DrumBeat: June 5, 2008

Beyond gasoline: Prices surge for oil-based goods

New York - Besides gasoline, the Department of Energy calculates, there are 57 major uses of petroleum – everything from cosmetics to ballpoint pens, nylons, and even the waxes in chewing gum.

That is why the effect of high oil prices is now spreading well beyond the pump, where gasoline hit another record price of $3.98 a gallon on Wednesday. Now, consumers will have to brace themselves for other higher costs, since businesses such as Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, and Colgate-Palmolive are raising prices on their products to recoup energy costs.

In brief, this means less money in consumers' pockets in the months ahead. But it also goes beyond consumers. For example, the price of asphalt is up 65 percent so far this year – and municipalities' and states' road departments are cutting back. This may mean bumpier roads ahead.

Survivalists get ready for global meltdown

With oil prices soaring, a small but growing number of Americans are bracing for a global meltdown.

They say they're ready for it and plan to ride it out.

Iver Lofving is convinced the world is running out of oil. He's spent the last ten years getting ready for that day — a mainstream survivalist, chopping his own wood, installing solar panels, growing vegetables, even driving a solar-powered-car — all of it geared to becoming self-sufficient.

When the oil runs out

Have you heard of "peak oil"? If you are appalled at $4-a-gallon gasoline, you ain't seen nothing yet......

For Pittsburgh, the peak-oil crisis is likely to have a profound impact upon the "ed-med" economy (higher education and medical institutions) that this region is betting on.

Hollow victory

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's been proselytizing about peak oil from the House floor to the White House for years. He told us that America was in trouble by producing so much less oil than we consume. He warned of dependence on foreign oil and urged a national commitment to a smart energy policy — or else.

The "or else," of course, being what's happening now. Truckers are out of work and more unemployed are on the way as the cost of fuel hits a staggering all-time high. We feel the pain when we swipe our bank card, open a bill or buy food.

Religion and the survival of culture

Broaden Toynbee’s insight to embrace a wider range of religious phenomena, though, and his basic claim – that religion very often serves as the conduit by which the cultural treasures of one civilization reach the waiting hands of the next – is true much more often than not. It’s easy enough to see why this should be so. In a time of social disintegration, when institutions collapse and long-accepted values lose their meaning, only the most powerful human motives can ensure that the economically unproductive activities needed to maintain cultural heritage will be carried out in the teeth of the difficulties. Religion is the only cultural force that consistently provides motivation strong enough for the job; the same sense of transcendent value that leads martyrs to sing hymns as they are burnt alive can just as easily inspire scholars and scribes to preserve and transmit knowledge to a future they will never see.

Australia: Miners hobbled by gas shutdown at Apache Energy

HUNDREDS of millions of dollars in revenue could be wiped from the balance sheets of mining companies affected by the shutdown of Apache Energy's Varanus Island gas processing plant in Western Australia.

Many of the miners have been forced to switch to diesel, a much more expensive and strictly short-term solution.

Electricity outages anger, frustrate Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is experiencing its worst electricity shortages in years, and the signs are everywhere.

Traffic lights have been switched off, making already treacherous roads even more so. Dinner parties often take place by candlelight. And air conditioners and fans are idle as temperatures rise.

"Our lives have been made miserable," said 40-year-old Zubaida Bibi.

The rising demand and inadequate energy infrastructure in this South Asian nation of 160 million people has precipitated the nationwide electricity outages, fueling protests that have turned violent and helping to sink the economy.

India: Widespread shock, anger over fuel prices

CHANDIGARH: The increase effected by the Union Government in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas on Wednesday came as a shock for the residents of Chandigarh and Panchkula and many of them rushed to the nearby petrol pumps to fill the tanks of their vehicles at the old rates as the new prices would be effective from midnight.

AFGHANISTAN: Fund shortage may shut UN humanitarian air service

Fuel prices have gone up by about 100 percent in the past 12 months, making flights very expensive, according to Lataste.

"It's also difficult to find operators who can meet UN flight safety standards and are willing to fly in Afghanistan, mostly due to insecurity," he added.

Intensifying conflict-related violence and deteriorating security in different parts of Afghanistan have increasingly impeded humanitarian and development access.

Malaysia: River, land transport in rural Sarawak comes to a standstill

MIRI: River and land transportation in many parts of rural Sarawak came to a standstill Thursday as petrol and diesel supply ran out following massive panic buying hours before the Government’s new price took effect.

Petrol and diesel shortages have been reported in rural villages and interior towns in central and northern Sarawak as the fuel supply situation gets even more chaotic following the sharp hike in price of this vital commodity.

Philippines: Gov't intervention on fertilizer pushed

“Unless positive measures are taken, our country may face a sugar shortage which will further complicate our present woes involving the rising prices of food and fuel,” Puentevella said in his speech at the House of Representatives.

Sugarcane planters have expressed frustration at the prohibitive cost of fertilizers, giving rise to uncertainty about the future profitability of sugarcane farming, he said.

New Zealand: Fertiliser price shock

Fertiliser costs have been rising steadily for the past few years, on the back of an enormous upsurge in demand from developing economies like China and India, and an increasing trend towards growing maize for fuel in the United States.

Corn crops are heavy users of fertiliser, Summit Quinphos chief executive Gray Baldwin told a gathering of farmers in Gisborne yesterday.

On top of this were significant increases in shipping costs and the cost of aerial spreading.

"One of those two-tonne Fletcher aircraft uses about 280 litres of fuel an hour," he said.

Iran Expects New Record for Crude Prices

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's governor at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Monday he expected the oil price to hit more records due to increased transportation during the summer.

"With the onset of summer and increased transportation, the record oil price will be broken again," Mohammad Ali Khatibi said.

Six fixes for pricey gasoline

Ideas to help people ease the burden of high gas prices are swirling in Washington. Will any of them work?

QANTAS: Flying mean and nasty skies

The same week Qantas announced it was on track for a record $1.4 billion annual profit, the airline announced the scrapping of several services and said it would be making make deep cuts in staff numbers. Management blames fuel prices for the measures and, through company CEO Geoff Dixon, has said that if the price per barrel for oil drifts up to $US200 "all bets are off".

A chilling global warming forecast

There's always a new report about global warming, but the one released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with its charts on optimal temperatures for soybeans and peanuts, is downright creepy in its detail. This isn't your usual futuristic fodder, with vague but dire predictions. The USDA report is more frightening because it states matter-of-factly the practical changes in farming, forestry and water that are transforming the landscape now and will do so again over the next few decades.

Brighter future for solar panels: silicon shortage eases

Quartz, the raw material for solar panels, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth. But for years, the solar industry has faced a bottleneck in processing quartz into polysilicon, a principal material used in most solar panels. The problem stalled a steady decline in prices for solar panels.

Now the silicon shortage may be coming to an end, predict some solar analysts, thanks to new factories coming online.

Mexico sees lower oil exports for 2008

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's average oil exports will remain well below target all year, and beneath last year's levels, due to lower crude production, the head of state oil monopoly Pemex said on Wednesday.

Pemex Chief Executive Jesus Reyes Heroles said the state-run company's oil exports were headed for an average of 1.40 million to 1.45 million barrels per day over 2008, around 15 percent below a goal set in Mexico's 2008 budget of 1.683 million bpd.

The estimation is also well below an average export level of 1.686 million bpd in 2007.

Border battle brews over Mexico's undersea oil

Mexicans fear that companies drilling in U.S. waters close to the border will suck Mexican crude into their wells. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis' fictional oilman in "There Will Be Blood" likened the concept to siphoning a rival's milkshake.

"When they take petroleum from the American side, our petroleum is going to migrate," Sen. Francisco Labastida Ochoa, head of the Mexican Senate's Energy Committee, told the newspaper Milenio recently.

Chile truckers extend strike to protest fuel prices

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Truckers across Chile said late on Wednesday they would continue their national protest against high diesel prices, potentially restricting the movement of goods to local and export markets.

Thousands of Chilean drivers started what was meant to be a 48-hour strike on Tuesday, parking their trucks along national highways in protest of soaring fuel prices.

"We've decided to continue to strike indefinitely," said Javier Lazcano, a leader for truck drivers in Rancagua, a mining and agricultural city south of the capital Santiago.

Gas price belches upward - again

In a repetition of the past four months, natural gas customers will once again see an increase in the cost of the fuel this month as the price rises another 21.82 percent.

The announcement of the increase, officially known as a GCA or gas cost adjustment, was made by Northern Indiana Public Service Company, NIPSCO, Monday. According to NIPSCO the increase is due mainly to a rise in the wholesale price of natural gas and is subsequently passed onto consumers.

Crude 'oil' reality- NO easy Energy

After observing no back off in the price of international oil and natural gas markets, the government of India had no option but to hit the consumer by raising the prices of diesel and petrol by Rs 3 and Rs 5 respectively and that of LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder. The present price hike presses hard on the fact that the age of fossil energy is over; a worthy assertion on the very occasion of World Environment Day.

Kyrgyzstan plans to increase coal production

It is reported that to cope with the current energy crisis, Kyrgyzstan needs to address a number of possible remedies, one of which is a broader use of coal by industries and the population at large. Experts say Kyrgyzstan has sufficient coal reserves to meet its energy needs.

Alaska: Local officials look to coal gasification to curb rising energy costs

“The rising cost of energy has taken $300 million from our economy in the last three years,” said Steve Lundgren, Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. board chairman. That figure came out of the FEDC’s recent Cost of Energy report. Lundgren, speaking at the corporation’s annual investors’ luncheon Wednesday, urged Fairbanks to find ways to solve energy problems quickly. A coal gasification plant, which is under study now by the FEDC, could provide an oil alternative while potentially solidifying the continued presence of the area’s top economic sector — the military.

Markets Not the Only Answer to Climate Change

In responding to at least four earlier problems relating to energy and the environment - fuel scarcity during World Wars I and II, pesticide pollution, the energy crisis of the 1970s, and ozone depletion - US and international regulators did not rely on market-based solutions to achieve their desired policy goals.

California: More cuts loom as drought declared

“We're taking it very cautiously here,” said Fern Steiner, chairwoman of the San Diego County Water Authority. “We would like (water-use habits) to be changed forever. We'd like lifestyle changes.”

Rationing is highly unlikely for 2008, Steiner said, but added, “We'll have to take 2009 as it comes.”

The price of peak fuel

The concept of peak oil — and by extension, peak coal, gas and other fuels — was born in 1956, when American geophysicist M. King Hubbert calculated that the rate of production of fossil fuels would peak in the United States in about 1970 and then start declining. At first his calculations were dismissed, but ultimately he was proven correct.

"The peak that matters is a peak in production," says Dr Mark Diesendorf, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales. "And the peak wouldn't matter so much if the demand for these fuels wasn't increasing so much. But demand keeps going up and up and up. In that scenario only one thing can give, and that's price."

As fossil fuels become increasingly rare, the cost of extracting them from the earth will inevitably grow, he says. And the impacts on the global economy could be dramatic. These fuels are used for more than just running the family car; they are vital to powering homes and offices, transporting foods and much more.

'Peak Oil' author returns to Grass Valley

The last time Richard Heinberg came to Grass Valley to talk about the global energy crisis, gasoline cost around $3 a gallon.

..."After 200 years of having an industrial economy, we're quite literally facing a dead end," he said in a telephone interview this week. "If we keep going this way, we will be dead."

No stopping runaway fuel price as pressure on supplies increase

Oil is a finite natural resource, and believers in “peak oil” argue that it is progressively reaching the end of its life. While in the 1970s there was plenty of production available to pick up the slack after the Arab oil blockade and the Iraq invasion of Iran, notably from Opec countries, those days are now well and truly gone.

Why oil is cheap at today's prices

Western and Asian economies alike — which are bearing the brunt of the oil-sourced cost increases right across the spectrum of their economies — seem to have failed to learn from past experience. Despite the fact that global economies have gone some way to adapting after the previous spikes, the world seems to have been caught unprepared for the latest oil price jump to record highs and the consequences.

PPM, ETS part of a new lexicon of environmental terms

Peak oil

NOBODY knows how much oil there is in the world, but common sense tells us it is not limitless. There will come a time when production cannot meet demand. Basic rules of supply and demand then dictate that prices go up and keep going up. So peak oil describes the point where this irreversible trend begins, as well as the global impact that expensive and scarce oil will bring. Queensland Environment Minister Andrew McNamara and several renowned scientists think we are experiencing peak oil now.

Oil companies say we have nothing to worry about.

Australia: Cycling is a healthy transport solution

Soaring petrol prices make the car trip far less attractive for some. This is already evident in the greater patronage of public transport in the capital cities. Petrol prices will only go up as we hit “peak oil” - that point where half the world’s oil reserves have been used, and the remainder is harder to reach and will be used ever more quickly because of increasing demand, particularly by major users such as the US, and now India and China. Some oil industry observers say we have already reached the tipping point.

A plausible future scenario is that it will only be the rich that can afford to drive. Mortgage stress in the outer ring suburbs of our capitals already talk about rationalising their car use. Governments will have to provide better transport options for those who don’t have a car (younger people, older people, people with disabilities) or who cannot afford to run one. Better public transport and bicycle infrastructure will allow people to make choices about how they travel. This is an important and powerful social equity strategy, because those people least able to afford to drive would still have independence and safe mobility.

New Zealand: Dunedin trio unveil household wind power

Rather than focusing on a "gloomy" post-peak oil future, a trio of Dunedin engineers is looking to pluck some positives out of thin air.

Today, Bill Currie, Wayne O'Hara and Richard Butler's company Powerhouse Wind will unveil its small wind turbine prototype to a group of engineers and designers at Otago Polytechnic.

Kuwait pumps up the gas

New gas fields in Kuwait will pump 50,000 barrels per day of light crude and condensate in coming days, state oil firm Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) said today.

The country began much-delayed gas output from the northern fields yesterday, with gas output initially scheduled to start in December.

Kuwait needs the gas to meet soaring demand from power plants and industry.

Power Shortages Hit LUKoil Output

The company's crude production in western Siberia was 5.5 percent lower in the first quarter, at 14.3 million tons (1.2 million barrels per day), compared with a year earlier, according to a statement on its web site. LUKoil pumps about 62 percent of its oil in western Siberia.

"A significant impact on our production in the period was caused by a lack of sufficient power generating capacities to meet the growing demand," it said. Producers "face the need to scale up pumping operations supporting crude oil production operations."

TNK-BP says its American CEO was called in for questioning in Russian tax probe

MOSCOW: The American chief executive of Russian oil producer TNK-BP has been called in for questioning as part of a criminal investigation into possible large-scale tax evasion, the company said Thursday.

The pressure on Robert Dudley comes as the company's Russian shareholders battle British oil major BP PLC for control of the joint venture, Russia's third-largest oil producer.

Summer airfares double, triple, quadruple

Airlines are raising prices and reducing capacity in response to record oil prices. ATA spokesman David Castelveter noted that while average fares are way up, the price of crude oil is 217% higher than in 2000, and the cost of refining a gallon of jet fuel is up sixfold.

"These are historic rates for fare increases, but even with that, airlines are failing to keep up with their rising fuel costs," he says.

Future is About Living Within Our Means

I HAD a very disturbing experience last week at the local petrol station. Filling up the Range Rover, I watched the meter on the pump sail beyond pounds 100, finally settling at pounds 105.

But no, this wasn't even a full tank. The pump simply wasn't capable of delivering fuel beyond this point. Presumably nobody thought there was a car on the road that could absorb so much fuel, or more likely, contemplated petrol hitting pounds 5 a gallon.

The latest gas pain: More job losses

An already weak labor market is likely to be further battered by high gas prices. Economists expect more layofffs in the next few months.

Crude oil: Rounding up the bad guys

Soaring energy prices have created a bull market in villains - some more plausible than others. A scorecard.

Save the planet, save some money

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The environmental movement has been around for decades but has never been more mainstream than it is today. Now, organic products, energy-efficient appliances and fuel-friendly cars are all the rage. Of course choosing to go green is very good for the planet, but it can also be surprisingly good for your bottom line.

Senators suspect railway dealings

Senators from both parties are calling for an investigation into a move by unknown foreign investors to gain more control of one of the nation's largest railroads, which serves military bases and transports nuclear materials across the country.

Mass transit demand rises, costs soar

More than 90 percent of public-transit officials report that their ridership is up over the past three years, according to a survey released this week by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). And more than 90 percent credited the sky-high gasoline prices.

At the same time, many transit agencies find themselves squeezed by the higher fuel prices and smaller local government subsidies, which are shrinking because of the economic downturn. Almost 70 percent have had to raise fares, and some have even been forced to curtail services to cope with the high energy prices, even as the demand is increasing.

End of the road for SUVs?

In some of L.A.'s wealthier neighborhoods, the homeowners seem to have swapped cars with the hired help. While just last year the well-off were commuting to work in SUVs even as domestic workers pulled into their neighborhoods in cheap subcompacts, today you're likelier to see the moneyed set behind the wheels of Toyota Priuses, while their maids shuttle about in behemoth Lincoln Navigators.

Big Vehicles Stagger Under the Weight of $4 Gas

A fully loaded Ford F-250 pickup truck is a whole lot of vehicle. It can tow a horse trailer with multiple horses. It comes with a DVD-based navigation system for the driver as well as a DVD player for passengers who are sitting in the extended cab.

And how much does an F-250 set you back these days?

Try $100,000.

Tales from the Pump

High gas prices are keenly felt in Connecticut, where drivers fill up on some of the nation's most expensive fuel and share stories of how they cope.

StatoilHydro says oil prices eating into demand

OSLO (Reuters) - The global economy has been more resilient than expected during the oil price surge of the past five years but current high prices have started to hit demand, the boss of Norway's StatoilHydro told Reuters.

The Coming Oil Investment Boom

When oil hit $40 and then $70, this column was serene. With a couple billion Chinese, Indians and others joining the global marketplace, they will need energy, and lots of it. The price mechanism is our only hope.

Sure enough, it's working. Money is pouring into Canada's massive tar sands. A thousand substitutions are taking place on the demand side. Sales of SUVs are falling; sales of four-cylinder sedans are up. The number of miles driven by American motorists shrank in February for the first time in 26 years.

Oil prices may have peaked

Since oil futures soared past $133 a barrel two weeks ago, crude has taken a hefty tumble during four trading sessions, including a $3.45 drop Tuesday to $124.31 a barrel, leading an increasing number of energy watchers to wonder whether the mania is easing.

Paper or pricey plastic?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - You know that flimsy plastic bag the convenience store clerk put your toothpaste in?

The price of those bags, though still cheaper than paper ones, is rising fast because of higher natural gas and oil prices. And the same goes for plastic water bottles, takeout containers, the case around your computer, and car parts.

Do Fuel-Saving Gadgets Take You for a Ride?

High gas prices have produced a bountiful supply of one kind of product: fuel-saving gadgets for your car.

These devices, which cost anywhere from $35 to $300, are pitched as simple ways to improve fuel economy. While not all of the devices are new, $4-a-gallon gasoline has increased consumer interest and inspired new ad campaigns -- often evoking hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels.

India: Soaked by Oil Subsidies

Its state-controlled companies are losing a lot of money, and private rivals can't compete.

Iraq bill against oil smuggling passed

BAGHDAD - A senior Iraqi lawmaker says parliament has approved a bill to combat oil smuggling.

Abdul-Hadi al-Hassani says the measure provides for stiff penalties for oil smugglers ranging from fines to imprisonment and confiscation of boats used for smuggling.

Store wind energy for later? Idea still inefficient

Compressed air energy storage (CAES) uses off-peak electricity from wind farms or other sources to pump air underground. The high pressure air acts like a huge battery that can be released on demand to turn a gas turbine and make electricity.

However, a good portion of the input energy is lost in this process, making CAES one of the least efficient storage technologies available.

"Nobody really wants to store electricity unless they have to," said Roland Marquardt of RWE Power, a German utility company.

For ethanol, cutting edge goes way beyond corn

TORONTO - In the search for renewable energy, turning low-value materials like switchgrass and corn husks into ethanol to fuel cars is something of a Holy Grail.

In theory, these materials would replace corn as the main feedstock for ethanol in North America, reducing the pressure on farmland that has played a role in rising food prices and put drivers into competition with hungry people.

But scientists on the front lines of this search are finding that making the process commercially and environmentally viable is proving much harder than some of the hype would suggest.

Ancient CO2 Helps Extract Oil From Nearly Tapped-Out Wells

By pressure-pumping liquefied CO2 into the porous rock, trapped oil can be freed and extracted.

While oil and water don't mix, CO2 and oil are a perfect match.

Kiribati likely doomed by climate change: president

WELLINGTON (AFP) - The president of the low-lying Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati said Thursday his country may already be doomed because of climate change.

President Anote Tong said communities had already been resettled and crops destroyed by sea water in some parts of the country, made up of 33 coral atolls straddling the equator.

World Environment Day calls for end to CO2 addiction

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The United Nations urged the world on Thursday to kick an all-consuming addiction to carbon dioxide and said everyone must take steps to fight climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said global warming was becoming the defining issue of the era and will hurt rich and poor alike.

Food, oil crises should not overshadow climate danger: UN

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Crises over soaring food and oil prices should reinforce rather than distract from the need for action over climate change, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme said on Thursday.

Climate bill stalls in Senate after dispute

WASHINGTON - A Senate debate over global warming legislation turned into late-night drama Wednesday marked by an eight-hour reading of the 492-page bill and a call for senators to return — some of them from their homes — to cast a procedural vote not long before midnight.

From the NYT this morning:

Continental Cuts 3,000 Jobs as It Grounds Planes

“The airline industry is in a crisis,” the two executives said in the message to employees. “Its business model doesn’t work with the current price of fuel and the existing level of capacity in the marketplace. We need to make changes in response.”...

Continental said that at current prices for jet fuel, it would pay $2.3 billion more than in 2007 — or about $50,000 per employee. It said “a large number” of its flights are losing money, and that fare increases have not been enough to cover the rising cost of fuel.

E. Swanson

Drought 'to be biggest world risk'

A catastrophic water shortage could prove an even bigger threat to mankind this century than soaring food prices and the relentless exhaustion of energy reserves, according to a panel of global experts at the Goldman Sachs "Top Five Risks" conference.


Fungus Improves the Efficiency of Ethanol Processing

Growing a fungus in some of the leftovers from ethanol production can save energy, recycle more water and improve the livestock feed that is a co-product of fuel production, according to a team of researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Hawai'i.


Electric Cars for 2010

With oil prices rocketing past $130 per barrel, a growing number of vehicle makers are planning to offer electric vehicles by 2010. Zero gasoline will be used.
Over 40,000 electric vehicles (EV) are currently used in the United States. Most are used in fleet applications, from maintenance to checking parking meters; these EVs are mostly limited to 25 mph speed and 20 mile range. A growing number of fleet EVs, however, are early trails of a new generation of freeway-speed EVs that will be available to the mass consumer market in 2010.


Inflatable electric car can drive off cliffs

It's hard to say what the most intriguing thing about XP Vehicles' inflatable car is. Maybe it's that the car can travel for up to 2,500 miles on a single electric charge (the distance across the US is roughly 3,000 miles).
Or maybe it's the fact that you buy the car online, it gets shipped to you in two cardboard boxes, and the estimated assembly time is less than two hours. Perhaps it's that the car is made out of "airbags" - the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA's rovers when they landed on Mars. Then again, it could be the company's claim that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.


Airbus maker pledges green planes by 2020

The manufacturer of the A380 superjumbo has pledged to produce greener planes powered by radical "step change" technology before 2020 in response to airline clamour for more fuel-efficient aircraft.
Airbus said it would produce planes powered by "emerging technology" by the end of the next decade, as the high oil price becomes a bigger driver for change than the environmental debate.

The first of many times where fuel costs are going to trump environmental concerns? I sense a shift in the wind.

Nuclear questions for Lovins
What should I ask the efficiency guru about nuclear power?

Amory Lovins is on the warpath against nuclear power, battling the industry PR push that says nuclear is a viable climate solution.


Energy firm offers deal to start nuclear clean-up

Energysolutions and its partner Toshiba have offered to kick start the UK's stalled nuclear clean-up programme - in return for being given the sites to build a new fleet of reactors.


How Compressed Air Could Power the Future

Wind power is unreliable. No one can turn up the wind every time electricity demand peaks. So some utilities are looking at ways to bottle up the wind's energy and store it underground for later use.
"The wind blows a lot at 2 in the morning, so it makes sense to save it and use it at 5 in the afternoon when everyone comes home from work,"


Cost of Solar Panels Expected To Plummet

Solar photovoltaics have their challenges, from shortages of silicon to the sheer cost of purchasing and installing solar panels, but a new report from the Prometheus Institute says that both these problems will be addressed over the next few years, leading to cheaper solar and an abundance of capacity to produce.


If they can get one car to drive off a cliff, why can't they get all of them.

Per a discussion here a few days ago, I decided to commute home yesterday by bicycle from Santa Clara to Hollister via downtown San Jose. I would describe it as 59 miles of congested city and narrow countries roads.

I only experienced two minor incidents. One car pushed me over in the right turn lane, and then proceeded to go straight through the intersection. 50 miles later a minivan with mom/kids in it honked when she was close behind me even though the other lane was clearly open. It could have been a courtesy honk, if there is such a thing.

Everyone else made a point of staying clear enhancing my belief that nobody really wants to hit a bike. It's just too expensive.

Also, I wouldn't bet on solar panels dropping in price anytime soon. The concept of supply and demand should be clear on this site, and if you look at the balance sheet of any of these companies, they carry close to zero finished goods inventory. If anything, prices have increased this year. Please attach a link if you see a deal on panels.

I'm taking the Mercedes in today. I'm beat. Maybe I'll straife a few bikes just for fun ;)

If you read the article I linked to you would see that the concept of supply and demand is at the heart of it.
Massive new supply is coming on line by 2010, and most of it is not spoken for.
It usually pays to read information before attempting a critique. :-)

I'm pretty confident that Germany and Japan will suck up any solar capacity that may come online. China as well, given their most recent push to have more renewable energy on their grid. As interest in renewable energy grows due to rising energy prices, solar will capture more interest and buyers. A side benefit is that as long as solar doesn't get any more expensive, it will get "cheaper" by default in that it will cost less in comparison to traditional power as it gets more expensive.

The analysis of excess supply is pretty detailed and robust.
Germany is actually making efforts to cut back their subsidy, not increase it.
It costs a fortune at the moment, which was OK whilst it was a tiny proportion of the grid, but is getting expensive.
On top of that, PV power which is tied in to the grid is a truly daft source of energy in Germany.
Just when you most need it, in the winter, it generates very little power, so the grid has to run more to make up, or would do if it produced any worthwhile power anyway.
In the summer when demand is slack then the grid is tied in to pay fantastic rates for electricity it doesn't need, as base load copes fine.
Solar PV power makes sense in hot climates where load peaks during the day in hot weather, in Germany it makes as much sense as ethanol from corn.
Japan may take some more, but has not got an unlimited budget.
China and other relatively poor countries are big on residential solar thermal, but not high cost PV, and won't go to the subsidies needed.
All is not lost though, as if they slash prices then it will actually start getting installed where it does make sense, where a/c needs are high.
California is the prime example, as it consumes most energy when it is sunniest.
So I would suggest that the second wave will have very different characteristics to the first, subsidised wave, with it actually being economic in some areas where transmission lines would otherwise need to be built and solar resources are good.
There should still be considerable cost pressure on suppliers though.

