Drumbeat: March 25, 2009

OIL FUTURES: Crude Off Lows Despite Inventories At 16-Yr High

Oil futures pared losses Wednesday after the U.S. government said crude stockpiles at key hub Cushing sank last week, despite overall inventories soaring to 16-year highs.

Light, sweet crude for May delivery was down $1.14, or 2.1%, at $52.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after popping above $53 a barrel soon after the data release. May Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange was $1.31 lower at $52.19 a barrel. . .

"The report looks kind of mixed, but the market seems to be looking at that drop in Cushing and ignoring the fact that the total's up so high," said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. "They're interpreting the report as not bearish enough to shake us out of the rally we've been in all week." . .

The greenback came under further pressure Wednesday after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he is open to considering a new global reserve currency, though he added that the dollar will likely remain the world's dominant reserve currency "for a long period of time."

Cellulosic ethanol suffers in down economy

The economic downturn that has slowed the ethanol industry also is putting the brakes on the next generation of biofuels.

Companies that are trying to commercialize cellulosic ethanol are struggling to find investors and lenders.

Poet LLC, which announced plans more than two years ago for a 25-million-gallon-a-year cellulose project at Emmetsburg, Ia., is still seeking a lender to provide a federally guaranteed loan.

Other firms are struggling just to stay in business. Verenium Corp. recently announced plans to build a 36-million-gallon project in Florida, but auditors warned this month that there is substantial doubt about the company's viability.

Another industry leader, Abengoa Bioenergy, is looking to borrow directly from the government. The company is planning a $300 million plant in Kansas that would produce 12 million gallons of ethanol a year from wheat straw or corn stover.

"Right now at this juncture the biggest barrier we're facing is financing," said Gerson Santos-Leon, an executive vice president of the company. "Private lenders and public lenders are not interested. They don't even want to talk."

Oil-and-gas auction in Utah draws few, low bids

Bids at a government oil-and-gas lease auction Tuesday were few and stingy as participants blamed depressed fuel prices for their lack of interest — and fumed about the sabotage of the previous land sale.
Barely half of the 98 parcels sold — more than 76,000 acres of land in southern and eastern Utah — some for as little as $2 an acre.
"Given the current economic conditions — lower demand for oil products — there's few if any of those parcels bought today that will be drilled this year," said David Terry, a land agent who spent the most of any bidder on a drilling parcel. He spent $58,000 for 930 acres in Utah's southeast corner on behalf of an oil or gas company he declined to identify.

Oil terminal a concern as Alaska volcano rumbles

An Alaska volcano continued to rumble Tuesday amid new concerns that eruptions and mud flows will damage a nearby oil terminal where about 6 million gallons of crude are stored. The 10,200-foot Mount Redoubt volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted Sunday night. Since then there have been five more explosions; the latest, on Monday night, shot an ash plume into the air that was 40,000 to 50,000 feet high.

Paper makers seek renewable energy credit

U.S. paper makers Tuesday asked Congress for the same credits for making renewable energy that it is considering giving utilities as part of a new mandate that utilities make more electricity from renewable sources. . .

RES proposals would require power generators to produce a certain percent of their electricity from renewable sources like sunlight, wind and biomass, which includes wood chips, sawdust and bark, rather than coal or petroleum. That would increase demand for biomass and thus its cost. . .

However, the paper industry uses biomass to make its products as well as to generate electricity for its facilities, and excess power generated by them is sold on to the local or regional power grid.

The prospect of sharply higher biomass prices comes at a difficult time for the paper industry, said Donna Harman, president of the American Forest & Paper Association. The industry, which currently buys biomass to generate power for 2.7 million homes, has had to cut 190,000 jobs since 2006, she said.

Getting a renewable energy credit provision, which can be traded, in a federal RES "will level the playing field between forest products manufacturers that use wood fiber as a raw material and energy source and generators of new renewable energy," she told meeting participants.

(Copy title of article into Google to bring up WSJ articles without subscription).

Oil Markets Pay Scant Attention to Russia

Top Producers Cut Output, Spending; Higher Prices Ahead?

Oil markets may not be pricing in the extent of dwindling output in the world's biggest producer, Russia, a factor that could buoy prices later this year, traders and analysts said.

Last week, the Russian government predicted 2009 oil output of 9.68 million barrels a day, a 1.1% annual drop. But a Dow Jones Newswires survey of 12 analysts puts the decline at more than twice that rate, with the most pessimistic predicting a slump of 7%. . .

In early January, Russia's five biggest producers -- OAO Rosneft, OAO Lukoil Holdings, TNK-BP Ltd., OAO Surgutneftegas and OAO Gazprom Neft -- announced an average annual reduction in capital spending of 15% for 2009.

But analysts said the industry may cut more spending, crimping new production capacity. . .

Moscow-based Alfa Bank reckons the annual rate of decline in production at Russian oil fields already in operation totals 15% to 17%, compared with a rate of 7% in 1998. The higher rate implies producers would need to bring 1.5 million barrels a day in new output on stream just for production to stay flat.

GCC to Extend Deadline For Single Currency - Official

Gulf Cooperation Council states including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will extend a deadline to create a single currency beyond the existing 2010 schedule, an official said Tuesday.

"We need a new timeline to introduce the fiscal currency," Nasser Al Kaud deputy assistant general for economic affairs at the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, said at a banking conference in Bahrain.

The creation of a new single currency amongst the oil-rich Arab Gulf states could help bolster the region's global economic influence. The states involved in the currency pump almost a fifth of the world's crude and control vast wealth in foreign assets.

"By 2010 we hope to name the currency, establish its value and prepare for printing it," he added.

Kabul Opens Bidding by Energy Firms

Afghanistan is hoping to attract foreign energy companies to look for oil and natural gas in the war-torn country.

The Afghan Ministry of Mines last week announced the first round of bidding to lease three tracts of land near the Turkmenistan border for exploration. The region, by virtue of its location in the far northwest of Afghanistan, is relatively isolated from the security problems that plague much of the country.

Still, oil-industry analysts don't expect much interest, especially from large international oil companies. The area contains oil and gas fields discovered in the 1970s by the Soviet Union; the Afghan government estimates there are recoverable oil and gas reserves equivalent to 370 million barrels -- less than in the fields of North Dakota. But the government is "quite optimistic" there is more to be found.

PdVSA Begins Gradual Payment Of Bills To Large Contractors

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, has begun the gradual payment of outstanding bills to large oil contractors, some of which insist the oil company isn't doing enough.

PdVSA has paid a fraction of its debt to a group of 56 oil-service companies and rig operators struggling to get paid by President Hugo Chavez's cash-strapped government.

PdVSA has paid as much as much as 7% of total outstanding receivables to some of these companies, industry executives say, but many claim to have received even less.

"We've made very little progress with PdVSA. Under 1% of outstanding receivables have been collected," said Juan Pablo Tardio, a spokesman for U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne Inc.(HP). PdVSA's debt with Helmerich & Payne has now exceeded $100 million, according to company data. . .

Meanwhile PdVSA plans to continue seizing oil rigs that become idle because of lack of payment. "We won't allow these companies to paralyze the industry," said Eulogio Del Pino, a PdVSA director. Paralyzing equipment, he argues, violates the contracts these companies have signed with PdVSA.

UAE OPEC Gov:Oil Prices Much Lower If Not For OPEC

The United Arab Emirates Governor for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Tuesday the current low oil price would have been much lower if it wasn't for OPEC's actions over the past five years and high inventories remain an issue.

"The fundamentals of supply, demand and inventories are very important. Currently inventories are at their highest in terms of strategic and commercial. Without OPEC aligning supply to demand we would have seen the level of prices much lower than this," Ali Al Yabhouni told delegates at a conference in Fujairah.

E.P.A. Plans Closer Review of Mountaintop Mining Permits

In a sharp reversal of Bush administration policies, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that the agency planned an aggressive review of permit requests for mountaintop coal mining, citing serious concerns about potential harm to water quality. . .

Officials of the National Mining Association, an industry group, said the action amounted to a moratorium on the 200 pending mining permits throughout Appalachia — a view the agency categorically denied — and jeopardized thousands of mining jobs. The group says that mountaintop mining in the region produces about 10 percent of all coal mined in the United States.

“E.P.A.’s announcement is especially troublesome from an administration that with one hand proposes enormous fiscal stimulus to put Americans back to work and with the other hand takes their jobs away,” Hal Quinn, president and chief executive of the group, said in a statement.

But Jennifer Chavez, a lawyer with EarthJustice, a law firm that has sued to stop mountaintop mining, said the E.P.A. was only reversing a practice of issuing permits “like hotcakes” under the Bush administration.

China raises gasoline, diesel benchmark prices

The government raised the benchmark retail prices of gasoline by 290 yuan (US$42.46) per ton, or 5 percent, and diesel by 180 yuan per ton, or 3.7 percent, as of midnight yesterday. . .

It is the second oil price revision this year. The NDRC cut benchmark pump prices of gasoline and diesel by 140 yuan and 160 yuan per ton, or 2 percent and 3.2 percent, on Jan 14.

Experts said the frequent price revisions show the government can respond quicker to international oil price changes after a new pricing mechanism took effect on Jan 1.

Oil Price Slump Pressures Iraq to Re-assess Reconstruction, Military Spending

Iraqi leaders are under pressure to re-assess their reconstruction plans after the collapse in oil prices slashed the country's main source of revenue. U.S. officials say Iraq also may have to scale back its military modernization program due to a lack of funds. The oil price plunge is challenging Iraq's efforts to further stabilize itself as U.S. forces gradually withdraw.

Iraqi lawmakers cut billions of dollars from the government's 2009 budget this month in response to a dramatic fall in oil prices.

Iraq relies on oil exports for 90 percent of its revenue. The price of crude has fallen from a record high $147 a barrel last July, to around $50 in recent weeks due to a slump in global energy demand.

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, warns that next year, Iraq could run out of cash needed to rebuild infrastructure for electricity, water and schools. "Over the last few months Iraq is certainly, on balance, losing money. In other words, they are spending faster than they are earning.

Baghdad rejigs model contracts

The Iraqi Oil Ministry has sent out a revised copy of a model contract for the eight oil and gas fields included in its landmark first bidding round, in an effort to make sure it hands out contracts to international oil companies by the end of June.

The most important change the directorate had made to the original model contract was that oil companies would have a 75% stake in the joint ventures with state-owned Iraqi operators at the fields holding the rest.

That is up from 49% to 51% equity stake initially proposed.

