DrumBeat: December 7, 2007

China May Cut Fuel Oil Imports by 11% in 2007, PetroChina Says

China, the world's second-biggest oil user, may cut imports of fuel oil by as much as 11 percent this year because of rising purchasing costs and falling demand from non-state-owned refineries, PetroChina Co. said.

Imports may fall to between 25 million and 26 million metric tons this year, compared with 28 million tons in 2006, Sun Yufa, vice president of PetroChina Fuel Oil Co., the fuel oil unit of the nation's biggest oil company, said in an interview in Beijing today.

Food Summit studies the question: What’ll we do when the oil runs out?

The warnings delivered to the gathering by high school teacher Rick Munroe were dire. After years of research he has come to believe in the work of geophysicist Marion King Hubbert who suggests that the world is close to reaching peak oil production. Henceforth oil production will decline as it becomes more difficult to extract from the earth.

Munroe presented his findings, noting that oil is a finite, non-renewable resource which will eventually run out. The belief fuels the NFU’s strategy of achieving a local, sustainable food system involving the reduction of food transportation.

Kazakhstan seeks settlement on oil field delay

Kazakhstan wants either to raise its stake or receive compensation for cost overruns and delays in the Kashagan offshore field, the world's largest oil find in more than three decades, the Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said Friday.

Chevron has second thoughts on biodiesel

Chevron Corp. has signaled it may stop investing in a biodiesel fuel plant in Galveston, clouding the future of an operation that had been counting on the oil company's backing to expand, according to people familiar with the situation.

Russia unaffected by Nabucco trans-Caspian gas pipe project

A trans-Caspian gas pipeline project bypassing Russia would not hurt its interests or the interests of the country's energy giant Gazprom, a deputy industry and energy minister said on Friday.

"That point of view only exists in the minds of the media," Ivan Materov said.

New security pact signed in oil-rich Basra

Basra is where nearly all of Iraq's oil exports head to market and where 80 percent of the oil reserves are either in or around. The power struggle is directly linked to control over the government apparatus that controls the oil city, as well as the booming oil and fuel smuggling trade.

Ethanol bill fuels food costs

Expect the price of beef, pork, chicken and a host of other goods to go up if the House energy bill becomes law. But the trade-off may be worth it.

Why are Canadians the World's Energy Pigs?

Canada is rich, big and cold, and we share two borders with the United States. Those four factors explain why we are the world’s energy pigs in the consumption of non-renewable energy, but they do not justify it.

China: US should take lead on climate

China said Friday it will not consider mandatory cuts on greenhouse gases, saying the United States and other industrialized countries should take the lead in fighting climate change by embracing a less-extravagant lifestyle.

Eco-friendly kangaroo farts could help global warming: scientists

Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

Oslo shares down heavily, led by Statoil on production disappointment

The Oslo energy index fell 5.8 pct, or 38 points, to 622.08 after StatoilHydro delivered its thunderbolt at the start of trade, the group shocking analysts by warning it will miss its 2007 production forecasts and following 2008 guidance that missed expectations.

..."This is a huge surprise. Consensus was for production to increase by 10 pct next year, mainly coming from five new fields," Carnegie analyst John Olaisen said.

China to charge producers oil tax

China will charge its top oil producers more than $8 billion in taxes this year.

The nation's oil producers, including Sinopec, PetrocChina Co. and CNOOC Ltd. will all pay additional taxes on their windfall from high oil prices.

That is 33 percent more than the Chinese oil producers paid last year, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

ISU receives $2 million DOE grant

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2 million to the Iowa State University.

ISU, in partnership with ConocoPhillips Co, will use the grant as part of a $5.2 million project to test an integrated biomass to liquids system that uses gas cooling through oil scrubbing rather than water scrubbing in order to minimize waste water treatment.

Arizona calls for major solar project

Arizona utilities are teaming up to build the state's largest solar-thermal power plant.

The project could power thousands of homes and help utilities meet the state's renewable-energy requirements, the Tucson Citizen said.

Senate Blocks Debate on Energy Plan Approved by House

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked energy legislation that would increase taxes on oil and gas companies and require utilities to get a portion of their power from renewable sources.

The vote on a bid by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today to begin considering the measure was 53-42, seven votes short of the 60 needed to overcome Republican objections.

Syncrude coker unit to be shut for 2-4 weeks

Canadian Oil Sands Trust (COS_u.TO: Quote) said on Friday that Syncrude Canada Ltd will shut down a damaged processing unit for two to four weeks to make repairs after a fire on Dec 5.

The trust, which owns the biggest Syncrude joint venture stake, said it expects 2007 production will still be within the range of 110 to 111 million barrels despite the outage of Coker 8-3.

Fresh oil and gas find in Brazil

Further oil and gas supplies have been discovered off the south-eastern coast of Brazil, boosting the shares of state energy firm Petrobras.

The emergence of a new reserve in the Espirito Santo field comes a month after a reserve of up to eight billion barrels was found nearby.

In 2008, Investors Should Expect to be Buffeted by Oil Price Uncertainty – But One Fact Can’t be Denied

As energy investors look ahead to 2008, they should expect a lot of price uncertainty, as peak-oil believers and deniers take turns holding forth in the media and the oil trading pits. One day it could be Matt Simmons vs. Daniel Yergin, the next T. Boone Pickens vs. the CEO of ExxonMobil. Happily holding coats will be TV anchors and an army of global traders, private equity firms and mutual funds – all of which love market volatility because it can boost their profits if they are ahead of the wave.

Agrium begins shutdown of fertilizer plant

The Agrium USA fertilizer plant in Kenai is closing for good.

Plant managers say they can't find sufficient supplies of natural gas, which is necessary for the production of the fertilizer.

The plant's last cargo ship is destined for Korea with 27,000 tons of fertilizer made from Cook Inlet natural gas, a dwindling commodity in southcentral Alaska.

U.S. forecasters see seven hurricanes in 2008

The noted Colorado State University hurricane research team predicted on Friday that 13 tropical storms will develop in the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, of which seven would strengthen into hurricanes.

The team formed by forecasting pioneer William Gray, whose long-range forecasts have been wrong for the past three years, said three of the hurricanes would be the most dangerous Category 3 or above hurricanes, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 km per hour).

Central Asian Gas Hike May Hit European Consumers

All three Central Asian gas-rich states – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan – have announced gas price hikes for their main customer, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, in a move which may have severe knock-on effects for Europe.

Energy experts say that as Central Asian gas coming via Russia becomes more expensive , European countries could start pushing harder for long-discussed projects to create alternative routes, such as pipelines under the Caspian Sea.

The Game-Playing Behind China’s Fuel Crisis

n the past several months, fuel scarcity has once again swept over much of China: drivers queuing for hours outside filling stations only to get a few liters of rationed fuel, or simply being turned away by dry nozzles. Such scenes have become increasingly common in recent years as the country suffers from periodic fuel shortages during peak demand seasons. A real headache to drivers, this phenomenon has generated a special term—“You Huang,” or “fuel panic”—except that it now has lost any element of surprise.

Contrary to the hasty conclusion that China is running out of fuel, hard figures reveal that this phenomenon is more likely rigged by the country’s oil monopolies in an effort to push up the price cap in the domestic market. According to Chinese customs authorities, for the first nine months of 2007, China’s exports of refined oil reached 12 million tons, a 31 percent increase over the same period last year. This October, when some cities experienced the worst fuel crisis, China imported 30,000 tons of gasoline, while exporting six times that much to the international market.

Protecting America’s Far-Flung Oil Supply

Every day for more than 40 years, the U.S. military has been safeguarding foreign oil sources and the sea-lanes through which that oil is carried. This policy, formulated during World War II and made explicit in 1980 to confront the Soviet Union, has served not only American security but has provided a crucial service for America’s friends and allies that do not have the resources to do it themselves. Since 9/11, transnational terrorist organizations rapidly expanded their targeting of the global petroleum extraction, refining and transport infrastructure disappointing to American policymakers expecting that in the wake of the Soviet Union’s demise, the energy mission could be scaled back.

Food banks go green for winter

Thousands of low-income families will spend less on heating bills and reduce their ecological footprint this winter thanks to a "green" energy program offered through Ontario food banks.

US, poor nations won't pledge binding cuts in Bali: UN

A UN conference trying to lay the groundwork for a new climate change pact is unlikely to win any binding pledge by the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions, its head said Friday.

Developing nations are also likely to refuse to commit to mandatory targets on cutting emissions blamed for global warming, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change.

Indigenous people lash out at Bali climate change talks

Indigenous people from around the globe said Friday they were being excluded from key international climate change talks, when it was their homes, livelihoods and culture at risk from global warming.

Gore in Norway to get Nobel Peace Prize

Former Vice President Al Gore arrived in Oslo on Friday to accept the Nobel Peace Prize he shared for the campaign against global warming, and shunned the traditional airport motorcade in favor of climate-friendly public transport.

Australian defection leaves Bush isolated

American negotiators at the Bali climate conference came under mounting pressure yesterday to back mandatory caps on greenhouse gases, after Australia threw its support behind deep emission cuts and anti-global warming legislation passed a crucial test in the United States Senate.

Up to 60% of Amazon at risk from climate change: WWF

Deforestation and climate change could wipe out or damage up to 60 percent of the vital Amazon forest by 2030, causing knock on effects across the globe, green group WWF warned Thursday.

One the world's key absorbers of carbon dioxide (CO2), the Amazon is under threat from droughts as the world heats up, they said, while deforestation could cause severe damage to the area known as the "lungs of the planet".

Why the Hot Money's on Cheaper Oil

Flynn, an analyst and vice-president at brokerage firm Alaron Futures & Options in Chicago and a 24-year veteran of the industry, has long been an outspoken oil bull. He was among the first to predict that crude oil prices would top $30 a barrel in 2000 and close in on $40 in 2004. Just a month ago, when oil closed at $96.46 on Nov. 7, Flynn was ecstatic: "This should be a day of celebration!" he said. "High oil prices are a sign of a strong global and U.S. economy. I'm very bullish—scary bullish."

But a lot of scary things have happened in the past month, most notably worries about a spreading credit crunch. Now even Flynn doesn't expect the latest price lift to last. "I'm bearish for the first time in years," says Flynn. "Make no mistake: The trend will be down unless we get a major event to change the outlook. If we get back to the mid-90s, get ready to bail. The sell-off is far from over."

Oil tanker leaks 66,000 barrels near S. Korea

South Korea's Coast Guard said Friday it stopped oil leaking from a supertanker in seas near South Korea's west coast and was cleaning up what appeared to be the country's largest offshore spill.

About 66,000 barrels (2.7 million gallons) of crude oil gushed from the 146,000-ton Hong Kong-registered ship after a crane-carrying vessel slammed into it at around 7:10 a.m. local time, the Coast Guard said.

Natural gas supply depleting

Natural gas is taken for granted, and British Columbians benefit from it greatly through the creation of heat for homes and hot water, and food too. It's the raw material for most fertilizer used in North America. One recent study estimates that without oil and gas, the agricultural-carrying capacity of the earth's population would be two billion people. Liquefied natural gas (LNG), on the other hand, is probably new to most people. But its advent and proposed import signals a turning point in history I feel should not be ignored.

Did an oil-company CEO just endorse peak-oil theory?

On Tuesday, CNBC's popular stock-picker Jim Cramer discussed oil supply constraints at length, explaining why he likes ConocoPhillips because it's one of the few firms that really thinks oil prices are staying high and is investing accordingly. Most companies tend to evaluate projects for viability at around $40 per barrel of crude. That's mainly because the rise in oil prices has been moving higher than the supply-demand fundamentals suggest they should, which we have discussed recently (here and here). Cramer thinks ConocoPhillips is "ahead of the curve" and is well-positioned to take advantage of the current market.

In making his case, Cramer read a quote from a recent presentation by ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva that I think is significant coming from an industry leader, given that is sounds a lot like a measured endorsement of peak-oil theory...

Peak Oil And Musical Chairs

We are all playing a game of musical chairs with the world’s oil supply. Every time the price of oil goes up five dollars or so, one chair gets moved away and someone, or some entire country, is politely escorted out of the oil game. Just kidding about the politely part.

Tax plan to extend life of North Sea oil fields

The Treasury is proposing tax changes that it hopes will encourage North Sea oil and gas companies to keep pumping for longer and boost revenues for the Government.

Crude Oil 'Could Hit $110 Next Year'

The Korea Energy Economic Institute said on Thursday in a worst case scenario Dubai crude could rise to US$110 a barrel next year.

An official from the institute said it is more likely that Dubai crude for 2008 will steadily rise from the current $68 a barrel to $75 a barrel. Dubai crude makes up the bulk of Korea's oil imports.

Ota Says Japan's Growth Report Shows Oil Is Hurting Companies

Japan's Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Hiroko Ota said rising oil prices are hurting companies' profits and discouraging them from spending on factories and equipment.

No need to overstate oil price risks - ECB's Weber

Rising oil prices are a danger for euro zone price stability but one should not exaggerate the risks they pose, European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Iraq oil pipeline sabotaged

A crude pipeline in oil-rich northern Iraq was set ablaze after being bombed by militants, oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said Friday.

Repairs at the site, near Al-Fatah, 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of the oil city of Kirkuk, were expected to be completed within a day and crude exports would not be affected, he said.

Refinery company asking for special zoning

A Texas company that's considering Union County as the site of a huge oil refinery has filed for a special type of zoning for the $10 billion project.

