Drumbeat: March 17, 2009

China Gains Key Assets In Spate of Purchases

Oil, Minerals Are Among Acquisitions Worldwide

Chinese companies have been on a shopping spree in the past month, snapping up tens of billions of dollars' worth of key assets in Iran, Brazil, Russia, Venezuela, Australia and France in a global fire sale set off by the financial crisis. . .

Even as global financial flows have slowed sharply overall, China has dramatically stepped up its outbound investment. In 2008, its overseas mergers and acquisitions were worth $52.1 billion -- a record, according to the research firm Dealogic. In January and February of this year, Chinese companies invested $16.3 billion abroad, meaning that if the pace holds, the total for 2009 could be nearly double last year's. . .

China's state-run media outlets are calling the acquisition spree an opportunity that comes once in a hundred years, and analysts are drawing parallels to 1980s Japan.

FACTBOX-Nigeria's oil production outages

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Nigeria has about 606,500 barrels per day of oil shut in due to sabotage to oil facilities, according to oil companies and trading sources.

* The outage volume represents about 25 percent of the West African country's installed output capacity of around 3 million bpd. [ID:nLG632483]

Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power

Carbon quango The Energy Saving Trust has come up with a new reason for Britons to save energy in the home. Our power stations will soon close, and you'll need to do your bit.

That's what one Reg reader discovered, after enquiring about the Trust's calculations on the effectiveness of new low-energy bulbs.

"A reduction in electricity consumption will be essential over the coming decade as a large number of power stations are being withdrawn from service, and as a result there is a gap looming between supply and demand," Graham Crocker was told. "More efficient lighting (which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of domestic electricity consumption) will go some way to alleviating these demand pressures." The answer came from Alex Stuart, assistant manager of services of development at the quango.

MIT breakthrough promises lighter, fast-charging batteries

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a way to charge lithium ion batteries in seconds, instead of hours, that could open the door to smaller, faster-charging batteries for cell phones and other devices.

Lithium ion batteries are used widely in portable electronics because they can store large amounts of energy. The tradeoff is that the batteries can take hours to recharge, which can be an inconvenience for users who are constantly on the move. A team of MIT scientists, led by Professor Gerbrand Cedar, discovered that lithium ions, which carry electricity in the battery, can move much faster if they are aligned with tunnels that can be accessed from the surface of the battery, according to an MIT statement.

Topic Report: E&P Capital Expenditure Cutbacks

New oil-and-gas projects usually take several years of development before starting commercial production. According to Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the scaleback in exploration and production could reduce future global oil supplies by up to 7.6 MMBpd in five years, or 9 percent of current production. If demand suddenly comes back as it did in 2003-2004, there could be a resulting shortfall of production and much higher energy prices. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also warns that the credit crisis and project cancellations will lead to no spare crude oil capacity by 2013.

The Recession’s Green Lining

A global downturn is doing what activists couldn't: closing dirty factories.

It is no coincidence that some of the dirtiest industrial operations are falling victim to the global recession. Over the past two decades, much of the world's manufacturing moved to where pollution standards are little more than mild suggestions. Since small, corner-cutting, inefficient facilities tend to both flout pollution laws and be most vulnerable to a sudden drop in demand, the global recession has hit such operations especially hard. Thousands of factories in China's Pearl River Delta have shut their doors since late last year, for instance; output of autos, electronics and other goods from factories in Mexico's Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey and Toluca has fallen so sharply that the amount of cargo trucked across the U.S. border has dropped 40 percent. In India, enough small steel-rolling mills around Delhi have closed that levels of sulfur dioxide (which forms acid rain) fell 85 percent in October 2008 compared with a year earlier. The recession is bringing a green dividend in the developed world, too. Reduced economic activity is projected to cut Europe's emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas, by 100 million tons in 2009, and the United States' by about the same amount.

Recession is not exactly a long-term environmental strategy, obviously.

Interior Secretary Salazar to Meet With Top Oil Executives

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday he plans to meet with top executives of the major oil companies this week to show them he’s just as interested in their views as all those wind and solar companies the administration is keen to help.

But Salazar says the administration hasn’t changed its mind about proposing billions of dollars in tax increases on the industry or about opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Things are not being done in Washington the same way they have been,” Salazar told reporters during a teleconference Monday when asked about the administration’s proposed tax increases on the industry. “Not everyone’s going to be happy.”

Turf battle over offshore wind energy is resolved

WASHINGTON (AP) — A two-year interagency squabble appears to be resolved, clearing the way for development of rules for offshore wind energy projects.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the Interior Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have reached general agreement resolving the problem that dates back to 2007. Under the agreement, Interior's Minerals Management Service has jurisdiction over offshore wind projects, while the commission has the "primary responsibility" on licensing wave and ocean current projects to make electricity.

Salazar opens door to ANWR drilling

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday he would consider allowing oil to be taken from Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by way of drilling from outside its boundaries if proponents can show wildlife and the environment will not be disturbed. But Salazar emphasized the Obama administration views the refuge as "a very special place" that must be protected. Salazar said he is not yet convinced directional drilling, despite recent advances in technology, would meet the test. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced legislation to allow oil companies to drill from platforms outside the refuge. She contends such drilling would leave the refuge surface land undisturbed, protecting wildlife.

Russia II: Opec’s dirty neighbour

Perhaps Europe can now stop worrying quite so much about Russia and Algeria, its two biggest natural gas suppliers, becoming too chummy. When it comes to oil at least, Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s energy minister, made clear the two did not see eye to eye. “Of course we are disappointed,” he said today about Russia’s unwillingness to cut its production voluntarily. “Wouldn’t you be with your neighbour if you were cleaning in front of your house and he was pouring down dirt.” He dismissed Russia’s ideas of closer cooperation through a memorandum of understanding and revealed the true value of an Opec MOU. “We sign MOUs with anyone. In Opec, what counts is membership.”

Accord Opens Door for Rules on Offshore Energy

WASHINGTON -- Backers of offshore wind and tidal farms could get a boost Tuesday with the resolution of a longstanding regulatory dispute between two federal agencies.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Jon Wellinghoff, the acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, are expected to announce Tuesday that Mr. Salazar's agency will cede primary authority for siting offshore wave energy projects to Mr. Wellinghoff's agency. The agreement clears the way for Interior to establish rules -- now nearly three years overdue -- governing the development of alternative energy projects.

For nearly four years, the Minerals Management Service -- a branch of Interior that manages the nation's offshore energy resources -- and the FERC have been at odds over which agency has primary jurisdiction for projects in the outer continental shelf that seek to harness the power of waves and tides to generate electricity, leaving any rule making in limbo. The FERC for years has claimed jurisdiction over wave, but not wind, projects in federal waters.

White House, Congress focus on offshore drilling and renewables

Senior Interior Department officials will be on Capitol Hill tomorrow to discuss oil and gas drilling and renewable energy development on land and offshore as momentum builds toward possible comprehensive energy bills in the House and Senate.

In the House, the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee will hold the latest in a series of hearings on petroleum development on the outer continental shelf, or OCS, that will feature an official with the Minerals Management Service, Interior's acting inspector general and a Government Accountability Office expert.

The House hearing is expected to explore allegations that oil companies are failing to produce energy from tens of millions of acres of existing leases on federal lands and waters even as the industry is pressing for new areas to be made available, among other OCS drilling issues.

NSTAR proposes cut in natural gas rate

NSTAR, the Boston-based utility, said that it is proposing a 70 percent decrease in natural gas prices starting in May and added that if the decrease is approved, it could save many of its gas customers about $35 a month.

NSTAR said it has "submitted a proposed summer rate of 38 cents per therm, down from last summer's average cost of $1.30."

Downgrades Across Oil and Gas

ON FRIDAY (MARCH 13), we reduced both our oil and U.S. Nymex natural-gas price assumptions for the short and longer terms.

With the recent outperformance of oily exploration and production versus gassy producers (10% outperformance month-to-date) and the more significant changes made to our long-term oil-price forecast, we are lowering ratings from Outperform to Neutral on oil-levered: Occidental Petroleum (ticker: OXY); Plains Exploration & Production (PXP); Denbury Resources (DNR); and Venoco (VQ).

At our reduced $70-per-barrel long-term oil-price outlook (versus $100 prior), many oil-producer valuations now look more full while asset growth is likely to be more constrained.

We see long-term value in gas and we have made only a moderate change to our long-term Nymex gas price (to $8.00 [per million British thermal units, MMBtu] from $8.50) with the view that the cost curve continues to support a robust price despite falling oilfield inflation and emerging high-quality shale plays.

Will peak oil mean the end of aviation?

I think a bigger problem for the future of aviation is much simpler: the economy. Convenience, which most forms of aviation deliver the best, could be one of the first “indulgences” given up by a financially squeezed society. Even if the global economy improves in the next year (I’d guess 2 years or more), the inflation (some would argue hyperinflation) sure to follow this unprecedented spending and printing of money will make the kind of aviation we take for granted a distant memory.

I’m not talking about the “weekend warriors” out there tooling around in their private airplanes at the local airport. I’m talking about the end of airfares that are either the same as they were 20 years ago, or even cheaper in some cases. We now take it for granted that we can fly from Denver to Las Vegas for about $200, or from the west coast to Hawaii for around $500 – those are prices that were paid in the mid-80’s as well. Something’s going to give there; supply (of flights) and demand (from strapped potential travelers) could both go down, and the above prediction of the “super elite” being the only flying travelers may come true – but not because of oil.

Preparing city for life after oil

SAN FRANCISCO – To avoid “a much darker future” The City should pursue transforming a city golf course into farmland, offer free Muni to low-income residents and quickly turn garages of homes into livable spaces, according to a city task force whose mission is to prepare San Francisco for an oil shortage.

The so-called Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force was created in December 2007 and has spent the last 15 months hammering out a plan that would transform San Francisco into a city with more people riding Muni, chicken coops in backyards, widespread farming on public and private lands, and extensive use of wind, solar and tidal energy.

Salazar defends higher oil royalties, taxes

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will meet with major oil company executives to assure them the Obama administration views oil as important to the country's energy future.

But Salazar, in a conference call with reporters Monday, defended proposals to end a manufacturers' tax break for oil companies and higher royalties on oil pumped from federal waters. He said the higher taxes and royalties are simply a matter of fairness.

Salazar said the taxpayer — like a private land owner — should get the maximum return from the federal government's oil and natural gas.

Canada: Libya May Buy Oil Company

The National Oil Corporation of Libya may exercise its right to buy Canadian-owned Verenex Energy, blocking the China National Petroleum Corporation’s deal, the chairman of the Libyan company, Shokri Ghanem, said. Dr. Ghanem said Libya may not waive its right of first refusal on a deal for Verenex and acquire the company itself rather than approve the sale. China National agreed in February to pay $394 million for Verenex, which operates in Libya’s Ghadames basin. Verenex said it still hoped to see Libya approve the sale.

UPDATE: Colombia's Ecopetrol Buys Stake In Pipeline For $418 Million

Colombia's state-controlled oil company Ecopetrol ( ECOPETROL.BO) agreed to acquire an additional stake in a Colombian pipeline from Canadian energy transportation company Enbridge Inc. (ENB) for $418 million.

The transaction, to be concluded Tuesday, will allow Ecopetrol to increase its stake in the Ocensa pipeline from 35.3% to 60%, Ecopetrol said in a statement Monday. . .

The company is probably taking advantage of the low prices of assets because of the economic crisis, Dauder said.

Something for the "genetic engineering is evil" crowd to gnaw on:

Diabetes cure a step closer after liver used to regulate blood sugar

Dr Lawrence Chan and his team at the the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, injected a gene into mice which converted stem cells in the liver to replace those damaged in the pancreas.

They discovered that the blood sugar of the mice returned to normal within a few weeks and remained that way for the rest of the animal's natural life.

Representative of the "genetic engineering is evil" crowd

According to researcher Sharyn Martin, a number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestines. DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA. The genetic consequences are unpredictable and unexpected gene fragments have shown up in GM soy crops.

GM splicing is never clean.

Unknown genetic fragments always find there way in.

Heard of superweeds? How about:

Superviruses. Viruses mixing with genes of other viruses and retroviruses such as HIV, give rise to more deadly viruses at higher rates. This is true for the cauliflower mosaic virus CaMV, most used in genetic engineering - in Round Up ready soy of Monsanto, Bt-maise of Novartis, and GM cotton and canola. It is a kind of "pararetrovirus" or what multiplies by making DNA from RNA. It is similar to Hepatitis B and HIV viruses and can pose immense dangers.

Representative of the "genetic engineering is evil" crowd

You need to inform Mother Nature of her natural evil, then. Maybe you can stop Her before She strikes again!

Most thinking in genetics has focused upon vertical transfer, but there is a growing awareness that horizontal gene transfer is a highly significant phenomenon, and amongst single-celled organisms perhaps the dominant form of genetic transfer. Artificial horizontal gene transfer is a form of genetic engineering.