'Kurd move throws doubt on Iraq exports'

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region will not allow oil from its territory to be piped through Iraq's national oil network, Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani claimed today, throwing into doubt exports from the area. . .

Shahristani has rejected deals signed by the KRG and foreign oil players, saying they were not put to tender to allow competition and they give companies a share of the oil produced, a deal structure the government in Baghdad rejects.

"Work is continuing to connect the (northern oilfields) to the Iraqi network. But there are objections from the KRG to handing over the oil, claiming that companies that developed the oilfields should be rewarded," Reuters quoted Shahristani saying in an interview published in today's pan-Arab Asharq al-Aswat A newspaper.

Local debts stymies Naftogaz

Ukraine's state-run energy company Naftogaz said today local utilities owed it 5 billion hryvnias ($650 million), which made payments to Gazprom more complicated.

The company made a similar statement last month but paid up in full for Russian gas supplies on time.

Naftogaz said the debts had more than doubled so far this year.

"The rising debts of utilities significantly complicates Naftogaz payments for imported gas," it said in a statement.

Petrobras Makes Overture to Brazil's Striking Oil Workers

State-controlled Petrobras said Tuesday that it is prepared to offer Brazil's striking oil workers a bigger share of the company's healthy profits.

"We are open to dialogue with the unions," Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli said during an appearance before the Economic Affairs Committee of the Brazilian Senate.

I saw that NOVA episode on the glaciers last night. Due to the hour delay I didn't see it all, but did they make any reference to the theory that the Ross Ice Shelf could slip off within 10 year's time and raise sea levels by 20 or so feet?

I don't know about anyone else, but it looks to me as if we already passed the start of the irreverseable sea level rise tipping point.

I saw the program but I don't remember them mentioning the Ross Ice Shelf slipping off within 10 years. They did show satellite photos of, I believe it was the Larsen Ice Shelf, breaking up. The program was very good. You can watch it today, or any other day, here:

NOVA Extreme Ice

Ron P.

Unless an ice shelf is supported by the sea floor, it has already displaced all the sea water it will occupy when melted.

The real fun begins when the WAIS begins to move. I believe there was a story a few weeks ago on new satellite data showing a distinct warming trend in the WAIS.

If that is true I wonder why this ice anomaly is mostly positive for the past three years.


The annual formation of winter Antarctic sea ice is very thin, but large in area, compared to floating ice shelves which may be over 1,000-1,500 ft thick from 'submerged bottom to far above sea-level top'. Ice-breaking ships can push through much of the sea-ice, but many bergs liberated from an ice-shelf, and the ice-shelf itself can tower a 100 feet or more higher than the icebreaker.

I think it is important not to confuse the two as the dynamics of their formation and melting are completely different:

Sea ice = frozen seawater

Ice shelf = glacial ice shoved off land into sea [Larsen, Ross, etc]

Glaciers, Ice Sheet = grounded on bedrock above sealevel or even below sea-level.

Most of the glaciers in the WAIS reach far,far below sealevel, but even then the ice extends far,far above sea-level. Google Bentley Sub-glacial Trench. The downward pressure flow of ice from slopes far above sea level, for example, the Vinson Massif, pushes on the ice below sea level. This eventually pushes ice up out of the trenches, then offshore to form the the floating WAIS ice shelves.

Most of the Eastern Antarctic is on ground far, far above sea-level. Which is why Eastern side has lots of freshwater lakes and rivers beneath the miles of ice. Google Lake Vostok. The downward slope flow of this ice creates the ice shelves of the Eastern Antarctic.

I hope these explanations help eliminate any confusion.

"I hope these explanations help eliminate any confusion."

Very helpful, thank you.

Excellent: I should point out that I have been intrigued by Antarctica since grammar school 70 years ago. There is map of Antarctica dated Feb 2002 from National Geographic’s that presents all of your points in detail.

The point I was trying to make is, if seasonal sea ice formation cycles as shown in the graph show no trend over 30 years, then climate should tend to be stable over that period.
If either water or air temperatures were changing wouldn’t it tend to change the cycle amplitudes?


Your logic would be correct if it were not for the other problem of ozone depletion from CFCs. Ozone is a greenhouse gas and absorbs UVb strongly. With less ozone, the IR emissions will increase, cooling the troposphere. With less ozone, the warming of the stratosphere due to the interception of UV will be reduced in summer. Thus, it's quite plausible to see less warming around the Antarctic as cold air flows off the continent over the ocean and sea-ice.

There are reports of winter warming seen in surface data from stations around the Antarctic and I found a small warming trend in the winter when I analyzed UAH TLT data 6 years ago.

E. Swanson

The Ross Ice Shelf is supported by bed-rock. A lot of the Antartic ice and most of the Greenland ice sits above sea-level; in most cases the tops of the glaciers were two miles above sea-level. They were talking about 1/2 mile to 2 mile thick glaciers.

The Ross Ice Shelf is supported by bed-rock.

Then it isn't an ice "shelf." Floating ice shelfs don't raise sea level when they melt, as they're already displacing an equal mass of liquid water. Grounded ice does raise sea level when it melts but the word "shelf" indicates floating ice.

The WAIS rests on unconsolidated glacial till on the sea floor. It is inherently unstable and has collapsed & reformed repeatedly over the course of the Cenozoic. It is quite likely poised for collapse again today. When collapse occurs it happens relatively suddenly, on the time scale of decades. Total collapse of the WAIS will raise sea level five to nine meters, innundating the world's great coastal cities and the low-lying rice growing regions of southern Asia which are the "bread"baskets for billions. "Best wishes" for vibrant submarine creole culture in NOLA when the WAIS gives way. We can also kiss peninsular Florida & Bangladesh goodby.

The dynamics of the WAIS have been relatively well understood for years but until recently, the EIS & GIS were believed to be stable. Rapidity of melting in east Antarctica & Greenland has put this assumption in question. We can expect the loss of virtually all mountain glaciers and the WAIS, along with significant ablation of the EIS & GIS within the lifetimes of those already born.

Yep, a 6 m sea level rise is bad... Check out this interactive map.

Recent info suggests that WAIS collapse will be a slow affair. I think we have much bigger fish to fry than SLR:


The bottom line? In this simulation, the ice sheet does collapse when waters beneath fringing ice shelves warm 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit or so, but the process — at its fastest — takes thousands of years. Over all, the pace of sea-level rise from the resulting ice loss doesn’t go beyond about 1.5 feet per century

You're going to need to define "slow." The combination of ice sheets melting and ocean water expansion due to temps is already expected to raise sea level by 1.5 meters within the century.


How much more do you think is OK, and over what time frame?


"How much more do you think is OK, and over what time frame?"

It doesn't really matter what I think is OK, we are headed for 1-2M of SLR by 2100 as you suggest. My point is that we are not headed for 6M of SLR in the next 100-200 years. My other point is that I think that 1.5M of SLR by 2100 will be the least of our problems - I don't even think it's the biggest AGW problem (shifting rainfall patterns, desertification, ocean acidification and disruption of ocean circulation currents are all bigger deals, IMO). When you add in PO, Peak Coal/Gas, Peak Water, Peak Soil etc., I think SLR doesn't even make the top 10.

True, but only in terms of our present understanding.

Call me a Cassandra, but it seems that there is a great deal that we don't understand about the dynamics of ice sheets.

The fastest glacier in the world is the Jacobshavn in Greenland, moving about 40m (130 ft)/day. More worrying is that its speed has doubled in the last ten years. The Columbia glacier has shown similar acceleration, so we may be in for some rude surprises.

The latest reports show ACC to be at the high end of previous estimates in just about every aspect so SLR will likely be higher than 1-2m.

Of course, the issues you mention above will also be exacerbated.

Unfortunately none of the settings on that map show the water getting anywhere close to Washington DC. Which means nothing will be done about the problem..

Yeah, but whole chunks of NYC could be underwater... Two planes take down two buildings and we go to two wars over it, so the whole city being underwater must be something we'll act on.

so the whole city being underwater must be something we'll act on.

Yes. New York City, New Orleans, and San Francisco should be saved at all costs to the nation according to Alan.

To quote Hoda Kotb (native New Orleanian & now co-host on last hour Today show on NBC) when interviewed by her old TV station here:

First there is New Orleans, then San Francisco, then New York City. The rest of America is just McDonald's


The more I hear condescending, arrogant hubris like that, the less inclined I am to give the slightest damn about NO going under.

I would remind a person as utters such as Hoda does that a city is not its buildings until the people are long gone and the buildings are archeological wonders. It is the people that make a city what it is, and the people that built NO into whatever degree of great it once was are all long, long dead.

When asking the rest of the country to pay for your rebirth, it might be wise to offer a little respect to those footing the bill.


I was under the impression that most of the sea rise in the short term will be due to thermal expansion of water, about 20cm/K.
Ice takes a long time to melt, so we'll only the see the effects in some decades.

Then it isn't an ice "shelf." Floating ice shelfs



* S: (n) shelf ice, ice shelf (ice that is attached to land but projects out to sea)

Floating ice shelfs don't raise sea level when they melt, as they're already displacing an equal mass of liquid water.

Then perhaps you can explain how a already displacing hunk of ice can 'fall' into the sea, per the upthread question I asked?

the word "shelf" indicates floating ice.

No it does not.

An ice self floats an ice sheet is on bedrock above or below sea level.


I stand corrected. I also can't find the reference on the Ross Ice Shelf that had a few geologist postulate that underground volcanic activity was accelerating the flow rate; but after the NOVA episode it could be just another self-lubricating phenomena.

it has already displaced all the sea water it will occupy when melted.
However, as Nature pointed out in a recent article, one must take into consideration gravity, as this much mass has captured a bubble of water. This will cause additional rise, especially in North America, as this water is freed.

Really? Based on what science? If the shelves are already supported by the water and can not displace 'all the water' why the pictures of large hunks FALLING into the water?


Explain the science.

Actually it is quite simple, the periphery of the ice shelf is thinner due to seawater melt and the edge of the shelf is supported by the greater thickness inboard of the periphery, hence the edge drops into the sea.

drops into the sea.

Therefore displacing water.

Consider this: You are in a boat that displaces 1000 pounds of water. In the boat you have ten pounds of ice, you throw the ice in the water the boat now displaces 990 pounds and the ice ten pounds, consider the ice shelf a boat. In the mean time I am going down to clean fish, the crappie were really biting last night.

The photos of the ice shows it above the water line, displacing air, not water.

