DrumBeat: February 25, 2009

StatoilHydro plans more than 2-mth Snoehvit halt

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's StatoilHydro said on Wednesday that it would stop production at a processing plant for its offshore Snoehvit gas field in the Arctic in mid-August for at least two months and possibly around 80 days.

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant on Melkoya island outside of Hammerfest on Norway's far-northern coast has been beset by teething troubles since the start-up in late 2007.

Threat of oil spill menaces Russian Pacific island

The development of Sakhalin's energy industry has brought jobs and gleaming new business centres to this impoverished piece of Russia that used to be a prison colony in the 19th century.

It also promises to serve energy-hungry Asian economies, as underlined by the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant expected to send its first cargo to Japan next month.

But locals worry about the ecological impact on Sakhalin, a long and narrow island whose 800-kilometre (500-mile) length includes forests, taiga and rivers rich in salmon.

Iran tests its first nuclear power plant

BUSHEHR, Iran – Iranian and Russian technicians are conducting a test run of Iran's first nuclear power plant, officials said Wednesday, a major step toward launching full operations at the facility, which has long raised worried the U.S. and its allies.

Space Solar Power Crowd Bets on Obama

WASHINGTON - Advocates of using satellites to beam solar power from space to Earth hope U.S. President Barack Obama's campaign promise to develop alternative energy sources will help resurrect NASA's interest in the technology.

NASA has been without an official space solar power program since 2002, although a coalition of government and private industry volunteers has kept alive visions of demonstrating how the United States might one day draw energy from the sun and transmit it to Earth via microwave beams.

China ramps up subsidies for energy-efficient light bulbs

BEIJING (AFP) – China said it would subsidise the sale of 100 million energy-efficient light bulbs this year to cut energy use and pollution, double the number subsidised in 2008.

The move, also aimed at supporting bulb producers amid the global financial crisis, was announced by the finance ministry in a statement posted on its website late Tuesday.

Aspects Of The Post-Oil Community

One thing that will hit Americans rather hard in the future is the problem of “individualism” vs. “collectivism.” Americans are loners. If you put a group of Asians on a desert island, they will get together and build a boat. If you put a group of Americans on a desert island, they will start arguing about property rights. The weakness of individualism could be seen during the Great Depression of the 1930s: in those days, the average person was isolated, lost, and afraid. It was a “shame” to be poor, so one could not even discuss the problem with one’s neighbors. The news media and the government largely denied that the Depression existed, so there was little help from them.

Closely related to the problem of individualism is that of the lack of ideological unity. The basic premises of any major discussion seem to be absent. In a typical crowd of Americans, half will deny that any of the dozen aspects of systemic collapse even exist, and most of the other half will say, “Well, I believe . . .” and proceed to spout whatever Pollyanna nonsense their illiterate brains have been filled with. Of course, if politicians never say a word about overpopulation, resource consumption, or any other real issue, then how can the average American be blamed for mental laziness? Well, perhaps there’s something to be said for intellectual responsibility. Certainly no one can say that informative books aren’t available — a good collection can be put together, at a dollar apiece, by roaming the second-hand stores, since nobody seems interested in reading books these days.

U.S. gas drilling boom stirs water worries

HICKORY, Penn. (Reuters) - On a snowy hillside in rural southwest Pennsylvania, Larry Grimm drives his truck up a steep gravel track to a hilltop reservoir surrounded by orange plastic fencing and "keep out" signs.

The pond supplies water pumped from a local creek to the natural gas wells that are springing up throughout Mount Pleasant Township, where Grimm is the municipal supervisor.

Range Resources Corp, the Texas company that has drilled 68 wells in the township, needs millions of gallons of water for "hydrofracking," a process that forces a chemical-laden solution deep into the rock, allowing natural gas to be released.

Study: Antarctic glaciers slipping swiftly seaward

GENEVA – Antarctic glaciers are melting faster across a much wider area than previously thought, scientists said Wednesday — a development that could lead to an unprecedented rise in sea levels.

Bird Study Highlights Loss Of Wildlife Knowledge From One Generation To Another

Our ability to conserve and protect wildlife is at risk because we are unable to accurately gauge how our environment is changing over time, says new research in Conservation Letters.

The study shows that people may not realise species are declining all around them, or that their local environment may have changed dramatically since their parents' and grandparents' days, and even in their own lifetime.

Nigeria could triple LNG output if weathers crisis

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria could triple its output of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a few years if planned projects are not cancelled or delayed due to the global economic crisis, the head of Nigeria LNG Limited said on Wednesday.

Nigeria could add 40 million tonnes per year from the current 22 million tonnes should plans for Brass LNG, Olokola LNG and an expansion at NLNG follow through, said Chima Ibeneche, NLNG's managing director.

Shell Oil to invest up to $32 bln in world energy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shell Oil Co President Marvin Odum said on Wednesday the company will invest between $31 billion and $32 billion worldwide this year "to develop a broad portfolio of energies."

Opti Canada loss balloons

CALGARY — Oilsands company Opti Canada Inc. reported its annual loss ballooned to $257-million in 2008 from a year-earlier $9-million on a $392-million pretax asset impairment provision related to sale of a working interest in the Long Lake project to joint venture partner Nexen Inc.

Sasol declares force majeure at chemicals plant

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Petrochemicals group Sasol declared a force majeure on chemicals out of its Germiston plant in South Africa after a fire destroyed four tankers at the plant last month, the company said on Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Jacqui O'Sullivan said the investigation into the cause of the accident was still ongoing, but should be concluded shortly. The plant was still shut, she said.

Michael Klare - A Planet on the Brink: Economic Crash Will Fuel Social Unrest

Governments across the planet are preparing for a surge of violent protests from economic upheaval. Wars may follow.

The global economic meltdown has already caused bank failures, bankruptcies, plant closings, and foreclosures and will, in the coming year, leave many tens of millions unemployed across the planet. But another perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 has only recently made its appearance: increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Someday, perhaps, war may follow.

As people lose confidence in the ability of markets and governments to solve the global crisis, they are likely to erupt into violent protests or to assault others they deem responsible for their plight, including government officials, plant managers, landlords, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. (The list could, in the future, prove long and unnerving.) If the present economic disaster turns into what President Obama has referred to as a "lost decade," the result could be a global landscape filled with economically-fueled upheavals.

Climate Fears Are Driving 'Ecomigration' Across Globe

Adam Fier recently sold his home, got rid of his car and pulled his twin 6-year-old girls out of elementary school in Montgomery County. He and his wife packed the family's belongings and moved to New Zealand -- a place they had never visited or seen before, and where they have no family or professional connections. Among the top reasons: global warming.

Halfway around the world, the president of Kiribati, a Pacific nation of low-lying islands, said last week that his country is exploring ways to move all its 100,000 citizens to a new homeland because of fears that a steadily rising ocean will make the islands uninhabitable.

The two men are at contrasting poles of a phenomenon that threatens to reshape economies, politics and cultures across the planet. By choice or necessity, millions of "ecomigrants" -- most of them poor and desperate -- are on the move in search of more habitable living space.

Japan's crisis deepens as world stops buying

Exports collapsed by 46% last month with a spectacular dive in car purchases while the Japanese dip into nest eggs.

Saudi ships first crude to China Fujian refinery

DUBA (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has sent its first cargo of crude to an upgraded refinery in China's southeastern province of Fujian, the state oil firm Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday.

The Fujian Refining and Petrochemical Co. Ltd is a $5 billion joint venture between Sinopec, Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco.

Saudi Arabia overtook Angola to become the biggest oil supplier to China in 2008, accounting for a fifth of its supplies. China is the third-largest buyer of Saudi crude after the United States and Japan.

Aramco Acquires Final Strategic Storage Site

The FINANCIAL -- Saudi Aramco officially took control of the al-Qasim Strategic Storage Site recently with a ceremony for the signing of the initial delivery certificate.

DME may be benchmark for pricing Aramco oil

Saudi Arabia-based Aramco, the world's largest oil company, is closer to pricing its oil against the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) benchmark, according to a top exchange official.

...The onset of the credit crisis and the plummeting oil prices in 2008 served as a "catalyst" for DME to attract national oil companies to price their crude against the Oman contract.

UKRAINE: Between the Kremlin and a Hard Place

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Ukraine's internal political problems and tensions with Russia threaten its path to stability and its candidacy for NATO and the EU, warns a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) report.

The report, "Averting Crisis in Ukraine," analyses the country’s difficulties related to both domestic conditions, including its often disorderly politics, and foreign policy, such as issues related to Ukrainian and European dependence on Russia’s natural gas.

Mexico's Pemex Calls 170-Well Chicontepec Drilling Tender

MEXICO CITY -(Dow Jones)- Petroleos Mexicanos on Tuesday announced a 170-well tender for the Chicontepec oil region where Mexico plans to be pumping up to 700,000 barrels a day by 2017.

Mexico is aggressively developing Chicontepec, which spans three states in northern Mexico, to help offset declining production at the country's traditional oil fields.

Clean energy vital for economic growth and recovery

“We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead in the 21st century”, President Obama said promising to invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

But is it enough? Participants in January’s World Economic Forum in Davos concluded, for example, that clean energy investments of $515 billion per year is needed between now and 2030 for carbon emissions not to reach levels deemed unsustainable by scientists.

“Even with a huge increase in spending on energy alternatives it is highly unlikely that renewable, advanced biofuels, and climate safe coal will be available on large enough scale in 2030 to make up for what is likely to be an inadequate supply of oil and natural gas”, says Michael T. Klare, professor at Hampshire College in his article “Navigation the Energy Transition”.

How the Carbon Casino Pits Ecologist Against Ecologist

Robert Falls helped create the David Suzuki Foundation. Now he calls it an obstacle to restoring degraded ecosystems.

A collapsing carbon market makes mega-pollution cheap

'Roll up for the great pollution fire sale, the ultimate chance to wreck the climate on the cheap. You sir, over there, from the power company - look at this lovely tonne of freshly made, sulphur-rich carbon dioxide. Last summer it cost an eyewatering €31 to throw up your smokestack, but in our give-away global recession sale, that's been slashed to a crazy €8.20. Dump plans for the wind turbine! Compare our offer with costly solar energy! At this low, low price you can't afford not to burn coal!"

Oil's not well in Canada

When a nation cannot safeguard its citizens against freezing in the dark, nor control how much energy it exports, nor set the price at which citizens can buy back their own energy from foreign transnational corporations, it is not an energy superpower, it is an energy satellite.

"A colony or satellite is a people who lose control of their resources to a foreign power," according to Gordon Laxer, political economist and director of the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute. "Canada is prohibited from using its oil to supply half its citizens during international shortages. No other country is forbidden from using domestic resources to provide for its own citizens."

As citizens of a democracy, Canadians naturally expect their own government to put them first in any and all emergencies. "What are governments for if they're not going to do that?" Laxer wonders. "I think the Canadian government wants to focus on American energy security, not Canadian, because they see their interests not as protecting Canadians, (but) as being consonant with the corporate interest..."

Oil shortage emergencies are coming. The International Energy Agency's 2008 report states the era of Peak Oil is imminent. Once the current economic crisis is over, the world will begin experiencing a unending and worsening series of oil supply shocks.

Canada, alone among major industrialized countries, has stripped itself of its energy sovereignty and now faces a succession of severe crises.

Canada has no Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It exports 65 per cent of its oil and 59 per cent of its natural gas to the U.S. In 2007, it imported 50 per cent of its oil refinery needs, including a small amount of refined oil, from the U.S. Most of those imports come from unstable Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) nations such as Iraq and Algeria.

Oil above $40 as market digests Bernanke comments

VIENNA, Austria – Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel Wednesday after the Federal Reserve chief said U.S. banks will not be fully nationalized and that the U.S. economy may emerge from recession by year-end.

The rise in prices was kept in check, however, by a steady stream of grim economic news.

Venezuela to Propose March OPEC Cut, Rodriguez Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will propose that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries further cut output next month amid declining prices, Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez said today on Venezuelan television.

Venezuela, Iran and Iraq have all indicated that OPEC is prepared to cut production again when it meets on March 15. The group agreed Dec. 17 on output constraints that would reduce supplies in January by 2.2 million barrels a day from December levels. That followed pledges to remove 2 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter of last year.

Angola May Devalue Kwanza Within Six Months, Standard Bank Says

(Bloomberg) -- Angola may be forced to devalue the kwanza as the central bank becomes reluctant to drain foreign- exchange reserves to support the currency following the plunge in oil prices, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd.

The currency of Africa’s second-biggest crude-producing nation may weaken as much as 11 percent to 85 per dollar “over the next six months,” Michael Hugman, an emerging-market currency strategist at Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest lender, said in a telephone interview from London today.

Oil chiefs urge offshore drilling

WASHINGTON – Executives of the biggest oil companies are taking their case for expanded offshore drilling to Congress, even as Democratic congressional leaders and the Obama administration promise to put some limits on energy development along the nation's coasts.

The executives were testifying Wednesday before the House Natural Resources Committee. The panel previously heard from opponents to drilling and from officials representing the governors from a number of coastal states.

Opportunities Amidst Crisis

I am bullish on oil. Although I’m philosophically not very sympathetic to the peak oil theory, I think it’s a geological fact. Also, China and India and the other developing parts of the world don’t use a whole lot of oil now. As they develop, they will to want—and almost need—to use a lot more oil. That’s going to keep pressure up on the demand side. But the supply side actually finally is constrained, so it’s going to mean higher prices. In a depression-type environment, U.S. and Western oil consumption could drop a lot, but the third world would take up most of that slack. So I have to be bullish on oil.

Oil tanker escapes gunmen off Nigeria

Port Harcourt - Gunmen attacked a Russian oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria's volatile Niger Delta but the crew managed to steer the vessel to safety, security sources said on Tuesday.

Gunmen in speedboats attacked MV Katanga, chartered by a Murmansk-based company, about 20 nautical miles off Nigeria's southern state of Rivers on Monday in the latest act of piracy in the region.

Russia enters LNG market

At the inaugural event, Aso said Japan particularly valued the geographic proximity of gas and oil from Russia's Far East, compared with Middle Eastern sources. Japanese companies are now planning with Gazprom to launch the Sakhalin-3 project, envisaging exports of gas to Asian countries from 2020 onward.

Geographic proximity, however, is not necessarily synonymous with supply security if Russia is the source, as the experience at Sakhalin has demonstrated. In 2006 and 2007, Russian authorities compelled the Sakhalin-2 consortium partners to change the terms of their production-sharing agreement and also to cede part of their assets to Gazprom.

Iraq PM: Economy must diversify away from oil

BAGHDADv - Iraq's prime minister says if the country depends on revenues solely from oil it will be more vulnerable to financial crises around the world.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that Iraq will diversify its revenue streams by using funds from increased oil production to start new enterprises.

Obama's economic agenda: a timely review

By mandating insulation standards for buildings, and mileage standards for cars, we get some marginal energy savings and we get lots more investment opportunities. But in terms of long-term energy usage, or energy independence, an emphasis on energy-efficient cars represents a very misguided choice of priorities.

Support wanes for additional automaker aid

Just one-fourth of Americans think the government should continue lending money to Detroit automakers, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, even though the manufacturers say they'll go out of business without federal help

That's a huge, and fast, change of heart. In December, before the government approved emergency auto loans, the poll found that 61% favored some kind of government help.

"The more people understand what's wrong with General Motors, (GM) the less willing they are to support it," says Porter Stansberry, head of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research.

No excuse to not get on your bike, Brisbane residents told

BRISBANE city-fringe dwellers have been told to get on their bikes and stop making excuses.

International design and planning company EDAW has released a ``No Excuse Zone'' map of Brisbane, which urges residents living within a 9km radius of the CBD to ride bikes to work.

Three Mile Island re-licensing process continues

Midstate residents questioned whether Three Mile Island is safe and secure Tuesday as federal officials decide whether to renew the license for the nuclear power station.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a meeting at the Harrisburg-Hershey Sheraton to gather public comment on a draft report that is part of the re-licensing process for TMI's Unit 1. The unit is the only one that has operated at TMI since Unit 2 was crippled in a partial meltdown in 1979.

New wind regs are in the works

Natrona County's development department hopes to have better rewritten regulations about commercial wind farms presented to the county commission in three months, the department's director said Tuesday.

"We've got them scheduled about when wind regulations get to you," Blair Leist told commissioners at a work session. Commissioners do not make formal decisions during work sessions.

Leviathan Energy’s Wind Lotus in Action At Eilat Energy Conference in Israel

One product — the low-cost Benkatina Turbine, a hydroelectric turbine — is about to go commercial any month now in the northeast United States. “We are the first in-pipe turbine,” he says. “We are currently working on contracts for use in fresh and dirty water systems.”

Downturn may green oil patch, GE chief says

General Electric Co., which provides everything from financing to high-tech machinery to the global oil and gas industry, including Canada's oil sands, believes the crashing economy and reduced budgets in the oil patch will give green technology in the energy sector a boost.

