DrumBeat: April 17, 2008

How not to prepare for peak oil

Now that the price of a barrel of oil has topped $115, the words "peak oil" can be found just about anywhere -- including in the headline of an April 16 Financial Times editorial.

But "Preparing for the age of peak oil" offers little in the way of advice for how civilization might face up to a carbon-constrained future through such measures as conservation or energy efficiency or alternative energy technologies. Instead, the editorial recommends that Russia, which recently shocked the world by acknowledging that its domestic oil production appears to have peaked, should disavow its cold shoulder to foreign oil companies and cut domestic taxes holding back the oil industry...

Brazil mulls oil law change for future contracts

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil is mulling changes to its law and regulations for oil exploration and production but any shift would apply only to future contracts, Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said on Thursday.

"Concessions can be brought up to date, improved, but we don't want to change the rules of the game already underway. It will be for future (concessions)," Lobao told reporters.

Petrobras Still Trying to Assess Size of Oil Reserves

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, will need to complete more wells and studies to determine the size of oil reserves in fields off the country's southeastern coast.

Brazil: An economic superpower, and now oil too

Oil could transform Brazil's economy. But not necessarily for the better.

BP to raise its game

UK oil and gas giant BP needs to raise its game after a year where competitors were more successful at profiting from high oil prices, the company's Chief Executive Tony Hayward said.

Oil pipeline developers want North Dakota route changes

BISMARCK, N.D. - State regulators will hold a hearing next month on 49 proposed changes in the North Dakota route of the Keystone oil pipeline, which is intended to bring crude from western Canada to Oklahoma and Illinois.

Power company says carbon tax muddies plans

HELENA, Mont. - NorthWestern Energy Corp. told regulators Wednesday that rising fuel costs and the potential for carbon taxes are making it difficult to map the utility's energy future.

Teens turn to thrift as jobs vanish and prices rise

What makes this slump different, says Deloitte Research chief economist Carl Steidtmann, is the soaring cost of basics such food and gas, which have a direct impact on younger consumers.

Gas could reach $4 a gallon this summer, and prices for teen favorites like pizza and potato chips have all climbed, squeezing the amount of cash teens can spend elsewhere.

Take a load off: Toronto Hydro gives away free clotheslines

Toronto Hydro is giving 75,000 homeowners a “low-tech,” energy-saving device — a free clothesline.

Japan gives paper a cutting edge

TOKYO - Bend it, write on it, read it — just don't try to fold it into a paper plane. Electronic paper is Japan's answer to rising raw material costs, depleted resources and booming demand for printed matter from emerging markets such as China and India.

...E-Ink, which manufactures Sony's Reader tablet, says consumers will eventually embrace the energy-saving technology as the cost of paper and fuel goes up.

World Won't Be Able to Produce More Oil, Pickens Says

(Bloomberg) -- Boone Pickens, a billionaire energy investor, said world oil supply won't exceed 85 million barrels a day because of high depletion rates of existing wells.

Pickens, 79, the founder and chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said today in a speech at Georgetown University, that the price of crude oil will only continue to climb and demand will eventually be dampened.

``There is only 85 million barrels of oil globally in the market coming a day and I don't think you can increase that 85 million,'' Pickens said.

A controversial fighter in the climate-change debate

NASA's James Hansen frequently clashes with global warming 'deniers,' as well as the Bush administration.

Libya supports gas OPEC idea, Gaddafi says

TRIPOLI–Libya welcomes the idea of creating an OPEC-like group of gas-exporting countries, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi told Russian President Vladmir Putin, the official Jana news agency reported on Thursday.

"We support the idea of establishing an organisation of gas producing and exporting countries modelled on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)," it quoted Gaddafi as saying on Wednesday evening.

Peru Confirms Over 1 Billion Barrels Of Oil Reserves

Petro-Tech Peruana oil company on Wednesday confirmed reserves of 1.132 billion barrels of high quality oil off the coasts of the Peruvian provinces of Piura and Lambayaque.

Exploration chief of the Argentine capital Petro-Tech Peruana oil enterprise, Enrique Gonzalez, said that the San Miguel oil well alone, in Piura, has 323 million barrels of oil.

Shell, Aramco Get Extension to Drill in Empty Quarter

(Bloomberg) -- South Rub al-Khali, a Saudi Arabian joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco, got a government extension for its drilling program as it searches for natural gas in the region known as the Empty Quarter.

Cuba Postpones Drilling The Strip 'Til 2009

The decision to postpone drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was announced on the day that Cuba also stated it had produced its first 1 million tons of petroleum in 2008, a feat that gets the country closer to its goal of 4 million tons produced for the year.

"The progress of the program is very positive, and it says a lot about the results we are obtaining from the seismic studies and new exploration that we are continuing to make," Garcia said. "This makes us optimistic that we can continue working in the area of petroleum in Cuba."

China Adds 1.21 Billion Tons Of Oil Reserves In 2007

China added 1.21 bln tons of oil reserves and 697.4 bln cubic meters of gas reserves in 2007, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in a report.

The ministry did not specify whether the reserves are in the proven or recoverable category.

Energy crisis fuels gas reserves debate

A new EU directive on security of supply dictates that Ireland develop a strategic stockpile in case of global disruption. So, how prepared are we?

Pakistan: Coping with the energy crisis

One of the major problems facing the new government, the energy crisis, is intense, costly and multi-dimensional. The infuriating electricity and gas disruptions and soaring fuel prices in turn pushing the cost of living have made life difficult for people. The even before it took office the new government was greeted with two jumps in fuel prices, accounting for a 15% rise in two weeks. Meanwhile, crude oil prices have been registering all-time-highs, shooting 40% in the past year. The undeniable reality is that that this global spike will somehow have to be accommodated in energy prices in Pakistan.

Confirming the Obvious - High Oil Prices Stoke Nationalisation

As oil prices rise, global oil companies may seem to be making up for previous times when revenues barely covered production costs. However, the oil executives know all too well that high oil prices are a mixed blessing. Echoing the title of Terry Karl’s 1997 book, Eni’s CEO Paolo Scaroni called this situation “the paradox of plenty”: while high oil prices bring high cash flows, they also raise the bargaining power of oil-producing countries. Their governments resort to the policies of “a 1970's style of resource nationalism riding along the crest of high prices,” in the words of Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Mouawad, 2006). Governments deny private companies access to new oil fields and nationalise the fields that the private companies have started to develop.

Hunger threat looms over the world

The bad situation is made worse by the fact that for many years huge resources have been invested into the production of biofuels in order to prevent an energy crisis. Their production is fairly expensive, and is not always justified economically. Moreover, it is withdrawing considerable resources from the food market, thereby making food even more expensive.

Unable to afford increasingly expensive food, the poorest people, above all in countries with backward economies, are struggling for survival. In the World Bank's estimate, rocketing global food prices have set back the fight against poverty and hunger by seven years.

South Africa: Eskom accused of 'blackmailing' consumers

The Independent Democrats (ID) Chief Whip, Lance Greyling, has accused Eskom of using its monopoly on energy to blackmail the South African public. Greyling says Eskom's attempt to try and force a 53% tariff increase down the throats of the consumers is blackmail.

China agrees to pay triple for potash fertilizer

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Chinese fertilizer importers agreed on Wednesday to pay more than triple what they did a year ago to reserve tight supplies of potash, sending the shares of global fertilizer makers to record levels.

Role of Potash as strategic resource could push China to make acquisitions

Demand for potash and other nutrients has got its own dose of Miracle-Gro in the past few years as emerging economies boost their protein intake. So if countries like China are snatching up oil and gold assets, what’s to stop them from making acquisitions in the fertilizer market since the supply of these materials appears to be of equal, if not greater, strategic importance?

Change in farming can feed world - report

Sixty countries backed by the World Bank and most UN bodies yesterday called for radical changes in world farming to avert increasing regional food shortages, escalating prices and growing environmental problems.

But in a move that has led to the US, UK, Australia and Canada not yet endorsing the report, the authors said GM technology was not a quick fix to feed the world's poor and argued that growing biofuel crops for automobiles threatened to increase worldwide malnutrition.

Q&A: "Increase Agricultural Productivity While Reducing the Environmental Footprint" - Interview with Robert Watson

IPS: Does IAASTD call for the end of large-scale monocultures?

RW: If monocultures can be modified so they are environmentally and socially sustainable, then they're OK. You can't undermine agriculture's natural resource basis -- the soil, water, biodiversity and so on -- because eventually it will collapse.

Against the grain

Thousands have abandoned bread altogether, troubled by bloating, irritable bowels or some apparent intolerance for wheat. Coeliac disease - for which the only cure is complete avoidance of the gluten in wheat, rye, barley and oats - now affects at least one person in 100, but sensitivity to wheat is detectable in as many as one in five.

Bread has changed. One disturbing possibility is that modern farming and industrial baking produce bread that more and more people cannot and should not eat. The "green revolution" spawned new high-yielding varieties of wheat designed to work with the artificial fertilisers and pesticides used in intensive farming. But recent research suggests that these new wheats have fewer minerals and vitamins than traditional varieties and more of the proteins that cause "leaky gut" type conditions.

Matt: Simmons: Crude awakening

"Peak-oil is a reality, and it makes global warming look like a trivial problem. The immediacy of peak oil takes so long before we can do anything to prepare for how to go about using less oil - we might be lucky enough to have it 4/5 years away but it isn't decades away - I say the likelihood of that is 1%," he adds.

Claiming that the world's data on production, demand and inventories is alarmingly inaccurate, Matthew Simmons says the concept of peak-oil is closer than we think, and there are a number of trends and patterns evident in the past that will continue to dominate the present and future.

The Next U.S. President Will Be the Chauncey Gardiner of Energy

It is certain that the United States is in for a shock in energy prices and especially in energy supplies – the likes of which have never been seen or imagined. While high prices can be tolerated to a reasonable extent, all hell will break loose if massive supply disruptions emerge. We are much closer to them than people think, and not because of peak oil, which is still decades away. Those who think that we can conserve ourselves to energy independence need not read any further. They are wrong, and it is pointless to try to show them otherwise.

The first proof positive of trouble to come: it is clear that for all three potential U.S. presidential candidates, Senators John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, the primary sources, which provide 87 percent of U.S. energy (oil, gas, and coal) are of no consequence – other than popular notions like freedom from the “tyranny of oil.” Their lack of interest is breathtaking, considering that whoever gets elected will probably be confronted with $120-a-barrel oil.

The Demise of Oil - Energy Security Concerns, Global Antagonism and Dilemmas

Worldwide oil consumption has increased some 25% over the past decade; more than 85 million barrels of oil are needed to meet the daily needs of the globe. With the present consumption rates, the oil era will end in less than 40 years.

Byron King: The Automotive Energy Revolution

Every automobile on the roads of the world reflects a long and complex chain of industrial production and energy usage. Yet we live in a world where many of the highest quality resources and energy supplies have already been exploited. And lower quality resources are more expensive to extract and exploit, if they are even available. So the world’s automobile industry is in the midst of a revolution in both resource availability and energy consumption.

Out of the Yard and Onto the Fork

Kitchen gardens are as old as the first hunter-gatherers who decided to settle down and watch the seeds grow. Walled medieval gardens protected carefully tended herbs, greens and fruit trees from marauders, both human and animal. The American colonists planted gardens as soon as they could, sowing seeds brought from Europe.

Call them survivor gardens.

Now, they are being discovered by a new generation of people who worry about just what is in that bag of spinach and how much fuel was consumed to grow it and to fly it a thousand miles.

Feeding The Suburbs

I have a book someone gave me entitled Five Acres and Independence. I’ve had it for a while, and having that book seemed to reinforce my (mistaken) notion that in order to be self-sufficient, I needed an acreage. I needed land, lots of land and the starry sky above ….

At any rate, a 1/4 acre wasn’t going to do it.

I didn’t know that a large portion of the world’s farmers are working land that isn’t much bigger than the average American suburban lot.

Oil price hits record high 115.54 dollars

LONDON (AFP) - The price of New York oil hit a record high 115.54 dollars per barrel on Thursday, boosted by falling US energy reserves and a weak dollar which attracts investors into commodities, analysts said.

New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, later stood at 115.23 dollars, up 30 cents from Wednesday's close.

Many of China's 'resource' towns are dying

YUMEN, China: Dying towns may seem rare in a booming China, but the expanses of rubble and abandoned homes that ring this formerly wealthy oil center identify Yumen as one of them. And although Yumen is home to just a few thousand people in a country of more than 1.3 billion, Beijing's stability-obsessed government is worrying about their future.

Officials worry because Yumen's poor, disgruntled inhabitants are the thin end of a wedge of discontent that could engulf hundreds of thousands of people within a decade unless the central government can resolve one of the more obscure but troubling legacies of past socialist policies.

The potential troublemakers live in dozens of "resource towns" that were built across China by Mao-era economic planners to exploit energy or mineral deposits regardless of how remote or inhospitable the location. Now, some seams of oil, coal and ore are starting to run out, increasing unemployment and migration while leaving behind shells of towns that are impoverished tinderboxes of unrest.

Activists criticize Kamchatka oil plans

SEOUL, South Korea - Russian, U.S. and South Korean activists are appealing to the South Korean government and oil companies to withdraw from a project prospecting for oil near the isolated Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East.

China edible oil producers say no knowledge of price hike rejection

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - Singapore's Wilmar said it is unaware of any reversal of its approved 10 pct rise in cooking oil prices.

Earlier today The Economic Observor reported that Wilmar unit Kerry Oils & Grains, along with three other major food makers, were denied permission to increase prices of cooking oil.