And your wikipedia link says:

The thickness of modern-day ice shelves ranges from about 100 to 1000 meters.

Thus additional displacement.

Eric - if I follow your logic then for an ocean going cargo ship all the parts out of the water displace air and not water.

There seem to be a few people here who do not understand Archimedes Principle, which can be stated simply "an object is immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object" so of course large amounts of ice floating in water will be ABOVE the water and will collapse into the water when it breaks into smaller pieces (because ice is less dense than water, as are ships).

Yes, an ice shelf is floating on water, and a glacier is not. See the American Geological Institute definition if you doubt me. Melting ice shelves will not change sea level, as they are already part of that sea level. To demonstrate this, put an ice cube in a glass of water. Mark the water level. Let the ice melt. Note the water level has not changed.

interesting, but as the oceans become warmer the water will expand in volume. In a glass this couldn't be seen but I wonder what the effect would be in the deep ocean. Suppose I could try to do some math for that but I'm not quite sure how the effect changes with pressure (depth). Or have I been missing idea all these years and GW doesn't cause ocean rise because of melting caps and glaciers?

I don't normally respond to 3 day old Drumbeats, but since you asked:
According to the NOVA special we are likely to get about a foot of sea level rise from thermal expansion.

Of course they also say a foot each from non-icecap glaciers and icecap glaciers (Greenland and Antarctica) which is, IMHO though I am not an expert in climatology and ice, more than a trifle optimistic.

Melting ice shelves will not change sea level

'Cept for the parts that are above water.

The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf of Antarctica (an area of roughly 487 000 km², and about 800 km across: about the size of France[1]). It is several hundred meters thick. The nearly vertical ice front to the open sea is more than 600 km long, and between 15 and 50 meters high above the water surface.

I've mentioned this before, but I think it would make a real cool (excuse the pun) plot for a sci-fi/disaster film: massive ice sheet breaks free, floats to various places around the world causing all sorts of havoc.

Great idea.

In an Austin Powers version, Dr. Evil would hijack floating ice sheets with a fleet of subs (mini me in a mini sub of course), powering the burgs into the harbors of major world ports ...

People who would not watch Nova would watch Austin Powers, and at least the concept would get stuffed into the back of their brains for future reference.

Or maybe rig a string of subsurface nukes to create a vast pressure wave to slide a sheet into the sea, creating a worldwide tsunami?

A large and long erupting tectonic rift caldera in the Bentley Trench [underneath the WAIS] could cause dramatic change. The volcanos along the Antarctic Ridge & Rift tend to be like the hawaii volcanos: long and steady eruptive flows.

Antartic volcano search list:


..The Antarctic plate, largely aseismic and immobile, is broken internally by large rift structures which have produced one of the world's largest alkalic volcanic provinces. The 3,200-kilometer-long West Antarctic rift system is comparable in size to the better-known East African rift.

..Precise dating of past eruptions is difficult -- much of the landscape is glacier-covered, travel is daunting, and the wood needed for radiocarbon dating does not grow in this extreme climate -- and the region has the highest proportion of volcanoes with uncertain status...

This extinct caldera is the size of New Jersey:

Deception Island (Bransfield Strait, Antarctica): an example of a volcanic caldera developed by extensional tectonics

Floating ice as a source of havoc?


As the Allies prepared to invade occupied Europe in 1942, a truly nutty idea swept through the British military hierarchy: build giant aircraft carriers made of ice.

The ships could be made cheaply, they figured. And, maybe, they could be constructed tough enough to withstand bullets and torpedoes.

With Churchill's blessing, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, began the task of developing "berg-ships" up to 4,000 feet long, 600 feet wide and 130 feet in depth.

His task seemed to get easier when, in early 1943, "two American professors discovered that a very tough material could be produced by adding a small amount of wood pulp to water before freezing. They called this material pykrete, in honour of (Mountbatten's scientific advisor) Geoffrey Pyke," Combinedrops.com says.

Melting glaciers force Italy, Swiss to redraw border

Melting glaciers in the Alps may prompt Italy and Switzerland to redraw their borders near the Matterhorn, according to parliamentary draft legislation being readied in Rome.

"This draft law is born out the necessity to revise and verify the frontiers given the changes in climate and atmosphere," Narducci said. "The 1941 convention between Italy and Switzerland established as criteria [for border revisions] the ridge [crest] of the glaciers. Following the withdrawal of the glaciers in the Alps, a new criterion has been proposed so that the new border coincides with the rock."

I look forward to the day when the Antarctic Treaty System breaks down and we're negotiating for whats under the ice...

Physicist Freeman Dyson on Climate Change:
The Civil Heretic

I have tremendous respect for Freeman Dyson (after reading his book 'Infinite in All Directions', based on a series of lectures, years ago). But was surprised by his position on global warming when I heard about it a couple of years back. He does like to play the contrarian, but he's also a powerful thinker who normally sees 'the big picture' better than most others.

Science is not a matter of opinion; it is a question of data. Climate change is an issue for which Dyson is asking for more evidence, and leading climate scientists are replying by saying if we wait for sufficient proof to satisfy you, it may be too late. That is the position of a more moderate expert on climate change, William Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University, who says, “I don’t think it’s time to panic,” but contends that, because of global warming, “more sea-level rise is inevitable and will displace millions; melting high-altitude glaciers will threaten the food supplies for perhaps a billion or more; and ocean acidification could undermine the food supply of another billion or so.” Dyson strongly disagrees with each of these points, and there follows, as you move back and forth between the two positions, claims and counterclaims, a dense thicket of mitigating scientific indicators that all have the timbre of truth and the ring of potential plausibility. One of Dyson’s more significant surmises is that a warming climate could be forestalling a new ice age. Is he wrong? No one can say for sure. Beyond the specific points of factual dispute, Dyson has said that it all boils down to “a deeper disagreement about values” between those who think “nature knows best” and that “any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil,” and “humanists,” like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment.

I do agree with him that the public and scientific conflict has taken on political and 'religious' aspects - I would guess that fewer than one person in a hundred, or maybe in a thousand, really has such a broad and deep command of the technical and mathematical intricacies (plus the time to study it to the necessary depth) that they can convincingly (to other scientists) argue and demonstrate the merits of one side or the other.

So most people decide - somewhat arbitrarily - to sit on one side of the fence or the other, not based on complete and detailed understanding of the technical debate, but based on other factors - the 'consensus' of science, their opinion of Al Gore, etc. It becomes a matter of belief more than of science, which is not a good foundation for a society to make such crucial decisions. But - until the science and the models get better - it's all we've got.

Dick Lawrence

Gordon Brown just said, speaking in New York at a Wall Street Journal event (quoting from memory here): "If you remember everyone was worried about the oil price just a short time ago. What happened was there was a shortage of oil and a shortage of food and other commodities to meet growth in demand. With the recession that's gone away for now but it will come back and that's a challenge we have to face."

Interview should be available at http://wsj.com/gordon-brown later today.

ace tells me that the forecast he used for Russia is in line with the numbers from the above article. According to his e-mail:

Russian crude & condensate production in 2008 was 9.36 mbd. I'm forecasting a drop to 9.13 mbd in 2009 which is a 2.5% drop, similar to the survey of the 12 analysts.

In 2010, I'm forecasting 8.79 mbd, a drop of 3.7% from 2009. See attachment for forecast to 2020.

Following is the slide that I presented for Russia at ASPO-USA in 2007, showing Khebab's mathematical models for production & consumption. The initial projected 10 year rates of change in production and consumption are shown:


The projected production decline (from mature basins) was -5.1%/year plus or minus 2%.


It looks like, in the first half of 2013, we will have a glut in the market (see that little uptick in the chart).

It looks like drilling rig activity has closer ties to natural gas market than crude oil. Land rig utilization is way down. Natural gas price is now totally divorced from crude oil price.

Question: As the oil price climbs, and more of the market starts to play energy commodities, will natural gas get relinked to oil price trends? Or, will natural gas price stay low, like the talking heads are saying through 2011?

As the oil price climbs, and more of the market starts to play energy commodities, will natural gas get relinked to oil price trends? Or, will natural gas price stay low, like the talking heads are saying through 2011?

IMHO, we are seeing re-linking already. The April nat gas contract is up over $0.35 over the last several days, with the same glut the talking heads are describing and insufficient weather to drive the demand picture. With storage as full as it is, you would expect the April contract to get pounded down regardless of oil. Why the rally?

Why the rally?

Dollar shock; the Geithner plan and Bernanke's additional trillion(s) scared the currency markets, big time:

March 20 – Bloomberg (Kim-Mai Cutler): “Currencies of countries that are using quantitative easing, or printing money to buy government or corporate bonds, are plunging against those of nations sticking to conventional monetary policy…

eastex -- a simple view from where I sit: on the supply side the increased rig activity (and subsequent increase in NG supply) was driven by the unconventional NG plays and, to a lesser extent, Deep Water GOM (Independence Hub) coming online. With the exception of the Haynesville Shale most operators are running away from UNG as fast as possible. This would obviously argue decreases in supply. But as I mentioned a while ago, my rough model doesn’t predict a cliff. More of plateau with a modest decreasing slope for the next several years. But the big wild card IMO on the supply side is the potential for significant LNG imports. Lots of stories about big capacity increases in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Guesses for net export costs to US and EU markets range from $2 - $3.50 per mcf. If/when such deliveries are made to the US market it could keep NG prices suppressed to 2011 and well beyond. One number I haven't been able to dig up: regasification capacity in the US. Not an unimportant value should large amounts of LNG be available for import. I do know 3 major regas projects in the Gulf Coast were delayed last year by regulatory issues.

Demand side: Industrial demand has dropped significantly with the recession. Accurately predict the timing and rate of increase of the recovery and you'll have that part of the equation. Way beyond my crystal ball capabilities though.

Bottom line IMO: Given the inability to predict economic recovery and the import volumes of LNG I think forecasting NG prices over the long term (4 to 8 years) is nearly impossible. In the short term (2 - 4 years) prices look soft.

According to the EIA, LNG imports dropped from 2.11 billion cubic feet/day in 2007 to 0.96 bcfd in 2008. Capacity is at 11.5 bcfd with an additional 8.0 bcfd currently in the works so somebody thinks we will be importing quite a bit more of the stuff. If Russia NG production is in decline then this capacity would seem to be way overkill.

Some worrying news for the UK - especially since we can't even grow Bananas in our climate:


The clickable unemployment map on the right sidebar: the craters left by UK econ-decline looks much worse than the craters left by German Luftwaffe bombs and V2s from WWII.