I live in Germany an it looks as if I am getting into solar PV just at the last chance. I expect delivery of a 6 KWp system next month. It will be connected to the grid because then I am paid 47 (euro) cents for every kwh I generate with it. I currently pay 17 cents for power I draw from the grid. However, I am wondering at which point I should change the inverter and buy batteries.
I hope I can change over just before we start getting brown outs and everyone wants to change over.

A side benefit is that as long as solar doesn't get any more expensive, it will get "cheaper" by default in that it will cost less in comparison to traditional power as it gets more expensive.

People don't buy $25,000 cars with cash, they finance them. People are finally waking up to the fact that they can do the same thing with a solar electric system. You can continue buying dirty centralized electricity from the utilities, or you can start producing your own decentralized renewable electricity.

The solar energy industry is booming. If you're looking for a job, go to FindSolar.com, find the websites of qualified installers in your area, and call and set up an interview with them.

I think solar has a great future. But it is usually best to choose somewhere sunny, where a 5kw system won't turn out a tiny fraction of it's rated power when you need it most.

Thanks for the hot tip Dave...I Guess won't need a solar system on the roof of my house in Fairbanks. What would you guess that maximum northern/southern latitude for effective solar use would be?

If you split your time between Alaska and Florida, spending your summer in Alaska, then solar might work for you. You get about 70% of the typical US sunlight anually, http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/us_pv_annual_may2004.jpg but it is concentrated in the summer. You can see month by month maps here: http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html


Most places in the States aren't too bad. Northern Europe has exceptionally lousy resources as it has higher cloud cover than almost anywhere in America in addition to being at very high latitude, and the performance reflects that.
Residential solar thermal works almost everywhere.

Everyone else made a point of staying clear enhancing my belief that nobody really wants to hit a bike. It's just too expensive.

It's not always a matter of intention. But you're absolutely right about it being expensive. How much for a human life?

Car crashes into bike race -- do not click if squeamish.

jteehan writes:

"Per a discussion here a few days ago, I decided to commute home yesterday by bicycle from Santa Clara to Hollister via downtown San Jose. I would describe it as 59 miles of congested city and narrow countries roads."

You should be beat. I don't know of anyone who consistently cycle commutes over 8 miles in one direction unless they are multi-modal, ie bike to bus or train to work, back on bike/train to home.

You deserve a fricken' medal for trying a 59 mile commute. Either that or you really are crazy. B^)

By mile 30 I would call a cab.

I pretty regularly commute 20 miles each way on a bike. Granted, that isn't 59 miles, but it's still a lot more than 8. Generally, it takes about an hour go either way, so that isn't much different from a long driving commute, and I get some excercise to boot. The only crappy part comes when I blow an inner tube half way in either direction. I hate walking 9 miles in bike shoes.

I do 40-60 miles a day average for work as a messenger, all of it urban. It isn't as tough as it sounds. Isn't normal to be certain but in my job it is, many guys are doing 100 miles a day in places like NYC.

Ironically what has become something I really just don't enjoy as much as I used to is eating, at 3500-4500 calories a day it gets real tedious real fast. The muscle pains and other pains associated with the physical effort go away fairly quickly, once gone they really don't come back. 10-20 hours a week of aerobic exercise makes you a machine.

I posted the following articles a few days ago. The articles are from the Financial Times and come with a graph that shows that in the year 2010, estimated supply of solar cells will be 17 gigawatts and demand only 8 gigawatts. I guess they mean that prices will drop substantially so as to allow uptake of all this excess production. Please understand that I am just the messenger here.
Silver lining in solar power storm clouds

The solar power business is bracing itself for a collapse in prices that could lead to a shake-out in one of the most promising areas of the renewable energy sector.


According to Dean Cooper, analyst at Ambrian, the global capacity for production of photovoltaic equipment - the biggest section of solar power technology which converts sunlight directly into electricity - is set to increase "dramatically", from 3 gigawatts last year to 15 to 20 gigawatts of production in 2010. Much of the growth is coming from China.
Prices for solar components would drop from about $3.80 per watt to about $1.40 a watt by 2010, he said. That could prompt consolidation in the sector within the next six months, with smaller players falling prey to longer established companies.

Squeeze is on as interest grows in solar sector

The problems facing the solar sector exemplify the growing pains of a small industry.
The revenues from solar panels - or photovoltaics - stood at only $21.2bn last year, according to Lux Research, despite three decades of technological development.
Lux forecasts they will reach $71bn in 2012 even though the industry faces falling margins, a squeeze on subsidies and an oversupply of the components.

It would seem that it is good news. Naturally, I would like to know whether it is too early to take a deep breath.

I guess it's time to sell your solar stocks (if you have some).

See my link upthread.
I had rather smaller figures for production, of around 12GW, but still a surplus.
In my view this is the point at which the solar market grows up, and moves into markets where it is appropriate, where the biggest need is for peak hour power in hot climates for a/c, and powers places which are difficult to connect to the grid.
The days of just going where the subsidies are biggest are drawing to a close.
The power will actually start reaching substantial numbers a year, with average hourly power of 3-4GW after allowing for night-time and so on.

What if tropical conditions cause clouds and rain to persist for weeks on end? Not at all unusual in tropical climes. Some areas are hit by multiple consecutive hurricanes and tropical storms. One time here in Central Florida it rained so hard for so long that all the frogs drowned. Florida had to call on several other southern states to replinish the frog population before all the big bass starved to death. See, if all the bass starve then it wrecks the televised fishing tourneys and that hurts the Florida economy...which is none too healthy these days. How well does this solar work if it rains for a month? I can see I need to get up to speed on this solar stuff and you seem to know all about it.

If you have plenty of space, you can work around cloud cover.
Amorphous silicon performs much better than crystalline, but the overall efficiency is lower.
You buy it by the maximum rated output though, and amorphous silicon is cheaper than crystalline by area, so as long as you aren't space restricted you are fine.
Here is the skinny:

Any form of concentrated solar power would be hopeless with high cloud cover.
What I don't know about is the performance of the various thin-film exotic materials - you might want to check out the specs on First Solar.
No point looking at Nanosolar as they are not producing for the residential market at the moment.
For your hot water, residential solar thermal is much more efficient.
There are some systems which combine thermal and PV - I haven't looked into the costs or whether they use amorphous silicon.
For the thermal component, some prefer flat plate on the grounds that it is more robust, others the evacuated tube as it is more efficient.
For your Florida home I would look at flat plate as there is plenty of energy for that purpose anyway.
For the Alaska home I would consider evacuated tube first, and make sure that it was well-insulated - not so much need to bother about that in Florida.
For heating in your Alaska home I would take a look at air heat pumps - they now have some which will work at very low temperatures:
"Eco Cute" CO2 Heat Pump Water Heaters
there is a Canadian supplier of heat pumps which work down to low temperatures too - can't remember the name.
If you have to go to ground source it is a lot more expensive, but if you have plenty of land you might be able to borrow a digger and excavate out yourself to put in your slinkies.
If you have water nearby that is ideal, as it is a great heat reservoir.

To eliminate cold spots in the insulation, where window frames fit in and so on, try aerogel - it is the best insulator in the world, and so can be used in very thin layers around the end of joists and so on. It is about $5/sq ft:

Hope this helps - if you need any more info contact me at brittanicone2007 at yahoo dot co dot uk

We lived ten years in a tropical city (12° South) that was subject to about five months of heavy cloud and long-lasting monsoonal rain (about 2.5m per annum). We had solar thermal that for seven months was so hot I had to partially cover the panels to cool it down. During the wet season however it lost effectiveness. By the end of February, the hot tap and the cold tap were about the same temperature - sickly tepid. It didn't matter really - the last thing you wish for in such a climate is a hot shower - you sweat right through it. We rejected aircon as well - languid ceiling fans and wide-open windows and doors are a great solution - especially if 100% humidity doesn't concern you.

You could always fascinate the kids by pouring some water on to a non-porous surface, and days later it would still be there despite the heat - no way it would evaporate away.

One time here in Central Florida it rained so hard for so long that all the frogs drowned.

LAUGH Good one!

I'll take a gigawatt, please. I've got lots of friends. ;-)

In the future, you might consider driving from your home to some intermediate point where you can safely park your car for the day, and cycling the rest of the way in. Most of the bumper-to-bumper, stop -and-go congestion that you'll see will be on that leg closest to work, and you might very well make better time on a bike than by driving. On the other hand, once you get out of the city the traffic thins out, and you'll be able to drive at a more steady speed and get hugely better gas mileage on that leg. You'll also be driving during those segments of your route when it is most likely to be dark in the wintertime, so your personal safety will be less at risk than it would be if you attempted to drive it.

Religion and the survival of culture
by John Michael Greer

The raw material of religion certainly exists in modern science, or rather scientism, the belief system that has grown up around the simple but powerful logic of the scientific method; Carl Sagan, who did more than any other recent thinker to cast that belief system in religious terms, is arguably one of the significant theologians of the 20th century.

To call science and the scientific method a belief system is to demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of both. They are antithetical to belief. Carl Sagan may have been many things but "one of the significant theologians of the 20th century." Puleeze! ROFLMAO!!!

As Carl Sagan said: "We are all made of star-stuff!". He and Stephen Jay Gould did more to debunk the mixing of belief systems and science than almost anyone else that popular, in my view.

I'm no physicist or cosmologist, but I have read a lot of grumbling about how a lot of the new physics like string theory or cosmological theory like the big bang are basically untestable using the scientific method. If you can't test it via experimentation, does it not take on an element of belief? I'm not saying that this is the point the author made nor that he's correct, I'm simply making an observation about the state of science.

I'm no physicist or cosmologist, but I have read a lot of grumbling about how a lot of the new physics like string theory or cosmological theory like the big bang are basically untestable using the scientific method. If you can't test it via experimentation, does it not take on an element of belief?

No it makes it mathematics. The big bang model makes testable predictions, as does string theory. The problem with string theory is the testable predictions it makes that differ with the standard model are largely untestable with todays equipment, and so today its just playing with a new mathematical model that describes the world in the same way as the other mathematical model.

Saying that string theory is the model that describes the universe would be a faith based statement. String theorists aren't saying this.

Saudis launch Islamic unity drive

Saudi Arabia's monarch has urged Muslims to speak with one voice in preparation for interfaith dialogue with the Jewish and Christian worlds.

...King Abdullah entered the hall alongside Iranian politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who sat beside him on the stage.

...Mr Rafsanjani also urged the world's one billion Muslims to stop Washington controlling the natural resources in their countries - a pointed comment in oil giant Saudi Arabia, a top ally of Washington.

"Why should this tremendous group be weak before the international arrogance?" he said, using the Iranian revolutionary term for the US.

There was some discussion the other day about the Bloomberg report that Iran has large numbers of idle VLCC tankers near Kharg Island loaded with heavy sour that only they can refine.


In the discussion the excuse was given that their refinery is in normal shut down and they have no storage – the lack of storage seems reasonable, just produce on demand – so why the need for storage now, surely this must happen every year or so and shouldn’t be abnormal or a talking point for Bloomberg?

If VenMex export to the USA is down and ten times as many tankers are required to source the shortfall from the ME, wouldn’t it be a cunning plan to rent as many tankers as you can and fill them with stuff nobody wants to buy – the infidel/enemy USA can’t import at any price if it doesn’t have the tankers – causing, as Matt Simmons says, USA shortages soon?

Or is this a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick?

We did something like that to the Japanese in WWII. We simply wouldn't lease them any oil tankers to carry oil, even if they could buy it from Mexico.
No tankers, no oil. They hit Pearl Harbor.

Sites named for new offshore wind farms

Eleven zones around Britain's coastline were named yesterday as the best places to build the next generation of offshore wind farms.
The zones identified by the Crown Estate are expected to play a key role in enabling Britain to meet its 2020 renewables targets



CNN had a story about peak oil this morning. They showed the front page of PeakOil.com, and referred to us as "peak oil survivalists." And interviewed a guy in Vermont who runs a peak oil group and built a solar-powered car.

Haven't found any links yet, but hopefully there will be a transcript and video posted on the CNN site later.

Peak oil survivalists, huh? I knew you guys were a bunch of nuts.

Other than using the word "survivalist," which some might take exception to, it was actually a fairly respectful piece. Didn't try to make peak oilers look like kooks. And it contained a pretty good explanation of what peak oil is.

Sweet. Peak Oil for themasses.... It's about time.

Here's a story about the surge PO.com got after the AP story...

Peakoiler website peakoil.com swamped after Peak Oil article posted on over 200 mainstream news sites

The charts above show the explosion in traffic as hundreds of mainstream news websites picked up the story off the AP newswires, and tens of thousands of new visitors swamped the website. The MySQL database had to be shut down a few times, and it has since been revealed that the site had become CPU- and memory-limited, instead of bandwidth-limited as some might have expected. From a technical point of view, it is quite understandable since most of the pages on the site are dynamically generated via PHP scripting.

If not for the story breaking over the Memorial Day weekend, the traffic load could have been even higher, though I did point out that the Internet audience is global and people outside the US don't really celebrate that day.

So far, the CNN story doesn't seem to have generated the same kind of traffic.

Only Rosneft Production Rising

LUKOIL has admitted for the first time that its production is falling. It fell 3.3 percent in the first quarter of the year. The company said it would have the situation resolved by the end of the year. Gazprom Neft has not been able to do so for two years, however, even after taking such radical steps as firing the head of its main production arm Noyabrskneftegaz. Rosneft is now the only Russian oil company that is not having trouble with production.

I posted a note a few days ago about the "Two Year Rule," the observed two year periods of minimal production declines in Texas, and the overall Lower 48, following their respective peaks. The larger declines kicked off in the third year, which IMO is analogous to 2008 for the world--and especially for net oil exports.

It's interesting that the Saudis have apparently moved from saying that they are restricting production because of market factors to, in effect, saying that they are going to "voluntarily" restrict production no matter what the market wants. It will be very interesting to see what they actually produce in the second half of 2008.

In any case, I expect to see an accelerating net export decline rate worldwide in 2008, versus 2007.

You got picked up by


Actually found it linked at 321gold. It's not a tsunami yet, but the ripples are getting larger.

Rock on, Jeff and Khebab

I am willing to bet that as time goes on that the KSA will increase the amount of production it "voluntarily" restricts. And that their "voluntary" production cuts will just coincidently be equivalent to and follow a post peak decline rate. All of course done "voluntarily".

Saudi Arabia should say that by restricting production they are doing their part to control global warming.

It would be interesting to see what the congressmen that are supporting both suing OPEC and the cap and trade would have to say about that.

Also a lot less babble about "refining capacity" being the issue in the USA. A year ago this would come up in every speech by the administration on energy. Have not heard it for months now.


This is behind a paywall, alas, but the bit that's available for free is interesting.

Saudi Arabia plans series of fuel oil imports

Reports say Saudi Arabia is planning a series of fuel oil imports to meet growing domestic demand.

Saudi Aramco (the Saudi Arabian Oil Company) will buy up to two spot cargoes, or a total of 160000 metric tonnes (mt), each month until the end of the year...

Last year, I was using a 2007 rate of increase in consumption of +10%/year, because a non-Saudi source inside Saudi Arabia told me to expect a total increase in Saudi liquids consumption of 500,000 bpd from 2006 to 2008. Based on the original 2006 EIA number, Saudi Arabia did increase their 2007 consumption by 11%/year, but the EIA revised the 2006 consumption number up, so that the 2007 rate of increase was "only" +7.7%/year (which would double their consumption to about 4.6 mbpd in less than 10 years).

In any case, it's a pretty good bet that their 2008 consumption will be around 2.6 mbpd, versus 2.0 mbpd in 2005:


Those numbers would put the Saudi net exports falling to virtually zero (less than 1 mbpd) closer to your early case of 2020, rather than middle case of 2030. This is an uncomfortably short time before TSHTF.

12 years is a very short time to get our stuff together. Luckily, there is a lot of waste in our system - we should be able to offset that 7 mbpd drop, but it will take a lot of effort.

Any idea what Iraqi exports could look like in 10 years?


Note that TSHTF isn't necessarily when things hit "zero." As supplies diminish things will get tighter and tighter. So we need to get our stuff together while we're catching "up" to a declining curve.

My apologizies for the depressing comment.

Well its already to late for our style of economy based on fiat currencies and debt. Resource constraints are enough to collapse the system given the huge debt bubble that was created esp over the last ten years.

Now the only interesting thing to do is try and figure out what the collapse triggers will be and figure out the timing to some extent if its possible.

What I've found amazing is that even the electric rail proposal which makes a lot of sense cannot prevent collapse.

Basically we are dealing with a old unsafe building in a earthquake zone. We can either implode it on purpose or live in it and let it collapse naturally.

Since no one will ever except that we have to collapse we wont do it on purpose and will suffer forced collapse.

Which of imploding it on purpose or letting it collapse naturally do you feel is the "lesser of two evils"?

In the "on purpose" it seems we can hope (I know, I know) for whatever mitigating steps may be left be emloyed.


I think we should implode it on purpose. Effectively this means defaulting on the world debt.

Really its nothing more than a Russian style 5 year plan command economy. We initiate switch over to Nuclear/Renewable electric rail. Repudiate our debt collapsing the world economy and build out a renewable infrastructure using a new sustainable banking system backed by renewable energy.

"I think we should implode it on purpose. Effectively this means defaulting on the world debt."

I agree that it would be best to implode it on purpose. I disagree on what that means effectively.

IMV, imploding the system means adopting a tight monetary policy (such as back to 5% Fed Funds Rate) that trigger a deep recession with bank failures and high unemployment. That would drive down demand enough to give time to implement mitigation strategies that enable avoidance of societal collapse.

By societal collapse I mean long blackouts and/or failure to produce and distribute essential goods and provide essential services. 25% unemployment does not mean societal collapse if you give the unemployed a subsistence income. Spain had that level of unemployment in the 90's.

OTOH, what we are seeing right now is in effect "defaulting on the world debt", not nominally, but in real terms. Which can be seen readily considering that the US is the world's biggest debtor, and the quantity of REAL goods (oil, coal, grains, fertilizers, metals) that can be bought today by the US total debt is much lower than the quantity that could have been bought just one year ago.

Now, it is well known that the effect of melting debt away in real terms by way of inflation is to INCREASE demand, not reduce it. People who borrowed money have higher propensity to demand goods (for consumption or investment) than people who lent money. Melting debt away alleviates the burden on debtors so that they are again able to demand goods. That was the way out of the US depression in 1933 and of the Argentinian depression in 2002. And it was fine at those times because the economies were far from the physical limits to growth, and lack of demand was the factor that prevented economic growth.

But now that the economy is hitting against those limits, is it wise to encourage demand? Take one of the activities more sensitive to debt burden: construction. Is it wise to encourage further home construction, the way how and the places where it is done now? Is it wise to encourage further growth in Las Vegas?

"Repudiate our debt collapsing the world economy and build out a renewable infrastructure using a new sustainable banking system backed by renewable energy."

While the de facto repudiation of debt via inflation could eventually lead to the public repudiating fiat currency in favor of precious metals (a variant of the known phenomenon of dollarization that could be dubbed "metallization") and eventually to a new banking system based on them [1], the encouragement of consumption associated with that path significantly increases the probability of societal collapse. Conversely, triggering a deep US-led OECD recession significantly lowers that probability. (The world economy would not actually "collapse" even in that case, since China would probably still be growing although at much lower rates).

[1] E.g. as described by the section "Privatizing money" of

Russia has a large pipeline under contruction due for completion in 2009. That might reverse some of the declines. Putin indicated Russian oil field developers were turning to East Siberia where there oil fields remaining. These fields were stranded due to their remote location.

Well setting the feds fund rate back to 5% would be enough to collapse the house of cards thats todays economy. I don't think the inflation gambit can work simply because oil would go sky high as would most commodities wages would not grow. We are not going to be able to inflate our way out of this one.

Peak oil is the only reason the fed quit cutting the interest rates. I'm pretty sure KSA warned them that letting the dollar fall more would result in real cuts. They may not be able to produce more but they can readily cut.

Your correct China would probably continue to grow for a while longer simply because of momentum but I think the Chinese economy can be stopped within 5 years its already close to blowing up. Chinese banks are setting on billions in bad debt.


They have almost as bad a situation there as here.

1) 'Increase the Fed funds rate to 5% collapsing all the banks'

Then where would the financing come from to 'mitigate'? 'Time' to mitigate is one thing. Financing mitigation is another matter.

2) '25% unemployment does not mean societal collapse if the unemployed are given a subsistance income'.

Where would the money come from to give the unemployed a subsistance income? What form would this money take? After the banking system collapse what would back a new currency or, for that matter, what would back a dollar...as if anyone would want or accept dollars.

3) 'melting debt away'? This is a term that I have never heard used by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Please explain. The US Fed has the ability to cut interest rates which will weaken the dollar and the power to increase interest rates which will strengthen the dollar. Many other side effects accrue to either Fed action and the Fed has the power to purchase US Treasury Issuance or Sell Issuance...but not 'melting debt away'.

4) Ah, now I see what you were trying to say...The term you are seeking is 'monetize the debt'...Not, 'melt the debt away'.

I think that you are failing to grasp that the US Government has no money. None, nada, nyet. The business of the Gov is to collect and redistribute money. For instance, taxes are collected for distribution to Social Security, the US military, federal highway systems, and a lot of other programs. That is the way the system is supposed to work...but of course it has been gamed and we have spent our way into big trouble. Guns and butter do not work...it is one, or the other, not both. Every podunk town and farmer in America is represented by a lobbyist in DC attempting to get some pork to the folks back home...and, the folks get the pork in the form of 'earmarks' slipped into various bills by the congresscritters. Thats the butter part. The guns part is more obvious: see Iraq, Afganistan, Viet Nam, ad nauseum...

I would like to continue our conversation some time but not now.

You get a cramdown. You cut the pensions, pay, etc, to the point where people quit and get jobs. As government funds going out slow down, tax funds coming in slow down. So you cut government funds going out even more.
This is also affected by our need for investment in power, materials, fuels, etc. So our forward tax rate has to be low. We can't even borrow money because borrowed money is a future tax increase.
Essentially the government will pay off the minimum pensions using very high wealth (implied value income) taxes to keep a minimum standard of living for retirees, and essentially nothing else. The military industrial security complex will go away. So will aid to families with dependent children and aid to farmers with dependent creditors as the welfare mommies and welfare farmers get jobs that formerly went to imports and immigrants.
This isn't politics, this is arithmetic. The money simply isn't there.

I would be surprised if the rich will allow higher taxes on their wealth (income or assets). They will construct the solution that meets their needs, not societal ones.

True, but even from a completely selfish viewpoint, they need to avoid societal collapse. Wealth is useful only as long as there is a security system in place to protect the wealthy. It was the wealthy neighborhoods of Baghdad which were looted in April 2003, not the slums.

This isn't politics, this is arithmetic. The money simply isn't there.

It most certainly is politics. Fully rollback the US Empire and its supporting institutions and presto you have over $1Trillion/year to spend on renewables and alt-transport, etc.

That so few see this solution is proof positive of how blind people are.

Heresy! ;-)

'Increase the Fed funds rate to 5% collapsing all the banks'

"Then where would the financing come from to 'mitigate'?"

First, though it's clear that many banks would fail, I didn't say "collapsing ALL the banks", nor do I want that, and a return to a barter economy. Anyway, (Long) emergency times warrant emergency, or at least heterodox, monetary policies. You can perfectly have the Fed lending funds to the remaining banks (which will be enough for the purpose) in a two-tier system:

at low rates only for specific funding of projects related to renewable energy sources

at high rates for all other purposes.

A Central Bank lending to commercial banks in a multi-tier system is something that has been done in Thirld World (excuse me, emerging) countries for decades. And IMV encouraging construction of wind farms while at the same time discouraging suburban home construction is highly conducive to avoiding societal collapse.

'25% unemployment does not mean societal collapse if the unemployed are given a subsistance income'.

"Where would the money come from to give the unemployed a subsistance income? What form would this money take? After the banking system collapse what would back a new currency or, for that matter, what would back a dollar...as if anyone would want or accept dollars."

It should be clear by now that I am not advocating the end of money or the complete disappearance of the banking system. And it's basic monetary theory that the health of a currency and the health of a (fractional reserve) banking system can be OPPOSITE objectives, such as when the Central Bank, to prevent banks from failing, creates huge amounts of money rendering the currency worth less and less (as the Fed has been doing lately). Therefore, a tight monetary policy (i.e. one in which the Fed refuses to print money except for renewable energy projects), while causing many bank failures, would STRENGHTHEN the dollar. Morevoer, it would be the ONLY way to streghthen the dollar. As Bernanke stated in his famous 2002 speech:

"Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services."

And he has lately proved that last point beyond all reasonable doubt.

Anyway, to see where the money for the unemployment subsidy would come from, it's useful to imagine for a moment a barter economy: the government just takes some of the goods and services produced by the working population and then distributes those goods and services among the unemployed. Then you add money to the picture. The same method is useful for modelling Social Security too, just replacing the unemployed with the retired.

'melting debt away'?

"This is a term that I have never heard used by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Please explain."

The expression "inflating away" is much more common, such as in

Anyway, "melting away" is not my invention, as seen in:

"Seems simple: rather than cutting consumption and upping savings, thereby touching off a nasty recession, let inflation do its magic and watch the debts melt away."

"The term you are seeking is 'monetize the debt'...Not, 'melt the debt away'."

The two concepts are related but not the same.

When the Fed creates dollars accepting Treasury-, Agency-, or BS-backed debt as collateral, it monetizes debt. That's the process whereby money is created nowadays. (BTW, nothing prevents a Central Bank to create money by buying gold and/or silver, as it was in old times. That goes for those fearing that massive repayment of debts or unwillingness to take on new debt would cause a deflationary collapse.)

When the newly created dollars are not matched by a corresponding increase in physical goods available, you have inflation.
Time t1: $10 in circulation and 10 breads produced => 1 bread is worth $1
Time t2: $20 in circulation and 10 breads produced => 1 bread is worth $2

When you have inflation, the real value of debts is reduced. That's what I mean by "melting debt away".
The baker owes $2.
At t1, he needs to sell 2 breads to pay off his debt.
At t2, he only needs to sell 1 bread to pay off his debt.

I am reminded that the day after the San Francisco earthquake, the streetcar lines were operating again. Twisted rails with passage at 2 mph in spots, etc. but working.


From the big picture your probably right in a sense. We will put in electric rail for sure but probably under duress.

What sucks is we could easily have high speed bullet trains powered by wind/solar installations along the tracks and the interstate systems right of ways could be used to build it out. And of course existing rail.

Just putting in high speed rail between SF and Sacramento in California would be a huge boost. And you could do the same on the East coast.

Putting in local lines is a good thing but the lack of high speed intercity rail is a real economic killer IMHO. Without it I suspect economic activity will be isolated to the largest cities and you end up with the Asian mega city problems which is not a good solution post peak either.

Fairly densely populated villages with fast access to city centers for work and smaller large cities < 500k is in my opinion the best answer. The rail would naturally prevent suburban sprawl giving a more European demographics.

Ohh well.

memmel - What do you think about this see-saw stock market? Are these Wall Street parasites just sucking fumes?

I think the system is now so complex that nobody understands it.

I've personally got no idea on the stock market. Fundamentally it should be a lot lower than it is right now and should have been going down all last year. I think a bigger problem is that eventually bonds will have to be downgraded and it will result in a fire sale as pension funds etc are forced by their charters to unload.

So I think a bond market collapse will be what takes us out this time around not a stock market collapse.

