DrumBeat: February 10, 2008

Thunder Horse adds to BP woes

BP has warned staff against creating electronic documents on unpublicised problems with a key component of the much-delayed Thunder Horse, the world’s largest floating oil production platform, as continued troubles with its US operations plague the UK company.

In a confidential e-mail to staff on the platform in the Gulf of Mexico, Stan Bond, project general manager, said: “Don’t create a document (including e-mails or BlackBerry messages) if a telephone call or meeting will suffice.’’

...Ronnie Chappell, a BP spokesman, said Mr Bond’s e-mail, seen by the Financial Times, was “standard internal communication business advice”. Yet a BP employee insisted the advice was “highly unusual – never-seen-before kind of stuff”.

Chavez Threatens to Halt Oil Sales to US

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.

"If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said. "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."

Gulf union's delay spurs unilateral revaluation

Dubai: Gulf Arab oil producers are more likely to revalue their dollar-pegged currencies unilaterally and the longer plans to introduce a single currency are delayed, US investment bank Morgan Stanley & Co. said.

Oil industry facing headwinds in 2008

NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Will 2008 be the year that the oil industry's vastly profitable ride slows?

After years of record oil prices and profits, the oil industry is facing the headwinds of a weak U.S. economy, dwindling access to supplies and slowing production.

These will be among the top issues discussed by oil executives and policymakers in Houston at this week's CERAweek energy conference -- one of the biggest U.S. energy conferences of the year.

Ukraine govt suggests Russia gas debt payment terms

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is willing to settle its gas debts owed to Gazprom on the proviso that it can have a direct import agreement with the Russian gas monopoly, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov said on Sunday.

Gazprom has threatened to cut some supplies to Ukraine if the state energy firm Naftogaz does not settle a debt of $1.5 billion by Monday.

Court KOs administration's emissions policy

WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court struck down a Bush administration policy exempting power plants from certain environmental regulations. The court said the policy was unlawful.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit negated a rule known as cap-and-trade. That policy allows power plants that fail to meet emission targets to buy credits from plants that did, rather than having to install their own mercury emissions controls. The rule was to go into effect in 2010.

Britain says North Sea incident "contained"

Sky News said the evacuation followed a bomb threat, apparently made by a woman on board, but officials would not confirm the nature of the security alert. Sky later quoted sources as saying the episode was being treated as a hoax.

There was no information immediately available on whether the incident had affected production.

Car-Free, Solar City in Gulf Could Set a New Standard for Green Design

In an ever more crowded world facing environmental limits, the push is on to create entire communities with reduced needs for energy, water, land and other resources.

The latest effort comes not in some green hub like Portland, Ore., but in the Persian Gulf, fueled as much by oil wealth — and the need to find postpetroleum business models — as environmental zeal.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for Saturday for Masdar City, a nearly self-contained mini-municipality designed for up to 50,000 people rising from the desert next to Abu Dhabi’s international airport and intended as a hub for academic and corporate research on nonpolluting energy technologies.

Living in the dark has its own illumination

It is in our nature to exploit a resource until it gone, then latch on to something else until that's gone, and so on, in order to feed our profligate energy appetite. The power outage acted as a forced reduction in demand for the state's utilities. Were Kansans able to maintain that level of usage, how many coal plants, nuclear facilities, even windmills, could be idled?

My Cortex Made Me Buy It

Given the human love affair with high-priced luxury goods, and their association with status and power, it’s possible that we’ve come to experience a cerebral shiver of delight in response to things that promise that cachet. It is as if consuming high-end goods might lead to a personal transformation that bargain-hunting can’t buy.

Craving the High That Risky Trading Can Bring

A small group of scientists, including some psychologists, say they are starting to discover what many Wall Street professionals have long suspected — that people are hard-wired for money. The human brain, these researchers say, responds to high-stakes trading just as it does to the lure of sex. And the riskier the trades get, the more the brain craves them.

The ecological economy

Can growth and sustainable ecology go hand In hand? Or does one cancel out the other? A financial slump could present stark choices

Picture a drunk so far gone that he's bent on drinking himself sober.

It's much like the behaviour of governments and central banks in Canada and the U.S. in the face of a looming North American recession, suggests Robert Costanza.

Climate scientist they could not silence

The trap was sprung in February 2006. The White House ordered that Dr Jim Hansen was to be denied the oxygen of publicity forthwith. He was to be banned from appearing in newspapers and on TV and radio. He was effectively to disappear.

It was the kind of treatment that might be reserved for terrorists, criminals or, in a totalitarian regime, for political dissidents.

United States: A rocky start for ‘clean coal’

To avoid a total phase out of coal, the coal industry is desperately eager to “demonstrate” that CO2 can be captured and sequestered below ground.

Without CCS, coal is over, and if coal is over then space opens up for renewable technologies. It poses a basic choice: stick with 19th century technologies (coal and oil) or move into the 21st century and revitalise our economy and our standing in the world at the same time.

Uncertainty could delay greener energy plants

AUSTRALIA could, like Europe, experience a delay of investment in its energy sector unless details of the proposed emissions trading scheme are released quickly, people in the industry say.

Uncertainty about the cost of carbon and economical alternatives meant the country could end up with costly energy solutions.

Iran gas flow to Turkey resumes

LONDON, February 10 (IranMania) - Iran resumed the flow of its natural gas to Turkey from around midnight Friday, and will pump two mln cubic meters of gas per day, a senior energy official told Reuters, Iran Daily reported.

Iran had stopped pumping gas to Turkey due to harsh weather conditions, the Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said on Friday.

Pakistan: Guidelines on energy conservation issued

LAHORE: The federal government has issued new guidelines for efficient use of energy to industries in the wake of ongoing energy crisis caused by rapidly rising consumption, depleting domestic oil and gas reserves and escalating international fossil fuel prices.

500 flee rig after security alert

LONDON — Britain evacuated oil workers from a North Sea accommodation platform on Sunday and sent in an explosive disposal team following reports of a bomb threat, officials said.

About 14 helicopters and a Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft were sent to the Safe Scandinavia platform in the Britannia oil field, 210 kilometres northeast of the Scottish city of Aberdeen, the officials said.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said about 500 oil workers were being evacuated to other platforms and there were no reports of any injuries.

Oil crisis ahead? 'Peakniks' build for future

If the day comes that oil grows so scarce that Austinites can't afford fruit hauled in from California and brownouts roll across Texas, Lester Germanio will live high, wide and cool in his West Lake Hills villa.

Germanio and other Austinites who have banded together to trade information and survival tips are preparing themselves for what they see as inevitable deprivations as oil production declines past its peak. Some call them "Peakniks."

Chavez vows Venezuela revolution despite Exxon

"You have a multinational, imperialist company trying to damage our flagship company," Chavez said at a meeting with farmers. "But this ship will keep sailing and sailing full of oil."

"PDVSA will not sink. Venezuela will not sink. This revolution will not sink," he said, in his first comments on the legal move by the world's largest oil company.

Fiji: Praise for oil firms

THE decision by the Prices and Incomes Board not to increase fuel prices this month had been agreed to by fuel companies, says Total Fiji Limited.

Managing director Vijay Kumar said it was too early for the company to reveal the cost being subsidised.

Clean-energy companies fueling a N. Colorado revival

Fueled by a surge of clean-energy projects and research, the northern Colorado economy is regaining some of its lost strength.

The state's fledgling "new energy economy" is gaining an impressive foothold on the plains of Weld County, along the Interstate 25 commercial corridor and in the research labs of Colorado State University.

If More CO2 is Bad ... Then What?

I no longer care much about the science. To me, the central question, and the one that few are willing to discuss in depth, is: Then what?

That is, if political leaders agree with Gore and others who believe too much carbon dioxide is bad, then what are we going to do? Fossil fuels now provide about 85% of the world's total energy needs. Even more important is this corollary: Increasing energy consumption equals higher living standards. Always. Everywhere. Given that fact, how can we expect the people of the world--all 6.6 billion of them--to use less energy? The short answer: we can't.

Here's an interesting article in today's NY Times:

Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You


It's sort of about suburban environmentalism - what people/organizations/towns are actually doing today.

Almost as interesting as what is being done is the simple fact that awareness does seem to be growing:

'“In the American suburbs, people are suddenly literate in the language of carbon emissions and carbon footprints,” he said. “I’m hearing it in most mainstream places.”

Last summer, Mr. Tidwell attended a picnic where, he said, a guest had brought a plate of kiwi fruit imported from New Zealand. “This very nonhippie, not-environmental-cliché-type woman I heard asking another person, ‘I wonder what the carbon budget of these kiwis are?’ ” he said. “I was just astonished.” '

Article comes with a cool sidebar that shows how wasteful detached homes are.

Interesting what information is not in the graphic, as well. The three come in at 41K, 71K and 53K BTUs per sq ft; on that basis the detached house is the most efficient. It doesn't say what the average household sizes are; if the detached house is 3.5 and the multifamily is 2.5, they are much closer in per-person energy usage than the graph suggests. I'm always curious about whether the research has captured comparable household energy use; the detached house almost certainly has its own laundry facilities where the multifamily unit may well not. If laundry is done at the local laundromat, is that included?

Can detached housing in the suburbs be made efficient enough, or must everyone move into a crowded urban environment? I suspect that the answer is different for different regions. Some may well have enough local renewable energy resources to support suburbs; others probably not.

Just under the title, "Greener Pastures?", they state that the comparison is based on average household with income and family size etc standardized.

Can detached housing in the suburbs be made efficient enough, or must everyone move into a crowded urban environment?

In my view, the suburbs are never going to look good by comparison. Yes, it's possible they can be made to look ok by comparison with currently existing multi-family units, but remember that new large units are going to be redesigned also as time goes on to be very efficient.

On a personal note, I live in a high-rise condo with my own furnace in the unit. My neighbours are so profligate with energy use that even though I live in Canada, I don't need to run my furnace at all except on those half-dozen or so ulta deep-freeze nights that come every winter. So, in a dense urban setting your neighbour's waste can be your gain. If my neighbours ever turn green, it's going to cost me!

Passivhaus technology works fine in semi-detached or detached houses, and uses little or no additional heating other than the warmth of appliances and people.

How much warmer do you need to be, and why would you need to be more efficient?

Where can we get some energy-use numbers on multi-family versus detached single family in the PassiveHaus design?

The wikipedia piece shows pics of large buildings.


If we get to a point post-peak when energy is cheap again on account of huge success with renewables, I agree. But before then, I suspect there won't be such a thing as too efficient.

I don't read German and most of the detailed specifications will be in that language, of course.

You are of course correct that it is easier to conserve heat in an apartment block, but other criteria such as soundproofing may be harder, so the overall task may not be that much tougher.

In any case, they regulate by energy use per square meter, so to get the rating of Passivhaus then you have to meet that one way or another.

Here are a couple of links that may interest you:
Note the Greenroof in the illustration.

German building standards are very high though, and not easy to duplicate in countries like the US and UK as the builders are not used to them.

The UK has alternative plans for highly efficient energy houses, which do not use mechanical ventilation and work to lower tolerances.

Unfortunately they use porches front and back to reach the standard, and so our already small floor areas in the house proper would be further encroached upon.

Here is the Passivhaus website:

More talk about Passivhaus:

And here Greenroof:

Hope you find these links of interest!

Cool. Thanks!


Please can you post links to the following information:
"The UK has alternative plans for highly efficient energy houses, which do not use mechanical ventilation and work to lower tolerances.

