DrumBeat: January 24, 2009

Big Oil likely to be leaner

The party’s over for Big Oil.

That may not be immediately evident as the world’s largest publicly traded oil majors reveal their annual 2008 profits in the coming days. Crude’s wild ascent into triple digits for most of last year paves the way for yet another string of record annual earnings.

But oil’s swift fall in late 2008 paints a starkly different picture for those last three months and possibly well into 2010, depending on when economic recovery begins eclipsing the worst recession in decades.

“The air has gone out of the tires, the wind’s gone out of the sails,” said John Olson, an analyst with Sanders Morris Harris in Houston.

Oil operation’s development put on hold

HOPES of an early start to what would be the first commercial oil operation in Caithness have been dashed.

...What has clouded the picture for the operators has been the ongoing financial crisis which has thrown stock markets into disarray and seen crude oil prices tumble.

Russia Has ‘No Aversion’ to Nabucco Gas Pipeline, Zubkov Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russia has “no aversion” to the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline from central Asia to Europe, and the builders have yet to secure sources for the link, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said.

Ruble Weakens as Wider Target Is ‘Invitation for Speculators’

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s ruble weakened after the central bank said it would let the currency fall as much as 10 percent to help preserve foreign-currency reserves.

The Worst Is Yet to Be (review of Vaclav Smil's Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years)

Energy is a key variable affecting many trends. Smil’s substantial discussion of this topic connects only loosely to the theme of catastrophe but well illustrates his debunking posture toward scary headlines and faddish “solutions.” He gives short shrift to renewable energy. For example, he considers “massive biomass energy schemes” that have been proposed recently to be “among the most regrettable examples of wishful thinking and ignorance of ecosystemic realities and necessities.” Conversion of enough farmland for the production of biofuels is out of the question, he says—we would starve. Wind power will be only a marginal and unreliable source of energy. As for energy from nuclear fusion, it is a mirage, on which the United States has spent a quarter of a billion dollars a year for the past 50 years. Large-scale expansion of nuclear power plants would face significant opposition, Smil says, because of concerns about safety and the lack of permanent waste-storage facilities. (He does, however, note with approval Edward Teller’s proposal to build a nuclear power plant completely underground with enough fuel to last its lifetime.) And he sees no realistic possibility of a hydrogen economy for many decades.

This crisis is bad but it gives us an opportunity to rethink strategies

The Club of Rome – a think tank of scientists, economists, business leaders, civil servants and politicians from the five continents – attracted considerable public attention with its 1972 report titled "The Limits to Growth". The study challenged one of the then core assumptions of economic theory – that the Earth was infinite and would always provide the resources needed for human prosperity. The book, which sold 30 million copies in 37 languages, stated that if consumption patterns and population growth continued at the same high rates of the time, the Earth would reach its limits within a century. And this is what is happening now, says Martin Lees, Secretary-General of the Club of Rome. In an exclusive interview with Emirates Business, he said the world had continued to grow exponentially as if the planet would sustain economic growth forever. "Once the world recovers from the financial crisis we imagine that the global economy will double in size in a couple of decades," he said. "This would mean an additional two billion people or more will join the world's middle class, implying changes in consumption practices and lifestyle. This is simply not feasible."

Brazil Petrobras To Invest $174.4 Billion In 2009-2013

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- Plummeting oil prices and the worst financial crisis in 30 years failed to crimp plans at Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), with the company boosting investments over the next five years by more than 50%.

Petrobras said late Friday that it will invest $174.4 billion in 2009-2013, including a whopping $28.6 billion in 2009. Chief Executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli called the company's investment plans "robust and important." Petrobras' previous strategic plan called for $112 billion in investments from 2008 to 2012. Petrobras invested about $23 billion in 2008.

Petrobras joined Mexico's Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, as one of the few oil majors willing to up the ante on investments as a slowdown in global economic growth has sapped demand for crude. Pemex said that it will boost investments in 2009 to $19.4 billion, up from $18 billion in 2008.

Motiva Port Arthur Refinery Expansion Is Slowing Down-Contractor

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Motiva Enterprises LLC's multi-billion dollar expansion of its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery is slowing down, the chief executive of a construction company contracted to build parts for the project said Friday.

Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue said the company was laying off 35 workers because Motiva "has asked us to scale back," according to a release posted on the company Web site. The Maine-based company is making modules for the expansion.

Iran objects to Caspian seabed pipeline construction

Hossein Noqrekar-Shirazi, Iran's deputy oil minister for international affairs, specifically pointed at the pipeline carrying oil from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan through the bed of Caspian Sea and posed his objection.

"The pipeline carrying Kazakh oil to Azerbaijan will be constructed on the seabed and could pose threats to the ecological system of the Caspian Sea," Noqrekar-Shirazi was quoted as saying.

Gas mining company provides water after methane found in private wells

DIMOCK TWP. -- Cabot Oil and Gas installed fresh water supplies this week at four residences where methane has been found in private water wells.

The company, which is extracting gas from the Marcellus Shale in the region, also hired a water well installer to inspect wells at two additional residences today where the state Department of Environmental Protection has found a "significant presence" of gas, a Cabot spokesman said.

Conoco cuts 20%

In the most significant response yet to the recent drop in oil prices, ConocoPhillips is budgeting a 20 percent reduction in capital spending in Alaska for this coming year.

Uganda’s oil cash to delay

UGANDA’S oil production will not begin this year. Industry sources attributed the delay to disagreements over oil prices, construction of the refinery and the tendering process.

Is 'cheap' gasoline really a good thing?

In this complex economic world of ours where so many things are interconnected, the Law of Unintended Consequences has yet to be repealed.

That suggests that some seemingly good things -- like our recent decrease in oil and gas prices or zero-down mortgages -- unfortunately have some downsides that we often don't always consider.

Pakistan: Get ready to swallow a bitter pill! Govt to increase electricity tariff, says Raja Pervez

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Water and Power, Raja Pervez Ashraf has asked the nation to be ready for swallowing bitter Pill as Government would have to increase electricity tariff in upcoming months.

ARL stops fuel supply to Pepco

ISLAMABAD: In a shocking development, the Attock Refinery Limited (ARL) has stopped fuel supply to Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) for thermal power generation, exposing countrymen to more power outages, a senior official told our sources.

“Attock Refinery Limited Managing-Director Shoaib Malik communicated to the petroleum ministry about its decision of stopping the fuel supply to Pepco with immediate effect, raising the prospect for the power sector to face another fuel shortage.”

“The Bosicor refinery has already been shut because of its poor financial health.”

FACTBOX - South Africa power generation plans

(Reuters) - South Africa's state-owned utility Eskom said on Friday that power supply had improved compared with a year ago, when a near-collapse of the power grid forced mines to close. To see a story, please click on [ID:nLN93417]

Below are details of Eskom's generating capacity.

Arctic Directory: Platforms for Arctic offshore?

Massive gravity-based structures sitting on the seafloor remain the most likely option for oil and gas production in the challenging ice conditions of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. And the study says that in Arctic conditions steel is likely to prove to be a more suitable construction material than concrete.

The Future of the Nickel Metal Hydride Battery and the Rare Earth Metals it Is Constructed from

So, excuse me if I yawn when I hear about GM spending a lot of American taxpayer subsidies in Korea to buy batteries that are not proven to be durable, reliable, safe, economical, or long lived to build a car that will, when it finally comes out, have to compete with a half dozen others that will already be in the market. Excuse me also if I wonder why GM wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars of other people’s money ignoring the opportunity to support a world class battery operation owned and operated by Americans with innovative skills in battery technology and located in Troy, Michigan less than 10 miles from GM’s so-called technical center.

The auto collapse's ripple effects

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- As Detroit's Big Three automakers fight for survival, thousands of small suppliers are caught in their economic wake, struggling to adapt to a shrinking industry.

Water pressure running dangerously high

In 2003, Frank Rijsberman, then head of the International Water Management Institute, expressed his concern: “If present trends continue, the livelihoods of one third of the world's population will be affected by water scarcity by 2025. We could be facing annual losses equivalent to the entire grain crops of India and the US combined.”

The message is unusual. Normally, “water scarcity” is associated with tap water — Rijsberman talked about crops.

Where warming hits hard

Threatened with encroaching seas, dwindling water supplies and fiercer storms, Bangladesh is already suffering the ill effects of rising global greenhouse gas emissions.

Michael Klare: Repudiate the Carter Doctrine

Twenty-nine years ago, President Jimmy Carter adopted the radical and dangerous policy of using military force to ensure U.S. access to Middle Eastern oil. "Let our position be absolutely he clear," he said in his State of the Union address on January 23, 1980. "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region [and thereby endanger the flow of oil] will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

This principle — known ever since as the Carter Doctrine — led to U.S. involvement in three major wars and now risks further military entanglement in the greater Gulf area. It's time to repudiate this doctrine and satisfy U.S. energy needs without reliance on military intervention.

Aiming for a soft landing

Whether we like it or not, the unprecedented double challenge of peak oil and global warming is already transforming our lives.

As with the current financial meltdown, these now crises have been developing rapidly, largely without the concern and scrutiny of U.S. political leaders or the media.

Like the melting ice in the Arctic, the world as we have known it is dissolving and we are being given the stunning opportunity to create a new kind of society.

Book for the weekend: Soil Not Oil - climate change, peak oil and food insecurity

In Soil Not Oil, Indian scientist, agricultural activist and bestselling author, Dr Vandana Shiva, connects the food crisis, peak oil, and climate change to show that a world beyond a dependence on fossil fuel and globalization is both possible and necessary. Shiva presents the argument that these three crises are inherently linked and that any attempt to solve one without addressing the others will get us nowhere.

China's new clout with the United States

After 9/11 when China sided with the United States in the war on terrorism, Chinese leaders expected a quid pro quo. Perhaps Washington might make some concessions on the “Taiwan issue”; but Secretary of State Colin Powell emphatically dismissed this idea.

In 2005, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation made a bid to buy the American oil company Unocal. It also looked at Maytag. This created a furor and members of Congress and other national leaders openly and sharply criticised China. China withdrew the offers. In 2008, the media and human rights groups in the US assailed China over events in Tibet while China was getting ready to hold the Olympics. Some American officials even advocated boycotting the Olympic Games; others suggested President Bush should not go.

The situation appears very different now. What a difference a day makes—or more accurately a trillion or two dollars!

North Sea contractors facing a 10% pay cut

REACTION: Sir Ian Wood is hoping “a difficult situation” will turn out to be short-term REACTION: Sir Ian Wood is hoping “a difficult situation” will turn out to be short-term REACTION: Sir Ian Wood is hoping “a difficult situation” will turn out to be short-term

More than 1,000 North Sea contractors will see their pay cut by an average of 10% as oil companies feel the impact of lower crude prices.

The wage reductions affect only one oil service business, Wood Group Engineering (North Sea), but its rivals could follow suit as their oil company clients seek to reduce costs.

US drilling nears a 3-year low

On Jan. 22, the day before the Baker Hughes report, Paul Horsnell at Barclays Capital Inc. in London said, "The latest US rig counts seem to imply a sharp downturn in industry confidence and in the willingness to invest. US drilling activity has fallen by 99 rigs (23%) over the past 4 weeks alone and does appear set to move even lower. In our view, the impression given by the data of an industry which is pulling in its horns rapidly, and which is moving with haste to reexamine, scale-back, and postpone expenditure seems to be an accurate one."

He said, "With the backdrop of a hail of recent announcements on capital expenditure reductions for both conventional and nonconventional oil, together with the continuing move away from investment in alternative energy, we believe that the sharp fall in industry confidence is likely to have a more lasting effect on the health of the supply-side."

Libya eyes nationalisation of oil firms: Kadhafi

TRIPOLI (AFP) - Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said Tripoli could nationalise foreign oil firms operating in the country unless prices rise to 100 dollars a barrel, the state news agency JANA reported on Saturday.

Shell and BP Q4 profits seen hit by crude collapse

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil majors including Royal Dutch Shell and BP are expected to announce the end of a four-year run of record-breaking earnings over the coming weeks, after crude prices collapsed from over $100/bbl during the fourth quarter.

Analysts believe the big international oil companies will be forced to curb generous dividend rises, rein in soaring investment spending and may even cut back on jobs, after four years of complaining of difficulties in finding staff.

Pdvsa discusses ways to pay bills to suppliers

State-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) has debts with service companies and after recognizing its obligations, oil-sector officials are discussing several schemes of payment.

Representatives of the oil industry are expected to meet with suppliers in the coming days to propose them several options. Oil industry sources have said that Pdvsa officials are interested in paying the debts.

Turkey possible winner in Russia-Ukraine gas dispute - expert

KIEV (RIA Novosti) - A Ukrainian energy expert said Russia came out on top in the recent gas dispute with Ukraine but believes that Turkey could prove to be the outright winner as the EU seeks alternative gas routes.

Lawyers seek to move Nigeria militant trial to delta

JOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Lawyers for Nigeria's most prominent militant leader sought on Friday to have his trial moved to a court in the oil-producing Niger Delta, where most of the crimes he is accused of are said to have taken place.

The trial for gun-running and treason of Henry Okah, the suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), is being closely followed by armed gangs in the region, home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

Khalifa refinery project back on track

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided in principle to give another extension to Mohammad Rasheed Jang, Managing Director of the Pak-Arab Refinery (Parco) to win back the UAE administration’s support for the setting up of $5 billion export-oriented Khalifa Coastal Refinery, a senior official told our sources.

Credit crunch to keep lid on energy trading

LONDON (Reuters) - Fallout from the credit crisis looks set to keep a lid on activity in over-the-counter trading in energy markets, where liquidity has not recovered nearly six months after the crisis hit.

Volumes overall in over-the-counter oil trades, such as price swaps, used to hedge price risk or simply take a punt on the market, are estimated to be around 20 to 30 percent down.

"OTC liquidity has not recovered," said one senior executive at a financial services firm. "Some markets have had significant withdrawals, such as the electricity markets."

Oil prices baffle traders; soar 6 pct to end week

NEW YORK – The government reported by midweek that oil inventories had soared, suggesting a serious dent in demand; there were horrible housing and jobless numbers Thursday and to end the week there was talk that OPEC couldn't cut production fast enough. Over the same three days, oil prices jumped 11 percent.

Traders searched for logic in a market that seemed to defy it, and by Friday had largely given up.

"I don't understand it," analyst and trader Stephen Schork said. "I don't know why people love buying crude right now. The economy's in horrendous shape. Nobody's driving."

Oil Storage At Record Levels As Speculators Await Higher Prices

When news reports mention the price of oil, they are usually referring to the price of a barrel of the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude, and that price often depends on how much of it is in large storage tanks near the small town of Cushing, Oklahoma. Paying storage costs may prove profitable if oil prices go back up in coming months as some experts predict they will.