Everyone is watching stocks because of 1929 and the bond market is where all the problems really exist.

I assume when the bond market starts really collapsing their will be a rush into stocks pumping the stock market before it too finally collapses but I've been digging for info on bond market collapses and there is not a lot out there.

If I'm right real interest rates will have to skyrocket.


Housing dead beyond imagination.

The stock market is not the economy. In fact the stock market is becoming more disconnected from reality and the economy daily. The 'saw tooth' movement seen since August 07 is, on some days, due to very light volumn. Light volumn means small buy/sell orders can move the market an extrodinary amount. Then there is the Plunge Protection Team. Their actions are ongoing but are not disclosed to the public. Does this sound like a 'free market' at work?

Another ongoing problem is rumors, purposely started by Wall St entities to move markets up or down to make a quick profit, are common practice. Currently there are many rumors circulating that Lehman Bros is going under for various reasons. This rumor has caused Leh stock to be shorted out of the money to a tremendous extent. Yesterday there were about 16,000+ out of the money shorts purchased on Leh. Obviously the shorts were looking for another Bear Stearns 'Black Swan' event. Also, Leh is repurchasing its own stock with money borrowed from the Fed...an action that Bernanke said specifically he would prohibit. Bernanke has failed to act on the Leh stock buy back which makes Ben a liar once again.

Imo, the biggest current threat to the US financial markets are the $trillions in outstanding credit derivative swaps where there are no or few $ set aside reserves. The counter party risk is enormous and since each CDS is structured differently few people can even understand this complex market...and, the CDS market is unregulated. Bernanke insured the purchase of Bear Stearns by GS because GS was at great risk of counter party default with Bear on derivative swaps.

Recently it has come to light that the worlds largest insurers are sitting on derivatives that are non performing. Because of the charter of Ins Companies they must mark this garbage to market and sell it. Commercial and investment banks can hide their garbage in level 2 or 3 assets, insurance companies do not have that option. If the insurance companies dump their garbage on the market it could cause a chain reaction in markets causing chaos. At this time I believe that is the biggest threat to markets...but, as the housing market continues to weaken there will be many other risks to the economy. What we are seeing at the moment is huge losses on mortgages tied to sinking home values and the big banks are the losers so far but they are marking their bad CDOs to level 3 and not writing them off as losses. The losses in CRE (commercial real estate) are just beginning to show up. Many of the losses in CRE will be to local banks. Main st banks usually keeps cre and construction loans on their own books. Look for lots of local banks to fail soon. Local banks failing will further tighten credit markets. Look for credit lines to be tightened further, credit card limits to be reduced, home improvement loans to be difficult to get, auto loans to be difficult to get, etc. Main st will look about like it did in the 1950s, a time when loans were made on money good collateral. Local bankers are going to get a haircut and they will over react. The clock is about to be turned back about 60 years. There will be demand destruction in everything that is not absolutely necessary to survive.

The people on TOD that believe financing for unproven technologies research or production will magically appear are in for a surprise. The more destruction that occurs to the economy the less money will be available for renewable energy production and research and purchase by consumers or utilities. The economy we have is a crappy system but it is all we have...If it fails then everything is going to grind to a halt except barter. How many potatoes will it take to purchase a roof full of solar panels?

The deleveraging has yet to begin. Anyone that tells you that this train wreck is over is either nieve or a liar.

If I were foolish enough to purchase stock now it would be strictly a non-discreationary companies stock...and one must be very carefull because lots of companies that were formerely 'manufacturers' of durable or consumer goods entered into the 'easy money business' of finance. Check out the disaster that is GMAC, the credit finance arm of GM. Check out what happened to GE after it's last quarterly report showed that it made money in its manufacturing sector but took a bath in its financial sector. GE stock dropped about 25% yoy which means that I personally took a bath along with GE. This came after GE assured stock holders a couple of years ago that it had divested itself of financials. Don't believe everything you hear from a CEO or CFO or everything that you see in a prospectus. If their lips are moving assume that they are lying.

Good luck...BTW, I do believe in gold in my hand or in my safety deposit box. :)

Main st will look about like it did in the 1950s, a time when loans were made on money good collateral. Local bankers are going to get a haircut and they will over react. The clock is about to be turned back about 60 years. There will be demand destruction in everything that is not absolutely necessary to survive.

This is not necessarilly a bad thing, maybe it is just what we need to do. Bite the bullet and re-acquaint ourselves with reality.

The people on TOD that believe financing for unproven technologies research or production will magically appear are in for a surprise. The more destruction that occurs to the economy the less money will be available for renewable energy production and research and purchase by consumers or utilities. The economy we have is a crappy system but it is all we have...If it fails then everything is going to grind to a halt except barter. How many potatoes will it take to purchase a roof full of solar panels?

This is what I keep saying - coming up with the investment capital for renewables and eneregy efficiency, let alone for getting the rest of the FFs out, is going to be a real problem. For most of us, the crisis is upon us, and we're not going to be coping with it using the gear we would like to have, we're going to be coping with it using the gear that we actually do have.

If I were foolish enough to purchase stock now it would be strictly a non-discreationary companies stock...and one must be very carefull because lots of companies that were formerely 'manufacturers' of durable or consumer goods entered into the 'easy money business' of finance [snip]...BTW, I do believe in gold in my hand or in my safety deposit box.

It is tricky, isn't it, trying to figure out how best to protect one's financial assets? We are looking at possible hyperinflation, and also at possible deflation. Lots of things sound good in theory, but there is so much that can go wrong in practice. It is very difficult terrain to navigate right now; lots of risks, and many of those with little in the way of potential reward.

"The people on TOD that believe financing for unproven technologies research or production will magically appear are in for a surprise. The more destruction that occurs to the economy the less money will be available for renewable energy production and research and purchase by consumers or utilities."

Although a recession would certainly curtail demand for electric cars, energy-efficient houses and solar panels, a cursory look at the real world should be enough to notice that the current profile of aggregate demand includes, in a scale ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE greater than those above, things which not only waste fossil fuels but also leave society in a state of ever greater vulnerability to the unavoidable coming energy decline, suburban and exurban construction being the most conspicuous example, followed by production of inefficient vehicles, precisely the two items whose construction/production would be most affected by a credit crisis and ensuing recession, which therefore does not seem such a bad outcome after all.

And as I said in a previous post, financing of renewable energy can be still be easily achieved in that scenario via "heterodox" monetary policies, whereby the Central Banks lends funds to banks in a two-tier system:
- at low rates only for specific funding of projects or purchases related to renewable energy sources
- at high rates for all other purposes.

After all, a Central Bank lending to commercial banks in a multi-tier system is something that has been done in Thirld World (excuse me, emerging) countries for decades. And IMV encouraging construction of wind farms while at the same time discouraging suburban home construction is the safest way to avoiding societal collapse.

Don't know about Iraq, but I took a stab at total net exports down the thread.

Britain faces deepest slump since 1990s

Britain is uniquely vulnerable to the deepest economic slump since the recession of the 1990s because the Government has left itself no room to cut taxes, a report warned yesterday.


To support this, here is the UK balance of payments:


For commodities including oil:


And here is the Budget Deficit:


It should be noted that an increasing number of items in the UK are off-budget, in Government statistics Northern Rock would be a prominent example, and so these figures are very much a best case both for the budget deficit and national debt.

I'm surprised no-one is interested that we are going bankrupt - but I suppose we all knew that! :-)

well, so will most if not all of the western nations.

You guys were bankrupt after WW1...but no one bothered to tell you, least of all your leaders.

Chamberlain was attempting to placate and bargain with Hitler not because he wanted to, but because GB was in dire financial straits and the military was at low ebb. Of course there was no way that Chamberlain could communicate this to his countrymen...so, he was sacked. Churchill was clever and knew that somehow he had to draw the US into the war. He pulled it off with the help of Roosevelt and the US bankers who made a fortune from the war...the same US bankers who had helped Hitler rise to power and rearm during the 1930s.

See: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer. It is all there in unvarnished detail.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is one of the best books I've ever read. Excellent!

Does this mean SuperG fixed your problem of accessing this site? What was the problem?

Hi Leanan. Super G gave me some good leads, but my internet provider still cannot fix the problem. I am left with accessing TOD through a 3rd party server - jeal.info. I can also access TOD from my office computer. It is very puzzling indeed.

His companion book, "The Decline and Fall of the Third Republic" is nearly as good -- and possibly even more relevant to our own situation here in the US, as it documents a fundamentally dysfunctional political system, economy, and society as it slowly moves toward catastrophe.

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors.
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.


Interesting how Americans have to read British media to get any info re their own government. IMO the permanent occupation is expected by a majority of Americans-it is going to be a big drain on USA finances going forward.

I've said it before: We'll leave Iraq when the oil is gone.

America's involvement (and that of the UK) in Iraq is completely baffling unless you accept that this is a great power trying to secure a vital interest. And there really isn't that much that is new about either their motivations or their approach. Divide et impera - divide and rule - has made it relatively easy to stay. The Iraqi goverment will be under pressure (as the article states) to accept the terms that the U.S. offers, because of all of the competing forces in Iraq that threaten them. I suspect that the U.S. not having a plan for the post-invasion period may very well have been part of "the plan." When Bush has talked about being judged by history, I wonder if this is what he is referring to, that the price of being a patriot (his own view of this) is looking like a fool.

Sure-let us all pretend that there is no money to be made off Iraq. Wow-this is so baffling.

pedestrian - "the plan"???

If I could accept that they considered the present predicament in their long term strategic plan then I would have a far higher respect (fear) for this administration. But this administration is the Inspector Cluseau group with the exception that when they fell into a vat of sh*t they didn't come out smelling like a rose.

If I thought for a minute that they had "a plan" then I would need to double my Xanex intake.

Three Days of the Condor - the Finale (30 seconds of total Paranoia)


If we are facing a peak in global oil production in the near term then I'm not entirely sure that Bush & Cheney would see having 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq as a "predicament" - a "solution" might be more like it. Of course I would much prefer a different solution, a different vision of the world and of security.

David Strahan, in The Last Oil Shock, makes a similar case with an emphasis on the British side of things.

It's certainly possible that Iraq has always been about what we've been told it's about, and that it's Curly, Larry, and Moe from top to bottom. I just can't help but suspect otherwise.

Securing oil for the USA economy and bringing democracy/fighting terror aren't the only two possibilities on this one-it is almost impossible that hasn't occurred to you.

Again I don't think peak global production was the issue. However I do think that further drops in US production was a real concern. The issue was not supply but secure supply. My best guess is that US production will tank over the next few years and a detailed understanding of US production is possible.

Just the lack of prospects for expanding oil production by the major oil companies is enough to warrant the invasion of Iraq. I'm not saying that peak oil may have not been part of the picture but you don't need to invoke peak oil to justify the invasion. Potential long term decline of the major oil companies is more than enough.

A good argument... certainly other believable scenarios exist, but they all seem to have one thing in common: oil. As P.O. Tarzan put it, "we'll be out of Iraq when the oil's gone." I often wonder if we here at TOD are the only ones who "get" peak oil. And if Simmons has some data on Saudi reserves, I'd have to guess that the good folks at the NSA or the other intelligence agencies do too.

Cheney, 1999. 50,000,000/day needed by 2010. ME is the prize.

You don't need to know any more than that. There is more, but that's all you need to know about why we invaded Iraq.


Iraq on agenda from Day 1, complete with maps.
secret meetings with oil execs
oil the only thing protected during invasion
US-drafted oil law sucks all the profit out of Iraq; gives US first shot at oil
despite 1999 quote, not a word from our Dear Puppet and Puppeteer on PO
Bush, 2008: There's nothing there for them to increase
What other reason was there for going into Iraq? None.


It's an academic discussion at this point, but why not keep it real?


you mean: 50,00,000bpd of NEW production by 2010 needed to balance depletion of existing fields and increased demand.

[..].estimates there will be an average of 2% annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead along with conservatively a 3% natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need on the order of an additional 50,000,000 barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from?


you mean: 50,00,000bpd of NEW production by 2010 needed

Yup... that's what I said. "Needed by" pretty much gets the message across.


ccpo - You're saying that these DillWeeds invade Iraq to give the corporations like Exxon and Conoco a free shot with oil production pocketing all of those hefty profits...and the real justification for the invasion is creating a pipeline for world domination via control of the oil fields since we have now rounded up the last major reserves.

Hell I'll buy that.

What sucks is they use our money and our blood and then have the gaul to feed us a line of bullshit.

see DaveMart post, just above. Iraq is ONLY way into Iran for any invasion to grab their oil/gas. Take a geographic tour and you will understand. Recall the aborted PrezCarter' mission to stake back our spies, er..."hostages". Teheran etc are very difficult to access.

Well, not without a fight. Congress is getting involved and the battle is on...a couple of Iraqi parliament members were before congress yesterday expressing their desire to have no US Military bases in Iraq. A few members agreeing with them (Ron Paul)


The issue with congress is pork barrel politics the democratic states want a piece of the Iraqi pie.
So consider it a renegotiations of where the pork goes. This will take several years to play out and at the moment I'd suspect they are talking about the size of the pie much less how to slice it.

Obviously American companies will get the lion share of contracts to support these bases.

Its sort of a mini Marshall plan if you will.

Now once all this is sorted out at that point Congress might make some more enlightened decisions.
I might win the California Lottery without buying a ticket.

Reminds me of an article I saw a few years back...

Bush Sees No End to War on Terrorism

(08-15-06) 15:09 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

President Bush said Tuesday that the foiled plot to blow up flights between Britain and the United States is evidence the U.S. could be fighting terrorists for years to come.

"America is safer than it has been, yet it is not yet safe," Bush told reporters at the National Counterterrorism Center just outside Washington. "The enemy has got an advantage when it comes to attacking our homeland: They got to be right one time and we've got to be right 100 percent of the time to protect the American people."

The counterterrorism center is located at an undisclosed site in Northern Virginia known as Liberty Crossing. It merges hundreds of government experts and more than two dozen computer networks from various federal agencies focusing on potential threats.


"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." - George Orwell

America is safer than it has been, yet it is not yet safe.

Ahh yes, when addressing the public, you have to walk a fine line: you must convince them there is a danger, or they'll forget and stop allowing you to continue trillion dollar unnecessary wars and jailing or spying on certain people through unconstitutional means. But if you make it seem it's too dangerous, they'll start to wonder just what it is you've been doing the last few years while you said you were "keeping them safe". Truth just don't enter into it.

That's a lot like the Department of Homeland Security's threat level system, there are five different levels, green through red. The two lowest levels, green and blue, have never been used. Got something wrong with their calibration there... Not to mention there's no bloody criteria to change from one to the other.

As for the grandparent comment about an indefinite U.S. stay in Iraq: I suppose they're following the model of WWII where Germany and Japan were occupied after hostilities ceased. In those two cases though it wasn't the U.S. army that was causing the hostility (and in Iraq it is at least an irritant). But then again, if the U.S. army can prop up some U.S. friendly regime, maybe they'll (we'll) come out ahead in oil trade but I kinda doubt it. If the U.S. leaves I think it's almost certain that the government there will collapse and there will be a theocracy in its place with no chance of a democracy at all. Of course, the U.S. presence gives people the excuse to behave badly, even when it isn't causing collateral damage. It's a lovely situation to be in-- up a certain fecal-contaminated creek without a paddle.

Hello Gwydion - "It's a lovely situation to be in-- up a certain fecal-contaminated creek without a paddle."

That is quite a metaphor!

After the end of the cold war in the late 80's I was living in Manhattan Beach CA and the contractors were being phased out - end of hostilities. The economic fallout was massive. Only this time it put wealthy people out of work. Bush I fixed that with the first M.E. invasion and the restoration of military contracts saved those lucrative defense contractors. Bill Clinton did nothing to curb this growth trend. Bush II has been a tool of the defense contractors and 9/11 has made the sale easy.

It isn't a question of political will, the truth is we can't stop even if we wanted to. Defense spending is the only real leg that our economy stands on. As long as we can continue deficit spending we can go on indefinitely...

"I am a patriot...I believe it is my duty to protect my country from the government" Edward Abbey

Heh, yes I suppose defense spending is as American as Apple Pie! In Clinton's defense (or offense if you look at from the perspective of the economic benefit to defense spending), he did close a few military bases.

The Orwell Estate is suing BushCo for plagiarism.

The Orwell Estate is suing BushCo for plagiarism.

Do you mean The Orwell Estate is suing BushCo Oceania for plagiarism?

Come on. The Ministry of Truth would never hear of such nonsense.

"A proposed Iraqi-American security agreement will include permanent American bases in the country, and the right for the United States to strike, from within Iraqi territory, any country it considers a threat to its national security"


Perpetuel war, anyone??

I read that yesterday.... Sounds about right.... Kirkuk and rumeila belong to us and we'll do what it takes to keep them.

What can I say? It's the worst case, it's madness, yet it's consistent with US neocolonial policy of promising to each tribe that it will butcher the rival tribe if it is allowed to steal the oil.

However, we've been here before. The US has been trying for 5 years to find Iraqi elites willing to betray the people, only to find that they are incapable of governing. The US can't really cash in on the oil until someone is capable of governing. So right now Iraq functions to convert your tax dollars into Halliburton dividends, charged onto the deficit. Instead of Iraqis selling their oil on the cheap, Americans sell their liberties on the cheap.

The Iraqis must save us from ourselves by shutting down the Green Zone.

We can all see why the US can't give up the Iraqi and Iranian oil to the highest bidder - meaning China.
What we can't see is the what - as in what's going on, exactly? I'd like to hear some theories!


"Pentagon Is Set to Oust Two Top Leaders From Air Force
Published: June 6, 2008
WASHINGTON — The Air Force’s senior civilian officer and its highest-ranking general are expected to be asked to resign following an inquiry into the mishandling of nuclear weapons parts and a series of other embarrassments, Pentagon officials said Thursday.

The Air Force secretary, Michael W. Wynne, and the service’s chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, had come under pressure following an official inquiry to determine how four high-tech electrical nosecone fuses for Minuteman nuclear warheads were sent to Taiwan in place of helicopter batteries. The mistake was discovered in March — a year and a half after the erroneous shipment."

What difference can it make to the Lame Ducks to replace these guys six months before they get the axe anyway? Okay, say Moseley has to lean in and "take one for the team," but a year and a half after the fact? And why should the Secretary go? If it's an attempt to regain some cred for the GOP, well, it ain't gonna work.

nelsone -

Even if these two guys did screw up badly, evidently that did not prevent them from keeping their positions a full year and a half after the fact. The question then is: what could the Bush Regime possibly gain by taking this action a mere 5 months before the election?

Admiral Fallon is out, and now we have two other high-ranking Pentagon figures going. Sounds like an eleventh-hour purge to me.

Is it just possible that Secretary Wynne and General Moseley did not get with the program and opposed an attack on Iran, be it directly by the US or indirectly via Israel with the US having no choice but to 'defend' Israeli in the mess that will ensue?

It's very unlikely Air Force guys would oppose an attack. They want it, they need it, and the Air Force is clearly being targeted for infiltration by the most extreme Christian Dominionists. The Air Force faces irrelevance as the public comes to understand the nature of modern unconventional war. The only part of the Air Force that has proven very useful in this war is the drone part, but the officers are a mafia of pilots who resist drones. Recall that USAF has also tried to get rid of its A-10 attack planes, which are the most useful manned planes in the Middle East because they engage ground forces at low altitude. The Air Force wants to rule the world from on high, bombing cities and leaders to make foreign policy from a position of overwhelming strength. Iran is the only chance it gets.

The Air Force, and its counterparts in other great power states, were born out of an ideology; that aerial bombardment could replace all other forms of politics, that it could create the new Rome. It's built into their DNA. What's horrifying is how that has come to be merged with Christian imperialist theology, which also seems to have Iran in its gunsights.

The Navy seems to be a lot more realistic about strategic power. Its admirals surely by now know how vulnerable their carriers are to missiles while operating close to any shore, and they don't want to be exposed by an actual war.

Maybe Gates just wants to get grotesquely incompetent generals out of the way before the Air Force has to actually sustain a long strategic campaign.

the Air Force is clearly being targeted for infiltration by the most extreme Christian Dominionists

Can you provide some links, references to support this assertion?

I have no links to provide, but look into the rise of fundamentalist christianity at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for starters.

We can all see why the US can't give up the Iraqi and Iranian oil to the highest bidder

They already are.

The US imports about 1/3 of Iraq's oil exports, just like it imports 1/3 of the world's oil exports (13.5Mb/d of 41Mb/d).

Iraqi oil is sold on the market, and the US doesn't get most of it. That fact undercuts a lot of popular conspiracy theories, but it's a fact nonetheless.

Iraqi oil is sold on the market, and the US doesn't get most of it. That fact undercuts a lot of popular conspiracy theories, but it's a fact nonetheless.

The fact that they let the oil go through the market means nothing. It's not for profit, it's for control. That is most important. Though, I am sure they will find ways to profit as well in the future.

They're denying it:

U.S. ambassador: No permanent Iraq bases

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is not trying to set up permanent military bases in Iraq, even surreptitiously, the diplomat leading tense talks with Iraq said Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker rejected the notion that the legal and military agreements he wants this year are blueprints for an everlasting American military presence inside Iraq.

No doubt this is 100% correct.The leases will expire when hell freezes over, or Iraq runs out of oil, whichever comes first.

Leanan - I wanted to get your take on Hillary giving in to Obama. So What is it?

Did you expect anything else?

Did I expect anything else? Of course. But my expectations are rarely considered whatever the case. Obama is truly going to be 'Mr Smith Goes to Washington' but he doesn't get a boys camp built he gets to be president over a country where the average is well below average.

"Imagine the level of mentality of someone who would watch wrestling" Woody Allen

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

So far, nothing has particularly surprised me. I did not expect Hillary to declare she was running as an independent, or anything like that. She's one of the party faithful. She said she would run until there was a winner, and that's what she did. It may not have been what Obama supporters wanted, but it's what her supporters wanted. ("Quitting too soon" is something of a sore point for Democrats.)

As for Obama...my guess is that he'll lose in November.

Believe it or not I hope Obama looses if McCain wins the hawks have plenty of time to bomb Iran and may put it off for a few more years. However I'm really concerned that if Obama wins Bush will bomb Iran after the election as a lame duck president.

I used to be a real political junkie, but I have to say, these days, I just don't care very much. There's so little difference between the GOP and the Democrats. And I don't think anyone we elect will be effective in the face of what I expect to happen in the next four years. No, I'm not necessarily expecting Mad Max or nuclear war. But just '70s-style stagflation will be bad enough. Ask Jimmy Carter.

Me too! I have turned my back on it now - I may vote if I perceive some advantage to doing so, but it will not be because I believe in any of these people. They represent a constituency that I have nothing in common with, and from a big picture there is very little difference between them. They are, after all, beholden to the same groups. Besides, they will be mostly powerless in the face of the events that will unfold. While there are at least constructive things they could theoretically do, most of them will be very unlikely to occur.

I agree. Whoever is elected will be unable to cope with what is coming. I think the Republicans should have to deal with the mess they have created. Otherwise they will just watch the democrats fail and they will be back in power in 4 years--if we still have a democracy in 4 years.

Leanan - Sorry for the mis-understanding. What I'm saying is that IMO Obama will beat McCain and will become the next President. McCain has a temper and a thin skin. He is a volcano waiting to erupt.

But it won't make any difference because events and circumstances through 2012 trump personalities. I also assert the adolescent nature of the American citizen will make it impossible to mitigate Peak Oil or Climate Change by any candidate who might prevail in Novemeber.

In that case...I don't see how Hillary suspending her campaign changes anything. I said before that I thought Obama would probably lose the general, and I haven't seen anything that's changed my mind.

If anything, I'm more pessimistic about his chances. Not because of anything he or Hillary did, but because I've been talking to a friend of mine who's been campaigning for Obama in Ohio. People curse her, tell her "I'm never voting for a f****** n*****" and slam the door in her face. When she stands by the road with an Obama sign, drivers scream obscenities at her. Apparently, the Obama campaign makes an effort to downplay this kind of thing, not reporting when their offices are vandalized and such. I'm starting to think race will be a bigger issue than I thought. Sexism is more acceptable than racism, IMO. People post that "Bros before Hoes" thing all over the place, and everyone just laughs. Nobody would be similarly derogatory about race, and if they were, they'd probably get banned. So Obama may have more of an uphill battle than people think in the general. I'm half afraid it will be a McGovern-type landslide.

McCain's temper is scary, but so was Bush's, and it didn't stop people from voting for him.

IMO it is because TPTB have managed to make the USA, at the median, such a lower class country. When you read the Hispanic polling numbers for Obama it is literally shocking how low he polls. He is obviously of high intelligence and extremely well educated, which IMO psychologically troubles a large % of the mouth breathers.

Um...you aren't saying Hispanics are mouth-breathers, are you?

There is certainly a hostility towards intelligence in the US. (Think of how Limbaugh mocks liberals as "educated beyond their intelligence.") But if anything, it's the WASPs who think that way, not necessarily the Hispanics.

Obama doesn't seem to do well with other minorities, and that doesn't really surprise me. There's often distrust between the various minority groups, perhaps because they see themselves as being in competition with each other.

In Hawaii, it was planned that way. The white plantation owners intentionally brought in people from different countries, and kept them in different sections, so they wouldn't learn each other's language or become friends. It was their way of preventing labor unions from forming.

Not because of anything he or Hillary did, but because I've been talking to a friend of mine who's been campaigning for Obama in Ohio. People curse her, tell her "I'm never voting for a f****** n*****" and slam the door in her face. When she stands by the road with an Obama sign, drivers scream obscenities at her. Apparently, the Obama campaign makes an effort to downplay this kind of thing, not reporting when their offices are vandalized and such. I'm starting to think race will be a bigger issue than I thought. Sexism is more acceptable than racism, IMO. People post that "Bros before Hoes" thing all over the place, and everyone just laughs. Nobody would be similarly derogatory about race, and if they were, they'd probably get banned. So Obama may have more of an uphill battle than people think in the general. I'm half afraid it will be a McGovern-type landslide.

And that's not including the outright cheating that will go on, the October - January Surprise of a new war or "terrorist attack" that invokes NSPD 51, or the fact HRC was stronger in the states needed to win.

All of this just makes it that much more likely I wills stay here and take my chances. People need to realize that what is being set up in Iraq is mirrored in the US: this is about control. If they think the only solution is to war for oil, then they have either decided they want a world for the elite and screw everyone else, or they don't see any alternative to warring for oil. In either case, you are looking at a police state of one sort or another.

This is supported by the rush to get the Iraqi deal done. The next president can summarily dismiss the accord the minute he takes office. Yes, politically difficult (not really: everyone with a brain wants us out of Iraq), but absolutely doable. So how does it really make much difference if they implement it in the next 7 months? How far along could the real on-the-ground elements be implemented? Not very.

There is more afoot than just an agreement between two nations, almost certainly.


I supported the war in Vietnam, and many conflicts since.
I maintained that America was being held to unrealistic standards, and for a great power acted moderately.
When 9/11 happened I dismissed conspiracy theories and supported taking out Iraq if that was thought to be sponsor of terrorism, although the incompetence of the aftermath horrified me.
Now, for the first time in my life, I think that the nature of America has changed, and that we have moved on to something which is a straightforward imperial power, towards it's own citizens as well as others.
I don;t think there was a plot, but that excuses were seized to move forward an agenda.
The political process there has become just that, a process, and the endless Presidential election grinds on, without substance beyond vying for how quickly they would nuke Iran.
In Britain under consideration at the moment is that the government should hold and access all e-mails, and speed cameras which would monitor every journey and how long it took.
We have not been jealous enough of our freedoms, and liberty is reversed by several centuries.
Torture and the suspension of habeus corpus, and wars which are not declared wars, show that we live in societies which are democratic in name only.

