DrumBeat: September 4, 2007

Futurist sees way to end world woes

BUSINESSES will need to rethink their approach to growth and focus more on sustainability and innovation to save the planet, says futurist and author Thomas Homer-Dixon.

Homer-Dixon, from the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, said the world was in the grip of five major stresses:

■ Different rates of population growth for rich and poor countries.

■ Energy scarcity.

■ Environmental damage in poor countries.

■ Climate change.

■ The widening gap between rich and poor.

Speaking in Melbourne yesterday, he said the combination of forces resulted in massive upheavals and destruction.

"Societies get in trouble when there are multiple problems and multiple stressors," he said.

Get Your Green on in Energyville

Chevron launched an online, interactive game designed to fuel discussion about the origin of our energy.

Energyville lets players select different energy sources to power their cities. They can choose from biomass, coal, solar, natural gas, petroleum, nuclear, wind or hydroelectric energy to run factories, light office buildings, and keep transportation and shipping moving along.

The game calculates the economic, security and environmental costs of each choice, and then calculates an energy management score. Next, the game reveals how the choices will impact the city in 2015 and 2030, a time at which Chevron calculates global energy demand will have risen by 50 percent.

GM posts surprise sales gain

GM said its sales of cars and light trucks, such as SUVs and pickups, rose 6 percent in the month to 385,529 vehicles. Car models saw a nearly 8 percent drop in sales, but that was outweighed by the the 16.5 percent jump in light truck models.

3 court cases for climate change

Even without a nationwide greenhouse gas law, environmental groups are going after polluters for causing global warming.

Farmers markets feed the 100-mile diet

If the food hasn't been grown within 100 miles of where we live -- we won't buy it. That is the pledge concerned foodies across the country are taking for the entire month of September.

Reach for the sky: Could flying wind farms help beat global warming?

A helicopter that doubles as a wind turbine. Or, to give it its technical name, a FEG (Flying Electric Generator).

Ethanol makers pursuing avenue 'Q'

A new microbe being used by biofuel leaders has the chance to change the way ethanol is produced.

Fuel for thought

The drought and harsh winter have led to significant price rises in fruit and vegetables but these are short-term compared to the impact some global forces could have at the farm gate.

When visiting food industry figure Guillaume Bastiaens told a gathering of his Australian counterparts in Sydney that he had never seen anything like it in his 39 years in the game, he wasn't referring to the quality of the city's restaurants or produce.

The vice-chairman of US company Cargill was talking about the global impact of biofuels on agriculture and food prices.

The Dangers of Certitude

One question we asked these journalists was “what do you see as the greatest weaknesses in the peak oil argument?” Half of their response—“the resource is larger than the pessimists think”—likely will not surprise you. The other half may: “It’s the sense of certainty conveyed about many of the issues.”

Our hosts had good working familiarity with history of peak oil forecasting, including the flawed early calls. With decades in the business, they had also seen dozens if not hundreds of oil and gas price forecasts miss the mark. In short, experience has taught them to be mistrust forecasts about anything. Soothsaying strikes these writers as a smug and dangerous practice.

Having followed the peak oil discussion for twenty years, we share this concern. In our opinion, excessive certitude may be the soft underbelly of the peak oil movement.

A New Push to Regulate Power Costs

More than a decade after the drive began to convert electricity from a regulated industry into a competitive one, many states are rolling back their initiatives or returning money to individuals and businesses.

...Of the 25 states, and the District of Columbia, that had adopted competition, only one, California, is even talking about expanding market pricing.

The main reason behind the effort to return to a more regulated market is price. Recent Energy Department data shows that the cost of power in states that embraced competition has risen faster than in states that had retained traditional rate regulation.

Australia: Petrol hike outstrips global rise

PETROL price hikes at the bowser have outstripped the surge in global oil prices by about 15c a litre, as local oil companies post record profits.

Consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday heard a submission from the NRMA in Sydney that margins for oil refiners, distributors and retailers were growing while motorists were being squeezed.

Australia: Caltex admits trying to push petrol price up

Caltex tried to move the price back up directly, by instructing its own sites to do so, and indirectly by withdrawing price support from its franchise sites.

A fuel pinch: Iran, Jordan and Syria each need to cut fuel subsidies

The flip side of the Middle East oil boom has been the exponential rise of the costs that most of the region's governments have faced in subsidising domestic energy demand—which is growing by more than 5% per year across the region. However, tackling these subsidies comes at a political price, as the governments of Iran, Jordan and Syria have recently become painfully aware. In Iran, the imposition of gasoline rationing provoked sporadic riots and has contributed to the increase in tensions within the government, as reflected in the recent replacement of the oil and planning ministers and the central bank governor. The Jordanian finance minister recently resigned after he was prevented from raising gasoline prices, and the Syrian government is bracing itself for a backlash as it prepares to announce steep increases in fuel prices.

Postponing is a Correct Choice and Modifying the Decision is a Must

Circles within the Syrian government announced yesterday that the government would postpone its decision concerning re-offering subsidies of energy prices in Syria, or, as most Syrians see it, stopping the government’s support of prices of the basic fuel materials, till more talks and discussions, as well as surveying opinions of the Syrian citizens.

More than 1000 march in Laputta

More than 1000 people took to the streets in the Irrawaddy town of Laputta today, to protest the Burmese military’s recent decision to drastically increase fuel prices.

Nepal: Oil subsidy to continue till CA polls

The government has expressed readiness to cover the oil losses of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for the next three months in order to address the current oil crisis and ensure normal supply of petroleum products till the constituent assembly polls conclude.

Sinopec sees profit squeeze from expensive crude and domestic price controls

China Petroleum & Chemical, Asia's biggest refiner, may extend losses from processing oil unless the cost for a barrel of the fuel falls below $64, two company officials said.

Domestic fuel prices have been kept below global levels by the government, causing refining losses for China Petroleum, one of the officials said Friday in Shanghai, asking not to be identified because of company policy.

China: Authorities wary on oil price reform

The mainland on Tuesday said it would be a gradual and long process to fully link its domestic fuel prices to international markets, in a bid to protect vulnerable consumers such as farmers and urban poor.

“Reform of China’s fuel prices is a subject worth serious studies,” Chen Deming, vice-chairman of the National Development & Reform Commission told a news conference. “We can’t possibly achieve that in one big step.”

Additional gasoline for private cars: Iran Ministry

The Iran government has agreed to allocate 100 liters of additional gasoline for facilitating the travel of families on the eve of the new school year (starting September 23).

Oil Ministry’s Caretaker Gholamhossein Nozari said families should not be worried about the shortage of gasoline, as the government aims to minimize their problems, Fars News Agency reported.

Argentinean natural gas cuts continue to curtail Chilean methanol production

Argentine gas has been in short supply since 2004 as demand has risen faster than production and the replacement of reserves. During the winter months (late May to mid-August), the country ran a deficit of 2,000 MW, or 10% of peak demand, and 40 million cu m/d, or 30% of average demand, on cold days.

The effect that the shortage has had on petrochemical production in Argentina and neighboring countries has been widespread.

The Philippines: The coming power crisis in the Visayas

The economy is growing at a higher rate than expected. This means increased consumption of fuel and electricity. Some concerned representatives of the electric power industry in Cebu are already sounding the alarm.

Organic crisis as farms face high feed prices

RISING feed costs are forcing nearly half the organic livestock farmers in England and Wales to consider reducing stock numbers, or even abandoning organic production.

Can India reduce its energy consumption

The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas over the years has been making concerted efforts to accelerate exploration and production of oil and natural gas in India.

Sri Lanka to produce oil by 2010

Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development Minister A. H. M. Fowzie yesterday disclosed Sri Lanka will able to produce it’s own crude oil by the year 2010 from oil exploration in the Mannar basin.

Eight blocks in the Mannar basin has already been identified to commence oil exploration activities. Of these eight blocks, two blocks have been given to India and China.

Gazprom to get Karachaganak gas only in 2012

Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom will not gain access to gas from the huge Karachaganak field in Kazakhstan before 2012, the company said on Monday, disclosing the timeframe for the first time.

Gazprom is counting heavily on imports of gas from Central Asia as its own production stagnates and new fields are not expected to come on stream before the middle of next decade amid rising demand for gas in Europe and at home.

Analyst: Increased Research Less Effective than Partnerships

Increased investment in research by Mexico's national oil institute (IMP) as stipulated in the new fiscal reform proposal for state oil company Pemex should not be oversold, according to George Baker, research director of Houston-based consultancy Energia.com.

..."I have a bigger budget, can I write a better novel? Probably not. We're talking about what has to happen to make creativity and technological advancement possible. You have to ask the question whether with all this new money they would just be reinventing the wheel, with what oil companies already know," Baker said.

A new proposal for the old Maine Yankee site gets a mixed local reaction

The plant would use coal and a small amount of biomass — think waste lumber — to generate electricity in a process Houldin says is more efficient and cleaner than traditional coal-fired power plants. The plant would not be "burning the coal," Houldin makes clear, but "gasifying" it, a process that breaks down coal or any other carbon-based feedstock into its basic chemical components and produces synthetic gas known as "syngas," which is burned to create electricity.

EU climate flight plans 'deluded'

European Union proposals to reduce the climate impact of flying will not work, a report concludes.

The EU plans to include aviation in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

But analysts at the Tyndall Centre, a prestigious UK climate research body, say this will have minimal effect without a major rise in carbon prices.

Ethanol, wind energy stand to benefit from energy bill

Congress returns to work this week with unfinished business important to some growing sectors of Iowa's economy - fuel ethanol and wind energy.

China bans new gas-fed methanol plants to cut down on pollution

China's top economic planner has banned new natural gas-fed methanol projects, as well as several other types of plants, in an attempt to prioritize gas for city consumption to cut pollution, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in an announcement late yesterday.

In addition to new natural gas-fed methanol projects, the policy also bans new gas-fired power plants near big coal mines and new liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects with gas sourced from medium and large gasfields.

Richard Heinberg's Museletter - Peak Everything

During the past few years the phrase Peak Oil has entered the global lexicon. It refers to the moment in time when the world will achieve its maximum possible rate of oil extraction; from then on, for reasons having mostly to do with geology, the amount of petroleum available to society on a daily or yearly basis will begin to dwindle. Most informed analysts agree that this will happen during the next two or three decades; an increasing number believe that it is happening now - that conventional oil production peaked in 2005–2006 and that the flow to market of all hydrocarbon liquids taken together will start to diminish around 2010. The consequences, as they begin to accumulate, are likely to be severe: the world is overwhelmingly dependent on oil for transportation, agriculture, plastics, and chemicals; thus a lengthy process of adjustment will be required. According to one recent U.S. government-sponsored study, if the peak does occur soon replacements are unlikely to appear quickly enough and in sufficient quantity to avert what it calls "unprecedented" social, political, and economic impacts.

Fuel Oil Beats Gasoline, Diesel on Shipping Demand

Fuel oil for the first time in two years is rising faster than gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, increasing the cost of ocean freight and electricity.

Demand for the fuel used in marine engines and power plants is accelerating because the world shipping fleet is growing at a record pace. Refiners are selling less fuel oil, the residue from refined crude, as they invest $20 billion over the next five years in more-profitable products.

India: 2 gas-based power plants on cards

Power Minister Aleixo Sequeira said that the government shortly proposes to call for Expression of Interest for two power generating plants of 250 mw each. Being the cleanest and cheapest fuel, the government would prefer to use gas instead of coal and naphtha, he said talking to reporters in the Secretariat. Sequeira said the government wants to ensure that the State doesn’t suffer due to the shortage. As reported earlier, the power situation is turning grim with the State facing a deficit of 40-50 mw per day from 7 pm to 11 pm. The State is paying heavy for overdrawing power from the grid during this period.

OPEC Unlikely to Raise Production at Sept 11 Meeting

The distinct possibility of current market turmoil hitting energy demand will stop OPEC ministers from increasing production quotas next week, analysts said.

If OPEC was to raise supply at a time when prices are vulnerable to weakness because of increasing risk aversion, oil would almost certainly fall, they said, making a production increase a less attractive option for ministers whose income relies on the commodity.

Gas Attack

Burma's natural resources would provide a more prudent government with enough cash to plug its fiscal holes, bring inflation under control, and start making infrastructure investments. Large and exploitable natural-gas fields in the Gulf of Martaban and the Bay of Bengal could deliver income of around $2 billion a year for the next 40 years. Most of that gas is exported to Thailand, but supplies about to come online are currently subject to a three-way bidding war between China, India and South Korea.

But the deal is already starting to go downhill. China thus far has not offered the highest price for the resources but is likely to win the bidding anyway. The junta apparently is prepared to sacrifice desperately needed revenue to thank China for vetoing sanctions against it this year at the U.N. Security Council.

China: Policy on natural gas streamlined

China has enacted a new industry policy on natural gas use to address the supply shortage and optimize usage, the nation's planning agency said yesterday.

The guideline says residential gas use is a top priority, while usage in petrochemical plants is discouraged, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its Website.

China Cosco to Buy Dry-Bulk Fleet for $4.6 Billion

China Cosco Holdings Co. will buy the world's largest fleet of dry-bulk ships from its parent for 34.6 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) in cash and stock to take advantage of rising imports of iron ore, coal and grain.

More Mideast-China investment 'hampered by culture'

Greater investment between the Middle East and China is being hampered by a lack of understanding between the two cultures, a conference in the United Arab Emirates heard on Monday.

The warning came despite trade between the two doubling since the year 2000 and projections of massive investment by some Middle Eastern states in Asia over the next five years -- with most of that money going to China.

Forth crossing 'must be multi-use'

A PARLIAMENTARY motion demanding a new Forth crossing that can include light rail yesterday won universal support from Scottish business groups.

The motion, supported by Des McNulty, Labour's transport spokesman, said:

That multi-use transport options should feature more prominently in the Forth Replacement Crossing Study (FRCS).

That a road-only crossing would be "short-sighted" and "does not adequately address issues of growing traffic congestion".

...It also noted the possibility of "peak oil" - the time when global oil supplies begin to drop - being reached in the next ten years.

Geothermal loops to save school money

Players scrimmaging on the football field at the Circle of Nations School probably have no idea they’re trampling over parts of the campus cooling-and-heating system.

But there’s no worry that their cleats will cause any damage – loops for a geothermal heating and cooling exchange are buried deep underground, where consistently mild temperatures help to significantly reduce energy costs.

Refinery to shut down in October for a month

One of Colorado's two refineries in Commerce City that turn crude oil into gasoline and diesel will be shut down for a month beginning Oct. 1, possibly squeezing fuel supplies and pushing up prices at pumps.

Owner Suncor Energy said the planned shutdown for maintenance work has been scheduled for October because that month typically sees low demand for gasoline from drivers.

But a refinery customer, Gray Oil Co., a wholesale buyer of gasoline and diesel, is concerned. Shutting down the refinery could hamper fuel supplies that already are tight, said Bryant Gimlin, energy risk manager at Gray Oil.

Also, given this year's expected bumper crop of corn in October, the shutdown could make it hard to meet diesel demand from truckers.

