DrumBeat: May 28, 2007

Troubles Run Deep on Gulf Oil Platform

The workers were surprised to learn that the platform, evacuated before Dennis hit, had not taken on water from a leak through its hull. Rather, an incorrectly plumbed, 6-inch length of pipe had allowed water to flow freely among several ballast tanks. That began a chain of events that caused the platform to tip into the drink.

Now BP is attempting to do what no oil company has done before: essentially rebuild the entire architecture of an oil field on the sea floor some 6,000 feet beneath the waves.

At $250 million, the job is costlier, and riskier, than putting the equipment on the gulf floor in the first place. On the frontier of oil exploration, the margin between riches and disaster can be as small as a 6-inch piece of pipe. Yet for BP, rebuilding the platform is critically important because the company desperately needs the oil flowing as reserves in formerly rich fields such as Prudhoe Bay in Alaska dwindle.

Indonesia considers revoking exploration licenses

Indonesia is considering revoking licenses of oil companies that fail to start developing oil and gas fields within 10 years, a senior government official said on Monday.

Indonesia, OPEC's second-smallest producer, has been offering new exploration rights and financial incentives for oilfields in a bid to stem a steady decline in production as the country has failed to tap new oilfields fast enough to meet domestic demand.

"We will see the contracts. If the companies do not meet their commitments on exploration after the 10-year period, we will revoke their licenses," the oil and gas director general, Luluk Sumiarso, told Reuters by phone.

Ankara to deliver strong ‘energy artery' message to Europe

The name of a conference to be jointly held by the EU's executive arm and Turkey, a candidate for full EU membership, next week in İstanbul succinctly explains its goal: "Turkey and the EU: Together for a European Energy Policy."

EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Güler will participate in the conference, which will assemble key political and economic actors to discuss the challenges and opportunities concerning future energy issues faced by both the EU and Turkey.“The main goal behind arranging such a conference is to send a strong message to the international community, in particular to Europe, concerning the important role that has been and will be played by Turkey in the energy field because not all segments of the European public are aware of [this vital role]. Thus, we believe that highlighting it will also be helpful for our relationship with the EU,” a senior diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman.

Saudi Arabia sees no need for raising crude oil production

The surge in oil prices is being driven by political factors and there is no need for additional crude supplies, Saudi Arabia's assistant oil minister said on Monday.

'What brings prices up is politics, what brings them down is politics,' Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz told Agence France-Presse, referring to tensions in major crude producers Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Venezuela.

'We have a well-supplied market,' he said on the sidelines of a European-Gulf forum today.

'We have always said, and OPEC has always committed itself to keep the market well-supplied and balanced. Never has this market been (more) balanced with crude than today,' said Prince Abdul Aziz, who is assistant oil minister for petroleum affairs.

He said that while there was no need for additional crude supplies, there is a problem with refining capacity. He was referring to what Saudi officials say is a need to invest in expanding refining capacity in consumer countries.

Bill Urges Farmers to Grow Energy Crops

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate this week would entice farmers located near ethanol biorefineries to grow dedicated energy crops.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said his bill would offer incentives to farmers who plant switchgrass, fast-growing trees and other cellulosic feedstocks and deliver them to the nation's next generation of ethanol plants. Cellulose is the woody material in branches and stems that makes plants hard.

"For cellulosic to achieve its potential, Congress needs to help this industry overcome some of the initial market barriers," Thune said Wednesday during a conference call. "And if we are serious in the country about reducing our dependence upon foreign oil, we have to be serious about giving the necessary jump start to America's budding alternative fuels industry and the farmers who supply it."

Playing Politics at the Pump

When I say punishing the oil companies, I mean that the Stupak bill allows compulsory lowering of fuel prices. That will mean service stations running out of gas, long lines at the pump, and people unable to get to work or school or the hospital.

Who will really be punished when the bill is enacted? Not the top dogs at the energy companies -- they'll continue to be well paid. No, the drivers and homeowners of America who can't get gasoline and heating oil will be the ones to suffer. And ordinary investors who own stock in oil companies are also going to be punished. But everyone will suffer from indulging the fantasy that waving a government magic wand can solve real problems.

Pump Prices Hit Home More in Kentucky

As gasoline prices flirt with all-time highs ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the drivers hit hardest aren't the ones paying the highest prices.
In an index released this week, Oil Price Information Service, a source for petroleum pricing, broke down who's paying the most taking into account local gasoline prices and local monthly income.

The biggest losers are drivers living in Clay County, Ky., who shell out 14.78 percent of their monthly income to buy gasoline costing $3.156 a gallon. While the price there is far lower than the retail average in San Juan County, Wash., which is the highest in the country at $3.926 a gallon, Clay County's average monthly income of $1,423.67 is the lowest nationwide, making any increase in gasoline prices much more painful.

A Gas Crisis 30 Years in the Making

Embrace the memory of the average $3.21 cents we'll pay for each gallon of regular unleaded gasoline purchased this Memorial Holiday weekend. The chances are we'll pay a lot more next year and the year after that.

Abandon your conspiracy theories, your worries that global oil companies are gouging us at the pump. For the record, they are. It's the kind of profiteering that accompanies any crisis -- war and rumors of war, hurricanes, or other actual or imminent disasters.

What the oil companies are doing isn't moral. Nor is it illegal. But it is business.

Crises usually are profitable for people positioned to exploit them; and they usually are costly for those who aren't.

When it comes to oil and the motor fuels it provides, we're in a crisis. We've been in a crisis for nearly 30 years now.

Australia: Huge power price rises loom

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said failure to adopt carbon trading straight away would lead to higher electricity prices in the long run.

"This research highlights that it would be reckless to delay action, or only take half measures," Mr Connor said.

The warning came after national electricity market regulator Nemmco said on Friday that southeast Queenslanders faced blackouts if the drought continued.

State and territory leaders yesterday urged Mr Howard to launch an emissions trading scheme by 2010, and set an environmentally credible target to cut greenhouse gases.

Deals signed on pipeline that seeks to divert Malacca Strait oil

Half of the world's oil shipments currently pass through the 960-kilometre (595-mile) Strait of Malacca, the busiest seaway in the world, which links the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The Strait was notorious for pirate attacks but security officials, who fear the economic and strategic ramifications of any disruption to the vital maritime traffic, say security has vastly improved.

"Everyone can use the pipeline. It is to direct traffic away from the international waterway of the Straits of Malacca," Rahim Kamil Sulaiman, chairman of Trans-Peninsula Petroleum, told a news conference.

In its statement, Trans-Peninsula said the pipeline, about 300 kilometres in length, will cut across Malaysia's northern states of Kedah, Perak and Kelantan. It will have support facilities for deep-draught tankers at either end.

Rahim said the oil will come mainly from the Middle East but also from Africa for "the East Asian oil market".

He said "we have made known our projects to both China and Japan, especially China".

Huge gas reserves found in southwest China

China has discovered huge gas reserves in the southwestern province of Sichuan, hoping that the find will help ease growing concerns about energy security, state media reported Monday.

A total of 3.8 trillion cubic metres (133 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas deposits have been found in the western part of the Sichuan Basin, the China Daily said, citing officials in Dazhou city, near the reserve.

The discovery is equivalent to about 60 years of China's total production at current output levels.

Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AEC) have found evidence that certain fungi possess another talent beyond their ability to decompose matter: the capacity to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.

Detailing the research in Public Library of Science ONE, AEC's Arturo Casadevall said his interest was piqued five years ago when he read about how a robot sent into the still-highly-radioactive Chernobyl reactor had returned with samples of black, melanin-rich fungi that were growing on the ruined reactor's walls. "I found that very interesting and began discussing with colleagues whether these fungi might be using the radiation emissions as an energy source," explained Casadevall.

Casadevall and his co-researchers then set about performing a variety of tests using several different fungi. Two types - one that was induced to make melanin (Crytococcus neoformans) and another that naturally contains it (Wangiella dermatitidis) - were exposed to levels of ionizing radiation approximately 500 times higher than background levels. Both of these melanin-containing species grew significantly faster than when exposed to standard background radiation.

"Just as the pigment chlorophyll converts sunlight into chemical energy that allows green plants to live and grow, our research suggests that melanin can use a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum - ionizing radiation - to benefit the fungi containing it," said co-researcher Ekaterina Dadachova.

Nobody wants to pay the price of going green

Everything is relative. As Torontonians complain and raise their collective fist over high gasoline prices at the pumps, keep in mind that our fellow Canadians out in Vancouver are paying up to 20 per cent more.

Guess what? British Columbia has a healthier and more robust economy than Ontario. "Outstanding job creation," were the words used by the Conference Board of Canada. Vancouver actually promotes the use of hybrid taxis in their city and allows low-speed electric vehicles on some roads.

Vancouver is also arguably the centre of clean-technology innovation in Canada ­ for the moment, at least.

Canadian Pacific seeks approvals to better service Alberta's oil sands development

Canadian Pacific announced today it has sought regulatory approval to construct rail lines to serve planned and existing bitumen upgraders northeast of Edmonton in Alberta's developing Industrial Heartland.

"Acquisition of the necessary land to assemble the rail right of way was a strategically important initiative for CP," said CP President and CEO Fred Green. "It strengthens CP's commitment to the growth objectives of the oil sands industry, contributes to lasting economic benefits for the Province of Alberta, and provides significant scope for CP shareholder value creation."

US not ready for regional carbon scheme

"We're struggling with what the appropriate macro policy response is," the Deputy Secretary for Energy, Clay Sell, said when asked whether the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group could become the basis of a regional scheme that would put a price on greenhouse gas pollution.

Mr Clay noted that while some American states had carbon trading schemes, they were not uniform and the Federal Government had not come up with a national system.

As energy ministers from Asia and the Pacific meet in Darwin this week, the Prime Minister, John Howard, is preparing to bring down a watershed report on whether Australia should set up its own carbon emissions trading scheme, a decade after it was first proposed by the Government.

U.S. Rebuffs Germany on Greenhouse Gas Cuts

The United States has rejected Germany’s proposal for deep long-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, setting the stage for a battle that will pit President Bush against his European allies at next month’s meeting of the world’s richest countries.

In unusually harsh language, Bush administration negotiators took issue with the German draft of the communiqué for the meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, complaining that the proposal “crosses multiple red lines in terms of what we simply cannot agree to.”

BP loses appeal against Russian oil field seizure

It is widely believed that the Russian government is using the threat of withdrawal over environmental grounds to force TNK-BP and its privately-owned partner Alfa - owned by a group of Russian billionaires - to give up a proportion of their stake in the oil field operator Rusia Petroleum.

It followed a similar strategy with Shell, forcing it to give up a majority stake in the giant Sakhalin-2 oil and gas field project

TNK-BP has a 62 per cent stake and according to the Russian press, state-controlled group Gazprom wants to obtain a near-75 per cent stake.

Iran offers Gulf states nuclear help

Iran can help its Gulf neighbours develop peaceful nuclear energy, the country's foreign minister said today, in comments which might irritate major powers fearing Tehran's own atomic work is aimed at building bombs.

Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country has rejected Western demands to halt sensitive nuclear activities, was speaking a week after Gulf Arab states meeting in Riyadh began working on a feasibility study for a civilian nuclear programme.

CIS Electric Power Council to discuss forming energy market

Chiefs of energy companies and of controlling bodies of countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic countries will discuss on Tuesday question of forming the common energy market and unification of power systems of countries of the CIS and Baltic countries with the European Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity (UCTE). The 31st meeting of the CIS Electric Power Council will be held in Yerevan on May 29 under the presidency of Anatoly Chubais, the head of RAO UES of Russia, (Unified Energy Systems of Russia).

2nd Irving refinery a done deal, residents say

"When you're within a stone's throw of the refinery, and a refinery that big — it's half a city down there — you're definitely going to get some pollution from the refinery, regardless of what they do," he said.

At the same time, Murphy said he equates this new refinery with better-paying jobs for the area. The proposed facility would be the first refinery built in North America in 25 years.

Green leader slams feds over scope of refinery's assessment

The leader of the federal Green party says she's outraged at Ottawa's decision to limit its role in assessing the environmental impact of a proposed Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

Last week, the Conservative government announced it would only look at the possible impact on coastal areas, leaving the rest of the review process up to the New Brunswick government.

Elizabeth May says that will leave too many questions unanswered.

Spain's New Renewable Energy Rules

Spanish ministers approved a new set of rules for renewable energy on Friday, curbing profits for wind generators and setting incentives for other types of renewable energy to boost their development.

Palm oil puts squeeze on endangered orangutan

Bound hand and foot, dishevelled orangutans caught raiding Borneo's oil palm crops silently await their fate as a small crowd of plantation workers gather to watch.

Lacking only hand-cuffs and finger-printing to complete the atmosphere of a criminal bust, such "ape evictions" have become part of life for Asia's endangered red apes.

Thousands have strayed into the path of international commerce as Indonesia and Malaysia, their last remaining habitats, race to convert their forests to profitable palm crops.

China's social security fund turns cautious on domestic stocks investment

China's huge Social Securities Fund is becoming cautious about investing in the A-share market amid growing worries that share prices could plunge, state media said monday, citing the fund chief.

Local stock markets probably have "too many bubbles" and the fund's strategy of investing in A-shares is turning conservative, the China Securities Journal said, citing Xiang Huaicheng, chairman of the council in charge of the fund.

Xiang, a former finance minister, was not quoted as giving any details about the fund's immediate plans or whether it intended to start selling stocks.

China's stock market has trebled in value since 2005, giving rise to a growing chorus of warnings that a bubble is developing and that it must implode sooner or later.

National currency essential

Bank of Canada governor David Dodge made headlines last week when he told an audience in Chicago that a single North American currency was "possible."

Of course, anything is possible. It is even possible that the United States will one day tear down the wall it is building on its southern border to keep Mexicans out of the country.

Common Currency, The Current (CBC Radio), Part 2

When Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon and its hit 'Money' in June of 1973, one Canadian dollar would buy you, almost to the decimal point, one US dollar. There was no loonie back then , it was a green dollar bill and the two greenbacks were on par.

Today the loonie is trading at around 92 and a half cents U.S. And according to some economists, the dollar could reach 96 cents next month. And if commodity prices remain high, the two currencies could, once again, equalize.

