Drumbeat: July 29, 2013

Alwaleed Warns Saudi Oil Minister of Waning Need for Oil

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal told Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi in an open letter that the kingdom won’t be able to raise production capacity to 15 million barrels of crude a day as planned, and that he disagrees with him over the impact of U.S. shale gas output.

The prince published the letter today on Twitter, saying there’s a “clear and increasing decline” in demand for crude from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is now pumping at less than its production capacity as consumers limit oil imports, Alwaleed said.

WTI Trades Close to Three-Week Low; Alwaleed Sees Fading Demand

West Texas Intermediate crude traded near its lowest level in almost three weeks, widening its discount to London-traded Brent futures for a fourth day.

Futures slid as much as 0.8 percent after losing 3.1 percent last week. China ordered a review of state borrowings amid concern potential bad debts may weigh on the economy. Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal cautioned against increasing production capacity as demand is waning. Egypt’s interior minister said security forces will stabilize the country after dozens of people died in weekend violence.

U.S. Gasoline Rises to $3.6746 a Gallon in Lundberg Survey

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps rose 8.38 cents in the past two weeks to $3.6746 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

Saudi Arabian 2012 Oil Export Revenue Gained 5% as Iran Fell 12%

Saudi Arabia’s revenue from exports of crude oil and other petroleum products in 2012 rose 5.3 percent from a year earlier while Iran’s income from sales abroad sank by 12 percent, OPEC reported.

The world’s largest crude exporter shipped oil and products valued at $336.1 billion last year, up from $319.1 billion in 2011, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its Annual Statistical Bulletin today. The kingdom’s export revenue advanced at a slower pace than the 49 percent gain in 2011, the data showed.

OPEC's Oil Exports Revenue Breaks New Record But Split Deepens

Revenue from petroleum exports in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries broke a new record in 2012 but the earnings of some members are declining amid higher budgetary needs, underscoring a deepening rift between producers benefiting from higher oil prices and those who don't.

Mounting inequalities within OPEC come ahead of an expected debate later this year over whether it should formally cut its production for the first time in five years.

Russia domestic crude rally surges on, prices at record high

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Domestic crude oil prices in Russia, the world's top producer, surged by over 14 percent to an all-time high last week due to cuts in volumes usually supplied to the spot market by TNK-BP, acquired by Rosneft, and higher international oil prices, traders said.

Power crisis threatens Jordan

Jordan's controversial plan to raise power prices next month for a second time this year is set to go ahead despite warnings such measures could lead to serious civil unrest.

Sabotage attacks on gas pipelines from Egypt - the energy source for 80 per cent of Jordan's electricity - are costing the government at least US$1 million a day, energy officials say.

In response, as it tackles paring down a $10.5 billion budget for this year, the government in Amman intends to raise the price of electricity by 15 per cent, having already doubled taxes on mobile phones to 16 per cent and to 24 per cent on mobile phone contracts.

Can Triumph Over Peak Oil Continue In A Post-Monetary Stimulus World?

It seems, we have all forgotten the very important detail that has been part of the global economic reality since 2008, and that is that we have been on life-support ever since the financial meltdown. The US Federal Reserve purchasing as much as $85 billion a month in debt assets, cannot but have a huge distorting effect on all economic activities and prices. Now that we are starting to discuss a gradual removal of the life-support apparatus, the market is scrambling to re-price everything ranging from the value of money (interest charged for lending), to the value of commodities. This process will be completed once the monetary stimulus measures implemented since 2008 will be fully removed from the economy, and then we shall see the real level of oil's long-term price viability.

Iran To Take Chinese Subway Cars For Oil

An Iranian official says international sanctions have forced Tehran to accept subway cars from China in place of cash payments for oil.

Amir Jafarpour, deputy head of Iran's Transportation and Fuel Management Committee, said the government ordered 315 carriages from Beijing for their subway system.

Libya and Gulf secure oil for Egypt

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sherif Ismail announced an agreement to import 1m barrels of crude oil monthly from Libya that will be refined in Egypt laboratories, according to state-run Al-Ahram.

The minister said this will save about 160,000 tonnes of oil products imported monthly, adding that the two countries agreed upon a grace period for up to one year to repay the shipments.

A flicker of hope as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to resume Monday

Jerusalem (CNN) -- With another round of Mideast peace talks set to begin, some observers see recent displays of goodwill as a positive sign -- some hint that these talks might finally prove to be fruitful, while others aren't as hopeful.

Wave of car bombings in Iraq kills at least 47

BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of over a dozen car bombings hit central and southern Iraq during morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, killing at least 47 people in the latest coordinated attack by insurgents determined to undermine the government.

The blasts, which wounded scores more, are part of a months-long surge of attacks that is reviving fears of a return to the widespread sectarian bloodshed that pushed the country to the brink of civil war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed more than 3,000 people since April, including more than 500 since the start of July, according to an Associated Press count.

Obama Says He’ll Evaluate Pipeline Project Depending on Pollution

“Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with The New York Times. “There is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”

He said 2,000 jobs were “a blip relative to the need.”

Thailand Oil Spill: 50 Tons Of Crude Reaches Popular Tourist Island

BANGKOK — Black waves of crude oil washed up on a beach at a popular tourist island in Thailand's eastern sea despite attempts to clean up the oil up over the weekend after it leaked from a pipeline, officials said Monday.

Tourists on Samet island were warned to stay away from the once-serene beach, marred by inky globs as hundreds of workers in white jumpsuits labored to scrape the sand clean and remove oil from the water.

Alberta oil spills cause concern over Canada's approval of tar sands project

Campaigners have raised new concerns over controversial "tar sands" after it emerged a series of oil spills have occurred at one site in recent months.

The unconventional fuel is being produced in Canada, but opponents warn it is more polluting than conventional oil as it requires significant energy to extract, pushing up its carbon emissions, and have also raised concerns over local environmental impacts.

Texas water contamination linked to fracking sites

A high level of water contamination has been discovered in the water wells near a natural gas extraction site in the US.

The toxic substances, including arsenic, selenium and strontium, were all found at levels higher than recommended levels in wells in and around the Barnett Shale, an important reservoir of natural gas in North Texas.

BMW Electric Offered With Spare SUV to Ease Range Anxiety

To avoid the fate of other slow-selling electric vehicles, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) will offer the new i3 -- a battery-powered compact car -- with a unique option: the use of a sport-utility vehicle.

Customers of BMW’s first electric model can book a conventional auto like the full-sized X5 SUV for several weeks a year for family trips or as a backup. The “add-on mobility” feature, for which BMW hasn’t yet revealed pricing, is part of the manufacturer’s effort to overcome a major concern about electric vehicles, namely getting stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Smart meters: Good for consumers but infrastructure unresolved

Evidence presented in the report warned that if important technical and infrastructure requirements were not in place before deployment, costs could increase significantly. Some consumers could have a poor experience, which might have a reputational effect on the roll-out programme, warned the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

Trial run for biggest battery in Europe that could help power Britain

A trial of the largest battery in Europe, which proponents hope will transform the UK electricity grid and boost renewable energy is due to start in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

The trial of cutting-edge energy storage technology will test new methods of capturing electricity for release over long periods, evening out the bumps and troughs of supply and demand that plague the electricity grid. Finding ways of storing power from wind and solar generation is key to maintaining a constant source of energy.

Europe and China Agree to Settle Solar Panel Fight

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s trade chief said on Saturday that a deal had been reached with China to settle a dispute over exports of low-cost solar panels that had threatened to set off a wider trade war between two of the world’s largest economies.

Could Solar And Wind Replace Fossil Fuels In Australia By 2040?

Solar and wind energy could replace all fossil fuels in Australia by 2040 if their recent rate of deployment is maintained and slightly increased over the next 27 years – delivering the country with a 100% renewable electricity grid “by default” as early as 2040.

The stunning conclusions come from research from Andrew Blakers, the director of the Australian National University’s Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems. It notes that nearly all new electricity generation capacity in recent years has been wind and solar photovoltaics (PV), and demand has also ben falling since 2008.

Empower to build Dubai's 'greenest' cooling plant

Empower has awarded a Dh155 million project to the contractor Trans Gulf Electro Mechanical to build what it claims to be Dubai's greenest district cooling plant - to cater for the expansion of Business Bay.

According to a company announcement yesterday, Trans Gulf will erect the plant building as well as assembling infrastructure such as pumps, chillers, water tanks, cooling towers and office space.

4 in 5 in USA face near-poverty, no work

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

Detroit Bankruptcy Underscores Rift Between City, Suburbs

“We would rather stay in the suburbs,” Boudreau, a 66-year-old retired real-estate manager, said in an interview about a block from a park where children played on an Astroturf-covered mound. “We’ve got all we want here.”

Boudreau’s view exemplifies a generations-long divide between Detroit, where the per-capita income is $15,261, and suburbs such as Birmingham, where it’s $67,580. Detroit’s record $18 billion bankruptcy case raises questions about how affluence can co-exist with poverty, and whether urban areas with hollow cores can thrive.

China to spend trillions on pollution battle

SHANGHAI (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government will spend more than 3 trillion yuan (489.3 billion U.S. dollars) to enhance air and water pollution prevention and treatment, environmental officials told an environmental protection industry forum on Sunday.

An airborne pollution prevention and control action plan, which will be released soon, will be backed by 1.7 trillion yuan in investment from the central government, according to Wang Tao, an official with the pollution prevention department under the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

We've been asking the wrong questions about conservation

Stop worrying about how species will respond to climate change – focus on how our adaptations are going to affect them.

Divesting From Fossil Fuels Means A Cleaner, Safer and More Resilient Future

“Long-dated bonds of fossil fuel companies, some with maturities extending decades into the future, could readily become toxic financial assets as the credit quality of their issuers deteriorate in reaction to belated market responses to the harsh reality of stranded asset risk and systemic climate risk,” warns Joshua Humphreys of the Tellus Institute.

'Perverse' environmental charges on even the poorest families could see energy bills go up by a third

Extra charges making vulnerable households pay for the Government’s environmental commitments are “perverse” and should be scrapped, MPs said today in a wide-reaching report on the way we pay for gas and electricity.

The cost of funding renewable energy and efforts to reduce the country’s carbon footprint will add a third to the average family’s annual fuel bill by the year 2020, according to a report from the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Maryland's climate opportunity

Gov. O'Malley's road map for aggressively reducing greenhouse gas emissions offers a chance for the state's economy to bloom along with the environment.

Storing CO2 Underground In Basalts — Regional Experiment Begins In Southeast Washington

One of the first large-scale experiments to test the feasibility of safely storing carbon dioxide in underground rocks is now under way in southeastern Washington state — about 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide are right now being injected half a mile down into the ground on property owned by Boise Inc. The CO2 is being injected directly into old geological formations which mostly consist of ancient basalt flows — the enormous lava flows lie under the ground of much of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

Messing with nature? Geoengineering and green thought

Studies of public perceptions of geoengineering have implications for the 'greens vs science' debate.

Gangplank to a Warm Future

ITHACA, N.Y. — MANY concerned about climate change, including President Obama, have embraced hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. In his recent climate speech, the president went so far as to lump gas with renewables as “clean energy.”

As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments.

Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: Are We Ready for a Superstorm Sandy Every Other Year?

