DrumBeat: August 14, 2008

Conflict in Georgia threatens U.S. effort to secure access to Central Asian energy

NEW YORK: When the main pipeline that carries oil through Georgia was completed in 2005, it was hailed as a major success in the U.S. policy to diversify its energy supply. Not only did the pipeline transport oil produced in Central Asia, helping move the West off its dependence on the Middle East, but it also accomplished another American goal: It bypassed Russia.

U.S. policy makers hoped that diverting oil around Russia would keep it from reasserting control over Central Asia and its enormous oil and natural gas reserves, and would provide a safer alternative to Moscow's control over export routes that it had inherited from Soviet days. The tug-of-war with Moscow was the latest version of the Great Game, the 19th-century contest between Imperial Britain and Czarist Russia for dominance in the region.

A bumper sticker that U.S. diplomats distributed around Central Asia in the 1990s summed up Washington's strategic thinking: "Happiness is multiple pipelines."

Now energy experts say that the hostilities between Russia and Georgia could threaten U.S. plans to gain access to more of Central Asia's energy resources in a year when booming demand in Asia and tight supplies helped push the price of oil to records.

Russia-Georgia conflict raises worries over oil and gas pipelines

Russia's invasion of neighboring Georgia has raised doubts about the security of oil and gas pipelines that cross through the former Soviet republic and the wisdom of further investment in the transport lines.

The foray also put an emphatic stamp on Russia's growing influence over the region's natural resources and, by proxy, over Europe.

Korean consortium loses rights to Russia oilfield: official

SEOUL (AFP) - A South Korean-Russian consortium has lost its licence to explore and develop a huge offshore oilfield in Russia's west Kamchatka, a state petroleum company said Wednesday.

The Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) said the Russian government last month rejected a request to extend a five-year licence granted to the consortium led by KNOC and Russia's state-run Rosneft.

Utah: 17,000 state workers move to four-day weeks

In a one-year experiment, the state moved most of its employees -- those working in non-emergency services -- to the four-day week August 4. By closing 1,000 state buildings an extra day per week, it hopes to save about $3 million in utility costs during the trial.

It also hopes employees will save on fuel costs by driving to work one less day per week.

The secret cause of high oil prices

I do not know what the degree of influence speculators have on oil prices. It is probably small over periods of a year or more, given the relatively smooth rise in prices from $20 since 2001. However, the fundamentals – supply and demand for oil — provide an simple explanation for the rise in oil prices.

Causes of rising prices

1. Twenty years of low prices caused massive underinvestment, since the oil crash in the early 1980’s. The return on investment for oil exploration was negative by the late 1990’s.

2. Rapid growth in global gdp, the fastest since 1980 - perhaps the fastest since the invention of agriculture (we can only guess at growth before the 1970’s).

These two factors affected the entire commodity sector, explaining why commodity prices have risen so far from their lows in the late 1990’s.

Russia: 'Forget' Georgian territorial integrity

GORI, Georgia - Russia's foreign minister declared Thursday that the world "can forget about" Georgia's territorial integrity, and officials said Russia targeted military infrastructure and equipment - including radars and patrol boats at a Black Sea naval base and oil hub.

Two American military planes delivered cargos of aid - including food and medicine - to Georgia's wounded and refugees. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he sees no need to invoke U.S. military force in the war between Russia and Georgia. He warned, however, that U.S.-Russian relations could suffer for "years to come" if Moscow doesn't retreat.

Russia's president met in the Kremlin with the leaders of Georgia's two separatist provinces - a clear sign that Moscow could absorb the regions. And the comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to come as a challenge to the United States, where President Bush has called for Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia."

Russian court ousts TNK-BP chief

British oil company BP PLC said Thursday that a Russian court has barred the head of its troubled Russian joint venture from office for two years.

"We are very disappointed with this decision," said BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams. "However, Robert Dudley remains CEO of TNK-BP pending completion of an appeal process."

Pickens says oil won't go below $100

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens said on Thursday crude prices may soon fall as low as $110 a barrel amid falling gasoline demand, but should not sink below $100 because the United States depends heavily on oil imports.

"I don't think it'll drop below $100," Pickens told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I would say $110 is where it might go, something like that."

Nigeria warns oil firms to share gas or be punished

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's government on Thursday threatened to impose stiff penalties against foreign oil companies that fail to provide a certain amount of natural gas to the domestic market by the end of the year.

President Umaru Yar'Adua, under increasing pressure to rehabilitate a shoddy power sector, indicated he will soon declare a power emergency that would oblige international oil companies to share more of their gas.

The power crisis is one of the biggest brakes on growth in Africa's most populous country.

Peak Oil Reader: Where To Start Learning About Peak Oil

Scientists have developed a myriad of peak oil forecasts. Some believe that the oil industry already peaked while others claim that it will happen within several decades. Currently, researchers struggle to find techniques to harvest oil from remote areas in order to prevent the peak oil crisis.

Past and Present: 'Malaise' and the Energy Crisis: Jimmy Carter's speech is remembered for something he never said—we should recall what he did say

What Carter really did in the speech was profound. He warned Americans that the 1979 energy crisis—both a shortage of gas and higher prices—stemmed from the country's way of life. "Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns," the president said. Consumerism provided people with false happiness, he suggested, but it also prevented Americans from re-examining their lives in order to confront the profound challenge the energy crisis elicited.

"We've always believed in something called progress," Carter explained. The simple version of this big idea was the faith that "piling up of material" goods would ensure a better life. Carter condemned the idea's naiveté and warned his fellow Americans that they could not live in a world without limits. Selfish individualism (what he once called "me-ism") wouldn't pull us through the crisis.

Oil-addicted world faces crude awakening

As petrol prices reach record levels, the maker of an award-winning Swiss film on peak oil talks to swissinfo about an issue which is affecting everyone, everywhere.

Described as "one of the most frightening films you are ever likely to see" by British newspaper The Guardian, A Crude Awakening is essential viewing for anyone wanting to understand the current crisis and why the future is far from rosy.

Automakers fret over resale values of trucks, SUVs

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Phil Awker's ad for a used 2004 Chevrolet Suburban has been languishing in an online classified for more than two months, even though it's priced $6,000 less than book value.

Billy Roach's 2002 Jeep Wrangler has been up for a month on Philadelphia's Craigslist. He just wants to pay off his loan, Roach says, and he's hoping to get about $10,000 for it. Book value is about $2,000 less than that.

Such situations are popping up all over the country, and automakers worry that declining residual values — how much vehicles are worth for resale — will embitter their customer base.

Georgia Says Russian Missiles Struck BP Pipeline

(Bloomberg) -- A BP Plc-operated oil pipeline that passes through Georgia to the Black Sea port of Supsa was struck by Russian missiles yesterday, the Georgian government said.

A second link that carries oil from Azerbaijan to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, known as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan or BTC pipeline, will reopen in a week after a fire earlier this month, according to Turkey's Energy Ministry.

China Industrial-Output Growth Slows on Export Orders

(Bloomberg) -- China's industrial-output growth cooled in July to the slowest pace since February 2007 on weaker export orders and factory shutdowns to clear the air for the Olympic Games.

Exports Account for One-Third of China’s Emissions

As Chinese manufacturers feed a growing global appetite for cheap goods, these exports account for a rising share of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, a new study reveals.

Exports are now responsible for one-third of China's emissions, according to a study that will appear in the journal Energy Policy. The researchers describe their analysis as the most systematic study of the subject to date.

Population Bomb Author's Fix For Next Extinction: Educate Women

It’s an uncomfortable thought: Human activity causing the extinction of thousands of species, and the only way to slow or prevent that phenomenon is to have smaller families and forego some of the conveniences of modern life, from eating beef to driving cars, according to Stanford University scientists Paul Ehrlich and Robert Pringle.

OPEC crude oil output rises 300,000 b/d to 32.77 million barrels per day in July

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) 13 members boosted their collective crude oil production by 300,000 barrels per day (b/d) in July to average 32.77 million b/d over the month, according to a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials just released.

Excluding Iraq, the 12 members bound by output agreements produced an average 30.31 million b/d in July, or 330,000 b/d more than June's 29.98 million b/d and 637,000 b/d in excess of their 29.673 million b/d target, the survey showed.

Oil and economy on the devil’s seesaw

Oil’s rocky ride to the stratosphere seems to be over. The world price, which flirted with $150/b altitude in July, hesitated for a while, then turned around and began to tumble back to Earth like some disabled wreckage.

But this is not the development everybody hoped for -- the healthy, market-induced lessening of demand for an increasingly expensive resource, substituting away from it. The mainspring behind the turnaround is a worldwide slowdown. Recovery of lost momentum would redirect prices upward again.

We are witnessing the end of the beginning of the world’s oil problem and not vice versa.

Iran aims to boost oil sales to China, India

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The world's fourth-largest oil exporter Iran plans to boost shipments to fast-growing energy consumers China and India and may reduce the flow to other buyers, a top Iranian oil official said on Thursday. The United States has sought to isolate Iran over its nuclear programme, which Iran says is for purely peaceful purposes.

State-run companies of Asian economies keen to secure future energy supplies are less susceptible to U.S. pressure to stay out of the Islamic Republic and are taking a bigger role in its energy sector.

Greer: Idols of the marketplace

Just as it’s clearly not true that the unregulated market automatically brings prosperity – the invisible hand, it turns out, is quite capable of giving us the finger – the issues raised in the last two posts suggest that it’s also not true that all economic activity ought to be subject to the market’s vagaries. Economies outside the market system could play a large role in helping to balance out the market’s wobbles. The household economy is one potential balancing force; another could come from local economies driven by the very different forces of reciprocity and custom, in which surplus products are exchanged as gifts between neighboring families. Other economies beyond the market also deserve exploration.

Canada: Shortage puts gas stations in a bind

More Petro-Canada stations are running dry in Calgary, forcing some retailers to wait for crucial deliveries which could be driven by truck drivers flown in from Ontario.

At least six of the company's approximately 30 Calgary service stations had run completely empty as of Wednesday, and it's expected they won't be the last.

"There's going to be more that run out over time than there are today," said Petro-Canada spokeswoman Kelli Stevens.

Garcia says Peru not in midst of an energy crisis

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Alan Garcia worked to calm concerns about the country's growing, if temporary, energy shortage on Wednesday, saying Peru is not in the midst of a crisis.

In the last two weeks, Peru has experienced two blackouts as spiking demand, a shortage of rains and poor infrastructure have combined to crimp power supplies. Garcia has met with energy industry leaders to discuss the problem.

"There is no energy crisis. What happened is that it rained less this year -- so the growth in electric energy created with gas has to compensate for electric energy produced by hydro power," Garcia told reporters.

Bosnia Faces Fuel Shortage

Sarajevo _ Bosnia is facing a growing shortage of fuel after several big regional suppliers were reported to have reduced shipments to the country.

Without any oil production of its own, Bosnia depends for supplies on large regional oil companies such as Croatia's Ina, Hungary's Mol and Slovenia's OMV and Petrol. But thosse companies have all reduced shipments, the Bosnian media reported on Wednesday.

The main reason for the disruption seems to be increased demand for fuel across the Mediterranean region, especially in Turkey and Croatia, mostly due to the summer vacation season and a large influx of tourists.

Kenya mired in energy crisis, seeks investment

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya is suffering an energy crisis and desperately needs to boost "dismal" private investment in the sector, the east African country's prime minister warned on Wednesday.

Like many nations on the world's poorest continent, Kenya has been battered by record oil prices this year that pushed up transport and food costs and ate into government spending plans.

Pelosi calls on Bush to open oil reserves

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently pitched a plan to bring down gasoline prices by dipping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, showing a shift in Democrats' response to the energy crisis.

Democrats distort oil drilling debate

The issue isn't about lowering gas prices today but securing oil supplies for the future.

Udall reverses opposition to offshore drilling

Battered on the energy issue for weeks, Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Mark Udall moved Wednesday to close the distance with his Republican opponent on the issue, calling for more domestic drilling and reversing his long-standing opposition to drilling off America's shores.