If Hyperion Resources gets approval and finally decides to build the refinery, it would be the largest construction project in South Dakota history.

Sinopec Plans To Import 500,000 Tons Diesel Oil In Jan - Xinhua

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP), or Sinopec, plans to import 500,000 metric tons of diesel oil in January, in a bid to ease tight domestic supply, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

The planned imports in January are higher than the 287,000 tons imported in November and 423,000 tons to be imported in December, the report said.

Meanwhile, the company also plans to process 14.5 million tons of crude oil in December, up 8.1% from a year earlier, the report said.

The price of oil and the Chinese connection

We live in an inter-connected world. There is a tendency to believe that this is a new development, at least for financial markets.

It is not.

Plants, animals feel the heat of global warming, already

More than 3,000 flying foxes dropped dead, falling from trees in Australia. Giant squid migrated north to commercial fishing grounds off California, gobbling anchovy and hake. Butterflies have gone extinct in the Alps. While humans debate at UN climate change talks in Bali, global warming is already wreaking havoc with nature. Most plants and animals are affected, and the change is occurring too quickly for them.

Ireland Goes Green With Light Bulb Rules, Car Tax

Ireland will ban traditional light bulbs in favour of energy-saving alternatives from 2009 and penalise high-emission vehicles from July 2008, Environment Minister John Gormley said on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia, U.S. named the worst 'climate sinners'

The United States and Saudi Arabia are the world's worst "climate sinners," environmental groups said Friday, citing their high and mounting greenhouse gas emissions and inadequate government policies to combat global warming.

Australia was ranked third, but with a caveat: If its decision to sign the Kyoto Protocol is followed up with action, it would quickly fall down the ladder.

Farms face climate devastation

AUSTRALIA could suffer a massive decline in farm production and agricultural export earnings in coming decades unless it can halt climate change or adapt to it, a report to the Federal Government has warned.

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

As the fall-out of the credit crisis spreads ever wider, we look at two issues in particular:

1/ what happens in the rest of the world’s markets
”the Chinese banking system’s bad debt problem is in real terms about five times that of the United States”

2/ the subprime rescue plan from Paulson and the White House

We will be updating this Round-Up throughout the day today.

A question I have been asking off and on for a while. Does is make sense to own residential real estate anywhere, even areas along mass transit lines like Portland, Oregon?

Good question. For me, I decided that 'owning' a couple acres with a poorly built house included made sense. (The house kept the price affordable.) The front lawn is gone, and the backyard will be gone by spring. I'll build a new house someday, even if I have to do it myself.

I've thought about this a lot myself. I think you need to own outright where you live. Make sure it is a place you would want to live for the long haul; you have to live
somewhere and if it is owned outright and can keep up the taxes you can't be
put out on the street.
People comment a lot about being close to work, etc., this is true but there is no guarantee there would be a job to get to. Same with living close to a grocery store, no guarantee there would be groceries there to buy. I would rather have a place with a big yard to plant a garden than someplace where I would have to depend on others totally to live.

I would rather have a place with a big yard to plant a garden than someplace where I would have to depend on others totally to live.

That would tend to put you out in Suburbia or further -- unless you have a lot of money for a giant city lot -- And then the problem starts all over. How do you get from your place to anywhere else?

Who says I need to go anywhere?

Right. Move the mountain to Mohamed.

Where are you going to get coffee?

If payment of taxes is necessary to use the land, the government really owns the land, and is granting you permission to use it. The permission can be revoked at any point. Payment of taxes greatly reduces the risk that the government takes the land you're living on, but does not eliminate the risk.

If you really want to "own" anything, at some point you must be prepared to deal with some other entity's claim to your possessions. Lenders, governments, and the desperate all may have claims to what you have.

Owning land legally in the eyes of the government means at least that taxes are paid. Where does the money come from to pay taxes? The only payment universally accepted for taxes will be legal tender, meaning that the land owner must have income dependent on the external broken system.

How can an individual or group be sustainable or self-sufficient when energy and resources represented as money continually flow out of the group as taxes?

If the answer is, you can't both be sustainable and pay taxes to an external entity, then to "own" land you must also be able to defend any forceful claims against it by the government. A perpetual state of low-level battle readiness may be necessary for this kind of sustainability. The upshot is that it will be much easer to defend claims by the government when it has its hands full with myriad other chaotic problems.

Kentucky Coffee Tree?

Chicory mixed with it and you could come close to cafe au lait.

What did I miss?

Frankly I prefer tea and it can be made from a variety of plants. I like sassafras tea in particular.

airdale-in Kentucky

P.S.And to add to it I used to smoke grapevines. As well as rolled up cornsilk..but tobacco(burley) is easy to grow here. Some like to grow other varieties of smoking products and in fact pot is considered to be the second biggest cash crop here.

P.P.S.I did try some but I didn't inhale...cough cough.

You mean 'residence' as just Owner Occupied, right?

We are, I think in the best position we could be in, with our 3-unit house in a walkable city, close to farmland, Seaport and rail(to some extent) Our two rentals pay the (Not ARM) mortgage completely, leaving us to pay for Heating (!), and our own food, utilities, insurance, daycare, etc..

The threat could be that if housing prices crash, then many renters would look to buy, and the rental market would thin out.. but our apts are decently priced, and well kept up.. unlike so many others in this town.

I'm working to offset heating with solar heat, and always chasing down more insulation, leaks and old windows to replace, but just the fact that our three 'households' share considerable wallspace makes our energy use a good bit more efficient. (In the coldest part of winter, we're burning some 10-12 gallons of oil a day.. divide by three households. I still want to bring it way down from that.)


the fact that our three 'households' share considerable wallspace makes our energy use a good bit more efficient.

A KEY factor !

In the coldest part of winter, we're burning some 10-12 gallons of oil a day

I do not know the details of your situation, but have you considered an undersized ground loop heat pump with "other heat" supplementing that on the coldest days ?

Undersized to keep the initial cost down (large enough for summer a/c at a savings, most (not all) winter days and enough to support 50 F if other heat is out.

I do like the 3 halves approach I suggested for Peabody, MA.

1) Enough ground loop heat pump for 100% of summer a/c. This gives best return on investment. Much easier to install on small lot.

2) Enough high efficiency NG furnace to add heat to heat pump for coldest days. Add small NG wall furnace that can operate w/o electricity for minimal heat. Consider Solar PV enough to run NG furnace fans.

3) Wood stove with outside combustion air, sized to keep house @ 50 F on coldest days.

Play economics with 1, 2 & 3. On mild days, any one will do the job (wood uneven heat). On colder days, optimize. Always keep about a month's worth of wood available.

Your choices may vary.

Best Hopes,


Good Suggestions, Alan. Thanks.

Geothermal is always high on the list, with a plan to run incoming air through a heat-exchanger at the base of the basement walls instead of digging (at first, anyway..)

Woodstove is second on the list, tho' I have to rebuild one of the Building's three 1850's era chimneys which are all unusable at this point. (Would probably use MetalBestos Chimneypipe in a cleared chimney shaft) We do co-own some woodland and so have a ready supply of fuel for this. I would use high-efficiency Masonry Heaters, as I've discussed before.

NG Supply is possibly growing more questionable in Maine, and I would try to look to Solar Hot Water before getting to that as #3


As a matter of fact, the Solar options are #1, and I am covered in sawdust and metal filings as I type, working on one of these projects. Portland can be pretty Windy AND Sunny on our coldest winter days! It's a shame to let that power all run past without grabbing a bunch of it! (And my feet are being warmed by an Electric Space Heater.. at least my shop is also contiguous with the three apartments, and shares its heat with the rest of the house above!


One subtle point is that systems designed for maximum load/coldest day cost significantly more and are generally less efficient operating at "half speed" on more typical cool and cold (but not coldest) days.

The 3 halves approach gets around that issue. A ground loop heat pump may "max out" at a windy 30 F or calm 20 F, but provide most of your heat at much lower temperatures (and operate at maximum efficiency the whole time).

Just Thoughts,


I wonder if a 4 thirds approach might not be what you evolve towards: wood, solar, GHP and natural gas. Each undersized for the maximum coldest day, but any 3 more than enough for comfort on the coldest day if the Maine infrastructure is working properly.

In the hypothetical site where I would like to build a garage apartment as my permanent residence in the Lower Garden District, I have the opposite issue, heating demand is less than cooling demand.

I am contemplating the smallest possible ground loop heat pump (GHP) of 9,000 BTU as my primary winter heat source (ground water 70 F to 72 F for New Orleans) with a natural gas wall heater as back-up/supplement. A wood stove seems unneeded here (with R-50 insulation and some minimal solar gain, interior body heat (me) will keep pipes from freezing), although I am considering enough solar PV to operate GHP in a blackout.

With such warm ground water, a GHP out heats it's nameplate, but under cools.

In summer, I would use GHP plus ductless air source heat pumps (SEER about 20).

Best Hopes,


Our GSHP has two circulation pumps, presumably to help optimize efficiency under variable demand. Still undersized w.r.t. coldest day, but perhaps closer than otherwise.

Rental prices are crashing right now in Riverside, not because "renters would look to buy," but because there are so many vacant homes that the owners are desperate to collect something, anything to help cover their costs.


There's no sure bet out there, and real estate is the most illiquid investment you can make. But ya gotta live somewhere!

I am not proud that I rent but I am glad I do right now!

Maybe I will be able to afford some land when this thing shakes out :)

I dunno PO and everything else throws kinda a damper on everything. I am kinda stuck between a rock and hard place right now :/

The answer is are you willing to live there to live in your home for quality of life or do you intend to flip it to make more money when you sell.

It's all about quality of life, and what your desires are,
most people in America are willing to loose value in a car when they buy it, same goes with a computers, TV’s, etc., are so why they not willing to loose value in a house too?

Yet in the town I live at I raise the question why is Pushy Bully Builders are still coming to the table saying the need to build more houses, they seem to be blind to that we still have 600+ home vacant lots, about 100 vacant homes, 40 +/- retail spots, and not to forget 150 condos vacant too.

I saw a quote someone posted I like.

The market will adjust it's self, but not in a nice way.


If your future vision concludes that cities will remain as centers of commerce, then yes, as there will still be jobs. If your vision is opposite, then no. History shows, however, that cities will continue to exist based upon their geographic assets. London was a huge metropolis long before fossil fuel use started, for example. Same with New York, Boston, Moscow, Oslo, Paris, etc. Will changes occur to these cities as a result of Peak Energy and Climate Change? Yes. In precisely what manner is impossible to tell currently.

Personally, I greatly prefer the Oregon countryside to any urban area. But cities have long been the seats of high culture, which is why I occasionaly visit Portland.

new york and all other mega citys will be abaondoned no if's ands or buts about it. For a good reason as to why look up the book 'the world without us' and replace 'humans just suddenly disapear' with 'can no longer maintin the needed mataince infrastructure'

Absolute statements amuse Absolutely!

Right now I would say emphatically NO, with the exception of property that is grandfathered into property tax freezes like prop 13 in CA and in small cities with private police forces even if they are part of a major metro area.

A little cabin on a large plot of land that's hard to find, away from major population centers in states that have very low population seems relatively safe.

Then again, if they can change contracts in the middle of the game, who knows what else they may want to change. Once government develops this Zimbabwe attitude it's probably better to look for greener pastures.

If you have a friend in the area, you might look into something like the Tumbleweed Homes teeny houses on a trailer approach. Maybe you could park in their backyard and pay them $150 a month or something like that for rent. (Cheaper than property taxes.)

The Tumbleweed Homes are sort of like a trailer really, about the same size, and more expensive. I bet you could think of something better for less $$. In any case, if you got into some kind of home for an outlay of $15,000 up front and $150 a month, that's not bad. You would also be paying much less in utilities, maybe less than your "rent", so there's more savings/independence from money income there.

I think that having enough room for a good garden is important. Generally this means at least a half acre of land if you can get it. If you plan on being a farmer then figure out how to make money at it. Be a real one.

Next owing outright is probably the second most important variable. This may mean a trailer on a acre of land within walking distance of a small town. You can always build a nice home if you have the money.

Finally a pond or at least a well is important.

On the money side I'd always consider that you may be reduced to say 10 dollars a day of income. So think hard about what you could do with 300 a month. How would you live. Can you reduce expenses to the point that this is doable ? Are you diabetic ?

If you do have a medical condition and can still work you may want to think about entering the medical field so you can work in a hospital.

For me at least I like to think about how I'd live in abject poverty and still enjoy life.

I'd garden and fish and I love working with stone.

Now the big issue taxes and more important living in a area where the state and local governments are probably bankrupt.
Just about everywhere in America is in trouble given this but the western states which had bigger housing bubbles are going to have serious problems. Maintaining ownership of anything when your state is bankrupt is a serious concern unless your part of the in crowed. One reason I've personally not rushed off to buy a place even though I'm a admitted doomer is I've very interested in watching how the various states handle the coming financial crunch. The smart move is to downsize until the government can be supported by a depressed local economy. The government has to practice ELP also. I question if states like California and Oregon are going to responsibly downsize the government.

The underlying problem is you can make a lot of money taking over properties for back taxes so even during a depression if your only paying pennies on the dollar for a piece of property you can make money say selling the home for scrap logging the trees and absorbing the land into a larger farm.
Or if its in town converting the property to a rental.
So a government can easily fall into the trap of destroying the community to support itself and a few wealthy insiders.

