DrumBeat: September 21, 2007

The Interview: Dr. James Hansen (audio)

Scientist James Hansen has devoted his life to researching climate change.

Over the past 30 years he has repeatedly clashed with American administrations over the action needed to address the problem.

Now, as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, he still feels his message is the most important of our time.

"We have now reached a point where if we don't get on a different course very soon, the planet is in big trouble."

The war is about oil but it's not that simple

Why are former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s comments that the Iraq war is “largely about oil” raising eyebrows? Of course the war is about oil – much of our involvement in the Middle East is about oil, while the rest is about Israel and Iraq has posed a threat to both.

That said, let’s define “about oil”: It is not about seizing Iraq’s oilfields. If that was the case, we should have seized Saudi Arabia’s and Kuwait’s oilfields while we had over half a million troops there in 1991. We could have stayed in oil-rich southern Iraq as well. That was not the policy then, and it is not the policy now.

Petrologistics: OPEC oil output rises in Sept

OPEC oil output excluding Iraq and Angola is expected to rise in September, led by higher supply from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Nigeria, a consultant said on Friday.

OPEC's 10 members subject to output limits, all except Iraq and Angola, are set to pump 27 million barrels per day, up from a revised 26.9 million bpd in August, said Conrad Gerber of Petrologistics, which tracks tanker shipments.

The estimate indicates that OPEC may be relaxing adherence to supply curbs in response to a jump in oil prices, which hit a record high on Thursday. The group on Sept. 11 formally agreed to lift production from Nov. 1.

"It is creeping up," Gerber told Reuters. "There's a bit more from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Nigeria. Also, Iraq is having a good month."

To go green, live closer to work, report says

Don't want to fork out for a Prius? Can't see tanking up with ethanol? Can't afford solar panels for your roof?

Not to worry, you can still do something to fight global warming: Live closer to work.

South Africa: Fuel Supply High and dry

SA's fuel supply infrastructure is on a knife edge. Refineries around the country are working flat out but can no longer satisfy demand. Imports are growing but the ports can't handle the rising volumes indefinitely. The pipeline carrying fuel inland is running at capacity. The growing number of trucks on the roads is not safe, cost-efficient or environmentally desirable.

The Green-Car Domino Effect

In 2001, when hybrids were barely on the radar screen, Dave Vieau cofounded A123Systems in Watertown, Massachusetts, to build lithium-ion batteries, which can store and deliver more energy than traditional batteries. The first application was in power tools. "But at the end of 2002, we saw hybrids as an opportunity that could be interesting," he says. A123Systems has raised $102 million in venture capital, and about half its 800 employees are working on hybrid-related projects. "We can improve the energy density, accelerate more quickly, and all without taking up too much space." Translation: a 45-mile-per-gallon hybrid can now get as much as 125 miles per gallon. Today, about three dozen vehicles equipped with A123Systems cells are prowling the cul-de-sacs of chichi suburbs.

Barclays Capital ups oil forecast to $77 for 2008

Barclays Capital has raised its U.S. oil price forecast for 2008 to $77 a barrel, up $3.10 from its previous forecast after a rally in prices this week to record highs above $82. The bank, which also raised its 2007 forecast for U.S. crude by $2.50 to $68.80 a barrel, cited a tighter U.S. oil inventory picture and worries re-emerging over OPEC producer Iran's nuclear dispute with the West.

The Fate of Currencies Pegged to the Dollar

A simple mathematical operation done from the day these countries tied their currencies to the US dollars, will show the extent to which their national currencies were victimized by the "monster currency" over the course of 25 years and how much it has fallen along with it; to the extent that all the oil revenues that are surplus to the needs of the producing and exporting countries, has not exceeded, in buying power, what its levels were since that date, with the exception of what was achieved by increasing the quantity.

Coal delivery to Europe on the rise

Coal for delivery to Europe next year rose to a record for a fourth consecutive day as power producers sought to expand stockpiles before the winter and rail and port bottlenecks constrained supply.

Asia LNG imports expected to surge

Asia's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) may increase by 85 percent to 63 million tonnes (69 Million tons) by 2012, up from 34 million tonnes (37 million tons) in 2006, along with an increase in demand from the Chinese and Indian markets, Chinese officials told reporters during a conference held in Beijing.

Have oilsands lost their lustre?

Dennis Gartman says he's not bearish on Canada, he is just moving to the sidelines for now thanks to the possibility that Alberta will raise taxes on the oil industry.

Peak Moment: Post Carbon Cities - Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty (audio and video)

Smart municipalities are planning and preparing for energy vulnerability and climate change. Daniel Lerch, manager of the Post Carbon Cities project, has prepared a guidebook including case studies of cities large and small planning how to maintain essential services in the face of energy and climate uncertainty.

Sunny Outlook: Can Sunshine Provide All U.S. Electricity?

Large amounts of solar-thermal electric supply may become a reality if steam storage technology works—and new transmission infrastructure is built.

State regulators propose developing energy self-sufficiency by 2020

All new housing developments in California should be so energy-efficient by the year 2020 that they could produce all the power they need on their own, state regulators proposed Monday.

Iceland phasing out fossil fuels for clean energy

Once Iceland's vehicles are converted over to hydrogen, the fishing fleet will follow. It won't be easy because of current technological limits and the high cost of storing large amounts of hydrogen, but Arnason feels confident it can happen. He predicts Iceland will be fossil fuel free by 2050.

New Yorkers turning to biodiesel for heat

Mr. Seiden's building joins an increasing number of New York buildings – perhaps numbering in the thousands by this winter – that are turning to biodiesel for heating. Starting next year, the city itself has plans to use a biodiesel blend to heat city-owned buildings. This marks a potential new role for the cleaner-burning fuel, which is currently used mainly as a blend with traditional diesel to cut emissions from trucks. If it helps New York clean up its air – third worst in the nation in terms of airborne particulate matter – other cities such as Boston and Philadelphia may shift over as well, experts say.

Canada: Wind vs. Water in Giant Dam Dispute

A controversial hydroelectricity expansion project in Quebec has drawn sharp criticism from aboriginal and environmental organisations on both sides of the Canadian-U.S. border.

Hydro Quebec's main purpose for diverting the Rupert River in Northern Quebec is for hydro production in order to sell power to the northeastern United States.

Scramble for Resources Driving Sudan Conflicts

The new assessment of the country, including the troubled region of Darfur, indicates that among the root causes of decades of social strife and conflict are the rapidly eroding environmental conditions in several parts of the country.

Analysis: Oil pollution in the Caspian

The Caspian is the world’s most easily accessible major oil region yet to be fully developed. Both Western nations and former Soviet republics are rushing to exploit its vast hydrocarbon wealth.

Environmental issues are increasingly moving to the forefront of this exploitation. While nations bordering the Caspian piously insist that environmental worries top their list of concerns, cynics maintain that environmental issues are a facade for the nations to rewrite what they have come to regard as increasingly exploitative production-sharing agreements signed in the heady days following the implosion of the Soviet empire. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Drivers test paying by mile instead of gas tax

The nation is reassessing the way it pays for roads and transit. Since 1956, the Highway Trust Fund, financed by the federal tax on gasoline, has been a primary source of money for highway projects. But the National Governors Association and other groups and planners involved in road building have concluded that this method, supplemented by state gasoline taxes, no longer is adequate.

Americans are driving cars that get better mileage, and more are driving vehicles that use fuels taxed at lower rates than gasoline, such as ethanol, or making their own fuel and not being taxed. That means gas tax revenue isn't growing nearly as fast as the number of miles driven.

Hurricane Dean affects Mexican oil, natural gas production

Hurricane Dean has affected productivity in the oil fields of Mexico's state oil company (Pemex) in the Gulf of Mexico and in Campeche Sound, with a reduction of 10.8 million barrels of crude oil and 10.30 million cubic feet of natural gas.

Nepal: Black marketeering rife amid fuel crisis

Government apathy to the need to adjust prices has triggered a black market in petrol, the most scarce product these days, forcing consumers to pay as much Rs 150 per liter.

Design of New Oil Refinery Plant for Azerbaijan in Turkey Launched

Turkey is presently experiencing a shortage of oil refining facilities. According to various data, cited by the source, today, Turkey’s needs in oil reaches 32mln tons per year.

The 5 oil refineries presently operational in Turkey may produce up to 26.5mln tons of oil product, and the country has to rely on importing the rest of the 6 -7mln tons of oil products, buying oil refined products from Russian or Italian companies. According to predictions, by 2010, Turkey’s oil dependency will increase to 34mln tons and up to 43mln tons by 2012.

Police: Ammunition Costs More, Shipments Delayed

Another employee at Pruett’s shop, Barry Warren, said the increased cost of fuel is also playing a factor.

Leal said its supplier offered to give the Bellaire Police Department a discount if it collected the spent casings from rounds and sent them back, a sign of the shortage of metals like brass, copper and steel.

Siemens gets large offshore UK wind turbine deal

Siemens said in a statement the deal -- the largest ever for offshore wind turbines -- was for 140 Siemens 3.6 megawatts turbines for delivery in 2009 and 2010.

Canada: Energy CEOs call for national policy

In Alberta's oil patch, the words “national energy program” are usually uttered as a curse, a reference to the ill-fated 1980s program of oil nationalization and price controls.

But in a possible sign of changing times, several senior Canadian energy executives have used a gathering in London this week to make an unprecedented call for an increased federal role in their industry – some even daring to call for Ottawa to develop a comprehensive national energy policy.

Kurt Cobb: The Trouble with Predictions

The trouble with predictions is that they are mostly wrong. But is there a way that forecasting can be used to help us confront climate change, world peak oil production, and other critical environmental policy issues?

Two barrels of oil are used for each one found. $100 oil anyone?

The economists said - and still say - there is no shortage of oil; there is just a shortage of oil at low prices. If the price, say, doubles, the reserves will rise accordingly (though not necessarily on a 1-to-1 ratio). Higher prices means expensive reserves, like Alberta's oil sands, can be commercially produced. Higher prices finance fatter exploration budgets and better oil extraction technology, and lure more talented geologists into the business.

They were right. But maybe the time has come to stop putting so much faith in the economists. As Toronto's Pollitt & Co. said in an investment note this week: "Just because OPEC [the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] raised output quotas doesn't mean oil wells will respond."

World oil prices surge in record-breaking week

The price of London Brent oil hit another all-time high Friday on US storm concerns at the end of a record-breaking week which saw New York crude soar beyond 84 dollars per barrel.

The price of Brent North Sea crude for November delivery surged as high as 79.35 dollars per barrel, beating Thursday's record on fears a storm could threaten energy facilities in the US Gulf Coast.

Venezuela's Chavez urges Brazil to offset US ties

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged Brazil on Thursday to accelerate trade and energy integration with his country to help counterbalance U.S. interests in the region.

Shell, Saudi venture to build top U.S. refinery

Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco on Friday said they would go ahead with a $7 billion expansion of the Port Arthur, Tex. refinery that would create the largest U.S. refinery and one of the biggest worldwide.

The button to hit is 'Start,' not 'Panic'

Don't count me among the "peak oil" theorists who believe that world oil production will reach its ultimate zenith any day now. My guess is that is more likely to happen 25 or more years from now. Nevertheless, we shouldn't be wasting the precious black gold, especially because higher consumption increases air pollution and, most climate scientists believe, contributes to global warming.

So what should we do to diversify our energy supplies, pollute less, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and buy more time before "peak oil" becomes reality?

Cape Wind Commentary: Rounding up the usual suspects

When the Cape Wind proposal came to light in the fall of 2001, almost everyone in the Massachusetts political establishment reacted as though the turbines themselves were radioactive. Democrats and Republicans alike backpedaled from this ambitious scheme and dove for cover faster than you can say Senator Larry Craig.

Unimaginable technologies are coming our way

People in the field of economics often make the mistake of projecting certain prices and trends years into the future, but by assuming that the technology will not change.

Generally speaking, those types of prediction can be guaranteed to be the ones that are wrong. Technology will change to such a degree that any commodity price prediction something like five years into the future, I would suspect, is probably less than 25% probable – like this peak oil thing. I read an article in the press, which predicted a world peak in oil production in the next few years, but I am sure that it ignored all the Canadian oil sands.

Reid cites other states that are turning away from coal

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Friday advanced a new argument in his campaign to block development of conventional coal-burning power plants in Nevada, citing reports that coal-fired plants are being canceled and curtailed in seven other states.

CO2 flooding could yield 2mb/d - eventually (podcast)

For a senior oilman Gareth Roberts holds some fairly unusual views: peak oil is coming soon; crude oil is too precious to burn as transport fuel; and Big Oil should be investing massively in alternative energy.

But then Roberts is the CEO of Denbury Resources, a rare example of an oil company whose strategy is driven by an explicit recognition of peak oil.

British sea power

THE British have always looked to the sea to protect them from the earth's dangers. The ocean is a handy deterrent to foreign armies, but it is useful for other things too. In the midst of the energy crisis of the 1970s, there was much talk that marine energy would let its possessors break free of OPEC. With the arrival of North Sea oil, marine energy was forgotten. But 35 years later, with North Sea oil in decline, climate change a big issue and wind farms facing lengthy planning delays, sea power is back on the agenda.

AlgaeLink launches 2nd generation biofuel equipment at Biodiesel-Expo

AlgaeLink, a subsidiary of the Dutch firm Bioking, will unveil its photo-bioreactors for algae-for-biodiesel production at the UK Biodiesel-Expo and Biofuels Conference, giving the UK its first demonstration of a second-generation biofuel that the conference organizer says “is already getting the bosses at Boeing excited”.

Britain has plutonium for 17,000 Nagasaki bombs

Britain has amassed a stockpile of more than 100 metric tons of plutonium -- enough for 17,000 bombs of the size that flattened Japan's Nagasaki in 1945, a report from the country's top science institution said on Friday.

The toxic stockpile, which has doubled in the last decade, comes mainly from reprocessing of spent uranium fuel from the country's nuclear power plants, so to stop it growing the practice must end, the Royal Society said.

Developing nation splits may hinder climate talks

Talks on global warming in the United States next week may be complicated by differences among developing countries as their climate policy positions diverge.

Virginia Joins the Battle

A NUMBER of states have woken up to the fact that Godot himself might show up and establish residency before the federal government gets around to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. California, Florida and a group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, among others, have set very or fairly aggressive targets to reduce planet-warming pollutants. Now Virginia is starting to move cautiously in the same direction. It should be commended and encouraged to do even more.

New Zealand announces major scheme to tackle climate change

The New Zealand government said Thursday it would gradually introduce emissions trading from next year to tackle climate change.

Under the scheme, major industries will be allocated a cap on emissions of greenhouse gases. To exceed the cap, polluters will have to buy credits from others who are below their limits or from those planting forests, which absorb carbon dioxide.

Arctic ice ebbs to record level: scientists

Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest level ever this week, shattering a record set in 2005 and continuing a trend spurred by human-caused global warming, scientists said on Thursday.

"It's the biggest drop from a previous record that we've ever had and it's really quite astounding," said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.

Weather forecasting needs huge boost to tackle climate change

The UN's meteorological agency on Friday called for a multibillion dollar boost for weather forecasting, warning that about 30 percent of economic wealth was directly exposed to the impact of global warming.

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

Canada's economy is moving and shaking. The loonie reached parity with the US dollar for the first time since the Gerald Ford presidency. But don't be fooled: it's not the Canadian economy that does so great, it's the US that sinks ever further ever faster, and the rest of the world is sinking with it, including Canada.

The long-awaited report on the royalty rates for the Alberta tar sands was published, and it recommends raising the royalties significantly. Both the industry and the business-friendly media in Canada cry foul, and worse. Just a few months ago, Shell said their tar sands operation was immensely profitable, but now the tune has changed.

