DrumBeat: October 13, 2007

How science silenced the sceptics

The science of climate change has advanced enormously in the past decade and gradually the sceptics have been silenced as their objections were answered.

Sceptics still exist, and many of them have good points to make, but it is they who have been pushed to the fringe of political and scientific debate.

One Decade into a New Era

Ten years ago, oil prices hit their lowest prices in two decades, and pundits proclaimed that an era of lower oil prices was here to stay.

Shell Stops Gas Pumping in Nigeria After Fire on Pipeline

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, shut natural gas pumping at one of its Nigerian fields following a fire on a pipeline in the south of the country.

Nigerian unit Shell Petroleum Development Co. reported the fire on the Utorogu-Ughelli gas condensate pipeline in the Delta state yesterday, Alexandra Wright, a London-based company spokeswoman, said today. Shell had to declare force majeure on deliveries to the nation's gas pipeline network, she said.

Japan, China Remain Apart on East China Sea Gas Development

At a bureau chief-level meeting on Thursday, Japan and China failed to narrow differences over proposed joint gas field development in disputed waters in the East China Sea.

$100 Oil? We Love It

Digging around in decades-old research, three young entrepreneurs may have unlocked a new source of fluid energy: coal.

Peace may erode as the world warms, experts say

What does global warming have to do with global peace? The globe may find out sooner than we think, experts say.

Shipping pollution 'far more damaging than flying'

New research suggests that the impact of shipping on climate change has been seriously underestimated and that the industry is currently churning out greenhouse gases at nearly twice the rate of aviation.

Shipping, although traditionally thought of as environmentally friendly, is growing so fast that the pollution it creates is at least 50 per cent higher than previously thought. Maritime emissions are also set to leap by 75 per cent by 2020.

Loving Ethanol For The Sake Of Iowa

It’s a depressing ritual. Every four years, as Iowans prepare to cast the first votes in the presidential-primary season, candidates descend on the corn-covered state and discover the miraculous properties of ethanol.

It’s the Oil

Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.

Data centers: responsible for the energy crisis?

The running of expanding data centers is being linked to an emergent energy resource crisis.

Pioneer spirit will help solve our energy needs

The last century has been marked by petroleum use. However, as we learn that our dependence on foreign oil cannot be sustained, scientists are looking back to energy sources first tapped by pioneers. Wood, prairie grasses and many other renewable sources of cellulose will have a role in producing ethanol and other alternative fuels in the future. Harnessing wind, and capturing our vast solar power potential, will again be important to our energy production. The modern equivalent of the buffalo chip, manure from agriculture, may soon fuel ethanol plants.

Reactor could be in province's future

Saskatchewan could be the home of a nuclear reactor in years to come, according to a Cameco senior vice-president.

“A nuclear renaissance is here,” not only in the province but also around the world, Gary Chad told those gathered at an Oct. 12 Business Builder’s Luncheon sponsored by the Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce.

The Environmental Movement in the Global South: The Pivotal Agent in the Fight against Global Warming

When the rich chopped down their own forests, built their poison-belching factories and scoured the world for cheap resources, the poor said nothing. Indeed they paid for the development of the rich. Now the rich claim a right to regulate the development of the poor countries…As colonies we were exploited. Now as independent nations we are to be equally exploited.

City gives bike rentals a spin

A bicycle fleet that would make quick trips possible from kiosks throughout the city could hit Portland streets within a year, polishing the city’s image as one of the most bike-friendly places in the nation.

Energy Prices May Dictate Where Homes are Built and Bought

Transit-oriented development has become a "buzz-phrase" among developers, who recognize that the cost of energy likely will play a more important role in home buying decisions.

In fact, "house miles" (the number of miles a home is from employment, retail, education and entertainment) becoming a deal breaker or maker, according to land use industry experts at ULI's recent annual fall meeting in Denver.

Wall Street Could Use More Energized Investment

Energy provides the heat, motion and feedstock that cause all economic action. Energy is the industrial oxygen that gives life to the economy. Currently the majority of that industrial oxygen comes from the various forms of hydrocarbons, and investment in hydrocarbons looks bright for the foreseeable future. In the United States, 50 percent of electricity comes from coal and roughly another 30 percent comes from natural gas. Of course, nearly 100 percent of U.S. transportation fuels come from hydrocarbons, and demand has risen for the last 200 years. Since supply is constrained and demand continues to rise, this can only lead to continued good times for investors.

Saudi to increase oil sales

Saudi Arabia told major Asian refiners yesterday it will raise their crude sales by a tenth in November, more than expected as it meets the lion's share of Opec's pledge to boost output, industry sources said.

The recovery in shipments to 100 per cent of contractual volumes was a surprise to many customers, and would equate to as much as a 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) increase in exports.

Mexico's Pemex Seeks New Cooperation Deals With Exxon, Total

Petroleos Mexicanos hopes to strike new cooperation agreements with foreign oil majors, including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Total (TOT), a company executive said.

Closure may cut Aramco Nov LPG loading capacity by 30%

Shipments from the Dhahran of Saudi Arabia-based company are likely to be further curtailed by maintenance at an LPG export terminal in Yanbu. The planned closure may cut the company’s loading capability by between 30 and 50 per cent in November.

Niger Delta Crude Output Recovery on Track

Crude oil production from Nigeria's troubled Niger Delta region looks set to continue its recovery in the months ahead, Nigeria's finance minister told Dow Jones Newswires Friday.

Waiting for the Energy

Conventional wisdom among environmentalists today says it would be unwise to pass a major climate change bill too soon. As long as the Bush veto looms and Republicans retain the filibuster club in the Senate, any climate change bill that passes through that birth canal is likely to be a stunted, shriveled thing. Better to wait until a strong bill can be passed than to establish a weak policy now.

But energy is supposed to be different.

In India, a $2,500 Pace Car

Next fall, the Indian automaker Tata Motors is scheduled to introduce its long-awaited People’s Car, with a sticker price of about $2,500. Hot on its tail may be as many as half a dozen new ultra-affordable vehicles — some from the world’s leading carmakers, including Toyota and Renault-Nissan.

With a median age of just under 25 and a rapidly expanding middle class, India will overtake China next year as the fastest-growing car market, according to estimates by CSM Worldwide, an auto industry forecasting service.

Energy forum: Peak oil and hybrids

A group of more than 80 concerned residents attended the Community Dollars and Sense Energy Forum held Wednesday at Willits High School. Topics involved peak oil as well as gas, electric and hybrid vehicles.

Is flying akin to driving a Hummer?

Last spring, I attended a conference on the converging catastrophes of peak oil and climate change at a bucolic estate outside Hamburg in northern Germany. It was an intimate affair, and it began with an informal round of cocktails on the tidy lawn next to the manor house. As the timeless cadence of horse hooves echoed from behind the barn, the assembled circle of eminent geologists, policy wonks and seasoned environmental journalists traded answers to the most pressing question of the day: "How did you get here?"

Carbon labelling: Food footprints coming soon to a label near you

Putting carbons on goods and services was, until recently, just another interesting idea that used to be bandied about at meetings of environmentalists. What if consumers knew the carbon content of what they were buying? Would it make people more conscious of their environmental impact? Buyers could start to choose the greenest of a range of goods, rewarding companies that cut carbon output and creating a virtuous circle by which businesses would compete to outgreen each other.

But this year, carbon labelling has started to make an impact. In January, Tesco, the UK supermarket chain, announced it would put carbon labels on all the products on its shelves - though it later admitted this could take several years to achieve.

Nobel prize recognises climate crisis

In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the committee has signalled its view that climate change is now one of global society's defining security issues.

Gore's Nobel win should boost alternative energy

The winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel on Friday should give a push to alternative energy technologies that are already enjoying their best year ever, experts said.

The prize could spur change in the energy industry that coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power dominate.

Africa's biggest ethanol production project for Mozambique

"Under the project, among other things, more than 30,000 hectares of sugar cane will be produced as well as a factory for the production of ethanol from the sugar cane," said the minister, who did not give details of the quantity of ethanol to be produced annually."

Saving energy at home could take 200 years to repay its cost

The cost of installing energy-saving measures such as solar panels would take more than 200 years to recoup in reduced bills, according to research published today.

...Even loft insulation would take 13 years to produce savings in utility bills. “People on average spend 16 years living in one property, making most of the EPC energy saving measures financially unattractive propositions,” said RICS. Ten per cent stay in their home for less than five years, and about 12 per cent less than three years.

Oil quest goes to new lengths

As global demand soars and prices rise, energy companies are going to the ends of the earth to find new supplies.

...But as the industry extends its reach, the quest is becoming more arduous. The cost of producing new oil and gas is rising fast, and companies are troubled by worsening delays. Drilling rigs are scarce. Engineers, geologists and petroleum specialists are in short supply. And the politics of oil and gas are becoming trickier, with producing countries demanding a bigger share of the revenue and growing angry about project delays that postpone their payments.

Industry executives say their ability to keep up with global demand is badly strained.

Kazakhstan cuts oil output forecast, blames ENI

Kazakhstan will produce 13 percent less oil than expected by 2015, removing 400,000 barrels per day from forecast global supply, due to delays in launching the massive Kashagan field, government officials said on Friday.

Mideast Project Financing to Touch $1 Trillion in 10 Years

With project finance transactions reaching record highs and infrastructure development requirements assessed at more than $1 trillion over the coming decade in the Middle East region — and Qatar alone expected to consume $130 billion, demand from large-scale projects across the LNG, oil & gas, petrochemicals, power and water sectors in particular is growing at an exciting pace. Combined with the huge boom in major real estate projects, the stage is set for meeting the challenges of financing complex projects

Analysis: Algeria faces attacks on energy

Attacks on French companies in Algeria by an Islamist group associated with al-Qaida are moving some of those companies to evacuate their employees, but a relatively quick response by security forces there and increasing global demand for the nation's oil and gas make it likely that energy production and export will be little affected by the violence.

Peak Oil Passnotes: $100 Oil?

When this column turns away from baiting peak oil nihilists - and it is not hard - we often like to take a look at the market for crude oil. As you know we like to throw in a prediction now and again, our current one being that the WTI price at Cushing in the U.S. will fall to $66.60 at Christmas.

Thinking ahead

Population predictions for greater metro Albuquerque over the next l8 years seem delusional. If we top a million people by 2025, it will be a double-edged miracle.

On the good side, it will mean New Mexico had done something no place in the country has managed to do - solve its water, energy, transportation and sustainable agriculture issues. It also means that global warming and peak oil declines had somehow reversed themselves.

Human Cost Of Colombian Coal Revealed

A case study of the world's largest open-pit coal mine reveals the hidden costs of coal from Colombia, in particular the effects on indigenous and Afro-Colombian villages.

Three Gorges Dam to create eco-refugees

Chongqing's plan calls for the establishment of a green belt surrounding the reservoir to curb pollution and prevent further erosion of the Yangtze's banks.

The announcement follows an unusually frank government assessment last month that China could face a catastrophe if it fails to quickly stop environmental problems caused by the dam.

New book bashes the oilsands

Northern Alberta in the future: a massive toxic swamp, devoid of trees and animals, which all the proceeds of the oilsand profits siphoned to other countries.

That is the vision painted by author William Marsden in his recently-released book Stupid to the Last Drop, which levels both sharp and heavy criticism against oilsands development in the province.

The book has caught the attention -- and it’s not always positive -- of several oilsands and petroleum companies, spurring a new round of environmental and economics debate over the deposits, most of them in this region.

Australia: Water emergency

EMERGENCY plans have been prepared to supply Adelaide with spring water for drinking as experts warn the drought is forcing us to consider extreme measures.

Spring water suppliers yesterday said they had talks with SA Water about the feasibility of delivering water in either bottles or tankers to households if Adelaide's water crisis dramatically worsened.

Memo from a 'global warming agnostic'

Now that it's accepted beyond serious argument that global warming is real and worrisome, Canada's political parties are understandably trying to outbid each other in showing their commitment to fighting the phenomenon. That's better than head-in-the-sand denial. But it's obscuring the need for a sophisticated debate -- of the sort that's raging internationally -- about what the reality of global warming actually means in practical terms and what sacrifices are necessary to deal with it.

The unheralded polluter: cement industry comes clean on its impact

No company will make carbon-neutral cement any time soon. The manufacturing process depends on burning vast amounts of cheap coal to heat kilns to more than 1,500C. It also relies on the decomposition of limestone, a chemical change which frees carbon dioxide as a byproduct. So as demand for cement grows, for sewers, schools and hospitals as well as for luxury hotels and car parks, so will greenhouse gas emissions. Cement plants and factories across the world are projected to churn out almost 5bn tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2050 - 20 times as much as the government has pledged the entire UK will produce by that time.

The whole "home energy improvements aren't economic" thing is just silly, IMHO. Sure, in the terms a mortgage grifter would understand I'd never "recoup my investment" in putting up a turbine here to drive a ground loop cooling system. But if we take a tumble as a civilization, which seems to be a when rather than an if, this house will be warm or cool while the economic will freeze or swelter.

Its too late to pack the survival kit after one is already stranded on the desert island ... P&L used to mean profit and loss, but I'd like to suggest that peas and lentils will be the new meaning in a post peak world.

The difference, of course, is that for the vast majority of people, the idea that civilization will collapse any time soon is ridiculous. Might as well prepare for an invasion by Martians. Heck, in the US, there are probably more people preparing for the Rapture than preparing for a Mad Max future.

Pic (s) of the Day.

Courtesy Survivalacres:





Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Definitely some good shipping lanes up North in the "After" scenario :-)

Err, its not a 'scenario'.

Look at the filename.

Apples ...


to Apples:


Almost as visually impressive and no winter vs. summer controversy - the images are twenty nine years apart but at roughly the same time of the year.

It looks like we are moving from the large,whole house ducted HVAC system to the the little bread box sized unit ratteling away wedged in window.

Thanks for the links, SCT.

Mad Max is a lot more fun.

No rules. Just right.

As A Southern Christian I will vouch for that comment. It pains me to see so many people that have plainly just not taken the time to Look into their Bibles and read further. But then again I am a Lutheran by "demonation" yes that is misspelled for a reason. There should only be One Christian Chruch and there is, but God is the one counting the heads not the local Ushers.

Every time a person dies IMHO(Humble) there is a Rapture event. But I digress.

I am a eat your yard kind of plant grower. But that also means I am out there looking for every edible plant from here to kentucky, or in my case everywhere I can walk. Which currently with a hurt ankle and a bad knee is only about 5 miles per day. But as they get stronger I have a walking radius of about 10 miles I figure in my max city walking. 2 weeks ago it was 6 miles of radius. God willing and my own stubborn streak I will be up to the 10 mile radius in about 3 weeks.

Survival is not on the minds of anyone much, expect the trully Homeless, which I work with everyday. The General public is just not geared to survival. That is where folks like us will come in handy later in the years to come. Sharing Our hard earned skills, if the end does not bring war and famine on the scales it could bring.

God Grant you peace.
God Grant you Love of your fellow man.
God Grant you Faith and Trust.
Write in Candidate for President 2008.
Free Right Now party. No donations.
No wage over Lowest wage in the land.
Term limits for congress, 2 for Senate, 3 fo

Hello CEOJr1963

I'm no Christian and I don't believe in a God or Santa Clause and I also don't feel the need to profess by beliefs or non beliefs in every post I make.
Would you be offended if I proclaimed in every post that there was no God?

Apart from that I recognize that you are a sincere, good and righteous person and I admire you for understanding their plight and willingness to help the less fortunate when the affects of PO and GW become entrenched.

What does offend me though are those who have their acres and bunkers in the hills, with food stored for years and continually push entirely unrealistic options for the survival of everyone, they even tell us how they will defend their property but complain about the price of bullets.

They argue electric cars, solar panels on every roof and wind mills by the millions will save the day, logistics is never mentioned or considered. They tell us what they have, and what they have achieved, inferring how smart they are. They tell us what can be done but never, never tell us how it will happen.

They are truly representative of the overall psychopathic human race, their creed is FYJ and they live by it.

A bunker mentality will not save many. Community cooperation is the only defence against a world of scarce energy and food. Not that I think enough cooperation will eventuate, I just hope it will.

Enough of a rant for one day.

I agree. How long does it take to recoup the cost of new granite countertops? Or a designer outfit? Or a new plasma TV?

There's a difference between money spent for entertainment and money spent as an investment. If your hobby is solar tech, then installing solar panels is "worth it" even if you never save any money.

A new plasma TV is money spent for fun. No one expects to recoup their expense. Designer outfits...can be an expense, can be an investment. If it gets you a rich husband or wife, worth the money! ;-) Or more prosaically, "dressing for success" still counts in a lot of workplaces. The right clothes can mean the difference between getting a promotion or not getting one. (A friend of mine used to work for IBM. She went in on Christmas Eve a few years back, when there was hardly anyone around. She never dealt with the public, and thought it would be okay to wear jeans and a nice button-down shirt, just for that day. Wrong. Her boss saw her, called her into his office, and told her, "You're a brilliant engineer. It would be really tragic if you threw your career away because of the way you dress.")

Granite countertops can be worth the money, too, if they help your house stand out. A friend of mine was trying to sell her house in Shaker Heights, Ohio. There were something like 500 similar houses in the area for sale. The houses that were selling were the ones that had details like granite countertops or stainless steel appliances.

... the study from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors shows that some of the measures, such as solar panels to heat water, would cost £5,000 to install but reduce average bills by only £24 a year and would take about 208 years to pay back.

The RICS data shows that putting in all eight measures, including insulation, condenser boilers and double glazing, would cost £23,547. This would knock only £486 off fuel bills and would take 48 years to recoup.

I had one immediate reaction when reading this: the Chartered Surveyors live in a parallel universe which differs from mine on 3 main points:

  1. There is no inflation
  2. Energy prices don't rise (i.e. not faster than inflation)
  3. There will be no energy shortages

Now, the last two points can be forgiven, what could they know? But assuming zero inflation reeks of something a smitten less than good faith.

The first example is so absurd, we'll leave that alone. Looks like such an insane use of solar panels that somewhat lower taxes would be useless.

At 3% inflation, prices double every 23 years. So in the second example, which mentions a 48 years recoup period, savings, in the last years, would be over 4 times the £486 quoted. I don't want to do all the calcs (they should have though), but the recoup would take about 20 years instead of 48, I'd guesstimate.

In the real world, of course, we will see sharply higher energy prices (rising faster than inflation) even within the next 20 years, and the UK will see severe shortages. Solar panels, double glazing, all of these, can be expected to get more expensive too.

The only thing that would make true sense for a country like the UK (if not all countries) is to lower the sales tax to 0%, and provide loans to homeowners at the same 0%. If energy prices rise at double inflation, 6%, for a doubling every 11.6 years, it would be by far the best investment a government could ever hope to make. And the sooner the better!

Instead, the UK government pushes for more nuclear projects. And that may well be why we'll never see them do what makes more sense. Even though the projected costs for clean-up of older nuclear is now projected at between £73-100 billion, another 16% more than last year's projection, before it's even started. Government equals industry, politics equals economics.

Using less energy is an enormous threat to our economic system, and we'll have to break through the resistance inherent in the system. Down the line, less energy means less growth potential, and without growth the system dies.

In any case, the Chartered Surveyors should not issue these silly reports.

Even though the projected costs for clean-up of older nuclear is now projected at between £73-100

Did they hire Enron to do it? We just closed four reactors in Bulgaria, for euro 200 mln. a piece. With the money you site we could close the whole world nuclear industry plus change.

I don't doubt that if government beurocrats are given opportunity they will balloon costs to the sky - we've seen this happening in Yucca Mountain already, where $6bln. was spend just to investigate whether they could dig one hole in the ground. My advice: change your government.

Good Advice. We're on it.

Watch Afghanistan for details.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

I thought Afghanistan was changing back -- they said they didn't want democracy any more.

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

the Chartered Surveyors live in a parallel universe which differs from mine on 3 main points

4 points - in our universe, present money is worth more than future money.

When a government bond can get you a risk-free-as-it-gets 5%/yr return, that £23,547 will be £244,919 in 48 years, and the energy-saving improvements will never pay for themselves (at current rates).

The only thing that would make true sense for a country like the UK (if not all countries) is to lower the sales tax to 0%, and provide loans to homeowners at the same 0%.

Don't be silly - you know such loans would overwhelmingly be spent on non-energy-related things.

Using less energy is an enormous threat to our economic system

Not really - smaller cars, shorter commutes, and 40mph electric vehicles can already take care of most of our oil dependency.

And "energy" isn't the problem here - it's oil. As much as people may not like it, there's plenty of coal around.

there's plenty of coal around

There is, however, a severe shortage of atmosphere in which to dump the combustion byproducts into.


There is, however, a severe shortage of atmosphere in which to dump the combustion byproducts into.

True. I'm simply attacking the pernicious misconception that a shortage of liquid fuels means a shortage of energy, and the world's large reserves of coal are the most obvious way to do that. Other alternatives are preferable, but if energy shortages get bad enough to "break our economic system", coal will be there to make sure society doesn't crumble for lack of energy.

By preference, of course, that won't be necessary.

So instead society collapses due to environmental disaster and climate change? Wow, big improvement there, Pitt. Excuse me if I don't find your argument compelling.

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

So instead society collapses due to environmental disaster and climate change?

You may wish to re-familiarize yourself with the False Dilemma Fallacy.

