DrumBeat: November 26, 2007

Cheney: No bailouts, no tax hikes...more oil

So what is Cheney worried about? Oil. Specifically, the prospect of sabotage aimed at disrupting the oil market.

"Clearly the world depends on a global supply of oil, and that will continue to be true for some considerable period of time. Efforts to shut down the flow of oil could conceivably have a significant impact."

Cheney has done more than worry about it. When President Bush's 2008 budget was coming together, with the goal of balancing the budget in five years, Cheney nevertheless insisted on a $947 million line item: a speedup of the flow of crude into the Texas and Louisiana salt caverns housing the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The budget guys pushed back: Can't we wait until crude prices level off? No, the word came back from Cheney, this was urgent. That was all it took. "He doesn't weigh in on a ton of issues," said a person close to those negotiations. "But when he does . . ."

Toreador: Black Sea project shut down due to damage

Shares of Toreador Resources Corp. fell Monday after the Dallas-based energy company said that, over the weekend, production in the South Akcakoca sub-basin project in the Black Sea was shut down by the Turkish national oil company because of damage to the pipeline spur running to the Akkaya platform.

...The likely cause of the damage was a fishing boat, the company said.

Years of living dangerously: the wild, wild world

Weather related disasters are increasing in both frequency and savagery and the expansion of human communities into vulnerable habitats along with the increasingly apparent effects of climate change are to blame. A leading British charity has discovered that there has been a fourfold increase in catastrophes such as the floods that swept through South Asia this year affecting more than 250m people.

In a new report, Oxfam says that from an average of 120 such annual disasters in the early 1980s, there are now as many as 500 every year. It called on governments to take more convincing steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that a consensus of scientists blame for the temperature increases.

Kunstler: Either / Or?

To some extent, the speed and severity of the financial train wreck will occur in a mutually reinforcing relation to what happens in the oil markets. The rise in price is only the mildest symptom of growing instability for the system that allocates the world's most critical resource. Even in the face of "demand destruction," weird changes are occurring in the way that the oil producers do business. The decline in export rates and the new spirit of "oil nationalism" will take center stage now, even if the US economy seizes up. These phenomena will represent a new cycle in world affairs: the global contest for remaining fossil fuel resources.

Sooner rather than later, the next symptom will appear: spot shortages around the US and hoarding behavior. This is what will finally wake the American public out of its long sleepwalk (and Matthew Simmons said this first, by the way) -- when the lines form at the gas stations and the tempers flare and the handguns come out of the glove compartments.

Brent Hits High on Dollar, Tight Fundamentals

Brent crude oil futures climbed to an all-time high Monday morning as continued weakness for the dollar and an underlying tight supply and demand balance offered support.

Crude Oil Futures Decline on Signs OPEC Is Increasing Output

Crude oil fell on signs that OPEC is increasing production to reduce record prices and keep the global economy from slowing.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will probably boost supply 1.1 percent to 31.6 million barrels a day this month, according to preliminary estimates by PetroLogistics Ltd. The producer group agreed in September to raise production by 500,000 barrels a day starting Nov. 1.

``The Petrologistics numbers are showing a good-size build in OPEC output,'' said Tim Evans, an analyst with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. in New York. ``Most of the increase is from Iraq, which is fairly encouraging.''

Pemex: Examining Options as it Seeks to Extinguish Fire

Mexican state oil giant Pemex said it is examining various options as it seeks to extinguish a fire at a well from which crude oil has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for a month, among them tearing down a rig to prevent damage to an adjacent platform and further leaks.

Gas prices to grow in 2008

Turkmenistan announced on Friday that it would raise the gas price for Gazprom by 30%.

The Russian energy giant actually sighed with relief, as it had long expected Ashgabat to raise the prices, and $130 per 1,000 cubic meters is a moderate price for today, considerably lower than the rumored $150. In the end, the news is one more proof that Russia's increase of gas prices for Ukraine is justified.

Carbon price must rise in order to hit emissions target, warns CBI

The report says that prices will need to rise from about €24 per tonne at present on the European emissions trading scheme to between €60 and €90 per tonne.

“The establishment of a reliable long-term price for carbon is vital to pull through new technologies,” Ian Conn, a member of the taskforce and group managing director of BP, said.

Wind-fuelled 'supergrid' offers clean power to Europe 5,000-mile network could cut entire continent's carbon output by a quarter

An audacious proposal to build a 5,000-mile electricity supergrid, stretching from Siberia to Morocco and Egypt to Iceland, would slash Europe's CO2 emissions by a quarter, scientists say.

The horse: Is this the secret weapon to beat global warming?

The French are mounting a transport revolution led by the humble horse, using it in more than 70 towns to pull schoolbuses and to collect refuse.

Nuclear industry may be running out of steam

Rumours of a nuclear power renaissance have been greatly exaggerated. So says an audit of the nuclear power industry released on Wednesday.

The report, commissioned by The Greens, a European parliamentary group, points out that many ageing reactors are due to close before 2030, and that 338 new ones would have to be built just to replace them.

Iran needs nuclear program for its future: Larijani

Iran is in need of its nuclear program for the sake of future, said Iran's former top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.

"Those who refer to Iran's oil and gas resources to prevent Iran's nuclear progress are not far-sighted," he added "we know how much is left from our oil and gas resources; we will face shortage in the future."

PEMEX, Mexican Petroleum: Is Privatization In Store?

One of the issues of greatest importance, yet too the most sensitive, is the possibility of private investment – including foreign investment – in the sacrosanct area of Petroleos Mexicanos, PEMEX, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum conglomerate that came into being following the expropriation of oil and gas in 1938. Always a contentious matter, with fervent sociopolitical opposition from a number of directions, today there may be at least a possibility of opening some areas of involvement related to crude oil and natural gas to private sector participation.

Norway sees no respite to high oil prices

Oil prices will probably remain high for “a while ahead” due to global uncertainty, especially in the Middle East, Norway's Petroleum and Energy Minister Aaslaug Haga told Reuters on Monday.

...She said that Norway's oil output has decreased more than expected over the past years as its North Sea oilfields mature but voiced hope that increased exploration activity could help arrest the trend in the longer-term.

Newcastle Coal Price Reaches Record for Fifth Week

Coal prices at Australia's Newcastle port, a benchmark for supplies in Asia, rose to a record for a fifth week on concern there will be supply shortages as mining companies are advised of capacity restrictions next year.

China: Refined oil prices steady after output increased

Refined oil prices in China have stabilized after the country's major refineries increased production capacity. The unit price for diesel in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality even dropped 10 percent from a week ago.

Tune Out OPEC's Bad Boys

From an economic standpoint, a change in the denomination of oil from the dollar to a basket of currencies or to an alternate single currency like the euro would have a negligible direct effect on global markets, says Dean Baker, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The market for dollars and euros is so deep that enormous transactions between the currencies take place in seconds.

Furthermore, futures markets like the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange trade crude oil in dollars, so oil would retain a strong bond to the U.S. dollar even if OPEC was to distance itself from it.

Kuwait, Mongolia look into oil deal details

Kuwaiti and Mongolian sides are expected to meet together here on Monday evening to probe the details of a memo of understanding on a further oil cooperation between both countries.

Nepal: Petrol Pump Owners in East Stop Buying Fuel from NOC

Owners of petrol pumps based in the eastern region have stopped buying petroleum products from the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) from on Sunday.

Demanding that supply of petroleum products be eased, code of conduct for petroleum sellers and quality control regime be scrapped, they have been staging an agitation since November 18. They have also demanded that petrol pumps be given the sole authority to supply petroleum products to big industries.

Electricity Cuts Spell Impending Humanitarian Disaster, Gazans Cannot Even Properly Bury Their Dead

Israel plans to greatly reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip beginning December 2, according to Jamal Al Dardasawi, spokesman of The Palestinian Electricity Company. Although Israel has given advance notice of its plans, this pre-punishment time will do nothing to alleviate the catastrophic consequences which will ensue, given that borders and firmly shut and Gazans will have no way to prepare and compensate for this vital loss.

OPEC oil exports fall 340,000 bpd in H1 Nov - Lloyds

OPEC seaborne oil exports, excluding Angola, fell 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of November versus the last two weeks of October, crude oil loading data released by Lloyd's Marine Intelligence Unit (LMIU) showed on Monday.

The London-based consultancy said oil shipments from 11 OPEC members, including Iraq, averaged 22.48 million bpd on a moving average basis to Nov. 11, down from 22.82 million bpd for 15-28 October loading.

Oil prices and responding to the strange lack of response

The system we live under is a very sick master on his last legs. To plan on his existence and make some "good money" for a "nest egg" is to bow down to his putrid, merciless form when it's not far from rigor mortis. Meanwhile, his system is taking our lives and the web of life down, for the profit of the few. Almost everyone claims to be helpless to change his or her ways because "bills must be paid." But slashing consumption and keeping purchases local aren't very difficult and wiould deal a final blow to the system, and help save the climate maybe. Oh yeah, the climate we once could count on.

Energy for growth and poverty reduction in developing nations

Because energy is not an inexhaustible resource, the strategies that we as a global community adopt to enhance efficiency of its utilization will have significant impacts on the sustainability of the available resources in the very long term. Even in the case of hydroelectricity, as our lakes and rivers continue to dry up, we can no longer regard this as an inexhaustible resource. The actions we take will determine the energy future of our interdependent world.

Why China’s Bubble Economy Could Go Into Freefall

Bloomberg reports that, “China urged local governments to set up an early warning system to ensure sufficient oil supplies at filling stations, which face shortages across the nation.” China faces chronic energy shortages and the social and political instability those shortages foster with the population.

Do you get the feeling the communists in Beijing are barely keeping the Chinese economy together with bailing wire and duct tape? We don’t mean that China’s growth is a fluke. We mean that the tremendous growth unleashed is beyond the control of a central planner. The inability to maintain a fixed price for fuel is one example.

The heat was on

Re-reading the article I wrote for the November/ December 1988 issue of World Watch was startling- and discouraging.

The article, titled "The Heat Is On," was written just a few months after NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the U.S. Senate, reporting that for the first time there was clear scientific evidence of global warming - and that it was most likely caused by human activity.

I wrote at the time, "Only rarely are public policy turning points so clearly marked. Scientists had accumulated empirical evidence for a phenomenon with the potential to fundamentally alter life on Earth." I devoted much of the remainder of the article to laying out a strategy for dealing with climate change.

Twenty years later, Hansen's testimony still looks like a turning point for climate science, but not the kind of turning point for climate policy that I anticipated. In the years since, there's been a lot of heat-but sadly, not a lot of action.

Small steps, big energy savings

Not all of the potential solutions to climate change are futuristic, expensive or exotic. In fact, most Americans can find one of the most significant carbon-reducing innovations of the last 30 years standing in their kitchens, keeping the butter hard.

U, Met. Council aim to turn algae into fuel

The University and the Metropolitan Council recently partnered to explore whether the large amounts of algae that come through the council's wastewater treatment plants could one day be used as a fuel source for metro buses.

Electric cars roll out

Stanford Law alumnus Miles Rubin has amassed enough money as a lawyer and business leader to retire more than comfortably, but the 78-year-old multi-millionaire has delayed retirement to pursue his dream of changing the world — one automobile at a time.

Oil prices make fresh assault on 100 dollars

Oil prices breached 99 dollars a barrel Monday to stand close to an unprecedented century as traders fretted over tight crude supplies globally, dealers said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, struck as high as 99.11 dollars, not far off its record high of 99.29.

Oil output from Sakhalin-2 suspended for rest of year after severe weather

Oil production at the OAO Gazprom-led Sakhalin-2 project was suspended last week for the rest of the year after severe weather conditions damaged a buoy, the Gazprom venture operating the project said Sunday.

The project normally produces 80,000 barrels a day of oil, but the production has been interrupted earlier than expected, said a spokesman for the venture, Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. Ltd.

Lundin North Sea Oil Platform Remains Shut After Fire

Lundin Petroleum AB, a Swedish oil company, said the 5,000-barrel-a-day Thistle Alpha oil platform in the North Sea remains shut after a fire broke out in a turbine yesterday.

Lundin is looking into the cause of the fire and cannot say when the production of oil, used in the Brent blend, will resume, said Maria Hamilton, head of corporate communications for Lundin.

Iran Eyes Deal Over Kuwait Sea Border Before Year End

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday Tehran hopes to resolve a decades-old dispute with neighboring Kuwait over their maritime border before the end of the year.

"We hope to see an end to the issue before the end of the year," Mottaki told a press a conference when asked about demarcating the sea border which includes the offshore Dorra gas field.

USGS: Arctic Russia Sea Holds 9.3B BBL, 32TCF Unfound Oil, Gas

The Laptev Sea shelf underneath Russia's Arctic waters holds an estimated 9.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent and 32.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in undiscovered resources, the U.S. Geological Survey said Friday.

The USGS is currently reassessing its estimation of the petroleum resource base in the Arctic circle based on new data, region by region.

Kurt Cobb: Peak banana

Very few are willing even to utter the words "peak oil," and when they do, they insist that the world is not near peak as construed by a misguided peak oil movement. Instead, they substitute words such as "plateau." A Chevron vice president has used that word to describe our oil future. And, it is fitting that he used the word at a Cambridge Energy Research Associates-sponsored confab since CERA was the first to coin the phrase. CERA, however, believes a plateau--which they further qualify as an "undulating plateau"--won't occur until the 2030s and then will go on for 20 to 30 years. Any constraints before then, they say, will be due to "above-ground factors."

Legislators want state to plan for oil shortage

A coalition of state lawmakers has issued a report that concludes Connecticut is "completely unprepared" for what experts are forecasting as a sharply constrained supply of oil in the world.

"However, early intervention can and will mitigate the severity of impacts on the state and our people," says the report from the Peak Oil Caucus of the General Assembly.

Energy expert Udall looks to the future

Our peak oil conference in Houston in October was the largest in the world this year. The Wall Street Journal ran a cover article on the topic this week. People are beginning to understand that energy — not the yen, euro or dollar — is the original currency, the source of all wealth. Most of the Houston presenters were Republicans, and the audience included many financial managers. Visit www.theoildrum.com, if you are interested in following the evolving discussion. Global oil production may have already peaked; if not, it will do so in the next four years. This topic is likely to soon dwarf climate change as a matter of public concern.

Renewable energy way forward for poor countries: Germany

Industrial nations should help poorer nations to develop renewable energy from the wind and sun, Germany's environment minister said Monday, days before a conference on the world's response to climate change.

"Prosperity for everyone is possible and it is compatible with the environment," Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with Bild newspaper.

China, France sign climate change pact

Chinese President Hu Jintao and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday oversaw the signing of a bilateral pact on the fight against climate change.

Getting the geothermal ball rolling

If everybody agrees the technology is great, why is nothing being done?

Geo-exchange technology, also known as low-temperature geothermal, provides heating and cooling by taking advantage of constant temperatures two metres or more below the Earth's surface. It's renewable and free of greenhouse gas emissions, and while it requires electricity to operate, it considerably reduces the fossil fuels or power required to operate conventional heating and cooling systems.

"I think we're on to something, and I think it's the way of the future," said Richard Tripodi, vice-president of Remington's high-rise division.

It's one thing to talk. It's another to get a shovel and start digging long 6 feet deep trenches all around your back yard --if you have a backyard at all.

Indeed, far better to defer any problem to future generations rather than absorb any inconvenience or cost ourselves.

I re-energized my house last year using German subsidies.
Retooling with a heat pump would have been much too expensive.

But I've been thinking a LOT about heat pump (in this case geo-thermaly supported) technology. Why ain't it the silver bullet we've been looking for?

The only answer I have is that you can't bottle it and sell it to your neighbor. If you use it in your own home, you might "save" money in the long run. But you can't "make" money by producing electicity and putting it back in the grid.

Or does anyone have a way of using a heat pump to create electricity or charge a battery? Sort of a refrigerator in reverse??

Thanks, Dom

If I dig a 6 foot hole in my back yard, or front yard, I hit water.

Excellent. That probably means you have hit the water table. You can use the specific heat properties of water in your water table as a heat sink in the summer and as a heat source in the winter.

My smallish back yard is a 250 million year old coral reef, with about 4 inches of dirt dropped on it by the developer of the neighborhood. Hard to dig in. The HVAC guy I use follows the conventional logic: unless I'm going to live in the house for decades, I should just install oldfashioned air-sink units and leave it to the next owner of the house to fix.

So a geothermal project could go vertical, but I've been told that Austin (and Texas) has some funny environmental rules about withdrawing groundwater. (Edwards Aquifer and all that; apparently San Antonio and the salamanders both have some sort of claim on it) Or even drilling. Also, I don't know anyone with a backhoe, let alone drilling equipment.

So it looks like a little more research will be needed. My own vision for this particular climate was a pile of rocks with a little fountain to keep them wet. Let that be the heat sink for your cooling loop. Looks like I have to move out of the city to build a thing like that, though.

I'm in the midst of getting a geothermal heat pump installed. We're not doing the trench thing. We're going to run the loops vertically.

It's pretty pricey to retrofit an existing home. It is probably going to cost us around 25K USD to do the whole thing. At current energy costs, the payback time is going to be around 15 years. That's a big chunk of change and a long payback time for most people, especially considering that a lot of people don't plan on being in their house in 15 years. For new construction, however, it is a no-brainer.

Of course, "current energy costs" is the operative phrase. I'm actually expecting the thing to pay for itself in 5 years or so.

These costs are screwed up.

Three years ago I installed a Florida brand 4 ton geo-thermal heat pump in my log house. It cost me about $2200 or less for the unit.

The only other cost was to run some 1" PVC from the incoming water line in the basement. I ran the output down a line I had set long ago for gray water...it goes down a holler right behind the house and seeps back down into the aquifer, over time...this feed a creek where springs come out further down..
owever that loghouse has not been sold at auction and I have moved into smaller living quarters here on my land and h
lost of springs off this aquifer(or water bearing strata) all over this area..so the water runs out on the ground and I don't feel that I am drawing down the aquifer(or seam).

I could rather have installed another line back to the wellhead and dumped the output there back into my well.

Rather I intended to later borrow a buddies back hoe and lay my own ground loops..probably at a cost of less than $1,000.

The unit is super efficient and has a lot of builtin safeguards. I also had it loaded with heat strips in case of the well going out. The heat strips never ever come on unless someone pushes the thermostat up more than 4 degrees.

It cools and heats my 4500 sq ft log house fine...the basement not needing any cooling or heating as I find it comfortable just as it is.

Note: The 4500 sq ft includes the basement which is not finished living area.

I do agree that in suburbia that a geothermal is not usually going to work. Not enough space and most on city water hookup. If everyone went to using wellwater in a given area then perhaps they might create problems with the supply unless you dump it back in.

The best solution is to build in a area which has flowing spring creeks which you could dam up and lay coils in that would feed the heat exchanger in the heatpump. Or perhaps a nearby cave. A pond might also work if deep enough. Lay the pipe down in the bottom before you close the dam. The last pond I built only cost me for the dozer work ..about $400 back in the late 80s. If you have the land a box blade and front loader on a good sized tractor could do the job.Say 80 hp diesel or up.


PS. Note that I did all the install work myself. It was not that hard. I have worked on a/c and heatpumps in the past,replacing compressors,pulling vacumn,etc..but this unit was all selfcontained and far far simpler. Running pvc is simple as well...but copper in 8 ga and heavier has gone up tremendously in price...I put it on two circuit breakers..one is 60a and the heat strips on a 50a...

I use an amp-probe to measure the current and in normal run mode I pull about 15 to 20 on each leg. Once the biomass of the wood logs absorb the heat or cool...the environment remains very very stable and the unit runs very infrequently. Not like in a interior made of drywall. I also used nothing but Andersen windows in the house for high energy efficiency.

Wow. I think I may have made a strategic error in my heating.

I'm currently in the process of replacing my oil-fired boiler with a wood-pellet boiler, which will cut my heating bill in half and pay for itself in 6 to 8 years (even) at current prices.