Kazakhstan to Start Taxing Crude Exports in 30 Days

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan, holder of 3.3 percent of the world's oil, will begin taxing crude exports in 30 days to ensure domestic supplies and raise cash amid a tightening on global credit markets.

Native chief seeks help of Venezuela's Chavez

WINNIPEG — An outspoken Canadian native leader is urging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to throw his weight behind an attempt to block two multibillion-dollar pipelines that will transport oil from Alberta to the United States.

Preparing for the age of peak oil

Russia’s vast oil and gas reserves were seen not so long ago as the best hope of meeting growing world energy demand. No more. This week a top Russian oil executive echoed earlier official warnings that oil production could fall for the first time in a decade.

An output slump would hit consuming nations hard by sending international oil prices even higher. Russia would lose out too by forgoing tax revenues. But Moscow can prevent this – and create the conditions for a recovery in production.

Logistics News: Is Dramatic Slowdown in Russian Oil Production Another Proof Point for Peak Oil Theorists?

Peak Oil theorists, who include both some fringe elements along with very serious, mainstream engineers and other experts, got a boost this week when the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that for the first time in a decade, Russian oil production levels dropped in the first quarter, contributing to the further rise in oil and gas/diesel prices the past few days.

While Russian officials first blamed the weather and spotty electric capacity, they also pointed to some potential issues with the aging oil fields found mostly in Siberia – the exact type of scenario that Peak Oil advocates would predict would happen.

What future awaits Russia and the world after oil

Andrey Parshev, author of the scandalous bestsellers “Why Russia Isn’t America” and “Why is America Advancing,” is known for his boisterous remarks that initially seem absurd, but have the habit of coming true. Ten years ago, Russian politicians laughed at Parshev's comment about the U.S. attacking Iraq. Similarly, economists were quick to joke when Parshev said the U.S. dollar would drastically lose value sometime around 2007.

Parshev’s new book will hit store shelves soon. With the working title “Winter of the Giants,” the book dissects how events will unfold in Russia and abroad when all the country's oil has been extracted. KP invited Parshev to an Internet conference with our readers. The author addressed numerous issues – many are unrelated to hydrocarbons.

The “long emergency” and the new normal

It is increasingly difficult to dismiss the sense that economic and social systems we've come to regard as "normal," locally and globally, are strained to the limit and breaking down. Crude oil nudging $112 a barrel send motor fuel prices to record highs. People in Haiti rioting and booting their prime minister in protest and frustration over skyrocketing food prices. People killed in food riots in West Africa. These seemingly disconnected phenomena are part and parcel of a perfect storm of converging factors including energy shortages, climate change, and a third-world population explosion that will oblige us to redefine "normal."

We are arguably already in what author and activist James Howard Kunstler dubbed in is 2006 book of the same title, The Long Emergency.

Delta/Northwest May Spark More Airline Mergers

The proposed merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines is likely to spur other carriers to go after the cost savings and brand recognition required to survive amid high fuel prices and a weak US economy.

Two factors mean the end of air travel as we know it

In crafting policy around air travel, governments both here abroad are flying by the seat of their pants.

The world is starting to be affected by the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil, but many involved in transportation planning are looking the other way.

In fact, it's easy to believe air travel will keep on expanding, given all the jam-packed airplanes, delayed flights and crowded airports. But cracks are appearing.

G8 business chiefs spar over climate measures

TOKYO (AFP) - World business chiefs gathered here Thursday to discuss ways to tackle global warming as trans-Atlantic tensions emerged over how far industry should go to reduce emissions.

The heads of the business federations of the Group of Eight industrialised nations agreed that climate change needs serious attention.

But in a joint statement issued after the one-day meeting they said companies should not be "unduly penalised by unbalanced policy measures that would divert resources away from investments in innovation."

Bush: US to halt greenhouse gas rise by 2025

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush Wednesday called for US greenhouse gas emissions to be curtailed from 2025, but was roundly accused of doing too little, too late to combat climate change.

Bush climate plan criticized for lacking urgency

PARIS (Reuters) - The world needs tougher action to combat global warming than a plan by President George W. Bush to halt a rise in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions only by 2025, delegates at a climate conference in Paris said on Thursday.

South Africa, one of 17 nations at the two-day global warming talks that started on Thursday, called Bush's proposals "disappointing" and unambitious when many other industrialized economies are already cutting emissions.

"There is no way whatever that we can agree to what the U.S. is proposing," South African Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said in a statement.

Oceans Absorbing Less CO2 May Have 1,500 Year Impact

VIENNA - Global oceans are soaking up less carbon dioxide, a development that could speed up the greenhouse effect and have an impact for the next 1,500 years, scientists said on Wednesday.

Stern review author paints bleaker picture on climate change

LONDON (AFP) - Nicholas Stern, the author of a key climate change report, said in an interview published Thursday that he and his team "underestimated" the risks of global warming.

..."We underestimated the risks ... we underestimated the damage associated with the temperature increases ... and we underestimated the probability of temperature increases," he told the business daily.

"The damage risks are bigger than I would have argued ... We can't be precise about what it would be like but you can say it would be a transformation."

The Financial Times, according to the WSJ, has a story that blames the recent decline in Russian oil production on a lack of access by foreign oil companies. Russia needs to emulate the “success” that we have seen in Texas and the North Sea, where these two regions–developed by private companies, using the best available technology, with virtually no restrictions on drilling–have seen respective decline rates of -4%/year and -4.5%/year respectively.

What drives the peak phenomenon in all of these producing regions is that we tend to find and then deplete the big fields first, and the smaller fields that we find post-peak can’t offset the declines from the big fields. Historically, in post peak regions we can make money finding smaller fields, but we can't match the peak production rate.

They said the same thing about Nigeria yesterday.

The story is posted above. It's "Preparing for the age of peak oil."

I had an oil conversation with a guy at an R2D2 builders get-together last weekend who was convinced that the reason US and Texas production was down was that it was cheaper to get the imported stuff, and that they were just waiting to pump again. Besides which, he heard that there was a food-safe genetic mod on corn that would prompt the non-food portions of the plant to self-digest into the fuels or towards them at any rate. (I didn't ask at What rate, however) I simply said re: the US oil, that I didn't buy it, that we were running on fumes and couldn't pump any more if we wanted to, and that at $110, (Last weekend, the good old days) anyone with a well would be happy to be selling that oil.

Like many people I talk to, he is a smart guy who has gotten a broad mix of good and bad info. (I'm sure I'm no exception) But that reminds me.. is Economides always this funny? Yikes, today's story reminds me of Churchill's 'Protecting the truth with a Bodyguard of Lies.' .. Peak Oil for him is still decades away, while Biofuels are already off the table, Renewables are inadequate (and for BAU, I completely agree), and somehow ANWR would bring us back to the heady days of $90 oil? That was August/September, I guess.. Where is the rest coming from? Did he hear about Russia or Mexico yet?

Thanks for listening.. what's your take on Economides?


Regarding the guy you had a conversation with (a "Yerginite"), he is a prime candidate to buy some energy dependent stuff from Peak Oilers.

Regarding Ecnomides, he is an odd duck. He has been predicting $100 oil for a while, but he asserts that Peak Oil is a long time away, and oddly enough, he also agrees with Electrification of Transportation, but again it won't be needed for decades.

I debated him in October, at Texas A&M, over the timing of Peak Oil. The most memorable exchange, which I have previously described, was over Saudi Arabia.

I showed the Texas/Saudi slide and noted that Saudi production was down in 2006 and 2007. He responded with an EIA slide showing Saudi production up. I replied that I didn't know where the slide came from, but production was down. He said it was up. I offered to bet him $1000 that it was down. When I pinned him down on the details of the bet, he admitted that he was talking about "Productive Capacity" (PC). I described PC to the audience in the following way, I said that I had the capacity to date Julia Roberts, but was it a realistic possibility that we would be dating next week? (All hypothetical, my Alpha Female spouse is much prettier.)

Economides replied that he had dated Julia Roberts (general laughter followed).

Sounds to me like he's living in the early 80's. In Oklahoma in the early - mid 1980's we did cap hundreds if not thousands of wells that were producing less than 5 barrels and in some cases more a day. Because they were just not profitable whether beacuse of cheap foreign oil or other causes. Now all of them have been reopened and anything that can produce is producing, this is not new has been going on since the mid 90's. They have even started production with new extraction techniques in what were long dead fields. Texas has done the same and I'm betting it's the same in any region in the USA that produces oil or gas.

Junkies never believe there's a supply problem -- they always believe that you are just refusing to let them have what they need. If the junkie has a gun, he'll insist on entering your house to look for it.

That was my thought reading the Gordon Brown story yesterday.. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_...
"If some of the people who have them don’t want to sell (even if one asks nicely, as Gordon Brown tried yesterday) supply will be limited and prices will go up."

'Gimme, gimme, gimme, I need, I need, I need!'
Bob, in 'What about Bob?'


I assumme most have by now spotted this article on Westexas' talk at UCSB:


If you weren't happily married, I'd say you should definitely use this pic in your online personal. I supposse you could still do so assuming the Alpha-Female in your life approved of said activities:


It communicates:

1) I'm smart (the glasses)

2) I'm active (the outdoors motif)

3) I'm adventuresome (the Indiana Jones hat)

4) I don't take myself too seriously (the slightly goofy smile)

Just out of curiosity, was that taken by somebody from the newspaper or was it a vacation/trip pic you sent them? I'm guessing the latter since the pics the papers take usually suck.

You were kind enough not to note that I was working mightily on sucking the stomach in. Said image was taken by the extremely attractive Alpha Female in my life. UCSB didn't like the one I initially sent, which was basically a passport photo. (Definition of a successful geologist: one who has a spouse with a good job.)

Over on the EB link to the article, I posted a minor correction or two, and I noted that I was essentially presenting the excellent quantitative work that Khebab did in our Top Five Net Oil Exporters paper. The Independent writer did a good job of capturing the overall context of the event, but it's easy to miss some of the nuances and there were some minor errors (Saudi Arabia is the world's largest net oil exporter, but Russia is the largest oil producer).

I had fun tweaking the Santa Barbarans Tuesday night. I pointed out that if you drive out west of Fort Worth, you soon see wind generators as far as the eye can see--from horizon to horizon. I asked them why there weren't wind generators along the coastal range. Of course, they want to preserve their "view," but when they begin to contemplate the alternative, wind generators may become much more attractive to the eye with time.

It's all a matter of perspective. When I arrived at Texas A&M in 1975, shortly after A&M went coed (resulting in a huge ratio of males to females), I found that there were no unattractive girls at A&M. Some were just prettier than others (I borrowed this phrase from Robert Heinlein).

RE: Wind vs views

We've got the same issue out here. Best wind energy potential in entire SE US, but it is all on the ridgetops, which are all protected.

The thing is, our population around here is not that high, it would not take all that many WTs to provide us with the power WE need. That will probably happen eventually, as just a few WTs on a few peaks is something we could live with.

If WTs line every ridgetop in order to fully utilize the potential resource, it would be to generate surplus power for the cities in the Piedmont. Folks here in the mountains would be justified in asking why our views (upon which our tourism-based local economy depends) should be spoiled just so that exurban McMansions in Charlotte or Atlanta can continue to be kept at 74F in the winter and 68F in the summer?

That is a good picture.

When were you at Olduvai?


Of course, there are some wind farms in California's coast ranges, though not by Santa Barbara. There's a big one along the 580 corridor between Livermore and Tracy in Altamont pass, and a smaller one on Pacheco Pass overlooking the San Luis Reservoir. I think all the other big CA wind farms are on mountains abutting the desert, or in the desert near a pass--Tehachapi to Mojave or near Palm Springs, etc. The timing of wind in those places is often a good match to air conditioning load.

Mark Folsom

I had the opportunity to ask some people in Livermore what they thought of the wind farms and they didn't like them them because they're noisy and it drives the land prices down. My guess however is that those turbines are the older type with props that spin very quickly. I used to live in Wyoming and got about 1/3 of my power from a wind farm (unfortunately I had to pay for the privilege). They were pretty different from the ones in Livermore or in southern california: they had a transmission on them so they'd change gear to suit the wind speed and keep the props rotating at a constant rate. This keeps the noise down and increases the lifetime of the prop (less stress fractures). Also, they'd stop themselves and turn to face the wind when it changed directions. Even hiking around the base of the hill it was on you couldn't hear anything. I can't remember talking to anyone who lived there who thought those were a bad thing, but gorgeous vistas are in no short supply in Wyoming and maybe people won't miss a few of them.

The Altamont Pass wind farm is definitely one of the older ones.


Just to put you at your ease, it's not just because you have a pretty face that we like to read your postings.

One question: you are reported as having said that "if a wind farm were placed on Santa Cruz Island, it would supply 100 times the energy needed by Santa Barbara".

Santa Barbara has a population of approx. 90 thousand. According to your calculations that means that by converting Santa Cruz Island (approx 35 km long x 7 km wide) into a wind farm it would provide enough energy for 9 million people.

Are you sure about that? It sounds like a tall story to me.

I can't vouch for the amount of electricity you could produce, but the area around Santa Cruz island is one of the windiest places in California.

Hmmm - according to the Mountains Conservancy

"Santa Cruz Island supports more than a thousand species of plants and animals, including 12 found nowhere else on Earth. Among these unique species is the island fox, an endearing creature the size of a small house cat. Historically, island foxes have occupied the top spot in the Channel Islands food chain. But in recent years, predatory golden eagles have laid waste to the native island fox population on Santa Cruz. The Nature Conservancy is working with the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners on a science-based Island Fox Recovery Project to save the fox from extinction."