The Global Economy: From Capital Markets to the Price of Oil

The facts show that demand outstripped supply in the first five years of this millennium, except for 2002. Other than that, supply has always outstripped demand. Average daily supply reached 80.14 million barrels and demand was 79.88 million barrels. Between 2001 and 2005, supply grew by 2.2% and demand by 1.95% annually. These figures shed suspicion over the reasons why oil prices have risen world-wide and their real state was concealed, with the goal of siphoning off oil reserves in order to float the "greed" of the US market with a weak dollar in the face of major currencies - thus affecting those regions using the Euro, the UK, developing countries (foremost among them China and India), as well as Japan. This hiked up the price of production.

Oil rises on hurricane concerns

"Market participants are keeping an eye on Hurricane Felix, but at this point it doesn't really look like it'll affect oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, and also, it has weakened to a Category 4 storm," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore.

..."But the hurricane is a reminder to everybody that we're entering the peak hurricane season, so the crude oil futures market continues to face upward exposure."

Crunch Time - Kunstler

I haven't changed my view of what is happening to us. We have run out our string of stunts and tricks in the money rackets. We've spent our legitimacy. The rest of the world will strive mightily to get free of their obligations to us, including their respect for the value of our currency. The meta-cycle of suburban development, including the "housing" and all its accessories in roads and chain stores, is hitting the wall of peak oil. The suburban build-out is over. This will come as an agonizing surprise to many. The failure to make infinite suburbanization the permanent basis for an economy will rock our society for years to come. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men with pick-up trucks and panoplies of power tools will feel horribly cheated. I hope they don't start an extremist political party when the re-po men come to take their trucks away.

A letter to President Bush regarding “The Surge”

I have a feeling President Bush is fully aware of Peak Oil and the stakes on the table for America. I think he was speaking from his heart when he said in his State of the Union Address, “America is addicted to oil!”

I evem have a hunch that every morning President Bush is in the Oval Office he fires up his computer and can’t help but sneak a peek at www.energybulletin.net to check out the latest Peak Oil news.

Europe photovoltaic capacity seen tripled by 2010

Installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, which turn sunlight into power, will triple by 2010 to 3 gigawatts (GW) in Europe due to efforts to fight climate change, the sector's industry association said.

Seacoast Sustainable Living Community

What if there wasn't enough fuel left to get all that great California produce we squeeze in the supermarket or if the fuel was just so expensive, we couldn't afford that delicious orange? Not finding the food we need might be just one consequence of "peak oil" which, according to The Community Solution, is that point at which we will be extracting the most oil per day from the ground than we ever will. And it will all go downhill from there. Soon we won't be able to afford the fuel that gives us our food, our widgets, our machines — so many things. That time might even be next year.

Against the grain

Although technologies like solar and wind power may have entered the mainstream, it’s questionable whether the spirit that guided their development – a fully sustainable future – has. Despite the amount of ‘green noise’, campaigners claim, not enough solid change is taking place….and time is running out.

China asks leeway on greenhouse gases

China said Tuesday it was working hard to increase its use of renewable energy, but needs to be given some leeway in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

China's contribution over time to climate change has been relatively small, an economic planning official said when asked about China's attitude toward the focus on the issue at a meeting of Pacific Rim nations in Australia this week.

Climate activists chain themselves at Australian port

Climate change campaigners chained themselves by the neck to equipment at the world's biggest coal port Tuesday in a protest ahead of a summit of Asia Pacific leaders, officials said.

A new Round-Up has been posted at TOD:Canada.

This is a guest Round-Up by ilargi.

Today, we change our focus (just) a little. Recently, we've paid much attention to finance. Still, while many see a toss-up now for which might hit us first, energy or economy, the prize may well go to the third contender: the earth.

AFP - Jeff Haynes

We were thinking about this, even before the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World published an impromptu edition. Ice caps, lakes and shorelines simply change too fast, and maps become outdated: the world no longer looks the way it did only 4 years ago. The editor-in-chief: "We can literally see environmental disasters unfolding before our eyes."

Still, we were already noticing articles on a wide range of climate issues, from just the past 4-5 days, and without even searching for them.

Global food prices set to rise by 50% in 5 years. Australian farmers pay 50 times more for irrigation water than in 2002. California cuts off water to farmers to save fish species, French wine growers harvest grapes 8 weeks earlier than in 1978. Russia considers a wheat export ban. Holland: bread prices to rise 20% next year. Milk named the new oil. UK: many crops just drowned. [insert deep breath] Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, had another crop-killing sweltering summer. Australia relives last year's drought (and this time may not recover). The UN predicts a global food crisis. Topsoil vanishes at record pace. 2008 declared the Year of the Frog: up to half of amphibian species could be wiped out in coming years - the biggest mass extinction since dinosaurs disappeared. North American songbirds: going going gone, and we all know where our bees are by now. Not here.

Satellite images of the Aral Sea 1973-2004: the vast saltwater lake has retreated as a result of river damming and been turned green by pollution.

None of the above mentions Africa and Asia, did you notice? Once we start there, we a/ run out of space, and b/ make people think climate change is not here and not now. It is. And it's much worse than we, facilitated by IPCC reports and Al Gore love-ins, like to think. "Will sea levels rise by 59 cm or 25 meters?" says another headline for a James Hansen article. Well, why don't we accept the middle ground? Better safe than sorry, right? Agreed, then, 12.795 m (42 ft) it is.

In Canada, we're headed for 2 trade-offs: the world's most polluted mammal, the beluga, makes way for the pine beetle, while the Prairies go from grass to shrubs.

Images showing how Lake Chad has shrunk: Left 1972, right 1987.

We are being lured into complacency by 'scientific' predictions and political announcements for faraway abstract dates like 2050 or 2100. But if Hansen's only half right, it's time to seek 'true' higher ground. Today. No amount of oil, and no amount of money, will ever bring back a million extinct species, or put the ice back on Greenland or Kilimanjaro.

”Its correct name is the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, though Moore soon learned that oceanographers had another label for it: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Captain Moore had wandered into a sump where nearly everything that blows into the water from half the Pacific Rim eventually ends up, spiraling slowly toward a widening horror of industrial excretion. For a week, Moore and his crew found themselves crossing a sea the size of a small continent, covered with floating refuse. It was not unlike an Arctic vessel pushing through chunks of brash ice, except what was bobbing around them was a fright of cups, bottle caps, tangles of fish netting and monofilament line, bits of polystyrene packaging, six-pack rings, spent balloons, filmy scraps of sandwich wrap, and limp plastic bags that defied counting.”

”“Except for the small amount that’s been incinerated—and it’s a very small amount—every bit of plastic ever made still exists,” Moore says, describing how the material’s molecular structure resists biodegradation. Instead, plastic crumbles into ever-tinier fragments as it’s exposed to sunlight and the elements. And none of these untold gazillions of fragments is disappearing anytime soon: Even when plastic is broken down to a single molecule, it remains too tough for biodegradation.

Truth is, no one knows how long it will take for plastic to biodegrade, or return to its carbon and hydrogen elements. We only invented the stuff 144 years ago, and science’s best guess is that its natural disappearance will take several more centuries. Meanwhile, every year, we churn out about 60 billion tons of it, much of which becomes disposable products meant only for a single use. Set aside the question of why we’re creating ketchup bottles and six-pack rings that last for half a millennium, and consider the implications of it: Plastic never really goes away.”

Interesting stuff - I was reading about the possible effects of ground up polymers on small marine life somewhere else recently too... not a good picture.

BTW - Peak Oil is the cover story in a national magazine here, by the looks of it: next week's issue of The Listener (NZ).

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

Minister to spurn SNP call to secure oil powers

Minister to spurn SNP call to secure oil powers

Tensions over control of the North Sea oil and gas industry will burst into the open today when a government minister flatly rejects the Scottish National party's call to hand powers over the industry to the Edinburgh parliament.

David Cairns, minister of state at the Scotland Office, will use a speech to the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen today to insist the economic case for devolving North Sea revenues is flawed and Scotland's interests are best served by powers remaining at Westminster.

For many years the UK Treasury (i.e. current Prime Minister Gordon Brown) tried to make out that London was doing Scotland by grabbing its oil and exchanging it for a lot of so-called handouts. Now, it seems that they are determined to hang on to it despite its massive decline over the past few years. :=)

I hope no one minds the primitive smiley above!

Edited for bandwidth and copyright reasons.

The smiley is fine, but please don't quote the entire article. A link and a couple of paragraphs is enough.


Is it a surprise?

There is no way that scotland will be allowed to gain control of oil or oil revenues. In practical terms scottish independence both relies on oil, and is prevented by it. Westminster will only consider casting the jocks free once the oil has run out, and by that point scotland couldn't survive without it (considering the handouts they get).

Its a synergistic relationship, the UK as a whole benefits from the resources that scotland affords, and scotland benefits from being part of something with a critical mass. Its a pity there are those that are always trying to pull it apart on the basis of a romantic ideal.

"Critical Mass" obviously does not apply to Norway or the zillion other small countries that are in the European Union.

I agree with you that Scotland has a dependency culture - that can be rectified if they really want to do so. It is a legacy of the Labour Party's electoral stranglehold over Scotland for a number of generations.



You forgot to mention the north pole becoming ice free within a couple of years instead of 50 and that increasing the odds of Greenland ice slidng off its rock.


"The entire length of the Northwest Passage is navigable," said Trudy Wohlleben, senior ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service, a government agency.


But with some crops now just 10 days from failure, farmers are to receive no water at all for irrigation through the summer, while others will get a fraction of their regular entitlement to keep alive vital plantings like citrus trees and grapevines.

"It's grim. The water is not there," says Wendy Craik, the head of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission which oversees storage in the country's longest river and dam system.


from Reuters re Felix:

"Up to 40,000 Hondurans were evacuated to shelters, but some 15,000 people were unable to find transportation and were forced to ride out the storm in their homes.

"They couldn't be evacuated because there is no fuel to take them to safe areas," said Carolina Echeverria, a deputy from Cabo Gracias a Dios on the border with Nicaragua, where Felix was headed."


My brother just returned from a village in the mountains on the border there. It's a challenge to get in and out at the best of times and it isn't just fuel; vehicles per capita is more like vehicles per village.

Major disruptions of transport by huge strikes by the Campesinos Unidos or peasant's union have probably diminished fuel stores. Blockades made their point but probably forced many to take large detours. Regardless, there isn't much of an alternative to hunkering and praying in these areas.

I'm glad he's not still down there.

Re Aussie protests against coal exports and
(as Stoneleigh points out) a likely poor wheat harvest due to climate change...hmm maybe there's a connection. But the APEC indefinite-growthists won't get it. While Bush stopped over in Iraq en route to the conference the Chinese Premier was checking out LNG and iron ore deals in mining areas. Australia is doing OK because it will peak later than the rest of the world in several key commodities. However in a few years we'll be left with holes in the ground where rivers used to be and holes in the ground where mineral deposits used to be. As I see it the APEC love-in will only speed that process.

Our local gas stations are moving to $ 3.24 today - Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.

From what? Prices in most of the country are ~$2.70ish

Up from $ 2.86 to $ 3.09 range

I just had my oil tank filled for the winter at $2.59 per gallon. This was a one-day 10 cent price drop on Friday before labor day. Today it's back up. Last year I had to prepay to lock in $2.69 per gallon. If we needed to we could use the wood-burning stove daily and the 550 gallons would get us through the winter.

New USA Coal Plants Run into Resistance

A year after the nation appeared to be in the middle of a coal rush, widening alarm about greenhouse gas emissions has slowed the efforts of electric companies to build coal-fired power plants from hills of eastern Montana to southern Florida.

Recently, proponents of coal-fired power plants acquired a new foe: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid. In late July, Reid (D-Nev.) sent a letter to the chief executives of four power companies in which he vowed to "use every means at my disposal" to stop their plans to build three coal-fired plants in Nevada. Last month, after a speech in Reno, Reid said he was opposed to new coal-fired plants anywhere


Best Hopes for Alternatives, including conservation,


Unfortunately not building new plants does not equal to not burning more coal.

Using DOE data from 2001 to 2006 coal electricity generation jumped from 1904 to 1987 TWh. This is an increase of 83TWh (double the total electricity production of my home country). Source:


For comparison wind generation for the same period rose from 7 to 26TWh or just 19TWh. Source:


Impressive as a rate of growth but doing virtually nothing to reduce greenhouse emissions growth.

The elephant in the room during that time of course was NG rising from 639 to 807TWh or by 168TWh. Even though NG is considered "clean" it still emits half of the coal's CO2 per kwth, or 84TWh coal "equivalent".

Comparing 19 TWh of wind to the total of 167 TWh of coal equivalent in FFs says a lot about how much wind is helping fight GHG emissions.

For a comparison - for that same period nuclear rose 22TWh without a single nuke being added, so nuclear effectively beats wind without any hype around it.

Best hopes for a rational approach to dealing with climate change

P.S. I picked 2001 as a reference point as 2000 showed abnormally high coal production, a jump of 85TWh from previous year, following a steady increase during the 90s

You are making selective use of data !

This year, 2007, wind should supply 44% of the new MWh from new generation (from memory). *FAR* more than repowered nukes.

In the next ten years, new wind turbines will supply *FAR* more MWh than new nukes ! Wind is off and running, nuke is s_l_o_w_l_y regearing up for new plant construction (as it should).

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind and a moderate and safe nuke build-up,


BTW, in response to the $4+ billion nuclear reprocessing plant likely to be scrapped after a 9 month, 20 tonne undetected leak, you stated "that does not prove that it is a bad idea".

If 60+ years of operating experience and repeated MAJOR problems (tens to hundreds of billions for clean-up, now a scrapped plant, etc.) do not constitute a "bad idea" then just what does it take for something to be a bad idea ?

There is no fundamental difference between civilian & military fuel reprocessing, it is the same basic process.

Can you cite any other source than "from memory"?

I provided you a link with DOE data. Did you bother to take a look? Your numbers may be true for *new" capacity, but my whole point was that in case of coal, nuclear or NG you don't necessarily need new capacity to produce more.

Let me pick another time period - for the first 5 months of 2007 coal is up 14TWh, nuclear is up 7TWh and wind is up only 2TWh. Please read and comment the numbers before making hollow accusations.

BTW your graph is for capacity installed, not production. Wind proponents are keen on praising it as the 'fastest growing source' based on new capacity installed, but nobody bothers to comment on real world production data.

[edited to correct improper energy units]

New capacity x capacity factor = new production from new units.

Historical data, even from 2006, is quite misleading in evaluating the impact of wind since the wind turbines installed on 1/1/06 are significantly less than those installed on 12/31/06. Perhaps 30% of WT capacity was installed for only part of the year in 2006, producing a partial year's worth of production in their first year.

When dealing with explosive growth, installed capacity is a much better measurement than past production.

There is every reason to think that the MWh produced by new wind turbines in the next ten years will be far (order of magnitude or so) greater than the MWh produced from new nukes.

The past is simply NOT a good estimate of the future in this case. So your historic production data is of very minimal interest for future policy considerations.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind and a moderate and safe build-up of nuke,


I don't think your argument has any merit. Let's compare for example 2005 and 2006 when wind added 8TWh. It is true that wind capacity increased during the course of 2006 but the same is true during the course of 2005 and by similar amount. Clearly the two periods are comparable. For comparison the same 2 years coal lost 26TWh but NG was up 50TWh. Net GHG effect was likely neutral.