I eliminated the idea of geothermal, because it seemed ill-adapted to retrofitting an old stone farmhouse (low temperature water not suitable for the existing radiators). But I was concentrating on ground-loop systems... and my property is rotten with springs. Including one which runs right under the house and takes my sewage away (more or less... but that's another, unsavoury story).

I will try to understandd more of what you wrote, Airdale, because there is probably something fairly easy and cheap that I can do with a heat pump...

But it will probably wait a year or two, I suspect the tech will be more widely available then.

COOL TUBE - Low-tech Geothermal Option

It can be hard to find much info on it, but my family built a house in the White Mts in Western Maine around 1980, and included a 'Cool Tube' in the design, whereby the 4" PVC Drainpiping that surrounded the foundation a bit below the frost-line (about 50" around here) had a spur added to it that went a ways off (50'?) and emerged as an Air Intake, (with squirrel-screen on it and a j-turn to keep rain out..) while another spur came into the house and up through the slab near the kitchen plumbing lines, so that air drawn in by the house's natural convection was brought up from the winter temps into the 40-45 degree range by it's long travel through the submerged drains before entering the house.
This provided an oxygen-rich air supply at a decent temp, which is very helpful in a home that relies on any kind of combustion-based heating. It also can balance out the negative pressure that draws excessive COLD winter air in any crack, or anytime a door or window is opened, even momentarily.

A small fan can be added to help create a Positive Pressure from the Cool Tube to further defeat any Infiltration. This system also helps in the Summer, bringing nice cool and fresh air into the home, and keeping leaks from allowing the Hot Ambient Air in.. though some systems and warmer regions need to be more careful about condensation and hence, Mold Issues.

I'm eager to try a "Cool Tube" retrofit in my In-town 1850 bldg Basement, where the Heat Exchange will use the stone walls/foundation perimeter to bring up the temps of the frigid winter air..

I've still got more insulation going on right now.. but I'm hoping I can get a roughed in test for this going this winter, as well as the 'Winter Fridge', which is a simple (!?) Heatexchanger using Antifreeze, Propylene Glycol to grab some Winter Cold and Help my fridge stay cool while it lives absurdly inside a house that I'm paying to keep WARM..

Hopeful in the face of multiple Ironies!
Bob Fiske

Excellent work, Bob. Any performance data or other specifics to share would be useful to others.

IMO, GHPs have evolved to compete with traditional HVAC systems, but are still very costly right now in comparison to air-exchange heat pumps or oil and gas heaters and electric A/C.

Nonetheless, a fundamental resource is the near-constant temperature thermal reservoir below 10 ft or so from the surface. More novel designs and work to use this (renewable) resource would have Hugh benefits during the time when FFs become scarce and grossly expensive and the time when solar/wind (or nuclear, regrettably) become the dominant source of energy supply.

Adaptation. It’s in the genes. Well, for some of us.

They might work depending on your climate. but to say they 'compete' is flat out wrong. come back and claim that when one can get one installed for a couple thousand dollars. 27-30k is way too much.

compete means to do what conventional HVAC systems do. I mentioned they are expensive, but on a life-cycle cost basis GHPs and conventional systems are often within 25%, and price competitive for new construction.

I also mentioned they are expensive at the current prices for FFs. The energy savings will tip the cost balance when FF prices double or more.

My point was to suggest with some experimentation, there are likely ways to tap the below-ground thermal reservoir suitable for one's local climate, and bypass the high current costs for closed loop systems. And Bob above was pointing out one.

Why would you expect something that could save you close to $2000 a year (at current energy prices) would have to be "installed for a couple thousand dollars"? Given where energy prices are headed, it is my old electric AC plus heating oil that can't compete with geothermal.

People really need to start taking a longer-range view of things. The days of cheap energy are coming to an end. The cost of doing something about home energy consumption is only going to go up, as is the cost of not doing something.

We're stuck on 'Cheap, Fast, Easy' solutions.. People do keep whining that Alt Energy installations are expensive. Yes, they are, and soon, so will everything be..

My Mom told me about a Music Student with a Russian Teacher, and the student complained that the piece He'd been assigned was hard.. and the teacher excitedly came back with 'Good! Hard is Good!' Words to live by!

Of course, sometimes cheap is good, if you aren't embarrassed by thinking you've been 'cheap'.. Part of the mode of thinking we have to challenge in 'rich-minded' places is that it's not necessarily a form of failure when you economize.. put a patch on your clothes, wear sweaters in a colder house, cook more on Monday and reheat leftovers during the week, grab that half-roll of insulation off the sidewalk trash heap and tighten up your home with it. (you just found $4 on the street!!) Be seen biking where 'normal' people drive.. We have a lot of foolish pride in the way of some of these habit-changes..


what he said...


good comment - i keep trying to break the STBE-wife out of this mindset.... stil she'd prefer to buy new and throw away so that her friends think we're loaded with money instead of flat broke

STBE-wife (?) Sorry, I'm being slow today..

Space Transportation Booster Engine (NASA). That's some wife! ;o)

Soon To Be Ex

Someone had a fancy accountant word for this concept - I said I wanted a wind turbine, they said "not cost effective", I said "very cost effective when its the only source of power". Something [minimum] was the phrase ...

We build datacenters and telco central offices to withstand power outages. I'd like to have a home done to the same standard and I'd like it to be prepped for long periods of standalone time.

Most of you are very wealthy; I can tell because you actually have yards.

The vast majority of Americans are living in barracks-like apartment buildings or rented places and have NO jurisdiction over how things are done.

The result is the energy-saving gadgetry I see in the houses of the wealthy, and the huge energy and water waste I see in the dwellings of the vast majority.

The wealthy will have neato water-shut-off shower heads, the poor will have antiquated tubs with added on showers that are tricky as hell to not get icy-cold or blazing hot, and once set, there's a strong incentive to not mess with the thing - so the water blasts all through the shower. Hell it's even that way here - the owner of this place has a nice easy on/off thing, I just have to blast it. I try to compensate by taking less showers lol.

The wealthy can grow veggies on their lawns, the vast majority of us can't do that, no lawns at all or at best a large shared space, a few pots of veggies may be possible on a patio, but they'll get stolen. So the Safeway or the Supermercado are where we get our veggies, 1000's of transport miles in your salad anyone?

I think it's great that you guys are doing all this neat heat pump stuff, but for the vast majority of Americans, if The Landlord has a heater that runs on whale-oil, that's what you use.

Two-thirds of Americans own rather than rent.

Though I expect that to be changing, perhaps by a lot.

The more cost sensitive are probably corralled in that one third who rent, so the ones most in need are, as always, the ones least capable of making changes for a variety of reasons.

Own with lots or just own? Are condominiums and owned apartments included in that?

I assume that counts condos. But most are single detached (i.e., single family houses). Some census data here.

Also found this map interesting:


The urban areas really pull the home ownership stats down. In the middle of the country, home ownership is 70%, even 75% or more. I would assume there aren't many condos there.

I thought the banks actually own quite a large proportion of the houses ... and that's the problem, because people can't afford the interest payments let alone the capital repayments? ... No?

Just because it is a detached single family home, does not mean there is enough yard for a heat pump, garden, etc. I was wandering through a subdivision under construction a couple of years back, which were eventually put on the market at $700,000. You could, uh, spit out your window and hit your neighbor's house. There might have been enough room to drive a car between them. Maybe.

That's true. But you could put solar panels on the roof, install insulation, insulated windows, energy-efficient appliances, etc., which apartment dwellers can't do.

Those almost new homes may need an energy retrofit with rapidly rising energy prices, I would think someday soon, utility expenses could rival the mortgage payment on poorly insulated homes, at least in winter months.

Anecdotal Evidence
(I doo so love anecdotal - often more real than graphs and charts)


Conversations at the edge of a dying civilisation....

I rang my sister in law tonight while my wife was out (dont read too much into that...) I wanted her opinion of the new CGI film of Beowulf (Crap, but since we had to translate from Anglo Saxon in Eng Lit Classes we both have a dog in the fight.)

Then it went to 'life , the universe and everything' type talk.

They went to Florida for a Holiday at half term. She was excited. LOTS of big properties going cheap, cheaper than last year, and what with the cheap dollar, this was the cheapest holiday they have had for a long time. Cheaper than France, cheaper than Spain.

She said Houses were on the market cheap and the owners even threw in an SUV with the sale.

Let me repeat that:

''and the owners even threw in an SUV with the sale''.

Distress sales.

Big time.

She mentioned the water shortage.

I said dont buy into Florida. (I put her off Spain a couple of years ago).

I said imagine Florida with water rationing and electricity blackouts with no AC.

This girl is no fool. Always on the lookout for the next money maker, she and her husband are an order of magnitude wealthier than me. But she is no fool and a short conversation about Florida turned her from 'buy' to 'walk away from the mess'.

Closer to home: 'how is business?' I asked.

In the space of a two week holiday, she came back to her Northern English , rich, commuter town to find out that 5 of her friend's husbands had been canned. All were in senior positions in Accounting, Marketing and similar.

All within two weeks. All were surprised.

She works as an Estate Agents (Real Estate).

She is good.

She could sell a caveman's cave back to the caveman.

She says ''before I went (to Florida) we were moving a 100 sales a week.''.

''Last week we moved 29''.

Take your partners for the ELP Square-dance.

Hmmm ... I walk into town most days ( it saves petrol and keeps me fit!) on the way I pass loads of houses that are for sale and nothing seems to sell. Or, if it does sell 'subject to contract' it soon comes back on the market 'cos the 'chain' has broken somewhere.

Oh dear! I hope it's just the time of year and sales will pick up again in the spring!

'Best hopes' ... as Alan would say.

'Don't hold your breath' ... as I would say.

i like anecdotal too - usually shot down in the short term and born out in the long

i don't know if anyone else is job hunting right now - it is NOT pretty out there - boards are full of junk-jobs (you know the scam job ads) which basically talk more to the distress of the employer not being able to offer real jobs, and to the number of people who must be looking thereby attracting the outright scammers

this economy is in tatters right now - only denial is holding things back

the old adage about if you are still employed (knock on wood) it's just a recession whereas if you're looking, it's a depression.

FYI, I have a family member in the finance/accounting business that's looking and dittos your observation that it's gotten brutal out there.

Hope you find something soon.

Citigroup looking to layoff 45,000 staffers.

Getting to be time to find a port, maybe any port.

i like anecdotal too - usually shot down in the short term and born out in the long

Do you have any evidence to support that? ;-)

Yes, my experience is that the job situation in natural resources--say forestry-related--has gotten ugly, too. Recently talked with a forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry, and he said that the response to entry-level positions (Technician-level) has been phenomenal in recent months. Not just the huge number of applicants, but also the qualifications of the applicants were unprecedented (qualified for much higher positions). He's been with the ODF for over two decades. I've heard similar comments from people at the Washington Department of Natural Resources, too. Just a couple more anecdotes to add to the rest.


graywulffe in CVO, OR

You shouldn't have put her off Spain. It would have been a better investment than anything she's bought in the US since then. Climate change notwithstanding, Spain will be in a better position than most of the US.

Spain housing is a large pile of animal origin NPK fertilizer in terms of valuations. Can't speak to the climate there, but you said "investment" and its all Florida condos in terms of behavior now :-(

The vast majority of Americans are living in barracks-like apartment buildings or rented places and have NO jurisdiction over how things are done.

Any idea how many are living in the barracks-like holding tanks or apartments and condos? Owned or unowned? How about the suburbs -- Zoning and code, I think, tend to be easier the higher up the feeding chain one goes.

For intellectual interest alone I watched Victoria Beckham on TV house buying and after clinically observing the drop in her décolletage for a bit noticed the house she was looking at had a cement patio with no railing and a very dramatic drop over the edge. No code I know would let that pass without a buck to grease those railings away.

I think fleam has some valid points.

I get the idea our government will do everything in its power to keep most Americans "owning" a home. That wey they know where we are - and where to expect the annual tax remittance.

Knock out our homes and our employment, and its gonna be fun trying to find anyone who owes money.

How difficult for business would it be if we were in a position where we were all "rolling stones - every place we laid our hat was our home"? Credit? Forget it - Barter across the barrel head or no business done. Social Security numbers? Why? The system is bankrupt. If you want me to do this, give me that.

How do you keep the masses in line if you can't threaten to confiscate their stuff - if they don't have any?

Its gonna be hell living in a nation of "housing projects".

I can see a helluva lot of humanity having lifestyles resembling that of feral cats if we crash our economic system.

It has its good side and bad sides.
Good side - No Taxes! No Payments Due!
Bad side - Lots of violence. Few creature comforts.

This is why I feel the FED has no choice but to try to inflate our currency, so we can keep as many people in their homes as possible, even if it means business must again hire the American worker because outsourcing would mean a nasty currency valuation hit.

of course those figures skew high in the age range right? so there are many many 20-30somethings that are in the rent not own space, and those are the ones that really have the most need to be able to do something for the future

Or you are forced to use what you can afford at the time. For example my mother still lives in the house i grew up in but there is no way she can afford to plunk down 23-30k for something that will only save her 2k a YEAR.

Niether can I afford the 25K. They have special payment plans with one of the big banks, below prime rates. But that just puts off the payback time. So it's either pay all now or pay all later. 2 things make putting in a GSHP palatable. The $9K in government grants and the fact that I'm cashing in the rest of my RRSPs. There's 2 ways to look at it. If the market crashes that money will evaporate anyway. If heating costs go through the roof then my RRSP's will be needed to pay for that. So might as well cash it in now for the savings and comfort down the road.

Richard Wakefield

Well Fleam, you're right, and you're wrong.

I am rich, and I am poor. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in-between. Most people own some stuff, but never as much stuff as the 'truly Wealthy'.. we are all paying for energy, and there are at least SOME options for most people to economize and become less dependent on buying fuel, electricity. I was a renter for a long time, and know that there are precious few options. Up here in Maine, more renters are paying their own heat. We have a 3-unit building, and we still provide the Heat/HotWater for the whole building. We have great people in our two apts, and they are watchful about open windows, leaks, etc.. They know that energy is a quickly growing problem, and we've been frank about possibly switching over to everyone covering their own heat, which may give them more reason to look for additional efficiencies.

When I rented in NYC, I started thinking about the 'Winter Fridge' idea, since I did pay my own electricity, and just outside my window there was plenty of cold air that could help make my Fridge cheaper to keep cold. I did do the Compact Fluorescent thing, and was of course a 'Straphanger' and avid pedestrian, which is at least possible in NY. I also grew plants in my back windows, though not foods, and it would have been a pretty minor crop.

Anyway, there are a lot of messages of powerlessness that poison a great many peoples' minds in this country, and so they keep getting into the truck and just trying to get to work on time, whether it's from a rental or their own house and yard. My wife's boss, a nice guy who bikes to work in crazy weather, but comes from what I see as 'The Rich Neighborhoods', he is really excited by my projects and ambitions, and wants to get 'the tour'. He has more resources than we do, but he's inspired that I am taking at least a bit of an initiative to find some original solutions.

I'm already 'converted', I'm a believer in the need and opportunity to enact some changes.. and I have materials to build some projects with, a shop in my dusty/moldy but Rich Basement.. and still it's a real bitch to get as much forward progress as I'd like on these things.

I know you resent the Rich people.. and so do I, and so do they. But frankly, there are people (in small percentages) at all levels who are building things, investing some of their precious money or time, and trying to get the word out.

Bob Fiske

Jokuhl - I know what the stats say, that 2/3 of americans own and have it great, and then I know what I've seen over my lift - most of us in what amounts to holding cells.

Out here where I am is almost decent. Still too close to the big cities, but closer to the ideal. There's a lot more freedom, read God Guts and Guns country, it's great. But I think the true Midwest, places from Youngstown to Flint to so on, is where the real ELP revolution is going to happen.

But one can live "feral" anywhere, all that kept me from "guerrilla gardening" which is just plant stuff here and there, chard and chives and sweet potatoes, etc was that I was too busy all the time in the Bay Area.

We will all be "feral" in the Gov't's eyes if we're bartering, growing stuff, living in houses we build ourselves on land that's paid for, helping each other out, and on paper making very little $$ but living "richly". That's the ideal. I'll take feral, Amish if you like, living over the gov't regulated Oligarch-owned holding pens any time.


You are conflating "owning" with "having it great".

Some of us own ("own"), but barely hang on, and make do without a lot of things simply in order to hang on. I know a lot of people who are, like me, land poor. I will not be installing any fancy heat pumps or photovoltaic panels, I can assure you.

However, I can get my firewood from my woods here. I guess that's pretty nice. Except my back hurts.

So it goes.


As does my back ache once or twice a year, but the heat is dry and warms more than the body. I have a simple no frills wood stove rated 70% efficiency , that's more than I can say about any other way of heating. Other than cleaning the chimney and in a long while replacing a bit of pipe, no need to worry about breakdowns. I can cook an egg on it or do a stew if need be and the ashes and carbon go straight to the garden in spring to grow my food. Heat pumps why bother if you have this better choice. Freedom from want and worry that is real wealth.

For anyone not to old at heart and wishing they weren't living in a holding tank I would suggest living on a boat. Lovely kind of life and with a bit of looking there is a boat for every budget. The first live aboard my wife of a year and I bought was at auction, a 34 ft double ender gill netter for 1200 dollars. It floated but needed work cleaning out fuel tanks, starting the engine a bit of caulking a dab of paint and a bunch of scrounging but all that that only cost labour and we owned that already. My wife and I had never owned a boat before and basically knew nothing about it other than we thought it would be fun, and it was. Much much better than the half a duplex we had been renting.

At 65 I think it might be fun to live that life again, there will be plenty of fine sailboats cheaply available soon, especially if we really hit an economic meltdown which is looking more possibly every day.

Feral lifestyle eh? I like that way of looking at it as that's what boat life is. Feral with capitals and bells on! Too bad I have a garden with fruit trees and nice things like that to tie me down.

The idea of living on a boat sounds very interesting, indeed! One of my brothers did it for a couple of years.

I've been heating with wood for many years, and love the kind of heat it puts out, and being able to cook on it, etc. Well worth a bit of soreness - I can say that now that my woodshed is full :-)

And the ashes are indeed good on the garden (in moderation - it can be overdone, especially for potatoes which like it a bit acid). I, too, have growing things tieing me down - not least of which is my love of my place. But I've got a horse, sheep, chickens, dogs, etc., as well.

But we're pretty feral around here...

I lived on a Tri for a while, but in a tropical environment.
I soon abandoned the idea, tore down a old house boat, restored a abandoned house in the jungle with a few comrades. Spear fished for barter, and a bit of cash.
I came home one day and one of my woman friends had installed human skull candle holders, left over remains from WWII.
We used kerosene for light and fuel.
Electricity was not a option.
Water from rainwater off the roof.
I guess you could consider that feral.
I now live in Mill Valley with a medium house rate value at 1.25 million.
I am renting.
But, the boat thing is a option, and the market will be good.
Sausalito is within walking distance, which is the home of the outlaw house boat.

i like the idea of living on a boat - but again costs come into play... they aren't cheap...

On the other hand, renters have the option of relocating closer to their places of employment, maybe even within walking or bike distance. Lots of homeowners are going to be locked in with unsellable homes.

You can at least use draft dogs to seal off your exterior doors, and make yourself removable insulating shutters for all the windows. That is very cheap and will save you a little. It is probably OK to change out the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, too.

Look around for a community garden. If there is none, talk to your county extension office - maybe some people in your area have been trying to start one. Another option: Look for homeowners in the area that have lawns without gardens that might be interested in some sort of sharecropping arrangements. Given the way food prices are going, I would bet that there are some elderly people on fixed incomes that are too feeble to start their own gardens but would be thrilled to let someone younger grow a garden on their land in exchange for some of the produce. Just work out something like a lease arrangement in writing so they can't cheat you once you've done all the hard work. This is a golden opportunity, yet hardly anyone is taking advantage of it.

Hey, at least whale oil is a renewable resource!

not if the Japanese and Norwegians have their way

Your living in the wrong part of the country.