Some voices say raising the royalties reeks of too-big government, and comparisons with Hugo Chavez fly everywhere. But those same voices do want the government to pay for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Go here for the full report.

Caracas on the Bow River

Tim Hearn, chief executive officer of top oil sands producer Imperial Oil, said any additional royalties would harm companies already facing sky-high labour and construction costs for their projects.

“I'm not in a position today to say whether we've reached a tipping point or not because I can't tell you,” Mr. Hearn said. “But there's enough things working against us that if all this stays in place as is, there will be an effect in the industry, clearly.”

A former oil executive who was on the review panel lashed back at energy executives, saying they should concentrate on better managing their own businesses and contain cost increases rather than “whining” about higher royalties.

“I don't have any sympathies,” said Sam Spanglet, who ran Shell Canada Ltd.'s oil sands operation before retiring several years ago. “[Alberta is] still going to be very competitive. I feel very confident.”

Some Calgarians were angry, with one broker e-mailing his clients with the subject line: “Caracas on the Bow River,” comparing Alberta with Venezuela and its socialist President Hugo Chavez, who expropriated oil assets this year.

“If [the report is] enacted, investment decisions will be impacted … [the report] reads a bit like a Chavez-style manifesto,” Steve Larke, a Peters & Co. Ltd. broker, said in the e-mail.

When the going gets tough, the tough start doing goofy things. It seems as though those at the top have taken leave of their consensus. Sadly, they just Don't Know What To Do.

How could it have come to this?

RE: Canada: Energy CEOs call for national policy

Translation: the Alberta royalties report, on which the Round-Up has much more, has the oil industry in Canada turn to the federal government, which they trust, with the Tories in power, will be far more "business-friendly".

The federal government in Ottawa tried at least once before, late 1960's, to impose a national energy policy, and that time came close to causing a constitutional crisis, over Alberta's claims that it was master in its own house. Ironically, that time around Alberta was the more industry-friendly party.

The whole royalties question could well lead to another crisis in Canada, with both political power and industrial profits at stake, and down the line it will likely lead towards the judicial courts.

One thing has changed since the last time a national energy policy was on the table: NAFTA. It looks like it may be time to re-check its stipulations. US oil companies taking either Alberta or Canada's federal government to court, perhaps even a US court, is a distinct possibility under NAFTA.

Given what's at stake, starting with North American energy security, and including $150-200 billion in investments by non-Canadian companies, plus $trillions in potential profits, drawn-out court fights seem inevitable.

I want to say thanks to Robert Rapier and everyone that contributed comments to the compost thread 2 weeks ago.

I've been following some of the simple advice there and the results have been amazing. By simply spending 2 or 3 minutes each of the last 2 weekends, more has happened with my compost pile in 2 weeks than had happened in the prior 2 years. I'm embarassed to admit that I knew absolutely nothing about composting. Just threw the stuff in a pile and hoped something would eventually happen. I didn't realize how easy it was to accelerate and improve the composting process.

If you missed this article, here's the permalink:


Phineas... if you're looking for further information on proven agricultural practices give this link some time. This link was originally posted on a Drum Beat a year or two ago. It is most interesting. From the intro...

The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA) is a core electronic collection of agricultural texts published between the early nineteenth century and the middle to late twentieth century. Full-text materials cover agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal science, crops and their protection, food science,forestry, human nutrition, rural sociology, and soil science. Scholars have selected the titles in this collection for their historical importance.


http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2442#comment-177598 is the thread to the earlier reference.

Thanks, interesting link, but way over my head when it comes to gardening at this point. My only gardening experience at this point is a 6 sq foot herb garden and potted tomatoes and tomatillos. I am, however, about to move to a different house in town with a larger lot so I'll actually be able to start gardening next spring. The new property already has a garden of about 600 to 800 square feet and I hope eventually to double or triple this. There are also some berry bushes and apple trees on the property, and I know nothing about caring for those either. I did order Rodale's encyclopedia (hasn't arrived yet) but I'm wondering if you or anyone else could recommend any other good reference book for a beginner like me.


EDWARD C. SMITH wide rows, organic, raised beds, deep soil

very good all around reference book.

My advice: if you've got the Rodale book coming, save your money on anything else. It will take a beginner far down the road.

Go to http://seedsavers.org and join up. I did this a few weeks ago, then called and told 'em I was real dumb could they recommend some books. I got "Seed to Seed" because I'm interested in maintaining fertile seed year to year and "How To Grow More Vegetables".


A couple of things... the Rodale book is good. It will give you a fine start. But don't lose the Cornell link. It has a very nice search function and our ancestor ag-folks were very clever. So when you have the inevitable pest problem, or mildew in the squash, give the old ways a trial. They work.

Another step would be to accumulate local weather information. Not just frost dates, but daily highs/lows, insolation values, rainfall tables, insect hatch dates and so on. Your university extension service will have this info and they will be on the web. Also get a seed sowing calculator. They are cheap slide-rule things where you set the spring and fall frost dates and it backs into sowing/harvesting schedules. Get over to your new property and record the sun-shade situation, before the leaves fall.

An aside... don't dink around with commercial greenhouse starts. The real fun of gardening begins in January when you order seed. There's amazing stuff out there. With good soil and pest management you will eat like a king.

thanks for your advice. I'm someone with no prior experience and who has small children at home and a busy job, so reading your link and post is a little bit intimidating. But I do have a goal to produce 10% of the food my family consumes by two years from now so I'm realizing there's a lot to it. I expect a lot of failure in the first year but hope to learn and do better in year two. I live in southern ohio, 40 to 45" of rain in a typical year, good soil, zone 6. I plan to can and freeze food to attain this goal. I live right in town, just outside of downtown so having animals is not possible, at least not yet. If I get my garden up to the 1000 to 2000 sq ft range and have a couple fruit trees and a couple berry bushes, is 10% a realistic goal for a family of four?

2000 sq ft? You might well be able to hit 90-100% with that eventually, assuming you like potatoes, vegetables, fruit and beans. 10% in two years sounds eminently reasonable to me.

My little Zone 9 or 10 porch, well, that likely won't hit 10% unless I work really hard at it. This summer I managed a whole two radishes, so I've a long way to go.

Try "Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture"
by Toby Hemenway

Also consider "The One Straw Revolution"
by Masanobu Fukuoka

If you are in a cold temperate climate (North America, especially the Northeast US and Southeast Canada), ...

then check out "Edible Forest Gardens"
by Dave Jacke

SCT's recommendation on Seed Savers is excellent because it will allow you to continue your garden from your own seed. You have to use open-pollinated or what are called heirloom type seeds (most commercial seeds are hybrids but you can't save their seeds because they won't produce true to whatever the hybrid was). Saving seed from your garden helps assure you of having a garden the next year.

I would also recommend The Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. He talks about ways to extend the harvest, to do succession plantings, mulches, etc. He also talks about plants to put in in colder weather (plants you won't find at the grocery and which will open a new eating experience). The book is also based on organic principles. Good luck, we're all learning as we go.

Fedco Seeds in Maine is a wonderful resource.

They've got organic, open pollinated, heirloom seeds of all kinds. www.fedcoseeds.com

I get all my seeds from them. Also seed potatoes, fruit trees, etc.

I just can't recommend them enough if you're in the northeast.

And yes, every year is a learning experience...

I went to the library and read some books about composting after that TOD story. "Let It Rot" turned out to be a very good and simple book on composting.

It has occurred to me that the fed rate cut may end up doing what the politicians and American people have been unwilling to do. Namely increase the price of oil outside the context of peak oil and the export land concept, thereby encouraging conservation.

By causing inflation, devaluing the dollar and encouraging the use of the Euro as a reserve currency, the price of oil increases. Yet the public will remain oblivious to the underling causes. I don't think that was their intent, but Greenspan's recent comments about Iraq and oil, indicate they are at least thinking about oil.

I've always found this kind of interlaced complexity fascinating.

(This may have been covered in previous drumbeats, if so just ignore, but the light bulb above my head just came on.)

Don't forget another little side-effect: profits for US multinationals go up as fast as the dollar goes down.

They would also be going up for me (hopefully). I moved 40% of my 401K into a European/Asia index fund yesterday.

It's not "if," but when Americans are going to be forced to reduce their consumption, especially energy consumption.

As the New York Times noted last year, in general most Americans will reduce their gasoline consumption when they are physically incapable of buying the stuff.

For anyone using heating oil, I would advise you to have some kind of back-up system, at least a wood stove, with a wood pile in the backyard. Apparently, US heating oil inventories are 25% below their five year range.

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand:

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.

WT - your comments on when, not if, are straight on.

I'm hoping, though, that we find a better solution than all starting to burn wood - the deforestation and CO2 release from a conversion to wood in North America and Europe would be devastating ecologically. (Not to mention what a mess this would cause for the Japanese who have already killed all their rivers.)

Edit: corrected punctuation

What role could geothermal heat pumps play? I understand they can leverage 1BTU of electricity into 3-4 BTU of heat by moving it out of the ground and upgrading for home use. This way, the grid can be used as a practical and affordable alternative (with regard to electricity costs) for heating and cooling. All the better if this electricity comes from hydro, nuclear, or wind...

Geothermal is expensive, with the 20k, superinsulate and heat your house when you make toast in the morning.

As the New York Times noted last year, in general most Americans will reduce their gasoline consumption when they are physically incapable of buying the stuff.

Glad to hear you say it WT.
A gas tax won't do squat to reduce consumption.

The EIA Monthly Energy Review is Up and updated. Let's see what changed all the way to atleast 1997 from the IPM.

And in case you missed this:
Alan Greenspan and Jon Stewart on free markets versus central banking

Stewart: So we’re not a free market then.
Greenspan: No. No.
Stewart: There’s a visible – there’s a benevolent hand that touches us.
Greenspan: Absolutely. You’re quite correct. To the extent that there is a central bank governing the amount of money in the system, that is not a free market. Most people call it regulation.

Speaking of economists...

I was in *NYC a while ago visiting friends and was at the famous bagle restaurant of Albert Greenspan(the maestro’s nephew) on 34th and Broadway and I was sitting over a bagle with cream cheese minding my own business when Arthur Laffer came in to have a cup of coffee and sit down at the next table with a friend of his. Anyway Laffer drew that famous curve which bears his name on the napkin many years ago that made him rich and famous and got him on all the talk shows. I hate all those eggheads who think they know something but never got their fingers dirty and then invent some BS and become God or something and work for the government as an advisor.

Anyway, I overheard him say “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”. Now I was determined to show him up so when I got back home I thought a lot about what he head said and being a hobby cook and mechanic with lots of tools and skills I got a vice and put an egg in it very carefully and got a mini drill and carefully made a hole in the top of the egg, then I got a suction pump and put a straw at the end and stuck this into the egg and sucked everything out and made one mean omelette with everything on it you can think of. This all made me think of my true hero Alfred P. Hubble whose APHL(Alfred P. Hubble Linealization) is the basis of our understanding of civilization and its demise in terms of PO. This idea is also just a line on a piece of paper of course like Laffer’s curve, but Hubble, after many years of hard academic work in the field of petroleum geology had a stroke of sudden genius which he then developed further and presented some 50 years ago today to hostile colleague geologists in the knowledge he would be reviled and rejected for speaking truth to power long before its time had come. Of course he was vindicated in the end but died alone and penniless. The story is not without some pathos.

Having taken econ 101 in college some 20 years ago and having worshipped John Maynard Friedman and Milton Keynes simultaneously (an act of cognitive dissonance if there ever was one) I appreciated most of all AP Hubbles contribution to the dismal science. He said in effect “Money Ain’t Growth”(MAG) and I appreciate that more than the fact that we are all about to die off as we have become detritivores and have no more detritus left to consume. The mark of a true genius however is to see connections outside of his field of specialty and to be brave enough to speak against the tide of popular opinion. I am glad I was able to see how cooking and handwork obsession could be combined with a detestation of the dismal science to force a cross fertilization act of genius in my brain cells to enable my omelette without a broken egg. Maybe some of Hubble’s genius has rubbed off on me. I certainly hope it has not all been in vain.

*NYC=New York City

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

Award for the most charmingly esoteric post of the week.
You are definitely in the "merry band of doomsters."
(re: $100 Oil Anyone? article above)

There is absolutely nothing in Laffer's hypothesis (it really can't yet be considered to be a true theory) to suggest that government revenues can be maximized with marginal tax rates of less than 50%. The most that can be said is that very high rates (i.e. >50%) might be counterproductive.

Yet, Reagan and his right-wing camp followers seized on Laffer's hypothesis as a justification for lowering US marginal tax rates far below 50% -- much too low, in retrospect. This error has continued all the way up to the present day, with the result that (except for a few brief years during the Clinton administration), the US has incurred massive deficits, a larger national debt, an increasingly worthless currency, and an increasingly hollow and vulnerable economy. Results, by the way, that should all have been totally predictable by the Laffer curve itself.

I doubt that Laffer is blameless in all of this. He seems to have actively promoted this mis-application of his hypothesis.

The Laffer curve is based on two simple observations. First, a tax rate of 0% will yield $0 Tax revenue. The second observation is that a tax rate of 100%, there being no incentive to work, will also yield $0 in tax revenue.
As we increase the tax rate from 0%, tax revenues grow, peak at some point, and then decline back to $0 as you approach the 100% tax. The shape of the curve, and the peak, is of course debatable, but I think the concept itself is sound.
Here's what it looks like graphically
The current national debt, currently 9 Trillion, in my opinion is not a tax policy problem, it is a spending problem(wars, bridges to nowhere ect...). Misdiagnosing the problem as the tax rate leads to the wrong medicine.

G S-

You have transposed the surnames of your economist heros.

Milton Keynes happens to be the name of a (grotty) new town
in the UK which was designed with the motorist in mind, and
is known for its vast number of roundabouts (traffic circles
in US speak).

James Kunstler would not approve; and for what it is worth
neither do I.

His Monday diatribes are invariably well worth reading, and
the comments in his most recent offering concerning the
sainted Alan Greenspan are both highly amusing and right on
the mark.

Did I misread? I thought that was a deliberate change, a comment to imply the cognitive dissonance he spoke of...
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Thanks I'll jhave to read Kunstler as always.

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

Look at it this way. You still had to suck the egg dry to make the omelet.

I'm scared at what Mr. Laffer thinks is the "egg" that he wants broken. Our current standard of living?

Maybe it was not clear to some that none of this ever happened and I was just being satirical.

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

Warren Buffett increases Railroad Holdings

On Wednesday, federal antitrust regulators said they cleared Berkshire to increase its stake in Burlington Northern to 25 percent, from 15 percent.

Berkshire's interest in railroads extends beyond Burlington Northern. The Omaha-based company revealed in May that it owned 10.5 million shares of Union Pacific Corp. and nearly 6.4 million shares of Norfolk Southern Corp


Best Hopes or Adequate Capital for Railroad Expansion & Electrification,



Have you approached Mr. Buffett about your plan? While I don't know him personally I did live about six blocks from him in Omaha, and coincidentally that put us across the street from one of the daughters of the man who presided over much of Union Pacific's growth in the last century. Today I am a nobody but once upon a time I had the the misfortune to marry well.

If you want me to stir that pot for you oilmanbob has my contact info ...


Yes, please do.

Step one look at this map.


They missed the Dallas-Houston electrification proposed by KATY railroad but otherwise complete AFAIK.

Electrification increases track capacity by about 15% by allowing faster acceleration and deceleration. Swiss Federal Railroads is talking about running 300 trains/day (widely varying speeds, 60 to 240 kph) over double electrified tracks with sidings.

Electric utilities are interested in selling "power at the wire" so they get another transmission corridor.

I am going to spend next week in DC working on my scenario on the Millennium Institute model of US energy flows and see just how big a change they make. This might also interest Mr. Buffett.


