DrumBeat: September 16, 2007

Oil industry 'sleepwalking into crisis'

Lord Oxburgh, the former chairman of Shell, has issued a stark warning that the price of oil could hit $150 per barrel, with oil production peaking within the next 20 years.

He accused the industry of having its head "in the sand" about the depletion of supplies, and warned: "We may be sleepwalking into a problem which is actually going to be very serious and it may be too late to do anything about it by the time we are fully aware."

A Perfect Oil Storm on the horizon

In the 2005 television docudrama “Oil Storm,” a hurricane that destroys a vital US pipeline, a tanker collision which closes a busy port, terrorist attacks and tension with Saudi Arabia lead to wild speculation, crude oil prices around USD 150 per barrel and an oil crisis that paralyses America.

It’s just fiction, but not far from the truth!

Shifting oil sands

What has always prevented the oil sand development has been the cost. To produce oil here you need to put almost as much energy into the sands as you get out in the form of crude, making it one of the most energy-intensive and environmentally damaging sources of fuel. That the oil sands are being developed at all epitomises the remarkable crossroads at which the world stands in terms of energy production. Plenty of oil is still out there, but it is increasingly difficult and expensive to access. This reality, usually played down by the oil industry, coincides with the rise of the 'peak oil' movement. The concept of 'peak oil' is based around the theory of M King Hubbert, a geophysicist working in the 1950s who predicted - accurately - that US oil production would peak two decades later and then enter a rapid decline. The peak oil debate grew to prominence during the high oil prices of the 1970s, but in recent years a new generation of industry experts and geologists have added their voices.

Only A U.S. Recession Can Lower Oil Price

After OPEC agreed to boost production by half a million barrels a day this week, the cartel's secretary-general, Abdalla el-Badri, came out and said that US$80 oil won't last because the fundamentals don't support it.

We've heard that one before. Many people made that argument over the last four years as oil made its inexorable climb from US$30 to who-knows-what. In retrospect, they were mostly wrong.

Is the $100 barrel on its way?

Speaking in Canada last week, Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, said he saw no fundamental reason why crude prices had breached such levels. "There is a lot of psychology in the price," he said.

Van der Veer has a point, but he would no doubt admit that the era of cheap oil has been over for some time. While the real price of oil is still shy of its all-time peak, it is getting closer to the levels seen in the 1980s. And now that the barrier of $80 has been breached, there is a growing belief that the day of $100 oil is not that far away.

Malthus and Mein Kampf come to Cork

For those who like their environmental gloom'n'doom spread with a thick dollop of Utopian totalitarianism and garnished with a slice of Galtonian pseudo-science, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas holds its sixth annual conference in Ireland this coming week.

Present will be the usual motley of silk-suited Carbohypocrites - each avidly promoting their tax-eating, alternative-energy start-ups - a gang of anti-capitalist activists, a squawk of sensescent members of the poitical elite, and a whole Bronze Age roundhouse of associated Gaia worshippers.

A flavour of what will be on offer can be had from this excerpt from one Nate Hagens of the Vermont-based Gund Institute of Ecological Economics (sic)...

World crude supply sufficient says Iran

World oil supply is sufficient and may even be more than sufficient despite the recent rise in oil prices, Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said.

South Korea: High oil prices pinch big industries

As oil prices continue to rise on limited global supply, local industries are feeling the pinch. Airlines, the shipping industry and oil refineries, which are particularly vulnerable, are adjusting to the soaring oil prices, while bracing for possible further hikes.

Stepping on the gas

Questar Corp. is planning next year to build a natural gas pipeline hub in northwestern Colorado - a project that will help Utah and its neighboring states play an increasingly important role as natural gas suppliers to the nation.

About 350 gas stations in five states will lose BP name

BP isn't the first brand to leave. Conoco Phillips left parts of South Dakota early last month.

Conoco out of Fujairah project

US firm ConocoPhillips has ended its involvement in a 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery project alongside Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) in Fujairah due to increasing costs eating into possible profit margins, according to our sister publication Meed. Both Conoco and Saudi Aramco are considering scrapping a similar 400,000 bpd refinery in Yanbu for the same reason and have held talks over the project's viability.

Samsung Engineering eyes $1b Saudi orders

South Korea's Samsung Engineering Co. expects more than $1 billion in plant orders from Saudi Arabia in the last quarter of this year, a company executive said.

"We expect to receive two separate orders valued at more than $1 billion in Saudi Arabia in the fourth quarter to build a petrochemical plant and a refinery," Hong Sung-Il, head of Samsung Engineering's investor relations team, said on Thursday.

Iraq to start deliveries of discounted oil

Iraq is to start this week delivering oil to Jordan at preferential rates under a delayed year-old agreement, the kingdom’s transport minister said in an interview published on Sunday.

China to supply Nepal with petroleum products

Accepting the plea of Nepal government, the Chinese authorities said that they were ready to export petroleum products to Nepal.

Mexico: Investors, industrialists shrug off pipeline blasts

The July bombings were downplayed as a single shot by an oddball insurgent group. But after last week's attacks, Mexican officials' comments contained hints that they can't do much to stop it from happening again, at least in the short term.

Problem dams on the rise in US

The Kaloko dam in Hawaii stood 116 years – until last year when it collapsed after heavy rains, killing seven.

Potential disaster was averted in April in Hollis, N.H., when a dozen families were evacuated and engineers made a controlled breach of an old pond dam to keep it from failing.

Such incidents are warning signs that many of the nation's more than 87,000 dams are in need of repair. Last month's high-profile collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis focused America's attention on bridge problems. The nation's dams are worse off.

Is it too late to stop the ethanol con job?

Biofuels aren't living up to their hype. By now, it's obvious they won't cure the planet of its oil addiction or take the edge off global warming - two of the alleged advantages touted by the biofuel industry. Biofuels may even be harming the planet.

Official: Russian Fuel Ready for Iran

Enriched uranium fuel is ready to be shipped from Russia to Iran's first nuclear power plant, state television on Sunday quoted Iran's foreign minister as saying.

Ben Bova: It’s up to government to promote alternative energy

Factories are not going to be powered by windmills or solar cells. Neither will big cities such as New York or Tokyo. For such intense consumers of electrical power, the only possible replacement for fossil fuels is nuclear.

Core promise: green energy

At an isolated rig in the South Australian outback, hope is growing that a clean way to fuel the future can be drawn from hot rocks thousands of metres below the Earth's surface.

McGuinty looking to hydrogen-fuelled GO trains

The Ontario government is talking to Bombardier Transportation about funding the development of one of the world's first hydrogen-powered trains, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

This Year's Winner: Don't Flush Good Water After Bad

There are lots of folks who know the war isn't over and are doing their part to waste less, be it energy, water, food or another resource. They get that each individual effort is important to the cause. And it was those people I wanted to hear from in soliciting entries for my Penny Pincher of the Year contest.

Early woodsmen used highway of ice

The new railroads should have solved the fuel problem, but they didn't. In December 1879, the Salt Lake Daily Herald explained why: The big railroad companies stopped acting as common carriers of coal; they only shipped fuel from their own mines.

Ammunition costs more; some calibers are scarce

A big jump in the cost of ammunition in the last two years is hampering both the suppliers and users of the bullets.

Suppliers and dealers blame high fuel prices, the demand for ammunition in Iraq and Afghanistan and China's demand for copper, lead and brass — key components of a firearm cartridge.

American leaders are oil addicted

When President Bush proclaimed that "America is addicted to oil" in the 2006 State of the Union address, he confused the issue. It is not the American public that is addicted to oil, but its leaders.

Carolyn Baker - Collapse Happens: Exploring Options, Spotlighting "Earthwise Farm & Forest"

People come to us to learn about designing and building their own homes, understanding off-grid power systems, composting toilets and grey-water systems, on-farm slaughtering, bio-dynamic practices, spiritual gardening, dowsing, forest management, grazing systems, food preparation, timber harvesting, and working draft animals. We recognize that perhaps the most valuable product of our farm is our experience. We do not promote ourselves as possessing the "Right Way". We have skills, and we are glad to share them with people who value the learning.

Global climate change, ozone layer are tied: UN official

A meeting of signatories to the Montreal Protocol could make a "historic gesture" by working simultaneously to restore the ozone layer and halt global warming, a UN official said in an interview published Saturday.

Sorting the wood from the trees in climate change

The timber industry is pushing for wider recognition of the role of carbon stored in wood products as a legitimate climate response. Wood is becoming a significant contributor to the overall energy profile, particularly in Europe, and this is pushing up the price of timber.

Tax proposed for gas-guzzling cars in UK

Britain's Treasury chief plans to introduce a "purchase tax" of up to $4,000 on the most polluting vehicles, The Sunday Times reported.

Is California the world's last best hope against climate change?

Despite the Golden State's energy meltdown just seven years ago - remember the rolling blackouts, bankruptcies and the shenanigans of Enron and company? - all eyes today are again focused on California and its radical legislative agenda addressing the largest energy challenge of all: global climate change.

Australia says some water cuts permanent

Some water restrictions introduced in Australia's most populous state because of a long-running drought will become permanent because of the threat of global warming, officials said Sunday.

Banned forever will be the practice of hosing pathways and the daytime use of sprinklers to water lawns and gardens.

Ancient records help test climate change

Diaries of day-to-day weather details from the age before 19th-century standardized thermometers are proving of great value to scientists who study today's climate. Historical accounts were once largely ignored, as they were thought to be fraught with inaccuracy or were simply inaccessible or illegible. But the booming interest in climate change has transformed the study of ancient weather records from what was once a "wallflower science," says Christian Pfister, a climate historian at the University of Bern.

'Ancient records'? Striking that text from 400 years ago is 'ancient,' considering how truly ancient the carbon we are returning to the atmosphere is. All part of a couple of century old, truly planetary scaled experiment, even if most of us seem unaware that we are active particpants in it, likely having effects spanning over geological time, not some trivial period measured in 10 or a 1000 human generations.

Oh, THIS outta take one TOD's posters underware and get it all cinched up. (As if it works.)

The system - developed by scientists at a firm called Ecowatts in a nondescript laboratory on an industrial estate at Lancing, West Sussex - involves passing an electrical current through a mixture of water, potassium carbonate (otherwise known as potash) and a secret liquid catalyst, based on chrome.

About time someone repealed one of the basic laws underlying physics.

Of course, in all fairness, it is possible that some sort of chemical action is taking place, especially with that 'secret liquid catalyst' and potassium carbonate (color me very sceptical, though).

"It sounds too good to be true - not to mention the fact that it violates almost every known law of physics."

SOLD! I can't turn down investing in something that teaches those scientists and mother nature a thing or to. The almighty dollar knows no bounds.

Plus I hear the secret ingredient is fossil fuels.

Kind've reminds me of The Matrix where the second law is defied, as explained by Morpheus, by them using humans combined with a form of fusion for powering those evil machines.

So that's like going to an airline pilot and asking him how the plane flies, only for him to reply "Why, by the use of rubber bands combined with two 120 kN turbofans running on JP-8".

Some other guy had similar claims about hydrinos, or hydrogen atoms that are at a lower state than ground state. *Shrug* We cant even make a unified theory after 110 years of trying, much less fully understand what causes gravity....

