DrumBeat: February 28, 2009

Vital questions: Oil industry enduring uncertainty over refinery, laws, taxes

The one great indicator of how Kern’s oil industry is doing — the price of a barrel of heavy crude — is almost beside the point these days.

Yes, this winter’s prices are far less than summer’s record highs, continuing a cycle of booms and busts. And after the recent run-up in materials and diesel, some of the county’s independent producers only just cover their costs. But both of these challenges — low prices and high costs — merely exacerbate a deeper problem vexing the industry locally: uncertainty.

The people's premiere

Six years ago a young woman with no film training and just one full-length documentary to her name dropped in to the Guardian to ask for some advice. Long before anyone had heard of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, she planned to make a low-budget documentary about oil and climate change. Where should she go? Try Iraq and the Niger delta, two of the most volatile, oil-rich places on earth, the grizzled environmental correspondents advised her - hoping that she would come to no harm.

Blow me, but in 15 days' time, a bright green carpet will be unrolled in Leicester Square and Franny Armstrong, now 35, better travelled but just as singleminded, will trip down it in the company of A-list celebs, to a specially constructed solar-powered cinema. There they will see a docu-drama set in Nigeria, Iraq and elsewhere starring Pete Postlethwaite - the man Stephen Spielberg called the best actor in the world - playing an old man looking back from a climate-changed future world to documentary footage shot in 2008.

Saudi Aramco agrees with two firms to develop Karan on-shore gas field

RIYADH (KUNA) -- Saudi oil exporter Aramco signed contracts with South Korean Hyundai Engineering and Construction, and British Petrofac Ltd. for the development of on-shore Karan gas field.

Karan field is the first producing non-associated gas to be developed by Aramco in the submerged zone in a drive to honor growing domestic demand, said a statement by the Saudi company.

Sunoco Workers Plan Strike Tomorrow as Talks Stall

(Bloomberg) -- Union workers at Sunoco Inc.’s Philadelphia and Marcus Hook refineries plan to strike tomorrow if the oil company doesn’t agree to terms of a national labor contract and drop plans to cut jobs.

An agreement for about 1,250 refinery workers expires at noon tomorrow. Sunoco, the largest refiner in the Northeast, said it will operate the refineries in the event of a strike. Together they can process 549,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

Yellow Is the New Green

IN the far reaches of Shaanxi Province in northern China, in an apple-producing village named Ganquanfang, I recently visited a house belonging to two cheery primary-school teachers, Zhang Min Shu and his wife, Wu Zhaoxian. Their house wasn’t exceptional — a spacious yard, several rooms — except for the bathroom. There, up a few steps on a tiled platform, sat a toilet unlike any I’d seen. Its pan was divided in two: solid waste went in the back, and the front compartment collected urine. The liquids and solids can, after a decent period of storage and composting, be applied to the fields as pathogen-free, expense-free fertilizer.

American taste for soft toilet roll 'worse than driving Hummers'

Extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet roll made from virgin forest causes more damage than gas-guzzlers, fast food or McMansions, say campaigners.

Obama’s Greenhouse Gas Gamble

WASHINGTON — In proposing mandatory caps on the greenhouse gases linked to global warming and a system for auctioning permits to companies that emit them, President Obama is taking on a huge political and economic challenge.

Business lobbies and many Republicans raised loud objections to the cap-and-trade program Mr. Obama proposed as part of his budget this week, saying the plan amounted to a gigantic and permanent tax on oil, electricity and manufactured goods, a shock they said the country could not handle during economic distress.

Deutsche Bank analyzes oil production costs

HOUSTON -- A new Deutsche Bank analysis finds that in the short term, oil prices likely would have to fall to $20/bbl and below for nonmembers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to shut in a large amount of production.

However, with investment now falling, the downside risks to supply forecasts are increasing. This suggests that upside price risks, once demand recovers, are considerable.

Oil May Rise on OPEC Production Cuts, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil futures may rise as OPEC production reductions begin to be felt in consuming countries and U.S. gasoline consumption increases.

Fifteen of 31 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, or 48 percent, said futures will increase through March 6. Ten respondents, or 32 percent, forecast oil prices will be little changed and six said that there will be a decline. Last week, 43 percent of analysts expected prices would fall.

Nigeria militants say will sabotage Sahara gas pipe

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria's main militant group on Saturday threatened to sabotage a multi-billion dollar plan to pipe Nigerian gas to Europe across the Sahara desert, a scheme that has attracted EU and Russian energy majors.

The project, with capital costs estimated at $10 billion for the pipeline and $3 billion for gathering centres, would send up to 30 billion cubic metres a year of gas to Europe via a 4,128 km (2,580 mile) pipeline from Nigeria via Niger and Algeria.

Women lead a farming revolution in Iowa

As wives inherit husbands’ farmland, they stress conservation over maximizing profit.

Big Box of Trouble: Dealing with the Coming Plague of Empty Superstores

The problem of retail vacancies on this scale is so new that it hasn’t really been studied yet. Perhaps the only authority on the subject of empty big box stores is Oberlin College professor and artist Julia Christensen. She has spent the last seven years traveling around the country seeking out and documenting cases of communities reclaiming abandoned big boxes and putting them to a socially productive use–for instance, as museums, libraries, rec centers, and schools. She wrote about it all in her recently published book Big Box Reuse (MIT Press). A few days ago, we got her thoughts on how towns and cities can make beneficial use of these vacant structures and turn a hole in the local fabric into a community asset.

Adapting to water woes

The southwestern United States is moving headlong toward an environmental catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions.

The already drought-prone region is almost entirely dependent on a shrinking snowpack and sparse rain in the Colorado River Basin. As the planet’s climate changes, an already overtaxed and volatile water supply is expected to get even more unstable.

“A lot of people say that in global warming there will be winners and losers. In the Southwest, we’ll be in the losers’ category,” University of Arizona climatologist Jonathan Overpeck said at a symposium on global warming’s effect on the Southwest.

Bad economy, better lungs?

TAIYUAN, China — The residents of Taiyuan measure their air pollution in dirty clothes.

In years past, when China’s boom created endless demand for this area’s coal, iron and steel, a white shirt stayed fresh only a few hours, turning black around the collar and sleeves before day’s end. When the government shut down hundreds of factories in and around Taiyuan ahead of the Olympics last year, clean shirts began to last two days. Now, six months into an economic slowdown that has snuffed demand for power and metals from China’s furnace, a man’s suit can stay crisp for three days without laundering.

“I don’t need to do so much laundry these days,” said Zhao Jihong, a 25-year-old environmentalist who works to encourage local companies to adopt pollution controls.

Saudi scholar warns alcohol in bio fuel is a sin

A prominent Saudi scholar warned youths studying abroad of using ethanol or other fuel that contains alcohol in their cars since they could be committing a sin, local press reported Thursday.

Sheikh Mohamed Al-Najimi, member of the Saudi Islamic Jurisprudence Academy, based his statement on a saying by the prophet that prohibited all kinds of dealings with alcohol including buying, selling, carrying, serving, drinking, and manufacturing, the Saudi newspaper Shams reported Thursday.

Saudi and Muslim youth studying abroad would violate the prohibition if they used bio fuel, he said, since it “is basically made up of alcohol.”

A road map to better US roads

It sounds Orwellian, the idea of tracking drivers from space, then taxing them based on miles traveled. But taxing miles instead of gasoline is a more reliable way to pay for America's highways. And it's not the Big Brother intrusion it appears to be.

Gas taxes – at both the federal and state levels – must inevitably go the way of the gas guzzler.

As vehicles become more fuel-efficient, they'll drink less gas, and thus produce less revenue to maintain and improve America's aging roads and mass transit. Add electric cars to the mix, and this revenue stream turns to a trickle.

Mexico's Oil Challenge Rises with New Output Drop

Doubts are growing that Mexico can halt a four-year decline in crude oil production after its January oil output slumped to a more than 13-year low, due to bureaucratic delays and technical challenges.

Crude output in Mexico, a top U.S. supplier, dropped 9.2 percent year-on-year in January to 2.685 million barrels per day, its lowest level since November 1995 and just below state oil company Pemex's 2009 target of 2.7 to 2.8 million bpd.

Pemex's assurances it can halt the slide -- the result of a failure to prepare for the decline of the huge Cantarell oil field -- and waning volumes risk hurting government coffers just as the economic downturn bites.

Apache Halts Australian Production Ahead of Possible Cyclone

Apache Energy Corp. Friday said that it has ceased production at its Stag and Legendre oil and condensate operations in offshore Western Australia because of bad weather conditions.

Chrysler scraps clocks in race against time

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler LLC, which is seeking $5 billion in additional federal aid to survive, has lowered the thermostat, dimmed the lights and stripped the clocks from the walls of its sprawling headquarters to save cash.

The automaker's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan includes a 15-story office tower and a technical center covering 121 acres, making it the second-largest office complex in the United States, behind only the Pentagon.

To cut costs, Chrysler has removed half of the fluorescent light bulbs in overhead lighting fixtures (projected annual savings: $400,000), dropped the temperature in the building by four degrees ($70,000) and stopped clearing snow from roof-top parking decks ($310,000).

Kenya: Student riots cause Sh7m damage

Egerton University students went on the rampage, destroying property worth more than Sh7 million at the Njoro main campus.

Scores of students were injured during the Thursday night mayhem that left a trail of destruction in residential and dinning halls.

The students, who were protesting against frequent power outages, accused the institution’s management of taking long to address their grievances.

Ethanol boom-bust scares off investors-analyst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Investors burned by the recent boom and bust in the U.S. ethanol industry will be wary of pouring money into plants for the next generation of biofuels without more stable returns, a J.P. Morgan analyst said on Friday.

Europe mulls running ageing coal plants until 2020

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Dozens of aging European coal-fired power stations could win life extensions to 2020 if they agree to scale back their operating hours, according to a proposal to be tabled by the European Union's Czech presidency.

The proposal has been made in an overhaul of EU acid rain laws, seen by Reuters on Friday, and it is aimed at ending opposition from countries with coal-powered economies that fear future energy shortages.