Best Hopes,


Quicktime Movie below:


The apparent five-day 2007 minimum was 4.13 million square kilometers (1.59 million square miles), compared to 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) in 2005.

The long-term average minimum, based on averaging data from 1979 to 2000, is 6.74 million square kilometers (2.60 million square miles) and occurs on September 12. Compared to this average, five-day mean ice extent for September 16, 2007, was lower by 2.61 million square kilometers (one million square miles), an area approximately equal to the size of Alaska and Texas combined, or the size of ten United Kingdoms.

The minimum for 2007 shatters the previous five-day minimum set on September 20–21, 2005, by 1.19 million square kilometers (460,000 square miles), roughly the size of Texas and California combined, or nearly five United Kingdoms.

While the square area is interesting for albedo (reflectivity) the total volume is what has me concerned. During the 1950s the average thickness was 3m, then I recall an article from a decade ago indicating it had dropped to 2m, and a recent link here now indicates 1m average thickness.

Ice in an ocean with waves doesn't simply melt away in a tidy fashion, instead it gets thinner and thinner, then wave action breaks it up, dramatically reducing albedo as the underlying water is exposed. The large scale disintegration this year wasn't due to melting exactly, it was due to melting below a minimum thickness after which waves did the rest.

So we've lost 66% of thickness ... and 30% of area. That indicates to me that this year's sea ice minimum is 22% of what it was a generation ago. We aren't going to have to wait until 2100 for a summer ice free arctic. We aren't even going to wait until 2030. We might very well see it happen by 2010 at this rate.

The ice pack got thinner and thinner and we hardly noticed, as a species, but when large areas of it are gone we won't be able to ignore it any longer. Flooding in the U.K. this summer? Check? Crazy snowfall winter last year in the Pacific Northwest? Check. Crazy oil exploration by arctic bordering nations who may know things not yet published due to nuclear submarine exploration beneath the pack? Check, check, check, check, and check.

They aren't up their hustling to protect claims that will come available in thirty years ... I get the feeling this is a much more immediate sort of thing.

Animated image of the age of arctic sea ice 1983-2007

This shows that in the last 20 years, the average age (and hence thickness)
of the ice has fallen sharply. Only a small area north of greenland is now 'old' ice. I think we will see the north pole itself free of ice within 2 years. It
might take another ten before all the 'old' ice is gone. After that we will be
in a period where all the winter ice will be 'new' ice less than a year old.

It is always amusing to read the articles about "record" low sea ice levels in the northwest passage area. Often they don't even mention what the time frame is for the "record" ... probably because when they do mention it, we find out that they are only considering the past 30 years. And they don't mention the reports of low arctic ice in the 1920s, or the fact that the NW passage has been navigated by ship several times starting in 1905. A common theme in climate alarmism is the lack of historical perspective, and trying to sell something that is historically common as a unique historic event.

Red: Just a guess, but can I assume you think George Bush has done a "great" job the last 7 years, and the US economy is on sound footing?


Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Thanks for emphasizing my point Brian.
An absolutely perfect climate alarmist response !

Red: You know the guy is in trouble when his strongest supporters are ashamed to admit it (even on an anonymous blog).

And really I should to apologize to the climate alarmists ... at least most of them have the knowledge and intellectual ability to discuss the subject at hand.

Having to change the subject to Bush is a sure sign of a true mental vacuum with respect to the topic under discussion.

Brian, you get the day's award for the most pathetic and juvenile fouling of the usually interesting TOD waters.

Red: Whatever. I am not sure why obtuse denial of climate change appears to only be promoted by Bush/Cheney supporters-maybe you know the answer.

Yeah yeah whatever. Look, this is not a matter of "sailing through the artic". There were some years where that wasn't possible, but it has been mostly. This is not the point. The point is, the ice is going back, fast. Very fast. In the artic and in the antartic. And this is not a matter of "overwhelming evidence", it is a matter of facts. Even Bush acknowledges this: "Yeah, the globe is warming...", but everyone denies this is man made.

Forget it. The evidences are all there. If you wish to ignore them, please be my guest. We're in a free world. But I advise you to read some more, fact-check, see the trends. Every forecast was taken as doomish, and yet, they are generally being surpassed by a lot. How much further until you reckognise the big elephant in the room?

Perhaps you need a new pair of glasses.

Yet you didn't answer the question. Would you just happen to be a supporter of Bush?

Maybe BrianT's point is that conservatives search for any historical analogy to defend their empire of greed on the climate data front, but denounce me if I compare Bush's economic incompetence to Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Or his war to Vietnam. Or 9/11 to the burning of the Reichstag. Or our colossal debts to the meltdown of the Christian-fanatic Spanish Empire. Or our energy consumption to the collapses discussed by Jared Diamond. I just want to know which of these you will allow me to discuss without vicious ridicule.


Why does human caused global warming only affect Arctic ice and not ice in Antarctica? Except for one penninsula, the ice sheet in Antarctica is growing impressively. And, Antarctica is several times bigger than the Arctic.

Maybe its because of something like undersea volcanoes.

Maybe its because of something like undersea volcanoes.

Holy denialism, ice berg man!

Maybe its because all of the hot air from climate change deniers is somehow magically being transported to a secret duct under the north pole so it can melt the ice allowing us to get at all of the oil up there!

Mine has more hyperbole than yours, but both are nonsense. If there were the slightest hint of undersea volcanoes we'd be seeing seismic evidence globally and the area would be swarming with scientists taking seawater samples to determine what was happening. This would all be causing a huge stir just like the small amount of volcanic activity below the west Antarctic ice sheet did a few years back. We aren't, they aren't, and it isn't happening.

These sorts of things are easily checked at RealClimate.org - the authoritative site for climate change information. I suppose I could have gently corrected this misconception but I'm feeling all trollish after reading here yesterday ...


If there were the slightest hint, huh, and it isn't being researched huh, and there is no evidence of increasing volcanic activity above land ( which is only has 20 -25 percent) of the known activity. Tectonic activity is not present now huh at a rate that is above average huh.

Well I disagree.


click on polar research (left hand panel), ice (subject matter on the page), and learn.

Then check out all the new underwater volcano's found recently afer you learn at Woodshole.

Be sure and get the article where they put down a robot on ridge, and oops, the activity was much stronger there (not Gakkel) and it melted the robot to the outflow croppings of the ridge. Luckily they had a robot with enough power and they came back and tore it out so they could get the data. They are looking forward to it, since they didn't expect the extreme heat so far from the source.

That Woodshole is also at the southern pole doing research on the "activity" there and how it could be part of the ice melt. Plus the Research ship returning to GAKKEL RIDGE after there amazing encounter in 2001. Google that tipper. EDucate yourself like you claim others should do.

Then you can explain why the temperature at depths that are so deep, sunlight can not effect them. That the temperature has been constant at these depths since the record keeping began during WII. It shouldn't warm, at least from "above ground sources", and that starting in the mid nineties the temperature rose slightly. However, it should not rise at all. Yet it has and it appears to rise currently and the rate increase is larger.

Now this information is available at Woodshole, and several scientific journals that are behind firewalls have the data currently about the rising deep ocean sea temps. Though a google could lead you to perhaps a cached copy.

Though the data is there. First are the navy records from submarines, from all services.

Then when the rise was detected (suspected) a Japanese research leader too a submarine ride and did the research and he came back with data that supported the deep ocean rise.

Your claim about underwater volcanic activity, and its not happening, you seem to know where these ridges and volcano's are located. See that amazes me, you know, since know one else has charts of all underwater volcano's and deep ocean ridges. Perhaps you would like to share your sources.

Its the research at the South Pole and the discovery of some large vents there that has got them going there.

No signs of it and no one is doing it.

you are wrong.

"If there were the slightest hint, huh, and it isn't being researched huh, and there is no evidence of increasing volcanic activity above land ( which is only has 20 -25 percent) of the known activity. Tectonic activity is not present now huh at a rate that is above average huh."

Incoherent rant. Not actionable.

"Well I disagree.
click on polar research (left hand panel), ice (subject matter on the page), and learn."

Did that. And this tells us? Regarding the GAKKEL RIDGE - the only site mentioned and relevant under ICE, in the Artic - They don't know what the hell is going on down there. Not the least of which is the lack of anything about increasing volcanic activity, or volcanic activity for that matter.

And the intro section on ICE you steer us to states:

Polar ice may be starting to feel the effects of global warming. Glaciers surging from land into the sea could raise sea levels substantially, and, along with melting sea ice, threaten to add large amounts of fresh water to the oceans. This could alter the density of seawater, disrupt ocean circulation, and cause regional and global climate changes. Disappearing ice could amplify global warming even further, because white ice surfaces reflect most incoming solar radiation to space, while darker ocean and land surfaces absorb it.

Hmmm....sorta sounds like where SCT and CZ were coming from.

"Then check out all the new underwater volcano's found recently afer you learn at Woodshole."

Did that. At Woods Hole website, nothing come up on underwater+volcanos at either pole. Perhaps a link since you seem to have found something, gaging your level of excitement.

"Be sure and get the article where they put down a robot on ridge, and oops, the activity was much stronger there (not Gakkel) and it melted the robot to the outflow croppings of the ridge. Luckily they had a robot with enough power and they came back and tore it out so they could get the data. They are looking forward to it, since they didn't expect the extreme heat so far from the source."

Where am I to be sure and get this article? No link, no response. Mamma din't raise no fools.

"That Woodshole is also at the southern pole doing research on the "activity" there and how it could be part of the ice melt. Plus the Research ship returning to GAKKEL RIDGE after there (sic) amazing encounter in 2001. Google that tipper. EDucate yourself like you claim others should do."

Ah,you're now conflating antartic and artic stories about the "activity". Good to have more in your head than you can express in words. I cannot find what you're refering to, but I'm getting more impressed.

"Then you can explain why the temperature at depths that are so deep, sunlight can not effect them. That the temperature has been constant at these depths since the record keeping began during WII. It shouldn't warm, at least from "above ground sources", and that starting in the mid nineties the temperature rose slightly. However, it should not rise at all. Yet it has and it appears to rise currently and the rate increase is larger."

Now this I could bite on if I only knew the source. But argue away, I blush at discussions of heat sources, sinks, and transfer.

"Now this information is available at Woodshole, and several scientific journals that are behind firewalls have the data currently about the rising deep ocean sea temps. Though a google could lead you to perhaps a cached copy."

Well if it is I couldn't find it.(I am however pretty lazy). And "and several scientific journals that are behind firewalls", love it. I've got $ to burn and love to support the journals; just give me a link so I can see what the heck you're talking about, then we can talk about an objective reality.

"Though the data is there. First are the navy records from submarines, from all services. (hee hee hee)

Then................. ..

you are wrong."

Another day, another obscurantism.

*Above tediously provided as a service to those without the time to call PX on his ramblings. SCT - take note - your homework's no better.*

* Woods Hole is one of the finest marine institutes; too bad it's name can be so easily hijacked.*

Delightful non sequitur, PrisonerX.

There are volcanic vents all over all of the oceans and they support all sorts of mysterious life - sponges, giant clams, blind lobsters, and so forth. Discover and Scientific American manage a couple of articles a year each on these things and I find them fascinating.

A hundred yard wide warm patch with a very hot volcanic vent at the middle is fascinating to geologists and biologists but this is of no interest to climatologists. A small warm patch is just that, small. Climatologists deal with system wide conditions, not spot conditions like this sort of thing.

I dread the effect this will have, but there was some volcanism at play beneath a portion of the Antarctic ice sheet a few years back, complete with dramatic pictures of a melt hole and articles worrying over the acceleration of the ice in the area due to meltwater lubricating the underside of the sheet. This caused a stir fourteen years ago but I've not heard much on it since then. You are now free to make vague, expansive references to this to support your shaky positions on various issues.


In addition to the comments by john macklin and SCT, I would like to add the following.

PrisonerX wrote:

Then you can explain why the temperature at depths that are so deep, sunlight can not effect them. That the temperature has been constant at these depths since the record keeping began during WII. It shouldn't warm, at least from "above ground sources", and that starting in the mid nineties the temperature rose slightly. However, it should not rise at all. Yet it has and it appears to rise currently and the rate increase is larger.

There is a well known current from the Sub Polar Gyre of the North Atlantic which flows into the Arctic Ocean. Since the water from the North Atlantic is saltier than the surface water of the Arctic, the current dives down below the surface layer to a depth of about 500 meters.

As the yearly cycle in sea-ice has trended toward ever smaller extent at the end of the melt season, the yearly change in area has increased. When the surface water freezes again to form sea-ice, the salt from the water is rejected as high density brine, which sinks. That process eventually would result in greater flow out of the Fram Strait along the bottom and that water would be subsequently replaced by an increase in the inflow from the North Atlantic. The water form the North Atlantic is warmer than the surface layer, thus more inflowing warm water tends to increase the melting of the sea-ice, resulting in a positive feedback. Also, there's an inflow of surface water thru the Bering Strait, which also may be increasing in strength.

Look at the WHOI site again, especially the new article about the THC. You may be interested in the figure showing the circulation into the Arctic from the North Atlantic, which is included in the article.

Bob Dickson and Stephen Dye, "Interrogating the 'Great Ocean Conveyor", Oceanus Magazine


E. Swanson

Growing impressively?  You are either a victim of disinformation or a liar.  The GRACE satellite experiment measured substantial ice loss across the whole of Antarctica; this is OLD news, so you have no excuse.

Additionally, ice melts are now occurring deep within the Antarctic continent, something that was not yet supposed to occur for decades under even the worst models (meaning the models are wrong by being way too optimistic).

It appears that jbunt may wish to study the literature of the topic more carefully. It also appears that RedRiver might wish to do the same.

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

WAIT, hold the presses. All the data, all the brain power, and all the computing came up a SOLID Global warming theory. And when this theory claimed such and such, it was GOSPEL for the masses.

YET< the theory and all the solid data WERE WRONG, but wait, its not the data we got wrong, its not our model thats wrong, its, well, well, we can fix it. See, its easy, we just change the model, and find some new data, and twist and turn, and shake it a bit, and VOI*LA. The model fits and guess what, it means we are DOOOOMED because its happening faster than we though, because we had solid models that were wrong, but yet correct, and we just solved it by by by, what is it, you used what new data, and how did you twist your theory to make it fit GreyZone,

Wow its easy, now, science by computer modelling. Just admit you were wrong and change the model and data to fit the conclusion that you were totally incorrect on.


All of the trendlines of which I am aware from the models are moving in the correct direction, PrisonerX. It is just the slopes of those lines that are in error. That indicates that the core model is correct and that there are simply coefficients of variables that need adjusted to reach the correct state. I would consider throwing out the models if they were not following the trendlines in direction consistently but they are. That IS science - proposing a hypothesis, testing it, then either proving it or modifying it to fit the actual data.

Further, climate scientists are not doing science by computer modeling. If you believe that, you are so sadly misinformed that one would have to conclude that your ignorance is willful. Instead, they are observing data and building models from that data, which again fits the basic scientific method - observe, propose falsifiable hypothesis, test, revise or replace hypothesis. Thus far there has not been sufficient other data to warrant replacing the original hypothesis. Just because YOU want it to be replaced does not mean that it should. Now go whine in your corner with Alex Jones while you commune with the aliens in Area-51.

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

Perhaps it would have been nice to include a photograph that showed the area of this "ice melt". If so it would have showed how much surface area it includes, and where it is located.

Perhaps it didn't help sell your case. Perhaps because the area they are talking about is very small and isolated. In fact they don;'t know WHY it melted. You say its an above ground source. Perhaps, but there is LAND under this ice and its perhaps mountains, and perhaps there is a volcano somewhere under that area.

Of course you can be as narrow minded as you choose GreyZone in your research options. Though wasn't it Carl Sagan that said absolutes were BS when the truth was not know.

