Drumbeat: August 10, 2013

Is peak oil demand just around the corner?

For years, there’s been lots of debate over “peak oil” — the notion that, at some point in the near future, the rate of global oil production will bump up against a hard ceiling. This is generally considered a gloomy prospect.

But another, related concept has started to bubble up in energy discussions lately. It’s the notion of peak oil demand.

This is the idea that the world’s appetite for oil may not be bottomless after all. Thanks to a combination of price increases, improvements in vehicle efficiency, as well as the advent of alternative fuels and electric cars, we may reach a point in the coming decades where the world’s demand for oil actually starts declining. And if that happens before peak oil production hits, well, that would come as a relief.

China set to become world’s biggest oil importer

China is poised to overtake the United States as the world’s leading oil importer in October, part of a long-term trend that is forcing the Asian giant to find new supply sources including Canada to fuel its economy.

Chinese crude imports will exceed those of the United States for the first time on a monthly basis in October, and for the entire year in 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Friday.

Oil Rises First Time in 6 Days on China Industrial Output

West Texas Intermediate crude climbed for the first time in six days as industrial production increased in China, the second-biggest oil-consuming country.

Futures advanced 2.5 percent after data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed factory output increased 9.7 percent in July, 0.8 percentage point more than forecast in a Bloomberg survey. There have been recent “signs of strength” in oil markets with a 3.1 million-barrels-a-day surge in world refinery operating rates in June, the International Energy Agency said in a report today.

“The industrial numbers out of China were impressive,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York hedge fund that focuses on energy. “This comes on top of a week’s worth of positive Chinese data.”

Relief at the pump: Gas prices on the decline

Consumers are about to get a break at the gas pump for the rest of 2013 and much of 2014, analysts say.

Gasoline prices typically head lower after the peak summer driving season, and despite a blip Friday, wholesale prices reflecting September levels are slumping. Coupled with ample supplies and lower autumn demand, the national average price of regular-grade gasoline is likely to fall to about $3.40 in the coming weeks. That's y about 5% less than Saturday's $3.56 national average.

Biofuel Credit Shortage to Boost U.S. Gasoline Exports, IEA Says

A shortage of biofuel credits needed for gasoline sales in the U.S. may lead to an increase in exports of the fuel from America in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency.

Ethanol Weakens Against Gasoline as Higher Imports Boost Supply

Ethanol weakened against gasoline on higher import levels of the biofuel and speculation that a robust corn crop will lift production.

The US Is Well On Its Way To Replace Saudi Arabia As The World's Largest Oil Producer

Perhaps the most important lesson one can ever hope to learn from this development is what it means for energy markets generally: that energy markets are governed by the very same simple principles as any other market.

There is a reason this happened in the US or Canada and not, say, in Venezuela or China – despite the fact that they sit on unconventional resources at least as plentiful as those in the US and Canada (oil sands in Venezuela, shale formations in China). This reason has nothing to do with resource endowments below ground but everything to do with competition and markets above ground. Innovation tends not to happen in economies where government control extinguishes the private reward for trial and error - in energy markets just as in any other industry.

US unconventional plays will help reduce imports from abroad

Unconventional oil and gas plays will continue to drive US and Canadian production for years, with the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana along with the South Texas Eagle Ford shale play accounting for much of the tight oil production increase, said analysts with Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

The Bakken and Eagle Ford are expected to account for more than half of WoodMac’s anticipated North America tight oil production volumes of more than 5 million b/d by 2019, analysts said during a recent webcast.

The Coming Shale Write-Downs

Not all shales are equal. Some shales are deeper than others; and some are dry gas, while others are gas with liquids. In North America, billions of dollars have gone into developing all types of shale formations to extract as much natural gas, natural-gas liquids, and oil as possible. The production from shale formations has truly been a game-changer for North America, but yet, oil is still more than US$100 barrel.

Subsea gas compression to boost recovery rates

The introduction of subsea gas compression technology has been one of the biggest offshore stories of 2012 so far, representing a technological leap forward by the upstream industry that could hold huge potential for further improving field recovery rates.

Iran Tanker Owner Seen Expanding Fleet by IHS Amid Sanctions

NITC, Iran’s biggest tanker company, increased the capacity of its supertanker fleet by 23 percent this year amid sanctions related to the nation’s nuclear program that bar most of the world’s ships from carrying Iranian crude, according to IHS Maritime.

Moscow rejects Saudi offer to drop Assad for arms deal

BEIRUT — Moscow has rejected a Saudi proposal to abandon Syria's president in return for a huge arms deal and a pledge to boost Russian influence in the Arab world, diplomats told AFP.

Most embassies to reopen after al-Qaeda threat

Eighteen of 19 of U.S. embassies and consulates across the Middle East, Asia and Africa closed recently will reopen on Sunday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced in a statement released Friday evening.

The U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed, Psaki added, because of continuing concerns about a threat for potential terrorist attacks by al Qaeda.

Strange tale of Shell's pipeline battle, the Garda and £60,000 worth of booze

Shell's Corrib gas project has been delayed for years by strong resistance in County Mayo. Now claims are emerging of corporate sweeteners, including a consignment of alcohol for police after a clash with protesters.

Four Thai nationals kidnapped in southern Nigeria

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Four Thail nationals working with the oil rich Rivers State government in southeastern Nigeria were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen, local officials said on Saturday.

After Going All In During Mining Boom, BHP Cuts Its Ambitions

The U-turn from expansionary spending to aggressive pullback has swept the global mining industry with brutal speed and force. With fixed costs rising, commodities prices slumping and profit shrinking, the chief executives of four of the biggest multinationals — BHP, Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Barrick Gold — have all been replaced. And pinched companies are scrambling to sell off assets and raise money, with mixed results. On Thursday, Rio Tinto shelved plans to sells some aluminum assets, citing the tough environment.

True cost of fracking is yet to be measured on a meter

Ground water has been polluted. Air quality has suffered. Unpleasant chemicals and assorted waste have become serious problems. The tales of "fire coming out of taps" might count as TV novelties, but they are true. Since the drilling companies have shown a marked reluctance even to identify the chemical substances employed in the fracking process, unsettling conclusions have been drawn.

Humanity's attempt to squeeze a little more juice from the planet has been controversial on every continent. The French have banned fracking. Quebec has suspended use of the process while other provinces carry out reviews. Anti-fracking protests have become common in South Africa and Denmark. In the US, the state of Vermont has banned the technique. The Blackpool earthquake that saw drilling suspended in the UK counts as a minor phenomenon.

Environmental, First Nations groups question the safety of Energy East pipeline plan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ringing enthusiasm for the Energy East pipeline is raising concerns about the integrity of the review process that his government must conduct to ensure the project does not pose an undue environmental or safety risk.

How Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline lost its way

The ill will Enbridge faces in building a project identified as vital to Canada’s international trade strategy speaks to the frailty of the many multibillion-dollar new developments planned by the country’s resource sector, which are key to the country’s economic future. Gateway has made clear there’s no certain path for resource expansion, even for projects with the full weight of government support behind them.

‘Independent Study’ On Keystone XL Closely Linked To Fossil Fuel Companies

In addition to consulting heavily with industry sources, the company relies on payments from these same companies. In addition to the payments IHS CERA receives from the energy companies who pay for its services, several sponsor and participate in its annual CERAWeek executive conference. Among the sponsors of the 2013 conference in Houston were those likely to benefit from the pipeline: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil. Top executives from the American Petroleum Institute, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and BP are just a few of the interested parties who will be participating.

ConocoPhillips plans new well in Alaska national reserve

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips has applied for permits to develop a new field in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, a vast unit of federal land that has yet to yield commercially produced oil, according to the federal agency managing the reserve.