Both were sharp turnarounds for a man who has made the expansion of renewable energy a cornerstone of his career and who has consistently dinged the aggressive drilling policies of the Bush administration during this campaign.

Converting gas-powered cars to electric

Both Horsley and Kennington are fed up. They're among a growing number of Americans who are refusing to wait for big-car manufacturers to deliver mainstream electric vehicles, called EVs. Not only have they rebelled against the status quo by ripping out their gas-guzzling engines and replacing them with zero-emission electric motors, they say just about anyone can do it.

Farmers on the Cutting Edge of Energy

TRIMONT, Minn. -- One would hardly know it driving down Main Street, but this tiny prairie town surrounded by corn and soybean fields is at the forefront of America's fight to wean itself off oil.

Long before gas topped $4 a gallon or Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens embraced renewable energy, a group of farmers here banded together to build a massive wind farm.

Today their vision is paying off.

Michael Klare - Russia and Georgia: All About Oil

In commenting on the war in the Caucasus, most American analysts have tended to see it as a throwback to the past: as a continuation of a centuries-old blood feud between Russians and Georgians, or, at best, as part of the unfinished business of the Cold War. Many have spoken of Russia’s desire to erase the national “humiliation” it experienced with the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years ago, or to restore its historic “sphere of influence” over the lands to its South. But the conflict is more about the future than the past. It stems from an intense geopolitical contest over the flow of Caspian Sea energy to markets in the West.

Saudi Arabia Energy Brief: Largest Producer; Fastest Growing Consumer

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of total petroleum liquids and is currently the world’s second largest crude oil producer behind Russia. Saudi Arabia’s economy remains heavily dependent on oil and petroleum-related industries, including petrochemicals and petroleum refining. The International Monetary Fund reported that in 2006, the last available data, oil export revenues accounted for around 90 percent of total Saudi export earnings and state revenues and above 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Energy Watch Part II: Refining Woes Remain

And the situation won't improve. The EIA projects declines in US petroleum consumption through the end of 2009. So, what are the refiners doing to deal with this situation? They're either trying to sell some of their refineries or they're trying to figure out a way to ride out the tide of high crude prices. As the price of crude has fallen over the past few weeks, refining stocks have recovered a bit but all are still quite near 52-week lows.

Psychologists determine what it means to think 'green'

Those who make human behavior their business aim to make living "green" your business.

Armed with new research into what makes some people environmentally conscious and others less so, the 148,000-member American Psychological Association is stepping up efforts to foster a broader sense of eco-sensitivity that the group believes will translate into more public action to protect the planet.

"We know how to change behavior and attitudes. That is what we do," says Yale University psychologist Alan Kazdin, association president. "We know what messages will work and what will not."

In The Event That: You're Having Trouble Turning Cookie Sheets Into Solar Panels

When peak oil is 50 years past and global warming has brought humanity to a standstill, you'll wish you had started your own sustainable collective. The best time to dig in, of course, is not post-apocalypse — it's right now. This evening, Scott Kellogg, one of the founders of the Rhizome Collective in Austin, Texas, will lecture on the merits of sustainable collectives and give advice on how to start your own.

Good news is, you don't have to move out to the country to create a new eco-village; you can do it right here in Philly. Although the Rhizome model is applicable to any setting, it's designed for urban areas, which are home to more than 50 percent of the world's population. "A lot of people want to go off and create separate sustainable communities," says Kellogg. "But cities create a lot of waste products that can be used to create fertility. There's so much existing infrastructure that can be worked with."

How much less can Americans drive?

It seems that there is little political will to curb America’s car culture. Even as record ridership is straining mass transit, transportation officials seem more concerned about maintaining roads. In late July, amid worries that decreased driving is depleting federal funding for road upkeep, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters proposed a short-term solution of borrowing money from mass transit funding.

Trains, trams and automobiles: getting our priorities right

IT IS about time that Melburnians began to confront the sausage rather than the sizzle in the transport debate. Rapid population growth (due to high immigration) and rising oil prices (due to peak oil) mean that public transport will have to bear an increasing share of the burden of providing personal mobility if this city is to remain liveable.

The old future's gone: Progressive strategy amid cascading crises

We’re in trouble, on all fronts, and the trouble is wider and deeper than most of us have been willing to acknowledge. We should struggle to build a road on which we can walk through those troubles -- if such a road is possible -- but I doubt it’s going to look like any path we had previously envisioned, nor is it likely to lead anywhere close to where most of us thought we were going.

Whatever our individual conception of the future, we all should re-evaluate the assumptions on which those conceptions have been based. This is a moment in which we should abandon any political certainties to which we may want to cling. Given humans’ failure to predict the place we find ourselves today, I don’t think that’s such a radical statement. As we stand at the edge of the end of the ability of the ecosystem in which we live to sustain human life as we know it, what kind of hubris would it take to make claims that we can know the future?

Climate at 'a critical point,' scientist says

The global warming debate, a top NASA scientist says, is over. Now, he adds, the issue has turned urgent.

"We have reached a critical point,'' NASA scientist James Hansen said Tuesday in an interview. "If we don't get on a different path within the next several years, then we're going to pass tipping points in the climate system with large consequences that will be felt especially by our children and grandchildren.''

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Washington Post Meets Peak Oil Lite

For those who aren't ready to buy into the concept of world oil production going into decline in the next few years, there is a less worrisome subset making the rounds known as "peak oil lite."

Those adopting this outlook have rightly noted that gasoline is selling for unheard of prices and don't subscribe to the idea that evil speculators, evil oil companies, or evil OPEC is the cause of this unfortunate happenstance. They also correctly recognize demand for oil, especially from China, India and oil producing states, has outstripped the ability of the oil industry to increase supplies fast enough.

Notably absent from peak oil lite, however, is the notion world oil production has not increased appreciably in the last 3 or 4 years and is poised to start dropping very soon. Thus "peak lite" believers readily acknowledge there is a supply/demand problem pushing up prices, but do not go so far as to internalize the serious consequences of declining world production.

BP says it has reopened gas taps into Georgia pipeline

LONDON (AFP) - Energy giant BP said on Thursday that it had resumed pumping gas into the South Caucasus pipeline in Georgia and that the Baku-Supsa oil link remained shut.

Oil edges above $116 after rise on U.S. data

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose above $116 a barrel on Thursday, extending gains after a $3 rise the previous session following a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude and gasoline inventories.

Concerns about the security of energy transit routes through the Caucasus also provided some support, although analysts said the mood was still predominantly bearish.

Nigeria to leave oil-rich Bakassi

CALABAR, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigeria will relinquish control of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to its neighbour Cameroon on Thursday despite fears the handover will provoke attacks from local armed groups opposed to the change.

Gazprom may have to share export pipelines - paper

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's anti-monopoly agency is proposing to change legislation on gas exports that would force gas monopoly Gazprom to share export pipelines with independent producers, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

Japan interested in oil projects in north-east Russia

YAKUTSK (RIA Novosti) - Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has said it plans to join oil deposit exploration and development in the Republic of Yakutia in north-east Russia, the republic's administration said Thursday.

Natural Gas: Clean Fuel with a Dirty Little Secret

The natural gas market has a dirty little secret: The U.S. natural gas market is currently massively oversupplied.

At Long Last, Twin Breakthroughs On Energy

Two big facts emerged recently in the national debate over energy, one pleasing to the Increase Supply people and the other equally satisfying to the Decrease Demand folks.

The two facts are these: Americans favor drilling for more domestic oil supply, and lowering demand really does bring prices down notably and quickly.

Raymond J. Learsy: Why Does Abiotic Oil Theory Ignite Peak Oil Theorists' Fulminations??

Abiotic Oil, calling into question the overarching theory that the origins of fossil fuel are of biological/organic origin was touched upon in my previous post, "Oil's Big Dirty Secret as Producers Rake in Hundreds of Billions".

The comments to the post were wide ranging and the Peak Oil missionaries were apoplectic that one dared question their gospel intoning the sanctity of the biological origin of fossil fuels and its rapidly diminishing availability. Clearly the words "Abiotic Oil" stir up heated passions and clear concern among those in the oil patch who would be impacted were the theory to take hold.

Inflation fastest in 17 years; index jumps 0.8% in July

Prices were up 5.6% from a year ago, sharpest year-over-year rise since 5.7% in January 1991 and well above the 5.1% increase that economists had forecast.

Energy prices rose 4% in July after a 6.6% June gain and were up 29.3% on a year-over-year basis. Food costs rose 0.9% following a 0.8% June increase and put food costs 6% higher than a year ago.

Airlines embrace oil decline, but no time to party

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 23 percent drop in oil prices since mid-July brightens the outlook for troubled airlines, but clouds remain thick over the industry, with little hope that carriers will scale back downsizing plans or repeal unpopular fees.

The U.S. airline industry has fallen on hard times, as rising fuel prices have far outpaced a series of fare hikes that began in 2006. Economic weakness, meanwhile, threatens to erode demand and rob carriers of the pricing power they reclaimed in the wake of a low-fare war with newer, leaner airlines.

Automotive 2020 Global Study: New Breed of Consumers Seek Intelligent, Connected and Hybrid Vehicles in 'Virtual Garages'

TRAVERSE CITY, MI, Aug 13, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- The IBM Automotive 2020 Study, based on a global collaboration with 125 automotive industry leaders, today revealed an industry grappling with significant change driven by increasingly sophisticated consumers.

As these consumers seek out a comprehensive mobility experience, industry experts predict that flexible transportation services will replace the purchase of personal vehicles for multiple uses, and intelligent vehicles will cater to consumer demands for greater information, safety, and environmental responsibility.

Automakers scramble to offer more fuel efficiency

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC on Wednesday outlined plans to launch a new car-based SUV modeled after the Jeep Cherokee, as other major automakers took the spotlight at an industry conference to pitch their own hurried responses to the surging demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

A senior Ford Motor Co executive said the No. 2 U.S. automaker expects small car sales to increase sharply and achieve double-digit growth in profit margins on a class of fuel-efficient vehicles U.S. automakers had long neglected in their home market.

China raises tax on big cars to curb pollution

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Wednesday it would raise taxes on large passenger vehicles and cut the tax on small cars from next month to cut pollution and fuel use.

But the policy may only have a limited impact on boosting fuel efficiency in the world's second-largest oil user, as majority of the cars will be spared the tax hike as Beijing seeks to prevent more damage to an already slowing auto market.

Genomics Of Plant-based Biofuels

Genomics is accelerating improvements for converting plant biomass into biofuel—as an alternative to fossil fuel for the nation's transportation needs, reports Eddy Rubin, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), in the journal Nature.

Ethanol industry improves product and PR efforts

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - Ethanol producers on Wednesday railed against what they described as a smear campaign by opponents who have branded the industry responsible for rising food prices.

"Today, we face strong opposition, and their weapon primarily is the press," Bob Scott, president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told hundreds of producers gathered in Omaha for the group's trade show.

Environment? Economics? Hydro-Québec project fails grade

The EIS reveals that by 2020, Hydro-Québec will increasingly need power from the Romaine to satisfy domestic needs. That's Hydro-speak for the hundreds of new megawatts the Charest government recently promised Alcan and Alcoa. The utility insists the Romaine project's environmental impact remains slight compared to similar-sized hydro complexes. Still, mercury embedded in the soil will enter the river once the land is flooded, likely making fish from the Romaine inedible for at least two decades. The Rivers Foundation, a Quebec environmental group, also fears the dams will destroy spawning grounds for Atlantic salmon and slow the flow of nutrients to sea life in the St. Lawrence estuary. Forests flooded by the project will destroy the habitat of several species, especially woodland caribou, and release millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Indeed, while hydroelectricity has been promoted as a cleaner alternative to greenhouse gas-producing coal- and gas-generated power, its image has been tarnished in recent months as international attention increasingly focuses on the impacts of China's vast Three Gorges dam-building exercise and plans in Chile to erect five dams on two pristine rivers in Patagonia.

As energy demands grow, nuclear deserves new look

Remaining nuclear skeptics — including Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama — insist that safety and waste disposal issues be resolved before the nation builds more nuclear plants. That seems like a disingenuous prescription for deferring new plants indefinitely.

