DrumBeat: June 10, 2007

Saudi Arabia: An ally we cannot afford to lose

Saudi Arabia is such a key country. Strategically, it not only straddles Africa and the Middle East but it is also an important neighbour of two of the major problem countries in the region - Iraq and Iran. Saudi Arabia's importance to the oil market, with one quarter of the world's oil reserves, speaks for itself. It is also a crucial market for British defence companies. advertisement

No less important, Saudi Arabia is at the very heart of Islam - a responsibility of which the Saudis are deeply conscious. If one billion people turned in prayer towards Canterbury every day we might feel the same.

Those who think Saudi Arabia should be more democratic and that we should push them in that direction are - to use a fashionable term - delusional. Saudi society is far too complex and too fissured for that to be a viable option any time soon.

Roger Bezdek on peak oil, global warming and Australia (podcast)

Dr. Roger Bezdek, president of Management Information Systems Inc. and co-author of the Hirsch report and its follow up, talks with GPM's Australian correspondent Andi Hazelwood about the Hirsch report 2 and a half years on, peak oil, global warming and his upcoming Australian speaking tour.

Should We Globalize Labor Too?

No region bought the Washington Consensus more avidly than Latin America. Yet for two decades, the growth of its per capita G.D.P. has hovered close to zero. Everyone expected the countries of the former Soviet Union to face transitional hardships, but their average economic contraction has been greater than that of the Great Depression and longer-lasting. Sub-Saharan Africa, despite decades of Western aid, has had little growth, more wars and new epidemics. Some big-name optimists remain, most notably Jeffrey D. Sachs, whose best-selling book, “The End of Poverty” (foreword by Bono), argues that the West knows how to end extreme poverty by 2025. But Pritchett is more typical of his peers when he says of the development record, “If that hasn’t been sufficient to beat the hubris out of you, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Hey, somebody noticed: AFL-CIO Calls on Iraq to Stop Threatening Workers in Oil Fields

The AFL-CIO has called on the Iraqi Government to immediately stop using the threat of force to intimidate workers in Basra oil fields. The American labor federation issued a joint statement with the British Trade Union Congress today calling on Iraq to “pull back its security and military forces and cease its menacing threats to arrest and attack these workers immediately.” In addition, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice urging her to use diplomatic channels “to convey to the Iraqi government that military intervention is not the way to resolve this dispute.”

Scramble to stem petrol rises

STATE Treasurer Michael Aird admits petrol prices in Tasmania could skyrocket as a result of his removal of a 2c-a-litre fuel subsidy in last week's Budget.

Parents and Health Experts Unite in Effort to Ease Pollution in Northern Italy

Tommaso Abbate, 16, found that the pollution levels at night in his living room were “really high” — 200 micrograms per cubic meter at one point. His home is along a busy thoroughfare, he said, and “we always open the windows.”

During his 24 hours wearing the monitor, his average exposure was 127 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization says a safe target for such particles is 10 micrograms per cubic meter.

Proposed ethanol pant would need water from city – lots of it

A proposed ethanol plant could use up to 1.5 million gallons of water each day - about the same amount used by 20,000 city residents.

Beauty and the plastic beast

In the garage, shed or basement of nearly every gardener, you will find stacks of plastic pots. Then there are mulch bags, pesticide and fertilizer bottles, flat trays from six-packs of annuals. We think of our gardening as greening the world, but it generates an awful lot of plastic garbage.

Full fields, empty tanks

Forget about high fuel prices. As harvest nears in western Kansas, the bigger concern is fuel supply. "I'm telling our producers to get their tanks full," said Pat Peterson, general manager of the United Plains Ag cooperative in Sharon Springs. "Supply is more important than price."

A shortage of diesel fuel supplies is the result of a combination of weather and maintenance problems at refineries and terminals in the region that have caused slowdowns in production and problems with delivery.

Iran threatens Gulf blitz if US hits nuclear plants

IRAN has threatened to launch a missile blitz against the Gulf states and plunge the entire Middle East into war if America attacks its nuclear facilities.

Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a senior defence adviser to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that Gulf states providing the US with military cooperation would be the key targets of a barrage of ballistic missiles.

Oil firms look East and to alternative sources of energy

Rob Routs, an executive director of Royal Dutch Shell Group, the world's second largest oil firm, told me the other day that the era of "easy oil", in which exploration and production costs were relatively low, was probably over, so it's unreasonable to expect the return of low oil prices any time soon.

Feds OK Wells on Colorado's Roan Plateau

Federal land managers on Friday authorized up to 1,570 new natural gas wells over the next 20 years on a 3,000-foot-high plateau prized for its energy reserves and its wildland qualities.

Fortune hunters eye Western Sahara oil riches

Following pressure from the UN and pro-Sahrawi activists, most serious oil companies pulled out of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. But now, a new group of fortune hunters is eying great financial opportunities in the probably oil-rich territory, ignoring international law. Investors from Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the US and Sweden hide behind a jungle of interwoven small companies.

Suncor Energy reports oil sands production numbers for May 2007

Suncor Energy Inc. reported today that production at its oil sands facility during May averaged approximately 270,000 barrels per day (bpd). Year-to-date oil sands production at the end of May averaged approximately 246,000 bpd.

Production began to ramp down during the end of May, as the oil sands facility prepared for a 50-day shutdown of one of its two upgraders. The shutdown, which is being completed to tie-in new facilities related to a planned expansion, will impact production rates during June and July. Suncor is targeting average oil sands production of 255,000 to 265,000 bpd in 2007. This production target was revised on April 26, 2007 from an original target of 260,000 to 270,000 bpd.

Cyclists peel off clothes to push pedaling, protest pump

Hundreds of naked cyclists, some sporting strategically-placed body paint, toured the streets of London and other cities around the world Saturday to protest oil dependency and the car culture.

Saudi Aramco to Glitz Up 75th Anniversary

Preliminary plans include staging a number of high-profile, world-class events and programs here and around the world. Specific events throughout the Kingdom during the anniversary year to mark the historic signing of the original Concession Agreement between the Kingdom and Standard Oil of California on May 29, 1933, will be announced as the countdown approaches. Activities will involve employees, retirees, company partners, among others.

Saudi-Indonesia Panel to Discuss Cooperation

Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have forged closer relations in different sectors. The two countries are working on a proposal to set up a joint refinery project in Indonesia, according to a recent report. Jakarta is preparing the project proposal for a new Saudi-Indonesian refinery, which will be submitted to Saudi Aramco soon.

EU and Turkey focus on energy cooperation

The European Union and Turkey are spotlighting their strategic energy cooperation in a bid to keep the lights on in Ankara's troubled bid for EU membership.

They staged a conference last week to underline the candidate state's growing importance as an energy bridge between Europe, the Middle East and the Caspian basin.

Maldives - Drivers' Strike: How The Government Made New Enemies

Malé drivers went on strike for three days last week in protest at the rising cost of fuel. For three days they peacefully occupied a platform in a constant vigil.

Pakistan: Teargassing by police as riots continue

While a large part of the city was severely crippled by an acute electricity outage on Saturday, people in at least two major commercial areas staged violent protests against the power crisis.

The protestors in main Saddar and Clifton areas, consisting mainly of traders and shopkeepers, vented their anger and resentment against prolonged power breakdowns during business hours, which was severely affecting their daily business.

Edwards touches on health care, Iraq in Exeter

Edwards said that people tend to think of issues facing the country, such as the war in Iraq, the energy crisis and health care, separately. But, he said, if people thought of them together and how each affects the other, they could find a solution.

For example, the use of alternative forms of energy would lessen the country's reliance on foreign oil to survive.

"If we reduce demand, the prices are going to go down," he said, adding, "These things are like dominoes, each influences the next."

The Great Biofuel Hoax: Touted by Politicians and Industry, “Green” Energy Comes with a High Price Tag

Myths of abundance divert attention from powerful economic interests that benefit from this biofuels transition, avoiding discussion of the growing price that citizens of the global South are beginning to pay to maintain the consumptive oil-based lifestyle of the North. Biofuel mania obscures the profound consequences of the industrial transformation of our food and fuel systems — the agro-fuels transition.

California's power play: Is renewable energy enough?

Stephen del Cardayre hopes to help solve the Earth's most challenging problem by studying some of its tiniest inhabitants.

He and his colleagues at San Carlos clean-energy start-up LS9 are on the hunt for a microbe in plant bacteria that could become a renewable fuel for California's cars - the state's single largest source of the pollution that causes global warming.

But even del Cardayre, as passionate and committed as he is, working for a company fueled by millions of dollars in venture capital and at the epicenter of Silicon Valley's fast-growing clean-technology industry, offers a sober assessment of the state's ambitious goals to fight global warming.

"There is definitely not a silver bullet," del Cardayre said.

Producing green power, greenbacks

Methane gas generated by, among other things, rotten oranges from the garbage of homes in Southwestern Ohio, moldy grapes from Northern Kentucky and smelly scraps from last weekend's barbecues in Southeastern Indiana - will be recycled and readied for natural-gas pipelines at the largest recovery plant of its kind in the world.

Kuwait seeks probe into rise in oil production costs

A parliamentary committee has asked Kuwait's Audit Bureau to investigate why the cost of oil production has tripled over the past six fiscal years, the head of the committee said Saturday.

...Al Shall Economic Consultants said in a report published Saturday that the production cost has increased from $1.40 a barrel in 2001 to $4.42 a barrel in 2007, growing by 18 percent annually on average.

...Al Shall attributed the rise to one of three possible reasons: that Kuwaiti oilfields have become too old thus making it difficult to control production costs; that additional unnecessary expenses are included in cost, or that the cost is being deliberately altered.

China May Halt Coal-to-Oil Projects

China is considering halting efforts to make oil from coal due to concerns about the expense and energy demands, a state news agency on Sunday quoted an official as saying.

Cyber warming: PCs produce same CO2 emissions as airlines

It takes around 1.8 tons of chemicals, fossil fuels and water to produce a PC, and its operation generates 0.1 tons of CO2 in a typical year. They last, on average for three years and, once junked, most are buried in landfill. The soil where they are buried can become polluted with cadmium and mercury.

Oil race at top of the world - As Russia pursues claim to huge Arctic reserves, U.S. is sidelined

If geologists at the Russian Research Institute for Ocean Geology and Mineral Resources are right, the Kremlin could add as many as 10 billion tons of Arctic oil and natural gas to reserves that already make Russia one of the world's most formidable energy powerhouses.

The Arctic's potential storehouse of oil and gas likely won't be tapped for decades. But Moscow is looking ahead to a time when depleted oil and natural gas fields will force energy suppliers to scour for new hydrocarbon sources, even if they're under the polar ice cap.

"Experts say that after 2016, oil production will drop tremendously," said Anatoly Opekunov, the institute's deputy director. "Every country, including Russia and the U.S., is thinking about this."

Russia's oil, gas resources sufficient to meet growing global demand - Total head

Russia's resources of hydrocarbons are large enough to meet the world's growing demand for oil and gas in 2007 to 2020, Christophe de Margerie, Total SA's head, said at the 11th International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg.

Oil shale — Colorado, Utah deposits rival OPEC reserve

"The breakthrough is that now the oil companies have a way of getting this oil out of the ground without the massive energy and manpower costs that killed these projects in the 1970s," said Pete Stark, an analyst at IHS Inc., an Englewood, Colo., research firm. "All the shale rocks in the world are going to be revisited now to see how much oil they contain."

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (review)

Remember that scene in "Serenity" when Mal asks Wash to clarify how their ship's landing might get "interesting" and Wash replied, "Oh god, oh god, we're all gonna die?" That's kind of the feeling one gets after watching "A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash," Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack's documentary on our dependence on oil and the possible ramifications for when the we enter the post-"peak oil" period, which may be right around the corner.

Changes by the barrelful

Oil markets are growing increasingly complex, affected by an array of factors — from changing benchmarks to the introduction of alternative fuels — that may redefine them in coming years.

For those of us who drive, the changes are likely to mean higher gasoline prices over the long term.

"It's not been a good thing for consumers," said Ray Carbone, president of Paramount Options.

Oil prices may hit $80 a barrel

Oil prices could surge to $80 a barrel this year because of tropical storms, rising demand for gasoline and disruptions in crude supplies from Nigeria, a senior Iranian oil official said on Sunday.

Going underground for a greenhouse gas solution

Known as the Frio Brine Project, the site is on the leading edge of Department of Energy-funded studies looking into carbon sequestration, the process of injecting CO2 — a byproduct of burning fossil fuels — deep into the ground.

Southeast Asia battles dengue surge, climate fears

Southeast Asian nations are battling a surge in dengue cases, amid signs that climate change could make 2007 the worst year on record for a disease that often gets less attention than some higher-profile health risks.

Senators to begin work on energy measure

With consumers continuing to grumble about high gasoline prices, the Senate plans to take up an energy conservation package next week that would force automakers to churn out more fuel-efficient cars and require motorists to use more renewable fuels.

Swan Song for the Democrats for Supporting the Iraq War

A progressive platform should also include a plan to nationalize the oil industry. The record profits from oil production should be going into infrastructure, education and alternate fuels – -not fattening the foreign banks accounts of obscenely rich oil moguls. In an age of resource scarcity, we cannot allow the market to decide who will get access to the energy that everyone needs to maintain minimal standards of living.

We've already seen how big oil is willing to use our children as cannon fodder in their wars of aggression. We've also seen how much effort they put into confusing the public on crucial issues such as global warming. (They've pumped millions of dollars into bogus science and misleading public relations campaigns to keep the people from understanding the truth about "man-made" climate change) The oil industry operates without a conscience putting its bottom line above the very survival of the species. The best thing to do is "return the favor" by seizing the industry – Hugo Chavez style – and putting it to work for the people it is supposed to serve. If the oil executives still want to continue the fight for Iraqi oil; we should provide them with sidearms and Kevlar vests and turn them lose in Baghdad. Let them fend for themselves – everyone else comes home.

Request for Info on Ethanol Incentives and Biomass Sources

I need to gather some information. I know that some of you will be quite knowledgeable about certain aspects of what I am looking for. I was in London this weekend (found myself standing next to Jesse Jackson at one point) having a look at a promising cellulosic ethanol technology. I will not go into details, because they don’t want to release details yet, but they have asked for my assistance in developing a business plan and helping work through technical hurdles. It is not the first time I have been asked to do something like this. It probably isn’t even the 100th. But there have only ever been 2 or 3 that I saw and thought “This could be something.” And this could in fact be something. It is an entirely unique approach to the cellulosic ethanol problem – and I have no doubt that this technology will handily beat the economics and energy returns of the current cellulosic plants being built.

Here is what I am looking for. While this technology already looks like it could compete right now on equal footing with corn, corn ethanol has been heavily subsidized. My counsel is that it would be very wise – looking mid to long term – to first determine who – states, federal governments, and/or foreign countries – are offering incentives for locating a cellulosic ethanol plant. It doesn’t have to be limited to incentives for cellulosic ethanol, but again it has to compete with the established corn guys. There are certain areas of the country – such as the coasts, where I think this can beat the corn guys right now. But you look first to the incentives that are being offered and take advantage of those (not to say I have changed my mind about these subsidies; I still think this system is incredibly inefficient and attempts to pick technology winners).

The second think I need to know is where there are massive quantities of biomass coming into a point source. The New York City dumps have always seemed like good candidates. But I don’t know if there are far better sources (quantity, uniformity) of biomass. For all I know New York recycles all of their paper and there isn’t much biomass to be processed at their dump. (I doubt it, though). An additional benefit would be to find waste biomass that currently requires tipping fees for disposal.

So, to summarize I am looking for 1). Who is offering attractive incentives for cellulosic ethanol?; and 2). Where are very high volume sources of biomass coming into point sources? Again, I ask that you don’t request specific details, here or through e-mails. If you want to speculate, that’s fine. I think this has enough potential that tomorrow I am going to lobby my company to allow me to assist. If we can come to an agreement that this specific application does not present a conflict of interest or an ethical issue, I will be working with these guys. If not, then maybe a wink and a nod can put them on the right path.

What This Is Not

One thing I want to address is that this is absolutely not a silver bullet. What it is, I believe, is something that could be a significant silver BB. I think this technology could be used to realistically displace a fair fraction of our gasoline usage. But we are still talking about less than 50% in all probability. Even if this works out to the most optimistic forecasts, we are still going to have to conserve in a major fashion.

Personal Note:

In 10 days, I will be reunited with my family for the first time in 5 months. At that time, I will be taking an extended break from writing. I have some time that I must make up, so instead of coming home from work and writing, I am going to make a point not to write, and use that time to experience Scotland with my family. It is an understatement to say that the past 5 months have been the most difficult of my life. If you have children, you can imagine what it would be like to spend 5 months apart. My heart goes out to those in the military who are routinely separated from their children. I have filled the void in my life by writing, and I have been on a rampage for the past 5 months. But the void is about to be filled by family, and I doubt I will ever again participate in the same way that I once did.

Good that you have your family back and good that you plan to take off and spend time with them. You will never regret spending time with your family.

You say that this technology could displace less than 50%. Well, 49% would be a definite signal we don't have to conserve. I think the United States, at least, is very much subject to Say's law, supply creates its own demand. Provide the fuel and they will come, with their SUVs, their Hummers, their Tundras, their ORVs, their snowmobiles. If what you say is true, this will have a major impact on prices, which will have, unfortunately, a major impact on demand.

You also have not said what the carbon impact of this technology would be and guess you can't or won't. As a certified member of the anti global warming crowd, any bullet or bb, regardless of its abundance, is a loser if it does not address the ghg issue.

Regardless of whether or not this cuts into oil, if it just lets us continue happy motoring into the indefinite future, I think one needs to be skeptical that this is another faustian bargain.

But then, we have no details, so I guess we just have to wait until all is revealed.

You seem to be mainly talking about biomass that would otherwise be land filled. If that is the main source, that sounds better than harvesting our grass, prairie land, conservation areas, and forests.

What you say seems to support the view of GM CEO wagoner who says that biofuels are the great hope for the future of the autombile industry, cutting oil consumption, and dealing with global warming. This will encourage those who have no intention of doing anything serious about consumption.

One thing is for damn sure, anyway, this probably beats the crap out of CTL, something that's getting a lot of support in congress right now, including the notable Obama.

You also have not said what the carbon impact of this technology would be and guess you can't or won't.

You know me. If this didn't appear to address all of my major concerns, I would not have glanced in their direction. I had exchanged dozens of e-mails with them and seen a lot of details before I agreed to go and check it out.

It is basically just cellulosic ethanol, but with a very unique twist. The EROEI is going to beat corn ethanol - which probably beats current state of the art cellulosic technology by a long shot. And it isn't going to mean cheap fuel, or abundant fuel. It will just mean "another source of fuel." And we need some fuel, especially renewable fuel.

But even though it does appear to me to be something special, the way my brain works is that I am constantly turning it over and over and thinking "What have I missed." But that's the reason they said they came to me. In fact, they said that when they were working on a business plan, they kept hitting on some of the ethanol essays I have written. That's when they decided to see if it could pass my skeptical sniff test.

If you ever get in the position, keep this idea close to yourself and develop an impeccable line of reasoning, use Hemp. It produces tons of fibre and is easily grown with low input in terms of farming and fertilizer. (it is a weed afterall)

I question the unique twist. What is it? Watch out for hidden extra energy inputs not documented. It's good they are reaching out.

Can you keep us updated?

I question the unique twist. What is it? Watch out for hidden extra energy inputs not documented. It's good they are reaching out.

I would love to tell everyone about it. Hopefully I can before too long. I can honestly say that I had never heard anyone propose this before. I said "That's freaking brilliant." Don't worry about hidden inputs. You have no idea how paranoid I am that I will miss something, and skeptical of ever claim.