So, as the gap between the two dollars continues to close, a long-dormant debate over unifying the two currencies has re-emerged.

It has been dubbed by some supporters as the 'Amero,’ and last week Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge said a single unified North American currency - - similar to Europe's Euro was "possible."

Rolling in on two wheels

Some of the world's biggest gas peddlers are encouraging their workers to pump the pedal.

Exxon Mobil, BP and ConocoPhillips are among the Houston-area employers trying to make it easier for employees to bike to work.

Workers already have enough excuses: potholes, impatient drivers and the Houston heat.

But some businesses are easing the commute for those who decide the exercise and reduced emissions make biking worthwhile. They're giving them locker rooms, shower areas and safe places to park their bikes.

In quickly perusing that testimony I noticed a lack of analysis on the future producibility of coal in the US. I have no doubt that from a resource security view coal is desirable. Nevertheless the growth of the coal industry in the US to a level to replace imported oil is worthy of closer scrutiny.

Here's some closer scrutiny:

According to Robert Rapier and others the F-T process is about 50% efficient, meaning that half of the coal used is consumed in the process. Today about 40% of the energy consumed in the US is petroleum based, 23% is coal based (EIA 2005). So to replace the petroleum we are consuming by liquified coal we would have to increase our coal consumption to about 4.5 times what we are using today. That increase would include a proportional increase in greenhouse gas emissions, bulk transport needs, etc. Even assuming only the replacement of our imported petroleum the increase in coal usage would be a 350% increase.

Coal to liquids is a good way to speedup the end of fossil fuel consumption.

Coal-to-liquid, and biofuels, along with PHEVs and possibly (I still hold out hope) flywheel cars. What we will see in the US, if oil stays at $60 a barrel or above, is a radical reduction in fossil crude oil demand in the next 10 to 15 years. Sheesh, we likely will see typical commuters get 200 mpg, as their daily commute will be bettery powered. What will this do to crude demand, especially when replicated worldwide? PHEVs hitting showrooms in three years. Big problem: US fleet of 220 million cars/trucks cannot be retrofitted. One might want to enter scrap metal business now (steel prices high too).
China? Planting millions of hectares of jatropha, and just struck gas, like enough for 60 years.
The great boom in crude demand from India and China? What if they mandate PHEVs as national policy, before they build up huge fleets? Makes sense at $60 a barrel.
We may see Peak Demand a good generation before we see Peak Oil, if OPEC, the hedge funds and doomsday hysterics can keep the price of at $60 or above. (Even RR says we may not see PO for 10 years) Most likely the price will crack sometime before that, like it has so many times before.

What a load of bollox

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man


It's Hothgor. What else do you expect?

I called him as Hothgor on his first post.

The obsession continues.

No kidding, He's still obsessed with us.

Who's Hothgar? Sounds like one of the Vandals at the sack of Rome.

Antoinetta III

A III, Where have you been for one year and 32 weeks?

China's Gas find was only mentioned with the words "At present day usage levels" that it'd last 60 years. HYPE. Given their rise year on year averages they will use that stuff faster than you can shake a stick at.

As far as 220 million cars being replaced anytime soon by an all PHEV or other niffty energy saving device, take a long hard look at those last 6 Zeros. That is MILLION not not something smaller. At around a guess of 250,000 new energy sipping cars being built at this time, the whole fleet is not going to get dented soon. If every Car company made energy sippers then you might get 2 million to 4 million new replacements a year, but that is still a big IF.

The only reason OIL will fall is if the demand goes away. And that is not something I see going away any time soon.

T. Boone Pickens launched a chain of natural gas stations for natural gas cars.


Pickens is expecting that oil and gasoline demand will rise, their prices will rise, which will spur further interest in alternative fuels, and then this investment will turn a profit.

As the article points out, the market is currently more interested in ethanol.

They're both interesting investment opportunities, but neither a solution for how to continue business-as-usual.

possibly (I still hold out hope) flywheel cars.

Like the 'lets build big reactors' crowd, your desire ignores the failure modes.

this is new to me have they re-invented the flyWHEEL ?

this is new to me have they re-invented the flyWHEEL

That is what Benji needs to answer. I've put out the question, lets see if he's got something to say to back up his wish.

Flywheels, in theory, are absolutely wonderful. Back 25 years ago, during another "energy crisis" that was to plunge us into eternal darkness, flywheel research was ramped up, though the dollar numbers were still small (colleges making test buses etc). New composite materials, use of vacuums and magnetic bearings made flywheels seems so tantalizingly close. If you can get a flywheel to work, it stores more energy than a battery of equal weight, and can be charged quickly.
Evidently, the technical or commercialization problems beat the engineers back then. I have long rued that fact that we did not then 27 years ago, and have not, launched a Manhattan Project for flywheels, with a few billion behind it. Several teams got darn close to something good. All teams felt there was real promise.
I see nothing wrong with cars that tap into an electric grid, which itself is being increasingly fed by solar, wind, nukes and other renewables. Who doesn't want cleaner cars which run more cheaply, while reducing a crippling dependence on foreign oil (mostly owned by despots)? If this is the Peak Oiler's view of a bad thing, I want this bad thing. (By the way, is there anything on which the Peak Oil crowd is positive, or likes? Is every positive effort appears regarded with fear and loathing, apologies to Hunter.
By the way, you guys should check out CERA's website from time to time, to balance your viewpoints. I am not saying CERA is right and the PO crowd is wrong. But I advise everyone to read up broadly.
I agree that, unfortunately, the huge fleet of US autos and trucks stands in the way of radical reductions in fossil oil demand quickly. But, at $60 a barrel, we will see radical reductions in the five to 15 year period. Given that such similar radical reductions will be going on all over the world, I think it is very fair to ponder whether we have hit Peak Demand long before we hit Peak Oil, if this price regime can hold. The more I read broadly, the more I suspect oil is going to crack. Too bad, a lot of alternatives are going to be stuffed back into the back closets again.

There might be something useful at the CERA site, but considering the pandering corporatized drivel that their ongoing string of predictions seems to represent, I can't be bothered. I did peek in about 6 months ago for some reason, but found little that kept me there.

To put my refusal in context.. If I wanted to broaden my perspective on spiritual matters (as I often do), I don't feel as if I'd need to read up on Pat Roberson or the Branch Davidians 'To get the whole picture' There are better voices out there to challenge your assumptions against. Vested Interests aren't usually that interesting.

Flywheels, in theory, are absolutely wonderful. Back 25 years ago, during another "energy crisis" that was to plunge us into eternal darkness, flywheel research was ramped up, though the dollar numbers were still small (colleges making test buses etc). New composite materials, use of vacuums and magnetic bearings made flywheels seems so tantalizingly close.

And this addresses the failure modes exactly how?

If you can get a flywheel to work, it stores more energy than a battery of equal weight, and can be charged quickly.

Not a failure mode - but exactly where is the electrical grid going to come from to do this 'fast recharge'?

And this address the failure mode how?

The original question was addressing the failure modes. You have not done this.

If you don't know an answer, say so. Right now, you are avoiding the issue of failure modes.

People continue to try to equate re-filling their gas tanks with storing energy, when in fact the two things are not similar. When you refill your tank with gasoline, you are not recharging anything or storing energy in anything, you are simply moving material - the energy is already stored in it. When you look at trying to actually store an equivalent amount of energy in a similar amount of time, especially from an electrical source, you soon realize the problems. It does not matter WHAT you try to store the energy in, it takes a hell of a lot of power to store energy of such quantity that fast.

It's hard enough trying to just transmit the amount of energy needed to move several thousand pounds a couple of hundred miles at speed without issues (i.e. what is done with a conventional engine and drivetrain), let alone coming up with a media that can repeatably charge and discharge that energy.

The operating words in this fantasy about flywheels are "in theory".

As Mr. Cole can't be bothered to respond - I want to make sure that the archives have info as to why his dreams are a bad idea.

Energy in a flywheel are a function of mass and speed. More mass, more speed more energy storage.

1) Flywheels will act like gyroscopes - so in a moving application they will resist turning.

Not a deal killer, but a problem.

2) Cars get in accidents. If the flywheel is damaged it can come apart (and the energy that was in the motion will still exist and now be in the shards of material) or come loose from its bearings (thus a large spinning mass will be free to hit other things)

This is the deal killer.

Feel free to offer why these are not concerns BenjaminCole

In a bit more detail:

According to this report:
the latest CTL demonstration project will yield just over 1bbl of diesel per ton of coal (and it also could produce 1 bbl of naptha for other products.)

The weekly US distillate demand for this time of year is around 29 million barrels.... so at just under one ton per barrel that would consume around 27 million tons of coal, per the Illinois study figures.

Weekly US coal production is a bit over 22 million tons:

Therefore, to replace all of the US weekly distillate production with CTL would require more than doubling US coal production (according to the design of the Illinois plant.) And we haven't even gotten to gasoline yet...

Perhaps Alan could chime in here about US rail capacity for coal, but it seems to me to be a big challenge to just double coal production just for distillate.

There have been all sorts of rumors of big money players doing deep investments into coal and rail - it would make sense to me. The CTL drumbeat is getting louder and louder. I notice there is a big coal industry powwow coming up:
which will probably discuss some interesting topics. Unfortunately the entrance price is rather steep so I suspect the TOD folk in NYC will be unlikely to attend.

Of course the sensible thing would be to do CTL at the mine. No reason to drag all that tonnage across the Great Plains. Then ship the liquid products by pipeline.

AFAIK, BN-SF and Union Pacific share a 3 track rail line out from the Powder River Basin and they are adding a 4th line. I think 6 tracks can be built on a 100' ROW but more than 4 are rare.

The current 3 track line is near capacity. They are trying to run longer trains to destinations where this strategy works (some routes & customers cannot accept longer trains).


Warren Buffett is buying shares in both railroads, plus Norfolk-Southern.

Other routes exist from the Montana & Wyoming coal beds (some outside Powder River) and they still have surplus capacity.

A small railroad is trying to build new sections of rail going from Montana to Minnesota. Problematic. The Mayo Clinic is a major railroad block.

Hope this helps,


Alan, what would the Mayo Clinic have to do with railriads?

Antoinetta III

The proposed route goes through Rochester MN, home of the Mayo Clinic, a bit over a mile away (per memory).

The Mayo Clinic objects to frequent coal trains (vs, infrequent mixed freight ones now) because they will 1) disturb patients and 2) block access of staff to work with at grade crossings.


Coal to liquids is a good way to speedup the end of fossil fuel consumption.

Really? And why does nobody mention that we need to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere?

A recent model from Jim Hansen's group says that just burning the rest of the world’s recoverable oil and gas would raise the CO2 concentration almost to the point where the earth will have warmed dangerously, leaving almost no room for emissions from other fuels such as coal and unconventional hydrocarbons. The only scenarios in which atmospheric CO2 could be stabilized around 450 ppm had zero emissions from coal after 2050. Zero, as in full carbon sequestration. We're not going to get that from mobile sources based on CTL.

I wish someone would provide details of these magical models which somehow predict the future. What assumptions do they use, and what do they leave out? How far back can they run the model before it become random - 2 years, 20 years or 200? (Unless they can do 200 back I wouldn't trust it to predict 43 years forwards, let alone 93.)

How can a model be much more than pure guesswork when we have no agreement when Peak Oil, Gas, and Coal will be.

Since Global Warming has been going on since the little Ice Age, and massive CO2 emissions since only since 1950, there must be some other factors at play and which MUST used in the model.

The truth is that no one can really predict the future. Yet I am as certain as I reasonably can be that energy prices will be trending upwards in the future. This certainty is based upon the fact that the cheap and easy stuff is gone, what is left will be increasingly difficult and expensive to find and extract, and will not be economical to extract except at higher prices. This is the hard truth that even the most optimistic cornucopians cannot deny unless totally deluded.

How much, and how quickly, and with what impact on the economy and society -- those are more speculative questions.

IMHO, the IPCC models to not adequately account for the above fact, and the consequent inevitable decline in global demand for energy as prices rise. Thus, I tend to discount the worst case scenarios that their models depict. However, it is true that you cannot dig up and burn geologically sequestered carbon in vast quantities without its having an impact on the global climate. What we have already burned has had an impact, and due to lag times there is more impact to come just from that. Even if the rate of fossil fuel use declines in the future due to price increases, that is still even more carbon released into the atmosphere, and even more climate change resulting.

All this might very well be happening on top of an underlying natural phenomenon. But the scientific evidence is good that there is indeed an anthropogenic basis for climate change above and beyond any possible natural phenomenon.

IMHO, the IPCC models to not adequately account for the above fact, and the consequent inevitable decline in global demand for energy as prices rise.

That's what Hansen and company are saying as well. You can read the linked article for more info.

How far back can they run the model before it become random - 2 years, 20 years or 200? (Unless they can do 200 back I wouldn't trust it to predict 43 years forwards, let alone 93.)

Go to http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ and sign up for the Climate Prediction project to use your unused computation cycles in donated work.

My current model (they have graphics on demand :-) is on Feb 19, 1936 ATM. It takes several months to complete one model.

Best Hopes for Positive Action instead of just bitching,


I have only recently started a detailed study of Global Warming and its causes. I have so far found a lot of noise and very little clear information. I inherently distrust models as it is almost impossible to avoid bias in what to bring in and what to leave out, and as they must leave out vast areas as they are not known, or they can not be modeled.

As I have, I trust, enough scientific knowledge to understand a model (I have a M.Sc) I would like to know the parameters used (and unused) in a model before I take it's predictions too seriously. As the only way of testing a model, that I know, is to run it backwards, I will be happy to donate cycles.

Note: I have a new computer with a dual processor and it should have quite a few spare.

I have only briefly perused the parameters of the model that I am running but there is more on the website and associated discussion boards (which I have not read).


My understanding is that are running slightly different mixes of equations and the interrelations between factors looking for a best fit.

A dual processor computer can run two models efficiently AFAIK.

Welcome Aboard :-)


How far back can they run the model before it become random - 2 years, 20 years or 200?

This model shows a good simulation of data for the period 1800 to 2005. You should read the linked article, which is available free and without registration.

"Coal to liquids is a good way to speedup the end of fossil fuel consumption."