Your reference to war might be right on.
Fear must be growing in the hearts of the wealthy.

"Liquid war: Welcome to Pipelineistan
By Pepe Escobar"


"What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game."

Great overview of the Eurasia playing field!!

Delete- souperman beat me to it!

RE: Obama's Press Conference last night (3/24/09):

Now, none of us know exactly what's going to happen 6 or 8 or 10 years from now. Here's what I do know: If we don't tackle energy, if we don't improve our education system, if we don't drive down the costs of health care, if we're not making serious investments in science and technology and our infrastructure, then we won't grow 2.6 percent, we won't grow 2.2 percent. We won't grow.

This is the first evidence that I have seen that suggests that he might have actually been in any discussions with anyone, behind the scenes, that suggested that continued economic growth might be in doubt. It is obvious that he has also rejected this as a possibility, he has determined that anything other than resumed economic growth is unacceptable, and that he will be doing "whatever it takes" (or more properly, whatever his advisors tell him it will take) to try to restart economic growth.

But meanwhile, as you bemoan his unwillingness to tell the American people that they cannot 'Grow', however one chooses to understand the implications of that word, he is directly, IN YOUR QUOTE, proposing investments in exactly what we have been hoping the Nation would embrace.

Sure, it matters that the kind of Growth goalposts that so many in the Halls of Power and in the society at large are looking towards is a future that may not be physically possible.. But the waypoints of developing Energy Answers, reinvigorating Science (where the 'bad news' will likely be emerging from, not from city hall) and education are on a path heading towards both our goal and theirs, I would argue.

It's always easiest pointing out 'What's wrong with this picture..' , but if you accept that we're now left looking for a few shiny BB's in the dungheaps around us, it might be essential to simply identify 'What's RIGHT with this picture?" .. and then help to get as many of those BB's collected and used as possible.

Yes, His (and their) Blindspots are easy to recognize.. but don't toss the BBs out with the bathwater.

I just read the transcript-this guy is a superb salesman. One who is unaware (likely the majority of the American public) that they have been saddled with approx 11 trillion dollars in extra debt obligations they cannot repay but yet must be serviced so that financial operators can be protected would be impressed with this presentation. The omission of the recent unprecedented actions of the Fed and their implications for the future of the nation is fraudulent IMO.

O can continue the fiction or forget a second term. It is beyond hope that we can expect a zero growth paradigm from any politician, much less a President. We can only hope that he chooses policy that mitigate somewhat the coming disaster.

Attention All Urban Gorilla Gardeners (big party in Flint coming up...)

America's Abandoned Cities

Property abandonment is getting so bad in Flint that some in government are talking about an extreme measure that was once unthinkable -- shutting down portions of the city, officially abandoning them and cutting off police and fire service...

The idea was to shut down entire streets and bulldoze abandoned properties so the city could discontinue services such as police patrols and street lighting, according to a CNN report.

(Mish's Comment)
The reason nothing gets done is these are not the homes banks or the wealthy care about... No one wants them at any price.

Moreover there's little incentive for anyone to do anything about this.

Our throw-away society has effectively reached a new level of efficiency: the throw-away city.


As we know, a triage system puts patients in three groups: those who will probably die no matter what, those who will probably survive even without prompt medical care and those who will survive with prompt medical care.

I expect to see more and more discussions about abandoning areas that are no longer economically viable. Of course, Flint is not a suburban issue per se, but I think that it is a casualty of the run up in oil prices. Compare GM stock from 1998 to 2008 versus oil prices from 1998 to 2008.

Net Oil Exports Revisited (8/06)

A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines. . .

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

A proactive plan would perhaps relocate or deconstruct houses versus allowing them to decay and then bulldozing them. Moving a viable house is somewhat difficult but relatively inexpensive, while a house that has been looted of wire and fixtures and left open to rain is worth about zero.

I have heard that in many cases it is cheaper to build new city infrastructure than to upgrade existing. It seems counter-intuitive, but maybe a better plan would be to build new infrastructure for TOD, move in existing houses (or new homes built from recovered materials), and then recover the valuable aspects of past infrastructure (anything made of metal, and maybe asphalt as well?).

Purposefully proactive change seems much better than reactive adjustments. Best get at it!

I had wondered how the re-urbanizaton and collapse of suburbia foreseen by Alan and others would work in practice. It seems that we now have a model:

1) Flight - those who can leave or relocate, do
2) Value collapse - houses worth little, ofteen zero or less.
3) Looting and vandalism - leaving houses non-functional and unsafe
4) Empty house demolition
5) Neighborhood service/infrastructure abandonment
6) Entire neighborhood demolition
7) Land re-use?

The rest of the steps don't seem too mis-aligned with the Flint example or Orlov's decay, but the notion of future reuse is perhaps optimistic. In an era of shifting resource bases and vibrant businesses a future re-growth might happen. Assuming that jobs are key to determining which areas survive, and that jobs will continue to decrease, it is hard to envision any significant reuse of the land. It'll be like the aftermath of a bad tornado or the purchased/condemned areas near growing airports -- the houses are gone but little squares and streets remain, overgrown by weeds, for decades.

I don't think Flint's demise is necessarily due to the long-term model -- it's just dying along with an industry. In five years, with a devalued dollar, add'l US manufacturing could be needed again, and if so, maybe Flint will recover somewhat. Or not.

Paleocon -

The demise of cities like Flint, Michigan merely reflects some stubborn facts coming home to roost. The only reason that Flint became a city the size it is (or perhaps more accurately, 'was') was that it was home to a vibrant major industry that needed workers and those workers needed a place to live. Period. The industry left, and many of the ex-workers are still stuck there. They too will be gone before long. Flint served its purpose and will probably revert to something close to its pre- auto industry size.

This isn't much different from an abandoned mining town in the Old West. If there is no reason for a person to stay where he is, then he will move on. In human history mass migrations have usually been the rule rather than the exception. Hell, America itself was created by one big mass migration from Europe by people seeking a better life.

Even dumb algae (totonelia, you listening?) have enough sense to migrate from the shady side of the rock to the sunny side. Now, I don't see algae setting up retraining and financial assistance programs to get the algae living on the shady side of the rock to stay there rather than to move to where it's sunny.

Except that the sunnyside can be lethal suicide in my Asphaltistan summer!

Your listing of a sequence of decline and abandonment sounds much like that which happens during a war. You know the routine, the aircraft fly over and bomb buildings, the people leave, then the troops fight through the rubble, causing more destruction. After the war has passed, much of the city is bulldozed and then rebuilt. A war accomplished the result you show, with the only difference being the speed with which it occurs.

One of the central notions of capitalism is the mobility of labor, i.e., people move to where the jobs are. It's relatively easy to move people, especially when they are still young. It's impossible to move the infrastructure, so that tends to be abandoned to those who are left behind, often the old and those who are incompetent for what ever reason. Ever been to one of the ghost towns left from a mining boom in the Western U.S.? How about a small town which was once served by a major U.S. highway but which has now has been bypassed by an Interstate? Will Flint "recover"? Perhaps not until there is some new industrial/commercial activity to bring the next batch of workers in to replace those who have left.

E. Swanson

Mobility of anything is going to become increasingly difficult in the energy/economic descent and its aftermath. This will require a fundamental rethink, all of the assumptions that underpin the present economic paradigm will be invalidated.


"Today's reality is that we have a lot of vacant space, and not much economic opportunity," he said.

"You could have urban farming - you could have livestock in some of these stretches of empty land.

"You could reforest it into tree farms so you're not maintaining a sidewalk, a power line, for a street that has two houses on it."


That will put Flint in line BEHIND Youngstown, OH which has a shrinking city plan in place already.


Investors hope to win toxic asset lottery
Fixed-income firms and pension plans could be big buyers of bad bank assets under the latest Treasury program. And the worst stuff could be the first to go.

The program, which required months of preparation and may still undergo further tweaks, will use taxpayers' funds to seed partnerships with private investors that will buy up those toxic mortgages and exotic securities that have waylaid many of the nation's largest banks.

The thinking is that by offering banks an opportunity to purge some of those cruddy assets from their balance sheet, it would not only mean fewer losses for lenders, but would help stimulate the flow of credit in the economy...

Analysts that track the banking industry worry that some lenders may have little motivation to participate, particularly when it comes to selling their existing troubled loans...

Espen Robak, president of Pluris Valuation Advisors, a firm which specializes in valuing troubled and other illiquid assets, said lower-grade mortgage securities that have been drastically marked down to just pennies on the dollar could be particularly attractive to investors...

"These are essentially the asset equivalents to lottery tickets," said Robak. "They can pay off in a big way."

Anyone wanna buy a subprime mortgage lottery ticket?

I don't have money for the big lottery ticket, but I already have the scratch-off ticket (I live in it!).

As Greenspan said as the dot com crash was in progress, "They are gaming the system !!!"

And the same thing is happening again:

What's worse is how the banks are marking this stuff at present.

If this (data table in link below) is real then these banks and other institutions are living in an absolute dreamworld.

There is absolutely no chance that Construction loans, for example, can reasonably be carried at 100 cents or even at 97, as is being done virtually everywhere.

Hell, even Bank America is only discounting by a nickel. Wells Fargo thinks they're going to get 87 cents held to maturity and Key 98?

IMHO they're nuts and from my point of view not only should the executives be in jail but the auditors should be too.


This is the EU President's take on the new plan:

EU president: U.S. economic plan a 'way to hell'

The huge financial injections into the economy are a repetition of mistakes from the Depression era of the 1930s, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, the official Czech news agency reported.

He said "panic" surged in the European Union because of some of the U.S. measures, the news agency reported.

Topolanek said he was "quite alarmed" at Geithner's plan.

"He talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans," Topolanek said. "All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell."

Topolanek is no longer PM even of his country, the useless troublemaker: Czech industrial output fell 23pc in January. The presidency of the EU carries no executive powers at all, yet he managed to make a lot of problems for all Europeans in the few weeks he was in charge.

A few weeks ago, as stocks were tumbling below 7000, the MSM and talking heads were chiming in with various explanations. The overarching consensus seemed to be that "Wall Street is not happy with Barack Obama's big spending plans".

As we learned last night, Obama is not planning to reduce any spending and appears to be looking to spend even more than originally thought. On top of that, he also indicated that he wants more control (ability to seize?) and regulation over failing businesses if necessary to ensure the economy is not devastated. Surely Wall Street wouldn't be happy with this right?

