DrumBeat: July 31, 2008

Reviving the Household Economy, Part One: The World Outside the Market

What is happening here, of course, reflects one of the largest of the blind spots of contemporary economics: the assumption that market transactions mediated by money are the only significant form of economic activity. Our household jam-making activities drop off the economic radar screen the moment we finish paying for the raw materials. Value is being produced – the same jam offered for sale at next week’s market would bring substantially more than the cost of the raw materials – but it’s being produced outside the market economy, and therefore has no official existence in an economy measured entirely by market metrics.

What makes this particularly relevant in the twilight of the age of cheap oil is that the world’s industrial nations, and above all the United States, have spent most of the last century transferring as much as possible of the household economy into the market sphere. In making our own jam, among other things, Sara and I belong to a minority of American households. Glance back a hundred years, by contrast, and nearly every family in the country outside the very rich and the very poor had an active household economy that produced a large fraction of the total goods and services they consumed. Many factors contributed to this dramatic shift, but one of the most significant is the availability of cheap abundant energy.

Spain to cut speed limit in bid to reduce oil imports

Spain has launched an ambitious plan to reduce energy consumption and save millions of euros on oil imports by cutting the speed limit to 50mph and handing out millions of low-energy use light bulbs.

Brazil revives nuclear power plant

The administration of President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva is turning to nuclear power to meet electricity needs that are growing with the country's booming economy.

"Things have changed a lot, and today it's clearer to everyone that nuclear energy has a role to play in the Brazilian electrical system, just like the other forms of producing electricity, which can't be dismissed," said Leonam Guimaraes, an Electronuclear spokesman.

Using Crop Residue for Biofuels Hurts Soil Quality (podcast)

Harvesting stems and leaves for biofuel takes away a source of nutrients for soil microbes that in turn produce the natural fertilizer for the next generation of crops.

Farmers try to shrug off rising fuel costs

LITCHFIELD -- Farmers who are typically fatalistic about bad news like a wet growing season are trying to shrug off rising fuel costs.

Although the ripple effect of higher petroleum costs has inflated the cost of just about everything from animal feed to utility costs and plastic packaging, farmers here are banking on a strong consumer demand and higher sales volume to offset a shrinking profit margin.

Travelers get angry over cost of fueling up

Tempers have been rising steadily along with gas prices. While no one seems to be officially keeping statistics on incidents related to gas rage, many folks have clearly reached their boiling point.

Bush pushes oil drilling, but more US fuel exported

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday made a new push for expanded offshore drilling to help lower fuel prices, days after new government data showed American petroleum product exports hit record levels.

Shell Sails into $7.9 Billion Profit in Second Quarter

Royal Dutch Shell’s second quarter 2008 earnings, on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis, were $7.9 billion compared to $7.6 billion a year ago. Basic CCS earnings per share increased by 7% versus the same quarter a year ago. The company announced a second quarter 2008 dividend of $0.40 per share, an increase of 11% over the US dollar dividend for the same period in 2007

Green Tutoring Saves Millions

COLUMBIA, MD (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- In the face of rising fuel costs and the specter of global warming, many are seeking alternatives to reduce their fuel consumption and carbon emissions. One business doing its part is TutorVista.Com, the world's leading online tutoring company. Students use the service to work with expert tutors from the comfort of their own home -- no driving to learning centers or a tutor's home. And no tutor has to travel to the student's house.

Pemex cuts target to 2.8M barrels a day

Petroleos Mexicanos, the third-largest oil supplier to the U.S., lowered its crude oil production target for a second time in as many months as its largest field, Cantarell, declined faster than forecast.

Pemex, as the Mexican state-owned oil company is known, expects to produce 2.8 million barrels a day this year, said Vinicio Suro, managing director of planning and evaluation at Pemex's exploration and production unit, on a conference call today with analysts.

Chief executive Jesus Reyes Heroles said on May 29 that Pemex lowered its daily production target for 2008 to 2.9 million barrels from 3.1 million barrels. A four-year decline in output and reserves is putting pressure on Pemex to increase funding to boost exploration.

An energy plan we can believe in

The United States is in energy crisis. Oil and electricity prices are rapidly escalating, our dependence on imported energy is increasing, and global warming continues unabated, each presenting grave threats to our national interests and security. Solving these interlinking crises requires large strategic investments to spark a clean energy economy and develop cheap and nonpolluting energy for every American.

But let's pause for a moment to imagine what a clean energy economy would actually look like: tens of thousands of new highly skilled designers and manufacturers reassembling America's auto fleet and producing the next generation of wind turbines and solar panels. An army of new engineers and contractors rebuilding America's electrical grid, erecting wind farms and solar plants, and retrofitting our homes to save on energy costs. Lab researchers inventing cutting-edge, low-carbon energy technologies, which entrepreneurial startups and venture capitalists take into the marketplace.

Oil woes were foreseen

Jimmy Carter warned that our addiction would one day threaten national security.

Truckers want relief from punishing fuel prices as Senate debates issue

Barbara Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation Inc., headquartered in New Market, MD, spoke about how high fuel prices are affecting her family-owned trucking company.

“Diesel fuel prices are hurting us and driving up the costs of all of these consumer goods – it costs approximately $1,400 to fuel up a truck,” she said.

She said her company is spending at least 58 percent more on fuel than they did one year ago.

“If this continues, by the end of the year, we will expend at least $1 million more on fuel than was budgeted,” she said. “We are a small family business and this is truly critical to our industry.”

Honda's Future May Be Tied To Natural Gas, Says Dr. Joe Duarte

It's possible that the fall in price of natural gas is making Honda's GX, a natural gas powered vehicle more attractive, given that even after oil's recent break, retail gasoline is still about $3.80 or a gallon.

To be sure, it's too early to tell. Yet, Honda may have something going here, especially when there is an appliance available that lets you fill your GX up in your garage at home.

Coal-to-Liquids — West Virginia ready to become a global leader

An $800 million investment by mining giant CONSOL could position the Mountain State as a global leader in modern coal technology. CONSOL announced this week that it plans to build a coal gasification plant capable of producing 720,000 metric tons of methanol that can be used as feedstock for the chemical industry. Officials also expect the project will be capable of converting methanol to about 100 million gallons per year of 87 octane gasoline.

She’s Ready: Just Add Water

ONE Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, as cable news channels carried bulletins that two government-sponsored mortgage lenders might go bankrupt, Kathy Harrison stood in the kitchen of her two-story, 19th-century farmhouse here, about 20 miles northwest of Northampton, laying out herbs from the garden.

With commentators throwing around phrases like “mortgage meltdown” and “peak oil,” the American economy seemed, at least to some, at the edge of an abyss, but all was calm in the Harrison household. Two loaves of bread, baked fresh that morning, sat on the counter. Mrs. Harrison’s daughters, Karen, 14, and Phoebe, 5, were laughing and playing dress-up, while her husband, Bruce, 62, stood at his wife’s side.

Asia refiners may seek heavy crude as fuel oil firms

SINGAPORE, July 31 (Reuters) - Asian refiners could seek more heavy sour crude if fuel oil cracks strengthen further as distillates weaken, giving a lift to differentials of such grades that have been in the doldrums in recent months, industry sources said on Thursday.

Fuel oil cracks have improved more than 55 percent to a discount of $12-$13 a barrel -- the strongest in seven months -- from its record low of almost minus $30 in early June, due to tightening supply flows into Asia.

South Asian nations discuss food bank to fight hunger

COLOMBO (Reuters) - South Asian foreign ministers began discussing on Thursday details of an ambitious plan to fight hunger in the region, including building a common food grains reserve.

The ministers are meeting to set the stage for an Aug. 2-3 summit of South Asian leaders where their recommendations on food and energy security and terrorism will be adopted for action.

Caribbean utility companies urged to collaborate

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS): Jamaica's Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings has called on Caribbean electric utility companies to collaborate, in order to combat the challenges posed by the escalating price of fuel and the energy crisis on the global market.

DNC Platform on Energy Policy and Global Warming

The Democrats have been relying on the development of renewable energy to not only provide new energy required by our growing economy, but also replace the fossil fuels that we are currently using. They have been opposed to offshore drilling, while oil becomes a scarcer commodity in the world. Newly developing countries and oil producers are all using more oil, leaving less for us and driving prices up.

What about the platform for 2008? That will be decided at the convention, but we can get some ideas of what it might contain by looking at the position statements from presidential candidate, Barack Obama.

Boulder-based team designing homes with 'geo-green' features

The world of green building continues to get more competitive — and while it’s still admirable to build housing with top-notch insulation and solar panels, it’s no longer cutting-edge.

Closer to the edge might be the upcoming Geos Neighborhood, a 250-home housing project to be built in Arvada. Geos homes will have airtight construction and photovoltaic (PV) panels, but the design also includes geothermal systems, heat recovery ventilators, “checkerboard” building placement to maximize solar exposure, and water conservation features.

What is going to power our cars?

It wasn't the sound of his car engine that was distracting Ian Clifford. The chief executive of Canadian business Zenn Motors makes electric vehicles that give off no noise. He was worried that the obvious choice to power his next car - the same stuff that goes into laptops and cellphone batteries - was going to be in short supply.

"If you look at the increase in lithium prices over the past seven to 10 years, it's been dramatic," says Clifford. Zenn's short-range urban cars traditionally used nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, but his next vehicle - an 80mph model with a 250-mile range - needed more efficiency. "There are very limited global reserves, and they're in potentially very unstable parts of the world," adds Clifford.

U.S. drivers should think in gallons per mile: report

"There is a math illusion here," said Richard Larrick, a management professor at Duke University, whose research appears in the journal Science.

Larrick said most people think improvements in miles per gallon are all the same, where a 5 gallon per mile improvement would yield the same gas savings in a car that gets 10 miles per gallon or 20 miles per gallon. (One mile equals 1.61 kilometers, and one U.S. gallon equals 3.79 liters.)

"The reality that few people appreciate is that improving fuel efficiency from 10 to 20 miles per gallon is actually a more significant savings than improving from 25 to 50 miles per gallon for the same distance of driving," Larrick said.

Energy Prices Are Bright Sliver in Grim Economy

The sharp drop in energy prices since the beginning of the month is turning into a rare bright spot in a bleak economic landscape.

For the moment, at least, fears of a prolonged energy shock seem to have subsided a bit.

Oil will push U.S. inflation to 6%, CIBC's Rubin forecasts

The last bastion against an all-encompassing surge in U.S. inflation is set to fall, Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, said Wednesday.

Wages are primed to jump as surging oil prices prompt the "triumphant return" of 1980s-style cost-of-living allowances (COLA), sending the U.S. inflation rate to 6% by 2009, Mr. Rubin said in another of his provocative forecasts.

Oil Price at $90 Is Enough to Save Global Economy

It may well be enough to dig the financial system out of its mess. Oil at a more sustainable $80 to $90 a barrel would suddenly make the economic weather feel a lot sunnier. With inflation under control, central banks could cut interest rates again. Property markets would stabilize, helping banks to begin lending and to reinvigorate the global economy.

Shell Says Nigerian Production Is Cut By 220,000 Barrels a Day

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company by market value, said as much as 220,000 barrels a day of crude production in Nigeria is shut in because of militant attacks.

Gas prices fall, but drivers don't feel relief

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Gasoline prices may have fallen over the last 13 days, but the decline has offered little relief to long-distance commuters who still blanch at the pump every time they fill up.

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results fell well short of Wall Street expectations and shares fell in premarket trading.

British Gas: Windfall tax should protect consumers

I'm sure I'm not the only one to find the practice of splitting profits within the same company into upstream and downstream to be entirely spurious. The big oil companies play the same game; their upstream activities are hyper profitable while the petrol stations contrive to make a loss.

Consumer fury at hikes and profits

Consumers were left furious today as British Gas’ parent company posted almost £1 billions worth of profit for the first half of this year just one day after announcing huge price rises for their customers.

Thanksgiving travelers will find fewer flight options

Planned your Thanksgiving trip yet? Be warned: Fewer nonstop flights are scheduled on many routes because airlines are cutting their schedules due to high fuel prices.

Asiana Air Posts First Loss in Almost 3 Years on Fuel

Bloomberg) -- Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea's second-biggest carrier, posted its first loss in almost three years as the price of jet fuel, the airline's single-biggest expense, rose to a record.

Lufthansa Expands Cost Cuts as Fuel Expenses Rise

(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe's second-biggest airline, is increasing efforts to cut spending this year to help counter rising fuel costs that are threatening earnings at its main passenger business.

Vancouver needs to plan for a post-oil world -- now

North American cities had better start adapting to a future characterized by climate change and depleting oil. Fewer parking lots. More condominiums. No more big highway upgrades. No further airport expansion. Emergency response and health care systems that can respond to the potential impacts of global warming and energy shocks.

Oil man Pickens seeks 'army' to back energy plan

TOPEKA, Kansas (Reuters) - Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens said on Wednesday he is creating an "army" of business leaders and mainstream Americans to lobby for his plan to revamp U.S. energy policy in favour of wind power and natural gas over imported oil.

Alaska gas pipeline bill nears state Senate vote

JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska state Senate is down to the final days of a second special session to decide whether to grant a state license for a natural gas pipeline project designed to unlock 4.5 billion cubic feet of North Slope reserves daily.

Russia: 2 More Coal Firms Come Under Fire

The government's antitrust probe into rising coal prices widened Wednesday to include Evraz Group and Raspadskaya, just days after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attacked miner Mechel.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said in a statement Wednesday that it had launched an investigation into whether Evraz and Raspadskaya had abused their "dominant position in the market for coking coal, setting unjustifiably high domestic prices and discriminated against the domestic market."

Tax hike would force German biodiesel closures

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's crisis-hit biodiesel industry faces further closures if the government goes ahead with plans to further raise biofuel taxes, a biofuels industry leader said on Wednesday.

Germany's government plans to increase taxes on biodiesel in January 2009 to 21 euro cents a litre, from 15 cents, in the next stage of its programme to raise taxes on green fuels to the same level as fossil fuels.

Inuit advocate against uranium mining in Greenland

The president of the International Circumpolar Council in Greenland believes mining companies should not be permitted to remove uranium from Greenland's underground, under any circumstances.

'Why should be spoil our nature and our people's health,' Aqqaluk Lynge told CBS News.

Money for crop research just a drop in the bucket

WASHINGTON — A deadly wheat fungus known as stem rust is shriveling crops from Africa to the Middle East, threatening the breadbasket of Pakistan and India, and could eventually reach the United States.

The potential threat to food supplies and the economy is enormous, yet Congress and the White House during the past several years did not react to urgent pleas from U.S. scientists for millions of dollars to develop wheat varieties resistant to stem rust. Instead, the main federal lab working on the disease fought budget cuts.

Using West's oil shale would pump up greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON — Oil shale in the American West might contain three times the oil of Saudi Arabia, but getting it out of the ground would require much more energy than drilling for conventional oil does, and the result would be more greenhouse-gas emissions.

Japan adopts action plan against global warming

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's cabinet on Tuesday adopted a plan to slash carbon emissions up to 80 percent by 2050 by starting carbon trading and stepping up research on carbon-capture technologies.

"Japan must continue showing leadership on the issue of environment," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told the cabinet meeting. "To lead the world, Japan must take the initiative by achieving a low-carbon society."

WTO failure bodes ill for climate change: delegates

GENEVA (AFP) - The failure of key powers to agree a new pact on global trade does not bode well for international cooperation in other areas such as climate change, top delegates warned Tuesday.

Three senators call for EPA chief to resign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic senators called on Tuesday for the resignation of Stephen Johnson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying he sided with polluters instead of fighting global warming and other ecological problems.