We're already getting a taste of what this will mean. Hurricane Sandy is expected to cost the federal government $60 billion. Over the past three years, 10 other storms have each caused more than $1 billion in damage. In 2011, the federal government declared a record 99 weather-related major disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires. The United States averaged 56 such disasters per year from 2000 to 2010, and a mere 18 a year in the 1960s.

The consequences for the federal budget are staggering. In just the past two years, natural disasters have cost the Treasury $188 billion—nearly $2 billion a week. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which covers more than $1 trillion in assets, is one of the nation's largest fiscal liabilities. The program went $16 billion in the hole on Hurricane Katrina, and after Sandy it will be at least $25 billion in debt—a deficit unlikely ever to be fixed.

NFU claims extreme weather poses biggest threat to British farming

Extreme weather being driven by climate change is the biggest threat to British farming and its ability to feed the nation's growing population, according to Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers' Union.

"The Sea Was Swallowing It Up"

Vietnam has 2,025 miles of coastline exposed to rising seas. Eighteen million of its 88 million people live in the Mekong delta, 1.4 million in Ben Tre—a big island cut off from the mainland by the Mekong. Under worst-case sea level projections, half of Ben Tre would be under water by 2100.

Alaska forest fires ‘worst for 10,000 years’

There have always been fires in the cold forests of Alaska. Periods of burning are part of the ecological regime, and fires return to black spruce stands of the Yukon Flats at intervals of tens to hundreds of years.

But recent evidence suggests that fire is about to come back with a vengeance – or, in the language of science, “a transition to a unique regime of unprecedented fire activity”.

Quakes Thought to Help Release Methane From Seabed

In a study published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, European researchers report that an underwater quake off Pakistan nearly 70 years ago likely fractured seafloor sediments and created pathways for methane, a potent greenhouse gas, to bubble up from below. The researchers say the phenomenon may be widespread enough that climate scientists should take it into account when estimating the amounts of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Still No Support for Global Warming 'Slowdown'

A new set of studies from the British government’s Meteorological Office has addressed the claims by climate change skeptics that global warming has “stopped” or “paused” or is “slowing down.”

Runaway global warming Armageddon? It may be more likely than you thought

A runaway greenhouse Armageddon in which the oceans boil dry could theoretically happen on Earth, researchers claim.

Sunday, Krugman steals a few pages from Kunstler's book:

Stranded by Sprawl - So what’s the matter with Atlanta? A new study suggests that the city may just be too spread out, so that job opportunities are literally out of reach for people stranded in the wrong neighborhoods. Sprawl may be killing Horatio Alger...

...And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there...

...But Kunstler snatches it back:

The permanent contraction of techno-industrialism is necessary because the main fuel for running it has become scarcer and rather expensive, too expensive really to run the infrastructure of the United States. That infrastructure cannot be replaced now without a great deal of capital sacrifice. Paul Krugman — whom other observers unironically call Dr. Paul Krugman, conferring shamanic powers on him — wrote a supremely stupid op-ed in The New York Times today (“Stranded by Sprawl”), as though he had only noticed over the past week that the favored development pattern of our country has had adverse economic consequences. Gosh, ya think?

My stepson, his wife, and their kids came up for the weekend. They reside in one of Atlanta's massive x-burbs and are pretty much onboard with my view of how things are playing out and have begun to think about getting out of Dodge, so to speak. We have indicated that we would support a reasonable plan to relocate here; get the kids out of an unrealistic environment. They've even begun considering homesites on some of our property.

Alas, our daughter-in-law was offered, and has accepted, a better job offer from one of her employer's competitors; longer x-burban commute, significantly better pay. Seems BAU has snatched them back. Probably for the best; milk the system for as much as they can, while they can, though it comes with costs. That said, I could use some help around here, and they won't have much time to be aquiring skills (especially the kids) that may prove to be more useful than any skills they're likely to develop in the suburbs. Meanwhile, they expect we'll be holding the fort.

I wonder how easy it would be to get around Atlanta on a bicycle or a small scooter (50cc)? Around my city, you can get from one end to the other pretty easily by both...although obviously a bicycle will take longer.

About 35 years ago, I spent a considerable period riding longer distances around Atlanta, typically 50 miles a day. The terrain is rather hilly, given that it's near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. Not so much fun for commuting, though it was good for a workout.

I almost never rode near the downtown area because of the traffic and because I had no reason to go there. My usual ride went around the northern arc outside the I-285 perimeter road because that area was relatively undeveloped and the pollution levels were still relatively low. Sad to say, since those days that area is now covered with new car oriented sub-developments and commercial buildings, which is one reason I no longer live in Atlanta. Then too, they say Atlanta's population has increased by about 1 million during the past 10 years...

E. Swanson

That said, I could use some help around here, and they won't have much time to be aquiring skills (especially the kids) that may prove to be more useful than any skills they're likely to develop in the suburbs. Meanwhile, they expect we'll be holding the fort.

Hey Ghung, just a crazy idea here... Have you ever considered organizing a sort of summer camp for college kids. You could get some cheap labor in exchange for teaching them some skills. Maybe even charge them a small fee. Granted I don't really know if you have a enough space to room and board a few kids... but if you do I could probably send you my son and a couple of nephews and nieces. This year is probably too late but maybe in the future? Maybe in exchange you could send a few kids down to permaculture camp in Brazil.


This guy did just that and was told to shut down by the NC state government because of code violations (only 1 rail on the bridge across the creek, sawdust manure composting, etc.) and is now facing possible criminal charges for disobeying.

County inspectors are not your friend when it comes to sustainable living. Instead of presenting you with a package of preapproved sustainable options they seem to require you to come up with custom plans and then shoot them down.

Well, bring the kids down to Brazil no County Inspectors here.... >;-)

Yeah, if there are minors involved, there all all sorts of liabilities and hoops to jump through = $$$. Even with adults, most of the legal/code/liability bases have been covered by the PTB, mostly as a result of the many summer camps and retreats already in the State.

Religious facilities and equestrian establishments are covered under blanket waivers ('special circumstances'), though a friend who owns a small boarding stable almost lost everything once it was discovered she gave a few (paid) lessons to a neighbor's kid. She got off with a warning, after paying some steep legal fees. We looked into starting a small boarding kennel since we have been involved with (and love) dogs for so long. Far too many hassles. If we were indigenous folks on the rez, we could do just about anything, as long as the tribe gave its ble$$ing.

If you move to a poor rural area it is unlikely you will be subject to all these legal hassles.

Not naming names, but I believe that is the case in the USA. Successful intentional community/ecovillages seem to be located in areas not subject to zealous code inspectors.

I recently moved to a small town that's been losing its population for many years to the capitaligarchy vacuum-cleaner. It's certainly a fair change from the city. Over here, our front lawn is 'growing fallow' and no one seems to bat an eye; there are chickens in a neighbor's backyard; and many fellow townsfolk can be be seen fixing their homes-- replacing their own windows, siding and shingles, etc., themselves.

You know, Fred, I think college kids are already too old to learn what will be necessary plus they have also taken the blue pill or they wouldn't be in college. They believe in BAU.

I think the right age to start teaching kids what they will need to know is 8-10 (and farm kids certainly start by 6 or so). My rationale for this is that the young kids will have actually seen the collapse and the failure of their parents due to a lack of skills. I'd also add that they would have learned the importance of having the right tools; especially hand tools.

I look in my own shop and see all these old and odd tools like a blacksmith's post drill (it's actually a drill press) or the hand plane for circular/round work with the flexible sole plate. I get a kick out of looking at all the hand saws especially the 1 point timer framing rip saw. There's a whole world of tools out there beyond battery powered hand drills. That reminds me of my brace and bit stuff. Oh my, I'd better quit.


I think college kids are already too old to learn what will be necessary plus they have also taken the blue pill or they wouldn't be in college.

I sure hope that isn't completely true. Both for my son's sake but also for my own. I'm hoping to still be able to learn a few new tricks even though I just hit 60.

Think you'd feel right at home here. This guy is an amazing wood worker, he doesn't even have electricity, he only works with hand tools. I'm trying to help him get a few solar panels.





He makes me look like a piker! But on the other hand I don't see his arc and gas welders, pipe threaders and chop saw :-)


Here's an example of a young one in Brazil. I think a lot of the young are red-pill-popping too, and we may be in the midst of a global (catching on like) wildfire in that regard and where things shift with increasing speed and maybe unpredictability. The global tribe appears to be waking up.

If you and anyone else would like talk carpentry-- especially unpowered-- here in the next month, I'd certainly be reading it, as I'm in the process of investigating a starter woodworking hand-tool toolkit. Incidentally, I just inherited, from a neighbor who was replacing all of theirs, 15 old wooden double hung windows in various condition.

Fred; if you would like to consider some form of collaboration there, feel free to get in touch with me. I'm chatting with someone in Peru at the moment and could be down there as early as your summer.

Hey Tribe, Yes I've seen a lot of passion on display by young middle class Brazilians recently, It does give me some hope that not all is lost. I'll drop you a line at your posted email and we can chat about what we might be able to collaborate on. BTW, you provided a link to the Permaculture Forum and there I did a search and found this link: www.moradaviva.com.br to someone who is working with permaculture in Ubatuba where I also happen to have some contacts. I haven't looked them up yet but plan to in the near future. Those picture of the woodworker are also from the same general area.

I agree with Fred... I hope it's not true.

We've got a bunch of college kids in my school who are clearly making the switch to agrarian lifestyles. Some undergrads and some grads; getting reskilled at a campus farm, doing internships at various ag groups and the many CSAs in the county, networking, etc.

Some have begun the switch in earnest, going through a two-year farmer training program (e.g., land, tools, mentors, stipend) run by a local township as part of a land preservation program. Two couples completed the program and bought land nearby the town (got some loan help through various sustainable food system groups in the area) and now run CSAs and have booths at local markets. We help out at their booth at the farmer's market. They seem to be making a go of it.

Tillian Farmer Incubator Program

Lots of small experiments starting. I hope it's not too late for these kids.

I not only think it's not too late, but suspect that a lot of the younger ones, like Neo in The Matrix, are going to be getting into the drivers' seats in short order. Peer-pressure and all that. That's not only a scary prospect, but an exciting one too. I think the older folks might want to hang on.

To my astonishment my 50 yr old son quit his high pay/prestigious engineering job and undertook a self training in all things bicycle related. He has taken over my transmission crusade and at the moment is taking a course in bike mechanics.

My son's logic was that anything requiring mere thinking was bound to go to china/india, where they can think at least as well as he can at far lower pay.

His cousin, for balance, is facing criminal charges for bad doings on wall st. after ripping off the body politic x millions of $.

I think this is a very interesting topic...trying to find where to be in a peak oil society. I think it is good to have skills, hand skills and common sense skills....I am a journeyman Electrician and had to make two service calls last week to show people how to plug things in with the new child proof outlets. People don't know to think for themselves anymore, they are quick to pick up a phone and call somebody to come fix things... it takes working with your hands and problem solving to be able to fix things...I don't think you could just quit your desk job today and be very self sufficient tomorrow. I try to fix things on my truck all time...I may not be very fast but next time I will be faster....

