DrumBeat: November 17, 2008

EIA: OPEC 10 Month Oil Export Revenue +32% On Full-Year 2007

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- OPEC has earned an estimated $884 billion on oil exports in the first 10 months of 2008, or 32% more than it earned in all of 2007, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected.

For all of 2008, EIA expects OPEC to earn a record $979 billion, a rise of 46% , or $309 billion more than in 2007, when revenues rose by 10%. Although the percentage rise in 2008 would be the biggest since a 51.5% gain in 2005, the collapse in oil prices in recent months has slashed earlier forecasts on the size of the increase.

Buffett: First oil, then what?

Warren Buffett's reputation as the world's greatest living investor has been challenged recently, and the Oracle of Omaha's latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission is unlikely to heal the damage. Between March and September, Mr. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. quadrupled its stake in ConocoPhillips Co. – an oil producer whose share price has been cut in half since June, along with the price of crude oil.

For the Earth to live, capitalism must die

Under the best of circumstances the global economy and the global system of dominance that rests on it will run into limits it cannot transform -- so that it cannot continue until the point that the global ecosystem -- life itself -- collapses all around us and within us. In the best case scenario, peak oil will prove just such a limit, a limit that sinks the system of production and destruction to such a degree that it prevents it from resurrecting itself.

International Energy Agency Acknowledges 'Patently Unsustainable' Trends in Global Energy Supply and Consumption

DENVER /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- National and international energy agencies have long downplayed the statistics and significance of oil depletion. Finally, in Wednesday's World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2008 report, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) conclusively recognized the reality of "Peak Oil" and the magnitude and implications of large annual decline rates on the world's annual oil production.

While the IEA's report is groundbreaking in acknowledging the problem, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas USA (ASPO-USA) finds unwarranted optimism in the report's projections of oil production that are inconsistent with known decline rates -- acknowledged in the report at more than six percent per year.

Saudi may delay oil expansion projects as prices fall: official

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is reviewing its oil expansion projects and may delay some plans to boost output as prices fall, said an official from the country’s state-owned oil company.

“We’re currently reviewing our investment plan and the schedules for our projects,” Hasan al-Zahrani, general manager of project management at Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Saudi Aramco), said yesterday. “Once the review is complete we’ll decide what projects we need to defer, or speed up.”

A 'grand bargain' might unlock Kirkuk

The struggle for oil-rich Kirkuk threatens to paralyze Iraq's legislative agenda and block political accommodation, destabilizing fragile security gains that have put the issue of troop withdrawals on the American and the Iraqi political agenda. The competition to control Kirkuk, whose oil field contains 13 percent of Iraq's proven reserves, has exposed a deep fault line between Arabs and Kurds.

Herman Daly: Economics blind spot is a disaster for the planet

The idea that economic growth should be constrained by the environment was too much for the World Bank in 1992, and still is today. The bank recognised that something must be wrong with that diagram - but better to omit it than deal with the inconvenient questions it raised.

That was when I realised that economists have not grasped a simple fact that to scientists is obvious: the size of the Earth as a whole is fixed. Neither the surface nor the mass of the planet is growing or shrinking. The same is true for energy budgets: the amount absorbed by the Earth is equal to the amount it radiates. The overall size of the system - the amount of water, land, air, minerals and other resources present on the planet we live on - is fixed.

The most important change on Earth in recent times has been the enormous growth of the economy, which has taken over an ever greater share of the planet's resources. In my lifetime, world population has tripled, while the numbers of livestock, cars, houses and refrigerators have increased by vastly more. In fact, our economy is now reaching the point where it is outstripping Earth's ability to sustain it. Resources are running out and waste sinks are becoming full. The remaining natural world can no longer support the existing economy, much less one that continues to expand.

(This article is from last month, but is newly out from behind a paywall.)

Prophesy of economic collapse 'coming true'

Things may seem bad now – with fears of a world recession looming – but they could be set to get much worse.

A real-world analysis of a controversial prediction made 30 years ago concludes that economic growth cannot be sustained and we are on track for serious economic collapse this century.

U.S. gasoline tax hike unlikely, key Senator says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The new Congress probably will not approve legislation to raise the federal tax on gasoline, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee said on Monday.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman said he was aware of arguments that a "variable tax" should be put on U.S. gasoline to prevent falling pump prices from encouraging Americans to drive more while making alternative fuels less attractive.

Such a tax hike "would be very tough to pass," Bingaman said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "I don't think something like that has much prospect of being enacted in my honest opinion."

War on the Range: As gas drilling surges in the Western U.S., some ranchers are looking for ways to fight back

BIRNEY, Mont. -- A new range war is spreading across the Rocky Mountain West. And this time, it's pitting ranchers against a modern-day nemesis: the gas industry.

At the center of the conflict is an explosion of drilling for coalbed methane gas over the past decade in iconic Western places like sage-covered buttes and mesas -- wide open spaces that, until recently, ranchers pretty much had to themselves.

Russia to build gas pipeline to Georgian region

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Monday it would build a pipeline directly to Georgia's rebel region of South Ossetia because of problems with natural gas supplies to the enclave after a war with Georgia.

Turkey, Iran Sign Gas Transit, Pipeline Accord, IRNA Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow natural gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to transit through Turkey to European markets, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Acid Soils in Slovakia Tell Somber Tale

Increasing levels of nitrogen deposition associated with industry and agriculture can drive soils toward a toxic level of acidification, reducing plant growth and polluting surface waters, according to a new study published online in Nature Geoscience.

The study, conducted in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia by the University of Colorado, University of Montana, Slovak Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Geological Survey, shows what can happen when nitrogen deposition in any part of the world increases to certain levels—levels similar to those projected to occur in parts of Europe by 2050, according to some global change models.

Saudi Aramco Relaunches Tenders for $10B Manifa Oil Project

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Aramco will again invite companies to bid for contracts to develop the Manifa oilfield after it canceled a contract with Snamprogetti, Saudi-based Al Riyadh daily reports Monday.

Aramco decided to re-launch its major projects after the decline in raw materials prices, including steel, cement by 40%, the paper reports, citing a contractor.

Nigeria oil minister urges exploration

Nigeria's petrol minister urged oil companies to look beyond current market volatility and pump more money into exploration, saying the demand for crude could double by the middle of the century.

Odein Ajumogobia said Nigeria's oil and gas reserves were at the same level they were at five years ago even though fresh fields had been identified.

"It is my belief that we must continue to replenish and grow our reserve base and not allow market uncertainties to distort our decision to explore more," Ajumogobia told a meeting of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists in the federal capital Abuja.

Georgia says pipe damage halted gas supplies to S. Ossetia

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Tbilisi claims that pipeline damage is responsible for the suspension of natural gas deliveries to its breakaway province of South Ossetia, a Gazprom spokesman told a radio station on Monday.

Reading Up on Nuclear Energy

The debate over nuclear energy has gained new life thanks to concerns about climate change and the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We asked several experts on the topic to suggest resources for understanding -- and joining -- the debate.

A Peak-Oiler, but still in the closet? IEA’s 2008 Report

The groundbreaking new IEA World Energy Outlook 2008 is still a product of a somewhat schizophrenic organization. Here and there you still have references to how abundant the resource base is (9 trillion barrels all in) and how satisfying demand is only a question of timely investments. The oil optimists are still an important group of the IEA, but it is the new positions the organization takes which are showing us the direction they are heading:

● “Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable.”

● Global decline rates are rising.

● Natural decline rates for fields past their peak is 9% and rising to 10.5 % in 2030.

● Observed decline rates are 6.7 % and rising to 8.6 % in 2030.

● From 2007 to 2030, supply of conventional crude oil will increase with only 5 mbpd, which will leave the peak at below 90 mbpd.

The last statement is a stunner. From here to 2030 the global peak oil capacity of conventional oil is just shy of 90 mbpd. Many would say that makes them a card-carrying ASPO member.

CNPC says China oil demand falls sharply, stockpiles rising

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - China's demand for oil is falling sharply and stockpiles of crude and oil products stockpiles are rising as a result of the economic slowdown, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said.

"With the spread of the global financial crisis, the impact on China's economy is being gradually felt. Even the company's operations have been adversely affected, particularly since September," CNPC general manager Jiang Jiemin said in a statement.

Green New Deal makes sense but unlikely

The idea of using tax breaks and extra public spending to promote energy efficiency, mitigate carbon emissions and develop renewable power sources, inspired by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal public works programme during the 1930s Great Depression, sounds like common sense.

But it may not happen fast enough, or on a sufficient scale, to stimulate the economy, arrest global warming or durably bring down oil prices that reached $147 a barrel earlier this year.

Game beware: it's the return of the poacher

As times get harder in Britain's cities, armed gangs are heading for the countryside – and stealing deer, salmon and rabbits to feed a burgeoning black market in food.

Can concept of clean coal be salvaged?

Coal may be a four-letter word for former Vice President Al Gore and many environmentalists. But some researchers believe technology may yet salvage the concept of “clean coal” — or at least cleaner coal — as an alternative to foreign oil while the drive for longer-term alternative energy picks up steam.

U.S. Industrial Production Rose on Hurricane Rebound

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. industrial production rose more than forecast in October, led by a jump in mining as work resumed at oil rigs in Gulf of Mexico following shutdowns caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Jordan: Fuel shortage triggers confusion

AMMAN - Police on Sunday had to intervene to maintain security and regulate the long queues of vehicles seeking a refill at gas stations as a result of a severe shortage in fuel derivatives, especially gasoline 90 and 95.

The scene of cars running out of petrol and parking by roadsides was not unfamiliar in Amman.

For Mexico’s Wealthy, Expenses Include Guards

With drug-related violence spinning out of control and kidnappings a proven money-maker for criminal gangs, members of Mexico’s upper class find themselves juggling the spoils of their status with the fear of being killed.