Oh, and hemp was definitely discussed (but not smoked). Hemp has a further advantage in that it produces oil.

I think my request will be a standalone thread later in the day. That way I can easily keep up with suggestions.

Is the process capable of using a variety of cellulosic material? Other than forests, and I really hate to see us go there, I really think if there is a promising cellulosic process (and I also hope it doesn't involve bacterial gene splicing), that it needs to be on a smaller local scale which would use a variety of materials, specific to the region, or most usefully, city. This would help lessen the logistical transport problems both of the raw material and of the product. Currently, every city collects tons of leaf waste, grass clippings, brush and branches, much cellulosic waste goes down garbage disposals, and enormous amounts of lumber and other left over building materials go into land fills, etc. Storm damage unique to a region can produce tons of cellulosic waste, as well. Since Bloomberg's on a roll, start with a plant near a NYC landfill. Perhaps regional farms could add appropriate waste products, as well. I am curious whether this process would require dry storage of the material. If not, that could be a big hurdle out of the way. Anyway, thanks for giving of your time to yet another project inquiry and good luck.

NYC landfill was a theme I kept coming back to. Right now these landfills a leaking loads of methane into the atmosphere - and we know that it is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. It seems like a win all the way around to me.

No gene-splicing to my knowledge. But one of my vulnerabilities here is that there is a part of the process I have not seen. This is a black box to me, and I have told them that it is important that I take that box apart. This is the only thing that keeps me from saying "This is truly revolutionary." There could be a perpetual motion machine hiding in there, but I think I can sniff out a fake pretty well. These guys did know their stuff.

and we know that it is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2

Recall methane is a feedback enhancement, not a primary, mechanism. The reason is the timescale... methane content is more or less a function of other parameters due to its short equilibration time. The reason CO2 is so significant is its longer time scale. See the intro articles on
RealClimate for more detail.

"Methane is transient in the atmosphere, so if the anthropogenic source stays constant, the methane concentration stays constant. This is different from CO2, which accumulates. Methane is well-mixed in the troposphere. Gets oxidized by OH in the troposphere and zapped by UV light in the stratosphere. Gases don't sink out very much in the atmosphere because it circulates so quickly. You can measure gravitational settling of gases in stagnant columns of air like in firn above ice cores, but in the atmosphere, gases don't really settle out. The atmospheric measurements are straightforward, replicated, reliable."

--David Archer on RealClimate


Natural methane may be a feedback mechanism, but rice paddies, landfills and pipeline leaks are not.  If we can reduce atmospheric methane by turning landfill gas into electricity and feeding our livestock differently, that's changing a human greenhouse contribution.

Methane is transient in the atmosphere, so if the anthropogenic source stays constant, the methane concentration stays constant.

On the other hand, if the anthropogenic source were to lessen, then the concentration would lessen, wouldn't it?

That's very true... unlike with CO2 there is no significant delay hence methane doesn't accumulate in the way CO2 does. I don't remember the residence time for CO2 in the atmosphere, but ...(google)... it's about a century for CO2 and about a decade for CH4. The latter figure is long enough for CH4 to be well mixed and short enough that even with increased input the effective sinks keep the concentration in equilibrium. The response (eq conc as a fn of forcing) is nonlinear, but in this case the nonlinearity is stabilising (i.e., you don't get explosive growth without a catastrophic event).

Those interested should google on these things a bit, there is lots of interesting stuff on the net. It is easy to stick to scientific (or just multiple) sources.


I'm not sure forests cannot generate point source biomass. A new craze in Australia is 'fuel reduction burning' http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,20934343,00.html to reduce the intensity of wildfires. Rather than torch the undergrowth perhaps it could be mechanically harvested and rendered by pyrolysis. This could help the parks service in different ways
1) the forest gets its historical thinning
2) they won't get sued for medical bills by asthmatics
3) the fire can't escape and burn houses

The Eucalypt forest on the eastern coast of Australia is adapted for (by 60,00 years of fire-stick farming by the Aboriginal inhabitants) and now requires regular burn offs. This removes the dry bark and undergrowth, which has built up over a five or so year period and removes a lot of the insect parasites. The burns offs are done on calm winter days and cause some temporary smoke haze and very little inconvenience and zero damage to the trees of ecology.

When idiots insist on it not being done, due to ignorance and NIMBYism, the biomass builds up you get massive dangerous fires that kills people and the trees.

It would be almost impossible economically or physically to harvest this biomass and the turn it in to ethanol – it is far too dispersed in the trees and shrubs.

It looks like L.A. would be the winner....

I think this issue may be settled, unless anyone can come up with a better option than Los Angeles.....

Los Angeles produces 8,000 tons of garbage every day. With limited landfill space, LA was an early pioneer of curbside recycling. Currently, 62 per cent of waste is diverted from landfills and the goal is to increase that percentage to 70 per cent by 2015 through increased recycling programs and proposals to divert green waste to ethanol production facilities.

www.lacity.org/mayor/indexright/ mayorindexright243045238_05152007.pdf
“Shift from Waste Disposal to Resource Recovery. Recycle 70% of trash by 2015

Catalyze the Growth of the Green Economic Sector

Promote local research, development and production of green technology

Strengthen global economic relationships to secure investment in Los
Angeles’ green sector and help environmentally-focused companies
penetrate local and foreign markets

Identify locations for green businesses and offer effective incentives for the
growth of these businesses

Train residents of low and middle income communities, local university
students and participants in adult education programs for jobs in the green

There is a bit of an “Alternative Dialy Cover” controversy going on in LA, as Waste Management and some other waste disposers have been allowed to put a certain amount of “green waste” they collect on landfills as “ground cover” and get credit for it as though it were not being disposed of at landfills. Apparently, this system has been abused as they have used it as a method of waste dumping for green waste that they cold not otherwise easily dispose of. What this means in practical terms is that LA actually has more “green waste” for other use than the stats have been making it look like.

Given the market size of L.A. for llquid fuel, it's long history of support for "green" industries, top notch education system, and closeness to massive venture capital and investment possibilities, I can't imagine a better place.
And I am from Kentucky, so if anything I would be biased against L.A.

But fair is fair, they win the first consideration, hands down.

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

Where are very high volume sources of biomass coming into point sources?

Does sewage count?

I don't think the cellulose content will be high enough.

If it has to be cellulose...Japan is using rice husks.

There are quite a few high cellulose wastes from food production.

Husks of grains, seeds and nuts or pulp from some juice/oil pressing (apple has fairly high cellulose, as does seed pulp) might be worth checking out.

not very sustainable, your taking a substance that was traditionally put in the compost heap so it can be returned to the land so you can continue to grow things. if you don't your not going to be growing very much past the second year without massive fossil fuel inputs from fertilizer.

I have already sent you information on a low cost energy source to distill low proof ethanol. Do you need more information ?

They may also have limited quantities of tree thinning biomass.

Best Hopes,



Abundant, renewable biomass is the key. The distillation at this time is of secondary concern. I would love to find a location that a lot of biomass is flowing into for disposal.

Perhaps they have something here for ya

(via the gassifyer mailing list gasification@listserv.repp.org)

What about sugar cane bagasse ? Close to water transportion as well.


Some Louisiana industrial incentives and a domestic (in state) ethanol incentives passed a couple of years ago from memory.


Bagasse was discussed at length. In fact, probably more than any other source. I would like to know what the true bagasse waste picture is in Louisiana.

I will check next week.


BTW, downriver barges use a bit over 200 BTUs per ton-mile. Add a quarter to that # since they do not go in a straight line (only a/c can) but a 25% penalty over rail & truck.

Upriver "varies" but double that # for first estimates.

Being close to good rail connections and water transportation will be key post-Peak Oil.


How about the leftovers from papermills or wood-product or paper-product manufacturers?

Maybe a specialized "industrial park" that only allows facilities that will be producing cellulose wastes and has conveyors or train cars or something that haul it away for free to the central ethanol processing plant?

In other words, don't go to them - bring them to you.

Greg in MO

There are no leftovers from papermills. Everything is either made into paper or burned for steam and power generation.

Some of my favorite memories are from our trip in 1990 to Scotland and Yorkshire, especially exploring the tidal ponds at Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire.

A song that rings true to this father of a 25 year old graduate student--who only "yesterday" promised me that she would always stay three years old:

(Malvina Reynolds, Harry Belafonte & Allen Greene)

Where are you goin' my little one, little one?
Where are you goin' my baby my own?
Turn around and you're two
Turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young girl
Going out of the door

Turn around
Turn around
Turn around and you're a young girl
Going out of the door

Where are you goin' my little one, little one?
Little Dirndles and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you're tiny
Turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young wife
With babes of your own

Turn around
Turn around
Turn around and you're a young wife
With babes of your own

Turn around
Turn around
Turn around and you're a young girl
Going out of the door

Where are you goin' my little one, little one?
Where are you goin' my baby my own?

You might contact the major timber companies in the US and Canada to find locations where there are active sawmills that do not have access to a pulp chip market and do not already have a biomass cogeneration plant. The lodgepole pine region in the interior northwest might have a lot of opportunities with all of the bark beetle outbreaks in low value timber.


The timber companies are definitely an option, but I didn't know if they have a large enough volume of truly waste material. That would provide the best EROEI. If we have to start cutting down and chipping standing trees, I think the advantage could be lost. Not certain, but looks that way to me.

Right now the timber companies in Texas leave the limbs and needles/leaves to rot on the ground, same way with people bulldozing mesquete. If an economic incentive is high enough, I'm sure the companies would bring it in. but it would be a lot more labor and some capital expense for wood chippers and trucks.

"Right now the timber companies in Texas leave the limbs and needles/leaves to rot on the ground,"

Which is where it belongs. Most of the plant nutrients that are embodied in a tree are in the smaller limbs/twigs, and leaves/needles. They need to go back into the soil. Unless of course, you don't plan on growing trees there sustainably.


First bit of reason I have seen on this article. Don't see any comment about this from Robert.

As well I would think that this process would need to be a lot cheaper than current oil prices, otherwise we just use it and oil as usual. It would have to beat production cost of oil otherwise they would just reach a point of equilibrium and we get increased CO2 and the business of growth as usual.

If I am wrong about this I would truly appreciate seeing where my thinking is incorrect.

The tallgrass prairie developed its rich soil in spite of, or perhaps even because of, regular fires which destroyed most of the above-ground organic matter.  All the soil got back was the ash, containing mostly the potassium and phosphorus (also sodium, silica, etc).  Grazing also took most of the organic matter away, returning mostly the elemental nutrients.

I don't see any great difference between burning, grazing and cutting for bio-energy extraction so long as those essential elements are recycled or replaced.  Do you have evidence (not handwaving or mysticism) to the contrary?

Grazing also took most of the organic matter away, returning mostly the elemental nutrients.

Engineer-Poet, come on you can do better than that.

Just go MOOO and figure out where you would, as a buffalo, stop going MOOO, or just go POO for that matter and consider the tiger lilies of those fields.

About taking most of the organic matter away by fire even if I agree that every year the prairies would burn to the ground and leave nothing but a little white ash, there still would be that white ash. There isn't if you take it away and burn it a thousand miles away in your SUV.

If you have ever set any fires in the prairies and as a kid, my friends and I did ... scared the bejesus out of us at times, getting them put out again, there was lots of carbon besides ash left.

As well I guess you never heard of roots, as a few days later all would be green and growing again, a little carbon lost to the air which would be snorted up little green leaf noses in short order. Okay there you are, no hand waving, no mystical passes, just the nature of things.

... even if I agree that every year the prairies would burn to the ground and leave nothing but a little white ash, there still would be that white ash. There isn't if you take it away and burn it a thousand miles away in your SUV.

I'll spell this out for you, because you're slow:

The chemical formula of ethanol is C2H6O.  It consists solely of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  If you process biomass, remove ethanol and return the rest, none of the potassium or phosphorus leaves with the product.

Depending on this processing, it may yield yeast as a byproduct.  This could be used as feed, and wind up as... manure!  Now, what's the difference again?

As well I guess you never heard of roots

I guess you can't read, because I clearly wrote "fires which destroyed most of the above-ground organic matter."

It's clear that you can write grammatically, but you do not take the care required to understand even semi-complex sentences.  If you can't do better, you should give up trying to participate.

Try answering my original question, William S. Not only do you call us kettles black in misreading mine(and possibly deliberately so) but you do it without style. We will not talk of your grammar, as I do not wish to put you to that added embarrassment.

As far as your argument for ethanol, unless of course there is real magic and not just hand waving and arcane and mystical knowledge inherent in Robert's system, it does not sing truly as does the prairie Meadow Lark (can't find many of these little fellers anymore; they are likely drunk in a ditch somewhere from all the ethanol). Maybe you should catch up on things -- I would suggest you try MSM, they don't tax the imagination.

Try answering my original question...

What original question?  You posted in agreement with sgage, who said that biomass should be allowed to rot on the ground instead of being tapped for its energy.  I said that the energy could be tapped off so long as the elements were returned, and offered fire and grazing as examples.  You've been offering bull instead of counterexamples right up to your last comment.

... William S.

Either you have mistaken me for someone else (laughably), or you are making a very lame attempt at obscure references.

As far as your argument for ethanol

I think ethanol is only going to be a bit player, which you would know if you had read what I've written on the subject.  But I already had you pegged as slow.

unless of course there is real magic and not just hand waving and arcane and mystical knowledge inherent in Robert's system

So let me get this straight:

  • Robert is not the developer of this system.  Robert is someone the developers approached because of his knowledge.
  • Robert says that the developers of this system have a "black box" they have not yet let him see inside.  In other words, even he doesn't know for sure yet.
  • Robert does not countenance mysticism in energy policy (just read him, if you can get your comprehension up to par).
  • Despite this, you think it's Robert's system and there has to be "real magic" involved or it can't work.

Based on straight First Law considerations, I'm inclined to agree that the prospects are limited compared to what petroleum supplies now.  However, until I've seen some figures I have nothing to object to.  You don't seem to have any use for figures; quelle surprise.

it does not sing truly as does the prairie Meadow Lark

So after condemning someone else using words like "arcane" and "mystic", you get all metaphorical.  Hey, a little irony is good for the blood.

The best source of Biomass I am personally aware of is the thousands of acres of dead lodge pole pine trees due to the pine beetle in Colorado. For example, start Googling beetle kill in Grand County and you will be amazed.

Yes, but if they need a source of fresh water nearby as well as dead trees, they could go for the Great Lakes region. In SE Michigan all of our Ash trees are dying, and the chips are currently being sent to a cogeneration plant in Flint MI to be burned for electricity. There must be small mountains of wood chips up there.

At the moment, I bet the State of Michigan and the City of Flint would fall over themselves providing incentives. Heck, Ford & GM might even kick in money to demonstrate their commitment to ethanol.


Some 30% of the municipal waste collected in the greater Los Angeles area is "green waste", plant cuttings, and grass. It is all plant matter and it is picked up separately in green bins. The City of Los Angeles mulches it and tries to sell it, but I have heard that the majority of it goes into land-fills anyway. Thirty percent of about 13 million peoples garbage seems to me to be a pretty hefty source of biomass. Since it is being collected already, you'd only have to redirect it to your desired point of collection.
That's about all the details I have, it's not my line of business.


That's exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. A large source of biomass near large population centers (demand) on the coasts. I think this is ideal. Thanks for that.

And the fact that green waste is driven to a collection point and taken away by truck is just a bonus - think carefully about fuel inputs in that scenario (including how that waste is produced), though an oil company would likely be interested in such a 'renewable' cycle - it certainly isn't a major disruption of how people currently live in LA, and leads to profits based on the efforts of those delivering the biomass for free (or even a fee) - who buy fuel.

Nice to see how much we won't have to change how we live in such a scenario.

But you hit upon why I am looking for something already coming to a location for disposal, or originating at location and needed to be disposed of. The fuel inputs are there regardless. And of course we will, as I said, still have to change the way we live.

The point about fuel input is seriously meant, though. It is certainly true that the energy currently expended will not change - and that fuel would be gained. I do a very low grade of this - seeing if any landscaping firms/orchard owners have dropped off worthwhile wood like cherry or beech or willow or poplar at a local green waste point about a mile from where I work, thus combining driving with fuel collection.

But the fact is, that fossil fuel is burnt, and is an integral part of my 'dual use' wood collection/commute - as much of the current green waste is just a reflection of suburbia's taste in plants - mainly grass, with some bushes and flowers thrown in.

If you have a fairly integrated cycle already - where the local compost collected at a town center is again spread out over the farmfields outside of town, there isn't actually all that much available for fuel - at least in terms of long term sustainability. Biodiesel can be a direct replacement for farm equipment with today's infrastructure, using local fuel for harvesting a region's crops - but ethanol merely sustains the current gasoline based transport system, pushing change into the future.

Ethanol has better uses than being burned as fuel. And burning something means always finding a replacement.

Not sure if it has been commented on but waste oil is huge.

Right now there are some entrepreneurs on a smallish scale who make the circuit of large operators(farmers who rent and lease ag land) just to pick up their waste oil. Oil left from the many changes that occur. We/he normally has a 55 gal or large drum it all goes in(seems about 100 gal to me) and they make the circuit. Pretty much pick it up for free. What they do with it I do not know.

However recycling waste oil must be a big business somewhere.

If its already in the 'circle' of reuse then never mind but I am wondering how much just gets dumped away somewhere.


Waste motor oil is full of heavy metals. Two uses are making concrete and heating asphalt. In both cases, if properly done, the heavy metals are trapped in the concrete or asphalt.

Low cost fuel for the companies.

Some garages have bought waste oil heaters for winter use. I think the metals just "go" out.

Little is recycled into new motor oil AFAIK.

Thanks for Thinking !


Biomass should go to making compost not fuel. In the long run this is little better than turning food into fuel and totally ignores the desperate state of the soil we all depend upon for life.

It reminds me of the quote at the top of the page:

“Of all races in an advanced stage of civilization, the American is the least accessible to long views… Always and everywhere in a hurry to get rich, he does not give a thought to remote consequences; he sees only present advantages… He does not remember, he does not feel, he lives in a materialist dream.”

Moiseide Ostrogorski (1902, 302-303)

Turning biomass into fuel to continue running today's ridiculous economy for the benefit of making money is exactly the type of mentality that the above quote was admonishing.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Biomass should go to making compost not fuel.

Trust me. Or don't. I swear some of you must think I just fell off a turnip truck.

Robert, it's not a matter of trust, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Firstly, if we used our existing energy sources with common sense and wisdom, then we have plenty of energy for many generations. Obviously this is not going to happen, what we have will be frivolously used up going about business as usual.

So what are these new energy sources such as biomass for? Obviously, they're needed to buoy existing energy sources which are being frivolously used up and depleting excessively as a result. In other words, new energy sources are required so we can go about business as usual. But, business as usual is the problem, not the energy sources to maintain it.

So, is there a case for new energy sources? Yes, I think so. There are people with common sense and wisdom that will need energy once the "business as usual" crowd have burnt all the FFs and generally wrecked the place. But how do you stop the "business as usual" wonks and their corporations from getting their hands on it and using it to further degrade our life support systems? Some kind of "open source" way of producing energy perhaps?

Isn't throwing a new process into the existing system just laying another paving slab on the way to hell? Allowing the existing economic system to have the wherewithal to produce energy from biomass fills me with foreboding. What we need is a different way of living, not another new method of exploiting our struggling ecosystem.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Allowing the existing economic system to have the wherewithal to produce energy from biomass fills me with foreboding.

Well, if you prefer, tar sands and CTL are waiting in the wings. If you don't think we will turn to them in desperation as oil depletes, then I think you are sadly mistaken. Environmental concerns will go right out the window.