"Some other guy had similar claims about hydrinos, or hydrogen atoms that are at a lower state than ground state."
Good ol' Blacklight Power

Some other guy had similar claims about hydrinos, or hydrogen atoms that are at a lower state than ground state.

'Round these here parts that is what Airdale tells us.

Basic physics aside the article and the schema don't explain one thing: they claim that the reaction is taking place in a mixture of water, potassium carbonate and that "secret catalyst". After the heated water escapes, obviously the dissolved carbonate and "secret catalyst" also escape with it... where does the device continuously inject those compounds in the incoming water? How much would I need for a liter? Per joule of produced heat? Were they factored in the EROEI? Oh right, they can't because that catalyst is a secret... LOL

From the diagram, it looks like the reaction fluid does not escape from the device. The energy is transfered to the water flowing via a heat exchanger. The result may be a very efficient water heater, but the claim that there's more energy produced than that of the electric supply would violate basic physics. It should be very easy to test the claim that this device produces more energy than that supplied, so one must consider the statements by the university folks to be of some merit.

E. Swanson

Ooops. You are right, the diagram shows just that.

In this case the question remains where does the extra energy come from? If it is indeed from some undiscovered lower energy state of water, then how long before the water in the initial mix becomes "exhausted"? Or it endlessly goes down the energy curve?!? Could this be some sort of cold fusion? Either way sounds like a complete BS to me.

I thought it was perfectly obvious: the energy surplus is being tapped from another dimension. Imagine their outrage when the beings from that dimension discover what we're up to...

LOL! Didn't you borrow this from one of the Asimov's novels? "The Gods Themselves"?

It's gonna be the thiotimoline with it's four bonds at 90 degrees to each other that saves us, right?
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

You can buy ground source and air source heat pumps that put out via an exchanger 1:3 to 1:5 energy in for heat output (of course they take the heat from the air or ground). I've been lookign at a DIY one in the UK:

http://www.cooleasy.co.uk/product-wall.htm eg 1Kw elec. in, 3.3-3.6Kw heat out

The problem is that natural gas is still very much cheaper than electricity (in the UK anyway) for heating your house/water so these devices would only become viable if the price of the heating fuel relative to that of electricity was to go up. OR// if you have no natural GAS!

This device seems to be achieving the same result (if not quite as efficient) as the heat pump idea - except they don't know where the extra energy is coming from in this case.


Furthermore the article says 'heating bills could be slashed in half' - this would only be the case if your house/water was heated by electricity alone. Most people I know in the UK gave up electric (white meter) heating in the late 80's and switched to GCH/OCH.


The inventor holds this patent for a similar device from 1998:


If the device puts out more energy than you put into it, what happens when you hook two of 'em together in a loop? Mushroom cloud? Meltdown? Rift in spacetime?

If the device puts out more energy than you put into it, what happens when you hook two of 'em together in a loop?

A great investment opportunity, a solution to the subprime melt down and a means for America to repay her debts. It's an energy Viagra without the Viagra.

What is the EROEI on the catalyst? I am given to understand that the productions of chrome involves a heating process that uses silicon or aluminium.
Silicon is commercially prepared by the reaction of high-purity silica with wood, charcoal, and coal, in an electric arc furnace using carbon electrodes - using fossil fuel energys.
Aluminum is also energy intensive to make with an "average specific energy consumption of approximately 15±0.5 kilowatt-hours per kilogram of aluminium produced from alumina. (52 to 56 MJ/kg). The most modern smelters reach approximately 12.8 kW·h/kg (46.1 MJ/kg)." (from wikki)
On the face of things it looks good, but what the real costs are, and how long the unit and its catalyst last need to be known for a fair evaluation.
Chrome, as a heavy metal might also be a significant source of polution in the istance that these should become common place And that the catalyst had to be regularly disgarded.

The story about former Shell chairman Lord Oxburgh with which Leanan led off ("Oil industry 'sleepwalking into crisis'") is also posted at David Strahan's website: www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=46
(Sometimes the Independent site is slow).

David Strahan has also post a full length interview with Lord Oxburgh at his site: www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=40.
(Also mentioned by Chris Vernon at TOD: Europe).

Energy Bulletin

Seems to me (from reading the linked article) that Lord O is warning oil companies that oil prices significantly higher than they are today (in adjusted dollars) will bring lots more players into the game and endanger oil company bottom lines.

He also has, IMHO, a rational outlook on PEAK!!!. (Quick! Dig caves and store potatoes!)

His take - it will happen sometime, the exact time is not important, demand will continue to increase relative to supply, but oil will be available for a long, long time.

I think he's either 1) warning oil companies to not get too greedy, or 2) advising oil companies to diverse and make sure they have some of their capital in alternative fuels, or 3) a bit of both.

I agree with Lord Oxburgh as shown in the forecast below. I think that production has hit plateau now and that oil prices could reach $150/barrel by end of 2010. Demand could outstrip supply in the next few months.

click to enlarge, updated for 0.5 mbd OPEC quota increase and for IEA Sep 2007 OMR. For a full forecast please click here

However, in an interview with Barron's today
Rothman of ISI group
thinks that oil prices will go to $US45/barrel. I don't think so...

If the Mises blog people ever find out about the ideas of Jay Hansen's http://www.warsocialism.com site.....

If the world worked like the 'free market' they are pushing - there would be costs if their ideas were wrong and those costs would be bore by them and them alone. Alas, this shall not be the case.

Thank you.

Like reading a mathematical equation.

The greatest event in our lives is about to take

"Since the end of 2005, the number of
allied troops has declined 20 months in a row, by an average of about 575 troops per month, and
is now at its lowest point of the entire war. If the trends of the last 20 months continue, the
number of non-US allied troops will reach zero early in the next administration."


Libertarians. I used to be one, more or less. IME, it goes with techno-cornucopianism. If you believe that technology can solve any problem, then the libertarian view makes sense. Once I started wondering "Where's my flying car?" and realized technology, too, is subject to declining marginal returns, I lost my interest in libertarianism.

Leanan, another recovering Libertarian! Spending three months on the South Side of Chicago (a ghetto) turned me around.

But gotta be fair to Libertarians. There are many Libertarians who write much better on peak oil than the one posting at the Mises site.


"I ... realized technology, too, is subject to declining marginal returns"

That might be true were there no new technological discoveries/breakthroughs.

It might be that we're currently at a stage where changes in petroleum technology might be only small tweaks. But we're currently in what seems to be the early stages of a huge technological expansion via nano-technology.

Don't confuse a slow period in a varying curve with cruising to a stop. Things can accelerate quite suddenly.

That might be true were there no new technological discoveries/breakthroughs.

It's technological discoveries/breakthroughs that I'm talking about. Science is subject to the same rules of discovery as oil is: the low-hanging fruit is picked first.

Things can accelerate quite suddenly.

Only if there's enough energy.

My bet is the singularity ain't coming.

"It's technological discoveries/breakthroughs that I'm talking about. Science is subject to the same rules of discovery as oil is: the low-hanging fruit is picked first."

Not at all. It's highly unlikely that there are any major oil fields waiting to be discovered.

One can not say, with any degree of certainty, the same for scientific discovery.

We're somewhere on a rapidly accelerating slope of new scientific discoveries. Research is no longer limited to a few major universities/labs in the west. The whole world is churning away. And our ability to process data is increasing at an incredible rate.

Oil is (most likely) on its downslope.

Not at all. It's highly unlikely that there are any major oil fields waiting to be discovered.

One can not say, with any degree of certainty, the same for scientific discovery.


We're somewhere on a rapidly accelerating slope of new scientific discoveries.

Disagree. Tainter has written a lot about this. We are spending more and more money on research, for less and less return.

Research is no longer limited to a few major universities/labs in the west. The whole world is churning away. And our ability to process data is increasing at an incredible rate.

And yet, technology is still slowing down. PhD dissertations have become "islands of trivia in a sea of minutiae." The "elephants" - the small cost, big benefit discoveries - have already been made.

The parallel with oil production is quite striking to me. The whole world is churning away. Yet we aren't getting the returns we used to.

First off, I agree with all of Leanan's disagreements. Well said, Leanan.

We are spending more and more money on research, for less and less return.

I have been wondering for some time if the reason for the techno-fix belief system is not due to extrapolating Moore's Law too widely.

The law of diminishing returns applies more than Moore's Law in regards to energy sources.

So your suggesting that we, as a society and intelligent race, are approaching they very cusp of scientific knowledge available in the world? Peak Tech?

Yes. And I'm not the only one.

I think the complexity that supports our technology depends on cheap, abundant energy.

If we did somehow discover a new source of cheap energy - say, aliens landed tomorrow and gave us Star Trek matter-antimatter reactors - then we could probably continue for awhile longer. Maybe quite awhile longer. Eventually, though, we'd hit a limit again. Knowledge may be unlimited, but useful knowledge...probably not.

So say we had cheap nuclear fusion power available now. Would we still never get any 'smarter' than that? :P

So, say my auntie had balls... she'd be my uncle right?
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Nice paraphrasing :)

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

"..and gave us Star Trek matter-antimatter reactors"

Now, I might be wrong here...but I believe the matter/antimatter reactor was for the warp drive. The ships main power came from the fusion reactors ;)

Dang, I thought it was Trilithium crystals...

dilithium iirc
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Becoming the Aliens of Independence Day.

Leanan, we're nowhere near the limits of Physics, let alone Science. Here is just one really interesting grand challenge with incredible potential.

Quantum Computing

Here is a company turning deep science into something really useful.


Just a couple of counter points that could spawn trillion dollar industries......

Dreaming while our wealth bleeds into the sands of Iraq.

Read about Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine to see that we're
moving into profit from destruction.

"...Shall I go on? Because this is merely the beginning. The projects are so enormous, and the combined effects of so many of our foolishnesses coming home to roost so vast that while we *could* do any one or two of these things, we probably won't even do that. What, instead, we will do is manage in bits and pieces, and then not manage when we can't. We've seen in New Orleans and with our crumbling infrastructure that we can no longer actually keep up with fixing and maintaining, recreating and rebuilding what we have let go. All of the things, as Christians say in prayer, what we have done and what we have left undone are starting to tumble apart, and we cannot afford to mend them."


Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Yep, that's the doomer line.

"Yep, that's the doomer line."

Looks like a throw-away ad-hominem. Do you have any counter-argument to offer, or are you just calling names?

My degree was in Physics. I may not be the best Physicist in the world, which is why I never went into research, though several friends did. But I have a pretty good grasp of what's going on there.

It is exactly as the big L says. The low hanging fruit stuff is gone - the level of complexity to achieve small tweaks with little real-world pay off is incredible.

That doesn't mean that from an academic point of view, from understanding stuff it isn't GREAT work, and basic science is essential for a whole number of reasons.

But there isn't some miraculous violation of the laws of thermodynamics coming round the bend. Its effects would have already been apparent and investigated if there was something out there that could do that.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

One thing that kind of bugs me is the way people lump science (which to me means basic science and papers in refereed journals), and technology, which to me consists of trite stuff like iPhone, xbox, and other techno-trash.

IMO, the advancement of science and technology tends to follow the money. My sense is that hese days, most of the research money is for developing new weapons systems. And given the secrecy involved, we in the general public really don't have access to the information about the types of stuff they develop.

