DrumBeat: November 21, 2008

Five-year U.S. crude oil futures at record $30 premium

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures for delivery in January 2014 are trading at a record $30 premium to current contracts, as investors bet that the long-term trend toward higher prices will remain intact despite oil's slump to $50 a barrel.

U.S. crude oil futures -- the global benchmark for oil prices -- have collapsed by almost $100 a barrel since hitting an all time high above $147 a barrel in July. On Friday, U.S. crude for delivery in January 2009 sank to as low as $48.50 a barrel, the weakest price since May 2005.

But oil contracts for delivery in five years time have held stubbornly above $80 a barrel, with the January 2014 contract currently sitting at $81.26 a barrel.

US gas prices dip below $2, lowest in 3-plus years

HOUSTON – Only four months after peaking at an unheard of $4.11 a gallon, the national average price for gasoline tumbled below $2 Friday, its lowest point in more than three years. Yet the global economic contrast between then and now could not be more stark.

On March 9, 2005, the last time gasoline cost less than $2, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 10,805.63. After a huge rally Friday, the Dow closed at 8,046.42.

Price drop has yet to cut Canadian oil output

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian energy companies have yet to start shutting down large volumes of oil production due to low prices, but the market meltdown has started to fuel some nervousness about the prospect.

Underfunded pensions may bite U.S. energy sector

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips and other energy companies top the list of U.S. companies with severely underfunded pensions -- a situation that may drain precious cash in a time of capital market volatility, especially at smaller firms.

Iraq-Turkey pipeline hit by Kurd rebel bomb attack

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Kurdish guerrillas launched a bomb attack on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline linking Iraq and Turkey on Friday, halting oil exports, sources from the Turkish energy ministry and pipeline company Botas told Reuters.

They said the attack, which triggered a large fire, occurred at 8:30 pm (6:30 pm British time) on Friday evening near Midyat in Mardin province, southeast Turkey.

No details on the scale of damage were available. Local officials in Mardin declined to comment.

Nigerian Oil Rebels Float New Warning Amid Fresh Tensions

The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta says it attacked a military helicopter near a major rebel camp on Thursday. From the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Gilbert da Costa reports the group is warning that it will resume hostilities if it is provoked by the military.

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnap Bulgarian in Niger Delta

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped a Bulgarian in the southeastern state of Abia in the oil-rich Niger Delta and are demanding 500 million naira ($4.2 million) for his release, a security source said on Friday.

"They ambushed him in his vehicle, firing in the air and then grabbing him," said the private sector security source, adding that eight gunmen were involved in the attack in the city of Aba.

Ukraine president tells govt to settle gas disputes

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko told the government on Friday to settle arrears for gas supplies from Russia and agree on a price for 2009 imports, a day after Moscow said its neighbour had $2.4 billion in debts.

Yushchenko put the blame for the new announcement of unsettled arrears squarely on the government led by his former ally turned rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Why small cars are getting safer

So, as Americans' buying preferences have shifted to smaller vehicles, the old debate about the safety of small cars has ignited anew. Some drivers who've been in an SUV for the last six years have been apprehensive about not being surrounded by a massive steel structure and a few dozen feet of sheet metal.

But those who have been forced to "go small" for economic reasons can take comfort in the fact that small cars are much safer today than they were just a decade ago.

Why cheap gas can't save the economy

"Is this a panacea for consumers? No, It's like putting an analgesic on a deep wound," Snaith said. "Trillions of dollars in stock market wealth and home values are gone. Saving a few bucks at the pump can't compensate for that."

Snaith added that he believes many consumers are skeptical as to whether lower prices will really stick. So he doesn't think consumers will rush to start spending.

"People are skeptical. We're not going to run out and all go buy Hummers again. The memory of $4 gas will linger," he said.

This is playing out in the form of dismal forecasts for the holiday shopping season. According to a survey of consumers by the Conference Board released Friday, Americans are expected to spend an average of $418 on Christmas gifts, down 11% from estimates from the same time a year ago.

Saipem Denies Saudi Arabia Canceled Manifa Contract

(Bloomberg) -- Saipem SpA, Europe's biggest oil- field services company by market value, said it's reviewing costs to develop Saudi Arabia's Manifa oilfield, denying a report that the order was canceled.

Ukraine has no gas debt to Russia – Timoshenko

STOCKHOLM (Itar-Tass) -- Ukraine has no gas debt, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said on Friday.

“I think President [Viktor Yushchenko] must know that debts he is talking about are not the debts of Ukraine but bad debts of RosUkrEnergo. Ukraine owns nothing to RosUkrEnergo,” Timoshenko said.

Big Oil hurt coast, so why doesn’t it pay for repairs?

Many scientists say the Army Corps of Engineers caused a lot of the destruction when it leveed the Mississippi River, cutting off the sediment that used to flow in and build land.

But Tulane environmental law professor Oliver Houck says the destruction turned more aggressive when oil was discovered in Plaquemines Parish.

"Before oil and gas, even after the main river levees, we were holding our own," Professor Oliver Houck says. "Once we started drilling, we started collapsing."

Urban growers go high-tech to feed city diners

POMONA, Calif. - Terry Fujimoto sees the future of agriculture in the exposed roots of the leafy greens he and his students grow in thin streams of water at a campus greenhouse.

The program run by the California State Polytechnic University agriculture professor is part of a growing effort to use hydroponics — a method of cultivating plants in water instead of soil — to bring farming into cities, where consumers are concentrated.

Energy industry headed for a bigger crisis, it seems

Oil markets are facing a major slump — for a number of reasons — and continue to stream further down. As I write these lines, prices are already in the vicinity of $50 a barrel. Rather than seeking a ceiling, crude markets now appear looking for a floor — somewhere — at respectable levels. What a transition indeed. And indeed this transformation is not without ramifications, of considerable magnitude, one can easily deduce.

Crude markets have entered a phase where, due to low prices, the incentive to invest in the industry is getting less and less.

And if the trend continues, as some are arguing today, another round of price spiral may not be far off. The emerging scenario may not only be disastrous for the industry, but indeed for the overall global energy balance too — a real cause of concern indeed. We need to wake up to the consequences now — and not later.

Carbon is forever

University of Chicago oceanographer David Archer, who led the study with Caldeira and others, is credited with doing more than anyone to show how long CO2 from fossil fuels will last in the atmosphere. As he puts it in his new book The Long Thaw, "The lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a few centuries, plus 25 percent that lasts essentially forever. The next time you fill your tank, reflect upon this".

"The climatic impacts of releasing fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere will last longer than Stonehenge," Archer writes. "Longer than time capsules, longer than nuclear waste, far longer than the age of human civilization so far."

Falling prices raise worries about deflation

After years of punishing increases in the cost of energy, consumers are rejoicing these days at the sharp drop in prices at the pump. Not only that, but prices are dropping for clothing, transportation and housing, according to the government's latest report on consumer prices. With money tight, the price declines are a welcome relief.

But be careful what you wish for. If price declines continue and become more widespread, there’s a risk the downward trend could feed on itself in a spiral that can take on a ruinous momentum. It’s called deflation. And some economists are warning the threat is increasing.

The danger of low prices

Bad news about the financial and economic crises just keeps coming, but in recent weeks there's been rare good news: a major drop in gasoline prices. In the short to medium term, it is true that falling oil prices are good for the economy. Everything from buying California grapefruits to operating school buses becomes cheaper when the price of gas goes down. Consumer confidence increases; people spend money; the economy is boosted.

But there is a dark side to declining oil prices and the resulting short-term economic benefits: The public and policymakers will breathe a collective sigh of relief that the energy crisis has passed, and gratefully take that hot issue off the national agenda. Stricter legislative requirements and green incentives for automakers will be gone, funding for research on alternative energy sources will dry up, and the nation will return gleefully to gas-guzzling SUVs (truck sales have already started to rise). Campaign rhetoric about borrowing money from China to pay Saudi Arabia for oil will be quickly forgotten.

Complacency about low gas prices is a problem

Just a few months ago, it seemed inconceivable that complacency about gasoline prices might take the urgency out of President-elect Obama's energy agenda, which focuses on reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and fighting global warming. Yet this is just what might happen, to the nation's detriment.

Lower Oil Prices Give Power To Producers In Contract Talks

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Energy producers are attempting to use lower oil prices to grab back negotiating power from oilfield service companies in order to cut costs and secure cheaper deals.

Propane shortage hampers drying

FARGO — Farmers in eastern North Dakota and beyond are desperately trying to bring in the high-moisture corn crop in the region, but are running into a liquid propane fuel shortage.

Mike Rud, executive director of the North Dakota Propane Gas Association, said the recent sudden resumption in the corn drying activity after freeze-up is causing demand to exceed supplies.

The bravest woman in oil

(Fortune Magazine) -- Ann Pickard's title sounds normal enough - she's regional executive vice president in Africa for Royal Dutch Shell's exploration and production division. But there's nothing normal whatsoever about Pickard's job. Indeed, as Shell's top official in Nigeria, Pickard may well hold the most dangerous executive post within the oil industry.

A 53-year-old Wyoming native who helped organize battered women's shelters before entering the energy biz in the late 1980s - "making $7,000 a year doesn't quite cut it," she says of her former life - Pickard is the first woman to run Shell's African operation. She talks a lot about reducing accidents, and by accidents, she's not talking about the industrial variety.

ANALYSIS - Russia acknowledges financial crisis has hit hard

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia had convinced itself -- and the outside world -- that its huge oil wealth and vast foreign exchange reserves made it much less vulnerable than others to the global financial crisis.

But after weeks of virtual silence by state media about the effects the crisis has had on Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev has suddenly acknowledged the extent of the damage.

"In all likelihood, the crisis is going to spread. Here we have to face reality," he said on Tuesday.

Top bankers and businessmen say Medvedev's words amounted to an official acknowledgement of what they have sensed in recent weeks -- a sudden, dramatic slowdown of the economy as credit dried up, sales slumped and factories laid off staff.

Russia energy ministry to stand firm on power reforms

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's energy minister said on Friday he will oppose attempts to slow the liberalisation of electricity prices, which some industries want to curb at least until the financial crisis passes.

Bangladesh: Irrigation gets priority, cities get power-outs

Dhaka (bdnews24.com) - Despite a prevailing power shortage in the country, the government has planned to give some 247,000 pumps priority power coverage for the coming irrigation season, some seven percent higher in number than the previous year.

"Electricity will be provided on a priority basis for the irrigation season - mid-January to March - and consequently urban areas will experience more power cuts during the period, power secretary M Fouzul Kabir Khan said Thursday.

Malaysia: Fishermen woes due to diesel shortage

KUANTAN: A shortage of diesel involving fishermen has become the concern of Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.

She said they complained they were not allocated enough fuel to cater to their needs.

Trinidad to lose $1B as energy prices fall

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) -- The prime minister of energy-rich Trinidad has told its citizens to expect cuts in government programs because of an anticipated loss of $1 billion due to the fall in prices of crude oil, natural gas and petrochemical products.

Gazprom and SPP seal 20 year deal

Gazprom has signed a long-term agreement with Slovakia’s Slovensky Plynarensky Priemysel (SPP) to supply it with 130 billion cubic metres of gas over the next 20 years.

China to Build $2.5B O&G Pipeline through Myanmar

China plans to proceed with a $2.5 billion oil and gas pipeline through Myanmar to connect its Yunnan province, with construction set to start next year.

Mi Gongsheng, director of the province's reform and development commission, told the official Xinhua news agency the pipeline is one of a series of large energy projects in which the province plans to invest about $10.5 billion.

Gazans find alternative ways to handle shortage

While an Israeli cutoff in fuel shipments has closed down a dozen of his competitors, baker Khalil Awad stayed in business thanks to a little creativity and dirty black oil drained from car engines.

...A handful of salt is Naela's secret recipe to working her old-fashioned brass-bottomed lamp when the power cuts off. She can't find kerosene in the shops, so she pours in diesel instead along with a handful of salt. The salt reduces the smoke and lightens the heavy burning smell. "It's like a doctor's prescription. Works every time," the university student said proudly.

Bush effigy burned in anti-U.S. protest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) — Followers of a Shiite cleric on Friday stomped on and burned an effigy of President George W. Bush in the same central Baghdad square where Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier.

Chanting and waving flags, thousands of Muqtada al-Sadr's followers filled Firdous Square to protest a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact that would allow American troops to stay for three more years. The Bush effigy was placed on the same pedestal where U.S. Marines toppled the ousted dictator's statue in one of the iconic images of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Delek Halts Production at Texas Refinery, Worker Dies

(Bloomberg) -- Delek U.S. Holdings Inc., a unit of Israeli holding company Delek Group Ltd., temporarily halted production at its Tyler, Texas, refinery after an explosion and fire yesterday, the company said in a statement on its Web site.

Idea to aid carmakers: Fee on sales

LOS ANGELES — Automotive titan Roger Penske thinks he's found a simple answer to bailing out Detroit's automakers — a restructuring fee that would be added to the price of every new car.

We must bail out the Big Three

So what's the answer as oil takes a pause during tough economic times from its relentless march to the stratosphere? Both of my friends agree that the electric car is a major part of the answer. The distribution system for electricity is already in place, unlike for hydrogen. In fact, it's in every house, much more accessible than the gas station. Batteries are common, understandable, established technology. The Ontario analyst also says a similar distribution system is in place for affordable, clean natural gas and that fuel is easily adapted to the motor car.

Right to eat comes before fuel, minister says

In an interview with swissinfo, Environment and Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger explains the Swiss position: that the right to food comes before the right to mobility.

Practical and inspirational, 'Fuel' faces the facts of the energy crisis

"Change your fuel, change the world."

The rallying cry of director/activist Joshua Tickell's "Fuel" is not as catchy as "Save the cheerleader, save the world," but it is significantly more relevant to actually saving the planet.

South Korean company takes over part of Madagascar to grow biofuels

The African island state of Madagascar has agreed to allow a South Korean company to take over huge tracts of its territory for farmland in a deal showing the worldwide scramble for resources across the continent.

Activist Pushes Caps on Carbon

Environmental activist William E. McKibben ’82 implored Harvard affiliates this week to recognize the imminent dangers of climate change and push for an international cap on carbon emissions.

“In this past year, this has gone from ‘This is a big problem’ to ‘This is a big freaking emergency,’” McKibben said at one of a series of campus talks. “Climate change is happening on a way faster and a much larger scale than we thought it would. It is truly scary.”

New site for carpoolers

ALBANY — The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) and the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) have teamed up to launch a new online carpool matching service, called iPool2, that provides a cost effective alternative to the high cost single occupancy vehicle commutes.