School buses go green, with eco-friendly propane fuel

A growing number of school districts across the USA are shifting parts of their fleets from diesel fuel to propane to stretch strained budgets and promote cleaner air, according to officials from school districts and from private companies that operate school fleets.

Militant Filipino farmers destroy Golden Rice GM crop

Genetically modified foods have an image problem all over the world. Field trials of GM wheat were targeted last year in the UK, and now some 400 farmers in the Philippines have stormed a government-owned GM research field.

Wacky weather changing Iowans’ climate change perceptions

Scientists say annual weather proves little about climate trends, but this year and last, at opposite ends of the extreme weather spectrum, have strengthened Iowans’ belief that the state’s climate is changing.

Australia: Senate panel warns over climate change

A bipartisan warning over the dangers of climate change has pierced the electioneering, with a Senate committee pointing to the rising threat posed by extreme weather events and former Liberal leader John Hewson forecasting severe financial pain from unchecked carbon emissions.

Revised Oil well vs PV pro-forma. Unconventional well does not hunt at these assumptions so need more feedback. perhaps average lifetime flow too low? , Like PV, pressure must be intense to hammer initial costs. PV production is conservative from NREL's PVWatts at derate at .85, Exceeding lifetime average .85 derate factor would be cake using new super efficiency Inverters and high quality panels.

Planning multiple 30kW arrays on your barn? PowerOne and SMA have 30kW wall mount Inverters with groundbreaking price and efficiency.

Your output for bakken wells is way out. Should be over 100, best guess from Rune's charts is about 140. Bakken wells are actually profitable, at a price way less the $110.

40 barrels /day is about right at the end of the 4 years. Before that they were producing much higher.

Eyeballing the graph I googled up, the first year averages 250 bbl/day, the second year about 110, the third year about 75, the fourth year about 55, the the fifth year is about your 40 number. Averaged out it's about 105 bbl/day over the duration. But if you haven't made your money back in the first couple of years you are in trouble.

The decline rate will probably get worse as the best spots were taken first, of course.

Eyeballing the North Dakota Department of Industry's chart of a "typical" well (which Ron Patterson found and posted on his site, Peak Oil Barrel), I modeled the curve as the sum of two exponentials:

P(t) = P0 * {0.8*[exp(-1.8/365 * t)] + 0.2*[exp(-0.08/365 * t)]}, t in days.

where P0 is the initial daily production rate. This fits the chart pretty well. Suspiciously well.

After 10,000 days (27 years), cumulative production is about 970 times the first day's production. The first year's production is a bit more than a fifth of that, about 205 times initial daily production. (The first 4 years' is 410 times; the first 5 years', 460-ish).

With 500 barrels/day initial production and a wellhead price of $100/bbl, a "typical" ND well has a payback period of less than a year, ignoring finance cost and all the rest.

Of course, that 500 barrels/day is dropping...

That second term has a decay time of 12 and a half years. Thats pretty long. Going to infinity that yields 1074days.
And if this really fits their graph, it sounds like they took some typical parameters rounded then off, and then graphed them.

This is zeroing in:

Significant progress is being made in PV, The fact that a real time solar source can be even be pro forma with fossil energy is ...well amazing.

Progress is being made, but it looks like the payback period for PV is an order of magnitude longer then oil. Now you can play around with it to see how expensive electricity has to become, and how cheap PV needs to be for it to be pursued with the same vigour as fracking. The world needs to be installing about 1GW of non FF power generation every day in order to avoid collapse and the worst of climate change. So it would probably require an even more concerted effort then fracking. Probably in the order of scale of a world war, say 50% of world GDP dedicated to a renewable energy future, something that needed to have started decades ago. Then we would have the chance to discover whether or not the world can actually run on solar PV power.

Progress is being made, but it looks like the payback period for PV is an order of magnitude longer then oil.

If "price" is taken as the end all and be all to examine.

Price for local gallon of gas - $3.50. Price for gallon of milk - $3.50 (round by 1/10 of dollar).

How to generate a gallon of milk in a Human lifetime: Have 1 cow and sunshine.
How to generate a gallon of rock-oil gasoline in a Human lifetime: One can not.

The world needs to be installing about 1GW of non FF power generation every day in order to avoid collapse and the worst of climate change.

Do you have actual documentation for this claim? Or is this more un-sourced, "gut feeling" claims?

Spot on, One can put a PV array on roof and make life livable if demand is smart. Pumpjack or Windmill in .. my back yard? Unlikely . The cost of installed PV outside of North America is much less.

And beyond that, one home with power from PV and other renewables can be then adapted to support a couple or a few families worth of people, were conditions to worsen and require it. A little power can go a long way with people who learn to cooperate and share.

More bad news concerning Peak Everything .. !


Astonishing time frames for such massive engineering projects - Peak Oil/Fossil Fuels certainly hasn't gone unnoticed down at the Central Planning Office....!

This seems a good comment to point out something that's been nagging me. Think about China vs. the US as to what they're each doing with the bbls they're getting. China has literally been building cities - dozens of them. Cities with enough space to essentially house the entirety of the United States Population. In theory - these could have been built in the US - a new renaissance for the US.

During this time we've been the #1 energy consumer on the planet - oil and other. What do we have to show for it? Pretty much squat. We've kept our McMansions heated and cooled and we've kept our SUV's and trucks going down the road.

The Chinese, with less, built enough cities to house the US - we lived in McMansions and drove SUVs.

Which brings me to the nag...is it actually difficult to build infrastructure...or is it worse maintaining poor infrastructure? Are we actually underestimating our ability to make large infrastructure changes?

What do we have to show for it?! What planet do you live on? I'm relaxing on my covered natural stone patio, attached to my house out in the middle of the woods in BFE enjoying the light rain with the ceiling fan running, while watching the hummingbirds battle, the young cardinals beg for food, and listening to the frogs croaking in my manmade pond with waterfall that is powered by ridiculously cheap electricity. That's what I have to show for it...in addition to the most powerful military ever, world class universities, internet access, reliable electricity and natural gas, water and sewer systems, a safe food distribution system, interstates and airports for convenient travel, huge stadiums to watch your favorite sports teams and the list goes on.

What exactly would your plan be, tear down all our existing cities and rebuild them or mow down millions of more acres of natural habitat to build new ones and then abandon the old ones? I wager that in 75 years whatever cities china is building now will be obsolete and in the same predicament.

Naturally china is building cities with their oil, they didn't have them before and we already do. We already have the cities and can instead use energy to modify our lifestyles incrementally, because that's the only way it's going to work. It has to be organic and slowly but surely it's happening. Meanwhile in this great country you're free to buy PV for your mcmansion, an electric car, geothermal heating, solar hot water, wood stoves, etc. The change might not be as fast as you'd like but it is happening.

What do we have to show for it?! What planet do you live on?

I guess it all depends on who you include in 'WE', kemosabe!

I'm going to go waaaay out on a limb here and venture a guess that you are probably living the vida loca somewhere in the US of A, right? Well it might be a good idea to keep things in perspective and remember that this wonderful life that you describe is not even enjoyed equally by a majority of the 300 some million people who live within the confines of the 50 states. Let alone the vast majority of the billions of people who live in pretty dire circumstances in other corners of the globe.

The life that you are describing comes at a very high price in terms of energy, resources, waste sinks and ecological footprint. Let's be honest, Americans and the western industrialized nations use way more than their fair share of global resources. How long do you think 'WE' can get away with that?

So what planet do you live on?

Strawmen aside Fmagyer, do 'we' in the USA not have all those things I mentioned? They may not subscribe to your ideals, but nonetheless we've used oil to build that infrastructure. To say that we somehow have nothing to show for our wanton use of oil is disingenuous at best.

