API Energy IQ Game and Blogger Call

In this post, I will talk about American Petroleum Institute's new Energy IQ Game and a related bloggers call, which Nate Hagens, Robert Rapier, and I participated in.

Last year, the American Petroleum institute (API) developed an Energy IQ Survey. This year, they revised it slightly and made it into a game. You can play, by clicking on this link:

Energy IQ Game

The audio tape and the transcript for the API bloggers call can be accessed here.

Energy IQ Questions

A few warnings for those playing the game: The Energy IQ questions are a little tricky. When they ask about what projections are for the future, they are asking what the US Energy Information Administration is forecasting. When they talk about offshore oil estimates, they are talking about the estimates made by US Minerals Management Services. When they talk about reserves by company or country, they are talking about the published reserves, regardless of how bogus the numbers look. (This is a link to a post I did about the bogus reserve issue.)

It is fairly clear that the questions were chosen to make the points that API wants to make. API would like to point out that the profits the oil industry is making aren't out of line with the profits of other companies, and that the US companies are just small fry, compared with the National Oil Companies. They would also like to point out that a fair amount of our oil comes from North America, and that oil will be needed for quite a long time, because renewables are not likely to scale up very quickly.

Many people are not aware of what a small a percentage renewables are of US energy use now. This is a graphic from the United States Energy Information Administration in this regard:

The left circle is energy consumption; the right circle is energy production. The two big sources of renewable fuels are hydroelectric and biomass (generally wood, used for heating). In this graph, biofuels make up about 10% of renewables. If renewables are 7% of total consumption, this means biofuels are 0.70% (=7% x 10%) of energy consumption. Solar makes up 1% of renewables, and wind makes up 4% of renewables. Using the same calculation, solar makes up 0.07% of energy consumption and wind makes up 0.28% of energy consumption. Starting from this small base, it will be very difficult to increase the newer renewables sufficiently to make up for the expected future decline in oil production.

A full list of this year's questions and answers to API's Quiz can be found here. Last year, I wrote up an analysis of the questions and what points I thought the API was trying to make. That analysis can be found here.

Bloggers Call

There was an API bloggers phone call on July 15 to talk about the API Quiz and a variety of related issues. Robert Rapier, Nate Hagens, and I (Gail Tverberg) from The Oil Drum all participated, as well as several other bloggers from other sites. The API representatives were Jane Van Ryan, New Media Advisor, Moderator; Red Cavaney, President and CEO, API; and John Felmy, Chief Economist, API. Jim Hoskin was the speaker from Harris Interactive, who was the contractor on this project. The audio tape and transcript can be found here.

The discussion included several issues that might be of interest to TOD readers.

Near the beginning Robert Rapier asks a question related to renewable energy:

00:05:23 MR. RAPIER: Robert Rapier. I‟ve got a question about – there seems to be an amazing disconnect here regarding the renewable energy question. The EIA projects less than 10 percent will be supplied in 2030. So if one in 10 respondents chose this answer, which doesn‟t surprise me when the current administration is trying to mandate 36 billion gallons [of ethanol] by 2022. But that seems to be an amazing disconnect to me. Comments?

00:05:53 MR. CAVANEY: Having been in the sort of public-policy side of business for almost three decades, one of the things that you see is what I might call – and I‟m not trying to be derisive here – but the flavor of the month. Oftentimes, when there are attractive alternatives that are set forth to address a meddlesome problem, they get very, very rapidly embraced. There‟s a great deal of fanfare and the public only catches a mere smattering of it. But because it gets a disproportionate amount of the news and the reporting and mention, it tends to float up.

As little ago as like six years, early in the Bush administration, the flavor du jour, if you will, you know, was the whole issue of fuel cells and how – you might recall there were the hydrogen highways that were being promoted in California and a lot of things like that. And what we see, again, is, over time, you get a cooling effect as people realistically begin to understand that these may be viable, but they‟re not going to come on tomorrow and it‟s going to take time.