Electrician and had to make two service calls last week to show people how to plug things in with the new child proof outlets

That is pretty sad! I just did a quick search and got 1.2 million hits on youtube videos for installing and using child proof outlets. How hard is it to do some research before you call someone. Not that I begrudge you your income from a bunch of lazy, ignorant folk!

had to make two service calls last week to show people how to plug things in with the new child proof outlets.

Yeah . . . it is pretty amazing how pathetic people have become. They can't can't change their oil, they can't change a tire, they can't even drive manual transmission.

Meh, those are merely rituals of the passing automobile age, not important skills! ;-)

While I agree with your point, I'm willing to bet those same people don't understand the basics of the nitrogen cycle and probably aren't capable of designing and setting up a hydroponics system to grow some tomatoes. They probably couldn't figure out how to calculate the size of a PV solar array and how many batteries they might need to provide themselves with enough electricity to power their lights, computers and refrigeration needs, let alone be able to wire it all up and install the array on their roof. I could go on and on... It's about having well rounded basic skills and knowledge. Very few people that I encounter seem to have those skills. Maybe I'm just very unlucky with the people I meet.

I think that, as our world gets more hyper-complex, more people feel they're forced to specialize, others are simply baffled by complexity and don't bother to try. I've always had a hard time admitting there are things I can't do myself,, at least until I've tried. Fortunately, trial and error hasn't been too costly, and the learning experience certainly has begotten a positive return. It just takes a fearlessness of screwing things up.

I had to replace the alternator in my truck last week; my first real repair on this model, excepting brakes. I don't even have a service manual yet, since I haven't needed one. My wife long ago stopped suggesting I hire someone to do these things, but was still a bit amazed that I diagnosed the problem, found the alternator right off, pulled it out, went to the auto parts and got a replacement ($123.00) came home and put the new one in,, all in about 3 hours. I had her help by holding the serpentine belt on the water pump, etc., while I wrapped a ratchet strap around the tensioner and used the ratchet to remove the tension so we could get the belt back on the alternator pully. The old model had reverse threads on the tensioner so you could use a wrench to jack it around. Now you probably need Ford 'special tool FST-@#&^%$*&^'. The strap worked great.

Point being, there comes a time when one can look at something, figure out how it works and how to build or fix it, or admit that you need help. These days, next stop is Youtube where folks have posted all sorts of repair videos. I've fixed several electronic items this way (board-level electronics isn't my forte; I know just enough to be dangerous). I fixed my wife's flat panel TV after a TV repair guy said he wouldn't fool with it; "cheaper to buy a new one". Searched Youtube for that model and found out a certain capacitor always fails on that model; "order this better capacitor from somesuch place; and here's how to replace it". Total cost was under $20. I may start posting videos to Youtube on some of the solar stuff I do, if only out of a sense of obligation. I did make a video of how to live-trap a wild boar, though I've never posted it.

Most of these skills can't be aquired without the experience of trying and knowing when to ask for help. A miserly attitude towards things also comes in handy. I imagine many folks don't even know if they have an aptitude for various skills since they've never pushed themselves to try; haven't had to. Others reach a point where "they've been doing so much for so long with so little, they are now qualified to do anything with nothing."

Yes my point exactly! You need to challenge yourself to develop skills and confidence to fix things. Youtube is great for that...my local university used to have an auto shop that students and faculty could work on their own car...they had a mechanic on hand to answer questions and tools you could check out for small fee....well they closed it down because when some frat guys took over the school government...they said no one works on their own car anymore....I bet some engineering students learned more in that shop than they did in most of their classes...you have to train the mind just like you do the body....

Now you probably need Ford 'special tool FST-@#&^%$*&^'.

Man, don't even get me started on that subject, that's the kind of thing that really makes my blood pressure rise! I've been fortunate over the past 18 or so years because I have a really good friend who owns an Italian auto repair shop, of course he works on everything else as well. I've learned quite a bit from him in the, 'improvise tool department', to get around exactly the kind of thing you mention.

BTW, if you really want to get PO'ed try doing some basic repairs on a late model Mercedes Benz or other luxury European model. That will really make you want to use some of the more common tools on certain choice body parts of the people behind designing those special tools and creating the artificial need for them...

It's reasonable to believe that as 3D printers drift down in price, designs for many special automotive tools will become available for download, either from the manufacturer for a small fee, or designed by enthusiasts like yourselves.
This is already possible for small industry, and prices appear to be declining on an exponential curve.

Eventually you learn the various practices of how things are made. These practices vary considerably across industries and throughout time - how things are made in a modern industrial setting might be quite different than in other settings.

I wish I could trade all the knowledge I've accumulated on how mechanical/electrical/electronic things work for equivalent skills in organic gardening/agriculture.

Well I guess it is all relative....I worked in a greenhouse for two years while in college and did landscaping...pull native weeds out put non-native weeds in kinda thing. I found that when working with plants and insects you have to slow down a lot and read the plants and see how they react to certain things.. some of the best gardeners are the ones that have been self taught and have very little formal education in the field...my point is, you have to be doing these things to learn them...now.... you can't wait and then learn it all in a book...I don't think we are falling to the stone age and we all need to become farmers etc....at least not in our lifetime...

It's the old one foot on the dock, one foot in the boat problem. I find I have to spend so much time keeping the machines of the passing industrial/fossil fuel age running, while still working for the existing system, that I have insufficient time to learn enough of the skills I will need for the world that is approaching.

I would make different choices if the choices were all mine, but I have commitments to family that change what I must do. So I spend time repairing laptops, iPhones and PlayStations, keeping the clothes dryer working when I would rather dispose of it, and of course maintaining the cars and the truck, etc.

There is some progress though - I have some nice ash blanks to make axe handles from, and I am looking into making a self bow. I will try the garden again next year if I can build a good enough fence - otherwise it is pointless as the deer and rabbits already have enough to eat without my assistance.

The one tool for gardening is the winged weeder:


Conventional or especially organic, weeds are the problem, and this tool knocks them with minimum of effort. I've used them for many years, since wooden handle days, and they are quick and efficient. Unlike a hoe, us older folk can just lean on the tool to weed....

We used something similar in the vineyards to keep weeds under control. It had a straight or slightly crescent blade, not a delta wing. The Afrikaans name for it is a skoffel. I don't know the English term. You can do a big area quickly, provided the weeds have not grown tough stems.

sickle? scythe?

"Hoe," according to this site.

Ghung: I have similar experiences. Eg.,I picked up a nearly new $1500 European dishwasher for free from habitat which supposedly needed a new circuit board costing $400+labor. I chased the current flow and it died at a relay. Unsoldered the relay, took it to radio shack and they found a close match, soldered it in. Working fine for 2 years. What gives with appliance repair places ?? I advocate keeping reliable vehicles which are easily repaired like my 1982 MB 240 D. Huge engine bay with easy access, large car getting 36 mpg. Used as a taxi worldwide. Huge production run and parts still available world wide.Durable metal components, minimal plastic. All key components accessible. 30 min to R&R alternator, starters. As easy to work on as my Massey tractor. Almost no special tools ever needed.Contrast with my Toyota 4x4 pickup which requires 3-4 hours for the same repairs. The problem with new cars is that they are not designed to be easily repaired and many need dealers to do the work. Some makes like older Hondas and Toyotas are durable and reliable but the vast majority are not. In our little farm, our motto is if we can't fix it, we don't own it. My advice is to own quality tools, appliances, furniture, vehicles...whatever. Never, ever buy junk. The problem of course is that you are committed to owning mostly older, less complex stuff made in an era when durability and reliability were important. Life for the overweight and underskilled in sprawlamerica in the coming decades could be nasty, brutish, and short. Think Detroit, writ large. If you can, find someone who will teach you basic diagnostic repair and maintenance skills and hang close to them. Blow up the TV, can the dumbphone, getsome tools and get busy.

The problem with new cars is that they are not designed to be easily repaired and many need dealers to do the work.

No, it is worse than that! They are specifically designed so that the average person can't repair them. Special purpose tools being part of the design and package.

Too wide a brush - they are not all the same. There is a vast difference between various brands in this regard, and (obviously) the more unnecessary crap you have on the vehicle the more stuff will fail and the more difficult working on it will be. IMO the European brands are terrible in regards to complexity and difficult maintenance, especially VW group automobiles where common parts are placed in inaccessible locations almost gratuitously. You look at them and think - "that had to be intentional"......

Many of these repair difficulty issues come from improvments in manufacturing efficiency and expecting that certain parts will outlive the warranties. Repair seems like an afterthought. Case-in-point: To replace the right side spark plugs in my Ford Ranger, you have to remove the front right wheel and wheel well (fender liner). Weight saving and more complex systems also come into play. There's simply more stuff packed into a vehicle these days. Looking at the AC compressor on my Ranger, it looks like, to replace it, the radiator has to come out, though the repair manual (or Youtube) may offer a better solution.

I loved the old air-cooled VWs. I could pull the whole engine in about an hour, especially the vans ("Transporter", "Combi"). Sometimes, that was the easiest way to work on one. Pull the engine, clean/inspect it, new plugs, adjust the valves, and throw in a new clutch plate while your at it.

Yes, but if you had the 4-cyl Ranger the plugs would be more accessible. It is important to consider how one will maintain the equipment as part of the decision to take it on. It can seriously effect the viability of the choice, as all machinery places various burdens on the owner/user, including providing the energy and maintaining it.

I don't think the purpose of the design was to require specialized tools/skills to work on them. The purpose was to put a complicated design with lots and lots of parts into as small a volume as possible. But the result is the same. I can easily envisage connectors requiring specialized tools: your task, take the last .01cents out of the manufacturing line. And that means you design the optimal tool/connector for just that task. But, now you can't work on the vehicle with that (and hundreds more) highly specialized tools.

One objection I have that i think is often valid, is that doing something as a one off, you never get to benefit from the learning curve. And you either don't have the proper tools, or you end up buying tools that you may never/rarely use again. So you hire someone specialized enough, that they've got doing X efficiently figured out.

I've been amazed at some of the "low skilled" workers I've seen putting things together. I can't imagine being so fast/efficient. Guess they are forced to by slavedriving bosses. Nevertheless, it does seem like humans are pretty well designed for doing some particular task over and over real efficiently.

I've been amazed at some of the "low skilled" workers I've seen putting things together. I can't imagine being so fast/efficient.

The one routine task that I have utterly failed to master, even after years of trying, is replacing the nylon line on the weedeater.

The knobbles on the plastic spool seem to have been designed by sadists to foil your every attempt.

It happened again this morning. The line broke off and I had to take the spool off and feed more line out. Cue a 30-min interruption to a routine mowing job while I tried to put the spool back in the housing with the line protruding from the little holes.

I'm sure in the factory it's a matter of wind it on a machine and pop it into the housing within a few seconds.

No it is the Huxlian world we live in today. I have a degree in economics...read voraciously...have traveled worldwide....made it here 6 years ago...I can frame a house plumb it and put in electrical...including solar panels......but when I go to do general electrical on peoples house they look at me like I am a Beta something they don't want their kids to be...If you have people believe that they are in the right place for their abilities they are easier to control.....

this is a good huxley versus orwell cartoon

Your cartoon, from a seminal book in my education on the media. Thanks. Good one.

yes it is sad,funny, and true...