Excuse me if I don't find your argument compelling.

No, you simply fail to understand what I'm saying.

I'm not arguing in favour of coal; I'm simply saying (a) peak oil is not peak energy, and (b) a rapid decline in oil availability is likely to lead to increased coal consumption, unless alternatives improve enough to take up the slack.

Alternatives (including conservation) would be preferable, obviously.

Hi Pitt,

Interesting point.

re: "a shortage of liquid fuels means a shortage of energy"

A few Qs, though:

1) Don't we have to define this a little more precisely to know what "a shortage of liquid fuels" does actually mean? Or, what the actual results will be?

As a subset of total energy, a shortage in the LF portion does mean the *total* amount of energy coming into what I'll call "the system" actually will decrease - yes?

So, in this sense, a "shortage" of LF does precisely mean a "shortage" of total energy input. (As far as I can tell.)

2) Further, at the present time, we have - what percentage (or how else to qualify and/or quantify it) - of the energy extraction/production technology of non-oil energy sources dependent upon the availability of oil - yes?

This means, coal extraction is dependent upon oil - yes? How to analyze this in meaningful terms in order to see just what the effects of "LF shortage" will be in total energy terms?

Just as sketches, the numbers I've seen are 8% shortfall (oil supply v. demand) for US spells - some kind of big trouble for the "economic system" - (yes?)

3) re: "if energy shortages get bad enough to "break our economic system", coal will be there"

How is it that "energy shortages" will provide the means - (or trigger) - for coal to "be there"? Or, do I misunderstand you here?

If it is not the "energy shortages" that will somehow provide impetus for coal to be there, then what is the cause and effect?

It seems the opposite is the case - oil shortages could/ possibly would/will cause sufficient disruption in just about everything - (agree or disagree?). How is it that coal will "be there"?

4) "crumble"
Well, it seems like moving to lower-value energy resources, such as coal (and what percentage high grade coal is left?) - would actually imply some "crumbling", or, adjustments to lower-value sources. The question is: are these "adjustments" going to prevent or halt the direction of disintegration?

How much can *not* work and still have the "economic system" function?

So, it seems the questions are:

1. How much energy
2. From where
3. within what time period
4. Can avoid "crumble"
5. And then what?

There's a difference between money spent for entertainment and money spent as an investment.

Indeed, I have occasionally thought that there should be another metric, EROEW - Energy Return on Energy Wasted. This could be a fruitful concept, since by any reasonable measure MOST of the energy being used by the human race is currently 'wasted' in order to stimulate human brains in unnecessary ways.

Under EROEW, you could have quite positive results even with terrible EROEI.

It's stupid but true. Most 'energy' and 'environment' projects these days actually fall more under EROEW than anything else.

EROEW, I laughed at that one. I was a driver of a vehicle just over a month ago. 9-11 of 2007 brought that to a close. The wreck nearly totalled my van. But I am getting spare parts from junk years and I know how to fix things witht he help of my Father who has the tools to Weld the thing back together if need be. But I am and always have been a walker. I am eating a bit more than I used to, but I am also walking a bit further than I used to as well. I could say I have a bus pass, but I handed it off to my 3rd Ex-wife she needs it more than I do. Seeing that we are trying to work on getting back together, but that is another story as well.

Xsurbs would die at the EROEW meteric. Even though my parents and I do not watch TV them it is about 15 years me it is about 8. We do things like read books and play on the Internet. Though my dad has worked on making his hauling trailer a covered wagon, using PVC pipes and 1/4 in strand board, he is painting it for protection now, and we know it will haul just about anything we can put in it. It used to be a Tent Camper, from the 60's.

I would not know how much stuff my dad has in his sheds and storage, but I imagine, this house being the center of a vast Hardware store in the trading for food future. He has over 5,000 Cubic feet of tools and more fastners and hardware things than most hardware stores I have been in. You name the Hardware Dept and I will name the things he has, or skills he has to fix things.

The Local kids come over to get their Skate-boards fixed. While we were cooking supper this evening, they showed up and I fixed something for them. Next door we have a Concrete expert. Across the street we have a Glass man, mostly Auto glass, but he has hung mirrors and other window glass for my dad's old job. Three Pastors, one retired,( counting me as a walkabout pastor to the Homeless folks), and one with a church van parked in his yard.

This is a Working class neighborhood and is in its second childhood. My parents being the oldest residents and having the respect of the rest of the folks. I guest I am the odd one out. I keep odd hours and I practice my stave training in the front yard and wave at folks as they come and go.

EROEW would be a good study program.

God Grant you peace.
God Grant you Love of your fellow man.
God Grant you Faith and Trust.
Write in Candidate for President 2008.
Free Right Now party. No donations.
No wage over Lowest wage in the land.
Term limits for congress, 2 for Senate, 3 fo

The right clothes can mean the difference between getting a promotion or not at IBM. She has to decide if she can fit in with their culture or not. And whether she wants to be promoted. Success just means more 60 hour workweeks and four marriages.

There's lots of places an engineer can work Christmas eve in jeans and a t-shirt. IBM isn't one of them.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

She eventually took the buyout from IBM.

Engineers at my office pretty much all wear jeans and T-shirts - every day. It's one thing I love about it, because work clothes are a not-insignificant expense. Not to mention it's more comfortable than suits and ties/hose and heels.

I worked for IBM for 30 yrs and retired there.

Long long ago it was suits and white shirts out in the field,then I went to the Sys Design and Dev(not in the field) and most wore anything they wished and that was in the early 70's.

A workmate wore extremely short mini-skirts enough so that we threw coins on the floor in front of her at meetings..she was a full fledged biker chick and it didn't bother her a bit.

One jewish fella wore clothes made of the American flag motif.Most wore jeans. Being a ex-field guy I wore slacks and felt overdressed..this was Kingston,NY.

If she was an engineer and not in the field she was ok..her mgr was the problem and in the real old IBM the employee would have been kept but the erring mgr would have been shitcanned or severely chewed out...engineers and good programmers were more valuable than a stupid mgr.

airdale-I was there and have the rolex to prove it..now you get a plastic chinese trink instead of a $3,000 Rolex..times have changed but ignorant management has not..sadly..

Funny, while reading this post it struck me that a collar and tie is symbolic. In bygone years slaves wore an iron collar and chain, now it is made of cloth. No wonder employers are so strict on the correct form of dress. Staff must know their place. :)

Yeah, the "neck tie" is another symbolic accessory. Maybe that's why smart engineers wear clip on ties...

E. Swanson

In financial terms, you are describing 'shortfall risk' - that % chance that you fall short of your minimum requirements, which are of course, food, water, heat, shelter.

When looked at from completely an economic point of view, this risk is zero, but readers of this site know its some unknown % greater than zero so you bring up a good point.

Also, I'm guessing those analyses are using current electricity costs which are subsidized by cheap coal and nat gas - if there is a doubling or tripling or more of electricity in years to come, people that spent money on energy efficiency upgrades/investments will look smart.

Those type of long term investments are like buying 'convexity' in the bond market - as interest rates (energy prices) rise, you get an outsized impact on your investment, the longer your duration is - esoteric concept but I think it applies equally well to finance and energy, and is helpful when one thinks the future world will run on energy as the current one runs (kind of) on interest rates.

The numbers used are badly wrong. £5000 for solar panels to gain £24 worth of improvement? Only if you were dumb enough to install solar PV panels to power an immersion heater and take nothing but cold showers.

RICS are a sizeable part of the problem with regard to overpriced housing stock in the UK, and they fought the introduction of energy certificates in the first place. Even though reducing VAT on home energy products is a good idea, they aren't proposing it for positive motives, you can bet.

SCT - I was going to say much the same thing. Why is it that ROI is a big deal when it comes to energy when the vast majority of money people spend is for crap that will never give a return?

I have to admit that this has driven me crazy for years. People can afford a plasma TV for several thousand dollars but wouldn't consider installing a solar water heating system. Or, they buy the $40k SUV that sucks gas like there is no tomorrow (one day they'll find out there isn't one) but wouldn't consider inproving their home's insulation.

The other irony is that energy improvements at least hold out the possibility of a return whereas, if the market tanks or hyperinflation occurs, they basically lose any chance of a return from their money.


Because they can Todd. Because they can and they have not one iota in their internal expectation of the future tells them basic needs might not be available. Im writing a (short) post on what might happen if everyone in the world read and understood what is discussed on this site - might be a good thing - might not.

If we had 6 billion 'realists' all at once, it might not be too fun...

Here is a fresh idea for Wind power. Very interesting concept, if it works? Easy enough to build to. Scalability on a small scale looks easy for light loads.


Claims to have better efficiency that a turbine.

I think this concept brings up an idea I haven't heard discussed:

is it better to develop low-efficiency wind and thermal solar designs that can be built using cannibilized parts like in this article, rather than expend energy and CO2 building PVs and composite blades?

If we will need millions of turbines, we've got a carbon fiber shortage.

A few days ago I was thinking about how to build a wind turbine out of bamboo. At first I thought the obvious thing, using each trunk as a spar for one blade. Then I thought about vertical turbines.

Take a straw and cut it vertically into four thin blades almost all the way to the bottom. Now each of the four blades is curved. Twist each of those slightly, and pack the hollow backside of each with a structural material until you've turned it into an airfoil.

This is a disposable, biodegradable, low-efficiency wind turbine. You might carve a groove in the trunk, and connect it by pulley to a motor, like the motor on an electric bicycle, to produce power.

Offsetting the low efficiency is the fact that you've actually captured carbon in producing the bamboo. Once it's damaged or worn out, you go ahead and process or burn the fibers as you once would have when you originally cut it down.

I've thought this myself. I think Homer-Dixon is right. Efficiency is not what we should strive for. It only makes us more vulnerable if something goes wrong. We should strive for resilience instead. Which is pretty much the opposite of efficiency.

>Which is pretty much the opposite of efficiency.

Not necessarily. If the US were to shift from energy imports to a variety of domestically produced energy, it would appear that it could increase efficiency while also increasing energy security (energy resilience). This would allow the full net energy potential of renewables to be realized, since increasing efficiency would of course decrease the energy-in part of the EROEI equation.

If the US were to shift from energy imports to a variety of domestically produced energy, it would appear that it could increase efficiency while also increasing energy security (energy resilience).

Disagree. We import energy precisely because it is more efficient to do so.


Resilience is really not the best way to frame the issue. Rather, what we want is reliable energy systems. Systems that are unlikely to fail catastrophically. Reliability can be increased while also increasing efficiency by moving to energy resources that have a substantially lower probability of catastrophic failure. I think shifting to a variety of domestic energy resources unquestionably decreases that probability.

But with respect to resilience, one can achieve better resilience and increased efficiency by, for example, moving to local energy resources so that if one fails the whole system does not go down and help is readily available. Such a system would require spare capacity, but could be quite efficient.

Again, I disagree. What we should be working for is a system that doesn't require reliability.

But with respect to resilience, one can achieve better resilience and increased efficiency by, for example, moving to local energy resources so that if one fails the whole system does not go down and help is readily available. Such a system would require spare capacity, but could be quite efficient.

No, it's not efficient. That's why we're not doing it.

We should be working toward systems that are more efficient, more reliable, and more resilient than the current systems. The broad generalization that these are logically incompatible goals in all circumstances is false, just like nearly all broad generalizations.

Disagree. Kunstler is right. Efficiency is the straightest path to hell.

An analogy I like is a case history from The Two-Income Trap, a study of bankruptcy in the US. To their surprise, they found that the people most likely to declare bankruptcy were not the ones buying $4 lattes, driving new SUVs, and buying plasma TVs on credit. The reason? Those people, if they get into trouble, can easily cut back. They can make coffee at home, trade their SUV for a used Corolla, and stop charging toys on their credit cards.

The ones who ended up declaring bankruptcy were the ones who weren't "wasting" money that way. When they got into trouble through a job loss or serious illness, they had nowhere to cut back.

The title of the book is also an illustration of resilience. You would think that a family where both parents work would be better off, at least economically, than one with a sole breadwinner. That turns out not to be the case. When only one parent works, the other is valuable "spare capacity." If a child gets sick, the non-working parent can care for him. If the breadwinner loses his job, the other parent can enter the work force. A nonworking parent is not "efficient," but it is a very valuable reserve that can save a family from catastrophe.

two income families accomplishs two things, more consumption and cheaper labor. not all that different from imigrant labor. just one consequence of the so called women's lib movement of the '60's.

imo children need a full time parent, mommy or daddy or mommy or mommy or daddy or daddy.

I think it was globalization that resulted in cheaper labor. Consumption actually hasn't increased that much with two-income families. What did increase was the prices of homes in neighborhoods with good schools. Basically, parents got into a bidding war for those, and single-income families just couldn't compete. It was money spent for a "worthy" cause - an investment in the education of their children - so you can't really blame them.

Both my parents worked, and I was fine with it. I enjoyed the independence, actually. But in general, I suspect the more adults per child the better. Why stop with two parents? The nuclear family is not natural. Humans have traditionally lived in extended families. Children didn't have one parent or two, they had six or twelve or twenty. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great uncles, etc.

"Humans have traditionally lived in extended families. Children didn't have one parent or two, they had six or twelve or twenty. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great uncles, etc."

This is NOT traditional times any more and hasn't been for a long time..

If your inferring that todays mixmaster families have extended families then I disagree...

I also disagree that is was not the gloabalization that brought us here..it was the famous two family wage earner scenario.

That not only ruined stable marriages but let others raise their kids and in so doing creating the children we see today...wasted,no skills,no motivation...just look into the eyes of those hanging out at the malls..

I worked delivering papers,shagging goldballs,caddying , as a car hop at Steak and Shake and in a auto parts store and this was all before I graduated high school...todays kids? They have Nintendos,Playstations,Xbox and the list goes on and on..they are wasted I say...wasted..a waste of human flesh...its a shame..all for greed and a new set of chinese cookie cutter bullshit or whatever rings their miserable chimes and note Leanan..it has brought us precisely to this very spot..with chaos on the rising horizon.

Thats where it took us to.


i am guessing that shagging goldballs has some cultural meaning that an Englishman doesn't get
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Hi RA,

Just in case you're not joking...I think he meant to say "golf balls". If you are joking, thanks - I enjoy it when I have occasion to smile reading TOD.

The extended family is not so much traditional as cultural. In the Phillipines for example, families (the few I know) subdivide their land when children start families of their own, and cousins, grandparents, etc. all live next to each other. Some children are raised by auties and uncles, or by grandparents. The strictly nuclear family is a western, cultural bias, and has little useful function... but it does drive the consumer culture well!

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

Efficiency and resiliency are at opposite ends of the same spectrum, with different survival-based goals. Maximum efficiency is the path to the fastest growth, maximum resiliency is the path to the longest survival.

Typically for most human endeavors, you need a little of both.

Our modern lives are efficient in the same way that the Native Americans were resilient.

The human body is more resilient than efficient. When we start to run low on fuel, we can feel it in terms of hunger, and we can really feel it after a few days of no food as the amount we are able to "do" drops, but doesn't crash.

A car is more efficient than resilient. You can go flat out on the accelerator, and the engine will run until it breaks or you run out of gas. After that, the car will not run, period.

The human body can eat a wide variety of foods for fuel, and three different types of fuel of widely varying quality (protein, carbohydrates, fats), resiliency. A typical car can accept only one type of fuel, gasoline, efficiency.

1. "More efficient" means we get more net energy for the effort we put in. Unless fusion takes off, looks like oil is the best we can ever expect re: efficiency. It's a naturally occurring explosive liquid, see.

2. More reliable means we can take it for granted - we can do activities that assume the system is always available. Today this is somewhat true of our electrical grid, which is powered by naturally occurring combustible solids and gases. Again, without fusion there's no system that can beat that. Wind, wave, and solar cycle on and off.

3. Leanan's point about resiliency is extremely important. It tells us something about the dark side of "progress"

The production of one pig in modern society requires almost no personal attention by a human, but requires using unsustainable fossil fertilizer, fossil water, and fossil fuel.

This modern system is efficient - today pork is practically a condiment, where just a hundred years ago it was survival food.

Both pig producers and pig eaters have become increasingly dependent on an unsustainable system, about which they personally know less and less.

As the production side becomes increasingly efficient, more pigs are produced with less fuel and fewer people.

When fossil fuel finally enters permanent shortage, however, just a small shortfall in fuel will result in a large shortfall in pork production, because the process had been made so efficient.

This system is efficient but not resilient.

If the system had been less efficient (if fewer pigs were made with more fuel) it would be more resilient to fuel shortage - a shortage of fuel could be countered by developing higher efficiency.

But if the system has already been made as efficient as possible, there is no room to adjust for a fuel shortage.

This, in my opinion, explains why Americans are personally so wasteful of resources, relative to Europeans and Japanese. Efficiency measures are a scarce resource; Americans are saving them for later, when they will need them.

Unless fusion takes off, looks like oil is the best we can ever expect re: efficiency.

Energy Density by Volume:

U-235 - 1,500,000,000 mega joules / liter
Gasoline - 34.6 mega joules / liter

Energy Density - Wikipedia

Yes, and the sun's core has even more megajoules per liter!

Your post no verb, but I will try to respond.

Oil contains a double digit percentage of natural gasoline, and uranium ore contains a tiny percentage of uranium, which itself contains 1% U-235.

Oil is pumped from the ground as a liquid, but uranium ore must be strip-mined.

Once you've paid for the strip-mining, smelting, and concentration of U-235, and its containment and disposal, the net energy is not as great as you claim. Plus the energy so generated is used to heat water, which drives turbines, which generate electricity, which must be distributed via the grid. Each of these steps loses double-digit percentages of energy.

I was going to say something similar, but you beat me to it.

After all the discussion of Energy Returned on Energy Invested.....


Thanks for the link.

I forgot to mention that nuclear power plant fuel is only 3-5% U-235. We can't use higher concentrations, because they tend to melt down and explode, killing everyone with radiation sickness. I can put 100% pure gasoline in a plastic jug and leave it in my garage.

Its a question of geometry. Physically small nuclear reactors such as those in nuclear submarines use smaller cores with higher enrichment. But the power output is not increased since the fuel rods has a temperature limit. Higher enrichment makes it possible for a smaller core to sustain a chain reaction and with a burnable neutron absorber that provides the same slowing effect in the beggining of a run as the fissin produtcs as the end the core can be run for manny years withouth refueling, That is very prectical in a vessel such as a submarine that has little volume for refueling equipment.

Once you've paid for the strip-mining, smelting, and concentration of U-235, and its containment and disposal, the net energy is not as great as you claim.

It would be nice if some people had even the slightest clue as to what they were talking about.

>No, it's not efficient. That's why we're not doing it.

Please support this claim. Remember, we are concerned here about the future. Assuming fossil fuel decline and severe climate change risk, the future is renewables. Why would it be less efficient to put say, solar power near each locality (or on each roof) in the southwest than to centralize them and transmit the power with losses over long distances?

I'm not talking about what we peak oilers think the future will be like. I'm talking about what's going on now.

Why would it be less efficient to put say, solar power near each locality (or on each roof) in the southwest than to centralize them and transmit the power with losses over long distances?

Maybe not less efficient, but it is less reliable. The reason the grid is so big is so we can share electricity, moving it from places where there's extra to places that need more. But it doesn't make it more resilient, as we found in August of 2003, when overgrown trees in Ohio caused a cascading failure that forced over a 100 power plants in the US and Canada to shut down.


This doesn't quite fit here, but at some point our ridiculous lack of badgirs in this country should be discussed.


Air conditioning is basically free in low humidity environments, as long as one spends a little time at the beginning of the design cycle to make room for the required bits.



Let's take it all the way to an extreme and say that every house has a PV array in PV Ville. Central City has a single electrical power plant composed of an equal number of PV panels.

Mounting. Central City engineers design a single mount system that works for every single panel. Through economies of scale, the Central City mounting costs (civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering and construction) will be less than the much larger number of and types of residential mounting systems in PV Ville.

Tracking. Both localities want to track the sun to optimize instantaneous kW. Central City can engineer tracking systems that operate on more than one panel at a time. PV Ville needs a tracker per panel. Central City engineers will strive towards a single tracker for the whole kit.

Maintenance. CC plant personnel are always a relatively short distance away from the panels. Maintenance is obviously more efficient in terms of time and cost. To be as responsive, PV Ville has to rely on each resident on standby to maintain their own panel. Either PVV residents don't perform any other economic activity, or maintenance suffers greater cost as specialist respond to maintenance issues.

The list goes on. CC is more efficient from a $$ perspective by a long shot. And the systems we actually in fact build look a lot more like CC than PVV. But in terms of resilience, CC can be shut down by a single thunderhead, whereas PVV would see a reduction, but much less so.

A resilient system will always have multiple means to similar ends. And the efficiencies of the range of means will themselves have a range of values. When profit is a main driver of decision making, which it is, the inefficient means are pruned. So we are in fact 'doing it' ever more efficiently. This tends towards homogeneity and simultaneously exposes more of the system to single points of failure.

Peak Oil represents one such point of failure.

Resilient systems are sloppy. But sloppiness has virtues.

Hmmm...how to convince my wife of the last??

Your municipal facility is consistent with what I meant by "local." It would appear to be both more efficient and more resilient than current regional facilities with long range transmission costs and losses. If one community looses power for while, another can lend assistance.