So I'm waiting to see how various regions will move. So far I'm concerned that Oregon and California will revert to destructive taxation in order to try and keep their governments running. Texas and Florida and most of the East coast are also of concern. I suspect that a lot of people that thought they had everything worked out will find out that everything they have will be lost to the government.

So I'm going to stay a happy renter and try and save money and probably move it to safer accounts soon. And wait till I see a state make a decision to aggressively reduce its government before I buy.

I can answer you some of that from personal experience, having been an apartment dwelling mass transit-er in Portland for six years. Mostly I have the usual caveats about MT - schlupping eight grocery bags in the rain and waiting half an hour. A company I worked for wanted me at a site in Gresham (east of Portland, satellite community). It was a 3/4 mile trek from the nearest line. Another place I was to work at was close to downtown, about a half mile North across the Willamette River - but it was simply impossible for me to get there by bus by 8 AM - and I lived on the east side on 23rd Ave two blocks from one of the primary E/W arteries!

Regarding prices, admittedly I saved a heap over the years, don't know what the monthly passes averaged out to - $50? So perhaps $600/year = $3600 for the duration. You'd spend that much per year on a car.

These are my caveats about MT, you really need to be very close to work and have real job stability, or the system needs to expand a great deal, even from Portland's pretty high standard. I'm also in favor of whatever solution can be implemented in the most simple and fast manner, as I think this will be all we'll have when crunch time happens. Much as I like the idea of a tram line every mile watching the MAX lines being built here was like watching a geriatric snail 10k.

User eastbay has posted some horror stories about the bus and MAX lines at po.com, too. Recently a 71 year old man was beaten with a baseball bat at one of the MAX stops. Time for the formation of community posses.

Something I have not seen talked about anywhere (concerning the sub -prime bail out) is that you are going to see droves of people delibirately defaulting to over 60 days to try and qualify for the bail-out package.


As I understand it...if you're in default, you don't qualify.

This package is not going to help very many people. If you've already missed payments, you're not eligible. If you can afford to pay even when your mortgage resets, you're not eligible.

Basically, this is triage, and designed to help as few people as possible. It's for people who can afford their mortgages now, but won't be able to afford them when they reset.

There will probably be more bailout plans coming, but for now - there's zero incentive to default.

It seems like a very carefully planned attempt to make it look as if they're doing something, but not actually do anything of meaning. Which basically fits m.o. of this administration.

Substrate nails it - a lot of noise and posturing but no real plan and actually its something the government can not and should not touch.

But that has never stopped Bush before ... can't wait to see Congress in general and Republicans in particular explain this one ...

I leaned on the editorial staff here at howstuffworks.com to put up a peak-oil article.

I provided alot of information / explanations to them.

Here is what they came up with:


I couldn't make it to page two : - (

Yeah.. it is frustrating...

This is the problem with educating people about energy. It is extremely complex and the facts can't compete with all the PR noise.

People just don't have the attention span to sit down and really analyze the data. Also, negative information just doesn't seem to register with most people I talk to.

Probably for every 10 people I try to educate, 7 blow me off entirely, 2 listen to what I say but get distracted by whatever they read in wired magazine and 1 actually gets it and wants to know more.

This peak oil stuff is really taking a toll on my social standing though. Increasingly higher percentages of my aquaintences question my sanity.

It's time for you to question the sanity of your aquaintences.

And 1 in 10 to get it is a high score.


I have worked really hard to get my success rate up to around 10%.

What I have really concentrated on is presenting the strongest hitting argument with the least number of words.

The more conversations I have with people, the more refined my arguments have become.

I preach peak oil to almost everyone I meet.. Fortunately, I have a supportive wife who is also a believer :)

My wife and I do not preach. Our friends and co-workers and family know what we think. A few are starting to look over their shoulders now, wondering - "what if he is right?". There will come a time when some can no longer ignore what they see happening, and then they may remember what I've told them. And perhaps by this means they will be slightly better prepared to accept the reality, and then move to the next step of acting.

Sometimes I worry though - what if they come back to me, hoping that will know what to tell them to do? Because about all that I can tell them is to keep their eyes open, think for themselves, and learn to accept change - and WesTexas's advice of ELP. It's not much.

"But I don't want to be among mad people, " Alice remarked.
"Oh, but you can't help that," said the Cat; "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." ~~ Lewis Carroll

This peak oil stuff is really taking a toll on my social standing though. Increasingly higher percentages of my aquaintences question my sanity.

This is for you, and all of us here at TOD and all PO Peakniks who are trying to "Swim Up Stream" at this time. Making our own Preps, and trying to awaken others.

Here's Friday's poem for US. WE must keep our sanity thru this "Transition". This may help.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
--Rudyard Kipling


Nice one, John. Thanks.


Here's a more intense poem that has a similar message. Is the Oil Drum readership past a hundred thousand yet? :-)

Each Day, One More

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

From The Moon Is Always Female, by Marge Piercy

Not sure why (different population ?), but I get a VERY different response to Peak Oil outreach.

Yesterday, I went to visit my ophthalmologist (I have early stage macular degeneration) who just got elected to the Louisiana State Senate (part of the post-K citizen involvement, his first elected office). He was quite interested and wanted links.

Likewise, last night I went to a local documentary about a struggled couple, Jon & Gypsy Lou Webb, who, using a hand press, published the Outsider and broke Charles Bukowski (beat poet, Poet laureate of Skid Row) into the wider public.

Gypsy Lou Webb was there, and in struggling circumstances (a New Orleans collector sold his collection of their Loujon Press (he financed one run and got 35 copies of that run plus others) for $150,000 and gave it to her. Another recent New Orleanian (ties to movie business) offered her a place to live for the rest of her life in the French Quarter (she was a once prominent street personality there).

I had meet the recent New Orleanian at Mardi Gras and again at the reception @ Upperline Restaurant (Old friend of Gypsy Lou owns restaurant, just bought a painting of French Qtr personalities that featured Gypsy Lou prominently).

At the reception we talked and he also was quite interested and wanted Peak Oil links.

Best Hopes for New Orleans :-)


Upperline Restaurant


One of my all time favorites!

Best hopes for being able to figure out their secret crabcake recipe. ;o)


"(I have early stage macular degeneration)"

I just wanted to offer this. While your sight may suffer as the days pass, it is certain beyond doubt your vision will remain sharp and clear no matter your sight.

Best hopes you enjoy many years of sight while we enjoy many years of your vision no matter the outcome. :)


for the kind words and uplifting thoughts,


The majority of consumers reject anti-ethanol propaganda:

The majority of consumers reject evolution.

The bandwagon just ran out of gas.

The only times I have received poll telephone calls is when I had a land-line telephone. Oh wait, I still have one, but I almost NEVER use it, and the ringer is ALWAYS off. This is one thing I hate about polls, as only people with too much time on their hands who are AT HOME answer these things. Now, the only reason we have a land line is for our security system, and considering that there's now cell-phone backup for the thing, there's no point in having a land line at all.

I haven't reguluarly used a land line outside of a business environment in over 10 years.

The majority of consumers have forgoten that they are citizens...not consumers. Too bad.

Right. From the same articles-- Science obviously can't trump public opinion, which apparently is the arbiter of true reality--

There are other concerns about cellulosic ethanol, as well. Some believe the claims of its potential are too rosy, based on studies which demonstrate that cellulosic ethanol doesn't have the energy ratio other studies purport. But these studies are fewer in number -- and receive far less attention -- than those which demonstrate switchgrass' potential. And if funding and public opinion are indicators for progress, it looks like switchgrass ethanol is a go.

So much more switchgrass mass can be grown on marginal land -- but isn't most of the mass water? Where is that going to come from on the "marginal lands?"

The 2005 North Dakota study, mentioned before, showed a yield of around seven tons of switchgrass per acre. And switchgrass doesn't require the best soil to grow well. It can be grown on land not currently used for crops.

And switchgrass doesn't require the best soil to grow well. It can be grown on land not currently used for crops.

And the reason that the land isn't being used for crops? Let me guess, swampy wetlands, rugged hilly terrain with great erosion, wildlife refuges and nature preserves, you get the picture. If land is worth farming at a reasonable cost it usually is. Moreover, there is no free lunch. Harvesting with no return of organic material to replenish the soil will eventually wear it out. May take a while but it will happen.

And it also seems to grow well because it is not harvested. The dead grass decomposes in place fertilizing the soil for next year's growth. Once they start harvesting from those marginal soils I suspect that yields will plummet.

The majority of consumers reject anti-ethanol propaganda:


The suck-the-public-teat ethanol troll strikes early today.

hee he yeah ... it seems most people support this statement

Survey Statement:

It is important that the government requires cleaner and more efficient energy sources.

Who could disagree?

It is an example of a survey that is conducted to "achieve" the correct answer.. and thus hardly worth anything at all

Over 70 % of the responders didn't know what E85 was, I would have liked to have seen a question about ethanol affecting food prices but a pro-ethanol group wouldn't be asking that question, eh.

goghgoner , exactly my point
Your rephrasing of the question would have turned the answers upside-down, and punched this ethanol-gang where it hurts the most

I'd like to see a thread on how ethanol affects
RBOB Gasoline EIA Inventory Levels.

As in, when does 4 million bbls of added Inventory
include ethanol and how much ethanol can be in RBOB
before NYMEX stops calling it gasoline.

People accustomed to thinking critically might disagree, depending on what is meant by the words important, government, requires, cleaner, more efficient, etc. This should not come as a surprise to us here.

But the general public has difficulty with thinking outside the box.

But the general public has difficulty with thinking outside the box.

The general public has difficulty thinking, period.

I stumbled upon this article about population pressure and war while looking at the alma mater's website...Stoneleigh's 11/21/07 roundup had a New Scientist article based on the same research, but this press release provides some interesting details:

Climate Change Triggers Wars and Population Decline

Phil Flim from Alaron is the poster child for 2 pots of coffee a day. He is a peak oil denier and therefore I question is intellectual fiber and as a trader I discount his guidance by what his position is. Granted he has been a bull but why turn negative now? Do any of these people moving millions maybe billions of dollars around really understand the fundamentals of the complex. After being around the the commodities markets for 30 years I continue to believe most don't.

You cannot be as close to TPTB as Flynn
and give the unvarnished truth.

The Employment Index is useless/dead.

2008 will be the year of Peak Oil realization and when recession and permanent depression begin. Then, the public will begin to look for answers. The public believes deeply that we can find ways to continue along the same path, and our presidential candidates are all parroting the same bankrupt themes: harness the wind, biofuels, nuclear, and the solar fix. Chris Shaw sums it up:

"In the (alas, too few) years to come, we will see great argument over the proper allocation of dwindling oil reserves. It will be realised that other sources of energy cannot deliver sufficient surpluses to replace the potent portable energy we know as gasoline and diesel. It is not generally understood that poorer quality energy sources can be critically dependent on oil for their extraction, processing and distribution. In other words, oil is the precursor for other sources of energy; gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydro, because these require oil fuel to create and maintain infrastructure. It also gives them the illusion of being profitable."

And Shaw asks: "Shall we empty the treasury into the bog in order to get a little more traction?" (his quicksand article)

There are many who want to empty the treasury on pipe dreams, and so we will. Maybe we will have a Manhatten project so we can generate projects that will only serve to accelerate terminal depletion. It looks like the quicksand option will win out. All of the current presidential candidates are promising us solutions, and a quicker terminal depletion.


Treasury empty now.

Including Ft Knox.

Wizards, as in OZ, Financial, Spells, are included in three
Money sites this AM.

As well as Magic:

George Ure-

OK, now the tough questions: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are (ready for a bell laugh?) 7,562,00 people working in Construction jobs. (ROFLMAO)

But wait! It gets even better: Click over to this month's CES Birth-Death Model figures and get out your calculator. Ready? Go to the line that says Construction. I can't stand it! Where's the Mogambo Guru when I need his sage counsel? The BLS folks say straight-faced that 147,000 new construction jobs have been created since the beginning of this year!

A reasonable person might ask something like this: "How can you have 147,000 more jobs created in an industry which has experienced huge and widespread layoffs? Or, you could just smile safely knowing it's the...

And scorcery:

Martin Weiss-

But now, let's say you own some of these hard-to-name, impossible-to-value CDOs that are causing so much grief to investors today. You can't find it on the Web. You can't ask your broker what's happening. The only way you can determine its value is to take the plunge and dump it on the market at whatever price it'll fetch.

That's the situation investors are facing with level three assets right now:

Thousands of local governments, banks and individuals have no idea of exactly when, where or how much they're losing. And it is this unusual level of uncertainty that's creating the conditions for a money panic.

What about the Treasury's efforts to freeze that rate of interest on these investments in order to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure? That just adds still more uncertainty, throwing not only the value but also the yield on these securities into question.

Look. I've been screaming "Bloody murder!" about these assets since they were first created. My father did the same before me. But no one would listen. And now, I'm concerned that it could be too late.

Some of Wall Street's Largest Firms Have More
Level Three Assets Than They Have Capital

And Mike

Luckymojo even provides an optional prayer that can be recited during the ceremonial burying of St. Joseph:

Saint Joseph, I am going to place you
in a difficult position
with your head in darkness
and you will suffer as our Lord suffered,
until this [house/property] is sold.

Then, Saint Joseph, I swear
before the cross and God Almighty,
that I will redeem you
and you will receive my gratitude
and a place of honor in my home.