Don't raptors have real problems dealing with windfarms? (Altamont Calif. closes it's windmills each year for a couple months for bird migrations - mostly raptors are victims I believe)

so that's how you sell it as a win-win - Santa Barbara county gets renewable energy from Santa Cruz Island and the eagles that are wiping out an endangered species get taken care of (in a Sopranos meaning of the term "taken care of"). Everybody wins and we can keep the wineries of Santa Ynez producing excellent syrahs post-peak (now in other words).

I gave three presentations at UCSB, and the wind number came from one of the UCSB prof's at the second presentation. He may have been talking about locating windfarms on all of the islands offshore from Santa Barbara County.

Where my Alpha-Females at?

Slightly Goofy Smile

Outdoors Motif


For a few seconds, I thought also it was a picture for the new Indiana Jones movie.

It is,
Spielberg and Ford just don't know it yet.

'Men will kill for it, men like you and me..'

'..I am a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a small nudge to make you like me..'
-Belloq,(Paul Lacey) Raiders of the Lost Ark

Westexas & Khebab starring in:

Indiana Jones & the Net Export Crash: Electrify or Die

BTW, I should have mentioned up top that I met a lot of really smart people (in Khebab's league, not mine) at UCSB doing some very important work, especially on energy efficiency and photovoltaics, among other topics, and the highlight of the trip for me was having dinner with a group of professors and one of their Nobel Laureates Monday night.

i think that is the khebab........er i mean kaibab limestone in the background.

Sorry I could not resist:

That could be used for your next presentation, we need to sexup the peak oil dossier.

This is too good. My wife got a huge kick out of it. Too bad the real bod doesn't match the graphic. Could you e-mail this to me as an attachment?

We appear to have a difference of opinion regarding oil exports:

GCC (Middle Eastern) crude exports set to double in 2030
By Nadim Kawach on Wednesday, April 16 , 2008

Crude exports by the UAE and other Middle East oil heavyweights are expected to double in 2030, while their gas sales will jump by more than six times, according to a prominent Western oil analyst. From around 18 million barrels per day in 2005, the region’s total oil exports are projected to surge to more than 36 million bpd in 2030, said Noe van Hulst, Secretary-General of the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum (IEF). The rise will boost the Middle East’s share of world’s crude oil supplies to more than 30 per cent in 2030 from about 22 per cent in 2005, the Norwegian oil veteran told an oil conference in Mexico last week.

“The Middle East was the top oil supplier in 2005 and is expected to remain so in 2030,” he said in a speech sent to Emirates Business on Wednesday. Hulst gave no breakdown, but according to the US Energy Information Administration, Saudi Arabia will remain the dominant oil supplier, with its crude exports swelling to 17.1m bpd in 2030 from around nine million bpd in 2005.

Out (Khebab/Brown) middle case has Saudi Arabia specifically, and the top five net oil exporters (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran, UAE) collectively approaching zero net oil exports around 2031, and I estimate that the top five 2006 and 2007 net export decline averaged about 900,000 bpd, from a peak of 23.5 mbpd in 2005, on track to approach zero in the 2031 time frame.

Below your comment in the thread is the recent quote by King Abdullah. I interpret him as saying KSA will behave as if they've peaked and stage a managed decline for the future generations' benefit, which is akin to Campbell's Protocol. I think many of us would like to read your comment on the King's statement. Thanks.

Jeff, thanks for the link. I hope you got as big a laugh out of it as I did. I liked this quote from Mr. van Hulst:

Hulst’s figures showed oil exports by transition economies, including Russia, would rise from around eight million bpd in 2005 to 12m million bpd in 2030,

Apparently Russia hasn't gotten the word. Most reports out of Russia paint a bleak picture of Russian oil production in the future, saying it peaked in 2007 and is set to decline sharply in the next several years. Mr van Hulst should ring them up and straighten them out immediately. Those damn Russians don't seem to have a clue as how much oil they really have.

Ron Patterson

Curiously, the 17 mbpd figure is exactly 3% export growth from 2006 to 2030. 3% being the average growth expected for Business as usual.

In short, it's wishful thinking!

This Noe van Hulst chap must have an Excel spreadsheet that is only capable of calculating one row of calculations at a time...

Did he not even consider the obvious internal growth in demand of their own product, its incredibly blinkered stuff.

Anyone care to work out what the GROSS Middle East Output would have to rise to given their current internal demand growth? (Is it as simple as 36 + 18mbpd ?)


Needs to be carrying coil of geophones. Otherwise, LOL!

I can't find the link, but BBC World News this morning reported that Nigerian Oil Production may go down by about 30% in 5 years.


They can't find enough investment money to keep the fields producing at current rates.

Here's a link, though not at the BBC:

Nigeria’s oil output could fall by a third, says report

Nigeria risks losing a third of its oil output by 2015 unless it finds ways to boost investment in joint ventures with foreign energy companies, an internal report by President Umaru Yar’Adua’s energy advisers warns.

The progess report, seen by the Financial Times, highlights the government’s need to find ways to finance the oil industry in the country. It comes after an internal memo from the Shell Petroleum Development Company late last year that said funding problems could put the existence of the company’s joint venture with the Nigerian government at risk.

I keep thinking of Gail's most recent post....

Peak Financing.... I see it in the rear view mirror....

I think the credit crisis is going to have more of an impact on the energy than most realize. Indeed, it will probably blamed for the problem, instead of peak oil.

Look at the USD Index.

See that triangle building around 72?

The most reliable tech indicator is the (bear/bull) triangle.

"That nice little triangle, by the way, will take us to 65 on the DX if it breaks as expected, likely all at once, which is another 15% devaluation of the dollar from where we are here, and that will immediately translate into oil, food, and all products (we import basically everything, as we've allowed corporations to send most of our industrial production overseas to Vietnam and China, with "customer disservice" going to India.)


That by itself should push gas to $4.

I have been watching that triangle develop too. Looks like a bearish triangle to me with most of the trading happening near the bottom side. Those things generally break down. The major trend is down so that would make sense.

I watch the dollar index because it is important for grain prices. When the dollar falls, it makes it easier of foreigners to buy high priced grain. There seems to be good foreign demand for soybeans now even at these high prices. I would have thought Brazil and Argentina would be selling more beans. Argentine farmers are in a snit because the government wants to capture the profit from high prices with a soybean export tax.

They are refusing to sell and even blocking roads thereby putting pressure on the government and people in the cities. If the anti bio fuel types ever go so far as that in the U.S., I doubt farmers here would respond that harshly. But who knows for sure until it happens. Maybe it wouldn't happen in the U.S. because most anti bio-fuel folks seem to be more concerned about foreigners than Americans, especially farmers.

It's something that is hard for me to understand: Why should the United States sacrifice its own self interest for others when they seldom if ever sacrifice their self interest for Americans? Americans are always supposed to be the patsy for some reason. If OPEC, for example, raises prices or refuses to increase production it is just something to be endured by Americans and the rest of the world including the very poor. But if America uses its own resources to produce bio fuel it is a major disaster for the the world's starving poor and must be stopped.

How is it the responsibility of the United States to feed the world while wealthy OPEC states go scott free because they don't have any grain to sell? They have the money. They can buy grain and have it shipped where ever to save the starving. Go after Saudi Arabia et al and get them to bail out places like Haiti and Bangladesh. But no, oil wealth is somehow sacrosanct and untouchable. Bullshit.

I happen to think the United States has been deadly good at looking out for our self interests first.

Just to be an optimist for a moment ...
The hedge fund guys just might be inclined
to invest in the debt financing energy projects
of all types vs slice and diced mortgages and
student loans ....

Triff ..

Their problems probably have more to do with aboveground risks than anything, but it does point out that just because the resource is theoretically in the ground does not necessarilly mean that the financial capital can or ever will be available to get the resource out of the ground. A lot of projections, especially optimistic ones, fail to really allow for this.

WNC Observer,

The BBC reporter said that the politicians blame the fighting, but supposedly the lack of capital accounted for a majority of the loss of current production.

Then suddenly, a few decades into the twenty-first century, the growth of the economy stops and reverses rather abruptly. This discontinuation of past growth trends is principally caused by rapidly increasing costs of non-renewable resources. This cost rise works its way trhough the various economic sectors in the form of increasingly scarce investment funds.

Limits to Growth, The 30 Year Update. pg 170

I though i'd read this story before...

From the NYT yesterday...

On Saturday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia also said that new oil discoveries in the kingdom would remain untapped to preserve the nation’s oil wealth for future generations, according to various reports.

“Let them remain in the ground for our children and grandchildren who need them,” the king said in a speech, quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.

article here:


Oh, my.

King Abdullah acting responsibly? Will wonders never cease. I wonder how long we'll allow him to be king if he follows through on it.

Same amount of time as Brazil, see the headline "Petrobras Still Trying to Assess Size of Oil Reserves" story at top.

"A field that size would make it the third-largest field ever discovered and would be big enough to supply every U.S. refinery for six years."

Good to see that the Brazilian field is being measured by how long it would supply US refineries:-)

Am I the only one who sees this as an incredibly significant statement? After both Bush and Cheney visited personally, and Brown begged from afar this week, the King has basically drawn a line in the sand. SA will pump what they feel like, when they feel like it.

There is no longer a swing producer in the global oil market.

Are we screwed or what?

I agree with you that the statement should receive much more attention, especially in light of all the high level contacts.

But then I also read it as a politician retiring "to spend more time with my family".

Am I the only one who sees this as an incredibly significant statement?

No, but most of the rest of us discussed it last weekend when it was first published. :-)

Well... I think the good king's quote should be saved and rotate with the rest of the quoted wisdom in the quote box in the upper right hand corner.

I'd include quotes of GWB's and Gordon Brown's requests for more oil supply...


I'd rotate Ali al-Naimi's consistant refusals to pump more oil.

That quote box would be more powerful if it reflected current events.

Translation from arabic:
We can't pump any more.
Move along people. Nothing to see here.

Thanks for more commentary on this quote. I included it in one of my comments yesterday and also in my as-yet unpublished comment to Krugamn's blog. I think it also must be seen in the overall context of the several recent, highly unusual public commentaries/criticisms of BushCo policies by top rulers within KSA. One of the longer items of analysis from Europe linked above mentions the need/desirability for an international treaty like Campbell's Oil Depletion Protocol to stem the very undesirable chaotic aspects Peak Oil will impose on the world. I believe a very inportant opportunity has presented itself by the Russians admitting they're peaking and by King Abdullah's saying KSA is going to behave as if they've peaked. I expect other OPEC members to join the bandwagon with KSA soon.

Apparantly, the first Reuters report of Abdullah's speech was posted to last Sunday's DrumBeat and prompted some ensuing discussion, all of which I missed, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3842#comment-330122 A search of Google news shows the NY Times as the only publication, aside from Reuters's newswire, to report it, which was done on Wednesday, thus the renewed discussion. The protocol seems to be if it was discussed Sunday, there's no longer any need to discuss it again. So westexas, there's no further need for you to comment as your previous comments will do just fine, or so the protocol suggests.

Signs of the times.

Soaring Fuel Costs Push Continental to Loss

Fuel was the leading culprit, jumping 53 percent -- or $364 million -- and surpassing labor as the airline's largest expense.

Southwest Profit Plunges on Fuel Costs

Southwest Airlines says soaring fuel costs slashed its first-quarter profit by almost two-thirds.

Steep Loss at American Airlines Illustrates Industry’s Woes

American’s fuel bill went up 45 percent over the year-ago quarter, to $2.05 billion. Its fares were up 5.1 percent, a strong gain, but not nearly enough to remain profitable.

And just to add to the fun...

US airlines ‘need to spend $110bn to update fleets’

The day after Delta and Northwest announced plans to merge, it has been revealled that major US airlines will need to spend $110 billion to update their fleets, according to a report from UK-based Ascend. But even if they had the money, which they do not, the order backlog at Airbus and Boeing ‘means any replacements are years from delivery,’ the consultancy claims.

According to Ascend, US airlines operate 1,420 aircraft that will be coming to the end of their service lives over the next 15 years. It says that problems ‘are particularly acute’ for American Airlines, Northwest and United.

Tapis went through $120 today like it wasn't there (currently above $122) - how are the far Eatern Airlines faring?

I suspect there will soon be a lot of idle planes stored out in the desert - no need to make any more.

Can't fuel the ones they've got. In yesterday's DB you had that article about pilots flying planes with too little fuel on board. And that was on the 'more solvent' carriers. We're flying Frontier (on fumes?) to the daughters grad in a couple of weeks.

My scheduled three hour direct flight from Santa Barbara turned into a 12 hour marathon, with multiple equipment failures and other problems--flying is such fun these days.

Yep, couple of tickets on the 'interesting times' ride. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

This is why I've sworn off flying. The trip back to the Bay Area I have planned would be much easier flying, if flying were even like it was 10 years ago. But now, between the equipment failures, security checks (Yeah, I assume I'm on a list for posting here) etc., it's just not an option. Plus the cost!

In fact, travel is becoming very limited for many. A car, to pack with stuff and drive back, is far, far, beyond my means. Frankly I feel very lucky to have the small motorcycle I have, because otherwise I'd be a series of odd rideshares or bicycle or something. Bicycle would actually be kinda fun, once I got to the Coast from here. At least I'll get to make my trek before things get really Mad Max. I'll just be some eccentric on a putt-putt 250 passing through,

An adventuresome trek. Done a few like that. It's going to be revealing to see how folks adapt. I'm sure your mode of travel isn't going to be far out of the norm in awhile. Just ahead of the curve. Like my crazy snow biking.