Cushing is a town of just over 8,000 people, halfway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, an important U.S. oil and gas production zone. Cushing is the location of between five and 10 percent of total U.S. domestic petroleum storage and the delivery point for the New York Mercantile Exchange crude oil contract.

Freedom and the price of oil

Our current energy crisis is less immediately dramatic but more ominous in long-term outlook. The price of oil has fluctuated wildly in the past year, tending to obscure the arguments about whether we have in fact reached, or come close to, the moment of peak oil predicted by geoscientist M King Hubbert. But even if oil, by some miraculous dispensation, could be extracted indefinitely from the earth’s crust, we would still have an energy crisis, or a fossil fuel crisis. We are choking in our pollution, dangerously overheating the planet, and we have not yet come up with a reliable, consistent, safe and clean source of energy.

Budget-making and the oil-price illusion

A BRIGHTER BIT of news on the economic front is that oil prices have plunged and we can resume carefree driving without the trauma of gas at $1.40 or so a litre. At the government level, we can plan for more spending on highways without those annoying demands for alternative transportation modes. And lower energy prices should grease the wheels of recovery.

Well, yes, you’re right with your niggling doubt about all this. Oil prices are suddenly out of sight as an issue, but they’re like a coiled snake in the bushes, ready to hit us in the ankles when we’re not looking, at least according to the energy analysts and institutes I keep an eye on.

What Goes Down, Must Go Up?

Simmons laments (like many others of us) that the recent collapse in oil prices -- as inexplicable as it's been -- is not a good thing. For Simmons and others in the oil industry, low oil prices have caused major investment projects to be deferred. For those of us more on the cleantech side of things, low oil prices cause the alternatives to oil to become less economically or financially attractive.

To Simmons, it is especially frustrating that the decline in oil prices have nothing to do with fundamental realities. Simmons notes that plummeting prices haven't been driven by any material declines in global demand, backing this with the comment that "all signs still say [the oil market is] 'very tight'" -- admittedly cryptic, but Simmons has access to all sorts of data from innumerable sources in the oil industry worldwide.

After asking plaintively "why do we know so little about an issue so critical to our well-being?", he pulls no punches with his stark conclusions: "Crude oil has peaked" and "Its future decline could be swift," giving credence to his warning that "What goes down can come right back!"

U.S. independent oil companies hiring-for now

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Unemployment lines across the United States are growing, but demand for workers in the oil patch remains healthy with exploration and production companies still hiring workers in anticipation of the next leg up in oil and gas prices.

Even so, the sector got a surprise last week when ConocoPhillips (COP.N), the third largest U.S. oil company said it planned to cut 4 percent of its workforce, or about 1,300 jobs in a bid to control costs. But smaller peers like Devon Energy Corp (DVN.N) say so far they have no plans to take similar action.

"Things are Always Their Worst at the Bottom"

Do I believe that we’re going to run out of crude oil in the next 100 years? Not on your life. Sometime in the next 10,000 years we probably will run out of crude oil. In that instance, I am a peak oil believer. It’s not going to happen soon though. I remember they told me when I was in undergraduate school back in the late ’60s that we would be out of crude oil by 1984.

...Isn’t it interesting? We’ve pumped crude oil for 28 more years. This is an interesting statistic: We have either seven or eight times more proven reserves now than we had in 1969. And I think we have used a bit of crude oil between now and 1969.

Some ideas for President Obama's call to sacrifice

The economic downturn seemingly defines the present context, but a larger perspective can better illuminate the situation. The recession, Obama said, is "a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." The economic meltdown highlights the same lesson presented by even more thorny issues like climate change and peak oil: We now live in an era of planetary interdependence.

Detroit Bets Its Future on Washington

The curtain comes down this week on the 2009 Detroit International Auto Show -- and with it likely on the American auto industry as we know it. This might turn out to be a watershed year when some of the industry's big players permanently shift gears from serving ordinary car buyers to serving the grand designs of central planners.

The only other time that the industry subordinated its customers to the government was World War II. Then it had no choice. This time the industry, particularly General Motors, is desperately "retooling" itself to make Washington's environmental and industrial policy priorities a vital part of its business revival plan.

A smarter way for oil firms to pay for eco damage

GETTING oil and gas companies to contain the harm they do to the environment just got a little easier.

Companies are sometimes asked to preserve pristine land to compensate for the damage their operations do - both directly and through the roads, houses and towns that spring up nearby. This poses a problem because the companies can easily claim credit for protecting land their activities would never have damaged anyway.

James Lovelock: One last chance to save mankind

There is one way we could save ourselves and that is through the massive burial of charcoal. It would mean farmers turning all their agricultural waste - which contains carbon that the plants have spent the summer sequestering - into non-biodegradable charcoal, and burying it in the soil. Then you can start shifting really hefty quantities of carbon out of the system and pull the CO2 down quite fast.

EPA objects to coal plant, Sierra Club claims new day

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Environmentalists claimed on Friday that a new era regarding coal-fired power plants had arrived with the Obama administration after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned back South Dakota's approval of a big coal-fired power plant in that state because of pollution concerns.

"EPA is signaling that it is back to enforcing long-standing legal requirements fairly and consistently nationwide," said Bruce Nilles, head of the Sierra Club's effort to stop coal power plants.

Raising the Bar on Fighting Climate Change

The Bush White House was so profoundly hostile to action on global warming that during its eight-year tenure, one could have qualified as a "green progressive" simply by asserting that climate change was real. In 2007, under these circumstances — perhaps because of them — was born an unlikely alliance between Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based utility that depends heavily on coal, and the Environmental Defense Fund, which together with 30 other green groups and major corporations, formed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).

A Clean Coal Confrontation

On the campaign trail, President Obama embraced the coal industry's vision of "clean coal" technology. But even before he took office, a coalition of environmental groups (including Al Gore's) launched ads ridiculing the idea as a myth: "In reality, there's no such thing as clean coal."

...Is "clean coal" possible? Our answer: Probably, though it would come with a big price tag.

Re: Dennis Gartman interview ("Things are Always Their Worst at the Bottom"), linked uptop

Of course, Mr. Gartman talks about not "running out" for 10,000 years and not about flow rates, but let's look at some numbers. The long term rate of increase in world crude production from 1970, when the US peaked, to 2005 was about +1.4%/year, from 46 mbpd to 74 mbpd. If we take the halfway point in Mr. Gartman's projection, and assume a peak around 5000 years from now, and extrapolate the +1.4%/year rate, we would be producing 2.5 X 10 to the 30th power in 5,000 years.

At a +1.4/year rate of increase, production would double about every 50 years, so 5,000 years would be 100 doublings:

74 X 2 X 2 X 2. . (47 more times)

A reminder: Mr. Gartman is probably considered more mainstream than Peak Oilers (and especially Peak Exporters).

Fortunately, when you express it in exponents, it doesn't seem like much.

74, 148, 296, 592, 1,184 (more than one billion barrels per day). . . . (46 more times). . .

At the 1.184 Gb per day rate, the world would produce the entire recoverable reserves of Texas in about 60 days, and after a few more doublings we would produce that much per day.

But of course, this is the conventional wisdom--that we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base. Note that Mr. Gartman technically did not predict increasing production for thousands of years, but most unsophisticated readers will think that is what he said.

I get it, of course. But, for the mathematically challenged, which includes most of the population, exponents don't mean much. It has to be translated, as you so aptly did. However, very smart people, like Obama, for example, speak like exponential increase means nothing. Remember, our supposed best minds say we absolutely need to get back to infinite growth, just like the good old days. And why is there such nostalgia for the Clinton years? Because that was the peak era of seemingly infinite growth. Until it all came tumbling down when the tech bubble burst.

Fossil fuels like oil have tremendous leverage, such leverage that many have confused that leverage with infinite power, sufficient to satisfy our infinite greed, resulting in things like million dollar plus makeovers of financial titans' offices. Stop the madness. Learn to do more with less or even less with less.

Someone yesterday raised the issue of "denial."

Mr. Gartman, and others like him, are a principle reason why so many people can't get past the denial stage when it comes to dealing with energy.

Yankelovich explains, using another unrelated but similar issue:

A third elite-created obstacle involves the transmission of confusing and contradictory messages of the public. The subject of savings is an all too clear example. From the expert point of view, our low level of private savings is a prime contributor to the competitiveness problem. Private savings rates in the United States consistently run lower than in Japan; in some years they run at a third or one-half the Japanese savings rate (since Yankelovich wrote his book in 1991 the U.S. savings rate has gone even lower). Private savings are an important source of capital formation for investment in technology, critical to the long-term success of business. But the messages the public receives about the desirability of savings could hardly be more bewildering. One group of economic experts emphasizes the fact that our national savings rates are too low and urges people to save more, while another group warns that avoiding recession depends on the continued vitality of consumer spending and urges people, in effect, to save less. Every holiday season, the public is barraged with economists' fears that "consumer spending may be down." As we have seen, this message reinforces the public's conviction that spending keeps the economy going by circulating money, whereas savings brings it to a halt.

Conflicting messages about savings are not a new phenomenon. In the Carter administration within the same three-week period the public was first told to hold down its use of credit cards to avoid fueling inflation and then instructed to use their credit cards more because nonuse was threatening to bring on a recession!

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment

Of course people like Gartman gain popularity because they tell people what they want to hear. As Yankelovich goes on to explain:

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

It takes both moral and emotional fortitude to confront the familiar defenses of procrastination, denial, and avoidance, as well as other forms of defense well known to psychologists such as projection, scapegoating and rationalization.

When mistrust of sources of information exists, as it often does, this too constitutes a formidable obstacle to working through. When people encounter demands to change their views of the world, they will sometimes go to great lengths to hold onto their own outlooks even if in the process they distort reality. It requires cognitive, moral, and emotional strength for those with an ideological bent of mind to resolve inner conflicts that threaten their ideology.

So what do you call someone like Gartman? A denial enabler? And what do you do about him? Eventually reality will take care of him. But in the meantime, how much damage can he inflict?

There are good savings and there are bad savings. The savings accounts in Japan are good because they have an export driven economy. Savings in the USA are bad when they go for investing in imports of consumer goods. We have also accumulated large amounts of toxic assets due to free market ideology overruling what is actually good for the country. We have banks investing our savings in each other instead of building up industries which would compete for the export of goods. We have had manufacturers competing with banks instead of with foreign manufacturers. Also with the prospect of high inflation in the near future buying goods now may be wiser than investing in a shrinking dollar.

You want to know what the real problem is?

We are trying to run a national economy by looking solely at a national income statement. There is no national balance sheet.

Any business that tried to operate solely on the basis of their income statement, with no reference to a balance sheet, would soon be bankrupt. Isn't that interesting that this is pretty much exactly the condition that the USA has gotten itself into?

Our country (and more particularly, the elites in charge of running it) have forgotten that national "wealth" is not just a matter of income (GDP), it is also a matter of increasing national assets net of national liabilities.

A nation that lives within, or preferably below, its means is going to inevitably increase its national wealth over time, just like any individual or household would.

Should households be living frugally, saving as much as they can, and investing it productively? Well, DUH! OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!!!!! Any idiot should be able to see that!

We are trying to run a national economy by looking solely at a national income statement. There is no national balance sheet.

GREAT insight. I will use it in my DC speeches.

Without attribution, of course.

Best Hopes,


Hmmm...a good deal of the long term increase in crude production is engendered by the unmentionable and seemingly unstoppable long term increase in population. Long before the 10,000 years expired in your scenario, the entire mass-energy of the universe would have become human flesh...leaving none for the cars, for the other oil-burning stuff, or, most of all, for even the oil itself...

What Happens When the US Government Loses Legitimacy?

I've been re-reading Atlas Shrugged (which I seem to do once a year). I'm at the point where the populace no longer believes in anything the government says and, in fact, ignores it.

As I look at my crystal ball, I see the same thing eventually happening in the US in the not too distant future for the following reasons:

1. The banksters who brought us this are still sitting in their offices getting huge amounts of income.
2. The congress people who changed the laws have not publicly acknowledged that their actions (in response to business greed) precipitated this disaster.
3. Government agencies tasked to protect the economy looked the other way and were headed by people who had an agenda - rather than following "the law."
4. All bailouts have gone to "friends" rather than addressing the underlying issues.

The list goes on and we all could add many more things. But, returning to my premise, it seems that people will soon start to recognize that verbiage isn't the same thing as really correcting the underlying problem(s). In Atlas Shrugged, the people said "Screw them!" and ignored the government. Is this the future in the US?


Oil Storage At Record Levels As Speculators Await Higher Prices

As a farmer, put "grain" in place of "oil", and I can tell you with
complete confidence that oil has not hit bottom yet.

But it will get more expensive to obtain it.

Greenspan an Ayn Rand Disciple:

"I've found a flaw in my Free Market Ideology." ;}

I see nothing in Rand's writings that I've read (Atlas Shrugged recently, others decades ago) that would support free public money for bankers on the side of the producing and working classes. On the side of the gov't/parasite/propaganda class, though, it fits just fine.

The problem is that when Greenspan said he was a Rand disciple nobody asked him which side he intended to support.

Greenspan said he was a Rand disciple

If one reads the gold bug web sites on Greenspan - back before he became involved with the federal reserve he was very much into the idea of Gold.

A case can be made that as he became involved with the Fed - he followed their POV.

'Farmers putting grain up'..etc.

Around here I am seeing the fertilizer spreaders starting to roll. I saw two yesterday with their nurse trucks go thru town. I knew the drivers once. They are huge monsters that can roll down the highway at or over speed limits.

Fertilizers in late January is already starting to hit the fields in getting ready for this years corn crop.

Never seen it this soon before.

Opinion. The large agchem folks are trying to empty their holding stalls of last falls very expensive N,P,K and then trying to reload them with todays cheaper products. (we call them 'products' here).

This is business practice. They can then perhaps make a profit later on the newer loads and before the price starts its inexorable climb once more.

Getting ahead of the game I think. Since I fear this years N,P,K will be very pricy indeed.

Yet if big rains come before planting them a lot will be lost due to leeching and nitification?..what ever term is in vogue for the air loss of N...Perhaps they are just doing Map n Dap....

But the wise farmers would inject Nh3 since it doesn;t activate right away..not until those poor overworked soil critters rebreed enough to alter it to real N(nitrate). Yet I think the price of Nh3 is calling that dance tune.

Just what I see and perhaps an indicator.

BTW some farmers figure their input on corn at about $3.xx and some at $4.xx per acre. That means $3/bu corn is a loser. And not sure if this figures in land rent costs for both values. Land rent is going way up since they owners saw the very big prices last year.