Following the prayer, the supplicant takes the statue of Saint Joseph and plugs him into the ground upside down and waits for the phone to start ringing. Who needs a realtor anyway? “If there's no yard, then dig a hole in a large potted plant.” St. Joe won't mind. All of this can be done without chanting, amulets, prostrations, or messy sacrificial animals.

It's worth a shot.

I doubt if it ever comes to PO realization. A depression will certainly prevent that. Anyway, PO realization will only happen after all "above ground factors" are settled and obviously geological contraints limit our supply, i.e. never.

The public must have answers, and so they will. The house painter from Braunau, Austria emerged from nowhere and led the world to a totally insane answer to the wrong question. How will this generation proceed? The media is now so much more sophisticated than what Hitler and his legions had to work with, yet people's brains are just as impressionable, and therefore so much more easily duped.

The scapegoating has already started -- those immoral folks who took out sub-prime mortgage loans, the Iranians, most of the Iraqis, always the Chinese, and now once again, the Russians.

Robert Heinlein's vision of a lockdown "Christian" fundamentalist state seems closer than ever to reality -- at least in the U.S. and much of Western Europe.

I'm thinking that Darwin is about to be proved correct once again. A species that deliberately destroys itself is hardly a candidate for evolutionary success.

especailly when the top news story this morning on npr was the whole hoopla over the golden compus movie.

....where they have to adapt the book to the movie in such a manner as to not insult the Catholic faith.

nah if they did that they would have to do allot more then just change purpose the main bad guy group. Still though forceing them to do it by making them fear a backlash is a form of the bad kind of censorship.

Have you ever been to western Europe? I haven't, but from what I read they aren't infested with their own equivalent of the disloyal Christian Right the way the United States is ...

To all the American guys on TODS.
Actual facts from Europe from an Italian citizen:
Italy: 95 % nominally catholics, but ONLY 5 % bother to get to weekly services regularly (mandatory in our faith, deadly sin not to do so). Most go only on Xmas eve cos it's cool.
Britain (I lived there for three years). Nominally anglican (the queen is also the head of the Church) , in real terms AN ATHEIST STATE. I mean it. God is NEVER talked in any political / moral / economical / social issue on the news and public debates. It would be considered racist, cos a great part of the public is meant to be agnostic / atheist / buddist / muslim / whatever BUT Christian. And it really is so.
Germany: most of local churches ON SALE for they are not being used at all any more and are crumbling. They will be converted in stores / whatever before they fall off completely.
Faith, ANY faith, is considered a private issue, exactly like everyone's sex life for example, and the few trying to influence public life on its ground are mostly dismissed.
As a result, for example, same sex marriage and sometimes even adoption are spreadly allowed (as in UK/ Spain / Norway / Sweden / France / netherlands / Germany etcetera) in the total indifference of the whole populace.

As Pope Johm Paul II correctly (at least once!!) used to say, Western Europe is a de facto POST - CHRISTIAN CONTINENT. Truest definition of Europe indeed.
Despite that, we are enjoying the wealthier and happier time in our 27 century long history.

Want my explanation? Europe was flattened only 60 years ago by an evil regime and a world war fought on our awesome continent. Millions of civilians died in a few years. No God came to stop it. He didn't care. Hence we don't care about Him any more.
Maybe the US will be a post-christian continent after Peak Oil hits :-)

According to Mitt Romney, Europe is not free!

The GOP's definition of freedom is limited to the free market. Just look at the Patriot Act.

Putin solved the problem in Russia taking out less then a dozen thieves. Looks like the military and intelligence communities pretty much contained the Christian Zionists in a box now. All we need now is the right leader.

Well, doesn't look like it will be Kasparov. Putin found a way to through this threat in prison.

or e.g. Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale"

Actually, if you are referring to the person who I think that you are referring to, he was an artist/painter - not a house painter. I don't know why these little untruths become repeated so often that they get incorporated into peoples' perception of reality.


Sorry -- maybe he was an artist who painted houses? Does't really matter, though, IMHO. The real point is that what Hitler was able to accomplish was made possible by plenty of help from the religious establishment, as well as the presumably secular media.

From Juan Cole today...

Mitt Romney's speech in Texas on Thursday was supposed to be an attempt to fend off religious bigotry. Instead, it betrays some prejudices of its own (against secular people), and seems to provoke others to bigotted statements. It has been likened to the speech of John F. Kennedy on his Catholicism. But we knew John F. Kennedy, and Mitt Romney is no John F. Kennedy. Kennedy strongly affirmed the separation of religion and state. Romney wants to dragoon us into a soft theocracy (not as a Mormon but as a Republican allied to the Pat Robertsons of the world). Kennedy wanted to be accepted as an American by other Americans. Romney wants to be accepted as a conservative Christian by other conservative Christians.

Hey, TOD-ers!

As you may recall, I've been triking around Minneapolis for the past 7+ years on Organicengines SUVs-- using pedals and me for the engine.

I've peddled myself and my kids, groceries, and my tools and supplies for work as a "sustainable household helper." (That's cleaner, care-giver for kids, elderly, and all-around handyman -- all with concern first and foremost for the environment.)

Now my body and my workload are telling me that it is time to get a non-human motor. I want to go electric, and to get more weather protection for me and my cargo.

So I am looking at the following vehicles right now:


The e-ride trucks look great, but are a bit pricey, starting at about $17,500!


The Zap Xebra is a great little vehicle. I test drove one and the MSRP is better -- $11,200.


I test drove a little Zenncar -- nice in a way, but only 13 cubic feet of real cargo space. With prices ranging from about $14,000 to $17,500, they are cute and cool, but maybe not for my needs...


The GemCars are nice, and vary in price from about $10,000 to $20,000 depending on what you get. For my utility truck needs, I might spend $17,000 on one of these.

I really like the little ZAP Xebra, and the price is right. With an upgrade to the tires, I can carry heavier loads than with the standard tires ZAP sells.

So, any reflections or advice regarding these?

I'm taking a poll, please participate!

Do you "like" the E-ride, the Zap Xebra, the Zenncar, or the GemCar?

Any comments about cost-effectiveness, utility, energy and environmental impact -- and all-around attractiveness of the vehicles is very welcome!

They're cute! But outside special purposes where exhaust pollution is a problem, I can't see the point. Something like the E-Ride with a Briggs & Stratton 15hp engine would seem to make more sense providing the fuel usage and power was acceptable.

I know many will disagree, but what I would like to see is something akin to the old utility vehicles (like the old Citroens), but built using modern engineering standards and materials with efficient engines (say 1ltr/100km). The first cars had something like 1hp engines and 5mile range, it seems electric cars aren't much different to the early cars in some ways. Why not just use the electric car body and stick some kind of micro FF engine in it. Blasphemy I know. But when I look at the electric vehicles they seem to be quite useless for most tasks.

I think there is a place for electric vehicles. I remember the the milk being delivered in electric milk floats and even electric buses (using overhead cables). But not as general purpose vehicles.

"But when I look at the electric vehicles they seem to be quite useless for most tasks."

But what tasks? I watch hundreds of cars going across the Casco Bay Bridge into Portland every morning with ONE person in each one. Think of the thousands of gallons that one commute must consume every day. Getting a few bags of groceries, dropping the kid at daycare.. how many horses does that really require?

As was mentioned on the 'How Big is your Bike?' thread the other day, an advantage of E-bikes (and NEV cars) being established within the traffic structure, is that this will go hand-in-hand with the kind of traffic modifications that would be useful for bike lanes as well. The challenge isn't designing a bunch of vehicles that you can pedal and run electric to get through almost all of your commute and errand-miles, but just using that vehicle without the dinosaurs running you down.


Bob, as I pointed out in other posts I don't believe personal transport as it is now has a future. Personal journeys will have to move to public transport. So when I talk about tasks, I'm talking about moving goods, produce and passengers.

When I was young I used to go to the shops for my mother, everything was within walking distance. The town centre was one mile away for those items not available locally and public transport was available if required. Shops would also deliver if required by bike. People used to walk to work also as most employment was local. I guess this is what we will be doing in the future.

That leaves us with goods, produce and public transport. Like I said, I believe that there is a place for EVs (I could say the same about the horse and cart), but they should be something like the ones in this link:


I rule nothing out, but still believe FFs are the best for most of the medium duty tasks. Besides a mass move to EVs would obviously be too much for an electric grid that's already struggling. We need to transition with what we have and if, as I suspect, we suffer financial meltdown, we'll have no choice.

The milk floats were cool!

One advantage of NEVs is that they are small and very efficient.

The electric motor is more energy efficient than an ICE.

The ICE wastes most of its energy by generating heat that we do not use.

The electric motor on a small, slow, neighborhood vehicle is so much more efficient that even if the electricity comes from a coal plant, the NEV puts out far less GHGs per mile than an ICE vehicle.

The best part of this for me is that the electricity can come from multiple sources. Eventually I'd like to install a solar array to charge an NEV plus some electric power tools.

Not perfect, but concrete, real steps that I am trying.

I have designed my life and business so that I can survive without an ICE car. I go a few miles a day -- almost always under 20 miles. I carry some weight, I need a bit more speed than I can manage with the cargo trike, and I need to conserve my energy and -- over the long haul -- my body!

An NEV seems like a reasonable choice for my kind of "local" lifestyle.

None of those you've listed seem particularly well suited to your tasks except the GEM truck. It's more of a truck thingy, though and I don't think the bed is well planned out. The city here has a couple of them. (There seems to be one for about $7,000 used HERE ).

IIRC you're a "handyman" which should mean you're more mechanically and electrically inclined than most people. I would consider looking for a Chevy LUV, or old S10 (same thing really, just different name)...one of those older small trucks before they got bloated. If their gas engines work you might as well run them until they quit because they get pretty good mileage, and when you're ready you can convert them to electric. They have an honest frame you can hang the batteries from. Put in a tilt bed option and you'd have easy access to the batteries.

I can remember home delivery of milk here in the US, whish we could have it back again!

Has anyone done any sort of analysis on the pros vs cons of delivery vs everyone buying at the store? If home delivery is not going to actually cut down any trips to the store, I would imagine that the energy savings just wouldn't be there to justify it. However, milk (and other dairy goods) are among the most perishable of grocery items; if one could get those delivered to home, then perhaps one could cut down their shopping trips. Any thoughts?

I walk 2.5 blocks to Zara's grocery, which gets it's milk from Brown's Dairy, 7 blocks away. Brown's dairy gets raw milk from local farmers AFAIK.

We have high enough density to justify corner grocery stores.

Best Hopes,


"Besides a mass move to EVs would obviously be too much for an electric grid that's already struggling."

Perhaps, but that's not what I'm doing by advocating for EV's.. If I want a mass move to anything, it's bicycles (and Sneakers). Everything else constitutes BB's. Of course for PV to even make it to a decent BB status, it does mean a pretty massive buildout of that manufacturing technology, but that seems to be happening on it's own, owing I have to believe to the actual functionality and other benefits of that technology.

I don't know how many times I've had to throw that disclaimer onto statements here. But as soon as you say a tool is good and workable, the calculators come flying out, not to see 'how many we CAN build', but how it doesn't possibly divide into '6 billion suburbanites' rushing headlong into the city to their saprophytic desk job.

Who at this site (including Antidoomer) is advocating for Business as Usual? I don't think anyone is..

Anyway.. time to put my contraband Incandescent light-string on my 'Family Tree', so I can mount the next wave of attacks on the Evil Christmas!

( I did make a wicked 'Fake-fire' this week from a bunch of LED Candles inserted into the cups of a Silver-painted Egg Carton. Flickers real nice, and it's deliciously artificial!)

Ho, Ho, Ho..!

Bob, the AV-club Elf

Hear hear!

Too much of this electro-car stuff is about scoring enviro-style points rather than any functional utility. If you need -- genuinely need, as many do -- carrying capacity, four wheel stability, protection from inclement weather/cold and all the other advantages of proper automobiles as opposed to bikes etc., then why not go with a SMALL internal combustion engine. The technology is well refined, relatively cheap, and of course fossil fuels have spectacular energy/weight ratio. Something with a 5-20hp motor would be fine.

Actually, if you used the 150 mpg Loremo (20hp diesel) as a hauler, by taking out the front passenger and rear seat, you'd probably have quite a bit of room in there.

The Japanese mini-trucks, which are common throughout Asia, are also a decent off-the-shelf solution. They have 600cc engines, good for about 40hp, and get probably 50mpg. They have four-wheel drive and cost about $9,000.

If you reduce fuel use by 5/6ths, for example going from 25mpg to 150 mpg, that is functionally almost the same as reducing fuel use by 6/6ths, ie using no fuel at all.

I recently learned that the Aptera doesn't really get 230mpg, it's more like 130mpg on the gasoline engine alone. At this point, I'd opt for the Loremo for lower cost, less complexity, and more traditional styling.

With that said, I am still a supporter of trains for all regular travel. In a train-based city, autos and trucks are used primarily for commercial uses, whether for hauling significant loads or possibly taxis.

The US retail system is set up for personal automobile use. In train-based cities, where people can't carry large loads for long distances, you tend to get much more distributed retail. There's a small store every few blocks, and it is typical to shop for groceries 4-7 times a week. For the rare large-sized purchase, like furniture or a refrigerator, delivery services are readily available.

Most people who don't need carrying capacity for their work (such as a contractor might) have virtually no need for carrying capacity at all.

Go on eBAY (Yes the evil website) and look for used (realize transportation costs to you),
GEM seems like an easy upgrade to better batteries when available (pod on back).