Can you provide the data to back up that the area you are referring to was caused by above ground factors. Can you disprove it was below ground.

Looking forward to your links and data to prove your point.

Please be quiet.

I am a neophyte on the global warming deal.

But I understand heat capacity and it seems that air doesn't have sufficient heat capacity to melt ice in relationship to water.

Such that, what goes on in the water with convection currents etc has much more impact on ice melt. Could someone please educate me without emotion about the science??

Also, have I not heard that the Ice in Greenland is thickening on the inward part causing pressure that is driving the outward part flux?? And is it not true that the Antartic ice is increasing?


FF: It is true that the Anartic ice is thickening, while the Arctic ice is shrinking. I can see that this troubles you, as you feel that the entire planet should warm symmetrically.

I suspect a negative feedback. More heat, more evaporation, more precipitation, more snow accumulates. It takes quite a while for snow to travel from central Antarctica (a desert BTW) to the coast.

There will be both positive and negative feedback loops, not just positive (unless we are VERY unlucky).


Perhaps in some parts of the world.

Randall Parker thinks that more evaporation will lead to wetter conditions.  What he doesn't yet realize is that more water-holding capability also means more evaporation from land, and since land heats up faster than the oceans it seems more likely to lead to widespread drought.

If Co2 concentration is the cause, then if not symmetric, then explained by a concentration gradient, no??

Not so interested in psychoanalysis as physical chemistry.

This carbon sequestration deal (and I know alot about that) is not going to be a walk in the park. Either environmentally or technically.


It's a temperature gradient (warm in tropics, cold at poles), not a concentration gradient. See comment below.

Is antarctic climate changing

Climate myths: Antarctica is getting cooler, not warmer, disproving global warming

Go to the NSIDC site in early october. They have promised to summarize and reason why it has been so strong this year. Perhaps some literature could be recommended by one of the researchers if somebody is willing to e-mail one of them at NSIDC.

We have a thread going on this topic over at PO.com and on page 14 near the bottom I have spent some time getting links from various places on Greenland.


“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

"The global warming deal" is happening now. It's the real deal. If you care, you need to educated yourself: www.realclimate.org

I believe all your generalizations are wrong and/or so mal-formed as to be meaningless. In particular, you will find that 1) arctic water (as well as air) is raising in temp., 2) Antarctic ice is shrinking, 3) Greenland edges are melting from warmer temps, most definitely not getting pushed into the sea from buildup in center area.

Good idea,

lots of good articles and discussion threads afterwards:


“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

thanks for the link.

Some good stuff there.


Someone mentioned RealClimate and if you have the fortitude to wade through it that is pretty much the source for climate information - nothing but detailed discussion of peer reviewed science in the area.

The Greenland Ice is thickening - Yes, this is true. The waters are warmer around the island, more water vapor is in the air, and thusly more snow is falling on the ice sheet, which increases its thickness. This is a denier favorite and it means not at all what they wish. The overall volume of the Greenland cap is decreasing dramatically and the rate of decrease is on the rise. A little more snow in the middle isn't going to save that structure from global warming.

Antarctic ice is perhaps increasing in some areas, again a denier favorite - just pick the one place where increase water vapor means a little more ice and presto global warming doubt. Its more nonsense like the Greenland cap thickening stuff.

You can hear all of this (I am told) on Rush Limbaugh's show and other places where reality is defined by a stream of often repeated lies ...


now I know how very very much real scientists and researchers value the peer review process. Crucial to acceptance.

So, do you have things that are peer reviewed, if so what is that process.

Do people that are in the group that disagree with you get to offer their opinion and try to find fault with your theory. Seems to me that is what peer review is, and is all about. Every qualified person gets to comment.

YET, this is not the case for Peer reviewed climate change papers that you and many others refer to. Why do I say this. I say this because many have spoken out and said that the "peer review" process was now a "closed" group and if you didn't believe in the man made theory, your challenge was not valid. Only those that believe in the theory can offer comment.

Yea thats good science you are pointing too, huh.

One becomes a "peer" by offering up papers for review. If what one says is reviewed, published, found to have followed good methodology, drawn sensible conclusions, etc, then one is on the way to joining the community of peers.

Complaints that the community who does this is somehow closed are pure denialist nonsense - each and every year new grad students enter the field and they must publish. Those who are complaining in the mode you describe are most likely corporate funded hacks who would like to declare themselves experts because someone is paying them to muddy the waters, and then they get to make distracting nonsense statements. Another equally silly alternative is the flat earth biblical literalist crowd who want the BLM to state the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's Flood and all sorts of other silliness. There is no place in the scientific process for such superstitious nonsense.

The reputation economics of the peer reviewed science environment easily permits entry for new talent and totally rejects any spin. This is more ponderous than the uprating/troll rating stuff that happens at DailyKos but the results are remarkably similar.

So, is this clear? George Taylor, the famous idiot from Oregon, is not an authority on climate because he is known for saying stupid stuff in front of Congress rather than having published rigorous papers drawing repeatable conclusions. Michael Crichton, another sort of idiot, is not an authority on climate because he publishes science fiction and then uses this as the basis for saying stupid stuff in front of Congress.

On the other hand and much to the dismay of denialist nonsense artists everywhere, Gavin Schmidt and the crew over at RealClimate are the real deal.


many have spoken out and said that the "peer review" process was now a "closed" group

Why don't you tell me exactly who these many are and we'll ask Gavin to comment on their credentials?


Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

About Greenland and Antarctica: Look at vapor pressure. The saturation vapor pressure at 0C is 3.5 g water vapor/kg air, at 10C it's 7 g/kg, at 20 C it's 14 g/kg -- it ~doubles every 10C or so. Warm air can hold a LOT more water than cold air.

Increase temperature globally and you get more evaporation (relative humidity, which is the ratio of how much water vapor is in the air compared to how much it can hold, is globally ~conserved). Move an air mass with more water vapor where it's cold (like Antarctica, or the middle of the Greenland ice sheet) and you will get more precipitation. So regional ice sheets will grow under a global increase in temperature. At least until temperatures get high enough to counteract that -- and the first sign of that will be increased melting at the edges even as the middle may still be increasing.

The reason the melting in the Arctic is so strong is the ice-albedo feedback. Right now the Arctic is warming rapidly while E. Antarctica is thickening because it is so much colder and there is so much more ice in Antarctica. If you look at long term (200 yr) projections for Antarctica, you will see rapid warming there as well, unless global temperature stops increasing. Those are long term predictions -- but those are the same models which are currently underpredicting the rate and extent of Arctic melt.

Best short popularized science of global waring round up you can read about the issue are:

Climate change: A guide for the perplexed

RealClimate introduction

Climate Change Myths

Anti-global heating claims - a reasonably thorough debunking

You will find that 99.99% of the contrarian arguments are the same crap recycled all over again and that 100% of them have been refuted in MULTIPLE peer-reviewed journal articles from very highly ranked scientific publications (Nature or Science among the few).

You will also find using www.sourcewatch.org that for better or worse, the most persistent climate change / global warming deniers have a very strong link to big energy companies, very conservative ultra-right-wing US think tanks and that many of them have no publications from the field of climatology or related sciences and several have even publicly forged their credentials.

There really isn't that much of the debate about GW outside US and has not been for several years.

Most of the discussion centers on improving the science scientifically (always improving) and politically thinking what should be done.

Fractional --

You are quite right that at first blush the underlying water temperature should be more relevant to ice melt than the air temperature above, but:

a) Warmer air allows the development of wet ice at the ice surface, from microscopic scale up to large meltponds, and this ice has a tremendously lower albedo than dry ice (not solid CO2, but dry water ice :). The energy transfer into the surface from the incident sun then drives this process further, and pooled melt on the surface speeds the transition to a state where wave action can break the pack up. This leads to...

b) A large amount of the water warming occuring is due to solar heating of ice-free areas. The heat transfer involved in this heating is insignifact to the heat flux through deep water circulation, but it heats just a thin layer at the surface, which happens to be where the ice is as well.

c) This has all been magnified by an unusually persistant high pressure system over the area north of siberia this year, which has lead to unusually cloud-free skies. At least part of the cause of this high pressure system is the unusual warmth and lack of snow cover over Siberia, which is difficult to attribute to ocean circulatory changes, Siberia being one of the most continentally dominated weather regions in the world.

So, I would have to agree that _this year's_ exceptional melting can be attributed more to a short-term climatic fluctuation rather than long-term warming, BUT the susceptability of the ice pack to this fluctuation is very likely due to long-term warming. The problem is dipping as deeply into the old ice and warming the arctic as much as we have this year will produce further susceptability to warm, clear spells in the future, and the trend is likely self reinforcing at this point.

This has dramatic consequences for Greenland -- one reason the central ice shield in Greenland is relatively immune to melting is its altitude of ~3000meters. The adiabatic lapse rate of dry air is about 10C per thousand meters, and when the Artic is ice covered, the air hitting the western coast of Greenland tends to be very dry, traversing as it has ice rather than water. If that same air is traversing warm ocean before encountering Greenland, however, its absolute humidity is going to be much higher, which will result in less of a temperature drop as the air rises to the top of the ice shield (latent heat of fusion of the water heats the air as it attempts to cool). This will, of course, mean greater precipitation over Greenland, but if that precipitation is warm snow (or even rain!) it will do little to slow summer melt.

One big potential negative feedback on this whole process will occur if for some reason the open water north of Siberia dramatically enhances snowpack in Siberia next year... this would tend to reverse much of the weather pattern observed this year that lead to the warm, clear air over the western Arctic.

So you view this year's pack ice loss as an anomaly, given one more likely to re-occur? This as opposed to another gradual step, or even a tipping point, to ice-free conditions?

Could the high pressure system at work this year be part of a gradual step scenario?

I know it is coincidence, but the first rains in the intermountain northwest arrived yesterday with start of ice reforming in the Arctic. It has been historically dry and rainless.

Well -- I view this as the confluence of an short-term anomaly _and_ a long-term trend... the long term trend alone can't properly account for the step relative to last year, but the effect, both this year and going forward, of the weird weather this year is greatly magnified by the cumulative effect of the long-term warming.

That said, the magnitude of this year's event _may_ be sufficient that it serves as a sort of tipping point; the questions that need to be answered quantitatively to address that question involve how much of the abnormal melt this year was of multi-year ice, how the surface warming of the ocean will affect the rate of sea ice formation this winter, and how the ice-free summer couples to next year's weather patterns and weather there is positive or negative feedback in that coupling.

I generally agree with your points, BostonGeologist. My views on this:

1. This year's event is clearly an anomaly, compared with prior years. But that's the definition of an anomaly, isn't it? A deviation from the common rule? It won't be an anomaly if we have several more years like it. Of course there can't be too many more years like this one before the arctic is ice free anyway for the summer.

2. In my opinion, this will mark a tipping point and successive years will likely not return to the 100,000 km2 per year ice loss. I don't expect 2008 to be another million but it would not surprise me at all for 2008 to be from 200K to 500K. In other words, we just ratcheted up a serious level in effects as the positive feedback loops kick in.

My comment #2 above is currently "gut feel" but the trend since the 1970s has clearly been worsening. It should not at all be surprising if it has jumped upwards yet again, as all of our models have been consistently too optimistic and failed to predict any of these sorts of events in the time frames in which they have occurred.

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

Please come back, when you have several peer-reviewed publications about your argument in most highly ranked academic journals of the world.

Until then, let's get back to science.

Just like gettin' snapped on the behind with a wet towel, SamuM :-) We'll listen to anyone here, but we won't listen to them spout previously refuted nonsense ...

Ohh look an "appeal to authority" in a scientific "discussion".

Carl is rolling over in his grave.

and refer to the above post about the "peer reviewed scientific journals you are referring to.

Science from a group that has to drink the koolaid before you get to submit and or look at the papers to offer comment.

I agree lets get back to science.

real science and NOT group think.

You have no interest in "real science", just a ideology that you are pushing.

I started following the science in the 1970s and was convinced that we had a problem (then ill defined) by the late 1980s.

Today, after the IPCC report, there is no need for further debate on the basics, only action !

There is still debate on the scope, timing, negative & positive feedbacks, but none on the reality of human caused climate change.

I do not have the time to waste on debating someone with willful ignorance.

Best hopes you are banned ASAP.


As we've discussed above, PrisonerX, the method by which one enters the group of peers able to review publication is by publishing. You don't need a decoder ring, there is no secret handshake, and anyone with something genuine to add is free to join in the fun.

It is a normal thing to cite another peer reviewed paper and treat it as an authoritative source when building one's position in some new work. The same principle applies in a layman's discussion - the citing of authoritative, peer reviewed works is a valid technique for supporting one's arguments.

Right now TOD's reputation economics are very old fashioned - one either recognizes a poster and has some mental context as to what their knowledge and position is, or one does not. I believe I'd seen your namebut had no opinion before writing that previous response and now seeing this second note from you and Alan's response to you I think I've got you figured out.

Ideology in opposition to well known facts coupled with the effects of these facts rapidly manifesting in undeniable ways must be very painful. I will pray for you.

"real science and NOT group think."

PX - Anyone reading or posting here that has done real science laughs at your ignorant statements.

To wit:

Ohh look an "appeal to authority" in a scientific "discussion".


Carl is rolling over in his grave.

Give it a little thought.

Too funny. And now, my infrequently awarded Beck breakthru award, linked here.

Also amusing to read comments citing misdirecting, incomplete and and minimally relevant data and examples such as yours.

The fact that the NW Passage has been "navigated" several times since 1905 does not detract at all from the significance of the possible opening up of the NW Passage to significant commercial ship traffic.

It wasn't until 1944 that the first ship made it through in a single summer season. And it wasn't until 1969 that a commercial vessel made a successful transit. Since then, there has only been one year (2000) where more than two or three commercial ships had gone through the passage, all escorted by ice breakers.

So, yes, the NW Passage has been transited before. But, it has never been a commercially viable shipping route.

Regarding the record for minimal Arctic ice coverage: the reason most researchers only consider the last 30 years or so is because the first satellite mapping of the Arctic ice pack began in 1972.

Prior to that we have to rely on "spot" or localized reports contained in aircraft and ship logs and records and reports from explorers, hunters, natives and others living or working along the Arctic shores.

Canada has collected observational records on the Arctic sea ice pack back to at least 1950. Those records show that, at least on the Canadian side or the Arctic Ocean, this year's minimum exceeds anything back to then.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center also has some data derived from ship's logs and charts going back to at least 1750, IIRC. A number of researchers are evaluating that data. It is sketchy, as you might expect, but preliminary looks seem to show that this year's minimum beats any back to then.

I readily admit that even a 250 year record (should that end up being the case), provides hard proof of nothing. But, it does support consideration of the possibility of significant climate change starting to occur.

I appreciate your substantive reply to RedRiver. I wish it had been the only reply.

I don't understand the motives of the climate change denial people. The people that I have come across that are in climate change denial are all very conservative politically. Not to say all conservatives deny climate change. Is there some kind of erosion of political power in play if these people admit to climate change? I don't get it.

Scratch and scratch and you might get down to an admission that climate change isn't described in Revelation, the action of man can't precipitate the end of man, etc, etc.

Admission that climate change is real implies that the whole right-wing mantra -- less government --> causes freer markets --> causes unlimited economic growth --> causes a better world for everyone -- is discredited by the reality of: a worsening world <-- caused by economic growth <-- caused by unregulated markets <-- caused by dysfunctional, emasculated government.

They have nothing left but increasingly shrill and desparate denial. They have been totally discredited and they know it.