I too find this topic interesting and yes, I too am learning how to build and fix things around our homestead, but I don't consider it really sustainable. Every project seems to require a trip to the farm store, hardware store, or lumber yard. Most projects thus use oil in one form or another. On top of that building codes and best practices generally require commercial goods. By DIY with commercial goods, you are only eliminating the professional service which does save money and can be satisfying, but IMO it is not really being sustainable.

As I work on each project I often think of how could this be done without the commercial goods. In most cases if it could be done at all, it would be a lot harder and likely less durable. Sometimes I can eliminate the retail purchase by buying second hand goods, but I am still using commercial goods and for many projects it would be difficult to find an alternative to commercial goods without a substantial change in living standards. In a few cases I can eliminate the commercial goods but more often than not the non commercial goods rely on commercial goods. As an example, I am getting free horse manure for improving our soil. But that manure is the product of commercial feed from horses kept as pets on way too small properties. I am also getting it from stables that are 8 to 10 miles away.

This is, of course, the point of what it will be like as the oil age declines. Living standards will need to change. I rationalize my current projects by hoping that the investments that I am making now on our homestead will be useful in the future when commercial goods become less available or just unaffordable.

BTW sustainability to me means being able to built it from local resources from scratch. For example in Wales, at the time of the Saxon invasion, they had a law that said: "No man was allowed to guide a plough who could not construct one, and it was enacted that the ploughman should also make the ropes of twisted willow, or osier, with which it was dawn". [Samuel Copland, AGRICULTURE, A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF ITS PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE, EXEMPLIFIED IN THEIR RISE, PROGRESS, AND DEVELOPMENT, 1866, page 7. Search archive.org for download]


I don't think a collapse means that all things will stop being produced and we will have to build it from scratch, at least for us homesteader types. There will still be some manufacturing by specialist companies. Perhaps it will be solar powered 12 volt wringer washers instead of the new expensive circuit board junk. Where I live kids would get their new set of clothes at the beginning of the school year, by Sears catalogue. That was just 40 years ago. Now it is trip to town to some godawful mall. The road to town was a 3 hour gravel logging road ordeal. Or by boat. Before that it was by Union Steamships. Now it is 45 minutes on pavement. I wouldn't care if it reverted to the old beat up roads. Or the boats. I can get to town on my trail 90 if need be. Or, we can go by boat.

I haven't hired another tradesman for as long as I remember. I am a carpenter which means (I think) I should be capable of doing everything if I set my mind to it. My son is an industrial electrician getting a dual ticket in instrumentation. He lives just 300 metres from me. Between us I figure we can do whatever we need to get by. My 74 year old neighbour has been wrenching his own cars since he was a kid. He gives great advice.

I really don't see a busted economy allowing people to buy and operate ev cars that talk to other cars so stupid people won't run into someone. I believe ev cars of the future will be homemade, powered by home produced solar recharging systems. or, something low tech to that effect. People will also be using wood gas as well as rationed ff offerings to power that which they can afford. Cuba is a good example of making stuff last when required.

We'll get by. Now off to water the potatoes!! No rain for 36 days and none in sight in the long range forecast. At least the wind quit blowing and we got some fresh salmon in the boat. Three more good fishing trips and we have our years supply of fish.



I think you may be right in the short to medium run. And I too think that we will get by. There will still be some manufacturing, but there are limits. Many of today's commercial products depend upon components manufactured by large scale plants located in only a few parts of the world and way beyond anything that small manufactures could replace on their own.

I worry most about electronics especially silicon based components. According to Wikipedia there are only a couple of hundred of these plants in the world. And they require a large mass market to keep them operating and profitable. On top of that they require a huge ecosystem of knowledge workers. Their complexity is well beyond small scale manufacturing.

I do agree that some older technologies such as hit-and-miss, wood gas, and steam engines could be locally manufactured from salvaged materials as can all sorts of hand tools. And rationed FF could help to maintain living standards especially if used for work (chain saws, tractors). And it should be possible to keep some existing technology going for years even if it cannot be replaced.

And I too need to water our garden. I live about 100 miles south of you and like you we have not had any rain.

No more delays - Gov't won't accept further hold-ups in 360MW project's bidding process

Under pressure from several of the country's powerful private-sector groups, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining Phillip PAULWELL has hinted that the Government could step in and make a decision should there be another delay in the bidding process for its 360-megawatt (MW) project.

"The Government can step in and determine a solution on its own at anytime, but having given the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) powers to pursue this 360MW project, we are concerned with each passing day about the delays," PAULWELL told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We cannot allow anymore delays. This is absolutely the last delay that we are going to countenance."

PAULWELL made the comments just minutes after a joint press release was issued by the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

The OUR has been mandated to select a preferred bidder to undertake the construction of a 360MW-generating power plant to provide additional generating capacity to the national grid.

However, the OUR has, on more than one occasion, extended the deadline for the receipt of proposals from entities seeking to be selected for the project.....[snip]

The 360MW project is the primary means by which the Government is looking to slash energy costs by about a third. Local manufacturers and business leaders have long complained that the high cost of energy could derail the country's productive sector if an energy solution is not forthcoming.

Some dude calling himself "Solar Man" has posted a comment that, makes it sound like he read Friday's NYT article, "On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities".>;-)

Alan from the islands

For clarity, this 360MW plant will be natural gas, which the island has little of, rather than solar, which the island has an abundance of?

That is correct sir.

Alan from the islands

4 in 5 in USA face near-poverty, no work

The way I see it is the System Core is downsizing and gradually pushing people to the periphery. They have gradually been removed from their roles within the core system and placed into a kind of sand box for security. There they will receive assistance in the form of welfare, tools (alternative technology, etc) and re-education (open source, transition movement, tinkerers and makers, etc.) to slowly condition them to their new lifestyle and new economy. Eventually the amount of support will be reduced as the System core retreats, hopefully leaving a more resourceful and self-sufficient people behind.

I view the Periphery as a kind of crumple zone for the System. Still part of the System, but a part which can be sacrificed or discarded quickly should the need arise without any adverse affects on the System's core.

An orderly powerdown by the System to accommodate the effects of climate change, peak resources and financial collapse. People won't need to make difficult choices, they're already being made for them. And as people are preconditioned to their new circumstances, it will all seem quite normal... no nasty surprises.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's this country was in a state of constant conflict between the working classes and the elite ownership class, bordering on revolt and revolution. This didn't really end until the great depression, the establishment of a world wide empire and the age of oil kicking in for real after WWII. This brought so much wealth back home that the worker's cause lost all its fight and a large middle class heavily invested in the system was established to serve as a buffer. This was a stable arrangement.

Now however, the age of energy abundance is over and there isn't enough to go around anymore, so sharing enough of it with the masses to keep them comfortable is no longer possible. And the wealthy will have theirs if they can.

I don't think there is any need to guess at what the new arrangement will look like - it will look like it did prior to the grand bargain. Wealth concentration already exceeds what it did at the turn of the 20th century, and soon the conflict will return. The nature of that conflict will be quite different, as the organizations that existed then are mostly gone, so the anger will find different modes of expression.

@ Burgundy,

Well said. Last night we were at a barbecue/cricket match/beerfest where it was mentioned that a guy we know was building a bit of a shack on our friends property in exchange for help rebuilding some equipment. We live in a rural area of no building inspections or District snoopers except for septic system/health oversight. We live in the periphery, to use your term. What we see mostly is a way of life devoid of 'keeping up with the Jones family'.

I look forward to seeing that attitude spreading to larger centres, with new homes more focused on affordability, livibility, and realistic expectations. Other than families requiring two incomes to get by, (and despite yesterday's post about rising numbers of poor in Canada), it still seems like everyone around here lives quite well. The poorest among us still live like kings compared to other places...might have to lose the smokes and store bought booze, though.

I hope our new reality will see more people building their own dwellings, growing food, making their own beer, wine or liquor, and losing all the fluff regulations, (curbs, gutters, setbacks, etc). We are way over regulated and policed, imho. The 'periphery' might not be such a bad thing to see unfold.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughful post....Paulo

5 in 5 in USA need to learn WTF poverty is.

Scientists Envision Fracking in Arctic and on Ocean Floor

... Commercial production of methane hydrate is expected to take at least a decade—if it comes at all. Different technologies to harvest the gas are being tested, but so far no single approach has been perfected, and it remains prohibitively expensive. But booming energy demand in Asia, which is spurring gigantic projects to liquefy natural gas in Australia, Canada and Africa, is also giving momentum to efforts to mine the frozen clumps of methane hydrate mixed deep in seafloor sediment.

The biggest concern is that the sediment that contains methane hydrate is inherently unstable, meaning a drilling accident could set off a landslide that sends massive amounts of methane—a potent greenhouse gas—bubbling up through the ocean and into the atmosphere.

In the U.S., scientists explored the northern Gulf of Mexico in May to map some of the 6.7 quadrillion cubic feet of methane-hydrate clusters believed to be underwater there. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, a nonprofit group of researchers, is now trying to convince the Department of Energy to lend it a research drilling ship to do more tests.

The cost of developing this new source of energy remains high, with estimates ranging from $30 to $60 per million British thermal units. In the U.S., natural gas currently trades for less than $4 per million BTUs, as the rise of fracking produced a gas glut.

also Critics Warn of Environmental Hazards in Extracting Methane Hydrate

Tepco Under Increasing Fire Over Nuclear Accident Site

"I'd like to say myself how disappointed and distressed I was when I arrived in Japan," said Barbara Judge, a former chair of the British Atomic Energy Authority and deputy chair of the panel. "To find that communications with respect to the leak problem have been so difficult and so late was very devastating," she said.

...The latest focus of criticism involves contaminated water leaking into the sea. Tepco had been measuring rising levels of radioactive elements such as tritium and cesium in a series of coastal wells since May. But the utility said it didn't know whether the contaminated water was leaking into the sea.

This past week, Tepco finally revealed it had been collecting data that showed the well water was linked to seawater since January, provoking an outburst of indignation from the public and regulators.

For Lady Judge to be using words like "distressed" and "devastating", what she found must be really bad.

And this has me puzzled. Spotted it being discussed in comments over at ENE News.

Radiological Release Scheduled - Free Potassium Iodide available on August 8

On August 8, from 2 pm until 7 pm, the general public living within 10 miles of the nuclear power plants (Undertow: 3 Mile Island and Peach Bottom) can get free potassium iodide (KI) for their protection during a radiological release. The Dept. of Health will be sending out a press release. This is advanced information. Click here for a list of locations.

If you have any questions, contact the State Dept. of Health Office in Lancaster at [Number at link].

Of note the wording has changed now since I posted the link.

Press release from PA Dept. of Health:

News for Immediate Release

July 25, 2013

Department of Health to Offer Free Potassium Iodide Tablets on Aug. 8

Harrisburg – The Department of Health will provide free potassium iodide tablets
Thursday, Aug. 8, to Pennsylvanians who live, work or attend school within a 10-
mile radius of one of the state’s five nuclear power plants.

Potassium iodide, or KI, can help protect the thyroid gland against harmful
radioactive iodine when taken as directed during radiological emergencies.
Individuals should only take KI when told to do so by state health officials or the

Each adult will receive four 65-milligram tablets. Children will be given smaller
doses based on their age. Individuals can pick up KI tablets for other family
members or those who are unable to pick them up on their own. Directions
detailing when to take the tablets and how to store them will be provided with the

Anyone can take the tablets as long as they are not allergic to KI. They are safe for
pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, people on thyroid medicine,
children and infants. Individuals who are unsure if they should take KI should ask a
healthcare provider
KI tablets are also available throughout the year at county and municipal health
departments or state health centers.