Best Hopes for non-Oil Transportation,


I'll check eBay out! I'm checking locally for used Gems as well. Not many in MN, yet.

Hi Beggar.
I posted this Tuesday, but in case you missed it, a friend in LA reviewed a bunch of PHEV's and EV's (I think) at an Alt Auto Symposium in Anaheim this week. Seems to have really looked at these choices, so you might find some useful info there.


Bob Fiske

Thanks Bob. I did like Envision's solar Life Port -- a garage with a solar array to power a household and an NEV.

I had no idea there were so many options for electric trucks. The e-ride sure looks the "toughest" to me. I bet it would handle the snowy roads well too. That would be my pick, but it is also appears to be the most pricey. I didn't compare all the specs between the EV's, but that e-ride sure looks like a nice ride to me.

Have you considered electrifying your bike? You can convert it for less than $500. That wouldn't solve the issue of weatherizing yourself and your tools, but it might buy you some time until you make your decision about your electric vehicle.

Get a horse!

I am glad you are proposing some solutions, and not just saying any of the tools others suggest 'won't do it all, so don't waste your money'.. But really, are you suggesting that using a Horse for transportation in Minneapolis (St Paul?) today is a practical solution? Come on, man. YOU get a horse in New Hampshire and tell me how it works out.

I don't hate horses, nor do I hate your concern that we're facing a herculean challenge.. but we've got a journey of a thousand miles ahead of us, and nobody in town is selling bags of oats yet. What do you see as the 'First Steps' on that journey? Really. Sincere Question.

Bob Fiske

'Oh, the Mainer and New Hampshire can be friends!'
- From the new Musical, 'O-new-hampshire!'

"and nobody in town is selling bags of oats yet."

You're in the wrong town! They sell 'em right here in small town NH, USA. In fact, I'm just in from giving a ration of oats to the old gray mare... she who helps me get my firewood in from the woods.

One little step at a time...

One difficulty with using horses as widespread transportation is the waste issue (otherwise known as horse shit). The manure piles needed when they are in widespread use in urban centers are a health hazard because of the numerous bacteria including e-coli. IIRC in New York prior to the automobile they had to have a manure pile every ten blocks. In that respect, the advent of cheap automobiles actually improved environmental quality. This is unless of course you could come up with a sanitary way to dispose of the waste.

Frankly, I wasn't thinking of urban centers, at all. :-)

The "sanitary" way to dispose of the waste is to put it back on the fields. My one horse (admittedly a large one) powers a lot of gardens around here, with fantastic results.

There's pollution, and there's pollution.

Waste issue!? Waste!!

That's primo fertiliser you're thinking of.

They might be selling them, but I haven't seen anything climb in retail price like oats.

Last year I bought local oats at $100-120/ton, depending on when I bought. This year I can't find local oats in bulk, and bagged local oats now are at 16.60/80 lb bag at the feed store. Local bagged ran $8-9 last year, had seen them at 12 early in the fall.

Well, I've no doubt I actually Could buy oats and other feed here in Portland, of course.. it was more of an infrastructure comment, as I'm sure you know.

There certainly will be folks who could use Four-leggeds right away (and some do, I'm sure) for their transport needs, but it's hard enough to find enough Bike-Racks around an American City today.. but there are truly VERY few hitching posts and watering troughs available, plus the rebuild of your garage, if you are so lucky as to have one into a stable with room for tools, harnesses and hay, would possibly tip the scales of the percieved advantages over just running an EV for 4-8 years.. and that's before the Vet bills.

'Clif has given this board a fine workover for a couple weeks now, pulling the 'That won't work' response to any number of thoughts and proposals, but if he's going to insist that 'we don't need to invest in unsupportable fantasies like electric transport' or solar or windpower, then I have to ask just what he's thinking of that strikes HIM as truly practical and reasonable steps to start A)mitigating our current dependency on transp fuels and B)changing our habits and expectations that are all entangled with this energy use. Putting Horses into the Metropolitan Traffic scheme doesn't get this off to a good start.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, it may have been a snark, and he doesn't feel Beggar's request is answerable in any sense. Or he was just 'trying it on for size'.. that would be fair. I'm all for brainstorming.. as long as you are also willing to evaluate the 'notions' that come up with an eye for the facts on the ground. (And the work required to deal with the other stuff on the ground, as would be another of Many issues with keeping horses.)

there are truly VERY few hitching posts and watering troughs available

A fair number of hitching posts left in my neighborhood, along with marble steps to enter a carriage more easily.

Watering troughs only in the French Quarter though.

Best Hopes for Equines,


Hi Bob in Portland,

The first step is for all of us to realize that within a few years (Jeffery Brown Export Land Model indicates oil imports are gone in 9 years) the economy will begin to change radically and it won't be too long until the power grid is out. Planning ahead means getting an animal power economy in place for the future. How will we move anything when we have no energy? This is a job for state and local government. I've been in communication with the Maine Planning Department and offered to give a free presentation on Peak Oil, to get the education started. They were talking about an early December date, but I've not heard back. How to do this major change in the economy? State and local government and the County Extension Service. As for cheap transportation today, I've got a 2000 Chevy Metro hatchback with 26,000 miles, 50 MPG highway, immaculate for sale $6,200. Last February I flew to Oregon from NH to get it, now moving to Mexico to survive and must sell it, says she who must be obeyed (my wife, not mother nature). Cliff in Manchester, NH.

"...and it won't be too long until the power grid is out. "

I guess that is the point where our predictions part ways. Even if we suffer some MINDBOGGLING grid failures, I don't for 500milliseconds believe that we will turn our backs on the electron, or on the advantages of connecting multiple generators together.

Sure it might change form pretty substantially. You may very well find remote towns and collections of homes that have gotten cut off kludging or buying off-the-shelf 'Neighborhood Grid' systems, so that the three families that have good windtowers can help support the others that only have a little PV or microhydro, but occasionally need to run a tablesaw, etc..

Aside from a grid-system that parallels an electric railway, it's not hard to envision the cabling of a given highway, and having 'Electric Semi Tractor-trailers and work trucks', so that certain city-to-city corridors can be hybridized, and maintained by electric vehicles. It sounds very Buck Rogers, I'm sure, but I'm talking 19th century technology here.

With the wakeup call thats slowly getting people (like you and I) out of the Rumplestiltkin Drowse of the 20th century, there will be a lot of creativity borne of need, of fear and of basic human drive that will be applying the tools we already have to our upcoming situation with more awareness of the need for efficiency, economy and durability.

You say we'll have 'No Power', which is inaccurate from the get-go, but in addition to the 'dwindling' legacy power sources, we'll also have the power of enormous numbers of people, both for simple power (ie, biking to work, doing more physical work) which no doubt sounds to most of us immediately like 'slavery'.. and why wouldn't it?.. and Original Thinking, which unlike some folks at this site, I have no worry is still available to the Milk-fed westerners who have grown so soft in our little cages, or to the rest of the people on the planet..

A few good ideas can be transmitted to and implemented by millions upon millions of people. Of course, a few Bad ideas can do the same thing. So here's to having an eye for telling the one from the other, or knowing how to test them and find out!


now moving to Mexico

would you mind to give a hint or two why that's a better place to survive?

most areas are not good, only in few places, average temp 19.2 C, 2000 cm rain, all year long 1 hour per day, 3 growing seasons, rich land, ag economy, global warming and rainfall ok to 2100, and good politics for organization for self-defense. I know what I'm doing.

thanks! you must have looked long and hard on this.

good politics for organization for self-defense.

can you explain? i am not quite follow on this point. will you be living among the locals or having a community of your own?

I'm not happy with any of these vehicles right now because they have no economies of scale. It's hard to build a monocoque body without an advanced factory, but it's the only way to get the weight down and still pass a crash test.

However, there might be another approach to an electric car.


This is the website of Coveland Motors, which makes Lotus Super Seven kits in the US, and also imports them from Britain. As you can see from this price list, you can buy one of their sturdy tube frames and then strip a normal car of its parts to complete the kit.

Since this is a serious high-performance vehicle, it is built to standards way ahead of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. However, this is the outline of how you can make a car that's not a lot more complicated than a horse-drawn carriage.


There is far less energy content in this steel frame than in a factory-produced monocoque. The British best-seller "Build Your Own Sports Car for 250 Pounds" described how to weld one in a garage.

The aluminum and fiberglass parts could be replaced by wood, as they were in the past.

You only make as much of the car's interior as you need.

There is a school of thought that the best way to prevent accidents is to avoid them. Even with skinny low-resistance tires, this car is going to way outhandle a Zap Xebra.

The driver sits so low in the frame that he is mostly surrounded by steel tubes, which I find reassuring.

Alternatively, the company offers the Lightweight kit, which consists of laser-cut aluminum panels that the buyer rivets together without welding. This is a monocoque, and saves a hundred pounds or more. However, bauxite takes a lot of energy to process, so this one is contingent on our still being able to recycle aluminum.

Recently, I noticed an e-bay auction where Coveland was offering a version of the Lightweight kit with many of the suspension pieces included but no motor. It stated this was developed in response to many inquiries from electric car builders and others. So something is happening here.

If Cuba can keep a bunch of full-size Buicks running under a 50-year trade embargo and a 15-year oil lockout, I think we will make the effort to scavenge the useless ICE cars and golf cart motors around us for quite a lot longer.

Maybe that's why Number Six owned one.

You've probably seen this, it's been posted enough here.


At the end of the strip, John drives his reconverted solar MG sports car that is licensed for highway use today. I keep going back in my head on that one-having the pv panels on board and generating as you drive.

Some good considerations.

A couple points.

but it's the only way to get the weight down and still pass a crash test.

This reminded me of something I have often thought about.
I think whether a car passes inspection will not be a Deterrent to people from driving or riding most anything.

Most towns won't have the budget to chase those folks. Now if you shot someone then... but less than that, 'your on your own' may be the way of the land.

Those laws will only be enforced in urban areas if at all. In the country, I think you will see most everything.
(Like that vehicle that keeps going across the intersection in the movie The Mexican).

another, point

If Cuba can keep a bunch of full-size Buicks running under a 50-year trade embargo and a 15-year oil lockout, I think we will make the effort to scavenge the useless ICE cars and golf cart motors around us for quite a lot longer.

I would have said chevy... but I digress, I think the reuse and Scrounging may be as common as going to the mall today. Flea Markets and such. And boy oh boy the things you will see for sale will be amazing. Many things Deconstructed and sold.

But there are some INGENOUS people out there. (Hang out at www.fieldlines.com for a while), I see a resurgence of interest in uncomplicated cars. Like pre-70's The electronics of today is a luxury of the modern global supply chains. Special parts that come only from one or two companies in the world are used with no concern because they are as easy to order as something next door. The parts of most complicated things we have today(ie cars etc) are sourced all over.

The new mantra of building things will be;

Simple Engineering Is Great Engineering


Thanks for the link to Fieldlines. There is some really interesting stuff there!


Thanks :-)

Here some more links.

Pick up Hugh's book if nothing else. $20+
(From a Car's Disk Brake rotor !!)

How to Build a Wind Turbine


Take a stroll thru a few of these and see what's happening out there in peoples garages and worksheds.


18' Wincharger / Axial Hybrid - (Heating hot water)

VAWT windmill

Personal Power is the future.

A Super 7? I love 'em, but how many Americans do you think could fit in one? And really, I can fit more in my pocket than you can in a 7!

I think the e-ride EVX and ZAP Truck XL are pretty close in concept to what I'd like. They would be useful on and about a small farm, and would be fine for transporting goods to and from a nearby town. And they could get you to the nearby train station (like we'll really rebuild those). Not fast, but a fair sight better than carrying it yourself.

But I would have doubts about the structure of the e-ride, and frankly I'm still not convinced that a 40hp diesel wouldn't be a better bet.

Oh, and I find the idea of an electric version of a British sports car amusing - the electrics were the part that didn't work! A Lucas EV anyone?

Well, at least we won't have to suffer with the Amal, er, air-fuel mixture devices. Calling them carbs is too generous...

Much of the space in a Super 7 is taken up by putting its engine so far back from the front end. With an electric conversion, you only have a motor behind the seat, or mounted where the brakes go. So you can push the firewall forward and install a trunk.

All the modern kits seem to be giving into the fatness of current Anglo-Americans by widening the frame, including the Lightweight sold by Covington. My personal preference would be for staggered seating, with the driver's seat a foot ahead of the passenger to increase elbow room.

Of course, we might be getting thinner in the future.

Thanks to all for the various comments!

I think that the GemCar has been around the longest of the vehicles I am looking at, has the widest distribution so far, and has the deepest pockets backing it.

I called my insurance agent, who stated flatly that they do not insure electric cars. Apparently Liberty Mutual's underwriting department does not know what to do with them.

The guys at Cushman Motors told me that Farmers or State Farm have insured them.

I also stopped by a local insurance brokers office, and he was quite helpful. He is checking out some options --yes, these vehicles can all be insured.

Well, the decision time is approaching -- I hope to make a decision within a couple of weeks.

And yes, I will check out used options as well.

Personally, I like the Zap truck. I want mine modified with solar panels on the roof and along the side panels and a lithium battery pack.

Like you, I want something small and simple to take me to school (such a waste I suppose cuz I'm retired), shops, and church.

I have a hard time getting over the three wheels though, and am still considering a modified Surrey 4-wheel electric bicycle design. There is even a local machine shop highly experienced in Aluminum welding whose owner has offered to build it for me. ( basically, I provide two "donor" bikes, parts, and petty cash - he would get advertising space on it.