And so it wouldn‟t surprise me for us to see somewhat the same kind of trend here on this particular matter that you‟ve raised. So to us, it doesn‟t come as a startling finding. It‟s just something that we‟ve learned to encounter.

Doug Lambert from GraniteCrok.com asked about oil and gas leases that expire without being used. There is a fairly long discussion of the question, starting at 7:17 Red Cavaney talks about how most of the leased properties turn out not to have commercial quantities of hydrocarbons. He also talks about some of the steps that make the process take so long. John Felmy says that what an oil company is buying is a "pig in a poke". Readers may find this section interesting. I did not try to quote it here, because of its length.

At 41:03, I ask about the low crack spread on gasoline, and the financial difficulties that this is causing independent producers. John Felmy's response was that this was being caused by a greater demand for diesel.

At 44:02, Nate asks about the impact of a deterioration of banking of industry would have on exploration and production for the oil and gas industry. He doesn't get very much of an answer, other than the same line of credit will buy a lot less oil if the price per barrel is higher, and that API is looking at the situation.

A little later, Geoff Styles of Energy Outlook asks a question related to the misperception people have of the timing of renewable energy.

00:49:05 MR. STYLES: But can I just add an interjection here? And, you know, I‟m not of a conspiratorial mindset at all, but I think that this issue is more significant because it relates to some of the misunderstanding that the surveys show about people‟s expectations about how quickly renewable energy is going to ramp up. Because when you combine these two issues, the time lags to bring on oil from areas that are currently off-limits, whether it‟s ANWR or other parts of the offshore or whatever, when you overlay that with an expectation that within 10 to 15 years, we‟re going to be getting most of our energy from renewables anyway, it creates this sense among, I think legislators and the public, that it essentially means we don‟t need this oil. It‟s game over for the oil business. We‟re on the threshold of the next big thing. You‟re just too late with this.

00:50:00 MR. CAVANEY: No, let‟s – I know that some people have that feeling. But let‟s just – there are some retorts that you can come back on that. To bring almost all of those alternative energy sources on, they‟re going to encounter some of the very same permitting problems and not-in-my-backyard problems that you encounter in the oil business.

For example, if you‟re going to build wind farms, they‟re typically – first of all, they‟ve got to be permitted in remote areas, so they have to go through some of the same kind of problems that we do when we‟re out in remote areas. But equally as important, they‟ve got to get the energy from where it‟s produced to where it‟s going to be consumed, which means they need to get right-of-ways, first of all, granted. And then, they need to get the permits to go through that. So when we think of those alternative energies, we think of them like flipping a switch and it‟s on and it happens. But they‟re going to be on the same queue that we‟re in, going through permitting, having to go back out to the public, and also running into some of the problems with the capacity to produce the equipment and the material that is needed to get them from here to there.

The nuclear industry is seeing this in spades. And also, we‟re seeing that in many cases with some of the large utilities that are trying to do things, same kinds of issues we‟ve just talked about.

00:51:15 MR. FELMY: And if I could just add one thing, I think you‟re absolutely right, Geoff – I think it was Geoff – that the disconnect is really profound, because we hear constant discussions that we want to spend money on alternatives to help the gasoline market. Well, that‟s a huge disconnect because most of the alternatives they‟re talking about are electricity. We do not have a fleet of electric cars and we will not have a fleet of electric cars for a significant amount of time. And so, this whole argument is just a huge disconnect. And I share with you – I agree with you in terms of how can we bring this stuff on, and then Red‟s points in terms of infrastructure of any type are a challenge.

There are a fair number of other question on the tape that may be of interest as well.

Regarding my question, something seems to have been lost in the translation. I just checked the quiz, and that question no longer seems to be there. But the disconnect I referred to is that when the EIA testified on high oil prices in 2007, they said that they didn't foresee that cellulosic ethanol would scale to even a billion gallons by 2030. (I documented that here).

The public perception seems to be that we will be running primarily on alternative fuels by then, and I suggested that the current (and in my opinion, un-meetable) mandates are swaying the public into false perceptions on the issue. So there is a disconnect between the EIA and the Bush administration, but also between the EIA and the public.