Looking at the numbers the fastest growing electricity sources in the past 2-3 years have been natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind in that order. You can't argue the facts Alan.

Your historic data has little validity for future policy considerations. Wind was *SMALL* on 1/1/2005 and is still small today (although about twice as big as on 1/1/05) as a percentage of the total installed base.

A hot summer vs. a mild summer (or winter) is enough to alter the capacity factor of coal & NG enough to affect the totals significantly. That is just random noise basically.


Looking at the numbers the fastest growing electricity sources in the past 2-3 years have been natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind in that order. You can't argue the facts Alan

is of no relevance or interest. You are commenting on weather related statistical noise basically (except repowered nukes, and there are definite limits to how much they can be repowered, a one shot deal basically).

Install 4,000 MW of new wind turbines, expect 0.32 capacity factor, and the US gets 11.2 TWh of new renewable generation in their first full year of operation (a bit more than the only new nuke I am sure of in the next ten years, Watts Bar II being completed, shut down @ 60% complete).

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind and slow steady build-out of nukes,


The basic truth that you refuse to accept is that wind can be built in large enough quantities and quickly enough to make a significant difference. New Nuke cannot be safely built quickly enough and in enough quantities to make any significant difference for till 2020 or quite likely 2025-2030.

Your historic data has little validity for future policy considerations.

I give up. I picked at least 3 different time periods and kept pointing out that contribution by wind has been overwhelmed by the additions of FFs and you keep insisting... on what exactly?

And doesn't the fact that a single nuclear unit will produce more than a whole year of new wind additions ring a bell? There was a time US was commissioning more than 10 reactors per year. And France effectively displaced all its coal and oil powered plants in just 2 decades. Why can't we?

In principle I agree with the slow build-up idea but NIMBY-sts and self-appointed environmentalists are trying to make it way too slow with the apparent goal of not happening at all. Since wind obviously will take us thus far we are all going to be cooked because of this collective madness.

Personally I'm ready to bet that contribution from coal will be the greatest in the next 10 years for US and will outbeat wind by a huge margin. Pick your bets.

And doesn't the fact that a single nuclear unit will produce more than a whole year of new wind additions ring a bell?

I reasonably expect that the wind turbines installed in 2007 will, in 2008, generate more MWh than Watts Bar II will generate in it's first full year of commercial generation. And the WTs will generate power for several years before Watts Bar II goes commercial (I am also willing to take a bet that they will take more than the scheduled 5 years to complete a 60% complete plant).

So I think your statement is false.

History is a poor guide for forecasting the future of wind (other than explosive compounded growth if we push it).

And the year that Watts Bar DOES go commercial, I can reasonably expect new wind turbines (installed in the 12 months before WB II goes commercial) to produce at least 4x as many MWh as will WB II.

There was a time US was commissioning more than 10 reactors per year. And France effectively displaced all its coal and oil powered plants in just 2 decades. Why can't we ?

Three Mile Island
Rancho Seco
Watts Bar I & II
Browns Ferry I
Bellefonte I & II
Fort St. Vrain
Indian Point 1
Zion I & II
Indian Point I

And many more.

You blame NIMBYs and environmentalist. I blame the nuclear power industry. A long series of multi-billion screw-ups BY THE INDUSTRY has dramatically raised the risk of building nuclear power plants.

Now with a 97% green work force, we are going to avoid the errors of the past ?


Time will tell. But without US Gov't commitments, nothing will be built.

In the next ten years, I expect Watts Bar II to go commercial and no other nukes (about 11 years for TXU I and Calvert Cliffs 3). Maybe Bellefonte I & II (TVA has $6 billion invested there, sitting for 20 years).

Looking at the numbers, new coal will likely beat new wind, but it could be close if one considers net new production (subtract retired plants).


I blame the nuclear power industry. A long series of multi-billion screw-ups BY THE INDUSTRY has dramatically raised the risk of building nuclear power plants.

Yup. If the industry had a history of success, then the industry could point to the success, instead of scapegoating. Right now, they say 'look at how little damage has been done' and 'see, the multi-dollar fines for poor operation just shows how well the system works!'

The whole topic of "the peaceful atom" will get discussed in other nations if there is a bombing of a fission reactor. Such a topic won't get an airing in the US of A however.

Now, how about this as a sample:
Armed Guard Found Asleep at Nuke Plant
Associated Press Writer

August 27, 2007

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A federal inspector found an armed guard asleep at a gate inside the Indian Point nuclear power plants but officials said Monday there was no security breach.

History may not provide a base for analysis but the experience of other countries should. Just dig out emission and production data from the so called "green super-powers" - Denmark, Germany, Spain. All of them are not showing reduction of emissions from the power sector or the reductions are marginal at best.

You should know it better and it has been shown many times - wind does not displace FFs. In fact it requires FFs as a backup where hydro is not enough (which is almost everywhere in the developed world).

You are submiting to your dream world of HVDC lines from LA to NY and pumped storage from the Great Lakes to Louisiana on your own risk. Are you going to take the responsibility when this logically ends up not the path taken? Your dreaming is just encouraging a dangerous distraction while in the meantime the arctic is melting.

Personally I used to be worried about GW, but after I found out that the arctic has lost 1mln.km2 of ice in just one year I'm starting to be terrified about it. I want to let you know that I intend to contact you in 10 years time - I promise I'll come back with the numbers and ask you do you feel responsible for effectively promoting coal?

eric blair I won't ask because I know he considers himself beyond any numbers or rational arguments.

Have a good night

I've been reading the discussion and I can't think how shallow some mind-reasonings can be. It's all about politics. Wind and Solar are the future, not because coal and oil aren't more easy as sources of energy, but because they will peak and are a dreadful solution for global warming.

So what if wind still doesn't generate much? It's growth is staggering. For anyone who doesn't understand statistics, one could get in the error of thought that coal is growing faster than wind because the capacity generator of coal is greater than wind. That's present. That's not the future. If you want to look at the future, check the percentage of energy that is wind-generated, and voilá, that's always increasing, not decreasing.

There is a line in here that says something like, the human misunderstands the exponential function. That's your symptom. You do not understand that the new power generated from the nukes did not meant an increase of power capacity. It just meant the increase of percentage of use of that capacity. There's so much capacity as there is, and now they are using 90% of it, up from 60% decades ago. But that trend is over, it should be obvious.

Oil and Gas will get more and more expensive to create new power out of them. Solar and Wind can only boom in such an economic environment. In fact, they already are, though they still are not very economical. Imagine when they are economical. Boom! Boom!

You mention the lack of progress of Spain, Denmark, etc, in terms of carbon output. But that is still close-minded pessimism, because these countries still run gasoline cars, still use a lot of carbon in power generators, etc. Progress is still going, they have still a lot of a path to go into. Now imagine such a path. And imagine how back far the USA is still. Like Chevron ads ask: "where do you live?"

One has to have a clear sight of the future. If I look at coal in terms of an infinite and "green" resource, I could not but have disdain of wind and solar. But its not. Coal will get expensive, and as a politician that knows that rome wasn't built in a day, I would know that solar and wind still need time, incentives and lots of investment, but that they clearly are the only future worth of fighting for.

You are submiting to your dream world of HVDC lines from LA to NY and pumped storage from the Great Lakes to Louisiana on your own risk. Are you going to take the responsibility when this logically ends up not the path taken? Your dreaming is just encouraging a dangerous distraction while in the meantime the arctic is melting.

And what do you intend to do about it? To get hysterical? Dreaming is not a distraction, it is a motivation, a desire. If one lacks it, I recommend suicide. Pick a good sharp razor and quickly cut the jugular. That's as efficient as it can get. If not, don't blame people for dreaming. Why can't people dream? The holocaust didn't stop making people dream. Hiroshima didn't. Why would the ice-less arctic do it? I've heard many times that it is in times of oppression that art and dreams most flourish.

In the meantime, I can't see but a pack of energy power generators in line, polluters and not polluters. In the future, a dream is required. There's unknowns known, but there are also unknowns unknown, you know? Who knows? Tomorrow, I'll freak out. Not today. Let's dream a little today.

Wind proponents need to prove that the exponential growth of wind power can and will be sustained. It is a very convenient assumption that since it grew 20-30% previous 2-3 years it will grow like this forever. The figure that really matters is that wind grew from 0.2% in 2000 to 0.8% in 2006. Very impressive, isn't it?

I have real world references to back it that the "wind rush" can not sustained. Denmark, Spain and even Germany are already backing off wind power. The reasons are logistic and infrastructural and are arising from the very nature of this energy source. It does not displace fossil fuels and does not reduce emission. Not a single coal power plant has been retired in these countries.

If you want to know why you should read about the technical difficulties of incorporating wind power in the grid.

Wind proponents need to prove that the exponential growth of wind power can and will be sustained.

Why? Because *YOU* say so?

You've done such a poor job of justifying fission power, why should ANYONE think your claim of "Wind proponents need to prove that the exponential growth of wind power can and will be sustained" has any kind of validity?

It is the fault of the industry and the technology that nuke cannot be built quickly. The industry killed itself through a long series of massive failures (not ended, UK may scrap a $4+ billion fuel recycling plant). Zimmer alone should profoundly scare *ANY* responsible Board of Directors.

I do support more nukes. I HOPE that TXU I and Calvert Cliffs will open in 8 or 9 years and TXU II a year later. I EXPECT that TXU I and Calvert Cliffs will open in 11 years. I recognize reality.

You are supporting a broken down car stuck/frozen in the mud. I am supporting a car that has just started rolling down a BIG mountain.

And my support for nuke will, in the end, do more good for the nuclear industry than will your "Rah Rah" support. For your type of uncritical support is what lead to such financial disasters that killed the industry for two decades.

I wish that it were different, but the industry killed itself. Half and third complete plants were abandoned, WHOOPS I, III, IV, V were sold as scrap.

T Boone Pickens has announced plans to build 4 GW of wind turbines for $6 billion. He could have bought a nuke for that (two according to industry claims). Why didn't he ?

BTW, Louisiana would be best served by a triangle of HV DC lines from wind turbines in west Texas, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas (pumped storage) and Louisiana (and our two existing nukes plus a couple more and some solar PV PLUS a lot of conservation).

And wind does in fact displace fossil fuels. A cold back-up plant does not consume fossil fuels. WTs do not require significant spinning reserves (basically zero), whilst nukes require MASSIVE spinning reserves ! It is nukes, and not wind, that have the hidden FF burning supporting their daily operations.

As of 6/30/2007, Texas had 3,352 MW of wind turbines in operation (significantly more as of this morning, probably one or four MW more by late this afternoon) and 1,246 MW under active construction. All those under construction PLUS some not yet started will be in operation by 12/31/08. I see that as positive support for reduced GHG. As well as conservation, the other large scale quick response.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind and a moderate build-up of nuke,


First I don't consider a industry that provides 1/5 of electricity and about 30 times as much as wind a failed industry.

With close to 150 civilian reactors ever built in the US the percentage of the failed ones is relatively small, less than 10%. And most of them failed because of economic reasons - cheap coal and NG, high interest rates which would have also killed wind projects too. The percentage of poorly built or managed ones is relatively small... and it can be safely asserted that those mistakes from the past are well taken into account.

As you know wind hardly displaces backup capacity. I have met estimates that it can safely displace only 7 to 8% of its nameplate capacity, and this percentage goes down with increasing wind penetration. What you fail to take into account is that "cold backup" is not cold at all. It has to be kept running and vary by the minute to match both wind and demand variation. First this causes the plants to run more inefficiently and produce more GHG, second there is the obvious paradox that for each kwth of wind produced there must be several FF kwth produced just to fill the gap between varying wind and the demand. So wind will always require FFs - at least in the foreseeable future.

This problem does not exist with nuclear - France, Lithuania have demonstrated more than 75% penetration. Overcapacity plants can simply be shutdown at night for maintenance. Or the electricity may be balanced with hydro or exported - the marginal cost of a nuke kwth is almost negligible.

At the same time not a single country has demonstrated more than 10% wind (I'm excluding Denmark - as a matter of fact wind meets only 5% of its local consumption the rest is dumped on the Norwegians). Denmark and Germany have not decommissioned a single coal power plant and the coal industry is as strong as ever - mostly because wind unreliability and the lack of nuclear assure it will be there to stay.

Finally - I am very far from uncritical to the US nuclear industry. I also think they screwed up big time on many accounts, but this pales in comparison what the Soviets did. I know it will be a pain until it recovers its credibility, but let's face the facts - in spite of several mishups and financial disasters, not a single person has been killed by a radiation incident in the US and the environment has nowhere been affected in any significant way.

Coal kills by the hundreds and destroys large areas and nobody calls it a "failed" industry. Why?

Re: tens to hundreds of billions to clean up fuel reprocessing plants. I guess you can provide the source for this information too?

BTW what you said somehow contradicts official information:

Thorp restart approved

Do you have some different insider information?

Best hopes for rational discussions of non GHG energy production.

I did not see that regularity approval (although UK nuke regs tend to be generally far too lax). No actually restart has been announced AFAIK (via Google).

As of today, Sellafield has been a massive financial disaster. A $4+ billion plant idled for over 2 years, with most of the personnel kept on the payroll.

The UK gov't is in between a rock and a hard spot. Scrap Sellafield and there is no means of disposing of waste fuel.


You need something to back your assertion that Sellafield has been a financial disaster. The plant has been operating since 1994, so it has 11 years of operation which have generated a certain cash flow.

Personally I am all for being precautionary about the nuclear safety, but the fact of the matter is that nothing disastrous happened with the leak incident. The plant behaved as designed and the leak was contained within the secondary containment. Of course the operator must work on the safety procedures, but again - nothing disastrous happened and nobody was hurt.

If I owned stock in a $4+ billion plant (say a petrochemical plant or world's largest aluminum refinery), it had a major and dangerous leak for 9 months (long enough to potentially get past a secondary barrier BTW). It was down for over 2 years with no clear restart date in sight, meanwhile I have to keep most of the skilled payroll twiddling their thumbs (money out nothing in) AND the governments of Ireland and Norway were calling for permanent closure, then I would call that plant a MAJOR FINANCIAL DISASTER !

Just what is a financial disaster to you ? Three Mile Island ? Zimmer ? WHOOPS I, III, IV, V ? Watts Bar I & II ? Browns Ferry I ? Bellafonte I & II ? Yellow Creek ? Rancho Seco ? Ft. St. Vrain ?

ALL are major financial disasters to me, as well as twenty or fifty more US nuclear reactors.

Sellafield is another in a VERY long list of nuclear industry financial failures. Promoters can spin scenarios to suck investment in, but at least $100 billion has gone bad.

Face it, as Constellation said about Calvert Cliffs III (see today's DrumBeat), it *ALL* depends upon gov't subsidies. Subprime financing for new nukes backed by a gov't guaranty. Yes, nuke deserves it's subsidy for good and proper reasons, but it should stand in line behind faster and better solutions.



although UK nuke regs tend to be generally far too lax

Yea...that is why "The 50-year clear-up will cost at least £4bn and will guarantee about 2,000 jobs over the next two decades.
But it could be 300 years before some parts of the site are completely free of radioactivity. "

Or why "The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has not yet decided what to do with more than 25 tonnes of highly radioactive fuel stored on the Caithness site."