Its getting to be very gamy out there in the dirt.

Airdale-I might add that not all soils can produce even 150 bu/ac unless they are very heavily fertilized and subprime soils are what one soil agronomist here called 'pony lands'.

To be sure the upper corn belts lands are different but their are sometimes very sharp dividing lines between various soil types.

A farmer must soil sample these days but alas many won't and I used to do a lot of soil sampling and understand it better than most.


Fascinating - I really appreciate your observations and experience, A.
Three questions:
Isn't NH3 the cheapest, most cost-effective N source?
Isn't it used in part because it kills bugs like nematodes?
Doesn't direct application work best in acidic soil?

Nh3 cheaper? Used to be. Was in large use but prices went way up. Government controls became onerous due to meth heads constantly stealing it and that was BIG TIME stealing(so much for no violence in the outback).

Used to kill nematodes? I don't think so. The problem is it kills all soil life within the zone its injected in..usually the top 6 inches.
This can be used and is by the farmers to keep it from changing to a nitrate(hence a fertilizer) by killing the life and preventing them from thereby altering it earlier to a nitrate. The soil life after being sterilized must then re-establish itself and does so( but at a huge cost I would think,,and not relevant to the farmers).

Direct in acidic soil? Don't know why unless it has a lime attribute.

For any fertilizer to be effective you must have about a 6.5 ph. Lacking that corn does not do well. The reason for soil sampling.

I would think you could get many good answers by jogging to the UK Ag website. Try www.ca.uky.edu for the College of Ag in Univ of Ky.

Like I, acidic soils need to be brought up to 6.5 ph for corn else N,P and K do not provide near as much benefit. I am sure most sucessful farmers know this but still wander afar trying to do this without good soil samples.

They think they know more than they really do, yet for understanding their own soils they are pretty knowledgeable in some areas. Put them in a different location,,sometimes on 10 miles away and they are lost with differing soil types. Soil types are very very important.

Drainage is extremely important for N and others nutrients.

OM,,,is still treated like a red-headed step child. You still see bare ground and lots of wind and water erosion.These are the bad farmers who really destroy the land.


I was in the meeting with Dr. Lloyd Murdock as he spoke of the upcoming year here in farming. An excellent presentation. You might find his work on that website...but I caution is mostly towards Big Ag and not much on the environment.Sad to say.

PS..added this note. Nh3 is extremely dangerous to use if you are not really tuned into the methods of handling it. When I worked for a season at a big ag chem place the Nh3 'tree' was where malcontents were sent to work. A lot of freeze burns could occur.

I know farmers who have had to be choppered to large medical university hospital a long way off from getting a leak that burned them severely. Very severe. The injection rig is very testy and must be set up properly and all the many controls operated with a very good operator on the tractor(pull behind rigs).

Right now dry fertilizer can likely be applied cheaper. Also injecting in the upcoming crop rows is tricky. I would prefer a GPS steering setup with virtual rows steering but for many farmers the 'box' ends up being more intelligent than they are and they tend to despise the technology. Of course hired hands already hate GPS systems. They usually try to disable it. Kept me very busy.

Terrific information, really useful.
I know that NH3 is the most-produced chemical in the US by tonnage, right behind sulfuric acid. It does indeed have a "lime attribute," not because it mixes well with tequila, but because it reacts with acids to make ammonium salts. I mentioned it because I thought that if the pH went above 7, it would leak out of the soil into the air.

It's a clever notion to use it to both sterilize the soil and delay the microbe bloom that generates the nitrates, since denitrification can happen so quickly once the anaerobes get up and running.

As far as danger goes, why would you have stayed in the most dangerous profession all these years if you weren't confident of your abilities?

As far as danger goes, why would you have stayed in the most dangerous profession all these years if you weren't confident of your abilities?

The 2000 Ig Nobel might be a clue:
David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments." [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.]

Todd, I really hope so, but I doubt it. Just look at how many "Open Letters" and "Advice to Obama" posts this site has done. People love to hear that someone else will take care of them, even if it is completely not true.

Not everyone who is working to be involved in local or national government is doing it so that some 'Mommy and Daddy' will fix everything for them. While we've seen it crumble in so many ways, what has helped government deteriorate as much as it has is the public already having treated it like a kitchen appliance which will do the job FOR us, and we've simply steered clear from 'that mess'..

As with the environment, putting up neat-looking dividers and not looking at the mess has not done much to clean it up.. and when we want it to keep providing us, respectively, good policies or clean water, food and air, we're shocked and cynical that 'it has failed us'. The fault is mutual.

I don't know that 'Change.gov' is going to be effective.. but the demands and priorities coming from enough people will have an effect on government. It's physics. It's been held off-balance in tragic ways, especially in the last 8 years, but surely in the last 100 as well.. but that's an artificial imbalance, and physics still works.. if there's enough discomfort to awaken Rumplestiltskin from his century-old energy-supported slumber.

McDonalds would NEVER have introduced salads if this weren't true. (Very limited example, to be sure)

Point being, people getting active, communicating, being more informed and more attentive to government is NOT an example of them just hoping a new Big Daddy will fix it for them. This site and your activity in it is also a clear part of that process. It's not protests and banners now, but it's people's attention, research, thinking and advocating on countless specific areas that need new policy solutions. Energy, Healthcare, Education, Tax Policy, Foreign Policy, Conservation, Habitat Destruction, Lava Lamp Preservation, KennyG adulation.. there are multiple groups and networks that are now buzzing around these and all other topics. What existed in 1975 that had anywhere near this many minds applied to it, following news, making connections between disciplines, challenging incomplete or skewed reporting? It might seem like 'Just Talk'.. but IMO, it's actually a huge change in how we know about the world and make our choices and demands of our representatives.

But while the info is instantaneous, the course change of this bulky system is glacial.. and that much more discouraging for people who are more impatient than we've ever been before.

As a student in detention said to my father some 40 years ago. "Immediate Gratification? Nah, that takes too long!"


Regarding McDonalds. Many farmers are pissed that McDonalds said they would henceforth be buying S. American beef instead of local beef.

Really pissed.

Airdale--patriotism...for the poor and not the rich for the poor go to the battle field and the rich just get another trophy wife for their new yacht


I didn't mention it to imply they are heroic in any way.. but that their corporate decisionmaking is not immune to public forcings, and neither is government.

Still a LONG, long way to go, of course. But you made me hungry.. time to heat up some GrassFed Maine Beef!

Sorry Vegans..


Right Jokuhl,

Nothing better than a big sizzling sirloin. Some Texas toast and a baked potato. Glass of White Zinfandel...a Rocky Patel Vintage with a sniffer of Napoleon Brandy..afterwards....

So lets hope they can pull it off with the LFTM reactor. Or else it will be hard peas and dirty carrots with ash pones. Maybe some tough deer jerky.



The concept that the public is putty in the hands of the oligarchs is one of the incantations from the libertarian catechism. Its veracity is accepted by the libertarians as a matter of faith, as can be seen in the editorial by James Quinn (see Todd's link below):

The complete lack of interest or care about American history by the vast majority of citizens, allows them to be misled by the State... The public is easily manipulated by the propaganda put out by the government and trumpeted by Big Media.

There is significant evidence, however, that indicates that this might not be correct:

Opinion research in the U.S. does reveal a public strikingly inattentive to the details of even the most consequential and controversial policies. This suggests a potential for manipulation. But the research also indicates great stability and coherence in the public's underlying attitudes and values. Americans show themselves perfectly capable of making the distinctions needed to determine what Harwood Childs called "the basic ends of public policy," and of pursuing these logically and clearly. There is a persisting structure to American opinion that belies the picture of a populace helpless before the "engineers of consent."

--Everett Carl Ladd, The American Polity: The People and Their Government

Professor Ladd was head of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research until his death in 1999 and a nationally renowned polling expert.

I think it will happen, but not for decades. We'll pass through 1984 first. I suspect we are nowhere near peak population control.

Well, we've been in 1984 for a while. James Quinn had a great essay over at Financial Sense not too long ago entitled Orwell's 2009 - Big Brother is Watching. It's an excellent read - and, frankly, depressing because it is true.



Imagine, invoking the writings of George Orwell to peddle the libertarian ideology. Of all people!

Orwell was certainly no friend to the libertarian cause. Quite the contrary:

In his 1944 book review, George Orwell called [von Hayek's] The Road to Serfdom "an eloquent defence of laissez-faire capitalism" and praised Hayek's criticism of contemporary left-wing and conservative thought.[26]

He then expressed the following opinion of Hayek's solutions: "But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to 'free' competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly."

The problem to Orwell was: "Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war."


Exactly. Any system in which winning one round of the game makes you inherently more capable of winning later rounds of the game will end with one very powerful winner and lots of losers. Rather than "economic freedom" you get some kind of feudalism. Guaranteed.

This is discussed in Donella Meadows recently published book "Thinking in Systems". It is an example of a runaway feedback loop.

Dennis Meadows discusses the difference between an Easy problem and a Hard problem in this ASPO 2005 Italy Presentation (some slides are a mess but much of the presentation is excellent including the section of EROI limits to growth of energy sources.)

In an easy problem you can move directly from where you are to where you want to go. In an world of easy problems, cutting your tax rate would lead to your getting richer.


However the real world also contains hard problems. In a hard problem world, cutting your taxes starts making you richer, but then you get robbed and starve because there is not longer a police force (such as Somalia) or your neighbor builds a factory that releases airborne arsenic and poisons you, your children, and your whole neighborhood (Minneapolis Arsenic Levels) and there is no recourse because there is no government. So there comes a point at which cutting taxes stops making you richer and starts making you poorer as shown in the following graph.

The market has a horrible time solving this kind of problem because it has a very, very short evaluation time line: Today's price. So we hear calls to switch to natural gas powered cars because at the moment natural gas is cheaper per BTU than oil. But natural gas is still heading for an EROI cliff! The market cannot solve this kind of problem. Some kind of regulation must step in.

Meadows points out that hard problems often become easy problems if you can push the evaluation time line out further. No one wants to pay higher energy costs for low carbon power, but once you factor in losing all the coastal cities and the economic damage of doing nothing, the cost is pretty darn cheap. (Stern Review)

And this is why I feel that Nate and others lament our steep discount rates. We have a hard time extending the evaluation time line. I think that when people despair about "sheeple" etc, they are intuitively seeing that others have an evaluation time line that is too short to properly fit the problem. Perhaps rather than decry the situation, it would be more helpful to assist others in gaining that longer term viewpoint.

Excellent analysis, Jon.

I found a link to Orwell's entire book review. It's rather short but certainly well worth the read:

Review by Orwell: The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek / The Mirror of the Past by K. Zilliacus Observer, 9 April 1944

Between them these two books sum up our present predicament. Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.


It is an interesting review. I think Hayek and Marx are making very similar points: There will always be class warfare. And I think this is true. And true regardless of the claimed ideology of a country.

I think it stems from our very odd human nature. We are a very successful species because we cooperate so well. And yet, we pass down our genes as individuals, which gives us powerful motivation to cheat the collective. Our whole lives are a balancing act of selfishness and cooperation (selfishness best served by altruism).

I also think Orwell is exactly right about morality being the key to solving the problem. In a sense, we must establish a system where there are negative feedback loops that counter balance runaway control of power. Income tax, or supreme courts in this sense have a very similar purpose.

You probably are more familiar with philosophers than I am. Who was it who said: A true moral system would be where everyone agrees on the roles and rewards in society. But where the people making the agreement know that the roles will be randomized and you don't know which one you will get! A kind of King Soloman's ruling, where two men are to split a herd of cattle. One gets to do the split and the other get to choose which half he will take.

I found it very interesting that one feature of Plato's Republic is that children are raised as wards of the state. Thus parents will owe true allegiance to the state, because they have no way to favor just their own child. Plato was designing a system to cope with genetics 2000 years early!

It is an interesting problem. Many things have been tried. Constitutions. Vows of poverty. Vows of celibacy. And yet, some group of people always seem to find a way to overthrow the system and gain power. Watching the reduction in the "Death Tax" in the US was a perfect example of the systems self protections eroding away.

Maybe the key is to teach genetics and power politics. So people understand and are wary of the tactics that others will keep trying to employ. I don't know... Thoughts?

Just some quotes from my favorite theologian.

One of the things that can be ascertained from all of this is that democracy doesn't function on auto-pilot. Don't remember who it was, but some famous person said something to the fact that the price of democracy is constant vigilance.

Here are the quotes. They're not in the same sequence they appeared in the book:

Any modern community which establishes a tolerable justice is the beneficiary of the ironic triumph of the wisdom of common sense over the foolishness of its wise men. For the wise men are inevitably tempted to follow either one or the other line of “rational” advance of which the bourgeois (“libertarian,” in today’s vernacular) and the Marxist ideologies are perfect types. The one form of thought regards all social and historical processes as self-regulating. In this case it is only required to eliminate the foolish restraints and controls which former generations have sought to place upon them. This is, on the whole, the conception of rational politics and economics of the bourgeois era since the French Enlightenment. The alternative type of thought conceives a social or historical goal, presumably desired by all humanity, and seeks to “plan” for its achievement.

The debate between those who want to plan and those who want to remove as many restraints as possible from human activities transcends the limits of the political controversy between the industrial workers and the middle class by which it is best know in modern life. But that controversy offers a perfect illustration of the “ideological taint” which colors the reason of each type of thought. Middle-class life came to power and wealth by breaking ancient restraints; and the more successful middle classes fear new restraints upon their sometimes quite inordinate powers and privileges. They, therefore, speak piously and reverently of “the laws of nature” which must not be violated; and they endow the unpredictable drama of human history with fixities of nature not to be found there.

The industrial classes, on the other hand, found themselves in an unfavorable situation in this celebrated “free” world. They were involved in a vast social mechanism which periodically broke down; and they were not consoled by the belief that these crises were necessary for society’s health. They lacked the personal skills to enter on even terms in an individualistic competitive struggle; and they were confronted in any case with consolidations of power which they could not match. In fairly honest democracies they saw the possibility of organizing both economic and political power to match that of the more privileged classes. In the less healthy democracies or undemocratic nations, their fears and resentments found assuagement in the Marxist scheme which envisaged not only a “plan” of justice for society but of redemption for the whole of mankind…

Power, in the thought of the typically bourgeois man, is political. He believes that it must be reduced to a minimum. The earlier bourgeois man wanted to eliminate political power because it represented the special advantages which the old aristocracy had over him. The present bourgeois man wants to reduce it to a minimum because it represents the effort of a democratic society to bring disproportions of economic power under control. In the shift of motive from earlier to later bourgeois man lies the inevitable degradation of the liberal dogma…

Marxism is so formidable as a political creed precisely because it expresses the convictions of those who have discovered the errors in the liberal-bourgeois creed in bitter experience. Marxism is so dangerous because in its consistent form it usually substitutes a more grievous error for the error which it challenges. In this debate between errors, or between half-truth and half-truth, America is usually completely on the side of the bourgeois credo in theory; but in practice it has achieved balances of power in the organization of social forces and consequent justice which has robbed the Marxist challenge of its sting.