Could you expand and clarify what the quiz meant by:

Between 2000-2005 US Oil&Gas Cos spent $75-100 BILLION
on alternative energy!!

What did they spend it on, and what do they have to show for it?


If you read the question carefully, it includes GTL and oil shale.

Between 2000-2005 US Oil&Gas Cos spent $75-100 BILLION
on alternative energy!!

As the poster above alluded to, a lot of money was spent (mostly in vain) on GTL. Oil companies have thrown lots of money at alternative energy, though. Shell and BP both have large solar divisions that absorbed a lot of that money. Shell has also spent a lot of money on shale. My former company, ConocoPhillips, has put a lot of money into various technologies - most notably green diesel.

What do they have to show for it? They are up against the same laws of chemistry, physics, and economics as everyone else. They, like many others, have confirmed that there is no silver bullet. It's hard to find any true silver BBs either. I just blogged on how over-blown the hype around Coskata has gotten; I will probably bring that over to TOD in a few days.


I've also noticed that commerical GTL installations are not moving that fast.

Whats interesting is GTL seems to me at least to be the easiest of the synthetic fuel methods.

Also you have excess hydrogen that could be coupled with Ammonia synthesis so selling Ammonia should help a lot with the cost aspect. Other synfuel sources don't have this excess hydrogen.

Given that GTL is in my opinion the best alternative to oil I find it interesting that its not growing like it seems like it could.

Do you have and opinion on whats causing GTL to stumble ?

Do you have and opinion on whats causing GTL to stumble ?

Having spent a few years on GTL, I know exactly what's causing it to stumble: Capital costs.

You are right, GTL is the easiest. That should put the rest of these gasification schemes into perspective. If GTL is the easiest (and cheapest), then what does that suggest about these CTL and BTL schemes? That they are a long ways off.

Hi Robert,

re: "The public perception seems to be that we will be running primarily on alternative fuels by then, and I suggested that the current (and in my opinion, un-meetable) mandates are swaying the public into false perceptions on the issue."

These are two critically important points.

My experience is that the public, even the highly educated public - (even scientists working in closely related fields) - have the "transition to alternatives" view. Meaning, "it" will happen and no particular action is needed.

Yes, this seems to be bolstered by mandates. (Do CAFE standards count as "mandates"? It's just that Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), and no doubt others, see CAFE standards as a reasonable response to the "peak oil" question. So, I'll include them.)

Do you see any way to bridge this gap? Who do you see as having the main responsibility?

And is it necessary to do so? (I assume so, but wonder what you think.)

Without a realistic (i.e., scary-yet-true) view of the "peak", then the whole topic just more or less evaporates as a concern, is what I've seen. This means that people lack information and so are not in a position to make what we might call "structural adjustments", looking at supply chains, re-localization, or anything else.

Hi Gail, nice to hear your voice, and now we know how to pronounce 'Tverberg.' I look forward to a conference call with OMGLikeWTF or Sonic Hedgefund.

I'm making an MP3 so I can listen while puttering around later. Will see about hosting that for the interested later. I found the API IQ Quiz to be more than a bit of a pushpoll and gave up after 4 questions. Looking at the answers to the rest I'm even more put off, too.

If you're willing to mail me a copy of that MP3, I'd appreciate it.  (Closed formats like SWF are one of my biggest annoyances.)

This so-called 'Energy IQ Game' is nothing more than a blatant (and somewhat silly) attempt by the API to frame the debate and impose boundaries on the scope of discussion in a manner favorable to the US oil industry. Essentially, API is trying to not only to supply the correct answers but also to supply the 'correct' questions. It is an old propaganda trick.

Perhaps at one time, Charles ('Engine Charlie') Wilson's now famous dictum, "What's good for General Motors is good for the US, and vice versa," had a certain element of truth to it. But such a proposition would be a tough sell today.