Propane gas industry: ripe for reform and transparency

Welcome to the world of propane gas-- where the less you use, the higher your per-gallon cost, and many dealers run roughshod over customers once the contract is signed.

Owners set to axe 25% of car carrier fleet as auto sales slump

UP TO a quarter of the world’s fleet of pure car and truck carriers could be heading for the scrapyard as shipowners take action to slash capacity in line with factory production cuts.

Biofuels will send millions into poverty

EUROPE must ‘slow down’ on biofuels, or else risk sending millions of people over the poverty line, warned the head of the Government’s biofuels' watchdog.

Speaking at the AIC’s annual conference last week, chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Agency Nick Goodall warned that biofuels will have a major impact on global food prices, putting a further strain on people in developing countries.

Pact, Approved in Iraq, Sets Time for U.S. Pullout

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war.

UK needs more nuclear plant builders, minister says

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs more than one company to build nuclear power stations to meet the government's long-term carbon emissions targets and provide affordable electricity, UK energy minister Mike O'Brien said on Monday.

As First Plan Stalls, Mayor Tries New Push for Green Taxis

After a federal court ruling stalled a city initiative to make most new taxis hybrid vehicles, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Friday that he would seek another way, announcing new financial incentives aimed at pushing taxi owners to buy the more environmentally friendly gas-and-electric cars.

Wind power retains growth potential-research group

LONDON (Reuters) - The wind energy sector has been hit by the global financial crisis but still has the potential to grow in the medium and long term, research group New Energy Finance said.

New Energy Finance said the credit crunch and financial crisis have caused a short-term shortage of project finance for wind farms. Any remaining debt available from banks is also more expensive than in 2007.

In Times Square, a Company’s Name in (Wind- and Solar-Powered) Lights

The first eco-friendly billboard is coming to Times Square, entirely powered by the sun and the wind — but there is one small catch.

When there’s no sun, and no wind? The $3 million billboard goes dark: there is no backup generator.

An idea to fast-track alternative power

How can the Bay State jump-start alternative power generation?

One idea: give the state the power to approve small-scale power generating plants.

Sticking to the Diet: Companies and consumes have cut their demand for oil in thousands of ways. Now comes the test.

Oil demand in the world's biggest consuming nations, excluding China, has shrunk by a total 4% over the past three years -- the equivalent of discovering nearly 660 million barrels in new oil supplies.

A good deal of the credit goes to thousands of small and large decisions by companies and consumers looking for ways to pare soaring energy bills. The big question now: What happens to these gains with oil prices down more than 50% since summer?

Oil falls below $56 as Japan slips into recession

Oil prices fell below $56 a barrel Monday as news that Japan fell into recession highlighted investor fears that a global economic slowdown will hurt crude demand.

By midday in Europe, light, sweet crude for December delivery was down $1.23 to $55.81 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.20 Friday to settle at $57.04.

OPEC Slashes 2009 Crude Oil Demand Forecast for a Third Month

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, slashed its 2009 demand forecast for a third month as the looming global recession threatens fuel consumption.

The 13-member group reduced its forecast for average oil consumption next year by 530,000 barrels a day, or 0.6 percent, to 86.68 million barrels a day, it said in its monthly oil market report, citing plunging demand from the petrochemical industry as well as falling transport fuel use.

``The downbeat economic forecast has darkened the outlook for oil demand substantially,'' OPEC said today. ``The rising risk of a prolonged global economic recession with further downward uncertainties for oil demand growth continues to undermine market sentiment.''

Russian Stocks Tumble as Crude Oil Prices Decline; PIK Plunges

(Bloomberg) -- Russia's Micex Index dropped for a fourth day and the Micex Stock Exchange halted trading for an hour as crude oil fell to near a 21-month low.

OAO Rosneft and OAO Lukoil, Russia's biggest oil producer, led the slump with declines of more than 6 percent each. PIK Group, a Moscow-focused apartment builder, tumbled the most ever in London on concern it won't be able to repay debt.

Ruble Weakens Against Basket as Oil, Equities, Bonds Decline

Bloomberg) -- The ruble weakened against the central bank's dollar-euro basket as oil, Russia's biggest export earner, declined and stocks dropped for a fourth day.

The currency fell against the euro and pared gains against the dollar as Urals crude, the nation's export oil blend, slid for a second day to $48.32 a barrel, an almost two-year low. Russia's Micex index of 30 stocks lost 3.8 percent, while the dollar-denominated RTS index lost 3.2 percent.

Supplies are struggling!

Our planet is facing a severe energy crisis, however not many are paying attention. I find it amazing that rather than focus on the very real threat of ‘Peak Oil’, the majority of investors seem to be worrying about the ongoing credit crisis.

Over the past few months, the price of crude oil has dropped sharply due to forced liquidation in every asset-class. Unfortunately, this decline has convinced everyone that the oil ‘bubble’ has burst. Every day, we hear about the usual ‘demand destruction’ myth and people are now convinced that the days of expensive energy are behind us. However, nothing could be further from the truth!

Supply Chain Comment: Should We Still Act as if Cheap Oil is a Thing of the Past?

Sheffi wrote: “Supply chain executives have to plan for a world where cheap oil is a thing of the past.”

The pertinent question right now, of course, is: Is that really true? Is the current collapse just a temporary aberration, with an overall trend that will soon again lead to rising prices and expensive oil? Or will it take years to get back to 2007/08 levels?

Eni Delays Goliat Field Start-Up by One Year to 2013

(Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA, Italy's largest oil company, said output from Goliat field in the Barents Sea will be delayed by one year to 2013 because the company can't begin necessary purchases in time for the planned start-up.

Fort Hills oil sands project cost hiked 50%

The Fort Hills project, the ambitious oil-sands venture between Petro-Canada, UTS Energy Corp. and Teck Cominco Ltd., will be at least 50% more expensive than originally thought last year, the three firms said on Wednesday.

The companies said in June 2007 the price tag for Fort Hills would be about $33-billion. On Wednesday, they said cost estimates have since risen "considerably."

Petro-Canada Again Postpones $10 Billion Oil-Sands Upgrader

(Bloomberg) -- Petro-Canada, the country's third- largest oil company, said it again delayed a plan to build an oil-sands upgrader estimated to cost as much as C$12.5 billion ($10.1 billion) on rising costs and falling oil prices.

Natural Gas Plant Costs May Double, Journal de Angola Reports

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of Angola's proposed liquefied natural gas project will probably double to $8 billion because of unforeseen problems relating to dredging and preparation of the site, Jornal de Angola reported.

Tehran Oil Refinery Has Fire in Liquid Gas Unit, IRNA Reports

(Bloomberg) -- A fire broke out in the liquid gas unit of Tehran's oil refinery today, state-run news agency IRNA reported, citing the head of National Iranian Oil Refinery and Distributing Co., Nurreddin Shahnazi-Zadeh.

Chevron Shuts Onshore Nigerian Oil Output on Pipeline Breach

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil producer, shut its onshore oil production in Nigeria's Delta State after a pipeline was breached last week.

``Onshore production was shut in to protect the environment and will be restored as soon as an assessment on the damage is completed, repairs effected and pipeline re-commissioned,'' Chevron spokesman Scott Walker said in an e-mailed statement.

Nigerian gunmen seize oil vessel, hold crew hostage

LAGOS (AFP) – Gunmen captured an oil firm vessel and its crew in a weekend raid off the shores of Nigeria's volatile southern Niger Delta region, an army spokesman announced Monday.

"Militants suspected to be from Tompolo's camp seized one MV Thou Galaxy vessel on the Gbaramatu waterway along Escravos (River)," Lieutenant-Colonel Rabe Abubakar, the military spokesman in the region, told AFP.

Shell employee kidnapped, rescued in Nigeria

Lagos - Unidentified gunmen in southern Nigeria held hostage a local employee of Royal Dutch Shell for several hours at the weekend before he was rescued, army and police sources said on Monday.

Fidelis Akpoghira was seized whilst visiting relatives on Sunday in a district of Port Harcourt, Nigeria's oil hub, a local military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Musa Sagir said.

Transition: gearing up for the great power-down

Climate change is upon us and the oil is running out. Is mankind's darkest hour really approaching? If so, a growing army of local heroes is determined to turn it into our finest.

Plug-in electric vehicles and the electrification of road transport

Concerns over ‘peak oil’, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and the likelihood that by the middle of this century there could be five times as many motor vehicles registered world-wide as there are currently, mean that the world’s almost total dependence on petroleum-based fuels for transport is in every sense of the word, unsustainable.

New, safer designs of lithium batteries, along with better power management systems originally developed for laptop computers and mobile phones, have meanwhile been developed just as these concerns have come to dominate energy policy formulation everywhere. A new consensus is emerging with remarkable speed: that road transport will be increasingly powered by electricity.

China's coal fires belch fumes, worsening global warming

RUJIGOU, China — The barren hillsides give a hint of the inferno underfoot. White smoke billows from cracks in the earth, venting a sulfurous rotten smell into the air. The rocky ground is hot to the touch, and heat penetrates the soles of shoes.

Beneath some rocks, an eerie red glow betrays an unseen hell: the epicenter of a severe underground coal fire.

"Don't stay too long," warned Ma Ping, a retired coal miner. "The gases are poisonous."

Climate change: Emissions from industrialised world still high

PARIS (AFP) – Carbon emissions from the industrialised world in 2006 were higher than at the start of the century, mainly as a result of revived activity by former Soviet-bloc states, according to UN figures released on Monday.

Climate disaster awaits aged, poor

LOWER socio-economic groups and the ageing will bear the brunt of climate change in coastal areas, according to a report from the National Sea Change Taskforce.

Those in temporary housing such as caravans and manufactured homes are at particular risk in the event of a natural disaster. "These housing forms are an important source of housing for low-income Australians and retirees, particularly along the coast," the report says.