Obviously, Mike, you are out to convince us very quickly that GE is the best thing since sliced bread. Good f'ing luck with that. What you have managed to do so far, with myself at least, is get me to skpi anything you post. The problems we face are not solved by any one approach. If there is a GE crop which creates a survival crisis for any one set of creatures, it impacts all others, directly or indirectly. Just as whether or not CO2 causes/caused AGW/CC, it has clearly caused the acidification of the world's oceans, most notably those of the southern hemisphere. Hence, there is more than one reason to restrain CO2 emissions. There are areas where GE can be beneficial, but just because something can work in the lab does not mean that everyone should adopt it. If you could restrain yourself as the one and only answer for all of the world's food problems, I am sure that you would be a well respected contributor instead of a poster to avoid.

Good luck in taking on the whole world - you came out swinging againsst some very adept folks here, myself not included. I just do not have the time to waste on your posts as they have been presented.

Thank you for the kind words.

There are areas where GE can be beneficial, but just because something can work in the lab does not mean that everyone should adopt it. If you could restrain yourself as the one and only answer for all of the world's food problems, I am sure that you would be a well respected contributor instead of a poster to avoid.

If you could point out where I said this, I would gladly apologize.

I am opposed to blanket statements about "genetic engineering." Once you acknowledge, "There are areas where GE can be beneficial," then you've conceded my point.

Unintended consequences...it's the LAW.

I say this with humor, not flame:
Brains were unintended consequences. Unfortunately there's not enough of em yet.


"Don't worry about brains, they are not used much in these parts."

But actually I agree, intelligence was probably an unintended consequence at least initially. An emergent property of a complex system. And like a lot of unintended consequences, intelligence has been, at best, a mixed blessing. Certainly for the rest of the ecosystem our "intelligence" has had some horrible consequences.

My brother has always maintained that the tragic flaw of mankind is his capacity to recognize his own mortality.

For something to be an unintended consequence presupposes that there was an original intention. What was (who who came up with) the original intention for which intelligence was an unintended consequence?

Thank you Shaman for pointing out that many here are living somewhere else.

People this argument is just silly. Genetic engineering is neither good nor evil. Simply because it can be abused by greedy companies does not mean that it cannot do great good either. A hammer can be used to crush a skull or build a house. It is a tool just like genetic engineering. The good or evil is not in the tool but in the hand of the user. So you guys quit arguing about the good or evil of genetic engineering and concentrate on the engineer, not the tool.

Where do the real dangers of genetic engineering lie?

Scare stories about genetic engineering may divert our attention from areas where we do need to be on our guard against cynical exploiters

To listen to some people, you'd think genetically modified foods were radioactive. But genetic engineering is not, of itself, either bad or good. It depends what you engineer. Doubtless a malevolent geneticist could stick a poison gene into a potato. If we insert a gene for making oil of peppermint, we'll end up with peppermint flavoured potatoes. It's up to us.


See ongoing collapse in bee colonies
for details on the unintended consequences
of short circuiting nature's defenses.

But not to worry. The N Atlantic THC is altering as we speak.

Humans have done about as much as we can do.

Nature thanx us for taking care of fossil fuels and
virgin timber. Next life forms at the top
of the life forms pyramid are already here.

I agree with you, Ron, that genetic engineering is neither good nor evil. My concern goes beyond just the need to eliminate the greed component. For me, the real issue is that we are simply not as smart as we like to think. Even with the best of intention, there is the danger of unintended consequences.

This, of course, happened when we invented the hammer. Fortunately, its use as a skull crusher is relatively limited by its character. The risk with genetic engineering is that once "invented" the new tool is released into the environment where we do not control it's character any longer.

Darwinian, I respectfully submit that the point here is not that genetic engineering, if done with omniscience, could possibly be beneficial. The point is that we don't understand nearly enough about the peppermint oil gene to safely splice it into the potato genome. On the other hand, the chances are overwhelming that if we continue to grow potatoes the old fashioned way, we can continue to eat them with relative safety. Not as much fun, of course.

Also, I register my general opinion that "tools" are not neutral, but that they seem to preferentially lead to certain outcomes by virtue of their inherent characteristics. One example is TV, which by its centralized command and control design, engenders mainly passive viewing. This is in contrast to the internet, which, by virtue of its relatively cheap and simple accessibility, tend to engender endless debates between complete strangers.

Genetic engineering in the hands of 21st century humans is about as safe (IMHO) as a chainsaw in the hands of my 4 year old. Yet see his eyes light up when you hand it to him.

The point is that we don't understand nearly enough about the peppermint oil gene to safely splice it into the potato genome.

Paranoid, your post matches your name, you are just being paranoid. Who told you that "we don't know enough"? Given that attitude we don't know enough about anything to do anything because it might be dangerous. Reminds me of a computer center director I once worked under. His attitude was; if you don't do anything you won't do anything wrong. He allowed absolutely no innovations to be tried under his watch.

And you should be sure not to try any new medication for anything because it could be dangerous.

But after all, you are Paranoid. ;-)


It's not a question of 'never do anything dangerous' Ron, it's a question of setting up self-replicating life forms with our bizarre mutations added to them and putting them out into our own biosphere.. a question of allowing the AG companies that back this development to introduce these things into our soils before we have any idea of what they will do in the environment.

This is the MASSIVE introduction of new traits with radically shifted abilities for that species, including toxin-forming defenses.

But that was good advice about new medication.. best be extremely careful about what's coming out of the drug-machines today. Remeber the Cox 2 inhibitors?

My favorite saying is "just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they are not out to get you..." ; -)

However, your point is indeed well aimed at an MD with 20 years' experience. I have seen so many drugs recalled for serious problems that surfaced only after a few years of use that I have made it a point NEVER to use anything brand new. I like to wait 5 or more years before prescribing something, and I am terrible at taking medication myself, evidently because I don't trust the stuff. All these "tools" are extremely blunt and often do not begin to address the cause of problems. They just get piled on top of stuff and then require more meds piled on top of them - and who profits then?

Whether you choose to do something, given that you never know whether it might in fact turn out against you, depends on a reasonable analysis of the upside and downside. I submit that this has not been done in the case of genetically modified organisms. The upside is mostly for Monsanto, the downside is mostly for the farmers, and the "environment" in some nebulous way, as far as the corporate bottom line is concerned. This means that Monsanto gets to go ahead with it, and we get to discuss endlessly whether it is worth our energy to actively oppose it.

Thanks Paranoid, that was an excellent comment.

Obviously we don't know enough about anything else we would not bounce like a pin ball from one debacle to the next. If we were as smart as dolphins we would not pay taxes, listen to elected idiots, wear clothes, serve jury duty, drive our kids to school, sit in traffic jams, carry umbrellas and multitudes of other things that dolphins avoid doing because their lives are organized around nature. Our lives are a continual failing attempt to organize nature around ourselves. Big difference.

Not only is there a big difference; our continuing futile attempts point out just how insane we are, for only an insane group would continue the futile attempts when they had failed so many times in the past. We would be better off to chuck all this nonsense and rejoin the chimps and, especially, the bonobos, at least the bonobos know how to extend an uninhibited warm welcome.

People this argument is just silly. Genetic engineering is neither good nor evil.

You're not going to like this. I naturally expect proselytizing scientists such as yourself to appreciate, or at least understand, the foggy thinking behind questions of "good, evil or neutral" with respect to science, technology, technique. I'm always let down. Do we suffer this logical fallacy because you're parroting the lines that've been inculcated into your brain over the years, or do you trot out the straw man in order to deceive? Are you an ignorant tool or a demagogue? I don't expect an answer -- you can't know the former and embodying the latter prohibits admission.

The God of Technics you worship -- the triad of rationality, science, progress -- exterts great power to formulate our everyday lives and control our future. In the words of Jacques Ellul, we live in a technological society. I identify technics as a God here mostly as hyperbole, but also with respect to its overwhelming mass of worshippers. But unlike traditional Gods, this one is firmly planted in the Real by definition. Your oblation is technique; your means to ends have transmuted into ends in themselves, and thus you have lost control. Like any true believer, you pray before God with your eyes closed.

This great power, which I'm treating here with a regrettably brief explanation, deserves critical examination and careful handling. But here's where your attitude betrays a fundamental contradiction: you're unable to turn technique back on the God you worship.

More than anything else, the great power vested in technics manifests as power to pervert, debauch and destroy. Witness the manifold existential threats we face. This is dangerous, yes? We do not properly respect that power, and hubris leads us to confuse it with a power emanating from ourselves. Human nature dictates the use of technics, you say? BS. Human nature leads some to obeisance, others to rebellion and, thankfully, yet precious few others to conscientious deliberation.

Rather than sidestepping these dangers with dualistic questions over Good or Evil, which is largely just an argument in misdirection, we should treat them as potential threats to our human interests and reject them outright until the results are in. Sounds a bit scientific, doesn't it? But that's not your job, of course -- you're a scientist and progress must march on.

Your post is a good example of why we should bring back the point system. A voice of insanity in a world gone mad. Perhaps GE is inherently neither good nor evil, but in the absence of any democratic process informed by rigorous analysis and holistic thinking, it can do a great deal of damage. Sadly, the people concerned with this technology were never given a voice as it was crammed down our throats by the Monsantos of the world and their government handmaidens.

GE = sucks

points system = sucks

big ag companies = sucks

government = sucks

Any argument you are involved in is silly, according to you.

Genetic engineering is one more dumb idea on the way to wrecking whats left of our planet.

Are you a tool of Monsanto? Cargill? or simply ignorant of the possible consequences of GE?

Are you telling posters what they can and cannot discuss?

GE is wonderfull for those making lots of money from it, whats your excuse for supporting it so vigorously?

Genetic Engineering is not like a Hammer, Sorry you can't claim that one here.

A hammer is sitting on my desk. It does not jump off my desk, it can not move on its own, it will not hit the nest person who enters the room.

A section of DNA is a living and movable part of the code. I have sequence Y-Dna in Plant Charlie. Plant Charlie can breed with Plant Fran and Pass Y-dna to her and his offspring (we will call them bobbie and jennie). Bobbie and Jennie pass Y-dna along to the next generation and so forth. Now 5 generations later Y-dna bonds with (Natural dna q2) q2-Y-dna causes the plant to make toxins that kill species N-bug. DNA is an active part of the world it does move within species, (Genes, RNA, DNA etc) these things are movable on there own, they don't need US to pick them up to move them.

YES they both are tools, but the Hammer can not bond with a screwdriver that sits next to it. Plant y and Plant x, can bond with each other.

We know how to splice in genes, and fractions of DNA strings, but we still do not know the whole method with which these parts operate inside the whole of the living breeding ecosystem.

Care has to be taken.

I have Breed Plants, and animals, I have not done gene splicing, or DNA splicing. But I know that this science is still called a Baby-science, we have not had the time to see where all the possible outcomes could lead.

I do support the further study in the field don't get me wrong. But you can not equate GE and Hammers as the same thing.


Thanks for that CEO,

I have personally written over a million lines of code and can not certify that any of my work, although in use reliably, is bug free. It is in use in industrial situations which often presents a serious health hazard.

My code, AFAIK, can not propagate so the risk is limited to a small area. Given the demonstrated self-serving nature of the GM industry, I truly fear for our future, (all other threats aside).

I design and test extensively to minimize risk, but only within the limits of what the market will allow. I can not test a product for ten years while competitors rush out inferior product. Similarly, customers urge me to give them the product ASAP. I also make it clear to the customer what those risks are and I am indemnified except for gross incompetence. Within these constructs, technology moves forward. In retrospect, I am not sure that we did due diligence.

GMO, as I see it operates with impunity and outright aggression. To introduce a new genetic strain into the environment, even for testing, is sheer lunacy. Considering the complexities involved, we are planting time bombs.

Like you, I advocate the process but the concept of a corporation deeming something "safe" chills me to the bone.

Does anyone here remember Thalidomide, or DDT or recently BPA or Thalates or various other xeonesterogens?

Testing in a controlled environment is critical and independent verification is absolutely essential.

For those that might dissent, let me remind you of Dow Chemical that produced silicone. It is a great product, depending on the application. They cashed in on a trivial but lucrative area, exploiting our bizarre and temporary obsession with slim bodies and large breasts.

Dow Chemical now longer exists, due to lawsuits, but many victims remain.

The Dow story is but a teaspoon in the ocean compared to when one of the GMO ventures assumes that what they are doing is "safe". Some years forward Monsanto, or others, will likely crater, the investors will have profited and we will be dealing with a strain that is rampant and unsuitable.

Pardon me if I rant, but I find it ludicrous that so much effort is spent against nuclear proliferation, but something that could affect our food supply is given a relatively free pass.

IOW, why do we worry about terrorists, but we don't wear a seatbelt? As Pogo said....

Dow Chemical now longer exists, due to lawsuits, but many victims remain.

Did you mean no and not now?

http://www.dow.com/ Copyright © The Dow Chemical Company (1995-2009). All Rights Reserved.

He might have meant Union Carbide, which Dow bought after the Bhopal, India devastation.. and the remaining suits are being brought to Dow instead.. if I have that story right.

My mistake. That's what I get for posting late at night. I referenced Dow Chemical, when I meant Dow Corning, a subsidiary. IIRC, Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy and remained under protection for quite a few years.

My basic point was that the resources of a corporation often do not compare to the potential risks they take and we end up holding the bag. Bhopal, as you mention, is an excellent example.