IMO plausible deniability works two ways.

For the guilty you can act as if you didn't know.

For the so called innocent (western world) we can act as if we didn't know.

We knew but didn't want to believe.

Many now know but still choose not to understand.

I supported the war in Vietnam

I don't know how you could. It was immoral, obscene, excessive and unjustified in 1968, and nothing has changed in 40 years to make it any more acceptable, in hindsight. It remains a blight on Australian history that our then Prime Minister actively supported the war, and sent Australian troops there with enthusiasm, despite huge internal dissent. We seem to be a US lap-dog in perpetuity, even trying to out-do the UK when we can.

I'm not really interested in re-hashing 40 year old arguments.

Don't be silly. There won't be any cheating. Every single member of the supreme court will have a vote, and the majority will decide who the president will be. The US is a democracy.

Leanan - I'm really disapointed to hear that you feel that way.

Years ago while I was still in school I spent a year in England with my mothers family. One night we went to a pub and I met one of my aunts. I was shocked because she was married to a black man. (1973) What was really shocking to me is that nobody held any stigma toward her or Neale. Neale liked to sing and was quite a decent tenor.

Isn't that a shock...real people not judging other people because of their color. But that was England and this is America.

Yeah, in England they prefer to judge people because of their religion. ;-)

I hope I'm wrong. It will make me much more hopeful about the future if I am.

But as the economy worsens, I expect the fissures in our society to widen. People will be fighting for pieces of a shrinking pie. Conflict of all sorts will increase, including racial. I think the worsening economy is a big reason for the immigration backlash, and that's just the beginning.

That's the most depressing thing I've heard in a while. I really thought we had moved past that.

I notice he didn't deny any of the alleged American demands, like control over airspace, legal immunity, ability to use Iraq to launch attacks on anyone.

If he's got nothing to hide then why are both the American and Iraqi legislatures being frozen out?

You know, Patrick Cockburn has done an absolutely amazing job of documenting the invasion and occupation. I wonder if he knows about Peak Oil.

File that WSJ article, "The Coming Oil Investment Boom",
in the "War is Peace" folder. So many lies in so little space.

File that WSJ article, "The Coming Oil Investment Boom",
in the "War is Peace" folder. So many lies in so little space.

why do you say that?

In yesterdays blog, I promised to start writing about some of the details involved with drilling for oil and the problems / limits to future design and manufacturing.

Primmer: A drilling rig can assume several different shapes and sizes, depending on location and depth of required drilling. As you can imagine, the first wells were only hundreds of feet deep and located on dry ground. Today’s offshore rig is drilling through miles of rock after going through almost a mile of water. The standard drill string (pipe) is 3 inches in diameter. This has been the case for decades. All of the drilling equipment that has been developed and perfected, over many years, was designed to support this pipe.

It may seam like a small thing, but in recent years, the limits to depth with 3 inch string were hit. The result was the development of the 4 inch drill string. Every aspect of the drilling rig and its equipment needed redesign to handle this bigger and much heavier pipe. This has been going on now for about ten years, and we still have work to do to overcome the challenges of such a simple thing as increased pipe size. Most of the problems will be obvious to you, but think about this for a minute. The increased diameter of the pipe means an increased circumference. This means an increased surface speed where the pipe rubs against the high pressure seals. These seals now wear out in less than a day and the rig has to stop while they are changed.

It is very hard for me to put into words the increased engineering effort required (read time) for each new drilling frontier. The things we are asked to solve now resemble a “moon shot” type project. We can do it, but time is not on our side and nobody will praise our achievements as our efforts are not able to stop the slippery slope after the peak.

Bloomberg.com: Worldwide
Brazilian Oil Finds May Cost a Record $240 Billion to Develop ... Petrobras will revise its $22.5 billion-a-year capital budget because it was drafted ...

eastex -

Everytime I see a picture of some of these huge offshore oil rigs I am greatly impressed by their size and complexity and wonder how we can still produce oil so (relatively) cheaply. However, are we not starting to run up against some inherent practical physical limits on how deep we can position these things and also on how deep we can drill? I mean, a three-mile long string of 4-inch pipe must have the torsional rigidity of an overcooked piece of spaghetti.

The other thing that made me scratch my head was learning that Shell (?) is buying a huge rig that was constructed in Finland and is about to make an over 8,000-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Good heavens, is the disparity in labor and construction costs between the US and Finland so great that it's still cheaper to push this monstrosity a third of the way around the world? Or is it that the US no longer has the capability of building such? As best I can tell, other than with regard to naval vessels, US shipbuilding capacity ranks pretty low these days.

Often the "big steel" for offshore rigs is built in Korea (Finland may be a quality alternative) and the detail specialized fitting is done in Louisiana, with often more than half the value here.

The Louisiana yards are packed and hiring, and oil service companies are often not "low bid buyers". They have built up confidence with specific yards and only long lead time quotes will send them elsewhere.

There are some size limitations in many yards, but some harbor improvements have been made.


Hi joule-

The limits to depth of well you speak of do exist, but we are not there yet. The drill string is able to twist several full rotations from the bit up to the drill floor. IMO, none of these engineering problems are unsurmountable, my enemy is the clock. Even money is not a problem, you can imagine that when those big rigs, that you see pictures of, were built for the North Sea at $700 million, oil was selling at $12 a bl.

I can teach you all more things than you ever wanted to know about drilling, but it won't change the picture that you already understand.

The Houston "oil machine" is currently backlogged until 2012. Wat that means is that all the big projects that you hear about coming on stream in the near future will be late and they will be the only ones possible. That is why Shell is getting things made in Finland or anywhere it can. TIME-TIME-TIME.


We have been using hybrids before it was fashionable. All of the big drilling equipment runs on 1000 hp electric motors (lots of torque), and the get their electricity from diesel generators located nearby.

I wonder if you would like to comment on the new Brazilian find, and put the challenges and possible costs in some kid of perspective?
Yergin commented and said it was likely to be even dearer than first estimates, but he has not got a lot of credibility around here!

I am not a geologist, but I think you can find one around here :)
From what I understand, reading the original stories, we can get there. Our current equipment is heavily geared towards the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the harsh weather of the North Sea.

There is currently a bidding war going on between the companies wanting to drill in Brazil and other existing areas. We are all working 60-80 hours a week, because money is no object. There is no way we can devote all our resources to any one area (the way we did for the North Sea). If we continue to go deeper, colder, and have new geological complications, we will look like we are standing still.

We might as well turn Houston into one big windmill factory.

A company I have an interest in, Seadrill, is involved with Petrobas, and will be until the play ends. It has a good video about deep water drilling and pictures of newbuilds at the link provided.

Several of the largest cruise liners are built in Finalnd as well. They have ultramodern yards with computerized cutting and welding.

Labor costs are probably higher in Finland than in the US. Their advantage comes from decades of capital investment and training.

eastex, your posts are really interesting and informative. I'm not an engineer, but I appreciate your effort to show all that is involved in drilling ever deeper and into complex places. Please continue.

What you describe is very interesting. Small changes like this causing huge rise in costs, and not just in extra steel. Please keep stories like this coming, it's very illustrative.

"nobody will praise our achievements"

That's because most people have no understanding of oil whatsoever. "there are plenty reserves". A collegue of my wife was very surprised to learn that the gas in her car was made from petroleum, to give an extreme example.

Ethanol July futures $2.27
Corn July futures $6.14
DDG's $173.5/Ton
Margin Negative(-16) cents/Gal

Are we approaching saturation?
Of course distilleries buy on contract.

July 2009:
Ethanol July futures $2.36
Corn July futures $6.71
DDG's $200/Ton
Margin Negative(-20) cents/Gal

These numbers are interesting but they do not necessarily reflect reality.

Ethanol plants purchase their corn locally not at the Chicago Board of Tade delivery point. The difference is called basis and can be quite substantial. Basis numbers of $0.55 under Delivery points are quite common and larger differences are also known. One of the siting criteria for many ethanol plants was the historic basis at the proposed site. Historically basis is related to transportation costs to the end user.

Having said that the price recieved for the ethanol and the distillers grain are also related to distance from the end users and transportation costs.

In short these numbers you quote are meaningless for any specific ethanol plant and suspect for the industry as a whole. The problem is complex because for each 56 pounds of corn you have to move about 2.8 gallons of ethanol (about 18.6 lb) and about 17 pounds of distillers grain. Transportation costs are related to distance, weight, and mode of transport. The corn is often locally produced and hauled by diesel powered truck, the ethanol is probably consumed at a distance and hauled by rail, while the distillers grain often has a medium (say 100 miles) haul by diesel powered truck. This boils down to being able to say that an ethanol plant close to corn production and distillers grain consumption can be a long distance from the point of ethanol consumption and by using its basis advantage for corn still show a profit even under the numbers you present.


As you probably know, in calculating the energy return for ethanol, the energy inputs allocated to the distillers grain byproduct is generally subtracted from the total ethanol plant energy input, and the remainder is then allocated to the production of ethanol. The manner in which this is done and its legitimacy has been a source of contention and has been argued about many times here at TOD.

Since you appear to know a good deal about the whole corn-to-ethanol chain, I was wondering whether you have any sense as to how the energy input for dry distillers grain compares with the energy input of the normal feed that it displaces. This would be in terms of say BTUs per pound or perhaps BTUs per 1,000 of available calories.

I hope you see where I'm going with this. In my view it is incorrect and misleading to subtract all of the energy allocated to the distillers grain byproduct. Rather the differential in unit energy input between the distillers grain and normal feed should either be added to or subtracted from the total energy input to the ethanol plant. In other words, if distillers grain is more energy-intensive than normal feed, then the ethanol process should be penalized by the difference; but if on the other hand it is less energy-intensive, then the difference should be subtracted. That I think would be a more realistic way of taking into account the distillers grain. But perhaps I am being overly simplistic.


It should go further than that. What is the feed conversion efficiency (FCE) of an animal fed a DGS-based diet vs. a grain-based diet, and does the optimum percentage of substitution of DGS for grain allow for all of the DGS produced by the ethanol industry? My own experience is with fish diets. Typically if you start with a fish-meal based reference catfish diet you can substitute up to 30% of the protein with another source without problem. Beyond that the protein is not balanced, FCE drops, and eventually the fish stop growing and become sick. In other words, the EROEI of the catfish approaches zero.

Moreover, no practical diet is all fish-meal, and the nutritionist is already pushing the limits of protein substitution, using soy, corn-gluten, poultry by-product, etc.. so there just isn't any more room for "junk protein" in the diet.

I would expect that people in the ethanol industry "forget" to talk to nutritionists when making their assumptions, and just assume that the substitution scales. How much the feed industry can really accept probably has a fairly inelastic limit, and is very much related to the other input costs of animal production (like fuel prices!).

half full -

Thanks for you comments. As I suspected, things are not quite as simple as I portrayed. So, I guess in order to put distillers grain and normal animal feed on a more equivalent basis, one would have to take into account the Feed Conversion Efficiency (a term this city boy was heretofore unfamiliar with).

As the distillers grain appears to have some inherent drawbacks as an animal feed, it looks like it's going to take more than one unit weight of the DS to result in the same amount of meat as would have been produced with normal animal feed. This would appear to penalize the ethanol process even further. And should the feedlots within an economical radius of an ethanol plant reach a point of saturation in the amount of DS they can tolerate, then what becomes the final disposition of the DS and the energy accounting thereof?

The energy accounting for the corn-to-ethanol processing reminds me a bit of a company that has several seperate divisions and which tries to make one of the divisions look better than the others by allocating less of the total corporate overhead to it and dumping more of the overhead onto the less favored divisions. Of course, all of this is so sensitive to how and where to draw the envelope for the input/output analysis.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is always there, waiting in the wings to bite you:


"Distillers' Grain In Cattle Feed May Contribute To E. Coli Infection
ScienceDaily (Jan. 22, 2008) — A new study suggests that the addition of dried distillers’ grain, an ethanol by-product, to cattle feed may contribute to the prevalence of E. coli O157 infection in cattle. The researchers from Kansas State University, Manhattan report their findings in the January 2008 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology."

Apologies if this has already been discussed to death before. The point is that the ecosystem is an elegant and exquisitely balanced system of systems, and it would be utter hubris to think we could adequately anticipate the consequences of injecting some large change into it - like drastically changing the feed of millions of cattle.

Nelsone, I saw an article, recently (I'm looking for it but haven't found it yet) that would lead one to believe that, perhaps, there wasn't too much to that story. It is true that a little more e coli was found in the manure of a few cattle that had been fed ddgs; but, there have been no cases of meat being contaminated. This is pretty important when you realize that millions of cattle have been fed the ddgs supplement. I think it would be safe to bet that a lot of people are looking real hard at this.

Thankfully, it doesn't look like it's going to be a very big thing.

I thought that the point was an increased liklihood of infection with undesirable varieties of E. Coli, like the O157 that they mention in the article. Solid animal wastes are composed of huge amounts of bacteria anyway, so the quantity per se isn't the problem.

Ignore kdolliso. If you even breathe one tiny word against ethanol he spams the forums with "facts" that have been disproven over and over and over, and then asserts they must be true because no one can refute him (since he ignores anything that refutes his never-ending faith in ethanol). Well frankly we are tired of his crap.

The Nebraska Cattlemen's Association found that they got 10% Higher Energy Gain with a 30% DDGS ration than when they fed straight corn.


BTW, my thinking on this (and, it's in all of my calcs) is that ALL of the refinery energy inputs should be charged off against the ethanol. I suppose you could charge off some small amount against the ddgs in that they are a more efficient feed than corn, but it's probably an irrelevent number in the larger scheme of things.

I do charge off about 40% of the inputs to making fertilizer, planting, cultivating, and harvesting to the DDGS component.

It's hard to imagine the DDGS market getting saturated for several reasons. 1) Corn ethanol is being capped at 15 Billion Gallons. This leaves plenty of room for DDGS' 30% ration. 2) Many refineries are starting to gear up to remove the oil from the ddgs, thus making it a more suitable feed for other animals, and 3) The "Export" market for DDGS is expanding, rapidly.

The fossil fuel energy input for dried distillers grain is clearly higher than the fossil fuel inputs for plain corn, but to a large extent the two are apples and oranges. To understand and to also reply to the comment by "half full" you have to understand how corn is used and how dried distillers grain is used.

Corn can be used to feed hogs, chickens, turkeys, and cattle. In an animal feed ration corn is deficient in protein so protein must be added to the ration. Traditionally this has been something like soybean oil meal.

Dried distillers grain is high in protein and low in energy compared to corn. At present distillers grain is not often fed to hogs, chickens,or turkeys though there is a lot of research going on in this area. My understanding is that the simple digestive systems of these animals have trouble with the oil contained in the dried distillers grain from dry mill ethanol plants.

Most distillers grain now is fed to ruminants (cows). Currently most suggested rations top out at 30-40% dried distillers grain. At these levels my understanding is that sulfur levels begin to be a problem as well as excess protein in the diet. Research is being done on a feed ration which finishes cattle for market using only distillers grain and corn stalks. If this ration can be perfected it would increase the overall EROI of the system for producing high quality human consumed protein. Currently I hear anecdotally that some people are overwintering beef cows on a ration of dried distillers grain and cornstalks.

The big savings energywise with distillers grain would be not to dry it and to feed it wet. This is sometimes done but the wet distillers grain will not store well(about 1 week). I expect this use to increase as the market matures and infrastructure changes occur.

Probably the big story will be in a change in the relative values for beef, pork, and chicken in the marketplace for consumers. Historical price ratios between these meats may change. This will certainly have an effect on food production EROIs.

I hope this answered your question as the whole subject is complex and interelated.

What are the feed requirements for catfish ?



I should clarify that aquaculture is still a small, though rapidly growing, segment of meat production. I don't know much about cattle, so I will defer to SMN and others and just talk about fish.

FCE is usually stated as ratio of dry diet fed to live animal weight, so if a dry feed is 10% moisture, and the animal is 70% moisture, the actual dry/dry basis conversion is 3x worse than stated. This is before dressing ratio (what's on your plate divided by live weight) is taken into account, and that is about 50% for a large fish.

Fish are champions at feed conversion, because they don't spend energy staying warm (cold blooded) or standing up. The downside is that they require higher protein feeds, and have lower carbohydrate and fiber tolerance. FCE's of greater than 50% are typical for salmonids, and a few years ago it was fashionable in the salmon industry to achieve 140%. This was done by feeding extremely high fat and protein diets, derived almost entirely from anchovy. Salmon are the most fastidious, followed by trout, catfish, tilapia, and grass carp. Carp are the most-cultured fish in the world, and usually are not fed at all, but left to graze on algae, weeds, larvae etc.. Catfish are grown in ponds, and fed a low-fat, medium protein feed, with about 40% FCE.

The trend now (and requirement for further growth of aquaculture) is toward vegetable based diets. This increasingly requires processing of the feedstocks to increase the protein content, balance amino acids, and remove carbohydrates and antinutritional factors. Canola meal, corn gluten (byproduct of corn sugar production) pea protein isolate, soy protein etc.. are combined with animal by-product to make an extruded pellet. The goal is to use whats available most efficiently.

DGS is a new feedstock for aquaculture, and its use is still in the research stage. My feeling is that it will have to be further processed into "DGS protein concentrate" before it can be used in any great amount for trout or catfish. In the meantime I doubt aquaculture will be much considered by producers seeking a market for DGS.

I agree with SMN that there will be a shift in the relative and absolute amounts of meat in our diets. In principal we should be able to extract the carbohydrate from plants for biofuel production, and feed the fat/protein concentrate to the most efficient protein converters, which are fish. This may require a few generations of process refinement though.

Thanks for your reply, and I agree. I am simply trying to get folks to recognize the change from last year. Using the same source the margins then were positive in the $.5 to $1.00 range.

As I have been saying corn prices continue to increase faster than ethanol and margins are becoming marginal.

The price of natural gas has doubled. Corn ethanol prices are subject to diesel and natural gas prices as these were energy inputs into making ethanol, fueling tractors, and creating fertilizer. There is a higher EROEI with using compressed natural gas directly in buses, cabs, and cars. Argentina has been using natural gas instead of gasoline in many of its vehicles. They ought not water down their gasoline with corn ethanol (contains some water due to the nature of the alcohol molecule) that requires huge energy inputs with little net energy output; if any as some argue the ethanol production process actually consumes more energy than it produces. In England they have set up plants to produce ethanol from wheat. In Europe there were laws passed to satisfy EU directives towards creating 10% of all transport fuels from biomass. Europe, Canada, and the U.S.A. were caught in the process of diverting major percentages of crop harvests to low to no energy yield fuel manufacturing processes.

Some of the rapid rises in food costs around the world cannot be blamed on the fall of the dollar or rising energy costs as billions of bushels of corn and soybeans were diverted to biofuels production. Sugar and palm oil was also being diverted to biofuels speeding the deforestation of jungles.

Another UK fuel price protest...

Fuel prices: Bikers protest with motorway go-slow

Up to 500 motorcyclists mounted a slow convoy into Manchester city centre at rush hour this morning to protest at the rising cost of fuel.

The bikers, who were joined by taxi drivers and about 30 lorry drivers, left Birch services on the M62 at 8am and rode slowly down the motorway.

"In terms of congestion, it's always busy round this part of the world, and at times it can be busier than the M25," said the Highways Agency spokesman Neil Sterio. "Traffic has been slowed down, but it hasn't been too different from normal."

Seems like they'll have to wait for a little more demand destruction before a go-slow protest at rush hour has a noticeable impact. I suppose go-slow protests could become even more popular: they make a politcal point whilst boosting fuel economy. ;)

Years ago, I had the opportunity to study the traffic capacity of freeways. It turns out that the maximum capacity of an individual lane of freeway (in the U.S.) occurs when the vehicle speed is around 45 mph. The reason is that the distance between vehicles is less than at higher speeds (on average), thus, the number of vehicles per hour passing any point is a maximum. Of course, in today's world, most people think they are supposed to go faster, thus they tend to crowd the car in front, then must hit the brakes. The chain reaction further back can bring the flow to a stop. Then, the speed for the entire lane tends to drop to around 25 mph. Some locations become choke points, where traffic tends to pile up for no apparent reason. When viewed from the air, it looks like a standing wave with drivers slowing at one end and then speeding up at the other.

Of course, most people have no clue and the politicians want to keep them happy, so more freeway lanes are added to solve the "traffic problem." The lesson is that freeways could carry more vehicles and do so with less energy consumption if people would simply SLOW DOWN! The U.S. should bring back the 55 mph speed limit within commute distance of cities and enforce it as the FIRST STEP to get back to reality.

E. Swanson

On some UK motorways speed limits are variable - they are reduced in periods of congestion (with speed camera enforcement). These actually increase the average speed of traffic in these periods, so the drivers learn to accept and follow the reduced limits.

Yes but you can be 100% sure that a blanket speed reduction will be dismissed as 'stealth tax' and utterly ignored.
Maybe 500 bikers should protest about it by staging a mass 'go-fast' ?
The biggest obstacle to sorting this all out is the steady ratchetting of people's sense of entitlement. 10 years ago we didn't feel entitled to a 40" TV and 2 foreign holidays a year, 30 years ago we didn't feel entitled to 2 cars for every household, 40 years ago we didn't expect central heating, 50 years ago an inside toilet etc etc
People like what they get and you will have a hell of a job weening them off these 'comforts'.

I ran across an article that claims that Ontario is going to spend 17 billion on transportation over the next 15 years. A public consultation site has been set up http://metrolinx.limehouse.com/portal/green_papers/review_green_paper_an...
The final paper to be submitted next month. This is the first I have heard of this. This does not leave much time for opinion but I think it worth while for anyone from the area to look at this site.

In case anyone had any doubts that 'cheap' oil is gone...

Brazilian Oil Finds May Cost $240 Billion to Develop

The total exceeds the $136 billion estimate for Kazakhstan's Kashagan field, led by Eni SpA, and would be enough to fund the U.S. space program for 14 years.

Petrobras, as Rio de Janeiro-based Petroleo Brasileiro is known, already has leased about 80 percent of the world's deepest-drilling offshore rigs and plans to hire 14,000 engineers, geologists and drillers within the next three years, Gabrielli said.

The company announced plans last month to place orders with shipbuilders for 40 new drilling rigs and production platforms that will cost about $30 billion.

From article:

Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based consulting firm headed by Daniel Yergin, said the Tupi-area fields will cost $200 billion to $240 billion. Costs are rising as producers compete for labor and equipment with oil prices above $120 a barrel. Deepwater drilling rigs are renting for more than $600,000 a day in some cases.

Um, we're trusting a dollar estimate from Yergin?

BTW, Oil is trading at $38/barrel. Not.

So... methinks that if he's lowballing it again, might be closer to $1 Trillion.

Any bets?


Like EROEI, a new term should be coined for Energy Expenditures/Size of Economy. The way things are headed, many countries are going to be very poor at the median as an economy spending an increasing % of its money on energy is getting poorer continually, just like a household would be doing the same. The numerous articles touting the miraculous transformation of the USA towards less reliance and use of transportation fuels take pains not to mention the dramatic increase in money spent on these same fuels, money not available for actual investment or spending on items that actually constitute an increase in standard of living. I realize this is all self evident but I guess I am just tired of the USA is adjusting miraculously B/S.

The Rocky Mountain Institute summary article "Forget Nuclear" by Amory B. Lovins, Imran Sheikh, and Alex Markevich is a very good one: http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid467.php It does not extend to solar power but in terms of speed of implementation solar is superior to nuclear power: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2008/01/eroie.html and if this acessment from the Lovins et al. article is correct:

Wall Street is ever more skeptical that nuclear power is as robustly competitive as claimed. Starting with Warren Buffet, who just abandoned a nuclear project because “it does not make economic sense,” the smart money is heading for the exits. The Nuclear Energy Institute is therefore trying to damp down the rosy expectations it created. It now says U.S. nuclear orders will come not in a tidal wave but in two little ripples—a mere 5–8 units coming online in 2015–16, then more if those are on time and within budget. Even that sounds dubious, as many senior energy[ ]industry figures privately agree. In today’s capital market, governments can have only about as many nuclear plants as they can force taxpayers to buy.

then solar is vastly superior to nuclear power.

Thanks to David Martin for linking the gristmill article.


You are welcome, Chris. I always think it important to fully air all sides of a debate, including those I would differ with.

Progress seeks Florida OK to build new reactors | Reuters
Progress seeks Florida OK to build new reactors ... Commission to approve of the need for its proposed $14 billion Levy County, Florida nuclear power plant. ...

Customers will pay monthly increase to build the plant.

Plus $3 billion for the transmission grid.

Levy County might not be the best place to build since half the county may be under water before the plant would be scheduled to close: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Florida_Sea_Level_Risks_png
Source Global Warming Art


Gotta time the sale of the house in Northwest Broward when it is prime oceanfront.

Any ideas when that might be?

Thanks for the pic - seriously.


I suspect that you'd want to sell while property can still get insurance. If it can't then the number of buyers is pretty much limited to those who can buy without borrowing which tends to reduce demand and thus price.

We can likely expect 5 meters by the end of the century if we go with nuclear power at the expense of better methods to reduce CO2 emissions. Going with better methods followed by deliberate sequestration from the atmosphere (possibly using biochar), we may avoid that much sea level rise.


Washington D.C.'s lowest elevation is sea level and areas were impacted by tidal fluctuations. So far as I know there have been no evacuation plans drawn up for global warming.

There is also a problem with river sediment loads that caused the bottom of a river to rise as more mud was dumped when onto the river bottom as swift currents slowed. Eventually rivers meandered and shifted course as the river bottoms were raised above the levels of the surrounding plain. This was observed in flat river plains such as the lower Mississippi River Valley. Geologists studied river sediment transport and the reality of shifting rivers over time. Rivers changing course was an exact science.

If instead you had put solar panels on the roofs in the area, what would be the cost of removing them and installing them somewhere else?
In the illustration you have Miami flooded.
What is the cost of that? How many hundreds or thousands of billions?
If you had a nuclear plant which cost, say, $10bn, then you might have a perimeter of around 4km.
It is at least conceivable that a wall could be built to protect it.
It in not conceivable that any such project could be undertaken for Miami, and the value of property lost would be 100 times as great.
It is surely not legitimate to focus on a universal disaster such as you hypothecate, but only worry about it in relation to an energy source you happen to dislike.
Your concerns would have more credibility if you supported nuclear somewhere else, and took exception to that particular location.
Your argument sounds like any stick to beat a dog when it is considered that you are against nuclear power anywhere at any elevation, and regardless of climate or whether solar energy is available in large quantities in the winter.

The solutions you prefer also suffer from the considerable disadvantage that they do not actually run any large societies anywhere, that it is not currently possible to show in detail how they should do so and that any new system takes many years to ramp up.
In no way is an all renewables future realistic or within the bounds of current engineering.


You forget that I support nuclear power in niche applications. It is in energy applications where nukes don't work. I'm perfectly happy to support nuclear power below sea level as I have often said. It helps enourmously in hiding our arsenal.

