DrumBeat: September 25, 2007

Multiple Studies Reveal Dire Meltdown in Arctic

Ice-free by 2015?

This news doesn't bode well for the future of the Arctic sea ice and has left Francis and other scientists wondering, "Is this the beginning of a precipitous decline in the sea ice?" Francis said.

In another study that came out earlier this year, Stroeve compared current measurements of sea ice melt with the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's models—and what she found gave her cause for worry.

"We're about 30 years ahead of where the climate models say we should be," Stroeve told LiveScience.

A business that grows organically

Monk represents the growing maturity of an industry that for decades has struggled with a reputation as being on the fringe. Although he lives on a small property on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula (with horses and chooks), he is a tertiary-trained professional who can mix with the corporate world. And in a refreshing change from the glumness that so often accompanies environmental messages, Monk is an optimist.

"I'm not much of a Henny Penny character; I don't think the sky is going to fall in," he says. "I am actually excited about the coming decades of peak oil [shortages] and water scarcity. I'm more excited for my son and daughter than I am scared..."

Oil Falls Below $79 as Al-Naimi Says Markets Are in Turmoil

Crude oil fell below $79 a barrel in New York as Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, said oil markets are in turmoil and companies resumed production in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP: How can a big oil company be doing badly?

The answer seems to be that BP is in the wrong segments of the oil and gas business at the wrong time, and poor management has crippled the company. Its shares are up 10% this year, less than the S&P 500 and virtually all of its competitors.

BP is heavily into the refining and natural gas businesses where margins have not been as good as they are in oil exploration.

Nigeria is looking to rework contracts

Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other foreign oil companies operating in Nigeria may soon have to give the government a greater share of revenue from deep-water oil production, Nigeria's petroleum minister said Monday.

Peak oil made me do it: Adrienne Langman (podcast)

The idea that the world's oil supply is going to end, and maybe not that far into the future is gaining acceptance.

Experts describe it as "peak oil", a time when the production of oil reaches a climax, then goes into a permanent decline.

Peak oil had a big effect on Adrienne Langman, the author of "Choosing Eden, the real dirt on the coming energy crisis".

She decided to move away from a comfortable existence in the city and away from her family, to a self sustaining lifestyle in the country.

MIT teams with BP on clean energy

The partnership will establish an energy research program, the BP-MIT Advanced Conversion Research Project, which will investigate ways to convert coal and coal-like energies into liquid and gassified fuels and chemicals while reducing coal's notorious carbon dioxide emissions.

Gasoline prices still rising

Drivers took a hit at the pumps over the last week, the Energy Department said Monday, as gasoline continued its unusual September climb in most of the nation and U.S. diesel prices topped $3 a gallon for the first time in more than a year.

Tolls may be the state’s best option for better roads

Gov. Bob Riley has asked the state Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of new roads that would use tolls to cover construction costs.

For Thruway, a rocky road

With motorists showing unprecedented travel restraint, the Thruway Authority will consider toll hikes, revisions to its E-ZPass discount plan, staff cuts and other measures to stay out of the red, the authority's executive director said Monday.

...Fleischer said the trend on the Thruway mirrors what's happening on toll roads around the country as motorists finally seem to be adopting a pattern of driving less because of high fuel prices.

Price hikes up for RTD vote tonight

RTD officials say an accross-the-board fare increase is needed because fuel prices and the cost of providing mandatory access-a-Ride transit service to qualified disabled clients have been steadily rising.

Fatigued consumers pinching pennies as bad news seems to snowball

Heightened gas prices might seem like an obvious and oft-hyped reason for economic slowdowns, but more money spent on necessary fuel means less discretionary income for other items.

Gas also filters through the economic food chain in other, perhaps unexpected, ways: If it takes more money to fuel a delivery truck headed to the grocery store, eventually, the grocery bill will reflect the increase.

Nicaraguan Seizure Could Hurt Investments

In response to a tax dispute with Exxon Mobil Corp., Nicaraguan officials took control of a fuel storage terminal owned by the Texas-based oil company, leaving foreign investors and the U.S. wondering if history is about to repeat itself.

SYRIA: Oil price rises could provoke unrest

Over 40 years of subsidising fuel and other vital commodities have benefited the rich more than the poor, encouraged smuggling and cost the state more than it can afford, say Syrian government officials.

Kenya: State Should Tame Rogue Oil Dealers

It is sad that whenever international oil prices increase, Kenyan companies immediately adjust pump prices. But when global prices fall, the firms pretend not to notice. This is an unfair and exploitative business practice for which the Government has a solution: freeze oil prices until the next consignment arrives. So far, no Government official has dared to condemn the oil companies.

Zapatistas Back Mexican Rebel Group

Mexico's Zapatista rebels, who waged a short-lived armed struggle against the government 13 years ago, issued a declaration supporting a Marxist guerrilla group believed to be behind recent attacks on the country's oil and gas pipelines.

China opens gas door to foreigners

Domestic gas companies will be allowed to sign more global cooperation deals in a move designed to channel funds and technology into China's gas industry. The State Council has revised a regulation, allowing more "state-designated" companies to set up ventures with foreign partners jointly to explore methane trapped in coal seams.

Putin Phones Norway PM on Shtokman Project

Russian President Vladimir Putin talked on the telephone with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg about Norway's potential participation in the massive Shtokman project in the Barents Sea, the Prime Minister's office said.

Kuwait wants Shell out of China refinery plan

Kuwait wants to drop Royal Dutch Shell as a partner and is instead considering BP in a project to build a $5 billion oil refinery in Guangdong in China, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA reported on Tuesday.

Lufthansa raises fuel surcharge for intercontinental and European flights

The crude oil and kerosine prices have reached a new record high in the past weeks,' it said in a statement.

Will Your Future Car Pay for Itself?

A revolutionary energy technology has been born. In the not-too-distant future, it will be capable of turning parked cars into power plants. Imagine owning a car that pays for itself, by selling electricity to the local utility while parked.

State pledges $1.5 million for Hudson Valley solar power

Empire State Development, New York’s economic development arm, Monday announced its commitment to provide up to $1.5 million in support of solar-related companies. The money will be available directly to companies that relocate to the Hudson Valley.

Cutting solar panels' high price tag

For all the technical advances in the thriving solar power industry, the large up-front costs of solar electricity in the residential market remains a stubborn barrier to wide adoption.

Jatropha: fuel for thought?

Some see the plant’s ability to grow in arid conditions and without much water as one of its benefits, but critics dispute this.

“Information gathered from elsewhere in the world is contradictory and has to be tested locally to ensure limited environmental impact and sustainability before it is introduced,” Sehoole says.

NRG eyeing 1st nuke plant in decades

Power producer NRG Energy Inc. plans to submit the first application for a new nuclear reactor in the U.S. in nearly 30 years, the company's chief executive said Monday.

Oil is up, and this time the dollar is down

Petroleum is bought and sold in dollars. That meant that as oil prices climbed, so did the global demand for dollars. And the appetite for dollars grew even larger during recurrent oil shocks, as rising risk aversion prompted investors to seek safety in U.S. Treasury securities.

The U.S. currency was also buoyed by the inclination of oil-exporting countries to invest their sale proceeds in dollar-denominated securities. When they spent the funds on goods, they usually bought American.

But since early 2002, the correlation between oil and the dollar has been negative. When oil rises, the U.S. currency falls.

Shock and Awe - James Howard Kunstler

There is still broad disagreement among commentators as to whether we are headed into a wild inflation or a grim deflation, but the emerging pattern looks to me like a big ocean wave that gathers itself into a high cresting peak and then collapses under its own weight — that is, a technical wild inflation resolving into the low slop of people unable to buy anything. However you cut it, and from whatever angle you look at it, the bottom line will be a steeply lower standard of living for most Americans.

Abu Dhabi's Overseas Energy Play

Abu Dhabi is putting a new twist on the concept of recycling petrodollars by recycling its earnings into Canadian energy properties.

Norway Maintains Oil & Gas Estimates

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate believes there are between 1.6 and 5.8 billion standard cubic meters (Sm3) oil equivalents (o.e.) oil, gas, condensate and NGL left to find on the Norwegian shelf.

About 45 per cent of this is liquid and 55 per cent gas. Of the total petroleum volumes about 30 per cent is expected to lie in the Barents Sea (outside area with overlapping claims), 35 per cent in the Norwegian Sea and 35 per cent in the North Sea.

Canada’s oil nationalism

Cries of “O Canada” have not all been of the patriotic kind recently. An independent panel has recommended that Alberta jack up the province’s tax-take from the energy sector. Stocks in Canadian oil majors have plunged as a result.

Reports of the sector’s doom are much exaggerated, but it is easy to see why the reaction has been so dramatic. Alberta’s reserves may be second only to Saudi Arabia’s – albeit in the form of oil sands rather than conventional crude. To some, they offer hope of countering the market power of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Law of the Sea on the Move in U.S. Senate

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week digs into the major treaty governing international waters: the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

One Molecule Could Cure Our Addiction to Oil

On a blackboard, it looks so simple: Take a plant and extract the cellulose. Add some enzymes and convert the cellulose molecules into sugars. Ferment the sugar into alcohol. Then distill the alcohol into fuel. One, two, three, four — and we're powering our cars with lawn cuttings, wood chips, and prairie grasses instead of Middle East oil.

Unfortunately, passing chemistry class doesn't mean acing economics. Scientists have long known how to turn trees into ethanol, but doing it profitably is another matter. We can run our cars on lawn cuttings today; we just can't do it at a price people are willing to pay.

Is Global Warming Drowning Africa?

Africa has always been predicted to be the continent that will be worst hit by global warming and climate change. Could those predictions be coming true? Extreme rains and floods have made for a very wet summer in Africa, and there is no end in sight to the downpours that are swallowing towns and forcing over a million to flee their homes in at least 20 countries. Since June, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya have had hundreds of thousands of people uprooted from their homes. Scores have died since. West Africa has seen its worst floods in years, with 300,000 fleeing the earth-colored waters of northern Ghana. Meanwhile, forecasts by African meteorologists say the rains have yet to peak. October may be the worst month to come in this very wet year.

Climate shift is biggest security risk: Australia

Climate change, not war or terrorism, will be the century's biggest security challenge with China unlikely to be able to feed its vast and growing population as a result, Australia's top policeman has warned.

World energy revolution needed for climate: U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday the world needs a revolution on energy that transcends oil, gas and coal to prevent problems from climate change.

"Ultimately, we must develop and bring to market new energy technologies that transcend the current system of fossil fuels, carbon emissions and economic activity. Put simply, the world needs a technological revolution," Rice told delegates at a special U.N. conference on climate change

Declining Net Oil Exports - A Temporary Decline or a Long Term Trend?

To answer the question in the title of this paper, we believe, for reasons outlined below, that the current decline in world net oil exports is probably the start of a long term trend, as a result of declining production and/or increasing consumption in key exporting countries.

India committed to Iran pipeline despite missing Tehran talks

The three countries are yet to agree on the price of gas that Iran plans to sell to energy-starved India, the oil ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, told AFP.

"Of course we are committed to the pipeline, there is no doubt about it. But the price is the issue," he said.