Conventions and pretentions will have to fall away some as in so many other places. I did a little slideshow ditty at my workplace with the type of personnel transport used elsewhere in the world just to soften them up a bit.

Best hopes for a (motor) bike sized Mad Max alternative.

Thanks xurb.

I need:
(a) more practice at caricature drawing in
(b) to sell off excess "stuff"
(c) to amass a "grubstake" of $1000
(d) General going-over of the bike to make sure it can do it, new battery, make sure valve lash is ok, I may upgrade my saddlebags, may even build a rack to replace the "passenger" seat.

I look forward to this with the proper mix of anticipation and dread. I'll be off the freeway, going through some "interesting" areas. And fatigue (much more on a bike) small gas tank, and stopping to draw for $ and just see the sights, means the trip may well end up taking a month. I'll talk to a lot of people, and see a lot, it will indeed be an adventure.

Then there's settling into as normal a life as the poor are allowed to have in the US, once back in the SF Bay Area. I've been scoping out prices of rooms to rent and sleazy motels lol. Fortunately I have the experience of having lived there for 4 years and I do think that area has the most to offer for opportunities to work, shift over to more permaculture, etc.

From Woody Guthrie "The Great Dust Bowl".

It was also in Pampa that Woody discovered a love and talent for drawing and painting an interest he would pursue throughout his life.....Moneyless and hungry, Woody hitchhiked, rode freight trains, and even walked his way to California, taking whatever small jobs he could in exchange for bed and board. Woody painted signs and played guitar and sang in saloons along the way, developing a love for traveling the open road-a lifelong habit he would often repeat.

I know it's easy to wax nostalgic about the 'interesting' times that these people ,like my dad, lived through and pretty sure that the hardships were anything but 'colorful' to experience. Some really great people came out of them nonetheless. So many parallels to what's just ahead....

I'd read, and should re-read if I get the chance, books by and about Woody. Woody used to collect "junk" to resell, painted pictures, did signs, all kinds of stuff. He liked music best because as he put it, once the song was done, he had a job all over again singing it again!

I did all kinds of stuff as a kid to bring a few dollar in to buy dinner. I've done drawings and paintings and as an adult, signs. I do not count on caricature drawing to be the be-all and end-all. I just think it will be a good primary skill and so far my experience supports that. I just got me a rather nice chromatic harmonica to noodle around on, I *think* I have a decent if untrained, singing voice, and have a good ear for singing or playing in tune.

And, I do not assume that stuff like this would keep me out of hoeing potatoes, mending shoes, etc. All the unglamourous stuff! In fact now that I think about it, I have a couple of pairs of pants I should hem tonight.


My brother and I rode mountain bikes with no modifications from D.C. to Sacramento in '92. It took 27 days with 23 days of actual riding. Only two riding days were less than 100 miles. Sadly it took a week to realize we could pump the psi in the knobby tires we had from 23 psi to 70psi. Granted we were 25, but I have that as my fall back to get back to the west coast should my plans not evolve as I like. Amazing trip, wish I had taken more time to smell the roses.

I'd have to get in shape again (mainly obtain a bike and toughen up my ass) to do something like that, but it's totally possible. If you have the discipline to poop along at 10MPH avg. and your ass it tough, 100 miles a day is easy. The Tour de France guys are just super because they do 100+ miles in most stages, FAST.

And again, the hard leg would be here to the sea, after that just wend my way up the coast. It's totally possible.

However, the motorcycle is about $2000 in value, which I can convert to money (sell) once out in the bay area. I really do like bicycles and the messenger style.

Any idea how much fuel was NOT burned by the recent grounding of American Airlines? How many gallons?

Actually could have ended up using more fuel, planes ended up out of position and had to shuttle from where they were to the maintenance centers empty then be moved back into the system and some other starting point empty. At least the planes were burning a little less fuel because they were empty.


I think you are adding a very important part of the equation here because an aging infrastructure in need of repair and maintenance is true of most industries today.

The city I live in has increased its debt from 25M to 100M in just 3 years by constantly expanding (building new aquatic center, new public buildings, new town hall, etc) they have neglected the roads while doing this and we now feel the consequences with lost hubcaps and flat tires a common event.

Now that asphalt prices are through the roof ($310 Oct 2006 to $434 June 2007 Source: Ontario Ministry of Transportation) because of oil prices, I don't see how they are going to repair this aging infrastructure.

The common theme here is that we keep trying to expand and have growth and watch our existing infrastructure rust away. Its going to hit us hard in the near future in most industries.

This is something I have been posting about for some time. Most of our infrastructure was built before peak oil USA, without any thought that when it came time to replace it, we wouldn't be able to afford new and better.

Worse, we are now dependent on it. That makes it a lot harder to repair or replace it.

Never mind what increased consumption and energy scarcity will do to the supply of raw materials...

I really agree with you on this. I do not think people realize how quickly our infrastructure can decay - it just seems so substantial that people assume it will last indefinitely, but the reality is much different. I think that the decay of our infrastructure will be one of the markers of catabolic collapse, and will take many by surprise.

There is another factor which might compound this problem.

My church recently replaced a boiler used for heating with a very expensive ($100k) high efficiency model, but with a lot of added complexity. Besides needing to replace the old one, the hope was to lower future gas costs. So far, the opposite has happened. Gas usage has increased, perhaps because more of the building is actually being heated.

In any case, it gets worse. The new boiler is less robust in the sense that, rather than just decreasing in performance between service calls, individual burners just shut down at a certain efficiency threshold. So it requires considerably more attention than the old one, and the maintenance costs will likely be over $3k/year. Similar to new cars, this is not a "pipe-cleaner and few turns of a screwdriver" kind of job. New technology is great -- when it works.

As engineers go, I am quite the Luddite these days. I really take the complexity issue to heart, and while I value efficiency, I am more concerned with reliability and maintainability. If you look, the issue of efficiency vs. resiliency is all around us, and in too many cases we've made the wrong choice. I'm concerned that with the coming renewed focus on efficiency will come a rush to higher complexity, with inevitable results.

I do not think people realize how quickly our infrastructure can decay - it just seems so substantial that people assume it will last indefinitely, but the reality is much different.

Yup. Unless they actually work in the field, they don't realize how much energy it takes to maintain our infrastructure. Remember that guy who couldn't imagine concrete ever failing! LOL!

Hi L.,

Boy o boy we know how fast it can decay tho, here in NW OH. Frigid winters followed by Hi temps in spring & summer. Ground freeze causes heaving and breaks up roadways before your eyes. We have what's called the "orange barrel" season up here, acutely evident along several miles of I-75. Every year of my life it seems. The pot-holes in town 'll jar your dental work right out of your head. Twice in my time I've had tire, wheel & all pop off the axle and go bouncing down the street in front of me. Undercarriage repair around here is no joke. Pretty certain that's why everyone around here drives a Jeep. These little boutique mini electric 3 wheel jobbies being built these days would never make it a full season 'round here.


What will happen is that what had been an episode (lanes closed down for repairs for a few months) will become a more or less permanent condition (the months become years, and the years become decades, as the lane repairs never seem to actually get completed). It will also spread, from just a few stretches of highway to just about every stretch of highway. Eventually, stretches of highway that are multiple lane and not reduced speed limit will become very much an exception, and eventually just a memory. Then the detours will start to become more frequent and extensive, and gradually those will become permanent conditions as well. Ultimately, the unrepaired expressways will be totally shut down, shut off, abandoned, forgotten, and eventually overgrown and reclaimed by the earth.

In contrast, many of the roads built by the Romans still stand, and are still usable.

watch the show 'aftermath population 0' or read the book it's based on. it will only take about a decade or less for the roads to become unusable. you can credit the same freeze thaw cycles along with plants and weeds..

That seems like the likely scenario. The graded and leveled roadways will still be useful for travel, even if it is at walking speed. I often wonder what various highways will become as I travel them. Will taverns and inns spring up on the medians at crossroads, or will it be too dangerous near the old highways? How long will the bridges hold out?

That said, however, there are a lot of cycle-guys building these Covered Recumbent Trikes (some w/electric) using Mountain Bike and Motorbike supplies and techniques, and I'll bet we see combinations that are tough and resilient, and that have Self-maintainable parts. Mine will probably have a bunch of Hickory and Maple in it.. if I can get around to that project.

I actually just got a book on building the classic skin on frame kayaks, using the most basic materials and techniques.. and my bike project is 'hybridizing' in my head to having a classic skin on woodframe Kayak Nacelle. It'll be perfect for harpooning 'possums on the remnants of the Interstate Highway system!


"Years ago I was an angry young man
I'd pretend that I was a billboard
Standing tall by the side of the road
I fell in love with a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it's only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it's nothing but flowers

The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we'd start over
But I guess I was wrong.."

- Talking Heads - Nothing but Flowers

Best line in the whole song is:

If this is paradise I wish I had a lawnmower. :)

One of my most fav songs by them.

The BEST line is the last line.

I Can't Get Used To This LifeStyle

Hi Jokuhl,

We have bike builders around here also, and these are some heavy duty "compound" bikes, Volkswagon rear ends & engine, with Harley forks out front. Now, those are going to make it here, they have and do still. Fat tires on the back, fat one up front. They're very cool. Don't know about mpg., gotta be a safe bet they're as good or better than a VW Beatle. Maybe if they could be hybridized (don't see why not) you'd get some rippin good mpg. These builders here are "motorhead" kind-a-guys tho, so...
Maybe a good opportunity for a geeky wrencher type to go into business hybridizing said trikes.


There have been a couple of large chunks of concrete sitting in front of the Chairperson's seat in Maine's Committee on Transportation for a couple of weeks now. I suspect that whoever made the effort to bring them in decided to leave them to make a point and that no one yet has called for the forklift to remove them. Fell of the underside of a bridge. The Tainter Memorial Bridge #3751, if I recall. This whole concept of our not being able to maintain what we have now is something I've been harping on for a couple of years - a few legislators understand it intuitively (and act accordingly), a few intellectually (and act as if it is irrelevant) and most have no frame of reference with which they can even hear what I'm saying. Not enough to maintain current stock, so they vote to build more and increase weight limits.

The built infrastructure is just like a fish stock - there to be exploited to nothing.

cfm in Gray, ME

and in the Bay Area, we're building a new earthquake-proof single-tower suspension bridge for $6+ billion with a 'pretty' design that's never been tried before. A viaduct version would have been 80% less.

Ah, well, California's made of money, that's why they call it the Golden State... ;)

I sure hope the design works - in London they built an untried version of a suspension bridge where the supporting wires went out almost horizontally - not surprisingly (to me at least), it wobbled, hence it is now known as the 'wobbling bridge'!


Another interpretation is that TPTB are well aware of just how severe the interconnected problems of energy and the economy are – so what is the point in pouring resources from an ever decreasing revenue stream into problems (i.e. road repair) where demand is going to fall rapidly from this point forward…

Highway conditions in NY State are a disaster and about the only work I ever see happening now is repair of guard rails that have been plowed down by semis, drunks etc. In towns and cities the conditions are even worse – even by typical post-NE winter standards.

I think lack of matching funding from federal funding sources has significantly delayed infrastructure repairs / upgrades – the municipalities have been left twisting in the wind and, in many cases, appear to have pretty much given up other than filling in a couple potholes with cold patch asphalt.

Another interpretation is that TPTB are well aware of just how severe the interconnected problems of energy and the economy are – so what is the point in pouring resources from an ever decreasing revenue stream into problems (i.e. road repair) where demand is going to fall rapidly from this point forward…

The Point is Why pour money into it when only the proles use them.
When we can just as easily syphon off the money for ourselves.
(And buy land in Paraguay)

Or as they say in Haiti,

Let Them Eat Dirt

If they are smart, airlines will reconvert to turboprop airplanes which use 1/4 the fuel as jets, as was pointed out by a recent item on DrumBeat about Canadian manufacturer Bombadier. IMO, that is the future of air travel. Jets are just too fuel expensive. The problem is that not enough turboprops are manufactured to allow for a wholesale turnover of equipment that could change the fortunes of most airlines. I expect very bullish times for the two main turboprop makers. This link has many related stories linked to it, http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&tab=wn&ned=us&q=+turboprops&btnG=Search

It is not a quarter the fuel it is:
turboprops typically use a quarter to a third less fuel than jets.

And they provided an incredibly noisy, stomach-churning ride, which is why they were gotten rid of.

Just took a Sacto - Seattle flight on a 76 seat turboprop. It was smooth and quiet. They have gotten much better than the older models.

I think the main problem with prop planes is that they're slow. There was an airline in Hawaii that used propeller planes for awhile. It took 45 minutes for a flight that took 20 minutes on a jet.

There was an airline in Hawaii that used propeller planes for awhile. It took 45 minutes for a flight that took 20 minutes on a jet.

I recall Mid-Pacific Air fondly because I made friends with them and they tossed me unlimited free standby tickets for my staffmembers, they flew old YS-11's. Lousy ride but no crashes. More recently, Mahalo Air flew some turboprops but were driven out of biz by Aloha and Hawaiian.

Subjectively, riding on the older Aloha 737's hasn't been much fun for some time if you're taller than about 5.5 feet... seems like the windows/seats were arranged for the average height of japanese tourists, my eyeballs hit an inch above the top of the window and I'm just 6' tall. So I'd have a crick in my neck even on a short flight. Hawaiian's new B-717's are delightful to fly in, little magic carpets that are quiet and about as efficient as a small jet can probably be.... the last incarnation of the venerable DC-9. I recommend 'em to anyone travelling interisland out here.