GE's theory runs counter to conventional wisdom, which argues green issues will be put on the back burner as politicians focus on reviving the global economy and rescuing the world's financial system.

China's environment problems serious: minister

SHANGHAI (AFP) – China's environmental problems remain serious with local governments not putting enough pressure on businesses to control pollution, the nation's environment protection minister has said.

Efforts to toughen environment laws have not done enough to fix the widespread problems for China's air, lakes and rivers, Zhang Lijun said on Tuesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"The general situation of environmental pollution does not allow us to be optimistic," Zhang was quoted telling a national meeting on pollution control in Shanghai.

China Exports Made It World’s Largest Greenhouse-Gas Factory

(Bloomberg) -- China became the world’s biggest generator of greenhouse gases largely by making electronics, metals and chemicals for wealthier countries.

Export manufacturing comprised about half of China’s 45 percent increase in carbon-dioxide emissions from 2002 to 2005, the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research said on its Web site. Developed nations bought a majority of the goods, according to the Oslo-based group, which contributed to the study being published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Obama calls for carbon cap legislation

WASHINGTON, (AFP) – President Barack Obama urged Congress to draft legislation setting market-based caps on the emissions of carbon gases in a landmark move in the United States to combat global warming.

"To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy," Obama told lawmakers in his maiden speech to Congress.

Economic Crisis Complicates California’s Goals on Climate

COLTON, Calif. — Only a few years ago, CalPortland planned on keeping its plant here operating as long as Mount Slover’s limestone held out. For more than a century, Colton’s kilns and crushing machines have been churning out cement for the streets and buildings of Los Angeles.

But the company says the plant’s future is now uncertain. The recession has sent cement prices plunging, lowered profits and forced CalPortland’s drivers to cut back on hours. And the company says it faces new expenses: the cost of meeting California’s new requirements that manufacturers take steps to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.

Scientists find bigger than expected polar ice melt

GENEVA (AFP) – Icecaps around the North and South Poles are melting faster and in a more widespread manner than expected, raising sea levels and fuelling climate change, a major scientific survey showed Wednesday.

The International Polar Year survey found that warming in the Antarctic is "much more widespread than was thought," while Arctic sea ice is diminishing and the melting of Greenland's ice cover is accelerating.

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/AIG-may-abandon-asset-sales-rb-14461788.html
  • AIG says it won't sell assets after all.....because nobody wants to buy them. You know what that means? Daddy is coming to the rescue!

    American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG - News) may scrap a plan to repay a $60 billion U.S. government loan by selling businesses, after failing to find enough promising bidders, Bloomberg said, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

    After the US has given AIG and BofA, Citi $1/2 trillion.

    And this: Ukraine Ratings Cut to CCC+ by S&P on IMF Loan Risk (Update1) Bloomberg.

    Ukraine defaults any minute, buckle up.

    “The downgrades reflect intensifying execution risks associated with Ukraine’s arrangement with the IMF, due to the absence of broad political backing for necessary budgetary revisions and banking system reform ahead of the January 2010 presidential elections,” S&P said in the statement.

    Contracts to protect Ukraine’s government bonds against default cost 59.5 percent upfront and 5 percent a year, according to CMA Datavision prices for credit-default swaps at 11:40 a.m. in London. That means it costs $5.95 million in advance and $500,000 a year to protect $10 million of bonds for five years. The cost is higher than for any other government debt worldwide, Bloomberg data show.

    And then the Warsaw Pact nations and then Austria.

    Credit Anstalt anyone?

    If Ukraine defaults, what will be the results?
    Return of the Soviet Union?
    A new currency, or a new nation?
    Or, just a lot of poor, hungry people?


    Russia takes back the Ukraine after foreclosing
    on NATO which couldn't tote the note.

    Still a couple of squatters in the Ukraine
    "house" that haven't been removed.

    The first snowfall of the Kondratieff Winter:

    "I think the current crisis is even larger than Soros does. The current world monetary and financial system has grown over 600 years into fiat currency and fractional reserve banking via an inflationary credit expansion. The zenith was reached and a deflationary credit contraction has ensued and is intensifying. The tides have turned and what will likely result is a commodity currency and 100% reserve banking. The current system will not so much collapse as evaporate. Yes, it could take years or even decades or it could happen extremely quickly because of technological innovations."


    Except that I see gold falling from here. Too many
    lil ole ladies selling. And/or

    The US Empire is the and all be all now.

    The dollar must be strong or the Empire
    dissolved. Either/Or.

    As Russia has survived a collapse, I see it
    in the strongest position vis a vis the
    rest of the world.

    "As Vladimir Putin said, “I was in Beijing at the time [Georgia invasion of South Ossetia in 2008]. I looked through the world electronic media. Complete silence. As if absolutely nothing is going on. It was as if somebody ordered everyone to keep their mouth shut. To those who organized all this; I can only say congratulations. Congratulations. You did an excellent job. The only problem: your results were poor and this will always be the case because the work you do is unfair and immoral. In the long run immoral policies always lose.”

    I don't think Putin is in a position to preach about morality. Remember he is a man who's opponants have a tendency to disappear or wind up dead, even those living abroard. If his quote is true it's bad news for him.

    Heh, it feels like we're playing Post-Peak Musical Chairs, always one less energy chair than there are countries in the dance. Iceland, Ukraine, who's next?


    Border guards mutiny in Bangladeshi capital

    Heavy gunfire had broken out in the morning as enlisted men met with officers at the BDR's Dhaka headquarters, sending civilians fleeing and bringing a face-off with with troops and police.

    Bangladesh, an impoverished South Asian country of more than 140 million, has experienced several successful and failed military coups in its history, but disputes over pay and benefits apparently sparked Wednesday's clash, security officials said.

    It's still spreading:

    Bangladesh mutiny spreads beyond the capital
    The mutiny over pay started in Dhaka yesterday as rebels from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) took 100 hostages and siezed a shopping mall. But even as they surrendered after an offer of amnesty from the government, releasing 50 women and children, BDR troops began fighting in other towns.


    Denninger didn't like the speech or rebuttal last night. "FAIL FAIL FAIL".

    He also doesn't like the stimulus provisos, including Amtrak. Rarely do you hear him say much about oil, but this caught my eye this time:

    A 10% increase in funding for Amtrak, the perennial money-loser that not only doesn't turn a profit, it also doesn't run on time nor is it particularly useful. (I don't have a particular issue with subsidizing rail, provided we do it right - which means nuclear power for the energy and electrification of the rail system, so we kill two birds with one stone - we reduce road traffic AND eliminate the fossil fuel consumed moving those people and things around)

    I think on a good day TOD and Denninger could align goals.

  • http://market-ticker.denninger.net/
  • Denninger would have to wrap his mind around limits to growth first.

    He kind of understands that infinite growth is unsustainable, but can't quite make the jump to "maybe the free market isn't the best way to allocate limited resources." He thinks "jubilee" will fix it all. Wipe out all debt, and let everyone start over again.

    I don't think he understands that when your debt is to the resources of the earth, jubilee could wipe out centuries of population growth and billions of people.

    I agree, but I don't think he's in the camp of those who will refuse salvation, simply that he focuses on economics to a fault and dismisses the real-world factors that are outside of monetary policy. I know other economists (well, businessmen/MBAs who had some econ classes) who argue about policy and theory routinely, but believe that the fundamental laws of supply and demand will forever create new energy supplies and other resources.

    The funny thing is that history is replete with examples of resource limits, big and small, which drastically altered empires and populations.

    Probably the hardest point to "wrap your mind" around is that there are some problems that no market approach will resolve. Different countries will take different economic approaches, but none will work very well. It might not even matter much which system is used, in the long run. "Fairness" is notoriously hard to quantify, and really that's all the different market approaches can claim in terms of resource sharing.

    An unrelated thought: I wonder if Iceland won't end up being one of the best locations to live, long term? Crashing first has some obvious advantages, not least of which is clarity of thinking for the masses. It may well be that they'll get their priorities well in order while there are still world resources to help, rather than external forces to hinder, their recover.

    I agree, but I don't think he's in the camp of those who will refuse salvation, simply that he focuses on economics to a fault and dismisses the real-world factors that are outside of monetary policy.

    I dunno. I think it goes further than that. He bans people who start talking about resource limits, or suggest that free market capitalism isn't the only way.

    I also think he's wrongheaded to rant about the increase in domestic spending. That's the whole point of an economic stimulus plan, and feeding and housing the poor are hardly the worst ways to spend money. Yes, prices are falling due to deflation, but surely he understands that there will be a lot more people in need.

    I didn't know about the bans. That alone changes my view somewhat.

    I'm not convinced that poorly planned domestic spending is better than none at all, though. Many of the plans do little for those in need while propping up BAU. Doing nothing at all would likely be better.

    Just for the record it's not just resource limits that get you banned. If you appear to win an argument against him you also get hit, or disagree with him on environmental issues or other assorted thing. It doesn't take much. I got my account restricted to near uselessness with no decent explanations as to why.

    It’s a good site for news, but success has definitely gone to his head.

    ...and feeding and housing the poor are hardly the worst ways to spend money.



    ..wipe out centuries of population growth and billions of people.

    This is imminent regardless of what Obama, or anyone else, thinks or does. Populations that exceed the carrying capacity crash. Homo's population grossly exceeds the carrying capacity of the biosphere. This unprecedented population overshoot has been fueled by the potential energy of fossil fuels being converted to chemical & mechanical energy, with the net result being an enormous increase in human fecundity. Fossil fuels are rapidly being depleted, and the waste products of their oxidation are poisoning the atmosphere & surface oceans, degrading carrying capacity even further. The logic is inescapable. Anyone who fails to follow the logic is either stupid or self-deluded, or both.

    I think that depends on how much Homo is willing to continue degrading the biosphere. I know that there are limits, but I think that if we go to all out raping and pillaging of the biosphere, that there is still a lot of unallocated resources. Think of the entire Amazon and Congo basins being intensively farmed.

    Think of the entire Amazon and Congo basins being intensively farmed.

    Those soils won't support agriculture for more than a few years without heavy NPK amendments. All the nutrients are tied up in biomass. Burn the biomass & the ash infusion supports ag for 3 - 5 yrs tops. Then all you get is erosion. Deforestation of the Neo- & Paleotropics is hastening human population collapse, not postponing it.

    The key modifier is "intensively". If they use raised beds and large additions of organic matter, then they might be able to do something on a sustainable basis. Of course we are also talking about something small scale, like some of us do in our back yards.

    Those soils won't support agriculture for more than a few years without heavy NPK amendments

    Is it that you don't understand natural farming/permaculture, or just don't think people will transition to it? And how about reforestation via food forests?


    Anyone who fails to follow the logic is either stupid or self-deluded, or both.

    DD, I agree with absolutely everything you say in that post except that last sentence. People are not stupid, they are just average. After all, we are talking about all the people. And they are not self-deluded, they are just like the vast majority of people have always been, totally unaware of anything beyond their immediate circle of concerns.

    People are simply the way they are and no amount of railing about their stupidity or delusions will change them. This is the way Homo sapiens evolved. It served them well during all their evolutionary history, except today of course. In times past people never had to worry about the rest of the world, they simply had to worry about their immediate concerns of the day, food, shelter and protection from neighboring tribes.

    Nowadays people don't even have to worry about neighboring tribes so they only worry about their own personal economy and health. They simply assume that, for the world as a whole, the future will be pretty much like the past because that is the way it has always been.

    It is just human nature DD, nothing else. Some, like you and I, can see where overshoot is leading us and it scares the hell out of us. But don't think that just because you can see it that everyone else is stupid for not seeing it. That is simply their nature to behave in such a manner.

    Ron Patterson

    Self-delusion is not out of the question. What you label as human nature, Daniel Goleman (Vital Lies, Simple Truths) has labelled as self-deception, a social psychological process designed to prevent us from being overwhelmed.

    Thanks Ron.

    I've read so many of your posts that were spot-on.
    This is one of your best; clear, precise, and unfortunately, spot-on.

    Hmmm... Does willfully ignorant not = stupid, roughly? I mean people don't WANT to know and make no effort to know, even when faced with evidence.


    The free market is an efficient way to allocate scarce resources. The trouble is, the free market doesn't give a damn how many people die because no resources have been allocated to them.


    I know Amtrack is such an easy target but I'll pass along a report from the GAO about a year ago. It would have cost Amtrack less to fly all the passengers it carried from Florida to California during 2006 (?) then what it had cost to send them by rail.

    I know it's an extremely small part of the package but I think it does attest to the overall folly IMO.

    All transportation modes are subsidized. Some Amtrak runs are profitable. Our local transportation agency has tried to purchase the LA to San Diego route but they won't sell.

    FL to CA? I'm not suprised. The route would be awful and take several days, not helped by the fact I think the Crescent City Connection or whatever it is called that runs along the gulf coast is still out. I know it was in 2006. Not sure how they got around it...travel to Memphis or Jackson via Atlanta? Bus?

    Amtrak is only an easy target for the partisan hacks. When the same people start whining about the poor profit margins of the interstate highway system, I'll listen to them. The automobile is the big subsidy hog, not trains.

    Amtrak does not run trains from Florida to California for the purpose of transporting passengers from Florida to California, although some do ride that far, generally paying premium fares for the service. The direct train (an extension of LAX-NOL Sunset Limited service, which incidentally was dropped east of New Orleans prior to Katrina and has not returned) serves many markets in between, serving many small towns with no air service.

    Amtrak also has a new CEO, the first in many years with actual railroad experience (he comes from the Federal Railroad Administration) rather than transit experience. Amtrak has suffered under a string of CEO's who just didn't understand how to make money, instead they "cut costs" (i.e. revenue sources - trains) while maintaining the same bloated overhead. The new CEO, Joseph Boardman seems to understand this. The following from Trains Magazine is being widely circulated among rail advocates.

    Here is the original link, although you may have to be a subscriber to see it http://www.trains.com/trn/default.aspx?c=a&id=4642

    Partial quote follows:

    Published: Wednesday, February 18, 2009
    WASHINGTON - New Amtrak President Joseph Boardman says many Amtrak managers do not know whether to believe that Amtrak actually has a future, and that anyone who cannot make the transition from a survival mode to a growth mode will have to find another job.

    Boardman said in an interview that shortly after leaving the top spot at the Federal Railroad Administration last Thanksgiving to take over Amtrak, he discovered that the passenger rail system is in worse shape than he thought, and that some people in Amtrak headquarters in Washington are, in effect, burnout cases. He would not be specific about numbers, saying he has still made no final decisions about how many people will have to leave because they cannot make the transition from survival to growth.

    "There are a whole host of people here who don't know whether to believe," he said. "People are going to have to get on the train. We will make some judgments very soon."

    Among other things, Boardman found that despite growing passenger traffic, up about 12 percent in 2008, Amtrak's five-year plan in October contained no plans to order new passenger cars other than seven new high-speed trainsets, cars to lengthen current Acela trainsets, 15 new single-level sleeping cars, and some new baggage-dormitory cars. All other cars would have to be paid for by states that needed them for new corridor service, and perhaps ordered them through Amtrak. That secret plan, which had already become a joke around Amtrak, was thrown out quickly after Boardman arrived, and Amtrak is now making more ambitious plans

    IMHO, Amtrak has been doing it all wrong. They have been concentrating their efforts on these long-distance, cross-continental routes. That's right, compete head-to-head with the airlines, which can get a person to their destination in a fraction of the time, usually on-time instead of a day late, and for close to the same cost. Little wonder Amtrak has been on the verge of going belly up.

    A better model: Concentrate on shorter routes between cities. Run several trains per day between pairs of cities. When you count total door-to-door transport time, rail has the potential of being much more competitive against air - IF the trains run frequently enough. If you are going from city A to city B, though, and the train comes through once a day in the middle of the night, several hours late, then forget it, hardly anyone will be interested in that kind of passenger rail service.

    As they successfully bring more and more pairs of cities into strong operation, you will see a network emerge. If someone wants to take the train for a longer distance, then they will have to make a series of hops rather than just riding one train from start to finish. They may need to stay overnight at a "station hotel" somewhere along the way.

    To my way of thinking, this is a much more robust way to build a passenger rail system.

    Agreed with all you just said.

    I would like to add: provide an easy way to get from the destination Amtrak to the local airport...so the first part of the trip can be by rail and the last part by air. And shut down small regional airports.

    There is an interesting inter city rail plan over at Transport Politic. Most of the links are quite short. And the discussion of how it could be phased in is also very interesting.


    Yes, regional and suburban trains are great. Maybe not the most comfortable way of transportation, but it become a lifeline for many in Russia. See Elektrichka.

    I know you're just relaying Denninger's thoughts on this but I think the Amtrak bashing is a bit annoying.