In the past week there was a research release which suggested that "conservatives" have a need for certainty in all aspects of their lives. They tend to prefer not to question, prefer received wisdom, and will seek to belong to the dominant social group. "Liberals" have a higher tolerance for ambiguity, tend toward self-discovery, have little respect for received wisdom, and will be less concerned about altering their belief structure to fit social group "conventional wisdom." What was most interesting was that the research suggested that there was a difference in cognitive function between the two groups and this is due to differences in brain structure and function. Cannot now find the source but it was an interesting paper.


Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism
David M Amodio1, John T Jost1, Sarah L Master2 & Cindy M Yee2

1 Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, USA.

2 Department of Psychology, 1285 Franz Hall, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.

Correspondence should be addressed to David M Amodio david.amodio@nyu.edu

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.

"greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern"

...probably a useful trait in the evolution of our species

Of course there is.

The logic is as follows.

1) Deny problem exists
2) Deny problem is severe
3) Deny anthropogenic part of it
4) Deny that something can be done about it
5) Deny that something _should_ be done about it
6) Argue it's too costly, will wreck economy, jobs, future
7) Reluctantly agree to do something
8) However, PUSH and PUSH for industry regulation only (no taxes, no new regulation, no new nothing, just "we'll clean up our act" promises)
9) Greenwash, greenwash, greenwash. Do diddly-squat otherwise
10) Deny all reports of situation worsening, especially data from the field from real scientists
11) Argue that "industry self regulation" takes some time to start working, so it can't be judged a failure just yet
12) Reluctantly agree that industry regulation didn't work, agree for _small_ changes in regulation & taxation, but campaign and lobby like hell. Give "environmentalists" PR wins, but nothing that requires to clean up act seriously
13) Stall, stall, stall
14) When all comes to worse, agree that yes, company kept pumping GHG into the atmosphere, yes all the carbon permits were fraudulently accounted twice, carbon offsets were really just a tax gimmickry through subsidiaries and that company's "scientists" lied about the facts for 20 years - fully knowing the industry practices while doing so. Admit all this, but say that "there was no choice, competition was so hard". By this time people responsible for actions 1-13 are mostly long gone with fat bank accounts. At worst, get a slap on the wrist for being a bad corporate citizen.

Steps 1-14 give corporations who act like this 10-20 years more time to keep reaping better profits, not investing a cent in "useless environmental tree-hugging".

... all the while not giving an inch of control to anybody, for any reason on any issue.

So, why do they do it?

For those extra 10-20 years of continued profits and ability to compete harder than other companies and to maintain full internal control of all corporation actions.

In short: greed of profits and power (with some discount function thrown in).

Putting profit now or very soon so much before everything that comes in medium to long term.

One could easily also argue that the disease is systemic: when you have a whole department of professional liars (errr... I mean PR experts and lawyers), that is what they do. They are just constantly looking for a new defense battle or thing to spin.

Currently Global Warming is _that battle_.

If you want to win the game against them, give them something bigger than global warming to fight over, and they'll readily accept GW with all it's consequences.

I know too many people from the legal/PR/marketing profession to know how many of the bastards think (sorry, not everyone).

The alternative interpretation is that they are just as thick as lambs. And that's too scary to even contemplate :)

Intentionally evil, but smart people are controllable, if the risk of getting caught and the punishment are high enough.

Patently dumb people are beyond all hope: they usually have an ideology that overrides all scientific/critical thought that is not in line with the ideology. However, those people usually end up in politics, as ideology is not a good business success factor. However, ruthless competitive spirit and selected dishonesty can be.

So, I vote (wish) for malice over stupidity on this.

Sorry for off-topic content.

Police: Ammunition Costs More, Shipments Delayed

I've not been too happy about this situation of late. I was looking into buying a case of .223 rounds, and the price has almost tripled in the past year. The cost for all ammunition has increased, but especially so for .223 and .308 rounds. Incidentally enough, those are rounds used by the military and contractors (like Blackwater) for their assault rifles. I'm sure there is no coincidence there. The contractors/military have to buy it, no matter the price.

I don't believe the price for ammunition will be going down any time soon (if ever) so there isn't much point in waiting on purchase.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Good quality .308 (7.62mm Chek) can still be had for < > $12. Punch holes in paper with it, re-roll them yourself and you will have some bench rest quality rounds. .223...who cares. .222 is inherently more accurate if accuracy is what you are seeking for bench rest 100 yard competition. I dont place much stock in quantity...Quality, ie; putting them all in the same hole is the goal.

Just for Bob Shaw

A very narrow gauge Swiss railroad (80 cm vs standard gauge of 143.5 cm)

My guess is two narrow seats and a narrow aisle wide.

Narrow gauge is cheaper to build on difficult terrain and has narrower turning radius. But lack of interchangeability with standard gauge. The narrowest gauge I know of in commercial service today is 75 cm. 1 meter gauge and 1 yard gauge are common narrow gauges. Except for the Japanese bullet trains (standard gauge) most Japanese RRs are 3 feet 6 inch gauge.

New Orleans set a standard 6 inches wider than standard gauge but only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh followed our lead.

Best Hopes for What Works.


Gauge is the distance between the rails.

Hi Alan, check out the Vale of Rheidol railway at 60cm gauge. Commercially operated since 1902 and 5 minutes walk from where I live.

One cannot get around ANY factual errors here !

Although I did say AFAIK and it seems that they are selling a ride on a steam train more than "commercial" service.

None the less, how wide are the cars ? Bench seating on one side ?

Thanks :-)


The austrian narrow gauge railways are 76cm, also called the bosnian gauge, because it was used by the austrian military during the occupation of Bosnia in 1876. A link to a modern railcar seating 56 people ( two seats on each side of the aisle), with 36 standing places) powered by a 250 KW diesel engine:


"The War" on PBS, produced by Ken Burns about the Second World War, starts Sunday night. On Keith Olberman's show last night they talked about necessary wars and unnecessary wars, and Ken Burns spoke wistfully of things that we could have done, instead of launching an unnecessary war in Iraq.

In any case, "The War," based on what I have seen when Ken Burns gave a preview in Dallas a few weeks ago, is superb, and the principal theme song, "American Anthem," by Norah Jones, is excellent. BTW, Ken Burns will be on "This Week," on ABC Sunday morning.

Regarding our future, IMO Alan Drake has the best plan, and I think that he will be giving the most important presentation at ASPO-USA.

What will our children say?

Excerpt from "American Anthem":

What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?

Let them say of me, I am one who believes in sharing the blessings I receive.

Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, I gave my best to you.

Each generation from the plains to distant shore,

With the gifts that they were given, were determined to leave more.

Valiant battles fought together, acts of conscience fought alone,

These are the seeds from which America has grown. . .

. . . For those who think they have nothing to share,

Who fear in their hearts there is no hero there.

Know that quiet acts of dignity are that which fortifies

The soul of a nation that never dies.

The music's here.

From another time.

Drivers test paying by mile instead of gas tax:

This doesn't seem to be a good idea to me. Apart from the privacy problems it brings, it won't get any cheaper to maintain the roads. And while it might seem more fair, because one pays for the use of the road, at the same time it discourages the use of fuel efficient cars, because one will pay the same tax for a 20 mile round trip, no matter if one's using a Prius or a Hummer. Thus, in order to keep the same total amount of tax money coming, it will get more expensive to drive a fuel efficient car or a car which runs on subsidised alternative fuels, while it will get cheaper to drive around in gaz guzzlers.

I think it's a horrible idea. People should not be penalized for buying fuel-efficient cars, or for not using gasoline. It's the opposite of what we should be doing.

Let alone the additional complexity of monitoring how far each car drives, and the privacy nightmare that would be.

But look at the comments under the article. Most seem to think it's a fine idea. It's "fair," because everyone pays the same. Or that it's the future, because soon we'll all be driving electric cars and then how do we pay for the roads?

Consider an electric vehicle however. With a fuel tax, they pay nothing. This leads me to think that per-mile taxes are inevitable as in the long term I view electric vehicles as inevitable.

This ought to be coupled with something related to gross vehicle weight however. Or perhaps a vehicle class based upon the fuel economy. You wouldn't need to have every vehicle paying the same per-mile rate.

If the goal is to charge for road use based on road resource utilization, then weight is key attribute. It not only significantly affects maintenance, but also road design, where the roads and bridges are designed for the heaviest vehicles. It seems that the largest vehicles are getting the free ride here --- large semis probably contribute both the most wear and tear and a disproportional amount of the construction costs.

So I would have no problem with per mile taxes, as long as it is appropriately scaled by vehicle weight.

Barring that, charging per mile seems neither reasonable nor fair.

The cube of vehicle weight, since wear & tear is proportional to the cube.

Although vehicles that use oil vs. potentially renewable electricity should pay more.


Even faster than the cube: I've read it is the fourth power.

Damage done by a given vehicle increases roughly with the fourth power of its weight. Put another way, if you double the weight of a vehicle, then the damage it does gets doubled four times. This means that double the weight causes 16 times the damage.
Cars do little or no pavement damage in comparison to large trucks. It takes approximately 12,000 cars to do the same damage as a single 80,000 pound 18-wheel truck. Engineers who design pavement typically ignore the number of cars and only concern themselves about the number of trucks.

Thus, a 5000-pound SUV causes 16 times as much damage to the roadbed as a 2500-pound relatively-efficient car, but only pays about twice as much in fuel tax. Thus the efficient cars are paying more, not less, than their fair share relative to the SUVs. But both are insignificant relative to the really big trucks. That's one more big reason to push for freight rail.

It's near that time of the year for the great studded tire debate.

The state, or certain interests, keep claiming studded tires cause all the road damage. I don't see it, not on little sedans or wagons. What I notice is the wide wheelbase furrows in the interstates, where the incessant stream of large trucks pound the pavement year round.

Leanan - thanks for the Dr Kelvin Kemm story - I chuckled so loudly that my cube neighbor asked what was up. Yes, all those talking about Peak Oil just happened not to know about tar sands. Aren't we a silly unobservant bunch. And I am so happy that technology will save us because, um, well, we have cell phones and GPS, don't we!

Does make one wonder about the man's work in physics - perhaps there is a reason he is no longer in research and is now a "business strategy consultant" promoting the value of technology.

edit: corrected spelling of Leanan's name

EIA Monthly Energy Review

Quick Snapshot:


  1. The two dips since 1983 represent 1-year drop-offs in world oil production. The current gradually declining plateau is unique since that date.
  2. The big geopolitical events that drove production down in the 1970's & early 80's have obvious causes when seen in retrospect. There is no such obvious external cause driving things now, and the stagnant supply is taking place during a period of global economic growth driven primarily by Asia. Hence the oil price.
  3. I've put this graph up merely to serve as a reminder that all is not well with the oil supply. So when one Jack Z. Smith (linked in by Leanan) says

    Don't count me among the "peak oil" theorists who believe that world oil production will reach its ultimate zenith any day now. My guess is that is more likely to happen 25 or more years from now.

    all I can do is ask him to stare real hard at this graph, which I'm quite sure Jack has never seen. I'm not saying oil production can not go up again in the next 2-3 years. That could happen, given new projects coming on-stream. However, there have been similar forward-looking statements made since 2005 that have not panned out at all.


Very striking graph.

Is the apparent plateau from 89-93 (difficult to see exactly) strictly a result of the run up, prosecution and hangover from the war?

I think that's the "It's the economy, stupid" recession that got Clinton elected.

I remember that recession well. My wife left me, the company I worked for went out business, I couldn't get a new job, and I lost my house. That was 1991. Otherwise, it was a pretty good year.

I think it helps, when writing about peak oil, economic collapse, and all those really big issues out there, to have seen a little adversity in the past.

I had just started working then. I worried constantly that I would be laid off. I wasn't. Instead, they cut everyone's salary 10%. Which wasn't good, but it was better than being laid off. Many others were not as lucky.

It's kind of funny how so many Texans, in the oil business, or with strong oil connections, have been so vocal (at least once) about warning about the consequences of Peak Oil. The big three come to mind--Simmons, Pickens & Rainwater.

From 1986 to 1989, my income dropped by more than 75%, and we went from living in a lavishly renovated turn of the century Victorian to a small rented apartment. My wife went from driving a Mercedes to driving an old pickup.

WT, no disrespect but I have had new BMWs and old pickups...give me an old pickup any day...unless a motorcycle will do the job.

The folks that lived through the 30's are mostly gone, maybe that explains some of our attitudes.

We bought our first farm in winter 1980-the peak of land prices, just before the "recession". The joke was when the east gets a cold, (insert rural state) gets pneumonia. We had saved for years for a large down to make easier payments. We felt lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar years later.

Those wishing to jump into today's real estate market, note the very difficult years later.

That was my first thought, too. Black Monday was in 1987, but I don't think that U.S. had negative GDP growth until late 1990/early 1991. Europe and Japan also grew during the 87-90 period. Though I think the Japanese bubble burst about the time the US GDP went negative. And I believe that "Asian Tigers" were also growing then. That recession was more anglo than global. Definitely makes one wonder.

And the 1929 crash was followed by a bottom (economically) in 1934, again several years later. That's why this current market's behavior needs to be watched. Just because someone thinks that suddenly one day everything is fine again, doesn't prove it. And history reminds us that the fallout from such events often appears much later.

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

During the 89-93 period the key difference is price. Oil has, since about 2004, shot from $30 per barrel to almost $85 now. Worse, oil went from $10 per barrel in 1998 to that same almost $85. That's a $75 or a 750 percent increase!

With the 89-93 plateau we saw falling prices that ultimately led to the infamous nonsense from The Economist where they claimed $5 per barrel oil was in sight.

So the key difference is the astronomical rise in prices while at the same time production has stalled and even begun to fall. Americans are having trouble seeing the price increase because gasoline was so cheap to begin with and because Americans are (or at least were nominally) amongst the richest people on the planet. Given the typical American short-sightedness, if it doesn't affect them then it must not exist. Yet we have a constant parade of news from around the world of nations grappling with fossil fuel shortages and the consequences from that.

As for why that plateau occurred, as another poster noted, this was probably the economy. As the US stalled on the economic front (there was a minor recession then) the rest of the world stalled too. I cannot prove that, of course, but the relationship seems reasonable, given the economic/oil demand scenarios that preceded it. We've seen several economic contraction or flat periods that resulted in oil demand flattening or declining.

As Dave Cohen notes, the global oil situation is clearly problematic. Dave does not yet rule out the mega-projects for the next few years lifting production a little bit but clearly, even with those, the situation cannot be extended forward indefinitely without the discovery of many new giant and super-giant oil fields. Since 1% of all oil fields make up over 60% of all oil production (these are the 507 giants and super giants documented by Fredrik Robelius' master's thesis), we must either replace these giant and super giant fields OR our discovery rate of smaller fields must essentially triple overnight. Since that is clearly not happening (see any discovery curve to see how far down discovery is since its 1963 peak), there is a high probability that peak is very recently past, right now or very, very soon.

I'll bet if you pressed Dave Cohen (or Robert Rapier or Euan Mearns), he'd admit that we might be at peak or just past peak, but because of the quality of the data, he's unwilling to make that call quite yet. And I perfectly understand that position. The peak community is really not so far apart as some people paint us. We're arguing about a year or three on a process that has taken over 150 years already and will extend yet for many more to come. And we're quibbling about that accuracy when we all admit that the data has lots of problem spots in it, in terms of both quality and completeness. So essentially those arguing that we have peaked (May 2005 or July 2006) and those arguing that peak is very near are pretty much in the same camp.

Sorry for the long winded commentary. I know it's more than you requested but considering that others might be reading this thread and not as familiar with the circumstances, I felt obliged to point out some of these facts.

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

Grey - thanks for the thoughtful response (and the one above regarding timing after a crash).

I found this interesting chart on oil prices in 2006 dollars

You'll note the run up in prices leading up to the gulf war, albeit nothing like what we have experienced lately or experienced in the seventies. The more I think about this the more I see confirmation of a really cruel scenario.