At the same time, though, nuclear cheerleaders such as Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who has called for building 45 plants by 2030, are overlooking nuclear's more serious problem. At as much as $12 billion apiece, the plants are breathtakingly expensive to build, and even with substantial government subsidies, utilities are wary.

A risky technology

For several years, the nuclear industry has been touting nuclear power as a major solution for global warming. In fact, an increase in U.S. nuclear capacity could help reduce global warming — but it could increase threats to public safety and security at the same time.

Nuclear power is an unforgiving technology that requires vigilance by reactor operators and federal regulators. A large-scale release of radioactive material — triggered by an accident or terrorist attack — could kill thousands of people from radiation poisoning within weeks and tens of thousands from cancer within decades, and cause hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.

Scorching summer days to sizzle even more in 2100: Study

OSLO - Dangerously hot days are set to become more scorching by 2100 because of climate change with the U.S. Midwest or the Mediteranean region sizzling well above 40 degrees Celsius, Dutch scientists said on Wednesday.

They said the likely jump in temperatures on the hottest summer days would far outpace the average of year-round global warming this century projected by the U.N. Climate Panel. Heatwaves can be a big threat to human health.

Half of Beijing uses Public Transit during Olympics

Many use public buses (extras brought in) but many also use the 8 subway lines (200 km, 3 opened a month before the Olympics). By 2015, 19 subways lines and 561 km.


The Olympics is an artificial pressure on transportation, but it is also a "real world" example of adaptation that will be required post-Peak Oil. I noted that increased bicycle use was not mentioned in the official press.

Enjoy the reduced oil demand by China while it lasts.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


Maybe we need to change the olympics to once per year, and require that it be held in cities that are underserved by mass transit. That might speed things up a bit.

Maybe we need to change the olympics to once per year, and require that it be held in cities that are underserved by mass transit.

It certainly did Athens a lot of good!


Hi Alan,

Meanwhile, in London where the 2012 Games will be held, the IOC have demanded up to 3,000 cars and special traffic-free lanes for their exclusive use. The vehicles will be used to take officials, politicians and corporate sponsors to venues:-(

This is despite us trying to make the London Games the greenest ever. New trains, platforms, lifts and bigger stations are all being added to enhance the London transport system. There will be 10 railway lines (all electric I think) capable of carrying 240,000 people every hour to the Olympic Park. I really don't see why the IOC officials should go by car at all.

Best hopes for less pompous officials.


Can you do posts of the proposed energy policies of (all) "3rd" party candidates?

I'm not impressed with anything the apparent top two have.

Bob Barr 2008 › Issues › Energy Policy

The federal government should eliminate restrictions that inhibit energy production, as well as all special privileges for the production of politically-favored fuels, such as ethanol.

In particular, Congress should allow the exploration and production of America’s abundant domestic resources, including oil in the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and alternative sources such as shale oil. We should develop our nation’s natural assets, which would lower costs to the consumer and assure more adequate and consistent supplies.

Giving him a D minus, myself. Bets on Jug Ears to win. Anybody think he'll take the podium and suddenly start spieling about horrible things like CTL?

Here's the link to Nader's

Just FYI, I am not endorsing him at this point. At this point, I'm still for "none of the above".

Thanks for putting the link there, WNC. I'm pulling a clip or two from it, since many people would never go to a Nader site at this point, even though I think he has more reasoned arguments than anyone else in the race.

I don't think he could win, but he should be (as all candidates) included in the debates, so that 'inconvenient' issues are not just avoided by the major parties and big-media interests.

Nader/Gonzalez would no longer subsidize entrenched oil, nuclear, electric, coal mining, and biofuel interests.

Instead, Nader/Gonzalez would invest in an energy policy that is efficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Nader/Gonzalez would invest in a diversified and proven energy policy including renewable energies like wind and other solar power.

From the beginning, Ralph Nader has been opposed to the subsidized ethanol industry as inefficient, environmentally damaging, inflationary, and as the primary fuel sustaining the corporate welfare kings.

In September 17, 2004, the Des Moines Register article reported that Nader took on the ethanol industry while he was campaigning in Iowa.

In April 2008, Nader was in Illinois telling students that corn ethanol is devouring huge acreage, shortening the supply of wheat, soy and other food, and resulting in the increased prices being seen in the U.S. and abroad.

...The production of one gallon of ethanol requires between three and four gallons of water. In a world already plagued with water shortages, this is simply unsustainable.

His Energy policies aren't 'Perfect', but there IS NO Perfect now.. he should be included in the conversation.

The perfect shouldn't be the enemy of the good. (Paraphrased, I'm sure.) I certainly have some research to do on the 3rd party candidates, but I most certainly won't be voting for either member of the 2-party dichotomy.

I wont this time around, but thats only because I honestly dont care who wins.

"The production of one gallon of ethanol requires between three and four gallons of water"

- unless the corn is rain-watered (and that water is not counted), I'd think the ratio is FAR more than 4:1?

I notice that this useful post got modded down. I'm inclined to take that as yet another measure of just how low our political process has sunk in this country...

A lot of people are still (REALLY) angry at Nader. I think it's misplaced rage at how completely ineffectual the Democratic party has been acting.

The DNC made their 'Embed' with the Corporate Lobbyists.. and now they have to sleep in it.

I'd respect Nader more if he was working on building a party from the grassroots rather than running for prez (for christ sakes we had Kusinich and Gravel in the democratic party expanding the message in the debates) and if he would work more to get voting where if your main candidate didn't win, your second one would be chosen (don't remember the name of it, but it would REALLY help 3rd parties across America). This is really the trouble w/ third party candidates in America and until we have that, 3rd parties will be marginalized across the board. Although as much as I don't like for a presidential candidate, I have a lot of respect for him as far as the legislation he has gotten past. Which he definitely should be commended for.

Instant Runoff Elections. (Right) Yes, he strongly advocates for that. Maybe we should convince the other candidates to discuss this idea publicly with him, and see why they (Say) they've never brought it forth on their own.

Kucinich, while I supported him as long as he lasted, has now had to sink back into the ranks as far as this campaign is concerned.

The Marginalization of 3rd parties is (watch out, Ron) a conspiracy to keep the boat from getting rocked enough to knock any of the bad ideas and deadweight politicians out of it. Third parties have been the ones to bring about reform again and again in this country. Want to get out of BAU? That's how to do it.

the two party system here in the states works allot like a city which is run by two gangs.
these two gangs may fight each other violently, but the second a third gang(aka a third party) tries to enter the picture to give the people what they want. They join forces and crush them.
You cannot change the system from within at this point, either wait for it to collapse or knock it down from the outside.

I agree with ya there! Is there anyway it could be brought up on a ballot in different states (the only ad you would have to run for people is what happened in the 2000 election to really get them thinking about it)? If it gets big enough they won't be able to ignore it and I think a more than a few Dems might agree to it if only to keep 00 from happening again (also if I remember Santorum was having his goons running the Green Party office in his district to knock a few points off his democratic opponent and I don't think that was an isolated incident not to say either that the Green party is or even somewhat being run by the RNC). I really wish that Feingold would have been able to run for the prez. The guy has been behind the progressive movement for awhile and he has enough national recognition that they wouldn't be able to marginalize him like Kucinich, Gravel, or Nader. But he had a messy divorce and had to drop out well before the debates. Which is a real bummer that guy represents change.

I really wish that Feingold would have been able to run for the prez

I do not.

By co-incidence, one of three people that I evaced from New Orleans before Katrina grew up with Sen Feingold and had some political contact with him today. He talked with him in early 2006 about Peak Oil and mitigation. He was extremely disappointed with the response.

If it had no effect on the 2006 election, Sen. Feingold was not interested.


The two party system is built into this nation. Our founding fathers wanted stability over all, and our governmental structure reflects that.

There have been successful third parties in the past...but only at the expense of one of the existing parties. There can be only two. If you add one, one must die.

The inevitable result is two parties without much difference between them.

This won't change unless we radically change the Constitution, and I don't see that happening.

Two party systems are a consequence of any first past the post election system. There are some counterexamples, but some work has been done on it:


"The inevitable result is two parties without much difference between them."

This is just wrong and not supported by experience. To some extent the two parties sound alike because they are going after a lot of the same voters in order to get a majority.

Do you think Al Gore would have invaded and occupied Iraq like GW did? Would Al Gore have promoted Supreme Court justices such as Scalia, Alito and Roberts? Would Al Gore have run up historically enormous debts like GW did? Would Al Gore have had the same energy policy as GW and Cheney? I just don't understand it when people assert that there is little difference between the parties. I suspect what they mean is that neither party exactly matches their desires.

Whether you trend regressive or progressive I don't see how you can say that the parties have little to differentiate them from each other.

To some extent the two parties sound alike because they are going after a lot of the same voters in order to get a majority.


Compare our two parties with the diversity you see in parliamentary systems like many European countries have.

Nader 2000
inadvertantly exposed Florida election fraud

For 2008, it is unfortunate that the Greens do not have a unity ticket with Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, but perhaps this failure reflects broader problems with dissent in the United States as parodied by Monty Python's The Life of Brian.


Nader ignores Peak Oil and limits to endless growth

Washington Post
July 10, 2008

Election 2008: Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was online Thursday, July 10 at 3 p.m. ET to take your questions about his campaign, platform and why he's running.
Ligonier, Pa.: Mr. Nader, I agree that the long term solution to our energy problems lies in alternative fuels and eneergy, but unfortunately that would take years to have any meaningful impact. Wouldn't drilling in ANWR, building additional refinieries and increasing offshore drilling more imediately help the average person who is struggling to fill their tank and buy groceries?

Ralph Nader: Unfortunately you're having a bad dream. Drilling in ANWR won't produce one barrel of oil for at least ten years whereas energy conservation from the way motorists drive to the cars that the auto companies can give you very soon will save far more fuel than any new wildlife refuge in Alaska will produce.You should be able to buy cars now that get 50 MPG or more. For several years, the hybrid cars have been meeting that level and the auto companies should move quickly into hybrid car and other high-efficiency motor vehicles that their engineers have known how to build for years.
More efficient energy technologies from household appliances to heating and AC systems, to the way that homes and other buildings are constructed will save more amounts of energy quickly, safely and less expensively than constructing more generating plants or drilling for more fossil fuels.
As far as gas prices are concerned, stopping the speculation on Wall St. and oil futures would cut the price of a barrel of oil in half. Even Exxon-Mobil testified to that figure recently in Congress. That would mean $65 barrels of oil instead of $130 or more. This would reduce gasoline to the range of $2 a gallon. I do agree with you that tight refinery capacity has helped keep gas prices up, a situation the oil companies have learned how to game. Over 30 refineries have been closed in the last 35 years without being replaced in the United States. Federal policy should move toward expanding refinery capacity.


The only refineries likely to be built are those that can handle the sludge euphemistically called tar sands, or the coal-to-liquids products that Obama and McCain are in favor of.

Otherwise, it doesn't make sense for the oil companies to build refineries to process oil supplies that only exist in some people's imaginations. Weyerhauser isn't building more lumber mills in Oregon that can process eight foot thick trees since the supply is mostly over.

World oil production has been flat for three years while demand has continued to increase. I realize that most liberal / left / progressives have not been paying much attention to this fact. Geology is remarkably immune from politics, although politics certainly impact the exploitation of geological reserves.

Some of the speculators are speculating that the price of oil will drop, not increase (which shows that one need not understand limits to endless growth to place bets on Wall Street). Banning speculators and taxing oil companies (or nationalizing them) won't change the underlying fact that world oil production has peaked. The real issue is how we will all cope with the inevitable downslope.

If the price were to drop back down to $65 / barrel, which is very unlikely without a severe economic crash that would reduce demand, that would merely encourage increased consumption among those (in rich countries and in poorer countries) who have scaled back some consumption because of price increases. There are no more "swing producers" who can scale up production to handle these sorts of surges. Texas once controlled world oil prices. Then it was OPEC's turn. Now, no one can really control the prices, since the era of swing producers is over.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Peak Oil. Peak Oil. Peak Oil.

Looks like Politics as usual on the renewable energy "front". (I hate to use the war analogy, but that seems to be all that gets any attention these days.)