An arabian super tanker, the sirius star, has been hijacked in the arabian sea. This attack seems to have happened in the open sea, at 450 nm southeast from Kenya. Not quite an amateur job seems to me but jeffvail hopefully will help us analyse this event if it is confirmed and unfolds. Crude oil for the moment seems rather unaffected, up 1$ on the news, downthrifting since.

supplies are struggleing !

indeed, and a term we dont hear cast about is supply distruction. istm that supply distruction has been ongoing for about 25 yrs. oil is burned(destroyed) but not fully replaced. supply destruction, that may get the economists' underwear in a twist.

neuroil -

It very likely has something to do with marine insurance and liability issues, but I find it more than just a bit silly that a 200,000-ton super tanker can be successfully attacked by a 24-foot speedboat driven by a rag-tag bunch of coked-up thugs armed with nothing more than some automatic rifles and a few RPGs.

You hardly need to keep a billion-dollar missile frigate on station to prevent this sort of free-lance piracy. Something as simple as a few pedestal-mounted 20 mm machine guns placed on each side of the tanker's bridge would make short work of any attacking small craft.

But the owners probably would rather not go that route, as it would require the addition to the crew of a small group of security professionals to man the guns. And I'm sure their lawyers, accountants, and insurers would conjure up all sorts of problems with operating an 'armed merchant ship'.

Any people knowledgable on maritime law out there?

Not to mention the combination of 200.000 tons of fuel and the possibility of an exchange of explosive projectiles would make any insurer a bit nervous. Better pay these guys off than risk a 100 million dollars worth of crude.

Also, high volatility likely today around the close - it's option expiry day so lots of nervous people with itchy trigger fingers.

indeolie -

I see your point. However, I seriously doubt if a little small arms fire and a couple of RPGs are going to set off a super tanker. I also wonder how much it costs to keep a US Navy ship actively on station for months at a time. I guess it's really a matter of whose pocket the money is coming out of, and I can understand why the shippers would want someone else to take the responsibility (and absorb the cost) of protecting their ships.

The question is: how long are these shippers going to let the bullies take their lunch money? If rock stars, celebrities, and Brinks trucks can have armed body guards, why not super tankers? If the proper armament is provided, a small craft wouldn't be able to even get within firing range of a super tanker. (At least give the crew some cutlasses to repel boarders.)

I seriously doubt you have any idea what it would take to set one off.

Depends on if it has finished product. If it did, it could be set off with just a few set placements of small arms ammunition. An RPG would be sooooo easy.

Even with just Crude on board, it could be a mess in only a few minutes. Just gotta know where o put it.

I seriously doubt you have any idea what it would take to set one off.

Ever see the end of the movie 'Syriana'?


But that was a LNG tanker. They make for a very big bang :)

Yeah, but I can't imagine that a tanker full of refined products would fare much better :(

Even in an empty tanker, I would imagine that the fumes remaining would make a pretty spectacular bang.
For the maximum impact though, perhaps a partially empty tanker would be the easiest to explode - plenty of fumes to set things off.

Ah, why worry? USA's taxpayers will foot the security bill for the crude highway, always have.

The USS Cole proves otherwise.

A warship coming to dock in peace is a different beast than one in a defensive posture.

Right now the pirates are bloodsucking ticks: irritating and noxious but tolerable in small numbers. It is only a matter of time before the pirates overplay their gambit and the local populace suffers the result. Fumigation will kill the ladybugs along with the ticks, to stretch the analogy.

I think they chose poorly when they took the Russian arms ship. Eventually a situation will escalate and the pirates' den will be cleared, and perhaps much of the Somalia coast with it. It will probably not be the US though -- we'd just do an escort service instead.

"24-foot speedboat driven by a rag-tag bunch of coked-up thugs armed with nothing more than some automatic rifles and a few RPGs."

They were 450nm offshore. A 24 foot boat wouldn't even be close to tall enough for them to throw up a grappling hook. I'm sure they used the money from their last hijacking to buy a bigger boat.

I told you so... (yeah, people hate that phrase...)

Some time ago I posted here about piracy, and was belittled by a few. That was in a discussion on the importance of Naval forces, and why even after P.O. and declining budgets governments would need to support having Naval forces.

Piracy has never gone away, and working against piracy is a long standing mission of a nation's Navy.

As stated today by the top Admiral:

The top US military officer said Monday he was "stunned" by the reach of the Somali pirates who seized a Saudi supertanker off the east coast of Africa, calling piracy a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

But Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were limits to what the world's navies could do once a ship has been captured because national governments often preferred to pay pirates ransom.

And as someone else has mentioned, private shippers are reluctant to highly arm their ships, nor do they employ private marines. There are some problems with doing so anyway - think about it - these ships are suppose to be non-combatants and sail into pretty much any port (that is physically able to receive them.) If you are a buyer-nation, do you want a ship full of armed men from a foreign country pulling into your ports, not knowing of whom that navy/army is composed?

Combating piracy takes resources away from other missions, thus the rise of piracy and combating it will impact other missions.

Given the increase is Islamic terrorist infiltration in that part of Africa, one also has to be concerned about the use of piracy for terrorist activities.

Look out below on Wall St.

Americans are digging deep to save money

After years of free-spending and saying "charge it" at every turn, Americans are using words such as "scrimp and save" and "scrape up some cash." Now, they're cutting back on almost all fronts, regardless of how much they earn. According to a recent USA TODAY/ Gallup Poll, 55% say they've cut household spending as a result of lower prices in the stock market and fears about the economy. Just slightly more say they'll spend less on Christmas gifts this year than last.

They're cutting back on travel for the holidays (63%), eating out at restaurants (81%), entertainment such as going to movies (72%), and household services such as housekeeping or lawn service (37%).

But the easy savings are over, and Americans are digging deeper. They're selling old gold jewelry and ransacking closets to find "stuff" to put up for sale on eBay. More are using grocery coupons and buying holiday gifts on layaway.

Citigroup to cut more than 50,000 jobs

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Citigroup said Monday it planned to cut more than 50,000 jobs, the latest move by the struggling bank to cut costs in order to weather the credit crisis plaguing Wall Street

Economy sailing into rougher waters

WASHINGTON - The country is sinking deeper into an economic hole, and it's likely to stay there for a while.

That's part of the latest outlook from forecasters in a survey to be released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics, also known as NABE.

Phil Gramm is still defending deregulation.

Robin Griffiths of Cazenove Capital predicts 'Armageddon' if lows don't hold.

And this article reeks of systemic crackup. Every revenue source states depend on is sinking: property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, tourism, corporate taxes. They can't even borrow money. In a Depression, there is no safe haven.

Fewer than a dozen states have remained in the black this fiscal year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning economic research group in Washington that tracks state budgets, and they are largely those in the West with oil and mineral resources at the ready.

“The oil-producing states were doing very well with oil at $120 a barrel,” said Iris Lav, the deputy director of the center. “They may not do as well now.”

States are being forced to cut funding even to sacred cows like K-12 education.

Re: Phil Gramm is still defending deregulation.

Phil Gramm beleived in opening up the taps of free and easy credit and now everyone's taking a scalding bath. Nice quote:

Over the years, he has urged that food stamps be cut because “all our poor people are fat,” said it was hard for him “to feel sorry” for Social Security recipients and, as the economy soured last summer, called America “a nation of whiners.”

I feel real sorry for his constituents who are losing homes, their neighbors who are losing property values, and a whole lot of other people who are indirectly losing their job because of this.

“He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics,” Mr. Donovan said. “To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis.”

Not quite--

now everyone's taking a scalding bath

That is a fascinating article. Not one word is breathed about Government "bailouts" of the distressed banks. UBS (Phil Gramm's sponsor) just took a pile from the Swiss Government. What, really, does "deregulation" mean to these people? Is it just "license to steal" and nothing more?


now everyone *who is not a large bank, finance company, or a target of a government bailout* is taking a scalding bath.

But, good call. Even in the worst of times, someone's prospering off the backs of everyone else.

They believe that they only had to prove their "merit" in the marketplace once, and then they get permanent ruling-caste power. Deregulation was the prelude to feudalism.

I read a fascinating statistic in our local version of Street Roots (an excellent journalistic effort by various homeless advocacy organizations) yesterday: in 1868, half of the State of Oregon's budget went to maintaining the Oregon Hospital for the Lunatic and Insane. (!)

I have no idea about the veracity of that statement, but I do observe that we seem to be devolving into a society that is either in jail, taking care of those in jail, in the hospital, or taking care of those in the hospital.

The past may prove prologue to the future.

probably true. some of the old style mental hospitals were cities unto themselves; 10,000 range. closing them in favor of community mental health[ 70's] was the rights advocates & politicians[looking to cut costs] getting together to pass the legislation needed . it was good re families sometimes abandoning[locking away] kin.

now go inside any sizable homeless shelter, stay there awhile, & u will realize- at least for a no. of residents- u are at one of the way underfunded 'mental hospitals' of today.

community mental health is hurting due to medicare which doesn't provide adequate $ to cover the costs of services needed. no danger of the old model- except maybe a few small dissident cells -coming back due to costs.

And, at least in the UK, the second most common home for the mentally ill is prison.

Of course, it is a circular argument - mental ill health, homelessness, substance abuse, criminality, prison. Which causes which? They all feed off each other.

I don't imagine we know much about the mental health situation in Rome circa 400 AD?

Who else here at TOD has lost his/her job recently beyond myself? (Mine is effective next month, so at least I've got 1.5 months to look for a new job.)

Not gonna name any names, but a couple of TOD staffers are newly unemployed.

Hello Leanan,

I have no idea who is newly unemployed, but if the USGS, IEA, EIA, and DOE can ever spring loose from their current optimistic mindsets, the TopTODers & ASPOites could be hired by these orgs to lead the data investigation, then the generation of more realistic analyses and reports.

If I was Obama: the first thing I would do is to order that the US orgs stop the info-crap so that they are fully geared up to support Peak Outreach and Optimal Overshoot Decline.