I'm not disputing that there are all of those things that were built using oil. What I'm trying to point out is, that it depends on who you include in the 'WE', when you make a claim that 'WE' have have all of that to show for it. I think we have passed peak 'WE' and as time goes by more and more of those who were at one time considered at least marginally part of the 'WE' are going to be more and more part of the 'THEM' with literally nothing to show for our wanton use of oil.

In the context of the above post, WE could only ever mean the US. Simply because it was a comparison between China and the US. I'm surprised this confused you.

I've run across a post by AlanFBE that better summarizes where my thoughts were heading:

I have come to the conclusion that it requires less capital to reduce oil consumption than to bring a marginal barrel of oil into production.

There simply is not enough resources for everyone to live like you. Even worse is that the resources people like you use will run out.

A good example of what usually happens is study of bacterial growth in a bowl or petri dish and there you have your problem. At this site we have accepted the situation and figth more or less fiercly about the time scale.

You others find someone who got the time scale wrong and claim there is no problem.

Well and apart from all that, TY seems to make an assumption that likens his comfortable status with that of the country overall.. I'm sure he's under no such illusion, but does it bear a little nudge to say that we've got great volumes of middleclass who are already taking the stairsteps down into another economic reality, as the job market offers Walmart work to PHDs, as the Rust Belt flakes away, as more tech work resettles in India and Taiwan.. We've got our ghost-towns too.. but they're not on the news much in Chevy Chase..

...in addition to the most powerful military ever,

Presently bleeding trillions in empire-destroying Afghanistan, previously game for the Soviets and the "sun never sets" British. Good thing we shut down all those expensive U.S. aid programs in the region once the enlightened task of killing Soviets came to a close, eh?

world class universities,

Where only the more equal rich can afford to educate their progeny, cash-rich corporations are plucking off the best faculty, and the remainder beg for replacement monitors and network switches for the lack of funding.

internet access,

A visitor from Lithuania found Internet speeds in Silicon Valley laughably slow.

reliable electricity and natural gas,

This requires a powerfully sandy ear syndrome to not notice the punishing externalities of burning scads of Carbon. Homo Sapiens, not.

water and sewer systems,

Nothing to crow about; sewer systems should be run underground, yet Americans celebrate their open air sewer system and the freedom it appears to afford them.

a safe food distribution system,

Setting aside the sacrificial offerings to the road system for a moment--at least the Greeks sacrificed oxen, not their own citizens--this requires ignoring the "Great Smoky Mountains National Park" and other risibly polluted parks from all that safe generation and distribution of food.

interstates and airports for convenient travel,

If only you ignore the public slaughter of 30,000+ citizens a year, the general fund being raided in a desperate attempt to maintain a crumbling infrastructure, and the irony of an anti-cancer research institute located right next to a cancer-causing interstate.

Trains? Can't do, we're too busy building tanks, tanks, and more tanks!

huge stadiums to watch your favorite sports teams and the list goes on.

One memorable traffic jam was on the Burke-Gilman trail, with Seahawks fans waddling, yes, waddling their way to the Husky Stadium, being too rotund and otherwise unfamiliar with the art of walking. I was able to resist the urge to moo at these fine specimens of the American race.

I will conclude with a small-scale fractal of America: picture a city worker using a leaf-blower on 45th & University Way to blow the toxic road grit hither and yon, while contributing even more toxic road grit from the pollution of said leaf-blower.

Yair . . . Oh yes thrig, a very nice reality check!!


I know a lot of people hate these dam projects. But I'd rather have them do that than keep building coal plants.

The even better news is that they are building both. The coal age didn't end,

Yeah, but they would build even more coal plants if not for the hydro plants.

I really think the world should start putting a tariff on goods manufactured in countries with massive coal usage. Too much CO2, too much mercury emissions, too much SO2, too much radioactive coal ash, etc. Heck, it would be good for them . . . just look at the pollution in their cities.

Dams are ecosystem killers, and evaporation tanks.
They need to be removed. Using coal to replace them is foolish and suicidal.
Clinging to a world that is in the rear view mirror is delusional.
Subvert the dominate paradigm.

Really! Technology is not the answer? Electric cars or better batteries to make them viable and and continue to support the motor industry, or electric trains with enough "paying" customers to make them economically viable, even if there is an economic collapse.

Or better technology to catch more fish, cut down forests faster, dam rivers, mine gold, rare earths, sivler and various ores. Promote "green wonders" like solar panels made without FF's connected to a grid not maintained with FF's and food produced without fertilizer made and applied without FF.

Technology like cold fusion and safe nuclear energy.....That's just around the corner, in the meantime lets facilitate BAU for as long as we need to. Whatever we do we must not advocate banning FF production because that would cause hardship now, better to do it with "baby steps" and let future generations "suffer".

Maybe we should aspire to be like France as some say but never-the-less are in the top five of debt ratios and has 78% of electricity supplied with nuclear power, or the Danes who are securing their "green" future with sales of oil.

Lets not worry about increased population because we will simply "educate" the women.

Lets not worry about about rising CO2 because "renewables and technology" will solve that problem, that is if it is a problem at all.

........and the tar sands, hell we're making the world a better place by mining that swamp, environmental pollution and negative EROEI will be attended to by the resident apologist.

EROEI.....pfftt that's doesn't apply in the world of today while we have economists and the ability to manipulate the original and re-label it E-ROI or EROI.

Cornucopians must deny population overshoot, declining EROEI and economic collapse because acknowledging any one of them would bring their psychopathic house of cards tumbling down.

You know, the one saving grace on the closing of TOD is that I won't have to tolerate the dangerous cornucopian's, constantly posting their clownish nonsense. I learn't to tolerate the clowns, that's why I'll miss TOD. I hated it when Gail was relentlessly attacked and spammed, she has her own blog, I love her insight and poise, she is one that truly gets the big picture.

Enjoy your choir. I'll be looking for something more like this.

As far as I've seen, the challenges to Gail's conclusions have been exactly the kind of debate that is appropriate for this site and these issues.

Her contributions have been enormous to this discussion, but I and others also feel she has some key blindspots or distortions.. and that is just why we need a variety of views to compare it to.

I don't support comments that have been abusive, but I also think that when certain 'inaccurate views' get repeated over and over, a bit of frustration is understandable, (and of course, I'm talking about all sides of these arguments here.. 'inaccurate' being a POV) and the redundancy of the argument CAN be the attempts by both sides to keep rephrasing and reapplying their ideas in order to improve and clarify their points.. while sometimes, even if the argument hasn't grown up, it remains a marker for where we are stuck, which isn't a bad thing to be reminded of for those who want to chew on how to dig harder to find solutions for such a social impasse.

Her contributions have been enormous to this discussion, but I and others also feel she has some key blindspots or distortions.. and that is just why we need a variety of views to compare it to.

I agree! I don't think I can be called a cornucopian but I see enormous opportunity to build a new kind of technological civilization that is more environmentally benign and can be powered by alternative energy such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass and yes even some fossil fuel when necessary. The only problem I see is how quickly can we let go of ideas to maintain BAU such as Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt. I agree with Gail that there is no way that can continue. BUT and a very big but it is!

Someone had posted a link to this vehicle before: http://www.organictransit.com/

That is the kind of 'Technology' that I'm expecting will still be quite doable in a post peak oil world. It isn't your father's Oldsmobile but it sure isn't an Ox cart either. I could certainly live with it.

As a society we need to get our priorities straight and stop bailing out banks and big automobile companies. They are a huge burden on us! We need to learn how to build things by hand again. BTW the ELF is hand built!