Eight Strikes and You’re Out

E. Swanson

EXXON CEO Rex Tillerson talks shop in a rare interview on ABC last night:

Oil Exec: Energy Independence Unrealistic

Based on BAU I agree we can't become energy independent.

But I think oil companies (and to a lesser degree utilities) constantly repeating that energy independence is impossible are trying to eliminate any discussion in that direction. If you don't set a goal, there is no way to work towards it even if you don't ultimately achieve it.

Consider the logical conclusion to business if each individual in the U.S. tried to become energy independent via wind and solar power generation. The entire energy generating and supply system would become obsolete as we know it.

The problem, also logically, is if there is no replacement for imported oil energy and if that energy peaks and declines, what is the solution if the U.S. can never be energy independent without oil? So this dogmatic belief that there can never be a replacement for imported oil flawed. It's a circular argument to maintain oil as the only option as long as possible.

The US is going to be forced to become energy independent (or close to it) simply because few of the current suppliers will have surplus energy to sell.

Unfortunately energy independence of oil production is inevitable for all oil importing countries, and, because of the implications of the Export Land Model, much sooner than most people think! Transport, at the least, will not be BAU!

I agree that theirs is a loud drumbeat to say "We cant do it...don't even try".

But I see a lot of people saying "Screw it ,I am going to try anyway".

I have the set-up to make a good shot at [micro]-micro hydro [200 watts] 24-7 during the winter.[Harris hydro w/ 24vt]

I am scrimping and saving for more P.V.panels[I have 200 watts,4 50 watt panels stored]

One of my next project is a mexican styled wood-fired hot water tank "just in case"

Modification,growing in a different direction is whats happening in the U.S now.There is some resistance...a refusal by some to see whats coming at them full speed.But the bright ones are already preparing for a major shift.Even if your mind does not want it.

There is a whole hellava lot of difference between a little power and no power.Leds,rather than 60wt bulbs ect.If you have SOME power,much much more is possible.

So you have SOME power. For awhile at least. How long do your P.V. panels last without the industrial infrastructure to support them? How long does your harris turbine run without access to PVC and parts?

This is the single biggest problem I see with the survivalist approach. You are setting up a little island to hold on to the remnants of the old world. Might last out your life time, but what of your children? your grandchildren.

This is why I promote the building of new social structures, not attempts to maintain old technologies. In other places I have compared it to the establishment of monasteries (though not the later institutionalization of those same monasteries). Places where old knowledge (and tech) may be kept alive, but this is not the focus. The focus is on establishing a social order for the local community, growing food, providing education, establishing some form of justice system, etc.

Exactly, we need to promote social structures and community. We are going to need to work together, and use our imagination.

Once again (?!!), these small BB's are RARELY the only thing a person is doing, and they can be part of a plan to develop social aspects of a PostPeak reality. If your house has some electricity and some hot water when the neighborhood is dark, do you lock your doors or share what you can and then have the conversation with these neighbors about how to continue improving everyone's energy resilience together?

I mention again the acquaintance who offered his neighbors hot showers hours after the '98 ice storm. I don't think he has to worry about a horde of jealous locals stealing his panels after word gets around of that sort of generousity.

Nothing lasts forever.. but what other equipment do you own that is really expected to work steadily and daily for you for some 30 plus years? I'd say PV is a pretty good hedge.. and the materials are recyclable. What wears out is the coatings and solder-junctions, from what I've heard..

All your other suggestions are of course essential parts of the mix as well.

What I see as the difference between our viewpoints is that you see the issue as how to get through (I won't use survive, since you don't like it) a crises situation, I see it as how to build a new society.

As for "equipment" that lasts more than 30 plus years, let me see... there is the university (about 700 years old), there's the nation state (only 300+ years old and I really don't expect it to last), there are many different churches (some well over 1000 years old), and there's the modern corporation (only 150 years old and I really hope it doesn't survive).

But, these "tools" are really pretty young. There some pretty good tool designing that's MUCH older, say the idea of democracy (2500 years old), the law (4000 years old), mindfulness (2500 years old). Should I go on?

The line that runs through my head is from the Movie Titanic.. "Music to Drown by? Now I know I'm in First Class!"

Should you go on being grandiose and unnecessarily exclusive? Please don't.

You continue to make it sound like an Either/Or proposition, that someone who is looking for a tool to keep radios, motors or lights working is somehow going to be opposed to Universities. Will the students and the clergy of these ancient institutions need to burn any midnight oil? Pump Water? Call on a colleague in Europe over the Shortwave?

Corporations might be OK, if we could convince ourselves that these creatures aren't living, breathing (Voting) immortals, and that they need to be kept strictly in line. Not placing any bets.. but no love lost here.

We are going to need every tool that works.. and to rebuild a few that almost work.

We're not that far apart, I think. 'Why are academic disputes so heated? Because the rewards are so small.'


okay, clearly I'm failing at explaining myself. I will stop here.

I don't mind the word 'Survive', as that goes.. but once you used it as an 'ism' with Survivalists, you put a set of assumed constraints on what he is about, and what 'those like that' are working towards.

It's not that helpful.

Also, some Roman roads, aqueducts and bridges last for millennium.

I think most railroad tunnels will be as long lasting, with perhaps a reversion to horse/donkey/mule drawn carts at some point in the future.

Iron rails can last centuries.

Subway bores can also be used for centuries, but water has to be pumped out. etc.

The new Swiss railroad tunnels are designed fro major maintenance every 100 years (new rails, signals, power supplies, etc.).

And hydroelectric plants can be very long lasting. With modest refurbishment, the Niagara power plants should produce 4 GW for centuries.

Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure,


PS, the Tag 'Survivalist' is a word choice on your part. I didn't see anything in his post that indicated that he merited that charged label. About as useful as 'Hippie', and as quick to turn the discussion away from the essentials.

Honestly,shaman,I have no children.I will continue to act as a good citizen,a good neighbor,in my community.

I like a certain amount of comfort,and my 'civic responsibility' will be having left a small piece of the world better than when I found it.with around 200 mature fruit trees,a 'enhanced' spring,grapes,kiwis ect.

Way ahead of you there. Norway already built a doomsday seed vault. Our collective knowledge of science and engineering can be stored on microfiche even more easily.

The Foundation.

Concord Monitor - These days, price trumps principle

New Hampshire will become the last state in the Northeast to avail itself of heating-oil assistance managed by Citizens Energy Corp., the nonprofit set up by former congressman Joseph Kennedy to help the poor keep warm. The oil, in turn, is donated to Citizens Energy by Citgo, Venezuela's state-owned oil company.

A couple of years ago, some Republicans objected to New Hampshire residents getting free oil from Venezuela, on the grounds that Chavez was seeking to embarrass the United States. The AP reports that Sen. John Sununu called the idea a "disgrace" and that Gov. John Lynch dropped the effort.

However, a new day has dawned. Now Sununu says he has no objection to individuals and businesses accepting help from an independent nonprofit such as Citizens Energy. The state intends to publicize the aid and sign up fuel dealers to participate.

Finally, it's worth wondering why Citizens Energy should be dependent on Venezuela for oil donations in the first place, when so many domestic oil companies are enjoying profits on a vast scale. Here's what Kennedy says: "I wrote to every oil company and asked them to provide us with just a little bit of heating oil so that we could assist the poor. I do it every year. I did the same thing with every OPEC nation and every major crude oil exporter in the world. The only country and only company that wrote me back and actually provided us with over $100 million worth of assistance was Citgo and the Venezuelan people."

Those crafty socialists.

Foreclosure filings surge 55% over July '07

WASHINGTON — The number of homeowners stung by the slumping housing market jumped last month as foreclosure filings were 55% higher than a year ago, according to data released Thursday.

CNN spun this story as "Good news if you want to buy a house."

I've been mulling over maybe picking one up in a smallish rural town. Might have to fish some concrete out of pipes of course...but I've seen prices as low as $5k and Oregon's not blessed with low real estate prices.

RealtyTrac's saying this may be the worst month ever for foreclosures.

As I was quickly skimming through the posts, I initially parsed your post as saying you were thinking about picking up a smallish rural town!

Didn't Kim Basinger once buy an entire town?


Many sellers are so underwater that their only solution is a short sale. Elsa Bell, a claims adjuster, bought her Riverside, Calif., house in 2006 for $330,000, using a no-down-payment loan. In April she put the house on the market for $275,000, but it hasn't sold.

"The bank is willing to do a short sale, and we have an offer of $170,000 on the house, but we believe the bank will turn that down," Bell said.

I don't think the words "biblical", "apocalypse" or "armageddon" even begin to describe what is coming to the US-economy/world

Another "mortgage crisis" article I read said that the banks are so backed up with cases that even if they wanted to approve a short sale such as this they couldn't do it in time to keep the buyer.

Most buyers are not willing to wait six months for the bank to get it's act together, they will give a fairly short window for an answer, then move on if the sale isn't approved. Too many properties to spend your time waiting..

(sorry, I can't find the link)

I was reading quickly and missed the word "one," too. Hence, I read:

I've been mulling over maybe picking up a smallish rural town.

Then I seriously wondered for a moment if that was possible yet....

CNN spun this story as "Good news if you want to buy a house."

That ranks right up there with "Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

I agree with CNN. We need to start looking at the bright side of this recession/depression.

Those abandoned housed will provide plenty of habitat for wildlife and wood for burning in the future.

I'm sure we can come up with many more "bright side" ideas from all this!!

Actually, I think you have something here. I can see recycling and mining of already but discarded produced goods for their resources as not only necessary but , someday, if not today, vital.

I don't know if anyone caught the "Secrets of Oil" showing on the History Channel last night. The segment ended on the note of "what happens when the oil runs out" and then launched into current recycling technologies underway today. Interesting stuff.

The show was well done overall I thought. It focused mostly on the non transportaion uses of oil, which made me really step back and think more of how things might be in a post peak world...yikes!

Oh, far more than firewood. Most of that timber is perfectly good for other uses, as are many other components of the house, from the door knobs to the plumbing fixtures, to any "architectural niceties."

I have been doing some research on "home deconstruction" or "unbuilding" lately and am seriously looking for partners to turn this into an honest business undertaking. I have some of the planning experience necessary, certainly have the desire, am primarily lacking the upfront capital (not quite sure how much I need yet).

The opportunities for doing good, doing it responsibly and ecologically, while also making a fair (but not lavish) living just seem so apparent to me.

I agree with you. This is a fantastic opportunity. The History Channell show had profiled how discarded cars are essentially ground up in their entirety. This results in a bucket full of grey fluff. This has had major use in covering of smelly landfill material because it doesn't smell and seals in the smelly stuff. Another company was using a process to take the grey fluff to extract the metal and other usefull stuff from it.

The possibilities are endless with sifting and mining through americas trash bin.

Seems to me all the abandoned homes should become homeless shelters, as many are already full, especially in New England. But most will react like Scrooge: "What!? Are there no more work houses for the poor?!

It would likely prove pretty hard to get homeless people to stay in some abandoned exurban house.

Ever been homeless, shaman? I have, twice, for periods no longer than 4 weeks; furtunately, I was employed both times, young and living in a temperate climate during the summer. I can say from experience that any shelter is better than none.

Oh, far more than firewood. Most of that timber is perfectly good for other uses

timber?????? plastic & plywood for firewood?????

go look in your attic. Know what's behind that dry wall?

A dead mouse.

This already happens w/old buildings in large cities. In that book I was raving about yesterday ("Ruins" by Camillo Jose Vergara) they had a large picture of some workers putting bricks on pallets from an torn down old building in Detroit (looks like it paid decent in the 90's at 8 bucks an hour). Also that way old book 'Shelter' they have a little section on people who take apart old buildings. One guy had a whole slew of crowbars to take apart a house. Plus one older guy would take apart chicken coops and other old buildings in rural areas. Seems to me like a pretty safe job in the future if you pursue it.

Yes! I recently received a gift (that I requested) of a book called "Unbuilding" by Bob Falk and Brad Guy that is pretty much a "how to" for an unbuilding business. There is already a substantial market in reusable building and architectural materials. Check out http://www.buildingreuse.org.