What we need is a different way of living...

And if you were dictator, you could realize that. If I could have policy changes enacted without political interference, I could cause that to happen. But you have to work within the system we have in place (unless you plan to overthrow it). And I have warned and warned and warned that the next source we will turn to for liquid fuels - and believe me we will - is coal.

Wow! RR promoting ethanol.

I must have slipped into that opposite universe where RR has a gotee :-)

But honestly, it must at least superficially be a decent idea. I look forward to more details but of course remain skeptical till then.

Heh...I wonder how many got the ST first gen reference :)

Biomass should go to making compost not fuel.

Biomass can do both ya know.

Composting is where you lower the overall emergy level by feeding bacteria/fungi. You can do this fast
http://www.magicsoil.com/ http://www.jetcompost.com/
Vermiposting Or the windrows/a pile that sits for a year or 2.

To extract the energy you can feed your scraps to chickens/pigs, feed magots/worms, toss into a digester and capture the gas, or heat it up and capture the outgassing to burn. The heating up doesn't have to go to completion - the biochar could help lower atmospheric Carbon over long periods of time.

In all of the above extractions, you have food for you, food for other critters, or gas to burn. Ot you can just feed some microbes.

But human ag has a problem. The crops leave the land, go to the city and are not returned to the land. The P in pee is an example.

I wonder if this is sutainable. I'm sure that grass in Los Angeles is maintained with a lot of water and fertiziler - two substances that the wonks on this site have suggesed will be in short supply in the future; so such an operation will have a very finite lifetime.

James Gervais
Hope was the last ill to escape Pandora's box.

Most medium and large cities that I have lived in do have laws or regulations requiring the separation of "yard" waste, including scrap wood, from the normal garbage stream. I live in the city of St. Louis, USA and for every two or three dumpters (2 cubic yard) of trash we have one dumpter of yard or organic waste. In the summer time these yard waste dumpters get picked up as often as the trash (once a week); then less so in the winter time.

Most of this organic waste is collected at various places in the city and mulched for use along roads or given away to anybody that wants it. They have far more than they can use so I don't know where the balance goes.

My guess is that a metro area the size of St Louis would generate several thousand tons of this material every week. For example, every week my father fills one or two garbage cans with 25 to 50 lbs of yard waste from his one acre property. If he is average and you multiply this by 250,000 homes, you get 3100-6200 tons per week. Just my rough estimate for a metro area of 2.4 million people.

They require us to separate it out in Scotland as well, but I don't know what they do with it.

Meant to say "dumpster" as in trash container, not "dumpter".

Try grants.gov for one source...they have a number of incentive grants for cellulosic ethanol posted now, due in August.

I think this technology could be used to realistically displace a fair fraction of our gasoline usage. But we are still talking about less than 50% in all probability.

I don't understand this at all. The USDA "Billion Ton" study identified at most 1.3 billon tons of biomass that we could remove from the environment every year (though frankly, reading the report carefully, you will quickly realize both how unsustainable this is and what ecological havoc it would wreak). Converted entirely to ethanol, it would provide about 3 mmb/d of gasoline equivalent. That's one-third current consumption. The 1.3 billion tons is also equivalent to 17-20% of the net primary productivity of the entire United States. Is that the environmental future you imagine here?

20% was my back of the envelope. That is exactly what I told them - a possible 20% gasoline displacement. They were disappointed because they thought it would be higher. And I hate to keep on with the cloak and dagger, but this is absolutely sustainable - the way I will advise them to do it. I am working on the basis of actual yields here, and as I told someone just now by e-mail, there are terra preta implications. And that is all I am going to say.

Have I seemed to be a gullible sort up until now? I know that some (ethanol) people question my motives - because I usually tear this kind of stuff to shreds. But my hope is that we do find some sustainable solutions, and I always have an eye out for the high potential ones. This is one - but I do see vulnerabilities yet to be fully addressed.

Have I seemed to be a gullible sort up until now?

Umm...yes. :-)

IIRC, you were far more enthusiastic about the turkey parts plant, ethanol from sugar came, algae, cellulosic, and other such things than many here. And you seem to have come around on those things.

I suspect receding horizons will apply. There was nothing wrong with the turkey parts idea...on paper.

I still think ethanol from sugar cane, managed correctly, is fine. Algae was way overblown. Turkey parts was a pretty secretive process, and you I never commented on it without skepticism. And cellulosic is what it is. It has potential. If we can pull the CO2 out of the atmosphere and into the plants, get that carbon out and turn it into something useful, and do this without pulling everything else out of the soil, then that would be great. But nothing to date has come close to this (and had the requisite decent energy balance).

Remember, I have been working with cellulose since grad school. I have been skeptical of cellulose since grad school. That doesn't mean that I can't see the potential there. And I have taken a look at the engine on the one I am talking about. I just haven't yet seen what's inside the engine.

If the input is based upon fossil fuels, and you utilize the output you can never replace the input with said output.

I know you know. And this is actually a great development, we are closing the 'waste' loop. We are converting waste into something which is profitable.

This is the beginning of TRUE sustainability (outputs redirected at inputs). I also want to point out stuff like... recycling scrap yards in china for computer parts! (higher ppm of Ag, Au, and Cu than commercial ores!)

My guess is the cellulose is liquefied, and used as the medium for heat transport in a solar concentrator. Heat transport allows steam generation to turn a turbine or generator. After repeated heating and cooling (heating in the concentrator, cooling in the generator), the cellulose is much easier to convert into sugars.

If it's being liquified I wanna know how. Cellulose is the same thing as fibre. It would be like turning all bran cereal into water. I could see some kind of gel, but liquified?

Regarding who gives big subsidies, this is a link to a report by the Global Subsidies Initiative. There are tables in this report that may be of help.

Thank you Gail that is very interesting indeed.


I'd suggest with the stranglehold that corn ethanol has over the US marketplace, that it would be sensible to look elsewhere for development. Too many vested political interests ready to trip things up.

Specifically, I would look at the EU and the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) as a way of both funding development work, and making the connections that allow scalable development into EU businesses/industry. Is a great excuse for making the connections, and being supported in doing it.

First calls of this are out now, and one of the thematic priorities is "Renewable fuel production". Of course, there is bureaucracy, but there is also a total of 2.3 billion euro in funding for the energy theme as a whole.

Let us know if you need specific pointers.

Hi Robert,

I am not sure if you are considering only USA.

Toronto has a pretty troublesome situation with landfill waste. Currently, Michigan will stop taking the waste in next couple years, and while they are working on new landfills solutions, EVERYTHING is on the table.

The region is looking at everything from buying new landfill sites to burning the waste.

Local, provincial and Federal governments have incentives for such developments in renewables fuels.

Toronto City Council is expected Wednesday to renew a $36 million (U.S.) contract to send some 800,000 tons of trash per year to Carleton Farms Landfill in southern Wayne County's Sumpter Township.

The contract ensures the daily convoy of solid waste will keep on rolling 500 miles, round trip, every day into Michigan and inflame passions on one of the state's most emotional environmental issues.
The city also is about to launch a five-year study to research alternatives to landfills, such as incineration or biological treatment. The project will cost $3 million to $4 million (U.S.).

From a April 2005 article.

500 mile roundtrip for the trucks, 800,000 tons per year diverted to Michigan alone. And that is merely a fraction of the region's many diversions of waste.

Could find out more details if you want.


I'm going to stick this here since it is very late in the day and you might not even read it.

What I am struck by is that the process does not appear to economically scaleable but rather is highly capital intensive to be vialble requiring vast inputs of point-source material.

I would argue that it is a losser from a volume point of view if it can't be used in, say, a community of 100k or less people.


I reckon that Brazil's cane ethanol process is mature, and I know it's touted as sustainable. I wonder if they return the cellulose to the land? There's certainly a bunch of it being hauled to centers, AND they have an infrastructure to distribute ethanol at exactly that spot. Might not be as big a money-maker, but preventing oil use there would free up more elsewhere.... at a cheaper price, and subject to Jevons' paradox, but oh well.

I'm skeptical, but delighted that they have a really savvy skeptic like you taking a look at it. Good luck!


Sen Nelson, right here in the Cornhusker state, has proposed this legislation:

Not sure if this is the kind of thing you're looking for, maybe worth a look.

Grass seed straw has been a problem in the Oregon for decades. Thousands of tons are disposed of by burning, causing high pollution throughout the late summer. Half of the straw is bailed and sent down the Willamette River through Portland for export to Japan. An ethanol plant could either compete for that trade, or it could try to make arrangements with the other half of the farmers who burn their fields. It might be worth investigating whether the State of Oregon would offer assistance to help make the latter arrangement.

Here's an overview from Oregon Cellulose-Ethanol Study, a study prepared for the Oregon Office of Energy (p. 12):

According to the Oregon Grass Seed Commission, there are about 1 million [bone dry tons] per year of grass seed straw generated in Oregon. Oregon is the largest producer of grass seed in the world. About 500,000 acres per year of grass seed are planted and cultivated in the Willamette Valley. Roughly half of the straw is bailed and exported to Japan for livestock feed purposes. The current market for this export of grass seed straw, according to the Oregon Grass Seed Commission, ranges between $40-$50 dollars per ton.

About 500,000 tons per year is either burned or chopped into the field. It is possible that this portion would be available for ethanol production. However, the cost of bailing is estimated to be about $30-$35 dollars per ton transported to a nearby site.

Without a before picture, it's kind of hard to tell, but it looks like quite a bit of flood damage.

And as someone who has had to clean up after a major flood, I can say that what you see from the air, is just a fraction of what happened on the ground.

Maybe Google Earth has a before pic?

I don't know whether I can insert kml into a TOD comment, but here's the text of the Googley Earth location:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<kml xmlns="http://earth.google.com/kml/2.0">
<name>Sur Oman</name>

Copy that into a notepad window and name the file "foo.kml". Then open it in Google Earth.

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

Thanks. Here's a screenshot, for those too lazy to download Google Earth...


Found it on google maps.

Boy is that place trashed. Whole sections are under water, bridges and roads washed out. What a mess. I find it hard to believe they will have basic services restored for quite a while.

And all that silt is going to cause navigation problem.

I have looked at the picture given and yes there is a lot a of damage but Leanan asks if there was a before picture.

The picture in Google earth is a "before" one. Sur always had the estuary that one can see to the one end of the town and the size of it can be seen by following the road which goes around it. It was always very frustrating as the other side of the town was about 100m away across the estuary and about a 2 hour drive around the road.

The damage can be seen in the picure and is "limited" to the town - the big mass of water is normal.

Friday June 8, 2007 we drove through the Wellington, Price, Helper, UT coal area.

Recently rail shipment of coal is being supplemented by tuck shipment. While there are several wheel configurations, here's a somewhat unconvential arragement

Several years ago a lady at the desk of the Helper mining museum reported that truck shipment of coal is economically competitive with rail transport.

My visit to the Black Thunder and North Antelope Powder River Basin coal mines in the fall of 2006 was scary in this sense that if anythig went wrong, then parts of the US could suffer electric power shortages.

Too much rain is another apparent hazard.

"While snow impacts mining operations, it can be plowed out of the haul roads
before it becomes a real problem," she said. "Rainfall on the other hand will
run to the lowest point and that is usually into operating coal pits. This
concentrates the moisture in the working areas, and four inches of rain can
quickly become six feet of water in a coal face."


Great photo essay! I just wish that the NIMBY opponents of wind and offshore drilling would all go take the tour. One serious mistake on your website: Much of the natural gas supply called unconventional is coal bed methane, so the coal seams which are more deeply buried and can't be mined could produce enough gas for the mining operations.
I have a serious question, are the methane gasses released by mining included in the Greenhouse Gas calculations of coal?


While truck shipment might be economical in UT from where it's coming from, down here in Arkansas, it's quite un-economical to use the trucks to take it to the coal plant for burning. Once as a political exercise, the coal plant where I am decided to do one day's worth of coal transportation from the train depot to the coal plant as opposed to the coal train going directly to the coal plant like it normally does. It took hundreds of trucks, running all day, and ended up costing 3x the normal train delivery. My house-mate's father is one of the plant's foremen, so had some stories to tell about the plant.

In regards to coal supplies, the plant usually keeps around a 30 days supply of coal on hand, but they've had the supply slip to around 15 days before. They like to have a big supply on hand, as it takes a long time to rebuild that supply if it dips down. (Miss one day's shipment, and you go down a day, but it might take 3-4 days to replenish that 1 missing day's supply AND supply the normal day's supply.)

According to the Association of American Railroads a ton of freight can be moved one mile for 1/3 the fuel of a truck. Go to www.aar.org/getFile.asp?File_id=364 to see the info. On a gross ton mile basis, railroads are at least four times as fuel efficient as "over the road" trucks.

...railroads are three or more times as fuel efficient as trucks... Emphasis mine.

This appears to be true only for the vanishing truck trailer on flatbed comparison. Double stack containers are even more energy efficient (no excess weight of tires, axles, etc., less aero drag, and two truckloads for one railcar instead of one for one).

I took the 2003 data for ton-miles and diesel burned for railroads and heavy inter-city trucks and came up with a 8.3 to 1 ratio. The former head of the FRA under the elder Bush says 9 to 1 energy ratio.

Add railroad electrification and the "rule of thumb" is x2.5 energy efficiency gain vs. diesel-electric locos on straight rural tracks and x3 in the mountains and more congested urban areas. Regenerative braking (turn motors into generators and recapture power in order to slow down) is the source of most of the 2.5 to 3 delta.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


Proposed electrification of US RRs in 1970s.


My plan to reduce US Oil use by 10% in ten to twelve years


On my hunt for resource wars I found this page with a couple of hits: (4 hits on normal themes 3 as articles one as a comment)

This links to how things are on greenland

The second subject of interest is the rapidly increasing melting of the Greenland icecap, a process that has speeded up way beyond any computer projection. Most scientists, outside of official U.S. ones, agree that the entire huge ice cap will melt (at the present accelerating rate) within five years, not five hundred.

On that same page - comments about a book in why fission is a failing plan:
Nuclear power won't solve, or even alleviate global warming, according to Helen Caldicott in her important 2006 book, "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer." That's aside from the catastrophic consequences from commercial reactor malfunction-caused meltdowns, terror attacks on them with the same result, or fissionable material falling into the wrong hands and used against us. Caldicott explained, contrary to government and industry propaganda, nuclear power generation discharges significant greenhouse gas emissions plus hundreds of thousands of curies of deadly radioactive gases and other radioactive elements into the environment every year.

And the reason I found it:
Resource Wars - Can We Survive Them?
June 6, 2007
by Stephen Lendman

Near the end of WW II, Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi King ibn Saud on the USS Quincy. It began a six decade relationship guaranteeing US access to what his State Department called a "stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history" - the region's oil and huge amount of it in Saudi Arabia.

An unusual mix of public health advocates, environmentalists and laundry workers joined yesterday in a petition demanding that federal authorities ban a chemical additive found in some household detergents and other cleaning agents.

An interesting point about the melting of Greenland - the recent IPCC report projects a very slow rise in sea levels, but they admit that their models do not include ANY contribution from Greenland or Antarctic melting because they didn't have enough information to make any projections.
Just another example of how the IPCC report is bad science. Purely political.

"Iran threatens Gulf blitz" is the story today IMHO. I've quite enjoyed the American way of life, I'll miss it...

What you call "political", others call "careful".  Should the IPCC include anything for which there is no good data?  Perhaps in an appendix under uncertainties and required further research, but adding speculation just opens the report (and its contributors) to even more attack.

What this points out is the need to accelerate the report cycle.

Accelerate the report cycle and expand the research. There's not enough going on and if this goes down as it is looking like it might, our children and grandchildren will never forgive us for being so stupidly shortsighted. It is looking more and more like the 100 and 500 year predictions may be more like 30 and 75 year predictions as melt rates continue to grow exponentially.

We need to know, in far better detail:

1. What is happening?
2. How fast is it happening?
3. Can we realistically do anything to slow or stop it?
4. If we cannot slow or stop it, what responses do we need to take and when do we need to take them to avoid horrendous consequences?

A 23 foot sea level rise (Greenland completely melting) whether in 5 years or 500 years would leave New York city largely underwater. What is the cost of that? How can we mitigate that? When do we begin to try to mitigate that?

Given recent Antarctic data, if all the Greenland sheet melts, whether in 5 years or 500 years, then a large percentage of the West Antarctic sheet will have melted by that time too.

Maybe the insurance companies can drive this change by doing what actuarial work they can with what data they can then driving up insurance rates. When people complain about their conclusions the insurance companies can say "Well do more research and prove us wrong." :)

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

3. Can we realistically do anything to slow or stop it?
Can we realistically slow or stop the cumulative effects of 150+ years of coal, gas, and oil pollution and greenhouse gas accumulation in time to prevent a radically different and devastating climate shift?

I think this is the question really being asked.

At the very least, our responses need to attack the sources of the problem instead of the symptom. Global warming is the symptom. Pollution and gas emission are the source. And they, too, are a symptom and have their causes, overpopulation, fossil fuel use, and industry.

Relying on government or industry to respond responsibly is a fool's errand, their being less prepared for the diverse systemic problems than the average reader of TOD.

You're right, we need more data, yesterday. But more and more people, with a growing body of what is still incomplete information, are coming to the same unsettling conclusion to the question: no.

Can we realistically slow or stop the cumulative effects of 150+ years of coal, gas, and oil pollution and greenhouse gas accumulation in time to prevent a radically different and devastating climate shift?

If we start right away, sure.  If you look at the Keeling curve you'll notice a flat spot starting about 1991.  That was the period of the Pinatubo-related temperature reduction.  (I speculate that the CO2 reduction was driven by lower water temperatures, allowing greater uptake in the oceans.)

Holding down temperatures with an artificial sunshade wouldn't fix the underlying problem, but it would slow or stop the loss of icecaps, melting of permafrost, and other trends which threaten to drive the climate to temperature extremes with positive-feedback loops.  It would buy us time to cut greenhouse gases.

We need to know, in far better detail:

1. What is happening?
2. How fast is it happening?
3. Can we realistically do anything to slow or stop it?
4. If we cannot slow or stop it, what responses do we need to take and when do we need to take them to avoid horrendous consequences?

This is accomplished by actual research, not IPCC commissions.

IPCC reports are the Mother of All Review Articles. IPCC is a review committee of scientists employed in other scientific institutions. Contrary to popular delusions, they aren't employed by the U.N.

They are intentionally supposed to be not generating new science, they review and write up summaries on what they agree on to be solid existing results, which must be backed comprehensively by peer-reviewed articles in major journals. (And there is a cutoff date for publication to go into any report).

These new things---Greenland crevaces---are contemporary research topics where the scientific answers are NOT clear, but they are worrisome.

IPCC reports said so. What else can they do?

If you include more speculative (and more likely to be proven incorrect) contemporary research, then IPCC results will soon be discredited in all sorts of unfair ways (even worse than now) in the nasty political sphere.

The more frequent the IPCC cycle, the more time you take away from the primary scientists actually doing the work. They're busy enough as it is.

I think that there is some expectation that the Antarctic ice sheets may even grow due to extra precipitation.

As for Greenland - it may all be gone in the next 1000 years; a mere 40 generations. (Assuming Peak Oil is wrong of course.)

Please find out accurate facts before doing the Chicken Little imitation.

I think that there is some expectation that the Antarctic ice sheets may even grow due to extra precipitation.

Would you have a reference?

Please find out accurate facts before doing the Chicken Little imitation.

Or the opposite...


Of course they should include everything in the report, even if there is insufficient data. By not including the melting from Greenland and Antarctica they are setting the value at zero! They are assuming that it would be possible to melt all the land-based ice on the planet and at the same time nothing melts on Greenland or Antarctica.