Not to nit-pick, but you did say 'on each roof.' So we agree that 'on each roof' is less fit in an economic darwinian sense than the central plant. By the same logic, a collection of 'close enough' cities will economically select a single plant to service all rather than each have their own.

Repeat at each scale as you expand out and you will have the status quo. The balance of all variables is quite exquisite to me in that an enormous range of variables from cost to transport coal, vessel safety valve sizing, transmission line loss, pump sizing, meter selection, access to proper human capital, adequate cooling loads, and on, and on is optimized by a single variable --- cost.

I watch the twinkies and Coors lites spinning around the assembly line on The Discovery Channel and I marvel at what can be accomplished.

But localizing energy production processes as well as all others is more costly than centralizing it. It's darwinian. 'Cause if it were more $$ efficient to localize (i.e. de-centralize), the shareholders would beat the CEO's severely around the head and neck till they got the message.

Localized == More Resilient == More sustainable == Less $$ efficient

Problem is, there ain't no $$ in true sustainability.

Your are correct sir, I did mention roof top. But my main point was that local defined more broadly can be more efficient under some circumstances. Seems we can agree that there is an optimum efficiency point between massively local and massively centralized. I suspect that as we move toward more renewables, that balances will shift toward local, but who knows.

A concentrating solar power system needs a sun tracker. Otherwise, no one wouldn't bother. PV Ville with their PV panels would not buy a solar tracker. PV central might, depends on their system.

Current electrical generating systems (of whatever fuel) have large economies of scale. You can buy a diesel generator and put it in your basement but the cost means you'll only run it in an emergency. PV panels do not have strong economies of scale. Whatever PV central saves will be eaten up in transaction costs.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

I have a sense there are two concepts being mixed now under the same term of 'efficiency'.

A modern way of thinking of efficiency is probably: highly interlinked, very complex network of components, hard coupled and with minimum overcapacity (JIT, streamlined, pruned down).

This has two components:

1. Risk of catastrophic failure due to hard coupling, high complexity / interlinkage

2. Reduction of "waste" in the whole process through elimination of stocks, overcapacity, spare capacity and several fail over systems. That is, an increase in efficiency.

However, simpler and loosely coupled systems (think autonomous distributed micro-power generation in electricity) can be more resilient while at the same time offering more system efficiency: make/use energy primarily at the same place, avoid extra transfer of fuels & electricity and allow for a workable grid that still semi-operates when broken into smaller pieces.

I think we should get real, get a good handle on what is truly long-term sustainable, get busy building that up as quickly as possible without distraction, and adjust ourselves as quickly as possible to that new reality.

For example: We know that solar in one form or another is going to be a great big chunk of whatever sustainable energy future we have. The sun only shines during the day. Rather than figuring out how to store solar energy to use 24 hours per day, we need to be figuring out how to adapt to an energy source that is available less than 12 hours/day. It can be done, but it will not be "efficient". It won't be particularly reliable (clouds), except in the sense that we can rely on solar energy to NOT be available every night. Whether or not it is resilient I leave to you to judge, but it doesn't really matter, does it? We MUST use solar energy in the future if we are to have any sort of future at all.

The sun only shines during the day. Rather than figuring out how to store solar energy to use 24 hours per day, we need to be figuring out how to adapt to an energy source that is available less than 12 hours/day.


If there are low-impact, sustainable ways to store solar energy 24/7 - and there do indeed seem to be such ways - then why arbitrarily prevent ourselves from using them?


Because storing solar energy to use when the sun isn't shining is inherently less efficient than is using the solar energy immediately while the sun is shining. Storing solar energy inevitably requires a transformation from one type of energy into another, and probably a further transformation into yet another form when taken out of storage. There are going to be losses at each step, per the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Why arbitrarily insist on arranging our lives in such a way as to insist that energy be made available to us on demand, 24/7? Why not adjust our lifestyles to live WITH the patterns of nature?

Because storing solar energy to use when the sun isn't shining is inherently less efficient

So? Thermodynamic efficiency of energy consumption is less important than utility of energy consumption. If it's more useful to use 90% as much energy when it's most useful, then that's the most efficient way to use it.

Why arbitrarily insist on arranging our lives in such a way as to insist that energy be made available to us on demand, 24/7?

You are mistaken. If it turns out to be better to use no energy at night, then we can certainly do that. The odds are effectively zero of that, though - lights, water, and heat are all pretty handy at night.

"Such a system would require spare capacity, but could be quite efficient."

"Spare" is a word that will be used less and less.

Unless it's used for objects/creatures that TPTB think they can do w/out.

Like us.

Gigantic “Niagra size moulins” (melt holes) dumping millions of gallons of water have been discovered in the Greenland ice.

I doubt the average person understands the significance of these developments, but they will, soon.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

"Disagree. We import energy precisely because it is more efficient to do so."

Is that really true? Is it "more efficient" or simply more economical?

It has been pointed out both in TOD and many other places that a great deal of the costs of imported oil are "externalized" and simply don't show up in the oil price, such as military power exerted to get it, to protect it, carbon release clean up from it's use, etc.

What is the EROEI of aircraft carrier on station 24/7?

What we are seeing once again is part of the ongoing slander against not one, but ANY thought of an alternative to oil and gas consumption. I am just so dismayed that even very alert people are failing to see this for what it is, an ongoing attempt to salvage the status quo. You don't have to be a doomer to see that that is not sustainable.


I mean more efficient in the engineering sense. I'm saying efficiency should not be our goal. Or at least, not our only goal. Switching from SUVs to Priuses might help temporarily, but in the long term, we're going to have live in a world where we just don't travel much.

We talk about the economics of this here on TOD - rail electrification, bikes and scooters, relocalization, but I seldom see anything about the massive psychological effect these changes will have.

People here get enraged when they can't move along ten miles an hour above the posted speed limit. Rude gestures are exchanged over simple mistakes or lack of attention by another driver, and this periodically devolves to physical violence. We consistently drive at seventy plus miles an hour on the interstate, crossing an important human reaction capability line by doing so. Going slower feels ... somehow wrong.

We hate scheduled transport. We want to go when we want, where we want, at a speed somewhat in excess of the posted limits. I can get to Las Vegas from here in about nine hours including drive time and airplane changes. Doing the same by Amtrak is a forty one hour journey.

I'd like to suggest an experiment. Winter is coming, so have your vehicle serviced. Take it, drop it off, and take the bus or a taxi home and wait for it to be completed. Go and sit, close your eyes, and see what comes up? A mental list of errands you could run ... except you don't have your car? Do you feel ... constrained?

Do you have a nice car? A fast one? A big, safe one? How does it make you feel? Many Americans identify quite closely with the brand and type of vehicle that they drive. I am an efficient vehicle owner. My brother owns a gigantic four wheel drive truck and constantly teases me about the size of my sedan. His is a working vehicle in a job when big tires and lots of pulling power is a requirement but so many vehicles like that are pavement queens purchased as an expression of masculinity.

Peak oil will be emasculating for a great many men. Their powerful vehicle (potency) will become a liability. If their job goes (security & respectability) that is another big aspect of identity swept away.

A sensible transition would require some media warm up, redefining what is important. This won't happen, as those media driven definitions are profit motivated and those who pay for them are going to be part of the great financial culling about to descend on us.

This is going to be an ugly thing, this mass of unemployed, disempowered men. Someone will find political benefit in directing the anger ...

What he (or she) said.

I'd like to suggest an experiment. Winter is coming, so have your vehicle serviced. Take it, drop it off, and take the bus or a taxi home and wait for it to be completed. Go and sit, close your eyes, and see what comes up? A mental list of errands you could run ... except you don't have your car? Do you feel ... constrained?

No. I've arranged my life so I don't need a car. It's a convenience, but I don't need it. Even the car repair and maintenance places are walking distance for me.

I've owned a car for years now, but in many ways, I still think like someone who doesn't have one. Probably because for so many years, I didn't have a car. Everyone once in awhile, I think, "Wow, I have a car. I can go anywhere I want, any time I want." In some ways, it still hasn't sunk in.

By national standards this makes you officially "weird" :-)

I was suggesting this for those who still flit from point A to point B on the regular ...

Today I walked to the nearest county library and walked back. It took an hour. Hundreds and hundreds of cars zoomed past me at 40mph. I saw nobody on foot or bicycle. I passed by three fast food stores, whose drive-in lanes each had about a dozen cars, idling. At the library there were no adults, except parents with children. I felt out of place.

I came home and made a sandwich from a $0.25 loaf of bread and a $0.10 tomato from "Vien Dong III Superfood Warehouse" and two slices of meat and cheese from the local warehouse store.

I borrowed Jared Diamonds' "Collapse" and "Guns Germs and Steel" from the library. I figured the book would be called "Collapse?" because that's what the Getty exhibition was called. But no, it's "Collapse."

Jevon's Paradox explained:

The Oil Drum | Efficiency Policy, Jevon’s Paradox, and the “Shadow ...
How would Jevon's paradox play out post Peak Oil!! Increasing efficiency(?) will meet decreasing supply. It may even out for a while but eventually reducing ...

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

The opposity of efficiency is stupidity.
Withouth efficiency you waste energy, material and work hours.

I think what Leanan means is 'redundancy' in the system when referring to efficiency vs. resilience. From an engineering standpoint, redundant features are inefficient. But from a resilience standpoint they are desirable.

Food production is illustrative. If we all grew our own food, then time spent growing calories is time not spent growing GDP. And some would not grow food optimally. So a drive towards macro-efficiency will tend towards the monoculture systems we have. Given low cost energy, a relatively few individuals can apply superior tools, techniques, and skill to produce food for all. The rest can focus on iPods, financial derivatives, and travel agency.

But this creates single points of failure. Take away the cheap energy and hunger follows. In the thought experiment where we all produce our own calories from disparate crops, then no single drought, bug infestation, or other calamity will cause hunger to all. Just the few unfortunates affected.

It's highly inefficient from a national GDP perspective for everyone to grow their own food. But it's resilient.

A resilient system will by definition be performing similar tasks via multiple paths. The multiple paths ensure that no one failure will cause macro damage. But it's almost axiomatic that the multitude of paths will have different efficiencies. And in our current world, the inefficient paths get snuffed out. Resilience goes down as a result.

Very nice explanation.

Just to point out, but your definition/understanding of 'resilience' is wrong.

Resilience is all about recovery from failure. A resilient system might employ redundancy, but it doesn't have to. Its perfectly possible to arrange a system to be resilient even with no redundancy. For instance, introduce a buffer into a system (like stores that are topped up and drawn from) and a repair system that can fix problems faster than the stores run down and you can have a system resilient to supply failures with no redundancy in supply routes.

Its important, since the prime mechanism for delivering resilience in the real world is generally improved speed of fixing the system, not alternative mechanisms. That has implications for what a resilient system can and cannot deliver.

recovery from failure...I like the distinction.

Concerning resiliency, your last paragraph:

..the prime mechanism for delivering resilience in the real world is generally improved speed of fixing the system..

exposes the single point of failure problem.

Our systems are both highly $$ efficient and enabled by low cost energy. Take away the low cost energy and both the $$ efficiencies suffer AND the very basis of the mechanisms of resilience become suspect. Suffer outright shortages of energy and the resilience mechanism starts to buckle. With positive feedbacks that amplify the disturbance.

I read a quote from Amory Lovins recently, can't find the page, where he essentially says that Extreme Efficiency (my quote, dibs on the quote) is the path to corporate salvation.

This will, and it will, lead to heroic and temporarily successful efforts to grow the economy even after gross liquid BTU'S peak. But there is an inflection point out there when Extreme Efficiency (remember, dibs on the quote) is maxed out. And I do expect this to be post peak. At that point we will have all the makings of some perfect storms. The system will be at maximum size, at maximum complexity, and must have n BTU's / day.

I read a quote from Amory Lovins recently, can't find the page, where he essentially says that Extreme Efficiency (my quote, dibs on the quote) is the path to corporate salvation.

This will, and it will, lead to heroic and temporarily successful efforts to grow the economy even after gross liquid BTU'S peak. But there is an inflection point out there when Extreme Efficiency (remember, dibs on the quote) is maxed out. And I do expect this to be post peak. At that point we will have all the makings of some perfect storms. The system will be at maximum size, at maximum complexity, and must have n BTU's / day.

Exactly! I really think we're barking up the wrong tree with efficiency, and Lovins is the poster child for it.

A truly sustainable, zero-growth economy MUST put a high premium on efficiency. Waste is the closest thing to an unforgiveable sin in such an economy.

The question, though, is: what do we mean by "efficiency"?

To answer that question, one must also ask: what do we mean by "waste"?

Waste is doing something that doesn't truly need to be done. Waste is using up something that doesn't truly need to be used up.

In our present high-growth, unsustainable economy, our thinking is so messed up that I can see us thinking we are being very "efficient", when in truth we are still being highly wasteful, and thus not truly efficient at all.

For example, in a truly sustainable economy, efficiency is not just a matter of figuring out the most efficient means of traveling somewhere; rather, it is a matter of figuring out how to forgo as much travel as possible in the first place. Travel is very wasteful of energy, and materials, and land, and time, and labor. A truly sustainable economy will place a premium on keeping travel as minimal as possible -- the exact opposite of today's economy. A truly "efficient" economy would thus be one where people don't NEED to travel much at all, and that makes discretionary travel so expensive (by internalizing all of the true costs of travel) that few people would want to expend their precious personal wealth on discretionary travel. Thus, a technology like video conferencing could arguably be considered to be something that truly advances "efficiency". On the other hand, we are just kidding ourselves if we think that more fuel-efficient airplanes really are making much of a difference at all.

For another example, it is ludicrous for anyone to talk about a more "efficient" approach to lawn care. The only truly efficient use of any lawn is for localized production of food.

Lovins is a good guy, and is certainly pointing people in the right direction. He is only taking them on the first one or two steps, though. What I'm talking about here is far more radical, and probably too frightening for most people to accept right now.

A truly sustainable, zero-growth economy MUST put a high premium on efficiency.

Why do you posit a zero-growth economy?

If a method is devised for improving efficiency, that means the same quantity of goods can be produced for fewer inputs. That means those inputs can be used to produce more (of that good or another), so more is produced with no increase in resource consumption.

i.e., the economy grows.

Imagining an economy with stable inputs and no growth is imagining that no more efficient process or technique will ever again be developed. That seems unrealistic.

I posit a zero-growth economy because the only truly sustainable economy is one that is built entirely upon renewable resources. Non-renewable resources can and will be used up, and thus are not sustainable.

You are right that in such a sustainable economy, it is still possible that invention might lead to improved efficiencies, and thus might enable the economy to do more with less. While a very low rate of growth might thus be conceivable in such a system, I suspect that it would be so low a growth rate as to be insignificant.

You are right that in such a sustainable economy, it is still possible that invention might lead to improved efficiencies, and thus might enable the economy to do more with less.

So it would be more accurate to argue in favour of a sustainable economy, rather than a zero-growth economy.

Zero growth can come from all kinds of causes, few of which are sustainable. Sustainable economies can also come from different methods, some of which have different growth levels. We should be interested in finding the best sustainable economy, rather than simply one which has zero growth.

>To answer that question, one must also ask: what do we mean by "waste"?

Yes, this is important. Let's define waste as the lost opportunity to extract useful work from energy. (e.g., inefficient car).

Do those of you who believe that we should not try to increase efficiency believe that we should not try to cut waste, or do you mean only that we should maintain redundancy and spare capacity in the system?

Do you see waste as a kind of reserve capacity, in that by cutting it only when needed (infrastructure change after crisis) new capacity can be freed? Wouldn't it be better to cut waste and maintain redundancy/spare capacity? Waste contributes to environmental problems and it is likely that infrastructure changes intended to reduce waste in crisis would not be fast enough. I can't see much reasonable motivation not to cut waste as defined above.

>think what Leanan means is 'redundancy' in the system when >referring to efficiency vs. resilience. From an engineering >standpoint, redundant features are inefficient.

My point is simply that one can improve expected reliability either by increasing redundancy or by decreasing the probability of failure of the primary systems, or both. To the extent that there are opportunities to reduce the probability of certain failures (and there are), increases in efficiency can be had without loss of reliability.

Note that even in the design of a redundant system one must consider failure probabilities. There is no escape from it. Issues of reliability are ultimately the most important. Redundancy is simply a strategy to improve reliability.

Last comment on resilience / efficiency / et. al. for today.

On the way home it occurred to me that we can see a stark example of this efficiency vs. resiliency debate in action right now. To wit Lake Lanier.

Go back 100 years, and folks in the Atlanta area got their water via greatly dispersed means relative to today. Much more somatic energy was expended schlepping pails and pumping handles getting water from local sources.

The pressures of increased population, desire for greater sanitation, and profit potential were influenced by the advances in technology and cheaper energy to tend toward a more centralized water source. There is now a single point of failure, Lake Lanier. As long as basic system assumptions hold true, i.e., the lake replenishes, everything is hunky dory. But violate that one assumption and a large demographic is facing some very real system resiliency issues.

It's highly efficient. But it can't fail. Or else.

Best Hopes for Strong Rains,


I do not think the two are mutually exclusive. Let me explain.

Resiliency as one major component is about diversity of actions, options and reactions.

However, nobody has an infinite energy budget, so each action and option must be fairly efficient in order to be able to respond to an unforeseen change in the environment.

As for high efficiency, the payback is higher storage ability. Efficiency also helps, when you are (temporarily) down to your stocks only. Nature also works through these two methods:

1. diversity
2. ability to be highly efficient and store when needed and the possibility to switch between high consumption and high efficiency, depending on environmental changes and storage capacity

Just having one or the other probably will not increase resiliency as much as having both.

Hi super390,

If you make one of these, could you post a photo of it?


Make your own wind and solar power systems
DIY renewable energy projects
Posted by Joseph Romm at 4:38 PM on 24 Aug 2007

So you want some do-it-yourself climate solutions. Popular Science is the place to go.

The magazine details how, for $300, you can build a vertical wind turbine (pictured below) for your home in about three days. It will generate 50 kilowatt-hours per month, which might be about 10 percent of your electricity use, depending on the size of your house and how efficient you are. You can also download plans at windstuffnow.


I don't want to detract from whatever you plan on writing but since you said, "If we had 6 billion 'realists' all at once, it might not be too fun..." and I've used "Todd; a Realist" as a tag line off and on, how might things change if everyone lived like me? People should keep in mind that I live on a mountaintop in the boondocks.

-- No tourist industry: I don't take vacations. Haven't had one for over 30 years. I like it where I am.

-- No restaurant industry: I don't eat out although I have have a hamburger at the snack shack every month or so when I go to the dump/recycle stuff.

-- No TV or radio: We stopped getting TV some years ago and I only listen to the radio if I'm driving (which isn't much)

-- No movies theaters: I've been to a movie theater once in the last 25 years.

-- No fashion industry: I live in jeans and work boots. My newest suit is 35 years old and my dress shoes are equally old. They'll last the rest of my life since I only wear them at funerals or so it seems. I come in and out of "fashion."

-- No auto industry: I keep vehicles forever. I only got rid of my 45 year old PU a few years ago. It's replacement is now 20 years old and our spare car is 23 years old. I do have to admit my wife got a new used car but her trade-in was 15 years old.

-- No prepared foods: Home cooking is where it's at.

-- Lots of energy efficiency stuff: I've covered this before so I'll skip it here.

The list goes on. However, on a serious note, huge segments of business would die resulting in massive unemployment were everyone to become a "realist" like me. It would be especially bad since most people don't have usable skills sets nor have the natural resources I have. It's hard for me to see 6-8 houses jammed into my garden and orchard in the city. I don't think twice about going out and felling trees for firewood, I have thousands of trees.

Ah, well.

Todd: a Realist

That was kind of my point
To get from where we are now to where we would need to be without a 'bridge' might be a bit difficult. We need a bridge first.

Todd - a realist

Humans have advanced so much that most will NOT accept living as you do, which is no reflection upon the way you choose to live. So, if everyone here is right about Peak Oil, and if humans cannot come up with a BETTER than oil solution (as has historically been the case), then the point that gives is population, i.e., several billion less people. How that happens will be the topic. But, robotics WOULD play a major role in that effort. We will only need highly educated thinking people. Many, many manual tasks will shift to robots over the next 100+ years. We will not rely on robotic vacuum cleaners, or robotic lawnmowers, etc. - we will have robots that use normal vacuum cleaners, normal lawnmowers, can take care of persons in nursing homes, airplanes without pilots, etc.

That is my "game theory" "what if" answer.

Possible, but I think the opposite is going to happen. Human labor is going to become much cheaper and more practical than robots. A lot of the jobs that vanished due to industrialization will be returning.

You end up with a dual labor market just like you end up with inflation and deflation at the same time.

It's already here, labor is dirt cheap but useless and incompetent. The ones with the real skills are all doing their own thing. The only way you will ever get the professional tradesmen back into a organized system is to first get rid of all the collectivist bullshit.

As it is now people pay for everything three times, one to the welfare queens for not doing it, another to the cheap labor to fu*( it up, and if you are lucky you get to pay a third time to a real tradesman to fix it providing you can find him.

Just watch out for these robots
Hahahahahaa !!

I don't think peak oil is going to kind to professionals. I suspect it's going to accelerate what's already happening: the offshoring of white color jobs. Engineers, computer scientists, financial analysts, etc. Why pay someone in Manhattan $200,000 when someone in India will do it for $20,000?