What's good for ExxonMobil is NOT necessarily good for the US (and vice versa). As we get deeper and deeper into this energy mess, I think it will become increasingly clear that the US oil industry is being part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

So, API is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing: furthering the interests of the US oil industry. As such, no more attention should be paid to what they say than to what the Corn Growers Association (or whatever) says about ethanol vs food prices.

"Show me whar a man gits his corn pone from, an I'll tell you what his 'pinons is." Mark Twain

I will agree that the questions are chosen to make the points the industry wants to make. In my article last year, I laid out what those points are.

I think at least a few of those points really need to be made. There is a real problem with scaling up renewables, based on all of the science we know today. There is simply not enough biomass to replace more than 20% of petroleum use (and none of other fuel use--we can perhaps scale up using wood for utilities, but to do so will cut back the ability to replace 20% of petroleum).

We can make rules saying that a certain percentage of utility fuel must come from renewable sources, but there are very serious limits as to what can be done. If we don't want to destabilize the grid, we have to add storage capacity at the same time we add wind and solar capacity. Even if we restrict our analysis to electricity, renewables don't amount to much right now. This is my graph from my post a few days ago The Path from Petroleum Shortages to Electricity Shortages.

Gail -

I've always liked the way you've identified and discussed the key energy issues in a clear and even-handed way.

I would certainly agree with you that setting a certain goal for 'renewables' in terms of some arbitrary percentage of total electrical power generating rate is but a shallow political expedient that totally ignores the many real world problems surely to be encountered in causing such to actually come to pass.

I also think that not enough people in power understand the interconnectedness of all the many problems.

You can't meaningfully talk about the mass use of electric cars until you address generation and transmission capacity. (Who is going to make the extra electicity needed, what are they going to make it from, and how are they going to get it to the user in a dependable manner?)

And you can't talk about a massive increase in electricity from solar or wind until you figure out a way to provide sufficient storage for what are inherently intermittent energy sources. (There is probably some critical fraction of total generation rate, beyond which solar and wind will simply destroy the operability and dependability of a regional grid.) Thus, unless the problem of large-scale energy storage is resolved in a cost-effective manner, solar and wind will never get beyond a relatively small percentage of total power generation rate.

One of the main goals of the two competing factions in US presidential policitics is to convince the voters that their particular faction has the correct 'answer' that will painlessly make our energy problem go away if only they are elected. Saying anything less is a solid 100% guarantee for losing the election. That is why I will ignore everything that is said about the 'energy issue' till the next president is in office. (And even then, I might not pay too much attention.)

Here's one point....WE CAN ALREADY STORE ENERGY from SOLAR and WIND!!!!!....I can't believe you can't figure this one out....A percentage of the wind farm or solar farm is devoted to running an electric motor that runs an electric pump that will pump water uphill to fill a reservoir...then when the wind is calm or the sun goes down we have (wait for it)...TAAA DAAHHHHHH !!!! Hydroelectric power!!! Who would have thunk it?????? A SIMPLE and ELEGANT solution!!!!! Psssst!!! Guess what??? In a way, we ALREADY do this!!!...You know, in your hometown, that BIG teal water tower...Maintain city water pressure so you don't need to run electric pumps...GAD, Why can't you guys think of these things???....Sheesh

aviator202 -

First, do you have any idea of the required volume and height of a water reservoir capable of storing say 24 hours worth of the output of a 100 MW power plant? Clue, it's pretty damn big. So, that municipal water tower you're talking about could only store a very small amount of electrical energy.

Second, on the premise that it's hardly economically feasible to build mountains and put reservoirs on top of them, exactly how would you go about builing large pumped storage systems in a place with flat terrain, such as Kansas or most of the areas in the immediate vicinity of the Great Lakes?

Of course pumped storage works, but it's feasibiliy is highly location-specific, which is why you don't see that many pumped storage systems.

To my way of thinking the storage of wind produced electricity is not an issue if wind is given priority in usage. Other fossil fuel, hydroelectric or nuclear facilities should be reduced when there is ample wind available.

