DrumBeat: January 27, 2009

Oil prices tumble on jobs, housing consumer data

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oil prices tumbled sharply on Tuesday with more evidence of decline in the U.S. housing industry, more job cuts and plunging consumer confidence, all of which can lead to cuts in energy spending.

Light, sweet crude for March delivery lost $4.15 a barrel, or 9 percent, to settle at $41.58 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the second straight day of declines after oil prices rallied last week.

Canadian bishop slams oil sands development

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The rapid-fire development of Canada's oil sands region has garnered a new critic -- the Catholic bishop whose diocese extends over the world's second-largest oil reserves .

Luc Bouchard, bishop of the diocese of St. Paul, which covers nearly 156,000 square km (60,000 square miles) of northeastern Alberta and includes the massive oil sands developments near Fort McMurray, said this week that "the integrity of creation in the Athabasca oil sands is clearly being sacrificed for economic gain".

In a pastoral letter to the region's 55,000 Catholics, the bishop wrote that the exploitation of the huge resource is environmentally unsound, challenging the "moral legitimacy of oil sands production".

Russian Oil Production Appears to Have Peaked

Russia’s oil industry now resembles the unbuilt buildings of Russia’s futurists, from the 1920’s. Production, which was boosted to new heights in 2007, has now fallen 1.00% in calendar year 2008. But the chatter out of Russia is much darker, than a 1.00% fall would suggest. First, Russia does not have as much easy oil as is found in the Arab states. This makes Russia’s achievement in this decade, when it was able to match Saudi Arabia in daily production above 9 Mb/day, all the more impressive. But we know that a goodly portion of Russia’s ability to increase production from 2000-2008 comes directly from its previous collapse. In other words, Russia did not discover a lot of new oil this decade. It simply went back to mothballed wells, many of which were aging. But while mothballed wells giveth, they also taketh away. They tend to have a surge flow after reopening, only to reach peak quickly thereafter.

Nippon Oil now seen posting loss for year-Nikkei

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nippon Oil Corp is now expected to incur a pretax loss of more than 250 billion yen ($2.82 billion) for the year ending March 31, rather than the 5 billion yen profit it has forecast, because of the sharp drop in oil prices, the Nikkei business journal said.

The company, Japan's biggest oil refiner, has not reported a loss since its 1999 merger with Mitsubishi Oil Co.

Venezuela not ready to invite back U.S. ambassador

CARACAS (Reuters) - Oil exporter Venezuela will not yet call back a U.S. ambassador expelled by leftist President Hugo Chavez last year despite hopes of warmer relations with the new administration of President Barack Obama.

A staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy, Chavez has got off to a rocky start with Obama, who called the Venezuelan leader an obstacle to progress. Chavez responded by saying Obama carried the same "stench" as his predecessor, George W. Bush.

How California Could Affect Car Choices: A directive from the Obama Administration on fuel efficiency is creating alarm among automakers

"Our nation's automakers are struggling—drastically restructuring and shedding jobs just to stay afloat," Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, said on Jan. 26, shortly after the White House disclosed Obama's directive. "And now they are being forced to spend billions of dollars to comply with California's emissions standards instead of using that money to save American jobs."

Auto industry executives said on Monday that they didn't see the President's statement as the final word on letting California have its way. Several spoke on background only, citing the sensitivity of negotiations that are taking place between the car companies, Congress, and the White House over the new regulations, as well as the federal loans to General Motors (GM) and Chrysler. "I still think we will wind up with one national regulation that may be tougher than what we have now, but perhaps won't go as far as California wants," says one auto company lobbyist.

Valero could shutter refineries if no sale - CEO

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp could permanently shut those of its 15 North American refineries it no longer wants to own but may not be able to sell in the current economic downturn, Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Klesse said on Tuesday.

"If you don't want them and you can't sell them, I guess the answer would be yes," Klesse said to an analyst who asked if undesirable refineries might be permanently shut.

U.S. refiners face negative margins - Valero CEO

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. refiners face negative margins if they can't balance gasoline supply with drastically reduced demand due to the current economic downturn, Valero Energy Corp Chief Executive Bill Klesse said on Tuesday.

The view from the auto mall darkens

As automobile manufacturers in Detroit and Asia struggle to salvage their businesses, and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., work to bail out the industry, car dealers in the Tempe Autoplex are living on the front lines of the auto industry’s devastating change of fortunes.

Here, the natural optimism and entrepreneurship that is essential to the car business is running up hard against the cold reality of today’s economy, which has strangled their businesses and led to layoffs and even some dealership closures.

Hybrids for hire: more cars, more options

“When gas was up to $4–$5 a gallon, hybrids did quite well with consumers who were concerned about their wallets,” says Paula Rivera, Hertz spokesperson. In 2008, she adds, reservations for cars in the company’s Green Collection (which includes both hybrids and fuel-efficient non-hybrids) jumped 40 percent over the year before.

And now that gas prices have come back down? With 4,000 hybrids in the Hertz fleet, Rivera says availability has loosened up a bit: “They had been in high demand and hard to get. Now they’re just in high demand.”

Kuwait: Stability in oil market primary concern

Kuwait's acting oil minister says his country's primary concern as an OPEC member is market stability.

Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah says Kuwait will agree to further cut production if needed. He also told reporters Tuesday that Kuwait would agree to increase production if that would help stabilize prices.

Britain's energy industry is nosediving into a dark, uncertain future

Last week, the Guardian revealed that United Kingdom government officials are now negotiating to soften the impact of EU directives affecting the operation of fossil fuel-fired power stations and their emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). This is enormously embarrassing for the UK, but no surprise.

Indeed, it suggests that government, or at least the civil service is beginning to appreciate the full impact of the regulations for the future of the UK's electricity supply. Currently, the UK faces significant shortage in generation capacity by 2015 that is likely to lead to price rises for the consumer (a document leaked to the Guardian suggests price hikes of 20%) or power cuts at times of peak demand.

Baker Hughes Will Cut 1,500 Jobs, Including 200 in Houston

Baker Hughes said Monday it has begun laying off nearly 4 percent of its global work force, including some employees in Houston, making it the latest major oil field services company to announce cuts in response to building industry headwinds.

Under a program that started Monday, the Houston-based company will cut 1,500 of its 40,000 employees over the next couple of weeks, Gary Flaharty, Baker Hughes' director of investor relations said Monday evening.

Nigeria needs oil above $40 for offshore fields-NNPC

ABUJA (Reuters) - Global oil prices need to stay above $40 a barrel to keep deep offshore oil production and exploration economically viable in Nigeria, the head of the country's state-run oil firm said on Tuesday.

Oil's sharp drop in the last six months and the global credit crunch have raised concerns that many offshore projects may be delayed or cancelled in the world's eighth largest oil exporter.

Valero keeps low gasoline output on weak margins

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) said on Tuesday it was maintaining low gasoline production levels in its refining system because of poor demand and profit margins, especially for motor fuel.

"Looking at market conditions for the coming year, the sluggish economy is clearly a headwind against demand growth for refined products," Bill Klesse, Valero's chairman and chief executive, said in the company's earnings release.

"At Valero, we are managing our run rates according to market demand," Klesse said.

Fitch Affirms PEMEX's Ratings; Outlook to Stable

In the first nine months of 2008, PEMEX's crude oil production declined at an alarming rate of 9.7% to 2.822 million barrels of crude oil per day after declining by 5.5% in 2007. Declines in Cantarell were only partially offset by production increases primarily from the Ku-Maloob-Zaap fields. However, total hydrocarbon production has remained relatively constant since 2004 at about 4.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day, as natural gas production increases in the Burgos and Veracruz fields have offset oil production declines. Proven hydrocarbon reserves also continue to decline. In 2007 they fell by 5.1% to 14.7 billion BOE which represents an average life of 9 years. The company expects this negative trend to reverse in the future as reserve replacement reaches 100% by 2012. The proven reserve replacement rate has increased from 26% in 2005 to 50% in 2007 and is expected to be even higher in 2008. PEMEX was not able to translate high international oil prices into higher production in spite of increased investment which averaged $16.3 billion in the last three years and is expected to be about $20 billion in 2009. This highlights concerns regarding efficiency in capital expenditures allocation and the achievement of prospective long-term operating targets.

Abu Dhabi sees 20 pct cut in oil plan costs-agency

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has saved about 20 percent on costs of projects worth $3.5 billion awarded this week due to the global economic downturn, the state news agency WAM reported on Monday.

It quoted Abdul-Munim al-Kindi, general manager of ADNOC's onshore unit ADCO, as saying the cost of projects awarded to foreign companies for work on three fields "was 20 percent lower that the total cost possible six months ago."

Go-ahead for $3.5bn oil projects

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has awarded contracts worth US$3.5 billion (Dh12.85bn) for the expansion of three onshore fields.

The contracts to increase production at the Sahil, Asab and Shah (SAS) fields show that ADNOC is moving ahead with its long-term plans to lift capacity by 30 per cent, to 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd), despite a recent dip in global oil demand.

India's crude imports slashed by slowdown, maintenance

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's crude oil imports slumped in December to their lowest in more than four years despite Reliance Industries' new refinery coming on stream, as demand sank amid an economic slowdown and maintenance shutdowns.

India's crude imports plummetted an annual 40 percent during the month to 6.85 million tonnes or 1.62 million barrels per day (bpd), a level not seen since November 2004, as state refiners slashed purchases by three-fifths.

Demand drop eases pressure on SAfrica oil refining

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A projected slowdown in the growth of South Africa's petroleum demand will give the refinery sector time to build up its capacity to avert a repetition of past shortages, a top industry official said.

Forties Oil Falls Most in 7 Months as Shell Sells Storage Cargo

(Bloomberg) -- North Sea Forties crude oil fell the most in more seven months relative to Dated Brent after Royal Dutch Shell Plc. sold a cargo it had been storing on a tanker since December.

A cargo of Forties loading in 10 to 21 days cost 25 cents a barrel less than Brent today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, compared with a premium of 35 cents yesterday. That is the steepest decline in the differential since June. 17.

Rowan Cancels Jackup, Suspends Construction of Others

US drilling services company Rowan Companies Inc. announced today that the company is canceling the construction of one jackup and suspending the construction of two others. In an unscheduled report to investors, Rowan announced a plan to reduce the company's expenditures through newbuild plan revisions.

The Philippines: Consumer group seeks full disclosure of oil firms’ inventory, shipment value

THE Department of Energy should make public the inventory and value of shipments of oil firms to help protect consumer interest in the wake of the fluctuations in pump prices, a lobby group said.

Cyclone Dominic Brews Off West Australian Oil Region

A tropical cyclone with destructive wind gusts has formed on the remote west Australian coast on Monday, forcing BHP Billiton to shut its Griffin oil field.

BHP, Australia's largest oil and gas producer, said it has shut in its 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) Griffin field and moved the production and storage vessel out of the cyclone's expected path.

Alberta: Foreign workers wary of prospects

Andreas Junkier and Uwe Schulz-- both middle-aged carpenters--came to Calgary this year after being recruited at a job fair in their native Germany.

They put all of their belongings into storage and prepared to spend two years --the length of their visa--working in the then-sizzling construction sector.

But only two months into the job, they were told there was no more work for them and they could either go home or find someone else to hire them.

After weeks of job searching as far as Kelowna and watching what little savings they had socked away dwindle, the men had little choice but to rely on the charity of a church for food and shelter.

Pakistan: Severe cold grips Astore; snowfall continues

The change in weather has increased the need for fuel and firewood and the prices have shot up. Harsh weather has also created shortage of wheat, wheat flour and edibles in district Astore. So far, nearly five to nine feet snow has been recorded in upper parts of Astore, dropping mercury to -8 degrees centigrade.

The Met department said snowfall and rain is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. The water flow in the rivers and streams has decreased because of the freezing temperature. This led to decline in generation of electricity and there are complaints of power outages at many places.

Support grows for non-Russian gas pipeline

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Key banks and the EU presidency signaled financial and political backing Tuesday for a pipeline meant to reduce Europe's energy dependence on Russia and limit new gas shortages if Russian gas company Gazprom again decides to turn off the spigots.

Taps back on but Poland still faces gas shortage

Poland says it is receiving only three quarters of the amount of gas it should get under the terms of a deal struck with Russia. Polish gas operator PGNiG says Russia's Gazprom is sticking to its obligations but the contract with the intermediary company RosUkrEnergo is not being fulfilled.

Honda cuts production by 50,000 cars

(CNN) -- Honda, Japan's second biggest automaker by volume, has cut production by 50,000 vehicles in North America and Japan, as the car industry battles falling demand amid the economic crisis.

Demand has collapsed due to the recession around the world and shortage of credit, and carmakers are putting off major investments in a bid to cope.

Diesel cash guzzlers: It can take 28 years for them to be cost-effective

Diesel enthusiasts have long maintained that their form of motoring is good for their wallet and for the planet.

But new research reveals that it could take them decades to reap the financial benefits.

UK directs 27 mln pounds to biofuels research push

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government and 15 businesses including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and SABMiller directed 27 million pounds ($38.10 million) on Tuesday for research on new biofuels that do not use up food.

It is Britain's biggest ever public investment in bioenergy.

FAQ: Smart Grid

President Obama has called for the installation of 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines. That means 2009 could be the year that we finally start seeing real attention being paid to “Power Grid 2.0” — basically turning the electrical grid of the 60s and 70s into a modern network that uses microprocessors and software to work efficiently and to connect to renewable energy generation.

An energetic push: Research giant targets wind, biofuels, nuclear

GOLDEN, Colo. -- In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the wind funnels out of Eldorado Canyon at more than 100 mph across an open mesa.

In this desert scrub, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tests the mettle of wind turbine blades, gearboxes and power generators built by companies around the world to provide cheap, clean electricity.

Making them is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States, where as much as 20 percent of electricity could be produced by wind, the lab estimates.

Oil sands engine slowing

Economic activity is slowing dramatically around the world. Analysts are rerunning financial models more frequently and every iteration produces a weaker result. These conditions are especially true for energy analysts, given the dramatic weakness in crude oil and natural gas prices. As oil sands investments are said to be the economic engine of Alberta, if not of Canada, then related recent news is shocking to investors and governments.

Highlighting the rapidly changing outlook for energy investment generally and oil sands in particular is the contrast in January reports from two oil sands entities.

Ruble ‘Undoubtedly’ to Breach Target, Drops to Record Vs Euro

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s ruble weakened to a record low against the euro and slid against the dollar as investors speculated the currency will break the central bank’s widened trading band as the economy falters and oil prices decline.