Imagine my surprise then as I watched stocks rise last week into this week and even again this morning. Why? Seems that home sales rose 4.7 percent in February - exceeding economists expectations. This seems to be the diffacto reason for the uptick.

What's my point? I am trying to point out that BOB and his plans were never in fact the reason for stocks below 7000. They didn't have a good answer for why, so they scapegoated BOB. BOB is still spending and stocks are up.

My suggestion? Turn off the TV and read TOD.

No one's bothering to post this stuff anymore?

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

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending March 20, down 45 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 82.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production fell last week, averaging 8.7 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 3.7 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.4 million barrels per day last week, up 204 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged nearly 9.2 million barrels per day, 413 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 449 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased 3.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 356.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories fell last week while gasoline blending components inventories rose during this same time. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased last week by 0.6 million barrels and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of average range for this time of year.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 19.1 million barrels per day, down by 3.2 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged nearly 9.1 million barrels per day, up by 0.7 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand has averaged about 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 9.0 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand is 5.1 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Cushing inventories are down over 2 millions barrels.

I checked the DB because I was hoping for some reckless speculation regarding imports which were already growing last week.
We know OPEC was cutting when the stuff that's coming in the ports was shipped so where's the stuff coming from? Still more cuts in imports from exporting countries such as Japan? Depleting floating storage and faster takers?

Leanan is still out; she's the one who always posts it. What you have to do now is reply to your own post and quote what was expected ;-)

Sorry, I go to the gym on Wednesday mornings. Between that and my own post up, I am having a hard time covering all bases.

No apology needed Gail. You are doing a bang up job - as always!

These inventory reports will be ho-hum until the peak of the 2009 hurricane season, at which point the right storm at the wrong place could/would result in a lagged inventory draw and the cutting off of gasoline at the end of certain known delivery pipelinse. See, for example, Gas Shortages?: This Week in Petroleum - September 24 Posted by Gail the Actuary on September 26, 2008

Does anyone know of anything done since September 24 to prevent this from reoccurring?

Does anyone know of anything done since September 24 to prevent this from reoccurring?

I'm still walking to work. Other than that, nothing.

Colonial Pipeline talked about adding another pipeline to Atlanta, which supposedly would help (although one does need oil at the other end--it seems like that was the problem last time--with all of our oil from the Gulf, if there is a shortage, we get hit).

Anyhow, the additional pipeline has since been cancelled, due to the reduction in oil usage.

Who cares about other people's expectations?

There will be more numbers out at 1:00 that will be a little easier to look at.

US inventories are clearly rising. I think the Cushing inventories have more to do with the difference in price between WTI and other types of crude. Also, with less contango now, perhaps less desire to buy and hold for the future.

The weekly data on consumption is hard to interpret, because historically the data has been so inaccurate. It shouldn't be too bad on gasoline use, but may be flakey for other products. For gasoline, it says that use is actually up a little from last year, for the four weeks ended March 20, 2009.

Gasoline use last year: 8,996
Gasoline use this year: 9,058
Percentage Change: +0.7%

Products other than gasoline - Last year: 10,752
Products other than gasoline - This year: 10,054
Percentage Change: -6.5%

These are some graphics from this weeks TWIP.

Crude oil stocks are clearly at a very high level. There is not much of a discontinuity between weekly and monthly data, so one can expect the weekly are reasonable estimates of the actual amounts.

Refinery inputs continue at a level below the expected level, although perhaps they are edging up a bit. Again, not much discontinuity between weekly and monthly data, so we can probably believe the weekly numbers.

Gasoline demand is edging up. There is a small gap between weekly and monthly, with weekly higher. If we assume this gap persists, actual demand is probably at or below last year's.

This is one where the weekly data is almost not helpful. There is a huge gap between the weekly and the monthly, with the weekly 400,000 bpd higher than monthly--more than a 10% difference on 3,800,000 barrels per day use. This kind of gap seemed to prevail all of last year, so my first guess is that the weekly is still very much overstated, and actual use is down even more than indicated, perhaps to as low as 3,400,000 bpd. But it is possible that they finally got their act together, and the estimates are now properly recognizing exports, in which case the 3,800,000 bpd shown most recently might be right.


I wonder if weekly supply data might slowly come back into line with reality based on some recent OPEC data. Part of the problem seems to be the relatively sudden doubling of US exports of petroleum product to 2mb/day. Now according to OPEC, US exports in February 2009 were 1.56mb/day against 2.06 in Feb 2008. This is not yet reflected in latest EIA monthly data (which only goes up to December and that was 1.86mb/day) so I'm not sure how reliable this OPEC estimate is.

If a major part of the problem was the weekly data export model breaking down because of atypical exports then it should start to come back into line if a more typical export pattern is beginning to take shape again. Need to keep an eye on US product export figures for the next few months though to establish whether the downwards export trend reported by OPEC towards historical levels is reflected in upcoming EIA figures.

Also most of the surge in exports seemed to be in distillates (but gasoline and everything else surged as well) which may help explain why that had the least accurate weekly estimate.

If OPEC are correct though it's a bit strange that they seem to know what US exports were several months before the EIA does. Edit: Actually it appears OPEC are just using the US weekly estimates for their monthly figure so if they are still out then maybe exports could still be a lot higher and the EIA weekly model could still be just as wrong. Still, it's worth keeping an eye on.

Edit: Actually it appears OPEC are just using the US weekly estimates for their monthly figure so if they are still out then maybe exports could still be a lot higher and the EIA weekly model could still be just as wrong. Still, it's worth keeping an eye on.

If one looks at the numbers, it looks like the weekly export estimates may be getting closer to the correct amounts. Total exports are now being put in at 1,651 kbpd in the weekly data. The weekly estimates for December were 1,395 kbpd, which was low, even compared to November weekly export estimates. Looking at recent data, I would expect exports in the 1,800 to 1,900 range, if exports have not started to decrease. This suggests that there might be a gap of 200, not all of which would be in distillate. This is better than the 400 kbpd distillate gap shown in the graph (relating to December).

I enjoyed this on NPR this morning:

In Quiverfull Movement, Birth Control Is Shunned

Yep, God will provide.

I'm agnostic about the supernatural and operate as a functional atheist, so what I'm about to say has nothing to do with religiosity. I have three living children and one grandchild. My wife and I lost one child as an infant. I wish we had more children & grandchildren. Were my wife not an insulin dependent diabetic, we would have had more. Children & grandchildren represent one's Darwinian fitness but perhaps more importantly to immediate concerns, in the post-PO economically depressed near future it will be groups of individuals who share genes that control resources and exercise influence in the local community. Call these groups "clans" or "gangs" as you will. For all the talk about the need for "community" one simply can't trust unrelated people in times of acute stress. It will be groups of brothers, uncles, & first cousins that cooperate in food production & mutual defense. Perhaps also in raiding & banditry. This is the way it's always been. This said, the necessity for massive immediate human population reduction is paramount. All of you socially responsible people who choose to have no or few children have my appreciation. But if I can help it it will be my genes in future generations struggling for survival, however futile such struggle may be. Descendants may be doomed but if they never exist in the first place they don't even get the chance to make the struggle. Does such a position make me a hypocrite? Do I care?

Yes, you are a hypocrite. You rail about the destruction of the biosphere, but fecundity is the primary planet killer.

I agree. I think that you should refrain from reproducing so that my descendants might have better opportunities in whatever circumstances the future holds for them. Please avoid hypocrisy at all costs.

hypocrite doesn't even begin to describe it...

You rail about the destruction of the biosphere, but fecundity is the primary planet killer.

"Population growth is a threat but it pales against the greed of the rich".

One can argue about what is the primary killer.

I think now is the time for a nice pandemic, don't you? It was very effective for population control for a long time...

While I tend to side with your view of religion, I think you are missing something basic. Consider a situation of a field with a bunch of cows grazing. If the number of cows is at just the level of sustainable grass production (ignoring seasonal changes), if 1 more cow is added, the whole herd will eventually starve. They will eat the grass down to bare ground and kill what might grow back as the herd starves.

Your addition of more than the replacement number of kids (and those mentioned in the article) might be viewed in similar perspective, IMHO. If 75% of the population limits their procreation to 2 kids per couple and the other 25% has 4 or more, the population will still increase with predictable results. As you say, you don't care, as long as YOU and YOUR genetic material are (presumably) able to survive...

E. Swanson

I'm not missing your logic at all Black_Dog. Those cows can't comprehend the situation and decide to insist the bull wear a condom. Hence, in the absence of predation &/or disease those cows certainly will exceed K, thereby setting the stage for their own population collapse. As humans we conceivably can appreciate the situation and voluntarily decide to limit our individual & collective birthrate. But have we done so? Well, the Chinese have made a stab at it, perhaps. In general, tho, humans have acted no differently than those cows, or any other species of organism, would do. Don't expect me to sacrifice my own Darwinian fitness for the sake of the group, when effectively no one else is willing to do so.

At the risk of beating a dead cow, are you sure that your offspring will indeed be a good fit to the changing environment in which you will soon be trapped? You mentioned your wife is diabetic. If her unfortunate situation is due to some genetic aberration, might humanity be better off were her offspring not to have children? How many of those future generations of D-dogs will be insulin dependent and where will that insulin come from if TSHTF? Will they then be able to survive or will they too hit a genetic dead end, after much suffering?

Big issues there, I'm sorry to say. Both China and India have tried population control, with China's efforts appearing to have more success, which is most likely due to their government's ability to impose harsh penalties on those who fail. I do agree that as things are going, there may be no better solution than to breed like rabbits and await the outcome of the 4 horsemen's tour of duty. Hey, send me a rabbit...

E. Swanson

He has a point, however uncomfortable it may make many.

Fit for the situation or not, his descendants will be there.

Yes but so what...why does anyone consciously care whether their genes vs. someone elses are around to enjoy the dieoff? I guess I would rather know that someone else's offspring will suffer than consciously bring my own little gene-vehicles into the world knowing whats coming just for the satisfaction of saying yay!! my genes win.

Darwinsdog has much that is interesting to say, but I find the shrill ranting against any kind of efforts at powerdown, transitioning to a saner world etc juxtaposed against equally shrill defense of human-robotic reproductive impulses to be...incongruous

...why does anyone consciously care whether their genes vs. someone elses are around to enjoy the dieoff?

Why indeed? Why refrain from reproducing if you will be dead and neither know or care what becomes of your offspring? Is it not so that you can self-righteously feel superior to those who obey the Darwinian imperative to replicate their genes in offspring? Please do forego "the satisfaction of saying yay!! my genes win." Let those genes die with your phenotype for all anyone else cares.