The triumph of the wisdom of common sense over these two types of wisdom is, therefore, primarily the wisdom of democracy itself, which prevents either strategy from being carried through to its logical conclusion. There is an element of truth in each position which becomes falsehood, precisely when it is carried through too consistently. The element of truth in each creed is required to do full justice to man’s real situation. For man transcends the social and historical process sufficiently to make it possible and necessary deliberately to contrive common ends of life, particularly the end of justice. He cannot count on inadvertence and the coincidence of private desires alone to achieve common ends. On the other hand, man is too immersed in the welter of interest and passion in history and his survey over the total process is too short-range and limited to justify the endowment of any group or institution of “planners” with complete power. The “purity” of their idealism and the pretensions of their science must always be suspect. Man simply does not have a “pure” reason in human affairs; and if such reason as he has is given complete power to attain its ends, the taint will become the more noxious.

The controversy between those who would “plan” justice and order and those who trust in freedom to establish both is, therefore, an irresolvable one. Every healthy society will live in the tension of that controversy until the end of history; and will prove its health by preventing either side from gaining complete victory.

--Reinhold Niebur, The Irony of American History

There is a very simple answer to all this: one person, one vote. Government's role perhaps should be managerial rather than as decision-makers. Imagine if, as in the early days of some of the colonies, people spent a significant portion of their time sitting discussing the issues of their neighborhood, city, state and nation. Imagine if these people knew they were responsible for the decisions their neighborhood, city, state and nation made. Imagine if they voted on all major policy issues. Imagine if the representatives only implemented such policies rather than setting them.

In this day and age, with the size of population we are dealing with and the internet, this is all doable. Turn off the TVs. Get out of the movie houses. Turn off your Wii. Use your internet connection to learn.

And vote.

Need to motivate people to vote? Give them the day off. Make it a national holiday. But if they don't come back with their proof of voting, dock their pay for the day.


By the way, in The Black Swan Taleb delves into the idea you posit of how "winning today makes you more likely to win in the future" (p. 250).

He variously calls it "preferential attachment", "cumulative advantage" or "the Matthew Effect" (see also p.216):

Today, a few take almost everything; the rest, next to nothing....

The inequity comes when someone perceived as being marginally better gets the whole pie.

In the arts--say the cinema--things are far more vicious. What we call "talent" generally comes from success, rather than its opposite. A great deal of empircism has been done on the subject, most notably by Art De Vany, an insightful and original thinker who singlemindedly studied wild uncertainty in the movies. He showed that, sadly, much of what we ascribe to skills is an after-the-fact attribution. The movie makes the actor, he claims--and a large dose of nonlinerar luck makes the movie.

The success of movies depends severely on contagions. Such contagions do not just apply to the movies: they seem to affect a wide range of cultural products. It is hard for us to accept that people do not fall in love with works of art only for their own sake, but also in order to feel that they belong to a community. By imitating, we get closer to others--that is, other imitators. It fights solitude.

--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan, pp. 30-31

I've been thinking about this. In many fields, it's become "winner take all." It used to be that someone with talent could make a living as a musician, a writer, a baseball player. They might not get rich, but they'd make a living.

Now, a few people in those fields make obscene amounts of money, while most people who try cannot even make a living. One of my friends who is an editor says "the mid-list has disappeared." That is, the B-level writers who used be the backbone of the book publishing industry have a hard time selling their manuscripts. The publishers want Stephen King or JK Rowling, or unknown authors who might become King or Rowling. (And if they don't, no big loss, because they're cheap.)

That's simply because population has increased so much. People publish books from all over the world, meaning the B-list hasn't dissappeared, nor has it ceased to be the backbone of the publishing industry.

It's just that they need some absolute number of writers to keep a well-stocked bookstore stocked. That's, say, 5000. Bigger bookstores ? Ok, 6000 writers necessary. While the required writers went from 5000 to 6000, the population increased much more, and therefore the chances of making the B-list dropped, even as more candidates became available.

But don't worry, if evolution is correct, the only possible outcome is a massive deathtoll amongst the "less fit", which will probably include anyone trying to make the B-list writers, successful or not. In fact, given today's numbers of political ideologies, it seems that killing gays is going to be the vogue for the 21st century. Don't like that ? Hey ! Aren't you tolerant of those other religions ?

Btw : you people do realise that liberal ideology has been in power in europe for almost 20 years continuously and in the US for several years (interrupted by Bush). Europe is in a whole lot of worse shape than america ... the logical conclusion would be that "liberalism" (which in europe certainly hasn't increased anyone's liberty, quite the contrary, it was under liberal government that londen installed it's spy cameras. To ensure "fairness". I guess it's just about the only option they have, and it's not working.)

So what's your excuse for the utter undemocratic disaster that is the EU ? The extremely sorry state of any west-european capital ? All these happened, it seems, due to liberal ideology. And in all these places, liberty itself, basic rights is collapsing. From this side of the pond, it seems that Bush, with all his faults, made a hell of a lot of people a lot more free than "liberals" did on this side of the pond.

Here, it's just about finished for liberty. Rational thinking about most subjects is outright scorned. And criticism of the most violent religion on the planet has become criminal. "Youths" are killing gays all over the western european map. It is impossible to discuss, say, global warming models, or even say anything negative about them (like "the only solution is lower population ... right now ... so who do we kill ?").

"Liberalism" is a total misnomer, as liberty is exactly what this ideology is killing.

The real problem is simply that all but a few humans are no longer needed. The economy would run perfectly on 40% of all living people, in America (working and producing, govt. workers don't count), in europe it's less than 20% of people that are productive members of society, and those numbers are massive compared to what you see in the middle east (except, of course, in Israel). All but a few people are useless, dead weight.

It's only a matter of time before the real world "removes" the dead weight. This can go by way of government mandate (the "liberal" way to do it : killing of your own people and draconian procreation laws like china, with the massive corruption such laws bring), or by better ways. But the liberals have chosen : they want to choose who to kill. The issue is that the last few times the left did that, they chose to kill exactly those productive members of society, and then died from famine when nothing was produced.

I am sympathetic to the idea that a lot of jobs are of little utility. But why 40% of Americans needed but only <20% of Europeans? Are their public sectors that much larger. Would you say that all NHS doctors in the UK are unnecessary?

It's simply a comparison you can make. US gov, EU gov. The truth is the US gov, as huge as it's army is, is loads smaller than even a single eu gov. (per capita). In Belgium, just over 20% of jobs are directly government jobs, and certainly another 10% are "indirectly" exclusively government. That's NOT coun78ting public health sector, or schooling, each of which also has more than 10% of jobs.

Furthermore, only 40% of the population is employed to begin with. People who are actually producing value in the EU is certainly less than 25% of the population.

Another statistic. Belgium's unemployment rate this year was 11,7% (not counting november-december, ie before the crisis), the "lowest ever" (well the lowest since WWII). There are large regions in brussels (muslim neighbourhoods mainly, very few muslims work, and almost none outside of government (yes I know 2 positive exceptions, but they don't change the numbers, and they're not at all believers, so to speak. Not that I don't support them) that actually have 98% unemployment. Until I went there myself and saw the people were just lying in the streets doing nothing I didn't believe that was possible. Or I believed it was possible, but only in countries like somalia or some such. The US unemployment ratio in januari is going to be 9%, the "highest since WWII". If we ever drop below 10% I think it will promptly be declared a national holiday.

I head (but I don't know) that in muslim countries in the middle east, things like 80% unemployment aren't at all rare.

It's simply a comparison you can make. US gov, EU gov..... People who are actually producing value

Would this be the value of 'bad' meat in the food system as noted by U. Sinclair in The Jungle? How about the value of Enron? Or Arthur Anderson? How about the value of Standard Oil? Or Microsoft? Or the telephone/cable network?

That's simply because population has increased so much. People publish books from all over the world, meaning the B-list hasn't dissappeared, nor has it ceased to be the backbone of the publishing industry.

That might be true for baseball, but that's not what's happening with publishing. What's happening with publishing is economic pressure. People are reading less. Two-thirds of Americans don't buy even one book a year. Not a bible, not a cookbook, not a celebrity tell-all. That's made publishers very fearful of taking risks. They want a sure thing, or something so cheap it's no loss if it tanks. I think the same thing is going on with movies.

As for the rest of your post...I'm afraid I don't see any "better ways" in our future. It's going to suck, one way or another.

Also, for my fellow Americans..."liberal" in Europe doesn't mean the same thing as "liberal" in the U.S. It means almost the opposite. We would probably use the word "Libertarian" instead. What we consider "liberal" would be called...socialist, I guess, in Europe?

Compared to Europe and much of the rest of the world, the US hardly has much of a left wing to amount to anything. The Democratic party would fit very well as a center right party in most other nation's political spectrums. The Republican party would be hard right, and maybe not even represented in parliament in many countries. The typical left-wing politician in most other countries would have little to no chance of getting elected to anything in the US, which is why the left is pretty much missing from the US political spectrum.

Most Americans are unaware of just how extremely right wing their country is.

Or, as I like to refer to them, "The Capitalist Party" and "The Other Capitalist Party".

If I am feeling verbose I might call them the "Radical Extremist Right-Wing Party" and the "Microscopically to the Left of the Radical Extremist Right-Wing Party".

Most Americans are unaware of just how extremely right wing their country is.

I think there is a little bit of overlap. For instance congressmen Charlie Wrangle, and Dennis Kucinitch(sp?) would easily fir within the European spectrum (but are considered outliers here). But you are right, that most Americans don't realize how far right we have drifted. I think this has been the work of the so called think-tank institutions, whose efforts to tilt the playing field ever more towards the right have bore fruit.

I'd say Taleb has a full three chapters dedicated to this very subject, plus much more sprinkled throughout the book. He even devotes one full chapter to a fictitious writer he calls Yevgenia Nikolayevna Krasnova and her "rise from the second basement to superstar." Chapter 14 has some comments on how the internet and an "emerging business called print-on-demand" may help to ameliorate some of the inequities in the business.

I tried to find some quotes that summarize concisely his point of view, but wasn't successful. I don't know if that's because they're not there or I'm just rum-dum. I'm not a night person.

I wonder. There's been a lot of talk about print on demand, probably for twenty years now, but so far, it's mostly talk. (Though there have been some success stories, like Eragon.) The problem is you need someone to separate the wheat from the chaff. That's what an editor is for. (See Fanfic.net to see what I mean.)

I think re-localization is a more likely solution. It might not happen right away, but in the long run, I think our culture will become less centralized and monolithic.

I think a parallel to what's happened in publishing can also be applied to radio. My heart breaks when I think about the way the local radio stations used to be such a big part of my life growing up - and how today's youth has nothing so personal. For all intents and purposes local radio no longer exists. The other day I was listening to "On The Radio" by Cheap Trick and the lyrics about how listeners to be able to interact with the local DJ, call up a request/dedication, etc. Now we "interact" via Facebook. Uggh. In the process, we have also lost a very valuable means of local communication. It has all become so de-personalized, with "DJs" working only on a national basis and having no connection to the local communities where they broadcast.

Now we're seeing the same with newspaper publishing. More and more centralized reporting sources and feeds, and more and more cuts in local reporting. We'll all regret the loss.

The only way to work against this is to deliberately turn your back on those big-time national/global "winners", and throw your lot in with your local community. "Relocalization" has to be about a lot more than just growing and eating food locally. It has to include patronizing locally-owned businesses, and local craftspersons and artists, and attending local cultural events.

It has to include patronizing locally-owned businesses, and local craftspersons and artists, and attending local cultural events.

Yes, one of the charms of New Orleans, especially "attending local cultural events".

Mardi Gras is February 24th :-)


It seems to me that libertarian philosophy is solely normative: the group that is most innovative will most benefit from laissez faire and that is justice. However, I don't think the libertarian makes much of a case that the "free market" will maximize job creation or some other measure of societal progress. Of course, corporations aren't in business to do that. Maybe libertarians should explicitly say that if you lose in their utopia--tough s***.

Not so, according to Taleb.

Intellectual, scientific, artistic and trading (stock and commodity) activities belong to the province of what he calls "Extremistan," where "there is a severe concentration of success," and it is not talent or genius that contributes most to creating the superstars, but just plain old dumb luck--a "Black Swan surprise--i.e., you are a reverse turkey."

I only mean to say that libertarians think the most talented and hard working will rise to the top if their political philosophy prevails. If libertarians want to run for political office, though, they have to convince a majority (plurality) of voters that going libertarian is the best choice. Because, IMO, their philosophy won't benefit most, I think that's why they're not too vocal about the societal benefits--they just don't care. Of the libertarians I have met, most just want their taxes lowered.

Libertarianism explicitly fails to address the Tragedy of the Commons, externalizing environmental costs, for example. The timelines for responsible action are simply too long to be good business.

Todd, There is a 'Notice of Hearing' by HLS to start locking down all nitrate fertilizer sales and going to paper trail all of it. So I read.
No source. One can find it easily on the web. My fingers are tired.


Hi Airdale,
I read something about this recently in Chemical & Engineering News. IIRC it was directed toward AmN not all nitrates. And, yes, big time paper trail. Arg! They're all a bunch of idiots.


One of the things I quote from Atlas is what I call "Generally Assume the Opposite Rule." In the book, one could discern the truth by generally assuming that the opposite of what government officials said, and what was duly reported in the press, was the actual truth.

And an energy related excerpt I have previously posted:

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand:

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.*

*Small irony, Rand was an energy cornucopian

Well, I guess that explains this:

Obama breaks his own rule

You see, what happened is, there is this former lobbyist for a big defense contractor called Raytheon. His name is William Lynn.

President Obama wants him to be deputy defense secretary. So, the Obama administration wants a waiver to its own rule.

That basically means they are saying, we will mostly put tough new restrictions on lobbyists, except when we won't.

Ok who bet it would only take 3-4 days for him to break his own word?
You do not know the vitriol i get when i basically say to obama supporters(like my mother) 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'
Though to be fair this is the second campaign promise he broke, the first one was the warentless wiretaping of the bush administration. Said he would stop it, Now he fully supports it.

Everybody with half a mind did ... obviously. Do you find demagogues that hard to recognize ?

Making intelligent choices is easy. Look what everybody is saying is "the right guy/thing", then go for the other guy. That's where the smart money is. Take global warming for example : note the masses of totally scientific incompetents are pushing global warming. The smart bet is that it's all a lie, and not even an accidental one at that.