The ruble, which Bank Rossii manages against a basket of dollars and euros to protect exporters, depreciated for a third day to as low as 43.9772 per euro, the weakest since the common currency was introduced in 1999. The ruble will “undoubtedly” breach the central bank’s new target of 41 to the basket and 36 per dollar in the next few months, according to Evgeny Nadorshin, senior economist at Moscow’s Trust Investment Bank.

Iran's Ahmadinejad submits $89bln budget

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday submitted to parliament an 89-billion-dollar government budget for the year to March 2010 in the face of low oil prices and high domestic inflation.

The budget detailing government spending plans is based on a global oil price of 37.5 dollars a barrel, sharply lower than the peak of nearly 147 dollars seen in the middle of last year.

EU chief says Ukraine won't reopen gas deal

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union said Tuesday that Ukraine's president has promised he will not reopen a 2009 energy deal with Moscow that restarted natural gas service to EU countries last week.

Europe charts new gas future

The Russian gas crisis has given new impetus to current discussions in Budapest about the Nabucco pipeline - an ambitious project to deliver Central Asian gas to the European Union without transiting Russia or Ukraine.

Chavez: OPEC could cut output — again

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says OPEC could further reduce oil production to boost low prices.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has reduced output by 4.2 million barrels per day since September through a series of production cuts as the 13-member cartel seeks to bolster prices.

Chavez said OPEC could cut production by as much as 4 million barrels per day if necessary.

Energy giants seek coal gas pay-off

SINGAPORE - ConocoPhillips, British Gas (BG), Shell and other major international energy companies are scrambling to gain a foothold in Asia's and Australia's nascent coal bed methane (CBM) business.

CBM is chemically similar to petroleum natural gas and is exploited by tapping methane trapped in the aqueous surface of coal seams. Industry players say the fuel could provide a huge new gas source for power generation, industrial boilers and residential use from the bountiful and relatively tapped coal reserves in Australia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Shell Sells Oil Cargo, Phibro Tanker Leaves for U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc sold a cargo of crude stored off the U.K. and a vessel hired by Citigroup Inc.’s Phibro LLC left its anchorage in Scotland for the U.S. as the incentive to keep oil in tankers disappears.

...Oil companies and traders have stored as much as 80 million barrels of crude on tankers as the so-called contango, a market where buyers pay more for supplies later in the year than now, allowed them to profit from storing crude. The incentive to store oil on vessels is shrinking as the spread between 1st- and 12th- month crude narrows to about $10 a barrel from $17 in early December.

Proposed Keystone pipeline developer seeks waiver

HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Developers of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian crude oil destined for Gulf Coast refineries are seeking an increase in the federal limit on pressure within the pipeline.

The developers say the higher limit would optimize the flow of oil.

Nigeria's Akpo oilfield to start in April - NNPC

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's Akpo oilfield operated by Total is due to begin producing in April, with output expected to rise to 175,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, the head of state oil firm NNPC said on Tuesday.

Nigerian Oil Reserves, Output Goals Stymied by Funding Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria risks missing targets to increase oil reserves and exports because of a $6 billion funding shortfall, the presidential adviser on petroleum said.

Gulf Shares Rally on Oman, Kuwait Rescue Plans; Oil Surges

(Bloomberg) -- Gulf shares gained, with Oman’s index posting its biggest four-day rally since at least 1992, as governments in the region prepare to step in to help financial markets and oil rallies.

Rosneft Borrows $1.35 Billion From Six Foreign Banks

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer, agreed to borrow $1.35 billion from Western banks to finance its operations, a banker involved in the deal said.

The Moscow-based company will pay annual interest of 1.8 percentage points over the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for the 15-month loan, said the banker who declined to be identified because the transaction is private. The debt is backed by the company’s export contracts and there is a “high possibility it will be paid back ahead of time,” the banker said.

Schumer, Higgins call for probe of gas prices

The new head of the Federal Trade Commission should make investigating Western New York’s sky-high gasoline prices a top priority, two federal lawmakers said Monday in Buffalo.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, both Democrats, appeared across the street from a Mobil gas station in Cheektowaga to call on the Obama administration to speed up its probe of high gas prices.

Obama orders more fuel-efficient cars by 2011

President Obama's initiative Monday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost fuel efficiency in new vehicles would cut costs for consumers and prod carmakers to more quickly roll out greener cars, some analysts say.

Financial crisis hits electric car company Think Global

Demand for its cars started to fall and the company couldn’t raise enough capital to fund its growth, reports the New York Times. Late last month Think was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

Think is now seeking a strategic partner and more funding. The company has already managed to secure $5.7 million in loans and is being partially supported by one of the firms supplying it with lithium-ion batteries.

After Katrina, New Orleans is going green

NEW ORLEANS – The city known more for French Quarter trash than recycling or renewable energy is going green. In rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina, homes are being fitted with solar panels, organic farming is catching on and the city's got a new fleet of hybrid buses.

On the flanks of those buses, a catch phrase — Cleaner, Smarter — could be the anthem for the movement by institutions and individuals to slowly turn the city's environmentally-unfriendly image around.

Obama faces tough choice on Cape Cod wind farm

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's enthusiasm for alternative energy is being buffeted by two political forces on opposite sides of plans to build the nation's first offshore wind farm off Cape Cod.

A leading foe of the $1 billion project is Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., an early and influential backer of Obama's presidential bid. A strong proponent is Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a close friend of Obama and a source for some of his best campaign speech lines.

Chicken parts as jet fuel? Pond scum? It's possible

Chickens can't fly very far. But chickens — or the fatty parts left after processing — could be powering jet flights across the country and around the world in the next few years.

Or maybe it'll be algae, essentially pond scum, fueling them. Or jatropha, a smelly and poisonous subtropical plant with nicknames such as "black vomit nut" or "bellyache bush." Or liquid fuel converted from coal or natural gas, using a technology pioneered by Adolph Hitler's Nazi war machine.

California scores vindication, environmental win

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California was handed a big environmental victory when President Barack Obama endorsed a key part of the state's greenhouse gas reduction plan.

He also gave a public boost to the Golden State, offering a clear sign that liberal-leaning California can expect a friendly relationship with his administration after eight years of clashes with former President George W. Bush.

Obama begins teardown of Bush climate policy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama began to shred Bush administration climate policies, signing measures to encourage production of fuel-efficient cars and vowing to lead the fight against global warming.

In another sign of change, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked a veteran of the Kyoto Protocol talks as her envoy for climate change, as world leaders target a historic global warming pact this year.

Democratic feud hurts Obama's climate agenda

By coincidence or design, most of the policy makers in Congress and in the administration charged with shaping legislation to address global warming come from California or the East Coast, regions that lead the United States in environmental regulation and the push for renewable energy sources.

That is a problem, says a group of Democratic lawmakers from the Midwest and the Plains states, which are heavily dependent on coal and manufacturing. The lawmakers have banded together to fight legislation they think might further damage their economies.

German coalition at loggerheads over global warming test

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany's coalition government on Monday was at loggerheads over plans to dump iron sulphate in the South Atlantic to see if it can absorb greenhouse gases and help stop global warming.

Today’s Recession Is Different From Those of the 1980s

As Leonhardt concedes, we have yet to see how badly the unemployment and housing sales rates go this time. We have yet to hit bottom. I’ll add some other ways our situation is different from 1982, and even from 1932. This takes us beyond “worse” or “better” arguments, to focus on the distinct nature of this recession.

... Peak oil. The United States was only a few years past its peak in oil production in 1982, and world production remained ahead of demand — India, China and the communist block had yet to enter the world economy as big energy guzzlers. That’s all changed now. World peak is happening or near and the nations of this petroleum-addicted world are far from making the necessary adjustments to make the transition to a future of much more expensive energy. This is another recipe not only for economic disruption but also for geopolitical conflict.

State of Cringe - James Howard Kunstler

I've been skeptical of the "stimulus" as sketched out so far, aimed at refurbishing the infrastructure of Happy Motoring. To me, this is the epitome of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable -- since car-dependency is absolutely the last thing we need to shore up and promote. I haven't heard any talk so far about promoting walkable communities, or any meaningful plan to get serious about fixing passenger rail and integral public transit. Has Mr. Obama's circle lost sight of the fact that we import more than two-thirds of the oil we use, even during the current price hiatus? Or have they forgotten how vulnerable this leaves us to the slightest geopolitical spasm in such stable oil-exporting nations as Nigeria, Mexico, Venezuela, Libya, Algeria, Columbia, Iran, and the Middle East states? And we're going to rescue ourselves by driving cars?

Spend a trillion a year to save planet: report

TACKLING climate change will be much cheaper than most governments expect, according to a major report by global consultancy McKinsey.

Nearly $1 trillion a year would need to be invested in clean power, energy efficiency and forestry around the world by 2030 - a huge sum but less than most governments have predicted and much less than the expected damage bill should climate change go unaddressed.

Report: Some climate damage already irreversible

WASHINGTON — Many damaging effects of climate change are already basically irreversible, a team of international researchers declared Monday, warning that even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted temperatures around the globe will remain high until at least the year 3000.

"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 years; that's not true," climate researcher Susan Solomon said in a teleconference.

Instead of sending a tax-rebate check (as an economic stimulus tool) the govt. should instead send the rebate in the form of coupons for: dinners, or towards the purchase of a new car, or for retail purchases, or anything else that needs stimulation. Coupons can't be used to pay off personal debt. Coupons expire after one year... or six months (depending how fast the economy needs resucita- uh, stimulation).

I say this with a straight face.

How about a coupon for a job? Or $1000 off of your next bankruptcy, this week only, so come on down. I could really use a coupon to pay for my daughter's med pump refill.

As I said yesterday, everyone has a list that won't be implemented. No one is listening.

In view of the bad news about climate change, and making the big assumption that it is not too late to salvage a bit of the future, your proposal would be good only if those coupons were directed to carbon reducing activities. Besides, retail purchases have a relatively low muliplier if, which is likely, they are directed to foreign made goods.

This coupon redeemable for subscription to a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm for the year 2009.

Now, would there be capacity to meet demand?

Angelic Organics, located in Caledonia, IL: 1,400 households

Aarstiderne, outside Copenhagen: 50,000 households

I am concerned that because of energy and climate and water constraints all hitting +/- at the same time, that large areas of the planet will find themselves with too many people.

Thinking of the US. I have thought it be wise to consider how to move people from places like Arizona to places where water is more available. Look for areas where small towns and medium sized cities have lost population and could be revived. Has anybody heard of mitigation plans along these lines?

I am concerned that because of too many people, energy and climate and water constraints will all be hitting +/- at the same time in large areas of the planet.

I am concerned that the UK will not be short of water, and therefore everyone will move here.

Don't worry, pondlife. Your little island is so deep into overshoot it's more likely that people will be moving away from it, not to it, in my view.

Coupons for birth control devices, then. ;^)

I would like my US Treasury-theiving mortgage banker to be allowed to fail so I can declare a jubilee on my [in-hindsight-too-large] house payments. Then I could spend my existing income supporting my neigbors' businesses instead.

Now there's an idea!

As of midnight tonight all mortgages are null and void.

Except that would really tick off people who don't have a mortgage, or have paid theirs off.

That's the problem with "helicopter money." The people who don't get it will be ticked off.

The gold seizure during the Depression was supposedly "helicopter money." They couldn't just give money to some people without a huge backlash from the others, so instead, they forcibly "bought" their gold for more than market rates and gave them cash that way.

I suppose they might do something similar this time, by buying homes via eminent domain, with the excuse that it's to build infrastructure.

I was thinking even more radical - like not just canceling out existing mortgages, but making mortgages themselves "non-existent."

What starts with private property will end when private property goes away.

Will some people be ticked? Sure. But I don't care, because the only way this is going to happen is planet wide catastrophe. And in such a case, having some ticked off people won't matter much.

I think that might happen one day. Things get bad enough, and the peasants rise up and "redistribute" private property. Not gonna happen any time soon, though.

I don't expect Obama to abolish private property, or to set up a New Deal by spring.

However, I would have been encouraged if he admitted he was wrong and stopped giving bailout money to banks. Denninger's right on this. The depositors should be protected. The stockholders, no. The voters are behind this all the way, which would mitigate the political risk.

I would agree - with the only question being how soon will "any time soon" resolve into today?

I didn't and don't expect Obama to do anything that would substantially move away from the global capitalist model. It's what got him where he is. Worse, he couldn't have gotten where he is without being a true believer in that model.

That isn't to say he won't tinker, but no real change.

I would say the same is probably true of the "voters" as well. More change is likely to be forced on us than most "voters" could even imagine.

Cancelling and making mortgages non-existent would relieve thousands of the stress associated with believing that being in debt for the rest of your life so you can live in a house is normal. That alone would surely cause the 'happiness index' to rise.

If doing so (canceling, jubilee, etc.) would help the situation, I'd be all for it... even if it meant some people appeared to 'get something for nothing.' Currently I 'get nothing for something' as I watch my IRA dwindle... as I worry about my tenant's job/ability to pay... as I worry about the lack of work and income of the young couple for whom I carry their mortgage.

Heck, most of us are 'getting nothing for something.' The biggest cries will come from the few who really are 'getting something for nothing.'

Sadly, family-planning services for lower-income Americans was the thing that Republicans singled out to object to.


@ Altaira:

Why yes, I can! North Dakota. There are more people in Albuquerque, NM than there are in all of NoDak.

Please look at this site (it is fun to look at all by itself, outside of this conversation):


I have been to most of these places, they are real.

Of course, we would lose some good ND farmland by moving a tom of folks from the American SW to there...I'd rather those folks stay in-place and learn to use much less water and use solar and wind and geothermal (all of which exist in plenty in NM) for energy. Nice straight, flat roads without snow...great for Apteras and other such electric cars.

Here is another site for prospective locations...be sure to bring lots of cold Wx clothes and a stoic attitude towards cold and wind and mind-numbing flat terrain!



Hm I go to WalMart and I buy some plastic cr*p made in China. WalMart makes some money that stay in the US, then the Chinese company and workers make some money, a good portion of which end up as reserves in the Chinese Central Bank. Then their central bank turns around and buys with that money US Treasuries which our govt has just issued to revive US economy. So, effectively buying in WalMart finances the US economy... One may argue that the foreign debt will have to be eventually payed back, but I'm fairly certain that by printing enough money our govt will make sure the real value of what will be payed back will be just a fraction of what it was when it was borrowed.