I found Kunstlers comments about the end of suburbia, and the construction guys in the pickemup trucks interesting. I did some house framing some time ago and found that the only person that needed a pick up was the contractor/foreman on the job. The rest of the carpenters need little beside their tool pouches which contain a speed square, framing hammer, tape, nails, chalk line, and a few other odd tools. The contractor/foremans truck and trailer contain the nail guns, compressor, generator, skil saws, extension cords, air hoses, etc. Truth be known the entire crew could ride bicycles or mopeds to the job site and home after work...that is, if there is any work. Of course mopeds are hard to come by these days. At one time Honda made a nice little 70cc motorbike, the Passport, and have produced over 50 million Passports making it the largest selling motorcycle of all time. They are still being produced but have not been imported into the US since 1984. Too bad cause they get about 100-125 mpg, are ok for back streets at a top speed of 45mph, and are great for running to the grocery store or other errands and when equipped with three optional large baskets will carry a lot of groceries or other stuff...like tool pouches. I suppose it would be too much to ask of a framer to show up at the job site riding a moped...might bruise his/her ego...And riding home while drinking a cold brew would be problematic. BTW, last I checked Honda was still the leader in motorcycle sales with its Honda Hero 125cc bike selling like hot cakes in India and elsewhere...although I think this Honda is made in China under license from Honda. Anyone care to calculate how much fuel could be saved if 80% of SUVs, pick ups, were replaced by mopeds and bicycles?

Well, fortunately public opinion against SUVs is slooowly picking up steam it appears. Fast enough to do any good?

This whole thing is taking place in seeming slow motion. The July/August price peak happened right on schedule, had thought bigger problems might appear this fall, but now not so sure it will take place. Global demand does look to have been hurt, witness all of the smaller countries whose people do not have power or can not get/afford petroleum products now.

We may make it through another season or two without big problems?

Yeah, sure. There was such a backlash that GM truck sales were up 15% in August.

Car sales fell 7.8% from a year ago while light trucks rose 16.5% thanks in part to strong performances by the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.

Unless of course you think there was a hiring binge among construction companies.

Yeah right, sure, GM lays off 1200 people in their Oshawa plant in Canada, which produces Silverado's, and a few days later announces double-digit sales gains in the same Silverado's.

Don't believe everything you read.

GM posts surprise sales gain

U.S. automaker bucks industry trend to post gain in U.S. sales in August; Ford sales plunge could drop it out of long-held No. 2 spot

General Motors posted a surprise sales gain in August, bucking an industry trend of weak auto sales in the period, and helping domestic brands to recapture a majority of U.S. sales.

GM said its sales of cars and light trucks, such as SUVs and pickups, rose 6 percent in the month to 385,529 vehicles. Car models saw a nearly 8 percent drop in sales, but that was outweighed by the the 16.5 percent jump in light truck models.

Cause of crisis in auto sector runs deep

The weather was gorgeous, but it was still a lousy Labour Day weekend for 1,200 workers at General Motors' truck plant in Oshawa. They found out Thursday they will not have a job in the new year. For them, this weekend was spent worrying about the future, in what will likely be a string of sleepless nights.

The announcement that General Motors will be shutting down the third shift at the truck plant was a brutal surprise.

The Oshawa complex is the most productive in the Western Hemisphere. The vehicles produced there have won numerous product quality awards. For all of the company's troubles, the truck plant was considered a bright spot in GM's North American operations.

Even if they did see gains, that comes on the heels of double digit declines for June and July, coupled with end of year model pricing and crazy incentives ($0 down, 0% interest rates, no payments til 2008 - it looks like some cheap pawn shop deal!!). A greater question would be even if sales increased this month can they keep sales up (nevermind growing, just keep them where they are)? And the answer to that looks increasingly like a big NO.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

A greater question would be even if sales increased this month can they keep sales up........

The announced lay-offs at their most productive truck plant is a sufficient answer to that question. I can't even be bothered to figure out compared to what the sales gains were calculated. It feels like a hologram within the hologram.

I know. But hey, according to other people there is no credit crunch, economic growth is just fine, and we might see a recession next year, maybe, sorta, kinda. After all, those government stats are all 100% verifiably the absolute best that corporate dollars can buy, right?


"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

They came with a pile of money on the hood. Not as much as the 11$K off list on Dodges with dealer matches but getting there.

Such a wonderful deal, walk into a dealer and drive out with a new truck and 5 grand in your pocket. Talk about sub-prime.

Quite a few were upside down in their trades as much as 10K already.
The beat goes on.

Agreed...and let us not overlook fleet sales. One order from Uncle Sam can make sales figures turn rosy...not to mention large utility companies, state, county and local governments, etc.

GM Silverado. O% APR for 60 months. We pay you to haul our product off the lot!!


And then we terminate all the folks that helped us fulfil this crazzzeeeee offer!!!

Next month our stock goes on sale!! 50% OFF!!

Funny you should mention a shortage of small motorbikes. We had around 1,600 scooters parading over here a few days ago. They were trying to break a world record. Unfortunately, they were all the old-fashioned 2-stroke variety - Vespas and Lambrettas - and at an average age of 40.

You cannot compare them to the Honda 50's that were also popular at that time. I think small motorbikes have a future ahead of them. My neighbour (we live in the same building) has 3 huge machines of which one is a racing Honda with 162 Horsepower. I cannot quite see him on one of these small bikes though. Even if fuel were at $20/gallon - it is already at $8/gallon over here.

Alfred, I agree that small scooters and mopeds have a future...not only 'over there' but also over here. Mass transit is sorely needed but Merkins need to be weened from thier large 4 wheel vehicles that offer them the freedom to go when they choose, even if going on a small motorbike means a much shorter distance traveled. A trip on a motorbike to run errands, go to the library, movie, grocery, beach/park or just a short ride to 'change the air in ones head' is sometimes an excellent cure for cabin fever. Honda and Harley, are you listening? The Honda Passport is a 4 cycle single cylinder and something similiar is needed today in the US. I have noticed many new brands of Chinese made scooters being imported and I follow the chat room talk about these machines...mostly poor construction, poor reliability, poor everything. Economical and reliable are paramount, keep the metalflake paint and chrome. I am a Harley rider and we have a saying...'chrome wont get you home.'

I have several people asking me to build them scooters based on the ones I have built previously. I can build them for 400-500$ where as you pay through the nose for anything else...

Not to mention mine are 200cc and roadlegal due to loopholes ;-)

Really? ...and what engine (200cc) do you use and where is it fabricated? Do you fabricate the frame, fenders, wiring harness, lights, brakes, wheels, etc? If not, where do you get these items? A good quality 125cc Chinese made copy of a Honda engine costs $320 plus shipping on Ebay.

Road legal due to loopholes? In what states? What loopholes? Roadlegal on interstates or on city streets?

That's interesting. I bought a new 150cc Aprilia Scarabeo for $4200 in 2005. I would be interested to see what you're building.

Generally one gets what one pays for. I have a friend that has an Aprilia scoot but dont know what model. I believe he said it is a 400cc but would not swear to that. It was pricey but has served him well. He rides it around town a lot and once took it on a trip to Gainsville, about 190 miles round trip. He said that it was too wind sensitive for high speed highway riding but he owns 5 BMWs of various vintages that are fine for the highway. My friend has logged over 1/4 million miles on BMWs so he is a fairly competent judge of bikes. Long ago I owned a couple of Cushman Eagles and a Cushman Highlander...they were dinosaurs and not very reliable but easy to repair with bailing wire and vice grips. Have you seen the Honda Big Ruckus? Interesting looking scoot and should be fuel efficient with the 250cc water cooled engine. I already have four bikes so the wife might not notice one more in the garage? If gas rationing is in our future small efficient bikes should be in demand.

The 150cc does 72 mph on the highway and I drove it up to New Hampshire and back this summer, which is about 400 miles. Gets about 70 miles to the gallon, but requires 93+ octane. The wheels are motorcycle sized and not small like most scooters (even the Big Ruckus has small scooter wheels) and it feels very stable at high speeds. It probably does not feel as stable as a 600 pound Harley since it weighs in at 300 pounds, but it feels more stable than a Honda Civic.

The only reason I try to minimize highway travel is because of other drivers. I have looked at other scooter brands including Hondas, and I get turned off by the tiny wheels and the "Anime" style design. I'm really fond of the Scarabeo retro-futuristic look. However there does seem to be a lot happening in the "automatic motorcycle" market and I keep an open mind.

Aprilia stopped making the 150cc Scarabeo this year and now markets the 500cc version exclusively in the US. That one is supposed to do well over 100 mph :) They have another line called the Atlantic and I believe they made that with a 400.

I'd be happy if Honda brought the VTR 250 back to the U.S. During Honda's "mystery years" of 1988 and '89 (when they brought over a lot of interesting models and then went "woops, sorry US, these are too cool for you") they imported a batch of VTR 250's...little 250cc V-twins which have a lot of bite for a 250 and corner like a cat on a carpet. They're still making them, and they're still neat looking...but they don't make it to U.S. shores.

Newer VTR 250's:

Ones that made it to the U.S.A.:

Most of the big Hondas cannot be purchased in Japan - they are only for export.

In the UK, there are still a lot of small ones around - mostly parked in garages.

I have a W 650 Kawasaki...vertical twin that looks similar to the late 1960s Triumphs, BSAs, etc. It has an internal counter balancer to eliminate vibration and it works well if not perfect. Some of the Brit bikes that I have owned...74 Norton Commando, 64 Triumph Bonnie, 68 Triumph Bonnie, 69 Triumph TR6C (dual purpose). The Kawi has kick and electric start, great fuel economy, and handles very well...and doesnt have Lucas electrical system! Problem is, Kawi imported them into the US for only two years. Now they are a hot commodity on the used bike market here. There is a Triumph dealer about 5 miles from me and some of their new bikes are interesting. They dont have the eye appeal of the old Triumphs but dont dont hurt the eyes. I need a bigger garage... :)

I like the Kawi KLR650 as a second bike.

There's a 1990 Honda VTR 250 presently on eBay:

Item number: 140154049176
End time: Sep-12-07 12:55:01 PDT

E. Swanson

Yeah they show up there a lot, actually. But would you buy a 17 year old motorcycle sight unseen across the intertubes? I had the chance a couple of years back to pick up an '89 out of the local paper here for $1,600 but I really didn't know what it was at the time so I passed on it. It also disturbs me that it doesn't have a long history in the US, and parts might be hard to come by here.

Startling theory giving me another mosaic/dot

found on Jenna Orkin's PO blog I found some explanation
- at least to me - why british troops might be fleeing
from Basra, leaving the southern oilfields without shelter:

- the southern Iraq oilfields are empty now, too
- no more oifield shelter needed
- IPSA pipeline not needed anymore
- next (last?) big tap left Iran..

Though I'm normally a spectator, connecting mosaic
dots only to explain what's going on, the conclusion
in the above link is so startling, that it must be more than
a con'theory only. Especially, it would explain
the spikes referenced in the above URL from

and then, in my opinion, Ghawar died a "long" time ago
already, just hidden intentionally by the above mentioned, strange facts.

Please excuse if asked before, but the outcome of
thinking about the above frightened me so much, that
I had to create an account to be able to get answers
from some of TOD's expertrs/expertise..

Just dunno, thx/rgds

There has been rumors to that effect on some boards...that the pipeline that goes to a saudi terminal has been shipping Iraqi crude to mask the collapse of the Ghawar....just rumors.....

Maybe so, who knows?

The problem is that no matter what the theory du jour is, the one statement that is always included is

The costs seem entirely out of proportion to the potential rewards.

It's almost like this is the seed they want to plant. What they are really trying to hide is that from the point of view of the sponsors of the US politicians the cost is exactly O.

There may be any number of converging reasons, but all the profits (not to mention disappeared funds) go into a few private pockets while the cost is socialized.

There are better explanations. Look here and here.
Feel better now?

edited to add quote:

I posted the first blog on Wednesday, August 29. On the morning of Thursday, August 30, someone who is a professional in handling information called me to recount a conversation from the previous Thursday or Friday (August 23 or 24). In this conversation, someone whose proximity to knowledge of such things is so great that I cannot identify him in any other way, told my interlocutor that President Bush would be inclined to accept suggestions for withdrawing some troops from Iraq and moving as many as possible into more secure bases, as a safeguard against reprisals in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran.

In today's reports from Iraq (see for example the New York Times and the Washington Post) President Bush is quoted as saying, "If the kind of success we are now seeing here continues it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces." The president made a point of visiting and lauding the progress in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, where the U.S. would be more secure from reprisals by Shi'a militias sympathetic to Iran. Anyone who follows political thinking in the Middle East will realize that throughout the region this will be interpreted as confirming a shift in U.S. strategy toward allying with Sunnis to encircle Iran. The British withdrawal from Basra is also said have been accelerated to avoid reprisals on their highly exposed position there.

And what are these guys supposed to use for supply lines?

You're about to hear that the budget deficit is falling. Don't believe it

I have a nasty little secret for you, folks. If you use realistic numbers rather than what I call WAAP -- Washington Accepted Accounting Principles -- the real federal deficit for the current fiscal year is more than 2 1/2 times the stated deficit.

Why am I inflicting this information on you? Because there's been so much joyous noise about the budget emanating from Washington, despite the subprime mess and market meltdowns (which don't bode particularly well for future tax collections), that my natural contrarianism makes me feel like bombing the buzz machine.

In addition, so many investors (and speculators) are fleeing to the supposed safe haven of Treasury securities lately that it's a good time to take a look at what's really going on with the federal budget.

Long ago I stopped beleiving any stats that our government published on any subject. I dont even bother to read that crap anymore unless I need a good laugh.

The explanation for Chavistan is "infinite variance"


Hello ToD. Despite visiting this site for over 2 years I don't tend to post comments as I don't believe I can add anything constructive!

Anyway, I'm from the UK, just graduated from University and instead of getting a real job, I'm working in China with the British FCO as an English teacher.

I'm living in a place called Foshan, a huge sprawling nightmare in the Southern province of Guangdong. As you could imagine; the pollution is horrendus, there are just too many people, too many cars, too many scooters and too much noise. What is the significance of this and how does it relate to ToD you might ask?

Well... Since being here for a while, it's blindingly obvious that the current Chinese way of life is totally unsustainable, for example;

- Food prices seem to be increasing every week and the poor folk don't seem to be amused by this in the slightest.
- Efficient and / or clean ICEs just don't seem to exist over here.
- The amount of waste everyone produces is totally mind boggling!
- If there was a fuel shortage I have literally no idea how food would be transported into the city centers which have very LARGE population densities.
- I've never seen so many air conditioning units in my life and naturally they all totally inefficient!

I won't go on as I've got to get some sleep but I'm just wondering if anyone would be interested in reading my peak oil ramblings and observations whilst I'm in China for the next year. The only reason why I ask is that ToD lacks coverage / commentators from the Orient!

Cheers! ... and to all the contributers -- keep up the splendid work!

Roj, thanks for the interesting comments/insight. I, for one, would like to hear more about what is going on, from your perspective, in China. Looking at what is happening would be humorous if not for all the lives at risk...Chinese making crap for export for dollars that are next to worthless. What total madness.

Roj, fascinating info, thanks! I'd love to hear more.