BP results set to be 'dreadful'

Tony Hayward, BP's new chief executive, has prepared staff for a far-reaching shake-up of the oil company as he delivered a blunt warning that third-quarter revenues would be "dreadful".

Mr Hayward told a staff meeting in Houston he would be announcing a streamlining of the company's organisation next month, the Financial Times has learnt. He said that BP's financial performance was at its lowest since 1992-93.

Record winter heating prices expected

Consumers will likely pay record prices to heat their homes this winter, with a particularly big jump expected in heating oil bills, according to a report to be released today showing how a recent surge in oil prices could hit homeowners.

The average U.S. household will pay $992 in heating costs this winter, up $94, or 10.5%, from last winter, says the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA), a group of state energy aid officials.

China discovers "new" glaciers on roof of world

China has discovered 42 glaciers on the roof of the world, the Qinghai-Tibet plateau where ice is shrinking due to global warming, and the group could be the biggest of them all, state media said on Tuesday.

Beijing has become increasingly concerned about global warming as studies show glaciers retreating on the plateau, where China's largest rivers originate.

2007 Houston World Oil Conference October 17-20, 2007

The Association for the Study Of Peak Oil has extended the regular registration period for the World Oil Conference in Houston in October. Fees will increase after Sept. 28.

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


The week after we saw bank runs in the UK, a measure of calm has returned to the markets thanks to a combination of central bank bailouts, government deposit guarantees and interest rate cuts. For all that heavy intervention, one derivatives market expert warns that we are still at the beginning of the beginning of the credit crunch.

On the Canadian energy scene, the debate over the Alberta oil and gas royalties review continues. Alberta, which has lower royalties than comparable jurisdictions, wants its fair share, but that could affect Ottawa's tax take. Investors concerned about the royalty issue seem keen to extract themselves from tar sands investments. With the Canadian dollar at parity with the US dollar for the first time since 1976, there are concerns about the ability of the Canadian economy to adapt and compete.

Concerns on the climate front center on the potential for methane-powered runaway warming thanks to new research on the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. The direct relationship between carbon offsets and increasing child labour in the third world is also worth highlighting.

Are we headed for an epic bear market?

One of the world's leading experts on credit derivatives, Das is the author of a 4,200-page reference work on the subject, among a half-dozen other tomes. As a developer and marketer of the exotic instruments himself over the past 30 years. He seemed like the ideal industry insider to help us get to the bottom of the recent debt crunch -- and I expected him to defend and explain the practice.

I started by asking the Calcutta-born Australian whether the credit crisis was in what Americans would call the "third inning." This was pretty amusing, it seemed, judging from the laughter. So I tried again. "Second inning?" More laughter. "First?"

Still too optimistic. Das, who knows as much about global money flows as anyone in the world, stopped chuckling long enough to suggest that we're actually still in the middle of the national anthem before a game destined to go into extra innings. And it won't end well for the global economy....

....When you add it all up, according to Das' research, a single dollar of "real" capital supports $20 to $30 of loans. This spiral of borrowing on an increasingly thin base of real assets, writ large and in nearly infinite variety, ultimately created a world in which derivatives outstanding earlier this year stood at $485 trillion -- or eight times total global gross domestic product of $60 trillion.

Needless to say, regarding the suburban wasteland, in 2006 I was just building on prior work by Jim Kunstler.

Published on 21 Aug 2006 by GraphOilogy / Energy Bulletin. Archived on 21 Aug 2006.
Net Oil Exports Revisited
by Jeffrey J. Brown

A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines.

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website.

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.25% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

From today's Housing Bubble Blog:

The Recordnet. “The sea of foreclosed homes in San Joaquin County and its flotsam of tall weeds, partying teens and green pools are testing neighbors’ patience and code enforcers’ limits.”

“Auctions of houses owned by people who failed to make their mortgage payments are held at weekdays on the steps of the San Joaquin County Courthouse. Most of the sessions, though, there’s nothing to do because there are no bidders.”

“And while those houses await a buyer, or change of ownership, they’re often empty. And sometimes even if the property is occupied, it isn’t maintained.”

“‘It’s a real sticky situation in making sure our code enforcers aren’t overworked. It’s very difficult for our staff to track down the folks who are taking off,’ Tracy Spokesman Matt Robinson said. ‘They’re just walking away from their homes.’”

WT: Just read your paper-good work-I think everyone is waiting with baited breath for the projected numbers. On a related subject, one thing I never see on TOD is a comparison of GDP/oil consumption. I think it is informative for two reasons: 1. it shows how much GDP it is possible to squeeze out of a barrel of oil consumption 2. it implies which countries/economies will survive/thrive in an oil-deprived future. Having said this, I realize there are complicating factors such as overrealiance on coal consumption (China) but anyways here are some quick numbers from CIA Factbook (GDP-PPP/oil consumption-ignore # of zeros)

1. India 1699
2. China 1563
3. UK 1055
4. Germany 993
5. Italy 933
6. Japan 756
7. Russia 698
8. USA 630
9. Mexico 583
10.Canada 515
11.KSA 201

India is producing 8.4 dollars of wealth for every barrel consumed compared to KSA, 3.3 compared to Canada. I think this indicates that the future bidding war for declining exports is going to slam middle class consumers hard in Canada, USA and Japan. It appears that India, China, and some parts of Europe are well positioned for the bidding war.

I don't know if there is any way to do it, but it would be interesting to look at Essential, or non-discretionary, GDP relative to energy consumption. Of course, "essential" is a slippery concept. What is "essential" in the US is a luxury in most of the world.

But I have read, and it seems reasonable, that the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans. As American consumers have to pay more for food and energy--and as their access to credit dries up--their discretionary spending will collapse.

One flaw: If my country is too poor to import any oil, and we have none to start with, our GDP-PPP/oil consumption number is going to be infinite. This doesn't mean we are well positioned for the bidding war-- it means we are out of it. And bidding wars for natural resources only work as long as the results of the market equal or better than the results that can be obtained by other means, in some famous German's phrase. In that regard, Chinese armies can walk everywhere in the Middle East. American armies will have to fly in on synfuel.

Ole: Good point-it depends how it plays out. In reality, globalization is about making the world more fun for wealthy Americans, wealthy Chinese, wealthy Indians. If the forces behind increased globalization can hold it together for a while, the wealthy in all these countries will bid against the working and middle class. Globalization wants the oil to flow towards the highest return (India and China)-other interests might work against this "free market globalization" drive.

These numbers are deceptive. China 'squeezes' most of its GDP out of coal.

Alan: To a certain extent. China consumes 24% more coal than the USA. The USA consumes 217% more oil than China. The USA economy is 28% larger (PPP).

Shouldn't that be 280% larger?

Last time I checked the Chinese GDP wasn't 10 trillion.

That being the case, do explain how 1 billion Chinese (and their PPP), who make less than 3000 USD on average, can be expected to outbid those that make 15 times as much on average?

Numbers alone wont matter (IF) there is mass starvation.

Party: Don't complain to me-complain to the CIA Factbook-your taxes pay to keep it updated, not mine.

I'm just pointing out how silly we at TOD can be sometimes.

TOD is great in that it attracts a myriad of people with different ides that all share some common ground 'peak oil'. It's really entertaining to see the various opinions (expressed as facts) that get thrown around. Yet the common denominator of all the 'doomerbation' talks centers on one thing: The USA will be screwed.

Yet magically, places like China will succeed.

The last time I checked, China can not even feed their own population anymore. One of the most common 'facts' expressed here is that in a PO world, the world will not be able to feed its people and 4+ billion will die. Yet this magically won't affect any of those countries that we deem 'better' than the USA.

The same goes for various economies. China and the USA are dependent upon each other. If one goes down, so does the other, as there isn't a consumer bloc large enough to 'absorb' the loss of 300 million happy consumers. Chinas own population doesn't make enough for them to sustain their current production, much less thrive. This also ignores the fact that we repeatedly state that economic growth is directly tied to oil consumption (this trend has vanished in the past 30 years), yet these same countries are expected to outperform the fat old USA, despite this dwindling resource.

Now this isn't an attack on you, BrianT. I'm merely expressing my bemusement at the whole doomer-train.

Excellent right on post PG. Plus china will need to use a significant amount of money to buy imported food (which would be much more expensive in this scenario.

I don't think any "doomer" think China will "succeed."

Beating us in a short-term bidding war for oil is does not mean they will avoid dieoff and other unpleasantness.

But there is a significant group that seems to think that the rich will take the main hit and therefore maybe a powerdown is not such a bad thing. Whereas a more realistic assessment is that the rich will be the least effected and the poor will go to hell.

Maybe so, but they ain't doomers.

To paraphrase from Fight Club, "the rich" need "the poor" to cook their meals, haul their trash, connect their calls, drive their ambulances, and guard them while they sleep.

"The rich" will feel this just as much as anyone else. It will just take longer for the effects to kick in.

By which time the poor will have starved to death after trashing what remained of their natural environments.


PartyGuy, you draw so much fire here because you keep misrepresenting what people say. "The doomers" have not said that "China will succeed." They say that all oil-dependent countries are screwed. If they tend to focus on the USA being screwed, it's because they're American.

To put it short: they're saying "Oh no, EVEN America is screwed!" not "Oh no, ONLY America is screwed!"

Party: Don't know why you label me a "doomer". I don't have a horse in this race-the numbers are what they are. If the numbers favor the USA, that is just as good. Reality doesn't care what you want or what I want. Flag waving only makes you money when you are selling something.

China can't feed its own population, nitwit??
China's growth in per capita meat, fish, fruit consumption has been greater than anywhere else in the history of the world. Check out historical stats at fao.org.
And think before you open your mouth in future.

10.21 trillion at purchasing power parity ("PPP"), which is of course an estimate. But oil is priced in actual currency, so China doesn't (yet) outbid others for oil, which may be why they use so much coal. However, a huge number of poor people can conceivably outbid a smaller number of richer people up to a point, because some uses for resources are of very high value, while others are not. For example, even fairly poor people will pay, in effect, several dollars per kWH to get their cell phone charged by the guy in their village who owns a couple of solar panels and a rack with some wires and plugs. You'd have to be quite rich to afford that rate for the far larger quantity of electricity required to air-condition the typical incompetently designed American or European building that's still a stifling hotbox even when it's only 65F/18C and cloudy outside.


I think if you look at per capita oil usage, it might explain why they will be able to outbid us. High cost oil doesn't affect individuals there nearly as much as it does here so a 5:1 income ratio may be insignificant if their per capita oil usage is 10:1 (merely numbers I am inventing--hey, I should work for the government or CERA). I would guess most of their oil usage goes into industry (at least until they become the car economy they are trying to achieve). They also have a tremendous number of dollars to use to buy oil right now (and into the foreseeable future) and can use those to outbid us. We, on the other hand, have a tremendous amount of debt which, when we stop getting access to additional debt, will make it very difficult to buy oil products.

I think if you look at per capita oil usage, it might explain why they will be able to outbid us.

Does any of this matter considering the fact that by 2020 not much oil will be exported anyway (according to WT's ELM)?

Yes, because it means we crash more quickly.

And 700 million Chinese that die form starvation wont matter at all.

just my opinion,, FWIW
The 700,000,000 Chinese will not sit idly as their children die from starvation

they may be killed as they invade neighboring countries seeking food and resources,,but I don't think they will starve to death

I don't know. They are quite used to it.