It will also speed the end of some of the most biological diverse ecosystem in the world, second in plant, animal, and microbial diversity behind the Amazon rain forests, some of the most beautiful and diverse wilderness in North America, by blasting it to bits with dynamite in "Mountain top removal" mining practices. Estimates are that by the end of the coming decade, only 3 years away, an area the size of Deleware will be blasted out of existance In the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and other souther states. And as the demand for coal speeds up much, much more virgin wilderness will likewise be destroyed, millions of years of biological development shattered in a matter of a decade or two. It makes the destruction of the approximate 18 square miles of Tar sand in a similiar period of time look like small beans.

Ask Southerner Al Gore, the environmental Grand Poobah and Big Kahoona why he does not mention in his speeches an ecological catastrophe that he could drive from Tennessee to visit in only a couple of hours.

yeah, I thought so........
(oh, I could say ask the "it can't be done here" crowd why they laugh in the face of and refuse to support the speedy development of really high quality high output PV systems, and instead smear them so as to help the oil and gas companies create doubt about them, while thousands of varieties of American plants, trees, animals, birds, insects, mammals and microbial life are being blasted to dust with dynamite, and they don't even menition that....
yeah, I thought so.....

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Open pit coal mining is indeed nasty to the environment. I suppose that deep shaft mining is lower impact, but of course it is a terrible and dangerous job. What we really need is to speed up robotics R&D so that we can send robots into the deep shafts to do the dirty and dangerous work.

Of course, however you do it, shaft mining recovers a lower percentage of the total coal available, because you must leave a lot in place to support the overburden. Considering that we really should want to spread our extraction of this resource out and not burn it up as rapidly as possible, I see this as a good thing.

Coal to liquids is a good way to speedup the end of fossil fuel consumption.

Reeading all the replies to this statement gives me the impression that I'm the only one who bothered to read the entire post.

If you read what he wrote before this:

So to replace the petroleum we are consuming by liquified coal we would have to increase our coal consumption to about 4.5 times what we are using today.

Clearly he is stating that coal to liquids will speed up the end of fossil fuels by using them up much fastser.

Our household celebrates three birthdays in addition to the usual holiday weekend frivolities. A relative brought a movie over for us to watch instead of being subjected to another Climate change/ PO/ economic meltdown theme documentary.

The movie was titled “The Man Who Sued GOD”. I think it was meant as a joke for my benefit.

The guy is actually suing the insurance industry for evoking the “it was an Act of God” therefore we are not obliged to pay the claim” argument.

It is an Australian film and wasn’t half bad, intelligently funny really but I couldn’t help thinking about AlanFromTheBigeasy and all the Rita/Katrina victims.

Also I purchased a Melodica for my son, a hand held three octave keyboard that you blow into (no electricity required) which became the hit of the neighborhood and prompted a huge jam feast with guitars, djambos, an accordion, even a cello, as well as some very good singing.

Best hopes for eeking out some hoots & giggles whenever possible.

Our household celebrates three birthdays

Popular day for 'em. John Fogerty, the death of Charles Nelson Reilly, and this gem

Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.

A GI's life is priceless. So is an Iraqi's. For everything else, there's MasterCard or VISA. Right. I just put up a Memorial Day - Soldiers of Empire Are Suckers or Torturers rant at my site for those into politically incorrect.

There are too many soldiers. Therefore the surplus soldiers must be used up.

cfm in Gray, ME

Two articles that support the ELP concept:

Economize--assume that your income drops by 50%;

Localize--assume that gasoline goes to $8 or more per gallon; try to reduce the distance between home and work to as close to zero as possible and move into smaller, more energy efficient housing, preferably along a mass transit line (and integrate yourself into local communities);

Produce--try to become, or work for, a provider of essential goods and services.


Small is Beautiful
Living in less space can be good for the Planet as well as for your bank account
Wendy Priesnitz, Natural Life Magazine

In most of the world, micro-homes are the norm because land is expensive and scarce and extended families are used to sharing their lives, living spaces and other resources.

Even new homes in places like Tokyo are built on lots the size of many Western front yards. And now, there is a rising interest in compact dwellings here in the land of wide open spaces, where building big has been possible, so we have done it...and become used to it, even addicted to it. Like so many other lifestyle addictions, this one has caused us to hit a wall and many people are looking for antidotes in the smaller living spaces with tiny footprints that are popping up amongst the “McMansions.”

Big houses cost big money and many people of my generation are choosing to downshift, taking early retirement, switching careers in mid-life and generally acting on a desire for simpler, more effective living.

As a result, many of us are “right-sizing” our living spaces, redirecting our financial resources away from big mortgages and toward our dreams. At the same time, many young people are having a harder time than their parents did getting established in careers, and are therefore finding that small houses and minuscule condos fit their economic conditions just fine. ..
(May/June 2007)

Green Jobs, Good Jobs On The Way?
Van Jones, Tom Paine

..On May 22, the Select Committee held a special hearing, entitled: "Economic Impacts of Global Warming: Green Collar Jobs." ..

A green collar job is a vocational job in an ecologically responsible trade, such as installing solar panels, weatherizing buildings, constructing and maintaining wind farms, materials re-use and recycling and doing organic agriculture.

During a speech on the House floor before the hearing, Solis spoke of the need to respond to the global warming crisis by investing not only in new infrastructure, but also in people.

The shift from dirty energy sources (like oil and coal) to cleaner energy sources (like solar, wind, and plant-based fuel) will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The work of retrofitting millions of buildings so that they conserve energy will produce still more jobs. And all of these jobs will be, by definition, impossible to outsource to other countries. ..
(25 May 2007)

The vast majority of people, when contemplating $7-8 a gallon gas prices, do some calculating and conclude that they could afford it, providing all else remains equal. And that is not smart, because all else will in all likelihood change too.

While the article below merely describes potential developments all the way down under, it would be good to take note. The Economize part of Westexas' ELP model suggests that everyone be prepared to live on half their present available income. That may seem extreme, but don't fool yourself; it may well be overly optimistic.

The unfolding housing market implosion may seem far away, as long as you don't have an exotic mortgage. What will affect everyone, though, is the drop in value. Losing all that equity won't make banks any friendlier towards their customers. And it will hammer into the stock markets too. And the job market. And how about double-digit inflation rates?

For a proper ELP preparation, we need to consider the possibility that everything we own will lose 50% of its value, while at the same time everything we need to buy will double in price. And that means you are left with not 50%, but just 25% of what you can spend now. Provided you can hold on to your present job and salary. What are the chances that you can?

Huge power price rises loom

HOUSEHOLDS face electricity price rises of up to 75 per cent as drought and global warming tighten their grip.

Modelling to be released today shows domestic electricity bills will rise regardless of whether a carbon tax is slapped on power companies to force them to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Institute report said if carbon trading were established immediately, price hikes could be contained to 20 per cent in the next 13 years.

But if the Federal Government adopted a wait-and-see approach to carbon trading, home power bills would increase by 75 per cent.
The report comes only days before the Federal Government's long-awaited report on possible international emissions trading, which is expected to guide the Coalition's policy ahead of the federal election

i would of thought that it would be extremely unlikely for both a large amount of inflation, and a sustained drop in house prices to occur.
The value of a house in stuff you could buy if you can sell it most definatally can (and i think will) fall, but if the official inflation rate is strongly under-reported, then it is possible that the interest rate will not rise quite as much, so as long as you don't actually go bankrupt, then it could still be possible to sell the house at a later time and make a proffit (in terms of 'buying power', not just non-inflation adjusted $).

Ultimately a house is a physical good that is useful, and so should keep its value quite a bit better than other items. (a good portion of of currently overpriced suburbia excluded)

2(inflation adjusted)c worth.

First, we can take it as a given that energy prices will rise. As I have posted above, the cheap and easy stuff is gone, from here on out it is only the difficult and expensive to extract stuff that is left, and that will require higher prices to make it economical to extract. The higher prices for fossil fuels will work to drive up the prices of all forms of energy.

We can also take it as a given that the prices of goods such as food with high energy inputs will also increase.

In a stable money supply environment, the consequences of these price increases is that prices for other goods must decrease. If people have less to spend after paying for energy and food, then the demand for other stuff decreases. Note that labor also counts as "other stuff" in this analysis, and so wages would also decline relative to energy and food prices. Houses are also "other stuff", and thus it is quite possible for the real prices of housing to be declining at the same time that the real price of energy is increasing.

Thus, higher energy prices do not necessarilly mean higher inflation. However, because declines in the general wage level are politically painful, and because it is in the interests of TPTB to obfuscate the true extent and nature of the energy price increases, it is highly likely that there will be a general inflation of the money supply. Note well that this is a politically-driven phenomenon, not an economic one.

The Federal Reserve is in a terrible bind, however. They need to lower interest rates to let inflation roar in order to save the housing market and prevent a huge wave of foreclosures. If they don't, the US is poised to plunge into a recession right on the verge of a presidential election year. At the same time, however, the US is running huge trade deficits (partially due to increasing quantities and costs of energy imports), the value of the dollar is declining, and they really need to raise interest rates to defend the value of the dollar. They cannot both raise and lower interest rates, but if they do nothing then we'll likely see a return to 1970s-style stagflation.

Yeah, I can bicycle - in reasonable weather - to virtually everything. Price of gasoline won't matter to me, eh?

ELP needs refining. First of all, add the "H" for humanity and help. Secondly, the gasoline bit needs to be generalized. I talk about "when gasoline is $10/gallon and there is only half as much to go around", but that still doesn't address HeIsSoFly's point of "everything else being equal". It won't be close to equal. For example, how can we continue to add melamine to our food; it's probablye a plastic/petroleum product?

cfm in Gray, ME

Well, up here "up-size" seems to be the motto.
I know too many people who recently retired or are retiring and they are all up-sizing their homes and buying guzzlers.

I think that part of it is the feeling of entitlement. They've denied themselves and now they can so they should.

Outside of a few of us working on a eco/co-housing project I don't know anyone who has a clue about facing the glass on a home south to maximize winter heat gain and minimize summer heat gain.

The "green" people are moving to heat pumps - possibly ground source - with the assumption of continued cheap electricity.

I know one prof who put a 3kW array on his roof - but I'm getting feedback from various people that the government slaps you with a hefty tax increase for doing that!
A 2kW array would give us enough electricity for a family of 4 and would cost $20k to install and save $300/year in electricity. But if we did it on our home it would bump up the "market value" and taxes are about 2% of your market value so a $20k solar array would increase our taxes about $400/year.

So if my napkin calculations are correct - it would cost us $100 per year in extra taxes to install solar cells!

I always assumed that if you sold the house you would take them with you (unless the cost for better ones is dramatically lower) - The whole point seems to be amortizing upfront costs for as long as possible. Can you sign a document saying you will take them with you when you sell, and then it wouldn't be part of the House value?

Hello Fringy,

Your Question: "Can you sign a document saying you will take them with you when you sell, and then it wouldn't be part of the House value?"

Yes, but to help eliminate confusion and later lawsuits: make sure the real estate listing explicitedly states every significant item that will be removed. An competent RE agent will make sure an potential buyer understands this prior to making a sales offer. Generally: unless it is clearly excluded, most items 'physically attached to the real property in some manner' are automatically assumed to be transferred to the new owner.

Most buyers reasonably assume the seller's personal effects, furniture, and small appliances will be removed. Larger, more costly appliances such as refrigerators, W/D, stoves, etc, need to be detailed as whether staying or going with the seller.

For example, many years ago, I sold my townhouse: the RE listing and sales contract clearly stated that I would be taking a couple of wooden bookshelves physically screwed to the walls. I had made them years earlier in high school shopclass, and I wanted them for sentimental value.

If I had not listed them, the buyer would have had 'reasonable cause' to expect that these bookshelves would remain 'attached' to the property when ownership transferred.

The female buyer liked the 'bookshelf look': so after the sale I earned a few extra tax-free bucks for beer re-installing similar store-bought bookshelves for her.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Thanks for the clarification - thats a good point.

In states where there is a "personal property tax", there may be no way to avoid the problem. I dunno.

Then, there's this to consider..

"Typical California homes with PV systems can be shown to have financial returns competitive with other mainstream investments such as stocks. A typical California home with a $85/month electric bill (a little over the state average) can see 9% pre-tax rate of return, zero-money-down positive cash flow, and an increase in their resale value equal to or greater than the system cost. "


Bob Fiske

(Wheelbarrow being built for this coming weekend. Work party on the new acreage!)

ps, Two other calc's from that link above, for Payback analysis of PV systems..

"Total Lifecycle Payback:
Lifecycle payback is the comparison between the total savings over 25 years to the systems costs. Most systems will give back 2.2 to 3.5 times as much money as they cost - a 220% to 350% return on investment (over 25 years). This is an optimistic metric that overstates the value a PV system generates because the savings are spread out over a long period of time."

"Simple Payback:
The least accurate way to determine a solar systems value, because it doesn't properly value the after tax value of the savings from a solar system. It also doesn't properly take into account inflation, which doubles electric costs every 12 to 15 years."

Preparing for what's coming just isn't as simple as upgrading the house and car with new technology. The initial part of preparation is deciding whether the current location is the best possible place to be, if not then relocation is necessary. High property taxes are high on the list of things a location shouldn't have and no amount of technology will fix that particular problem. People may end up ripping their solar panels off the roof to sell, so as to pay their property taxes.

I think confusion about what to do is a problem in itself, sapping money, energy and time away from any real workable solutions. Selling up and moving to a better location has a limited shelf-life and is probably the best available strategy currently available to individuals and families. As we go further into the chaos of economic instability, climate change and energy descent, the option to choose a mitigation strategy will all but vanish for most.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

In California, by law, adding PV panels cannot increase the basis of your home for property tax reasons. Even if it did, it would not necessarily increase it by the cost of the system. People can put 80,000 into a new kitchen, it doesn't mean the tax basis goes up that much. The home value may only go up by a third of that or less.