If the housing bubble burst really is sending us into recession (and as you note, the worst may be a few years out), the current plateau and/or minimal increases in oil production could easily be diagnosed as an economic issue. The peak would be masked and the "managers" of our economy will be at a loss as to how to explain why the recession persists. And this would be true whether we are past peak now OR if peak is still 3-5 years out.

This would mean that the recognition of the impacts of peak could be delayed for years. So here is the question, how are we able to distinguish when the job loses, the fall in the standard of living, the disruption of gov't services, etc, are the result of the decline of the oil economy and not just a part of the ordinary business cycle? That distinction might not be so important to the people impacted, but it would mean a lot to our (the peak aware) ability to get attention for alternatives.

Would it be any better if peak came during a long business cycle expansion? I don't know.

I'm operating under the assumption that it won't be until 2012 at the earliest that there is something close to a real consensus among TPTB that yes, oil really has peaked and is in permanent decline. Nothing scientific, just my gut intuition based on everything I've seen and read.

This also implies that it will probably be no sooner than about 2015 before serious mitigation & adaptation measures begin to really be implemented. Given the Hirsch report's 20 years, that means 2035 before all mitigation measures are in place -- IF we can still afford them and come up with the resources to make them happen. That becomes a very big "If" at that point.

It will probably all be a case of much too little, much too late. But it will still be better than nothing, and just maybe enough for us to level off at a permanently lower but sustainable level. The odds are against it, but I can hope.

Informal conversations with the Millennium Institute folks suggest 2011 computes out as the break point under BAU. $250 to $300 oil and -5% GDP.

Hirsch had only supply side solutions (CTL, oil shale, improved oil recovery) and more efficient but no smaller SUVs, etc.

See my posting today on Drumbeat for how quickly we could electrify our freight RRs. My guess is 5 to 7 years minimum to transfer 90% of truck ton-miles to rail. A dozen years to completely (97%) grade separate the main lines, thereby speeding up rail and expanding capacity.

Massive Urban Rail could be built in a dozen years (more longer), enough to make an impact.

Some mitigation strategies are better AND faster than others !

Best Hopes,


I agree that massive rail (urban and inter-city) is one of the core solutions to bridging the gap from where we are to a sustainable society. I wish you all the best luck in your pursuit of this goal, Alan, yet I remain convinced that you will fail, not because of the technical solution, but because of the nature of our society and those in power now and in the near future.

I hope you make me very wrong! :) But I am not going to plan on that.

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

it will probably be no sooner than about 2015 before serious mitigation & adaptation measures begin to really be implemented.

That depends what you mean by "serious".  Today's prices are already creating responses; the steep climb in sales of hybrid cars in a generally declining market is one example.

But it ... just maybe enough for us to level off at a permanently lower but sustainable level.

We actually have considerably more power potential from renewable resources than we are using from fossil fuels (the solar flux deliver's humanity's annual energy consumption to earth in about 40 minutes).  Our only problem is that we're doing a lousy job of tapping it today, and the only thing we need to have a lifestyle which is both more energy-intensive and cleaner and sustainable is to get better at it.

Maybe that's the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I emailed the author myself earlier this morning and sent him a link to the EIA International production monthly page. I wonder if will dent his thinking? I've done the same with the Huffington Post's Learsy, but he still uses the 'peak oil pranksters' meme.

To me, that graph doesn't show all that much, other than that we've had dips and plateaus before. In hindsight, we can look at it and say, "oh, there's the oil embargo", or "oh, there's the 70's economic malaise", or "oh, there's the collapse of the soviet union" or some such. If we do manage to hit 90-95mbpd world production in the future, we will look back on the current dip and say "oh, there's the Iraq war/War on Terror/Chavez reign/housing market collapse" or some such.

I think the graphs that superimpose the price of oil with this graph are much more indicative of the problem - ie, why is oil production falling while price has quadrupled?

Is there really a bullet shortage?

About once a week a bullet article say XYZ police can't get bullets. I know the gangs around here don't seem to be having any issues. "Gangs resort to mean-spirited driveby text messages due to bullet shortage"!

I realize oil is finite, but bullets? What's really going on?

I think it's partly Iraq. It's partly increased demand by police. It's also the general tightness of commodities (metals, etc.) Hence the stories about people stealing wiring from homes, bleachers from ball fields, and Buddha statues from temples.

Peak ammo is akin to peak oil. As Chris Rock said...'guns are cheap but bullets will cost $5,000 each.' 'Gang members will be saying "man yo' lucky I dont have $5 grand 'cause ifin I did I'd pop a cap in yo' ass."' I'm gonna save up and buy me a bullet, so yo' betta watch out!' (paraphrased).

When I lived in Vegas for a year and a while, a common newspaper article was...'A huge gun battle erupted between two gangs.' 'No gang members were injured but a grandmother sitting on her porch in a rocking chair, two blocks away, caught a stray 9mm bullet between the eyes and died instantly.'

Trouble is, now these guys are getting training on the US Military firing ranges...They will be a lot more dangerous when, or if, they return from the foreign wars. Other than shooting people, what other skills will they posses? Well, they might not be too dangerous...I recently read that for every 'insurgent' killed in Iraq, 250,000 rounds of small arms ammo are fired. Could this have something to do with the ammo shortage for cops in the US?

Sounds high. I seem to recall for WWII the number was 40,000 rounds per person killed. Though I guess there was more bombing going on where many were killed at a time.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

RA, in WW2 many of the 'citizen soldiers' were kids that had lots of experience shooting wild game for the table. The best B17 gunners were kids that had experience hunting birds (quail, pheasant, ducks, geese, etc). These kids came into the military already knowing how much lead to pick up on a FW190 flashing by their aircraft. The young gunners had the experience of years of hunting on their farms and ponds. That sort of experience is more rare today.

Another reason for the lower rounds per kill was the great weapon that most soldiers and marines carried in WW2...The M1 Garand chambered for .30-06. Best weapon that our military ever had. What they are using now is a pop gun compared to the Garand.

I heard in Vietnam it was up to a billion rounds (all types) a month. Considering that 1-2 million Vietnamese died, mostly to US and ARVN guns and bombs, but an awful lot were not carrying guns, we could roughly estimate we were killing less than 10,000 actual combatants a month (except during Tet), so 100,000 rounds per armed Communist seems possible.

What's changed? The wonderful, horrible world of counterinsurgency warfare, and full-automatic rifles. In Vietnam they had "Mad Minutes" where a unit would just fire all their weapons full-auto to clear an area of, well, anyone. In WWII, where rifles were bolt action or semi-auto, soldiers were discovered to often fail to fire them at all out of fear. But once every GI had full-auto, they just used that all the time on anyone or any movement or any sound. And that has not stopped. Meanwhile, the great killer of the World Wars, artillery, is getting to be harder and harder to use against civilian populations.

I know that nitrates are one of the common bases for explosives as well as fertilizer. Anyone know anything about Peak Nitrates?

I forgot to mention a Peak Oil connection:

Soldiers can waste ammo like crazy if and only if they have vehicles to transport it.

If America couldn't win wars with all our transportation advantages in Vietnam and Iraq, what will it be like 20 years from now?

If America couldn't win wars with all our transportation advantages in Vietnam and Iraq, what will it be like 20 years from now?

Sticks and stones.

You have a hard time winning since you want to be good guys. If your leader were Stalin, Pol-pot, Hitler or any such morally deficent maniac you would have eradicated populations untill no opposition were left. It would probably also have been far cheaper in fuel and munitions but it would cost you your moral values.

Lots of people on TOD concider Bush and the neocons to be amoral but if they realy were amoral the world would be a hell hole and the Iraq situation would not be a kind of civil war but a silent graveyard.

USA realy turning sour is an extremely scary scenario. I have no wish for a bipolar world to ballance USA but a healthy EU or India with a good democratic trend would be great for keeping the candle lit if we would enter a dark age.

Take care of your country, you were once the undisputed super hero of democracy and I dont know if it is possible to replace you.

The Law of Diminishing Returns raises its ugly head again:

200 rounds for $109 USD

WWII 40,000 rounds per kill (40,000 / 200) x 109 = $21,800

Vietnam 100,000 rounds per kill (100,000 / 200) = $54,500

Iraq 250,000 rounds per kill (250,000 / 200) = $136,250

This "cost per kill" does not include military equipment costs, transport costs, personnel costs etc. Factor in all of those costs in and it would be cheaper to offer each insurgent a $500,000 cash payment and resettlement in Iowa or Kansas, or Nebraska where ever they need cheap labour to replace the departing illegal Mexicans. Would end the war, solve the immigrant labour problem, and if the Government included a free house as part of the deal it would also help the subprime problem.

you see this is the kind of out of the box thinking that could save us all yet :-)

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

I've had similar thoughts. We've blown about $450 billion in Iraq which has a population of about 27 million people. That's about $17,000 per Iraqi, which is about 6 times the per-capita income. Instead of blowing them up, it would be more effective to just employ half the nation and build their economy and infrastructure.

The new XM307 is going to fix that cost/kill ratio on the crew fed front.


A weapon like this totally redraws the urban combat landscape. No where to hide with programmed air burst rounds ...

The old saying is that in war, life is cheap. The above figures seem to suggest otherwise.

S390, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned artillery...It is the most effective and efficient killer of enemy combatants in conventional warfare. Air burst fragmentation artillery kills/wounds far more men than all small arms fire. All soldiers having full-auto weapons is a huge waste of ammo. A platoon used to have one or two full auto teams, either BARs or .30 Cal. air cooled Brownings, and all others carried the M1 Garand (prior to the Garand, the 1903 bolt action Springfield chambered for the same 30-06 ammo as the Garand and BAR). Of course, if all soldiers have full auto weapons the ammo manufactures can sell far more ammo. Capitalisim at work in war... punctuated by occasional peaceful interludes!

Here in the wild lands I can get Remington .223 in bulk (200) for $109 but the only small boxes available are cheap Russian stuff. All other rifle calibers are on the shelves. Pistol calibers are behind the counter. Seems OK here, but this place is the next best thing to an orbital platform separate from the rest of the country so YMMV.

I have not bought most calibers of factory ammo for years. None of it is as accurate as the ammo that I load. After firing the Check made .308 FMJ I anneal the neck area, punch out the spent primers, give it a good tumbling, then weigh each empty and sort by weight and box it by weight. Reload it with whatever powder/bullet combo gives your rifle the best accuracy, while maintaining decent muzzle velocity. I use only CCI primers so that is one variable removed. Competing in bench rest doesnt require a lot of ammo, just a few rounds of very accurate ammo. When I am trying to dope the wind and mirage I dont want to be second guessing my ammo.

It is possible, with proper annealing, to neck down .308 to any smaller caliber you desire as long as the overall length of the smaller caliber is shorter than .308 and the head size is the same. This is a several step process and requires several different reloading dies...It isnt a good idea to neck it from .308 to .222, .243 or .223 in one step...Usually, if I try this I will get wrinkles around the neck area and the brass is ruined. So, annealing after each caliber step down is required. This is a slow process but it works and produces very strong brass because, when complete, the neck area will be thicker than factory brass and I can get far more reloads without neck splits. If the neck is too thick I sometimes use a neck reaming lathe to thin it and insure all necks are of consistent thickness. Leave no variable unattended to...if you want to collect the occasional trophy. BTW, if you want to reload for .270 (another inherently accurate caliber) you can neck down .30-06 brass in one step after annealing. I like the .270 for 300 yard bench rest.

It is primarily military calibers. The government is playing JIT with ammo, rather than buying in massive bulk as in past wars and stockpiling it.

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

The government used to manufacture all their own ammo. No more. It's been outsourced.

And Lou Dobbs reported awhile back that some key components of our weapons systems are made only in China. This is not supposed to be allowed, but they do it anyway. The parts are made in China and packaged in the US, which allows them a "Made in the USA" fig leaf.

Leanan, you are absolutely correct. We have outsourced way too much to China. Even Japan has made the same mistakes. For instance, a couple of years ago Honda licensed a Chinese company to make the Honda C70 motorbike. Honda has built over 52 million of these little bikes and sold them all over the world. The C70 Passport is the bike that Honda used in their famous ad campaign 'you meet the nicest people on a Honda.' Tons of them are still in daily use in the US and around the world, even though Honda stopped importing them into the US in 1984. A couple of years ago Honda licensed a Chinese company to build and sell a slightly updated version of the C70. After one year Honda revoked the Chinese companys license...because what they were building was/is junk. The Chinese company was hurting Hondas reputation for reliability. Nuff' said.

Oh, I am so rubbing my hands at this.

Third World countries can only initiate wars with the approval of their suppliers.

China has much to gain from a world of low-level infantry combat, including being the swing producer of obedient young men (US peak = 1945).

Interesting catch, Leanan. Any sources or references besides Lou Dobbs on this. Not that it is surprising, but is worthy of a wider audience.

Unimaginable technologies - Technology will just keep on rolling, by a "doctor" appearing in "engineering news". No exploration or analysis of where technology comes from.

Hit Start, not Panic - No need to worry about peak oil for 25 years, by an editorial staff writer. You have to assume the "25" comes from Yergin or Big Oil, because there is no backup for that number.

CO2 flooding could produce 2 mbpd - eventually, meaning in about 30 years. "Last Oil Shock" Strahan reports that Denbury Resources is the largest implementer of CO2 injection. Nothing mentioned about the impact on climate change.

Without a bigger, integrated, synthetic, systemic picture driving our solutions and analyses, we are essentially flushing future investments down the drain.

Unaccounted-for externalities, economic and otherwise, are eating us alive.

My comment, posted at Scitizen under Cobb's article:

Studies in nonlinear dynamical systems, complexity theory, and chaos theory show us:
(1) long-term point predictions of arbitrary accuracy are doomed because of interactive feedback and the Butterfly Effect


(2) patterns repeat.

People get hungry. The hunger response is an example of a complex system, dependent on activity, environment, recent food intake, rest, physical well-being (health). We are caught up in trying to forecast exactly when we will be hungry during the next week, down to the minute, while trying to estimate our activity levels, energy content of planned meals down to the hundredth of a calorie, health risks, and local environmental conditions.

Any of you undergo such an analysis to plan when you're going to eat? No, of course not. You understand you will get hungry. You obtain food in advance. When you get hungry, you eat. This is a regular, repeating, yet weeks-in-advance unpredictable pattern that we all manage successfully the majority of our entire lives.

Point predictions of arbitrary accuracy will inevitably fail. Yet recognizable patterns repeat, and can be planned for. Even if you don't know exactly when they'll happen.

We are losing sight of the forest for the ... those big wooden, leafy things, damn, can't remember what they're called. Which is fine, because we need to pay more attention to the forest as an integrated, whole system.

From the end of the link about replacing gas taxes with a 'fairer' system -
'Privacy advocates worry about the use of satellite navigation technology to track drivers' movements. "Where you go is something that, for the most part, people consider private," says Lee Tien, an attorney who specializes in privacy issues for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The second point is, it's the sort of thing we do to the bad guys. Where do you hear a lot about GPS tracking? It's for prisoners or people who are out on probation."

James Whitty, who headed the Oregon experiment, says some of the 260 volunteers initially had privacy concerns, but those worries faded. ....
Leroy Younglove, a participant in the Oregon study, says he had no privacy concerns and that the mileage fee is fairer than the gas tax.'

Best police state money can buy, baby, best police state money can buy. Because it is fair, and keeps the revenue flowing for more road building. Just like EZ Pass. The same way an American cell phone has a FCC mandated tracking capability, for improving emergency services efficiency, not keeping track of anything like your daily travels.

Truly, there is no way that suburbia will go down without everyone being a prisoner first - and of course, leaving the U.S. will also become a matter of not being in the wrong database. For your safety. And I'm sure the detentions will be handled with all the fairness and competence Homeland Security (imagine that name in 1976 - remember the Bicentennial?) is already known across the world for.