Unfortunately they use porches front and back to reach the standard, and so our already small floor areas in the house proper would be further encroached upon."

I have followed the PassivHaus with great interest, but the necessity of mechanical ventilation (ie, the grid must be up) makes me very nervous. I'm in Saskatchewan at -40C with wind chill now and shelter is not optional. However, even now, the grid can certainly go down in winter storms, potentially for days at a time.

Stupidly, I did not keep the URL, however, I do have a copy of the full pdf specs which I can forward to you if you give me your e-mail - I suggest you do so in the form of somebody at internet provider dot com to avoid spam bots

If you prefer not to do this, I enclose the main link to the Passivhaus site here.

However, it is my understanding that, rather like a church, there is a tendency to schism in the Passivhaus movement, complete with cries of heresy, and some would not consider a house not using mechanical ventilation to be part of the true faith.

You should note however that the standards called for for the UK, a mild maritime climate, will be much different to your needs in Saskatchewan, which would need something similar to Scandinavian standards - I believe they also use mechanical ventilation, although presumably if you want to be independent of the grid you could perhaps rig a custom variation.

For security, you can get a temporary e-mail here:

jmcheval at sympatico.ca

To be frank, this 1954 house is so leaky (ice inside) that it is going to take an awful lot of insulation, new windows (single pane glass in Saskatchewan! %%$^^%$!!! What were they thinking!), and tightening before we have to start worrying about air exchange. We've added attic insulation to the last two houses we've lived in in Canada (none before us in old houses). Canada has alot of low-hanging fruit that can be picked fairly easily in purely pragmatic terms. The problem is that ~50% of the housing in the country is rental (no reference, sorry) so there is no incentive for landlords who typically don't pay the heat to upgrade, and well, they don't. Such legal problems prevent much obvious improvements in North America. Fortunately we now own, but if we stay here for more than a year, we have a very large amount of work to improve this building.

I've e-mailed the info you want - actually, I managed to dig out the URL's for most of it, and they are in my reply to Black Dog, but I've mailed the rest.

Sounds like you have a long way to go! Single glazing in Saskatchewan, forsooth!

I can't get an e-mail through to you - you should be OK with the links I've posted here though.

I don't know if it is practical in a rented property, but a air heat pump has now been designed for Canadian conditions, and is good down to -30C, the advantage being of course that it is a lot cheaper than a ground-source pump.
Hallowell International: Technical Datahttp://www.thestar.com/article/302300
TheStar.com | columnisthttp://www.thestar.com/article/302301
TheStar.com | Business | Costing it out Acadia vs. gas furnace and central airs | Electricity: will it be a gas killer?

You also get air-conditioning for the summer thrown in.

In the U.S., so-called "super insulated" houses have been around for more than 20 years. The PassivHaus looks to be quite similar to those designs. As I too looked for a description of the PassivHaus, I noticed the requirement for 300mm of wall insulation and 500 mm roof insulation, triple layer windows and tightly sealed envelope. That's roughly what I did with my house, which has a double wall of 5.5 inch thickness for an R value about 38 and about R value 49 thru the roof. I used triple layer (Southwall tm) windows on three sides and double layer low-e windows on the south wall. And, I've a large solar thermal collector as well.

The ventilation can also be done passively, I think, if one uses some sort of traditional heat exchanger. If the exhaust vent is high enough, perhjaps in an attic location, the natural difference in density between warm inside and cold outside air might provide enough flow in a pinch. Some heat exchangers require electric power to operate, even if set to work without fans though. I like the idea of an earth based pre-heater for the incoming air too.

E. Swanson

I've managed to track down the URL's for detailed specs of the Passivhaus standards for Euopean warm climates - by which they mean like the UK:


And here is some info on warmer regions like Spain, but not as detailed:

Hope this helps!

What does "crowded" mean?

Seriously, what is a "crowded" environment?

If you think about it, to most Americans it means "a place that is hard to drive."

Did you go to a residential college? Was it "crowded"? You probably never felt crowded. In fact, if you were like me, you probably felt a need to stick close to the campus, where all the action was. This is because residential college campuses are, generally, no-car pedestrian environments. Even though most colleges have lots of greenery and open space, they are typically quite "dense" due to lots of dormitory residences.

Unfortunately, I don't know of a single example of a no-car pedestrian urban environment in the US, not even Manhattan. However, they are quite common in the rest of the world.

Another reason people feel "crowded" is because they live close to people they would rather not live with. However, if they live close to people like them (think of a college campus or the Upper West Side of Manhattan) then it doesn't feel "crowded" anymore, does it?

The last significant reason that people feel "crowded" is because they are in a multifamily structure with inadequate sound insulation. This is merely shoddy construction.

One thing to think about, regarding these statistics, is that they are from Atlanta. The multifamily dwellers generally live side-by-side the single family detached dwellers in automobile suburbs. The real gains are had when you get multifamily dwellings in a pedestrian/subway/train environment. Subways/trains use about 10% of the energy per person/mile compared to cars, and also trips are shorter.

Also, you can have SFD dwellings in a dense urban environment. Think of Greenwich Village. Tokyo's first apartment building was constructed in the 1920s. Before then, the city consisted of very dense single-family residences, often on plots of 500 square feet or less. I have been in some pre-1930 neighborhoods, and they are quite lovely. Because they are too dense for cars (the streets are simply too narrow to drive, and are really more like walkways), they are "uncrowded"!

The last significant reason that people feel "crowded" is because they are in a multifamily structure with inadequate sound insulation. This is merely shoddy construction.

You nailed it. That makes all the difference in the world.

Econguy - I've never taken my car into San Francisco because it turns a rather nice trip into a horrible ordeal. Yet, right by Fisherman's Wharf, there are big, ugly, expensive, parking lots right there - where space is at a premium and the area would be really pleasant without all the cars. You got it right on what Americans consider 'crowded' it means you can't take your beloved SUV there, which you bought because it's taller than your neighbors' one.

When things aren't going well, CARVE A BIGGER STONE HEAD.

I think all they have done here is shown that more wealthy people use more energy, which if not obvious, has already been shown by various studies.

No, they controlled for income, family size and a bunch of other variables. So, wealthiness is not a factor.

There is also the issue of how well the house is insulated and how it is heated. Those fators have to be included. It is much easier to put a ground source heat pump into a detached home than a semi or townhome because of the more land available.

Also, appartments are much less energy efficient in their heat use. Many older appartments have no insulation at all, just brick and concrete with poor single glazed windows.

Thus the comparison is misleading.

It is much easier to put a ground source heat pump into a detached home than a semi or townhome because of the more land available.

All one needs is a small square large enough for the drilling rig for a vertical well. I wonder if one could drill at an slight angle from the edge of teh property, with most of the rig on public ROW ?

My sisters high-rise in Mid-City Manhattan (she lives on 33rd floor) put in a well for non-potable water during a water shortage a decade ago. About as dense as it gets !


I wonder if one could drill at an slight angle from the edge of teh property

You could do that to steal the heat from under somebody elses warm house!

Oh wait!... Kuwait had an idea like that ... the Iraqis didn't like it, as I remember!

It is much easier to put a ground source heat pump into a detached home than a semi or townhome because of the more land available.

Actually, it's more expensive and less efficient for detached homes. You have to install 10 heat pumps for 10 families! In multifamily, you just need one. Yeah, it needs to be somewhat bigger, but multifamily benefits from economies of scale.

Yes, the load is lower. A 10-plex should use 46% as much heating (actually less since internal heat is still 10x as much) according to square-cube law.

Add to this the fact that rarely, if ever, would all ten units be on.

I would feel comfortable making a 10-plex GSHP just 4x bigger than a SFR GSHP. Perhaps the 10-plex could share some of the infrastructure with a neighboring 6-plex, saving even more.

Single family residences are inherently inefficient.


You could do that with multiplex that shares a single duckwork system, but you couldn't do it for a string of townhomes. One thing a single family home on a large lot provides is the ability to grow one's own food. Crammed into multiplexes and small townhomes there is just not the land to do that. Trade offs. I'd rather be in a small home on a large lot in the country than crammed into a city. Once things start to happen the city is the last place to be.

Actually it is possible and feasible to run a row of townhomes off of a single borehole or cluster of boreholes.

In the Heat Pump thread, they show a Calgary subdivision that is run off of apparently one centralized borehole complex.

Might be more efficient (lots of calcs) to split them 5 & 5. Common compressors only if electricity bills are in common. Else a common warm water supply and individual units.

Only two common walls for most townhomes.

Better than SFR, but not the best.

BTW, you do realize that rural snowplowing will be the first thing to go post-Peak Oil don't you ? And then rural road repairs ? Winter repairs to rural electrical distribution ?


There are umpteen assumptions in your post.

It is pretty obvious that there will be dislocations post peak, but it is by no means clear that what some here refer to as BAU will not carry on.

See Gail's article on peak liquid oil.

Even on the most pessimistic assumptions it is clear that it will be possible to make electric run-arounds, using advanced lead -acid bateries with a range of perhaps 40 miles, light and cheap, so personal mobility should not be threatened.

It is interesting in this respect that the major Japanese manufacturers have never been very keen on plug-ins, but have said why should we not go straight to electric vehicles.

In most of the world car usage differs vastly from that in the US, and in the rare occasions when this mileage needed to be exceeded it would be a lot easier to hire a ICC car.

Some dislocation is inevitable, but the Mad Max scenarios painted here by some are by no means certain, or even probable.

Hi Dave,

Just a note (it's probably way too late for anyone to read)...

Here is one way to reason the thing out:

1) If the world supply of oil were to cease tomorrow,

2) the global economy would collapse.

3) So, we can then ask the questions:

---How much drop in supply
---With how much lead time (or warning)
---Over what time period

Can avert collapse?

The "inevitable" is a contingent outcome. It depends on the steepness of the decline slope, how much preparation is done ahead of time, what kinds of renewable technologies can really be put in place, and how many verses of "kumbaya" we can manage to learn.

Good, it will keep the roaving hords of starving city folk trying to escape from coming here.

Yesterday Leanan posted, "Limit on wheat prices raised", This years crop could be a problem.


Ag insight a pay to view sight shows winter wheat seeding for 2008 season to be 46,610 million acres compared to 44,987 for 2007 and 40,575 for 2006. They also show expected precipitation below normal for Mar. thru May in the prime wheat growing areas of Kan, Okl, Tex, Col. These same states all show lower seeding acreage for 2008. The increase in acreage is made up in the mid-west and northwestern states. These data are taken from the week of 18 Jan and show ND Durum at $18.85 Bu.

USDA data on all wheat:

2007 wheat crop: 60.4 million acres planted, 51.0 acres harvested, 2.007 billion bu. Harvested, 40.5 bu/acre.

2006 wheat crop: 57.3 million acres planted, 48.8 acres harvested, 1.812 billion bu. Harvested, 38.7 bu/acre.

Here's the gif for wheat stocks to use ratio.

It might as well be the CRB.

It tracks it like a railroad.


With that in mind, to get to 1981 planting levels you should
need about $20 the bushel.

Which should then make about $10 Corn and $30 beans.

$3 the lb cotton, BTW.

Roughly 15% of all wheat planted is actually harvested. Does this percentage hold for other crops?

Perhaps you meant 85 %. Corn last year was 92% and I would suspect most other crops are 90+%

I forgot the 'not'.