The savings in other forms of energy are the de facto storage mechanism.

For example, the water does not have to be pumped uphill, just don't let as much through the dam when wind is available. Then let the saved water flow though the dam when the wind dies down.

Fossil fuel saved by wind is in effect stored wind energy to be used to fire up plants when wind is inadequate or the demand exceeds wind availability.

Nuclear plants are harder to shut down but their out put can be scaled back during high wind availability. The saved nuclear fuel is the stored energy derived from wind.

It's just a matter of looking at things a little differently or maybe from outside the box.

"Nuclear plants are harder to shut down but their out put can be scaled back during high wind availability. The saved nuclear fuel is the stored energy derived from wind."

Wrong: you do not throttle nukes. You run them 100% and throttle back everything else, and that includes wind. Base coal gets throttled back to min-load at night, but nukes stay near 100%.

"(There is probably some critical fraction of total generation rate, beyond which solar and wind will simply destroy the operability and dependability of a regional grid.)"

Yup. Its about 20% non-firm generation comprising the gen-stack. At that point, without storage or highly responsive generation (read combined-cycle or ct's), your ACE goes to hell. Funny thing is, if you back non-firm generation with about 20% storage, and it becomes about 98% firm.

As for pumped storage, building the equivalent of some of our big existing pumped storage facilities is on order of about $1 trillion dollars for about 2.4 GW of instantaneous capacity. Storage is the key, and there are other storage forms that will work that are in development (mainly batteries).

Hi tuj,

Thank you. It sounds like you have a lot of information and experience. Maybe you could write up an article on storage?

Has anybody looked at pumped storage capital costs, i.e., looked at the whole picture you're describing? How to get the 20% for each region?

ACE stands for - ?

I think it may be quite a bit less that 20% in the United States. Our grid seems to be is less good shape than that of some other countries. I keep running into comments that we are already nearly maxed out in terms on the variable power we can put on the grid. I know that in Hawaii, I heard a speaker from the electric company talk about that issue for Hawaii (which is admittedly a small state). In my article about the grid, I quote Stow Walker of Cambridge Energy Research Associates as saying:

Until now, wind developers have piggybacked on existing wires, says analyst Stow Walker of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. But after wind energy soared 45% last year, spare transmission capacity is depleted. Wind power generates more than 1% of U.S. electricity.

The issue he quotes may not be so much variable power as total transmission line availability.

At a web seminar on concentrating solar power, this issue was also discussed. One speaker said that the only way he thought solar power could be used for the grid in any significant quantity was if

1. Separate zones were set up for solar power generation, probably in the desert.
2. A group of companies each set up their generating units there, using various technologies.
3. Enough storage was built to appropriately time-shift the supply to when it was needed, and even out
the variability.
4. Transmission lines were built for the whole group.

I am sure that with this package arrangement, the cost is much higher than most people have been estimating. They have generally only considered the direct transmission cost.

You can't meaningfully talk about the mass use of electric cars until you address generation and transmission capacity.

I've always wondered if there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.  I wonder no more.  You are proof positive that some other planet has brought forth a people with minds like our own...

because you sure couldn't have come from Earth and believe that.

The generation and transmission issue has been at the center of EV systems analysis for years.  As just one bit of proof, I offer this paper from 2001, Integration of Electric Drive Vehicles with the Electric Power Grid -- a New Value Stream.  Grid-charged vehicles have been investigated for helping to stabilize the grid, supply power to assist with demand peaks, and time-shift demand.  A more recent study found that existing generation could supply 70% of the vehicle fleet.

unless the problem of large-scale energy storage is resolved in a cost-effective manner, solar and wind will never get beyond a relatively small percentage of total power generation rate.

The solutions are right under our noses.  A/C load is highly variable, but the solution is to make ice when power is available (it stores for months with reasonable insulation).  The aforementioned vehicle batteries can be used to shift demand to any time of day that they are plugged in.  We can store energy as compressed air.  We can even (gasp!) store up biofuels until the sun and wind aren't adequate, and use them as needed.