    I'm currently on field assignment about 300 miles from home - tomorrow my girlfriend is taking Amtrak to visit me for the rest of the week and the weekend. She currently does not own a car and we're lucky enough to be at separate points along an Amtrak line (both departure and destination).

    Last time we tried this her train was over two hours late due to weather delays (I never even knew this was possible - but high winds were causing big problems with signals etc.). But you know what... I got to spend time with her sooner than I would have otherwise - thanks to Amtrak (I know, I know - she could always take the bus - but I do that quite a bit and wouldn't want to subject her to a bus ride of that length...)

    Rail apparently glides away with $8 billion. http://tiny.cc/TEJBc

    San Francisco: A no-newspaper town?

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- The San Francisco Chronicle is in danger of being sold or closed if it doesn't stop bleeding millions, officials said Tuesday, putting the city at risk of becoming the first U.S. metropolis without a major daily paper.

    I'll be sorry to see this one go if it dies. They have very good energy and environment coverage.

    As a little boy, I had several SF Chron paper routes. They've been in the process of dieing since I've learned to read. Yet here they are.

    Maybe they go bankrupt, but they'll still be around for a while. The sfgate.com is still an excellent source of the news and opinions of the paper. Frankly, it's the paper that's killing them. I know a lot of older people like to hold a paper and spread it around, but to me, it's just another environment disaster process that has long outlived its usefulness. That, and delivering the mail six days a week are gas hog enterprises that could be cut deeply and not materially affect daily life.

    OK so the Chron is the same people as sfgate. That clears it up for me.

    The Christian Science Monitor went to all-web, it may be just fine for the Chron to.

    Anyone who lives here in the Bay Area knows there are weeklies, non-English newspapers, free or cheap from the stands. So no one will be at a loss for newsprint. And I think their readerships are pretty young, ranging up to the old folks.

    The only trouble is, when the Internet goes away, let's hope some of us are ready to start printing "broadsides" of our locla news and gossip again! The job of "printer's devil" will return.

    Re: Oil is not Well in Canada.

    If oil is not well in Canada, then oil is not well in the US.
    Canada is the number 1 supplier of oil to the US - 2.5 million barrels per day - about 20% of US imports come from Canada.
    More than Saudi (1.5 mbpd), Mexico (1.4 mbpd), Venezuela (1.2 mbpd), Nigeria (0.8 mbpd).

    What happens to the US when Mexico goes to zero, and Canada decides to keep more oil ?
    Can Saudi make up the difference? IMO - No way!

    In terms of supply, it is just as much USA oil as Canada oil. Assuming your purchasing power is similar, you should actually get/use more of it as your taxes on gasoline are lower.

    No problem.
    America will issue a New Declaration of Independence (from Energy):

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the thermodynamic constraints which have connected them with Nature, and to assume among the powers of the Universe, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to such separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident , that all men are created delusional, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Independence from Energy. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted,deriving their just powers by denying those of Nature, --That whenever any Form of Non-negotiable Lifestyle becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish the Laws of Nature, and to institute new and more convenient Truths, laying their foundations on such principles and organizing their powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Perpetual Growth and Unbounded Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Rules of Physics long ago established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to enjoy and procreate, while pleasures and good times are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the unsustainable forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of economists and usurpers of rationality ensue, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Delusionalism, it is the right of the People, it is their duty, to throw off such Rules, and to provide new Guides for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Consumers and retail shoppers; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Thermodynamics. The history of the present King of Earth is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations against Nature, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these truths. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid but still in denial world as set forth below.

    Obama’s full of sh*t (though he has some interesting points)
    “But we are committed to the goal of a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”

    From his speech to congress. Transcript: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/24/politics/main4826494.shtml?sou...

    Karl Benz invented the automobile and he was German

    Funny, I heard the speech and that one jumped out at me also. Obama is just an amazing speaker/salesman. IMO he is stronger than Bill Clinton. One of his major strengths is that he is very skilled at making it appear that he is being realistic and truthful, while being neither. Bush was transparent-this guy is like a maze.

    Obama is just an amazing speaker/salesman.

    No he isn't. His pep rally style, nationalistic jingoism, rhetoric of bold assertion, appeal to populism ("I get it..."), etc., is puerile. Pure political theater. If the American people eat it up it merely demonstrates their stupidity.

    Obama said that by 2020 every American will have four years of college education. Today, with few exceptions, pretty much every American has at least a 10th grade education. What Obama is saying is that by 2020 the Bachelors degree will be the equivalent, in academic rigor, of having made it thru the 10th grade.

    He doesn't even know history, as his mistake about where the automobile was invented shows.

    But the worst thing is that he's clueless about the energetic issues, and their ecological implications, the world faces. Which means he doesn't understand thermodynamics. It's becoming increasingly clear that Barak Obama is an idiot. This is the guy we allowed to sweet talk us into electing as President. We're fucked.

    The only man who could possibly make a difference as president would be Ron Paul.

    Dennis Kucinich...


    The only candidate who was peak oil aware, ACC aware, believed in fiscal responsibility, but didn't believe in the magical free market, and was willing to tell it like it is.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake in US electoral history to not make him president.


    vegan, too.

    I almost forgot: a strong Constitutionalist, too.

    Couldn't have ranted it better myself.

    However I am glad you did and I didn't.

    We are on the same page and in the same book.

    I love the smell of angst in the morning light.

    Airdale-prepare for incoming

    Obama - " My fellow Americans, fear not for you are all still RICH, or pre-rich."

    "...and I promise to resolve the financial crisis using all the same old systems that got us into this mess to begin with.”

    “I have surrounded myself with the all of the finest bankster gambler minds who were complicit it designing this catastrophe to make sure that they misdirect the funds into saving theirs and their friends asses at the expense of the taxpayer even though the core banking system that America needs to survive will be adversely affected.”

    “Rest assured we can get right back to where we were before all this happened…aaahhh…only greener and without the high gas and diesel prices”

    The last thing we need is to send all of our young adults off to party for four years.

    What we DO need is for people to finish their 12th year of schooling, and to finishing it having been educated to a level that is comparable and competitive with the twenty-some countries that have been doing a better job at it than we have for the past several decades.

    AFTER we have accomplished this, we need to make it possible for those who really have proven themselves capable of cutting it academically to go on to higher ed. This may be anywhere from 5-10% of the population on the low range, to maybe 20-25% on the top range. No way can we possibly afford to have everyone go to college. For those that don't make the cut, we should make a range of vocational training options available. Community colleges do a good job of this.

    What we DO need is for people to finish their 12th year of schooling..

    Neither me or my two sons finished high school. Doing so is a waste of time. Drop out, get involved in the real world. If college appeals get your GED, which is ludicrously easy to do. These days, IMO college is a waste of time likewise. A young person should apprentice him- or herself with an experienced farmer, blacksmith, carpenter.. someone they can learn practical skills from. Formal education means nothing anymore.

    "Neither me or my two sons finished high school. Doing so is a waste of time."

    how would you know ?

    By comparison of competency with those who have finished high school?

    In the quotefest the other day someone had a quote:

    “...democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.” (Isaac Asimov)

    So, society has come up with a way of measuring the worth of someone. Resumés and accredited institutions. It's agreed upon that these institutions have repeatable results. So you go to one, and get the stamp of approval, put it on your resumé and trot it out. In this way you can take a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and go anywhere in the country to make the best of it. You can't, however, take a stay as an apprentice with Bobert Smith in appalachian engineerin' and expect to get a job anywhere outside a 2 mile radius from Bobert's fixin' shack. You may very well be quite capable, but it's not going to have a "tested and trusted" seal to back it up.

    A college degree is the new high school diploma. With all of the pressure to pass every single student what's happened is that rather than bringing the level of the students up...they've brought the level of passing down. So the college degree, or even just a few years of, have become a symbol of having a basic level of education. How else could there be so many AP courses and college credit courses offered in high school? The level has simply dropped so low, that those who actually wish to learn skip right over high school and move into college because college has come down to high school levels, and high school has reached the level of a cruel joke.

    These days, IMO college is a waste of time likewise.

    Waste of time for some. Financial trap for others.

    I have to agree with darwinsdog's sentiment. Having the degree means you stuck something out. And in some cases not having the degree blocks some forms of future employment. However in the long run a college degree guarantees nothing and is current for some short period of time, say 5-10 years.

    I finished high school. I didn't go to college. I did spend some time in the Navy. I didn't have a big student loan to service. And I distinctly feel that education is a life-long process that neither starts at kindergarten nor ends at university. And if IRC only 20% of all jobs require degrees. So planning for a non-degree education is essential. But I preach to the choir...

    From wikipedia, a little reality on college as a "waste of time" or "financial trap". Unemployment among those with advanced degrees is also a tiny fraction of unemployment among high-school dropouts.

    "In 2003 average incomes ranged from $13,459 for a female high school dropout to $90,761 for a male with an advanced degree. The most significant average income increase was between those who had some college education or an Associates degree and those who had a Bachelor's degree. While the former averaged $31,046 for both sexes the latter averaged $51,194, over $20,000 (64.9%) more. The second most dramatic increase in average income was between those with a Bachelor's degree with $51,194 and those with an advanced degree who made $72,824, roughly $21,000 (42.2%) more. The least significant difference was between those who had graduated from high school and those who had either some college or an Associates degree. Here the difference was a mere $3,766 or 13.8%. The difference between those with a high school diploma ($27,280) and those who did not complete high school ($18,826) was $8,454 or 45%."

    Wikipedia is based on BAU. People here do not expect BAU to continue.

    I finished high school and have a college degree, but if I were a teenager now, I would not go to college.

    I do not expect BAU to continue, but I think college is a good investment (my children are attending).

    I don't pretend to know what the future holds, but knowledge and skills have been useful over the millenia and I don't expect that to change. But the claim that college education currently "does not matter" has no foundation in fact. My guess is that educated people will be more likely to accumulate tools and assets.

    What kind of education is a better question than whether to educate.

    My guess is that educated people will be more likely to accumulate tools and assets.

    My guess is that will only hold true if they don't go into debt to get their educations.

    My dad is the only one of his siblings who has a PhD. He's also the poorest. His brothers, who didn't even go to college, are wealthier than he is because they worked and earned money all the years he was in school, not to mention avoided student loans. (Part of it was also luck - they bought their homes earlier, when the real estate market was still cheap.)

    I agree that incurring debt for education is usually a mistake. Direct costs at state universities are still a bargain (no comparision for 50K a year private colleges). One new SUV will buy 4 years of state tuition.

    I think the issue here is that there are many different definitions of "college".

    Living at home and going to a state school is completely different from going to a private school and living at the dorms. Getting a job and going to school part time is also different.

    But, you never know how life will turn out. Look at Sharon Astyk. I think she got a PhD in literature or something, and now she's living the subsistence agriculture life. Does that mean that the PhD was a waste? I don't know.

    I wouldn't buy a new SUV, either.

    And you see articles like the one I posted yesterday, about people with degrees and years of experience in electrical engineering and such, who can't get a job and are instead cutting hair.

    Of course kids do what they want, by the time they are college-age. But if it were me, I think I'd use the money to set myself up in a business, rather than for college.

    What the college education buys you is options.

    A college degree does not disqualify you from working as a barber or welder, but there are jobs out there that require higher math or other skills that are only taught in colleges.

    Even if civilization falls to pieces a knowledge of history and a few odd practical skills that may have been picked up along the way would give the college educated an edge. They can't take your skills away.

    They can't take your skills away...but you don't need a college degree to acquire skills.

    Formal education means nothing anymore.

    Irony Alert (above was written on the Internet). As someone who spent more than 2 decades designing data storage and transfer systems (upon which the Internet completely depends), I can say that the people who designed/built/maintain the communication systems upon which we all depend had plenty of formal education and it means a lot to them. High-tech companies manufacture in Asia largely because of the strength of formal education in Asia. When I was training techs in Singapore I asked how many had completed calculus and everyone raised their hand.
    People who don't know an integral from a derivative are substantially less useful in technology and the percentage of people who "informally educate" themselves in math and physics is infinitessimal.

    I have worked with those educated in "The Labs" -- Bell Labs, Los Alamos, etc. -- as well as those with BS, MS, and Ph.D's, and those with a high school diploma or GED. For technical tasks, few rise to the levels needed without formal training, and those who came up in a culture of advanced learning and forward thinking (like Bell Labs) are a cut above. Long after Vista is a lingering bad memory and your current cell-phone has been recycled 3 times over, you'll still be able to plug a touch-tonee Bell phone into the wall and still make a call. In a few areas an even older WWII-vintage rotary will still work.

    That's not to say that you have to have a PhD to be a great engineer, as some of the sharpest I've known barely got a BS, but they got it (the degree) and "got it" (understood the material), whereas some seem to get a PhD and have little utility in "the real world".

    Certainly there are superb machinists, assemblers, and foremen, not to mention company owners, who don't have a technical background that do just fine and are an asset to their employers. In fact, I solicit those types as part of my team whenever I can. There is no substitute for a 20-year veteran field tech or operations foreman and a seasoned production line lead when you're building something new with a staff of specialized experts -- somebody has to know how the customer will install and use the sucker, and to point out non-technical design features/flaws that are more common-knowledge. Rain falls, lightning strikes, idiots maintain, and accidents happen eternally, and your great new techno-whiz product will fail from the same problems that plagued the one your grand-dad first bought if you ignore accumulated wisdom.

    I think part of our problem is there is too little respect for applied genius and too much for a piece of paper, too much for a warm body and too little for a clever mind, too much for youthful vigor and too little for seasoned wisdom, and too much for a mindless service job and too little for one that gets you dirty making things work.

    Ahhh! What a great rant! I feel better already!

    Niiiice Platitudes =D

    For HS as it is now, you are right - it IS a waste of time. So is college, for the most part, except perhaps in science and engineering programs at the very elite institutions.

    That is not the way it must be or should be. As I said, there must be about twenty or so countries that are evidently doing a better job at it than we are, if test results are comparable and mean anything. Given my observations comparing the Americans with non-Americans that I encounter, I would tend to give considerable weight to those test results. Americans are not stupid, they have just been made to appear that way through the poor performance of our educational system.

    Schooling isn't about education, it's about inculcating tolerance of oppression in children, so that they will tolerate being oppressed in the workplace later on. The best hearts and minds realize this early on and either resort to passive-aggressive resistance or tune out what passes for instruction altogether, until they can manage to physically remove themselves from the institute of oppression called school, usually around age 16.

    School hindered my education because it took time out from my reading and from my time spent outdoors. I don't recommend it regardless of paradigm: BAU or collapse, either way formal education is a waste of time. After I got out of the army I got my GED, went to college on the GI bill, and since that time seems like I've collected degrees like the young Darwin collected beetles. And what do I have to show for it besides diplomas that don't even make good asswipe? I understand the incentive that some have for justifying the time & $$ they've spent in school. Admitting to themselves that that time & money has been wasted is a blow to self-esteem. So defend your schooling all you care too, people. It only shows me that your inculcation of tolerance of oppression "took."

    "I never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain

    Well, different people learn different ways, so I don't think it's one size fits all. Some people can probably learn valuable things on their own, some not. It also depends on what you are trying to learn. If we are going to try nuclear power on a large scale, I think we should do it with people with degrees.

    I seriously wonder if we'll be able to maintain that level of education.

    Look at how states are dealing with budget cuts now: shortening the school week and/or the school year. How long do you think those "cheap" state colleges are going to be cheap, or even around? The NY Times reported that faculty are bailing out of four-year colleges to community colleges, because it's seen as more secure, if lower-paying.

    Some southern states in the US have an adult illiteracy rate of 40%. No, not because southerners are inherently less intelligent. Because they spend less on education.

    Nuclear engineering? I think we're going to have trouble maintaining literacy.

    I think literacy has more to do with culture than money, to an extent. If you are starving, reading doesn't take high priority. But if you have basic subsistence levels met, teaching your kids to read doesn't require much money, just time. Having the state teach them to read is much more expensive, so if you absolve yourself of the responsibility, then it might not happen.

    State schools are tricky. They have lots of highly paid professors who don't even teach, which seems like a waste, but research is important, too (at least some of it is). I think that state schools will have to start conforming to more like what a market would demand, i.e. tailor what they offer to what people want to take, and allocate funds according to where tuition comes in.

    I guess I think that education will have to get more focused, and the days of sending lots of kids to four years of liberal arts education before they figure out what they want to do may come to an end.

    Having the state teach them to read is much more expensive, so if you absolve yourself of the responsibility, then it might not happen.

    I think the knowledge of how to teach reading is largely lacking. I was given a dog eared (to put it mildly) book by my sister (Dy-something or other method), an obsolete -but very effective method. With a couple of months of bedtime exercises with the kids they were all reading within a couple of months at age 4. The elementary teachers were amazed, and asked to look at the book -apparently the modern methods must be vastly inferior (this thing was pseudo phonetic, they spelled things wrongly early on to make it easier, then gradually corrected the spelling as you progressed). I suppose the modern theory must be to never teach wrong things via phonetic misspellings, but it worked great. Their young minds were not picky about gradual changes to the spellings of familiar words. Trying to find out how to teach reading is the key.