I'd be interested to hear more.

Here's my tiny datapoint on China. My father in law is Chinese and lives in Beijing. Ten years ago, when I first visited, he got around by bicycle. We bought some bikes while there and rode around. Fantastic bike lines, two car lanes wide in some cases. Riding while surrounded by hundreds of cyclists in a steady stream was a very relaxing experience. It helps that Beijing is completely flat. Pollution was not that bad, although taking a subway and bus out to the western fringes of the city was a real eye opener - dark satanic mills belching smoke everywhere.

Five years ago we visited again. My father in law had upgraded to a motorbike which he rode everywhere. It belched pollution so badly that we could no longer cycle behind him.

Now he has a car. Buying a place out of the city along a new 8 line highway just built. We checked on Google maps - the whole area was still fields when the picture was taken. Now the ground is covered with new developments, and Wal-Mart stores. Almost all the green space in their old neighborhood in the city, which used to be a relatively pleasant pedestrian-only space to walk around, has been ripped up to provide space for everyone to park their cars. I somehow suspect most of those wide bike lanes are history too.

Guangdong is set to go the way of the dodo, Bangla Desh, New Orleans and the Netherlands.

Sea to 'engulf Guangdong' by 2050

The sea level along the coast of South China's Guangdong Province is forecast to rise by at least 30 cm by 2050, a weather report has said.

Released by the Guangdong provincial weather authority, the report also forecast that some 1,153 sq km of coastal land in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) area will be engulfed by the middle of the century, with Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Foshan worst affected.

The PRD area, a leading manufacturing hub will be hard hit by climate change in the coming decades, Du Raodong, a weather expert with the Guangdong provincial weather center, said.

"Climate change will negatively affect the economic development of Guangdong, which is currently one of the biggest consumers of energy and producers of greenhouse gases," Du told China Daily yesterday. The rising sea level will lead to a salt tide, which will pose a huge threat to the drinking water supply in the PRD, he said.

"Moreover, more red tides (caused by high concentrations of algae) will occur along coastal areas, affecting agricultural production," Du said.

This is terrible. We can do without New Orleans since it's little more than a sinking dump, but what are we going to do for toys?

We'd better get the Army COE over there as soon as possible.

Roj, I would also be interested in hearing about things in Foshan. If you have any insight into how things there differ from the rest of China, that would be useful too. I have the impression that Foshan's proximity to Hong Kong may have led to faster development there than elsewhere in China, but maybe you can enlighten us on that.

I'd like to hear more. If you can include a small picture of things once in a while that would be nice too. We don't see very much on the inside of China.


Me too.

Coverage from China would be very interesting indeed. I imagine most people here read about China every day in one way or another, but a perspective from a correspondent inside China is rarely provided. Watching graphs like this one from this article (in norwegian, but there are a couple of more interesteing graphs in english) is well and good, and one can imagine that alot of things are happening inside this country, but anecdotes and stories from the inside would help complete the picture.

duplicate removed

It's hot in Beijing today, but not as bad as California. The women dress so scantily that it's scandalous, hardly the image of a paternalistic paradise. But who's keeping score? Even here, the sky is high, the emperor is far, so everybody just does their own thing.

The office workers all around me arrive promptly at nine and leave at 5:30, taking plenty of smoke breaks in between. The TV is filled with hucksters hawking stock-trading tools (along with the magnetic underpants that'll cure... well, you know). The endlessly toiling peasants apparently aren't the ones who are chosen for staffing the zillions of office jobs. The suits here seem as tepid and disconsolate as their American counterparts.

But I believe that these people are by and large better capitalists than most Americans I know in California. I guess we lost the killer instinct back home, with so much prosperity, and so little to struggle for. The biggest problem professionals have in Silicon Valley seems to be getting enough time off to spend their piles of cash.

Random thoughts from the 4th Ring. More from Chengdu next week.

Kunstler makes some good points but he reminds me of a character in a science fiction novel read many years ago. Seems the very sophisticated hyperdrive was malfunctioning and no one could fix it. They happened to be transporting a sour old intellectual who, as they put it, could tell you your own name and make you want to deny it. They stuck him in front of the hyperdrive and had him say, "You are broken!" The hyperdrive immediately resumed normal operation.

He's just bloody insufferable. I'm not saying he's wrong, mind you. It's just that I find his smug, snarky, sharp tongued harangues off putting in the extreme.

He has been predicting doom for half my life and I'm sure he eventually will get to say, "I told you so, you losers!"

Kunstler is the archetype of the saying, "I'm not going to let the facts interfere with my conclusions." Those conclusions - that we are a doomed society at every level - have been tricked out like Barbie with different paper dresses for twenty years. Seven years ago it was Y2K and "head for the hills." Before that it was our awful architecture.

Kunstler may well have the last laugh but I think he's a harmful rather than helpful member of the peak oil community. He's a divider. I would bring up Richard Heinberg as a contrast. Richard is mild mannered, insightful and always conveys kindness and sympathy in his writings.

I think that Jim is justifiably angry--because of what we had and threw away and beause of what we have become.

As Matt Simmons said, "If we do nothing to address Peak Oil, Jim Kunstler will have turned out to be an optimist."

Simmons/Kunstler Interview (2005)

Yeah, but Heinberg's kind of bland and boring, while many find Kunstler entertaining.

I put the Kunstler and Heinberg stories up one after the other at PeakOil.com this morning. Kunstler's got a ton more hits.

..... mild mannered, insightful and always conveys kindness and sympathy....

Not everybody expects our near future to be all that kind and mild. Writing about it in that manner, moreover, risks lulling people into a complacent sleep. That's one thing, at least, that Kunstler will not do. And if that requires irritating a few sleepyheads, I'm guessing he's fine with that.

Agree...I think many people NEED to be frightened...if we ever expect to have some action.

But, then again, I think he will be an optimist myself.

We should be afraid...very afraid. Complacency and political correctness are a waste of time! We need SHOCK AND AWE (from him and others).

Fear will motivate. It is what motivates Global Warming - FEAR that the future will be disastarous.

You know the way you put it, it sounds like the administration has got a convert..

We need Shock and Awe.

Fear will Motivate.

That's about as useful an understanding of people as slapping a kid to get their respect and make them learn. What the kid learns, of course, is to deeply despise the parent, and then slap their own kids, later on.

What motivates me here is people who speak thoughtfully, keep their heads, think about what we can do to work on this thing together and get the best options going that we can. You think a rattled, indebted and insulated population is going to wake up and respond by being called names, by being yelled at, and told that 'it's over, we're headed into the big die-off'..

That's the logic of someone who is already traumatized. I think I'll listen to people who have kept a bit of rationality, even if they are aware and scared, too.


We need Shock and Awe.

Fear will Motivate.

I never thought I'd say this but,

You american are frightening me more each passing day.

Change your culture.

Like, now.

Unfortunately, all our behaviors are driven primarily by fear of pain, and then secondarily by pursuit of pleasure.

Fear is a better motivator. If you are going to use only one tactic.

But why not use both, fear and pleasure?

There is more under the heavens and stars, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

Luisdias is right to be scared of our culture, as are so many people around the world. But be careful what you wish for, when you want to see that fear motivate a change.

Increasing your toolkit up to both Fear AND Pleasure is pretty much up to the level of TV advertising, using Danger and Sex, Taboos and Prestige to produce results. Yes, they get results.. you're soaking in it.

Obey your Thirst.


Great food for the tastebuds, great music for the ears, good architecture and Urban form for the eyes, walkable neighborhoods for the muscles and skin (hot & HUMID today :-). fragrant flowers and trees for the sense of smell, interesting people to talk with from a vast assortment of communities.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! as one of several mottos.

An absence of pressure to conform, that allows a freedom to explore oneself (I could NOT do what I do, think the thoughts that I do, in, say, Austin Texas).

There is much that the rest of the United States could learn from New Orleans. We have Great Positives balancing our Great Negatives.

"The longer one lives in New Orleans, the less fit they are to live anywhere else, and that is a good thing !" My psychiatrist friend,


Luis where are you from ? You mentioned politics. I hope that I do not frighten you :-)

"The longer one lives in New Orleans, the less fit they are to live anywhere else, and that is a good thing !" My psychiatrist friend,

Your psychiatrist friend knows how one gets gills so one can keep living in NO as it sinks under the waves?

What drives me away from Heinberg is his meme - "Can't we all just get along?" To me, it's just one more warm-fuzzy platitude that has no chance of success.


There is a place down the road where the phone cable comes out of the ground and goes overhead between two power poles for some road construction that took place a couple of years ago.
Over the weekend someone cut the cable with an ax and hooked it to a car and pulled as much as they could loose and then cut it again. All for minimal scrap value of a 400 pair cable.
I do not think this will go smoothly...

There is a 1,200 pair that runs under a bridge in North Kansas City. It got taken out twice in short order, then replaced in conduit and put under camera surveillance.

That sort of behavior will dry up to a degree as peak oil eats into crystal meth precursor availability.

peak oil eats into crystal meth precursor availability.

Not at all.


And the last thing I bothered to read on Meth claimed that the small local lab is 'a dead trend' - instead the big source is pharma-sized batches outta Mexico

I think there's no chance of us all "getting along".

When you think of "culture" as a set of understandings and beliefs learned at an early age, we all have remarkably different cultures due to our peculiar parents, neighbors, environments, schooling, and religious teachings. All these things entered our heads long before we ever get any critical thinking skills, and as with most things learned "in the womb", they remain unquestioned "until the tomb".

We all look and act the same on the outside, but on the inside we are all very different people today. Inside, today any two individuals are as different from a cultural and belief standpoint as the Navajo were different from the European settlers.

We have a few billion distinctly different "cultures" on this planet now, and any one of us individuals is extremely lucky to find another person whose culture sufficiently matches our own. Without enough of a match culturally, you will be banging your head against the wall too often to accomplish anything of substance.

Consider that there are a several thousand peak-aware people on various EOTWAWKI boards. Peak-aware. Meaning that we are on the same page, roughly, regarding energy and resource depletion. But even among this group, we have trouble coming to basic agreements regarding what to do to prepare. Guns, no guns, bug-out bag, community, escaping to remote compound, getting the word out, electrification of rail, localization and simplicity. Despite our understanding of peak oil, we all still have different fundamental beliefs of what to do and how to proceed. We are all fundamentally different inside.

Any "group" that we might be able to put together now will be united mainly because we all face a crisis, united as problem-solvers only in the presence of a problem to be solved, much like the Native Americans eventually put aside their inter-tribal differences to combat the encroaching Europeans, much like for about three weeks after the attack in NYC Americans were much nicer and more agreeable to each other.

But it was too late for the Native Americans and their cultures are now decimated, and modern Americans are back to their voyeurism and petty bickering.

The differences in beliefs that sparked creativity and innovation in the past also heavily reinforced our individuality. Now, our individuality and the billions of separate cultures (again, differing sets of beliefs) on the planet will obstruct attempts to come to a common solution.

It's a surreal paradox of the need to undo What We Are in order to save What We Are Not.

Ah you might consider the works of Joseph Campbell. We are more alike than not.

Long live the Golden Rule! (Fermi's of course.)

Incalculable amounts of contrary evidence from civilized history notwithstanding.

Tribesmen are more alike than not. We have no tribesmen in civilization. The best approximation is your immediate siblings, all raised with similar environment, parents, experiences, teachings, schooling. But sometimes still not similar enough, with differing teachers, different media, different technology, all occurring at different times during development.

Any "solution" to these problems that is reachable, needs to be implemented by groups that are truly "on the same page". We are not on the same page.

So far the best bets for humanity's survival lie with close family groups, military recruits (due to extensive personality de-/re-construction involved in order to achieve similar thinking), and people already living tribally.

The military, however, has an added disadvantage because its hierarchy is rigid and resource-based. Tribal hierarchy shifts depending on the situation and environment.

Nice summary, 710.

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

Did you see the letter from some UK oil guy he put up?


I was just about to post the link to the UK letter. Jim sent it to me in an e-mail. Pretty scary stuff.

FYI, following is a copy of a post I did on the Clarke/Strahan discussion:

Most major Private Oil Companies (POC's) are making two basic arguments: (1) Technology will save us and (2) POC's can do a much better job of exploring for and producing oil than the National Oil Companies (NOC's).

It's interesting to see how the POC's did in two regions that were developed by POC's, with virtually no restrictions on drilling: Texas and the North Sea.

Texas peaked in 1972. The North Sea peaked in 1999. In both cases, the initial production declines corresponded to generally rising oil prices.

Texas has shown a long term decline rate of about 4% per year, the North Sea about 4.5% per year (crude + condensate). And this is with the best available technology.

Saudi Arabia is now declining at about the same stage of depletion that Texas started declining (around 55% or so depleted, based on HL), and the world is now declining at about the same stage that the North Sea started declining (around 50% depleted, based on HL).

And like Texas and the North Sea, the initial Saudi and world declines are occurring against a backdrop of generally rising oil prices.

And yet, many major oil companies still assert that they can provide virtually limitless oil. You know, a polite person would call this misleading. A less polite person would call it fraudulent.

Hard to say but it is possible that as things develop the efficiency gap between POC's and NOC's could disappear or even reverse. Maybe not some banana republic but with serious players in mind.

As long as it's Easy street nothing will beat profit / personal profit as a motive. Once it is clear that it is strictly about basic survival the POC's will start to be politically hindered if not nationalized (provided they even decide to keep playing) where the NOC's may perform at a higher level on national pride.

Everyone needs a carrot but there is more then one kind.

As far as the letter from the UK, the one thought that stood out as far as being easily believable was ..

Barely an evening passes without a news item relating to icebergs melting, heat stroke in Polar bears or the sad absence of lichen for reindeer etc. Inside the oil industry it is well known that the UK government is regularly briefed by the oil companies. Evidently the government have made the decision to use global warming as a way of encouraging thrift in oil usage - with absolutely no effect.

Let's not forget that corporate structure, at least in the US, is bound by legal requirements derived from case law to consider the bottom line above all else.

This (along with plain old greed) would influence POCs to be deceptive by promoting infinite growth of finite resources, without which profits and stock values would plummet, hurting the bottom line.

The interesting part happens when investors and shareholders realize that decline was inevitable and unavoidable and they weren't warned about it.

I wonder what actions the investors and shareholders will take.

My local Congresswoman just e-mailed this news letter:

4 Sept 2007

Foxx Report: The "No Energy" Bill

New legislation fails to address pressing energy needs

By Congresswoman Virginia Foxx

Folks in the Fifth District and across the U.S. have come to rely on low energy prices. As we entered the 21st century gas prices were at historic lows and policies to encourage alterative [sic] fuel sources were not national priorities. But the world has changed dramatically.

Demand for energy surged as the booming global economy sent nations scrambling for more and more energy. Exploding demand ushered in record energy prices. The United States, accustomed to low prices, had not pursued alternatives; prices at the pump climbed to previously unthinkable heights.

As prices rose the Republican Congress began crafting policies to encourage research and development to help increase our energy supply and reduce surges in demand. Now much of this forward thinking progress has been undone in a much-touted House energy bill that did nothing to move us toward energy independence. The cumulative effect was merely a new batch of regulations and taxes. So it's a bit of a mystery why it's been referred to as an energy bill. A more accurate description would be the "No Energy Bill."