Capital Region commuters can visit www.iPool2.org to access a free and simple “one-stop” commuter shopping tool that will save them money, stress, relieve congestion and help save the environment.

Oil Industry Costs Weakening After Hitting Record - CERA

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Oil and natural gas drilling costs around the world are starting to weaken amid the global economic downturn after hitting a record level in the past six months, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

In a report, obtained by Dow Jones Newswires, the U.S. energy consultants said the fallout of the global economic crisis, with all energy and metal commodity prices tumbling in recent months, had already started pressuring drilling and construction costs.

"The effects of the recession and the credit freeze will likely change the picture considerably in the months ahead," CERA chairman Daniel Yergin said in a summary of the report. Costs had already started to moderate in early October, the report indicated.

Saudi Arabia to Join NATO Naval Mission; Pirates Boost Defenses

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia said it will join a fleet of NATO warships on an anti-piracy mission, as hijackers bolstered defenses around an oil-laden Saudi tanker captured off the East African coast.

The kingdom will contribute ``naval assets to help in pursuing piracy in the region, and this is the only way this can be dealt with,'' Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters in Oslo today after meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Stoere. ``Negotiations and ransoms only encourage piracy and are not a solution.''

OPEC to take "important decison" on Dec.17-Khelil

TUNIS (Reuters) - OPEC will "very likely" take an "important decision" when it meets in the Algerian city of Oran on Dec. 17 to stem falling oil prices, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said on Friday.

Khelil said the expected OPEC move on supply in Oran could be of a greater magnitude than the one decided by the cartel on Oct.24, when it agreed to cut its output by 1.5 million barrels per day.

Waxman Win Is Boon for Environmentalists, Bust for Utilities

(Bloomberg) -- A wall-sized poster of Earth hangs in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an image that Chairman John Dingell once boasted showed the reach of his panel.

Dingell will no longer rule the planet. House Democrats yesterday handed the committee's gavel to Representative Henry Waxman, 69, a Californian who promises a different agenda for a panel that touches nearly every sector of business -- climate change, health care, telecommunications and trade.

Obama Transition Said to Consider a ‘Prepackaged’ Auto Bankruptcy

(Bloomberg) -- President-Elect Barack Obama‘s transition team is exploring a swift, prepackaged bankruptcy for automakers as a possible solution to the industry’s financial crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Generation Velcro: What will become of the children who could not tie their shoes?

The other day I took my seven-year-old son Louis to buy some running shoes. "Pick something with Velcro," I said, as he trotted off to roam the racks.

A clerk, hovering nearby, gave me a jaundiced look, "You know we get high school kids in here who have to buy Velcro because they never learned to tie their shoes. Every year their parents would just buy them Velcro because it was easier than making them learn how to tie laces."

I stared at him and he went on.

"The other day we had to special order a pair of shoes for this kid's high school graduation because he couldn't tie his laces, and he needed a pair of Velcro formal shoes."

The power of religion

What's interesting now is that an increasing number of people finally have had enough of this anonymity and isolation. Intellectuals from management maven Richard Florida to planning guru James Kunstler are talking about the importance of again creating "communities," and the value of belonging to them.

It's unpopular to say so, but this longing for community could foreshadow a renewal of religious sentiment; indeed, it may even be an expression of spiritual yearning. For it's impossible to be nostalgic about the communities of yesterday without acknowledging the central role that the church, synagogue, service club and other religious institutions played in supporting those communities.

Americans driving less, unmoved by lower gas prices

Americans are driving less despite falling gas prices, reflecting the deepening recession and signaling a shift in lifestyles and driving habits that could outlast the current turmoil.

Drivers logged 10.7 billion fewer miles in September than they did the same month a year earlier — a 4.4% decline, according to data issued Wednesday by the Federal Highway Administration.

The data reflect the effects of the worsening economy.

Arctic-Seabed Oil Claims May Quicken Under New Senate

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic party gains in the U.S. Senate may speed approval of a maritime treaty that allows signatories to stake claims to Arctic seabed containing oil and gas deposits.

With President-elect Barack Obama supporting ratification of the Law of the Sea and Democrats unseating seven Republican senators in this month's elections, the U.S. moved a step closer to joining 157 nations including Russia that have endorsed the treaty, political analysts including the Century Foundation's Jeff Laurenti said.

Intelligence study sees risks in rapid global power shift

WASHINGTON — The risks of a nuclear weapons being used and wars being fought over dwindling resources will grow during the next 20 years as diminishing U.S. power, a shift of wealth from West to East, the rise of India and China and climate change reshape the world, a new U.S. intelligence study warned Thursday.

"The international system — as constructed following the Second World War — will be almost unrecognizable by 2025 owing to the rise of emerging powers, a globalizing economy, an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East, and the growing influence of non-state actors," the report said.

U.S. power, influence will decline in future, report says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A government report released Thursday paints an alarming picture of an unstable future for international relations defined by waning American influence, a fragmentation of political power and intensifying struggles for increasingly scarce natural resources.

● Report says China will have growing impact, second largest economy by 2025

● There will be an unprecedented global transfer of power because of oil, report says

● Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, will likely see power, desire for natural resources increase

● "Unprecedented" growth means demand for basic resources will outweigh supply

US clout down, risks up by 2025 - intel outlook

A shift away from an oil-based energy system will be underway or complete by 2025. Better renewable technologies such as solar and wind power offer the best opportunity for a quick and low-cost transition, the report said.

Lukoil could become main shareholder in energy major Repsol

MADRID (AFP) – Russian oil group Lukoil could soon become the leading shareholder in Spanish-Argentine energy major Repsol, a possibility that prompted unease in Spain Friday given Repsol's strategic importance.

OPEC output to fall sharply in Nov - Petrologistics

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil production is expected to fall by 1.22 million barrels per day in November as members implement a deal to cut supplies, industry consultant Petrologistics said on Friday.

The estimate indicates that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is delivering on the bulk of its pledge to lower supply by about 2 million bpd to prop up oil prices.

TIMELINE: Half a century of oil price volatility

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC meets in Cairo on November 29 in an attempt to stem a collapse in oil that has knocked two thirds off the price in just four months.

Oil ministers face an uphill task trying to tame a commodity that has seen a roller-coaster ride from about $2 a barrel in the 1960s to a peak above $147 in July to a low of almost $50 this month.

FACTBOX - The oil price needs of OPEC members

(Reuters) - Oil's slide from a record of $147.27 in July to below $52 on November 20 has different implications for members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers can manage with a relatively low oil price and can also draw on funds accrued during the price boom, while Venezuela needs a much higher level.

The following are estimates from Washington-based consultancy PFC Energy of how much various OPEC countries need on average to balance their external accounts.

Central bankers wary of deflation

LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone demand is plunging and price pressures vanishing, business surveys showed on Friday, while central bankers weighed the bleak prospect of deflation.

The case for buying oil stocks

"Given what we know about the decline rates, just to stay flat [in global oil production] we'd have to add the equivalent of four Saudi Arabias between now and 2030," said Matt Simmons, chairman of Houston energy investment bank Simmons & Co. International and author of Twilight in the Desert, the 2005 book that argues that even oil-rich Saudi Arabia's petroleum production might have peaked. "It's a very, very scary study. It's hard to argue with the data and it's ghastly what the data says."

Brazil's Petrobras makes another subsalt oil find

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said Friday it discovered "large volumes" of light oil in the subsalt layer off the coast of Espirito Santo.

The company estimated the total recoverable oil from the newly discovered subsalt deposit in the so-called Parque das Baleias area amounts to 1.5 billion to 2 billion barrels of oil.

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy near Shell oil facility

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a navy houseboat protecting a Royal Dutch Shell crude oil flow station in southern Nigeria on Friday, a military spokesman said.

Kiev displeased with growth of Russian gas price for Ukraine

KIEV (Itar-Tass) -- Ukrainian Minister of Industrial Policy Vladimir Novitsky has described as political the statement, made by Gazprom President Alexei Miller, on the intention to bring the gas price for Ukraine to 400 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres in 2009. “There are no economic reasons for setting that price of gas delivered to Ukraine,” he told journalists on Friday.

Volkswagen diesel car wins "Green Car of the Year"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A clean-burning diesel sedan, Volkswagen AG's Jetta TDI, won the "Green Car of the Year" award at the Los Angeles auto show on Thursday, the first time a diesel-powered car has taken the industry's top environmental honor.

"This signals that clean diesel has arrived," said Ron Cogan, editor of Green Car Journal, the trade magazine that awards the prize.

Bay Area vows $1 billion network for green cars

SAN FRANCISCO - A $1 billion network of electric car recharging stations will dot San Francisco Bay area highways under a plan unveiled Thursday that aims to greatly expand the number of electric vehicles on the road.

Nuclear planning to the year 1,002,008

YUCCA MOUNTAIN, Nevada (Reuters) - Will this barren mountain rising up to 4,950 feet from the Mojave desert look roughly the same in the year 1,002,008? That’s a million years into the future.

The question may sound bizarre but its answer is key to the future of a decades-old, controversial project to store America’s nuclear waste in the belly of Yucca Mountain, on the edge of a nuclear test site and 95 miles from Las Vegas. The narrow road from there winds through a desolate landscape of sparse vegetation — creosote scrub, cactus and gnarled Joshua trees.

Spanish police detain 30 at Greenpeace nuclear power plant protest

MADRID (AFP) – Police in Spain detained 30 Greenpeace activists Thursday who had blocked the entrance to the country's oldest nuclear power station which the environmental group is urging the government to close, the group said.

Cap and trade could work: oil patch

CALGARY - Canada's oil-and-gas industry is holding off criticism of the federal government's plans to forge a market-based climate-change pact with the United States, saying harmonization makes sense.

What climate change? Meltdown trumps fears at APEC

LIMA, Peru – Countries on both sides of the Pacific have reason to be very afraid of climate change. Rising sea levels could swamp coastal farms, higher temperatures wipe out entire species and increasingly violent storms exact a widening human and financial toll.

But at this week's summit of 21 Pacific Rim nations, global warming is barely on the agenda. In its place: the financial crisis.

Fossil carbon's fate: review of Tyler Volk's CO2 Rising: The World's Greatest Environmental Challenge

Volk is not prescriptive and judiciously leaves the future open. But perhaps there are indeed powerful grounds for optimism. The need for security of supply is becoming as important in the public mind as the demand for cheap energy. More generally, 'peak' oil is becoming reality, 'peak' gas may be as close as a decade away, and there may even be a near-future crisis in coal supply. Perhaps Mother Nature has set aside only enough accessible fossil fuels to push CO2 to 450 parts per million or so — bad enough, but at least not near the extremes in some scenario models. Most of all, we have new leadership in America. Is it too much to hope for audacity?

Hello TODers,

You may recall that I found the weblink to the 2002 Aramco Ghawar oil-sat graphic that Stuart Staniford, Euan Mearns, F_F, and so many others had great fun discussing.

Recently, Ghawar was massively modeled again using 258 million cells on a much larger, next-gen supercomputer cluster. If we could find this simulation, it could prove instructive on the remaining reserves of Ghawar.

Here are two links with some great detail [PDF Warnings]:

From Mega-Cell to Giga-Cell Reservoir Simulation

..In an effort to build a giga-cell simulator, recently Saudi
Aramco’s scientists completed a reservoir simulation model
run for the Ghawar Arab-D reservoir using 258 million active

From Mega-Cell to Giga-Cell Reservoir Simulation SPE116675
Be sure to see the vertical reservoir slices and the new enhanced model for Abquaiq.

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

That's some fascinating stuff. Thanks!

Unfortunately, I learned about their new modeling options... and nothing about what the models told them.

Hello Positive_Phototaxis,

Sorry, I don't know how to post graphics, but the higher resolution of the newer models appear to show more waterfront penetration, but also more areas of bypassed oil probably due to Super-K fractures. Remember that 6 years have passed since the 2002 graphic, but I am not skilled like SS, Euan, and F-F to know the relative significance of the change over time vs Ghawar's extraction and depletion. Hopefully WT, Rockman, GaryP, and other geologists/reservoir engineers will take a gander at these links.

Hint: since these are PDFs you can use the zoom-in tool to look for greater detail. JoulesBurn, GaryP, and some other TODers are pretty good at pixel and graphics manipulation.

For TOD newbies wondering what could happen if we find the NEW Ghawar Oil-Sat graphic, here is a link to what SS did earlier:

Depletion Levels in Ghawar
Posted by Stuart Staniford on May 15, 2007
My guess is that this was the most influential and widely read TOD keypost [also presented by SS at ASPO].

Joules Bourne-

Take the delta Sw from the cross section graphic in the PDF for a watered out zone multiply it by your pore volume and divide by the formation volume factor and there is your maximum ultimate recovery under waterflood.

It's all there. I can't for the life of me figure why someone would display delta Sw from -.6 to +1.6 though.


Hello F_F,

Thxs for being here [maybe you can drag SS back too]. Here is an earlier post by JoulesBurn that may help with the Abqaiq cross-section in the new links I posted today:

graphic by Saleri

EDIT: F_F Quote:"I can't for the life of me figure why someone would display delta Sw from -.6 to +1.6 though."

Probably totally wrong and a total WAG on my part, but maybe using high pressure gas from the underlying Khuff formation to help sweep isolated oil towards the well?

A quick canter through shows nothing dramatic. However the dimensions on the 3D plots looks to be an order of magnitude out on the physical size expected of these areas. So I wonder if someone hasn't got wise and maybe played with the data somewhat?

Saying that, here is a capture of what looks to be a run on Ghawar, with some pertinent questions. Maybe Cycle = years since run start time? If so, and if you tie the first to the previous depletion data on the state of Uthmaniyah, cycle 10 could be the current/near future state of the field? With a heavy emphasis on the questionable nature of the data and the big assumptions being drawn.

Edit for high pressure, read low, scale confused me.

BTW, the two views of Ghawar in this presentation, from two slightly different orientations, allows you to create a stereo pair. Excepting glasses and all the other ways of viewing 3D pairs, this link presents the two images in 'wobblevision', which is about as good as you can get for 3D tricks on normal displays.

Egads, man! You have come up with a new way of doing EOR!

Just wobble that oil out!

Holographic displays, pah!

Star Wars would have been so different if the 3D imagery were in wobblevision!

Anyway, what think you of the questions arising from the images?

I'm not sure what you are trying to gather from the pressure plots. The field could be fully pressurized if the water injection pressure to all the wells. You would have low pressure at some wells if they aren't well connected hydraulically to the injectors. Changes mean ... ??

That's more a question for you. Pressure goes up when a zone is depleted. That's what it appears to show, so what 'pressure' is being shown? Remaining oil pressure? Whatever it is it follows the pattern of depletion.

