Drumbeat: August 7, 2013

Tanzania to Export Electricity While Most of Its Citizens Lack Power

While the construction of the $300-million electrical plant, to be powered by recently discovered reserves of natural gas, could potentially be a positive development, the announcement that Tanzania intends to export electricity within two years demonstrates that the construction of this facility is far from a nation-building, development-oriented undertaking. Tanzania’s plans to export electricity while the vast majority of its population lacks access to power illustrates some of the most perplexing and damning characteristics of the international economic system.

Given the impossibility of extending electricity to the 86 percent of Tanzanians without access within the next two years, it is obvious that the Tanzanian government has prioritized an export-oriented economy over nation building. The intricate calculus that informs such a policy calls into question the state of Tanzanian domestic politics and sheds light on the nature of Chinese engagement in the region.

WTI Crude Fluctuates Amid Signs U.S. Fuel Stockpiles Fell

West Texas Intermediate swung between gains and losses before government data forecast to show U.S. crude inventories fell to a six-month low. London-traded Brent slid for a fourth day.

Futures fluctuated after declining for three days in New York. Stockpiles declined by 1.5 million barrels to 363.1 million last week, a Bloomberg News survey showed before the report from the Energy Information Administration. That would be the fifth drop in six weeks. Prices jumped after German industrial production rose in June, adding to signs that growth in Europe’s largest economy accelerated in the second quarter.

Natural Gas Declines for Fifth Day on Mixed U.S. Weather Outlook

Natural gas declined a fifth day in New York after trading at the lowest in more than five months.

Futures for September delivery fell as much as 0.8 percent to $3.292 per million British thermal units in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and were at $3.299 at 10:32 a.m. Singapore time. The contract closed at $3.318 yesterday, the lowest settlement since Feb. 22.

Palladium Shortages Spur Bullish Hedge-Fund Wagers

At a time when gold and silver are tumbling the most in three decades, hedge funds are holding a near-record bullish bet on palladium as forecasters from Morgan Stanley to Credit Suisse Group AG predict years of shortages.

Peak Oil Is Finally Here

Rising production and falling demand is a dynamic few predicted even three years ago. But it's today's reality. And it can stop the end-of-the-world peak oil argument dead in its tracks.

These comments tend to bring up one question and one rebuttal.

The question is, Why hasn't this lowered gas prices?

There are two answers. One is that nationwide gas prices are lower today than they were five years ago, so the impact rising production may have on prices is a matter of perception. Second, and more important, oil trades on a global market, and rising American production has been offset by geopolitical factors like Iranian sanctions.

Mexico Leader Said to Seek Changes to Break Oil Monopoly

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will seek to amend several articles of the constitution to break Petroleos Mexicanos’s monopoly in the state-run oil industry, ruling party President Cesar Camacho said.

Pena Nieto will propose production-sharing contracts for oil exploration and output, Camacho said in a phone interview today. The proposal will seek to change articles 25, 27 and 28 of the constitution, and tenders for the most part would be managed by government regulators, and not by the state-company known as Pemex, two people with direct knowledge of the bill said yesterday. They asked not to be named because the bill will be officially presented later this week.

BP Says Azerbaijan Will Finalize EU Gas Sale Deals Next Month

BP Plc said partners in Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz natural-gas project will finalize gas sales agreements with European buyers in September.

Terms of sales have already been agreed with a number of buyers in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria, the BP office in the Azeri capital of Baku said by e-mail late yesterday.

BHP’s CEO Sees U.S. Shale Expansion as Mineral Demand Grows

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, signaled it will expand in the shale oil and gas industry in the U.S., forecasting global commodity demand will jump 75 percent over the next 15 years.

“It’s my intention to make us hugely proficient, if not one of the leaders in the shale gas and oil business,” Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive officer of the Melbourne-based company, said today in an interview. “Which means if there are opportunities elsewhere we’ll be able to consider them with a lot of precision and interest.”

Pepco to Exelon Seek Rate Hikes to Deter Power Grid Hacks

Pepco Holdings Inc. and Exelon Corp. are among the electric utilities seeking authority to raise customer rates or take other steps to recoup costs of meeting U.S. demands to protect the nation’s power grid from hackers.

Utilities face increased expenses to comply with cybersecurity regulations being developed by President Barack Obama’s administration, and representatives of several power companies said they want regulators to clarify how they can recover those costs.

Chubu Electric to acquire 80% of power retailer

NAGOYA – Its revenues narrowed by the indefinite shutdown of its only nuclear plant, Chubu Electric Power Co. has signed a contract to acquire an 80 percent interest in Diamond Power Corp., a small electricity supplier affiliated with Mitsubishi Corp., on Oct. 1 and will consider selling electricity in eastern Japan to expand its earning potential in the future.

Japanese Battery Trial Seeks to Transform How Grids Work

On a windy island 500 miles north of Tokyo, Japan is about to experiment with a battery designed to transform the way electricity is supplied and at the same time boost Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic rescue plan.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is investing 20 billion yen ($203 million) on a Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. device to be used by Hokkaido island’s utility to store excess solar and wind power, stabilizing flows to consumers.

‘Thousands’ of protestors could descend on UK fracking site

UK campaign group No Dash for Gas says it plans to link up with protesters in the village of Balcombe, in what is rapidly turning into a battle over the future of fracking in the country.

No Dash For Gas activists gained widespread attention last August, when they shut down a power station in West Burton for seven days, and were subsequently sued for £5m in damages by EDF.

Goals Collide in Drilling Protests

Shale gas, which in North America has increased natural gas supplies and helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has given rise to great anxiety in Europe, where there are environmental concerns, including fears that the extraction process may pollute groundwater.

One could argue that the activists are overplaying their hand in Balcombe. The main aims of the protests are to prevent shale gas drilling and particularly hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the injection of large quantities of water and sand into the ground under high pressure to break up rock formations to release trapped natural gas.

Yet Caudrilla is drilling in Balcombe for oil, not natural gas, and says it has no plans to use fracking at the well. The protesters do not seem concerned with such details.

Jeff Rubin: Energy East pipeline is no magical oil sands solution

Shipping oil across Canada to the Atlantic coast, as TransCanada proposes to do with its Energy East project, is hardly the industry’s first choice. Taking oil south to the Gulf coast via Keystone XL or west through British Columbia are clearly more expedient options. Still, it’s no surprise to see Energy East jump ahead in the queue, given the public and political opposition facing the other routes.

What will be surprising is if Quebec embraces the proposal. This is a province with enough environmental mettle to turn its back on drilling for potentially rich shale gas reserves in the St. Lawrence Valley. The tragedy at Lac-Megantic, it goes without saying, also puts the business of moving oil into the public consciousness as never before. Does Quebec really want more than a million barrels of oil coursing through its territory every day? Better yet, should it?

Battle over American pipe dreams

With the UAE scheduled to have the first phase of its vast planned freight rail network operational by the middle of next year, Canada's worst train accident in 150 years last month may have future resonance in the Emirates.

And the UAE's recent opening of the Habshan-Fujairah oil pipeline, which runs from the Habshan onshore field in Abu Dhabi and runs to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, could also spur a future debate mirroring the present battle in the United States over the relative safety of pipelines and rail.

More oil may spur petrol price rise

Would the Keystone XL pipeline raise US petrol prices?

It seems a counter-intuitive query, given that the new infrastructure would enable hydrocarbons to be moved easily, and more cheaply, from tar oilfields to refineries.

New Tools Pinpoint Natural Gas Leaks, Maximizing a Fuel’s Green Qualities

WASHINGTON — Natural gas is hailed as green and safe, but its environmental benefits and ability to temper climate change are reduced by its tendency to leak into the air undetected. Now, laser technology, some of it borrowed from the telecommunications industry, is giving engineers and scientists crucial new tools to measure leaks and track them to their source.

Probe of Keystone Contractor Energizes Pipeline Opponents

An ethics probe of the contractor assessing the environmental impact of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline has energized critics who say it should be grounds for the project to be delayed.

The State Department inspector general’s office said it is looking at conflict-of-interest complaints relating to the contractor writing the analysis of the $5.3 billion pipeline, which would connect Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Judge intervenes as BP won't pay on Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS A court hearing is set for BP to justify why it has refused to pay more than $130 million in fees to the administrator of its multi-billion dollar settlement with U.S. Gulf Coast businesses and residents after the company's 2010 oil spill.

Apache shuts platform after oil release into Gulf of Mexico

(Reuters) - Apache Corp said it shut down an oil platform after an accidental discharge of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The company, in a filing with the U.S. National Response Center, said the discharge from an exploration and production platform near Grand Isle, Louisiana, was due to an oil release from a vent boom.

Japanese Government to Help Stabilize Nuclear Plant After Leaks

TOKYO — The Japanese prime minister directed his government on Wednesday to step in to help stabilize the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after continuing radiation leaks exposed the failure of the plant’s operator to contain the problem more than two years after a triple meltdown.

Tepco needs public cash to dig deep wall

The public must help fund Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s effort to freeze the soil around the reactor buildings at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, creating a barrier to prevent more groundwater from becoming radioactive, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

Green Price War Breaks Out to Spark Interest in Electrics

As the auto industry struggled to recover from the recession, it swore off the deep discounting that destroyed profits and led to disaster. Now, a price war has erupted in the industry’s smallest segment: electric cars.

General Motors Co.’s $5,000 price cut yesterday on its Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicle came in response to rapid-fire discounting on battery-powered models this year. It began with Nissan Motor Co. slicing $6,400 off the sticker of its Leaf electric car in January, followed by price cuts from Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. on their EVs.

Average U.S. car is 11.4 years old, a record high

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - If the cars you see on the road these days seem a little run down to you, you might be on to something.

The average age of vehicles on America's roads has reached an all-time high of 11.4 years, according to the market research firm Polk. And that average age is sure to keep climbing, the firm said.

Major fire closes Kenya airport; flights rerouted

"It is a disgrace of biblical proportions that the entire Nairobi County does not have a public fire engine in working condition," the paper wrote in an editorial last month. "When (government leaders) were debating their budgets, they did not deem it fit to set aside money either to buy new ones or repair the old ones. But they did set aside money to build mansions for governors, (buy) big vehicles for county executives and other needs without a direct benefit to Kenyans."

The paper said the collapse of the fire department means responses to disasters is in the hands of private companies and the military.

CDC: Childhood obesity rates falling in many states

Frieden called three trends associated with the declining rates "encouraging."

The first includes changes in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which now aligns more closely with the dietary guidelines for Americans, he says. The second is a steady increase in breast-feeding, even though its impact on childhood weight is controversial. The third includes changes led by programs such as Let's Move!, an initiative developed by first lady Michelle Obama to tackle childhood obesity. Those efforts have increased awareness of healthy eating and active living, he adds.

Worker Bees on a Rooftop, Ignoring Urban Pleasures

On the rooftops above the office canyons of Midtown Manhattan, there is a corporate life for bees where new colonies pollinate green roofs and produce honey for the lucky tenants working below.

At One Bryant Park last summer, Richard Kohlbrecher, who is allergic to bee venom, first saw hundreds of honeybees darting in and out of the sprawling sedum ground cover on the green roofs he was inspecting. He turned his initial alarm into a housing plan for the secret tenants.

“I had never seen that before and it got me thinking: if there are that many bees in Midtown, maybe it makes sense to put up some hives,” said Mr. Kohlbrecher, vice president for operations for The Durst Organization, which owns the company’s 51-story-tower at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue. The skyscraper houses the corporate and investment businesses of the Bank of America as well as Durst’s offices.

U.S. lawmakers mull climate impact of LNG

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- A bicameral task force on climate change called on the Energy Department to assess the environmental impact of liquefied natural gas exports.

A task force on climate change, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called on the Department of Energy to take a closer look at the dozens of applications to export liquefied natural gas.

Climate change softens up already-vulnerable Louisiana

On this sunny day, the Tarpon Rodeo — billed as "the oldest fishing tournament in the United States!" — is underway, with fishing boats and truck-bed hot tubs competing in nearly equal numbers on the road . But beneath the sunshine here on the edge of this vanishing wetland, human mistakes are adding up.

Indeed, the in-your-face transformation — a product of climate change and the rewiring of the Mississippi — is threatening the spawning grounds for much of the nation's seafood, the pit stop for the Gulf's oil industry and the home of the beloved bayous and fishing "camps" that make life here unlike anywhere else. With every bit of wetlands lost — each day a football field's worth — the people and places of the Gulf Coast become that much more vulnerable to the next hurricane.

Government Acknowledges That 2012 Climate Milestones Show We’ve Reached ‘A New Normal’

Last year was one of the top 10 warmest ever recorded and broke numerous climate-related records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual State of the Climate report.

In a press conference Tuesday, Kathryn Sullivan, acting NOAA administrator and co-author of the report, said the findings in the report paint a picture of a “new normal” for the Earth, and could help shape U.S. policy for addressing and becoming more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 2, 2013

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.9 million barrels per day during the week ending August 2, 2013, 72 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging about 9.6 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging over 4.9 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 7.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 254 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 8.0 million barrels per day, 946 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 635 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 54 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 363.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week and are near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged about 19.7 million barrels per day, up by 3.7 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged over 9.0 million barrels per day, up by 3.3 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 4.0 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 11.1 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.6 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Are car companies developing more electric cars because they see something in the future? I can't see them spending billions on a losing propostion....I think they are not profitable right now but they may be the future...I like the idea of a battery car with engine back up or vice versa...

I'd say the only reason car companies can even make electric cars is because oil is so cheap. It's still cheap enough to waste on frivolous endeavors like electric cars, ethanol, hydrogen fuel cells, etc.

In the end, we will wish they invested that money into making existing ICE technologies more efficient and durable (engines lasting more than a million miles).

Plenty of money is being spent improving ICE efficiency. Probably more than is being spent on EVs (but I'm only guessing).

No doubt about that. However, I still wish they would redirect that EV money to ICE efficiency and durability. I just see a greater return on investment going that route.

Modern ICE durability is frankly astounding - at least to me, as an engineer, fairly competent mechanic and a former car nut.

Efficiency is pretty decent too with variable valve timing and direct cylinder injection. With a change in expectations one could crank out inexpensive, reliable and efficient small cars with small displacement 3cyl engines and 6 speed transmissions that got pretty phenomenal mileage.