Looked at the website its goin in my favorites. Man I learn so much from this site. I think I'll have to check out that book while I'm at it thanks.

One idea that's been rattling around in my head since this topic was discussed a while back, is the recovery of bricks and masonry. I was pondering whether you could design a gadget that would employ a super high pressure water jet to blast the mortar away, and have essentially new bricks. Lot of embedded energy (NatGas mostly) in bricks.

Oh, and good site -- I'm bookmarking it.

Reminds me of an Opinion piece Newt Gingrich did on NPR a year or so ago, asking us to rejoice in Walmart's success, because we were helping the poor families in China.

Put it in a blender, and it comes out so smooth!

(ie, from Groenig's Life in Hell, "When life gives you cr@p, make cr@pade!")


Good news if you want to dismantle a house for its raw materials.

(no this article is not autobiographical)

A Frozen Katrina
by Katrina vanden Heuvel


"Currently, eight million homes rely on heating oil during the winter months, and last winter’s prices forced too many citizens to choose between heat, food, and medicine."

"According to the New York Times, heating oil prices are now 36 percent higher than they were last winter and bills will be up to $1500 higher than they were last year. As for the 54 million households heating with natural gas, prices are expected to be 67 percent higher this winter."

Note my article posted above. Disgusting/telling that the only meaningful assistance for these people so far is from Hugo. The WSJ is highlighting conversion: Ditching Oil , Converting to Gas Only $4-8K and takes about half a year - if it's available in the first place.

Was interested to find there's a Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve.

Heating oil is often discussed but in the west propane (proposed new spelling: propain) is following the same price trajectory. NG is not available in many areas, so your choices are propane, electricity or wood. Wood is OK as long as you are there to stoke the fire to keep the pipes from freezing, but when it is very cold you don't have much choice.

I'm trying to decide what to do with my 23 year old propane forced air furnace. I'd really like to get out of the propane racket, but that means replacing my water heater with an electric one, and then switching to ????.

I already have a pellet stove for everyday heat, but for the very cold periods (up to -30F) and periods when no one is home to load the pellets, there just isn't much choice. Electric baseboard is the cheapest install option, but very inefficient. I was quoted $8000 for electric baseboard, $11000 for an electric boiler and baseboard hot water throughout the house, $15,000 for in floor electric water heat, plus cost of new floor coverings. Any electric option means upgrading the old, not up to current electrical code breaker box at a cost of over $1000 (long sad story there).

I'm not looking for a handout of anything but information. I can't believe I'm even considering electric heat, since that was always considered to be the ridiculous way to go, but I really don't see any alternative. I think long term that a boiler that can be solar or wood fired or heated electrically is the way to go. Constructive comments welcome.

Have a look at ceramic wood-burning stoves - the modern ones take a while to get up to full power, but will keep the house warm for a long time due to their high thermal mass and use fuel very efficiently with the oxygen in being measured:
Masonry stoves - acr scanline masonry stoves UK

To ensure that your pipes don't freeze, try heattape:
How To Install Heat Tape

I face pretty much the same conundrum. What was enlightening was using the fuel cost calculator at http://www.buildinggreen.com/calc/fuel_cost.cfm. Instead of just comparing the energy cost by fuel, it includes your technology choice, level of efficiency, and, importantly, delivery losses (which can be 1/3rd in a poorly insulated ducted system). Right now, delivered heat from my propane furnace (ducted system) costs me about $81/mmBTU with retail propane over $4.00/gal; electric baseboard heat (which is actually 100% efficient at the site--all the kWh turn into heat--but only 40% efficient at the source) would cost me $35/mmBTU for delivered heat at $.12/kWh. Neither is a preferred long-term answer, so I'm just sticking to the firebox as much as I can (and am thankful we don't have freezing weather).

Consider a cold-climate heat pump with resistance heating for the really, really cold days. Heat pumps in general have come a long way. I'm a happy user of the Sanyo mini-split heat pump I bought from Ductless Depot, which isn't a cold-climate one; my next one will be because once it gets close to freezing the heat emitted is not even room temperature -- no match for the heat loss of the house. This is an issue about a dozen days a year.

Hallowell is one manufacturer, and I believe I saw a link for one from Mitsubishi recently on the db.

The higher SEER units use some sophisticated electronics for low load running. I would STRONGLY suggest some surge protection for these units (one can get dual pole panel mounted protection). Perhaps two in series (a second one mounted as part of the disconnect).

I do not anticipate electrical quality improving.

Better safe than sorry,


If you have electricity (which is 100% efficient, when used as resistance heating), then why not go to a ground source heat pump, which produces more thermal energy than just the BTU equivalent of the electricity? That way, you would also have A/C for those hot summer days. And, you could feel good if you were able to use "green" electricity, if/when your utility offers it. Solar thermal is a good choice for hot water and is already cost competitive with electric for hot water. You also made no mention of solar heating for your house, with many possibilities available, starting with passive solar thru active systems.

E. Swanson

Ground source is great...but has high upfront costs. Low maintenance costs, though.

I think cold-climate heat pumps are going to be tough to beat. The Hallowell rep said that his compressors are easily replaceable with off-the-shelf ones...it's more a matter of how they hooked them up that makes the whole system more effective.

Given that ground source heat pumps are minimum $20k (perhaps lower if built when the house is being built), right now I would say they have stiff competition from the heat pumps.

$12000 is a lot of money. You should look into finding a way of making it through the winter in such a fashion that you don't need much heat at all.

For that kind of coin (especially since you'd have to then pay heating bills too!), you could build a 300sf cottage in your backyard, with either straw bale construction or 12" R-38 walls. Put R-76 in the roof and spend the winter there. You might not need to heat it at all!

Or, you could look into the "winter apartment" technique, basically find a way to separately superinsulate and heat a small part of your house, basically the kitchen and a small living room.

I am going on about this because it is stupid to spend $10K+ and get small marginal improvements. Instead, spend $2000 and get huge improvements that cut your heating fuel needs by 80%+.

Only a few months left before winter. It seems like lots of people are just going to cross their fingers or something.

Check out this $10,000 straw bale cottage design.


note: I don't think people understood that the photo of the strawbale wall is UNFINISHED. Normally, it would be covered with earthen plaster.

Yeah, I think folks need to scale down the expectation of centrally heated homes in an emergency. It's cheaper to pick a small room and internally modify it to keep the occupants warm. Think hot water bottles, not 40 gallon hot water heaters; passive solar, not total energy transformation of whole home. Think how it was done in 1938 not in 2002.
Frankly a good arctic-quality sleeping bag has got to be more affordable than tens of thousands of dollars worth of home improvements that may not be so reliable when other fuels also become scarce.

I don't understand why state and local governments direct heating aid to these households in the form of payments or vouchers. Why not spend money on home energy audits and insulation? Window replacements? Furnace modernization? Solar hot water? Storm doors? Programmable thermostats? Throwing money at the energy bill only feeds the flames.

My guess: because both poverty and high energy prices are seen as short-term problems. And many of the poor rent anyway, so upgrading their homes will be seen as a handout to the landlord who actually owns the place.

There are some charity groups that fix up homes to be more energy-efficient. Often these are targeted at senior citizens, who own their homes but are on fixed incomes.

I will grant you the landlord/renter dilemma, but still, seems our policies are systematically slanted in favor of landlords and similar "haves", so why not just give them the money to insulate/update/improve: win-win.

I think you'd need both.

I changed out my windows this year, replacing 40+ year old single pane aluminum crappy windows with double pane high efficiency jobs. Cost a bit.

My electric bill for A/C this year is higher than last year, because rates are higher (KW usage is down some)

I don't think insulating / repairing the properties will be enough, I think you'll still have folks (fixed income for one) sitting in the dark running the heater instead of paying for medicine.

As a landlord in Fairbanks (Alaska) I took a hard look at the alternatives several years ago when I was convinced oil prices would keep going up. I determined that improving insulation was not a solution that would work; I expected the cost of heating oil to rise faster than I could improve my properties. The only solution I saw was to convert to coal. Which I have been doing. Even with this approach I am still having severe financial problems; my heating bill from the remaining oil places has been rising faster than I've managed to convert. I'm hoping to make it over the hump this year, but I may not manage.

Landlords are not making out very well in Fairbanks at all. Even though I had the foresight to begin conversion well before prices got up this high, I'm still really staggering: last year my income was $4,000--on 6,000 hours of work! Being a landlord is NOT a good thing during energy crunch, when all your costs are rising a lot more rapidly than the rent. Alaska is in a lot of trouble in terms of energy; there are places in the state where fuel is $10 a gallon (due to the high cost of shipping)--and with the high heating requirements a lot of people (especially in the bush) aren't going to make it this winter.

i just had an energy audit done on one of my rentals and i dont see adding insulation as paying out in any reasonable time unless you assume ever increasing ng prices. i can save a lot by doing the work myself, at least in the attic. i dont even pay for heat.

as i see it, it will become more and more difficult to find renters who can pay the rent (on time) and pay for the heat also. landlording is a competetive business. renters, the smart ones at least, are aware of the cost of energy and how much it will add to their living expenses.

so i've decided to go ahead with installing additional insulation. i want to keep my properties competetive.

and with the high heating requirements a lot of people (especially in the bush) aren't going to make it this winter.

Can you say more about that? What do you mean by "in the bush?" What's their living situation like?

In the bush means (mostly) not on the road.

Which means everything is either barged or flown in. Current shipping is several dollars a pound for stuff flown in for small quantities (imagine all your groceries being weighed, and your being charged on a per pound basis!) Fuel (heating oil, gasoline, etc), even which shipped bulk by barge, doubles or triples in price by the time it arrives. In most villages fuel is over $6/gallon. This creates a real problem if you need 1,000 gallons of heating oil to stay warm in the winter! Airfare to the bush is getting extremely expensive too; most tickets have doubled or tripled in the last few years, making it very hard to get to town to buy those groceries. A lot of villages are loosing population because their population adopted a 'higher' standard of living, where they heat with heating oil and buy food; 50 years ago they heated with firewood and got the majority of their diet by hunting and fishing. Now it is proving too costly!

The problem with renters is one I know well. For years, I rented out rooms to people in my parents house, after they moved to smaller space. One reason was that I could share the utility cost with the renters. I've since moved and a few years ago, I acquired a single wide trailer to rent to a fellow living on fixed income (SS). The single wide has a heat pump and I also installed a wall mounted non-vented propane heater. I've also upgraded the thermostat to an electronic programmable unit, which gives the tenant the opportunity to choose different temperature settings at several time points during the day.

The 80x14 single wide is an energy guzzler, but I didn't pay much for it, so the rent is low and the tenant qualified for a HUD rent subsidy. I recently investigated the possibility of a "roof over" upgrade, only to find that the local building inspectors would not approve what I wanted to do. To pay the cost of the upgrade (more than $3,000 in materials alone), I would need to raise the tenant's rent, since I'm not a charity. But, the tenant has already been notified that his rent subsidy is going to be reduced next year.

The dilemma is that my tenant has trouble paying his expenses now, so how will he be able to cover the increase in rental charge, even though it's likely that the extra insulation will reduce his energy bills, perhaps offsetting the increase in rent? I have no say regarding his lifestyle, which includes a satellite TV dish, beer and cigarettes, as well as keeping the temperature inside warm enough for summer cloths during winter...

E. Swanson

These rinky-dink 10% savings type fixes are really insufficient. People need to find ways of reducing their heating usage by 80% or more.

I have already gone with the "winter apartment" idea. Our two huge (700sf and 1500sf) "living rooms" remain unheated in winter. The plumbing is insulated and heated with pipe heater tape (which really doesn't use much power).

For this year:

Add another layer of R-39 for R-78 total in the ceiling.
Make 50% of the windows "disappear" by filling them in with removable foam/foil insulation (R-10 and reflective).
Cover remaining windows with thermal curtains.
Paint the "winter apartment" areas with reflective thermal paint (looks like normal paint, reduces heating use by up to 30%)
Use "kotatsu desk" in the office area (otherwise unheated due to huge 12x9 windows)

Total cost: $700
Estimated savings over one winter: $600

Resulting cost of heating (all electric at $0.20/kwh) $140 per month or about $600 per winter.