    I agree with what Amory Lovins frequently has to say about advanced ed;


    An intelligent person who immerses himself in all the available material can, in about 6 months, learn as much or more about a given subject as a top university professor.

    Just no sheepskin.

    "Nuclear engineering? I think we're going to have trouble maintaining literacy."

    That is really, truly sad if that comes true. Recall the legend [or fact? I can't remember now] of Abe Lincoln walking ten miles to borrow a book, then to read it by firelight, or during the resting periods between chopping wood or splitting rails.

    His standard of living and amount of free time was much, much less than the present day 'Murkans who are totally illiterate, or barely literate, yet he purposely found the time to educate himself. Thus, I would conclude that a grown, native born adult in the present USA that hasn't learned to read, at least at a rudimentary level, is just extremely lazy and unmotivated [allowance made for those with severe mental learning disabilities and/or mental impairment].

    There are libraries close to virtually every citizen, and free reading material is still plentiful, besides countless books available for mere cents at yard sales. The mind boggles at trying to visualize a person who would purposely NOT seek these sources out. Hell, you could probably learn to read from an old, discarded phone book if you were dedicated enough like old Abe.

    If there is a growing cultural tradition to shun reading, writing, and arithmetic-->this would be a national tragedy. If 'Murkans ever decide to riot: they would be better off burning their TVs and Video Games than burning libraries and bookstores.

    This ranting against formal education strikes me as - ignorant.

    "Elite institutions" What hogwash.

    Stanford chose me as one of thirty people for their Chemistry Ph.D. program precisely because I didn't come from a big-name fancy-pants school. My advisor told me that they look for students who come from small, private, undergraduate institutions, because that's where they get the "personalized grooming" (his words) needed to develop the kind of abstract thinking which drives the creativity they prize so highly.

    I moaned for years about my engineer-buddy who did a one-year Master's and then started earning the big bucks while I spent six years on my degree. I never "caught up" to him, by that simple measure, but I have something else. My mother, an educator, described engineers like my dear old friend as suffering from "tunnel intelligence," a characteristic of which is a distinct lack of interest, concern, or even respect for learning outside his general field.

    To my hopelessly old-fashioned way of thinking, there is no such thing as wasted knowledge.

    Comments by the aggressively ignorant notwithstanding, there are actual, tangible benefits that have accrued to me vis-a-vis my friend, like knowing when to punt, for example. I retired and am now completing a lifeboat, while his net worth - still in the millions - has fallen by half (so far). And still his only perspective is that of the large house in an expensive neighborhood, with lots of paper assets and absolutely no physical ones at all. No land, no water, no neighbors, nuttin'. A couple years ago I begged him to at least get some bullion coins for the safe-deposit box, but he couldn't be bothered.

    Continuing education is not the feature of BAU that has outlived its usefulness - it's this "whoever dies with the most toys wins" mentality. Money is a lousy way to keep score, even though it does indeed correlate strongly with education. But how do you teach or put a price on VISION?

    Grad programs want prospective students to think that they're highly selective when the truth is they're desperate for warm bodies that bring in funding. Your elitist pride in having been accepted at Stanford doesn't impress anyone who has gone thru a similar program.

    Elitist Pride?

    Come on.. you can give us that one in Latin, no?

    fyi, no chem grad student at stanford has ever paid a nickel or even sought their own grant for their program. they paid me, in fact.

    fyi, no chem grad student at stanford has ever paid a nickel or even sought their own grant for their program. they paid me, in fact.

    Of course. I had a tuition waiver & stipend in grad school too, plus RA & TA support. You can bet that our respective departments took in way more for having us there than we ever saw.

    Nice post, Nelsone.

    "..couldn't be bothered." (to prepare) That phrase really catches it, for me. Even with friends and family who really agree about the looming problems of energy, climate, resources, at least in general terms.. actually changing course and putting some attention, time, money into shielding against the likely upshots of it all is just too much.

    I won't dismiss education at all, while I know many who took other routes.. I'm glad for a BA, but I didn't feel the need to take the formal part any farther. But for those who call devoting time and effort to advanced degrees a wasted or useless endeavor. That's a shame. It's gonna take all sorts.


    The generalization that engineers suffer from what you describe as "tunnel intelligence" strikes me as ignorant.

    Good day.

    It was relaying a statement by his mother, and who qualified it as 'engineers like his dear friend' .. so I think it was qualified pretty well away from 'all engineers'. That said, there is surely an issue of people in any number of specialties who can be at a loss in the broad view.

    Hi Bob,

    In a former life, I co-authored a proposal by a major Canadian financial institution to the World Bank (we were bidding on a tender to provide guidance and technical support to a Russian bank under a multi-year services contract). The deal was that senior staff from each of the various departments involved would provide the basic building blocks and I would give the document its structure and ensure stylistic consistency. Bear in mind, I'm not especially gifted when it comes to punctuation and grammar, I had no previous experience along these lines, and words don't exactly flow from my fingertips like the mighty waters of the Amazon so, needless to say, I was scared sh!tless. In any event, what I soon discovered is that these people, arguably some of the brightest minds in their respective fields, are functionally illiterate. I was truly horrified and couldn't imagine how anyone could advance that far in their career without the ability to communicate at even the most basic level -- no coherent thought, sentences that ran on like James Michener novels and such appallingly bad grammar and spelling that I would stare at the page in complete disbelief. I don't say this with an air of superiority, 'cause God knows I'm in no position to cast stones, but I do marvel at the paradox.


    I don't know, but if you feel comfortable relying on an electrical grid designed by dropouts or will cross a bridge designed by home-schooled DIYers, let me know.

    Frankly, I find your opinion about education to be ego-centric. I might only be using 10% of what I learned in engineering school, but it's the important 10%.

    School isn't just about rote learning, it's also about refining a school of thought and principle so that we can advance ourselves and our technologies. No, its not for everyone...

    "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." - Mark Twain

    The international results on schooling (PISA and national assessments, etc. ) are definetly solid. Minor ‘cheating’ does exist (e.g. lobbying to have a math question transformed to better suit ‘the culture’!; getting some poor students to stay home on the day..) but only a few countries, some of those who are proud of their educational attainment indulge and in pretty much comes out in the wash. The results, however, need to be:

    seen in absolute terms and not in rank

    matched / compared to some kind of aim or desired outcome (e.g. over-education?)

    and carefully interpreted.

    The US’ results K-12 are so low (abysmally low in fact) for reasons to do with, and not in order; school funding system, teacher training, immigration, cultural values (anti-teacher, anti-education, can-do: as several posts here show.) For comparisons at the very end - post 3-4 yr college, the US does not badly at all. The US education system is not ‘poor’ (in these international comparisons terms) it is draggingly slow, and incredibly expensive. The US (and this actually follows on) thus stands out because of its extraordinary variation in outcome (huge sigmas.) Levels of illiteracy and innumeracy are high... and the top 20% is well-educated...which shows that averages are not terribly useful.

    You may or may not be right about Obama. But I can be sure about one thing - you're not going to convince or lead by telling people how stupid they are.

    - you're not going to convince or lead by telling people how stupid they are.

    I neither seek to convince or to lead. I just call it as I see it.

    "I just call it as I see it."

    Please continue, as I'm much enjoying it!

    Which, I suppose, is the point. For Obama is now President and you're here trading stories with the rest of us loonies. ;-)

    If you expect to see stupidity, then you will. It is abundant as air and even cheaper.

    Remember to keep your eyes open for that which you do not expect to see.

    Barack Obama definitely has been a disappointment to me...although I didn't have such high hopes in the first place since the problem of energy is insurmountable. He is all image and high polish, looks very good in a suit but that may be all. A president from central casting, with a wife who spends a lot of time thinking about her wardrobe. They may be more similar than we know.

    Why don't y'all over there get a parliamentary system like we've got over here in Japan? Look, we get a guy in who's called the Prime Minister. He starts out with all kinds of rhetoric, fanfare, tough talk....same as in your system. He looks mighty fine for a few days, then the problems (usually having to do with underlying energy fundamentals covered over in the clothing of the economic system) rear their ugly heads and the new guy is promptly dumped into the garbage after people see nothing but failure. A new election is called which allows everyone to look busy for a few weeks while the different parties hold meetings and press conferences and make stupid comments and faux pas which, by the way, the press here makes their living on---and which serve here as entertainment. A new guy elbows his way to the front of the line and the process is repeated----usually the cycle takes about 7 months...NOT 4 YEARS!!

    We get absolutely nowhere but we are distracted as hell (well, OK I personally am not) and we don't have to spend 4 years with each guy while we fall into despair as many Americans did with Bush.

    Despair is something that transcends politics though.....wait until Obama himself starts to despair. Yes, that will be interesting. BTW He became a candidate way before the "financial crisis" started....I really think he had no idea.

    He did not say everyone will have a college degree by 2020. He put forth the goal of having the highest percentage of college grads by 2020. I don't agree that that is a worthy goal. What college grads have done is find ways to produce goods and services using fewer people than the year before. Also the reason that only half of those who start college actually earn a degree is because we allow too many kids to start. We need technicians more than we need engineers. It used to be that hospitals trained nurses of 3 different types but now we insist on having R.N.s doing everything from administering meds to changing sheets and needing a master degree to do it. Why do we need advanced degree teachers to instruct first graders? What used to be done with apprenticeships now needs time set aside for English 101 at a community college.

    I am not impressed with Obama as a speaker. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I've never been impressed with his speaking. Bush was gawd-awful, of course; compared to him, everyone looks good. But compared to the gifted speakers we've had as president - Clinton, Reagan, Kennedy - Obama strikes me as pretty mediocre.

    I've been giving him a grade of B. You are right - OK, but not great. I don't think that he has yet given a speech that people will be reading and quoting from 100 years from now.

    Last night's speech sounded like a campaign speech to me. Lots of pep talk, broad goals, few specifics, and a few meaningless errors to please the right-wing pundits.

    When I hear Congress working on Glass-Steagal II then I will believe we're making better decisions at the national level.

    Edit: Well, maybe there is a glimmer of hope after all, in Obama's Weds comments?

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass strong financial sector regulation and oversight to prevent future crises and restore "accountability, transparency and trust in our financial markets."

    In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday afternoon, the president offers no specific regulatory framework, but calls for "core principles." Among them are consumer protections, accountability for executives and a regulatory plan that covers a broad series of financial transactions that have escaped regulation in the past.

    Holleee Cow. ;)
    Not only is BO human after all but the TODers are killing the golden calf of education as well.
    Virtually every post on this site that offers some hope of mitigation or mediation of the certainty of Peak Oil have pinned those hopes on EDUMACATION!
    But now we find "diplomas don't even make good a$$wipe"

    We have entered strange times indeed.

    Anyhow, since we're also talking speeches here and normality seems somewhat disjointed let me toss in this one.

    Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done. I thank the Congress for its leadership at such an important time. All of America was touched on the evening of the tragedy to see Republicans and Democrats joined together on the steps of this Capitol, singing "God Bless America."

    Regardless of what you think of the man, in my memory, this speech by GWB was something I needed to hear then.

    Not me. The way the nation was hungry for war right away to kill people who already had committed suicide was just stupid. Why are we in Afghanistan today? Oh yeah, its a rite of passage for dying empires to invade that country.

    Yup. To coin a phrase, "Where's the beef?"
    Obama: No beef, dammit! Pom-poms! Yes, we can!

    To coin a comedy routine I don't know the origin of:

    Obama: You remind me of a people!
    People: What people?
    Obama: The people with the power!
    People: What power?
    Obama: The power of voodoo!
    People: Hoodoo?
    Obama: You do!
    People: Do what?
    Obama: You remind me of a people!
    People: What people?...

    Repeat ad infinitum.

    Benz is credited with the "invention"
    But credit goes to Ford for the mass production and perfection of the automobile with its gasoline powerplant. The early American car companies then colluded with Standard oil so Rockerfeller should also get some "credit". Those two men are the "founding fathers" of our current automania.

    One could argue that Benz invented a sort of "horseless carriage" for rich people to play with. Ford invented the car as we know it - mass produced and affordable - leading to our sense of automobile "entitlement", pollution, and thousands of deaths per year.

    If you want to call that "credit" - some might call it infamy.

    In that context - that of perfecting the modern car, and all the associated problems - then Obama is correct, America did invent the car and the world deserves an apology for it!

    When I heard that phrase, the invention part seemed to me rather unimportant. What caught my attention was the end of the sentence, that we "cannot walk away from it" (the automobile). So we're trapped in automania. No escape. "No apologies" for this way of life either.

    No mention of the word "rail" in the speech. Nor "sacrifice", nor "saving for the future". Certainly not "limits" nor "car pool". All we the American Sheeple are being asked to do is to sit on our butts and wait for Detroit to come up with plug-in SUVs, and then we're supposed to buy them.

    And we "won't allow" the new green industries to "take root" in other countries. Does that mean we bomb them (starting with Iran)? Health care only got a vague promise of "reform", and the banksters may get more oversight now that they are out of sight. Count me unimpressed.

    Back in the days of the buggy, it was said that we could not let the buggy industry die. There are still a few buggies around but they are primarily used by the Amish and a few nostalgic others.

    Obama should not be talking about saving the auto industry but be talking about a future where we help companies, communities, and individuals to transcend the auto and move to a world where it is largely unnecessary. Instead, we will spend billions propping up and feeding the corpse.

    It would help if we could begin by building a train system whereby it did not take two solid days to get from Denver to New York. Bring on the French!!!

    I still think Obama is the best that could be expected given the paradigm under which Americans live. But even an intelligent, reasonably informed man can only do so much in a country devoted to feckless self indulgence and denial about the present and the future.

    The French won't come, they're still P.O.'d about the fries thing.

    Imagine the chortling if his predecessor had come out with that one.

    Karl Benz may have sold the first auto but Hank Ford turned that luxury item into something common folk could afford. If we still made them one at a time like Benz maybe we wouldn't be in our current ecological mess. But then again we might still rely on coal burning trains and have to deal with the emissions of horse drawn wagons on our city streets.


    Hank is a shortened way to say Henry. It's like saying Tom instead of Thomas.

    Scientists find bigger than expected polar ice melt

    god, i'm tired of these "worse / faster / bigger than expecetd" polar ice articles. i just hope it melts sooner, so there won't be anymore silly articles. we know the caps are going to melt, it's only a matter of when within a 10 year timeframe. maybe humanity will have a revelation... but i doubt it

    Might be nice sunbathing on the arctic shore and buying a beach house up there. I have been counting on a constant and ever increasing melt due to ever higher CO2 levels and feedback loops. I just read somne papers claiming that sunspot cycles 24-26 from 2010-2040s will be like maunder minimum giving us a little ice age, and showing that solar forcing is much more important than GWGs.

    Now I am worried about icy weather and uncertain if we shouldn't stop worrying about CO2 altogether. At any rate this will all be certain in 5-10 years who is right. If the temperature keeps climbing despite massively low solar activity then the AGW crowd is definitely right and if it keeps getting colder year for year despite massive CO2 growth then the solar crowd is right. The tipping point is now very obvious in either direction so we just have to wait a couple years. The proof is definitely in the pudding on this one. There will be no hiding behind theory or BS anymore.

    Peak oil, etc. will take priority either way as if the weather is too hot we will have to cool down and if we are in a deep freeze we will have to heat ourselves. So a lack of energy will guide our decisions. A mdoerate climate would be better but I don't expect it somehow.


    Sorry to add to your worries but perhaps the Antarctic glacial melt isn't related to GW for the most part. But this wouldn’t discount the existence of GW and the potential calamity. The problem at the S Pole is potentially worse. At least 10 years ago I saw a report regarding glacial melt down there. Foremost, they had pretty good documentation that the melt was occurring along the bottoms of the glaciers...not the top. A hypothesis of increasing temperature of the mantle below the Antarctic was offered as a possible but unverifiable source of the heat. In fact, given the strong insulating quality of ice they estimated it would take thousands of years for any changes in surface temperature to pass through the many thousands of feet of ice and affect the basal areas. This melt water at the base act as a lubricant and is may the primary cause for the acceleration of the glaciers. There is a potential ripple effect: as the glaciers advance and potentially push the offshore ice shelves away from land, the effects of GW may well have a greater impact on those masses.

    I don't know if there's enough solid data to quantify the potential sea level rise from the Antarctic melt. But given some of the loose numbers thrown around, the lower elevations around the world may be in much greater danger the many currently believe.

    The dynamics that impact the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets are different. You can't cogently speak of the "Antarctic Ice Sheet" as if it's a single entity. It's long been realized that the WAIS is toast, and that an abrupt nine meter rise in sea level is certain. What's amazing is the recent realization that even the Greenland and EAIS are vulnerable. I'm glad I live a mile above sea level!