The only jobs that will be safe are the ones that need to be done in person. Hairdressers and hookers.

I expect there will be savage political backlash against offshoring. The Indians are to white collar workers as the Mexicans are to blue collar workers.

Those in the financial services industry are going to get the same treatment the mortgage folks have just received as the dollar unwinds. There just isn't anything left for those who were involved in the "value creation" of the last decade or so. Large, top heavy structures will blow apart as their revenue fails to meet their requirements for continuing operation, and the talent will spill out into the street, looking for problems to solve.

I did this exit from corporate America myself about a decade ago but my move was more to do with being a mildly autistic adult than any macro economic conditions. I was tired of being bumped around and then pushed out because I am a little different, so I accepted it for what it is, and sought out things that suited me. It is harder in some ways, but easier in others. October was looking pretty grim, so I sent out a note with the subject of "Help!". One of my customers promptly drummed up enough work for me to cover all the bills ... when corporate America lets you go you're just flat gone. Being independent with multiple people who might write you a check for the coming month is a whole lot more pleasant and many are going to get in touch with this way of moving through the world.

Over the long haul I think we do devolve to something like a 1900 lifestyle - agriculture, draft animal transport, some trains, and a drastically reduced global population, and this is if and only if we don't incinerate ourselves with nuclear weapons because our expectations aren't being met.

And jobs related to National Security -- where the employee must be a citizen and have a security clearance. Can't offshore those.


The chant of the 3rd French Foreign Legion (in German).



Well, let's see what people would dislike about my lifestyle.

I live on 57 acres on top of a mountain with beautiful valley views and the Pacific ocean to the west. Lots of serenity. Would they dislike that? Naw.

I live in a 2,200SF house that is 30% passively solar heated. The rest is from wood. And, there is an 1,800SF shop and garage. Would they hate that? Nope.

There is a solar hot water system and a large PV system that is used on sunny days rather than the grid. Would they think it's a bad deal? Probably not.

Would they hate the 2Ac garden, orchard and vineyard? Doubt it.

What you are really saying they'd hate is that I don't spend money on things that do not provide a long term return. In essence, city/suburban people do not define themselves as, well, people, who they are. They define themselves by their business card and "stuff." One thing that city people find when they move to the country is that community status isn't based on stuff, eating out or seeing the latest show. Status is confered upon who the person is.

Todd: a Realist

But, I will add this PS. There are things that they would reasonably hate: We get snowed in - sometines for a week or so. We spend significant money if we have to have the well pump replaced. I have a mile of private road to maintain. We have a 30 mile roundtrip to pick up the mail in "town." The nearest box stores are 60 miles away and the nearest COSTCO is 120 miles away (We make COSTCO runs a few time a year and stock up.). Lastly, you are left to your own skills to keep everything going and, even for me, this gets old at times.

IME, a lot of people hate heating with wood. Getting the wood is a PITA, whether you buy it or cut it yourself. So is feeding the stove or whatever. A lot of people have allergies or lung problems, and can't tolerate wood smoke. And people may love looking at gardens and orchards, but most don't want to take care of them. I think that's what he meant.


It's interesting but probably 90% of the people in my area heat with wood while the rest use propane. I only know of two people who stopped using wood and they had lung cancer. I will agree that it's easier to turn up a thermostat but heating with wood isn't like a life sentence. Wood heat is nice.

As far as cutting wood being a PITA, you know, most people don't have a purpose in life. By this I mean they do not see the results of their efforts right in front of them like a pile of wood. What they see are some numbers on a piece of paper that then morphs into wood (or NG or whatever). They are separated from life. At the risk of sounding like an Indian, they didn't observe the tree before it was felled or make a decision as to whether it was to be felled. I always take time to thank the tree for growing and giving its life so I have heat. Wierd, perhaps, but that's just me.

Firewood is also often a social occasion. For years a friend came up to work on firewood with me on Sundays - he called it going to church. Sure it was work but it wasn't at the same time. We'd BS about the state of the world or he'd bitch and moan about his boss and I'd commiserate. Gene Logsdon has a great section about a group of Amishmen and boys harvesting corn along these lines in his book The Contrary Farmer.

I do agree that growing food is a lot of work but it's reality. And, isn't reality always the arguement about PO? It has been terribly disappointing to me to loss a years-worth of garden work to the bears, wild pigs or deer. Or, see the chickens killed by a bobcat. But...this is real life that city people have no awareness of. And, it's not just little folks like me who see this. Wine grape growers south of me lose thousands of dollars of grapes to deer.

Does anyone really expect people who are isolated from reality to make the changes necessary to survive?


Todd, great post.

I've been heating with wood for years, and cut/split my own. It's lots of work, I suppose, but you do it a bit at a time, and folks do help each other as you say.

Same thing with gardening, and a lot of other rural tasks. The line between "work" and just "living" blurs, and you pace yourself. It can be hard at times, but if you just roll through the chores, it is just life. Plenty of time to enjoy the real world, as opposed to the virtual world.

Now, if you had to do all the gardening, wood-getting, etc. AND maintain a high pressure all-consuming job, that would be a different story.

Finally, your comments on isolation from reality hit the mark. People like being isolated, though.


This is a key comment from you:

The line between "work" and just "living" blurs...


After I post this, I'm going down the hill to our rental house to try to discover why the wind is blowing smoke down their chimney. Then I'm going to pull weeds in some winter beets and then stack some of next year's firewood. It isn't "work!" None of this is "work!" It's the normal flow of life.

If I could recommend one book to illustrate this "blending", it would be Wellspring by Barbara Dean (I think Paulist Press published it - our copy is loaned out.). It is a personal story of her life in a commune, long defunct now, in Covelo, CA, about 30 miles and two hours from me. It is a marvelous book.


Got cleaned up after cleaning the chimney, stove pipe and stove, and what do I find here!! I do call cleaning the chimney work. Nasty work at that.

I enjoy just looking at the wood pile, nice safe way to store our heating needs for the next 2 years just sitting in a pile in the yard. What other fuel could you do that with?

There's another sublime aspect to wood heat that can't be overlooked as well- the aesthetic dimension. Wood stoves are usually placed in a central part of the main room of the house, and they just draw people toward them, even stoves without windows. Conventional forced air heating systems have the furnaces shut away in a basement or laundry room. Seems to me that someone who is unaffected by the aesthetic element is someone who is inert in a basic component of their humanity. But then I guess they could say I'm a sappy hippy sentimentalist...whatever..


"Would they like it?"

Let me relate my experience.

I had a log house I built myself. 4500 sq ft under roof which included a full 12" poured concrete basement..The logs were Western Red Cedar and not 'pine'. The roof was brand new. There were large mature white oak trees surrounding it. It had a excellent deep well and a 4 ton Geothermal heat pump not 2 yrs old. A wood heater with triple stage blower that alone could heat the whole top two floors. It had a brand new 'chambered' septic system. It had 27 acres and that included some hardwood woodlots.

It was on the market for 6 months and advertised nation wide..got some lookers who admitted they were scared to death of a 'real' log house.

The auction came and before hand we had flyin lookers from Washington State and even New York and points inbetween...The auction came and none of them came..the land sold seperately..nice land , great soil and went for $3200 / acre but the house and 6 acres went for a pittance and a local friend findly put me out of my misery and got it for dirt cheap.

It was completely surveyed which cost me $2,000 and I was finishing out an Anderson Bay window(cost close to 2 grand)and finished laying the rock on the northwest wall.

I walked away and after closing paid off all my debts..the only bright spot...I kept some land for myself and the pole barn.

I realized all this bullshit that yuppies chatter about 'country living' is just make believe nonsense.
Total lackluster nauseous bullshit with no shine on it atall.

There is no one that wants to really live a full 'country' life..they want 'tater bins' and funky flea market trinkets and a 'country living' magazine on the coffee table on their brand new McMansion..sited to show the Jones just who has 'it made'.
They aren't about to give up anything,never will and never going to, period.

Good..they need to die the hell off and get off the planet and quit taking up good oxygen and help replenish the soil as they do so.

Now the friends(who brought it) wife has decided that the handmade oak cabinets need to be replaced with cookie cutter laminated plastic and all the ash , walnut and sassafras are really NOT country!...They are redoing it in hopes of capturing that elusive yuppie wantabe country idiot...they will fail and the market will eat their asses off..thats why I got out..I saw it coming...

I live alone with the dogs and live far better, since my wife is living in the burbs some where else, and I like it that way..I prefer it my own way since its not HER way.

Don't fool yourself..most those cityfolk would look at your lifestyle and run the other way. They don't know 'work'. They know bullshit.

Consider yourself lucky..and that you are class of '57...I envy you your satisfaction.You have what others will die for eventually and never will attain..they will die screaming on their plastic laminate 'barnwood'-look shiny floors.

Airdale-forget that cruise,forget Vegas,I listen instead to the hoot of the owls and the yapping of the coyote and walk in the woods now, for the ginseng is ready to find and garlic needs to be planted.."it" never came this year,,perhaps next and the artic caps melt is more heavy and the drought proceeds onward and the remaining years we do have left is a blessing for the few who wait and prepare and are even embarassed to be called survivalists


You know, life isn't fair; and I mean this sincerly. Right now, inspite of the rotten RE market, I could sell this place (which includes a small, 1,200SF rental house) for $750k within a week. If I were to hold out for 4-6 weeks, I could get $850-950k according to a buddy of mine that sells RE here although I'd have to take back some paper.

This, of course, prices out real back-to-the-landers. That's a shame.


4500 square feet? Maybe if you are a fundamentalist mormon and have 10 wives. My house at 1,740 square feet is partially passive solar and wood heated, with wood hot water heat in the winter. My electric bill averages $70. A friend of mine lives in a recently built low income apartment building with standard appliances. His electric bill is $20/month.

Todd-- Wellspring, by Barbara Dean, was one of the most inspirational books I've ever read. In the spring of 1986 I stopped by her office in Covelo while on an 8 day mountain bike trek in the Humboldt/Trinity County back country, to show her a paper I'd recently written on reinhabitation of the Nongatl homelands.

Wood gives continuous heat while NG/propane is a constant roller coaster, especially in an old house. Wood takes more work, but it feels much better.

In my opinion, heating with wood has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

About 20 years or so ago, wood heating took off in a big way in the Seattle area. In the end, laws were passed to basically outlaw it in the county because of all of the negative effects, especially pollution. Now when ever there is a burning ban, which happens quite often in the winter, you can only use wood if you have no other source of heat and the stove has to meet standards.

If a significant number of people took to burning wood we'd soon have Peak Wood as well as advanced GW.

Nobody's arguing about whether it's reality or not. The point was that yes, a lot of people would hate your life. They may end up envying it one day, but right now, they would hate it.


As you know I try to never "call" people on statements, but if you are going to say, "The point was that yes, a lot of people would hate your life" then I would like to know why you believe this.

I've spent time on both sides of this as both a corp exe in the big city and as a guy in jeans in the boondocks. I am not saying I don't understand what you are implying but rather that I would like you to expand upon your feelings.


I*'ve got 384 days max until I let my RT license expire, and I quit the job. I can't wait to get back to my land full time, and it can't wait for me.
Not that I am counting the nights or anything.
I just hope we don't hit the wall sooner than that.
Or do I? Retire 6 months sooner?

I don't think we were as hard core when I had a family as Todd is now, but close. I only live 7 miles from town, and about 16 to the movie theater, so we went to the movies more often, and had a DVR for the kids. But they grew up without live TV, and it didn't seem to damage them, nor even bother them that much at the time. Now, I go see a flick maybe once a year. I think AIT was the last.

Once I retire, I'll probably end up not leaving here for days at a time. I'm gonna have to force mice elf into going into town, at least to pick up mail as an excuse to buy a mocha, just to keep in touch with people.I ended up getting a sat dish after my divorce, so I do have TV now. Also, my kids live in Willits, so I'll do some visit commuting, but it won't be one little bit hard not to leave most days. I already end up talking mice elf out of going to town a lot.

next time you get into town and you're in the mood for a movie...I have a rec-'Into The Wild'. Indirectly it has a lot of things to say about issues discussed on this board.


I think what I was asking is answered down thread by others.


You chose your life. It's what you want. What you like to do.

Why don't more people live like you do? Because that's not the life they want.

To take just one element: wood heat. I have several friends who heat with wood, and most of them hate it, or are at least ambivalent. One no longer uses his wood stove because his wife has asthma and the doctor told them the particulates from the wood stove was making her worse. One likes tracking down and cutting the wood, but doesn't like anything else about it (and his wife hates it). And one, who lives with her family in a big New England farmhouse, dreams of oil heat the way a dieter dreams of ice cream. She worries every year if she'll be able to get enough wood, and if it's dry enough. She hates having to feed the logs in, and clean the ashes out. She's constantly fuming about her four kids and husband who somehow never notice when more wood is needed. Others may dream of luxury vacations or new clothes or nice furniture or new cars or fancy jewelry. She just wants oil heat.

Todd, as a wise home ec teacher once said, life is too short to shop for everything. To apply the idea here, life is too short to do everything for oneself. Autarky is a mug's game. But you must already know that, as you undoubtedly purchased your vehicles. So you've really got no excuse to rag on the next person for purchasing heat rather than chopping his or her own wood.

Now, frankly, as "a purpose in life", producing piles of hand-cut wood does not move me emotionally, not even one nanometer. Framing it in terms of "separation from life" helps not one iota. After all, animal life is entirely about eating-machines blindly engaged in mere survival - bobcats blindly devouring chickens, squirrels blindly hoarding nuts, wild pigs blindly doing the utterly pointless things they do, and all the rest. At the end of the day, I really don't care.

Human life, on another hand, is, or at least ought to be, about more. As the cave paintings at Lascaux demonstrate, this has been known at some level for countless millennia. Mere survival is only the substrate - worthy of the attention needed to make it happen, but hardly an end in itself. And the very fact that you bother to post on a blog, any blog, provides conclusive proof that, at some level, you already know that.

And surely you must understand that what you are doing is in no way scalable. There simply are not 57 acres of livable land in the USA for each of its 300 million citizens, nor even for, say, 70 million family groups. And there certainly are not 57 acres with a lovely view for more than some tens of thousands. And many people are not up to the kind of physical labor implied by living as you do, regardless of how romantic they may feel about it. When you get old, you very likely will need to move off that mountaintop and into town. When you get there, you will be supported by folks basically living city lives.

Oh, and that city life has been supporting rural life for some centuries now, if not for several millennia. Should you need tools, you'll probably be wanting to buy them; most likely you will think it senseless to fabricate them yourself starting with the ore. Should you break your leg and get a compound fracture, you're going to be wanting quite a few accoutrements of modern technological life, antibiotics for starters. Most such things cannot be, and never were, provided by "Amishmen and boys harvesting corn." So it's no use ragging on city folks. Their reality may not be your reality, but this world is very large on a human scale, large enough to contain many realities.

And maybe the toughest reality about discussions like this is that there's no going back to any past, Amish or otherwise. There simply exists no means by which to return all or even most of us to some kind of romantic pre-technological existence. Such a time and place never existed, and even if it had, we have become far too numerous to stuff into it.

Well I don't see this as "going back to any past". I think it is pretty much leapfrogging into the future.
I've heated with wood for the last 25 years. Small, passive solar house. so I burn about three cords up on the northern coast of maine. Todd has is right with the feeling of accomplishment and the feeling of connection. It's amazing how many times I handle a piece of wood, from cutting to splitting, to loading then finally putting it in the stove. By the time they make it to the stove every one is a friend.

The lifestyle I chose after actually listening to Jimmy Carter is most asurdly not for everyone. It did give me a curious independance from what we all call the system.

I have my heat for the next two winters stored in the yard, I don't have to worry about my job, or a bank failure, I don't have to kiss anyones ass to be sure I can heat my house this year or next.

I have taken precautions against theft. We're offroad like Todd but have an active alarm system that lets us know if anyone is on our road. Lots more false alerts this year from deer.

One of the real interesting outcomes from living like this, is the ability to take chances. Our needs are secured, so we can take chances. We've owned and operated a number of very high-tech businesses. Very strange in some ways to do the global business thing and then go home at night and feed the woodstove. Basically, at this stage we sold a lot off, a lot of the chances we took, we kept some interesting things we do from our home offices. we have a number of people who will continue to pay us for quite some time, if they can. But you know if they don't I'm not in a panic.

I really don't think we would have gotten here ( read older and very secure) without the ability to know we could take care of ourselves first and foremost.

Stars at night and wind in the trees.


You noted the remoteness. If you have any medical conditions, you are probably not close to quality medical care. And, really, if everyone chose your lifestyle, are there really 6 billion mountaintops in the world?

Well we've got over 4 billion realists right now.

Making less than $8 per day.

They can't afford not to be.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Well we've got over 4 billion realists right now.
Making less than $8 per day.
They can't afford not to be.

Not really since ever one of those 4 billion want a western lifestyle. Nobody wants to be dirty poor. Second most of the poorest regions have the highest enviromental damage. They are cutting down the forests to make firewood and consuming all the animals (bush meat). The also import our toxic waste (for small amounts of money) that is containmating ground water.

The very bottom billion of those four billion will be first to endure a die off as energy supplies dwindle. Perhaps one billion of the four billion live a true sustainable lifestyle. But as discussed we discussed in an early drum beat, those that are starving, will flee into other regions bring with them disease and warfare. Its highly likely that the billion or so that are truely sustainable, will be overwhelmed by refugees, disease and warfare. I doubt sustainable regions will be able to support much larger populations (influx of refugees), and these people don't have access to modern medical services that would enable them to cope with diseases spread from refugees. Third I think we'll see rising conflict as refugees pick up arms in order to fight for their survival.

Thank you for your reply.

I say they're realists for the reasons you give.

Wealth is stored in humans by TPTB. To survive these 4 billion
must do one of 2 things:

1-work/buy form the monopolies of TPTB and/or consume the planet.

Either way the wealth flows to the Top.1%
while the Earth melts/burns away.

The very bottom will thank Civilization collapsing because
they have survival skills.

It's the TOP of the 4 billion who will perish first because they have had to lose "survival skills" in order to grab for
the "Western Way" of life.-These guys-

"Its highly likely that the billion or so that are truely sustainable, will be overwhelmed by refugees, disease and warfare."

"I doubt sustainable regions will be able to support much larger populations"

"Third I think we'll see rising conflict as refugees pick up arms in order to fight for their survival."

Again right. See Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Myanmar,
Nigeria for details.

"It is hard to shock journalists and at the same time leave them in awe of the power of nature. A group returning from a helicopter trip flying over, then landing on, the Greenland ice cap at the time of maximum ice melt last month were shaken. One shrugged and said:”It is too late already.”

From SurvivalAcres-Right on the $-

And here’s the final punch line — it’s now “ordained”. A foregone conclusion that this will happen, is happening, because these events are unstoppable and now already past their trigger points.

Those gigantic moulins they’re measuring right now, those took a long time to develop and reveal themselves. But now that we know about them, “It is too late already.”

This should be world breaking news headlines all over the world, with immediate and drastic acknowledgement and action taken by world leaders and the planet’s citizens. I’m not being the slightest alarmists — nothing less then a full-blown worldwide effort to save ourselves will have a glimmer of a hope in succeeding.

This would require an immediate shutdown of all greenhouse gas emissions and industrial activity worldwide.

Of course, this won’t happen. It can’t possibly be allowed to happen. And even if it were to happen, it’s very uncertain it would make any difference anyway.

So, if you are still unconvinced and still waiting on a lightning bolt from God to wake you from your slumber, I suggest you take a trip to Greenland with that gold stash of yours and examine what scientists are now telling us — we’re toast, swirling around a giant moulin drain as the glacier of civilization gone wrong rumbles toward the sea.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Hi Nate,

I'm putting my Q here, because I'd like to see yr. answer, though its about what Leanan says below re: efficiency. (As well as the entire discussion.)

She's speaking kind of generally, though...still, when talking about "us" doing things "more efficiently", WRT, say, goods manufactured in China and sold in the US - where does the "efficiency" come into it, exactly?

In other words, it seems one way "efficiency" operates in a corporate manufacturing realm, for eg., is to seek a lower price of labor. So my question is: doesn't this increased "efficiency" really show up - at least to some extent (some percentage) - as increased profit?

In other words, "more efficient" - for whom? (WRT whom?)

It doesn't *necessarily* translate into less energy/labor on the side of the consumer, so not the most efficient use of the consumer's dollar, necessarily - is it?

This must tie into the comparison of oil price in USD as percentage of US income that someone pointed out the other day.

And, just as an aside: re: "If we had 6 billion 'realists' all at once, it might not be too fun..."

It depends, huh? What are you envisioning when you say this?

So my question is: doesn't this increased "efficiency" really show up - at least to some extent (some percentage) - as increased profit?

In other words, "more efficient" - for whom? (WRT whom?)

The market economy is very efficient at concentrating wealth at the highest echelons. I make no value judgement when I say this but its true - and not to disparate with our evolutionary constraints for 'competing' for resources. The market is NOT efficient at using energy - probably 90%+ of energy is wasted in overhead delivering stuff to people. So economics has been a reasonably appropo model on a planet with no perceived limits to growth - its not a good model for actual limits - perceived or actual.

And, just as an aside: re: "If we had 6 billion 'realists' all at once, it might not be too fun..."