Interesting comments, but off topic. My post was about the problem of renters and landlords, which is not what you describe.

Also, I think your cost data is way off as well. For example, the cost for R-19 insulation at the local Lowes store was $36.43 for 77.5 ft2. Just to cover the roof on the single wide would cost about $546. Now, double that for R-38 and you get a cost of more than $1000 just for the insulation. The last time I looked at the cost of 2" styrofoam (R-10), it was running about $24 a 4x8 ft sheet and I think the price has gone up lately. There's little to be saved by closing off a few rooms, as the walls between rooms are usually not insulated and thus have an R value of about 2, so the heat will still migrate thru to the outside. Besides, your largest "living room" is bigger by half again than the single wide with living area, kitchen, 3 BRs and 2 baths. Not that the FWO would even think of living in such cramped accommodations, for dog's sake...

E. Swanson

I'm only insulating my "winter apartment", which is about 450sf. That works out to about 6x$37=$222 by your math (I'm budgeting $350 for R-38).

Hey, you and your renter can figure out your own solution. My solution works and doesn't cost much.

Maybe you should invest $25,000 in a ground source heat pump to get a 20% savings! Har!

By the way, I'm renting. Considering that my payback period is one winter, it's not a problem. (Later, I'll get my landlord to pay half anyway.)

Here's the approximate budget:

$350 R-38 insulation 450 sf (could be a bit more)
$165 five 4x8 2" foam/foil panels @ $32 each.
$60 thermal paint two gallons
$40 bits and pieces including curtain rods etc

= $615

I see you let my comment about insulating walls slide by. With a 450 foot area of extra insulation, the wall area between the heated and unheated spaces won't be very large, but it's still going to be a location of continued heat loss. Thus, I think you projected savings may not be as large as you suggest. You might actually do an energy analysis, but that may be beyond your skill level.

One must also be very careful when adding insulation to windows, as any air leaking around the insulation will allow moisture to accumulate on the inside of the windows, from which it will drain to the bottom of the windows and on to the sills. That can cause damage to wood. Another similar problem you haven't addressed is that the temperature in the unheated areas may drop to the dew point, especially along the outside walls. When that happens, you will get condensation and mildew on the walls, which will make your land lord very unhappy...

E. Swanson

I find myself wondering what temperature these people set their thermostats at, whether they are wearing warm clothes when they crawl into bed, and whether they have a sweater on when they're at the dinner table.

I know that there are poor people who can't afford to heat their homes to 55F throughout the winter, but there are plenty who decide that they must set the temperature to 75F when it should be set to 65F!

I guess you're relatively young. Circulation is often one the first to go with age, and folks get cold. Plus, it's much harder to exercise or move sufficiently to stay warm. My motherinlaw was notorious for wearing a sweater throughout the summer, and yet she was quite active till her passing.

55 F during day. 47 F. night. Lots of polartec gets used. Hats are key.
Shoes with thick soles or liners are key.

You get used to it. A side benefit is nobody gets sick.

I think battery powered clothes will become popular, particularly for older people who have trouble regulating body temperature. A lot of motorcyclists use electric garments. They are pretty decent: carbon fiber filament resistance.

I agree that electrically heated clothing makes sense. I estimate you could keep warm for about $5 a month with that!


Part 2 of Jasons talk with David Holmgren and FutureScenarios.org
is up and David makes great arguments for my George Jetson/George of the Jungle combo future scenario (only after we get through the real ugly bottleneck part of course).

Reality Report: David Holmgren and FutureScenarios.org (Part 2)



There seems to be a lot of confused thinking in the article "Natural Gas: Clean Fuel with a Dirty Little Secret" linked in DB.

A major source of ‘hidden demand’ this year has been increased exports of natural gas to Mexico and Canada.
Exports to Canada have increased from 235,375 MCF (1.96 BCF/d) in the same period in 2007 to 385,752 (3.21 BCF/d) in 2008, an increase of 1.25 BCF/d.
In Canada, despite natural gas production declining by over .50 BCF/d so far in 2008, natural gas injections are expected to be 210-220 higher in 2008 versus 2007.
Essentially the U.S. is exporting natural gas to Canada to help them increase storage levels. Our models indicate that in 2008 Canada should be exporting .92 BCF/d less natural gas than in 2007, due to production declines and increased demand in Canada. This indicates that we are sending .33 BCF/d more natural gas to Canada than is needed to offset their reduction in potential exports. The ‘artificial demand’ of .33 BCF/d equals 50 BCF so far in 2008.
A total of 50 BCF has been given to Canada for storage and 97 BCF has been given to Mexico...

What they are talking about (I think) is that Canadian NG exports to the US are down - for whatever reasons. What I don't see is how this equates to the US "exporting" gas to Canada.

If I imported 2000 ping-pong balls from China last year and this year I import only 1000 ping-pong balls, I can't make the claim that I "exported" 1000 ping-pong balls to China. It's simply a false claim.

Also, "...50 BCF has been given to Canada..." is weird. Last time I checked, nobody was giving NG away.

It's hard to have any kind of intelligent conversation when language ceases to have normal meaning.

The author is simply defining where the NG went. If it hadn't gone to Canada and Mexico we'd have surplus here and hence... lower price. His point is the export levels aren't expected to continue and we'll have to absorb the production here. So... lower price is in our future.

AFIK, the US exports NG to Mexico and imports NG from Canada. There was (AFICT) no US NG that went to Canada.

If he is talking about lower imports from Canada, then that's what he should say.

I believe what happens is the the Canadian East coast imports while Alberta exports to the US. They are building LNG terminals in the East while turning nat gas into tar sands synthetic oil for export in the West.

The market is not oversupplied exactly, industrial users have been in long term decline. Every time the price goes up another chemical plant moves over seas. Eventually they will run out of users who can move, and then we can expect nat gas prices to spike like oil.

Oil refineries are a major user of NG in the USA. As a source of heat of course, but also for upgrading heavy, sour crude oil. This requires hydrogen to add to the molecules (to make diesel & gasoline), and to remove sulfur (the new ultra low sulfur diesel uses more H to remove S, hence more NG as the source of the H).

Less oil, more of it refined in oil exporters, will reduce this demand. But not that quickly.


I found the article very confusing. The numbers he presented didn't seem to add up. Even accepting his numbers, he seemed to still be unable to account for over a billion cf of gas, while he was trying to explain away the "missing" reserves. He referenced "record gas prices", but gas prices are down something like 40% from their high.

I found the article pretty amateurish especially the fact that he kept referring to "our research" confirming his opines implying that a team of experts was working on this. His prognostications on LNG were way off base predicting that we would soon start raising our imports of it. That's a real laugher considering the LNG market is over 2x the price of natty in the U.S. We are a junk yard dog surplus market for LNG as most LNG is being priced on a energy equivalence basis with crude oil. In fact the best thing the U.S. producers could do now to appreciate their stocks would be to announce they are building an LNG export terminal to begin selling the stuff into international market thus possibly eliminating the large domestic discount to the international LNG market.

New CNN Article:

Hurdles remain for GM's pioneering electric car

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan (AP) -- Early versions of the Chevrolet Volt's battery packs are powerful enough to run the high-stakes rechargeable car, but dozens of issues remain before General Motors Corp. can start selling the revolutionary vehicle in 2010 as planned.

The Volt's chief engineer is on a tight schedule to figure out how the car will handle the batteries' weight, dissipate their heat and mechanically transfer their power to the wheels.

That's not to mention the list of issues that have nothing to do with the fact that the car plugs in to the wall for recharging.

I was just reading that. "Batteries will cost $10,000 to replace." And that's before inflation...

The EV-1 has already been designed and manufactured. Why in the world is it taking GM so long to put out a PHEV?

Is it because they need to integrate liquid fossil fuels into the design?

Bring back the EV-1!!!

The volt is to the EV-1 what the Shuttle is to the Apollo. Two totally different animals. I give them credit, the Volt is mighty fine engineering. The Lithium Ion they are developing has an amazing energy density and light weight.

Both Sides Now.

From GM

The Volt, Farah said, can keep people mobile with only the adjustment of having to plug in a car at night.

"It's an opportunity to change the way we consume energy without significantly changing our lifestyle," he said

as opposed to Carter's ideas in the toplink:

Past and Present: 'Malaise' and the Energy Crisis

Consumerism provided people with false happiness, he suggested, but it also prevented Americans from re-examining their lives in order to confront the profound challenge the energy crisis elicited.

Edit to blockquote

Edrive is advertizing a Prius upgrade to plug-in for $12,000. Given $22,000 for a new Prius, you can have a PHEV for only $34,000 NOW!

How many miles of EV driving before the gasoline engine kicks in?
What is the max speed in the EV mode?

Actually, there are several companies offering Prius upgrades which puts the machine up to the 100 mpg level. My point is where was GM 9 years ago and why are they getting so much press coverage now and how many recalls of the Volt are going to be necessary before it's a viable car (if ever at $45,000+ and rising). I call it Revolting.

At $40,000, it's more toy than tool.

Hopefully they will make a lesser version (perhaps without the leather seats and power windows) for us poor working folks.

This is the company that is still running Caddy commercials showing how sexy "powerful" cars can be. "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?" (wink, wink, nudge nudge)

A huge portion of that $40,000 is tied up in the cost of the battery pack. You could strip it down to the bare frame, and it won't be a whole lot cheaper. There was talk of offering a smaller battery pack with a shorter all-electric range to save money.

Got an electric car? "May eagles gouge your eyes out!"

This advert for a Nissan-Renault electric car, aired in Israel, has incensed the Saudi population.

wow, that doesn't seem likely to ease religious and ethnic tensions in the Middle-East...

To quote from the Book of Cheney:


Past and Present: Malaise and the energy crisis

Carter was unwilling to pander to the people. He said instead, let us examine our way of life with its "self-indulgence." He refused to place all the blame on government and turned some of it back to the people.

And what a price he paid, a price for telling the truth that neither McCain or Obama are willing to pay.

Many years ago I had ceased to be a stranger to the phenomenon of people's resistance to facts. I had learned that the facts do not speak for themselves. If the facts happen to run counter to people's deeply ingrained prejudices or interests or emotional commitments, then so much the worse for the facts.--Daniel Yankelovich

I was young when Carter spoke those words.Now an adult,I see their truth and wisdom.

Were that we lucky enough to have a President as wise as him for the Phase-change our society is faceing.

Yes I know he had flaws.. every leader does.But what replaced him started us on a incredibly dark path that ends in a bad place.

We are living in what the Chinese would refer to as a "interesting time". The next 20 years will be unlike any before.I now understand how a educated Roman citizen must have felt when he knew the empire was dying.

How an educated Roman citizen must have felt when he knew the Empire was dying.

I remember when Emperor Raygun took control of the helm of the Starwish cruiser, American Enterprise and commanded Scotty to fire up the trickle down impulse engines.

Those were glorious times.

We were headed straight for the Shining City Nebula and the glory of the Free Markets Galaxy. All we had to do was utter magic words: Admiral Gorbachev, tear down your deflector shields! Those words shook and moved the Universe.

If only our new emperor, the mighty Calligulus Bush Jr. understood and speechified in the same way then surely our Empire would rise again. Mr. Putin, tear out your tanks from that there Georgia place (wherever that might be)! I, the great Calligulus Bush Jr. have spoken.

Carter was right to suggest that the energy crisis of 1979 had to do with our moral shortcomings—our culture's penchant for selfish individualism and its desire to live without limits or a sense of a public good. Those are not bad lessons to heed today, as we think about our current energy crisis. After all, we should have readied ourselves during the go-go 1990s for the problems we face at the gas pumps now instead of rushing out to purchase SUVs and Hummers in record numbers.

Capitalism needs its people to be rabid consumers, and selfish individualists are the best people at behaving like this.

Just look at the boom in house prices up until 2006. Great for individual gain on the way up, terrible for society on the way down. As we are about to see.

Higher inflation brings lower standard of living

By holding interest rates at less than half the inflation rate, the Fed is focused on stabilizing the financial system. The hope is that the ongoing slowdown in the economy will eventually take the pressure off demand for commodities like food and energy – and inflation will subside.