Staff urged to dress down, stay cool as U.N. heats up

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations is encouraging its New York staff to trade wool business suits for cooler attire this summer so the organization can slash air conditioning costs and help the environment.

"There is going to be a relaxing of the dress protocols and people are being encouraged to wear lighter clothing," said U.S. architect Michael Adlerstein, who is overseeing a $1.8 billion renovation of the 60-year-old U.N. skyscraper.

Arctic ice bigger than 2007, but thawing long-term

OSLO (Reuters) - Arctic sea ice is unlikely to shrink below a 2007 record low this year in a reprieve from the worst predictions of climate change even though new evidence confirms a long-term thaw is under way, experts said.

The UK's annual Digest of Energy Statistics was released today, and a nice summary document has been published as well – plenty of well-presented, interesting charts showing UK energy trends.

UK Energy In Brief 2008

Access to full report and separate chapters from this page

Edit: removed second image to keep DrumBeat tidy.

Yes, the reserves are falling rapidly, but reserves and achievable flows are not related - for the UK it is the rapidly slowing profitable/affordable flows that are important. Gas looks to be a bigger problem than oil! :-(

I'll bet that many of the reserves that the UK government thinks will be produced soon may actually take quite a while (if ever) to recover.

This is my favourite chart from the BERR reports.


You know we're in trouble when ... the Y axis goes logarithmic and all the lines are heading down!

'Oil from algae' promises climate friendly fuel

A liquid fuel made from plants that is chemically identical to crude oil but which does not contribute to climate change when it is burned or, unlike other biofuels, need agricultural land to produce sounds too good to be true. But a company in San Diego claims to have developed exactly that – a sustainable version of oil it calls "green crude".

Sapphire Energy uses single-celled organisms such as algae to produce a chemical mixture from which it is possible to extract fuels for cars or airplanes. When it is burned, the fuel only releases into the air the carbon dioxide absorbed by the algae during its growth, making the whole process carbon neutral.

Is this any improvement on previous algae-oil schemes? It still seems to have the drawback of the enormous farms needed to grow all the cyanobacteria (yields from open ponds are apparently too low). Then there's the obligatory 'commercial production within 5 years' bit towards the end of the article.

Any thoughts?

None so far - the few start ups have not shown anything new.

Its still a hollow plastic bb.

If it is in fact 'chemically identical' to crude oil, does this mean it can be used to produce plastics etc? This would at least be useful and require a much smaller scale of operation, rather than simply wasting it by burning it as usual.

I'm sure you can. Wikipedia has a long entry on bioplastics:


My educated guess is that this algae oil is like extracting potash from seawater, theoretically feasible, but no one is yet making a profit from it.

A plethora of small cap start up companies have been working on many solutions to the energy crisis, few of them will ever make a profit for their investors, nor do they provide affordable energy products. A few companies might do well amongst many companies destined to fail. Most new businesses do not make it.

It's hard to tell where they are going that is different, but one possibility is to have cyanobacteria produce long-chain hydrocarbons directly rather than through triglycerides which are transesterified to make biodiesel.

This was linked before on Drumbeat. Company working on genetically engineered bacteria like e. coli to directly produce hydrocarbons. No photosynthesis so you'll have to give it some nutrient feedstock. The economics are similar to fermentation with yeast, but you have the advantage of no energy-intensive distillation. Also, no transesterfication needed as with biodiesel.


Here's some skepticism: Follow the EROEI. These guys are quick to point out that the cyanobacteria conduct photosynthesis so the sun is their main energy source. However, the organsisms still need phosphate and other nutrients. How energy intensive is it to get a sufficient quantity of nutrients into the feed solution and to get the nutrients in a form the cyanobacteria can use? I don't know the answer to this, but I noticed in the article they say this:

Also crucial to making the green crude commercially viable is to use the byproducts other than oil from the algae. "You can probably derive 40% of the algae's weight in oil and you've got 60% of other stuff and there's a lot of valuable components in that in terms of chemical feed stocks."

Since they're looking to sell off by-products as well, that says to me low EROEI. My evidence is that making ethanol from corn only has a positive EROEI if the by-products are used in animal feed. Otherwise, you're looking at a net negative. If these guys are looking for something else sell in order to make it "commercially viable", I bet they're in the red on energy.

I agree that if the situation is that, "Also crucial to making the green crude commercially viable is to use the byproducts other than oil from the algae", then they are looking a bit suspect. However, I sense that people generally believe that any manufacturing process must be viable based only on the production of it's primary product. This may have been true during the beginning and the middle of "The Age of Oil" but, it is going to be increasingly less so as we move towards the end of the Oil Age. I suspect that as energy becomes more expensive, ALL products/byproducts of manufacturing processes are going to be examined for their value. Grandma's old adage "Waste not, want not", will ring truer than ever.

Alan from the islands

Violinist -

At the risk of being repetitive, the thoughts I have on the general subject of algae-to-fuel schemes are the same ones I have already expressed several times on this site. And that is:

Unless someone can demonstrate that they are able grow strains of 'fuel rich' algae at a high rate and in a stable manner in open ponds rather than closed transparent bioreactors, then there is little to be optimistic about algae as a large-scale fuel source.

Large bioreactors made of metal are expensive enough, but the cost of ones made of photo-stable transparent plastic would be prohibitive on a large scale. One really has to try to visualize what these things would look like when scaled up to full commercial size. There is nothing outlandish about a square mile's worth of open ponds (done all the time), but just try to visualize a square mile of transparent plastic bioreactors. Such a monstrosity would probably consumer a goodly chunk of the world's current yearly output of that type of transparent plastic.

The disposition of the dead biomass left over after the fuel has been extracted is a major technical and economic consideration. If an economical use for this stuff can be found, so much the better. But if not, then one is left with a large wet mass of highly biodegradable material that will have to be handled and disposed in some manner. And subjecting it to anaerobic digestion with methane production is only a partial solution, because a considerable amount of residue will still remain.

Nor would it be wise to gloss over the nutrient requirements, some claims of nitrogen fixation notwithstanding. What you can do in a carefully controlled laboratory pilot plant and what you can do in a large open pond are two very different things.

While algae-to-fuel is a worthwhile avenue of research, we are very far from having anything coming close to a commercially viable scheme.

If you can do it in an open pond, GO. If you have to do it in a transparent bioreactor, NO GO.

Thanks for summing it up so succinctly, joule. Don't worry about being repetitive, these stories about wonder-fuels from algae pop up with great regularity. They're all variations on the same basic idea and the flaws are almost always the same. I think it was the prominence of this one in a 'mainstream' newspaper, and the length of the article which got my attention.

You make a good point about the need for plastic for the bioreactors. It's another receeding horizon as the price of the oil needed for its manufacture increases. Presumably these plants will also need huge supplies of water, especially if the process is done in open ponds (evaporation losses), if they're to produce a significant quantity of oil.

As with all schemes like this, I'll remain skeptical until they're in use on a significant commercial scale.

Missouri County Approves $141 Million Bonds for Algae-Biodiesel Scheme.

I'm assuming most of the remaining biomass will be used to produce ethanol.

I live a couple counties over from the proposed location, and had not heard about this until now. Saline County Missouri is not populous or wealthy (from 2000 census: 24000 people and a median household income of $33000). If I was a county resident I think I would be very pissed that the county's economic development efforts were being used on an extreme gamble like this...

I found a bit of info with a little digging around. Here is info on the parent company, Green Star Products: http://www.greenstarusa.com/

The article lists EcoAlgae USA, LLC - but it does not appear to have a web presence except mention in articles about this project. Perhaps the LLC was newly created exclusively for this project.

These other articles provide more info on the deal:
which has this quote from the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation Executive Director...

"No tax dollars will be used," assured Hunter. "There is absolutely no risk to the county or the commission."

Yeah, sure...
Seems to me that bonds are loans and somebody has to pay them off eventually - if the algae plant goes belly up then somebody pays. Either the county taxpayers, or the bond defaults and the investors loose out and Saline County has a much harder time in the future raising funds to attract more conventional businesses.

Greg in MO

In all fairness, they seem to have achieved pretty good results in their Montana Demonstration Facility.


Biobutanol would make more sense than ethanol. I already know someone who has cultured algae fuel using strains available to him at his university. A two car garage sized algae lab can create more biofuel than a football field full of soybeans. If we're talking about closed systems, you need a big input of CO2 so it's the perfect carbon sequestration technology for smokestacks at power plants. Algae can also grow from treated sewage waste.

Some good points on the enclosed vs open pond systems.

The leftover biomass from the processing must be cycled back into the system to preserve as many growth nutrients in the system as possible. People running such a system would be out to remove only C and H from the system to the extent possible.

r4neom -

Well yes, you can attempt to recycle biomass back to the reactors to recover the nitrogen and phosphorus, which typically constitute but few weight percent of the total biomass. However, in doing so, you are also recycling back a much larger amount of highly biodegradable material. What then becomes of it?

Unless completely sterile conditions are maintained (possible in a bioreactor but not in a large pond), then that biomass will make for a very attractive food supply for all manner of indigenous microorganisms. As they consume that biomass, they will deplete the dissolved oxygen in the medium where the algae is being grown and also compete with the algae for nutrients (not to mention clog up the medium and thereby making it more opaque to the sunlight vital to algae growth.

Even if sterile conditions were to be maintained, we still have the question: what eventually becomes of all that dead algae biomass, even after the nutrients are extracted? Maybe you can dry it and sell it as food, or maybe do something else with it. Regardless, SOMETHING has to be done with it, and unless a clear cost-effective pathway for this material is developed, it leaves a gaping hole in the entire concept of large-scale algae to fuel.

I didn't mean to imply that it was easy, just that it was necessary to put everything back into a balanced system that came out of it.

The conceptual issue is folks trying to treat a farm as a factory without analyzing all the inputs and outputs properly, and the inputs *must* equal the outputs both in quantity and kind or the whole thing falls over.

Purifying the product and feeding everything left over back into the system (after appropriate processing) is a well established method for simplifying the balance equations.

Well, I have no knowledge of algae or farming whatsoever, so correct me if this is a silly question, but couldn't the biodegradeable waste be sold as a form of compost to help restore soil nutrients? If it could be sold to farmers at a lower price than traditional NPK fertilisers, then there would be a ready market for it and the sales of such would help to balance the cost of buying in nutrients to grow the algae...

Would this work?


Or it could be gasified (for ethanol) with the waste ash being used as a soil amendent.

Ahhh, but something has to put the micro and macro element into the pond in the 1st place. The P comes from somewhere.

When I see these biofuel schemes I have to wonder what the efficiency of photosynthesis is compared to, say, photovoltaics. Ignoring the form of the produced energy I would guess that you could safely get something like five to ten times the useable energy from just about any (photovoltaic or thermal) electricity producing process.

Also it has been stated here before that open ponds will lend themselves to evolutionary changes of single cell organisms to satisfy their needs not your fuel requirements.

When I see these biofuel schemes I have to wonder what the efficiency of photosynthesis is compared to, say, photovoltaics.

My profile has some info on that. But yea, your gut feeling is a good one.

Why couldn't it come from sewage plants?

Energy Prices Are Bright Sliver in Grim Economy


Oil will push U.S. inflation to 6%, CIBC's Rubin forecasts

So let me get this straight.

High oil prices are bad.

High wages are bad.

High home prices are good.

High bank earnings are good.

It all reminds me of the Spanish Empire in decline:

The Castile of Gonzalez de Cellorigo was thus a society in which both money and labour were misapplied; an unbalanced, top-heavy society, in which, according to Gonzalez, there were thiry parasites for every one man who did an honest day's work; a society with a false sense of values, which mistook the shadow for substance, and substance for the shadow.

J.H. Elliott, Imperial Spain: 1469-1716

That's right.

The question is which colony will be transferred first.

I'm saying Taiwan.

Apropos of "What is going to power our cars?" (in the Drumbeat)....

...EEStor is in the news again the last couple of days. (And it's also mentioned in Leanan's article along with compressed air cars).

For snarky coverage:

EEStor makes production milestone announcement of sorts

Fictive Atlantean confused charge

There is a blog that covers EEStor and they recently interviewed one of it's mucketymucks.

EEStor claims to have prototypes and 3rd party certification and to be on the road toward production.

Lockheed-Martin agrees:

Some other recent links:

Wikipedia for background:


Here is EEStor's recent press release:

Everybody's got an opinion on EEStor. For what it's worth, I think they have something. But I'd be as surprised as heck (pleasantly so) if it lived up to the company's claims.

However, even if it is hugely overhyped, it still has the potential to be a big deal.

I think it's important to remember that capacitors work by varying the voltage, since storing electrons in the capacitor increases the voltage. The EEStor system is said to reach about 3500 volts at full charge. The usual voltages for the drive motors in a car would be much less, perhaps 100 volts or so. The drive electronics must operate over a wide range of voltages on the storage side, while producing a varying current at lower voltage. During regenerative braking, the process would be reversed, changing a lower voltage, high current flow into a high voltage, low amperage DC current. The challenges are much different than the demands of a battery system, where the chemical battery operates over a narrow range of voltages.

With that background, one could expect that the EEStor system would prove difficult in many circumstances. Any sort of failure which caused to a short circuit could release a rather large amount of energy in a short time. During a crash, this energy release could be expected to result in additional damage and injury beyond that due to the actual crash. Also, maintenance problems with these high voltage levels would prevent the average backyard mechanic from performing his own maintenance. There are likely to be problems with electrical codes and union rules as well, as workers would need to be certified and/or licensed before a business would risk working on them.

E. Swanson

The claims of EEStor are too good to believe.
But drive electronics is the least of the problems.
Power electronics is a mature technology what with IGBTs and so on.

Any sort of failure which caused to a short circuit could release a rather large amount of energy in a short time

This is true.
Lithium batteries are becoming safer.
A common test is to puncture a lithium battery with a nail.
I don't think EEStor punctures their caps.

Yeah, I'm sorry to say that the EEStor thing is not going to work out. Anybody with knowledge about how these ceramic dielectrics behave under high voltages could instantly see the hole in their reasoning. The total amount of power this device can hold is much less than they are predicting.

Anybody with knowledge about how these ceramic dielectrics behave under high voltages could instantly see the hole in their reasoning. The total amount of power this device can hold is much less than they are predicting.

That has been my thinking all along. Of course ultracapacitors at the microscale are a bit more like chemical energy, i.e. in order to have a ridiculously high dielectric constant, some serious things must be happening at the molecular scale. And most ultracapacitors only operate at a couple of volts, yet they claim about a factor of a thousand increase in voltage, which I find incredible (as in not believable). But many supposedly technologically sophisticated corps have jumped onto this thing, so we will have to wait and see. Ultracapacitors, even if they can't come close to competing with batteries in energy density, could still be a very valuable component of many energy using products, but their cost has been too high.

It's even worse than that. Dielectric saturation means even if they could put a high voltage accross their ultracapacitor, it wouldn't store a lot of energy. I'm keeping an open mind and investing my money elsewhere.

I'm not a EE, but I still think there will be problems. At 3500v, a current of 1 amps would represent 3,500 watts (about 5hp), but after the capacitor was drained to 350v, the same power out would require 10 amps. Does your switching device feed the 3,500v directly into the motor with a pulse width modulated inverter? What happens within the motor windings when they are fed that 3,500 volts? Or, is there a "low pass filter" in the circuit, something like an inductor/capacitor LRC, which could absorb the high voltage spikes giving a smoothed nearly continuous DC at a voltage which the motor could tolerate?