My main fear is that once I build the thing, it would be a theft target because it would be so light anyone could just hoist it into the bed of a pickup truck and be gone. Those Shell SQ85 solar panels are not cheap. Neither are the hub motors and lithium batteries.

Its hard to have something if everybody else doesn't have it too.

You won't like the expense of owning a car -- about $500 a month of after tax $$$!

How about adding a little engine to your "SUV"? www.bikeengines.com

I thought I lived in a bicycle friendly city -- Madison, Wisconsin. However, the mayor of Madison has suggested that bicyclists who venture out in snow "should be taken out and shot". Here is the mayor's personal blog:


Peoples comments to the mayor's suggestion are quite humorous.

For the record, I was one of those cycling in the snow, however, I stick to the bike trails as to not impede traffic.

Actually, for the record, he's the Ex-Mayor. I can see why he's the Ex.

To make a long story short, once upon a time, Hizz-ex-honor, Paul Soglin, enjoyed, depending on one's point of view, either considerable fame or notoriety as a Sixties radical.

But time passed, and he had a family and they bought a house.

Now, there's a reason why many modern governments just about force people to buy houses. It's ages-old - long ago, the Byzantines had their version, sending settlers out onto the Anatolian plain under the theme system and binding them to the land there. That gave the settlers a "stake in society", and they defended that land for centuries, to the great benefit of the empire.

These days, we are less ambitious, so it may suffice merely to discourage people from protesting: "I would define the middle class as property owners, as stakeholders in a society. Those people who were marching [in Tiananmen Square, 1989] did not have a stake in society because they didn't own property." (link, see about halfway down.)

Even a skim of Hizz-ex-honor's blog entry makes it abundantly clear that the ages-old plan works. Now, is that good or bad? Well, it depends on one's point of view.

Shaun, it looks like he managed to get a rise out of some folks with his blog entry. My guess is that this guy would not line up winter-storm-bikers to be shot, but the rhetoric is a poor way to get attention.

what is worse -- snow biking or riding in a two-ton gas guzzler that kills the planet while getting maybe 10 MPG in the cold weather? And in any kind of traffic -- even that caused by too many cars -- these behemoths get maybe 5 MPG...????

Maybe hizz-former-honor could blog about that.

The real problem is not winter biking at all. It is the casual Business-as-usual winter ICE vehicle driving that we need to get worked up about, if anything.

Hi, beggar, the real problem here in Madison is the city government's flat-out refusal to do a proper job of plowing and de-icing the streets. There's tons of money for every conceivable kind of fluff, but not that. So the resource diminishes with each successive snowfall, every three days or so. And as we already know, and as hizzoner's blog amply shows, diminishing resources tend to be fought over.

It's also a serious problem for walkers, not just drivers and would-be cyclists. Under the present policy, it is not smart to walk in Madison in winter. Every year, the city government makes a public example of a few selected folks who fail to clear their walks to its satisfaction - sometimes even intensifying the guilt trip by citing the Americans with Disabilities Act. But it's futile. At the end of every block, there is a corner. A walker risks a hard fall there, because the intersection is a sheet of rutted glare ice. And a wheelchair user is, at the very minimum, going to have a very, very hard time of it.

Cross the border into the adjacent suburban towns (Middleton, Fitchburg), and the situation improves markedly. So, if you want to walk (or bike or push your wheelchair), leave the city and move to the suburbs. Now, in view of the good-city-versus-bad-suburb meme around here, ain't that something?

the beat goes on...

Senate decides to rework House energy bill
Dec. 7, 2007, 9:36AM
WASHINGTON — The Senate today threw into legislative limbo an energy bill that boosts vehicle fuel mileage standards and raises oil company taxes after failing to cut off debate on the measure.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 53-42 to limit debate, failing to achieve the 60 votes needed in that closely divided body to avoid a filibuster.

Have fun calling your Senators today!

I predict Congress in session Sat/Sun the 22nd and 23rd.

Past Midnite.

That would be dramatic.

The Energy bill.
The Farm Bill.
The GHG/Climate Change Bill.

Another article from Madison, WI. This is a lesson of how good people will turn bad when they think they are going to be blessed with cheap gas. I have never had doomer feelings until I read something like this. If something this trivial makes people dishonest, what will the hard times ahead be like.


Amazing good news - I started reading about ammonia as a fuel and what do I find? Half an hour from here we have what appears to be the premier manufacturer of alternative fuels engines including ammonia.


I just got off the phone with Joe Lewis at HEC and he agreed to an interview on their stuff and he is going to hook me up with a couple of wind to ammonia projects already in the works. Perhaps I'll be able to cobble up a TOD guest post out of this visit ...

Using the N-H bond and ammonia (safely stored and shipped as urea no less) is yet another bad idea in so many ways. Let's start with the combustion product N2O; a GHG 200-times more effective than CO2, with a 100-yr lifetime in the atmosphere. And that's just for starters.

where is the scientific evidence that shows combustion of NH3 will produce more N2O than any other fuels? in fact, please show any evidence that combustion of NH3 has produced any measurable amount of N2O. please!

nh3 -

Since you have presumably studied the combustion of ammonia, would please answer one question: What ARE the products of combustion when you burn ammonia?

My chemistry is a bit rusty, but I do recall that there are five or six oxides of nitrogen, and that which ones form and in what proportions are determined by the specific conditions of reaction temperature, pressure, O2 concentration and a variety of other factors.

Would not one of the main products of combution be nitrogen dioxide an water, according to a reaction that could be represented as follows:

4NH3 + 7O2 = 4NO2 + 6H2O (?)

And if so, would we not then get a secondary reaction between nitrogen dioxide and water to form nitrous and nitric acid, as follows:

2NO2 + H2O = HNO2 + HNO3 (?)

If that is the case, do we really want (or can we even tolerate) combustion sources that would be spewing acids? While stationary combustion sources can use alkaline scrubbers, how would you control the nitrous/nitric acid emission from an automobile?

In a complete combustion reaction, products would be N2 and water. The strength of the N2 bond is very large.

In the case of incomplete combustion, yeah one could get some nitrogen oxides, just like with hydrocarbons you get CO (and also NOx because of N2 in air). But catalysts could limit this. In any case, the desired use would be in a fuel cell.

the desired use would be in a fuel cell.

certainly. if they will become practical and low cost enough, soon enough. again, what is essential? to some, it is personal transportation, to others, it is the prime movers for food production and distribution.

Would not one of the main products of combution be nitrogen dioxide an water, according to a reaction that could be represented as follows:

4NH3 + 7O2 = 4NO2 + 6H2O (?)

there is no other "main products" than
4NH3 + 3O2 -> 2N2 + 6H2O

some references for you and others who need some refreshments:
Kroch, E. 1945 “Ammonia, A Fuel For Motor Buses”, J. Petroleum Institute Vol 31, pp. 213-223.
Hodgeson, J.W., 1974 "Alternate fuels for transportation". Mechanical Engineering, pp22-25, Vol. 96 no 7.
Steele, Robert B. 1999 "A proposal for an ammonia economy". CHEMTECH, pp28-34. August 1999.

had there been any possibility of forming the corrosive nitrous/nitric acid during the combustion, would ammonia still have been chosen as the fuel for the North American X-15s?

In practice, based on the ammonia powered engine I saw undergoing durability testing this afternoon, there is no significant output of nitric acid. There is a tiny bit of NO2, the production of which is closely correlated with combustion temperature, thusly increasing with compression. They clean it up with a catalytic converter - the engines require emissions testing, but they do pass without any more trouble than an FF based engine. The catalytic converter is seen in this photo, just below Joe's hand.

Ammonia Engine Durability Test

Hydrogen in orange on the left, ammonia in white on the right. There is more hydrogen in the little one than the big one ...

H2 & NH3

thanks, SCT. wanted to find out what is going on in HEC for a long time. nothing better than have someone on the ground.

Email me gwbush at dumbfuck dot org ... I have several questions for you.

" ...had there been any possibility of forming the corrosive nitrous/nitric acid during the combustion, would ammonia still have been chosen as the fuel for the North American X-15s?..."

Uh, well yes. Since when has the DOD or NASA ever given a rat's ass about the air pollutants emitted by their planes, rockets, or other activities?

but they do concern about if the plane will be corrupted within and won't perform as well as they would like to see, don't they?

Ammonia Oxidation over Conventional Combustion Catalysts
Abstract The combustion of ammonia in air over different conventional oxidation catalysts has been studied in the present work. The final oxidation product is NO, although N2O is also formed at intermediate temperatures. The environmentally desirable product, N2, is only appreciably yielded over iron oxides catalysts.

some MSDS's for (anhydrous) ammonia re combustion products:

List of Dangerous Decomposition or Combustion Products: Normal combustion of ammonia in air will give off oxides of nitrogen and water vapour.

and here
Hazardous Decomposition Products:
Normal combustion of Ammonia in air yields Nitrogen and water (steam). Under certain conditions of temperature and pressure some quantity of Hydrogen and Oxides of Nitrogen may also be formed.

Nitrogen oxides: NO2, NO, N2O are the stable ones. The first two are highly toxic.

thanks for the research you've done.

combustion of ammonia in air over different conventional oxidation catalysts

of course, with different oxidation catalysts, you get different product mix. if produce N2O is the goal, then one can try to put the corresponding type of catalyst in the combustion chamber. but is that catalyst iron/steel as we usually encounter in an engine?

any combustion at high enough temperature involving air is likely to produce some amount of NOx. does the combustion of ammonia produce more NOx than that of hydrocarbon? the finding is quite the opposite according to a number of studies.

NOx is a pollutant, that's why it is on your vehicle inspection checklist. but is N2O a type of oxides of nitrogen? no, it is called nitrous oxide.


Huh? Read that Wikipedia reference again. Of course it is an oxide of nitrogen -- hence the name. Just because it makes you laugh doesn't mean it's not an oxide. NO (nitrogen monoxide) is a pollutant as well, but you wouldn't be alive without it as the cells in your body use it a signal transducer.

nitric oxide synthase (producing NO) is essential, and also implicated in cancer, inflammation, and a number of other diseases. Target for many drug companies.

Microscopic amounts of this are produced in a properly tuned engine - 200x more effective but 1/10,000th the amount of volume equals a big win on the warming front.

I'm not saying its theantidoomer grade magic, but it would appear that with a little elbow grease the state of Iowa could be self sufficient in electricity, fertilizer, and liquid fuels for harvest ... and that'll keep all of those PO skeptics and urban folks fed after the hammer drops.

perhaps that is one of the reasons why Ted and HEC folks selected Iowa to the place.

did you see the question for you in yesterday's drumbeat?

Given enough heat and pressure, nitrogen can be burned. This is one of the reasons why early 'clean' engines were so sabotaged; they recirculated the previous exhaust in to dilute the charge and dropped the compression ratio to reduce the maximum combustion temperature and pressure in order to keep the nitrogen intact.

Early turbine cars had horrible oxides of nitrogen and probably still do; who's looking at your turbines and jets for NOx? I just don't see any catalytics on aircraft yet they probably are worse than the cars we had in the 60's. Just because they are more fuel efficient doesn't mean they are cleaner in this regard. Diesels are pretty high NOx emitters too because of their 20:1 compressions. They're putting converters on the big trucks now, but what about the trains? What about NG tubines for power generation?

So tell me how that 'high bypass' converter will do at the back of a Pratt and Whitney? If 7% of oil goes to aviation and NOx is 200 times worse than CO2 - a hard to believe statistic - then we're really looking at hypocrites flying to the GW conferences.

Or, there may not be a problem with jets like there is with turbines. Anybody out there know what the 'sniff' is on a big jet?

N2O, not NOx, is 200x worse than CO2 (actually 296x worse as a GHG)

NOx emissions are regulated under Clean Air Act, and NOx reduction credits are selling for ca. $3,500/ton, but have ranged from $250 to $96,000 per ton.

I browsed their site.

They don't mention of where the fuel source will come from?

Is this yet another food-fuel problem, ammonia(urea) is fertilizer?

Which is most commonly made from Natural Gas!!!

EROEI, Food-Fuel, and less energy storage than the original donor (NG)...just to start.

Crash testing...ammonia not a great material to *spill*.

It still looks like electric is the best solution for mobility in the future.

you can get answers to your questions from here.

to people who has no patience to read, here are the short answers:

They don't mention of where the fuel source will come from?

mentioned in many places by different presenters.

Is this yet another food-fuel problem, ammonia(urea) is fertilizer?

no, if you put the limited resources available into ammonia production from RE, you will have your food and fuel and climate problems solved at the same time.

Which is most commonly made from Natural Gas!!!

EROEI, Food-Fuel, and less energy storage than the original donor (NG)...just to start.

our trouble starts with what is most commonly practiced today.

Crash testing...ammonia not a great material to *spill*.

It still looks like electric is the best solution for mobility in the future.

if repetition is how to get a point through: when the house is about to be on fire, lots of other folks around the household are close to starvation, the food stock is running low, here we have some members of the household can see nothing but their personal mobility - a crash proof mobility - in the future.

Sure enough...I read some more and the wind based generation is very interesting.

However, using it for a vehicle fuel seems less efficient than just using batteries charged by the same wind towers.

If we are talking about scarce, post post peak usage in small scale, then why not.

But your last point/response is just silly. If it doesn't make a difference at that scale, then nevermind.