But I am puzzled by your return on investment angle. Given the reality of peak oil and other resource limitation, combined with the obvious negative impacts on our climate and environment, it is hard for me to entertain any scenario that includes automobiles as a positive return on investment.

In Europe you can buy these cars today. They are very popular. My car is 3 cylinder diesel with 5 speed transmission, $18000 new ( 3 years ago) including 20% tax, seats 5 and gets better mileage than a (standard) Prius. However, they will not prevent peak oil. The cars are bought by the lower income people, and these are the people most hit by the economic downturn, so they are not buying as many cars as they used to, and the companies (Peugeot, Fiat, Renault) are in financial trouble. The builders of gas guzzlers (BMW, Audi, etc.) are doing very well and cannot build them fast enough.

The Fiat 500 TwinAir (800cc two-cylinder turbo) is rated for over 70 mpg and is fully capable of getting that - but not over 55 mph. The fuel economy drops precipitously because of the ghastly aerodynamics.

And the smallest practical cars will never have great aerodynamics since they are all about comfort in a small box, cargo space, visibility etc.

Yeah, the aerodynamics probably match a Chevy Suburban, or a F-250, but small practical cars will always get better fuel economy that the over sized monsters that people feel they need for personal transport.

I never see any comments on the poor aerodynamics of the main offenders of wasteful use of oil, but people seem to find reasons to justify not buying the most fuel conservative cars available.

When I was in Britain, I hired a Fiat Bravo 1.9 diesel hatch, (similar to a Chevy Cruze but in a Hatch). One of those non-aerodynamic ones. At 70mph it was doing 60mpg (British) 50 mpg (US). No fancy aerodynamics or hybrid drive train required.

People will make up any excuse to continue to drive their over sized status symbols and this it just another excuse.

Edit, I think you will find the twin air drops in fuel efficiency at higher speeds, is due to the fact it would be reaching the higher band of its rev range, eg the power band, rather than due to aerodynamics, BTW it is a city car, not a highway cruiser!

Some of the craziest examples of small boxes I've seen are the Japanese Kei cars. They have maximum external dimensions and some of them are built right out to them.


It certainly doesn't help that the Fiat 500 TA is a bit revvy, but it is a brick. Right now my basis for comparison has become the VW XL1 - which is gorgeously aerodynamic. Perfectly do-able and it doesn't really need to be made of anything exotic (thought the no-rust longevity benefits of carbon-fiber are potentially interesting).

One of the biggest offenders, of course, are 18 wheelers. I like that they've made some extra-length provisions to allow for aero extensions, but all around they could do so much better.

I saw one of these "TrailerTail" fold-able dealios the other day: http://youtu.be/wVDO4Vrq7ac

And of course most stupid of all are people who drive SUVs and Trucks as single-person commuters with zero need for off-road or towing capability - get rid of those and a large part of the fuel consumption goes with it. Massive savings in going from a 17 mpg truck to even a 35 mpg car.

In other news I've run into a number of people, in vehicles large and small, with balding tires. Since people are generally oblivious as to the state of their tires - bald, visibly under-inflated, outrageously mis-aligned, n'such - if they look jovial enough I try to point it out and the dangers of hydroplaning and blowouts. I've been seeing this a lot more lately and it has led to a lot of "don't have the money" conversations usually with "barely have enough for gas" in there somewhere. I suspect a lot of deferred (or non-existent) maintenance going on in the background. With the average age of cars being pushed up I'm not sure how much deferred maintenance they can take before they just give up completely. If they're deferring oil changes (and top-ups) there'll be a lot of lemons out there.

I just see a greater return on investment going that

Do you have justification for this vision you want to share or is this your "gut" vision?

Its probably related to the 80/20 (or 90/10) rule. Eighty percent of the gain is from the first twenty percent of the effort. So diverting adding a small incremental sum to ICE research might not accomplish much, but adding a small sum to EV (especially battery) might pay off quite a bit.

Then there are of course mixed opportunities. Something like the wave-disk engine might provide better efficiency (claimed 60% better), but probably only at fixed power/torque. Use that to maintain charge for an extended range EV or PHEV, and it could be a real winner. But as a standalone powerplant for ICE only, fuggit about it.

I wouldn't say that battery technology development is under-funded given the enormous consumer electronics industry's craving for better density battery technology. I would hazard a guess that any great leap in battery technology would trickle down from portable devices into vehicles because if for instance you could double the battery life with a scalable technology then you would sell 40+ million battery packs per year to Apple alone.

Well . . . not really. The battery technology for consumer electronics and the battery technology for autos has diverged. They have different design goals. Consumer electronics needs high-density batteries that don't really have to last more than 3 or 4 years. The automotive biz needs batteries that last 10+ years. And although the original Tesla Roadster used laptop batteries, most EVs built today are built with batteries that are not at all used in consumer electronics.

Even the original Tesla Roadster with it's shelf-stock laptop batteries is getting much longer lifetimes out of them because they're not pushing their voltage to the failure point (top and bottom). Laptops manage their batteries extremely poorly - possibly on purpose - so that you have that "wow" factor of run-time when you first buy it, and it dies after 4 years (without hardly even using it) and you're compelled to buy a new laptop since they charge a fortune for a replacement battery.

I actually tried to find a program to stop the battery from charging beyond a certain set-point and I found only one laptop capable of doing it.

Are car companies developing more electric cars because they see something in the future? I can't see them spending billions on a losing propostion....I think they are not profitable right now but they may be the future..

It is a combination of things.
1) Tesla sees it as a viable business and they actually pulled it off by building an electric car that is better than its gas powered competition. However, this is a pretty niche market because it is only in the very high-end luxury segment where you can pull that off. Unless there is a battery-technology or battery manufacturing breakthrough, they are going to have a very hard time working down the food chain to larger markets.
2) CARB (California Air Resources Board) requires you to sell so many ZEVs (Zero Emission Vehicles) in order to be able to sell cars in their market. This is the "compliance car" segment where they are just selling them at a loss to keep the right to sell in the big California market.
3) As you pointed out, it is not a profitable market now but it will be eventually. When the Prius came out it was a money-loser and almost no one wanted it. But it is now the #1 selling car in California. The same is true for EVs and PHEVs. The auto companies have oil analyst consultants and many of them explain peak oil to the auto companies such that they know they have to prepare. Just like everywhere, the analysts have disagreements as to when it will start having big effects but no honest analyst denies peak oil as a real issue eventually. (It is only the PR flaks and blind faith ideologues that say this 'peak oil myth' garbage.)

Those are the main drivers for EV & PHEV development. Right now #2 is kind of a big one and it is really the driver for the current EV price war. Some of the companies making 'compliance cars' slashed their prices just to move EVs and collect ZEV credits instead of being forced to buy them from Tesla or Nissan. There has never been a better time to buy an EV for consumers but it is quite the money-losing proposition for automakers right now. However, hopefully an increase in sales volume will drive down EV component costs such that they become profitable. An unprofitable business is bad news for EV fans in the long run because it will eventually die unless they turn a profit.

Some states, like California, may mandate they are made.

Environmentalists laud California's electric-car mandate

Environmentalists are thrilled about California's adoption of the toughest, new clean-air regulations in the country that will mandate that one out of seven cars sold in 2025 are plug-ins or full electrics.

Technically, California does not mandate that you make EVs. You don't have to sell cars in California. Or you can instead pay a penalty fee. Or you buy ZEV credits from someone like Tesla that is building EVs and has excess credits that they can sell. There are automakers that sell cars in California who don't make EVs at all but use the above two techniques. However, since EVs are seen by car-makers as an inevitable future, most of them have started EV product lines. Some are more enthusiastic than others.

It isn't hard to find the answer:

“The i3 will tilt our image more toward innovation and sustainability.”

– Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America

The idea that everybody could use an unshared 3,000-pound, 95% idle machine to accomplished mundane locomotion was one of the great blunders of human history. Alas, our runaway overclass is literally addicted to perpetuating it.

The pattern pre-dates the automobile, I think:

One horse, one rider.

So when the automobile became popular, it became popular under the same use pattern, and has stayed the dominant use pattern for about a century now.

I personally think that the "one horse, one rider" saying was an attempt at ex post facto justification, and an appeal to nostalgia ("ah the good ol' days before the automobile, if only we could go back to that idyllic time... Well we can't so the next best thing is for everyone to have their own "horse", just like in those good 'ol days").

The fact is most people used to walk.

That fits with what I know.

When I was growing up in the 1950's in an Eastern Kansas farming community and western movies were common, I was puzzled by the few horses on the farms. Why did they not have riding horses like in the movies? My grandparents just had a work horse each and they were still being used in the early 1950's as work horses. I recall seeing a picture of me on a plow horse with my grandfather behind. And I remember shucking corn with my grandfather with a horse pulling the wagon for the corn and haying with my father and uncle using a horse drawn mower and rake. Horses were expensive in terms of land use and so they only had what they needed for farm work. Cows, pigs, chickens, and crops were more valuable. Generally there was a store, church, and school within a mile or so where people lived and people walked. My parents often talked about walking to school or the store.

That expectation was still somewhat true when I went to first grade where the one room school was a mile and half away and we were expected to walk. That ended in second grade when the school was consolidated and a bus was added because of the longer distances to school. The consolidated school was a two room school two and half miles from our farm.

Riding horses were considered luxuries by my parents, relatives, and neighbors.

My dad, born in 1899, was one of eight children raised on a farm five miles north of Randlett, Oklahoma. They walked to school in town -- after the harvest. Dad didn't go to college (his twin sister taught school straight out of high school) but his high school gave him two years of German.

Balderdash, Mr. Flash. The pushing of the car, both ideologically and as a dictated infrastructural outcome, has been one of the most lavishly planned and funded efforts at cultural engineering in human history. It has little to do with attitudes to horse riding. It has to do with why "we" chose cars over trains and bikes and walking.

The history of roads in the US is interesting. Prior to 1840 the country had rivers, canals, and a very fragile road system for horse-drawn carriages and stagecoaches and those single horse riders. The coming of the railroads prior to the Civil War actually caused a loss of interest (and maintenance support) for the limited roadways the country had. The turning point was a strange one, the emergence of the bicycle craze starting about 1880. City folk were delighted with the freedom of the bicycle (including the freedom from the limitations of riding a live animal) but outside the urban areas the roads were just not suitable. Cyclists pushed for better rural roadways, trying to convince farmers of the value, but farmers saw the idea of roads as an amusement for city people at the expense of rural folk.

In 1893 a small office was started in the federal Department of Agriculture to explore the idea of improving rural roadways. Gradually, it gained momentum with the proposal of Rural Free Delivery (RFD) postal services. Farmers finally got on board with the slogan of "get the farmer out of the mud" as the rallying cry for the 1916 Federal Highway Act. The 1921 Act set up federal and state roadways, and the road building craze was on. That was also the year in which rail mileage peaked.

The world of small town and rural America prior to the railroads was not some idyllic environment. A Nashville newspaper reporter rode the first train west toward the Mississippi river and reported on the terrible condition of buildings and facilities in the little towns the railroad had linked. In the South at least, that didn't change a lot during Reconstruction. My father talked of taking the horse and buggy into "town" on Saturdays and of walking several miles to the rural schoolhouse and to church. Even my own first seven grades were spent in a two-teacher school (eight grades) with "outdoor plumbing" and no running water, same with my family's church across the street.

Even without oil and the internal combustion engine we would surely have expanded roadway networks. Railroads, canals, and rivers would never had satisfied the desire to get to the adjoining county or to the town that wasn't directly served by train or boat. Some version of that alternative transportation system is surely still in our future.

They are also benefitting (or at least responding to) from government incentives. These have been, (1) some research money, (2) Tax incentives for buyers (up to $7500), and they get to count certain "green" cars double when determining fleet milage for corporate CAFE standards.
I think they also bring ppeople into the showroom, most of whom will end up buying something alse (or at least that's what the marketing department hopes).
So other than the narrowly measured profit/loss on the model, there are other harder to pin down advantages.

Of course if a few years from now, gas goes to $10/gallon, they will be glad they have EVs (or PHEVs) ready. So this is a bit of a business insurance benefit.

Are car companies developing more electric cars because they see something in the future?

Yeah, the big automakers all agreed to the requirement to reach 54.5 mpg average fleet mileage by 2025, and the other wrinkles that go with that regulation (eg, extra credit for selling electric or CNG vehicles). To get to the fleet average, smaller cars are going to have to do significantly better than 54.5 in the EPA's tests and formulas. Even the big vehicles are going to have to do much better than they do today. So between then and now expect to see the broad introduction of things like: continuously variable transmissions; aggressive shut down of some cylinders in the ICE when possible; and heavy hybridization. The auto companies have an enormous amount to gain from better, cheaper batteries, so they're going to pour a bunch of research dollars into the field.

Note: Assume continued dominant market share of gasoline over diesel. Diesel can be problematic in the winter in some parts of the country, and there are limits to how far you can shift the gasoline/diesel split when you refine crude oil.

I also expect to see the rules relaxed before 2025. Regulatory capture, to-big-to-fail, can't do anything to disrupt the economy, etc.

If the most politically connected auto companies have invested in an EV future, and the competition hasn't, I'd expect they'd fight real hard to keep the regs.

Mutually Assured Regulation. If they're all held to the same rules then one company can't in the interim be a spoiler and poach the big profits by continuing to build monster cars while the other companies try to downsize and economize. It's the same way with minimum wage legislation - when applied across the country everything is fine because everyone is playing on the same level. If any state tried to enact their own by themselves they might get their jobs poached by another state willing to sell their "consumers" (I'm not sure there are any citizens left) down the river.

Well, there is a problem right now. Some car makers are making an honest effort to create EVs which are sold all across the USA. Other automakers are responding to the ZEV requirements by creating a few 'compliance cars' that are sold at a significant loss. Those compliance cars are often priced very low such that those trying to build an actual business selling EVs are having to slash their prices to match thus making their EV line unprofitable. Granted, this is excellent for EV consumers in ZEV states, this makes it difficult to sell EVs in other states for higher prices.

An unintended consequence from the ZEV rules that may cause some back-firing.

But it might only cause a temporary blip. The Chrysler Fiat 500e run for this year is supposedly all sold out already even though they haven't delivered a single car yet. And now the dealers are jacking up the price on the 500e due to the high demand. So there is a demand for EVs there . . . it is just a matter of price.