You need to trek on out to the real outback..say Ozark Mountains...do a Google Earth on it..check out the national park areas..find the clear running spring fed streams. Find the population density.

Check it out. Why starve in a city? The fur bearing animals are not in the city. The ones that can be harvested for jerky and loin meat are not in the city. There is very little available firewood in the cities. The minimum wage is the same in a small nearby town. Cost of living is cheaper. A small 250 cc motorcycle will do for a vehicle. Cold in the winter but what the heck..we are talking surivival.

Rednecks? yes...learn to be a redneck, die your hair red and learn to dip snuff. Get some chickens and get with the program instead of grousing about whatifs!!! yes you will likely have to give up the internet.So?

Airdale-guineas make good watchdogs and eat well also.
A good meanass dog helps too. Dig a root cellar. and so on and so forth

Airdale that's largely what I'm doing right now.

Right next to national land. Watching 12 doves outside the window, yeah I've looked up dove recipes hehe. Not the fertile Ozarks but a lot more life out here than you'd think. Good well and running water not far away.

Plenty of firewood here. Chickens are next door hehe, I love that rooster! I haven't sprung chickens on the boss around here yet but give me time, I plan to be a regular farmin' fool as much as I can.

"The ocean is a desert with its life underground" this place is like a dry version of the ocean off the coast of Punaluu, Hawaii, the similarities are amazing. No real reason to starve, not really. Crasshoppers are our version of mole crabs, sparrows the counterpart of hinalea lauwili, doves and pigeons good stand-ins I get for weke moana, my all time favorite fish. Even kind of looks the same, so that I often imagine myself floating over the land while walking on it.

I'd rather raise guinea pigs than chickens but I'm not picky, I'm convinced squab is tasty too.

Rednecks, hell, you should see the truck I drive around in lol. Since I have the 250cc motorcycle now the khaki cargos have to go and Wranglers are in. Last pair I got were 50 cents, just have to hem 'em is all.

We don't need a meanass dog so much, my hearing's almost as good and I shoot better than most dogs lol.

No snuff for me, fortunately we're knee deep on Mormons so straightedge is cool.

No need to lose the net, computers along with everything else is cheap out here, I even have wireless highspeed due to some neighbor.

Yeah I'll keep the net for now, too many guitar lessons and such on there.

So on and so forth, I AM getting with the program!

And thanks for the thoughtful post.

Fleam, Glad to hear it..your doing good then.

Get a nice trade for the future. Say leathercraft or making pottery or shearing sheep or whatever.

Go find an oldtimer who does it and apprentice out part time to him..

I am guessing Utah then?

Good flowing water nearby is a Godsend.
Friable soil is great to have.
Chickens in the pot. Can't beat it.
Guitar is good but I prefer my banjo.


Yes Airdale you are right on Utah - part of Utah is kept in N. Arizona and that's where I am.

Banjo's cool, right now I have a guitar so that's what I have to work with. I could consider going into making picks and various guitar parts, do stuff like that which would be fun.

But losing my small biz, I dunno, I really feel uneasy learning something that can be taken away from me. Playing guitar OK, but anything that takes tools and a workshop can be, and I assume will be, taken away.

There were a lot of survivors who came out of Nazi Germany who didn't even have their own clothes on their backs, they had those ugly stripy uniforms and that was it. But we (the US) got a whole generation of cartoonists, entertainers, etc. when the ones with highly portable skills like that came here.

(And not with the US's blessing generally either - just as right now we're putting Saddam's enemies in Gitmo and keeping them there.)

You have to have a skill that will still work even if you do, and you will, lose EVERYTHING.

I love southern Utah. The coyotes are quite noisy at exit 204 on I-70 so I hold out until the ranch road at exit 108, then I throw down my ridge rest, my sleeping bag, and I enjoy the show overhead :-)


Good luck on making it in the music world. I've been around that scene for more than 30 years and even the really good guitar players have trouble making a living at it. It's said that some of the best guitar players in Nashville are the ones out on the street looking for spare change. Or, as the old saying in the music business goes; "Don't give up your day job".

Note of interest: I picked a bit last weekend with some professional Bluegrass folks. I can't begin to keep up with those guys, even though I've been trying to learn since high school. It ain't easy and one must contend with the occupational hazards of alcoholism and drug addiction. Worse, many of the best players are already at a professional level by the time they finish high school. For example, here's a kid that's already done a couple of CD's:


E. Swanson

Because your looking at it in the wrong angle. the average person will not be able to put up the up front 23-30+k cost of installing one even if it will save them money in the long run. for them it will be cheaper monitary wise to put up with the year on year incresse in costs of home heating while tring to converve what they can.

Unless the alternitive is at the same cost if not cheaper then what they have you are not going to get many people to get it even if it is much more efficent. It's like telling someone driving a junker and complaining about gas prices to go out and buy a tesla roadster.


The first thing you have to know is DIY. Do It Yourself.

The contractors will bill you hugely. Yet the work is not that hard...You will have to cut in your old return sheetmetal duct ,which for me was just a sizing intermediate step with me getting a HVAC supply house to fab a new one with some
additional flex around the sides...and its very easy to do sheetmetal work on ducts.

I didn't have to alter the output ductwork at all. The install of the HP itself was not beyond the ability of any doityourselfer...who has a few handtools.

Wiring it in was a tad more work but I had capacity in my inside control panel to use one of the old circuit breakers and add one more new one..costs about $30 apiece and about $80 for the copper wiring.

About $40 for new PVC piping. I put pads under the bottom of the cabinet. Cabinet was about 2 ft x 2 ft in size and about 4 feet high..mostly for the fan.

My unit has switchable fan speeds and other controls. I wired up a new programmable thermostat..it has to be a 4 stage unit..to allow the heat strips to kick in if need be.
Then one stage for cooling. I got it at the supply house where I knew the manager anyway.

No charging of freon..its all self contained. I already had access to an outside gray water drain (DWV-is the type I had and it was about 3 inches in diameter..

The well already had a 1 hp pump and a 100 gallon tank..you can't get by with a 20 or 30 gallon tank.

But if I was doing it over I would put in a set of ground loop coils and then have a backup and could switch to either the well or the ground loop or else redig a new line to the well to dump the output back down the well..probably the best and cheapest idea except that the current draw by the well pump will add to the cost of heating and cooling and i hate to run a wellpump any more than necessary but mine has been running fine for all this time...

It was an easy refit since I already had a very old split unit heat pump from when I built the house.

The new heatpump had a nice 'scroll' compressor which beats the older style compressors easily. Supposed to be very longlived and much more efficient.

The secret is again DIY. Of course I built the loghouse and even did the dirt work myself so I was not afraid to tackle anything. And no codes to bother with where I live. Here you can do all your own electrical work on your own house..but for some ..like outside on the load center and setting new meters..you must get a small inspection so the electric utility is happy.


Forgot to add..you want a flow control out the outside dump line right at the output of the inside heatpump..this allows you to adjust the gpm rate and it also handles the startup and shutdown flow of water. What you don't want is the rest of the plumbing to suffer each time the heatpump kicks on.

I had a 1 inch supply coming in an a hefty well and had no problems with that. If you use a well then you need to know your gpm rating of the wellpump.

With ground loops ..just a small inline pump.

... so if I installed a heat pump from ground water, and retro-fitted an air duct system to the house (that would be fun/hell to do), the heating system would sit idle most of the time... sounds good to me.

The house has never needed cooling, however (except in the euro heat wave of 2003, which may turn out to be an annual event, so...)

This is a timely discussion for me, because I have been looking into this. I am guessing that heat exchange with water is crucial, correct? I spoke with someone who thought you just ran the pipes into the ground, but I couldn't see you getting much heat transfer that way.

But sometimes I wonder if it might not be more cost effective to just build a house that is half buried. For those of you have a basement in a warm-weather location, does the basement stay cool when it is hot outside? Or does the heat end up saturating the basement as well? I am trying to think of a cooling solution in a warm-weather climate that does not involve air conditioning.


This was a 2,000 square foot demonstration project, built for about $120 per square foot, excluding land costs. Estimated total utility costs year round are estimated, at current prices, to be about $50 per month.

Humidity control is a key issue. And tolerance for more temperature swings that typical today.

Think 95 F outside temperature, 83 F dewpoint after a shower the night before, and inside temperature of 80 F.

Each climate & area has it's own optimum solution.

The surface are of a long pipe is surprisingly large.

Best Hopes for Engineers :-)


Water needed? No, not correct. And if you've got to go vertical because of limited land, the best situation is to be sitting on solid rock since drilling costs are lower.

We live in a continental climate zone: hot, often muggy, summers, cold winters. In the past before I superinsulated the house, we would run the forced air system drawing cool air from the basement and circulate it through the main and second floors of our house. Our basement stays in the 58 degree F. range year round, though if it was not so well insulated, it would drop to a lower temperature in the winter.

Water table & humidity are key factors.

Google solar chimneys and if you decide on AC check out http://www.coolerado.com/.

I live in a place with hot humid summers (Kansas City). The basement is cooler in the summer than the outside air. Not cold enough to refrigerate food, but cool enough to exist in. With the addition of a dehumidifier (while we still have electricity), the basement is quite pleasant. Before airconditioning became common our neighbor with the dehumifier in the basement was the most popular kid on the block in the summer time. Conversely, the basement is quite a bit warmer than air temperature in the winter.

Or does the heat end up saturating the basement as well?

In New Orleans, the "humidity" ends up saturating our "basements' (AKA swimming pools). That is why we "bury" our dead aboveground.

Best Hopes,


That is the effect of living in a flood plane.

Rather than fight the water, move to higher ground, or accept living in a swamp is temporary.

I wonder if it might not be more cost effective to just build a house that is half buried.

What others say here about humidity is important. I've built a couple of earth-berm houses in Western NC, US, and they work well in that climate as long as the humidity issue is dealt with by thorough waterproofing and ample summer ventlation.

Earth berming could probably work well in most climates as long as water/humidity issues were worked out, but is better suited to some. The high desert that covers much of the American West IMO would probably be the ideal for either earth-berm or totally underground. The naturally large temperature swings would be moderated by the earth and ground water would not be such an issue.

What others say here about humidity is important.

I always wondered why there were no basements in Oklahoma where I grew up. I guess now I know. But I suppose if you can manage the humidity, a house with a basement and some sleeping quarters would make a good place to escape sweltering summers (and probably could serve as a tornado shelter).

There have been numerous approaches to solving the home heating/cooling problem. Basements tend to add a bit to the cost of a house and in an area with a high water table or frequent flooding, they can be a real problem. If you have a site with a south facing hill, you might consider a totally underground house with passive solar heating on the exposed south wall. When the roof is covered with a meter (3 ft) or more of dirt, the thermal mass effect cuts the heating load considerably and then it's cool in summer. The cost of the walls, reinforced roof and waterproofing might be a bit steep though. The newer systems using insulated concrete walls which result in a thick layer of insulation and an easy to build wall offer many options. I built an 8 foot tall wall section built to hold back a cut into a hill and it appears to be working out well, both structurally and thermally.

Some folks I know built a house built into a cliff with several floor levels. The top floor and roof were above ground. As always, when building a solar house, the design begins with proper site selection. Building a solar heated structure in a city of high rises will be a problem, as continued access to sunlight may not be guaranteed. Good zoning laws which limit structure heights would help, but I doubt we'll see that sort of rational planning until things become really difficult and solar access rights become mandatory.

E. Swanson

The problem is that no one builds to the enviroment anymore using local materials.

Robert, I bet the lack of basements in OK is the same reason they are scarce in Texas... solid rock not too far under the precious think layer of topsoil. I wondered the same thing about why no basements or in-ground pools when I lived in the Texas hill country. I was told by a builder that it was possible but it took a lot of blasting and serious digging equipment that cost much more than anyone wanted to pay. Hell, I even had trouble digging fence posts in the limestone there.

Water isn't necessary to the scheme. My well is 360 feet down, and I don't have a deep standing body of water nearby. Given that, my choices are (1) trenches that go out several hundred feet from the house at a depth of 3 or 4 feet, or (2) several vertical shafts. Either system circulates a refigerant through the "loop" to exchange heat with the ground. Rock isn't as good at heat transfer as water, but water isn't an option.

My basement stays pretty much the same temperature year round (68-70 degrees. It does have a tendency to get humid in the summer, as air with a dew point of 60-70 degrees is pulled in and cooled to near the dew point. I haven't given the matter much thought, but it would be nice to be able to pull drier air into the basement to feed the circulator. I suppose if I sealed the house better in the summer I'd mainly be recirculating air dried by the AC. But I try not to run the AC more than I have to, and I open the house up to keep it cool when I can.

For those of you have a basement in a warm-weather location, does the basement stay cool when it is hot outside?

I live in Northern Italy. Weather is cold in winter and hot in summer
(avg range -10C / +35C). Many old houses have a "cantina", an underground basement. Temperature in the summer stays at about 16/17C if two meter deep. In a deeper one (here considered "good") you get about 13/14C.
People keep salami hanged on the ceiling with strings and also keep there the home-produced wine, in bottles or in stainless steel barrels. It's sort of a natural refrigerator.


Exactly, the upfront cost of a geo system is the major hurdle. We installed a vertical closed-loop system last year, at a cost of $27K; we had two estimates, and they weren't far apart. Several years ago, one could have no doubt had a system installed more cheaply, but energy and raw-materials costs have gone up a lot in the meantime. Plus, we're in the Maryland/suburban Washington, D.C. area, so everything is more expensive here. Another factor in pricing is that there often are only a handful of HVAC firms in a given area that install them.

Open-loop (well-water) systems are a lot less expensive than closed-loop systems, but closed-loop systems are more of a sure thing, so one isn't dependent on the vagaries of the groundwater supply.

Geo systems in suburbia are feasible, but on a typical quarter-acre / 10,000 sq.foot lot (like ours), one is pretty much limited to vertical closed-loop systems. Local jurisdictions also have siting restrictions on the location of the ground-loop wells: in Montgomery County (Md.), they have to be 30 feet from the house, 10 feet from the property line, and 10 feet from any buried utility lines.

I'm expecting the system to pay for itself in about ten years -- but it could be sooner, since what we replaced was a 32-year-old oil furnace.

Several years ago, one could have no doubt had a system installed more cheaply, but energy and raw-materials costs have gone up a lot in the meantime.

law of receding horizons?

I'm in the midst of getting a geothermal heat pump installed. We're not doing the trench thing. We're going to run the loops vertically.

Which system? I'm getting a WaterFurnace system put in.

I think verticle is the logical way to go. It's what I'm doing next year. Putting in the verticle loops. It doesn't draw up groundwater (that's a no-no here, damn bylaws). But it sends glycol down in PVC piping. The cost is $25K and most of that cost is in the drilling 6 holes 200 ft down. Having a good water table is the best as it speeds recovery time of the coils.

Luckily here in Canada I also qualify for $9000 in provincial and federal grants. Nice!

Richard Wakefield

Our system has a single 600-foot well, a vertical closed loop with the Environol thermal-transfer fluid.

$9000 in Canadian government grants??? Wow -- that is really generous. Uncle Sam only gives out a chintzy $300 tax credit, ditto a similar tax credit with the state of Maryland. Maryland also has a $1000 geo system grant program, which we got, but I understand there's a limit to the number of grants they give out... Maybe Maryland should become a Canadian province...

It should become mandatory for anyone putting in a reasonably deep well at new construction. I put in a closed loop geothermal heat pump which pulls water out of the bottom of my well and dumps it back into the top (the well has to be deep enough for the water to re-absorb from the surrounding earth the heat extracted by the heat pump). But the system only exceeded the bid for a propane heating system by 25% and provides A/C (for which I hadn't requested a bid for a regular A/C system) so the actual cost was probably lower than an equivalent propane, oil, or electric system.

I'm skeptical that ground-source heat pumps (GHPs) are any more efficient than modern hydronic heating. Clearly they are more efficient than electric resistance heating. And you get both heating and air conditioning with a GHP, unlike a hydronic heating system. If air conditioning is a big part of your heating and cooling needs, then I think a GHP is an attractive option.

But for the article to say "it's renewable and free of greenhouse gas emissions" is false because the electricity required to run the systems is not insignificant. Also keep in mind that about 2/3 of the energy content of the fuels used to generate electricity is lost in transmission from power station to consumer. Further, some systems have electric resistance heating elements to supplement the heat pump when it can't keep up.

Matt Simmons likes to say that natural gas has been misunderstood, and that the single best use of natural gas is to create heat. I think a natural-gas-fired hydronic heating system ought to compare quite favorably to a GHP. But, I don't have any data to back up that assertion.

For me, Step 1 is to get the GHP installed. Step 2 is to get the PV panels necessary to power it. I had intended to do both at the same time, but the costs are much higher than I expected. The tanking US dollar isn't helping either.

What I decided to do was install the GHP and a solar hot water heater now and wait a year or two to do the PV panel. The solar water heater was the best bang for the buck of anything we looked at. I do like to use AC in the summer. It gets very warm and humid where I live, which will only get worse as climate change chugs along. The GHP seemed the best option (short of rebuilding the house from the ground up) to get eco-friendly AC.

Carefull with the powering of the GSHP with batteries rechanged with PV. I specifically asked about that to the guy who came to spec out the house for the GSHP. He said the compressor motors draw too much power on their start up and could burn out the batteries. Check your specs on the compressors first.

Richard Wakefield

Umm, aren't the ground source heatpumps hydronic ? At least they are over here...

My 9kW unit is connected to a 650' (200m) deep well (closed loop) and heats water for use in underfloor heating and radiators, in addition to making all the hot water we use.

Cost for the well, pump and connectors/pipes was $21k (115k NOK) and since I did all the work myself except the well-boring, that was the total cost for replacing the old oil-fired boiler.

Payback is ~10 years with todays prices.

BTW, for a horisontal loop system here, one doesn't dig more than 3-5' down. You want to be deep enough to avoid freezing temps, but no deeper. This means 3' in southern Norway and 5' in the northern parts. Pipe spacing is normally 1m (3.3').

Umm, aren't the ground source heatpumps hydronic?

The basic systems, as I've seen them described here and here, are forced hot air using standard ductwork.

Ok, quite different from what's common on this side of the atlantic then. Here is a description of the common scandinavian system:


Very interesting system. I think the reason U.S. systems are based on forced air is so you can use the same distribution system for both heating and air conditioning (Americans love air conditioning!).

I suspect air conditioning is not a primary concern in the Northern European countries. Given that, a hydronic distribution system seems like the best way to go.

I think I prefer the hydronic system for several reasons:

- Warm, tiled concrete floors in the winter. Aaahh...:)
- No noise. I hate the sound of ventilation systems :(
- The heat pump makes all the hot water that's needed. It's not possible to use up the hot water by showering.

Yes, in the U.S., the manufacturers of ground-source heat pumps (Waterfurnace, Econar, etc.) have to design their units for the potentially huge retrofit market -- most houses built in the last 40 years or so have ducts for central forced-air systems. An ethanol-based thermal transfer fluid (Environol) is used in the closed-loop systems.


The best approach would be a roof top solar thermal collector and installing radiant heat flooring. Radiant heat floors works better at cooler water temperatures. Baseboard requires much hotter water temperatures to function and, ducted air requires heavy duty blowers to force the air (unless perhaps if you live in a very small home). Solar collectors could be backed up with a wood stove or natural gas/propane (in loop with your radiant heat floors). A fancy Solar thermal collection system could include thermal storage system (ie Paraffin phase change cycle or even a low cost tank filled with gravel and water). This would store excess heat during the day and pull it out of storage during the evening.

Ground loop systems are more practical for summer cooling, than winter heating (especially way up north). of course, If you expect to have electricity (off grid), good old fans work fine for cooling. It wasn't until after WW2 that people started using air conditioning. Some how humans managed to live without AC for thousands of years. I think we can do without AC in the future.