Published on 28 May 2007 by Casaubon's Book. Archived on 28 May 2007.
Digging dollars: make-work, agriculture and empire

by Sharon Astyk

How do we do this? We start rethinking our relationship to our work. If you can, one spouse quits their job, or gets a new one doing something that is useful and important. If you haven’t got a spouse, and can, cut back on overtime, or offer to take less money in exchange for one day off per week. Or both of you drop your hours back and work less. Maybe you are just getting by where you are, but living in a less expensive place, or taking in your sister as a roommate, or caring for your parents would make it easier. Or maybe you can’t do anything at all - you can’t get along any other way, or your job is so desperately important you can‘t stop. Ok, but those of us who can, need to. Even if we've trained for a make-work career, maybe we need to switch to something that really matters, like caring for the sick and disabled, or making things we import from other nations, or fighting for justice. Each year, perhaps we can grow a little more food or buy a little less, live more within our means and make our means a little smaller. And some people can slip out of the public economy altogether and become war tax protesters. Most of us can't. But we could make less, spend less, give more to the causes we care about directly, and less to the war effort and the public economy.

The bad news is that if enough of us did this, it would crash the public economy. The reality, however is that a crash in the public economy is probably inevitable, and more importantly, sometimes you have to break some eggs. Economists are fine with this when, for example, we are trashing our manufacturing sector and throwing people out of work - then it is called creative destruction. I suspect they'll be less happy about trashing the capitalist economy so that we can get rid of the war machine. But in the end, sometimes, you do what's right. That was one of the great arguments about slavery, about the end of the British Empire - the nay sayers said “It will hurt us financially to do this.” And yes, that was true. Not stealing money from other people, not enslaving them makes the people who had been stealing and slaving less rich. But some things you do because they are right, not because they are expedient. Ceasing to fund evil, ceasing to support imperialism you do because it is right.

The good news is that worldwide, only about 1/4 of all the work we do takes place in the public economy, the world of GDPs and tax accounts. The rest of the things that the world go round, most of the work that most people in the world do, is subsistence labor, or under the table labor, barter or other things that don't get counted in the GDP. That is, most people in the world get their eating money and the things they need not from their company who is traded on a stock market ,but from Raoul down the road who repairs shoes and takes chickens, and from Mama who loaned us enough money to buy the house without interest, and from cousin Lao who trades work with you at harvest time. The peasant economy, as Teodor Shanin, the sociologist who named it observes, is robust, vital and alive, and based on networks of family and community. And we could live far more in the peasant economy than we do now. Many of us could live fairly comfortably deriving most of our income from the communal and peasant economy, with just enough participation in the larger economy to pay taxes, buy a few luxuries and visit people now and again. Getting out of the public economy does not mean living in poverty - it simply means living differently.

Westexas, nice. That's exactly what I've done, but there's one thing it doesn't mention. We must pay to live on this planet, it's just a matter of who collects the payment that changes. Currently the deer, rabbits, slugs and an unbelievable array of animals, birds, insects, etc. are taxing me :(

At least I get a chance to fight back. I doubt I'd get away with ramming a box of eco-slug pellets down the taxman's throat, or even better, the slugs themselves. That would certainly make the taxman eco-friendly, green even :)

I believe that you need to add trade and goods transport as important adjuncts to ELP, although I imagine you probably already have. I'm located about 10 miles away from motorway, rail and canal networks and will be looking at factoring them into the "P" for production part of ELP if I can.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

This sounds idyllic but I wonder where the sterile hypodermic syringes and the operating room lights will come from when we are all living in the 16th century.

I think an (optimistic) outcome is something like turn of the century (19th to 20th) America, but with computers, but the transition will be something to behold.

Doctors could have sterilized their equipment in the 1600's - if they had understood that it was a very good idea to do so - Light for the O.R.? It's called a window :)

U.S.: Broad agreement with Iran about Iraq

Historic talks
The Baghdad talks were the first of their kind and a small sign that Washington thinks rapprochement with Iran is possible after more than a quarter-century of diplomatic estrangement that began with the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The latest Kunstler piece is up at http://kunstler.com/mags_diary21.html , and somewhat indirectly, it ties into a point which I keep making about the difference between Europe and the U.S.

In Europe, 'solutions' to declining oil production include simply living in a traditional fashion - for example, taking a train to spend a week in a city in another country, enjoying different food and surroundings, is considered a 'solution' to high fuel prices during traditional travel periods.

Of course a lot of people use cars now - Europe is part of the industrial West, after all - but it is neither mandatory in the sense of no existing alternatives, nor always considered superior - taking a TGV or ICE to Paris from here looks more attractive than taking a car - with a 19 euro special ticket, certainly a lot, lot cheaper. Whether a train capable of travelling the stretch at 150 mph is traditional is another discussion, but the city center train stations fir the definition pretty well.

I could go on about food from one's region, or the longer term perspective used for planning, for example, wood as fuel is part of the basic framework of forestry in Germany. Europeans already have 'solutions' for a number of problems which Americans consider necessary to avoid at all costs - like how to get around where you live using just your feet. (Yes, I know - there are exceptions in the U.S.)

The solution is to live differently - and that is the one which seems unacceptable to almost all people involved in an American-centri discussion about declining oil production and how to respond to that fact.

I like this part about how so many of "The Awake" are also still delusional:

In my travels, I have noticed a disturbing theme among the educated minority of eco-advocates: they are every bit as dedicated to the status quo (in their own way) as the NASCAR morons and shopping mall developers...

It only made me more nervous, because this longing for "solutions," strikes me as a free-floating wish for magical rescue remedies, for techno-fixes...

As Dmitry Orlov's says about the Sleepwalkers Seaching for Solutions, "And then you realize they are serious."

"Resistance is futile" says Mother Nature.

As Dmitry Orlov's says about the Sleepwalkers Seaching for Solutions, "And then you realize they are serious."
"Resistance is futile" says Mother Nature.

All depends on your perspective doesn’t it?

Eat Right
Get Plenty of Rest
Die Anyway

What is called for are not "solutions" but "adaptations". One does not "solve" inevitable change, but one might adapt to it.

Hi Expat,

Thanks for putting up the link to Kunstler, I have been a fan of his for many years and while I think his advocacy of a more European, 'New Urbanist' way of living is an improvement on what we have, it still really only results at best in something one could call 'slow sprawl' but tends to hide the real problem of population numbers in a non solution solution.

On another level it still leaves too much of the design of cities and living spaces to architects, a species I look on as being beady eye to beady eye with lawyers.

"If this were not so, then why do the eco-advocates cream in their jeans whenever somebody presents a snazzy new vehicle that runs on a fuel other than gasoline? Indeed, why are some of the eco-friendly pouring all their efforts into the invention of such things instead of into walkable communities and the reform of our stupid land-use laws?"

--anybody else subscribe to the ATlantic Monthly and notice the several full-pg. glossy ad blitz for this stuff that comes every month? BP Beyond Oil,Hydrogen Bimmer! ADM saving the planet w/genetic engeneering. GE saving the planet w/ windmills. The average AM subscriber is basically the demographic he is talking about (CLinton democrats more or less). It's a decent magazine but i let it lapse because i just can't support that crap.


Manual lawn mowers are making a comeback

CHICAGO — Powerful, loud mowers have been showing lawns who's boss for decades. But now contraptions that couldn't cut butter without a good shove are quietly — really quietly — making a comeback.


Luckily for the manual mower business, there is a whole segment of the population that isn't enamored with power tools or worried about looking wimpy: Women.

"We noticed very quickly that two out of three people buying manual mowers were female," said Terry Jarvis, president of Sunlawn Inc., a Fort Collins, Colo.-based company that's been selling the mowers for 10 years and making its own for two.

"Women like the simplicity of the machines, the fact that they work." he said. "I constantly hear women commenting, 'I love the useful exercise.'"

Ahhh, if only we sensible women ran the world...

That's what I have for my townhome. More than adequate. Other folks use an electric weed whacker for the same purpose..

I already have one (also an electric one to). But as time progressed (and my neighbor kept using fertilizer that ran off into my yard) my lawn just got to thick for them to cut.

I was thinking of getting a Scythe from Lehmans.

For the last couple of year it took a 23 horse power riding mower to cut it.

When my neighbor sold his house the new owner couldn't believe how thick the grass was. He went threw three mowers in one season. Upgrading to more horse power each time.

Of course now we are in a drought. Your post has gotten me thinking that I should get the old manual/electric ones out and try them again.

Go with a European style scythe instead. The American style is tiring to use, awkward, and inefficient. Believe me I have both types and my aluminum Seymour American type scythe sits in a corner of the barn unused. It is amazing how fast one could mow a field with a European type scythe once one gets the technique down.



Or (plug) Scythe Supply here in Maine. :-) I have two of theirs, a 28" grass and a shorter bush. I cannot cut the grass as nicely as a mower; for that one needs sheep.

cfm in Gray, ME

Don't get a sheep, my parents did and it was not a success.

In the 1950's my father, in Bath, UK, had the idea that a sheep would cut the grass with much less effort that a lawnmower. (The house we owned had a lot of grass).

So my mother and I drove over to a hill farm in Wales and borrowed a lamb which had been abandoned by its mother (it was one of twins) and took it back to our house in Bath, causing some consternation on the ferry across the Severn (it was before the Severn bridge) as everyone wondered where the pathetic bleats were coming from.

The sheep idea was not an unparalleled success.

Firstly we had to bottle feed Letty, as we called her, and though we managed to switch the bottle to water eventually, we never managed to wean her, as, early every morning, she would hammer on the front door until it burst open and then clatter over the stone floor bleating for her bottle (by the way, sheep do not house train readily, if at all).

Secondly, we discovered that sheep, apparently, do not like grass. They like the tops of asparagus, roses, flowers, anything, in fact, except grass. The use of a chain staked in the middle of the lawn prevented the devastation of the rest of the garden but ended up very quickly with a sheep lying on its back with all its legs in the air tied into a Gordian knot with the chain.

Now there was a small lodge attached to the house where my father had arranged for a man to live rent free on condition that he did some gardening - this man was also called Murphy, like us, although he was no relative. This man discovered that he could take the rapidly growing lamb down to the local pub and they would both get free drinks. Thus my father used to get regular phone calls, "Could you please collect your cousin and his sheep, they are both drunk"!

At the end of the summer we took Letty back to her farm. The car sunk on its springs as we lifted her into the back of a Morris Station Wagon. Well fed on Guinness, and anything but grass, she towered over all the other sheep. I heard that she had a lamb of her own the following year but then died of kidney failure. Actually, I suspect that she was one of the very few sheep to die of cirrhosis of the liver.

We did not repeat the experiment the following year.

Hello LeGorfu,

As a city-boy: I know nothing about sheep, but that story is simply chockful of laughs--Thxs

LOL! Thanks for sharing this - it brightened up my day.

I have several sheep and it's true that they eat anything but grass until everything else is gone, then they eat the grass. Fortunately, I keep them in a paddock where they can dine preferentially only on weeds before having to settle for grass.

I too have had to rescue trussed up sheep - in this case trussed up in electric fence wire that was supposed contain them to a particular part of the paddock. I suppose when an animal has that much fur, it doesn't feel small shocks. I have had some success with dog collars and cable tie-outs on the rare occasions when I've taken a sheep out of the paddock to clean up the weeds in another area. (I've had the odd funny look from a fellow farmer in my area when leading a sheep on a dog leash to where I want to have mowed.)

Sheep are escape artists too, especially the young ones. I had to rescue one half grown lamb that had got himself stuck under my paddock fence while trying to get to a patch of weeds on the other side. When I found him, he was lying on his back with all four feet in the air and his head stuck under the fence. I thought he was dead at first, but he trotted off quite happily once freed.

And don't bother with goats - ours don't eat grass OR weeds, but they do like leaves

One of the almost 'old world' skills that makes a manual push-mower usable is the ability to sharpen and oil the thing. You can't leave wet grass on it when you put it away, or it will be increasingly stiffer and duller each time you do.

One of the great wastes that we might learn to overcome is the expectation of 'disposing and getting a new one'. We still have the capacity to design things to accept replacement parts. The willingness to do so would probably only come when there is a clear energy advantage to keeping something running instead of buying a whole new manufactured item.

It could ultimately save the mfrs a few pennies per product on that old 'No User Servicable Parts' sticker, too!

Bob Fiske

London Brent crude hit a nine-month high of $71.80 a barrel last week. On Monday, it traded at $70.25.


Qatar oil min says crude market well supplied: QNA

London Brent crude hit a nine-month high of $71.80 a barrel last week after calls from the International Energy Agency, which represents consumer countries, for
OPEC to raise output.


How many calls required before admitting there is no more?

Duplicate post--feel free to delete. Thanks editors!

Or how about this---how much of the world's oil reserves does the US have?

3%. That's just 12 years at current US production, 3 years at current US consumption.


We'll bungle through a summer blamed on refiners, while the overwhelming problem is conveniently obscurred. KSA, OPEC will cite the WTI price, ignore the Asian, Brent. Any pressure to prove their 10-12 mbpd production claims vanishes. I'm afraid, with many others here, that storm disturbances will provide the next round of cover to slide through to fall. And postpone for another year any real national discussion.

That's 3% off official reserves. The US share off real reserves is much larger.

A public company such as Shell commits securities fraud when they overstate their reserves. A state owned company like Aramco can make whatever laughable claims they feel like.

I don't believe for a minute that SaudiAramco's advertised reserves are close to real, not any more than I believe their production claims. That holds for all of OPEC, and in similiar vein, wasn't it Shell who was recently hauled over the coals for reserve inflation?

The point is the pittance of claimed US reserves, the few years left.

Read Stoneleigh's piece on the Thunderhorse "reserve" above. Will the technology to easily tap these reserves arrive before downslope peak problems? It sure knocks home the "low hanging fruit" analogy.

People need to keep a fact in mind re PV--The actual delivered power in an ordinary midwestern site is about 1/10 the peak rated power, that is to say, a panel rated at 1kw peak will actually deilver an average of 100 watts, or less than 1000kw-hr/year. My house uses about 300 watts steady state, so I would need a 3kW PV panel to keep even. That's $24K system cost where I live- way too much. And of course, most US houses are piggier than mine.

And CSP has always been cheaper, so it's about time DOE got the message- far more watts/$ in the lead horse, so why bet so little on it and so much on the lagger-PV??

AND- please keep in mind. not just PV, but ALL solar power gets cheaper with time, so it is misleading to state that one of them will improve in cost when it well might worsen in RELATIVE cost. CSP is cheaper now, and will be in 3 years, and I for one will bet that it will stay cheaper for decades.