    The explanation used by the solar activity believers on such a situation as you are making out in Antarctica would probably be that the magnetic field of the earth's cores is more active due to higher lunisolar magnetic activity increasing geocrustal temperatures and perhaps volcanic, etc. activity under the ice.

    Otherwise I would presume melting through the ice by moulins as recently shown to be the case or warm water lapping from beneath the ice along the shore. At any rate if solar activity was recently at an 8000 year high long term as I have read and at a decades high in the short term cycle(70s was cool, 40s was hot, etc.) then acccording to their "Solarist" program we are going back to a level around early 19th century when George Washington was in ice on the Potomac and the Thames was frozen annually. If this solarist theory does not pan out in practice then it will be hard to explain weather variations on earth over thousands of years ex human intervention(do milankovitsch cycles explain everything?). That is the problem with AGW theory, it is limited to our times and ignores all those previous cylces where temperatures went up and down on average a couple degrees for a couple decade and could statistically be based on changing solar activity which was well documented by direct visual(sun spots) or proxy (tree rings, etc.) records. Anyway a complete theory of climate would be better than a moral preaching of ecologists who are conceivably overreaching in their ardour to save Gaia from a predatory humanity, which is a good thing of course, by positing absolute human power over all occurrences on earth, like weather. Cars etc. cause habitat destruction but does CO2 cause massive weather change? We will know in a few years for sure. I guess when I am completely convinced it is either not AGW or else not any sort of solar forcing driving climate patterns then there will always be hard cases who deny the obvious despite a new ice age in front of their door or otherwise a total global meltdown. There will always be hard cases who die in total denial of reality. I don't want to be among those.

    You know some good poop there GS. My geologic worlds for the last 33 years has focused on areas of 100's of acres. The big picture stuff is always interesting but I usually don't dig too deep into it. What I have learned is that Mother Earth does not give up her answers easily. I've spent months and 100's of thousands of $'s trying to figure what's happening geologically over a few miles. And she still slap me down hard when me ego tells me I now understand the situation perfectly. That’s why I don’t tend to ignore any hypothesis now matter how odd it might appear at first. We still have a long way to go before any sort of a unified geologic picture can be constructed IMHO.

    The Potomac froze solid all the way across this year. Back in the 70's it was very unusual for it to be solid enough to walk on if it froze all the way across during a winter.

    The sea level has risen 120 meters in the past 20,000 years, that is about 1.8 feet per hundred years.


    There has been a significant expansion in the deserts of the Near East after 11,000 years before present when the temperatures began to rise there. By the Middle Bronze Age settlements in the Sinai and Upper Negev desert were abandoned due to increased aridity. Saharan communities of about 9,000 years ago had to be abandoned as the desert margins moved north.

    It is difficult to blame all that sea level rise on carbon dioxide increase caused by human activity as the use of hydrocarbons during these times was minimal.

    Generally the planet has been under the weather with long term ice ages during the past ten miillion years. The interglacial thaws have been of short length.

    Imagine the crisis if we return to an ice age and people in Europe start to riot over increased heating bills and call for global warming legislation. It is all delusion. Things are changing and people talked alot about changing them, but their efforts were insignificant. As if they could turn down atmospheric temperatures by switching from gasoline operated Hummers to electric powered Hummers, cannot even change the direction of the wind with all this talk.


    Why is it that you give a reference and then ignore what that reference says? The rise in sea level after LGM started about 18,000 years BP and was essentially complete by 8,000 years BP. Looking at the fourth graph in your Wikipedia reference shows an increase of about 2 meters over the past 5,000 years. That would work out to less than 0.5 mm per year. Nobody I know of blames CO2 increases as the cause for all of the warming since the LGM. The cooler conditions this winter in Europe are not seen in worldwide data, thus it's seriously flawed to make a reference to that cooling as if it counters AGW. Besides, there's evidence that the cooler weather may be related to changes in ocean circulation which have been linked to AGW. Lastly, your rant continues to ignore mankind's effects on the environment of the Middle East and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, where major civilizations have existed for thousands of years.

    I hope that you will spend some effort doing more research before you post such BS again.

    E. Swanson

    One additional problem is that there is strong evidence that prior warm ages ended with *drumroll* global warming events. These events took place at slower paces than the current event but they did appear to take place. Can warming cause an ice age? It certainly appears possible - increased warming leading to increased water vapor in the air leading to increased precipitation (snow) during winters. The problem now is we don't understand the rate of warming versus the increased precipitation. The current models suggest we'll warm right on through such widespread precipitation events but the models have been wrong before.

    People see the words "global warming" and think of it as the effect. It's not. Global warming is the cause and climate change is the effect. Central Asia (Mongolia, etc.) has gotten far colder due to global warming (and was accurately predicted as well). Global warming is not a guarantee that all or even some of the earth will end up hotter. It's a possibility, definitely. But what global warming really guarantees is a different climate.

    And given that homo sapiens has built a vast civilization with a huge population overshoot completely dependent on the current climate, forcing a climate change into this scenario looks amazingly like playing Russian Roulette.

    We had self-proclaimed climate experts claiming that CO2 is the only variable in climate change (i.e. Al Gore_. I am intelligent enough to recognize that CO2 may be a factor that is causing a spike in temperatures of about half a degree in the past century. Am not sure how you could describe the little ice age that occured from the mid 16th century to the mid 19th century LIttle Ice Age - Wikipedia). Was there not as much flux in CO2 levels recorded for that interval? There was a significant fluctuation in temperatures. A one variable Co2 climate model cannot account for the great diffences in temperature over the past 20,000 years. You have some studies of oxygen levels in deep ocean sediments to try to explain the climate over the past 10,000 years, these researchers were not looking at pollen levels in Asia Minor nor the locations of settlements of livestock and barley raising peoples in the Sahara. The oxygen level studies do not correlate with what terrestial climate researchers found in Egypt, Algeria, the fertile crescent and Turkey for the past 10,000 years. Early C-14 dating assumed levels of C-14 to C were constant in the past, they were not. Later researchers published a callibration curve after C-14 studies were correlated with known data, i.e. historical data and dendrochronology studies.

    There was a substantial change in the Sinai environment since the ice age maximum. Once there was a large lake north of El-Arish covering hundreds of square miles, it is gone. Later there were communities along a ridge east of the Suez canal, near Gebel Musa, and on the Gebel Mughair uplands in the north. These existed in the Early Bronze Age, by the end of the Middle Bronze Age they were gone (archaeologists used C-14 dating of campfire remains to reach conclusions). In the Negev along Wadi Zin were EB communities that disappeared in the Middle Bronze Age. After the camel was domesticated in the north these areas were settled by Nomads about the time of the Iron Age.

    There is also a problem that it may be too late to save the Arctic ice caps and glaciers. If the world is yet in existence at the end of the hydrocarbon era, i.e. not the victim of some intergalactic catastrophe, there will be no new appreciable release of hydrocarbons and the stuff will sink to low oxygen basins of the sea in the form of algae bodies and be sequestered. On the current path the sun will not last forever, the world will pass away. If there is a spiritual existence, that might continue.

    We had self-proclaimed climate experts claiming that CO2 is the only variable in climate change...

    Straw man; no climate scientist makes this claim. The claim is that human CO2 emissions have become the dominant driver of radiative disequilibrium with space.

    There was a statement by Gore that there could be no other factor causing global warming. Some people thought the sea level had just started rising. The records only go back a few centuries. I read one article Leanan posted that the sea level was rising faster along the U.S. Atlantic coast than anyhwhere on earth. Dumb.

    The lowest part of Washington D.C. is listed as at sea level. The Potomac is almost flat, from the Key Bridge down to the Chesapeake Bay. This part of the Potomac is called the tidewater area. If the sea rises, Washington D.C. will find out about it. There were also areas of the world subject to coastal erosion, coastal deposition, subsidence (natural sinking of the earths crust such as parts of California) and other areas of uplift (Himalayas) where limestone sediments once underwater were lifted miles up in the air through compression of the slow collision of India into Asia.

    If you get a 1 degree sustained rise in temperature what will be the water vapor pressure of the air? How many billions of tons more water will the atmosphere hold with a one degree rise in temperature? Thermodynamics was not frequently known to climate change activists.

    So far the fastest increase in hydrocarbon use in the history of the world has not flooded D.C. Roosevelt Island is yet above water. I suppose if you had more than a hundred years to evacuate a coast you might like to deny building permits to those areas.

    An oldie but goodie:

    NASA evidence points to global warming on Mars being caused by solar factors:


    How could Kyoto have stopped the heating up of the sun? It could not. What will happen if the sun will cool down? One would not assume a constant solar heat through the ages. Science that only looks at CO2 misses alot.

    Abdussamatov? You didn't read past the first page of your link, did you?

    Gore never said it was only CO2.

    Why lie?

    Nobody claims it is only CO2.

    Why lie?

    Every climate scientist knows the sun adds energy to the system and that this ebbs and flows.

    Why lie?

    One things is constant: you will keep lying about these things.

    Given you are, in fact, lying, I don't understand why you are allowed to post on this topic.


    It was my impression that the increased sea level rise in the N. Atlantic (21 ft as opposed to 16-17 ft previously predicted) was due to a projected shift in the Earth's axis of rotation caused by the mass of ice shifting in Antarctica.

    I'd suggest you find Hansen's home page and check out his paper from April 2007. It clearly describes multiple forcings. It is described elsewhere, including in Mark Bowen's book Censoring Science, about Hansen. There are many other sources on the net.

    I seem to recall that the Milankovitch cycles are on the order of +/- 0.3 W/m^2, relatively small compared to the CO2 forcing. But other greenhouse gases such as CFC's, methane, and nitrous oxide play a part too. Phasing out CFCs has done a lot of good, but CO2 causes the greatest forcing according to Hansen's graphs.

    It might be worth browsing Hansen's sites below. There's a lot of good reading there.




    That is the problem with AGW theory, it is limited to our times and ignores all those previous cycles...

    This is not the case. Fundamentally, climate science is based on well-understood principles of thermodynamics. Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels), Earth was in thermal equilibrium with space. Humans introduced a sudden, 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget. Because CO2 is a "heat-trapping gas," Earth is now in disequilibrium with space. To return to thermal equilibrium, the atmosphere must warm.

    The rest is details. Interesting details, to be sure, but the basic thermodynamics have been understood since Svante Arrhenius published in 1896.

    Dear Barrett808
    Firstly, CO2 is not a 'heat trapping' gas. To trap heat, you need a closed system such as an actual greenhouse (with glass). Infra-red heat readiates back into space. Cloud cover insulates (thats why clear nights cool rapidly).

    The main drivers are orbital forcing and solar forcing. Start here:


    CO2 levels have been much higher in the past that they are at present. Where as I used to give CO2 Forced-AGW no real attention at all, I now think the whole thing is junk-science with no credibility whatsoever and increasingly over-run by very desperate pseudo-scientists such as the egregious Hanson and Mann et al. Hardly surprising when you look at the $50 billion or so spent on these and all other AGW charlatans over the past two decades. The gravy train is just too big to give up without a fight.
    Sorry, but the science isnt 'in', it is simply not there at all

    AGW deniers remind me of holocaust deniers.

    I wonder if some day refugees from places made unihabitable by climate change will steal a little piece of still habitable territory, call it the "promised land," then send out agents to hunt down AGW deniers for prosecution.

    Failure to understand++

    CO2 is transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared. It *is* the glass on the global greenhouse, or at least one significant element of it.

    Earth is as much a closed system as a picturesque greenhouse in a valley, just much bigger.

    (that's why clear nights cool rapidly)

    Dropstone, you definitely got this one backwards(like most of the rest of your thinking).

    Clear nights cool rapidly because there is nothing to block or reflect the heat of the day radiating into the cold night sky.

    Clear nights cool rapidly because there is nothing to block or reflect the heat of the day radiating into the cold night sky.

    It is not that there is nothing to block the escape of the heat. Something on the order of 9% of the infrared radiated at ground level directly makes it into space. The rest is either reflected (not much), or absorbed and re-emitted (mostly) by the atmosphere. Things that increase the infrared opacity (propensity to absorb light -precisely defined mathematically), reduce the net transfer of heat by thermal radiation within the atmosphere (assuming others things haven't changed). Anthropogenic CO2 (or any other greenhouse gas of whatever origin), slightly reduce the cooling effect (by about a percent). You may not notice a one percent change -but the climate does.

    You really have no idea what you are talking about.

    Any time some wingnut wants to deny science, they make the claim that the scientists are just in for the money.

    Yeah, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists are a bunch of charlatans and pseudo-scientists.

    Science not there at all? WTF are you talking about?

    (note to self - stop feeding trolls)

    (note to self - stop feeding trolls)

    We have this little cat who knows that terrorizing the budgarigars gets her shut up in my son's bedroom. The evening before last she attacked the birdcage in my presence, then ran into the bedroom with me hot on her heels. She ran straight to her empty food dish, turned around and looked up at me, meowing. She had attacked the birds to get my attention so that I'd feed her. Look at how the four of us responded to dropstone's inane post. The attention seeking behavior that trolls & cats alike resort to works. Both got fed.

    I am usually a bit less easily manipulated, but sometimes enough is enough.

    Smart cat!

    dropstone doesnt appear to understand the difference between infared transmitted heat and conductive heat. but still, what about the milankovitch cycles ? are they for real ? i havent seen anyone debunk them here or anywhere else.

    Solar cycles are real enough, it's simply a matter of degrees of effect.

    Any competent climatologist is going to account for variations in insolation in their model, to try to tease out the bits of interest. Between the climatologists and the astronomers it is quite closely looked at, which is how the deniers can get their hands on high-quality data regarding solar cycles.

    The deniers count on people not being able to actually read and understand the original source scientific reports (perhaps they are not competent to, themselves?) so they point out all these fiddly bits that never make it into the simplified media reports and jump up and down shouting.

    what about the milankovitch cycles ? are they for real ?

    Solar cycles are real enough..

    The Milankovitch cycles involve oscillations in Earth's orbit. They have nothing to do with the sun per se, altho they do effect insolation. They are what overwhelmingly drive climatic forcing. Variations in solar output & sun spot activity have little or nothing to do with it.

    It's not the solar cycles that worry me but the magnificent amount of massaging the data has undergone to get from the thermometer to the reports: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/ushcn/ushcn.html

    The effect of urban heat islands, even failed sensors themselves which "drift" without actually giving off bad values. All "accounted for" by fudge factors which can be as large in magnitude as the proposed change in temperature itself.

    The USCRN (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/uscrn/)is an attempt at establishing a baseline against these factors by placing triple-redundant temperature sensors out into the middle of nowhere with a high maintainance schedule to preclude failure. The original ASOS system was basically designed to cater to airports and airplane needs and thus placed in growing areas. HCN and COOP sites are historically located where people live and as such subjected to all sorts of problems, and don't necessarily have that great of continuity.

    The effect of urban heat islands, even failed sensors themselves which "drift" without actually giving off bad values. All "accounted for" by fudge factors which can be as large in magnitude as the proposed change in temperature itself.

    This claim is false.

    On UHI: Are Temperature Trends affected by Economic Activity (II)?, No man is an (Urban Heat) Island

    On station data corrections: Mountains and Molehills

    All "accounted for" by fudge factors which can be as large in magnitude as the proposed change in temperature itself.

    Look at the link I posted and see all of the correction factors which have been applied to the data.

    Substrate, why would the planet not warm from a sudden 37% increase in the atmospheric carbon store?

    An impressive amount of BS in such a short post, I have to say :) Not just CO2 trapping heat, but...

    Cloud cover insulates (thats why clear nights cool rapidly).

    Right, because all cloud cover is exactly the same. Depending on what layer of the atmosphere they are in, clouds can have a net positive OR negative effect on the amount of radiation that reaches the surface. It also matters what the clouds are made of and how diffuse they are.

    CO2 levels have been much higher in the past that they are at present.

    Absolutely true, but do you have any idea why? Ever hear of the carbon-silicate cycle? Do you know what happens to [main sequence] stars as they age?

    Dropstone, I always recommend reading a college-level textbook on climate science. It's really quite interesting stuff. Here's a free draft of Ray Pierrehumbert's excellent Principles of Planetary Climate. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the sophistication and generality of the science.


    Principle of Planetary Climate

    is quite a nice catch, Thanks.

    Of course you realize that this is just another instance of the only people who actually listen to the sermon are in the choir!

    The main drivers are orbital forcing and solar forcing.