Being starved that is.

I wonder if the american is used to it.

One thing lacking in the equation is that it is not the singular chinese that will buy the oil, but china as a whole communist country.

Alan and Brian T,
Also, both China and India have substantial proportions of their populations that are still in the pre-fossil fuel village economy. Their actual cash income in the pre-industrialised areas is equivalent to the Village economies of Africa, Latin America and non-industrial parts of the middle east, places like rural Afganistan, the tribal areas of Pakistan, and North and South Yemen.

Brian T., I think this is a very relevant metric, and one that truly needs to be researched and documented. Because, I doubt many people want the economy to collapse to a village economy-the convulsions from that collapse would be the "die off".

The bottom end though would give us a figure of what has to be replaced with renewables to have a prosperous and healthy standard of living. The US and Canada right now use about 25 bbl/year per capita for a wasteful and unsustainable lifestyle. The Europeans are vey comfortable on about 12.5 bbl/year. And somewhere below that, but likely above the Indian or Chinese consumption is a figure where we can all prosper without killing the earth. And thats what we need to shoot for with solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear plants.

I also question "no growth" assumptions. We can have all the growth we want in areas that don't use non-renewable resources. How many houses can a person live in at once, how many pair of pants can I wear comfortably? There's already a level of diminishing utility, and we're past that in many areas in the OECD nations. But there's no limit to art or music or even financial analsis.

Bob Ebersole

I don't have correlations by country worked up yet, but I have found good GDP data to do it with, at the site of Angus Maddison, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Groningen University. The GDP numbers (from year 1 to 2003!) are in an Excel spreadsheet, and are all standardized to 1990 International Geary-Khamis dollars (???). It's easy to correlate the GDP figures with consumption numbers from BP's Statistical Review Workbook.

I've worked up four global correlations:

The oil/GDP correlation clearly shows the dogleg in 1980-83 when the world figured out how to do more with less.

The most interesting thing to me is how tight the correlation is between total energy use, GDP and population, as shown by the R-sqared values of the linear trendline. I'm pretty sure there's a message in there.

I also have a correlation graph at home that looks at population growth and per capita GDP, and it shows the same tight correlation since 1820. The implication seems to be that increasing per capita GDP (and by extension, per-capita energy use) is the driver behind population growth.

Yes, there is a message in there that many are afraid to see. But that doesn't mean the message is any less real or valid.

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

Paul - could you put *year* beside select data points on your graphs, and I'm interested mostly in the first. This must have been graphed before, anyone know sources of comparable graphs?

Here's a slightly more interesting graph of total energy vs. world GDP. You can follow along the years very easily because the rise in both energy and GDP in each series is monotonic.

You can see that before and after the inflection point of the Iran-Iraq war the correlations are very tight, but the slope changes dramatically. I show the calculated GDP energy intensity for each time period - the world made an impressive improvement, virtually doubling the energy efficiency over the four years from 1980 to 1983.

Can we do that again over the time period from Peak Oil until Peak Energy? How much of the available efficiency have we already extracted from the global system? There is without doubt a lot that can be done in the OECD, but the world-wide picture may not be quite so rosy.

BTW - my assumption is that since the GDP figures are given in constant 1990 dollars, inflationary effects have been factored out.

You could just as easily plot 'number of computers' compared to 'prosperity' and get similar graphs. Statistics are there for the statistician to manipulate to fit is case. Apparently even the MSM knows that the US gets more out of a barrel of oil now than we did back in 1970s. As that trend continues, oil will continue to 'decouple' from economic growth.

Statistics are there for the statistician to manipulate to fit [h]is case.

So fool you once, shame on the statisticians, fool you twice ... shame on the statisticians? That's not how that goes.

Should you take the time to study statistics, you could then make a comment about the above graphs, like:

"After doing a straight-line fit on a time series, you must check for autocorrelation in the residuals. Often, a time series is better estimated by an auto-regressive model (AR), a moving average model (MA), or an integrated model (ARIMA)."

Instead, you take potshots and then run away, all the while ignoring the one thing that might save you from getting bamboozled in the future: thinking. How's that strategy working out for you, by the way?

I have seen this graph for USA on various occasions, showing a decoupling of US GDP growth vs US total energy consumption:

Geary-Khamis method is explained at:

I'm unsure whether inflatory effects (over time) were considered in the data aggregates used.

This is happening everywhere. This town has two new spec homes that have been reduced from $90k to $60k and they still get no takers. I count three or four others on the market and they've all been there at least ninety days. A sturdy, turn of the century prairie foursquare is also going to seed a block from the city park - very odd to see this.

Most worrying of all is my find from this weekend - a couple of acres of ground on a twisty back road containing a sturdy eighty year old farmhouse with a fairly new two car garage beside it. Here you see farm houses that are occupied(people), abandoned(windows out, nature taking over), and this one is unoccupied. Unoccupied means livable looking, in good repair, but no humans. Its a knife edge, metastable sort of state, and with hunting season right around the corner the broken windows will start. I know how its going to play out, however ... the copper pipe to nowhere in the place where a five hundred gallon propane tank tells the story; abandoned.

Finding this in a town of 800 in rural Iowa is the equivalent of finding a beach house in Carlsbad, California standing empty with a "Rent to own, $300/mo" sign out front. Everyone who lives in town wants an acreage and they come available when the old folks "move to town". That one in such good repair a few hundred yards from a paved road is sliding out of inventory tells me that the $1.65/gallon propane prices are causing some real suffering up here. This is way more telling than the two spec homes standing empty for the last year.

I shoot abandoned properties for fun; perhaps 20% of rural Iowa farmhouses are empty and decaying due to consolidation, and I'm curious to see how many new subjects I get after a hard winter with high propane prices.


Appreciate the photo documentary/introspective, SCT. Makes me re evaluate my Midwestern farm ambition without PV/solar or geothermal

We're in the far northwest corner of the state and the wind here averages 8.0M/s. Unfortunately wind brings chill and snow so every farm has a row of pine trees as the outermost barrier and then deciduous trees nearer the house. Here I need 400' of cable to get to the place where I could put a wind turbine and it would required a guyed tower construction. If it weren't for trees a bracketed tower attached to our very tall barn would be just the ticket - less than half the cost for doing a guyed setup.

Geothermal implies volcanism to me - up here you'll hear putting coolant filled loops in the ground as ... "ground loop cooling". I have a friend in Cannuckistan who works for a company that installs these beasts and up there they call them "water furnaces".

Here is another one that just went empty this year. The town of Langdon, population 53, has seen better days.


If you click "map" and adjust until you've got an area bounded by highway 9 in the north, highway 18 in the south, highway 71 in the west, and highway 4 in the east you will find around 800 geotagged photos. About two thirds of them will be abandoned farmsteads. 95% of them are gone beyond redemption.

This was a "beyond redemption" with no roof in 1971 when my parents bought it, but now it is in the upper 10% in terms of value for this town. I'm sitting right behind the left window in the second floor cupola as I write this ...


I'm sitting right behind the left window in the second floor cupola as I write this ...

From Flickr: This photo is private.

Oops! You don't have permission to view this photo.

Sorry ... all better now.

Of course you realize that a certain percentage of these are probably a case of the old folks passing away and the property being tied up in probate for a while. That scenario gets replayed pretty frequently in farm country these days.

What part of the country are you in? I think here if a place goes empty like that and they have the slightest chance of selling the furnace gets set to fifty five and someone mows the grass to discourage mischief. The propane tank being gone looks to be a very bad sign to me.

That one is four miles closer to the place where I have a second interview next Tuesday, there is good water there, and its a hilltop amenable to wind energy. I'm going to see the neighbors over the next few days and find out who owns it, just so I know the story.

The unstated portion, it seems to me, is that the farm land has already been sold or leased. You are probably quite aware of this, but I don't find it your postings.

These nice sturdy houses are the result of the wealth of that land. Without that land, they are next to worthless. Todays markets make it unprofitable to farm the smaller acreage, other fixed costs too high. It's such a shame, for your flickr photos reveal a well watered, productive land.

But this has been the case for decades. 40 acre farms gave way to 80, then quarter sections. Now we are up to several section farm and ranches becoming too small. And with each pass, the generation that left leaves their home, worthless to most of the society, and often the seller. Many farms for sale won't include the house as an improvement, the valuation is all in land. Breaking out the home often requires an employment market, and approval from the farmland buyer. Many don't want the potential problems of a homeowner impeding operations, and with the big check, drive the sale.

Nice lake and boat in your photo collection.

I've heard stories like that in New Mexico and thought it was bunk, but now you're confirming it. Here if you're buying a quarter section you can sell the three acres with the house and buildings for the price of a very nice tractor and you don't have to fool with demolition. Acreages are the McMansions of this part of the world ...

WNC Observer,

I though that too until I noticed the comment about the propane tank being gone. Around here a rural house like that may set empty for years with the land leased and the yard maybe kept mowed. It usually means that the person(s) who lived there became too infirm to live alone and have been moved by relatives into a nursing home. Since all nursing home residents hope to someday get well enough to go back home, their family keeps the house available. They cannot sell it and are fearful of renting it because of the high probability of the renters setting up a meth lab are something that will cause them a major headache/expense down the road.

The progression here is a little different TnGranny - sort of a Scandanavian cultural thing. Most people want to "stay on the farm" until a certain age arrives and then they become willing to "move to town". That is somewhere between 65 and 75 depending on their health. Whether in town or still on the farm one eventually has to "go to the home", generally long after such things would happen in other parts of the country. This resistance is facilitated by "visitors". The death of a spouse or both partners reaching the age where driving may become challenging precipitates nieces, nephews, and random neighbors dropping by for coffee. Visiting is a behavior that begins to affect people somewhere between forty and fifty. Visitors often get involved in hospital trips and such, especially if adult children live at a distance.

I dunno whats happened to that whole meth lab thing up here - I'm sure people are still doing it, but I've been on three dozen abandoned properties these last few weeks and I've seen no signs anywhere of such behavior. A couple of years ago they put ephedrine based decongestant behind the counter and made people sign for it, which has pretty well stepped on small scale local production.

I guess that your area is a whole lot less populated and has more extended families. In some of the mountain backwaters around here where many of the family still live in the same locale, that is what happens. But many of the younger folks now live in the Atlanta 'burbs or someplace further away, so the choice for the elderly is to move in with them in a tract house someplace far away or go into a nursing/retirement home nearby where many of their friends are.
They put ephedrine behind the counter here and it has slowed down the meth lab problem but has by no means eradicated it. The meth labs may even get set up in tents in the National Forest! But if someone rents a house you own and operates an illegal meth lab in it, no matter how briefly, you will have a very expensive hazardous waste cleanup to pay for. So for relatives who live in say Atlanta, they do not want to take a chance with a small isolated rental in the country away from neighbors.

I think this map may give some readers an idea of where this place is

Would a solar/wind system be any good?
There are alternatives to gas. A wood/coal stove and water heater etc.
Sounds like you could make the house self sufficient for the lower buy price.

In two separate affluent Midwestern suburbs I have seen "For Rent" signs posted on the street.