Yes there is a demand. But is it actually possible to make these cars at a reasonable price considering the high cost of batteries that have an adequate range?

People have varying views. Techno-optimists think that battery prices will keep on dropping and EVs will soon be nearly as cheap as gas cars. The pessimists think that EVs are a pointless expensive waste of time that will never work.

I think the battery prices will drop a bit more but the price drops will only be slow, hard-fought for, and incremental. However, I think that will be enough because when combined with inevitable rising oil prices, we will eventually hit a cross over point where EVs become quite economical compared to gasoline cars.

The question is getting some big debate right now due to Tesla's earnings. Elon mentioned that a $35K car with a 200-mile range is still on its way. I think that is just never going to happen and he's setting expectations too high. If they could really deliver on that in the near future, Tesla might be worth crazy valuation it is now getting. But I just don't see that happening.

I think that EVs need to hit about a 100 to 120 mile range to be more accepted. But going much beyond just raises the price for additional range that you rarely need for a typical commuter. So I think that a combination of 3 things will happen to make EVs more widespread:
1) Batteries will get cheaper . . . but not as cheap as the optimists think.
2) Gas prices will rise over the years. (No need to explain that here!)
3) People will begin to accept lower ranges due to the cheap fueling cost, quiet operation, low maintenance, and no pollution of EVs.

I mean really . . . why pay $10K more for a bigger battery for rare long trips when you could spend that $10K for a used gas car that you could use for those trips? Or save the $10K and just use a carshare program for long trips. A big battery is fine for rich people that have the extra money to waste . . . but it is not an efficient use of money for average people.

Well, the 120 mile range is really not a challenge to meet, it's been met long since with the original Rav4EV, just running on Nimh batteries where owners report ranges over 100mi regularly. It would hardly be a stretch to say that just putting a lighter, stronger Lithium pack into a Rav 4 would have to offer better results.. and that's not a car with an ideal airflow shape, either.

I can imagine that they're working with expectations for features that are seen as necessary for the market niche' they've targeted or something, but I can't buy the idea that we're unable to replicate the abilities of cars from 14 years ago.. and then add some more improvements to it to boot.

Everyone concentrates on the "batteries" and "technology" and misses aerodynamics. It's like a house with it's windows wide open and the occupants complaining about it being "drafty" - well close the f**kin' windows! It's an obvious and inexpensive fix. Instead we keep seeing "lipstick on a pig" fixes like carbon-fiber barn doors or just packing them full of batteries. The VW XL1 went to the extreme - doing both carbon fiber and aerodynamics - but it was built with the purpose of showing the extreme end of what's possible. It's nice to know the boundaries but I'd say that 80% of the gains there were just in the aerodynamics and size alone - they could get most of them even with a heavier steel chassis.

As to range the chief technical officer at Tesla, J.B. Straubel, puts "functional minimum range" at 125 - 150 miles. My own number crunching and observation pointed to 150 miles as well.

From and interview:

The Least Range an EV Should Get:
A functional minimum we should aim for is the 125- to 150-mile range. I think it gets meaningful constrained when you get below that. The LEAF works for most of your driving. But the frequency of times when you have to really start thinking about when do I charge, how am I going to charge during an intermediate trip and destination, it’s not linear. It’s like a hockey stick. That’s really tough for the super mass-market consumer who doesn’t want to deal with any of this stuff.

Many people do concentrate on the aerodynamics. Tesla clearly did. GM kinda did with the Volt. Aptera went to the extreme . . . and that can be a problem. If you make something really aerodynamic then it can be rejected by some on aesthetics and it can make the car more difficult use. For example, it is difficult to have a big easy to use trunk door with an aerodynamic system. An aerodynamic design can be low and sleek thus making ingress and egress difficult for many people.

So the real trick is to come up with an optimized aerodynamic design that is still very practical and acceptable with current consumer aesthetics. Tesla pulled it off well. Others really should learn from what they did. But sadly, others are just largely taking their existing car bodies and stuffing them with batteries instead of coming up with dedicated EV designs (Fiat 500e, Honda Fit EV, Ford Focus EV, Chevy Spark EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, Smart ED, etc.). :-(

I reject your optimist/pessimist framing. I am optimistic that the unmitigated disaster of the automobile will soon be at an end as we discover that the automotive transportation system is not viable without cheap oil. I would find it pessimistic to think that we will squander precious resources in a doomed attempt to preserve it by switching to electrical powered machines, rather than doing something practical and achievable like building up local electric rail.

Step #1 for the US is to rediscover cities and towns and let suburbia go mostly back to the forest. Local electric rail just doesn't work with the building patterns the US has. I don't think we have the wherewithal to essentially replace our entire transportation system with something completely different within a reasonable span of time and we're going to need transition vehicles - which I think will come in the form of small electric cars (like the Renault Twizy, and VW XL1) and electric buses. Most of the infrastructure is in place - so I don't know where you're coming from thinking it's "squandering" all that much.

In the long run the US is going to have to start letting places go - like Detroit is now. They're going to have to just declare some roads and outlying areas as nonviable and leave them to disappear - there's just simply too much to maintain - including an over abundance of people (though I'd say China and India are worse off in that regard compared to their resource base).

Hey Spec, wile trying to satisfy my curiosity about the current state of the Tesla Supercharger network I stumbled across the following blog:


Since I know you're a regular over at autobloggreen I thought you might like this site too. Quite similar except that, obviously the focus is on EVs, not anything that might be considered green, even if only remotely so.

The news I found from my search is that the first two superchargers in south Florida (Fort Myers and Port St. Lucie) are now up and running, such that presumably on could drive (a suitably equipped Tesla)between the cities of Tampa and Miami or Orlando and Miami without too much in the way of range anxiety.

According to the map at the Tesla web site by the end of fall 2013, one should be able to drive one's Model S all the way from Miami to New Hampshire along the I-95 with only half an hour stops every for hours or so. Surely that is going to be ground breaking! A game change perhaps?

Alan from the islands

Tesla is clearly blowing everyone away. Today's market news is all about Tesla. And they have made an amazing car. But I think it is getting over-hyped now and it is setting up unrealistic expectations for EVs. Let's be real, a $70K car is only for the top 5%. And their promise of an UNSUBSIDIZED $35K car with a 200 mile range is tantalizing . . . but just not realistic, IMHO. I worry that they could actually hurt the EV biz with such rhetoric . . . people are going to have unrealistic expectations. People may stop buying EVs if they instead choose to wait for this magical $35K car with a 200 mile range. For a real game change, we need the market to grow beyond $70K long-range EVs for rich people and inexpensive low-range EVs for the true believer EV fans.

NREL Report Firms Up Land-Use Requirements Of Solar: 1,000 Homes Would Require 32 Acres

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report on the land use requirements of solar power plants based on actual land-use practices from existing solar facilities.

“Having real data from a majority of the solar plants in the United States will help people make proper comparisons and informed decisions,” lead author Sean Ong said. Ong gathered data from 72% of the solar power plants installed or under construction in the United States. Among the findings:

•A large fixed tilt photovoltaic (PV) plant that generates 1 gigawatt-hour per year requires, on average, 2.8 acres for the solar panels. This means that a solar power plant that provides all of the electricity for 1,000 homes would require 32 acres of land.
•Small single-axis PV systems require on average 2.9 acres per annual gigawatt-hour – or 3.8 acres when considering all unused area that falls inside the project boundary.
•Concentrating solar power plants require on average 2.7 acres for solar collectors and other equipment per annual gigawatt-hour; 3.5 acres for all land enclosed within the project boundary.

Report: “Land-use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States

Okay, solar for 1,000 homes takes 32 acres.

But note that 1,000 homes have about twice that much roof area.

Bottom line, solar power to run your entire house, plus two electric cars, will fit on the roof of your house. We have 12 KW of solar PV panels on the roof and two electric cars (Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt), and the solar PV on average covers all of our energy needs (except for about 70 gallons of gas per year for summer vacation).

You must have a pretty big roof. And no 3 foot minimum set-back . . Grrrr.

But note that 1,000 homes have about twice that much roof area.

Except that for peaked roofs, half the roof slopes one way, and half the other.

I wonder what the average power production would be if you covered the whole roof with PV, accepting that many panels would get only scattered sunlight from the sky because they were unfavourably aligned? If panels became cheap enough and grid power expensive enough, it might be the way to go.

But if the sides face westward and eastward the whole roof is useful, slightly smaller overall yield compared to eastward orientation but earlier in the morning and longer in the evening. Without storage it may be the better solution.

Before panels get that cheap, sunny day grid power will become too cheap to meter. So the payback from covering your whole roof will go away.

Sorry, this is reality since 2012. :-)

My sister and her husband, who runs a workshop, have 10 kW with east/west oriention. The FID (15 cent/kWh) is lower than their production costs (16 cents/kWh), so the whole works with self consumption replacing electicity from the utility for their houshold and workshop (around 23-25 cent/kWh).

Hate to disagree, but 32 acres contain 1.393 million sq feet. divide that by 1000 and you come up with 1390 sq. ft. of roof area per house to install solar panels. I would find it a stretch to say that a thousand homes will have twice the amount of roof space as 32 acres will have.

That is what confused me when I read that article yesterday: 1390 sq. ft. of solar panels for one house seems like a crazy number.

A 280 watt panel is approximately 38" x 68", so that means about 77 panels per house at 1390 Ft2.

77x280 = 21,689 watts capacity x 5.5 hour solar day = 119,290 watt hours per day. That seems like enough power for nearly four average U.S. homes.

I average 300 kWhr's per MONTH.

The 32 acre figure includes access roads, operations and maintenance buildings and perimeter offsets. The acreage covered by panels is 15-20% smaller. They explain it in the pdf

32 acres is not the area of the PV panels because it also includes the space between them. They are referring to centralized systems in which the PV panels are spaced apart in rows. 1,393 sq feet per house = 129.4 m2/house which would yield about 99 kWh/(sunny day) for 15% efficient crystalline PV. About 464 ft2 of roof area is needed to produce 33 kWh/day.

According to the Census Bureau, the average new home was 2480 square feet in 2011. Add to that the fact that the roof overhangs the house about 2 feet around the edges, and twice 1390 square feet (2780) is about right. And, a sloping roof has a bit more area because it is the hypotenuse of the triangle whose base is the house area.

During Times Of Community Change, Familiar Sources Of Information Feel More Trustworthy

Increases in population size may lead to a breakdown in social trust, according to Jordan Smith from North Carolina State University in the US. As local populations grow, local elected officials and national news media become less trusted, compared with friends and family, local churches and civic institutions. This 'trust deficit' has implications for long-term environmental and community planning.

Smith was particularly interested in the levels of social trust within communities where conflict is likely to exist between long-term residents who tend to be more concerned about 'their' community, and incoming residents who are more transitory and less vested in community affairs.

Food Additive Safety Often Determined By Those With Food Industry Ties, Study Finds

Experts selected by the food industry have often been the ones approving the safety of food additives for the past 15 years, a new report claims.

In a study of conflict-of-interest issues in food safety evaluations, researchers from The Pew Charitable Trusts found that employees of food additive manufacturers wrote one of every five safety determinations submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the industry between 1997 and 2012.

Another 13 percent of the determinations were written by someone working for a consulting firm selected by the manufacturer. And the remainder of the reviews were conducted by expert panels selected either by the manufacturer or a consultant to the manufacturer, according to the report published online Aug. 7 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

"There's a cadre of 10 people that serve on almost all of these expert panels," said study author Thomas Neltner, director of Pew's food additives project. "Three-quarters of the panels contained at least one of these people. One person served on 44 percent of the panels, which tells us there's not only conflicts of interest, but there's a very small group of people making these decisions."

Regulatory capture in our society is pretty much complete. You'd best learn to be your own advocate, in just about every sphere. That's is very big burden, and I don't really know how to accomplish it without access to the internet.

Children given lifelong ban on talking about fracking

Two Pennsylvanian children will live their lives under a gag order imposed under a $750,000 settlement

You couldn't make this stuff up.

But the company lawyer's insistence on extending the lifetime gag order to the Hallowichs' children gave even the judge pause, according to the court documents.

Apparently, not a long enough pause.

What were we discussing about rights in the last DB? If the picture isn't getting very clear, there may be something wrong with your set.

That $750,000 settlement was awarded to their parents, so the children get the gag order applied to them but not the benefit of the money.

What happens if the kids violate the gag order? Does it nullify the agreement? Was it included as some sort of "poison pill" for that purpose?

If you read the whole article...it seems like more a matter of lawyers run amok than anything.

The company lawyer said in court that it should apply to the whole family, including the children, but a company spokesman later said they did not see the gag order as applying to the kids.

Assuming you are serious about information, you do what a lot of us do (and have done so for years and years) - subscribe to appropriate print magazines and join organizations that have newsletters.

Among ours are The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Worst Pills/Best Pills, several other health oriented newsletters, Mother Earth News, Mother Jones plus professional magazines like Chemical and Engineering News (the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society - of which I became a 50 year member this year.

And then there are books, lots and lots of books. We have several thousand in our home library that cover everything from crop production to emergency surgery to house wiring. And don't forget your regular library. Thinking of books, check out Edward R. Hamilton for cheap remainders on a ton of topics (HamiltonBook dot com) and for out of print and old stuff there is Powell's (if you get to Portland, OR be sure to check out there store because it is amazing!).

So, there are, and have always been, many ways to acquire information. If you are old like me, print media was the only way to acquire information most of my life. Things won't end without the Internet.


I agree Todd, and we try to take a similar approach. The problem I have run into several times has to do with my "in just about every sphere" comment - the crisis you never thought of and never expected to be confronted with, simply don't know anything about and have to get smart, fast. Life is complex and we just can't anticipate everything we'll be saddled with.

The society we have created is complex and highly specialized. In such a world, as long as one has access to specialists who can be trusted, one can have a reasonable expectation of getting good advice. I'm skeptical that such an idealized situation ever existed, but at this point one can have no expectation of non-corrupted assistance. It is possible, as one does still run into competent, principled people in all manner of unexpected places, but you would be foolish to count on it.

What if you don't have the book? Hopefully as our society simplifies, voluntarily or not, our need to be specialists in everything (as opposed to generalists) will also abate somewhat.