If everyone 'got it' all at once about the true implications of Peak Oil, there would be runs on grocery stores, people would quit their jobs, oil companies not having enough employees to build out new capacity, cats living with dogs, real old testament stuff. Thats why awareness needs to happen, but gradually and by the right people (policymakers like yourself....;)

Thanks for responding, Nate.

re: "The market economy is very efficient at concentrating wealth at the highest echelons."

I don't know how to ask this w/out sounding silly (i.e. I know I'm naive and, thus, wary of sarcanol) - do you have a favorite reference? (Something for my encounters w. econ grads?)

We need to use the market world to sell sustainability and efficiency. Making insulation sexy is a tough task though, anyone got any good ideas?

Some people think we should shut up about peak oil and jump on the global warming bandwagon. Many of the goals are the same, and global warming is "sexy" these days.

But I think it's the opposite. We should raise the alarm about peak oil, and hope that takes care of global warming, too. People won't do things like install insulation to fix global warming. It's too expensive, and the perceived benefit too low. And it doesn't work unless a lot of people do it.

Installing insulation because soon energy will be far more expensive - due to scarcity, not due to taxes - is a different thing altogether. Then it benefits the person who lays out the money fairly soon, and even if they sell, their house may be worth more. IMO, energy scarcity is more likely to motivate people than climate change.

I think we need to dovetail PO into GW and show how they are related. As we see the problem with conventional oil production decreasing and we go for more unconventional supplies of finite energy (coal, arctic crude, methane hydrates, etc.) how is this going to exacerbate an already imbalanced global climate?

We need to dovetail "PO" into "GW" ...

Mother Nature isn't interested in how the humans "label" stuff.

She does what she does irrespective of the noises we attach to them.

Oh...100% agreed...Mother Nature has the last word on the whole ball of wax. I was just saying for PO discussions to gain more popular attention, we should ride the coat tails of the GW wave and discuss how the two are intimately related....for public consumption.

Dragonfly41, Leanan, the right argument to use depends on your audience, so learn both arguments. And don't forget my national security argument that we are now importing 68% of the oil we use, mostly from countries that hate us. There is only a 58 day supply of oil in the strategic petroleum reserve at our currentimport rate. (Rembrandt Kopelar's last This Week in Oil for the import level of 12.9 MBOPD into the 750,000,000 bbls of oil currently in the SPR.)
too Bob Ebersole

Leanan, people can accept global warming because they see no indication that it is permanent.

Peak oil is much harder to digest because it suggests permanent limits to growth, starting now.

This permanency is what makes peak oil taboo, because it threatens our cherished myths of modernity, progress, and futurism.

Shedding these myths is very painful. When I finally understood peak oil in 2005, for about a week I was an emotional zombie.

I doubt many people are willing to put themselves through that for the sake of an abstract concept like peak oil.

I doubt many have for global warming, either. The great success of global warming in the media means that it has made people feel good about themselves.

This reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon about "The Numbing"...once you get past it...you are in a much better place.

Facing the fear and overcoming it is a step we will all pass through...to what? Who the h*ll knows...but dealing with PO/GW psychologically and then doing SOMETHING about it, even if it's little personal things, makes me feel somewhat better.

That Dilbert cartoon was funny, thanks. Here's a link:


If you haven't read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves To Death," please do.


Mr. Postman does a great job of explaining how feel-good mass media can't be "hijacked" by the clever to provide education or religion to anyone. The feel-goodness of the media precludes any such thing from happening. Regardless of the intended message, the media can't help but demand ever-increasing mindless consumption.

"people can accept global warming because they see no indication that it is permanent."

I dunno. I don't quite see how this view would even get onto the table. I've never heard anybody argue that, yes, warming exists, but it doesn't matter because it will be over in a year or three.

Maybe what people see is no particular hard evidence that anything is going on that's both harmful and unusual. Warming is still just an abstraction, because everything attributed to it to date either would have happened anyway sooner or later - such as Katrina - or else is too remote to be noteworthy in any concrete sense, as with the summer Arctic ice - or else is downright pleasant, such as a few less days of winter.

No, you misunderstand. Nobody is saying that global warming will be over in a year or three. What they're saying is that global warming is a "challenge" we can "solve" by choosing "green products." GE is running TV advertisements that push green jet engines and green desalination plants.

What they're saying is that global warming is a "challenge" we can "solve"

Well whom are they going to believe, reality or their lying eyes?

Their lying eyes tell them Climate is BIG. It covers the whole sky. On TV, all the politicians are talking about it. It's BIG.

On the other hand, gas and oil are "small". Compared to the whole of the sky, a gasoline station is small. A gasoline station is controlled by the man with the Texaco Star (or the Goodwrench Grin). Since a single man controls it; it is controllable, easily fixable. On TV, none of the politicians are talking about it. They talk about dependence on "foreign" (evil foreign) oil, not about a "global" oil shortage. Compared to CLIMATE, oil is small. Besides, scientists will find other ways. The TV assures us they are working on finding new "alternatives".

Its obvious that the collective institutions in the US aren't going to address global warming on a meaningful scale, just as they aren't going to address the peak in fossil energy production.

But, we all have the ability to take personal steps to cut our energy useage and also to put in improvements that are sustainable on our property. Its called taking personal responsibility.

An article like Leanan linked to makes a couple of assumptions that border on lies. It assumes no increase in the price of energy and no inflation in or economy, even though the Federal Reserve has a goal of 2% inflation and the real inflation rate is over 10%. It also fixes your electricity cost at home and insures a person against brown-outs and black-outs in the local utilities if they have a generating component like wind, solar panels or micro-hydro. But more to the point, I'm doing my part to help global warming every time I take a little energy saving step. Bob Ebersole

Nice to see a post from you - I was wondering what you'd been up to the last few days.

I'm catching flak today for my doomer tendencies - mom and brother return from trip and I've rearranged the pantry to make room for enough food for at least six to eight weeks. They both made a point of wanting to know if I was taking my medication. I'm not on any medication, mind you, but they felt the need to ask :-)

Gotta run - lots of produce on the chopping block today at the farmer's market :-)

SCT, just doing a little work, not posting until in the evening, and on technical threads. I think you doomers are getting too worked up right now, but its a free country this week. ASPO's next week in Houston, only 50 miles up the road. I'm really looking forward to being able to put faces on the names around here.
Bob Ebersole

but its a free country this week


Ever try to make a 100 year old two flat in Chicago energy efficient? As a carpenter, rehabber, and former apartment owner I have, and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to even approach the energy efficiency of modern construction by retrofitting old urban buildings for energy savings that would be worth the investment for a person with a middle class income. And there are thousands of these older buildings in northern urban areas with brick and plaster and lath construction. In older brick buildings there are one inch furring strips on the exterior brick walls attached to nailers in which the lath is attached to - no space to place insulation. The only solution is a very costly gut job that would lose a great deal of space without reconfiguring the floor space. Ditto as to installing a ground loop system on a city lot. Moreover, people who are in the middle class can’t spend money like Bob Villa. If I’m making $40,000.00 a year where am I going to find the money without going into more debt to fund such a project?

How about interior rigid insulation/wallboard panels? Remove the interior trim on outside walls and attach to existing walls. There are some very efficient, quite thin insulating materials. Not sure the products are on the market, might be a solution waiting an entrepreneur.

How about drilling holes in the interior walls and pumping in insulation? (That's commonly done from the exterior.) Should be easy on balloon framed buildings - few holes to drill and plug.

Better windows, insulated doors, weather stripping, ... - these are doable right now. Along with more efficient appliances.

The money to retrofit? There has to be some sort of public assistance for those who are at the bottom of the ladder.

I’ve actually done rigid foam insulation under drywall in some situations. Unless you are doing the labor yourself it is not worth the cost/benefit for the r value received. Balloon framed buildings are against code, and have been in Chicago for some time. The majority are older type brick structures. Blowing in insulation is unfeasible given the space between the plaster and lath and brick exterior, usually one inch, and the insulation won’t get by the fire blocks. And if not installed properly upgrades are not worth the effort. The competency of most carpenters, especially the ones hired by run of the mill outfits, has really declined over the years. You’re more likely to have Homer Simpson installing your windows than a master carpenter with knowledge of insulation techniques. As far as public assistance just look at the republican’s resistance to child health care for people in the middle income bracket. And the money for this public assistance is coming where? Most populous states are floundering financially. Who’s taxes will be raised? I personally believe that the members of TOD, many who are technical/professional types who do not work in the trenches, don’t even begin to understand the scale of the problem presented by old existing infrastructure and personal finance. It is all about scalability and logistics.

bruce from chicago -

I'm glad you raised this point, as it is a major reason why most people do not go all out to make their houses energy-efficient. We have a smallish 70-year-old house that for it's size has rather poor energy efficiency. Apart from a new heating system and some minor stuff, I have not made any massaive effort to increase energy efficiency, simply due to the time, aggravation, and cost of trying to retrofit something into an older house.

Then, of course, we have the consideration of payback period. We bought this house in 1979, and if I had known at the time that we'd still be living here, I would have bit the bullet and invested a lot of money on energy-efficiency, as by now it would have well paid for itself. But until perhaps the last 12 years it was never clear that we'd still be here, hence we always put off thoughts of making such an investment. I'm sorry we haven't, but from a strictly economic point of view at the time it was a rational decision to put it off.

And I think this is a good example of the very dilemma many people, and even large corporations and governments, face: valuing present well-being against making large investments for future well-being. Nate Hagens has make some excellent posts on this very subject of 'discounting the future'.

First I think it would be cost effective to do some simple tests on your house to identify the worst problems. In my opinion I would do a test to check for drafts and for heat loss through walls and ceilings.

The draft test can be done by someone else or you can do it yourself (as the infra red). Close all windows etc and seal off the house from the outside (vents etc too.) Use a outside door like the front. Put a good size fan in the opening and use plastic etc to seal off the rest or the door. Turn on fan and let it lower the pressure in the house. Then walk around to exterior windows, doors and other locations that open and close to the outside. USe a smoke stick or similar.

Rent or have a professional use an infra red camera to look for places in walls, ceilings where cold air is seeping in through the attic insulation and other construction defects (even in NEW houses) that allow cold air to penetrate throughout the house.

The infra red will be a big help in locating what could be some major causes of cold air seeping into walls and ceilings. These fixes may not cost very much. Around the outside wall area where the roof and the wall meet there may be places that are OPEN ports for cold air to find a way into the house. covering that hole and adding insulation is cheap and all of this can be done as a DIY with some basic knowledge of construction. For instance an interior wall could have cold air leaking into because insulation is missing in a spot in the attic, and its possible that that wall where it connects into the ceiling could be sealed and insulation on top. Insulation does not stop "wind" is my understanding and drafts can form a good flow, just cuts through the insulation and cold air flows through its openings. Having just insulation on top of the opening where a wall meets the attic does not stop wind. That opening if sealed (plywood etc) and then put the insulation down. Major cause of heat loss gone. The infra red will easily show you where cold air is coming in.

There are businesses now starting that come to your house and do this for a fee. But really if you can rent the camera and look for the spots, thats simple. Understanding how to find the place and seal the leak, thats another matter, but if you have done basic framing, build a room etc., might be a weekend project with some major savings.

That is very good advice PrisonerX, but how many people besides us energy geeks are going to go through that much trouble? Also, sealing the air cracks are only a beginning - there can be just as much loss from loop convections and conduction as air leakage. This is where rigid foam, as Bob Wallace’s suggestion above, can be used to stop conduction loss in a retrofit situation. Not cheap, but can be done.
On a side note, I had a friend who flew a helicopter with infra red imaging out of Midway airport for a federal agency and the heat signatures from heat loss from most buildings in Chicago made the device useless for the detection purposes they were considering. Again the scale we are talking about is thousands of buildings. With a recession it is doubtful anything will be done.

Well buildings are another matter. But single family homes could easily benefit. A few hours work and a 100 bucks will pay itself back. Will not fix everything, but cutting down on energy use is cutting down.

SEP style panels (thinner for indoor use) can be used for interiors. So you loose 1.5 inches of interior walls space for each wall in a room. So what. If consumers are not willing to change their ideas about homes, then nothing will work. You can add them to the interior walls, start with the north facing walls and do each exterior wall as money permits. Add the insulation to the existing interior walls by use of thin SEP panels. Pull the baseboards, install SEP panel to existing wall. SEP panel outer wall will allow for painting and joints will be able to be covered. North facing walls first. Little by little. slow, like a turtle.

Roofs are a prime example. A white roof in the south in summer is the best choice. When my roof needed to be redone I covered it with White Ondura sheeting. Does it look like other roofs, no, does it work as well, yes, and its easier to replace and fix. A white roof when replacing is a huge win win situation. Of course you have to change your idea of what "normal" is. The Sheets are so light that most codes will allow them to go over Three layers of shingles. TWo for sure. That alone save lots of money, because I didn't need to have the two layers torn off. Several grand save on that alone. You can paint the sheeting, so when it gets dull, just paint with latex.

In the future normal should not be what our energy intensive society looks like.

I lived this summer in the mid south without air conditioning for the most part. Only at night for a few weeks did I turn on a small 110 for sleeping in the bedroom. I used ventilating fans to pull in cool air at night. Sealed the windows at dawn. Did it get hot some days, yes, but shorts and a light shirts with a fan, well climatized is what people are, and a house at 85 in the winter is a luxury, but a house at 85 in the summer is considered to HOT.

I have designed some very cheap very easy to use, put up take down window units for south facing windows and doors. They Generate heat only during sunlight and do not store. They do help with the heating in the winter. Will they heat the house, yes and no, depends on the temperature, but do they add to the heat of the home, oh yes, and the cost is nothing. You can build them or something similar or better for less than a buck for a 34 x 34 or larger. You loose some light in the rooms from natural light. but most people close their curtains. Will miss prim and proper with a mac mansion put these up, no way, (well maybe if they start hurting from the payments on the home etc) Would a single mother on limited income like to have them and use them if it saved her lots of dollars on the heat bill. You bet.

Whats normal is going to have to change imo.

A white roof is an excellent idea for cutting down on cooling costs during the summer. I plan on installing a white metal roof when my budget allow for it. I also have some large spec trees I’m planting to provide shade. Ever notice how almost every farm house has trees planted around it? Your last paragraph is a little unclear - are you describing some kind of solar heat reflector for windows?

Absorber not reflector. Winter time use. Windows in southern climates during summer don't get direct sunlight. Its way overhead most of the summer. Reflections and bounce light though can add to room heat through the windows. In the summer closed curtains with white toward the window are best, or white shears to light the room. In winter open and using something to capture that sunlight is best.

They are cheap, light, very fixable, and are a addition not a substitution for a real solar heater that would go outside. These are strictly for indoor use.

One other thing I give as a tip in the winter to help on heating is this. When you take a bath or a shower in a tub, and your the last or only person to use it. Plug the drain and let the hot water stay in the tub. Think of how much heat energy is going down that drain. Now it stays in the tube and does add to the heat for the home, small, but still your gaining. 110 water down to 72 or lower is going to take a while, and your getting back your thermal input costs.

Same thing for a washing machine if you can. Open the top and let the heat out. If you can remember to stop it before it drains for rinsing, you can gain more thermal bucks back. Dishwasher too.

Of course again, its not normal, and people don't think it will really pay back. But hot water is a huge drain the way its used.

My house is almost entirely covered by large oak trees. Though its a problem because they have grown so much that a full sun garden in the back yard is not possible now. Also making a place for the solar PV panels very hard to find. Winter no problem, summer they will not have 5 hours direct. More like three and then in shade with spot sunlight.

Another thing they did in the old days with farm houses was they had a Porch that went all the way around the house. In summer it was open, and in the winter they would seal it. Wind and cold barrier. Used for storage of items etc.

The old ways have much to be learned from again. I watch old cowboy movies and notice the farm houses and how they handled water pumping etc. Not all of them were sets back in the early days. Old towns and houses around to use.

Looking back at older construction styles can be quite informative when planning for energy efficiency.

Those people didn't have the ability to use cheap energy to heat and cool. Heating meant wood or coal. Generally the people living in the house had to do the fuel hauling.

People paid a lot of attention to air flow and getting heat out of living areas. They didn't even have electric fans to help with that chore.

With central heating and air conditioning we abandoned a lot of the carefully thought out ways to "naturally" heat and cool. Now that heating and air conditioning is getting more expensive we can help ourselves by looking back to what proved to work in the past.

The most important point from this is lets build them right in the first place. Airtight construction, high thermal mass and heat recovery ventilation. Then you can keep it warm just by being in it. Course passive solar heating and heat pumps are a good plan. Dont forget most of your heat is lost throught your head, wearing a hat could be the best investment in energy efficiency.

I wish I had thought of that! I'll just knock down my old house and build a new superinsulated one! So this is a practical solution for how many people? I’ve taken all of the superinsulated home construction classes through my union and read most of the books and for anyone considering new construction they are a fool if they don’t use these techniques. Finding someone to do the construction is another matter and they will pay a hefty premium for their expertise. A good opportunity for some enterprising carpenters/architects/contractors. I’ve been in a superinsulated house that a fellow union brother built in Northern Indiana. Quite impressive as to the efficiency.

It might be more efficient to convert Chicago to district heating with a very cheap heat source such as a nuclear cobined heat and power plant then to rebuild all the houses.
I dont know if Chicago already have district heating.

US Energy Secy: Oil Supply Unable to Keep Up with Demand

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Friday that high crude prices are being driven by fundamentals, not speculators.

"It's clear we've got suppliers unable to keep up with demand," Bodman said, in an interview on CNBC. "That's what's driving prices."

This is a distinct reversal for him as I watched him on cspan blame everything but supply.

Also he is very much with this current administration so this would seem like a new move/meme. IMHO

Suppose the price of gas goes up enough to dampen demand.

Will reserves increase due to reduced demand?

Can restoration of demand be accomplished be reducing price to below production cost?

If not do Producers cut back on production?

Do reserves eventually drop?

Can any or all of the parts of the pumping to refining cascade be ramped up and down easily and quickly enough to just respond to demand?

What would re-awaken production if prospects of selling are bleak?

Has this been thrashed out on TOD? Please point me to the post if so.

Just a quicky response.

> Will reserves increase due to reduced demand?

Oil reserves are very price inelastic. Higher prices increase oil reserves slightly, but not enough to make a difference.

> Can restoration of demand be accomplished be reducing price to below production cost?

Oil will never sell below marginal production cost. A SEVERE recession or Depression MIGHT reduce the cost of oil, but it is unlikely even then for any extended period.

> Do reserves eventually drop?

They drop every day, at least since 1960s production has exceeded new discoveries (two or four years since then new discoveries slightly exceeded consumption, but no multi-year periods).

> Can any or all of the parts of the pumping to refining cascade be ramped up and down easily and quickly enough to just respond to demand?

Not any more. No spare capacity left anywhere in all probability.

> What would re-awaken production if prospects of selling are bleak?

$84 oil should "re-awaken" production *IF* production can be reawakened. I do not think it can.

My pool bet for $100 oil is August 22, 2008, but only because I expect a recession very soon.

Best Hopes for non-oil transportation,



We're awfully used to instant gratification in the United States. It takes a bare minimum of 6 months to get a development well in a US oilfied drilled, while wildcats and field extensions take a minimum of two years. Offshore, in shallow or moderate water depths, the times are at least doubled. On the deepwater OCS wells like the Jack 2 well, the time is 7 to 10 years, and maybe not even in that period of time.

What this means as a practical matter for any citizen of the world is that efficently using the energy we have is a sure return. And not being dependent on utilities for our electricity frees us from the burden of working for them, and lets us use our income for things we really want. If I could get solar panels that totally freed me from paying my electric provider, I'm not going to look back wistfully at the good old days of $500 and $1000 summertime electric bills and wish I owned a 5,000 square foot uninsulated McMansion 45 minutes from work at a commuting energy cost of $20 per day.

Bob Ebersole

(Sorry I overlooked that this was in yesterdays drum beat already)

I would appear that the MSM didn't like Bodman's actual quote. So they paraphrased him into:

"Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman appears to agree, stating Friday that high prices are being driven by fundamental supply-and-demand imbalances, not speculation."

It is a subtle change but one worth mentioning.


Interesting article on energy crunch in South America in the New York Times if it hasn't been posted her before. Sounds grim.

"Energy Crunch Threatens South American Nations"


I guess this helps explain the shortage of fuel oil...

Power plants and factories in this smoggy capital were forced to switch to diesel and fuel oil, which belch more air pollution and have nearly quadrupled the cost of producing electricity. Santiago reported its highest number of dangerous smog days in the past seven years.

The linked article about payback on insulation, etc. in the UK is part of a campaign to reduce the VAT (think sales tax) for energy savings measures from 17.5% to 5% or zero,

Such a reduction in taxes would reduce up-front costs and increase affordability as well as shortening the payback periods. Of course, with any advocacy piece, the numbers are tweaked to look as bad as possible. They also use current energy costs and ignore the value that the next buyer will pay for extra insulation, better windows, etc.

I can see where solar water heating will have cost-effective problems in "sunny" Britain. Adding a 17.5% tax will not make solar water heating any more appealing !

Perhaps the USA should reduce or eliminate sales taxes for Energy Star products as well as tankless gas water heaters, solar water heaters, PV solar, etc.