If the presentations are useful for gaining an insight into what the Saudis are looking at, what does that say? And what is that area to the west of Haradh in the later cycles of the model?

Look at them closely, there is something being said there I think.

Pressure at the wells does not decrease as the oil is depleted, but it is being maintained by water injection. The oil doesn't have any pressure -- only what is being supplied externally (or by the aquifer, if you stop injection).

I also don't know what it means for there to be a pressure gradient outwards from Ghawar. There are no wells out there, so no way to measure it anyway.

I'll think about it, but ??????

Super-K fractures blowing water outside the Ghawar reservoir proper?

i think your work on khurias (sp ?) indicated that they were pressuring the entire aquifer for however many miles it is to khurias.

No. They are piping water all the way to Khurais, but it has its own injection wells.


The basic problem with trying to read anything into these "results" beyond Ghawar's borders is that the inputs into the simulations come from individual wells within Ghawar. The billions of cells which make up the 3d volume used for the simulation get their properties by interpolation of the values of the physical properties near the wells (porosity, permeability, etc.).

Outside of Ghawar, there are no wells. Thus, there is no data on which to base simulations. So speculation about what these figures mean is just an exercise in randomness.


"The billions of cells which make up the 3d volume used for the simulation get their properties by interpolation of the values of the physical properties near the wells (porosity, permeability, etc.)"

generally, and a big generally here, i question if dividing the reservoir into smaller grid blocks (cells) based upon interpolation gives any improvement in the quality of the results. the interpolated reservoir properties may or may not be accurate. if they have seismic data upon which to base changes in reservoir properties, that is a different matter and i think that is outlined in the pdf.

the golden rule of reservoir simulation is to use the least number of grid blocks that will adequately solve the problem at hand. and trying to model a reservoir with too few grid blocks may not give good results either. i know from experience that using too few layers will result in questionable results and coincidentally that was in a gravity stable case(a reservoir that was shut in for 28 yrs).

reading through the pdf, i couldnt help but think i was being given a sales job.

and wrt khurais, yes, that is not the one i was thinking of. but wasnt there a field you posted upon a few months ago that i thought was 17 miles or so from ghawar where the reservoir pressure climbed over a shut in period, probably the result of injection into the aquifer adjacent to ghawar.


Yes, the pressure there was increasing and moving the oil around. But in the present case, the pressures outside the reservoir are decreasing (and the values are all to high). Oh well.

if the saudis are showing a pressure gradient away from the reservoir, that implies pressure support from the aquifer which is kind of hard to believe.
some models have a pseudo acquifer function to account for water influx, a fudge factor, if you will, to obtain a history match on pressure. which is just another way of saying that a model, any model does not provide a unique solution to the problem at hand.

i get an adobe message that the file is damaged and cannot be repaired.

First link works for me but the 2nd also refuses here.

Sorry, not a computer guru, but the second link still works fine for me. It has the better detailed graphics too. Try finding it yourself in google, maybe that will help. Good luck.


Right, the link is fine but the document doesn't download correctly/fully. Will try later again, at home on the old PC ;-)

BTW that SS keypost you link above, over 16000 words, is still bookmarked and clanced over now and then; truly groundbraking work. Let's hope that he can give us an occasional treat like this.

Try right clicking and "Save As" instead of letting the browser open it.

Great find, Bob!

How is the weather in Dhahra...I mean "Phoenix" today?


Thxs, but I need some shuteye--up all night googling/trying to find the NEW Ghawar simulation, maybe some other TODer will get lucky as I am not a Google-guru, nor a SPE member. Hopefully, you TopTODers can 'flog this dog' for some more great Keyposts. Later!

Can't go to sleep til I point out the graphic on the 1980 well [assume this is the date it was first drilled]. Doesn't it seem awfully watered out for only being 28 years old? It should be pretty far updip; located up the anticline,shouldn't it?

It looks to be on the Northern extremity plunging nose of the Ain Dar Anticline to me just be the steep parabolic shape.

So I think it is relatively low structurally.



Very interesting about the expanding modeling capability...thanks. OTOH, when I've worked with reservoir engineers on similar but smaller models the starting point begins with assumptions regarding not only the current state but also all those myriad assumptions regarding the dynamics of the flow. As I'm sure and most others here know, a prejudicial selection process can lead towards a presumed answer.

I not knocking modeling per se. It can be handy to produce future dynamic changes. All my efforts in recovery projects have been based on historical production data. Of course, when a field just begins producing the task is the most difficult. A model might predict how the water front may move through a field but this again requires many assumptions. OTOH, if a field has produced for a long period, such as Ghawar, and the operator has maintained good records (we hope the KSA has) then modeling becomes much easier: with the exception of introducing new factors, the past will do a pretty good job of predicting the future. as one example, if the KSA has been following standard procedures, they have a very clear picture of the movement of the water front through various segments of the field. Simply measuring monthly the water cut in each well would give not only a very good model for the front movement but also the recovery efficiency. Granted the size of Ghawar is unique, but these production mapping methods are decades old. As I mentioned in an earlier post, nothing is more difficult to estimate than oil recovery from a water drive reservoir before it begins producing. At this time you're left with only volumetric analysis and a ton of assumptions. But later in the life of a water drive reservoir, as wells are beginning to cut water, or even water out, the process becomes much easier. Regardless of how a model might predict the water front movement, nothing matches the accuracy of actually watching it move across the reservoir. Ever the positive effects of water injection can clearly be seen if the historical data is available.

Modeling the effects of future injection or redevelopment plans is critical. But estimating field performance to date doesn't require any modeling. Just the simple analysis individual well production history. An Excel spreadsheet is all one needs.

Which one are you referring to?

The graphic on page 13 (Well D) depicts a cross section somewhere in Abqaiq in 1981. Water injection was not used in Ghawar until 1965 or so.

Page 5

Shows the change in water saturation over 30 years between coarse and fine cell simulation.

That change in water saturation divided by the formation volume factor is the oil recovery.



I understand your point about page 5, but the well there ("new well") isn't the one he is referring to in his comment above mine, or is it?



All I am trying to say is that Aramco has to load a relative permeability curve in that simulator to capture the displacement process of oil by water.

Now the most critical component for estimating recovery from that process is what we call the displacement efficiency. It is the waterflood mobile oil divided by the original oil in place. In theory, the waterflood mobile oil saturation is 1- Sor- Swc. Where Sor is residual oil saturation (I think Saleri shows it to be about 0.20), the connate water saturation is about .21. But under a Buckley Leverett construction, we draw a tangent to the fractional flow curve and the average water saturation after water breakthrough is defined by the tangent to that curve. This will always result in a lower mobile oil saturation than 1- Sor-Swc at water breakthrough. Water breakthrough in a layer in this field really is the death of its practical producing life (for our purposes).

All of these critical saturation values are buried in the colors in figure 5. But to me they are not easy to extract.


Given that a delta Sw only gives you the change in water saturation (over 30 years), it would seem you need more information. How would you extract a FF curve from those cross sections?

In the SPE paper Bob found:


I am interested in which graphics apply to which fields, and there are some hints and (more fun!) hidden clues.

  • page 5
    If you mouse over the well log, the tool tip text reads "ahd_wellLog_cropped".
    AHD is Abu Hadriya, recently redeveloped as part of the Khursaniyah project.
  • page 10
    tool tip says "utm283", meaning Uthmaniyah (Ghawar) well 283.
  • Page 11
    "ut654" -- I still say Uthmaniyah well 654
  • page 13
    ttips say "abqq0100_48_1981" and "abqq0100_192_1981a", so definitely Abqaiq. Not at the top, though, because there is no gas cap in the XSXN.
  • page 17
    ttip says "ElGr_684_SO_1964". "ElGr" means nothing to me, but the arrow points to Abqaiq, which does have a gas cap. It looks to be a north-south cross section, but seems a bit watered out for 1964.
  • page 2

    Obviously taken at Disneyland Dhahran.

from the 1st pdf:

"This example was chosen for the largest company asset, the Ghawar reservoir, since a one percent recovery increase would yield an additional billion barrels"

there you have it: aramco expects to recover 100 Gb from ghawar...... and we are left to wonder, are they claiming 100 Gb remaining or ultimate ? or does it matter ?

DC Metro to Operate 15 hour Rush Hour Service January 20th

An expected 1.6 million passengers. Unfortunately, the electrical system upgrades can only handle a mix of 50% 8 car trains and 50% 6 car trains, and I am not sure all of these upgrades are in place. And not quite enough cars for a 50/50 mix.


Best Hopes for a Strategic Rail Reserve,


If someone bombed Iran, and/or there was a revolution in Saudi Arabia (and China made a deal with Venezuela to buy all exports formerly sent to the USA), would it not be useful to be able to operate 8 car trains on tighter headways in DC with a few days notice ? And over an expanded system ? With comparable systems in every US city of 100,000 or more (see France) ?

Take all the laid off GM, Ford, and Chrysler workers with the closed down plants and have them commissioned to make passenger rail cars for long-distance travel and short-distance commutes. This country needs massive amounts of mass transit via rail.

I read Alan's comment to suggest that the railroad's electrical system couldn't handle more traffic. Can't build more rail cars until there is some place to put them.

Other than that, I totally agree. I'm going from West Coast to D.C. by Amtrak in two weeks -- can't wait to get back on the train, and even if it isn't the finest in the world, it is very good.

The DC Metro system was originally built with 8 car stations and 6 car electrical system (an economy measure). Per Ed Tennyson, when the issue of 10 car stations for future growth was brought up, the answer was "if we ever get that busy, we will just build more subways instead".

Best Hopes in Building for the Future,


My dream journey: Amsterdam-Beijing by Trans-Siberian Railway.

Ever read Paul Theroux' The Great Railway Bazaar? Railroads are so much more romantic than trucks and cars -- at least for me. I could never really fall in love with a car -- though a lot of people seemingly do.

They are handy, though, as long as there aren't too many of them in one place.

That reminds me of a photo I recently saw of an 1870's railcar on Google's Life images site. Now that's train travel!

That was the Corporate Executive Jet of its day. Even back then CEO's couldn't be expected to mingle with the masses.

I could never really fall in love with a car -- though a lot of people seemingly do.

I agree, but it's been quite easy to have an affair with one.



Don't you mean in one ?

perhaps ccpo lives in Mumbai ?

Except for the stretch across Mongolia (under study ATM), the trip should all be electrified.

An alternative route (through Kazakhstan) is under construction.


Unfortunately, the rail cars aren't the weak link... nor are production line workers the missing piece of greater rail car production.

You would have to entirely re-tool the auto plants... heck, it would be a complete redesign of the plant - it might be cheaper to just build a new one.

You also need massive infrastructure investment. There isn't just a shortage of rail cars - there's a lack of rails running to the places people want to go.

Rail cars are A weak link, although not the only one.

Almost every rail system in the USA could use more rolling stock (add $5+ gasoline and change that to EVERY rail system).

One interesting note is that ridership on the Minneapolis Hiawatha line declines in the winter. Is this because people prefer to drive during Minnesota winters but ride Light Rail during spring, summer and fall ?

No, it is because the diameter of the average rider expands during the winter and fewer can be crammed on-board !

Minneapolis REALLY needs more cars.

Best Hopes for more cars, larger capacity electrical systems, more bus feeders, more bike racks and more tracks,


Alan, I believe this has more to do with waiting outside for the trains. The light rail stations here are just outdoor platforms. When it's -20F and windy, waiting 10 minutes outdoors for a train is unbearable.

Best hopes for heated stations,

An amenity I could support (at least to 45-55 F), but an analysis of non-peak (mid-day, evening & weekend) and opposite peak direction ridership (analysis done by others) shows that peak direction, peak time ridership (when people are crammed together) is most severely affected by cold weather. Other ridership barely drops or drops much less in the winter.

Thus the conclusion that the average diameter of the rider matters.

Best Hopes for better stations,


Alan are you serious?
I am trying to remember from my experience of growing up in Montreal with a single car for a household of 4. I rode the bus until college when I started riding a bike from April to November. I know even now my mother will swing by and drive my car-less sister and nephews to school when it is way too cold for them to walk. I am wondering whether some directions and times of day involve people with more flexibility in riding public transit, or less tolerance of cold temperatures (older people, small children). In the end you need subjective research (individual interviews) to resolve a question that does not appear to have obvious leading hypothesis. Although I will grant you that not only riders gain weight in the winter but they gain clothing bulk, making it less comfortable to all squeeze in together.

The hypothesis was first suggested by a daily rider of the Hiawatha line on a list I am a member of. Others did a detailed analysis of ridership (is uncrowded ridership (weekends, mid-day, night, opposite direction to peak) less impacted than crowded (peak direction, rush hour) ridership by winter weather.

There are possibly other correlated factors (downtown office workers are bigger wimps than anyone else), but both direct observation (we cannot cram one more person aboard during winter rush hour/people refuse to board due to crowding) and analysis of ridership suggests the "increased diameter of passengers in the winter" theory.

Best Hopes for More Cars for Minneapolis to Confirm the Theory,


"daily rider of the Hiawatha line on a list I am a member of."

What's the list? I would be very interested to discuss MPLS light rail with others.

Unfortunately, it is an invitation only list of transit advocates around the US.

Members include the Father of Baltimore's Light Rail (George Tyson), Father of Expo Line in LA, the Father of Haiwatha (George Isaacs, now deceased), Ed Tennyson, etc. as well as myself.



From Minyanville:

Electric Cars: Be Careful What You Wish For

The rhetoric is eerily familiar: A green, viable alternative to gasoline. What's not to love?

Any purported "cure" for America’s gasoline addiction should, however, be regarded with the utmost skepticism - just think of the ethanol debacle. Ethanol helped spur rampant food-price inflation -- resulting in riots throughout the developing world -- while doing little to curb oil imports from unfriendly nations.

The promise of electric cars could similarly be remembered as a massive swindle - one that cost taxpayers billions and still failed to find a green solution to our dependence on foreign oil.


Electric car charges don't have to charge at peak demand times, but instead could be programmed to charge at either off-peak times, or only charge when there is a surplus of wind power. In other words, there isn't any reason why electric cars have to increase peak demand at all, assuming that the chargers can receive data from the utility as to when the best time to charge is.

COMPLETELY contrary to human behavior. What are the chances of Sarah Palin supporters buying a car that they cannot refill whenever they want to ? As God intended !

Best Hopes for Practical & Realistic Analysis and Planning,


Ignoring the implied ad-hominem... there's a simple enough fix.

Charge different amounts for electricity based on grid loading... much like proposed "HOT" lanes that charge a higher toll during busier times.

Then "Palin supporters" can fill up any old time they feel like it... as long as they're willing to pay.