You don't see that nuclear power has a planning horizon that is quite extended compared to most other planning activities. For people who are at risk in this situation I would just advise selling the house before it can't be insured. That might not be for thirty years. But for nuclear power, we need to have the site cleaned up before the sea level encroaches, or even storm surge. So, we need to plan out 120 years or so. Thus, 15 meters or more above current sea level makes sense. I don't see why one would anticipate a perimeter if all the customers will have moved in any case.


I hadn't known that you do support nuclear in any applications Chris.
I hope your niche applications include powering Great Britain, as without postulating engineering we don't have or using possibly non-existent coal then with the best will in the world I can't see an alternative - new ideas take 20-40 years to reach mass use, and alternatives are just notions at the moment, on the scale required.
I am well aware that it takes time to build nuclear power, although as I said a lot of that is in planning and licensing which will have to be greatly reduced, and in the situation we will shortly be in will be in it seems likely that they will go by the board.
What in my view is near criminal is that the Labour party has been saying for ten years that we don't need nuclear, and there actual plans minus a bit of messing around with small quantities of renewables was to import non-existent LNG and NG.
They have now decided that the way to go is nuclear, but display no sense of urgency at all.
If anyone can come up with a proper, costed, fully engineered way of running the country which can start to be implemented immediately great.
Off shore at the prices quoted will simply not happen post peak.
Your projections for sea-level rise are at the extreme end of the spectrum, and so until it is accepted by a wider audience, essentially until it becomes the central projection of the IPCC, is not something that those of us who do not closely follow the climate change debate have to make a priority for consideration, and so therefore you need to convince your peers before it comes up as a design criteria.
In any case, the countries with the lowest CO2 emissions are those with the highest inputs of nuclear and hydro.
Germany, which goes as far as anyone in renewables, is much higher.

No offense to people living in Florida, but I'd really love to see that happen in my lifetime.

Damn. Guess I'm going to have to convince the wife to increase the temp on the A/C yet another degree. She accepts a lot about my view of life, but continues to insist on A/C and indoor plumbing.

The Dept. of Energy study shows labor force constraints that make 8 new nukes in a decade the upper limit.

So it makes sense that potential builders thin out the herd to fit resources. And yes, that is what I expected and advocate. Eight new nukes by 2018, and THEN ramp up for a fast build-out as a second wave behind an earlier massive build out of wind, HV DC and pumped storage.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind, and a second wave of new nukes,



You should have a look at the article.

New nuclear power is so costly that shifting a dollar of spending from nuclear to efficiency protects the climate several-fold more than shifting a dollar of spending from coal to nuclear. Indeed, under plausible assumptions, spending a dollar on new nuclear power instead of on efficient use of electricity has a worse climate effect than spending that dollar on new coal power!

Even five reactors are a dangerous and expensive distraction.


A false dichotomy !

We quite easily can, and should, do both. Build eight new nukes, billions in insulation and new windows, install millions of solar hot water heaters and tens of GW (100s GW ?) of wind turbines, etc.

Every new nuke will largely displace coal fired power and some NG fired power.


It looks more like a cost benefit analysis than a false dicotomy. The argument goes that dollars spent on nukes do not displace coal but rather displace technology that would displace coal faster and at less expense. It is very hard to call this a false dicotomy since the analysis is linked through cost and not a dicotomy at all. You would need a way to make nuclear power less expensive to defeat their argument or you would need to find a logical flaw other than the one you propose.


Any realistic scenario for surviving peak oil and global climate change requires maximizing both conservation and alternative fuels, meaning any fuel that isn't oil, coal or natural gas. The hard truth is that the U.S. gets 50% of its electricity from burning coal and you simply aren't going to be able to conserve your way out of that, not in the time frame that is required to reduce climate change.

*edit* Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conservation, and using solar and wind, but there is going to be a limit what you can do with ANY one single alternative to our present situation, the magnitude of the problem is such that you have to both conserve and build nuclear plants. This would be a refreshing change from what we're seeing in the state of Georgia right now, whose energy plans call for two more coal plants and three nuclear plants and no conservation, no wind power, no solar.

The US could easily cut its electricity consumption by half, within perhaps a year's time. If electricity was $1.00/kwh it would be a piece of cake.

People have little conception of how flexible things really are.

I heated with 100% electricity last winter, and used about 1300kwh/month to do so. I'm aiming for half that next winter, with under $1000 of capital expenditures (insulation etc.)

Financially, the savings wouldn't be all that great -- about $100 a month for four months a year. It's mostly a game on my part. But, if electricity was $1.00/kwh, then everybody would be doing the same.

Home heating is one example, but you could apply the same process to just about anything that uses electricity. A notebook computer uses about 20% the energy of a desktop computer, for example. You could just turn the air conditioner off. People lived before air conditioners, you know, in all climates.

You don't even have to do without A/C... Just turn it up to 78, and then turn on a fan! The A/C will remove excess humidity, making it seem cooler with the fan than it really is. :)

One thing you guys aren't counting though is the power that's getting used in your name from manufactured goods, street lights, refrigeration for food, etc. Substantial gains should be possible through conservation in these areas as well though.

Easily half of the electric power used in the US is wasted and could be cut with no diminution in services. There is a cement plant on the Ohio river two miles from where I live, and it is lit up like daytime 24 hours a day. The night sky is so washed out I can't see the stars. And that is true at some level for every gas station, gambling casino and city center in the country.

The hard truth is that the U.S. gets 50% of its electricity from burning coal and you simply aren't going to be able to conserve your way out of that, not in the time frame that is required to reduce climate change.

For reference, the EU-15 average per capita consumption of electricity is 52% of the US's. (Consumption data here, population of the EU-15 here. It's worth noting that the consumption of all energy types is also 52%, same sources.)

Remember, the EU-15 is "old Europe" - Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, etc. - meaning the lower consumption is certainly not from lack of wealth and comfort. It's also fairly climatically diverse - from Finland to Greece - so it's fairly comparable to the US.

Considering that the timeline of climate change is measured in decades, it seems like conservation is very much an option.

The USA economy can easily afford 8 new nukes in a decade without reducing any push for conservation and renewables. And nuke fills a VERY different need (baseload) that solar and wind cannot fill.

I have done modeling, trying to get a non-GHG North American grid without massive increases in rates. -20% total demand despite a shift to heat pumps for heating. The best I got was 90% non-GHG with 28% from nukes and almost 50% from wind.

Let me illustrate Florida. Massive wind in, say, western Oklahoma with HV DC lines to Chattanooga (pumped storage) and Florida in a triangle. Enough nuke in Florida so that surplus is shipped to Chattanooga midnight to 5 AM most nights. Enough Solar + nuke to generate a surplus for storage at solar noon (+ & - 90 minutes from solar noon minimum) even on partially cloudy days.

The rest of the day Florida imports electricity from either "fresh" wind from OK or from storage. Surplus wind also goes into storage.

We NEED new nukes !


Although of course you wouldn't need 100% backup, 50% wind would certainly have substantial needs, aside from long distance DC lines.
I thought you might be interested in this prospective technology, which is much more economical of space than traditional hydro:

As long as the project is large enough to amortize the cost of the main access shaft and underground assembly of a TBM, then the finished reservoir cost could come in under $200 / cubic meter. A reservoir two kilometers below the surface would allow each cubic meter of water to flow through the equivalent of twenty large hydroelectric dams in series. Even if the cost of the finished reservoir were $500 per cubic meter rather than $200, that would still be a capacity cost of under $90 / kWh.

This might be do-able in England too, where hydro sites are restricted. Of course a bright idea is not engineering, so it might be 20 years before we have a fully proved system.
The losses should be way better than CAES though, at least than present types of this.

Unfortunately, in the US it looks to me as though you will be lucky to keep the coal burn to present levels, never mind decreasing it.
In Europe we may not have a choice.

Storage idea:?
Lets isolate the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean. Then use surplus off peak energy to pump Atlantic Ocean water into the Pacific Ocean. Build hydro power plants to utilize the differential between the two oceans to power the turbines? Unlimited storage?

Come on folks, this is tongue-in-cheek! (Until some Government Energy Dept higher-up gets to thinking about it? Big Grin!?

and we can burry the waste in your backyard.

As long as you don't mind the coal slag which is the current, real, as opposed to fantasy, alternative being left in yours - oh, I forgot, it would bury your house.
In a lifetime a person would create of the order of a kilogram of nuclear waste, which France has been dealing with successfully for years.
When are people going to look at the real choices?
We don't know how to engineer an all renewables society, especially in northern Europe. and even the small contributions which things like off-shore wind can make will be at the cost of bankruptcy in a post peak society.
If you don't agree, let's see your detailed, costed proposals, which would have to be rolled out at large scale straight away.
The choices, and we would need heavy conservation whatever we do, are coal, nuclear or getting very cold, cold enough to kill very many people in northern Europe.
We haven't got 20 years to think about it.

I don't find the coal slag to spent nuclear fuel comparison very convincing. What's the half life of the slag? How long does it have to be isolated to prevent radioactive contamination of the environment? Of ground water?

Yes, the damage done by current methods for disposal of coal slag is bad. But the potential damage from mismanaged spent nuclear fuel is far worse.
Generations worse. And it only takes one little mistake to make an entire watershed poison for thousands of years.

I am quite concerned about the long term build-up of mercury in the environment/bio-sphere from burning coal.

Hg has no half-life :-(


While this is an excellent argument for not burning coal. The implied corollary, that using nukes is better, does not follow.

Yes it does.

In some geographic areas, geothermal may be a viable alternative to new nukes, and hydro in a few others.

For example, Dam EVERYTHING in Quebec and Labrador, install as many wind turbines as possible, MASSIVE conservation and the unit of Quebec, Atlantic Provinces and New England (perhaps NY as well) MIGHT get by with existing nukes and renewables. But an extra 4.5 GW (3 new nukes) would make the sums much easier and will have some allowance for dry, or not so windy, years. And fewer new transmission lines with more grid stability/fewer blackouts. Add 12 or so GW of new nukes, and one can certainly include New York and perhaps parts of Pennsylvania in this non-GHG grid.

But for most of the USA the simple choice is nuke or coal (or bet on enough natural gas) or blackouts (see betting on enough NG).


No it doesn't ;-)

Seriously, though. You are again making the assumption that maintaining as high a level of energy consumption as is possible is the only choice.

Don't dam anything. Dams are intensively destructive, not only of the flooded reservoir area, but of entire water systems. Stop all uranium, coal, gas and oil mining. Give up on centralized energy production intended for general use. Wind, solar, and bio-fuels on a localized, application specific basis. Build houses that are adapted to the local climate. Learn how to live in a broader temperature range.

And no, I'm not being facetious. The "solution" I want to see is not defense of energy consumption, but the complete reorganization of energy consumption at a minimalist level.

I have assumed a -20% reduction in electricity even with a shift to heat pumps for most heat and electrified rail (much less demand than EVs).

If one assumes 1) no massive drop in populations 2) Interior winter temps of 48F (10 C) in well insulated homes from heat pumps 3) tepid baths once a week in the winter 3) No new hydro, but new wind etc.

I still think you would need a couple of new new nukes in the Quebec + Atlantic Province + New England (and replacing retired nukes) WITHOUT New York to make a non-GHG grid.

Much below 48 F and indoor plumbing goes away (uneven heating, etc.). I have used an out-door privy in the winter in Kentucky as a young kid (when visiting my grandparents). The thought of doing so further north during a NorEaster "is not an attractive lifestyle". And large apartment blocks (to save on heating) all using communal outdoor privies is also not attractive in the summer time.

No coal, no GHG implies nukes, that is the way that the sums come up. No matter the redirected lifestyles.


At the risk of encouraging antidoomer this looks interesting. Any thoughts?
A consortium of federal laboratories has recognized a compact reactor technology developed by Dr. Otis Peterson of Los Alamos National Laboratory as revolutionary in the areas of homeland security and alternative energy.

The technology recognized is a self-stabilizing nuclear power source invented by Dr. Peterson. It is a compact device capable of generating high levels of thermal power and is self-regulating to a constant temperature of operation.

The thermal stability of the power module is built into the design and is achieved without any mechanical moving parts or other external controls. The constant temperature characteristic allows the device to regulate its output in relation to how much power is drawn so that it can automatically accommodate power production up to its maximum of approximately 10 megawatts of electricity.

The absence of mechanical moving parts should make the reactor nearly maintenance free for months or years. The technology was selected for its timeliness in response to today’s current threats and alternative fuel needs.

Dr. Peterson was recognized for exemplary contribution in his scientific field at the Outstanding Technology Development Awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s Mid-Continent Region at a recent ceremony in Oahu, HI. http://pearl1.lanl.gov/external/Research/peterson_FLC.html

They are hoping to get into production by 2012 - no reason why they shouldn't, AFAIK.
There are quite a lot of other small nuclear designs as well - licensing is what slows everything down.
They are hoping to use these to produce oil from oil sands.
Brian keeps his site updated very well on this sort of technology:
Next Big Future: Updates on Uranium hydride reactor and Bussard fusion

Much below 48 F and indoor plumbing goes away (uneven heating, etc.). I have used an out-door privy in the winter in Kentucky as a young kid (when visiting my grandparents). The thought of doing so further north during a NorEaster "is not an attractive lifestyle". And large apartment blocks (to save on heating) all using communal outdoor privies is also not attractive in the summer time.

Now I think you are getting down to the point. Are we really to continue an (to me, fruitless) effort to maintain energy consumption at a particular level for what you call "attractiveness" - but essentially for a modern view of comfort?

You have centered in here on indoor plumbing (my wife is the same way). And I can't say that I blame you. But is comfort while defecating truly the measure of a society? Of course, there are issues with hygiene that will need to be addressed. But I would rather live in a society that deems other things of more importance than merely physical comfort.

But I would rather live in a society that deems other things of more importance than merely physical comfort

I think an ascetic society that denies basic human comforts is a fate to be struggled AGAINST, a most undesirable outcome.

On a related note, I find one of the weaknesses in American society is the denial of routinely eating good tasting and interesting food. A weakness and a failing, comparable to the Victorian denial of sex in some ways.


The creation of the opposition (or even a continuum) between comfort and asceticism is itself the relic of a rather decadent view of the world.

I am not encouraging asceticism, just discouraging our modern form of decadence. Personally, I relish getting lost in my herb garden. It is (short of playing with my children) the single greatest pleasure I know of.

The American penchant for eating tasteless food is exactly what I'm getting at. Americans eat for volume, not taste. Just like it is more important that we fill our houses with more plasticrap than that we have the joyous experience of building with our own hands the things we really need.

To paraphrase a man I respect;

Here's hoping for more joy in life and less stuff.

All you're arguing is your own elitist sense of self righteous superiority.

But is comfort while defecating truly the measure of a society?

The answer is composting toilets, something none of you seem to have thought about despite all of Bob Shhaw's posts.

Seriously, though. You are again making the assumption that maintaining as high a level of energy consumption as is possible is the only choice.

The ridiculous thing is that you don't see it is the only choice. Energy consumption is only going to go up.

And no, I'm not being facetious. The "solution" I want to see is not defense of energy consumption, but the complete reorganization of energy consumption at a minimalist level.

You're tilting at windmills. Its not the solution most people want, particularly the 3-5 billion that are just starting to climb out of poverty around the globe.

Energy consumption is only going to go up.


Its not the solution most people want, particularly the 3-5 billion that are just starting to climb out of poverty around the globe.

I do not doubt you are correct about peoples desires at present (I won't go into your claim about the numbers climbing out of poverty, because it is wanton self-deception). I never said I expected that world to come into existence. But also recognize that just because people want something, doesn't make it come true.

You went from contesting nuclear power's desirability to its feasability? Are you serious? You honestly believe that nuclear power is incapable of delivering?

I have no idea what you are talking about. As far as I can tell, your comment bears no relation at all to what I said.

A lot of us in Britain probably won't have to worry about the long term damage, as the cold is likely to kill us first.
We have gone a bit past all this theorising now.
Nuclear power provides most of the electricity for a whole society, France, right now.
If you want to provide power some other way, provide costed proposals, and they had better be in an advanced state of engineering readiness, as it takes years, around 40, for new systems to take a substantial proportion of the market.
I repeat, the real alternative in Northern Europe are coal, which in reality is what Germany uses, nuclear, or freezing.
Many are going to die in Britain at least quite certainly, and largely due to those who opposed nuclear power whilst it could still have been introduced in a timely fashion.
All this is with the utmost degree of conservation.

How DID people survive in the British isles before modern heating systems?

Many people are going to die in Britain. You can stop there.

They had coal fires. Many places haven't now, and there is no way of putting a chimney in.
Assuming you had the coal to put on it, of course.
Coal production in Britain was many times greater than now with a much smaller population.
FYI at that time many did indeed die of cold, and cold related illnesses.

BTW, people huddling over coal fires whilst trying to keep out the drafts and hence air lead to many pulmonary diseases, and a higher death rate than directly from the cold.
As a child I remember sitting by the fire, with the front burning and your back freezing, and trying to dry clothes by the fire creating a fire hazard.
All winter everyone had chillblains.
Rheumatism of course caused intense pain for older people.
But all this of course was as nothing compared to not having heating.
Cooking was by town gas, which was made from coal and provided some additional heat in the kitchen.

Try again - your time horizon is too short. The alternatives to a modern post-industrial society may include the return to early industrialism (though I am skeptical), but they are not limited to them. Somewhere in the DB today Woad was introduced - cast your imagination back to the time referenced there. Life did not begin in the isles with the discovery of coal for heating.

What I'm getting at is that while life in a vastly reduced energy consumption regime may not be as physically comfortable as we are used to in the present, it is far from impossible.

In early times they used wood. By the twelfth century with a population of around 3 million that was already inadequate and a lot of coal was burnt.
Any idea that these sources are adequate for 60 million people on 250,000square kilometers is crazy.
Of course more insulation can and should be installed.
The realistic way of heating houses though is from electricity and a heat pump.
Try a nuclear reactor.
There is no need at all to reduce energy consumption beyond sensible conservation efforts if constant obstruction had not put us in this dire position.
The real point though is that the Labour party fantasising about renewables and being entirely inert on insulation means that we are out of time.
We have 24 million homes in this country, of which around 3 million are in the lowest band, F, for insulation, and a further 9 million in band E.
Basically, the wind whistles straight through them.
The hammer will start falling this winter, with rising NG prices meaning that many will simply not be able to afford adequate heating.
We are due another rise before the winter, after rises of up to 70% for low users in the spring.

Any idea that these sources are adequate for 60 million people on 250,000square kilometers is crazy.

This goes back to your idea that "Many are going to die in Britain."

There is no need at all to reduce energy consumption beyond sensible conservation efforts if constant obstruction had not put us in this dire position.

Is this your version of "If I were king of the world I would...."? The reality is that you live in a polity where decisions are made based on values that you don't share. You can blame whomever you like, but it doesn't change that. But then again, it was that same polity who built the "comfortable" life for 60 million. Maybe that wasn't such a great idea either?

Show me how in the time available we are going to provide even minimal power, and please don't say that 60 million of us will use WOOD.
You have actually said absolutely nothing otherwise about where the power is supposed to come from.
Opposing things is fine as long as you are in touch with reality and are prepared with your own costed and practicable alternatives.
As for the part of a polity business, I suppose you think that I should be happy that whilst they have feathered their nest TPTB have taken no steps at all to ensure security of energy supplies, or to encourage conservation, and indeed allowed the utilities to differentially increase power charges most for the lowest users, putting up to 70% on the bills of the poor and anyone who attempts to conserve.

You have actually said absolutely nothing otherwise about where the power is supposed to come from.

Precisely where you are not getting it. NO replacement of the lost power. You are starting with the goal of defending as much of the consumption of energy as you possibly can. Not only do I doubt that will meet with much success, I also don't think it is a desirable goal.

So what is your plan, exactly?
You have 60 million people on a small island which imports most of it's food and now has a huge imported oil and gas bill.
you have an energy infrastructure which is decaying rapidly, and a country which if oil stays at $125 or so will shortly be bankrupt.
Shortages should hit by this winter, and conditions should worsen considerably within 4 years.
I have said repeatedly that even if we conserve as much as we possible can, huge shortages are inevitable.
The housing stock will not provide minimal standards of comfort at even early 50's level, which was tough and deadly to many of its' inhabitants.
So how are you going to provide even minimal food and heat to people?
We know what you are against, now how about showing what you propose, so far your comments about burning coal etc have taken absolutely no account of the vastly increased population in this country.
On those terms, we would not be able to reach the standard of living of the 10th century.
This is simply a recipe for dying.

Dave - I'm very interested in your observations and thoughts about the future in the UK. As you know we have a terrible situation with 11 million solid walled houses and tjhe vast majority of those badly insulated.
We need to spend a great deal on insulation, draught sealing and HRVs ASAP. Cunningly you cannot get any sort of grant or rebate for solid wall insulation. This is utter insanity.
As someone said, insulation is the first fuel.
I too grew up in a non centrally heated house and know what you are talking about - damp, cold and stuffy.
I think that conservation plus nuclear as a stop gap to renewables is the answer. Otherwise people will start stripping forests, burning lumps of coal in their living rooms in a BBQ to keep warm or wrecking the electric grid with resistance heaters.
I'm keeping my options open right now and sticking to gas but have my 5 coal fireplaces intact :)

To be a bit self-referential here is an earlier post of mine on the state of the UK economy:

It's clear from that that even without $125/barrel oil the situation is utterly unsustainable.
In the autumn, I would guess by October, we will have an emergency budget, is the scenario I think likely.
The choice will simply be between hyper-inflation or savage cut backs.
I don't think that the UK has enough weight to finance the hyper-inflation option, unlike the US, so I would expect the cutback option, as money floods out of the country.
Since we pay for most of our imports, to the extent that we do pay for them, with financial services then even at current prices we will not be able to afford anything like current imports, of oil or anything else.
We also import most of our food.
Our ability to pay for gas imports will be severely compromised even before heavy shortages strike.
In competition with Korea and Japan who actually produce something our ability to buy natural gas will be non-existent.
This is in the context of a rapidly deteriorating generating infrastructure.

The price of off-shore wind will be simply unaffordable - it runs at around £10bn per GW of average hourly power generation, not counting connection, back-up and storage.
I suspect a dash for coal, with attempts to re-open pits, but that will probably take even longer than building nuclear reactors.

The Euro is clearly unsustainable, the budget deficit of places like Spain, as far as can be worked out from their figures, are even worse than the UK, and the tourist industry will tank.
Of course these are just my estimates. I would love to be wrong.

FWIW I put together some ideas on conservation here:
They are mostly direct lifts from German practise.

No chimneys in my electric flat.
I am thinking of buying plaster board and battening together with more insulation to build the walls thicker by perhaps two inches.
I reckon bubble foam should provide good insulation on the windows, layered.
It may sound daft but thermal underwear is probably a good bet whilst it is cheap.

davemart- wow, you're a real downer.

We've got the technology to cope, John, in my opinion, or darn near.
The problem is that our financial systems are in collapse at the same time as the external shock hits.
Government in the US and UK is also both incompetent and deeply involved in imperial adventures and Zionist fantasies.

The UK case is pretty well as bad as it gets though in the developed world, with the exception of long flight holiday destinations and countries like the Latin ones with even worse financials.

The US has more resources to bring into play, it is blessed with huge renewables potential and massive agricultural potential.
Under better management it should be a world leader.

France, Norway,and maybe Germany in the west and Chin, Japan and South Korea in the east all have relatively good prospects.

Consideration has convinced me though that people like Gail and memmel are correct in thinking that the financial position will ensure very hard times indeed, although I still differ from Gail in her gradual degradation idea - I hope for a low point and a decisive rebound, driven by cheap and abundant energy from solar and nuclear.

Of course, we may have come terminally unstuck before we get to that.

The problem is that our financial systems are in collapse at the same time as the external shock hits.

the problem with that is SOMEONE will always have money and want to invest in somewhere. if England has the problems you lay out the costs of power will go really high and that will attract investment money to build power plants of some sort. it's all about the ROI. what does it cost and how much will I make?

the problem with that is SOMEONE will always have money and want to invest in somewhere.

Is there any circumstance in which you can imagine the whole machine stopping?

For a human being, we can be cut, lose a limb, deal with viruses, bacterial infections, etc. and bounce back.

But, ultimately, there are many things that can stop the entire human machine from which we can't bounce back.

Wouldn't a sudden devaluation to worthlessness of the currency mean that trading would suddenly become only local with whatever new, locally trusted currency took the place of the national one? That would stop the global economy.

I can see other ways the global economy could come to a halt. Just like the human machine.

The price of off-shore wind will be simply unaffordable - it runs at around £10bn per GW of average hourly power generation

For reference, £10bn corresponds to the net present value of £1.5bn/yr for 20 years. At 8760 hrs/year x 1GW average, that's £170,000/GWh, or £0.17/kWh.

For reference, that's about triple the generation cost of coal and gas at current prices; taking into account fixed admin and overhead, that would make offshore-wind-sourced prices about double those of thermal-sourced electricity.

That's more expensive, certainly, but it's also a fixed price that won't change regardless of how much the price of coal or gas increase, making it an effective hedge against rising fossil fuel costs. It's kind of hyperbole to call it "simply unaffordable".

I mean we might literally be unable to afford to build them.
If we can, rock on!

The plan is for 59.5 million of them to die OR replace (plus grow) the energy base of Britain.

Wrap your brain around that. And that's not a human plan. That's just cold, hard natural selection running.

Tainter notes that civilizations in crisis do one of two things - reorganize at a higher level of complexity ("grow") or reorganize at a lower level of complexity (collapse). Others have built upon Tainter's work and brought forth the notion of catabolic collapse, a stair step style series of collapses, each at a progressively lower complexity level.

Given that energy is a prerequisite for civilization complexity, loss of energy can only mean loss of complexity. Ergo, we either replace (and even probably grow) our energy infrastructure around some new source or we fall flat on our face.

Earlier Dezakin was replying to someone arguing against the "powerdown" position (reorganizing civilization voluntarily at a lower level of complexity).

Seriously, though. You are again making the assumption that maintaining as high a level of energy consumption as is possible is the only choice.

The ridiculous thing is that you don't see it is the only choice. Energy consumption is only going to go up.

And he is completely correct if civilization is going to survive. What Dezakin does not broach is the alternative ending - collapse. Perhaps he thinks it impossible (he's wrong if so because any civilization can collapse) or more likely he thinks it extremely unlikely (an opinion, a very common one, but understandable).

But the two alternatives are collapse and reorganizing at higher levels of complexity. There are no other choices.

P.S. I find the argument that every single human being will voluntarily choose to lower their energy footprint cooperatively to be so utopian that I am just going to ignore it.

P.S. I find the argument that every single human being will voluntarily choose to lower their energy footprint cooperatively to be so utopian that I am just going to ignore it.

Agreed. Being a doomer is a defencible position, although one can argue possibly it involves pointless assumptions, and so is a basically cornucopian position.
I tend toward being a technical cornucopian and doomer in politics.
The hippie alternative seems to merely require changing human nature - not usually something to bet on.

The hippie alternative seems to merely require changing human nature - not usually something to bet on.

Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that you know what "human nature" is. It is such is an unsightly intellectual arrogance to do so. And it's outside your usual style, so I suspect it was more a throw away phrase than anything else.

P.S. I'm with GreyZone in believing that it is utopian to think every one will voluntarily reduce their energy consumption. Then again, there are more ways to get there than "voluntarily."