The Unending Allure of the Free Lunch
Published: February 10, 2008

The Glass-Steagall Act was repealed so that large commercial banks could get into selling investments, and we got the near ruin of immense banks. . . Is anyone ever going to wake up to the fact that there is a lot of larceny in the human heart and that there are a lot of sheep waiting to be shorn and that regulation is not a bad thing? Or will we just lurch from massive meltdown to massive theft and on and on? Is anyone ever going to get it? Anyone? Anyone?

WT, I continue to hear noise from the right side of the aisle; such as 'what we need is less government intervention' or 'let the free markets prevail' or other such drivel about all manner of important and needed regulation.
There is a simple question to be put to these elected officials that trumpet 'less government regulation': 'Would you board a commercial jet leaving a DC airport bound for your home district and piloted by a person that was not certified by Type Rating (737, A380, DC10, etc.) in the aircraft by the FAA?'
I have put this question to several of our right wing legislators and have yet to receive anything but a look of stupidity. They have no idea what a type rating is and I wonder if some of them know that the FAA exists.
They know how to get elected, and thats about it.

Of course, what is interesting is that Ben Stein is a conservative, who not long ago was downplaying the mortgage meltdown.

There is an old saying here in Florida...'When your up to your ass in alligators its hard to remember that you started out to drain the swamp'... Ben probably set out to drain the swamp. :)

For continuing coverage of the global financial fallout, see today's Debt Rattle at The Automatic Earth.

The next unpleasant balance sheet surprise could turn up in Asia, specifically Japan. As Japan has been a major source of global liquidity in recent years, another round of belt tightening appears to be on the cards.

While that may be true, it does not diminish the impact of the article. It was one of the clearest attempts to explain this obvious dilemma that I have yet seen. Greed marches on.

Endgame: Unregulated Private Money Creation

What had emerged going into the new millennium after the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall was an awesome transformation of American credit markets into what was soon to become the world's greatest unregulated private money creation machine.

The New Finance was built on an incestuous, interlocking, if informal, cartel of players, all reading from the script written by Alan Greenspan and his friends at J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and the other major financial houses of New York. Securitization was going to secure a "new" American Century and its financial domination, as its creators clearly believed on the eve of the millennium.

Key to the revolution in finance in addition to the unabashed backing of the Greenspan Fed, was the complicity of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the US Government right to the Supreme Court. In addition, to make the game work seamlessly, it required the active complicity of the two leading credit agencies in the world - Moody's and Standard & Poors."


What did Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, JFK,
all have in common?

They all knew the difference between US Gov't issued
Currency and Private Banks' issue.

I have the feeling we ,here in Oregon are about to see what the rest of the country has been dealing with for the last couple years.Construction has kept up a blistering rate...until now.Things have started to slowly dry up/slow down
The first sign was the "walkaways"from a bunch of the high end condos...this week it became clear there just is not a lot of work happening this spring,unlike the last 12 years.
The spigot has been shut now,and nobody seems to know how to turn it on again.All that loose money that was around for development just isn't there now.That "bank issue"currency spends like money,but it keeps losing its value.
I do not know what the trigger will be,but something will cause the re-set button to be hit.When that happens,so much will bubble up to the surface that it will crack this country to its core

I have the feeling we ,here in Oregon are about to see what the rest of the country has been dealing with for the last couple years.Construction has kept up a blistering rate...until now.Things have started to slowly dry up/slow down

Good! The ticky tack west of Tigard is this slow growing architectural slime mold. And the zombies still have a toehold in the Pearl - great to see these overfed yuppies have to deal with panhandling crackheads in their little urban playground.

Dunno about some petite bourgeois having to bear the shame of living in a merely $400K home cracking the country to its core. Lots of fallout for nail pounders but the job market here has always sucked. Been reading about the old Willamette Valley electric tram system - rebuilding that would set idle hands to work! You can still see some of the remnants of the SP tracks down by Union Station and thereabouts - never knew what they were before.

Good! The ticky tack west of Tigard is this slow growing architectural slime mold. And the zombies still have a toehold in the Pearl - great to see these overfed yuppies have to deal with panhandling crackheads in their little urban playground

Could you please translate this to English for me? I'm not up to the jargonese.

My company in the SF Bay area is a major remodeling outfit and we are seeing huge drops in activity. The only people left as clients are retired and well to do or rich and only ask ' How fast can you do it? '


Could you please translate this to English for me? I'm not up to the jargonese.

Tigard is a satellite city SW of Portland Oregon. "Ticky Tack" is from a 50s song, "Little Houses made of Ticky Tack," the modern equivalent would be McMansion. "Zombies" = scruffy homeless drug addicts. "Pearl" means downtown Portland's Pearl District, which used to be a run down industrial area but now is rife with multimillion dollar high rise condos. I've heard it held up as a shining example of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), which it may be, but more from happenstance than design I think - all MT (Mass Transit) routes through downtown.

I wrote my OP (Original Post) for snuffy's edification, I assume he/she's from round these parts.

The Portland Streetcar was specifically built to transform "the Pearl" in Portland via TOD. TriMax opposed it (they light Light Rail), so the City of Portland did itr themselves.

It was NOT happenstance. BTW, I took a one day tour of Portland transit.

Best Hopes,


Didn't have the Screechcar in mind, pretty useless piece of machinery. Takes you from condos to the posh shopping district on 23rd Ave, or Portland State University (lots of college students living in multi-million dollar condos!), or the Max lines at Pioneer Square, with more posh shopping at Pioneer Place. Walk those 10 blocks ya lardasses! Almost every TriMet bus is routed downtown on 5th and 6th Avenues or Burnside Ave, which pass through/border the Pearl. If anything "transformed" the Pearl it was cops swinging batons and using tazers/non-lethal ammo on the homeless, which I spent five years observing downtown on graveyard shift. Streetcars I'm for all the way, so long as they take you somewhere useful. The PS sure doesn't. It also largely travels through Fareless Square, thus doesn't collect any fees - and only 30% of passengers bothered to pay them. Lately for the Fareless they're considering limiting its hours, to riders' horror...

So I'm not impressed by the Streetcar, until we see more lines pop up - only thing they're doing now is extending the current line to South Waterfront = more condos. This from a government that passed its own special income tax for education, then closed dozens of schools...

So waverider - you are riding the waves, cruising the world on the backs of your crew who are back at home doing the work.

Damn you to hell (as if I believe in that kind of relig. BS. so I will just say damn you.).

You suck! and I don't mean the slurping kind. I MEAN THE REAL LIFE VERSION.

Calm down, souperman2. We're all entitled to our say here, including waverider.

If there's a bee in your bonnet, swat it. But please keep the stinger to yourself.

Reminds me of one of the two most insightful economists of the 19th century P.T. Barnum. His insight was "A sucker is born every minute".

Glass-Steagull only applied to U.S. banks, obviously. In a global economy, regulated U.S. banks would not be able to compete against less regulated banks from countries where universal platforms were allowed such as Germany, Japan, UK, everywhere.

The pressure to change the law was not driven by radical U.S. free market idealists who wanted to eliminate regulations, but by the advantage unregulated banks in other countries had over their relatively fettered US peers.

Shed the U.S.-centric myopia and some things look different.

As someone (Buffet?) has noted, giving banks new ways to lose money seems a little redundant, since the old ways were working so well.

Maybe, but it seems to me that the bigger players were pretty profitable over the last ten years or so.

I like the new ways of losing money better as well. For example, if people walk away from mortgages the banks feel the pain for their over extension and the cash remains in the hands of people who need it and can spend it better to help the economy recover.

About nuclear half lives...

I was having a debate with somebody about how long plutonium-239 would need to decay and thus become safe. I was previously under the impression that it required 240,000 years (based on its half-life of 24,000 years). But the person I was debating insisted that it would take "millions of years" to decay. I'll present below his argument. My question, for those with the technical knowledge, is "Who is correct?" Does it take millions of years, or a mere 240,000 years?

Pu-239 is not the longest-lived isotope in the spent fuel soup. However, of course, long half-life reduces the danger TODAY. The fuel will need to be safely stored for millions of years...

In any event, please note that after 10 half-lives, about one millionth of the original amount of a radioactive substance remains. So a lot of scientists would prefer to say it takes 20 half-lives, not 10 as in your example, to really say any given quantity is gone completely -- and even then, about a millionth of a millionth would still remain. For example, from one original gram of plutonium, that would still be more than two billion atoms, on average, after 20 half-lives.

Your math is off by millions! Ten half-lives gives a thousandth, twenty gives a millionth.

After twenty half-lives, a gram of plutonium has 2*10^15 atoms; that's a million billion. (6*10^23/244/2^20)

Safe is a relative thing. I wouldn't focus too much on the Pu, but instead on the total activity and toxicity of the spent fuel. After all, I could be wrong, but I think Pu-239 is likely to alpha to still radioactive U-235. And even lead 208, which tends to be the end product of a lot heavy element decay chains, is toxic.

Still, I'd rather have all that stuff in big casks, then dispersed around the plant. While a nuke accident could be catastrophic, no one disputes the fact that coal plants tend to spread hot stuff around.

Ozonhole, half of the plutonium 239 would be gone after 240,100 years. Is that dangerous? Well hell, it all depends on how much plutonium you are talking about, one pound or one millionth of a gram? And what kind of exposure are you talking about, eating it or walking in the vicinity of it?

One cannot intelligently debate the dangers of any radioactive isotope without discussing how much of the isotope you are talking about and what kind of exposure you are talking a bout. For instance americium 241 has a half life of only 423 years. It would be extremely dangerous if you ate it but not dangerous at all if you were just in the vicinity of it. Yet it is used in smoke detectors and is considered perfectly safe for humans to be in the vicinity of it.

Another thing to consider is how it decays. Both plutonium 239 and americium 241 decays by emitting an alpha particle. Alpha decay is the least dangerous of the three basic kinds of isotope decay, alpha, beta and gamma. That is because an alpha particle has the least ability to penetrate any other substance. Plutonium 239 decays by emitting an alpha particle and becoming Uranium 235 which has a half life of 704,000,000 years.

Another thing to consider is, in general, the shorter the half life the more dangerous the isotope. That is, it decays much faster and therefore gives off much more radiation in a given amount of time.

But the bottom line, plutonium 239 is not all that dangerous unless you ingest it. Then it becomes extremely dangerous. You could have a tiny amount on your hands and not even know it. Then you lick your fingers and get very sick and probably die. But an alpha particle cannot penetrate one sheet of printing paper. Well, at least that is what they told me when I worked for Industrial Nucleonics, a now defunct Columbus, Ohio company that made beta gauges used primarily in paper mills. (I worked for them for about 9 months in 1966.)

Ron Patterson

Pu-239 is much to valuable a resource to be allowed to decay. The best use for Pu239, Pu240 and other fissionable isotopes is to stick them back into reactors and burn them to produce nuclear power. One way to do that is simply take so called "spent" reactor fuel, repackage it, and burn it in CANDU reactors. The CANDU reactor is actually a very old reactor design, that can burn up almost all fissionable materials found in nuclear fuel. CANDU reactors are built in Canada and are common there. Fission by products comming from CANDU reactors can be allowed to radiate until they reach the point of stability, at which point they are for the most point metals and minerals valued bu industry. Hence nuclear waste is not waste at all, since virtually noting in reactor modified fuel is without value, and hence should not be allowed to go to waste.