Black is the new green

What is different about biochar is that the stability of the charcoal should make it possible to lock away the carbon it contains for hundreds of years. The carbon is mineralised, so it’s very resistant to breaking down. What’s more, the ancillary benefits – not just its soil-improving characteristics, but certain byproducts of its manufacture – should be enough to make it economically attractive.

Whe the Obama Climate Change Plan Won't Work

President Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade plan for reducing greenhouse gases will not achieve the reductions quickly enough to prevent devastating climate change, according to an analysis posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The broad political support for cap-and-trade scheme is rooted in its biggest flaw – that an incremental approach designed to keep prices for carbon-based energy low will be insufficient to accomplish a quick shift in energy sources.

Capitol Hill coal power plant targeted by environmentalists

Campaigners are converging on Washington to press for the closure of 'Congress's own coal fired power plant', marking a political turning point for the future of the fossil fuel.

High Speed, High Cost, High Income Rail

Long ago, I was a rare critic of DC's Metro subway plans, not because I was against mass transit, but because it was a highly inefficient way of spending mass transit funds compared to light rail or exclusive bus lanes. At the time we could have had ten times as many miles of light rail for the same price of the subway system.

The other day I was struck by Metro bragging about its record ridership during the Obama inauguration. I was one of the few people in town who noticed that Metro had finally achieved what it had, at the beginning, promised the federal government would be normal. We needed a first black president to get that many riders. Further, Metro doesn't even have the capacity to handle that many people on a regular basis.

Other problems I correctly projected included the fact that Metro wouldn't really compete with the automobile but with its own bus lines, that it was more of a land development than a transit scheme, and that auto traffic would increase as the subway encouraged new buildings but that a majority of the new users of these buildings would still come by car.

BP’s Russian Unit TNK-BP to Start Selling Crude Oil in Rubles

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s Russian unit TNK-BP will start selling crude oil in rubles as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seeks greater control over prices for the country’s biggest export earner.

Mexico's Pemex declares US$7b loss

MEXICO CITY: Mexican national oil company Pemex announced on Friday a loss of more than seven billion dollars in 2008, a sixfold increase over the previous year, a company spokesman said.

The loss was mainly attributed to the drop in the peso's value, the spokesman told AFP.

KPC sells Saudi Arabia 500,000 barrels of gas oil

(MENAFN) Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) sold about 500,000 barrels of gas oil to Saudi Arabia, and the medium-sulphur cargoes each of 250,000 barrels, will be delivered by the end of this month and in early March, The Peninsula reported.

Trading sources said that the gas oil shipments were initially scheduled to be imported to Indonesia, and are slated to be shipped into the northern Gulf port of Ras Tanura.

Iraq parliament likely to cut 2009 budget, again

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament is likely to cut the country's oil-dependent budget, already slashed twice because of the collapse in global crude prices, before approving government spending plans, lawmakers said on Saturday. The 2009 budget had been due to be put to a vote on Saturday but negotiations over further cutbacks delayed the session.

Iraq is struggling with slumping income from oil exports.

Iraq arrests Al-Qaeda 'oil minister'

Mohammed was known for his involvement in hijacking tanker shipments of crude oil and petrol for Al-Qaeda and abducting the drivers.

Basra oil exports down due to depleted stocks

Oil exports from Iraq's southern Basra terminal fell to a rate of 648,000 barrels per day on Saturday from 1.48 million bpd on Friday due to reduced crude stocks in storage, a shipper said.

Iraq plans to boost output to 300,000 bpd

Iraq hopes to turn around years of sluggish oil production and boost output by over 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of next year, its oil minister said.

Nigeria oil exports rise in April, exceed OPEC target

LONDON (Reuters) - Nigeria's crude oil exports were expected to rise to about 1.88 million barrels per day (bpd) in April from 1.70 million bpd in March, trade sources said on Friday.

The expected April export figures exceed the implied target of 1.67 million bpd set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that came into effect on January 1.

Kuwait oil exports to Japan surge 26.6 pc

TOKYO (KUNA): Kuwait’s crude oil exports to Japan rose 26.6 percent in January from a year earlier to 10.31 million barrels, or 333,000 barrels per day, up for the second straight month, the concerned government agency said Friday.

Japan is Kuwait’s largest oil buyer, taking around 20 percent of its shipments annually.

14 firms qualify for Jazan refinery in Saudi Arabia

(MENAFN - Arab News) Eight Saudi companies and six foreign firms have been qualified for the bidding round of the export-oriented Jazan refinery project, which will have a capacity to produce 250,000 to 400,000 barrels per day, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi announced yesterday.

Major oil field found in north China

HOHHOT (Xinhua) -- An oil field with reserves of about100 million tonnes has been found in Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where the Shenzhou-7 space module landed last year.

Experts said the oil field has workable reserves of 35 million to 40 million tonnes.

Ford to build EcoBoost at Cleveland plant

BROOK PARK, Ohio (AP) — The first Ford Motor Co. plant to make a new line of fuel-efficient engines will help the company deliver the kind of fuel economy that customers demand, officials said Friday.

The plant in suburban Cleveland, idled since 2007, was chosen to make the 3.5-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engines that will be standard on the Ford Taurus SHO and optional on the Lincoln MKS and MKT, and Ford Flex cars.

Lawmakers deadlocked on fuel taxes, license plates

PIERRE - South Dakota legislators who want to raise license plate fees and increase taxes on gasoline and diesel are having trouble getting traction.

Local governments are falling $50 million behind annually, while the state Department of Transportation has been shifted into preservation mode for state highways and interstates because money is tight.

Utility to add $7 fee to offset gas usage drops

In March, Virginia Natural Gas customers will start paying a charge related to the company's new conservation program.

The March bill will show a $7 charge for customers who use 10,000 cubic feet of gas, or 100 Ccf. A state law passed last year allows the natural gas provider to add the charge to make up the income it will lose if customers reduce their usage.

A Common Sense Approach to Transportation Fleet Management

The big talk for the last 18 months has, of course, been fuel prices. Soaring upwards, crashing back to the ground—leaving transportation managers caught in the uncertainty of no-man’s land. But Bentz insists that the care and feeding of the transportation budget line goes beyond just monitoring prices at the pump.

Switching the fleet to alternative fuels or to hybrid vehicles, for example, may have made economic sense when fuel cost more than $4 per gallon. When fuel costs dropped to under $2 per gallon, alternative options became less attractive. “As we reach World Peak Oil (the point at which maximum extraction is reached, currently predicted to begin sometime between the years 2010 and 2030) and the resulting inexorable decline in production in the face of continually rising demand, fuel costs will go up again,” Bentz predicts.

Biden Says Renewable Energy Jobs to Lift Middle Class, Economy

(Bloomberg) -- Vice President Joe Biden said investments in renewable energy and conservation will help create “tens of thousands” of well-paying jobs that will strengthen the middle class.

“We look at this as a whole new approach,” Biden said today at a forum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to highlight the Obama administration’s so-called green jobs initiatives.

Growth, expansion, increase and development in Colorado

In short, we face ominous realities for this civilization. No amount of alternative energy can or will replace the energy density of oil. Yet, leaders like U.S. Senator Mark Udall, Governor Bill Ritter, and as yet, little known Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado--do not fully grasp what we face. Udall, by his own words, said we can continue adding 1.2 million immigrants annually into the USA. He actually supported doubling legal immigration from 1.2 million to 2.4 million in 2007. Results: 100 million people added to the USA by 2035.

Ironically, those men endorse alternative energy, seemingly unaware they promote policies that negate any efforts for alternative energy to succeed. How’s that you ask? For every advancement of alternative energy, Colorado adds 100,000 people annually. For every breakthrough in conservation, another 100,000 people negate any chance for a viable solution. Demographic projections show Colorado adding five to six million people by mid century.

Oilman touts alternative energy

Pickens noted that global supply of oil is currently around 85 million barrels a day, with the U.S. burning through around 20 million barrels by itself.

“We’re using 25 percent of all the oil with 4 percent of the population, and we have only 3 percent of the reserves in the world,” he said. “We’re going to have to face up to that at some point. We have to start getting ourselves out of the trap we’ve put ourselves in. It’s not anybody’s fault but ours.”

Sacred Demise: New Book by Carolyn Baker

But even recognizing that times are tough, chances are reading this book will feel overwhelming and unsettling at times. I know it has been for me and I've been studying, writing, and teaching about the implications of such threats as peak oil, climate change, and economic collapse over half a decade. But I'd like to suggest that we welcome whatever feelings of overwhelm or disquiet this book may stir in us, because like the medicine our mothers gave us as children, they will make us better.

Sparx-Controlled Japan Wind to Build Plant on Southern Island

(Bloomberg) -- Japan Wind Development Co., controlled by Asia’s biggest hedge-fund manager, will construct a plant on a remote island off southwestern Japan to capitalize on the country’s growing demand for clean, alternative energy.

Time to Get “Smart”- on Biofuels

Washington, D.C.-The Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute today released a report, Smart Choices for Biofuels, highlighting the need for important policy reforms at this critical juncture in America's effort to increase the use of biofuels. The report outlines the economic and environmental impacts of first-generation biofuels such as corn ethanol, proposes strategies to make the biofuels industry more sustainable, and offers specific policy recommendations in four broad categories:

Coen brothers' TV ad ridicules 'clean coal'

Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, known for their grimly comic portrayals of human nature, are poking fun at a new target: the coal industry.

'Cap-and-trade' unusually detailed in budget

WASHINGTON - Potentially one of the most far-reaching elements in President Barack Obama's budget blueprint is its call to combat global warming with a "cap-and-trade" system for reducing carbon emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities. Overall, it would cut total emissions 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 by 2050.

Obama May Have To Give Away 70% of Carbon Credits, Merrill Says

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama may need to give away as much as 70 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions permits to win support for his cap-and-trade program, Merrill Lynch & Co said.

Commercial Shipping Exhaust Offsets CO2 Climate-Warming Effect

(Bloomberg) -- Exhaust from commercial ships negates the impact caused by the industry’s release of global-warming carbon dioxide into the air, a study has discovered.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado, said tiny particles in the fumes spewed from ship engines have a cooling effect five times greater than the effect from the vessels’ CO2 emissions.