When I got my PhD in Physics, it was for a while kind of interesting, but I had the sense that things were slowly winding down. A lot of our funding was military, but we were doing basic research. As time went on, the funding agencies started to tighten the screws more and more - they didn't want open-ended decade-long research projects. They wanted something that they could deploy. That was about the time that I decided to get out.

The people I know who are still in the field tell sad tales. They have to do horrible amounts of paperwork, just to get 50K$, and since that isn't enough to run a research program, they have to have multiple 50K$ grants going in order to keep things going. When I was in graduate school, grants were on the order of 3-500K$, or more, and while there were reporting requirements there as well, it didn't seem as onerous as there were fewer grants total, so there were fewer times that you had to do a dog-and-pony show.

These days I do software development. We do product development for a product that we sell on the open market to anyone who wants it. No secrecy (trade secrets yes - we don't publish our sources, but we don't have government bureaucracy to deal with either). And while I do all of this, I am still surrounded by huge office buildings that belong to one defense contractor or another, and I imagine that they are trying to build more weapons and all of that. I run into people now and then who do "government work" who keep trying to recruit me, and I have zero interest in going in and working on the sorts of things that they probably work on.

As time went on, the funding agencies started to tighten the screws more and more - they didn't want open-ended decade-long research projects. They wanted something that they could deploy.

And that is declining marginal returns in a nutshell.


Lord Kelvin, one of the most famous physicists and engineers ever, said in 1900:

“There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, all that remains is more and more precise measurement”

Obviously he was wrong since 1900 was also the year of Max Planck’s quantum hypothesis, and just five years before the Annus Mirabilis of Einstein.

He, like you, lived in an age of remarkable scientific progress and probably couldn’t imagine it continuing much longer. But science is more like sunshine than like oil, it is hard to collect, but essentially infinite. Also, I think that it is easy to forget how much effort went into the science that we are familiar with. Occasionally there may be a flash of insight, but these flashes have always been fleshed out over decades by hundreds of graduate students and researchers each individually contributing, as you say: "islands of trivia in a sea of minutiae."

I agree that science is expensive, but it was also expensive 100 years ago. The resources of those old scientists seem simple by today’s standards, but they were expensive by the standards of the time. It seems likely that in a resource-limited future, science will suffer, but frankly, the resources that are now devoted to science are trivial compared with, say, what is spent on lawn care.

By that argument, we'll never run out of oil, because hey, they predicted it would run out before and it didn't.

Oh, and the dot-com crash never happened, and the housing bubble will never burst, because people predicted it would happen multiple times and it didn't.


I agree that it is an observation rather than an argument. The argument is that science is not a physical resource that can run out. Although, clearly, the pursuit of science is limited by the availability of resources.

More importantly, we know that we don't know very much about the universe (known unknowns) and we also know from experience that there is a steady stream filling the set of known unknowns from a presumably much larger set of unknown unknowns.

As an example, we do not know what "stuff" makes up 95% of the universe. And just a decade or so ago we didn't know that we didn't know this.

Arbitrarily more examples available upon request.

'Science is subject to the same rules of discovery as oil is: the low-hanging fruit is picked first.'

Actually, I somewhat disagree, at least in terms of science concerning the universe around us, and not science as the basis for technology.

In that sense, science is a creative process, seemingly ruled by insight. Generally, the truly major breakthroughs in understanding the universe have a clarity which makes one wonder how earlier people could not see it. This idea of 'metaphor' as being the key mechanism in science is at least a couple of decades old (and was an attempt to get beyond 'paradigm,' which tends to be tautological). It also neatly ducks the idea of 'universal truth,' while bringing to the fore the idea that science is a human endeavor, with different explanations simply replacing earlier ones, though always bounded by reality, even if delayed a generation or two (the cause of ulcers being a perfect modern example of this process).

As an example (from mathematics, unfortunately, really mixing subjects) - it is hard to imagine generations of some of history's best mathematicians simply not using zero, but that is pretty much how the Greeks did it.

But do you think such undiscovered "insights" are limitless?

I do not. I think the most useful have probably already been discovered.

Ordinary people, working on their own, used to be able to contribute great discoveries to science. That is no longer the case. Now you need years of education, multi-million dollar labs and equipment, corporate and government funding, with all the organizational complexity that implies, etc.

For this reason, I think more expensive energy is going to hit science and technology very hard in the post-carbon age. We've already hit "peak college" in the U.S.

There are also two other issues that are seldom discussed: First, the time it takes to implement a new technology. PV offers a good example. PV panels have been available for over 30 years yet it has made little inroad for home power.

This leads to issue number two: The technology has to affordable. I'll use PV as an example here too. I have a 3.6kW system that cost a lot of money and will never pay back the initial costs. I installed it because I'm in the boondocks and we often lose our power. So, inspite of being great technology, I rather doubt that many people in suburban or urban areas are going to cough up the money required.


Personally, the distinction between science and technology has become far too blurred, with our shared biases very heavily leaning to the technical nature of acquiring information.

For example, the still relatively undeveloped science of ecology does not seem to require technology much beyond awareness of one's surroundings and a means to record information over generations, a long enough time scale to be able to collect knowledge.

And to the extent that the universe is without limits, yes, I do believe science is without limits. Technology, however, is a completely different subject.

To frame it differently - I consider science as limitless as art, as I see science as a creative human activity.

For example, the still relatively undeveloped science of ecology does not seem to require technology much beyond awareness of one's surroundings and a means to record information over generations, a long enough time scale to be able to collect knowledge.

What you describe has been done by people probably ever since there were people.

And there were limits. There has been an explosion of understanding, due to new technology. For example, understanding of migration patterns is probably not possible without sophisticated tracking systems. Genetic analysis has also been a boon. The ancient Hawaiians knew their world pretty well, but they have multiple names for the same species at different ages, because they looks so different you can't tell they are the same. Or they have the same name for species that look so similar that only a DNA test could tell whether they were the same or not.

To frame it differently - I consider science as limitless as art, as I see science as a creative human activity.

I guess I don't really see art as limitless, either.

Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near, 2005) would say that nanotechnology does provide fresh horizons for discovery. Moore's Law doesn't appear to have played itself out either.

The real question is probably not whether we've run out of ideas; but, rather, whether we still have the cheap energy, vital resouces, and political/economic stability to pursue them. Time is short.

Kurzweil argues that "energy requirements for nanofactories are negligible," and that "molecular manufacturing will be an energy generator rather than an energy consumer." He then quotes Eric Drexler (father evangelist of nanotech):

A molecular manufacturing process can be driven by the chemical energy contect of the feedstock materials, producing electrical energy as a by-product (if only to reduce the heat dissipation burden)....Using typical organic feedstock, and assuming oxidation of surplus hydrogen, reasonably efficient molecular manufacturing processes are net energy producers.

So much for Entropy. So much for Tainter. Diminishing returns become "accelerating returns". Away we go!

Whether you believe any of that (I'm highly skeptical), it would appear that there's still room for magical thinking out there.

The question of whether ingenuity can solve the emerging critical global problems is admirably and exhaustively treated by Thomas Homer-Dixon (The Ingenuity Gap, 2001).

Um, last time I heard, Kurzweil's personal plan involves him personally being immortal, via injecting himself with nano-robots to keep his body alive until his consciousness can be uploaded into a computer.

Mr. Kurzweil, however entertaining, is a kook. His rough argument seems to be that if some unlikely-but-desirable thing is not absolutely precluded by the laws of nature, that it will probably happen. This is just an odd flavor of religion.

Mind you, I think it would be useful to be able to manufacture spider silk, which doesn't take exotic ingredients or a ton of energy; anything a spider can do with it's ass is probably worth attempting. (kids don't try this at home)

But Leanan's spot-on with regards to diminishing return on investment in complexity. Tainter's basic thesis is relevant across a far broader range of subjects than is appreciated.

Belief that we will always innovate our way out of jams is a comic-book way of looking at the world. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In some contexts, you're simply hosed.

I will append one minor caveat: I think the efficiency of innovation suffers from increased complexity as well. Seems like at present we have huge mega-projects like ITER which tend to squelch competing methodologies by sucking up available funds, and doofuses screwing around with microwave oven parts in their garages trying to burn seawater, and little middle ground. If innovation offers any possibilities at all, it isn't being approached efficiently.

There are a number of innovations out there that would reduce our energy consumption--they aren't being adopted. The auto companies want to amortize their investment in technology already developed, and avoid taking risks on new technology. As long as the cornucopians can dominate the public discussion of energy, no-one is going out on a limb to save a lot. When TSHTF, a lot will be available, but we will be very far behind the power curve.

Kurzweil is a loony in my opinion. Technology and all human perception is subject to the same laws of thermodynamics as everything else in the universe. Without increasing energy inputs, human societies will not show increases in perception. Cartesian duality was an old-fashioned idea 200 years ago- imagining that human intellect is somehow decoupled from the laws of physics in 2007 is just absurd.

He's a kook but a lovable one.

And there is some merit in arguing some of the points he does. But the THERE is so far from the HERE that even with the greatest will in the world we cannot get THERE before Peak Oil is HERE.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

the low-hanging fruit is picked first.

With science and technology, I'm not sure that the "fruit" analogy is particularly useful. Some of the fruit is invisible; you may not know that the fruit is there until you go looking for it in exactly the right place. Or you may come across the fruit, but not recognize it. Or people will have said "no fruit there" based on some silly idea, but be wrong (for example, no one believed that bacteria could live in the stomach, so no one realized that ulcers were caused by Helicobacter pylori). With some things, once you can "see" the fruit, you can pluck it easily. In other cases, one fruit leads to another.

For example, I just bought an automatic breadmaker. Probably not feasible without the microcontroller, but given the microcontroller, relatively simple to implement. Somehow, picking the microcontroller "fruit" leads to many, many other "fruits". The breadmaker may well reduce my shopping trips for fresh bread.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Google search engine, for example, accelerates research. It's possible that an ultimate speed of research and discovery will be reached (rant--if so, it's because of patents, laws and tax regimes), but I don't think we've reached that point yet.

Some of the fruit just doesn't taste so good right now. We didn't know how to make cheap shiny things until recently, but if we ever want to go to solar furnaces, we will be able to make mirrors for almost nothing now that we know how. Even silver plated glass is better than what the ancient Greeks had, and I'm sure worst case we could scavenge some Britney Spears CDs.

The breadmaker may well reduce my shopping trips for fresh bread.

Or, like millions of Americans, you could find it gathering dust. ;-)

The novelty appliances we never use
And all those shoes
You bought for when we go on
The Alaskan cruise

Sorry, but I don't think automatic breadmakers or Britney CDs count as low-hanging fruit.

I'm not talking about scavenging technology for other uses. I'm talking about new technology that can change the game, and keep the party going.

There are two things, almost within our grasp, which could change the game entirely--the first is cheap efficient solar energy, the second is cheap compact efficient energy storage. There isn't anything known that would necessarily prevent either of those. However, even with the most optimistic scenario on those fronts, we will go through great hardship because the technological transition, if there is one, will be too late.

Hey hey Folsomman,

There are two things, almost within our grasp, which could change the game entirely--the first is cheap efficient solar energy, the second is cheap compact efficient energy storage.

As far as electrical power generation is concerned we already have both of these.

Cheap efficient solar energy: Concentrated solar
Of particular interest is the Stirling solar dish system which converts sunlight to electricity at a 40% efficiency. The stirling engine was invented in 1816. It is low tech and cheap.