But there is plenty of good data showing the current, as in IT'S HAPPENING NOW!!, rates of melting. See pictures of waterfalls in the middle of the ice sheet. Satellites are measuring the ice in Greenland and Antarctica and finding dramatic losses. What the hell more do you need???

And I have no idea what you mean by "accelerate the report cycle". Are the scientists keeping secrets from us??

The scientists aren't keeping secrets.  The IPCC process has a long lead time because of all the fact-checking and the consensus required for issuing final reports.  The newer data isn't secret, it just didn't arrive in time to be included in the latest report.

I agree this is a problem, but as long as pols and the public demand certainty rather than taking sensible precautionary (even "no regrets") steps immediately, the IPCC doesn't have much of a choice if it is to remain relevant.

My point is that it isn't relevant.

The newer data isn't secret, it just didn't arrive in time to be included in the latest report. [...]

That is very true and it is the reason that the fact as we now know that the current rate of change is on the "worse" side outside the statistical boundaries of the IPCC reports is so relevant. The IPCC is conservative, not alarmist! To the extent the IPCC has had political problems it has always been frustration on the part of the scientific community at the ever-present tendency of the political/diplomatic side to water down whatever they try to say.

It is always important to stress this when discussing the IPCC in public fora. The most important data point at present is the way the IPCC completely missed the currently observed feedback involved in Arctic melting. The data input period was closed just before the melting results were published!


The newer data isn't secret, it just didn't arrive in time to be included in the latest report. [...]

That is very true....

No, Bruce, it's not true at all, not even close. The Fred Pearce article from August '06 that I posted today cites him claiming dozens of scientists confirming what he wrote, including James Hansen.

From the publication date of the article it took about 6 months for the IPCC to publish part 1 of its report. Pearce had his conversations with all those scientists prior to the publication date, maybe as much as a year. Ample time, and any other claim is futile nonsense.

You could call Pearce a cheat or a liar, and, well, good luck with that, but I'd check him out before doing that. Sure, Hansen is the only name he mentions. But can you imagine why?

What remains is that the IPCC was set up to fail, to be a misinformation scam, not to provide, but to distort information. There have been scientists speaking out about this recently, but they all realize they risk losing their funding, and hence their livelihood, if they expose the scam that the entire process is.

To wit: no IPCC report can be published before the White House has reviewed and changed it. Nothing that isn't approved by Karl Rove can be in the final report. That should make us all feel much better.

Edit: and by the way, if you buy into the flatulence that says the IPCC lacks time incorporating 1,5 year old data into its reports, and you know they only publish updates once every five years, and then you realize that half of Greenland could be gone before that next update, what does that tell you?

Boy oh boy have you misinterpreted my take on things. Careful with those ridiculous accusations there.

From the publication date of the article it took about 6 months for the IPCC to publish part 1 of its report.

The freeze on what to include will have been much earlier (speaking as one who has worked on much smaller versions of these things in my field).

I don't doubt anything else you say, as should have been clear from my other comments (about the struggle between scientists and politicos on the IPCC).


ps when you get that angry, at least make sure your links work before you post

pps still note that (as Pearce says between the lines) that the modelling missed the glacial meltdown feedbacking and so we didn't know about it until it was clearly observed.

The second topic is FUD.

Once a reactor is built there are zero emissions, barring an accident. Current reactors have more than 3 fold safe fail measures.

To explain, engineers use levels of safety:
1. Minimize failure
2. If and when something should fail, make sure it fails safely.
3. Double up on the failure mechanism, have redundancy
4. Ensure the redundancy is complete (both mechanisms must fail), and that even still if both failed, it fails in a safe manner.

Between three and four one may add as many redundant steps as needed. Most fission plants have emergency neutron dampers, emergency cooling water, control rods and all types of fire supression. The primary coolant exchanges heat with the secondary coolant to ensure no radiation is transferred.

Even waste is stored on site under water until the most dangerous isotopes have decayed.

Does this lady identify SOURCES of radiation?

And how does it compare with the mercury and radiation output of a simple coal plant? It would also be prudent that the summary, if accurate, uses Curie improperly, Curie is a rate dose of radiation breakdown. One cannot let thousands of Curies into the environment, one can let radioactive materials into the enviroment which increases the background rate.


'12 August 2001, Philippsburg (Germany)
In August 2001 in the German Philippsburg nuclear power plant a deviation from the specified boron concentration – a neutron absorber needed to slow down or stop the nuclear reaction – in several flooding storage tanks during restart of the plant was reported to the authorities. Later the report was completed by the fact that also the liquid level had not reached the required value fixed in the operational instructions for the start-up and was only implemented with a delay.

Subsequent investigations revealed that significant deviations from requirements during start-up and violations from related instructions seemed to be common probably for
several years and took place in a similar way in other German nuclear plants. The over all extent of the violations was not clearly comprehensible from the available documentation.

The flooding tanks are used for the storage of large quantities of boron-treated water. A special boron concentration has to be adjusted in the coolant to control the reactivity in the reactor core. The water quantity is dimensioned to ensure a sufficient heat transfer from the
reactor core at any time and to compensate for the potential loss of coolant in the primary circuit. Temporary other coolant inventories, especially the content of the primary circuit, can be depleted into the storage tanks due to performance of particular maintenance or test activities. The water management has to ensure a sufficient amount and a sufficient boron concentration in the coolant to control all possible events at any time. The emergency cooling will only work effectively if it is operated according to design basis conditions.

Due to the violation of rules and regulations the available amount of conditioned cooling water was repeatedly insufficient during the start-up sequence. During these
occasions the efficiency of the emergency cooling system and the capability of the plant to cope with possible accidents were limited. Possible accidents during start up could have led to uncontrollable states of the plant.

The deviation from specified values was accepted. Administrative control measures to ensure the orderly performance of procedures were ineffective or missing.'

(PDF) in a somewhat awkward translation.

This incident, where a reactor block was started without an adequate amount of emergency coolant designed to shutdown the reactor if other systems failed, doesn't seem covered in your examples of how nuclear facilities are operated in the real world.

And they kept it running after discovering that the boron concentrations were too low in two tanks - and then kept on running when a third tank, of four, was also found to be have been inadequately filled.

Yep, all that redundancy and design, luckily not being tested under real world conditions - with a running reactor that could not have been shutdown using last safety system designed to ensure emergency shutdown when other problems are occurring.

Engineers cannot account for poor management practice.

These are human factors, the same that removed the alarms and safety systems at Chernobyl.

Regarding my post, note the triple or quadruple redudant systems... this was one of several systems which was failing, and subsequently fixed. The overall design was able to cope with the temporary failure of one subsystem.

I am not familiar with the german nuclear reactors or how they are constructed.

I will also note that 4th gen reactors are passively safe, meaning that failure of the reactor defaults to a safe state, which is provably harmless.

If you can't trust German engineers, you can't trust any engineers.

If we start constructing reactors now will GWB get to staff them? Perhaps we should wait a couple of years...we dont want to see Brownie in charge of a reactor and Homer Simson as assistant, do we?

I will also note that 4th gen reactors are passively safe, meaning that failure of the reactor defaults to a safe state, which is provably harmless.

Great! Step one.

Still havn't solved issues like waste disposal or if one nation thinks you are making parts for bombs. Of if one nation thinks you should not have power plants.

Most scientists, outside of official U.S. ones, agree that the entire huge ice cap will melt (at the present accelerating rate) within five years, not five hundred.


That was a verbatim quote from the website you linked. I clicked the link, and found the same assertion there, but nothing to substantiate it. That's the first time I've heard anything like "five years" for final destruction of the Greenland icecap. Shouldn't we be seeing important effects now - like, for example, US and Canadian coastal waters rendered non-navigable by all those icebergs?

Heaven knows I'm not a global warming denialist, but this sounds to me like pure alarmism.

It is useless to debate what is going to happen to the ice caps and when it will happen. The truth is that the best scientists, using all the best available data, have NO CLUE what is going to happen and when. There is simply no way to model something on this scale. They are doing the best they can, but the most honest of them are clearly scared shitless about what they are observing. Their computer models are NOT working properly - the observed melting is happening 2 or 3 times faster than even the most pessimistic models were showing just a few years ago. This is huge, people!!

Could Greenland break up in the next five years?? Nobody knows. And there is no way to know.

I wonder if anyone has factored in the change in global warming rates when everyone starts lobbing nukes at each other? I guess all that particulate matter will help cool things off, but then again nukes do tend to warm things locally. Hmmm... well, won't matter much...

What I really want to know, whether it happens over 5 years or 15 years, is what the global warming deniers will say once the oceans are 23 feet higher. I mean, I know it will be something so fantastically twisted and self-serving as to serve as a monument to American egocentrism, because at this very moment denier trolls are multiplying on sites like Green Car Congress, even as much of Big Oil throws in the towel and just tries to slow the tide. These guys want to believe in capitalism so much that they'll keep burning up their keyboards after much of the corporate community stops lying about carbon dioxide levels being within normal variation. They're like the keyboard commandoes who will keep defending the war in Iraq after the GOP in Congress caves in and Bush's successor (of either party) is forced to evacuate the troops. And that's scary.

What I really want to know, whether it happens over 5 years or 15 years, is what the global warming deniers will say once the oceans are 23 feet higher.

Bout the same thing that has happened to the guy/family who brought in the 'flying carp' that is about to enter the great lakes.


Alas, the world is not "fair"

plucky underdog

Atlantic mud core samples gave proof as far back as the 1970s that at the end of some ice ages a complete meltdown of accumulated ice took a mere 30 years or less. Some scientists think that the 30 year estimate was conservative because to state what they really found would have been received with even more skepticisim than their 30 year estimate. Even the scientists doing the work were stunned at what they found and consequently, went back and rechecked their work several times using different parameters. The results were the same.
The mud core results along with the ice core results are what set climate scientists on their search for the 'trigger' mechanisim that could cause such a rapid meltdown. Many have opined on the causes and some soild evidence has been unconvered. There does seem to be a point in the warming cycle that, once reached, causes the meltdown to rapidly increase...he related nervously as he sat and typed 11 feet above sealeavel...

just another day in paradise to you all

Do you have any on-line resources where we could read some of this material? Sounds interesting.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking we need to see certain effects in certain sequences. If the melt rate was linear you might make this supposition but if it is exponential, then the acceleration can lead to states we did not anticipate at rates we did not expect leading to catastrophic events.

Now I am not suggesting that Greenland is going to melt in 5 years as I've never heard that assertion before this and do not believe it at this time. However, my above comments still stand. We, as human beings, tend to extrapolate in linear fashion but exponential processes constantly surprise us. Look at the old doubling examples used by Dr. Albert Bartlett and how surprising those things are. One of his examples was about a headline that said "state prison population grows by 8%" which most people shrugged off. But what if you said "state prison population doubles every 9 years" instead? That would have caused a shock reaction but both statements are exactly the same.

My advice is beware exponential systems that are oscillating out of control with positive feedbacks. They tend to constantly surprise us. My firm hope is that the melt rate has not accelerated that far yet but given the quality of our data and the speed with which this process is advancing, I have to admit to more ignorance in this area than I would like.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

This article by Fred Pearce, Guardian Aug '06, was a big wake-up call. Or should have been.

It doesn't take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds

Richard Alley's eyes glint as we sit in his office in the University of Pennsylvania discussing how fast global warming could cause sea levels to rise. The scientist sums up the state of knowledge: "We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn't take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds."

That quote highlights most vividly why scientists are getting panicky about the sheer speed and violence with which climate change could take hold. They are realising that their old ideas about gradual change - the smooth lines on graphs showing warming and sea level rise and gradually shifting weather patterns - simply do not represent how the world's climate system works.

Dozens of scientists told me the same thing while I was researching my book The Last Generation. Climate change did not happen gradually in the past, and it will not happen that way in the future. Planet Earth does not do gradual change. It does big jumps; it works by tipping points.

The story of research into sea level rise is typical of how perceptions have changed in the past five years. The conventional view - you can still read it in reports from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - holds that sea levels will start to rise as a pulse of warming works its way gradually from the surface through the 2km- and 3km-thick ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, melting them. The ice is thick and the heat will penetrate only slowly. So we have hundreds, probably thousands, of years to make our retreat to higher ground.

Recent research, however, shows that idea is wholly wrong. Glaciologists forgot about crevasses. What is actually happening is that ice is melting at the surface and forming lakes that drain down into the crevasses. In 10 seconds, the water is at the base of the ice sheet, where it lubricates the join between ice and rock. Then the whole ice sheet starts to float downhill towards the ocean.
"These flows completely change our understanding of the dynamics of ice sheet destruction," says Alley. "Even five years ago, we didn't know about this."

This summer, lakes several kilometres across formed on the Greenland ice sheet, and drained away to the depths. Scientists measured how, within hours of the lakes forming, the vast ice sheets physically rose up, as if floating on water, and slid towards the ocean. That is why Greenland glaciers are flowing faster, and there are more icebergs breaking off into the Atlantic Ocean. That is why average sea level rise has increased from 2mm a year in the early 1990s to more than 3mm a year now.

Soon it could be a great deal more. Jim Hansen of Nasa, George Bush's top climate modeller, predicts that sea level rise will be 10 times faster within a few years, as Greenland destabilises. "Building an ice sheet takes a long time," he says. "But destroying it can be explosively rapid."

Hello HeIsSoFly,

Thxs for the link. Recall my earlier postings on glacial ice earthquakes, sub-glacial lakes, and super-jökulhlaups or outburst floods. These all add to glacial breakup and further flow-rate exponentiality as they can quickly erode bottom built-up earthen dams that tend to hold the glacier in place. The feedback of all these forces therefore accelerate volumetric ice decline.

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

Hey Bob

Yeah, that's one of my favorite words, thanks to you, jökulhlaups.

Apart from the Fred Pearce article being an eye-opener all by itself, what's equally striking is the complete ignoring of what he describes by the likes of IPCC. And Pearce did not invent this, he did extensive research for his book: "Dozens of scientists told me the same thing".

What he describes is the complete failure by science models to see that glaciers and icebergs are not solid entities. The difference between 10.000 years and 10 seconds is not some overly dramatized extremity, it's a scientific breakthrough.

However, 10 months after his article, what do we see in science reports and media publications? Well, not this: " Jim Hansen of Nasa, George Bush's top climate modeller, predicts that sea level rise will be 10 times faster within a few years, as Greenland destabilises". That you will not find in IPCC reports. Nor this: "In 10 seconds, the water is at the base of the ice sheet, where it lubricates the join between ice and rock. Then the whole ice sheet starts to float downhill towards the ocean."

The underlying science as we have been force-fed it, is not science at all. It's nothing but heavily diluted lowest common denominator nonsense. Climate models have consistently failed for decades now, but questioning their use will get you nothing but scorn. The IPCC is but another corporate mechanism, and that should be no surprise. It was set up that way. Write a report once every 5 years, make it sound really hard to do, make it look scary, but not too much (we always have 10 years left to correct our mistakes), and above all claim the only "true" top scientific spot.

It's just one big scam. And Fred Pearce exposed it 10 months ago. To no avail.

Hi Bob, Those mud damns on the bottom that hold the ice sheets/glaciers in place are called terminal morraines. As more ice is formed it pushes whatever ahead of it and when the ice is in a more or less stable state as it has been for some time, until recently, the morraine acts as a damn, as you pointed out. I like the phrase...terminal morraine...has a sort of finality about it, dont you think?

I have been wearing my water wings to bed for some time...

We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an ice sheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn't take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds.

I'm sorry, that's obscurantist nonsense designed to scare arts-graduate scum. Anyone who has ever been near a glacier (have you?), certainly any professional glaciologist, knows that it is in equilibrium with its own meltwater. So what? Once the water has drained below the surface, it isn't picking up solar heat any more. You've still got a huge chunk of ice grounded on uneven terrain near the North Pole (i.e. in cold air) that will require an enormous thermal input to supply the latent heat of melting.

If you google

greenland icecap melt five years

you get a lot of articles comparing the melt rate with what it was five years ago - nothing about the thing disappearing in five years. And there's nothing about it disappearing in five years on RealClimate either. Doesn't mean it's not going to happen, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Hysterically pointing at an implausible worst-case scenario doesn't help spread the more serious message that climate change is a reality, and that there is still a chance to mitigate its effects. Check back in a year and let's see how much smaller the ice-cap is then.

I'm sorry, that's obscurantist nonsense designed to scare arts-graduate scum.
Hysterically pointing at an implausible worst-case scenario doesn't help spread the more serious message that climate change is a reality,

But blanket attacks on wide portions of the population do help? Get cancer, seriously.

But what if you said "state prison population doubles every 9 years" instead?

And anyone who has an idea of how fast the population is growing, and what fraction of it is real criminals, would point and laugh.

Our real problem isn't with ice melting per se.  All the icecaps in the world could remain frozen, but if they go from being grounded on rock to floating in the oceans, the effect is the same.  Higher water levels accelerate the flow of ice in glaciers, so this process appears to create its own positive feedback loop.

"And anyone who has an idea of how fast the population is growing, and what fraction of it is real criminals, would point and laugh."


His point was made to highlight the fact that people often do not equate numbers like 8% growth/year with doubling every 9 years. It wasn't a comment on the prison system or who gets jailed. He could have just as easily been talking about rats breeding, or dandruff accumulation every day you fail to wash you hair :)

Interesting notes on ice movement...

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

Why?  Because the prison population's doubling time is going to come up against the general population's in short order.

As the prior poster said, I was pointing out how the human brain reacts to information when presented in different ways, particularly how we react to what we "feel" is linear information versus the real situation when it is exponential and we finally realize that.

I apologize for getting your panties in a wad over using prisoners (the same example used by Dr. Albert Bartlett) and next time will try to find some politically correct exponential growth example for the extra sensitive amongst us. [sarcasm intended]

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

I love it when a plan comes together: The New World Order.

plucky: I think you have highlighted (unintentionally) something I have notice when dealing with scientists and engineers.

Scientists and engineers, when working in their field, are pretty good guessers. But in science and engineering guessing doesn't cut it. If your guess is that things will go to hell, you had better back it up with numbers.

I've always considered it a case of, seat of the pants right brain thinking, verses actual numbers. Behind closed doors, they will say to each other, “the shit could hit the fan in 5 years”. But when you talk to upper management or the public, you only say what you can prove with math and data.

I have no idea if that is the case here, your conversation just reminded me of something I have observed.

eric blair Hi, just a non scientific question about your comments regarding nuclear plants. I lived in Calvert County Md for many years before retirement. I kept a 25ft fishing skiff on the Chesapeake Bay and in winter all the fishermen in the area would congregate near the water discharge of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant because that is where the fish were congregated, near the very warm water discharge. I dont know the flow rate of the water discharge from the plant but it was comprable to a small river.
Question is, has anyone factored in the effects on global warming of the warm water discharges of all the nuclear power plants in the world? Also, because I ate a lot of stripped bass from that discharge water, might it have anything to do with why I glow in the dark?
All the best

Question is, has anyone factored in the effects on global warming of the warm water discharges of all the nuclear power plants in the world?

Almost anyone who talks about 'imagine a world where we have cheap fusion/beam sunlight from space via mirrors' ignore the question you have about trapping the heat within the envelope of the earth.

The few fission power plants are a small addition, I'm guessing within the error bars.

There's a few hundred GW of nuclear power in the world; call it 300 GW as a guess.  Assuming 30% efficiency, that's about 1 TW of raw input heat.

If the surface of the earth increases its temperature by 1°C (from 288 to 289, e.g.), that implies an increase in radiant flux of about 5.4 W/m² or about 2790 TW over the entire globe.  The global contribution of direct heat from nuclear plants is unmeasurable compared to that.