PV is great for wrist watches and calculators, and for that little trickle of juice needed to get the control system going when the sun comes up on the CSP

Also remember that concentrating solar collectors lose more on cloudy days than flat plate collectors. They need to be cheaper.

Sure, concentrating only direct sun makes for a greater percentage reduction on fuzzy days. But if you start a lot higher, you can go down more and still be ahead. My numbers indicate that even with only 20% clear time, the much cheaper thermal machine with concentrator gets more watts/dollar than the flat plate PV.

If I am wrong, I will lose that winner-take-all contest we are all gonna have in Palm Springs in one year's time, right?

Step up, ladies and gentlemen, the seat tickets are going fast.

I think you need to give us a link on that 1/10 claim. I know panels may be delivering a practical variance of 10 to maybe 20%, but I've never heard about a 90% cut. Are you counting the sunlight hours against a 24hr basis or something?

But you don't get 100 watts from a 1000 watt array.

Bob Fiske


It's 1000W max ... and it will only be at max if there is no cloud and the sun's rays are at exactly 90 degrees to the panel ... for a fixed panel this set of circumstances will only happen for a few seconds each day at best ... that is why tracking solar arrays are so much more efficient ... the panels can be kept at the optimum orientation for hours on end.

Sorry, I don't have a link to the math to prove the details ... but the sun crosses the sky at 15 degrees an hour and goes from an angle of zero degrees to the panel to 90 at midday and back to zero over a 12 hour period.

At best you will get 1000 Watts at midday ... at six in the morning there will be no power at all, even if the sun is shining brightly.


Here's what I did. I went to my friend who has installed a 2500 watt panel on his roof. He told me he got 2100 kW-hrs from it last year. I divided that by 8760 hours in a year and got 240 watts averaged over the year. That's about 1/10 peak rated power, which as Xeroid says, is what you get at high noon on the Altiplano or some such place .

And that was exactly what the dealer said he would get, so all of this is no news.

My friend told me his system cost around $23,000 all up (don't remember the exact number). So, he paid mighty close to $100 per installed real watt. I say that's too much. Leaves PLENTY of room for my super simple concentrating solar thermal widget, which at high noon and all that can get about 25% efficiency (sez the computer).

Now, let's quit this idle talk and get down to making our things to enter into that contest.

Appreciate the reply. I still say that was/is a misleading way to present the numbers. We certainly already know that your panels don't produce at nighttime, or produce much when its overcast. Xeroid is off with this 90-degree comment. The falloff is far less harsh with PV's than that. Something like 95% production when the sun is 20degrees off-axis.

I really don't have anything against CSP, but PV is a solid technology, and has proven itself as simple, durable and reliable. You do get a number of benefits from it, and the $5/watt of panel prices today will be enviably cheap pretty soon.

Truly, best of luck with your projects, and I hope you can offer them up soon.


Thanks, jokuhl. Sure, we all know that flat plates get energy drop offs proportional to a nice trigonometric function of the angle of the sun. And of course the PV itself sure is a simple, durable, reliable hunk of glass. Problem is, as my friend's numbers say, cost per actual delivered watt is high. Might almost say VERY high. And add those slick black boxes full of electronics, and maybe a battery or two, and the mean time to fritz out has gone way down.

And in that famous doomy day coming up, who will be able to repair it???

Solar thermal is real simple, has good efficiency, fundamentally cheap, might be buggy but can be fixed with ordinary brainpower. And there are so many ways to do it, that it seems to me that at normal rates of evolution, and with lots of elves working on it, it can stay ahead of PV in $/W.

My widget will take solar or biomass with equal enthusiasm, as will lots of thermal machines. Every single bit of it is closely related to '30's farm equipment. Any 10 yr old can understand it and fix it- or could anyway when I was a kid. Hope to offer it soon " some assembly required". Get your spare parts out of the city dump.

Here is a new invention. There is nothing about how much electricity is needed to drive the transmitter. its a big box. Isn't it interesting that the reporter didn't understand you need a power source to make the hydrogen. Basic info that anyone should know about when discussing energy.

Perhaps someone from here with media/university credentials could contact him and ask the hard questions. One of which is has he experimented with intensity to see what is the minimun and maximum transmitter output, and if that has any effect on the output volume, etc.


its a radio wave transmitter that somehow breaks the hydrogen from salt water. Video shows it driving a small Sterling.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Heh, I expect to see this technology shelved by the evil "PTB" along with various suppressed UFO-technology, little arrangements of magnets and levers that defy the 2nd law, and 350-mpg carburetors for your 1967 Cadillac.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.


Your response is not helpful, and your "examples" don't relate to the discovery or the video at all. Are you claiming this video is false, and the research lab that examined the process is false.

Wait I know, it disturbs your little world of what you know, so it's not real.

Or just had to many beers on the Holiday.

A simple process, but at what cost that is the question.

Or feel free to show actual evidence this is a fraud,.. if you can, and try this time without pursing your response with more jibberish.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Sorry X, didn't mean to step on your toes. The inventor is apparently blasting the water with a sufficiently powerful RF field to split it ... but offers no evidence that it creates more energy than he puts in. Or even any evidence that it's any more efficient than sticking a wire in the water and running DC through it.

Furthermore, if it can split water, I wouldn't be leaving my hand in the beam too terribly long. Note that the hand is made of a high percentage of salt water as well.

I thought you offered that video in jest.

There seems to be something very seriously wrong with science education in the USA (and around the world), X this is a hoax, you even know why because you know the right questions to ask, you don't need somebody else to ask the quetions for you ... it seems incredible to me that such seemingly intelligent people as the TV reporters don't even question it, they clearly don't understand the implications of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

I think people in general do realise that they can't carry on living as now and want somebody else to come up with an easy way out ... they hope and pray somebody will save them ... if not, they realise that we are nearly all doomed, and so they are carrying on as usual just running to destruction, borrowing money and living life like there's no tomorrow. Xeroid.

"implications of the 2nd law of thermodynamics."

You are the second person (DIYer, being the first)to mention the 2nd law so I would point out the 2nd law has had holes poked in it.

Now, I have not watched the video and the efforts may have nothing with the holes I refer to.

I just offer it up as a FYI.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?
Here it is !

...the 2nd law has had holes poked in it.

Non-crank links?

The only proposed "holes" I've ever heard of from reputable sources pertain to black-hole/wormhole conditions that are still a bit hypothetical and that you don't want created within a thousand light years of your solar system; or else statistical fluctuations too tiny, tricky, and transitory to be of practical, scalable use in the sense we would need in an energy discussion. The chances that anyone is going to transform 1 joule of low grade heat into 1 joule of electricity anytime soon are far too small to be worth bothering about.

It is true, though, that we have a wide variety of cranks who claim holes. They always seem to have demonstrations that (1) are always Going To Work Next Week but never right now, or (2) only "work" under the sort of restrictive conditions that a stage magician would impose in order to avoid revealing the workings of a trick.

Non-crank links?

Is it a crank if the status quo ignores the info ?

I suppose you and Bruce Scott (below) are of the opinion EM science in totally locked up - in spite of the fact that all of the asymmetric formulations of Maxwell's original 20 equation, 20 variable quaternion has not been taught in conventional EM theory ??

Google fluctuation theorem. Or Prigogine and Kondepudi.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?
Here it is !

holes poked in the second law

Yes indeed I must second the reply to this meme which has been flying through "just plain folks" circles for several years. In physics there is no such thing outside of the more irresponsible hype surrounding string theory public relations drives.

Recall we live in the realm of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics at the micro level and basic thermodynamics at the macro level. The fundamentals of both are well understood and experiments which probe their limits provide null results to very high accuracy. The 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, not to mention special relativity, are very safe indeed. What self styled sceptics never consider is that physics is interconnected to such a degree that if any of these three things didn't hold we'd basically have to throw out everything.

Next time someone says he's seen something that calls energy conservation (1st law), statistical equilibration (2nd law), or the Lorentz transform (special relativity) into question, ask him how he thinks a light bulb works. If he can get that then ask him how it is that we get energy from oil.
(I think the first of these is due to Stanley Schmidt, who as editor of Analog dealt with a large number of cranks in his time.)

Free Beer. Tomorrow.

Oh, and one other remark about our intrepid RF engineer.

He'd better be sticking to the ISM bands with that stuff. Any incursion into the cellular bands, for which Verizon, AT&T, et. al. have paid literally billions in license fees, will be met with hostility. And lawyers.

I think spillage into the military bands has similar consequences, but I'm not sure what they are.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

Global Warming Turns Alaskan Town Into Sinking Island


Lots of the Earth-is-warmer stories in the news:

"Moscow breaks 120-year temperature record"

Unseasonably hot May weather has already seen last year's energy consumption for this time of year surpassed by about 8% in Moscow and 12% in St. Petersburg

So at 90F the Muscovites are sweltering and turning up the A/C.

Britain on Brink of Big Mistake, Greenpeace Says

Britain could slash its carbon emissions and secure its future energy supplies quickly and cheaply by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power plants, according to Greenpeace.

By betting on nuclear, Britain is also setting a bad example to the rest of the world, senior Greenpeace UK energy and climate change adviser, Robin Oakley, said.
In less time and with less money than it takes to build new nuclear reactors, or try out ways of burying emissions from dirty power plants, the government could hit its energy goals by using proven technology available now.

"We are much better off focusing on the things that we know will work and deliver results fast," Oakley told Reuters.

"The key ones are efficiency, going after decentralised energy to make the system more efficient, and bringing on renewables as quickly as possible," he said in an interview. Government ministers previously opposed to atomic energy, including Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling, have warmed to it as the threat of climate change has grown, arguing that it offers clean power and cuts reliance on imported gas.

Apart from safety and waste disposal concerns, Greenpeace argues that nuclear is expensive, impractical and slow to offer a solution to either problem.

What are they smoking?

Seriously, the Greenpeace can provide a study half as detailed as the one made for nuclear power in favour of renewables, where they can provide the power for a green Britain, I'll listen.

Note that they never once mention forced conservation, which will without much doubt be needed in the UK no matter what the path chosen is.

Until then AFAIAC the hot air they produce has more energy than their proposals.

/Rant off


I couldn't agree more with your comments.

Conservation... But how???

The UK has a growing population. It grew by 375,100 people in the year to mid-2005 (0.6 per cent). Growth has been faster in more recent years. Between mid-1991 and mid-2004 the population grew by an annual rate of 0.3 per cent and the average growth per year since mid-2001 has been 0.5 per cent.

CONSERVATION??? Come on, that's crazy!

These ignorant greens are so far away from reality, it's incredible.

I think you underestimate the potential for conservation.


I am part of family 7. This simple experiment shows that some households use 3-4 times as much electricity as others in the same village, with similar lifestyles and almost identical buildings. And these are people who are interested in conserving. If all households were as energy aware as the best in this village, consumption could fall by 50% overnight. I see 25% being quite achievable nationally.
Of course, we would also need to adapt our consumption based on the variable supply provided by renewables, but with intelligent metering and an extra chip in each appliance, that could also occur over say, 10 years. It would require the public to see electricity as a scarce and valuable resource, to be husbanded. But by then, we will have had practice with oil :)

"We are much better off focusing on the things that we know will work and deliver results fast," Oakley told Reuters.

"The key ones are efficiency, going after decentralised energy to make the system more efficient, and bringing on renewables as quickly as possible,

1) Efficiency
2) decentralization
3) bringing on renewables

#1 is obviously true. Now, how do you order it up?

The assertion that decentralization

brings efficiency is unproven and likely erroneous. Why would it be so? Electricity generation requires large amounts of capital and especially specific engineering knowledge for safety reasons. Generally higher efficiency generation requires higher levels of technology which requires more specialization which means that more centralized production is likely more efficient. Who is more likely to run a combined cycle gas-regenerative system at maximal efficiency while maintaining smog emissions below limits and balancing load and doing it all with maximum economic benefit: professional utility or a neighborhood ex-car mechanic?

And for reliability you need interconnections, and for interconnections with safety, you need some kind of coordination.

and then #3

Why is it realistic to bring on renwables more quickly than nuclear for the same net, time and weather averaged generating capacity? First watt surely comes on faster with a wind plant, but what about what matters, the 10 billionth watt?

My position is that the bottlenecks for nuclear versus wind and solar generally don't coincide and it's worth doing all of them.

Some people seem erroneously devoted to no nuclear above all , when it ought to be no coal.

My position is that the bottlenecks for nuclear versus wind and solar generally don't coincide and it's worth doing all of them

I generally agree. I just think that the nuke bottlenecks will take longer to resolve.

IMHO, at "maximum economical expansion" (i.e. no tar sands rush, but a good steady rate of expansion), it will take twenty years to get to finishing 4 US nukes/year (with perhaps 15 to 20/year world wide). We are about to start Year 1.

Wind can ramp up faster, but we cannot get off FF without both (plus EVERY other renewable).

Best Hopes,


Top Ten Things I Am Going To Miss After The Collapse:

10. Shopping centers packed to the rafters wiith inexpensive consumer goods
09. Realtively clean almost empty busses (I don't drive)
08. Electronic entertainment on demand
07. Warm heaters in winter and cool air-conditioners in summer
06. Quality health care on demand
05. Supermarkets with no empty shelves and fresh fruit and vegetables all year around
04. Cooking withut collecting firewood first
03. Fresh water and hot showers on tap
02. Neighborhood streets relatively free of armed robbery and violent death

And the number one thing I will miss after the collapse: Plastic!


00  And the Intertubes.

Some things I won't miss after the collapse:

1. SUV driving soccer moms
2. Heavy metal music and all the other sratchy, indecipherable funkymonkey trash that claims to be actual music
3. High prices anywhere for anything
4. Cellphones
5. Bills
6. Money
7. Porn
8. Children who are lazy
9. Spam
10. Commercials
11. TV
12. Skunky beer
13. Hillary Clinton as well as Bill.
14. GW Bush and Co.
15. Congress
16. The legal profession
17. Hackers,crackers,virii,worms,trojans,prophalytics,bad whiskey,high priced fuel,slow loading websites,bad BBQ....I could go on and on and on.......

I will still have..the woods,good beer,good dogs,good dirt,hunting,fishing,good food,cold clear water, nice shade trees, no noise pollution and no need to ever mow again.