...A lot depends on whether consumers and investors view prices hikes as a temporary, one-time event – or whether they begin to assume inflation will remain high. If that happens, investors demand higher interest rates to make up for inflation’s corrosive impact on their investments. In the 1970s, consumers responded to persistent inflation by demanding higher wages. So far, that isn’t happening.

“There remains no evidence sign that wage inflation is responding,” wrote Global Insight economist Nigel Gault in a recent note to clients. “When workers see higher prices now, they do not expect a wage hike but rather a drop in their standard of living.”

One effect of union busting, for sure. Workers with zero leverage. I know, in wage / price spirals no-one wins, but in inflation environemnts where wage-earners have zero leverage, who is it then who DOES win?

Sort of like the effect of wealth in a collapsing society.As described in the book 'Collapse'You are simply the last to starve.

Read the "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein to see who wins when wage earners have no leverage.

Shock Doctrine is an excellent book, but I couldn't find any discussion of Peak Oil in it. Letting the ecological disasters happen because the solutions are decentralized (and don't promote capitalist greed) is the ultimate in "Disaster Capitalism." However, since Peak Oil and overshoot are largely taboo topics on the "left" I guess it is understandable that it's not a focus of a book on how the wealthiest of the elite manipulate tragedy for their benefit.

There is a method to their madness, and the fact that some elite planners have known about Peak Oil and Climate Change for decades is at the core of understanding the crisis.

It seems that in classical market theory, it was believed (but not discussed in polite society) that when inflation struck, the solution was to let prices rise while denying complementary wage increases, until consumption collapsed. Then the bosses would cut wages and prices until the economy restarted. Why would the economy restart? Presumably because the workers had no choice but to spend again because they (and the whole economy) relied on daily necessities: flour, clothing, cooking utensils. There was no durable goods sector, and high-ticket items were not significant to the economy. So by hook or by crook or by selling your kids to Fagin, you would have to start spending again and the bosses would try to hold onto that pay cut as long as they could.

However, once the economy was driven by big-ticket items, the model fell apart. Big chunks of consumption could be deferred while people struggled to pay off their debts from the last binge of house and car purchases. Thus while 19th century depressions were quick, the one after WW1 lasted several years and then came the Great Depression. It has also been noted that unions already had enough leverage by 1929 to hold the line on wages, so price cuts were more difficult.

(to makup a budget shortfall in road repair caused by reduced gasoline tax...) Transportation Secretary Mary Peters proposed a short-term solution of borrowing money from mass transit funding.

Is this person even sane?

Minnesota raised their gas tax after the bridge collapse. Other states will follow. Meaning, they'll wait until they have their own bridge collapse before raising the gas tax. Note that the gas tax (in most US states) is a fixed amount per gallon, i.e., as a percentage of the cost of fuel it has fallen over the years, even as the cost of road maintenance has grown along with the price of oil.

Why is it that I don't remember reading 200 billion dollar price tags to clean up Lead - what used to be the heavy metal of choice for shooting at targets?


"The DoD, the nation's biggest polluter, is now cleaning up 29,500 currently or formerly contaminated sites in every state and territory. California alone has 3,912 contaminated sites on 441 current and former DoD installations. Many of DoD's facilities have already contaminated groundwater sources of drinking water.... The cost to clean up toxic munitions contamination and unexploded ordnance at active and former military installations around the country may reach $200 billion." - The National Resources Defense Council, April 21, 2004.

And why isn't this cost of clean up just seen as a way to get Uranium for breeders, as posters on TOD claim as a value?

eric blair -

As one who has spent most of his working life in the environmental consulting field, I can certainly vouch that some of the worst and most costly environmental clean-up projects have been at large DoD installations.

Having said that, I should also point out that only a relatively few of these (the Hanford, WA facility being a notorious exception) have anything to do with radiological pollution. Most of the site contamination problems at DoD installations are quite similar to those encountered with large industrial facilities during the pre-environmental era.

One of the main reasons for the serious site contamination problems at DoD installations is that until the last several decades such installations were de facto kingdoms onto themselves that were subject to few, if any enforced environmental regulations. Back in the day, the base commander could literally do almost anything he wanted regarding s air emissions, wastewater discharge, and on-site hazardous waste disposal. Hence, there were decades of large-scale, irresponsible and hapzard disposal of all sorts of chemicals (many of which were comprised of spent solvents, just as with industry), fuel-related wastes, and spent munitions.

While the DoD had made quite a mess of its own backyard, most of the problem had little to do with radioactive materials.Nevertheless, there is no doubt that if one does dispose of radioactive material in an irresponsible manner, then the resultant problems can be magnified many fold over conventional hazardous wastes.

have anything to do with radiological pollution.

Hence *MY* comment on the heavy metal nature of Uranium.

The radiation of natural or depleted Uranium is a concern - but the effects of the heavy metal will effect DNA, just like energenic interactions of nuclear masses can.

Uranium metal has been reported to be both a cytotoxic and a genotoxic agent.

Definitions of Cytotoxic on the Web:

* An agent that is toxic to certain organs, tissues, or cells.

Definitions of genotoxic on the Web:

* Damaging to DNA; pertaining to agents known to damage DNA.

( http://www.cadu.org.uk/action/tooth_project.htm This contamination represents a public health concern because uranium is known to be a mutagen, a carcinogen, a teratogen, a neurotoxin and a kidney toxin.)

Definitions of Teratogen on the Web:

* A substance or agent, exposure to which by a pregnant female can result in malformations in the fetus.

Hence *MY* comment on the heavy metal nature of Uranium.

The radiation of natural or depleted Uranium is a concern - but the effects of the heavy metal will effect DNA, just like energenic interactions of nuclear masses can.

And its pure nuclear exceptionalism to fret about uranium when lead is a far more prevalent toxic heavy metal. Beryllium is ferouciously toxic, far more so than uranium, and yet we consider it useful and valuable enough to use in speakers, disk brakes, and other household appliances. Worries about uranium is a case of misplaced priorities.

Last I checked humans are not introducing Beryllium into the biosphere as a fine dust.

(I only say human because the sun hates us and tosses the stuff out way)

When you pump plutonium into the groundwater (like in Fernald, OH) a process is set into motion that can't be undone, on a trajectory that can't be predicted. I hope you're right, but our current cleanup costs may not be a good predictor of the future.
Gimme good ole dioxin any day, because I know it'll be gone in a millenium or two, a mere blink of the eye compared to the residence time of Pu in the environment.

At least Dioxin has a chance of being 'reduced'. The 'reduction' time on U is a long time and just gets you lead (another heavy metal so its not an overall improvement.)

Gimme good ole dioxin any day, because I know it'll be gone in a millenium or two, a mere blink of the eye compared to the residence time of Pu in the environment.

What difference does it make if its toxic for a 1000 years or forever? The difference is biomobility, which plutonium doesnt have a lot of, and unlike dioxins we dont dump it into the environment unless we're engaging in nuclear war; Frankly if we're doing that we've got bigger problems to worry about than plutonium toxicity.

Here in Orlando we managed to build a school and neighborhood near what was the 'Pinecastle Jeep Bombing Range'.


They've pulled out of the ground everything in the past few months from live ordinance (mostly exploded nearby) to a whole armored vehicle. People who bought homes there, of course, are screwed.

Very similar to what happened at Love Canal (which contained only all sorts of neat contaminants without the added excitement of unexploded ordnance)except I think they built the school and homes right on top of the disposal trenches in Niagara Falls.

I think they first started catching on to the problem at Love Canal when some "interesting" looking leachate began seeping into a school and homes in the neighborhood.

Some people seem much more concerned about the dangers of depleted uranium and its clean up than is warranted by experience. Consider these three facts:
1. Uranium occurs naturally and so we all have a small amount of uranium in our bodies, about 90 micrograms for a 70 kilogram individual. (http://physics.isu.edu/radinf/natural.htm). This amount is equivalent to about 30,000 (5 micron) sized particles of uranium, just like the particles we are not supposed to breath.
2. The natural abundance of uranium varies with location, so we should expect people in places like Colorado to have more than 90 micrograms while people in places like Florida would have less. Do we see that people in Colorado are less healthy than people in Florida? Not really, actually they may be healthier.
3. Your typical large coal-fired power plant burns over 3 million tons of coal a year. Since coal has about 1 part per million uranium, that means that about 3 tons of uranium is released by one coal power plant every year. If you live near a coal power plant, then your uranium exposure is probably higher than that of the average Iraqi. Why should we spend billions cleaning up some foreign or domestic desert when we have as much of a uranium "problem" in our own backyards? Maybe the uranium issue is not as pressing as some other issues, like making sure everyone stays warm and adequately fed?

Do we see that people in Colorado are less healthy than people in Florida? Not really, actually they may be healthier.

Glad to encounter another radiation hormesis fan!

More here:


and here:


Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future

This article should make some regulars on TOD very happy :)

I hope for streetcars, but oil dumping again today. If oil dumps now -- as Russian tanks target oil pipelines -- I can't imagine how low the price will go when conservation methods ramp up, and the Russian bear calms down.
We could see $40 before we see $140.

Closed at $115 today. That's $75 above $40 but only $25 below $140. And still about $15 above the 12 months average (which therefore is still increasing). 12 month average sat at $65 for over a year prior to the current run-up. You're just fantasising what you want to see.

It's the %s, not the 'moving target' $s.

Millie:Lets use your reasoning about oil price and
where you arrive at it going to be $40.00 soon.
I will use your reasoning, only housing will be substituted for oil.
In 1958 (50 yrs ago) A house in America (mean) cost
approx $17,000.00. In the year 2006 the mean cost was
Today the mean house cost is $200,000.00
So in the past two years the mean cost has fallen 15%
And using your reasoning....we should see $17,000.00
homes any day now!
Millie...just change the 50 years on the houses to 50
months for the price of oil.
Do you see how absurd your reasoning is?
Are you for real or do the mod's on this site pull you
out for the entertainment of patrons here on TOD?
Dont get me wrong Millie...I get a chuckle from sock
puppets as much or more then the next guy.

Actually, I think housing is a terrible analogy for the oil market, but...houses today in Detroit and large parts of the Midwest can be had for free, or nearly so.
Supply and demand.
Demand is falling for oil in developed nations, and consumers have not yet had a chance to buy higher mpg cars in numbers they would like. And even higher mpg models are coming. 70 percent of oil demand is transportation. Look for continuous declines in demand from developed nations.
Imagine this small change: Americans drive 10 percent fewer miles, in cars that use 90 percent as much gasoline per mile. You get a greater than 20 percent decline in demand, with barely discernible changes in living standards.
A 20 percent decline is US gasoline demand would crush oil prices. At $4 a gallon, we may be headed that way. The problem is, well before we actually get to 20 percent decline in demand, prices collapse, and we go back to our old ways.
For now, world liquid fuel production is hitting fresh all-time records -- no peak yet, but demand is wavering. We may have seen Peak Demand well before Peak Oil.
Yeah, we might see $40 a barrel again. If the Russian threat to seize a key pipeline doesn't jack up oil prices, what will?

Millie: So houses in America are at a mean price of
First you didnt like my comparison...then you try and
validate with rhetorical gymnastics and a weak argument that some homes are free...hahahaha

Nephilim<-------Holding up a placard with a "10" on it
for watching you stick that landing.

Millie...using less of something thats diminishing is
all well and good...untill its gone.
Ive nursed a "neat" (no ice) tumbler of Scotch in my day and yet...always reached the bottom of the tumbler.
Ive also noticed that drinking Scotch makes one thirsty for ....more Scotch.The whole idea about peak
oil is,things are gonna change drastically.But according to you things are gonna drastically change
without peak oil.
Millie,Iam going to start a P.O. awareness org for you
I will use AA...or Alcoholics Anonymous as the model.

Hello everyone,my name is Millard and Iam a P.O.
denier.Ive been a P.O.denier for some time. I wish
to thank my sponsors for bringing me too TOD.
I hope ...with your help..to be set free of this
intoxicating yet ruinous path Ive.....lol

I'm a daily reader here. I also keep up with Robert Rapier's

I remember when Millard first started writing here. I also remember not so far back, a poster named Benny Cole who was banned here - and still posts at RR's.