What if I don't have a book? You know, within reason, I probably have some information that will at least lead or point me in the right direction on most topics. Besides being a book nut, I also print out anything of interest the Internet. The printouts go into 4 inch binders of which I have a bunch.

Plus, I really am willing to bite something off where I have far from perfect information.

For example, I have built three houses for us over the years. However, when I started I had never framed a house, wired one, plumbed one, roofed one, etc. Now I didn't have a craft background. In fact, my last job prior to building our first house was as a chemical plant manager. What I did was go to a few houses that were being built to see how it was done, took a short course at a community college in architecture and built the house.

Pretty much the same thing when I overhauled the engine on my old 1949 Ferguson tractor although I did have a shop manual. I had never torn down an engine prior to that.

Therefore, I would argue that while people may need some starting information, it is equally important that they have faith in themselves and their abilities.

One last thing, I've learned a lot by just watching "experts" do their job and seeing what tools they use.


LOL - rebuilding the scotch yoke hydraulic pump in my '49 TO-20 was a trip. That thing is well made, and the "shop manual" certainly doesn't bother to spell out the basics that a mechanic of that era is expected to know.

I print stuff out as well, even simple things like canning recipes (listening to jars of pickles and tomatoes pop as I type). We scored a bunch of acid-free archiving paper for free a while back which I print stuff on that I want to last. Most of these skills seem fairly basic and straight-forward to me, but then I think of folks I know who can't even cook pancakes :-0

listening to jars of pickles and tomatoes pop

These don't pop and you can use them again and again.


Yemen foils alleged al-Qaeda plot to seize oil, gas facilities

Yemen has foiled an apparent plot by al-Qaeda to seize two major oil and gas export terminals and a provincial capital in the east of the country, the government said today, as Western embassies remained in lockdown in Sanaa and a spy plane circled above.

"The Yemeni government ended an al Qaeda plot to attack strategic locations in Mukalla and Shabwa," said spokesman Rajeh Badi, referring to a Yemeni port city and a southern province.

"The plot aimed to seize the al-Dabbah oil export terminal in Hadramout and the Balhaf gas export facility, as well as the city of Mukalla," Badi told Reuters, referring to the capital of the eastern province of Hadramout.

The alleged plan was uncovered with Western and Arab help, and also involved smuggling explosives into Sanaa on Sunday to carry out attacks there, Badi said.

"The plot involved using dozens of al-Qaeda militants dressed in Yemeni army uniforms to storm the facilities on the night of the 27th of Ramadan," he told Reuters.

Six militants in separate vehicles were killed in two drone strikes in Shabwa province Wednesday morning, according to several official sources in Yemen not authorized to be named.

2012 was one of the 10 warmest years on record globally

Worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record according to the 2012 State of the Climate report released online today by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The peer-reviewed report, with scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., serving as lead editors, was compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries (highlights, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky.

Since 1986, only 2 years has not been on the top ten list. Those two years had temperatures that only 3 years before would have made it onto the top ten list. I have made a diagram showing the development of the top ten list since the beginnning of the records in 1880. I will upload it later, but am at work now.

Future water availability will alter electricity prices in Europe

The current European electricity-transmission infrastructure needs updating in the short term to cope with the future effects of climate change on electricity supply, according to a pan-European group of researchers.

Climate change is likely to impact water availability for both hydropower generation and for cooling water in thermoelectric power production. This change in water availability will in turn affect electricity supply and change the way in which electricity is exchanged between European countries, say researchers who published their findings in the journal Environmental Research Letters (ERL).

“Not only will there be less available water for power production in some countries, but the temperature of river water is predicted to increase,” co-author Stefan Vögele from the Institute of Energy and Climate Research in Jülich, Germany, told environmentalresearchweb. “Our projections show that wholesale prices of electricity will increase for most European countries, except for Sweden and Norway where water availability for hydropower generation will increase. The largest price increases are expected in Slovenia (12–15%), Bulgaria (21–23%) and Romania (31–32%) for 2031–2060.”

Average car is 11.4 years old... I am way ahead of that curve. Mine were minted in 1997 and 2000.

As for comment about a million mile ICE engine, ... well, I drove one of my ICE's (a diesel) about 750,000 (before the odometer dropped out of the fray). By that time the springs in the seats had given up, and the fenders were quite literally flapping in the breeze. It took an engine block heater to get started during summer in South Texas!

I doubt anyone will really want to drive any auto that far. Why they would want to drive autos at all is beyond me. Despite high miles (mostly from long ownership), I do not enjoy automobiles much. Just a way to get from here to there; if there is public transit available, I'm in!

My prediction: when these 11.4 year old vehicles reach 15 years or so, they will drop off the grid, and so will their drivers. Fewer cars; fewer miles driven; more public transit!

Best hopes that it is enough.


Once a car has reached about 20 years old all of the rest of it has pretty well gone to hell. There are rare examples of cars preserved past that - usually constantly garaged and obsessively washed, waxed, and cared for. Even beyond that all the bushings and various rubber bits usually need to be replaced and that's a hell of a task.

My now 23 year old VW drop side pick up seems to bear that out - kept mostly outside it is now getting pretty rotten though last year was the first time it failed a safety inspection needing a minor welded patch but every year in the 8 or 9 I've had it at least one rubber bush or hose has needed doing. That said a £1000 commercial vehicle that will likely last me a decade has done well (it has had a £100 second hand engine in that time as well), I have got through 2 cars over the same period.

Being slightly sarcastic perhaps but my legs are 61 years old and still giving good service. Top speed only about 6 miles an hour and maximum realistic mileage without a rest probably about 10 but very economical for travelling around town (infinity miles/gallon gas, though a little food helps!). For longer journeys I resort to the train, fortunately here in the UK we still have a reasonable passenger train service between most of the larger places and some smaller ones.

My 1993 Toyota Camry wagon is still in very good shape - almost no repairs at all. BUT it is low mileage - under 200,000, and indeed has mostly been garaged - however not washed or waxed much. Also I am a very gentle driver. Love my old car - it is so big in the back that I call it a pickup in disguise. (I also have an '06 Prius that I call my new car..)

Well, this high average age of cars is probably one of the big reasons why the car companies are doing great right now. Many of those cars may be starting to have costly repairs causing people to capitulate and go buy a new car.

I just wish they were buying more fuel efficient cars. :-/ Many may regret the gas-guzzlers they are buying a few years down the road.

They may have more attractive options than buying:

$200. per month to lease a LEAF or Fiat 500 electric. $139. per month to lease a SMART electric drive.

$139 a month! Ha! My last transportation expense, besides food, was some new shoes in the spring of 2012 (for something in the ballpark of $125, I think). The left heel is more or less worn through from the 2000 odd miles I've put on them since, but that's easily patched with gaffer tape, as the shoes still have a few more miles in them.

But I guess if you want to pay orders of magnitudes more for the privilege of sitting around in traffic, and then spend even more money or time to compensate for that loss of exercise, suit yourself...

Anthropogenic aerosols caused global temperature drop in 1950s

More than 50% of the decrease in global mean near-surface temperature observed between 1950 and 1965 was due to anthropogenic aerosols, according to researchers in the UK.

... The results, said Wilcox, are striking. “Even in such a short timeframe, and taking into account the uncertainties in the models we used, the evidence is clear – anthropogenic aerosols were the main contributor to the global mean temperature drop between 1950–1965,” she said. “Aerosols could have a more significant effect on global mean temperature than greenhouse gases, and with anthropogenic aerosols expected to decrease in the coming years, our findings have implications for future policy.”

The research also showed that the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols on temperature is so great that it cancelled out the warming effects due to greenhouse gases to give an overall global cooling between 1950 and 1965.


As we enter the twilight of TOD, I am reminded of how I became aware of Peak Oil in the first place.

'Snake Oil' author says history should remind us of fracking's 'false promise'

Heinberg says we need to look to history, pointing out that oil industry members and some US government agencies were trumpeting oil abundance a decade ago. They said oil prices would remain under $25 a barrel, but it was the so-called "Peakists" who forecast the price spikes that ended up coming to fruition. Heinberg, in a book excerpt reprinted by Grist, notes that the recent US fracking craze that has boosted production of both oil and natural gas will only increase supplies in the short term, and says extraction rates may decline "sharply" after the end of the decade. To soften that blow when it comes, Heinberg is pushing for greater investment in solar and wind energy.

I'm pretty sure this is one of the sites where I first saw the term Peak Oil, the other possibility being evworld.com. Just goes to show how a site with a strong BAU bent can lead on to the truth under the right circumstances.

Alan from the islands

Knowledge of relevant bits of history can make the difference between a frog that comes to realize the hot water it's in, and one that doesn't.


How can you refer to peak oil predictions as "the truth"? Those predictions have been totally wrong. Peak oilers have gotten almost everything wrong, over and over again, for years.

For example, oil has not peaked. Oil has not declined at 2-3% per year. Agriculture has not re-localized. Civilization has not collapsed. Global shipping has not ended. Gas has not peaked, nor has it fallen off a "natural gas cliff". We have not undergone a "die-off". The recession was not permanent. People do not need to grow their own food because of the collapse of industrial agriculture. These predictions were the main predictions of the energy decline movement and were WIDESPREAD within it.

Specifically, these predictions were made by Richard Heinberg, the most widely-read peak oil author, whom you are quoting. You brought up Richard Heinberg, I didn't. Back in 2001, he was predicting permanent electricity black-outs, the collapse of international trade, less and less energy (of ALL kinds) available every year, and many other things. He wasn't specific about exactly when these things would occur, but he was clear that it was fairly imminent (his museletter #108 suggests the first couple of decades of this century).

Even fossil fuel production hasn't followed anything like what peak oilers were predicting. Gas has not peaked or declined. Coal has not peaked or declined. Even regular, conventional oil has not followed the trajectory which peak oilers were predicting (although it did stop _growing_, which, insofar as I can tell, is the sole correct prediction of the peak oil movement out of about 20 core predictions).

The problem isn't just that the predictions are wrong. The problem is, the predictions are FORGOTTEN ABOUT. They're just swept under the rug, every time they fail. For example, none of Heinberg's drastically failed predictions are mentioned here. Instead, all we get is:

They said oil prices would remain under $25 a barrel, but it was the so-called "Peakists" who forecast the price spikes that ended up coming to fruition

That is a severely distorted recounting of the history of the peak oil movement. The "peakists" were predicting the end of civilization, and a whole host of other things besides, not just "price spikes". Not one of the peakists (at least not any prominent peakists) were just predicting just "price spikes" and then further growth of oil production at higher prices. Certainly, Richard Heinberg wasn't predicting that, and he's the most widely-read (and cited) peak oil author, and the one you chose to quote when talking about the "truth".

I'm sorry if I sound rude, but I think the peak oil movement needs to take a much more serious look at its track record. I realize lots of other people got things wrong too, because the future is very hard to predict. However it's crucial we don't deal with incorrect predictions by just sweeping them under the rug and then calling the whole thing "the truth".

-Tom P

Tom P., you seem to be confusing peak oilers with doomers. The peak oilers who are doomers constantly think the entire global system will collapse soon which would destroy demand for oil. They still do, and I suspect always will. A little critical reasoning prevents one from being fooled by them. The system is more resilient than they credit because there is a lot of wasteful consumption that can be trimmed and some level of unemployment can be tolerated. Some countries can collapse before others (how are Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Egypt doing?) reducing their consumption allowing others to continue to subsequent shocks.

Please elaborate on how the Stair Step Decent Model has been proven false. It is still playing out....

Please elaborate on how Westexas's Export Land Model has been proven false.

As for the global production of natural gas peaking the pessimistic projection is for that to happen in the 2030's with the peak for coal production some time after that. I am not sure where you got the notion that they were already supposed to have happened. Doomers again? Keep in mind that usually the pessimistic projections are too pessimistic, and the optimist projections are too optimistic. Reality is usually somewhere in between.

Hey tom, First off let me just say that rude is not the word I would use to describe how you sound

I'm sorry if I sound rude, but

as for:

For example, oil has not peaked. Oil has not declined at 2-3% per year. Agriculture has not re-localized. Civilization has not collapsed. Global shipping has not ended. Gas has not peaked, nor has it fallen off a "natural gas cliff". We have not undergone a "die-off". The recession was not permanent. People do not need to grow their own food because of the collapse of industrial agriculture. These predictions were the main predictions of the energy decline movement and were WIDESPREAD within it.

There's still plenty of time left for all of that to happen and I have not fallen into the trap of thinking that because it hasn't happened yet, it will never happen. Following that logic it would be fair to say that, from where I am writing where it's the middle of the night, since the sun has not yet risen, it never will!

As I said, I was led to Peak Oil by articles at autobloggreen and/or evworld which led me to search for the term on Google and eventually Youtube. This was in late 2007 and after reading a few web pages and watching some documentaries, it was was obvious that amongst other people

he was predicting permanent electricity black-outs, the collapse of international trade, less and less energy (of ALL kinds) available every year, and many other things. He wasn't specific about exactly when these things would occur, but he was clear that it was fairly imminent

Based on what I read and saw, I have come to the conclusion that 2008 was just "a preview of coming attractions" "coming to a theatre near you". Granted, 2008 was just a warning shot thank heavens, because I was nowhere yet ready and still have a lot to do to try and make life less difficult for me than it would otherwise be if these predictions do come to pass, as they still might.

If one has followed the links left at this web site over the years to Albert Bartlett's lecture titled "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" it would be difficult for one not to come to the conclusion that even though:

Even fossil fuel production hasn't followed anything like what peak oilers were predicting. Gas has not peaked or declined. Coal has not peaked or declined. Even regular, conventional oil has not followed the trajectory which peak oilers were predicting

all of this must happen some day and that the following might be an admission that "conventional oil" is close to if not at it's peak production level right now.

(although it did stop _growing_, which, insofar as I can tell, is the sole correct prediction of the peak oil movement out of about 20 core predictions).

AFAIK the single core prediction of anybody who subscribes to the idea of Peak Oil is irrefutable, that infinite growth (of oil production/consumption) in a finite universe is impossible!

I think Richard Heinberg has covered his a$$ pretty well. I do not recall him going on record with a date so, if all of the stuff he predicted happens long after you or I or he are/am/is long gone, he will have been right. What I have come to realize over the past 5+ years, since discovering "Peak Oil" is that the sort of transition that will accompany Peak Oil might well play out over a similar time period to the period it took for our civilisation to become structurally dependent on petroleum, that is decades. The collapse may well have already started, just not for you or I yet.