American Demographics listed Kenilworth, IL, as the the 11th most affluent in the US (average per capita income currently $108K, median household income $215K).

There are seven homes listed for rent on realtor.com in Kenilworth. Also 45 homes for sale.

electricity will not be dependable.

Brown outs will turn into black outs.

Black outs will not come back.

From the St Petersburg Times:


The fact that Mexico may be running out of oil should not alarm U.S. consumers in the short term, analysts say. The United States will most likely buy more from Canada, which is the nation's number one supplier.

New technology and high prices are helping tap vast new sources of so-called unconventional crude oil, such as Canada's tar sands. Global oil production (currently 85-million barrels a day) could reach as high as 100-million barrels per day in the next few years, analysts say."

So there you have it.

When Mexico runs out we'll just buy from Canada.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

McG: The whole subject is very similar to religion (the universe was created in six days 4000 years ago). I know otherwise intelligent people who think like this. I have said- look- take 20 minutes and research this subject on the Net and see what you think-they won't do it. This implies an extremely high level of psychological fear surrounding this subject, almost a societal phobia IMO.

Here's the world, according to my brother:

If it isn't on the front page of the newspaper or the headline on the teevee, it can't be important.
The internet is just all conspiracy theories and porn.

My response: "Deal with Reality or Reality will deal with you" (tip o' the hat to the Chimp...)

I talked to the propane dealer here a few weeks back.

"How much is a propane setup?"

"You want to replace an old one?"

"No, I have city gas but I want backup."

"Backup ..."

I ended up giving him the URL to this place. The setup was $650 for the 500 gallon tank and fixings, then 400 gallons of propane @ $1.65/gallon. The stove and the furnace would need attention, too, and I haven't finished that research since I've got other priorities.

I think a gasoline powered generator comes first, but I'm curious to see if there are dual mode NG/propane generators out there ...

They sell Propane for $1.65 a gallon? I ordered some from my local supplier last week and he said the price was $2.15. That was up from about $1.95 a couple of weeks earlier. The extra cost may be due to the fact that they own the tank and probably charge me a rental fee as an extra per gallon charge. They have never been clear about the cost of the tank, which I have probably paid for by now, only they still own it. Last winter, I paid $2.55 for one delivery.

The choices around here are oil heat, propane, electric or wood. Wood is the least expensive, but requires the most effort. There's a new natural gas pipeline to town, but none available near my house. I expect that the pipeline will arrive about the time the NG peaks out.

If you really want a generator, Northern Tool has several options. They sell several with enclosures that run on either NG or propane. These are not diesel, so the efficiency isn't going to be great. They also sell diesel systems by John Deer and Perkins. Remember, these are for backup, not long term operation. See:


E. Swanson

It was definitely $1.65/gallon a few weeks back and the guy cringed when he told me - I called just now, its now $1.60, and you get a nickle discount if you pay your bill on time.

I'm still considering the whole generator thing. I think a portable pump gas unit and the work to drive the furnace with it is a good hedge against ice storms but I'm not so sure about $2,500 for a whole house unit. This town is on a regional coal/wind system and we've got a city sized diesel generator in a big brick building downtown. That particular location is less than a hundred yards from the rail line where the biodiesel from the plant fifteen miles down the tracks passes ...

2.49 gal for propane last week. I have hot water and dryer.Upstate NY

$0.95 difference ... its 60% of your cost here. Tax difference? Refinery capacity between PADDs? Now I'm curious ...

We were $2.49 three weeks ago for propane delivery here in Northern California. We own our own tank. We live in Lake County which has a population of about 65,000 and zero natural gas.

Our home is quite small and a woodstove would take up a fair amount of space.

We heat with a 17,000 BTU Rinnai heaters, which replaced 40,000 BTU central heating a couple of years ago. And a Bosch 125 tankless we also got a couple of years ago. Our propane useage is about half of what it was before.

By the way, I installed one of these inexpensive Chinese water heaters for a neighbor last Springtime and they love it.

Home sales continue spiral down

Realtors say sales of existing homes drop for 13th consecutive month, to lowest level in 5 years; separate report shows steepest price drop in 16 years.

Don't miss some fine analysis and repartee on Gail the Actuary's post on the economic impacts of peak oil. Applause to the contributors and kibitzers; this is what makes this site so valuable.

It seems as though the public in general has such scantly knowledge of perhaps the two most relied upon systems - energy and money - and both are at either turning ponts or crisis points depending upon your perspective.

I second your thoughs, and the http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9050474362583451279&hl=en-CA
">money as debt video is the best 46 minute investment most here could make.

Perhaps the editors would keep this discussion up top for another day or so...For those not here yesterday or today but will be tomorrow. The oil (for me- energy) and money discussion is the most informative as we wait month to month for the grim numbers to roll on in, both on the oil front and the credit crunch.

Great video. I third the recommendation.

Abu Dhabi is putting a new twist on the concept of recycling petrodollars by recycling its earnings into Canadian energy properties.

When investing in energy, people tend to do the following:
Invest in whatever will give the highest ROI. If I'm sitting on top of a bunch of crude oil that I can get to with little effort, why am I going to invest in oil that's thousands of miles away that I have to heat up in order to extract the oil from the sand? That's going to have a lower ROI, right?

However, if the land I'm on doesn't contain as much oil as I claim, and oil is getting harder to extract from this land I'm sitting on, then it might be worth it to look at Canadian oil sands. Hmmm. The PO deniers are just that, in denial.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

I've been thinking about why so many petrodollars and sinodollars (a better term perhaps than cheapimportsfromchina dollars) are finding their way to Canada. Maybe it's because there are resources there, maybe because it is a large enough economy for now to absorb USD without causing an immediate fall in the dollar, maybe its because the Canadians will cross the border with their loonies to buy American made stuff. But I think that Canada is acting like a sponge to soak up a lot of excess USD floating around the world, like the Saudi military budget did during the mid-70's. I don't have hard numbers on this yet.

So maybe there are three reasons for the Abu Dhabi investment in Canada:
1) There is a decent ROI that can't be equaled elsewhere;
2) They get to recycle petrodollars without collapsing the dollar regime;
3) They get to control more of the market for petroleum, thus making their pricing power (and inherent value of what is left in the ground) that much stronger.

Funny thing though, all three are rooted in PO.

As bad predictions go

Sir Charles Darwin, grandson of the great evolutionist, quotes the World Population Conference in 1956:

"At the World Population Conference in Rome recently, world authorities estimated that the present population of 2,500,000,000 people would grow to 4,000,000,000 in 50 years, 6,000,000,000 in 100 years. The agricultural people estimated they might be able to double food supplies in that time. Other natural resources are being exhausted. Half the minerals removed from the earth in all its history have been mined since 1920."

It must be pointed out that the reason this prediction was so wrong was the “Green Revolution” which was just getting underway as these words were written. The green revolution, along with new farm equipment technology have allowed world food production to more than triple since that prediction was made.

As the food supply increased so did the number of people who eat it. And when, or if, the food supply decreases the same principle will hold true. It could not possibly be otherwise.

And it was massive amounts of fossil fuels, primarily oil, that powered the green revolution. Some people believe the green revolution will continue on producing massive amounts of food even after liquid petroleum starts to disappear. They believe the green revolution will produce green fuel and therefore the green revolution will simply feed upon itself.

I am not one of those folks who buy into this theory.

Ron Patterson


That's a gem of a quote. Thanks.

If half of the world's minerals were mined between 1920 and 1956, then at least three or four more halves must have been mined since.

Fossil fuels and the green revolution can't account for why the 1956 estimate was so obviously wrong. It would appear that technology did advance since then increasing mineral stocks, and mankind's view of what consitutes a resoucrce must have changed.

I expect this will continue to take place.

From the original quote: Half the minerals removed from the earth in all its history have been mined since 1920.

I took this to mean that half of the total already mined had been removed since 1920; he wasn't saying anything about what was still in the ground.

Canada's Dollar Trades Near 31-Year High on Fed Rate Outlook

Canada's dollar traded near a 31- year high against the U.S. currency after a report showing declines in U.S. consumer confidence boosted speculation the Federal Reserve will continue cutting interest rates.

Jim Rogers sees skyrocketing prices for commodities: (Including Oil)


Something about this seems fishy...why post a tiny url here when you can just post the full thing? Is this link safe?

It goes to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg typically has very long links. On some boards, posting long links screws up the formatting of the entire thread.

This is not one of them, but it used to be. I'm sure he was just trying to be considerate by shortening the link.

Good! That was just the first tiny url I recall seeing here in many many months :P

A long URL is not a problem if embedded into a proper HTML link (i.e. the URL is invisible). I realize that some people don't know how to do that, and appreciate hearing from them anyway.

The tinyurl can be given in addition to the full URL in case anybody wants it. I don't like them because they are opaque - especially when the poster does not explain where the tinyurl is about to lead you. You can't be too cautious in these days of malware.

A long URL is not a problem with this site now. It used to be, though. It used to screw up the formatting of the entire thread, and was a right pain.

If you want to use TinyURL, there's a preview mode that lets people see what the link is before they click on it.

It is a good example of what the internet has come to that the mere use of a convenience like Tinyurl spurs questions of malfeasance and evil links. Ah well. Nice to hear that the site can take the long URL's now, and I will use those in the future. Back to the issue of Peak Oil...

Man am I out of it! I was wondering what a Tin Yurl was. Some sort of Gobi Desert nomad's drinking vessel for fermented yak milk came to mind. Now I know.

Desert Yaks?


People, if you want to make tiny urls, just type like this:

    (a href="verylongurl.whatever.whenever.wherever")name you pick(/a)

Of course the brackets should be substituted by you-know-what. the end result is:

    name you pick

and if you read the letters down below your browser (in the grey area), it should tell you where you are heading in the link.

I meant no offense, believe me! I've simply come to view 'masked' links with suspicion with all of the malware/keyloggers/spyware thats out there these days. If I cant see where a site goes, I generally don't click it :P

I remember those tricksters who would tinyurl to point to that goatse website.

If a link is hidden in a the html cmd < a href="url">text, one can alway right click on the 'text' and look in lower leftcorner of your screen to ess the actual url.

Mac users? -beats me.

If a link is hidden in an html cmd < a href="url">text< /a>, one can alway right click on the 'text' and look in lower left corner of your screen to see the actual url listed. (spaces added to show command).

Mac users? -beats me.

Mac users don't worry about it in the first place.

Firefox users on any proper operating system are safe. Right now its OS X on Intel Mac, tomorrow it might be OpenSuSe 10.3 ... proprietary operating systems are congenitally icky due to a lack of code scrutiny. The Mac just barely gets a pass because its BSD underneath ...

Out with that! Just because you love Linux, that doesn't mean it's the best thing in the internets. The NEXT software was based on BSD, but it was also really the best there was in 93 when it came out. Linux only came to being in final nineties. OSX is based on NEXT, so cut the crap. This is no my-OS-is-better-than-yours blog.

Time for the next step in the financial reality check.

It's not the mortgage that you can't afford, or the foreclosures and walk-away's, that are the core of the problem, our banking system would be able to handle those amounts.

What it is defenseless against is the amounts of money that were borrowed using those shady mortgage deals (and anything else accepted as "assets") as collateral.

The opening article in Stoneleigh's Round-Up today should be required reading for everyone here.