Pennsylvania’s five nuclear power plants are closely regulated, secure and well-
maintained. The facilities are: Beaver Valley Power Station, Limerick Generating
Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station
and Three Mile Island Generating Station.

For more information, visit [www.] health.state.pa.us or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH
Media contact: Penny Kline, 717-787-1783
Editor’s Note: KI tablets will be available between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at
the distribution sites below in Pennsylvania. No appointments are necessary.
Beaver Valley Power Station
• Beaver County Emergency Services, 351 14th St., Ambridge

From a quick search I see NRC is now recommending all States emergency planning at least consider providing KI in advance to those within 10 miles of any plant. The KI is provided free by the NRC.


What kinds of things should States consider in deciding whether to incorporate the use of potassium iodide in their emergency planning?

Considerations to be evaluated by State and local authorities in deciding whether to institute a program for the use of potassium iodide by the general public include the following:

Whether potassium iodide should be distributed to the general population before an accident occurs or as soon as possible after an accident occurs.

Re: Gangplank to a Warm Future

Here's more on the commentary from the NYT:

...recent measurements by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at gas and oil fields in California, Colorado and Utah found leakage rates of 2.3 percent to 17 percent of annual production, in the range my colleagues at Cornell and I predicted some years ago.
A 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded that unless leaks can be kept below 2 percent, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal. And a study released this May by Climate Central, a group of scientists and journalists studying climate change, concluded that the 50 percent climate advantage of natural gas over coal is unlikely to be achieved over the next three to four decades.
Multiple industry studies show that about 5 percent of all oil and gas wells leak immediately because of integrity issues, with increasing rates of leakage over time. With hundreds of thousands of new wells expected, this problem is neither negligible nor preventable with current technology.

E. Swanson

Leaks are lost income, and it's still too much work to fix them.

Well, in areas where the other choice is to flare, that's not much of an incentive.

Personally, I think the cures for leaks is regulation plus high prices. Carrots plus sticks work pretty well with primitive beings like corporations.

I've seen enough sale gas bubbling off a 20' tank to frost it in the Texas sun. I've sat with field engineers who say they're losing 20% of their volume, probably to condensate evaporation. Hardly anybody is measuring what goes to flare, or what gases off their tanks.

I personally don't think much leaks at all from pipes -- sure, fittings and packing glands leak, but not much. Bad valves leak some. But most "leakage" is really uncontrolled venting by people and companies who simply do not care.

My personal opinion only, from my personal experiences. Your mileage may vary.

Five percent of wells having leaks, doesn't imply five percent of the oil/gas leaks. What matters for the climate is how much leaks in aggregate, not how many wells have small leaks. So we don't really have the numbers we need to evaluate the risk.

The numbers are irrelevant because we don't have the motivation to change anything anyway. Just look at the increase in global coal consumption lately for a pretty clear indication of what way we are headed.

...gas lacks any climate advantage over coal.

Did the "2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research" take into account methane released while mining coal?



Estimates vary somewhat, but methane from coal mines comprise about 15 percent of total domestic anthropogenic methane emissions. This study substantially increases the reliability of these estimates by adding emission measurements from 30 separate coal mine sites. Sampling efforts have focused on under-represented mining categories including surface mines, abandoned mines, and handling facilities. Two new quality assured and verified measurement methods have been developed for surface mines and coal handling facilities.

Also: Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP)

That's great news! Considering that coal is a close second behind liquid fuels that include oil, as an energy source.

Mods - the wording on the press release in my second link awaiting moderation has just been altered at source to remove the words "scheduled release" - Feel free to modify my post accordingly.

Feds want cars to talk to each other

Motor vehicles should be equipped with "connected technology" that could help drivers avoid accidents, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The call comes in a report NTSB filed following an investigation into a deadly collision between a Mack truck and a school bus at an intersection in New Jersey last year. NTSB concludes that connected vehicle technology, or machine-to-machine (M2M) communication tools, could have provided active warnings to the bus driver and possibly prevented the crash

Baby steps towards vehicle automation. Side effects aside this could also increase mileage by a few percentage points.

Or we could have the kids doing things good for both their bodies and brains, like walking, but no it's too dangerous and polluted to walk, so stick them in a dangerous and polluting vehicle that exercises neither their bodies nor their brains, and then waste time and effort on some technological gimmick to help reduce a secondary problem created by the use of dangerous and polluting vehicles. Ahhh, progress! What ever will it come up with next?

On the pollution side;
Car commuters came out worst off for exposure to consistently high levels of finer air pollutants, showing similar levels to some of the world's biggest cities.

Cyclists who travel on roads experienced cleaner air overall, but they were hit higher peaks of pollution than all other travellers, say the research team from University of Auckland, University of Canterbury and NIWA.


Given that there are about twice as many people around now, as there were when I was walking to school, there are at least twice as many psychopaths around, so I guess the 'safety' argument has some basis in fact.

I want none of the controls of an auto to be able to be affected by external signals. Really! Think about the level of hacking that could become possible, and the danger created with the quite thinkable 'malicious manipulation' of inter-vehicle signalling, no less than the similar possibilities for driverless auto software to either get hacked, or simply get confused by unpredictable situations.

Human drivers are imperfect, but are trained in visual and aural communication and interaction for an entire childhood before they can drive, AND, they will be held responsible by the society, which directly affects their decisions on the road.

I seem to recall you may be working on these developments, and I really don't intend any insult to your work personally, but I find the warning signs in such proposals to be simply enormous.

Yeah, and just wait for the legal responsibility finger-pointing when something goes wrong and causes an injury or death!

I totally agree with what jokuhl just said. "Every automation is an amputation".

You guys are just technophobes. Did the invention of message boards amputate your ability to have an argument?

No it amputated the time now spent online that once might be spent in face to face contact with other humans.

It might also be said that message boards have done a lot to amplify a level of pointless argumentation that both competes with decent intercourse, and also amputates the responsibility these perpetrators would have to take for their remarks, were they shared in person.

I'm anything BUT a technophobe, as my postings here can fully back.. but there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to use tools.. also there are dangerous applications, as we see with the High Tech treatment of foods and drugs, doing much to make their manufacture cheaper, but not really working towards making people healthier and safer. Look at what we're accomplishing with the drones.. the ultimate 'offshoring' of war crimes.

Some technophiles need to also become much more aware androphiles.

I seem to recall you may be working on these developments, and I really don't intend any insult to your work personally

No offense taken. I completely agree with whatever you said. I am doing this because I like working with algorithms and besides that I am just trying to make a living. Hopefully I will be able to do things with my skills which will negate the damage to a certain extent.

Sounds good,

Currently, I am constructing animated Store-window Christmas Displays, so I could hardly turn my nose at anyone.. tho' I must admit I'm having fun just building simple mechanicals with wood and using nice tools!

Dr Who had an episode with murderous snowmen. I guess Santa, or Reindeer -or even manger figures could be recruited to the cause of mayhem as well.

Well, I had been thinking automated (or partially automated) driving systems would save lots of lives and injuries. They still can. Its just that the hacking threat has to be considered.
Maybe the computer can be allowed to slow your car -but not speed it up. Not that you don't sometimes have to speed up to escape danger. But at least it makes murder via car hack tougher.

The Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) movement has been around for about two decades now. I recall attending a conference in Detroit in 1999 where all the new technology was being demonstrated. Little of what I saw ever hit the streets. The problem (from my view as a traffic engineer) is that these systems are designed as vehicle-to-vehicle communicators that can work well in the lab but are just not rigorous enough for the complexity of urban driving conditions.

Frankly, what we as humans do in driving is amazing. The cognitive skills required are extremely complex, yet some of our best drivers would score at the bottom of a standardized test like the SAT. By contrast, a university faculty parking lot can be a very dangerous place!

Some concepts, such as adaptive cruise control, have the potential to improve congestion significantly even if only 20 percent of vehicles are equipped with it. As others have pointed out, though, the small print liability language in the owners manual can really give one pause about trying it.

Even what appears to be a simple, practical idea, such as Minnesota's experiment with activated warning signs of on-coming traffic at low-volume rural intersections, can lead to critical questions such as what constitutes acceptable failure rates.

Whether peak oil arrives next year or in three more decades, we will continue to drive personal vehicles for a long time to come. I'm far less convinced than I was at that conference in 1999 that vehicle to vehicle communications will do what we think it will.

...can work well in the lab but are just not rigorous enough for the complexity of urban driving conditions

"Scalability" is one of things that sunk into my head from this site.
(Please don't completely go away OilDrum!)

Supporting evidence for the shift from a 3-cell to a 1 Hadley cell system ...

Ice-free Arctic winters could explain amplified warming during Pliocene

Scientists have proposed several hypotheses in the past to explain the warmer Pliocene climate. One idea, for example, was that the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, the narrow strip of land linking North and South America, could have altered ocean circulations during the Pliocene, forcing warmer waters toward the Arctic. But many of those hypotheses, including the Panama possibility, have not proved viable.

For the new study the research team decided to see what would happen if they forced the model to assume that the Arctic was free of ice in the winter as well as the summer during the Pliocene. Without these additional parameters, climate models set to emulate atmospheric conditions during the Pliocene show ice-free summers followed by a layer of ice reforming during the sunless winters.

... “We tried a simple experiment in which we said, ‘We don’t know why sea ice might be gone all year round, but let’s just make it go away,’ ” said White, who also is a professor of geological sciences. “And what we found was that we got the right kind of temperature change and we got a dampened seasonal cycle, both of which are things we think we see in the Pliocene.”

In the model simulation, year-round ice-free conditions caused warmer conditions in the Arctic because the open water surface allowed for evaporation. Evaporation requires energy, and the water vapor then stored that energy as heat in the atmosphere. The water vapor also created clouds, which trapped heat near the planet’s surface.

“Basically, when you take away the sea ice, the Arctic Ocean responds by creating a blanket of water vapor and clouds that keeps the Arctic warmer,” White said.

Can anyone tell me about this comment from above about Saudi Arabia...just wondering is this giving them cover to develop alternatives before they run out of easy oil?

The kingdom is now pumping at less than its production capacity as consumers limit oil imports, Alwaleed said.

Not good at all.

In the transition between solid ice and water a lot of energy will flow in one direction but once outside the limit a lot less energy flow is needed to change the temperature.

As i now and have been for a long time part of the poles are covered with ice and the line between ice and not could move up and down. Once the ice is gone the temperature could move more easily upwards.

One problem with this commentary is that the closure of the Isthmus of Panama may have actually cut the warming of the Arctic. That could be the result of blocking the flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific, shifting the warm current toward the North Atlantic. I think the press release writer got it backwards, but the abstract doesn't help either. Darned pay walls...

The amplification of Arctic terrestrial surface temperatures by reduced sea-ice extent during the Pliocene

E. Swanson

Arctic Sea Ice During the Pliocene Era, Science Daily, July 10, 2013

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations recently reached 400 parts per million for the first time since the Pilocene Epoch, three million years ago. During this era, Arctic surface temperatures were 15-20 degrees Celsius warmer than today's surface temperatures.