I dunno about the US, but most not-in-poverty people in the UK pay for electricity quarterly in arrears. I really have doubts about the capacity of most human beings to take into account price feedback that's so slow. I suspect a large number will do what they feel like and either make savings in areas that have more immediate economic feedback (ie, when you're feeling poor you might decide against buying expensive food at the supermarket rather than realise you might be better off canceling a newspaper subscription that you pay for in every month just because your mind doesn't connect temporally distant events.)

I forgot where I saw it, but pilot pre-pay electric programs reduced consumption by consumers by around 1/3.

You do have to have the right charging system.
OTOH, if it is as big a problem to charge up your EV as some seem to feel, then the incentive to apply this not-very difficult to do measure is clear.
I am a bit surprised that in spite of having been provided links several times to actual experience with the effectiveness of TOU metering, the canard that it is ineffective is still current:

This is particularly surprising since no matter how good your rail links, you still have to get your goods the final distance to where they are needed.
EV delivery vehicles have excellent potential to provide this capability:

Then see increased peak generation required, plus increased capacity transmission and distribution upgrades (not free and NOT quick).

"Palin supporters" represents a certain mindset, one that is unwilling to modify their behavior for the common good, but want what they want regardless of externalities.

Drill, Baby, Drill !!


What are the chances of Sarah Palin supporters buying a car that they cannot refill whenever they want to ?

Pretty bad if GM goes belly up...

Kick GM out of the Dow...now!
With the world's largest automaker running low on cash, it's no longer worthy of being included in the venerable index.

GM just doesn't deserve to be in the Dow anymore. It's no longer a leader in the automotive industry. It's expected to lose billions of dollars next year and is begging Congress for a bailout so it can avoid bankruptcy reorganization...or worse.

John Prestbo, editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes, said in an interview Thursday morning that he is watching GM closely and that if the company did file for bankruptcy, there would be "no choice" but to remove GM.

"A company operating under bankruptcy protection is not on a level playing field. What we try to do is make sure every company in the Dow is operating under the same kind of marketplace," he said.

Kick GM out of the Dow? Let's say you put all your investment money in the 1956 DJIA and waited forty years. As I recall Ford's IPO went out at $5 a share. You've now made a 90+% loss if it's still $5 and it isn't. I see all these calculations about how well you would do if you bought and held, but the apples are being exchanged for oranges along the way as the apples rot.

What would the DJIA be at now if we left all the Studebakers and American Motors and Singers and Sunbeams and Circuit Cities on there? Yeah, minus the bankruptcies and collapses, the stock market has done.... well... what were you expecting, money for nothing? An average of the winners will be always be a winner if you factor out the losers. The way the DJIA is run, continuously rejigged, makes it a laugh. Is Nortel still in there? Why not?

Petrosaurus -

GM is the only auto company included in the DJIA, and if I understand correctly, its price-weighted contribution to the average is quite small to begin with. So, whether GM is or is not included does not make much of a difference anyway. I think it is quite telling that America's (once?) largest manufacturing company counts for so little these days. If the auto companies were more heavily represented, the DJIA would be tanking even more than it is.

Yes indeed, the component companies that comprise the DJIA are rearranged from time to time, presumably to better reflect their relative importance in the market and/or economy. However, the net result is that comparing the DJIA from one era to that of another is no longer very meaningful. Some people lose sight of this fact and also have a tendency to fall into the mindset that DJIA = State of the Economy.

Once again, Alan, for us with short memories. How much power does it take to charge an electric car to a 100mile range? How does that compare with running your clothes dryer or space heater??

How much power does it take to run elevators up 100-story buildings?

It seems to me that a properly engineered and constructed electric grid could produce most of the power that an advanced industrial society could wish for -- might have to shave a few corners. Maybe less gaudy signs in Las Vegas?

Generally the accepted answer in the EV crowd is that 250 watt-hours will take you one mile at 55mph. So, to take you 100 miles, you need 25kwh of power on board, or higher efficiency. Some EVs consume less than 250wh per mile.
A space heater usually tops out at 1.5kw, to account for most 110v outlets being on 15 amp circuits. (1650w max) So an hour of a space-heater at maximum consumption is 1.5kwh.
A 220v clothes dryer will consume around 2.6kw..

So electric cars actually DO consume large amounts of power, however they are much more efficient than combustion engines.

Let's face it, plug-in electric cars still represent a wildly extravagant use of energy.

It's better than the current alternative...

Paging Paris Hilton, your Limo has arrived.

In my opinion the plug-in fantasy car and the stretch Hummer are shades of the same disease. In one you're hauling about 5000 pounds of superfluous metal and plastic. In the other you're hauling about 3,000 pounds of superfluous metal and plastic and battery. Maybe it's time to, quite literally, think outside the box. Or at least figure out how to make the box a hell of a lot lighter.

My electric bicycle does my 14-mile commute on 0.4 KWH, so 100 miles
would take 2.8 KWH or 1/8 of the amount for an electric car. If you
can live without the metal box, you save a lot. The e-bike gets
over 1,000 miles per gallon in energy equivalent.

25 KWH for 100 miles in a car is around $2.50 worth of electricity.
You can generate that amount each day with 6 KW of photovoltaic
solar panels, which is what I have on my roof.

If technologists can make the solar panels cheaper and develop a
battery as good as lithium that is affordable and has the raw materials
available, getting off oil is quite doable.

Average use is a lot less than 100 miles per day, and in practise long commutes are likely to be hard hit.
We won't just be replacing ICE cars with EV's, in anything like current American use patterns.
The average use then, for, say 20 miles a day, would be around 5kwh - obviously it draws a considerable charge when you are using it, but many do not run it many hours of the day.
Here are some comparisons with plasma TV's:

We're not given enough details here to do precise comparisons, but the thing is that plasma TV's are usually run more hours a day than most people drive.

I doubt that we actually will build more than, say, a tenth of the current ICE fleet for many years, so worries about the power for them are pretty premature - we only have EV's in the thousand at the moment, not in the million.

OK. I answered my own question. Hope this is not too far off the mark.

From Wikipedia, Source of All Truth: "Production and conversion electric cars typically use 10 to 23 kW·h/100 km (0.17 to 0.37 kW·h/mi)." That's 37 KWH for 100 miles at the high end (presumably a fairly large, fast car.) You can carry a lot of stuff in a car if you plan, and 100 miles is really quite a long ways-- a good four-day walk, for example.

Clothes dryer uses about 4.4KW, or 4.4 KWH to dry a load of clothes (one hour to bone dry).

The scale of things is evident -- we could easily have a productive, mobile economy with exactly the energy input we now have if we just hung our laundry out to dry!

I have no idea how much energy is required to produce the battery pack; Does Anyone? Anyone?

However, from a purely economic point of view it looks like you're in the range of $0.04/mi. for electricity (depending on where you live, the size of the car, how fast you drive, etc.)

If I add in $10,000.00 for the battery pack, and drive 150,000 miles at $0.04/mi. it looks like I'm up to about $16,000.00 for mojo. If I drive that 150,000 miles getting 25 mph on E-85 at a cost/gallon of $2.00 it looks like $12,000.00.

And, I'm not left trying to sell a used car with a depleted battery.

kdolliso, your calculation does a disservice to the debate as the simplistic figures leave out a major cost saving of electric cars over ICE cars. That saving is the much lower service costs incurred by electric cars that would exceed that $4000 "saving" of $12000 Vs $16000.
Also over the 10-20 year life of the car do you really think E-85 will not rise higher than $2? As the spread on oil contracts (09 to 2014) show the market is pricing in a minimum $30 rise in oil from todays depressed $50/barrel it would be better to do the calculations at a minimum of $4 over the life of the car. That raises your $$12000 to $24000 and makes the electric car cheaper even if the price of electricity also doubles.
E-85 is useful but electric cars are the game changer (along with electric rail and a lower consumption society).

You still have to pay for tires, suspension, steering, brakes, A/C, windshield wipers, etc. The cost to maintain modern engines and transmissions is now relegated to fluid changes and filters, and spark plugs at 100,000 miles. The actual expense to maintain the components of an electric vehicle over 150,000 miles have yet to be determined. Will batteries last 10 years at a rate of 15,000 miles a year? The life span of batteries is determined by the number of charging cycles. The electronic control modules are big bucks, many costing over $1,000. I'm guessing the first generation of electric cars will need about 5 years of trial and error before their service cost over their lifetime is lower than ICE vehicles.

Ask someone who purchased a 2000 or 2001 Honda Insight what happened when the battery pack wore out or the engine control module or battery control module needed replacing. Many owners paid up to $5,000 to get their batteries replaced and working again. Although, you can drive them on just their 3 cylinders without the batteries. It is actually kind of fun to drive with such low power. You really have to pay attention:)

How does that compare with running your clothes dryer or space heater??

Since I air dry my clothes and use a heat pump, the answer is zero. My goal was >3,000 kWh this year, but I am up to 3,397 kWh after 11 months.

Just replacing people transport by EVs (early calcs by others on TOD) would take about 17% of our current electrical production. OTOH, people AND freight by electrified rail should be about 4% with TOD.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Yes, that about sums it up. I wish people would give up on the BAU by other means fantasies and start looking at reorganising the way we live to eliminate the need for personal transport. But, of course neither of these things will happen and we will merrily advance towards our dystopian future lead by the utopian fantasists.

We don't need new technologies, we just need to change the way we use what we have. But I guess there is no profit in wisdom.

There will always be a need for personal transport, it's just that we are used to extreme, private mobility that takes us over huge huge distances, preferably by cars as large as possible to impress our surrounding.

And you guessed wrong: of course there is a profit in wisdom! All you have to do is to nominate it in something else then cash. Like understanding that retirement fantasies are just that. Or being mentally prepared for the great disorders that await us in next 2 decades.

Agreed about the "BAU by other means fantasies" -- arguably the whole plug-in car thing falls under this heading, but we don't need to eliminate the need for personal transport. Heck I say do more personal transport. Personal transport yourself all over the place. Some forms of personal transport do not suck wildly extravagant amounts of energy from the grid or ground and do no inordinate harm to the environment. One even provides significant health benefits to the transportee, and the more transportation one does in this mode the healthier that individual will be.

Personal transport is not the enemy. Our egregious lack of imagination about personal transport is the enemy.


Electric cars suffer from the conservation of energy problem... We need to have energy to propel these things. And where will the energy come from? That's the trillion dollar question. If it's solar or nuclear (with a closed loop fuel reprocessing system) or wind we're OK. If it's coal, coal, coal... well, then we're not doing do hot.

For a variety of technical# and social reasons, electric cars use MANY times the energy that electrified rail would.


# Rolling resistance, aerodynamic resistance, battery losses (less out than in), "parasitic" weight of batteries that have to be hauled around, and the energy inefficient way of life that they will be used to support.

Alan... I totally agree with electrified rail. The airline industry should be dismantled and electrified rail should cross the country and reach to every city with a population over 50,000. The long-haul trucking industry should also be dismantled and should only cover loads from the railyard to the local businesses.

I think the only issue we have is how to get the commuter from the from the train station to the front door of their home. We'll need personal vehicles to do that, unless we go streetcar, intracity commuter train (ala Metro in DC) or electrified bus, which is a whole other level of investment (but not to say it's impossible...).

And as a side note, did you have an electric train set as a kid? I'm guessing that was your favorite toy... :)

And as a side note, did you have an electric train set as a kid? I'm guessing that was your favorite toy... :)

Personal Note

I am not a "rail fan". I am a fan of what rail can do. This surprises and even shocks my "fellow travelers" in rail advocacy.

I never owned a toy train, I am more of an aviation buff (co-moderator of the Boeing Board until recently). I would rather ride a modern rail transit system (to learn by observation) than visit a rail museum (although I also learn things there).

I see steam trains not as "romantic" but as thermodynamically inefficient and polluting (a lonely position I can assure you in rail circles, and one I keep quiet about).

Almost by accident, I moved into a historic area that was served by an old (since 1834) streetcar line. As an engineer interested in durability, I was intrigued by the 1923/24 streetcars and I liked riding them (both the cars themselves and seeing the city, St. Charles Avenue is the most picturesque avenue in the USA).

Slowly, I saw how essential the streetcar was for the walkable, human scale beautiful area I lived in. How essential it was to NOT be 100% dependent upon the automobile; and how cars stole space from people and made life ugly and isolated.

My understanding and theories did not come from a textbook, but from living and observing life (plus some searching the internet, talking to old experts and thinking while walking). I expanded from local advocacy to national advocacy.

Best Hopes,


cars stole space from people

I like that perspective.

Years ago I spent some time in a small town in Colorado, Vail I think it was, or maybe Aspen, after they had banned cars and instituted buses "downtown". Since of course everybody drove, you had to park at the edge as sort of a town "park and ride", or you could just walk.

It seemed to me at the time that such an arrangement had a lot of value, as density of shops increased while road and parking went way down. It wasn't perfect, though, as you still had stinky buses to avoid and slushy roads to cross.

The mile-long shopping area here could benefit hugely from mass transit -- congested roads and crowded parking lots. I have noodled about the notion of a giant park-and-ride right next to the highway and another at the far end of the strip, with a couple of concentric streetcar lines where roads and parking are today (with another new layer of shops in-filling the saved space.

People welcome density when it comes to shopping and dining -- why not use that as the motivation to start small with urban rail/trams and make it a positive feature while getting some infrastructure started?

But are electric cars more or less efficient over all than Diesel in going from rail terminal to rail terminal? We can't all live in the railway station.

You have to include all of the inefficiencies -- costs of extraction, refining, and transportation of fuel, for example. And what is the overall efficiency of converting biomass to energy when taken through electricity vs. liquid fuels?

I suppose the answers are so fraught with political, financial and emotional baggage that straight answers are impossible.

We can't all live in the railway station.

New Orleans once had 222 miles of streetcar lines (plus some electric trolley buses). Almost everyone was within walking distance of electrified transportation.

Best Hopes for Broadening our Vision,


Last time I was in New Orleans I had a chance to talk with a native while waiting for a freight train to pass and let us out of the riverwalk. He loved the street-cars, except for all the tourists who ride them! They slow things up tremendously because they never know what they're doing. I've had the same experience in San Francisco, after trying it once, you learn to avoid the Powell/Hyde street line, just the lines of tourists will keep off of it if you really need to get somewhere. What a day it will be when street-cars return to being viewed as normal transit and not tourist attractions!

And what is the overall efficiency of converting biomass to energy when taken through electricity vs. liquid fuels?

Biomass is, and will likely remain, a minor source of electricity. But it is often the easiest energy use of biomass.

Landfill gas is occasional used for factories (several brick makers produce next to landfills), but the #1 use is to power a several MW diesel generator.

Bagasse (sugar cane waste) can be, and is sometimes, used to power a small steam electrical plant. Likewise wood waste.

Hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, solar and nuclear are all likely to be larger sources of electricity than biomass in the future. And any source can run electrified rail.

Best Hopes,


I get the impression, however, that most people, even on this site, have difficulty visualizing living in an environment where they can do without a car. Having lived in Germany for several years, this is what I did with my only form of personal transport a bicyle. Alas, it seems that the vast majority would prefer to live in cities and towns cluttered with high powered vehicles as their personal form of liberation. I don't think most people are even conscious of how totally ugly their surroundings are, cluttered with big box stores and parking lots. It is like a fish in water not aware of the water.

Alas, it seems that the vast majority would prefer to live in cities and towns cluttered with high powered vehicles as their personal form of liberation.

No, actually, I think the vast majority prefer to live away from cities and towns. That's the problem.

Americans just don't like high population density. Even our cities are thinly populated by global standards. In our hearts, we're like Pa Ingalls in the Little House books: when we can see the chimney smoke of our nearest neighbor, it's time to move on.

we're like Pa Ingalls in the Little House books: when we can see the chimney smoke of our nearest neighbor, it's time to move on.

Obviously, not everyone feels that way -- Alan of Big Easy, for example. Sort of off the wall, but I have been thinking for a long time that this apparent need to press on ahead of advancing civilization might be a hereditary trait, found mostly (but not exclusively, and certainly not with 100% penetrance) in Indo-European descendants.

It explains post hoc at least, why Europeans have been so successful in colonizing the world and exploiting the world's resources since the beginning of the IndoEuropean expansion some 6000 years ago or so. But we now seem to be falling short in maintaining as that trait becomes maladaptive in a declining resource environment.

We can't help it. We're genetically challenged!

Obviously, not everyone feels that way -- Alan of Big Easy, for example.

New Orleans is sparsely populated by global standards. Some examples:

Mumbai, India: 29,650/km²
Karachi, Pakistan: 18,900/km²
Lagos, Nigeria: 18,150/km²
Lima, Peru: 11,750/km²
Manila, The Philippines: 10,550/km²
St. Petersburgh, Russia: 8,550/km²
Tokyo, Japan: 4,750/km²
New Orleans: 1,950/km² (probably before Katrina)

I don't think there's anything special about Indo-Europeans. Since we left Africa, we've been heading for new frontiers. The speed at which we moved, even when all we had was shank's mare, is pretty amazing.

I think it comes down to what we're used to. We Americans may have to learn to deal with higher population density, as others all over the world have.

I suspect dealing with density will be relatively easy if we can answer the harder questions of "what will they do?" and "how will we feed them?".

NO may be "sparsely populated", but Alan recounts a time when practically everyone lived within walking distance of the streetcar.

Out where I live, there is one bus per day to Portland, and we consider ourselves lucky to have any public transportation. Of course from most places in the county, you need a car to get to the bus.

I disagree-- I think there is something especially aggressive and exploitative about Europeans. And I believe it is genetic (but NOT racial! -- an essentially meaningless category.) I also believe it has been an extraordinarily adaptive trait-- until now. Another behavioral trait allows people to be quite happy living in what to me is appalling population concentrations, and submitting meekly to the most brutal totalitarian authority.

I say it is a "genetic" trait (though no one has ever explained how behavior can be passed genetically) because I really doubt that people learn these things. They are just born that way.

I say it is a "genetic" trait (though no one has ever explained how behavior can be passed genetically) because I really doubt that people learn these things. They are just born that way.

I don't think so. I think it's cultural.

A lot of Americans these days are not Indo-European, yet they want McMansions in the 'burbs just like everyone else.

Similarly, a lot of people in Central and South America are Indo-European, yet are perfectly happy living in tiny city apartments at densities that even New Yorkers cannot fathom.

Sorry-- it's sort of a silly argument. Nature v. Nurture and all that.

One of my children LOVES Washington D.C. (admittedly not the densest of metro areas, but more so than anything I can fathom.) One is very content in a small town on the Columbia River. One seems happiest staying home on the small farm where she was raised. All of them were raised the same way, so far as anyone can tell, and within a space of a very few years.

Popular wisdom codifies my hypothesis as "wanderlust." Some kids have it, some don't.

In all populations there is a relatively small proportion whose children strike out on their own, and even in Europe, the where my putative "wandergene" has its highest concentration, most people stay home and submit to their government. People with the wandergene adapt very poorly to their culture -- heroes in one setting are criminals in another.

If a "wandergene" exists, would it not have its highest concentration in the US, the nation of immigrants? We have the wanderers from Europe, as well as those from Africa and Asia.

However, I think "wandering" is built into Homo sapiens, though of course expressed more in some than others. In particular, adolescents of many species tend to get the urge to leave. Probably to avoid inbreeding. Even when we have it real good - free food and shelter, cooking and laundry done by mom, not too much nagging - most of us do end up leaving home.

My "Wandergene" is overexpressed in my brain and is completely inhibited elsewhere.

I'm a wanderer from a family of wanderers. As I've mentioned before, my dad's career is international agriculture, so I grew up all over the world. (That's why I was handing out rat-salad sandwiches, for those who were wondering. ;-) I left home at 18, and basically have never gone back, except for short holiday visits.

My family is now scattered across the country. But my parents settled down back at home as they got older, and I'm definitely seeing the appeal as time goes by. Especially with peak oil looming.

If not for peak oil, I might like to be one of those retirees who travels the country in a RV. But I'm not expecting that to be affordable, assuming I ever get to retire, which is doubtful.

You need a canal-boat Leanan. I am not sure how popular they are in the States, but in the UK and Europe a lot of people who feel like you have a canal boat instead of a house.
The thing is, if things do indeed get tough, you can rip out all of the fancy living bits you have put in, and go back to using it to transport goods - the Lake Erie canal springs to mind.

The other alternative, of course, is the traditional gypsy caravan, and tinkering, which can be supplemented by story telling, and what the unkind call thieving, or the right minded would refer to as informal foraging activities to encourage liquidity of assets in the community, kind of like a banker! :-)

I can see you mending pots!

Leanan-- I don't know how far you want to carry this discussion, but yes, it should be, and it definitely seems to be expressed more heavily here. NO DATA THOUGH!

Cars are sold because they allow people the "freedom" to "wander" where ever they want to go. Other sales appeals could be used -- and are-- but that has been most successful here ("See the USA/In your Chevrolet", etc.)

Whatever we are talking about is clearly not an all or nothing thing -- there are gradients: adventurousness to safety, novelty and possible discomfort to safety, comfort and security, respect for authority to complete rejection, etc.

If these are somehow genetically controlled, we don't know what the genes are, and certainly have no way of knowing how they will be expressed in subsequent generations. However, dogs can be bred that will tend to wander or stay home fairly reliably.

My original point was that I believe the human race has genetically determined behavioral gradients that are differently adaptive in different environments. When the "West was won" it required risk takers. Now we need people who are willing to stay put and submit to discipline. Over a small period of time -- probably a couple of generations -- we can "evolve" to a species that remains in balance with our resource base. Not by actually changing our genome, but by selection of traits that are already present.

I suspect that Singapore, for example, is a view of a possible future. That population isn't really coerced into high density life -- they seem to like it. I would go mad.

The City of New Orleans includes a National Wildlife Refuge within it's boundaries (so does NYC I think). Likely not true of Karachi. This has an impact on such statistics.

I do think that there is room enough for what I call "human scale density", with plenty of greenery, beauty, etc. along with corner grocery stores and no pressing need for a car.

Manhattan is one option, but it is *NOT* the only viable option post-Peak Oil.

Best Hopes for using the Lower Garden District as a template,


"I have been thinking for a long time that this apparent need to press on ahead of advancing civilization might be a hereditary trait, found mostly (but not exclusively, and certainly not with 100% penetrance) in Indo-European descendants."

It isn't hereditary, it is cultural, and stems in part from ancient greek philosophy. From those roots we now view the world as a material thing that can be classified and broken down into little bits, which we name and study. And this gives us a feeling of control over a system that is complex beyond our understanding. Unfortunately the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but we continue to think that by studying the parts we will understand and be able to control the whole.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance talk s about this very issue

Sustained high prices for core-urban condos and lofts in the face of the real estate price collapse indicate that there is more demand than supply for very dense housing in the US. Younger people especially seem to prefer the energy of dense cities to the somnolence of the suburbs. Add in a few years of fluctuating gas prices and pre-conceived notions about US preferences may be proved false.
Even today I sincerely doubt that "the vast majority prefer to live away from cities and towns", either on TOD or among the US population in general.
Decades of public policy and trillions in marketing dollars have served to define a suburban "American Dream" but I think that is dying along with GM and the SUV.

We live in an inner suburb (inside the DC beltway). Our 16-year-old has a driver's license and access to a car. He has zero interest in driving. He walks to school and to shops (grocery store, drugstore, bookstore, and restaurants). We encourage him to drive because we believe it is an essential life skill, but we applaud his decision to be a walker. First on his list of criteria for universities is that it be in a city.

As tempting as it is to believe he is an outlier, many of his friends feel the same way. Naturally, he has plenty of peers who fill the high-school parking lot every day, but there is a substantial, if minority, group in this demographic that is ready to leave the car behind. Seeing this makes it hard for me to be a doomer because he belongs to a thoughtful generation that seems (at least sometimes) to focus on quality of life over quantity of possessions.

His mother and I have already decided we will retire "downtown" so we can walk and metro everywhere.

For a variety of technical# and social reasons, electric cars use MANY times the energy that electrified rail would.

Sure... but the real comparison is how they compare to gasoline-powered vehicles and in to what extent electricity generation is segregated from crude supplies/prices.

They could help quite a bit with a transition period, since the most pressing need to to move away from crude oil. If that move is to natural-gas-fired electricity generation... it handles the current problem pretty well. Then you don't have to replace all of the existing vehicles 20-30 years down the road as you move to more wind/solar/geo/wave/fusion/whatever.

Alan, while I agree with your principals on the advantages of electrified rail over those of electrified cars, I must point out what I consider some obvious observations on which will be implemented in the United States first.

With Electrified Rails, we will have to 'rebuild' suburbia from the ground up. There is a HUGE amount of money and energy invested in these developments. Since electrified rail can not be expected to replace every neighborhood street with light rail systems, there will be a huge cost, not to mention the political ramifications, of relocating hundreds of millions of families back into the city centers. On the account of political will alone, I consider it an unlikely scenario.

On the other hand, with Electrified Cars, we will only have to retrofit our gas stations with high transmission power lines. We would be able to continue to use our existing production methods to build the same cars that people already drive, and no massive infrastructure changes will need to be implemented.

Lets say it costs us only $2 trillion to retool our car manufacturing and construct/modify our charging stations, but $10 trillion to construct a nationwide network of light rail systems and relocate the US population back into dense and walkable city centers. Which do you think we will choose?

Obviously, whose to say we cant do both?

I'm sure you have heard all of this before, but I would still like your feedback on the matter?

Suburbia is an energy inefficient form. High VMT, high electrical use (twice/capita urban), high infrastructure maintenance (many more feet of raods, water, sewer, electrical lines/capita), high residential maintenance.

On the last point, Suburban housing was designed to last about 30 years before major repairs (roughly ~1970 to 1995) or 20 years (1995 to date).

Clinging to Suburbia perpetuates an energy inefficient life style. It will all need repairs "soon", so why fix it when those funds could be better used elsewhere ?

Why throw good money after bad ?

Best Hopes,


Focus should be on rebuilding cities and towns in such a way that cars were largely unneccessary. Having lived in a city, where a car was not necessary, I know how liberating it is not to be dependent. But that, of course, is just me and a few others. Most people apparently see cars as an absolute necessity even when there are good alternatives.


I see a disconnect between this post and the one you made 10-12 minutes later just above.

Are you advocating more urban lifestyles or getting away from big ugly boxes? I can see people living in a rural setting thinking that the sprawl of BestBuy/Costco/Walmart/etc streets in suburban areas are ugly... but I can't see someone who lives in a big city feeling the same way.

but I can't see someone who lives in a big city feeling the same way

HUH !!

I live surrounded by beauty. A few minutes ago I just walked to the corner grocery store (Zara's 2.5 blocks away). I routinely take a different route to and from Zara's to more fully enjoy the view :-)

Nothing in bloom ATM (some trumpet flowers are at last stages), but a clear crisp day :-) Beautiful buildings, old sidewalks (some old brick), greenery, sound of the streetcar going by.

And very low VMT.

I am appalled by the ugliness every time I go into Suburbia.

Best Hopes for Beauty and Function,


I can see people living in a rural setting thinking that the sprawl of BestBuy/Costco/Walmart/etc streets in suburban areas are ugly... but I can't see someone who lives in a big city feeling the same way.

Maybe you've just never lived in an attractive city. They do have these, but the problem as of late is that it's been extremely expensive. It's tough to afford a good, attractive area in a nice city.

One block from me


$1,400/month for 2 bedroom and scarce off street parking. Nice building.

Condos for $250,000 (2 bedroom, nice rebuild) also close.

Lower quality and smaller homes are cheaper.

NOT free, but not hyper-expensive either.


And when the next CAT 5 blows thru, who is going to pay to rebuild it?

And when its under water, from AGW, who will pay?

And when the people that lived in it cry to the government to bail them out, who will pay?

And when the massive subsidies for rail are requested to be able to move goods and services farther up the River, because "we made a mistake and built in the flood plain", who will pay?

That's my question. Who will pay for it? The cities like NOLA, NYC and many others, only exist because someone else pays the true cost. Not the people that live there. Currently they produce nothing of tangible good. They produce no energy. They only consume. They are only Human.

New Orleans "produces" medical doctors (two medical schools, LSU & Tulane), dentists (LSU) and other University graduates (Tulane, Univ. of NO, Loyola, Xavier are the larger ones, Dillard, SUNO, Southern Nursing School, LSU Dental School are smaller ones).

New Orleans is the low energy transfer point for the continent with it's ocean and river barge port (barge North on Mississippi and E-W on Intracoastal Canal) and six of seven Class I railroads (only Chicago has as many).

New Orleans supports the oil & gas production and exploration off-shore.

Our stretch of the river is the #2 oil refining and petrochemical complex in the USA (and top 5 world-wide).

Ship and barge repair in-town, ship building across river and near-by.

New Orleans roasts about 1/3rd of USA coffee. Other food manufacturing as well (new facility to freeze poultry for export underway). Domino sugar refinery a couple hundred yards downriver from New Orleans.

New Orleans "produces" music and culture.