Call me crazy, but I think they are
one and the same.

I did steal that Peak Demand idea from Benny.

Peak demand? Surely you jest? Have you any idea how many Chinese and Indians would like to own their own automobiles?

If Tata Motors manages to build the Nano for a price that is affordable to the average 3rd world family, you will see demand for gasoline sky-rocket. The average American may not be able to afford a $100 fill-up of his $30,000, 20 mpg "cross-over" that he pays $1000 a year to insure and another $3-$4k to maintain. But you can be damned sure that an extended Indian or Chinese familly will be able to afford a share in a $3,000 car. And they will...

Bottom Line: the Eloi may see $40 oil. You will not.

You know, I try not to engage in personal attacks (a ribbing is not a personal attack in my book) but I have to say that you seem to lack even a basic understanding of macroeconomics. Have you ever seen a supply and demand curve? Do you understand that as the price for a commodity falls -- as in say, from $115 to $40 -- that demand generally increases?

The demand schedule, depicted graphically as the demand curve, represents the amount of goods that buyers are willing and able to purchase at various prices, assuming all other non-price factors remain the same. The demand curve is almost always represented as downwards-sloping, meaning that as price decreases, consumers will buy more of the good.

Now, do you know what happens when buyers demand more of a good? They compete for that good. And when they compete for that good, they drive up the price of that good (assuming supply is constant).

Just what the hell do you think is going to support a $40 price for oil? Do you think the average car owner -- American or otherwise -- is going to buy a $40,000 battery powered shoe box to drive if gasoline falls back into the $1.50 a gallon range? If you do, you are either a moron or your name is Michael Lynch (which doesn't rule out your being a moron).

Re: Farmers on cutting edge of energy. Up top.

The turbines pictured in the article look to be the same model Vestas turbines FPL is using for about half of its Crystal Lake wind farm.

Trimont, Minnesota is about 75 miles northwest of Crystal Lake, Iowa, but if pictures were taken locally they would differ little from those in the article. Perhaps a few more hills with turbines on them.

It seems to me that the Minnesota-Iowa area is far ahead of the rest of the country in dealing with the energy situation. Ethanol plants abound. Biodiesel is widely used in farm machinery as well as produced locally. New E85 pumps are opening up regularly. I now have a choice of four of them.

Heating with wood and corn stoves is common. LP gas heat is in decline due to its high cost and people are switching to electricity as a back up for corn and wood stoves. I have ditched my LP backup and will be using electricity this winter hopefully coming from the new FPL wind farm at Crystal Lake.

An oil free economy is within sight, but it's not here yet.

BushCo: White Knight to f3...Putin, your move.

Poland, U.S. sign missile shield deal

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish and U.S. negotiators signed a deal on Thursday to host parts of Washington's global missile shield system in the European Union's biggest ex-communist member.

The deal was signed by deputy Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and U.S. chief negotiator John Rood, a Reuters reporter present at the signing ceremony said.

BushCo: White Knight to f3...Putin, your move.

Meanwhile, as the "leaders" of the great powers play games, the clock is ticking.

"We have crossed the Rubicon," Tusk said just before the deal was signed.
I think I read that book.

Yep, I think we have moved a step closer to the Matt Savinar/Jay Hanson predictive model of the fast-crash, build your bomb-shelter now action plan:

[August 15, 2008] Poland Spring

Russia's invasion of Georgia seems to have concentrated the minds of at least some politicians in Europe. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced Thursday that his country had agreed to host 10 American missile-defense interceptors. The agreement comes along with an enhanced promise of mutual defense between the U.S. and Poland...

..."It is no good when assistance comes to dead people," Mr. Tusk said, as far too many Georgians have learned. NATO, he feared, would take "days, weeks" to mobilize a response to aggression against Poland...

...Ten missile interceptors are no deterrent to the Russian nuclear stockpile....
I like the strong dose of realism in the last sentence above.

White Knight to f3...?

Actually BushBoy is playing with "Dark Knight" pieces.
PutinMan is deploying the Caspian oil gambit.
Oh that evil villain with his deceptive soulful blue eyes. Shouldn't have stared directly into them.
Time to retreat to the BushCave and find new technologies on them there internets.
In the mean time, advance Rice pawn one diplomatic square forward. That should hold off PutinMan's axis-of-evil gambit. Ha.

Russia blocks Azeri oil tanker in Poti - Azeri firm

BAKU, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Russian warships have prevented a tanker with Azeri refined products from leaving the Georgian port of Poti on Wednesday, the head of Azeri state oil firm Socar Rovnag Abdullayev told Azeri state television.

Russia's General Staff has said it is not blocking oil traffic in the region despite a military conflict with Georgia.

US Traffic Death Rate fell in 2007

It will be interesting to see the 2008 numbers, in light of fewer VMT (at least so far this year)

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. highway death rate fell last year to the lowest since recordkeeping began in 1975 as automakers built safer cars and motorists started cutting back on driving.

Traffic fatalities dropped to 1.37 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said today. The death toll decreased 4 percent to 41,059, the lowest since 1994. Fatalities still rose for motorcycle riders.

Senators say US report on oil prices is flawed

WASHINGTON: Four Democratic senators on Thursday asked for an investigation into a U.S. government report on oil prices that the lawmakers said was based on flawed information.

In a letter to the inspector general of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the senators criticized an interim study released last month that said fundamental supply-and-demand factors were to blame for the recent run-up in oil prices. The senators said the study, which played down the role of speculation, was based on inaccurate data.

They also questioned the timing of its release.The report was issued a few days before the Senate voted not to move forward on legislation that would have required the commission to set limits on trading in oil markets by investors and speculators.

"The report, which specifically addressed speculation, appears to have been created and released to influence that Senate vote, which would be highly improper, in our view," wrote Sens. Ron Wyden, Byron Dorgan, Maria Cantwell and Bill Nelson.


This is what happens when you forget to ask what the expected outcome of your report is supposed to be.

I'm sure if they look hard enough they can find data that fits the theory.

Dang, things are heating up.
Is the USA thinking about marching thru Georgia?!


Georgian television reporter Tamara Urushadze was shot in the arm today while reporting on live television. Unbelievably she tries to continue her report as colleagues bandage her up. In the dramatic footage she says that her arm had been grazed by a sniper bullet.

Hello TODers,

As posted before: I am finding it increasingly difficult to find key strategic sulfur info as these reports move behind paywalls. But I still find a few every now and then:

Cochilco: Acid prices in Q2 as high as US$360/t - Chile

...The acid shortage in the Southern Cone nation is growing along with the country's copper output since its primary use in Chile is in red metal production, which means that until at least 2015 Cochilco does not expect sulfuric acid prices to diminish greatly, Pérez added.

...The Cochilco official said the copper sector could face further cost pressure if red metal prices decline materially because acid prices are not tightly linked to base metals prices, as is the case with many other mining inputs.

Global acid demand is mostly related to the food industry as it is used in fertilizer production, an area that in 2005 accounted for 60.0% of the world's consumption compared to the 9.2% used in mining and 30.8% in the chemical industry, according to Pérez.
TODer Memmel has previously discussed how sour crude requires lots of natgas for the refinery process, and extracting the sulfur is an expensive additional step [but less energy intensive than mining ores of sulfur]. The Haber-Bosch Process is a natgas driven process too--> 33.5 MMBtu per ton of [N] raw anhydrous ammonia, even more energy for the other consolidated I-NPK products.

Recall my earlier posting on five gallons of energy-embedded gasoline equivalent in a bag of highly concentrated I-NPK [Flock,et al]. Sulfur is key for the chem-activation of phosphate ores, and is widely used in many of the hundreds of different custom-blended inorganic fertilizers now available for precision topsoil addition. Any postPeak reduction in sour natgas will have a large effect upon sulfur & I-NPK pricing going forward.

UPDATE 2-Cameco profit sags; Cigar Lake delays seen

...The troubles at Cigar Lake have pulled Cameco's shares lower, but have also driven uranium prices higher due to the delays in bringing the supply to a tight market...

...As well, the ramp-up of Cameco's Inkai mine in Kazakhstan has been hurt by a shortage of sulphuric acid in the region. Cameco said continued shortages would halve expected output from Inkai for the year to 1 million pounds...
Unless we massively ramp O-NPK recycling: I would guess the aggregate global demand for natgas and sulfur to make I-NPK products just totally dwarfs the demand for secondary industrial uses; I-NPK companies can easily outbid, if required, the other industrial users for these keyinputs. People will gladly sit in the dark if it helps keep the food coming to their table. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Bob, if you'd like to know how to make your text look like the below, respond below. It takes a little more time, but is worth it for your readers.

Hello TODers,

As posted before: I am finding it increasingly difficult to find key strategic sulfur info as these reports move behind paywalls. But I still find a few every now and then:
Cochilco: Acid prices in Q2 as high as US$360/t - Chile

...The acid shortage in the Southern Cone nation is growing along with the country's copper output since its primary use in Chile is in red metal production, which means that until at least 2015 Cochilco does not expect sulfuric acid prices to diminish greatly, Pérez added.

...The Cochilco official said the copper sector could face further cost pressure if red metal prices decline materially because acid prices are not tightly linked to base metals prices, as is the case with many other mining inputs.

Global acid demand is mostly related to the food industry as it is used in fertilizer production, an area that in 2005 accounted for 60.0% of the world's consumption compared to the 9.2% used in mining and 30.8% in the chemical industry, according to Pérez.

TODer Memmel has previously discussed how sour crude requires lots of natgas for the refinery process, and extracting the sulfur is an expensive additional step [but less energy intensive than mining ores of sulfur]. The Haber-Bosch Process is a natgas driven process too--> 33.5 MMBtu per ton of [N] raw anhydrous ammonia, even more energy for the other consolidated I-NPK products.

Recall my earlier posting on five gallons of energy-embedded gasoline equivalent in a bag of highly concentrated I-NPK [Flock,et al]. Sulfur is key for the chem-activation of phosphate ores, and is widely used in many of the hundreds of different custom-blended inorganic fertilizers now available for precision topsoil addition. Any postPeak reduction in sour natgas will have a large effect upon sulfur & I-NPK pricing going forward.

UPDATE 2-Cameco profit sags; Cigar Lake delays seen

...The troubles at Cigar Lake have pulled Cameco's shares lower, but have also driven uranium prices higher due to the delays in bringing the supply to a tight market...

...As well, the ramp-up of Cameco's Inkai mine in Kazakhstan has been hurt by a shortage of sulphuric acid in the region. Cameco said continued shortages would halve expected output from Inkai for the year to 1 million pounds...

Unless we massively ramp O-NPK recycling: I would guess the aggregate global demand for natgas and sulfur to make I-NPK products just totally dwarfs the demand for secondary industrial uses; I-NPK companies can easily outbid, if required, the other industrial users for these keyinputs. People will gladly sit in the dark if it helps keep the food coming to their table. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Hello TODers,

Breaking News: I think POT and its global customers are increasingly concerned on sour natgas and sulfur pricing driving up phosphate:

[August 13, 2008] Indian Phosphoric Acid Contract Settled

Contracts for supply of phosphoric acid in the third quarter of 2008 have reportedly been settled between North African supplier OCP and Indian buyers at $2310/P2O5 tonne on a CFR basis. This price is up $325/P2O5 tonne from $1985/P2O5 tonne on a CFR basis in the second quarter of 2008.

Source: Fertecon, FMB
The rocket ride into the Overshoot-o-sphere continues....

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

For a phosphoric acid comparison to crude oil for India:

1 ton of crude oil = approx. 7.3 barrels of crude oil (assuming a specific gravity of 33 API) = 6.6- 8.0 bbl. of crude oil with 7.333 bbl.
taken as average = 1.16 kl. of crude oil (average).
$2310 divided by 7.333 = $315/bbl crude equivalent of phosphoric acid. IMO, this remarkable quarterly increase of $325/ton should be a pretty good leading indicator that FF's prices need to rise soon to quash demand. Time will tell.