Walking into the headquarters of Organic Transit, a North Carolina-based developer of what it calls “the most efficient vehicles on the planet,” I was struck by a decidedly disorienting feeling.

At first glance it was hard to put my finger on where that feeling was coming from. And then it hit me.

People were actually making things.

In a world where manufacturing is so often automated or outsourced to the other side of the world, it’s quite remarkable to see a team welding, assembling and tinkering with a fleet of futuristic-looking pedal electric hybrid vehicles.

BAU is dead long live the alternatives!



I really want an ELF! The price is very good for what you get. My husband and I actually debated quite a while about selling our two electric bikes to get the $ for it (as well as make room in our garage for it!) Our main reservation is parking considerations. We live in a dense city (San Francisco) and a huge benefit of bicycling is being able to pull up very near to our destination and generally park without trouble, either at a bike rack or lock up to a parking meter or sign pole. The ELF is big enough it won't fit at most bike racks and would certainly clog up most city sidewalks if parked there. If it catches on, I figure three ELFs could park in a standard car parking spot if the city and those stores with parking lots were willing to convert some of those spots to ELF parking. And if the city charged 1/3rd the hourly price of a car for ELF parking, that would be reasonable.

For space issues alone I wouldn't want to see all bikes converted to ELFs in San Francisco (12 bikes can park in the space of one car) but if car drivers could be converted to ELF riders for trips under 10 miles, it would be hugely beneficial in terms of noise, pollution, energy consumption, congestion, citizen health, and carbon emissions. It certainly resolves many of the reasons why people say they can't bike here--it makes hills easy, it makes you more visible and less vulnerable to car traffic, it keeps you dry in the rain, even senior citizens can use it easily, and you can carry a week's worth of groceries home with it. It's far cheaper than owning and operating a car, it's faster than taking public transit, and it would probably not be much slower than a car for most trips within city limits. Organic Transit says they're working on integrating a child carrier into it--that would be another huge plus if they can make it work. Their prototype Truckit that can carry 500 pounds of cargo is also very exciting.

Anyone have an ELF and can report on how it's working for them?

Lots of luck getting up San Francisco's hills in an ELF. With the ELF vehicle weighing 150 lbs, you would be just as well off pedaling up the hill in a lightweight road bike.

E-bikes are a great technology (I have some and ride them up big hills), but most Americans would not consider giving up a car for one until forced to.

The Elf has a 750 watt motor and weighs 150 lbs. My current ebike has a 400 watt motor, weights 80lbs and gets up my very large San Francisco hill with five bags of groceries quite well.(My hill is so steep I can't bike up it with my regular bike, so every time I go home, I walk the last quarter mile. Even so, I use my regular bike 90% of the time because it's better exercise.) I'm pretty sure the Elf would do just fine on most San Francisco hills, but it would be nice to test one out.

Nearly a third of households in San Francisco have no vehicle and the number is growing since most new housing is being built with fewer parking spots than the number of condos/apartments and street parking is limited. 17% of San Franciscans already make at least one trip a week by bicycle.

enormous opportunity to build a new kind of technological civilization that is more environmentally benign and can be powered by alternative energy such as wind, hydro, solar, biomass

The list of wind, hydro, and biomass are all expressions of Solar. And Biomass - are not oil and coal forms of biomass?

But I visit today for a couple of reasons and your post prompts me to place them here.


Researchers developing the technology say that it could lead to solar panels that cost just 10 to 20 cents per watt. Solar panels now typically cost about 75 cents a watt ... Perovskites have been known for over a century, but no one thought to try them in solar cells until relatively recently. The particular material the researchers are using is very good at absorbing light. While conventional silicon solar panels use materials that are about 180 micrometers thick, the new solar cells use less than one micrometer of material to capture the same amount of sunlight. The pigment is a semiconductor that is also good at transporting the electric charge created when light hits it.

And as for lower energy - Geopolymers.
http://www.geopolymer.org/category/archaeology/pyramids and http://www.geopolymer.org/camp/gpcamp-2013
Think about this for a moment - if the big 'ole stones of the Pyramids are synthetic ..... what level of energy went into processing the material to MAKE the cast stones? Where could that energy have come from? With an energy level of ancient Egypt - what could be built today if Humans re-figure out how to take (local) material and make geopolymers?

Edit: Asked and answered!

Imhotep’s formula to make limestone blocks

Imhotep had two different chemical formulas: a very simple one for the casting of the limestone core blocks, and another one to produce the high quality stones of the exterior layer. When all the blocks of the core were set in place, a layer of casing was applied. This meant preparing a more sophisticated type of mold to produce inclined limestone blocks following the slope of the pyramid, adding new ingredients to the mixture to yield a higher quality stone.

(There ya all go - A new topic for the last gasp of TOD. How to make your own sphinx just like in the old days.)

Yep, all those old guys will be out there welding ELF's on sunny summer days using all that free solar energy. While at the same time there will be other people building more PV panels, others extracting ores and minerals, others smelting metals. Everyone will be flat out on sunny days, and all that equipment will sit idle on cloudy days. Because everything is going to require overcapacity just to utilise the sun when it is shining, ELF's will definitely be a priority in the glorious utopian future. Everyone will be so selfless, kindhearted and sharing once we stop burning FF.

BAU is alive and well TYVM. The alternatives have a very long history of dying premature deaths.

BAU is alive and well TYVM. The alternatives have a very long history of dying premature deaths.

You're right! We will be building F 150 pickups 24/7 and driving them on oil, till the sun burns out...

all that equipment will sit idle on cloudy days.

Because in your fact driven world - if there are clouds PV produces no power?

I don't see it as all bad. The biggest problem with the melting glaciers is that the timing of the runoff changes, dams can impound the water that used to be stored as ice/snow. And if they are gonna go big time for PV which I think they will within a few years), having dispatchable hydro will be a big plus.
Of course better more sensitive planning would really help. Not so sure that will happen.

CU-Boulder plots to extend life of Al Bartlett's famous lecture

CU's Environmental Center is now preparing for the day when he is no longer able to give the famed lecture as Bartlett -- who turned 90 in March -- has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Over the past few months, Bartlett has consulted with Susan Beckett, the Energy Program Manager with CU's Environmental Center who is helping lead the effort to train people on how to give the lecture: "Arithmetic, Population and Energy."

Professor Bartlett is in the final days of his life. He wants this to be his legacy.

Professor Bartlett's lecture had a great influence on my own thinking. I had the honor and the privilege of exchanging a few personal emails with him. He got a kick out of this graphic which I sent him.

I've given 2 or 3 lectures based on Al Bartlett's, when I've found a suitable audience. Hopefully there are many others doing this. Carry the torch.

When I first encountered Bartlett's lecture, I grabbed on to it as something important to be said and heard, and sent it to all my friends, some of whom were deeply bothered by it. Good News.

Bartlett did a Big Good.

Here's my op-ed in the spirit of Bartlett- and TOD. Thanks to all.

A man feels himself in need of some energy, so he goes to the lady who deals in that sort of thing, and orders some oil. To his surprise and delight, she gives him a hundred barrels, and only asks for one barrel back as payment.
“Wow” he says, “what a bargain”, and goes off and spends his oil on lots of fun things.

But pretty soon he has burned up his 99 barrels of oil, and since he has got into some wasteful habits with it, is hankering for more, so he goes back to the lady, and again, she hands over 100 barrels of oil right off the shelf, but this time she asks for two barrels of it back as payment. The man is slightly surprised but still thinks he as got a great bargain for his 98 barrels of oil, and rushes off to the same games as before.

But the next time he goes for oil, he is again surprised to find that this time the lady asks for 4 barrels in return, still a bargain, and he goes back to his oil-lubricated partying.