Ummm, if we don't have expensive treatments to allow wealthy people to live longer while increasing the severity of diseases overall, how can we hope to properly tilt the die-off toward those who are prolific and poor? /sarcanol

I've long said that when bioengineering technology gets to the home science-lab level, young geeks who design computer viruses today will instead create a broad array of interesting creatures -- glowing green poodles, cats that actually like people, or miniature elephants -- plus a plethora of irritating and deadly diseases, like a flu that makes your hair fall out or a cold that promotes cancer.

On a more practical level, why aren't there perennial grain crops? Simply creating rice and wheat that doesn't need to be reseeded every year would seem to lower the planting effort and prevent erosion, while improving drought resistance.

Perennial Grain Cropping Research

The Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas has been working on "perennializing" grain crops for years. One obvious problem is that perennial crops must store energy for later growth which tends to reduce yields. My take is that perennial grains will always be marginal producers...why not focus on perennial forb and perennial tree crops that already exist? That moves the settled zone in the American west past the 100th meridian.

Historical increase in corn yield -- it's in the roots
I don't know if this applies to all plants, but it sure seems logical to think it does. Someone stands a chance to make a real fortune if they could invent a cheap topsoil and/or near subsoil irrigation system as it would be much more effective and less wasteful than surface irrigation or sprinklers.

It sure could put a lot of the currently laid-off oil and natgas drillers back to work. Instead of MRC horizontals to collect FF-energy--> they would be putting in much shallower, smaller MRC horizontals to distribute water with I/O-NPK added. When water starts heading towards Unobtainium [see Cali, Oz-land, etc] we won't want to waste a drop.

I am certainly not an expert, but it makes me wonder if anyone has ever investigated stratigraphy on farm soils. Just inject the water into the 'Arab Zone D' equivalent with MRC horizontals: it then spreads to the crop roots.

The problem here would be the equivalent of the 10 ft man.

The weight of the bones would crush him.

Nature always gives us the option:

You want resilience or growth. Pick one.

Hi Toto,

I don't know if this applies to all plants, but it sure seems logical to think it does.

You may be right, but this may be a function of C4 photosynthesis. I haven't seen anything suggesting leaf and root angle changes in wheat and rye despite their increased productivity over that last century. I could easily have missed it though. I don't know about other C3 grains.

As to your other points, subsurface irrigation is already pretty cheap - 10,000 feet of 6 mil T-Tape is only three hundred bucks. Compared to center pivot that's not bad if your water cost is high or water availability is low.


Yes - the Jewish Kabbits have done a whole lotta work on the topic of sub-surface irrigation. All one has to do is go "dig it up".

- 10,000 feet of 6 mil T-Tape is only three hundred bucks.

If you bury it, you'd better not have pocket gophers in the field. They will chew it up. Been there, done that. Also, the price of PE went sky high last summer when crude was >$100 barrel. It's come down some since then but not much. Expect it to go thru the roof again when oil prices 'recover.' Face it: the Israeli microirrigation paradigm based on PE was an artifact of the heyday of the petroleum culture. We'll end up going back to flood irrigation, if we continue to do ag at all in regions of insufficient precip.

Ever heard of Drip Systems. There are several different kinds. One kind has long tubes with nodes that drip. The other kind weeps all along its length.

They are costly, and made for the home gardener, and you don't need them where you get good rains. But they are out there.

There are also other methods of growing plants that we don't use nearly enough. One of the reasons is they don't scale up very well for Big Farms.

"The Natural Way of Farming" By Masanobu Fukuoka, is a powerful way of growing 2 grain crops per year. It is great for a home gardener, But it does not work if you have 500 acres and want to do it all by machine.

We have gotten ourselves in this mess. We have said I want 500 acres of Wheat, most of the work done by machines. Great, now you have all these other issues that come to pass in a few years or decades after this happens.

We are just living with this Idea that 90% of us can have desk jobs. When if all of us were growing food in our own yards, or out on some hunk of city green space, we would in the long run need less Big Farms to supply us with food.

If every human on earth grew some of their own food. We would not have so many nearly starving people. Granted we would have to work well within the ecosystem. Cycle wastes back into the system, eat closer to the land. And be less worried about what Joe next door is driving in his driveway.

Could we do it, Sure, But we would have to get rid of hate, distrust, envy, greed, and be more caring towards each other.

You be the judge where you think this sort of thinking will get you in the world you see on the nightly news.


glowing green poodles

How about glowing green ham with your green eggs? Wonder what Dr Zeus would think?


Genetic engineering has been used to create a modified tobacco plant, and in January 2006,
Taiwanese researchers successfully engineered bioluminescent adult pigs by fusing genetic
information from jellyfish with a pig embryo. There are also many potential industrial and
commercial applications. Industrial designers are looking at engineering bioluminescence to
create glowing Christmas trees that don’t need lights, to make glowing trees to line highways
and save electricity, or to grow agricultural crops that luminesce when they need water! What
other uses can you think of?

What other uses can you think of?

How about some organism that cr@ps oil- that would be a great GE project. You know, something more practical than glow-in-the-dark Christmas Trees.

According to researcher Sharyn Martin, a number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestines. DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA. The genetic consequences are unpredictable and unexpected gene fragments have shown up in GM soy crops.

That makes no sense. Everything we eat is foreign DNA, unless you are a cannibal.

According to researcher Sharyn Martin, a number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestines. DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA.

That is about the dumbest thing I have ever read on TOD. All organic food contains DNA. Everything you eat or ever ate contains DNA. Has DNA from the food you ate since birth mixed with your DNA? No, it doesn't work that way. Your DNA does not absorbe DNA from your food?

Anyway I was very anxious to find out where you got this silly statement Mac, so I googled: Sharyn Martin DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA and came up with at least a hundred people quoting Sharyn Martin saying this. After searching about a dozen of them, one of them finally gave the link where she was supposed to have said this: IMMUNOLOGICAL REACTIONS TO DNA AND RNA and guess what? She never said anything of the sort. Nowhere in that article does she say that foreign DNA mixes with our DNA!

I kept searching and found several others giving this same link. So this has to be the source of this very stupid claim. So Mac, please stop quoting Sharyn Martin as saying this because it did not happen. This just shows how stupid a whole lot of bloggers really are.


Darwinian, great work! You've just unearthed another "urban legend."

I'm really afraid there is a whole hysterical undercurrent to the "natural, organics" movement that is going sink the whole ship.

I don't want that to happen.

Ron, the dumbest ramblings I have read on this site were posted by you. I looked back at your past posts and could hardly believe what you posted.

Mac is one of the most informative and intelligent people posting on this site. You should do so well.

Where did you pick up the very bad habit of starting your posts with flat statements backed up by absolutely no facts or links. And another thing, make up your mind what you are. One day you are an oil expert, the next you are a geneticist, the next you pretend to know something about economics. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Seeing that your name is 5 to 7 days old Reeves, I do wonder at your posting against Ron, and or others.

Ron has his faults as do we all, but he has a steady record of researching what he talks about.

By the way I have known him and talked to him outside of this site, Though we have never met face to face, for a time we lived in the same city.

When I see people show up out of the blue and then attack someone like you are doing and have shown up out of the blue, my thoughts tend to go towards you being someone that might have another name on here, and all you want to do is get away with attacking someone.

By the way, I don't agree with everything Ron Says, but I don't attack his posting abilities, or his person.


Eight posts. A couple with content, most of the rest of an inflammatory nature.

But we don't absorb DNA from food and incorporate into our own and he posted a link to the original article by Martin showing it was misquoted. The criticism he brought up on this issue looks right on the mark.

There are so many mistakes in this post that it is difficult to make any sense of it...
Sheryn Martin? I could not find any article by Martin describing this phenomenon. Citation??
"potentially mixing with normal DNA": no evidence for this exists in the human genome. If foreign DNA would be able to enter, it would apply to normal, non-GM tomato DNA as well as genetically modified. In reality, the body's own "normal DNA" is sheltered in the cell's nucleus.
"Cauliflower Mosaic Virus": this virus may be present in, guess what, cauliflower (organic and conventional). If this could infect human cells, then there would be frequent plagues caused by this agent. Never happened. In relity, viruses are very well-adapted to their hosts. The more related two species are, the more likely an infection. HIV comes from Chimpanzees and indeed is a retrovirus. Influenza comes from birds and is not a retrovirus.

Then again, an ounce of prevention may preclude a hypodermic full of a known toxin as a cure..


Diabetes is so common in America and other western countries that its presence in any human group has become a marker for civilization. Ironically, in no other field of western medicine has the promise of scientific breakthrough failed so poignantly as in the treatment of diabetes.

I'm sorry Mike.. but that solution reads like an Edgar Allen Poe tale to me. Read "The Birthmark"..

"One obstacle is that in order for the gene called neurogenin3 to bond with a cell it needs to be transported by a virus which could be deadly to humans."


Uh, god... More dietary dogmatism.

WAPF makes some bold statements that are not even supported by Weston
Price work itself. For example the diet WAPF suggest to consume or the diet samples of the
members of the foundation are very different from the diet suggested by
Price in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
As a researcher once said: "By picking and choosing individual studies
carefully enough, you can prove just about anything you would like."


In addition I might add that the original price "research" is in the
main grossly flawed which when steered by the current pricies only
distorts it all the more. The only valid observation of his that remains
is that when shifting to a diet with higher refined sugar content tooth
decay increases, hardly original an observation even in his time. link.

Great links Mike. Blog comments, no attribution, and this comment closes off one of the 'debunkings'..

Also I hope WAPF supporters won't reply as this is supposed to be a
thread for debunking (if possible, I'm not saying it is ...) the
premises of WAPF diatery suggestions. There's no need to provide the
arguments to support them, since they're all in the WAPF website for us
to read.


'Supporters shouldn't reply, cause it'll challenge my debunking'??!

The article I linked was at least signed by an Author with an MD..
"Tom Cowan, MD is a physician in private practice in San Francisco, California. He is the author of The Fourfold Path to Healing. Visit his website at http://www.fourfoldhealing.com. "

The Weston Price crowd can be dogmatic, as can the US government or the Catholic Church. It doesn't make everything they do invalid, just as a few successful medications doesn't make the whole stable of Pharmaceuticals safe or effective. Take on that article I linked, instead of broad, uncredited ad-homs against the whole organization.

Here's his wrapup..

The diet should be rich in animal foods including raw butter, cream, whole milk and cheese from pastured animals; raw meat and fish; beef and lamb; seafood, especially shellfish; unrefined salt for trace minerals; bone broths for minerals; unfiltered olive oil; molasses, egg yolks; and a variety of fresh and fermented vegetables, especially beets.

What a freak, is he crazy? Bone Broths?! Cod Liver Oil? Fresh and Fermented Vegetables? NO!!!

Done with you..

"One obstacle is that in order for the gene called neurogenin3 to bond with a cell it needs to be transported by a virus which could be deadly to humans."

You're attempting to critique their level of awareness of the problem? Or what?

BTW: I used to TEACH "The Birthmark" to lit. students. It has nothing to do with genetic engineering. It's about Victorian attitudes towards science.

Read Darwin instead.

Excellent overview of the situation. Dietary advice being propogated (genetically?) by lit. majors.

You might check on how Lit. Majors eat as compared to Doctors or Researchers.. and then how long they live.

"Strive mightily, as lawyers do in law; but eat and drink as friends." - Shakespeare


This would be for Type I (Juvenile Onset) Diabetes, I take it? That is the one where insulin production is damaged. In Type II (Adult Onset), insulin production is normal, the problem is with cellular uptake of insulin.

Try explaining such subtleties to "Bob."

The "high incidence" of diabetes in the US he refers to has nothing to do with Type 1.

Now I'm "Bob" ..

The message from 'the Birthmark' didn't die with the Victorians. Just keep adding pills, Mike, good luck.

nice straw man you have been putting up the last few days. genetic engineering it a tool, the ones you thinly veil and attack as Luddites are not against the use of the tool. They are against the very very unsafe method the tool is being used today. Gmo crops needs at least 25-30 years of complete isolated research to weed out(no pun intended) as many consequences as one can because while it is a tool. it is a VERY blunt tool. This is something you do not seem to understand. The documentary 'The future of food' is a good place to start as it does describe the major methods of making a gmo crops in a layman's language. The same goes with Gene therapy which the article you post covers, It's something that is very risky and must be carefully researched because as another reply to this post points out. The human body can and does routinely absorb non human dna, ever get sick with a virus? your cells still have some of the virus dna in them.

nice straw man you have been putting up the last few days. genetic engineering it a tool, the ones you thinly veil and attack as Luddites are not against the use of the tool. They are against the very very unsafe method the tool is being used today. Gmo crops needs at least 25-30 years of complete isolated research to weed out(no pun intended) as many consequences as one can because while it is a tool. it is a VERY blunt tool.

Please point out to me my use of the word "Luddite." I will apologize for it.

So: on the one hand, pointing out that genetic engineering is a tool is a "straw man," i. e. a false proposition.

On the other hand: "while it is a tool. it is a VERY blunt tool."

This is known as a "contradiction."

If you knew as much as you claim to know about gmo crops then you would not of posted that.