Question is, has anyone factored in the effects on global warming of the warm water discharges of all the nuclear power plants in the world?

Yes. Primary waste heat from human processes are essentially irrelevant in global energy balance.

The issue is the thermal equilibrium between energy input (from Sun) and energy output to space. These are essentially 100% balanced over a growing cycle, with extra heat from fossil fuels (fissile or carbonaceous) a negligble fraction of the flux.

The course of temperature depends essentially on the boundary conditions---albedo and greenhouse gases---governing reflection and emission in optical and infrared frequencies, with the next substantial effect due to heat capacity of oceans.

Even in a city, the famed heat effect is mostly due to changing wind patterns and especially absorption due to buildings and roads. Not due to exhaust or electrical power dissipation.

Hi mbkennel, Thanks for the answer. Are you familiar with Dr James Lovelock? I read one of his books, Gaia. He has some interesting if controversial theories. Lovelock looks at the earth as one living organisim that attempts to stay in a balanced state unless it is infected by a virus. He sees humans as a virus that have by overpopulation and resource useage/destruction caused the earth to become unbalanced, or, infected. So, the earths' reaction is to unleash its ammune system to rid itself of the virus...us. It is interesting, the fact that we get a fever when our immune systems are fighting off a virus and the earth uses global warming/cooling when its immune system swings into action. I have given you a very simplistic explanation of his theory. Of course his book goes into much greater detail. He has quite a following but so does Reverand Moon. Here is a Wiki link to Gaia and Dr Lovelock if you are interested. BTW, Dr Lovelock announced about a year ago that he believes that we have gone beyond the point of no return and that global warming is now unstopable. Cheers.

Any powerplant is going to have waste heat, energy that isn't converted to useful work. By far the worst heat producer is the (no surprise) coal-fired power plant. They need alot of cooling water and also release alot of CO2, which captures solar energy to heat the air. It turns out that over a few decades, the greenhouse heating from the CO2 released by the coal plant is hundreds of times larger than the heating directly caused by burning the coal. Because of the CO2 released, coal-fired plants contribute much more to global warming than nuclear plants.

There are some opponents of nukes who refuse to admit that nothing has been learned about safe reactor operation in the past 70 years. Out of hundreds of reactors in operation since the 1940s only one has caused a catastrophe and it took considerable effort to do even that one event. By placing the reactor core in a shaft under hundreds of feet of water and loss of coolant becomes impossible. Being deep underground makes a terrorist attack impossible also. Being deep underground also makes siting near load centers acceptable.
No matter how efficient we become in the use of energy there will still be a need for a reliable source of electricity that is not as location dependent as solar, wind and hydro are.

Norway production down in May

Preliminary oil production on the Norwegian continental shelf averaged 2.199 mln barrels per day in May, falling from an upwardly revised 2.374 mln in April, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said.

In February, according to the EIA, Norwegian oil production was 2.454 million barrels per day. So it looks like they have resumed their sharp decline.

The March numbers were due out this past week but they never showed up. It looks like the EIA is having trouble with getting the International Petroleum Monthly out on time. It appears a little later each month.

Ron Patterson


Figures like the sharp Norwegian decline are why I question the assumptions of WT's Export Land model. Jeffry assumes a 5% rate of decline in production, while the major producing areas in decline except the US have a much greater rate-in the 10% to 20% range.
What this means as a practical matter is that once the decline in exports of light crude begins to kick in, the decline in exports will quickly cascade. In other words, a drop off the cliff on the edge of the plateau. And since the Saudi's are making cuts to their Asian customers, the moment is now. We are Wiley Coyote pedaling franticly at air when he's over the cliff and his latest Acme product fails to work as planned.

'10% to 20% range' ?
If Norway's May figures hold up then a 10% production drop will have occurred since February,
ie. an annualised 40% fall.
The UK's North Sea figures, despite the new Buzzard field coming on stream, aren't too pretty either.


The 5% production decline and 2.5% increase in consumption are just numbers that I used as examples. But remember that these are average annual numbers. The month to month decline numbers will be higher, e.g., the Norwegian numbers cited above.

However, outside of Russia I do think that it is unlikely that we will see sustained production rate declines of more than 10% per year, even on a month to month basis.

But once these exporting regions start showing single digit declines in production, we are easily going to see double digit declines in exports. For example, Mexico reported a 5.5% decline in total liquids production from 1/06 to 4/07, but an 18% decline in exports.

Someone expressed surprise the other day about how few people are screaming and shouting about the Net Export issue. I am surprised too. As of this morning, four of the top seven listings on Google for Net Oil Exports are links to my articles.

My continuing acknowledgment: some of Matt Simmons' early work made me wonder about the effect on exports of rapidly rising consumption in exporting countries.

Re: Mexico. At Mexico's current rate of decline in exports, by July 1, 2010 their exports will be down by 50%, relative to January, 2006. With Cantarell crashing, what is going to reverse the decline? Mexico is the #2 source of imported crude oil for the US.

Do you think that if one of our state department reps went down and offered to play nice with Chavez, like, perhaps, offering him a non agression pact, that he would be much more attuned to our needs? Usually these type of pacts are preceeded with mutual trade agreements...not agreements with the World Bank or the IMF, but direct US trade agreements. From what I have seen of Chevez he seems like a person that would be suseptible to a bit of flattery, like many of us. Chevez is sitting on a lot of oil, or asphalt?, that we might need as a nearby source if things really go downhill in the mid east, Mexico or Nigeria. All this talk of war on Iran is beginning to get on my nerves! I see nothing good for the world coming from such an adventure.

I don't see any plausible scenario that would make Chavez want to play nice with the US, especially with China constantly courting him.

In fact, the long term trend seems to be for more and more oil from Venezuela to be shipped to China.

It makes a lot of sense for these countries to make deals with China. Getting under China's umbrella gives them protection from US aggression. Unfortunately, every oil exporting nation that gets in bed with China brings us that much closer to a war with China.

Cid, amen to that! Going all the way back to the Monroe Doctrine, the US has clearly regarded the Carribean basin as its backyard. Chinese long-term bilateral agreements with Venezuela have so much potential to lead to tears; I wish they would stick closer to home.

Errol in Miami

Hi Cid Yama, I disagree. Iraq had signed oil deals with China and many other countries and it did nothing to stop us from invading their country. What our new, more aggressive foreign policy has done is teach all those that dont possess a nuclear arsenal that they better damn sure get one.

Yes, but China was not dependent on Iraq's Oil at the time. China now needs all she can get to maintain growth, just like us. I do think "trust in China, but carry a big stick" is a good policy. The second somebody detonates a nuke over one of our carrier groups, it will give us enough of a bloody nose to rethink our approach. Unfortunately, we really don't have another option. We cannot outbid China for our oil. We will have to take it and hold it or admit defeat.

It would be interesting to see how the Western media coverage of his oppressive moves would suddenly reverse once he was one of our dictators. But it does no good, because Venezuela's conventional oil is going down, and tar sands are bad business wherever you go. As long as costs are close, why would any businessman put money into Venezuelan tar sands while there's still an unclaimed patch of asphalt in friendly Alberta? After it's all claimed, bigger businessmen will simply wait and buy the Albertan fields from the small businessmen who took the largest risks, and eventually it will all be bought by TexxonShomoco. Venezuela is in line behind all that.

Now, if businesses could buy into Venezuela and claim tar sands as reserves for financial purposes without ever trying to produce them, that might fly. It's what I figure is the plan for Iraq.

A nonaggression pact?!? You're joking, right?

A nonaggression pact from the United States would not be worth the paper it's written on. Come on, the United States ignores many international treaties, including "free trade" agreements, has backed (sometimes openly) the overthrow of foreign governments, and has unilaterally invaded a long list of countries in the name of... well, whatever the justification of the day was, it used to be fighting communism, now it's fighting terrorism, though "promoting democracy" is always useful spin.

I think it's quite quaint that USians believe the U.S. government has any credibility left at all.

WT, my instinct is that your figures are too low. In the United States our production declined less quickly because independent oil operators with lower marginal production costs took over, while the big boys went elephant hunting overseas. In a few years elephant oil fields will be as extinct as the Wooly Mammoth, while introducing Tertiary methods of production earlier in field life makes the fields crash faster.
The way I actually see the scenario play out is that Venezuella, Iran, Russia and KSA will reserve their production for their own refineries, so they can keep the extra $30 a barrel at home. the only oil on the world market in any quantity will be sour, heavy crude, and it will be a very rapid process.

Oh sure, absolutely, Bob! We don't have a good handle yet on global decline rates for the largest fields so the numbers you plug into Jeffrey's model may vary. But the important point is that IF an exporting nation is having growth in internal consumption and IF an exporting nation is seeing declines in production THEN exports will decline at a far higher rate than the decline rate.

That is the key thesis of the Exportland Model. What specific numbers you plug into the model are driven by real world data. And as you observe, real world declines are double digit now in some countries so exports may collapse entirely within a few more years if OPEC also begins to see double digit declines any time soon.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett


There is some really interesting math here that I want to explore with Khebab (guess which one of us will be doing the heavy mental work).

In any case, if you look at the above graph, the decline per year for the first four years is about 16% or so. However, decline rate for the next four years is far greater--around 37% per year.

When we look at a normal bell shaped curve, where production starts declining, say at 5% per year, we have a long gradual "tail" of production, because as annual production declines, 5% represents a lesser and lesser amount of volumetric decline per year.

However, with the Export Land model, we have one dependent variable, net exports, and two independent variables, production and consumption that can both work against net exports--rapidly pulling net exports down to zero, with no "gradual tail." What would be interesting would be to model this for various combinations of decline rates and consumption rates.

In general, my guess is that once a region's exports start declining from peak exports, the first 50% decline in exports will be less than half the decline rate that we see for the remaining 50% decline in exports (relative to peak exports), or the final decline rate will be more than twice as great as the initial decline rate.

We can probably refer to the first 50%, relative to Peak Exports, as Phase One, with Phase Two being the decline of the second 50%, relative to Peak Exports.

This scenario is precisely what we saw in the UK, peak net exports to zero in about six or seven years.

If we apply this model to Mexico, they will be down to 50% of peak exports by about 7/1/10. I bet that the annual decline rate from there will be in the 30% to 40% range.

All of this implies that net oil exports will be a rapidly diminishing factor in the world economy as time goes on, especially in four or five years.


BTW, according to Jim Puplava (Financial Sense), 18 of 20 largest central banks are expanding their money supply rates by double digit rates.

Rapidly increasing money supply versus declining net oil exports. . .

Edit #2:

Note that if we calculate the export decline in the Export Land model, from Year #7, back to the initial decline, without breaking it into two parts, it's an annual decline rate of 23%.

Looking at Euan's plot of UK net exports, it looks like the net export decline rate from peak exports was about 37% per year or so: http://www.theoildrum.com/uploads/3246/UK_oil_import_export_model.png

What about countries that stop exporting and start importing without waiting for production to go into freefall. I certainly wouldn't feel obligated to produce every last drop for export. Not all countries are pure free market capitalists, some may actually like to save some for their own future generations.

Then that shortens the available export window (import to us since we import most of our oil) resulting in even faster crisis situations regarding petroleum.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

And I suspect this is exactly what we'll experience.

A relatively abrupt paradigm shift: exporting oil is stupid. Once "peak oil" is taken seriously, this follows logically for any nation which is not subject to easy conquest.

This will make things better for those nations which hold onto their oil, but terrible for the USA. Didn't MKH note that we should use others' oil first?

I fear the US will be entirely hosed. Perhaps appropriate for a nation of hosers.

Jeffery, RE:Your edit #1. I quized my neighbor (history major) on this one. Think of all the finacial problems this solves for gov. obligations to social programs and the ever increasing ammount of busted pension funds they take over.
History would say inflation, I have some "reprinted"(rubber stamped) german notes from before WW ll.
Better spend it for something of lasting value today, IMHO.

As Marc Faber said, "Buy farmland."

So at some point, the corporations that invested in near-slave labor in Latin America and India will realize to their horror that the factories are collapsing in profitability due to constant blackouts and petro-product shortages. Then Russia and Venezuela can go to them and say "We will have the last working electricity in the region." The factories will move there for good. Maybe even Iran.

China still has coal & zillions in US dollars it can use to buy oil, so it will outlast India, Pakistan, southeast Asia & most places south of the Rio Grande. I don't know how China survives after that. But note that it's building a lot of cities in its far west, near its new buddies in Central Asia. That's more of a plan than we've got.

The electrical grids are the real key to the whole shebang. once they go its strictly stone age and mini fifedoms. Look back at what a short black out in NY City caused back in the days when people were not wound as tightly as they are today. Er, beside the sudden jump in births nine months later.

That's an interesting point. Last winter after a storm of unusual ferocity (maybe not so unusual from now on, however)took out power for over a week here in foothills of Cascades, I noticed an interesting phenomena. School was, of course, cancelled, and parents of kids who were totally unused to actually getting outside and playing found themselves with bored, spoiled monsters on their hands. Anyway, after a couple days, when it became apparent that power was not going to be restored anytime soon, many,many parents sent the kids to stay with relatives who lived closer in. It was striking, and I thought, of course, the children get evacuated from exurbia first. Many suburban towns have enough density and infrastructure to remain viable in post-peak US, but out past the underground utilities, out beyond municipal water and sewage, people have only a tenuous hold on the basics of their middle-class lifestyle. Just a temporary disruption in power and POOF! the children disappear. Power was only able to be restored as quickly as it was through a massive mobilization of huge utility line trucks, we had crews from 4 states away. One has to assume that kind of response might not be forthcoming if fuel costs were double or triple. Extended power outages are profoundly demoralizing, I don't think people are today as resilient or resourseful as they imagine themselves to be.

One Small Ray of Hope

The front half of parking lot two blocks from me (and a half block from the neighborhood grocery store I make groceries at) is having a duplex built on it. 25' wide, 24' tall (30' at roof peak), 50' long, 2 stories. Parking remains in the back.

Tall ceilings in the New Orleans tradition. Classical New Orleans architecture. Brick sidewalks.

1.5 blocks from a streetcar stop, it is the type of affordable (to the middle class) housing that we need more of. And the materials used for two residences are less than one McMansion.

It is nice to see another example of the retreat of the automobile :-)

Best Hopes for Infill TOD development,


Got my July Discover. It came in a plastic bag, with - you guessed it - that Shell DVD. I haven't watched it yet.

The cover story is "Science and Islam," billed as "the ultimate conflict between science and religion."

The interview is with Henrik Svensmark, who thinks global warming is caused by the sun. (His colleagues argue that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark.")

There's an article about "The Vanishing Bees." It's the first offering in a new column called "Better Planet."

"It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Warm)" - About how global warming will create entirely new ecosystems. With a map.

And an interesting article about how dirt can cure depression. Really. There's already evidence that too much hygiene can cause autoimmune diseases like allergies, asthma, and MS. Now there's evidence that it can cause depression and maybe other mental illnesses, too. In the case of depression, the cure is a benign bacteria that lives in soil. You inhale it if you work in the garden or walk in the woods. And ingest it if you eat lettuce or carrots grown in a home garden. (The research suggests depression may be at least partly an inflammatory disease.)

And there's a lot of Shell ads. Not just the DVD, but print ads inside the magazine. Full page, side banner, related to the DVD and not. Sheesh.

Does the Science and Islam article spend more than cursory time on the role Islam played in the birth of modern science?

Also, concerning Denmark, don't forget that's where Lomborg comes from. They've also had an on-again off-again succession of right wing governments with some pretty crazy ideas, not to mention a capricious streak.


ps in the article above about Russian arctic oil exploration the guy says experts agree oil production will decline after 2016 and the experts agree. Well, I thought some experts said 2009 or so :-)

Does the Science and Islam article spend more than cursory time on the role Islam played in the birth of modern science?

There's a sidebar article about it, called "Islam's Scientific Legacy."

Canada sold more oil the U.S. than Saudi Arabia. Non-Opec oil was of greater value to the world than OPEC oil thus far.

A number of scholars have found contradictions in the Koran. A contradiction cannot be a fact, and science is a study of facts.

Some human rights workers have been critical of the Saudi's record on human rights:


As for science, the likes of Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Mendelev, Einstein, Fred Sanger (DNA sequencing), Gates (MSDOS) and others did not turn to Mecca for inspiration.

As for science, the likes of Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Mendelev, Einstein, Fred Sanger (DNA sequencing), Gates (MSDOS) and others did not turn to Mecca for inspiration.

Gates used others and used the legal skills taught him by his parents to appropriate things. He is about IP, not science and not invention.

As for the real scientists, they got inspiration from others who got it from both Arabs and also great thinkers whom the Arabs' system made it possible to flourish (e.g., Avicenna, Averroes). Without these guys the simple ideas of Mediaeval Christendom would never have produced science.

The biggest if not the only Islamic contribution to basic science is algebra and the invention of the zero.

And early astronomy - a majority of star names are Arabic. Think "Al manac"

And early chemistry - think "Al cohol".


Actually, the zero we use today was developed by Hindu mathematicians in India, picked up by Persians under Islam, and those works were eventually translated into Latin and spread into Europe. In algebra, I believe that the Indian development of, eg, the quadratic formula also predates the Persian version.

Discover argues that Islam may deserve credit for the scientific method itself.

I cannot take that seriously without lots of evidence.  The scientific method is an Enlightenment development, and is utterly beyond the mind-set which outlaws weather forecasting because only Allah knows the future (see entry for Feb. 19).

Do be aware that there is a propaganda program in effect, and claiming credit for inventions of others is a time-honored tactic (made notorious by the Soviet Union, and parodied in the original Star Trek).

Not only that but also the existence of universities. Cairo, Kairouan, and Cordoba were all there centuries before their first counterparts in Europe.

Kudos to Discover for giving this credit (a bit sad I had to ask, but such is the current climate). The anecdote about the advisor to Harun al-Rashid who built the Baghdad hospital in the 8th Century was that he had sides of meat hung up all over the city, and where the meat rotted the slowest was where his built the hospital!


Islam was absolutely crucial in not only preserving the Hellenistic emprical tradition but also developing it further before passing it on to Europe in the 2nd half of the Middle Ages

An aside. Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241) is credited with inventing scientific notation, attribution to sources of information. Another note from Wikipedia:

As a historian and mythographer, Snorri is remarkable for proposing the theory (in the Prose Edda) that mythological gods begin as human war leaders and kings whose funereal sites develop cults (see euhemerism). As people call upon the dead war leader as they go to battle, or the dead king as they face tribal hardship, they begin to venerate the figure. Eventually, the king or warrior is remembered only as a god. He also proposed that as tribes defeat others, they explain their victory by proposing that their own gods were in battle with the gods of the others.


I spent the shortest night of the year in his famous outdoor hot tub Snorralaug with 5 Scandinavians. He took the water from a hot spring, channeled it in a narrow sinuous rock lined channel to cool it off and then dumped the water into a large hot tub, which had an overflow channel. He was also twice lawspeaker for the first representative democracy, the Althingi.

All this on the bitter, outer edge of Western civilization, Iceland. Settled a few centuries before, (and set back by the eruption of 934) and "voluntarily" Christenized in 1000 (the Althingi was responding to a Norwegian threat but proclaimed religious freedom at the same time as making Christianity the state religion).

Progress is not exclusive to any one nation or group,


Islam was absolutely crucial in not only preserving the Hellenistic emprical tradition but also developing it further before passing it on to Europe in the 2nd half of the Middle Ages

Well, so what? Islam may have originated (doubt it), refined or dabbled in the scientific method, but from the 17th Century onwards the West adopted it wholeheartedly and used it, along with new methods of industrial and political organization, to transform the world. The same appplies to those silly revisionist theories about Zheng Ho (the Chinese eunuch admiral) and his voyages of discovery, allegedly as far as California. Many nations and individuals "discovered" the New World, but after Columbus, it stayed discovered.