    Wrong! The magnitudes of either are not very great. The fact that such large changes on long time scales (thousands of years), have governed massive climate changes in the past, is a strong indicator that strong feedback processes are amplyfying the small changes in forcing. Those feedbacks are mainly albedo (colder climate means more ice, which reflect sunlight), and greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, but also methane and nitrous oxide. These two large feedbacks are of roughly similar size. Also important are albedo changes due to changes in vegetation cover, and changes in the amount of atmospheric dust. The fact that rather small orbital forcings (solar cannot be determined that far back), has set off such large changes in the past does not mean that CO2 (if changed by some other means) will have no -or only a small effect is completely incorrect. The same amplification effects that made a small change in forcing due to orbital effects so important, will have a similar effect on the larger forcing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    The sizes of these various forcings are well constrained by physics, and the orbital changes have been amplified by several fold by the other effects (which in the context of natural iceages should be considered to be feedbacks).

    Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels), Earth was in thermal equilibrium with space.

    That is quite a claim.
    I don't think you will find many climatologists agreeing with you on THAT one.

    Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels), Earth was in thermal equilibrium with space.

    That is quite a claim.
    I don't think you will find many climatologists agreeing with you on THAT one.

    Actually if he had inserted the modifier quasi- in front on equilibrium he would have been correct.

    Good old Wiki says this:

    Thermal equilibrium is achieved when two systems in thermal contact with each other cease to exchange energy by heat. If two systems are in thermal equilibrium their temperatures are the same.

    Its pretty damn cold up here in space, I oughta know.

    Point taken; it would be more accurate to say "radiative equilibrium."

    Do you agree with the rest of the statement?

    Indeed. I've been working on an ironclad, one-paragraph statement that summarizes the basic thermodynamics in an irrefutable way. Suggestions are welcome.

    This is not the case. Fundamentally, climate science is based on well-understood principles of thermodynamics. Before humans burned the sequestered carbon (fossil fuels), Earth was in thermal equilibrium with space. Humans introduced a sudden, 500-gigaton excursion in the global carbon budget. Because CO2 is a "heat-trapping gas," Earth is now in disequilibrium with space. To return to thermal equilibrium, the atmosphere must warm.

    The rest is details. Interesting details, to be sure, but the basic thermodynamics have been understood since Svante Arrhenius published in 1896.

    Ah, yes. Barrett808 Someone who knows. Well done!

    Thank you for the kind words. I've been honing that paragraph for a couple of weeks, trying to get it just right. Enemy of State and Spaceman's comments have helped me tweak it toward greater accuracy.

    I'd suspect it to be a splash of sarconol but he might mean it. There were a lot of things before humans began burning the fossil fuels...including the carbon in the atmosphere we're once again releasing.

    Are you proposing that Earth was not in radiative near-equilibrium before the anthropogenic 500gT carbon excursion?

    Or are you proposing that the 500gT excursion is not significant?

    A small obscure piece of the economic meltdown puzzle?

    While well written for the average Jane/Joe - IMHO - perhaps some "quants" could chime in.

    Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

    A year ago, it was hardly unthinkable that a math wizard like David X. Li might someday earn a Nobel Prize. After all, financial economists—even Wall Street quants—have received the Nobel in economics before, and Li's work on measuring risk has had more impact, more quickly, than previous Nobel Prize-winning contributions to the field. Today, though, as dazed bankers, politicians, regulators, and investors survey the wreckage of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Li is probably thankful he still has a job in finance at all. Not that his achievement should be dismissed. He took a notoriously tough nut—determining correlation, or how seemingly disparate events are related—and cracked it wide open with a simple and elegant mathematical formula, one that would become ubiquitous in finance worldwide.


    I liked that article too -- almost cross-posted it from Fark yesterday. It is breathtaking how easily an entire industry willfully fooled itself into a relatively straightforward over-simplification of statistical analysis. Just goes to show how easily you can lie with statistics, and how easy it is to ignore the caveats when you want to believe a premise.

    Just as with the shuttle disaster, I'm sure there were a great many lowly quants raising alarms about faulty assumptions and inherent risks while the high-commission top-floor decision-makers were pushing ahead with blinders on.

    I read that article last night.

    One thing that the writer misses is this: Why was there any need to assess the risk of default in the first place? If the banks had followed prudent lending restrictions and kept their loans on their books, then there would not have been any buying/selling of loans thus no derivatives to fall apart. Also, if banks had kept to the old reserve requirements (or even higher reserve levels), then the few failures could have been absorbed rather easily, especially if the loans had been limited to less than the cost of the house. All that should have be learned after the Great Depression, but the younger folks born after WW II thought they could get away with this latest scheme. Woops, it didn't work, the world's financial system is now bankrupt...

    E. Swanson

    A significant part of the problem, IMHO, is having young hot-shots who are less than 40 years old calling the shots. There seems to be a human tendency to have generational knowledge and experience gaps, where anything that happened more than 20 years ago is heavily discounted. This is why we have beach houses by the thousands where hurricanes hit 50 years ago -- a couple of slow hurricane decades and it seems "safe". A couple of generations of no depressions or world panics and risk seems "tolerable".

    The young do not comprehend that the only reason seemingly onerous and rigid lending rules are in place is because previous generations learned the hard way that there are much worse possible events than a decade of slow or no growth.

    Your reply was so fast that I could not add the following to my comment:

    The whole thing goes back to the greedy investment bankers and Republicans like Phil Gramm with his repeal of the Glass-Steagall restrictions...


    Yes, I'm sure the generational change had a lot to do with it. Of course, there's always a large greed factor in such efforts. Then too, there are the younger folks (born after 1968?) that think that last summer's high gas prices were temporary and that things are back to "normal" now that gas prices have fallen back. As for beach houses on the barrier islands, then now have "insurance", so there's only a small loss. Isn't that exactly like the "insurance" on mortgage defaults? Tell it to the folks in NO...

    E. Swanson

    Gramm changed it but Democrats voted for it and Clinton signed it. Both parties are guilty here. Perpetuating the myth of Democrats as saints is offensive and deceptive. Both parties stink to high heaven. The current moron in the White House, who is incapable of ever saying anything specific other than campaign slogan rah-rah bullshit, is perfect evidence of that.

    +10 Please everyone stop voting for major parties!

    You certainly have an enviable way with words!

    IMHO the article, although well written, missed the point-the guy's models were useful and used because they generated a profit-i.e. they underestimated risk of default in a plausible fashion. Anyone that has working in the financial area has experience with "making the numbers fit". Nobody cares what happens down the road because the losses won't be theirs to endure. Although tolerated and usually perfectly legal, at its core all this is financial fraud.

    I could not agree more. If you are 40 or under, you have grown up in a casino, and have not been outside yet. When they do, we will hear the screams, as reality slowly becomes apparent
    (sorry Plato, but your cave is the best thing you ever wrote).

    I realize that trashing youth is the new national pastime, but let's all try to keep in mind exactly who built that casino for the youth.

    I thought trashing the Boomer generation was the national pastime.

    There were old dudes in charge who were fully aware of what is going on and did nothing to stop it.

    And how freaking old is Greenspan? 100? He is was the chief aider and abettor of the whole housing crisis.

    Anyway, have we learned anything from this fiasco. The banks are still not lending because they refuse to go back to the old days where you made a loan and then kept that loan and made your money on the interest. They still refuse to loan unless they can pass that loan on in a securitasation scheme. That is why the Obama administration is talking about subsidizing investment banks and hedge funds in order to induce them to buy new "assets" from the banks. So, they are proposing to use taxpayer (Chinese?) money to encourage banks to do the same thing that created all these toxic assets in the first place. And these are not young dudes under 40 who are proposing this.

    I am getting up there in age, but I am not going to blame the young for this mess.

    I think we need to go back to 3-6-3 banking. That's why I was attracted to the industry in the first place.


    The article mentions Taleb, who also has a very good article in today's Financial Times:

    How Bank Bonuses Let Us All Down

    In fact, the incentive scheme commonly in place does the exact opposite of what an “incentive” system should be about: it encourages a certain class of risk-hiding and deferred blow-up. It is the reason banks have never made money in the history of banking, losing the equivalent of all their past profits periodically – while bankers strike it rich. Furthermore, it is thatincentive scheme that got us in the current mess.


    Indeed, the incentive system put in place by financial companies has produced the worst possible economic system mankind can imagine: capitalism for the profits and socialism for the losses.

    Taleb has been talking about this for a little while. As memes go, this one is about where Roubini's Bank Nationalization meme was six weeks ago.

    The ethanol industry has faced numerous bankruptcies and loss of income due to the inefficient energy output of ethanol fuel production. Mandates, quotas, and subsidies were not enough to boost income at ethanol plants whose proponents boasted of their high efficiency. Competition from other fuels proved to be greater than expected.

    Now Midwest governors have gone to Washington to ask Washington to force people to use more ethanol:


    Those hurt by unfair subsidies and mandates requiring ethanol production include meat packers, cattle ranchers, poultry farms, and dairy operations. Mandates to force conversion of the nation's grain stocks to high priced fuels led to economic downturn caused by an attempt to create an artificial monopoly and problems with increased hunger in underdeveloped nations.

    Martha Stewart is tanking. I guess the dead cat bounce is over.

    BTW, now that we have peak economy, when are we going to get back to the oil depletion thing? Any new production numbers coming soon?

    Who is Martha Stewart?
    A financial guru?


    Martha Stewart, as in the fashion and home decorating company, run by the lady who was pretty much the only person ever to go to jail for insider trading in the last recession.

    Just looked at AIG ticker. Man, that company has completely failed! Trading at $0.40 after a high of about 80 a couple of years ago. A $1B market cap, with a $60B quarterly loss and $150B in gov't loans. It's the most efficient way to turn taxpayer money into vapor that I've ever seen!

    Yet I bet part of the Clinton trip to China was to promise more support for AIG and the others in return for T-bill support.

    I thought she was a cook in a prison.

    Prison...thats a 'good thing'.


    No, she was the lady who sank KMart under waves of pastel plastic crap.

    E. Swanson

    martha may have had a hand in it, but eddie lampert was the captain of that sinking ship. and then weeks after ch 11, miraculously the real estate holdings of the "new k-mart" were worth $90/share.

    Any new production numbers coming soon?

    we should see december ng production and consumption about tommorrow:


    So I was looking at all the new tax breaks designed to get the economy going again.
    My wife and I, are hit with the AMT tax, and most of these tax breaks faze out if you make too much.
    So now, I feel like I am getting a penalty for buying a car. I guess I will save every penny then, and drive my ten year old cars. The hell with supporting the economy.

    Sorry Leanan, I know the discussions are going econ. vs oil, but I don't value the input from anybody else.

    Will that be the case for the solar and appliance incentives too? If so, I'm totally hosed on those too.

    I don't know. Those items are called "tax credits", not deductions. It might be that you can still get the 30% tax credit even if your itemized deductions were disallowed because of AMT calculations. I guess somebody should finally read the bill.

    As far as Federal tax credits, for solar and other renewables for residential users, there are no income caps. Everybody gets the subsidy, rich or poor. I think you can even change the withholding on your paycheck and pocket the money ASAP. Edit: and apply it against the AMT.

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending February 20, 2009

    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.9 million barrels per day during the week ending February 20, down 207 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 81.4 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production rose last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased slightly last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

    U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 8.8 million barrels per day last week, down 24 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.3 million barrels per day, 420 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 805 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 282 thousand barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased 0.7 million barrels from the previous week. At 351.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 3.4 million barrels last week, and are in the lower half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased last week by 0.6 million barrels and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of average range for this time of year.

    What was expected:

    Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected U.S. crude oil inventories to rise by 1.2 million barrels, while gasoline stocks are seen unchanged and distillate supplies are expected to decline by 1.2 million barrels.

    Thanks for your superb updates, Leanan.

    Looks like gas is heading up, after concerted effort to reduce refinery capacity and improve the spreads. Looks like this year the goal is to make some money in the segment that struggled most over the last year or two.

    The consumption part doesn't surprise me either. Last year, there weren't as many drivers in trucks as usual, and they were driving sedately. Just the past few weeks I've noticed we're back to the normal mix of 50% trucks and full-size SUVs, and they're flying down the highway and jinking through traffic again.

    Last year trucks sat on the lot and small cars were gone. This year there is a good supply of both, but trucks are selling to some degree. So much for a "permanent" change.

    $3.00, here we come!

    Yeah, look down at the bottom of the page for the weekly data:

                             1/30/09 02/06/09 02/13/09 02/20/09
    Finished Motor Gasoline    9,015    9,006    8,908    9,010

    The 4 week average shows:

    Products Supplied
    (Thousand Barrels per Day)    02/20/09  02/20/08    Change %
    Finished Motor Gasoline          8,985     8,833       1.7

    Looks like things have drifted back to the usual 1.5% gain per year. Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets, the wheels are spinning..

    E. Swanson

    With voluntary + involuntary net export reductions kicking in, and with--IMO--the perceived decline in worldwide demand probably exceeding the actual decline in demand, the second half of the year may be pretty interesting.

    How do you figure demand is stronger than perceived? Stealth production, non-OECD inventories being dumped in spite of the contango or what?
    You're not the only saying this but I have yet to see anyone back it up...

    I think that it is a mistake to extrapolate too much from monthly data, for both demand and for prices. I have frequently used the example of a salesman who made $50,000 one month, but $10,000 for the other 11 months. What is a better indication of his income, the $50,000 monthly peak, or the annual income of $160,000, and a monthly average of $13,333?

    Regarding prices, what is the better indication of what consumers paid in 2008, the daily peak of $147, or the annual average of $100?

    Regarding total consumption, what is more meanginful, the lowest month of a given year, or the average daily consumption for a year?

    But fundamentally, I am comparing our current predicament to the Thirties, when it appears that demand only fell one year, in 1930, rising thereafter, and in constant dollar terms (all I have now), average annual oil prices rose at +11%/year from 1931 to 1937. As Down South has noted, there were three million more cars on the road in the US in 1937, than in 1929. Instead of the millions of people who wanted to drive a car for the first time in the Thirties, hundreds of millions of people worldwide want to drive a car for the first time in the early years of the 21st Century.

    Is there any reason to believe the OPEC cuts are going to be reversed any time soon? If not, then the lower demand isn't a monthly aberration but is here to stay.

    The oil situation is quite different from the 30s: consumption is larger and more cyclical, many areas are apparently post-peak and so on.
    In any case, I would trust the data more than historical parallels. There is no data on how much people want to drive.

    As you noted, the big difference between now and the Thirties is that in the Thirties Depression, we had increasing oil production to meet increasing demand.

    I expect to see a long term accelerating decline rate in worldwide net oil exports, with the top five net oil exporters currently shipping about one percent of remaining post-2008 cumulative net oil exports about every 50 days. I expect to see a recurring pattern of a smaller number of consumers paying a higher unit price for a smaller volume of exported oil.

    It's pretty awesome that crude imports are down more than 10% last week from the year before - and supplies are still way up!


    Here's hoping we can continue to lower our demand for imports quicker than Mexico, the UK, Norway, and others decline...



    Oil jumps $2 on lower gas supply

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices gained more than $2 Wednesday after a government report showed that while supplies of gasoline fell much more than expected, crude stockpiles continue to grow amid sluggish demand.


    Wondered if anyone could help - I'm trying to locate a ceramic water filter I can use between a header tank and a tap, gravity fed over about 3m, which doesn't need much maintenance. It will be fed via rainwater capture - has anyone gone through this palaver before?

    Any advice, pointers, much appreciated.



    3m of head only amounts to 4.3 psi of pressure. I doubt that this is sufficient to drive water thru a ceramic filter at any usable rate.

    countryslicker -

    While I've never personally tried to collect rainwater, I do know a bit about water treatment.

    I think that before anyone can give you any pointers, one would need to know i) from where and how the rainwater would be collected, and ii) what the rainwater would be used for.

    Regarding the latter, consideration, if you plan to actually use the collected rainwater as potable water (and that would include not only drinking water but also personal wash water), then you have to be extremely careful.

    If you can rig up some way of discarding the 'first flush' of rainwater from the initial several minutes of the rainfall event, then that would go a long way in reducing the contaminant load (e.g., dust, dead bugs, bird droppings, etc.) on any filter you might use. Filters do eventually plug and, depending on the type, have to periodically either be cleaned or discarded. Trapped particulate organic matter in a filter can also serve as a growth medium for bacteria.

    In general, I personally would be a bit squeamish about drinking rainwater collected from a roof or paved area regardless of what type of filter was used.

    At one time, I lived "off the grid" in the Amazon jungle. Water collected in a tank on the roof was our only water supply. We used it "straight" for washing and the toilet. For drinking, we boiled it, then stored it in a 5-gallon jug on the kitchen counter. (The sediment that gathered on the bottom was pretty icky. The jug had a spigot that was several inches above the bottom, so you could get water without stirring up the sediment.) Fruits and vegetables were soaked in bleach and water before eating, if they weren't cooked.

    Heck Leanan, I swam & bathed in, and drank directly out of, Amazonian streams, and never got sick from them.

    I swam in the Amazon River, but didn't drink the water. At least not intentionally.

    darwinsong -

    I'll see your Amazon and raise you one.