The next trip to the lady, and this time its 8 barrels, then 16, still a great buy, but getting a bit painful, since by now he has got into wasting it real fast. And the next time, she wants 32 back, leaving him with only 68 to feed his addict habits- starting to really hurt. And the next, when she asks for 64 barrels back out of the 100 she gives him, he starts to get seriously worried, but what can he do, he’s just gotta have that oil.

Then things get really bad, for his next fix, the lady offers him his 100 barrels same as always, but then, of all things, demands 128 barrels back as payment! Nonsense! The man is outraged- he can’t pay that price of course, since he hasn’t saved a drop of all the oil he has bought, he had blown it straight up into the stratosphere as quickly as he got it.

“Hey, what kinda fool do you think I am, nobody would pay more oil than what they get when they get it!”

The lady smiles pleasantly “You ask what kind of fool are you? A really big one, looks to me.”

The man is doubly outraged. She has added insult to injury. Unbearable!

“Look here, you told me you had plenty of oil, and now you tell me it’s gonna cost me more than it’s worth. This is crazy, you have let me fall into a trap! But I gotta have that energy. I can’t live without it. What am I gonna do?”

“Sure, I have plenty of oil,” Replies Mother Nature in a helpful tone, “but of course you have to pay the price for it. Ever try heavy plumbing jobs on a heaving boat in a 40 below blizzard while being bulldozed by an iceberg? You are in a trap, alright, but you dug it, and then jumped into it, I didn’t push you” “And” she adds as an afterthought, “you might have thought a little about how to use that oil when you had it, like, for example, finding some other source of energy before it got too expensive”, she says, squinting into the sunlight as a sort of a hint.

The man, seeing no way out, falls down in a tearing, hopeless fit.

Mother Nature, ignoring the silliness, goes off about her business, carefree as ever.

This is a frequently used analogy, but I think something is amiss. I think is more like you have to buy 101 barrels to get 100, one is kind of like a tax imposed by geophysics. Then you have to buy 102 to get 100. Then 104, 108, 116, 132, etc. You'll probably still be buying oil if you have to buy 200 to get 100 while paying tax with the extra 100. The common analogy suggests its no longer viable when the eroi gets down to 1:1. Unless less I've misunderstood Rockman oil can still keep flowing at an eroi at less than 1:1 if you can still make money.

I am indebted to those on the Oil Drum who steered me onto Albert Bartlett's lecture on the exponential function.

For what its worth, his lecture is on YouTube:


Thank you, Professor Bartlett, for sharing your concerns with us. I only hope more of us will understand your concerns, as our failure to do so will certainly be our undoing.

Re: Is peak oil demand just around the corner?

One premise of this article appears to be that a nation's oil use tends to plateau depending on income per person, as evidenced in developed nations. This says little about the rest of humanity, who have only just begun to enjoy the benefits of automobile transportation. Then too, Adam Brandt's graphic of future consumption does project that consumption (i.e., total production) will continue to increase after conventional production has peaked. The conventional production isn't expected to hit peak until about 2035. No peak just around the corner, unlike the story from The ECONOMIST...

E. Swanson

I like how we have 'peak demand' for conventional oil, but keep demanding moar and moar unconventional oil. That's because we are so much smarter then yeast.

Lavabit, the email service used by Edward Snowden, is to close down rather than be complicit in constitutionally illegal surveillance by the US.


I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests...

...This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

More at the Guardian: "Email service used by Snowden shuts itself down, warns against using US-based companies".

Soon it will be impossible to distinguish between government, corporation and criminal. Something I noted a few months ago. It's already getting harder to tell them apart.

"Soon it will be impossible to distinguish between government, corporation and criminal."

In the book Shockwave Rider, (1975) that same point was made. Organized crime and government have more in common than different.

At risk of being a bit trite..

"The pigs and farmers return to their amiable card game, and the other animals creep away from the window. Soon the sounds of a quarrel draw them back to listen. Napoleon and Pilkington have played the ace of spades simultaneously, and each accuses the other of cheating. The animals, watching through the window, realize with a start that, as they look around the room of the farmhouse, they can no longer distinguish which of the cardplayers are pigs and which are human beings."

Just saw ELYSIUM tonight.. more than a little disappointed with the Magical Technofix that completed the ruination of the Sci-Fi aspect, the Political story and the Human one all at once.

Brutal summer for Movies that lean ENTIRELY on the Trite, the CG and Bash Fests.. I've been just bored to tears!.. But more than that even, I have been fascinated at the LACK of any real driving narratives in the commercial films lately. It's like the woods when all the birds go quiet..

Yeah I agree. The 80s were filled with truly good dystopian science fiction films like road warrior, blade runner, brazil, just to name a few.

The late 90s to mid 2000s had some good epic films. Now it's just the same old stuff over and over again, except worse.

The 70's were good too, if a bit sparse and weird. Logan's Run, Westworld, Soylent Green...

Hunger Games is a pretty good dystopian trilogy - not well-written, but it translated well to the screen. The second installment will be released soon.

Still just a remake of Battle Royal.

I'll have to check that out. I'm not familiar with it.

And where did the movies come from? From books. Leguin and Herbert were two of the first ecological novelists to span to new readers, And then of course Brunner. There of course was some pastoralist paens to nature in fiction and more so non-fiction - but much to that was "preaching to the converted." One can see several examples of that these days in the output of copyright free old books from FadedPage.com and Gutenberg.

Unfortunately a movie was never made of Silent Spring by Ms Carson unless it was a small documentary.

And so I slide from this to the question, why is it (to my perception at least) that fiction can be read by a more nebulous group of readers and will deeply affect some over the years while non-fiction tomes with a slanti.e Silent Spring (even a ones that in retrospct were bang on and cutting edge, possibly nigh prescient) are read by a smaller niche? And does this translate as well to film, where all sorts saw Silent Running, Soylent Green, etc. whereas most will only see a documentary if they have already started to buy into the philosphy behind.

along with peak oil we get peak Sci Fi


I think we're just missing a compelling motivation that would push us into having such social points to the storytelling.

An old Chinese proverb says 'Keep the people well fed and they'll never rise up.'

I think we've been both overfed and overmedicated with comforting palliatives, ("relieving without curing") so that we're alienated from the kinds of pain that compel us to drive towards something better.

Talk about dystopian! .. The good news is that the good times can't last! Smoke 'em if you've got em! (Obey your thirst!)

Happy Birthday, Mom! 8/11/'37 (Hoping maybe they have WiFi in Heaven)

An old Chinese proverb says 'Keep the people well fed and they'll never rise up.'

Part of US food policy for years. What's the plan when food is no longer cheap?

Added benefit - the present polity of cheap carbs helps to kill off the poor:

Or cause behavior issues:

The man who brought you this cheap food policy obits:

Its all gone to heck. Zombies, werewolves, and vampires aren't sci-fi. Nor are ghost stories.

I generally do not watch movies, but I went to see the latest Star Trek movie with some friends for old times' sake. There were something like half an hour of previews/commercials before the actual movie started. Elysium looked interesting...though not interesting enough for me to actually go see it. However, I was interested enough to reach this review, which had some scathing things to say about the ending. So I checked the Wikipedia summary, and boy, is it ever dumb. And am I ever glad I didn't waste time, money, and last drops of fossil sunlight going to see it.

I'm mixed about the whole thing. It has added an important new word/concept to the popular Lexicon (Elysium, where the 1% wall themselves off from the troubles of the 99% they exploit, while consuming more and more scarce resources). But this idea from the trailers, if we conquer them, we will all be able to live like that......