I will need a good riding horse, two good mules, some chickens and a milk cow. I won't complain. Everything will once more become open range.

Eventually the bad guys will be taken care of and ....and ....and....

Things I won't miss.

1. Human Rights
2. Political Correctness
3. Paper Money
4. Micromanagement
5. Feminism
6. Fat people

I will sorely miss The Oil Drum.

Good News!
You won't have to miss Micromanagement, it's not going anywhere! Even Warlords can do it!

I bet you will miss Human Rights though..

and if it is not heavy metal, what music will it be?

Numbers 4 and 3 can still be had, post collapse, if you act now, and you don't happen to live way up north. Build (or buy, if you must) yourself a solar oven or funnel cooker and a solar water heater. The former I built out of cardboard, aluminum foil, and a Reynolds' oven bag. Not quite as reliable as present conviences, but better than cold baths and endless firewood collection.


Drink OR drive.

Trouble brews in Germany as biofuel boom jacks up price of beer

Like most Germans, brewer Helmut Erdmann is all for the fight against global warming. Unless, that is, it drives up the price of his beer.

And that is exactly what is happening to Erdmann and other German brewers as farmers abandon barley — the raw material for the national beverage — to plant other, subsidized crops for sale as environmentally-friendly biofuels.

"Beer prices are a very emotional issue in Germany — people expect it to be as inexpensive as other basic staples like eggs, bread and milk," said Erdmann, director of the family-owned Ayinger brewery in Aying, an idyllic village nestled between Bavaria's rolling hills and dark forests with the towering Alps on the far horizon.

"With the current spike in barley prices, we won't be able to avoid a price increase of our beer any longer," Erdmann said, stopping to sample his freshly brewed, golden product right from the steel fermentation kettle.

In the last two years, the price of barley has doubled to €200 (US$271) from €102 per ton as farmers plant more crops such as rapeseed and corn that can be turned into ethanol or bio-diesel, a fuel made from vegetable oil.

As a result, the price for the key ingredient in beer — barley malt, or barley that has been allowed to germinate — has soared by more than 40 percent, to around €385 (US$522) per ton from around €270 a ton two years ago, according to the Bavarian Brewers' Association.

For Germany's beer drinkers that is scary news: their beloved beverage — often dubbed 'liquid bread' because it is a basic ingredient of many Germans' daily diet — is getting more expensive.

Looks like biofuel concerns are hitting the MSM - this piece was on the BBC 6 o'clock news as a main item:

Maybe people are (slowly) realising that growing stuff should be for food first, not fuel. Or maybe not.

The efficiency of the radio hydrolysis device is not mentioned. If it is acceptable it basically solves the storage problem with renewables.

What is acceptable? I would bet the efficiency is on the order of 10-20%

whatever he was burning in the video, it wasn't hydrogen. not very pure hydrogen at least — it burned with a yellow hydrocarbon-y flame.

[edit] — I take it back; watched the vid again and apparently it is a hydrogen-oxygen flame colored with sodium from the fizzing saltwater.

The number one modern day convenience I will miss is going to my local pub for a cold beer and playing some tunes on the jukebox.

like in the 1880's west, you'll be able to go to your pub for a warm straight whiskey and somebody will be playing tunes on the guitar or a solar powered ipod.

but it will be damned hot in the summer.

Hello TOD folk
So I've been waiting for a good time to ask for input on this outreach opportunity, and this feels like a good time. We operate two local coffeehouses here in Santa Cruz, CA, and we have a chance to reach hundreds of people each day. One way we do this id via a "Quote Board"; usually our staff will put up a witty quote of the day, and sometimes I'll use it for either political ;-) or TOD edumacation. I've put up the TOD URL a number of times with the thought of people who were interested could find out PO stuff for themselves.
The other tool we use is an electronic, rotating web page display mounted on the wall by our pick-up counter. This flat panel display rotates a short selection of mostly weather-related web pages in 30-second intervals. (We also have a wireless weather station/display next to the monitor.) I guess I'll try offering up the web address HERE of our page-pushing applet--very cool--with the hope that it won't crash our server. There are ten pages in rotation currently--one PO related.
Anyway, the pages we use must be vertically appropriate and show their content without the need to scroll down.
So here's what I'm looking for:

Excellent quotes or info for our written Quote Board, and...

Excellent web-pages/images for our weather/geo/energy kiosk.

The goal is Peak Oil education. I apologize for being wordy, and offer thanks for any suggestions or input.

I could suggest you order the poster from www.oilposter.org, and have it nicely framed on the wall.

Thanks for the good suggestion; ordered it...

Two Remarks:

Trade twenty BTUs of diesel or gasoline for 1 BTU of electricity ?

How ?

Electrify freight railroads, and move freight by them.

Build Urban Rail and redevelp our cities around them


Trade 100 BTUs of gasoline for 1 BTU of (insert favorite food here).

Bicycle to work and shopping.

Best Hopes,


I like the idea of eating more without changing pant sizes. Otherwise know as bike riding.

So Alan is the food really that good in New Orleans? We had a cajun place we liked to go but it closed down. My god the corn bread was unreal, as was the gumbo.

is the food really that good in New Orleans ?

Y E S !

The locals will simply not tolerate mediocre food (much less the junk that most Americans eat).

Just had a Hummus and lamb lunch with a friend with a well done side salad and red lentil soup. Quite good :-)

I think, with the latest awards, we are up to 14 James Beard award winning chefs in a city of a quarter million. But the muffaletos# created in the back of the corner grocery store Zara's (they also make their own cottage cheese and po-boys there) are quite good as well. Yesterday I described Sophies ice cream parlor (Superb papaya sorbet and very good blueberry sorbet) while talking with Sophie and what she will make later this week.

# http://www.muffoletta.com/

Top to bottom, good to superb eating. Weak on sushi and VERY few chains.

The city is simply alive with music as well. As Ernie K-Doe said "Pretty much all music starts in New Orleans".

And our architecture and urban layout also add to the joy of living here :-)

Best Hopes for saving New Orleans soul,


Top to bottom, good to superb eating

Bon Appetit. In 100 years it will be under water. I think they are predicting a net sinkage of 3 feet between now and then.


In 100 years we will still be several meters higher than Rotterdam is today.

The difference is Dutch engineers that gave a damn designed and built their dikes. The US Army designed and built ours.

The rate is declining over time. Much subsiding is due to organic matter oxidizing and there is a limit to that.

New Orleans remains the low energy transfer point for half the USA.

Best Hopes for New Orleans.


"In 100 years it will be under water."
In 100 years I will be dead, and you too. Nothing is too good for you stomach. I think eating good food is one of lifes greatest pleasures. Both my wife and I think New Orleans would be a kick. Maybe someday before travel is banned/too expensive.
So Alan I assume you might have traveled to Portland, OR was there any place you found here?

I have been to Portland OR four times, and spent a bit over a month there in toto. One trip included a full day transit tour (half in the Pearl District). Found a motel out east a block from a Max station. Bought a used computer in Beaverton when mine had problems.

Portland is a nice city heading in the right direction, but the quality of life is so far inferior to that of New Orleans (to be fair, the negatives of New Orleans are also much worse than those of Portland).

I will take the City of intense and dramatic Great Positives and Great Negatives over a much more mildly seasoned nice and functional city. I am much more alive here than elsewhere.

The highest goal of Life is not mere survival, for we must all die in the end.

My psychiatrist friend has two apt sayings. "The longer you live in New Orleans, the less fit you are to live anywhere else" and "New Orleans is the only city that I have loved that has loved me back." She is a California girl that moved here and fell in love with the place.

Much of New Orleans charm is not the externalities, but the people. In polls at planning sessions, the #1 goal is to preserve in the rebuilding is the way that we relate to each other#. *THAT* is better than ever post-Katrina.

With Love for this city,


# Many native New Orleanians were profoundly shocked at the social isolation (they have different words for it) they found in other US cities. Nice people, they were treated kindly, better pay, the cities were more functional but the social connections were lacking in Houston, Dallas, Tulsa, Atlanta, Denver, etc. After a while, they came back home.

The highest goal of Life is not mere survival, for we must all die in the end.

Recommend that get repeated every so often, especially in PO websites with the influx of survivalism.

"The longer you live in New Orleans, the less fit you are to live anywhere else"

I suspect that living in the woods has done the same to me. It's like we live on another planet. I'm so grateful that most people do not want to live out here. In summer we sleep with the windows open. At night the owls hoots, or the bugle of a bull elk in the rut can wake you. No traffic noises- none. Fear is the word that I see in peoples eyes when they think about being so far from town. I find that ammusing.

We do however like great food. Living close enogh to Portland is nice for that reason. But, finding a great reasturant that has enough traffic to stay open has been a challenge. For all it's plus's Portland has alot of chain food, and chain food customers.

My wife has a friend in Alalabama she talked with last night. She said New Orleans to east texas but no furthur for great food. Perhaps I can talk her into it.

Alan, I know you think rail is going to solve our transport problems but sadly, I think we won't have enough easy electricity in a world of (soon to be) 7 Billion + people for much public transport.

What energy we do have will be devoted to agriculture/clean water supply and even then may not be enough for all.

We have to learn to live the way my grandparents lived just over 100 years ago ... there was no electricity, mains water, cars, busses, aeroplanes, telephones, refrigeration etc. Amazingly, around the same number of people (~1000,000,000) still live the same way and are probably just as happy as you.


We can supply a good percentage of current travel with 2% of current US electricity. Hydroelectric power is not going to disappear. Add new wind and some solar PV, biomass, etc. and we can keep a basic transportation network going.

Best Hopes,


Hello KingPing,

I like Matt Savinar's initial LATOC quote:

"Deal with Reality, or Reality will Deal with You!"

Another favorite quote, but unfortunately, I can't remember the author to give full credit:

"It will take all of us, working all the time. But isn't that the whole point?"

Next [and directly related to the quotes above], my favorite peaceful postPeak cooperative teamwork photo for you to display:


Finally, If your coffeshop display system can do endless video loops, this YouTube link should create quite a discussion on what postPeak direction is most appropriate for North America:


Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Thanks Bob
I'll use the quotes, as I've used some from the TOD quote generator... We keep the web content to non-audio and 30 seconds... Damn fine vid clip though...

I have a 2006 KSA depletion graph in the mix currently.

Thanks for responding.

KingPing and Bob Shaw;

"It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever. But isn't that the point?" - William McDonough, at the end of "From Cradle to Cradle- Remaking the way we make things" .. A great book for considering manufacturing and industry from some fresh viewpoints.

I don't think we've seen the end of Ball Bearings, Tool Steel or Hydrocarbon Lubricants. You can make plastic out of Corn Starch and other Cellulose (Cellophane!), and moldmaking is just too darnd convenient to be lost from our tool kits! (I don't think we're done with Transistors, either!)


Venezuela replaces opposition TV with state network

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela shut down an opposition television channel on Monday and replaced it with one promoting President Hugo Chavez's self-proclaimed socialist revolution in a move widely criticized as a threat to democracy.

I see Venezuelans have their proirities straight:

Pollster Datanalisis found almost 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed the shut-down, but most cited the loss of their favorite soap operas rather than concerns about limits on freedom of expression.


Video of station signing off here:

It appears as if Chavez is now going after the smaller media outlets too:

"Venezuela moves against second opposition TV channel"

Those who project near or far term oil production for Venezuela, pointing to the abundance of the Orinoco hydrocarbons, perhaps should re-evaluate based on "above ground" events.

A bit of non-US non-propaganda background on what transpired in Venezuela:

In 2002, RCTV actively supported a foreign-led military coup against Chávez' democratically elected government. In any democracy, that would not be regarded as "criticism of the government" as some pundits now claim , but as treason. It certainly would in the US.

By the grace of Chávez, the proprietors of the privately owned multi-station network were never prosecuted for treason though, and instead even now are free to continue broadcasting on cable and satellite channels. Their license came up for renewal, it it was denied.

Globovision, the smaller channel now under investigation, is suspected of inciting assassination attempts against the president of the country it operates in. That president was recently re-elected by a 63% majority of the votes, in elections monitored left, right, up and down by international observers. A result, by the way, that makes some other current presidents look truly pale by comparison.

And all the talk about Chávez acting undemocratically? Is there anything more undemocratic than a military coup? People protesting in the streets to get that station back? You know when people were in the streets in Caracas? During the coup attempt, they were out there by the millions, night and day, and they stayed there until the president they elected was reinstated. During the reinstatement ceremony, RCTV famously aired the film Pretty Woman.

Still, today our "media" report that Chávez is a "threat to democracy". Personally, I think he is a threat to something completely different.

But by all means, do keep wallowing in the mud that's spread out over you daily.

A bit of non-US non-propaganda background on what transpired in Venezuela:
But by all means, do keep wallowing in the mud that's spread out over you daily.

You can rant all you want of course, but in this regard you are the same as BenjaminCole - words are not the same as citing sources. The newswire story I linked simply described the latest events.

If your own ideological fervor is to support Chavez in his current zeal to make all of Venezuela's institutions revolve around him - a truly Chavez-centric nation - then fill up your desire and help him. However, don't be suprised about the outcome. Unfortunately for the rest of us, because Venezuela is an important oil source, we have to live with the consequences too.


because Venezuela is an important oil source, we have to live with the consequences too.

With a statement like that, I sure can see why the old crocodile tears about, I assume, democracy degraded , run from your eyes.

I don't know what effect this bit of old news will have on you;

Dole no longer gets bananas from Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Actually, keeping some hydrocarbons in the ground for an extended period of time could actually be a good thing -- both for the world AND for Venezuela. They will be eventually be worth far more than they are now.

I think HISF is right on the money here.

and my guess is that INJAPAN really isnt, otherwise he would have a better perspective of reality.

Chavez did, however, cite a reason for shutting down the station as the soap operas being "pure poison that promote capitalism".
If it were true that RCTV actively supported the military coup, that may be reasonable grounds for charging it with treason (although personally the whole concept of treason to me strikes me as completely at odds with modern democracies), but hardly grounds for taking the entire station off air.

There is no doubt chavez was elected democratically, and with numbers that, in the us, would be a landslide, particularly these days with left and right so balanced. BUt chavez is rewriting the constitution to give himself more power... while he remains popular as he nationalizes the oil industry, venezuela will find they have a president for life.