Expat: I am old enough to remember when people used to ridicule Eastern Europe by saying "show me your papers" usually spoken in a faux German accent. No one is laughing now.

While in the US Navy I was in and out of Rota Spain on several occasions while Franco was still in power. When we traveled to nearby towns on a Spanish bus the Guardia Seville (state military police) would stop the bus at check point intervals and two of the Guardias would enter the bus, both carrying Uzi machine guns, and check all the Spaniards papers. The Guardia would not even look at us, although we were in civilian clothes. It was a very strange feeling, creepy. Probably coming to a location near you...soon.

I was a kid at Clark Air Base in the Philippines under Marcos. Very low-level tyranny compared to Spain. But I think Marcos is a good template for what Bush and probably Giuliani could get away with until the money is all stolen. I bet Giuliani's mistress is big on shoes.


Wikipedia's entry on Ferdinand Marcos is very educational - he declared martial law after 6 years in office, but near the end of his second 3-year presidential term. He used Communist bombings as a justification, but his first act was to arrest opposition congressmen. It was all so easy.

A straight mileage tax would be unfair unless it is somehow linked to vehicle weight, the lighter the vehicle the lower the tax. After all it is the vehicle weight that roughly determines the amount of wear per mile a vehicle has on the system. If much smaller vehicles become the norm, it will also be possible to make changes in infrastructure such as making narrower lanes etc. shrink everything and it should cost less.

What expat says about the fairness and competence of Homeland Security [sic] may unfortunately apply to changes in transportation infrastructure.

satellite navigation technology to track drivers' movements

One thing that I never quite understand is why they don't look seriously at my proposal http://triptax.com

I can only speculate that there is a lot of money to be made and my proposal is much too cheap! It certainly does not require any special GPS/radio gear in the cars.


Flat battery? Try a bit of paper power.

Its flexibility means it could be shaped into pieces of the car -- like inside door panels -- that wouldn't normally be associated with batteries. Looking into the future, if the device can be successfully scaled up it could be used to power electric aircraft and boats.

The device will work well in extreme conditions because it contains no water, so there is nothing to freeze or evaporate, according to Linhardt, like in the space program or the North Pole.

Tropical storm update:

TD Ten formed in the NE gulf.


Tracks put it into LA - one side or another of New Orleans. Just eyeballing it...so those familiar with area better can correct me.


Strength - Tropical Storm before landfall. No models predicting more at the moment. (next name is JERRY)

Rain event mostly? Still Shell and others have evacuated(and shut in) some facilities(drumbeat above).

Evacuations and shut-ins are common for any significant storm and a tropical storm is still significant. The rigs will 99.99% do fine in such a "mild" storm but it's safer for the people to just remove them. The shut-in is standard practice to avoid catastrophic oil spills.

I don't think TD10 is going to do anything but Humberto wasn't supposed to do anything either. If I lived in New Orleans, I wouldn't exactly be worried but I would keep an eye on TD10, just in case. The climate is changing, and with it, so is the weather (as Humberto demonstrated).

So it appears that TD10 will amount to primarily rain. Let's hope that's all it is and maybe while we're hoping we can also hope it moves away from N.O.

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

TD10, before it was named a TD and while off the East Coast of Florida, brought us 12 inches of much needed rain. Now we are about at the normal year to date rainfall amount for the first time in three years. I hope for everyones sake that it only brings needed rainfall.

Interesting stuff from Israel for Water resources! Gotta love tech! Isreal is a pretty dry place, if it works there, i'd imagine it could work anywhere.

GTG aids Israeli firm to produce water from air


An Israeli company will soon launch a device for producing water from air. This revolutionary Israeli invention, could meet the all household drinking water needs, and with the addition of solar energy, produce substantially greater quantities.

Great article - if only it had actually talked about the technology instead of simply speculating how Isreali business could lead in sustainability.

Me, I'm holding out for the complete matter transformation machine - throw in a pile of old junk, push the right button and (clink, clunk, buzz) out comes that new wide screen TV.

Around these parts we call that "Ebay".

Their website is "under construction".

By using google cache, you can see the company sells motivational speaking.

10 bucks says the CEO ends up indited for absconding with the investors money.

Bitteroldcoot, you think some motivational speaker is going to scam the Israilis out of their money? FOMALOL...

Anti: I have one of these in my basement. I call it a dehumidifier. I will sell you the water and you can drink it. I might take the operation public-maybe your "Treasury Secretary" can help me out.

We are going to see a whole schwack of alternative energy charlatans starting right about now. Burning sea water, cold fusion, lukewarm fusion, lukewarm fusion with abiotic oil as a feedstock; the potential for hucksters and frauds will be endless as people start to notice we have less and less liquid petroleum each year.

Leanan - can we get an alternate energy scam hall of shame set up? Sort of like Snopes does for urban legends - one stop shopping for debunking all of this junk science and the out of work mortgage grifters who will flock to it???

Interesting idea. I kind of like it.

I don't know if having it as part of TOD would be the best way to do it, though. For one thing, it would make searching cumbersome. Maybe someone could set up a blog devoted to this topic, using tags to categorize items.

Drupal can do more than TOD does with it. I am no whiz as I'm just starting to work on a small community site that the coming collapse will probably make irrelevant.

Sounds like we could use an "alternative energy dictionary" - define the nouns involved and label them as "good", "situational", or "scam"???

Conservation is always good, wind is always situational, and burning seawater due to radio waves is always butt stupid ...

That is an excellent idea.  I volunteer my scamwatch article on Steorn as the foundation (it needs updating for recent events) for the debunking of that particular fraud.

Right. And while we are at it, another cache for stuff that REALLY WORKS, like electric rail, and, ahem, solar thermal energy. Example, what Leanan quoted in the intro news clip here.

Over and over I see good solid info on perfectly achievable solar thermal, such as linear focus steam talked about above, and then, somebody pushes all that aside and takes off on how economically impossible PV is! Sad.

And add to that, pumped hydro storage. Old, good, ignored.

My bet- solar thermal, pumped hydro storage, high voltage DC- the beginning of the clean new world.

But first and most important, cut the population. Give an anatomically identical porno starlet doll to every guy, thus shrinking global libido to zip.

(Gawd! The punsters, duck!)

I wish them the best of luck - all the wars in the Middle East are/were oil or water-related. I believe that the Palestinians get around 1/10th of the water per capita of the Israelis. I hope that mentioning tidbit this does not upset a lot of you guys. Here is a relevant article

Unfortunately, most of the innovation coming out of Israel is weapons-related.

I guess if you make the dehumidifier large enough it might work. But you're right, the low humidity will certainly create quite a technical challenge. John

“ Israeli BioTech firm discovers new process, renders blood from turnip…
World Banking expresses interest.”


I bet that's a Palestinian turnip.

Have there been any comments on the National Geographic Biofuel article? It has the cover for this month's magazine, along with an online piece. The magazine has a very broad readership.


Please excuse the post if this has been covered. I quickly scanned Robert Rapier's blogspot, and didn't see any comments there.

Doesn't seem like it.

The section on corn seems pretty good, essentially critical of the idea. Others sections with a higher degree of optimism, even when noting the shutdown of Phoenix's Redhawk algal bioreactor.

Concurrently, ethanol firms are getting downgraded.

"Ethanol Producers Downgraded

A Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst downgraded three ethanol producers, slashing price targets and predicting the industry's "growing pains" will continue due to small profit margins and oversupply.

Ethanol production margins have dropped to 15 cents per gallon from 75 cents in mid-May, said Eitan Bernstein, as the price of ethanol declined. He expected prices to stay low through 2008, and reduced his ethanol price estimates for 2007 to 2010."


Today from Prensa Latina:

Panama Ups Gas Prices

Panama, Sep 20 (Prensa Latina) Panama approved an increase in fuel prices along with a $1.5 million subsidy to ease the load on public transportation users by stabilizing the price of diesel for buses.

The increase will be one cent more per gallon (3.78 liters) of 96 octane gasoline, seven cents for regular [91 oct.], and 15 cents more for auto diesel.

Panama claims to have the cheapest gas in Central America at $3.20 and $3.35 per gallon, 80 cents 85 cents per liter and the lowest gas tax of the region (15 cents liter) due to the cheapest transportation cost from port to consumers.

However, the price rise truly hits cooking gas consumers who are to pay an additional $1.93 for a 100 pound tank.

Prices in Panama do remain lower than in Costa Rica, where the average liter price is one dollar, and Guatemalans pay 90 cents.

Oh Canada.

Reading this, I can see Canadians starting to feel rich and going out to sign large 40-year amortization mortgages. Not smart, because meanwhile, 70% of exports go to the US, and they just got a lot more expensive for Americans, and will decrease substantially. Perfect storm, the US economy will drag down many others, and certainly Canada.

Loonie's rise to parity really a story about oil

If a currency is the single clearest indication of an country's economic might, then Canadians should be feeling on top of the world Thursday.

In a will-it-or-won't-it session Thursday, the Canadian dollar hit parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time in 31 years, capping a blistering run that has carried it nearly 60% higher from a record low of US61.79¢ in just five years.

The rise, in a rush of five pennies in the past 10 days alone, marks a remarkable transformation for a country that limped out of the tech-wreck with little to look forward to except stagnant wages, flagging productivity growth and calls to abandon the currency altogether for the once-mighty greenback.

Consider what has happened since: the unemployment rate has slid to a 30-year low of 6.0%, wage gains are rolling along at a 4.0% clip, the Toronto stock market is near record highs, house prices have soared, government coffers are overflowing, the strong dollar has helped turn us into champion consumers and we are on the cusp of becoming a creditor nation -- joining the elite ranks of countries like Germany that own more abroad than they owe.

And oh yeah, the world has finally figured out that Canada holds the world's second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.

While historically low interest rates have aided this transformation -- stoking housing and providing an offset to manufacturing that has been clobbered by the loonie -- at its heart, this is a story about oil.

A sort of related story...

High Dollar A Cash Drain On Oilpatch

Canada's high-flying buck is known internationally as a petro-dollar, but the country's petroleum sector is anything but pleased.

"We hate it," said John Diel-wart, chief executive of ARC Resources Ltd., a large oil-and-gas trust.

"The strength of Canada's economy and the strength of our dollar is directly tied to the strength of our energy industry," he said. Yet, "all of our revenue comes in U.S. dollars, all of our expenses come in Canadian dollars. It hurts the sector, just as it does any business that exports."

Higher royalties and higher Canadian dollar = the next step in the financial chapter of of the relentlessly progressing Receding Horizons.

Incidentally, how many people, especially Americans, do you think there are who understand that oil and gold prices are not really going up that much at all, that it's simply the demise of the US dollar that makes it look as if they do?

New oil pricing in the canadian dollar perhaps. Its well known that all the growth in production is going to come from the tar sands, 4 barrels water to one barrel oil, no problem

The most compelling message I get from all of this is that I better start building up my stash of good Canadian whiskey before the US/Canadian dollar disparity takes root.

ilargi, too many people have the misconception that gold is an investment that will yield dividends, like securities and other financial instruments. I have always thought of gold as a great inflation hedge...a convienient metal to hold its store of value when fiat curriencies are being inflated to worthlessness by central banks. A good way to think of oil, gold and some other commodities is 'what is an ounce of gold or a gallon of gasoline worth compared to the labor of one efficient man for one day.'

All one has to do is look at the ancient cultures and see how much they value gold and ask ones self, why? Because they have seen too many fiat curriencies come and go! They continually trade their excess fiat curriencies (savings) for gold because it retains its value in relation to energy, labor and food.

There are those that value gold for its use in jewelry but that is another story. Wearing jewelry is like putting on a sign that says 'rob me, rob me!' Kinda dumb, dontcha think?

People in the field of economics often make the mistake of projecting certain prices and trends years into the future, but by assuming that the technology will not change.

I've seen far more of the opposite: projecting on the basis that some technological white knight will come to the rescue.

I thought the SciAm article on steam-storage for CSP was cool, but I see no comments on it here. Is this old news to the cognoscenti?

It strikes me as delightfully simple - store steam under pressure and simply reduce the pressure as needed to flash more steam. It'd take a fair bit of volume, but fortunately volume containment is the archetypical cube/square relationship.

How about we put an Iraq-war's worth of resources (1.0 shrubs) into building a shitload of these in sunny areas, throw up some HVDC transmission lines, and electrify transport?

Time's a wastin'

How many Shrubs per Friedman unit?

Say, this may only be news to me, but it's pretty screwed-up.

My wife was just chatting me up (as I slowly wake up this morning) about local news, and notes that there's a coal-fired ethanol plant being built on Kauai.

Yes, a coal-fired ethanol-making factory, so the ethanol can be used to reduce our reliance on oil and save the planet. (urk! my heart!)

Hawaii has huge untapped geothermal, huge cloudless deserts with the strongest sunlight in the USA, wind, waves, ocean thermal energy, and about every other possible renewable energy resource. So now it has started importing coal. And y'know, I expect it to import MORE coal because it will be the short-term cheapest thing to do, and the government here is more apallingly stupid than is typical for states.

So this state, which couldn't feed itself on a bet, will probably wind up relying on coal barges. This will not end well, for oahu in particular.

Yeah. That's why I'm so pessimistic about renewables. If they can't do it on the Big Island, they can't do it anywhere.

They have active volcanoes and the geothermal that goes with it. They have one geothermal plant, that proved to be so expensive and troublesome that plans for others were killed. They're surrounded by ocean, and had an ocean thermal plant once, but it's been shut down. They have a ton of sun, but solar water heaters and solar panels aren't worth it, unless there's a government subsidy thrown in. They have a lot of wind, and some wind turbines that aren't being maintained.

And on much of the island, no heating or air conditioning is needed. Yet they still generate electricity with fossil fuels. Even though they depend on tourism and dread the thought of an oil spill.

Maybe this will change as oil gets more expensive. Or maybe we'll find ourselves chasing those receding horizons.

At best, a lot more of our economy will be devoted to producing energy, which means less for other things.

Leanan obviously the geothermal projects in Hawaii were badly mismanaged. Look at Iceland they have PROVEN that geothermal energy can work. They have an abundance of cheap clean energy. So cheap that they're likely to use electrolysis to create hydrogen and be completely free of oil in the future.

The bad management in Hawaii is culture and corruption at work.

The place has great wind ... but the windward island sides are where people want to build fancy houses. I suppose the unstylish leeward sides could be used, but not as effectively?

There is simply no excuse not to have geothermal cooking right along given the nature of those islands ... but again culture and corruption strike.

Solar would rock there - a few panels on every rooftop and you're good to go.

The previous poster was right - military dollars are the #1 component and tourism is #2 - both of those go *poof* with peak oil and then you've got islands far over their carrying capacity population wise, even if they do get energy done right.

Its a mad, mad, mad world and I'm going to go back to watching it on the front porch.

I don't think the military dollars will go poof. At least, not right away. The military will probably be the only steady work. And Hawai`i is very strategically located.

If I had to guess a first target for the climate/economy/oil change sledgehammer Hawaii would be very, very high on the list ... only Las Vegas tops it in terms of the unsustainable situations ... it is true military dollars will go after the tourism, but devaluation and new priorities can't help but land on the islanders and land hard.

I don't think it is just bad management though I agree that is certainly part of the problem. Rather, I think there is a predisposition amongst human beings to vastly understate the true costs of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have many "tragedy of the commons" costs that go undiscussed and therefore never attributed back to the fossil fuels themselves.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Iceland deliberately chose (via government action and regulation) to go down the geothermal path pretty much without regard to the costs of fossil fuels. Is that not correct? In other words, they took fossil fuels off the table entirely before (or while) they went down the geothermal and other renewables path. Thus there was incentive to maximize the efficiency (lower the cost) of the new energy sources.