Speaking for myself, the lone commercial bank in the rural town I spent my teenage years in closed last year and I have no reason to believe it will ever be reopened. I had to do a search using the term "highgate chocolate factory close" to get the year the factory that made chocolate candy bars closed. It was 2006. On the same Google search results page an article in one of the local dailies, an article on a nearby town titled "A turn for the worse - Wilson Kong remembers Richmond's glory days", has accompanying pictures that remind me of a photo essay I saw on Detroit in decline. In a post to a recent DB about street lights (Lighting the low-cost way), I mused about how it appeared to me that the street lights along some roads seem to be failing one by one, without any apparent plans to repair them and whether this might be what the beginnings of collapse look like.

My problem with your reasoning is that it ignores the possibility of a near term peak or worse a "shark fin" trajectory which if (when) it happens will put us in a world of hurt. IMHO we should be using this period to invest in resilience but, the thought processes you exemplify are steering the world away from that. The motivations for such thought's outside of the Bushs, Cheneys and Koch brothers of this world somewhat mystify me. I did get an insight into the thinking of ordinary people when a friend of my sister (who used to work at the chocolate factory) came to spend an afternoon with us while my sister was here on vacation. The conversation turned to the news and the consensus was that, people who do not pay too much attention to "news and analysis" are less likely to be depressed.

I came back from a visit to my dad a few hours ago where thankfully we had a good shower of rain that almost filled the smaller (800 gallon) of the two rainwater harvesting tanks at the house. The whole area around the town has been going through a dry spell and the situation at the house was not helped by the visit of 5 relatives for a week or so. This brought into focus for me how climate change could make this six acre homestead a lot less useful post peak. At any rate, you sound like you may well not believe this whole climate change thing either, in which case just ignore me and go back to what I suspect is your favourite news source, Fox News.

In ending, I am making the following prediction. The sun is going to rise around here in the next couple of hours. Bet me. It hasn't happened yet!

Alan from the islands

edited to correct minor grammatical error

I think a broader error in Tom's complaint is that while we don't see the kinds of obvious effects that people were worrying over as near-future consequences to an Oil Peak..

(and as I understand it, CRUDE OIL most certainly has peaked, and if you took into consideration both the overall production costs of All Liquids to incorporate the other sources, as well as gauged the Per Capita availability of oil to the ever-swelling planet, you would also find a much more sobering perspective..)

.. but apart from that, without blatant 'this is a peak oil consequence' signs pasted over things, we are left to wonder how many backflips we're making, how much of the seed-corn we're eating, how much of the retirement savings we're chewing through.. in order to keep everything seeming 'unexceptional'.. so that it doesn't undermine our Vaunted American Exceptionalism.

AFGHANISTAN- Longest war in US history.
DETROIT- Bankrupt.
- The state of US Citizen's Savings, Retirement, Healthcare..
- The quality and pay structure of jobs in the US
- The Flow of Goods..
- The nature of retail companies that have closed, and what has replaced them in the last 15 years..

There are a lot of potential 'canaries' to be looking for. Simply trying to 'disprove' the most operatic of Peak Oil projections is a bit of a Pyrrhic Victory, it seems to me.

Do we want to just win the argument, or make it through the war?

Did you read Rune Likvern's article yesterday?

The oil companies can't finance new production out of cash flow any more. New production is so expensive to find and develop that they have to take on debt to fund it.

It so happens that debt is cheap right now. Because Bernanke is running up obligations amounting to multi-trillions of dollars. Amounts so colossal they were unimaginable back in 2001 when PO predictions were made. Mortgaging the future to keep up the appearance of BAU. And one day when Bernanke stops flooding the world with fiat money the debt music will stop, interest rates rise, and it will be a whole new world we are living in.

As the late L.F. Buz Ivanhoe stated in the first Hubbert Center Newsletter (1997)

"The question is not WHETHER, but WHEN, world crude oil production will start to decline, ushering in the
permanent oil shock era...." http://hubbert.mines.edu/news/Ivanhoe_97-1.pdf

Heat Wave Scorching Crops in China May Cut Rice, Cotton Output

Rice and cotton output in China, the world’s biggest producer, may drop this year amid a deadly heat wave across much of the country, according to researcher Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.

Hangzhou, Chongqing and Fuzhou provinces across the middle of the country are bracing for their hottest days so far this year, the Shanghai Daily reported today. Temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Shanghai where the heat wave has killed at least 11 people since July, according to the report.

Rice output along the lower Yangtze River and in southwest China may be threatened by a lack of rain, the official China National Grain and Oils Information Center said today in an e-mailed report. ... “The impact on rice will be quite substantial as the drought is getting worse in some of the main growing regions,” said Li Qiang, managing director at Shanghai JC. The crop accounts for most of the rice harvested in China, Li said. Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces in the center of the country, where high temperatures are expected to continue in the coming days, contribute to about 40 percent of the country’s total production, Li said.

Dozens burned as heat wave sears South China

Weng Xuhao, chief burn physician at the hospital, explained human skin burns upon touching surfaces over 45 C (113 F).

According to the meteorological bureau in Yiwu, road surface temperatures reached 55.8 C (132.5 F) on August 5

Heavy rainfall threatens crops; flash-flood threat continues

Rain is good for crops, but there's a limit.

"It was good," Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in Barton County, said today of the initial rain. "Now it's getting to be a little too much." ... rainfall has totaled around 9 inches since the last weekend - "We're really saturated everywhere," Boxell said. "There's really nothing in terms of capacity of the ground to soak up any of the water. Essentially 100 percent of that rain is runoff."

... Scheidt said she was beginning to see problems with corn and soybeans because of the abundance of rain.

"The corn, for instance, has started leaning because the ground is so wet," Scheidt said, noting that a strong wind could knock a plant down, pulling the roots out of the ground.

"The amount of rain also produces the right conditions for a lot of diseases," she said. "I have noticed some fungus on some of the ears."

The amount of rain also makes soybean plants more susceptible to what is called sudden death syndrome. It's a condition that turns the plant's leaves yellow, causing it to die. "The biggest concern is we can't spray for it," Scheidt said.

"The amount of rain also produces the right conditions for a lot of diseases," she said. "I have noticed some fungus on some of the ears."

The amount of rain also makes soybean plants more susceptible to what is called sudden death syndrome. It's a condition that turns the plant's leaves yellow, causing it to die. "The biggest concern is we can't spray for it," Scheidt said.

Thank God we don't have an agricultural system that is based on highly susceptible monocultures... /sarc

Russia Experiences Great Burning: Satellite Shots Show ‘Sea of Smoke and Fire’ Blanketing Russia

Then comes 2013. From spring to summer, central Siberia sweltered under a near constant drought and intermittent heatwaves as a very high amplitude ridge in the Jet Stream enabled a powerful heat dome to form during June and then re-form during late July and early August. The late July heat surge appeared to be the final insult setting off an enormous rash of fires throughout central Siberia and Russia. By early August the number of fires raging out of control swelled to 170. Today, the number is probably closer to three hundred. Human-caused climate change is, yet again, scarring Russia with a terrible set of burn marks.

So what is Russia doing about climate change? I remember Putin making speeches about this when the Moscow area had the big problem with heat and wildfires in 2010.

Russia is a corrupt kleptocracy largely funded by resource extraction. So I presume they are doing pretty much nothing but lips service because doing something would require reducing the output of the golden goose.

"corrupt kleptocracy largely funded by resource extraction"

Another one burns and crashes.

It’s Hotter Up North than Down South: Tundra Fires Erupt Over Canada as Heatwave Pushes to Arctic Ocean Shores

Weather conditions over the past two weeks have been both warm and dry for this Arctic region. But over the past few days, temperatures have been heating up. As temperatures rose, wildfires sparked and grew. Forecasts now call for a region of very hot Arctic weather to stretch all the way to the shores of the Beaufort Sea by Friday with temperatures likely to exceed 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) over the broad stretch of land surrounding the Mackenzie Delta.

May be it's Karma kicking in :)

I thought it was his right hand man Medvedev (who was pres at the time). Putin (IIRC) was biding his time for his return to power.

A petro-state is a petro-state is a petro-state. Profits for oil, and gas (and coal), take precedence over the future.

A persistent high-pressure weather pattern in the Russian Arctic—a blocking high—contributed to the heat wave, which saw temperatures reach 32° Celsius (90° Fahrenheit) in the northern city of Norilsk. For comparison, daily July highs in Norilsk average 16° Celsius (61° Fahrenheit). Blocking highs are so named because they block the jet stream from moving rain-bearing weather systems along their normal west-to-east path; this leads to “stuck” weather patterns with long periods of stable air and exceptional heat.

The 2nd part of that paragraph is a great explanation for the climate change we are now experiencing, i.e. blocking. As the gradient or temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics has reduced, the speed with which weather patterns move through an area has slowed or even gets stuck.

These huge fires in Russia are part of the process that is well under way that is releasing CO2 and methane from the Artic circle. We better hope the process doesn't speed up too fast.

Iraq Aims to Boost Daily Oil Output by 360,000 Barrels

Iraq aims to boost oil production by 360,000 barrels a day by the end of this year and the beginning of next year from three southern key oil fields, a senior Iraqi oil official said Wednesday, that would send Iraq's total output to 3.61 million barrels a day.

They've decided to set the bar much lower. What were the claims a few years ago - 10 million bpd by 2017 or some such nonsense?

Yeah, I can't see Iraq increasing production very fast. That place seems to barely be holding itself together with the weekly car bombings and sectarian attacks.

The oil production probably could increase a lot in more perfect world but man-made problems really seem to be slowing production:
-Corruption, thievery slow things in Nigeria
-Socialism and isolation slow things in Venezuela
-Unstable government and violence slow things in Iraq
-Sanctions have choked off Iran

Good news / bad news. Iraq production only will increase 360kb/d is bad news. The longer they take to extract, the longer it lasts. That is the good, for Iraq at least, and perhaps for the rest of us.

Same can be said for Venezuela and Iran production. Stealing it as it is extracted, well... that's bad news all the way.

I wonder what our grandchildren will say if they ever read these statistics, and how we handle events. (mis- that is)


Children accept the world they are born into as normal.

No one here curses the gas-guzzlers and consumerism of the 50s which brought us peak oil and climate change in our lifetimes, and the necessity for us to do something about it. We note it, but we know that cursing it won't get us for'arder faster, as my Scottish colleague used to put it.

There's a new report out on Arctic development from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. It's available as a PDF:

Arctic Economics in 21st Century

As one might expect, the first section after the introduction is entitled: "U.S. Arctic Oil and Gas Development"...

E. Swanson

With the number and intensity of severe Arctic cyclones growing they maybe counting their eggs a little early.

Interesting discussion on the Beaufort Gyre.

Arctic Ocean freshwater bulge detected (YouTube)

UK scientists have detected a huge dome of fresh water that is developing in the western Arctic Ocean. The bulge is some 8,000 cubic km in size and has risen by about 15cm since 2002...

...The data (1995-2010) indicates a significant swelling of water in the Beaufort Gyre, particularly since the early part of the 2000s. The rising trend has been running at 2cm per year.

Seemingly if conditions changed and the dome collapsed the surge of fresh water from the Arctic could possibly affect the THC.

The story doesn't tell much about the reported bulge in the Beaufort Sea. It might be that there has been an increase in the inflow of low salinity waters from the North Pacific thru the Bering Strait. This story isn't new, as there is an identical story on YouTube dated January 2012, which referenced an article in NATURE Geosciences See Press Release.

BTW, the web site with that story doesn't provide ANY INFORMATION regarding who runs it and where they are located. Not a good start for a new organization. These folks apparently just re-post other people's stories, looking for contributions. Best of luck on that one...

E. Swanson

That CDC story on "declining" childhood obesity shows you the atrocious way data get abused in the MSM. There were 18 states with declines, but none had more than a 1% drop. Meanwhile, there were 19 states with no change or an increase in their rates. Hardly great news, or even news at all.

The real story is the lack of serious efforts to redress the ongoing epidemic. But that would require actual reductions in the use of corporate food and cars. Forbidden, of course.

And what if the "decline," such as it is, is merely a sign of deepening childhood poverty? Would that be good news?

Shame on CDC for this spin job.

China young adults getting fatter, report says

Chinese from ages 20 to 39 have put on more kilograms—1.9 kg (4.2 pounds)—than other adults since 2010, the General Administration of Sport found in a survey, the China Daily reported.

More than 11 percent from the age group were obese, up two percentage points in only three years.

Just over half—51 percent—did not exercise regularly, making them the country's "least active" adults.

Trying to reign in the excesses of corportate food, with be a nanny-state dictatorship. They are even buying adds (in California at least), trying to pre-emptively turn the public against any sort of regulation. [People can educate themselves, and do it themselves]. Ohh, if only the Buddhist concept of karma applied, these folks would get childhood diabetes for their next one million lives!

Meanwhile, as we ponder alternative source of energy, here's more from Nuclear Japan, courtesy of ZH:


Hey, if the ice wall works, the PTB are probably considering using the idea along the Arizona border.


Scientists to make mutant forms of new bird flu to assess risk

- Scientists are to create mutant forms of the H7N9 bird flu virus that has emerged in China so they can gauge the risk of it becoming a lethal human pandemic.

The genetic modification work will result in highly transmissible and deadly forms of H7N9 being made in several high security laboratories around the world, but it is vital to prepare for the threat, the scientists say.

... what could possibly go wrong?

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom was confirmed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), on 3 August 2007, in the parish of Normandy, Surrey.

On the 4 August the virus was identified as the FMDVBFS1860O 1 1967 (Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus, British Field Strain 1860, serotype O,subtype 1, isolated in 1967; also referred to as strain BFS 1860/UK/67 [11] ), a virus isolated in the 1967 outbreak and until the 2007 outbreak, not in circulation in animals. [12] It was the same strain as used at the nearby Pirbright laboratory site, which houses separate units of the Institute forAnimal Health and Merial Animal Health Ltd at Pirbright, 2 1 ⁄ 2 miles (4.0 km) away, which was identified as a possible source of infection, as it is one of only four European laboratories authorised to handle that strain of the virus.