If the belief in the invariance of human nature is a fault, if it is a fault which most great literary figures and philosophers have had.
Those who felt differently have often been amongst those who, in their attempts to force such change, have caused the greatest harm, from the Bolsheviks to Hitler.
They are often keen on not allowing people to adapt 'voluntarily'

What I try to do is muddle through as best I can in an imperfect world and with the acceptance that even the wise do not know all ends, as Gadalf said.

Without seeking to be personally offensive, I would suggest that getting yourself into a position where you are so certain of outcomes that you conceive it 'inevitable' that technology will fail and the world population crash, and furthermore where this becomes such an idee fixee that in reality no steps are taken to try to save people, even if only for a while, is pretty breathtaking in it's assumption of more than human wisdom.

I would also point out that this kind of thinking has lead in the past to the most gross mistreatment of and waste of life, in fact it exactly parallels Hitler's thinking, for one, as life according to that dogma was a matter of survival of the strong, death was inevitable, and your job as a leader was to ensure that more of your guys survived than the other guys.

So the suffering inflicted was irrelevant.

I will continue to do my very human best without conceiving that I can know all outcomes, but content in trying to retain some humanity in very difficult circumstances.

Just suppose you are wrong, and we could make it through, at a narrow squeak, and put energy into gradually reducing the population and improving the environment?

If your thought had been followed, not only in my judgement would it lead to massive conflict as everyone strove to be amongst the survivors, but would preclude the chance, slim though it might be, of a successful outcome.

Your scheme involves most people dying.
Most people are not going to be attracted to it, or interest themselves further in the thought-processes that led to that.

All you are saying is that 99 out of a hundred in Britain need to die, and you really don't think it advisable to take steps to mitigate that.
That's a pretty lousy plan.

It strives to achieve the worst possible outcome for some incomprehensible reason.
We don't need to do anything to arrive at your end point.

Just give up on humanity and humane behaviour, and go for the battle for individual survival without quarter or mercy. If the people that you currently share the planet with are not worth trying to save, why should anyone bother about future generations?

If the belief in the invariance of human nature is a fault, if it is a fault which most great literary figures and philosophers have had.

What I cautioned about was the belief that you understood what human nature is. I said nothing about "invariance."

On Muddling - you might want to look into a book written in the 1970's called "Muddling toward Frugality" by Warren Johnson. You might find some kinship in his ideas. Interesting book.

As for my relationship to Hitler, I will simply ignore that as a rather poorly deployed rhetorical maneuver not really worthy of you.

What I'm apparently failing to get across I will try to make blunt - your plans for mitigation will do more harm and cause more suffering than doing nothing.

Just give up on humanity and humane behaviour, and go for the battle for individual survival without quarter or mercy. If the people that you currently share the planet with are not worth trying to save, why should anyone bother about future generations?

I'm not sure if this is a willful misreading or what, but I don't understand where this comes from. I have not given up on humanity or humane behavior and I can't see where you draw that from what I've written. Indeed, I believe that it is the current globalist system which has done the "giving up." I do not wish for large numbers of people to die, but that doesn't change the fact that I can not stop that from happening. I also recognize that there are fates worse than death, like continued existence in utter poverty when the meaning of existence is defined by what trinket you might be able to buy tomorrow.

I did not say that I had no plan. I said I had no plan for the 60 million. Nor do I have a plan for the 6+ billion. What I do have a plan for is the people I meet and talk to everyday, for my family, my neighbors, and my community. I'm not interested in "battle for individual survival" any more than I am interested in the survival of the global market economy that defines our current world. What I am interested in is building a meaningful life for as many as are interested in doing the same. It won't be easy. It won't be comfortable. It won't be rich. But it just might make the multitude of deaths to come mean more than just the collapse of a once totalizing system.

P.S. I am enjoying this exchange and hope you are as well.

Please note that I was careful to say that some of these patterns of thought were similar to much of the philosophy which underlay Hitler.
I had hoped I made it sufficiently clear that this was not some facile criticism of yourself personally.
People are a pretty piebald mixture, and someone might have a very harsh philosophy dwelling in the same body as a very kind nature!

I have trouble following you.
At one stage you were saying that I was unrealistic in saying that in the event of expensive and intermittently available power, many would die.
As far as I can see you then accepted that but were arguing that massive deaths were inevitable anyway.

With a massive death rte surely we might as well try to save as many as we can.
Very approximately 1 reactor would provide enough power to keep 1 million people supplied, not with waste energy as at present but not in misery either.
So I would build them (and wind, if we can afford it) as quickly as possible.
Around 17 years is what the French took for a similar level of build.
If that does not work, we have plenty of time for most of us to die and go to burning wood, or whatever is is you are advocating as an energy system!

Apart from conservation and renewables, both of which I support as well, I am unclear as to what you think we should do to supply energy for the 60million we actually have, as against the 600,000 or so that could be supported by burning wood.

I think what is good about this exchange is that both of us are trying to keep the tone respectful, even though our views seem to diverge widely.

With a massive death rate surely we might as well try to save as many as we can.

I think this is where we diverge. I see the coming surge in the death rate as unfortunate and something to be mourned, but not necessarily what should motivate our actions.

While your plan for mitigation may indeed save people from an early death, the question is what kind of life are you saving them for?

I'll take that pensioner you mentioned elsewhere, the one with arthritis who stays in bed late to save on heating. Double that desperation. S/he only leaves the house to beg for food every other day. Triple the desperation. The monthly pension from the government is reduced by 75%. And so on. Is this a life worth living? Do we really want to save lives at this cost?

My problem with nuclear energy has little to do with the technology. It has to do with the politics and economic system surrounding it. If I thought that we could be responsible in our handling of the waste, I would be more supportive. Though even at that I am not certain that I favor the centralized production of electricity given the way our economic system works (and I know all the free market faithful will despise me for that comment).

I'm no starry eyed utopian. I recognize that even my preferred scenario is going to be a hard and shorter life. My hope, though, is that those lives will be more meaningful. The transition is going to be ugly no matter what we do.

But if we can find a way for people to have access to adequate nutrition supplemented with quality "treats" (e.g. local fruit, sea food specialties), if we can provide them with shelter that reflects the needs of the local environment rather than the created needs of people who live between 62 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit, and if we can do a reasonable job of maintaining hygiene standards and herbal based healing systems, we will have a start. And if we can then add to that the creation of systems of meaning that value the sort of life we will be living rather than lamenting the loss of the growth worship of the modern world, then we will be successful. All of this, I believe, could be done on wind energy, passive solar and local application of bio-fuels. And we can do this and still expect that a child born into that world will see his/her 70th birthday.

Albeit, this is only possible at a much lower population levels. The population levels (and density) we have now are the products of the political/economic system we have now. As are the expectations that we will have 24/7 electrical access, etc. As I said, the transition will be ugly, but probably not any worse than trying to maintain the modern system.

While there is life there is hope.
- Cicero

What more really needs to be said?

As one of the 99/100th I find my choices fairly clear cut.
On the other hand from the stark alternatives you offer we could build some more nuclear power,which some might feel is preferable to mass death.
If I am going to die I also have a personnel preference for nor freezing.

But the two alternatives are collapse and reorganizing at higher levels of complexity. There are no other choices.

P.S. I find the argument that every single human being will voluntarily choose to lower their energy footprint cooperatively to be so utopian that I am just going to ignore it.

You've missed an option: involuntary lowering of energy consumption without collapse. It's called "high prices", and it's what made US total energy consumption in 1983 lower than in 1973.

The assumption that "less energy = collapse" utterly ignores historical evidence. The 20th century saw the US endure long-term energy consumption declines twice during times of high effective prices (30's and 70's), and that's not even considering consumer restrictions during WWII.

If you want to argue that "this time it's different", you'll have to back that up with evidence. As it is, history says that not only is it possible for a society to lower its energy consumption in times of shortage, it's expected.

Before you can ask "what is your plan," you have to ask "what do you want to accomplish.

This is really what I've been trying to get at with you today. You have already made certain assumptions about what you think needs to be accomplished and all of your "plans" are then built from there. (In project management this is called scope definition.)

You said earlier that lots of people will die in Britain. The truth is lots of people are going to die worldwide. It might be possible to prevent some of those deaths, this is true. But what you need to ask is what is the cost to future generations of preventing those deaths? Are you condemning the survivors to life not worth living? Is it possible that the lives of people three generations after me would be significantly improved (and will ignore right now how that would be measured) if we do not act to save as many as possible?

Here it is worded more bluntly for your 60 million - suppose that you get them through this particular energy crunch through herculean austerity programs, further destruction of the environment and the continual hold out of the "dream" of wealth creation. Three generations from now how many more than 60 million will you have? Will they be growing their own food then? How much more expensive will that food be without petrochemical based agriculture? Will they be anymore energy rich than they are now? And perhaps even worse, will there lives mean anything more to them than being consumers of increasingly expensive goods (meaning they are increasingly poor by the definitions of their own society)? And will they have found any other more meaningful way of measuring the worth of their life than the size of their paycheck the monetary value of their house?

No, I don't have a plan for the 60 million. That may seem cruel hearted. But, in reality, I believe your plan to be crueler.

Sop your plan is that you resign yourself to most people dying.
And you don;t like nuclear reactors because you think they are dangerous.
Now that that is clear I don't think many will linger to consider your thoughts further.

We are all going to die - the only question is when.

If we accept 60M is not sustainable in the UK there are two options - either net emigration or the death rate rising above the birth rate (or both). Assuming that the birth rate is unlikely to fall much more (it is human nature for the birth rate to rise disproportionately in times of
high childhood mortality) we must see a higher death rate. The question is the time frame. A steady decline over say 50 years, or a catastrophic collapse like the black death? They will have very different impacts on society, but in the grand scheme of things which is worse?

The the world as a whole, net emigration is never going to be an option :(

Coal fires. However almost all the coal mines are now closed.

they had better be in an advanced state of engineering readiness, as it takes years, around 40, for new systems to take a substantial proportion of the market.

Distributed, micro-power doesn't. All this BS about nuclear. Funded how? Blah, blah, blah. People are already backing off the claims of just a few weeks ago because prices are going up to 12 billion per. Water is a problem in many areas of the globe. Etc.

how much did the fellow at the IEA say? How many tens of trillions? Yet, the entire US could be shunted to micro-power in a matter of years for between 1 and 3 trillion.

I don't mind people supporting their own favorite way to do things, but when it is with a myopic eye, it's irritating.

Windmills: hundreds of dollars. Solar ovens: tens of dollars. Home water pump system: maybe hundreds of dollars. Home-made solar with bottles/cans what have you, tens of dollars. Home-made solar, maybe hundreds of dollars.

The more industrious of us could set ourselves up pretty well with 1,000 or less. The all-thumbs among us can employ the industrious. Like they say, the most important thing in business is location, location, location.










Local solutions.



When someone comes out with a costed set of proposals fro running an economy solely on renewables then there is a basis for discussion.
Until they do they remain entirely unfounded on reality.
I would support every measure you do, but in addition would use nuclear power, which has the considerable advantage that it actually provides the vast majority of the electricity for an advanced economy, whereas the so-called renewables alternative runs zilch.
In addition to those factors, you pile on the total impracticality of those original proposals a micro generation bias.
People do not build wind turbines several hundred feet high for the fun of it, they do it because it is much cheaper and more efficient.
Until you actually look at some real figures there is nothing to discuss, as what you are suggesting does not intersect with reality in any way.
If you think that, for instance, 60 million people in Britain can survive with back-yard windturbines etc then you are entirely mistaken.
Micro-generation and so on may make some contribution at the margin.
It is by no means adequate to full fill the role you wish to assign to it, as the most cursory examination of realistic figures would show you were you to look.

I don't find the coal slag to spent nuclear fuel comparison very convincing. What's the half life of the slag? How long does it have to be isolated to prevent radioactive contamination of the environment? Of ground water?

You're seriously comparing the entirely internalized waste thats sealed in steel and concrete to the fly ash thats dumped into the air and water?

No, clearly it's much worse. And that's why I made the point.

(and yes, I recognize that you have the opposite view)

What's the half life of the slag?

The 1/2 life of heavy metals might just well be the end of the cosmos.

And it only takes one little mistake to make an entire watershed poison for thousands of years.

Yes, and this is why fission power needs special laws to protect it from the "free market" thing people like talking about.

Yes, and this is why fission power needs special laws to protect it from the "free market" thing people like talking about.

And this is precisely why I am oppossed to developing nuclear energy any further. Not, because it can't be done safely, but because we do not have the political will to do so.

Dave, I was with you until you said that "kilogram" BS.
You know as well as anyone here that the overwhelming majority of the waste, high-, medium-, and low-level, isn't the fuel.
So let's be honest about all the contamination, to structures, to the containment, and to the environment, hokay?

Perhaps I should have said high level, but there was certainly no intention to mislead.
All industries produce some waste, but in the case of low-level radioactivity the answer is usually just to leave itr in place or nearly in storage and let it decay.
No-one suggest that we should discontinue medicine because it produces a lot of low level radioactive waste, usually disposed of a lot more casually than the nuclear industry proper, but everything in the nuclear industry is blown entirely out of proportion so that it becomes another reason why the industry should be abandoned.
Contamination to the environment is trivial compared to the proven killer, coal.
I am talking about real options here, not the tiny contributions from renewables.
I was talking about high level waste as that is usually what concerns people.
It should be noted in that regard that France ensures that all it's high level waste is kept accessible, as it is a valuable source of future fuel should uranium prices rise.
Anyway, I am done defending the nuclear industry, if anyone doesn't like it they can tell me whether they prefer coal, which is the real alternative and what the Germans use in practise, nuclear, or not having power - and in any event we will need all the conservation we can get.
No-one knows how to run a whole society on renewables, nor are there any examples even on the scale of, day, New Zealand with it's low population and fine resources.
We need answers now, and the only proven alternative is nuclear.
We should be all means use wind and solar and anything else which is at all economical and appropriate, but there is simply no way to run everything on them, and they will take many, many years to ramp up no matter how hard we try.
So let's be honest about the real scale of the problem and the readiness of different technologies, okay?

A 100% renewable grid for New Zealand is easy.

Do not renew aluminum smelter in south.

For future growth, plenty of geothermal, wind and some small hydro (perhaps a bit of solar PV on North Island if prices come down).


Thank you for injecting the much-needed sense of urgency. I agree that we MUST have a crash program for nuke power, though I say so through clenched teeth.
This crisis was allowed to develop over several decades by all of us, even the peak-aware activists, through sins of both commission and omission, and now we have nowhere else to realistically turn to but conventional nukes.
There will be hell to pay, but it'll be our kids' and grandkids' responsibility. Meanwhile, do any of us believe that we as a civilization will collectively wake up and change our direction? And that's the crux: Any extra time we borrow will be used to keep the TV's on, to keep the babies popping out, and to keep piling the trash ever higher.
Until there are no more crash programs, no alternatives, no mitigations. What is the sound of a paradigm shifting without a clutch?

AFAIK the risks of nuclear are vastly exaggerated. According to WHO the casualties of even Chernobyl were fairly light, although it should be said that Greenpeace thought otherwise, but OTOH the day they say anything good about nuclear power I will eat the report.
If we look at what the Russians did, they operated in about as foolish a way as is possible.
They did not say that there reactor had blown, so people were wandering around picking up maximum radiation - if they simply stayed indoors exposure would have been vastly reduced.
They did not give the kids immediate iodine tablets, which again reduces problems vastly.
What they have done is evacuated the area for many years, which is pretty weird when you think that Hiroshima was occupied directly after the bomb and is now a thriving city,as it has been for many years.
The biggest factor though is that Chernobyl had no containment vessel.
No one builds reactors like that now, and the one at Three Mile Island did it's job and there were no fatalities.

Most of the shock horror stories like leaks from the Japanese earthquakes don't tell you how tiny these leaks are.
Any industrial chemical complex can have leaks and they can be just as dangerous.
They just don't get so blown out of proportion.

Nuclear is many many times safer than coal, and indeed save for construction and mining the Western civil program has no fatalities at all, which is a remarkable record.

We have designs at an advanced state which will burn fuel much more efficiently and can't even theoretically blow up.
Here is one:
Next Big Future: thorium
BTW, variants on common reactors can burn up the 'waste' from reactors.
Previous designs were chosen much more because they produced weapons grade materials, and are by no means optimised for waste reduction or the production of power.

So I don't find this alternative gloomy.

Having said that I would not trust the British government with a shopping trolley, and I am desperately hoping they just pass the keys to the French and ask them to take over.

The best argument though, above all in Northerly Europe, is there is no way at all that there are any realistic plans to provide any reasonable amount of energy without it, and the idea of an all renewable grid is for the moment just a theory.

Even if there were such a plan, deploying it would take far longer than we have.
At least in Britain a lot of suffering will happen before we can deploy a reasonable amount of energy though - this is now unavoidable after the amount of time that has been wasted.


If you read the article, nukes only make sense as a luxury, not as a need. In a necessity driven scheme such as we often discuss here, they can't be afforded.


I heard Amory Lovins speak in DC and he is an extremely impractical techno-cornucopian. Yes, he is a techno-cornuopian who hates nukes, but he is so impractical that I no longer waste my time reading him.

But at your request I downloaded it and wasted my time.

Nuclear power *IS* essential as *PART* of the solution.,

Wind is here and economic and should be our biggest thrust, same for solar hot water heating (on a smaller scale). Solar PV is slowly coming on and will get a few % of the non-GHG grid.

BUT nuke replaces coal for nighttime base load. Solar cannot do this and wind cannot do it reliably, especially in the summer.

NUKE IS REQUIRED, not "a luxury", even if we have to massively subsidize it (I do not think we will).

Nuke need not be even half the solution, BUT it is a REQUIRED PART !


BTW, this position is consistent with my earlier Rush to Widn vs, Rush to Nuke debates with DaveMart. LevinK and others. I know the faults and history of nuke better than most here.

I agree 100% the only thing I'd like to add is we need nukes and hydro electric coupled to PV production yesterday. Load balancing can be solved but nukes should be used yesterday to massively increase the PV panel production. Short term coal fired plants could be forced to redirect 10% of electrical production into new PV plants. Installation of PV on all rooftops with exposure should be mandatory.

BTW, this position is consistent with my earlier Rush to Widn vs, Rush to Nuke debates with DaveMart. LevinK and others. I know the faults and history of nuke better than most here.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out here that the conclusion was pretty much that we should rush to everything as fast as we possible can, with some minor disagreements on what was likely to be affordable or feasible in different locations.
In practise though, present actions would be identical, as certainly in the States wind power, for instance, could be expanded as fast as possible before any possible issues of back-up and intermittency hit.
We should build as much wind power in Britain as is feasible but since the UK is about to go through the financial wringer, probably by this winter,I doubt that we will have the money to build off-shore where the costs are much greater than ashore.
In any case, whatever we can build should be built.
It can't be over-emphasised how severe the test is of oil running short - it has powered our civilisation.
Natural gas is also running low, so the notion that we can pick and choose which of the low-carbon alternatives we use seems to me a relic of the post-peak days of plenty.

I heard Amory Lovins speak in DC and he is an extremely impractical techno-cornucopian. Yes, he is a techno-cornuopian who hates nukes, but he is so impractical that I no longer waste my time reading him.

I'm almost at that point, too, but he does raise some good issues to ponder and thus adds to the discussion, I think.

Probably the biggest drawback of all his plans, which is not unique to him, is that he presumes business as usual as the context.

Lester Brown did that in a talk in San Francisco a few months ago, too. What's confusing to me about Lester is that he is well aware of peak oil as he discusses it often enough but then comes up with non-sensical plans to combat climate change (a worth goal, in my view) that do not incorporate peak oil into the carbon emission projections he uses.

Many climate change people have their foot nailed to the floor and are finding it difficult to incorporate peak oil into their thinking.


Base load isn't if it is the most expensive form of generation. Remember that your treatment of uncertainties in your models means that they can not have predictive power into the region that actually matters. Thus, you do not have a way to figure out what the grid will actually look like. I would suggest again that you start with some outcomes, such as 70% solar in 2050 and work backwards. This will give much more useful results that saying: my models show this but they blow up in less than a decade.

Try assuming that 85% of the solar installed will cost $0.30/Watt or less and you'll see that personal transportation, for example, will end up being a larger part of the transporation mix than you think. In such a situation, nuclear power just looks really stupid. As the Lovins et al. article shows, it looks stupid with even less generous assumptions for wind.

I don't see an argument that you've made to the contrary that holds up. Saying Lovins is not to your taste does not really do it.


Even if solar were free (but limited in volume so that you never threw away more than twice the generation), solar PV could not get 70% of the grid.

Florida has good sun (even in winter), no geothermal, no hydro, limited biomass/population and very limited local wind.

A no nuke strategy would not work. After dark 100% of the power would have to come in via HV DC (Major grid stability issues) to match max load (winter freeze, summer VERY hot day as dusk approaches) and enough pumped storage to power the entire state ALL night long.

Winter sun should be less than half summer sun (see a few cloudy days in a row) and wind is higher in the winter, but low sun. low Texas/OK wind and cold could easily coincide for a few days.

I am pushing the edge of the envelope with my proposed HV DC and pumped storage, taking away nukes (even IF they are higher cost/MWh, which I doubt) makes it quite unrealistic/impossible.

Florida non-GHG grid ONLY works with nukes at about 125%-133% of baseload. And nuke plus solar PV at solar noon above load then (perhaps = to 120% of 6 PM peak load).



You might be able to do something with those underwater gulf stream generators they are looking at, but it is such early days that it's practicality, let alone cost effectiveness, is totally up in the air.
It would be a minimum of 20-30 years before they could be deployed in numbers.

Rick Driscoll, director of Florida Atlantic University's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology (CEOET), and his colleagues are hard at work developing a device that could allow his state to procure up to a third of its energy needs by tapping into the Gulf Stream's energy-dense waters. A field of underwater turbines moored 1,000 ft below the surface in the center of the Gulf Stream could - by drawing from its 8 billion gallons per minute flow rate - provide as much energy as several nuclear plants.

This would only be useful for some areas, obviously, - that is the thing about renewables, they are so specific to a location, and not susceptible to broad brush solutions.

Personally I think that the way to seriously ramp nuclear is with small factory built reactors.
The Japanese might go in this direction, and most of the remaining issues AFAIK are mainly regulatory and licensing
Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor

When the cost of high oil really hits this would seem an obvious way to go, and Japan will be under great pressure to do so.
Deployment could be very fast indeed with these, one would think.


If you back off on personal transport a little, then the storage needed to handle a majority solar grid is ready to hand. So, night time is covered. The pieces won't fit together for you because you are trying to work forward but end up in deadends because of your treatment of uncertainties. No HVDC and no nukes is going to be much much cheaper. Again, I urge you to take a range of 2050 scenarios and work backwards rather than trying to propagate uncertainites forward. You are not in a position to say that a 70% solar grid can't work because you have to pass through your reurbanization and rail thing. But, cheap solar (and wind) means that your energy restrictions likely won't occur for long enough to actually get everyone to move. So, you need to include a huge amount of available battery storage (half a day or more of total energy consumption) which does not even come into your model because you've cut out the possibility.

Lovins' look at things is much more reasonable because of the use of realistic pricing. The only way you'll get those nukes is with loan guarantees and, at some point, we are not going to be willing to extend the credit.

You can examine seasonal US solar data here: http://www.nrel.gov/gis/solar.html

If you look at Florida in January http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/us_pv_january_may2004.jpg you'll see that multiplying by 1.2 gets you June http://www.nrel.gov/gis/images/us_pv_june_may2004.jpg which is much less than two so you might want to explore the resource a little more closely so that you are using accurate assumptions there.


Chemical battery storage for an entire state from dusk to dawn is a non-starter ! Simply not possible/feasible !

Think freezing weather, think geothermal heat pump, think a couple of thousand watts for most of the night (almost 15 hours long), think tens of thousands in batteries for one home ($100,000+?) And then enough sunlight during a 9 hour cloudy day to recharge the batteries ?

And your table is for an ideal location (south latitude tilt), east or west facing solar PV would see much more seasonal variance.

Today, the day is precisely 14 hours long in New Orleans, at solstice it should be another 15 minutes longer (from memory) at 30 degrees latitude (same as northern Florida). Inverse for Dec. 21 would be a 9 hour 45 minute day.

This implies enough battery power for 15+ hours (minimum (solar radiation at dawn and dusk is minimal).

The sun rises higher in the summer and radiation is much more intense @ solar noon in the summer (at cloud tops anyway).



Seems to show more of a 1/3rd or so reduction from June to December. I can only assume that increased cloudiness and haze in the summer reduces the seasonal delta.

Bottom line, Solar PV, even if free, is not enough by itself to economically power an entire state. Nice supplement, but no more than that in anything approaching today's society.



I thought you had taken the time to read this: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/08/roof-pitch.html

If not, please do. The model is certainly not to have batteries in homes so far. These would be utility controlled batteries. They are low cost for the grid because they are manufactured for another purpose: personal transportation.

You say personal transportation is impossible and so you are stuck in the position of claiming a need to spend a lot of money on storage. But, this is not the case with very cheap energy such as solar will provide.

I also think that you have not thought very hard about what at 70% solar grid would look like. Portions would certainly be run on Sabatier reaction sourced methane since we have a substantial gas infrastructure now. This is clearly adequate to handle seasonal variations while you are still worrying about durinal variations.

The main thing I'd like you to try to do is to consider the possibility that the average cost of power in 2050 will be $0.02/kWh or less owing to solar power. How would that affect your conclusions about suburbs and trains and all that? My guess is that you'll see that we'll make only a freight transition but not a reurbanization transition.


A no nuke strategy would not work.

Sure it would. Wind/solar/hydro could provide baseload power at 20c/kWh with today's technology and prices, based on running a model on a year's worth of hourly wind and solar irradiance data.

enough pumped storage to power the entire state ALL night long.

The Hoover Dam already stores more than that. Pumped storage is actually quite a bit cheaper than the turbines that would be needed to generate power from it - one estimate I've seen was $10/kWh vs. $1000/kW.

That's not to say nuclear plants are a bad idea; quite the opposite - diversification of energy sources is wise, and nuclear is a cost-effective method for 24/7 baseload. I'm just pointing out that it's not actually necessary, at least in the longer term.

Hoover produces 2 GW, Florida summer peak is 45 GW and winter peak is 44 GW (2004). Summer peak was likely in daylight hours, but not the winter peak.

Much more than water is required. Massive tunnels and turbines and multi-pole generators. 45 GW is about equal to the existing pumped storage of the world.

Finding a place to site that much pumped storage ...

8 or 10 GW of pumped storage in the Chattanooga area (with enough water to run for, say, 60 hours continuous) would consume all identified sites. Georgia, Alabama, etc. would want some pumped storage as well.

Wind/solar/hydro could provide baseload power at 20c/kWh with today's technology and prices, based on running a model on a year's worth of hourly wind and solar irradiance data.

Florida has trivial hydro (some in the panhandle, but very little) and not much potential either.

Except for the Keys (hurricane risk) Florida does not show up as having any worthwhile wind areas, and the Keys are not big.

Local solar, zero nukes, and 44 GW (-20% > 35 GW) of HV DC lines to import power from wherever wind is blowing (Texas & Oklahoma closest with massive amounts of good wind), or pumped storage (see above for constraints).

It is a heroic assumption (but doable IMHO) to assume that Florida might import 8 or 10 GW from as far away as Manitoba (linked HV DC lines)if that is all that is available ATM (plus pumped storage).