    As a kid, on one occasion my friend and I went swimming in the Hackensack River in New Jersey during the pre-pollution control 1950s and lived to tell about it. (I think my mother wanted to boil me in Clorox when she found out what I had done.)

    This is the sort of thing you can usually get away with doing a small number of times, but the more you do it, the greater your chances of getting sick.

    Keep in mind that a not-insignificant chunk of the Third World population chronically suffers from water-borne disease.

    Ah, the epic mud-fights of childhood!

    Up in the hills of Pupukea on the North Shore of Oahu, we had an area we called Fanny Falls, dunno where the name came from, but it was a sort of natural palace dedicated to erosion. Fantastic shapes cut into the native mud, etc. Well after one bout of heavy rain, of course we go there, and Wow! There's a swimming pool made just for us! With GRASS covering the bottom! Neat! So of course we swam and wrestled and probably ingested a fair amount, and had a great mud fight, coming home all brown, clothes and all.

    It sucks that kids can't do that stuff so safely any more.

    LOL - kid's never did those things safely - they just did them.



    I hereby declare the Hackensack river swimmer the winner. Having lived in NJ, I know that it doesn't get worse (and I fell into the Charles River in Boston as a child).

    The Rouge River that flows through Detroit and environs.
    I once suffered "engulfment" as a kid in said river, trying to catch a snake.
    Unfortunately the Rouge is not just water.
    A week in the hospital and I was fine, really.

    Ernie Hemmingway is rumoured to have written poetry about this, his beloved river.
    A scrap of which has come into my possession:

    Oh River Rouge, Oh River Rouge
    In my heart, and in my shoes...

    Lake Erie here, in the late sixties and early seventies. A few miles East of the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, as immortalized in Randy Newman's song "Burn On." Swam in it, played on its rat-infested shores, even explored the storm sewers. Ain't killed me yet.

    Thanks for your replies. The water will be coming off a tile roof, via copper gutters, through a leaf filter then a sump, into a 25,000L tank we're having built at the moment.
    We're on mains water at the mo, and this is for irrigation mostly (10 weeks without rain last summer!), but in extremis I'm going to solar pump the rain water up to the header tank in the roof space using a float switch, most of this will go to the thermal store for hot water heated by solar thermal and a wood fired stove.
    I'd like to divert some of this from the header tank to the kitchen for a third tap for drinking water only. I can add other in line filters to reduce the amount of detritus further if necessary.
    I've already got a katadyn filter I could use but I'm looking for a plumbed in solution which is not mains powered if possible.

    Answers on a postcard please..

    If you are going to use drip irrigation you need a 150 mesh screen filter for gallon per hour or more emitters and 200 mesh for 1/2 gal hr^-1 emitters. If you aren't using emitters you don't need to filter the water. If you're going to drink the water you need to force it thru a ceramic filter that will take out pathogens down to a size of about .5 microns or so. Use your katadyn filter for that. You don't have sufficient pressure w/ 3 m of head for forcing water thru a ceramic filter.

    thanks, good tip

    Paint the outside of the gutter's so no one knows they are copper.

    Units for collecting rainwater from the roof are called cisterns. Runoff is diverted into the cistern after it has rained enough to run clean. My Grandmother, who dressed head to foot in solid black, lived into her 80's. I believe we are approaching the time where survival will trump squimish.

    You would need a metal roof as the asphalt shingles give off debris. The local (Cent PA) Mennonites all have metal roofs, including the secular ones. Very few have cisterns, some of the younger ones didn't know what a cistern was. When I get a group of them I remind them of how good they have it compared to their elders. I asked a group how many knew how to sheaf with a scythe and cradle, I drew blank looks.

    Their past is their present and our (desendents) future. We,the survivors or remminent, will have to make a much, much larger adjustment.


    Saw these at a solar show a while back, Solves the roof dust issue
    at high flows. - www.rainfilters.com

    ALL my drinking H2O is gravity dripped thru an Aquarain or Berkey style unit. - It's an extra step & takes up counter space, but I only have but 1 body, and it needs HQ H2O to work right. Tea & coffee
    is so much better. Donald

    How to save money on: Bank accounts

    Banks have designed their fee structures to force consumers into a game of account balance roulette. Remember, punitive fees are critical to banks’ bottom line now – their very survival depends on winning this game. So bankers spend endless hours trying to concoct new rules and booby traps to trip consumers. And when they do slip up, the banks exact a pound of flesh.

    It’s reasonable for banks to charge fees for overdrafts. But tales like Clymer’s are the rule rather than the exception, meaning the punishment often doesn’t fit the crime. The fact that banks now make their living by punishing their customers should tell you all you need to know about this industry.

    One would think that public anger at banks, over fees and arbitrary increases in credit card interest rate increases, is building at a furious rate--especially as the bankers beg for more public money.

    From the bankers point of view, customers are a liability now. Might as well milk them for some cash as they walk out the door. Then get even more TARP next month.

    I wonder if banks, Like American Express, will start paying off customers to close their accounts.

    I don't think so. What Amex is trying to do is get to the head of the line when it comes to bill-paying. If you can't pay all your creditors, they want you to pay them first.

    Banks, OTOH, are using your money. They have no reason to close your account, unless it just becomes too much work. In which case, they can close your account and be rid of you, without losing money.

    Banks, OTOH, are using your money. They have no reason to close your account, unless it just becomes too much work.

    That isn't strictly true. They do run computer programs that identify good customers and bad customers. The former usually keep a high balance, and don't generate lots of non-fee transactions. The later group (at some banks) are flagged since they recon they lose money on them, and tellers are supposed to be deliberately mean, hoping you will go away.

    Tellers? You have got to be kidding. I haven't seen a bank teller in years.

    Yes, and for that privilege you were likely charged a fee to use the ATM.

    Nope. I think it's the other way around. Some banks charge you to see a teller...because it's more expensive than if you use an ATM.

    Not here in Florida. Most banks will let you use their ATM for free, if you have an account. But use some other banks ATM and you pay fees for at both banks. I've heard of a few that still maintain the old ATM fee structures (usually a monthly charge), but don't know of any who charge to see a teller.

    I'd like to hear what others say about this, is this a practice that is markedly different in different places?

    I always use only my own bank's ATMs.

    Internet banks, like ING, have deals where you can bank for free at their affiliated ATMs. You put in your zip code at their web site, and it gives you a list of ATM locations. There are more than for my local bank.

    USAA reimburses for ATM fees... so the customer can withdraw at the machine of his/her choosing. They are based in San Antonio and, I think, only have a couple of actual brick and mortar 'banks'. You can even deposit a check using a computer and scanner, up to 5K/day. And never leave home!

    Membership is for military personnel, children, grandkids, etc... so, not available for everyone.

    I was not entirely serious...

    Clymer's tale is one of the reasons I have banked at a credit union for 35 years. It is in business to serve depositors, not shareholders and excessive executive pay.

    When I use my debit card, the transaction is immediately reflected in my balance. Likewise, if I deposit a check at a cash machine, it immediately posts to my account. No games, just real time transactions that I can depend on.

    As Denninger says, it's all about trust and confidence in the system.

    BTW, it's probably a good idea to use all of your credit cards on a monthly basis and pay off the balance. BofA just reduced the line of credit on card I hadn't used for months, with a zero balance, from $15k to $600.

    Wells Fargo seems to be one of the worse. Your balance would temporarily exceed some limit, they would recommend you change to a different account type, that paid .25% higher interest -in the fine print monthly fines if your balance drops below say $20,000. They would excuse the fines if you griped about them, but it can be quite a hassle that most people skip. Woulda gone to WaMU, who had a reputation for being decent to customers, but I knew they were in trouble (they are now toast). In banking I guess it as an advantage to collect unreasonable and arbitrary fees.

    We opened accounts with WAMU back in around 2000 just as they were moving into our area in a big way. Their reputation for customer service was stellar and they had an honest no fee checking account.

    We banked with them for years an then in late 2006 or early 2007 they started adding fees for this and that. By last summer we were discussing moving those accounts to a local credit union. When it became clear that WAMU would either be taken over by the feds or forced into another banks arms, we starting moving everything. I literally took the last $400 or so out of the ATM in the evening hours after the announcement that WAMU belonged to Chase.

    As it turned out, there was little risk, the transition went smoothly from all reports. But folks who I know that kept their WAMU accounts have reported that ALL the things that were good about WAMU are gone and most are looking for a new bank.

    Processing transactions in anything other than chronological order is simply fraud. They can't be allowed to just override the spacetime continuum whenever it suits them.

    "Upgrading" your account services without obtaining your consent to pay them more each month is theft, plain and simple.

    These people should be in jail. But good luck with that. The laws on the books are loopholed into oblivion through years of banks using our deposit dollars to lobby congress and buy the laws that suit them.

    We can not win this game because the rules have been written by the banks to ensure that we lose. The only winning move is not to play.

    This is what credit unions are for. Slightly less convenient in terms of where I have to go for various things, but they never jerk me around.

    Amen to that. My credit union is convenient enough, they are quite prickly about extending credit to just anybody, and there's almost never a line. (I visit there regularly because of the safe-deposit box.)

    Not a resource news item...but worthly of note (IMO):

    Ruger Y/E 2008 Results


    -- Our firearm sales grew from $144 million in 2007 to $174 million in 2008 on the strength of new product shipments and overall robust firearms demand, particularly in the fourth quarter.

    -- Firearm orders received grew from $156 million in 2007 to $234 million in 2008. The order backlog at December 31, 2008 was $48 million, up from $18 million at December 31, 2007. Nonetheless, shipments in 2009 will be limited to units produced in 2009 as finished goods inventory was depleted during the fourth quarter of 2008.

    -- Firearms unit production increased 29% in 2008 compared to 2007. We expect production capacity to improve in 2009, although at a more modest pace than in 2008, as we continue to work on the transition from large-scale batch production to lean manufacturing, with an emphasis on setting up manufacturing cells that facilitate single-piece flow production and inventory pull systems.

    Civil unrest concerns and/or more hunters? Hmmm...comments (y'all prolly know what I think)

    Gun sales surge after Obama's election


    A gun store where we live had a sign out front that read:

    1776 - 2009

    AK-47s $649

    Someone took a picture of that sign & it made the rounds of the internet.

    We recently purchased a .30-06 with a scope and each pay day we augment our ammo stash. But not because of the Obama election. It's just that when TSHTF I don't want to be killed for lack of returning fire. Had McCain been elected we'd probably be buying even more ammo.

    Fact is, in the near future I expect .22 rounds & shotgun shells to be used as currency.

    Fact is, in the near future I expect .22 rounds & shotgun shells to be used as currency.

    Ammunition, gun magazines, seeds, grain, hand tools, etc., all tend to be highly valued during economic turmoil. If people would simply study the very recent economic collapses of places like Argentina they would see what was highly valued, and it's not electronic bits in some insolvent bank's computer system.

    .30-06? I hope you live on one big parcel, sir, for the sake of your neighbors. I can't imagine needing that kind of range or penetration in defending this ole homestead. I'll stick with the 12 ga.

    12 gauge home defense shotguns are in demand ...


    That does look nice. I hear very good things about the FN tactical semi-auto as well. I already have pump, and I may go semi-auto for my next shotgun. Thinking about a Rem 11-87 just for the popularity (lots of parts and support nearby), though it's perhaps not as good a gun as the FN or Moss and the tactical model is harder to get. There are of course those who swear by Benelli as well. For the Rem and Moss I think swapping for a long barrel is simple -- not so sure about the FN.

    Bonus: spare 12-ga ammo like double-ought and slugs will be good investments to have (but bird shot will likely get the job done just fine too).

    "That does look nice"

    Try to buy that item .... good luck

    Hey, they still make guns and ammo in workshops in the tribal regions of Pakistan. I don't see why we can't do the same here.

    There's been a brisk market for many guns and the prices have gone up. This trend is especially evident in the AR-15 style and variants, perhaps as a lingering fear of additional gun control efforts from the Democrats. There's a bill in Congress to license gun owners, H.R. 45.

    Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 - Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to prohibit a person from possessing a firearm unless that person has been issued a firearm license under this Act...

    (1) IN GENERAL. It shall be unlawful for any person other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to possess a qualifying firearm on or after the applicable date, unless that person has been issued a firearm license...

    The term `qualifying firearm'-- means--
    `(i) any handgun; or
    `(ii) any semiautomatic firearm that can accept any detachable ammunition feeding device...

    E. Swanson

    How can that possibly pass the 2nd amendment test?

    If a person are able to pass the requirements for the license, then one would legally be allowed to possess those guns. There are already restrictions in the Brady Bill which limit purchases of guns to people who do not have criminal records, etc. This just goes a step further, instituting the same sorts of limits now on in effect for sales to actual possession. That would make it much more difficult for a person with a criminal record to acquire pistols, etc.

    Of course, should TSHTF, the records of licenses and purchases would be available to the Government if confiscation were to begin. In that event, the old saying "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" would become the new reality...

    E. Swanson

    Always purchase guns from private individuals and never allow the transaction to be documented. If the PTB know that you're packed, they shoot first & ask questions later.

    The recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Second Amendment as an individual right would probably be used as a basis for trashing any such legislation, even if it passed.

    "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."

    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it."

    -- Abraham Lincoln

    In a 7-2 vote yesterday the US Supreme Court upheld a law banning gun possession by any one convicted of domestic violence. Essentially if you are ever convicted of anything then you can permanently be denied possession of a gun. The ability to limit 2nd Amendment rights by governments at all levels has a long history.

    Ruger should do well, they make the Mini-14 which is probably the leading "SHTF" rifle choice. Compact, reliable and chambered in .223 but doesn't look too much like an assault rifle or "scary black gun", I would imagine they are selling like hotcakes.

    Unless you replace the wooden stock with a black composite folding stock, put a laser pointer on it & equip it with 30 round magazines. Then it looks pretty scary.

    Careful, DD.
    Guns kill birds.

    I wish you guys would stop talking about this stuff. TPTB will add all TOD junkies to "THE LIST".

    Guns don't kill people. Husbands who come home early from work kill people.

    Guns don't kill people - bullets kill people! ;-)

    Guns don't kill people - Rappers do.

    Goldie Lookin Chain.


    No free lunch: Schools get tough on deadbeats

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A cold cheese sandwich, fruit and a milk carton might not seem like much of a meal — but that's what's on the menu for students in New Mexico's largest school district without their lunch money.

    Faced with mounting unpaid lunch charges in the economic downturn, Albuquerque Public Schools last month instituted a "cheese sandwich policy," serving the alternative meals to children whose parents fail to pick up their lunch tab.

    Eh. That was the lunch my mom packed for me and my sister every day.

    The sad thing is, it's probably healthier than the lunch that the kids with money get. The poor kids will probably be the only ones without diabetes, cause they missed out on the pizza, tater tots and coke.

    Sadly, they should toss the bread out, too. The milk and cheese will be carrying any number of USDA approved hormones and pesticides as well.. the fruit? Oh, never mind. Sigh...

    Leanan -- I hate having to take the similar role of the "cranky old fart" but like you that pretty well describes the lunch I paid for in school. Under no circumstance should any of these kids go hungry but if I were in charge those parents better be too poor to take care of their kids properly or I start thinking about child neglect charges.

    That was pretty much my school lunch too, except for once a week when I got 35 cents that I could use to buy a sloppy joe and an ice cream cone at the sandwich shop just across the street from school. The sloppy joe was 25 cents and the ice cream cone was 10 cents. A coke would have been 10 cents too but I could never weasel 45 cents from my grandfather. ;)

    That's the lunch I packed for myself today (pepper cheese, no milk, just water).

    I must say I like the idea of lunch segregation-by-"class." It is fine to feed the poor deadbeats, But I think they should make them eat outside.

    I think they should also make separate bathrooms and drinking fountains for the DeadBeats. They can use the puddles outside, where they eat.

    Keep the sparkling chrome and porcelin lavoratories for those who paid their taxes, still own their own homes, have a job, took bank bail-out money and/or worked for a bank, the Fed, in Congress or the SEC.

    Thats what my mom packed also, bologna was a treat. I never felt deprived and most of the other kids were eating something similar.

    I was 17 years old before I learned that bologna was not "round steak". I much preferred salami to it. Now, I don't eat either one. Fixing to get two calves back from the butcher and hope to have enough freezer space to hold them - well, not the liver, tongues and ostails. They go to strange folks who like them right off the bat.

    I felt deprived, because the other kids either bought school lunches, or got junk food treats like chips, cookies, Twinkies, etc. along with their sandwiches. But my parents taught me early that life was unfair. We didn't have the money for junk food, but even if we did, my mom probably wouldn't have given it it me. At least, not often. She tried not to offer unhealthy food.

    I am not sure if this was posted, but Russia is blocking Exxon and OVL from further developing Sakhalin-1:

    New Delhi (PTI): State-run ONGC Videsh Ltd's mega Sakhalin-1 project in Russia is headed for trouble after Kremlin refused to approve its budget and work plans, leading to suspension of work on future phases.