This legislation brings us no closer to the goal of energy independence. It looks to uncertain energy efficiency to solve the energy riddle, while turning a blind eye to our need for more energy. It pushes America further away from ending our reliance on foreign oil sources by placing new burdens and taxes on companies who want to develop oil and natural gas sources right here in the United States. Revealingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill because it "fails to produce a singe kilowatt of energy" and "threatens to reduce (and in some sectors eradicate) energy production."

At a time when America's reliance on foreign oil has serious national security, economic and environmental implications, we need more than tired, knee-jerk tax hikes on domestic oil producers. Instead we must pursue alternative sources of energy and maintain economical sources of natural gas and oil.

The time and investments required to implement new technologies are expensive and involve local political and economic considerations. In light of this, it is foolish to curtail our domestic oil and natural gas production abilities.

Today's global economy won't wait while we secure our energy supply and develop alterative [sic] energy sources. For example, Asia already uses more oil than North America and promises to gobble up ever larger shares of the global energy market. False trust in energy efficiency alone will not keep gas prices low and electricity affordable amidst global competition. If we adopt policies that restrict our ability to tap domestic supplies and then limit ourselves to alterative [sic] sources in the early stages of development, we place our nation at a severe competitive disadvantage.

In other words: higher prices and potential energy shortages.

This bill operates on the flawed premise that we don't need new domestic oil supplies. Instead of encouraging secure, safe and environmentally sound sources of oil or natural gas, it assumes alternative fuels and energy efficiency can meet our energy needs. This is not yet the case. Such an assumption is blind to an economy that uses 146 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

We should think twice about slapping ever more taxes on American oil producers and denying them access to our nation's supply of available energy. And perhaps we should reconsider legislation that makes it more expensive to build new nuclear plants and refuses to address a coal-to-liquid pilot program to test the feasibility of such technology as an alternative to imported oil.

A realistic energy bill should take a two-pronged approach. It should create breathing room for additional energy supplies and technology (whether ethanol, oil, wind or fuel cells) and it should promote energy efficient practices throughout the economy. Supply and demand, that fundamental economic principle, dictates such a double-edged policy. Promoting only energy efficiency addresses the demand side of the equation, while creating incentives for new fuel addresses only the supply side of the equation. We can and must do both.

Bringing new fuels to the marketplace and reducing energy demand is the best way to create a secure and affordable energy future for America. I hope Congress can pass an energy bill this fall that envisions an energy efficient and environmentally responsible future attuned to the growing energy needs of our vibrant economy.

Virginia Foxx is a United States Representative from North Carolina

No mention of Peak Oil or problems with corn ethanol. Notice the typical cornucopian "growing energy needs" and "bringing new fuels to market" statements, but no mention of solar thermal or PV electric generation. Looks like the Republicans only want big, expensive energy systems, the ones where THEY can OWN the source. Worse yet, there's no mention of Global Climate Change or any plan to limit Greenhouse Gas emissions. And how are we supposed to "promote energy efficiency" while keeping energy costs down? I really like that Bushism: "alterative" energy... :-)

I wonder, is this the standard Republican "statement of the month" on the energy bill(s) now before Congress? Has anybody else out there received a similar diatribe from their Republican Representative?

E. Swanson

Beth Nagusky, a Democrat who has recently left the position of Directory of Energy Office here in Maine took pretty much the same approach on a call-in show last night. The State of Maine is doing a great job with its small Prius fleet, yadda yadda.

She has left State to work with SmartGrowth Maine, a group aimed at parcelling up the state for the developer class - and keeping the growth going by strapping the State every other way.

Growth uber alles.

cfm in Gray, ME

My Republican Representative is Ron Paul, who is too busy in Iowa to even bother to show up to vote on the energy bill. I wrote a letter to the Galveston Daily Znews complaining about his lack of response to my emails and telephone calls and his failure to vote, Funny coincidence, on the day it was published I finally got an email from his office telling me blah blah blah Republican conservatve blah blah blah...

He's a terrible representative. I plan to vote against him at every opportunity. Oil is the biggest industrial sector employer in his district, but, as i said, he's only representing himself by being in Iowa. Bob Ebersole

A problem with Heinberg is that in being acceptable mainstream, he downplays the potential nearness of a devastating problem. When you read a statement like the following:

[Most informed analysts agree that this will happen during the next two or three decades; an increasing number believe that it is happening now - that conventional oil production peaked in 2005–2006]

the immediate thought it is that peak won't occur for decades. That merely supports our complacency. Unless Heinberg really believes peak is 20-30 years off, why not emphasize the potential nearness by downplaying the long-distance views. "All experts agree that peak will have occurred at the latest in the next 2-3 decades but an increasing number believe that it is happening now." And then follow up with the findings of the Hirsch report.


Another thing about Heinberg is that he misses the financial problems that go with peak oil. If you leave those out, things look a whole lot better.

Another is his language. His sentences are too long and use too many academic words. Great for academic papers, but puts readers to sleep.

Gail, you are exactly right. I think just about everyone misses the financial problems that will go with declining crude oil. And it is the terrible feedback loop that they overlook.

People are employed in industries that use massive amounts of oil. Everyone talks about switching to rail. That would put tens of thousands of truck drivers out of work. Oil is used as a feedstock to make thousands of products. As these products are discontinued, those people will be put out of work. People will spend more money on everything that consumes or contains oil. This means they will have much less money to spend. This means they will buy much less. The people that make all these things will be put out of work.

And as the unemployment rises, this will exacerbate the situation. Unemployed people have little money to buy anything. Less will be manufactured, putting even more people out of work. And the feedback loop continues.

The economic impact of declining oil supplies will be absolutely devastating.

Kunstler? Kunstler is a wide optimist. Things will be many times than he envisions.

Ron Patterson

Hello Darwinian,

I deeply agree with your assessment of what is to come--I merely await the sledgehammer to come out from the darkness. I hope that at a minimum: everyone has a bicycle and a wheelbarrow, so that we are initially reluctant to reach for the machete'...


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


The financial aspect is the difficulty I have with all of the solutions proposed; it's nice to talk about solar, or ethanol, or biofuels or whatever, but there won't be enough capital to implement these 'solutions' (I agree with the people on this site that don't think a 'solution' that merely allows the continuation of our unsustainable lifestyle is really a solution). The government is bankrupt (in many ways) and won't be able to fund New Deal-type programs to help our populace; people have no savings so won't be able to buy war bonds to loan the government money to rebuild our infrastructure; and apparently the derivative alphabet is evaporating any capital that exists now. It is difficult to imagine how we can pull this off and avoid Kunstler's doomsday scenario, but I haven't seen any indication of national will or capacity to do so. I know people diss Kunstler, but I couldn't argue with his conclusions 3 years ago when I first read The Long Emergency, and nothing has occurred since then that makes me change my mind.

Kunstler is the archetype of the saying, "I'm not going to let the facts interfere with my conclusions." Those conclusions - that we are a doomed society at every level - have been tricked out like Barbie with different paper dresses for twenty years. Seven years ago it was Y2K and "head for the hills." Before that it was our awful architecture.

And just what are the facts that would interfere with Kunstler's conclusions if only he would acknowledge them? I have been hearing such BS for years but those making the claim never produce any such facts.

Seven years ago it was Y2K, and we fixed the problem. I know because I was part of a team that upgraded several hundred of NASA's computers that made them Y2K compatible. And you are spewing crap about awful architecture. I suppose that was your attempt at humor but it fell flat on its face.

Kunstler is not a divider, he just tells it like it is. He appeals to an entirely different segment of the population than does Heinberg. Both contribute in their own way. They both add rather than divide. Kunstler has made thousands aware of peak oil that would not otherwise have a clue.

Ron Patterson

Y2K could have been an incredible disaster if nothing had been done about it. It was, however, something that people could do something about. It was a problem that you could "throw money at" to make it go away, and amazingly, the world came together and did make it go away. I was only peripherally associated with the efforts of my company to fix the problem because I was new to the software engineering business, but I do know that all of those Cobol programmers earned their checks in the years prior to 2000, and everybody held their breaths as the clock approached midnight.

In the case of Peak Oil, there is no definable clock, but it is just as real. It would be great if we could fix Peak Oil just like we did Y2K, but I'm not counting on it.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

Ditto that Ron
Trucking along happy in life till read Kunstler on peak oil. Knew him from his earlier books and Rolling Stone.
Since, have given out dozens of his book "Long Emergency" and "End Of suburbia" DVDs. Many find him most credible.
For pity's sake, the man is a stellar wordsmith.

Kunstler makes some good points but he reminds me of a character in a science fiction novel read many years ago.
Those conclusions - that we are a doomed society at every level - have been tricked out like Barbie with different paper dresses for twenty years

Asimov's original "Foundation" had the analysis "our society is doomed" extrapolated from observations such as 'just shut down a nuclear power plant, rather than repair it'.

While nuclear power was (then) the epitome of technology, I think that, half a century on from when it was written, its underlying observations (and, by association, Kunstler's own observations) are more prescient than ever.


One of the most tiresome things used against Kunstler was what he was saying in the run up to Y2K. The thing to remember is that Kunstler paid enough attention to ignore silly nonsense about people being trapped in elevators on New Year's Eve and airplanes falling out of the sky, and turned his attention to the one thing that could have happened, which was credit card corporations and other financial service providers suffering enough mainframe downtime to cause enough disruption in interstate retail activity to cause a recession. That actually was a plausible thing to look at, especially because the CC companies were not forthcoming with details on how their Y2K preparations were coming along. He is abrasive, and earthy, and angry, but he was not a scaremonger then or now.

And yes, those MREs do taste really awful a few years down the road.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems have been receiving a lot of media buzz lately, which is great. My only fear is that homeowners who are looking to reduce their utility bills will be put off by their high cost (typically in the range of $20,000.00 or more) and decide their current system will have to make do. What most people don't realize is that a high efficiency air-source heat pump can provide similar savings, but at perhaps one-third to one-quarter the installed cost.

Our winters in Halifax are colder than those of Buffalo, NY and my small, 14,000 BTU/hr Friedrich ductless heat pump satisfies roughly 85 per cent of my home's annual heating needs (I've posted my operating records in another thread here on this forum). Later this fall, I will be adding a second 9,000 BTU/hr unit to better serve my basement level. This Fujitsu model has a 21 SEER rating and a HSPF of 11.0, and continues to crank out a good amount of heat all the way down to -15C (5F). The average cost of the heat it provides is less than one-third that of electric resistance and just slightly more than one-third that of my high efficiency oil-fired boiler [Nova Scotia Power's standard domestic rate is currently $0.1076 per kWh and as of my last fill, I pay $0.819 per litre].

I paid $2,100.00 CDN for the Friedrich (installed) and expect to recoup my initial investment within three to four years. The installed cost of the Fujitsu will run a few hundred dollars higher and the payback will be somewhat longer because, at this point, there's far less heating oil to displace (the primary motivator for this second unit is enhanced comfort, not energy savings).

The key point is that we shouldn't overlook other potential heating and cooling solutions, which may very well turn out to be more practical and cost-effective.


What model #s ?

I have a Friedrich 8,000 BTU window heat pump, model
YS09J10B. The best window unit available acouple fo hears ago, but less than what you quote by a good margin.



If one does a Google search for "model YS09J10B" the second link is a TOD thread from August 9th with this:

AlanfromBigEasy on August 9, 2007 - 4:04pm | Permalink | Subthread ^

AC to be an energy-guzzling luxury, and to try and power it via PV (photovoltaic solar) panels a ludicrous proposition

My Friedrich heat pump (Model ys09j10b) 8,000 BTUs on about 670 watts and it is "cycling" with 96 F temperature outside ( just walked to grocery store & notary public and can confirm it is hot).

Bright sunny day, I would estimate that 1.5 to 2 kW solar PV should be able to balance my entire load in August.

If I were in a hyper-insulated home, I would export more than I would produce with just a 1 kW solar PV array IMHO.

I quoted the model # because it is the most efficient window a/c (cooling) and heat pump available.

Best Hopes for High Efficiency Air Conditioning (I would rather give up heating, as I did last year).

Comments can no longer be added to this story.

You might be that model's best salesperson.

If one must put in a window unit, this is the most efficient one (unless another model has been recently released) for both heating and cooling. So I want to promote the most efficient unit :-)

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Hi Alan,

Before I bought my ductless heat pump, I briefly considered the Friedrich YQ07L10 and YS09L10, but ruled both out because they only operate down to 3C (37F). For another $1,200.00, I opted for the MR12Y1E, which is rated for 12,000 BTU/hr cooling and 14,000 BTU/hr heating. It has a 10.5 SEER rating and a HSPF of 7.2 (the new minimum standard is 13.0 and 7.7 respectively). It works down to about -10C (14F), which greatly extends its usefulness in our colder climate. In addition, it's extremely quiet, the external compressor is hidden behind shrubbery and it's more secure compared to a window unit.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with its performance and with the quality of its construction (it's a re-branded Fujitsu). But its new companion, the Fujitsu 9RLQ, raises the bar even higher. The 9RLQ is twice as efficient in cooling mode (21 SEER versus 10.5) and one and a half times more efficient in terms of space heating (11.0 HSPF versus 7.2). More importantly, whereas the MR12Y1E basically calls it a day at -10C, the 9RLQ continues to provide low-cost heat all the way down to -15C; if my numbers are correct, that extra cold weather performance will effectively eliminate almost all of my backup heat [some 300 litres or 80 U.S. gallons of heating oil a year].

Full disclosure: Our family business sells hearth products and after *much* effort, I finally convinced my brother we should add ductless heat pumps to our portfolio (we sell neither of the two aforementioned brands). I sincerely hope my comments won't be interpreted as self-serving, as that's truly not my intention (I've become a champion of this technology based on my own positive first-hand experience).



For new construction, geothermal may cost less than conventional. I put in a closed-loop vertical standing water column geothermal system which provides both heat and A/C and it only cost about 25% more than the bid to put in conventional heating only (since I hadn't had an A/C system bid on). It does require a well, but in rural areas, new construction will include a well anyway.

This month's issue of Old House Journal has an article on geothermal for older/historic homes. I don't have it in front of me (and so it may not be an exact quote), but it did include the phrase "the age of abundant oil may be over".

(I do agree that the best time to put in geothermal is when your yard is already dug up.)

Hi Vtfarmer,

In a previous discussion, I spoke of the some of the barriers to ground source heat pumps -- one major hurdle is that most new homebuilders are risk adverse and price sensitive and thus tend to favour more conventional solutions and, most likely, the one with the lowest initial cost. And, sadly, with the exception of a relatively small segment of the home buying population that understands and appreciates the benefits of a geo-exchange system, there's not a whole lot of customer demand. Forgive my cynicism, but I suspect granite countertops, recessed lighting and multi-point showerheads hold more mind presence than GSHP technology. :-(

I don't mean to sound so sour, but in my neck of the woods ground source heat pumps are a bit of a tough sell. A large percentage of homes here in Atlantic Canada are built on poorly conducting clay soils or on bedrock, so installation is more complicated and/or drilling/excavation costs are prohibitively high. Moreover, if the home is reasonably well designed and energy efficient (and, thankfully, our building codes are fairly stringent), heating demands should be pretty modest.