Yes, the grid needs billions in improvements.  We can get those billions by using electricity to cut our spending on petroleum.  If I use 5 kWh/day for a car and charge it at 500 W average during off-peak hours, I would increase off-peak (base load) demand by 500 W and peak demand not at all.  This power consumption might displace 0.8 gallons/day of gasoline at $4.00/gallon, or $3.20/day.  If base-load demand costs $3000/kW and 2¢/kWh marginal cost, but the added base-load generation displaces peaking power at 10¢/kWh marginal cost, the cost/benefit looks like this to me:

Capital cost $1500
Daily interest cost @ 8% $0.329
Daily fuel savings ($3.20)
Daily marginal cost of power $0.10
Daily peaking cost reduction
(over 4-hour peak)
Net daily cost (savings) ($2.97)

These numbers are just a SWAG, but a level of savings which would pay back the capital expense in ONE YEAR is worth looking at even if reality is only half as good.

Actually what he said was "What is good for America, is good for GM, and Vice Versa, ( E claimed he meant "What is bad .....etc.} but why ruin a good quote by a little truth.

Old Ari -

I will concede that you are correct in the order of the words Engine Charlie said. He has been frequently misquoted by the mainstream media, including none less than Time-Life Books in their volume on the 1950s. I fell into it.

Nevertheless, I think the point is made that there has been (and is) an all too chumy relationship between the US government and US business, particularly when it comes to 'defense', a joke of a term if there ever was one.

The quote more or less works either way, so it hardly makes all that much difference. Though, I think today that what's good for the US is not necessarily good for ExxonMobil, and vice versa.

Also, what's good for Santa Claus is good for religion, as they both maintain the same type of power structure.

And these quips conveniently skirt around the issue that what's good for religion, Santa Claus, GM, or the US, may not, in fact, be good for your and your family's future environment and available choices.

The hidden assumption, that any of these things do more benefit than harm, may be dubious.

Speaking of IQ games, there was a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that a particular memory task may increase fluid intelligence, or IQ. This was a startling finding because previously IQ was thought to be unchangeable. See this Wired article for details.

An internet community has sprung up around the mental task described in the research (called Dual N-Back).

I wrote a free open-source program called Brain Workshop which implements the protocol. The web site has details on how to get started.

I posted this here because I wanted to give everyone here the opportunity to see if the game benefits you. An efficient society begins with efficiency of one's own mind. We're going to need all the intelligence we can get if we're going to solve some of the significant problems we face.


In no way do I want to diminish the your work on the IQ program, it does sound interesting.

However, it's not intelligence or the lack of it that is getting in humanity's way right now.

What is mostly getting in our way is the fundamental mistake that all humans make (including me when I'm not paying attention), which is this:
we relate to opinions (which are simply points of view) as facts, and then defend them literally to the death.

This causes much unworkability in the world. Because we think we're right, we don't explore ideas with others; we argue with them instead. If the argument gets heated, we start sending in troops and missiles. Or we divorce each other. Or pick your favorite ill consequence.

The corollary to the above interestingly is that because of representational language, by definition everything is a point of view. (Even so-called facts, because they must be expressed in representational language as an interpretation.)

Or, said another way, we are arguing about nothing at all.

Teach the world that it is arguing over nothing, and then we'll see some significant progress, in my view.

The API put out as their experts for the discussion a public relations specialist, a business specialist, and an economics specialist. No geologists. No chemists. No physicists. No engineers. People with expertise in the hard sciences are employed by the oil industry but the industry doesn't want the public to hear their point of view. So we get a lot of what comes out of the south end of a north bound horse.