The most common way to make gmo crops is to coat very small gold spheres with the desired gene. shoot it into a freshly germinated seed of a crop and douse the seed with chemicals known to activate gene's in the hope, yes the hope, that the chemical's activate the inserted gene if it was inserted. This is a very blunt method because the chemical can activate other gene's who's effects we do not yet know. combine that with the recent research that shows that one gene != one protein, that is a single gene can code for multiple proteins and that means can change multiple things should cause someone at least with a decent science education to pause. making us wonder if we should proceed much more cautiously rather then throwing out into the wild the first few plants that appear to show the results we want without near complete testing.

with animals genes are inserted into a single cell embryo right after fertilization and then stimulated to start division.

genetic engineering is a tool and a rather blunt one because we can't control the effects of process, the best we can do is insert the gene and force it to activate then let nature do the rest. With further research and careful and complete isolated study(the same level of isolation we use to contain bio-weapons) of gmo crops and animals shows promise. anything short is in my opinion is the same as playing Russian roulette with a gun that we can't see the number of chambers.

Also yes you may not call them Luddites directly but you attack any anti gmo people as if they were Luddites. Even then you do not know the history of the term either, the original people who were called Luddites were not against the use of technology like your posts imply. They were against the reckless use and application of technology. a good example is the FDA and drugs, the FDA is a Luddite organization in principle because it requires new drugs to be tested as throughly as possible before being sold and used while a non-Luddite version would rubber stamp any drug any company made on what the company 'claimed' it did.

Please point out the document where it is stated that the EU anticipates allowing ANY GE after "at least 25-30 years of complete isolated research". How many posters above take that position?

i did not say the eu should i said we as a species should.

Yet the study of epigenetics show what exposures happen to the grandmother effect the child of the now. So your timeframe is too short for 'live human trials' - if your goal is to have a chance at attempting to understand effects on humans.

oh epigenetics, yea i forgot about that effect. Still though it does reinforce my point that extreme caution should be taken when dealing with genetic engineering of Crops, Animal's, and especially Bactria.

especially Bactria

Isn't Bactria the land of the camels? Sorry, I know it is a simple typo but it struck me funny.

glad i could make someone laugh, i need one now and then due to some personal medical stuff that happened to me.

Well, I certainly look forward to cybernetic implants... If I can get a math-coprocessor that will allow me to do trig functions in my head, I certainly wouldn't mind. Even better would be a neural iPod, so I can dance to music as loud as I want, but not worry about damaging my eardrums. (It would be better than the natural one I have that plays the same d&mn song ALL DAY LONG, looping nothing but the chorus!)

Yes, I'm one of those "evil" people that would happily grow clones of myself, and if they had brains, I'd let them live their own lives, and I wouldn't be averse to growing clones that were mindless, so that I could transplant my mind into an 18 yr old body..

Give me my titanium reinforced skeletal structure and female cyborgs that are enabled in the art of love making and the art of killing.

Now, when it comes to genetic engineering, I think that things can be great with it, but only with MASSIVE amounts of research. Mother nature modifies DNA all the time, but it tends to be in less drastic steps.

Something for the "genetic engineering is evil" crowd to gnaw on:

The end of terrestrial plants due to adding alcohol production to a soil dwelling bacteria is 'plenty evil'*

*For certain values of evil. Your mileage will vary.

Just to get a different perspective on our
small little planet:

Hearts of galaxies close in for cosmic train wreck

Monday, March 16 2009


Another great pic from Hubble. ;}

Always a cure for hubris.

Hello TODers,

Russia's industrial output falls 14.6% in Jan-Feb - the Federal State Statistics Service

..The output of oil and gas condensate decreased 2.2% on the year to 78.2 million tonnes in January-February, while natural gas output fell 12.2% on the year to 105 billion cubic meters, coal output dropped 19.3% on the year to 45.7 million tonnes, and iron ore output decreased 31.7% on the year to 11.8 million tonnes.

Electric power output fell 7.2% on the year to 183 billion kilowatt-hours in January-February and thermal power output fell 3.6% on the year to 375 million gigacalories.
Is this more natgas geologic-depletion evidence of Matt Simmons' 'cold toast' supply theory? Or is this just a big Russian internal demand economic collapse? 12.2% is a pretty big drop in demand, yet much of Eastern Europe was shutoff and cold during this time.

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

This sounds bad. You probably saw the discussion yesterday about the gas situation, with the apparent continued decline in gas production even in March.

With lower revenues, I worry about a lot of the oil exporters--Russia, Mexico, Venezuela.

Yep, I agree it sounds bad--IMO, the Euro-pols need a severe butt kick. I posted my feeble two cents on this topic in Euan's & Undertow's latest TOD:Europe keypost.

UPDATE 2-Ukraine says Russian gas supply to Europe falls

KIEV, March 17 (Reuters) - Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine fell 43.4 percent in February to 6.4 billion cubic metres from 11.3 bcm in February 2008 due to low demand, Ukraine's fuel and energy ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said gas transit totalled 11.1 bcm in the first two months of this year against 23.7 bcm in the same period in 2008.

"Europe is no longer taking Russian gas as it was before," Inna Koval, spokeswoman for Ukraine's gas transit monopoly Ukrtransgas, said.

Yep it's truly amazing how little gas we seem to want even though we're running on empty!

Financial crisis is churning on:
>> adding to the future nat-gas/energy security for Europe ... or rather lack thereof

EU excludes Nabucco gas pipeline project from priority list- report

The Nabucco gas pipeline project has been removed from a European Union list of priority projects, RIA Novosti reported citing a source in the EU Council of Ministers on Tuesday.
The 27-nation bloc had initially planned to allocate 250 million euros ($323 million) to finance the project, which aims to pump natural gas from Central Asia to Europe bypassing Russia, but later cut funds to 50 million euros ($64.5 million).

The $10 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the European Union and the United States, planned to carry 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Caspian or Middle Eastern gas annually to an Austrian hub via Turkey, is seen as one of Europe's best hopes for limiting its dependence on Russian gas.

Russia's transit disputes with its former Soviet neighbors have raised concerns in Europe about its heavy dependency on Russian energy.
Russia had cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Jan. 1 after failing to reach a deal over debt and prices for 2009 in late December, and later halted gas deliveries to Europe, claiming Ukraine was stealing transit gas.

Nabucco has been plagued by delays over investment decisions, changes in EU law, disputes between consortium members and questions on the source of supplies.

Project shareholders include Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL, Romania's Transgaz, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz, Turkey's Botas and Germany's RWE.

Thanks for the update.

Isn't this the pipeline that may not have enough gas if Iran is not included--and Iran is a this point not included?

How reliable and accurate do you estimate that "YourIndustry" site to be? I note on their contact page, the following 'Your industry news media, communication and marketing services provide industry leaders in there field the means to target and penetrate there audience". For a Brit publication to incorrectly use "there" instead of "their" twice in one sentence is unexpected for a media-specialist company.

Obviously, I have no way to vouch for their reliability and accuracy.

We would have to google around for additional corroboration to help validate this info. This is always a problem because journalism statistical reporting standards seems to be declining IMO. Not to mention Govts' fiddling with the data [recall Shadowstats vs USGOV stats, or US Census Bureau data suppression for the USGS].

Consider the reporting and validation problems just in OPEC, EIA, IEA, JODI, etc. Simmons, Rembrandt, ACE, Darwinian, et al must go totally nuts trying to keep all this roughly correlated in their spreadsheets.

Ahhhhh - Can light really escape a black hole ?

27 Visualizations and Infographics to Understand the Financial Crisis


I think I'm going to plant ~5 acres total with corn, squash, onions and potatoes and then just let it go. If anyone in the community wants to tend to some of it good. If not, well, I'll waste 0.01% of the money I lost on dozens of other stupid things I've done in my life. Lesson learnted and paid for.

Why not plant fruit & nut trees instead? One time planting effort, then finished. The gift that keeps on giving.

It'd be nice if someone would write an article on penjing and how the Chinese used it in nomadic farming... or so I'm told that it was originally used in nomadic farming.

(Penjing was later miniturized by the Japanese... and it became to be known as bonsai).

My wife wants to plant walnuts or something too. And I like the idea for wind breaks if nothing else (they act like snow fences and catch the brown clouds of soil blowing off my various neighbors' 200+ acres - much cheaper than delivery of top soil by truck).

I'm only one person and I'm on a very strict budget. I want to stick mostly with foods that can return a caloric profit within a few months. A sort of insurance for possible near-term food emergencies for my community - which I consider to be dangerously complacent. I'm very paranoid about having really hungry neighbors next fall.

The main problem with nut trees is that the squirrels tend to make off with most of the nuts. Of course, if you have a shotgun and like Brunswick Stew, that might not actually be a "problem"!


LOL about time to start the bi-annual genocide on squirrels and squirrel planted pecan trees. My 20 mature pecan trees were heavy bearers last year and I have already picked up a decent sized bag of nuts that they've scatter planted in my garden and flower beds as I have worked them. I tend to be a little more motivated to thin the squirrels after a few weeks of digging them up. If we have a tough spring the squirrels will help clean them out. They will dig up the small saplings and eat the nut thus destroying the young tree. If they were more effective in that policing I might spare a few more of them.

The main problem with nut trees is that the squirrels tend to make off with most of the nuts. Of course, if you have a shotgun and like Brunswick Stew, that might not actually be a "problem"!

Well, for your benefit you might want to try lead-free bullets so you can enjoy a lead-free meal.

Over a century of duck hunting has severely polluted some prime duck hunting spots with lead in Louisiana.


I prefer an Feinwerkbau air-rifle and snares...then the neighbors don't know. Squirrel pot pie...yum!

Use a .22 as shotgun shells are expensive. Better yet, use a high powered .17 pellet gun as there is very little noise. Works for rabbits too.

Box traps also work well for bunny and tree rat. The .22 cal break barrel air rifle also works for 'em - but more stuns the rabbit then outright kills

more stuns the rabbit then outright kills

Never had any problem kacking rabbits with my .17 cal. air rifle...unless by stunned you mean "way dead". As my kids are fond of saying: "Bang! Head Shot!"

The head shots from the .22 pump air handgun are always stunners. The rife - yes a few kills, but also stuns.

Normally not an issue - kill 'em from box traps.

Ah, now you're in my area of expertise :) My old .22 Titan Manitou air cylinder rifle put out 22ftlb with a little mod and would put a heavyweight hunting pellet through the head of any rabbit at 30 metres. No recoil and could split a match in half at that range. It was feasible to take shots at 60-80 metres in light winds and a biped rest as long as you can hit that 50p piece ( 1" ).
Just used to bait squirrels or use a buddy to decoy them so they hide round the tree and then you pop 'em.
Now I think my Basset Hounds would keep any squirrels etc off the garden :)

i'm down with your idea of "guerrilla gardening" (check it out at .org) and i don't care if it's "organic or altered seed". we just need to eat.

Actually it would be crucial to plant open-pollinated species. If TSHTF you would be up a creek with your Monsanto varieties.

More calories from corn , squash , beans . How would you store the fruit ?

Figs and almonds would be my first choice .. dry and store well..

If you can , do all of them

Yes , it all comes back to the Trees. It's where we came from, and where we are going.

"The concept of a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related has been used in science, religion, philosophy, mythology and other areas. A tree of life is variously, a) a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, b) a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense, and c) a motif in various world theologies, mythologies and philosophies."

A man can live quite well in the Trees. Food, shelter, even clothing, the planting of a Fruit or Nut Tree, is truly a gift to God. Plant one each day. They provide food for generations to come. They will need them.

Reminds me of the book "The Man Who Planted Trees" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Planted_Trees


The spot price of LNG has fallen from $20 mmbtu to $6 mmbtu, this is below the cost of what some shale gas drillers need in order to extract natural gas profitably and tender interest payments on their billions of dollars in debt issues. A million btus are roughly equivalent to a thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

Surge of cheap gas -- Times Newspaper Online, London

In addition to LNG capacity increasing, pipeline takeaway capacity from existing shale gas fields is increasing as these projects were started during the natural gas - commodities boom.

Raintree -- It will be interesting to see how much of the LNG exports reach the USA. I read stories that our LNG imports were down in 2008 due to increased competition/prices from other importers. Consider the recent flap between Russia and its disrupted NG supply to the EU. I know my client company used the prospect of increased LNG as one factor in their decision to cut 80% of the UNG drilling in 2009. The price drop was the prime reason but the import potential supposedly did carry weight.

New pipeline capacity might give a boost to deliverability but that should evaporate in a year or less IMO. Any new wells waiting for these connects will add a good bit initially. But I don't think there is a great number of such wells waiting on the pipelines. And we’re all aware how quickly they decline. Additionally, as the rates drop so does the pressure. To maintain deliverability will require compression. But that new additional capital cost will certain kill some of the projects should prices remain low. You might have already seen my comments about a crude model I ran to estimate the fall off in NG production should all the UNG players drop out of the game as much as we have. It didn’t project as drastic a reduction as I had expected. The older wells have significantly depleted but there are a large number of them so they have developed a somewhat stable production base. While the UNG wells do have steep initial declines once they have dropped the declines do decrease significantly. The model showed not so much a cliff as a plateau that gradually declines over time. But that is a significant change from the new records being set monthly last year. Those days are long gone and it will be quite a while before they return IMO.