Look what everybody is saying is "the right guy/thing", then go for the other guy.

Who is this 'everybody'?

In your world if 'everyone' says "do not grasp red hot iron with your bare hands" you'll be grabbing red hot iron?

Take global warming for example :

Ok. Lets.

note the masses of totally scientific incompetents are pushing global warming. The smart bet is that it's all a lie, and not even an accidental one at that.

Alas - none of us will be alive to see the outcome. Not to mention - if you are wrong, I'm guessing you'll just shrug your shoulders and go 'whoops' VS actually being responsible for your choice.

This was not even the topic of discussion, but Col Lawrence Wilkerson retired was none too happy about it and could not wait to express it.

About 4:30 in for about 90 seconds (but the rest is kind of interesting if not off topic - sorry).

Rachel Maddow Show: Larry Wilkerson on Security Issues and Gitmo


After watching this YouTube with the Maddow twit I am still happy to have disconnected my TV years ago.

I almost upchucked my salsa and taco chips. If it MSNBC its twaddle.

I much prefer unbiased reporting,if such a thing still exists and I don't think it does..on either side.

My URL taken by a grunt in Afghanistan that I posted the other day was as close to the truth as it gets. No one responded. I guess it was not something many wanted to hear. Showing huge piles of 'hash' , IEDed death service men and civilians,etc.

I suggest then we pull out of every country in the world and let them fight each other as much as they wish.

If someone looses a nuke? Well this is where the diplomats are called in after thousands are dead. Isn't it? Oh they always love their cushy jobs. A bunch if no-ops.

If you don't prempt the nuke strike against your country then what pray tell do you do? Just sit and wait and watch?
I have no answer of course. Thats Big O's problem. Hope he gets it right but so far he is looking not too spiffy.

Maddow is one of the worst things on TV, she and her ilkmister Keith Olberman are liberal truth pornographers I refuse to watch either of them. Just like I refuse to watch Shawn Hannerty from the other end of the spectrum. Life is to short for all their distorted, hatemongering crap besides my blood pressure doesn't need to go there.

I think if she was capable of the acrobatics that she would have her lips constantly pressed to her rear end. Thats how much she is in love with herself and her own jabberwocky...and I stated the above quite daintily.

What is it with these newsie bimbos that think they can call it something like news and sway it all they way to what THEY think?

Oh...its not news..its ......whatever the funky word is...like Rush is doing...News interpretation? Like we are far too stupid for us to understand so some idiot has to spoon feed us twittrash she makes up in her wetdreams?

Perhaps the misunderstanding is yours? Neither Maddow nor Olbermann are doing news; they are doing commentary. I'm certain you understand the difference, so maybe it's just not being a familiar enough with their show(s)?

There were people who used to (still?) think The Daily Show was news/commentary.


Regarding Obama-talk.

So he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

So we expected something different?

I see that his petition to Congress for the additional $350 billion is being rejected.

So the 'honeymoon' didn't last much more than one day!!!


Due to the bizarre way the bailout bill was written, the "rejection" means nothing, and was just political posturing so that Congressmen could go back to their constituents and say that they voted against it. The Senate already voted down a rejection (aka "approved") it, although it was a senate bill rather than a house bill so there is a microscopic chance of another vote in the Senate. The worst that can happen is that Obama will be forced to veto it, in which case he gets the money anyway.

Don't worry, he'll get the money. The only question is whether it will be utterly p***ed away, or whether some of it will accidentally do some good.

Rand's magical utopia was powered with a scientifically absurd device which extracted energy from small scale electrostatic fields. Atlas Shrugged also denigrated christian values such as compassion for the poor and instead advocated letting children starve to death because their parents made bad choices. She ignored the fact that many people suffer because of bad choices of the rich and powerful. America tried unregulated free markets in the 19th century and what it got was chronic double digit unemployment in the good times and depressions every 20 years with a few deep recessions every decade.

Not to mention governments which would bend over backwards to help the monopoly's that formed.

What Happens When the US Government Loses Legitimacy?

I'm thinking governments at many levels are largely illegitimate right now. There has always been a certain "variety" in how the law applied to different actors, but the more arbitrary that gets, the more "rule of law" gets replaced by "rule of man". There are many more points than on your list, too. One of them, critical, is the generational conflict. There will be the older population that wants to hang on by the bloody fingernails pitted against the younger population that's being ripped off to keep the older population rich. Another, our culture - including laws and representational systems - is built on a certain level of energy use that will be cut in half in less than a decade. So - to my mind - the current government system simply isn't going to work for more than a few more years. Whether a morph to something along the lines of Hanson's warsocialism is "legitimate" I suppose one could debate.

Legitimacy is a huge issue. Robb addresses it frequently at globalguerrillas. Jeff Vail has written on it, etc.... It can flip overnight. Right now, it would take only one governor to order the Guard home, to demote the officers that refused (because they have been federalized), to refuse to deploy more citizens of their state to Iraq or Afghanistan. I'd point out that such an act would be a *legitimate* act of a governor of a state in terms of meeting the needs of her state. An energy emergency - put the Guard to work laying rail, building community gardens and insulating buildings. It would also be "illegal". That's only one example of how our laws are wrong. WTO. GATTS. Intellectual Property law. There are all sorts of laws that are wrong; they might have "worked" in a time of plentiful energy but will not work in a time of energy descent.

cfm in Gray, ME

Tainter also writes about legitimacy. While some aspects of legitimacy are nonmaterial - ("the king is a god," "democracy is the best form of government"), no government can continue to survive unless it provides material benefits to its people. So Rome kept increasing the dole, even while they were going bankrupt. By the end, one out of three people was on the dole.

There's another way governments ensure their existence, besides legitimization: coercion. In Rome, sons of farmers were required to be farmers themselves, because otherwise, they couldn't get anyone to farm. Taxes were so high that it was easier to get food in the city than on the farms that grew it. Farmers abandoned their land (leaving Rome to pass laws on how to tax abandoned farmland).

I don't know what the case is for other states, but the NC statutes provide for the following:

§ 127A‑1. Composition of militia.

The militia of the State shall consist of all able‑bodied citizens of the State and of the United States and such other able‑bodied persons who have or shall declare their intention to become citizens of the United States, subject to such qualifications as may be hereinafter prescribed, who shall be drafted into said militia or shall voluntarily accept commission, appointment, or assignment to duty therein.

§ 127A‑2. Classification of militia.

The militia shall be divided into the organized and unorganized militia. The organized militia shall consist of four classes: the North Carolina national guard, the naval militia, the State defense militia and historic military commands.

Note that in addition to the National Guard, the NC governor has the statutory authority to organize and command a "State Defense Militia". Here's a little more about that:

§ 127A‑80. Authority to organize and maintain State defense militia of North Carolina.

(a) The Governor is authorized to organize such part of the unorganized militia as a State force for discipline and training, into companies, battalions, regiments, brigades or similar organizations, as may be deemed necessary for the defense of the State; to maintain, uniform and equip such military force within the appropriations available; to exercise discipline in the same manner as is now or may hereafter be provided by the laws of the State for the national guard. Such military force shall be subject to the call or the order of the Governor to execute the law and secure the safety of persons and property, suppress riots or insurrections, repel invasions or provide disaster relief, as may now or hereafter be provided by law for the national guard or for the State militia.

(b) Such military force shall be designated as the "North Carolina State Defense Militia" and shall be composed of personnel of the unorganized militia as may volunteer for service therein or be drafted as provided by law. To be eligible for service in an enlisted status, a person must be at least 17 years of age. To be eligible for service as an officer, a person must be at least 18 years of age. The force and its personnel shall be additional to and distinct from the national guard organized under existing law. A person may not become a member of the defense militia established under this section, if a member of a reserve component of the armed forces.

(c) The Governor is hereby authorized: to prescribe rules and regulations governing the appointment of officers, the enlistment of other personnel, the organization, administration, equipment, discipline and discharge of the personnel of such military force; to requisition from the Secretary of Defense such arms and equipment as may be in possession of and can be spared by the Department of Defense; and to furnish the facilities of available armories, equipment, State premises and property, for the purpose of drill and instruction.

As far as I know, NC does not presently have an activated "State Defense Militia", but the law is there, and it could be created at any time that the need arose.

Some states do have in their constitutions the ability to raise a home-grown militia that would perhaps be independent of the Guard. In NC it appears explicitly independent. So what is the National Guard doing in Iraq? Why did every single governor in every single state put up with that? Basically, because the kind of character type that gets elected to higher offices is into domination and authority. They like to exercise power and hitch their wagons to more powerful figures like Bush. But fundamentally, they are thugs. We like to pretend they are important statesmen.

cfm in Gray, ME


Would as well recall a book titled
"Generation of Vipers" by Philip Wylie?

I read it very very long ago..like in High School and still recall the message it carried very clearly.

I also read the Rand series and can't recall much of anything except it was about rugged individualism and getting rich that way...along those lines.

I view Wylie as reincarnated in the body of JHK.


Robert Reich sums it up with a good moniker-Lemon Socialism (the taxpayers get the lemons, private money keeps the good ones) http://robertreich.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-america-has-embraced-lemon.html

Daniel Weintraub from Ashizashiz:

As Spock said to Commander Decker regarding his continued attempts to defeat an enemy with ineffective weapons: "...That sir is illogical. It is suicide. Attempted suicide would be proof that you are psychologically unfit for command. If you don't veer off, I shall relieve you on that basis..." This is how we should view our government, right now. If they continue on this course of spending trillions of dollars that we do not in fact possess, to try and stimulate growth in an economy in which real GDP growth cannot in fact occur, than their illogical actions are suicidal, if not genocidal. And it is up to us to relieve them of their command should they continue on this course.

I think their actions are more akin to embezzlement than suicide-these guys will be just fine. Thain's 1.2 million dollar office reno wasn't suicidal, and everyone controlling Obama is pretty well an exact clone of Thain.

these guys will be just fine.

That's the plan. Better be reinforceing those gates in their gated communities.

Hovnanian bankrupt and Dallas has completely stopped building, except for
that library at SMU and Laura's new digs.

Good luck when our former middle class find out
they will be getting no pension, SS, or health care while the looters
are still in their penthouses.

The MEME: Thain = Madoff.

Search Results

Yahoo! Message Boards - Bank of America Corporation - Thain = Madoff
... all Topics | View all Messages < Newer Topic | Older Topic >. Thain = Madoff 22 minutes ago ... Thain = Madoff. mikieboy111... Not rated, 22 minutes ago ...
messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_(A_to_Z)/Stocks_B/threadview?m=tm&bn=1903&tid=438457&mid...21&off... - 44k - Cached - Similar pages -
Deal Journal - WSJ.com : New York Attorney General Scrutinizes ...
Jan 22, 2009 ... Clearly another Madoff guise. Thain / Madoff what’s the difference. Should be sometype of clawback for BAC. Comment by Castellone - January ...
blogs.wsj.com/deals/2009/01/22/new-york-attorney-general-scrutinizes-merrill-lynch-bonuses/?mod=msn_money_ticker - 148k - Cached - Similar pages -

Bank of America Loses Thain, Gains a Shareholder Suit - WORLD Law ...
People such a Thain, Madoff, and numerous others on Wall Street are to blame for the current state of the economy. This is not a revolutionary statement. ...
www.worldlawdirect.com/forum/class-actions-defective-products/20463-bank... - 59k

No more CO2 from cement?? Power plant, steel plant, industrial CO2 captured at virtually NO COST??

I saw a brief presentation from the founder and head of Calera corp. yesterday. By bubbling flue gas thru seawater, he precipitates out calcium and magnesium carbonates. Sequestering lots and lots of CO2. Cement goes from 1 ton of CO2 per ton produced to 1 ton of CO2 sequestered per ton produced. Pretty impressive.

Vinod Khosla gave him the $$ to start. He's scaling up big and fast. It requires very little energy to accomplish. The potential is HUGE.

Anyone care to shoot any holes in this? Should someone tell him it's impossible before he goes and does it? I suppose you need access to seawater. He's being very thorough about effects on the marine environment, working with the local marine research institute.

1 more thing - the resulting 'soft' water is much cheaper to desalinate...

Half of cement process CO2 emissions are due to the chemical reaction in cement clinker production. These process emissions are not affected by energy efficiency measures.

Cement production is an important source of CO2 emissions, accounting for 1.8 Gt CO2 in 2005

China produces 47%. Or did.



From Scientific American:

The Calera process essentially mimics marine cement, which is produced by coral when making their shells and reefs, taking the calcium and magnesium in seawater and using it to form carbonates at normal temperatures and pressures. "We are turning CO2 into carbonic acid and then making carbonate," Constantz says. "All we need is water and pollution."

The company employs spray dryers that utilize the heat in the flue gas to dry the slurry that results from mixing the water and pollution. "A gas-fired power plant is basically like attaching a jet engine to the ground," Constantz notes. "We use the waste heat of the flue gas. They're just shooting it up into the atmosphere anyway."

In essence, the company is making chalk, and that's the color of the resulting cement: snow white. Once dried, the Calera cement can be used as a replacement for the Portland cement that is typically blended with rock and other material to make the concrete in everything from roads to buildings. "We think since we're making the cement out of CO2, the more you use, the better," says Constantz, who formerly made medical cements. "Make that wall five feet thick, sequester CO2, and be cooler in summer, warmer in winter and more seismically stable. Or make a road twice as thick."

So this is not an energy efficiency measure. This replaces a CO2 producing process with a CO2 sequestering process.

I don't have time to dig right now, but I suspect calcium and magnesium are both PPM levels in seawater. That means that the potential for precipitating may be limited. By that I mean you may not get a lot of either to precipitate. Set up the solubility equation using the solubility of CO2 in the ocean (which is going to form carbonic acid), use the solubility product, and find the concentration in seawater and you can tell what the potential for precipitation actually is. If it does precipitate, it's going to take a tremendous amount of seawater to precipitate much of either. But again, it's all math and if someone has a few minutes to look all of the constants up you can either verify or debunk the potential pretty quickly.

it can be debunked on the basis of the 1st sentence:

"....industrial CO2 captured at virtually NO COST?? "

unless one can install an ocean on the exhaust for virtually free, that is.

The other thing is that I went over to the Scientific American article, and there is a lot more to it than bubbling through seawater. They are actually using spray dryers, so they have to evaporate the seawater. One would have to again do some calculations to see whether there is enough waste energy to vaporize the seawater away, whether that waste energy is currently being utilized in any way, and what else ends up in the precipitate after the sea water is evaporated.

Not a bad idea (and I don't think I had heard this before), but reminds me of so much biofuels hype: It's clean, cheap, and good for you. But it is pretty straightforward (it would just take a little time) to go through the calculations and see whether everything adds up.