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

I hope Obama is Smarter than Yeast.

Truly that sort of comment is the reason I remain glued to the comments section at TOD. It will be delightful to work with you all on powerdown - keep up the hope.

Several mining companies working in Nevada have gone under, and rather suddenly at that. I know, or know of, about a dozen geos looking for work. I am sure there are more, but my circle is pretty small. Several older geos are now "consulting" rather than taking a salary.

My work depends on small Vancouver/Toronto mining companies being able to raise money for gold exploration/development. Raising capital seems to be getting progressively harder (since about second qtr 2007). Pure exploration plays are the most difficult to fund...having some defined ounces and a path to development/mining helps.

Of course the other major industry in Nevada is gambling. Discretionary income is down thus gambling, tourism and recreation is down. I expect to see Nevada and Sierra California ski resorts to be way down this year also. Now all of this is happening while the greatest gamming expo in the world will take place in Vegas next week. Even the casual observer will notice the lack of people in the casinos here in Reno. I would imagine Atlantic City and Indian casinos doing poorly as well.

I had a fixed term contract end at the end of the October. I've known it would happen at that time for 2 years and clearly the end wasn't connected to current economic climate, but if I'd known how bad it was going to get competing with all the other people who've been made unemployed in the UK in the last couple of months, I might have resigned six months ago to have a better chance of getting a new job.

My company went bankrupt in '06 and my job finally dried up last June. That wasn't so bad since I was ready to quit anyway. What was bad was a bankruptcy retrieval action that got me for $3000 of my hard-earned cash. I asked my lawyer why they would go after someone for such a small amount. He sighed and said since the lawyers get paid preferentially out of the bankruptcy trust, they don't care. They will spend $10000 to collect $3000.


Luckily all those useful earnings by the lawyers will be counted towards GDP.

i retired a yr. ago - well sorta [ramping up gardening etc., thankfully]- early due to double caseloads etc.[professional ethics very questionable doing this] & stresses thereof. $ are tight; but that is good to practice these days. since i left there have been major cutbacks.

I haven't lost my job completely but it's dissolving in pieces as they limit the number of classes we're allowed to teach and make classes with more students. Also they give the full time teachers more classes and more students.....

I expect to see the number of students decline and "go off a cliff"---just like retail sales and the stock market. People are not faring well here as the big companies are really tightening their belts and middle-class families won't be able to afford college educations soon.

Recession-proof? Maybe not this time

People are cutting back on things that used to be considered recession-proof: smoking, drinking, entertainment, gambling. Partly because this is shaping up to be a more serious downturn than those past, and partly because companies got greedy and hiked up prices in the good times.

"The first thing to go is cable" - which means a lot of other industries, like sports, will also be affected.

For some of us our cable is our 'net and landline phone too, so no, it's not going voluntarily.

According to the study mentioned in the article, the phone is second to go, after cable.

Okay, then the 'net is third to go, tied with OXYGEN.

There was an article link here a while ago about dealing with losing your job and homelessness that I couldn't tell if it was a satire or not. (Can't find the link.) One of the points was that, for a certain kind of middle class worker, so many jobs are advertised electronically and take electronic applications that keeping some form of net access is better than keeping things like smoking, buying new "non-work clothes", etc, since these don't help you get a new job.

Obviously if things go so bad that we're all looking for work digging ditches internet access probably won't matter. But I've recently bought a wireless internet contract so that if things go bad whilst there are still many white-collar job opportunities I can try and beg a couch to sleep on from friend or family whilst keeping the ability to look for work electronically. Certainly more people are arranging job interviews via email rather than physical mail since I started looking for jobs.

That's true, but you don't necessarily need your own Internet connection. You can borrow a friend's or relative's. Use one at your school or the library. Most job centers offer computer use now, too, and that's what a lot of people seem to be doing when the budget doesn't stretch to cover Internet access.

At just about every "communal" PC I've ever seen has always had a signficant queue for use. Although using them is there as a last resort, my clear thinking goes out of the window when I'm pressured so I prefer writing cover letters, targeting the CV, etc, on my own PC and knowing I can mail them at the end rather than have to queue up to get on the communal PC again. The cost of a mobile contract for mid-range internet use is actually cheaper than the amount I spend on processed drinks (which isn't much), magazines (again not much), and completely dwarfed by the rent I'm paying (which again isn't much compared to many others).

To be concrete, I'm paying 15 GBP per month for mobile internet. Even getting a return bus ticket into the town centre is 3.20 GBP, which makes using a communal PC more than 5 times a month worse.

The big decision was to get lower usage cap but 3G mobile internet rather than a higher usage cap land-line connection for the same cost because I had nightmares of not being able to afford the rent.

I'm not saying internet is something everyone should preserve to the end, but for me there's lots of things that'd go first.

Internet would be one of the last things I give up, too, but for many, it's the first. Some of my friends are already doing it. They'd rather keep their kids' cell phones or the gas-guzzling truck than Internet access.

And I wonder if a lot of people make similar choices, it will affect everyone. Verizon is not going to keep broadband in my area if I'm the only who wants to pay for it.

There is a considerable distinction to be made between the internet and a broad band connection.
Even in the event of the server farms having to run more slowly, surely there mush be huge potential to degrade capability down to the a few kilobits/sec.
In addition, for much of the world the mobile phone is likely to provide internet access, albeit restricted compared to that to which we are presently accustomed.

I think you get the economic effect that modern technology makes maintaining older technology uneconomic so that the difference is between working HSDPA (and often 3G) or nothing at all. The problem I get is being kicked off the network completely rather than the bandwidth dropping.

There are already compressing proxies but they don't accomplish that much unless you're looking at lots of large images (which can be compressed more heavily). From my "computer scientist but not web guy" perspective it seems that lots of AJAX/Web2.0 stuff has lots of stuff that doesn't change but that the HTTP protocol makes difficult to represent this at a fine granularity so there's lots of stuff getting retransmitted that needn't be.

I'm reasonably confident that keeping the internet going will be binary (pun intended): we'll be able to keep cutting edge technology and bandwidths or we won't be able to keep anything working at all.

Cascading failure of the internet (and it's suppliers/users) is what I expect - because of the simplicity at point of use most people don't realise how complicated it is, and complicated things fail unpredictably, trust me, I've made a living from it!

I went into a Subway yesterday to get something to eat - delays to building my sub 'cos the server was down - many 'just-in-time' systems can rapidly become 'just-too-late' ... in the UK that is just about every supermarket, shop, petrol station, bank, power station ... and on and on ... the net links almost EVERYTHING of importance (worldwide), failure of it is considered a 'black swan' - it's designed/built for a different task to what it is currently being used for.

It was only 10 years ago you would have had a leased copper dataline from BT with 'kilostream' or 'megastream' modem supplied. They cost a lot, but thats how business's get creamed. If internet secure links become unreliable, fixed links will return.

My point is that the links do become unreliable - as an example I would use this site, in the last year it became VERY unreliable - the answer was to 'build a bigger stone head'. The implication is that the internet is not as stable as expected by all the people who tell you what a fantastic thing the internet is and base their livelyhood around it.

When you add grains of sand to a pile you get the occasional small avalanche but sometimes it is overwhelming - this is not a predictable event, it is a simple example of how some parts of the world work.

Another thing that isn't predictable is investment in new oil wells - that means that future use of oil is completely unpredictable, don't waste your time deeply analysing the IEA WEO 2008 report, they can't predict the future any more than you or I.

Use yor limited time to make flexible plans for what you will do when the inevitable impact of peak oil arrives - the historical data says that is about now.

Whether it is the final peak only time will tell, but it is a peak, whether it is a symptom or a cause the peaking implies unexpected adverse economic change.

There are many solution for broadband, and some can be reasonably effective even in low-penetration or low-density areas. They may not all be as fast or glitzy as 3G, and certainly the pace of innovation will slow, but the technology will persist.

Note that equipment obsolescence is a bane of today's providers, especially traditional providers like VZ who once amortized voice switches over 30 years. Cellular generations live less than 5 years.

As customers drop back on service needs, equipment replacement will slow, then stop, then regress. Operations concerns will dig in after capital concerns have been addressed, and a harsh focus on ROI for each service will apply.

Some bright spots: low-speed DSL works over quite long distances over existing copper wires, and small, outside-plant (OSP) housings are fairly cheap and easy to install (compared to neighborhood fiber or even big pad-mounted cabinets that take all sorts of local zoning approvals).

There are range-extending technologies such as low-speed pair-bonding that make perfectly good sense to backhaul data from such OSP devices even for neglected areas that have only ancient copper pairs. They've been good for decades, and they'll slowly fail, but until they do they can deliver data services reasonably well. When they do fail the local company and choose to retrench for fiber instead of replacing copper, and probably find it a reasonable expense to bear.

New video-band broadcast-band technologies using the to-be-free analog TV bands are coming that will address low-density needs about as well as TV does today. Sure, you'll share bandwidth with too many peers, but at least you'll have some.

Denser rural areas will have it a bit easier, since the customer base for any service hits critical mass with a smaller geographical area.

Telecom was cost-justified to some degree ever since the telegraph, and the Internet won't go away. It'll just slow down and morph where needed, much like any other "surviving" business will. Probably a lot of people will clamor for "basic voice plus data" at $29.99 instead of premium data, voice, and video for $100 per month though.

"low-speed DSL works over quite long distances over existing copper wires,"

The provider here and the only one, says that 2.5 miles over coppper is the limit. I know the tech personally,his brother married my cousin, and have worked with him a bit so I believe him.

The carrier prefer to pick the lowhanging fruit and disregard the more scattered people. Well in the country we don't always have that kind of density so only the small towns get the broadband.

Yes...802.11g is around but trees just don't let it go where you want it to. I have spent a lot of time trying that approach. I have even built my own yagi arrays. Just not possible given most terrain(non-desert).

So vast areas are not given much but some very very poorly maintained dialup.