Cheap efficient energy storage: Sodium-sulfur battery
This battery has an 89% efficiency. It is made from cheap abundant elements and has a long lifetime.

I assumed you were talking about electrical storage. Thermal storage would also be cheap, easy and efficient.

The problem is that cheap is a relative term. What most people mean by cheap is: cheaper than what we have already, fossil fuels.


That is until the price of what we have goes up, which it will. The real question is not what secrets are out there waiting to be discovered, but what do we have sitting on the shelf collecting dust.


Bread makers- Here, my wife puts the ingredients together, I mix 'em up in a pot, with a long wooden spoon, she bakes, we eat. No batteries to go flat, no microchips anywhere, no nuke power to worry about. Been done for millennia, works fine.

Stirling engines- not cheap, not as efficient as all that, way too many $ into space/military whiz-bang isotope stirlings, way too few into solar. Too bad, since stirlings REALLY WORK on solar, if and only if they are the free piston kind that the space/military guys love so well. The old automotive crank stirlings don't have anywhere near the life needed, but that's where the dribbles of money for solar stirlings are going- right down the ol' rat hole.

Pumped storage. Folks, I simply can't believe there is so little enthusiasm around this place about this old, simple, good and obvious technology. You pump water up with your surplus wind/solar, you let it run down to get your megawatts back when wind/solar is weak. Simple, well known, does NOT use up water, does NOT require a hill. A hole will work. Big, but cheap and reliable.

I don't agree with our much-valued Leanan on running out of good tech. The above is one example of a zillion- everybody knows that we CAN run on solar/wind/biomass- as long as we don't breed ourselves to death, or waste so much, and aren't so greedy for stupid goodies from China or some other place that is killing the world making crap.

And guys like me doing just fine with junk we find lying around are everywhere. And I'll even bet, if you stuck a happiness meter on our forheads, you would see a higher reading than you would get from the greed/grab/grub types slithering around on the WSJ editorial page.

Sigh. This is all old news. Why do I bother? Back to bed.

everybody knows that we CAN run on solar/wind/biomass-

No, everyone does NOT know that. That is, not civilization as we know it.

All human societies have been solar-powered. But it wasn't until we started tapping fossil sunshine that we reached this level of technology. Why?

"does NOT require a hill. A hole will work."

Eh? Can you elaborate on that.

I don't agree with our much-valued Leanan on running out of good tech. The above is one example of a zillion- everybody knows that we CAN run on solar/wind/biomass- as long as we don't breed ourselves to death, or waste so much, and aren't so greedy for stupid goodies from China or some other place that is killing the world making crap.

I believe you're missing the point, because you're talking about things that have already been created or known about. She's talking about new things, unheard of.

Dammit. I labored over a long reply to all that, and at the end, when I got to the "post comment" I did something wrong with my fingers and the whole shebang just dropped into some black hole somewhere. Talk about unknown unknowns!.

Has happened to me before.

So, drop the effort for immortality, short answers.

Remember Feynman's little pep talk "Plenty of room at the bottom"? He was not talking about new science, but new technology, which is endless, new, unheard of. Newton did new science. Did he think about walking on the moon?

Solar is super-abundant. We know lots of ways to get it, "Too expensive" is bullshit, considering that the expense of coal and oil is death.

"Civilization as we know it" is lard, waste, laziness, stupidity and not worth saving. The great majority of people are doing things that should not be done at all. Throw it out, start over.

Hole in ground. Pumped hydro requires a low reservoir and a high reservoir. Doesn't matter where the high and low are - on the ground and up a hill, or on the ground and down a hole. Same thing.

Last line in my lost bid for immortality " We have the opportunity to be heros. What luck, almost nobody has had that chance. Let's grab it and GO!"

Start: Water is in hole
Step 1: Pump water out of hole into tank or shallower hole.
Step 2: Wait until you need power let water flow back into deeper hole.
Repeat as neccessary.
All you nedd is one place to store water with lower gravity than another.

A perpetual motion machine, yes every home should have one.
In fact there should be a massive pump at the base of all Hydro electric systems the more water they pump the more power we get, why haven't we thought of this before.
I better get a patent before someone makes a whole lot for sale.

No it's simply pumped storage without a hill, the concept of which someone was having trouble with.


The main new technology that underlie my hopes is a mixture of biology and nanotech.

IMHO, we greatly need to understand the processes of life, the DNA molecule, and how to code and assemble it to order.

God, or however you wish to refer to however we came to be, has left us all sorts of valuable DNA code snippets in the great variety of species of life.

Foremost, we need the photosynthesis to power everything.

If we need electron flow, see how the electric eel does it. Fireflies make light. Muscles make motion. There are almost limitless examples of chemical factories. And sensors for damned near anything. Massively parallel neural nets for processing.

All of it self reproducing, no less.

I feel we have only just began, but our skills in the more primitive sciences were necessary to bootstrap us into the more advanced sciences, where we finally understand ourselves and how life works. From that, who knows what we do?

I would hate to have to build a computer with electromechanical relays. Likewise, I think the machines of the future won't be based only on silicon. They may be much like us.

I have seen several articles from China regarding extremely lifelike humanoid robots they are evaluating for caring for the elderly. Their technologies are still silicon and electromagnetic motors.

How about real bones and muscles, all grown to order - everything made from completely biodegradable recyclable materials? Powered from neat packages of stored solar energy, grown on trees?

Is God an elegant designer or what? Its now the twenty-first century and we are just now catching a glimpse of the magnitude and elegance of the design. Things like the Human Genome project. Isn't this an exciting time to live in?

I just wish I wasn't 55 years old and getting ready to exit the stage. I loved Assembly language - I felt I could do anything the processor could do. I can only imagine the joy to code DNA.

The only thing I would worry about is the Sun going out, and that ain't happening any time soon.


If God was so helpful we wouldn't be in this mess.

Surely abiotic oil and no global warming effects would have been a nice start.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Actually, If we were just photosynthetic, we wouldn't be in this situation. That's it. Gene therapy to make us all green.

Is God an elegant designer or what?

No. In fact, that's one of the best arguments for natural selection instead of intelligent design. Stephen Jay Gould wrote a lot on this theme. So much of natural design is not good, just "good enough."

much of natural design is not good, just "good enough."

And homo sapiens is a key bit of evidence. Who would design an omnivore with a love of beauty and such an endless capacity for killing?

I prefer not to plan the future of society based upon the timely arrival of the Just-in-Time Technology Fairy.

She is, of course, welcome whenever she stops by with whatever unexpected gift she bears. But I will advocate making plans without relying upon her help and adjusting plans after, and not before, deliveries of new technology.

Best Hopes for Reality Based Planning,


In this case you should abandon the idea that we could have 50% wind on the grid. With current technology this is practically impossible. We don't have the technology to store such large amounts of energy and the best we've got is limited, expensive and is only up to 75-80% efficient.

The best illustration of real-world problems with integrating wind (at only ~5% penetration) I've seen is the 2005 E.ON Netz Wind Report (PDF).

This is our current technology. Please, plan according to it.

Nope, wrong.

New Zealand says 35% wind and "then we will see" after that level is reached. EON does not like wind, hence their report.

Pumped storage is VERY real and just not widely implemented enough. Bath County gets real world 81% cycle efficiency (which is good enough). 75% is also "good enough".

HV DC is also VERY real and also not widely enough used.

Nuke will forever require fossil fuels for spinning reserve (see France), wind does not. Idle pumped storage can ramp up quickly enough for wind that is dying down but it cannot react fast enough for a nuke that goes off-line. And wind comes in 5 GW and smaller units, new nukes in 1 GW and bigger units.

Nukes cannot supply much more than 50% of an isolated grid. Where can be find the other half ?


Alan, I don't care what New Zealand says, especially while it still has less than 2% wind. How come that E.ON Netz, which as part of E.ON Group - the largest wind operator in the world, does not "like" wind? If wind is so useful and profitable what is it not to like about it?? After all by 2004 the Group had received almost half of the euro 2.35 bln. of Germany's wind feed-in renumerations.

I presented you a technical report by a company that already invested billions in this largely useless technology. Euro 3bln. are planned to be invested only in wind related grid reinforcements by 2020 - or euro 100 ($140) per additional wind megawatt which noone accounts for. This - for 48,000MW, producing 15% of electricity generation, while displacing only 2,000MW conventional capacity. If they invested just those euro 3bln. in nuclear they would have achieved the same effect.

These are people that make and distribute electricity for living and their jobs and careers depend on it. You and me are just amateurs. If you respect their work, please argue their points, instead of attacking them at hominem. Attacking people that do this in reality and for their living, with government reports produced by beurocrats sitting in their warm and cosy chairs is mildly said unfair.


If they had invested 3 bln euros in nuke they would be likely producing zero electricity today because of delays and cost overruns. See the latest EU nuke in Finland.

You and me are just amateurs

I do make money from electric utilities. That may cost me my amateur status.

The issue is NOT capacity per se (as you bolded) but MWh production. Several coal plants running at half speed to support a nuke still emit substantial GHG. Coal plants cold and idle for days at a time when the wind is blowing well emit nothing.

Germany, unfortunately has relatively poor wind and quite poor solar resources UNLIKE THE USA. We are blessed with a variety of superb to excellent to simply good wind (and solar) resources. Germany has pressured (forced) the electric utilities to build as much renewables as possible and they do not like it. Thus the bias, despite the large portfolio.

If you do not like the NZ government's analysis of their two grids (yes they have two, weakly connected by one HV DC line), I do. And I place greater reliance on their analysis (and North Island is over 2% wind today BTW AFAIK) than I do one with a strong negative commercial bias.

And Jutland (a separate grid from the rest of Denmark, not even directly connected to Copenhagen), has extremely large % wind (over 100% at times, and average 68% from weak memory).

Your use of national % when the grids are quite separate, is incorrect and very misleading. I expect to see the electrical island of Texas (ERCOT) go well above 5% wind in a couple of years even as the USA stays below 5% that year.

in this largely useless technology

T Boone Pickens is investing $6 billion in new electrical generation. According to nuke promoters he could buy TWO nukes for that much money ! In reality, he could buy one new nuke (or a couple of used ones).

Instead he wants to invest it in Texas wind turbines.

Odd !


The report here (1.2MB PDF!) shows 1.6% in NZ for 2006.

T Boone Pickens may invest in wind which is subsidised, and Vinod Koshla is investing in ethanol which is also subsidised. Odd coincidence, isn't it?

West Denmark of which Jutland is a part of, has a 2400MW interconnection with the grids of Norway and Sweden. Call it "isolated" is mildly said misleading. At the same time West Denmark installed wind capacity is 2,379 MW (2005). Coincidence? Hardly! The interconnection must be able to handle sudden power surges, which wind operators in Denmark have no other choice to dump to their neighbors.

NZ is relatively unique country with its almost exclusively hydro resources. It may achieve higher wind penetration, though I would suspect that transmission bottlenecks and the exhaustion of good sites will hamper it.

North Germany, West Denmark and Texas grids do not have sufficient hydro resources! They all rely primarily on coal. Coal and wind do not work together. It takes 12 to 24 hours for a CPP to ramp-up from cold start to full power. It takes slightly less from a spinning reserve state but it is SLOW. Coal is for baseload and the reality is wind needs NG or hydro to balance. 5% in Texas maybe a viable target but don't expect it to get much further - in several years Texas will be where North Germany is now. Expecting it to reach to 10-15-20% and more... I would not bet a single cent on this. 50% in Texas, not to mention 50% nationally... simply not worth talking about.