Sounds like a win-win-win situation for me (from US POV of course).

Oh, its win-win-win-win for sure.

As your government seeks to inflate its way out of its debt problem the value of your paycheck will also be decreasing relative to the costs of everything that you buy. You will experience the same loss in value that those dumb, uncomprehending, and completely stupid, Chinese fail to see.
There also exists the possibility that they are not as dumb as you think. They may begin to ask for a higher rate of interest to compensate for the currency risk. Then more of your taxes will be funneled offshore and less will be spent on goods and services for Americans, or your taxes will rise to compensate and everything at Walmart will also cost you more to reflect the drop in the value of the US dollar. Or perhaps all three!!! When it comes to winners you sure know how to pick them!!!

No need for that tone, the fact that I described the situation does not mean I like it, approve it, or that I don't see the dire consequences longer term.

I'm just trying to deduce what will happen. The government is more likely to hand over free checks or reduce taxes than engage into complex schemas for selective stimulation of domestic industries. Past experience with the latter is not good. I'm still waiting to see what will be the result of the current actions in the financial sector (not an optimist mind you).

I have decided to reduce my own taxes.

As of Jan 1, 2009, I will no longer pay any.

I can spend my money far better than the dip S$!ts in your government.

LOL, you do that and your new name will be citizen_dockedpaycheck

It's called "BARTER"...

Sit back, relax, let your government take it all from you.

Be my guest...

Apologies for the tone. The problem is that I think there may be a large number of folks who see your prior post as a "solution."

I am also trying to deduce what will happen. I am not sure about domestic US outcomes but on the international stage it is very clear that you have a large number of states engaged in deficit financing and all of them are seeking to borrow the required funds. If all nations are trying to prop up their domestic economies, and all are trying to borrow, then who will be doing the lending? To put this another way "what rate of interest will be required to attract lending?"

My hunch is that the global economy exhibits a property of complex systems in that it can rapidly flip between two alternate states. One of those states is the deflationary panic we appear to be in at present. The second is the sudden return of double digit inflation as the global demand for funds drives the cost of borrowing though the roof. Not sure how this will impact the oil exporters apart from the fact that I suspect the price per bbl will ride the inflationary spiral up above last years high.

The only data I can find to support this thesis is from the late 1970's when almost all the OECD countries pursued expansionary policies.


It's already been done in TaIwan:

Taipei shares higher on shopping vouchers, tax rebate; MediaTek rallies
'Food, retailing and other companies targeting the domestic market are getting a lift from expectations of strong demand thanks to the issue of shopping coupons,' said a broker with a local securities house.


So their market spiked briefly when $100 shopping vouchers were handed out, and since then it's been a resumption of the slide - the TSEC Weighted is lower now than it was at the end of Nov.

If you’ve been agonizing over the $700 billion TARP, just wait. You ain’t seen nothin' yet. This today from Fortune:

Bank bailout could cost $4 trillion
Banks don't have enough capital to fix their problems, which means the Obama administration may need a lot more money to clean up the financial mess.


Meanwhile, the banksters are busily toiling away, trying to perpetuate the neoclassical fairytale that underpins all this nonsense. From this morning’s NY Times:

When I graduated from business school in early 2000 and returned to Wall Street, there was a war for talent raging. Without those bonuses, firms simply couldn’t attract the best and brightest and certainly couldn’t get 100-hour work weeks out of them. And when profit is created through ingenuity and hard work, it deserves to be rewarded handsomely — that is the American way.


I wonder what talent Krasne is talking about? The talent to convince investors there was no risk in financial products that were loaded with risk? (Or as Nassim Taleb so eloquently put it in The Black Swan: “It was obvious that their profits were simply cash borrowed from destiny with some random payback time.”) Or is Krasne talking about the talent to schmooze and hoodwink regulators and politicians--insuring the golden era of serial bailouts and the protective bubble that these prima donnas operate within will never came to an end?

Krasne, along with the Summers and Greithner appointments, offer living proof that America’s neoclassical Disneyland is still alive and well.

Well, based on the mess we're in, I think the bonuses weren't worth it.
Can they do negative bonuses in lieu of TARP?

What? .. 100-hour work-weeks? We had sleep-deprived people running the banks? That explains a good chunk of why we have this mess.

The problem for the overall economy is that a high % of these "profits" he refers to only existed because fraudulent accounting practices have been condoned by the regulatory authorities.

When the banks issue credit default swaps they are engaged in a zero sum game. One side of the bet is betting the bet will pay off and the other side is betting that it will not. There will be one winner and one loser. But both banks were permitted to carry the CDS on their balance sheet as an asset. And since it was an "asset" both banks were able to lend against it and increase the total amount of leverage.

And it was this brilliance that required such great levels of talent they had to be paid millions in bonus money each year.

And it is the unwinding of this "brilliance" that is destroying the global economy.

Very clear explanation -- simple. Thanks much.

I used to work in CDS. It is very dangerous to thing of CDS as a zero sum game. It is more analagous to selling lottery tickets.

You collect $1 from each player but pay $1,000,000 to someone holding a winning ticket. This was cleverly handled by clever people to make vast sums of money.

What the clever people ignored was the possibility that multiple players could hold a winning ticket at the same time. "Why, that would take a Depression Scenario!" they all said - quite literally. And here we are.

The risk you over-leverage is always the risk you don't properly see. At the time it looks like you are picking up free money - and you are - until you aren't.

"Risk taking" always gets out of hand when the RISK is eliminated. If it wasn't CDS and the like it would be something else-the guys who have done the most damage have been rewarded handsomely with absolutely no pain or penalty imposed-naturally you get the behaviour that is rewarded. How much of his own money would Thain have spent to decorate his office if it came out of his pay-probably $10000 tops. If the stupid owner who supposedly has the board watching these grifters is unaware, why not 1.2 million. Bernie Madoff did it on a larger scale, but he isn`t the exception, he is the norm.

I didn't see too many people complaining when the financial sector was giving them 'value for money' debt on the way up to fund the purchase of large quantities of 'whatever'.

We've been like kids in a candy store and now its time to visit the dentist...


You sound like you're channelling the change agent-We are all in this together-there are no villians here, only victims. Society failed Bernie Madoff, Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson (Jeff Dahmer too)-not enough love as children- this guy is the most eloquent on the subject http://dailybail.com/home/2009/1/25/there-are-no-words-to-describe-the-f...

Are you implying there wasn't an entire industry out there--with an intellectual core composed of think thanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute and the economics departments of some of our leading universities like the University of Chicago, combined with a populist army of activists, pundits and entertainers like Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh--whose mission in life was to downplay and mislead rank and file Americans about the risk inherent in some of these financial products?

As early as 1983, Stuart Butler--the Waldo of the conservtive policy movement--had co-authored a strategy memo in which he called for expanding tax-free private accounts into "a small-scale private Social Security system," while mobilizing "banks, insurance companies, and other institutions that will gain from providing such plans to the public..."

The stategic rationale had been laid out as early as 1985 [by Butler, now with the Heritage Foundation], who was at the center of the intellectual development of conservative proposals...througout the 1980s and 1990s...

I had the chance to speak with Butler as I was writing this book, and he was quite candid about the long-term consrvative strategy:

In general, an element of all of these [conservative policy approaches] is to create a parallel system based on more legitimate principles. In the process, you change people's view of risk--you get people to think differently... You could just say, "Accept risk, walk it off." But what we say is "Let's essentially privatize the risk management for health or retirement." You give people other vehicles to manage the risk of living too long or being sick. You wean people gradually off of social-insurance risk managment into private risk management without making them fearful about it. You have got to do it in steps and have some government protection, at least at the beginning.

--Jacob S. Hacker, The Great Risk Shift

Interesting set of quotes.

When you look at western "economic growth" you find that much of that growth has to do with creating product markets for goods and services that we used to provide for ourselves. Entertainment was at one time something that we created together out on the front porch - now we buy entertainment from a range of commercial providers and have lost the capability to entertain ourselves.

"Government" derives from our acting in a collective manner to minimize personal risk or provide services beyond the means of each of us as individuals. What Hacker is illustrating is a shift of government functions into the private sector which results in: increased opportunity for private industry (eg. private pension accounts)--> greater political donations to legislators), and economic pressures (foreign competition; management incentives to build stock P/E ratios).

These are corporate benefits for corporate persons not benefits for actual persons. And it is illuminating that the support programs are intended to support corporate persons not provide support for the persons sold a finance scheme they may nothave understood or did not have the income to afford.

When you look at western "economic growth" you find that much of that growth has to do with creating product markets for goods and services that we used to provide for ourselves.

Yes, which is why I think that the best thing that all of us can do is to stop feeding the beast. Start doing as much for ourselves as we can, and disconnect from the commercial economy as much as we can. Grow our own food, fix our own meals, cut down on the amount of energy we need to buy, go into DIY big time, etc., etc. And yes, disconnect yourself from the whole rotten entertainment monster, too.

Small bank's meteoric rise eclipsed by collapse

● Bank CEO says he was forced out for favoring slow growth, not being powerhouse

● Former regulator: Silver State ignored repeated warnings from banking regulators

● Silver State one of 27 that failed in 2008; many bankers believe 2009 will be worse

I hope that most of the banks collapse, and suffer, as they have taken advantage of people for years. They have all become loan sharks charging 30% interest. Who needs banks anyway? We can just go back to the pre-bank days when cash was king.

Yeah, just keep the credit unions we have, and open additional ones for unserved populations, and you've got all individuals covered. Business customers need some sort of bank, but new ones could be created to serve them. Only a few are needed in any given area, no need for umpteen gazillion minibranches scattered around the landscape.

Talk aboout a "bad bank"? All of the present ones ARE bad banks. Just get rid of all of them, and start over.

Taleb steadfastly refrains from accusing people of fraud or malfeasance. This is about as strong as his critique gets:

People have an incentive to bet against it [the high impact-low probability event], or to game the system since they can be paid a bonus reflecting their yearly performance when in fact all they are doing is producing illusory profits that they will lose back one day.

--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

Was Taleb too kind in his treatment of his fellow finance industry collegues? As the Silver State case illustrates, the line between incompetence and fraud is a thin one.

I also thought the incident involving Doug French, the former Silver State employee who made one of the most questionable loans, was telling. As the CNN story points out: "He is now vice president at a Libertarian think tank in Auburn, Alabama."

They shouldn't have been handing out annual bonus checks at all. Either give them stock, or put the bonus into a trust account and let it accumulate. After ten years or so, then every year that the firm makes a profit, they get to withdraw some. Every year that the firm makes a loss, the firm gets to take some back.

I have started a local currency in my small town and it is being sold by the local bank. They are acting as just one of several retail outlets. The currency is a 100% reserve type and backed by specified amounts of grains and dry beans (think of gold you can eat).

Anyhow, because of this I've been in and out of the office of the bank president a few times lately. We tend to chat a bit and the topic leads to the places you'd expect...nature of money, the economy, how things are going locally, etc.

This bank is a small one and has no trust dept. They are now swimming in cash. He said they had their best year ever in 2008, only taking hits in corporate bonds. They are very conservative and actually grew faster than they wanted to. Now they are trying to figure out where to put all their money!

I wonder, with all the stories about the big banks failing, how many untold stories like this are there?

I think directing any financial bailout money to small, solvent banks rather than large, insolvent ones has two advantages:

1. The money will actually flow into the productive economy rather than being horded to cover bad bets

2. Less Moral Hazard - you are rewarding good behavior instead of bad

I know of at least one in my small city in Wisconsin (and I bank there).

Similar story here (Switzerland) on a bigger scale. UBS and Credit Suisse have been bleeding money from every corner, sending out pathetic sounding 'please let us win back your trust' letters to customers, etc etc... but meanwhile smaller, more conservative banks like Raffeisen and ZKB have been getting such a flood of new deposits that they don't know what to do with all the money. Public opinion here was not friendly toward the (microscopic compared to what's been done in the UK & US and elsewhere) bailout-loan the gov't gave to UBS some months back, and opinion has been getting colder towards it since then. They did compel some of the UBS bigshots to give back at least a sizeable chunk of bonuses paid in 2008. It is impressive that there is still this much accountability here, when one sees the excesses in
the UK and america.

I think the financial story is going to prove to be a distraction and sideshow compared to the real action of overshoot. Sooner or later the mechanisms of finance and money will no longer suffice to fool enough of the population to keep working and exchanging useful stuff for bits of paper or credit.. and THEN it will be really interesting!

Re your talent question, obviously the talent to destroy public corporations by fraudulent activity, condoned by the government.

Is Europe's welfare system a model for the 21st century?

DAVOS, Switzerland: Along with skiing and partying into the night, Europe-bashing has long been a favorite sport, whenever the world's business and political elite gather here for their once-a-year winter schmoozefest.

But this year many of the critics have fallen conspicuously silent. As top executives, government leaders and a wide range of experts gathered Tuesday for the weeklong World Economic Forum to talk about the challenges facing the battered global economy, the question many were asking was this: Could Europe's much-reviled social welfare system actually end up being the model for the 21st century world?

That's certainly a possibility, and the route the Dutch and British empires followed when they imploded, as well as the U.S. when the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties came to an end. As Kevin Phillips writes:

To begin with, high taxes on the assets, incomes, or consumption patterns of the rich--or all three--could be used in the twenty-first century to fund the late-twentieth-century promises of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare. Inheritance taxation, rather than being ended, could be rearranged to diminish wealth concentration in a new way: by taxing individuals on their cumulative inheritances over a certain amount rather than collecting from decedents' estates. Some left-leaning groups have urged federal rather than state chartering of corporations as well as an end to interpretations that entitle corporations to the protection of individual persons under the U.S. Constitution.

--Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy

There is another possible outcome, however, which Phillips raises:

As the twenty-first century gets underway, the imbalance of wealth and democracy in the United States is unsustainable, at least by traditional yardsticks. Market theology and unelected leadership have been displacing politics and elections. Either democracy must be renewed, with politics brought back to life, or wealth is likely to cement a new and less democratic regime--plutocracy by some other name.

Too late for that question. It already is. Ask ANYONE outside the US.

Will there be any form of social welfare by 2012? The rate at which this crisis is ripping apart the global economy is scary.

which means the Obama administration may need a lot more money to clean up the financial mess.

Or... You let them fail.


+4 Trillion

Wow, Krasne's raving idiocy really is the stupidest thing I've read this week. Now it is only Tuesday, but still, that's impressive.