FWIW: I would be concerned with frequent blackouts and brownouts in the future, the price of Natural gas will soar (~20% for US electrical generation) as the remaining domestic supply depletes, or if electrical demand increases (ie everyone installing electric heat pumps) that over stress the grid. A solar thermal system, using low power ciculation pumps that could be powered using off-grid power (or even storing grid power in batteries to ride out blackouts). This would probably be more reliable in my opinion. It could also become too expensive to run the heat pump if electricity prices soar and you have no job because of a energy crunch, or just a plain old recession.

Finally the best investment is to make sure your home is adquitely insulated and sealed. I would start here first before upgrading any HVAC equipment (less costly!). Installation can be a DIY project. Replace, repair door jams so they fit tight, Add insulation in the attic. Get blown-in insulation or expanding foam insulation in your walls. Wrap Domestic hot water pipes where accessable. Replace your windows with more energy efficient windows if they aren't up to snuff. Alternative is to use the plastic shrink window wrap and/or heavy draps.

A few years ago I made press fit window frames using some square molding and I covered them with the plastic shrink wrap. I put them in the windows when it gets too cold and store them in a closet during the warm season. This saves me having to redo them every year. I also have the plastic on both sides of the frame (works like an extra double pane window). This has significantly reduced thermal loses and I believe I spent less then $250 on the materials. I don't plan to stay where I current live so it wasn't worth investing money replacing windows and I don't own (I rent).

You are confusing the heat provider (electricity-fed heat pump, or natural gas, or whatever) with the means of spreading it around (forced air, circulated water or steam, etc.) Mix and match.

Beyond that, with a ground-source heat pump, you can get 3-4 units of heat for every unit of electricity supplied -- that means 3-4 times as efficient as simple resistive heating (which is 100% efficient at converting electricity alone into heat). Even given the losses in generating electricity from natural gas and transmitting it (and two thirds is not lost by this), it is much more efficient to heat with this than with a natural gas furnace. Just pricey upfront.

Ok, I guess water/air heat pumps is used in the US then. I've never heard of one here, they are all either air/air, air/water or water/water. But then again, nearly no-one here heats houses by using central air ventilation.

BTW, my well is used for cooling in the summer too. The closed-loop liquid (1/3 bioethanol, 2/3 water) is just circulated through two fan convectors. One downstair in the ceiling of the living room and one on the wall of the bedroom. 5kW of cooling power from 250W of power draw (one circulation pump and two fan motors). The heat pump is not used for cooling, just for heating.

You are confusing the heat provider (electricity-fed heat pump, or natural gas, or whatever) with the means of spreading it around (forced air, circulated water or steam, etc.)

You're right, I sort of mixed the heat source and heat distribution modes together. The proper comparison should be a GHP vs. natural gas heat source feeding the same type of heat distribution system (e.g. hydronic vs. forced hot air). However, if you want to get both heating and air conditioning from a GHP, then the most cost-effective distribution mode is via forced air ductwork.

Even given the losses in generating electricity from natural gas and transmitting it (and two thirds is not lost by this)

Do you have a reference for the efficiency of electricity generation and distribution? EIA's Annual Energy Review, 2006, Section 8 - Electricity (PDF), Diagram 5 on page 3, shows that 41.27 Quads of energy were consumed to produce 13.03 Quads of electricity available for end use, an overall efficiency of 31.6%.

Here is something on transmission losses:


Energy losses in the U.S. T&D system were 7.2% in 1995, accounting for 2.5 quads of primary energy and 36.5 MtC. Losses are divided such that about 60% are from lines and 40% are from transformers (most of which are for distribution).

Of course, it will be more or less than 7% depending on the distance between you and the generating plant. If we assume 60% efficiency for converting natural gas energy into electricity, then we are left with 58% of the original energy embedded in the gas left by the time it gets to your wall socket. But if we get even twice the energy back as heat, which is possible even with air-source heat pumps at moderate temperatures, you are better off from an energy utilization (and overall CO2 emission) standpoint with a heat pump than using the highest efficiency gas boiler out there.

If we assume 60% efficiency for converting natural gas energy into electricity, then we are left with 58% of the original energy embedded in the gas left by the time it gets to your wall socket.

I think 58% is way too high and that less than 1/3 of the original embodied energy gets to the wall socket - see the Annual Energy Report (PDF) I referenced upthread. The fundamental reason is that your assumption of 60% conversion efficiency is too high according to the AER. 14.56 Quads of "gross" electricity were generated from 41.27 Quads consumed to generate it. This corresponds to a conversion efficiency of 35.3% - well under 60%. Discounting this further by "plant use" and transmission and distribution losses yields the overall efficiency figure of 31.6% I mentioned previously.

But even with my 31.6% fuel-to-socket electrical generation efficiency number, it does look like you can do better with a GHP than a good gas boiler. Even so, it's not enough of an improvement to consider switching from a decent gas-fired system (I have steam, which is probably worst case for a conversion). The capital costs are just too high, not to mention the retrofitting hassles. I would certainly look into it for new construction.

The 60% is slightly too high for these purposes, unless the utility has LOTS of hydro so they can run combined cycle NG at constant load.

60% is too low if there is a use for the waste heat (district heating, chemical process heat).

Add BOP uses (minor for NG, significant for coal & nuke), 55% or 56% or so for modern (best case) combined cycle NG as it exits the plant switchyard at high voltage.

The global #s are too low because nuke operates at low temps & pressures (for safety & other reasons) and coal is not much better. Average in those two (although there is no other economic value for nuclear heat except to make electricity) an your system efficiency falls.

So, in an NG to NG comparison, Ground loop heat pumps look good *IF* they use modern plants.

I need to find some modern ground temperature vs.COP curves, because I remember some steep dropoffs as ground temperatures rose.

Best Hopes,


A rough proxy for overall electricity generation efficiency is the relative cost of electricity and natural gas. In my neck of the woods, suburban Boston, electricity costs about 3.3 times as much as natural gas per unit of energy coming into the house (since electricity and natural gas are measured and sold in different units, you must normalize one or the other; 1 therm = 29.31 kilowatt-hours). I don't know how this compares with the rest of the country, but in my view this makes electricity expensive and natural gas cheap.

What is "BOP?"

Sorry, Balance of Plant. Pumps, transformers to the lights in the Administration office.

Electricity delivered from a utility is a poor model of energy costs, especially marginal costs. Half coal nationwide (unsure of MA), some nuke, hydro (small local + HydroQuebec in MA) thrown in, plus NG. Add cost of grid and billing (true for NG as well).

I still like the three halves solution. Enough ground loop heat pump for summer a/c + high efficiency NG furnace + NG wall mount (no electricity required) + base level (say 50 F) wood.

On cool but not bitterly cold days, chose the cheapest one. And any two on the coldest days for comfort, or one for survival in case of outages.

Best Hopes for Good Insulation,


In Massachusetts there is a strong correlation between natural gas prices and electricity rates. The generation mix is 38% natural gas, 24% oil, 14% nuclear, 10% hydro, 9% coal, and the balance from other sources. "The bigger significance of New England's dependence on gas is that the way the market is designed, a plant powered by natural gas sets the market price most of the time" (citations from Boston Globe, Study hints power rates to stay high).

In theory, I like the idea of diversity of energy sources, as per your three halves solution. Unfortunately, the capital costs of such a setup are prohibitive for all but a few. For most, reduction in conditioned (heated of A/C'd) space per person, air sealing, and insulation are the best bets.

The capital cost may not be as bad as you anticipate.

(Remember I am from New Orleans and a "record freeze" is 25 F/-5 C and it snows once every 40 years)

Small, high efficiency stove with outside combustion air -Perhaps $2,000 installed.

Small (say 40 or 60 K BTU) high AFUE natural gas furnace with heat pump evaporator on top - $4,000 installed

Add a small natural gas wall mounted unit to one side +$400

Small (say 36 K BTU) ground loop heat pump installed (easier to do horizontal loop with small, and horizontal can be cheaper) - $6 to $8,000 installed.

From vague memory, these were some quotes for Peabody MA a couple of years ago.

Smaller is cheaper (spend $ on insulation & windows, save $ on equipment).

Best Hopes,


COP for ground heat pumps are typically in the range of 5-9, meaning you put in x watts of electricity to move X*[5,6,7,8,9] watts of heat into or out of the house. The basic measure to look at with the GHP is COP, depending on if you are heating or cooling the home the GHP will help or hinder you. (minus if you are moving heat out of the house, and plus if you are heating the house) When looking at FF based furnaces the cost is simply:

You are probably better of insulating up to R60 or better (R90) for saving money, it would cost like 1000-2000$ and would cut the heating bill in half (ROI typically <1 year) as well as reducing wear on furnace/GHP machinery.

Remember folks, you can't move cold, only heat. Thats why they are called heat pumps. (and also why the entropy arrow always points forwards)

We need a new word for silly eco-toys like Alan's "gadget-bahn." The two easy steps to heating a home cheaply are 1) heat less square footage (and no high ceilings), and 2) better insulation.

A 550 square foot house with R-49 walls and R-65 roof would be very easy to heat!

If you've already got a place, then think of making it more like the smaller/well insulated ideal. For example, we did two things: 1) don't use the downstairs in winter, and leave the thermostat at 50 deg, and 2) put in some additional attic insulation to bring it up to R-48. Total cost: $2100. Result -- heating oil usage cut in half. Of course, this is partly because the house is too big to begin with, so we can stop using more than half of it at will. However, even in a more crowded house -- like the uninsulated 1825 farmhouse I lived in in VT, where it gets to -25F sometimes -- the routine was basically the same. We had one small living room/kitchen area with a woodstove, and everything else was left at 50F.

There are some other cheap, easy things to do, like adding insulated curtains. These are about R-8, which is much better than the R-1 or R-2 of typical windows, and fairly cheap too.

I've suggested superinsulating a single room before, for example a living/kitchen area. This could be heated with a woodstove or even an oil-fired radiator. Adding insulation to walls is rather labor intensive and problematic. A quick and dirty version might be to simply paint on a layer of Thermoshield reflective paint. This looks more or less like normal paint, but contains borosilicate spheres which reflect infrared energy, somewhat like aluminum foil. I've heard this paint can be equivalent to R-14 or so.

Matt Simmons likes to say that natural gas has been misunderstood, and that the single best use of natural gas is to create heat. I think a natural-gas-fired hydronic heating system ought to compare quite favorably to a GHP. But, I don't have any data to back up that assertion.

The fella who came here to show us the system showed a chart that explains the heating, power wise, with different methods compared to GSHP. I don't recall the specific difference but it was around the 50% mark. That is GSHP's used 50% less energy to heat the home than NG. Of course the payback will depend on how much NG you normally use in a winter. The colder the climate the sooner the payback as the installation cost is the same regardless how severe your winters are.

Cooling was much higher than a normal AC unit, around 75% savings. The problem with conventional AC units is that it has to pump heat from the house to outside hot air. So it has to work harder to pump that heat. With GSHP it bearly has to do much work at all to cool your home.

The issue is also that NG is in depletion mode in NA. Within 5 years well output could easily be half. NG is not at option any more.

Richard Wakefield

The issue is also that NG is in depletion mode in NA. Within 5 years well output could easily be half. NG is not at option any more.

In that case, in my state, Massachusetts, we're in trouble either way because 38% of our electricity is generated via natural gas (see upthread post). Also in my state, electricity costs 3.3 times natural gas per unit of energy coming into my house. So a 50% energy savings for GSHP isn't going to help me (perhaps that 50% you were shown was cost savings instead of energy savings). However, DOE's EERE website says GSHP coefficients of performance go as high as about 5, which would translate into a lot more than 50% in energy savings.

If I were a heavy user of air conditioning and was considering installing central A/C, I would definitely price out a GSHP because of its clear superiority for cooling. But I don't use much A/C so it is not a pressing issue.

What became of the idea of using the deep waters of Lake Ontario to create a cooling water system as a replacement for AC in the downtown area?

It's up and running. Some details here:


It isn't just the quantity of energy, but also the form and/or quality, the ability of it to be delivered consistantly (a.k.a. the flows), and the ability to make use of it to satisfy needs.

Example -- The energy in food is much more valueable than the energy in oil... for someone that is starving. The need determines the value of the energy.

Instead, they substitute words such as "plateau." A Chevron vice president has used that word to describe our oil future. And, it is fitting that he used the word at a Cambridge Energy Research Associates-sponsored confab since CERA was the first to coin the phrase.

Ouch. A plateau was described in a TOD feature article in April 2006, I believe CERA press release on plateau was in Nov 2006. The term plateau in the context of flat production was widely used at peakoil.com in 2004, if not earlier. Also the possibility of a bumpy plateau was discussed.

Even if CERA came up with the concept independently, I don't think they were first.

Edit: found this quote from 2004:

[Jean] Laherrère hesitates to predict a date, partly because he doesn't trust oil-producing nations' public statements about their reserves. In the near term, he expects to see not a peak, but a "bumpy plateau" in world oil production…” – The Eugene Register Guard, Sept. 27, 2004

If CERA had looked into PO research, which they claim to have done, they would likely have come across Laherrere.

I thought it was a Simmonsism.

PDF Dated May 2003 page 23 is titled "Implications Of Oil And Gas Production Plateau"

I don't remember CERA using it until maybe late 2005 / early 2006ish?


Good find!

I think Colin Campbell also predicted back in 1995 there could be a production plateau, but I can't find any firm references. Either way, it's fair to say the concept was well known in the PO community, well before CERA made it theirs.

It's classic consulting though, clients pay $1000 for secondhand advice they could have got free from the source.

A consultant is a man that borrows your watch to tell you the time.

And then keeps your watch.

Amen to that!

During the 1970s I was with one of the well-known think-tanks, and I will say flat out that in no small measure the role of a management consultant is less that of a bestower of knowledge and insight, but rather more as a validator of what the people paying you want to hear.

Very often someone in an organization has a particular agenda that he is trying to advance. When he makes the argument himself, it can lack authority. But if he pays a presitgious consultant company to do a study that validates his agenda, then his arguments have now been validated by 'international experts'.

Of course, the findings, more often than not, conform to (or at least do not directly contradict) what the client wanted to hear in the first place. While I worked there, I often commented that we weren't running a consulting company, but rather a massage parlor.

"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, an I'll tell what his 'pinions' is." Mark Twain

You've just described why operations like CERA get paid big bucks to tell people with big bucks things that aren't true but are what they want to hear.

To give some props to Colin Campbell, he talks about a plateau quite a lot, he also refers to it being bumpy. Here is one of several such quotes from a talk in 2000:

High oil prices can be expected to cause world oil demand to stay on a plateau until around 2010
The intervening plateau is likely to be anything but flat as it will be a time of tension and volatility.
-- March 2000

the imminent peak of global oil production

In the near term, he expects to see not a peak, but a "bumpy plateau" in world oil production…

[ :-) ] Might we see somewhere a discussion of the technical differences between a 'bumpy plateau' and an 'undulating plateau'? [ /:-) ]

A google image search proves comprehensively that undulating plateaus are the greener option!

Undulating vs Bumpy

Bumpiests are therefore just evil cornucopians who want to use the plateau rather than live in harmony with it.

Tapis was at $100.10 at around 11:00 AM CET.


Now still at $99.90.

I checked and found this article from TOD ANZ


Apparently on 7th Nov. it also hit $100.

Yes, some varieties of oil have already hit $100. It's NYMEX we're watching.

Peak Oil isn't the only problem raising in prominence in the MSM these days:

Biofuel and diet sow seeds of farm crunch

Malthus may have been right after all, though two centuries early and a crank. Mankind is outrunning its food supplies. Hunger - if not yet famine - is a looming danger for a long list of countries that are both poor and heavily reliant on farm imports, according to the Food Outlook of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The farm crunch has been creeping up on the world for 20 years. Food output has risen at 1.3pc a year: the number of mouths at 1.35pc...

...The world's grocery bill has jumped 21pc this year to $745bn (£355bn), hence the food riots ripping through West Africa, Morocco, Yemen, Bengal, and Indonesia.

Three people were killed this month in China at a cooking oil stampede in Chongqing. Mexico has imposed a ceiling on corn prices to quell a tortilla revolt.

Russia has re-imposed a Soviet price freeze on bread, eggs, cheese, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil until January. Russian bread prices have doubled this year. Global wheat prices have surged from $375 a bushel to $826 since mid-2006

The era of cheap food is over. As the developing world gets priced out of the market for modern energy, it also gets priced out of the market for food.

It's purely a matter of population growth vs. the ability to expand agricultural production as well as economic incentives to do so. Fundamental limits of agricultural expansion, e.g. viable irrigation, play a role. High energy prices don't just encourage biofuel production, they make all of mechanized agriculture more expensive.

Err. . . wheat went from $3.75 to $8.26 a bushel.

Sad to think of how life is going to be for those billions living on $2 a day or less. I think systemic famine will occur in the huge 3rd world cities, while those poor in the countryside will at least have acces to food.

And here I thought we were getting price quotes from the future...

Food is still super-de-ooper-pooper cheap. Adjusting for currency devaluation, the 1910 price of wheat was about $40, or five times today's price. Indeed, that was about the average for the entire 1900-1970 period.

If there is any sort of real and persistent shortage of grains at all, I think it would be very reasonable that the price of the grains returns to its 1900-1970 average.

Malthus was not a crank. His research was early and, for the time and means available to him, his results were very good. To call him a crank because he could not forsee the great leaps ag production would make is akin to accuse him of not having a good enough crystal ball.

"great leaps ag production" - which are mostly just the techniques for converting fossil fuels into food. This is not something that can be maintained anyway.

Not the point, Twilight! The point is that Malthus could not forsee great leaps in ag production. Malthus lived in the time of whale oil, not natural gas conversion to fertilizer and FF to pesticides.

basically malthus existed at a time too far down the bionomial curve of population growth, or the logistic curve of energy extraction if you will.

No, I was agreeing with you. He did not foresee the use of FF to temporarily increase food production, but that does not mean his conclusion was wrong - just delayed a bit.

Malthus lived during a time when it was live sustainably or die.

The exact time, Reality, the end of the oil party will dump us into.


To call him a crank because he could not foresee the great leaps ag production would make is akin to accuse him of not having a good enough crystal ball.

I don't know about crank, but virtually everyone who tries to predict the future makes assumptions about certain trends continuing, when the overwhelming evidence is that trends change. Therefore I would call such predictions foolish, at least. If someone insists that a trend will continue without admitting it could vary in the future, I would call them a crank.

Now, if Malthus had argued that as population grows and people start to go hungry, they don't like starving, so they will find ways to increase food production, then I would be impressed.

It is also known that some animals voluntarily restrict their birth rate, so it would not be unreasonable to assume that humans would do the same.

As it is, Malthus is one of many futurists who gamble on an assumption and get it wrong. This reveals a fundamental flaw in the method, it's not a question of being right but unlucky in the timing.

Anyone with half a brain could see that Malthus would be
proved right, the only matter for debate was the timing.

The inability of otherwise intelligent people to equate cause and effect continues to be a source of wonderment
to me, although this is probably a defence mechanism to
avoid facing unpleasant facts.

Once adverse consequences become too obvious to be denied,
just watch the attempts of CERA and others to try and
dissociate themselves from their previous optimistic claims.

In the 1950's Great Britain produced a large proportion of
the World's motorcycles (it may have been as high as 85%
IIRC), and I well remember the derision I experienced when
I forecast the demise of the British manufacturers at the
hands of the Japanese- "too flash; engines rev too much and
will burn-out in a year or so; electric starters are for
cissy's; etc,etc".
The rest is history (ditto the British car industry), but
you will not meet anybody now who will admit to having been

(Please excuse the rather eratic layout of my posts, but
they always appear ok when I preview them. How can I avoid
this happening?).

Don't use "hard returns." That is, don't hit "enter" to end sentences. Just keep typing. Save the hard returns to end paragraphs.

Mr Toad - If by "The World" you mean the US like most here do, you are right. However, Honda was making a TON of bikes, which came onto the US er, I mean, the World, market in a rush in the 1960s.

On an er, let's say Earth, level, it's hard to say. Lots of bikes made to British patterns for the home market in India and so on, but Honda was still making more I think on an Earth level.