Right now I use EVDO and get even less than good dial speeds but it works ,except for continual disconnects,,I suspect because they shed a lot when the voice users need the bandwidth.

Every provider seems to think that you can just knock down net subscribers and they will never figure it out.

I think they also send some type of ICMP signal to test your setup and if they get even a slighty poor response they simply disconnect. This way they can carry far more subscribers than they have bandwidth for. Thus keeping capital costs lower. Besides they sell broadband and if they can force dialup users to switch then they make more profit or charge far more and don't have to keep messing with rack modems.

Its mostly a cutthroat game. I used to do remote maintence of some servers for a dialup provider who went to satellite broadband but kept the dialup(for promised backup when sats were down due to weather,etc)..and they pretty much totally disregarded the background static from the dialup users.

In fact each morning they would automatically disconnect all of them to shed ones who were logged on but sleeping , even though they were paying for 24 hr dialup access.


In Venezuela you can always go to a cyber cafe. The cost is roughly equivalent to 1 large coffe per hour, and normally you don´t have to wait. There´s roughly 1 cafe for eavery 8 buildings in Caracas.

The weird thing is that I know my neightbors, and lots of them have comuters at home. They go to the cyber because it has a printer, or photocopier, or microphone and video camera, or a fast connection, or the computer is fast enough to play video games.

Here getting good computer equipment is difficult. What there is is expensive, and my husband (works in computation) says that you just can´t get the top of the line stuff (servers, switches, routers, processors, motherboards, chips, no se que....). Even basic stuff is often sold out. Has anyone else any difficulty in getting reasonable or top qualtiy computer stuff?

Thanks, interesting info.

I read an article awhile back about how in Japan, the unemployed often spend the night at cybercafes. Renting a cubicle by the hour in a cybercafe is cheaper than an apartment or hotel room, and of course, you get use of a nice computer with it.

I haven't heard about any problem getting good computer equipment here in the US. As long as you're willing to pay...which many people aren't.

We don't need cigarettes and alcohol.

We need PUPPY CAM!


Best hopes for keeping ourselves amused in the ruins.


I wondered - yup - same puppy cam
on Dave Winer's site ;)

We have cable internet and telephone, but not cable television.

Has me wondering how many 'essentials' that people don't put on as high a priority- are also taking a hit. Dental Visits, Car Maintenance, Retirement Payments .. all those ounces of prevention that REALLY should be getting an investment now. Just to keep the fridge, car and boiler fed, mortgage/rent paid.

So much for the assumption on the article you posted yesterday about people staying home this depression and just watching tv. then again, he never explained how out of work people would be able to keep all those things.

Particularly now that we're on the last straightaway before having to buy these digital converters.

I wonder if there's going to be a video-underground revolution with old analog signals, once the old transmitters start showing up on the swap markets..

Grin, one of the things I scored a few years back, and I am really glad I have it, is an FM exciter. Digital, so I can operate on any channel, or switch daily. 5 watt output will actually cover my little community except for some dead spots. When it hits I'm not much worried about the FCC, I can run the exciter off the PV and our little community will at least have a voice maybe once a day. Nurse the batteries in little FM radios and we can go quite some time. It might just make a difference locally.
Voice of the people.

Don in Maine

I think they'll still be watching TV. Just not cable.

Maybe it will be the resurgence of network television?

Citigroup to cut more than 50,000 jobs

Like most corporations, they cut the wrong jobs. They cut those who make below the $100k mark. So to make up for the shortfall you have to cut a lot of those jobs.

Now if they started at the top and cut the 10 highest paid employees, they could still employ 49,990 people.

The "corporation" didn't make the cuts - those top ten guys did. Thus their decision:
"When the elephants wrestle, it's the grass that gets trampled."

I like that analogy :)

Great. Everyone is stealing my best gimmicks.

Maybe this was already discussed, or was covered up top on another drumbeat.

I found this sort of interesting.


watch the video and try to follow their unshakable logic.
Seems kind of pathetic that they create a Youtube video to encourage politcal action.

Youtube videos will probably become one of the primary sources of political propaganda in the future.

It is mentioned (and linked) over at Automatic Earth

I'm amazed that such massive amounts of labor and money are invested in 4 wheeled, gas guzzling and global warming pieces of equipment. I'd like to see a few stats on their video saying something like "$1.2 Trillion spent in Iraq and around the world to secure fuel for our vehicles" or "2 billion metic tons of CO2 emitted from our vehicles every year". That'd be truth....

Instead of sending GM's form letter to your congressperson send him or her this link instead with an explicit request that Automakers not be bailed out under any circumstance whatsoever.


Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

Denali Denial, 2006

Depicts 24,000 logos from the GMC Yukon Denali, equal to six weeks of sales of that model SUV in 2004.

Valve Caps, 2006
10x25 feet in five vertical panels

Depicts 3.6 million tire valve caps, one for each new SUV sold in the US in 2004.

Of the Windturbines ('Drums'!) on the Times Square 'RICOH' sign..

PacWind studied meteorological records and did a wind analysis, she said, determining that Times Square has 10-mile-an-hour winds, on average, ranging from no wind to gusts of 85 m.p.h. The turbines provide usable power from winds as weak as 5 m.p.h. and rotate safely in winds up to 100 m.p.h., she said, because the aluminum blades are aerodynamically designed to regulate themselves, slowing automatically in high winds.

This is one of my principal attractions towards vertical wind turbines, not only that they operate in directionally turbulent conditions, but also in a wide range of windspeeds. While their wattage per 'swept area' is lower than traditional impellers, it would seem that they would fill a useful niche as a multitude of smallscale, durable, and cheaper to build, install and maintain units (in theory, but reasonable due principally to shorter towers..).

I like the idea of no battery backup. For things like that, there's really no need for backup. Let it go dark if there's not enough sun or wind.

Um, not quite.

When there’s no sun, and no wind? The $3 million billboard goes dark: there is no backup generator...

...Unlike the tall propellers in a typical wind farm, the cylindrical Ricoh drum turbines have no sharp blades. They will provide 90 percent of the sign’s power; the rest will come from the solar panels on the sign, feeding electricity to eight collection batteries up in the sign...

...Mr. Potesky said the turbines would most likely generate enough power to keep the sign lighted even after four days without wind or sun. But the company is prepared for the sign to go dark...

Another downside of vertical axis turbines is high maintenance costs - this orientation causes higher wear on bearings.

Do you mean more Maint on Horizontals? The torque forces, rotation speeds (relative to Turbine weight) and simply number of bearings is less in the Verticals. Similarly, the forces on the blades and the towers of Horizontals is very high. Verticals have tip-speeds (albeit no tips) that are within one or two times the wind speed, while HAWTs (Horiz Axis Wind Turbines) push their aerodynamic surfaces at a much higher Tip Speed, and hence, more material degradation.

You get less power from VAWT's, but possibly more of them can endure extreme weather events.. a contingency I think we must keep in mind, especially since we will be needing power DURING extreme weather events, and this might be where some of it can be coming from..

If a vertical axis turbine has only a single hub, with the blades typically extending above, there is significant torque whose axis is perpendicular to the axis of rotation. A horizontal turbine will mainly get such torques from wind stress differences between blades, mostly due to lower wind speeds on the downward blades. A horizontal axis turbine, that doesn't point directly toward/away from the wind direction will also experience offaxis torque, but the moment arm is much shorter.

I don't understand why I've never seen a pic of a vertical-axis turbine that was guyed to the ground. Wouldn't that eliminate most of the torque on the hub? Sure, it would take more real estate, and maybe a spreader at the top to clear the blades, but the added cost of installing guy lines looks minimal to me.

The VAWT designs at PAC Wind ( http://www.pacwind.net/ mentioned in the article) appear to be either double bearings or centered bearings, and don't have to handle the 90degree angle forces of the 'yaw' bearings on horiz mills, which I understand is considerable even when the turbine is oriented on-axis to the wind, due to the drag of the generator extracting power from the revolving blade.

I don't oppose HAWT's.. but am interested to see where the advantages of Verticals will give them more attention, as priorities, costs and needs change. (Concrete, Fiberglass Composite and Crane requirements/costs/availability, for example)

Pretty and Pretty Tough Verticals

VAWT & PV Streetlights in Japan..

HAWTs and PVs for streetlights..


jokuhl -

Typically, in the early stages of the development of a particular area of technology there is a wide range of design concepts and many different physical configurations. Then as that technology matures, the general physical configuration tends to converge toward some norm, a norm that usually represents a compromise between various pros and cons.

For example, in the early days of aviation, there was a bewildering array of designs, many quite bizarre. Then within a decade or so the basic configuration of the typical airplane settled into the familiar one having the engine and propeller in front, a large lifting surface centered about a third the way from the front, and a tail section for control.

So, too has it been with the development of commercial wind turbines. When serious work on wind turbines was getting off the ground (so to speak) in the 1970s, many different configurations were under consideration, including several variations of the vertical-axis turbine. After all the technical and economic considerations had been sorted out and real-world operating experience acquired, the now familiar horizontal-axis turbine with three thin blades has essentially become the standard design for large wind turbines.

Having said that, I would agree that niche applications are a whole other animal, and when considering small-scale wind power, absolute conversion efficiency is but one of many design considerations. Engineers sometimes tend to lose sight of the fact that efficiency and effectiveness are not necessarily the same thing.

I don't expect VAWT's to challenge large scale Turbines, but their low-noise/vibration, low-maintenance operation could give them a serious edge for rooftop mounting, for example. While this would be inappropriate for a great many houses, I know WE get reliable onshore and offshore winds, with a hilly exposure.. but a tight-packed neighborhood, too.

I'll report in when I get mine up there and see if it actually puts out..

Thinking about which planes 'won out', I look at the average vanilla Cessna powerplant and see a design that rests smugly unperfected in the glow of oil's overabundance of power. Regardless, I'll always want to have my own Sopwith Camel or Spitfire!