NYC must prep for climate change

If New York City doesn’t prepare for global warming, it could face significant repercussions, a panel of scientists reported last week. Among them is the risk of having to rebuild vital infrastructure.

Humans facing population cull if temps rise 4C in next 100 years

ONLY "10 per cent" of the human race will be left if global temperatures rise by a predicted 4 per cent in the next 100 years.

The Geoengineering Option: A Last Resort Against Global Warming?

As climate change accelerates, policymakers may have to consider "geoengineering" as an emergency strategy to cool the planet. Engineering the climate strikes most as a bad idea, but it is time to start taking it seriously.

Climate change: chance for US-China cooperation

BEIJING – With climate change emerging as a key issue for both the United States and China, the two countries have a new platform for cooperation and an opportunity to strengthen their often contentious relationship, a leading China expert said Thursday.

Risks of Global Warming Rising: Is It Too Late to Reverse Course?

"Most people thought that the risks were going to be for certain species and poor people. But all of a sudden the European heat wave of 2003 comes along and kills 50,000, [Hurricane] Katrina comes along and there's a lot of data about the increased intensity of droughts and floods. Plus, the dramatic melting of Greenland that nobody can explain certainly has to increase your concern," says climatologist Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who co-authored the research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as well as in several IPCC reports. "Everywhere we looked, there was evidence that what was believed to be likely has happened. Nature has been cooperating with [climate change] theory unfortunately."

Good discussion with Martin Weiss, regarding banks & insurance companies, in hour three of Financial Sense. He has a list of banks to avoid. He expects the FDIC to be okay in the short term, but it will get more problematic (to say the least) as time goes on.




I see there were 2 bank failures this week.


The Cryosphere Today has deleted 2009 artic sea ice data.

Will this data source ever come back up?


It's back up now on the NSIDC website

February 26, 2009
Near-real-time data now available

Near-real-time sea ice data updates are again available from Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis. We have switched to the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) sensor on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 satellite following the sensor drift problem described in our February 18 post.

The temporary error in the near-real-time data does not change the conclusion that Arctic sea ice extent has been declining for the past three decades. This conclusion is based on peer reviewed analysis of quality-controlled data products, not near-real-time data.

Thanks: I have already been using that website, however what I am wondering is will Cryosphere Today still be providing accurate data such as this. Is it accurate?


dipchip, just go read the press release sampled above. It's in very accessible language.


A supposed newslink about the Pt. Barrow observation center data of about 1/10 of a degree C rise in winter minimum temperatures per year since 1979:


Pt. Barrow summer temps. rated as constant.



One community showed a -64°F reading on Jan 5. It sort of contradicts ice station Pt. Barrow measurements and assumptions. What causes a 30 degree below normal winter? Assumptions point to aa CO2 rose this year. What are fluctuations in solar intensity, their long term average, and effects on climate?

One community showed a -64°F reading on Jan 5. It sort of contradicts ice station Pt. Barrow measurements and assumptions. What causes a 30 degree below normal winter? Assumptions point to aa CO2 rose this year. What are fluctuations in solar intensity, their long term average, and effects on climate?


If you re-read the article, and expand the graphs, you will see that apart from the mentioned 11 day period, the temperatures were well within the normal range, and was explained, again in the article, that it was due to a stubborn cold air mass in a localized area not representative of the entire Arctic. Fairbanks and the surrounding areas mention are in the interior of Alaska, Pt. Barrow is, as you might guess, a point that juts into the Arctic ocean.

An 11 day cold snap does not a "30 degree below normal winter" make. You are confusing climate with weather.

As for solar intensity, you are hearing hoofbeats, and immediately looking for zebras.


These sorts of posts by this poster are the norm and the number of times the poster has been made aware of the error are legion.

Confusing weather and climate? No. It's called intentionally misleading. I.e. lying.


The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) has phases of about 20-30 years (Mantua 2000, Biondi et al 2003). Two general cycles are known, one with a range of 15-25 years, and the other at 50-70 years (Minobe 1997). The larger cycle is linked to the smaller, and the change-in-state for the larger tends to occur at the same time as the smaller: these transitions appear to be the strongest. The PDO does not always go through sharp changes, and some phases have a much stronger cold or warm signal than others. West of the Cascade Mountains, the warm phase is linked to a higher frequency of drier, warmer winters, and the cold phase is coupled with a higher frequency of cooler, wetter winters. After a cold phase from 1947-1975, a strong warm phase happened from about 1976-1994. The PDO shift of 1976-77 has been the focus of much study. This sudden phase change may have caused a step-increase in average temperatures for parts of western North America, and may also be linked with a benchmark drought in California.

Since about 1994, and even more so post-1998, the PDO appears to have trended back toward a cool phase. Since a higher frequency of colder, snowier winters in parts of western North America appear to be linked to the PDO cold-phase, such events might be expected in the present day. An upward trend in average temperatures due to AGW would likely be modulated by the PDO (and other climate factors)--in other words, cold extremes can still happen locally even if the long-term temperature trend is upward.

Biondi, Franco, Gershunov, Alexander and Cayan, Daniel R. 2001. "North Pacific decadal climate variability since 1661." Journal of Climate. Vol 14. January 2001. 5-10.
Mantua, Nathan M. 2000. “The pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).” January 2000. Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington. http://www.jisao.washington.edu/pdo/
Minobe, S. 1997. “A 50-70 year climatic oscillation over the North Pacific and North America.” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 24, pp 683-686.

I figured a mile thick continental ice sheet over the state of Maine down east disappearing in 20,000 years and the sea level rising 360 feet in the process was not a major concern to Al Gore who might as well have been tilting at windmills. Some like it hot. We have no other choice in the matter. Just like to know it is yet legal to build a fire in Alaska. The 8th coldest beginning of January in 100 years defies the worse case climate scenarios. Some of these forecasters are presently confounded by the Arctic Sea freezing over this year ... real time data, defying a 20,000 year long term trend.

Rainsong...enough. If you're not willing to educate yourself about climate change, and engage in real discussion about it, stop posting about it. It's tedious. You're wasting people's time.

Well said Leanan!

To ignore the time spent on two cogent (IMO :-)) replies and yet to continue to post vague and mostly irrelevant posts though out DB deserves a time-out. It is passive rudeness, but rude nonetheless, sort "drive-by Trolling".

Just my opinion.,


"Between 9000 and 4000 BCE, northern Africa and the Sahara were grass and woodland with an abundance of rainfall, rivers, lakes, fish and other aquatic life..." About 5500 years ago the area began to dry up.

Maybe you should try to afford an education in the history of world climates your own self.


I concur Rainsong.
I have found flint arrowheads and flint spear heads typical of hunting for fish, fowl and small game in the western desert which suggest a period of fecundity not now found in this relatively young desert region. No doubt humans retreated back to the Nile Delta as desertification increased. Such climate changes are a natural phenomena of the Holocene interglacial. Perhaps, as the planet cools, this area will once again become a temperate grassland as the ice once again marches south - as it surely will one day.


The changes mentioned for the Sahara may also have been influenced by the people who lived there. Goats and sheep graze plants down to the ground. It's been said that goats create deserts. A large population living a pastoral existence would likely produce desertification. Coupled with changes in the atmospheric circulation, mankind may have contributed to the forcings which produced the Sahara. These same forces are seen along the southern margin of the Sahara, a region known as the Sahel. The continuing processes which have caused the Sahara to grow further southward are well known and are called desertification. Here's another reference from the FAO.

Mankind has been modifying his environment for thousands of years. It is not reasonable to blame climate alone for those changes mentioned for the Sahara region.

E. Swanson


You're being a troll by ignoring both the facts which you present as evidence and the replies which show the errors in your logic. This is just what George Will did yesterday after his op-ed piece last weekend. Both of you look like fools.


E. Swanson

Dear CCPO.
The arch-denialists site 'Watts up with that?' spotted this a week or so ago and were the first to remark upon this 'ice loss'.


Otherwise it may have become part of the recieved mythology and 'proof' of perpetual warming. It is good news that sites such as Watts up with that, Climate Audit and the Air Vent keep holding AGWers feet to the fire over data accuracy and scientific truth -dont you think?

The best I can say about you is that you are a liar. No, the best would be that you are simply not intellectually equipped, but that is not the case. You and your ilk disgust me.

Rainsong was hit upside the head by Leanan. Hopefully, you are next.

What on earth is up with you dropstone? You remind me of mudlogger. Clearly intelligent but seemingly with several screws loose when it comes to climate change. The sensor failure has been fully discussed here and only seriously affected 2 weeks worth of non peer-reviewed near real time data. It was only in February the sensor degraded outside of the expected margin of error and by mid February it was so obvious it was spotted.

Please go to http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ for the full details. And while you're there note that they posted up details of the problem as soon as it was spotted and days before "Watts up with that?" "spotted" it.

I am upset the Cryosphere Today no longer provide the old colour scheme which shows the land snow cover as well. They gave you the option when they switched but seem to have abandoned it.

"A state law passed last year allows the natural gas provider to add the charge to make up the income it will lose if customers reduce their usage."

Nice work if you can get it.

Unreal. Absolute nonsense.

Anyone on here get service through them? Time to cancel your account, and make damned sure they know why.

"...the income it will lose if customers reduce their usage"

I think this is reasonable, makes sense and is what we should expect.

If a utility costs $X to run and the community it serves become destitute... where does the utility get it's $X?

Who's your Mommy?

Nice example of government solutions. Why not pass a law that says if you don't use NG you still owe the gas co $7. Most bussinesses simply increase their price for everyone. Would that be a fair solution?

This is an interesting question, and one that can be reasonably argued on both sides. It's something we need to discuss, so I'd appreciate it if you refrained from insults and name-calling. That doesn't generate useful dialog.

It's actually the same problem as the "charge per mile" idea for highway taxes. On the one hand, we want to encourage people to use less fuel. OTOH, how do we fund our infrastructure if consumption keeps dropping (which is what we say we want)?

I didn't see the question you pose here, in the above post.

I saw the remarks which seem to suggest 1) no understanding of where the Ngas comes from or pays for it, and 2) the assumption that it is somehow "unreal" to expect someone to pay for it.