There are few experts in the world in the opaque realm of derivatives, and even fewer that speak out against it. Satyajit Das is a rare exception, and we should heed his words.

Are we headed for an epic bear market?

When you add it all up, according to Das' research, a single dollar of "real" capital supports $20 to $30 of loans.

This spiral of borrowing on an increasingly thin base of real assets, writ large and in nearly infinite variety, ultimately created a world in which derivatives outstanding earlier this year stood at $485 trillion.....

Note: Das still calls the bad mortgages "real capital". When that "capital" decreases by just 10-20% (when home prices decline), everything leveraged against it starts falling, because the "capital" only covers 1/20 or 1/30 of the risk (leverage). 3-5% is covered, the loss is 10-20%. Not good, but it could well be worse. Robert Shiller expects housing price losses of up to 50%.

We're looking at fractional banking on a lethal overdose of steroids.

To understand where that came from , please read the excellent
Bank deregulation fuels abuse.

Central banks might be able to (re-)install some level of market confidence as long as everyone is focused on just the mortgage losses. And everyone outside the financial world is so far.

But a tidal wave at least 20-30 times that size is rolling our way, and no bank, currency or printing press is powerful enough to stop it in its tracks. Not even close. The boys and girls in the know are madly scrambling behind the curtain, trying to find new and more credit that's not there.

As Das states, we're not even in the first inning of the game, we're still singing along to the national anthem. The mortgages are that anthem. The $1 trillion in central bank emergency credit measures so far amount to no more than the ceremonial first pitch.

And soon it will be Game On.

Ilargi: Das isn't revealing anything that anyone with even a minor interest in this subject hasn't known for years. Anyone reading sites such as PrudentBear, Fiendbear or Financialsense has been getting a ton of info re this subject over the last 5 years and this guy is adding nothing new to the subject. JP Morgan has the potential to go bankrupt 20 times over (just one example). I myself have mentioned this many times on this site. The reason for this mess is the separation of capital and management. When this thing blows, the guys who blew it up will not be paying the price (that is why it got this bad in the first place). Das is in this group.


Respectfully, it's not hard to paint in broad lazy strokes, as you do. Not very useful either though.

Sure, there are many smart investor sites, and I read them on a daily basis, more than I care to confess. For starters, if they were that great in getting information across, many people here and elsewhere would have taken totally different decisions about their assets. It's not as if nobody's paying attention.

Yes, they occasionally hint at a part of what goes on behind the wall of corporate media. But they all have a few flaws, certainly when it comes to derivatives.. None of the writers that I have read are specialists in the (credit) derivatives field to the extent that Das is. And that is why I used him to make a point here: inasmuch as he's just one example, he's a special one.

Global financial problems have by now gone much further than mortgages Awareness of that is painfully scarce, both in the world at large and on this forum, and I think it's high time to explain it in understandable terms. 99 out of 100 people will get burned badly, and some idea or preview may help them escape worse.

Finally, the finance sites such as PrudentBear, FinancialSense, Agora, etc. have one major flaw. The writers are to a fault blind to the fact that they themselvws might go under, they all feel they can outsmart the system, by being cleverer about investments (and contradict each other endlessly while at it). Perhaps Das has that too, but that's irrelevant to the purpose I used him for.

Money people cannot think beyond money, anymore than people in New Orleans or Holland can think beyond "safe" levels of sea water rise. In both cases, that is indicative of blind spots.

I like the image of Johnny Weismuller on the Titanic as a metaphor, thinking he's safe because he's a good swimmer.

Ilargi: Your post is not writing, it is typing (one last broad, lazy stroke).

He doesn't make it sound all that bad:

He's not sure if it will play out like the 13-year decline of 90% in Japan from 1990 to 2003 that followed the bursting of a credit bubble there, or like the 15-year flat spot in the U.S. market from 1960 to 1975.



August 16, 2007

Fidel Castro: Energy Revolution Imperative

It is imperative to immediately have an energy revolution that consists not only in replacing all the incandescent light bulbs, but also in massively recycling all domestic, commercial, industrial, transport and socially used electric appliances that require two and three times more energy with their previous technologies.

It hurts to think that 10 billion tons of fossil fuel is consumed every year. This means that each year we waste what it took nature a million years to create. National industries are faced with enormous challenges, including the reduction of unemployment. Thus we could gain a bit of time.

Another risk of a different nature facing the world is an economic recession in the United States. In the past few days, the dollar has broken records at losing value. On the other hand, every country has most of its reserves in convertible currencies precisely in this paper currency and in American bonds.



U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday the world needs a revolution on energy that transcends oil, gas and coal to prevent problems from climate change.

"Ultimately, we must develop and bring to market new energy technologies that transcend the current system of fossil fuels, carbon emissions and economic activity. Put simply, the world needs a technological revolution.

Phrase ahead of the curve anyone?

"Nicaraguan Seizure Could Hurt Investments"
Where's Ronald Reagan when we really need him?
This is why Chavez is such a threat to our system: Those uppity brown people south of the border may all just decide to not continue offering up their irreplaceable resources at pillage rates. ¡Nacionalización!

Just a couple of thoughts -
Maybe the high cost of fuel is not really the reason Americans are driving less. Possibly, the reason is that as a group, they're now broke. Busted. Lowering the cost of fuel won't matter to someone who has assets with a negative value, and debt on which even the minimum payment can no longer be met.

I have a somewhat novel explanation for the reason that the 1970s were concerned about a new Ice Age - global dimming was reaching its peak, with a lag. The 1970s were a time when both environmentally inspired regulations and economic slowdown likely combined to bring the world back from peak soot, so to speak.

As for the Artic ice - just like peak oil, that was supposed to happen late enough that it wouldn't be our problem. Unfortunately, the future is now, and it is no longer a matter of 'theory,' it is just a matter of observation. And try as some might, facts remain difficult to dismiss by denying their existence.

Expat - you're right about global dimming masking the effects of increasing CO2 until the early 70s. It did cause a little concern about the possibility of an ice age starting, but it was by no means a scientific consensus at the time. In fact, the whole current hubbub about the issue can be traced to a single article in Newsweek where this concern was expressed by one climate researcher. And he maintained later that the article misrepresented the level of his concern.
So, bottom line, the whole "scientists were screaming about a new ice age in the seventies" line of ?reasoning? is just more GW denial propaganda lapped up by a scientifically illiterate and reality-challenged populace.

Actually I believe it derives from a paper in Science by Hays et al in 1976. Of course they put a qualifier about burning FFs which is conveniently ignored by everyone who talks about the prediction but can't be bothered to read the paper. The prediction was based on orbital variations (Milankovitch cycles) and was talking on timescales of 10^4 yrs. Current critics who like to say scientists were predicting an ice age back then can't seem to distinguish between 25 yrs and 25000 yrs.

[And try as some might, facts remain difficult to dismiss by denying their existence.]

No they aren't. (See also Monty Python's The Argument Room)

Labour just announced plans for more consultation for the Severn barrage. Hitler would be so proud

Is it just me, or does this whole vehicle-to-grid(V2G) stuff sound like so much poppycock? It doesn't make sense that small portable power plants could be used to replace large, centrally located immobile ones.

As for the article, this GENIE technology sounds suspiciously like a perpetual motion machine.

I've read before where specially modified diesel locamotive engines were brought into towns for added power production. (All they are is a big diesel generator on wheels with a big electric motor that uses said electricity.) V2G could work, not quite as generation, but power buffering. Personally I don't want to sacrifice battery charge cycles for the benefit of the grid. I just want to get off-grid.

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

While your concerns about battery cycling (at the < 10% level) are fairly common they are unfounded.

Those with an interest in starting a viable clean energy business would offer you insurance to mitigate any loss of performance.

GENIE is just another zero-point-energy scheme. Lotsa luck...

I'm completely in favor of a black box I can install in my car or house, plug all my electrical stuff into it, and enjoy the "free energy" forever and ever, tra-la. If it works, I don't care how. Some scientist can figure out later just why it does work, I don't really care.


Scientists may eventually conclude GENIE is converting atomic magnetism, quantum coherence, or electron spin; terms which are presently quite far from the present-day alternative-energy vernacular of solar and wind. The question of where this energy comes from may be debated for some years. It may prove to be energy from the quantum vacuum, sometimes known as Zero Point Energy.


    PR stunts may eventually conclude any science shenanigan bullshit they want; terms which must be presently quite far from the present-day alternative energy so we can have a brain pass from some idiots who happen to buy our fraudulent machine. The question of where my idea of cheating you up came from is nothing of a debate, it actually follows a great tradition of perpetual machines. It may prove to be the biggest fraud I'll ever do until TSHTF.

    So eat it, dumbshit

Re - Will Your Future Car Pay for Itself?

This guy is a Bozo, and his company has been written up in the past. Save your money.

Knuckleheads like this imbed their bullshit 'product' in otherwise technical realities or discussions that are viable, one of which is V2G, to hand-wave the focus from 'how' the 'product' actually works.

V2G is about temporary storage of energy, distributed across a fraction of vehicles, FROM the grid at time A, BACK into the grid at time B, in order to help balance supply and demand for power.

V2G is not about small portable power plants. It's about distributed energy storage. It can function to store excess energy supplies from the grid due to intermittent sources like solar or wind, or even from nighttime operation of centralized power plants for daytime use. It's not a hard concept to understand.

Please don't confuse V2G with anything anyone from that company has to say. Christ, it's hard enough to change people's behavior even with legitimate products and services that can address avoiding the cliff we're headed full speed for.

There are going to be many, many rationales for why we need to continue moving a ton of mass per person whenever and where ever people want to go. Ever drop your car off for repair? Notice how constraining that feels? Now scale that by a hundred and fifty million, a quarter of whom will be stuck at home with bill collectors calling, and you get an idea of just how politically unpalatable what is workable will be.

We need a couple adventure movies worth of just right events at just the right time between now and the 2008 election to make a sensible transition, and we've got the two burglars from Home Alone at the head of our government.

Don't worry, nearly all those bill collectors will soon be laid off, too.

So what happens in a debt economy when no one can pay their debts? Will mortgage holders really be in a rush to foreclose on houses when they know they can't be sold?

If the fast crash realists are right this is all academic - instead of resetting to 1940 living standards we reset to 1490.

If not we aren't all going to lose our jobs at once as we slowly slide. We'll see 25% real unemployment up from the current estimated 12%. The houses is a nice, tidy package - big dollars, tied to one location - someone will do something with them. The bill collectors of which I'm thinking will be the junk debt chasers who are going to go crazy harassing those who are unable to pay. I get regular bursts of calls from "the offices of LHR", and if I don't pay my first ex wife's credit card, which the bank wrote off in ... 1991? Well, they'll "send me to employment verification". Nine years now I've been waiting and nothing has come of it yet.

Hyperinflation will step in where the bankruptcy laws used to be, and once they do I will be happy to pay that bill - $1,100 owed and I'll send 'em a $10,000 coin and a nice letter letting them know they can keep the change.

Maybe Blackwater will start branching off into bill collections. Take anything of value including family members to be sold into slavery. Pretty intimidating having a black helecopter showing up on your front lawn.

Halliburton and Blackwater will come to the rescue by "repurposing" debt collection.