This is from Hualan Chen's group in Harbin, China: H7N9 Influenza Viruses Are Transmissible in Ferrets by Respiratory Droplet (Abstract is available but paper is behind a paywall.)

The following is from the paper's conclusion:

The widespread detection of H7N9 viruses from live poultry markets in Shanghai and eight other provinces in a relatively short time period indicates that the viruses transmit efficiently among poultry, especially chickens, and have spread across a wide geographic area in China. Currently, implementation of compulsory control measures in H7N9 virus–positive live poultry markets is preventing further human infections; however, the elimination of the H7N9 virus from nature is a huge and long-term challenge. Its nonpathogenic nature in poultry enables the avian H7N9 virus to replicate silently in avian species and to transmit to humans. Its replication in humans will provide further opportunities for the virus to acquire more mutations and become more virulent and transmissible in the human population.

What would you propose in this circumstance?

In the 1970s in London I broke out in blisters over my whole body. I was 25 years old. My National Health doctor consulted with his colleague and announced it was either chicken pox or smallpox, and gave me a script for calamine lotion.

A few months later a researcher in England died of smallpox from a laboratory release.

Dead Dolphins Wash Up in Disturbingly High Numbers at Risk to Humans

... In just the month of July, 91 dead dolphins have washed up in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 2012, those same states had a combined death toll of nine. There were 16 in 2011.

“When you’re seeing a large number of animals stranding for an unknown reason, it’s telling us there’s something funky going on in the environment and in the water,” NOAA Fisheries public affairs officer Maggie Mooney-Seus told ABCNews.com. “Something’s not right.”

I like the way they need to add "bringing risks to humans" so there's a news hook. Heaven forbid we worry about dolphin deaths without some self-serving rationale.

Reminds me a bit of the Bhopal disaster - the cover of Newsweek screamed "Can It Happen Here?" As in, hey if it did, that'd be bad. Dodged that bullet.

It is unfortunate, but true, that human generally don't care about things which don't affect them. Daily life is hard enough for most of our species.

We ought to recognize that we are the ones who live lives of sufficient leisure (in the sense that the ancients or medieval renaissance people meant it) to educate ourselves and be concerned about any of these things. For most people, it's much too far removed from their life for it to matter. And I'm talking about people in the entire world, not just North Americans where yes, the free time is probably there. Then again, even here, there are some people that are pretty occupied with just getting through the day.

"Something's not right."

Something has not been right in the oceans and estuaries for close to 100 years now, and you're only just noticing?

Foreign Policy: Oil Kingdom: Shale is the new peak oil, and that's why Saudi Arabia still rules global energy markets

... Just as the "peak oil" debate falsely predicted that worldwide oil production had reached -- or very nearly reached -- its peak overall production, the shale oil debate is steering public opinion to the opposite extreme.

Even the IEA acknowledges that both future sources of additional crude oil and price remain big unknowns. As the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, noted in November 2012, "light, tight oil reserves are poorly known... If no new resources are discovered around the world and plus, if the prices are not as high as today, then we may see Saudi Arabia coming back and being the first producer again." The U.S. Energy Information Administration, meanwhile, predicts that U.S. crude oil production will peak in 2020, placing the United States 47 percent below the IEA's projections.

... decline from a typical Bakken well is steep, with production slumping to one fifth of its original rate within 24 months. The Eagle Ford wells, meanwhile, could reach the end of their economically useful life within four years. As a result, oil guru and hedge fund manager Andy Hall recently predicted that U.S. shale discoveries will boost production only temporarily and that oil prices will remain high.

vs. Forbes take on it ...

Texas Oil And Gas Numbers Fly Off The Charts

... We’ve pointed out a couple of times that Texas’s oil production represents roughly 30% of the total US output, an amazing statistic, especially considering that the percentage was below 15% just a few years ago. In May, that statistic became even more amazing, as Texas accounted for 34.5% of total US oil production, thanks to continued production growth in the Eagle Ford Shale and in several shale plays in the Permian Basin region of West Texas.

Look to the past for the fuel of the future

IN NOVEMBER 1942, Belgium's public bus system ground to a halt, crippled by a wartime shortage of diesel.

The standstill caused chaos. Engineers at the country's public transport company got to work and by April 1943 the service was up and running again. They had adapted about 100 buses to run on an alternative fuel – liquid ammonia, pumped into tanks on the buses' roofs.

The experiment was short-lived, but it proved the point that ammonia – plus a small amount of coal gas to help combustion – could be used as a transport fuel.

Seventy years later, ammonia may be ready to ride to the rescue again. ...

also Grab ammonia out of thin air for fuel of the future

Now here's one for how technology will save us all. Do read and note how from copy to copy the output changes.

In contrast, the WorkCentre 7556 randomly produced different numbers, this is why I present three lines for three runs with different errors.


Kriesel said that it's more than just a resolution problem, but that JBIG2 actually changes the numbers in the scanned image. He explained that the document is segmented into discrete sections and that the WorkCentre machine compares each section to a library of stored patches. "You only need to save a representative patch," he said. "If a section looks like the number 8, then it gets replaced by the representative 8 patch."

This could (is?) be a major problem!

You'll find this on all the major news sites. I posted one link but I got a weird response when I submitted it.

I'd think that this is going to have after-effects that are quite long-lasting, how many people scanned something for another person and that person takes it as accurate? For how long will the changed and incorrect scans be pulled up and used without the knowledge that they are wrong? Who ever suspects that numbers have been changed in a scan? Xerox says they're "working" on a fix, how many machines won't get the update? How many incorrect scans are already out there in the wild? Millions?

Ahh, you should have seen the look on the researcher's face after I showed him how Excel had been helpfully autocorrecting his data dutifully entered over the previous few weeks.

The "I F**king Love Science" facebook page posted this today:

When all is said and done, the final cost of the wars is expected to be over $2.2 trillion. For that amount, all Americans could enjoy sustainable energy.

Germany is leading the world in sustainable energy. They are currently working toward the goal of having 35% of their energy from renewable resources by 2020, and is expected to be at 100% by 2050.

An estimated 66% of Peruvians do not have electricity in their homes. To remedy this, their goverment recently began a campaign to provide 2 million of its poorest citizens with solar panels at no charge to them. The total cost is just about $200 million.

Read more: http://huff.to/16Ak9QF

Along with a picture of a house plastered in PV with the text "Furnishing every home in America with solar panels would cost less than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, and would save taxpayers more than $162 Billion per year."

The IFLS page has about 6.4 million followers.

And think of all the jobs it would have created installing those panels.

Meanwhile, up top - Tanzania to Export Electricity While Most of Its Citizens Lack Power

Sad that per capita CO2 emissions in Tanzania, currently perhaps the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa, will rise without some of the benefits CO2 production brings to the masses. With an average annual income of under US $600, one wonders how many of these folks could afford an electric bill even if it was made available; another sad reality in a profit-driven world administered by greedy sociopaths.

I question if these folks won't be better off not adapting to more "developed"' lifestyles considering the destructive path advanced societies have set the planet on. PV powered micro-grids and solar ovens may be a more sustainable goal.

Tanzania Solar Energy Association is a non-profit promoting what is likely to be a more sensible solution for Tanzanians. I'm sure they can use any support offered. Maybe the Chinese could throw them a few megawatts of PV bones.

Since most Tanzanians do not own electrical devices, The wouldn't use much electricity anyway.

I bet most own cell phones these days.

I lived in Dodoma for 2 years in the 70s and paid many Tanesco bills.


At that time most towns had diesel generators. This is the current situation:

TANESCO’s generation system consists mainly of Hydro and Thermal based generation. Hydro contributes 57 % of total power generation from january 2012 up to december 2012.Gas and Thermal contributed the remaining amount. During the year 2012(Jan to Dec 2012) the total units generated to the grid and isolated plants was 5,759,756,313 kWh or units.TANESCO own generation was 3,110,436,062 kWh while the imports from IPPs and neighbour countries (Uganda and Zambia) were 2,649,320,551 kWh.

TANESCO operates own hydropower generating stations interconected to the national grid system.The installed capacity is; Kidatu 204 MW;Kihansi 180 MW;Mtera 80 MW; Pangani 68 MW;Hale 21 MW;Nyumba ya Mungu 8 MW and Uwemba 0.82 MW totalling 561 MW of hydro generation.

In recent years TANESCO has impleted a thermal hydro power generation mix programme. A substantial amount of generation comes from gas and diesel thermal generation through own plants and independent Power Plants (IPPs). Own thermal generation comes from the Dar es Salaam-based Ubungo gas based 100MW plant,Tegeta 45MW which was commissioned in December 2009 and Ubungo || Gas Plant which was commissioned in July 1st,2012 by Hon.Prof Sospeter Muhongo (MP),Minister for Energy and Minerals.

There is some sort of a national grid (although I am not sure how stable this grid is given the long distances to power plants)


On this map we can see Mtwara, isolated in the South West of Tanzania. From there they are building a gas pipeline to Dar es Salaam (1.8 trillion TSh)


for the Kinyerezi 3 power plant 30 kms South of Dar. Whether there will be any exports (that would be to Kenya) remains to be seen. Hydropower has been down because of lack of rain falls.

The TANESCO Communications Manager, Ms Badra Masoud said in Dar es Salaam that over 80,000 customers have been connected in the past six months.

"We are determined to improve the availability and reliability of electricity in the country but at the same time increasing the connectivity to ensure as many people as possible are connected," she said.


The main beneficiary will be Dar es Salaam. The objective by then President Nyerere to decentralize has obviously been put on ice or abandoned.

The plan for Dodoma, done by Canadian architects, has still not been matched by anyone else

Sustainable Cities Master Plan

Edited to remove excessive quoting. Please don't post the entire text of articles. Post a brief excerpt (a fraction of the total), or paraphrase in your own words. This is for both bandwidth and copyright reasons.

For a dissenting opinion on the wonders of the Energiewende...

Green Energy Bust in Germany

But statistics on Germany’s electricity sector for the whole of 2012 are now in, and when you look beyond the cherry-picked hype, the results are dismal and disquieting. Despite massive construction of new capacity, electricity output from renewables, especially from wind and solar, grew at a sluggish rate. Germany is indeed avoiding blackouts—by opening new coal- and gas-fired plants. Renewable electricity is proving so unreliable and chaotic that it is starting to undermine the stability of the European grid and provoke international incidents. The spiraling cost of the renewables surge has sparked a backlash, including government proposals to slash subsidies and deployment rates. Worst of all, the Energiewende made no progress at all in clearing the German grid of fossil fuels or abating greenhouse emissions -- nor is it likely to for at least a decade longer.

Warning: long article. He basically argues that the money spent on subsidizing renewable power would be better spent on nuclear, if clean, reliable energy is what you want.

It is failing for a simple reason: the environmental movement, whose signal triumph is its influence over energy policy, has rejected nuclear power—the best source of clean energy we have.

Bad, bad, environmentalists! They have rejected nuclear-the BEST source of clean energy we have! I mean just ask TEPCO I'm sure they would tell the Germans that they have nothing to worry about because there are no earthquakes, tsunamis and or any risk of flooding to nuclear plants in Europe!

Oh, wait...

The Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant is located in the Fessenheim commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France, 15 km (9.3 mi) north east of the Mulhouse urban area,[1] within 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of the border with Germany, and approximately 40 km (25 mi) from Switzerland. Nearly 100,000 people live within 20 km (12 mi) of the plant,[2] which is located in the third most densely populated region in Metropolitan France and in the centre of the European Backbone. As of March 2011, it is the oldest operational nuclear power plant in France.[3][4]

There have been ongoing concerns about the seismic safety of the plant and, following the 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, on March 21 the local Information and Oversight Commission for the plant called for the seismic risk to be re-evaluated based on a 7.2 magnitude earthquake; the plant was originally designed for a 6.7 magnitude earthquake

Nice piece of propaganda:

1) The German exports happen when the the demand in Germany is at the maximum(!), therefore, the argument that blackouts are avoided by construction of new coal or NG power plants is stupid.

2) The replacement of NG by coal is not a result of renewables, but of the high price of NG and the fact that many written of coal power plants are avaiable. The same also would have happen in other scenarios. Hint: Coal is quite flexible, NPP not.

3) It is known for decades that there are on avarage 14 days in winter without sun or wind, therefore, around 70 GW back up must be in place. The most simple solution are cheap open NG turbines. Without avarage FLH of these backups (they would be very low) the whole argument is of course stupid.

4) High capacity factor of unflexible NPP is a direct result of low share or nuclear power in Germany, in France the capacity factor is around 80% (despite high export quotas) and the global avarage for 2012 is only 70%.

5) Coal power plants were planned around 2005 when almost everybody expected rising electricity demand in Germany until 2030 (+25%), so the added reneables, which were not on the radar of the German utilities in 2005, and the declining demand gives a nice catch-22 for the conventional power plants despite the phased out NPPs. Export is one temporary solution.

6) Large scale storage of electricity and amount of required backup can easily be avoided by increasing cross border transmission capacity, here the author is not up to date by argueing with German pump storage capacity. Reality already bites him. Austria can handle 5 GW and in Scandinavia there are at least 15 GW flexible hydropower, each GE transmission capacity is a gain. Here even civil servants of some German state governments show better knowledge.

7) Low capacity factor of PV is not relevant as long as the production happens when there is demand and as long as it is chaeper to priduce with PV than buying electricity from utilities.

But the author got at least some aspects correct:

1) production of wind power was low in 2012 and will be very likely even lower in 2013.

2) Until 2022 75% of the added reneables will only replace NPP capacity, not coal.

If the Peruvian government does go ahead with this it would be commendable, I'll keep my eyes open to see if it ever comes to pass though. I have not heard one mention on local news about this and I haven't heard anyone make a mention of it either including the porters who come from those supposedly poor mountain communities.

Peru's government officials have a habit of stealing money designed for development / aid - a case that springs to mind was government aid sent to Puno after a particularly bad cold period destroyed crops and killed livestock. Something like $2-3 million was sent to help them out but only a few hundred thousand ever reached the people. Another example that just sprung to mind is the town of Zurite close to Cusco. A lot of the houses were destroyed in floods 3 years ago and until today people are still sleeping in USAID tents after the government failed to go through with the promised rebuilding.

N.S. now national leader in cutting energy waste

These days, there is no shortage of discussion about energy in Canada, but the conversations and headlines typically focus on controversial projects like pipelines and fracking. Rarely do we talk about success stories that are good for the environment, the economy and energy customers.