I apologize for the harsh "titbaby" label but that seems to apply - a squirming pile of blind pups/kittens demanding a teat.

As for the problem you pose here - we might not be able to fund our infrastructure if consumption keeps dropping, or even if it starts to grow again.

Nobody was "demanding a treat." They were arguing that people should not be punished for conservation - a perfectly reasonable idea. Dipchip suggested that rates be raised. That would require every user to pay more, but those who use most would pay most, still encouraging conservation.

This happens in all Demand Side Management plans. The fee in most cases is to be a return on utilities working to increase customer's efficiency, whether by Time Of Use (which we wore out here the other day), energy efficiency promotion, Energy Star appliance incentives, or high efficiency electric motor sales programs. The general push is in the area of electric, where Vermont has a truly leading program, ranging on down to Oklahoma, where only the so called "quick-start" programs have been approved so far. Generally, this is seen as a way to avoid the construction of new power generating facilities of any stripe, but in gas, it is a way of directly reducing pollution. After all, if the utilities will work to improve usage, and it results in a lower rate of consumption, we do all benefit. My only gripe is for all of the special exceptions, such as WalMart, which has some pilot stores which are highly efficient, but a whole bunch which are real energy hogs. Their clout allows them to get exemption, at least in Oklahoma, from having to bear any part of the cost for programs where the whole community, including them, benefits.

Nova Scotia Power spends millions of dollars each year to help customers use less electricity. This helps not only the direct recipients of this spending, but all ratepayers because it costs much less to conserve electricity than it does to source new supplies. In effect, programme participants win through lower utility costs, ratepayers win because it lowers the utility's overall cost of doing business (e.g., deferred capital spending) and everyone else wins because less [imported] coal is burned and more money is left to circulate within the local economy as opposed to belching out a smoke stack.

NSP is allowed to recover a portion of its lost revenues -- an amount roughly equal to the cost of the fuel that would have been otherwise consumed -- as compensation to its shareholders.


Actually the solution is quite simple you simply charge equally by volume and raise the per volume price until the infastructure costs are sustainable. Same for gas taxes increase tax/gal until road infastructure can be maintained. They both reduce demand.

BTW I have never used NG so I may simply be too ignorant to understand. I spent most of my life indirectly looking for NG not using it.

"never used NG so I may simply be too ignorant to understand. I spent most of my life indirectly looking for NG not using it."

Alberta buildings are all heated by natural gas. Our monthly bill includes a fixed charge for infrastructure and operating expenses, and a variable charge for the amount of NG used. In 2001, I installed a new 93% efficiency furnace in my house, replacing the old iron monster about the same age I am, and the gas bill dropped $700 the following year despite a similar winter. I was not penalized for saving energy.

The fixed charge is for fixed assets such as pipelines and other infrastructure and operating expenses. It shouldn't change just because of the amount of fuel used (or not used). The variable charge should cover fuel used. Since Alberta has deregulated energy prices and we pay spot prices, it is not a question of losing money because of lower consumption for the supplier. The supplier only buys enough for current consumption, plus a bit extra for sudden cold spells.

That's like US phone bills, you pay a flat fee for the line, then extra fees for extra stuff like call forwarding etc., then a variable fee for how much you actually called outside your area. Businesses often pay that fee per-call. But Americans are used to the idea of a basic phone bill even if they hardly use the phone.

Ditto in Colorado. We buy gas from a regulated utility. The fixed portion of the bill is about 40% of the total in our household, and covers interstate pipelines, distribution, and service (maintenance of all that, generating bills, etc). The variable portion is based on how much we use, and how much the utility has to pay for NG.

The region is a net exporter of NG, and it is interesting to note that a surprising portion of our supply is produced in near real-time: apparently only a few hours from well to household, plus buffers to smooth things out. Three years ago we had an unusual overnight cold snap that uncovered some sloppy practices around the wells, when a bunch of production got cut off due to ice forming in critical places. A few hours later the utility had to cut back on deliveries to their big commercial customers because there wasn't enough storage in enough places to allow them to meet the total demand.

On the one hand, we want to encourage people to use less fuel. OTOH, how do we fund our infrastructure if consumption keeps dropping (which is what we say we want)?

The cost of delivering the gas to the customer has two components, fixed infrastructure; such as pipelines, and control hardware, and the NG itself. The former is independent of rate of consumption -unless you need to change the capacity of the pipelines etc. It only makes sense to have a minimum charge. If we want people to conserve, we could choose to subsidize some or all of the minimum charge, by increasing the cost per CCF. But that is obviously a political decision.

This is a... question... that can be reasonably argued on both sides.

Only if the utility is not a private company. Private companies do business. They have business models. They (should) have long term planning and contingencies. Charging people for what they *don't* use is theft, plain and simple.

If you want to discuss whether utilities should be privately held at all, then I agree there's something to discuss. But theft? Sorry, worthy of jail, not discussion.

nationalize the utilities, not the banks.


Dear CCPO.
For once we are in absolute agreement!
As you say: 'cheers'

Hi ccpo,

It's not theft if these energy conservation surcharges result in a net benefit to all ratepayers. For several years, NSP was able to purchase natural gas at very attractive rates. With that, it had two choices: it could burn it to generate electricity for domestic consumption or, alternatively, resell it to New England, earn a much higher return and use the proceeds to help keep domestic rates low. Not surprisingly, it opted for the latter, and to the extent that various DSM initiatives helped ensure this gas would be available for export, all customers benefited equally.

Likewise, under the Hydro-Québec Act, Hydro-Québec must sell up to 165 TWh/year of electrictiy to domestic customers at below market rates (i.e., a wholesale rate of 2.79 cents per kWh); reducing domestic demand through DSM allows some of this energy to be sold out-of-province at much higher rates and, again, this additional revenue helps keep domestic rates low.


All you are doing is ripping off one set of people to subsidize another.

Just a bunch of stealing at the end of the day.


If my memory is correct, when the Darlington NGS (with a final price tag of $14.6 billion) was added to Ontario Hydro's rate base, electricity rates in Ontario jumped by more than 30 per cent; this increase impacted all customer classes -- there were no survivors. Had the utility invested energy conservation/DSM, electricity consumers (and taxpayers) wouldn't have been clubbed like baby seals.


where does the utility get it's $X?

It doesn't. People cut back on gas usage, and the utility shrinks its operations accordingly. Phasing it out is the idea.

People cut back on gas usage, and the utility shrinks its operations accordingly. Phasing it out is the idea.

How do you phase-out a distribution system? Do you disconnect homes and businesses one block at a time?


"How do you phase-out a distribution system? Do you disconnect homes and businesses one block at a time?"

Actually, yes. Happened all the time in Alberta during the boom, when bungalows were being torn down and replaced by two infills or a group of them were replaced by a townhouse complex. (90% of which are now vacant and still for sale, but that is another story.) The man came out from Atco Gas, shut the valve off to the old house, purged the gas remaining in the line to the house, then cut the line. When the infills were completed, he came back out, installed new connections, and reversed the process. It won't be in my lifetime, but some day the man will be cutting off gas lines but never returning to reconnect them because our grandchildren's grandchildren will be using something else.

I well remember visiting my grandmother's house and playing with others in the basement by sliding down the old coal chute where, during most of her lifetime, once a month the man came and dumped a load of coal. Grandfather was so pleased when natural gas came in and he didn't have to go downstairs every morning and shake out the cinders before shovelling in fresh coal.

Hi Dale,

I guess the real question is how to operate a natural gas distribution system in the face of declining sales. You can't cut overhead in the same way that a retailer would close unprofitable stores, say, and you can't offer a reduced level of service. If the utility can't cover its costs, a large percentage of which are fixed, and generate an acceptable return for its shareholders, the ballon is pricked.


"If the utility can't cover its costs, a large percentage of which are fixed, and generate an acceptable return for its shareholders, the ballon is pricked."

The coal industry collapsed in the 1950s because of natural gas, but the sun came up in the east the next morning nonetheless. This was before my time so I can't discuss the details of how it happened, but if we managed that transition, I'm sure we can manage a future transition from NG to whatever. It seems logical that the NG industry would gradually ramp down, with fewer staff and less infrastructure.

As I said before, I don't expect the transition from NG to something else will happen in my lifetime. We are, however, seeing that transition in other industries. When I was born, a Studebaker franchise was a moneymaker, factories churned out slide rules by the millions, and nuclear power was going to make electricity too cheap to meter.

I wonder if an increase in natural gas fuelled vehicles would be welcomed by the utilities. The German biofuel model is focused on biogas, and I see biogas as filling many roles; A move towards low water sewage systems creating biogas to power local CHP, A way of using (non food) biofuels, make use of the existing natural gas network, it is also a fairly simple technology which can reduce the environmental impact of farming.

While cruising a farming website a bit ago I stumbled on something about 'tea parties'. They were saying that 40 tea parties were being held across the USA.

Here is the link they showed.


These are apparently based on the Santelli Rant and his mentioning a Chicago Tea Party.

Here's more on the tea party.


Uh Oh...once the tax revolt starts rolling, that's it for normal infrastructure.

"Me and my armed escort here require your assistance. I believe you can help us."

Oh, dear. I've seen the "tea party" meme over on Tickerforums, more right-wing nutballism.

Right Wing My A$$. Any person with a brain should know that you cannot borrow your way out of debt.

A business that is already in debt may find that a major investment is needed to exploit an opportunity to vastly increase efficiency and improve its net profitability. It might conclude that borrowing still more money is the only way to implement this improvement. The new profit stream is estimated to pay off the new debt in a reasonable time AND pay off the original debt. Thus, it borrows its way out of debt.

That's the rational used for every borrowing binge we have here in the US. The problem is we are not borrowing money to implement a new oppurtunity to vastly increase efficiency and net profitablity. Instead we are borrowing the money in an attempt to continue maintaining an unsustainable lifestyle.

You are correct, however not one of the 536 folks in Washington have the ability to make that decision.