Let's say a homeowner with electric baseboard or oil heat could expect to spend $2,500.00 a year to heat her home. A high efficiency air-source heat pump with a HSPF of 11.0 could do the same job for less than $800.00. If a GSHP were twice as efficient as our air-source heat pump (and that might be somewhat optimistic), the incremental savings in this case could be as little as $400.00 a year.

But here's where it gets interesting.... according to the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, a 1,700 sq. ft. R2000 home requires about 30 million BTUs/year for space heating purposes. At $0.1067 per kWh, our homeowner would expect to spend $938.16 to heat her home with a baseboard electric heating system. The referenced air source heat pump drops that number to $290.00, so the incremental savings under this scenario could be no more than $150.00. The additional savings in terms of domestic hot water production could easily double this amount but, even so, the financial payback could be exceedingly long.


Hi Paul--

Do any of the houses have wells? My system takes water from my well, extracts heat, and returns it to the well. By the time it gets to the pump at the bottom, it has regained the heat from the surrounding earth. That was why I put in the qualifier that it shouldn't cost much more if they are already having to put in a well (depending on depth since it does require a deep well).

I had an air-source heat pump in Seattle but assumed winter air was too cold here for efficient use which is why I did ground source. But I hadn't really researched it. And air source would certainly be easier to retrofit existing structures than ground source. Either way, it makes a lot of sense to use heat pumps over conventional systems.

Hi Vtfarmer,

I suspect many do and, in all fairness, this would likely improve the economics considerably. Someone recently told me the province no longer permits homeowners to use lakes or ponds as heat exchangers, but I haven't investigated this for myself (extracting heat from an open body of water could dramatically reduce costs as well). As an aside, a Halifax office complex uses harbour water to supply virtually all of its heating and cooling needs.


One more caveat. Halifax is located on the Atlantic Ocean, so although our annual heating degree-days are similar to Minneapolis, MN, our temperatures remain fairly moderate throughout the entire heating season; as a result, air source heat pumps work surprisingly well. In other parts of the province away from the ocean and in most of neighbouring New Brunswick, a geo-exchange system might be a better choice, especially in the case of larger, older homes with higher space heating and domestic hot water loads.

I've been tasked with putting together materials that might help our customers better judge the appropriateness of ductless heat pumps in our local climate. As part of this undertaking, I plotted our winter temperatures over the past two years -- this information is accessible in PDF format here:


Note that last winter was about ten per cent colder than the previous one.

There are several documents in this series, but the following one compares ductless heat pumps to wood pellet, another popular supplemental heating choice here in Atlantic Canada (there are no references to brand or company names in either document):



The open geothermal well idea has been used extensively in the past. It costs less than closed wells, but there is a big problem. The systems tend to accummulate sand and silt. Cleaning the filters every day can get old.

Hi KenBob,

Now knowing that, a closed loop system has taken on far greater appeal. :-)



We have discussed ground-source and air-source heat pumps in the past. Your point to me (I was advocating ground-source) is that regional variability in temperature extremes, heating/cooling loads, and ground compostion, will dictate which system will make financial sense. For example you have pointed out for Halifax NS, ground composition is poor for geoexchange, so an air-source heat pump is a much better choice.

But this is not always the case, and for certain locations across the globe including mid to northern US, southern Canada and much of Europe, geothermal is more-efficient and can have payback on order of 3 - 5 yrs. Of course, as with all EE and RE systems, initial costs are higher unless the construction is new or there is a novel local feature (e.g. VTfarmer's well) that can lower the installation cost.

So for those interested in heating AND cooling more efficiently you could start here for Air-Source Heat Pumps, Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps, and Geothermal (ground-source) Heat Pumps.

There's plenty of links on the right-hand side of each page, and other topics on the left (for example absorption heat pumps, which others have proposed for solar driven baseload power Solar Heat Pump Electrical Generation System (SHPEGS), linked to by Euan Means a few days ago).

And there's always the Geoexchange, aka Ground-source Heat Pump Consortium, a comprehensive source of information.

When oil and coal run out, the sun and the earth will be your friends, if used wisely.

*edit* you touched on some of my comments in your post at 6:08 pm, my initial posting time also.

Hi John,

You're absolutely correct and I fear I've made my arguments sound too one sided. The one thing I'd like to stress is that any reasonably well built/well insulated home should be relatively easy to heat and cool, so just about any space heating system, including electric resistance should be up to the task. Obviously, many homes fall well short of the mark in terms of their energy efficiency (my own home had been one of them), but it's probably best to address any deficiencies in the thermal envelope first before tackling the heating system.

In any event, a conventional air source heat pump with a HSPF of 8.5 (zone 4) would be 2.5 times more economical to operate than electric resistance -- in zone 5, the ratio may fall to 2:1 and in extremely cold parts of the world (e.g., areas with greater than 12,000 HDDs, say), it may not be an appropriate choice at all. No one size fits all, but I would hazard to say a mid or high efficiency air source heat pump would be a good choice, even in some "colder" climates such as my own. And if the difference in operating costs between the first and second most efficient system is only a few hundred dollars a year, either option would likely to be acceptable.


Greetings, HereinHalifax

One point I would make for anyone considering a replacement heating system is to consider upgrading the insulation level and to air-seal first. The system may then be downsized accordingly and the payback for various heating systems will differ from the house in its previous configuration due to higher energy efficiency.

By the way, as stated earlier, my kwh usage for a non- heating, non-cooling month (June) was 398, total July usage was 517 kwh and August was 513. With electricity at 8.5 cents per kwh, AC for 3,328 sq.ft. is running about $10 per month in Minneapolis. This is what insulation, air-sealing and efficient HVAC equipment can do.

Nice work, BTU. What were average temps or degree-days listed on the utility bill for those months.

Yeah, energy triage says envelope first and close the open sucking wounds of windows and doors, followed by the more distributed insulation in walls,etc. As most work can be done by a homeowner on a weekend, it has the highest ROI.


Cooling degree days for July, 349...30 year avg. 259
For August, 234...30 year avg. 190

wow again, pretty warm summer, but at $10/mon for AC, seems well under control.

For August we used 895 kWh, our baseload is approximately 650 kWh/mon (in Apr-May), and the cooling degree days for August was 384** (historic mean = 351).

**Degree day data are used to estimate amounts of energy required to maintain comfortable indoor temperature levels. Daily values are computed from each days mean temperature (max+min/2). Each degree that a days mean temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit is counted as one cooling degree day.

Hi John,

Your house is also very efficient to cool, your August cooling degree days (384) are about twice mine and the kwh used over the baseload are 245 where I used 115 kwh over my baseline for 234 cooling degree days.

You are using .638 kwh per cooling degree day, I am using .491 kwh.

I looked over a house a few years ago slightly smaller than mine 2,856 sf with July and August electrical bills of $250 each month, mine runs about $50. This house was built in the late 1960's with very little attic insulation and no air barrier. My house was built in 1978 and I did the energy retrofit in 2005/2006.


Doug -- It also helps that we were away on vacation for two week in August. Sorry I didn't mention that.

Hi btu,

Wow, those are pretty impressive numbers. As you may recall, I took a similar path to your own -- my baseline being the previous owner's fuel oil consumption of 5,700 litres/year, now down to just 830... a savings of 85 per cent. The previous homeowners also used something in the range of 14,000 kWh of electricity per year and I've got that whittled down to just under 10,700 and if I can somehow limit the use of my dehumidifier, I hope someday to slip under the 10,000 mark. [Add an additional 130 litres of propane per year for the cooktop, dryer, fireplaces and BBQ.]

I finished insulating the utility room over the weekend (this was the last room that needed attention). Now I'm toying with the idea of adding an additional two inches of Styrofoam SM to the outside of the foundation wall. Once you start this ball moving, it's really hard to stop.... before I fall asleep each night I keep asking myself "what else have I overlooked?". ;-)


Hello Paul,

If your foundation wall is currently uninsulated, adding an R-10 will make a big difference. This was the case for my house and the R-10, 1 1/2" Thermax added to the inside of the basement walls was by far the most cost effective insulation I did. You have worked much harder on your retrofit than I have, a tip of the hat to you, the numbers are impressive. For exterior applications, extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam or equivalent) is the way to go, this must be covered above grade for UV protection.

Thanks, btu. If one has to be obsessive-compulsive, it might as well be something constructive. :-)

The basement is mostly below grade with approximately 70 sq. ft. of glass on the north wall (triple garden doors and two double hung windows -- Pella, Architectural Series, low-e/argon). The walls have two inches of Styrofoam insulation (R10) and a further three and a half inches of Fibreglass (R13). I've carefully caulked and sealed the sill plate and likewise insulated the floor joists. Unfortunately, the north side is an un-insulated slab on grade, which represents a tremendous heat loss; when I repave the driveway, insulating the edge of this slab will be a top priority (originally, this was the entrance to the garage).

If I add Styrofoam boards to the outside foundation, I will definitely cover the exposed portions with some sort of parchment or cement board. I haven't quite figured out the right course of action, so I'm open to any and all suggestions.



There are two ways to insulate a slab on grade.

Run the 2" styro from the top of the slab down to a depth equal to the frost line. This requires a lot of digging and is not possible in rocky terrain.

Option #2 is to put 2" of styro from the top of the slab down to a depth of a foot or so then run 2" styro horizontally (parallel to the ground) at a depth equal to the bottom of the vertical 2" styro. The combined length should be equal to a vertical application, the length of the path for heat loss will be the same.

Cover for the above grade portion of the insulation, I like prepainted aluminum coil stock, the stuff they make seamless gutters from.


Thanks, Doug. I'll likely go with this second option, as it seems to be the simplest and easiest solution.

I've held off on this work for five years because I didn't want to damage the adjoining driveway. I fully expected I would have had to repave it by now, but it's held up remarkably well.... now I'm thinking I'll just go ahead, install the insulation, do a temporary patch and apply a top coat.


But what if your frost line is a couple of inches ?



A must-see photo from Jeff Masters: the moon as seen through the eye of Felix:


Thanks for the post! Makes you feel like your in the aircraft.

From Jay Hansen on is 'money/oil' talk.

Jay: Politics is a continuum of behavior depending upon the strategies
and desperation of animals involved. These strategies vary depending
upon the environment from body language to murder. That's why
Clausewitz said "War is politics by other means."

Under the present global environment, our masters (IROMA) prefer
getting what they want -- prefer exercising their political power --
with money. If the people who hold what they want refuse to respond to
money, then they send in our 19 year old kids to be blown apart.
That's precisely what happened in Iraq, and that's why Mao said
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

In a decade or two, the "energy standard" will devalue the political
value of money (e.g., Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe) to the point where
the only "means" left for our masters to feed their drug addictions
will be murder.

IROMA: ignorant rich old male addicts; old men who are addicted
(literally ~V like a crack addict) to making money. Here are some nice
graphics that show what's going on in Warren Buffet's brain
http://www.time.com/time/2007/addiction/ . If you click on THE SCIENCE
OF ADDICTION tab, then you can see how "making money" (or gambling,
etc.) releases dopamine into Buffet's synapses and provides him with a
"jolt of pleasure". If you have any experience with AA, then you know
that the addiction of "making money", like any other long-term
addiction, is almost impossible to break.

"Addiction" is still a poorly-defined term. Nowhere in the linked article does it actually define addiction, except for this:

"Addictions," says Joseph Frascella, director of the division of clinical neuroscience at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), "are repetitive behaviors in the face of negative consequences, the desire to continue something you know is bad for you."

Nothing discussed in the article, by the way, falls under this definition of "addiction".

"Repetitive behaviors in the face of negative consequences." Any negative consequences or only negative consequences? Because everything we involve ourselves in as humans has negative consequences. Walking and bicycling can kill you. Breathing can kill you.

"In the face of negative consequences" makes it appear that the patient's perspective is the same as the doctor's. They are not the same, and the options available for every patient are different based on each patient's history, a history the doctor is never completely aware of. It also implies a type of causal relationship that doctors are a priori trained to see, training missing from the layman's experience, which still obfuscates the issue of predisposition toward a biased view of reality.

"The desire to continue something you know is bad for you."
As in living? Which inevitably involves itching, irritation, hunger, thirst, pain, and death? Socrates, Schoppenhauer, the examined life, and all that.

The "science" of addiction is nothing of the sort. It is a means of a medical boondoggle, on both doctors and patients, designed to foster profit and meet political ends.

Now, if it were a science of health risks, that would be appropriate. Then we could include really evaluate the risks involved to physical and brain chemistry changes associated with exercise, sex, eating, deep breathing, smoking, pharmaceuticals, "drugs", religion, careerism, resource hoarding, and politicking.

Antoehr Jay-ism from the list ... (Gail - are you following his discussion yet?)

Jay: I am trying to untangle some of the lies we live by. Economics is a
"social construction" -- it was invented by the rich to serve their own
interests. Economic professors and economists are professional liars who
claim that "money" is just a "medium of exchange". In a society where the
formal political system floats on a sea of money, this lie can't even pass
the "straight face" test.

Since we did not evolved with a "medium of exchange" (except, perhaps meat
for sex), no a priori reason exists for us to have a monetary system and all
that entails.

If economics, the monetary system, and money were invented by the rich, why
did they do it? Obviously, for political purposes -- to make the rest of
the world do their bidding without the uncertainties of more literal forms
of force. Thus, economics, the financial system and money became a "hidden
political system" that pretended to be something else. It's the perfect
political system where the monarchs who make political decisions that effect
us all, are not held responsible for those political decisions.

My goodness... certitude is supposed to be the ``soft underbelly'' of the ``peak oil movement'' is it now?

I wonder whether those journos consider the certitude of the elite sectors such as the banking or oil industry ``professionals'' many of which are nothing but professional spokesmen? Didn't they learn about ``there's prosperity just around the corner'' or ``we see the light at the end of the tunnel'' (the latter which was the oncoming train of the Tet Offensive)?

I notice this sort of problem all over the place not only in the media but in all sort of public discourse, any time something challenges the status quo. The latter has the benefit of the doubt by habit, not because it's justified.


I notice this sort of problem all over the place not only in the media but in all sort of public discourse, any time something challenges the status quo. The latter has the benefit of the doubt by habit, not because it's justified.

Actually this is precisely how it is suppose to work. If the Status QUO is what people "know" to be true, it is upon the one making an argument otherwise to prove that the Status QUO is no longer valid, or soon to be no longer valid.

This is the way Science works with regards to theories and laws and frankly is the common sense approach to most things in life. If we jumped at every notion that came our way without proof or insuficient proof then we would have nothing but Chaos.

As for Peak Oil, the Journalists have a very valid point, in that previous calls for Peak Oil or the end of oil turned out to be false. Not just once but repeatedly. This is precisely what Robert Rapier was concerned with about calling Peak in the last couple of years. He was(is?) relunctant to call it, because to be wrong now would only further discredit the Peak Oil argument at a time when calling a false peak now, may prevent the acceptance of a real peak in the next couple of years should by some miracle we surpass the 2005 high.