So saying, from an energy standpoint it's overly lavish these days to operate jets between airports 100 miles apart. There will be a good niche for someone to come in with turboprops and drive one of the jet carriers out of biz, and eventually there will be only the turboprops, and then mostly charters.

Hawaiian flew Dash-7 turboprops for awhile for some of the short runways, and it was absolutely the nicest way to travel... took longer but had a high wing and big windows, beautiful air tour with each flight.

The next successful airline - which will be temporary but could make a profit while the jet carriers aren't - will probably be some 2-engine turboprop with 60+ seat capacity. So what if it takes an hour to fly from honolulu to hilo? Beats swimming...

You'd think that interisle ferries would be competitive, but the puke factor is quite high, and the various hydrofoils and stuff tend to use jet turbines and jet fuel to go unwisely fast....

this too shall pass....

From the first article that came up:

"For a journey of less than about 600 nautical miles, or about 90 minutes' flying time, a turboprob may use as much as 70 per cent less fuel than a similar-sized jet"

Thanks izzy. I grew up flying on turboprops like this, http://www.stinsonflyer.com/prop/c121e-2.jpg and thought they were just great. If the issue is the need/want to get somewhere faster than a train/car, then some sort of flying machine will be needed other than a Zeppelin. And in an age where fuel supplies are expensive and constrained, jets will be passe for the average folk.

After doing some reading, I'm skeptical that airlines will convert to turboprops for anything but regional jets, simply because while turboprops are very efficient at speeds below 450 mph, they lose their advantage at higher speeds.

I don't believe that the advantage of turboprops is that pronounced for many airlines today because they don't use turbojets exactly, but turbofans with high bypass ratios. What may make a comeback for larger carriers might be propfans though, which is somewhat of a bridge between turbofans and turboprops.

US Airways to charge extra for some coach seats

TEMPE, Arizona (AP) -- US Airways says it will begin charging passengers extra for an aisle or window seat on some of its planes.

President Scott Kirby has told employees Wednesday in a letter that the carrier needs to find ways to offset high fuel costs that are plaguing the industry.


April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Floating liquefied natural gas production projects may help solve a ``bottleneck'' in supply of the fuel that has arisen from delays in building onshore plants, Citigroup Inc. said.

Rising natural gas prices and advances in technology are making offshore plants increasingly viable to develop gas fields that otherwise would be uneconomic, the bank said in an April 15 report. A floating plant may now cost one-third of a similar plant onshore and take less than half the time to build, it said.

We just have to hope the ice all melts up north then stranded gas will be a thing of the past. Permanent floating LNG plants go from gas field to gas field and fill up the LNG tankers and they unload somewhere.


Inexpensive residential wind turbine

“Freetricity introduces the all-new WindMaster, a roof mounted micro wind turbine that can generate enough energy to turn your electric meter backwards. Reasonably priced the WindMaster is small enough to be used in urban areas yet powerful enough to lower electric bills 25%-50%, or more.

Now that's a great little wind turbine! On top of well managed conservation it would be a great investment. I like that the deal is all inclusive (i.e. thats the total price for the setup, not the price of just the turbine).

I think, however, that it will suffer poor sales (at least for now) for aestetic reasons. I'm not saying that to be a jackass or anything, I'm serious. It's ugly as all hell and homeowners in the US are likely to be pretty reluctant to put that on top of their homes. I would reccomend the company hire someone to improve the look of the blades and casing without detrimentally increasing the price (it can be done).

Ironically, the governor of Colorado has a bill on his desk ready to sign preventing HOAs from banning solar panels, windmills, retractable clotheslines, and other energy efficiency devices. Apparently there is some kind of loophole allowing windmills to be banned if noise exceeds some level.

In northern CO, a wind generator must be very robust, because of the really high (100mph+) wind events we get sometimes. I can foresee the first serious injury due to an exploding wind generator becoming a big PR problem for small wind around here.

I can see banning windmill/turbines if the noise of added by the machine is above a certain level in medium/high density urban areas as a reasonable thing to do. But I've never understood what the north american subcontinent has against washing lines?

Because poor people would use them, and the US loves to ban poor people. ;)

antidoomer, that is not an inexpensive residential wind turbine. That is a very expensive piece of junk that only naive fools would buy and actually place on their homes.

Read the bold red line at the end of their self-serving PR:

Above CONTENT is currently under investigation and may be removed in case of additional complaints from consumers

LOL. I actually saw this story before TAD posted it, but didn't post it up top because it sounded like advertising to me, not a real news story.

These micro-turbines are expensive toys. Most residential homes are terrible sites for a wind turbine in the first place, you need to be at the top of a hill away from trees or other houses. The payback time measures in 20-30 years, but unlike solar these flimsy items will get easily damaged by high winds in a few years.

These particular machines(and other toys like them) are laughed off the boards at serious Alternative Energy Sites like



Folks at sites like Fieldlines KNOW THEIR FECES.

Personal Home Wind machines/Microhydro etc are GREAT. Not to be confused with toys like the advertisment above.

CAn I strap it on my head and use it as a portable power supply?

Even better yet, if you ride an electric bicycle you can produce all of your own power!


Wind turbines shake and vibrate a great deal. Furthermore the more turbulent the air, the more they shake. Buildings are very effective turbulence generators. The usual practice is to mount them 30 or 40 feet above and independent of existing structures. This is both to increase output due to increasing wind speed with height, but more importantly to decrease turbulence so that the wind turbine and supporting tower does not shake itself apart.

I was recently in a steel framed industrial type building with a roof mounted 3.6kw wind turbine. At certain wind speeds the turbine, mount and building resonated, and the whole building shook. Buildings are definitely inappropriate as wind turbine mounts.

This is a very bad idea.


Exactly. When one looks as a house as a study in statics, then adding a study in dynamics as represented by the wind machine mounted to that, it becomes a problem.

But when one's existence is just posting ideas without thought - poor outcomes are going to be the result. Guess when you work in DC and commute in from Arlington that happens.

The wind machine of Bil Becker
does address the turbulent wind of the urban landscape and the blade tossing - but still is a 'fail' on vibration.

I see alot of wind turbines on sailboats at the docks that I frequent.

Nice way to avoid shore power.

Looks like Greenwash to me! See George Monbiot on the topic of micro wind generation:
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/10/06/small-is-useless/ second paragraph:

Last year, the environmental architect Bill Dunster, who designed the famous BedZed zero-carbon development outside London, published a brochure claiming that “up to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine”(1). The turbine he specified has a diameter of 1.75 metres. A few months later Building for a Future magazine, which supports renewable energy, published an analysis of micro wind machines. At 4 metres per second – a high average wind speed for most parts of the UK - a 1.75 metre turbine produces about 5% of a household’s annual electricity(2). To provide the 50% Bill Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 metres in diameter(3). The lateral thrust it exerted would rip your house to bits.

Alan from Big Easy posted a comment regarding his thoughts about life post Peak Oil, a comment which apparently did not meet some standard on TOD. His comment about this was also deleted just now as I was about to reply to it. So be it.

Anyway, Alan, if you see this, there are other places to post such comments. You might try this one:


E. Swanson

Leanan, this cries out for an explanation! Why would posts about life after peak oil be deleted? Alan has been one of our most read and pertinent posters. Driving him off by deleting his posts without an explanation is not a thing to be taken lightly.

Ron Patterson

Hmm lots of talk about deleted posts lately... WTF is going on?

I would also like to hear what Alan has to say about life after the peak!

It was long, and off-topic, and at the top of the DrumBeat. If it had been posted at the end of the day, I'd have let it go, but in the morning, I like to keep the DrumBeat on topic (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Especially now, when we have a lot of new visitors.

Well Leanan, you posted a link above What Future awaits Russia and the World after oil
by one Andrey Parshev. It is all about life after peak oil. Some of Mr Parshev’s comments.

"Our oil (Russia) will last until 2022"

"Civilization will change dramatically"

"Food shortages will lead to World War III"

It was a very good article and thanks for the link. But my question is this: Is the topic of “Life after Peak Oil” off topic and off limits as a subject….in the AM anyway? If so, then why the link?

Ron Patterson

"Life after oil" is perfectly on-topic. But that doesn't mean you can post anything you want and claim it's about "life after oil," and therefore on-topic.

Hey, I could post about last night's Yankees game, since there will probably be sports after oil.

And I think Alan knew his post was off-topic. If you have to include a disclaimer explaining why you're posting it here at TOD, then you should probably think twice about posting it.

Leanan, I read Alan's post over on "Globalchange" and you are right, it didn't have anything to do with life after oil. Sorry I questioned your judgment. Swat my palm three times with a ruler and I promise never to question you again. ;-)

Ron Patterson


I've been searching in vain for some of the threads from a few months back dealing with the issue of futures markets and oil prices. I know you touched on this yesterday (in context of 'hedge' funds), but I thought the earlier discussions/debates involving you and others were particularly informative (if only I could remember what you said. As my hair gets greyer and thinner, my brain cells just get thinner).

Are you able to provide a link to those discussions? Or to a paper that explains for dummies like me the role of speculators and oil prices? Shorts, longs Counterparties etc.

Toilforoil, I have no idea which posts you are talking about, and I have made so many I cannot recall when they were made. I do not know of any paper, on the net, where these things are explained. However if you will email me at DarwinianOne@gmail.com with any specific question, I will be glad to give you my knowledge and/or opinion on any of the subjects you mentioned above.

Ron Patterson


one paper by nate was about futures here . The paper and the discussion was very informative and included a lot of data by darwinian. In the following drumbeats for about 2 or 3 weeks futures were often discussed (use the search function of your navigator with darwinian). I, as a complete dummy, also learned a lot from there.

Thanks, neuroil. And Ron I'll follow up on your offer if this reading doesn't suffice. thank-you as well.

Alan's comments were just posted on google/Globalchange Housecalls for the Homeless in New Orleans.

His comments don't directly address Peak Oil, but they may be relevant for the situation post Peak. Planning for the future without The American Way of Life, based on cheap oil, may be just as important as worrying about how to provide energy from whatever other sources are available. The psychological problems resulting from the loss of both jobs and houses are likely to be simply overwhelming, especially if there's no longer the possibility of "rescue" by other parts of the nation.

E. Swanson

I visit Slashdot.org (techy site) on a daily basis. It allows users to rate other user's comments. I always sort the comments by the rating of "Most Insightful First". You have to create an account on slashdot in order to use this function however. Would be interesting if we could do something similar here.


We have been considering that for years.

I have mixed feelings about it. It's really the only possible solution for a large, heavily-trafficked site. It's the only thing that's scalable.

But I also fear that ratings would be done on a political basis, and the majority would silence everyone else. In our case, the doomers would probably drive out everyone else.

In the meantime, we just have a few TOD staff members to serve as part-time moderators...and we only have the sledgehammer of deleting posts or banning as a tool. We can't move posts, or hide them, or even contact the poster to tell them why their post was deleted.

Given the circumstances, I think Chrisale is right. Moderation is a fool's game.

We're fortunate having you wielding the sledgehammer, Leanan. Keep up the good work.

Chrisale's comments were right on the money - and like others I appreciate your efforts at keeping TOD the great place it is for learning Leanan. There seems to be plenty of contrary opinions on the site (enough cornucopians and AGW-deniers [hmmm often one and the same...] to make my head explode daily) - so it's not as though you stifle other viewpoints.

seems like a very tough job and you and the other editors do great work every day.

I'm a regular redditor and I have to admit that I like that there is not a comment voting system on TOD. It avoids the masses getting a hold of a emotionally charged topic and the Flynn Effect.

I throughly enjoy Alan's comments but they may have been misplaced in this particular instance.

I will admit, the recent high traffic has turned me off, but, I welcome the high traffic, even if it silences some of the regular contributors. When Paul Krugman linked to TOD I accepted that I wouldn't be able to log on until the afternoon, but I figured it was for the best, to get the TOD word out.

While I was initially turned off, I understand why PG and Mizz Lean want to keep the tone reasonable, because it's better that we present an 'empiricist' front than a tin-foil-hat front to attract new readers.

I count myself as a "doomer cheer-leader" but I am willing to accept that 'meltdown' is a long way off, and, I appreciate Leanan's balance and coherence in presenting the day's news... I mean, where would any of us be without her?

While I appreciate the Can-Con of my ostracized friends, I understand that TOD has a focus (that I wouldn't change for the world).

I'd like to end, as a late day contributor, by saying that, Leanan, you are a saint, and I appreciate everything you do, from editing to contributing, and I wish you the best.. and much sunshine.

doomers? i count about 2 to one the other way..

Yesterday, Gee Dubyah gave a speech on reducing emissions of Greenhouse Gases. Actually, he was referring to "emission intensity", which is not the same as actual tons of emissions. Andrew Revkin has a blog running on the NYT site regarding the speech, which allows folks to "annotate" the speech. Looks like fun!


E. Swanson

Regarding The Nicholas Stern article up top.

He has been going around for the last year or so stating emphatically that it is absolutely clear from all his research that we can address Climate Change and still grow the global economy, (greensumption).

He is more guilty than most in driving the Bio-fuel bubble.

All he is doing now is stating the obvious wrt food for fuel but he is still saying no worries, we can throw money at something else and GROW the economy while saving the planet.

Eventually someone needs to stand up and tell the public that exponential growth is not sustainable and will destroy us all.

When asked what should we do then? I say LESS.

I need some technical insight here, maybe you would know, or somebody here, there ARE emissions with Bio-D and Corn-Eth aren't there?