You might like to read yesterday's news, some of what you quoted is older than that:


Some NG wells produce for 30-50 years. After the initial steep drop in production was reached, they continued on a long term plateau, gentle decline. As water was removed from the formation some natural gas wells actually increased in production with time.

Not to worry about the pressure, the pipelines use artificial compression stations anyway. If LNG undercuts onshore well production some companies will have bills to pay whether they can afford to drill for gas or not. If more LNG gets dumped on the market you might see bad liquidity problems in overextended oil and gas companies.


Gas carrier rates deflate as idle vessels await projects
Martyn Wingrove - Tuesday 17 March 2009

CHARTER rates for liquefied natural gas vessels dropped by a third to around $30,000 per day as more than 40 gascarriers remained idle, writes MartynWingrove.
Forty idle LNG tankers. Yet there are so many countries that would love to buy this natgas, but they cannot afford the regasification equipment and distribution infrastructure. It is unfortunate that they will have to keep chopping down their trees and/or burning dirty coal.

Due to the recession, fewer LNG cargos are being purchased by Asia.

Chinese exports dropped more than 25% YOY Feb. 2009. This is not what they expected in their forecasts for rapid growth.

Chinese note large drop in exports for
February 2009

At any rate, carbon fueled power plants and transport are supposed to be gradually shutting down across the world because of the Kyoto treaty. Within about 40 years carbon use is restricted to about half of what it was earlier in the decade. This leaves China, India, and the United States manufacturing not impacted by Kyoto. The United States has already discussed legislating measures to reduce use of coal, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. Only the rich might be able to afford to drive cars or heat their homes if strict carbon taxes/cap trading are enacted.

Only the rich might be able to afford to drive cars or heat their homes if strict carbon taxes/cap trading are enacted.

BS !

Insulate your home, good windows, share common walls, keep geometry simple, efficient heating systems at reasonable temperatures (think Jimmy in sweater) and keep sq ft to reasonable levels (think 1950 USA) and heating will not be an excessive burden for even the working poor.

And driving one or two thousands miles/yr in an economy car will likewise be affordable for most people.

Best Hopes for Realism,


C'mon, Alan. That is not a realistic shift for most people. You have to deal with where we are today, not some ideal that doesn't exist.

What *is* good about the carbon tax, as opposed to C&T, is that low-carbon users would actually get money back while those with high carbon loads would pay.

IMO, this would be too regressive without a program to upgrade homes across the country first. The build-out I've described, perhaps limited to low middle class and lower economic level homes and maybe restricted to insulation and efficiency measures, combined with a carbon tax might be equitable. What to do about commuters....?


Rainsong.. yeesh!
I have a scrap piece of sliding glass door and some spare construction OSB that is tossing 110d F. air into my house every sunny day. A bunch more of these, more insulation and some very simple geothermal, and I can watch that Oil truck just drive on by.

Make the fuels cost too much, and people will start heating with SMART systems, finally!


US navy reinforces spying operation in South China Sea

Underlying the tensions between the US and China is a shifting relationship of forces. The global recession has only underscored the declining economic power of the US and its dependence on European and Asian creditors. Washington is acutely aware of China's rapid economic rise, which threatens to undermine American economic and strategic interests in Asia and internationally.

The flare-up of tensions in the South China Sea is not accidental. As the world's largest cheap labour platform, China has been forced to scour the globe for raw materials and energy. The bulk of its oil and gas supplies from the Middle East pass through the Malacca Strait and then through the South China Sea to Chinese ports. China has been expanding its navy and establishing a string of bases across the Indian Ocean to protect these crucial sea routes.

China's claims in the South China Sea, including over the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands, have brought it into conflict with its South East Asian neighbours, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. The quarrels remain unresolved and a continuing source of tension. On March 5, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi landed on a disputed reef known as Layang Layang and claimed sovereignty. Last week, the Philippines passed a law proclaiming its rights over islands in the Spratly group.

China immediately described the new law as "illegal and invalid" and dispatched a vessel to patrol China's exclusive economic zone and "strengthen fisheries administration" in the South China Sea. According to the Beijing News, the Yuzheng 311, a converted naval rescue vessel, arrived in the area on Sunday.

Editor's Note: I cut down the length of the quote. This is copyrighted material. - Gail

Those who want organic farming serve us after peak oil would do well to heed what could be the wisest statement in the organics literature (probably to avoid lawsuits):

"USDA makes no claims that organically
produced food is safer or more nutritious
than conventionally produced food.”

That hasn’t stopped “organic” hucksters from using those criteria—“safer” and “more nutritious”—as their primary sales pitch.

And it certainly hasn’t stopped consumers from believing it.

A researcher, Mmedo Mederic Duffort of the UK, writes:

There are many explanations as to why organic products are so marketable. Russell et al (2005: 14) argue that one reason for its success is its “ability to represent different things for different people”.

What stands out of this research is that the expected health benefit – which account for three quarters of the respondents’ main motivation behind organic food consumption – is not a proven fact.

From “Minimising the impact? The meanings of organic food,” Mmedo Médéric Duffort.

Duffort’s research consists of a series of very revealing interviews with consumers of “organic” foods.

“I used to think that there wasn’t any difference at all until I like tasted a courgette [zucchini] round at my friend’s house and I was like, ‘Wow this is the most amazing courgette. It tastes like the kind of courgettes that I used to have when I was a child and my dad was growing them.’ And I was like, ‘Why does it taste so amazing?’ And she said ‘Oh it’s organic.’ And then I thought maybe, maybe there is a taste difference.“ (Clara, 13/07/06)

Motivations are very often articulated along the dual lines of organic food being good and conventional food being bad.

“What it means is that it’s good, I think I bring… I help to bring something good to the world by eating organic and I would like everyone to do it, basically.

Interviewer: okay. How do you react to people who don’t eat any organic meat, or any organic food for that matter?

Respondent: I think it’s careless. I think it’s a sign of… it’s a lack of involvement, not to bother about it and I think it’s bad for these people that they don’t care about their health or anything. I think it’s a vicious cycle. Laziness.” (Tina, 18/07/06)

“I suppose I started to buy organic dairy products, cause my daughter… she had an ear infection… quite often and it’s not very good to eat milk or dairy products when you have that… but, I cant… I don’t want to stop it completely but… organic is… it’s better… like less processed… so… yeah… and also it tastes nice.” (Eleanor, 4/07/06)

Holly’s confusion and fears account for a great deal of anxiety:

“There’s so many kind of dodgy things that you get in non-organic stuff that, lots of hidden stuff that you don’t know about that can affect your health you know. All these kinds of different illnesses that are around these days and you just don’t know where they come from and they all have this kind of build up of toxins in your body.” (Holly, 5/07/06)

She goes further and explains how she sees organic food as the perfect antidote to this anxiety:

“In fact I won’t buy non-organic ones because I’d feel really uncomfortable about giving X [her son] a non-organic apple ‘cause I just imagine it being full of loads of sprays and pesticides and things that will then go into his body and what’s that going to do? So if I have something that’s organic then I can relax and feel healthy.” (Holly, 5/07/06)

[T]he fears are just as assumed as the antidote. In fact assumptions are present at all levels and they only ensure that limited knowledge is not necessarily preventing decisions.

Maybe it's time to "sell" organics as something other than a panacea for irrational fears.

“World resource limits” is a hell of a lot more compelling (and scientific) than unproven “health benefits.”

For the most part, I don't buy "organic" (and I'm not hyper-fastidious about it) so much because of any benefits for my health; rather, it is a matter of social responsibility, because of the benefits for the health of the earth. I just believe that, by-and-large, "organic" produce is going to be produced in a manner which is at least a little better for the soil and environment and ecosystem than is industrial agriculture. I am under no illusions, what presently passes for "organic" is probably not perfect and could be subjected to considerable criticism. But I do believe that it is a step in the right direction, and a step that I wish to encourage with my food dollars when I can afford to do so.

it is a matter of social responsibility, because of the benefits for the health of the earth. I just believe that, by-and-large, "organic" produce is going to be produced in a manner which is at least a little better for the soil and environment and ecosystem than is industrial agriculture.

Ditto. This is the whole point--to refocus the definition of "organic" around such areas as you mention and away from the huge superstitious wing of the movement that currently holds sway.

I'm with you on this, to an extent (convenience often steers me the other way). I used to try harder to buy organics as they tended to be more locally grown and the varieties seemed selected for flavor rather than for being picked green and transported by truckloads.

But recently it seems that organic brands have gone mainstream, and the organics that you can buy at Wal-mart seem little different to my palate than the non-organic variants. Or maybe my palate is getting less discriminating with age?

I think once you have an organic market scaled to millions of consumers, it turns back into an industrial farm, and you lose a lot of what makes the food better even if you can still pretend it's organic.

Here's to hoping for more small growers and farmer's markets, where the sale incentive is color and flavor.

Wasn't this thread in a DB just a day or two ago?

Not exactly. Each piece represents a different line of research I'm doing for a paper tentatively titled: "Wheat from the Chaff: Why Organics Must Redefine Itself."

By quoting excerpts from various sources, I'm able to get responses and hone my argument.

What does this have to do with peak oil?

Everything. Resource limitations will be the cornerstone for my argument for preserving "organic" methods.

yes. and the day before. he seems to be posting this on every new drumbeat.

Personally, I understand the issues in "organic", buy it when it makes logical sense, and refuse to use pesticides or very much commercial fertilizer in my yard and gardens (mostly annual flowers and natural local greenery, some grapes and raspberries). But I have a REAL problem with the religious zealot/ no discernable scientific training/ relies absolutely on populist "scientific" researchers types for a VERY broad set of reasons, mostly to do with attempts to control people for unstated, therefore suspicious, reasons.

Maybe it's time to "sell" organics as something other than a panacea for irrational fears.

Mike - Maybe it's time for you to find a more appropriate forum on which to post your views/opinions.


Keep all comments on non-Drumbeat stories on-topic. If you have comment that is not related to a particular story, please post it the current Drumbeat story.



You just keep saying that mantra you posted and soon you'll be joining Hothgar , Oil CEO and others in TOD heaven.

Look, if you are so hot on this issue then you have two choices: 1) Prepare a key post and submit it - and expect to defend it or 2) Start your own blog as Leanan often suggests. But stop wasting bandwidth.


You might note that the USDA hasn't said the converse either -- the statement is basically a non-statement, as they make no claims that non-organic food is as good or better, either. Not that it matters, since the USDA is the architect of all that is bad and good with the current system, and they're hopelessly intertwined with existing big-ag companies.

I don't necessarily believe GMO crops are unhealthy, but I do suspect that Round-up and pesticide residue might well be. I know that most veggies today lack flavor and texture, and that apples I pick have bug marks but taste better than those I find in the store, and tomatoes I grow in the summer are dense and flavorful instead of watery and pithy like those I find in the store in January.

I know that most veggies today lack flavor and texture, and that apples I pick have bug marks but taste better than those I find in the store, and tomatoes I grow in the summer are dense and flavorful instead of watery and pithy like those I find in the store in January.

There are many complexities to the issue.

I know the "organic" produce I grow and sometimes buy does taste better than store-bought, but I wonder how much has to do with variety, freshness, and season.

Marketers will do anything to sell their product.

There is no better critique of the contemporary "organic" food industry than that you'll find in Polian's "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

Would lead to a much better discussion than your straw man.

Since this is research for a paper, I'd be interested in hearing what the "straw man" as it's been mentioned several times in passing.

I'm citing actual statements from mainstream organics sites at times that are beyond the pale of science. I don't see any straw men here.

My whole point is to redefine it around the issue of depletion.


- first, if you're going to introduce something for the purpose of doing research for a paper, I'd encourage you to label it as such right up top.

- second, if this is an academic paper for a class you are taking, (and I'm speaking as a former faculty member) I'd strongly encourage you to do build the arguments yourself rather than depending on others to do it for you.

- third, you pull statements off of other sites and post them here as if folks here at presented it as their argument - there is your straw man. I don't come here from some abiotic oil site and write a top level post that says, in essence "abiotic oil is a farce and you shouldn't relying on it to solve our oil concerns."

- fourth, and this is really just a matter of style. If you are soliciting people's input on whether or not an argument makes sense or is believed by those who support the movement, you'd probably get a better response if you didn't come in with antagonistic opening lines like "Those who want organic farming [to] serve us after peak oil would do well to heed what could be the wisest statement in the organics literature (probably to avoid lawsuits)..."

third, you pull statements off of other sites and post them here as if folks here at presented it as their argument - there is your straw man.

Could you restate that? Something is garbled in the sentence.

third, you pull statements off of other sites and post them here as if folks here had presented it as their argument - there is your straw man.

- my apologies. That's what I get for posting before proofing.

The idea that food covered with chemicals vs. food not covered with chemicals is equally healthy is foolish on its face. Your point, that people are too stupid to tell the difference between hype and substance is obvious, but no reason to run from the truth.

The way to get people to be smarter is to teach them to deal with the truth, not to avoid the truth to work around their stupidity.