Darwinsdog has much that is interesting to say, but I find the shrill ranting against any kind of efforts at powerdown..

All I ever have to say is in favor of powerdown. Either you haven't been paying attention or you are mistaking me for a different poster.

Type 1 or juvenile onset diabetes is an autoimmune disease. There is a genetic component to it but it is a quantitative trait and the genetics are complex. The proximate cause is exposure to some foreign antigen the immune system then mistakes a cell surface protein of similar primary structure for on the pancreatic beta cells. My adult children and 11 yr. old granddaughter aren't diabetic and have so far proven healthy in every way. It's possible that diabetes will crop up in their descendants over the generations. I won't be alive to know. Anyone, no matter how apparently healthy, could be carrying an array of deleterious or even lethal alleles in heterozygous condition. In fact, on average, everyone carries about one lethal allele. These considerations are no reason to refrain from reproducing. If they were, no one should reproduce.

Arguments about the "good of the group/race/species" are specious. No individual organism of any species, with the possible exception of a few altruistic humans, ever modify their behavior for the good of the group. And all those altruistic humans who refrain from reproducing for the good of the group manage to accomplish is to remove the genes that code for nervous system structures that process or promote altruism from the population. Follow your instincts, I say, and let the future take care of itself. Nature will take its course no matter what we do or don't do.

I'm sure I'll have no trouble getting some unrelated people to join me on my survivalist farm when the time comes. Your justification for breeding is a load of crap. It's really your selfish genes talking.

..I'll have no trouble getting some unrelated people to join me on my survivalist farm..

Probably not, but will you trust them as much as you'd trust your own son or nephew? If so, it won't be your farm for long.

It's really your selfish genes talking.

Exactly so, or rather, it's me speaking for them, since genes can't type.

Probably not, but will you trust them as much as you'd trust your own son or nephew? If so, it won't be your farm for long.

In many if not most immediate and extended families, the trust between and among siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. would most likely be strong. But not in all families; treachery, deception, or betrayal can, do, and will occur when power, money, land, or other fundamental human wants are at stake. Shakespeare wrote about it in King Lear and some other plays, and the British royal family (and other monarchies around the world as well), organized crime syndicates, drug cartels, and the like all have a long and colorful history of fratricide, patricide, and such.

So even if you and your son or nephew are holding down the literal fort, they might be plotting against you regardless.

Would such behavior be more or less likely in non-royal, mostly law-abiding, and not inordinately wealthy families, when TSHTF and land, food, shelter, NPK, liquid or solid fuels, clean water, etc. are scarce yet highly coveted? Who knows. We might know in a few more decades at most.

A powerful need to maintain the delusion that some of us are on the side of the angels and a force for the good of the planet feeds the self righteousness expressed here so often.
hypocrisy is universal.
Survival won't be.

;) Bingo!

Hypocrits reproduce.

Why would character traits for suicide and self-sacrifice for the collective good persist? Are they mis-wirings of sacrifice for one's children and tribe, which share genetic material?

Going to war to save your family makes sense. Doing so to save an abstract society or nation does not.

"Going to war to save your family makes sense. Doing so to save an abstract society or nation does not."


This is the way it's always been.

This has become your standard discursive move - veneer of science based on generic statements about genetics followed by the unsubstantiated claim that it's always been that way. The underlying suggestion being that it is the genetics that predetermined the existence of your claimed "way it is."

I have one child that shares my DNA and two who are adopted. First hand experience, the love I feel for one is no different, no greater, than for the other. (For anyone who would like the experience of having children, but are concerned about bringing new children into the world, adoption is the path.)

As for "the ties that bind," - fratricide, patricide and matricide are words for a reason.

The reality is, your argument based on trusting one's relations more than one's community is based on a social setting in a modern world. Further, you can not demonstrate that your interpretation was the case in the past, no matter how many times you assert it.


Redundant. Sorry.

I have one child that shares my DNA and two who are adopted. First hand experience, the love I feel for one is no different, no greater, than for the other.

I don't doubt your word on this shaman, but please do review the statistics on murder/abuse/neglect of foster versus biological children by their parents. The fact is that genetically unrelated children are more likely to suffer injury at the hand of a foster parent on the scale of two orders beyond that inflicted on biological children. "Fratricide, patricide and matricide" notwithstanding, genetically related people are much less likely to kill or seriously injure one another than unrelated family members are apt to indulge in. Read Daly & Wilson's "Homicide" (1988) for a starter. Kin selection is a powerful evolutionary force, whether you realize it or not. If or when you lose your temper with your kids, take care that your ire doesn't disproportionately fall upon your step kids, as it's overwhelmingly statistically likely to do.

Foster parents are not adoptive parents. The motivation for being a foster parent is where you should look for an explanation of the stats you note.

Nor are adoptive parents necessarily step parents.

Don't know the Daly and Wilson book, but I do know that the single biggest category of murders is "crimes of passion." Certainly, passion is never an issue between family members.

Kin selection is a powerful evolutionary force,

and because darwinsdog says it, it must be true. Assertion does not create fact, no matter how many times you repeat it.

and because darwinsdog says it, it must be true. Assertion does not create fact, no matter how many times you repeat it.

I'm a liar so if I say something it can't be true. Anything asserted must be a lie, and the more times the lie is repeated the less true it is. Such is your level of "logic" here shaman. What's wrong, does what I assert hit too close to home? I detect a level of emotional involvement out of all proportion to the relevance of the topic. Have you been meaner to your adopted kids than to your biological son or daughter?

Come back when you've perused the exhaustive literature on kin selection & reciprocal altruism.

A rather pathetic attempt.

Make an assertion, back it up. Stop with the mumbo jumbo that suggests everything is genetic because darwinsdog knows the answer. That's all I'm asking.

And just so you know, I haven't seen my biological daughter in over ten years because her mother won't allow it. Feel better?

And just so you know, I haven't seen my biological daughter in over ten years because her mother won't allow it. Feel better?

It would be interesting to hear your daughter's mother tell why she apparently doesn't feel it's appropriate or safe for you to be around the girl.

There are some seriously messed up women these days that have it in their head that fathers are no longer necessary except for the check. Some will even plan the whole thing and is no longer a rare predicament. Just as men were once assumed to own their children, many women today feel that they are completely entitled to raise their kid(s). They often hire attorneys that will use every dirty trick they can, and it works. Restraining orders are very common and without just cause. Don't be so quick to assume that a father isn't qualified to at least visit with their child. Divorce and child custody have changed significantly over the years.

Thanks for the defense AKbound. It is appreciated, but not needed. I don't know what darwinsdogs problem is. I questioned his logic, indeed the entire basis of the construction of his belief about reality. And his response is to attack me on a personal level.

I once thought he was a man with some good ideas, a quick mind, but an odd foundation for his thoughts. I now understand that I was mistaken. It happens.

God may well bless them with your assets.

Jon Stewart was on it last week,

He said that after admonishing Africans that Condoms would cause more AIDS, Pope Delirious also helpfully offered that Smoking Cures Cancer, and that a nice pick-me-up in the morning is Heroin.

I wonder if we're going to get a Vatican 3.0?

part of the quiverfull movement is to drown out by sheer number of population non-quiverfull evangelical Christian people in the government.

You mean it's a mechanism for quiverfull evangelicals to drown out non-quiverfull people of all types.

It makes perfect sense when you look at Europe and their population-support-by-immigration mechanism, and the US immigrant-driven growth. The demograph with the most kids soonest wins the contest of exponential growth.....until we all lose, and even then they'll probably still win, relatively speaking.

It makes even more sense close to home. We may well starve big families in Zimbabwe, but in the US we'll feed white Christian kids long after we've maligned other minorities and sent them packing. Darwin smiles and Malthus nods approvingly.

You got it Paleo.

Reproduce, and contribute to population driven ecosystem collapse. Fail to reproduce, and have your Darwinian fitness reduced to zilch.

To my mind, this is the real "Devil's bargain" Joni Mitchell speaks of in her song "Woodstock."

Personally, I'll worry about my own fitness & let the biosphere take care of itself. If everyone feels the same as me, we're fucked. Thing is, virtually everyone does feel the same as me, whether they articulate these feelings or not. Can't be helped, every organism is programmed by natural selection to seek to maximize its own fitness. This being the case... we're fucked. QED

At least I'm an honest hypocrite.

Why in the world should I worry about my "Darwinian fitness"? That's my gene's problem, not mine. Genes are "selfish" exactly in the sense that they "work" for themselves, not the individual nor the species. Yes, they control the behavior of individuals to a large degree, but to the extent that I can recognize their ruse and choose to do my choice of actions instead, the hell with my genes. I consider that the definition of freedom.

..to the extent that I can recognize their ruse and choose to do my choice of actions instead, the hell with my genes. I consider that the definition of freedom.

Alright! Show those genes who's boss. Extinct 'em by not having kids. That'll show 'em! :>

But who cares about "Darwinian fitness" when they're deciding how many kids to have?
I know I didn't. It was how many before I couldn't manage life easily on my terms...the number is two I discovered. Is my (and my husband's) "Darwinian fitness" lower than people who have more?
Isn't it simplistic to say that is so?
For example, I could take the money I'm saving by not having more kids and use it to buy farmland. My two kids will have a precious resource that would be impossible if they had more siblings.

We have huge savings by not having more kids....I think I would have needed to buy a car if we had had more kids. We've saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not buying a car I think although exact numbers are hard to calculate. Food, clothes, education. It all adds up.

This saved money can be spent on increasing the "Darwinian fitness" of one's own few offspring: their education (so they can get degrees in finance at an Ivy League U. where they can make friends with people who will have power in the govt who will make sure the rich keep their elite status).

Actually I can speak from experience about this. And lots of people at this college were very clever, high SAT scores and all that. They didn't usually have more than 1 or 2 siblings because their parents couldn't have managed to pay for the ed. of more. Lots of students went into finance or law (govt). They are now controlling your govt. and getting lots of benefits from their (and their former dorm roommates') positions of power and wealth. They have health care. They have access to nice things, travel, can read and understand about peak oil and plan accordingly. They probably don't have more than 2 or 3 kids either because they want their kids to have good educations, which are expensive.

Meanwhile, someone with lots of siblings may have economic disadvantages which leads them to suffer. Working in a factory with dangerous fumes, for example....