I know there are a number of avid cyclists reading here. For us... there is a small bit of good news today...


Some commercials out lately are satirizing cyclists (FreeCredit, Shell ect) and even one from CSX ridiculing how dumb it would be to move big loads with a bike. http://www.cyclelicio.us/2008/10/csx-trains-and-bicycle-trailers.html

Something interesting with the psyche here. Don't they know that this is already how much of the world literally gets it's people and goods moved? U.S. is likely to have to make more of those short haul runs work for urban and suburbian deliveries soon too, not so?

There are a few here with extensive direct experience. Also check out China, The Netherlands, India, Africa....

indeed, check out China: The World: Banished Bicycles; China's Car Culture Hits Some Potholes

IT as a milestone of sorts when Shanghai, China's biggest city, banned bicycles on its largest avenues last month, but also a belated acknowledgment of a change that has already transformed many large cities in China. Bicycles have gone from carrying more than 70 percent of travelers in Shanghai as recently as 1990 to from 15 to 17 percent now, according to the Shanghai Urban Planning Bureau.

China's four-wheeled future is on gleaming display at Shanghai's auto dealerships....

Lewis Carrol was way ahead of his time in his modern world, but Alice and the Red Queen would have a field day with our modern world!

Yeah who would have thought $2 U.S. gas and consumption swirling downward.

Still China has the capability of cutting back from it's 2 1/2 crude barrel per person yearly pretty quickly http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=avaSjH0.wGXs if need be IMO while we struggle to keep it down to 25.

Traveled around there last year to a bunch of cities and the bike use is impressive. Beijing, Wuxi, and others still lots more bikes than cars. Yeah Shanghai traffic was insane. I've driven lots of places but there, no way!

I saw operational wood fired yam ovens with at least 100 yams on board headed to feed noontime factory workers, whole mobile shoe shops, big concrete core drilling rigs capable to at least 10 diam., water delivery, construction materials, produce, all the ususual stuff and all on bikes powered by men and women young and old alike.

Thought I saw something about some reversals on the bike ban due to the downturn too, googlin'....
Bike sharing program launched in Shanghai

Big money and auto makers in Shanghai tending to push the poorer folks out but maybe they're looking for some middle ground.

NAMASTE solar in Boulder, Colorado delivers their solar panels to the work site with bicyles.

In Portland I'm seeing more of these type of carts being pulled around by the day. Some are store bought, but many seem to be homemade. A self-sufficiency movement is definitely growing here among the youth. Lots of people interested in gardening, building/repairing their own bikes, etc. I count myself among them.

Interesting story on Bloomberg

Soybeans, Corn Gain as U.S. Farmer Withhold Sales on Low Prices

"Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Soybeans and corn extended gains on speculation that U.S. farmers, the world's biggest growers and exporters, are withholding newly harvested supplies after prices tumbled to more than one-year lows"

It's the trader's thought but it is the same tactic as OPEC is currently negotiating. In the decades past, attempts by farmers to limit or withhold supply have been unsuccessful in counteracting low prices. Too large and independent a group. The difference this time around is low world supplies.

I think the wait for an even better price last winter helped drive already high prices to their almost stratospheric peaks.

Farmers storing their own grains.

I recently assisted technically on the construction of 3 very large 'on he ground' storage rings for my farmer friend who I do occasional work for depending on the season, which is now about over.

This gives him an easy low cost storage of about 17,000 bu per ring.
He very studiously keep very close track on the CBOT and has consulting firms who advise him as well.

Another close by farmer/operator just built a 600,000 set of bins that are top of the line. He might even set up his own barge loading facility in the near future ,unless.....!

So from what I see , yes farmers are taking matters in their own hands. The 'basis' hurts them quite a bit and the trucking costs are not trivial. They make their own contracts thru firms and can easily bypass the big grain corporations if they farm enough acres.

Ethanol doesn't even get mentioned anymore. Its a totally dead issue around here. In the future a lot of corn acres may go to far more soybean acres. The inputs are still going up and so the prices will follow. Farmers will NOT lose money anymore,,not if they can do anything to help it.

I fear that future farming may be very very destructive to nature. It already has in that last spring and summer everywhere I looked I saw burning dozer pushup piles of trees. All fences are coming down. Ponds being drained. All for grain,grain,grain.

Its not good. It means that farmers are now just businessmen. Most buy all their food at WalMart. They are not really farmers IMO. They just like to be called that for protective camouflage.


It means that farmers are now just businessmen.

?? You run an economy which forces them to think that way or loose their land, then complain because they do?

Airdale didn't run this economy.. he has every right to decry another contorted and depleted profession.

For a farmer to have to forsake so much of the basic self-sufficiency that the trade once boasted is to put them in the same vulnerable position as any JIT-inventory Big Box store, or a household that has no energy storage, no internal food supply, little or no savings, and only the faintest memory of the skills to keep the place in working order.

The top link: A Peak-Oiler, but still in the closet? IEA’s 2008 Report is quite interesting. I found this report, published a few days ago in The Wall Street Journal: IEA Says Fading Oil Production Threatens Supply It is behind a pay wall but if you do a http://news.google.com/ search on the title "IEA Says Fading Oil Production Threatens Supply" you can find the entire story free, having the exact same URL. I don't understand that but it works.

Anyway this story takes a graph from the IEA's 2008 Report. The graph shows production from the world's 20 largest oil fields, at their peak. It does not give each field but only the country. They are located in 9 different countries. It shows Saudi Arabia's largest fields having just over 9 million barrels per day at their peak, and today they produce just under 8 million barrels per day. These fields are probably Ghawar, Safaniya, Abqaiq and Berry. These four fields, though they peaked in different years, totaled 9.14 mb/d if you total all peaks. At any rate, according to the IEA, the output from these giant fields has fallen about 1.5 mb/d since their peak.

Russia's giant fields, according to this report, fared far worse. Eyeballing the chart, Russia's giant fields totalled about 8 mb/d at their peak and are now producing about 2.5 mb/d. And the entire 20 largest fields produced just a tad over 30 mb/d at peak and are now producing about 19 mb/d.

So the IEA is aware that the world's 20 largest fields are now in decline. That should give them a hint that the world is likely in decline. And the story contains this line:

The world will have to invest $26.3 trillion by 2030, or more than $1 trillion a year, to ensure adequate energy supplies, the IEA said. That is $4 trillion more than its year-earlier estimate.

Over a trillion dollars per year! That is not happening right now and probably never will. The point is, I think the IEA is well aware of the situation but just working up an excuse for when it becomes obvious oil has peaked. "Not enough investment!"

Ron Patterson

Nah, figuring that you can build an ethanol refinery for about, I don't know $3.00, or $4.00 gal/annualized for cellulosic, $2.00 annualized for corn, probably about the same for sugar cane/sweet sorghum, A little less, maybe, for biodiesel, even figuring the top number $4.00/annualized gallon you're talking less than a Trillion Dollars to supply all of our (the U.S.') gasoline needs. Probably less than $1.5 Trillion to meet our demand for Diesel, And Gasoline.

Kdolliso, what an absurd reply. First the 1 trillion was for exploration and development worldwide. Do you have any concept of what 1 trillion dollars is? Obviously not.

When you add in the idiotic ethanol mandates, you compound the problem. Graham points out that, “After thirty years, U.S. ethanol production was only able to produce less than 3% of our oil demand last year.” Moreover, “ethanol cost taxpayers $3.3 billion in subsidies in 2007.” Turning Boom into Bust

A trillion is one thousand billion or one million million. The US subsidized ethanol to the tune of 3.3 billion in order to produce 3% of our oil needs. A trillion would be 300 times that amount. And if industry and the government did spend such an absurd amount on ethanol development, then they could turn every arable acre into ethanol crops and still not have enough ethanol. Plus the nation would starve because we would produce no food.

How Much Is A Trillion? A stack of $1,000 bills stacked 67.9 miles high would equal one trillion dollars.

Ron Patterson

Yeah, and we spent $170 Billion in the Middle East. How does that compare to 3.3 Billion?

You might want to ask yourself how much that 700,000 Barrels of Ethanol/Day is knocking down the price of gasoline. If it was $0.50/gal, like many believe, that would be what? About $180,000,000.00 every day? Approx. $70 Billion/Yr?

And, BTW, what's it worth to have that 11.1 Billion Gallons/Yr that we're currently producing at $1.70/Gal = $19.9 Billion going to American farmers, and refinery workers rather than Middle Eastern Princes, and Poobahs?

You might want to ask yourself how much that 700,000 Barrels of Ethanol/Day is knocking down the price of gasoline.

You exaggerate, the figure is 423,000 barrels per day: 2007 final ethanol production and demand That is about 4.5 percent of total gasoline use. But it is driving prices up, not down. And if it were 700,000 barrels per day gasoline would be even higher.

Because a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, the production cost of ethanol must be multiplied by a factor of 1.5 to make an energy-cost comparison with gasoline. This means that if ethanol costs $1.10 per gallon to produce, then the effective cost per gallon to equal the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline is $1.65.
Biomass Energy: Cost of Production

That is the cost to produce a gallon of ethanol as compared to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. The wholesale price, if the producers are to make any money, would have to be about 15 percent higher, or about $1.90 per gallon. Wholesale gasoline closed today at $1.17 per gallon. Bloomberg energy prices This means where ethanol is mandated it is driving the price of gasoline up, not down.

One more point Kodlliso, it is customary on this list to provide links to your claims. Things are not accepted simply because you say so.

Ron Patterson

I suppose it's also customary to use information that is, at least, somewhat, up to date. CURRENT (Not, 2007) Ethanol Production It's a tad bit Over 700,000 Barrels/Day.

Ethanol has an Octane Rating of 115 vs Gasoline's 84.5. Thus, with proper compression it can give up the extra btu content, and still get the work done. (admittedly, 87 Octane E10 doesn't; but that's because the oil company has removed the Isooctane, and other octane enhancers that brought the original blend up to 87. As a result you're losing some btus, but not picking up any extra octane.) We'll solve that when we go to E20, and E30.