One of the largest newspapers in The Netherlands, De Telegraaf, has an article today listing ten reasons for high gas prices. Number three reads:

"Bovendien raken de nieuwe olievelden buiten de OPEC-landen over hun productiepiek. Dit betekent dat ze steeds minder olie op zullen gaan leveren. Rusland is bijvoorbeeld momenteel wel een grote gas en olie-exporteur maar heeft slechts een betrekkelijk kleine olievoorraad achter de hand. Ook de Noordzeeolie, van superieure kwaliteit, heeft niet het eeuwige leven en is inmiddels over zijn productiepiek. "

"Also new oilfields outside of OPEC countries are going over their production peak. This means that they will deliver less and less oil. Russia for instance is a large oil and gas exporter at the moment, but it has a relative small reserve of oil. North Sea oil as well, which is of superior quality, does not have eternal live and has already passed is production peak."

This newspaper is usually complaining loudly about the unreasonable amount of taxes on gasoline in Holland, but this article actually has some sound arguments. It also mentions lack of refinery capacity for heavier crudes in Europe. So slowly but surely the peak oil message is making it's way into mainstream media.

On the other hand, if you read the comments for that article ...

The comments are typical for that newspaper. But they did bring the message, and this paper was about the last I expected to do so in the Dutch press. Now whether their readers actually want to understand it is another matter entirely.

If they wanted their readers to understand, they would have wrote it in English.

How many of their readers would expend the energy to read an article in English? It's a Dutch paper..

Yeah, I guess so..

Some comments lately make it unclear just how ridiculous a statement needs to be to trigger the 'Benefit of the Doubt' meter..

ASPOlogies, Robert.

(That was actually a typo, but I figured the PO Gods were involved, so I left it..)


Modern Dutch Kids do English better than Modern English Kids. (believe me, its true).

And French.

And German.

They do Dutch as a complex, esoteric hobby :-)

All 10 points are valid and have been mentioned here at TOD repeatedly.

Actually, this newspaper quoted Rembrandt last year, about PO

Edit:if anyone thinks this is going to make any difference, I'll gladly refer you to Cherenkov's, Matts', memmels', totoneillas' or Darwinians comments.

All PO sites are quoting Kunstler, but nobody quotes this:"the lines form at the gas stations and the tempers flare and the handguns come out of the glove compartments"

Why not?

I read the Bloombeg story earlier than the story listed above about Chinese fuels. It seems subsidizing fuel prices in China for end customers is just begging the refineries in China to stop selling as they can't make a profit. Maybe eliminating all those subsidies and bringing prices everwhere to global market prices and then even throwing a tax on top like in high tax Europe could cool demand and give us a few years time with other solutions. Of ocurse if they just get used to the high prices and use the time to build more cars and highways, well that's stupid and that is all that would happen.


I liked Amory Lovin Zero Energy House and about the 5% per year more efficient refrigerators saving on all 1/3of nuclear power plants. Trouble is we have used that energy for stand-by and loading mobile phone sets, etc. They don't mention that in the article.

Cheap energy/electricity is like heroin. Once you're hooked only death can free you.

The problem with efficiency gains is that all the gain goes to fuel economic growth, which then eliminates the gains. Trying to solve either PO or AGW through efficiency gains is doomed to fail.

Well the gains still exist for those people experiencing them.

But the primary point stands about oil.

AGW can be solved when externalities are solved, ie never. There are ways to fix it, but no one really entertains the ideas in the americas with a serious listen.

>...all the gain goes to fuel economic growth

No. Efficiency gains do not result in economic growth in all cases (e.g., declining oil supplies). Rather, they will tend to produce better economic conditions than if those gains are not made, and relatively more prosperity per unit of pollution. The greater the economic prosperity, the more likely we will be able to shift to cleaner energy supplies, and the less likely we will be to cut forests and burn coal dirty in desperation. Is that really so bad? I am mystified that some people here have such a strong and apparently unqualified anti-efficiency stance.

I don't believe I have an anti-efficiency stance. For example, I work hard to improve the efficiency of my personal energy consumption. I think the apparent hostility to efficiency comes from a reaction to techno-optimists who believe that efficiency will solve the problem. It won't, at least not unless it is coupled with sustainability.

I also disagree with your response in general. In America at least, when people save money from efficiencies, they just turn around and spend the money, fueling economic growth. I think you'd be hard pressed to come up with a single example where efficiency resulted in lowered consumption. That just isn't the way we do it in the US.

The problems we are facing (PO, AGW, fresh water, etc) are caused by unconstrained (till now) growth. It is imperative to halt growth and get to sustainability. If we do that, efficiencies can do a lot to raise the standard of living. But if the efficiencies are "eaten up" by growth, then we will hit the Malthusian die off sooner and from a greater height. And yes, that really is that bad.

All comments above noted, one needs to look carefully at how, for example, efficiency vs GDP is measured. Is it energy intensity? We have reduced our manufacturing base significantly, and lived since on borrowed time and money. So our energy intensity has gone down with manufacturing, and GDP up with our new 'home equity', allowing us to borrow till tomorrow.

I think you'd be hard pressed to come up with a single example where efficiency resulted in lowered consumption.

If increasing efficiency does not fully offset oil decline, which it undoubtedly won't, then it will not yield economic growth, but rather more palatable economic decline. Increased efficiency certainly will not result in more global oil consumption during supply decline. How could it?

During periods of stable or increasing supply, then yes, efficiency promotes growth and *may* promote more resource usage. But see wikiped under "Jevons Paradox" for more information and more counter-arguments to your position.

The reason efficiency is a problem is that we are a consumer society, there is a large disparity in the distribution of wealth, and we are generally not very good at husbanding our resources.

Change our consumer culture, have few enough people in the world to all have access to adequate resources and develop our husbanding techniques, and I think increased efficiency would be fabulous - but until then it just exacerbates our problems on so many fronts (including the BAU mentality). I'm guessing that's why Shargash thinks efficiency needs to be coupled with sustainability.


The reason efficiency is a problem is that we are a consumer society, there is a large disparity in the distribution of wealth, and we are generally not very good at husbanding our resources.

I don't follow your causal reasoning here...

Causality?.Think efficient resource use helping sustain a huge growth in global population for a start. That population then demands more. Efficiency hasn't kept pace with demand - if it had we would be using less resources globally each year, not more.

The Wiki article you mention says that some people raise Jevons Paradox to argue that energy conservation is futile, but I say it is often not beneficial given our expansionist culture, the fact there are too many people on the planet who want/need increased living standards, and corporates with a strong lobbying arm that helps push for increased use of our natural resources for profit.

Further that article says as points against this:
"First, in the context of a mature technology such as oil, increased efficiency usually reduces use of the resource, as the associated increase in demand for the good or service produced is small"

This is incorrect. Despite efficiency gains in the last decades the demand for oil (and other fossil fuels) has increased.

"Second, even if increased efficiency does not reduce the total amount of resources used, this ignores the additional benefits associated with increased efficiency and increased use"

This does not appear to be correct in view of resource management. Increased use and efficiency of fossil fuels has helped sustain a blossoming population and economy and hence demand for more fossil fuel use.

"Third, since oil is a diminishing resource its price will tend to rise. As such, the use of oil will decrease despite increased efficiencies. Fourth, increased efficiency will slow the rise in oil prices, thus reducing the problems created by peak oil."

Three is self evident. Resource A is running out, therefore we will use less of it - it says nothing of the benefit or not of efficiency in this case.

Four is actually trying to make the case for three, but may actually exacerbate the problem of peak oil if it keeps the BAU model going too long, and reduces the urgency of mitigation strategies.

It's late - just some initial thoughts on reading that article anywho...


Here's where I think the Jevons' paradox falls down I think...

...where there is no more possibility of economic growth - as many here fear - then efficiency gains don't go into general economic consumption... they instead add value by helping people survive longer with fewer resources

surviving longer may be bad as it keeps more people clamouring for the same resources - but it may also slow the crash and maximize the survival rate

That's why we need to get the government to promote our old friend tobacco! Smoking shortens lives, which may be what the planet needs. So go ahead and light up! It's good for the planet and may help with the overall survival of humanity. It looks like unfiltered Camels are the eco-friendly way to go... Oil on the other hand is more like the old Viceroy slogan "I'd rather fight than switch!"

it still puzzles me as to why people don't get jevon's paradox. it's very simple to understand. a increass in the cost of enegry for the indivigual causes people to conserve and aquire more efficent versions of their devices. when enough people do this the situation will look like the crisses was solved because their cost's will go down. when this happens they go back to pre-crisses mode but with more efficent devices they end up using these same devices more.

Another part that surpises me is that people have already gone through this cycle once before with automobiles.

A good solution to this is to keep the prices high in step with effecency gains.

Now playing on the Diane Rehm Show:


10:00Oil Production Forecasts

Some industry experts are forecasting global oil production to plateau by 2012. We'll talk about oil supply and demand forecasts and their implications for both global security and climate change.

Matt Simmons, chair, Simmons & Co International, a specialized energy investment banking firm and author of "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy"

David Kirsch, manager, market intelligence service, PFC Energy, an energy consulting firm

Larry Chorn, chief economist, Platts, an energy and commodities information division of McGraw-Hill

Mike Toman, director, environment, energy, and economic development program at the RAND Corporation

thanks for the tip - i went and listened to this online after i saw your posting

it was okay - i thought it illustrative of my reasons for pessimism that the loudest voice was the almost breathless rant of the guy trying to convince us it was all untrue and a big scam so that Simmons & Co. could make money

Housing woes have domino effect

So far, the turmoil may feel a bit remote for average people: Failed mortgage lenders. Gargantuan write-downs by banks. Foreclosures for people who couldn't really afford the mortgages they got.

What about the rest of us? Are we in danger? No one knows for sure, but quite likely, yes.

And more reason to pare debt:

Discover Financial has jacked up the rate it charges to risky new credit card customers and has raised late fees for all customers. Some banks are likely to consider raising fees or rates on credit cards — one of their most profitable products — because they're under "that much more pressure" in an uncertain economy to recoup mortgage losses, says Edward Woods, senior analyst at Celent, a market research firm.

That means that even those with pristine credit aren't likely to escape the spreading credit crisis. Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com, says he's seeing more credit card issuers shrinking consumers' credit lines.

"They try to lower it typically where it's within $100 or $200 of your balance," Arnold says. "If you're revolving a balance, you're vulnerable. Just because you have a good credit score, you're not out of the woods."

'What about the rest of us? Are we in danger? No one knows for sure but, quite likely, yes.' Goldman Sachs is robbing Peter to pay Paul. How long do you think this scheme will work? All Goldman is doing is what many multiple credit card holders are doing, shifting debt from one card to another...But, unlike credit card holders, Goldman has the Treasury and the Fed behind them. If the choice for the Treasury and Fed is to rescue Wall St or Main St, who do you think will get the life line?


'Nov 27, 2007

Page 1 of 5
PART 1: Banks as vulture investors
Henry C K Liu

Vulture restructuring is a purging cure for a malignant debt cancer. The reckoning of systemic debt presents regulators with a choice of facing the cancer frontally and honestly by excising the invasive malignancy immediately or let it metastasize through the entire financial system over the painful course of several quarters or even years and decades by feeding it with more dilapidating debt.

But the strategy of being your own vulture started with Goldman Sachs, the star Wall Street firm known for its prowess in alternative asset management, producing spectacular profits by manipulating debt coming and going amid unfathomable market anomalies and contradictions during years of liquidity boom.'

Speaking of CC debt,mortgage debt and then automobile debt.

I would ask some questions then of what one might do.

First..if you have a mortgage and don't pay or fall behind then they can take your property..its a secured debt.

Second..if you have a automobile/vehicle debt they can take/reposess the vehicle since its collateral secures the debt and has a lien.

Third.. credit card debt is unsecured..the most they can do IMO is give you a bad credit rating..or possibly court actions but doubtful.

So...If I had a vehicle that had no outstanding loan then I should take a loan on it and pay off the mortage if possible.
Since the vehicle will be toast when the gas is way too expensive.

I would prefer to own my residence/land outright since I need that to live on..unless its going to be doomersville in the burbs...but I live in the country on acreage.

And lastly I shouldn't worry too much about CC debt..and in fact might run it up somewhat when the end is truly in sight.

But beyond all else I should strive to own outright good(or bad just so it works) land where one could sustain their life. All else seems to me to be going away anyway. Who will come after you for a vehicle when they are mostly all toast anyway when TSHTF?

And who could care less about CC debt when the mail isn't even running ..given the SHHTF already?

So number one...get some usable land...put up a shack ala Thoreau. Leave no forwarding address. Pay cash for the land. Scrounge the stuff for the shack. Get a good axe or two. Learn to trap animals..and all that other silliness that goes with living in the future.

Where is my logic flawed? This is a fast crash scenario..with a slooowww and soft landing then all bets are off...but planning ahead for the hard crash that will come after the soft landing seems to make good sense to me.

In the end all efforts to relocate to a viable environment seems the wisest choice to make.

I own my land and dwelling outright. I own my vehicle outright. I do have CC debt. I am not worried about what happens in the future. I have more plans to make yet.

My skillset is blacksmithing. No coal...I will make my own charcoal with a retort,build my own bellows(no electric). I have lots of woodland. I have lots of junk steel. I am thinking of taking a loan out on the vehicle and paying off the CC anyway. Its cheaper that way also. And when it all starts coming apart?

The Fleams are starting to realize the imperatives to survival. IMO. Anyway thanks to Fleam for reporting reality here on TOD. Its coming down just like I thought it would.

I propose slowly at first..as we see now....then suddenly fast crash ,when the yuppies finally wake up and panic and get out of denial mode.

Right now there are some very excellent websites on how develop some of these skillsets and bootstrap your way up. I am burning that data on CDs and can at least run my laptop on a PV panel for the future. Later I might print it off as well.

Here is a website indicative of what I mean.


but where can one buy a reasonable chunk of land for small money - not a facetious question - real question - where is good to buy land

i have a family of four - i am a fast-hard-crash realist (doomer)

i have few assets after the last few years (long uninteresting story but it was quite a slide)

the way i look at it realistically that means a good few acres... now I think one can always find ways to rustle up a few k here and a few k there... i even have some others that would probably go in - but it wouldn't be a lot...

... i hear further up North in California is cheap - but then is it viable? i don't know

in a bit of paralysis mode here


For anyone considering living off the land I would recommend checking out "Acres USA". I discovered these folks about 15 years ago and they know what goes on with regard to soils, animal husbandry, making a living on a few acres. If you are buying land for growing purposes, take soil samples and have them tested by a quality lab that will explain the results.


This house is between Ruthven and Ayrshire, Iowa. It sold for $10k this year and appears to need only a good insulating to make it seriously livable. I am sure furnace is old, well water is an issue as there are feed lots in the area and its near a lake. I didn't dig very far since it was already sold but there looked to be two acres of ground associated with it.


The house coordinates are roughly 43 05' 28'' -94 54' 51'' and here is an image of the area with a rough line from memory of what the property lines were:

Picture 2.png

There are homes like this going for prices like this every month around here. I missed one in town with a good sized lot for $7,500 last month ... not that I have any clue how I'd have paid for it, but it was a four bedroom with plenty of room for a garden.

I wonder about this one but it needs more unconditional love that I can provide and someone is going to have to buy it soon, as a winter without heat does wonders for decay. This is a ridge top, much water in the area, but plan on 60' plus of tower to get above surrounding trees for wind power.


This photoset is 95% abandoned farmsteads ... click the map link and you can see where and how dense they are in Iowa. Plenty to go around ... no need to push and shove ... no checks, no credit, and no paper money - we want specie only for these beauties here at SCT's Doomer Retreat World.


Only tongue tip in cheek on this one ... my email is gwbush at dumbfuck dawt org and I'm quite willing to give lessons in speaking bumpkin, explain how to locate and evaluate a property here, etc.

We'll be in Ft Dodge and IA City for Xmas, but prolly not lookin' for a casa. Wife's family is from Jefferson, not so long ago. If you're in those general areas, maybe we can grab a coffee.. I'd walk a mile for a Coffee! (but maybe not in that Iowa winter wind! Give me Maine woods any day!)

Bob Fiske

Fort Dodge is seventy miles from here but business takes me through the area now and again. Drop me a note at the address above and perhaps we'll find a fancy coffee ... before such luxuries are a distant memory.

RE: Oil prices and responding to the strange lack of response

Jan Lundberg reminds us yet again of our problem. Funny, though, that this morning's other posters haven't commented on his devastating analysis. Perhaps the early risers this morning are not aware of his contributions to the world of oil journalism or his breakup with Trudy Lundberg, who still runs Jan's former firm, Lundberg Survey. Trudy is regularly referenced as an expert by the MSM, perhaps because she claims that peak oil is not a factor in high oil prices, etc.

E. Swanson

Was he married to Trilby Lundberg?

I believe Jan and Trilby (not Trudy) are brother and sister respectively. Trilby ended up taking over the Lundberg Survey company which was founded by their father, Dan.

Wow. I had no idea they were related.

Thanksgiving dinner must have been interesting...

Sadly, the family has suffered severe division for other reasons, which Jan has written about.

Heh, don't know what Jan did this year, or even for sure if he was back in San Francisco, but he was at our mostly peak oil people Thanksgiving last year (sister not invited). He and another guy had a guitar, a third had a ukulele, toward the end of the evening we all had a sing-a-long the highlight of which (for me) was our boisterous rendition of "Okie from Muskogee."

Jan and Trilby do not see eye to eye at all. I'd not expect to see them munching drumsticks across any dinner table any time soon.

Playing the guitars and ukes, yeah! That's the future, baby!

Thanks for correcting one of my many errors, Bob. I knew there was a familial relationship, but I didn't know exactly what. And, I managed to mis-spell Trilby's name as well. Sigh!!

It's too bad that Jan didn't get the helm of the family enterprise, but then, maybe his being out of the limelight will prevent his following Daniel Yergin down the path into the embrace of TPTB.

E. Swanson

The article is great and the YouTube video with Lunberg listed at the bottom of the piece great also. Lunberg plays a tune called "Have a Global Warming Day" at the beginning of the video. It was hilarious.

But basically Lunberg tells it like it is. There will no more "business as usual" made possible with alternatives. It will be a totally different world.


Ron Patterson

Nuke to the Future


The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It’s shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.

I am calling NIMBY on this one. I can see some guy on a back hoe that cant read the warning signs printed in English digging into the thing and damaging it...How many homes would have to be evacuated for how long? Of course, FEMA would show up and usher me into a luxurious camper trailer complete with toxic gasses. Oh well, its one way to get rid of the FWOs living in the burbs...

I hate to burst your bubble, but this is /not/ new. it's what powers pionier 10, voyager 1 & 2, casinni.

That is a false statement. This is not the same thing as the Radio Isotope Thermoelectric generators used to power spacecraft.

A quick search on google on what a Radio Isotope Thermoelectric generator is shows otherwise.
Seems that is all this is just on a larger scale then what is needed for space probes.

See GRLCowan's post below.

It's still basicly a rtg because it relys on the heat generated by the uranium hydride to react with the hydrogen gas. but the article doesn't state how it converts the reaction and heat to electricty. the only known way to do it are thermacouples.

What about simply running the hot hydrogen through a boiler like other nuke plants? What is described is a gas cooled reactor that is buried under the rest of the power plant. Gas cooled reactors are meltdown proof, are mechanically simple, and don't need highly trained experts for their operation and maintanence.




It's not an RTG. It's not a gas-cooled reactor. "Hot hydrogen" would be a ridiculous way to move heat around. Hydrogen is not "reacting with" the hydride -- it IS PART OF the hydride. And the fission chain reaction is moderated by how much hydrogen is within the uranium -- and that is moderated by the temperature.




It's not an RTG. It's not a gas-cooled reactor. "Hot hydrogen" would be a ridiculous way to move heat around ...

Good advice. It turns out that the heat transfer fluid is what ever you like -- liquid metal or inert gas -- but not hydrogen.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?

It seems awkward to be circulating hydrogen as a heat transfer gas. But yes, that does seem to be the idea.