Good Choices.

"Descartes suggested that the pineal gland is "the seat of the soul" for several reasons. First, the soul is unitary, and unlike many areas of the brain the pineal gland appears to be unitary (microscopic inspection reveals it is formed of two hemispheres). Second, Descartes observed that the pineal gland was located near the ventricles. He believed the animal spirits of the ventricles acted through the nerves to control the body, and that the pineal gland influenced this process. Finally, Descartes (incorrectly) believed that only humans have pineal glands, just as, in his view, only humans have minds. Therefore, he believed animals could neither think nor feel. This led him to the incorrect belief that animals cannot feel pain, and Descartes' practice of vivisection (the dissection of live, fully conscious animals) became widely practiced throughout Europe until the Enlightenment."(I wonder what He atributed the squirming and screaming to.)

"Pascal's ascetic lifestyle derived from a belief that it was natural and necessary for man to suffer. In 1659, Pascal, whose health had never been good, fell seriously ill. During his last years, he frequently tried to reject the ministrations of his doctors, saying, "Sickness is the natural state of Christians."

"Mendeleev studied petroleum origin and concluded that hydrocarbons are abiogenic and form deep within the earth. He wrote: "The capital fact to note is that petroleum was born in the depths of the earth, and it is only there that we must seek its origin." (Dmitri Mendeleev, 1877)"

No, the ultimate conflict is between capitalism and Islam. Islam doesn't believe in charging interest - the ultimate thought-crime! As a former Southern Baptist, I absolutely guarantee you that Southern fundamentalists are the most powerful enemy of science:

1. They got their guy into the White House and muzzling scientists.
2. It wasn't Saudi money that built the Creationist Museum.
3. They believe that they must take over the world, not in centuries, like bin Laden, but in time for the Creator's return, and they think that's any day now.
4. In their hearts they still believe in racial supremacy, and most Moslems don't. Just get them started about black crime rates and you'll see.
5. For Christ's sake, they still think the Confederacy was right. Trent Lott still thinks the South would be nicer now if Jim Crow had not been suppressed. They still think we should have stuck it out in Vietnam. Science is supposed to change their self-serving egocentrism?

And finally, you have to look at the lifestyle. Southern Baptism has become a corporation and a faith. The worst possible comination of the irrationalism of folk nostalgia and the irrationalism of modern debt-based capitalism. They really think they deserve the goodies they mortgaged their homes to buy, and that God will magically make them rich enough to pay it all back despite statistical evidence, and that while they wallow in their McMansions and 7000 lb SUVs they are still the honest, uncorrupted folk that Christ was addressing in the Sermon on the Mount. They have no conscious idea how much their tawdry comforts rely on slave wages overseas, but their Southern instincts tell them that there must be slaves somewhere who have to be kept at gunpoint to keep it all from collapsing. They sneak in Mexicans to do all their dirty work (I'm in Houston) yet whine about immigration hurting them and never consider the human tsunami headed here if Mexico runs out of oil or climate change wipes out Central American crops. Rational arguments do not work on them until after they are bankrupt, like in 1932.

All of which would matter not if they weren't going to choose the next GOP nominee, which makes them more powerful on science matters than all Moslems combined. If you want to see where it's all meant to lead, Google "dominionism" or "christian reconstructionism". Honkie Taliban, indeed.

Have you personally studied the impact of the Christian Reformation on science in the Renaissance period?

The reason I ask is that almost every religion has, at one time or another, created environments that assisted in the study of scientific topics. And by the same token, almost every religion has, at one time or another, become openly hostile to science as well.

Islam has a glorious past when you consider science and mathematics. However, Islam today has a large fragment (not all of Islam, just some) that is controlled by fanatical mullahs who are throwbacks to medieval lines of thought. This is clearly not all Muslims but the fraction of radical Muslims is far larger than the fraction of radical Christians in the Christian world. Indeed, numerous moderate Muslim writers have openly asked when will Islam experience its own "reformation" moment?

Hopefully that day is coming sooner than later and that part of Islam that lashes out violently and even suicidally at the rest of the world will become a footnote in history. Yes, other factors have to take place before that happens, including the United States taking its foot off the neck of the Islamic Middle East, but that seems inevitable anyway.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

Have you personally studied the impact of the Christian Reformation on science in the Renaissance period?

Yes indeed. Have you personally studied the impact of Islamic thought on the intellectual conditions in Europe which created Scholasticism, which in turn provided the intellectual conditions which created the groundwork for science in the Renaissance Period?

Without the Arab University in Cordoba and of course the Empire which maintained it, especially, these conditions would have been very different. Christian thought was very hostile to this stuff when it first became available. Eventually, scurrilous thinkers who refused to give it up caused it to be absorbed within Christendom (over a period of about 300 years), which made what followed possible.


ps the sort of systems thinking we regularly use to engage the peak oil problem was originally laid out by Ibn Khaldun

Two things:

  • The intellectuals were "infidel" hirelings, not Arabs themselves. Even "Arabic" numerals (which are not used in Arabic) originated in Hindu India.
  • The conditions which allowed Muslim leaders to create intellectual flowerings have long since been crushed by suffocating orthodoxy.  Today, "innovation" in Arabic is "bid'a", and it's a dirty word.

But the Arabs used the zero, which is the key to mathematics, before whites did.

But the point you're really missing is that empires centered in the Middle East/Africa and in Europe have been trying to conquer each other for thousands of years. Whichever one gets on top, by military means, suddenly has a burst of prosperity and confidence, in which open-mindedness and tolerance flourish. Then things go wrong, foreign domination looms, and the culture develops a thick shell to avoid being aborbed by the enemy. Monotheism has greatly strengthened their ability to do this in the last cycle.

Can't I argue that in 732 AD it would have been the height of market rationality for Europe to lay down its arms and embrace Islamic rule, based on exactly the capitalist tropes used to justify our domination of the Middle East today? Neither religion allowed charging interest then, but the Islamic world's trading network was far larger and more prosperous, meaning Smithian benefits. Europe's cities would have greatly improved, the eternal wars between its murderous landlords restrained, and my God, there would actually have been education outside the monasteries.

But they didn't surrender. That's my twisted point. Europe survived by irrational faith in its superiority in the face of all evidence. Its bad rulers, laws and economics were not overrun, but instead faced off against each other in a horrible elimination tournament of war that lasted until 1648. Internally the winners of the early rounds of the tournament became great kings and used brutal methods to obtain a monopoly on violence, restoring conditions for progress. Europeans would unite successfully against Moslem incursions, using the barbaric skills they honed against each other. This unity acted as a filter, allowing the winning kings to absorb what progress they coveted from the Middle East and China without strings. In Spain, the Christians beat back a beautiful civilization, won in 1492 with the Inquisition at its side, and that year declared a war on the New World.

Whitey took over the world because of gunpowder and germs. All our sanctified technology, human rights, and Paris Hilton were a result of the wealth we stole at gunpoint, Pizarro's moutain of silver. Not so different than the Arab civilization before us. Our previously tolerant and civilized victims have been fighting back the only way humans know how, from Islamism to Maoism to Zapatismo. Not so different than the European backwardness before us.

The intolerance, cruelty, and bigotry of the Dark Ages was a response to collapse and the need to prevent being overrun by objectively superior systems until patriotic alternatives could evolve. Was it wrong? Then why is it wrong for Moslems now to resist our corporate empire while desperately searching for movements that won't sell them out?

The entire point of this website is that the West has made a horrible, terminal mistake, basing all it had on cheap energy and then imposing it on the world. You could compare it to the mistake of the Ottoman caliph in banning the use of interpretation in Islamic law, which prevented intellectual evolution, but it looks a hell of a lot bloodier. Every value we try to press onto Moslems was developed under conditions of stolen prosperity in the white world. Those conditions are doomed.

And now it is our turn to collapse again and become barbarians, and we sure talk a lot about it here. It starts with torture, religious fanaticism, wars of choice, detention camps, abandoned disaster areas. Yet I pray that my barbaric descendants fight against any superior alien invaders with sticks and rocks and massacres, because that's the ugly truth of patriotism.

Now if you don't like this endless cycle of conquest, then the first step in negotiating an end to it is to accept the sovereign rights of Moslems and mean it. We could have done it in 1919. We could have done it in 1946. After those Western betrayals and the death of Nasser, there are no longer any Arab leaders left to negotiate with who are legitimate in the eyes of their people. The damn cycle will have to happen all over again, Western collapse, the rise of those Islamic states with the last oil, the rise of trade between equals and competition between rulers leading to the demands of the masses for rational improvements. At some point, the Islamic world might choose to negotiate peace out of convenience, but the West by then might be reduced to Christofascist statelets, militia turfs, and anarchist havens.

Note that everything I said here could also applies to our past relationship with China, which clearly is getting on a roll like Islam in 732 and Europe in 1492. If we're incredibly lucky, a tripolar world might break out of this cycle.

@ super390

"Engineer-Poet" is on his own personal crusade at this point, but relevant to your post would be the reasons Islam essentially went down. Two things, mostly. Environmental degradation, and a series of invasions and the intellectual response to the invasions. The thought became too conservative and reasoned debate was no longer tolerated. The west side was done in by two waves in the 13th and 14th Centuries (Almohades and Almoravids); the destruction in Africa was so extreme that the previous glory was all but forgotten. The east side was done in more or less by steppe volk and then Turks. After the first Shia empire arose in Persia (Safavids) the intellectual climate in Sunni areas was consumed by the conservative response to Shiism. The Shiites themselves were never favourable to learning.

This should sound familiar in the present day, especially but not only in the US. The intellectual climate necessary for science to flourish is precious, fragile, fleeting. Our own age is the real anomaly, made possible first by capitalism, which found science useful to their struggle to wriggle free of the Church, and second by fossil fuels which underly technology and industry. Looking at the long range on this is one reason which turns some of us science types into doomers. One thing I fear will not survive the first century post-peak is in fact this very intellectual climate, without which it is very hard for me to imagine much of a world view. I really have to be able to disagree openly with the Power Elite.

On the Decay of Islam stuff, there is a good section in A World History by William McNeill.


Excellent post.

I think they both are excellent posts, Bruce and Super390. The appearance here of openly vented racism and anti-islamic views should be of profound concern to all who value TOD.

The credibility and good-will built up here so far are seriously at stake, and will be wiped out in no time if this continues. You can ask people to refer to Digg-it, in order to attract new readers, but if that kind of thing is their introduction, maybe we should all stay miles away from digging anything at all.

So thank you both for your attempts to bring a solid, un-biased, discussion to the table. And thank you, Leanan, for expressing your appreciation.

Keep the anti-western and anti-Israel views off here too, then.

Anti-group, anti-nation comments don't take into account that members of that group or nation don't usually have the ability to affect policy. Those in power make decisions that best benefit themselves, regardless of the consequences to those considered to be 'members' of that group or nation. I do not believe in the myth of the 'benevolent' ruler. All rulers act to promote their own benefit and supress that which does not, including oppressing(indoctrinating, manipulating,"fleecing") their own populations and engaging in activities that are detrimental to their own populations. Self-interest rules the day. Altruism is a lie.


Keep the anti-western and anti-Israel views off here too, then.

I hope you are not seriously characterising my posts in that fashion...

"One thing I fear will not survive the first century post-peak is in fact this very intellectual climate, without which it is very hard for me to imagine much of a world view. I really have to be able to disagree openly with the Power Elite."

What makes you think you can do it openly now. This blog, for all it's readership, is still a backwater current. Try doing it in a way that will get a lot of attention, and you could end up in Poland with a cattle prod where you don't want it or dead.






If you read Steve Kangas' Blogs you will see he could easily have been one of us.


An interesting piece. I would have liked to have had the chance to discuss it.

Did Gary Webb commit Suicide?


At least in our culture They let us speak. I never got in trouble for ranting in public...

It is when you organise that they really respond... read up on Judi Bari if you want, for more on that.

So no we're not the ideal case (arguably, it is actually a lot better in West Europe), but things are not as bad as they will become.


BTW, if you really want to piss off a Muslim, use the Westernized form Moslem.

I visited the museum in Cordoba (housed in a building on one end of the Roman bridge). It was a revelation to see how the Islamic, Judaic and Christian communities lived peacefully together in the Caliphate (in about 1000 AD). And the surgical instruments from that era looked equivalent to Victorian English museum pieces.

Cordoba, Spain, is fascinating: the mosque in the Jewish quarter contains a Gothic cathedral! And EP, I think Bruce is pointing out that, like all of us, Islam is capable of producing good as well as bad.

Best hopes for mutual understanding.

The question really ought to be what it's going to produce in the future, not the past.  It's really hard to believe that a religion which has the death penalty for conversion to another religion (cites upon request, recent examples from "moderate, liberated" Afghanistan) and threatens those who would liberalize it with the same fate is going to produce much good without a long, bloody interior struggle.  In the mean time, it's up to us to prevent the violent, intolerant forces from getting more powerful or moving to where they can be a deadly threat with only an SUV instead of an ICBM.

If you want to pursue this topic further, the place for it is Jihad Watch.

Maybe the real question is what is it producing right now? Lets look at a few simple facts. The Pashtun of Afganistan have never lost a war, yet we (NATO) is there fighting the Pashtun. Pakistans' ISI created the Taliban from Pashtun tribesmen to stabilize Afganistan and the Taliban did so in a brutal manner. Pakistans' ruler, Musharaff, is holding onto power by his fingernails and Pakistan has lots of nukes and lots of madrassas for training Taliban students. If Musharaff loses power to the Taliban we are going to be facing a nuke armed Taliban state of Pakistan. Of course, little appears in the US media about what is going on in Pakistan.

"And an interesting article about how dirt can cure depression. "

Yes,interesting. A week ago I was going to transplant some strawberries from my old garden to my new one. The strawberries had become lost in weedy growth and nearby rogue garlic(hardneck type) has spread extensively. The strawberries were trying hard to thrive by sending their runners very high in the air.

I squatted down in this rank foliage to dig up some of the plants but noticed some had produced ripe berries. So I grabbed some to eat right there. No washing of them, I just ate three or four and was picking the rest.

Suddenly I felt a huge constriction in my thoat, so much so that almost started to choke and get very ill. I surmised that some vapor or scent or emission was actually attacking me.

I have no allergies but some people , my wife as well , are very allergic to various plants,either wild or tame. I can work in poison ivy but she can't be even near it.

Anyway I continued to consume them and just as fast as it occurred it ceased, lasting only 2 minutes or so.

Yesterday I dug out some new potatoes and cooked them for supper. I sometimes pull garlic and eat the cloves raw in the garden,like right now when they are almost ready for harvest. In fact I think I eat some garden dirt when I consume lettuce or other things while in the garden. I have noticed that many of us here can eat poke sallet(boiled poke leaves fried with eggs) but those un-accostumed to it can get sick or ill.

So far I remain healthy. My wifes friend in was digging in the soil in Illinois and was attacked by some type of soil microbe that started infecting his arm. In one day it had infected his whole arm and the next day the doctor told him he could have died of it in two days. The man apparently had zero resistance to some very common microbes that exist in the soil.

In the Ohio River valley region, where I live, those who are not born and raised here can contact Histoplasmosis.A fungus?A form of lung infection that can be deadly. It thrives in a form of clay deposit in this area. Mowing your yard can make it airborne and become ingested. My step mother , from Missouri, contacted this and had to have major surgery and suffered for life with it after she moved here. She moved away back to Missouri when I told here she didn't need to be in Kentucky. We never got along anyway.

Being sequestered in a McMansion then perhaps could be hazardous to one's life. Taking all those showers. Crazy.

Who needs to take a shower everyday? My grandfather likely never bathed totally in his whole life. I never saw him do other than wash his hands and face. The same as the rest of us. Once a month you got in the washtub. He and other grownups never did that and we had no bathtubs anyway for who needed them? Sitting on the front porch one evening a mosquito lit on his forearm. He said to me "Watch this mosquito son." The mosquito probed around but never did bite him. Soon it just flew away. He never got bites. Mostly I never do either. Sometimes a flea off the dog. But rarely does a tick get me. I alway feel them. Chiggers never bother me either. Spiders likewise. Bees don't sting me but I have been stung by wasps yet an old man around here had such calloused hands that he could hold a red wasp cupped in his hands and it could not sting him due his work hardened hands.

Funny about such things that we can hardly imagine anymore.
Funny how being close to nature almost protects you against it. How our sterile lifestyle can then become almost life-threating in our perversities.

Airdale, how’s the moisture content in the soil where you’re located? Where I live, in Cumberland County Illinois, we have had only a couple of rainy days in the past couple of months. The soil is starting to get very dry and I’m forced to deep water my newly planted vineyard, trees, and fruit bushes. I went to the NOAA Drought Monitor site and noticed that my county is at the top edge of a drought area, but the areas south of me including Eastern Kentucky are in much worse shape than I’m in. This is really a double whammy after that late spring frost. What an introduction to farmers being at the mercy of the weather.

Bruce from Chicago

For much of May it was very dry. Then we got a gusher. Then a week later another inch or so.

For most of May I had to water the garden for the new plants to geminate and then once up not perish from the heat and wind.

It was windy and of course dry then for most of May. I did get everything to germinate finally and survive the windy days.

I am in Western Ky(far western,in fact so far that parts of west Ky are actually across the river in Mo. The river changed course but we kept the land!!!! Our land extends to the river banks in Illinois and Missouri.

So the farmers came out alright. The corn finally got up but its was indeed what we call 'spotty'. Some poor germination but most fine. The wheat that was no frozen(very little wasn't) is almost ready to combine.

Right now I can kick the garden soil and there is still moisture right about 1/2 inch down. I therefore till very very shallow so as to not let what moisture is there get wasted. To that end I pull a lot of weeds instead of deeper tilling.

This morning I got a bumper crop of blueberries. Lack of birds I believe was the reason for that and somehow it escaped the double whammy.

Right here on the western edge we get a lot of rain others miss , due to river effect I believe. If it comes thru Jonesboro , Arkansas then we will get it. We are about 3 weeks ahead of central Ky in term of planting and harvesting.

Our soil is premium soil. We pretty much invented no-till because it tends to erode very very easily if you are not extremely careful. So we leave the HEL areas pretty much in cover, grassy waterway , woodlands and so on.

Its now starting to look like a good crop coming on. Lots and lots of corn that hadn't been corn for a long long time.

Already they are asking me to work long hours driving the 18 wheeler tractor-trailers. We just now finished or still ending the soybean plantings. When wheat comes out then we double crop with beans.

Corn seed was extremely hard to come by this spring. If you didn't have some contacts you could have been in trouble.

Liquid nitrogen ran out soon. Many had to go to NH3 and that was way up in price.

Good luck ,

Hello Bruce from Chicago,

What is interesting is as soil moisture declines and area humidity starts to drop, it makes it harder for any subsequent rain to reach the ground, then penetrate to the subsoil. This is like an inverse exponential function of my glacial breakup posting upthread in this Drumbeat.

The heat island effect, which is common in the SW US, tends to make light rainfalls evaporate before hitting the ground. Any rainfall that is not sufficiently great enough to gently stir the topsoil, tends to calcify into a more non-permeable topcrust creating caliche, which is omnipresent in the SW:


This effect tends over time to harden into an impervious water-barrier that is as hard as concrete greatly facilitating explosive runoff when infrequent flashfloods do occur. It is not unusual out west to see a backhoe unable to dig with a bucket--insufficient hydraulic breakout force. They have to install a jackhammer attachment to bust the caliche up, then go back to the bucket to scoop the caliche out. Some places this caliche is quite deep, which greatly adds to any excavation costs.