Ballantyne's findings suggest that much of the surface warming likely was due to ice-free conditions in the Arctic. That finding matches estimates of land temperatures in the Arctic during the same time. This suggests that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 400 ppm may be sufficient to greatly reduce the spatial extent and seasonal persistence of Arctic sea ice.

During the Pliocene global average temperature was decreasing from hotter conditions to the current cooler conditions. The temperature is currently increasing and the threshold between the two states might have different values depending on the direction of the trend.

Focusing only on the temperature trend, one can't know the underlying cause for that trend. The transition to the Ice Ages may have been a one way transition, the cause being the closure of the Isthmus of Panama. Moving back to a high CO2 environment with the Isthmus closed might not result in the same response in the climate system as existed before the closure. For that reason, I think that comparisons of the high CO2 Pliocene with the future of today's Earth may be misleading. What might result would be similar to what happened at the end of the Pliocene, when the glaciers began to build over Eastern Canada and Northern Europe, starting the repeated periods of ice growth and collapse seen the past 3 million years or so...

E. Swanson

Scientists collect water near site of blown well

Scientists are trying to figure out if a gas well that blew wild last week off the Louisiana coast is polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

The researchers gathered water samples about five miles from the rig Saturday. That's as close as Coast Guard officials allowed them to get.

As the researchers worked, federal and private vessels could be seen coming and going from the site.

... kinda like setting up the 'free speech zones' 3 miles from the GOP National Convention.

It's the sorta distance you pick if you don't want someone to find out about something

Global warming endangers South American water supply, study finds

Chile and Argentina may face critical water storage issues due to rain-bearing westerly winds over South America's Patagonian Ice-Field to moving south as a result of global warming.

A reconstruction of past changes in the North and Central Patagonian Ice-field, which plays a vital role in the hydrology of the region, has revealed the ice field had suddenly contracted around 15,000 years ago after a southerly migration of westerly winds.

This migration of westerly winds towards the south pole has been observed again in modern times and is expected to continue under a warming climate, likely leading to further ice declines in this area affecting seasonal water storage.

The North Patagonian Ice-field is vital to maintain seasonal water storage capacity for Argentina and Chile.

"Worryingly, this study suggests the region may well be on a trajectory of irreversible change, which will have profound impacts on agriculture and the increasing dependency on hydroelectric power in Chile and Argentina," Dr Fogwill said.

... scratch the SH grain belt

Higher cancer incidences found in regions near refineries and plants that release benzene

... The investigators found that the metro-Atlanta region, Augusta, and Savannah had the highest incidences of non-Hodgkin lymphoma even when controlling for population size as well as for age, sex, and race demographics of the local region. Also, the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was significantly greater than expected surrounding benzene release sites located in the metro-Atlanta area and surrounding one benzene release site in Savannah. For every mile the average distance to benzene release sites increased, there was a 0.31 percent decrease in the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Via wikipedia:

The American Petroleum Institute (API) stated in 1948 that "it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero."[47]

Arrow, still poisoned, with the victim impaled still asking how sharp the arrow was, and what the poison is, and exactly how dangerous the poison is, and how much more poison can be made, and what the decline rates for the poison are...

Benzene in, hits cytochrome P-450 system and really nasty chemicals emerge.

Russian Oil Giant Rosneft Sees 18% Profit Spike

Russia’s biggest oil firm, Rosneft Rosneft, reported an 18% increase in net profits on Monday to $4.4 billion. “The growth is mainly due to the expansion of the company’s operations on domestic and international markets, partly curbed by weakening on the global oil and petroleum product markets,” Rosneft said in a statement today.

Rosneft’s biggest problem is technology.

“The problem in Russia is all technical. And perception. They’re going to have a harder time getting the oil out of the ground in East Siberia because no one trusts the Russians,” said Tim Gramatovich, chief investment officer at the $270 million Peritus Asset Management firm in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“Rosneft doesn’t have a lot of high drilling costs but that is going to change as they have to drill deeper into the ground. Getting oil out is never easy and they are drilling in very isolated areas that require a lot of investment in infrastructure,” Gramatovich said. “For investors, these are difficult companies to own because the problem with Rosneft is that it is not run as a corporation. It is run as a government cash machine.”

Find helps scientists map waves of migration across the continents

Erik Trinkaus, who led an earlier Tianyuan study, said the find helped prove that as they began expanding beyond Africa, "modern humans spread and mixed with regional groups of archaic humans – what we call Neanderthals."

An early advocate of the view that H. sapiens assimilated Neanderthals via gene flows in early encounters, Trinkaus said advocates of the alternative viewpoint – that modern humans completely "replaced" Neanderthals – were continuing a century-long prejudice against the sister species. More than 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals, like H. sapiens, transformed beach shells into decorative beads, painted them, and engaged in other forms of symbolic behavior, added Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in Missouri.

During millennia of encounters in the Middle East, Neanderthals and H. sapiens connected up not only genetically, but also quite likely linguistically, according to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands.

In a just-released study, scholars Dan Dediu and Stephen Levinson state there is "a broad range of evidence from linguistics, genetics, paleontology, and archaeology clearly suggesting that Neanderthals shared with us something like modern speech and language."

And just as early modern humans outside of Africa carried a genetic component from the Neanderthal due to interactions and interbreeding in the Middle East, these H. sapiens also might have retained linguistic traces of these exchanges as they expanded across Asia, and then the Americas, Dediu said in an interview. It is possible, he added, that remnants of speech originating with the Neanderthals have survived into present-day languages.

And now this is much more bizarre. But this is from a reputable source.

Human hybrids: a closer look at the theory and evidence

There was considerable fallout, both positive and negative, from our first story covering the radical pig-chimp hybrid theory put forth by Dr. Eugene McCarthy, a geneticist who's proposing that humans first arose from an ancient hybrid cross between pigs and chimpanzees. Despite the large number of comments, here at Phys.org, on macroevolution.net, and on several other discussion forums, little in the way of a scientific consensus has emerged. By and large, those coming out against the theory had surprisingly little science to offer in their sometimes personal attacks against McCarthy.

Very roughly stated a previously published mainstream geneticist offers the opinion that humans are the product of a one in ten million chance viable hybrid back-crossed with chimps. Closest trait match to the other parent in an animal existing and known today? Erm: Pigs.

If you can read the entire story at http://www.macroevolution.net/human-origins.html just for amusement if nothing else.

I highly recommend the second (ie macroevolution) link. Fascinating reading.

Agreed. The first link is a good quick overview, too.

At first blush it sounded ridiculous, but reading it, it was kind of...convincing.

Dunno if I buy it, but it's an interesting idea. Not only with respect to humans, but the implications for evolution in general.

This begs the question: How in the world could a pig and a chimp reach the point of mating? The article provides a link which attempts to address this question:

In the case of a pig-ape hybrid backcrossing would most likely have been with chimpanzees because the mother in the initial cross would, almost surely have been a chimpanzee. There are at least three reasons to reach this conclusion. The first is that a chimpanzee penis would probably be incapable of impregnating a sow, but a boar's penis would be fully capable of carrying out the insemination process with sex roles reversed.2 The second is that a humanlike hybrid would likely require a long period of nurture that a sow would not be able to provide. The third is that during estrus a pink sexual swelling appears on the rump of the female chimpanzee. Chimpanzee males do not attempt to engage in coitus, even with females of their own kind, unless this swelling is present.3 A boar, on the other hand, will mount any immobile object capable of supporting him, and will voluntarily ejaculate even into an inanimate tubular receptacle if it is of suitable diameter. "It does appear then as if, as far as the boar is concerned, coitus is largely a mechanical process" (Rodolfo4). When threatened, chimpanzee females often attempt to appease the aggressor by crouching down and presenting their genitals...

To quote my ex son-in-law, who has far more experience with pigs, and observes and hunts wild boars: "A pig will frig almost anything he can get a hold of..."

Still, it seems to me that, if we are all descended from this one mating,

1. A lot of things had to go right for many generations

2. This crossing must have offered significant advantages to the offspring

3. Or,,, pigs and chimps got together more often than we would expect. Maybe female chimps decided they liked it ("I know, Lucy, but he's such a beast in bed!")

4. Or,,, some boar learned that female chimps were easy to rape, and we're all descended from him.

The Christians are going to have a time with this one...

I think it had to have been more than one mating.

The article speculates that hybrid matings might continue to occur today, in areas where chimpanzees and pigs share habitat, like southern Sudan.

Wow! Incredible but based on what little I know about hybrids and more importantly genetic chimeras it actually makes some sense.

Japanese scientists have an answer, and it's equal parts utterly bizarre and fascinating. The country's government has recently given researchers the go ahead to begin experimenting with human organs grown inside of the bellies of pigs.

Why pigs? Next to apes (which are endangered in the wild), pigs are pretty good matches for humans, physiologically speaking. That's one of the reasons why we slice into them in intro-level biology class, and why pigs have long been considered a potential source for xenografts, or animal-to-human organ transplants.

This experiment is different, though. Japanese researchers term it a "chimeric embryo," named after the lion-snake-goat hybrid monster in Greek myths

Gives a whole new dimension to eating bacon now, doesn't it?

Amazing! The issue of Neanderthal has always seemed pretty obvious to me - the two species occupied the same territory for 30,000 years, and certain features needed to survive at higher latitudes just happened to arise at that time - but the pig hybrid thing I had never seen. It seems to be a pretty strong case actually.

I'm gonna miss this place. Trying to discuss these things elsewhere would be like casting pearls before swine...... (sorry)

Re from above "Europe and China Agree to Settle Solar Panel Fight"

But a European Union official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been formally approved, said the two sides had agreed to a minimum price of 0.56 euros per watt (74 cents), which would base any potential surcharge on the amount of electricity generated by each imported panel.

If true, $.74 / (rated watt) is a slam dunk for China being no price increase at all. Europe has offered its PV manufacturers as a sacrifice to the dragon.

The fine print says only for 7GW of panels per year. Last year Europe boughtb 16GW. The rest is presumably covered by the tariff, which I think is higher.

My guess is they will get the worst of both. A higher price to be paid, and still lose the domestic producers.
So for Europe its likely a lose/lose. For China its party a win (higher prices for the panels they sell), but maybe also a loss, as presumably a foolish Europe won't be able to buy as many as they could have.

Climate study predicts a watery future for New York, Boston and Miami

A significant number of people in 1,700 American cities and towns will be living below sea-level by 2100

Those 1,700 towns are locked into a watery future by greenhouse gas emissions already built up in the atmosphere, the analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday found. For nearly 80 of those cities, the watery future would come much sooner, within the next decade.

"Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level," said Benjamin Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, and author of the paper.

Climate change seems to be like the cheesy Bond movie "A View to a Kill" wherein evil Zoran (Christopher Walken) planned to flood silicon valley. Except we are doing it to ourselves.

Scope of Alberta Oil Incident Worsens

CALGARY, Alberta—Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Canada's largest independent oil producer, raised the amount of oil released from an uncontained series of leaks at an oil-sands site in Alberta to nearly 6,000 barrels of heavy crude, up from an initial report of 175 barrels, regulators said.

Late Saturday, the province's regulatory authority changed the status of the incident to "ongoing" from "over" and raised the reported volume from four separate leaks to a total of 5,975 barrels of oil. That came more than a week after local media said more than 4,500 barrels of oil had leaked, citing internal company data.