I thought the point made in the Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy is a good one: the energy from any nuclear reactors that are built should be allocated to the decommissioning of the existing ones.

It would be exceedingly poor judgement to run out of energy before we've cleaned up the mess we've made.


I recommend that Oil Drum members take a few minutes and read the Lean Guide. I suspect some (the pro-nuclear) will reject the study's conclusions vehemently. I am not a technical person (economics major and now attorney--ugh?), so I would love to hear comments. What this paper does, at least, is address ALL the steps of the nuclear process and not state simple conclusions.

According to Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Power is not the Answer, a millionth of a gram is still carcinogenic. So that means that a gram is still dangerous after 20 times 24,400 years, i.e. roughly half a million years.

Whether one should be concerned too much about 10^-6 grms of plutonium is debatable. Coal plants, for instance, routinely emit small amounts of U and Th, which are also alpha emiters and quite dangerous if breathed or shallowed.

Helen Caldicott, is not a reliable source. She refused to consider that the best way to dispose of plutonium was to stick it ionto a reactor and burn it. Plutonium can be very deadly. But people who know what they are doing, can work with it with out problems. Literally thousands of people have worked with Plutonium during the last 60 years. As far as I know, no one has died as the result of it.

From memory of a toxicology course 30 years ago (hence not very), quite a few workers in fabricating the first Pu atomic bomb (Nagasaki ?) died. Some units had 100% mortality (of all that could be traced) twenty years after WW II.


Even if true, and I have never seen that before and one would imagine that it would have been in the news all the time from the anti-nuclear people if they could substantiate it, a weapons program is very different to peaceful reactors.

Lots of things are toxic, and the nuclear industry is not unique in that - it just has a far better safety record in the west than, say, the chemical industry, or massively than the coal industry.

Wartime safety regs were minimal for the weapon to win the war. Later production (Cold War) was safer. But this is why OSHA set EXTREMELY low, and then zero exposure to Pu as "safe".


Alan this is a deceptive argument. OSHA guidelines are based on the ALARA model, as low as reasonably achievable for any substance that has potential toxicity, its not based on relative danger. The reason OSHA guidelines for Pu is zero because zero exposure is reasonably acheivable compared to other substances which are far more common but still far more toxic.

Other toxic and radiotoxic substances are far more dangerous than plutonium but represent a far higher exposure incidence in industrial settings.

Not strictly true !

For example, OSHA lead exposure limits were reduced significantly (at great cost to industry, with protests) to make working areas safe for pregnant women. Risk of exposure was the driving factor !

And I am unsure that ALARA was part of the original OSHA limits. I took the toxicology course shortly after OSHA was founded (the upsurge in interest in toxicity was related to OSHA being founded). I was taught that early OSHA was interested in toxicity levels and ALARA was never mentioned (I suspect a later evolution in regulation created ALAR). The very first OSHA regulations had Be exposure and Pu exposure at the same levels (that much I remember, because my term paper was on Be, and Be & Pu shared the very lowest acceptable exposures). Only later was Pu zeroed out.

Given your tremendous bias towards nuclear, I do not trust your apologetics for severe OSHA limits on Plutonium. I am not persuaded that it is a benign as you (with your fervent support of nuclear power) claim it to be.

I would prefer a toxicology specialist to make that claim instead of someone who has every reason to understate a real danger. I do know (see lead) that OSHA limits are sometimes set below as low as reasonably achievable.


Alan, that is perhaps rather ad hominem, and some might feel that you exhibited the same bias on nuclear issues as you accuse others of, only in the opposite direction.

Under those circumstances perhaps you would substantiate your previous strong claim with full referencing, or retract:

'From memory of a toxicology course 30 years ago (hence not very), quite a few workers in fabricating the first Pu atomic bomb (Nagasaki ?) died. Some units had 100% mortality (of all that could be traced) twenty years after WW II.'

Some of us do not trust your claims, due to your somewhat fervent opposition to nuclear power.

You really do have a tendency to play the man not the ball.

One, I am a supporter of nuclear power.

I support building it as fast as it can be built in the USA safely and economically. Per a Dept. of Energy analysis, that would be eight new nukes in a decade due to qualified manpower restrictions. I suspect that completing Watts Bar 2 (halted two+ decades @ 60% complete) could be added to those eight for nine new nukes completed in the USA by 2017. Nice, perhaps an essential fraction of mitigation, but hardly enough, soon enough (the same problems with new UK nukes). The USA needs to continue growing wind at 30% to 40% annually ! (+5.25 GW in 2007)

Two, I clearly stated it was something I read thirty years ago for university coursework research and hence my memory was not perfect per the details. Such papers are not generally available on-line :-(
You and others are free to attach as much or as little weight as you like to my memory. I was quite clear about my limitations From memory of a toxicology course 30 years ago (hence not very), and few question my veracity. I do NOT make things up out of whole cloth !

Another paper analyzed lung cancer rates among 1940s and 1950s US uranium miners. Non-smoking miners had lung cancer rates comparable to 1 pack/day smokers, but smoking uranium miners had eight times the lung cancer rate. Again from the same course with the same caveats.


May I suggest then that you refrain form this sort of comment?

Given your tremendous bias towards nuclear, I do not trust your apologetics for severe OSHA limits on Plutonium. I am not persuaded that it is a benign as you (with your fervent support of nuclear power) claim it to be.

This appears to question the sincerity and truth of your interlocutor, whilst at the same time you expect us to take on trust statements from yourself based on years old readings of information which is nowhere publicly available, and which if it were in fact the case would surely have been very much an issue in the public domain and debate in the last several years.

You really do have a tendency to play the man not the ball.

I refuted, in one specific instance (lead), his claim that OSHA limits were not set in reference to toxicity, but by the effectiveness of control technology.

On the face of it, claiming that OSHA sets the maximum permissible exposure to Pu to zero but Pu is really (in his judgment) not any more dangerous than other heavy metals (and less than several) is a "disconnect" logically. I place the disconnect at his judgment and not a disconnect between toxicity and OSHA regulations (as he claims).

Many of these issues do involve complex issues of judgment, and issues that many feel passionately about (see myself and New Orleans), but this does not preclude questioning the judgment and/or logic of others. Questioning judgement and logic are all part of the debate here. It is not all just facts and figures.

Robert Rapier and Westexas had an epic debate on TOD, both using the exact same sets of data but reaching quite different conclusions regarding Saudi production capabilities. It was a matter of judgment and logical inference and they each dissected the others and defended their own. I thought that Robert had the better case, but Jeffrey was right in the end, so the rules of analysis "vary" by individual in complex cases.

You once stated that you responded as you "felt" others were attacking or not attacking you. May I respectfully suggest that you consider modifying that whilst on TOD.

This is a meat grinder, but a surprisingly civil one.


Cite. This sounds like sensationalist nonsense to me. I'm sure theres a kernel of truth but not the way you're illustrating it.

Some of the researchers certainly died when they accidently tickled the dragons tail, and some accidentally ate plutonium with little long term effect. Its a dangerous radiotoxic chemical, but it isn't even close to as dangerous as polonium or even beryllium.

This is a strawman discussion. It is irrelevant for how long will a substance remain toxic (esp.if it is much longer than human lifespan), what is relevant is how you handle this substance and if there is a real danger of people or the environment getting exposed to doses which can affect their health or well-being.

For example the mercury in your thermometer or CFC bulbs will remain toxic forever. If you eat it or it gets in your blood you will most certainly die. Does this mean we should stop using thermometers or CFC bulbs? No, this means we have to be careful not to break them and dispose them only in a proper way. Anything else is just a stretch of the imagination or pure scaremongering...

The Pu issue is an example of how we people can create artificial problems out of nothing. In a saner world Pu and the rest of the actinides would be separated out and burnt in reactors, both producing energy and eliminating proliferation and toxicity concerns.

This is a strawman discussion...

I agree. The uranium, radium, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, soot and other pollutants that pour out of coal fired plants are far more dangerous than anything that will ever be produced by nukes. The Sierra Club tells us about coal plants.

Power plants are a major source of air pollution, with coal-fired power plants spewing 59% of total U.S. sulfur dioxide pollution and 18% of total nitrogen oxides every year. Coal-fired power plants are also the largest polluter of toxic mercury pollution, largest contributor of hazardous air toxics6, and release about 50% of particle pollution.7 Additionally, power plants release over 40% of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, a prime contributor to global warming.

Ron Patterson

Darwinian -

I fully agree.

When it comes to energy alternatives, danger, hazards, and risks cannot meaningfully be evaluated in a vacuum or in totally absolute terms, but rather must be assessed in relative terms, i.e, hazardous as compared to what? Risky compared to what? This is hardly a sophisticated philosophical concept, and actually should be obvious if one uses little bit of common sense.

Yet the anti-nuclear power crowd appears to be totally impervious to this line of reasoning. For them, being opposed to nuclear power is far more a matter of ideology or even theology than of science. And among them it is the worst heresy, worthy of being burned at the stake, to have anything whatsoever positive to say about nuclear power. Ever.

But I suspect that is going to change, as we have the double-whammy of global warming and worsening energy shortages staring us in the face. After a few winters of some people freezing in the dark, nuclear power is magically going to take on a suddenly more benign aspect. Amazing what that can do for one's perspective!

I myself would not be crazy about living next door to any power plant, but if I had to choose, I'd much rather live within the shadow of a nuke than a coal-fired power plant. And that includes the plant at Three Mile Island.

Here's another prediction: 'clean coal' CO2 sequestration will prove to be as futile a technological deadend as corn ethanol has already proven itself to be. Time is running out, and we can't afford to piss away limited money and effort on what are, almost 'by inspection', losing propositions.

The latest generation of nuclear power technology is orders of magnitude safer, more efficient, and just plain better than the original rather crude designs put forth during the 1950s and 1960s. If adopted in a responsible, well-managed way, it could help us smooth out the transition away from dependency on fossil fuels. Nor are nuclear power and solar/wind power mutually exclusive. There is no reason why we can't develop both side by side.

After a few winters of some people freezing in the dark, nuclear power is magically going to take on a suddenly more benign aspect.

Nuclear power is not necessarily going to prevent people from freezing since the majority of dwellings are heated using fossil fuels.

I myself would not be crazy about living next door to any power plant

And just about everyone else too. Our fate is already sealed. Its way to late in the game to avoid a crisis. It would take decades to build 100+ Nuclear plants even without all of the bureacracy. Not only do we need to built plants to replace all those Natural gas fired power plants, we need to replace the existing nuclear plants that are showing age. You think they could have at least started construction of new containment domes and reactors on the existing sites.

FWIW: For the last few weeks our state governor has been running radio advertisements on how to cut down on energy use: "Charge your cell phone in your car!". I laughed and cried at the same time.

TechGuy -

I certainly didn't want to give the impression that I believe nuclear power is going to come anywhere close to solving all our energy problems, because it won't. And given the difficulty in even trying to site a new nuclear power plant (in the US at least), it will probably be a sad case of too little too late.

However, what I AM saying is that given half a chance, nuclear power could significantly mitigate our increasingly serious energy supply problem and would significantly reduce CO2 emissions as an added bonus.

If nuclear power in the US hadn't have been cut off at the knees after the Three Mile Island incident, we would be a lot better off today. One cannot dispute the simple fact that at present the only form of concentrated steady and reliable power of significant quantity that does not produce CO2 emissions and is not dependent on diurnal and/or seasonal fluctuations nor is location-specific factors is nuclear power.