Nothing new about keeping the tech folks out of the loop. I've been a petroleum geologist for 33 years and the rule has always been "keep the geologist (or any other techie) quiet when presenting to non-tech types. Unfortunately, I have to agree with that policy. While there are many folks here on TOD that can readily handle the technical side of the discussion, folks like the API (and all the other organizations involved in the discussion) aren't designed to spread ideas to such an audience. They are shooting for the American public. So in comes down to selling ideas. And for folks w/o a good tech base you can't sell tech. Just buzz words and easy solutions. We see it all around us coming from every angle of the debate: prodrillng vs. antidrilling, proalts vs. antialts, etc. The problems we collectively have here is that we "demand" that the public listen and understand the details so that they might make an informed decision. Unfortunately, for much of the American public, this is the equivalent of teaching a pig to sing: it frustrates you and irritates the pig. I know that sounds harsh but is there any among us that hasn’t seen such ridiculous levels of comprehension by the public first hand?

Carl Sagan made the following point with two similar quotes:

We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.


We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. -Carl Sagan

In several classes I teach, the issue of energy resources (in various forms) comes up. Though I'm not surprised how energy illiterate peaople can be, the sales job to people without a cursory understanding is unfortunate. At least some people are getting the point that 70% of the US oil is imported (thanks to T. Boone Pickens), but even his 3-page plan is far too simplistic even though it might get the masses to thinking about something other than drill, drill, drill.

It seems like it wouldn't have to be this way. Schools have not taught about energy supply and all of the related issue. It seems like the way the curriculum is divided up, the subject never fit anywhere very well.

Also, television has become so pervasive, and includes so little real information. It is amazing so many people are willing to fill their heads with the material it provides. Video games aren't much better.

Hi Gail,

Thank you for posting this. It was interesting.

re: Television. Well, my theory is it's "young persons", namely, children who are exposed at a young age and actually become emotionally and psychologically attached, kind of like they would to an adult who was interacting with them.

So, then they're "willing" (later) because it's familiar, comfortable, and, well, there.

What I've seen is that kids have no choice, really. This is the additional sad part.

It seems like the way the curriculum is divided up, the subject never fit anywhere very well.

Division of science-related topics into inappropriate and disconnected factoids is a chronic complaint on edu-blogs.  It is probably a side-effect of the scientific and numerical illiteracy and general low academic level of today's "educators".

deleted as not germane

Would enjoy a PO version of this 'card game'....just a suggestion for anyone with the ability.

Without wanting the minimize the huge issues in:

1) Going all-out on efficiency to stretch oil+gas as far as possible

2) Building enough sustainable infrastructure

I would observe two things about wind:

a) In comments in TOD Europe, I mentioned work of Archer & Jacobson, repeated here:

Supplying Baseload Power and Reducing Transmission Requirements by Interconnecting Wind Farms, 2007:

"As more farms are connected in an array, wind correlation among sites decreases and so does the probability that all sites experience the same wind regime at the same time. The array consequently behaves more and more similarly to a single farm with steady wind speed and thus steady deliverable wind power....

It was found that an average of 33% and a maximum of 47% of yearly averaged wind power from interconnected farms can be used as reliable, baseload electric power."

Of course, charging batteries for BEV and PHEVs is a dandy use for the non-baseload power.

b) The other thing is that windfarms don't automatically have to be placed far from anything. Some of them quite naturally can occupy 3-5% of existing farms or ranches, i.e., big windmills have to be spaced anyway, they don't block much sun, grazing cows are especially compatible. This especially fits the US mid-West.

If a farmer/rancher can lease a fraction of their land for regular income that on the average exceeds what they think they can get from it for other uses, they'll do it.

There are still plenty of issues with the grid, scaleup time, etc, etc, but let's work on the real problems.

It is completely irrational to think that wind/solar must instantly replace all baseload power to be worth doing at all, or that there must be as much fossil backup.

At least in the US Southwest, solar is a fine load-follower, which is worth a lot of money.

Hydro & geothermal work at night, and as Archer & Jacobson claim, big-enough gridded windfarms act partially as baseload.

Right, JM!

Wind and solar are 'stranded' resources so we need to bring them to people.

Of course we have to build new transmission lines to those remote locations, otherwise they wouldn't be 'stranded'.