Amid debates on energy development, Nova Scotia has quietly emerged as a Canadian leader when it comes to reducing energy waste. As discussions about a national energy strategy continue across Canada, more eyes will turn to Nova Scotia for ways to reduce pollution, cut energy costs and drive economic development.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1146251-ns-now-national-leader-in-c...

I received our power bill earlier today and our twelve month rolling average now stands at 8,437 kWh. That puts our total household usage (space heating, DHW, lighting, appliances and plug loads) at 36.3 kWh per m2.


Wow, I have two CFL's the rest incandescent, I use electricity for cooking, and water heating, and average under 17kwh per day. With a wife and 3 kids. That's without even really trying to save electricity. We do use about a cord of wood a year for heating.

I tell my customers that a PV Array is like an Oil well, They both pump out cash once installed. So here is an attempt to quantify. A PV Array is almost risk free risk compared to holes in the ground or on the ocean floor. PV is possibly the only energy source that the install costs and production (kWh) are known upfront. ROI depends on future energy prices, and if you knew that, one would just trade futures. One thing we learned from TOD is the value of Liquid fuels, so just looking at the money side of things. Here is a stab at a pro forma for best case conventional from the glory days, current land based tight crude & current solar. The actual ROI's are quicker due to subsidies for all sources. Comments?

Your point is still valid, but prodution of a single texas well has never been anything close to 10,000 bbl a day (thats probably a number for an entire field.) In 1945 the average was around 20bbl a day and right now it looks to be ~7bbl a day, with far fewer producing wells. I can't find figures but I am guessing even with modern tech they are not hitting 80bbls a day very many if any wells in tbe Bakken. This just makes solar look even better.


I do remember for a period in the early 80's in Oklahoma they were shutting in wells producing less than 5bbl a day, they simply were not profitable.

Great, Not sure where I got the inflated gusher number, So perhaps next revision - 25bbl per day on the 1945 well, and estimate that fracked wells average twice as wet as that ( for the short lifespan ) if can't source firmer numbers. Could add a 2010 Tx well if I had a range for the drilling costs and a guess at wet/dry hole ratio. Guess they go deep these days. It's not easy to generalize such risk , but just need ballpark ranges that have creditable/quotable source.

5,000 kWh/day from a stationary 1 MW PV array assumes sunny days all year. 4,000 kWh/day would be a more reasonable average that includes clouds. However, 5,000 kWh/day is reasonable for a single axis tracking array with clouds included.

Has anyone considered what shape the roof is in before installing PV and the cost of dismantling the system if the life of the PV outlasts the shingles. A question I do not remember being answered.

I had a 30 panel system put on my roof 4 years ago and it was an 8 year old roof at the time. A hail storm a few years ago required a new roof so I had to have the PV removed and reattached. That was about $5k in charges...I think a bit high because the installer really didn't want to do it.

As part of that process, I talked to another installer. He said at the original install he would have insisted on a new roof installed first. That compared to the solar install cost, a set of new shingles was not a lot compared to having to remove them at a later date. He also didn't like my PV panels coming so close to the edge of the roof...no 3 foot set back requirement here in PA.

When I got the roof replaced, I put on 50 year shingles for a few hundred dollars more. But they should last a long time since the PV is covering them and protecting them some.

And of course my house insurance has gone up nearly 2x in the past seven years because of weather related claims in the area. 30,000 roofs needed to be replaced because of the one hail storm. Roving gangs of shady roof storm repair companies were in our neighborhood the next morning after the storm.

Newer sloped roof racking systems are listed as a grounding system. Remove and reinstall modules would be a snap. On older systems that did not use bonding washers, removing the ground from each module would be time consuming. Maintenance should be considered in any job, hence the 3ft boundary when needed for access.

It seems that the utility companies are really beginning to fight back against home generation, especially where the homeowner also installs storage.


California is no stranger to rolling blackouts. When Charles and Elke Hewitt installed a solar electric system with batteries for emergency backup power on their home this April, they were shocked when Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program. And the Hewitt family was not alone. Soon all homeowners with solar electric systems with battery backup in California could be affected by Edison’s stance on backup power.

Edison informed the couple their application for grid connection was denied because the batteries they used to store energy for emergency backup power when the grid went down were considered “power generators” and not energy storage devices, said Charles Hewitt. Edison said Hewitt did not qualify for their net metering program because the utility could not distinguish between power produced by the solar panels and power produced by the batteries, which it considers a nonrenewable source of power, he said. Edison explained their policy had not changed. It was the equipment that had changed.

“We were excited to use our system and stop paying electric bills,” he said. “Summers are peak production for solar and now we are told we can’t use our system. I have thousands of dollars of PV system sitting on my roof that now I can’t use.”

I would again strongly argue that there is a real need for the replacement of the Oildrum to be focused on discussing how we can adapt our communities to a world where hydrocarbons must become discretionary and be a forum where people can discuss solutions.

Most rational people agree that oil has peaked, whether the reason is geological or economic is moot.

Climate change is forcing our hand on the use of natural gas and particularly coal.

The corporations will fight their corner as must the ordinary citizen, however there must be a rallying point where people can inform themselves on the options.

A lifestyle which uses less energy does not have to be miserable.

there is a real need for the replacement of the Oildrum to be focused on discussing how we can adapt our communities to a world where hydrocarbons must become discretionary

The Energy Bulletin has transformed into Resilience.org, and has exactly this focus.

Yes. And it's an excellent site for that.

I suspect that when it comes to solutions, having separate sites for different views of the future is the best way to do it. Otherwise, people expend all their energy arguing about what the future will be like, and there's no space to discuss what to do about it.


And if we're honest citizen scientists, then we'll admit we don't have the answer (or that there may not be just one right answer, for everyone, for all time). So many small experiments are called for.

Different site, promoting different responses, at different scales, seems adaptive given uncertainty about how fast, how deep, and how wide-spread the energy descent will be.

Resilience.org is one good example. We'll need more. And maybe some overview sites to share the successful responses coming out of the different sites.

Exactly. Ideally, we should all have the humility to admit we could be wrong...because we probably are. :-) People are terrible at predicting the future, even when it comes to what they know best. A little respect for what others are trying to do is in order, even if you think they're wrong.

For someone who wants to work within the system, even Resilience.org is probably a little too extreme. If your goal is to affect national policy or encourage research into peak oil by credentialed scientists, you need a site that's a little more mainstream. Similarly, if you think Mad Max is coming soon to a town near you, you probably find discussion about light bulbs and electric cars a waste of time.

I liked what someone said in a previous thread, comparing the end of TOD to a plant releasing its seeds to the winds. That's what I feel like we are doing.

I understand your point, but the main attraction to this site is because of the different topics and different point of views. No other site comes close to the mix here.

By the way, a big ole fat thank you for all you do/did. You are awesome.

I get that, and that was what I liked about this site, too.

But it might be time to move on. Like someone said earlier, time to stop talking and start doing. Once we're past the barrel-counting...what next? What next depends very much on which future you expect.

That fits with what I want. I now know what's happening (well sorta) and I'm interested in what them that's doing are doing. Where will Ghung, wimbi, HereinHalifax, jokuhl, Todd, etc. hang out?

Hi August,

It's interesting that Wharf Rat (Mike) and I were talking about that at dinner before the Grange meeting last night. Neither of us have a clue. He's moving more toward environmental/climate change sites. As a doomer I don't know where I'll go. Neither of us have spent much time on the "new" sites.

The sites with forums/lots of posts I spend the most time are Tree of Liberty, Yahoo Energy Resources and Zero Hedge but I don't post on them; only lurk.

Both Mike and wish TPTB had started Drumbeat v.2 or something to keep the group together.


My wife just said she hopes we will be making a Hobbit Hole to retire to in the next ten years.. a place she can do Permaculture.. so with a little bit of luck, THAT's where I'll be.. but of course I'll still need a venue for high value kibbutzing.. I'll have to check out Resilience, I suppose. Eager to hear where others are playing. I'm sure something will emerge.

(Regarding the Hobbit Hole, I have also been prodding her with the idea that we need to find ways to go towards a multi-family homestead, cohousing or eco-village, like THESE guys http://www.simondale.net/ have been working towards.. in order to develop a place where there's some mutual support as years go on.. if it doesn't necessarily attract younger residents, I hope at least that we can time the visits of the offspring to be dredged into the more arduous projects, and retrievals from high shelves.

Man, am I tired of the barrel counts! Got that, now what? I do hope all you good smart people make a collective decision on where to go, go there, announce it, so I can tag along and listen to the chatter happily as usual while I make one goof after another out in my shop on my savetheworld widgets.

I really like this site not only because it discusses stuff I consider important, but also because I can rely on all the minus sign experts in the back of the room to leap gleefully on any error of logic or fact in the next microsecond so I don't have to get ired about them.

I don't think everyone is going to the same place...and I suspect that is probably for the best.

It's not as visible if you're not "behind the scenes" as I am, but the Drumbeat has become increasingly unwieldy. I think precisely because we are not united behind barrel-counting any more.

There used to be a natural center of gravity here, which made moderating the site a lot easier. Now, that is gone, and that's resulted in a lot of friction. People complaining about all the social chatter. People complaining that they aren't allowed to post social chatter. People leaving in a huff. People demanding that I delete all the boring light bulb talk. People asking why I don't delete all that embarrassing doomer stuff. I really think we've outgrown this format.

Normally, Such HYBRID Inverters (Like the Xantrex XW or Outback Radian) are setup to sell excess power only when the batteries are in Float, Battery kWh is 2-3x the cost of grid kWh for flat rate billing. The last thing one would do is take precious Battery kWh's and toss them on the grid for people to heat their hot tubs.

Edison informed the couple their application for grid connection was denied because the batteries they used to store energy for emergency backup power when the grid went down were considered “power generators” and not energy storage devices, said Charles Hewitt.

Excuse me but, WTF?! On what planet, is a battery, an energy power generator as opposed to an energy storage device?! Orwellian doublespeak, much? And how dare you prepare for a power outage when the grid goes down. You need to suffer, along with all the rest of our captive consumers! Muwhahahahahaha!

And that is what lawsuits and injunctions are for.

Go down the the Courthouse and ask for an injunction.

Get a good wiley attorney, have him turn it around argue by this logic then all generators with thier own standalone fuel supply are in fact energy storage devices.

My arrangement might work there- I have my original small off-grid battery solar system, completely not connected to the grid, and I have a much larger grid tie array not connected to the battery system. I use the grid tie to run the grunt loads like the heat pump and the car charger, and can switch all house circuits at will from one system to the other as the situation dictates, but never is one system connected in any way to the other. I keep the watt meter at zero net gain/month.

Of course this imposes on me an active orchestration role, fun, and a little exercise too, good for us geezers. And who knows, in the depths of this labyrinth may lurk the possibility of a great ball of blue fire upon the throw of a wrong switch at the wrong time. See, entertainment and excitement in the low energy lifestyle!

I've kept our offgrid and grid-tie systems separate. They're just different critters. The grid-tie requires all sorts of permits & electrician work, agreements, conforming specs for the utility, etc. There's no real artistry to it, it's a matter of doing the bulk install and jumping through the hoops for a functional but uninspiring system. By contrast, one can build their own offgrid system and customize it quite a bit, and at quite low cost. Although our grid-tie array produces twice the power we're using, I still find myself making sure that I use power preferentially from the offgrid system during the daytimes, because it's use it or lose it, and using it reduces CO2 emissions a bit.

An offgrid PV system is fun because it's pretty interactive. A grid-tie system isn't really fun, it's aesthetically pleasing in some ways, and may make financial sense, but once it's hooked up there's not much engagement, aside from scrubbing off bird poop. The offgrid system "feels like" an extended phenotype.

"And who knows, in the depths of this labyrinth may lurk the possibility of a great ball of blue fire upon the throw of a wrong switch at the wrong time."


Having seen first hand what happens when one parallels AC sources out of phase I do hope you are set up with break-before-make transfer switches.

Starboard turbine-generator 1, Guam Power & Light, 0. More I cannot say, but it was intensely entertaining for a few seconds.

I've emailed Outback (the couple in the article is using (trying to) Outback's 'Radian' hybrid inverter), so I'm sure they're on this. That said, the system could be configured as a standalone with a transfer panel (in parallel with their grid AC system) to cover many of their loads. 3.5 kW isn't likely to make them a net producer anyway. If it was me, until the regulators address this problem, I would admit defeat, surrender, and go underground (we used to call these guerrilla systems).

I'll post if/when I get a response from Outback.

Simple Guerrilla Solar shall be toast. Due to the billions of your tax stimulus for Smart meters for Investor Owned Utilities, You are likely a grid parasite/slave. On Southern Co service, a truck will roll when an electron flows "the wrong way" i.e. Error code 8000, on any account w/o a Bi-directional power contract. Imagine a one way Internet. Batteryless PV Inverters could supplement just local consumption with some logic and sensor, but nothing turnkey on the market so far.

I knew 15 years ago that utilities would put the quash on guerrilla installations feeding the grid, if only for safety reasons. I also figured out that they would limit (or at least attempt to) the amount of private, distributed watts folks were selling to their grids; doesn't jive with their business models. I wouldn't be surprized if they refuse grid connections to anyone who also has a stand-alone PV system installed; cuts into their monopoly. It comes down to who controls the electrons, like any other resource. I saw the fear and loathing in our utility folks' eyes, years ago, when I suggested I didn't really need them.

I think the power is going to be flowing against them, no matter how much muscle they try to flex. This is a wave that is going to be irrepressible.. lest I sound a bit dreamy. (Pink Unicorns, Scramble!)

But really.. they can threaten not to connect us without an approved install.. and they'll find more and more customers slipping away like the landlines have been for the phone companies. Path of least resistance.. and all that.

I worked for a cameraman over the last three days on a TV show, one of about half the number that he was expecting to get this year, and all at discounted rates.. and he couldn't stop saying just how fast things in this industry seemed to be crashing around our feet. I think we're at tipping points all over the place, and a lot of people's ears are perking up. Maybe not.. but my guard isn't coming down.. there's static in the air.

Ready for that Yahoo group to start getting busy?