I don't mean to be mean, but the people I know who went to work on Wall Street were mostly not the best and brightest of anything - my husband's classes at MIT and mine at Brandeis sent plenty of people off to Wall Street. With one exception that I can think of, the truly talented and bright people were interested in something outside their own wallets and the machinations of money - they went into teaching, to medical school, into the sciences, towards policy making or non-profits or even into starting businesses. The people who went to Wall Street (again, with one exception) were smart enough to look bright in the mainstream of society, but were generally conventional, unimaginative and not great critical thinkers. They did well in school in their fields, but they rarely challenged received wisdom and lacked, often, the imagination to look up into the world beyond acquisition. Later on, I had these same people as students, and got to see first hand that the quality of their work was solid, consistent and generally, dull. They mostly thought highly of themselves though, and my Wall Street students were disproportionately represented by those who began our meetings with "but I thought it was a good paper and I usually get "A"s" and "I didn't realize that I was supposed to cite the internet source that I mostly copied this from."

I am the first to admit that my sample size was not large enough to draw a statistically relevant conclusion, but again, with one exception, the people who went to Wall Street and gave us this mess were hardly the best and brightest of anything. No wonder they had so much trouble attracting talent - the pool was pretty damned tiny.



And my guess is that the plagiarism and cheating that you uncovered was only the tip of the iceburg. I know these types very well.

Wow, Krasne's raving idiocy really is the stupidest thing I've read this week.

Well, I'd say not the stupidest:

Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet...



The Citigroup jet story was also covered by CBS Evening News last night (begins at minute 8:15):


They've shelved that plan. I wonder what a little investigative journalism would have done for avoiding the mess we're in now, if the press had been as quick to jump on excesses during the good times?

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Chastised-Citigroup-grounds-rb-14165409.html
  • But then, how many people would have concurred during the 'good times', that there were excesses?

    Treat your press corp like diry, you'll get dirty politics in return. It's really the first thing that needs fixing, long before banks, politics or anything else. We need to break up the stranglehold a small group of individuals with rather wierd ideas have got on our public information systems. Its a process which started in the 1980's, and has absolutely devastated our democracies.

    The basic problem with news is that it is (or should be) a pure public good. Hard as they might try, there is no possible way to avoid free riders. Yet, it costs money to properly gather, sort and filter, and distribute news.

    These facts would tend to suggest that news is something that government should provide. Unfortunately, that is too much a case of the fox managing the hen house. We need our news gathering and reporting to be kept totally independent of the government.

    What is the solution? I am inclined to think that a better solution than "private enterprise" would be some sort of independent organization that was funded or operated on some sort of cooperative or public trust basis.

    The BBC is the best model that I can think of off hand. Everyone has to pay a license fee (hated, I know) to receive broadcasts. The license fee doesn't go to the government, but to the BBC. While I know that Brits hate the license fee, they must admit that the quality of what they get is generally a lot better than the crap that is shoved at us here in the US. The one thing I don't like about the BBC system is the fact that the board of governors is politically appointed. I would have them directly elected by the citizenry; then, they would be truly independent. I also think that earmarking a small piece of the VAT would be preferable to the license fee.

    I suppose that there could be a similar type of system set up for print journalism. There could be a national newspaper of record, and one for each state and for each city, town, or county. The voters of the respective districts covered would vote for a board of trustees that would govern the publication and editorial policies of their newspaper of record. Select a broad-based tax (I would prefer that we have a national VAT, more on that some other time), earmark a small piece of that to go to the newspapers of record, and everyone is entitled to a copy of the national paper and their state and local papers. There would be no advertising, and probablly no fluff, so we are talking about something much smaller and more inexpensive to publish and distribute.

    (When I speak of "newspaper of record", I don't have in mind something like the Congressional Record or Federal Register, although reporting a very brief daily summary from these probably would be a good thing.)

    The media does not produce news to sell to viewers. They produce viewers to sell to advertisers.

    Which is why, if we are ever to have any hope of cultivating the type of civic virtues necessary to have something other than "sheeple", we need something along the lines of what I am suggesting instead of the existing model.

    I have a lot of hope for the internet. By making cost of distribution minimal, anyone who cares to volunteer their time and expertise can supply the aggregation and filtering functions, on a not-for-profit basis. So far there seem to be quite a few such people.

    There's no centralized quality control, so buyer beware and use a range of inputs, but there is fast feedback to call out errors and untruths. Individuals and sites develop reputations for quality or its lack, just as trad media outlets have to.

    It's still a new medium, and we'll see what the future brings, but I'm hopeful.

    I think the people who come the best-dressed to interviews are often the ones labeled "the best and the brightest."

    I don't remember how many times in workplace environments I've heard "I like him, he dresses impecably."

    Once, when the air-conditioner broke down in an office building, I heard a manager tell one of his workers to "get that *#$&*!@ tie off! You're making me look bad!"

    Impression management

    "All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn't are not easy to specify."

    I've been sheltered. I've never known anyone who worked, or works on Wall Street until a few years ago when a feller bought the ranch next door. He built a five million dollar house up in the rocks, a six hundred thousand dollar barn, and then stocked the place with 80 purebred horses, each worth ten thousand on up. The place used to belong to old Clyde, who would spend his afternoons under his favorite Cottonwood Tree drinking Natural Lite beer and smoking Camel cigarettes. Clyde is gone now, but his beer cans can still be found blowing about the desert. Anyhow, this feller works on Wall Street and flies in here for the summertime in his jet airplane (the county bought a new airport light for him). Well, two years ago, another feller with a real ton of money bought another place, and built a really nice multimillion dollar house, and, get this, a forty million dollar barn complete with a flight simulation facility, a mini golf course, a beauty salon, and a chef's kitchen. There are stalls for two horses. I haven't met this feller yet, but suppose I will this coming summer.

    The guy with all of the horses hired me last summer to take some of his financial friends up on the mountain for a horse ride. It was an interesting day and I got along well with all of the rich guys. That afternoon we had supper on the mountain and I was able to enjoy one of the best steaks I have had in my life (at a table set with fine linen and silverware).

    What I'm saying is most of us in the hinterlands, fly over country as it's been called, have no idea what real wealth is. We don't have a clue. I didn't have a clue. In my wildest fantasy I could conjure up a $600,000.00 barn, but no way a $40,000,000.00 barn (although I read a few years ago about Stephen Spielberg's multistory barn with elevators).

    Here is the thing. The wealthy Wall Street guy next door is OK. In fact, he is very generous and has helped a number of folks in the county who needed some help. He's been very decent with me and would very much like to be a part of the community. He threw a big summer party last year for about the whole county with a Mariachi Band, and lobster for all flown fresh from Maine on his jet airplane. We're all still scratching our heads; most of us had never eaten a lobster before. Turns out they're just a really big Crawdad.

    The system is messed up when one individual gets to control that much resources. Even if he is "a really nice guy" and re-distributes the entire excess to completely worthy causes throughout your community, its not the same as things would be if you held "your share of" the money yourself legitimately, eg. by having a 1% reduction in mortgage interest at your bank. It artificially creates a class-based society, itself not a particularly bad thing UNTIL the priveledge becomes inheritable. Inherited priveledge is precisely what your founding fathers rebelled against when your nation was founded.

    UNTIL the priveledge becomes inheritable.

    Why the UNTIL?

    Do you think Fremont's children will have the same educational opportunities as the Wall Street rancher? Do you think doors will open for them the same way they will for children of Wall Street rancher? Ever wonder why it is that the people freely elect their representatives but the names of those representatives seem to have an awful familiar ring to them?

    Yep. This is the first week in 28 years there hasn't been a Bush or Clinton in the white house. And it still came pretty close to having another Clinton.

    Sounds to me like he is trying to integrate himself into the local community, in effect trading financial capital for social capital.

    And the funny thing is, it costs the peon locals exactly NOTHING to deny him that social capital. All the money in the world couldn't buy it, if they are determined to withhold it from him.

    But, maybe he really is a good guy.

    Right, that HAS to be why he's raked in the big bucks. After all, our capitalist system has been designed to assure that it is the good guys that are always richly rewarded.


    I know many wealthy people who are decent people. They worked hard, understood the value of building something over time, stuck with it, and in this system were rewarded for their diligence and risk taking.

    I also have met some wealthy people who I actively sought to avoid any further contact.

    Likewise, well put. I've met some that deserve what they have and some, that should be, er, removed from the gene pool.

    Guy talking on Bloomberg earlier, can't remember name but was big-wig, said Madoff should be hung. And he meant it. Apparently lost a bundle with this other guy(Nadel?) and was really p*****off.

    They always confuse entirely different categories
    liquidity cash money capital
    Banks are short of capital but TARP does not provide capital.
    Neither CBs nor govt. treasuries can provide capital.
    When they monetarize debt that is a banker's term for printing money
    but that is merely liquidity and liquidity is a derivative of fiat money .

    Many won't like it however it was the economist Marx who has discovered and therorized on capital, money, cash, and liquidity.

    Scroll down this page
    and read an Argentine banker's experience with CB and govt bailouts
    and keep in mind it was a local problem. Local to Argentine.

    The honeymoon that ended before it began

    Though the country is hurting, badly, the president is in the odd position of having to convince voters that the situation is about to get much, much worse. It’s a task F.D.R. didn’t have in 1933, when the unemployment rate was near 25 percent when he was sworn in.

    Obama’s plans are themselves part of the problem: they are not sufficiently radical to blow up the familiar, paralyzing partisan axis of argument about the role and size of government in our lives.

    It’s not so much a matter of the plan’s size — though some economists do think it’s not big enough — as it is the lack of imagination and shrewd strategy. In haste to spend, he and his aides in too many cases simply looked for programmatic spigots to turn on.

    Rather than carefully watering each plant with care, Obama seems to be turning a fire hose on an entire desert. Even America doesn’t have enough money for that.

    Does it sound like this?

    The severe and congenital cognitive limitations of individuals' ability to engage in L/E (Logical/Empirical) decision-making led several scholars to develop a decision-making theory that assumes little and asks for less from decision makers. The approach is referred to informally as "muddling through," or more technically as "disjointed incrementalism." Lindblom (1965, p. 144) summarizes the primary requirements of this approach as one in which the decision maker, rather than attempting a comprehensive survey and evaluation of all alternatives, focuses instead only on those policies that differ incrementally from existing practices. Only a relatively small number of policy alternatives are considered. For each policy alternative, only a restricted number of important consequences are evaluated. Thus, there is no one decision or right solution but a "never-ending series of attacks on the issues at hand through serial analyses and evaluation." The term "disjointed incrementalism" is used to emphasize the lack of major direction, policy, or course-setting capacity. The incrementalist fate, wrote Kenneth Boulding, is to stumble through history, putting one drunken foot in front of the other (Boulding 1964, p 931).

    --Amitai Etzioni, The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics

    Incrementalism makes perfectly good sense when things are going in the right direction, and some degree of feedback drives modest changes in course. It's the damping-factor component of system dynamics -- you don't want to wrench the steering wheel of a bus while going 70 mph -- not only would it be uncomfortable for passengers at best, there are no high-speed roads with sharp curves so it shouldn't be required for normal driving.

    On the other hand, if you find you missed your exit, it makes little sense to speed up and maintain the course, nor does it make sense to slide into a 180 boot-leg turn and risk overturning to head the wrong-way back down the highway. Incrementalism is the wrong algorithm to apply, yet our driver isn't sure if he's allowed to do anything else.

    As a country, we've yet to accept we've missed a few turns on our bus and have in fact have driven beyond our map. It is obvious to those of us who have come to this realization that we we need to slow down, or even stop and think for a bit, and to take specific actions to figure out where we are, what directions we can go, and what options we reasonable have. Do we take the unmarked dirt road up ahead and assume it somehow leads to Nirvana, or jump the median and go back to the previous major highway interchange and read the signs, hoping for direction to Salvation? Do we strike out across the fields on foot toward Pastoralanna? Do we try to add wings to our bus and see if we can make it fly to Utopia?

    Maybe we break into groups and try multiple options at once, and then regroup after a bit and share what we've learned? Do we give up, make camp, and plan cannibalistic lotteries for when the food runs out? Do we have secret meetings and ditch half the passengers at a rest stop before making a U-turn, hoping that with less weight and lower speeds we can return to Civilization?

    Maybe we find that the bus driver deserted some time ago, leaving the bus on cruise-control. Maybe nobody else cares and all we can do is jump at the earliest opportunity and try to survive on our own.

    Well put. Reminds me of the "vision" lecture referenced in a recent Drumbeat (worth your time to view the whole thing; I wish I could hear from someone who was in the audience at the conference). Professional planners and analysts have long struggled with "ends" while focussing on "means".

    Donella Meadows, Down to Earth

    We all get out and push, because it turns out we're now out of gas.

    With no idea how far away the next gas station is. (Hint: there ain't any.)

    And even if there were one, we're maxed out on our credit card and couldn't buy any more gas anyway.

    Welcome to the future.

    Hmm, so the President is open to criticism for expanding existing programs rather than proposing some entirely new ones to address the nation's economic challenges. Does anyone have a sense of how long it takes to initiate and implement a new government program? FDR did not have to conduct environmental assessments. FDR did not have to schedule a public comment period.

    They created the bank bailouts quickly enough.

    Right- nothing physical is changing, pixel money into a pixel pit and surprise, nothing positive appears to be happening as a result. CCC, WPA, these programs put workers to work and built things that lasted, but I suspect reintroducing them today would be to poke a hornet's nest. "What? A pedestrian bridge? In MY park? Never!"

    I don't think FDR's programs really worked, either. What cured the Depression was WWII, and I hope that's not the solution this time.

    I'd love to see the draft EIS for WWIII.

    Actually, I disagree - wholeheartedly. And btw, you can consider WWII as an FDR program (do you honestly think conservatives would have instituted rationing and other controls and oversights - ideas of courage and self-sacrifice?). Honestly, we've been at war under Bush, we could have done a number of policies that benefited all of America, economically, as well as security. That whole idea of self-sacrifice? No, just go shop.

    Either way, as Krugman has pointed out, FDR's plans were pretty modest. Essentially WWII was an extreme enlargement of TVA style programs. So FDR was going in the right direction, but it took external events to help increase the power of that direction by a couple orders of magnitude.

    ... So if it's war that works ...