Then, to charge the ultra capacitor on braking, a different circuit would be required with voltage step up using a transformer DC to DC converter, I suppose. Your IGBT's can't boost voltage, can they? The HP required for braking can become rather large, thus the currents would be quite high at the motor design voltages. I imagine that matching the braking voltage and current to the wide voltage variation expected at the capacitor would be quite a challenge.

E. Swanson

Energy is proportional to V squared.
If the super cap discharges from 3500V to 1500V we are already at 18% state of charge.
Maybe don't go lower or limit power at lower voltage.

Power converters can be bidirectional; this is their beauty.

The regulation is not difficult.
Turn a switch on, the current in an inductor goes up.
Turn a switch off, the current goes down.
By adjusting a PWM fast enough, you get any current you desire.
The output voltage is a function of the current and easily controlled.

Looking around to refresh my old brain, I agree that the energy in a capacitor is a function of V^2. So, to limit the energy removed to 95% of the energy at 3,500v, the cutoff voltage would be about 780v. But, I was thinking of power, the time rate of energy use, which is watts or volts x amps.

As I recall, the motors in a good EV are AC, likely 3 or more phases. Thus, to drive them, the inverter must switch that 3,500v and then that PWM output must be filtered to produce the lower frequency necessary to excite the motor. The AC frequency would be varied according to the rpm of the motor. So, the drive power supply would likely be made up of 3 PWM inverters and 3 filters. No big deal, I suppose.

But, in braking mode, the voltage from the motor won't be 3,500 volts, but the power will be quite high, depending on the weight of the vehicle and how fast it is to be slowed. I would think a step up transformer would be required, one for each phase. Then, the high voltage AC phases could be run thru 3 rectifiers to dump the energy into the capacitor bank(s). Transformers are heavy, are they not? Wouldn't that take some of the advantage away from the ultra capacitors when compared with batteries? Of course, the use of an onboard charger at 110 or 220 volts would also require similar (the same?) step up transformer setup.

But, I'm just guessing, so further comments would be appreciated.

E. Swanson

Energy of a capacitor of E=C*v**2 assumes that C (the capacitance) is independent of V (the voltage). I'm not sure that is true for these exotic materials, at these very high field strengths. The capacitance will be given by a geometric factor times the dielectric constant. If the later is not independent of voltage, then the simple formula is no longer valid.

Since energy storage density is claimed to be similar to or greater than a battery, i.e. chemical energy, that is a great deal of energy per molecule, and it is somehow stored in the material changes of the media. Will this high energy state be stable? Nature is very clever at finding ways to jump from high energy to low energy states.

This is no problem, consider the PC you are sitting in front of takes 110/230v AC (Which is immediately rectifies) at 1-2 amps and outputs are several low voltages (< 5v, 5v 12v) at many amps. Its called a "switch mode power supply" and costs about $10 to produce

Neven MacEwan B.E. Elect & Electronic

Introducing the newest EV..

The Ford TAZER

There is potential danger in everything my man, Lets not forget the exploding pinto! (petrol power)


The power source of the computer you are using now already solves those problems. And it also scales quite well.

I doubt their stated energy density (and I don't really know about safety), but using 2.5kV isn't that hard.

He was worried that the obvious choice to power his next car - the same stuff that goes into laptops and cellphone batteries - was going to be in short supply.

I think somebody needs to be beaten about the head with a cluestick. Cheap is going to be the wave of the future, even in the U.S. You better design the cheapest electric car possible, using the cheapest battery chemistry. And if that sacrifices range or endurance, so be it.

We won't need speed either. Mules are cheap. ;}

$8,000 for an Iraqi horse, donkey, mule. Horsepower is never cheap when FFs are very scarce:


We've got plenty of horses here in the West. Maybe we can send them to Iraq! ;)

Proposal to kill wild horses angers US activists

"Mules are cheap."

Let's hope that their "fuel" remain so.

Two ways to go cheap, either a trunk and back seat full of lead-acid batteries, or a very small vehicle like an electric bicycle or motorscooter. Electric bicycles do fine with a 240 Wh battery.

We have a winner!

I agree, the problem with electric cars is that it takes an already very expensive system (personal car ownership), and makes it significantly more expensive, with less functionality.

The "electric car" of the future is an electric scooter. Less than $1000 and it has the same 40-mile-ish range of the $35,000 electric car.

If you want to go more than 40 miles (20 miles round trip, realistically 10 miles because you can't drain a battery 100% with any regularity), the best "electric vehicle" is a train.

The Guardian's technology section is in resource-constraint mode today. As well as the lithium article posted uptop (What is going to power our cars?), there's an opinion piece, berating the UK's energy policies (or lack thereof).

We need leadership on energy, not hot air

Real leadership would be to stand up and say: "The price of oil now is above $100 per barrel. At some time in the future it will rise to $200, and then $400 per barrel. This is simple economics: it is a finite resource for which there is increasing demand.

"The 2006 energy review consultation said that by 2020 we will import three-quarters of our primary energy. And Deloitte said in February 2006 that by 2020 we'll need more than 50 gigawatts of energy generating capacity - about two-thirds of current capacity: that's 30 nuclear power stations, or 40,000 offshore wind turbines.

"So Britain faces a challenge: how to secure our energy supplies. North Sea oil is running dry. We cannot just import gas and oil. If we carry on there will come a point when we cannot afford to heat and light our homes and offices.

Is the message finally getting through?

Is the message finally getting through?


"The sharp drop in energy prices since the beginning of the month is turning into a rare bright spot in a bleak economic landscape.

For the moment, at least, fears of a prolonged energy shock seem to have subsided a bit."

$167 to 172 in three months.

Americans are being separated from their gasoline.

$167 to 172 in three months.

Uh oh! Better buy my propane for winter now.

Is there a server problem @ TOD? I notice yesterday that the page sometimes loads incompletely in Firefox3. Has anybody else seen this?

I have not noticed a problem, but I am still using Firefox 2.

To answer my own question it seems to be either a bandwidth or Firefox problem because I am seeing it on other websites.

I use Firefox 3 on several different computers on different networks and do not have a problem. I'd suspect there is some issue with your connection.

I've had problems with Firefox 3 freezing for anything from a few seconds to a minute or so at a time. It may be due to some of the many (but fairly common) plugins I run (yeh, I should get round to disabling them and see what happens). It mainly seems to trigger if I have a search open and it does seem to only happen when I'm on TOD but it's unlikely to be a TOD bug - just something on TOD is more likely to trigger the problem.

When the freeze occurs all other active tabs are also frozen. I did have the problem with Firefox 2 but to nowhere near the same extent I seem to have had recently.

Exactly what Firefox is doing in a compute bound loop for such a length of time that actually does terminate (ie doesn't result in a crash) is a mystery.

Undertow, I have exactly the same problem that you're describing. First with Firefox 2, and now with Firefox 3. For me, it happens only on TOD. Also, I have this problem only when connecting from my Mac, not from Linux ... who knows what this is ...?

Firefox 2.0. Often have to wait for googleanalytics or somesuch to load(20-30 seconds)

I block google-analytics.com so don't see that particular issue but yes other sites on the page can slow the load way down. The problem I'm seeing isn't just waiting for something to load. In fact it happens when the page is already fully loaded. Firefox.exe isn't waiting either when the problem occurs - it's burning all the cpu it can get.

Konqueror has been complaining about a script that threatens a lockup about twice a day for me.

I suspect one of the advertisers has some too-clever javascript in their ad.
Worse, I'll bet it does what they intend it to under IE...

That's the script that handles thread collapse I think. Firefox 2 always complained but Firefox 3 doesn't (for me anyway) - it's also the script that crashes Blackberries.

However I still see the hang problem I've described even if I block all scripts and ads.

There was a new firefox release recently. My problems started once that version was installed.

Perhaps I missed something in an announcement, but I am unable to rate up or down on any post. Has rating been disabled?

Yeah, Its been that way for a couple of days for me too.

I'm using FireFox 2 and my browser hangs every time I navigate to a story or refresh. I eventually get an error:

My rating arrows have been non-functional for the same period of time, the last two or three days?

Not getting the error message but unable to use the arrows. Somehow I manage without them.

I'm getting the same error using Firefox 2.0 on a mac. What's happening is there is some javascript that is looking up js.sitemeter.com and I believe the that site is slow. Since it's in javascript it's causing the whole of firefox to lock up while it waits for that site to respond. This is just a guess though.

I blocked sitemeter long ago. It's so freakin' slow. Not just on this site, but on all the sites that use it.

Ratings working fine for me.


Rating isn't even working in internet explorer for normal users at the moment. It does work in firefox if I block javascript but otherwise doesn't. This has been the case for several days now.

As an experiment I'm just about to rate your post above down (nothing personal!!). Let's see who can rate it back up and how they did it.

Rating still works if you turn off scripting. I just gave you a thumbs up as a test and it registered.

Perhaps but I changed nothing here and it has worked since I downloaded Firefox 3.x. Noticed it stopped about a week ago, and then I noticed it didn't matter.

Well, here's part of the problem. On XP with Firefox 3, I can't rate posts. On Windows 2K with Firefox 2 and with scripting blocked with NoScript, I can vote on posts, but clicking on the Vote button reloads the entire page.

And it's only been that way for a few days, as Rethin and Phreephallin reported. I was able to rate posts in XP with FF3 earlier this week.

I know its a little early to be Christmas shopping but...

Anyone have ideas for post oil age preparation gifts?

I am looking for gift ideas for my family in the range of $0 to $200 US.



How about a barrel of light crude? Use it as an end table for 5 years and then trade it in for $500.

Clothes lines (outside and inside) and clothes pins. Seriously.

Good idea. Also: CFLs.

CFLs? Not terrible I suppose, but LEDs are the way to go. Though expensive and low lumen, they are very low consumption and last ~50,000 hours, apparently.

In fresh air.

Like CFLs they will die much quicker in any enclosed space. The heat is generated in the silicon which will die over about 150C. Remember a 0.5 watt torch bulb glows white hot..

That's a great one, actually.

A slave or two? That might be a bit much for this coming Christmas, but those more well-off might want to think about preparing the quarters, gathering rickshaws, hand tools and wheel barrows to go along with the clothespins.

I wonder if we'll be having a bit of a problem with our concept of rights - indeed we seem already at that point in the US.

The urge to have more hands on task in a lower energy world is going to conflict with the quality of the remaining resource base.

cfm in Gray, ME

My wife got me a nice BOB for my birthday, it was much appreciated (it will also serve as a hiking/camping backpack when not being stored as a BOB).

One of those crank-powered radios. You can charge a cell phone off them, too.

Crank-powered LED flashlight.

Books on gardening or other useful skills.

Solar charger.

Solar oven.

Bicycle gear.

I saw a Sony crank powered radio/flashlight at a high end camera shop. I'd imagine its of a better quality than the no-name junk sold anywhere else.

If you're expecting a collapse of that magnitude I'd suggest antibiotics, alcohol, and ammunition.

I'm sure those wouldn't hurt, not least because they're likely to get a lot more expensive in the future.

But the items I suggested are useful even if there no collapse. People buy them now, and most are not peak oilers.

I use LED flashlights all the time. I have one in the car, and several in the house. Big improvement over battery-powered. The batteries always seem to die at the most inopportune time. That's not a worry with a crank-powered flashlight. (I recommend the Garrity brand. Avoid those "shake" flashlights. They're terrible.)

Crank-powered radios are great when the power's out - even if it's not caused by civilization going dark. They're also useful for camping.

Many people are taking up things like gardening, biking, and using solar ovens simply to lower their expenses, for environmental reasons, or to improve their lives.

This seems like a good place to interject a comment about the story up top, She's Ready: Just Add Water. It drives me crazy when self-sufficiency is used when self-reliance should be used. The lady in the article isn't self-sufficient since the supplies she stores will not last forever - in her case, 6 months and it's all over. She doesn't seem to be able to provide her own energy, etc. Please, everyone, do Todd a favor and stop using self-sufficiency when the appropriate term is, usually, self-reliance.


Isn't it a continuum? I'm not sure anyone is self-sufficient, unless the plan is to completely do without modern medicine, hygiene, etc. and die young from disease.


First of all, I'm sorry for the run on italics. I posted as I was going out to water the garden and didn't pay attention. Anyway...

No, I don't see it as a continuum. Either a person/family can provide for all their needs, essentially, forever (self-sufficient) or they can't (self-reliant). I'll use myself as an example of self-reliance. I'm probably in the upper 0.1% of being self-reliant. I can provide food, water, power, heat, etc. However, I recognize that I cannot supply all of our needs forever. What my efforts provide me is the ability to stand back for a very extended period to see what happens and which course I should take. That could be either to accept that what I have is what I have and to make do. Or, it might mean heading out to the wilderness as a real hunter-gatherer. But, I'm prepared for either or something totally unthought of at this point.

Further, there are work-arounds in either case. Most people know enough about hygiene so that shouldn't be a problem. I agree that meds could be a problem but at the same time it's well to recognize that 100's of thousands of people are killed by meds each year along with those killed by their docs.

The lady in the article has simply warehoused stuff (and I agree that's a very good idea). But, she has no Plan B for when it's gone - at least as outlined in the article. It's the difference between true hunter-gatherers and "locavores." In addition, there was little discussion of skill sets. I see them as a prime necessity. I don't have time right now to go into detail since I need to get back to the garden but I'll do so later if there is any interest.


Todd- I, for one, would be very interested in your opinion of essential skills.

Me too. (Intereted in Todd's list of essential skills.)

It has become increasingly apparent as I try to prepare for what might be coming, that all preparations are stopgaps at best, strategies to survive until things settle down a bit. For every level of preparation, the next layer of vulnerability is revealed. Will my garden survive if there are no seeds, no water? Will my stored food survive a power blackout, a flood?

So I prepare as best I can and hope that the crash, or whatever is is, will not be total or forever.

Hi Hummingbird,

I tend to think about what the native Americans around here used to sustain life. The Mississippi Mound Builders.

They did not forage all that much since few arrowheads were found in their deposits. I have been over much of the ground where they once resided and there is lots of pottery chards but very little in the way of hunting flints.

Why? Because they practiced agriculture. What plants?

Three primarily. Squash,corn and beans.

Kids from nearby colleges and universities once dug and sifted thru these sites and thats what they found. The very rich bottom lands of the rivers replenished the soil and gave them the soil they needed to grow much of their foodstuffs. I suspect they traded with others who traveled the rivers.

So I plant lots of open pollen corn and dry my peas and beans. I can in glass over fire to store other vegetables. Since they were sucessful at it why can't I be?

Where we farm here in the bottoms we do not have to use fertilizer. The yearly sediment deposits from the 'spring rise' and 'fall rise' keep the land fertile. We do NOT live behind levees like the Missourians across the river do. We do NOT put houses on flood plains like the other idiots upstream do. We use it for crop land and as a youth I remember that some of the stumps of trees were still being cleared for this land but basically a lot of it was already for planting and use. THe uppper hills (where I built my dwelling) is safe from floods.

THis is how the previous owners of this land survived.

They made pottery to place in holes they dug in the ground in order to store food over the winter,,,...etc..etc...all of this is very clearly documented in various venues and books. Its the past.

The past where we are rapidly heading back to.

I would suggest the following book for those interested by Alan Eckert titled "That Dark and Bloody River"...about the Ohio river valley and the coming of the whites.

Best to you HB,


PS. I am looking seriously at wild elderberry to store as preserves,jam and jelly and also wine. I have some elderberries growing in my yard that I also planted some years back.
Wild elderberry bushes are becoming more and more rare as is all the rest of nature that we have been destroying over the years.