Just tell me they aren't thinking of dumping that CO2 saturated sea water back into the ocean. "No Cost".

Hi Elwood

That was my provocative first line - something Totonelia taught me.

The seawater is already being pumped for cooling. The heat is already discharged as waste. These are the 2 big inputs... The Sci Am article is a good brief summary. Check it out...

Hi Robert,

I thought of you when I heard about this. (and I didn't want to antagonize you, I promise, by bringing up Khosla. An article I just read depicted him as very tenacious and studious. It made sense that you two would have such 'animated discussions' in your respective searches for understanding)

I believe the figure I heard was 1.4 billion gallons a day of seawater pumped thru this one power plant. It seems there's a lot of seawater cooling happening, lots of little Mg and Ca atoms/molecules circulating around waiting for some CO2 to latch onto... I passed organic chem in college, but don't want to revisit it right now.

Someone want to figure out CO2 per day coming out of a plant vs Ca and Mg in a billion or 2 gallons of seawater...?

I heard was 1.4 billion gallons a day of seawater pumped thru this one power plant.

Of course the pumping costs of that immediately call into question the claim of 'virtually NO COST.'

If the southern hemisphere oceans are already becoming so acidic as to threaten their natural state, and the oceans are warming, albiet fairly slowly, how are we hoping to solve any problem by using oceanic saltwater, and heating it? Will it then just be like the trash at the curb and disappear, or will it then go someplace? I know that my trash goes someplace - like the recyclers, the compost pile, or to the landfill, but maybe a new process has been developed to make this seawater disappear once it is acidified and heated, so that it will have no further impact.

Unintended consequences?

As I understand it...

The seawater is currently pumped for cooling in existing power plants. There is no additional heating (unless this is an exothermic reaction, and what about the offset of greenhouse effect diminishment via CO2 removal?) or pumping. Might there even be a bit less warming as a result of this process?

Ocean acidification results from atmospheric CO2. This prevents atmospheric CO2. Any chemists out there - does this process (which mimics coral reef building) cause acidification of water?

Calera is working with conservation-minded top-notch marine researchers at the adjacent world-class marine institute to monitor these things.

I appreciate the discussion here.

How about 1 billion tons of CO2 sequestered?

gotosurf -

I'm not sure what you're trying to get at ... perhaps that if some more CO2 is added to seawater the Ca and Mg will somehow react with it to do something undesireable?

Well, that is simply not the case. In seawater the Ca and Mg are fully dissolved and in the form of positive ions. There is also a substantial amount of bicarbonate ions (HCO3-), plus far lesser amounts of both dissolved CO2 and carbonate ions (CO3 2-) present in seawater. These 'carbon species' are in equilibrium. Adding more CO2 (at least in amounts capable of being transferred from the atmosphere), merely shifts the equilibrium in the direction of more bicarbonate ions, and nothing important is going to happen between the dissolved Ca and Mg and the newly injected CO2. No very exciting.

Now, a lowering of the seawater pH by additional CO2 WILL result in some additional dissolution of solid deposits of calcium carbonate and other minerals, such as found in coral reefs and various shellfish. And that is not a good thing.

The sea is vast and there is a vast amount of bicarbonate ions in it. It has a pretty decent buffering capacitiy, so we are not going to wake up one morning to find that the ocean has turned to acid. One should not confuse pH and acidity/alkalinity. Depend on the specific aquatic chemistry involved, pH can increase or decrease without necessarily resulting in a increase or decrease in acidity/alkalinity. The reverse is also sometimes true.

Joule -

Thanks for the chemistry input.

The only thing I'm getting at is... understanding. And using TOD knowledge for help. This idea/process/business is going forward. Ramping up in a huge way. The exes's involved/hired-on are a best in their field in the world bunch, culled from leading similar industries.

Somehow by diverting the CO2-containing flue gases thru seawater, they precipitate out CaCO3 and MgCO3. This is the essence of it.

Again - the massive volumes of seawater are already pumped. The drying part is all new to me - perhaps not enough waste heat to fully accomplish this? Nevertheless - CO2-containing exhaust is 'bubbled' thru existing circulating seawater, which is returned to the sea (or desalinated) unpolluted (hopefully, including acid, pH, and or heat) leaving, after drying, huge mounds of fine aggregate/coarse aggregate/cement.

Replacing cement production - positive
Sequestering power plant CO2 - positive
Easier to desalinate seawater leftover - positive
Non-polluting to ocean - neutral (not making anything worse, or better)
Not energy intensive - neutral (no cost to marine environment) better than other CO2 plans, saves vs. conventional cement production

got2surf -

Well, if the idea is that by contacting CO2 with seawater there will result a precipitation of solid calcium and magnesium carbonate, then that idea is completely wrong.

Only by either i) adding more dissolved Ca or Mg, and/or ii) raising the pH of the seawater into the 9+ range will you get any appreciable precipitation of CaCO3, Mg2CO3, or combined solid Ca/Mg compounds.

The addition of CO2 to seawater will make these compound LESS likely to precipitate out rather than more likely. (That is why, as I mentioned in my last comment above, CO2 will cause increased dissolution of coral and other mineral-like substances containing CaCO3.)

Sorry, but it's a NO-GO.

I am reminded of a chemistry lab from oh-so-many decades ago. My chem is pretty rusty, but as I recall, we reacted mercury with thiocyanate. While the simple mercury thiocyanate is very insoluble in water, if you keep adding it to the precipitate, it goes back into solution as a coordination complex.

(I don't think they let chem students play with mercury compounds much any more.)

There's also the commonly known mechanism in cave chemistry, where calcium carbonate makes flowstone formations by the action of CO2 dissolving CaCO3 as a bicarbonate solution and carrying it in the water stream.


So, I get that CO2 is a acidifier. CO2 is not going to cause Calcium and Magnesium to precipitate out of seawater, on the surface of things (so to speak).

So what's going on? Why would it be funded? How has it worked? Why are $$millions going in to scale this up?

Help!! More chemistry needed!!

Possible hint: all the shell-forming creatures of the sea do this. Coral to snails, it's all Ca/Mg (+ CO2 I presume) + seawater (@ normal temp. and pressure) -->> CaCO3 a/o MgCO3

Marine biologists are now worried about those shell-forming creatures. The higher levels of [bicarbonate|acidity] in seawater are starting to noticeably degrade colonies of hard shelled creatures in some areas.

What those of us with some chemistry background are trying to say, is that the idea is simply wrong.

The Chesapeake Bay oyster population was thought to be affected by nitrogen waste entering the water, not CO2. What are the CO2 levels in the ocean, how much data can you find?

One article complains of insufficient data:

"...few studies at relevant pCO2 levels impede our ability to predict future impacts on foodweb dynamics and other ecosystem processes"


Nevertheless that same paper concludes:

We conclude that ocean acidification and the synergistic impacts of other anthropogenic stressors provide great potential for widespread changes to marine ecosystems.

And of course the whole previous part of the abstract lays out the "known knowns"

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) is altering the seawater chemistry of the world’s oceans with consequences for marine biota.

Elevated partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) is causing the calcium carbonate saturation horizon to shoal in many regions, particularly in high latitudes and regions that intersect with pronounced hypoxic zones.

The ability of marine animals, most importantly pteropod molluscs, foraminifera, and some benthic invertebrates, to produce calcareous skeletal structures is directly affected by seawater CO2 chemistry.

CO2 influences the physiology of marine organisms as well through acid-base imbalance and reduced oxygen transport capacity.

That increasing CO2 is increasing ocean acidification is not at question.

That the ability of marine mammals to produce shells is impaired due to increased ocean acidity is not at question.

The scientists are still working out the details to answer how much an increase of X pCO2 will decrease shell density by Y.

pH = "power of hydrogen"

It IS the measure of acidity/alkalinity.
A separate question that you correctly identify is that the oceans are heavily buffered, so that adding CO2 will not dramatically lower the pH. But being a living system, the seas are highly vulnerable to even small pH changes, so that it's not ours to say how much is too much acidification. The evidence from the corals suggests that we've already gone too far.

One other thing: the ocean CO2 equilibrium is not static, like MgCO3 in water in a beaker. It's a dynamic equilibrium that is stationary but always in motion, a la Gaia or the Red Queen.

If they are simply allowing the CO2 to dissolve into the water, then simply letting this water join the oceans surface waters, it is a fraud. The CO2 in the oceans upper layers is in equilibrium with the atmosphere, so releasing CO2 into the surface waters, or into the atmosphere will have the same effect. The ocean contains many times the amount of CO2 as the atmosphere. If the oceans were well mixed on the century timescale we wouldn't be worrying about global warming. But they are not, and most of the CO2 released ends up in surface waters or the atmosphere, where it causes acidification, or climate change. So, assuming these guys, aren't just trying to lie with statistics, they must be precipiating out the carbonates, and either using them as product, or disposing of them (they aren't much different than limestone or dolomite, so they wouldn't be an environmental hazard).

I doubt, there is no additional cost for doing this. But, we do have various pressures for certified green buildings, and low CO2 footprint building materials are a growth industry. In an similar manner, I was reading about a company planning to make "green" wallboard. Wallboard is essentially gypsum (Calcium Sulfate). It is claimed about one percent of CO2 emissions is energy for use in making wallboard. This company (name not remembered) was going to use concentrated solar thermal for the process heat, cutting CO2 emissions per ton by about two thirds. They claim that since the process heat doesn't need to be very high temperature, the cost per Joule will be about a tenth of the cost of solar thermal generated electricity. So, I guess the bottom line, is that at least for some modest proportion of emissions, some reasonable solutions can be found.

Clearly here I'm not being clear enough.

This has nothing to do with putting CO2 into the ocean.

It's about getting CO2 OUT OF the waste of smokestacks.

Power plants cool with seawater. Power plants emit CO2. This geologist guy can extract the CO2 from the flue gas by precipitating it out as CaCO3 and MgCO3 by passing it thru seawater.

Supposedly taking care not to mess up the sea water except making it softer.

You end up with CO2 sequestered in cement, not in the atmosphere.

It's not a theory - he's doing it now. Ramping up on a huge scale with big money and top people.

I'm going to study it more, just heard him yesterday. Check the link above or google it. Calera

Again, thanks for the input TOD'ers.

Not having read any of the articles (just this discussion so far), I would guess that they are supplying extra alkalinity to replace the Ca and Mg ions removed from solution as carbonates. This could be in the form of, e.g., sodium (Na) from fly ash or some other source. This is how a water softener works, with Na supplied by zeolites replacing Ca in tapwater before it enters the home. Unless they are supplying alkalinity, everyone's objections above regarding acidity are valid. And if they are supplying extra Na (or some other ion) to replace Ca and keep acidity constant, that certainly isn't doing the corals any good.

Nelsone -

Only partially true.

pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration, which in turn is related to the degree of dissociation of the various chemical species in the water. On the other hand, alkalinity is the capacity to neutralize acid, and acidity is the capacity to neutralize alkalinity. Both are operationally defined, e.g., alkalinity is the number you get by performing a prescribed alkalinity test procedure.

Two different aqueous solutions can have identical pH but vastly different acidity/alkalinity. For example a small amount of a strong acid such as HCl in distilled water will drop the pH to a very low level, whereas a large amount of a weak acid such as acetic acid will lower the pH nowhere nearly as far. Yet the solution with the large amount of acetic acid will have a greater acidity by virtue of the fact that it is capable of neutralizing a larger amount of alkalinity.

It's a little bit analogous to voltage and current.


Magnesium 1272 ppm
Calcium 400 ppm

All I can say, that would be the mother of all spray towers.

I second the motion. The mother of all spray towers.

Without doing the math (laziness mostly), I'd say you would need approximately a Niagara Falls of seawater to soak up the CO2 from one power station. And that's just to absorb it -- you're never gonna evaporate all that water to get the CaCO3.

Re: Oil prices baffle traders up top:

Markets have their own internal logic completely separate from fundamentals. It is a logic that is often correct much to the amazement of those who think that market analysis can be based on observable data.

The daily chart for May oil has made a higher low. It may be part of a head and shoulders bottom which is usually a quite reliable bottoming formation. The weekly chart may have made a double bottom with stochastics turning positive.

Add in the normal seasonal increase in price that comes with spring and summer driving and decreased long term liquid fuel supply and one wonders why any traders are baffled. Only the clueless I suspect.


I'm not at all baffled. Prices were driven too low, now they are correcting. The people that are baffled think $35 per barrel is the magic "normal" price for oil and are asking "why is it going up?". They couldn't be bothered to ask "how could prices sink so absurdly low?".

Last summer wasn't a bubble (or at least not much of one). What we have now is an "anti-bubble". I don't expect it to last.

Caught this last night on Rachel Maddow.

Rachel Maddow Show: Peter Defazio on the Need for Infrastructure Spending

Congressman Peter DeFazio (evetually) discusses his disapppointment in the hacking of infrastructure expenditurtes (now 18% - 7% on traditional transportation infrastructure) for more tax cuts (33%). Now, granted, it is useful to debate what is worthy "infrastructure", but as DeFazio points out (be patient) that includes reductions in rail, rapid transit, etc. Of course it's udeful to debate the very need for a stimulus package ;-)

Politics and our money...


DeFazio has halted distruction of our local rail and is talking with local gov here about encouraging, through funding, amtracs feasiblity study for renewed service.

Best HOPES for fast dancing.

Another one bites the dust...

FDIC closes 1st Centennial Bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- California banking officials closed the 1st Centennial Bank Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said in announcing the third bank failure this year.

A friend has a friend on the board of a small, extremely well run small bank. He was told that the bank is swimming in money because so many people have cashed out their 401k's and chose this bank as a safe haven.

They have very, very high standards when lending. Sorry, I can't give you the bank's name.


A similar FoF situation here in Central Texas: I was chatting with the guy's wife, at a Christmas party. She said her husband's bank isn't in any trouble, but of course "all the banks are tied in with the Fed". Her advice, "Stash it in your mattress"...

A lot of regional banks were reportedly doing quite well, at least as of last fall. They did not get involved in the mortgage derivative thing, and now, people are turning to them as a safe haven.

However, I don't think they will be immune. Regional banks avoided risky derivatives, but they are heavily involved in commercial mortgages. Commercial mortgages are likely to be the next thing to hit the fan. Not because of sloppy lending standards, but because the bottom has dropped out of the economy.

That's what happened to Fifth Third Bank. It was thought to be in good shape a few months ago. I remember a couple of talking heads recommending it as an alternative to the big banks that were teetering on the brink. Now they're struggling - because of seemingly safe commercial loans in Michigan and Florida that went bad. Yes, Michigan and Florida have been especially hard-hit - but the rest of the country is likely to follow.