I suppose if it's underground there can be inert-gas buffer zones so that leaking hydrogen isn't as immediate a problem as it was, for instance, at the Muskingum River coal plant two or three months back.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?

It seems awkward to be circulating hydrogen as a heat transfer gas. But yes, that does seem to be the idea.

No, that is not the idea.

I hate to burst your bubble, but this is /not/ new. it's what powers pionier 10, voyager 1 & 2, casinni.

Good place for it...

I hate to burst your bubble ...

Then 'TrueKaiser' will be glad to know that what powers the Pioneer, Voyager, and Cassini spacecraft is not controlled fission, but the uncontrolled alpha decay of plutonium-238.

Uranium hydride reactors exist in the form of TRIGA ... or no, I now recall what's hydrided there is zirconium. Some uranium compound is closely enough mixed that when the operator tries to make the thing run away, the hydrogens in the ZrHx get hot right away. This stops the reaction; but for a fraction of a second, it's fast enough to light up the surrounding water. You can find photos of this.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?
http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/boron_blast.html !

Rtg's are the controled use of normal fission. they use the heat generated by natural fission otherwise called 'decay' to generate electricity. That is what this is the only thing differnt is that they are using a differn't fuel. i also highly doubt the 27 megawatts is correct either. the article basicly states they use a reaction of uranium hydride and hydrogen to generate electricity though heat. the no moving parts points to thermocouples.

It's it would be news to nasa that they did not use rtg's for their probes since thats where i found out about them in the first place.

Nobody is disputing that RTGs are used to power space probes.

The difference between RTGs and the thing out of Los Alamos (besides the scale and the fissile isotopes), is that RTGs rely on natural decay alone with no chain reaction. The plutonium isotopes slowly decay, and the energetic particles heat up a thermojunction to produce electricity. If there were a chain reaction, the thing would just blow up, since there is no way to control it.

In contrast, the Hyperion Power contraption uses the thermal properties of hydrogen in UH3 to self-moderate a chain reaction. Read the patent application I refer to below for more information.

27MW thermal output, and while the reactor is bathtubsized, who is going to pay for the containment structure? the cooling? the turbines?

most nuclear reactors are probably no larger than twice the size of my house, it's the rest that is HUGE.

there are no thermopiles in the world capable of moving 27MW of heat to an external radiator at an efficiency good enough for use.

The NASA voyager used the thermal energy of plutonium decay (a couple pds I thought) through a thermopile to power itself.

The bathtub reactor is fission based, a uranium hydride self-moderating reaction which outputs thermal power, which without turbines is only putting out hot air.

If it was producing 27MW of electricity they have pretty much invented magic.

RTG's aren't reactors, and alpha decay isn't whats commonly accepted as fission; Certainly not the neutron initiated fission in power reactors. You're mixing terms that have nothing to do with each other.

Right, this thing is a totally different animal than the nuclear powered spacecraft. The space nukes are a direct thermal to electricity generators. Very inefficient but if all you need is a very small amount of electricity, they work very well.

This thing works exactly like a much large nuclear power plant, it just boils water. The steam produced if forced through a turbine to turn a generator and generate electricity. It is just a very tiny nuclear boiler.

Ron Patterson

This is rather confusing:

"The company Hyperion Power Generation was formed last month to develop the nuclear fission reactor at Los Alamos National Laboratory and take it into the private sector. "

“This whole idea is loony and not worthy of too much attention,” Los Alamos Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello says.

Does LANL have a split personality?

The Los Alamos Study group is not part of LANL.


My bad, I should have spotted that.

It usually works a little better if you first truck it to a site, then encase it in concrete ...

I think we'll continue to see few-tens-of-megawatt reactors in ships, and there will be many more such ships, but stationary nuclear powerplants will get scaled up, not down.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?

There are some deficiencies in the marketing (such as claiming 27 MW will power 25k homes), but this is very interesting.

Uranium hydride (UH3) is similar to many metal hydrides in that hydrogen can freely move through the metal matrix and can coexist with the metal at densities exceeding that of hydrogen in water. Hydrogen binds with the metal atoms but is discharged when you heat it up to a sufficient temperature. If you provide an ambient pressure of hydrogen gas on the outside, an equilibrium is reached.

Hydrogen in the uranium matrix acts as a positive moderator for the neutron flux, thus enhancing fission. Above a certain temperature, hydrogen is displaced and the reaction is suppressed. By sealing the thing up with a known quantity of hydrogen, you effectively limit the maximum temperature for the reaction. Liquid metal heat pipes are use to withdraw heat for electricity generation.

The patent application is a good read, and many of the concerns that will likely be posted here are addressed. On thing that I gather is that this thing works best under a steady load. A step-function increase in temperature (the electricity generator goes out, or the power lines go down, or whatever) causes problems.

Or one Delorean on a trip to the Fifties.

I got a little news on wind energy in Iowa last night which I thought I would share.

There are 252 Zond(Enron) Z-50 turbines installed in Ida, Sac, Cherokee, and Buena Vista counties. These are 750kw units and the word is they are ancient and in poor repair, with perhaps a third of them sitting idle at any given time due to maintenance troubles, primarily with software(!). The Zond founder sold out to Enron halfway through this project and I am told he later went on to start Clipper Wind Turbines.

Here is some info on Iowa wind projects. They mistake which counties have turbines for the Storm Lake I and Storm Lake II projects.


Here is a Google Earth KML file showing the approximate area. I've looked and the turbines aren't visible at this resolution. And yes, the large body of water is Storm Lake.

Now the word is that based on output and reliability issues these two hundred plus Zond turbines could be replaced with a mere forty modern turbines ... like the new Clipper 2.0Mw units.

A turbine is really three parts. The tubular tower lasts pretty much forever unless the generator gearbox slams to a stop and a blade tip impacts it during this process. The blades also last a very long time, although there are large scale projects bringing some models to the ground and installing air foils to change their shape for better efficiency. The "head" is the weak point, with the gearbox eventually wearing out, no matter how well designed.

If there were sufficient transmission lines from the area the output of this farm could quintuple with a simple generating head replacement, reusing towers and refitted turbine blades. The available wind energy here is shut in by above ground issues(!)

I mentioned last week that I was interested in the particulars of soaking up excess turbine generation by hydrolysis and the feeding of the hydrogen and excess electricity into an ammonia plant. We frequently hear from Mr. Totoneila Sir regarding peak NG and the effect the ending of the Haber-Bosch process will have on agriculture. The NG is used specifically to generate hydrogen which is reacted with atmospheric nitrogen under great heat and pressure. Wind and water are the only feedstocks needed for Haber-Bosch; its just a question of when this becomes more economical than the current NG based method.

Assuming my customers leave me alone for a little bit this week I'll get some scratch calculations done regarding just how much ammonia a dedicated 200Mw plant could produce, and then I'll draw a circle centered on storm lake showing the "fertilizer radius" for the wind farm.

A vertically integrated relocalization project could involve turbine upgrades, nitrogen fertilizer production and distribution, and local biodiesel production, leaving us with only climate, water, and the "PK" from NPK with which to contend, and little connection to foreign FF inputs for our agriculture.

Towers designed for 750 kW WTs MIGHT be suitable for 1 MW WTs but not larger IMHO. Likewise the electrical supply.

GE bought Enron which bought Zond. GE is known for seeing maintenance as a MAJOR profit center, so rehab will be an issue.


The turbine blades are themselves a flat wind load and the parameters there are well known. The rotation as well as need to soak up vibration dictate the size and shape of the base which holds the tower. I would suspect that a good deal more dead weight in the ground must be engaged for such a device as opposed to something static like an antenna installation. I wonder how much of the 750kwW to 1mW jump might just be generator efficiency. This is apparently a very complex area based on the discussion I had last night - the turbine outputs are big enough to produce visible transients all over the grid if they're not properly tuned, whereas a home installation 1/100th the size requires much less grooming before it "joins the herd".

Do the makers publish specs on this sort of thing? My gut reaction is a 33% improvement in output and a 33% improvement in reliability don't add up to a $200M capital investment to replace wind turbines wholesale before the above ground issue of GE's involvement is factored in.

Well, it did make a pretty visualization the other day as I was driving through the area.

Zond is dead and gone and unless you can find a catalog (or talk to the owners) stats will be hard to get out of GE IMVHO.

Some critical statistics.

Blade diameter
Tower height & hub support dimensions
Total WT weight (not including tower)
Power curve (nice not critical)

Most WTs have undersized generators (blades hit max output at moderate wind speeds, like 9 m/s and rest of power goes to waste).

New turbines tend to ne more efficient & grid friendly.

Best Hopes,


my gut reaction is to replace the entire setup with 5MW turbines at a cost of 6-7$million each. Old turbines do not take advantage of newer stiffer materials increasing the l/d ratios of the blades. The increasing l/d ratio through primary materials innovation (increasing stiffness) is the method through which windpower has become economical. This is because increasing the radius adds pi*(Ro^2-Ri^2) additional windswept area. And the difference between the areas grows as a power of 2 as you only increase a linear dimension (radius).

It follows that the most economical wind power generator is the one you can make with the greatest radius.(barring material failure)

The same applies for the tower structure itself, and the controlling electronics for pitch and yaw of each individual blade!

In summary, I state 7M$ per 5MW turbine, and if 200M$ is available all 252*750KW = 189MW can be turned into 280MW.
Even a 33% improvement in the original results in roughly an 11% difference in suitability from rejigging verses total replacement.

Power smoothing can be accomplished with gravity based devices(pumped water)/pressure differences(pumped salt caverns)/flywheels/or by burning off excess.

Iowa is not quite pancake flat in the areas with good wind but its pretty close - no pumped storage here :-( There have been some investigations of underground pumped air storage but the fellow I talked to, who does inspections of wind turbines, is not aware of any that have been completed.

Flywheels might work but I am still curious about the hydrogen production for nitrogen fertilizer generation. The plant could run year round, with farmers and co-ops banking the output for the spring and/or fall application time(s).

There is significant value in the existing electrical infrastructure that would be lost with too large an upgrade.

(Often the electrical is oversized a bit, especially back when Cu & Al were cheap).

Likewise the towers in place have significant value (and a 50+ year life expectancy).

New & better blade materials can. and are, used on new 1 MW WTs. Which is why a new 1 MW WT may weigh no more than a old 750 kW WT.

There is some hope that a new 1 MW weighs no more and puts no more dynamic stress on the tower than an old 750 kW WT. And an optimum height for a 750 kw WT is likely an acceptable (if not optimum) height for a 1 MW WT.

Spacing for a wind farm of 0.75 MW WTs is not so different from a wind farm of 1 MW WTs, so the old infrastructure can likely work :-) A wind farm of 5 MW WTs will have completely different spacing.

Iowa has no shortage of WT locations. If it is possible to get a crane capable of erecting a 5 WT to the site, and the local grid can accept 280 MW of wind, then erect a massive new WT farm with 5 MW WTs a couple of miles away.

Best Hopes for Good Economic Choices,


From my days of surveying for and installing radio links - when building a tower the mechanical consideration that is the largest component is wind load. We'd often see two bigs guys and equipment to the tune of six hundred pounds all together on opposite sides of a dinky little Rohn 25 - a 12" triangular lattice type tower. The maximum load in a good, stiff wind? A 2' diameter dish that weighed maybe twenty pounds all together.

Working with stuff in the vertical plane like that is just plain weird, even for those who are used to working with their hands and building things on the ground. It took me a long time to get my head around how a massive collection of tubular metal like a Rohn 65 would only handle a few round load radomes before exceeding its designed limits. I have often wondered if enough calculus brain cells survived my misspent twenties to permit me to complete that two semester engineering statics & dynamics class set required to truly understand such things ... but I don't wonder hard enough to crack the books and find out.

There's something like a Rohn 65 about a quarter mile from here, with a sizeable tribander "stalled" at about 10ft off the ground ...... the running joke around here is, "Gene can't get it up" lol. Wind load may be what's stalled the project, we get some vicious winds around here.

You need to be a certain height above the ground if you want to be able to do ground wave propagation. The magic numbers are 33 feet (1/2 of 20m) and 66 feet (1/2 of 40m). If its hanging partway up the tower that is a different story. At 10 feet or 3m up he could only be doing directly 6m stuff ...

The available wind energy here is shut in by above ground issues(!)

Might some of these above ground issues have been high cost of maintenance/replacement due to high cost of energy? (see 'receding horizons')

The above ground issues for wind generation in Iowa are that we weren't perceived as an energy source - we have great wind, but we lack the transmission line resources to get it out of the state. I very much like envisioning in situ use of this resource for relocalization of light manufacturing in the U.S.

There is also the Birkeland-Eyde process http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkeland-Eyde_process. Norsk Hydro was started because of it, and Mr. Birkeland's picture is on the 200 NOK bills because of that.

Hello TODers,

In regards to Leanan's toplink on the nuke power industry:

This has been discussed before, but I think it bears repeating for the TOD newbies as nuclear plants need humongous amounts of cement for reinforced concrete:

The unheralded polluter: cement industry comes clean on its impact

· Plants release over 5% of carbon dioxide emissions
· Industry sees no chance of green-friendly future
shortened version found at EB here:

Concrete is the second most used product on the planet, after water, and almost half of it is produced in China.
(12 October 2007)
Brilliant article on a neglected subject. -Bart Andersen

Another EB link on cement:


It seems that no matter where we turn: we are increasingly confronting receding horizons for many proposals.

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

tontoneila, I liked your long post on yesterdays thread re: Antartic volcanos. Some scientists believe that the earth was once completely covered with ice and it took volcanic activity to break out of the 'snowball' state. The planet Saturn has a perfectly shaped 5 sided opening at its southern pole that is apparently a permanent feature of the planet...no one has come up with an explanation for the Saturn phenomena. I think that magnetic fields play a much larger part in the climates and volcanic activity of planets than is yet understood...perhaps subtle variations, magnetic pole shifts, etc, play some part in CC. There are certainly much that we dont understand and no amount of math or physics calculation is going to reveal to us what we do not know...unless there happens to be a Newton or Einstein among the readership here.

The feature on Saturn is a hexagon, at the North pole, and it's not an opening, but apart from that it is a remarkable feature. Simple geometric shapes are pretty common in nature, e.g. rafts of bubbles naturally form hexagons and pentagons, so I wouldn't read much into it.

The generally accepted theory for the current series of ice ages (strictly, glacial periods) about every 100,000 years is that they are related to Milankovitch cycles. It's quite possible other factors are involved, but these do not (as far as we know) have such a good match to the observed frequency of the ice ages.

I would be more worried about the supervolcano sitting under Yellowstone park.

"Major eruptions of the Yellowstone hotspot appear to occur roughly every 700,000 years. The Lava Creek Tuff eruption 630,000 years ago was the last major eruption."

Yellowstone, Its always a danger, but experts think the Long Valley Caldera is more dangerous than Yellowstone.

Bob, the feature on Saturn is in no way "normal". It is clouds with wind currents that form a rotating hexagon. Care to point out something similar on earth and explain it. You can make these shapes with liquids rotated at very high speed, and sonic vibrations will produce many different types of geometric patterns. Say putting sand on a horizontal metal plate and watch the patterns form at very high pitched frequencies.

There is a feature on the South Pole also, it is a "hot spot"


The hexagon rotating cloud structure was discovered 15 (or so) years ago, but NASA thought it was just a temporary thing (and after the recent pictures an disclosure of the previous photographs they had not released) they claimed this is why they didn't "mention" it.

If you can explain it, please do.

Tin foil at the ready ;)

"Tin foil at the ready ;)"

Its you saying its normal Bob, and when asked to defend your statement this is your answer.

I thought you knew what caused it by your flippant "nothing to see here" reply to River.

While your at it Bob, explain to me why comet Holmes is behaving in the most unusual manner. Do you have enough tin foil to answer, or do you just like acting like you have the answers.

Hexagon shaped clouds, unpredictable comets - these are normal, natural phenomena, like contrails. I don't see these need any special explanation.

there are several possible explanations for comet Holmes - pretty mundane all of them

Wikipedia has a couple on there you can read - none of it is all that startling

an impact is my guess

The hexagon is a standing wave in the weather of that planet. Similar polygons have been observed when spinning bowls of liquid in the lab. The giant outer planets have weather patterns that can last for centuries (e.g., the Red Spot).

Hello River,

Glad you liked my long post! Here is another interesting link I just found circa 1994:

The strangest volcano-buried under Antarctic ice

...While flying over the ice sheets's western part, 300 miles east of where it meets the sea and forms the Ross Ice Shelf, they noticed a round depression, roughly 160 feet deep and four miles wide.

They immediately suspected an active volcano: only it could melt such a large area of ice. And, as Bell says, "It's so hard to make things on Earth that are round that aren't volcanoes." Using radar to penetrate the ice, the researchers discovered a four-mile-wide, 2,100-foot-high conical mountain. When they measured the mountain's magnetic field, they saw the strong signal characteristic of iron-rich volcanic rock.

Though this is the first volcano found lurking under the ice, the researchers don't think it's the only one. Further radar observations have shown that their volcano is sitting in the middle of a 14-mile-wide, shallow-rimmed caldera--a huge volcanic crater. And satellite images have revealed other circular depressions, at least one of which has a volcano's magnetic signature. "We're sure there are more out there," says Blankenship.

What does the presence under the ice of volcanoes--and more generally, of hot curst--say about the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet? The answer isn't as obvious as you might think. The heat won't melt the whole ice sheet; there is too much ice and not enough heat. But toward the western edge of the ice sheet, in the region of the volcano, there is enough heat to melt the base of the ice. The meltwater mixes with the underlying sediment to form a 20-foot-thick glacial till. This goopy muck acts as a lubricant: it allows the ice to flow in streams tens of mile wide toward the Ross Sea, at speeds that reach 2,500 feet per year. The ice ends up in the ocean as icebergs.
I am certainly not an Antarctic volcano expert, but obviously, a good size eruption with corresponding seismicity could make for a very interesting non-linear change period down under the WAIS. Time will tell.

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

Check this out for explainations of Saturn's polar behavior:

In regards to Leanan's toplink on the nuke power industry:

This has been discussed before, but I think it bears repeating for the TOD newbies as nuclear plants need humongous amounts of cement for reinforced concrete ...

It seems that no matter where we turn: we are increasingly confronting receding horizons for many proposals.

"Humongous" is a misleading equivocation. A natural gas-fired plant that makes 900 MW(e) for 30 years emits a little over 100 million tonnes of CO2. When it is cancelled and a nuclear power plant is built instead, its hundreds of thousands of tonnes of concrete represent much less than 1 percent as much emission. "Receding horizons" are frequently, but never honestly, said to afflict nuclear energy.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?

Thxs for the clarification. All things considered: it would be nice if we could find cheap, non-polluting alternatives to cement and asphalt, and all their varied uses.

The problem is not that portland cement cannot be produced without emissions, but that nobody will pay for it. A cement plant costs ~$200,000,000 and cement sells for not much more than the cost of transportation (diesel fueled!).

Zero emission plants will be built if/when concrete becomes a "super material", much stronger, more durable, and nicer to look at than it is now. And twice the price. Then they can sell less material at higher margin, with less emissions.

The pessimism probably comes from the cement industry knowing that infrastructure is decaying and will have to be replaced, but with less public funding available to pay for it. Governments would have to provide the leadership in developing high-strength concrete standards, and an assured market over the life of the new plants.

It seems to me that the only significant emission from cement clinker production is CO2, and the sensible way to deal with CO2 emissions, irrespective of source, is centralized capture.

This is because the energy cost of getting CO2 out of its diluteness in air turns out to be rather small compared to the energy its formation yields when fossil fuels are burned, and capture plants can be built without first requiring new emitters to be built to feed them. The latter idiocy is the basic "clean coal" idea. Clinker production is different, of course: it releases CO2 while consuming energy.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, boron internal combustion fan
How shall cars gain nuclear cachet?

Concrete cannot be optimized. It is created according to chemical formula. The process can be optimized, but how far?