Don't see anything PRODUCED on your list. Not to be a pain, but NOLA really does not produce anything of consequence. Much like the financial industry in NYC, it feeds off the outside energy of others, it manipulates things that others produce. Roasting coffee, repairing boats, moving oil this way and that. Lots of hustle and bustle. Medical doctors and dentists, well yeh, maybe I could heat my house with the BS they give off....that's what modern large cities do. Feed off of the smaller residential areas and farm populations. Feed off of the subsidies and taxes taken by force from the people outside of the cities. Music and culture? A city is not needed for that, and most of what NOLA has in terms of music creation, came from the countryside anyway.

One needs to step out of the Current way of life, that has been the result of free energy for the past 100 years. Trying to project into the future, an optimistic vision of the current structure, leads to nowhere. Too many people, project current technology into an ever growing society. More trains, more solar power, more dams, more electricity, more more more. Step off the Merry-Go-Round of technology. Living within the Natural World, will be the only path for our survival. A city is not a natural thing. A modern large city is a Cancer.

New Orleans metro is more productive than the rest of Louisiana, just as New York metro is more productive than the rest of New York. That's why rural areas feed off urban areas.
This will change when our currency balance of payments renormalizes and the rural areas become more prosperous. I expect that they will gain population for primary and secondary production jobs and experience rising house prices, just as the urban areas lose population and experience falling house prices.
I fully expect the difference in house prices to fall to only two or three per square foot.
Which is important, because the government is going bankrupt and there won't be any more rural/conservative welfare government transfers going forward.
It's not going to be like it was from our founding till around 1920, when rural areas subsidized urban areas, but it's not going to be like it was 1920 to now when it is the other way around.

Don't see anything PRODUCED on your list....Feed off the small... Living within the Natural World, will be the only path for our survival. A city is not a natural thing. A modern large city is a Cancer.


RE: Production - What do you want, Corn? Iron? Cows? Flint arrowheads? Music and culture are the essence of who we are.

RE: Who's feeding on whom... You've had some bad 'shrooms me thinks.

RE: Cancer - The cancer is the symptom of our time, over consumption and exploitation of cheap and easy energy not of of cities, per se.

Homo sapiens is a social animal. Cities are natural. Cahokia, Chaco Canyon, Athens, Rome. As long as humans exist there will be cities. There is no going back even through the worst catastrophic scenario. If humans survive, cities and technology will too. We are smarter than yeast I hope.

Best hope for deliberately achieving a balance.

I bought my home in Iowa last spring for only $21k. About 1000 sq ft with a 1/3 acre lot 2-car garage and two tool sheds. Best home I've ever had even though the nearest supermarket is 6 miles away and the nearest McDonalds is 30 miles. $250k for a small condo? $1400/mo for an apartment? No wonder cities are full of homeless folks at those prices.

These prices were for larger places of top quality construction/renovation. MUCH lower prices are available.

Mine is simply too cheap, but I would prefer not to post it on the internet. Suffice to say that it is close to a mortgage payment on $50,000.


Vast parking lots and their associated big boxes, etc. exist in both cities and suburbs. However, there are cities that one typically finds in the U.S. and then there are other cities typical of Europe where a lot less space is devoted to parking. There are also certainly examples of small towns and villages where parking is minimal to nonexistent. It is all about how the town or city is structured. The village or small town with minimal auto traffic or parking, of course, is more likely to be found in Europe since many of those towns were created before the auto. There are also vast areas within large cities where because of their early development have minimal to no auto traffic. In principle, we could have towns,villages, and cities within the U.S. which reverted to an earlier model without heavy domination of the auto.

I don't see a disconnect as a village within a rural setting could be structured in such a way as to not require heavy auto use and parking.

While I agree that many people can live in urban areas and never have to own a car, you still have to have the rural farming areas where people grow the food that the people in the urban areas eat. Rural residents must have some form of transportation. Even a farmer cannot make everything that he/she needs to support himself.

"an historic transfer of relative wealth and economic power from West to East"

To me, that is the most frightening thing about Peak Oil. The Communists used to say that capitalists will sell them the rope with which the capitalists will be hanged. Now it will be the Saudis.

I don't have to argue Peak Oil in Calgary, but I have American and European correspondents who don't think about this aspect of the oil biz.

Communist will loan capitalist the money to buy the rope to hang themselves with.

But the Chinese will put a velcro closure on the noose; plus make it cheaper.

Last I knew, the People's Republic of China was still officially "communist."

What of Fukuyama's "End of History" now?

I studied human geography in the early ninetees. The fact that a transfer of power from West to East and from North to South would occur was reckoned back than. Outsourcing and the location of mineral wealth were the main arguments for this to happen. Well...

Now it will be the Saudis.

Unfortunately those Saudis have mostly spent those dollars buying Western bank and insurance stocks.

Sadly, it now looks like our government is holding out the tin cup to the Middle Eastern OPEC members...

US seeks 300 billion dlrs from Gulf states: report

Strict Legal Civil Liability for Motorists in Accidents with Pedestrians and Cyclists

This puts the onus of responsibility on drivers in civil compensation cases in the event of a collision – not on the cyclist or pedestrian as is the case here [UK]. It does not affect criminal cases. Furthermore, as Roadpeace reports [link to pdf], in several of these countries children and the elderly are deemed not liable for their actions in civil cases


A necessary change as we transition into a post-Peak Oil world IMHO.

Best Hopes for Safer Bicycling,


From the text: "As you focus on keeping your position centimetres from the kerb there's little else you can do sometimes but pray."

That's where the problem starts. Any cyclist riding 'centimetres from the kerb' virtually invites motorists to pass him without sufficient safe distance. I have experienced hundreds of times how cars slow down behind me and wait, until there is no more oncoming traffic, and then pass me - most often with safe distance of 2 metres, as required.

There is no reason to ride so close to the kerb. Cyclists should always be moving at least 1 meter left from it (and that happens to be the place where the right wheels of cars are running.)
Enough distance from the kerb is recommended by cyclist organisations, and is even required by law in the German STVO (road traffic regulations.)

A fundamental problem is that are way too many motorists on the road that are in way too much of a d@mn hurry.

There really is no good reason why traffic in any built-up residential area (where cars are parking, turning into and out of driveways, and streets are being shared by cyclists) really needs to be moving faster than 25-30 mph. There are too many urban streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or higher; of course, in the minds of a lot of motorists, that 35mph becomes a minimum rather than a maximum speed, which in turn means that unless you have exceptionally rigorous enforcement, you've really got traffic moving down urban streets at 40-45 mph. That is way too fast, especially if bikes are sharing the road. Add in lack of inadequate sidewalks for pedestrians, and you've got accidents just waiting to happen.

The speed limit on most New Orleans streets is 25 mph (40 kph) and 35 mph (56 kph) for streets with a neutral ground (median to y'all). It does make bicycling easier.


And soon please...

The most recent known local deaths due to driving at killing speeds in Louisville KY are:

*Clara Watts - November 13, 2008 - pedestrian
* Travis Caudell Jr. - November 3, 2008 - pedestrian
* Clayton Heeke - October 21, 2008 - 14 year old cyclist - driver charged w possession of marijuana
* Deborah Pierce - October 15, 2008 - pedestrian - Bardstown Rd & Gene Snyder - no crosswalk in the area
* Maria Ndimuzigo - October 11, 2008 - pedestrian - hit and run
* Jen Futrell - October 3, 2008 - cyclist - hit from behind on Bardstown Rd, mid afternoon, conditions: sunny & dry

Court Says Shell Can’t Drill Near Alaska

A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked Royal Dutch Shell from drilling oil wells off Alaska’s North Slope after finding that the Interior Department had failed to conduct an environmental study before issuing the company’s drilling permit.

In a long-awaited ruling, the court said that the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency in charge of offshore leasing, had violated the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act by failing to take a “hard look” at the impact that offshore drilling would have on bowhead whales in the Beaufort Sea as well as indigenous communities on the North Slope.

A friend and I were having a conversation about just how much damage the Bush administration can still do before they leave office. I was hopeful that law suits would slow any rash decisions. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and the Bush people will be so inept that they'll have a hard time getting anything done in a proper legal way. This lame duck government is bad for the economy, but it might turn out to be good for the good for the environment.

there is a supreme court case to be decided in january, brought by the forrest service and coeur d'alene mines that addresses a similar question. does the forrest service (or mms) have the authority to issue permits or not ?

and given the current make-up of the court it is anybody's guess. i imagine the hard right contingent of the court tearing their hair out on this one.

Quoted verbatim below is a letter to the editor of our local newspaper (Wilmington, DE). I swear, I am not making this up.

...... "It is cruel to expect Americans to give up their vans, trucks, and SUVs because of outrageously high gas prices. We have the oil. Get it, refine it, and we'll have enough to keep gas prices low for a long time.

After all, we need room in vehicles for children, friends, groceries, luggage, and anything else Americans need to transport in this land of the free and home of the brave.' .....

It was by a woman from Newark, DE. I wonder if her husband works for the soon-to-closed Chrysler Newark Plant, which makes Dodge Durangos. It is thinking like this that truly makes me despair about the general public's willingness to change anything.

Hi joule

"need to transport"

That will change. And we already know the general public will only do that when all other options are no longer possible. Why despair? This is nothing new for you, joule. I asume you have your act together as far as possible. Make something off it, for the better of you and yours.

My wife's family lives up there - I had to go online to check to make sure that this woman wasn't related. Fortunately she wasn't..

Here is a link to the LTE:

The whole thing leaves me somewhat speechless.

Fields of Grain and Losses

In this lonesome stretch near the Texas border, farmers are getting an early taste of a deflationary world. They have finished planting next year’s winter wheat, turning the fields a brilliant emerald green. But it cost about $6 a bushel in fuel, seed and fertilizer to put the crop in. That is $1 more than they could sell it for today, and never mind other expenses like renting land.

I can see a disaster unfolding.

The way I understand PO, it all comes down to food, essentially, eventually.

Some still maintain Malthus was wrong. Natural resources are not fixed, but are determined by advances in science and technology -- oil extraction, for example and other such drivel. (That is from a glitzy site called National Center for Policy Analysis

In the end, we are all food. For bacteria.

I'm just wondering WHY they have planted their winter wheat!?! Are they unable to do the math? It seems to me, that doing the math is not as important for the US farmers as for us in Australia. It seems to me, that the subsidies from Washington are still high enough, so that those guys just don't have to behave like a entrepreneur in a free market. Afterwards moaning around is so typical for them, hoping for yet another "bailout" from the USDA.

We have a wheat farm in Australia. We get ZERO subsidies. If at the time of planting next May, the price of wheat is LOWER than the input costs, we will not plant anything. Quite simple, isn't it?

Prices two to three weeks ago were slightly profitable for wheat farmers. Do you decide not to plant at all then? It's only in the last ten days that we see a steady downward trend on wheat futures that leaves farmers in the hole.

Government warns of "catastrophic" U.S. quake

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - People in a vast seismic zone in the southern and midwestern United States would face catastrophic damage if a major earthquake struck there and should ensure that builders keep that risk in mind, a government report said on Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said if earthquakes strike in what geologists define as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, they would cause "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States."

FEMA predicted a large earthquake would cause "widespread and catastrophic physical damage" across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee -- home to some 44 million people.

I remember reading an article in a civil engineering magazine years ago, which warned about earthquakes in the eastern half of the US. It described the New Madrid earthquake. Though earthquakes happen more rarely in the eastern US, they are likely to be far more destructive when they do happen, because 1) we don't build for them and 2) the more solid bedrock transmits the vibration further. The New Madrid quake caused damage as far away as Maine.

And yet, even though everyone agrees it's just a matter of time, and that when it happens it will be exceedingly destructive...nobody wants to do anything drastic, like change the building codes.

Leanan, on a side note, I always wonder why structures in tornado alley are not build from bricks.

That ain't the half of it. It has been my observation that the long dangling snouts of tornados are looking for an opposing charge, thus they swing towards metal or water conductors. Here's an article from 1880 New York Times which portrays the same observation in delightful period manner.


It's a short PDF and if the link doesn't work Google tornados metal roofs. Trailer parks are tornado magnets. Darwin's hut. But Alcoa still maintains that the world is flat. If you don't have a metal roof or siding, you don't need bricks. Every tornado season the carnage of the tin roofs repeats itself but you're a conspiracy theorist if you point out the statistical evidence. After all, it's never the rich folks that get hit.

Tornados are attracted by metal roofs? Sounds like a great energy opportunity, wouldn't even need blades on your turbine. Some intermittency issues.

Except that, y'know, the "tornados attracted to metal" thing is insane. I'll go out on that limb without even googling.

I'll add that nobody is immune based upon income.

Super Outbreak April 3/4 1974 killed indiscriminately.


Many brick-sided homes are completely destroyed by strong tornadoes, as flying materials are sufficient to batter through the cladding. A masonry structure can be built to withstand tornadoes, but it would require more than a "brick house" by today's definition. Structural masonry or structural steel would do better. Those pesky windows still create vulnerabilities though!

While the high winds in a tornado do cause large amounts of damage, the main problem is the fact that there is low pressure inside the vortex. When the vortex passes over a structure, the sudden drop in pressure outside vs. inside places a strong upward force on the structure's roof. That's why one often hears stories about houses "exploding" or roofs lifting off the building. Looking at aerial photos of a tornado's path thru a built up area shows how concentrated the damage can be due to the winds and pressure change. Either way, the result is major damage.

EDIT: Consider what happens with a 2 psi pressure differential. That's 288 psf. A 4x8 ft sheet of plywood or OSB roof decking would experience a force of 9,216 pounds in an outward direction. Roof and wall design loads are about 20 psf in a downward or inward direction. The outward force on the roof will pull the nails out of the rafters (or purlins) or lift the entire roof from the walls where the joists are typically toe nailed to the plate at the top of the walls. If the tornado is moving with a horizontal speed of 45 mph (66 fps) the pressure differential can occur within less than 1 second. KaBoom!

E. Swanson

I'd say that it's a cost/benefit decision.

Brick can be surprisingly more expensive if you don't live close to the manufacturer... and few homes are really "brick"... it's just a brick veneer on the front (which does you next to nothing). Would you spend 10% more on a home to decrease the chance of storm damage by 1% ? Plus they hardly proof against a tornado (the roof isn't brick after all). Usually, a hole in the ground is the safest place to be.

Since this is in-line with comments about earthquakes where you don't expect to get earthquakes... I should also point out that brick homes suffer even in weak earthquakes.

The article I mentioned had some predictions for New York City. They thought the bridges and skyscrapers would likely withstand a New Madrid type quake. But those charming brownstones would all collapse into rubble.

I imagine St. Louis would be decimated -- even the skyscrapers might fail, but all the masonry buildings would. Fire would be likely to get much of the rest.

i have always been a fan of building to specific needs of the area you are in. i.e. underground houses for tornado ally, dome cement structures for wildfires and taller versions of such for hurricanes.