Given the current context, nuke plants are better than coal plants, and I'm saying that as a hard-core enviro activist of many decades.

Similarly, I'd rather have cancer than be infected by weaponized anthrax. We live in a time of sucky choices.

I used to work alongside people who shunned me - literally - for cooking potatoes in a microwave oven. "but it uses less energy" said I, "but it's Radiation" said they. Now 25 years later I'm still eating microwaved potatoes (literally, as I type this) and they have smugly reproduced to create the next generation of consumers.

The main problem I have with nukes - aside from maintaining the unmaintainable civilization in principle - is all those ponds of spent fuel rods which will decay in place. And they will. A chernobyl here and a chernobyl there, and pretty soon you're talking about some annoying radiation levels. Still, that will probably pale next to positive-feedback heating from tundra and bog methane releases. Hope I'm wrong.

The thing I worry about with Nuc plants is who will be around to decomission them in 30-40 years. I can't even venture a guess as to the number of nuclear engineers in 40 years.

We have discussions of a collapse, a couple billion dying out of the 6 billion, we talk about endgames and resource wars.

Who will have the knowledge to take them apart? Will the support structure be in place to do something with it afterwards?

A coal plant rusting may not be as bad a an abandoned nuc plant.

Just a thought. Are we building another infrastucture that will not be able to support?

Just a thought.

For example the mercury in your thermometer or CFC bulbs will remain toxic forever.

That's why mercury has largely been phased out in home thermometers. People will always oppose a dangerous substance if there is a safe alternative to be had, in this case digital thermometers, in the case of nuclear fuel wind and solar - and I know about their shortcomings and support development of nuke, but this is how people react to these horror stories about radioactivity they get from the likes of Coldicott.

For example the mercury in your thermometer or CFC bulbs will remain toxic forever. If you eat it or it gets in your blood you will most certainly die.

Actually in a healthy person the risk posed by ingesting modest amounts of elemental mercury, such as the contents of a few medical thermometers, are minimal (the same can not be said of the broken glass from the thermometers, if swallowed...) almost all of it will pass through the gut and emerge in the feces.

It's the mercuric salts and organic mercury compounds that cause the toxicity issues in most cases.

There are a handful of fission products which are environmentally significant:

  1. They have medium-length half lives of 5-500 years:
    • Long enough to become widely scattered;
    • short enough that they are relatively "hot".
  2. They are biologically accumulated.
  3. Cs-137, Sr-90, Co-60, and a few others fall in this list.

Iodine has some very short-lived isotopes and one with a half life of about 15 million years. I'm not sure whether the long half-life one is dangerous. The short-lived ones are dangerous for a few weeks after a release.

Even if the half life is only tens of years, that means a release can be dangerous for a century or so. And unfortunately, humans do not have a century-long attention span. Nevermind millions, or even thousands, of years. What was Love Canal? Where is Three Mile Island? You no longer hear these mentioned on the evening news.

If we must rely on a society even 100 years hence to properly and responsibly manage and dispose of our toxins, it's a bad idea.

Currently, we aren't responsible with all the other toxins we produce. Expecting a post-crash society to deal with this properly is, well, insane.

"Currently, we aren't responsible with all the other toxins we produce. Expecting a post-crash society to deal with this properly is, well, insane."

Not insane. Wilfully blind.
And yet we laugh at the dumb, blinkered beast! :)

Yeah, insane is a little over the top. Insanity, also, likely has no reasonable solution. "Insanity" also has a tendency to stop rational conversation.

In that which follows I am using only the most basic and fundamental natural/mathematical laws. The treatment will hopefully reach point(s) that will be understandable to most of you - if not, I apologize in advance.

A) Radioactive decay as an exponential function.

If there is an initial amount A(initial) of a radionuclide, then after a time t there will be an amount A(t) given by the exponential function:

A(t) = A(initial) e ^(ct) where c is the decay rate of the radionuclide (a negative number).

As time passes A(t) will decrease to zero.

But if a constant additional amount, S, is being continuously added then A(t) will NOT decrease to zero - but instead will increase to a fixed non-zero value depending only on the added amount and the decay rate, c.

Instead of the original differential equation A(t)' = cA(t); A(0) = A(initial), [whose solution is the above], we now have the differential equation;

A(t)' = cA(t) + S; A(0) = A(initial). Whose solution is:

I) A(t) = [A(initial) + S/c] e ^ ct - S/c.

When c is negative - and it is - then the first term goes to zero leaving only;

A(t) = -S/c as e^ct -> 0. A constant.

This is the number that is important in the discussions of nuclear fission waste production, S/c.
S is the rate of production of the 'stuff' undergoing decay and c is the (neg.) decay rate.

B) Nuclear fission.

There are 3 fissile actinides either used as or are experimental fission fuels: U(233), U(235) and Pu(239). Only (235) is 'naturally' occurring; the other two are produced by neutron bombardment of Th(232) [tertiary decay into U(233)] and U(238) [tertiary decay into Pu(239)].

The three all have a roughly equal decay spectrum and all three equally inefficient in 'mass to energy' conversion - only about 3% of the original mass is converted to energy leaving 97% of the original fuel as highly radioactive waste daughter products (not actinides/transuranics). Almost all of the heat energy obtained is from the kinetic energy (due to electrostatic repulsion) of the daughter products, the released neutron kinetic energies and the gamma emissions both from the accelerated charged fragments and the internal relaxation of the nuclei of the daughters.

For every Kg of fissile fuel that undergoes fission approximately 970 gms of highly radioactive waste daughter elements are produced.

C) Nuclear power production and waste product disposal.

Throughout the literature (pro- and anti- nuclear power) is is assumed or explicitly stated that a 1GW power plant consumes (undergoes fission) approx. 3 Kg fuel per day... about 1.1 tonne per year. Or, a 1GW power plant produces approximately 1 tonne of highly radioactive waste products per year which is addition to any of the actinides(transuranics) that might be present in the 'spent' waste. Some of the more efficient reactor designs claim thermal efficiencies that could reduce this to about 800-900 Kg per year. (edit: 8-900 tonne to 800-900 Kg)

Let us now examine the above 'S/c' ratio in light of the above:

1 GW power generation will produce 8.75 GKwh per year, consume about 900-1000Kg of fuel and produce about 850-950Kg of high level nuclear waste. This waste is a mixture of isotopes with greatly varying half-lives (decay rates) ranging from fractional seconds to 1My. Using only those that have a high percentage production rate (in the fission producing them) we can, for the sake of brevity, use an average h.l. of 50y.

This gives an average decay rate of c=0.014.

With a waste production rate of 900 Kg/yr. and the above c we have:

A steady state value of 55 tonnes of highly radioactive waste for each 1GW nuclear power plant that must be prevented from getting into the environment. This 55 tonne does not include any of the 'spent' fuel, transuranics or other 'burnable' radioactive materials.

This is not an 'immediate' concern because it would take a very long time to reach this steady state value - but it should be a 'goal to avoid'.

To put this in context of the World use of nuclear power:

from this site: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/reactors.html

370 GWe operating;

28 GWe in construction;

100 GWe on order or planned;

193 GWe proposed;

Total - 691 GWe.

Now we see the Big Issue for the future of Nuclear Power.

691*55 tonne is just under 38000 tonne of highly radioactive waste that *could* be present and needing protection. Remember, this is the steady-state amount - it will not start to decline until we reduce the production of waste.

As I understand it, the worst problem from plutonium is ingestion into the lungs, where the emitted alpha particles cause damage in the surrounding tissue. That sort of situation might occur after some explosive blast were to spread plutonium over a wide area.

One problem not considered in all the previous discussions is that the decay process always leaves some of the material to decay later. A lump of solid plutonium will be half gone in 24,000 years and so on. After some number of half lives pass, the radiation emitted from that lump will be about that of the surrounds which we are all living with. However, were that lump of plutonium to be dissolved as a salt, the chemical properties of plutonium would imply that the PU remaining after however many half lives would still be finely dispersed, thus even very low concentrations ingested in liquid form would cause health effects. The alpha particles emitted would continue to produce local tissue damage from the ingested atoms as they decayed.

If the dissolved plutonium were chemically concentrated thru bioaccumulation, the concentration would increase up the food chain to the top consumers in the food chain. Humans are at the top of the food chains we eat, so humans would have much to fear for many half lives after any release of plutonium into the environment. I recall that plutonium has been found accumulated in just this manner at the Hanford Plant in eastern Washington State...

E. Swanson

Over the past few months there has been some speculation on TOD about the bombing of a Syrian target by Israeli aircraft. Seymoure Hersh of the New Yorker has been digging into the attack for several months...visiting officials in Syria, Israel, DC, IAEA, etc, trying to extract reason from overwhelming political noise. All on TOD are probably already familiar with Mr Hershs credintials as a dogged, brave, investigative reporter and one bestowed with many awards and prizes. Below is a link to the results of Hersh's investigation as they appear in his article for the New Yorker...

Annals of National Security
A Strike in the Dark
What did Israel bomb in Syria?
by Seymour M. Hersh
February 11, 2008


An NPR report said the bombed plant would have built missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv from Syria. Nothing nuclear about it.

I think we're all missing something:

One example would be found in Namibia, where a huge amount of biomass comes in the form of invader bush. Researchers from the VTT have estimated that the overgrowth of bush greatly affects an area of about 10 million hectares in northern parts of central and eastern Namibia, of which a total of 125 million tonnes can be harvested commercially and sustainably.


We may be missing something, but it's not that. I believe the so-called "Invader Bush" (no, not our president) is jatropha. You know, the stuff that's imploding in India.

Jatropha is subject to the same limitations as all the other biofuels. They seem to grow like weeds...until you try to grow them in monoculture. Then suddenly, they're crops, and have all the same problems crops have.

Remember, everything we grow was a "weed" once.

I was just referring to "biomass," in general, Leanan. I didn't realize that was Jatropha. It seems like Biopact would have mentioned that.

btw, I'm, certainly, no expert on jatropha; but, I would be a little slow on "writing it off." Indian Agriculture is a very complex animal. Jatropha is a hardy bush, and can deliver a lot of oil. I'm interested to see how it works out in other parts of the world.

Biopact, as it usually does, was just quoting from an article published elsewhere. (One I remember, precisely because it used the term "invader bush," and I really did think it was about our president when I read the headline.) I suspect the original article was translated into English by someone who was not very fluent, hence the use of the awkward "invader bush."

I don't think biomass will ever amount to much. Sure, it's worth pursuing, but it's not the miracle that some are pushing. Most especially cellulosic. The grain for the farmer, the stalks for the land. You can't keep removing the stalks, grass, etc., without putting something back in the soil. I think it's doubtful it will ever be more than a local solution.

If you haven't read Life in a Grass House yet, give it a read. It's a couple of years old now, and mostly about switchgrass, but most of it applies to all biofuels (including hemp, algae, etc.).

Leanan, I don't believe that is Jatropha. I've looked around a bit, and I can't find anything to tie the two together. In this article there is a reference to the Namibians' desire to plant Jatropha plantations, but nothing to give me the idea that the "Invader" bushes are Jatropha. They ARE getting serious about electricity generation, though.


This pdf on investment opportunities from 2002 refers to "invader bush species (acacia, hardwood)" so I suspect that they are talking about the transformation of the savannah into forest.


what kind of problem jatropha is having in India that is similar to those of monoculture crops? from what i gathered, planting jatropha in poor soil in semi arid area will improve the soil quality. any evidence to the contrary?