The idea that food covered with chemicals vs. food not covered with chemicals is equally healthy is foolish on its face.

Which "chemicals" would these be? What concentrations?

What food is "not covered in chemicals"?

Would these chemical be the waxes, sugars, fungi and natural molds found on untreated apples?

Would these chemicals be the residuals of industrial compounds that have long broken down in air and sunlight and which have been lab-tested as safe for consumption?

Would these chemicals be the "natural" poisons found in organic pesticides such as Pyganic and Ditech?

Once again--these blanket statements are nonsense. Why do people keep making them?


You've got nothing to say that I consider worth listening to. You are strongly biased. No doubt with reason, but not a good one. Your arguments don't pass the sniff test.

Comparing mold to factory-created chems?

Your comments are a joke.

I have already told him to stop. No more complaining about this.

Saw your comment further down after I posted.


ccpo, I agree, and I know we should avoid those kinds of posts. And I know never feed a troll. But I do begin to wonder some times, the gardening I do, I strive to keep clean. but it gets harder and harder. The horse poop I get down the road I question more and more, what kind of drugs are they feeding them, chicken poop I know is clean because they are free range here, a really neglected area.

One of my big deals is composting seaweed, I'm right on the shore and back a bit we found seaweed to contain tons of trace elements. I'm to the point where I start to question what's in it now.

Back in the 80's I could feel a lot safer, now I don't. In the days of Ruth Stout and Rodale it was easier to talk about organic. Heck the river Thames now contains huge amounts of anti-psychotics and viagra.

Not to be confrontational, but we have shit in our own nest, for so long that we can't get away from it. I'm not sure anything can be organic anymore. The rain that falls up here in Maine is acid, and it comes from China's coal burning.

Watching trees turn brown.

Don in Maine

Not to be confrontational,

Not seen that way.

but we have shit in our own nest, for so long that we can't get away from it.

Yes. The more bio-filters you put in your way - the better the output should be for you. So why not consider some form of mondo-sized worm bin and manage it to 'harvest off' the worm mass off your property so the toxins leave with the worms. Piles of seaweed, heavy in Nitrogen, should be filterable via black soldier fly larva, then feed the larva to chicken/turkey (so the birds act as another biofilter) Same with picking plants that absorb heavy metal and move that off the property. Yes, you are exporting the toxins to someone else - just like was done to you - so that makes you no better than others. But, if you were to make a pile of contaminated material, then you'd have to pay for the remediation.

The rain that falls up here in Maine is acid, and it comes from China's coal burning.

My understanding of the hydrodynamic cycle is most of that should be 'flushed' by the rockies. Perhaps the volume is that much higher.

Word in the 'chemtrails' is the German government admitted to doing this.
No idea if true - but you'll make about the same progress of blaming China as blaming chemtrails.

I have read "The Humanure Handbook". While I have not followed up by reading any of the references, the author does make some good arguements for the ability of compost to biosequester toxic elements.

I would reccommend this book to anyone - it is a good read.

Regards, Al

Compost would 'fix' some toxins into a less bio-aviable form and other toxins could be broken down and removed.

Actually, a lot of (neuro-toxin) pesticides used today were developed as nerve agents during WWII. If you've ever seen an amateur gardener (accidentally... or carelessly) self-dose on pesticides you'll note that the gardener's nose will drip mucus like crazy. Nerve agents - in high enough doses - kill by having the victim choke on their own mucus.

If a low dose, the body compensates by having the liver breakdown the chemical, but at a cost of some liver damage... which hopefully heals over time. (The liver - if not overstressed - will regenerate fully... if overstressed, may lead to hepatitis and cirrosis.)

If you read the literature, a lot of safety tests for agricultural chemicals are left up to the manufacturer. I wouldn't even dare suggest conflict of interest here.

Actually, a lot of (neuro-toxin) pesticides used today were developed as nerve agents during WWII. If you've ever seen an amateur gardener (accidentally... or carelessly) self-dose on pesticides you'll note that the gardener's nose will drip mucus like crazy. Nerve agents - in high enough doses - kill by having the victim choke on their own mucus.

If a low dose, the body compensates by having the liver breakdown the chemical, but at a cost of some liver damage... which hopefully heals over time. (The liver - if not overstressed - will regenerate fully... if overstressed, may lead to hepatitis and cirrosis.)

If you read the literature, a lot of safety tests for agricultural chemicals are left up to the manufacturer. I wouldn't even dare suggest conflict of interest here.

Actually, a lot of (neuro-toxin) pesticides used today were developed as nerve agents during WWII. If you've ever seen an amateur gardener (accidentally... or carelessly) self-dose on pesticides you'll note that the gardener's nose will drip mucus like crazy. Nerve agents - in high enough doses - kill by having the victim choke on their own mucus.

If a low dose, the body compensates by having the liver breakdown the chemical, but at a cost of some liver damage... which hopefully heals over time. (The liver - if not overstressed - will regenerate fully... if overstressed, may lead to hepatitis and cirrosis.)

If you read the literature, a lot of safety tests for agricultural chemicals are left up to the manufacturer. I wouldn't even dare suggest conflict of interest here.

While I agree that recognizing resource limits is in some ways a better case, I think that simply because it is not proven that fewer pesticides, say, in my breast milk for an infant are better than more pesticides does not mean I should experiment with my infant. That is, social responsibility is valuable - but in this case, I don't think we need to wait for concrete evidence (which, afterall, may in the end take several generations to produce) that chemicals that concentrate in breast milk and in small children's bodies disproportionally are not good for them. The presumption should work the other way.

Sharon Astyk

Then the argument should be presented that way instead of as "no artificial chemicals," period.

Also: it's a non-argument:

Approved organic pesticides are relatively less effective and must be applied at high levels (e.g. copper salts, sulfur) or must be applied frequently (e.g. pyrethrin). Other toxic pesticides that are approved for use by organic producers include ryania, and Sabadilla.


Until recently, nobody bothered to look at natural chemicals (such as organic pesticides), because it was assumed that they posed little risk. But when the studies were done, the results were somewhat shocking: you find that about half of the natural chemicals studied are carcinogenic as well.


Do you want these "concentrated in your breast milk"? What long term, concrete testing of these "organic" compounds has been done?

There is a real double-standard at work that says, "but 'organic' chemicals breakdown in air and sunlight." And yet, so do industrial ones.

The "experimenting with my infant" comment is a bit much, begging your pardon. The wives and daughters of commercial farmers have infants, too.

You're damned arrogant to be telling people what they should and shouldn't be posting. You are very lucky Leanan is on vacation or she'd have chewed your sorry butt up and spit it out by now.

The response you got from Sharon was exceedingly polite considering what an ass you are, yet you saw fit to post your last two sentences. Your comments were both nonsensical and pejorative. Sharon doesn't care about wives and children of farmers? You need to get off your high horse, and damned fast.

Your false dichotomy is a joke: "organic" chem vs. inorganic chem. Bull. NO chem. It's been proven unecessary for decades, at least.

Your refrain is, "Prove it! Prove it! Prove it!" It HAS been proven that chemicals move up the food chain and concentrate. No need to reinvent the wheel for you.

I am here to check out this board and report to a 'board rating organization' that discusses the merit of various sites, and then rates them for usefullness. I was told by people with ties to the oil industry that this board had lots of professionals in various fields. So far I have found a bunch of squabbling, lots of name calling, lots of claims without sufficient links, etc. This sort of non sense will hurt the site and it's revenue stream from advertisers.

I will check this board again tomorrow to see if the discourse has improved and report what I have found.

reeves: it used to be a lot better, the last few days it has degenerated into what you are seeing now. I hope it is a temporary abberation. At this point I am simply skipping over large sections of the comments (probably 2/3rds or so by volume).

Wow...you sound "powerful"!! Read many blogs in your life? You do realize that the TOD Drumbeats are meant for fairly freeform idea exchange, whereas the specific topic posts are for more "professional" discussions? Why do you feel like you have to post anything to evaluate TOD. Your claim seems odd that you are doing what you say you are doing.

My guess is Reeves is 13 years old-his parents have blocked the porn sites so the role playing is relatively exciting amusement for the kid.

Mike, I'm familiar with the risks of organic pesticides, which is one of the reasons I don't use them, and try to source my food from people who are using no pesticides, organic or synthesized. So this is sort of irrelevant. I certainly never assumed that because something was organic it was non-toxic - no one who has every grown a poisonous plant would do that. This would be a straw-man argument.

Which is why I try to keep all poisons of all kinds off my food, especially since many of these concentrate in fatty tissues, and breastfeeding infants effectively stand higher on the food chain than we do, since they rely on us for their primary nutrition.

And yes, conventional farmers have infants too - which is one of the reason to minimize reliance on pesticides and herbicides by good agricultural practice, and enable farmers to get "off" both organic and synthetic pestidices and herbicides. There are several studies showing a higher risk of childhood caner in the children of men who apply pesticides, for example. Not only that, non-farmers, and organic farmers in rural areas where pesticide applications are common are also subject to the same risks, because while you can control your exposure through food, it is more difficult to limit contact with contaminated water, pesticide concentrated in animal fats and airborne sprying. Here's just one study showing links to childhood cancers due to agricultural contamination: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/573519.



Yes, the precautionary principle also applies (IMHO) to genetically modified crops, especially those modified by direct insertion of genes (as opposed to slow laborious breeding).

It seems to me that if there is one thing we should have learned from the fiasco we have created on Earth, is that we need to stop believing that most things are safe until proven otherwise.

Also, we need to fully grock just how dangerous it has been that we view most phenomena in nature through the lens of reductionist research. Reductionism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism) causes us to miss at least half the picture, with the result that we are repeatedly sidelined by predictable unintended consequences. I try to teach my kids about this, because they see most of what happens as "accidents", and I try to help them see that some events are "accidents waiting to happen".

This topic has been brought up enough. You can tell by the comments that people don't want to hear about the issue on a regular basis. When you have something totally new, it will be OK to bring it up.

Message acknowledged.

I wonder have there ever been any 'blind' tests of organic foods -- for example, group of blindfolded test participants taste slices of 'Carrot O' (organic) or 'Carrot C ' (conventional), saying 'yummee' about the one they prefer. No visual cues, no bias, just taste buds.

Shouldn't be too difficult to organise, perhaps I'll try it out with my family some day ...

Would definitely be interesting. But might be a bit harder to do than it would seem initially. Taste can be dramatically different between varieties - so you would need to have the same variety grown in both manners. Taste is also impacted by soil makeup, so you'd have to grow the same variety in essentially the same soil. It'd be real tough, if not impossible, to do this with store bought. So I suspect the only way to do this would be out of a home garden.

I wonder have there ever been any 'blind' tests of organic foods

http://journeytoforever.org/garden_organic.html Read the section on BRIX and do a bit of digging into why BRIX is used as a measurement.


Thanks for the link, but I couldn't find any reference there to scientific testing.

Take this:

We had lunch at the HDRA's restaurant, supplied with fresh food from the organic demonstration gardens, and that's when it hit him: he couldn't believe the flavour.

"I haven't tasted food like this since I was a child," he said. "I thought it was because I'd lost my sense of taste as I got older."

Visitors say similar things when they eat food from our garden. Flavour is a good measure of overall quality -- it's a subjective measure, but it's backed by evidence

Backed by evidence? Sorry, but that sounds more like advertising puff ('best little pizzeria in town') than the results of a scientific investigation. Anecdote. She said, he said...

I'm not saying that organic food DOESN'T taste better than conventional food. All I want is proof.

Let's do it again:

Take a random sample of 100 people. Take a set of comparable fresh food products -- carrots, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, what have you. Dice and slice and distribute organic and non-organic variants. Testees are not told which is which and have to eat the food in the dark.

What percentage of the testees say 'yummee' after trying out the organic variant?
What percentage say 'yummee' after trying the non-organic variant?

I've spelt it out again.

My hunch: organic farmers probably have commissioned excperiments of this kind, but they have kept mum about the results, which may not have come out in their favour (there's the risk of poisoning with fecal residue, for example).

One speicfic bias in looking at organic vs gmo foods lies in the freshness of the samples. Since I grow fresh leaf lettuce in my garden and grace it with fresh tomatoes, I think it is better. AND I am not going to try the other option. I like what I am doing, and I am not trying to feed the world, so i do not care what anyone else thinks. I hope that my small garden is not causing horrendous ecological calamities across the world, but am neither buying or marketing from it under licenses, and use heritage varities from reputable companies to be sure.

Taste is very subjective. There is no reason why a person raised eating the output of industrial agriculture wouldn't prefer that to organically grown food. Some folks I know do not like "home grown" tomatoes - they say the taste is too intense.

An observation,

The difference between fresh and stale vegetables is so great that organic and nonorganic just don't count.
Fresh corn and carrots are sweet. Sweet! Not at all like the same variety of carrots or corn from the same garden row after being left in the fridge or on the counter overnight.

Thanks for the link, but I couldn't find any reference there to scientific testing.

Sorry I missed this yesterday. BRIX - the idea of testing the sugar levels. Sugar is the basis of plants, and the proxy is more sugar -> more plant health.

Don't know why you and mikeB are fixated on the 'taste' issue when given a measurable, testable method.