Now, if it were good old fashioned Sci-Fi. It would have led to a gradual bi-furcation of the species, looked at from several thousand years in the future. The Elysian's use technology and genetic engineering to become a highly intelligent space-faring race, while the home planet becomes an impoverished slum, inhabited by what they consider scum. Then some Elysian researcher discovers the horrible moral truth about how it had all come to past, puncturing the sanitized creation myths his people hold dear.....

It had 'the idea of the idea' in it.. the one percent, etc.. but they played that like an episode of Love-Boat trying to show the class issues on the Titanic, just grindingly unsubtle and unsubstantial.. it felt like a damned 'Grey Poupon' commercial.

and then the solutions came from 'increased armaments' and 'miracle apps' .. it's like they hit the 'Enter' key, and in a few seconds, it all flips over and everything is all right.

Remember Governor Schwartzenegger gasping for breath on Mars, and the Atmosphere suddenly appears and 'whew!'.. he can breathe again and his eyeballs suck back into his head..? It was about that level of Techno-magic. (TOTAL RECALL)

Time to watch M*A*S*H again.. or Little Big Man..
(Old Lodge Skins - "Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't!")

Actually, to jump off from your idea of where to extend it to, I would be interested in a story where the Orbital Gated Community didn't succomb to a range of Mental Illness and Cultural Rot that comes from living in an overprotected and unchallenged state. The Aunt of a High School Classmate has written about the Mental Health issues around some upper class families... ( Millicent Monks, "Song of Three Islands" http://www.paulagordon.com/shows2/mmonks/ ) .. and remember the Madness of King George?

Notice the quality of the billionaires of inherited wealth who are currently buying state legislatures and congress.

As I think about this and all the 'movies about exploding skyscrapers' that I've seen this summer, and all the posters that feature 'HeMan Heroes with Mighty Guns' on them, all I can utter is 'Frightened Bankers' .. as in those who are willing to back a movie, and the kind of movie they will back.

I'm not actually mad about their blind fear right now.. I'm pretty circumspect at the moment, sorry to see just how insecure and reactive we're being. And such fear is not usually conducive to looking at the hard truths and making daring moves.. they're hiding under their covers and not looking, so the monsters can't get them.

This apartment I'm working in this morning, replacing floor tiles.. (I've clocked off.. I wouldn't do that to my customers.) There's a print of the Mona Lisa I've only just noticed.. and of course she's giving me that wise, patient and unfoolish smirk..'what fools ye twentieth century mortals be!' As archeologists somewhere across the sea are extracting bones that 'might' have her DNA within them.. ( http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/researchers-dig-trac... ) what would they find there? I don't begrudge them looking, but look at the painting again.

It's right in front of us.. but we keep looking anywhere else. Keep going, artists.. get it out there.

(And yes, Leanan.. don't bother.. all sound and fury and signifying nothing. The friend I watched it with was mad and sad about 'Man of Steel', since Superman, like Kirk, like everyone this summer, couldn't be bothered to find a reason to stop punching, harder and harder.)

Superman, like Kirk, like everyone this summer, couldn't be bothered to find a reason to stop punching, harder and harder.

Well he used to fight the evil corporate forces that created the Great Depression but hard punching bankers isn't popular in the new Greater Depression.

Gas industry sees risk in vision for Energy East oil line

SOPHIE COUSINEAU, The Globe and Mail, Published Friday, Aug. 02 2013, 7:41 PM EDT

TransCanada’s chief executive, Russ Girling, has portrayed Energy East as a nation-building project. The west-to-east pipeline, which would ship 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, has pleased Canadians at both ends of the country. Alberta and New Brunswick are thrilled, as western oil will find a new export outlet through a deep-water terminal to be built in Saint John.

Yet, some parties in between aren’t cheering. In particular, industrial gas users in Ontario and in Quebec as well as the three gas distributors that serve them – Union Gas Ltd., Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. and Gaz Métro. If their concerns are ignored, this will spell trouble for TransCanada as it seeks to get a quick nod from Ontario and Quebec.

-- snip --

In peak winter time, the TransCanada mainline represents 40 per cent of Quebec and Ontario’s consumption needs,” says Patrick Cabana, Gaz Métro’s vice-president for supply and regulatory affairs.

The supply of gas to Ontario and Quebec is complicated and a little confusing with all the NG pipeline changes going on. The changes in supply and pipeline architecture into Ontario and Quebec (and the U.S. Northeast) is based on the premise that the Marcellus (and even the Utica, which last I read was dead in the water) will provide an abundant long term supply of NG to these jurisdictions. The NG distributors in Ontario and Quebec like Gaz Metro and Union Gas can't be unaware of the rapid production declines of those shale gas wells... can they?

For information on the changes in pipeline architecture in Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. Northeast the following three posts are worth reading.

Return to Sender – No Such Demand – Canadian Gas Flows Reverse at Niagara
    Sandy Fielden, rbnenergy.com,on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 15:40

Return to Sender – Flowing Marcellus Gas into Eastern Canada
    Sandy Fielden, rbnenergy.com, on Mon, 02/04/2013 - 20:00

Return to Sender – The Constitution Amendment to Iroquois Gas Supplies
    Sandy Fielden, rbnenergy.com, on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 20:00

Radioactive water overruns Fukushima barrier - TEPCO

Contaminated groundwater accumulating under the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has risen 60cm above the protective barrier, and is now freely leaking into the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator TEPCO has admitted...

...However, Japan’s Ministry of Industry has recently estimated that some 300 tons of contaminated groundwater have been flowing into the ocean daily ever since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster...

...Water samples recently taken at an underground passage below the Fukushima nuclear plant showed extreme levels of radiation comparable to those taken immediately after the March 2011 catastrophe. The tested water, which had been mixing with ground water and flowing into the ocean, contained 2.35 billion Becquerels of cesium per liter – some 16 million times above the limit.

I was reading the other day that Tepco's efforts at containing the water was causing the ground under the plant to become saturated. One result was building No4 (damaged, listing and with 1500 fuel rods teetering 30 meters up) has actually sank 80cm since the earthquake. During the earthquake it sank circa 1meter IIRC.

One result was building No4 (damaged, listing and with 1500 fuel rods teetering 30 meters up) has actually sank 80cm since the earthquake. During the earthquake it sank circa 1meter IIRC.

I believe that is a perfect example of what is conventionally defined as a "Charlie Foxtrot!"

There is no way to stop Fukushima radioactive water leaking into the Pacific

Arnold Gundersen: But of course, the problem now is that we are contaminating the Pacific Ocean which is extraordinarily serious.

ES: Is there anything that can be done with that, I mean with the ocean?

AG: Frankly, I don’t believe so. I think we will continue to release radioactive material into the ocean for 20 or 30 years at least. They have to pump the water out of the areas surrounding the nuclear reactor. But frankly, this water is the most radioactive water I’ve ever experienced. I work directly over a nuclear reactor cores during refueling outages. And the water directly over a nuclear reactor core when the plant is operating is a thousand times less radioactive than this water. So, there is an extraordinary amount of water and even if they build the wall, ground waters enter the Pacific through underwater sources. It doesn’t have to run of the top of the surface into the Pacific. It can enter the underwater sources as well.

Then there's this:


Senior Scientist: 100 times more strontium than cesium in water at Fukushima plant — “Strontium gets into your bones… it changes the equation”

I still think dilution will do the trick. The ocean volume is something like a billion cubic miles, that's a lot of volume to dilute into. I'd be more concerned about the ocean bottom within say 50KM of the plant. But, oceanwide, I don't think it will have much effect.

All this effort to contain it? Sure the time it takes a radioactive atom to get from the fuel rod into the general ocean, might be a couple of years longer due to all that effort. At least some of those Strontium atoms will decay in that time.

Reminds me of the old saying, 'dilution is the solution to our pollution'.

And then you can add, '..Further Contamination means the Refutation of that Equation.'