So a conserved Florida has a winter peak of 35 GW at night. 10 GW from pumped storage near Chattanooga, up to 10 GW imported from Oklahoma (direct wind or linked to others, including Manitoba hydro & wind), 3 GW from "other" (biomass, East Coast wind in surplus, etc.) and, say, 21 GW of nuke with a FF backup of a dozen or so GW if things get tight.

Florida would be one of the most nuke dependent states, IMHO.

Subtract the nuke and look at just how much wind Texas et al can possibly install (remember local demand plus demand from low wind states like LA, AR, MS, AL, GA) (plus grid stability issues with 100% imported HV DC power).


Massive wind in, say, western Oklahoma with HV DC lines to Chattanooga (pumped storage) and Florida in a triangle. Enough nuke in Florida so that surplus is shipped to Chattanooga midnight to 5 AM most nights. Enough Solar + nuke to generate a surplus for storage at solar noon (+ & - 90 minutes from solar noon minimum) even on partially cloudy days.

And this infrastructure isn't free, or cheap. Wind is affordable now with the massive amount of dispatchable fossil power avaliable, but once you have to start building excess infrastructure for intermittent supply, the game changes.

Please note that nukes are over-built as well in this Florida scenario. Excess nuke power above baseload is sent to pumped storage from 2400 to 0500.


As I have said, the idea that all this power must come from Big Economy is BS. People can, and are, building solar panels, windmills, etc., for hundreds of dollars. If the conversion to renewable is not to a significant degree localized, it will be far too little and far too late for many, many, many people.

Just 1,000 per household would take a lot of load of the grid. Bump it to 10,000 and you could get a very, very large percentage of the country off-grid in a matter of a few years. This would cost a little over 1 trillion+, but that's around 1/5 the cost of all-nuclear, for example.

An additional advantage is greater autonomy for individuals, communities and states, possibly helping lead to a sea change in our political system.

Think big by thinking small.


In my view, we're not able to responsibly deal with the current nuclear plants during Energy Descent.

I think it's unwise to build more of them that we won't have the energy or money to decommission safely.




New nuclear power is so costly that shifting a dollar of spending from nuclear to efficiency protects the climate several-fold more than shifting a dollar of spending from coal to nuclear. Indeed, under plausible assumptions, spending a dollar on new nuclear power instead of on efficient use of electricity has a worse climate effect than spending that dollar on new coal power!

By that reasoning old tech, in the form of the wool sweater and dare we consider wooly long johns, would trump even that electrical efficiency'.

Also, while I realize woad is out of style, I really think it should be revisited as not only fashion but as a statement in ecological/political correctness. Opinions about energy should, IMO, not be listened to and especially not acted on, unless the speaker indicated his dedication and seriousness to the problem by being first attired in woad. Remember, guys and gals, we are using more energy, FF or alternate, than this planet can handle, so let's be careful or we won't even have trees left to hide blue bottoms in.

I won't go on to talk about considering woad as a population control measure here, as it is a possibly disturbing prospect to the unprepared western mind and I think for many die-off would be be a preferable consideration.

Perhaps we should treat imported oil the way that the devil's dye, indigo, was treated: Ban the import of the pernicious, deceitful and corrosive substance.


I reckon a lot can be done before 2018 with solar for peak - if you look at the link I gave upthread where I posted several stories including the nuclear ones, then you will see a link to falling prices for solar.
Demand is heavily dependent on German and Japanese subsidies at the moment, and there is no-one else on the market likely to subsidise to that extent, so it should be a buyer's market.
Here is the supply position from the same link:

The current global production capacity for silicon and thin-film panels is around 3.14 gigawatts, but will hit 12.36 gigawatts in 2010. That's an increase of just under 400%, an enormous amount that is sure to be welcomed by the environmental community.The demand, however, is only expected to be 6.76 gigawatts, up from 2.94 gigawatts in 2007, leaving over 5 gigawatts of unused capacity.


Of course, you have to knock the nameplate capacity down quite a way to get an average hourly output figure, so we might be talking of 2-3GW of hourly average output in good climates.
With a bit of luck by 2015 or 2018 we should be talking about a really serious annual addition to capacity, which if we don't get fancy and use it for what it is ideal for, peak power locally produced and not needing long distance transmission would make an ideal complement for nuclear for base load, or solar thermal or geothermal if either can be got working at any reasonable cost.
We are going to need everything we have got, being built out as fast as we can manage, as one of the biggest resources, oil, is rapidly declining and gas is looking shaky.
With a real push America could perhaps triple the build in the second decade of new nuclear construction, and solar's share might be as much again, as might wind, so we could be looking at at least 9GW of average hourly capacity being added a year.
This is less than 1% of present US electricity generating capacity, let alone natural gas burn and fuels for transportation, so it is obvious that even then conservation would be vital, and expansion of build would need to go ahead as fast as possible for many years, say to at least 50GW or so per year.
Whatever we do we are in a hole, but the US is much more favourably placed than most.

The "everything we have got" argument misses the point of the Lovins et al. article: If there is such a crisis that you might say such a thing, then you really need to go with the best that you've got because the worst is a drag in the best and defeats the purpose. The UK is better off retraining a fully trained and qualified nuclear engineer to work in offshore wind than to even consider a single new nuclear power plant. Cutting losses on nuclear power can only help in meeting an energy crisis since it frees up resources that can be better used.


Chris, I support solar and wind in the States.
The costs of off-shore wind are quite staggering though.
The latest estimates come out to about £99bn for 33GW nameplate, around 10GW average hourly output, and that does not include connection or backup.
I accept that nuclear costs have also risen greatly, but they are a fraction of that.
The fact remains whatever you might feel about hidden costs that France and to a large degree Sweden both run the electricity for an advanced industrial economy with nuclear power, and provide lower rates than countries such as Germany who plonk a bit of renewables on top of what is in practise a coal burn.
What you have at the moment is a theory, and we simply have not get the engineering expertise for an all renewable alternative.
Where are the costings? What would be the ramp up period?
For the actual build it takes around four years for a nuclear reactor, the rest is imposed overhead from the planning system.
In the UK we generate around 75GW peak, and are loosing 25GW in the next few years.
That does not include the fact that most of our heating comes from natural gas.
We have let hypothetical fears and hypothetical costs prevent us getting on and building what we know how to do for years.
People are actually going to die of cold here, and further obstruction is surely too much - massive additional amounts of CO2 have already been released compared to what could have been done if we had the same proportion of our power generated by nuclear as France.
No one now has time anymore to mess around with obstructionism.
We need everything we have.

UK cannot have the same % nuke as France, it will not work.

France exports late night nuke power to Switzerland (they hold back hydro), Luxembourg (1 GW pumped storage), Italy, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain.

The UK could export surplus late night nuke to France (!) and Ireland.


By the time we get up to anything like the same proportion the energy situation will have changed.
If FF are very expensive, then a lot of the current generation will not take place.
We will also need to replace not just the electricity, but the natural gas and the transport.
If we can back up wind with hydro, why not nuclear?
It would help to solve the peaking problem.
If we get to that stage, which is a big ask anyway, then TOU metering perhaps to charge EV's would help.
In practise we will just have to build as much as we can as fast as we can for the foreseeable future, and the most rigorous conservation will not avoid great suffering.
I would imagine that some coal plants will also be built, although that takes about as long as nuclear it is cheaper, at any rate until coal goes through the roof, so opposition to nuclear power as well as having increased GW to date will probably do so for the future too.

Well, you could simply build more capacity than you need and dump surplus into giant resistors until variable demand consumers realized they were giving energy away as long as they never got to decide when they would get it.

What if it's already too late?

It might stop some of us freezing to death, if we get on with it.
Negativity and fantastic assertions are already going to kill large numbers of Brits, aside from the damage already done to the climate, so perhaps it would be a good idea to to try our best to make something we actually know how to do work.
You think we should just fold our hands and give up?

What about a Government program to convince immigrants from warm climates to immigrate back to them before the "Big Freeze" starts to kick in. By reducing the total population you would be in a much better position to reach sustainable levels of energy useage, be much more able to supply a larger portion of the food supply from locally grown and most likely significantly reduce the probable riots and destruction when energy and food get really scarce?

"too late" is not a digital "yes or no" point for societies, but a graduation.

We are far past "too late" for an optimal response (Jimmy Carter probably got it about right for that), but not to late for "better than it would otherwise be".

Best Hopes for SOME mitigation,


Seems to me that any measure of "too late" is making the assumption that we want to save as much of the current level of energy use as is possible.

I would question this assumption. Perhaps we should not be aiming to maintain some level of energy consumption. Perhaps our lives would be better if we sought some other way of measuring our self worth and societal success.

Just a thought.

I focus more on the transition, and making sure the transition will allow for a better society. I do not think one can dictate a better society (some bad historical examples there), but the path taken can allow for their existence.


Best Hopes for the Future,


Don't get me wrong - I love your work, Alan. And my comment was not aimed specifically at you, but at the general discussion about timing and "too late."

I, too, am interested in transitions, if only because I do not believe in any such thing as a steady state (destination). My primary concern, and what I try to bring to discussions here as well as in how I raise my children, is that there is more to our problem than simply running out of cheap energy or other resources. It is our very way of life that is the problem. We can come up with all the technical solutions we want, but until we address fundamental questions about how we live in the world, then we will simply careen from one "issue" to the next.

Enough is never enough when the going gets tough
Too many things coming up for one dope to handle
Just foot in mouth lean on crutch
Wish I was with the Ancient Egyptians
With how many thousand Gods
Someone to turn to someone to pray to
Someone to listen to the silence of my tears
Enough is never enough when the going gets tough
A diet of instant time inspiration
Just foot in mouth lean on crutch
Firing blanks at critical moments
When the going gets tough
The tough goes shopping
To buy something a little nothing
To fill up the hole in his heart
To buy something a little nothing
To fill up the hole in his heart

Lyrics to "Egypt" by Tuxedomoon

shaman, this is indeed the question, Jevon's Paradox in a new form.
How do we make our mitigation programs "good," instead of just "less bad?"
Why bother at all if the end result is the same crash, but delayed some years by a final squeezing-out of the last drops from our biosphere?
Paradigms aren't going to be shifted voluntarily. That much I'm sure of.


You need to get a grip. People are not going to die in the cold. It does not get cold enough in most of the UK for one thing. Further, even Monbiot manages to cut energy use for heating by quite a bit in his book "Heat" and it is clear that much more can be done than just that.

It is just the point of Lovins et al. that nuclear power is obstructionism. It blocks viable solutions through its wasteful use of resources.

You are obviously very afraid. This seems to be leading to clouded judgement. Try reading the Lovins et al. work again so you can follow the argument.


It is very easy to see a scenario in say, 2014 when a cold winter over Europe and declining exports from Russia collides with falling North Sea gas production. Storage can't cope, and rolling blackouts are enforced. Without electricity, most central heating systems stop working.

Given the dire state of UK housing, especially for the old, and the total inaction by successive governments, I think quite a lot of people would die of cold in the dark.

We will not be able to build nuclear power fast enough to avoid this timeframe. (but that is not my main objection to nuclear.)

I don't want this thread to degenerate.
Please check your facts though.
In cold winters there is a differential death rate across northern Europe but more particularly in Britain with cold weather correlating very closely with people dying.
Expensive power or a lack of power would certainly increase this.
Where in the world you get your ideas about the British climate I have no idea, but having lived in it for many years I can assure you that your idea that cold would not kill the old or vulnerable particularly is entirely fallacious.
I should add that more people die from cold in milder climates than in severe climates.
This is because in Sweden or Russia systems and insulation are set up to deal with regular intense cold.
In Britain or Spain that is not the case, and temperatures can sometimes plunge to well below zero for a week or more.
Death rates soar, then and in the following weeks from Pneumonia and infections.

Since plans are based on LNG and NG imports which are not going to happen there will most certainly be power shortages.
It is all very well for Lovins to hypothesise what will be the ability of solar power in 2050, but his optimistic assessments make absolutely no difference to providing power to get there.
I am all in favour of solar wherever it can make a useful contribution, but grossly exaggerated claims for present capabilities do not help.
So what it actually happening is that we are being delayed in building that which we know how to do in pursuit of something which at the moment we can't build.
Those who have delayed conservation and insulation are just as culpable, but opposition to nuclear power has both increased GW gases and will result in many excess deaths.
Had we the installed nuclear capability of France we would be in a far more favourable position to struggle through.

A 5 second google shows you're talking rubbish. probably from your centrally heated house.

This subject has been controversial and widely disputed.

The fact that the death rate is higher in winter does not mean it's the cold that is to blame. Correlation is not causation.

In particular, winter is flu season, and children and the elderly still die of the flu. It's not fully understood why winter is flu season. It's seasonal even in tropical areas, so cold is probably not the direct reason.

Although correlation does not prove causation AFAIK death rates are higher in colder winters and during cold snaps, so that is pretty suggestive.
However I did not link to Age Concern figures, as they sound high.
All this is in an environment of relatively 'low' fuel bills, and without large blackouts which for many wound mean not only no heat or light, but no way of cooking a hot meal.
It should be noted that in Britain if you can't afford to have a bank account, people use keys which they pre-pay for gas and electric.
On average they are charged around £400 pa extra for this as against using a direct debit.

At the moment many pensioners stay in bed as long as they can to avoid heating bills.
If any readers have had rheumatism they will know that this causes continual pain in the cold.
In a world of much higher fuel bills and intermittent supply many who do not actually die will certainly wish that they had.

Here are the figures for UK mortality:

Please note that according to the UK government temperature is one of the variables which contribute to the death rate. It is perhaps safe to assume that susceptibility to infection is also affected by exposure to cold to some degree.

This is in a centrally heated world, with relatively cheap fuel.

The conclusion is plain. Restricted and expensive heating in Britain will result in the death rate rising considerably.

I take it that the Department of Energy has decided that all of the unemployed construction workers in the declining housing and commercial markets are to continue to sit idle rather than put them to work building energy infrastructure?
Your Government at work?

No, we're going to let most of them drive back to Mexico so the Administration can declare victory in the war against illegal immigration. Thus they conveniently disappear from our unemployment stats. It will look great on paper while our country falls into disrepair.

So I'm watching CNBC and they are saying "Oil Rises, on Falling Dollar" and I'm looking at the data and it doesn't make any sort of sense, Is this some sort of propaganda? Is this an organized effort to draw people away from the big scary supply issue? They only say the the oil is rising because of falling dollar when it suites the situation, I mean what about yesterday when there was no such correlation...?


Plus their stupid

my belief is they are given guidelines re what to focus on & they then look for the points of correlation[at that moment] & do such.

westexas's 'iron triangle'.

And it goes that the dollar is only falling because the FED injected mega-billions into the economy to save the banks.

Going with this rationale.. we've sacrificed the airline industry to save the banks.

Now how is the bank supposed to get me to Disneyland?!

This was heavy commercial buying today.

You sir are a genius per your 10% correction prediction.

EDIT: Remind me to never sit down at the poker table with you.

I was listening a bit to CNBC today also.

The commentators are all fired up today because Wal Mart is kicking a$$.

Apparently Wal Mart has cashed millions (billions ?) of dollars worth of the magic stimulus checks.

One guy said it was not necessarily good news because it might be reflective of middle income (not just low income) people having to buy necessities there.

His viewpoint was relatively quickly replaced by another host saying something along the lines of "so just where is this recession...?"

Propoganda indeed.

This roller coaster ride of DOW, crude and US$ is interesting and I see a correlation. If the DOW goes up, so will crude and the US$ will get weaker. If the DOW goes down, crude goes down and the US$ gets stronger. Watch it and see if the pattern holds. Someone is just moving the $$$ around from one place to another, but nothing is really growing in the meantime except incremental increases in crude $.

CNBC seems to have a menu of phrases to explain pretty much anything. This morning it was - "DOW goes up on crude oil price increase" ???!!!

Their anchors get near orgasmic each time the DOW or the NASDAQ or the Bombay Sensex goes up even 0.1%. I hope we have peak CNBC soon.


Re:Rising airfares.
Can anyone put some ball-park figures on what a rise in airfares does to the most exposed, such as Hawaii?
To tourist numbers?
To the overall economy in Hawaii?
To employment and houseprices there?

Hi Dave

Did you see this USA Today article?

The Hawaii Visitors Bureau would have figures based on previous downturns, and the state government would have same for overall economy. I worked in the restaurant sector of Hawaii's tourist industry during previous recesions before Big Ag pulled up the roots on the plantations. However, I would look more closely at Las Vegas as IMO it's more vulnerable than Hawaii.

Thanks - sounds like exactly the sort of thing I was looking at.

re: Las Vegas, just returned from there with my wife as I wanted to visit it before it went away (have never been). We had a great trip; it's outrageous and fun — and I wouldn't want to live there.

On a trip to Hoover Dam, I learned that:

  • they sell their electricity at cost, which currently is 1.7 cents per kWh
  • over 50% goes to Southern California
  • only 4% goes to Las Vegas, but to the residential areas only
  • the strip purchases its power from anywhere it can get it, as far away as Canada. The contracts with Hoover Dam were put in place before the strip really started need huge amounts of power
  • the current contracts end in 2017
  • the water reservoir is currently far below normals due to the drought


Water is going to be what kills Vegas, not power. There is plenty of solar power around to keep that city running, but water is a much tougher issue. Electrified rail could still get people there, but what are they going to bathe in when they get there (not to mention golf).

I don't know if piping in desalinated ocean water would ever be economical.

Lack of cheap airfare will kill Vegas before lack of water. The lake levels are actually up slightly from last years lows. They're still happily building mega resorts and condos on the strip while the airline industry melts down. There's an awful lot of momentum in the economy here, but I don't think the city and county planners nor the casino executives have ever given the least bit of thought as to what will happen when the never ending stream of airplanes slows down.

I have a friend who works for a major casino operator and he assured me that Vegas will be OK because it is a world wide destination and even in tough economic times, people still want to have fun. I think that this is pie in the sky fantasy, but hey the demise of growth in Vegas has been falsely predicted numerous times before.


Electrified rail could still get people there, but what are they going to bathe in when they get there (not to mention golf).

If only said rail actually existed.

"Lack of cheap airfare will kill Vegas before lack of water."

why? why does everyone think if something is not cheap anymore the business is over?

vegas will build a railroad or whatever if it really needs it.

vegas will build a railroad or whatever if it really needs it.

How? How will they buy/use emeinae domain to obtain the land?

For what it is worth, modern Las Vegas was based on a relatively small amount of water, and the needs of a railroad. The result is that the Union Pacific line from the junction in Salt Lake / Ogden to Los Angeles runs through Las Vegas.

Even without personal autos, as long as the trains run it should be possible to get there. I question why large numbers of people like the place so much ... doubt that it will continue even at its present level ... but that is a discussion for another day.

I'm sitting in the work hallways behind the Amazon Room at the Rio, working on the World Series of Poker, and I'm having this exact conversation with the local crew. I asked on of the sound guys if he keeps spare water stored, and he says currently, they'd have to lean on the swimming pool for that. He agrees that the loss in air travel would be trouble, while initially it would be a mixed blessing, since so many jobs bring employees in from out of state (I'm from Maine).. They've hired 900 Card Dealers, for example, apparently from around the globe. So with higher airfares and fewer flights, he wouldn't lose that work to us interlopers, at least..

There is a freight RR line that goes right through LV, however. I dont know if it's Pax grade rails, though..

Lake Mead might be up a little, but overall, it's wayyy down. Hoover Dam's gettin' Hoovered!


He agrees that the loss in air travel would be trouble

There are three major construction projects going on right now that will bring an additional 15,000 hotel rooms plus retail, convention space etc. This is in addition to major expansions that have taken place at two of the largest hotels, The Wynn (Encore) and The Venetian (Palazzo) which opened this year. The new projects will be completed in 2010. The largest "City Center" is the largest construction site in the US costing $4.4 billion. Like the builders who have built condo towers here, over the last 5 years, these building will cost more than initially expected because of higher commodity prices for concrete, steel, copper etc.

What will the disposition of air travel be by 2010? I think that it will be seriously impaired based on the cutbacks and expected consolidations in the airline industry and my belief that oil prices will remain high. Thus these companies are going to be saddled with very expensive buildings and a shortage of visitors. This means that they will have to cut rates for rooms, food, and alcohol which is going to affect their profitability. If major casino operators start cutting jobs, it will ripple through the entire economy here.

If someone on the city council or mayor's office has a plan 'b', I haven't heard about it.

There is a freight RR line that goes right through LV, however. I dont know if it's Pax grade rails, though.

Amtrak discontinued service here like 10 years ago. Since then there's been lots of talk of restoring passenger service but no action. My understanding is that the single rail line would have to be expanded to double a line to make it effective and so far anyone that has planned a go at it has balked at the cost. Maybe Warren Buffet could make it happen.

Currently there is a plan to build a mag-lev train 40 miles out to Primm which is where the new airport is going to be located. Groundbreaking for the new airport is not scheduled to begin until 2010 (completion in 2017), but if there's no need for a new airport, why build the mag-lev train? Of course much like fusion power or solar panels in space, the "bullet" train to SoCal has been talked about for decades and has always been 10-20 years away.

As I said above, endless growth in the desert has been pooh poohed many times before and the city has defied negative expectations continuing to grow. But I think PO is a game changer that no one has on their radar screens.

Excellent points. I would point out that the whole logistic chain needed to support this folly is based on cheap transport fuels--ALL OF IT. Furthermore, the clientel Vegas depends upon--the US middle class--will soon be squeezed to the point where, except for compulsive gamblers, the implications of Lost Wages becomes all too real for anyone to see any "Need" to travel there.

Like the Pyramids, the Vegas Megahotels will stand as a reminder of our "civilization's" basis and the cause of its demise.

The lake levels are actually up slightly from last years lows.

Not if you are talking about Lake Mead:


and if you were referring to the level a couple of months ago being higher than last summer, that is misleading since the level is seasonal, being higher in winter than summer, as is clear from the above table.

Note that the lake level right now is the lowest since 1965. Chart view here:


For the truly obsessive, daily levels for the current month are posted here:


Thanks, I stand corrected.

"Water is going to be what kills Vegas, not power."

Vegas has made itself out of literally nothing. I wouldn't bet against it.

It would be interesting if someone could put together some graphs showing historical to present information on mainland to Hawaii air fares, boat fares and number of tourists making the trips via each transport system.
It would be interesting to follow over the next 3-5 years as air fares continue to rise (dramatically?). At what price point would the cost of air fares push people to surface transport and at what price would tourism start to fall significantly?

Alan - Can we build electrified rail to Hawaii?

But seriously, I had a really crazy vision in my head the other night, and I would like people smarter than myself to tell me why it wouldn't work:

Towers in the ocean with electric winches pulling boats. The towers could be powered by floating solar, and they would pull the boats from one to the next. Kind of like a ski lift.

Massive capital and operating costs, not enough traffic to justify (uneconomic in any case).

1) 5 masted schooners (say 4,000 tons) with PV Solar assist.

2) Nuclear powered container & pax ships of 25,000+ tons (new post-2014 Panamax ?)

will both work better.


Gee Alan you post a lot, but at last I've chased you down with this :

I have done modeling, trying to get a non-GHG North American grid without massive increases in rates.

by this do you mean Disneyland will survive?

With less of my tongue in my cheek, can I say that while it is a noble venture to remove GHG, don't you think that we should not be concerned with more than GHG? I would venture that even with an elimination of GHG we still have big problems with the amount of energy we each have at our disposal, directly or indirectly. Consider the sort leverage the addition of external energy gives us to despoil Nature (especially with all that pure clean air you promise:). Add to that leverage, population increase, and any solution of more, or even the same, energy usage, IMO, is the road to disaster.

Birthrates plummeted during the Great Depression, and life expectancy declined. I expect the same post-Peak Oil.


My goodness Allan, you are always the optimist, no one can hold you down :)

I live in New Orleans, post-Katrina.


Alan, this fellow has different data than you, apparently:

When people feel increasingly insecure and view the future with deepened apprehension, they are less likely to marry and less eager to have children whom they may find it impossible to support. During the period of the Great Depression and for some years afterwards the world birthrate averaged about one-tenth lower than it had during the "prosperous" 1920's.

A decline of one-tenth in the birthrate may not seem very significant. It meant that during the 1930's there were about three less births per year for each thousand people than there would have been if the birthrate of the preceding decade had continued unchanged. By 1930 the global population had reached two billion, so a drop of three per thousand in the birthrate meant some six million fewer babies were born in a year.

It meant that, between 1930 and 1940, approximately 550 million babies were born into the world instead of perhaps 600 million that might have been born if there had been no Depression. Fifty million human beings is a total greater than all the soldiers and civilians killed in both world wars.


I don't relate to a 10% drop as something "plummeting." Do you have different numbers?

for the USA, birthrates fell below replacement level for a couple of years. Note that due to the sharp age pyramid of the US population back then, there were many more fertile women in 1935 than in 1925. The 3rd column is birth rates.


I looked for 1932, 1933 & 1934 specific birthrates but a quick Google search did not jump out.


Reducing the birthrate by 25% with current demographics, combined with a reduced life expectancy of a few years will see the US population drop.

Note that the death rate in New Orleans was up 48% in the first six months post-K (and this was with the nursing home population gone, a major source of deaths in normal times) and is still +20% post-K.

Best Hopes ?


Alan, these are very interesting statistic. Do you know if they represent all births or only survived births. One would expect that the infant mortality rate would also go up during such periods.

Typically, such statistics are for live births (still borns not counted). Deaths post-birth (infant mortality) are not included.


Thanks, it looks like the U.S. rates were lower than the global rates.

crazy is right - since you said "seriously" I'll shoot ya down like an Earp

let's see

1) blocking sea lanes? how would you get a tanker under this thing

2) currents and storms - one typhoon and this this is toast

3) cost - total insanity here...

I have a better post-peak idea for Hawaii - back to sail - it's efficient, quiet, harks romantically to a bygone era - 5 mast steel-hulled ships could carry goods and tourists back and forth - surfers get their big waves on the North Shore - resorts stay open, the cruise industry doesn't go completely under - pineapple doesn't disappear completely from the lower 48 - and Hawaii doesn't become Easter Island

"It's a damn tough life, full of toil and strife, we whalermen undergo,
And we won't give a damn when the gales are done how hard the
winds did blow,
For we're homeward bound from the Arctic grounds with a good ship
taught and free,
And we won't give a damn when we drink our rum with the girls
from old Maui."

I think we should just hook up a giant cable and tow the islands closer to shore.

How long would it take to sail there?

2 to 4 weeks seems to be a good range (from the west coast) - races take like 7 days - so maybe with backup engines 2-3 weeks is realistic?

probably good for shipping stuff, maybe a big long for vacations....

things are going to change, like it or not

Assuming an average of 12 knots [fast for this tonnage ] and following the prevailing winds, about 7 days from SF and return about 10 days.

I have a better post-peak idea for Hawaii - back to sail - it's efficient, quiet, harks romantically to a bygone era - 5 mast steel-hulled ships could carry goods and tourists back and forth - surfers get their big waves on the North Shore - resorts stay open, the cruise industry doesn't go completely under - pineapple doesn't disappear completely from the lower 48 - and Hawaii doesn't become Easter Island

I'd love it, but I'm afraid I may have had to eat my neighbors by the time those get built.

And there aren't many pineapples growing here these days, I think. They're rezoning everything to urban, and growing pineapples in other parts of the world.

I had occasion to look from a high vantage today at Oahu, and it was hard not to think "starvation". It's a giant suburb on a rock with no appreciable farming.