In the 1970s there was a sketch on Saturday Night Live based on a stupid suggestion by a stupid New York politician that private individuals could be paid to keep excess convicts at their homes.

In the 1990s some of the nastiest neocons (Himmelfarb and her husband whatsisname) came out with a book praising Victorian atrocities like debtor's prisons as good moral discipline.

So let's combine the two:

Half the bankrupt homeowners are made the slaves of the other half. The latter half, presumably chosen by an objective process controlled entirely by the GOP, will be given money that would have gone to build debtor's prisons to instead house the first half in their attics, basements and tool sheds, along with one Blackwater guard, who will exercise vigilance against both jailer and jailed alike. The elites greatly reduce their losses, and presumably are rewarded with another tax cut for saving the government money.

The houses that are still abandoned will be used as labor camps for the Mexicans who never got subprime loans. Conditions will be much less pleasant there than for the white debtors.

In this way we will paraphrase J. P. Morgan: "I can always pay one half of the working class to jail the other half."

All humor aside just what is going to happen to all of the McMansions?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all hear the stories about some being turned to rooming houses already ... I'm interested in which geographies are going to get that treatment.

We have a "talking figure" of a 50% abandonment rate ... I'll venture to say that translates into a 98% abandonment rate in Las Vegas (desert, no carrying capacity) and a 98% fill rate in Des Moines (land & water).

I wonder if there is an easy to get to state by state inventory on such housing ... won't be an overnight, fifty million exit the desert southwest, but as stuff gets funny and prices go up a choice of part time gardener in Des Moines vs. machete moshpit mosher in Las Vegas isn't all that hard to make.

I'm thinking also of the suburbs. Say I'm in an area that has a 50% abandonment rate, most have moved back into the city, some further out. Nothings selling (who wants to move into an area where there are no jobs and no farms). The neighbor's house has been empty for five years, who knows if the bank as foreclosed or not. Maybe I should just start "borrowing" the parts I can use, colonize the backyard for my garden, etc. Is the bank going to care?

There are third world countries where kids wait for trash trucks so they can pick through the debris looking for bits of metal to sell. Poverty, vacancy, and copper wiring in the walls tell us how this will progress :-)

If we have millions of empty homes are choices are anarchy, HUD style seizure, squatters rights laws like we had homesteading a century ago, etc.

In Arizona, I bet the Apaches will be mighty quick stripping the abandoned houses for materials. Las Vegas isn't that far from their range either.

>So what happens in a debt economy when no one can pay their debts? Will mortgage holders really be in a rush to foreclose on houses when they know they can't be sold?

Sure, Bond holder will want there money back, even if its pennies on the dollar. Homes, Land, Cars, you name it, well end up at auction. Someone will buy it if the price is right. Banks and other lenders will make a great deal of money by charging service fees to liquidate assets.

I imagine the bill collectors wont be working either, as they wont be able to get to their businesses (IF) tshtf? :P

It has to do with scales. Many people don't think a two ton car could run off of battery power, and certainly if you put in 1 AA batter in the 'pack' you wont be going very far. But when you add in 6000 batteries, or in this case, 230 million vehicles with 6000 batteries, you get a HUGE reservoir of reserve energy that can be drawn into the grid at any time.

Hey party guy, are you 12 years old?

I for one really wish you would search site or at least think out your posts a little more. Please!


I think you missed the fact that I was trying to add a 'human scale' to this question so that others better understand how such a system works. Forgive me for trying to speak in non technical jargon for the masses.

Well then, we'd better get busy - we've got 1.4 trillion batteries to make, and 230 million cars for them to go into.

By the way - do you think the grid is designed to handle power flows in 2 directions at all locations on the distribution system?

We call it grid interconnected. And it doesn't need to be at all locations. And the aggregator (PJM Interconnection for those in the mid-atlantic) will mediate the day-ahead price you'll get per kWh for participating.

That's not at all what I was talking about. The idea here is that your car will be connected to the grid when it's not in use, and the batteries will be available for distributed energy storage on the grid. That implies that the energy that is stored in it will also come out of it (randomly, as required). It also implies that this will happen at your home, because this is where the vehicle will spend the majority of it's time when it is not in use.

Unfortunately, the grid was designed to transport power from fixed bulk generation sites to distributed loads in fixed locations. For instance, all of the protection schemes are designed with those assumptions. Coordinating the power flow from all those distributed storage elements is a very complicated problem - I did not say impossible to solve, but it is not how the present system is designed.

Nothing that cannot be solved by replacing everything - after all, we MUST all have cars.

So all we have to do is replace all our cars, build 1.4 trillion batteries, re-structure our T&D system and increase its capacity, and this can be a reality. You'll pardon me if I don't hold my breath.....

Don't buy it, then.

Once again, V2G is separate from owning an EV and doing whatever you want. V2G is not a mandatory program. If you don't want to play, simply hook up your EV to dumb 110 and be done with it.

John, I actually take issue with the viability (and advisability) of electric cars in general. I guess it's even broader than that - I take issue with the viability (and advisability) of cars period.

Most of our electricity comes from fossil fuels, and will continue to for quite some time. You will not be charging your car from solar power - at least not anything most people would recognize as a car, nor using it in anything close to the manner they are used to. That means for all practical purposes, the electric car concept is just a way to substitute one type of fossil fuel for another (+/- a few % efficiency improvement) so that we can all keep hauling ourselves around in cars.

Beyond the fact that I am not remotely convinced this is a scheme that is viable, scalable, or that we can afford the infrastructure (V2G or not), I don't even think it is a good idea in concept. We need major reductions in the amount of energy we use and the carbon we emit, and an electrified clone of the car culture is not an answer to either.

Maybe most of YOUR energy. Ontario gets less than 38% of its electricity from fossil fuels, and less than 8% from oil or natural gas.

Not to mention Quebec, which is 97% hydro. E-car heaven!

I suppose it depends on how small a region you want to consider. I suppose if your region has everything needed to build and power them, you can cut the ties to the other parts of the grid and have your very own custom solution using E-cars. And this should not be a problem, because presumably these will be hammered out by legions of former auto workers in sheds out behind their tomato gardens. Your own little E-car utopia. You do have guns, don't you?

Further, I'm sure if the people in areas with coal power do use these vehicles, then the CO2 they emit will not cause any warming in your region either.

BTW, I hear this "quaint" concept of a separate country called Canada has been rescinded. Instead, you'll be giving us your fossil fuels, as well as your hydro power, and we'll be giving you...um...yeah, these little pieces of paper we made. See they have pretty green pictures of dead guys on them.

Well, it's late and I'm tired, so I'll leave you all to your fantasies of E-cars and infinite happy motoring.

Just to clarify, my e-car comment was sardonic. I've been down on BEVs since about half an hour after I started thinking about them seriously, and for all the same reasons you are. Different ways of doing the same old things just won't cut it any more. Climate Chaos, declining soil fertility, dead oceans and an economic fiasco about to envelop the earth in a blizzard of unredeemable paper should be a message to us that the way we've been doing things just doesn't cut it. And the first to the guillotine should be our signature invention, the automobile - no matter what it has under the hood.

Sorry, I missed the intent - looks like we're on the same page.


Define "rich' for us, John. Not being trollish here, just trying to make a point - wealth is calories first, BTUs, second, and specie a distant third. The fiat system is going to become as much of a joke as it was during the Weimar Republic.

Sure, this isn't real obvious yet, but as climate change picks up, oil stocks drop, and the mortgage scam unwinds a full tummy and a comfortable place to sleep are the two things a rich man has that a poor man lacks.

SCT - Asking a question which you then go on to say you're making a point and then discuss this further makes me think this 'question' require no answer but provides you an opportunity to make a point. Not a problem.

A Yale psychiatrist, who also works at the New Haven VA, said on local NPR Monday that of WWII vets (this discussion spurred by Ken Burns' "The War") who returned few wanted sympathy, most wanted to be understood.

I'm with Hemmingway. The rich are different. They have more money. That's how I define it.

I have my own decidedly skewed view of the world, john, so forgive if I'm ... off kilter.

We have many people here with expert knowledge in many dimensions but the one fault of all is that we're so oilcentric. It doesn't matter how much oil KSA has if they've got no wheat - they get the same rioting there that we'll have here with no fuel.

Yes, we do talk about agriculture; peak NPK, global climate effects, etc, but I don't see anyone expressing this as a peak oil/peak calories complex. We talk about a need to get away from this model of unbounded growth and I've suggested, both seriously and waggishly, that we need some new measurements.

So ... if I have a nice pot of stew and you're knocking on my door with nothing to tender but some fiat tinder when the fire is already lit ... I guess you'd better be a crackling good story teller.

How do we measure wealth in a bounded world? The fiat is worthless, the specie is heavy, and neither gets you a bran muffin when famine stalks the land.

Okay - one last response.

First - there's no way I'll be lugging timber to your door, I'll call ahead. Fine stew or not, you won't be the only game in town. And someone else may trade for 'my timber'.

Second, I would guess the way we measure wealth in a bounded world is the same as in the unbounded word. Without intelligence. Here, look, back when Reagan was president I was claiming that modern economics was the study of stability of the house of cards.

I measure wealth by quality of thought and concern for humanity. Call me crazy. Call me simple minded. But there's a lot out there like me. Like you. The tides will turn. But these tide turnings will take hundreds of centuries. Assuming we don't annilate ourselves with good'ol nuke weapons beforehand.

Twilight, to your first point on the advisability of cars, I don't disagree. Heck, I'd make a stronger statement on the advisability of SUVs.

Here's where I'm coming from: When the oil's gone or at least priced only for the rich, everyone else who's not already too poor to do otherwise will move to biofuels and at some level of coal to liquid fuel. This would be a disaster on so many levels and it is very likely to occur as we live our cough cough non-negotiable lifestyle unless there is an alternative. Electricity is one viable way to provide for transportation needs, and decouple CO2 emissions from the car and localize it at the smokestack until renewables are at scale.

Regarding your second point: The NRDC and EPRI recently published a report (ppt here.) showing the CO2 emissions for PHEVs with electricity supplied by FF and non-FF sources, and in all cases are lower by 30% or more compared to conventional ICE cars. In a recent presentation, Austin Energy calculated that the current grid and supply could power 75% of the light duty vehicles on the road today if they were PHEVs, and contribute 33% less CO2 emissions that conventional vehicles when at worst powered by coal-fired electricity. In fact, Texas has so much wind power installed they cannot use all the electricity they are generating, and V2G could work very well here, as EVs and PHEVs charging overnight could absorb the power, and justify more wind installment there.

If you believe or support the DOE's Solar America Initiative, unsubsidized electricity costs from solar will be in the 10-12 cents per kWh range by 2015. That is competitive with expected utility prices for electricity from conventional FF sources.

Finally you comment:

"We need major reductions in the amount of energy we use and the carbon we emit, and an electrified clone of the car culture is not an answer to either."

I fully agree with the first part, but not the second. I am not a supporter of a clone of the car culture, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have essential travel by electrified transport, including EVs.

John - I will read the links you've posted, but I am still quite skeptical in terms of the overall effiency improvement of electric vehicles.