If the chemical formula says something goes in, something must come out, if it happens to be CO2, you CANNOT EVADE IT. The laws of conservation of mass are applied and the low energy CO2 molecule pops out every single time.

First the majority of the CO2 comes from the fossil fuel input for limeburing and other higher temperature processes

Second, the CO2 from the limeburning goes back in as the cement cures...

Not all of it. The chemistry, in a very rough approximation, is to convert calcium carbonate to calcium silicate. While concrete is not the same thing as pure Wollastonite, it does involve calcium - oxygen - silicon bonding, removing a potential carbonate sink.

That's correct. As I understand it (without looking it up), lime plus water is the mortar used in, e.g., a brick wall, to cement the bricks. It recarbonates to calcium carbonate, slowly, over a period of days or weeks. It doesn't need to set rapidly because the wall is already stably standing.

Rapid-setting portland cement, on the other hand, is a mixture of silica-deficient lime silicates and lime aluminates that react directly with water to form various fibrous hydrated phases whose interlocking fibers provide great strength in a matter of hours, or at most a day. As such, cement is not a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, except very slowly, over a period of many years, as it reacts with carbonic acid in rainwater and slowly degrades (cement doesn't last forever). Pure cement is energy-expensive, and so it is mixed with as much sand and gravel as possible ("aggregate") before being used as "concrete". Cement preparation is, BTW, relatively low tech, and will surely survive any forseeable collapse. All you need to do, basically, is roast shaly limestone in air - the heat can be provided by e.g., lump coal.

In Cleveland, 6,000 apply for 300 Wal-Mart jobs

Most of the jobs are lower-paying, lower-skills positions, and the demand for those posts disturbs some people.

"That's Depression-era kind of imagery," Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio, told the Plain Dealer. "You can't have an economy that works that way. It speaks to the need to generate a different kind of employment in Cleveland."

It's the unemployment that brings real pain, not the direct effects of high energy prices. $8/gal gas and a strong economy and most would not have to alter their lives much. $4 gas and 8% unemployment and things get interesting.

Last few decades, spikes in unemployment have been less sharp but they have also taken longer to resolve.

The US Gov does not count all of the unemployed as unemployed, just those that are unemployed and are currently seeking employment.

Same in Canada (where I come from).

Unemployment is about the labour market. A person not looking for a job is not part of the labour market.

7 of the last 11 recessions have started during Repub presidencies. Why are repubs twice as talented at creating recessions as dems? Since 1970 only one out of seven recessions started with a dem in the White House. Before 1990 every recession ended at the same time unemployment dropped. But when someone named George Bush was president unemployment didn't drop until 1-2 years after the recession ended.

Right Thomas - I never could figure out why optimism dropped after 9/11. Why did everyone stop traveling, spending money etc.? And, some people had the gall to blame it on the dot com bubble. Bubble, my ass (500 times earnings be damned - that just means that it will only take 500 years to get your money back if they earned the same amount for 500 years and paid it all out in a dividend each year), those companies eventually would have made good money if Bush would have supported them properly. I guess those Republican's will never get it right. I mean, under Clinton the hijackers got the appropriate training to fly a plane, but under Bush, he never followed through and taught them how to land one.

The 2001 recession started in March and was unrelated to terrorism.

The Wal-Mart in Spencer Iowa has perennial "help wanted" signs in place. They'll get ten applications, accept two, and maybe one of those will actually show up for work. Those that do turn up are the sort who would get elected for stacking duty at the end of the day.

If you're saying to yourself "Stacking duty?" here is how it used to work.

We grow forage and bedding crops here, mostly alfalfa which is a leafy plant with hard stems, and some brome grass which is like a very tall, slightly tougher cousin of that stuff in your yard. The brome grass is used to get baby cows started eating forage crops and some pampered horses receive it also. The bedding crop is oat straw, which dries to a pretty gold color and is very insulating and absorbent.

These days hay is put up in round bales 8' in diameter or perhaps giant square bales 3' x 3' x 6', but back when these crops were packed into bales 1.5' x 2' x 3' and handled manually.

And thusly if you hustled all day while riding around on this one:


You wouldn't end up on the wrong end of this one, sweating in stifling heat at the end of the day.


Here we have a surplus of jobs of the type that drew 6,000 applicants in Cleveland ... but those who applied might not like working with or for the farm raised, as expectations are much higher here in terms of output when physical labor is involved, and many of the jobs at Wal-Mart are of this type.

Buddy, can you spare a dime. 1930.

Will work for food: 1720.

Will give you my wife for food: 1310

Will give you my wife and Daughter , if I can keep my sword

- The Danube Frontier , Fritigern 376 AD.

Miss America 2007



OK serious LOL material Musashi!

It's funny because it's true!

'America becoming conspiracy nation
Survey finds growing numbers seeking alternative explanations'


...snip...'Eighty percent of survey participants, when asked if oil companies are conspiring to keep gasoline prices high, said it was "somewhat likely" or "very likely" they are.

"People look at the huge profits and put two and two together," said Tyson Slocum, director of the Energy Program of Public Citizen, the consumer watchdog organization founded by Ralph Nader. "'Those high prices I'm paying are fueling those profits.'"...snip...

'If you believe the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon came without any specific warning, a new poll says the person on your left and the person on your right think you're wrong.

Almost two-thirds of Americans think it is possible some officials in the federal government had specific information about the pending attacks, but chose to ignore it and take no action to protect the country, according to a Scripps Howard News Service/Ohio University poll.

The national survey of more than 800 U.S. adults conducted by Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University echoes a similar one by the same organization in 2006 that found more than a third of Americans believing the U.S. government somehow assisted in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, or else took no steps to stop them from occurring, so the Bush administration could launch a war in the Middle East.'...snip...

'The reason? The Bush administration, according to an academic interviewed by Scripps Howard News Service.

"You wouldn't have gotten these numbers a year or two after the attacks themselves," said University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster. "You've got an increasingly disaffected public that is unhappy with the administration."

"What it could mean is that people are thinking that the Bush administration is incompetent, that there were warnings out there and they chose to put their attention on other things," Fenster said.'...snip...

What it could mean is that even sheep can learn (eventually).

It might have something to do with the fact the governments throughout history have allowed attacks to occur or have staged them to serve as excuses for war.
Google: False-flag events

I am surprised the Bush administration hasn't built themselves a copy of the Reichstag just so they can set fire to it at an opportune moment.

The current administration will not be able to use such a ploy without immediately falling under suspicion based on their previous behavior in many areas.

UK 2017: under surveillance

IT is a chilling, dystopian account of what Britain will look like 10 years from now: a world in which Fortress Britain uses fleets of tiny spy-planes to watch its citizens, of Minority Report-style pre-emptive justice, of an underclass trapped in sink-estate ghettos under constant state surveillance, of worker drones forced to take on the lifestyle and values of the mega-corporation they work for, and of the super-rich hiding out in gated communities constantly monitored by cameras and private security guards.

This Orwellian vision of the future was compiled on the orders of the UK's information commissioner - the independent watchdog meant to guard against government and private companies invading the privacy of British citizens and exploiting the masses of information currently held on each and every one of us - by the Surveillance Studies Network, a group of academics.

I think this is more likely our future than Mad Max or Permaculture Eden. At least in the medium term.

no that's definitely possible in the short term. a decade is kind of stretching it. the tech is already there for the drones, they just need the laws in place and the sheer number of drones to do it. 5-6 years might see that in it's height. 10-15 years will most likely see it start to crumble. the 'mad max period(used to describe when central power is re-organized around available sources of energy)' will be a short transitional period of restructuring.
the so called permaculture Eden won't have even a chance of happening till the population drops sub 1 billion.

I think it could last longer than 10-15 years. With less shopping, of course.

The low-hanging fruit has been picked in energy and agriculture. There may be a lot left when it comes to control of the populace.

But will they have the energy to maintain a police state infrastructure? the situation they will face in such a case is not only aquiring more energy but not spending too much to get it to short change the opressive police state facade.

I think they might. It took decades, even centuries, for previous complex societies to collapse. Even Easter Island took two generations or more.

I'm not ruling out anything, but my guess is that the collapse will be long, slow, and extremely oppressive.

The thing is with oppressive regimes, as soon as the facade starts to crack the opressed ussially come out of the wood work to try to take over.

I'm not sure about that, either. People will put up with a lot of crap before they rebel. Just look at all the people living under repressive regimes now, and in the past. And our new overlords may have much better technology with which to control us.

It's also occurred to me that extreme oppression is probably the only way we will avoid the Tragedy of the Commons, so it might be bad for us but good for the planet. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

Pakistan and India are probably a good example of how a decline goes. Didn't they have electricity riots last summer?

Even a totalitarian government can't control a population driven insane by the heat. Throw in some food and gasoline shortages, and even the most brutal government will lose control.

When people have nothing left to lose they will riot.

case against your argument: north korea

don't underestimate the tools of oppression available to today's despot

nah - i am with Leanan

I think that cheap dense energy is part of the fuel for fighting such oppression - without it, and with modern tools of oppression in place it'll be robust and long lasting

Thanks to the never-ending war on terror, these governments have developed "smart borders" using hidden surveillance technologies. Cameras and scanners at passport control monitor faces, irises and fingerprints checking them off against records of biometric passports, or the British ID card system.

So don't travel overseas. By 2017, it will be frightfully expensive anyway. No travel = no passport = out of sight

Smart tags buried in a shopper's clothing "talk" to scanners in shops. The system then connects to consumer databases, revealing where the clothing was bought and by whom and what other purchases the person has made. The system knows who you are, where you live, what you like and don't like.

So buy fabric and learn to sew, or rehab used clothing. A quick zap in the microwave will take care of those pesty smart tags. Yes, they'll burn the fabric, but just cut the burned spot out and patch or rework the material.

The wealthiest consumer-citizen can even become a "cashless shopper". For £200, a chip can be implanted in the human body which is loaded with a person's bank and credit details. From then on, it's their arm that will be scanned in a shop, not their credit card. "Cashless shoppers" also get first-class service in mega-malls, with special lounges, spas and massage facilities reserved only for them. Urban myths, however, are springing up that muggers are targeting these elite consumers and cutting the chip from their arms.

Just say "no" to implanted chips. Nobody truly needs that "first class service" crap.

I see a bright future for yard sales, flea markets, classfied newspapers and ebay-style exchanges, etc., plus barter.

So the rich SOBs that get these embedded tags end up getting carved up -- what's the downside in that for the rest of us?

Scandals about child abductions and murders during school hours mean teachers prefer tagging a child to facing legal liability for their injury in a court. Drug testing in schools has also become an accepted part of life following pressure by the government to identify problem children earlier and earlier in life. What children eat in schools is also monitored by parents. . .

This sounds like a good advert for home schooling

Most cities are divided between gated private communities, patrolled by corporate security firms (which keep insurance costs to a minimum) and high-crime former council estates. On most estates, private companies are tasked to deal with social evils. . . Estates can be subject to "area-wide curfews", following outbursts of antisocial behaviour, which ban anyone under 18 from entering or leaving the estate from dusk until dawn. . .

In gated communities, meanwhile, no-one can get in or out unless their car's number plate is authorised by the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) devices located on gates. There are now so many ANPR cameras across the land that it's almost impossible to drive the length of a street without details of your car being logged by the state.

It sounds like the gated communities are just the place you DON'T want to live in. At a certain point, one might be better off to ditch the car and just get by on foot (or maybe bicycles, if you can "inadvertently" cover up the license tag, and can figure out a way to find where they've planted the RFID and disable it.)

CCTV is now embedded at eye level in lamp-posts to enable the use of facial recognition technology.

Thus the fixation of muslim females on asserting their right to wear headscarves and veils, and the equal fixation on the part of some governments to deny them that right.

In cold weather, wool scarves become unisex, so wintertime will be the best time to move around when you don't want to be observed.

Following protests, individual demonstrators can be monitored by camera until private security contractors for the local authority in which the demo took place get a chance to question them. Helmet-mounted cameras scan the biometrics of anyone being questioned. . . When they are taken into custody by private security guards in Westminster, Ben undergoes the usual DNA swab, which is analysed instantaneously, and hands over his ID card for scanning. ID cards are still theoretically voluntary, but not having one makes life almost impossible. . .Once Ben is released, police monitoring systems piggy-back on his hand-held device to track him as he travels across the city. He's also been put on a communications watchlist which means all his internet and e-mail traffic is saved by his ISP and passed to police. As most phone calls are online now, police also get access to these communications as well.

So why bother doing public protests? You are not going to actually be able to change anything. All you are doing is stepping forward to the authorities and inviting them to target you with a higher level of surveilance. When it gets to this point, one is better off to go underground and employ guerilla sedition and sabotage.

Potential employees are subjected to biometric and psychometric testing, as well as lifestyle surveys. "Their lives outside work," the authors say, "and their background, are the subject of scrutiny. It is felt to be increasingly important that the lifestyle profile of the employee match those of the customers to ensure better customer service." Recruitment consultants now frequently discard any CV which does not contain volunteered health information. Once hired, staff are subjected to sporadic biometric testing which point to potential health and psychological problems. Thanks to iris-scanning at a gym connected to the company, employees can be pulled up at annual assessments for not maintaining their health. Periodic psychometric testing also reveals if staff attitudes have changed and become incompatible with company values.

So avoid career paths that end up with large organizations. Try to find a way to be self-employed if at all possible, or to work for very small organizations.

. . .the ever-growing number of retirement villages are fitted with the "telecare" system, with motion detectors in every room, baths with inbuilt heart monitors, toilets which measure blood sugar levels and all rooms fitted with devices to detect fire, flood and gas leaks. Panic buttons are also installed in every room. Fridges have RFID scanners which tell the neighbourhood grocery store that pensioners are running short on provisions.

Which means that one must make every possible effort to stay out of retirement facilities of any type. Age in place in your own home if at all possible. Besides all of the above, if it ever does get to the point where society decides that maintaining the elderly isn't worth the expense, the "final solution" will begin with the residents of these institutions. Those who live on their own might be ignored and spared for a while.

Just say "no" to implanted chips.

I don't think people will. Heck, some are already getting chips.

And look at EZ-Pass. They can track you wherever you go when you have one of those. They can tell how fast you are going, and send the cops to give you a ticket if you're speeding. People have already lost their jobs, because their EZ-Passes showed they weren't where they were supposed to be. They've lost big bucks in divorce cases, because their EZ-Passes showed their cars were parked at their mistresses' houses.

Yet people still use them. For the convenience of not having to dig around in the ashtray for change, being able to use a shorter line, or to save a few bucks a month.

If it comes to something really important - like a job, or your monthly food ration - few will say no.

I use EZ-Pass all the time. You have to be within about 30 to 50 feet of a reading device before it detects you. They are also attached to the window of the car with Velcro, so they can be easily removed when you're not going to be on a toll road. If you are on a toll road/bridge, a camera takes a shot of your license plate every time you go through anyway, so EZ-Pass isn't adding all that much, IMO.

On the other hand, I have no intention of ever getting an implanted chip, not even if it is necessary to keep my job.

I use EZ-Pass all the time.

Me, too. Even though I know the drawbacks, and rarely drive.

I only know one person who won't use EZ-Pass, and he's kind of a '60s radical who never really sold out. And even he uses EZ-Pass when driving his employer's vehicles. He has to.

You have to be within about 30 to 50 feet of a reading device before it detects you.

Depends on the detector. Be careful in construction zones. They often have the ability to track EZ-Pass for quite a ways, and though they aren't supposed to, they will send cops if they see you speeding. They see it as their lives at stake if you're speeding in a construction zone.

They are also attached to the window of the car with Velcro, so they can be easily removed when you're not going to be on a toll road.

They can be removed, but they can still be detected. I know, because when I first got mine, I put it in the mylar bag in a drawer in the dashboard, and only took it out when I needed it.

Then one day I forgot to get out, drove through the EZ-Pass lane...and it detected my EZ-Pass anyway. That's when I gave up, and just left it on my window.

On the other hand, I have no intention of ever getting an implanted chip, not even if it is necessary to keep my job.

I would. If it meant the difference between eating and not eating, I would. If it meant the difference between my family eating and not eating, I would.

I may say I wouldn't, but I know I'm fooling myself. Since I have an EZ-Pass, and it's not even saving me much time or any money.

I'd bet that a metal cookie tin would be enough to shield it from the detectors.

Those cookie tins with the lids that you sort of squeeze on over the tin are actually really decent RF-tight boxes.

Altoid boxes are good too. Not sure of the size of the EZ-Pass but that's a good kind of tin and if you look you can find them in all sizes.

Even NOT having an EZ-Pass will get you identified. There are cameras with character recognition working on cash lanes too. There's records of nearly every vehicle that takes a toll road, EZ pass or not. It's a big deal in the UK, even if the US claims they are not using the data here yet, do you believe them? ;-)

Then there's always cell phone tracking as a backup.

Good point. I don't have a cell phone, but most people do these days. Most people are already "chipped," whether they realize it or not.

That's how it's going to go. If you ask someone if they would give up their privacy for convenience, they always say no. But when push comes to shove, they do it. They let web sites track them with cookies, because it's a PITA to have to keep logging in. They carry around tracking devices disguised as cell phones, because they can't wait until they get home or to the office to make a phone call. They let corporations track their weekly grocery purchases, in exchange for a few cents off. And they install tracking devices in their cars, just to save 20 seconds at the toll plaza. Do it slowly enough, and people will give up their privacy with little protest.

Get Chipped Yet? - One Generation Is All They Need

From this point forward, microchips will become progressively smaller, less invasive, and easier to deploy. Thus, any realistic barrier to the wholesale "chipping" of Western citizens is not technological but cultural. It relies upon the visceral reaction against the prospect of being personally marked as one component in a massive human inventory.

Today we might strongly hold such beliefs, but sensibilities can, and probably will, change. How this remarkable attitudinal transformation is likely to occur is clear to anyone who has paid attention to privacy issues over the past quarter-century. There will be no 3 a.m. knock on the door by storm troopers come to force implants into our bodies. The process will be more subtle and cumulative, couched in the unassailable language of progress and social betterment, and mimicking many of the processes that have contributed to the expansion of closed-circuit television cameras and the corporate market in personal data.

Be the First on your block. Or maybe they will start with

"Domestic Terrorists" ?

In the West, chips will first be implanted in members of stigmatized groups. Pedophiles are the leading candidate for this distinction, although it could start with terrorists, drug dealers, or whatever happens to be that year's most vilified criminals. Short-lived promises will be made that the technology will only be used on the "worst of the worst." In fact, the wholesale chipping of incarcerated individuals will quickly ensue, encompassing people on probation and on parole.

Even accused individuals will be tagged, a measure justified on the grounds that it would stop them from fleeing justice. Many prisoners will welcome this development, since only chipped inmates will be eligible for parole, weekend release, or community sentences. From the prison system will emerge an evocative vocabulary distinguishing chippers from non-chippers.


I think information technology will be an early casualty. Computers and communications equipment take a lot of oil to build and once people realize we're at the end of investment as well as the end of cheap oil the chip foundries (think:silicon wells) will no longer be "drilled". Programmers who can't make a living in their field turn to other work, businesses that might hire them give up looking - the difference between a good programmer and a great one is several orders of magnitude in terms of productivity. The best and the brightest will have the sense and energy to move on ...

A lot of dystopian futures depend on everything collapsing ... except the bits that are required for dystopia. When workers can't get to work and the bank the business used is gone and the investors aren't willing to assume the risk ... what then of the spy plane company? The RFID chip company?

Won't come all at once, but it'll come.

SCT, I agree with you. It won't be a worry for the duration.

BTW, been a programmer for 25 years.


Houston appears to be ready to purchase a new spy plane for you locals


Sacred Cow Tipper, you say you wonder "when" they will have the "fire". Uh okay. ;)

Mad Max looks like fun, but it's going to be more like Red Dawn.

Musashi, thanks for the Dave Mason link to Watchtower.