Just for the record - I make money from gold and silver but I don't claim I understand much of gold and silver mining.

Me - I am avoiding getting paid to solve the energy crisis in order to preserve my amateur status for the olympics. I hear they are going to add "women's rugby", "under 10's marco polo" and "timed gathering of solar energy and effective storage" in Beijing.

Just what I heard. The source has yet to be verified.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

One advice Alan: don't talk with LevinK about wind and nuclear, his support of the latter is equal to his rejection of the former.

Goodness. And I thought I emphasized it tens of times already:

I am all for wind.

What I am arguing is that we all should know about the practical limitations of wind. Wind can never provide a sizable fraction of electricity supply in an industrialized, energy intensive country. By sizable I mean > 10-15%. It is so variable, it simply does not fit the idea of having a machine (the grid) that you expect to provide you with electricity whenever you decide to turn the switch on.

Alan's claim that we could go for 50% wind and forego nuclear is simply way too delusional and IMHO dangerous. We will always need baseload supply and since he creates the perception we could use wind for baseload (which is impossible) he fosters the opposition for nuclear. But the grid still needs to keep running - and what happens in reality is that coal takes the bulk of the baseload supply. And baseload requirements rise each year... And this leads to... does climate change ring a bell?

Our society will be defined by the energy available, not what percentage of energy we formerly used that can be provided by renewable resources.

Nuclear, hydro, solar, wind energy stored as air in pressurized underground impoundments; these are the choices. Coal? If the arctic icepack changes presage what I think they do the PEMEX bombings presage the response of the disenfranchised here. Those Powder River Basin rail lines run a long way through empty country and it won't take anything more than a nice, quiet hydraulic jack to play havoc with their schedule.

and forego nuclear

I NEVER said that !

I am in favor of a safe, economic, and steady pace of building new nukes. My estimates, given that the US nuke building industry is dead and gone and must be rebuilt almost from scratch, are reasonable.

I *AM* against a "Rush to Nuke" for both safety and economic reasons. But also, the last time, the US nuke industry self destructed. Had every announced plant been built, and no premature retirements, we would be getting twice as much power from US nukes as we are today.

If you will, I want to save them from themselves, a repeat of the disasters of the 1980s.

You seriously underestimate the percentage of wind power that can work.


we could use wind for baseload (which is impossible

Wind plus pumped storage makes a "better than nuke" baseload.

In addition, idle pumped storage can serve as "spinning reserve" for wind.

The inertia of the WT blades and geographic dispersion give more than enough time for pumped storage to come on-line.


Alan, I don't care what New Zealand says, especially while it still has less than 2% wind.

Interesting 'tude. I've heard many people SAY that Fission Power is safe, clean, and would be too cheap to meter.

In fact, I'd swear I've seen such arguments from you, all the while the reality of fission power is not too cheap to meter, nor safe nor clean.

Ever seen me endorsing any of these comments uncritically? People say all kinds of stupid things and the things that are BS outnumber the truths by huge margin.

But I can comment on some of the claims

- safe - so far the biggest and in fact only disaster has been Chernobyl. 70 deaths and about 1000km.2 considered uninhabitable by humans. Compare that to coal - millions die every years and the area of strip mines could fit some countries.

Maybe nuclear is not "absolutely" safe but it is definitely safer. Actually wind turbines kill too. So do microwaves.

- cheap - on par with coal and much cheaper than wind.

- clean - the amount of the world nuclear waste can fit in a stadium. If there was a political will waste would be non-issue.

- cheap - on par with coal and much cheaper than wind

Only if you cherry pick data. Zimmer, Whoops I, II, IV & V, Browns Ferry I, Ft. St. Vrain, Seabrook, Zion, Rancho Seco and MANY more. Add costs of increased spinning reserve that nukes typically require. And $XXX billion for waste disposal and decommissioning.

And since wind is about 1/3 more expensive than coal today, and dropping, I do not see how nukes can be "much cheaper" than wind, if you assume nuke = coal costs (which I seriously question.

I see wind as cheaper than nuke going forward.


Probably the best study of the costs, problems, and opportunities of including wind inthe mix is the Minnesota Wind Integration Study


It's been awhile since I read it, but basically (IIRR) they found that integrating 25% wind would not be a big deal. They also quantified the effects on reliability as the area the wind is gathered from increases.

As to nuclear, I am firmly convinced that we humans are not smart enough and our institutions - be they government or private - are not disciplined enough to deal with such a potentially dangerous technology.

I have to correct myself - E.ON group is not the largest wind operator in the world, just the biggest wind energy distributor in the face of E.ON Netz. I misinterpreted the 7000MW figure as by generated by E.ON itself.

Still E.ON has about 700MW of wind generation and is planning to invest euro 4 bln. in renewables by 2010. The question is why? Is it because it really wants to, or because of government mandates and perverse incentatives?

Nuke will forever require fossil fuels for spinning reserve (see France), wind does not.

Bullshit makes the flowers grow, one by one, row by row.

See the red bar that does not go away no matter how many nukes France builds.

Alan what are you talking about? The ratio of fossil to nuclear on the picture is maybe 1 to 10. To claim that nuclear needs fossil based on that is ridiculous.

FWIW eyballing the graph conventional thermal falls from ~90 TWh in the 1983 to ~30TWh in 1993 or three times! Then it rises a bit - likely due to the contribution of natural gas.

But what the graph proves is that we could easily have 80% nuclear and only minor contribution of fossil - and this is damn obvious. Vive la France! And vive the clear skies!

I have little doubt that pumped storage works out nicely on paper in terms of efficiencies, etc. but I would really love to see a serious effort to describe/calculate how it would work in reality on a very large scale using real world geographical data. Here are some problems I see:

1. Pumped storage on a large scale will require vast quantities of available water. On a large scale, it seems to me that the water could not be used on any scale for anything else but the pumped storage such as dual use as in pumped storage + irrigation. This would effectively tie up water resources in the case of fresh water.

2. Much wind power is available in arid areas or in areas where there is already stiff competition for existing water resources. This leads to the option of having to 'pipe' the electricity (via HVDC?) to a location with water and use the power there to pump store, effectively increasing transmission losses and infrastructure requirements.

3. Where there are huge quantities of water (the ocean) there is often the problem of lack of topography. Pumped storage takes two things: lots of water and somewhere 'up' to pump to. Ironically, the topography may correlate inversely with the wind, i.e. hilly terrain with lots of water may mean poor wind resource in terms of power generation.

It seems like we may face a situation where pumped storage for wind power will work great, but in limited areas with the necessary water and topography and wind to support it.

Pumped storage as I've read about it has always been compressed air fed into underground impoundments. I've never seen one suggesting water pumping was the way to go.

Pumped storage with water is pretty common. Pumped storage wity air is pretty new.

One of several pumped storage (water) sites.



Iowa is pretty flat ... all we ever hear about here is pumped air storage. I fear I've become "relocalized" in my knowledge ...

San Luis Reservoir, Calif.


Worldwide list of pumped storage plants

Hello ET,

Your remark: 1. Pumped storage on a large scale will require vast quantities of available water.

I have posted on this before: if the environmental effects can be minimized somehow, there may be many steep, but relatively short boxcanyon areas along the seashores whereby windturbines could pump seawater behind dams. Then release this seawater for its short run back to the sea when instant water-turbine power is required.

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

Where are there boxcanyons along the coast that aren't in seismicly active areas?

I'm with you on this ET, this idea sounds like a variation of a perpetual motion machine, terrific on paper but they always fail to deliver.

One thing Hollywood has given us a false experience of is the Last Minute Save just in the nick of time.

Reality shows us that Last Minute Failure >> Last Minute Save
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Expanding human perception & consciousness including technology is constrained by thermodynamic law. You had best hope that we are able to continue increasing net energy availability for human societies if you hope to see our boundaries of perception continue to advance.


Most of the problems I read about can be solved with technology but even with technology you still need to do the actual work and also change society around the new technology. The worlds ultimate hammer still needs a carpenter, his time, an idea of what to build and that what is built indeed is usefull.

change society around the new technology.

Yes. So now how do "we":
1) Tell whole bunches of people "what you were told here - a lie" (and, what gives "us" the "authority" to determine what is truth and what is not?)
2) Change expectations so a new reality is acceptable.
3) Change the laws in mass to meet the new reality.

Keep in mind there is that 5% of 'psychopaths/sociopaths' to deal with in there.....

I've never had any interest in anything ending in 'ism'; well, in the sense of 'being a -----ist, al, can, ant or whatever. Attaching oneself to a set of ideas always seemed too excluding and precluding of comparison for me. If it involves buying a package of beliefs, it's probably suspect on some of them.

gotta applaud you on this should-be-obvious point

this acceptance of pidgeonholing or accepting labels wholesale, for self or others, is just useless when almost no two people really have exactly the same views on everything... and most labels are so fraught with loaded imagery based on whoever is hearing the label...

as an immigrant to the US i find the label conservative for vast swathes of the authoritarian radical right wing in this country laughable...
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

I guess you could have called me a Libertarian years ago, too. Since when I was a kid in the 1970s, computers kept getting better, seemingly faster and faster, and empirically I saw nothing better than for everyone to hitch their wagon to that star.

But then computers stopped getting better. Since 1997, no major new functions have been introduced. Software and hardware since then has largely competed on style, not substance.

Around that time, I began to lose my techno-ideology.

First, I lost my ability to enjoy science fiction - Progressivist morality lurked behind every story. Then I couldn't take Internet Culture very seriously anymore.

After the 9/11 coverup and invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, I lost my ability to watch mainstream news. They seemed unable to discuss simple facts even. It became a blur of hairstyles and sound bites.

So I switched to NPR. They were a little better, but acted largely as if American foreign policy was for the benefit of everyone but America. This was hard to swallow.

So I switched to Democracy Now! and the rush of honesty about foreign policy was nice for a while. But even they make it sound like the world would just keep getting better forever, if it weren't for a few charismatic bad guys like Darth Cheney and Darth Bush. Vote them out and it's happy days again?

In 2005 when I found www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net I experienced catharsis. This made things so much simpler. With no consumer culture (or donation culture) to appease, the facts could be told. I was very happy to finally get some truth, but I wish the truth weren't so ugly.

bmcnett: Yes, what a wonderful synopsis of your journey. Most of us went through similar stages. The only thing that I would add is that there is non-progressivist science fiction for the LATOC crowd, simply forgotten for awhile:



As to whether these stories are enjoyable, that depends on one's taste.

I probably fall under the libertarian umbrella, but I guess I missed the memo that discussed techno-cornucopianism. To me libertarianism is about personal responsibility, freedom, and limited government.

Nothing prevents one from reading both in search for a way.

Israel claims raid on Syria destroyed Nuclear Warhead obtained from North Korea

The Times, quoting Israeli sources, said that preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the chief of Mossad, presented Israeli PM Ehud Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to purchase a nuclear device from North Korea.

"This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel," said an Israeli source, the Times reported. "We've known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scud (missiles), but Israel can't live with a nuclear warhead."