    Imho, we either institute TVA style infrastructure programs (building rail, and renewable power), or we start the conquer machine up. I say we start somewhere easy - like the Carribean, once we've murdered everyone there we can move Americans in to do organic farming. Sunrise, sunset.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Caribbean_island_countries_by_popul... - adds up to about 40 million. So we kill all these people, and repopulate with 10 million Americans (and or Mexicans). And poof. We've put our huge military to use. Our Navy can strangle them all, while our Army and Marines hop from island to island. And 10 million Americans without homes and propects suddenly have a new life in a tropical paradise.

    While the former is probably better, the latter is certainly more in tune with the America we have, while the former is the America we'd like. People always credit the war over the New Deal (especially people that don't like the new deal). But how was the war different? (Besides it's increase in scale over the New Deal).

    If war is seriously the answer, it won't play out like in the past - large powers fighting each other at great cost, while the rest of the world sits in obscurity (definately WWI, and much of WWII). North America, the EU, Russia and China will take a different approach. Destroy small countries piecemeal. Carve up South America, Africa, and perhaps the Middle East.

    I hope this isn't the best way, but since FDR's policies were a failure, what other choice is there? Leanan?

    I don't think it was rationing that helped. Nor was it just building stuff. (If that was all it took, why not build a bunch of weapons and sink them to the bottom of the sea?)

    No, war juiced the economy because it boosted demand for our products. Before we got involved, we supplied both sides.

    Moreover, the war did not take place on US soil (Pearl Harbor aside). So our farmland, factories, and infrastructure were left intact, while much of Europe's was destroyed. That left us in a privileged economic position.

    You're right that it might not work out the same way again. It's different world now. One with a lot less resources in it.

    Well, rationing helped us be the ultimate export nation where Americans essentially bought nothing of significance besides War Bonds. The domestic auto and house market were essentially non-existent. All of our major production was exported. And confidence in American business/banking was rebuilt (all the War Bond money out from the mattress).

    So with everyone working hard, and not consuming anything - boom - we're an economic powerhouse (which lasted for the next couple of decades because other countries industry/infrastructure was so heavily damaged). In fact, that's how Germany and Japan are so successful today - they are export economies. With policies that promote exports and lower domestic consumption. China has something similiar (why is it that Chinese goods bought in China retail are more money than when bought in the US? - because they have some of the same consumption limiting policies). And people say high taxes are bad (adverse to most of the commentators here).

    I'm not seeing that China, Germany, and Japan are doing any better than we are. Quite the opposite, actually.

    Being an export nation means nothing, unless there is a market for your exports. During the Great Depression, we had tons of stuff to export. Too much consumption at home was not the problem.

    I was just saying what they are doing, and what we've done. And you are right, it requires more demand. But it also means your population consumes less and can probably absorb the shock better (you have a lot more financial options - you can go into debt and provide stimulus much easier).

    It's all relative - they are doing _better_ than we are. China has perhaps 0% GDP growth in the 4th quarter of 2008. I think ours was much worse (not trillions in government spending are part of GDP).

    Programs like the CCC and the WPA didn't SOLVE the depression, but they did help a lot of people to COPE with it.

    A distinction that the Rush Limbaughs of this country don't want people to grasp, or even think about.

    The WPA (Work Ppojects Administration) is alive and well,it's called Civil Service.

    The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) is dead in the water as it would require manual labor. If attempted, some would die, many would be hospitalised and very few would show up the next day.

    I can't say whether the CCC, WPA solved anything but I have never seen any more beautiful and enduring structures than those built by the CCC and WPA. To use a worn out cliche, they just don't build them like that anymore. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Timberline Lodge (Mt. Hood, OR).

    Thousands of projects in every state most of which endure. The creations themselves are a huge achievement.

    Perhaps such a Phoenix will rise out of today's ashes.

    The Techwood Dorm at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA. (or so I was told).

    Not sure if it was torn down well before the Atlanta Olympics, but it isn't there any more.


    Most accounts of the great depression indicate that wholesale printing and spending of money by the government did very little if anything to help end the problems, some disagree, but they all agree that imposing tariffs on imported goods delayed and severely deepened the economic malaise for years. It looks like Obama has not read history. Attached article deals with imposing tariff restrictions as part of the stimulus package. Here we go again! http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/industri...

    Consumer confidence sinks to a new low

    WASHINGTON - Americans’ mood about the economy darkened further in January, sending a widely watched barometer of consumer sentiment to a new low, a private research group said Tuesday, as people worry about their jobs and watch their retirement funds dwindle.

    The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index edged down to 37.7 from a revised 38.6 in December, lower than the 39 economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected. In recent months the index has hit its lowest troughs since it began in 1967, and is hovering at less than half its level of January 2007, when it was 87.3.

    Now, embattled banks are taking it in the service fees

    First, banks had to worry about bad loans taking a bite out of their interest income.

    Now, consumers are pulling back on their use of ATMs, and they're not writing as many checks, so fewer require overdrafts.

    So some financial institutions are seeing dwindling levels of what's known in the industry as "non-interest income," which includes ATM, overdraft and other customer service fees.

    My heart bleeds.

    What's another 4 trillion when they've spent 8.5 trillion so far?


    And that's just in America, Europe, China, India, Brazil, Japan, Britain etc have all rushed fiscal stimuli and more bail outs if necessary for companies which are of vital national and economic interest of course.

    Robbing the masses to give to the rich has never been so easy :-)

    Hmmm...which is more likely, that poultry innards and algae will fly us across oceans, or that most of us won't be flying much of anywhere.

    The ability of the MSM to see a Zebra in a herd of horses is pretty amazing.


    I was thinking the same thing, only about Kunstler's call for more passenger rail. I don't think most of will be taking the train much of anywhere, either.

    I'm thinking...

    The Fixx, "Less Buildings, More Moving People"


    I am just trying to figger how many chicken I got to eat for my pax contribution on a flight from LA to NY :-(

    Tom - Growth is not an option

    Regarding "Climate Damage irreversible"

    Since when is the climate "normal"? The climate is always changing as proven by looking back through the history of the earth. Temperatures have risen and fallen several times in the past.
    We as humans must adjust to the changes, and stop trying to control the climate. Someday when the Sun burns out we will have global cooling anyway........

    Someday when the Sun burns out we will have global cooling anyway

    Global warming - BIG TIME - will come first.

    "The climate is always changing as proven by looking back through the history of the earth. Temperatures have risen and fallen several times in the past."

    Right. And those of us with doctorates in plant ecology, climatology, archaeology, etc. have never considered this.

    Thanks for the tip.

    p.s. That was sarcastic.

    Then why are we trying to control the climate? Do doctorates enable us to control it somehow?
    As soon as we lower the temp, then something else will raise it again.
    In other words, it is pointless to try to stop global warming.
    Its like trying to boil the ocean.

    Firstly go here http://www.iqtest.com/ , then please come back if you pass. ....

    Humans have been very good at adapting to local conditions. We have not been very good at adapting to short term climate fluctuations, such as "The Year without a Summer". The main avenue of historical adaptation has been simply moving on to "greener pastures". That's why there are more "Irish" in the U.S. than in Ireland...

    One thing mankind does not adapt to very well is the lack of water or food. If our out-of-control experiment goes bad and the food supply fails or deserts appear in areas which now have water, the only solution would be to move, else the choice is just starve or die of thirst. Today, with more than 6 Billion people, all the "greener pastures" have been claimed, so there's no where else to move.

    Maybe you think that you and everyone else like you (including your family and children) would somehow be able to survive. I think it's more likely, you are wrong.

    E. Swanson

    It is inevitable that some people on earth will not survive, and that is just a fact.
    Even without global warming it is still a fact. There are all other types of calamities that take people's lives......hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, storms, droughts, all of which will still happen even without global warming. Stopping global warming is not going to save anyone. The earth will change regardless of what humans do. Some areas will become deserts, and some will change back to rain forests, but overall, there will still be ways to live with the changes.

    We are wasting time on global warming. I would rather focus on something we can do something about like healthcare, poverty, new energy. If we are all suffering, then 1 - 2 degrees warmer will have little to no effect.

    "We as humans must adjust to the changes, and stop trying to control the climate."

    Thing is, all those interconnected lifeforms which ultimately contribute to our own food supply and survival, and the fresh water and the air .. these systems might (!!) be on the brink too.

    Since we've already apparently 'de-controlled' the climate outside of the ecosystems' ability to keep it together, then we have what might be our only opportunity to 'stop digging down'.. and try to apply or discover some restorative actions as well, so we can hopefully climb back up and out of this pit.

    If you want to go hide in a hole while we work on it, feel free. Ignoring it is not an option.

    Lifeforms on earth are very resilient, and will survive one way or another.
    Global warming is not going to kill everything on earth.
    It is always an option to do nothing. It may not be financially possible to stop global warming.

    The geologic record showing several natural mass extinctions in the past, does not justify humans creating another one over the span of a few hundred years. You are incredibly arrogant to think it okay to risk extinguishing 99% of all species on Earth to allow you to party on a while longer. If people were smarter than yeast, the party would never have begun and there would not be 6.5 billion people on the planet.

    Hi Nowhere,

    It seems to me that stopping what we are doing in terms of causing the continual growth of CO2 is doing just what you suggest - "stop trying to control the climate."

    We have already controlled it by increasing the CO2 level, now we are having to live with the consequences. If we can back off of the continuing damage, wouldn't that be in line with what you are suggesting ??

    I do agree that the climate "is", and is whatever it is. But when it is changed, as we have already done, to the point of harming all of the inhabitants of our single planet, we have to take action to correct that harm, and in my opinion, we have to do it "by any means necessary," which usually means drastic and enforced counteractions.

    Raising CO2 could have had nothing to do with global warming.
    Lowering CO2 may have no effect. So why should we spend 200 trillion dollars to lower CO2?
    Plants love CO2 and will grow better with it.

    We have been fooled into thinking that we can alter the future climate.
    There is no proof of CO2 damage nor of any benefits to reducing CO2.
    Maybe the inside of the earth is getting hotter due to chemical reactions?
    Maybe the Sun is getting hotter, etc, etc, etc. When will we accept that the earth is not the center of the universe?

    I'm sorry Nowhere, but you simply have no idea what you're talking about. The inside of the Earth getting hotter due to chemical reactions? Come on. Everyone knows global warming is caused by the Pink Unicorn battle fleet firing their heat rays at Planet Earth to get ready for their invasion.

    sgage, are you sure it's the pink unicorns? If you look closely, it looks like they've taken the ray guns off their horns. (Granted, this picture might have been taken during maintenance. As everyone knows, ray guns are notoriously finicky.)

    Pink Unicorn

    OMG awesome picture! I agree with your theory - and they don't need to go around sporting their heat ray devices all the time anyway.

    I wonder when the people of Earth will awaken to the true menace?

    and they don't need to go around sporting their heat ray devices all the time anyway.

    Not only that, but they should cover up a bit. Has the one in the picture no shame?

    When will we accept that the earth is not the center of the universe?

    I've been wondering about this. Is there a way to tell where the center of the universe is? Do we have any idea of where our geographical location in the universe is? Can we find an actual LOCATION where the big bang took place?

    I've been wondering about this. Is there a way to tell where the center of the universe is? Do we have any idea of where our geographical location in the universe is? Can we find an actual LOCATION where the big bang took place?

    I guess it is cosmology day. According to the cosmologists, there is no center of the universe. The best explanation is the analogy to living on the surface of a ball (but not knowing about the third dimension). There is no center, every point is as much the center as any other. Kinda tough, when you can't figure out which planet to conquer to become master of the universe!

    "Where" and "There" were created with the big bang. The Big Bang did not happen in existing space. Space and time were created with the Big Bang. There is simply no sense in asking what happened before the Big Bang as there was no before.


    Didn't you get my message Nobody Nowhere ?
    Firstly go here http://www.iqtest.com/ I told you , then please come back if you pass. ....

    Shouldn't you define "pass"? I mean, it's not possible to actually "fail" an IQ test, is it?

    If you get zero, which I have a small hunch that nowhere might achieve, that is : failed.
    But to be honest I think he is closer to 30, I can justify that from reading his private reflections with no scientific linkages nor anything else. So let's say 50 is a pass for him then...
    (I'm simply fed up threads like this, it's not even a fad anymore ... they still fill up the Drumbeats with rubbish discussed to the level of boredom over several years ...)

    I think that if you payed them $9.95 for that test then you flunked


    I took the test and also balked when they wanted money. But I did give them my email and they promptly sent my score for free.

    Who needs a high IQ?
    Who needs scientific linkages????? They have been wrong for thousands of years.

    The truth will come, and you will see that most of the scientists were all wrong.
    There will be one scientist that gets it right - like Galileo.
    Have you ever heard of group think? When the majority agree, but are wrong?
    At one point most people on earth thought it was flat......your ancestors were one of them.

    There will be one scientist that gets it right - like Galileo.

    Has it struck you that maaaaybe IPCC already IS the equivalent to "Copernicus, Gallilei, Tycho Brahe and Kepler" combined ? .... just in a different scientific field (!)

    IPCC : thousands of scientists having worked for decade(s) on the issue in question and concluded therafter ... no vested interests as I can spot.

    Or what do you "feel" .... Noddy ?

    one more thing, that "old flat earth" claim, is for the most part an exurban myth.But why do I tell you all this ?

    My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with facts :)


    Dear Nowhere
    Perhaps the debate has some time to run yet :

    James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic - Says Hansen ‘Embarrassed NASA’, ‘Was Never Muzzled’, & Models ‘Useless’


    Dear Dropstoneonmeheadatbirth and Nowherenohownowaynobrain,

    It doesn't hurt to use your brain. Try it. (Don't worry; there are no pain receptors there.):


    # Calum Says:
    28 January 2009 at 4:32 AM

    Quote: Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, 15th Jan 2009,”My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit. Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy.”

    Anyone at Real Climate care to comment?

    [Response: Dr. Theon appears to have retired from NASA in 1994, some 15 years ago. Until yesterday I had never heard of him (despite working with and for NASA for the last 13 years). His insights into both modelling and publicity appear to date from then, rather than any recent events. He was not Hansen’s ‘boss’ (the director of GISS reports to the director of GSFC, who reports to the NASA Administrator). His “some scientists” quote is simply a smear - which scientists? where? what did they do? what data? what manipulation? This kind of thing plays well with Inhofe et al because it appears to add something to the ‘debate’, but in actual fact there is nothing here. Just vague, unsubstantiated accusations. - gavin]

    As a bonus, you can read all your idiot, nutjob heroes get toasted at the same link - it goes to a discussion of the idiots responding to the Antarctica warming paper, which some of the folks at RC were involved with.