Warren Buffet advised that increasing debt in a growing economy (infl. adj. GDP growth) might be feasible without problems (as long as the debt increase was in a limited manner). That day he was not found advising expanding debt in a shrinking economy. Giving away mortgage payment assistance, car sales tax rebates, extended unemployment benefits, and TARP loans to the largest banks in the worse financial condition might lengthen a recession. These people were not asked to give something useful back to the economy. Roosevelt built dams, the hydroelectric grid (TVA), rural electrification program, conservation corps, and other things that increased the value of the nation, for these things were improvements. Adding more desks to a downtown office building for people to watch the government spend its money foolishly is a waste.

You are correct, however not one of the 536 folks in Washington have the ability to make that decision

These people that say that do not understand economics 101. There is a difference between a small unit such as a family borrowing, and the federal government. In the later case if the bonds are bought by the citizens (we may have a problem if most of ours are foreign), then the net amount of money has not changed, some paper is written that says some people owe others, but the net effect is zero. Only we have tricked the economy into supplying more jobs than would otherwise have been the case. Conservatives like to tweak the moralist emotional argument, because that is how they think. But, once emotion is injected into the discusion analysis stops.

At the end of WW2, the US debt to GDP ratio was about twice the current value. Of course we were uniquely placed coming out of WW2 to pay it back, and this time it will be tougher. Particularly if the world economy is really as close to natural resource usage limits as many of us think.

Of course, it depends mightily what we spend the stimulus money on. The economists don't seem to have much appreciation for this. We should be spending the stimulus money on things that will help us through the resource constrained times to come. That is what I am doing personally. We bought a second hybrid car last week, so our direct consumption of oil products has now been seriously reduced. Depending upon the price, and my cash reserves, I intend to look into getting PV panels this year. If we could have gotten the politics right, and agreed to spend the lions share of the stimulus money on that sort of thing, we would be well placed coming out of this downturn. Alas, we are just foolish humans after all!

There is $11,000,000,000 in the 2009 stimulus package for making government buildings more energy efficient so that they will consume less energy in the next 20 years.

Your wrong: You can if you are not a nutball!


When you start with the name calling then valid discussion flies right out the window.

I think such activity is being looked at more closely as to its relevance and value.

Can I call you a name in return? How about leftballed a**hole?

Now what did that solve?

How about trashhead? Dumpster Diver?

Get the idea?

I put that link up for information. Not for someone to spew sputum over their morning coffee.

Right wing,left wing,idiot wing...yada yada....

Airdale-u just receded to the far horizons on my screen

Note: my post will likely get deleted. Ok by me but I hope you get to read it first

Your post here is more dreck than my saying "right-wing nutballism" and yes, as a matter of fact, I *am* getting tired of the "Screw you, I've gone mine" Libertarian, Randist, whatever it is, attitude that is the basic secular religion in this country. The rich and Conservative think they can just stop paying taxes and wall themselves off in their little gated communities, and it just won't work. Henry Ford, who was an arch-Rightist by the way, at least knew he wouldn't get rich if the workers in his plants couldn't afford the product. Today's right-wing think they can just pull off into their own little enclaves and not pay taxes, well, I say let 'em. Let 'em go to Argentina or somewhere and do things their way, the escapees from their little Hell on earth will be welcome here in a new, Socialist if need be, USA.

And yes, if you use the money to pay for things that increase your, or your country's, productivity, you CAN borrow your way out of debt. It's done all the time. Micro-loans in India, a guy here who has debt that his min-wage job won't ever pay off, borrows to get an old truck and starts working swapmeets on the weekends. All the way to someone starting say a tilapia farm and borrows to get it going, then not right away, but in a few years has that debt and his preexisting debt paid off.

Now unless you can keep it on the subject of this site, please go turn on some left-leaning radio program and yell at the radio, it will make you feel better.

I enjoyed your post til the last sentence.

I can understand your bitterness but you might want to consider that you've become a drama queen today.

Tone down the anger.

I could suggest this to others who post here frequently.

Two Chinese brothers sold their wristwatches and burrowed money on credit to start a pig farm that turned into a multimillion dollar industry.

Circuit City borrowed more money to stay in business, the same people later won a judgement in bankruptcy court to pay themselves bonuses, the shareholders got no bonuses, and some of the creditors might not get paid either.

Personal bankruptcies up 30% in 2008 - they could not borrow their way out of bankruptcy although many have tried.

Dreck you say? My 'I got mine and screw you'?

And I get rather tired of the constant bashing of conseratives.

Also those who have Christian views.

I don't bash liberals. Some here who post reasonable comments and I read and agree with and I might add , respect , I think are likely somewhat liberal but I don't constantly rage on about it.

You just came back after a long absence and right off your into bashing.

I welcomed you and you never replied so I guess you have been reading and don't like my views or opinions.

Editted to remove some injudicious remarks.

I could go into some fairly ugly demeaning personal remarks but I really don't wish to go there. So lets just leave it at that.

Airdale-conserative,not NeoCon...I was conserative 40 yrs ago. I still am. Its not the Bush type neither. Its the anti-big government/states right type.

Shh Airdale, if you don't watch out, you'll end up making my point.

If I didn't reply to your welcome back, I'm sorry. This is not the most reader-friendly format.

And I get rather tired of the constant bashing of conseratives.

Unfortunately, that bashing is well-earned. History will not be kind to those leaders the conservatives have chosen over the last 17 years. Many of them should be in prison, including BuCheney, Rove, et al.

Here's what I don't get: if you don't consider yourself a neo-con a la the above, why in the world would you care if they are bashed?


I'm right there with you Airdale -- small fed gov, relatively larger local gov't, and strong but small state gov't to keep the others in check.

I think here "conservative" means "Bush-like neocon" which is really a term to mark turncoat liberals who joined up with spendy Republicans.

Libertarian, Randist, whatever it is, attitude that is the basic secular religion in this country. The rich and Conservative think they can just stop paying taxes and wall themselves off in their little gated communities, and it just won't work.

You don't seem to have a clear understanding of what libertarian is and are conflating that with neo-con/conservative/etc.

Note: I am not a conservative, libertarian or neo-con.


The "tea party" turns out to have been an orchestrated PR campaign by the ultra-wealthy Koch family (of Koch refining fame).

Backstabber: Is Rick Santelli High On Koch?

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

ChicagoTeaParty.com was just one part of a larger network of Republican sleeper-cell-blogs set up over the course of the past few months, all of them tied to a shady rightwing advocacy group coincidentally named the “Sam Adams Alliance,” whose backers have until now been kept hidden from public. Cached google records that we discovered show that the Sam Adams Alliance took pains to scrub its deep links to the Koch family money as well as the fake-grassroots “tea party” protests going on today. All of these roads ultimately lead back to a more notorious rightwing advocacy group, FreedomWorks, a powerful PR organization headed by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey and funded by Koch money.

So, yeah, wingnutty. John Birch wing-nutty.


Liberals reaching for the "vast right wing conspiracy" story!

That's just nothing short of hysterically precious.

From the link up top: Humans facing population cull if temps rise 4C in next 100 years

National borders would have to be knocked down and humans would become mostly vegetarian with most animals being eaten to extinction.

This is the true tragedy of the crash. And it is already happening. In Africa bush meat is already becoming a staple food, being sold in many markets. But when things get really bad, very few animals are likely to escape extinction.

I agree with the authors of the article when they say that humans will survive. We are far too many in numbers and occupy virtually every niche on earth to become extinct. But our numbers will be reduced to perhaps one tenth their numbers today, perhaps much less.

And the crash will come much sooner than the authors predict. It will be caused by the collapse of our food supply due to environmental factors, global warming being only one of them. The swift decline of fossil energy will be a major factor.

Ron Patterson

I'm not so sure about human survival. We just about went extinct 73000 years ago when the Toba Volcano erupted in Indonesia (we know from our mitochondria dna that we were down to a few thousand individuals).
This will be even more challenging, and it is probably our fear of extinction that makes us not to want to face reality.

That is something I've been thinking about lately. Perhaps because of that genetic bottleneck and others, humans have very little genetic diversity compared to other species. Low genetic diversity is supposedly an extinction risk.

We are locked in now, as genetic drift is almost impossible with our current population dynamics. However, we are more genetically diverse than we recently thought, and children can tell almost immediately who shares their genes.
Low diversity is a huge risk, and we are heading that direction, but I don't think it will be the main factor in our extinction.
This is an area that has been politically and socially off limits, and a few brave and curious scientist are now exploring the implications. Several of the Edge members are looking at this.

If the bottle neck is a very narrow and long one then through genetic drift a lot of diversity is lost. But since we apparently re-expanded our range and population rapidly following this event seems unlikely a whole lot was lost. If anyone has actually read the research to see if it actually addresses Leanan's question that would be better than my speculation of course.

Two replies in one post:

Hightrekker, 73,000 years ago the world had less than one million people. Today we have almost seven thousand times that population. In other words, we have about seven thousand people for every one that was alive when Toba erupted. There is just no way to compare then to now. Also, in those days humans occupied only a tiny fraction of the globe. No one lived in the Americas or anywhere near the Arctic. Now we are absolutely everywhere. A Toba today would devastate our numbers but would still leave many millions alive.

We have had super volcanoes before. Yellowstone last erupted 650,000 years ago, well before modern humans. Many species in North America were wiped out but few in other parts of the world went extinct.

Leanan, lack of genetic diversity causes some animal species to go extinct because any contagious disease will affect all members of that species. While it is true that humans have less genetic diversity than many animal species, they still have more than most. It has recently been discovered that about one in twenty people are immune to the AIDS virus because of genetic diversity. Our vast numbers alone insure that many people will be immune to just about disease that comes along.

Also another defense against human extinction due to lack of genetic diversity is many humans live is remote locations, almost in isolation. Bird flu like epidemic would not likely affect Amazonian tribes or many isolated Eskimos living above the Arctic Circle.


One person wrote in TOD that China might be going towards extinction because they were burning too much coal, and polluting the environment. In fact their life expectancy has grown leaps and bounds since their ramp up of coal consumption. Even the one child rule did not stop population growth as people were living longer, there were exceptions to the rule, and there were rebels who ignore the rule. We already have mass human migration and trespassing, due to lust, and wanting to grow large families more than because of a half degree spike(?) in temperatures.