Except that Israel is 40 miles
upwind from Damascus.


A little while back Pakistan and India were on the brink of pushing the button. Rumor had it that the USA arranged for both side to receive a briefing on the effect of multiple nuclear weapon detonations. Afterward they both backed off going nuclear.

People in general and politicians/bureaucrats in particular do not seem to understand that a nuclear weapon isn't just a big boom.

I've been in the unpleasant position of having to repeatedly brief people, who simply don't have the imagination to comprehend the consequences of their decisions. What makes it even worse is when they don't want to understand. Usually because reality doesn't conform to their political agenda.

Never underestimate the ability of people to lie to themselves.

Rumor had it that the USA arranged for both side to receive a briefing on the effect of multiple nuclear weapon detonations.

Every once in a while I read something as a rumor and hope that is it true.

I can only hope that there is modeling of nuclear warfare that causes the weapons to not be used and that the elected leaders opt to listen to such.

(And to add fuel to the Syrian-Israel bomb strike over 'smuggled' nuclear bombs - I add a link to "The Voice of the White House" - who's making a claim that there was gonna be a surprise attack on Israel. It can't be much of a surprise if TOD readers have heard of it....)

But if that one is not over the top - here is a link that has 'over the top' all over it!

Hello Alan,

Thxs for the link. I refer to the quote from the article:
The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.
Israel might have got a 'twofer': the bombs wrecked Syrian nuke chances plus their phosphate supply that would have been later used for their agriculture. It will be interesting to see if Syria is now desperately bidding for phosphate fertilizers to avoid the Liebig Minimum of crop failure in the planting cycles ahead.

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

Cid - thoughts on the following timeline of unrelated (cough, cough) events:

Aug 30
B52 'accidentally' carrying nuclear warheads event. Weapons unaccounted for 10 hrs. Flight time should be 3 hours.(1)

Sept 3
ship arrived Sept. 3 in the Syrian port of Tartus,emerging consensus in Israel was that it delivered nuclear equipment. (2)

Sept 6
Israel bombs facility in Syria, though neither side discussed it

Sept 9
Story of armed B52 'mistake' reported in the Military Times (not the Pentagon's shill) (1)

Sept 15
evolving story of Israeli bombing refers now to nuclear (2)

Correct me if I'm wrong but within a week there was more military actions associated with nuclear weapons than I've seen in a very long time.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, right?

(1) http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2007/09/marine_nuclear_B52_070904w/
(2) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/14/AR200709...

I've got more for your timeline.

Sept 3 - Cargo ship with 'package' arrives (Why Tartus, isnt that where the Soviets ..er..Russians are?)

Sept. 4 - Israel repositions their Satellite and verifies target location

Sept 5 - Israel inserts forward observers with laser targeting system who deploy at target position

Sept 6 - Target struck

Israeli response was extremely rapid and efficient leading to the conclusion that 'package' was a nuclear warhead, not materials as Syria lacks the means to construct a bomb and 'materials' would not have required such a rapid response. Also, Syria was pursuing a nuclear device from North Korea, not materials or technology.


August 14 - Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”.

August 15 - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warns Israel of a region changing "Great Surprise" if Israel attacks Lebanon.

Leading to the conclusion that Nasrallah was informed of the deal and then unintentionally tipped off the Israelis by bragging about it.


With regards to the B-52 incident

Do you think they were trying to covertly get those weapons into the Mid-East Theater of Operations and got caught?

Was there 6 weapons ordered at Minot but only 5 found at Barksdale?


What about the billions in puts set to expire Sept 21? (I don't understand how there can be a 'mystery' investor, I'm sure it's not possible to invest anonymously.)

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

Cid - First a minor correction. AP reports event on Sept 5, the story then appears Sept 6 briefly in MSM. I'll redo timeline with your input at some point.

Air Force official fired after 6 nukes fly over U.S.
B-52 bomber, accidentally armed with warheads, went over several states
Associated Press
Updated: 2:43 p.m. ET Sept 5, 2007

The earliest date of the story in Military Times is Sept 5, but they updated earlist report and I can now only find story dated Sept 7, here.

So I'd say more 'related' events might be found surrounding these dates; will try to find more info before speculating further (opps, I think I've already done that in past posts).

There are no accidental nuclear weapons moves. That was purely saber rattling. I'm just confused who in the world needs to be reminded that we've got them ... or perhaps this was a simple statement that we're cocked and locked in the event of any foolishness.

Israel will be swept away by these events ... I just hope the sweeping is an evacuation and not an over run and slaughter ...

Here is something to keep the conspiracy junkies going.


An airman from the base died while on leave in Wytheville, Virginia.

In reality, it is extremely unlikely he was in anyway involved. The thing that really got my attention was that I was in Wytheville, Virginia on September 12.

Maybe I should go into hiding?

5th Security Forces at Minot are responsible for Munition Convoys, as in transporting nuclear weapons between secure storage and loading.

Yeah, I imagine it will get the conspiracy talk going.

If you had contact with him, you might want to go into hiding.


Sept 10:
"...Base officials say 20-year-old Airman 1st Class Todd Blue died Monday while visiting family members in Wytheville, Virginia."

"...Information on how Blue died has not been released."

With all due respect to the family and friends of Todd Blue, several alleged friends have written that Todd died by suicide.

aren't you missing the fact that 6 nukes reported loaded on the plane 5 nukes reported taken off the plane after transiting the length of the country?
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

That's what I'm asking. Is there one missing? Are we going to see New Orleans go up in a mushroom cloud and the administration blame it on whoever we want to make bad guy of the month?(Not picking on NO, just closest and already half destroyed by Katrina, so perhaps seen as most expendable.)

New Orleans is a valuable port in a state trending Republican. Look for states that have flipped to blue and you'll find the obvious location for a false flag operation ...

LA is the favourite of 24... and Fox produces 24... and Fox News will push the war... and Fox will make money from syndication of 24 with renewed interest...

All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

I know the Republicans hate Hollywood, but LA is surrounded by Republican enclaves. Besides, you get no more 24 if you take out the studios and the actors.

No more 24? And that would be a bad thing because????

One more

Sept 3 - Bush makes secret trip to Middle East


And one more...

Sept 18 Rice's 'thank you' visit

Former director-general of Foreign Ministry: Condoleezza Rice visiting to thank government for alleged Air Force op
Yaakov Lappin Published: 09.17.07, 20:18 / Israel News

...US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming to Israel on Tuesday to "say thank you" for the alleged Israeli air force operation in Syrian territory, Dr Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, told Ynetnews....

to "say thank you" for the alleged Israeli air force operation ??

Some updates:

Report on nuke-hauling incident delayed
By John Andrew Prime - Shreveport (La.) Times
Posted : Monday Sep 17, 2007 12:06:25 EDT

Even though Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne wanted a report about an Aug. 30 B-52 weapons-loading mistake on his desk by last Friday, it will take a little longer to generate, his office said.

“The investigation is ongoing and is expected to continue for at least the next several weeks,” Jennifer Bentley, a spokeswoman for Wynne’s office, said Sept. 14.

Also, no news yet on the cause of death of Airman Todd Blue on Sept 10. There was a closed casket viewing last week so unless there is still an autopsy underway, there should be a death certificate issued and a cause of death listed.

Washington Post Analysis of Aging Baby Boomers

Her sense of feeling trapped at home may become a common emotion among her peers, as more of the region's seniors age in neighborhoods that are far from convenient transportation hubs.

The graying of the suburbs has to do with the way the region was settled, experts say. After World War II, the first generation of suburb dwellers left homes in the District to raise families in greener climes such as Arlington and Bethesda. Then the parents stayed. As housing prices rose, young families moved farther out to afford their dream homes. Thus, the region is aging in rings farther and farther from the city center...

Her schedule is at the mercy of a hodgepodge of volunteer drivers from Fairfax County's office on aging and her friends. Family members live far away. The bus stop is too far for her arthritic knees...

Her sense of feeling trapped at home may become a common emotion among her peers, as more of the region's seniors age in neighborhoods that are far from convenient transportation hubs...

But the nearest decent grocery store is 15 minutes away by car. And it's far from county bus service...

The county recently added a stretch of sidewalk along Snowden River Parkway so residents of a new senior complex could walk to the nearby Krispy Kreme

Add inflation to eat away savings, higher oil costs for friends and family (who may start focusing more on their own daily struggle to just get by) and growing numbers requesting help from society and volunteers.


Be careful what one wishes for.

Little Hope for Retiring in Suburbia,


At home it is popular for aging people to sell their house and move to an apartment when the garden and house takes to much work. Selling the house usually pays for a nice apartment.

But also the trend to stay at home as long as possible is strong and it is aided by manny elderly peopel being able to drive their own car. But if you are obese your options shrink and it could get life quality nasty with an elderly obese population in a shrinking economy.

Regarding extreme obesity that hinders free movement I have read some local debate articles on stomache surgery that indicates that it could be a good idea in life quality and total cost to offer it to all of the obese population. A trade off between a low single digit percentage of serious compliactions and eating lots of half apple sized meals versus almost certinity of numerous serious illnesses and not being able to move freely. An immediate deadly risk and giving up the pleasue of large meals versus a longer and mobile life. I guess there will be a market preassure for the lowest total cost if the health market is free. ;-)

Selling your house for moving to a nice apartment will probably only work long term withing bicycle or plug-in hybrid range from a transportation node.

I guess there will be a market preassure for the lowest total cost if the health market is free. ;-)

This is a dilemma for those of us in favor of some variety of socialized medical care. If a huge percentage of the population take poor care of themselves, it drives up the cost of the commonly supported system and taxes unfairly those of us who have healthier lifestyles. Although insurance companies have been charging higher premiums for smokers and I just read an article where employers are beginning to charge health coverage extra premiums to employees based on an unhealthy body-mass-index. No reason a common-carrier system couldn't do the same, although there would be an increased danger of the overweight majority voting down such moves.

My mom drives twelve miles once a week to the pharmacy and grocery store. She is seventy two. I was in the pharmacy myself earlier this week and heard them talking about their clutch of drivers. I bet we're going to see an increase in delivery driver and transport services here in rural areas very shortly ...

There's a pharmacy in my town that makes deliveries to their elderly customers. The only reason I know about it is one of my coworkers retired and took a job with them to supplement his pension. Spends three hours a day, two or three days a week, making deliveries.

Apparently this was common in the old days. The owner of the pharmacy retired, but worried about his customers. So he sold the business with the stipulation that the delivery service must continue.

We here in very rural areas don't have all that much cultural change to do in order to prepare for a post peak world. This sort of thing is the norm here and the old folks are generally "looked after". My father was disabled at fifty but he could still drive and he made it a point to look in on a couple of fellows older than him he'd worked with in the past. My mom turned sixty seven, my father died, and suddenly neighbors and cousins found reasons to stop every few days to see how things were going.

I think this is that social fabric stuff Alan keeps talking about w.r.t New Orleans. What we're lacking here is walkable distances, but those with efficient cars will probably step in and arrange things, likely with some coordination going on by local churches. Icky "faith based initiatives" aside, churches here are part of the social fabric, and often in ways an outsider would find strange. This town, for example, would not have a phone book if it weren't for the nimble fingers of the Rachel Circle from one of the local Lutheran churches.

And moving to the city may not be the answer, either...