    The $17-billion Sakhalin-1 project, where OVL has 20 per cent stake, comprises three offshore fields - Chayvo, Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi. Of these, Russian authorities have not approved work programme on the Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi.

    The authorised state body did not approve budgets and work plans, forcing Exxon Mobil, the operator of the Sakhalin-1 project, to suspend its work on the two deposits, sources said.

    However, production from the Chayvo field, that started pumping oil in 2005, would not be impacted, they said, adding the Russian company may be wanting to confine the Sakhalin-1 consortium to just Chayvo field and snatch away the other two fields.

    The Chayvo field has seen a 23 per cent fall in production since it started pumping oil. Output has tumbled to about 193,000 barrels of crude oil per day from a February 2007 peak of 250,000 bpd. Production may slid another 11 per cent in 2009.

    Full story:
    also here:


    Nawar -- I haven't seen reports for a while but at one point THE big Russian complaint was the cost over runs. As I understand the general agreement, the companies get to recover 100% of their investments (and maybe more) before the Russian split can escalate. I vaguely recall them getting into a fight with Shell Oil over its future projected costs.

    Thanks for the clarification Rockman, blocking it on such grounds does make some sense, but I guess it can also be a cover for a political blockage, or a way to favor someone else, under the pretext that they can develop it for a lower cost such as Gazprom “surprise surprise!” ; however no matter what the reason for such a blockage, this is a further blow to the Russian oil production for 2009.


    Pricing: That old black magic

    That stalwart, the CPI, or consumer price index climbed 0.3% in January. If you exclude energy and food (I know I know, economists don't eat or drive?) it was up 0.2%. This is not so interesting by itself. Much more intriguing is the yearly number for 2008. For the year just ended, inflation was... ZERO. That's right, last year prices on average, overall did not budge. It's also the lowest reading since prices actually fell 0.4% in 1955. Yet one more sign that we are living in unusual times.

    So what does that mean? In one sense it means we are living on the edge.

    I would contend that anything below 1.0%+/- is pretty much indecipherable from random background noise. The threshold might actually even be a lot higher than that.

    Near deflation? Deflationary cycles really are a bitch, just ask the Japanese.

    The Japanese were lucky the past two decades.

    They had the luxury of a national depression during a world-wide economic melt-up.

    Now enters the World-Wide Depression.

    This timezUp there will Not be a soft landing, followed by a decade of 'luxurious destitution.'

    The manner in which the CPI includes housing was used for years as to why it understated inflation and now it coincidentally overstates inflation. This is all due to the owner equivalent rent silliness. During the housing boom home prices rose but were folded into the CPI based on rental prices for those homes (not the purchase price or even the mortgage payment!!), which lagged hard behind the rise in house prices and obscured that rise. Now with foreclosures shooting up, demand for rentals is shooting up leading to higher than normal rental numbers and obscuring the fall in house prices.

    Mish has written about the CS-CPI (a CPI equivalent using the Case Schiller housing data) and it shows a near 5% deflation going on.

    No, rents are falling and rental vacancies are increasing pretty much nationwide, as people-per-household numbers continue to rise:


    The national rental vacancy rate now stands at 10.1%, up from 9.6% a year ago

    Just a few thoughts on a number of issues:

    1) Most of the world uses coal in an ass-backward way. Coal's biggest problem is that it is terribly inefficient to burn in a central power plant because it is limited to the Rankine cycle, limiting it to currently to the low to mid 40s in terms of efficiency (in ultra-supercritical). Natural gas can also use the Brayton cycle, so CCGT plants can now be built with 60% efficiency. With coal plants leaving behind so much excess heat, wouldn't coal be a prime candidate for cogeneration?

    2) Fuel cells have been put down over the last several years because batteries are simply more efficient way to store energy. It is unlikely that hydrogen fuel cells will be the principle source of energy for light vehicles, but batteries are really impractical for many applications, including locomotives, heavy trucks, farm equipment, etc. Fuel cells seem much more practical for those applications (especially for locomotives, which only use diesel to run the electric motors).

    3) Since coal gasification (or biomass gasification, I suppose) plants are the only plants that can economically sequester CO2, and since coal gasification can be used to produce hydrogen, couldn't a carbon capture gasification facility pipe hydrogen into metropolitan areas for cogen fuel cells for buildings?

    4) Carbon capture biomass gasificaion is carbon negative.

    5) With much of the world's LNG going to run power plants, would it make more sense to turn the natural gas into liquid hydrogen and deliver it directly to a fuel cell power plant?

    I never understood why people think batteries would not be ideal for tractors. I think that would be the best application. You need excess weight which is sometimes added with wheel weights or extra cast iron hung off the front. The larger lead acid batteries used for forklifts can hold 70 KWH of power and weigh about 3000 pounds. A couple of them would provide the weight offset by the lack of an engine and the electric motors supply tremendous torque which is what you are looking for in tractors. Duty cycle would match recharge times as well with recharge at off peak. Where am I going wrong here?

    Well if you have a farm that's thousands of acres, you're running the combines, tractors, etc for a full workday (without stopping). Can't conceive of a battery working for that long.

    I looked into this a bit. For a given field operation there is an optimum tractor speed and power required (a function of speed, implement type, and implement size). You end up with a gallons of diesel per acre for each operation, more or less.

    A battery-powered tractor would limit the duty-cycle (time on task) or power (usable implement size, therefore the time required per acre). It'll take an awfully big battery to equal the power storage of even a few dozen gallons of diesel.

    Of course, you could have tricks like swapping out battery packs or quick-charge, or (my favorite) liquid flow battery (like vanadium) tanks that could be rapidly refilled, but all those take some extra time. But if there is nothing else, a battery tractor would still beat hand-work, or probably any draft animal.

    If I had time and motivation, I'd make a battery-powered Ford 8N just for grins. Not really a farming tractor, but there sure are a lot of them used for general farm use and other utility needs.

    Edit: I should also say that I determined, without much accuracy or details, that woodgas or ethanol would likely work just about as well as batteries for farm-tractor use, and wind-fed NH3 would likely work better.

    You don't need the batteries or the tractors. Stop plowing. Work less. Grow more.


    Boomers: 30% underwater

    Many of those nearing retirement will have very little to live on thanks to an erosion of home equity.

    And the boomers are now asked to pay for the illegal mortgages ....

    Denninger speaks on ... Olbermann , Santelli video


    How were boomers going to live on home equity? Presumably it's the kids that were going to live on boomers home equity after they inherited their parents home! Maybe a long wait, then again prices may be up again in 30 years.

    From the link on the European cap and trade scheme

    this market is now failing in its purpose: to edge up the cost of emitting CO2

    No the objective is to keep emissions below a predetermined limit. Whether the CO2 price rises or falls is irrelevant and price falls are an advantage of such schemes over a carbon tax.

    "The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group set up by the United Nations, told lawmakers on the Environment and Public Works Committee that Earth has about six more years at current rates of carbon dioxide pollution before it is locked into a future of severe global warming."

    What are we locked into now ?

    If we are truely fucd , then why should anyone care about any of it ??

    Don't pay any attention to them.

    The IPCC is irrelevant. They are beginning to recognize their insignificance and they are getting desperate for attention.

    Next week they plan on saying they were too optimistic. We actually only have 2 yrs, 6 months to avoid "severe global warming."

    And that is only if we bailout GreenPeace and Iceland before May '09. Otherwise, it could be as little as 1 yr, 2 months before it is "too late."

    The IPCC is not irrelevant - their AR4, a politically influenced document compromised by "some" of the member nations on the UN, like the US and Saudi Arabia, and only approximated with sophisticated models the climate from the past, and stuff like albedo switch and CH4 releases from methane hydrates / clathrates are starting to take hold. Even if you want to poke fun at the CC research, their conclusions about ocean acidification make CO2 emissions a major concern, and that is being proven up much, much faster than CC.

    The IPCC is irrelevant.

    What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.

    - Doobies

    The Spectacular, Sudden Crash of the Global Economy

    When the oil shock hit in 1973, those in the top one percent of the income ladder took in just over 9 percent of the nation’s income; by 2006, they grabbed almost 23 percent. In the intervening years, their average incomes more than tripled.

    The rest of us didn’t do as well. In 1973, the bottom 90 percent of the economic pile -- most of us -- shared two-thirds of the nation’s income; by 2006, we got half. If you take off the top ten percent of the income ladder, the rest of the country in 2006 earned, on average, 2 percent less than they did 30 plus years earlier, despite the fact that the economy as a whole had grown by 160 percent over that time.

    But we continued to buy; it's become almost a cliché to say that American consumerism is the engine of the global economy.

    How did we do it with incomes stagnating? First, women entered the workforce in huge numbers, transforming the “typical” single-breadwinner family into a two-earner household. (Between 1955 and 2002, the percentage of working-age women who had jobs outside the home almost doubled.)

    After that, we started financing our lifestyles through debt -- mounds of it.

    Hello TODers,

    Russia's Economy Falls at an 8% Annual Rate in January

    Russia’s economy contracted at an annual rate of 8.8% in January, according to the latest statement by the Russian economy minister. This data point, which provides us with the latest confirmation that a very sharp contraction is now taking place in Russia, follows last week's announcement by economic development minister Elvira Nabiullina that the economy shrank by 2.4 percent between December and January. Industrial production also fell 16 percent year-on-year in January, while there was a 17 percent decline in construction.

    ..Among the hardest-hit segments, the ministry cited fertiliser producers, which cut output by 42 percent, while tyre producers reduced their output to almost zero. Car production also fell, by 80 percent, and the ministry cited lack of cheap car loans amid a general decline of personal income and excessive production in 2008. Retail sales and agriculture still remained in positive territory areas which were still growing - at 2.4 percent and 2.6 percent respectively - although they are already down sharply and there is evidently more to come..
    This 42% reduction in fertilizer production may add more ammo to Matt Simmons argument that Russian natgas has now gone postPeak [or at least falls below their MOL during the Winter demand spike].

    This is because you normally want to run your H-B plants year round and constantly move your ammonia & urea closer to the fields for a smooth supply chain dispersement function to meet the high demand seasonal planting & fertilization timeslots. In other words: you just can't make or stockpile multi-millions of tons at the factory, then quickly move this globally,then further locally at the last minute.

    Thus IMO, this extreme H-B curtailment helps support Matt's argument. Also, why would Russia want to lose the foreign exchange from I-NPK exports unless they had an internal natgas emergency?

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

    Hello Jmygann,

    Thxs for the link. As I have been saying for sometime: when things get really bad postPeak, then fertilizer will be More Valuable than gold. You can't eat gold.

    Hello TODers,

    It now looks like the rioting in Guadeloupe is spreading elsewhere:

    Stores looted, cars burned on island of Martinique
    By RODOLPHE LAMY – 49 minutes ago

    FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) — French police officers patrolled Martinique's capital late Wednesday after vandals burned cars and looted stores overnight as protests over high prices, low pay and alleged neglect by officials in Paris spread to a second Caribbean island.

    New Caledonian union plans Guadeloupe-style strike action.

    The leader of New Caledonia’s mainly Kanak USTKE union says it will launch a general strike similar to the prolonged stoppages that have paralysed the French Antilles.

    Gerard Jodar has told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes newspaper that the strike will last a long time, and once the French state uses security forces, there will be clashes.
    For those rusty on their geography: New Caledonia is in the South Pcific. [From WIKI]: New Caledonia is located around 21°30′S 165°30′E / 21.5°S 165.5°E / -21.5; 165.5 in the southwest Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,200 kilometres (746 mi) east of Australia and 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) northwest of New Zealand.

    Man, talk about the middle of nowhere. If anyone chould feel isolated from the global woes, you'd think it would be these. Not looking real good out there this week.

    Just a quick note on my own logistics, I really enjoy TOD, I learn something new here everyday, the range of knowledge is just very cool. I read intently.

    The way I live means after my glass of OJ in the morning, I am out and about, wood to cut or split, snow to shovel, dishes to do, laundry to hang. I go to work late and get in later. So if I post it's even later. The next day by the time I get here there is so much to read, I never get back to the old posts I've made. Just an apology if you commented on a post I made and I never got back to you.

    I don't have a desk job with internet access, that allows me time to read everything here when I'm supposed to be working.

    Email is in my profile, if you want.


    Don in Maine

    Hi Don,

    How are you and your wife doing? You mentioned that the hospital where you both work is cutting its budget and that there may be lay-offs or a reduction in staff hours. Have things stabilized or improved since then?


    I routinely go back and check DBs for at least a couple of days after they have passed, just in case someone replied to something I posted. I would commend this habit to everyone that posts here.

    Hello TODers,

    Jim Rogers latest on Youtube [10:32]:

    Jim Rogers: I expect to see civil unrest in the U.S...
    plus much more such as basically become a farmer if you expect to survive. Have you hugged you bag of NPK today?

    Was at the pub tonight, and tempted to give the glass-half-full Peak Oil shoutout, but I looked around me and said, no... none of these people would get it.

    Hello Consumer,

    IMO, you should just go and and do it anyway. If someone comes up and asks why you did the shoutout: it gives you a great opportunity to start a Peak Outreach conversation and/or to give them a piece of paper with a list of your favorite Peak Websites and/or Peak books.

    Think back: at one time, none of us understood or appreciated this stuff until we individually discovered, then studied this info on our own...

    I've got a question that I've been pondering for some time now and I'd appreciate anyone's input or answer. I always hear that fires, emergencies and unplanned shutdowns at refineries cause the price of crude to jump. It does not make any sense to me other than that the traders on the NYMEX have no idea that crude oil isn't produced by refineries but is purchased or used by them. If anything, I would expect that the price of crude drop as there will not be less demand if supply is held constant. Anyone have any input on this matter?

    Hello TODers,

    The News On Fertilizer Prices, And Its Not Friendly To Farmers

    Some farmers have it, and other farmers don’t. Some have paid high prices for it, and others are hoping they will not have to. Fertilizer is the topic of many coffee shop conversations, as well as hours spent on working on crop budgets, and probably a few sleepless nights. Tough decisions will soon have to be made, but prices will depend on the demand this spring.

    ..But the USDA economist says prices may not remain soft..

    [USDA Economic Research Service] Farm Income and Costs: 2009 Farm Sector Income Forecast

    ..Many farmers probably held off purchasing fertilizer as they waited for retail prices to come down. The volatility in commodity prices and the credit market has made farmers cautious. At the same time, suppliers, who had bought their fertilizer inventories at the higher prices, have been reticent to lower the prices they offer to farmers.

    In addition, many fertilizer dealers have been requiring full cash payments. Farmers will eventually need to buy fertilizer, but the timing and the purchase prices are indeterminate at the moment. A sudden, large-scale surge in purchases during the spring would create greater demand than usual.

    Further, because of the current dropoff in demand, some fertilizer production plants have been closed, so the supply of fertilizers may be constricted when producers try to purchase for the 2009 crop year. These factors could keep retail prices from falling to the same extent that wholesale prices have.

    Hello TODers,

    I think I have mentioned many times before our Strategic Need to go to full-on O-NPK recycling to help reduce soil degradation:


    ..In the United States alone, more than 20 percent of the land surface is in varying degrees of degradation, which makes the country the fourth most severely affected by land degradation worldwide. According to the FAO's Global Land Degradation Assessment only Russia, African states south of the equator and Canada are ahead of the United States in terms of degraded lands. It affects about 30 million Americans - 10 percent of the population - which is equal to the population of the states of New York and Ohio combined.

    Desertification and dustbowl-type soil erosion has historically been a problem and remains a concern across a large portion of the western United States. Recent droughts have increased U.S. vulnerability as desert areas have increased by about 2 percent. Some 20 million ha, or 50 million acres, of arable land are lost every year to desertification and land degradation..
    I encourage you to read the link, not just my teaser segment above.

    EDIT: I am guessing this is the relevant weblink to get the UN FAO source study:

    Land degradation on the rise
    One fourth of the world’s population affected, says new study
    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    Hello TODers,

    Imagine the pollution and climate changing effect of burning the equivalent of about 10 additional Ghawars oilfields a year:

    Australia fires release huge amount of CO2 -scientist

    ..Research on the forest and peat fires by a team of international scientists found the blazes released the equivalent of up to 40 percent of global annual emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    ..He said in the past, native forest carbon had been in rough equilibrium over millions of years with fires, with very small accretion of carbon over very long periods of time.

    "But then if you add rapid climate change and much greater fire frequency, the equilibrium carbon content of the native forests, instead of going up, is going to go down."

    Australia prepares for day of horror
    Gee, I can hardly wait for the summer fires to start here in my Az. :(

    Hello TODers,

    I wonder when our Wall Street will resemble the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange?

    A 25-Minute Work Week on Zimbabwe's Stock Exchange

    "People took every shortcut to get instant riches"...Trading on Zimbabwe's volatile stock market made Wall Street's dubious derivatives look like Treasury bills.