The big isle, where I have a couple (very) small pieces of land, doesn't have the population pressure, but there are no doctors there; they've left like the elves fleeing middle earth. Once the last jet airline goes under, the life expectancy there may plummet.

But we won't freeze.


Fewer Summer Flights Stifles Hawaii's Tourism

The loss of aloha airlines and ATA cut seats from the west coast to hawaii by 13 percent. Compare that with the U.S. east, markets not served by the bankrupt carriers, where numbers were flat.

California visitors are a big part of Bike Hawaii's business.

"We're definitely concerned about it. trying not to overspend right now and get creative" says John Alford of Bike Hawaii.

'Wanna get away? Good luck'. By Dave Carpenter AP. Sorry no link.

Some cities have already lost all scheduled airline service. For those wishing to fly to or from these locations I thought a list might be helpful. In the article only two cities are listed but the article mentioned that there will be many more without scheduled air service in the near future. So far:

Lancaster, Pa

Ithaca, NY

The article goes on to mention that many tourist destinations will see major reductions in flights in favor of more profitable flights elsewhere. Orlando (Disney) and Las Vegas were mentioned specifically.

So far the Orlando area has been relatively isolated from the troubles of south Florida, southwest Florida and the Tampa/St. Pete area. Jobs have continued to be created and the real estate prices have held to only about 5% year on year declines. But the impact of oil prices on the airlines and the resultant impact on vacation travel are the first real threats this area has experienced. Despite some success in economic diversification, the area is still largely dependent on the health of the tourism industry. It was bound to come. Time to hold on tight, the roller coaster is about to leave the station.

Small cities should prepare for fewer flights

PRESCOTT, Ariz. - The rejection from Air Midwest came swiftly on a one-page fax. The carrier couldn't afford to fly to the mountain community of Prescott anymore, officials said. The city would simply have to find a new tenant for its tiny airport.

"Everything was going fine — then, bam — the airline is gone,'' Mayor Jack Wilson said with a sigh. "That's just not how you do business.''

It's a frustration felt across rural America.

The federal government guaranteed numerous small towns and cities air service 30 years ago when it deregulated the industry. But skyrocketing fuel prices have outpaced subsidies from the Essential Air Service program, and many carriers are either trying to re-negotiate their contracts or dropping out altogether.

Cutting Lancaster is no big deal. Lancaster is only about 30 miles south of Harrisburg which, as the state capital, isn't going to get cut off completely any time soon, plus the Harrisburg airport is on the Lancaster side of the city. In addition, both BWI and Philadelphia are drivable from Lancaster, and a lot of people from the area do that to take advantage of the much cheaper airfares. Of course, in the longer run drivability to BWI/PHL will be an issue, but then so will affordability of airfares.

Ithaca is a different story.

Ed Tennyson, as Deputy Secretary of Transportation for Pennsylvania, electrified the line from Harrisburg to Philadelphia. Service at 100 mph for sections of it. 16 pax trains/day I think.

Best hopes for Electrified rail,


There is an interview with Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA referenced at Energybulletin in which he is asked if he believes in peak oil, the response: "Of course, but the question is when?"
Is this the first time he has acknowledged peaking?

Apologies if this has been posted already

No. He's acknowledged peak oil from quite awhile.

Anybody have a good explanation to dispel the Oil is going up because of the falling dollar notion..?

Yeah, log it against the Euro. Oil still goes up only not quite as much.
Or log it against gold, and it does the same.
There have been posts on TOD showing these - you could google this site.

Typhoon,see below(should have connected directly to your question).Remember Gnou from last year?

What we're dealing with is mainly journalistic incompetence. The press have a handful of standard explanations for oil going up or down, and they sort through the list to see which explanation might fit on that particular day. Oil up and dollar down? Use that one. Oil up and dollar up? Well, did somebody say something about higher oil prices? Use that one. If none of the others fit, they can always cite "unrest in Nigeria", because that one always works.

This reaches surrealistic levels sometimes. A couple Fridays ago, Bloomberg had two different articles explaining why oil went down. The problem was, oil went up, not down. It was up on the day, up on the week, up on the month, and up on the year. I couldn't figure out what they were talking about. Are they dumb as stumps? Or shills for TPTB? I guess those options are not mutually exclusive.

That having been said, a declining dollar should cause oil to go up when denominated in dollars. There was a pretty decent correlation last year between the dollar & oil (with the understanding that correlation does not necessitate causation). This year, it has pretty much broken down, meaning dollar decline isn't driving oil prices. I think the charts show pretty clearly that the dollar is mainly flat, maybe even up a bit, over the time oil has gone from about $105 to $135. In fact, you don't hear as much about dollar decline as you used to. Now the problem is mainly analysts talking the price up, plus Those Evil Speculators (TM). And unrest in Nigeria, of course.

I think they are stuck using outdated concepts to explain the situation, when in fact the paradigm has changed.

Here is the foolproof case:

Oil goes up against the US dollar:


Oil goes up against the EURO:


Oil goes up against gold:


This last one is a little more ambiguous, but 0.14 is a somewhat high historic ratio for oil to gold within the context of the last 10 years. Further back than that, the oil price crash back in the 80's led to a decade of this ratio being much higher. This picture shows a longer term view of oil in gold. The chart is rather old, but you can mentally add the most recent action on to the end of the chart.

However, this is all a side point, really. To make the case, simply look at the action over the last 6 months. Oil is up very sharply against USD, EURO, and GOLD.

I noticed that the EIA has posted a revised ANWR (1002) assessment on the entry page of the website.

The complete report is here:


If you'll notice the high resource case for 2018 takes up all the unused capacity of the TAPS which should be just about at minimum flow before shutdown and abandonment (200,000 BPD).

For those whom remember bigger numbers than thos included in the report you have to go back and see if you were looking at ANWR Area 1002 by itself or the combination of ANWR and NPR-A.


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Here's a possibility:Budding typhoon in Arabian Sea heading N towards Yemen/Oman.Bears watching.Tanker traffic delays at the least.

Why oil going up today.Another thought.

The link up top: Mexico sees lower oil exports for 2008

A drop to 1.4 mbd from 1.686 mbd is a drop of 17 percent. If other nations, as they begin to drop their exports, are anywhere close to this figure, we can forget the 2 percent average drop estimated by a lot of folks. Of course that estimate was for world oil production, not world oil exports. However exports are what counts for the vast majority of the world.

At any rate, I think a drop of only 1.5 to 3 percent, the range of estimates we hear tossed around the most, is simply way too low. I think it is likely that world oil exports will be dropping at between 5 and 8 percent per year in about six or seven years. Just my guess of course but I think it is a very educated guess.

Ron Patterson

not sure what the projected total is, sounds about right, Westexas would know.

IMO, the trend for the top half is pretty clear, and the trend for some of the bottom half exporters is pretty clear, e.g. Mexico, while some smaller exporters like Angola show increasing exports.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that my guess of a (minimum) 75% decline in total net exports by 2031 is correct, and let's assume an approximately linear decline (same volume per year). This suggests a 26 year decline in total net exports of about 46.3 -11.6 = 34.7, say 35 mbpd, or 1.3 mbpd per year (versus 1.0 mbpd in 2007).

Let's take the decline out to 2015, total net exports would be 46.3 - 13 = 33.3. The decline rate for the subsequent year (2016) would then be -4%/year.

If we assume a 90% decline by 2031, and assume a linear decline of 1.6 mbpd per year, total world net oil exports in 2015 would be at 30.3 mbpd, with a -5.4%/year decline rate for 2016.

Note that I am assuming that unconventional sources help, but don't really change the long term decline.

BTW, to illustrate the accelerating decline rate, if we take the 1.6 mbpd per year decline out for 20 years, to 2025, the annual decline rate for 2026 would be -12%/year.

Pursuant to recent Gulf Coast discussions, Gulf Coast crude inventories were down to 153 mb, which is 35 mb below the end of May last year, but still 7 mb above the five year end of May number that we have seen. However, how relevant is that, since in past years we had stable imports from VenMex? (I guess I'll throw in the towel on the acronym.)

Our most current data show an astounding annual net export decline rate from VenMex to US shores of -32%/year.

I suspect that not only will there be calls for an SPR release because of supply problems on the Gulf Coast, but it is all but inevitable that the Bush Administration will release oil, given the upcoming election. Talk about living on borrowed time--offsetting a permanent decline in oil exports with the release of oil from emergency reserves.

Would that mean 180$ a barrel oil by the end of the year? I think we are in a world of hurt if we try to offset declining exports with the SPR, what happens if we have a sudden emergency? I would bet this will mean invading Iran will become top priority, I bet intelligence suddenly discovers weapons of mass destruction or something?

This is bad, real bad.. any chance of offsetting the VenMex decline with oil from somewhere else?

One of the problems is that Europe has their own problems with Proximal Petroleum Producers--Norway and Russia (RusNor?).

So, the US and Europe are going to be bidding to redirect other oil exports from their traditional destinations to the Gulf Coast and to Europe respectively, because of sharp declines from their traditional nearby sources of oil.

Is it any wonder we have seen an accelerating rate of increase in oil prices?

Clarification to above: "Gulf Coast crude inventories were down to 153 mb, which is 35 mb below the end of May last year, but still 7 mb above the five year end of May lowest number that we have seen"

WT - you have a way with catchy phrases and titles...PPPs (Proximal Petroleum Producers)...the oil fungibility-killers!!

An ode to ELP

I ran into a woman (literally as my dog pulled me across the sidewalk in pursuit of a nice smell of some sort) on my walk last night who recognized me from my soup shop.

Turns out she is a teacher and she told me a story about how she was starting a lesson on nutrition and food and asked her 4th grade class where they liked to eat, expecting to hear a lot of fast food chains. She said that almost half the class said Soup Shop.

Went to McMinnville, about an hours drive, to visit my sister a while back and we went out to dinner. Shortly after walking in the door I hear someone loudly say “soup shop” and I look over at this couple having dinner with the Chef standing by their table and they wave us over. We ended up having a great time over great food and wine.

The other day one of my regulars, tough as nails 80 year old gal, came in and handed me a 1 gallon freezer bag full of frozen blue berries the size of marbles and soooo tasty. She said her bushes are coming on strong so she is getting rid of put up stuff.

A university student I served the other day whispered to me as she was taking her food, she said “I know what your doing”. I asked her what she meant and she said that I was the only place in town serving real food with care and she really appreciated it.

I am recognized all around town (pop. 50,000) and have people express their appreciation on a regular basis.

Point is this was the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. All it takes is producing something with the highest level if integrity possible and bring to the people for a reasonable price. I do compromise my income alot by purchasing almost everything from local producers and by turning down doing parties but I make plenty and when we downsized our lives a couple years ago we eliminated all debt and decreased our expenses dramatically. My children are proud of me as I am of them.

I am soooo wealthy.

Not sure that any one of them wouldn’t shoot me in the head for my last can of spam but I will take my chances.

P.S. I stopped ranting about TEOTWAWKI to people (except to local officials). Now I just let it be known that I am interested in discussing the issues if anyone is interested.

Congrats souper man!

That's fantastic, souperman2.

Peak oil is an opportunity for everyone to examine their lives. I know I'm doing that and it's been enjoyable.

About once a week I run across a really good posting on TOD, this is it for me. Such a positive message! I searched for "oregon soup shop", looks like you've gotten some very good press. And I'm getting hungry reading about the soups... can you recommend something for a 90 degree day?

thank you and good luck!

Ps - I got hooked on pho about two years ago.

After reading all of the articles in TOD yesterday about the collapsing demand for SUV's, I watched one of our local (edmonton) newscasts. A local reporter found that unlike the rest of the continent SUV sales in Alberta are booming. Some of this is due to people working in the oilpatch but a great deal is still do to people here having lots of money to spend. Even though Alberta represents only 10% of Canada's population, 40% of Canadian sales of SUV's are made in Alberta. It appears that if any Americans are desperate to get a good price for their unwanted SUV's all you have to do is drive up to Alberta and put a for sale sign in the window. On top of that vehicles in Canada have a higher price than their American counterparts so you can make more than bought the SUV for. We also luv trucks , the bigger the better.

Guess we'd better factor the effect of fuelling all those gas guzzlers into Canada's future oil exports...

Yeah, it stinks having to compete for resources with people who have more money.

Guess we'd better factor the effect of fuelling all those gas guzzlers into Canada's future oil exports...

or figure out at what price do they give up the gas guzzlers?

There are also a suprising number of micro-cars on the streets around here ("greener than thou" crowd).

Someday, the evening news will show the predictible outcome of a collision between a giant SUV and a micro-car. After that, I expect sales of micro-cars to decline.

I should take a picture of the parking lot of the local members only club in Calgary.

The lot used to be able to hold 100 cars now can only contain about 75 SUVs.

Oddly enough, I don't remember having seen a Hummer parked there.

Suburbans, Tahoes, Navigators and the odd Cayanne.

There is one person who drives around in a metallic purple Escalade with an obnoxious personalized license plate. I don't think they are accepted by the older oil money in town even though they live in Mount Royal, I don't think they are 'members' of the club either. Apparently the owner of this escalade has plans to build a miniature replica Banff Springs hotel on the property they purchased in Mount Royal as their personal home.

FEB 2008 - Globe and mail story about the house and the SUV is mentioned too.

I'm pretty close to the epicenter of this boom. It's a real trip floating around in public Calgary and then visting the Drum here and there throughout the day. It's a constant battle fighting off the 'consensus trance'.

What is going to happen to this City? There has been a wobble in the last few months, but all MSM is saying full steam ahead.

Of course the EIA isn't perfect, but is still the best if not the only organisation in the world providing monthly statistics.

In France, where I live, we have to listen to vague lore dispelled by our ministers to try to guess in what state we are with respect to reserves and consumption.

Last year, and more so this year, consumers are pressing the government hard to lower taxes on gasoline et diesel. Until now, official spell was to say, no, we cannot lower the taxes because our income has dropped because of a welcome backflow of consumption. I remember our minister of economy touting on national TV how the french were "wise", and how well they cut their consumption last year ! And consumptiom was so much lower that the income by our fixed tax called "TIPP" was 8% less in 2007 over 2006 !

But the ministry for ecology has published it's figures for energy and fuel consumption in 2007 : an increase for transportation fuel of 1.5 % (3.3% for diesel, our largely preferred fuel, and -4.5% for gasoline for the minority still using this fuel).

Now how is this possible : an increase in fuel consumption and a decrease in TIPP ? Of course, professional use of transportation fuel is sometimes subject to exemptions, reduction or refunding of the TIPP. A logical explanation would thus be a large increase in the use of professional fuel and a large decrease in personnal spending of fuel. And all this with a slow increasing GDP of 2,1 % !

A final thing learned from our statistics : France imported less oil past year but had to draw down its stocks to satisfy demand.

And a logical explanation of this large increase in "professional" (business) use might be that whenever there is sharply discriminatory taxation (or outright rationing), people learn to fiddle. If you're cold and you feel like going someplace warm for a week, don't let the taxes stop you, just find a seminar about nothing, and fabricate a business "need" to attend it.

Pemex has supplied 60% of Mexican government revenue in the past - now down to 40%, due to Calderon's initiatives. How will this gradual loss of revenue play itself out? How dependent are the Mexican citizenry on government services? How much fat could be trimmed/corruption weeded out? Like dealing with this little problem for starters:

The national daily newspaper Excelsior reported in November that 11,500 oil workers, about 10% of Pemex’s unionized workforce, get paid for sitting idle.

Woes mount for Mexico's state oil titan - Los Angeles Times

I understand thru sources like narconews.com that the way Mexico really works is that local political bosses control things Daley-style, with armed thugs if necessary. Their loyalty to the central government therefore requires a steady flow of government handouts. The bosses spread out this revenue to those they judge useful, enough that the masses don't revolt. However, there have been provincial rebellions in the last few years, brutally suppressed by the state and federal government. The top guys will send troops to bail out the local gangsters.

Presumably as these payments dry up, the gangsters will be paralyzed, and we will see more local rebellions. Mexico's tiny army has enough on its hands with the drug war. Entire regions might very quietly fall into the hands of local popular committees.

All this sounds a lot like Afghanistan, doesn't it?

Mmmm. Thanks for replying, Sup.

Over in topic Truth, Lies, Oil and Scotland, Gordon Brewer presenter of the BBC Scotland Peak Oil Debate last night has joined the discussion. He's just posted that Newsnight Scotland will return to the subject tonight: "if any of you are gluttons for punishment we are returning to the subject tonight with brian wilson, former uk energy minister, and david strahan of the oil depletion analysis centre"

Available throughout the UK on Sky satellite or on BBC iPlayer. Last night's debate is still available on iPlayer if you're in the UK.

Just to draw attention if you haven't seen it yet here's a clip from last night's BBC debate.

Unless someone YouTubes the programmes unfortunately they can't, in general, be viewed on the net outside of the UK

Does going through a UK proxy work?

It should do. Try this link to last night's debate and see.

You need to do something like an SSH tunnel to a UK proxy. A simple HTTP proxy won't work, since the video traffic isn't http (or utp).

But it works for the videos on MLB.com.

Here's a link to an audio MP3 of the debate. Haven't listened back to the whole thing so let me know if it's broken anywhere.

Peak Oil Debate

More from water wars front...

Organic farm's wells going dry as water competition stiffens

Under state law, a landowner has the right to capture an unlimited amount of groundwater by tapping into the underlying aquifer. And the eastern part of Travis County does not have a groundwater conservation district, which would have some power to regulate water pumping.

"Basically, if you get pumped dry, you don't have a remedy," said Ann Mesrobian, a member of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, which operates in Lee and Bastrop counties.

One of Canada's largest bottled water companies plans to tap into our groundwater just outside Calgary. CBC Radio's Jennifer Keene has that story.


It's getting rough all over. I woke up to this on the radio this morning.

If this is true it is very worrying

End of the internet as we know it in 2012?

What do people here think?
Apologies if already covered

Well..mmmm...hmmm...who's the girl?

Crude's rocketed up again in the last couple of hours. WTI just went back up over $128.

As we previously discussed, IMO, the physical spot market is dragging the paper market higher.

So, a 2¢ move in the USD/EURO ratio "caused" a $5 move in oil prices. So, a 10¢ move would cause a $25 move in oil prices? Got it.

But let's see. At $1.54, oil went up by about 3.25 Euros. At $1.56, oil went up by about 3.21 Euros.

Once again, a critically important point.

Oil went up about 5%. The dollar went down about 1% against the Euro and UP 0.7% against the Yen.

Essentially, the dollar did NOT go down today in any absolute sense. The Euro went up because the ECB signaled they were going to raise interest rates soon. Since the change was to the Euro, and oil is not priced in Euros, it was essentially a non-event as far as oil is concerned.

Could it have something to do with this?

Air Force Top Brass Resigns.

Resignations were not Iran related...


Hello TODers,

After jumping 670% yesterday, Potash North is up another 28% so far today. This is just nuts for a mining permit-- even tulips were a better buy.

Yikes. POT is up to $218.... What's going on here.

Hello Prairiedog,

Thxs for responding. Perhaps, as I discussed in earlier biosolar mission-critical topic postings, we are now seeing huge purchases by Sovereign Investment Funds [SIFs]. TopTODer Ace posted a weblink on this in yesterday's DB.

Peak... Potassium...?


It will be years before they start production. Maybe never if ELM has hammered home.

Morocco corporate P-irates in the news? Recall my earlier postings on this subject.

Global shipping shies away from Western Sahara phosphates
I would expect this to only add more upward pricing pressure on phosphates. Reduced shipping can be more profitable than lots of shipping, just like not pumping much crude can be more profitable than lots of pumping, or not selling much sulfur can be much more profitable than selling lots of sulfur.

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

Wow, so I was just watching C-SPAN, and in reference to Oil and Gas, a Congressman, said while complaining about not having built a refinery in 30 years and refining capacity being at 87% or something, said that all these federal lands could give us 4.8 million barrels per day of production and some god awful amount of gas, therefore doubling US oil production.... Westexas you might have an idea as a geologist how much oil do you think is in these federal lands? It's sad but I think were being hurt more than anything by bad and exaggerated information.

who was this republican congressman?

A few questions for the Congressman:

  1. Would you invest a billion dollars in a new refinery if you feared that it would never be used at anything near full capacity?<\li>
  2. 4.8 million barrels a day of production capacity for how long?
  3. Can you run the American economy on 10 million bpd (5 mb current + 5 mb hallucinated)?
  4. In a global economy, how will you guarantee that this oil won't be exported (thereby denying Americans the "right" to burn it)?
  5. How many bribes have you accepted in the past six months?

Oil's up $6 intraday! Now sitting around $128.31, holy cow.


Would anyone care to comment on the data put out by this fellow Engdahl ?


Is he simply bonkers or is there something there ?

Thank you,

search at google

I learned this from Prof. Goose posts.

in the google search field: Engdahl site:theoildrum.com

here it is executed


The first result associates his name with Quack. Apparently an abiotic believer.

Oil's up 6 dollars in one day, and so the net export crisis begins, I'll eat my foot if we don't see 170 by the end of the year..

They (MSM) need to find a quicker way to change the fill-in-the-blank storyline for explaining the oil price.
Right now the stories explain the down side.

Hello TODers,

Ozzie finding and developing its own phosphate resources makes more sense than becoming reliant upon trans-oceanic shipping as we go postPeak:

BARKLY phosphate junior Minemakers has secured full ownership of Australia's largest known rock phosphate deposit.

The Wonarah deposit contains an estimated 2 billion tonnes of rock phosphate ore 230km east of Three Ways on the Barkly Tableland. Rock phosphate, a fertiliser, sells for about $400 per tonne at an ore grade of about 32 per cent, making the Wonarah deposit potentially worth billions.
Of course, the usual question: will they have the postPeak energy and equipment to achieve production, or will it be by picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows?

George F. Will: The Gas Prices We Deserve
Hope this OP/ED piece isn't a dupe:

One million barrels is what might today be flowing from ANWR if in 1995 President Bill Clinton had not vetoed legislation to permit drilling there. One million barrels produce 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. Seventy-two of today's senators -- including Schumer, of course, and 38 other Democrats, including Barack Obama, and 33 Republicans, including John McCain -- have voted to keep ANWR's estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market.

Hubbert found, in 1956, that a one-third increase in URR for the Lower 48 (from 150 Gb to 200 Gb) postponed the projected Lower 48 peak by all of five years, from 1966 to 1971.

Using similar math, it looks like another 10 Gb would have postponed the world peak by about a month.

WT: why not email George Will directly with this observation?

I have seen many articles on how badly the US consumer is in debt, but this one puts it all into staggering perspective:

And those figures are only going to get worse.

I think this is a very interesting statement from the president of OPEC...

Dollar Weighs on Crude Oil Prices, OPEC's Khelil Say

Khelil said projections for global oil demand growth this year by the International Energy Agency continue to be ``optimistic.'' The IEA, which advises 27 energy-consuming nations, reduced its forecast in May for the fourth consecutive month to 86.84 million barrels a day. It estimated global oil supply in April at 86.8 million barrels.


``I am not sure that the market will demand an increase in supply from OPEC at least in 2009,'' because non-OPEC producers such as Russia will meet additional demand, he said. ``Non-OPEC supply was important this year and is expected to be very important next year.''

Has he not noticed that Russian supply is falling?

Has he also not noticed that by Russian decree that exports of phosphates are falling, and Putin is telling his countrymen to grow their own food?

"....grow their own food"------what a good idea.

Folks, where I am now in the Tokyo greater metro area, food wise, things are not looking so GOOD!!

All butter is gone from all shelves of all stores.
Milk is rumored to be next to go, by the end of July.
On Wednesday, all fishermen here in Japan will go on a nationwide strike to protest high fuel prices (they want help from govt to buy the fuel)....which means NO fish after Wed. (6/11) (unless the issue is resolved somehow).

I though the next vulnerable food group after milk was meat, but I was wrong! It's FISH!!

The lesson I have learned: don't move to a major metro area if you are not in one. And if you are in one, try to get out. I think that's people here will be trying to get back to the countryside, where their elderly parents are still often in residence, along with a veggie field or two. Lots of restaurants and shops are going out of business right and left here and traffic is much lighter than it used to be.

Did I mention that gasoline is around $6.50 a gallon now?

By the way, lots of people don't have elderly parents in the countryside and everyone is just going to have to watch the shops empty and then close. And then what?????

On the OIl Drum, it was mentioned that Japan is a net food and energy importer----not a good position to be in right about now. Food starts to disappear so fast it is hard to prepare for the future.

Things like governments and universities are struggling to keep BAU but it is a losing proposition, I feel.

Loved the headline :
"They can't believe there's no butter"
I had plans a few years back to launch a lad's version to appeal to the in-yer-face generation : "If this isn't butter then I'm a c*nt". Couldn't sell the business plan to my backers, though.

Some idiot on a "progressive" website had the temerity to doubt the reality of Japan's situation that you've relayed to us on several occasions. He chalked it up as propaganda despite being provided with non-MSM newslinks, and at the end of our "discussion" dismissed the butter shortage as not indicative of a larger trend. Like I said, the guy's an idiot.

Thanks for your intell on Japan's situation. Please keep submitting.

Here's another video well worth watching. A summary of the current financial problems and peak oil all in one - on Bloomberg. A must listen.

Bloomberg Video

Video is titled: Jim Rogers Says Bull Market in Oil Has `Years to Go'

Can't find a more direct link to it.

Hello TODers,

Potash Corp stock hits record after CEO outlook

"We're very excited because we know for sure between now and June of 2013, there's no new greenfield mine coming on anywhere in the world," Doyle said.
If we are now postPeak, and ELM, plus some other unforseen events really start hammering home--we might not see any new greenfield mines at all.

Investigate Fertilizer Price Gouging, Fixing

"We can't seem to get an explanation for the dramatic increase in prices," says Carlson. "That's why we called for this investigation. We are glad Senator Dorgan is pursuing it with the Federal Trade Commission."

While makers of potash and phosphate, two ingredients used in fertilizer products, are shielded from certain antitrust rules when it comes to export trade, it is the domestic market that has farmers questioning whether price collusion is occurring.
We need to figure out the best way to Peak Outreach to farmers so that they fully understand the double whammy effect of how depleting flowrates of FFs, sulfur, Haber-Bosch N, and P & K mining will affect I-NPK pricing, and why they need to push for a rapid ramping of O-NPK recycling from the city back to the farm.

Maybe the California drought will get so bad that this state will be the first to go to total 0-NPK recycling.

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

Now THIS is a gem.

Perhaps it's that the car is made out of "airbags" - the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA's rovers when they landed on Mars. Then again, it could be the company's claim that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.

Hello TODers,

Is Famine Inevitable?

The fate of global food production has now become the chief terror of the future.

Cash-for-work farm subsidy proposed

...“(If) it will be under a fertilizer-for-work scheme, then 56 million manhours can mobilized to improve agriculture facilities,” Mitra said.
I wonder if something like that can be implemented here in the US to rapidly ramp permaculture to 60-75% of the US labor force. You have to admit that if I-NPK is only allowed to those who perform postPeak community service labor--that is a very powerful incentive. Additionally, those that refuse this opportunity will be highly incentivized to ramp O-NPK recycling instead.

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

Hello TODers,

In time, this will have earth-shaking repercussions:

China Will Become a Net Grain Importer in the Future

SHANGHAI (Interfax-China) -- China will become a net grain importer due to the country's limited capacity to further expand grain supplies, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said today in a research report.

"We should realize that tight grain supplies in China will be a common phenomena in the future...

Keep 'em coming Bob. Very much appreciated.