It is hard to imagine people with coal reserves freezing to death in the winter because they are dead set against global warming. There are already efforts in Europe to extend the use of coal. It is tough having to pay for frozen pipes because wind power is not constant, the Russians turned off the gas again, and the EU is trying to outlaw coal while gasoline and diesel also emitted high levels of carbon and natural gas is not carbon free energy.

I suppose I could see it coming. By coincidence I moved to higher ground and made sure I was far enough north that a 4 degree temperature rise that I am not likely to see in my lifetime would not cause me to lose my cool.

Points well taken, but there are several things to consider. 70, 000 years ago we had a very intact planet, the pinnacle of 100 million years of evolutionary diversity.
We now are in a mass extinction, and live on a severely plundered planet (we did have that little astroid impact 65 million years ago that did shake up things a bit).
Our impoverished, overpopulated planet does not have the robustness and complexity that helped with survival in the past.
Are we smarter than yeast?

Hightrekker, you seem to be saying that humans will likely become extinct because every species is likely to become extinct. I doubt that very seriously but I will not argue against the total destruction of life on earth but I deem it extreme unlikely. So let me put my argument in different words. If only one mammalian species survives, excepting small rodents, it will be Homo sapiens. And I challenge you to name just one land mammal that has a better chance of survival than humans.

No other mammal except small rodents has our vast numbers. No other mammal has our vast geographical diversity. Even rats and mice cannot survive in the Arctic where humans thrive. Barring total destruction of the planet, there will be human survivors of any catastrophe.


Some of the first to go in Mesopotamia were the lions who preyed on man. These might well go extinct as they do not make good neighbors. The elephants in Syria are gone, but footnotes in antiquarians' books. They competed with man for foliage and lost. Their tusks were prized then as they are now. The ivory billed woodpecker must have been too fragile, the flicker and downy woodpecker exist and perform similar functions. Natural selection; survival of the fittest.

Not at all, we will have numerous species survive. I just think we need to take a look at how at risk we are.
So many feedback k loops possible.
We would be the exception, as 99% of a species are now extinct. I not so anthropocentric to think we are that much of an exception.
Even in the Permian mass extinction we obviously had survivors (we are here)

We would be the exception, as 99% of a species are now extinct.

How many species that are now extinct has nothing to do with anything being discussed here. We have had five great extinctions and numerous smaller ones. What is important is why any species goes extinct. And I never said Homo sapiens will never go extinct. I am talking about the current environmental crisis, the one that is happening in the 21st century.

I not so anthropocentric to think we are that much of an exception.

Sorry hightrekker, but that quote just ruined it. Anthropocentricism has nothing to do with it. And the fact that you think it does tells me a great deal about your argument. The fact that we occupy every niche on earth has everything to do with it. Our vast numbers has everything to do with it. Something must cause an extinction! What cause could hit every niche on earth and be so devastating that it left not two people alive anywhere.


Recommend the latest Science Saturday diavlog over on blogginheads.tv :
where one of the two authors of :The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution" discuss various thoughts on recent human evolution. Also, the other co-author was on bloggingheads just a few weeks earlier.

Upshot: there is plenty of human genetic diversity and we are undergoing an explosion in new genes!


I agree as to the nature of the tragedy, but I suspect when FFs are removed from the equation, a similar thing will also occur with vegetation, either for food, cooking or heating. IIRC Madagascar is essentially deforested now for that reason, so IMO it looks like catabolic collapse will be the order of the day.

Something I noticed in the article was that the title references 4 deg C and then talks about 4%, which is meaningless without a reference.

Perhaps is is a simple typo, but I found it glaring. A huge part of the AGW debate problem is "peak journalists". Many of them have the courage to express themselves, regardless of a lack of knowledge, intelligence or education, for the sole purpose of putting words on paper.


Right after the election my very right-wing boss (he even looks like G. Gordon Liddy) went on a cry-baby rant about how now no politician (Governor, Any Senator or Representative) represents 'him', since NM was a Democratic blue sweep.

I smiled and said welcome to my world. That is exactly how we felt under 8 years of Shrub's criminal reign. Sit back, tune in that bloviating idiot RL to melt your brains, and enjoy the ride.

BTW, The Boston Tea Party protested 'taxation without representation.' Clearly, Obama and the Democrats in Congress were fairly elect ed by both majorities of the electoral college and by majorities of the popular vote. Ergo, taxation (and all the rest of the governance) WITH representation, bawl-babies.

If you don't like the voting system, lobby to change it to 'range voting', not Instant Run Off (IRV) or Preference (rank order voting, because those also have deep mathematical flaws similar to plurality voting which we now have.


Go to Amazon (or your otherwise favorite book seller) and buy 'Gaming the Vote' by William Poundstone.

Unfortunately, most of our citizens are too simple-minded and mentally calcified to put any effort whatsoever into trying to comprehend the mathematics of various voting schemas. The Tea party Boffins would doubtless call anything different from the status quo 'Socialist'. If the current brand of Rethuglicans were in power in 1865, we would have had slavery for longer than we did...if RL were alive back then he would have branded emancipation 'Socialism' and then CPAC would have had a convention, there would be Tea Parties, and the North would be introduced to the wonders of free market slavery.

Strictly speaking, immediately after the Emancipation Proclamation slavey was only legal in Union slave states. Lincoln banned slavey in states then in rebellion against the United States government.

Isn't the now minority Repub continuing rant against deficits interesting as well ? They must not have been listening when Dick Cheney said there was nothing wrong with deficits. Epiphanies are so interesting to watch in the political arena.

"I hope he fails." Rush Limbaugh, on Obama's efforts to revitalize the US economy.

Not to say that Social Security is out of the woods yet, but I can't help feeling quite relieved that the "personal saving account" strategy of the previous occupant of the White House never came to pass. Given the ongoing revelations of outright fictional accounting, a more honest name for it may have been "personal fraud accounts". Now we see institutional "ed-vest" strategies for pre-paying college tuition beginning to fall into the red. See:
Declining economy socks EdVest -- state college saving program

Wisconsin’s popular college saving program EdVest lost roughly 30 percent of its value in 2008, mirroring the overall decline in the economy.


Given the rate at which the US government is hemorrhaging money, I don't even see an end to the woods, never mind a way out. Neither apparently does President O, just gargantuan Bush-to-the-nth deficits out to the horizon and beyond, financed on thin air. The major 'investment'-based retirement systems have been running big losses lately, but systems floated on thin air have repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to run far worse losses. The way that could happen is that by the time the boomers are deep into retirement, a monthly Social Security check bearing an impressive array of digits would purchase little more than a stick of gum. Meanwhile, the boomers' offspring, few in number to begin with since huge families haven't been the norm, will themselves often be too frail and feeble to be of much help. Oh, and some will have shuffled off this mortal coil. They will be no help at all.

Oh, and President O and our dear Congresscritters pretend to continue along with business-as-usual and its energy-intensive infrastructure, but they refuse to deal with powering or fueling it, holding that it will run on nothing. Better always to knuckle under to tiny pressure groups who for their own inscrutable reasons oppose building or maintaining any version of the necessary infrastructure. Yes, perish the thought of disturbing, even utterly trivially, the tourist "industry" (worthier than any other human activity as a 'provider' of dead-end garbage 'jobs' with no benefits, little pay, and virulently anti-social hours), or some notional "viewshed" enjoyed by an insignificant handful, or even just some vermin infesting some nondescript spot of dirt a thousand miles beyond the back end of beyond. On that course of action, or rather of inaction, the boomers' offspring's offspring, also few in number, seem likely to be so preoccupied at doing simple tasks the hard way that they will lack energy (in all senses) or time to be of much help.

Not only am I feeling little relief - I'm not feeling any relief at all...


Is there anyone you haven't yet insulted?

Your 'screed' is 'repugnant' to me.


Geez Louise, Airdale! I like you, what's got your back up today? I criticized the "tea party" thing not because you posted it, but because it's something I've seen on a lot of the "I'm taking my ball and bat and going home" sites.

Come, what have you done on the farm lately? Me, I helped dig up for, and plant, enough asparagus to keep everyone's pee smelling funny for the whole block. And a gathered a bunch of pine pollen, supposed to be all kinds of good for a person, I filled 254 size 00 capsules full. Dug up a bunch of weeds, and today we went garage-sale'ing. I got a tape measure, a digital camera for $5 I think I can resurrect, and a jeweler's saw. That last may be invaluable if I make certain crafts to sell in Santa Cruz. I might get to help put up the new "sooper dooper" fence to keep the sheep out of the garden today, or some other mischief.


For what it's worth, it seems like tempers and fears are whipt up to a fine lather lately, both here on TOD and around town.

More and more people may be noticing that bucket and shovel that are feeding the fan, and they are really starting to get agitated.

It's definitely affecting me, and a bunch of my activity is trying to create some holds for stabilizing my sanity, peace-of-mind. More peer counseling, exercise, diet, sleep, staying in really good communication with my wife and other family members..

Don't know if you were checking in about a month ago, but Airdale was going through the power outages in KY, and giving us regular updates and perspectives on 19th century living.. if you will. (Feel free to reinterpret that for me Airdale)

Someone said recently that 'TOD isn't really a community' .. Well, probably not, but aside from what it ISN'T, it IS a collection of interesting voices from literally around the globe, and from a real range of viewpoints (both kinds, 'Country AND Western'!!).. I see it as an opportunity that I hope we don't squander.

Personally, I don't think the squabbles are much of a surprise. There SHOULD be outright differences of opinion, and why not be honest about them? But with that, still and all.. keeping the terminology a bit more flame-retardant helps to keep the IDEAS flowing more than just the OPINIONS and the ANGER..

I'll take it while it lasts, and hope it lasts a while!


I agree. Airdaile is someone I really like here because he's one of the very few already walking the walk.

I was talking with some friends today .... this is the first period in history with so many people free to be useless, just watch TV all day or play Gameboy etc., in the past "useless" people did stuff below their "position" such as a guy who's really got a sub-normal IQ may help the women out most days, Yay scraping skins! Or given simple work like "watch those sheep, make sure they don't do nuthin' sneaky" (as you snicker into your sleeve) etc. But something could be found, that would make them useful and keep them busy. Today's system of importing "illegal" help then putting our marginal people out to dry (homeless) then complaining about taxes, well, I can understand not wanting to pay taxes and telling the gov't to F.U. as things stand now.

