this would be equivalent to the weight of the dirt, so approximately 710 lbs of wood.

If a foot of dry, untreated pine 2x4" lumber weighs about 1.5 lbs, this equates to a woodchuck being able to chuck around 473 feet of 2"x4" lumber, or about 78 six-foot planks.


(credits to Unidan of Reddit)

Which has the better EROEI, the woodchuck or corn cobs to ethanol?

Well, since the woodchuck survives without subsidies it must have an EROEI greater than one. Cellulosic ethanol is often cited as 8:1 but that seems to count only fossil fuel inputs so it might be substantially less

Here is an analysis from 2008 http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3707

If a wouldchuck could chuck would?

At conversion yields of around 60 to 100 gallons per dry ton, the available corn stover inventory would be sufficient to support 7 to 12 billion gallons of ethanol production per year,29 as compared with approximately 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol production from corn in 1998.


TL:DR 1998 is light years ago.

Thank you for the information, we can get 10 billion gallons per year just from cobs, leaves and upper stalks. (stover)

IMO it is better to get 10 billion gallons of ethanol per year from stover than from corn grain. Congress passed the law, but they never checked up on the lack of progress.

Yeah, take those nutrients away from the soil, it doesn't need them anyway. More chemicals needed, DUSTBOWL 3 anyone?

Gotta agree with August, we're already overtaxing the biomass with all the overproduction from our topsoils and burning and reprocessing of other biomass for paper, lumber etc..

Making a whole-hog push for cellulosic ethanol is really not a high priority in my book.

Cellulosic Superinsulation is more like it.. use it well once, and let that same batch serve your energy needs for many, many years. Cumulative Benefits.