My daughter and I call it the "not-good-at-fractions bank", heh. I think she still has a small checking account there.

But, good point. It's not that the local / regional banks are tied to the bad ones through the Fed, it's that the whole entire economy is like Wile E Coyote going off the edge of the mesa. Pedaling away at the now-missing rocket bike.

well before i lost my job i was considering the advice of someone here to buy a safe that can be bolted down into the house structure that's fireproof and use it to store a certain % of my savings. that way i have cash on hand instead of rushing to the bank like everyone else if something major happened.

You neglected to post your street address....

Seriously, a few years ago it was strictly tinfoil-hat territory to be one of those camo-clad guys stockpiling beans and burying your life savings in the back yard. Today, there's no reason to have faith in the continued functioning of any of our institutions.

New definition of an optimist: a banker who irons five shirts on Sunday.

Everything in Debt World is linked together making for a nice train wreck. So if a bank or person has had nothing to do with debt, he must suffer with those that have.

We will likely all suffer the tidal wave of inflation headed our way:

the rig count for wells drilling for ng was down to 1185, the last time it was that low, dry ng production was about 52 bcfd and declining. 52 bcfd is about equal to historical summertime demand. net imports are usually under 10 bcfd and january demand is typically > 80 bcfd ( >87 bcfd in january '08).


there seems to be a credibility gap in ng prices, currently. many point to industrial demand, industrial demand is historically about 16 bcfd.

Keep an eye on that rig count elwood. You know I consult for one of the big unconventional NG players. Just received the new rig schedule yesterday. Next month we'll be dropping 15 of the 18 rigs we have drilling in the UNG plays. That decision was made about two months ago but it takes time to pull the plug on ops. I haven't seen detailed numbers from other operators but I doubt we're alone. I didn't think we would see upward pressure on NG prices as early as next winter but now I'm not so sure.

The natural gas production of the twenty largest producers in the U.S. dropped from 24.1 to 23.9 BCFPD from Q2-08 to Q3-08.


If NG production had already leveled off and began to drop even as the rig count was rising, what do you rekin it will do now that the bottom is falling out of the rig count?

Rockman, not sure if you can answer this but here goes. With your Company's dropping rig count how long will it take for your production to start declining, if at all?

That's an easy answer raven: immediately. Unlike a water drive reservoir in which the pressure (and prod rate)remains relatively constant for a period of time (imagine a bucket of water with a small hole in the bottom), the UNG reservoirs are almost pure pressure depletion. Pressure depletion drive is easy to envision. Take a balloon full of air and start releasing it. The velocity (production rate) drops constantly as the air is released. The decline rates of UNG reservoirs is not linear. They follow an exponential decline curve: very fast at first and then slowing over time. Most of the UNG reservoirs show a 50% to 70% decline rate. An example (50% decline rate): initial rate 10 million cf of NG/day. Then 12 months later it's doing 5 million cf NG/day. Then 12 months later 2.5 million cf of NG/day. Etc. The wells are profitable because they pay back the initial investment quickly. But within 4 or 5 years they are worth very little. A big initial gain in nation NG rates but no longevity at all.

What kept the US UNG rate rising was an ever increasing rig count. But with every new well drilled another one had to be drilled within a year or so to make up for the decline of the first. And then another well drilled to replace that well. Essentially a tread mill that increased in speed every time you ran faster. Even without the cut back this race could never be won. Drill more wells and you needed to drill even more to make up for the decline of the initial wells if you wanted to at least keep the rate constant let alone increase it. Not all US NG comes from UNG reservoirs so it's difficult to quantify the impact. But it is generally accepted that UNG reservoir development was responsible for the great majority of increases over the last several years.

They follow an exponential decline curve: very fast at first and then slowing over time. Most of the UNG reservoirs show a 50% to 70% decline rate. An example (50% decline rate): initial rate 10 million cf of NG/day. Then 12 months later it's doing 5 million cf NG/day.

Not to be too picky, but I think what are you describing is best described as a hyperbolic decline, and in order to see a 50% decline in production, for example from 12/08 to 12/09, the decline rate would be -69%/year.

BTW, I couldn't find any engineering term for what net export declines tend to show--starting out slowly and then accelerating with time.

You're exactly right WT -- hyperbolic is the correct term. Just a little foggy headed...pulled a double tour and still running. Maybe dividing your net export declines into 1 would yield a data set that would plot hyperbolicly. But then again I'm even fizzier now then before.

I read an XTO presentation that showed some fairly shallow declines after the steep initial declines. A well might produce some NG for decades. There was a Haynesville well producing more than 20 mmcf on the first day, and a Marcellus well producing 1-2 mmcf on the first day. There are different types of treadmills. If you start drilling into richer shale you need fewer wells than before. If you switch from rich ground to poor ground you need a rapid rise in drill rig count to keep the gas flowing. I read some drillers started cutting back when the price of NG went below $10 mcf. The same old cliche, you will find more oil in the world if it is priced at $147 a barrel. At $36 dollars a barrel there is not as much oil left in the world.

All true rain. There are UNG wells in Kentucky that have produced over 40 years. They'll often reach a rate that doesn't decline. But that rate is commonly down to 10 or 20 mcf/day....about $30 to $60 per day profit. As enemy says there are different flavors of declines. The classic exponential decline when ploted on a log-normal scale will yield an almost perfect straight line. Very handy since you can extend that line to a depleted point and calculate a fairly accurate ultimately recovery.

I reviewed another pdf last night and found that the flow of natural gas is related to the number of fracs in a well, 2-8 fracs being used at one Canadian location. Am not current with log or trig functions. The graph I saw shows the first part of production concave curvilinear dipping steeply to the right and the later production curve closer to a straight line dipping shallow to the right.


That curve shape you describe is the classic hyperbolic decline WT discusses. The plot you saw was on a normal/normal plot (linear scales on each axis). On a log/normal plot one axis is linear with the other being logarithmic (typically the horizontal time axis). One of nature’s little gifts to us: on the log/normal plot that quickly changing curve you saw will plot as a nearly straight line. And if you extend that line all the way to the right it gives a pretty good estimate of ultimate recovery. Pressure depletion NG reservoirs are thus the easiest to predict future production rates. That’s why cutting the rig count will reduce US NG rates quickly: the newest wells are in that steep decline phase while older wells, though at much lower decline rates, are producing at significantly lower rates then when they came on.

Yes…multiple frac stages in a single horizontal well bore have been THE improving technology that has fired up the UNG plays. We’re doing up to 12 separate frac stages per hole now. Some years ago the success of such wells depended upon how many naturally occurring fractures a well encountered. A difficult geologic prediction. But now we can produce artificial fracs which accomplish about the same affect. But not a cheap process. Drilling the well might cost $4 million but the frac might run as high as $1.5 million. But without this process an unfrac’d well might generate only a few hundred $’s of NG a day. And that isn't worth the investment. It's the rate of retrun that controls drilling decisions. That high initial rate allows a quick payout and high ROR but generates very little long term (5+ years) value.

Actually he was describing exponential. It depends on how you define the 50% depletion rate. If it is an instantaneous rates, i.e. in 1/ 1 millionths of a year you are down by .5/1,000,000ths. Integrating that you get the 69% per year. But if you define it as the loss rate per year, than it is only a reduction on .5 after a year. This is the difference between comppound, and simple interest -or more precisely it shows the effect of how often you compund. In any case, if it was a simple reservoir, and flow were proportional to pressure, you would expect an exponential decline. But a more complictaed reservoir, would deplete slower in the out years.

But a more complictaed reservoir, would deplete slower in the out years.

That was my point, and Rockman agreed, the UNG wells tend to demonstrate hyperbolic declines.

Regarding the decline rate, if the production is steadily dropping throughout a 12 month period (ending up down 50% in 12 months), the -69%/year calculation would give you the most accurate prediction of production for any given month (production would be down about 30% in six months). Of course, in reality production tends to vary from month to month.

BTW, here is an article on combining hyperbolic with exponential modeling:


The conventional wisdom on NG is that the drop in NG use by industrial customers will offset any drop in supply. I have tracked the change in NG storage since the second week of November, the traditional heating season and also the heating degree days (HDD), which is also reported by the EIA, both for the last five winters. This winter so far is 17% colder than last as measured by HDD (2278 vs 1939). This winter, so far, is also the coldest for the last five years. NG inventories have dropped by 7% more this year than last. On a very simplistic basis there is some sign of demand destruction in that inventories have declined less than temperatures. I understand this is very simplistic, many industrial users would not change their demand based on the weather.

If we adjust the demand to look at heating use, and assume 50% of use is for winter heating, then the colder winter should increase NG withdrawals by 50% of the 17% heating increase which would suggest NG withdrawals should be up by 8.5%. Withdrawals are up by 7% so there is little signs of significant demand destruction.

Some NG from the GOM is still shut in, once that is back online then this supply/demand scenario will change.

The key thing last winter that drove prices up, other than crude prices, was that the cold weather continued into early March with weekly withdrawals over 100 bcf. If this winter continues as long as last winter did then prices will likely strengthen.

hi ravens,

i havent figured out yet how the eia arrives at there hdd.
and i know it is weighted based upon population. but is all population created equal ? i dont think so. red states(rural) probably dont use as much ng per capita as blue states(urban) because i assume they tend to burn propane, heating oil, moonshine or whatever. and the ne population center probably uses more heating oil. there have been stories on bloomberg within the past few weeks that suggest that eia hdds data isnt modelling demand that well either:


if will keep digging. i would appreaciate any insights you may have.

Some NG from the GOM is still shut in, once that is back online then this supply/demand scenario will change.

1,108 MMCF/D still shut in as of January 14. Also 143,532 barrels of oil per day still shut in.

Hurricane Gustav/Hurricane Ike Activity Statistics Update January 14, 2009

Ron Patterson

Yesterday I posted some energy saving tips; two of which were supplemental window "glazing." Today turned out to be a perfect day to make comparisons. There is fog with light, misty rain and no wind. Here are the results:

Outdoor glass temperature - 33.9 degrees F*

Interior temperature of sliding glass door (SLGL) with thermopane+bubble wrap+"Hippie Glass" - 50.5 degrees

Interior SLGL with thermopane+"Hippie Glass" - 50.0 degrees

Interior wall near SLGL - 56.8 degrees

Uncovered thermopane in my unheated office - 40 degrees

So, based on just one test, the bubble wrap is, maybe, adding 0.5 degrees. Considering that the bubble wrap cost about 25cents/SF, I'm not sure it is worth it but I'll keep checking.

*My mercury outdoor thermometer says the air temperature is 38 degrees.


Outdoor glass temperature - 33.9 degrees F*

So you have some sort of thermomemter that measures surface temps? I breifly looked into IR thermometers, but they cost several hundred bucks.
In any case, if it really was foggy, you wouln't expect any surface to be able to get cooler than the ambient temp. Although I've seen mercury/alchohol(if it is red) thermometers that can overread due to a greenhouse effect, (light -even on a cloudy day shines through the glass, and is trapped by the glass. I once put a chemistry thermometer outside in a blizzard, and was horrified to see it reading 55F!

But, if you've got a good thermometer for measuring surface temps -and it doesn't cost megabucks, that would be some real useful equipment to know about.

Harbor Freight has 'em on sale. 29.95 96451/91778

I drove past Harbor Freight and picked my Extech tool up from Graingers, since I have a farmers acct, and it has a very nice IR Thermometer as well as amp probe and many other vast functions.

I can measure AD/DC amps and so forth. As good for detecting energy usage as well as me measuring all kinds of temperatures.

If a tractor bearing is heating up, if the coolant is too hot, if each cyl is firing correctly,,,and on and on.

HF stuff will let you down...it always does.

What they sell for elcheapo dollars is elcheapo stuff.

I am suprised you suggested such trash.


HF stuff will let you down...it always does.

It has crap duty cycles. If one watches the heat, as soon as any of their electric tools get warm, set 'em aside and wait 2 hours for the cooldown. As my metal cutting or woodworking is 'hobby' and not 'production' their stuff is fine. On any foreign stuff - replacing the bearings is not a bad plan.

But then things like dovetail jigs - hard to screw that up. Any screw up with that is all me.

(and my IR was $100 at Granger marked down to $30 some 7 years ago. A good enuf tool. If I want a heat profile - I'll begger the neighbor for the $30,000 IR camera.)

Bubble wrap.

For some long time now I've played with bubble wrap as a window and other insulator.
In my trailer of old it made the place so much warmer and comfy. (cover the aluminum frames, too)
While thermostatically it may be inferior to more hi-tech solutions, it sure is cheap when you re-use it for free.
Added value or something...?
Currently I'm insulating my motorhome windows with double-layer free bubble wrap. That equals 7 layers of insulation in toto.
Give that a try with your thermometer and let me know if it makes much difference. I think it will.
The only cost was for the spray adhesive to bond them.
Lets light thru', and very easily removable.
The diffused light also gives a sense of privacy.
It's kind of a shame to not use this disposable to enhance energy reduction.
Nice post TODD, and thanks. BTW, what is Hippie Glass? I might be offended by that....

"The Worst is Yet to Be"
Hydrogen economy? What hydrogen economy? Here it is again, thrown in at the end of a list of energy sources as if we could get energy from hydrogen. It's enough to make me scream: "It's nothing but a chemical BATTERY, not a source of power!" Journalists seem to either not know or not care.

I think Bernanke will just print more hydrogen :->

Just think about the inflation rate !!!

Could spark new meaning for financial big bang.

A quote for the quote database

http://cryptogon.com/?p=6429 sourced at http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/henry-kissinger-the-wo...

The ultimate challenge is to shape the common concern of most countries and all major ones regarding the economic crisis, together with a common fear of jihadist terrorism, into a strategy reinforced by the realisation that the new issues like proliferation, energy and climate change permit no national or regional solution. - Heinz Alfred Kissinger AKA Henry Alfred Kissinger

James Lovelock on why farmers should bury charcoal from crop wastes created as a byproduct of biofuel production

I bet they won't do it

That's because the technology doesn't exist yet that scales down to farm level. Farmers can make black goo like pyrolysis oil at home but it won't work in tractors made after 1945.

"they" also won't do it because the model they've worked with is big farms, big tractors and as little human labor as possible. The labor to gather farm waste and process it is FAR greater than any payment society will give. Not to mention as we slide down the backside of collapse - energy will be diverted to farms for food production.

The Photon -> man useable labor path is best with PV VS grow some crop and extract energy from the plants.

If one wants to gather Carbon from a field to increase soil fertility - the low energy path seems to me to be livestock and deal with moving their fecal matter.

Since we seem to be talking about farming a bit here today, there's something that's bothering me.