But one must include bio-accumulation in the equation. Billions of years of enigneering of the enzymes to scavenge calcium, iodine, manganese, etc that start in plants and bacteria in ocean and bio-accumulate up the food chain.

Satellite to track climate change

Flanked by Orbital Sciences CEO David Thompson and Gilbert Mayor John Lewis, Bolden expressed a sense of urgency in getting the satellite ready for launch.

"Ideally, the satellite should have been launched a long time ago," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This is not new. It has just become critical because we haven't done anything in the intervening time."

"Planetary science, heliophysics, everything else is really important, but if we don't get the Earth straight, none of that stuff is going to make any difference," Bolden said.

Bolden said it is time for people to look outside their own "bubble" and pay attention to global trends. Information collected by OCO-2 will be made available to the international community, he said.

"It's one big ocean, contrary to what people think," Bolden said. "What happens in the Pacific affects what happens in the Atlantic. What happens over New York affects what happens over Shanghai or Moscow.

"We don't live on a partitioned planet," Bolden said. "It's one big system, and if we don't get it right, we will destroy humanity."

Royal Dutch Shell: They’ve Really Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

Connects the dots and explains why Gov. Tom Corbett has been handing out billions in corporate welfare to Shell and how he was bought off.

I am doing some personal geographical/climate/geological/etc. research and thought to inquire here what might be the best free 'GIS/Geomatic/Climate' site? It would be nice to get local population, topography, vegetation, temperature averages, changes, etc., as comprehensive as possible, all on one map with maybe graph/table popups, layers, etc.. Thank you.

BTW, might anyone know how the Inca cut the mortarless stones so close? What I have heard thus far seems less plausible. If the Inca were skilled at engineering and working with large heavy stone, then it would seem to stand to reason that they would understand simple mechanical advantage and apply it accordingly. I have my own ideas in this regard about how I would attempt it in their shoes. Perhaps concrete, and/or whatever mortar is, might one day be in increasingly-limited supply.

BTW2, I just found a new, simple and supposedly anonymous blogging site...

"Anonyme.com is one of the latest technology anonymous blogging platforms, that guarantees the privacy and safety of bloggers and their blog post through a safe environment of blogging..." ~ Wikipedia

Lastly, I find that Albert Bartlett is super easy to follow. But after so many lectures on the topic, it seems hardly surprising. Best wishes, Albert.

Nothing is really anonymous on the internet. There are only degrees of privacy and effort required to find an identity.

Farther more Anonyme terms of service state:

"We may preserve or disclose your information if we believe that it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation or legal request; to protect the safety of any person; to address fraud, security or technical issues; or to protect Anonyme's rights or property."

Thanks, I suspected as much. ;) What are your thoughts, if any, regarding the other topics of my comment-- especially, given your nickname, the second one.

Both topics compelling Tribe.. tho' I don't have satisfying answers for them.. Looking for a better nest?

As far as Safe Internet Comm's are concerned, I hope others are looking to various iterations of Packet Radio as a fallback to digital communications that don't rely on the 'mortar' of all these internet servers, contracts and wires that have let us rest our little messages on with the comforting illusion of independence. At different ranges and frequencies, there are a lot of 'old tech' tools out there, from Citizen's Band to Shortwave that can offer levels of connection and networking. We can vary the coding and languages, we could recode binary into music, text into time delays.. there are a lot of ways to rebuild some flexibility and resilience into what is currently a fairly brittle monolith that has the 'look' of being subtle, dynamic and free.

I loved (and hated) John Barlow's Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.. seeing it in the 90's already as a great dream, but also a troubled distortion of the potentials of the internet.. which we now can see has been fully compromised, bought, sold and branded.


"...We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before. "

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996

The responsible, micromanaging bureaucrats will ever be squeaking their way into anything that starts out wild and wonderful.. or as the uncontainable Baron Munchhausen put it..

Baron Munchausen: So, Mr. Jackson, still the rational man? How many people have perished in your logical little war?

Horatio Jackson: There are rules in life!

Hi Bob. Any nest is a better nest with a special someone in it ;) but yes, I've even set up a blog for it over at anonyme.com, called HojeandoParaiso, or PerusingParadise, which was one letter too long for the site. You or anyone reading are welcomed to look, comment and even even join us on our venture. I'm also in touch with someone from TOD in Cuzco, where my someone has a relative.
The idea is either to settle near the ocean or near a navigable stretch of a tributary that connects to the Amazon, and thus to the Atlantic, maybe hang a right to Fred's (FMagyar's) pad. ;) (I could have made this one of the blog's posts.)
You can do it from Iquitos and maybe upriver past Pucallpa or even Atalaya. Where are you located by the way? Are you ocean-accessible? Ever thought of relocating? Jumping the BAU ship? I heard that some landlocked places might have a harder time of things, post-peak. I had the idea of something like a sail network before knowledge of Lundberg's and Orlov's setups or Ruppert's Lifeboat Hour, and/but it was encouraging/reassuring to find out about them-- which could form various and important forms of connections at some points.
I might be able to get a sailboat, incidentally, but am without a car/trailer-- like the Inca perhaps- big plans, limited tech ;) -- so if you (or anyone reading this) might be interested in helping to get it, well, then it and you would be part of the network/fleet if you would want, and things could get moving faster too. Or we could offer you alternative ethical currency credits, or ship you some stuff when in the neighborhood (or your idea, etc.).

Quite some time ago, I did look into "internet" by ham radio, for example, so am a bit aware of that. Apparently, it's super-slow, but good for email, and it does make me think about that last-mile hop issue for roving mesh networks, as well as for the sail network's form of communication.

~ Caelan

BTW; what do you (et al) think about the idea of a shared blog conceptualized as, and called something like, 'The Roving Drumbeat'?
The reason I ask is because when I've gone to the sites of the articles that Drumbeat links to, I've sometimes noticed others from TOD who had commented. This made me think of an idea where a group of us could do this regularly-- comment under articles around the net that might have otherwise appeared in a Drumbeat, and then maybe report back/discuss the results at the blog.

I had the idea of something like a sail network before knowledge of Lundberg's and Orlov's setups or Ruppert's Lifeboat Hour, and/but it was encouraging/reassuring to find out about them-- which could form various and important forms of connections at some points.

Are you familiar with the Salish Sea Trading Cooperative up in Seattle?

As for me I'm currently in Sao Paulo so I'm landlocked in what I would probably say is a city that could be designated the poster child for the epitome of unsustainability. So this is not someplace I plan on staying long term. I will be back in Florida at the end of October but will want to return to Brazil probably around February 2014. It would be fantastic if I could figure out a way to go back and forth by sailboat!

Yes, I have heard of the Salish Sea Trading Co-op in Seattle. Seems there may be something like that on the east, otherwise, there's something to consider.
Florida's a good midpoint from Bob's (jokuhl's) and my location to Brazil. Where in Brazil would you want to be?
I wonder how climate change might affect the roaring forties, etc..

This is all reminding me that before we had our daughter, we talked about getting our young off to South Amer. for a spell, that is to show her some kind of alternative to the Spell of American Society.

Some of these plans might have a far better chance of working out if I include the real planner in the family. and the kid.. (the kid and I are very close, in case that sounded a bit cold.)

Let's keep in touch. Maybe there will not only be an alternative to TOD, but a seaworthy sailing boat co-owned/cooperatived and sailed by a few of TOD's former online members.

My regular Home in Maine is largely chosen for access to Ocean and Mts, fairly reliable fresh water, and a culture that I think can handle at least a bit of the coming changes.. if they actually show up in full.