I do not take seriously all the baloney in the press about how great the US/state/local security monitoring is or is going to become. The last giant system that NSA installed was a big flop and has yet to produce usefull data on a large scale. Who is going to monitor all this data? A computer? Is the computer going to make the decision to zap some person or vehicle based on info that needs more analysis? Are the various govs going to hire a lot of low wage folks to watch monitors? This all smells of another giant boondoggle to raid the treasury. The Gov wants us to believe that they are efficient and know our every move, I say that is a lot of baloney. The Gov might have a couple of million people on a watch list that they surveil intermittently, but 300 million of us? No way!

All of this is reminiscent of the FBI during the 1930s...They wanted Joe Sixpack to think that FBI agents were stationed in every podunk town in America when nothing could have been further from the truth.

We are all under Surveillance.

Houston Police Test Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft

"The Houston Police Department was filmed testing an unmanned aircraft in a secretive gathering on Wednesday. The media were not allowed into the event; however they were told that the aircraft would be used for 'mobility' and 'tactical' issues, and possibly even for writing traffic tickets. The aircraft has a wingspan of 10 feet and is said to cost from $30K to $1M. Pictures and video are available at the link."

The article mentions that the craft was being operated by staff from a private firm called Insitu, Inc.. The device in the video looks like the firm's ScanEagle.


From the NYTimes.

New York Plans Surveillance Veil for Downtown
The New York Times
July 9, 2007

Would this mean that every Wall Street broker, every tourist munching a hot dog near the United States Court House and every sightseer at ground zero would constantly be under surveillance? “This program marks a whole new level of police monitoring of New Yorkers and is being done without any public input, outside oversight, or privacy protections for the hundreds of thousands of people who will end up in N.Y.P.D. computers," Christopher Dunn, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, wrote in an e-mail message.

He said he worried about what would happen to the images once they were archived, how they would be used by the police and who else would have access to them.

Already, according to a report last year by the civil liberties group, there are nearly 4,200 public and private surveillance cameras below 14th Street, a fivefold increase since 1998, with virtually no oversight over what becomes of the recordings.

Mr. Browne said that the Police Department would have control over how the material is used. He said that the cameras would be recording in “areas where there’s no expectation of privacy” and that law-abiding citizens had nothing to fear. “It would be used to intercept a threat coming our way, but not to collect data indiscriminately on individuals,” he said.

Mr. Browne said software tracking the cameras’ images would be designed to pick up suspicious behavior. If, for example, a bag is left unattended for a certain length of time, or a suspicious car is detected repeatedly circling the same block, the system will send out an alert, he said.


..a world in which Fortress Britain uses fleets of tiny spy-planes to watch its citizens..

I have to say that I cannot see the UK authorities ever being ORGANIZED enough to make this happen.

Last week it emerged that a junior 'pup' in the HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs) took the entire database of UK parents with children (and associated bank account information, dates of birth etc) - burnt it onto 2 x CDs and popped it into an envelope without a tracker code, and sent it to London.

The package has never arrived, and despite a police search of EVERYWHERE in between - it cannot be found.

Any mini-spy-planes will doubtless have a similarly competant 'pup' at the controls, and he will spend the day doing loop-the-loops over Droitwich, before crashing it into the ASDA car-park..

Hi Jenks,

I was thinking it takes a lot of energy and person-hours to process all that info.

Maybe the idea is to make money for the system manufacturers, or something.

Zimbabwe Biodiesel: Celebrating a still birth

The headline on Zimbabwe's biodiesel plant caught my attention.

"These peak production levels impose a challenge on the farming community to produce adequate feedstock of oil seeds to meet demand throughout the year."

Another expert said: "We would need a separate Zimbabwe to do that. We cannot convert arable land to grow Jatropha; otherwise we would experience serious food shortages. There is no land for that."

Local wind driven ammonia production for nitrogen fertilizer, local biodiesel production as part of the crop rotation to fuel harvesting machines producing only what is needed in the region, and local solutions to phosphorus and potassium requirements.

Shipping FF diesel and NG derived nitrogen one way, then bringing "cheap" biodiesel back is a piece of silliness that eventually blows apart when the cheap FF underpinnings are gone and the financial system that funded it is wrecked. Some of this has happened already while the rest will fall as oil prices rise and the dollar descends.

The budget guys pushed back: Can't we wait until crude prices level off? No, the word came back from Cheney, this was urgent. That was all it took. "He doesn't weigh in on a ton of issues," said a person close to those negotiations. "But when he does . . ."

So more evidence that Cheney and friends are very aware of peak oil and pursuing the last man standing pre-emptive resource war "strategery".

So now I'll use my spiritual medium abilities to tap into the neo-con zeitgeist for a moment and see what it has to say! The spirit is entering my body and....

"Now if we could just invade Iran and dominate the Caspian we'd have the Russians contained in Central Asia and the massive oil reserves there under the control of our client states that we made inroads with during our campaign in Afghanistan."

... Whoa! Did I type that! Gee Whiz... That's scary stuff!

And that behavior worked how well for the previous adventurers in the region? The Bush administrations mighty powers of ineptitude will not do what persistence and skill could not accomplish previously.

I could maybe get behind something like this if we'd said the T word (triage) and we were fighting for solutions, but exhuming more carbon is not the answer.

Cats in a sack, says Monbiot, and each day his Feline Combat Containment System comes closer and closer to regional deployment in many parts of the world.

Cheney was concerned by the amount of oil reserves controlled by NOCs by 1999. The big NOCs back then: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. He said in his '99 speech that these would become the big problem in the forecast expansion of oil production during the next decade. The invasion of Iraq was meant to deal with, or begin to deal with, all three of those NOCs. For a while in '04 I recall hearing neocon seminars discussing regime change in Saudi Arabia. As you might expect, it involved installing a different prince, not democracy. Like in the movie Syriana, doubtless this prince would have broken up Saudi Aramco as a quid pro quo. Let's see them try to pull that off now...

I hate to say this, but if you take into account that power down is a fantasy. you can't convince everyone basically giving up power to those that won't, in this case china and India. alternitives can't scale in time or at all(most likely the latter). the chances of anything new to be discovered and to scale up really really fast are basically non-existent. the grab all you can and fsck everyone else gives while not the best the most achievable return on investment.

Cheney is into guns, hunting lawyers, etc...Maybe he will get an invite to the range where the Army is testing their new 'Super Zapper Microwave' that is capable of frying folks way over yonder. Perhaps it will effect his pacemaker?

Microwaves, pacemakers... Hmmm... this just appeared int the NY Times. Coincidence? You be the judge ;-):


"Cheney Has Irregular Heartbeat

Published: November 26, 2007

Filed at 7:48 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Doctors administered an electrical shock Monday to Vice President Dick Cheney's heart to restore it to a normal rhythm.

In planning for an attack on Iran, the wargamers and economic planners included using stored oil in the US to help keep down damage to the US economy. When they included stored oil, those involved decided that an attack on Iran was doable with minimum disruption in supplies of gas and oil to consumers. It seems to me that before this can become true, you have to have plenty of stored oil...

In the last couple of days there was a headline claiming that Iraq and the US had announced the first steps toward a permanent US presence in Iraq.


Kunstler in his latest makes another market call:

But I must say, at the risk once again of sounding extreme, that the structural and systemic sickness in the finance realm is now so severe that it is hard to imagine we will get through the month of December without some major trauma in the markets. In fact, I'd go so far as to predict a thousand-point drop (or more) in the Dow just in this week after Thanksgiving.

Somewhat subdued in comparison to his Dow 4000 call last year. He's becoming more optimistic.

oh wow, I better buy some stocks! :D

I think they will try and keep it going until the year-end bonuses are paid. At least here in the UK.

Hence the middle-east summit in Maryland right now.

...Should knock a couple of bucks off the price of a barrel.

''Merry Christmas you arse /And I hope its our last''.

Dorme Bien.

He should have learned by now not to make predictions that involve timing! Even if he is right (and I agree with the overall tone), the timing and pace of market behavior is notoriously hard to predict, even if there was no real manipulation going on. Otherwise, we would all be rich by now.

I think pundits should make predictions. And they should be reviled when they are wrong. It's the only way to keep it real.

But I also put a dig in once in a while because JHK doesn't understand the derivatives and hedge funds etc that he hates so much. It doesn't quite work the way he thinks. For instance: in many cases, there is a winner for every loser. That explains why this fund is up 1000%.

This isn't to say I'm for complex finance. Just that it isn't really to be blamed. The 1929 boom/bust certainly didn't need it. The problem is greed feeding on itself.

As for the Dow, I hope he's right. I went short the Dow a little while back.

I like reading JHK, he seems a bit off these last couple of weeks.

The only disappointment is that he didn't explain the word "eyesore" to his web designer. The old website was much better.

Maybe he is learning the market dynamics over time...4000 was pretty silly...he forgot about inflation.

1000 points is realistic. 237 points today...1/4 the way!

GA, if you go to ATOL and read what Henry C K Liu has to say about the most recent write downs by the big Wall St firms you will find that these firms do not even know exactly where (which derivitives) lost money. Its one thing to write down $14 Billion when you know where it was lost, but when the firms cant say exactly where it was lost...Well, you get the picture.

Lowem over at http://www.post1.net/lowem/entry/us_m3_hits_18 reports that the US M3 money supply is growing at 18%.

"So, on a year-on-year basis, US M3 money supply growth is outrunning GDP growth by over 4 times. That is highly inflationary, going by the classic definition of inflation. You see this manifest itself in higher prices : all the way from the NYMEX exchange to the increasing gasoline pump price, all the way from the wheat futures markets to the increasing price of bread at the supermarkets."

Does that really mean inflation is growing at 18%, or approx 4 times our GDP???

What it means is that real GDP is declining in the USA currently. GDP growth minus inflation of money supply = real GDP growth. Good thing there are a lot of "economists" able to explain this one away.

The 18% annual money supply growth rate was not sustained over a twelve month period, the twelve month total M3 growth rate was closer to 13%.

Since the U.S. escalated wartime activities in 2002 to build up for the Iraqi invasion the dollar has fallen 60% compared to the euro. The euro was worth 90 cents back then, now it is worth about $1.47. The dollar is rapidly losing value.

Dollars vs. Euro Ten Year Chart

The FBI issued a report that the anthrax mailed to a two prominent Democratic senators in 2001 was a DNA strain developed and kept at a secret U.S. Army bioweapons facility in Maryland. This anthrax was not developed in a railroad car lab in Iraq.

The report about Iraq trying to acquire uranium in Niger did not come from the CIA, but was a deliberate fabrication from the highest levels of the Presidential administration.

Bush went it alone. The dollar has dropped 60% in value. If the government can balance its budget the dollar might be saved. So far we have received more excessive spending plans rather than any form of government austerity.

Here's an idea that I would like to get comment on:

As natural resources become scarce in comparison to the size of the labour force, wages must fall. If there are obstacles to wages falling (and there are!), there has to be higher unemployment.

I wonder if population issues were presented in that way, they might get more attention. i.e. Overpopulation will result in you either being jobless or having your salary cut.

Of course, there's always faith in technology, the universal saviour. (So far).

If you are talking about energy resources this may be true.

If you are talking about renewable resources like wind power, solar power, or reusable resources like industrial metals that can be recycled (copper is nearly 90% recycled) then that is not true. IMHO limiting factor regarding population's employment is the ability to use renwables. But I would not directly corelate all resources to a specific population trend like employment as some have like energy have a large effect. Availability of others like metals that are recycled have a lessor effect and the demand that forces recycling can result in higher employment.

George Asaebius - I read somewhere that actually, in Nature, overpopulation means each animal has to work harder. Taken further of course overpopulation means dieoff, but initially it means each animal has to put in many more work-hours hunting or foraging, grazing, etc.

Sound familiar?

Apropos of the French horse plan ( http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article3194065.ece ), my sister in law wanted to get a horse so she could take her kids shopping without a car but surprise, they don't allow you to own a horse in Portland Oregon. She also checked out small ponies to haul just groceries and small children. But "no go" on housing equine species in the city limits. Bummer. And people claim that Portland Oregon is ahead of the curve in preparing for peak oil?

So now they have two big dogs, and are thinking of training them to pull a cart.

Or you could use them to pull a scooter this way:

(from: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/dog_power_ideal.php )

Of course you'd have to calculate the carbon cost and energy cost of producing the food and transporting the food to the animal. Both of those realities suggest the need for lower density living arrangements (to keep and feed animals) or higher density arrangements (so that we do not need animals to help us move from place to place.)

Horse based transport systems are predicated on ready access to sufficient pasturage to feed the horse... and a similar calculus of the land area and density required to support large populations of transportation specific dogs in good health probably applies for any economy that uses dog based locomotive power to any significant degree.

Here's more material on using dogs for transportation power:

Hello oregon7,

Thxs for the video links--I want to see fifty weiner-dogs pulling a wagon: my guess is maximum output is reached with 49 un-neutered males with one female-in-heat as the lead dog. LOL!

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

Motivation. :-)

I vaguely recall dog carts being mentioned in a Sherlock Holmes story (the Hound of the Baskervilles???), as something common in rural England in the late 19th century. I did a quick google and came up with this link:


At least some dogs love to pull. I suspect any sufficiently large breed would. Here in Colorado people will actually harness up the dog and let him pull them on cross country skis.

A matched pair of medium-to-large dogs with a cart for cargo and parents/children on bicycles could certainly replace the family car for many functions.

Check out the second page here:


image at the bottom of the page, captioned "Hauling firewood in Canada".

Now I'm picturing my garden cart with its rubber tires that will carry about 200 pounds being adapted as a dog cart.

Thanks Bob!

GreenMan, this is also great. We all think we know about northern sled dogs, but we've lost the historical memory of European use of dogs for transportation power. As things get a little closer to the bone, why not?


This quote is fascinating

Of English Dogs, Johannes Caius, 1576. Reprinted by Beech Publishing House, 1993. p. 32, 36, 37 ISBN: 1 85736 070 2.

Types of English Draft Dogs according To Dr. Caius

Water Drawer: And these be of the greater and the weightier sort, drawing water out of wells ... by a wheel which they turn about.

Tinker Cur: Because ... they bear big budgets fraught with tinker's tools and metal.

Turnspit: There is ... a certain dog excellent in kitchen service. For when any meat is to be roasted, they go into a wheel; which they turning round with the weight of their bodies; and so diligently look to their business.

Butcher Dog

When you see that it suddenly seems obvious... how do you convert food energy into motive power? Animals... all kinds of animals. Dogs too.

It also suddenly strikes me that I now understand an important part of why dog breeding persisted... not just the guarding and hunting functions, but motive and locomotive functions... their utility as draft animals.

A dog was surely a more affordable animal than a donkey or a horse... it eats less. It is an "economy car" in the Middle Ages or even the 19th century for a tradesman who needs to haul his tools. I feel I've gained a real historical insight here. Thank you.

19th century (and 21st century?) local delivery vehicle.

Turnspit: There is ... a certain dog excellent in kitchen service. For when any meat is to be roasted, they go into a wheel; which they turning round with the weight of their bodies; and so diligently look to their business.

The very large wheel affair they refer to was eventually replaced by a dog-sized treadmill. It was set up on an incline, so the dog that is teathered to it is pretty much forced to keep walking. The treadmill was connected via a series of wheels, belts and gears to a rotisserie spit over a fireplace or large oven. The same arrangement could also be used to power other devices that did not require a very high amount of torque. Because the treadmill affair was smaller and more portable, it had the advantage of being moved from one job location to another and hooked up as needed. For example, I know that they did have these rigged up to also power butter churns.

It would probably be possible for someone to rig up such an affair and use it with things like those hand-cranked radios and lights. A dog on a treadmill could probably keep your entire home lit all evening, plus a bunch of other stuff. There are also small hand-operated clothes washers that could be set up to be dog-powered. There really are quite a few interesting possibilities when you think about it. If you are going to have a dog, there are ways to make it earn its keep.

oregon7 - A person with a bicycle can beat a horse at a lot of things, including a lot handier for picking up groceries, you don't need to feed or water or curry a bicycle when not in use, no shoeing every month or so (pavement is hard on hoofs) and so on.

Portland is very bike-friendly!

Learn what's possible with bicycles and human-power, you'll be surprised!

And I don't, repeat, don't, suggest looking on YouTube for the videos of one Lucas Brunelle for learning safe riding, oh no no! Don't ever view those!

Fleam, I bike to work every day. I just biked home in 38 degree weather, after dark and in freezing rain. Every day I bike five miles to work, five miles back. It makes me happy. And I can take the MAX from Hollywood to Downtown if I don't feel like biking, or several bus lines. Portland is great for biking, but biking is not always a solution for a parent with multiple young children.

My sister in law tried various solutions, such as this:

It's not easy to move three young children to the grocery store, pick up food for a few days, and get them home. That got her started thinking about horse ownership (impossible by city regs) and then about using their very strong dogs to haul the groceries. I don't think she'll really do it, but she's just trying to figure it out.

how do I get into my account to add my website? also, is it considered bad form to post it below my comment?
I'm trying to generate some google action and have read I should post it everywhere.

We discourage sigs here. It gets very annoying to read the same thing over and over again, especially if it's long and you post a lot.

And it won't do you any good, as far as generating "google action." The rel="nofollow" tag is automatically added to links posted in the comments, precisely to discourage the kind of link-spamming you are talking about. Google will not give any weight to the links you post here in their pagerank system.

You can add your web site URL to your profile. Click on your name (as it appears above your posts), then Edit -> Personal information. It might not help you with Google, but people who are interested in your writing because of your posts might follow the link to your web site to read more.

thank you leanan
you are very helpful

I recently moved back to the Bay Area from Houston... I know there are lots of people on here from this neck of the woods. Any meetups or groups worth joining, on the Peak Oil front?

Peak Oil Task Force for Oakland comes to mind.


That's not "joinable." That's an Oakland city task force that was appointed. One in SF, too, and folks in Berkeley are working to start something similar right now.

Tomorrow night (Nov 27) is a San Francisco Post Carbon meeting. Wednesday night is an East Bay Peak Oil meeting.

Details, on our local discussion group are here:


[edit] I realize that isn't the easiest to sort through.
San Francisco meeting: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sfbayoil/message/4015

Oakland: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sfbayoil/message/4075

Leanan's "USGS: Arctic Russia Sea Holds 9.3B BBL, 32TCF Unfound Oil, Gas," talks about the Laptev Sea holding 9.3 billion barrels in oil equivalent, and includes the following graf:

Based on USGS's last assessment in 2000, the entire Arctic region was previously thought to contain almost 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas, but harsh conditions have thus far prevented mass development.

Gazprom, with Total, Statoil and perhaps FMC are going after Shtokman. With a decline fast taking hold throughout Russia's oil patch, one wonders whether it will pursue the Arctic vigorously. I'd say yes. Thoughts?

Steve / oilandglory.com

In the meantime, the vultures continue to close in...



Hello TODers,

40 Million Electric Bikes Spark Environmental Dilemma in China

Electric bike users have taken Chinese cities by storm, quickly outnumbering the cars and in many cities, bicycles.

Electric bikes have filled the niche, providing high levels of personal mobility at a fraction of the cost of a car or even public transit.

I found that electric bikes travel about 35 percent faster than bicycles and have a much larger range. In the city of Kunming, an electric bike can access 60 percent more jobs within 20 minutes than a traditional bicycle. Compared to a 30-40 minute bus ride, an electric bike rider can access three to six times the number of jobs.

While this increase in mobility is remarkable, this mobility does come at a cost, namely increased lead pollution from battery use.

The environmental price

Electric bikes use one car-sized lead acid battery per year. Each battery represents 30-40 percent of its lead content emitted to the environment in the production processes, resulting in about 3 kilograms of lead emitted per battery produced. When scaled up the 40 million electric bikes currently on the roads, this is an astonishing amount of lead emitted into the environment.

I was expecting sales of these e-bikes, plus GEM battery cars, to rapidly rise as FFs get more expensive. Will lead be worse of a problem than even global warming gases?

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

We all know that the Chinese are still in the bad old days when it comes to things like environmental or consumer protection. That's why I - like many people - have become so warry about buying any Chinese-made crap.

Just because they have such high Pb emissions per battery doesn't mean that we can't - and should - do better