Ethanol closed today at $1.69/Gallon. After the Blenders' Credit that puts the "wholesale" price at $1.18/gal. The thing is: Do you suppose the price of gasoline will Stay this low? Ethanol might.

But, the Real Question is: How much is the loss of 700,000 bpd of Gasloline Deman affecting the price of gasoline?

Kdolliso, nothing in your link indicates 2008 ethanol production will be 700,000 barrels per day. Please copy and paste the sentence that says that.

Octane is not energy content. Any fool knows better than that. Why are you trying to slip that one by us. Do you think we are fools?

Blending credit is a direct tax subsidy. The cost of ethanol, before the tax subsidy is still $1.69 a gallon. That is the figure you must work with because that is the true cost. Taxpayer help don't count.

Ron, my link give Current Capacity. I know of no ehtanol plants that are currently operating below capacity. If you know of any let us know.

Also, we know that btu content is not the be-all/end-all of a fuel. The important thing is "how much Work can it do?" What are the "Practical" limits? Crude Oil has a lot of btus, but you can't burn it in an internal combustion engine. Gasoline has a lot of btus, but it has a tendency to predetonate under too much compression, which means that it's limited in the power that it can produce per btu. Ethanol, on the other hand, while lower in btus, can stand much more compression. This means you can extract much more power per btu. Currently, most of our engines are optimized for the low-power option; but, as newer, more advanced engines come online the higher-octane ethanol will be able to deliver more, and more power.

The cost of ethanol, before the tax subsidy is still $1.69 a gallon. That is the figure you must work with because that is the true cost. Taxpayer help don't count.

Fine; now, how do I calculate the Hundreds of Billions of Dollars of "Indirect Subsidies" we give to oil every year?

Ksolliao, I just asked you to cut and paste the sentence that states that production of ethanol in 2008 was 700,000 barrels per day, that is all. You did not and obviously cannot. Nuff said.

How much work can it do? No, the question is how many miles per gallon from a gallon of ethanol verses how many miles per gallon from gasoline: Oregon's ethanol requirement lowers vehicles' miles per gallon Oregon's drivers have figured out that their ethanol requirements is costing them money, a lot of money, and they are pissed!

Bang per gallon: At 75,670 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) per gallon, ethanol has 66 percent of the energy-creating power of gasoline, which has 115,400 BTUs per gallon.

As for the "Indirect Subsidies" we give to oil every year, that has virtually no affect on the world price of oil. You are trying to mix apples with oranges. I am all for cutting out completely all tax breaks for oil companies but I fully realize that will have absolutely no affect on the price of oil. Surely you know that as well. Oil companies are local but the oil crisis is global.

Ron Patterson

Ron, from your Link:

If ethanol's contribution to the country's overall fuel supply is taken into account, the savings are larger -- between 29 and 40 cents a gallon -- say researchers at Iowa State University. Ethanol currently accounts for about 6 percent of U.S. fuel supplies. If it were pulled from the mix, demand for gasoline would spike and so would prices, these researchers concluded.

Ron, on a more practical note, I noticed that when we first got E10, here, my mileage went down pretty good, and my engine ran a little rough. The computer said O2 sensor, but I decided to wait a few days. The mileage came back, and the engine smoothed back out. I think I was flushing a little junk out of the fuel lines. Anyway, now everything is hunky-dory.

BTW, I found I'm saving a few bucks by going to 89 Octane. The couple of extra octane points seems to make up for the lost btus, and I'm getting about 10% better mileage. Since the 89 Octane only costs about 5% extra I'm coming out ahead.

Hello Kdolliso,

Just in case you missed this link I posted over a week ago:

Urea tanks on diesel trucks -- that's the law in the United States starting in 2010

Automotive grade of world's most widely used nitrogen fertilizer used to meet new US environmental regulations to cut air pollution
This might just push marginal demand for urea and liquid anhydrous ammonia high enough to finally make corn ethanol economics unviable.

Sadly, the use of urea for diesel is silly, as companies such as Honda have developed plasma systems that accomplish the same task without any additional physical input. (Increased drain on the alternator, however.)

Yeah, I saw that Toto. I haven't read up on it, though. Off the top of my head I can't see it having much effect on ethanol.

Interestingly enough, many farmers are finding they're getting better yields when they cut back some on nitrogen.

The world will have to invest $26.3 trillion by 2030, or more than $1 trillion a year, to ensure adequate energy supplies, the IEA said. That is $4 trillion more than its year-earlier estimate.

Drill, baby, drill.

I think that the $1T/year would be better invested in energy conservation technologies and alternate energy sources like photovoltaics, wind and ocean current energy, and other energy.

Now this is what I call demand destruction...

HA, that is hilarious. I might have to change that to my Avatar on some other sites. :)

Reminds me of Taleb's turkey's forcast prior to Thanksgiving. Each day confirms that I am doing fine.

I think of the few turkeys that get to make it through to the next year so there can be another thanksgiving turkey feast, if they are sensible they use their experience (actually, mostly due to luck) and don't automatically assume the farmer is coming with yet another free lunch day after day and modify thier actions appropriately.

Experience tells us that there is no such thing as a free lunch - 2nd law of thermodynamics - if something looks too good to be true it probbably is. Why does the government think giving banks and auto makers a free lunch will work, somebody has to pay?

Someone on TOD masthead must be rail savvy, but so far, it's a secret.

One gets bone-weary with multiple futile attempts to get a robust dialogue going on the railway mode, as key element in the Oil Interregnum solution set, or "plan B". Oil Peaking is certainly in the strategic thinking processes of Russia & China, Asian and African and South American countries. We know also, that $Trillion railway expansion is part of the Peak Oil worklist in places mentioned. Mexico! is now building North America's first High Speed Rail system... So much for "third world" countries.

In the off chance that the "Elect" may not be whisked off the earth before the Peaking Oil impacts are truly felt, Republican base should consider working with America's new administration when discussion of railway mode rehab & expansion gets on the table.

This writer reads the RSV on occasion, and noted Daniel 4, V. 15 some decades ago... Is the US is, or is the US ain't, alluded to, in the scriptures? GOP religious base, what about it? Does Daniel 4 also describe the USA's role (and reduced circumstances)in the world? What about bands of iron preventing complete destruction in the time of trial? This current situation must qualify!

Please forgive the bible thumping, but many closet TOD readers have the idea that they are somehow immune from Peaking Oil and resultant economic doings. They will come around when gas is rationed and vehicle parts too, run short...

An American promoting railways -see (peakoil.net) articles 374 & 1037-, takes some encouragement from the $Trillion Parallel Bar Therapy action taking place off shore! Here, in the land of apple pie and Chevies, the ongoing railway rehab & extension is below the radar, mostly. One must suppress a smile upon hearing about what the Honorable Sarah of Alaska did with some of the "Bridge To Nowhere" money she spurned: some of those $$ went to work on the Railroad! Hmmm. She's a sly chick.

The books for the USA railway discussion include "ELECTRIC WATER" by Christopher C. Swan, and Jim Kunstler's webpage & book "The Long Emergency" include constant comment on the railway rehab. Newspaper columnists following the infrastructure saga and wishing knowledgeable dissertation on the crucial need for renewable powered railways can add Richard Heinberg, of Sebastopol, CA, to your list, try thru postcarbondotorg.

As for Boone Pickens and his fleet of natural gas trucks, certainly putting GM to work on that order would help. But what about putting the General back to building locomotives & railcars like they did for over 50 years? BP corp, see the US Rail Map Atlas volumes for the USA: (spv.co.uk)... PickensPlan "Army" has some railway savvy members, and they can help the grand old man of oil flesh out his infrastructure more holisticly.

Someone, e-mail this to Rahm Emanuel, please.

But what about putting the General back to building locomotives & railcars like they did for over 50 years?

Maybe nobody wants locomotives and railcars that fall apart after 80,000 miles. ;-)

We have AlanFromBigEasy as our resident rail advocate. As for the TOD staff, I don't think anyone's against rail, but after Stuart's number-crunching, it doesn't seem like rail would really make much difference.

We have AlanFromBigEasy as our resident rail advocate. As for the TOD staff, I don't think anyone's against rail, but after Stuart's number-crunching, it doesn't seem like rail would really make much difference.

It should also be noted that Alan strongly disagreed with Stuarts number crunching in the comments thread.

By the way has anyone seen californa's high speed initiative site yet, cool stuff:


And IMO, one of Alan's strongest points is that we did it before, from about 1890 to 1916, with minimal oil input.

I am not much of an advocate of rail, especially the electrified, high speed rail that would mostly serve a city and its suburbs. First, they would take a lot of resources and time to build. Perhaps we could get a reasonable number of them built by 2020, if we could get the money to finance them from somewhere (not too likely). I believe this is Alan's big interest.

The problem I see is that by 2020, there is a serious chance that we would be running into problems that would make our new trains inoperable. I expect electricity problems will occur at approximately the same time as oil problems. I expect that international trade will become more disrupted quickly. We are likely to need replacement parts very soon after the trains start operating. Will we still be able to import them? There is also the question of whether we will need/want electric trains to transport people to a large number of jobs in the central city at that time. I expect to see a lot of financial jobs going away quickly. Also, will millions of people want to live in a major city, if there isn't electricity, water for high rise buildings, and sewer systems available?

Trains might be OK if they were low tech trains that were completely manufactured here using only products that are likely to be available for many years, and ran on a variety of local fuels (or maybe just coal and biomass). Also, their primary purpose would be long-distance transportation, in locations where boat transportation was not feasible. I doubt anyone would sponsor this kind of trains, however.

Alan advocates rail for freight and commuting, not high speed rail as you suggest.