Most farmers take out loans in the spring to cover the cost of their inputs. I imagine most of them use local banks at which they have long-standing relationships, rather than mega-banks feasting at the public trough. However, if credit is frozen up across the board, will farmers be getting loans this spring? No loans --> no food. They can't "save the banks" before spring, and the farmers can't wait more than a few weeks and still get their crops in/out.

Does anyone have any visibility into these issues? Am I worrying about nothing, here?

A farmer friend of mine just called in a $150,000 fertilizer loan yesterday to the local bank. It walked easily since in our local banks everyone knows everyone and their reps.

You don't got the rep,,you might not get a loan.

Of course usually backed up by hard assets. Which may not cover all the loans outstanding and if a farmer crashes badly? In just one season he can be in deep kaka. Some do this a few times and their stuff goes up on the auction block real fast.

This tends to weed out those who are just dreamers.

I once had 8 year to year ag loans on one bank. The farm was my collateral and my tractors and equipment as well. They are glad to make those loans.

And guess what? The rates are rather steep. No big city bank has a clue about farm loans and I doubt wants to touch them. I could be wrong there. The better your rep usually the lower the rates or used to be so.

Besides many of those loan officers also own land and farms and know very well what it is all about.

My loan officer(or was) becomes very well off by being on the inside track of who is selling what and what is 'distressed'. Round here bankers will shake your hand but keep a sharp knife handy.

Yet I could usually and still likely can. Go to a auto dealer and drive off with a vehicle in about 15 minutes. The last one I brought I picked a Jeep GC and called the bank..He said "Hand the sale mgr the phone"..which I did...and a temp license was attached , I signed NO paper and drove off ten minutes later.

Thats what knowing the local folks at the bank means here. Of course you got to do their paperwork but thats all ready to sign when you stop at the bank.

Its a pleasant way to do business and since a very good friend of mine is one of the directors and a multiple millionaire ,,that helps as well. Also having a lot of cash deposited at the bank means your 'golden'.

Did I answer your question? Local boys,local banks,everyone knows your name. Like 'Cheers'.

BUT this way can lead to economic death if your not prepared and know exactly what you are doing.

Airdale-rep = reputation

Editted to add. AFAIK the one local bank here is in very good shape.
The other one went tits up not too long ago when one of the higher ups allowed an employee who embezzled to 'walk'. Everyone, me included , was so incensed that they pulled all their loans and accounts out of that bank. Its died fast. Was brought out by out of towners and reopened...still not getting any business to speak of.

I went to school with some of the banks employees. Its just like that.

By the way,


Mission Started, (around) Jan 24, 2004, expected to explore for some 400 meters, and has now driven for more than 14km, and is heading from Victoria crater another 20km SE over to Endeavour Crater.

Good work for a Solar Electric Vehicle, Millions of miles from home in subzero conditions!! ("Roads? Where we're going, we don't NEED roads!" Dr. Emmett Brown, DeLorean Hacker)

Here's the Birthday Video at NASA..

Rover Home

Maps of Opportunity's travels..

i have a gas well pending to be drilled in the haynesville LA region, near Shreveport, the company wants to drill a seperate saltwater injection well next to it. part of me says no to the saltwater injection well being proposed.

Anyone know how destructive to the land and environment these saltwater injections can be?


I've worked in the oil patch over 30 years and can offer some insight. In general SWD wells are not a problem either on the surface or down hole. But that only applies to a properly run operation. The biggest potential problem could take years to show up. They do run very resistant steel in SWD wells but eventually they can rust through and the salt water can enter your fresh water aquifer. You might talk to an attorney familiar with such operations and have some clause put in allowing you the right to periodically test the SWD. It's often possible to tell from the surface if the casing is leaking. You might never do it but the possibility might make the operator be a little more diligent. And if it hasn't come up in the conversation see if you can get them to pay you for the right to drill the SWD well. But most leases allow operators to do so for free.

There's risk to driving your car to church on Sunday too. You can't avoid all risk. Just decide if the monetary gain is enough to offset your concerns. Such matters are much different now then in the bad ole days. State regulatory agencies do a much better job of monitoring SWD. Also, resultant lawsuits can be very expensive to operators so they generally do try to do the safest job possible if for no other reason then to protect their own hides.

Good luck and enjoy your mail box money.

thank you Rockman!

I was looking forward to getting your input, since i didn't have your email. Your information is always insightful.
the landman for the nat gas drilling company just called me up a few days ago wanting a verbal on digging a 4 acre pond and I said I needed time to think it over. Then I get a call the next day requesting a verbal on drilling a water injection hole next to the pad. and they want to cancel the pond. I told the guy i need some time to think on it. now i think i need a lawyer, to protect my best interests.

i don't know when nat gas will come back up, but i don't expect much money with nat gas down in the 4's. so i will drag my feet on this one.

Have you signed the lease yet geewiz? If not here's the big gamble for you: don't sign the lease and wait for NG to get higher. But what if the action bypasses you? Often operators keep activity centered in one area. Take a pass now and it might be a long time before another landman calls. OTOH, operators are cutting back on drilling but still taking and holding leases. They expect to see drilling activity to bounce bacl relatively soon. BTW...do you have a rental clause in your lease? Besides getting that front end cash bonus you can sometime negotiate a yearly rental fee (typically around ¼ to 1/3 of the bonus). If the operator delays drilling for several years you get that annual check to make the waiting easier. It also encourages the operator to drill sooner then later.

I would recommend that if you go to an attorney, it be someone who is experienced in oil and gas law, but I would recommend that you talk to a petroleum engineer, who is going to be a lot more practical in knowledge, since it sounds like the lease is already done. Most leases do not restrict drilling of a salt water disposal well, so be sure that the one being drilled is for salt water produced from your property / well(s) on your property. The regulations for protecting the fresh water tables are pretty strict, and fairly uniform, so sub-surface is not generally a problem. I would suggest that you insist, as best you can, that a plastic liner be used beneath any surface facilities (generally covered with chat, or very small screened material from a rock crusher), with an adequate berm to protect your surface. Watch for leaks, and ask any operator for a copy of paperwork filed with any regulators for any wells, facilities and pipelines on your property. You will probably be entitled to collect for damages to the surface, so you should be aware of any "improvements" they construct or otherwise place there. The best protection you have will be your own eyes watching the whole thing.

Good luck.

As many of you may know, I'm a strong advocate of ductless heat pumps, based on my highly positive, first-hand experience, and so I'm pleased to see that sixty-three west coast utilities have joined together to promote this remarkable, energy-saving technology (see link below). As true of Nova Scotia Power, these utilities have significant space heating loads and are severely capacity and transmission constrained, so their motivation in doing so is understandable.

See: http://www.columbian.com/article/20090122/LIVING/701229998

Best hopes for smart energy solutions.


We don't need the Manhattan Project, we need WWII (to steal a phrase). The reason WWII worked to end the Depression was that the government stopped trying to get people and business to spend. Instead it soaked up any available savings and spent the money itself. Might I suggest "Energy Crisis Bonds" with a reasonable guarantee of preserving value [i.e. they will preserve the value of the bonds as a fraction of national wealth in a declining economy]. Hopefully not too much of the money will be wasted on renewables with low EROI. Included in our WWII we need multiple Manhattan Projects with the best minds in the country (world) on various relevant projects. Perhaps with a bit of planning we can demobilize into a world where transport is less dangerous and less necessary, so that kids can play in the street and people can walk to the shops, as us old folk remember from when we were young.

WWII killed more than ten million people ... we do not need another Stalin, Hitler, or Kamikazee pilots. Building more a-bombs is not going to solve the credit crisis. You cannot fix the coming energy crisis with a bomb sight. The economy was on the road to recovery without the war and may have prospered more if the Germans had not started sinking shipping along on the Atlantic and killing their neighbors. Would have done better if Hawaii was not attacked. The auto, airplane, many other inventions were accomplished during times of peace. The peaceful use of the atom to generate power was of greater use than the Manhattan project. The problem is, when cheaper energy is needed, the Pentagon might want another big warship instead.

I wasn't advocating a fighting war. I doubt if anyone else thought I was. Just that it is a bad idea for the government to give out money, to banks or as tax cuts. It needs to spend the money itself (as is done in war). The trouble with giving out money is that it will just be saved and do no good. Then when recovery happens there is all this money waiting to be spent, and you can get a big surge in inflation as everybody tries at once to beat the price rises. Also I think that recovery is unlikely if we try to get back to BAU spending. The needed focus is on electrification of transport and on providing a big increase in cheap electricity. This is too long term for business investment in an uncertain climate.

WWII killed more than ten million people ...

Not even close. World War II casualties

World War II casualty statistics vary greatly. Estimates of total dead range from 50 million to over 70 million. The sources cited on this page document an estimated death toll in World War II of roughly 72 million, making it the deadliest so far. Civilians killed totaled around 47 million, including 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead: about 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 4 million prisoners of war. Axis dead: approximately 11 million; Allied dead: about 61 million.

Did you count the Jews killed in the holocaust?

I doubt you did as you might not thought of them as causalities but they were just the same..same as Brits bombed to death. Did you count them either?

How about the french killed during Normandy and other actions?

How about....well so on and so forth.

I think 10 million might be on the loooowwww side.

BTW my father and his 5 brothers were all fighting WWII at the same time. One was catured by the Germans and held 3 yrs. in Syria. Had to walk across the desert after it was over. He never really recovered. He died an alcoholic estranged from his wife and adopted German child.

We don't want to revisit this again.My dad and his brothers all survived but they never ,never spoke of their experiences. It was that bad.

Airdale-I could be wrong..who has an accurate count?

NOTE: I replied to the wrong poster. Excuse me. Not Darwinian.

Then again, the WWI toll generally doesn't include those who died from the 1918 flu. IMO that flu never would've gained traction - maybe never would've happened at all - if not for the doughboys sharing their camps with swine. So you could have reason to add perhaps as many as 50 million souls to the 40 million quoted by some as the direct total for WWI.

It's amazing how high oil and gas inventories remain after the cold snap! With the cold weather lingering this week, I believe natural gas supplies may fall below average levels and bring prices back up above $5 per MMBtu. But last week's crude oil production back above 5 Mbd is interesting even though the stripper wells rig count is falling: we'll see if crude climbs back to $50 on Saudi production cuts beginning Feb 1...
See a brief overview of last week's EIA inventory reports at:


Argentina oil production declined in 2008:


Price controls limited the amount of money invested in the oil sector.

LOL! I also like this Onion video:

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Britain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts

Families must brace themselves for a slump of far greater severity and longevity than the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s, they warned. They said the current crisis will be of a scale to rival the biggest peace-time crisis in modern history — the Great Depression.

The warning was delivered by economists and politicians after the Office for National Statistics revealed that the economy shrank by 1.5 per cent in the final three months of 2008 alone.

Pretty wild that a relatively small number of persons destroyed Iceland, now a relatively small number have destroyed the UK (with the USA next in line). The focus is on enemies overseas while the vital threats are right at home with the ability to wreak havoc that guys like Bin Laden could only fantasize about.

Pretty wild that a relatively small number of persons destroyed

With some 20% of people being sociopaths and the general 'value' of another person is how many monetary units they control, I am not surprised at all.

External enemies are easier to rally over. Internal ones end up having you question what you are doing and why.

Re: Lovelock

I just finished Revenge of Gaia. He seems to be opposed to wind power because it spoils his idyllic country views. It is pretty hard for me to take anything else he says seriously after that - if we get NIMBYism from someone like this, it's not a good sign.

I just don't get people's objection to wind turbines. I think they're fine looking.

I know what you mean Consumer. For decades I called it the "Brussels’ sprout" attitude. Are Brussels’ sprouts good or bad? They are neither...they're just Brussels’ sprout. The rest is just the story we use to describe our personal preferences. I live across the highway from the largest oil refinery in the US. I enjoy the look of it....especially at night. Looks like Christmas lights the year round. Are oil refineries/wind turbines ugly or nice? They are neither. They are just what they are. The rest is just the story we use to justify our feelings.

Lived in Point Richmond, CA, near the refinery. There was a coating of oily mist on my car every morning. It's not just personal preference. Sounds like you live in Martinez, lots of lights.

I hope that was some time ago Cid especially being in Cal. The rules are much tighter today. Such nasty effluent would be heavily fined in these parts (Baytown, Texas). We don't even have nasty smells coming from the plant. Of course, there can still be the stuff you can't see or smell that might not be to healthy. But I'm an old fart and thus don't have to worry much about my long term health.

C'mon, guys. You know there are health/safety issues with both. Me? I'm all for mini-generators.


Rooftop Wind Turbines Ready For Commercial Use


LoopWing corporate site

And lots of DIYers out there....


Hello TODers,

AGRICULTURE: Fertilizer forecast

..Fertilizers are necessary in many areas and farmers will eventually need to buy in. Palmquist of CHS said planning decisions that are usually wrapped up by mid-January may stretch into next month as farmers wait until the last minute.

“My concern is the availability of supply towards the tail end of spring season,” he said.

The result: Prices will probably go back up.

Wheat stocks have grown rapidly with bumper crops being harvested around the world 2008/2009:


United States corn and soybean stocks were down YOY (Dec. 1, 2008):


Future demand for U.S. grain is projected to be lower:


Ethanol producers continued to operate at a loss:


Who's got all the Lanthanum?

The Future of the Nickel Metal Hydride Battery and the Rare Earth Metals it Is Constructed from


When I realised a couple of years ago that the element lanthanum was the critical ingredient of Nickel Metal Hydride batteries, I started wondering who had got all the world's supplies.

This article tells me that it's the Chinese.

My rummagings on the internet also suggested that it's the kind of element that is associated with thorium deposits, so maybe a development of thorium nuclear reactors will also turn up new sources of lanthanum.

Anyone any ideas on this?


Wikipedia can be your friend - look up "rare earth elements" (also called lanthanides):
The Chinese indeed control most of the market, partly for geologic (giant Bayan Obo deposit) and partly for economic (labor cost) reasons. Owing to very similar chemical (but gradually changing) properties, most REE occur in solid solution (think alloyed) with each other in a variety of rare minerals, meaning that if you're mining one REE, you're mining most of the others too, and your mine is only economic if at least one of them is expensive and abundant enough to pay the considerable cost of mining and separation. Then you have to find a use for the rest.

As you note, thorium may be associated with some types of deposits (particularly those enriched in lanthanum), so that dealing with radioactivity has been a mining problem in the past (e.g., at Mountain Pass, California). The Mountain Pass REE deposit was, in fact, accidentally discovered by a prospector using a Geiger Counter. As you deduced, if a vigorous market develops for thorium, then additional by-product lanthanum (and associated REE) might reach the REE market (e.g., possibly from the thorium deposits at Lemhi Pass, Idaho/Montana).