Australia classified it as an undesirable invasive species and banned it:


Jatropha curcas: Primary liability is, it is a continuous bearing plant and requires considerable continuous manual labor for harvest.


One of the problems they're having is that quality and yields are very unpredictable. Some are suggesting the solution is selective breeding or genetic engineering to produce a more predictable crop. But that has drawbacks of its own.

And the real problem with monocrops is that they're, well, monocrops. You end up with big tracts of land all growing the same species. Which creates a haven for pests. So while it grows like a weed with no need of pesticides in the wild, when grown in monocrop, suddenly, you do need pesticides.

If you don't grow it in monocrop - just use the sides of the road or something - then harvesting becomes difficult. Given that energy produced is minimal anyway, having to travel long distances to gather it bit by bit becomes too expensive.

any reference or link for the yield and pest problems of jatropha?

The yields issue is mentioned in the link I posted, and has been a repeated issue in the jatropha articles I've posted over the years.

Here's one that mentions the pest issue.

There's always a pest issue, no matter what you are growing. If you're growing it in monocrop, there will be pest problems that aren't evident when it's growing naturally in the wild.

thanks! the yield issue mentioned in the link above is somewhat hard to understand. is 1600 trees/ha the actual yield or yet another estimate? if the former, then it is not out of the range of the previous estimate of 1000-3000 trees/ha.

It's really all estimates now, since they're just starting to cultivate it.


"...today Shell Oil communicated a problem with the arrival of a tanker, and instead of lowering, there is now a sudden artificial shortage and prices went up more than expected."

Short article yesterday at the web site of Prensa Latina:


I'm thinking if the late arrival of one tanker can cause shortages and price increases, there obviously can't be much of a cushion in the way of reserves. Panama has no refineries (two are planned) and imports nearly 100% of its fuel needs. I suspect there's been a drawdown of what limited reserves have been available, this being done in an effort to keep prices artificially low during a time of high fuel costs in hopes they can soon refill at lower prices. Those lower prices of course haven't been forthcoming, and now we're left with "just in time" delivery...when it's on time.

Panama has the second most robust economy in Latin America (Brazil #1) and can ill afford to run short of liquid fuels without sending the country into an economic tailspin with much accompanying social strife.

Out here in the hinterlands of western Panama the shortages haven't reached us yet, and prices are holding. (About $3.50 for regular unleaded, diesel slightly cheaper). But I'm keeping my fuel tanks and jerry cans full, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Panama, I'd love to read the article, but it requires user log-in. That would be fine, if I could figure out how to register. I don't see any way to do that. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but how do you register a user log-in/password for this site?

I've never registered there, but use the site frequently so I probably have a cookie that you don't have. Anyway...

If you go to Google News and enter - panama shell tanker - that will bring it up.

My passport said I was in Panama, but I don't remember being there.
That said, I can remember it being challenging getting fuel in Central America in the 1970's.
I drove a VW from LA to Central America, and often had to wait as few days for fuel, and always carried extra jerry cans.

"...but I don't remember being there."

Yeah, I hear ya. Every day is just another day in paradise around here.

The fuel availability has improved greatly since the 70's, you wouldn't have that problem now except occasionally in some places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, etc. where they are struggling.

But the incompetency and inefficiency of the politicians hasn't changed much anywhere "Down in the Banana Republics", and therefore we're seeing stupid things happening like the article mentioned: mandating lower gas prices of nearly 20 cents a gallon just so that 40,000 more cars can hit the highway for Carnaval weekend. And this is in the face of shortages!

But it scores political points for TPTB.


Weren't we just talking about CT's and how they don't

"“My original media sin goes back to 1981,” says Hansen.

“I had written a paper for Science [the renowned academic journal] making predictions about climate change, but I thought it might get ignored. So I sent it to a reporter at The New York Times – and he put it on the front page.”

The resulting row saw the Department for Energy, which oversaw research into CO2 emissions, slashing his funding while its head of science launched a furious attack on his work at a scientific conference. "

Careful Mac...Ron might see your post and launch into his patented diatribe about how diversified the ownership and opinion of MSM is...you know, how many different men/women own what and how editors, reporters are not subjected to any pressure...ad nauseum. :)

A Billion Ton Forecast:

This is Probably a bit Conservative


This is Probably a bit Conservative

Yeah, very conservative. Just equal to about 1/3rd of the above-ground biomass in the US. It's an ecological disaster.

The report completely ignored the nutrient issue. There's one little bulleted item buried deep inside where it says that "concerns have been raised about removal of nutrients from the soil". That's a huge understatement.

The 2 reports in Science this week make it clear that land-use changes alone for biomass production will end up causing more CO2 emissions than burning petroleum directly.

Of course, if you match this report with the DOE roadmap for cellulosic ethanol, then you'll appreciate better all the "above-ground" factors that make it highly unlikely this industry will ever get off the ground in any large scale way.

But say it does. "30 by 30" is not comforting when the EIA forecast for gasoline consumption in 2030 is already around 30% higher than it is today...so we rape and mine our land to maintain our current level of petroleum gasoline consumption...

According to Wikipedia, there are ONE TRILLION, EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE BILLION TONS OF BIOMASS ON TERRA FIRMA. Are you saying that only 3 Billion of those Tons are in the U.S.?

Oh, and "NOW" we believe the EIA Projections?

A project in Leanan's home state....

Plans Announced for a Wave Power Plant in Hawaii

Oceanlinx, an Australian wave energy company, announced plans for a $20 million project to install three floating wave energy converters (WECs), i.e. wave-powered turbine platforms, to supply up to 2.7MW of electricity to the island of Maui, Hawaii. The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Renewable Hawaii, Inc. (RHI), for potential passive investment in a project . RHI is owned by the Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.

The project could be operational by the end of 2009.



I wish they would provide estimates of the cost per kilowatt hour. Hawaii already has very expensive electricity, so projects are viable there that wouldn't have a chance elsewhere.

Re: the "If more CO2 is Bat ... Then What?" article:

I wonder if this is the terminal phase of AGW denialism. For the past several years I've described the arc of denialism as:

1. There is no global warming
2. If there is global warming, it isn't caused by man
3. If it is caused by man, it will be good for us (who doesn't like warm weather?)
4. If it is bad for us, there's nothing we can do about it.

I wonder if we've finally arrived at #4, though admittedly we didn't spend much time at #3. There's also still a tendency to argue both #1 & #2 at the same time. But if we've progressed to #4, I suppose that's a good thing ... except that it probably really is too late now, thanks in no small part to the denialists.

Shargash -- of course all four phases you've listed are going on at once.

Each form of denial is hyped repeatedly as different people are engaged in the discussion.

Many people will stay locked in denial to the bitter end.

TPTB will use Global Warming and Peak Oil and anything else to weave into narratives that keep them in power.

Scapegoats abound. The God of Violence always offers a target for the rage of cultures otherwise impotent.

I'm not real optimistic, except that more people that I talk with are moving further into acceptance of science and some small changes in response to the larger ecological reality. These little changes can open the way to bigger changes.

The responses in the papers to articles like the (UK) Timesonline article "The Climate Scientist Theyt Could Not Silence" are an interesting reflection of the various levels of denial and acceptance of GW science as well.

Note that there is outrage directed at scientists as political targets who require silencing....the politicization of this issue is sure to be messy for longer than we have to deal with it.

TPTB will do more, not less, to weave false narratives in order to manipulate masses of people into compliance.

Nigerian domestic flights grounded on jet fuel shortage: source

Lagos (Platts)--8Feb2008
Most airlines operating on Nigerian domestic routes canceled flights on
Friday as the shortage of jet fuel worsened in the West African country, an
official with Total Nigeria said Friday.
"Marketers have not lifted Jet A1 fuel for more than three weeks now, so
there was no supply to the airlines," the official said.
"The problem was caused by the importation of off-spec product last
month, which was rejected on safety grounds," he added.
The scarcity forced marketers to hike the fuel price by about 11% to
Naira 105/liter from Naira 95/liter price last month.
As with other petroleum products, oil-rich Nigeria imports all its jet
fuel needs as local production was not available.
According to the department of petroleum products, the Nigerian aviation
industry consumes 50 million liters of Jet A1 fuel a month, but the import
reception facility in Lagos is only able to receive 10 million liters/month.
"This is grossly inadequate to service the airlines. The bottleneck at
the Apapa jetty, which is the only source of receiving all imported products,
creates severe delays in distribution of Jet A1 fuel," Niyi Olawore, a senior
official at the facility, said.

Does "Wisdom of the Crowd" = Wisdom of The Market?

Many in the TOD crowd are ready to accept as gospel the notion that there is "Wisdom in the Crowd".

After the crowd debates a question and the majority flips into conformance with one particular direction as opposed to all others (i.e., Yes, ethanol is the solution, or No ethanol is not viable), it is assumed that "the debate is over"; and the the process generally led to the course of action that is best.

After all, so many people voted on the question. A persuasive majority (51%) rationally concluded option A was the better one and options B, C, D were worse.

It is not much of stretch to understand that The Market is a kind of crowd.

Made of sellers and buyers, The Market seems to flip bistably like a coin and settle en mass to adopting one answer (Heads) over all others (Tails or edge). For example, The Market flips into the conclusion that VHS is better than Beta-Max video cassette tapes; that Blue-Ray is better than the alternative; or that one business sector (i.e. King Coal) is going to succeed and another (i.e. Solar energy) is going to fail.

The assumption is that The Market will correctly pick the winners and losers. The Market is wise.

Is it?
(More reading: (1) Save-the-World re WotC, (2) WotC-- the book; (3) Google results)

Is it?

Ah, an easy one.

No. Randomness and path-dependency, sequence and evolved connectedness. Brainless as could be.

"Brainless as could be"-----
This was Darwin's Dangerous Idea, and something the human ego still has not confronted.
It was bad enough we were not the center of the universe.

I remember reading a book a while back that talked about how the brain develops neural pathways, and it used the anology of a block of gel. If you let a short stream of liquid flow across the surface of the gel, it moves freely along a fairly random path, but creates a small impression in the gel.

The next time you run a stream of liquid over the surface of the gel it behaves slightly less randomly, because when it encounters the impression left by the last pathway it shows a small tendency to take that same path. If it does, that impression is reinforced.

Each time a particular path is reinforced, it becomes more likely that the next stream of liquid will follow it. After a while you end up with a few very well ingrained paths. It becomes harder and harder for streams to NOT follow one of these paths, and hence you end up with strong neural pathways (to return from the analogy).

IMO group decisions end up getting caught in a similar rut. Over time deep ingrained patterns are formed within groups that are hard to break. Lateral thinking is one of several mental tools that we have to break our individual habitual pathways of thought, as are disciplines like Zen. But to do this as a group, I think, is very, very difficult... and yet, sometimes this is what is needed.

You might enjoy the book "Ubiquity" by Buchanan, which deals well with this in an entertaining read.


I think there's a Zen question which goes something like "do you make a path, or does it make itself?" Turns out there's some pretty straightforward math which underlies the question.

Keep evolving those new paths!

The problem I have with the WotC is that the examples of success are actually quite limited. You have to go searching for them. On the other hand, crowds generally make OK decisions, and sometimes make really bad decisions, so on average

If there is WotC, then I would like to understand under exactly what conditions the "wisdom" arises. (Wisdom is a really bad term, IMO, but I'll go with it). Surowiecki's four criteria for creating a wise crowd are rather subjective. Your question could be rephrased as Does the Market meet the four criteria for a wise crowd?