And as you point out in very many cases wind and solar are 'stranded' in the same place. Just the western edge of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and eastern Colorado and New Mexico covered with BOTH wind turbines and very good solar electric would easily produce more kwh then the rest of the country combined.
And what could be more baseload than solar in those dry areas?

Rather than worry about load balancing let's look at using the excess to produce fertilizer, hydrogen and oxygen for chemical processes, provide water heating, ice building for AC,etc. instead of using natural gas or coal.

The bigger problem is getting our nukes and fossil plants off the baseload
which nobody talks about.
In the case of coal plants, conversion to IGCC/syngas would be helped by production of cheap oxygen made by the electrolysis of water. Syngas can also produce methanol, a fuel for cars. In this way coal becomes a peaking source of electricity and wind/solar becomes baseload. Nukes would have to remain baseload and will not be able to contribute to the expansion of renewables--in that sense they are a dead-end.

All this requires a global conception of an energy system, not a bunch of
pieces that have to operate independently. Unfortunately, getting energy companies and utilities to act together is very difficult, so the US government will need to CLOSELY coordinate their efforts.

The biggest source of oil is efficiency. API has a long history of publicly throwing up it's arms in tantrums about the lack of feasibility of alternatives, and claims to be spending enormous sums (almost equal to it's TV propaganda budget) on development of these technologies. However, the biggest - most feasible source is conservation technologies - which API and "Big Oil" have devoted almost nothing to, and have in fact lobbied against.

Which makes sense. It's not in the oil industry's interest to promote less use of the product it sells. Which is one of the reasons why the industry needs to be nationalized - just like every other nation's oil industry - governments that run operations exponentially larger than the U.S. "professionals" do - and have much more revenue to devote to infrastructure (take a trip to Dubai if you have any doubts).

Private companies would still run the operations, but capital financing, revenues, and budgets should be under the 100% control of the U.S. government. Would the pace of oil extraction slow? Probably. But so what? There are TOD contributors who cry crocodile tears about releasing SPR oil because that's hypocritical (!) with slowing climate change, and at the same time promote drilling in ANWR and everywhere else, defend the ethics of the oil industry, and appeal to the authority of oil lobbyists by being pawns in "blogger calls" (AKA public relations propaganda).

IMHO, they are either misinformed, have conflicting interests (oil stocks owners), or agree with James Inhofe.

API doesn't promote efficiency. The auto industry doesn't promote carpooling. The medical industry doesn't promote the cheapest available treatment, or looking closely at whether all of the treatment for the elderly is making their lives any better (or longer).

I am afraid that is one of the things we have to live with. It is even difficult to get the government to think about these things.

Oil as a commodity is not comparable to cars. A more relevant comparison would be water or electricity. Until our society has redesigned itself to be oil independent, oil should be treated as a public good and tightly controlled by the public.

Healthcare is an interesting comparison, since it's one of the few services that is actually more efficiently run by government in lieu of the private sector. I also believe healthcare should be treated as a public good. The insurance model has been proven to be ineffective. In a perfect world, insurance companies would be a force behind public health policies like clean water, air, consumer safety, smoking bans, car air bags, safer forms of transport like rail etc., etc., since a safer, healthier pool of customers would lower their risk.

In the real world however, they don't care about any of these things. They just raise their premiums and deny services. Gail, you are an actuary....why does the industry work this way?

I think the staff model HMO is at least somewhat better. That is why I am a member of Kaiser. The doctor at least doesn't have a motive of maximizing his own revenue, and Kaiser is at least a little looking at outcomes and trying to improve those. For the most part, I watch what I eat, and stay out of the healthcare system. (Less meat and less processed foods are better.)

Regarding why the industry works the way it does, Insurance companies want to maximize their profits. Also, the healthcare system is set up so doctors can maximize their revenues. The insurance companies can't do much to fix that. Any one company can't do enough about public health policies to impact their own profits, so they don't. Health outcomes are much better in other countries. The whole US health system is a disaster--a system that emphasizes healthy eating, clean water, clean air, smoking bans, and preventive treatment for all, would do much better.