It seems the process for fertilizer generation is immensely more valuable in the future.

BTW, I gather you have a stake/interest in such technology given your handle. Fair enough, good luck(in all seriousness).

Sure enough...I read some more and the wind based generation is very interesting.

glad to hear your effort was worthwhile.

from your other comments, i gather you've not read this one.

do i have a stake/interest in this? as much as you have or should have but nothing if implied otherwise.

nh3,: all this comment in favour of a dangerous gas as a fuel for transportation? You've got to be kidding. I suggest you read Wikipedia on ammonia.

I'm am not suggesting that dullards will pull up to a pump in Suburban Springs, America, and fill their modified SUV with NH3 on the way to drop off the kids for a soccer match.

Ammonia is already in use as a fuel in irrigation and certain generation scenarios on farms where people are already trained to handle the material.

The next logical steps are ammonia powered trucks and tractors for farming and perhaps ammonia powered small scale locomotives for use in regions where there is ammonia infrastructure. There are apparently multiple wind to ammonia projects already rolling that plan on taking advantage of shut in wind in rural areas where NH3 fertilizer demand exists ...

i am in favour of walking or bicycling for personal transportation. for transportation of food and other necessities long haul, overseas or over the air? yes, i am in favour of ammonia over any other liquid fuels involving carbon.

as for Wiki, i wrote the fuel section of that entry. did you read that?


This is almost as funny as the famous Microsoft guy vs. David Korn discussion covered here in item #5 :-)


Perhaps if you have time you could drop me a note? I think I am officially interested in this whole NH3 as fuel thing and I have some questions that aren't appropriate for a Drum Beat thread.

gwbush at dumbfuck dot org is a fine place to reach me.

You're right.

The most efficient use of Nat Gas is making Tar Sands

So there won't be any left over for heating/Cooling/fuel.

And of course food is out of the question.

N2O - what a laugh.

The combustion of NH3 supplies a pittance of the energy that CH4 does, precisely because it lacks carbon to burn. Lots of hassle transporting a toxic, pressurized liquid, for not much range.

Heats of formation from Wiki:
Methane -17.9kcal/mol
Ammonia -45.9kcal/mol
Steam -240.8kcal/mol
Carbon dioxide -393.5kcal/mol

After some cranking:
CH4 yields 53.6 kcal/g;
NH3 only 20.2 kcal/g.

Besides, ICE's are too inefficient and wasteful to be worth preserving through exotic, expensive solutions like ammonia, borane, or other alternative fuels.

way to go, SCT!

A note to Darwinian:
In a note at the end of November you mentioned something to the effect of you don't believe the price could sustain $150-$200/barrel without a 10-15 mb/d production decrease. I was hoping you could elaborate on that. Europe, the UK, and others are already paying $300-400/barrel for their transportation due to heavy taxes, and I believe North America could afford the same. $150/barrel is still cheap, and the world can afford to buy 85mb/d of it. Don't you think?


That was based on an observation. Price jumped to slightly above where it is right now, adjusted for inflation, in the early 80s. Production dropped from 62,674,000 bpd in 1979 to 53,257,000 bpd in 1983. That was a drop of 15% in oil production. A 15% drop today would be about 11 million barrels per day.

Of course production dropped first causing the rise in prices but the point is supply and price are tied together. If the price rises to $150-$200 a barrel we, in my opinion, would see a corresponding drop in demand.

Yes, I realize that Europe pays a lot more for oil than we do but you also use a lot less oil per capita. Very high prices kill demand no matter where it is. You, in Europe, would use a lot less oil if prices were to double, regardless of the fact that you are paying a very high price right now. Many places are being priced out of the market already.

The debate is not whether $200 oil would cause a huge drop in consumption because it is a foregone conclusion that it would. The debate is just how large a drop would $200 oil cause? My guess is that it would cause a drop of somewhere between 10 and 15 million barrels per day. Of course much of that drop would be caused by the world-wide recession that $200 oil would cause. Or....am I putting the cart before the horse? A drop of 10 to 15 million barrels of oil per day would definitely cause a recession.

Ron Patterson

Surge in Auto-Loan Delinquencies Is Latest Trouble for the Economy

About 4.5% of auto loans made in 2006 to top-rated borrowers were at least 30 days delinquent as of the end of September, up from 2.9% the previous month, according to a Lehman Brothers survey of companies servicing these loans. That is the biggest one-month jump in at least eight years. Lehman says 12% of subprime borrowers, who have poorer credit records, were delinquent on their 2006 auto loans as of September. That is the highest level since 2002 and up from 11.1% the previous month.

Rather unnerving, that the top-rated borrowers would be having so much trouble.

Unnerving, but absolutely consistent with the spirit of the emerging multi-trillion-dollar (not just yet but next year is an election year, so just you wait and see) mortgage bailout. Borrow your way improvidently to prosperity, and Uncle Sam will smother you in dough. Behave prudently, and Uncle will loot you by inflation. It's been that way ever since the Sixties, when "we" decided that the problem of producing wealth had been solved for all time, leaving "us" with nothing to do but dream up ever more vote-buying entitlements to magically appearing largess.

We ran that story in the Finance Round-Up today.

Rather unnerving, that the top-rated borrowers would be having so much trouble.

We also ran many other stories making this exact point - people across the socioeconomic spectrum borrowed more than they could afford and it's not just the poor who are in difficulties as a result. It's not just subprime that presents a problem - it's Alt A and much of prime lending as well, and it's far wider than just mortgages as the above article (among others) points out.

See for instance Middle class and out of a home in Chicago.

In terms of sheer numbers, poor neighborhoods still are feeling the worst pain. But percentage increase in mortgage defaults is climbing faster in middle class areas, according to the data....

...."You had a lot of upper-income people taking advantage of the low rate adjustable rate mortgages, interest only loans and other programs that were available in order to move up, to get an extra two or tree bedrooms," said Jeff Metcalf, president and CEO of Record Information Services, which provided much of the raw data used NTIC analysis.

It's not confined to the US either.

I agree. Lots and lots of people were operating on razor thin margins of income in excess of expenses, or even going into debt via cash out refinancings in order to maintain their suburban lifestyles. I have dubbed them the FWO's, Formerly Well Offs, and hell hath no fury like a FWO that just had his SUV repossessed and his suburban McMansion foreclosed.

...hell hath no fury like a FWO that just had his SUV repossessed and his suburban McMansion foreclosed.

That FWO, with no transport, and no shelter, has two things still remaining:

  1. Lots of debt
  2. Even more anger

Too dangerous at home, in a country with 500 million handguns. In other words:

The perfect desert rat.

Stay out of prison. Just sign on the dotted line. Those 5 years'll be over before you know it, and you can start afresh.

I know very well how it happens over a period of time, I could write you a story about my ex wife and how to piss away a paid for 1m house despite a mid 6 figure income in a little over 10 years since we divorced.

It's a little like the failure to comprehend the exponential function, small harebrained decisions add up this way.

Booksmart doesn't count without the ability to very decisive as soon as a trend is identified.

From the Norway/Statoil story:

This is a huge surprise. Consensus was for production to increase by 10 pct next year, mainly coming from five new fields," Carnegie analyst John Olaisen said.

"We realised there was some risk with each individual field. But today they have come out and told us that three of the five fields are disappointing."

Is anyone counting the 'upside surprises' vs the 'downside surprises'?

Hello TODers,

A photo of a 38 ft canoe, that weighs only 600 lbs, but can haul 7,000 lbs!


Recall from my previous post that the longer the canoe--the faster it can go. If a canoe this size was optimized for my SpiderWebRiding canal system: it might weigh less than 300 lbs [136 kgs], but easily haul 8,000 lbs [3629 kgs].

Obviously, this pictured canoe, with the high freeboard, and decorative bow and stern, has to have incorporated safety and stability for rougher waters [extra weight]--this is not a concern for a canoe in the sheltered water of my canals. Picture my canal-canoe looking alot more like a sleek racing shell without the rowers, of course:


Rowing is unusual in the demands it places on competitors. The standard world championship race distance of 2,000 metres is long enough to have a large endurance element, but short enough (typically 5.5 to 7.5 minutes) to feel like a sprint. This means that rowers have some of the highest power outputs of athletes in any sport. At the same time the motion involved in the sport compresses the rowers' lungs, limiting the amount of oxygen available to them. This requires rowers to tailor their breathing to the stroke, typically inhaling and exhaling twice per stroke, unlike most other sports such as cycling where competitors can breathe freely.
2000 meters or 1.24 miles at 5.5 minutes = 13.6 mph [21.8 kph]

But the best reason of all to pulling the canoe with the railbike is the efficiency gained by breathing easily!

Check out this Youtube video of a hydrofoil kayaker just speeding by a regular kayaker:


More detail[unfortunately, not in english]:


So now imagine an aerodynamic 8-man recumbent railbike, looking like a high-speed railtrain, pulling a hydrofoil freight canoe [also aeroshaped] along my canal: could they pull 8,000 lbs at a steady 10mph pace for four hours postPeak?

Picture of a one-man railbike:


I think it would be fascinating to offer a huge X-Prize to biomechanical engineers and scientists to really optimize this canoe/railbike combo-design so we could get it built before we go too far postPeak.

Remember: no substitutes for NPK--we need to figure out how to move this easily from seaports and riverports, and from the endpoints of Alan Drake's RR & TOD, to the rural topsoil areas. I have great hopes for SpiderWebRiding.

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

Of course, if we have sufficient biosolar wealth to power these canoe/railbikes with electricity from PV & other sources--it would be a simple matter to mount a pantograph on the railbike. Then one electric railbike might easily pull a bunch of these hydrofoil freight canoes. Will it move tons more efficiently, at a lower cost, with less embedded energy, and with a lot less roadbed wear and tear than even a railroad? I wish I was engineer enough to figure this out.

Here is a little more info on the Flyak:

The Flyak is a hydrofoil adaptation to the conventional kayak. Twin hydrofoils are designed to raise the hull clear of the water and increase the speed. Speeds of up to 27.2 km·h−1 (7.6 m·s−1, 16.9 mph) can be achieved on calm water.[1]

A 200 m sprint was performed pitting Olympic athlete Andreas Gjersøe in a Flyak against the four-man Norwegian National Team in a K4 kayak on Sunday November 13, 2005.[3] This race was featured on "Beyond Tomorrow" broadcast on Wednesday February 8, 2006.[4] It was reported that the Flyak won by a boat length. A K1 sprint specialist in a conventional kayak would expect to be some five seconds slower than a four-man boat over 200 m.
IMO, that is a remarkable efficency increase. A four-man shell, due to its longer wetted length, has an inherent speed advantage over a shorter one-man craft.

Can a 1,000 lb electric railbike pull 40,000 lbs @ 10 mph or faster in hydro-canoes? The minimal requirement is to get the NPK to the topsoil for synchronicity for the ideal seed-harvest seasonal plant-cycles.

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

totoneila, I used to live next to a canal/river in the UK and a friend also had a narrow boat. The thing about the canal is its efficiency in moving heavy loads with a small amount of energy (a man could probably pull a 20 ton load). Its drawback is its slow. Attempting to speed things up would likely lead to a hefty penalty in terms of efficiency and increase the amount of infrastructure required (in the UK some canals are only a little over 7ft wide).


Europe has an even better network of canals and the French plan to move more freight on to water. I think it was to westexas that I mentioned some time ago that it's one of the areas I consider worth investing in. Although the nearest canal system to me now is about 10 miles away.

How many PV panels (m²) would it take to drive say a 5hp electric motor? As a vehicle, with low power requirements and a large roof surface area, I wonder if its possible to use solar?

Let's see, 5hp is almost 4kW. 200 Watts/meter panels. 20 panels.

I believe that rating is for full sun, clear skies, perpendicular to the sun at low latitudes.

I would at least double the # of panels (3x or 4x depending), and plan on operating just a few hours/day at full speed.


How many PV panels (m²) would it take to drive say a 5hp electric motor? As a vehicle, with low power requirements and a large roof surface area, I wonder if its possible to use solar?

I think batteries would be used to power the thing.

Frequent "Way Stations" every 5 miles/Kilos or so along the canal with Solar, Wind, Steam powered recharging stations that would take the battery and give you a charged up one. Every 10 miles or so, change out.

The barges could have flat tops covered with PV panels too I suppose.

I just played with some numbers, using evergreen 190w panels 37.5" x 62", costing US$940ea.

I set up a hypothetical roof of 7 panels, or 1330watts (or 1.78 hp) which measured 5' wide, by 22' long, if you wanted to set it up that way.

A trolling motor here had 80 lbs of thrust using some 1390w at max. (I don't know if that would even move the thing, just tossing parts together in a spitball)

For comparison's sake, I found a bunch of Tablesaws that went from 1.75 up to 7.5 Horsepower. I don't remember what kind of HP it takes to push a boat.. or if pulling from a land-based 'direct drive' position would be more efficient, tho' it seems it would avoid a lot of turbulence and friction losses..

Depending on how these jobs go, the panels would be the most helpful if the work had downtime, during loading/unloading, etc, in which to keep recharging the batteries ahead of the motor's draw.

My other variation in design was to have ropes fixed along these canals such that a sort of 'Pinchroller motor' can be clamped easily onto each new stretch, and the boat pulls itself, instead of having a Mule/Tractor onshore doing the pulling. As with chairlift cabling, it should be possible to make intermediary supports over extensive stretches and at bends which this kind of motor would be able to roll across, so there wouldn't have to be just endless 'disconnect' and 'reconnect' work to do. Also, if there was an end of a line coming up, it would probably be helpful to have 'warning signals' keyed into the ropes, alerting the crew of a coming change. When no ropes are available, you return to Propeller operation.. but while on rope, you are essentially also being steered. Could be a boring job!