From Wikipedia:

As a result of the quakes, large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed (notably Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee), and the Mississippi River changed its course, creating numerous geographic exclaves, including Kentucky Bend, along the state boundaries defined by the river.

Some sections of the Mississippi River appeared to run backward for a short time. Sandblows were common throughout the area, and their effects can still be seen from the air in cultivated fields. Church bells were reported to ring in Boston, Massachusetts and sidewalks were reported to have been cracked and broken in Washington, D.C.[2] There were also reports it toppled chimneys in Maine.

An event of that magnitude today would be calamitous -- far greater than any hurricane in scope of damage and death. Such an event would likely create another step-function in the catabolic collapse scenarios, as there simply would be too little resources to rebuild all that was destroyed.

We need a shift to building for centuries rather than a decade or two. To maintain living standards we need to get more value out of everything we build, and built it durably and safely at that. Earthquake-proof, tornado-proof building would be a good start.

Workmen that work with me know my mantra (besides saving energy), "Build it to last 100 years". Or more.

Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure,


Our St. Charles streetcars were all built in 1923 or 1924.


Like most matters in life it comes down to economics. Decades ago after a strong shock in the San Fran area I still vivdly recall an interview with the major. When asked why none of the city's ublic schools did not meet current earthquake codes his answer was: "When God decides it's your time to die there is nothing we can do to prevent it". Of course, he didn't beleive that. But I'm sure he felt it was a better answer than telling the truth: the city didn't want to spend the money.

I feel his self serving logic is the one aspect of current political reality that will prevent us from effectively reacting to many of our problems including PO: No politician wants to delivery the bill to the American people unless he's around to "cut the ribbon" on such a successful effort. Unfortunately all our solutions fall outside this time frame.

BTW -- though it was based upon anecdotal evidence the New Madrid earthquake is estimated to be the strongest earthquake ever experienced in North America.

BTW -- though it was based upon anecdotal evidence the New Madrid earthquake is estimated to be the strongest earthquake ever experienced in North America.

Think you forgot this one.


The second largest earthquake of the 20th Century and the largest ever recorded in the northern hemisphere,occurred in Alaska on March 27, 1964 (3/27/64 05:36:14.0 p.m., local time; 3/28/64 03:36:14.0 GMT). The earthquake had a magnitude 9.2 (Moment Magnitude) and caused extensive damage in Alaska. Local tsunami waves triggered by this earthquake were extremely destructive in Prince William Sound and other areas of Alaska. A Pacific-wide tsunami was generated which was destructive in Western Canada, Oregon, California and the Hawaiian islands. It was recorded by tide gages throughout the Pacific. Even tide gauges in Cuba and Puerto Rico recorded sea level oscillations from that event. A Tsunami Warning was issued by the Tsunami Warning System in Honolulu for Hawaii and the West coast of United States and Canada. Regional Tsunami Warning Centers in Japan, Chile, the former Soviet Union and elsewhere, issued warnings. Combined, the earthquake and tsunami took 125 lives (tsunami 110, earthquake 15), and caused about $311 million in property loss (in 1964 dollars).


Lasting nearly five minutes, it was the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. and North American history, and the third most powerful ever measured by seismograph; it had a moment magnitude of 9.2 and registered 8.4 on the Richter scale.

Nope ..didn't forget that one. But I think it was the USGS (maybe?) that estimated the NM quake at 9.4. But then again that would be a rather subjected call that neither side could argue. But, as you point out, what really made the Alaska quake so devastating was the duration. I don't recall anyone offering the time factor on the NM quake. Magnitude is important but even a smaller quake of such duration would be devastating.

Here's what I see on the USGS site


Historic United States Earthquakes

Sorted by Magnitude

All earthquake dates are UTC, not local time.

    * 1964 03 28 - Prince William Sound, Alaska - M 9.2
    * 1700 01 26 - Cascadia Subduction Zone - M 9.0

    * 1965 02 04 - Rat Islands, Alaska - M 8.7
    * 1957 03 09 - Andreanof Islands, Alaska - M 8.6
    * 1938 11 10 - Shumagin Islands, Alaska - M 8.2
    * 1946 04 01 - Unimak Island, Alaska - M 8.1
    * 1811 12 16 - New Madrid Region - M 8.1
    * 1899 09 10 - Yakutat Bay, Alaska - M 8.0
    * 1812 02 07 - New Madrid Region - M 8.0 

Howevere, although the magnitude of the Alaskan quake was greater the area of shaking experienced in the multiple shocks of 1811-1812 was considerably larger


The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times larger than that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times larger than that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Rockman and Undertow,

Great comments. One thing to keep in mind is that moment-magnitude (M) is a measure of total radiated energy. Though there is some correlation between total radiated energy and the strength of shaking at the surface, it is not perfect. A M6 quake that's shallow may actually have stronger horizontal and vertical accelerations near the epicenter than, say a very deep M8. A key example of this is the difference between the M6.7 Northridge, CA, earthquake of 17 Jan 1994 and the M6.8 Nisqually, WA, earthquake of 28 Feb 2001. The former, with a much shallower hypocenter, had much stronger accelerations at the surface than the latter, which had a deep hypocenter--but both quakes were of similar moment magnitude. Thus, if the M8 on the NM-Fault was shallower than the 1964 AK quake, the NM-Fault event could have had stronger accelerations than the M9.2 in AK. (Other factors, besides depth, also effect the strength of shaking at the surface--I'm just focusing on one key variable.) The Richter Scale, used before moment-magnitude was developed, more directly reflects accelerations, I believe, and I think the AK and New Madrid quakes may have been closer in measure on the Richter.

Event duration, by the way, is also positively related to moment magnitude. The higher the M, generally the longer the shaking (there's a correlation with duration as felt at the surface and depth, too).



When I first moved here (Indiana) in the 80's there was a lot of talk about New Madrid. I even got earthquake insurance. But a couple of years back it seems there was a study that a quake was much less likely than they had thought earlier. Anyone else remember this?

I live fairly close to the New Madrid fault line. I have felt numerous tremors here but they are not long and not that violent. A few years back one busted up some buildings. Broke some sleepers that older homes sat on. In fact my friends country home just down the road apiece. Some get broken stuff from falling off shelves.

Some 10 years or so a guy kept predicating a major New Madrid quake and I think SEMO Univ even seconded that. So everyone started saving up 'earthquake' water just in case it happened.

Some months later we realized it was not going to happen and the Mississippi rose two feet as everyone poured out their quake water.

Of the perhaps dozen tremors and some outright quakes with nearby epicenters, the scariest one was the one I heard 'coming' across the countryside. I could hear it way off shaking the trees and creating a huge roar and it came right towards me, past by and the sound then receeded in the other direction.

Living in my loghouse not even a picture fell off. Nothing was disturbed. Log houses are very safe in an earthquake. It due to the joining of the logs at the outside corners and that I had a full 12 inch poured concrete basement.

I have also visited somewhat active sandblows. So exist down in a valley right in the middle of a pasture. Here is just this big pile of sand..usually white silica sand.

We sometimes go to Reelfoot to eat since they have some decent restaurants. Some fish at Reelfoot lake but its slowly silting up due to farming.

Great place to go hang out. That whole area is just a huge pile of sand is the way it appears to me. Like a different country almost.

As a result of the changes in the river due to quakes and other events the state line of Ky remains where the river used to be so some of Ky is now on the other side of the Mississippi River. In fact a friend of mine owns a huge island that is only accessable by vehicle from Missouri.

If you look at a map you will see this huge loop in the river near the town of New Madrid in the bootheel of Missouri.

Airdale-we really don't worry about it too much anyway

In a way it's a little like Peak Oil. You can put all the evidence on the table and in the end if you go outside, you see everything just rolling along just like it did yesterday and say, "Yeah, right. If it was really a big problem "they" would tell us."

In the Midwest, we get an occasional tremor from New Madrid, a 5.2 April 18, 2008 on the Wabash Valley Fault (Il), but they're novelties at best. Maybe the big one will come soon but our experience is contrary. That is no excuse. It's like people living around Mt. Rainier or Mt. Hood. Those babies blow and it's Mt. St. Helens or worse all over again. They know it. I have friends that live right on the Ohio River. Their 1st floor gets flooded every 3 or 4 years. A 100 yr flood takes both floors. They wouldn't live anywhere else!

In Simon Winchester's "Crack at the Edge of the World" he describes a California town (forgot the name) built by dot com refugees right on top of the San Andreas Fault. "C'mon Earth! Is that all you got!"

Why do people live in risky places or tempt fate? Denial maybe? Nice scenery? Music and culture?

Nuclear planning to the year 1,002,008

That just makes me angry. Why do I see this over and over again? Completely mis-judging risks and making the perfect the enemy of the good. Are we seriously worried about people 1 MILLION years from now having exposure to tiny amounts of radiation? Did the Homo Erectus in Africa sit around and worry about where they threw their banana peels because their Sapien descendants might one day slip on them?

Meanwhile, most of that waste sits in airport hangars on military bases, giving off radiation to actual humans, living now. Plus, all the uncertainty about where to put the waste holds up nuclear construction, which means more coal plants are built, which emit mercury, which harms actual humans now.

Just put in in the damn mountain, compensate Nevada by giving them a brand new solar thermal plant to power Vegas, and call it a day. How hard is that?

Consumer, you write:

That just makes me angry. Why do I see this over and over again?

Because many people don't understand what it means to discount the future -- that's probably the main reason. You are perfectly right --- the article almost read like an 'Onion' satire.

Is this the kind of world we want to leave to our ten quadrillion offspring in a million years' time?

I like the Seven Generations concept. Assume 28.5 years per generation, and you have a 200 year time frame to worry about. You can make common sense decisions that go beyond there (preventing species extinction), but once you get past 200 years, there are too many variables to worry about to get an accurate picture of how you will affect things.

**Edit** Carolus - I actually double-checked to make sure it wasn't The Onion before I posted my rant, so I didn't seem like an idiot.

Before I start let me say that banana peels are biodegradable and I'd prefer not to build more nukes but more are going to get built regardless of how I feel. The short and long term risks are real but we'll make the trade offs.

Also, there are too many variables to know how you will affect things next year. That's why we have principles. That's why need contemporary principles to help us navigate the s**t storm on the horizon.

The Algonquian 7 generations principle does not mean literally 28.5 * 7. Why would my children 8 times removed be of no value while my 7th removed are not discounted at all? Why not 5 generations? I'll never know my great X 3 grandchildren. Might we think of it in terms of half life? Each successive generation has half of the value of the preceding one. That way each generation has some value, albeit small, for infinity! No, that's rubbish, too. It's not quantifiable!

Respect for the 7th generation is a metaphor for a principle. Don't trash the planet today because all life yet to come might need it.

I also notice people only pay attention to this issue with nuclear waste because it has a measurable half life. No one seems to worry about the geologic repository for methyl mercury or arsenic. Its because of this my favorite tounge-in-cheek solution to nuclear waste is to bury under the millions of tonnes of chemical waste that no one seems to care that much about.

Seriously, we can seal it up in dry storage casks that will be good for several centuries at least.


That is truly funny. Nook-you-ler arsenic and mercury! Sounds like a yellow martini.

I believe the current design standard is 300 years [sarcasm] after which time the nuclear regulatory agency will assign a team to inspect all casks and determine if they are still in tact and can be re certified for the next 300 years. If so, proper notice will be recorded in the digital archive and be available for the next tri-centenial inspection. In case no one is in the neighborhood at the end of any 300 year interval, a symbol will be placed upon the entrance to the repository site that clearly indicates a hazard such as:



Recycle all spent fuel now, and start building fast-spectrum reactors to handle the rest in the decades ahead. Turn the "waste" into an energy resource sufficient to power America for at least a century or two! Fission products, with short half lives, would become the only waste stream in a fully closed nuclear fuel cycle. Short half-lives mean there will be no long-term storage problems (measured in decades / centuries, not millennia), and waste stream volume will be slashed as a ~100% fuel burn will cut waste volume by 1-2 orders of magnitude.

Problem solved!

...an energy resource sufficient to power America for at least a century or two!...Problem solved!

I hope you're right. We gonna build some for Somalia, Congo-Kinshasa, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Sudan, China, Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Russia, Morocco, Columbia, Brazil, Nigeria, Bhutan, Mexico........?

Under the NPT, if they can pay for it, they're welcome to it.

Thats really a terrible waste of resources for something thats a nonproblem to begin with.

I agree. The people writing these million year stories are ignorant about nuclear decay characteristics. The radiation density of these so called wastes will be near those of the originating ores in about 200 years. These wastes will likely be mined and reprocessed into reactor fuel in less than a century anyways.

‘Zimbabweans reluctant to put money in banks’

HARARE – The government’s Depositor Protection Board (DPA) on Thursday said Zimbabweans were fast losing faith in banks with many reluctant to deposit money for fear they may not be able to withdraw it, as the country’s cash crisis deepens.

Zimbabwe, which has the highest inflation rate in the world at 231 million percent, has been beset by long queues at banks as consumers seek banknotes – which are in short supply – to stock up on basic goods.

I'd be reluctant to have money at all!

The metal in the vault door is probably worth more than all the money inside.

I get this vision of bands of Zimbabweans breaking into banks and stealing their safes. They want the safes not for the money inside them, but for the value of a huge chunk of refined metal that they are.

Credit crisis rears its ugly head again, straining long-term loans

Just when investors and companies thought the credit crunch was behind them, it's starting to torture them all over again.

While the government's efforts to ease the credit crunch last month soothed some corners of the debt markets for short-term loans between banks and big companies, new signs of strain intensified Thursday for longer-term loans. Worries the recession will make it harder for companies to repay loans are constricting credit in a brutal replay of last month's panic.

"There's been no improvement whatsoever in longer-term credit markets," says Michael Darda of MKM Partners.

Citigroup’s options dwindle; shares plunge

NEW YORK - Citigroup’s options are dwindling along with its stock price as the credit landscape deteriorates and fears escalate about future loan losses at the company.

As the banking giant’s shares slid below $4, analysts said Friday it may be forced to merge or sell some of its prized businesses.

But on the bright side...

Americans still giving, despite economic crisis

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University says that historically, charitable giving has been recession-proof.

Contributions to American charities have increased during 39 of the past 40 years in today's dollars, and a change in the tax laws — not the stock market crash — can be blamed for the drop in 1987, said Melissa Brown, associate director of research for the center. Between 69 and 72 percent of people give routinely, she said.

Obama's Treasury Secretary will be NY Fed President Timothy Geithner.

The Dow jumped 300 points on the news. :-P

What is his history of accurately assessing the situation? I assume he's "part of the problem" and BAU?