I think if you look at society, the people who have good food, access to health care, a safe living environment (THESE things are real "Darwinian fitness" IMO) are the people who generally limit their offspring JUST SO they and their offspring can have access to these things.

But who cares about "Darwinian fitness" when they're deciding how many kids to have?
I know I didn't.

The very fact that you had kids demonstrates that you acted on instincts forged by natural selection for the sake of fitness considerations, whether you were consciously aware of the fact or not.

Is my (and my husband's) "Darwinian fitness" lower than people who have more?
Isn't it simplistic to say that is so?

Yes, and yes. The parents of two children have lower fitness than the parents of three. But you are correct that it is simplistic to say so, since the parents of two children may well end up with more grandchildren than the parents of three. Fitness is a function of number of descendents and degree of relatedness (children .5, grandchildren .25, etc.).

This saved money can be spent on increasing the "Darwinian fitness" of one's own few offspring: their education..

Education level tends to be negatively correlated with fitness. Education would only contribute to fitness, on average, if this correlation was positive.

..the people who have good food, access to health care, a safe living environment (THESE things are real "Darwinian fitness" IMO)..

Certainly adequate nutrition, access to health care, and a safe environment can contribute to fitness, by reducing the morbidity & mortality of offspring thereby increasing their potential to produce offspring in turn, but "fitness" has a very specific definition and these things aren't directly relevant to that definition.

The best approach would be to father a bunch of welfare kids from single teen moms. They have a short generational cycle, somebody else pays for the upkeep, and education tends to be low.

Your average rap-wannabee thug is WAY more optimal than any of us.

The best approach would be...

Or, if you happen to be male, contribute to the sperm bank often. Good point about short generational cycle too. All else being equal, those who reproduce the earliest enjoy the highest fitness, especially if this trend is sustained over many generations.

I still say your view is short-term. Slow and steady wins the race, remember? The turtle, not the hare, in other words.

The people who are focused on getting all the good things to decrease mortality and morbidity are the educated and they do have fewer kids BUT those kids are more likely to reproduce and their kids will as well.

The people who have many children but not resources will have a tough time to ensure that those children are in a position later to reproduce.

But anyway in most cases no one thinks about multi-generational survival when they decide to have kids. They want a cute baby or maybe two. Then they find out how much work it is. Then they stop having more. It's like eating. You stop when you're full. It's not fun after awhile, it's exhausting and incredibly physically demanding. Fun, yes, but also it takes a lot out of you.

That makes a good story but fails when it comes to natural selection. Short generational cycles mean the organism is better able to deal with faster changing conditions. A species of rabbit will be able to adapt to a new environment faster then a species tortoise thus out-competing the tortoise and driving it to extinction if they were trying to exploit the same niche.

I wasn't talking about real hares and tortoises: it's a metaphor for taking the long view, which is multi-generational, and this means we'll never know whose fitness was the most because hundreds of years will be needed to pass down a verdict.

Anyway, the ancients have a view (which I share): "moderation in all things". Eating lots of extra food will lead to obesity and health problems, overwork to stress and other health problems, buying too much leads to debt and depression. And having lots of children can bring problems which will haunt the whole family: lack of enough good food, lack of money, of time, of resources, of soap and water, of smiles (mother is too tired to do anything except yell), of health (mother has a prolapse uterus from giving birth again and again!).

I will stick with moderation and play it safe.

That being said, there is an interesting trend here in Japan which points to the future. Single women who were quite happy to never marry and have kids are finding, as their salaries are cut (everyone's salaries are being cut) that they suddenly need a husband. He must, of course, have a salary. It's purely economic. No one is bashful about saying this. These women are called "marriage hunters". I think the men are actually relieved that the women are interested after years of being ignored. Dating and introduction services are being deluged.

As the farming sector finds itself in an increasingly winning position (in that no one can forego eating) I can imagine that women will want farmers and other food producers as husbands. It hasn't been like that here for a long time, maybe over a century is my guess. Quite a change in thinking!

When it's all over, I bet that people will have more kids and start earlier. Women have enjoyed their freedom, working in offices and keeping little poodles instead of having families. That is fine of course, but in the future maybe that won't be an option. Anyway raising kids in the country might be easier than in the city. One reason people have so few kids here is that they don't like to live in small apartments with more than 1 or 2 kids...it's too difficult.

I am not saying I hope that people have more kids. But Jim Rogers has pedicted a baby boom for this country.

The most amazing thing to me about these reproductive threads is how people are obsessing about genetics. Do you all think that your alleles are so spectacular that its the most important attribute you can decide to spread? Yes biologist love to theorize that successful gene spreading is everything but seriously we are just not simple programmed animals. We have an unique intelligence not seen in other species. But while black-listed scientists have shown that intelligence is obviously hereditary, nurture still makes up for about half the equation. Memes are a far better way of duplicating oneself than genetics.

To paraphrase a classic:
Have all the kids you want, just let me teach them.

But while black-listed scientists have shown that intelligence is obviously hereditary

Not as much as you might think. Intelligence is the product of so many different gene networks that sets of even genius parents or dunce parents can still be expected, on average, to produce offspring of average intelligence.

Of course that statement is correct. I descend from average parents and have an average sibling but personally rank in the top percentile on IQ tests. Years ago I read an interesting book called "The bell curve". All about how intelligence using statistics. There was a course a big boo-hoo about the book since it analysed race and intelligence as well the hereditary components. Oh, according to the book Asians have an IQ average higher than any other ethnicity.

I'm of the opinion that while many genes control for the many types of intelligence factors, developmental physiology may be where the missing pieces of the puzzle lie. Geniuses might not be genetic freaks, but malformed freaks. Still things like education can account for up to about +/- 10 points on IQ test (gotta love the twin studies).

I'm all for positive eugenics programs, meaning that traits are selected for as opposed to the nazi way. Why not make ourselves better? At least it might make up for the lost natural selection.

I don't really think it is a question of reproduce/fail to reproduce. I also don't think that maximizing one's reproduction is an ultimately successful strategy. It might be so in a resource rich environment, but in a resource poor environment is seems to me that a large number of organisms will do more poorly than a small number of organisms.

If one characterizes the "clan" as more bodies to acquire more resources then the argument holds. But if the "clan" is characterized as more mouths to feed from a diminishing resource base, the argument is weakened.

I don't believe mere numbers can determine which of the above situations/arguments the future holds for any given area.

Reproduce/minimally reproduce - the ultimate fate of anyone's bloodline is probably just another crapshoot.

My Opinion,


I am of the opinion that this little blue marble is better served by having as many empty quivers as possible when we start the machete' moshpits. This is the best way to reduce the scale, duration, and frequency of the conflicts ahead for Optimal Overshoot Decline.

The genetic assertion of Hans Selye's General Adaption Syndrome [GAS] can mindlessly propel us into greater eco-devastation and magnify the Undershoot phase of the Overshoot process, thus senselessly pushing us closer to possible extinction. Our capacity for violence vastly exceeds our ability to culturally adapt/evolve during extreme planetary and human stress. My feeble two cents as I am not an expert on Darwinian forces.

In this instance I think Darwin and Malthus just play their parts in another rousing rendition of "Tragedy of the Commons". Each may personally benefit from having a large family though overall we suffer greatly from a growing population.

As with all such tragic situations, a solution exists -- childbirth credits -- which has zero chance of being implemented and far less than that (give me some artistic license here) of being implemented fairly. I'm sure even it were implemented the average Westerner could still manage to buy up some black market credits from a third-world country.

I am of the opinion that this little blue marble is better served by having as many empty quivers as possible when we start the machete' moshpits.

I think you hit the head of the nail. The reason that the hiarchy worked so well in the past was because how prevalent fear is. While many people today think highly of their assumed ability in firearm quarrel, very few would welcome a face-to-face handweapon conflict. Most would succumb by fear and submit just like in a pack of dogs. However that is why humans will not become extinct by conflict.

Great chat with Nassim Taleb and Daniel Kahneman;
(nassim talks about his new book about how to structure ourselves after the crash)

"Reflection on a Crisis"


Also Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone over at democracy now


If you have not read his piece "The Big Takeover" shame on you.

I have read "The Big Takeover". I highly recommend it also.

Matt has also done some video interviews, Rachel Madow, and Laura Flanders IIRC were the two I saw earlier today.

Excellent comments on "biochar" by Monbiot.

My take: as long as we're mining enormous amounts of coal (which, like charcoal, is almost pure carbon), there is no chance that charcoal would be "buried". It would cost a lot of money (and energy), and why bury some carbon while we mine other carbon to burn? Like "sequestration", it'll never actually happen, for economic reasons. Unless, that is, humans start valuing some things (like a future for our grandkids) more than they value corporate profits. Don't hold your breath.

Exactly. After I scoop the ashes from the fireplace insert, I screen them to remove any charcoal which I then return to the fire. Charcoal is too valuable to bury. I may as well bury unburnt wood as bury charcoal.

there is no chance that charcoal would be "buried".

Sure there is - if you can show that there is some benefit.

It would cost a lot of money (and energy), and why bury some carbon while we mine other carbon to burn?

1) To change the Ph - charing pine needles as an example.
2) To reduce the transportation cost - water is expensive to ship and compost has water weight. Char doesn't have the water weight.
3) A physical change. Ever tried to break a cow leg? How about a charred leg?
4) To 'de-contaminate' - burning infected tomato plants means the virus has no reasonable chance of being passed on. If you charred Mercury ladened plants, you reduce the Mercury in the remains (but pass the problem to someone else)

And the big one:

The act of adding BioChar to the soil somehow improves it. Thus far, there are many people who want to believe it does, and you can see visible growth changes when active charcoal is soaked in Ammonia-like compounds and added to the soil. The dark soils in the Amazon also have charred bits - but Mrs. Ighram thinks that charing is possible in a hot compost pile.

Don't hold your breath.

If the benefits of char can be proven - the breathing will continue.

These folks in SE Wisconsin are building their own wood gasification systems to generate heat and a liquid fuel. The biochar is a byproduct. In the sandy soils of central Wisconsin, we would use the char to improve the soil's ability to keep chemicals from leaching into the groundwater.

The Jefferson County folks will be at the 20th Anniversary Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, WI this summer. http://www.the-mrea.org

In the sandy soils of central Wisconsin, we would use the char to improve the soil's ability to keep chemicals from leaching into the groundwater.

Eliane Inghram doesn't think Biochar is a good plan - do you have some scholarlly work on biochar working in the climent of Wisconsin?