Eventually someone needs to stand up and tell the public that exponential growth is not sustainable

This point is absurd. The expodential growth rant appears every day in TOD. There is no shortage of people standing up and telling everyone. The shortage is of people who are able to make any sense when you try to get to the next level of detail or map out any plan that would show how it could work. I know this is your faith and have no problem with you believing it, but if you expect to convince people you need to do more than just repeating it.

My point is that the people who have the stage keep saying the opposite, that we can grow our way out of the problems.

This is most likely why they have the stage but eventually one of these clowns nees to tell the truth.

There's a difference of opinion here. The notion that exponential growth can continue forever is a popular strawman that is often referenced here that no one actually supports. But the notion that further growth for a while is impossible or undesirable isn't obvious. If human civilization were to grow in energy consumption to a 100 terawatt civilization with an economy some ten to one hundred times as large, its not unreasonable to assume that many of our 'problems' would be solved by technological and economic progress. If such growth is possible (and I believe it is) this is whats desirable for the debate for the next century.

Or should we have stopped economic growth in 500 AD just in case we ran into unsustainable limits circa 550?

Well said.

"If human civilization were to grow in energy consumption to a 100 terawatt civilization with an economy some ten to one hundred times as large, its not unreasonable to assume that many of our 'problems' would be solved by technological and economic progress. If such growth is possible (and I believe it is) this is whats desirable for the debate for the next century."

You are in very serious denial.
Just to show your knowledge would advise us where the energy for the exponential growth you expect, will come from.
Then you could advise what companies to invest in, when according to you, we come out of the current recession.
Maybe GM, WallMart, Ford, American Express, Alcoa, Dupont, Kodak, Fedex or Safeway or whatever.

Of course as this civilization is growing to the 100 terawatt behemoth you propose, our population will grow as well.
Will that affect the environment at all? Do you care?

You are a very dangerous person. I'm absolutely terrified of people like you.

You are in very serious denial.
Just to show your knowledge would advise us where the energy for the exponential growth you expect, will come from.

Currently civilization consumes some 10^13 watts, which is less than 1/1000 the solar insolation. In addition, there are 160 trillion tons of uranium and thorium present in the crust with an energy density over 10 times greater than coal, would last 16 million years if you burn it as fast as you can without going above the energy of the solar insolation.

Why would we sabotage our future?

Deleted, not worth a reply.


Ultracapacitors: the future of electric cars or the 'cold fusion' of autovation?

Added credibility arrived with the January announcement by Lockheed Martin, the big defense company, of an agreement to use EEStor technology for military and homeland security applications. It refers to the EEStor "ceramic battery" providing "10 times the energy density of lead-acid batteries at 1/10th the weight and volume." EEStor has ensured that its new ultracapacitor will be safe if damaged in a crash by "instantly discharging to ground," Clifford says. Skeptics don't bother him, he says, because "we've seen this product with our own eyes." "We've had a great 100-year run with petroleum," Clifford says. "But the time has come for all of us to come to our senses now and realize that the electric-powered era for cars has finally arrived."

"will be safe if damaged in a crash by "instantly discharging to ground,.."

I hope he means just 'swiftly discharging to ground' or something. Instantaneous discharge can be exactly what you DON'T want. Wires and contacts explode, fires start, cats and dogs, living together..


Sounds like a great idea! =D

Capacitors are fun!

The explosive failure modes are almost never considered for alternative power sources such as ultra capacitors, high pressure compressed air, flywheels, high density batteries, hydrogen, LNG etc.

Gasoline and diesel burn relatively slowly so it gives you some chance to escape an accidental situation.

Antidoomer, think safety!

yeah, cause you know cars never explode, right?


Actually, cars rarely explode (except on TV and in movies, which are fiction right?). Even crashing gas tankers rarely explode.

They can and do burn very nicely though...

Is that your [inferno red] Pinto parked next to the fire hydrant?


Safe is a relative term can't see how it could be very if because of the dynamics of the accident you end up between the discharge point and the ground. :) Of course it should still be as safe as current transportation only potentially harm those in the immediate accident and not a pedestrian 50 feet away on the sidewalk.

I would think the main concern would be the ability of the battery/cap to handle an 'instantaneous discharge' , which is Probably to it's electrical ground, which is to say it's positive to its negative leads, since there would be very little conductivity to 'Earth' as such... houses do this with 8 feet of metal rod jammed down in the ground. Cars don't have that luxury.

Batteries can explode from the heat in that kind of current exchange; volumes of noxious gases and fumes can be released, acidic compounds and molten metals splattered and sprayed like shrapnel. We're talking about a massive concentration of energy here. I don't know the particulars of Ultra Caps, etc.. but a massive energy dump is bound to have external effects. Owing to the tendencies of the Thread-poster, I want to make sure these externalities aren't lightly glossed over. I like electric cars.. not as a Panacea, of course.. (obligatory disclaimer, that) .. but as a durable and simple tool, generally unpolluting and uncomplicated.

We still have to be mindful of the (many) parts that can catch us on the flanks.


I had the dubious honor to witness my neighbor's brand new F-150 pickup truck catch fire and burn in the street.

It was an engine fire, apparently the result of a fuel leak around the injector rail.

He was driving home, unaware the engine compartment was engulfed in flames, until he got the car into the driveway. At this point, the flames burned through the firewall and into the passenger compartment - startling him to a hasty exit. Luckily, he was able to shove his truck back into the street.

The fuel pump, still energized, continued to pump until the electrical circuit powering it failed.

It was incredible seeing how violent the energy release was as the amount of energy that would have powered his truck for several hundred miles was expended over a matter of a few minutes.

Flames three stories high.

Bright as daylight.

Even the fire department had to stay a respectful distance away, and all their water sprays and foam seemed to do little until the battery finally failed and the fuel pump stopped.

Note to self: Instantaneous release of that much energy is extremely hazardous. There is NOTHING to dump it to!!!

We were all lucky this is a relatively low density neighborhood and nearby trees were wet. This would have been an absolute disaster in an apartment parking garage!

The street still bears a huge damaged spot where his truck was. Molten everything. Puddles of molten aluminum were everywhere.


I've been hearing about ultracapacitors for years now. I haven't dug into it, but I bet the big problem is internal resistance. So one of these capacitors could power a wristwatch for years, but would be useless for producing any real power.

The amazing capacity comes from making the dielectric super-thin... so surely the break-down voltage will be low, too. But still, to get enough area folded into a small space, the conductors will have to be thin, too. So that mean high internal resistance.

It's a bit like all that hydrocarbon locked up in the tar sands. The volume is huge, but the product rate will never be.

Still, if you had a bank of these ultracapacitors - in parallel to build up the current, and in parallel to build up the voltage - they might be good for something. But if they've been around for years... sounds a bit like a solution looking for a problem.

In EESTOR's case as I understand it, they are using an extremely thin dielectric that has extremely high breakdown voltage which can handle 3500 or so volts in operation. The internal resistance would be pretty low at that level.

The bet is not so simple any more.

The ones typically used for memory backup (etc.) can only be charged and discharged rather slowly. However, others, such as the aerogel type, can be charged and discharged in a less than a minute.

Of course I'm discussing capacitors one can actually buy from the usual distributors (Digikey, Mouser, Avnet, et. al) - because the secret ones that somehow can never be purchased or sampled (for example EEStor) often turn out to be vaporware. Mostly, they range up to the size of a D cell, though some are larger. The voltage is low, but that doesn't matter, cell voltage for batteries is just as low. The real issue is that energy storage is only a few percent of the energy storage of a comparably sized lithium cell.

The Tesla Roadster battery already uses 6800 18650 cells according to the manufacturer (PDF), weighing about 1000 pounds. That's already astounding and a little bit impractical, which is no doubt part of why the thing is so bloody expensive. Now multiply it by 10 or 20 or 30 to use ultracapacitors, and, Houston, we have a problem. Nanotechnology has helped and may help some more - but it will likewise help batteries, so my crystal ball refuses to say for certain which ultimately wins.

It annoys me that there's no economies of volume with advanced batteries. Whether lithium or nimh, the best bulk deals on Chinese batteries are always for the AA size, not the Cs and Ds. For instance, right now there's an AA NiMH I'm seeing with 1.2V, 2.650 amp/hour, or over 3 watts per hour, that shows a shipping weight of 1 ounce and a bulk cost as low as $1.20 each. Now I'm suspicious of this because that means over 50 watt/hours per pound and that's way ahead of anything I've ever heard reported for NiMH. It's also better than what's claimed for the C and D cells from the same vendor. If such a battery actually existed, you could build a decent commuter car battery pack with about a thousand of these, since the chemistry seems to be proving pretty durable in Prius service. Maybe someone will try it in an electric bicycle.

2650 mAh AA NiMH batteries are available from any discount or drug store around here, although they tend to run closer to $9.00 for four of them.

Have you not seen them?

BTW, I saw a NiMH D Cell last week. Problem is, it was 2200mAh! It was obviously a D-cell casing wrapped around a AA battery.

This is very old news. We discussed it in January. We discussed it again in February (though that discussion may have missed the January one.)

In brief: their patent discusses purifying and coating the dielectric of a multilayer capacitor, to withstand greater voltage. Please skim it, at least. That part is very possibly quite doable.

The problem is: one can already purchase multilayer capacitors having dielectrics thin enough to saturate at rated voltage. Almost any "Y5V" capacitor will do. They're bad, but they're cheap, and they've been around for decades. Raising the terminal voltage will add relatively little to the energy storage, which is but an insignificantly tiny fraction of that for a similar weight and volume of lithium cell.

Now, it's been three months since the January discussion, and still nothing. So maybe it's real, but as it goes on aging without result, it smells more and more of, well, Steorn. So: when I can order samples from a distributor, or an outside expert (not a starry-eyed gawping reporter) convincingly tests and disassembles a sample, I'll believe it.

N.B. one of the problems with the US patent system is that the requirement for a working model was repealed decades ago because Uncle Sucker didn't want to spend money examining and storing the darned things. The blowback is that now and then the patent rolls get cluttered by trolls who invent absolutely nothing, but who can turn around and sue the real inventor into oblivion should he or she ever dare to show up. And policymakers, Congresscritters, and TOD posters get hoodwinked into thinking we have technology that we really don't.

From my Googling around this potential 'breakthrough' I've read that EEStor has yet to demonstrate a working prototype. On one of the battery blogs someone stated that they had 'got their sums/physics wrong' and that they have basically made a fundamental error in their thinking and nothing would come of it.

I would like to hope for something to come out of it but at the moment nothing is proven and it could turn out to be a dead end.

Regards, Nick.

IF discharging the device does not produce a terrifyingly enormous spark/explosion/fire, THEN it cannot be storing enough energy to make it useful as a form of propulsion.

That said, cellphone batteries (universally lithium nowadays) contain protective circuitry to prevent accidental discharge. However, it's still a very bad idea to drive a nail through one.

A big topic just a year ago here on TOD was CCD, colony collapse disorder of honey bees. No definitive single cause has been determined, but many are still wondering how the spring will go. Last year, the finger swung from cell phones to pesticides to mites to IAPV-Isreali acute paralysis virus. All save the phones are factors, but not the sole cause. IAPV, after being confirmed as in the US long prior to its supposed introduction, doesn't carry the weight it did only last fall.. Many researchers believe it is a combination of causes. Some bee keepers believe it's no big deal-we've always had CCD, they say, just termed winter dwindle a generation ago.

So blossom time is starting again, except this year, without quite the anxiety of last spring. Ohio and some other states are decidedly better off now than last spring. Nationally, the overwinter loss is thought to be 30-40%, about same as last year, but somewhat more spread out. A new problem perplexing the honey bee researchers is the ban on European bees. They believe the US needs the new blood to build genetic resistance.

“While bees and bee material have been allowed entry from Russia and Australia, the Honeybee Act has made it impossible to import material that bee researchers think could be a huge help as the health of the nation's commercial bee colonies teeters on the brink. Cobey managed to get a permit in 2006 to import semen from Germany, but when colony collapse was first reported in mid-November that year, restrictions tightened up. “



Maybe this has something to do with it?

Asian Giant Hornet

Scary video, but that doesn't have anything to do with CCD. With CCD, there are no dead bees near the hive...the bees simply abandon it. A huge pile of bee parts at the base of the hive would be a "dead" giveaway.

It's climate change. When a hive reaches a certain temp, the bees abandon it.

At first I couldn't figure out why the background music in the Hornet Video - starting at about 1:35 - sounded so familiar and creepy.

I think it's the soundtrack 'A Crude Awakening'.

IAPV-Isreali acute paralysis virus

I knew it, its them JooooS that are to blame.

As a single data point, here on windward Oahu (across the mountains from Honolulu) there are nearly no honey bees I've seen this year. They should be all over the place. Even the wild hive in the stump on our property seems to not have bees anymore.

Interestingly, I've seen a lot more carpenter bees - black heavy-bodied bumblebee looking things which I think are not truly hives but just groups of semi-solitary bees. We have a large rubber tree stump next to the house that seems to be hosting 400 or so of them. They seem to be trying to do the honeybee thing on some trees, but don't seem very efficient at it. Poor avocado crop in our yard this year, I'm afraid.

I'm sorry if this has been mentioned before - it's hard
to read all the DrumBeats.

It used to be that I had to re-login in to TOD
every couple of weeks. Then, it was every couple
of days. Now, every day I have to login anew.

Is there any way that I could keep that
particular cookie around longer?

There's nothing you can do on your end. We've been having serious server issues lately. Perhaps because of increased traffic. (Traffic tends to spike when oil prices hit new records. Plus we got links from the NY Times and other high-traffic sites.)

Anyway, they reboot the server when it's running slow, and when they do that, you have to log in again. Lately they've been having to do it at least once a day, sometimes more than once.