Best Hopes,


(reposted from yesterday's Drumbeat)

This article by Frank Barbara is several days old (10/9/07), but I don't think I've seen it posted here and it integrates analysis of price of crude with the falling dollar and the credit crisis.

Stoneleigh...if you've already published this, my apologies. If not, it may be a good candidate on your financial roundup.

Financial Sense: Energy Update - Part One

These are heady days indeed, with the US Dollar in imminent danger of being dethroned from the world's status of Reserve Currency. For years, the US has enjoyed unprecedented seniority and the luxury of being able to pay its debts in the currency it is able to print. Now, the threat exists that Gulf State countries will break from the Dollar Peg, and move to price Oil in a basket of foreign currencies, possibly including the Euro and the Yen. Already this year, Kuwait, Iran and just recently Qatar have moved away from a Dollar centric universe. Of especially major note is the Saudi Arabian Riyal, which since September 18th, the day the US cut the Fed Funds Rate by 50 bps, has moved away from, and remained off of its prior Peg at 3.75. Are these normal times? Hardly!

As a result of the Dollar weakness, especially against the currencies of the Gulf State Oil producing countries, we are inclined to step back from our call earlier this year (see below) that suggested a potentially more substantial high for Oil in this time frame. Instead, we believe Oil prices could plateau for some time, and could even rise further if this winter turns out to be especially cold. On the bearish side, we would also note that recent data from the Commitment of Traders Report (COT) shows Commercials heavily short Crude Oil, with Large Speculators heavily long. In the chart that follows, we show a NET of Commercials less Large Speculators with that oscillator now deeply negative. In the past, this has not been a great sign for higher Oil prices and in our view, is another element of the current Oil picture which makes it difficult to get overly bullish on Crude, with Crude already trading at lofty levels.

Above: Under more ‘normal’ circumstances, a looming slow-down/recession could be setting up a more important high in Crude Oil. Back in January we put forth the idea that prices could run back up across the range, make a peak and then roll over into a second decline, which would fill out a large A-B-C structure, still within the context of a longer term uptrend. However, in light of the recent US Dollar breakdown, and the threat that OPEC currencies will be realigned in the days just ahead, the odds of Oil undergoing a serious decline are not that substantial. Instead, we could see prices level off, and then move higher, especially if pressure on Arabian currencies continues to mount.

I'd really like to discourage the re-posting of articles/comments that have been posted before. At least when they were posted just the day before.

The DrumBeat goes up at about the same time every day. If you wanted your post in today's DrumBeat, wait an hour or two to post it.

I deleted the one from yesterday's DrumBeat, because it didn't have any comments yet.

My apologies...I should have deleted the other. I posted in the old one and then minutes later...the new Drumbeat got posted...so I put it there as well. I'll be more careful in the future.

Leanan has no mercy

If I had no mercy, I'd have deleted both of his posts.

I deleted the older one, and informed him why.

what does it take to get a smile out of you?

On today's Financial Sense webcast, they have a good discussion of inflation in hour #3. The poor and middle class will be hit hardest.

Hi Dragonfly41,

Thanks for posting this article, very interesting. I don't think Stoneleigh has posted it and it does fit well into the emphasis about the economy on Roundup, and bares repeating there. I'll put a link to your message here, hope you don't mind.

Don't mind at all...thanks. I think it's interesting to see how they forecast crude price and how this compares to some analyses of Khebab, Rembrandt, WT, Euan, etc.

The upward "staircase steps" of price caught my eye and certainly agrees with recent history. In general over time, prices march upward with regular, small pullback intervals in between.

While it might be interesting to check the influence of speculators on oil prices, if only because in all likelihood it's far greater than generally recognized here, I don't find speculations on future oil prices larded with wave theories and complicated graphs all that enticing.

It's all far too dependent on things moving more or less smoothly, business as usual. "My wave function tells me that prices might get lower etc.". Well, if a big bomb drops in Nigeria or Mexico or the Middle East, that same wave function becomes utterly useless from one moment to the next.

These are people who think only in money, and wish to presume their models can explain, even predict, the world around them. And as long as there is enough smoothness, they may well be right 55% of the time, which is enough to make their profits. Same as in any other gambling venue.

But their models would never have predicted 1929, and their interpretation of their own waves will have a stubborn resistance to the possibility that they themselves will lose all their money tomorrow morning. Instead, for them peak oil is a profit opportunity. Just short the market! It's a one-dimensional world these folks live in, the profit dimension.

Making money while other people sleep is one thing, making money while other people suffer is something different.

I didn't post the article because I'm making money off of PO. I just read Financial Sense for some insight to how the financial world views PO-related topics and perhaps try to prepare me and my family for what is ahead. I don't support the wave analysis (memmel has proposed something similar in the past), but it is interesting to note that they are predicting oil prices to staircase upwards. If many futures traders prescribe to this, then it becomes a reality and bang...we get high prices.

I read FS like I read Gold$eek...with about 2 lbs. of salt. There are some insights there, but their bottom line is always how to get rich quick which I don't care for.

I have a hard time figuring out what to invest in whether it is money in the market or even labour in one's workaday employment. When world population is 6,602,224,175 just about anything anyone does, for any reason, I doubt will make the whole planet a better place.

Personally while I try to invest in what I consider the least directly harmful, who knows what indirect harm those investments do. Even making a vegetable garden organically and feeding others, while a noble pursuit, could possibly just prolong the agony for this planet and the death of other species. Maybe the best thing any human could do would be to drop dead, but I don't see anyone without a bomb strapped to their chest lining up to do that, me included.

And who knows but speculators and those who consume those FF in one big orgy of self interest might be doing the planet a favor. Sort of along the lines of a large meteor hitting the joint and temporarily putting the place out of business rather than the slow and inexorable degradation that seems to be occuring. Very worrisome thinking along these lines, eh?

I used to believe this type of analysis a few years ago but now I just disregard it. Why should the price of oil follow Elliot Wave patterns? The problem with EW patterns is that there are a large number of them and labeling them is subjective. So regardless of what the market does, someone can claim it is following Elliot Waves. These patterns have no predictive value at all. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone who has been following Bob Prechter's advice for the last 5 years!

Right! Technical analysis is very useful in the very short term but totally useless in the long term. That is because emotions rule in the short term but only the fundamentals matter in the long term.

Ron Patterson

I don't think the number of people who believe in astrology varies as a function of how often horoscopes are correct.

Call it genetic susceptibility, an acquired trait or lack of education or something else, but I'm not sure it can be cured :)

Translation: I agree you on your assessment of long term wave theories and their accuracy in any kind of prediction in a market that does not consist of >50% hard-core believers of the same theory.

...Even loft insulation would take 13 years to produce savings in utility bills. “People on average spend 16 years living in one property, making most of the EPC energy saving measures financially unattractive propositions,” said RICS. Ten per cent stay in their home for less than five years, and about 12 per cent less than three years.

I have lived in my house thirteen years, I put a new HVAC in last year. I saved over $600 the first year. The unit cost about $5k. The house will be worth more when I sell. Windows are the same way, they improve resale value. The problem is that houses are treated more like commodities these days than homes. Builder grade this and that, no basement, crap boxes. My next house will have a sturdy basement, and no, I probably won't recoup the cost, but it will still be worth it to me.

The house will be worth more when I sell.

Hope you don't have any plans to sell soon or you bought many years ago, before the bubble. Housing prices are going to take a very long time to recover. For instance the average housing recovery takes seven to ten years. Considering this has been the mother of all speculative markets, the slump is going to be considerable longer. Although, by the time the housing recovery occurs, PO and changing demographics (retiring boomers) is likely to permanently change the housing market.


Windbelt, Cheap Generator Alternative, Set to Power Third World

Frayne’s device, which he calls a Windbelt, is a taut membrane fitted with a pair of magnets that oscillate between metal coils. Prototypes have generated 40 milliwatts in 10-mph slivers of wind, making his device 10 to 30 times as efficient as the best microturbines. Frayne envisions the Windbelt costing a few dollars and replacing kerosene lamps in Haitian homes. “Kerosene is smoky and it’s a fire hazard,” says Peter Haas, founder of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, which helps people in developing countries to get environmentally sound access to clean water, sanitation and energy. “If Shawn’s innovation breaks, locals can fix it. If a solar panel breaks, the family is out a panel.”

That's pretty ingenious. They didn't really address if it could be scaled up, but damn if they are that cheap might well install a boatload on your roof. It still may not be enough to power your whole house, but it sure could help the load!

The "wind belt" idea is appealingly simple.

One problem I see with the idea is that the membrane is likely to have a rather short life time, due to fatigue failure limits and exposure to UV. There's no mention in the articles of conversion efficiency, so thoughts of scaling up these devices are probably going to be dashed. For one thing, the vibration frequency is a function of the length of the membrane and the tension, so making them larger may reduce the output of the magnet and coil generator. At the other end of the problem, at high wind speeds, where most of the available energy appears, the output will be limited as the amplitude of the membrane is constrained by the width of the supporting structure. Also, at higher winds, the forces on the membrane increase with the square of the wind speed. There appears to be no provision to steer these things to track the wind, thus the output will change with wind direction. Stack a bunch of smaller devices together and the tracking problem becomes worse, as the area of wind intercepted depends upon pointing the device directly at the impinging wind. As with any wind system, the cost of materials ultimately determines the cost of the system and these will have a large mass per watt produced, I suspect. They claim 40 milliwatts at 10 mph, that's 0.040 watts. Make them 10 times bigger and you get what, maybe 0.40 watts?

E. Swanson

No word on what the EROEI is. A lot of designers are still assuming a cheap energy world.

Of course it should be checked out, but consider the very low cost even now, it could be quite practice.

For low-power, how about an unstable airfoil on a frictionless pivot that oscillates back and forth whacking a piezoelectric crystal? Anyone on here know whether piezoelectric pulses can do anything useful?

Do you have a part number for that frictionless pivot? If it weren't for friction, we could make wind turbines in small power values.


I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

I think my Steorn came with a few spares; I'll check and get back to you.

In the meanwhile, you may substitute a NEARLY-frictionless pivot, like that of a balance beam, magnetic bearing, etc.

And in case the piezoelectric idea doesn't work, how about a magnet on a sphere in a "constrained bernoulli oscillation"? That could be made low-friction with not much in the way of moving parts.

(if you wonder wtf I'm saying, feel free to email before I forget it)


Black dog,

I have another link to the inventors web site above. There is more info about the concerns you bring up there.

There are some pictures of a larger unit. The material is mylar, he shows a roll of it. The same material they use to make kites. The wind speed is a concern, and is being addressed for damage.

View the video and you can see how its done on the small model. soon he will publish and hopefully you can build one and check it out. Cheap to do for sure. need to know about the coils and their number windings preferred for the magnet size and normal amount of vibration movement, and how to make a unit to smooth out the voltage. It looks like basic knowledge of reading a schematic will get her done for this.

This will not scale up. Its in place of small wind turbines. He says that the windbelt is 10x better than the current small wind turbine. and the cost, not even close.

If I can get .4 watts out of the large one seen on his site (check out the various links he has) and its cost me very little to make and repair, then why not. If I can build several and place them in a back yard or on top of a roof then its still cheap energy. Its great for third world countries and that is their purpose currently.

They work at night and during the day.

Notice the inventor says that he thinks the ideas coming out of third world countries will be the ones that make the difference.

That view was expressed currently on this site by a poster. That the countries learning to deal with the problem now would find the best solutions.

Fascinating. An educated guess is that it takes advantage of Von Karman vortices (also called 'sheets'), which are responsible for flags fluttering back and forth in the breeze. The principle is used by some fluid meters since the frequency of vortex shedding can be correlated with fluid velocity, which can in turn get to volumetric rate by knowing a few other details.

Gearing issues go away substantially if not completely. Ornithologists would be in favor of the idea. But off the cuff I suspect that, for a given wind speed and cross-sectional shape, power available is going to correlate with 'sail area'. Might need a whonking big obstruction to the airflow to get any meaningful power.

It's an electric guitar pickup with its guts hanging out!

Someone feel free to build on that. Certainly looks guitar-ish to me anyway - oscillating wire drives magnetic coil.

If it works and its durable that is a high mass "Silver BB". The wind in my region averages 17 mph and those things kick out 100 watts? Assuming 3' spacing I would see 1.6kW from the barn roof and perhaps 800W from the house itself. And the cost is wiring plus $5/unit?

I'll have a business installing those the month after they're available at that rate ...

Like The Dude said, it's a guitar pickup! Personally I prefer an eggbeater design to the more popular propeller design:

[edit] Here's probably my favorite maker, their product is so pretty:

However my "instinct" tells me the flapping-generator is going to be a small power source, and a maintenance headache. :: for example, how does Mr. Frayne's gadget hold up in sun, rain, and variations of wind speed/direction?

But, sure, we should look at all kinds of alternatives to cushion the downslope: conservation, cheap/efficient solar, high capacity batteries, etc.

What is the great thing about this? Efficiency?

Surely it is not the ability to work at varying wind speeds.

Several vertical axis windmills work from 2mph upwards to 135 mph (and perhaps beyond, I'm not 100% up-to-date).

They can also be scaled to various sizes, can be low friction and produce very little noise.



More mfgs at:


If the device in question can be 10 times as efficient (as a whole system) as the best vertical axis windmills, then I'm positively surprised, but I doubt that's true.

cost and efficiency is the claim. Cost being a major factor between a propeller type, and the efficiency at the size.

Also the "ribbon" is probably a roll of Dacron tape he has in his hands. He says mylar for kites. Its probably Dacron or similar tape and it is made for stunt kites, for their leading edge. It cuts cleanly and doesn't fray. The cost of this tape is cheap, and the design would make it easy when repairs are needed.

If you go to the website and click on the links you will find some pdf's and flash, video etc. He explains the problems and the good. Its new and its being worked on.

He does make the 10x claim for the device.

Winds over 50mph can cause damage to the ribbon. Don't know where you live, but for me that is rare rare around the midsouth. He has some ideas to solve that problem.

This wind device probably does work off the principle of von Karman vortices, or some variation thereof. It looks quite intriguing, but appears to have some inherent drawbacks as the size gets larger and larger.

Whenever you have a mass that is free to oscillate against a restraining force such as a spring or a flexible membrane, and a largely uncontrolled driving force to move that mass (i.e., the wind), then you are setting yourself up for all sorts of destructive phenomena. This is also one of the problems with many of these proposed wave power schemes. Plus anything with an oscillating membrane of large size has questionable life.

If this thing works at all, it appears that it's most effective niche would be in very small localized power applications, such as for single or small multiple dwellings.

Coincidentally, just the other day I had a rather unpleasant experience with von Karman vortices. I bought two pieces of 4 x 8 drywall at Home Depot and strapped them to the roof rack of my Subaru wagon. I knew there would be a problem with wind, so I took the back roads home so I could keep my speed below 35 mph. Even so, when the wind hit just the right speed and direction, that drywall started to violently oscillate up and down such that I had to stop the car several times, lest they self destruct. As it was, one of the pieces developed a permanent bend due to all that flexing. Now picture something like this banging around in the wind 24/7. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there are daunting problems that will need to be overcome before it becomes a reliable practical device.

The Mag-Wind product looks pretty slick, but it got the beatdown here for claiming 281% efficiency :-)


All fact checking aside, does anyone have one of these things? I mean any small scale wind turbine? I'd really like one, but I'm not going to spend the purchase price of a small car just to experiment.

It is futile to discuss whether peak oil or global warming is worse. Read this about the arctic summer sea ice gone by 2013 if current trends continue:

Causes of Changes in Arctic Sea Ice
Wieslaw Maslowski
Naval Postgraduate School

Once the arctic sea ice is gone in summer, darker ocean waters will absorb more heat and get warmer (positive feed back loop). The warmer arctic ocean will result in faster disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet. 5 m sea level rise.
We must now pull the emergency brake on CO2 emissions. We will also need to get that CO2 out of the atmosphere again if we don't want a big disaster.

I wonder what would be this "emergency brake" on CO2 emissions.

Nothing but a nuclear war or global pandemic comes to mind. Even a severe depression will take years and will cause just a slight dip in emissions. By 2013 we won't have even a single new nuke (in US) oil will have just peaked and coal will be enjoying it's best days. Even most optimistic projections don't see renewables doing anything noticeable in the next 10 years.

Who knows maybe nuclear winter may solve the problem with global warming? :)

One doesn't need optimistic projections for renewables to get noticeable effect in next 10 years. In 2006 electricity production of US was 10.6 TWh higher than in 2005. Wind increased 2.4 TWh from 2005 to 2006. I call this quite noticeable. Wind years are not equal: the increase in wind capacity was even larger. The new 2006 wind capacity of 2,454 MW would produce more than 5 TWh in average wind year. This year wind will likely add more than 3,000 MW in US (17-19 GW globally).

From 1990 to 2006 the average yearly increase in US electricity production has been around 16.7 TWh (with high variation, lot of additional natural gas production in 2001-2005). The current rate of growth in wind power indicates doubling of new capacity every 3.5 years. At this rate wind will get to 16.7 TWh in less than seven years. However, rate of growth is likely to be slower for the next three years mostly due to supply chain issues.

Statistics from EIA Annual Energy Review 2006 and www.awea.org

Not again... not again that exponential growth thing. I doubled my bank account every year in the last 2 years. So, by 2030 I'll be the richest person in the world? (for the curious: 2^23 is about 8 million times times my initial account)

What you just told me is that wind has covered only 1/7th of the growth in US recently. It has not even reached a situation in which to displace traditional generation which has provided for 6/7ths of that same growth, so emissions from electricity are rising! In percentage terms wind has gone from 0.2 to 0.8% of generation for six years or 0.1%/year. With that speed in 10 years it would stay at 1.8%, if we allow some acceleration maybe to 2-3% of the electricity only. And electricity emits only a third of the emissions. 1/3 of 3% is 1%. 1% over 16 years, while overall energy consumption grows more than 1% on a single year! Does this sound like "putting the breaks on emissions"?

BTW the limits to wind will ultimately be economical and infrastructural, the supply chain problems should be short lived.

How do you think coal, nuclear or natural gas ever got to the position they are in now? Pretty impressive growth at some point. Nuclear had average production growth of 36.5% when going from 1.7 TWh to 273 TWh over 20 years. Natural gas did it slower over longer period of time and coal as well. One reason why nuclear was able to have so big growth numbers is probably that the manufacturing capability for most parts was there already, since turbines and generators were being made for other steam power plants.

Wind is growing in similar fashion right now, but is restricted to growth rates of 15-25%, since manufacturing doesn't ramp up so fast. Investment environment (mainly cost, fuel price volatility and climate policy uncertainty) is favoring wind and that's a big reason why wind is getting big investments and that wind is able to grow at exponential rate.

5 TWh out of 16.7 TWH is closer to 1/3rd than 1/7th. You are correct to make a point that I was talking about growth, I should have been clear about that. US electricity production is about 937 TWh in 2006, a plant lifetime of little above 30 years would imply 30 TWh replacement per year. Wind can grow up to that as well, but it'll take couple of more years after it has reached the '16.7 TWh milestone'.

Last six years of wind development include early years when wind hadn't grown to the level where it's now, plus some years where PTC ran out and dropped the market in US. From 2004 to 2005 the share of wind of total production grew 0.23% and 2005-2006 0.25% (2005 was better wind year than 2006, otherwise increase in 2005-2006 would've been much larger). This year growth will be more and the next year again more and the next year.... Oh, I forgot that you don't believe in exponential growth.

I do believe in exponential growth - of course to the extent that the share of wind out of new capacity and out of total share of electricity production is within reasonable limits. For new capacity it can be quite much, but there's still need for peaking capacity as well. For total share of electricity production the jury is still out - my take is above 50%. Limitations will come from economics and resources. It will make sense to have other production that will take care of periods of low wind production and high consumption. Electricity storages could do the same trick, but they are too expensive, at least from today's perspective. Regionally wind is limited in some places due to meager wind resources, although in some parts there is overabundance of resource. Resource limitations could be overcome with large transmission line investments, but that's rather speculative. Siting could also be an issue, but since world doesn't have very many good options for producing electricity, I think siting can be overcome. It should also be taken into account that solar electricity could one day be competitive with wind.

When it comes to primary energy, then wind electricity is in quite good position. Electricity is much more useful energy than the chemical energy in fossil fuels. When we start to replace gasoline with wind electricity in transport sector, we can expect to see the so called primary energy consumption to go to about one third, since energy in electricity can be utilized much better than combustion engines do. The same is true with heating and cooling, if we are smart enough to use heat pumps. In heating I would prefer better buildings in the first place, but the remainder could be dealt with solar and wind. If buildings had enough heat storage capacity they could even act as an element of flexibility that would help to deal with the variation of wind and solar sources.

The first notch of the emergency brake is "stop doing business as usual". Our governments haven't even come to this initial mind set change yet. A self-defeating "we can do nothing" response makes it even worse.

Levink I was going to ask you to give some substance about your statement about a depression not being on, re halting global warming, but the lead article on Stoneleighs Roundup seems to have answered that.
Too bad!

Yes, notice the end of 70s and the 80s on the graph of CO2 concentration on that article - the oil shocks, depressions and recessions of the period did not cause even a minor slowing of the slope... the stairway to heaven hell.

I did not want to be defeatist but with the lack of radical policies/solutions this problem obviously needs I would have to concede it won't be solved at all and we will have to adjust... if we are able at all.