Good to hear from you Airdale. Sounds like you are back into it. I'm glad.

None of our garden crops are doing well this year. Don't really know why... Beans are sparse, tomatoes are small,chard never really got going, even the usually prolific okra are few and far between. Just one of those years, i guess.

Also we had the roots of a nearby black walnut kill the tomato plants in one bed. Had it taken down, but it will be years before we can plant there again.

OK, skill sets.

First a little CV stuff to put things in context. I'm pushing 70 so I've had more time to be exposed to "stuff." I have a BS in chemistry and worked on my MBA. Prior to moving to the boondocks in 1974 I had been a research chemist and lab supervisor, pilot plant manager, new facilities start-up manager and finally chemical plant manager. I've lived in semi-urban, suburban, exurban and the boondocks. To put the boondocks where I have lived for the past 34 years in context, the nearest city with a choice of big box stores is 120 miles away.

To great extent, living where I do and as I do somewhat parallels the kinds of skills people will find necessary as the economy degrades/collapses because they won't have any financial choice. Around here people pretty much do it themselves because they can't afford to hire people. I'll try to sort of put things in topics with comments.

Building design - I've designed a number of homes and buildings for myself and other people. This included the engineering and prints for submission to get a building permit.

Why is this important? First of all, because you know how things were put together it allows you to diagnose problems. Second, it is possible that you will want to build a greenhouse or something. Knowing how to design it will save you a lot of money.

Building trades - Basic skills include masonry/concrete, rough framing, plumbing, electrical, roofing, finish carpentry/sheetrock and HVAC.

Why is this important? Again, it gives you flexibility and saves money. And, just as a note, every skill I list is something I can do although not always at a journeyman level. For example, I'm really good with concrete but not much of a brick layer although I've done it; I'm a good gas welder but a fair arc welder.

Food production - It gets complicated here because there are so many possible choices so I'll stick to two; veggies and fruit trees (personally, I also have nut trees, grapes and a variety of berry crops). Number one in all of this is plant nutrition. You should be able to observe the plant and see if it needs "something." This, of course, gets in soils. One book I love is Ideas in Soil and Plant Nutrition by Joe Traynor, ISBN 0-9604704-9. It was self-published so it may not be readily available.

Number two, you have to know something about pests and pest control. This includes not only bugs but also critters like coons and birds. In the case of fruit trees, you also have to know how to prune and thin.

Why is this important? A lot of time, money and effort can be wasted if you don't know what you are doing. In fact, if you are counting upon you crops to sustain you, you could starve. I've left a lot of skills out of this simply to save space. There are lots of good, general gardening books. One good one is Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond. ISBN 0-88266-319-4. It may be out of print.

Food preservation - You should be able to hot water bath/steam can, pressure can, dehydrate, freeze, smoke and, possibly, pot meat. I don't pot or smoke stuff but I know how.

Why is this important? First of all, it takes equipment. You can make a dehydrator but you can't make a pressure canner or canning jars and lids. This means you have to plan ahead. It is also something that is easier to learn from a friend. Remember, improper canning can lead to botulism and kill you.

Engine mechanics - You should be able to diagnose and correct engine problems up to, and including, overhauling the engine. I realize that this is almost impossible on many cars/trucks today. But, I still think it is something that one should be able to do. One suggestion I've made to others is to buy a junker lawn mower and tear it down and rebuild it.

Hunting/gathering - You should be able to hunt, trap, fish and gather edible plants. Even in the city there is stuff you could eat if things got that bad. There is lots of information out there. For videos, DVD's and books, you might want to try http://www.buckshotscamp.com

Timber felling - There may come a time when wood is your only fuel choice. You should be able to fell reasonable sized trees, say 30-40'. The biggest ones I fell are about 40" at the butt and 7-80' tall. Again, this takes equipment. And, like food preservation, best learned from someone else. In my case, I have 1-32" gas saw, 1-24" and 2-16" ones. I also have 2-16" and 1-6" electric saws. I also have mauls, wedges and a 30 ton gas powered splitter. Oh yea, I also have two man saws and bow saws...just in case.

Wood working - This could or couldn't be an important thing. I like wood working and have a lot of old time hand tools.

Misc. - Here I'm thinking of things like welding. I have a arc and gas welders. I'm not too good because I don't practice and only weld now and then.

This is getting long so I'll quit. My point is that you should be able to build or repair anything of importance. This requires you to have the tools and, at least, some books to lead you one your way. Here's another personal example: We have an old propane clothes dryer. It quit working some years ago and we had to have a repair guy come out. I watched him and asked questions about what he was doing - repairing the ignitor as it turned out. Since that time the same problem has occurred several times...but now I can repair it myself.

Hope some of this helps.


Hi Todd,

Thanks for posting this. I wonder if you could expand (if you want) and write up as an article?

I'm also a fan of skill sets that cover listening, mediation, and communication. Some examples:

http://www.transformativemediation.org/, www.cnvc.org, www.newconversations.net.


Actually Nate contacted my a month or two ago when there was talk of having a "TOD Campfire" on some week ends. I sent him a sample but have never heard back from him. So, who knows.

FWIW, the article was entitled A Trip to Todd's and it covered a variety of topics in a Q&A format.


Hi Todd,

Great. Too bad Nate didn't get back to you (or, hasn't yet), but maybe send to one of the other editors or to Gail? Perhaps she can forward it or make a suggestion.

Also, Bart at www.energybulletin.net is interested in publishing original work - and yours definitely fits.

.22LR ammo:
Cheap, meaning tradable in small units,
Long-lasting, maybe for centuries if kept cool and dry,
Non-substitutable, because it can't be reloaded, and
Universal in its application and utility.

I just bought a few of these for recent wedding gifts.

http://store.sundancesolar.com/unsobachwime.html $24.95

I'm going to make a wooden box for each that will support them on the windowsill, as well as have 'hoppers' for both uncharged and charged batteries. Hardest part of really taking advantage of rechargables is having an organized 'workplace' for them to come and go and remain sorted in. If you really wanted to go all out, you might incorporate a separate battery tester, too. (and perhaps a supply of decent AA and AAA cells.)


Here is their page with a few other models ...

IMO window-sill solar battery chargers are a bad idea, since it keeps the batteries in a hot spot which shortens their life. (People are likely to leave the batteries there before, and even after, they are charged.) Also, charging with a small solar panel is very slow, which would discourage use of the rechargeable batteries.

Rechargable batteries with a small, smart, non-solar charger instead would be a great gift.

LED headlamps (without a crank) are also great. Can use with rechargable batteries.

Most crank lamps have a battery inside which will probably die in a couple of years, and most people wouldn't know how to fix them.

The heat certainly could be an issue, but it can also be remedied with shadowing and venting with the window... If I were to commit a more permanent setup, the panel would be mounted on an adjustable arm outside, and the charger and batt storage unit on the wall. Just the same, I think it's a very useful tool which can keep portable power available to you without any other equipment.

The plug-in 'smart chargers' I've seen on the market have all been 'battery fryers'.. I suppose there are good ones, but I would rather show how self-contained this technology is. Batteries are charged in a day or two, and if there's a place to put Ready batts and people know that heat will harm them, I don't think learning some good management/maintenance habits is all that difficult. It's good practise, and might be presented that way.


is the "smart" charger needed?

i have a slow 24 hr. plugin charger. i have not found a consensus on charger & battery care.

i ask because i have had some batteries ni mh fail recently. everready did replace.

i know enloops are recommended.

What about a crank-powered laptop?

I linked to this in yesterday's DB too, but I couldn't resist here. :)

The image of the OLPC (one laptop per child), which is a non-profit laptop designed for the third-world. It does indeed have some sort of hand-powered battery charger, although they replaced the crank with some kind of pulley system. I don't think it's currently available for sale in the U.S. though.

These things are good in that they only use 2 or 3 watts, which is nothing. Easily powered by solar/crank (renewable in general). Only trouble is, how are you going to get onto the internet if the power's out? Keep a usb modem handy too, the phone lines should be the last thing to go probably, good old dial-up networking is a nice fallback to have available.

"how are you going to get onto the internet if the power's out?"

By an ad-hock peer network? That is how OLPC choosed to do that.

Now, if no reachable laptop has an internet route, you'll be stucked into the local (city-wide) net.

There is a potential problem with those crank powered radios. They get AM/FM, NOAA Weather radio and VHF TV audio. The best reception is on the TV stations, but come February when TV goes to digital broadcasting, they will no longer be able to pick up TV audio unless they are redesigned. I haven't heard that this is being done.

There are other models that include one or two shortwave bands. To my way of thinking, that is more valuable to have. If we ever have something like martial law, the media and the internet might be censored, and international shortwave broadcasts might be the only way to find out what is really going on.

I have several ham rigs that I once used. I need to reset my antennas and get back on the air. I think the net will cease to be in the future and battery/solar powered amateur radio rigs might be the only real way to communicate over large distances.

I also work on many VHF Ag radios and keep them running. They are battery powered and most all farmers use this to keep in touch out in the fields and there abouts. Again usable with 12vDC. Small antennas.

I have been a ham since I was a Boy Scout. I can send fair code if need be and one of my rigs can do all kinds of networking via packet.



Just a note on censorhip, martial law and the internet.

Excerpts from recent broadcasts of www.democracynow.org.


China Accused of Internet Censorship Ahead of Olympics

China is being accused of censoring the internet ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games. Journalists working at the main press facility in Beijing have been blocked from accessing the websites of several organizations critical of China, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders as well as the religious organization Falun Gong. Earlier this week, Amnesty accused China of failing to honor its human rights pledges by jailing several high-profile dissidents and attorneys.

ACLU Warns About Growing Network of Fusion Centers
The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a new warning about the growing network of fusion centers, where federal, state and local law enforcement officers collect and analyze information about potential threats. The ACLU warned that many local and state police agencies are expanding their intelligence gathering with little oversight. *Many of these fusion centers collect reports not just on crimes but suspicious activity.*

About fifty-eight fusion centers are currently operating in cities across the country.

Books and magazines on "how to" subjects.
Sewing, quilting, stained glass, wood working, metal working, metal casting, homebuilt electronics, archeology, astronomy, camp cooking, green house construction/operation, gardening, small farming, livestock raising (chickens, sheep, goats, {mineature} cattle), wind/solar power, etc....
Tools and supplies for any of the above crafts/hobbies/survival technology.

Books and magazines on "how to" subjects.

"Give a man a fish" versus "teach a man to fish." The gift that keeps giving.

A wood gas stove, about $50, is an interesting gadget for camping and emergency use. They are a little bulkier and heavier than butane and liquid fuel stoves, so they aren't for the person who wants to cut his pack weight down to the bare minimum.

Unless you consider the weight of the fuel for the non-wood stoves...

Anyone have ideas for post oil age preparation gifts?

An occassional poster here: Greg Baka, runs a web business called Easy Digging. I got our Community Garden to order several of his tools. THEY ARE EXCELLENT.

If you have a gardener on your list, Greg's digging tools are a wonderful gift. You cannot buy these tools in a hardware stores. We bought the Grape Hoes and the 6 inch digging hoes. I can't say enough good things about them. They have long handles, excellent leverage. I've retired my tiller.

Although I haven't tried it, I'm jonesing for the 3 prong digging hoe
(removes wire grasses).

I got me one of those 6" grub hoes (aka an "azada") from them. Great price, great service, and a fantastically useful tool.

Aww, now you're making me blush :-)

The feedback from people who have gotten their hands on these Grub Hoe and Grape Hoe tools has been fantastic. I wanted to create a business that would provide something truly useful in our rapidly changing world, and so far EasyDigging is suceeding in doing that. I've even heard from some people using them for small-scale market farming - no fossil fuel motors at all!

You can see all the tools at http://www.easydigging.com/ If anybody knows of other hand tools for gardening or excavating that just are not readily available here anymore, please let me know - maybe I can still find them produced somewhere and add them to the collection.

Greg in MO


I've been telling all my gardening friends about my azada. I let 'em try it out on some ditches I'm making (free labor - sort of like Tom Sawyer and white-washing the fence ;-)

It's hard to believe how much you can accomplish in not so much time. Digging potato trenches, re-edging my raised beds, cleaning out drainage ditches, etc. I won't say it was actually fun doing the work, but almost ;-)

If anyone gets one, the key to easy going is to keep it sharp... it's a cutting tool as well as an earth-moving tool.

Greg, I thank you, and my back thanks you, for making these tools available...

Between the 4" grub hoe, 6" grub hoe, and the grape hoe, which one would you say is most useful. In other words, if I only want to buy one, which one should it be? I'm leaning towards the grape hoe. This would be for general gardening, maybe some raised beds and flower beds. I already have a pick that I used to break up the soil.

I have the 6". You can actually be pretty precise with it. I would recommend it over the 4" - it's just more versatile.

I also have the 6" azada, and second all the other comments on this thread. It is a powerful, well-designed tool. My understanding is that there are people in Brazil who clear and cultivate land with not much more than an azada and a machete. If I had to limit myself to just ONE garden tool and had to rely on it for my survival, my azada would be it.

Between the 4" grub hoe, 6" grub hoe, and the grape hoe, which one would you say is most useful.

Depends on what you want to do...

The 6" grub hoe is an excellent trench digger and cultivating tool, meaning you can reduce soil clumps to smaller size.

The grape hoe is two things. It is a heavy draw hoe and can be used to slice weeds sub-surface. It can be also be used to move dirt, leaves and compost around the garden. It this function it is better than a rake.

I do not go into the garden without both. Moving material easily is a key part of gardening. With the grape hoe you can move stuff WITHOUT PICKING IT UP. That's a key benefit.

I like the tools because they allow me to install beds and planting stations very precisely. The less soil you disturb, the less weeds you have, the less water you use...

I don't have the 4" grubber. If I did, I'd use it to lay irrigation hose and to make side dressing trenches (for fertilizer).

Don't order one tool. You can't leverage the shipping. Order 2 or 3. You will not be disappointed.

Loved your site but I have a question. What about rocks?

I live in the outwash plain of the glacial Lake Missoula...every few thousand years during the last ice age, the glacial dam would break and rage across the countryside. I have the coarse fraction of the glacial deluge as "soil"; pebble to cobble to boulder-size rocks with an "intersticea" of sandy silt to bind them all together. So does the grape hoe/6 inch hoe hold up with impacts or will I be filing and sharpening nonstop?

Rocky soil is tough on any digging tools. So you will indeed need to sharpen more often than somebody working clean loam soil, but that doesn't really mean nonstop sharpening. Working in my loam soil I just quickly run the file over the blade a couple of swipes every half hour or so (during my breaks). Takes about 20 seconds.

In rocky soil that might increase to double the swipes, or 40 seconds.

The large Pointed Hoe is also good for tilling rocky soils as it tends to steer around the rocks it encounters as it enters the ground. Gets in a bit deeper that way.

For real heavy-duty rock cracking check out the Picks and Mattock.

Greg in MO

Thanks Greg.

Right now it takes a dig bar and shovel at about equal parts to dig a hole. Mostly I build soil "up" by deep-mulching the chicken tractors and adding compost and composted humanure, but for trenching for water lines and grubbing out Siberian elms your hoes look worth a try.

I live in New Hampshire, and we know something about rocks up here :-/

The hoe holds up quite well, but if you want to cleanly chop through roots and such after banging off the rocks for a while, yes, you'll need to sharpen up. It's neither hard nor time-consuming - just a simple flat file and a couple of minutes is all you need.

It's not called "The Granite State" for nothing :)

You got that right!


All these tools look like they wouldn't be too difficult for blacksmith to make.