I had to re-enter username/password 4 times this morning!

Hey it may make it tough for posting comments but I think it's great for PO awareness! Here's to hopeing more people come to their senses sooner!

Kind of ironic...TOD has Peaked!

A conversation with Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, about his book Common Wealth.

This was on Carlie Rose last night .... EXCELLENT ... First time I have heard the term "PEAK OIL"
on the Media.
A great discussion on most all the things we on TOD talk about.

One main conclusion ... problems ahead ... WATER FOOD Population


Mayor Bloomberg on tonight

A worthwhile article about the impact of drought, especially on how farmers have responded. Australian wine, anyone?

A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice


Some of the literature on climate change has touched on the impact that rising temperatures could have on rates and extent of disease, for example how malaria could become more or less prevalent in different parts of the world. What I haven't seen is any serious discussion of how climate change linked extreme weather (drought in Australia shutting down rice growing, floods in North Korea destroying rice fields) could cause serious disease through malnutrition. Well fed people have more robust immune systems than malnourished people. Some of the hundreds of millions of TB cases that are dormant (WHO: Overall, one-third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus) out there would not be if those people were seriously malnourished and therefore had compromised immune systems.


I'd be curious if anyone has come across any real mention of this possible link between climate change and infectious disease epidemics.

We get the first seasonal build of the year in natural gas storage, about a week later than average:

Working gas in storage was 1,261 Bcf as of Friday, April 11, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 27 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 298 Bcf less than last year at this time and 3 Bcf below the 5-year average of 1,264 Bcf.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for posting the I-NPK toplink:
Role of Potash as strategic resource could push China to make acquisitions
I hope all TODers read it. Recall that I already covered this topic some time ago in earlier postings about Sovereign Wealth Funds [SWFs] strategically pursuing this biosolar mission-critical goal. I am glad to now see MSM reporters confirming my earlier analysis.

Remember, it is not only potash, but also phosphate and sulfur, too. The multi-steps of chem-processing to beneficiate many types of I-NPK into final, topsoil applicable forms requires lots of sulfuric acid. Refer to my earlier link to the detailed USGS sulfur discussion PDF.

IMO, this is also directly postPeak applicable to my earlier postings on Morocco, AFRICOM, sealane control, and modern Barbary P-irates. Recall the earlier UN FAO link that discussed postPeak global flows of NPK as depletion kicks into high gear.

Obviously, the most extreme example that comes to my imagination: a Chinese SWF purchases the mining rights to US military graveyards. The bones are recovered, then shipped just like before in the olden days when Britian mined the European catacombs and battlefields.

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

Hello TODers,

Does anyone know how to figure out how many tons of sulfur will be extracted from these heavily sour gasfields [or does someone want to ante up the bigbucks for the latest sulpfur reports]? Recall my earlier posting that detailed how a ton of sulphur is almost equal to a ton of oil in some markets.

PetroChina and Chevron Team Up in Sichuan Gasfields

...Sulfur Purification: A Hard Work for PetroChina

“China does not have much experience in the exploitation of high-sulfur gas fields, so cooperating with foreign companies seems to be the only way out,” says a Chinese petroleum expert.

A natural gas field containing over 30 grams of hydrogen sulfide per cubic meter is labeled a “high-sulfur gas field”. Hydrogen sulfide is very dangerous, being both is poisonous and corrosive.

...In 2003, a blowout occurred in the No.16 well of Luojiazhai field, killing over 200 people. PetroChina’s then president Ma Fucai resigned after the accident. In March 2006, a leak in the Luojiazhai No.2 well forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.
Let's hope they don't have anymore blowouts. If this recovered sulfur from gas-processing is of significant quantities then China may be able to delay the higher required energy costs of new sulfur mining of pyrites and feldspars.

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

Totoneila, you are smarter than smart. As ever. Your insight views are just the best.

Regarding your latest posts, what stock should be bought (apart from Minemakers, Australia) right now?

Hello Euro,

Thxs for responding. BTW, please use your profits from Minemakers for the purchase of biosolar mission-critical products for your family--Don't buy stupid stuff like a big screen tv!

All I can say is to try and follow the Big Boyz by googling the news as much as possible, as I do; those who have priority leading-edge access to the latest BigBucks$$$ market reports on sulphur, phosphorus, potassium, natgas-nitrogen from Haber-Bosch, etc.

Frankly, I'm positively scared sh*tless on the future prospects for much of the Third World, hopefully they are frantically developing full-on O-NPK recycling schemes [Recall Philippino leader posting].

The previously linked articles on cascading blowbacks of food riots, fert-factories shutting down for lack of Elemental chem-inputs and/or electrojuice, commercial farmers just planting enough for their families, the shutting off of food and NPK exports, drought and empty aquifers, etc--these are all gaining steam and interacting with each other to futher magnify more future bad news.

It may not be long before some fertilizers, in some locales, again reaches the US 1914 wholesale potash price of $14,500/ton [inflation-adjusted]. Recall my posting on First World Homeowners flooding into Home Depot & Lowes to buy & hoard I-NPK for their gardens, and how quickly this trend could totally deny these products for most of the Third World.

OTOH, demand destruction by the early saddling up of the Four Horsemen may prevent prices from ever again reaching this point. Such is life.

Bob I figured you might find this interesting on the subject of sulfur. I take a Master Gardener course in my county. One day the soil scientist for this area came to talk about well, soil. Anywho he started at the university in the early 80's. Back then because of all the sulfurous industry and car exhaust (acid rain etc) it was rare to find a farm field that needed sulfur. By the 90's it was becoming a problem because emmission controls were finally starting to cut down on the amount of sulfur raining on the fields.


Hello Oscillator,

Thxs for responding--Yep, I have posted links before on the rising need for more sulphur in topsoil as sulphur scrubbers become commonplace. The Feds don't like anyone hoarding ammonium nitrates [think diesel & Oklahoma & Timothy McVeigh], but I think sulfates are still safe.

'Wild & Crazy' Thought:

Most people, upon entering the fresh produce section of a grocery store, automatically grab a few of the clear plastic produce bags. When they encounter the price of premium, vine-ripened, organic beefsteak tomatoes--I wonder if they are like me: nearly overcome by the price shock and the overwhelming urge to barf into the plastic bag!

IMO, it seems that a huge marketing opportunity exists for a Heirloom Seed company to place seed packages by the pricetags throughout the produce section.

re: Heirloom seed packets in the produce section..

in other words, Capitalism selling us the rope to hang them with.. (but if they were there, I'd buy them!)


the calculation of sulphur recovery is fairly straightforward , if you know the mole % of h2s in the gas stream. i am looking into it and will let you know if i find anything.

exxon has a large gas processing facility near labarge, wyoming. this is called the shute creek plant. i dont have specific numbers, but the gas produced here has a high concentration of sulphur, co2, and helium. i think methane accounts for only about 15 mole %.
the co2 from shute creek was used for oil extraction in the rangley field of colorado and is currently being used at salt creek(wyoming).

other fields in this part of wyoming, the overthrust belt, such as whitney canyon-carter creek and yellow creek also produce a lot of sulphur from h2s. i have heard that at various times, the value of the sulphur exceeded the value of the natural gas.

chevron presented some information in their recent analyists meeting on their gas processing plans, which included china. this was about a month ago, as i recall.

i havent found much on the wyoming oil and gas commission website relative to sulphur, but i will keep looking.

as a side note, h2s is produced from most of the oil and gas in the permian basin. i dont know if the concentration and volume are great enough to make sulphur recovery feasable.

here is a search of spe papers:

Hello Elwoodelmore,

Thxs for responding--I figured it would be someone like you or possibly R-squared. Someone who understands the nitty-gritty details.


Hello TODers,

The market hoarding resource wars are getting ugly. It will be interesting to see how this develops into eventual machete' moshpits.

China Cuts Fertilizer Sales; Philippine Tender Flops (Update3)

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- China, the world's largest grain producer, curbed fertilizer exports and the Philippines failed to buy all the rice it needs as record prices heightened concern the world is running short of food.

...China's Finance Ministry said: ``If we can effectively control exports, we can ensure fertilizer needs for planting in spring, and curb the rising trend of domestic fertilizer prices.''

China was the biggest exporter of urea in 2007, accounting for 18 percent of the market, according to the Paris-based International Fertilizer Industry Association, or IFA. The main importer was India. Urea, used to grow rice, is the most widely used fertilizer, according to the IFA.

...If China effectively stops exporting fertilizers, it may be ``fatal'' for the global supply of some products, such as ammonium phosphate, Xu Hongzhi, an analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Ltd., said before the ministry's announcement.
I would encourage TODers to note the emphasis on FATAL. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia.

Rather than linear climate change (which was not happening anyway, we now stand on the brink of a catastrophic climate event. The situation, especially in the northern hemisphere, is dangerously close to a major tipping point. If those hydrates come free, game over.

Truly frightening...at the same time the article seems to be saying "let's cap this methane and drive our machines on it!"

My understanding is that once the methane is combusted it is less potent as a greenhouse gas (still worse than having left it in place of course), so that might not be a bad idea if it were practical. But imagine capturing the methane from a source distributed over an "underwater area six times the size of Germany". I don't think there's a chance in hell of this happening, or of it being net energy positive.

I hear Venus is nice this time of year.

CH4 + 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O

One molecule of methane burns to become one molecule of carbon dioxide.
The methane molecule is 20 times worse as a green house gas, they say.

tick, tock, tick, tock.
thats the sound of time running out and all they can think about is how they can use it for rockets and homes..

This is the tipping point I have worried about for some time. The article says there are 540 billion tons, if all of this was released into the atmosphere then at what concentration does it make the atmosphere flammable? i.e. could a lightning strike set it alight?

If it's game over then has any effort been made to preserve the little knowledge we have accumulated so that when the cockroaches evolve in a billion years they have a head start? I might as well buy that Ferrari now:-(

``There is only 85 million barrels of oil globally in the market coming a day and I don't think you can increase that 85 million,'' Pickens said.

I couldn't resist!!! The ultimate peak oil idiot strikes again!! Will this idiot ever shut up? He's like the anti-yergin of the peak oil debate. Whenever he claims that it can never have more than x of production, bang, we hit a new high. And taking as face value the chart in wikipedia of giant oilfield production coming online in 2008 and 2009, it seems though as T.Boone Pickens will eat dirt...

... again.

I do not think he read the post about C+C+NGL's reaching a record 87.5 million barrels

"In February world production of total liquids increased by 175,000 barrels per day from January, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest figures. Total world liquids production hit 87.5 million b/d, which is the all-time maximum liquids production."

by Tom Whipple, http://www.energybulletin.net/41888.html

Pickens has been wrong before. He did short oil earlier this year, did not keep oil prices down long.

While I have seen that Argentina has had six years of consecutive production delines, Mexico more than three, the North Sea also in a decline phase ... there are new provinces being opened up in the Caspian, offshore West Africa, Brazil, Canada, OPEC, Iraq, and so forth. If the world had been thoroughly explored then they would not have found Tupi in Brazil or extensions of existing trends such as Tengiz and Bohai Bay. It was long the opinion of some on this board that oil production peaked in May of 2005. Evidently they did not know that Saudi Arabia had 80 undeveloped oil fields and new projects planed to produce more than 500,000 barrels per day a piece to offset declines. Saudi Arabia indicated they may reach peak production capacity in 2009, the peak production might come before or after 2009. It is too early to say oil has peaked as Boone Pickens was using suspect data.

The 2008 IEA data are really preliminary estimates, and the EIA has shown three straight years of 84.6 mbpd Total Liquids (average annual production), although they also showed an uptick in January. In any case, my bet is that Pickens is right and the 2008 annual data will show an average Total Liquids rate of 85 mbpd or less.

I couldn't resist!!! The ultimate peak oil idiot strikes again!! Will this idiot ever shut up? He's like the anti-yergin of the peak oil debate. Whenever he claims that it can never have more than x of production, bang, we hit a new high. And taking as face value the chart in wikipedia of giant oilfield production coming online in 2008 and 2009, it seems though as T.Boone Pickens will eat dirt...

Right! This idiot has only made a few billion betting on oil. Sure wish I could be such an idiot, perhaps I would be a billionaire also.

Lusis, no one is right ALL the time. Every market player has a few wrong calls. The fact that you are zeroing in on his last wrong call and assuming that has been his record forever shows that you are really what you call him. And here is what you call him: "Will this idiot ever shut up?"

Ron Patterson

I have to ignore the CERA forecasts of huge production increases and try to hold onto my oil investments. Total oil executives have had some success in being in oil frontier areas and have also predicted huge production increases. I cannot let them panic me into selling my oil assets to them. According to some of the jokers in 2004, the price of oil was likely to return to 10 dollars a barrel. Based on the fall of the dollar alone that will not be possible. It was easier for the Feds to pay war contractors, than for them to spend money on developing oil fields. It was not legal for them to develop oilfields for the people, it was legal to interfere in Iraqi politics and to kill Iraqis who were not supporting Al Qaeda any more than the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia was.

Oh so this chart makes you optimistic does it?

There's one big problem with the columns for 2008 and 2009. The total for those 2 years is about 14 million bpd, right? But about 8 million of them are OPEC. This does not necessarily translate into ANY increase in OPEC's "quota restrained" production! After replacing declines in OPEC production, any excess production ability won't automatically lead to an increase in exports.
I basically expect World production to remain between 85 - 87 mpd throughout 2008 and 2009, leading to no major drop in price.