I'm back on duty, so can't answer all.. but I am enticed by the idea of cooperating on a new blog. I'm not at all sanquine about the prospect of 'belling the cats' that Leanan, Kate, HO and everyone at TOD have pretty unceremoniously done for all these hundreds of days, but I'm aware that the bill is coming due. Time to become parents and stop being whiny kids, eh?

I think I might have to get me some Sea Legs, if I'm going to be finding my way to some of those 'other' Americas. Kind of taken by the outlandish prospect of following George Dyson's models of Huge Aleutian Seagoing Kayaks. Or maybe I'll just hop a tramp steamer, so I have time to write..

In regard to digital TOS's you might find it beneficial to research the closing of Lavabit, the email service that Snowden used.

It's a bad trend.

hello Tribe,

You could start with this list from Wikipedia.


BTW, I used to teach GIS mapping when I worked at ACDSee some years ago. They have a product called Canvas 14 with a GIS module that's a pretty good bang for the buck. I still use it to this day. If you need any help let me know.



Thanks, Fred, will do.

We’re headed for an electricity war: here’s how to stop it (theconversation)

The unspoken fear of all utility managers is the “Death Spiral Scenario”. In this nightmare, a utility commits to build new equipment. However, when electric rates are raised to pay for the new plant, the rate shock moves customers to cut their kWh use. The utility then raises its rates even higher – causing a further spiral as customers cut their use even more… In the final stages of that death spiral, the more affluent customers drastically cut purchases by implementing efficiency and on-site [solar PV] power, but the poorest customers have been unable to finance such measures…"

This is already starting to happen.
My latest bill is now charged at $0.28 /kWh - double what it was just 5 years ago.

Quality 3-5 kWh PV systems can be installed for well under $2 /W.
Battery storage is still a little pricy, but its coming down to the point where it will soon make sense (particularly in sunny Australia) to install small systems to manage the evening peak.

That $0.28/kWh would be equivalent to paying around $3.36/gal in an EV. While I was playing with the numbers today it created a ballpark constant so you can take the kWh in $ and multiply by 12 to come up with the equivalent. So for your example $0.28*12 = $3.36. This works for equivalent class vehicles. Leaf vs. Versa, VIA Pickup vs. it's GM base.

Seems to have a semi-predictive quality as well - saying that a car that could achieve 60 mpg should get around 200 Wh/mi, and 120mpg should be around 100 Wh/mi...though towards that top end I think it's non-linear because of the effects of the driveline vs aerodynamic effects. But this would suggest that the VW XL1 really might be capable of getting the 120 Wh/mi I've estimated before.

If that figure of 120 Wh/mi is correct...if you had a 1 kW array that would give you 35-40 miles per day of driving in an XL1. It would be about 15-17 miles in a Leaf/Volt.

We get 4.2 miles per KWH in both Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. That's about 50% better than the figures you are using. 1 KW of solar at 5.5 hours/day insolation would give 5.5 KWH or 23 miles of driving per day.

At 28 cents per KWH, that is just 7 cents per mile, equivalent to a 50 mpg gasoline car; most people get much less than that.

How Norway's giant sub-marine gas platform will work Video

A structure the size of a football pitch has been sent plunging to the bottom of the ocean, 125 miles off the coast of Norway.

It will house a giant compressor claimed to be the world’s biggest offshore machine.

The Statoil equipment has been designed to pump some £20bn ($30bn/23bn euros) worth of gas from a depleted gas field.

Power trinity - Companies collaborate to offer best bid in the megawatt project

AS THE Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) opened bids yesterday for the much-anticipated 360-megawatt electricity-generating project, it was revealed that three major companies have joined forces seeking to become the preferred bidder.

And in a late development yesterday, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) said it will be partnering with three local entities in response to the OUR's request for proposals for the procurement of new baseload generating capacity.

"While JPS is not submitting an independent bid, we are pleased to partner with other bidders to ensure that new power generation is added to the grid. We also plan to work with our partners to continue to bring much-needed fuel diversity to Jamaica," said Kelly Tomblin, JPS president and CEO.

I view this as a somewhat positive development in that, it appears the grid operator is not making an investment in the plant. This means that if/when renewables start to make investments in said plant less profitable, the grid operator will have less at stake. This might make them slightly less hostile to the idea of greater participation in generation by rebewables but, does not eliminate the opposition that will then come from the moneyed interests that will be making the investment in the new plant.

Still the fact that the RFP for 115MW of generation from renewable sources had investors willing and able to install just over 770MW of solar PV should serve as a warning for anyone who is thinking of investing in FF based plant in Jamaica. I suspect that at some stage, "time of use" based pricing is going to have to be implemented to facilitate an acceptable return on the investments in these power plants that, can supply electricity on demand (once the fuel to run them can is affordable).

Alan from the islands

There was a Tesla owner a while back who, because of California's rate structure, wound up spending as much on charging the Tesala as he would have gasoline. He planned on remedying the problem with solar - which should work, but it also got me wondering what the direct break-even would be.

I made a spreadsheet with multiple columns and after looking up figures and playing with it for a while realized that the columns were starting to align...Via's trucks that I was using to ballpark the 20mpg equivalent was coming in around 600watt-hours/mi while my 40mpg equivalent Volt and Leaf are around 300Wh/mi - so the columns were the same. Individual vehicles may vary - like the Tesla, which is more efficient than it's class would suggest would have a higher break-even rate (better). But I think this table will be in the neighborhood across a spectrum of vehicles.

Gas - cents/kWhr
$1 - 8.33
$2 - 16.7
$3 - 25.0
$4 - 33.3
$5 - 41.7
$6 - 50.0
$7 - 58.3

If your cents/kWhr is below that amount then it's cheaper to run the vehicle on electricity than gasoline. This does not take into account the increased purchase price of an EV.

There is one thing that everyone seems to be forgetting. Sunshine may not always be free and available.
Look at the states where it is illegal to harvest rain water off your roof. That rain water has legally been given to the large water companies!
Do you really think that some enterprising politician(s) won't pass a law that all sunshine belongs to the State or some large electric generating corporation? So then you will have to pay the giant electric company for "their" electricity that you are harvesting from the sun with your Photo voltaic systems. Just like the rain water in certain States.
This type of insanity is only going to get worse as the population gets bigger.
I believe that only population reduction (local and global) will slow it down or stop it - depending on how much the population is reduced.

Spain has certainly set a precedent for going that bat-feces crazy over PV. Germany's pulling back but hasn't gone so far as to start taxing anyone for production of PV electricity.

Without any of those shenanigans, a $3 Watt of PV should produce about 32,850 Watt-hours over a 20 year span ($0.09/kWh) which would give a 300 Watt-hour/mi vehicle 109.5 miles...which would look about like $1.10/gal.

I see the 'taxing sunshine' thing as being a bit far fetched at this point, at least in the US. Will they tax my garden for the sunshine it uses? Windows that provide passive solar? Can I sue them for the damage that 'their' sunshine does to my roof? Will their tax apply to a day at the beach; a "tanning tax"? What about taxing the wind?

Seems more like makework for lawyers.

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

The Beatles - Taxman

Can I sue them for the damage that 'their' sunshine does to my roof?

And that basal cell carcinoma on my nose... Look what YOUR sunshine did to my nose!

In the 18th century windows were taxed in England. You still see period houses with the windows blocked up.

The Dan Brown novel, "Inferno" uses population explosion as a theme in the book....surprise ending. :)

Big animal extinction 'severed nutrient arteries'

The demise of big animals in the Amazon region 12,000 years ago cut a key way that nutrients were distributed across the landscape, a study has suggested.

Researchers say animals such as huge armadillo-like creatures would have distributed vital nutrients for plants via their dung and bodies.

The effects, still visible today, raise questions about the impact of losing large modern species like elephants.