For you silver coin holders out there who know more than me, I found How To Determine If Your Silver Coins Are Real and gave 60 of my American Silver Eagles the ring test. 57 of them have the same ring that fades away after 2 to 3 seconds. 3 of them have a lower pitched ring (more like a dull thud) that fades away after about 1 second. What sound do genuine coins make? Is the Silver Ring Test accurate? I am guessing I have 57 good and three bogus ones.

These 3 outliers are from a set of 20 coins with mixed dates that I bought in June 2013. They are dated and described:

1989 shiny
1990 shiny
1995 dull. There is a gouge or defect on the tail side between the wing and upper most left star.

These 20 coins might have been sold to the coin dealer earlier in the same day that he sold them to me.

Using a 4 foot long ruler balanced on a knife edge, I compared the weight of a coin that rings like the majority to the other three. Their weights are identical within the precision of the balance, about .0014 or .14%.

None are attracted by a magnet.

Silver Coin Dealers Are Reporting Very High Quality Fakes, May 17, 2013

I wonder about the electrical conductivity in the core of a fake coin. I would consider a magnetic levitator device that deliberately uses the coin as a short-circuit winding of a transformer and uses the eddy-current induced in it to try to levitate it... the lossier it is, the worse the energy transfer would be, and the levitation effect would be less. I am thinking of a variant of a levitator I built in Junior College as a prank to play on a machinist after he sent a volley of lathe collets over my workbench one day. It would levitate aluminum plates he placed onto the table and send them crashing onto the floor. I would trip it off with a hidden footswitch when he had his attention on something else. I noticed the aluminum got quite hot if the levitation trick did not go quickly.

Likewise, a lossy coin would heat up more quickly. An infrared thermometer taking timed readings could compare known good coin temperature profiles to the coin under test.

There are quite a few parameters that differ among the metals. Even if they got specific gravity nailed, did they also match electrical conductivity, specific heat, and like your ring test, maybe ring the coin as part of an electromagnetic resonator and check its "Q" and damping.

Something has to be done to tell the fakes from the reals, without having to involve an expensive expert, or the whole idea of precious metal coinage makes no sense.

U-tube videos show a neodymium magnet just barely sticking to the fake.

Wonder what kind of metal the fakes are made of.

I could measure their electrical resistance easily using a power supply, volt meter and current meter. If they are silver plated copper, I probably could not measure the difference in resistance.

I am measuring their thicknesses with a caliper that when used carefully can measure to .0001 inch or .0025 mm. Unfortunately it is not big enough to measure the diameter of the coins. So far their thicknesses are consistent within .001 inch, but I will have to measure more carefully.

What I am considering is you place the coin within a resonant coil to which a highly stable high frequency AC is applied ( much like the primary circuit of a switchmode power supply ). The intent is to see how severely the insertion of the coin to a known position within the coil loads the power circuit. The coin will appear to the circuit as a shorted secondary winding. This configuration should be quite sensitive to small changes in resistance. I would speculate you could see the resistance changing as the coin heats up.

Measure the heating with one of those "no contact" infrared sensors and compare it to the heatup profile of known good coins.

It would have to be incredibly sensitive. I tried measuring the resistance by putting 10 amperes through the coins and barely measured .1 mV, the minimum precision of my most sensitive DVM, yielding 10 µΩ +-10 µΩ which is consistent with silver and copper.

I do not think my induction cooktop would activate to induce current in the coins to do what you are suggesting.

I found a caliper that measures the diameter of the coins to a precision of .01 mm. The dimension of 6 ASE's vary a bit, thickness of the rims ranging from 2.68 mm to 3.08 mm (supposed to be 2.98 mm) and diameters ranging from 40.56 mm to 40.69 mm (supposed to be 40.60 mm). None of the coins are circular to a precision of .01 mm.

So far the only discrepancies are 3 coins fail the silver ring test and the the 1995 coin has an odd looking gouge on the rear.

If the local scrap yard has a Positive Materials Identification device, (looks like a big phasor) they can shoot it for you. If the bad guys have alloyed the silver with something (or used non-silver) that will detect it. If they have plated or cast silver around a slug it would not show unless you were willing to cut the coin in half.

Just a heads up for any Australian readers

Show of the week: Ten Bucks a Litre
ABC1, Thursday, 8.30pm
(and iView)

For his latest shout out, Smith spent a year investigating our energy consumption, the consequences and the alternatives. I'm not quite sure where the prediction that the price of petrol will be ''10 bucks a litre'' in the next couple of decades comes from, but it's an arresting idea and a handy metaphorical, if not literal, starting point for his basic argument: we can't keep burning energy the way we have been.

Dick Smith is an interesting character and he certainly understands the finite resources/population/sustainability boundaries.

Hey Ghung, a question about how you're running your solar "excess" loads. Are you just running a relay to turn on those loads when the batteries are fully charged or are you using the "FLEXmax Charge Controller AUX Diversion Solid State Relay (SSR) Feature – “Opportunity Load” Control" where the FM controller actually PWMs a solid state relay to gradually start feeding power to the excess load as soon as the battery charging enters the "absorption" phase?

Detailed here on the Outback FM forum


Also looks like you can't use any old DC SSR, the FM controllers PWM the SSR at 200Hz and most of the SSRs I find have a turn-off time of 5-10mSec. The Power-IO ones are spec'd to PWM at 15KHz, that's what the guy on the Outback forum is using.

Thanks for the link, Aug. I'm keeping it simple for now, using a standard 3500 watt AC water heater element ($10 at HD) supplied via a 40 amp air conditioner contactor relay tied to our 240 volt AC panel (supplied by our big Trace 4024 inverters). I use a basic 30 amp automotive relay to switch the 27 VAC contactor coil (27 VAC provided by our doorbell transformer). The automotive (12 volt DC fog light relay) is controlled by the FM80's aux relay (providing 12 VDC on/off) which is set in the low battery disconnect mode ( set to 29.1 volt on, 26.8 volt off with a 60 second delay). These settings prevent any cycling of the batteries, except with the occasional cloud (hence the 60 second delay).

I tried using the FM 80's diversion relay mode but it was switching too frequently (couldn't get the hysteresis quite right). During nominal solar production, (once the batteries are fully charged) the dump load stays on about 5-10 minutes and switches off for about 2-3 minutes. During really good solar production, it stays on for long periods, since the PV arrays are outputting well over the the dump load. Each one of the inverters is only giving up <40% of it's rated output to the dump load, so they're not being stressed too hard. Their normal loads are usually quite low.

While I'm considering more elegant solutions (like in the link), all seems to be working quite well. All parts are readily available and the AC contactors are beefy and cheap, as are the other parts. It could be a bit more efficient, but since I'm just dumping surplus power, throwing on more complexity seemed like a waste of time. When I replace the Trace inverters with a new Outback I'll either dedicate the Traces to dump load only or come up with a different configuration like a DC-direct dump load. For now, switching that many DC amps seemed problematic ($$$). As is, I spent about $20, mostly using stuff I had laying around.

We've run our tankless propane backup water heater maybe three days since I installed this dump load early spring. In winter, the woodstove makes most of our hot water. Having the 1600 liter storage tank is the key (heats the floors as well). Several people tried to talk me out of that crazy idea.

God help anyone who has to figure this stuff out in the event of my demise. At least it helps provide a little marital security ;-)

I suppose I should write an owner's manual for the house, attach it to my will.

Yeah, when I get to setting up some diversion I'll start off somewhat the way you're doing it. I'll be doing it with DC, I have some slow 60 amp SSRs around here somewhere.

Right now I'm doing some cleanup on a 1988 MTD Garden Tractor and accessories I picked up at a yard sale for $250. 18HP B&S engine. But what's real nice is that it included a 47" mower, 48" tiller, cultivator and blade! In nice condition and runs great too! If I find an appropriate electric motor someday it would be great to convert the tiller and use it with my E-15 ElecTrak.

I suppose I should have added that I have multiple arrays feeding four OB charge controllers. The other three charge controllers will continue to work in their normal MPPT modes, providing a buffer of sorts. Switching the diversion load on and off will modulate their output some. I had to play with their settings a bit (set their bulk voltage a bit higher). Having all of the Outback stuff connected via the Hub/Mate means everything is well behaved. Having ~6500 watts to play with is the kicker.

...and I so want a PV-charged electric farm vehicle. I have just under a kW of PV and a (24/36/48 volt) charge controller sitting idle just for that purpose. Even an old golfcart would be fun and useful for light chores.

There is a refined version of that Logic by the same developer in the latest firmware for the Midnight classic Controller called "waste not" There are some Youtube videos on it, It diverts "free" power in all charge modes except bulk and supposedly without affect on the smart charging stages... quite an accomplishment.

Interesting segment I heard on NPR yesterday about Electric vehicles not being a “green” solution. The article outlining the argument is here: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/unclean-at-any-speed .

This article has been out for a while and has been effectively discredited. See the first comment to this article by a person from the Union of Concerned Scientists who have studied this and put out a report a couple of years ago on the benefits of EVs over ICEs. It's unfortunate that an organization like IEEE published such an article that has so little actual factual data and the author only cherry picked data to fit his agenda.

Yeah, Ozzie is just running a cottage industry providing cover for people that want to bash green energy. The arguments are a bit half-baked.

He goes off on rare earth metals . . . but the Tesla doesn't use such rare earth metals in its motors. Much of the battery complaining is based on old school batteries like lead-acid and NiMH. Modern automotive Li-Ions are actually not very toxic at all. It depends on the specific chemistry used. The CEO of BYD famously drank the electrolyte of his automotive battery to show how nontoxic they are. And the batteries can and will be recycled.

Are EVs hugely better than gas cars? No . . . most of a typical EV is the same as a gas car. But eliminating the use of oil helps a lot. Electricity is much cleaner because centralized electric power plants tend to be much more efficient than car gasoline engines and the grid can use a lot of CO2-free power such as hydro, wind, solar, nuclear, etc. And the electric grid can become cleaner over time whereas gasoline is now becoming dirtier over time as we shift from conventional oil to fracked shale, heavy oil, and tar sands.

I sent an email complaint to the editors of IEEE Spectrum about publishing such a poor-quality article. No response. IEEE Spectrum seems to like to publish a lot of articles bad-mouthing electric cars -- very strange for an organization of EE's.

BP Gulf of Mexico fund running out of cash

BP's compensation fund that it set up to pay claims related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is running out of cash.

The oil giant announced that the fund, which originally had $20bn, has just $300m left.

The deadline for business to claim loss of earnings due to the spill is not until April next year.

BP put $1.4bn aside in its second quarter to cover the costs of claims.

BP says once the fund runs out, further claims will come straight out of future profits...

...The company also said that it remains in a legal dispute over a court interpretation of the settlement agreement which was signed in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BP said the agreement allows businesses in the US to make claims for losses that don't actually exist.

Not so easy to beg buy forgiveness, eh?

I have heard from credible sources working with the claims processing system, that some of the claims for compensation are truly outrageous. Like any big compensation scheme, it will attract its share of leeches looking to make a quick buck.

In another example of mass-litigation culture here in the UK, we recently were exposed to rapid cost escalation for car insurance, driven largely by spurious claims for 'whiplash' injuries, fueled by a 'no-win no fee' pack of legal firms. Recent legislation to combat the bogus claims has been partly responsible for the significant (relative!) drop in car insurance premiums.