Geithner likely to be Treasury Secretary

Barring last minute changes, the nominee for Treasury Secretary will be NY Fed President Tim Geithner -- a career Treasury official under both Bob Rubin and Larry Summers -- who actually had worked at the Treasury in three administrations under five Secretaries -- going back to 1988.

Geithner has been a key player in the current economic crisis -- helping Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and his team manage the wall street bailout.

The Wiki entry about him

Timothy Franz Geithner (last name pronounced /ˈgaɪtnər/; born August 18, 1961) is the 9th president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that role he also serves as Vice Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

After completing his studies, Geithner worked for Kissinger and Associates in Washington, DC, for three years and then joined the International Affairs division of the US Treasury Department in 1988.

In 1999 he was promoted to Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and served under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.

In 2001 he left the Treasury to join the Council on Foreign Relations as a Senior Fellow in the International Economics department. He then worked for the International Monetary Fund as the director of the Policy Development and Review Department until moving to the Fed in October 2003.[1] In 2006 he became a member of the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty.


All in all a man of the PEOPLE. A man who will stand up to the Money people.... sorry, forget it. We are just as screwed as before. Only with New People.

Looks to me like the guy can't hold on to a job for very long.

I believe that Geithner was the primary architect of the Bear-Stearns debacle that has already cost taxpayers $29 billion dollars. Geithner has shown no strong tendency to vote against Bernanke's chosen policies despite Bernanke's consistent failure to improve the situation via his policies.

In other words, Geithner is just another one of the whiz kids who got Wall Street into this mess and the likelihood that he can get Wall Street out of this mess is somewhere between slim and none. BAU is a good way of looking at Geithner.

Understand that the difference between Obama and Bush and Co is that Obama plans to blow out the US budget and send us into default by giving money to a broader spectrum of the population.

However it will still be focused on funneling cash to large inefficient corporations. If we are lucky some scraps will be spent on alternative energy and if we are even more lucky some on rail.

These scraps are the only ones that will prove to have value over the long run.

As far as housing goes many regions are now back close to historical norms of 3X income so we will begin to see mixed good bad news as foreclosure rates at least begin to slow in the hardest hit areas. This will happen regardless of what Obama does. House construction really can't go much lower so it will also start to bottom out in its decline rates.

I'm sure that Obama will try some useless housing plans and they will be hailed as a success as you begin to see spotty reports of not so bad news in some places.

I'm for Obama in the sense that he has a better chance of accidentally doing some good for our future as he continues BAU which is destroying our country.

And although people probably think I sound insane saying this everything I've looked at shows us heading quickly to 200 dollar oil and Obama's largesse will simply serve to fuel inflation.

I'm not sure how we end either they realize that they have no choice but to accept a deflationary collapse and keep the monetary system but free of debt or they destroy the currency in a final bought of hyper inflation. Spiraling commodity prices will ensure that monetary games accomplish nothing. I I also thing that regardless of spending wages will continue to drop vs today regardless of the value of the dollar. So wages will continue to fall in both inflationary and deflationary conditions. This means in todays dollars we will see lower wages no matter what.


If you have read my posts on coupling of Heavy Sour oil and NG then the above should scare
the hell out of you.

Dow ends up 400 points on the Geithner news.

Lets see in a few days what happened with Citi attributing this to Geithner is premature.

My opinion is Citi is going to be dismantled and the belief is that by getting Citi assets at fire sale prices that will be sufficient to stabilize the rest of the financial industry.

We of course don't know yet but if I was to bet that where I'd put my money on the real reason for todays rally.

IMO Wall Street is applauding the move to solidify the link between the Fed and the Treasury-the expectation would be that even more bold moves would be made by the Fed and Treasury working together (i.e. even more money taken from the schmuck taxpayer and funnelled to Wall street). There was some fear that a troublemaker like Volcker might get the position.

So far, gold and silver investors love Geithner's appointment.

I think they're just happy it's settled. The market hates uncertainty.

I think you're right on the money. So to speak :-)

My guess is that Citibank will be bailed out under the "too big to fail doctrine."

The Fed and the Treasury Department just will not allow big banks to fail. I can't imagine who would buy Citi or merge with them.

I dunno on this one we will find out in time. The best move is to break them up and sell the assets that really strengthens the rest of the banks short term. Bailing them out really does no good. Thats my hunch the rest of the financial world would get a powerful surge feeding of the tasty bits. We will see if I'm right but of course it could be days before we know the real story.

I don't think its a buyout but a breakup and fire sale prices with the toxic sludge going to the feds and eventually once its small enough sold to someone.

Removing citi opens up a lot of opportunity for the remaining banks in the financial world etc.

The Feds have been willing to do some pretty major moves so this is not outside the bounds of reason. Sacrificing Citi should be enough to shore up the financial world.

Also it sends the message that you may be too big to fail bout your not to big to be broken up and sold to other players that are going to be backstopped.

"...Obama plans to blow out the US budget.."

he has a tall order if he expects to out blow out bush.

Alas, even though home prices are approaching 3x incomes (though I've more frequently heard 2.5x incomes) incomes are going to be falling with deflationary pressures and increasing unemployment. Oh, and bubbles have a stong tendency to end by overshooting the historical mean to the downside. Given the difficulting in getting a loan (let alone a non-conforming >417k loan), excess inventory, foreclosures still steaming along, etc etc etc, I'm not betting on positive housing market yet. Maybe when my local bookstore has less than a full shelf of books on real estate flipping or investing.

We're nowhere near bottom with home prices.

he is part of the elite establishment, no one who gets to that point is not part of it. Even if he wasn't he has to pick other elite/establishment people for his cabinet so if by some very rare chance he represented the general population rather then the elite caste of this country, they would subvertly sabotage his administration.

And now Reuters is reporting that Obama will choose Larry Summers to replace Bernanke.

Arrghhhhh. We're freakin' doomed.

In a sense it is somewhat amusing-reminscent of watching WWE wrestling-the ref is looking the other way when the Iron Sheik or some other heel cheats. At this point probably a majority of the crowd realizes the game is just for show.

There's no escape, even for America's pastime:

Volcker Gives Baseball an Update on the Economy

At the moment, baseball is bucking a trend. Teams are about to start awarding free agents lavish contracts that, in at least two instances, will almost certainly top $100 million. Meanwhile, the stock market continues to sink, retirement accounts are disappearing and the Big Three automakers are on the verge of bankruptcy.

With that as a backdrop, the 81-year-old Volcker went to Major League Baseball’s headquarters Thursday morning and addressed team owners and baseball officials for roughly 45 minutes. According to several people who attended the meeting, Volcker discussed what led to the current economic plight and where things might be headed. His assessment was not upbeat, the attendees said.

Must be Friday...

20th bank failure this year: 3rd in Georgia

Regulators close down Community Bank, making it the third bank in Georgia to fail this year. Move comes as government broadens applicant pool of potential bailout buyers.

Hello TODers,

'Wild & Crazy' thought? Or a reasonable SWAG? I present for your consideration:

[see included photo & graphics please]

Great floods beneath the Antarctic ice sheet can now be linked directly to the speed at which that ice moves towards the ocean, scientists say.
From Bernouli's Law: the ice and water shooting through the narrow gap between the mountain ranges should be moving faster and with much greater erosive strength than the ice further upstream. It would be interesting to know how fast this gorge is being gouged deeper and how fast the resulting grounding line is propagating back up through this gap to bring seawater further upstream.

As I recall: the mountains are mostly of volcanic origins, therefore the crust may already be quite thin in this trench, and getting thinner in these intermountain gaps as the mountains of ice grind through.

Is it possible, or probable, for a new volcano or giant caldera to be created in these trenches as the ice grinds down? If so, the future ice [actually, it be be quickly converted to meltwater] will really ZOOM,ZOOM through this gap when it is riding atop a lubricated bed of fresh, molten lava and super-heated seawater when the migrating upstream grounding line and the caldera join forces.

Of course, IMO: WHEN is uncertain, but it sure can contribute to rapid sea-level rise as it happens [2-3 feet/year? even greater?].

Recall my earlier postings on the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet's Bentley Subglacial Trench [size of Mexico, 2 Grand Canyons in depth] and evidence of the buried caldera underneath the WAIS.

Feel free to elaborate or refute as I am not a glaciologist/geologist.

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

IANA geologist/glaciologist either, but I think extra water gets under the ice because of melting on top of the ice. Once the liquid water gets into a crack deep enough, the denser liquid water gets under the less-dense ice pretty quickly, with this kind of result. I don't think the scouring of the ice will affect what the Earth does volcanically, but the reduction in the weight of ice the land supported might cause something to happen. I doubt the Earth would react quickly enough so us humans would notice, with the rising sea levels and all.

You can get a positive feedback situation going two ways.
1. A quantity of lava has gas dispersed in the molten rock and when the pressure is relieved it agglomerates into bubbles and expands, lowering the density of the molten rock, making the molten rock be extruded from the high pressure rock below it in the form of an eruption, which melts the ice above it, which decompresses the lava even more, rinse, lather, repeat. When this goes to completion the emptied 'shell' of rock around the former molten rock collapses into the caldera left behind.
But since it is in Antarctica, the sulphur dioxide droplets don't do a good job of shading out sunlight and as a result we don't have an ice age.
2. A quantity of sediments in the subsea morraine terminating one of the Antarctic ice shelfs has dispersed methane clathrates between the sediment particles where the temperature is low enough and the pressure is high enough to force the methane into a sort of ice with the water around it.
If it gets too warm, or the ice above it gets too thin, the clathrate particles decompose into water and methane and the volume gets larger, which causes the sediment to collapse into a turbidity current going down hill, with the methane bubbles rising to the surface, which further decomposes the clathrates in the sediments, rinse, lather, repeat.
The whole shelf slides into the ocean. We are screwed. Sea level rises ten meters within days as the surge moves out across the ocean. One million square kilometers of low lying coastal plains are under salt water. They will eventually make fine high productivity fishing grounds, but in the short run we are screwed.

Thxs for the replies. Yep, a true Taleb 'black swan' would be some kind of fast, geologic scenario causing Antarctica and/or Greenland to start to shed the ice off their backs faster than we could move ourselves and our infrastructure to higher ground.

The Arctic melting [bad as that is alone] would pale to insignificance compared to an unstoppable sea-level rise and the resulting climatic and oceanic current effects. It would compare to the long ago Toba volcano that nearly wiped us off the planet.

With all due respect, as far as I know (and I've tried to study the situation), there's no plausible scenario for a super fast melt or glacier collapse such as you describe. There are scenarios for rapid release of methane contained in permafrost as clathrates, which might cause accelerated warm up, but even if all the ice over Greenland and the Antarctic were to melt as a result, the likely time interval might be decades long, due to the thermal capacity of the ice, etc. People in low lying coastal areas could move to higher ground, although the infrastructure would be lost. Of course, finding a spot on higher ground might become difficult...

E. Swanson

Urban growers go high-tech to feed city diners

I'm going to go ahead and post on the positive news, since I can't take too much more of the other. When I first read this, I was thinking that it's too expensive, but then thinking about all the other stuff we waste money on, I thought that maybe it's not such a bad idea.

My questions, which I invite others more knowledgable to advise on:

1. What are the inputs besides water? Where do they come from? Are the amounts similar to non-hydroponic agriculture?

2. How much energy is required vs. normal Agriculture. How does this compare to energy saved by not transporting the food?

Hello Lengould,

[Just in case, the earlier keypost and comments have gone cold from age.] Perhaps Don Sailorman could add more on why I-NPK may be a better postPeak currency than gold.

Your Quote: "I'm also concerned about how items like "intellectual capital" and "human labour potential" get valued."

Consider my earlier postings on I-NPK as currency and stored in my speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK':

1. Consider how much "intellectual capital" and "human labour potential" are embedded in the creation and subsequent utilization of I-NPK.

2. From prior posted weblinks: A high-potency I-NPK ratio fertilizer such as DAP might have energy-embedded 5 gallons of gasoline energy equivalent in the 'transformity & distributive' process.

3. A 100 lb sack of I-NPK is damn hard to easily steal [especially if you don't have a wheelbarrow], conceal, or hide. Compare to an equivalent $$$value of fiat cash or precious metal. A thief would rather steal food first.

4. If I-NPK sample testing & certification can be assured--impossible to counterfeit--> the Elements by chemistry & physics don't ever lie.

5. Recall my Ft. Knox posting series: gold bullion stacked outside in machine-gun bunker formation to protect the seeds & I-NPK safely stored inside the vaults.

6. Using RFID tech: each bag could be identified, serialized, inventoried easily, and tracked.

7. At an idealized Liebscher's Law of the Optimum: I/O-NPK combo results in an agro-ERoEI of >20:1. Gresham's Law doesn't apply because O-NPK as a 'substitute' for I-NPK has a high intrinsic value to improve topsoil mulchiness, water-rention for drought, and micro-organism growth, besides it's own embedded x:x:x NPK-ratio.

8. Liebig's Minimum assures a bottom pricing floor for NPK, same as a bag of junk silver coins has a legal tender value of the face value of the coin.

My feeble two cents: have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

9. Like our ancestors using human bones, mummified cats by the pitchfork ton, and guano & Atacama nitrates sailed halfway around the world--> we will do anything including fighting wars for NPK-->There are NO Substitutes to these Elements to ERoEI-leverage photosynthesis.

Actually, your scheme of using NPK as backing for money would work--if enough NPK could be stored. It would be a very simple form of money, just as gold warehouse certificates with 100% physical gold stored in warehouses is a simple form of money. The problem, I think, would be accumulating enough NPK in banks, and somebody would have to pay for storage and security.

We don't have enough gold to go back to the gold standard, and we don't have nearly enough NPK for an inorganic fertilizer standard. Maybe we could have a bundle of commodities: NPK, gold, silver, copper, low-enriched uranium, etc. as backing for a new currency. The problem here is that if you had to use your NPK, then the money supply would decrease until the supply could be replenished with new production.

There is quite a literature on commodity money.

Hello Don Sailorman,

Thxs for sailin' in with a reply--mucho appreciated.

IF we can get our act together: besides depleting I-NPK, we could have untold amounts of well-composted, tested & certified O-NPK. Say a 100 lb bag of composted manure is 10 bucks, and a 10 lb bag of DAP I-NPK is equivalently worth the same 10 bucks; approx. same agro-ERoEI gro-power for the topsoil. This would be no different than the equivalency between #'s of silver coins to one gold coin.

The mental-video that is constantly playing in my mind:

One Zimbabwean has a wheelbarrow full of I/O-NPK products to trade for food, the other is staggering along barefoot with a huge bundle of Zim cash balanced on his head. Who comes back from the farmer's garden w/food?