In Hawaii, there is no such mandate. Instead there is voter pressure on elected officials to "do something" about high energy costs. What Hawaiian citizens fail to see is that energy needs to cost more and that we therefore need to restructure our lives around a different cost model. Their refusal to either see this (or never have had it explained to them) leads them to take the quickest route out of trouble (coal fire ethanol plants) without regard for the downstream costs and problems that this decision will bring.

I see this mentality generally over the entire world. There are spots here and there that are doing differently but for the most part, I see this same sort of attitude, resulting in the same sort of short-sighted decisions.

Then, when you couple such short-sighted decisions with corrupt management, you have the witch's brew that we see in Hawaii.

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

Iceland was once desperately poor (Albania & Iceland were the poorest parts of Europe) and had trouble affording almost anything imported.

Early moves (1930s - 1950s) were hydro for electricity (today still 70% of electricity) and geothermal for space heating ^ hot water (smells of sulfur), There was a strategic decision to start pilot geothermal electrical generation instead of more economic hydroprojects in order to gain experience and diversify.

Today, a new 540 MW constant hydro project will be followed by a series of geothermal projects and some small hydro projects.


I was once hosting the PM of NZ here, who was on one of my boards, and he was apalled to hear that geothermal was opposed by the local "greenies".
It's huge and successful in kiwiland.

Apparently the initial projects on the big isle were a bit mismanaged - and let out a little rotten-egg smell several times. On the world's largest active volcano.

Ah, stupidity.

Wow. So sad. And those islands have lots of sun and lots of big hills. Perfect for solar thermal and pumped hydro storage.

Reminds me of when I was a kid reading about Scott freezing to death at the south pole, and at the same time, griping about the "endlessly screaming wind" Even when I was 10, I knew it was easy to get real heat from screaming wind, the crudest kind of windmill, and a bad bearing rubbing away on the rotating shaft.

Scott could have made himself and buddies into hotdogs-- with a little bit of imagination. Instead, he died of stupidity. Like us?



100 MW Wind Energy
80 MW Pumped Storage Hydro
50 MW* Biofuel in New Plant
83 MW Biofuel or Bio-diesel in Existing Plants
85 MW Solar Energy
40 MW Garbage to Energy
30 MW Geothermal
25 MW Biomass
7 MW Landfill Gas

They are looking at a 10 to 80 MW pumped storage unit on the Big Island.


Many alternative energy projects on the US mainland that originated during the big energy awareness push of the late 1970s, very soon languished during the Reagan 'Morning in 'America' years of the 1980s.

For the most part, a return to cheap fossil fuel was the culprit. Second, many of these first generation projects were beset by all sorts of technical problems that often were left unfixed due to lack of funds and/or interest. Add a bit of poor planning and execution, and it is not surprising that many of these early efforts went nowhere.

Since that time, Europe has had over two decades of largely positive experience with wind power, such that wind power, in Europe at least, can now arguably be considered a mature technology. (One sign of this is how all large wind turbines now tend to look alike. Such was not the case when wind power was just getting started, as there was a large array of widely
differing types of wind machines under consideration.)

Though I am naturally pessimistic, I would think that if wind power has any chance of succeeding in the US at all, Hawaii should at least be one of most promising areas, as it has great wind coupled with the added expense of having to import fossil fuels long distances. However, if such turns out not to be the case, then reasons would likely be political and structural rather than technical.

Maui actually has a fair number of wind turbines installed. There's also a field of wind turbines on the big island which were destroyed in a hurricane a few years back. They're still standing, but the blades have been ripped off.

Hey, good to see the post generated some good comments.

I'm on Oahu now - even though in my dark moments I see eventual nightmare famine scenarios for this island once the barges full of food ever stop. With current agriculture I think this island only would produce about 10 calories of food per day per person, and that's if you're willing to chew pineapple rinds.

The big isle has potential for about every kind of renewable, as has been pointed out, and the population density isn't terrible, but there is a huge excess of stupidity here.

Not only are they planning to make ethanol using coal, but the real reason geothermal isn't at least powering the entire big isle is that the "environmentalists" (which is to say, NIMBY idiots) have made common cause with the "Pele Worshippers" (which is to say, delusional fractional-Hawaiian NIMBY locals) to successfully protest againt geothermal power. All these idiots still want their beer cold, though, so they import oil, and probably soon coal for the purpose.

And lest anyone think I'm ranting about environmentalists, I am one - by any standard. I just don't use the 'e' word anymore since it has been co-opted for use by idiots from Rush Limbaugh to NIMBY's who don't want to look at windmills.

The discussion about the Hawaii state economy is interesting... and I wonder how it will play out. Will a lot of military $ flow to the state? Certainly, its tourist economy is a coal-mine canary for oil price, since without cheap unnecessary air travel the current economy melts down. (yet another future justification for coal power).

Other scenarios that flit through my head after lights-out at night: Will the US, its dollar crashing, eventually decide to sell Hawaii to China as it retreats to more defensible borders? I can't see the majority of US citizens, who can no longer vacation in Hawaii, feeling any 'aloha' for any problems people here have, since the weather's great. We we have another "pearl harbor" incident? It would be dead easy for anyone with a nuke to put it on a sailboat, tie it up in the harbor, and then leave. No need for ICBM's... though if Korea ever DID launch a nuke at the USA, this is about the only significant target their missile could reach. Of course Jan Hanson, on the big isle, notes that I will soon be inevitably nuked, and I have asked him to raise a toast to me as he watches the fireworks from there.

In the meanwhile, if property prices crash like I think they will, maybe I'll get my little farm in Puna. Until then, I'm trying without success to unload some jungle lots I bought cheap... and no takers on Craigslist.

(If SacredCow would care to hint to Warren B that I have a Master Plan for making the big isle into a geothermal-powered Repository of Knowledge, that would be cool, hint hint).

Ah, Hawaii.

All my family is in Hawaii, so it's tempting to go back. But it could end up being a really bad place in the post-carbon age. Even the Big Island has twice the population it had in the days when Malthusian pressures forced King Kamehameha to go to war against the other islands.

And climate change could make it worse. Storms, drought, floods. They've been having some extreme weather there the past few years. If things really go to heck, it might be hard to move. The isolation during that week after 9/11 when all the planes were grounded was pretty scary.

Hawaii appears to be sort of a petri dish where small scale post-peak events can play themselves out and be studied. It's got all that's bad about our current society (long supply lines, zero native fossil fuel supplies, a consumer culture largely based on tourism and the escapism of well-heeled mainlanders).

The sad part is that Hawaii is immensly rich in natural energy: wind , geothermal, ocean, solar. It strikes me as patently absurb to import coal to Hawaii to make ethanol. It's almost like Hawaii actually IS a military outpost in the middle of nowhere, and one which requires constant major infusions of energy and other vital commodities.

Taking the miltary angle one step further, one could legitimately ask whether Hawaii is a military asset or a military liability. It proved to be both during WW II. First it was a target, and then it was a forward staging base. What it really is int these complex days is open to speculation.

Regardless, it's my view that any society that is highly dependent upon
the miltary for its very existence is an inherently very unhealthy society. Of course, in the case of Hawaii we have tourism, but that source of income could evaporate pretty fast in a post peak world.

No, from what I've seen I cannot be bullish about Hawaii, regardless of all its abundant natural energy. The Hawaiians could make it work, but they probably won't.

Sounds like my homestate of Alaska.

Long supply lines, isolation, military, tourism. But with more land size and less people maybe they will be able to live off potatoes and burn wood.

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

'but there is a huge excess of stupidity here.'...and I thought Florida had cornered the market on stupid and corrupt politicians. The mortgage financing disaster has the Florida politicians running scared. The last couple of months more people are moving out of the state than are moving in...first time ever.

Low wages plus skyrocketing insurance, taxes, and now the talk of rising sea levels is devastating this state...and the morons in charge have been doing corrupt deals with the insurers and developers for so long that they dont know how to really govern...they are clueless. Sort of like the mess at the federal level only more in my face.

River: I am shocked at what the average Florida homeowner pays in property taxes + house(hurricane) insurance. Add in health insurance and it appears that most of a median wage is gone before the earner sees it.

The government lives on tourism. Tourists make you stupid. Soon, not a problem.


Call for pedal powered inventions, a wood chipper would be pretty cool.

WRT tax on cars for distance driven. London has a congestion charging scheme when you have to pay for certain roads, I believe camaras can read the number plates to enforce this, cleaner vehicles are exempt from the charge. a similar system charging based on the weight of the vehicle and the road / time would seem cheap to implement and encourage smaller cars and possibly even car sharing :O. Of course a decent electric train network is no brainer really. Europe has been doing that for years its not even new technology.

Is there potential for recycling airliner bodies into train carriages?

Can The plugin in hybrid model can be used for trains? Then a smaller section of track will need to be electrified, the train can charge up off this to make the rest of the journey on its battery power or another power source. Maybe just electricfying a distance each side of a station to cope with acceleration and regen breaking? The storage required would be pretty large and expensive, maybe wouldf be better just to do the same with kinetic nergy and shoot the train from section to section, not much fun to ride tho

This is what an electric car should be like

Airliners are built for one set of stresses and rail cars another. What is safe at 450 mph thirty thousand feet above the ground is not safe at thirty miles per hour forty five inches off the ground.

I don't think we'll see battery powered trains. The rails are electrified or the electric engines are fed by diesel generators. I've not put pen to paper but the last time I had my hand on a train throttle I watched the amps scoot right up to 1K when I pushed it forward.

Battery might make sense for local runs - this town consistently gets a string of seven ethanol cars and one box car every evening on a local delivery circuit. So instead of two engines we'd see two engines and one battery car??? Could be ...

Tax the fuel used. Its just that simple. Any other scheme is a distraction as it would take time and debate as different groups sought advantage in the situation. Leave it this way until declining revenues for roads due to declining use of liquid fuels force a change ...

Plus a typical locomotive runs 600 volts or so which gives 600 kilowatts or two thirds of a megawatt. Hauling batteries around is to be avoided. Overhead lines or electrified rails make sense especially if they are double duty transmission lines. We Will go electric - or become less numerous.

The advantage of the horse is that is more self replicating than the horsepower.

However, you could evacuate the air from a long subway tunnel, and use maglev to reach incredibly high speeds. A company got some interest from the Swiss government for a system that could reach speeds of 500 mph on relatively short runs. I think airline fuselages would make a lot of sense in that application, since you'd only need partial vaccum to reach useful speeds. Of course you would regenerate some of the energy while decelerating.

But what about the energy cost of the tunneling?

Take a walk an look at real structures and infrastructure - something that is heavily used and at least 15 years old. Things shift. Water and ice heave. Wind a rain and sun wear and corrode. Things get filthy and wear out. Vibrations causes cracks and damage. Look at the highways and bridges. Even the simplest of our structures is vulnerable - breaks, is damaged, fails.

This comment is not directed at you, but I am really amazed by the constant need to dream up ever more fanciful, obviously unworkable, and unmaintainable schemes, when we have perfectly viable and proven solutions for public transportation.

Just build electric trains - they work, they're proven, they're efficient and we could be doing it right now, without inventing a damn thing.

I attended the ASPO-Boston convention last year and commuted daily from the hotel on a subway built in 1897.

Rails have been replaced a couple of times (ties more than that), stations were rebuilt in the 1920s to handle larger #s of people and are being rebuilt again for ADA access. Wire and electrical replaced 2 or 3 times. But the expensive tunnel bore is still there, in use, and that may have been half the cost.

The new Swiss tunnel infrastructure has a design life of 100 years, ALL of it. Major maintenance done once every ten years when it is shut down for a day.

Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure,


Funny you should mention hybrid trains:


I saw a short piece on it on TV (BBC, I think) last week.

In this case, it's a diesel/battery system. Parts of rural Japan do not have electrified rail. (yet)

Call for pedal powered inventions

Try this sound system



Pedal powered anything is next to useless. If you've got a task that can be powered by simple rotary motion, an engine will be more efficient.

A man pedaling hard for 8h will generate about 0.1 horsepower of work (~75W) and require an extra 2500 calories. Say, 600Wh/day. His thermal efficiency is 19%, but you still need to feed him at night, so overall, plus factoring in mechanical losses, he's maybe 10% efficient. Probably much less.

A diesel engine in a car is likely 40% efficient, 45% efficient engines are a US government fleet goal, and power stations at 59% are quite possible. If the engine doesn't directly meet one's needs, it can be hooked up to a generator and battery charger.

Furthermore, human food (bread, etc) requires more energy intensive processing than fuel does. In the future, food will be EXPENSIVE.

In a 25th century "utopia", FedEx would use e-bikes, not pedal bikes, because the cost of the extra food will make human power uneconomical.

We are at "Peak Lard-ass" too--getting energy out of people requires putting energy into people.

Re: South Africa: Fuel Supply High and dry

What, no comments on the problems in South Africa? The situation in SA is a microcosm of all the developing countries outside the OECD. Consider these points:

"SA's fuel demand is growing at roughly 5%/year," says Tony Twine, MD of Econometrix, an economics consultancy. "You cannot put up a decent-sized facility to meet that demand - it's too small. To be economically feasible, a refinery cannot operate at less than 50% capacity."


Chevron thinks that fuel growth will reach 6%/year over the next 10 years, while BP believes that demand, which has increased significantly in the past five years, will double by 2010. "Every litre of extra demand locally will be imported," says BP's Maseko.

These folks already have a very large CTL supply, yet, they are looking to import increasingly large volumes of crude and products. They don't have the capacity to offload the increased volumes of fuel, nor do they have the pipelines to move the stuff inland. And, nowhere is there any mention of renewable energy sources, only more FF's, particularly coal.

The article sounds like the MSM in the U.S., missing the point of Peak Oil completely. If we are at Peak Oil, the possibility of increasing their imports of crude and products will be near zero. And, their neighbors in Zimbabwe might be interested in consuming some of that transport fuel as well. What would it take to make them wake up to the basic problem and will they be able to adjust before their economy goes in the dumpster? Must we all enter a hyperinflation collapse, like Zimbabwe, before our so-called "leaders" actually wakeup?

E. Swanson


The spot prices are pretty interesting. Tapis is over $85, and WTI at Cushing is still over $83, same in Louisiana. It sure does look like refiners are having to bid against each other for crude oil.

Sorry for the slightly off topicness, but was wondering what the ideas where for water supply. I'm guessing rainwater collection, sand filter/reed bed then UV treatment. Anyone got any experience with any similar systems or alternatives.

Recommend the interview on the first link very telling

My $0.02 is now worth less than 1p!!

While this is not all encompassing, you might at least start with The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting and then go from there.

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

Thanks, Grey.

If you sin during the week is everything forgiven if you put something on the plate at church on Sunday? A couple of the Drumbeat links discuss Australia's booming exports of coal and LNG. Those same captains of industry just paid $A1000 a head to hear a dinner speech by Al Gore in Sydney.

Memo to the veep: they listen but don't act. Moreover (as Westexas predicts) within a few years someone will realise we aren't keeping enough for ourselves.

BAE faces US lawsuit over Saudi allegations


"Mike Turner, chief executive, and the rest of the board are among the defendants in a legal action filed in Washington, along with Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who is alleged to have received hundreds of millions of pounds in bribes as part of BAE Systems' agreement to supply military aircraft and other equipment to Saudi Arabia."

Bandar Bush? The adopted Saudi of the Bush family? Hard to believe that Bandar did anything wrong! Certainly our justice department will get this situation straightened out in short order!

The new British empire? UK plans to annex south Atlantic


Its heating up now in more ways that one!!

"Hint to future power-mad U.S. administrations: if you suddenly feel a strong, irrational urge to conquer something, pick a small country closer to home, maybe a tiny Caribbean island. With persistence and luck, you might nail down the future supply of coconuts."