    Dear CCPO
    I think 2009 will be the year that we 'non-brain-users' will win /are winning the argument. As for the 'warming Antarctic' - That is currently being shredded by other 'non-brain-users' on other websites and in detail. Suffice to say that the 'Warming Antarctic' data (very sparse indeed)has been 'deduced' and has Mann's grubby little paw prints all over it. I suppose it must really hurt to believe in something for so long that it becomes part of the fibre of your being, only to have your lifelong beliefs fall to dust. Sorry, that is just the way it is in science.
    Ever Yours

    I am reminded of a question from several Icelanders "Are there REALLY Americans who do not believe in Global Warming ?" A couple added questions like "Are they uneducated people who think the world is 6,000 years old ?"

    The debate is over, the deniers have lost. A decade ago,

    I do hope to see you banned ASAP and stop cluttering bandwidth.

    Best Hopes for Ignoring Deniers (and Flat Earth believers),


    Dear Alan,
    Firstly let me offer my thanks for your continued and sterling work regarding rail as a way forward. In this regard I am a true believer.
    However, and frankly, I am at a loss to understand why anyone with an modicum of formal education would fall for this AGW theory. As a forcing agent, Anthropogenic CO2 is miniscule compared with all other forcing agents - forcing agents which are by far greater in effect, too numerous to mention here and frequently ignored for the convenience of an agenda.

    I am sure that your wish will ultimately be granted. Banning is the usual last resort of the failed debator. Over the last year, I cannot help but notice that quite a few skeptics have been 'disappeared' from this site, even as the debate is swinging the other way as time goes by.

    Think very carefully how foolish TOD will look if it turns out that the recent warming trend is followed by a cooling trend (as many of us in my discipline think it will; and is now happening). It would be terrible if such a venerable Peak Oil site such as this was permanently tainted because of a particular stance on an untested, spurious and crumbling theory.

    Whether banned in future or not, It would not change the emerging science and increasing skepticsm within the community of earth scientists and physicists. And I would still enjoy your posts on Railways :-)


    Just to disprove your "claim" that CO2 is too small a % of atmosphere to matter. Go to a very deep pool of distilled water and add 0.01% (or even 0.001%) India ink. Then tell me that water clarity & absorption is not affected.

    At infrared wavelengths, CO2 is similar to that India ink and O2, N2 and Ar are like distilled water.

    I do wish you would leave with your nonsense and flat earth theology (for what you support is theology, not science).


    Perhaps the denialist camp is just shouting louder and jumping up and down more frequently to get more attention. Senator Inhofe has made a career of downplaying the problem of AGW and this is just another example based on his disinformation campaign. The web site claims to be a "Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news", yet, most of the posts are AGW denialist anti-science. The site is run by "a former television meteorologist who spent 25 years on the air", i.e., not a scientist. Check out the right column which lists the recent posts. I don't see anything listed other than AGW related posts.

    Dr. Theon obviously did good work in his day, but, remember, he retired from NASA in 1994. He may have kept up with the advances in the science, but he also was the guy who approved the work of Spencer & Christy, work which has been shown to be flawed several times since.

    E. Swanson

    Dear Black Dog,
    I rather suspect that it is the pro AGW camp that is shouting increasingly louder and jumping more to get attention rather than the 'denialists'. I suggest that Hansen's claim that 'we only have four more years to save the planet' should really read:

    'I have Obama's term in office to save my phoney-baloney ass and job'

    Remember: 'An Arctic Free Ice in five Years' (2012) - Mr Gore. Dont you just love hostages to fortune in the world of scientific prediction?

    In case you haven't been paying attention, here's a graph for you. Notice how fast the sea-ice cover over the Arctic is heading south.

    Your comment without reference regarding the new paper in NATURE which reports to find a warming trend over Antarctic is characteristic of the mindless sort of postings one has come to expect from the denialist camp. Did they bother to present their complaints on RealClimate, where the authors of the paper might be addressed directly? Since there isn't any other valid data other than that which Steig et al. used, I wonder what data these denialist are using. See my comment # 53 on this RC thread.

    There's a new thread up and running on RC about Inhofe and Morano, etc.

    Your character assignation of Dr. Hansen or VP Gore says nothing about the science, fool. Those tactics are the usual for those that have no clue but who have an agenda.

    E. Swanson

    Dear Black Dog
    Where to start?
    The Arctic Ice is now back to 1980's levels in areal extent, but is not as thick (yet). However its impact on High Latitude Albedo is back to previous levels.
    The Warming trend in the Arctic is very minute, so much so that its within the realms of measurement error. (1 deg F for -50 deg F). It is based on a handful of weather stations, (literally a handful)in the Western Antarctic (Including the peninsula)and is exclusive to this region and does not traverse the Trans -Antarctic Range. The larger, Eastern Antarctic is not counted in this posit.

    This document is not a paper (thereby avoiding peer review). It is a missive or communique. As for the antics of Real-Climate, these people are demonstrably duplicitous. They change there tack whenever they think it may suite them. Not so long ago, they were claiming that cooling in the Antarctic was predicted by the models and could be accounted for in Global Warming modelling. They are now changing tack (yet again)and latching onto this communique as 'evidence' of warming. Whuich is it to be ? Is a cooling Antarctic evidence of warming? or a warming Antarctic evidence of Warming? Please advise as we skeptics are scratching our thick heads over this one.

    Will Stieg release his data and the algorthims that show this new warming trend? I understand that Stieg is a decent chap and serious and worthy scientist. I bet he is wishing that he had never fallen in with Schmidt, Hansen and Mann.

    BTW: It is not VP or Former VP Gore, It is simply Mr. Gore. And when will he enter into public debate on his position?
    Goodnight Black Dog

    Mr. Dropstone,

    Your comments about the NATURE have been addressed on RC. For example, the model results which show antarctic cooling refer to more recent times, not the full period since 1957 which Steig et al. analyzed. The cooling effects of the depletion of ozone have been strongest in the past 30 years, as noted on RC:

    Substantial ozone losses did not occur until the late 1970s, and it is only after this period that significant cooling begins in East Antarctica.

    As for the stations used, the supplemental information is available HERE.

    And, no, the Arctic sea-ice has not returned to 1980's levels. The minimum last September was the second lowest in the record behind 2007. The latest data shows that the seasonal cycle is running well below the long term average, about the same as last year. I guess you didn't look at the graph I linked to before you regurgitated that denialist disinformation. Don't you think it's time to stop playing games pretending to know about the science?

    Nighty night, sweet dreams...

    E. Swanson

    Someday when the Sun burns out we will have global cooling anyway........

    Ummm. Actually not. The sun will just keep getting bigger and brighter, until the molten earth spirals into it. After that it contracts into a white dwarf, but perhaps the remains of the earth will be expelled, into one of those beautiful planetary nebulas. But there is no coooling a comin.

    The 89 billion budget for Iran is less than the bailout for AIG!

    That just shows how extravagant the US has become.
    China only spends 50 billion per year on defense, and US spends 500 billion per year.
    Dollars will not solve all problems, we must cut the spending now.
    If we do not cut it, the dollar will be worthless.

    We probably could have solved a lot more serious problems if we had just bought Iran instead.

    The US clearly has its back to the wall and needs to increase defense spending to counter the threat from all those other countries. Need to remember that the innocent term "rest of the world" is really a cover for 12 angry men armed with $1.25 carton cutters.


    Actually, that chart doesn't quite display just how desperate the U.S. has become in facing the threat from the "rest of the world." Since 2006 our military expenditures have increased by more than the next biggest spender (now China) spends in total. Some reports I've seen have the U.S. now just shy of spending what the entire rest of the planet spends. So now, if they all gang up on us, we have a chance!

    You forgot the cost of the Iraq war on top of that:

    The total cumulated cost of Iraq and Afghanistan will be around $2.173 Trillion dollars in 2009 (src) and some Republicans don't like Obama stimulus plan because it's too costly and will increase the budget deficit (sic).

    Yes, figuring out just how much we really spend on the military is a tough job. And to think that some of our more worried pundits are concerned that China might be spending as much as $90B a year instead of the $60B official budget. Shame on them.

    Methinks that pie chart doesn't include in U.S. 'military expenditures' the following:

    - Department of Homeland Security
    - CIA, NSA, DIA, the four Service intelligence organizations, and the various other government intelligence (oxymoron) organizations
    - National Reconnaissance Office
    - the Department of Energy (You do the research here, but it mostly aint about windmills and other electric power generation, Bub!)
    - Grants to the National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, other such purportedly non-military scientific organizations who actually conduct quite a bit of military research...include most major Universities as well, seeing as they 'partner' with DoD and DoE for military research, spending some of their own (taxpayer) matching funds.
    - Black 'off-budget' programs for the military 'National Defense' hidden in the overall budget (and some just paid for with unaccounted money 'magicked' into existence off the books).

    You learn to live with reality when your doctor diagnoses you with Stage 4 cancer. The Military-Industrial-Political Complex has metastasized into the U.S. body a long time ago...let's call it starting with WWII. It sucks the life (money, time, talent, focus) out of our national body and in return poisons the body (dead 'cells' [people], toxic pollution, corrosion to our morality).

    I recall reading something years ago which pointed out that reducing military spending and moving the money to any other sector would result in more jobs. that's because the average worker in the defense industry is paid much more than the average wage for the rest of US. Think of all those private guards in Iraq (Blackwater, Dyncorp) where the Government is charged at a rate in excess of $1,000 per DAY. Around here, $10 an hour ($20,000/yr) is about what folks get in the factory. Of course, those guards might not live to collect their fat pay check...



    E. Swanson

    Starting this year we initiated an apprentice program for high schools in the district. Its well packaged and funded. There are nteresting positions available in machining, welding, carpentry, cabinetry, etc.

    Out of over 1400 students, we could not fill the 20 student first run.

    Talked to a friend of my sons who loves to work with his hands, always coming by to help out with our projects. I asked why he is not applying and he said his parents wouldn’t let him.

    Everybody knows the designer makes 10X more than the fabricator, right?

    And the CEO makes 1000X more than the designer.

    We are beyond scroomed.

    No worries. All 1400 students can go to law school after getting undergraduate degrees in political science.

    And then they can take a three week course in how to fix bicycles in order to pay off that humongous college debt.

    As the old saying goes, a town that can't support one lawyer will always support two. Just find 700 towns without lawyers, and they've got it made.

    This attorney thinks that's very funny. But I majored undergrad in economics! That's even worse!

    I suspect the issue isn't so much money as the kind of students parents fear will be signing up for that program. I'm sure you've seen the popular bumper sticker that reads My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student. They're afraid their precious darlings will be mugged, or end up hanging out with the "wrong type" of friends.

    You'd be surprised how many people look down on physical labor.


    Your drupal pops up telling me that TOD is off-line. Apparently not.

    Similar choice as at the checkout stand. Groceries? Naw, lottery tickets!
    I do understand the desire to aim high on behalf of your children ,that said,
    sending Johnny out w/o a backup plan in today's world...hey like maybe a career in
    investment banking or real estate?

    Hey Souperman,

    My teen son is in his first year of a 2 year program at the high school's career center to be an Electrician. The program is full: partly with adults that are PAYING big bucks to be in the program (free to the high schoolers)

    I think that because they see that it is a truly valuable opportunity (by adults paying to participate) it is taken seriously and has become a successful program.

    Why is he in it? He wants to make enough income to be independent after HS. And he knows that electrician work pays lots more than grocery clerking.

    He does talk about still taking college classes part-time in things that interest him. And we live in a University town, so he knows that school is where the girls are :-)

    Does he like to tinker or is his focus just money ?

    How they'll put us oldies out on the iceberg:

    93-year-old froze to death, owed big utility bill

    BAY CITY, Mich. ­ A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said. ...

    Schur owed Bay City Electric Light & Power more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills, Bay City Manager Robert Belleman told The Associated Press on Monday.

    A city utility worker had installed a "limiter" device to restrict the use of electricity at Schur's home on Jan. 13, Belleman said. The device limits power reaching a home and blows out like a fuse if consumption rises past a set level. Power is not restored until the device is reset.

    The limiter was tripped sometime between the time of installation and the discovery of Schur's body, Belleman said. He didn't know if anyone had made personal contact with Schur to explain how the device works. ...

    I think this says more about the isolation of modern American society than about energy prices or corporate greed.

    They didn't cut off his power. What they did was install a limiting device. It's an inconvenience and a reminder. It turns off the power if you use too much. You reset the device to turn the power back on.

    This man could easily have turned his own power back on once the limiter tripped. He didn't know that, or didn't know how. He was hard of hearing and may have suffered from dementia, so perhaps he didn't understand the instructions.

    Or - at age 93 - he might have had a physical disability... or he could have been incapacitated by hypothermia ... or...

    The local press coverage of the story said he was hard of hearing and suffered from slight dementia.

    The point being you don't put a limiter on the house of a 93 year old man heating with electricity in the middle of winter.


    They probably didn't even know who lived in the house.

    Yes, but they are supposed to. Most states have laws limiting their right to shut off elderly or disabled customers, or any customer that depends on them for heat in the winter. It was there job to find out.


    Most states have laws that don't allow them to shut off electricity in the winter. This was apparently not the case here. They didn't cut him off, but apparently, they could have. If you don't pay or set up a payment plan 10 days after the limiter goes in, you get cut off.

    They didn't cut him off, but apparently, they could have. If you don't pay or set up a payment plan 10 days after the limiter goes in, you get cut off.

    I think Sharon's point (with which I agree) is that if he is 93, hard of hearing, has dementia - the limiter effectively IS cutting him off.


    And I'm saying they didn't know he was 93, hard of hearing, and had dementia.

    Even if they're supposed to know - and I'm not sure they were - you can't trust the power company to keep track of things like that. You can't even trust them to bill you the right amount, fer crissakes.

    The man apparently had no family. His wife died several years ago, and they had no children. He probably shouldn't have been living alone.

    And I'm saying they didn't know he was 93, hard of hearing, and had dementia.

    Even if they're supposed to know - and I'm not sure they were - you can't trust the power company to keep track of things like that. You can't even trust them to bill you the right amount, fer crissakes.

    The man apparently had no family. His wife died several years ago, and they had no children. He probably shouldn't have been living alone.

    I comprehended all that the first time around. I was commenting on your arguing with Sharon that he hadn't been "cut off" but only had "limiter" put on - and critiquing the distinction.


    Um...that's not what I was arguing.

    What I said was that, according to the local coverage I read, they could have cut him off if they wanted to.