Just as Airdale and others have mentioned: the addition of mulch to ease water absorption, reduce erosion, and to prevent caliche generation is a critical factor in achieving successful yields.

Areal drought thus may take a incredible amount of weather energy to successfully overcome. It takes a sustained jetstream shift or a hurricane to bring adequate moisture to restore productive levels of subterranean soil moisture.

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

Interesting. Here in north central Texoma, where I only had to cut the grass twice last summer, we haven't had a day without rain for weeks, everything is growing like gangbusters. I've had to cut the grass more this year already than the last 3 years combined.(Actually I don't have real grass. I let the yard go 'natural'(except small areas of planting) and grow as long as tolerable before taking it down, to build topsoil. I've been doing this for about 15 years now. You would be amazed at the difference. I've also let the Pecan tree starters grow, so my property is now covered in young Pecan trees.(As well as the older pecan bearing ones.) You would be amazed how quickly they grow. Future generations will eat from my Pecan woods.(Also, the house nestled among all these trees is a lot cooler for it.)

Airdale, what you say is proven out by science. Polio was an almost unknow disease until the advent of the very sanitized environments that wealthy families created in their living environments. That is why when Polio first appeared it was known as 'rich kids disease', and probably explains why so much money was provided so quickly to find a cure.
'The River: The Search For The Origins Of HIV And AIDS' is a fascinating read. It is about the medical scientists that pursued a cure for Polio and their probable accidental (?)complicity in the introduction of HIV while pursuing the cure. Long but fascinating and well researched book, if you have the time.

Hope your Sunday is going well

So here's the world according to Discover mag:

Islamists hate science.

GW is the sun's fault.

If the bees vanish we'll have a better planet.

Sun-caused GW will let us plant cool new plants in the garden.

and if there's anything we don't like about all this, we can just go EAT DIRT!!!

Hardly. The articles were quite critical of the ideas you list.

Science and Islam, billed as "the ultimate conflict between science and religion."

Thank you leanan, this is interesting.

It might be the modern world's "ultimate conflict between science and religion," but take away the oil from the region - or the radical reading of islam by fundamentalists - and no one would care (at least no one outside the middle east).

The "ultimate conflict" is not with Islam, or "sand niggers" as McFly called them. The conflict comes from the apocalyptic visions of the RADICAL Islamic fundamentalists and their proximity to the World's Oil Reserves.

(... and of course, there would be no "ultimate conflict" if it were not for the "non-negotiable way of life" of the Needy and Greedy West).

And because of it's political influence in the US, fundamentalist christianity is an even contender for the title to the modern world's "Ultimate Conflict between science and religion."

I read the Svensmark interview and concluded that he has described a connecting mechanism between the sunspot cycle and other cycles in nature such as tree ring growth which follows the same 11 year cycle. I also believe that solar forcing has already been figured into the climate change measurements and found it only explains one seventh of the increase in energy absorbtion. The other 6/7 of the problem is human caused.

That's about right... not zero but subdominant. It is a complicated topic but was extensively addressed in the last ten years, with most of the findings available by the time of the most recent IPCC report. Same for cosmic ray effects, which are even smaller.


To be technically correct, the amount of energy absorption is essentially unchanged between then and now---it is tiny
next to the Solar flux in and the IR flux out, which nearly exactly balance.

Actual energy absorption would be production of biological materials and sequestration of them for geological time, e.g. making new fossil fuel in the bottom of the sea or swamps.

Given we are burning fossil fuel faster, there isn't any net energy absorption.

Some may be increasing heat in the heat capacity of oceans and (lesser) land.

Greenhouse effect changes the temperature at which the radiative equilibrium happens, and we are changing that with chemical change of the atmosphere.

This may seem pedantic but I think it's important for people who push doing something about global warming understand how it works---because the kooks and denialists will use flaws in proponent's science (though irrelevant) to dismiss their push for remediation.

Hey, somebody noticed: AFL-CIO Calls on Iraq to Stop Threatening Workers in Oil Fields

Good. They are consistent. (Would be scary if they picked it up by reading TOD)

Wonder if they made noise when the law against striking was kept by Bremmer?

Full fields, empty tanks

The most disturbing aspect of the current situation is that terminals are running out of fuel and the lines are long -- and harvest has yet to begin.

Hey, why don't they burn ethanol and biodiesel? They said biofuel is EROEI-positive, now it's time to prove it!

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

Farm machinery burns diesel, so ethanol would not be of any use. Some of their pickups might burn gasoline, but many/most are diesel.

Hopefully some biodiesel is being blended into their fuel, but it's not like there are huge tanks of biodiesel sitting idle while they are scrambling for "rock oil".

This is really a distribution issue. Unfortunately, the crops won't wait until it is settled.

The medium-term solution may be that we need more tank storage in agricultural areas to make sure that fuel is available when it is needed.

Nothing is more critical than agriculture.

You got it. If every farmer had a still and a tractor he could then prove how much more efficient that is than a pasture and horses. Why ship energy around when you are sitting on so much right on the farm.

I can imagine this idea would go over like a fart in church. Call me sarcastic - guilty as charged - but let's get this model energy positive farm up and running. If farms can't power themselves, how are we going to live on the surplus?

BTW, can you use the leftover mash as fertilizer? I seem to recall they fed the brewery leftovers to cattle who did the further processing.

The sunflower-based biodiesel plant that is going into a nearby town will be selling the pressed seeds as a high-protein cattle feed additive. More cost-effective (saves on transport cost) than adding soybean meal from the midwest.

I suppose the real question is going to be whether using part of your land (or all of some farms and sell to others) for biodiesel feedstock, haul it to the processing plant, sell the biodiesel back to the farm to operate a tractor/combine/etc., or raise hay and oats on part of your land and use draft animals will be more efficient.

We are decades of breeding away from having enough draft animals.

Sunflowers yield 100 gal/ac, rapeseed over 120 gal/ac. Those are factory yields, if you concoct a low-tech press to do it right on the farm your yields will likely be less, but you also eliminate the round trip to the factory. Mechanized ag equipment requires something on the order of 2.5-5 gal/ac depending upon crop and cultural practices, so most temperate zone farms should be capable of producing all the biodiesel they need by dedicating ~2.5-5% of their acreage to oilseed production. That leaves plenty of land to produce food. As was mentioned, the oilseeds after pressing can and should become animal feed.

There is no good reason for anyone to lie awake at night worrying about how the tractors will continue to be fueled.

If you want to get fancy, torrefy the excess straw, stalks, hulls, etc. and use them as gasifier fuel for a co-fueled diesel engine.  Grow oilseeds to provide fuel for starting and pilot ignition (the high-octane gas is ignited by injection of high-cetane biodiesel).  This provides most of your fuel from byproducts and provides flexibility in the fuel supply without taking any off-farm energy.

Is that stuff fit for human consumption? I mean, if I get really depressed and decide to drink a bottle or two will it make me go blind? Permanently?

IMHO, one farmer in 5 or ten will run the still and another farmer will run the oil seed press. Local specialization is common now in many areas. Transporting fuel 2 miles is no major loss.

Small scale distilleries might be good candidates for solar asssted distilling, with rest of the heat coming from bio-methane or crop waste.

Livestock can eat brewer's grains, but there are strict limits as to how much they can safely eat.

Best Hopes for Renewable Solutions,


My thoughts exactly, especially since essential service vehicles in the local community (fire trucks, ambulances, shuttle buses, highway maintenance equipment, etc.) will also need a local supply of biofuel. There are undoubtedly some economies of scale to be achieved even with small-scale, appropriate technology applications.

but let's get this model energy positive farm up and running. If farms can't power themselves, how are we going to live on the surplus?

My point exactly. Better tell Vinod to get busy out there with that scythe and rake :^)

Any byproducts / side effects cannot be counted toward energy independence; if it doesn't produce enough biofuel to run the mondo-mega-agri-show, it isn't EROEI-positive. And if you can't do it again next year, and the next, etc. it isn't sustainable nor is it "green".

This brings up an interesting question. What is the most fuel efficient size for farm machinery?

My retirement dream is to buy some land and do some subsistence farming. From what I've read there are two levels of efficiency on a farm, the one man operation, or the agri-business. Anything in between isn't profitable.

But if you only have X gallons of fuel, what size equipment gives you the most acreage tilled and harvested per gallon. Just because modern farm equipment has reached the size of a house, doesn't mean the current size is the most fuel efficient. Just that it is optimized to provide the most profit using government subsidies and current economic conditions.

BitterOldCoot, look around for an old Ford 9N or a Farmall Cub if you want to go gas. These old machines were purposely built simple enough for a farmer with a monkey wrench and screwdriver to fix. They used to be cheap but their prices have been affected by the tractor restoration craze. One of these with a few implements and you are in business. A bush hog is a nice addition if you can find one.
If you want an older diesel the Kubotas are hard to beat for the price...if you can stand ugly orange.

good luck

I have a 1956 TO35 Massey Ferguson. I can leave it in the shed for a year, charge the battery, put in gas and it will start on the first crank. You can plow or mow all day on a few gallons of gas. The only weak link in these old tractors is the generator; I had mine converted to an alternator for $125.
I prefer the Massey over the Ford because the Massey has a two speed transaxle. Nothing will stop a Massey in low/low.

This article is by Kimberley Strassel, a member of the WSJ editorial board.

Ethanol's Bitter Taste

Corn ethanol seemed unstoppable, but a remarkable thing happened on the road from Des Moines. Just as the smart people warned, the government's decision to play energy market God and forcibly divert huge amounts of corn stocks into ethanol has played havoc with key sectors of the economy. Corn prices have nearly doubled, which means livestock owners can't afford to feed their animals, and food and drink manufacturers are struggling to buy corn and corn syrup. Environmentalists are sour over new stresses on farmland; international aid groups are moaning that the U.S. is cutting back its charitable food giving, and many of these folks are taking out their anger on Congress.

Call it a case study in how a powerful lobby can overplay its hand. While many members are still publicly touting corn ethanol, privately they are quietly backing away from another round of corn-mania. The most extraordinary sign was the Senate Energy Committee's recent ethanol bill, hailed by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici as "bipartisan" legislation for more "homegrown fuels." What the committee didn't mention in its press release was that it had built the legislation around Mr. Chambliss's cap on corn ethanol (at 15 billion gallons), and that the rest of the 32 billion-gallon-a-year mandate would have to come from other (still imaginary) sources, say switchgrass. The bill passed 20-3.

Seems both the left and the right are backing away from ethanol. The left due to environmental concerns, the right because they see it as a violation of the free market.

This has nothing to do with corn ethanol and everything to do with the "free market." Ranchers need to learn how to attach a fuel tarriff--like that of the airlines--to the price they charge for their beef. In other words, ranchers and others in their situation must become "price setters" instead of "price takers." This is what happens at Farmers' Markets.

karlof 1, I wish we could do such a thing, but beef prices are set by boys and girls who dress real nice and would not know one end of the cow from the other. But Hillary did real well in cattle futures several years ago and she did it without a fuel charge! John

The Real Cost Of Offshoring
U.S. data show that moving jobs overseas hasn't hurt the economy. Here's why those stats are wrong


The short explanation is that the growth of domestic manufacturing has been substantially overstated in recent years. That means productivity gains and overall economic growth have been overstated as well. And that raises questions about U.S. competitiveness and "helps explain why wage growth for most American workers has been weak," says Susan N. Houseman, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research who identifies the distorting effects of offshoring in a soon-to-be-published paper.

I know it is dangerous to assume any general and collective attitudes and mentalities but there can be a general drift to conversations. It seems as though the attitude of insiderdom, much like being the first upon an accident scene as we saw in the Great Gonu Debacle, is slowly being replaced by the realization that not only were we right, but the world is now waking up to the fact.

It's fun to have insider knowledge and feel special in some way, but in this case the reality of it all is no longer in the future but becoming increasingly present. In all probablity, society will experience the ugly side as a crude form of instruction before we get on with the bright side of fossil fuel replacement. The bitterest pill to swallow won't be the building of alternative energy systems but the demise of our current 'living arrangements' as Kunstler so aptly put it.

Do we expend our energy - print all the money you like and there are still only so many bodies and hours - on squeezing the oil teabag, replacing all the structures that consume energy with hyper efficient ones, or on maximizing the production of alternative wattage? What's the mix? And will history and scientific discovery prove that we made the wrong choices?

As I write, there are - despite the housing downturn - lots of totally obsolete houses being built each week, and stupid cars and trucks rolling off the assembly lines. The momentum of the madness continues relatively unabated. The Denial of the Denali. The only justification for it is that we will soon drill, at gunpoint if need be, every available prospect out there to give us another fifteen years of The American Way of Life.

Do I detect a somber note as we pass from the 'see how clever I am, I was right' to 'holy crap, our whole civization is pointed the wrong direction and rolling like a cement truck on a slope'? The transition point from predicting PO to dealing with the effects may be about now. The general society may never experience the predicting part and all its intricacies because the wreck is already over.

Sadly, I fear that the amount of inconvenient and ugly oil out there is still pretty vast. The undulating plateau may undulate for a considerable time and oil will still be coming up in some sufficiently debilitating amounts for at least a half century. Same for coal. Thus we may get the environmental liabilities without the pleasures of consumption. To gaily speed about for the hell of it - what a term - on a 2mpg speedboat or fly around sightseeing no longer have the guilt free pleasure that they once had. I'm glad to have lived most of my life in that era, but not particularly proud of the fact, since I was discussing the peak oil problem back in the early sixties when you were really a lunatic to entertain the thought.

What sort of international organizational capacity would be required to leave it in the ground? There isn't any viable option to doing so, yet the organizational capacity to get it out seems to be doing fairly well. At some point the Oil Drum has to become the Alternative Energy Drum. Continuing to finely scrutinize the details of a slow motion train wreck may be amusing, but I notice a general drift towards the mitigation side from the prediction aspects that predominated earlier on.

So, we may or may not have paased the peak of oil production, but I submit that we have definitely passed the point of guilt free oil production. What may be most responsible for that shift in public attitude seems to have been Al Gore's movie. When an ex VP makes a documentary, of itself a first, the world notices. History may repeat itself in some aspects, but it also innovates from time to time. This is one of those times when it must innovate.

We do live in interesting times.

Petrosaurus, Eat some dirt! Thats the prescription given above in this thread.

Just heading out to do some of that on my mountain bike. And thanks for the diagnosis.

"I was discussing the peak oil problem back in the early sixties when you were really a lunatic to entertain the thought."

That was stage one we are now at stage two where one discussing PO is considered a pest and party pooper, if not certifiable. :>(

A lot of change is going to be on a similar level to 'keeping up with the Jones'. One monkey does, other monkies imitate. The other monkies are noticing this place as they walk by, we have vegetable gardens front and back and we actually pick the fruit on orchard ladders (there are fruit trees, left from an earlier era, in every yard and most of them, if they haven't been pruned back to their main branches, just drop the fruit to the ground. There are numbers of large walnut trees and my wife and I carry a bag when we go for walks and pick up the fallen nuts, enough for cooking for the year ( we eat lots of them as my wife is a vegetarian and I am a semi reluctant one ... for the most part)

Anyway while we haven't been stoned or even reproved for not following the usual customs of vegetable and fruit procurement, the fact has been noted and has worried some. 'What to think?, what to do?'.

The place I live has still the basic bones of the age of small town, at least the older area, the back alleys and larger lots (at least by B.C coast standards...(looked at Googlearth Detroit and while I wouldn't want to live there the lots looked large like they could easily produce a lot of food a la Victory garden) Anyway here while they have been grassed over there still remains the spots where the soil is deep from previous gardeners work. In fact I covet my neighbours neglected garden area that would produce all the carbohydrate we need. That is one good thing about small lots, as long as you can find the Carbohydrate, potatoes, rice, dry beans it takes a very little land, if used properly,to produce all the rest of the vegetables one needs.

BTW my pet peeve is the use of the word 'Veggie', a rather obscene H and G diminution of the noble Vegetable ... my advise is not to use it.


They are slowly starting to 'get it'.

This weekend(friday) I heard a program on NPR(Ivan Plato?) about Climate Change and they really called it CW instead of GW most of the time.

They were interviewing some folks who really knew what they were talking about concerning how to be sustainable and what was being done.

It was truly amazing to hear this!!! I was driving from Nashville back to the farm. My jeep had a front end shimmy and kept it on 60mph. I was almost totalled in the back end several times by both 4 wheelers and 18 wheelers. Everyone must have been running 85+,no cops in sight.

It was very dangerous I discovered to not drive at the same speed. People were like half asleep and then I would see nothing but grillwork in my back window and a vehicle almost out of control swinging desperately for the left lane. Inches , mere inches existed between my jeep and them.

So its still madness but yet the message is starting to be hear. Even people in the gas stations are bitching about gas.

I think that we are soon to come to the witching hour.

I see it this way. Yes 'Demand Destruction' is occurring BUT....BUT when those who suffer is badly they will as a result being to DEMAND...(action verb) ...DESTRUCTION...

Get violent IOW.

Yes they will continue to drive but now they will be on hair triggers. Ready to look for someone to blame. It won't be pretty.

Airdale- demanding destruction of the wastefullness in this country...Heading into Nashville was surreal. Even the one cop car I seen was speeding..otherwise zip. Truckers were blowing everyone's door off and the speed limit for trucks over 4 tons and motorhomes was 55..hah.

Hi Airdale,

I think with GWB looking lamer and lamer there will be lots more room on the airways for Climate Change and maybe even Peak Oil. There was a rather lopsided program that touched on Peak on CBC 'Ideas' program recently, which is a start here in that direction.

Speed on freeways? I would like to see Southern Mexico once more before we buy the chickens (have pen and chicken shack all rebuilt now waiting the day), but freeways thats another matter, last time I was down through San Francisco planning to stop for the night, got in the wrong lane over the Golden Gate bridge at rush hour and ended up fifty hair raising miles or so down the road. I don't see how it could get worse but if you say it has, okay.

I think we are in for a slowdown in the future though.:>)

Talking of 'more room on the airways for Climate Change and
mayb even Peak Oil'
CNN's 'We Were Warned -Out of Gas'
1 hour special investigation was screened repeatedly this weekend, it was
framed around a 'dramatic but plausible scenario' of a 2009 Hurricane, opportunistically followed by an Al Quaeda attack in the middle east, this featured ex CIA
head, James Woolsey, Matthew Simmons and Richard Brandson. The former related America's vulnerability to a knock out blow, from oil supply disruption, with his house's specification following a simlar specification to GWB's solar panels et al.
MS reafirmed the problem of misplaced faith in ME infinite oil, when twilight is upon us. He was persuaded to relate his worst case scenario- total war and chaos, between neighbours, towns, and countries.
Richard Branson, who had thought a refinery of his own
was sufficient to stifle the price rises which had put a billion on his airlines fuel bills, had been startled
to find the tipping point of the environment and
the lack of leadership to
And has now invested 3 billion in corn and cellusoic ethanol
to offset his transport fuel usage.
The program was a pretty good summary of the state of liquid fuel, and difficult, limited future prospects, deep water(quick hits), tar sands (Canadian important but limited production), ethanol (Brazil sugar cane, 7x corn ethanol, Eroei)


Thanks Records,

If it is on again I will catch it, sounds very interesting. Anytime we have turned on CNN this weekend it has been presidential debates and I must say some of your guys quack just as mindlessly as some of our guys, gives us living in Duckland a bad image.

"And has now invested 3 billion in corn and cellusoic ethanol to offset his transport fuel usage. " Talk about riding on the backs of the poor, takes that image to new heights.