I think the key criterion is independence. Some research has shown that trading markets are inherently based on both fundamentals and speculation, with traders adopting either strategy, but flipping at different thresholds. Speculation is basically a judgement of other's behavior, hence does not meet the criterion of independence. Determining in which mode a market (or its members) will behave may be impossible. So I think the answer to your question is not answerable.

Of course, the market itself is just one of many ways to organize people, having a market may itself not be wise. Would a market system have saved Easter Island? But it seems clear that having a market for copper led to deforestation of Cyprus, and a collapse of the industry. In order for a market to make "wise" decisions, it must price in externalities.

What I find remarkable about humans is the high degree of cooperation involved in society, a trait normally only found in colonies of genetically identical individuals. It is easier to see how a genetically identical crowd could pool opinion to form a best possible decision. It is harder to see how non-identical crowd can do the same, as the members of the crowd will also seek to gain personal advantage, even at the expense of a better outcome for the group. Indeed, humans live in a balance between personal advantage and group cooperation. Our intelligence is directed into creating social trust, so that we may cooperate without getting ripped off. Dialogue is used to negotiate terms and settle disputes. Perhaps this is how/why intelligence arose.

The fact that humans are sometimes capable of making selfless decisions which are best for the group are more likely exceptions, than something inherent which just needs encouraging.

The question also arises about complex computer programs making automatic trades of large blocks of commodities, stocks, etc. Is a computer considered a part of the 'crowd' because it was programmed by people?
I believe that the 'wisdom' of markets has been compromised by too much government intervention (PPT, etc) and too many large block trades made by machines. Intervention by the PPT is definitely a case where 'profit motive' might take a back seat to other economic and/or political motives.
Perhaps a group of people not associated with economic markets would be a better choice for a study of 'the wisdom of crowds'? For instance, one might start by studying betting on sports events at large Vegas casinos...after an opening line is set (usually by letting local professional gamblers place wagers) the 'line' is constantly adjusted by the sports books to reflect wagers placed on the event. The casino moves the 'line' to balance the wagers it is accepting because the casino is interested in a profit on a percentage of the wagers. A casino does not want to get caught on the wrong side of a game with lopsided wagering. Pro bookies working in casino sports books could probably provide lots of data on 'the wisdom of crowds'. :)

The difference is that traders affect the market they are trading in - and thus affect the outcome of the event they are "betting" on, whereas a sports bettor doesn't change the outcome of the event. I have plotted starting odds vs strike rate in horse racing, and they are very close.

I don't see a way to improve the market system to eliminate the possibility of "bubbles". It seems to be an inherent emergent property of the system. Perhaps because it is not zero sum. Positive feedbacks are inevitable.

Of course a market with absolutely no "erroneous fluctuations" is either operating with perfect information not just within the market but about future developments, or it's not encouraging innovation. (It's often quoted that in the UK that in the US successful entrepreneurs generally fail at the first one or two businesses that they start.) Speaking as a non-economist, the two big problems with recent stock market bubbles are (i) they're contain most of the players engaging in highly correlated behaviour and (ii) incredibly excessive credit/leveraging means they grow huge before they collapse. So if I were trying to do something, I'd be working more on figuring out how to force the collapse of fluctations which are unsupported by fundamentals before they grow to into huge bubbles.

"just machines to make big decisions, programmed by men with passion and vision"

I think the key criterion [among Surowiecki's 4] is independence.

Although I have not read the book, I agree.

At the same time, I think that non-interdependence, independence of thought, full diversity of thought, and total decentralization are impossible.

Members of the group must speak a same language (meaning not just English, but also an ability to communicate with each other in say, economics-framed memes or science-framed memes).

In order for that to happen (presence of a common language), there must have been a centralized education system (yea old school house) of sorts that got them all to talk in the same language and think in the same language.

If you look at the way humans actually behave, we seek to be in groups where everyone is like us. Likes seek likes. You see this more clearly during elections for President in the USA where certain religious groups coalesce behind a candidate whose religion or principles seems closest to theirs, behind a candidate whose ethnic background seems most aligned to theirs, and so forth.

Indeed, humans live in a balance between personal advantage and group cooperation. Our intelligence is directed into creating social trust, so that we may cooperate without getting ripped off. Dialogue is used to negotiate terms and settle disputes. Perhaps this is how/why intelligence arose.

I also agree that inside of each average human, there is a part that seeks personal advantage, a part that understands about group cooperation and a part that produces balances of sorts between the two.

The question however, is not whether each individual feels they are being treated fairly (not "getting ripped off") but rather whether the group is inherently driven towards making wise decisions for the long term success and sustainability of the group?

If we accept Jared Diamond's version of what happened on Easter Island, then it is likely that the stone cutters thought they were being treated fairly, that the wood cutters thought they were being treated fairly, and that everybody on the island was relatively happy with the balance and competition that drove the islanders toward building ever larger monuments (Moai heads) for publicly demonstrating their "wealth".

All the resources were pooled towards building a robust economy where everyone was competitively "employed". And yet, despite the competition and despite the decentralized job creation, this crowd kept making unwise decisions for itself.

Many in the TOD crowd are ready to accept as gospel the notion that there is "Wisdom in the Crowd".

They've obviously not been to a Democratic Party caucus. Lemmings.

cfm in Gray, ME

Step Back;

Won't get into the whole can'o'worms right now, but I'll start with

"Many at TOD" and "Gospel" - is this vaguely broad ad-hom that uses a Religious insinuation supposed to be part of your defense for the Wisdom of the Individual? or are you just looking for a fight?

and yes, "WE went to the Moon." We the people, We the species.. there were brilliant individuals, there were fantastic teams, there was some righteous pay. But people like you and I did this, not some 'superspecies'..



Not looking for a fight.
Looking for the Wisdom of the TOD crowd.
Thank you for your input.

I'm surprised by how emotional some here get over the proposition that "We" as a larger crowd (the American people? the world population?) did not go to the moon, but rather a much much smaller crowd (NASA) did it.

Was going to the moon "wise"?
I think the jury is still out on that question.

Hi Step Back;

I don't know in the final analysis whether those excursions will have proved really necessary, but it was still truly magnificent. That's one hell of a windmill to topple. The side-effects, of course have made it possible to have this conversation, and carry it in whatever direction we choose, and so find out how wise a Group we at TOD can be.. 'Timshel' The choice is ours..

I probably get adamant about the 'We' aspect of it as a reaction to the countless statements here (not necess. yours) that pin our troubles to 'dumb Americans', and class stereotypes, and old standards like 'Mob Rules', which DO exist, but often tell only about Half the story. Together, people can be a blind mob, or a powerful and wise force. Most often, theres a sloppy mix of the two.

"Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”

“And you?” said Samuel.

“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese.


Oh yeah. East of Eden. I remember that passage well. :-)

Of course the crowd always makes wise decisions. This is why the US always gets such wonderful, outstanding, flawless Presidents and other elected officials.


and by 'Crowd', you are of course referring to the Supreme Court, and a Corporatized Government that usurps most of our chance to vote or know what choices we have..

and who is saying that the crowds ALWAYS make wise decisions? Never say Always..

Hello TODers,

I got a kick out of this quote from Leanan's toplink: "Living in the dark has its own illumination"

Kansas could be squatting over a pocket of oil twice the size of the moon, but if its flow rate is equivalent to draining a swimming pool through a drinking straw, we'll still have a serious shortage.

IMO, concisely sums ups the difference between CERA vs ASPO/TOD. Reposted again for your enjoyment is Dave Cohen's quote:

CERA's productive capacity ruse

Let us state for the record for the umpteenth time that those concerned about peak oil evaluate the ability of the world to lift oil out of the ground or synthesize it for actual consumption, taking into account all of the factors that may affect how much oil can be produced now and will be produced in the future. No one cares about CERA's theoretical oil, nor should they.

Excerpt from an older post of mine on last year's CERAWeak Conf.:
Here is how I imagined the CERA yellow brick roadshow going down:

All the top level execs half listening, sitting there nodding their heads in pleased agreement thinking, "that's good propaganda for the MSM to spew to the unwashed masses. I think I will send another cheque to CERA to keep up the good work for 2008 too."

But back in their hotel rooms at night: carefully studying TOD, ASPO, EB, LATOC, and Dieoff like Billionaire Richard Rainwater. Then checking with their real estate agent on comparative costs for ....
Please read the five choices by clicking the link:


Link to Dave Cohen's Feb. 16, '07 keypost, "Houston, We have a Problem" and thread discussion:


If a Houston citywide blackout occurs during the '08 CERA getting underway tomorrow-- would these topdogs stick around to drastically change their discussion parameters? Or would their real estate brokers suddenly be swamped with requests?

Link to '08 CERA frontpage:

CERAWeek 2008--Quest for Security: Strategies for a New Energy Future
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Russian Oil Production growth may be negative this year.

Growth in Russia’s average daily oil production may be only, at best, 0.5% in 2008, and we could even see negative growth for the first time since 1998.


… within four or five years… Russia’s crude export volumes may drop from the current 5.4 mln bpd to about 4.5 mln bpd. Note that oil product exports add an additional 2.0 mln bbl on average each day.

As I noted earlier Russian January production is down 100 to 150 kb/d from December. I believe Russia peaked in 2007. At any rate we shall know a lot more by this summer.

Ron Patterson

Just about time to say - "Great Call WT".

I looks like this one is about to be checked off the list soon.

As we know, Sakhalin-1 is declining, but I thought that the wording in the following item was interesting--explicitly blaming the decline on depletion, when normally the "D" word is not discussed in polite company. Also, note the discrepancy between Rosneft's prior projection and the apparent reality for 2008.

Note that the EIA shows Russian crude oil production (through 10/07) to be between 9.4 and 9.5 mbpd since October, 2006. So the reported decline is following a year long period of basically flat production.

Oil Production under 'Sakhalin-1' Declining Because of Resource Depletion

MOSCOW, February 7. /FIS/ 'Sakhalin-1' operated by the US company Exxon Mobil will decrease production by more than 25% in 2008 because of resource depletion, as announced by Rosneft's representative. According to project documentation, oil production will total 7.9-8.2 million tons. The last year's peak of 11.2 million tons is in the past. The Russian party (Rosneft) expected that 2008 would bring about 10 million tons. Oil production in Russia over the last few years has stagnated. The growth of 2% in 2007 was due to Sakhalin only.
Source: Oreanda-Novosti. --

Gazprom indicated it wanted to double its oil production in ten years through exploration and development of Arctic resources. In this case they may have meant to try to double BOE - barrel of oil equivalent and rely mainly on natural gas developments from what I've been able to gather. The Russian oil industry has been looking towards East Siberia and the Pacific shelf north of China's Bohai Bay as places to prospect for oil and gas as well. One Russian oil executive was recently of the opinion that Russia's oil industry was peaking. A different Russian oil executive indicated that a peak in Russian oil production was decades away.

This may have been posted previously, but why not:


In a paper published online Monday in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, Dutch researchers found that the health costs of thin and healthy people in adulthood are more expensive than those of either fat people or smokers.

Of course, one wonders about the energy costs.

could it also be that thin and healthy ones live longer and die harder?