The problem for them is not just the budding dictator, and the corruption that cronyism entails; their former version of capitalism was also sadly corrupt. And rewriting energy contracts following price rises is common throughout the world (and explains why I restrict my energy investments to us e&p's), the oil companies even expect it. The real problem is that they are moving rapidly towards heavy socialism, complete with land distribution to the poor and the nationalization of all major industries, and this form of governance, which saps personal initiative, has been found repeatedly to be hugely inefficient for the economy. Land 'reform', where large farms are broken up and given to city dwellers with no knowledge of farming, have in almost no time destroyed venezuelan food output, exactly as similar programs have done elsewhere. Popular now, yes, disastrous now, yes.
Many countries have tried various versions of heavy socialism (state control of major industries, land giveaways, etc,) and/or marxism, eg eastern europe, russia, bits of africa, india, vietnam, cuba and china, argentina. Those countries on this list with the highest growth rates are those moving towards a more efficient allocation of resources, ie capitalism, with greatest speed. Note too that the level of capitalism has been found ot be more imortant to the economy than the level of democracy.

No country is purely capitalist these days... even the us has mechanisms such as ss/medicare that smooth the rough spots for young, old, and temporarily unemployed. Many in western europe, eg france, now think they've got a bit too much... but any talk of change spurs riots, even tho unemployment is in double digits, and far higher among the young and muslim. It can take generations to climb back on the capitalist road once you lose your way.

"BUt chavez is rewriting the constitution to give himself more power."

Is it him or the freely elected Parlament that rewrites the constitution?

Should a Constitution never be rewrited?

There is no doubt chavez was elected democratically, and with numbers that, in the us, would be a landslide, particularly these days with left and right so balanced. BUt chavez is rewriting the constitution to give himself more power... while he remains popular as he nationalizes the oil industry, venezuela will find they have a president for life.

The problem for them is not just the budding dictator, and the corruption that cronyism entails; their former version of capitalism was also sadly corrupt. And rewriting energy contracts following price rises is common throughout the world (and explains why I restrict my energy investments to us e&p's), the oil companies even expect it. The real problem is that they are moving rapidly towards heavy socialism, complete with land distribution to the poor and the nationalization of all major industries, and this form of governance, which saps personal initiative, has been found repeatedly to be hugely inefficient for the economy. Land 'reform', where large farms are broken up and given to city dwellers with no knowledge of farming, have in almost no time destroyed venezuelan food output, exactly as similar programs have done elsewhere. Popular now, yes, disastrous now, yes.
Many countries have tried various versions of heavy socialism (state control of major industries, land giveaways, etc,) and/or marxism, eg eastern europe, russia, bits of africa, india, vietnam, cuba and china, argentina. Those countries on this list with the highest growth rates are those moving towards a more efficient allocation of resources, ie capitalism, with greatest speed. Note too that the level of capitalism has been found ot be more imortant to the economy than the level of democracy.

No country is purely capitalist these days... even the us has mechanisms such as ss/medicare that smooth the rough spots for young, old, and temporarily unemployed. Many in western europe, eg france, now think they've got a bit too much... but any talk of change spurs riots, even tho unemployment is in double digits, and far higher among the young and muslim. It can take generations to climb back on the capitalist road once you lose your way.

I think everyone is missing the point. Chavez is simply pulling down the Western control infrastructure. Just in the same way he has snipped the IMF's control strings, freeing parts of South America from the nefarious Washington consensus.

Any State leader serious about doing something positive for the people, rather than just for the elites, has to do exactly the same. It's the first thing which needs to be done to rid oneself of Western hegemony. Putin has done something similar I recall, both with the media and with debt repayments (Paris Club, etc).

The West and in particular the USA, is slowly losing its control mechanisms and thus its hegemony. Military coercion being its last option, hence the growing militarisation of the West. But, as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon have shown, military coercion is also losing its power and is becoming another sink draining away the wealth of the West, at the very moment it's needed to mitigate collapse.

I don't know whether Chavez is doing the right thing or not, but he is trying to do something positive. The same cannot be said of Western leaders and especially of the ubercretins, the vile neo-cons.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

"The art of War" Mentions clearly that war is an economic drain that will impoverish a nation if conducted incorrectly.
Clearly Bushco. hasn't read it or they simply do not give a damn.

Under Chavez Venezuela is Zimbabwe in process. The only thing that will prevent the full Zimbabwesation of Venezuela is its oil resources. Some of you need to quit drinking the koolaid extricate your heads from your arses and see what is really going on. Step by step he is setting up a ruthless dictatorship that will collapse their society and ruin the country.

I know there are other sites that discuss this, but I figured people on here may want to take a stab. I am looking at an overseas move, peal oil related. And I am looking at preparedness. I am trying to figure out the best use of one shipping container (roughly 8x8x20 ft) for a Peak Oil survival kit.

Anyone on here want to through in some suggestions... anything is worth thinking about... Not just food, but tools, solar panels, medical supplies ??

I actually have a few other people interested in doing the same thing, and we are debating what is best so that we can start bulk buying for discounts.

So, on this rainy holiday Monday please feel free to offer any suggestions

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

...an overseas move, peal oil related...


Now THAT is funny :-)

No... but I do think I know my peak oil lifeboat location... I have a wife and two children, one of whom has special needs and isn't going to be well served in the every-man-for-himself post-WTSHTF scenarios I most fear...

I am starting to build quite a virtual community of like minded people and we are starting to figure out what we need for our shipping container lifepods... eventually we'd like to spec out what you'd need for a whole village... (healthcenter in a box style)

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Well for starters, it would help to mention where your going to relocate to. Different climates demand different tools and supplies.

New Zealand
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man


Climate is very different depending on what part of the country you intend going to.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

a lot of my fellow brits have moved there and from the lowdown i get i think we have an idea of good parts of that country to check out

main thing for me is
arable land : population
distance from starving millions in the die-off
access to a lot of necessary stuff already in-country

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Back to basics books.
Cheese making, supplies and tools.
Toilet Paper and supplies for health care.
Hand powered Kitchen tools.
Canning tools and books.
As many hand tools as you can think off, include as many instruction manuals for those tools as you can.
FireFox books the complete set.
If you can a rotating stock of MRE's or the like or other stock piles of food, At least a year's worth per person.
Several hand powered water purifing devices.
Salt and sugar in more than you need amounts. Honey as well.

You will need to have a method to move your supplies. If you are putting them all in one of those cargo containers you can't move it once it is full without heavy moving equipment.

Know how to make bullets, how to shoot a gun, how to clean a gun, and know how to butcher your own meats. A lot of what you are asking about is self taught or you can get classes on, and getting the training now when you don't need it in a day to day survival is the best way to learn it, but it will be harder than anything you have ever done when it is your life and love ones depending on you to know what you are doing.

Where ever you go, go for good weather, lots of rainfall, and rivers or the sea nearby. If those two food sources are failing, there is not much you can do about it because the whole globe will be failing to have a food source without the oceans working as they do now.

Best of luck.

Just dismantled, assembled and cleaned by gun for the first time... haven't done anything like that since i was 12/13 with a Lee Enfield 303 rifle in CCF at school.
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Didn't notice your comment here, before my flip remark below, otherwise I would have said that if you plan to go outside your country leave your gun at home, nobody at the boarder of whatever country you go to is going to be very impressed.

I would forget overseas and just move to western Ontario. Canada is going to be sitting pretty through this thing. They are the only stable,modern nation w/ a significant surplus of resources and very low pop density. I think the part of Ont. w. of the toronto hub has like 250K people and is like twice as big as Texas. Just off the top of my head. Take a trip and pick a spot


New Zealand is my bet at the moment... any thoughts about that or reasons why not?
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Why not?...my evil cousin lives there!

I would think Australia would also qualify as a stable, modern nation w/ a significant surplus of resources and a very low pop density. Sure we're not self-sufficient in oil, which will hurt us, but the drought that we're currently going through is already preparing us for dealing with reality. We also have the advantage of having naturally-defended borders. Our biggest problem is how dependent our economy is on shipping our resources overseas: if you assume that the economies of our export destinations will falter, and that shipping large quantities of resources will be come economically unfeasible, it will definitely cause us grief. But we are at least self-sufficient in food - for now.

Agreed. But, I'm still not convinced that Oz isn't already well above it's carrying capacity. Dimond seems to thing it is by a good margin. I understand that large parts of it are temperate and subtropical, but how many people can these areas support?

You'll excuse me if I don't have too many faith in the concept of "carrying capacity" as is regularly advanced here. Sure, the current capability of our agricultural industry to feed us is heavily dependent on fossil fuel input and obviously problematic redirections of water flow, but food production is so critical to a country's survival that all stops will be pulled out to ensure that, one way or another, we will be able to continue to produce sufficient food. Most likely beef will become prohibitively expensive to produce, similarly for more exotic crops that are particularly energy and water intensive, and there's a reasonable chance that agriculture will become more labour intensive, but from what I've read, I'm comfortable that there's more than enough arable land here to keep us all fed. After all, we currently produce enough wheat to feed about 60 million people, and we also suffer from similar levels of obesity to the U.S., so even if, between now and 2050, our food production capacity halved while our population grew to a projected 25+ million, we wouldn't be starving.

Story in TOD daily, just up above.


Indonesia is considering revoking licenses of oil companies that fail to start developing oil and gas fields within 10 years, a senior government official said on Monday.

Indonesia, OPEC's second-smallest producer, has been offering new exploration rights and financial incentives for oilfields in a bid to stem a steady decline in production as the country has failed to tap new oilfields fast enough to meet domestic demand.

"We will see the contracts. If the companies do not meet their commitments on exploration after the 10-year period, we will revoke their licenses," the oil and gas director general, Luluk Sumiarso, told Reuters by phone.

It seems like the irrationality has begun. Not developing oil simply indicate it is too expensive to do so. The Gov. in this case is telling private companies to produce oil unprofitably, which will not happen.

By my data, Indonesian reserves peaked in ~1991 and have been falling since.

A question for Alan from a old newbie in the UK.
It appears that there will be a lot of unused lanes on the main highways of the world in the not too distant future.
Is there any way that they could be used for light rail? perhaps along the lines of the American interurbans of the 1930s?
Is there any way that rail can be attached to solid road surfaces or do you need ballast and sleepers?
Would the gradients be gradients too severe for steel wheels on a steel rail?

My one great rail memory was when the LNER steam loco 7742 Flying Scotsman did its last non stop London-Edinburgh trip. I was involved in the making of a film about it and was able to talk my way onto the footplate (reached via a corridor in the tender) where I stayed for half an hour. I got some good stills.

Forgive me if these questions have already been answered elsewhere on TOD

Alex minor correction Flying Scotsman is 4472, iconic reminder of the glory days of British Steam.

Its sad that the national railway system nationalised in 1948 and reprivatised since 1993 had really pulled together and achieved high service standards by the turn of the 90's is now in the hands of numerous private franchises. The system is incredibly disjointed with Network Rail owning the tracks and infrastructure, leasing companies supply alot of the rolling stock and TOCs (train operating companies) run the services.

What I am currently finding quite shocking is the amount of locomotives that are being left derelict and hastily being scrapped to recover the metals. As we are currently quite successfully running locomotives that are 40-50 years old we are loosing valuable assets that are going to be extremely difficult to replace going forward. (All locomotovies running over the UK network used to be British Built - now our main cargo haulers class 66's are Canadian built, 67's are Spanish built and a new start up Great Central Railways are looking to use Chinese built multiple units!)

Perhaps the UK railways can be summed up by the type of names that are now applied to locomotives. Old class 47's (around 45 years old) operated by Virgin Railways are named after Thunderbird puppet charaters eg: 'Scott Tracey'. In their heyday with British Rail a group of 47's carried names of Great Britains like 'Isambard Kingdom Brunel'. Somehow this is really telling about the UK. I bet more people on the street will know who Scott Tracey is than IKB.

Thanks for asking :-)

The grade depends upon the # of driven axles. If every axle is driven, 10% grade is easily doable (14.7% climbing grade in snowy Pittsburgh, unsafe to go down a grade that steep though).

In loco & train setup, problems can appear around 2.5% grade though.

Sleepers can be glued directly to a roadbed with rails on top as usual. LR55 (google them) has an interesting variant. The biggest issue is entering and exiting a shared roadway (inside lanes > rail, outside lanes still rubber tire). Best solution may be walkways to center median stations and digging covered trenches for rail route to enter and exit former freeway lanes.

Other routes are often better than down highways, One reason is that auto sewers simply repel people, including potential rail riders.

Thanks for asking,


Thanks Alan,
The idea came because in an island as small as this a new route would be a nightmare of permissions and cost, whereas all that roadway would be sitting there empty,

Sangiovese, Yes, of course you are right thanks, and I agree totally with the rest of your post

The tragedy is that we once had the world's finest rail network here, But short term vision and Dr Beeching put paid to that,
Oh well.

I have seen the suggestion to turn highway lanes into light rail lanes a few years ago.
On the face of it, it seems eminently reasonable - after all, the width of a railway carriage is less than the current UK motorway figure.

However, (and this may have been because it was suggested back when rail in the UK was more unpopular than noww) it was shot down under the dubious "Health and Safety" of "How would you prevent crashes?" The implication being that someone crashing into the barrier between the road and rail would automatically happen a) all the time, and b) always result in a car going through the barrier and hitting a train.
I think they even tried to say "And what about when a train derails onto the road?", which ignores the safety figures of each.

It's the same mentality that demands full barriers on level crossings, "to make them safer", but not, say on every road intersection with traffic lights. It's not the trains that are unsafe - it's the drivers.

Hello TODers,

I hope the USA can avoid this fate, but human behavior is genetically universal:

Zimbabwe: As Services Collapse, Corruption Flourishes

Besides having to contend with leaking water pipes and frequent power outages, Zimbabwe's urban residents still have to grease the palms of officials to ensure they can get access to even these dysfunctional services.

Three weeks ago the sewage pipe at his house burst - an increasingly common problem in urban areas throughout the country - and he telephoned the works department, which promised to come "soon".

After a 24 hour-wait he decided to call again and was grumpily told the department was overwhelmed and he had to wait his turn.