(I can understand how BRIX might be low for long-picked veggies - sugar gets depleted)

China buys & lends tens of billions to get oil & mineral access


Perhaps $100 billion this year.


So China does one year of $100 billion foreign investment. US has done decades of $156 billion foreign investment. Are you saying you're upset because US doesn't like free market competition?

Of course the USA does not like competition (not necessarily free market) especially from state owned or controlled firms from a nominally Communist state.

US foreign investment tends to focus on consumer goods (Kentucky Fried Chicken in China) and foreign factories. One focus of the story is that China is focusing on natural resources.


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Don't forget their $$88 billion for RRs vs $8 billion here in the US for our RRs.

I was hoping you & Ed T. would now be so swamped with USA consulting requests that you would now be very hard-pressed to find the spare time to post anything here on TOD, except a progress update every now and then. :(

Thanks Alan
And that's $100 billion real dollars not being flung from a Sikorsky or thrown down an AIG rathole.

Seriously 'concern' about the Chinese economy have been overblown IMHO. Better we worry about how we're going to function. Using 1/10th of the oil per person and 39% by unit of GDP (to the US) China is way better positioned to weather the spare capital/ net energy avaliable game than most.


Even more so given how proactive they have become in opening up markets and securing reserves.
Here's to more reality based concern.

As totoneila alluded to, China is also investing in building 20,000+ km of new rail lines, electrifying another 20,000+ km (some new, some old), building standard gauge rail lines to the EU, and making Shanghai the #1 subway city in the world (Beijing MIGHT end up as #2 by some metrics) as well as Urban Rail elsewhere.

In a pinch they can revert back to more bicycles. In other words, they are making steps towards a Non-Oil Transportation system.

Best Hopes for Chinese Rail,


Alan, do you have some figures handy on what it costs these days to build a new Tram or Light Rail systems? On a whim, I'm mapped out a small Tram network, but I'm unsure of the costs. It seems that in Melbourne, costs might be in the order of AU$10m/km.

The French plan to build 1,500 km of new tram lines for 22 billion euros. Efficiencies from volume build apply.

What country ?


Australia. Specificaly, Queensland. I've used Google Earth to plot out well over a dozen routes, and have settled on five as 'priorities' that should be built first, if any get built. But at Au$10mil/km, plus stations (not such an issue for Trams, since the stations can be the road surface), all but one are out of the local Councils budget range. We'd have to go to the State or Federal Govt and beg for the money.

Route 1: 11km. Railway feeder.
Route 2: 31km. Links main town (immediate populatio 17,500, total Shire 175,000) with retiree community/vacation spot
Route 3: 29km. Links two largeish towns (second town has pop of 51,000 in 38sqkm).
Route 4: 35km. Links two more largish towns (third town immiediate pop 9,000, Shire pop 152,000).
Route 5: 12km. Links large town and another semi-isolated (in PT terms) population centre.

Basically built in that order. The ROW would follow existing roads, except for R1, which uses a former QR branch line. Two of the towns (1 and 3) have a large enough catchment to justify half-hourly CityTrain services, so justifying Trams/Light Rail should not be too much of a stretch, especially given the constant traffic flow along the plotted routes.

I don't know about light rail, but heavy rail cost about US $50-100 million per mile in urban areas, based on MARTA (Atlanta, GA). Urban rail has to go over or under roads.

I believe that includes rail stations. I'm not sure if it includes trains.

I can cut the cost in half, easy...

Lean into the curve...

I guess the wheels have a flange on both sides.

US cost & time #s are not generally applicable since we deliberately increase costs by our "Ration by Queue" gov't funding. A decade of waiting and studies is unfortunately typical.


China is buying 100 locally built high speed trains.


-- China's Ministry of Railways signed a deal with state-owned vehicle producer CNR Corporation Ltd. on Monday to purchase 100 high-speed CRH trains for 39.2 billion yuan (about 5.74 billion U.S. dollars).

CRH, an abbreviation for China Railway High-speed, refers to trains with speeds above 200 km per hour. With a designed speed of 350km/h, the new CRH trains will travel between Beijing and Shanghai in 2011, when the construction of the 1318-km, high-speed railway between the capital city and the country's financial hub is expected to complete.

Zhang said China would see "large purchases" of CRH trains in the coming years upon the completion of more passenger railway lines across the country.

The MOR plans to spend 500 billion yuan to purchase trains over the next four years.


Good link Alan. But they lay the dramatics on a little heavy IMO. You probably already know that this is not a new plan for China. Starting at least 15 years ago they've been pumping in money to many overseas projects. The first I recall was a winning bid in the mid 90's in excess of $200 million for a Venezuelan filed producing less then 200 bopd. A similar field had been redeveloped by a US operator to the tune of 40,000 bopd. A couple of years ago I believe they became the biggest foreign owner of Angolan production.

But I'm sure the pace has jumped quit a bit recently given they are sitting on trillions of export dollars (which have also jumped in value) and large sections of the global oil patch desperate for capital.



It's Official: Global Solar Exploded in 2008!

Solarbuzz reports a more than doubling in solar capacity installation with Spain taking the lead.

See some details at:



Yesterday I posted a rather confusing wind link. I tried to get some further explanation as to what was being discussed from Austin Power's website, but couldn't find anything useful (since the statement was made by a representative of Austin Power). Austin Power is just a division of the City of Austin government!

The quote was from a discussion about wind electricity now costing more than that from fossil fuel in Austin. The quote said:

Altogether, transmission costs are responsible for one-third of the wind energy price, which recently reached 8 cents per kilowatt-hour in the Austin program, as opposed to 3.65 cents for fossil-fuel-based electricity.

Jerome a Paris is more of a wind expert than I am. This is his interpretation of what is happening (from an e-mail):

The article was poorly phrased: it's the overall cost that's 8c/kWh for wind (a more or less correct number, if on the high side) and 3.6c/kWh (a more or less correct number for an amortized coal plant at lowish coal prices and no accounting for all the damagr wrought). The price for gas fired or oil-fired fossil fuel plants is rather higher, and it is these that determine marginal prices.

Again, even in places like Texas, tansmission costs are not that high (typically 0.5c/kWh - and again, building the transmission line to the gris is ALWAYS part of the capital cost of a wind farm, and we pay for it. Reinforcing the grid is another issue which is only partly wind-related: it's a bit too easy to blame wind for investments that need to be done because of decades of benign neglect).

What's happening here also is that Wash Times article conflates completely different things: the "cost" of transmission, and how much of an increase on the special wind tariff is slapped onto customers under the pretxet of transmission costs.

If you read the article carefully, they make a reference to the fact that Austin consumers can choose to switch to "green" power by electing to pay a fixed price (which is set at a higher level than the normal retial price). But those that did that a couple years go are now paying less than the other customers, because retail prices increased, but not the wind-based green tariff. Rather than closing out their green tariff, the utility is now setting its price level higher (for new customers) by arguing that wind costs are higher because of transmission costs.

Comparing that to wholesale prices is then totally dishonest.

Again, it matters to distinguish between actual costs incurred, costs included in wholesale prices, and amounts charged to customers. Even if the underlying item is apparently the same, these can be rather different...


One reasonable interpretation is that Austin Power wants green energy to be at a premium for new customers, so they added transmission costs to the green power.

The power lines to the STNP nuke and Fayette coal plants are now about 30 years old and pretty well paid for (and built with uninflated $). All of the natural gas plants, new and old, are located within Travis County, making transmission a minor cost.

ERCOT has a new program to build several billion ($4 ?) of new transmission to both reinforce the existing grid and enable large new wind farms to come on-line (see Pickens). The Chairman of ERCOT spoke after me at SMU and said that they would apply the "postage stamp" pricing model to these enhancements. Everyone pays the same price for transmission enhancements (just as paying a local bill costs as much as a letter to Hawaii).

Austin, which self regulates utility charges, may have deviated from that.


Alan -

I though Austin Power was 'The Spy that Shagged Me.'

I'm confused. (????)

Being an electric utility is his day job/cover story.

Best Hopes for Sarconal,


Maybe it's also that windfarms may be located further from the average customer? Longer lines equal higher transmission costs?

Longer lines equal higher transmission costs?

Yes, but not significantly. Most of the loss that occurs is fixed at the ends.

Someone sent an e-mail to The Oil Drum. Does anyone have an answer to this question:

I am a member of the drum readers and I am currently looking for an article published roughly in the last half year on theoildrum but cannot locate it via the search.

It was an article featuring the future layout of cities/village in the context of the land necessary to supply with agricultural products. The conclusion was that settings with a village size of 400 to 500 people are the optimum with regard to lowest transport requirements etc.

Could you help me to locate this article by sending me a link?

Thanks in advance for your help. I enjoy theoildrum very much.

Wouldn't that be Jeff Vail's rhizome series?

I think you are right. Thanks!


Also possible the reader was looking for The Problem of Growth.

Just to clarify: I don't think we can fix the number at 400-500, as the optimum is probably dependent on a variety of local factors. Also, my conception of rhizome is more based on a structure that would eliminate hierarchy--and therefore the structural prerequisite for growth--rather than to minimize transportation requirements. I think it's also a fairly good way to reduce the energy needed for transportation, but reducing transportation requirements without addressing growth just buys time.

Also worth pointing out that there are very persuasive opposing viewpoints to mine. Alan Drake (AlanfromBigEasy) and many others advocate urbanization and centralization (to some extent), as opposed to a re-ruralization and decentralization, as that allows for far lower personal energy consumption as individuals drive about less, and allows for economies of scale and place when it comes to agricultural and industrial production. I think his argument has many good points as well.

In my opinion, which point of view is "right" is dependent on how the future takes shape: I think that, unless we address the excess of hierarchy in our civilizational structure, we won't be able to escape the cycle of perpetual growth, and any urbanization is ultimately unsustainable. While I think that there will always be some urban centers, the best way to address growth--the root cause of our problems--is through radical decentralization. I also think that technology won't be able to keep up with the increasing problems we face in energy, social order, environment, etc. If I'm wrong on these points, then Alan's view is likely correct...

any urbanization is ultimately unsustainable.

People need to learn to recognize and accept the deal-breakers. I think you've identified one here.


Jeff et al:

In just casual observation of several parts of the country I have found the remains of small towns every 20-30 miles or less all over farm country. 10 to 15 miles is about as far as one would go with a horse drawn wagon in a day on a dirt road. Typical farms of the times were 320 acres or less. And that 320 required hired help or lots of boy children. A farm community would have a couple hundred people in the town and purhaps a couple thousand in the 300 or so associated farms. Schools and churches (often the same building) were much closer and yes, it was over two miles up hill both ways. Of course there were great exceptions in the Northeast and here in Nevada as the extremes. Given that this worked without much electricity and/or fuels, it is probably a workable model for one possible future. We really don't know where all of these various black swans will lead us.

I suspect, here in the High Desert, one winter without electricity will be a leave or die situation for most. With California and milder weather a single tank of gas away, all of the unprepared will probably go west and die over there.

Yep, I are one.

Thanks for the kind and reasonable words. I will try to frame an appropriate response, but that will take a bit of time.

Check back tomorrow,

Best Hopes for Reasoned Discussion,


I haven't seen this (link) before:

"A reduction in electricity consumption will be essential over the coming decade as a large number of power stations are being withdrawn from service, and as a result there is a gap looming between supply and demand," Graham Crocker was told. "More efficient lighting (which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of domestic electricity consumption) will go some way to alleviating these demand pressures." The answer came from Alex Stuart, assistant manager of services of development at the quango.

"This is the first time anybody has acknowledged that new power capacity will not be delivered on time to replace existing capacity," Peter Lilley MP told us.


This is a British story. With so much of their electricity from natural gas, and declining supplies, reduced electricity availability is certain. The title of the story is Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power.

Sorry, I should have put '<'British'>' tags on ;-)

After reading it again, its also a slam article against a "Green" NGO/GO.
The author regularly denies GCC in articles.

According to the Scottish Nationalists, it should have <'English'> tags :-P

Best Hopes/Fears (??) for "It's Scotland's Gas"


"Quango" = "Quasi-autonomous Non-Governmental Organization"

(For those who have never seen "Yes, Minister")


Via comments at TAE: http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2009/03/march-16-2009-you-spin-me-...

The direct link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/recession/4986287/IMF-p...

IMF poised to print billions of dollars in 'global quantitative easing'
The International Monetary Fund is poised to embark on what analysts have described as "global quantitative easing" by printing billions of dollars worth of a global "super-currency" in an unprecedented new effort to address the economic crisis.

Anyone else just a little freaked by this? A global currency? The IMF to the rescue... of the whole freakin' world?

If that's not a huge hint to the world at large that things are very much out of control, what is?


Im not worried-I think everything will be fine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrpRocaEfQE

For other readers that do not want to waste time finding out what the youTube video is about:

The Obama Deception - an Alex Jones Documentary
12 videos, average length 10 minutes each. Large parts are extremely contentious. The production is pretty good, on a par with a typical documentary by Michael Moore.

Anyone else just a little freaked by this? A global currency?

And this on the same day that BBC talks about the connection between the story of the Wizard of OZ and the Gold Standard?