(Edit:now i read the article and it basically said the same)

Rich nations blamed for global warming, but not for all the right reasons

As forecast, China has overtaken the U.S. in carbon-dioxide emissions due largely to China’s heavy reliance on coal. Another factor is its well-publicized population of 1.3 billion. But per-capita emissions are much higher in developed countries, where populations are exploding due to immigration. The U.S. already releases four times the carbon per-capita each year as China. And the U.S. population, which has been doubling every 40 years, is headed for one billion by the end of this century!

A number of climate-change observers see population control as essential to arresting global warming. They blame expansive immigration policies of the U.S., Canada and Europe for rising emissions because every immigrant from a tropical or semi-tropical climate requires huge additional amounts of carbon-based energy in the much-colder climate.

Do these per capita numbers include the CO2 emissions from China's underground coal fires? I have read numerous articles from as early as 2004 that the coal fires in China emit more CO2 than all of the US auto's and light trucks combined.

The EU commision wants to admit another 20 million immigrants in to Europe. They never learn.

Re: Climate scientist they could not silence

How things have turned around.

Jail politicians who ignore climate science: Suzuki

Toward the end of his speech, Dr. Suzuki said that "we can no longer tolerate what's going on in Ottawa and Edmonton" and then encouraged attendees to hold politicians to a greater green standard.

"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act," said Dr. Suzuki, a former board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"It's an intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years."

I always thought what politicians could really use is corporal punishment. Doubt Tom Delay would have gone very far on K Street if he were worried about getting flogged...

A lot of politicians have to pay good money for a good flogging - why should they get it free?

FOMALOL...good one Dave.

A Guillotine in the Rose Garden is the vision I have always enjoyed.

And this fascist cretin was a board member for the Civil LIBERTIES Association?

Would that Orwell were alive today!

Yeah-the imprisonment of corrupt politicians has gone way too far in North America. It is an epidemic.

Hmm - I just don't buy that the guy was expressing himself with post-modernist irony.

Some supporters of the Global warming hypothesis make it emotionally very difficult to agree with them.

Who was that news media creature who wanted meteorologists banned from reading the weather on TV unless they followed the party line on global warming?

You left out this bit:

Didn't mean it literally says scientist's spokesperson

Then what exactly did he mean? There seems only one way to interprit it.

He was just emphasizing his point. People say things they don't mean literally. My mom often threatened to wring my neck, but she never did it.

He only added that AFTER he was taken to task for making the orgininal comments on two different occations. "Oh I REALLY didn't mean it that way." Yea, right. There's been a lot of this lately. Comparing skeptics to "holocost deniers". and yes threats of pulling one's livelyhood out from under them if they so much as breath a doubt in AGW.

FDIC Begins "Death Watch" of US Banks, Plans to Lower Insurance to $10,000 and Give Vouchers for Hamburgers or Tacos

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has begun a "death watch" on dozens of failing US banks which are drowning in their own debts and piles of worthless subprime, derivative and other investments.

"The FDIC has never supervised a bank failure with more than 175,000 accounts," an FDIC spokesman stated. "So the avalanche of bank failures we anticipate starting this year will challenge us to repay millions upon millions of depositors, making our job pretty well impossible."

The spokesman indicated the only way to pay anyone out of FDIC proceeds is to reduce insured deposits from $100,000 to $10,000 or less which is about all the FDIC fund could afford.

But acting with several American corporations, the FDIC will also give away vouchers entitling those who have lost their life savings to an added bonus of up to 10 free McDonald's hamburgers or up to 20 free Tacos at Taco Bell.

A spokesman at Taco Bell stated that their company is "thrilled to become an integral part of the FDIC program. It is our patriotic duty."

The Automatic Earth: Debt Rattle, January 10 2008

ilargi, I have been trying to register to leave comments at your site. No joy so far. How do I register? Thanks.


Standard in Blogger, at the bottom of each article, you can click on 'Comments', and at The Automatic Earth, you then get a comment window, where you have 3 options: Use a prefix ID if you have one, provide a nickname, or sign in as anonymous. In other words, you don't have to register, really.

Which gives me the chance to thank Leanan for suggesting I turn of the captcha, and for telling me there is such a thing, and that there is such a word, for that matter.

Other than that, I'm 'overhauling the site' these days, as you'll soon see. Thing is, while I'm fluent in 4 languages, XML is not one of them.

The FDIC deathwatch article is on a site called thespoof.com, and is entirely fictitious.

Yep, it is fictitious, but will long run reality prove it to be Too Optimistic? :(

Pretty much sums up the economic analysis here. Latch on to anything bad and publish it. If its bad, it must be right!

Yes, we know, and it's labeled that way on our site. A little levity from time to time is a good thing :)

Interesting op/ed piece from J R Nyquist at Financial Sense...and, its a slow Sunday afternoon so...here goes. BTW, isnt it interesting how FDR accomplished so much spying with so few spys? Now we have spook agencies falling over each other and what are they really accomplishing?...Other than the spying that they seem relentlessly intent upon increasing on US Citizens. Makes me wonder...Does Cheney consider US Citizens more dangerous than external enemies?...Or, does Cheney think that the US has been heavily infiltrated by external enemies?


Leanan...I am dissapointed that you chopped down my Nyquist post. Just curious...why? I know...Too long, just post link and short comment...but, I have posted much longer items in the past on slow days without them being decimated. Was it too politically incorrect?

To tell you the truth, I didn't read it. Too long.

Whether I decide to chop down a post depends on a lot of things. Like how long the thread is already, whether I have the time to do more careful editing, whether it's been posted before, and whether the poster is a serial offender or not.

The fact that you often post excessively long quotes is one reason I just chopped it off this time.

And I think you'll find that more people will read it if you post a carefully chosen short excerpt. Big blocks of text are a turnoff online. People tend to just scroll past them.

I occured to me that some readers/posters on TOD might be interested in a statement by 'Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has admitted that the U.S. military commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan “may have undermined the military’s ability to fight wars against major adversaries….”'

Or a statement like this one by Director Of National Intelligence Michel McConnell '“about the financial capabilities of Russia, China and OPEC countries and the potential use of their market access to exert financial leverage to political ends.”' might be of interest.

Apparently, a long thread concerning the half life of lead is of more immediate concern.

1) Those have been mentioned before. The second was a DrumBeat headliner just a few days ago.

2) If you're posting your own words and ideas, not someone else's, you get a lot more leeway as far as length goes. If there's a link, there's no need to post a huge quote. People who are interested can follow it.

Makes me wonder...

Does Cheney consider US Citizens more dangerous than external enemies?...

Or, does Cheney think that the US has been heavily infiltrated by external enemies?

Uh, The Former.

Millions in the streets is their WORST nightmare. Millions protesting or even thowing bombs a few thousand miles away aren't nearly as frightening.

Consider the kind of laws that have been passed and repealled. Most are directly or indirectly about martial law(or supporting laws) or domestic spying.

Just my opinion.

And away we go !!

"Chavez threatens to halt oil sales to US"


This could get interesting--
Joe Sixpack may need to bow toward Caracas, and kiss a photo of Lord Hugo's Ass before filling up the F150 for a trip to WalCrap for a case of Bud and Cheetos.
Of course, it will be the fault of the Gay Abortion providers.

Let's make sure that Mainers know who to point the finger at, eh?

(By which I DON'T mean Chavez. He may have made some errors in this course of events, but I think Exxon and Washington have HUGELY helped to paint him into this corner. How DARE he nationalize?)


"Germanio and other Austinites who have banded together to trade information and survival tips are preparing themselves for what they see as inevitable deprivations as oil production declines past its peak... As the anticipated peak oil crisis unfolds, Peakniks foresee a period in which the U.S. would devolve into the stone age."

Do they really think they are going to sit on that hill eating home grown grilled vegetables and taking solar showers while 2-million people sit huddled nearby shivering in the dark? I hope their next two investments are razor wire and .50 Cal ammo.

Sign of the times. 60 Minutes is running a segment on the US Mint making pennies and nickels. It costs the mint about 2¢ to make one penny and about 10¢ to make one nickel.

WT, sounds like the people at the mint should do what many other manufacturers are doing...downsize. Perhaps the mint could make pennies, nickles, etc, half their current size, like some candy bar makers have done.

Or, maybe the mint could stamp 2cents on the penny and 10 cents on the nickle, etc.

Or, perhaps they should brush up on classical economics...like:

'In economics, marginalism is the theory that economic value results from marginal utility and marginal cost. The theory of marginal utility was around 1870 being independently developed on somewhat similar lines by William Stanley Jevons in England, Carl Menger in Austria and Leon Walras in Switzerland. HH Gossen had also discovered of the connection between value in exchange and marginal utility, but it was ultimately forced into notice by the three European economists. These advances in economic thought are known as the Neoclassical Revolution (or Marginal Revolution).'

I guess we will know we are really in trouble when it costs them more than a dollar to print a dollar bill. . . .

Well, it's probably not the right metric comparing the construction cost with the face value. It costs 2 cents to make a penny, but how many transactions is it involved with during its lifetime? I don't know, say 100,000? Then the construction cost per transaction per penny would be 2x10^(-5) cents. In a normal transaction, you won't use more than a couple pennies, we'll say 10. So that'd be 2x10^(-4) or 1/5000 of a cent per typical transaction involving pennies.

The right metric is to throw the stupid idea of manufacturing pennies in the garbage can-logically it is time for the nickel to be phased out also.

Since 1992 newly minted British pennies are copper coated steel instead of copper - I presume they have the intention of phasing them out ... they're almost certainly cheaper to make but I would expect the plating to eventually wear off.


The designs of British coins will change very soon - I wonder whether they will take the opportunity to use less expensive materials in all of them?

My sense of value as I was growing up was the "gumball standard"; a penny would buy a gumball out of a machine anyplace I was likely to be. Gumball machines are now a quarter; the gumballs are larger in diameter but hollow unlike the dense "Ford" branded gumballs in the old machines (apparently the only major automaker to branch in this direction).

Any amount worth less than a gumball probably shouldn't have a coin anymore. So how about getting rid of everything under a quarter and rounding up all transactions as a part of a general sales tax and social consensus. Probably a 10-dollar coin would also be useful.

And say, to keep people from hoarding, how about making new coins somewhat radioactive? Would make 'em harder to counterfeit as well as keeping the old economy going a little longer.


has the current melt value of coin. Nickels are worth 125%, pennies are worth 66%, quarters, dimes, are worth 25%.

We will probably take two zeros off the dollar. One copper dollar, one nickel/copper five dollar, one nickel/copper 25 dollar, etc.

And say, to keep people from hoarding, how about making new coins somewhat radioactive? Would make 'em harder to counterfeit as well as keeping the old economy going a little longer.

That would certainly be money that was "burning a hole in your pocket"

For this very reason, New Zealand got rid of its 1c and 2c coins a fews years ago. More recently we also scrapped our 5c coins. 10c is our smallest denomination now...

Hello TODers,

I have posted before on how the Southeastern US drought poses a real fire hazard--I hope it is not now coming true:

Fires Strike the Carolinas and Virginia

More than 100 wind-whipped wildfires raged in South Carolina on Sunday, forcing hundreds of residents to flee homes and closing highways, in an outbreak that also affected rain-starved areas in North Carolina and Virginia.
Hope we don't have a repeat of conditions that caused the Peshtigo Firestorm:


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

None of those were here in the mountains. We've gotten some good rainfalls the past couple of months. We're still at a net deficit, but we're not hurting nearly as badly as places like Atlanta.