‘The cost of living is driving us out’ - Shortage of affordable rentals in cities dwarfs issue of rising foreclosures

After paying rent on his ramshackle San Francisco apartment, Jose Morales Morales, 78, has $36 a month for expenses. Renters on both coasts and in betweeen are being squeezed.

TOD is, today, scarce and expensive.

My solution is to vastly expand the number of T nodes and saturate the market (along with applicable zoning to allow OD). Increase supply faster than demand increases and lower the price :-)

Best Hopes for at least 1/3rd of Americans living in TOD (<2% do today),


TOD = Transit Orientated Development

Go, Go, Go Alan Drake!!

I really hope momentum for building electrified-RR, mass-transit, and TOD can rapidly occur before an energy crunch happens.

If an energy crunch does occur before we get Alan's transformational buildout completed: what Alan proposes, and can get completed, will be the urban 'spine', and minitrains quickly bolted to the sidewalks can be the suburban 'arms & legs' to help keep society moving. Recall my numerous earlier postings on this subject.

It only takes a few recycled Hummers to make a minitrain like in these linked photos:



I wish we could run an real-life experiment whereby a bunch of peleton bicyclists could try my speculative free-ride minitrain hitch-hiking on an non-stop express concept. I envision a pickup truck, going about 15 mph, pulling about ten specially constructed trailers down the middle of an abandoned airport runway. The bicyclists would be given various get-on & get-off assignments to fully check out the feasibility of my proposal.

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

It just occurred to me that not all cities have broad sidewalks everywhere like my Asphalt Wonderland.

Therefore, running a pickup pulling peleton trailers down a suburban street could be a viable 'silver BB' to help energy-efficient bicyclists traverse long work-commuting distances. Of course, this setup would have to stop-n-go like any other vehicle at normal intersections, but I think it would be much time-faster than the normal passenger entrance-to-seat/seat-to-street traverse of a typical city bus.

If assigned a specific lane on a freeway: it could help assist the long distance movement a lot of bicyclists. The free-ride hitch-hike trailers could even have roofs to help protect the bicyclists from sunburn or rain, and vendors on each trailer could sell water, snacks, and other goodies as the peleton moved along. During cold weather, if the trailer roofs are PV Panels: a bicyclist could rent a heated blowdryer to warm hands and face, or just stick inside his/her jacket to rewarm the body core.

Obviously, rubber-tires on a ICE pickup is not as energy efficient as electrified steel wheels on steel rails, but it could help bridge the energy gap until Alan's ideas are fully built out.

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

Some days, I wonder which cities will even BE here decades hence. The closest city to me has no reason to exist, per se. Seems like the earliest cities naturally emerged based on harbors, canals, major trade route intersections, or natural resources. (my nearest city was originally an agricultural town).

In the case of that city, all the ag land has had houses built on it, and the topsoil stripped away and covered with grass. Indeed, it seems like the rationale for most cities these days is simply random, like the formation of galaxies from gravity after the big bang; greater population density became self-reinforcing.

People assume that great caravans of "stuff" will continue to be delivered to existing cities. And they are the logical 'distribution nodes' now. But I have a sneaking feeling that my nearby city will have no real reason to exist....

Hello Greenish,

Jay Hanson and Jim Kunstler, among other experts, predict that cities like Phx and Vegas will be essentially ghost towns. I am inclined to agree because our local sustainability thinknot-tank called the Global Institute for Sustainability [GIOS] has not answered my emails. I have to assume that their paychecks are more important than helping to spread Peakoil Outreach for timely mitigation.


As long as they encourage the further building of golf courses, shopping extravaganzas, carwashes, A/C suntanning and nail salons, flushing thrones, and the further paving of asphalt--this habitat is doomed.

Next Question that needs to be Answered: Will Cascadia welcome 50 million Southwesterners plus another fifty million from Mexico WTSHTF? Inquiring minds want to know.

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

This article is from the tabloid-y NY Post, but it has a couple of quotes from Elizabeth Warren,

CONSUMING FIRE: Debt Slowly Killing the Big Spenders

While the subprime mortgage meltdown and its effect on the economy has gotten most of the attention in the media - and while more and more economists feel a recession is likely - the quietly building credit card crisis could have an even uglier impact on the economy, credit experts said.

"The last life preserver of home equity loans has just been ripped away, so families are now alone in a sea of debt," says Harvard Law School's Elizabeth Warren, a law professor and expert on consumer debt. She's referring to the ability of families to turn the rising value of their homes into home equity loans to pay off their fat credit card bills.

"Whether they drown quickly or slowly is an open question, but they will drown," Warren said. "The numbers don't lie on this; there aren't any other options here."

Warren is the author of The Two-Income Trap, and has done a lot of fascinating research on bankruptcy in the U.S.


That's right.

And someone explain how crude hits $80
and my gasoline drops 10 cents to $2.88.

I'm glad I sucked at Econ 101.

Demand Destruction in North and South Dakota ;)

You're right that there are changes in very rural North and South Dakota, which are at the end pipelines, but I don't think that is demand destruction. They still want the gas, but they just happen to be the lucky place that will be abandoned first as gas supplies go below MOL.

Where does the next withdrawal happen? Montana and Wyoming have similar demographics. So ... what was piped has to go in tanker trucks if it goes at all and the cost goes up up up

North Dakota is the world's third largest nuclear power. I have a bad feeling about this.


I haven`t escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

sorry , you guys, but north dakota, montana, and wyoming sit on the williston basin:

..also, wyoming and montana sit on more coal then carter had little liver pills. billings, montana has a conoco refinery, that i believe robert rapier toiled at before leaving for cooler climes in aberdeen. this part of the country produces much more energy then it uses.

The minor detail is that we can only use certain kinds of energy for infrastructure that has already been built. We don't yet have the technology to replace all of the cars and trucks with electric ones. Even if we did, the cost would be prohibitive.

the majority of montana coal comes from the powder river basin wyoming coal primarily from the powder river and green river basins. much of the coal in the williston basin is lignite. the williston basin does however produce lots of oil and gas as does the powder river, big horn and green river basins.

Now that I know an Arkansawer is someone from Arkansaw, i'm curious; why do you put it at the start of your posts?



I can't answer for the poster mentioned, however;

you can "saw" lumber
and the little girl "saw" a bee

But when I was going to school, there were no "Oklahomans" or "Arkansasyers" we were just Arkies and Okies

"you can cure ignorance, but you can't educate stupitidy"
the old hermit

To say that "Arkansaw" is not Arkansas is like saying that Mark Twain is not Samuel L. Clemens:

Well, me and Tom Sawyer had the spring fever, and had it bad, too; but it warn't any use to think about Tom trying to get away, because, as he said, his Aunt Polly wouldn't let him quit school and go traipsing off somers wasting time; so we was pretty blue. We was setting on the front steps one day about sundown talking this way, when out comes his aunt Polly with a letter in her hand and says:

"Tom, I reckon you've got to pack up and go down to Arkansaw--your aunt Sally wants you."

I 'most jumped out of my skin for joy. I reckoned Tom would fly at his aunt and hug her head off; but if you believe me he set there like a rock, and never said a word. It made me fit to cry to see him act so foolish, with such a noble chance as this opening up. Why, we might lose it if he didn't speak up and show he was thankful and grateful. But he set there and studied and studied till I was that distressed I didn't know what to do; then he says, very ca'm, and I could a shot him for it:

"Well," he says, "I'm right down sorry, Aunt Polly, but I reckon I got to be excused--for the present."

His aunt Polly was knocked so stupid and so mad at the cold impudence of it that she couldn't say a word for as much as a half a minute, and this gave me a chance to nudge Tom and whisper:

"Ain't you got any sense? Sp'iling such a noble chance as this and throwing it away?"

But he warn't disturbed. He mumbled back:

"Huck Finn, do you want me to let her SEE how bad I want to go? Why, she'd begin to doubt, right away, and imagine a lot of sicknesses and dangers and objections, and first you know she'd take it all back. You lemme alone; I reckon I know how to work her."

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens


I do it for Old Hermit.

Native lore.

It's the Arkansas River. And someone from Arkansas is
not an Ar-Kansan. They're Arkansawyers.

I could talk about Ouachita to and relate it to the various
Wichitas but I think Arkansawyer covers it.

And Arkies and Okies are kinda like Texicans. ;}

Winter gas.


I haven`t escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

Thought this might be of interest - Ralph Nader: Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

Ralph Nader: Electricity Generation of any Kind is Not the Answer.


I haven`t escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

I don't get your point. Are you attributing this perspective to him?

"If the government wishes to guarantee energy loans, they can start with loans to residences and small businesses to make their premises much more energy efficient. Many jobs are there all over the country. Or, if need be, they could temporarily guarantee renewable energy “infant industries” that would replace fossil fuels and nuclear with many practical variants of solar power."

The article was about wiser uses of US Treasury dollars than for protecting an industry that Wall Street won't go to the wall for. Why should we?

Do you see Nader as anti-electricity? He is anti-corporate malpractice and government complicity in the same.

Go give your seatbelts a hug.


Maybe this is what you are referring to..

"Three decades of detailed assessments, on-the-ground results, and research and development innovations in the energy-consuming devices used in our buildings, vehicles and industries undeniably show that energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are superior energy options for society. They offer a present and future path that is economically attractive, safe and secure from large-scale or long-term risks or threats to public health, future generations, and the environment.

"But embarking on that path requires overcoming the power of the oil, nuclear and other conventional fuel industries to which both the Republicans and Democrats are indentured. Under the thumb of the dirty fuel industries, Congress and the Executive branch have refused to adopt even the most modest, common sense measures. For example, when the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded in a 1997 report that doubling the Department of Energy's efficiency R&D funding would produce a 40 to 1 return on the investment for the nation, Congress responded by proposing deep cuts in the efficiency and renewables R&D budgets.


I keep passing over this: "the cartel's secretary-general, Abdalla el-Badri, came out and said that US$80 oil won't last because the fundamentals don't support it."

All I can think is that he's telling the truth. The fundamentals don't support US$80...they support more.

Edited to fix the size.

Please don't blow up images larger than their actual size. Depending on your video card settings, it can make them unreadable.

I edited it a few times down to width =270, Native (no specified width) seemed far too large.

What wudth did you set it at ?


I left it at no specified width. It appears much smaller that way than with the setting you had it at, at least on my system.

A sort of related article...

Sunbelt city in grasp of housing undertow

FORT MYERS , Fla. - To understand how the housing bust may ripple through the broader American economy, look beyond the countless for-sale signs that dot this middle-class city. Instead, stop by Boater's Landing, where salespeople sit idle, hoping someone will once again want to buy a boat.

Or visit the women answering phones at the local United Way, which is dealing with a flood of aid requests from the unemployed, whose numbers have nearly doubled in a year. Or talk to the Shevlins, a real-estate agent and a carpenter, whose combined incomes dropped from $350,000 to less than $60,000 in two years.

Across this city, even businesses that have little to do with real estate are reeling. Unemployment is up, sales are down and redevelopment ambitions have been scaled back.

Will 'jawboning the Fed' overcome soccers popularity around the globe? The upcoming game is to be played Sept 18 and will pit the 'Fedicopters Restoring Confidence' against the 'Nervous Negative Nellies'...With the NNNs a 3 1/2 point favorite in early wagering.