I used to have a lot of anvils and forges but let them go at the last farm auction. Perhaps a bad decision.

I have a line on one good anvil and will have to make my own forge to get back to smithing. Also will have to learn to make my own charcoal as smithing coal is not that easy to find anymore. Part of why I let my stuff go at the auction.

I have access to huge amounts of scrap steel and good carbon steel. Junked old farming equipment is still around but getting harder to find. I never let any go. Some are letting others haul them off for free!!!!!



Investment grade Gold in small enough quantities to be easy to trade WTSHTF.


No VAT in the UK.

The gift that keeps on giving.

A subscription to a local CSA.


Support local food production.

I'd love something like that as a gift, but around here at least, it costs way more than his $200 limit. About $500.

Leanan - You should ask if they or other small farmers like from the farmers market will provide entry level veg baskets where they put together an assortment in quantities for single person, 2, 4, or multi family.

You might have to pick up or agree on a drop off point.

I give space in my walk-in for several growers to drop off for folks in the area.

White Box stove would be an excellent gift. I bought
one for $20.00 and made a few more just to exercise my


Heres a video of one working....


Weekly NG storage report:

Working gas in storage was 2,461 Bcf as of Friday, July 25, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 65 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 357 Bcf less than last year at this time and 12 Bcf below the 5-year average of 2,473 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 5 Bcf above the 5-year average following net injections of 55 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 12 Bcf below the 5-year average of 764 Bcf no net change in stock levels. Stocks in the West Region were 5 Bcf below the 5-year average after a net addition of 10 Bcf. At 2,461 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

Some news on the biofuels front:

Large Field Trial Shows Miscanthus Could Meet US Biofuels Goals With Less Land

Researchers at the University of Illinois have concluded that the perennial grass Miscanthus×giganteus could produce enough ethanol to offset 20% of current US gasoline use, while requiring 9.3% of current agricultural acreage. By contrast, using corn or switchgrass to produce the same amount would require 25% of current US cropland.

The findings come from side-by-side trials of Miscanthus and switchgrass established for the first time along a latitudinal gradient in Illinois.

Data: Pretty impressive.

Some additional coverage:

In the tall grass, researchers find energy alternative

A perennial grass that grows as tall as 13 feet, requires little to no fertilizer, and can be stored away in bales almost indefinitely could be the next hope for efficient ethanol production.

It probably doesn't require inputs like fertilizer 'cos it isn't normally harvested as a crop year after year forever.

BTW does anybody know ... if something like miscanthus is burned, are the ashes soluble in water?

Any nutrients (and there must be some) taken up by the grass to allow it to grow were soluble and that is what would need to be replaced in the ground to make this a viable system.

Can you please explain to us, how a plant can grow on a specific soil, be removed from the soil (most of the stalk/leaves) from the land and somehow one can repeat that ad infinitum WITHOUT fertilizers or other nutrient inputs into the soil?

Soil needs to replenish, either it's plant biomass going back into the soil in the same amount that was removed or it is specific fertilizer (compost matter, animal dung, chemical fertilizers, or other type of biomass).

This is a basic physical fact: matter in - matter out. No matter in -> after a while, no matter out. Yes, energy (sun light) matters, but that doesn't synthesize P & K for the plants at the rate of plant biomass removal.

Think building blocks. You have a sandbox full of legos or other building blocks. You can build new toys out of the blocks. However, if you constantly remove the built toys from the sandbox, after a while you run out of legos.

Why is it so hard to understand?

Even the USA is full of example of soil degradation / depletion due to overproduction and not enough material going back into the soil.

Conversion of grasses to a liquid fuel is a silly idea.
For environmental reasons we need to stop using coal so why not use these grasses as well as other biomass to generate electricity? With IGCC technology the US could easily produce enough surplus biomass to replace all the coal we now use. No new bioengineered bugs or exotic catalysts needed.

These corn alternatives completely ignore the infrastructure required to produce ethanol on a large scale. They also ignore the economics and quality control issues.

What is the market price of these grasses? Who knows.

What are the test weights and moisture content requirements? Who knows.

What are the new storage and equipment requirements? Who knows.

Corn has these metrics as standard and readily available. No farmer in his right mind is going to switch to an untried, one use crop with no infrastructure or market price. These searches for alternatives to corn are pointless and based on the idea that animal feed is somehow sacrosanct. It is not.

If we need more corn for ethanol kill the the hogs, shut down the stinkin' hog factories. If that isn't enough, kill some chickens too and shut down some smelly chicken/egg factories. Save the cows for now since they can eat the grass that is supposedly so much better than corn to produce meat and milk.

Cows are the best and cheapest grass harvesters. They can work on steep hills and under trees even. No machine can harvest grass better or cheaper than a cow.

If that all doesn't leave enough corn for ethanol, shut down corn exports which are another huge waste of energy. Transporting a low value commodity like corn half way around the globe to use for animal feed can not survive for long in the post Peak Oil world we are facing.

Step 1 to a rational energy policy:

Eliminate the $.51/gallon subsidy for corn ethanol.


OR, eliminate the $32 Billion Oil Subsidies.

Or, add a "user fee" to the cost of imported oil to pay for a large fraction of our military budget. We all should know by now that most of our military budget goes to keep the oil flowing to the U.S. from other countries. So, lets apply a user fee of, say, $300B to that 11.7 million bbls of crude plus products we import every day. That works out to about $1.67 per gallon of oil, if I've done the math correctly.

E. Swanson

AND, not "OR".

No national energy policy with corn ethanol subsidies is logical. Money wasted. Food wasted (I do like pork & chicken in moderation).


OR, eliminate the $32 Billion Oil Subsidies.

Even if true, that analysis covered 5 years. We are using 200 billion gallons of oil per year. That boils down to about 3 cents a gallon, versus $0.51 for ethanol.

I think it's pretty likely that any "Grass" cultivation will take place in the South on Marginal land. Even there, it's going to be hard to get started. It'll be a Slooow start, m'thinks.

The apologists forget that corn based ethanol has little if any energy return. If you want to produce biofuel corn is the worst possible choice. That's why the whole thing is just a way of subsidising farmers.

Hello TODers,

Are you just dying to run, then hug your bag of NPK today? :(

Farmer killed in stampede during fertiliser sale

..The police said the stampede occurred when a large number of farmers were jostling to collect fertilisers being sold by the authorities.

The farmers in the State have been protesting against shortage of fertilisers and seeds for the last few days. The farmers' associations and opposition parties alleged that the State government failed to supply adequate quantity of fertilisers and seeds though the sowing operations began last month.

Run for fertilisers proves fatal for farmers
Yikes! Don't you think we need to get serious about O-NPK recycling?
Or, are we just going to wait until we have I-NPK stampedes and riots in the Gardening sections of Lowes and Home Depot?

Reminds me of the crazy, worried looks on people's faces during the days of the Johnny Carson toilet paper shortage.

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

Totally unrelated to any of the Drumbeat items (sorry Leanan!) but I don't know where else to post this.

I've just moved into a flat (SW England) which has a small garden and as part of my (so far pretty ineffectual) PO preparartions, I'm hoping to set up a system to compost my kitchen waste for use in fruit and vegetable cultivation. I've looked at Wormery systems which use Red Tiger Worms (Eisenia andrei) or Dendrobaena Worms (Eisenia Hortensis). Does anyone have any experience using these systems? Are they any better than an ordinary compost bin?

Thanks. :)

My wife and I used a worm-bin in a flat in Brooklyn. Don't know what species of worm we had, but we could have done some serious fishing and gardening with the amount of worms and soil we were producing. Smell was not a big issue, and you just have to be able to offload the products (above) into gardens or whatnot. Moisture control is important, and the kind of bin and lid will have an effect on 'escapees'.

It's not long before you start seeing worms as cute. There might be social side-effects.

I never found out if there are good recipes for 'worm'.. but I was certainly also aware that there was a big bucket of 'meat' in the house, if things got really dicey.


Worms are the perfect creature. They do nothing but good. I tried raising them in styrofoam coolers. The only problem is they tend to migrate. To mate they have to be the same length, but are asexual. I fed them cornmeal.

I thought the annelids were androgynous, not asexual.

The wonders of google:

Reproduction is sexual or asexual. Asexual reproduction is by fragmentation, budding, or fission. Among sexually reproducing annelids hermaphrodites are common, but most species have separate sexes. Fertilized eggs of marine annelids usually develop into free-swimming larvae. Eggs of terrestrial forms are enclosed in cocoons and hatch as miniature versions of the adults. The ability to regenerate lost body parts is highly developed in many polychaetes and digochaetes.


The key for worms is to remember they are aerobic and they live not off your scraps, but off the bacteria of the food scraps. Thus most activity happens within 6 inches of the top.

EH's perfer a more fungal diet - with fungi being what you
get in a cardboard/leaf litter environment.

Worm digest is one of the longest lasting sites.

And if worm rasing advice comes from Clive Edwards...believe it.

Thanks for all the tips. I'll give it a go and see how it works. Anything's got to be better than tipping valuable food waste in the bin!

There is a product called 'natures mill' - it uses heat and mixing to process waste. Might be a better choice for ppl who don't want worms.

Los Angleles utility wary of California's emission strategy

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a storied place in California history.

Its water grabs drained an eastern Sierra lake to make modern-day Los Angeles possible, and its backroom maneuvering to secure more water was the subject of the Roman Polanski film "Chinatown." At the start of the decade, it became one of the unlikely profiteers during the state's energy crisis.

Today, the nation's largest municipal utility is back in the spotlight, and this time the tables have turned: It may end up on the losing end of California's attempt to implement its landmark law to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

That planned "green" community in Boulder is a joke.

The designers have completely missed three important tenets of New Urbanism:

1) Mixed-use: There are some weak statements about live/work multilevels, but that is just not enough.

2) Density: This is still primarily a community of single-family homes. Far too much space is wasted on energy intensive lawns.

3) Walkability: Unless I'm missing something the vast majority of residents will still need cars to get to work and the store. That will basically nullify any benefits of the green band-aids that are being hyped by the developer.

On the one hand, Boulder has always been a city of appearances rather than actuality. We saw that there as one of the very few racially diverse families in a city that talks all the time about equality and diversity, while being 99% rich white families. You can qualify for some assistance programs if you make less than about $80K though, as I recall.

On the other hand, lots of people in Boulder bike to work and walk to the stores, especially in the older non-rebuilt parts of town. Given building constraints, it's not unusual for decent 50's houses (selling for $1M) to be torn down to make room for a new house (worth $2M).

Boulder is definitely a liberal but individualistic town. Many homes are heavily xerascaped, while others have nice lawns. It is heavily single-family, beyond the campus areas. I imagine that will change someday, but probably not in Boulder proper. It's a highly inflated microcosm, a test-bed community of sorts but with all sorts of discontinuities and contradictions. I once heard that every self-proclaimed hippie spent some time there, and that's about half the influence, with money and affluence being the other half.

Definitely a place where everybody talks the talk, and even a few walk the walk.

Disclosure: I worked there, but didn't live there. I was in the "cheap" neighborhoods nearer Denver. Conservatives don't feel welcome in Boulder anyway......

This obsession with getting rid of cars is akin to a religious belief-it has absolutely nothing to do with global oil depletion. The only effect on auto usage casused by oil depletion will be on the long commute-you can drive your car to the store and back every day if you want even at $15 a gallon, easily as the ave mpg moves up to 40. Drivers in the USA are going to be using maybe 150 gallons a year and getting around quite easily.

True in the short term, but all those roads that the cars drive on need maintenence, and that isn't done by muscle power. Bike paths and sidewalks can accomodate the same number of humans in a lot less space than roads, and the wear and tear is far less.

Yes, but as long as Americans have any money they will be spending it on cars-if the roads get really bad, more rugged autos will be prized.

Try hitting a nice sized pothole at 40MPH in a "rugged" auto.

I have owned a rugged auto and I can tell you.. even rugged autos break axles if they aren't driven carefully.

You go slow in rugged autos if you want to get there in one piece.

After 15 years, an unmaintained road is going to have more than a few minor pot holes.

Think fallen trees on blind curves.

Try hitting a nice sized pothole at 40MPH in a "rugged" auto

One of several reasons that I like my 1982 M-B 240D with manual transmission :-)


I have an '83 240 D in perfect condition

A wonderful machine

Are there any streets in NO long enough to let you get up to 40mph?

With proper planning, I can gather enough momentum to exceed the speed limits (25 mph regular streets, 35 mph for streets with neutral grounds :-)


First, most auto travel is for purposes other than commuting. About seventy-five percent of vehicle miles are for activities like shopping, personal business and services, socializing, church, medical, and recreation.

Sure, people can cut back and travel less, but that diminishes quality of life. We all want more access to our activities, not less. Being able to do that without total dependence on cars is a big advantage of walkable and transit oriented neighborhoods.

Second, there's a lot more to it than personal travel. As peak oil continues to push up oil prices, systemic effects will become more evident.

Essential services like police, fire, ambulance, utility maintenance, road maintenance, mail delivery, trash pickup and school buses will be very expensive to provide to low density areas. Many localities are already strapped for cash and will have difficulty affording even a basic level in low density areas. It's simply a matter of travel distances adding up on a daily basis.

There will be impacts on the commercial and industrial sectors. Shipping goods to most suburban retail locations will become less economical. The commercial establishments that are close to rail terminals and water freight docks will be better able to manage the costs of receiving shipments, while others will struggle. Cities that are lucky enough to have transit systems, especially streetcars, may be able to convert some of their rolling stock for delivery and solid waste transport. Like retail, more manufacturing operations will attempt to relocate at rail heads and near freight docks.

Hybrids, EVs and alternative fuels will help, but likely will not be 100% replacements for gasoline/diesel engine vehicles. Lots of plastics, lubricants, synthetic rubber, asphalt and other oil-derived materials are necessary to keep motor vehicles operating. It will become more difficult to keep travel & freight patterns maintained in their current configurations. And when those change, we won't see the auto-oriented suburban development industry & economy growing like they did over the past 30-40 years.

Actually the "obsession with getting rid of cars" is quite well thought out. Others' obsession with keeping them going is akin to a religious belief if anything is.

The fact is, we can't afford to keep our massive FF based transportation infrastructure running at the current operating levels.

Also, as people move towards higher density living situations, driving a car will become increasingly inconvenient as there will be bicyclists and pedestrians in the way especially as our sidewalks typically aren't built to contain large numbers of people.

Of course there will always be cars but there will probably not be single person commuting (or even shopping trips) for the masses. The affects of Resource Nationalization and Export Land Model will push prices to astronomical levels. This will be further exacerbated when our currency collapses.

I understand your opinion but the opposite conclusion has quite a bit of evidence to support it. I don't think the comparison to an irrational religious belief is warranted.

It is basic math. If you do not drive the extremely high number of miles per annum that a long commute requires, gasoline expense is not an issue. Cars are not going anywhere-anyone that thinks they are is voicing a religious belief, not a logical line of reasoning. The suburban areas in which a long commute is necessary will generally decline and the urban/closer suburban areas will continue to be jammed with autos. Using a car for short trips (under 10 miles) is convenient and uses very little gasoline. Here in Toronto, one fare on the TTC costs as much as the gasoline for a 12 mile trip.

If you do not drive the extremely high number of miles per annum that a long commute requires, gasoline expense is not an issue.

True...but if you aren't driving long distances, it's not really worth having a car. If cars were free, your argument would hold. But cars aren't free.

Cars started out as basically toys, and the use you are describing is more like that than like something an average person would waste their money on.