    Schur owed almost $1,100 in electricity bills to the city, prompting the city utility to place a "limiter" device outside his home on Jan. 13. The city keeps the limiter on a residence for 10 days, at which point the city shuts off all electricity if the homeowner hasn't paid his utility bill.

    Which I found surprising, because I thought most states had laws about cutting people off in the winter.

    The thing is, winter cut offs can be fatal, and the utility companies know they may actually kill someone if they do it. That's why most states prohibit it, and even more prohibit cut-offs (and the limiter is effectively a cut off for anyone without the ability to manage it) to the elderly over a certain age and disabled at all.

    I have no doubt that they did not know how old this particular man was - but you seem to be placing the emphasis on everything but the utility company's responsibility - you've said that he shouldn't be isolated or living alone. I agree, but I also believe that when utility companies take actions that can kill people, they have a responsibility to make sure that they are taking them with people who can understand the consequences and respond to them - and that the law in most states recognizes that obligation. That is, I'm not suggesting something radical, I'm suggesting something completely normal - that you can't kill people just because they can't pay their bills, and that the obligation to know who you are hurting falls primarily on the utility company.

    He seems to have been able to live at home under normal circumstances, and to pay his bills (which is why a pile of money was found attached to one of the bills, demonstrating his intent to pay) - what he couldn't handle was something as disruptive and abnormal as a limiter.


    I'm not placing responsibility anywhere. I just think this is example of the isolation of modern American life, as described in Bowling Alone.

    I have chosen not to have children, but I gotta say, things like this make me wonder if I'll regret it. I know, children have been known to be abusive and neglectful...but I still think I'd depend on family before I'd depend on the power company.

    Depends kids can be real good too. There are lots of kids who do a lot for their parents and grandparents.

    BTW anyone here been following the news story on the woman who gave birth to the 8 kids in California? That was mind boggling.

    And the flip side - another man kills wife and kids after losing a job.

  • http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,483645,00.html
  • Is anybody keeping count on the collateral damages the employment war?

    It is possible that men and women view this one differently-why would any rational person want to be 94 years old? The guy went out like a man, on his own two feet, not rotting away in some snakepit, being abused by some ex-con orderly.

    I think my expectations have been lowered. Freezing to death alone in my own house at 93 used to be my worst-case scenario. Now it looks more and more like it could be a best-case scenario.

    This is a sex thing yes women bad (except the alpha female Leann) guys 93, still on my own, and freeze to death....H-m-m-m were can I sign up

    Now that this man has unfortunately died I assume the utility company has to write off his $1000 debt. We can talk about who is to blame all day, but at the end of the day my guess is the utility would rather this man were alive to at least pay a portion of his debt.

    I bet they'll take it out of his estate. That's how it usually works.

    However, the backlash from the public has been pretty bad. I'm sure they'd rather have avoided that.

    As the backlash should be. One of the idiots at the power company had the gall to say his neighbors should have checked on him.

    Let turn that: The power company should have let the neighbors know the power was being limited. How the hell else would they know to check on him?



    I'd just like to point out here that the 'electric company' was the city government. I'd not be the least surprised to hear that they were exempt from the controls imposed on a private utility.

    Perhaps the saddest part here is that it was a city utility; that is to say, the public owns this utility and the citizens in that city have more say in how it operates than a private utility would permit. So in a sense the people of the city (the public) permitted this to happen. What else are they permitting?

    The best they could maybe do would be to notify social services of imminent winter cut-offs, so that somebody who is "supposed to care" could make those secondary determinations. There is no reason to turn utilities into yet another welfare agency charged with not only supplying power for free but determining the relative capacity of customers.

    I imagine it's worded inversely, that if you're served with a disconnect notice it's your job to notify the company if you have vulnerable inhabitants.

    Muskego Man Lives Without Heat For 2 Years

    Jan 19, 2009 A 65-year-old Muskego man was taken to a Salvation Army shelter after police found his home had no running water or heat. The temperature in his house was 22 degrees.

    I'm afraid this is just the start of a trend - we'll be seeing more stories like this in the future.

    My mother, 65, is currently living in a small village in Tajikistan. In the winter, they usually get 1.5 hours of electricity per day. Though they may receive none at all, possibly for weeks at a time, if the power is routed to higher-priority areas during a cold snap.

    The difference is largely cultural. A 93 old person, hard of hearing and slightly demented, would not be living by himself in Tajikistan. His family would keep him under a large number of blankets, or bundled in a large number of clothes, at all times.

    I agree that the fact that this 93-year old was living by himself is most of the problem. Very few 93 year olds are capable of living by themselves--particularly those who are hard of hearing and have mild dementia. Without children, though, it is hard to see who would look after him.

    Do people look after more extended relatives in Tajikistan? I know my husband and I took in my husband's unmarried aunt in for a couple of years before she died, but that is not too common in this country.

    The key word was "family". Lots of people in the US do not have any family or one that cares.
    People in the US are spoiled with electricity, heat, hot running water, phones, TV, etc. and do not know how to live using blankets, and more clothes.

    Oak Ridge Lab Combined Heat & Power report shows cost-effective way to lower US carbon emissions...

    To get a brief description of the report, see:


    Humans exhale carbon CO2, so with less people CO2 will go down........

    Is Eight Enough? Octuplets born in California doing 'very well'


    Les Knight, the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT)is probably not taking this news real well. Knight is a high school science teacher who frustrated his young wife by refusing to allow her to bear children and here's a woman having eight.

    The simple philosophy of VHEMT http://www.vhemt.org/ is:

    Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.

    Perhaps before that woman in Bellflower, CA had invitro she should have watched the following 3-minute video:



    Actually, we're doing a pretty good job of heading toward our extinction, and we haven't even needed a voluntary movement to organize the effort. Ordinary human stupidity and greed is doing just fine on its own.

    One can leave nature - whatever that is - all to itself but there is no
    man made physical object that could go on and sustain by itself rather it must be maintained and sustained by man. Only not_moving not_matter such as relations, and numbers, are a possible exception. Numbers could survive mankind. Thus considering technology all around there has to be a minimum number of man equipped with sufficient mental capacity to take care of all the technology else the stuff might go off and then man becomes extinct.

    Young wife huh? Sounds to be young, if she marries a man who's dedicated to human extinction and wants kids with him. Of course, as usual, it would tend to guarantee the extinction of the movement, not the species.

    We've got a couple Shakers left up here, I think, bless 'em.

    jokuhl - You're probably right! This perfectly illustrates Garret Hardin's: The Tragedy of The Commons:



    Seven, last I heard, at Sabbaday Lake in Maine. That family still accepts converts.

    A few days ago, there was a drumbeat entry about some researchers who had "discovered" a way to create H2 gas out of water, without any energy inputs.

    Here's the Original Article.

    I had posted a reply to that drumbeat post stating that I was intrigued but skeptical. I have gotten a scientific opinion on the subject and thought I would post it here for TOD's benefit. Any of you bright scientific minds out there can confirm or deny the validity of this response.

    Hi TS,

    Don't make too much of the similarity to Cold Fusion, that was a nuclear process: This is an atomic process, and much better understood.

    The key to the story is this paragraph:

    "Khanna hopes that the team's findings will pave the way toward investigating how the aluminum clusters can be recycled for continual usage and how the conditions for the release of hydrogen can be controlled. "It looks as though we might be able to come up with ways to remove the hydroxyl group (OH-) that remains attached to the aluminum clusters after they generate hydrogen so that we can reuse the aluminum clusters again and again," he said."

    Any of the methods to remove the hydroxyl groups will require energy, but how much remains to be seen. The chemical equations must be satisfied, so if they can chemically combine two hydroxyls, then they get hydrogen peroxide, which can decompose to give O and H2O. The O will probably oxidize the aluminum, and rather quickly this will end the reaction, since it uses up the active sites on the aluminum clusters. You cannot split water into H2 + O2 and not have it take energy equal to the energy of combustion of 2 H2 + O2 = 2 H2O. The presence of hydrogen over the aluminum clusters shows that the hydroxyls repel, but the hydrogens are shielded by the Al cluster atoms, and this allows the disassociated hydrogen to combine into hydrogen molecules. The difficulty is on the side of the hydroxyl radicals.

    So they have found a way to create H2 gas without energy inputs. The challenge lies in refurbishing the Aluminum so it can be used again. You can't do that part without the energy. So it looks like this article was "spun" for the purposes of generating hope without telling the whole truth. Surprise, surprise.


    So they have found a way to create H2 gas without energy inputs.

    But remember, the aluminum doesn't exist naturally in that state. So there were energy inputs; they just went into the aluminum. Think of it like a battery. Likewise, I can create fire without energy inputs. I just throw pure sodium into water. It's all the same concept; the energy inputs went into one of the system components.

    However Robert if they find a cheap simple way to recycle resuse the aluminum they could have something here.

    Its never going to be ENERGY cheap to reduce Aluminium oxide. It's an unchangeable fact of Chemistry

    Sigh, ever heard of The laws of thermodynamics.

    Yeah, if they could just change the laws that govern the universe, we'd be fine.


    Time to lobby congress and parliaments all over the world!
    Number one on my list would be perpetual motion is possible :-)

    While we're at it, I don't mind having beautiful, sunny weather all year round.

    theantidoomer -

    While aluminum is one of the most abundant elements in the earth's crust, virtually all of it is in the form of the oxide. The reduction of aluminum oxide into the metallic state requires a tremendous amount of energy, which is why the combustion of metallic aluminum is so intense (as in thermite and certain explosives).

    So, while aluminum can play an interesting role in the production of hydrogen, one is still faced with the stubborn fact that no matter what you do mucho energy is required to convert aluminum oxide back into aluminum.

    Perhaps metallic aluminum could serve in some way as a a form of energy storage, but there is no way that it could be considered an energy source, anymore than gases hydrogen can.

    I remember several years ago, someone on energyresources yahoo list (haven't been there since I found TOD) posted an article about a company developing a system that used aluminum to produce hydrogen. Basically the system reacted aluminum with sodium hydroxide solution. The NaOH acts as a "catalyst". I did a quick calculation of the "efficiency" of this system based on the power to produce a kilo of aluminum that I found in some ALCOA document. As output I used the heat of combustion of the hydrogen produced.

    I came up with about 12% (and that's ignoring several other losses). As the aluminum dissolves it produces a sodium aluminate solution that will eventually decompose and precipitate aluminum hydroxide, which is basically what this article says is left over, aluminum with attached hydroxyl ions.

    This is just another version of that. Energy storage, not 'source'. And a fairly piss poor one at that.

    I have used this process for generating hydrogen to precipitate precious metals from solution, but I wasn't worried about efficiency. Just a bit of Red Devil, water, and some scrap aluminum in a jar with a hose barb.

    Different people with varying amounts of background knowledge in this area will read the ScienceDaily article differently. Here is my take on this and the peer-reviewed Science article on which it is based:

    1. The conclusion of the researchers' article in the journal Science is that water reacts with aluminum clusters differently depending on the geometry of the cluster and not just the number of aluminum atoms in the cluster.
    2. This is interesting from a basic science standpoint, and may in the future be of some use in developing new catalysts or electrocatalysts, or perhaps energy storage (i.e. energy stored in the clusters is used remotely to generate hydrogen, which is then combusted). The authors don't make any claims about this in the Science paper, though.
    3. With regards to catalysts for hydrogen generation, one thing that came of the media circus from last summer was that the bigger problem is oxygen recombination, not hydrogen recombination.

    In his zeal to promote their work, one author does blather on a bit too much to the press:

    "The ability to produce hydrogen at room temperature is significant because it means that we did not use any heat or energy to trigger the reaction," said Khanna. "Traditional techniques for splitting water to produce hydrogen generally require a lot of energy at the time the hydrogen is generated. But our method allows us to produce hydrogen without supplying heat, connecting to a battery, or adding electricity. Once the aluminum clusters are synthesized, they can generate hydrogen on demand without the need to store it."

    Water reacting with the surface of a metal and producing hydrogen at room temperature is not new. And hydrogen isn't produced in bulk that way because there is no easy way to refresh the surface. The same is true for the aluminum clusters. But even if they find a way to reuse and "recharge" them, it remains true that more energy will be used to do that than is liberated when the hydrogen is combusted. Reality sucks.

    These researchers are clever marketers at least as much as they are chemists. They knew of course before they began these experiments that the aluminum would be nonreturnable, but it would make hydrogen like a champ. They are not so much studying catalysts as skating to fame on the back of the chemical energy inherent in an active metal.

    Any kid who has ever made a Drano bomb knows that aluminum can generate hydrogen from water, given a high enough pH.


    Was reading earlier today on Bloomberg that the oil tankers storing the oil off Scotland etc. are now headed to ports for unloading. Apparently the contango situation in the market is now weakening (spread is not as big). But will the market go into backwardation, like gold market did on Dec 2? Or not?

    I read the weakening contango as market participants coming to the conclusion that the economic downturn will be prolonged. If demand isn't going to rebound strongly in the second half of the year, those futures prices come down and it no longer makes sense to rent a super-tanker as a storage unit.

    The roll over of corporate papers can be interpreted as contango.
    If this roll over freezes due to credit crunch it is not necessarily backwardation.
    If the traders anticipate a further reduced demand of crude especially as China economy moves toward a recession, too, then it could be roll over of WTI futures freezes as well and then it is time to get rid off stored oil before its price crashes to 10 US$/bbl.

    Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Seventeen months after seizing up at the onset of the credit crisis, the $1.69 trillion commercial paper market may be the first to cut its reliance on federal bailout programs.

    About $245 billion of 90-day commercial paper that companies sold to the Federal Reserve starting in October will mature this week and next, central bank data show. As much as $50 billion to $70 billion of the debt may be rolled over and bought by investors, according to Barclays Capital in New York.

    The market’s ability to absorb the maturing debt may build confidence that U.S. companies are able to fund themselves without government support, said Deborah Cunningham, chief investment officer for taxable money markets at Federated Investors Inc. Investors, betting the commercial paper market has stabilized, pushed interest rates to record lows this month and bought the most 90-day debt since September, Fed data show.

    The debt rollover represents “a test of how well the market can sustain itself,” said Cunningham, who is buying commercial paper for Pittsburgh-based Federated, which oversees $288 billion in money-market assets. “And I think it will pass the test.”

    Or not.