Matt, a new Nasa/JPL research paper revealed that wind currents are the cause of this quick melting of the sea ice this summer. Its composition was also a factor. This report did not find CO2 as a culprit. Wind currents are the cause. These patterns were found to have started a 100 years ago. Its not discussed in the news release about this being a permanent feature. This winter the ice could refreeze and the wind currents and ice composition will be different by next March after the winter ice forms. The ice could stay next summer.

Remember this years ice grew very fast this past year. There were stories in the media about several ships that were trapped in the ice (seal hunting). The sea ice formed very quickly and caught them off guard.

Wind currents blew the ice into warmer waters. The ice composition was a cause of this also. I think a read of this paper will help put this ice melt into perspective. Study was done from Satellite data and buoy measurements.

For decades, measurements have shown that the Arctic sea-ice moves around quite a bit. Russian ice stations were regularly established on the ice, which allowed tracking. This year, the winds tended to push the sea-ice in one direction, but there was melt as well. I would be very surprised if the winds next year blow in the same direction and produce the same result. This year's minimum extent may stand as the record for a while, but the downward trend can be expected to continue, such that another record minimum extent could be observed in a few years. Unless, of course, we have really messed things up by stopping the THC.

As for your mention of the story of the seal hunters being trapped, I recall that to have occurred in the Labrador Sea, not the Arctic Ocean. Several years back, there was a story about a sudden early freeze on the Siberian side of the Arctic Ocean which trapped dozens of ships. Ice breakers were needed to open a passage for the ships to escape before conditions became worse.

E. Swanson

"Unless, of course, we have really messed things up by stopping the THC."

Oh, WOW, man... Seriously hope that never happens...

Thermohaline circulation:

Now go back to your bong ...

You're right it was the Labrador I believe, not the Arctic.

Though the point is ice can happen very quickly and this new story shows it.

Your mention of the Russian ice stations was spot on.\

40 Russian ships off Siberia were just frozen-in due to quick freezing of ice.


You state there was melt anyway. Would you link to this. The Nasa story does not say this happened. The melt happened after the ice was pushed into warmer waters. The water where it originated caused melting is your claim. Where do you get this from.

Also where do you get the idea that the coming year will be like this year. Is this in a paper somewhere.

Also Note that how the ice is formed makes a difference as to whether it has a tendency to break up and allow it to be moved by the wind. If those wind currents persist the way the ice is formed will play a part in the breakup and the continuing of the pattern of the wind current will also have to continue. Two factors involved for the breakup/melt it appears to me.

Matt, a new Nasa/JPL research paper revealed that wind currents are the cause of this quick melting of the sea ice this summer.

So please give us a link to that research. The Maslowski paper referenced above says clearly that warm water from the Pacific Ocean has entered the Arctic Sea. For these dramatic changes to happen, there are usually multiple causes.


Posted it in drumbeat thread yesterday.

FYI there was also another theory just put forth about "ocean" warming. Its a theory that does not use CO2 also. Last week I saw the release.

Its premise is that water warming in the Antarctic moved to the north and caused climate change. He argues that the same thing is happening now. Its based on sea based analysis using the same sorta technique used in ice cores I believe. Don't have a link, at hand.

He claims that deep sea warming was the culprit, but didn't really say why the deep sea warmed. He tried to use above ground factors having to do with tilt of the earth I believe, but it didn't make sense, because he didn't explain how water so deep could be influenced by the water from above.

Some think the planet and magma could be a culprit. Woods Hole is going to the Antarctic and looking at volcanic activity is on their agenda. Also Gakkle Ridge in the Arctic is being looked at now by Woods hole.

The sea is warming at depths that warming should not happen because of its depth and should stay stable.

This theory you linked also uses water moving from the south to the north.

Also I said in the above post it was 100 years ago the wind patterns started. I read the stuff about 70 and 80's, but they say "this past century" that could mean 2000 it started. Though why use the words past century when talking about 6,7 years ago. Anyway the data says wind did it.

OMG its the evil undead "undersea volcanoes are warming the ocean" meme!

Do I run and hide, or stay and fight? I ... fight!

I have had some discussions here with some clownish person who wanted me to apologize for not seeing just how hot hydrothermal vents are, and how lots and lots of them, or maybe undersea volcanoes might be heating the whole ocean!!!! Hey! They could be! You have to admit it ... after all you haven't personally toured the whole ocean floor ... scientists say ... blah blah blah

I find Gavin Schmidt to be a much more coherent, credible source of information on climate effects than random people from the iNtErWeB with half baked ideas, so we'll let Gavin dispatch this particular trollish favorite - dig a bit and you'll find it.


Not aimed at PrisonerX, who appears to be quoting some under the bridge dweller, but We, The Regulars need to hold that particular bit of nonsense under rapidly warming seawater until the bubbles stop, then spend a few minutes contemplating its much needed demise, then give it a few good shakes to make sure there will be no more bubbles.

All kidding aside it might good to whip up a list of previously debunked nonsense so I don't have to get into Howler mode like this ...




How do you debunk that the earth itself could be warming the oceans using magma and volcano's.

The real question in this is HOW MANY volcano's are under the sea. We only can really track and see those above ground.

Until recently,

Recently there was a survey done. I tried to find it on a google, but no luck, but I will find it. Why, because the number of underwater volcano's they found was STAGGERING from the number. How did they find them. They used a system that looked for water that "folded" around the volcano's. I think that was the term. It recognized them by the surrounding waters "form" so to speak.

The number was beyond estimates based on land based volcano's and how many would be below based on that. The estimate was way way wrong.

Also note that volcano's are one form of magma release. since much of the ocean covers the crust and that crust at the great ocean depths is closer to magma there are many places magma exits at these locations where the crust is thinner.

Really I don't see how you can dismiss this notion. With this new number it works against the theory that there are not enough volcano's. Tectonic activity is hard to discuss because there is so little data showing what is Normal in eruptions.

Again, the water at the deepest part of the oceans is warming. If you wish to claim that CO2 can do this please explain. This water is so deep that it should not warm but it is. That has to be explained. I don't know about you, but when I heat my coffee, I put the flame under the kettle not above it. Works better and faster that way. Heat from the surface to get to these depths. How is it done.

So almost the whole ocean floor has been mapped for volcano's now. I will find the link and let you see the number they found. And ocean trenches are pouring out lots of magma. Gakkle ridge and one other that Woods Hole have been checking out.

I am assuming that Gavin dispatched the "idea" based on how many volcano's he esitmated etc.

Well the number is jaw dropping. I'll put out an email to see where the report is.

I also think that the mapping did not take place where sea ice forms. So its not probably the whole number.

thermalcline (or is it thermocline) will not explain it via turnover. Its my understanding this process can not be done at these depths.

Fire away SCT. heck i am not even going to bring up the fact that every planet in the solar system is showing signs of warming that has an atmosphere. Whats causing that.

Well dust has been pointed at as a cause. Nasa reported we were moving into a large area of dust and we are well into it now.

The atomic clock has been reset how often. Seconds added, why is that. Slowing down perhaps, angular momentum at play, don't know, but I don't take models and theory as a real answer. I go to the track and bet on a several dogs to win place or show, I don't put all my eggs in one basket.

Two things I also am watching and thinking about, One minor perhaps one major

There was a report in the media recently that a report had been prepared for congress in the early nineties I think (could have been eighties, but I think late 80 early 90 from memory). This report said that CO2 in the atmosphere was going to cause global "cooling" because it would block the Sun. This researcher had someone model this and they did, which showed that man and CO2 would cause global cooling. The person that took the data and modeled it was non other than James Hansen. So I see he has modeled both ways. And each time he used man as the culprit. Has he said what changed his mind, or has he refused to discuss it.

The second thing just announced is that J Hansen has agreed to give the data he used to make his predictions for his models. Nasa pretty much told him to do it, he didn't do it because he wanted to. That statement is based on his statement when Nasa told him to give it out. I think the word "begrudging" was used to explain state of mind when he said he would do it.

That data is now in the hands of others and soon we will learn from their viewpoints what is what so to speak.

Its this release of data so others can actually see how he comes to his conclusions.

We will see,


[Response: Errr… there is no demonstrated rise in volcanic activity, the warming of the ocean is much larger near the surface, the KT impact event has nothing to do with rising CO2 today, natural ice age cycles would be leading to a cooling at the present if large enough to be noticeable, and water vapour is not ignored! -gavin]

This is Gavin Schmidt's response to what seemed to me to be a climate change denial troll on RealClimate. Notice the firm disavowal that there is any current increase in volcanic activity. The actual comment stream is here.


The Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum is clearly connected to undersea volcanic events - ocean chemistry changes wiped out many species of diatoms and this is clearly seen in the fossil records.

I also see some talk about the Wisconsin glaciation terminating on the back of volcanic activity. This is just talk at this point - no pointers to evidence in the fossil record of significant ocean chemistry change and the CO2 concentration records from the Vostok ice cores show the usual scenario - nice, slow, 100k year CO2 cycles

Ice ages and CO2 concentrations

There is no coverage of this theory that volcanic emissions are involved in the current warming of the oceans on RealClimate. The premier site for the discussion of peer reviewed science in the realm of climate change has no articles on this matter. I did some digging and managed to locate on additional comment that also debunks this idea. I treat this as authoritative since it came from one of the site contributors. Its difficult to interpret without reading the whole thread, but here it is.

[Response: We work in C rather than CO2, and .6Gt is in the right ballpark. It’s interesting to note that if the volcanic CO2 were even comparable to the anthropogenic (let’s say 6Gt), let alone dominant, that would put the outgassing at values far in excess of what they were believed to have been any time in the past 3.5 billion years. Using the Walker Hayes and Kasting weathering model with the present solar constant, a 6Gt per year outgassing would equilibrate at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of about 57 times the present, or 17000ppmv. That would lead to temperatures in excess of 14K warmer than pre-industrial values. –raypierre]


So ... no coverage on RealClimate to speak of, the few mentions of volcanic activity are firmly slapped down by the people recognized as experts in the area within the community that does peer reviewed science ... what this tells me is that while there are CO2 emissions from undersea volcanic processes they're down in the noise floor - not enough volume to make a big difference in the discussion and not undergoing any sort of rapid changes at this time.

I am willing to be convinced otherwise, but it has to be peer reviewed science. This Stott fellow seems reputable, but he has not yet made a case solid enough to get discussion time on RealClimate. Until he does I'm going to treat it as a nonevent.


Here is the link to the story about the mapping of the new volcano's



"Since the late 1960s, research vessels have been criss-crossing the oceans using sonar instruments to measure the depth of the ocean floor. They have generated 40 million kilometres of linear profiles showing the topography of the ocean bed between 60° North – the latitude of southern Alaska – and 60° South – corresponding to the tip of Patagonia.

But until now, no one had been able to sift through them all. So, Hillier and a colleague designed a computer programme that was able to analyse the huge amount of data and identify volcano-like shapes in the sonar lines.

The programme found 201,055 volcanoes over 100m tall. Previously, satellite data had identified 14,164 volcanoes over 1500 m high.

Hillier then extrapolated the data to estimate how many volcanoes exist beyond the areas the research vessels sounded out. He estimates there are about 39,000 volcanoes that are higher than 1000 m, leaving nearly 25,000 yet to be directly discovered."


Did real climate discuss the NASA/JPL study?

No one here seemed to know about it. If you don't discuss new findings how can anyone discuss them. err, ya know.

One other thing, Volcano's emit CO2 and other gasses, these would either stay in the ocean if the temp allowed it. If not then the CO2 would escape from the water. If the volcano activity heats the water then this too would allow for more CO2 to escape, plus put more water vapor into the atmosphere.

Again I ask if you can tell me why the Oceans water at its deepest depths is warming. This is not a "non event".

Tectonic activity in the last few years has been extraordinary it seems. Hey, a 6.9 is ho hum these days. We just set a record for the two largest quakes recorded in the same year. volcano's are erupting in different stages above ground. You know that the Yeman volcano erupted for days and it was basically considered extinct. Yet all this activity and tectonic plates moving around, ring of fire hot hot hot. And its ho hum a non event.

I think that 16 active volcano's is around average, but I agree that data is poor.

However poor it may be. The number of above ground volcano's that are in a stage of eruption that usually is 16 is more than double that and has been for some time. Last time I checked double was mild. I could not believe how long the list was.

People that study volcano's don't study climate. So why would you expect them to say something. Look at what happens to those that don't tow the line.

And you can't really prove how many volcano's are in stages of eruption under the sea. Though if news reports are any indication, scientist are surprised at the activity that they are seeing. Ridges, volcano's and more.

Woods hole is looking at it. They don't really talk about it. Its in the statements, a comment here or there. but they know who butters there bread. Thats part of the main problem.


TIME will tell

BS !

The earth has been radiating out heat since the beginning of time (source radioactive decay for the last few billion years).

One means is via volcanism.

There is NO suggestion that the rate has changed in recent decades. Sure a lot of heat comes out, and ALWAYS has !


Deep water is warming up because of the blanket on top keeps it from radiating out. The oceans have always taken heat from the earth's core to the surface to be radiated away. Just basic thermodynamics.

Now, if 10% of Global Warming is caused by natural causes (10% is the upper limit that IPCC put on natural warming from memory of media reports), then OH $H!T !!

This means us humans have to INCREASE our efforts to reduce Global Warming, scrap our SUVs, turn the thermostats down to 47 degrees in the winter, etc, etc.

Changing climate, from any source (increased volcanism or increasing CO2 from natural levels by half again), will have *VERY* negative effects on our economy, our society and our ability to avoid a massive prolonged die-off !

Best Hopes for less ignorance,


If I had some poo to fling I would throw it right at the monitor for this one:

heck i am not even going to bring up the fact that every planet in the solar system is showing signs of warming that has an atmosphere. Whats causing that.

When you say every planet what I think you mean is the ol' "Mars is warming, too" denialist favorite. I don't even have to resort to recognized experts to dispatch this one, as a basic knowledge of physics will suffice.

We can get the information we need for this problem starting from the table of planets of Wikipedia:


Now follow the links for Earth and Mars, noting their perihelion and aphelion.

Earth P:147Mkm/A:152Mkm
Mars P:206Mkm/A:249Mkm

So the Earth has a nice, circular orbit, while Mars is quite eccentric, wandering in a band nine times wider than the Earth. Varying distance from the Sun means varying amounts of energy arriving depending on where Mars is in its orbit.

Lets return again to the Earth and Mars links, this time examining their atmospheric pressure.

Earth: 101.3kPa
Mars: 0.7 - 0.9 kPa

Mars' atmospheric pressure varies because part of the time the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere freezes out as CO2 snow. Mars also has about 1% of the atmosphere the Earth has. It should be intuitively obvious that some 100X the size of another object should take 100X the energy to warm the same amount. Mars has low thermal inertia. The Earth also has massive heat sinks in the form of oceans, which Mars lacks.

So there is little Mars, requiring less than 1% of the energy the Earth requires to adjust its temperature by the same amount, and its ranging back and forth 9X more than the Earth does. Sometimes it warms, sometimes it cools, and this does nothing to exculpate Exxon, General Motors, and all of the rest us from the mess we're making here.


Where do you get your data that mars has 1% of the atmosphere of earth.

Really then tell me, how does all that dust get into the atmosphere. Wind "atmosphere" is needed to move the dust. How much "wind" is needed in a 1% atmosphere to pick up and move great volumes of dust.

Lately they claimed the Rovers were down because of dust. How strong would a storm have to be to move that much dust. Are super hurricanes also a part of Mars so a 1 percent atmosphere can pick up, hold and maintain an almost planet wide dust storm

I think a former NASA physicist disagrees with that number and he uses the dust and atmosphere as a basis for his claim.

Tom Van Flanders

can you explain how a 1 percent atmosphere can be responsible for such dust storms.

They also said there was no water on Mars, and now they say what.

I have been following the mars thing for some time. Lets say that nasa does not have record of being up front imo. This goes back some time, and includes the announcement of methane being found some time back. That scientist suddenly made a retraction, and so it goes and goes with that planet.

Now methane is or is not on Mars. Water is or is not on Mars. An atmosphere of 1 is what they claim. Also tell me what color is the sky on mars.

And you for arguments sake debunked mars, what about all the others. Venus, Pluto (which is headed away from the sun is warming), Saturn, etc. and that funny thing about the poles on Saturn and cloud formations that cannot be explained.

TIME will tell.


Look at the atmospheric pressures for Earth and Mars. See the Mars number? Divide that by the Earth number ... about 1%. This isn't a perfect comparison of atmospheric mass because Mars has 39% of the gravity of Earth, but its close enough for our purposes.

The rest of the stuff you write is further and further away to do with any one of peak oil, economic collapse, or anthropogenic global warming on Earth.

Do you know the history of how the Catholic Church kept fighting to enforce the dogma that the Sun rotates around the Earth, even as ever-improving astronomical data required ever more complicated movements to make that the case?

Ptolemy wasn't even a Christian, but the faithful had long since latched onto his idea that Earth was at the center of the universe. Why was this so important? Because if Earth was not "special" in its location, then God might have created other solar systems, with other planets, with their own life forms. Odd that God didn't bother to tell us about that in His blood-stained little red book. If there was the slightest chink in its infallibility, it would mean that all the dogmas enforced by European civilization might be questioned, like divine right of kings, the privileges of nobility, male supremacy, you name it.

So what is PrisonerX's religion? The infallibilty of technology, or the infallibility of private property? We might as well start arguing about what status and privileges he stands to lose with their collapse, because soon we will be killing each other over it.

You have so much more patience than I do.
Hang in there, bud. I've been doing this for a year on another thread; gets real tiring.


In Climate Progress, James Hansen writes:

In 1976, with four colleagues, I wrote my first paper on climate (Science, 194, 685-690, 1976). Based on the suggestion of Yuk Yung, one of the co-authors, we examined, for the first time, whether several human-made trace gases might have an important greenhouse effect (until then, only carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons had been considered). We found that methane and nitrous oxide were likely to be important, though measurements of how these gases might be changing were not yet available. Starting then I became interested, very interested, in the Earth’s climate; indeed, two years later I resigned as Principal Investigator of an experiment on its way to Venus so that I could devote full time to studies of the Earth’s climate.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I began to be inundated a few days ago with reports that I had issued proclamations five years earlier, in 1971, that the Earth was headed into an ice age.

Here is how this swift-boating works. First on 19 September 2007 a Washington Times article by John McCaslin reported that a 9 July 1971 article by Victor Cohn in the Washington Post had been discovered with the title “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming”. The scientist, S.I. Rasool, is reported as saying that the world “could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age”.

This is an old story: Rasool and (Steve) Schneider published a paper in Science on that day noting that if human-made aerosols (small particles in the air) increased by a factor of four, other things being equal, they could cause massive global cooling. At Steve’s 60th birthday celebration I argued that the Rasool and Schneider paper was a useful scientific paper, an example of hypothesis testing, in the spirit of good science. But what is the news today? Mr. McCaslin reported that Rasool and Hansen were colleagues at NASA and “Mr. Rasool came to his chilling conclusions by resorting in part to a new computer program developed by Mr. Hansen that studied clouds above Venus.”
What was that program? It was a ‘Mie scattering’ code I had written to calculate light scattering by spherical particles. Indeed, it was useful for Venus studies, as it helped determine the size and refractive index of the particles in the clouds that veil the surface of Venus. I was glad to let Rasool and Schneider use that program to calculate scattering by aerosols. But Mie scattering functions, although more complex, are like sine and cosine mathematical functions, simply a useful tool for many problems. Allowing this scattering function to be used by other people does not in any way make me responsible for a climate theory.
Yet as this story passes from one swift boater to another it gets juicier and juicier, e.g.:

Global Warming Scientist Once Warned of ‘Ice Age’
By Doug Ware — KUTV.com

[I won’t reprint the whole piece of nonsense here]

It is little wonder that I have been getting nasty e-mails the past several days.


Hello TODers,

Has Mother Nature summoned some elephant Earthmarines for fighting back against Human Overshoot? Recall that Hans Selye's GAS is DNA-wired in all creatures, and that stress kicks it into high gear.

GAUHATI, India - About 100 wild elephants have converged on a river island in northeast India, demolishing homes, feasting on sugarcane and panicking residents, officials said Saturday.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

(feasting on) (sugarcane and panicking residents)


(feasting on sugarcane) and (panicking residents)

I had to study it a bit to make out what was being said :-)

Hi Bob;
Just saying hi while I'm hanging in your general neighborhood! I'm in Glendale, counting the hundreds of rooftops that would be generating power today and all week if they had a couple panels on them! Ok, that was unnecessarily snarky.. I like being in the desert.. I'm really here visiting my father-in-law, before a few days of work in Tucson. You'd hardly know there was a drought, the way they make bathtubs out of some of the yards! Oops! There I go agin.. sorry!

Bob from Maine

We are guaranteed 2.8 million acre feet by Uncle Sam. Why care about drought?




I haven't escaped from reality. I have a daypass.

Hello TODers,

Recall Project Murambatsvina [Taking Out the Trash] in Zimbabwe whereby the Govt. demolished thousands of squatter homes and street vendor businesses. Now, please compare with this recent Bloomberg news development coming from Mexico:

Mexico City Wins Battle in War Against Street Vendors (Update1)

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico City reached a temporary accord to remove as many as 20,000 street vendors from a tourist-filled downtown square, avoiding a showdown with police today even though the peddlers vow to return.