I'm well aware that one can make an EV, just as one can make a vehicle that uses biodiesel or ethanol, and all of these will have a place. But the problem is in trying to scale it up to meet personal transportation needs. They are all reasonable solutions to power agricultural equipment (I think biodiesel has the edge for minimal infrastructure changes), but I don't think they work for trasnportation when compared to electric rail. Local personal transportation can be a hodge podge of bicycles, foot, electric, bus, and even horse, but above all it needs to be drastically reduced - and off loaded as much as possible to electric trains.

Because the trains look much more like fixed (and predictable) loads, they will fit much better into our existing T&D system.

There are dozens of startup companies that convert ICE cars to PHEVs for a reasonable price, usually around 10k or so. No need to replace every car :P

First of all there are 3 or 4 companies which do the conversion; not dozens.
Secondly, they don't convert any ICE car to PHEV; only hybrid cars (mostly Priuses). Hybrid cars are a very small fraction of our fleet.
Another point is that these companies are small and local and can convert a few dozen cars at the most every year.

"Another point is that these companies are small and local and can convert a few dozen cars at the most every year."

Small is beautiful :)

Small is franchiseable to unemployed auto workers ... well, not a franchise exactly, but think open source like Digium. Rather than starting a company, doing all the R&D, and then doing the way, I'd get all crazy on R&D and kit making, and then trust than an army of former big three people will make a cottage industry of it.

I think you missed the most important point. Only hybrid cars (mostly Priuses) can be converted to PHEVs. What about the rest (99%) of our fleet?
(I am responding to your earlier point that there is no need to replace millions of ICE cars because they can all be converted to PHEVs).

Twilight - Solar PV panels, as primary sources of energy, are a perfectly good example of distributed energy feed back into the grid (though not useful for storage).

I refer you to Willett Kempton's early and subsequent work on V2G, plus many useful resources, here. Several large utilities (PGE, SoCal Edision, Pepco Holdings / U of Delaware) are presently working through pilot and/or proof of concept programs.

If you would like to see it working, and are near New Brunswick, NJ, Thursday evening to Friday late afternoon this week, stop by the Hyatt Hotel where the NJ Clean Energy Conference will take place. No money required to see the all-electric EV (range 150miles) and hookup demo'ed for the public, outside the main entrance.

We see a lot of talk about alternative electricity sources but it always comes back to the whole dispatchable power requirement. What work is being done on the backside to make dispatchability less of an issue?

Union Pacific engineers used to accelerate when approaching hills and back off on the way down the grade. Some wise guy thought to model that and found they'd save a billion dollars a year in diesel if they coasted up and accelerated down. The computer now does a nearly flawless job of the humans never thought to try and the company is richer for it.

We have a pervasive power network. We have an equally pervasive IPv4 network and IPv6 is moving along quickly. Air conditioners now run on demand based on thermostat settings. What if air conditioners grow ethernet jacks, web interfaces, and you configure them when you get them to talk to the power company so that they don't all come on at once? And get a refrigerator that complies with some as yet unwritten standard and they'll talk to each other so they don't run at the same time? And then the air conditioner gets wise about when you're not home and willing to negotiate on price and pretty soon we're as cool and comfortable as we were with 20% less electricity.

And thusly dispatchability requirements drop.

I've not thought a lot about stageable processes amenable to such controls - laundry comes to mind, but how big of a deal is that compared to AC? Industrial stuff already gets this treatment - when the load is not 100% in the summer the foundry in Omaha at Saddle Creek and Farnam gets a call offering them a screamin' deal on power ... make this automatic instead of manual and then we maybe get more savings.

Technology won't produce energy for the most part, but changing what we use (cars => electrified rail) and applying some smarts to other parts can save a great deal.

Maybe, but somehow I just don't expect to see people making significant money off this sort of thing - ever. The delusion of the starry-eyed writer quoted upthread, that your car will pay for itself, is simply a load of rubbish.

Batteries are brutally expensive, so we'll see at most a couple of tens of kWH of stored energy in each typical vehicle. Maybe as much as 5 kWH of that will actually be fungible. After all: people have to get home from work, so they can't drain the battery dry at the very time in the late afternoon when the electricity is most needed; sockets are not widely available and will be expensive to provide; and battery capacity diminishes dramatically with age. That leaves you earning perhaps 25 cents a day by arbitraging electricity with your battery-operated car. 25 cents will never even begin to cover the wear and tear on a battery costing thousands and thousands.

And you'll never see even that 25 cents. Once the pilot schemes run out, the era of paying wholesale prices while being paid retail prices will end quickly. Even in economics there are no perpetual motion machines.

Oh, and we'd be needing sockets at apartment houses, along streets, in business parking lots, and in all sorts of places. Lots of people don't have a garage of their own, and even when they do, their car isn't there during the afternoon peak load time, it's parked at work. Those sockets will come at huge expense. 25 cents a day will not cover it, especially since the expense will recur, as many of the sockets will need to be located where they will be vandalized regularly.

In the end, the likelihood that you will make any money from a scheme like this is nil, same as it is with $19 airfares, bargain cellphone deals, and all the other heavily advertised marketing schemes that have too many tricky gotchas to benefit most real people in the real world. After all, as Adam Smith said of the schemers, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." That wasn't high praise: they're not here to give you money.

Now, if electricity were $2/kWH the scheme might work in principle. On the other hand, the knock-on effects of a price like that would make most people rather poor, possibly eliminating universal car ownership from consideration. It follows that, in the end, even "legitimate" V2G seems a pie in the sky crackpot scheme, or else something that can only fill a small niche. Either way, nothing much to be seen here, move on please.

There are a dozen or so new technologies out there that will make batters not only inexpensive, but extend their lifetime beyond that of the vehicle they power. Your mentality was shared when people imagined personal computers in a day of room sized behemoths.


Name Three.

I'll see your sarcasm and raise you:


A number of others have been discussed here often, like A123's batteries, or Altirs, or the MIT ones, etc etc.

Let's take a look...

In the Super / Ultra capacitor camp we have EEstor and MIT (LEES).

And in the carbon Nanotech camp we have A123 Systems and Altair Nano

I make that two technology families (Battery and Capacitor) but because Altair is a breakthrough in electrodes, and A123 is a breakthrough in nanotech storage Media, I'll give you full marks for finding three (of your dozen) examples.

A123 is clearly the tip of the spear, they have product in the market today. Altair looks to be next to market, it appears that they've done enough testing that they have a handle on manufacturing.

It's not clear how close the capacitor families are to mass production. It sounds like the plate technologies are pretty advanced, but it's not possible to tell from the web data if watt/hour sized assemblies have been demonstrated, or if the data is from smaller sample assemblies.

I don't think any storage technology has the chance to save what Kuntzler calls "Happy Motoring" -- the days of the Escalade are numbered, but these technologies might well provide the basis for LEVs (light electric vehicles) for basic transport.

I'm actually very interested in the fixed location applications. I fully expect to be buying a water-heater sized appliance that will afford a comfortable baseline of power while being charged intermittently from on-site and grid sources.

"The delusion of the starry-eyed writer quoted upthread, that your car will pay for itself, is simply a load of rubbish.

Agreed. Seems self evident. Who upthread said this. The knucklehead from Magnetic Power selling a perpetual motion machine? He's a starry-eyed con man, who has nothing to do with V2G, except in conning readers.

"That leaves you earning perhaps 25 cents a day by arbitraging electricity with your battery-operated car."

Not the amount anyone else calculates. The price to compare is the marginal cost of electricity, not what you see in your bill. Compared to the cost of a new plant to address power regulation and peak load management, a $1 per kWh may be quite reasonable. To the extent many people hold your view, the price will stay high if not higher.

Since the rest of your comments are predicated on how much you'll earn, and you clain 25 cents, and whether it'll pay off your car, I'm done.

As I said elsewhere, if you don't want it, don't sign up.

It is truly amazing the amount of self-delusion that can be found on this site. Millions of new electric vehicles. Oh my. As we all know, the energy to build an electric car is free. All of the materials, the metals, the high-tech composites, the electronic components, all of it can be produced without a MASSIVE expenditure of energy, right? Just pull it all out of thin air, right?

Lord. You people make cornucopians look like die-hard doomers.

No worries here. Global warming, hah. We got it fixed. Population overshoot, hey, the more the merrier. Just more electric cars for everyone!!

Water? Who needs fresh water when we got electric cars!!! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Forget food!!! We got yummy electric cars!!!!

Physics is obviously not these people's strong suit.

Yup, why think big picture when tunnel vision is so much fun!!!


In response to that, a big
thanks to Leanan for putting
the Arctic ice story right at
the head of the Drumbeat,and
for continuing to feature
environmental and climate
change stories when most here
seem to feel invulnerable.

Cherenkov! my old friend. You were conspicuous by your absence. Off reading The Master and Margarita I hope.

The quote I retained and have posted elsewhere (in English, alas I don't read Russian), resonates well here

"There's no need for any proofs,' replied the professor, and he began to speak softly, while his accent for some reason disappeared: 'It's all very simple: In a white cloak with blood-red lining, with the shuffling gait of a cavalryman, early in the morning of the fourteenth day of the spring month of Nissan...'

And everyone abandons the vehicle they have now....
I see plenty of technological solutions put forward on these pages and I have no doubt that the vast majority are viable.
The proponents though never describe how the changes will come about.
They all suppose it will happen because it is, in theory possible.
Reality will be FYJIAR until it's too late.

V2G is the next bubble, yes? We know they'll try to do one more before things totally implode. Shift the cost of the next generation of power plants onto the backs of the vehicle buyers?

Its like the anti-Alan Drake plan - instead of saving energy and resources it pisses even more away that our current unsustainable efforts.

But it might be politically acceptable for the twenty four months where we have to focus on the right moves, and then the event horizon for change will have slipped away :-(

At least a V2G plan makes use of the existing infrastructure and doesn't require us to rebuild all the inner cities and tear down Suburbia. What do you think the ERoEI is on that massive undertaking? It's often quoted that Suburbia is the largest mis allocation of resources in history.

Well sometimes the cure is worse than the cancer.

V2G is a way to prop up something we should have been wise enough to not build in the first place. If rail electrification saves us 90% of our transport BTUs and costs $75B and the other choice is the same amount of energy used now plus the cost of converting a significant fraction of 200M autos and requiring some major habit changes ... why not change habits and save 90% of the BTUs? Our godlike mobility of today is not a right, its an accident of cheap oil that is going to come to a screeching halt in the very near future.

Big picture, PG, big picture. We've assumed 50% of suburbia goes dark and jumped to the idea that it will be 50% evenly distributed. This is probably not an accurate view over the long haul. Vast tracts of the southwest are going to empty completely as they have no carrying capacity. Places that have water and land will fill up, perhaps to overflowing.

The idea that humans are going to continue to live in houses with 1,000 square feet per person and move around in 4,000 pound ICE powered vehicles is a total nonstarter, no matter how unwilling V.P. Cheney is to negotiate. Physics and chemistry are what they are, even if an objective view of reality is politically unacceptable.

Its like the anti-Alan Drake plan

OMG ! An assassination squad is ALREADY after me !?!

I leave New Orleans and they must have spotted me :-((

I will say the DC has superb sarcanol this year (almost worth the risk), I am sipping a bit as I work on details of the Millennium Institute run. We are going to model 1996-2006 "as is" vs. if my plan had been instituted in 1996 and see the delta.