I'd assumed that because the narrowboats were originally towed by a single horse that a 5hp engine would be sufficient. Wrong! Looking at the engines the narrowboats use they seem to be circa 20hp and above. Obviously some serious loss of efficiency when moving from horse to mechanical propulsion. I guess that it has something to do with the high torque required, although at low rpm fuel consumption should be fairly low.

Probably a steam engine using a renewable fuel such as wood might be a better alternative. Or a horse of course :)

Fair enough. This seems like great work for a horse.

The boats I'm sketching actually are pulling from Herring, these days (any fish, really).. flexible hulls, flippers and fins.. Those projects are considerably down on the 'to build' list for now, but I'm dying to try one out! (A kayak with pedals like a kid's fire-engine toy.. running a cabled, flexible tale, while your arms control the fins..)


"Probably a steam engine using a renewable fuel such as wood might be a better alternative. Or a horse of course :)"

That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed. (he's more yakety-yak than giddey-up, ya know...)

No problem. A solar powered cattle prod will sort that out :)

Being from Upstate NY(Syracuse), we had the Erie Canal.
It had a Tow-Path along side the canal from which an Oxen team(or horse) pulled the barge. VERY effective. Maybe instead a small electric "Ox" to pull it.

The MOST tonnage for the effort I think.

(Even Matt Simmons says so)


I would love the Erie Canal(later renamed the Barge Canal) to be rebuilt up. ALL the locks are still there. It took stuff from from NYC(via Hudson River) to Albany, to the Erie Canal then all the way to Buffalo to the Great Lakes.

That HAS to be put back into service.


I agree. Low-speed hydrofoil barges pulled by HPV railbikes might even be more efficient & faster than having the oxen pulling the load. I think humans pedaling along at a steady 10-12 mph would quickly outpace oxen over long distances. What we don't want to postPeak do is pull boats the most inefficient way [OUCH!]:


I think it is biomechanically useful to analyze this photo, although I am not absolutely positive what the boat and people are trying to accomplish.

It appears that they have 5 or 6 ropes going out to the boat, and the people giving the brutal heave-ho on the ropes might sum up to the equivalent of 200 hp or more. Of course, slipping and sliding away in the rivermud reduces this human-output, and the water current-drag on the ropes alone could probably pull people offshore--more wasted energy.

The boat appears nearly sideways to the current flow because of the improper ropetow vectoring--lots and lots of energy wasted here too. Poor bastards are fighting themselves half the time.

These poor people would be far better off to float out a set of low-speed hydrofoils to this boat. Once in action: the hull would be lifted clear of the water--vastly reducing the wetted surface and cross-currents pushing on the hull. They could then easily move the boat upstream with one rope and thirty people [10 hp?].

A railbike would make it even easier-- I bet these people have massive callouses & blisters, along with aching backs-- they would much prefer recumbent pedaling and gearsets to multiply their legpower and ease their pains.

The highest theoretical efficiency would be, IMO, a grid source of electricity to the barge, driving ane electric motor driving a propeller at relatively low speeds..

Overhead wire or 3rd rail mounted somewhere on the side.

New York State maintains parts of the old Erie Canal, I saw a website some time ago.

Part of the old Erie Canal was filled in for a now defunct subway in Rochester, from memory.

A second canal went north to Lake Champlain and then to the St. Lawrence River (from memory).

Best Hopes for high efficiency transportation,


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Thxs for responding. Lots of engineering problems that I don't have the expertise to answer. I can see the advantage of electrification, but is it more efficient to have the motor ashore for reduced boat weight, and the towline's constant uplift tug reducing the buildup of the energy-wasting bow-wave? Would low-speed hydrofoils save even more energy by the eliminated drag on the wetted hull surface? I was really, really impressed by that airborne Flyak racing a kayak [assuming equal outputs by each paddler]!

Thxs for any reply. We need an X-prize for marine and railroad engineers to determine best efficiency.

A carefully positioned propeller is the best way to get a boat to get up on hydrofoils.

I agree that the electric motor, transmission /gearbox shaft and propeller will add weight and take away payload, but the advantages over a rope pull are significant.

Canals would be the first application, followed by narrow rivers. Wider rivers would require a massive effort, and likely not be worth the effort. On board ammonia fuel cells would likely work better.

Best Hopes,


Thxs, Alan!

A friend of mine who owns a company that sells organic agricultural products shipped an order from Iowa (near the Illinois border) to Greece. The land freight to Chicago was $1000 and the water freight to Greece was $700. Yes, we have to get the canal system up and running.

Next time send it down the mississip

Kunstler mentioned the canals in The Long Emergency, implied that they were still up and running. Are they not?



Commercial Operations


BTW: Somewhat shallower than standard barges elsewhere, one barge at a time through the locks (296' long). Tight overhead clearances as well.

But they have plans.


Best Hopes for the Erie, Oswego, etc. canals,


Can't believe they are still
intact !

Syracuse is where a large part of the extended family is. When we last lived there, about '62, Dad would frequently comment on how he used to swim in them whenever our trips would take us past one.

Hope the plans come to fruition.

re: Railbike Picture.. WHERE's the Steering Wheel?!

just kidding..

Of course, I'd love to see a Rail/Pedal Car for 12 or so, with a Fairing/Bubble, and a little set of skate wheels on each side, so a couple of you can just tip it up off the tracks and roll it into a 'vertical slab' parking spot at the last stop, or to get past opposing traffic.

We have a Narrow Gauge Rail Museum in Portland with 24" Tracks (IIRC), and a mile or so of 'Tourist Track' to run their rolling stock on.. I'd think that would be a great gauge for "Pedal Powered Commuter Rail"


OK, I can get over not having a handlebar to satisfy my 'control issues', but it does need a cup holder!


Hello Jokuhl,

Saw your reply in yesterday's Drumbeat--pretty clever Erector Set thinking--Kudos!

If you understand the efficiencies possible in my Hydrologic Cycle SpiderWebRiding System: instead of a 12 person pedal car-- you can get more distance/calorie by having the young and fit adults, say four people do the railbike peddling, with 8 people behind in a hydrofoil passenger canoe to optimally minimize weight moved by the human motors. The grandparents, toddlers, or handicapped can just enjoy the ride.

Remember: loads are moved most efficiently on water first, then rails, then rubber tires.

I shall be so bold as to make some comments. Please note that none of my comments are meant to be disrespectful. And please don't stop coming up with wacky ideas.

First off, I do like the idea of adding steel rails to the rim of your aqueduct, if the aqueduct is going to built at all. Making the gauge match existing rail stock could provide some benefits.

I have my doubts that moving the cargo by canoe makes any sense though. The basic rule that loads are moved most efficiently on water first, then rails, then rubber tires doesn't seem to me to be entirely relevant here. Yes, huge cargo loads can be moved on water with modest energy demands but that is not what you're trying to do here. I would expect that just putting the cargo on a wheeled cart would get the job done most effectively.

I'm not sure that a canoe would move through this canal as you expect. For example, a vessel's hull speed is reduced in shallow water. I don't know what a confined channel does to hull speed, but it is clear to me that as the hull cross section approaches the dimensions of the water channel, travel through the water becomes very difficult - the hull becomes a form of piston forcing all water along the channel. This is no problem if moving downstream at the speed of the water flow but any other speeds require large amounts of power.

I think the idea of a hydrofoil canoe is a non-starter. The most efficient foils are designed for a quite specific load. For more general purpose use, less efficient foils/foil systems are needed. And foils do not magically reduce power requirements. Consider your 1000 lb erailbike with the 40000 lb hydro-canoe. Ain't gonna happen. The erailbike might generate 400 lbs of pull, assuming a coefficient of friction of 0.4, which is certainly achievable but is likely generous. Foils have lift-to-drag ratios, which relate the force required to move the foil through the medium to the load on the foil. A value of 20 is quite good for a hydrofoil, meaning that the 40000 lb cargo will induce a drag of 2000 lbs. You can see where these numbers are leading.

Finally, I cannot picture desalination happening as the sea water moves along the canal. Instead, I would expect the opposite. The water would get more saline as water evaporated from the waterway. Removing salt (and other impurities) from the water requires energy and is probably better performed at a fixed location.

Keep up with the ideas! It gives me things to ponder.


Hello Vegipete,

Thxs for responding--I welcome any elaboration or refutation to my postings--keep it up.

Obviously, I just word-sketched out the basic concept: I hope some bright engineers really crunch some numbers to find any potential pluses and weaknesses, then refine it to the next level. Thus, my proposal that an X-prize might be a good incentive for jumpstarting further R & D.

Also, I just picked some of the numbers out of thin air--not even close to a SWAG. But if an 1,000 lb. erailbike can foil-pull even 10,000 cargo-lbs at modest speeds--this may still be an improvement over the cost and weight of a four-wheel railcar.

I am assuming that by drastically minimizing the weight of the vehicle on the aqueduct: smaller rails can be used, and much less roadbed wear occurs; moving the vehicle weight to a lightweight canoe-form to move the cargo and letting the canal water take the road-wear. In short: you never have to replace the wheels and bearings on a canoe--its simpler, lighter, and inherently stronger per cubic foot because the water helps support the load.

I understand the concern of the canoe acting as a piston against the canal walls--that is another reason why I suggested the weir-doors to help offload the initial bow & wake pressure waves--just how effective these doors could be needs to be determined. It would seem that once the cargo is winged above the water surface: the pressure wave might shrink to be a non-piston factor.

Your Quote: "And foils do not magically reduce power requirements."

Yep, I agree, but from those videos: once the wetted hull is clear of the water--the same power results in faster cruise speed.

Bob, you reminded me of something I saw in a catalogue last year, a human-powered hydrofoil.


This looks like a scooter with the wheels replaced by hydrofoils. You stand on the back holding handlebars and propel yourself by jumping up and down.

26 pounds, 17 mph max, $500.

I want the Chinese to make 500,000,000 of them out of bamboo and invade Taiwan. It would be worth it for the video.

Human wave attack!

Hello Super390,

That is just TOO COOL--what a brilliant invention! Real fast, and terrific power to weight ratio by imitating the smooth tailwag motion of whales, dolphins, etc. Is that device more efficient than even a bicycle?

This could make above-ground canals a slam dunk!

I suspect you'd burn more energy on one of these things than on a bicycle on a smooth road, since you must generate lift too. But then, we don't always have a smooth road. Now that I think of it, we might not always have rubber.

This is not unlike the scooters of the past that were propelled by a standing rider jumping up and down, which didn't become the dominant paradigm. Now if you could switch one of those back and forth between wheels and foils, you'd be amphibious, which could be useful in Minnesota.

Best hopes for hydroplaning down a Roman aqueduct.

The hydrofoil version smoked the regular kayak, but that guy was badly handicapped. Study the video again, paying attention to the paddle blades. See how the regular kayaker's blades are all the way under, while the hydrofoil guy only gets 3/4ths of the paddle under.

When you buy a paddle you plant one tip on the floor with the paddle straight up and then reach up and fold your fingers over the top - thats how you judge the size you need. Because of the elevation you would need a paddle that is 20cm - 40cm longer than the ones they make now, but if you had one you could really cook in that thing.

I think I want one :-)

Look at this example of pulling an ocean freighter using a football field size kite.

Football field-sized kite powers latest heavy freight ship
A kite the size of a football field will provide most of the power for a German heavy freight ship set to launch in December.
The Beluga shipping company that owns the 140-metre 'Beluga' said it expects the kites to decrease fuel consumption by up to 50 percent in optimal cases as well as a cutback of the emission of greenhouse gases on sea by 10 to 20 percent. Interestingly, the ship will be hauling windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark to Houston, Texas.


Ironically the one in the picture is shipping Windmills from Germany to Texas...


I'm glad you found this. I'd seen another article on this German research. I didn't know the ship would be coming to my home town.

I think a kite assisting a freight hydrofoil would be fantastic. Inland canals pose a problem for kites, but the US does have this system of protected coastal waterways running down the East Coast.

Let's experiment with how long the Beluga can keep its kite deployed as it goes up the Houston Ship Channel before the cable gets tangled in a cell phone tower.

Related to the Arizona article...I was there this week was reading the ASU student newspaper and found that they are going to try and power a healthy portion of ASU with Solar:


And that they are putting in some meager light rail in the city:


Fresh oil and gas find in Brazil -
I remember reading in an earlier thread that the Tupi oil field was actually discovered over a year ago, and that the discovery was simply "re-announced" in November of this year. Can anyone confirm this? Also, is the oil find announced today actually another case of "re-announcement"?

Two other things: I am a conservative Christian and I quit the Republican Party last year. I believe that not only are certain sexual practices sins, but so are gluttony, destruction of the environment and of Third World cultures through globalism, and taking another country's resources at gunpoint while lying about it. I have no intention of voting for Mitt Romney or any Republicans next year. And I don't think I'll vote for the Democrats, since I think they have been bought out by big business. Regarding mass transit and the MAX in Portland, I also heard about the baseball bat attack. I think decent people should ride mass transit and actively get involved to make it safer by refusing to tolerate disruptive behavior from young wanna-be gangsters.

I don't know if this has been posted
A nice perspective