( Guerilla might not be that easy to do ON grid, but off grid variations are easy and mobile, where the packs can also be charged FROM the grid, so you do your watt offsetting on the other side of the lines, so it's essentially invisible to the Smartmeters.. )

Simple Guerrilla Solar shall be toast.

Not at all. Natl. Electrical code allows inspectionless low voltage and so one just converts their equipment to -48VDC - same as the old telco spec.

OK - Correction: Simple GRID TIE Guerrilla Solar shall be toast (for a while). 48V is tricky, since charging voltages are above 50Vdc which is the SELV threshold. That's why cars were going to 42Vdc. IIRC, NEC690 wants 30+ Vdc in metal conduit. You can fuse and regulate "48V" to whatever voltage you want with simple DC-DC converters like this one. http://www.prodctodc.com/low-ripple-dc-4560v-to-12530-buck-voltage-regul.... If you want PV training check out http://solpowerpeople.com/solarmooc-academy/

Hah. They just change the rules.

In theory you are not even allowed to install an ethernet cable in Australia yourself. When the money talks, your system will need 'professional' installation - and systems that don't play by their rules get banned.

Let's see someone try and ban Ghung's system!

Alan from the islands

[shhh. Let's not :-0]

Considering the rapid rate at which NC is going down the toilet - don't joke too hard or loud about it. It might happen. (Note that the governor is a former Duke Power exec)

This is definitely a conflict-in-progress.

There may be approved rebates for the very same systems: http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=CA23F

Right now it's SCE issue - the utility for parts of Southern California. I would expect before this 'spreads' it will be resolved. The systems are not backfeeding during outages, which seems to be the utilities justification for their denial of interconnection.

Additionally, other places are seeing batteries incorporated into grid tie systems to exactly backfeed at times of high rates or high demand. I've heard of this happening in Japan today. SCE may be trying to forestall this.

A correctly Installed "Grid Interactive" System listed to UL1741 Standard will never interact with an unstable grid. Listing is required by the Utility for connection. Not a technical issue.

I had the impression there wasn't much residential solar in LA, because SCE was hostile to solar. You would think LA would be better for solar than SF (more sun -especially in winter), but rooftop Pv is PG&E' territory exceeds the next eight utilities combined. So obviously SCE's territory is lagging.
I guess it makes a lot of difference which side your utility is on.

Well . . . I'd wait before panicking over this story. It may have just been an idiot reviewing the applications that made a mistake. Or maybe we don't have all the information and they actually had a FF generator in the system.

As Blue notes below it's because these grid-interactive systems with batteries are so versatile that they can charge the batteries on TOU schedules so that they charge at night with cheap power off the grid and sell it back during the more expensive times (with green credits even though it was coal power).

I'm not sure that it actually makes sense economically since it'll kill your batteries at a rapid rate. They can also be programmed to charge at night and deplete during the day, using your stored power preferentially over taking the high-cost TOU daytime rate.

It's really a straw-man argument to enable grid dependance...if people can keep chugging without a hiccup through grid outages then the utilities have no leverage to extort higher rates to build more generation.

The author of the article gives an incorrect explanation for SCE's rejection. The reason is that the system is configured to allow the inverter to take non-renewable power from the grid to charge the batteries and then at another time to take power from the batteries to send to the grid. SCE can not determine whether the power that the inverter outputs to the grid came from the PV panels or the grid. Only the PV power qualifies for NEM credits. Hewitt and his installer installed the wrong type of system.

“Your application was returned to your solar company on April 15, 2013 because the proposed installation is not eligible for SCE’s Schedule NEM under the Multiple Tariff Generating Facility provisions. The Multiple Technology Tariff provision allows NEM and Non-NEM generators to be installed behind a single billing meter if either a Net Generation Output Meter (NGOM) is installed on the NEM generator or a non-export relay is installed on the non-NEM generator to ensure that NEM credits are appropriately applied under SCE’s Schedule NEM. SCE treats battery storage systems as non-NEM generators.

Your solar installation is configured to have the Photovoltaic (PV) and storage system combined behind a single inverter (Outback GVFX3648) and does not allow electricity exported from the inverter to be metered in such a way as to separate renewable energy from non-renewable energy as required under the Multiple Tariff Provisions described above. Under the current configuration, the battery could potentially store excess energy taken from SCE’s grid and then export that energy back to the grid mixed with the renewable energy from the solar system, which would cause the non-renewable energy to inappropriately receive NEM credits.

SCE is willing to approve the current configuration, if 1) the battery storage is programmed to not discharge to the grid or 2) the storage only stores energy produced from the renewable resource. If these technological options are not feasible, or if you choose not to comply with these tariff requirements, SCE will allow your generator to operate under Schedule NEM but your generator will not be eligible for the NEM excess credit offset, should there be excess energy generated.”

A net friend made the observation about 10 days ago that he hadn't seen monarch or tiger swallowtail butterflies this year. I've only seen 3 monarchs, 1 swallowtail since then. Locals haven't seen many at all.
I have a bad feeling about this..

Where are all the monarch butterflies this year?

July 19, 2013

My son and I made that same observation in Orillia, Ontario. I have seen a total of two monarch butterflies this year.

That's two more than I've seen this year :-(

And yet last year seemed like a very good year for monarchs. It has been stupid rainy here (New Hampshire) this summer, so maybe that has something to do with it.

No Monarchs in Connecticut either. Plenty of Milkweed but no takers.

2nd gen Swallowtails are emerging from their chrysalis this week and next. I've had 6-8 of them feeding on my Fennel the past month.

Seen some Tigers and Spicebush Swallowtails during the past week.

Monarch butterflies migration path tracked by generations for first time

Monarch colonies overwinter in Mexico. During the breeding season beginning in April, successive generations were born in Texas and Oklahoma, then in the U.S. Midwest, and then over a broad area spanning the northeast coast and the Midwest.

One key stop is the “corn belt” in the U.S Midwest. There a breeding “explosion” sends vast numbers of adults in several directions, including to Canada, said Norris.

He said loss of milkweed plants and planting of genetically modified corn and soy in the Midwest have affected monarch survival. “If habitats in the Midwest continue to decline, then monarchs will lose the ability to expand the breeding range, including those butterflies that end up here in Ontario.”


I won't comment as to the plight of Monarchs, however will comment on swallowtails. I've been rearing Giant Silkmoths and Sphingids for over 25 years, and have many years of xls data for MV collecting species and quantity numbers for my property. I consider myself an amateur-expert in these areas just from experience.

In almost all species of Sats and Sphinx moths, there are distinctive cycles in population blooms and crashes. Sometimes they can be quite pronounced. For example, four years ago I was getting 1-2 dozen Citheronia Regalis at my MV light per night (quite a sight!) during their normal flight periods. This wained steadily until last year when I literally didn't get a single one the entire year (though did attract males for pairing with females so I know they were present, albiet in small numbers). Fast-forward to this year and while not back to the glory days of four years ago, the MV light is much more productive. I've seen these cycles in Luna, Angulifera, Imperialis, and many Ceratocampinae.

And funny you should mention swallowtails - I usually don't care much about butterflies, however this year I've been noting that we've had an absolute explosion in Tiger Swallowtail numbers. It's literally out of control. They are all over the roads (hit by cars) and it's almost a hazard to ride your motorcycle because they're just everywhere. At any given time I can look out at my three buddleia and they're covered in a mass of them. Last weekend I counted 47 at one time on three bushes not much larger than me. This is obviously a population boom year.

So I wouldn't worry about your swallotails just yet. You're probably experiencing a bust year - similar to the cicada cycles. I think Monarchs are another story, but I do notice in areas with Milkweed that it's not all hard to find their cats.

Michael Klare: The Third Carbon Age: Don’t for a Second Imagine We’re Heading for an Era of Renewable Energy

When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems. Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables, just as oil had long since superseded the Age of Coal. President Obama offered exactly this vision in a much-praised June address on climate change. True, fossil fuels will be needed a little bit longer, he indicated, but soon enough they will be overtaken by renewable forms of energy.

Many other experts share this view, assuring us that increased reliance on “clean” natural gas combined with expanded investments in wind and solar power will permit a smooth transition to a green energy future in which humanity will no longer be pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All this sounds promising indeed. There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down. The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables. Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects, mainly involving the exploitation of what are called “unconventional” oil and gas reserves.

… In such a world, one thing is guaranteed: global carbon emissions will soar far beyond our current worst-case assumptions, meaning intense heat waves will become commonplace and our few remaining wilderness areas will be eviscerated. Planet Earth will be a far -- possibly unimaginably -- harsher and more blistering place. In that light, it’s worth exploring in greater depth just how we ended up in such a predicament, one carbon age at a time.

President Obama offered exactly this vision in a much-praised June address on climate change. True, fossil fuels will be needed a little bit longer, he indicated, but soon enough they will be overtaken by renewable forms of energy.

Strawman argument, IMHO. Just people people advocate green energy, that doesn't mean they are saying green energy is going to some magic panacea and smooth transition. I'd like to see the quotes that lead Klare to this conclusion.

They're likely refering to this passage:

Today, we use more clean energy –- more renewables and natural gas -– which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what -- our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.

So, obviously, we can figure this out. It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and. We’ve got to look after our children; we have to look after our future; and we have to grow the economy and create jobs. We can do all of that as long as we don’t fear the future; instead we seize it. (Applause.)

And, by the way, don’t take my word for it -- recently, more than 500 businesses, including giants like GM and Nike, issued a Climate Declaration, calling action on climate change “one of the great economic opportunities of the 21st century.” Walmart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy. (Applause.) Walmart deserves a cheer for that. (Applause.) But think about it. Would the biggest company, the biggest retailer in America -- would they really do that if it weren’t good for business, if it weren’t good for their shareholders?

A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that engine. I want America to build that future -- right here in the United States of America. That’s our task. (Applause.)

Now, one thing I want to make sure everybody understands -- this does not mean that we’re going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels. Our economy wouldn’t run very well if it did. And transitioning to a clean energy economy takes time. But when the doomsayers trot out the old warnings that these ambitions will somehow hurt our energy supply, just remind them that America produced more oil than we have in 15 years. What is true is that we can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face. (Applause.) That’s not possible.

[whitehouse.gov//the-press-office/2013/06/25/remarks-president-climate-change]...add your own 'www.'

He certainly wasn't going to come out and say 'we're all screwed for generations'.

But read the very next paragraph which you provided. It said we would continue making fossil fuels, transitioning will take time, and then bragged about the amount of oil we are producing!

Bragging about oil production? That doesn't sound like some transition over to nothing but renewables.

Sure, but you know he has to speak to every audience. It doesn't really tell us 'which' audience he sides with.. but as the line from3 days of the Condor basically put it,

Turner: Do we have plans?
Higgins: No. Absolutely not. We have games. That's all. We play games. What if? How many men? What would it take? Is there a cheaper way...?

They have to keep all the options open, all the players up on the table..

Exactly, and Obama is a master at it. Everyone who listens to him thinks they hear the thing they were hoping to hear, but if you read the text you'll find he actually committed to none of it. And meant even less.

This is the form of "communication" that is not meant to impart information, rather to influence how the listener feels. If you read it rather than watch it or listen to it you block a lot of the emotional appeal, and you end up experiencing something quite different.

LOL the age of coal was superseded by the age of oil. Coal is still about a third of the energy mix, and is increasing in both volume and market share.

If you believe that renewables are cheaper then FF, then obviously the big FF companies are just pursuing moar and moar FF out of the badness of their hearts. Clearly they have no interest in profits, and just want to cause massiff global warming. If renewables are cheaper and these coorporations are pursing profit at all costs, then they would be the ones doing all the investing.

Why is cycling so popular inthe Netherlands?

Even before they can walk, Dutch children are immersed in a world of cycling. As babies and toddlers they travel in special seats on "bakfiets", or cargo bikes. These seats are often equipped with canopies to protect the children from the elements, and some parents have been known to spend a small fortune doing up their machines.

As the children grow up they take to their own bikes, something made easier and safer by the discrete cycle lanes being wide enough for children to ride alongside an accompanying adult. And, as the Dutch are not allowed to drive until 18, cycling offers teenagers an alternative form of freedom.

The state also plays a part in teaching too, with cycling proficiency lessons a compulsory part of the Dutch school curriculum. All schools have places to park bikes and at some schools 90% of pupils cycle to class.

It is really flat....
Rgds wp

Beautiful infrastructure...and flatness.

There was someone there claiming that it wasn't all flat there and had a picture of a "hill" and a log of the elevation change of his ride which was a distance a little over 10 miles...all I could think was "I hit that elevation change in the first mile...and then it gets worse from there on." I would do a hell of a lot more riding if I had protected or separated lanes like they do...electric assist takes care of the hills just fine.

Fox News Found To Be a Major Driving Force behind Global Warming Denial

A new study published in the journal Public Understanding of Science (PDF available here) surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 Americans in 2008 and 2011 about their media consumption and beliefs about climate change.

The results suggest that conservative media consumption (specifically Fox News and Rush Limbaugh) decreases viewer trust in scientists, which in turn decreases belief that global warming is happening. In contrast, consumption of non-conservative media (specifically ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post) increases consumer trust in scientists, and in turn belief that global warming is happening.

The study also examined previous research on this issue and concluded that the conservative media creates distrust in scientists through five main methods:

1) Presenting contrarian scientists as "objective" experts while presenting mainstream scientists as self-interested or biased.

2) Denigrating scientific institutions and peer-reviewed journals.

3) Equating peer-reviewed research with a politically liberal opinion.

4) Accusing climate scientists of manipulating data to fund research projects.

5) Characterizing climate science as a religion.

Media Matters provides examples of Fox News engaging in all five of these tactics. ... With conservatives tending to get their information from conservative media sources, this is increasing the political polarization on the subject of climate change. However, with the real-world effects of climate change constantly becoming more difficult to deny, this is not a sustainable situation. Eventually reality must break in ...

... case in point: Rep. Steve King: Belief In Climate Change Is A ‘Religion,’ ‘Not Science’

Despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is insistent that it is “not science” and that environmentalists are missing the potential upsides.

My favorite was when they said solar PV wouldn't work as well in the USA compared Germany where they get all that sunshine. That was beyond hilarious.

Well sometimes it just works that way (Germany gets the sun, and we have to wait). Right now I won't see the sun for several hours -I bet its already risen over Germany. [Of course wait a few more hours and the situation will reverse itself.]

In other news: dog bites bone