Best Hopes for avoiding BlackWater "Security",


You will no doubt be posting the 1996 - 2006 projection and I'm very curious to see it.

My big concern with V2G is how many people will sacrifice their mobility to supply the grid with power? Once your electric car is powered up, or your fuel cell is full of methane (or H2) do you want to drain it at night before your morning commute begins? From a consumer perspective this is completely unpalatable. You might do it during a power outage, but that doesn't seem to be what V2G is about.

Apart from the observation that behavior in the future will very likely be different from our current behavior, an EV would have 150+ mi range (e.g. AC Propulsion's eBOX, which is already on the road, albeit in very small numbers and right now costs 2-1/2 times a $30,000 ICE car), so for those with travel needs under say 80 miles per day V2G would be fine. And, IMO, electricity-filling stations would mitigate the risk of 'running out of power' in an emergency.

And you can light up half the block when the lights do go out :)

The Center Holds is an article that discusses how irrelevant the Netroots movement actually is. It documents how Hillary Clinton is moving towards the political "center" in the United States which is still extremely conservative considering the rest of the world. The Daily Dish has a piece titled Queen Hillary, Empress of Mesopotamia that argues that she is going to stay in Iraq and legitimize what Bush has done there. (Be sure to go see the picture as it is funny.)

Voting Democrat will change nothing substantial, just as electing a Democrat controlled congress has changed nothing substantial. The war drums beat on and even the Democratic presidential candidates now routinely make noises about staying in Iraq as well as in joining in the anti-Iranian chest beating. Those of you placing your faith in the Democrats are very likely to suffer a rude awakening. Note that I am not arguing that you should vote Republican. I am most definitely not saying that. But what I am saying is that if you believe that a vote for a Democrat matters, then you are wrong.

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

Into the Grey Zone

I could not agree more - no one who gets elected will give up any powers, and it is quite clear that the battle to control the remaining sources of fossil fuels will continue regardless. It is, quite simply, a battle for the survival of the western industrial empire, and even though it cannot be won, no one will give up.

I've suspected a lot of the Democratic foot dragging has to do with retaining power to squelch domestic troubles and reading here has hardened that view.

What are we getting ourselves into here?

And now they have their pretext for occupation of Khuzestan:
Bush & Co. couldn't have done better if they'd hand-picked Iran's president.

Several weeks ago, I asked John Edwards what the YearlyKos event was like. He couldn’t remember which event I was talking about, and looked over to an aide for help.

I find that statement kinda strange given that his wife is a very regular contributor to DailyKos and support there is the only reason he has a fighting chance against Clinton and Obama.


The mainstream media are scared to death of the power of the internet. The hierarchical Republicans don't know what to do with it (just look at redstate.com) and the Democrats love the boost but hate the accountability. Primary challenges are discussed daily for misbehaving Dems and several have become much more, uhh, responsive after being on the receiving end of that sort of thing.

Its just an editorial. In a mainstream publication. They hate their decreasing relevance and they'll do anything they can to undermine people powered politics.

I find this bit from the Thruway article posted up top quite striking:

While rising gas prices didn't come as a total surprise and the Thruway has weathered increases before without jarring impact to revenue, motorists are reacting with more sustained changes in travel behavior this time around.

"It's been about a 2-year period with no growth patterns," said Fleischer. "This is the longest period with no growth patterns since statistics were first reported by the Federal Highway Administration in 1981."

There were a couple of recessions in that time period. And the economy is supposedly doing okay now. And yet, the current lack of growth is unprecedented.

Hello TODers,

I will be offline for awhile, but hopefully not for too long. As longtime readers of my postings know: my girlfriend is a Supreme Peakoil Denialist, and is proceeding with a pointless, purely decorative household renovation against my advice.

She accuses me of belonging to a 'very small lunacy cult', but I long ago learned not to accuse her of belonging to a 'mindless consumption cult'. She can have quite a temper.

This of course has severely strained our relationship, but since she owns the property--what can I do, but to provide assistance now in what will probably result in our later accelerated reception to a mutual cascade of life-altering blowbacks vs the early practising of ELP mitigative measures. Such is life, but it is personally heart-breaking to me to see her shopping her way now into a later future of dire economic choices. ELP concepts are currently unacceptable to her gleeful shopping mindset.

So that new carpeting can be installed tomorrow: I will today have to tear down my old computer and monitor for the desk's removal. I hope that the old beast will restart with a minimum of troubles. Until we meet again...

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

Sorry to hear that, Bob, a supportive partner is worth their weight in gold, or oil, or humanure. Look forward to your return.

It's a pretty big luncay cult! Did you tell her you are a high priest?

That's OK Bob. There were people re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, too. Didn't save them, but their memory lives on in the form of an extremely useful cliche.

I think that this has been posted before (Engdahl appears to have gone off the abiotic oil deep-end), but I was struck by the excerpted text. I don't know what is in this guy's head, so I can't call him a liar, but let's be charitable, and call him "mistaken."

Texas oil production declined in the Seventies despite the biggest drilling boom in state history, as oil prices exploded by about 1,000% from 1972 to 1981.

by F. William Engdahl
September 25, 2007

The Peak King

Peak Oil theory is based on a 1956 paper done by the late Marion King Hubbert, a Texas geologist working for Shell Oil. He argued that oil wells produced in a bell curve manner, and once their “peak” was hit, inevitable decline followed. He predicted the United States oil production would peak in 1970. A modest man, he named the production curve he invented, Hubbert’s Curve, and the peak as Hubbert’s Peak. When US oil output began to decline in around 1970 Hubbert gained a certain fame. 

The only problem was, it peaked not because of resource depletion in the US fields. It “peaked” because Shell, Mobil, Texaco and the other partners of Saudi Aramco were flooding the US market with dirt cheap Middle East imports, tariff free, at prices so low California and many Texas domestic producers could not compete and were forced to shut their wells in.


Just read it. What is this guy on?

First he dismisses Campbell, later on in the article there's nothing to be found to prove Campbell being wrong.
Then he goes on with Hubbert, again, offering no other explanation than that Hubbert is wrong, it was the arabs fault. No references, no nothing. Just opinions.

I just love the part that "there's a very well kept secret in Russia, something that we in the western world didn't know about until recently". Very similar to self help moron books like "The Secret". Send no money now..
Why is it that some people think that the further east you go, the smarter people will be.

Would love to see him explain the ever-falling graph with new discoveries. Or wait, maybe we just aren't drilling in the right places? In this space-age world we're living in, with nanotechnology and cosmetic surgery for pets, we're doing the oil exploration wrong and the russians are doing it right. Yeah, right.

Why is this publication called "Financial Sense"? Should be "Financial Nonsense".

Actually, Financial Sense has been way ahead of most people regarding the ongoing financial meltdown and Peak Oil. Jim Puplava wrote a long series of "future history" essays about California that pretty much predicted everything happening right now.

Like Leanan, they believe in presenting a range of viewpoints which they may or may not agree with.

(FYI--I am an occasional contributor on the editorial portion of the Energy Page).

Abiotic oil isn't necessarily impossible, just not common. Production of hydrogen from olivine and water has been demonstrated in the lab. Add carbonates and bake a few million years, who knows how much hydrocarbon could form?

That doesn't change the fact you still need a mechanism for that oil to travel through 100's of kms of hard rock, then a reservoir to hold it, and an imperveous layer to trap it. IOW the kind of formation where they already look.

There could be just enough abiotic oil to lead some smart people to waste a lot of money when things get desperate.

Maybe he's just taking a Peak Oil timeout. Don't you just wish that you could wake up one day and discover that peak oil isn't real? That everything is going to just be swell? Every now and them I take a day and just say F*** It. I'm going to live my life like there's an unlimited amount of oil that can be brought cheaply to me. That's my Peak Oil timeout. Then the next day I go back to my garden, haul in a few more buckets of tomatoes for canning and dehydrating and put another bucket of potatoes in the cold cellar.

Been away for a few days.

Sure looks like the subprime situation is not over.

Tropical storm update:

Three ATLANTIC/GOM storms active:

1. Tropical Storm Jerry - Fish spinner far off shore (East of Bermuda) - but dieing out fast.

2. Tropical Storm Karen - Far East of Lesser Antillies/modeled to turn north.

3. Tropical Depression 10 - West Gulf of Mexico - heading into Mexico.


And, experimental has two more areas to watch as well.


Invest 97L has the most threatening track if it develops:


Uh-oh. I looked at the article under the headline "Will your future car pay for itself?", expecting to see an article about (for example) Andy Frank's (UC at Davis) proposal to populate the nation with plug-in hybrids having bidirectional chargers, etc. to sell excess stored power back into the grid when prices are high, etc. Instead, we get this:

GENIE, under development by Magnetic Power, Inc., is a new type of generator that can be constructed both with and without moving parts. Solid-state GENIE modules can be scaled down to replace batteries. Small variations will be able to power cell phones and other electronic devices. They can also be scaled up to run cars. Unlike batteries they do not need to be recharged. Large GENIE generators will be capable of producing one Megawatt, or more, and can be utilized by energy hungry industries as well as power plants.

Discussions have already begun with a potentially large Strategic Partner, to Joint Venture a production version of a 1 kW GENIE Module, measuring perhaps 5” x 5” x 16”, about the size of a 12 pack of soda. Energy density will improve as development proceeds. When larger units emerge from the laboratory, GENIE generators powerful enough to power a car are expected to occupy no more space than a present day automotive fuel tank. These GENIE units are likely to provide 75 kW and more.

A power company executive once stated that if cars, using new technology that would supersede fossil fuels, could be designed to generate an average of 75 kW (100 hp) – the utility he worked for would shut down all of their coal burning and nuclear power plants and instead purchase electricity from parked automobiles. MPI’s GENIE intends to make that possibility a reality.

GENIE generates electricity without the need for fuel or any connection to a conventional outside energy source. Experiments have repeatedly demonstrated that the effect is real. Further engineering is all that remains necessary to make this remarkable discovery a permanent, cost-competitive, source of power. Scientists may eventually conclude GENIE is converting atomic magnetism, quantum coherence, or electron spin; terms which are presently quite far from the present-day alternative-energy vernacular of solar and wind. The question of where this energy comes from may be debated for some years. It may prove to be energy from the quantum vacuum, sometimes known as Zero Point Energy.

OK TOD'ers, let 'er rip!

- Dick Lawrence

Ah.... we were 'ripping', up the page, but at each other, as the GENIE hit the bottle early on and passed out behind the couch but not before doing a coherent spin precession, leting go of lunch all the while.

Few were spared. The rest were bored.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday the world needs a revolution on energy that transcends oil, gas and coal to prevent problems from climate change.
"Ultimately, we must develop and bring to market new energy technologies that transcend the current system of fossil fuels, carbon emissions and economic activity. Put simply, the world needs a technological revolution," Rice told delegates at a special U.N. conference on climate change.

Just what the doctor ordered. Condi should invest all her money in GENIE.


the WORD today is TRANSCEND.

Condi may be sending out the public signals that she is expert in energy policies and is A BIG THINKER - and is fishing for that next great job. The current one has not got long to go.

David Alexander
Love your Planet