But that's not an optimum solution. Setting up a new CCC, and trades programs for the now homeless etc and getting at least the fitter ones to replace people we import now, would be a better use of taxes - a government for all the people, not just the rich.


If your asking what I have been doing then you most surely have not read any of my emails.

We had a massive ice storm. The worst diaster to hit Ky ever. The National Guard was called out. Many died. I had to cut 13 trees out of the road to get out of the twoway by my farm. Then rescue a guy who tried to get around a tree I was cutting on the state hwy.and almost turned over right beside me. I worked on generators to get people power.

A few months prior we had the remains of Ike do another number on us. Again I worked to get people power.

I was 4 1/2 weeks without water or electricity. There are still people here with no power. Not since the 25th of March.
It took down most of our timber. All we have in many places is just stubs sticking in the air. My driveway is still full of limbs. Tons of limbs.

What was I doing? Not selling crafts.


Somebody somewhere on some Internet forum somewhere mentioned ice storms, even had pics, icy trees all over the road!

Let's just say I'm smart enough to live in California.

Where the four seasons are reputed to be: fire, flood, earthquake and drought.

(Sorry, couldn't resist - lived there for 12 years, wouldn't mind moving back)

I thought it was fire, flood, earthquake, and riot.

Airdale - I have not gotten any emails from you, if you mean posts, guess I missed them. The Internet seems to prevent as much communication as it causes, I urge everyone to download and hardcopy every old-type how-to book and other solid info they can off of the internet, because it *will* go away. And it will not be missed.

Error in above post. When I said emails I meant posts.


I don't feel insulted.

Where were all these "Tea Party" clowns when Ronnie RayGun claimed he could cut taxes, increase the Defense budget and balance the budget? Where were they when Shrub added more billions to the National Debit? Why don't they suggest cutting the ever increasing Defense budget, now more than $500 Billion? Can't they understand that Obama wants to increase taxes only for people making more than $250,000 a year and then only by allowing previous tax cuts to expire, as they are supposed to in Shrub's tax cut law? Obama is just trying to pay for the misdeeds accumulated over the past 25 years under mostly Repug rule and that's going to take Trillions of dollars. These guys want to keep on eating their Big Mac's and driving their gas guzzlers without paying for them.

Went to a gun show today. There was a big traffic jam and the crowd inside was overwhelming. Most were country boys, the sort that would carry the label "Red Neck". They think there is going to be a Revolution, but I wonder who they are thinking of shooting at, besides each other...

E. Swanson

Let's hope they mostly shoot each other lol.

Out working in the garden yesterday I noticed my friend who owns the place, has quite a red neck going, I'm sure I do too lol.

Seriously though, remember, 90% of the population has to go, worldwide. I'd not be surprised (assuming I'm around long enough to see it) to see at least 60% of the US population go, and 75% is probably not an unrealistic estimate.

What I find funny is how many vocal Obama supporters from 4 months ago now don't even want to mention his name. What I find funny is how many vocal Obama supporters don't want to discuss the lies about withdrawing from Iraq, when the Shyster-in-chief is now committed to staying in Iraq with more than 3 full divisions (50,000+ troops) indefinitely. By the way, didn't he skewer McCain for that very idea, staying indefinitely? What I find funny is Obama talking about the economy then naming the incompetent failure named Timothy Geithner, a Republithug himself who conspired with Paulson and Bernanke to force Merrill into bankruptcy as his treasury secretary. What I find funny is Obama's attorney general arguing that he can hold military detainees without trial indefinitely and that he needs the same authorities to deal with terrorists as his predecessor. What I find funny is Obama pouring even more taxpayer money into the coffers of the people who bought his ass for $1 billion dollars, the same people who created this financial disaster. What I find funny is Obama wanting to ramp up the war machine, with what will likely end up even more troops committed now, just in different theaters than before. What I find funny is Obama still clinging to the lie of infinite growth, when we should be using our remaining resources to turn our society into something sustainable.

Yes, Obama is a laugh-a-minute, and so are all those who support him.

NOTE: I did not support McCain and did not vote Republican either so don't give me Republithug crap. The Democruds are nothing but the other side of the Republican fascist coin. Until the blind wake up to that fact, nothing important will ever change and instead the status quo will continue to be preserved, no matter the cost in human suffering.

I, too, am very skeptical of Mr. Obama and think the "hope" and "change" is horses***. But, once in a while, he says something that gives some indication he understands society is changing. Will he ever do anything, though?

Sounds like a nice, safe position, GZ.

So we know who you are against.. all of them. What are you for?

China's 35-40 million ton oil field discovery is about 250 million barrels, a large field by world standards. The conversion factor used is about 7.3 barrels per ton. It is enough to supply the world for less than three days.

Peter Schiff: Obama Puts the Economic Cart Before the Horse

The central tenets of Obamanomics appear to be that access to credit will enable people to borrow money to buy stuff, the spending will spur production and employment, and thus the economy will grow. It’s a neat and simple picture, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with how an economy works. The President does not understand that consumption is made possible by production and that credit is made possible by savings.

Calif. jobless hits double digits

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -- California's unemployment rate rose to 10.1% in January, its highest level in a quarter century, as recession tightened its grip on the most populous U.S. state.

Malaysian plan to oust foreign workers

There is dramatic evidence from one of Asia's fastest-expanding economies of the downturn's severity. A senior minister says the government wants to send back 60% of Malaysia's two million foreign workers

A topic of frequent discussion among peak oilers used to be whether the Third World would even feel the impact of peak oil. They use so little fossil fuels, many thought the adjustment would be easier.

I think it's become clear that they will be impacted, as much or more than the developed world.

When does the BLS release Jan state by state un-employment data?

March 11, I think.

Is Malaysia, the part that's hiring foreign workers, third-world?

It is amazing how small savings via fractional reserve banking can grow into enormous amounts of debt. Bank A take $1 and loans out $10 which is deposited in bank B which now loans out $100 which is deposited back in Bank A which results in loans of $1000 and around and around it goes. Since governments can create fiat money which it can loan to banks long term savings may not even be needed for a healthy economy.

As we have recently learned banking systems need strong rules which are strictly enforced for the world to have economic health. Every depression, deep recession, and Panic over the last 200 years was triggered by a bubble of unregulated investing which popped. There is a connection between GOP opposition to business regulation and recessions which start more often under their rule.

Idled railcars stack up as U.P. freight business slows

The recession has hit the nation's freight railroads hard, including Omaha-based Union Pacific, which has idled about 50,000 railcars and furloughed thousands of train and yard workers.

Stacked end to end, the idled cars would stretch 500 miles, or about the distance between Omaha and Scottsbluff, said Donna Kush, railroad spokeswoman.

There's a photo here, of over a mile of idled cars.

I would have guessed that working on the railroad would be a safe choice for the post-peak world. Instead, you're probably better off working in the highway business.

I was guessing railroad would be a safe choice too.

In my case, I overestimated our leaders, especially Bush.

I assumed they would invest in rail and the grid, and use the military to secure oil supplies around the world on an as-needed basis.

But only the last assumption proved correct.

Hm, I'd think railroads would be Up not Down too.

All I can think of is, the US being so individualist, maybe the coordination between groups of people it takes to revitalize our railroads is beyond us. As the financial system locks up, and everyone gets nervous, the long term planning it takes, and the trust and cooperation it takes, are just not going to happen.

It's looking like the development is going into more effecient cars so we can continue to drve them, one person in each, and into trucks. Far less effecient than trains but more "nimble".

Here's a YouTube video someone made, driving past idled cars. He says there are more and more every week.

For those not viewing the images, Leanan's links are showing idled locomotives. I suspect that the number of idled cargo cars is an order of magnitude above the number of locomotives. I wonder how much impact this has on diesel demand? Could diesel prices fall below gasoline prices?

It already has in Gilroy, CA. We drove by the station that usually has the lowest prices, and at 1.99/gal, diesel was the least expensive fuel at the station. I can handle that, as my pickup is a diesel. It weighs 6600 lbs, but gets the same mileage on the highway as our midsize SUV at 22-23 mpg. However, the SUV covers the ground faster.

Westcoaster, you also in Gilroy? And how will I recognize you among all the other solo drivers of hulking ****-extension-mobiles? ;-)

driving past idled [train]cars.

That reminds me of moving the California not long after 9-11. We had to drive through the town of Mojave, which is where the airlines mothball the unneeded airliners. Mile upon mile of parked 747's!

Yesterday's Drumbeat included a link to a NY Times article on the expected increase in energy efficiency spending.

I just ran the month-end report on our utility related work and in the first two months of this year we will have helped our clients save an estimated 334,000 kWh/year, with an additional 556,000 kWh either pending or currently underway. Our biggest problem is getting our hands on the required materials (there's an acute shortage of energy saving electronic ballasts) and that situation isn't likely to change anytime soon. Until recently, we also had a hard time finding enough electricians, but with the downturn in the construction market and with expats starting to trickle back from Alberta that has, thankfully, since corrected itself.

Rising electricity costs and the availability of government and utility incentives has triggered an explosion of work in other areas as well. One example: a couple years ago, our firm approached a local big box retailer about replacing their metal halide fixtures with high bay fluorescents. The economics at that time were excellent but, for whatever reason, it didn't click. Now, it's a go and we will reduce their lighting related load by 577,000 kWh/year. With utility rebates, the payback is 1.1 years and the ten-year NPV is projected to be $595,572.00 (5% cash discount).


Cool. I got a job interview for making electronic ballasts.

Good luck with the interview, Robert!

We were informed that our most recent delivery of 4-lamp ISL (0.77 BF) ballasts may be our last until sometime in June. The supply situation for ISN ballasts (0.88 BF) is OK, but most utility programmes have standardized on the former to maximize energy savings. I'm told Osram Sylvania, GE and Philips/Advance were all caught off-guard, so you can't alternate source; they're all in the same boat.


My interview is with a small company that makes emergency lighting equipment. I don't think they want to compete with the big boys selling CFLs at Wal-mart.