The vendors had vowed to stand firm if the police moved in with force. On a side street clogged with stalls brimming with undergarments and t-shirts earlier in the week, Hugo Cesar Aguilar, 22, pulled a metal pipe out from near his feet.

``We'll see what happens,'' he said. ``If there is an agreement we will go quietly, if not there could be blows.''
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Those street vendors need to be supplied with sniper rifles, poisoned dart blowguns, anything that they can use to inflict high casualties against the police.

Hello Fleam,

Thxs for responding. IMO, it is shaping up to be a classic resource war to determine the percentages of future tribute to the ruling Mexican PTB: essentially the globalized Walmart of Mexico vs the localized street vendors; taxpaying companies vs non-taxpaying vendors.

The Mexican topdogs obviously perceive it to be in their best taxing interests to eradicate the vendors to force markets into formal retail establishments, thus the application of police force to re-assert government's monopoly on violence and market control.

It will be interesting to see if TPTB win this tactical round, or if the vendors understand the far-greater strategic ramifications that result from a Mexican version of Project Murambatsvina.

African dung beetles perform an essential, tax-free task on elephant crap: to help plants grow for the elephants to later eat. IMO, the poor vendors are much more likely to create future, low-cost postPeak localized econ & ecosystem feedback loops than Walmart and other corporate retailers, who are locked into high, fixed overhead and high energy retail infrastructures. But I doubt if the Mexican PTB are willing and forthcoming to reduce their easy-living parasitic tendencies. Time will tell.

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

This is interesting when taken in context - gas and oil pipeline bombings in the countryside, declining remittance from the north due to staggering U.S. economy, and Cantarell admittedly sliding out of production fairly soon.

The people on the street want to feed themselves and the money from those abroad is drying up. The government requires a tax base to function and Cantarell's decline is a frightful thing. The government's move is not so much about Wal-Mart as it is about tax dollars - the regulated and reported economy pays for things, the unregulated does not.

I predict ... nothing that hasn't been said before here on TOD. The Mexican state is on very thin ice and there doesn't appear to be any way off it.

totoneila -- one of the classic writings on Peak Oil and sustainability, probably on dieoff.org somewhere, likens our Way Of Life (tm) as a party on a large sinking ship, with liferafts floating around/away from it, and the partiers shooting holes in the liferafts and forcing their occupants to join the doomed party.

That is exactly what is happening in Mexico.

Mexico seems to be on the verge of revolution. The indian poor become more unable to make a living in the countryside by the day, so their children put on shoes and become mestizo. They then leave to go to the capital, or the maquiladores, or on to the United States to make a living, . More young men than women make the trip north, so the small towns are becoming villages of old people, women and children. Grammar school education is free, but a high school or college education isnt available to the vast majority of the populace.

Kids get married very young in Mexico, so many of the young women were raised the same way. But the practical results are absent fathers, and many young marriages in Mexico break up, its hard for 17 year old kids to make a go of marriage in the best of circumstances, and months of seperation combined with a hard life isn't good. Since Mexico is a Catholic country, divorces are very hard for a poor couple to get, so there are great numbers of seperated people living together with children scattered out in a couple of households.

It seems that every few years a wave of nativism sweeps the United States- wanting to save the country for the people that live there already. The first I'm aware of in the US was the Know Knothings in the 1840's, who focused on Catholics and the Irish in particular, because the US was a protestant country. Luckily, there were still enough people alive who had known the founding fathers to know that they opposed the establishment of any type of religion. But this country has continued this tradition of bias, racism and hatred since the beginning, when it was decided that an Indian or a Black person would be entitled to 3/5ths of the representation of a white person in congress, although their vote, along with women, didn't exist because of various state registration requirements. At any rate, racism and nativism was enshrined from the beginning.

The latest manifestation is the Lou Dobbs/CNN/Fox crusade against the illegal aliens. Whatever the rights or wrongs are of the various positions, the practical result has been a big cut-back in money remittances being sent south to take care of the wives, mothers and children remaining in Mexico. Its not just the luxuries, its the beans to go with the tortillas, the pittance to the school teacher, the clothes so a child feels decent at school, the $2 for the collection plate at the non-denominational chapel, the medicine.

There are very few jobs available at the NAFTA factories for anyone over 30 The managers there want women because women are more passive and their labor can be exploited more easily, and they want them young because their economic insecurity leads them to accept almost anything with some small children dependent on their support The maquiladoras are concentrated in towns near the border,as most of the goods are shipped back finished to the United States. That leaves nothing for the older women of the lower class except the jobs as street vendors or as servants.

Meanwhile, the traditional rule of law in all the Frontera has fallen apart. The Richard Nixon's War on Drugs has been a catastrophe for both Mexico and the U.S.. There was always some drug trade in Mexican culture. Poor people go to herb doctors for help, and marijuana and opium are very effective pain relievers both physical and emotional. As the traditional Indian cultures were absorbed into the Mestizo Mexican majority, there was plenty of substance abuse and addiction to provide a market and plenty of wild kids on both sides of a porous border thousands of miles in length.

The rule of law had never been that strong with the vast majority of Mexicans anyway, there is a very small, very entrenched elite that controls everything and Mexico has never produced a professional class or a large middle class., and this seems true of most Central American and South American countries also. But, they did produce a large criminal class due to the regular money from the drug trade.

The United States has been more of a curse than a blessing to Mexico. We've invaded them on at least four official occasions, plus several hundred minor events where our country has invaded la Frontera. We took the most fertile parts-California, New Mexico/Colorado, and Texas east to its present borders, and treated Mexico as a place to send our refugee Indians. It racism, and genocidal racism at its worst. Plus, the US siphoned off any Mexicano with ambition and drive. We are the safety relief valve. Rather than the lid blowing in massive revolution again as it did all through the 19th and first 1/3rd of the 20th century, the best, most educated people moved to the US also. But they did this with the aid and collusion of the Oilgarchy and the US Immigration policies. And if they want to illegaly immigrate, they do it by airplane or automobile. Who our polices are aimed against are the 400 to 500 million poor, barely literate Indians that live between the northern Mexican border and Tierra Del Fuego.
I love Latinos and the kalideoscope of cultures found to our south. We have an English speaking culture with about 300 million people in the US, and another 30 million in Canada. We will be clearly overwhelmed by all the impoverished people if we open our borders, and our borders are broken as Sr. Lou Dobbs has noticed, and now their releif valve is corroded shut. According to Rembrandt, Mexico is our second largest crude supplier, selling us 11% of our liquid fuels. The pipeline bombings show how vulnerable their infrastructure is and we've now got about 10% of our populaion with close family ties to Mexico. I grew up in Houston, which has around a 40% latino population of which 90% is from Mexico. I'm 55, and when i graduated from High School there were about 5% Latinos out of a total population of around 1 million. Now the Mexicans are the largest group in our populatin of about 5.5 million. If there is a revolution, we will be involved in Texas, just as the whole US will be involved, and the ELM model of westexas and khebab's will kick in with a vengence. and the Bob Ebersole

You should read some of the speeches of the Zapatistas at Narco News:


If you go further back in that archive you will find stuff about the radical increase in the cost of living in Mexico that has rendered its minimum wage a joke, about Indians fed up with public schools that seem to only train their kids in how to get jobs in Rio Grande sweatshops and across the border (illegally), about radical decentralization and saving agriculture as a way of life. The Zaps will be smeared as Communists as their movement spreads, but they are far more opposed to big government than socialists are.

The irony is, just as we waged war on the one guy in Iraq who was both a Shiite and opposed to Iranian domination and partition, now in Mexico we are doomed to go to war against the one movement that wants to create sustainable jobs there to keep people from defecting across the border. And the Zapatistas won't be embraced at the Oil Drum either, because they will demand the right to survive on their terms, instead of quietly going off into a dark hole to die so as to leave more resources for your children and mine to play Daniel Boone with.

Now why isn't every house in the southwest built with a badgir

Looks like free air conditioning to me, but instead we spray water on lawns and use the power from the dam providing the water to air condition the house.

That sort of craziness will come to a screeching halt once its out of reach. Perhaps we'll have the social stability to rediscover the old ways ...

I'm still here, and seeing how this wasn't discussed much at all 'of course', I want to point out that KSA has informed their customers that they will increased their shipments to Asian refineries back to 100% of the contractual amount, or roughly 350,000 bpd alone. Pretty incredible for a country that is supposed to be in terminal decline!

they claim they will, and well that means we will wait and see.

also because they are now going to increase the contract. That does not mean that the output is going up. It could mean that someone else is now going to do without, just like they did to the Chinese when they cut their deliveries back.

TIME will tell.

An interesting theory, but one that fails to take into account that KSA only cut back on their exports to Asian refineries.

Yes, and now they say they can have them back.

So we will wait and see if its by production, or its by cutting supply to others to make the Chinese happy.

Oh yes and the chinese pay in dollars don't they.

is that going to make someone else happy,

how much oil in dollars will they need to spend for the increase over time.

Will someone that doesn't pay in dollars take the fall and lose delivery.

all to be revealed as the oil drum turns, and the tap either opens or it doesn't.

THe increase in sa output for end 07 is on account of a project announced around three years ago. It would be scary indeed if sa output did not increase either end 07 or shortly thereafter... may boost crude output to around 9Mb/d (but nowhere near 9.6). IMO the coming increase explains the November 'increase' in opec quota... sa, which is most influential in setting quotas, well understood their inability to halt the decline this year, thereby explaining the 'cut' in qouta 11/06 and 2/07, as well as the temporary arrest of their decline end 07.

IMO sa has been pumping every barrel possible since late 04/early 05, in tandem with every other producer on the planet, ignoring only token cuts. Those who don't believe this must come to terms with their continued statements that 'oil is too high', repeated over and over since early 06 excepting only the brief period at 50/b. If any further proof is necessary, simply consider that they have cut shipments to asia for most of this year, a period when Tapis has been over 80/b almost continuously, and as much as 15 over nymex (current is 96). If price is too high, why not ship them a bit more?

Umm...yes, it was. I've posted articles about that in every DrumBeat for the past three or four days. And we have discussed it.

In regards to the Data Centers being more efficient, I wonder if the author of the article took into account the energy cost of driving your vehicle 'for those who live too far away', the energy cost of maintaining an air-conditioned facility, and the inherent energy cost embedded in the books themselves, such as shipping, printing, binding, proofing, etc. There was another study after all that concluded that the Internet SAVES energy...a LOT of it.


It's bizzare how one group of green thinkers trump the internet for its efficiencies, but another denounces it as the root of all evil :P

Jim Jubak did a piece on the great depression this week.


I'm wondering if it is my imagination, but the great depression seems to be getting a lot of ink lately?

There was also a discussion thread associated with it. Kind of interesting to have all the old timers relate stories from the era. It puts life in perspective.


Could be because the BIS (Bank of International Settlements - the BIG ONE) said:

BIS warns of Great Depression dangers from credit spree in June 2007.


The Bank for International Settlements, the world's most prestigious financial body, has warned that years of loose monetary policy has fuelled a dangerous credit bubble, leaving the global economy more vulnerable to another 1930s-style slump than generally understood.

"Virtually nobody foresaw the Great Depression of the 1930s, or the crises which affected Japan and southeast Asia in the early and late 1990s. In fact, each downturn was preceded by a period of non-inflationary growth exuberant enough to lead many commentators to suggest that a 'new era' had arrived", said the bank.

While the main stream media wants to play this down as the trouble is over. There are those that are slower to disbelieve.

For the record, BIS is usually right, but historically - late in its warnings, as we can already see.

However, this coming depression will be GLOBAL and then aggravated by PO and GW.

The BIS said China may have repeated the disastrous errors made by Japan in the 1980s when Tokyo let rip with excess liquidity.

"The Chinese economy seems to be demonstrating very similar, disquieting symptoms," it said, citing ballooning credit, an asset boom, and "massive investments" in heavy industry.

Some 40pc of China's state-owned enterprises are loss-making, exposing the banking system to likely stress in a downturn.

It said China's growth was "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable", borrowing a line from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao

And, they don't even mention the gambling behavior of the investors in China(driving their markets to absurd levels fuelled by spiralling inflation)

On a separate note, I had a talk with my parents about the depression years (they were fairly young, but at least it was first hand). Definitely puts things is perspective.

Adelaide's water woes.

Apparently the 'crow eaters' as they are known will be able to fill their pools with bottled spring water. Because traditional moneymakers wine and cars (GM, Mitsubishi) are in the doldrums PM Howard has promised corporate welfare like building submarines. Adelaide people won't acknowledge the seriousness of their problems; it's like talking to zonkheads stoned on denial pills.

The State does have a boom industry with the expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium-gold-copper mine. Plans for a 120 megalitre a day (31 mgal) desalination plant are underway to help supply the mine and local towns. The power source could be wind, solar or gas just so long as it's not one of those evil nukes. When you are sleepwalking over a cliff it's good not to stress.

Yesterday we had a note about Atlanta running out of water in ninety days, but now we see Athens, an hour to the east of Atlanta, ready to go dry in sixty days:



Hello SacredCowTipper,

I wonder if FEMA is doing a heckuva job preparing for a 'reverse Katrina"; a drought-Nawlins in the SouthEast [SE]?

For example, if the very worst civilizational Liebig Minimum of drastic SE water shortages comes to pass: will FEMA and the military help the Atlantans quickly pack up, move to the abandoned housing in Detroit, then quickly rehabilitate the Detroit infrastructure and housing? It does make sense for FEMA to have a prepared migration plan to reduce violence, and regentrify living near the huge Great Lakes.

The military could also protect the SE infrastructure until rains safely restock the lakes and streams. Then the people that want to could re-migrate back south if they desire. Or could the early buildup of US Navy ships provide JIT desalination supplies to extend water resources until the drought is over? This could negate any tendency for survival migration. I have never been to the SE so I have no deep understanding of the geography, weather trends, and infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Or will FEMA royally screw this up? Imagine SE neighborhood fighting over water, imposition of martial law, Halliburton workcamps to prevent haphazard, random and violent northern migration to prevent Great Lakes area Overshoot effects from insufficiently prepared Northern infrastructure in the quickly coming winter months, and the quick rise of Great Lakes Political Secession and Earthmarines determined to keep the SE horde from invading. Recall the Nawlins citizens that were prevented from walking out by the armed police on the freeway overpass.

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

Many years ago I had the pungent pleasure of living through eleven days of city water outage in the largest metro area ever to be so effected - Des Moines, Iowa, July 1993, when the Skunk River topped the levee around the Fleur Drive water plant.


People can, if they must, make do with nothing but a little bottled water for drinking and washing. The adventure goes out of it after about forty eight hours and those who had friends outside the affected area began bathing there. We were too dry to cry with relief when the water system finally came back to life.

The Southeast can survive as is with simple water restrictions. The big sticking point has been the landscaping companies who are already under the gun due to falling housing starts. If they can't water what they install their business instantly dessicates, so to speak. I suspect there is also a curb appeal issue for the gobs of houses on the market - a dry, brown lawn would not inspire buyer confidence. There is a lot of "act normal" going on around the country these days.

You have a funny writing style and I don't think you're far off on many points in terms of where we'll end up, but I cross my fingers that Cascadia, The Great Lakes Republic, and Vermontistan are a decade away rather than a few seasons ...

Hello TODers,

My recent posting on the Yahoo finance: POT message board:

POT & mission-critical investing

How does your money work?

...I ask a group of people heading off to a march where they bank. While they are marching up and down, their bank deposits will be safely tucked away in the lead banks financing the activities they are protesting. They may not realize where their true �vote� lies but the politicians watching the march do.
Please read the entire link, then consider how POT can be a key stock to leverage the postPeak possibilities.

Imagine if the extractive flow of fertilizers were primarily directed by fundamental postPeak paradigmatic market shifts to those geo-areas seeking relocalized permaculture and/or agri-sustainability. Those areas that were late to adopt this change would quickly find themselves at a financial disadvantage for further fertilizer supplies as the biosolar areas able to create agri-surpluses would still create sufficient civilizational wealth and profit from other activities to outbid them.

In short: postPeak biosolar habitats would be photosynthesis-optimized to profitably leverage the FF-time delay release of NPK's energy-density. As FFs will inevitably shrink continously as we go further postPeak, the FF-passthru effect upon NPK will necessarily by thermodynamic laws further leverage the fertilizer price. Recall my recent World Bank commodity study posting for review.

Those areas lagging by stupidly clinging to the FF-detritovore mindset of the easy-motoring lifestyle, and the 5,000 mile imported banana and Chilean seabass, will find their food choices rapidly shrinking as the nearly instant acceleration in energy prices will far outstrip their ability to secure, stockpile, and hoard the long-time photosynthesis release of NPK to create food surpluses.

Thus, clinging to a FF-optimized, JIT inventory system, optimized for non-accounted wasteful flows creating cascading blowbacks to further drive postPeak detritovore declines, is a recipe for their disaster and the impulse towards a maximum machete' moshpit.

Of course, full credit to Isaac Asimov and his Foundation concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline for speedy transition from one paradigm to the next. Time will tell if the world understands what is truly required from successful and universal Peakoil Outreach.

Consider why the Inuit easily survived, and the early Vikings starved: it was simply altering the mindset to adapt to changing natural conditions. What are you and your family willing to do to avoid the early collection of the Darwin Award? Bought your bicycle and wheelbarrow yet?:


EDIT: to reactivate the last link--oops!

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

Money as debt

If anyone hasnt watched this they should

Bob and OMG

Both the article and the video have alreay been posted at the Finance Round-Up, right here at TOD. If anyone can point out a better bi-weekly finance overview, let us know. Until then, I think that right here at TOD, we have the best one there is.

We promoted Money as Debt numerous times the past year, and will do so again soon, just so people buy copies, instead of downloading it for free. That may sound weird, but it's not really: Money as Debt is the best Christmas present you could give someone this year, and they ain't going to watch it otherwise.

I asked Paul Grignon, the director, about this, and he said the sheer number of views keeps him from withdrawing it from Google/YouTube.

Paul is busy with a sequel, even better as per him. That should be quite something. Money as Debt is nothing short of brilliant, as numerous serious finance websites, and assoretd other candy, have realized.

Bob Shaw, did you see it yet? Do it. You will not regret it.

Hello Ilargi,

Yep, I viewed the video--very good!

OT but part of the fabric of our time:


Seems Mr. Nacchio of Qwest, in the process of trying to save his own skin, has said that NSA was involved in large-scale warrantless eavedropping on US domestic phone calls *before * 9/11/01.

Re: Loving ethanol for the sake of Iowa.

Thank you Leanan for another good laugh. This article is just precious. Guess what. Peak Oil is solved and here is the quote from the article that proves it.

"In fact, there's good evidence that making ethanol requires more petroleum than making gasoline does."

So now we don't need crude oil to make gasoline? Or at least it takes less than to make ethanol. Wonders never cease. Growing corn doesn't produce anything if it is used for ethanol. As the Mogambo Guru would say: "HaHaHa". I watched semi truck after semi truck hauling corn off farms today. Nowhere did I see diesel tankers hauling in diesel.
Each semi holds about 40,000 pounds of corn. And I'm suppose to believe it takes more petroleum than that to turn each semi load into about 2400 gallons of ethanol?

The other hoary old idea mentioned in the article is the fact that ethanol only supplies a small percentage of the current gasoline usage. Of course, but we're past Peak Oil and at some point we can not use gasoline that does not exist. At that time the percentage of supply from ethanol will increase not because the amount of ethanol is greater but because the amount of gasoline is dropping dramatically do to Peak Oil. I guess some people can't think that far ahead. Oh, well.

What is really funny is how ethanol, which is a small percentage of fuel supply, has power to raise food prices more than diesel or gasoline. Ethanol's price has dropped dramatically to about $1.50+ while diesel, gasoline and crude oil have risen with crude touching new highs recently. Yet not a peep of complaint about any effect on food prices despite most food is delivered by diesel trucks. The supply of corn is up dramatically and the price has dropped to about where it was in 1973 at the time on Nixon's sale to Russia. But it is ethanol and corn that is making the price of food go up. Go figure.

Has the ASPO put the slides used during the last conference online yet? If so does someone have a link?

This is a link to the ASPO 6 presentations:



I'm up late doing network software replacement testing at my company (not going well btw)...so...cruising Google for interesting articles while waiting for the techies to fix things....

Found an interesting article that is a wrapup of energy news.

mywesttexas: Small producers may be hard hit by tighter lending standards

- Tightening of lending standards, a result of the domestic credit crisis, is likely to have the greatest impact on smaller oil companies.

Major producers can use their future production as collateral for loans. However, smaller companies with riskier portfolios that don't have the production are susceptible to being hit hardest in the reassessment of risk process.

- Joining the dominant trend, Alaska is now attempting to extract more money from oil and gas producers. Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share plan will boost the tax rate on companies' profits to 25 percent. The oil and gas industries are reportedly looking at a 30 percent reduction in investment if the new oil tax law is enacted.


- In projects across the oil producing states, including Saudi Arabia, production expansion plans are being compromised by a shortage of skilled staff. A large portion of the oil industry's workforce is nearing retirement, and new college grads are inexperienced. The issue highlights the struggles of the traditional producing states to increase capacity.