    Speculation in oil works on the way down also. In both cases, speculation can create massive errors in investment, and given the financial crisis, can jeopardize the economies of the world. We have read the views of those who argue about the effects of speculation on the upside on this site. We have also read here about the possible impact of stored oil impacting contango and backwardization.
    What has not been discussed is the effect of a sudden unwinding of the recent storage speculation. First, it is unclear how big a problem this would become. How much oil is so stored, by whom, for what purpose, and are they weak or strong hands? If the speculators are not producers or buyers/users i.e. refiners, naked speculation should not be allowed by governments of either producers or consumers. If large enough, the unwinding can distort the markets and cause injury to the industry and/or economies, given the unstable financial crisis the world is in. For instance, if 80 million barrels were suddenly released by panicked speculators, prices would fall until the glut was gone, drilling would be stopped, unconventional oil companies would face havoc, consumers would be mislead, etc. But if it is a 10 million barrel issue, It is only a bump in the road.

    One cannot short a physical commodity but one can keep the market short of it for a while. Indeed we have unwinding of recent oil long speculation that was driven by then available easy credit. The latter is why I am suspicious on peak oil. Most of posted reserves figures
    are just guesses. These are interpreted either long or short that depends on availability of credit. If there is plenty of easy credit it makes sense to post peak oil. If credit is short, output is shorted drilling and other investment stops and proven reserves are off topic.
    Btw oil fields of Azerbeijan aorud Baku at the Caspian sea are industrially exploited since 1871, in large scale by USSR since 1921, and showed no peaking before fall of USSR. How's that?
    Imo we will see WTI price fall into uncharted territory. March future peaked yesterday so short oil April. It may still be a part of execution of Brzezinsky doctrine to disintegrate Russia.
    If it works - Putin is stupid enough to bump into any trap - the Russia is on fire sale and US and China will buy both with recirculated debt.

    I read the talk of the weakening contango as oil bears whistling in the dark. The next month contract went from 37 to 45, a nice 20% in a week, while the December contract didn't move. Some folks decided to take the money and run.

    Layoffs Spread to More Sectors of the Economy


    Reading this reminds article me of when the RMS Titanic begin throwing passengers overboard in order to save itself from iceberg damage.

    Oil takes another hit

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The job market continued to take a beating Tuesday, as six companies across several industries announced more than 10,000 job cuts Tuesday…
    …Meanwhile, oil field services company Baker Hughes (BHI, Fortune 500) announced it will cut 1,500 employees world wide. That's about 4% of its workforce, and 850 of the cuts will be from the company's North American work force.
    A Baker Hughes spokesman said the cuts are necessary because of the poor economy and credit crisis - plus, productivity from drilling rigs has fallen 25% since September's peak. The recent pullback in oil and gas demand in North America has hit the company hard, as the continent accounts for about 42% of revenue.
    Baker Hughes is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 earnings on Wednesday. At 2:17 p.m. ET, the company's stock remained flat, at $32.75.

    Tom, Growth is not an option!

    Doesn't sound like a huge deal, but here is the email I just got from Vanguard:

    Vanguard has announced the closure of Vanguard® Admiral™ Treasury Money Market Fund and Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund to new accounts effective 4 p.m., Eastern time, on Monday, January 26, 2009. In light of the substantial decline in yields on short-term Treasury securities, this decision was made to protect the interests of current fund shareholders. Current shareholders of the two funds who invest directly through Vanguard may continue to invest up to an additional $50,000 per day, per fund account. Although we're taking this step, it is likely that the yields on Vanguard's Treasury money market funds will continue to decline to negligible levels if short-term interest rates remain as low as they are now.

    They also go on to note that their money market funds are not FDIC insured.

    In other words, why risk getting zero interest and actually breaking below $1 when you could just as easily get zero interest by parking your money in Treasuries or an FDIC insured account?

    What do people think of the idea of oil-related tourism? Before you laugh this out of court (and this may on balance be a bad idea), think about it. Many people are becoming PO aware, yet most people have little idea how oil, natural gas or other fuels are actually produced, nor where they come from, nor the kinds of social issues that such projects generate. Some people (still) have the means to engage in educational travel. Why not turn their travel dollars toward something educational (and we can have them read Catton's *Overshoot* along the way)?

    I've taken groups of students to eastern Ecuador twice in recent years, once focusing on the tradeoffs and impacts of piping oil over the Andes. It was a fabulous learning experience, and included the first-ever visit by a group of foreign students to an oil-pumping plant in eastern Ecuador. Forestland protection was actually better in the case of a private pipeline than a state-owned pipeline, according to the head of a group which had initially opposed both. We also learned about one indigenous community (where we stayed a week or so) which turned royalties from allowing an oil pipeline across their territory into funds to run a nature-oriented tourist facility along the Napo River, powered by solar PV.

    Sounds great, for the few percent of the US adult population that's smarter than a 5th grader, and the 1% who actually believe in lifetime learning.

    I am keying this comment by kerosene lamplight.As I sit here in W. Ky where a winter ice storm is taking this county apart.

    It came down last night and this morning all roads were closed by fallen trees. I managed to squiggle by but alas couldn't get back and I was in my Jeep Wrangler. On the way I ran into what can only be described as total chaos. Power lines just all over the place. Massive trees falling down.

    In fact the sound of timber crashing down has been constant all day long and now into the night.

    I finally got my friends brand new MS290 Stihl and cut 13 trees getting back to my farm. Got my chainsaws and trailer to go get our duty gas generator. Again had to cut trees out of the road, as doing so a neighbor came up from a dead end road and had cut 37 trees off the road to get to where I was cutting.

    Picked up generator but now more trees down. Had to actually cut a tunnel thru the limbs of one...a state trooper followed me as I cut our path to the state route we both live on.His yard was totalled. I saw roofs punctured with trees, meter bases sliced off.

    As I made one last trip for gas ..once more a big tree across a major state road. I started cutting and another vehicle approached. There was almost no space for him to pass but he tried it even though there was a very steep dropoff into a creek right by the shoulder. About 20 ft down. He started and then slide sideways to the point of almost rolling over. I walked over and asked him why he did this. He pointed to his head and mumbled.I told him and his passenger to get out fast before it rolled over. Both their cell phones had no signal so I got a 9/11 call out for them ,removed the rest of the limbs and headed for home. More blockages..too big to cut. Around another way. No good. As a tree would fall across and block me another would fall behind me,blocking me in. I cut for what seemed like hours. Finally got to a 150 acre field that connected near my farm. No way to continue on roads so I put it into transfer case low and 4 wheel drive and got across the fields and finally home.

    The crashing in my woods has not let up all day. Its still going on.
    No one has power. Water lines are freezing. Next will be well storage tanks.

    The gas station was running out and I filled up with the dregs.

    Tonite its supposed to worse and tomorrow get really bad.

    A huge limb is on the line from my transformer.

    County judge says 4 to 5 days to get power back. Linemen are saying maybe a week.

    You wake up one day to chaos. You start to live like you think you will live if TSHTF. Forget about your foods that will spoil. Hope you have some kerosene for the lamps. Go chop wood in the near dark.

    This is just how fast it can happen. Badda Bing,,Badda Boom.

    I hear we have been declared a diaster area. Not sure. News is spotty. This storm is widespread. Its just at the point of rain and sleet but freezes on structures. I saw ice on tree limbs over and inch and maybe up to two inches thick.

    My woods are being decimated.

    I might not be posting till all this is over. I heard it was getting bad in St. Louis where I was so I came back fast yesterday. Perhaps the bit city will be too cold to have an ice storm.

    I have never seen one this bad here. In N. Carolina yes. But not here.

    I am awed at the utter power of nature right now.

    Airdale-the guy who almost rolled over finally got a wrecker. He was not able to speak properly and was telling me by pointing to his head that he was 'addled'. Best word I can use. The woman with him was almost in hysterics and jabbering like mad. They were extremely lucky. I told him I would have had the tree out of the way in five more minutes. He had a Mail Delivery sign on the back of his vehicle,a foreign front wheel drive mini-suv.

    I feel your pain, Airdale - I was in the same place with the December ice storm here in NH. The sound of trees just crashing down all night long was pretty hard to take - sleep was impossible. We have ice storms of various intensity every year, but that December storm was the worst since '98 (which left this region looking like the aftermath of a WW I artillery barrage). We're looking at a foot of snow for tomorrow - same storm as yours. What can you do? But at least I have a pile of good seasoned oak for my woodstove...

    Good luck, and I hope it turns out not as bad as you fear out in your woods...

    I'm in Northwest NC between Boone and Virginia. We've had light rain all day with no frozen precip. Almost no wind all day long, either. Looking at the radar, the ice belt extends all the way from Texas thru Delaware. No snow either and I'm at 3,000 ft elevation...


    Click on the map for a local radar view.

    E. Swanson

    It must be WWIII here on Lowgap Mountain in Northwest AR.

    Every 20-60 seconds there is a crack, bang and then a dump truck size load of Ice& limbs smashing to the earth, Painful & scares the hell out of the dogs as well. The tops of the Biggest oaks are coming down now. 8-16 inch snapoffs. Locus, Redbuds, softerwoods, etc, broken off by 2:00.

    Worse ice storm I have ever witness, Much worst than 1986, 2000, etc. Much of the Forest Canopy I'm afraid is
    on the ground.

    It will take days to cut a way out, & it's S T I L L Raining. Temp holding Freezing ± 3 degrees.

    Spent the day rounding up deep cycle batteries, PV chargers and wiring up Inverters. Check out the Number of Lines down in AR (Red lines vs Green)


    Unnecessary to say best hopes for Termites and Poison Ivy in 2009.

    Equally impressive/strange was the local temperature. Whem I retired last night, the temperature was about 33F. This morning, it had bumped up to 52 by 9 AM. The cold front is approaching and we are under a high wind advisory and the temperature is forecast to drop sharply by evening as the front passes.

    For all those skeptics about Global Warming, remember that this weather "event" is the result of very warm moist air pushing toward the polar regions which then collides with the very cold air which is returning from the Arctic. These flows are the opposing parts of the overall circulation and are the result of the fact that the Tropics have a surplus of solar energy relative to the Polar regions. As is always the case, one can not say with confidence that any one event is caused by AGW, but as more and more happen over the years, the statistical certainty increases that AGW is the cause.

    An ice storm which adds 3 inches to everything? An ice/snow storm which dumps precipitation all the way from Texas to Delaware at the same hour? How often has/does that happen?

    E. Swanson

    My thoughts are with you Airdale, good time to just "hunker in the bunker". Been through conditions like that up here. Looks like it's heading this way as well. This to shall pass.

    Last ice storm we had that bad, we had a local vvet lose it. PTSD, and the sounds of the exploding transformers and snapping tree limbs was just too much for him. He geared up and went out and started firing back. The noise is incredible and constant. The sun will come out, and spring will have a new look to it.


    Don in maine

    I'm awed at the utter resilience of your isp

    Hello TODers,

    It will be interesting to see how organic the UK can become postPeak:

    The Soil Association has set a target of 2050 for all UK agriculture to be organic to ensure food security and improve sustainability.

    ..The Soil Association's overall campaign goal is to make a rapid transition from a food production dependent on chemicals, global commodity markets and heavy use of oil, to a more resilient, localised, organic food and farming system powered by present day solar power, rather than one reliant on climate-damaging fossil fuels made from ancient sunlight.

    The association also has concerns over fertiliser. The production and use of artificial fertilisers globally are the largest single source of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more damaging than carbon dioxide, said the Soil Association.

    To make one tonne of artificial fertiliser takes 108 tonnes of water, emits 7t of carbon dioxide, and uses 1t of oil. Organic farming typically uses 26 per cent less energy to produce the same amount of food as non-organic farming, something that may help the bid for completely organic farming by 2050, said the Soil Association.
    If they hope to have any major postPeak success, I would suggest they heavily educate themselves on earlier Japanese methods of O-NPK recycling, as detailed in the Alan Macfarlane PDF. Building Spiderwebs to move O-NPK with zero to minimal FF-use is highly advised by me, too.

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

    Hello TODers,

    Greek Farmer Protest Causes Chaos

    Farmers in Greece have sparked fuel shortages and panic buying after blockading roads and border crossings in protest over low agricultural prices.

    ..The effects of the protest, which is in its ninth day, are starting to be felt across the country as trucks carrying produce are unable to refuel, causing tonnes of fruit and meat to rot.

    ..If the action continues, with no fuel for the lorries carrying supplies and no fuel for the ferries to bring the lorries across the sea, Zakynthos – and Greece itself – could be in real crisis.

    Hello all:

    Re: Fitch Affirms PEMEX's Ratings; Outlook to Stable

    Westtexas and Simmons peg Pemex as being a net importer end of '09, early '10. If I read the post right, Fitch says the decline is temporary and all is relatively well.

    Is Pemex rating shoppping or is there some data missing?

    Can someone square this circle for me?



    In round numbers, Mexico's total liquids production has fallen at about -5%year since 2004, with the year to year decline rate accelerating as the Cantarell crash kicks in. Last year's decline was about -10%/year.

    Consumption has been slowly increasing; however, the December consumption numbers were down versus 12/07.

    In any case, net exports have gone from 1.9 mbpd in 2004, to about 1.0 mbpd in 2008, and as expected the net export decline rate accelerated.

    My guesstimate, assuming some decline in consumption, is that future net exports look something like this (and I estimate that Mexico has already shipped about 80% of their post-2004 cumulative net oil exports):

    2009: 750,000 bpd
    2010: 500,000
    2011: 250,000
    2012: Zero


    Thanks for that. Seems reasonable considering the economic problems.

    What do you make of Fitch saying that reserve replacement will be at 100% by 2012?

    I know Cantarell is about to undergo an EOR program, but IIRC, the gains are expected to be modest, just slowing the decline.

    Something seems strange.



    Baby boom best bet to cure China's ills

    China recently became the world's third-largest economy, passing Germany to sit behind Japan and the United States. That economy is now in trouble, worsening the global financial crisis. What should China do?

    One counterintuitive suggestion: Have more children. A growing number of economists and China watchers argue that China's tough population control program is hampering the country's progress. Among the results: an aging population, a potential labour shortage and an excessive savings rate that distorts world finances.

    "Population is at the heart of long-term economic expansion," China scholar Derek Scissors writes in a paper for the Heritage Foundation, a U.S. think tank. "China is soon to leave what has been an extended demographic pattern supporting economic growth and enter a very different pattern entailing difficult policy choices."

    Short of a workforce? they can have the 1/3 million who arrive in the UK every year.

    Good grief. Talk about absolute commitment to the growth at any cost worldview.