Leanan: Cars were never free. Oil depletion and the rising cost of gasoline are simply not a problem for urban/inner suburban drivers. As for a car being a toy, I don't know what you would term mass transit-often it is a toy that doesn't work when you need it. Re the lack of long distance driving, your car lasts longer if you are logging e.g. 6000 miles per year-you might be able to hold it together for 15 years, which lowers your capital costs considerably.

Of course cars were never free. That's basically the point. They're expensive now, and will become more so. Eventually, it will reach the point where the costs outweigh the benefits.

Many urban people do not have cars for precisely that reason. The costs are higher (insurance, congestion, lack of parking, etc.), and the benefits smaller (since you can get where you need to go via public transportation or walking).

Re the lack of long distance driving, your car lasts longer if you are logging e.g. 6000 miles per year-you might be able to hold it together for 15 years, which lowers your capital costs considerably.

I'm not expecting cars to disappear tomorrow. But in 15 years...you may not buy a new one. Not worth the cost, if you don't drive much. It's not necessarily that you can't afford $30,000 for a new car (though that might be true as well). It's that you have better things to do with that money, given the amount you would use a car.

Leanan: My original point is that everything you have mentioned has absolutely nothing to do with oil depletion. Gasoline prices are not a problem for urban/inner suburban drivers. The congestion you mention is caused by all the other cars on the road, which is exactly my point-the cars aren't going anywhere. Urban and inner suburban areas jammed with cars, exurban and outer suburban areas almost deserted looks most likely at this point.

My original point is that everything you have mentioned has absolutely nothing to do with oil depletion.

Disagree. People have cars now because they need them. They need them because our infrastructure was built around cheap oil. People who are living old cities like Boston often don't have cars...because they're living with infrastructure built before the age of oil.

The congestion you mention is caused by all the other cars on the road, which is exactly my point-the cars aren't going anywhere.

The congestion isn't just cars. Pedestrians, bikes, etc., will slow you down as much as other cars.

Leanan: Oil usage in the 1960s was just a fraction of today's amount. All those suburbs built in the 1960s are still viable with oil depletion, at least in the medium term-there is no necessity to immediately jump back to Victorian England or colonial times.

Oil usage in the 1960s was just a fraction of today's amount.

And the population was almost half the size of the current population.

at least in the medium term-there is no necessity to immediately jump back to Victorian England or colonial times.

Nobody said it was.

In my world, if I spend $300 to fill the car with gas (at the hypothetical $15/gallon)

a) I won't be able to afford groceries and

b) if I could, I certainly wouldn't use $15 gas to go get them.

So I think whether or not there are cars is a moot point, there will be much bigger things to worry about once things get that expensive. Perhaps that's what you've been trying to say all along, I dunno.

BTW, where I live, we don't have mass transit, but we do have some sidewalks.

Ben: In your world, if your vehicle gets 40 mpg, and gas costs $15/gallon, the nearest grocery store is at least 20 miles from your house, costing $15 in fuel to get them. Yes, your location would have a problem, and it is going to be a long walk along those sidewalks (maybe 13 hours there and back to get your groceries). Lots of engineers on this site, but basic math seems to be a challenge.

I should have stated it more clearly; I don't mean that I live 20 miles from the store; I mean "$15 gas" as opposed to "$4 gas." It's just a label.

My point is the gas would be too precious to use just shopping for groceries.

This still doesn't touch on the fact that if fuel costs $15 a gallon, there won't be affordable groceries anyway.

If you live a mile from the store, it would cost you 75 cents in fuel to go get your $400 worth of groceries. Seriously, what is this discussion about anyway? You win.

The Geos Neighborhood makes a lot of claims for sustainability.

The developer says, "It is Colorado's first sustainable, integrated community where energy from the Earth and the Sun replaces all fossil fuels. Here, you live in harmony with the Earth, nurtured by the Sun, in a Home that embraces the environment and those that live here," and "Applying the best practices of New Urbanism, this low-impact community overlooks nothing."

The Boulder Green Building Journal says Geos "goes beyond green design and New Urbanism to define a new cutting edge for neighborhood design."

In terms of energy used within houses, Geos really is cutting edge. It is the nation's largest development of net-zero energy homes. In addition it uses green stormwater/drainage and water-saving designs, and provides community gardens.

For retail within walking distance, Geos will have a few small shops like coffee shops and some live-work. In terms of location, external connectivity, and proximity to schools, transit, jobs, services and entertainment, Geos is maybe 95% auto-dependent. There seems to be a disconnect, unless I am missing something.

I did a quick look at Geos, and from what I can tell the neighborhood is well outside Boulder, and closer to Arvada (which is where I lived).

There is bus service through there to Arvada and on to Denver, a huge mall and business park just a few miles away as well, a highway park-and-ride not too far away for other bus options, and popular biking areas to open space a few miles toward the mountains. There are community centers, grocery stores, schools, and other amenities quite close as well.

It may not be perfect, but it's probably an island of reasonably low-energy life in a sprawling metropolis. The key would be to have a nearby job (or work-at-home) and avoid the daily commute to Boulder or the tech-center downtown. The area is quite bike friendly, but it's a long uphill ride to Boulder.

On the other hand, it would be easy to have a 40 mile per day commute for dad, 10 mile round-trip to the private school for the kids, and routine trips to downtown Denver for doc visits, specialty retail, and entertainment. It's easy to drive 30K per year while living in-town there.

The community *isn't* in Boulder, it is in Arvada, about 15 miles south.

A community like that couldn't be built at that price point ($2-500K) in Boulder. Even a shack, and I mean a shack, in Boulder now goes for $400K within walking distance of downtown. No new houses within walking distance for under a million.

Boulder has plenty of high density housing being developed, but the density is limited by height restrictions. So be it.

I personally think any new housing built with energy saving principles is better than 99% of the other crap they build around the Denver area. I haven't seen a tract house built here in the last 20 years that I would spend a dime on. I could build a more efficient shelter out of cardboard and duct tape than what a lot of these houses are.

The Denver/Boulder area is typical in that most of the work environments are primarily designed for car access. Riding a bike is possible to many, but not all, and walking is very dicey to impossible to some of the places. Where this development is located there are very few employment possibilities nearby. Definitely a bedroom community. However, there are a couple of grocery stores within walking distance.

If you're referring to the Geos Neighborhood, it's being built in Arvada, not Boulder (the builder is in Boulder). Believe me, anything like this in Arvada is a step in the right direction! It may not be perfect from a peak-oil or environmental perspective but it beats all the existing housing hollow, with very few exceptions. Think of it as transitional..........:)

(Great)Game over?

Russia takes control of Turkmen (world?) gas
By M K Bhadrakumar

From the details coming out of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and Moscow over the weekend, it is apparent that the great game over Caspian energy has taken a dramatic turn. In the geopolitics of energy security, nothing like this has happened before. The United States has suffered a huge defeat in the race for Caspian gas. The question now is how much longer Washington could afford to keep Iran out of the energy market.


In other words, plain money-making was not the motivation for Gazprom. The Kremlin has a grand strategy.

Isn't it the president of Gazprom who has recently been making these extremely hawkish statements in regards to energy pricing, such as predicting $250 a barrel oil by next year, etc?

Could it be that Russia may now join Venezuela and Iran in becoming one of the price hawks?

Certainly controlling this extra natural gas--having the power to decide whether it flows or doesn't flow, and where it flows--gives Russia extra leverage.

If so, watch out! As #1 or #2 oil producer, plus #1 in natural gas, Russia could exert tremendous upward pressure on world energy prices if it were a mind to.

I find it amusing that this story isn't HUGE.

Remember back in 2001 when Caspian Oil/Gas was the NEXT BIG THING?

Now Russia has a total lock on it.

So much for the Trans-Afghanistan (Turkmenistan to Gwader) gas pipeline.
This is after India and Pakistan signed agreements to buy the Turkmen gas.

Putin outsmarted Bush - no one could have predicted that :)

Yeah - saw this too. I remember reading somewhere a while back - WSJ? Economist? -- that Putin had done some think-tank work in the years before his rise to power but after the USSR collapsed that focused on rebuilding Russian power around natural-resource mercantilism. Cornering the Central Asian gas market no doubt plays into that plan.

Russia goes through these cycles of expansion and collapse - a big theme in very early Russian history was the 'gathering in' of Russian land by the early Muscovite Tsars after the collapse of Kievan Rus. No doubt Putin is likely viewing his 'gathering in' of Soviet lands in the same light - and, to me, the West's demonization of Putin is both shortsighted and counterproductive. Yes, he is not going to allow access to Russia's natural resource goodies for next to nothing, but, on the other hand, do we really want a weak Russia bordering a growing and resource-hungry China? In the long run, I think the Russian leadership will see the West as a far less dangerous strategic partner than the Chinese. If Russia is invaded again, it'll come from the East, not the West.

I don't agree that Russia will see the US & the UK as less dangerous in the long run. The US is the one who has been on a course to weaponize space since the 70's. We're the ones breaking the spirit of the test ban treaty. We're the ones playing policeman and conqueror. The UK has come along for the ride.

Actually I think all these power plays are largely irrelevant. "United States", "China", and "Russia" are just labels at this point. It's the banking money and old money behind the worlds largest corporations who are calling the shots. What is really going on is the largest transfer of wealth in the worlds history. It is coming from many different avenues and people seem to intuitively sense they are being screwed. The only question is who is responsible, but that's not something that the majority will understand before it's too late.

Yup - but, in the end, I'm afraid the Russians will look at us and say. 'Yes, but they are White, European, Christian, there are fewer of them, they are divided, and they don't have the stomach to fight anymore.' How the Russians identify themselves will be key in their turn to the West - are they 'Europeans' or 'Asians'?

Has Peak Oil theory peaked? Next on CNBC 11:32 EST

Interesting, Simmons says: "There is no proof whatsoever that Saudi Arabia is producing at claimed levels - it doesn't show up" - but we're taking it at face value.

Or to put it another way - we've already fallen off the plateau folks and that's why the price has shot up so significantly in the last year. But OPEC are lying about it. What on earth did anyone expect them to do?

Seems "record setting profits" aren't enough.

CNN Money headline: 'Exxon disappoints.'

Those stupid headlines are irritating-these profits are not that impressive, given the market cap of XOM and the dimming future prospects.

My dyslexic mind just tried to write a small bit about contractors and fighting fire here in Nor Cal.
Trust me, this is disaster capitalizum
"Go slow, let it grow"
if you could see this with your own eyes, you would know why it relates to energy and our future.

If you have links, I would appreciate them.

Hadn't really considered the disaster capitalism aspect of forest fire.

The west is burning along this summer, as predicted by the wetter winter and spring. Just took awhile longer to dry out this year. One local fire consumed 13 McMansions in a gated community. Fence wasn't THAT tight. Newspaper photos showed SUV's nearly melted in place around now oblong wheels.

One local fire consumed 13 McMansions in a gated community.

Hi Doug Fir...that fire wouldn't happen to be the Dishman Hills fire in Spokane Valley would it?

Yes. The original story I read listed 13, it appears now it is 11 in later news reports. From the reports and maps, one of the more amazing things about this wildfire was it's location-within a few miles of urban Spokane Valley and hence to excellent fire fighting resources. It burned nearly 1000 very expensive acres.


Do You live in the area? It was just a few mikes away from me! We were well smoked. The fire missed all the trailers and little old houses like mine; maybe Pele hates McMansions.

No, but Spokane news is across the inland northwest. As an aside, until about 1975, the three cities of the inland northwest, Boise, Great Falls and Spokane, were the same size, all with good rail, an airport, both local industry and hubs for adjacent natural resources. They all had a large Air Force base and were "pegged" for growth. The question was who was to be first. Seems Boise won, but Spokane is now ripping along.

Another 6 or so weeks up here to test your Pele hypothesis. We might, maybe, squeeze by. At least it's been pretty cool recently, with a low last night of 38.

sorry no links, just what I'm witnessing. miles of brand new f-350's with incredible equipment on board. My garden is adjacent to our local run way, 7-12 helicopters just sitting there. I've been here most of my 40 years and have never seen it like this. There is some real money to be made here, I bleepin weep

"What is going to power our cars?"

Here is a blog entry talking about Tata's air-car plans in India. He says that 6000 cars will be introduced by August 2009.

Why is Tata interested in the MDI air technology?

I think that the answer is its extreme simplicity. There are some compressed air tanks, some valves, and a piston engine with a transmission. Any third-world car mechanic would understand this thing in five minutes.

As for generating compressed air, there are several methods available.

Here is a hydro-air plant that has been operating since 1910:

Ragged Chute Air Plant

If you don't have water, but have lots of sunlight instead, a parabolic dish with Stirling engine could run an air compressor:

Stirling Engine Heat Sources

Note that neither of these solutions involves electricity.

For much of the world, simple solutions based on 19th century technology make the most sense at this time. I am starting to like the "air car" idea.

You could power your compressor with a direct drive wind turbine. No generator, transformer, or line losses.

Dang! I missed that one.

Air compressing air is just too obvious :)

calgarydude -

As has been discussed here many times and in many ways, any power scheme involving the compression of a gas to store energy followed by the expansion of said gas to release and utilize that energy will unavoidable suffer significant energy losses in the process due to inherent thermodynamic limitations.

Yes, it is possible to have a system whereby you compress air via some renewable means, such as wind or solar and then store that energy for use in powering a car. But the question arises: is compressed air the most efficient and cost-effective way to store energy? Unless you have a surplus amount of cheap energy (and who does these days?), the answer is generally NO.

Unless you have a surplus amount of cheap energy (and who does these days?), the answer is generally NO.

Depends, in addition, on how efficiently the energy is used once it is released from storage.

Basically, at this stage I see compressed air as fall-back technology.

If it turns out that because of materials shortages and technological limits batteries can't be produced in the massive numbers we need, then we will turn to tech like compressed air even if it is quite inefficient by comparison. Driving will be more expensive.

Technology is darwinian EXCEPT that for most part the losers don't really die and go extinct. They go into hibernation or exist only at the margins of society. If the winners show signs of weakness, then they come back to compete again.

Interesting you should bring up the whole darwinian thing there..

Heres an excerpt from a paper by J. Potts, an Evolutionary Economist

Evolution is the algorithmic process by which knowledge grows. It works like this. First, begin with a population of candidate solutions to a problem, then define a selection mechanism to test these solutions against the original problem and evaluate how well they solve that problem. Second, eliminate the worst solutions and replicate the better solutions. These two mechanisms alone will produce statistical convergence upon a set of good solutions, but because they are limited by the set of starting candidates, they will not necessarily be the best solutions. In nature, as in society, sometimes you need to think differently in order to progress.

By adding a third mechanism, variation, we arrive at the minimum necessary conditions for an evolutionary process. A mechanism of variation takes the good solutions and modifies them (randomly or conjecturally) to generate new candidate solutions, beginning the process again. This, in abstract, is an evolutionary process: selection tests solutions against problems; replication carries solutions and updates problems; and variation generates new solutions.

Note that this definition of evolution does not turn on what is actually evolving beyond reference to ongoing solutions to ongoing problems. This is how it is in biology (the concept of an analytic gene), and also in economics (the concept of a rule). Nevertheless, the question of the proper units of selection, replication and variation is a source of much argument and debate in evolutionary theory.

In economic evolution, there are many possible units that these three mechanisms might operate upon. Examples include commodities in markets or the characteristics they embody, the preferences of agents, the skills and routines of agents, the competences and capabilities of firms, or indeed of entire firms and industries, or technologies or institutions. These are all examples of structures of knowledge.