I am at a loss to understand why you should feel that rail would not be buildable, as the present network was built at a a time when almost no oil was used, and constructed by people who were relatively poor and glad of a job using pick and shovel to construct lines.
This would seem to describe the possible future stare of society rather well, and plenty of steel should be available from abandoned SUV's.
Coal could always be used instead of electricity if we had to - after all, we know how to do this.
And if parts to keep railway engines running could be built in the 1860's, why should it be imagined that this is no longer possible, even if manufacturing capability is below it's peak?

What is your rationale for assuming that all of this will suddenly become impossible?
If it is purely financial, as there seem to be no technical grounds at all for assuming that it can't be done, why is the caveat not entered that many countries with stronger financial positions than the US, such as China, should be able to do it without great difficulty?

No sure why, but for me your "Stuart's number-crunching" link doesn't go anywhere near a discussion of rail.

It's not a discussion of rail per se. It's an argument that improving auto efficiency is the only thing that can make a difference in the US.

i scanned the thread; if it doesn't discuss rail; how can it argue that , "improving auto efficiency is the 'ONLY' thing that can make a difference in the US".

i believe rail is one of the 'only' things that can keep us out of a very 'dark' age in the US. i think we'll do rail; probably under very strained circumstances- at least regional runs.

He calls it "mass transit."

There's more detailed discussion of mass transit in these threads:

Why We Drive

A few more transit stats

It was sort of a series that Stuart did, and looking back, I can see how it wouldn't be obvious just reading the last one.

Electric rail will benefit greatly as the electric grid is updated to be able to service all the plug-in cars that are coming down the pike (no pun intended).

Here's a link to Alan Drake's TOD electric rail article. Also posed as a silver BB...very important qualification in my mind.


Hello TODers,

Some nitrogen urea products use melamine coatings to reduce nitrogen vaporization and leaching rates:

Melamine Is More Prevalent Than You Think

It's Not Just in Chinese Candy. Have You Ingested More of the Industrial Chemical Than You Know?

..But this article points out that Americans are ignoring the fact that we have our own melamine problems...Melamine is also added to fertilizer, tainting soil.


High strength melamine-urea fertilizer granules

..All of these nitrogen fertilizer materials; ammonia, ammonium nitrate and urea, are readily soluble in water. They are therefore subject to leaching, and their use results in a rapid release of their nitrogen. Since this necessitates repeated applications for sustained growth, or one application with higher leaching losses, there have been many developments relating to slow release nitrogen fertilizer materials. Generally such materials sacrifice nitrogen content for some degree of control over nitrogen availability.

Melamine and its hydrolysis products, ammeline, ammelide, and cyanuric acid, have often been considered as potential sources of nitrogen for incorporation in fertilizer compositions or for utilization as nitrogen sources per se. Melamine with 66.6% N would provide substantial amounts of nitrogen.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

As always, I get a kick out of JHK's weekly warning rant:

..The fiasco of medical care is certainly a product of connivance between greedy and heartless insurance companies, profit-driven hospitals, and avaricious drug-makers. But the public itself is responsible for its own suicidal diet of double cheez burritos and Dr. Pepper. How about a national health-care system with one basic requirement: to qualify, participants must be within ten pounds of their appropriate weight. Pretty harsh, huh? Maybe. But times are harsh too, and bound to get harsher. This system would have the great advantage of being absolutely clear. Let the United Way and other charities devote their resources to educating the recklessly obese about diet and exercise so they can eventually qualify.
IMO, this would cause a stampede of obese protests nearly everywhere. Of course, they would drive to the protest site instead of riding their bicycles. Full Disclosure: I am 6'5" & 190 lbs [same build as O B Laden], but I struggle with a smoking addiction--> my heart goes out to those with weight problems as this must be much, much worse because food is everywhere!

What if animals were obese?:

20 ton giraffe?

Phil Gramm hears ya. He wanted to cut food stamps. Here's a quote from that speech:

“We’re the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat.” — Gramm, 9/6/81

I don't agree so much with him, but I think that we forget to eat things like fruit, vegetables, and whole grained foods and forget to cut back on meat, fats and sugars. It's an intake problem; even the proportions have gotten bigger over time... For those of you older folks, think of what a plate of restaurant food looked like 30 years ago and what it looks like today. Big difference. And think of all the energy that goes into these larger proportions, the extra food that must be planted, the extra livestock that must be fed...

And here's a great example...

Is there a source for interstate traffic of oil? I'm trying to figure out how much is shipped from Valdez to Anacortes/Portland/Richmond/etc., but the EIA only tracks data cross-PADD plus Domestic Received by Tanker in PADD overall. CA's Oil / Petroleum Statistics looks to have copious information in this regard for in-state shipments, but I'm primarily interested in supply for the PNW.

What do you think of THIS?

Europe's $14 Billion Clean-Coal Proposal May Go Up in Smoke


Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- A European proposal to spend 11 billion euros ($14 billion) testing how to pump greenhouse gases underground is itself getting buried.


Climate Plan

The proposal is part of a larger EU climate and energy bill that has yet to be approved by the entire parliament or by member states. Germany, Spain and other European nations with the largest populations have extra votes, meaning they could force the research plan to be dropped from the overall legislation.


Not to have clean coal ``as part of the equation means that we will fail utterly, hopelessly and completely to tackle the problem of global-warming emissions,'' Davies said.

Game beware: it's the return of the poacher
Just go to show that as times go bad, people will make it even worse in the long term for a quick buck.

Some people say that the current downturn is good for the environment, because it limits production, but it seems that whatever the economic condition, mankind will always find a way to destroy its environment.

Just like European fishermen who refuse to abide to tuna quotas for the Mediterranean, when most experts agree that they are going extinct.

As some others say on this site, a quick collapse (with a big reduction in population) would be the less painful option.

Some people say that the current downturn is good for the environment, because it limits production, but it seems that whatever the economic condition, mankind will always find a way to destroy its environment.

I'm extremely concerned about this actually, for the not to distant future. I can see that if (when) things get really bad, the deer will quickly vanish, the local forests will be cut down for warmth or cooking (or terra preta!)... with so many densely packed people in all these towns, natural resources could vanish in the blink of an eye.

Strangely, sadly, when I see a dear now I joke to myself, "Mmmm, dinner!"

..And the poor deer were just starting to evolve for avoiding traffic.

Hello TODers,

USGS sulfur update for Aug:

U.S. sulfur consumption, calculated as shipments minus
exports plus imports, was 937,000 tons in August 2008. This was
about the same as that of July 2008 and slightly higher than that
of August 2007.

..Indications are that global sulfur prices have begun to decline,
although the average customs value of elemental sulfur
imported into the United States was still trending higher. The
average unit value of imported sulfur was $378 per ton in
August 2008. This was 17% higher than that of July 2008 and
nearly 20 times what it was in August 2007.
Not many items price-fluctuate from $18.90 to $378 in the course of a year!

Imagine gasoline going up 20 times from $1.89/gal to $37.80/gal in one year-->You would have a people's revolution on your hands as most could not afford this kind of increase!

Recall that the majority of sulfur is used for I-NPK production, primarily for the beneficiation of raw phosphate ores. Since the I-NPK industry basically operates at a JIT level: I would not expect a huge variation in sulfur volumes UNLESS the Credit Crisis LOGJAMS this huge global trading market. Then, IMO, we would have very serious problems with food supplies if this caused a Liebig Minimum to occur nearly everywhere.

Consider a pound-for-pound comparison of sulfur vs crude:

1 ton of crude oil = 1 metric ton of crude oil
= appr. 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
At $100/barrel, then a ton of crude is approx. worth $730. Compare again with $666/ton of Iranian sulphur or the recent price of $900/ton of New Zealand's spot price. IMO, this helps show how critical sulphur is as a global infrastructure lifeblood.

In other words, imagine this entire I-NPK global infrastructure as a photosynthesis plant. The ancient sunlight of FFs is metaphorically shining down to energetically power this plant [made of factories, cars, mines, etc], but the other NPK Elements are also required to make it work & grow, with sulphur a key resource in this entire global operation.

Recall that 90% of sulphur is eventually converted to sulphuric acid, and 60% of all this sulphuric acid is used for phosphate conversion with lots more energy inputs. I think we all would like to continue eating, but I would argue sulfur is the 'strike anywhere match' to jumpstart the long process of bringing food to our mouths, and other products to our homes.

The risk we run is if postPeak supplies of sour crude and sour natgas deplete so fast that we cannot sufficiently extract the sulfur we need for continued I-NPK beneficiation [60%] + industry [40%] as global population increases their hungry mouth count by 70,000/day.

If crude oil C+C [approx 75 mmbpd] and sour natgas drop by half postPeak: does this also mean that 'recovered sulfur' will decrease the same percentage? Can the world feed itself with that much less sulfur fertilizer, with also that much less phosphate fertilizer, plus also that much less nitrogen-based fertilizer? I don't think so--> that is just another reason why I push for the rapid ramping of O-NPK recycling.

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

Hello TODers,

Understanding Russia’s Financial Crisis
So even as their economy is imploding: I find this next weblink to be disturbing:

Russian potash miner Uralkali has increased the upper price limit for potash for purchase by Russian farmers at the price of 3,700 roubles ($134.9) per tonne in the first half of 2009. The upper limit was previously 3,000 roubles per tonne.

"(This) effectively equates to its production expenses forecasted for the relevant group of consumers," Uralkali said in a statement on Monday.
As posted before: I bet OPEC wishes they could control inventory and prices as effectively as the P & K cartels. I sure hope Putin and Medvedev have a viable agricultural financing plan for the Russian farmers so that they can afford this remarkable increase.

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

Hello TODers,

Meanwhile, here in the US, the FEDs are warning of greater finance difficulties for farmers trying to get more credit. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Farm credit is expected to soften as farmers plan for the next growing season, according to a survey released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

One of the agricultural lenders participating in the survey from Central Nebraska was quoted by the Federal Reserve as saying, "Input cost increases are creating more risks in the Ag loan portfolio."