And Littlefield's theory has been hotly debated. He believed the characters could represent the personalities and themes of the late 1800s,with Dorothy embodying the everyman American spirit.

US political historian Quentin Taylor, who supports this interpretation, says: "There are too many instances of parallels with the political events of the time.

"The Tin Woodman represents the industrial worker, the Scarecrow is the farmer and the Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Bryan."

Bryan was a Democratic presidential candidate who supported the silver cause. But he failed to win votes from eastern workers and lost the 1896 election. In the same way, the Lion's claws are nearly blunted by the Woodman's metallic shell.

The Wicked Witch of the West is associated with a variety of controversial personalities, chief among them the industrialist Mark Hanna, campaign manager to President William McKinley.

In this scenario, the yellow brick road symbolises the gold standard, the Emerald City becomes Washington DC and the Great Wizard characterises the president - and he is exposed as being less than truthful.

In a later book Dorothy's aunt and uncle get their farm repossessed by the bank and are sent to the Emerald City, where there is no money, and people get what they need for free.

This was too much for the US education authorities in the 1950's and the Oz books were withdrawn from school libraries.

I had hoped that Frank Baum's writings would be full of deep meaning, but it seems he concentrated on churning out lightweight stuff for variety theatres, well studded with dancing girls.


This was too much for the US education authorities in the 1950's and the Oz books were withdrawn from school libraries.

Who would 'ave thunk it? Oz not merely a progressive utopia... but a downright nefarious leftist communist ploy to undermine the American way of life.

I would have spot that myself, but being a scarecrow... 'If only I had a brain'... :-)

Is this referring to Special Drawing Rights perhaps? Those are not new, they have been around for decades.

Yes. But the same can be said of mortgages, banks, the stock market, etc.

Your point? My point is the scale. And, of course, knowing a little of the rapacious history of the IMF.


I agree. This does sound crazy. I suppose if things are desperate enough, they will try almost anything. With peak oil behind the current crash, it is hard to see anything really working, though.

The Truth About Fuel from The Truth About Cars (TTAC)

First in the series: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-fuel-pt-1-objects-in-th...
Second in the series: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-fuel-pt-2-meths/

If you don't know TTAC, it's a leading automotive blog that targets pistonheads who are sick of the sycophantic write-ups in main-stream car magazines.

Interesting that such a performance/enthusiast-oriented site is taking on the fuel issue.

I read The Truth About Cars. Actually enjoy their editorials, namely their blasting of Ethanol and the complete failure the domestic auto industry is. That said, they are piston heads that don't pay much attention to MPG's or C02 emissions. I also read blogs about commerical aviation. Time to get my fill before both at things that aren't there anymore.

In Australia 'Motor' magazine is 'burn it all, yeah!, while 'Wheels' has been printing a long-running column about fuel issues, including Peak Oil.

I.R.S. Plans a Deduction for Madoff Victims

The commissioner, Douglas H. Shulman, told lawmakers that the agency was offering guidelines for taxpayers who are victims of losses from Ponzi schemes like Mr. Madoff’s.


So duzzat mean I can get my FICA contributions back?

No. But it does mean that whereas poor victims of fraud are generally told to suck it up, the rich victims of fraud get special handling.

Do I hear an echo?


It probably is little different from declaring loses due to theft. So these folks have lost a great deal, and probably have little to no taxable income.

This is a link to an amazing zoom photo of Obam's first speech that is circulating around the internet.

You can see Cheney in a wheel chair next to G. W. Bush. Clarence Thomas looks to be asleep. Lots of interesting details.

There is something fishy about that photo.
Look at the guy just above to the left of Obama, next to the lady with the red scarf.
His face appears to be made up from two photos.


Also there are three telephoto lenses in the middle at the bottom. The first of the three has bits missing.

Looks like a panoramic shot made up of many smaller shots composited. If people had moved between shots, you will see discontinuities at the edges where they stuck the photos together.

What you are seeing is are artifacts of the process used to create the image. It is actually a stitch of multiple independent shots.
If you look at the man with the red scarf behind Obama and 3 rows back you see a hat floating with no one under it. Look 3 rows left and you see a partial face composed of two faces (this may be the man you refer to).

The photographer shoots many frames and covers the entire area of the event. These frames are then combined into a single image at a later time using a software program. Due to the lag between taking different frames you get artifacts like you describe due to the fact the software cannot resolve all of the conflicts between frames.

What I have just written is the cover story. The truth is that the man with two faces works for both the US Treasury and AIG and the hat on the head of the invisible man is a result of a Monsanto GM project to create additional secret and invisible forces for deployment to Afghanistan. None of this is reported in the MSM for obvious reasons.

Lots of talk about the evils of Capitalism, but this is not Capitalism-the taxpayers own 79% of this lousy company, have sunk an incredible 170 billion into it, and have ZERO control over employee compensation. Those with the control over the company have ZERO interest in sustaining a profitable operation and cannot be controlled or removed by ANYONE and appear to be on track to being kept in style by the taxpayers PERMANENTLY-you could label this whole thing fraud, but it sure isn't Capitalism http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/16/AR200903...

Communism then?

Actually, worse still is that they went AWOL...

AIG execs left after 'retention' bonuses, N.Y. official says

AIG paid 73 employees bonuses of more than $1 million, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo informed Congress in a letter Tuesday.

"Until we obtain the names of these individuals, it is impossible to determine when and why they left the firm and how it is that they received these payments," Cuomo wrote to a congressional committee.

The company insists the payouts are needed to keep talented executives on the payroll, but public anger over the moves has prompted Congress and the Obama administration to seek some ways to reclaim the money.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee will pursue a legislative fix in such a way that the "recipients of those bonuses will not be able to keep all their money -- and that's an understatement."

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, will propose a special tax within the next 24 hours, Reid said.

"I don't think those bonuses should be paid," Baucus said Tuesday.

Max, my main man... Those funds are further away from the states than Madoff's Money. Good luck to you... And the next time you want to bailout, check out the acronyms floating out there...

AIG = All Income Governmental
GM = Government Money
GE = Government Employee...

I like the phrase 'lemon capitalism' :-))

Hello TODers,

I love this toplink [Thxs Gail!]:

Preparing city for life after oil

SAN FRANCISCO – To avoid “a much darker future” The City should pursue transforming a city golf course into farmland,...
Recall my prior posts on this topic:

I hope the PGA & NIKE & DEERE Tractors jumps into the marketing lead here and flys out Tiger Woods to the first plowing.

How cool would that be to see the televised video of Tiger, Erin, and his two offspring safely inside the cab of their biggest tractor with Tiger Master-fully pulling a giant set of discs across the 18th green?

Free bicycle and wheelbarrow bumper stickers for all that reads:

"Nike Tiger Tools--Deere to all as we go postPeak!"

Some more possibilities if Tiger hired me as his postPeak financial advisor:

I also think it would be cool if Tiger donated 100 autographed versions of his hi-tech, carbon fiber and titanium Signature-brand wheelbarrows to this cause. The families could swoop the toddlers around for awhile--Great fun! Maybe have wheelbarrow races for the teens/young adults, too.

Then these First Edition, Premium wheelbarrows could be auctioned off for big buck$ to memorabilia collectors/celebrities, with the proceeds going to buy seeds, shovels, hoes, I-NPK, composting equipment, regular wheelbarrows/garden carts, greenhouses, water hoses, etc.

My friend,
Tiger and Erin's children will feast on human flesh before the 18th green of any major golf course will see a single gardener.
In fact, the face of that child in the SUV you saw today was the progeny of an all important PGA pro, and you know what he was thinking? "my that man looks slow and plump! Maybe Wolfgang Puck has a recipe for middle-aged peak oiler surprise!"

LOL! You may be right. Thxs for the imaginative reply.


Barriers to Acting in Time on Energy and Strategies for Overcoming Them (PDF; 162 KB)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

This is both hilarious and tragically sad. Even "The Onion" website couldn't top this:

March 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said he wants “contrition” from executives of insurer American International Group Inc. for their company’s problems, after earlier saying they should follow Japanese tradition and “resign or go commit suicide.”

Rod Dreher: Hey Grassley, should failed politicians kill selves?

I get where Sen. Grassley was going with his suggestion that AIG execs should kill themselves. He's trying to point out that these highly placed businessmen who ruined so many lives with their irresponsible actions should be deeply ashamed of themselves. . .

But he inadvertently raises a point worth pondering, if failed top financial executives should consider killing themselves in shame over their disastrous governance of their companies, why shouldn't failed top politicians apply the same standard to themselves? Why wouldn't they at least consider putting a bullet in the brains of their careers? America has been badly governed, at least on the financial front, for some time now. How many US senators are lining up to quit in self-disgust?

The furor over this harmless comment is interesting-he might have mentioned what would have happened to these guys if they pulled these stunts under China's rule-there would be a very big basket full of AIG heads.

westexas -

In the US, unfortunately, failed CEOs and failed politicians hardly have the sense of honor and shame to ritualistically disembowel themselves in disgrace.

Rather, they generally spend their last days at politically-fronted think tanks, in token academic positions, and at various business-funded foundations. And also perhaps turning out a ghost-written self-serving memoir. Then, of course, there is the highly lucrative speaking tour circuit.

Naturally, while doing the above, they always have their ears to the ground, with the hope that a new administration of their own party might offer them an ambassadorship or some useless but highly visible advisory role.

Nice work if you can get it.

I've also noticed that AIG has hired extra security guards at its headquarters as a result of the public outrage over the post bailout bonuses. Perhaps an early hint of more things to come?

Will you ask Rick if he'll have a
drink with us?

Madame, he never drinks with
customers. Never. I have never seen

What makes saloon-keepers so snobbish?

(to Carl)
Perhaps if you told him I ran the
second largest banking house in

The second largest? That wouldn't
impress Rick. The leading banker in
Amsterdam is now the pastry chef in
our kitchen.

We have something to look forward

And his father is the bell boy.

-Casablanca, 1942 Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch

well! in china they put the elite criminals that fail in front of firing squads. perhaps we should have a similar custom in the usa. in other news, i went to the local supermarket to buy motor oil. nice day and change filters after the winter. single quarts are $3.00!!!!! luckily i can still buy a case of 12 for $24. but what does that do to the paradigm? also, i have been severely disappointed in my 3KW PV grid tied system. what an under performer. but... the array was covered in 8 inches of snow for 30 days in january-february. now i am seeing any clear day 2.3KW, 2.4KW, even 2.7KW. did all that snow remove particles from the air? did the panels like a rest? just back in october i was only getting 1.8 KW on low humidity clear blue sky days. even complained to the contractor. the guy who showed up told me it was hazy out. flat out lied to my face. however, when the grid fails my solar panels will just be decorations. will have to salvage batteries from fork lifts and hack the system. all the while dodging bullets from mad max wannabes.when will local (town/county) governments fail and an end to property taxes?

Sounds like you didn't do your homework. Contractor ? What kind of contractor ?

You've got 2+ kw.. that's not a decoration. The 3kw sizing is likely peak production.. really usu. an optimal number. But you've got a system to hack. The watts coming from your roof are real, and will be real when other houses are dark. It's not such a big deal to switch inverters and maybe reconfigure the panels to set up for On and Off-grid.. and in a pinch, you can grab juice from them about as easily as jump starting a car.. (just know your voltages.. and how to use a simple multimeter)

Sorry you're disappointed.. I'm betting you made an ok choice.


Here in Reno, there is a golf course closing and they have ~100 golf carts for sale. 36V 220A of batteries cost ~$720 so try to find one with rather new batteries which are guaranteed for ~5 years. If possible get a 48VDC cart. 2-24V Solar fits it better than 3-12V.

The sun is lower in the sky in October than March, so you might be seeing that effect -especially if your array is not steeply angled south. We are now only a few days from the equinox, so I expect your output should be increasing rapidly.

Denningers response .....More Samurai Swords Please etc.


And now ....Washington knew AIG was preparing to pay bonuses


Here is an idea. Small planes taking people places, Like the bush pilots out in the wilderness areas of our country and elsewhere. I have 50 small planes and can take 5 to 10 people to regional hubs per plane. Now company X has 75 planes and they offer the same service but for the East coast. More Taxi-Air planes and Less Big Planes with fewer and fewer people on them because they don't stop at the regional airports.

I know that trains would serve them better if we had them. But sooner or later, small Taxi-Air services are going to be a method to get from place to place. Lower overhead, Less cost per-plane, Smaller cities serviced.

Of course there might be more plane crashes, more this, or more that, which will hinder all this, but it was just an Idea.


Fuel efficiency per pax-mile drops badly with smaller planes (and shorter distances).

I see a group of hub airports, each with rail service going out a couple of hundred miles, and daily direct service between the hubs (at least 1/day in a smaller plane to 4 times/day in larger planes (more for LA-NYC) between almost every pair of hubs).

Examples, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, Fairbanks or Abchorage, Salt Lake City, Denver, El Paso or Albuquerque, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis or KC, New Orleans for west of or on the Mississippi River.

NYC, DC, Atlanta, Miami or Orlando, Cincinnati or Columbus might barely cover East of the Mississippi River.

Northern tier of Western states may need something.

Just speculation,