And knowledge is what the economic system is made of. In an evolutionary economic process, it is knowledge that evolves. Capital is knowledge in an operational form. Labour is knowledge in an active form. Money, as a store of value, is unspecified knowledge potential. Knowledge is subject to selection, variation, and replication. These evolutionary mechanisms operate over systems and populations of rules (that is, institutions) to produce the growth of knowledge process known as economic evolution. It is the growth of knowledge that ultimately underpins the wealth of nations.

Hooray, another economist that doesn't understand how the economy works. I don't think he understands evolutionary biology, either.

Capital is knowledge...Money is unspecified knowledge potential...the growth of knowledge ultimately underpins the wealth of nations...

So, everything's OK, we don't really need all that oil and natural gas and electricity from coal or nukes. Lets just send everybody to college to get PhD's, producing a massive amount of knowledge. Or, build a computer with all the world's knowledge in it and give everybody a laptop and an internet connection (sounds sort of like Wikipedia). Then, we can cut our oil imports to zero and stop drilling for gas and oil. I guess this economist has never heard of "the energy theory of money".

Sure, knowledge is a great part of the advances in technology, but, without the energy to power things, it's rather useless for most people. We've seen examples thousands of times posted on TOD. If you can't get to the store to buy food in a city, how are you going to survive?

E. Swanson

You're not related to Paul Krugman by any chance are you? You sound exactly like him.

1) I made the comment containing the excerpt because given Datamungers comment I thought he might find it kinda cool.

2) I realise 'kinda cool' in this case was a little off topic, but so what?

3) The excerpt describes a mechanism by which change can occur. Something the comparative statics you neoclassicists are fond of, doesn't handle terribly well.

4) Knowledge in an EE context is only marginally related to technology.

5) Drink less caffeine

Compressing air for energy storage is a losing proposition, UNLESS:
You want heat at the compression site, AND
You want cooling at the release site.
Hey, at least the cars would have A/C.

I still think people can use that heat to generate eltricity. That would make most of the inefficiency go away.

Of course, you'll need some expensive heat exchangers and turbines at the compressing stage, so I guess small plants won't stand a chance here.

"...is compressed air the most efficient and cost-effective way to store energy? ... NO"

Available and inefficient trumps efficient but unavailable.

Demand destruction in poor countries has also been discussed many times on TOD. Especially in rural areas, diesel is increasingly unavailable and electicity is unreliable.

People with access to only simple tools (and with limited formal education) can maintain the infrastructure for air cars. Also, if they only import the pressure tanks and motor components, they can set up local manufacturing using cannibalized auto parts.

The early railroads in NA were tremendously inefficient but they used stuff that was available at the time - namely wood and water. Later wood was replaced by coal and oil while steam engines were replaced by diesel.

Sun, wind (and maybe water) are available in the third world - oil and electricity are not. I am in favour of simple technology to help these people live better lives.

I don't expect that air-powered cars (or wood-powered steam trains) will find a market in NA - that wasn't the point of my post. There is a *huge* difference between what is appropriate technology between first-world and third-world economies.

It is brutally hot in most of India for a good chunk of the year. I expect they would love cold exhaust air.

Warmer ambient conditions will also improve efficiency of the inter-heaters in between expansion stages of the air-engine.

Perhaps if the usage is right. These vehicles will not be very energy efficient, but if they are used rarely, and their capital cost can be made very low, they might make sense. I wouldn't buy one for my commute, but if all I did was drive to church once a week, it might be a good solution.

Marathon to Split Refinery/Marketing from Production/Exploration

Marathon is currently the fifth-largest U.S. refiner, and a split would create the second-largest independent refiner, smaller than Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) and larger than Sunoco Inc. (SUN).

Refiners have been hit hard in recent months - all but two of the nine publicly traded refiners reported a first-quarter loss. The outlook for the second quarter is slightly better, but lags the substantial returns seen last year.

Still, Thill said Marathon wouldn't consider a split if it didn't think each entity could stand on its own.

I wonder how many gas stations will close as the units are shed and the profits from Candy&Beer decline?

Fantastic presentation by Paul Ehrlich at Longnow foundation.

Traces our cultural evolution and identifies the need for a fundamental cultural shift,

Suggests a Millennium assessment of Culture simular to the Millennium assessment of Ecosystem and starting a global public discussion of the issue.

Speaks highly of ecological economics.

“Paul Ehrlich: The Dominant Animal”


The Long Now Foundation
San Francisco, CA
Jun 27th, 2008

Paul Ehrlich gives a seminar at the Long Now Foundation about the evolution of human culture and its effect on the environment.

Hey Souperman2,

Thanks for the link.

I had heard of Paul Ehrlich but had never heard him speak or read anything by him.

An extremely thought provoking lecture.

I thought his definition of "culture" was rather novel. He defines it to include "all non-genetic information passed from generation to generation." That's a very broad definition and includes many things, all the way from science and technology to poetry, music and the visual arts, along with everything in between. His observation about how we have made great strides in science and technology, but few achievements outside these areas, is a phenomenon that has also occurred to me. The example he used was ethics, where we've clearly not moved beyond the Dark Ages.

"As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying."
Arthur C. Clarke

Hello Souperman2,

Yep, SF-writers are eerily prescient. Frank Herbert's Dune vs the Atacama:

Incredible Discoveries Made in Remote Caves

Scientists exploring caves in the bone-dry and mostly barren Atacama Desert in Chile stumbled upon a totally unexpected discovery this week: water.

Bob, if you are interested in the subject of water in the desert, I highly recommend the book 'The Secret Knowledge of Water' by Craig Childs. He specializes in, among other things, finding water in deserts. Apparently, there is more than you might think.

Gloom because GDP is "only" 1.9%:


As I don't live in he US maybe someone could answer my question:

Is GDP really still +ve or is another massaged figure?

It seems most of the news coming out hte US right now is job cuts in finance, auto and housing
industry, not to mention consumers tightening their belts due top fuel cost and inflation creeping up. So how can GDP still be +ve?


The economists at the blog, Econbrowser, are peak-oil aware. One of them has made use of Stuart Staniford's work in main stream publications.

But they don't accept the ShadowStats. Here some reasons why:


I don't necessarilly think that ShadowStats is the infallible last word on the subject. I do view them as a useful corrective to the "official" stats. I suspect that reality falls somewhere in-between, but probably closer to the ShadowStats side of things.

I haven't studied the debate in detail. But regarding CPI, there are two main methodologies with something to be said for both.

One thing is indisputable: over a longer period of time -- say a decade -- our lifestyle changes for the nation as a whole. That is the norm. There really is no BAU over the long run because we change. Always.

So, tracking CPI over decades gets a little tricky because we buy different stuff. For myself, there have been big changes in the last 5 years. For instance: I don't buy nearly as many books and newspapers and therefore don't care much if the price of those items rises.

RE: the two methods of calculating the CPI:

As economists have long known, a Laspeyres index, which finds the cost of purchasing a fixed basket of goods representing the base period and then the cost of buying the same basket in the present, tends to overstate the rise in the cost of living by not allowing any substitution between goods to occur. Conversely, a Paasche index, which finds the cost of purchasing a fixed basket of goods representing the present and then the cost of buying that same basket in the past, tends to understate the rise in the cost of living.


"Real" GDP is calculated by deflating the nominal GDP by the price deflator(an inflation measure). So, understate inflation and you automatically overstate GDP. Magic.

To illustrate, here's CPI from Shadowstats

How are those "shadowstats" numbers obtained? What is different wrt the official numbers?

Go to his site. He explains how inflation is understated, overstating GDP growth. He also explains how unemployment is dramtically understated.

For CPI, I believe he simply uses the govt's own method pre-Clinton.

those shadow stats are incompatible with each other. Inflation is the difference between supply and demand. For inflation to be so high the economy would have to have been overheating. But according to the stats the US economy has been in recession since 2001. If that was the case inflation would have collapsed. Also how could the economy be in recession without anybody noticing?

Inflation is the difference between money supply and products, not "supply and demand" per se, right?

I thought overheating occurred when economic growth was sufficiently fast that labor demand pulled up wages than in turn increased product demand that increased prices, for a wage-price inflation, but there can also be money-supply inflation without wage increases when the the money supply is debt funded, or brought on by dollar devaluation on the world market, right?

Both of the latter points are currently true, I think, and certainly everybody living on a constant salary these past five years has noticed. I certainly have!

I think we're in a process where we're selling national equity to continue debt payments and support cheap money for bailouts and rescues, and that we're in a deep spiral down. The gov't says "low inflation" but they don't count the same stuff most families do, so it really means "high inflation plus some recession". Isn't that stagflation?

Ask yourself: Is the economy overheated in Zimbabwe?

They revised IVQ2007 so that it is now officially negative. I'm betting that with then next round of revisions, that +0.9% for IQ2008 will be revised down to <0, so we'll then have the two consecutive quarters of negative growth required to declare an "official" recession. I figure that this announcement will come out some time AFTER Nov. 4th (US election day).

In regards to the Pemex article above, the first 6 months crude production was at a 2,856 m/b/d rate. If Pemex expects 2.8 for the year, the last 6 months will have to average 2,744 m/b/d. In as much as Pemex has understated the decline rate for over 2 years, it would be prudent to assume a lower production for the next 6 months. This means that Cantarell is falling at a rate that will take Mexico out of a net export of crude oil in about 2 years. The Dutch study reported on yesterday, will mean that Mexico must/should consider its oil resource as strategic instead of as a straight commodity soon. How the dynamics of this reconsideration will play out is uncertain, but Mexico's economic security will be of first importance.

Chalk up another one for WT and Khebab.

Coal to Diesel in Alberta

I watched an interview on BNN this morning with the CEO of Alter NRG discussing his company's plans to build CTL plant in Alberta. The segment appears to be a repeat from a couple of weeks ago and the video is no longer available from BNN.ca (computer storage is *so* expensive these days). Anyway, here is a link to the company site:

Alter Nrg CTL

From memory, here were some of the highlights of the interview:

  • the plant will use coal and (municipal?) waste as inputs
  • capital costs are projected to be high ($118,000 per b/d capacity IIRC)
  • operating costs are expected to be 25% below oil sands
  • CO2 is captured and sold for EOR
  • process was originally developed by Westinghouse
  • company is exploring similar projects in India, Turkey and Japan

The part about using waste as input was new to me. Makes me feel better about throwing out the trash.

I wonder if this guy is for real. He's accused of hacking into US government computers. But he says he did it for noble reasons.

McKinnon claims that he was motivated by the desire to uncover information about UFOs.

In an interview with the BBC conducted after the ruling, McKinnon described his actions as a moral crusade. "[UFOs] have been reverse-engineered," he said. "Rogue elements of Western intelligence and governments have reverse engineered them to gain free energy, which I thought was very important, in these days of the energy crisis."

I heard one story on the radio today that said that he hacked in by doing a web-search for passwords.

Hey, this gives me an idea-


Actually he wrote a small Perl script that scanned for Windows computers with blank passwords for the Administrator account. He probably made some changed to the machine through the remote registry service and then he installed a basic remote desktop software.

Reminds me of when I did support for BP and reported to them that they had blank passwords for admin accounts on multiple servers... their response? "So what! They are just test machines."

Yes, I believe him. Say an interview about a year ago and he sounded straight up.

I don't know that he found conclusive evidence tho.

The Disclosure Project started by Dr. Steven M. Greer claims to have many hours of testimony from ex-members of the military and government. The claims by the ex-military members strike me as being quite credible as they have offered to testify in open hearings and under oath. EDIT:removed redundant clause Some even have evidence like radar logs and recordings of radio transmissions. To my knowledge Congress has refused to take them up on this offer.

If Congress is able to hold hearings on silicone breast implants, steroid use by baseball players, and allegations of cheating by NFL coach is it too much to ask that they listen to claims that the military and intelligence communities have been lying to us for over 50 years?

Greer has formed an energy company called AERO - Advanced Energy Research Organization.

AERO is a new research and development group which will develop and strategically protect new energy and propulsion technologies that will completely replace oil, gas, coal, and nuclear power.

AERO is the group that is most strategically ready to develop, disclose and establish the long-suppressed technologies that will enable us to establish a truly sustainable civilization on Earth.

I'm not really interested in debating the merits or worthlessness of believing in UFO's, aliens, or hidden energy technology etc. so please don't flame me with all of the reasons why you think these people are cranks. I really don't care. I only post this because I personally found the disclosure project's witnesses to seem quite credible.

I got this real moron thing I do it's called thinking. And I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions. I don't just roll over, when I'm told to. Sad to say, most Americans just roll over, on command. Not me. I, have certain rules I live by. My first rule: I don't believe anything the government tells me. Nothing. Zero.

George Carlin

I've said it before but it's been a while so here goes. Even if someone came up with a "free energy" machine yesterday it would take decades to spread the technology around the world. Those making the machines will sell them for as much as they can get which means it won't be cheap.
I already have several "free energy" machines in my house. They allow me to not use electric lights for several hours even on cloudy days if I so choose. It absorbs solar radiation and releases it across a broad spectrum of frequencies. It has no moving parts and can last for centuries. It does require high temperatures in the manufacturing process and I am not aware of its EROEI factor but I suspect it is quite high due to its long life. Let's call them SHALS, for Solar Heating And Lighting Systems. Most folks used to call them windows but since Microsoft has commercialized that word for its own profit we need a new term.

The guy isn't joking. The things he claimed to have found and far more than what he discussed has been verified by well over 400 different ex-military, often with secret, top secret, or higher compartmentalized clearances. All of them have been vetted and there are well over 500 pages of transcribed testimony available from them. In addition, they have offered to testify before Congress about what they know.

This so-called hacker aside, these military witnesses served the country proudly and have impeccable records. They have videos, photographs, radar data/video, government FOIA documents, FAA reports, and much more to back them up. Many of them were responsible for nuclear weapons... and some of them had a pretty high rank in the various branches.

Oilworld: What, me EROEI?


At least one of many large, lake-like features on Saturn's moon Titan contains liquid hydrocarbons, making it the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to have liquid on its surface, NASA said Wednesday.

I can just imagine talk radio going wild over this. Send spaceships that look like a giant mosquito to Titan and suck the stuff up. I have half an idea to plant the idea just to make those folks look foolish.

...just to make those folks look foolish.

No disrespect intended to you, ericy, but I doubt they need any help in that regard.

Mine the "spice" ala Dune. Maybe Dune will become a reality. :)

Would this be a 'carbon footprint'?

Proof of Titans on Titan?

Looks like what passes for Bigfoot.

US Treasury Secretary Paulson has just made the following comment on high oil prices.

"It's supply and demand and this will be the case for the forseeable future.
New supply now barely matches declines from existing fields, never mind supporting additional demand."
- Henry Paulson

Quoted from memory (he's still speaking) but that's approximately it. No mention of speculators. He's mentioned supply/demand before (the Bush administration makes this statement frequently) but the additional comment referencing existing field decline seems new.

a link when you have it

Here's the first part of it

RTT News

"Record high oil prices, which have increased dramatically since year-end, are putting a large burden on the U.S. and the world economy and creating hardships for families, households and industries everywhere," he said.

"There are no simple or quick remedies for this," Paulson added. "High oil prices are the result of supply and demand factors that are likely to persist for some time."

Can't find anyone quoting the "decline from existing fields" bit yet - but he said it. Was live on Bloomberg and probably elsewhere - anyone have a video link?

Edit: Here it is in the obvious place
07/31/2008 Paulson Remarks on Markets & Economy at Exchequer Club

Producers, unfortunately, have not made the investments necessary to keep pace with this growing demand. Because production capacity and investment has been curtailed over the last decade, supply now barely offsets declining production in older fields, let alone meets new demand.

Of course he's still implying that if only oil producers would let western oil companies in everything would be fine - just like Texas and the North Sea as Westexas would point out...

Yesterday's DB featured a contributor who repeated the "insulate, insulate, insulate!" cry as the most scalable, reasonable, practical way to invest in energy in a way that pays off in perpetuity.

Apparently Dan Reicher agrees:

"WASHINGTON -– Dan Reicher, Google’s guru of all things related to energy and the environment, came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday with some ideas on how to keep Earth from overheating and poor families from freezing this winter in the face of sky-high prices for heating oil.
A central proposal, laid out in testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, was a national program aimed at cutting heat and electricity bills in 10 million low-income homes over a decade."

Edit: this was intended as a reply to Violinist up thread.

Let's try a simple thought experiment.

Suppose, Hydrocarbon fossil fuel originated as a result of biomass plankton in ancient seas. The natural occuring variety of plankton may have been significantly less efficient at capturing sunlight as the new high tech bio-engineered varities.

Suppose that just a small percentage of the ancient biomass escaped its active bio system and was sequestered in layers of sedimentary deposits.

Suppose that a small percentage of the sequestered material existed in the proper conditions to trans mutate into hydrocarbon

Now suppose that a small percentage of that was trapped to form reservoirs which would eventually be tapped for our enjoyment.

Suppose that Our natural system perhaps was perhaps 1/10th of 1 percent as efficient as a potential bio algae plant at capturing and converting solar energy into something useful for us

Now despite massive inefficiency found in nature, consider how many hundreds and thousands of years these processes were in place to create the reserves we currently exploit. What would it take to scale ponds of highly efficient algae to produce just one years worth equivalent of our present consumption? I just can not imagine these solutions providing such a tremendous efficiency gain over natural processes to make up the differences of the vast collection periods of the past. But then again, what the hell do I know?

Hmm, looking back at an old paper of mine on the Benguela upwelling zone, I estimated an organic carbon content of 10% in modern sediments roughly implies preservation of 0.1% of the original fixed C of primary productivity. Considering that such organic rich sediments are relatively rare on the present Earth (~ 1% of the present ocean area at best) and likely are parent sediments for future oil. So by area, the system is 0.1% efficient from chloroplast to sediments. I don't know how much of that actually becomes recoverable oil at present prices. Rockman might know.

But if LS9's claims on efficiency are true (huge if), we'd still need a third of the arable land on Earth at Midwestern corn level yields to produce current oil consumption from biomass. I feel a serious urge to hug a bag of fertilizer.

Why mess with biomass when algae already exist that produce butanol? If we're talking about closed systems instead of open ponds, we can use CO2 from smokestacks and help resolve two problems at once.

According to the DoE, replacing all petroleum consumed in the US by algae sources would require an area of about 15,000 sq mi, which is just a bit larger than the size of Maryland. As far as the naysayers are concerned, I have no problem with anybody identifying areas where they think there will be problems. However, the surface has barely been scratched so far. I personally know someone who has access to the right types of algae and has produced gallons of butanol for testing. He reported that his car ran fine on it.

JFYI, butanol has more energy than ethanol and just a bit less than gasoline.

Its not often that my 'fission power is not able to be handled safely' argument gets such proof.


The report said that the release of plutonium into the sanitary sewer system was probably caused by the researcher washing his hands in the sink and failing to make sure the water didn't flow out of the sink.

"The work area was neither restricted nor controlled for radiological work and was in a busy, multi-use laboratory"

Reminds me of Stanley Kubrick's film The Day the Fish Came Out

Plutonium is chemically nasty stuff. If anybody got any on their hands to wash off in the first place that facility is 2 short steps from researcher fatalities.

Plutonium is chemically nasty stuff.

Yup. And 'we' humans show that, even with all the rules and safeguards, 'we' can not handle it.


Solar Hydrogen (Storage) breakthrough???


how is this new? and there will still be a certain amount of energy needed to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen

attach a solar cell to an electrode to provide the energy.

The Hydrogen and oxygen are then recombined to provide work in a fuel cell.


MIT develops way to bank solar energy at home

Nocera's catalyst is made from cobalt, phosphate and an electrode that produces oxygen from water by using 90 percent less electricity than current methods, which use the costly metal platinum.

The system still relies on platinum to produce hydrogen -- the other element that makes up water.

"On the hydrogen side, platinum works well," Nocera said. "On the oxygen side ... it doesn't work well and you have to put way more energy in than needed to get the (oxygen) out."

Current methods of producing hydrogen and oxygen for fuel cells operate in a highly corrosive environment, Nocera said, meaning the entire reaction must be carried out in an expensive highly-engineered container.

But at MIT this week, the reaction was going on in an open glass container about the size of two shot glasses that researchers manipulated with their bare hands, with no heavy safety gloves or goggles.

"But at MIT this week, the reaction was going on in an open glass container about the size of two shot glasses that researchers manipulated with their bare hands, with no heavy safety gloves or goggles."

Amazing!!! Just like a high school experiment that I did in the 1960's - both electrodes were platinum, IIRC.

It sounds like MIT has come up with a Co-P alloy which works well as an electroysis anode, which is very good news.

But the whole article is written in complete pseudo-science bafflegab that I have trouble deciphering. I sure hope that the idiot who wrote this story wasn't from MIT.

MIT +10
Journalist -10

This has nothing to do with solar or hydrogen storage.
This is an electrolyzer.

electricity + water -> hydrogen + oxygen

They improved the catalyst on the oxygen electrode.
Sounds like a step in the right direction.
Existing electrolyzers are already 85% efficient.
So let's say this is 99% efficient. Who cares.
We still need the fuel cell.

Hybrid Cars Could Be More Reliable And Cheaper With New Fuel Cell Technology

ScienceDaily (July 31, 2008) — Monash University scientists have revolutionised the design of fuel cells used in the latest generation of hybrid cars which could make the vehicles more reliable and cheaper to build.

The breakthrough, published August 1 in the journal Science, revolves around the design of a fuel cell in which a specially-coated form of popular hi tech outdoor and sporting clothing material Goretex® is the key component.


"The same way as waste vapour is drawn out of this material to make hikers more comfortable to less prone to hypothermia, so it is able to 'breathe' oxygen into our fuel cell and into contact with the conductive plastic," Dr Winter-Jensen said.

Monash University's Professor Doug MacFarlane from the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science (ACES) said the discovery was probably the most important development in fuel cell technology in the last 20 years.

Fuel Cell Efficiency May Be Improved With Material With 'Colossal Ionic Conductivity'

ScienceDaily (July 31, 2008) — A new material characterized at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could open a pathway toward more efficient fuel cells.

The material, a super-lattice developed by researchers in Spain, improves ionic conductivity near room temperature by a factor of almost 100 million, representing "a colossal increase in ionic conduction properties," said Maria Varela of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, who characterized the material's structure with senior researcher Stephen Pennycook.


Solid oxide fuel cell technology requires ion-conducting materials -- solid electrolytes -- that allow oxygen ions to travel from cathode to anode. However, existing materials have not provided atom-scale voids large enough to easily accommodate the path of a conducted ion, which is much bigger than, for example, an electron.

"The new layered material solves this problem by combining two materials with very different crystal structures. The mismatch triggers a distortion of the atomic arrangement at their interface and creates a pathway through which ions can easily travel," Varela said.

The press release was picked up by Scientific American which does a much better job of explaining it:

SciAm - Hydrogen Power on the Cheap

"Currently, electrolyzers (machines that split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen) need a catalyst, namely platinum, to run; ditto fuel cells to recombine that hydrogen with oxygen, which produces electricity. The problem is that the precious metal costs about $1,700 to $2,000 per ounce, which means that hydrogen would be an uneconomical fuel source unless a less costly catalyst can be found."

The breakthrough is in cost more than efficiency.

Could prove to be important - kudos to Fractional_Flow and phreephallin for the find.

If it is cheap, and efficient, you could dispense with the fuel cell, and use a gas turbine. Rather than providing portable fuel, you could use it to store intermittent energy, such as wind or solar.

When Dr. Ulf Bossel says H2 fuel cells are workable, then I'll agree with the question.


an engineer for Occidental Petroleum in Texas has started analizing all oil wells that cost more than $100 per barrel to extract the dino-juice from the Earth. Oxy is starting to prepare for a crash, as are the other oil companies (per rumor).


It's scary that someone who is smart enough to fly a jet, won't use a spell checker.

oh, I dunno. There's something inspired about 'analizing' the data. Especially here on TOD. ;)

What is the proper 'tool' to use for this process? :-)

I'm scratching my head trying to think of which one..maybe I'll (wait for it) work it out with a pencil

I'll get my coat..

That engineer better get to work, that's a lot of oil wells to analize. Ouch.

"...a lot of oil wells to analize."

Careful, TOD is a family website :)

Yeah, you could get penalized for that!

I believe you meant "penilized."

Big Brother is watching.. (he likes to watch!)

A great key post on TOD would be a breakdown of global oil supply by cost per barrel. What is the current supply of the cheap oil (i.e. cost under $40 per barrel?) That is the only relevant comparison to the supply numbers from e.g. 2003 because in 2003 there was no development of $100 a barrel supplies.

Bush Calls for New Highway Tolls

The White House says more tolls and public-private partnerships can solve perhaps the biggest problem confronting the nation's aging infrastructure: There are limited funds available to upgrade transportation networks and too many federal funds are doled out inefficiently through earmarks

While I agree with tolls for urban areas, they won't work to repair rural roads - many of which are critical to delivering food to market - they simply don't have the traffic to justify private investment. The gas tax needs to be raised and changed as a % of price, in lieu of the current fixed amount. Of course, any proposal to raise the price of Joe Sixpack's gas is DOA......too many Joe Sixpacks.

I think the spit is hitting the fan in a big way when it comes to government budgets.

Tough choices for states during budget crisis

The Governator is laying off 22,000 state workers in California. He's also ordered that the state workers who keep their jobs get paid only minimum wage until the budget is passed. That's going to be pretty tough on the typical American family with no savings.

In New York...that old joke about buying the Brooklyn Bridge is no longer a joke.

New York Gov. David Paterson is summoning lawmakers into an emergency session in mid-August to deal with a "mammoth collapse in revenue," including a 97 percent drop in banking taxes from a year ago. He ordered a hiring freeze and called for a $1.23 billion cut in state spending that could affect such things as colleges and hospitals. He has also proposed leasing state roads, bridges and tunnels as well as the lottery to outside companies.

The scary thing is that they're still looking at it as a short-term problem. They're gutting their rainy day funds. They're borrowing against future income, like lottery revenue or tobacco settlements. If this recession persists past this year, they're going to be hurtin' for certain next year.

O this is rich! Leanan posts an article by the ever-interesting [but alarmingly-bearded] Greer about jam. And domestic economics. Which receives nil responses.
The domestic sphere is the one we all inhabit - although one would begin to doubt this from the subsequent litany of replies, none of which makes reference to this most pertinent of articles.
I gather fruit, help make jam, and read TOD attentively. All of which lead me to the conclusion that No - around 50% of humans are not smarter than yeast.

Too busy thinking of all the food we have to put up for winter still. And insulation and triple-pane windows, lots of insulation. I am not going thru another Saskatchewan winter with single-pane windows. whine off.

I like to phrase the concept this way:
Are humans smarter than their genes?

What is making the decisions? A human's pre-frontal cortex, or their genes?

All genes care about is surviving and propagating. Look at the world around you and see the way they totally dominate our behavior. Gene controlled behavior can't create a sustainable society, or a happy one.

E.g. Genes direct the mind to buy a flash, fast, wasteful car, the pre-frontal cortex says buy an economical car.

Over the long run genes "learn" to reward successful reproductive behavior in "their" organism with happiness. Most things that make us happy are (in the "environment of evolutionary expectedness") favorable to our genes. So in a slow changing environment genes do tend to favor personal happiness. The trouble for us phenotypes is not that genes are malicious or stupid but that the environment that selected for them has changed. It's not whether humans are smarter than yeast but whether we are smarter than Petri dishes.

(New Moniker for that IOC? , 'Bloody Petroleum'!!)

Good article. I, too, was too hands-on to make it to the last batch of articles posted today, until you shamed me into it. Good call.

Leslie just started making Yoghurt lately, and we're eyeballing all the ripening Beach-rosebuds around the shore these days.. makes a great jelly! His point about how the economics are weighed out often hits me around all the handcrafts that my family does.. if you look at them from a Dollars/Hr standpoint, they seem pathetically uneconomical, or damned expensive.. but adding hours of attention from a skilled craftsperson can create goods with much higher value, whether that is reflected in the price or not. It always makes me wonder at how you can evaluate this 'economic health' in fuller terms. Of course, another measure of a society's wealth is the skills and so ostensibly the resilience of its citizens to hold life together through the rough patches.

Well.. accounting is probably going to be changing soon, when the value of everything else isn't over-shadowed by the ridiculously discounted energy that's borne the system all these decades..


Do not fret - Most of TOD would see that as truth with no need to comment. It is the only article I forwarded in my email barrage to friends and family.

Some critique of the Greer article:

... the homemade jam represents a much more efficient use of fossil fuels. The grower who produced the raspberries used organic methods, which saved the petroleum and natural gas that would otherwise have had to go into pesticides and fertilizers.

- but what if she trucked a lot of compost, or used a lot of limited-life plastic netting, or started plants in a heated greenhouse?

... even if we owned a car and drove to and from the market, the extra mile and a half of gas wouldn’t shift the balance much.

- what if they had to drive 20 miles round trip? That's $2+ in gas alone - the price of a whole jar of commercial jam.

Turning berries into jam and canning the result probably takes about an equal amount of energy per pint of jam whether it’s done in a home kitchen or a huge factory

- I think that's bunk. A canning factory has a huge incentive to cut down on fuel use, and (due to the larger scale of things) can insulate to reduce heat loss to the surroundings, and install devices to use the heat from the cooling-off cans/jars to preheat the incoming materials.

I think that there is room in the future for community canneries, ranging from full-service (will can your home-grown produce for you) to self-serve (you pay to use the superior equipment rather than do it at home).

One measure of these energy economies is that, including all expenses, our homemade jam costs us only about two-thirds as much as the same volume of commercial jam.

- they must sell berries much cheaper in Oregon farmers' markets than here in Vermont. (And I would expect so: we get a really bum deal on fruits and vegetables here in general.) Here I see local berries sold at $4 for a half pint (now, during their short season), you'd need more than one of those half-pints to make a jar of jam!

Saudi Arabia to keep fuel oil exports on ice after summer


Just curious, how many barrels is 80,000 tons of oil? I can visualize a barrel or a million barrels, but I can't visualize a ton or 80,000 tons of oil. Seems like using weight as a measure is a strange way to describe the amount of any liquid.

Antoinetta III

A quick web search throws up a couple of references;

"There are about 8 barrels to the ton". 80,000 * 8 = 640,000 barrels
"a barrels weight ranges from 125kg to 155kg". that gives 6.5 - 8 barrels in a (metric) tonne.

I would say roughly 500,000 - 600,000 barrels.


80,000 tons = 600,000 Barrels

Edited to remove excessive quoting. Please don't post the whole article. It's a waste of bandwidth, and there are copyright issues. (Same goes for song lyrics.)

Especially when the article was posted at the top of the DrumBeat a couple of days ago.

I gotta love this "DrumBeat" the best of all on TOD.
I read every article and every post everyday. Its like
manna from heaven.Bringing every relevant news article
gleaned from sources all over and putting them all into a daily "energy soup".Its filling,nutritious,and

"Is it DRUMBEAT YET" I find myself asking everyday as
I check TOD.