I see the peaks in 2008 and 2009 as the bow wave as reality steams through future project timescales, and bunches up current project overruns. We will see 4-5Mbpd of new oil this year, and next year the big new megaprojects will come on line 2009/2010.

Jam tomorrow.

interesting video on buffet & soros investing on sars , oil, water etc. end of the world as we know it stuff.


It's late in the day, but I felt that the below article was quite telling. Haiti is likely one of the poorest countries in the world, if not the poorest. However, the food crisis is hitting hard there and it is indicative of the world wide food shortages just now being reported in the media.

The headline reads: "Hunger in Haiti Increasing Rapidly." The article goes on to discuss the food supply problems in numerous third-world countries. It also acknowledges the role of rising oil prices and diversion of food resources to biofuels.

Indeed, as it roils developing nations, the spike in commodity prices - the biggest since the administration of Richard Nixon - has pitted the globe's poorer south against the relatively wealthy north, adding to demands for reform of rich nations' farm and environmental policies.

But experts say there are few quick fixes to a crisis tied to so many factors, such as strong demand for food from emerging economies like China's; rising oil prices; and the diversion of food resources to make biofuels.


In Haiti, where three-quarters of the population earns less than $2 a day and one in five children is chronically malnourished, the one business booming amid all the gloom is the selling of patties made of mud, oil and sugar, typically only consumed by the most destitute.

"It's salty and it has butter, and you don't know you're eating dirt," said Olwich Louis Jeune, 24, who has taken to eating them more often in recent months. "It makes your stomach quiet down."


We are certainly on the verge of some serious upheaval if hunger gets much more out of hand.

Hello GLT149,

I hope everyone opens this link to at least see the photo: I bet this poor woman, if offered the chance to go dumpster-diving behind a typical fast-food 'Murkan restaurant, would consider it akin to being magically transported to 'Heaven on Earth'.

Compare her heart-breaking task and caloric burn-rate in this scene of utter ruin to how little effort was expended by the typical 'Murkan family pet to casually saunter over, then eat much better quality vittles from a sanitary pet-dish, then to bask the evening away in thermostatically-controlled A/C comfort or soothing heat.

Unless the world changes: at some future point, I would imagine this tragic photo to be a common scene nearly everywhere as Peak Everything gets kicked into high gear.

REQUIEM by Jay Hanson, 02/20/98

...The good news is that recycling will finally become fashionable! We will see feral children mining the dumps for plastic to burn (Pampers) so they can heat the hovels they are forced to live in. The strongest kids will set traps for fresh meat -- rats -- while the weaker kids will eat anything they can cram into their mouths (old shoes, styrofoam peanuts, newspaper soup). Pandemics will sweep the world, punctuated every so often by explosions as abandoned and rotting nuclear facilities blow up. Leaking dumps and tanks will spew PCBs and radioactive hazwaste into the feral food chain spawning surprising new shapes for young mothers to enjoy nursing.[55] Toxic chemical fires, blowing garbage and trash, genetic mutations, filthy water, cannibalism ...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?



The charts below show recent movements in international benchmark prices relevant to the price of petrol and diesel in Australia. These market prices include the Singapore price of petrol (MOPS95 Petrol) and diesel (Gasoil 50ppm sulfur) and the market price for Tapis Crude Oil.

Diesel out of Singapore up about US$20 per barrel in 4 weeks, WOW!

Hello TODers,

I am sure that rice traders on the various markets have already accounted for this bad news:

Riverina rice crop smallest on record

The Riverina is traditionally Australia’s biggest rice growing region but its crop this year will be the smallest since 1927.

Rice production has slashed by 90 per cent, with only a few dozen growers forecast to harvest just 18,000 tonnes for domestic consumption.

The biggest rice mill in the southern hemisphere, located in Deniliquin, is now being run by maintenance staff and has not processed a grain of rice since December.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob. you bleepin rock

So we’re short of rice in the world are we? So it’s the fault of climate change, or maybe even peak oil?

Of course it could be the fault of willful action:

Let’s take a look at how rice acreage has been lost in the U.S…..

NARRATOR: The Post began its investigation by examining a kind of subsidy born in 1996.

NARRATOR: The Republican controlled Congress — critical of what it termed Big Government — wanted to wean farmers off subsidies and to encourage them to grow whatever the market demanded.

NARRATOR: But to get votes, the reformers had to make trade-offs with farm State congressional Democrats and Republicans bent on maintaining payments to their farmers. The result was a classic Washington compromise: one kind of subsidy was ended. But in exchange, a new subsidy was created: one that paid farmers not for the crops they grew — but for the land they owned.

NARRATOR: That compromise now costs taxpayers billions.

DAN MORGAN: The taxpayers spend more than 5 billion dollars a year paying farmers not on what they grow, but on what farms grew in 1996. They took a sort of a snapshot of American farms and said, "How many acres — if you grow 100 acres of corn, those are your base acres, and we're no longer going to tell you what to plant on those acres: you can plant corn, you can plant nothing, but we're still gonna send you a check to support your income."

NARRATOR: Dan Morgan wanted to know more.

DAN MORGAN: I nosed around up on Capitol Hill and found a guy, a member of the staff, who said, "You ought go down and look at a rice production area near Houston. People are being paid down there, they're getting checks from the government covering 500,000 acres of rice. But guess what? There's only less than 200,000 acres being grown now and yet, and yet they're still receiving these payments."

NARRATOR: Morgan and his colleague Gil Gaul headed for rice country to investigate. In El Campo, Texas, they met Ed Gangl — the rice farmer who can no longer rent the land he used to farm.

ED GANGL: There's just another example of what's happened to the Texas rice industry.

NARRATOR: No one farms here now, yet the owner still receives a subsidy — what's called a "direct payment" — from the Feds.

ED GANGL: On this farm he is receiving somewhere around the lower ten thousand dollars for not having a farmer out here. He runs his own cattle on it. He can do that or lease it out, or actually do nothing at all with the land, and still be better off than having a farmer on the land.

NARRATOR: At a roadside restaurant, Ed Gangl arranged for the reporters to meet more struggling local farmers.

GIL GAUL: What happened was one guy down at the end of the table mentioned, "Well, you should go look at these, these mansions out on these old rice fields. They're collecting government payments because they were built on these old rice fields and they qualified." And you know, I just kind of looked at him like he was nuts, and thought to myself, "No way."

DAN MORGAN: And I remember Gil walking into one of the government offices down there, and he saw posted on the bulletin board some real estate brokers' cards. By talking to the real estate agent, Gil was able to pin this down, and, uh, was told that, "Yeah, you'd be able to live on the one acre, and collect government payments on the other nine acres. They call these 'Cowboy Starter Kits.'"

NARRATOR: The term "Cowboy Starter Kit" meant a tract non-farmers could buy with enough room to build a house and still keep a horse out back.

NARRATOR: And it was used as a marketing tool: in essence, buy this land and get a free, annual federal subsidy.

NARRATOR: But in order to know how much federal money was going into the Cowboy Starter Kits, Gil Gaul would first need to know who owned them.

NARRATOR: And he knew which local official would give him the information.

GIL GAUL: If you want to know anything about who owns what land in a community, you go to the Tax Appraiser first. And a lot of them are excited to actually see a reporter, because they've never seen a reporter before. They're sort of shocked that anybody would want to ask them a question.

NARRATOR: Armed with names and addresses, Sarah Cohen was able to cross-reference them with her database of 217 million payments from the USDA. She began to identify who was getting subsidies...and how much it was costing taxpayers.

NARRATOR: Among the USDA payments Cohen found was nearly half a million dollars that had gone to a Texas physician for his 10,000 acres of former riceland.

GIL GAUL: This is supposed to be a safety net, but it's not a safety net. You're not saving anybody: you're saving a surgeon in Houston.

NARRATOR: The Post would report that in Texas — as recently as 2005 — 37 million dollars was paid out to owners whose land was once planted with rice but is no longer.

Does anyone remember when the Federal government was giving away boxes of cheese, powdered milk and other agricultural commodities only a few years ago?

I have a personal friend who operates a dairy farm. He was offered prime beef price for aged dairy cows to sell them for slaughter if he would go out of the diary business. He resisted. Being a dairyman was what he knew and what he loved. Almost all of his competitors could not resist the easy money. They sold out. My friend said that many were the days he thought he had made a terrible choice. If he had not owned his farm outright and been able to rely on the cheap electric power of the coal fired south, he could not have made it.

Now, he is making money hand over fist as the prices of milk and cheese shoot through the roof.

What we are seeing in current food prices is the end result of WILLFUL POLICY BY THE USDA. The example given above is only one of dozens of examples of USDA, WTO and World Bank meddling in the world food supply system. People are paying higher prices for food in the developed world and risking the starvation of many in the developing world as a result of WILLFUL POLICY on the part of the United States, the largest food producer in the world and the various international organizations under it's sway. The U.S. and European ethanol/biofuel program is just one branch of a long evolving policy to use the Amercan food weapon against the nations of the world, in much the same fashion that the Arab world uses the oil weapon and Russia hopes to use the natural gas weapon. The question that remains open: Who will suffer the most damage, the United States or it's rivals? We are playing a delicate and dangerous game with all the observational skill of a pig looking at a pocket watch. Making the game all the more dangerous, our Chinese, Russian, European and Arab rivals have proven themselves to be every bit as awkward and clumsy as the U.S.

We are seeing power politics writ large and stretching over decades.
We MUST understand that many of the things that are now being blamed on global warming and "peak oil" are simply using these two great popular causes as cover, because it known these twin "crisis" have caught the imangination of the public and the intellectual class in the developed world. It is now possible to blame almost anything on them.


Roger, you're firing on one leg.

The caps on willful is at best sensationalist. The farm bill is one the most contentious bills in government, as it means something to everyone. Much more apt than willful is the word evolved.

Over 59% of USDA's budget goes to food and nutrition programs for nonfarmers, and that would include our help for poor, pregnant women under the WIC program. Overall a big constituency, politically difficult to oppose.

The nation's biggest conservation, water quality and wildlife acreage enhancement efforts fall to USDA, not the Park Service or other Interior programs. CRP is fought for tooth and nail not by farmers, but by conservationists.

Dan Morgan, a respectable author whose books I've read, should know the evolution of the farm bill, that the 1996 acreage base was the result of amending the older Freedom to Farm Act of the 80's, a bill fraught with problems.

Yes, payments are to out of state nonfarmers, and maybe that should be amended, but just look at rice. If that owner leases his land back into production, where will the excess water come from that he is freeing by not farming? Maybe a better solution is disallow payments for rice altogether in arid regions that can't support it, or perhaps allocate the water based on the water use efficiency of the crop in question. But you can see the problems and screams there, from all sides of the interest group aisle.

As for your conspiracies to oil and climate change, well, look harder for a scapegoat than USDA.

So am I to assume that rice was taken out of production at a cost of millions of dollars to save water so that housing could be built to consume it?

No, I don't buy. My grandfather was a farmer and I grew up among diary farmers and cattle farms, along weith tobacco farming and small scale produce cropping (cucumbers mainly).

I knew people who worked for the USDA. They were honest farm folks in most cases. But the management at the top and the agenda of the USDA is deeply suspect. They are making decisions that are potentially deadly to millions of people who have never heard of them. The story I gave is just the tip of the iceberg as reported by mutiple reporters and press agencies. I did not make it up, I sourced it, and the sources I sourced sourced it.

We have created this emergency in the world. The U.N. knows it. The poorer nations of the world know it, and if we are willing to look, we know it. And the excuse that we must subsidize huge houses on former crop producing real estate to save water makes no sense whatsoever.



Hello TODers,

I was hoping to read of the massive importation of tens of thousands of bicycles & wheelbarrows instead of this:

SAfrican government says unlikely to stop arms shipment headed to Zimbabwe

...The ship, the An Yue Jiang, was anchored just outside Durban harbor after receiving permission late Wednesday to dock.

The Beeld newspaper reported it is carrying nearly 3 million rounds of ammunitions for small arms and AK-47s, about 3,500 mortars and mortar launchers, as well as 1,500 rockets for rocket-propelled grenades. The paper said it had a copy of the ship's cargo documentation, finalized on April 1 — three days after Zimbabwe's election.
Since China realized that wheelbarrows and rickshaws were top secret non-FF strategic weapons centuries ago: it is only common sense that they would prefer to keep these items at home, including bicycles, and instead export one time use, short lived powered weapons instead.

I would expect the Zimbabwe slaughter and/or slave labor camps to begin shortly.

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

Bob Shaw wrote:

I would expect the Zimbabwe slaughter and/or slave labor camps to begin shortly.

Things might not end that way. Careful reading of the story's last paragraph suggests that the shipment may be "delayed" a while. If the shipment is destined for the "Zimbabwean sovereign government", then, the election results may well produce a different government. Those weapons might thus not be delivered until the election results have been finalized. Until the election results are in, just who can claim to be the legitimate "Zimbabwean sovereign government"?

E. Swanson

Hello Black_Dog,

Thxs for responding with good points, but overall, I would prefer the ship be covertly hijacked, taken back out to sea, then scuttled, so none of these weapons can be used.

The metal and wood for all these rifles could have been made into many wheelbarrows for far less energy input.


They don't need guns, violence is going on now, clubs and knives are cheaper anyway.

What is appalling is the lack of concern from from Zimbabwe's neighbours about what is going on in Zimbabwe.

Competition for grain between ethanol producers and food consumers are causing higher grain prices. Crop failures occurred every year.

"While it is true that the corn crop can be expanded, there is no precedent for growth on the scale needed. And this soaring demand for corn comes when world grain production has fallen below consumption in six of the last seven years, dropping grain stocks to their lowest level in 34 years."