I just saw that too... via google I found lots of discussion from when it originally came out (March 2006). I just want to note they put their focus on tech fixes, though they did say these mostly won't become available fast enough. They tried to keep their typical CNN upbeat face. No mention at all on "power down" and even the decade timescale ramifications, and of course nothing on the class issues (squeeze-out, etc).


Hi Crystal Radio...I wanted to ride down to Copper Canyon last winter but could find no one to go with me. Three of us rode down to Mexico about 15 years ago but now everyone that I would consider going on a ride like that with said they were afraid of Mexico. After thinking it over a bit I sadly resigned myself to just calling it off. Maybe they are right? I have also heard from some bikers that were in town for Bike Week that the South West US is no longer a place to ride alone, even in broad day light. They told me that some bikers have gone missing, along with their bikes, to guys in vans that cruise the highways looking for lone bikers. The visiting bikers said they only ride in groups now. I sent off the forms and a money order for a new passport last winter and am still waiting. Its a sad state of affairs.

Must have been "Wild Hogs"

I pretty much spend summers riding alone all over the Southwest and never even heard of it, much less seeing it, but no one would have much interest in my old POS bike anyway.

As far as Mexico, it's one of those places where you have to keep your eyes open but probably is less risky then some inner cities in the US, you mostly have to watch out for "the authorities" and carry plenty of small bills. It is what it is, just got to go with the flow.

There are a lot of places where the older US highways paralel the Interstates. These are mostly still good roads, usually not too much traffic, and one can safely drive at an economical 50-55mph. You will hit an occasional stoplight, but not too bad. Just don't get behind a school bus after 3PM.

BTW my pet peeve is the use of the word 'Veggie', a rather obscene H and G diminution of the noble Vegetable

Oooooh, veggie boils my blood as well. I can just about live with greens.

H&G? Que'est-ce que c'est?


House and Garden as seen on T.V. programs and in magazines all about things like 'How to make a beige salad to go with the colour of the furniture'

oops double P.

In fact I covet my neighbours neglected garden area that would produce all the carbohydrate we need.

A thought that has recently crossed my mind: Might it be possible to revive the old sharecropping idea, but at the small scale community garden level? Say you are a serious gardener, well-equipped and well-experienced, but have maxed out your own space. Let's say some of your neighbors have some good garden space, and would like some fresh vegetables without spending a fortune at the store, but they haven't got the equipment or know-how or inclination to do what it takes to grow it themselves. I could imagine the serious gardeners offering a deal to their neighbors: Let us grow a garden on your yard, and we'll split the produce with you. Half the produce for none of the work - what a deal!

This could be a very feasible way to quickly ramp up food production in a lot of communities. This scheme could also provide a way for people who are good gardeners to go beyond self-sufficiency and do gardening on a full-time professional basis to produce a surplus for sale in local farmers/tailgate markets.

"Say you are a serious gardener, well-equipped and well-experienced, but have maxed out your own space. Let's say some of your neighbors have some good garden space, and would like some fresh vegetables without spending a fortune at the store, but they haven't got the equipment or know-how or inclination to do what it takes to grow it themselves. I could imagine the serious gardeners offering a deal to their neighbors: Let us grow a garden on your yard, and we'll split the produce with you. Half the produce for none of the work - what a deal! This scheme could also provide a way for people who are good gardeners to go beyond self-sufficiency and do gardening on a full-time professional basis to produce a surplus for sale in local farmers/tailgate markets."

Best Idea I've seen. Also there are a lot of older folks who would not stand up to the rigors of growing crops but probably own their own land. I think you just found a good post oil job.

Do we expend our energy - print all the money you like and there are still only so many bodies and hours - on squeezing the oil teabag, replacing all the structures that consume energy with hyper efficient ones, or on maximizing the production of alternative wattage? What's the mix?

Excellent question.  All I can say is, I don't know.

I do know that the $2000 solar-trough vapor engine created by those MIT grad students would supply all the energy I need to:

  • Run my refrigerator, computer, and a PHEV for my usual driving.
  • Heat my interior space and DHW.
  • Probably supply enough heat to run absorption A/C.

If you don't need coal or natural gas for heat and electricity, the price doesn't matter except as it affects commodity prices.  If you get rid of most of your need for petroleum, your sensitivity to price goes way down; if the nation does it, the price itself goes down as demand sinks.

Do I detect a somber note as we pass from the 'see how clever I am, I was right' to 'holy crap, our whole civization is pointed the wrong direction and rolling like a cement truck on a slope'? The transition point from predicting PO to dealing with the effects may be about now.

That's possible.  If so, it's going to take a lot more pain to get there.

Sadly, I fear that the amount of inconvenient and ugly oil out there is still pretty vast.

Ugly and inconvenient may be just what we need.  If it pushes people to buy that PHEV or that rooftop system instead of a new flat-screen and feeding the guzzling V8 boat, we may get there without a serious risk of collapse or other major troubles.


Do you have a link for the $2000 solar trough? Sounds to me like it might be the solution for Galveston. I've got plenty of bright sunlight, particularly in the months when an air conditioner is very nice, and our state makes the power companies buy back the surplus, so I might even make a buck or two.

Also, did you notice the article Leanan linked above about sequestering CO2 in the Frio formation from the Houston Chronicle?

A little search for "trough solar MIT Lesotho" yields:


There's more cropping up on sites like The Energy Blog.  I didn't find out what that crew was using as a vapor expander until just a few days ago.

Yes, I saw the sequestration item.  What I don't see is anyone building the hardware to use it.  Without caps or a carbon tax, it won't get done.

Nice post Petrosaurus! ...but I knew that nothing was going to change when I saw Cheney say 'the American way of life is not negotiable'
IMHO we will never face the full impact of PO because we will be overwhelmed by the effects of GW first.

yes, the old Chinese curse

From the link above The Great Biofuel Hoax

Myth #4: Agro-fuels will not cause hunger
Hunger, said Amartya Sen, results not from scarcity, but poverty. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, there is enough food in the world to supply everyone with a daily 3,500-calorie diet of grains, fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables, dairy and meat. Nonetheless, because they are poor, 824 million people continue to go hungry. If current trends continue, some 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry by 2025 — 600 million more than previously predicted. World food aid will not likely come to the rescue because surpluses will go into our gas tanks. What is urgently needed is massive transfers of food-producing resources to the rural poor, not converting land to fuel production.

How many times have you heard someone say: “We don’t have a food production problem, we have a food distribution problem”? No, we don’t have either, the problem is that people with no money or no means of producing food cannot eat.

Producing biofuels on agricultural land as fuel prices continue to rise will cause food prices to rise dramatically. The number of hungry people will likely double in just a few years. And as we slide down the downslope of Peak Oil the problem will continue to get worse.

We are witnessing today, the beginning of the end. And by end I mean the end of the world as we know it. All the optimists out there, who think biofuels, or wind and solar energy, or whatever, will somehow save us are living in a dream world.

Ron Patterson

Just watch. China will outbid us for the Ethanol, and we will have just turned our food into fuel and sold it to the highest bidder so ADM can make a bigger profit.

This weekend, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, along with nearby areas, in NSW, Australia, were devastated by an unexpected storm on Friday, dumping over 200 mm on the city and surrounding areas. I found myself caught out in the wild conditions, and it was quite interesting to watch the complete breakdown of a developed city's transport infrastructure as the roads became flooded and many routes became impassable. In spite of the situation, i managed to take the time to inform a few people that i met along the way, that despite the breakdown in transportation, not to mention power and other needs, we actually had it quite good, due entirely to the presence of cheap, available energy.

As i found myself walking down flooded streets, I couldn't help but consider just how much tougher this whole process will be as oil becomes a scarce commodity. With emergency services reliant on oil powered transportation, not to mention people's own abilities to move about, reduced availability of oil will devastate a developed nation's ability to recover from a natural disaster. It is expected that power may not be restored to some areas for a few days, and that is with the full resources of an industrialised country at the disposal of the power companies.

It was definetly something of a personal wake-up call as well, as i considered my own abilities to recover from such conditions in a world with a diminishing oil resource, as my own car was out of action due to an accident earlier on, and hence i was reliant on the rapidly degrading public transport system. Eventually i was able to get a lift to a friend's place with a random stranger, but not before getting very wet and cold in the process. My primary hope is that at least one person i spoke to takes a little more time to think just how fragile the systems we use are, and maybe will consider their own situation.

Naturally the media does not give any mention of this, however, it proves that once and again, unfortunately, people dont actually listen to someone talking about how fragile our infrastructure is, until it is in the process of being torn apart by the forces of nature.

This may have been an enlightening experience for me, but i would imagine that most people will happily drift back into their slumber, simply complaining about oil companies "gouging" consumers. At least one friend however, who i lent Deffyes' Beyond Oil to, said the experience has definetly forced him to rexamine what he had read about the concept of peak oil, and how although the slide down the other side of the peak oil slope may be inconvenient for the most part, it is when problems strike that we will most acutely notice the malfunctioning oil based infrastructure.

If you are after any information about this situation, and there are some good photos, i would suggest www.smh.com.au, or http://www.abc.net.au/newcastle/stories/2007_floods.htm

This is the way some of the highly likely future is going to play out.

First the grass,weeds and undergrowth will start to flourish and take over. Fields, meadows, and any areas that have previously been kept trimmed back or mowed. Large areas of farm fields are kept cleaned up with bushhogs. You have to keep your fields in shape else many weeds will very fast 'take' the fields.

With a lack of herbicide it will be even faster. With no fuel for the mowing and trimming it will take just one year for much of the ground to be waist high in weeds, many very noxious. Canadian thistle, johnsongrass,marestail,cheet and types of foxtail to mention a few.

If you have a garden you will have to constantly used muscle power to keep the growth down. If it gets away from you then you will not have plows to turn the sod. Once it reaches a certain stage then you can do absolutely nothing except burn it, the parts that are annual. The perennial will likely be too green to burn.

Burning can easily get out of hand. I had to one time fight a woods fire due to a neighbor seeing some brush on fire. It came roaring up the woods to my father-in-laws house down in the Ozarks. I almost passed out and barely stopped it right at the woods edge. It was frightening and the fire dept got there way afterwards.

So there it is. No power to break the ground. No way to kill the growth except primitive fire. You will have to engage in back breaking labor to keep your garden cleared.

Bringing in 'new ground' might not be possible without animal power. Yet there will be NO horse drawn equipment to do so.

Did I miss something? I can't imagine what.

Also many will NOT have heirloom seed stock. There will be little distribution channels. How are we going to make it I wonder?

Myself I have 3 reartine rotortillers yet I couldn't use them to till up my new garden spot. I am still fighting the compacted soil and underground story of old weed growth.

Finally winnning the struggle. I had a subsoiler and borrowed tractor but the implement had a different hitch and so couldn't be used. I had finally to keep making pass after pass after pass with the tillers before I could get a decent seed bed.

I shudder to think about doing it by hand.

Also it occurs to me that without animal manure as a fertilizer input that soil fertility will drop rather fast after a year or less of harvesting. Without something easy to replenish the nutrients what will most do?

I am stockpiling large round bales of wheat straw for that possiblity. Also intend to find a method of chipping downfall from the woods. I already recycle the grass and weeds I pull in my compost pile.

Also there is going to be an absolute dearth of draft animals. I fear NO ONE is thinking about this, all of the above.


Not quite no one. There really is quite an community of horse-powered farmers and loggers developing. Check out any recent issue of Small Farmer's Journal, or Rural Heritage, or Draft Horse Journal.

I know a couple of organic farms that are horse-powered here in New Hampshire, and lots of logging operators that work with teams (horses and oxen). Personally, I cut my own firewood, and skid it in with my Percheron mare.

Then there's the Amish :-) They are sitting on some verrrry useful knowledge/technology. If they're smart (and boy howdy, they are smart!), they're gonna set up as consultants for draft animal farming and clean up as the future becomes more apparent...

I have a Troy Built Horse that I bought in 1971 and its still going strong. I have changed the tines and tires a couple of times and do regular maintence on it. Stuff was built better back then, and its much heavier than the new machines. I never tried it on a dry field that had been fallow for years. Maybe I would have a different opinion of it if I did?

Good Luck

Airdale: Do you have a link to a good heirloom seed company?


Not handy. I don't order mine. I plant Rutgers(not hybrid) tomatoes and two varieties of open pollen corn I get locally.

If you just buy seed packets that do not indicate HYBRID then you can save your seed.

One of the problems is that many species that do well in one area may not do that well in others so I tend to stay with what works in my area but just make sure to plant enough non-hybrid plants in order to save the seed.

Actually all I save is wheat,corn, peas , beans and potatoes.
I could save the cantaloupe and the rest or just let some of it go to seed and save that. I did plant quite a bit of non-hybrid this year since its getting closer to the shitstorm.

In fact I planted some open pollen corn I had saved from 3 yrs back and every kernel germinated. But you might want to watch for cross pollination of species..I keep my open pollen a distance away from the hybrid corn for that reason.

I used to check with the heirloom sites but now just use my own methods as explained above.

I use the Rutgers because its not hybrid but also because it has enough acid to can well. I love to open a qt of home canned tomatoes in the winter. They taste just as good as the picked ones. I drink the juice which is very tasty as well. Make stewed tomatoes with the rest or a ragout.

Good luck,

Here is what I consider a small but good book on seed saving from: Seeds of Diversity Canada. Title: How to save your own Seeds . Fifth edition.


Airdale , Where do you get the Rutgers tomatoes they sound like what I'm looking for, since they can well.


fedco and seed savers exchange are both great choices

We have a paper calendar with Onion readings. The reading for Sunday, June 10 is

Bush Vows to Eliminate U. S. Dependence on Oil by 4920

WASHINGTON, DC-President Bush unveiled an aggressive initiative Monday that would make the US free of petroleum dependence by the year 4920, less than three millennia from now.

This sounds about correct.


That's great.

There is a front-page article in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution about Conasauga Shale Field, located in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia.


Cross Creek Ranch, Burgess' gentleman farm 110 miles west of Atlanta, lies atop what is potentially one of the largest natural gas finds in U.S. history.

Getting the gas out of the ground remains technologically difficult and commercially questionable. Still, gas fever spreads across northeast Alabama and into northwest Georgia.

In the mid-1980s, Amoco Oil drilled nearly two miles into the Conasauga formation right across from Burgess' farm.

"They had some real good gas shows, but, at the time, natural gas prices were plummeting," says Phillip Meadows, an Alabama geologist who surveyed St. Clair County. "The whole industry was going down the tubes, so they abandoned this play."

Natural gas sold for $1.73 per thousand cubic feet at the wellhead in 1987. In March 2007 it went for $6.56. Amoco's seismic mapping showed a deep (more than 10,000 feet in spots) and wide (40 square miles) skein of gas-trapped shale. Technology, though, kept folks from profitably sucking the fuel from the ground.

Interest heightened in the late 1990s as the Barnett Shale Field in Texas came on line. Engineers were now able to steer their drill bits in and around rocks to find the gas and send it skyward. Fifteen-hundred-foot seams of shale course through the Barnett Field, considerably smaller than the Conasauga.

60 minutes is going to air a segment about a tribal people who survived the tsunami in 2k5 by knowing it was coming(most likely observed the local wildlife and knew something was up).
despite the topic this is the kind of life that is sustainable, especially when you take away the couple of gas powered boats. though we will not all live to that point.

I recall this from the news shortly afterward.  They had lore about what happens when the sea suddenly recedes, which was also recalled by at least one Western schoolchild who had recently covered tsunamis in her earth science class.

I watched the segment on the Moken people, who 60Min presented as virtually amphibious. They did have tribal dances about the ocean receding, but, as presented, only the older people recognized and believed the signs before the tsunami. One old man warned people but the younger folk called him a liar. He ran to his daughter and took her by the hand, but she called him a liar, or that he must be drunk. Eventually he persuaded them to look at the signs and they all ran for the high ground.

Other Mokens were at sea and made for deeper water while Burmese shrimpers just kept working and were swept away.

60Min also said elephants and other animals ran for higher ground. Even insects stopped chirping.

Also, the Moken travel light, therefore shun too many possessions and have no words for "want" - they either take or give. They have no words for "when" - none of the Moken asked could say how old they were.

TrueKaiser, I forgot the name of the tribe but they spend their lives on small boats and have for centuries. If they cant get gas they will return to the sail, probably a lateen rig. They dont need no stinkin gas, man! To avoid a tsunami they need only to move their boats a few hundred yards off shore to deep water where the tsunami will pass under them as a long, low swell. They trade fish for rice and other items that they need ashore. They also know which seaweed to eat if they have no fresh spinach. If you look closely at a lateen sail you will see that it can be formed easily to a funnel for rain water.
I think they will survive because they have the ability to move fairly quickly with sails and can move to areas where the weather and fishing remain good as the climate changes. Also, they are less likely to be attacked by other humans. I think that birds, although they look fragile, have survived for the same reasons.

From the 1900 US Census...Table XV, pg. 19 of first chapter.

Number of horses, mules, and asses: 20,099,826
Number of males (employed) in agriculture: 8,771,181
Acres of land in specified* crops: 272,304,111

Acres per male worker: 31.0
Acres per horse (etc.): 13.5
Number of horses (etc.) per male worker: 2.3

In 1890 the averages were 27.5, 12.4, 2.2
In 1880 the averages were 23.3, 13.5, 1.7

The acreage per draft animal was pretty constant. Farmers farmed a bit more land, and required a few more animals to do it.

* crops: barley, buckwheat, corn, rice, oats, rye, wheat, hay, tobacco, cotton, hops, sugarcane

EDIT: US population in 1900: 76,094,000

I work for a company that is involved with the development of large infrastructure projects, including power plants (coal, oil, gas, and nuclear), refineries, LNG terminals, airports, etc.

I have been reading the excellent articles by Robert Rapier and others related to gasoline inventories; widening price differences between Brent, Tapis, and West Texas oil; high gasoline prices, and crude oil supply concerns.

The MSM blames the gasoline supply concerns on lack of refining capacity. However, I would like to point out to everyone here that my company has NOT seen any increase in interest in constructing any new refineries in the United States. And I would also say that global interest in new refineries is not above avergae. You would think that if what the MSM was saying about refining capacity were true, people would be rushing to build new refineries to take advantage of the high crack spread.

Just my two cents worth on the gas price situation.

Hello TODers,

Digging a Grave for Zimbabwe
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Long and detailed piece on Gazprom (Leanan maybe it should go in next Drumbeat?)


It has already been DrumBeated. Yesterday? The day before? It was originally published in Whiskey and Gunpowder, under the title, "From Russia With Love."


The movie is now available for US residents from New Video:


We have also founded ASPO Switzerland and have just held our first annual meeting:



A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash

is now playing in selected cinemas all over Australia.

More on: http://www.gilscrinefilms.com.au/

Press and TV so far are very positive:

ABC: "There's no doubt that the film assembles its facts with skill and
precision but its message is a pretty scary one."


Sydney Morning Herald: "Everyone should see it." (http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/a-crude-awakening-the-oil-crash/...)

Melbourne's The Age:
"This is an engrossing, well-constructed film with a grim message. The disconcerting realisation throughout is how obvious this all seems. One of its most unsettling aspects is the sense that it's telling us a truth we know but don't want to face."


"Not just an important film but an essential one!" 4 STARS! & FILM OF THE WEEK! - Tom Ryan, THE AGE.

"Al Gore's film look almost optimistic" – David Stratton, THE AUSTRALIAN
"…a superior film to Al Gore's climate change treatise in that it makes a stunning case for major hardline socio-economic reforms without resorting to any touchy-feely gimmicks" – Leigh Paatsch, The Advertiser Sunday Mail