I was speaking with a facilities manager on Thursday about their Bodine emergency ballasts. Their place is loaded with them and a large percentage are failing in just their third year of service -- at about $300.00 CDN a pop.


I'm not interviewing with Bodine. What little I know about designing ballasts at the moment, you have to control the turn-on inrush current or they'll fail prematurely. I've done DC-DC converters.

Ford to build EcoBoost at Cleveland plant

They are now desperately aiming at yesterday's target. If they spend fast enough maybe they can get time to reverse itself?

All auto industry headlines should begin with, "Far Too Little, Far Too Late."

Actually, that applies to all of the economic talk in general. Mish, Denninger, etc. can continue to dissect the cadaver for entertainment purposes but it's beyond silly now to hear any of them talk about containing or repairing or reviving etc the Humpty Dumpty Global Village.

Fractured Fairytales are here and now.

Problems with 'next gen' European reactors:


Just more trouble keeping our lights on..

Interesting article on the various issues WRT to Bolivia "exploiting" its Lithium reserves:

Bolivia pins hopes on lithium, electric vehicles


"Lithium is the hope not just for Bolivia but for all inhabitants of the planet," President Evo Morales said before meeting in Paris last month with Bollore Group, one of several companies vying to extract the metal from remote salt flats in the poor landlocked nation.

There was some discussion of Depression era books, and I recommended "We had everything but money." I remembered reading it years ago at my aunt's house. In any case, I just got a copy that I ordered online. Here is a list of the chapters:

When the banks closed, our hearts opened
As tough times enveloped the nation, folks began to see their neighbors in a new, more loving light.

Braving the dirty 30's
Dust Bowl survivors recall how they overcame the worst drought in American history.

Looking for work
With more than 10 million people out of work, many families had to start over, move on or find a new way to make a living.

Beans, bacon and gravy
Simple meals were standard fare in most households, but the love with which they were prepared made them unforgettable.

Make it last, wear it out
Recycling isn't a new idea. In the 1930's it became a way of life, helping many to get by.

Cherished photos
Everyone treasures family photos, and none are more prized than these priceless snapshots from the Depression years.

How we got around
From the horse and buggy to the streetcar and trolley, "getting there" was half the fun--and usually an adventure.

Love and marriage
Whether couples met at school, through the mail or on a scavenger hunt, their stories prove that love really can conquer all.

How we had fun
Money may have been tight, but entertainment was never in short supply, from classic films to favorite radio shows to "homemade fun."

Christmases we remember
The best gifts are those that come from the heart. That's what makes these recollections of Depression holidays so special.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter One. It's a contemporaneous account written in the early Thirties. Sally Wall found it after her father died.

'I like the Depresson'

No more prosperity for me. I have had more fun since the Depression started that ever had in my life. I had forgotten how to live, and what it meant to have real friends, and what it was like to eat, common, everyday food. Fact is, I was getting a little too high-hat.

It's great to drop into a store and feel that you can spend an hour, or 2, or 3, or even half a day just visiting not feel that you are wasting valuable time.

I am getting acquainted with my neighbors and following the biblical admonition to love them. Some of them had been living next door to me for three years; now we butcher hogs together.

I haven't been out to a party for months. My wife had dropped all of her clubs, and I believe we are falling in love all over again. I'm pretty well satisfied with my wife, and I think I will keep her.

I am feeling better since the Depression. I get more exercise because I walk to town and a lot of folks who used to drive Cadillacs are walking with me.

I am getting real, honest to goodness food now. Three years ago, we had filet of sole, crab Louie and Swiss steak with flour gravy. We had guinea hen and things called "gourmet" and "oriental." Now we eat sow bosom.

Three years ago, I never had time to go to church. I played checkers or baseball all day Sunday. Besides, there wasn't a preacher in Texas who could tell me anything. Now I'm going regularly and never miss a Sunday. If this Depression keeps on, I will be going to prayer meetings before too long.

WT: Many here have never heard the music of the depression. "Pennies From Heaven", "April Showers", etc. My youngest aunt and two of my older girl cousins played guitars and sang songs and harmonized. We all lived close so there was never a time when there wasn't support from someone or a bunch. "There's honey in the Rock, My Brother", "Old Shep" These were songs of positive attitudes. No BOOM BOOM BOOM zombie noises like now. Of course those times were better. We didn't have anything but then again, nobody else had much and no one really gave much of a damn. I don't remember any of the social problems like now. Mothers certainly didn't dress their little girls up as sex symbols and dads didn't have fights about a kids baseball game. My parents and those who I knew certainly would not go to school and get mad at a teacher for correcting a kid with a switch or a ruler across the butt. In fact us kids knew trouble in school was just the start of trouble when we got home.

The old songs, Tin Pan Alley and all, were great! Like as not I'll be learning 'em on my musical saw because they're simple and good. And a lot of at least older people should recognize them.

I expect a folk music revival starting right about now, in fact one of the many ideas I'm knocking around now is not only playing the musical saw etc but to make simple instruments I can sell in Santa Cruz. When the Walkmans stop ....

Make it last, wear it out
Recycling isn't a new idea. In the 1930's it became a way of life, helping many to get by.

A few years ago my mother-in-law, who grew up on the Great Plains during the Depression, died. During the eulogy, the minister (who was roughly the same age) talked about her being a "keeper" in the sense of keeping anything that might be useful at some point in the future rather than throwing it out. When we cleaned her house out, we found an incredible array of stuff that had been tucked away. How long does it take to accumulate a quart jar full of buttons, no two alike?

when I was a little kid in the 70s, I had a phase where I was into collecting buttons. "Dry-Goods" stores were still in every town, and I think every family had about a quart of assorted buttons on hand.

Speaking of recycling. . . I posted this excerpt over on another thread:

Movie tickets for a tire

In the late 30's our town's only theater burned old car tires for heat. If you didn't have the dime for the ticket, an old tire would get you into the matinee for free. Every Saturday afternoon, I'd buy an old tire for a nickel at the junkyard, roll it up the hill to the theater and present it to the ticket taker. To this day, the sight of an old car tire reminds me of those days!

Just move the decimal point over, a movie's about 10 bucks now, old tires may be procurable for the $5 disposal fee, I can see someone buying an old tire for $5 and taking it to the theatre to pay for their ordinarily $10 movie.

The story of a 13 year old hobo who survived the Depression, and photos.


Families living in tents and shacks, unemployed men wandering across America.

Those pictures are heartbreaking. All I can say is, as they say, "and somewhere a banker smiled".

Rainsong et al:

The photos show a POV of the depression. The "Grapes of Wrath" and dust bowl conditions did exist but that was not my experience. I was born in '33 but from what I understood from word of mouth from parents and relatives, they had little before the depression and less during the depression but we all had a roof and enough for food, as did all the people I knew from that era. Apparently the author of the book WT mentioned was in about the same circumstance. Another factor is my parents were young and full of life and hardships that at 76 I could not endure, they just took in stride. Age does make a difference but then again so does outlook.

Here is an old guys view of the present. I'm a conservative more in the Ron Paul arena than NeoCon. My wife and I have no debt, some savings, and live off Social Security, military retirement and furniture business.

I certainly hope our President and congress is able to pull off a miracle. There are so many black cygnets (climate, finance, peak NPK, peak oil, etc, etc, etc.) waiting in the wings ready to become gross Black Swans that it would be silly to forecast anything past sun up tomorrow (maybe). We have some photoelectric capability (solar powered golf cart with 3K inverter), a well and a large (1/2 acre) garden area that we are making into a community garden. I retired from 'C' programming just after Y2K and went to a working hobby of building high-end furniture. I have developed good hand skills and have the tools to continue woodworking even if the electrical grid goes down.

If one or more of the black swans make a catastrophic entry, I believe there will be a time of chaos which will last for several months and perhaps years. After that, reality will set in and those left will settle down to live on what is left. I was a SAC Aircraft Commander and I know about nuclear war. If that happens, all bets are off.

I've spent several times longer periods in Cuba. I don't want to get into politics here, which is a totally different issue but I can assure everybody that yes, there is a life under scarce conditions and it's intensive and worth living it.

Absolutely WTFC

I found the people to be friendly, gracious, honest and loving. You can find the local people playing music which rivals anything found in top Latino clubs anywhere. Perhaps the best lesson I learned is how simple ingredients prepared with care can make la comida fantastica.

To paraphrase the slogan "Less is more", much less can be much better. The key is attitude.

Because of Cuba, I now speak Spanish. Because I speak Spanish, I now understand Cuba.

"I dream of rain L.A., L.A., I dream of gardens in the desert..."

The hottest year on record for L.A. was 1931.

The second wettest year on record was 2004-2005 second only to 1883-84.

2006-2007 driest year in all history.


Iraq hopes to turn around years of sluggish oil production and boost output by over 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of next year, its oil minister said
Breckenridge real estate.

The linked Bloomberg article "Commercial Shipping Exhaust Offsets CO2 Climate-Warming Effect " is an example of very poor journalism.

In this case, the important characteristic of aerosols is ignored - they clear out of the atmosphere very quickly (compared to CO2.) Thus the cooling effect is very temporary.

That any news item can be so selective about reporting the scientific facts is why skepticism about the MSM is well founded.

The Chilean National Oil company posted a loss of more than 950 billion dollars for 2008

No they did not! You changed "million" to "billion". You are off by a factor of one thousand.

Chilean state oil company ENAP said on Monday it had a $958 million loss in 2008,...


“If you think about where our share price is today, we are priced for global depression, not just recession,” POT President Bill Doyle said in the latest conference call. “It’s as though…people around the world are going to eat bark off of trees...
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? It doesn't matter to me if it is a bag of I-NPK or a bag of O-NPK.

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

I have a member on my website board who is pushing really hard biomass gasification as means to save us all. Here's the company he mentioned earlier with process capable of using everything one can think about:

Can anyone give some comments about this?

a few Utube videos full of high optimism also...

Buffett says economy in shambles

In his eagerly anticipated annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett also offered a gloomy economic outlook, saying "the economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 -- and for that matter, probably well beyond."
It would be fascinating to know if Warren Buffet has fully absorbed Peak Everything awareness. My guess is that he still has a ways to mentally travel to fully comprehending depleting FF-energy and other resource depletion.