Changing the Status QUO is not going to be an overnight project. It will take time and ever more credible sources of data to change the Status QUO, and that approach IS WORKING. Just look at the last 7 years, how Peak Oil at the turn of this century was barely heard of, and now Peak Oil is a buzzword heard commonly throughout the media. The evidence is weighing in and it is having impacts on the day to day lives of average Americans. I mean hell, I've seen more commercials in the last two years that use gas prices or uncertainty of gas supplies than I ever remember prior to 2005, and that's ranging from Shell's campaign to the latest Walgreen's commercial I saw over the labor day weekend.

Changing the status quo in this case might be an overnight thing. All it would take is one major event that caused the pipelines to drop below the minimum operating levels and the country would be facing a serious shortage of available oil and gasoline. I only wonder whether we'll wait for the government to fix it or go looking for where they're hiding "our gas."

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

Well, speaking as a scientist, I cannot say you are right about that, fortunately. Science actually turns around pretty fast once all the facts are in front of people. The ozone and global warming questions are cases in point. The actual science turned around in less than ten years in both cases.

We've been discussing the energy question for over 40 years, since oil production peaked in the US after discovery peaked worldwide in the 1960s and even with the finds in the 70s it came nowhere close to the previous peak.

It would be nice if these public discussions could turn on facts as much as science does.


Peak Ice Melt

The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at record lows, scientists have announced.

Experts say they are "stunned" by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as the UK disappearing in the last week alone.

So much ice has melted this summer that the Northwest passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the Northeast passage along Russia's Arctic coast could open later this month.


You ain't seen nuthing yet

Thanks for the night cap!
Sadly, this won't make the MSM news tonight, either will the Hondurans fate, too many cats stuck in trees. Most Americans don't know what the UK is anyway.

Scientists discover ‘skinny’ gene - Certain flies, mice and people are just born lucky (except in time of famine)

Graff and his colleagues wondered how good copies of the gene would impact survival in the wild. So they subjected the skinny flies to famine-like conditions. Not surprisingly, they did poorly. From an evolutionary perspective, this gene is the one that helps animals do well in affluent times — very much like the situation in western countries today, says Graff.

“In times of plenty, these super skinny, sleek and fast flies can easily get away from predators,” Graff adds. “But in times of shortage, they don’t make it.”

For all you folks connecting the dots, here is another sad little data point:

Lake OKeechobee in central Florida fell to its all-time recorded low on July 3; rains since have raised its level a little but it still stands at the lowest ever recorded for this time of year.

Florida is at the same lattitude as Baja California; without Lake Okeechobee, Florida will BE Baja California. The outflow from the lake feeds the Everglades and recharges fresh water aquifers for Palm Beach, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, and the Florida Keys.

Errol in Miami

I'm sure a tiny little CAT 3 will generously refill your lake.

Regarding Thomas Homer-Dixon's speech in Melbourne, I am struck yet again (as I was when I read the book) how reluctant THD is to "grasp the nettle" of his own conclusions. He repeatedly includes protestations like, He said the market was still capable of throwing up creative solutions to the problems through innovation.

THD needs JHK to grab him and shake him by the scruff of the neck and yell in his ear, "Accept your own conclusions, for God's sake!" THD seems to be aware, at least subliminally, that his conclusions don't support the kinds of hope he keeps trying to describe. The convergence of multiple stressors within a non-resilient system that is shot through with multi-dimensional cascade failure paths does not augur well for global industrial civilization, as much as THD would exhort businesses to "re-evaluate their preoccupation with growth and efficiency."

Of course, if he were to truly grasp the nettle, he'd wind up with about as many paid speaking engagements as I have...


I agree with you most of the way, I'd just take it a bit further. The man's a poseur who's grabbed other people's ideas and repackaged them in big woolly academic words. And that's not so innocent either.

All the tenured and otherwise well-off chosen ones who propagate him as their own private smart spokesman have no interest in seeing what is really going on, and Thomas delivers for them their own comfy version of reality. And that is a dangerous event, he sells lots of his silly books full of big empty words, and attracts many listeners.

And just when you think he's getting somewhere, he inevitably veers off again into the cushy belief systems of the cult comprised of those who speak academia blah-blah. Homer Dixon sells educated snake oil to people who feel entitled to their elevated ranks in life.

I will always have tons more faith (not to mention more fun) in Homer Simpson to lead me out of misery.

Paul and Ilgari

I had the opportunity to listen to THD when he spoke in Sydney and I found he was speaking about peak oil like it was still far away concept. He did not seem to have any real grasp of production numbers, tightness of market etc.

I had been weighing up whether to read his book or David
Strahan next but something was stopping me from buying it.

Personally give me Westexas, Matt Simmons, Alan Drake and Kunstler any day. (this is by no means a conclusive list)

THD's book did give me one extremely valuable insight. He introduced me to the notions of adaptive cycles and resilience, which gave me a much better understanding of how oil supply interruptions could trigger failures. There isn't much in it that directly extends one's understanding of Peak Oil, though.

Strahan's book, in contrast, is a lot more fun to read and contains one of better explications of why "Iraq was about oil" that I've run across. Both are valuable books, but I found "The Upside of Down" to be more annoying overall.

I think Homer-Dixon understands the consequences of his conclusions. He goes so far as to say we will not act until the shit hits the fan. Homer Simpson would agree - Doh! Multiple failure paths and resilience - one cannot discuss that and not understand the fragility. My guess is he is packaging himself for a different audience than Heinberg or Kunstler. And yeah, saying the market is still capable of something is probably correct - that's the language of probability. He doesn't say it's likely. But hey, it's getting him and peak oil air time. Good.

cfm in Gray, ME

Which member of “OPEC” is suggesting an imminent supply boost? Hint: they are a net importer, that showed about a 75% per year decline rate in net exports from 2000 to 2003 (net exports in 2000 were about 500,000 bpd; they were a net importer in 2004).

Oil hits $75 as hurricane fears brew

OPEC kept output flat in August, according to a Reuters survey. The group agreed last year to cut output by 1.7 million bpd.

The only member suggesting the possibility of an imminent supply boost was Indonesia, OPEC's second smallest producer.

"If current high prices are due to inadequate supply, then we will propose current production level increase," Indonesia's OPEC governor Maizar Rahman told Reuters on Tuesday.


You may want to look at upstream online and look at the price of Minas $82.62 a barrel. This is more than Tapis now.


Minas has been going up strongly lately.

A $10 increase in 30 days. Looks like some refineries need some crude oil.

I've been wondering about something lately. I wonder if crude oil inventories really tell us that much about what is going on in oil markets.

My reasoning is as follows.

A refinery without crude oil input is just a bunch of rusting steel, and refineries need a minimum level of crude oil on hand. So, they will bid the price up to a high enough level to keep their inventories adequate, and if they decide that they can't bid the price up high enough to keep their inventories up, they reduce the volume of crude oil being refined, again based on the premise that they can't afford to run out of crude oil.

This actually allows OPEC to point to adequate inventories and say that they don't need to increase production, conveniently ignoring the approximately 25% per year increase in oil prices since the 1999 low.


You point is apt on inventory. However getting inventory statistics for Asia is very hard to find. I think US more frets about inventory numbers on a weekly basis than does rest of the world(no criticism of US readers intended). Not everyone has an EIA collecting vast numbers of statistics.

Obviously there seems to be a big demand for crude with a specific quality for the refineries.

see assay

I suspect that rise in diesel might be behind this

see singapore prices (graph 2)


We need an acronym for OPEC members that have become net importers, OFPEC? (Formerly Petroleum Exporters?)

In any case, from 5/06 to 5/07, Indonesia's crude oil production fell at about a 7% per year rate, so I'm sure refiners are scrambling for crude oil.

From 2000 to 2005, their total liquids consumption increased at about 3% per year, but it fell slightly from 2005 to 2006, as they continued to be a net importer.

Financial Times: Gazprom pushes Exxon to drop China export plans

Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled gas giant, stepped up pressure on the ExxonMobil-led Sakhalin group to abandon plans to export natural gas to China on Tuesday, saying gas was required by domestic consumers.

It will be interesting meeting of APEC with Hu, Putin and Bush talking energy and espionage this week in Sydney.

China denies hacking Pentagon


If Sakhalin is to go to Russia no wonder they signed up to the Gorgan gas deal so quickly.

Mind you Russia seems to be onto another earner selling subs to Indonesia.

Jitters as Indonesia buys Russian subs

Certainly Indonesia will have to import oil from somewhere to run these subs and new surface ships.

China's $7.2bn LNG deal boosts Gorgon project


CHINESE energy giant PetroChina has given the stalled Gorgon liquefied natural gas project off Western Australia a much-needed confidence boost by signing a 20-year supply contract worth $7.2 billion.

The big-dollar contract is one of many resource supply deals to be signed with fanfare on the coat tails of the visit to WA of Chinese President Hu Jintao, before he heads for Sydney to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Forum summit.

The Eurostar went from Paris to London in a little over 2 hours today, that is awesome. There has been much discussion about light rail for local transport, but the potential for high speed trains to replace air and road travel and freight shipping is a huge area for saving petrol use. We have a strong but questionable nuclear industry, outstanding renewable energy potential as well as skilled ship yards that could begin to manufacture marine renewables, an area with huge potential. As well as good hydro reserves in Scotland and Wales with plenty of pumped hydro capacity. The high population denisty makes large scale digestion schemes possible, but the slight problem is we cant grow enough food, least not to provide enough beer.

Any comments about Bush's actions towards Iran, I think the quote is 'its going to happen fast and suprise a lot of people'

Is France's new leader 'one of those' (NC)

Sorry to crash your party but the next year will make your beer a lot more expensive

Dermot O'Connor over at idleworm.com has posted snippets of an animated educational film that he's laboriously constructing:

The Peak Oil Cartoon

If you think that this is a worthwhile effort, and I do, use his Paypal link to keep him in beer and pretzels so that he can complete his "two minutes of animation per month" goal.


Old news - but something to keep in mind while one watches "the market" or ponders 'money'

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Jim Cramer, the boisterous host of CNBC's "Mad Money," recently bragged in an interview about manipulating stock prices when he was a Wall Street trader, proving all too directly -- and stupidly, I might add -- that investment professionals profit off the backs of the naïve investing public.

Why isn't he in jail?

While not directly related to peak oil, I am constantly amazed at how the American political system can only countenance two political parties. These two have become institutionalized to the point of the ridiculous. There is NOTHING in the constitution about political parties or primaries, yet the public assumes that all this came with Moses on stone tablets; okay, Charlton Heston and the NRA.

Anything smacking of real politics gets dismissed as 'populism' - which was exactly what the founding fathers had in mind, populism that is. When populism is derided, democracy appears to be over.

That said, if the coming disarray resulting from energy scarcity will require actual democracy to cope with it, we're two strikes down before we get to the plate.

Today's news debate concerns the attempt to change the delivery of electors in California from a winner take all to proportional, and the counter argument that the presidency should be a popular vote thing. Hey, it says United STATES of America, and the states vote for the president rather than the people directly; he's president of the states. The representatives of the people are in Congress. It was set up so there was no directly elected king. Regardless, the system works if people use it in an informed and diligent way. The fact that they haven't demanded the accountability that they were given is no excuse to change the system.

I say this because it is so obvious that if the US can't get simple stuff like its health system and political system past the internationally laughable state they are in, it doesn't bode well for the upcoming hard stuff.

The fact that Kucinich is not considered a credible candidate and Hillary is, is Exhibit A. Good luck folks.

The fact that Kucinich is not considered a credible candidate and Hillary is, is Exhibit A. Good luck folks.

Kucinich is doing better in online numbers than he did the last time. But given money == political power, even Ron Paul is doing better then Dennis Kucinich.

Petro: OTOH, no major first world country has been more successful at coddling and promoting the interests of the super-rich (often at the expense of the vast majority of the population). This is the one area in which America truly is world class, and it implies that possibly the USA will not (contrary to the opinion of many TOD posters) be a bad place to reside on the downslide if one is extremely well off financially.

That's assuming that our coddling and promoting is the product of rational calculation. I would say that we have created the first society in which the fantasy that one will become a millionaire has replaced the reality of one's present condition as a political force. We give the rich everything they want based on the faith that we ourselves will be getting those goodies. A good 3-year shake of that faith in 1929-1932 worked wonders in waking up the zombies, but it didn't last. If I were a rich bastard in the current crisis, I would feel safer surrounded by brainwashed peons who accepted that they would always be poor and appreciated table scraps.

In her book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with his children watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.

Duverger's Law : Single-member-district electoral systems that require only a plurality to win election tend to produce two-party systems, whereas proportional-representation systems tend to produce multiparty systems.

I would highly recommend The Age of Federalism. The founding fathers were NOT populists! They were deists ,a very tight clique and elitist to the core. Our democracy became as inclusive as it did because of the general high level of qualification of the people. But even then the FF's never would have envisioned more than a 20% participation rate. If they were to look around them today they would have even considered broad Republicanism at all! Shoppers and sports fans would not have cut it with them.


Even worse than the fact that we have a political duopoly is the fact that the differences between the two parties are trivial. As Dmitri Orlov said, in the US we have the Capitalist Party and the OTHER Capitalist Party.

Most Americans have no idea how extremist right wing their nation is from a global perspective. Almost all of the US politicians, both Dem. & Rep., could fit in very comfortably in the main center-right party of almost any other country - with the exception that quite a few Republicans would fit in much more comfortably in the most extreme right-wing parties (like the Front Nationale in France, for example).

Kucinich is left-wing? I think he would be to the right of Segolene Royal, and many in the French Socialist party considered her to be far too centrist for their taste (and she is in fact well to the right of Mitterand), not to mention the Communists and other splinter parties of the really far left.

What most Americans consider to be far left and out of bounds is in fact what most other civilized countries consider to be their mainstream centrist consensus. What most other civilized countries consider to be extremist right wing and out of bounds is in fact what most people in the US conisder to be our maintstream centrist consensus.

What most other civilized countries consider to be extremist right wing and out of bounds is in fact what most people in the US conisder to be our maintstream centrist consensus.

Look, American business backed by American Government has gotta makes its numbers.

Exxon’s Forecast for Fossil Fuels

"[...]wind and solar power are expected to grow rapidly, they will account for about 1% of global energy demand by 2030[.]"

"The World contains plenty of fossil fuel, with about 3 trillion barrels of conventional, recoverable oil across the globe, with 1 trillion produced since the industry launched more than 100 years ago" - Robert C. Olsen, chairman & production director of ExxonMobil

3 trillion on conventional? I seem to remember they were talking more than 4 not so long ago. Has there been a change in this regard?

Why can't I find the numbers I want when I need them...

The numbers vary, depending on the time of the day, phase of the moon, and who is speaking. CERA has bandied about numbers in the 10-20 TB of total oil and oil-like substances (and they seem to assume that it is all 100% recoverable too).

Also, Exxon's numbers assume historical reserve growth trends and assume the average in discovery trends which has not been true for years and years. As I recall, the world used about 12 GB of oil in 1963 but discovered something like 48 GB. In 1983 the world used about 23 GB and discovered about 23 GB. In 2006 the world used about 30 GB but discovered 6 GB.

People get wrapped up in the immediacy of a single tiny find right now that they fail to see the very clear historical trend. Prior calls on peak oil came when discoveries were way above consumption. Consumption has been way above discoveries for over a decade and above discoveries generally for over two decades. You can't keep that up forever with a resource (unless it's paper money and you are the Federal Reserve).

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone