DrumBeat: August 5, 2008

Oil Prices and the Media: Why the Blackout on Peak Oil

If the peak oil folks are correct -- and I'm not saying they are, but their predictions seem to be coming to pass, so they deserve a decent hearing in the world media -- it constitutes a story of immense importance.

The world runs on oil. The prosperity of the middle classes of the industrialized world was built on it. So was the green revolution that allowed world population to increase from two billion to six and a half billion. So was globalization, which allows the flow of goods from everywhere to everywhere on a magic carpet of cheap oil. So was air travel and mass tourism. The list goes on and on.

IEA says oil price still high even after falling

BANGKOK: Oil consumption in the US and OECD nations is weakening but China and India have yet to show signs of falling demand, making it unclear if the price fall below $120 is a turning point, the IEA’s chief said.

GAO: Iraq Has Third Highest Oil Reserves

A U.S. government report finds Iraq has the third largest oil reserve in the world and generated $96 billion in oil revenue from 2005-07.

GAO: Iraq's oil profits huge as U.S. shoulders reconstruction

WASHINGTON — Iraq has benefited handsomely from this year's surge in oil prices and is well-positioned financially to shoulder a greater share of its own economic and security needs, the U.S. government's accounting watchdog concluded in a report released Tuesday.

Oil pricey, but Latin America hooked on cheap fuel

CARACAS (Reuters) - Latin American states from energy-starved Chile to oil powerhouse Venezuela are growing dependent on expensive fuel subsidies that could lead to future economic shocks if countries are forced to raise prices.

Drivers in Latin America's traffic-choked capitals can buy fuel for as little as 12 cents a gallon thanks to government handouts costing billions of dollars per year, even as high fuel prices spark protests and political fallout around the world.

The subsidies are boosting global oil demand and stalling investments that would increase much-needed fuel efficiency as crude prices hover near $120 per barrel and tight supplies have left countries scouring the globe in search of energy.

"Latin American countries' dependence on subsidies has left them short of options -- they are going to avoid dealing with the problem for as long as they can," said independent consultant Roger Tissot, who specializes in Latin American energy issues.

Valero Says Three Texas Refineries Running at Reduced Rates

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refiner, said its Texas refineries in Texas City, Houston and Port Arthur, are operating at reduced rates because of Tropical Storm Edouard.

The refineries ``continue to operate at slightly reduced rates,'' spokeswoman Teri Levy said today in an e-mailed statement. ``Feedstock supply in Texas City is tight due to port closures. We do not anticipate production to be materially affected at any of our refineries.''

Marathon's Texas City Refinery Remains Shut by Tropical Storm

(Bloomberg) -- Marathon Oil Corp., the largest refiner in the U.S. Midwest, said its Texas City, Texas, refinery remained shuttered because of rain from a tropical storm.

Petro-Canada begins shutting Edmonton refinery

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Petro-Canada said on Tuesday it has begun closing down its 125,000 barrel per day refinery in Edmonton, Alberta, ramping up to a full closure over the next week, as it launches a planned 60-day maintenance shutdown to tie in new equipment.

Recycling booming as Americans seek cash

Two factors are leading to the national rush to recycle: Skyrocketing metal prices caused by a demand in developing countries, such as China and India, and rapidly rising food and fuel costs that are stretching paychecks to the limit.

Turkey, Iran gas deal likely soon

ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey and Iran will probably sign a natural gas deal during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's expected visit to the Turkish capital, Ankara, an Iranian official in Turkey said Tuesday. Turkish officials have yet to confirm the deal.

More AIDS risked as poor women trade sex for food

"Food is such a basic need that you can see people really going to great lengths," said Fadzai Mukonoweshuro of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization in southern Africa.

Climbing food prices -- due to increased use of biofuels, the growing demand for grains to feed a booming Asia, droughts and market speculation -- caused 50 million more people to go hungry last year compared to the year before, the United Nations said.

Russia: Oil Industry Still Losing Height

The crude oil production, export and prices are declining in Russia. According to the July statistics of TsDU TEK, nearly all indicators of this branch are going down in the country. The prices for petroleum are shedding as well, which is generally attributed to the government’s policy. At the same time, the duties on oil export are going up, similar to the prices for Ai-95 gasoline, which shortage is blamed on breakdown and rebuilding of Russia’s refineries.

Central Dispatcher’s Supervisory Department of Fuel and Energy Complex (TsDU TEK) released yesterday the latest data on export and production of oil in Russia. The seven-month output was 283.664 million tons, i.e. 0.5 percent down on year. With the oil transit taken into account, the overseas export sank 4.6 percent on year to 19.341 million tons in July of 2008.

Gazprom confirms Belarus paid off gas debt for 1H08

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Belarus has paid in full its natural gas debt for the first half of 2008, Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Tuesday.

"The debts for gas consumed by Belarus in the first half [of 2008] and for transit services over the period have been paid in full," the company said in a press release after a meeting between Gazprom board deputy chairman Valery Golubev, Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Rimma Filimonova and Vladimir Mayorov, the general director of the Belarusian pipeline monopoly Beltransgaz.

Nepal: Charikot locals seize fuel tanker

DOLAKHA - Locals of Charikot on Monday seized a tanker with diesel, on the charge that the fuel was being sold to other vehicles when police intervened. The tanker was supposed to drop the fuel at Dolakha and Ramechhap districts, but was confiscated on the way.

Alleging that tankers ferrying petroleum products to Ramechhap are involved in fuel black marketing, locals seized the tanker, along with 12000 liters of diesel, and began selling it at Charikot Oil Store.

Uganda: $500m spent on petroleum imports

Bataringaya said the petroleum expenditure takes a sizeable portion of Uganda’s export earnings.

He said the Government was supporting petroleum exploration with an aim of diversifying the energy supply mix.

Food for thought

Soaring food and fuel prices - and a slowing economy - are just part of the picture. Children are out of school, and away from the subsidized breakfast and lunch programs that help poor families meet nutritional needs during the school year. Unfortunately, local pantries and coalitions report, summer is when donations dry up. Scout troops, other civic-minded groups and religious groups aren't holding as many food drives. The free turkeys passed on from supermarket giveaways during Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't there.

The region's unemployment rate grows, and those with jobs face stagnant salaries. Property taxes go up, even as home values drop. And people still have to feed their families.

GM finds surprising success in China

What would Chairman Mao think? Six decades after the communist revolution, China has become the hottest capitalist engine on earth. And ironically, some of the most revered symbols of success in today’s China are Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet.

General Motors may be struggling at home, but it is thriving in China. In 2007, GM sold nearly twice as many Buicks in China as it did in the United States — more than 330,000. In this part of the world, your grandfather’s stodgy old car is actually hip.

North Korea Says Torrential Rains Damaging Crops, Economy

The worst food shortage in a decade for Kim Jong Il's regime may continue until next year's harvest as a lack of fuel and fertilizer threatens to lower production this season, Jean- Pierre de Margerie, the United Nations World Food Programme's country representative for North Korea, said last week.

Coal's future is safe - but what about the climate?

LONDON (Reuters) - Does coal have a future? Climate change protesters and coal traders alike say it's a daft question, but agreement ends there.

For protesters, the shiny black lumps of fossilised wood and plants are contributing to drastic climate change. For traders, coal is an energy no-brainer which offers a ray of hope for 1.6 billion people living without electricity.

They're probably both right.

Winter's heating oil costs climb

SPRINGFIELD - The cost of heating an average home with oil for a year is expected to top $3,000 in 2009, according to a study released Monday by The Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts.

"It's going to be a pretty serious problem this winter," said Michael D. Goodman, director of economic and public policy research for the institute. The report covers the calendar year of Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009.

The institute predicts that the price of oil will rise 10.75 percent from 2008 to 2009.

The report also shows that two-thirds of the households in the state that will be severely burdened by heating expenses next year are headed by someone older than 60.

Washington's Greater Fuel Theory, Part II

Since the 2006 speech, Xethanol is down by 93% and Pacific Ethanol by 90%, with several ethanol plants shuttered due to poor economics, even as many more are under construction. It is an echo of the early 1980s when many producers went bankrupt after President Jimmy Carter's "gasohol" push faded and subsidies failed to translate into a government bailout when the market turned. A big collapse in oil prices in the future might exacerbate the situation while the hoped-for efficiencies that would allow the cellulose of non-food crops to be turned into fuel remain elusive.

Even with subsidies and quotas, the numbers tell the story of a worsening glut. One hundred thirty-four U.S. ethanol plants have the capacity to produce 7.23 billion gallons and 77 under expansion or construction will add another 6.22 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

McCain nuke visit shows pros, cons of technology

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — John McCain's visit to a nuclear power plant, the first in recent history by a presidential candidate, highlights the promise and peril of a technology that is a key component of his sweeping plan to help the country overcome its energy crisis.

The Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant outside Detroit, named for the first physicist to split the atom, is home to both an operating power plant and another reactor that had a partial meltdown in the 1960s. It was decommissioned in 1972, while its successor continues to operate.

UK: We told you what privatisation of the nation’s energy would bring!

THE energy crisis seems to have taken by surprise politicians and media alike. What short memories they have.

In the 1980s those of us who campaigned against the privatisation of gas and electricity and the closure of coalmines predicted exactly what would happen.

Kurd president says Iraq vote bill a conspiracy

ARBIL, Iraq - The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Massud Barzani has sharply criticised a provincial election law as a 'conspiracy', deepening a political rift over the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

"After the long talks we held it was clear for us that what happened on July 22 was a big conspiracy and very dangerous for the democratic and constitutional process of Iraq, in particular against the Kurds," Barzani said.

Food, energy crises hit Pakistan, India hard

WASHINGTON: The current food and energy crisis bears serious strategic implications for India, Pakistan, and the region at large, according to a study.

Arroyo to look into plight of fishing vessel operators in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Tuesday ordered Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to urge fishing vessel owners and operators in Mindanao to resume their operations to prevent possible adverse effects of their work stoppage in the supply of canned sardines.

Owners and operators of fishing vessels in Mindanao, where 80 percent of sardine canneries in the Philippines are located, have been on strike since Monday to protest the ever increasing prices of fuel.

China is no leading light in energy efficiency

Energy efficiency in China is just a fifth of U.S. levels. The government has put a priority on improving that by closing hundreds of small, coal-fired power plants and steel mills, raising fuel economy standards and consumption taxes on gas-guzzling cars, and pushing stores and apartment owners to replace incandescent bulbs with green ones.

But energy policy made through government fiat will only take you so far. Even as Beijing issues decrees about reducing the amount of energy used, it still subsidizes gasoline and electricity, and it's falling short of its conservation targets.

Can Coal and Clean Air Coexist in China?

CHONGQING—Coal powers China. In addition to producing about 75 percent of its electricity, the dirty, black rock is burned everywhere from industrial boilers to home stoves. More than 4,000 miners die every year digging up the fossil fuel, shortages abound forcing curbs in electricity use, and the country's transportation infrastructure creaks under the weight of distributing it across the country.

But the Chinese reliance on coal is most visible in the air. Smog cloaks cities, rendering them all but invisible from the sky, which in many spots is little more than a blue patch amid a blanket of haze. And it's not just confined to China: as the pollution builds it forms a brown cloud, visible from space, that takes about a week to cross the Pacific to the western U.S., where it accounts for as much as 15 percent of the air pollution.

Edible Cities: Havana

With fuel prices and food shortages causing unrest and hunger across the world, many say the Cuban model should proliferate. ‘There are certain issues where we think Cuba has a lot to teach the world. Urban agriculture is one of them,’ said Beat Schmid, coordinator of Cuba programs for the charity Oxfam International.

Gas Prices Apply Brakes To Suburban Migration

Cheap oil, which helped push the American Dream away from the city center, isn't so cheap anymore. As more and more families reconsider their dreams, land-use experts are beginning to ask whether $4-a-gallon gas is enough to change the way Americans have thought for half a century about where they live.

"We've passed that tipping point," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said.

Since the end of World War II, government policy has funded and encouraged the suburban lifestyle, subsidizing highways while starving mass transit and keeping gas taxes much lower than in some other countries.

Americans couldn't wait to trade in the cramped city apartments of the Kramdens and Ricardos for the lush lawns of the Bradys. Local land-use policies kept housing densities low, pushing development to the periphery of metropolitan regions and forcing families who wanted their dream house to accept long commutes and a lack of any real transportation choices other than getting behind the wheel.

Even the way the government pays for roads and transit is dependent on gas taxes, which is effective only if Americans keep driving.

Oil falls near $119 on demand concerns

Oil prices fell $2.18 a barrel Tuesday on expectations the economic downturn in the U.S. will erode consumer demand for crude products.

The U.S. dollar's gains against the euro also contributed to lower oil futures' prices.

By early afternoon in Europe, light, sweet crude for September delivery was down $2.18 to $119.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $3.69 overnight to settle at $121.41 a barrel. Earlier Tuesday, it fell as low as $118 a barrel before rebounding.

Expansion of Pipeline Stirs Concerns Over Safety

America's natural-gas boom is driving the construction of thousands of miles of new pipelines, many of them crisscrossing heavily populated or environmentally sensitive areas.

GM May Hit $200 Before Oil Does

I posted on July 17th that a historic reversal was at hand in Oil has Peaked, Banks have Bottomed, and that has proved prescient advice. Shorting commodities and resource stocks has been a great trade in the last few weeks, and one I have consistently recommended since late April, despite the continued hype and ludicrous price targets from many investment bank analysts, who have yet again revealed themselves to be glorified cheerleaders dancing around the latest momentum trade. The short banks/long energy trade was dangerously crowded, as evidenced by hedge funds suffering their worst month in years in July in a stampede for the exit.

Why the Energy Crisis Won't Solve Itself

Will Wilkinson is optimistic about energy. Don't worry about peak oil, he says: as oil prices rise, alternative energy sources will become more attractive, and eventually innovation and competition in the alternative-energy space will drive alternative-energy prices down below the "historical trend" of oil prices. That's how we get to environmental nirvana: it's a natural consequence of fossil-fuel scarcity.

But the problem is that fossil fuels aren't scarce, and they are cheap -- coal, especially. There's still enormous amounts of coal left in the ground, and there's no sign that any alternative will be cheaper than coal for the foreseeable future. And even if we have reached peak oil, there's still a hell of a lot of oil left -- especially if you start including tar sands in Canada and Venezuela.

The long shadow of oil's rise

Even with crude's record highs crashing down, high fuel costs have left a mark on consumer spending.

Hot thoughts in the dark

Nothing quite focuses the mind on how dependent we are on air conditioning like the prospect of doing without it in August.

If you ask James Howard Kunstler, he'd say this is good for us. The author of The Long Emergency warns that we are at the beginning of a permanent energy shortage that will make the American way of life, as currently constructed, impossible.

It's going to hit Sun Belt regions like North Texas especially hard, he predicts.

OPEC Unlikely to Cut Output in September, Kuwait Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is unlikely to cut production quotas at its next meeting, said Mohammed al-Olaim, the oil minister of Kuwait, OPEC's fourth- biggest producer.

``I think not much change will happen for the time being,'' al-Olaim said today in an interview in Al-Zour, southern Kuwait. Any changes to OPEC output limits will depend on ``analysis'' between now and September, he said.

Iraq Resumes Oil Exports to Turkey After Two-Day Halt

(Bloomberg) -- The flow of crude oil from Kirkuk in Iraq to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan resumed after a two-day halt, officials at Turkish pipeline operator Botas said.

Flows were expected later today to reach normal levels of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day, said a Botas official in Ankara who declined to be identified by name, citing company policy. The stoppage was due to a lack of pressure in the pipeline, the official said.

Venezuela Pushing Trinidad Out of Oil Market, Reuters Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela's Petrocaribe initiative, which provides low-cost financing on Venezuelan oil sold to Caribbean nations, is pushing Trinidad out of the regional oil market, Reuters reported.

Inside Port Harcourt's 'ER' clinic

Calm has returned to the Teme Hospital in Nigeria's oil capital Port Harcourt after a weekend of violence saw 15 men with gunshot wounds brought to their trauma clinic.

A turf war between gangs, known as "cultists", flared in the city's waterfront slums when armed men zoomed into the docks on boats late on Friday.

New toll lanes make drivers pay to avoid congestion

Already facing $4 a gallon at the pump, drivers in a growing number of states are tempted to pay even more for a quicker ride home.

Transportation agencies are increasingly looking to reduce congestion and make more use of sometimes under-utilized high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.

Some are developing plans to allow vehicles that don't have the required number of passengers to use the lanes if they are willing to pay.

Free fruit ditched as BP tightens its belt

The company used to provide baskets of apples, bananas, oranges and grapes once a week as a healthy treat for workers.

But the scheme has been axed by bosses as part of a "general belt-tightening" across the firm which aims to slash £500 million from its overheads despite making £2 million per hour.

Why Oil Really Fell Today—and Could Keep Falling

Oil slipped below $120 at one point today and now overall is down nearly 20 percent from its July high of near $150. But I don't think the drop had much to do with the usual suspects—a weak consumer spending report, less risk that Tropical Storm Edouard will smack the Gulf Coast—which will surely be mentioned in the financial pages tomorrow.

I think the drop had everything to do with reports this weekend that MIT chemist Daniel Nocera seems to have discovered a cheap—by a factor of 1,000—and easy way to separate hydrogen from water.

GM Executive Raises Natural Gas As Alternative To Gasoline

DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- General Motors Corp. (GM) may add natural gas to the arsenal of energy alternatives it hopes will one day make gasoline a scarcity on U.S. roads.

GM's top researcher said in a recent blog posting that the auto maker considers natural gas an "enticing" alternative to petroleum, signaling a new interest in the fuel by GM as it struggles to combat the effects of soaring gasoline prices.

Measuring the Total Carbon Footprint of Biofuels Through Life-Cycle Analysis

In recent years, lawmakers in the United States and the European Union have embraced biofuels as a key element of their respective strategies to combat climate change and promote energy independence. However, just as these two major markets are beginning to agree on technical standards for biofuels, as shown in the white paper on “Internationally Compatible Biofuel Standards” that the United States and EU lauded at the recent EU-U.S. Summit of 2008, controversy is emerging in both markets on the tough question of how to show that biofuels represent life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions savings as compared to traditional fossil fuels. The issue is sensitive because the greenhouse-gas emissions savings of different biofuels vary substantially.

Untouched forests store 3 times more carbon: study

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Untouched natural forests store three times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated and 60 percent more than plantation forests, said a new Australian study of "green carbon" and its role in climate change.

European carbon hits 5-month low on oil, no buyers

LONDON (Reuters) - European carbon emissions prices hit a 5-month low on Tuesday as weaker energy prices and sparse compliance buying put downward pressure on EU permits, traders said.

Monbiot: The stakes could not be higher. Everything hinges on stopping coal

Everything now hinges on stopping coal. Whether we prevent runaway climate change largely depends on whether we keep using the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Unless we either leave it - or the carbon dioxide it produces - in the ground, human development will start spiralling backwards. The more coal is burnt, the smaller are our chances of future comfort and prosperity. The industrial revolution has gone into reverse.

From ASPO’s Peak Oil Review for August 4th concerning oil for the entire arctic:

For all 7 geological provinces for which these more detail data are provided there is a total of 3 billion barrels of oil at the 95% confidence level, 11.8 billion barrels at the 50% confidence level and 96.7 billion barrels at the 5% confidence level, and the USGS reports a “mean” estimate of 28.9 billion barrels.

Will someone please explain this to me? If 11.8 billion barrels represents the 50% confidence level, would that not also be the “mean” to be expected from the Arctic?

But for just one province their logic seems to be even more convoluted.

So let’s take the “West Greenland – East Canada geological province report as an example. The included tables indicate there is a 95% probability that at least zero oil resources exists, a 50% probability that .26 billion barrels exists and a 5% probability that 34.5 billion barrels exist. So the USGS rolls the dice and reports a “mean” estimate of 7.265 billion barrels to the media, when this amount has likely a 1 in 10 chance or less of existing! And yet there is not a hint of this uncertainty in the press release.

Now I would not quibble with their 95% estimate that at least no oil at all can be found there. But if 50% probability stands at .27 billion barrels, how can they estimate that the “mean” is 27 times that amount?

The author of this piece is David Hughes, who spent 32 years as a geoscientist for the Geological Survey of Canada. I would have to emphatically agree with him on his last sentence.

So rather than rejoicing, these estimates should underscore the dilemma facing us and spur radically accelerated actions to reduce vulnerability to the inevitable depletion of global petroleum supplies – if this is the last great white hope for sustaining business-as-usual, we are in very serious straits indeed.

Ron Patterson

I have never understood why anyone gives much credibility to the USGS arctic oil report considering they found all of this oil with a pencil and a calculator. I wonder if they would calculate a little gasoline into my gas tank.

My husband knows the head of the USGS....gave presentation in the same venue for Texas Utilities. He describes him as a "company" man...meaning he will say all the right politically correct things. In other words, he is not a "true" scientist.

It makes it tough for we Average Joes and Janes to draw final conclusions: Are we in strife yet? Do we have time to sort out our kid's future? And it doesn't help that oil has dropped back under $120, with numerous media predictions of double-digit numbers by Christmas.

The headline, "World Running Out Of Affordable Oil" is a ways off yet.

Regards, Matt B
Just passed 500km on the new motorbike and still LOVIN' IT!!!

Consider a lottery ticket.

The 50% "confidence level" payoff is zero.
The expected payoff is maybe 30 cents - infinitely greater.

You encounter this situation whenever you have a skewed distribution of possibilities. In other words, whenever it is probably nothing, but it could be a jackpot.

You have to understand the difference between the median and the mean, but given the lack of reliable data, it probably doesn't make much difference.

The included tables indicate there is a 95% probability that at least zero oil resources exists...

Heck, I will go one step further than that. I will say that there is a 100% probability that at least zero oil resources exists. What's the alternative? Negative oil resources?

It's the return of "fuzzy math."

Energy calculations are full of fuzzy math and fuzzy logic especially EROEI. This is my pet theme as most regulars here know.

Careful.. some pets are biters.

One more thing to blame Bush for. There's nothing wrong with fuzzy math, or fuzzy logic.

Spend a lot of money and energy looking for non-existent oil - voila, negative energy!

Now I would not quibble with their 95% estimate that at least no oil at all can be found there. But if 50% probability stands at .27 billion barrels, how can they estimate that the “mean” is times that amount?


Why don't you just email the USGS and ask then what formulas they use to calculate mean values of potential oil reserves?

Ron, again thx for sharing

Generally are these risked or unrisked reserves?

Re. West Greenland – East Canada

....a 50% probability that .26 billion barrels exists and a 5% probability that 34.5 billion barrels exist.

..50 % probability that .26 billion barrels........ that is 50 % probability that approximately 260 million barrels (approx. 4 days global use at present rates).

Would any commercial operator(s) go after such a small prize?

This considering the cost of development and logistics challenges for the area.

Would any commercial operator(s) go after such a small prize?

This is not a gaussian distribution; the tail end of the distribution is where all the action is. A 5% probability of at least 34.5 billion barrels(more than 3.5 trillion USD if we agree oil will not drop significantly below $100/bbl in this timeframe) is well worth a look.

It doesn't matter if the prize is small. If the cost of producing that oil(including opportunity cost) is less than it's worth it will be produced. If the time spent picking up a dime from the ground is worth less to you than the dime you do it, otherwise you just move along.

Actually, Rigzone says there a trillion barrels of oil in Venezuela, and we have 800 billion barrels in domestic oil shale. The Venezuela stuff can be extracted at about $1 a barrel, and the shale at $30 a barrel (says Shell).
Oil is not the problem. People are.

Millard, you remind me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' character, Jose Arcadio Buendia, in his enchanting tale of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude:

Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions. First they brought the magnet. A heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself as Melquiades, put on a bold public demonstration of what he himself called the eighth wonder of the learned alchemists of Macedonia. He went from house to house dragging two metal ingots and everybody was amazed to see pots, pans, tongs, and braziers tumble down from their places and beams creak from the desperation of nails and screws trying to emerge, and even objects that had been lost for a long time appeared from where they had been searched for most and went dragging along in turbulent confusion behind Melquidades' magical irons. "Things have a life of their own," the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. "It's simply a matter of waking up their souls." Jose Arcadio Buendia, whose unbridled imagination always went beyond the genius of nature and even beyond miracles and magic, thought that it would be possible to make use of that useless invention to extract gold from the bowels of the earth. Melquiades, who was an honest man, warned him: "It won't work for that." But Jose Arcadio Buendia at that time did not believe in the honesty of gypsies, so he traded his mule and a pair of goats for the two magnetized ingots. Ursula Iguaran, his wife, who relied on those animals to increase their poor domestic holdings, was unable to dissuade him. "Very soon we'll have gold enough and more to pave the floors of the house," her husband replied. For several months he worked hard to demonstrate the truth of his idea. He explored every inch of the region, even the riverbed, dragging the two iron ingots along and reciting Melquiades' incantation aloud. The only thing he succeeded in doing was to unearth a suit of fifteenth-century armor which had all of its pieces soldered together with rust and inside of which there was the hollow resonance of an enormous stone-filled gourd. When Jose Arcadio Buendia and the four men of his expedition managed to take the armor apart, they found inside a calcified skelton with copper locket containing a woman's hair around its neck.


please explain your flow rate assumptions for Venezuela and Bakken formation. That is, how fast ramp up, max flow rate and time to sustain max.

Surely if you think that 'oil is not a problem' you have a reality based model about the flow rates. After all, flow rates matter - not the reserves themselves.

Then please explain how 'people' are the problem.

Inquiring minds want to know.

"The Venezuela stuff can be extracted at about $1 a barrel,... Oil is not the problem. People are."

Thanks for the best laugh I've had in a while by providing this wonderful example of why "People are" most certainly the "problem."

Heading Out posted a Rigzone article right on this site a few days back about Venezuela. That is what Rigzone said. About 20 percent of the heavy stuff can be extracted at that price. Seems low to me too, but HO thought it was worth posting. Rigzone seems to know their stuff.
Shell is not talking about Bakken, but Colorado oil sands. $30 a barrel. Just Google "Shell" and "shale" and you will come across it.
Of course, it would take years to ramp up. In the energy world, everything takes a decade. The point is, there are enormous reserves out there (1.8 billion barrels combined in Venezuela and U.S. shale). But the idea we face a crisis is probably not true.
Demand is falling as we speak. Sheesh, the US could cut 9 mbd from world market demand (over time) and raise our living standards at the same time (indeed, almost inevitably raise our own living standards, as US dollars stayed in our economy instead of going to Dubai's). (We use about 20 mbd, 70 percent for transportation. The EVs and high mpg cars coming onstream could radically reduce that use, over the next 10 years.
If gasoline stays above $5 a gallon, EVs will spread worldwide.
World liquids production is still rising.
Maybe that is why oil is tanking so hard. We just might see $60 before $160. And we might not see $160 for another generation.

Hi Millard,


The World Energy Council makes the following assessment about the potential of oil shale energy:

“If a technology can be developed to economically recover oil from oil shale, the potential is tantalisingly enormous. If the containing organic material could be converted to oil, the quantities would be far beyond all known conventional oil reserves. Oil shale in great quantities exists worldwide: including in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Estonia, France, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

The term ‘oil shale’ is a misnomer. It does not contain oil nor is it commonly shale. The organic material is chiefly kerogen and the "shale" is usually a relatively hard rock, called marl. Properly processed, kerogen can be converted into a substance somewhat similar to petroleum. However, it has not gone through the ‘oil window’ of heat (nature’s way of producing oil) and therefore, to be changed into an oil-like substance, it must be heated to a high temperature. By this process the organic material is converted into a liquid, which must be further processed to produce an oil which is said to be better than the lowest grade of oil produced from conventional oil deposits, but of lower quality than the upper grades of conventional oil.
There are two conventional approaches to oil shale processing. In one, the shale is fractured in-situ and heated to obtain gases and liquids by wells. The second is by mining, transporting, and heating the shale to about 450oC, adding hydrogen to the resulting product, and disposing of and stabilising the waste. Both processes use considerable water. The total energy and water requirements together with environmental and monetary costs (to produce shale oil in significant quantities) have so far made production uneconomic. During and following the oil crisis of the 1970’s, major oil companies, working on some of the richest oil shale deposits in the world in western United States, spent several billion dollars in various unsuccessful attempts to commercially extract shale oil.

Oil shale has been burned directly as a very low grade, high ash-content fuel in a few countries such as Estonia, whose energy economy remains dominated by shale. Minor quantities of oil have been obtained from oil shale in several countries at times over many years.
With increasing numbers of countries experiencing declines in conventional oil production, shale oil production may again be pursued. One project is now being undertaken in north-eastern Australia, but it seems unlikely that shale oil recovery operations can be expanded to the point where they could make a major contribution toward replacing the daily consumption of oil worldwide.
Perhaps oil shale will eventually find a place in the world economy, but the energy demands of blasting, transport, crushing, heating and adding hydrogen, together with the safe disposal of huge quantities of waste material, are large. On a small scale, and with good geological and other favourable conditions, such as water supply, oil shale may make a modest contribution but so far shale oil remains the ‘elusive energy’.”

The 2007 GAO study concluded that, “it is possible that in 10 years from now, the oil shale resource could produce 0.5 million to 1.0 million barrels per day.” But the GAO noted that the development of oil shale faces key challenges, including: “(1) controlling and monitoring groundwater, (2) permitting and emissions concerns associated with new power generation facilities, (3) reducing overall operating costs, (4) water consumption, and (5) land disturbance and reclamation.”

Walter Youngquist of the Colorado School of Mines provides a detailed history and analysis of attempts to develop Colorado’s oil shale. After spending billions of dollars, industry has terminated oil shale operations due to a low net energy recovery and a lack of water resources.

Finally, anyone with common sense who has seen oil shale can look at the little bit of dry carbon embedded in marmal rock and see this oil shale stuff ain't goin nowhere.

What exactly do "atleast no oil exist" means? Is there anything like -ve oil?

If 11.8 billion barrels represents the 50% confidence level, would that not also be the “mean” to be expected from the Arctic?

No, that's the median.

In the discrete case the mean(also called expectation value) is the sum of all outcomes weighted by their respective probability.

A lottery in which you have a 99% probability of winning one dollar and a 1% probability of winning nothing has exactly the same mean payoff as a lottery in which you have a 1% probability of winning 99 dollars and a 99% probability of winning nothing. The median of the first case is 1 dollar and the median of the latter is zero.

In the continuous case the sum becomes an integral and the probability becomes a probability density function. If the probability distribution happens to be a nice symmetric shape like the gaussian(aka normal) distribution the mean will happily coincide with the median. If the probability distribution is assymetric that's usually not true(though it is certainly possible to craft an assymetric distributions for which the mean and median coincide).

The size distribution of oil fields is of a very lopsided kind called a power-law distribution; most of the oil comes from a small number of very large fields, not from the very large number of small fields. In the mean estimate of oil in the arctic most of the mean is not from the small fields you are likely to find, but from the giant fields that you are unlikely to find.

More telltale signs that the United States lacks the political will to move forward on any substantive measures to address the energy situation. On the political front, it’s all silliness...

Senate Republicans tried to leverage voters’ anguish by offering proposals that furthered their unexamined strategy to expand offshore drilling. The Democrats responded by pinning the blame for the surge in oil prices on financial speculators, and offering a bill to curb trading. The usual bogeymen appeared, with Republicans’ accusing environmentalists of locking up precious oil supplies and the Democrats blaming Wall Street. –NY Times editorial


It’s not widely understood how profound a change in overall energy consumption could be realized from a big-time, coordinated efficiency and conservation effort. We don’t hear enough about this because it’s not sexy. It is not something that has captured the public’s imagination. –Bob Herbert, NY Times


How out of touch is Barack Obama? He's so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point; Rush Limbaugh is having a field day; and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled "Barack Obama's Energy Plan" to Washington reporters.

But who's really out of touch? The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.—Michael Grunwald, TIME


The mocking of efficiency by McCain is incomprehensible. What, beyond drilling rigs, is their strategy? If they are against conservation, perhaps they are for waste? The image in my mind is a bunch of Republicans burning barrels of gasoline in the street to support their candidate and prove (somehow) that they are right. Sigh.

It is similar logic to "we should be able to purchase automatic weapons at the local gun shop" because the Constitution says we can bear arms.

We should also be able to drive as large a car (truck) as we want, because the Constitution says, um, something or other about it, I'm sure.

By golly, it's just unamerican to want to conserve energy! That's Jimmy Carter talk, and we all know how HE turned out.

Why can't we have conservation AND automatic weapons? Seems like independent topics to me.

I went shopping for attic radiant barrier and shotguns and automatic rifles this weekend. I figure both are a good investment for the future.

Why can't we have conservation AND automatic weapons? Seems l

Because our boneheaded news media recognizes only two kinds of people, conservatives and liberals. You have to be labeled either one or the other. Once you've acquired the label, you have to accept an entire set of beliefs. Thus a person who supports energy conservation is not allowed to support gun rights. If you support gun rights, you have to be anti-abortion. If you're anti-abortion, you must support the war in Iraq and you cannot believe in global warming. If you do believe in global warming, then you must be opposed to nuclear power. And so on. No deviation from the script is permitted. The news media refuses to even acknowledge the existence of third parties such as the Libertarians because they don't fit the script.

Ozonehole. I like your post. I agree. One can't believe that we should get out of Iraq (that means I am liberal) but also support GM in its pursuit of the Volt (that means I like Detroit cars and waste and garish designs and thus must be conservative).
I like nuke plants, so I can't believe we need much higher gasoline taxes to permanently depress demand in the U.S.
It is pathetic.
Anyway, looks like we are on to a huge rout on the NYMEX. Oil could hit $60 before it hits $160. The bulls are going to get gored, and hard. Unfortunately, this will dull our appetitie to actually pursue conservation (that means I am liberal) to make America strong (means I am conservative).

It's beginning to look more and more like my position on the price of oil is wrong. Apparently the high prices are more than the economy can handle without self destructing.

Anyway, looks like we are on to a huge rout on the NYMEX. Oil could hit $60 before it hits $160. The bulls are going to get gored, and hard. Unfortunately, this will dull our appetitie to actually pursue conservation (that means I am liberal) to make America strong (means I am conservative).

This situation can only last so long. If oil hits $50 or $60 it probably means we're on our way to the next depression. I'm guessing that $70 means we're looking at recession. We can only conserve so much in a short period of time. The time to act was 20 or 30 years ago. Nobody took it seriously. $4 gas means the economy stops functioning.

We're trying to dig ourselves out of a hole that is getting deeper faster than we find new dirt to fill it with. Misery will be the result, regardless of the oil prices.

Keep a few things in mind. Demand in the US (and apparently Europe) is dropping, but I am not so sure this is true for a large part of the rest of the world. China was building reserves prior in advance of the Olympics, and they may have ceased that build-up. They have also restricted vehicle use in Beijing to the tune of a few million cars IIRC. It'll be interesting to see what happens once the Olympics are over.

On the US side, the drop occurred at pretty much what is the historical height of travel season -- I've been referring to the consumption of fuel for vacation travel as "discretionary consumption". Later this month the school year resumes, meaning the purchase of school provisions (and travel to the malls) as well as transporting kids to school (non-discretionary travel/consumption). I wouldn't be surprised to see a drop in gasoline consumption YOY for the school season (due in part to conservation efforts, individual and institutional), but I am almost positive we will see an increase over this summer.

Also, if I am not mistaken, fuel oil purchases in anticipation of winter begin in the fall. I read a forecast of a particularly cold winter in Europe this year. Might happen, might not happen -- but people might stock up just in case.

This is of course entirely speculative on my part, and I am pretty far from an expert. Attack at will!

We can individually take the short respite from increasing oil prices as an opportunity to better arrange our personal affairs. We're living on borrowed time, and a few more weeks or months of cheap oil will only hasten the inevitable decline for all, but it can offer the sage one more opportunity to plan and act. I lament the damage that cheaper oil will do to the nascent conservation urges of the nation, but I welcome a few more dollars in my pocket to wisely spend.

"I welcome a few more dollars in my pocket to wisely spend."

why wouldnt a conservative wisely save that extra money ?

Buying durable goods is saving, when money is becoming worthless. I'm new to this, and am striving to transition from a stereotypical life to a survivable one. Endeavoring to shift from "smart" to "wise" is a humbling experience.

When even CERA says that the basic upstream costs were already at $65 in 2006, Clingendael puts floor at $110 and ex head of Aramco production says that oil will not drop below $100 unless the whole world goes into deep recession, then how, pray tell, do you suppose $60?

Surely you have some sort of idea of a causality behind this possibility.

Can we hear it, please.

I'm sorry for the "I told you so", but I was predicting a significant correction in oil prices for about two months now.

Having said that oil price is highly unlikely to drop below $100/bbl; there are several indications that OPEC considers this as the new "floor" and feels comfortable that western economies can withstand it without commencing long-term programs for moving away from oil.

Yes, and several peak oil people who even bother to deal with price have forecast see-saw effect in oil price.

So what?

This was not unexpected - it's just that nobody knew when it would come.

I'm asking knightrd about the $65 assumption.

And I'm asking you where you draw your conclusions about $100 bbl being the new price floor for OPEC, when even the Bank of England can't deduce it yet.

Mine is just a gut feeling based on several comments I've seen. Last year when prices were headed towards the $100 mark, Saudi princes were seriously worried that such price levels will cause serious demand destruction in the West; they didn't - it wasn't until oil reached the $130-150 band, when demand started pushing back. So what we see now IMO is the price retreating to levels more comfortable for both sides.

In addition some production processes like tar sands cease to be profitable much below $100, and this is another source of marginal supply going offline should prices drop that much. All of this is speculation for the short term though I wouldn't dare to predict next year or after.

Seems to me we are entering the period starting late 2008 where a decent amount of new oil production is supposed to be coming on line from new megaprojects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_megaprojects). Combine that with demand destruction and we could have oil prices back off and level out for a year or two. Looking at the megaprojects data, oil prices would start taking off again in real terms around 2011.

buy xom then ?

So this is the calm between the foreshock and the quake... or rather, between the arrival of the P-waves and the S-waves.

Let's enjoy it!

Because our boneheaded news media recognizes only two kinds of people, conservatives and liberals.

That would be because your electoral system forces everyone into one of those two camps.

There is a mindset that they are tied to, which is that they aren't or don't want to be constrained in any way by resource constraints. They argue against global warming in the same way that they argue against peak oil as both essentially imply that there are limits of some sort.

I think there is also a stubbornness that comes into play - an unwillingness to admit that the environmentalists might have been right all along. So their inclination is to pull out all of the stops to prove that their worldview is right.

All religions are like that, aren't they? (as distinct from spiritual practices per se)
There's a purity and nobility that accrues to he who can remain disciplined and faithful to a belief system in the face of overwhelming factual evidence to the contrary. The more stubbornly, willfully blind the acolyte, the higher their achievement and placement in the Order - whether as priest or soldier. Or cabinet member?

Hey Wisconsin,

Here is the McCain strategy:

More drilling will the lower the rate at which the U.S. is increasingly dependent on imported oil in the future. Drilling for oil is ecologically sensitive areas is a partisan political issue.

The impacts of Peak Oil, however, will soon shift the focus of debate toward how to survive high oil prices.

Increasingly, average Americans will not be able to afford both fuel oil for heating and gasoline for commuting to work. When unemployment increases in the ever worsening global recession, a larger and larger percentage of people will not be able to pay for fuel oil to heat their homes. These realities will shock the nation with the doubling of home heating bills this winter. Oil prices will be higher for the winter of 2009.

In such an environment, the Democrats are making a mistake with their “no drilling” position on this issue. As Peak Oil becomes more widely known as the cause of economic malaise, public attitudes will shift away from environmental concerns and toward more drilling.

According to energy investment banker Matthew Simmons and other independent forecasters, global crude oil production is now declining, from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 14%.

This is equivalent to a 33% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always be higher than production; thus the depletion rate will continue until all recoverable oil is extracted.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from “outside,” and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

I used to live in NH, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil?

Clifford J. Wirth

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

I would beg to differ on the argument that tractors/combines must have liquid fuel to run. Tractors don't go very far from "home" and thus can be easily rode back to the farm for a recharge when the batteries are low. A good example of this in action in production environments are electric forklifts. If you've ever worked in a warehouse, you know what I mean.

You do have a good point on 18 wheel trucks, as making them battery powered would be quite difficult.

Trains can be electrified, and there are plenty of people on here who would argue to that fact. (I won't name names.)

Ships in my opinion need to become automated and wind powered with sails. It gets there when it gets there, and the thing changes course based upon GPS coordinates and such. This would work great for things that can come on the SLOW boat from China.

Mining equipment, like farm equipment, doesn't go far "from home" and can be recharged on-site when low, or run via cables.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

Tractors would go so few kilometers they could not be rode back to the farm for a recharge. I'd love to see the wire grid for electrifying the fields, it would be a real Rube Goldberg. Same for lots of heavy strip mining equipment and trucks.

I have worked in a warehouse and most of the work that forklifts do is moving some weight up a few yards and moving on a level hard surface. This does not compare to tractors/combines moving many kilometers 24 hours a day in soft ground doing much heavy processing as they go along. 400 hp running 24 hours a day is a lot of electric power and a lot of recharges.

Some modern ships do have sails to save some diesel, but a wind powered transport ship with 6,000 containers or a big oil tanker would have to have sails so high they would be impossible in high seas and winds.

Where will the power come from for the electric economy (more coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear)?

Where will the trillions of dollars in capital come from for the electric economy.

The Russians have been using electric tractors for a while. Definitely a narrow niche application, but parts of the US may be a good fit.

It makes sense if the farms will be getting a lot smaller.

They are still getting larger, and family farms are still declining in numbers.

The power for high-value uses (like train travel) will come from the reduction in low-value uses (air conditioning).

If you had been in the central US the past few weeks you would place a very high value on air conditioning. The trains can wait until the weather cools off.

You talking about the same trains bringing the coal to the plants to generate the AC?

Electrified rail could be run slower or stopped during the hottest part of the day as part of a demand management strategy. If adequate storage at both ends of the coal supply lines the coal deliveries could be varied in response to weather conditions and as wind and solar generation changes.

A train will coast for quite a distance. I heard that a coal train doing 50 mph on flat ground would go 40 miles (just word of mouth/potential BS but it seems reasonable).


Same for lots of heavy strip mining equipment and trucks.

Actually cjwirth, mining equipment is already often electric. Barrick Gold uses overhead electric for their hugh haulpacs (300-400 ton) especially up the pit ramp and along main haulroads.

You obviously have never been on a farm spread over several miles and growing potatoes 30 tons to the acre and then transporting those potatoes 800 miles to where they are consumed. That's mighty long jumper cables. :-)


Tractors could use some recharging-- but harvest and planting can be very time critical. Downtime at the wrong time could substantially hurt yields. We're researching on farm-scale biodiesel processors (could serve a small group of farmers for about $25,000). Looks like we can use about 1/3 of the canola crop to completely fuel the rest of the farm. Can feed the solids to livestock. Crossing our fingers. Problem we're finding is the price of canola is so high that our farmers make more $$ selling the crop than making biodiesel.

Spec the plant to be adjustable for whatever crop is cheapest that season rather than tying it to a single crop.

Since the feed flows need to be adjustable anyway it would mostly matter to the quality of the output. Canola makes a prime biodiesel, but corn is good enough for most of the season.

Corn is a primadonna plant, meaning that it needs lots of fertilizer, which is getting expensive now.

The advantage of soybeans is that they fix nitrogen into the soil, and reduces the need for fertilizer for whatever gets planted next in the rotation.

Corn also makes close to the worst biodiesel.

Everything else is better, and corn biodiesel is good enough, so any oil crop you can grow cheaply will suffice.

Soy, rapeseed, corn, arctic palmetto, whatever grows and can be pressed for oil.

What about Chysler's diesel/electric program for trucks?
Also, the program to equip trucks with AUX APU units to use when they are not running. I read somewhere every year they use one million gallons of diesel just idleing.

I used to live in NH, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil?

What's not sustainable about NH? Too cold? Just curious, not questioning your decision or anything.

I am interested in relocating to a nice, pretty sustainable area with good climate and soil. What do you have in mind?

Hey DenverGeek,

In June I took a trip to Albany to talk to 3 audiences on Peak Oil impacts. In the group that invited me, the Capital Regional Energy Forum CREF), is a physicist who teaches renewable energy at a major university, and who had served in the Peace Corps.

He has solar powered just about everything, including a solar powered canoe which we went for long ride in on a lake in the Adirondacks, and a PV solar powered house and pump for his well. He repairs about everything on his house himself and he heats much with passive solar. So the guy knows his stuff. He is no ivory tower academic.

We talked for hours about survival in the northeast after the last power blackout.

It looks tough.

Eventually batteries and even the solar panels deteriorate. He thinks that he could store dry batteries and separately store the liquid (that goes to the batteries) in glass jars to later get "new batteries" after the old ones die. But eventually the batteries and solar panels give out.

Cutting and moving wood without trucks, horses, and wagons will be "challenging." There are not many horses around and it will take decades to breed enough horses to go around. Horses require food, care, vets, and medicine. No one is making wagons these days locally.

Wood stoves break, just like everything else. You could keep one or 2 extras, but eventually you have none and can't get more, because there is no transportation on the highways.

Asphalt roof shingles need to be replaced, and houses need to be painted and maintained.

Food must be grown with a short growing season, and all of the farm stuff that used to be in a 1890 Sears catalog is no longer available. Last summer I took a tour of a farm and saw how dependent farming is on oil -- transportation and manufacture of plastic feeding bowls, containers to store grains/feeds, straw, roofs for animals and storage areas, wire, rope, wood boards, cement, fencing, antibiotics for animals, asphalt shingles etc. Seed and hardware used to be available at the local hardware store, no more.

Then there is clothing which is manufactured and transported from afar. Making cloth is a major operation from growing cotton to making cloth. I have studied the textile mills of Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, MA for years, as I used it as an example of the confluence of capital, technology, and labor for a course I taught on Global Urban Politics at the University of New Hampshire. I know that the parts in those factories were manufactured in many places with a vast transportation network. Those factories will not be built again after the last power blackout. And there are not many sheep around for making wool, nor animals for making leather clothes. Eventually down coats and comforters wear out, as do blankets. It sounds like just keeping warm will be a major problem.

Potable water is another problem, and sanitation.

And there will be no modern pharmacies.

Two weeks after talking with the professor, I got an email. He said he and his wife talked and decided their best option was to buy land here where I live, and they plan to visit. I said come on down. I also cautioned him that he needed to make sure that he and his family can connect to the land that they buy here.

After auto and air transport end (which could be next week if there is some "untoward activity" in the Middle East), there will be no way of getting here, or from here to there. Bus and train reservations will be backed up for years. You know the old Maine joke, "can you get there from here?" Well this time the answer will be no you can't.

I keep reading in the newspapers that some of the folks over there in the Middle East are tired of others getting most of that oil, and that they are trying to shut down the flow of oil to us (:

Wasn't it that guy Murphy who said that if something can go wrong it will. Yikes alive.

Come on down and visit.

Warm regards from the gloomiest of doomers, :)

Cliff Wirth
clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com
or give me a call, U.S. number but connects here 603-668-4207

We talked for hours about survival in the northeast after the last power blackout.

It looks tough.

I suppose that from a modern perspective this is true. But it seems to me that the Iroquois League did pretty well pre-fossil fuel, as did my ancestors who killed or otherwise displaced those same people and "colonized" all of upstate NY. In fact, my ancestors took that land primarily because they thought it was a pretty good place to be, pre fossil fuels.

But your ancestors didn't have six million friends and neighbors trying to drink the same water and catch the same fish. Might complicate things nowadays.

True, but that state of crowding won't last for long.

For millions, "it looks tough."

it's not the survival part that will be tough. It's the transition. And that is a BIG difference.

Hi Shaman,

Very very few Americans know what the Iroquois knew to survive -- making clothes from leather and skins, hunting with bow and arrows, etc. And most Americans see no need to learn or save this technology, nor do most Americans see a need to save the technology that we have developed.

Penicillin is not difficult to make, IF you know how. BUT most people don't know how and there will not even be a Pony Express to communicate that knowledge from elsewhere. So, if the local population doesn't know how, forget it. Same with IUDs for birth control and thousands of other technologies that need to be preserved, but are not.

Why, because most people can't face the reality that collapse is soon.

"Why, because most people can't face the reality that collapse is soon."

How soon?

Do you really think that there will be total collapse fast enough that we don't have time to breed horses & mules? We still pump a few million barrels of oil per day in this country (USA), and we're up to our donkeys in coal.

hi cjwirth (do you go by cj?)

You are very correct. But this is the view from the modern perspective (like I said). I have no doubt that there will be a horrific and deadly period of transition as the global capitalist system collapses. But that is very much a transition phase. The survivability of the northeast is really not a whole lot different now than it was 500 years ago (well, not entirely true, between pollution, overfishing, etc., there will need to be some years of ecosystem recovery. But on the bright side, they have a whole lot more deer now). Yes, people will need new skills and knowledge sets. But those can be learned.

We need to be very careful in not identifying collapse scenarios with the survivability of an area. One reason I am frequently encouraging people to look past the collapse to imagining what sort of society they want to see on the other side. If we aren't purposeful about that, we could end up with an equally bad situation.

Hi Shaman,

500 years ago the population of New England was probably about 1 million, now it is 55 million, with most arable land now buried forever under cities, suburbs, malls, and highways. Now there isn't even be enough wood for heating all those folks, who don't own wood stoves anyway, and if they did, the pollution would be incredible.

When I lived in Manchester, NH the smoke from my one wood stove, even when it was burning right was horrendous. Wood smoke is toxic stuff. Yikes.

Folks nowadays don't know how to make clothes out of what is available locally. No cotton coming in on the Interstate. No clothes, sounds chilly

Growing food is a short growing season in the Northern USA.

No Mason jars for storage, unless they are made locally.

No down coats or comforters for sale.

Wood stoves break, as they all do, and none for sale.

It begins to look grim.

The collapse can come as soon as 5 or 10 years when there is not enough oil to maintain the highways and the power grid goes out.

With water and sewage treatment gone, rivers and water supplies will be the sewage from upstream. Disease, hunger, and exposure will kill off some 99% of the population in a short time.

Grim stuff I known, but it is reality. I hope to get some people to start preparing, instead of the dreams I often see here of somehow squeezing a few more years of energy out of the earth. Or if you can come live where I do, where at least heat and water are not a problem, and the growing season is long and the soil rich.

Best regards from the gloomiest of doomers :)

CJ or Cliff
Clifford J. Wirth

Well, Cliff, at least we are kindred spirits on TOD (along with a few others). I'm not into a big post right now but few have thought it through as you and I.

It sounds like you're off-shore (CR?). In any case, lots of people like me are too old to want to make a serious move. I'll stick with my PV panels, et.al.


Hi Todd,

I like CR and been there, but no, State of Veracruz, Mexico to be not so precise about where exactly, but can be so by email.

PV, passive solar, spare wood stoves for colder areas, lots of preps and carrying a lot of practical technology into the new world can help.

Actually, if you are retired folks have the best ability to relocate.

Come on down and visit, times does not take a vacation but you should.

Best regards,

Clifford J.

Giddaye Cliff,

With all respect, I really, really hope you're really, really wrong.

For the sake of my three young kids.

Regards, Matt B


I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying that you are fixating on a transition period that will be horrendous, but is not the proper measure of survivability. Yes, the bus accident will be horrible, and many of the passengers will die. But the ability of those who survive the accident to go on living will depend on many things outside of the accident - like whether or not they have a shaman to tend to them.

I do not live in a cold weather area. Indeed, I have a harder time with my garden in the heat of July and August than I do in January. But I'm not entirely convinced that my location near the back of the bus will guarantee we survive the accident. Even less dense areas will suffer from the disruptions of electricity, food and fuel delivery, increased property crime, etc.. I encourage choosing location by the prospects for twenty years after the crash. (Although I would not want to be in larger cities during this process as I would think that would be like riding on the hood of the bus into the accident.)

"Cutting and moving wood without trucks, horses, and wagons will be "challenging." There are not many horses around and it will take decades to breed enough horses to go around. Horses require food, care, vets, and medicine. No one is making wagons these days locally."

There are actually a lot of horses around, and a lot of people who know how to work them. It would take a couple of years to breed enough horses to go around. Training teamsters is arguably the bigger problem, but it's not that hard to learn how to work with horses, really - heck, I do it.

Horses DO require food, care, etc. They don't require diesel, parts, etc. Whatever. But the horse-drawn equipment market is picking up where it left off back in the day, with plenty of innovation and new efficiencies. If nothing else, think Amish. Wagons are not a particularly tough thing to make.

Here on TOD we talk about making ultra-capacitors, using high-tech artificial photosynthesis to make hydrogen, beaming energy down from space, nukes fer godz sake. I think horses and carts are doable. You know, been there, done that. :-)


There are not many horses around:


and it would take decades to breed many:


Why don't YOU do this research before wasting everyone's time?

I work with horses, and I work with people who work with horses. Why don't YOU do some thinking before you shoot off your knee-jerk replies about something you know nothing about, and waste everyone's time? I don't see how your links make much of a refutation of my post.

Draft horse populations have been increasing since the '60's. Draft horse associations nationwide have been growing rapidly for years. There is actually a surplus of heavy horses because of the premarin thing.

Horses are not going to take over from tractors tomorrow or maybe ever, but they work, they're there, they reproduce nicely, and get the job done.

Think Amish.

Think donkey :-)


How many people could ever be supported by one horse?

Depends on what kind of a job the horse has.

A bankrobber's getaway horse could support a lot of people, provided the robber hit a solvent bank.

I remember well in my youth of walking behind my grandfather in my bare feet, in the furrow he was plowing with a single mule and a walking one bottom plow.

He raised 14 children on a 100 acre farm that he sharecropped.

We didn't get to wear $50 Nike footware. We worked hard, we ate very well and at 69 I take zero medicine and have only been hospitalized one time(recently)..

Yuppies die young or twist in the wind forever..unless the fat kills them first.

The world is achangin...

Airdale--you asked how many...14...with 3 mules and no tractors on 100 acres...I am still proud of that old man ....my memories are still intact...YMMV and most likely does....

Can someone please answer an ignorant but important question about horsepower. That is whether one actually gets more resource out of them than one puts in. Or under what conditions.

Now obviously if you have spare land for the horses to graze on, and which would otherwise be unused, then the horsepower comes nearly "free". But if there is a shortage of growing land, as looks very likely in many areas, then perhaps the productivity enhancement due to the horses would be less than the loss from the land used to feed the horses.

Does anyone have any useful stats on this?

The use of so many horses in the past suggests a population living well below the limit in those areas, unless the land could only be used for grazing.
[I've just noticed Black_Dog raising the same question two/three posts down - but any replies will still be appreciated.]

Can someone please answer an ignorant but important question about horsepower. That is whether one actually gets more resource out of them than one puts in. Or under what conditions.

No, one does not get more out than one puts in. Never. A horse is as subject to thermodynamics as anything else. One gets a different quality of energy and a more concentrated energy than the pasture and hay.

Every cycle where energy is concentrated, there is a loss of energy.

cfm in Gray, ME

Thanks cfm but I think you'll see that I wasn't looking for an answer to the basic physics question (some exception to conservation of energy!) but rather an answer to the practical one, like as putting up solar thermal obviously "gives" you a a gain even though from physics point of view one is merely tapping into solar radiation. I think it's already been answered below, and also dismissed as probably all the horses will get eaten (along with all the trees being burnt perhaps).


Sgage is speaking from 'experience'.
What you quote is just googletrash....just 'information'.

Around here is Western Ky and elsewhere people are trying to give horses away. They don't wish to feed them anymore when they need to feed themselves.

A quick trip to the auction barns here in the outback shows many horses once went to slaughter houses , but no more due to some reg or whatever, are now very cheap and they are good horseflesh.

I raised,bred,trained and rode horses for a very long time.

Its easy to make tack. Easy to train horses. Easy to breed , just takes time but one good stud can service many many mares.

You see its experience that matters and not what some egghead statician sez.

Get out of googleland and in the REAL world. Research? Bullshit.

Sorry but you need some better experience and not just some links.

Now on a different matter:

Around here the news is that a huge amount of our corn crop is not pollenating!!!..In several counties the whole crop may be lost.

We suspect bad seed but the seed goons are saying its high temperatures which is also 'bullshit'. They have screwed with the seed stock and now perhaps they will face some very very irate farmners who wish to skin them alive.

This is word of mouth from my buddy who raises 3,000 plus acres of grain here. You might want to do your GoogleMagic on that subject.

Airdale....telling it like it is and not just spewing 'infoshit'

Working with horses would be a good idea if the population weren't so large. How many acres does it take to feed a horse, 1? 2? And how many more does it take to provide fodder for the winter, another 1 or 2? That land used to feed horses might also be used to feed cows or grow crops, so using it for a large number of horses would likely reduce the amount of land for crops, thus less food overall. After there is a population crash, those of us left alive will indeed be able to keep going with horses, just as folks did in the 19th century.

E. Swanson


Thanks for your replies to cj. But the fact that some/many
people can't afford to feed horses and so have to give them away for zilch does not in any way answer the question of whether there will be enough horses to fulfil a future requirement for horsepower.

And "experience" is not always so hot. What is true of one locality does not necessarily apply to other localities, unless some reason for assuming so can be adduced. It calls to mind people who visit a country, and interact briefly with perhaps a hundred people in a nation of 100 million and thereby presume that they have greater expertise about that country than someone who does extensive reading about that country.

well, I plowed through your links and I really can't see where you have supported your argument at all.
We have tons of horses now, from your own links it is either 2.5 million, or 6.9 million, or 10 million. US alone.
Breeding horses may not be fast, but it is not difficult and millions of Americans would devote themselves with a passion to it if there was any market.
Just remove restriction on selling horsemeat and see what happens to the horse population in the US. This is not too abstract, I know my own family would double its herd in two years.
If we did run a horse shortage, I'm confident we could find someone to sell us some. According to your own source, China has 12 million horses, fancy that.

with a population of 300 million people, and most of the horses are concentrated in certain areas, leaving most areas with few horses.

Now would be the time to start breeding more horses.

But with people saying "hey no problem," it will never happen.

I'll jump in here with the "real reality" and it underscores one of our many reasons to get out of the U.S. (Qualifier: although, I don't think its possible - note not probable - major disruptions will be contained by the 49th parallel in N. America).

Before we ever get close to a draft animal work based society, there will be destitute bands of dispossessed and desperados roaming the country creating mayhem and chaos. There are far more high powered weapons out there than horses and I expect the prior will be exercised on the later for food if it becomes necessary.

There will be an upheaval of unimagined proportions by those that will try to maintain life as we know it, the likelihood of a supply and demand by lower energy density farming means is about the same 95% confidence level of oil in Greenland-Eastern Canada. That is, the anguished mobs will burn it all to the ground before we have a chance at a semblance of smooth transition.

Therefore, much of the banter back and forth on this subject is really a non sequitur.

That's one reason why we got out of the U.S. When things go bad there is going to about 270 million people (90%) that are really pissed off, and many of them have guns. Good luck with your "Well formed militias,...", I'm sure they will be dutifully upholding the Second Amendment.

With few exceptions population density in the US and Canada is much less than Europe, and that is whether you measure by raw acreage or arable land. Societal collapse is actually less likely here for that reason, the relative peace of the 30's in America vs. the cutthroat 30's of Europe.

Roving bands of soldiers did just fine with swords axes and bows before, no need for guns. Read up on the Middle Ages, or current Africa, if you have any doubts in that area.

Soldiers with modern firearms beat soldiers without EVERY (99+%) of the time.


And a 115 lb 5'2" frail damsel with a .38 beats any man she gets the drop on. That wasn't the case during the Middle Ages.

Modern firearms are here to stay, too many people know how to make them, and too many people are interested in preserving that knowledge.

T Boone Pickens was the main financier for the movement to ban horsemeat in the USA :-(


Lots of useless horses around today that can hardly be given away.

Not sure if the law applies to home slaughter and consumption. If not, for the time of a traveling butcher one could get two (or more) freezers full of meat.



Here on TOD it might be a good idea to look at the future when all of the electric stuff fails. "Been here done that" ......and forgotten it.

The failure of the Interstate highways and power grid is years away, and with all the electric stuff fails.

Horses are not so easy:


You say that wagons are not a particularly tough thing to make. Are you sure, that was once a skilled trade and took many parts made of iron/steel, special wood, iron strapping, and leather. And who is going to make all of that stuff in large quantities.

As for beaming energy down from outer space, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has it so far down the list that they don't even consider it.

"Horses are not so easy:"

No, not easy, but...

Compared to nukes? OMG! Leather! How will we cope with this exotic and high technology!

Guess what? There are people who know how to do that, all of that. You could outfit a couple of zillion horses for the cost of one nuke.

But I am not saying we're moving to a horse-powered economy tomorrow. I'm just saying that horses work. I, and many others, work with horses all the time, and get a lot of work done. I'm not sure where the vehemence of your posts comes from. Are you allergic to horses? Is it that they are alive?


You say "Are you allergic to horses?"

Are you sure you got the right guy mate?

It is clear from my comments here that we need more horses and we need to start breeding them NOW.

I have probably been riding horses since way before you were born, starting about 1950 :)

I love horses as much as dogs and more than some people :)

What great animals!! Riding is a team effort and mutual trust. And horses have a sense of humor, more so than some people :)

By the way, when I say horses are not so easy, they do require special food, which is hard to get in the U.S. And often they require vets and special medicines.

It would be a good idea to look into these things now, and plan ahead. But if you say, "hey no problem, easy stuff," then people will not plan ahead.

Horses need water, a lot of water. They need acres of grazing and in some climates a winter supply of hay and grain. Saying we have plenty of horses is like saying we have plenty of people. The problem is finding enough of the right type of land for both. Land with water is in extremely short supply when you consider how many people will need it. I'd love a good team of draft horses, but if they are 500 miles away I'm not going to get them. By the time we need to ramp up to using horses I believe the majority of riding horses throughout the most populated parts of the country will have already been eaten. There is simply not enough wild game and domesticated meat animals to last more than a few months once the grocery shelves are empty.

It boils down to time. Without enough of it, our best of plans just won't work. Remember also, we used to hang horse thieves:)

I agree with you and others here on the difficulty of feeding horses and the problem of keeping them alive during the crash. On the other hand, without them, people will be plowing and hauling wood like donkeys, and maybe some of them are :)

Apparently the Feds don't want to support the wild horse poulation anymore either.


Wild Horses May Face Death Sentence:

With the price of hay up and horse adoptions down, a federal agency may begin killing wild horses to deal with surplus numbers. Letting evolution take its course doesn't cut it these days, the Bureau of Land Management says, prompting wild horse advocates to rally around this symbol of the old West.

Keeping dry batteries and sulfuric acid on hand is a great idea, actually. I think I will add that to my house when I get the chance. I'm planning on my main batteries being some Rolls batteries, rated at 15 years life span. Two sets of those things, one to start now, and another set that is dry to keep on hand when the first set dies should be good enough to last me the rest of my life.

Durability and robustness will be prized in future.

Check out nickel-iron batteries before committing to lead-acid or other types. Just a suggestion.

Edison was a smart cookie. :)

From my research the only remaining vendors are Chinese, and are expensive.


That is going to the story for most items VS what oil used to cost.

But what price electricity when its otherwise not about?
(and, if you have it and no one else does - how ya gonna live to see the 'marrow?)

I don't understand how anybody could have believed that it would be possible to spend ourselves out of the economic problems we have. That is basically what Bush said we should do after the dot com crash and 9/11. It was doomed to fail. Economies always have ups and downs. The more we went through pains to avoid recession, the more we've cemented our fate.

So for years some of us have been yelling fire in a crowded theater, but the majority have said the smoke was just a special effect that we shouldn't be concerned about. Now the fire is spread and nipping on all of our heels because nobody would listen. The longer this goes on, the more we've cemented our highway of future misery.

Maybe it work yesterday, but today is another day. And maybe some folks got rich off of spending and thus using more oil. $$$ = oil and oil = money.

And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

Trains and mining equipment are already often electric powered. There are nuclear ships. Perhaps a small reactor could be mass produced at acceptable cost for large ships.

Large trucks and farm equipment is where there may not be that good substitutes. Perhaps we will need electrified trunk roads that handle most of the traffic with short haul using batteries. Maybe there will need to be smaller trucks made of ultralight materials. Or move more freight on barges or trains. Or reduce travel by more local production and smarter route computation.

There was an article on TOD a year of so about Lithium Iron batteries that said that they might have 5-10 minute recharge time at very high amperage. Maybe you need a small tractor with many batteries with a recharge point in the field (not for small farms but as Stuart demonstrated, peak oil favors increasing size of farms.) Obviously we would need a lot of grid buildout for that.

Electrified transportation seems inevitable. If it is the only power source available, we will figure out how to make do.

Like Cheney, McCain is fighting (literally) for the American Way of Life. The implication against Democrats is always that all their actions are a plot to replace it with the alien, urban, high-density metrosexual way of life. The religious Right calls it secular humanism, the NRA calls it gun control, the racists call it multiculturalism. In this case, the Gramm pro-growth faction condemns conservation as negativism. Every faction has their own term to describe the particular threat to suburban norms it most fears.

As an GOA and NRA member, I wish you would stop showing your ignorance about us. Most of us are libertarians, which means at this point in time, we hate both political parties equally. Rule #1 is mind your own d*mn business.

Gun control is about elitism and control, nothing more. Ask Obama and his buddy Daley to do without their bodyguards and then take a looksee under their suits. Guess what you will find? Rumor has it that Daley packs religiously, even though he opposes allowing it for anyone else but his thugs. Even Kennedy's own bodyguard was arrested for not following DC gun laws in the 80's, but of course, this was swept under the rug.

Too bad Ron Paul didn't make it, we might have had a chance. Now the vote is either slow collapse (McCain) or fast balkanization (Obama).

I said "factions". The religious right, the NRA, the war worshippers, the "white separatist" movement, etc, have all been part of the coalition of factions put together by Barry Goldwater. What welded them together sufficiently to keep Reagan and the Bushes in power was the belief of an invasion of un-American values. They may claim (incessantly) not to be part of the same movement, but they worked together long enough to get us where we are today. Either they intended it, or they were suckers. My guess is the richer they were, the more likely they intended it.

I was attending the University of Houston in the early '80s where it was so hip and trendy to be a Libertarian. I was the one who kept saying, "If we just erase the New Deal, we'll go back to the Great Depression." Well, we got rid of Glass-Steagall and deregulated everything that was rapidly profitable to do so. We begged the capitalists to do unto us what the robber barons used to. And we wanted the state to return to its role in 1900 - when it spied on labor organizers and anti-imperialist radicals, handed natural resources to big corporations dirt cheap, and used the National Guard to gun down workers. Two out of three so far.

It was very easy in Houston in those days to see self-described Libertarians who worshipped the Strategic Defense Initiative, jerked off to jet fighter videos and "Soldier of Fortune", and generally dreamed of a godlike Pentagon imposing fat oligarchs at gunpoint. Also to see evangelicals who wanted the government to tax the rich at lower rates than the poor on the grounds that the poor were intellectually inferior. And then there were all those Confederate flag stickers on truck bumpers. So from where I'm at, the connections between all the disparate factions of the Right is pretty clear: a fantasy about recreating the world ruled by Victorian British capitalism, where the greedy were backed by the Thin Red Line on the picket line and the Great White Fleet abroad, and everyone else was fishbait. As one locally-popular bumper sticker put it, "God, Guts and Guns, what made America great."

Oh yeah, they all loved our oil companies too. Maybe that's the one real thing that held all the fantasies together. Without that, the political coalitions of our time don't make much sense.

apparently any crazy left leaning coalitions don't make it into this rant too often. I'd like to point out that a lot of the things in here would raise taxes, either directly or indirectly, or reduce civil liberties. Technically speaking, voting for these things gets you the boot from the libertarian party.

The pledge you have to sign to join the libertarian party

Edit: I don't mean to imply that the left is crazy, rather i am going off the concept that coalitions are crazy.

On top of it all, I've seen many self described Democrats that are dye in the wool socialist/communists. If i were to imply that Democrats where communists because of this in the same way you are implying that libertarians are neocons, it would be considered offensive. You are guilty of the same action as you accused the "Factions" of doing to the democrats, unjustly painting them with a negative agenda to further your own political position.

I'm not one who usually cares about the ratings system, but i think that this post being at a +5 underlines the true problem with our political system. People are uninformed.

This argument is about how right wing factions use their political machines to convince people that Democrats will bring an "alien, urban, high-density metrosexual way of life". The problem here is that this is just slander that has nothing to do with the party. All of this is just a big culmination of fallacies. When called out on this, the people making these claims will find a crazy fringe member that doesn't actually represent the parties views and point to them as proof. The other common right-wing trick is to paint Democrats as Marxists, and while there may be a fringe group that are, they in no means represent the actual platform that the party is based on. Basically they are Marxists calling themselves democrats.

This treatment is clearly unacceptable. The accusations are riding the edge of lander so hard it's crazy, and yet people buy it. The buy it because they don't know any better. They buy it because they are uninformed. Calling Democrats Alien, metro, or communists (etc) is clearly offensive because it is not what the party truly stands for, even if a few people claiming to be democrats believe this way.

In the same way, the implications made in this post about the libertarian party, or libertarians in general, are just as ridiculous as the ones that the accused coalition is making towards the democrats. All of these thing are about increased coercion, which is the very thing libertarians are fighting against. Claiming that these people in Houston are libertarians is the exact same thing as calling the marxists democrats, or saying that democrats promote "alien, urban, high-density metrosexual way of life". This rides on the edge of slander and is distasteful.

People need to be informed, but all the lies and slander are making it hard to do so. The coalitions, factions, forum posters, and whoever else need to stop this behavior. Having a difference of political position is great! Lying to promote it it sleazy.

People need to be informed, but all the lies and slander [by politicians] are making it hard to do so. The coalitions, factions, forum posters, and whoever else need to stop this behavior. Having a difference of political position is great! Lying to promote it is sleazy.


What happens behind the curtains is a lot more sophisticated than simple "lying".

The politicians have "think tanks" working for them.
The think tankers use focus groups to figure out what subconscious messages will resonate with the American people at the moment, not on a rational level, but rather on an emotional level.

Should we call Obama a Muslim today?
Should we call him an elitist celebrity?
How about a tax and spend Marxist? What's going to stick today?
What coded wordings will remind Americans that Obama don't look like them other fella's on the dollar bill?

You're only seeing above the surface.
Below the surface there is a fierce war ongoing for the "hearts" and minds of the American people.
Polls show that the McCain sleaze tactics are working. You can't argue with success. Sleaze works (when done with the right think tank assistants).

sophisticated lying is still lying. Lying to sway peoples heart is the same as lying to pollute their reason. Sleaze clearly works, this is apparent in super390's railing on Libertarians.

I mean, the tricks super390 is pulling are the same as those think tanks. Why is it ok super390 to do it? Because he isn't powerful? Because you don't like Libertarians? Is the double standard not obvious here?

Well, i guess i can say that i know how democrats feel. I am now seeing a peak oil think tank support and reward a member for totally misrepresenting my party and ideals. I can clearly see how the slippery slope of democrats leading to an "alien, urban, high-density metrosexual way of life" plays on the subconscious of the american people, because it is playing out before my eyes about libertarians. If you don't see how portraying libertarians as people who "worshipped the Strategic Defense Initiative, jerked off to jet fighter videos and 'Soldier of Fortune', and generally dreamed of a godlike Pentagon imposing fat oligarchs at gunpoint", is the same thing as what is being done to democrats, then you don't understand the problem. If you think it is ok because of who does these things, then you haven't even seen the problem.

But what really boggles my mind about gun ownership in the U.S. is that people can't read. Incredible, but millions of otherwise intelligent Americans can't read a plain sentence. Nor do they have a concept of the contextual value of a preamble. For example, the one that goes "For the Purpose of a Well Formed Militia,..."

Now how many gun owners in the U.S. does anyone think belong to a militia? The fact that in one decision the Supreme Court threw out the relevance of that preamble only illustrates political obfuscation and not support for the oaths they swore in protecting the Constitution.

I own guns and I use them for hunting. I don't think guns have a place in population densities any higher than one person per sq. mile. Neither did the towns of the old west either, just in case fantasies of the wild west abound - that's what precipitated the shoot out at the OK Corral.

But before the discussion gets heated, the argument is moot. One only has to look at the Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (or 2006) and see the Second Amendment has been washed away like a mid-west flood. Everything the 2nd was constructed to prevent and protect has been taken over by the king, umm, errrr, I mean President. I'll bet this topic doesn't come up at local NRA chapter meetings. This isn't conspiracy, these are laws on the books.

The state militias, aka what we call militias, did not exist until the early 1900's. From the birth of our nation until then, militia was basically anybody over 17 that could hold a gun. The understood definition of militia has changed since the constitution was drafted, whether or not we should go by the founding fathers definition or the current one is up to your political position. I would also point out that the second amendment reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed". If you think this is meant as the collective people of the US or a right given to the individuals is, once again, a political position.

In my view (I am not a constitutional law scholar) the right being protected is for local groups of citizens to protect themselves from the federal government.

Let's rationally consider "shall not infringe". It is obvious from founding fathers' writings that they distrusted a strong gov't and foreign gov'ts, so local forces were envisioned. If you don't have free ownership of guns in an area it must be managed in some way. If it's managed there must be definitions for what "arms" are OK and who can be part of the "well formed militia".

If it's not everybody and every arm, then somebody gets to decide who gets good guns and who gets none. It can be safely assumed that the gov't agents will get the guns if they make the laws, and then you have all you need for a frightened populace waiting for door-kicks in the night.

Certainly many rights have been infringed already, but that's no reason to let a big one go. Instead we should win some back. Tell ya what - I won't make you have a gun, and you don't make me not. Freedom is a wonderful idea. Let's give it a chance.

Gun control is about elitism and control, nothing more.

That, my friend, is bullpoop. And this is why many are disgusted with/laugh at the NRA. I support some parts of gun control. I'm an elite? since your entire perspective is fallacious, how do you expect to be taken seriously?

Personally, I think the NRA understands the Right to Bear Arms about as well as Bush understands his oath of office. The right to bear arms is grounded utterly in the ability of the militia (people) to defend their nation from theats foreign and domestic. It is not a god-given right to just HAVE guns - particularly when they are so often used for anything BUT being in a militia.

I will say that since the Bush Administration has been in office my views have moderated, but, who expected the US president and VP would ever be sociopaths?


The political discourse effectively mirrors the character of the American public. No better reason to be a pessimist...

This should be the counter punch that is used by Obamas team when confronted by the political theater that's being used by his opponents.

Finding out that old growth forest is 3 times the carbon sink that a "plantation" raise some eyebrows...and torpedo's some assumptions...

I had hope this political cycle would bring peak out as a topic,but I doubt it.Its still to hot politically,and has tinfoil connotations.I expect it to be a mainstream topic directly after the election

Mccain is so out of it that I expect a major gaff to sink his boat when the going starts to get rough...facing Obama in a debate would be a interesting faceoff...except I bet when put in a corner Mccain would blow a fuse when carefully needled a few times...

There's a new book out that will make the case that Obama is a muslim in disguise. I know the pains that Obama has gone through to distance himself from these claims. However, he went a little overboard distancing himself from Islam when there is good evidence that he has had far more exposure to Islamic teachings than many realize. Among the evidence is information from Obama himself. Perhaps without realizing it, he admitted in his book that he studied the Quran. Ex-schoolmates of his have been located and given statements about the extent of Obama's Islamic education. He also has political and family ties to Islam.

I'm not saying that I agree that he's Muslim, but I'm relating that there will be a nasty campaign to discredit him soon. Yes there have been many attempts so far, but the indications are that a big swift boating is coming his way quickly. McCain has failed to offer much of a challenge, but Obama is making some big mistakes now that Hillary is out of the way. Perhaps the worst mistake of all was threatening a windfall profits tax. Populism won't get him far when the oil companies are throwing their considerable weight behind McCain.

I support neither Obama or McCain. Either Presidency seems like a disaster in the waiting. I'm for a complete overhaul of our political system and I don't think it's decades away. Once the people realize how badly the politicians have failed us all, we're going to see support for 3rd parties grow. Perhaps then we'll find a way to rise from the ashes.

As far as McCain's temper, he has always been able to turn that into an advantage in the past. It doesn't bode well for the country if he become President. However, Obama is avoiding debating McCain for a reason. It will take a miracle for McCain to win, yes. The election is Obama's to lose and has been for at least the past year.. but lose it he can.

The saddest fact is that American people even care about the fact that somebody has "had ties to Islamic culture and education".

People would rather vote for a lying geriatric patient who doesn't understand anything about economy than a person who "has exposure to islamic teachings".

Are American voters really that stupid, please tell me it ain't so?

I'm truly flabbergasted.

It is so. They are. Any "solution" which doesn't take account of this is doomed, IMO.

If this were truly a matter of faith, then Christians should be heartened by the fact that Obama was exposed to the ideas of a rival evangelical cult and did not join it. The fact that the mere exposure to ideas is seen as contamination is very revealing. Perhaps they are uninterested in having members who have actually participated in the marketplace of ideas, but they are very afraid of the White House falling into the hands of someone who (supposedly) might hesitate to gleefully exterminate Moslems as subhuman devils when the magic opportunity arises. Whereas McCain isn't religious at all, but he sure loves bombing people who are different than himself. He even sings about it!

Actually, the overwhelming majority of Americans have had exposure to Islamic and Arabic culture. If they use the number zero (0), they are using Arabic teachings. Ever since I've been using the number zero, I've had this irresistible inclination for terrorism and Jihad. I just can't get the words "Allah Akbar" out of my head.

To quote the great Homer of Simpson, "Damn you zero!"

How about if you studied "Al-jabera" in school?

That makes you a Manchurian candidate ready to be triggered by the call for the Caliphate.

Did someone say "quadratic equation"? I hear and obey. What are your commands master?

I believe the concept of zero as a number actually comes from India. Although it is true that us backward Europeans learned it from the Arabic cultures.

India. Yes.

If you've ever seen Obama without his telepromter, you'd realize the falicy of your statement. He's nothing without a good speech writer, which he won't have in the debates to come.

If you've ever seen Obama without his telepromter, you'd realize the falicy of your statement.

Oh really? While I don't agree with his politics, (whatever they are - show me a politician who is honest as to his beliefs to the public)I've seen Obama many times on unscripted appearances, and have friends who know him personally. This guy is as sharp as they come. Not that he'll need many intellectual weapons for "Mr. near the bottom of his class" McCain. Well, at least McCain was smart enough to divorce and then marry rich to boost his political ambitions.

whatever they are - show me a politician who is honest as to his beliefs to the public

Kucinich, Paul, Feingold come closer than others. But even Dr. 'I love the Constitution and Liberty' Paul hasn't manned up and filed paperwork to impeach.

Feingold's predecessor, William Proxmire, was one of those rare politicians who was honest to his beliefs.

All this talk about Obama versus McCain got me to dig up their wiki biographies.

The wiki on McCain is not very re-assuring:

McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. In high school, he excelled at wrestling and graduated in 1954.

McCain entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. There, he was a friend and leader for many of his classmates, and sometimes stood up for people who were being bullied. He also became a lightweight boxer. McCain came into conflict with higher-ranking personnel, he did not always obey the rules, and that contributed to a low class rank (894 of 899) that he did not aim to improve. He did well in academic subjects that interested him, such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass subjects he disliked, such as math. McCain graduated in 1958.

While that is true, the debates will be rigged to ask all the hard questions to Mccain. Obama will get praise, thinly disguised as questions.

Obama's incompetence would show in a Townhall type campaign set-up. Mccain has proposed 10 joint townhall appearences. Obama has refused to do even one.

Are you for real? Town hall setups have a tendency to be loaded with “ringers’. Bush did the same strategy during his last campaign.


Oh, please. McCain will get a basket full of softballs, and Obama will get difficult questions that use Republican framing....

I call BS! They will both get watered down MSM media fluff questions and be allowed to answer in the vaguest ways possible. Double points for dodging questions completely.

Nice to see how poorly you lie.

Democrat, Republican, panderer, human - We're all subject to the same flaws:

"blah, blah, blah, … bang

"The science of human behavior, particularly the psychology of risk perception, robustly shows that we use two systems to make judgments about risk; reason and affect, facts and feelings. It is simply naïve to disregard this inescapable truth and presume that reason and intellect alone will carry the day. That’s just not how the human animal behaves.

"The very concept of sustainability is predicated on reason…that humans can see the collective harms their behaviors are doing, and, as rational actors, correct those behaviors. But there is overwhelming evidence from all sorts of fields that our behaviors are not so much a product of reason as they are the result of our overpowering animal instinct to survive. Nearly all of your stories are evidence of the consequences that arise from the fact that we are still human ANIMALS, doing what evolution has programmed us to do.

Quoted in:

Thanks for the link.

(Up button not working, but add one more to your rating score.)

I'm still waiting for that giant 'hissing' sound as thousands of dittoheads let the air out of the tires on their SUVs because someone calls in to claim they got better mileage with less air in their tires.

Might of well tell them to put sugar in the gas tank at the same time.

Oh! That's the "You too can make Ethanol in your gas tank!" meme.

Insightful article about car ownership in China in the Dallas Morning News...


Some auto industry analysts predict that China will eclipse the U.S. by 2015 to become the world's largest car market.

Will this develop because the Chinese market grows, or the USA market shrinks ?

Best Hopes for More Bicycles & Tricycles (e & regular),


I don't know, but it appears that at least some in China are no longer content to peddle their tricycles around while Americans cruise the streets in their Hummers:

Huang Ying, a Shanghai sales manager who drives about 15,000 miles a year in his new Peugeot sedan, likes the proven technology of the gasoline-fired, internal combustion engine. He says it's up to others to move to less-harmful fuels such as hydrogen or electric cars.

"The American people perhaps can afford that," he said. "I'd rather be driving one of those big cars with a big engine like you have."

The only reason I now ride a bike to work is because earlier in my life I drove a car to work...and I've experienced the diminishing returns. I had/have the choice, and that is something a large swath of China has yet to experience.

Only in a first-world nation do we pay top dollar to emulate third-world travel. Any idea what a quality road bike costs these days? Geez...

Diet is closely related, too. Not only will Huang Ying drive a car from now on, he'll also have increasing access to animal protein. And what do we do here, after realizing the diminishing returns? We pay top dollar for what's essentially a third-world diet.

Chinese-built Sachs Express, brand new on the road (Melbourne, Aus) for $2,490. 1 year warranty. Sure it's only a 150cc, but great value and peppy enough for local roads. Also add at least $700 for some decent gear. Fuel savings will easily offset rego, insurance and tyre replacement every 15,000km. Anyone looking at a motor scooter should test-ride.

Tip: First-time riders, pretend you're INVISIBLE to every car and truck around you. Other than that, riding's an absolute hoot!

Regards, Matt B

I found this funny


The government doesn't see self-restraint as the answer.

"It's not so easy to say to the Chinese, 'You have to consume less or you're going to kill the planet,' " said Christine Loh, director of the Hong Kong think tank Civic Exchange.


Hehe tell that to the American and see what you get. Like everyone else, the need to consume in order to compete is so tremendous. It's all about "face-value". Why bother driving a bicycle when you can have a car, better yet a Hummer, and run everyone else off the road --- it's that kind of mentality we are born with. Can we ever evolve away from evolution? It'll probably be TODDERs vs non-TODDERs in the future world -- who do you think have more weapons?

It'll probably be TODDERs vs non-TODDERs in the future world -- who do you think have more weapons?

That's easy.
You can't kill ideas, but you can kill the people holding those ideas. ;)
"It's all the fault of those Peak Oilers!"

I plan to fade into the background for a decade or so. ;)

The MIT breakthrough on electrolysis of water is interesting. Everyone is stunned by the announcement. After all the hydrogen economy was supposed to be a bust. Now it may be very practical. What are we going to think now?

Actually it should provide a good storage medium to smooth out wind and solar generated grid power.

There will be a key post on it soon. Basically, it's way overhyped. And much misunderstood.

It's overhyped--until we repeal the laws of nature.

Huh? Please do explain what laws of nature have to be repealed for something of this nature to work? I am not saying for sure that this will work as they say it will, time will only tell on that, but theoretically it is possible (no laws of nature are being violated).

Theoretically? or TheoRhetorically?

"In theory, theory should work like real life.. but in real life, it doesn't. Why is that?"

Of course no laws of nature are being violated, nor will they be.. there's just an implied promise with SO many of these breakthroughs that Would break the laws if they Could. (Fortunately, I never studied law.)

"Who exactly is going to buy this electrolyzer, plus a home hydrogen storage system, plus an expensive fuel cell -- for the sole purpose of taking valuable zero-carbon peak electricity and throwing more than half of it away in the round trip, all for the luxury of having nighttime power which we can buy for virtually nothing on the grid. Why not just run your friggin' electric car on cheap wind power that blows mainly at night?"

I would... just to have independence from the grid.

I totally agree, I think wind charged electric transport will be a big part of future energy supply. The charging profile fits with night time energy production as you mentioned.
Although both have high upfront costs, the running costs will be minimal with no variations.

There is also huge potential radically improving building heating / cooling with insulation, heat recovery ventilation and adding thermal mass.

As Bob keeps reminding us there is a huge need to move towards O-NPK recycling, and I think it is possible to compost humanure and grow large amounts of biomass (bamboo/hemp/willow) in greenhouses fed from CO2 from burning fossil fuels. The biomass can be gassified and used as a gas fuel or put through the FT process to make liquid fuels. The char produced can be used to improve soil quality
(bio char) to help rebuild soil quality.

Good idea?

wisco - Wind blows mainly during the day, at least on the earth.

Wind production during the daytime works out nicely, as peak demand is in the afternoon and evening. Gas peaker plants flip on when the wind is dead.

And the 2/3s of our power which comes from coal and nuclear base load stations will still be producing much of our electricity decades from now, assuring cheaper energy at night due to lower demand.

If the PHEVs catch on and prove economical, we'll see day/night electricity pricing in many residential homes. They already do it for businesses and industrial users.

Well Jeff, I'll have to give it a 50/50. Normally I am the biggest critic of the hydrogen economy, but there may be validity in short term energy storage to smooth out intermittent supplies. That is, if the hydrogen is produced and consumed in situ over a period of a couple of days using an electrical source that has low value off-peak, then there is some merit.

In many places where there is wind, pumped storage wouldn't be applicable, so this would be a possible alternate technology.

That's about as much credence as I'll give it. Hydrogen for mass scale transit, etc. is stupid, stupid, stupid.

Oh, I think it's great too.

Great in the sense that it'll temporarily undervalue oil and give me a great chance to buy more oil stocks.

When you combine an oxygen molecule with 2 hydrogen molecules, you get 2 water molecules and some energy. To convert the water back into hydrogen and oxygen consumes the same amount of energy you got from combining them, minus a bit lost to entropy.

The process does not produce energy. It is a chemical battery, nothing more.

Now, we desperately need a better battery, and improvements in battery efficiency are very welcome. I don't know of anyone who has ever said the hydrogen economy was a bust, just that (a) needs several technological breakthroughs before it is practical, and (b) doesn't solve the energy problem, only the energy portability problem.

Since hydrogen is a way to store energy, the question is will it be a better alternative than some of the other schemes for storing, for example, wind power. Would it be better than what we normally think of as chemical batteries, pumped storage, and air storage, for examples? Wind and solar definitely need some kind of storage to be more practical. If hydrogen can be better than these other alternatives, it may have an important future.

Electric trains could use wind power, of course. Unless the trains are going to start and stop as the wind blows, there must be storage of some sort or a fossil fueled backup like natural gas. Alternatively, the trains could store power on board as the wind blows, a grid to vehicle arrangement. Perhaps, however, a hybrid electric/hydrogen train would be better than fossil fuel backup, storage outside the train, or storage on the train.

As long as hydrogen is thought of as a potential battery, perhaps it has a future.

There is also the leakage issue since it is so hard and expensive to contain the hydrogen. Of course, in essence, chemical batteries also leak in the sense that they lose power even when not in use. Is this loss of power from batteries worse or better than hydrogen?

Recognize that any time something positive is posted here, even if it's just one small step towards mitigation, an effort will be made to torpedo what you have to say. Frankly I think it's unfair to see your comment voted down so much. Trying to make a counter point to your statement is one thing, but making all the people with more optimistic views feel unwelcomed is another thing entire. We really need to do something about this. Frankly, I'm at the point where I feel this new karma system is becoming counter-productive.

I hold a pessimistic view, it's what some might describe as Doomerish. However, I really want to be proven wrong for having little hope. I was wrong about Y2K, so that's why I can't accept the depth of the negativity around here. I might add that a lot of the people who were most adamant about Y2K (and who even profited from dire claims) are also on the peak oil bandwagon. Frankly it undercuts their claims and is my only source for a sliver of optimism. It would restore my faith in humanities ability to survive long enough to inhabit the solar system and the cosmos. The issues we're discussing here are summed up succinctly at the top of the page "Discussions about energy and our future."

I guess there is a good argument for pessimism though... it's the only thing that seems to get enough attention on the problem in the first place. If we've done nothing else here, we've established a scientifically principled basis for energy policy.

The way I look at it, unworkable pie-in-the-sky thermodynamics-defying pollyannish cornucopianism needs to be torpedoed as soon as it shows up. Real workable solutions are welcome, but in any case, there is a lot of hard work and adaptation ahead, and the last thing we need is goofy distractions to encourage people to carry on BAU and think that "they" will figure something out.

Upvoted for a clear statement that also reflects my thoughts on the matter.

Of late I feel that there have been far too many wild statements and claims when it comes to technologies that offer a chance, or the illusion thereof, of weaning society off oil.

At this point, sinking time and effort into such follies is as great a misallocation of energy as taking out a 7-year auto loan to get your SUV on.

I think part of why I come back to TOD daily is/was my faint hope that a "real, workable solution" will somehow appear, but it is increasingly clear that folks like CJ and Jay Hanson and Garrett Hardin had this dilemma pegged: humans are in overshoot, a correction is overdue, and there will be much regret.

I think people are just tired of it, because it's been posted here repeatedly for almost a week now.

Wow, a whole week. Speaking of tiring though, I have to go read some more westexas repeats. Can't wait for the new season to start though.

Actually speek, although you have been down voted I agree with you. This is not to say Jeffrey does not have valuable contributions, matter of fact I have great respect for his postings. However, its looking like westexas is a hammer and everything looks like nail.

ELM may prove to be one of the most significant energy and economic principles of our time, but not every topic has to be centered around it.

For the throng that down voted speek, he has a point and I am seeing signs of herd mentality going on here.

everything looks like nail.

That is what this site is about - everything looks like cheap oil and instead of a hammer-nail interaction its a crowbar-nail interaction and the results of removing nails from our buildings.

I am seeing signs of herd mentality going on here.

and almost every reg. poster has their items they repeat over and over.

Now, when will the 'complain about the repeat' complain about the 'newbies' who repeat the same questions?

I have great respect for westexas ... but, I have seen the same, nearly verbatim posts every day for nearly 2 years now, and I don't think any individual does that without a certain amount of OCD or worse. Additionally, much of his reasoning is suspect when it comes to predicting Saudi oil output based on Hubbert Linearization, as Robert Rapier very competently showed. In short, I think westexas is a victim of confirmation bias, though he happens (coincidentally) to be mostly right, which clouds the questionable logic for both him and most of his followers.


That's a dry sense of humor you have there. We could use you for flood control!



In 2004, the National Academy of Engineering identified 4 significant problems with a hydrogen economy in, The Hydrogen Economy:

Opportunities, Costs, Barriers, and R&D Needs:

“There are major hurdles on the path to achieving the vision of the hydrogen economy; the path will not be simple or straightforward. Many of the committee’s observations generalize across the entire hydrogen economy: the hydrogen system must be cost-competitive, it must be safe and appealing to the consumer and it would preferably offer advantages from the perspectives of energy security and CO2 emissions. Specifically for the transportation sector, dramatic progress in the development of fuel cells, storage devices, and distribution systems is especially critical. Widespread success is not certain. The committee believes that for hydrogen-fueled transportation, the four most fundamental technological and economic challenges are these:
1. To develop and introduce cost-effective, durable, safe, and environmentally desirable fuel cell systems and hydrogen storage systems. Current fuel cell lifetimes are much too short and fuel cell costs are at least an order of magnitude too high. An on-board vehicular hydrogen storage system that has an energy density approaching that of gasoline systems has not been developed. Thus, the resulting range of vehicles with existing hydrogen storage systems is much too short.

2. To develop the infrastructure to provide hydrogen for the light-duty-vehicle user. Hydrogen is currently produced in large quantities at reasonable costs for industrial purposes. The committee’s analysis indicates that at a future, mature stage of development, hydrogen (H2) can be produced and used in fuel cell vehicles at reasonable cost. The challenge, with today’s industrial hydrogen as well as tomorrow’s hydrogen, is the high cost of distributing H2 to dispersed locations. This challenge is especially severe during the early years of a transition, when demand is even more dispersed. The costs of a mature hydrogen pipeline system would be spread over many users, as the cost of the natural gas system is today. But the transition is difficult to imagine in detail. It requires many technological innovations related to the development of small-scale production units. Also, nontechnical factors such as financing, siting, security, environmental impact, and the perceived safety of hydrogen pipelines and dispensing systems will play a significant role. All of these hurdles must be overcome before there can be widespread use. An initial stage during which hydrogen is produced at small scale near the small user seems likely. In this case, production costs for small production units must be sharply reduced, which may be possible with expanded research.

3. To reduce sharply the costs of hydrogen production from renewable energy sources, over a time frame of decades. Tremendous progress has been made in reducing the cost of making electricity from renewable energy sources. But making hydrogen from renewable energy through the intermediate step of making electricity, a premium energy source, requires further breakthroughs in order to be competitive. Basically, these technology pathways for hydrogen production make electricity, which is converted to hydrogen, which is later converted by a fuel cell back to electricity. These steps add costs and energy losses that are particularly significant when the hydrogen competes as a commodity transportation fuel—leading the committee to believe that most current approaches—except possibly that of wind energy—need to be redirected. The committee believes that the required cost reductions can be achieved only by targeted fundamental and exploratory research on hydrogen production by photobiological, photochemical, and thin-film solar processes.

4. To capture and store (“sequester”) the carbon dioxide by-product of hydrogen production from coal. Coal is a massive domestic U.S. energy resource that has the potential for producing cost-competitive hydrogen. However, coal processing generates large amounts of CO2. In order to reduce CO2 emissions from coal processing in carbon-constrained future, massive amounts of CO2 would have to be captured and safely and reliably sequestered for hundreds of years. Key to the commercialization of a large-scale, coal-based hydrogen production option (and also for natural-gas-based options) is achieving broad public acceptance, along with additional technical development, for CO2 sequestration.

For a viable hydrogen transportation system to emerge, ALL FOUR of these challenges must be addressed.” (my emphasis added)

Regarding the hydrogen economy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005) concluded that

“there are tremendous problems to overcome; once we have solved the PRODUCTION, TRANSMISSION, and RESOURCE issues, then the switch to hydrogen may occur. This is a long term issue and the hydrogen economy is decades away. The tools to make it work, such as safe nuclear reactors, windmills, and fuel cells are still in the development or early adoption phases. To realize the potential benefits of a hydrogen economy – sustainability, increased energy security, a diverse energy supply, and reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions – hydrogen must be produced cleanly, efficiently, and affordably from regionally available, renewable resources.” (my emphasis added)

Paul Krugman linked to a nice speech by Barack Obama on energy, here are some excerpts:

If I am President, I will immediately direct the full resources of the federal government and the full energy of the private sector to a single, overarching goal – in ten years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela.

First, we will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need, and we will get one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads within six years.

The second step I’ll take is to require that 10% of our energy comes from renewable sources by the end of my first term – more than double what we have now.

Finally, the third step I will take is to call on businesses, government, and the American people to meet the goal of reducing our demand for electricity 15% by the end of the next decade. This is by far the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to reduce our energy consumption – and it will save us $130 billion on our energy bills.

Substantive and containing a certain amount of acknowledgment of reality, what a relief!

I told you folks to be careful betting on lower corn yields. It's hard to kill a crop with "Too Much" water.

F C Stone is predicting 154 bu/acre. That's 3 bu/acre more than last year.

Prices are Plummeting.

People will be shocked next year when farmers are screaming
that they're going broke.

1-they never got the $5 corn until the inputs went up even faster.

2-the grain buyers are charging $2 basis.

3-interest rates will be going up and lending getting tighter.

But that said the grain crops will not be good enough.

As long as we continue fronting ethanol at 420 000 bbls per day.

Oct 31 will be the date to watch.

Much of my family is from "corn country". I hate to see good people potentially get hurt. However, a lot of this push to grow corn is based on greed and flawed policies. The little people are just trying to get by and pay their property taxes plus other costs. I think the real villains are the giant agro businesses like Monsato. They should be tarred and feathered along with the oil company execs.

Yeah, and the Board of ADM should be sent to a collective farm in Minnesota.

While I would applaud the setting of goals by target dates, I have to disagree that there is anything "substantive" here. Indeed, these are milestones without a plan. Strip away the dates and targets and here is what you have;

1)help states...build the fuel-efficient cars...
2)require that...energy comes from renewable sources
3)call on businesses, government, and the American people to...reduc[ing] our demand for electricity

While fuel-efficient cars are great, what does it mean to help states build them? First, obviously, states don't build them, companies do. So, are we talking gov't handouts? research? patent waivers? Exactly what does the gov't do to help build cars?

Renewable energy is great, too, but what does it mean to "require" them. Will he get a law passed? and who would you require this of? Will I be fined if my house doesn't have a solar water heater?

And reducing electricity demand is the best idea yet, but exactly what does it mean to "call on" people to do this? Is the plan simply to use the bully pulpit of the Whitehouse? Didn't Jimmy Carter already try this (and look what happened to him)?

Maybe I'm just being a naysayer, but I just don't see any there there.

A lot of this in the speech is the usual politician promises about increasing funding for this or that. As for the electricity demand part, this is his plan:

Since DuPont implemented an energy efficiency program in 1990, the company has significantly reduced its pollution and cut its energy bills by $3 billion. The state of California has implemented such a successful efficiency strategy that while electricity consumption grew 60% in this country over the last three decades, it didn’t grow at all in California.

There is no reason America can’t do the same thing. We will set a goal of making our new buildings 50% more efficient over the next four years. And we’ll follow the lead of California and change the way utilities make money so that their profits aren’t tied to how much energy we use, but how much energy we save.

This isn't actually a bad idea since California is the test bed for new environmental regulations in this country and they have had a few years since their energy crisis so they might have found out something about what works well.

I agree this speech could be better but let me ask you this, how many better speeches on energy policy have you heard in the U.S. by someone at the federal level lately? Not too many I bet.

I was actually more impressed with McCain's speech. Nukes, nukes, nukes, nukes, and more nukes.

There's nothing particularly controversial in Obama's plan, but McCain's call for building tons of new nuclear power plants is kinda daring for a politician.

"...kinda daring"??? I guess he could propose that we develop cold fusion while he's at it. This blog has features many posts and articles describing the limits of nukes as a long-term strategy, not the least of which is that building plants in the U.S. will take a lot of time, energy, concrete, and willpower- items in short supply.

I think it actually takes a lot of courage to suggest that conservation will be more helpful than harmful, given America's distaste for the concept.

Disagree. Most Americans are in favor of conservation.

But coming out in favor of nukes...that takes 'nads. I'm not too keen on nuclear myself, but I have to admire his chutzpah.

I disagree. I think that some very outspoken minorities are very much against nuclear power e.g. the Sierra club. If you were to ask most of the populace if they want nuclear power they would say no, but if you just presented it to them I bet they wouldn't complain too loudly since the majority probably don't know where their energy comes from anyway. I'd say conservation is more difficult because it requires the U.S. citizen and corporation to change their lifestyle and conventional wisdom says that's political suicide because "it's bad for the economy and consumer spending". My impression is that usually when the media mentions conservation of energy, they mention in the next sentence "the sweater speech" of Carter and how conservation doesn't work.

I don't think you understand Americans very well. "Conservation" doesn't bring to mind changing lifestyles to most of us. Rather, we assume technology will do it for us. Driving a Prius instead of a Taurus, yes. Giving up cars? No way.

That is why most Americans are in favor of conservation. We don't really see it as a sacrifice.

...And I don't think you understand the power of industry and conservative groups to be able to sell the idea to people that conservation of energy necessarily equates to something that is bad for the economy and bad for employment, etc. I concede that Americans will conserve when they have to and when there is a clear need (e.g. during WWII) and that we may be at that point right now but I wouldn't count the energy lobby and the power of BAU out yet. Carter lost his relection, Al Gore lost his election, Bush/Cheney won reelection while Cheney was saying things like, "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." Face it, environmentalism and conservation get a bad rap in this country.

Face it, environmentalism and conservation get a bad rap in this country.

Disagree. Something like 70% of Americans say they are environmentalists, and a similar number support conservation.

However, I do agree that the support is shallow, and once you start laying out the details, there will be more resistance.

But that holds true with nuclear, too. People aren't in favor of it...and will be even more against it once you start spelling out the details (such as where you want to build the power plants).

Leanan, I think I know where our difference of perception about americans is coming from. You're in California right? I live in Georgia. There, the current plan for the next thirty years before the public services commission is two new nuclear reactors and a new coal plant. No renewables on the horizon. The view from Georgia is that "the problem" (as the Sierra club sees it), is to stop the nuclear plants, not to get them built. The public services commission is examining the application now and will issue a decision in March. I don't pretend to know how it will go, maybe you're right and they won't go for it, but I do know that this isn't the only one, there's about 19 new reactors in some form of being proposed across the country (link).

P.S. Incidentally, the new coal plant was the one that had it's permit invalidated because it didn't limit CO2, link

*edit* 19 nuclear reactors are "on the table", of those, only 9 are currently under review.

Watts Bar is on that list, and their construction permit was issued in 1973. TVA finished up Watts Bar 1 and has now started on Watts Bar 2.

A "new" nuke, yes, but a very old new nuke.

Bellefonte was a half completed pair of TVA nukes that were abandoned (some QA issues). Pressure vessels in place (at least for one of the two). Next generation nuke, same type and make, will (my guess) reuse the major pieces but add new smaller pieces and adapt to existing pressure vessel, cooling towers, admin building, etc.

So three of the reactors will not be "all new". All good, the nuke building industry wasted tens of billions on unfinished plants, and they can be finished sooner.


Bottom line is that nuke plants do not return
Big $$$$$$ Back on $$$$$ Invested.
Coal has a much higher return ($RO$I).

$$$$$ (and worship thereof) is what makes this country go round.

Purely and simply, frugality is considered suffering. Even turning out lights when not in use seems like a bother for many, even among those who profess a conservation ethic. Short of a major recession or depression, I don't see this ethic changing. Even those TV shows on channels like the Green channel seem to advertise the idea that you can have it all, even while you are living green.

A "penny saved is a penny earned" probably doesn't resonate with the vast majority of people. Growth is not only good but it is an imperative. Even Obama's energy program includes an energy rebate which doesn't even have to be used for energy related conservation expenditures.


I don't think many people understand the nature of culture, and how obdurate it is. The needed transformation requires a Prius driver to be held in higher esteem than a Lamborgini driver, the guy who lives in a small inner-city apartment within walking distance to work greater admiration than the guy who lives in his McMansion in the suburbs.

Richard Bernstein talked of cultural values, and their resistance to change, in Dictatorship of Virtue:

But culture is powerfully conservative. Culture is what enforces obedience to authority, the authority of parents, of history, of custom, of superstition. Deep attachments to culture is one of the things that prevents different people from understanding one another. It is what pushes groups into compliance with practices that can be good or bad, depending on one's point of view. Suttee (the practice, eradicated by British colonialism, in which Indian widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands) and female circumcision, as well as the spirit of rational inquiry and a belief in the sanctity of each human life, are products of cultural attachments of different kinds. Those who practiced suttee, or who believe that women who commit adultery should be stoned to death, do not believe there is anything bad about these practices, any more than those who practice rational inquiry under conditions of freedom think there is anythign wrong with that.

That said, cultural change is achievable. It's just not easy. Carlos Fuentes talks about one example in Mexico:

Left to our own devices, sheltered by the traditions of machismo and the harem, we reproduced like rabbits. From the pulpits, priests forbade (and continue to forbid) contraceptive methods. Only during the 1970s did President Echeverria inaugurate a policy of demographic persuasion that managed to slow down (only relatively) a capacity for procreation that makes one imagine a Mexican chromosonal imperialism extending throughout our former territories in the U.S. Southwest and as far north as Chicago, New York, Oregon, and the Pacific (where there are numerous colonies of both legal and illegal workers from the Mexican state of Michoacan).

In 1970, each Mexican woman bore an average of six children. Today, we are down to a ration of three children per woman. But beyond ancestral fears of the United States, beyond traditions of Aztec, Spanish and Arab machismo, beyond agrarian loneliness, beyond sex as the only form of entertaiment and children as the only proof of virility lies a constant will to survive.

Carlos Fuentes, A New Time for Mexico

Energy conservation will never become a lasting value so long as the currently dominant societies remain. It can become a temporary sacrifice. As a result of our unwillingness to change mother nature will make us pay a price.

I'm in favor of nuclear power -- as long as there is a 93 million mile evacuation zone. Not any closer, please.

Nuclear fission reactors would be great if we were a planet of peaceful robots. But we use DNA (which is incompatible with nuclear waste) and all reactors make bomb ingredients, as numerous countries have proved (and others are poised to prove for those who refuse to admit it).

Plus, nuclear power requires a police state to babysit the excrement essentially forever. No thanks.

Plus, nuclear power requires a police state to babysit the excrement essentially forever. No thanks.

So does mercury and berylleum. Oh whoops.

98% of Americans are in favor of other people conserving.



A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others.

And on another note:

.......98 percent of Americans live in fear of a full 98 percent of other Americans.


Probably why the rest of us want you all to ride buses. Gotta love the Onion.

So long as they aren't the people next door. HOA rules...

My mother just built a new house in NC in a retirement community. She wanted to put up solar panels on her roof, but they weren't allowed by the HOA because they were unsightly. What is allowed? Satellite dishes! There's something wrong there.

Well, she could buy one of those big parabolic dish solar thermal systems. Use a Rankine Cycle to make electricity and capture the waste heat for water heating purposes. Of course, the HOA probably wouldn't like that idea either, since the parabolic dishes are about 10 feet in diameter.

We've had the same problem with wind generators as there is a rather restrictive local county ordnance that was passed after one resident wanted to erect several large turbines on a mountain top. That's the second such plan killed by the local NIMBY's that think the tourists would be offended by the unsightly towers. It's going to be fun to watch the local economy crater as the tourists decide that $4 gasoline means no trips to the mountains to look at the colorful leaves this Fall. Over the 4th of July weekend, there were some 435 houses advertised for sale in a local paper. Charlotte, North Carolina is just beginning to feel the slowdown in housing prices and that will hit the local market in the mountains as well...

E. Swanson

Better check the State laws. I know in Florida there is a Statute that overrides HOA covenants for energy saving devices such as clothes lines.

But coming out in favor of nukes...that takes 'nads. I'm not too keen on nuclear myself, but I have to admire his chutzpah.

I disagree. If Obama had come out pro Nukes that would have taken nads -because his base would be getting out the tar and feathers. But on the Republican side, Nukes are only slightly controversial. The real problem with the lots and lots of Nukes plan, is can we afford to build them? And will unrealistic expectations about them mean we lose sight of conservation.

Is this the 45 new nuke plants by 2030 plan? Not sure I'd call that daring, especially if I was a supporter of nuke energy. How much of our energy would be produced by nuclear under this plan (considering the number of existing plants that will be decommissioned by then)?

I think calling for any new nuclear power plants is daring. Especially emphasizing it has he has.

45 nuclear power plants by 2030 is probably the best we can do realistically. We only have about 100 now, so that's a big increase.

So how many of those 100 will still be in operation in 2030 - what's the net increase? And what percentage of our total electricity production will that be?

In short, it's not daring, its a drop in the bucket.

I think it's very daring of him to call for more nukes...even one. People don't like nuclear.

Whether it's a good idea or will actually make a difference is a whole 'nother story.

Come on, we're talking politicians campaigning here. Even if they win, and even if they keep their campaign promises, they still have to get it past Congress. Like that's going to happen.

We're rating the style here, not the substance.

Okay, I'll grant you the style points. ;-)


"Eighty-four percent of Americans agree that the nation should take advantage
of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable
energy, to produce electricity while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Sixty-seven percent associate nuclear energy "a lot" or "a little" as a
climate change solution." snip

"The survey found that public support for preparing for and building new
nuclear power plants remains strong. Seventy-eight percent of Americans agree
that electric companies should prepare now so that new nuclear plants could be
built if needed within the next decade. In the survey conducted last October,
75 percent agreed."

Not sure McCain is being daring based upon this poll.

You left out this bit:

SOURCE Nuclear Energy Institute

Not on purpose, I assure you. Will look for more objective sources.

Well, how about this from Zogby?


Zogby Poll: 67% Favor Building New Nuclear Power Plants in U.S.

As I said elsewhere, I am certainly not trying to simply publish nuclear power industry propaganda. I am not surprised as I am one of those who used to actively oppose nuclear but have changed my mind mainly because of carbon considerations.

The new reactors will be 1.2 GW (Toshiba), 1.6 GW (Areva) or 1.7 GW (Mitsubishi) (GE Hitachi ?). Operating nukes in the USA have a nameplate MW (summer) of 100.3 GW. (I downloaded this file and summed it up).


So 45 new reactors should increase nuke capacity by over 50%.

Dept of Energy study concludes a maximum of 8 new US nukes in a decade (not sure where completing Watts Bar 2 falls). A second term McCain should cut the ribbon on Watts Bar 2 and MAYBE one all new nuke.

The rest of the build-out is in the distant future (when did GWB say we were going back to Mars ?)

A "Straight Talk" McCain would advocate what I do, finishing Watts Bar 2 and restarting the US nuclear industry with a handful of new nukes (which has already started). Breaking ground on 5 to 7 new nukes in his first term is a worthy, and realistic goal. Advance planning for more after that. But 2030 goals (see Mars) in just BS smoke.

If he said, "I want to break ground on the first new nuke before the mid-term elections and cut the ribbon on 2 or 3 new nukes before I finish my second term" I would have more respect for him.


It would be nice if we could just build all our reactors in one extremely safe location, ring them with an entire division of troops, and bury the waste in place as they all wear out. We'd need that sexy new high-voltage DC power grid to move the juice, though.

I'm volunteering the government's secret bomb shelter in the Appalachians. NIMBY that, Congressmen.

The Canadians built as many as 8 nukes on one site. Efficient use of personnel, spares, etc.

All but a handful of the 19 sites linked to earlier are existing nuke sites, operating or canceled nukes (29 "thinking about" new nuke reactors on 19 sites).


Yeah, even the one in GA that I was talking about is new reactors at an existing site. IMO, this is much, much, much better than building new sites. The reason is that we still don't have a permanent waste storage/disposal facility in the U.S., and arguably, we won't ever have one until the leader of the senate is from some other state than Nevada. Thus, all waste storage right now is on-site. So instead of one big storage facility, we've got 104 storage sites (the number of nuclear reactors currently operating).

It's been 32 years since the Nuclear Safeguard Initiative failed in California. Soon after, Gov Jerry Brown pushed thru the main parts of that initiative, which stopped new construction until there was a repository for nuclear waste. The U.S. DOE has not been able to finish that repository, which was chosen for a site at Yucca Mountain in NV. So, as I understand it, California can not build another nuke without changing their law.

Georgia, on the other hand, was gung-ho for nukes in the 1970's and started the last commercial nuke, Plant Votgle, even though there was opposition from the environmental community. It may be that the storage problem was never meant to be solved, as all that burnt up fuel contains plutonium and we know that there are those who would love to recycle that plutonium into more reactor fuel.

Given the more recent reminders of the potential for disruption/diversion, it would seem to be a very bad idea to go to an electric power system based on plutonium breeder reactors. Selecting the nuclear option becomes an either/or option, as the massive capital cost required may well preclude other renewable options because the capital won't be available. It's likely that the possible threat of terrorist activity would almost require a major loss of personal freedom to intrusive methods intended to detect threats before they occur. Sad to say, because of 9/11, we may already have such a system in place, for better or worse...

E. Swanson

I propose that the USA uses Australia as a long-term nuclear rep[ository. You sign the 'waste' over to us, and pay us Au$X for 100 years, but we're allowed to reprocess the 'waste' if we like, and resell it back to you. :)

Australia is geologically sound, having some of the oldest rocks on the planet. We are sparsely populated, and a storage facility could be built far from population centres. Anything built west of Mt Isa and north of Newcastle is 'safe'.

Problem is that there is public opposition to building our own nuclear facilities, and storing the resultant waste. We're totally cool with building more coal-fired power plants, though, because their waste goes into the atmosphere, rather than barrels...

Nuclear reactors are very safe. Melt-downs are extremely rare, and require a level of incompetence that borders on deliberate malice. The problem with nuclear energy is disposing of waste. I don't support nuclear energy because nobody has come up with a decent plan to deal with the waste.

Good thing we live in a world with so little deliberate malice.

It occurs to me that the problem with nukes is that they are incredibly expensive and currently not competitive with NG,coal, or biomass for most utilities.
So I assume that most advocates for nuclear power want taxpayers to subsidize not only the price per kilowatt hour differential,but the risk factor as well.
But your bond market ain't gonna be lookin so healthy here, so good luck with that.
If indeed we are looking at a protracted economic contraction due to the effects of PO, how can we realistically expect to see the growing demand for electricity that would justify such enormous investments?
The increased demand of x number of plug-in hybrids could easily be outweighed by y number of shuttered Starbucks and abandoned subdivisions.
Utilities could be left with a bunch of white elephants (see WPPS debacle of the '80's)
The weakness of McCain's proposal is that it is a decade too late. We are too broke to afford even a tiny fraction of that. The comparison to grand space schemes is appropriate, and telling. Makes for a good sound-bite though. Morning in America, all that.

I don't support nuclear energy because nobody has come up with a decent plan to deal with the waste.

I still cant figure out why this is seen as a problem by anyone. The waste from a very large power plant over the course of its entire life would fill up a small section of the parking lot in dry storage casks. Those are pretty secure for several centuries, which is as much time horizon as we need worry about.

My favorite toungue in cheek solution that I've heard is to bury all the nuclear waste under the millions of tonnes of chemical waste that everyone ignores.

Those are pretty secure for several centuries, which is as much time horizon as we need worry about

W H A T !!!


There are two big problems with nuclear waste. Probably the more profound is just this ethical problem - should we really care, do we really care, about the welfare of the people who be be alive in, say, a thousand years? Would I turn my thermostate down 2 degrees to extend the life expectency of those future people by 2 years (fill in your own favorite numbers).

The other problem is that nuclear technology is wierd. We've grown up over the millennia with chemical transformations. We have little intuition about nuclear technology. Radiation thrown off by radioactive decay will weaken and corrode any containment vessel. And plutonium likes to break up into a very fine dust which is amazingly toxic - it goes through your lungs and into your bones where it can then damage DNA and kick off cancer.

There are two big problems with nuclear waste. Probably the more profound is just this ethical problem - should we really care, do we really care, about the welfare of the people who be be alive in, say, a thousand years?

A difficult question. We work for the future certainly, but only so far. Assuming we do care about the future however, its certainly arguable that future generations will be able to far more easily manage thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste more easily than the billions of tonnes of CO2.

We have little intuition about nuclear technology. Radiation thrown off by radioactive decay will weaken and corrode any containment vessel.

Thats just not true. Certainly neutron embrittlement occurs inside the high flux region of active reactors, but simple containment of actinides is a simple affair that is solved well enough with steel and concrete. After several hundred years its inexpensive enough to reseal the cask.

I dont know if you're being sarcastic or objecting. Clarify.

The waste from a very large power plant over the course of its entire life would fill up a small section of the parking lot in dry storage casks.

Dry storage?

I'm not a nuke expert, but my understanding is that most utilities store their spent nuke fuel rods in "wet" swimming pools ... the reason being that technologies already exist for detecting cracks in rods that are immersed in H2O (something having to do with oxygen atom plus neutron producing detectable isotopes).

Despite the big talk, hardly anybody, not even Yucca Mountain, as far as I know is storing their rods in "dry" caskets.

But then again, this is very far afield from my areas of expertise.

I'm not a nuke expert, but my understanding is that most utilities store their spent nuke fuel rods in "wet" swimming pools ... the reason being that technologies already exist for detecting cracks in rods that are immersed in H2O (something having to do with oxygen atom plus neutron producing detectable isotopes).

No, its because they're hot. Its simple thermal management. After they cool down they're suitable for dry storage.

Despite the big talk, hardly anybody, not even Yucca Mountain, as far as I know is storing their rods in "dry" caskets.

From your link:

Spent fuel is currently stored in dry cask systems at a growing number of power plant sites

They're usually the big tubelike chunks of steel and concrete outside a power plant.

Recycling the waste fuel for more fuel takes care of most of the problem (at several times the cost of newly mined uranium). That leaves only a small amount of a few isotopes with half lives in the 100,000 to millions of years that have to be isolated from the biosphere for a very long time, or transmutated by exposure to neutrons into something safer.

Yucca mountain looks good for those. Better than the mercury we are introducing into the biosphere from coal.


I think that if the Government really wanted to solve the nuclear waste disposal problem, they could do it in a flash. All those oil wells which are becoming depleted would be a great place. Simply drop the fuel elements into the holes and then seal them when enough have been placed there. Maybe that's Shell's secret plan for oil shale or deep tar sands, drill some holes and place some of those fuel rods into the hole, then seal. The residual heat would melt the shale and then the "oil" could be pumped out of the formation from the top. If the "oil" glows a bit in the dark, who cares, it's going to be burned and dumped into the atmosphere anyway!!

E. Swanson

Nuclear reactors are very safe.

And yet, not safe enough to function without Price-Anderson as the law.

Whats the analogy for dam failure?

To replace all coal use by 2030 requires a new nuke be started every 34 days. McCain's proposal is for a new nuke be started every 169 days. That is barely enough to replace those which will start to be decommissioned after 2020.
OTOH Obama has called for both a cut in electrical demand and plug-in hybrids. If each plug-in uses 5 kwh/day then where are we to make that 15% reduction? A 4 kwh/day cut plus a 5 kwh/day plug-in means cutting home use by nearly 40%. Or are these cuts to come from all these new solar and wind turbine factories? Obama is my man because he is not a Republican but I think he ought to drop that 15% cut in the interest of not being self-contradictory.

From: Peak oil and limits to growth (Meadows, 2006)

Assume that the plants energy payback is 10? Where does he get that number?

Does anyone know what he means by "calling for" new nukes? I assume US GOV will not be building them.

So who is McBush really shilling to...

Its not Joe Q Public, its the large contractors. Who builds these gargantuan projects, the Bechtels of the world. The nuke plan is not much different than the invade Iraq to prevent the mushroom cloud as evidence shill.

Remember, the magicians trick is to have you looking at the right hand while the switch is applied in the left.

A little left-right double entendre?

I think this "switch" is the recent and new Fed rules, nationalizing debt and selling our country wholesale?

this "switch" is the recent and new Fed rules, nationalizing debt and selling our country wholesale

Good thing that the Republicans stand for smaller, less intrusive government eh?

Bingo! McCain is shilling for the corporations that support him. So is Obama, but the Obama supporters will deny it. That is simply how politicians work.

I believe Mr. McCain has already made clear that he considers nukes to be the solution to every problem... like Iran. Maybe he can't tell the difference either.

In terms of daring:

Here is a simple plan to use better building codes and cheap retrofits to massively reduce casualties from nuclear bombs

Starting with technology as simple as better nails that are already being used in New Orleans and around the US and which can be bought at Amazon.com.

Also, there are new anti-radiation drugs being tested now that are 5000 times more effective. If those and other drugs pan out and were distributed then Chernobyls and dirty bombs could go off every day and no one would die. Not saying that the designs or builds should be sloppy but all the misguided worry could be completely shelved.

Re-invented civil defense would mean that the safety margin against proliferation and actual use of nuclear weapons would be higher. If someone needs to use dozens to achieve the same body count then the world would be different.

China has built a 71,000 square meter factory to mass produce components for AP1000 reactors. A production line to enable two AP1000's per year. The factor was built in 11 months. Four more factories for ten per year. Nine more for 20 per year. China will probably be exporting AP1000 assembled modules to the rest of the world.

1.I am not taking any "new"chelation drugs.Not with my kidneys

2.Considering the quality problems I have seen with even toys manufactured in china you expect me to support their nuke program?

3.S'cuz me,I know a bit about reactors,radiation,and Heath Physics.You sir,are way too casual about radioactive material.After 37 refuelings at 17 nuke stations,I have a good idea about what works and what doesn,t...more mega plants...more mega problems.Build plants the same size/shape as a trident...those have a history..and its all good

Also, there are new anti-radiation drugs being tested now that are 5000 times more effective. If those and other drugs pan out and were distributed then Chernobyls and dirty bombs could go off every day and no one would die.


Don't worry if there is a screw up - you can be charged for the clean up.

I'd like to know more about the California utility "plan" - my understanding had been that the primary motivation for the efficiency improvements in California had been the higher cost of electricity in comparison to other states. But I'd love to hear differently.

As for asking how many better speeches I've heard from someone at the federal level... I'm afraid that's not much of a measuring stick. Somewhere along the lines of saying that a 21mpg car is "better" than a 20 mpg car from an "energy independence" perspective.

Googling around a bit, I found this with a little more info.

Many of the strategies are obvious: better insulation, energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling. But some of the strategies were unexpected. The state found that the average residential air duct leaked 20 to 30 percent of the heated and cooled air it carried. It then required leakage rates below 6 percent, and every seventh new house is inspected. The state found that in outdoor lighting for parking lots and streets, about 15 percent of the light was directed up, illuminating nothing but the sky. The state required new outdoor lighting to cut that to below 6 percent. Flat roofs on commercial buildings must be white, which reflects the sunlight and keeps the buildings cooler, reducing air-conditioning energy demands. The state subsidized high-efficiency LED traffic lights for cities that lacked the money, ultimately converting the entire state.

Significantly, California adopted regulations so that utility company profits are not tied to how much electricity they sell. This is called "decoupling." It also allowed utilities to take a share of any energy savings they help consumers and businesses achieve. The bottom line is that California utilities can make money when their customers save money. That puts energy-efficiency investments on the same competitive playing field as generation from new power plants.

Thanks Gwydion.

This is the part I find intriguing;

Significantly, California adopted regulations so that utility company profits are not tied to how much electricity they sell.

Unfortunately, I'm not finding any details on how this works. On it's surface it sounds a bit "anti-capitalist," so I'm not sure how our free market worshiping friends will take it. But if there is a model for rewarding companies and people for saving energy, I'm all for it.

Power cos. get incentive to save kilowatts


Utility Decoupling: Giving Utilities Incentives to Promote Energy Efficiency

Decoupling Utility Sales and EarningsAt least five other states have taken steps to decouple utility sales and revenues. California was the first state to do so, adjusting electric and gas rate ...


Thanks Wharf Rat. The best summary line was;

Under a decoupling plan, regulators set higher kilowatt rates that allow utilities to earn their expected profits while selling less electricity. Rates are adjusted annually and can be decreased if utilities' revenues are higher than expected.

I hereby withdraw my support from this apporach. It is not a plan for conservation, but a corporate guarantee of profits.

Its both a conservation plan and a guarantee of profits.

Guaranteed profits are part of what makes a utility a utility. In almost all of the US, the question is not "will our electrical suppliers have guaranteed profits" but "will they have guaranteed profits in conjunction with a conservation plan, or without a conservation plan"?

It's what utility companies in America were like before they were infected by Wall Street and turned into more speculative garbage. My mom, like a lot of elderly Americans, was told by her stockbroker to buy certain utilities in the early '90s because they were "safe". It wasn't true anymore. She was also put into collateralized mortgage obligations, but got out of those before they were turned into the toxic monsters now destroying Wall Street.

Guaranteed profits are part of what makes a utility a utility.


As far as it being a conservation plan - it is not. It is merely a means of raising the price of electricity, leaving it to the consumer to implement the conservation plan. This could equally be done by implementing a tax on usage. The difference being on where that "surplus" money goes.

(This is the "lie" that all those anti-big governmental right wingers espouse. The see the "left" as proposing taxes and interfering in our lives by wanting the gov't to manage everything. The right wing uses the gov't in the same way - its just that the locus of that taxation (read "profits") gets moved to a different institution (read corporations). They aren't really different in the way they want to use the gov't institutions, just less direct.)

Our "not a conservation plan" seems to be doing a lot of conserving. If the rest of y'all had a plan like our "not conserving one", electricity consumption would drop by 50%; more than enuf to power Alan's trains.

(My own bill runs <$5 a month for using the grid, cuz I'm solar.)

We could also be conserving gas and producing less CO2, but da Shrub is getting in the way...

E.P.A. Denies California Emission’s Waiver

DETROIT — The Bush administration said Wednesday night that it would deny California's bid to set stricter vehicle emissions standards than federal law required as part of the state's efforts to fight climate change.


I'm not denying the end result (although I'm skeptical of putting too much credence in per capita usage rates unless you control for other differences between CA and other states). Note, too, that because of population growth, CA electricity consumption has continued to grow at a pretty good pace, its not like we are looking at a post growth scenario.

What I was questioning, if somewhat sardonically, was the motivation behind the "savings." Yes, cost can make people conserve. But if that is our primary motivation in doing so, it suggests we will do nothing about our longer term future, we will only respond to immediate economic issues. This is not a "plan."

We actually generated a lot of that conservation through the building code and through encouraging the use of more efficient appliances. Part of that is that the utility spends a chunk of money to incent people who own less efficient appliances to switch to more efficient ones.

Buying off the utilities with higher rates is as as much a way to end utility-based lobbying against those efficiency measures as a means of directly affecting consumer behavior.

Motivation? Gas lines in Berkeley in '73...

At the height of the 1973 energy crisis, Arthur H. Rosenfeld had a revelation.

Disturbed about having to spend half an hour in line at a gas station one Friday night, the particle physicist calculated that keeping his floor of offices brightly lit all weekend as usual would consume the equivalent of five gallons of gasoline. So Rosenfeld took what then seemed like a bold step: He turned off the lights.

For 30 years, Rosenfeld has been one of the forces guiding California on a mission of conservation. And today the state uses less energy per capita than any other state in the country, defying the international image of American energy gluttony. Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent.

Back in the early 90s I took part in a utility based conservation plan in Michigan. I replaced the old octopus in the basement with a new energy efficient furnace. The gas company financed it a much lower interest rate than I could have borrowed at the time. I repaid the loan at $100/mo added to my gas bill over the next 5 years.
As for guaranteed profits back before deregulation utilities were required to invest in infrastructure improvements as part of their monopoly privilege. Since deregulation we have an unreliable power grid and an over supply of inefficient nat gas generators.

In the interest of full disclosure, it was long-ago liberals who guaranteed the profits of old-style regulated utility companies; otherwise the companies would not have tolerated the regulations. In exchange for being converted from Simon Legree-like ogres that would hike prices for a bucket of coal in the dead of winter, the utilities got a process to negotiate stable prices, ensuring no price shocks and no sudden bankruptcies. However, as Californians now know, restoring the old laissez-faire rules has restored the disadvantages and advantages of the 19th century approach. It's not going as well as airline deregulation did for the first 20 years.

I believe we helped companies build hybrids before and they abandoned them. We don't need to help them build more efficient cars; we already have fuel efficient cars. We need to keep gas prices high so that people will demand fuel efficient cars. Just building the cars is a waste of money if no one will buy them.

The promise, as usual, is that we can get off oil and have low prices at the same time. Lots of luck with that.

While I am voting for Obama, he still is a typical politician in that he won't tell people the truth. But I don't really blame him for that. The American people continue to demonstrate that they can't handle the truth and they don't want to hear the truth. Obama promises happy motoring as usual without any fundamental restructuring in the way our towns and cities work and the way we get around.

"Calling" on businesses,etc. does nothing. There have to be laws that mandate cuts in electricity use through higher efficiency standards, smart metering, higher electricity prices, and the like.

A politician will say anything to get elected and once they are elected they will say anything to remain powerful. I support neither McCain or Obama. This speech is empty talk. His lack of experience and supposed idealism will fall flat if and when he becomes President. Getting elected is one thing.. getting something done is another. George Bush has proven that destruction is far easier than building something... If he is being honest about the policies he stands for (and there is plenty of evidence he's a lying flip flopper), Obama would spend most of his Presidency trying to overcome the vested interests and failing.

we will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need,

Hmmm.... Since when do states build cars?

Why wait until 2020 to reduce "demand for electricity 15%"? It seems quite possible to get a 15% reduction by the end of this year if such was really made a priority.


in ten years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle East and Venezuela.

This caused a great guffaw followed by much chortling, with even more after reading his proposed 3 step plan. There may be an "acknowledgment of reality," but his plan is unrealistic considering its stated goal.

Yep, but it's not going to be a priority. As long as people decide to set their thermostats to 70F in the summer and 80F in the winter, we're not going to make reductions. Electricity is TOO CHEAP! I'm not sure anything will change this fact for a good while, but it's the truth. People ask me how expensive my solar system will be in order to cool my house. I tell them not very big, because as long as I keep it under 90F, I will be OK, as I have fans. I spent all of last week without any air conditioning, and 90F would have been a welcome change to the 102F I was dealing with.

The rates charged for electricity are often discounted as more is used. This isn't true where I live in Oregon, but our electricity is at least as green as hydroelectric can be. I'm looking closely at a property that will provide an excellent wind harvest year-round, which I intend to use (Windsid) to fuel the electricly powered machinery on the small farm it's going to become. The subsidies for wind here are good, which is a plus. As for home heating/cooling, proper home design can drasticly reduce energy use, as can proper rates that instill an ethos of conservation as usage increases.

Well the Venezuela part might be taken care of by itself courtesy of China. Once they get that 700 kbpd refinery designed to handle Venezuelas heavy sour crude going, you can bet a lot more tankers are going to be putting on the left turn signal at Aruba and heading for the canal.

Hasta Luego Gringos!

Lately I have been getting a sense of "either- or" from everybody from bloggers to politicians to investors. Everybody seems to shrug off T. Boone but he is the only person that seems to get it when he says "we need it all". He is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to alternative energy in Wind. He is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to a clean alternative to imported crude in Natural Gas. All the while saying we need the industries that compete with his investments more then ever! Great business men like Mr. Pickens are our true american heroes and super stars. Not these sports figures our kids look up to.


This is a little missive I sent two years ago to two Texas newspapers, pointing out that two Texas billionaires--Pickens & Rainwater--were warning us in the clearest possible terms that we had problems with our oil supplies worldwide:


FPL is evidently trying to give Pickens a run for his money.

I have posted before that FPL is constructing a wind farm at Crystal Lake which which surrounds our farm. They have been secretive about what they are doing and their intentions.

The wind farm was to be a 100 turbines of 1.5 megawatt size or 150 MW with a usage factor of 2/3 making 100 MW. These turbines are now up but not running awaiting the completion of a 161 kilo-volt transmission line.

In a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board which I have seen they announce that these turbines are only phase one and that a second phase will construct about 166 more turbines for an additional 250 megawatts of rated power. The total for the two phases in Hancock and Winnebago counties would then be 400 megawatts rated with usage rate of about 250 megawatts.

This more than doubles they size that FPL led local residents to expect when they first started this project a year and a half ago.

The second phase is claimed to cover an area of 40 square miles while the first phase covers about 25 square miles which is an average of 4 turbines per square mile.

This project is turning out to be huge from the point of view of a local like myself. It has reached the point that FPL is taking over local country road maintenance and even putting up stop signs/ overhead power line warning signs one of which inconveniently blocks easy machinery access to one of our bean fields. Their private cross country roads connecting the turbines are posted with no trespassing signs and are regularly patrolled by security personnel.

The whole feel of country isolation and quiet is being transformed as there is now no view without windturbines in sight. Soon if the December 31 target date is met, the view will be animated by a hundred giant spinning 1.5 megawatt turbines and when/if the next phase is completed their will be over 250 of them.

Just wondering where you came up with "usage factor" and what it means.

Recent Texas windfarms are getting capacity factors of 38%, some in New Zealand low 40% and islands north of Scotland have reported over 50%.

67% capacity factor ? Unlikely. But you used the term "usage factor", not capacity factor.

Is the the % of the time that the wind turbines are producing SOME electricity ? If so, you should not multiple by the nameplate.

Average annual production (in MWh) = nameplate (in MW) x capacity factor x 365.25 x 24



The wind blows more in Iowa than in Texas. See the map for average wind speed of >15 mph http://www.energy.iastate.edu/renewable/wind/maps/annual.htm

A whole state (even Texas) does not a wind farm make. The best place for a wind farm is where the wind blows every day at predictable speed. Iowa has this due to its location in the center of the continent.

BTW...I saw my first commercial for with Pickens for his pickensplan. Pretty cool, I thought. This guy is forking over his own bucks to promote this plan. Isn't this what we've been asking the billionaires to do for awhile now. I'm confused why people are bagging on him just because it may become profitable to him. He could very well invest in something that didn't help other people.

It's still tough to forgive a guy who paid for the Swiftboat Campaign.. kinda greazy.. I mean, look what that did for America's Carbon Output and our Bloody Footprint.

The need for absolute goodies and absolute baddies runs deep in us, but it drags history into propaganda and denies the humanity of the dead: their sins, their virtues, their efforts, their failures. To preserve complexity, and not flatten it under the weight of anachronistic moralizing, is part of the historian's task. One could do worse than remember the advice of the Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado, reflecting on the 500th anniversary of Columbus and the conquest of the New World: for some, he wrote, it means

the epic of discovery, the meeting of two worlds; for others, the infamy of the conquista and of genocide... One must set up and compare appearances and differences, because only in this way, by understanding what was great and will be an eternal glory, by disclosing what was wretched and will be a perpetual shame, only thus, in reflection and understanding, can we both celebrate the epic and condemn the massacre, neither of which expunges the other. We are the product of both--the mixed peoples of America.

Robert Huges, Culture of Complaint

Ya...the forgive and forget thing is tough, but it has to happen to move forward.

Kerry was easy to swift boat and he let it happen. I don't think Obama will be that easy of a pushover.

I hope you're right, but so far, he's falling into the same trap.

But if we have one political party that Swift-boats and renditions and tortures and invades all its problems away without ever dealing with real policy making, and it always gets back in the White House, how are we even going to survive the next 4 years? The American people must be held responsible for voting this way. And it's a sorry contrast to how voters handled the crisis in 1932 when they a least took a chance on reform instead of a quagmire of prejudice.

That's why the US needs a second party.

Ask anyone who had gold in the 30's and they'll tell you how great a president FDR was, for his friends who could get their money out of the country. Nixon of course, followed his footsteps.

So where do you think America would be now if Hoover had been re-elected in 1932? I think that at 30% unemployment, the country was about to collapse into a 3rd world state on the verge of civil war between business-backed fascists and a Communist workers' movement. And if I had been living under the conditions that workers endured even before the Depression, I would have gone gunning for Hoover myself and anyone who backed him. How about you?

so far, he [Obama is] falling into the same trap.


Good point.
The Democrats repeatedly under estimate the irrationality of the American public.

McCain and his ad men (thugs) are school yard bullies who are starting to taunt Obama with various name callings.

Obama feels that he is getting around these "distractions" by ignoring them.

The question is how will Joe Six-pack Americans ultimately view a skinny smart kid who pretends to ignore the cat calls of the school yard bully? Is he being clever or is he being a wuss?

At some point, if he doesn't confront the bully, he's a wuss.

Americans don't want to have a wuss in the Whitehouse. They prefer a "bring it on" cowboy.

Yes it's the same trap all over again. And what's frustrating is that they (the scholarly Democrats) don't see it coming at them, all over again.

I think its a "Good cop bad cop" game being run on
I hope my statement doesnt go over the heads of the
law abiding comrades. I mean to explain that both Dems
and Reps have become stereo typed into their roles and
now the stage is set.
Both Dems and Reps are bad cops....but the script has
to have some drama or it wont capture the crowds attention and divert it from the twists and turns in
this Greek tragedy.
Obamas just reading from the script here.
Ever wonder why so many actors turn politician?
Arnold is running the worlds 7th largest economy in
Reagan ran the whole rodeo. Sonny Bono?
The Rubes are running the carnival....whoops...lost
em all on the Rube's and carnival thingy...nevermind

The "elections" are a convenient distraction to what's going on in the real world at the present time. And from reading today's threads, they are working well. Distractions and divisions...that is the name of the game. Who really gives a rat's a$$ who will be in the White House next January? I have very little faith in either candidate. I would like to have a Dem just to feel like we swing back the country to the center a bit, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I don't think it will matter.

Center of what scale? It's all big gov't from where I sit.

Perhaps that's because you are viewing things from a wingnut position. I think it doesn't matter at which end of the wing one sits, the center appears to be massive. One man's excessive government spending is another's necessary agency. Typical wingnut rants about the military or the EPA are usually opposites. It's the same regarding taxes vs. tax breaks. One man's benefit is another's excessive government cost. When it comes to push or shove, there's no "center". Worse yet, lost in the shuffle is the fact that there's no compromise allowed regarding the Laws of Nature.

E. Swanson

I think Obama is good with rehearsed palliatives and vague platitudes, but he handling of details is poor. I'm not sure he's bright enough to articulate a real plan, and I'm pretty sure he's elistist enough to think he doesn't need to.

For me, the interesting question is McCain's VP, as that's the guy that will deal with this crisis the way things are headed after McCain bows out late in his first term. JMHO.

For the record, Senator Obama taught at the University of Chicago law school and was offered tenure -see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/media/index.html.

Likely he's pretty bright.

Yep: A real 'A' student. No matter, when the house of cards starts to fall, whoever is in the WH will be blamed.

Likely he's pretty bright.

Likely he was indoctrinated by all the typical college courses like "economics" and "history [of the perpetual progress machine]" and so forth.

Snippets from wiki:

Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983, then worked at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988 and at the end of his first year was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review based on his grades and a writing competition. In his second year he was elected president of the Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law review's staff of 80 editors. Obama's election in February 1990 as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 and returned to Chicago where he had worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.

And from footnote number 9:

After working for an American oil company in Kenya and then for Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism, [Obama's father] the economist fell out of favor with the government, was blacklisted from finding work and was socially outcast. He became a heavy drinker, turned abusive to his American wife and eventually was destitute, borrowing money from relatives for food, as Obama describes his sister’s account in his memoir.

One has to remember that Pickens is a business man, and one cannot be that bright or insightful to be in such a profession.
At this stage of capitalism, the sociopaths get rewarded (and admired) in the end stage society we are living in.
Pickens probably feels threatened by intelligent and culturally literate people, just like the rest of Red State America.

Well, he's extremely bright at turning a profit and manipulating politics and law to protect the mountain of gold he already has. So did he pay for Swift-boating out of any genuine conviction (what, that Kerry was a traitor?), or is it more likely he did it to keep his taxes down? It may not have been anything personal at all, and that's the sick joke of America's slide into fascism.

Umm, it's racing to communism faster. I'd rather live in a world run by the self-serving than the pandering. You can always tell where a businessman stands at least.

We clearly don't know the same "businessmen."

And last night on Larry King he said we need to ALSO drill everywhere NOW.

In the context of his support for "we need it all" made sense.

I dontt think the replay is up yet.


re:Untouched forests store three times more carbon. The key factor is not how much is stored, but how much is being added to storage by photosynthesis. Typically, old growth forests have a balance between photosynthesis and decay resulting in zero or very low net carbon uptake. If this forest burns, the high level of stored carbon becomes a liability. The study appears todefine old forests as those more than 10 meters high. In the US northwest, most plantations over 30 years old meet this criterion.

Typically, old growth forests have a balance between photosynthesis and decay resulting in zero or very low net carbon uptake.

I don't believe that is true. Granted, that's based on a scientific paper I read some years ago, so maybe the understanding of old growth forests has changed. But what the paper indicated is that in old growth forests, some percentage of the organic material that falls to the ground (fallen leaves, dead trees, etc) is covered over before it can be oxidized (this is where peat & coal come from). Old growth forests thus act as ongoing carbon sinks. This process does not happen in young forests, especially plantations. Harvesting trees not only releases the carbon locked up in the trees themselves, it also disturbs the soil, causing any carbon locked in the topmost layers of soil to oxidize.

Are you sure that harvesting trees releases the carbon in them? I don't believe this is true. I think it's only released if you burn them. If you cut the tree into boards and build a house, isn't the carbon sequestered in the house?

This is true for the trunks of the trees, but all of the slash and detritus on the ground oxidizes fairly rapidly, and, especially north of the tropics, the carbon in the soil is mobilized as well.

It's complicated, and a different dynamic in different regions with different types of forests.

Yeah, it is complicated. In the boreal forest, peat formation may be important. In most of the western United States, the soil biomass is periodically oxidized by fire. I'm not saying we should log old growth, but our second growth forests are more critical for carbon sequestration, since they constitute most of the forest acreage, and nearly all of the highly productive low-elevation forest.

In case you haven't noticed, we've already logged virtually all of our old growth.

The biosphere is nothing if not complicated, and that's why this endless cycle of technofixes to patch up the unintended consequences of the last fix smacks of such hubris.
When the tropical forest is cut for lumber or plantations or whatever, the termites take over, and the AGW calculation suddenly becomes an order of magnitude worse when the little buggers start releasing methane rather than CO2.

The key factor is how much carbon is released in the destruction of the mature forest, relative to carbon ultimately stored by the new forest that develops in its place (if it is allowed to, and not turned into pasture or soybeans).

In northern latitudes, a lot of carbon is stored not just in the tree biomass, but also the soil and detritus on the forest floor. This gets mobilized at harvest due to microbial decay promoted by increased sunlight and moisture at the forest floor.

The age of the forest (how long it's been sequestering carbon into biomass both above and below ground) is more important than simply the height of the trees.

the high level of stored carbon becomes a liability
Surely this argument applies equally to coal in the ground, it's best to leave it undisturbed.

I note they only just announced good carbon capture results. Some of the forests in the study became very sick due to heat and lack of rain in the southern hemisphere autumn. The period March-April-May 2008 was the driest since 1974 then the blizzards came in late June. Understorey plants like tree ferns that had shrivelled to a crisp suddenly rehydrated and became green again. What happens when a future drought lasts longer than one season?

I'm skeptical that David Nocera's recent research has made the difference on oil prices, as I tend to suspect it has primarily been about demand destruction, but it is close enough to my main area of expertise people that I am 100% confident when stating that people should take his work very seriously indeed. The big problem with artificial photosynthesis in the past has always been that there was a strong bias on the part of synthetic chemists towards the design of stable catalysts, even though Nature uses an inherently unstable system, which has to constantly regenerate itself. Nocera realized that this approach simply wasn't working and that it was time to challenge the basic assumptions on which artificial photosynthesis research has been based over the past few decades. As a result of this there was a fundamental paradigm shift in the way his research group approached the problem and on that basis they have developed a catalyst to separate O2 from H2O based on a four electron oxidation using cheap and abundant materials, which like in nature can quickly regenerate itself. I'm confident that on this basis, the chance of a return to Olduvai Gorge is now pretty much zero barring a nuclear holocaust.

I'm skeptical that David Nocera's recent research has made the difference on oil prices...

I agree. It was ridiculous for someone to suggest that. The market sees so many of these over-hyped claims that it discounts them all. Besides, there are multiple hurdles to a hydrogen economy - even if you had cheap hydrogen. So why on earth would the price of oil fall based on what someone did in the lab?

The price of oil fell because I found a couple of oil fields that might hit peak production rates of 500 to 1,000 bpd.

It fell because the experts realized there is more oil under the polar ice than in KSA.

These guys are dreamers, and we certainly need those. But there needs to be some realism also.

The author appears to suffer from a misunderstanding about what the manufacutre of hydrogen entails. Whatever process is used in that manufacture, energy would be required. He seems to confuse creating hydrogen with creating energy.

There is mention of using our houses as solar collectors to generate electricity, which could in turn be converted to hydrogen. But even if the electricty-to-hydrogen conversion could be perfected, how competitive is current solar technology in comparison to other forms of generating electricity?

Many of these things will eventually come to pass, but I'm not sure they are competitive with $150/barrel oil.

Of course if environmental impact is priced in, that might drastically alter the equation.

Of course if environmental impact is priced in, that might drastically alter the equation.

What? Are you some kind of communist, or something. Internalizing environmental costs is anti-american. ;-)

Nocera may not have lowered oil prices but he has netted some funding:

Team led by MIT, Caltech wins $20 million grant

Funds to support push for solar-fuel power plants

Funding agencies clearly grasp the importance of his research. The problem with solar energy based on solar panels has always been that it is an intermittent energy source, which has made it close to useless for keeping society functioning 24/7. Nocera's work makes the storage of incident solar energy possible. The O2 and H2 that is produced from water can be used to generate electricity at night through the use of a fuel cell.

The most cogent arguments against hydrogen come from those who promote other technologies/energy sources and they usually boil down to saying that due to efficiency issues, storage etc., there are solutions that beat hydrogen.

When you think about it, even if those reasons are sound, that amounts to very good news.

Everything beats hydrogen, so it seems sometimes, and yet hydrogen keeps getting better and better.

If the guy bringing up the rear is improving fast, chances are the rest of the team is not doing too badly.

Hydrogen is not an energy source.

Of course.

I use it as an abbreviation for a bunch of technologies that use hydrogen as fuel and energy storage.

So what does it mean to say the "hydrogen keeps getting better and better"?

Are we just talking batteries here? Not that I'm oppossed to batteries, mind you. It's just that every time I see these discussions of hydrogen I get the sense that the people proposing it foresee a day when I drive my hydrogen powered car into a hydrogen fuel station, run in to the quickie mart to grab a cup of coffee while the car gets filled up with hydrogen and then I'm on my way. (yippee)

(Sorry - not really aimed at you.)

Costs of production are falling. H2 ICE engines are getting better. Perhaps more importantly, so are fuel cells.

Your odds of being able to produce your own H at home are improving:

Here's a link re prices (different company):
Without independent verification, I don't necessarily have much faith in the company's claims about it's own advances ($2.47/kg) but look at what they quote for industry prices:

Currently, the most efficient systems in use are producing hydrogen at $3.20 per kg, short of the industry’s ideal goal, while the rest of the industry is producing hydrogen for approximately $3.57 per kg.

That's come down a lot in a decade.

Isn't a kg equivalent to a gallon of gas? If so, and if these sources are correct, then from a fuel cost perspective it sounds like hydrogen beats gasoline. Of course, there are still the storage issues and the vehicle cost issues which I don't believe have been solved. Now, if this hydrogen is being produced by coal fired electricity, this doesn't address the GHG problem. And, of course, price per kg using renewables would be considerably higher.

nope a kilogram is what one litre of water weighs. one litre is approx one quart. also the energy density of hydrogen is a bit less than gasoline.

Are this numbers correct? Hydrogen energy density is about 143 MJ/kg; Diesel energy density is about 46 MJ/kg. So diesel is about 4 times more expensive per unit of energy? Hard to believe. Any expert in this area?

There is energy per pound and there is energy per gallon. Hydrogen has 3 times the energy of diesel on a weight basis but takes up so much space even in liquid form that diesel has 3 times the energy of hydrogen on a per gallon basis.

Hydrogen is not an energy source.

In Nocera's research hydrogen is used for energy storage. The original energy source is sunlight just as ultimately is the case with fossil fuels, which formed based on plant growth millions of years ago due to the photosynthesis process.

The most cogent arguments against hydrogen come from those who promote other technologies/energy sources

I'm afraid that is just plain wrong.

Most scientific and physically accurate argument come from people who actually do hydrogen research. Ulf Bossel is the founder of European Fuel Cell Forum and has been on the cutting edge of Hydrogen fuel cell research longer than most.

Everything beats hydrogen, so it seems sometimes, and yet hydrogen keeps getting better and better.

Sigh. You still do not seem to understand the fundamental issue.

There is a physical thermodynamic absolute limit which the hydrogen cycle CANNOT pass. This is a fundamental physical limit - regardless of method, catalyst, innovation, funding, research, etc.

Source below (Davitian)

The making of hydrogen is not the most energy wasteful part of the cycle and even if that is made to be 100% efficient (physically impossible), it matters very little, because the cycles after that waste so much energy that even at theoretical max efficiency, alternatives are better now.

At this maximum cycle efficiency, the whole hydrogen cycle is worse than current battery technology best or possibly other type of fuel cell.

Better than that, these other types of batteries and fuel cells are potentially perfectible. They can still be improved. They have a much higher thermodynamic ceiling for the full cycle.

Hydrogen as an energy storage as may advocate it is a brain dead proposal. It wastes energy, when there are better technologies available now and possibly even better in the future (the techno-fix argument).

This doesn't mean hydrogen will not find uses in some simplified cycles or in situations where the wastefulness does not matter that much (think military aviation applications or some special backup power apps).

But for mass-scale personal transports in a face of peak oil and with total lack of hydrogen infrastructure, hydrogen is utterly useless.

Source below (WWF) NB I could have picked even worse cycle efficiency calculation (from Bossel) that portrays reality today and in near future, but I picked this, because it's the most optimistic available.

More importantly the discussion about hydrogen misses the most fundamental question:

Where will the energy come from?

We need new primary energy sources and probably also new energy infrastructures that harness and deliver them.

Granted, we need better energy storage systems. But those are not our main problem (although they should be continued to be researched).

We need primary energy sources to replace oil (peaking), natural gas (moderate probability to for peaking soon after oil) and coal (AGW, risk of flow rate constraints). That is c. 87% of our primary energy use worldwide. That is our major challenge.

Hydrogen will not help in solving this main problem and even as a storage system it is inferior to alternatives.

And as for the 'environmentally benign effects' of the hydrogen economy, those are in doubt as well (see: Richard Derwent ref for more).


Ulf Bossel papers (including Proceedings of the IEEE)

Perspectives on the Hydrogen Economy and Solar Energy Utilization, Klein

Hydrogen vs Electricity, Davitian

Plugged in - The End of Oil Age, WWF

Fuel Cell Efficiency: A Reality Check, Crea

Global environmental impacts of the hydrogen economy, Derwent

The Hydrogen Report, Wilson

Hydrogen Reality Check, Bullis

Paul MacCready Interview @ Caltech, Lippincott

* I guess it must be equally tiring to read these debunkings as it is to write them, so I will try to make this my last post on debunking Hydrogen personal vehicles. I will refer hydrogen fanatics to this post or the forthcoming TOD key post on the issue.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." -Philip K. Dick

Sigh. You still do not seem to understand the fundamental issue.

He is not here for understanding. He's here to post about how Hydrogen is a good idea. Over and over.

When asked pointed questions or to offer up rebuttal - yet another poster who can't be bothered to respond.

will refer hydrogen fanatics to this post or the forthcoming TOD key post on the issue.

*clap* *clap* Can you get Dr. Ulf Bossel to weigh in again on the H2 fuel cells again?

I'm afraid you are right on Datamunger and I'm about ready to plonk him too. It's just that his other posts are so worthwhile. Still, life's just too short and there's too much good data to read anyway.

As for the TOD key post on Hydrogen, I'm not writing it, I just picked up the fact from Leanan (that it's coming).

I'm eagerly waiting for it and I hope it will bring this matter to a sane interim-conclusion, including pros and cons of hydrogen for the type of applications that are civilizations main concern for the foreseeable near future.

Expansion of Pipeline Stirs Concerns Over Safety

America's natural-gas boom is driving the construction of thousands of miles of new pipelines, many of them crisscrossing heavily populated or environmentally sensitive areas.

per leanan and that 500 mille pipeline the article mentions.

The agency late Friday approved the roughly 500-mile, $1.27-billion
pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Energy Transfer
Partners. "

The line will run from southeastern Oklahoma to an interconnection with
TransContinental Gas Pipe Line's system in Alabama and include a 4-mile
lateral pipeline in Richland and Madison Parishes, Louisiana. The line would
access production in the Barnett Shale and Bossier Sands in Texas, the
Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas and the Woodford/Caney Shale in Oklahoma.

This is the 2nd major pipeline that will be moving gas from this region.

Boardwalk the other.

Someone thinks there's an aweful lot of gas here.

Hmm, I used to live just west of Richland and Madison Parishes in Louisiana and if I recall there was some oil production there but not much. I wonder why they would build a lateral line to service that area? Maybe there is a chance the Haynesville shale play is going to be pushed sixty miles farther east.


I don't know the details of the area either. But I know pipeliners. They are the most conservative folks in the oil patch. Not only would they not build a pipeline on speculation, they require detailed data from the operators so they can analyze themselves the real potential to keep the new line full and the profit margin where they want it.

Haven't seen this posted on TOD and can't find it with a search. Apologies if I've missed it. Suggests output (exports to be precise) still rising into August - although I'm reminded of a warning in "The Black Swan" not to be fooled by too much data...

OPEC Exports In 4 Weeks To Aug 16 Seen +140,000 B/D-Tracker

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- OPEC crude oil shipments, minus Angola and Ecuador, are projected to increase by 140,000 barrels a day over the four weeks to Aug. 16 as additional barrels from the Persian Gulf and other producers work their way into the market, U.K.-based tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday.

Shipments from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are expected to rise by 140,000 barrels a day to a total of 24.81 million barrels a day, compared with 24.67 million a day in the previous four-week period to July 19, Oil Movements said.

Today's oil prices are declining because in 5-15 years we might have hydrogen cars?

That appears to be the theory. September 2008 CL down because of technology which might have an effect in 5 - 15 years ... erm, ok.

Bandar Bush is right on time in influencing our presidential elections. See 'Bush at War Part III' for references to how Bush thanked Bandar for lowering prices leading up to the 00 and 04 elections.

The US News blogger is either really confused about the markets he should be covering or then he's trying to blow smoke.

Anybody with a half an iota of sense would understand that a technology that is at least 15 years away to make a mass scale impact on the market will not in any case reflect on spot prices today.

So, either he is really confused (I doubt it) or he's trying to blow smoke.

Either way, make a mental memo not to read his useless musings anymore.

Europeans work harder than we thought:

Not so lazy, after all

Is it possible that Europeans - famed for their endless vacations - work as much as we do?

Apparently, they do...if you count non-paid work.

We're more likely to buy various goods and services that Germans are more likely to produce at home. For example, they spend more time preparing meals, while we spend more money on restaurant meals; as a society we do more of our hamburger flipping at McDonald's, while Hamburgers do more of it at home.

Thought this was interesting in the light of Greer's article about the household economy.

It also suggests we'll be hurting a lot more, when people start economizing.

In America, it's not considered "work" if money isn't directly involved (as in getting paid, or profiting your employer).

That's a typical US centric double standard. Or non-standard. What is one to make of Germans actually knowing how to cook? How much time did they waste learning that? Time that could better have been spend learning marketing and maximizing their student loans?

Ohmygodmaybetheyknowhowtocook - there must be a German word for that. All the better to learn English and forget that useless skill. What are we to make of the toxic waste most "restaurants" seem to serve? I'm constantly amazed at how much worse restaurant food has gotten - even the french fries are all fancied up as if that will cover the soggy and faux spud. Of course, what is available in the supermarkets is declining in quality too, and that matters.

We spend money on those meals. They spend time. Therefore they are working and we are not. I should probably get a second job so I don't have to cook my own food.

[disclaimer: I learned how to cook peasant French from my Swiss-German; she thinks German food is rather dreadful.]

cfm in Gray, ME

Regarding the references to Kunstler's comments on Dallas... if Texas and Louisiana retained the natural gas they ship to New York City for their own use, they would have enough to run their air conditioners for a long time. I think it is very much an untested assumption that the energy-rich portions of the US will, in a crisis, continue to allow their energy resources to be transferred to other regions at a high rate. It is one thing for the federal courts to, for example, rule that Texas may not hold onto its natural gas because of the Commerce Clause in the US Constitution; it is quite another thing for the federal government to protect the pipelines from sabotage.

The collapse will come when the Interstate highways and power grid fail, and then nothing will work, including extracting and transporting natural gas. So it does not matter where the gas or oil are. The collapse will be national, not just in regions. If you live in Texas and have lots of oil, how will you get food from the Midwest when there is no oil there agriculture and transportion to Texas? :(

Well, in the 100F weather in Arkansas last week, I was working on building my house, and there's no air conditioning! I think that people will learn to turn their air conditioners from 72F to 82F, and turn on a fan that blows on them. However, this will only happen when electricity is expensive, and on a graduated rate scale. The more you use, the more expensive it is!

In regards to resources, you should see the responses of the states that border the Great Lakes when proposals have come around to take that water and send it to the southwest...

I work at night and sleep during the day, when(obviously) it's hottest. Yet I have no problem sleeping in 35 - 40 degree (Celcius) weather. I just pull the curtains and turn on a fan. If I had a verendah, I'd probably sleep in a hammock or spare bed out there.

People are soft.

I wonder. I remember a year or so ago, Jeffrey said some gas stations in Dallas were dry. Apparently because shortages in the Chicago area meant prices were better there, and trucks went where the price was higher.

I think if it gets to the point where people start blowing up pipelines, the air-conditioning will likely be off, one way or another.

I will only point out what I consider to be one important distinction. If the air conditioning is off in NYC and in Dallas, and the natural gas pipelines are blown, there is a better chance that the air conditioning in Dallas will come back on (using NG that would have otherwise left the state). Absent those pipelines, there is no chance of the A/C coming back on in NYC.

Out of curiosity, where do you live, and where did you live at ages, say, 16-24? It is my perception that different regions have very different attitudes toward the notion of "going it alone", and those are largely internalized by the mid-20s. I may be biased, but it seems that the Atlantic seaboard (when I lived there) has much more of an attitude of "Of course Texas and Colorado will ship natural gas to us," while sneering at the rubes. In Texas and Colorado, OTOH, there's a long-standing cultural meme with the flavor of "We can get by just fine without those East Coast snobs." The former leads to attempts to impose policies that might work fine in Baltimore on Denver and Dallas; the latter can lead to nuts who blow up pipelines.

I think Kunstler fully expects the air-conditioning to be off in both NY and Texas. He just thinks it's not as necessary in NY.

As for me, I'm well-traveled. I'm in the northeast now, but my formative years were spent all over the place, including in foreign countries without running water and electricity.

As I understood it, Colorado isn't really connected to the northeast. Hence the rolling blackouts during the cold snap a couple of years ago. They had plenty of natural gas in the northeast, but no way of getting it to Denver.

And no, I don't think "of course those rubes will supply the northeast." Rather, I think if things fall apart to the point that people are blowing up pipelines, air conditioning will be the last thing they're worried about. That implies a level of systemic collapse that suggests things like food and water will be more urgent priorities than air-conditioners (that are all built in China anyway).

Caught a bit of McCain speachifying today he said:

"We need, we need, we need we need ..."

For a moment I thought he was maybe running for president of some shit poor African country like Sudan.

But no, doesn't look like his presence would be appreciated there.

Nigerien leader backs al-Bashir,

APA-Niamey (Niger) Niger President Mamadou Tandja has called on his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al- Bashir to "quickly settle the Darfur issue to avoid giving chance to other people outside Africa to meddle in our national affairs".

I think the age issue with McCain is a real issue.

We should insist, if it hasn't happened already, that he be given a thorough medical exam for possible early stages of dementia (ala Ronald Reagan).

I know this is propaganda...but still...kind of concerning behavior to have in a presidential candidate:


When I see that McCain's Antichrist and Paris Hilton ads seem to be working, I feel as though my entire country is like the crumbling retirement home in "The Simpsons", with a bunch of crazy old white people carrying out infantile vendettas and railing against the outside world, while assuming that the institution will keep functioning regardless. It says a lot about the maturity of a society when it chooses leadership in a crisis. In the Great Depression the US chose the future, the UK chose the past, and Germany chose madness.

Well, madness seems to running up a winning streak in the USA now.

super390, that's the best metaphor for our national disposition that I've seen in a coon's age. But you forgot to include the word "cartoon," without which it would be just too painful to watch.

This would never be allowed by the boomer voting bloc which is already starting to increase the noise level about 'ageism' in hiring practices.

A portion of this appears related to the large numbers of soon-to-be retirees that suddenly realized they have almost no nest egg at all.

I don’t think I’m too well versed in some of the price relationships between crude oil and gasoline so forgive me if this is a naïve question…

Does the recent pull back in crude prices suggest any significant change in gasoline prices will occur in the near term ? I thought there was a running discussion on TOD as to how gasoline prices never really totally caught up with the run up in crude – so will the “momentum” of higher gas prices due to higher crude prices counteract (at least in the short term) any impact from the recent dip in crude and cause gas to pretty much stabilize where it’s at now ?

I’m just curious because there seems to be so much instantaneous cheerleading in the MSM about “lower” oil prices yet I don’t see how that significantly impacts gasoline unless the drop in crude is sustained.

What's amazing to me is how blithely most of these media types can refer to $120 per barrel oil as a "lower" price.

Whats amazing to me is how when a company or corporation institutes cost cutting measures its hailed and applauded...but when individuals do it...
its somehow unpatriotic.
Its so ingrained in the zombies watching corporate
media that no one even bats an eye lash when Americans
are told the best thing they can do is go shopping...
and when corporations lay off tens of thousands and
close plants...they are rewarded with a stock increase....even though the company just cut their
capital worth...please no comments on how the company
is now leaner and blah blah blah....thats just the man
behind the curtain talking.

Hey, I just filled up my truck for a "mere" $3.79/gallon!


The slipping price of oil is helped by the housing crisis. More and more people are walking away from their high home payments and credit card payments. As the financial industry is wrecked, other industries are being wrecked. Retail sales this year are horrible. GDP is shrinking. People are just trying to keep their heads above water right now. The reckless Republican policies and lack of any real alternative leadership by the Democrats are now playing out. The solutions to our problems will become more and more difficult to implement as a result.

Yet somehow we're not in a recession. Bull!@$#.

A second, far larger wave of U.S. mortgage defaults is building


Of course, the 4th Q 2007 numbers have been quietly revised to reveal negative growth. But you wait and see, the 1st Q 2008 numbers will be revised to show positive growth. The government will never allow 2 negative quarters in a row because that would officially be a recession. And all the numbers are still inflated because the CPI is rigged.

Welcome to Brezhnev America.

Microsoft uses 23,000.000 Cups?

Well, at least they're all Compostible

A couple of years ago, our office was moving. In the kitchen, we had a bunch of ceramic coffee mugs, but the office manager wanted to throw them away. I asked her what we would use to drink coffee and she just gave me a blank look and said "styrofoam". She wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, by far...

I just can't resist:
"At the same time, it’s imperative to point out that availability of energy is not the main problem we have these days"
"All of it will lead to drastically lower consumption rates, which will lead to bankruptcies, and tens of millions of jobs falling by the wayside"

Read for yourself. Shipwrecked among cannibals. Comments by Ilargi


I think Ilargi is simply saying that the bankster-elite intend to suck up so much money from the people that they can't afford much energy. That way they hide geological peak by plunging the world into a great depression it never comes out of - just a few years earlier than PO would have done on its own.

Ilargi has previously said he believes the "elites" paid a lot more attention to Hubbert/Limits to Growth type thinking than they let on and that PO breaks the banksters bubble-blowing machine. The strategy to create the ultimate debt-based boom/bust leading up to PO was probably there all along.

Well that's my interpretation of Ilargi's take on the link between PO and Finance. Probably appear now and tell me I'm completely wrong :-)

"Ilargi has previously said he believes the "elites" paid a lot more attention to Hubbert/Limits to Growth type thinking than they let on and that PO breaks the banksters bubble-blowing machine. The strategy to create the ultimate debt-based boom/bust leading up to PO was probably there all along."

After watching the two converging crisis over the past few years I have come to think this as well. Either that or it is a huge coincidence that the US consumer was shot dead in its tracks precisely at the time where high oil prices threatened to take down globalization.

It looks like to me that the highly debated topic of peak oil is about to be taken over by the highly debated topic of deflation. Matt Simmons was correct to say a floor should be put under oil, sub $100 could possibly kill all hope for the "market" taking care of alternatives.

You believe in "Localization?"

Read This

Hello TODers,

Well written roundup on global potash market:

Potash Corp: Dynamics of Supply and Demand Drive Earnings Growth

...Fertecon estimates that the spot potash price will continue to rise from $625/ton in 2008 up to $1350/ton by 2011. Thereafter the spot potash price will fall back temporarily to about $1000/ton in 2014 and rise again to $1500/ton by 2020. From 2009 to 2020, the average price for potash is expected to be $1150/ton.

...In the world of commodities, no other commodity is so unevenly "allocated" by nature as potash, with Canada, Russia, and Belarus being home to 85% of the known world reserves; and no other commodity is so tightly controlled by a cartel as potash, of which supply could almost be legally "monopolized".

And to add some urgency to the situation, there is no substitute for potash.
IMO, if Peakoil & ELM are really hurting in the future [plus no O-NPK ramping virtually everywhere], then from 2009 to 2020: I would expect I-NPK prices to be much higher than the Fertecon forecast. Unfortunately, millions of tons of sulfur and I-NPK cannot be extracted [Haber N & P,K mined], beneficiated, then distributed thru the WWWeb; it takes massive infrastructure and energy.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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


After spending some time thinking about this, I'm convinced that the "Real" Crisis awaiting humanity is NOT Peak Oil, but Peak I-NPK. We Will, despite what many here think, mitigate around peak oil with biofuels; but, it will be a Real Challenge to mitigate around I-NPK with Organics. It will be extremely hard in the U.S. In Africa, and S. America? It just looks almost impossible. Yet, it must be done.

The best answer looks to be biochar; but, that's a slow, laborious, and, I'm afraid, Extremely expensive process. As I said, we Might be able, through a National Effort, achieve a level of carbonization in our fields; but, I can't imagine "How" the Democratic Republic of Congo will be able to achieve this. I'm afraid this may be the "Doomers" dream come true.

Oh, before the ethanol/biofuels haters start yelling at me, This is going to happen whether we have biofuels, or not. We might be talking about the difference between 15 years, and twenty years, or some-such.

Anyway, you're the one that's on the right track. Now, just figure out what to do about it. Four Billion People (approx. the number that might be at-risk) are depending on you.

No "Pressure," though. :)

Hello Kdolliso,

LOL! Four billion people better not depend upon me. There are far better experts than me, and we need millions more to accept reality, then join the Paradigm Shift.

Yep, we are evolved to sit in the nightly darkness, buts it's the disease, dehydration, and starvation that is so difficult to overcome in the coming postPeak Overshoot.

Entropy rules all, but at this point in time: I just trying to raise awareness how utterly dependent our global degree of job specialization is dependent upon NPK & food surpluses. A subtle shift in emphasis to point out that the food chain is just as important, if not more so, than the usual TODer concern on industrial and civilizational gadgetry. In other words, a farm tractor design engineer can't improve his product if his primary concern is feeding his family today.

I subscribe more to the Peak Everything Theory [Heinberg & others]: because everything is so interconnected, not only by energy flowrates, but also by the other resource flowrates--a shortage of anything can get us as it sets off cascading blowbacks into the other energies and/or other resources--it will depend a lot upon the where one lives [and ultimately dies].

But, if we can somehow muster sufficient grassroots efforts, I think we can achieve some measure of Optimal decline vs just total anarchy and catabolic collapse. It will still appear to be a god-awful mess, but if by 2100: any optimality effort that has saved a million human lives, plus saved 10,000 other lifeforms from possible extinction would, IMO, be considered a roaring success.

totoneila, Making potash on a small scale for personal
use is a relatively simple procedure.
Take wood ashes from wood burning stove and place in a
pile,urinate on pile of ashes and wait for white crystals to form.
Sometimes the crystals are yellow in hue depending on
the wood ashes used,humididty during drying,urine
Larger quantities can be produced with larger inputs
of ashes or urine.Almost all creatures great and small
produce urea in their urine and its composed mainly of
I dont bother boiling and trying to refine the potash
from the wood ashes. Just tilling the ashes into the soil is sufficient.
Since the nitrogen from wood ash and urine produced
potash is highly soluble in water I suggest keeping
your pile of piss soaked wood ashes covered from the
elements ubtill use.
A wood fired furnace can produce nearly a 1/2 ton of ashes in a season and a family of four or 1 horse or 1 cow will produce more than enough pee to fertilise
several acres.
Adding crushed limestone will aid the potash to work
more efficiently

It is interesting that my wood-burning stove of modern design creates less than three pounds of ashes per season. I clean it out once a year and have half a bucket. Now pee, we have plenty of that. The way the apples are coming on this year, we will have an oversupply of vinegar. So lots of piss and vinegar but not many ashes. Lots of horse dung and leaves too. We should be OK but not much surplus.

I agree with the "Peak Everything" idea; including financials especially because ultimately that includes jobs, savings, mothers and apple pie all down the tubes (into the composter). Yep, I are one.

This is of course completely correct.

However, it needs to be a closed cycle.

If one then uses the potash fertilized land to make biofuels or food (which retains potash) and then ships this fuel/residue/food away, there goes the potash and the cycle is broken.

I think Bob has been bringing to our attention the fact that in industrial ecology (be that agriculture or manufacturing) the systems need to retain their own outputs in order to sustain.

If you remove non-renewable inputs from your cycle, eventually the cycle will break. Outputs must be recycled in a geographically sensible basis.


I wanted to repeat something I posted in a DB the other day.

Here we farm a lot of river bottom ground. The pleasant aspect of this is that it needs no fertilizer inputs. We get all of what those upstream let erode down to our bottoms.

Planting in river (and some creek bottoms) is an iffy proposition but its doable for those who have the knowledge. The indians knew about this.
Apparently the early settlers did to.

I just wanted to let you know that for some of us its not the End Times for ag when NPK goes skyhigh. We still got our bottom lands.

The rest of yall may be in trouble though.

Best to you,


PS. Across the river those other folks live behind levees! They get no sediment. They get flooded houses too. We are too smart to do that.
Upstreamers like to build on floodplains for some odd reason.
Take this last spring for example. The blue catfish got really a big feeding from all the dead stuff that came downriver.I ate a big bait of some fine bluecat last week. Keep up the good work. Now back to my fish and hog BBQ.

Hello Airdale and other TODers,

Thxs so much for your replies. Just another quick link for your consideration:

Food Security

One of the most critical problems facing Africa and the world today is food security...

..Lack of infrastructure is at the very root of the food problem. Transportation costs have so dramatically raised the price of fertilizer - sometimes increasing it as much as 4 to 6 times - for so many African farmers causing them to use far less than they should - at less than 10 kilos per hectare per average compared, for example, to India at over 100 kilos per hectare, China at circa 200 kilos per hectare (the average for Asia is about 150 kilos per hectare) and as high as 400 or more kilos per hectare in parts of Europe.

This has not only led to incredibly low yields by global standards, it has also resulted in African farmers on the average taking more nutrients out of the soil - in effect mining it - leading to a deterioration of soil quality and structure and the soil's ability to retain nutrient and grow crops in the future. In many cases, the low level of fertilizer use often makes it pointless to use improved seeds or pesticides and gives the farmer a smaller margin of error in case of adverse climatic conditions such as drought or heavy or early or late rain or from pest attack.

Even should the farmer find the means to improve her or his output, the lack of infrastructure makes the cost of getting the surplus to market prohibitive....
The key words are transport costs multiplying fertilizer costs as much as 4 to 6 times. My earlier posting series on SpiderWebRiding is my proposal to help keep this transport cost from making I/O-NPK into Unobtainium.


My wife and I watched your presentation, from last month, three times now. We really enjoyed it, even though my wife condemned me to watching Project Runway all week as payback. I think one important factor, that should not be included in your Land Export Model, but important none-the-less, is that countries approaching zero exports will likely cut exports out entirely.

Your model shows many countries running out of exports around 2030. Have we considered that many exporting countries would end exports perhaps 10 years earlier just to preserve their future …and thus propelling the fate of importing countries?

I suppose what we might see is rapid reduction in exports, down to a minimum level.

In the Q&A, I noted that I talked about net oil exporters "approaching" zero net oil exports. I suspect that a lot of world trade will gradually be reduced to trade between net energy exporters and net food exporters.

I wasn't expecting the signs of collapse so soon. From my local paper:

The county is broke, but still desperate to fix residential streets. So they've come up with a program to have homeowners pay for their own street resurfacing. The Residential Neighborhood Street Resurfacing Program is brand new, not used yet. But the idea is to help the county Public Works Department catch up on $100 million worth of road projects.


This is not a poor area. While home prices have diminished some, it has not been to the extent of so many other areas.

The future is here already.

Where I live, it hasn't gone this far yet. But a certain few streets have been in 'bombed out' condition since well before oil went up, because some residents see it as a way of sending "traffic" somewhere else. OTOH, others are unhappy about the unkempt appearance and its property-value implications, plus wear-and-tear and risk to their vehicles (e.g. dinged windshields sometimes crack after a while and that can be expensive.) So it may be interesting to see how this plays out over time, and whether it turns into a sort of mini-war of all against all.

Looking back over August 5th 2008 as it fades into the
rear view mirror I feel as if I just drove a nice
piece of road.
For a few brief moments I can relax and loosen my grip
on the wheel.The markets performed remarkably well
and the weather cooperated in the Gulf.Gas prices were
down a tad at the last few exits I passed on my journey this day.

How come I have this feeling the wheels are about to come off?
Does this engine sound like its knocking too you?
Are those brake lites up ahead?
Whats the flashing sign with the "WARNING BE PREPARED
Why does the neocon shill on the radio seem so upset?
Why do they call this a parkway and I drive on it and
they call my driveway a driveway and I park on it?
If god doesnt suffer idiots......how come he made so
many of them?
Hey!...theres a hitchhiker...Iam gonna pick him up and
act completely normal....that'll freak him out huh?
Hey buddy...need a lift?
Hitchhiker: Yeah,Iam headed to Oil City Pennsylvania.
Hop in..Iam going right by there and can drop ya off.
By the way....you ever heard of Peak Oil?.......

GCC states to harness winds of change
(The GCC is economic and cultural union between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.)

GCC countries, sitting on a quarter of the global oil and gas reserves, have traditionally used fossil fuels for most of their needs. Of late the GCC countries are diversifying their sources of energy, by focusing on alternative energy sources. . . .

With the exception of Qatar, every GCC country faces a gas shortage now. There is an urgent need for new discoveries, improved recovery rates, better energy efficiency and intra-regional gas trading schemes from Qatar and Iran. The Dolphin pipeline from Qatar to Abu Dhabi is a case in point.

The GCC countries are increasingly aware of this problem, which is likely to worsen in the future with growing populations and economies. Oil is in good demand and yields higher profits as an export item than being fired in gas strapped power plants at home. Therefore, the GCC countries now envisage nuclear energy, coal and renewable energies as additions to their energy mix. The aim is to extend the lifeline of their most precious export good and use it more efficiently.

Saudi Oil Minister Ibrahim Al Naimi has clearly stated that Saudi Arabia is planning to make solar energy an important pillar of the national energy mix.

Time to pay the piper:

We used an energy filled liquid to spurn rapid worldwide development, with associated huge population increases. Now we stand upon peak oil, and the pressures of higher prices are starting to take their toll in various ways across the globe. Cuba's model of urban farming hails as an example, yet seems all too familar, aka Kunstler's books.

Unfortunately the ride down will not be sudden. It will inexoriably take its toll over decades as we scramble around trying to fix one breaking part of the overall system after another. It will be our collective Steven King movie set in reality.

Presumably if this pipeline remains closed for any length of time it could cause considerable problems.

BTC pipeline fire in Turkey disrupts oil flow

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — A fire on a Turkish section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline — a major supplier of crude to Western markets — disrupted the flow of oil, officials said Wednesday. Shipments were not affected.

The overnight blaze forced workers to shut down two valves along the pipeline as a precaution, halting the flow of all oil being sent to Ceyhan terminal from the east, said Murat Lecompte, a spokesman for pipeline shareholder British Petroleum.

Oil stockpiled at the terminal, however, was being used for westbound shipments, Lecompte said.
The pipeline can pump slightly more than 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, more than 1 percent of the world's daily crude output.