When sewage started to seep into the house, he was assured that the problem would be rectified the same day, but again, no one turned up.

"It was on the sixth visit that a young employee accosted me on my way out and bluntly told me that nothing would be fixed unless I 'dropped a feather', suggesting that I had to pay the plumbers for them to repair the burst pipe," Mbirimi said.

The public works officials have now stalled work at his home after he attempted to report the corruption to higher authorities, who also failed to take action.

It is commonplace for urban centre residents to experience weeks-long water cuts, frequent power outages, uncollected refuse and broken down sewerage systems. Municipalities and power and water utilities often cite the lack of foreign currency to import parts needed to make necessary repairs on infrastructure, buy new vehicles for refuse collection, or purchase electricity from neighbouring countries.

Last week, the Chitungwiza municipality reported that it had suspended garbage collection because its trucks had broken down, and it lacked the capacity to repair them, adding that the situation had been worsened by the rampant theft of spare parts.

Pensioners suffer

Harare resident, Margaret Muhoni, 66, a widow, has had to live without water and electricity for a year.

She accused the authorities of taking advantage of her old age. Muhoni has let out some rooms in her home, but the rental is nominal because of the absence of running water and power. She has to buy firewood for cooking and heating, while she and her tenants fetch water from a nearby church.
Please read the entire linked text and newsgoogle Zimbabwe: it only gets worse!

I would prefer successful Peakoil Outreach, WT's ELP, and other mitigative methods instead of the USA imitating Zimbabwe.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than YEast?

A little more Wild & Crazy speculation:

I believe future corrupt US officials, military, and/or power elites will take a more sophisticated infrastructure 'systems approach' to Zimbabwe's Project Murambatsvina [Taking out the Rubbish]. Recall my earlier posting detailing how clever elite manipulation of my Asphalt Wonderland's sewage spiderweb flows could be used to jumpstart a huge northward migration towards Cascadia.

It is energy wasteful to bulldoze or burn houses ala Zimbabwe. IMO, it is much better to let massive, directed, gravitational sewage overflows to selected neighborhoods; to instantly make these homes uninhabitable. The buildup of essential compost for future farming is easily accomplished by this method, and the construction materials can be later be easily recycled in support of relocalized permaculture.

But hopefully, universal agreement for proper, habitat wide Humanure Recycling becomes prevalent before resorting to the drastic measures outlined in the paragraphs above.

How much longer before people realize that we cannot continue to stupidly waste our potable water? I am appalled, but not surprised, that Zimbabweans have not already abandoned the tremendous costs [that they cannot afford] of futile efforts to maintain the sewage spiderwebs.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

i don't know why but i find something extremely funny about the mental image of sewage violently backing up in the piping in many houses at the same time.

"What is acceptable? I would bet the efficiency is on the order of 10-20%".

10-20% would not do at all. It would have to be at least 50% efficient. I have heard that using fuel cells in reverse is more efficient than that, but they still use rare materials like platinum.

Plain old hydrolysis is about 80% efficient but you have to generate the electricity from something. Doing it with thermal systems (FF, nuclear, etc.) is never better than about 40%. That nets you around 30%. Its been along time since I looked at RF generators but I can't imagine that that process is all that good. Then you have to couple the RF energy to the salty water. That either takes some real beam management technology or dropping the high voltage system into the middle of the salt water. Then you have to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen, pump one or both of the gases up to high enough pressure....

Oh Christ, what a waste of time.

This is plain dumb. Google does wonders.

Try high temperature electrolysis and thermochemical hydrogen. Thermodynamic processes efficencies of 50%+.

Here's some data to support Westexas' export model. Mexican exports down from 54.3% of 3.37mbpd to 52.8% of A SMALLER NUMBER.

Pemex announced that it produced 3.18 million b/d oil in April, unchanged from March but down from 3.37 million b/d from April 2006. Pemex exported 1.68 million b/d last month compared with 1.78 million b/d in March, and 1.83 b/d in April 2006. About 80% of Pemex's crude exports go to the U.S.
The EIA now projects a fall in Mexico's output to 3 million barrels a day from a current production of around 3.2 million. That compares with last year's projection by the EIA for an increase to 4 million barrels a day. The EIA particularly pointed to a 14% annual rate of decline in production at Pemex's largest oil field at Cantarell.


Is Mexico the canary in the coalmine?

I don't know really, do I have any comment? Well, a question perhaps: why did they wait till Falwell was dead? How about this one: since when is Warsaw the capital of Tennessee? Or: is Poland the canary in the coalmine?

Poland to probe if Teletubbies are gay

Hey, wait a minute, where's Rosie?

TUBBY TROUBLE: Poland is investigating television show the Teletubbies over claims they might promote homosexuality.

Poland's conservative government took its drive to curb what it sees as homosexual propaganda to the small screen, taking aim at Tinky Winky and the other Teletubbies.

Ewa Sowinska, government-appointed children rights watchdog, told a local magazine published on Monday she was concerned the popular BBC children's show promoted homosexuality.

She said she would ask psychologists to advise if this was the case.
In comments reminiscent of criticism by the late US evangelist Jerry Falwell, she was quoted as saying: "I noticed (Tinky Winky) has a lady's purse, but I didn't realize he's a boy."

"At first I thought the purse would be a burden for this Teletubby . . . Later I learned that this may have a homosexual undertone."
Poland's rightist government has upset human rights groups and drawn criticism within the European Union by apparent discrimination against homosexuals.

Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych has proposed laws sacking teachers who promote "homosexual lifestyle" and banning "homo-agitation" in schools.

Town gas today ranged from 3.35 to 3.39.

A 2 lane highway links our town with the city 50 miles south. This afternoon was a nearly ceaseless back south procession of vehicles: campers, rv's, motorhomes, pickups with campers, trucks with cab-over campers or 5th wheels, and all towing another trailer behind, trailers with atv's, dirt bikes, 4 wheelers, boats, jet skis, topless Jeeps, second cars. One olive green home-painted motorhome had “Hempfest” written across the front and sides; it towed an orange VW microbus.

Listening to Dvorshak's “New World Symphony”, I heard the struggle, the work, but the hope is faint.

I saw the same thing coming across 80 in PA last weekend. it was just a parking lot and half of it was giant trucks. For several large stretches of time/distance it just stopped dead. I'm sitting there in my Jetta in an 8 mile backup surrounded by behemoths thinking "there is no WAY we are going to turn this pig around in an orderly fashion." There is just way too much inertia,way too much of the economy tied up in it's continuation. NO way


Anyone who takes a serious look at what is happening out on the interstates of this country will (usually) immediately understand what the future holds in the way of a massive dieoff.

The views are astounding. The reasons are ridiculous.

I prefer to ride the backroads,but of course around here we only have one stoplight and very few roads wider than two lanes plus very few people care to come here(where I live).

In fact the Ky lake areas are not on the tourists lists anymore. Its in decline IMO and has been for some time.

Some of the best water to be found. Lake lots very cheap.

I don't understand all this beehiving activity. It means we will go the way of the honeybees.

Riding a motorcycle out on that madness is insanity. You spend all your time in defensive driving and avoiding those killer 18 wheelers and soccer moms with cellphones implanted in ear canal.

Life should not be spent in this manner but there you go.......

I might have one last trip in me down 24 and east on 40,across the smokies and back to the beehive in Raleigh,NC. One last roundtrip I might make in the jeep and thats it. Maybe not even that. Its too tiring. Its too much input. Its dangerous. Its boring.

As a teenager working on rods and drag racing them..who would've thought it would ever come to this sheer stupidity?

I have 3 VWs( 70's circa) in my barn awaiting my interest. 30+ mpg with no trouble. Will set them up for ethanol if I can. Just to preserve the myths of ye oldense dayse and the love of a simple engine in a simple body and the fun of working on it.



Oil shale technology was more than some untested theories.


Oil shale was already in use in Brazil and Estonia on a commercial scale. If the price of oil reaches much higher oil shale is one of the alternatives that might be brought into production.

If the price of oil reaches much higher oil shale is one of the alternatives that might be brought into production.

And that is what it always comes down to: higher prices.

Hello TODers,

Unfortunately, it appears very few books will accompany us on our accelerating Deathmarch to Olduvai Gorge:

Mo. man burns books as act of protest

"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.

"There are segments of this city where you go to an estate sale and find five TVs and three books," Leathem said.

"I think, given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Bechtel said. "(Wayne has) made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."

Ideally, he should have incinerated these books where some % of the energy could have been harvested, the pollutants scrubbed, and the ashes added to the soil somewhere. Also, I hope he saved any books that have to do with energy and future survivability.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I think one of the problems also is that there are too many people writing books. it just creates a lot of dross.

Reminds me of an old physics joke.

Someone said that the rate at which library shelf space was being taken up with physics journals would soon exceed the speed of light. This would not be inconsistent with the theory of relativity in that no information would be transmitted.

"Ideally, he should have incinerated these books where some % of the energy could have been harvested, the pollutants scrubbed, and the ashes added to the soil somewhere."

Actually, I have been thinking about that....here's how to think outside the box....

If I had a really well insulated small home with movable thermal shutters and good stove designed for it, and I have to commute near one of these used bookstore/book trading places....I could stop in every couple of weeks and buy a few cardboard boxes of cheap romance novels, serial sci fi novels (like the what, one of 500 "Star Trek" novels, Stephen King paperbacks etc, and burn them in my tight little abode for heat!

While no one believes in book burning, romance novels, Harry Potter paperbacks, cheap science fiction serials that are "pap" and have no real plot or story anyway and Stephen King novels would be no literary or philosophical loss, since so many millions of them are out there that if anyone wants to get a used copy they can do it for about 10 cents per book.

As the cost of natural gas and crude oil increase, the BTU cost of burning cheap paperbacks should cross under the cost of fossil fuel, and we would be converting our forests to cheap paperbacks and then to fuel!

Now if I could just figure out how to design a workable car that runs on cheap paperbacks......hmmm, boiler and Stirling engine maybe?

(There was a story in the 1970's about a guy who had a super insulated house with a woodstove, and then got himself on every junk mail list and catalog list he could, and was able to heat his home with junk mail! It did the country no good, carrying his fuel to him by postal truck, but he got by with beating the system, getting the mail order corporations and the U.S. Postal to pay for his heat and deliver it to him! :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom
(edited post: I had to fix the detail that I capitalized "Harry Potter" but forgot to capitalize "Star Trek"....how much more disrepectful of "Trekkies" would that have been! :-O

Hello ThatItImOut,

Your Quote: "(There was a story in the 1970's about a guy who had a super insulated house with a woodstove, and then got himself on every junk mail list and catalog list he could, and was able to heat his home with junk mail!"

LOL! Now that is clever thinking! I wonder if there is someway I could get free postal deliveries of beer samples. Especially when I cannot afford electricity to stay cool anymore. =)

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

LOL, I think you are on to something. Those cheap romance novels are hot and steamy to start with.

Hello TODers,

Political Preference Is Half Genetic
Obviously, it would take a lot more research, but I think it would be interesting if 'genetic keys' can be found to easily identify those who would easily embrace the political choice of PO + GW mitigation and cooperative community networking. This would make the rapid sequential building of Biosolar Habitats much easier.

Obviously, those genetically resistant to such new paradigm change would automatically constrain themselves by political choice to Hirsch's fifteen Detritovore States. Since they would generally be non-cooperative to rising stress from inevitable FF-depletion: they would quickly devolve internally to a very violent and high death rate.

Very simplified: could it be a method to voluntarily separate the peaceful 'Human Bonobos' among us from the cannibalistic 'Human Chimpanzees'?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Don't Bonobos have more, and longer, sex ?

Best Hopes for :-))


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Thxs for responding. In prior postings of yours: you mentioned the quality and variety of Nawlins' food, and how many former residents are now relocating back home because of the relative aloofness of the residents they encountered during their unfortunate Katrina Diaspora.

That sounds exactly like a subtle, voluntarily self-sorting NOLA 'Bonobo genetic mindset' to me [Real Bonobos trade food for sex]. Hopefully your city can leverage off this political-selection trend to repair itself more quickly. I will leave it up to your local Chamber of Commerce & Tourism to marketing enhance 'the more frequent, and longer sex aspects'. =)

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hopefully your city can leverage off this political-selection trend to repair itself more quickly

The half that have come back are the ones that truly love the city (others of course, are still stranded). And the level of civic involvement is truly astounding ! Everyone is trying to do SOMETHING !

And perhaps 10% of the volunteers that come down here fall in love with the city and are moving here.

OTOH, many of the drug dealers have returned as well to supply the new market. Every construction worker in Houston, Charlotte, Tampa, St. Louis, etc. who could not hold a job because of their "drug problem" has relocated here as well.

I will leave it up to your local Chamber of Commerce & Tourism to marketing enhance 'the more frequent, and longer sex aspects'. =)

And just *HOW* do you think we developed the nickname "The Big Easy" ?

We already have Bourbon Street ! :-)

Best Hopes for New Orleans,


PS: Are Bonobos also noted for their musical talent ? And their artistic grass nests/huts ?

could it be a method to voluntarily separate the peaceful 'Human Bonobos' among us

You just check for the Bonobo Handshake (tm).

Vote Bonobo. Vote often.

Hello TODers,

Palm oil puts squeeze on Asia's endangered orangutan

PALANGKARAYA, Central Kalimantan (Reuters) - Bound hand and foot, disheveled orangutans caught raiding Borneo's oil palm crops silently await their fate as a small crowd of plantation workers gather to watch.

Will the leaders of these countries go to full PO + GW Outreach in time to save the habitat of the orangutans? Will Earthmarines arise to protect AT ALL COSTS what remains of their ancient ecosystem? The planetary Thermo/Gene Collision path ahead could very well be decided right here in Indonesia and Malaysia in the next few years. Saving a few orangutans, but decimating their habitat would not be a viable solution, IMO.

Is Jay Hanson's Dieoff a true prediction?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Is Mexico now starting to unwind?

Housing Slump, Migrant Crackdown Cut Flows to Mexico, Hurt Peso

Decline Predicted: Morgan Stanley and Dresdner Kleinwort predict the Mexican peso will fall for a second straight year because of the slowdown in money transfers, a drop in oil production and weakening demand for the country's exports.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?