'Defining week for markets ahead with D-Day for Fed'


'BE BRACED for a turbo week - as if the past two months have not been turbo-charged enough. Financial markets around the world now face a defining week with key meetings and economic news that will shape responses to the continuing crisis.'...snip...

'And on Tuesday the 18th comes D-Day. This is when a long-awaited meeting of the Federal Reserve's interest rate-setting Open Markets Committee will decide on whether to cut interest rates - and by how much.'...snip...

'As keenly awaited as the size of the cut will be the statement that accompanies it. No outcome would be worse for the world's biggest central bank than a move in interest rates that fails to elicit the response required - in this case a steadying of nerves and a reassurance to main street America that the credit crisis will not be allowed to pull down the wider economy into recession. The likelihood is that the cut on Thursday will be one of a series that could take the Fed funds rate down to 4% by next year, compared with 5.25% currently.'...snip...

'As central banks, both in Europe and America have repeatedly stressed, there is no shortage of liquidity. But there is a huge shortage of confidence and trust. It is now up to the Fed this week to cut rates and give confidence a boost.'...snip...

I just completed my powerpoint in an internet cafe in Ireland. I must say, if I don't first get rubbed out by a crazed Austrian, it will be the best presentation Ive ever done.

It's time for lateral thinking..

Will you also present at the ASPO conference-Houston ?
Advance huzzahs

not invited
but i will write a post on my speech upon my return...

will there be any audio available on the net?

Or better yet, a DVD set, like they had for the Boston meeting.

While Ireland would be fun, I guess I cannot justify the expense and the more importantly the fuel use to go there myself. I wouldn't mind buying a DVD set though as it would capture the essence of what went on.

Even Cheney said that we are entering a period of "tough oil" which means that it will be hard to get and cost more. I would not be surprised to see rationing within the next year.

Venezuela has said that they will ship no more oil to the U.S. withing the next few years and Mexico is in decline.

People do not like to hear the "R" word, but it is the only fair method that is available to us, until we get a fleet of FFV hybrids out there and get all those monster SUVs off the roads.

OK, I give up - there are many words that begin with "R", several of them are really unpleasant. Which one did you mean?

My guess is "rationing."

Maybe we could just staple their gastanks.

Bariatric surgery for an SUV - I love it. Too bad the things wouldn't slim down and drop 1000 pounds by having the fuel tank stapled.


Revanchism...There's an unusual word. It's not in the WordPerfect or FireFox dictionaries.

Revanchism (from French revanche, "revenge") is a term used since the 1870s to describe political campaigns to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country during previous wars and strifes, sometimes quite distant in time. Revanchism draws strength from desires to regain national esteem, local geo-political dominance, or economic advantages by subduing a foe. Extreme revanchist ideologues often represent a pro-war stance, suggesting that the losses can be reclaimed only through a new war.

Are you suggesting that The South should Rise Again? Or, perhaps Mexico should take back California? You can't be referring to the U.S., since we "won" the war in Iraq ("Mission Accomplished"?).

E. Swanson

Oil is said to be very "inelastic", in that demand is relatively fixed and changes in supply can sharply move prices up or down. After Peak Oil, it's likely that the mismatch between declining supply and continually increasing demand will push prices ever higher. That will also result in price increases through out the entire economic system, which will feedback into the cost of alternatives. I think this would result in a continual upward price spiral, a hyper-inflation, as seen in Zimbabwe these days or Germany after WW II.

Once it becomes clear that the world is past Peak Oil, I think the only rational solution will be a direct rationing system. I would allocate an equal share of transport fuels to all drivers, fliers and other users of transport fuel. The amount would be initially set at a level somewhat less than that used by the average consumer, with the level adjusted downward a little each year to reflect the decline in available supply. There would be the need for a "white market" for trading of allocations, thus, those who needed more could go to that market to purchase an extra allocation. One result would be that the large user would pay more for the fuel used, in addition to the usual dollar amount.

Any such system would become rather complicated with various exceptions and subsidies, if traditional political processes are allowed to interfere. The most obvious problem would be providing fuel for businesses and industry. One solution to this side of the problem would be to account for the fuel used by each productive enterprise and then pass this energy cost on to the consumer at the point of sale. This would be identical to using one's allocation when buying fuel at the pump and would give the user an exact indication of the indirect consumption of fuel in each product. The result of this would be a powerful incentive for business and industry to conserve oil in all their operations. One effect would remove the need for many subsidies for alternative energy supplies. If rationing for oil does prove a workable solution, such a system might later be shifted to limits on carbon consumption from all fossil fuels as concerns about climate change begin to dominate.

Rationing would appear to be the only way to address Peak Oil without causing total destruction of both the economic system and society in general. Of course, there's no guarantee that rationing would work, given the many other interests already at work in the world. We know that there are people who would just as soon kill half the Earth's population, just to get more oil for themselves. They may be trying to do that now...

E. Swanson

Forget plays, these guys stole team’s wiring

A high school football game was called off because thieves stole copper wires feeding the stadium lights.

The lights at Anthem Boulder Creek’s stadium wouldn’t come on at game time Friday, leading to a 90-minute delay while officials tried to find out what was wrong. Minutes later, workers found the copper wires powering the lights were gone.

Well, if we go back to day games, at least east coasters won't have to stay up to midnight to watch the World Series...

Double Warning That a Recession May Be on the Way

The employment statistics and the bond market are combining to send out a warning that has been heard only rarely in the past two decades: A recession is coming in the United States.

Interesting thing I've just run across here from the original makers of the Gizmo, called the BugE:


Brian Fox's BugE on EValbum: http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/1246

Peak Oil from my petroleum investment?

I have some small investments in oil/gas(mostly) wells in North America. In my investors statemtent had the ususal stuff untill I flipped it over and.... "Peak Oil- Hubbert's Peak Theory" almost full page on the back with graphs.

Very surprising coming from an oil and gas company, and impressive that they are also using it to market their investors for the next round of exploration.

Hi fishey72,
I'm putting together an oilfield redevelopment prospect in Texas, and its dependent on peak oil and the changes in production technology that make new reservoirs produceable of up to 65% of the original oil in place while the fields discovered before 1930 got only about 10% of the OOIP. I'm very interested in how they wrote it up as I am currently writing up my prospectus. Is the prospectus available online? Could you email it to me at Bob Ebersole twothousand and four at Yahoo.com all lowercase, 2004 is numerical. Sorry to be so coy about my email but I don't need it harvested by any more spam spiders.

Today on my Walkabout I met a local fellow holding up a sign trying to get rid of Bush and Company, only to discover that he is a Lurker of TOD. Small world it is out here. I have recently become car-less, so I walked my way to Church, got a ride downtown with my Aunt and Wlked the rest of the way into Little Rock. Then about 2 hours later walked back home. I took a lot of short cuts that cars would not have been able to do but my steady walking speed is about 2.5 to 3 miles per hour and the walk back took just about 2 hours and 5 minutes, steady with few breaks.

I often wonder how many people will in the coming years learn that only the able bodied will be walking and the others will need more and more help.

I have not read the drumbeats, or other posts to TOD in the last 2 weeks, my wife has been in and out of the hospital with Heart troubles.

Best wishes to all and to all a good night.

I had a cardiologist once, but it proved to be just a medication reaction. I am very sorry to hear of your troubles and hope all will be well soon.

I'm really sorry to hear about your wife's health problems, I'm sure its frightening. My second wife, my son's mother died of cancer when he was a four year old and it devastated me for years. God bless you, I'll pray for you and your family.

At the same time that was happening I was diagnosed with chronic hepatitus and given 5 years or left to live. This was in 1992, and I since had a spontaneous remission of my hepatitus, which is now diagnosed as Hep C, this was before they could diagnose it but I thought I was dying.

Beth had cancer of the cervix, which they said was curable, and I hada rapidly deteriorating liver hich the docs said was terminal. I wasn'tthere for her emotionally and thought she should be supporting me emotionally. I was not kind, we had huge arguments and got a divorce. And that's often the kind of thing that happens, the fear and tension drive everyone apart. I accused her of hypochondria because of my own self-centeredness and terror. And my behaviour towards Beth is the one thing I regret the most about any of the mistakes I've made in my life.

I learned a lot of things about myself and life. Death isn't something that scares me anymore, I think I learned to accept my own mortality, and it really informs me about whats really important-and thats behaving with love towards others. It really is unimportant about my feelings, its my behaviour that counts. And love is acting in other people's best interests not necessarily my own. The feeling though follows the action, not the other way around.

To put it very clearly, sometimes being around a sick person isn't pleasant. I get mad at them and its even justified much of the time. But what's really important is to be there for them phsicially and emotionally. Just swallow my anger and fear and do what needs to be done, no matter what they do or say. If she says "no, I can do that myself about some little task for you that would really tax her phisically like scrubbing the shower, just ignore her and do it anyway even when she's bitching you out and all you want to do is leave and go drink a coffee with a friend. Just do it, that's the important thing, not your feelings. Spend the time with her.

I know you work with homeless people, and in many ways this is the same, because loving feelings follow loving actions.

Another thing, Dan, its a duty that we all owe each other. Sickness is a part of every person's life, and major sickness with people you love is part of almost everyone's life. We would not make it through without other people's help, and we owe the same duty to others. But you are not alone.

Another thing, prayer helps. I know you are a Christian, but belief isn't important. Action is important. Whether it changes god or not doesn't matter, prayer changes me, and meditation too. And since it helps you, do it whether you feel like it or not.

Bob Ebersole

China continues its quest to secure future energy supplies

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is considering bidding up to $5 billion to for Australia-listed Oil Search, according to local media.


French foreign minister warns of war with Iran:


Personally I view the possibility as unlikely as the consequences (oil spike etc) would be crippling. But you never know.........

I'll try and re-post this in the morning.

What Global Warming Looks Like
New Report Visualizes Impact of Sea Level Rise on U.S. Coastal Cities
Architecture 2030, in a partnership with Google Maps, determined how American coastal cities would be affected by predicted sea level rise.
"Wal-Mart is investing a half billion dollars to reduce the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of their existing buildings by 20 percent over the next seven years," the report stated. "If every Wal-Mart Supercenter met this target, the CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just one month of operation each year, would negate this entire effort."

"California passed legislation to cut CO2 emissions in new cars by 25 percent and in SUVs by 18 percent, starting in 2009. If every car and SUV sold in California in 2009 met this standard, the CO2 emissions from only one medium-sized coal-fired power plant, in just eight months of operation each year, would negate this entire effort."

Goldman ups crude forecast to $85

17 September 2007 09:38 GMT

Brokerage Goldman Sachs has predicted that oil prices will surge to $85 by the end of the year, adding that the market was at risk of climbing as high as $90 due to tight supplies.

The brokerage's previous estimate for the end of 2007 was $72 a barrel, a reuters report said.

Goldman said Opec's decision last week to boost output by 500,000 barrels per day was not enough to mute bullish sentiment.

"We believe that this will be too little, too late ... and now expect inventories to draw to critical levels this winter," it said in a report.

Goldman forecast prices to rise as high as $95 by the end of next year. It estimated 2008 prices to average $85 a barrel.

Lee Raymond, former Chairman of Exxon-Mobile, may be changing his tune about PO. In a Maria Bartiromo interview he modifies his former stance by blaming PO on above ground infrastructure.