I think we have a bit of the opposite problem over in the states. Back injuries are really nasty, but that is not at all apparent to jurors who haven't had one, and the major insurers are frequently able to deny the damaged, leaving an injured person with a likely lifelong condition to fend for her/himself.

So it cuts both ways really. How can the system verify what is a real injury, and what is faked or overblown?

Explosions rock propane plant in central Florida, 7 hurt

...an estimated 53,000 propane cylinders were kept on the property.


Nearby, three 30,000-gallon tanks of propane sat untouched. Officials said hoses designed to spray water on the large tanks in case of fire, didn't go off as planned.

Lucky those 30,000 gallon tanks didn't explode, considering the automatic fire suppression system failed.

From: Can Triumph Over Peak Oil Continue In A Post-Monetary Stimulus World?

It is therefore, I believe fair to conclude that peak oil is a myth, fiction, a scare tactic, and a host of other things that the other side labeled it, only and only if [sic.] the monetary stimulus we see being injected in the global economy will continue to flow. If and when, for any reason, the monetary stimulus is removed, all bets are off.

One hardly knows what to say. Myth? Fiction? Scare tactic?!

Hardly myth since the parameters have been show to be factually true... the variations over time have been minimal at best. And not fiction for the same reason. On the other hand, perhaps Peak Oil should have been a scare tactic. That it requires extended QE to maintain the BAU paradigm indicates to me that perhaps BAU is the myth.

And of course, the premise presented includes the assertion that The Oil Drum is stopping because Peak Oil has been disproven, so that we and ASPO are used to justify his conclusion.



Possibly there's some sarcasm there, suggesting that if those things the 'other side' are saying about peak oil are correct, then get rid of the artificial stimulus and let's see what happens.

I'm curious to see what happens as well, but not just in the US. There's a whole lot of stimulus printing/borrowing going on around the world. If the current oil price, (that provides in part non-conventional sources) is not too high then let's put it to the test and stop all QE. I think on TOD we know it will lead to recession. It may also lead to lower oil prices which will knock off some of the marginally priced sources, which will compound the problem by reducing supply. Face it we're probably on borrowed time.

IMO, Earl, if the stimulus is what is allowing the price to remain high, then the longer the stimulus continues the higher the price will go. Either way there will be a testing, and a reality check at the end. Either stimulus will have to continue, or BAU will not be able to continue. Again, IMHO.

I think most here have known for quite a while that we are on borrowed time. And that the longer BAU is forced to continue, the faster the fall will be at the end. (that is where the time will be repaid!)

I would have said yes to the possibility of sarcasm, except for his use of TOD's demise as proof source. It is sometimes hard to tell with these folks.


I would have said yes to the possibility of sarcasm, except for his use of TOD's demise as proof source. It is sometimes hard to tell with these folks.

Agreed on all counts, and looking to TOD's demise as support to deny peak oil smells of desperation. Should be interesting to see how far the whole fancy fiscal footwork stimulus can last and the fallout/step down once it stops.

Why isn’t Saudi Arabia a threat to Fracking?

Re: Saudi Prince: Fracking Is Threat To Kingdom
(Several media outlets are carrying the story)

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi Arabian investor, has warned that his country’s oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to competition from the US shale revolution, setting him at odds with his country’s oil ministry and Opec officials. In an open letter addressed to Ali Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, the prince called on the government to accelerate plans to diversify the economy.

A combination of a couple of posts I made following the WSJ version of the story:

The story discussed a letter from a prominent Saudi warning that Saudi Arabia is increasingly vulnerable to competition from the “US shale revolution.” I would turn the question around and ask why is Saudi Arabia not a threat to fracking?

Note that as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005, Saudi net oil exports increased from 7.1 mbpd in 2002 to 9.1 mbpd in 2005 (million barrels per day, total petroleum liquids + other liquids, EIA). The Saudi Oil Minister, in early 2004, explicitly stated that the large increase in Saudi net oil exports was an attempt to bring oil prices in line with the then stated goal of maintaining a $22 to $28 oil price band. In any case, at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in Saudi net oil exports, their net oil exports would have been over 16 mbpd in 2012, as annual Brent crude oil prices more than doubled again, from $55 in 2005 to $112 in 2012, with one year over year decline in oil prices, in 2009.

However, in contrast to the 2002 to 2005 Saudi response to the price doubling, the Saudis have shown seven straight years of annual net exports below the 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd, with Saudi net oil exports ranging between 7.6 and 8.7 mbpd for 2006 to 2012 inclusive.

If the Saudis have virtually infinite oil reserves, and their public pronouncements continually suggest that they have the “capacity” to produce well in excess of 12 mbpd almost indefinitely, why are they allowing high oil prices to encourage alternative sources of oil production, e.g., the very expensive and very high decline rate shale plays in the US?

While it’s certainly at least possible that the Saudis abandoned their traditional swing producer role, and decided to encourage, starting in 2006, higher oil prices, and thus more competition, by cutting their net oil exports, it’s also at least possible, as Matt Simmons suggested in 2005, that Saudi oil fields are finite after all.

I realize that this is a controversial assertion--that Saudi Arabian oil fields are not infinite--but it’s a possibility that is at least worth considering.

Incidentally, at the 2005 to 2012 rate of decline in the ratio of Saudi liquids production to liquids consumption, I estimate that Saudi Arabia, like many other former net oil exporters, e.g., Indonesia, could be approaching zero net oil exports in about 27 years. This would imply that Saudi Arabia may have shipped about half of their post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports of oil by the end of 2017.

In fact, an examination of 2005 to 2012 data indicate that a majority of the Top 33 net oil exporters in the world in 2005 are already headed toward the point in time when they would become members of AFPEC--the Association of Former Petroleum Exporting Countries.

While currently increasing US crude oil production is very helpful, it is very likely that we will continue to show the post-1970 "Undulating Decline" pattern that we have seen in US crude oil production (currently US crude oil production is about 25% below our 1970 peak rate).

The very slow increase in global crude oil production since 2005, combined with a material post-2005 decline in Global net oil exports, have provided considerable incentives for US oil companies to make money in tight/shale plays. But I think that the assertion by many in the Cornucopian camp that shale plays will result in a virtually infinite rate of increase in global crude oil production is wildly unrealistic.

We are still facing high--and increasing--overall decline rates from existing oil wells in the US. At a 10%/year overall decline rate, which in my opinion is conservative, the US oil industry, in order to just maintain the 2013 crude oil production rate, would have to put online the productive equivalent of the current production from every oil field in the United States of America over the next 10 years, from the Gulf to the Eagle Ford, to the Permian Basin, to the Bakken to Alaska. Or, at a 10%/year decline rate from existing wells, we would need the current productive equivalent of 10 Bakken Plays over the next 10 years, just to maintain current production.

On the natural gas side, a recent Citi Research report (estimating a 24%/year decline rate in US natural gas production from existing wells), implies that the industry has to replace virtually 100% of current US gas production in four years, just to maintain a dry natural gas production rate of 66 BCF/day. Or, at a 24%/year decline rate, we would need the productive equivalent of the peak production rate of 30 Barnett Shale Plays over the next 10 years, just to maintain current production.

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

For more info, you can search for: ASPO + Export Capacity Index.

Ridiculous charts. 15 was the worst, 'we wont even need oil in 2040 because renewables will be a whopping 10.8% of energy consumption'. Apparently oils' share of world energy is falling, and gas is rising, while the facts show plain as day coal has been the clear energy of choice, when it comes to rising total share.

If fracking made gas so cheap we are now using as much of it as we did in 2000, then why is fracking going to make oil so cheap we will be using less of it?

These charts are only terrifying to people naïve enough to believe that journalists have something useful to say.

EDITORIAL - Incompetence with energy

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) must quickly decide whether it is up to the job it is mandated to perform. If it is not, it must move over and let someone else get on with it.

We especially refer to the agency's ability to determine Jamaica's future energy needs, the fuel mix that will meet those requirements at the cheapest cost, and to evaluate bids that will deliver power most economically.

To be frank, this newspaper is not now sanguine of the OUR's capacity to deliver. Nor are we any more convinced that the Government is appropriately seized of the importance of the urgency with which the matter needs to be resolved.

Or, maybe it is that our people are playing games, or have motives understood only by themselves. For when seemingly rational people engage in irrational behaviour, it is cause to wonder.

If they only knew!

Having registered at this site 5 years and 8 weeks ago, after lurking for a couple of months, this is the sort of thing that makes me feel like I'm lost in the twilight zone. If it weren't for all of you, my buddies here on TOD I would feel very lonely. Don't know what I'm gonna do with all o' you!

Back to the subject at hand, I tried to inject some perspective into the comments by posting one comment as a "peakist" and one as a solar energy advocate but up to the time of this post, neither of my comments have been approved by the moderators one of which has been posted at the time of this post, to join a bunch of mostly puerile and/or parochial comments.(see if you can spot it ;-)

According to this Tender Opening Results - Renewable Energy Generation (PDF), there are some 1.9 billion US dollars ready willing and able to come and eat the lunches of anybody brave(stupid?) enough to invest in a plant using FF to generate electricity in Jamaica. Of course these funds are being held in check by the OUR but the Tender Results might be a fair indication of what could happen if they opened the floodgates.

Alan from the islands

PS. Wish I could understand the logic employed by the spam filters, This post passes right through but, one I made further up with four words and no links was c queued for moderation. Go figure! (edit: insert correct spelling of queued)

Wagner, in Bayreuth, enters the World of Oil!

The Real Rhinemaidens of Route 66
Wagner’s ‘Ring’ Opens at Bayreuth

Wagner traditionalists incensed by Frank Castorf’s new production of Wagner’s “Ring” here at the Bayreuth Festival, which presents the epic cycle as a story of the global race for oil ricocheting from North Texas to the Caspian Sea, should take some solace: It could have been worse.

In “Rheingold,” we find the god Wotan and his unruly clan in a tawdry, wasted state. The story is presented in and around a place called the Golden Motel, its name ablaze in bright lights, a tacky establishment on Route 66 in Texas. The imposing, colorful set (designed by Aleksandar Denic) rotates on a circular platform to reveal the motel’s dingy rear alley, a balcony from a second-floor room, and the gas pumps outside the front office.

The three Rhinemaidens look like bored onetime vamps with long, curly locks wearing skimpy summer outfits.

Wotan (the compelling baritone Wolfgang Koch), dressed like some dissipated Texas oil man in a rumpled suit, is first seen taking the call while in bed with Fricka, his wife, and Freia, Fricka’s sister. They are all fully dressed, but entangled in a way that suggests that this sleeping arrangement is not uncommon at the Golden Motel.

The setting here seems vaguely meant to be Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, which was both a hotbed during the Russian Revolution and a major center in the global oil boom. There is another rotating set, this one an amazing construction of wood stairs, platforms, an oil rig tower and an old barn, which is both a working site and the home of Sieglinde and her brutish husband, Hunding (the powerful bass Franz-Josef Selig).

During several scenes, including the great, emotionally complex encounter in Act II when Fricka and Wotan argue over what to do about Siegmund, we see what looks like old film footage of workers in oil fields and drilling sites projected on an unfurled white sheet.

Götterdammerung !