Off the cuff, I can provide this:

I am not sure why our colder climate would impact the filtering effect that I am contemplating. The soils here are thousands of acres of pure beach sand from old glacial lake Wisconsin. Very little binds to the sand, so we get a lot of ag chemicals in the groundwater.

Coal Share of US Electricity Falling

The EIA Electric Power Monthly just came out and it estimates that coal generation as a percentage of US electricity continued to fall in 2008. See details at:


or in the Huffington Post Green section.



AIG Executive Writes Resignation Letter, Tells Edward Liddy Where to Stick It

.."I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage ….

.."As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house. The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear...
Wow, I can just imagine the internal back-biting and squabbles inside AIG--this must truly be a lousy, stressful place to work.

All of that may be true and yet it still won't justify the business model or the pay scales. Many people have endured years like that for much less than $100K, let alone a few million. Many people have be screwed on employment deals, too, especially when the business folds.

But we all grow to feel entitled to what we get, and to feel like we should be paid just a tad more than the guy in the next office.

The guy really should be asking himself, "Why did I stay so long, and with paychecks like that why didn't I put back a few million and go do something sane with my life"?

Screw him. They "deserve" their bonus. Total BS. He's lucky he still had a job.

The contracts they are operating under would be null and void if AIG had gone under (declared bankruptcy), which by all rights it should have. Just because the government kept them alive to avoid a collapse of the financial sector, doesn't change the fact that the corporation is no longer a viable entity. The fact that you had nothing to do with the CDS scandal is completely irrelevant. The corporation you had a contract with went bust!

And yes I realize this 165 million in bonuses is all a smoke screen covering up who the 130+ billion in government bailout funds went too.

We should have let AIG fail. The reason we didn't is because the USD (in conjunction with the Fed, the former Investment banks, the Treasury, Congress, and the Executive branch) is the largest Ponzi scheme in history. What else can you call a currency with 60+ trillion in obligations behind it? Everyone from pensioners, people on social security, govt employees, even foreign nations are locked in.


None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

And yet, if the homeowner declares bankruptcy (surprise! he won the right to forego insurance, instead lending the freed-up capital to an ostrich-farm venture that due to events no one could foresee etc. etc.), the plumber will get stiffed fair or not. He seems to have been in a pretty good position to judge this risks of staying employed at AIG. And if it turns out he didn't have the information to judge the risks ... well join the club.

Meantime, he took $millions in cash and bonuses before subprime hit so it's hard to put him at the top of my list of worries.

This was just classic-that the MSM gives this bullshitting grifter press coverage is just ridiculous. What the public doesn't realize is that all this speculation that these firms focus on (and pay ludicrous money to idiots like this) is a zero sum game. My guys are paid to bet against your guys. If my guys win, they get huge bonuses and are considered stars-if your guys lose, they get smaller bonuses which is OK because next year they will win while my guys lose. It is a colossal rip off of the shareholders of all these firms, basically a giant scam run for upper level employees-it isn't a business in any sense at all.

check this chuckle for the day


U.S. official indicates North Korea missile is on pad
I wonder what the strategic repercussions might be if the US & Japan fire a bunch of Patriot ABMs, yet fail to bring this missile [with satellite payload?] down. My guess is that NK, Iran, Russia, and China would feel emboldened to press any perceived advantage, plus the Taliban [and similar elements] in Pakistan would possibly speed up any plans to get control of the Pakistani nukes/missles.

I can't imagine that this missile has a warhead, conventional or nuke. I don't think Jong Il is that stupid.

I can't imagine that this missile has a warhead, conventional or nuke.

Say it has. The bit about 'mutually assured destruction' as a deterrent would then be tested, no?

I don't think Jong Il is that stupid.

Havn't you been listening to the upsell? He's not stupid - he's a madman! Did I mention he's a madman? /snark

(He's got a good life for himself, even if he's not been seen seen for a while. Say his deathbed order is to use a nuke - the good life of the staff that passes down the order would be threatened - so why would they allow it if MAD is a viable deterrent?)

I wonder what the strategic repercussions might be if the US & Japan fire a bunch of Patriot ABMs, yet fail to bring this missile [with satellite payload?] down.

I believe you are asking the wrong question. It should be,

I wonder what the strategic repercussions might be if the US & Japan fire a bunch of Patriot ABMs and bring this missile [with satellite payload?] down.

If they try and miss, NK can stomp and scream about the attempt, then trumpet the failure as proof of the ineptitude/corruption/dissoluteness/whatever of the "West."

If they try and actually do knock it down, it raises the possibility of real armed conflict to at least that of when Clinton almost took out Yongbyon back in '94, which was narrowly averted by sending Carter, instead. I've no doubt Kim Il Sung would have countered with some serious action.

Things are different now, and I think NK knows the fragility of their situation. I don't think they want a war and I don't think they believe they can win one. BUT, all it would take would be for China to support the move and it could happen. I have no doubt China sees itself as supplanting the US. I also think they believe the US must be seriously weakened for that to ultimately happen. I expect them to abandon the dollar and Treasuries at some point. If they were ready for that, they might green light NK action. Knocking down their missile would be a perfect opportunity (though probably still a small probability as I don't think China *is* ready to deal with such a crisis at this time).

Given I currently sit less than ten miles from the NK border, I vote for no shooting of anything. NK is not going to try to drop a bomb on Japan, so let them shoot their missile. Shooting it down won't change anything, but will put a whole lot of people at real risk. I'm not a fan of NK, but am not a fan of their artillery, either. Unless US and/or Japanese forces see a true threat, patience is the order of the day.


What it needs to do is explode on the pad during launch.

That has been known to happen during first time new missile launches. Rocket science actually IS rather difficult.

China does seem to be itching for a fight to prove their military capabilities. If they did "liberate" NK they would be recognized globally as a superpower economically and militarily. Especially if they did decisively and alone. They may not want to waste their strength on occupation but they certainly could spare their enormous reserves after a victory. A success would certainly increase their international support and diminish the USA's.

Why would China invade NK? NK isn't a threat to China, and there isn't much loot to pillage there.
China would just isolate itself by doing that. No one believes in "liberating" after Iraq, and China's history in Tibet isn't a good sign.
The Russian would become very suspicious of China, and might stop sending them gas and oil. Taiwan and Japan would beef up their military.

Does NK have any artillery pointed at China or is it all aimed at Seoul?

Every military force needs to test their capabilities. Many weapons systems are only marginally tested before conflict. For example the patriot missile was actually useless against scuds during the first gulf war. Also a nation full of green soldiers is not a good indicator of their fighting capacity. Its often been better to field-train against a lessor enemy to prepare against your greater enemies or to persuade them from fighting you.

That is exactly what US has been doing since the 2nd WW. Some say its a runaway defence spending train but those in command know how important actual combat is. Even if its not for a physical resource or geographic location the reward is both in military intelligence and veteran soldiers. Remember its always just masturbation until you do it.

China does do some military exercises with Russia but for the most part is militarily isolated. Tibet happened along time ago and even really be considered a combative test. China is very eager to know their capabilities and is poised to jump into a conflict of some type. NK is the perfect target even if it is a supposed communist country. The world view is that their leader is insane and the people practically worship him. That they are prisoners who under constant threat of slavery if they misbehave. NK nukes are a threat to the entire world.

There is no reason that the majority of countries would not welcome china removing the leadership of NK. If the US did it, then probably half would object. Its a perfect opportunity if china can pull it off without too many losses.

Disclaimer: I'm not advocating war even though it does lower population. I'm also not advocating regime change. It angered me immensely when the US attacked the sovereign nations of Afghanistan and Iraq under the guise of liberation and fighting terrorists. The Taliban were the legitimate government and fought a war greater than the first Americans did for their independence. I'm just saying if I was the leader of china...

China and Vietnam had a low grade conflict for quite a few years. I read a PLA paper on treating 70 battle casualties with artificial blood (about 20 years ago).
I also question your "eager to test their army" hypothesis. My reading of the technocrats in charge of China is that they lack the militarism so common in the USA. They see more clearly than we do the costs, disruptions and "unexpected consequences" of military adventures.


This talk of China attacking NK is coming from where? It makes as much sense as the US attacking Canada. The two nations are friendly and have full diplomatic relations.

If China feels the need or desire to manage NK more closely, it will do so politically, not militarily. That is, they will install a NK regime of their choosing, and simply take what they want in terms of resources and ports under the cover of diplomatic relations and trade agreements.


China is a superpower and even if it affluence is mostly by diplomacy and economics it still must have a formidable military. They have not tested it for a long time and my gut feeling is that they will at some point. Most likely it will be at smaller countries but maybe they will wait for a clash with the west. Obviously they will keep as low key as possible but testing is necessary. They have developed a whole arsenal of air and naval weapons but have never used them in conflict. Don't forget that the "art of war" was written there. They know all about how to go about planning to win. Maybe I am wrong about this, but why are they fueling their military so?

It is hard enough to make an atomic bomb; we still don't know for absolute certain if NK's test actually worked or fizzled. Making a bomb small enough to be boosted into near-orbit is quite a bit more difficult. As is building a missile with the throw weight to put even a small, miniaturized warhead into orbit. Then you've got to marry the two and make sure that everything works.

I have no access to any classified intel, but based upon the limited open sources I've seen I have little reason to think that NK is anywhere close to having the capability to do all of the above. Maybe some years down the line, but not yet.

US VMT 2001-2008, by sector:

I put two of the lines in bold for legibility. The tradeoff between rural and urban sectors is quite clear. If you want to play around with Traffic Volume Trends data be forewarned that '07 and '08 data are formatted differently than previous years. I can email the corrected numbers to anyone with an interest in this.

Previous discussion of VMT on DB: Permalink |

I would be interested, although I am VERY busy ATM.

Can you give an executive summary ?


Best Hopes for 28 hour days,


Wow, rural interstate has been trending down a long time now. Much longer then I thought. Urban VMT hid it until this last year. (I guess they ran out of equity to refinance).

Thanks for the Brookings links in the other thread. Very interesting.

Can you give an executive summary ?

Of the flaws in the data? '07 has trailing zeros/2nd decimal place, and the occasional apostrophe in front of data, which is the problem with all of '08. Both of these prevented me from making a chart, resulting in another session of plowing through the OO help file, attempting use of loudly delivered invectives, etc., finally Googling the problem which of course usually works: OpenOffice.org Forum :: How do I remove the ' character?

Memmel's posts from last week are far more insightful than anything I could have to say about the trends involved. I just like sharing a good visual aid when there's a need.

I see that nobody has commented on the financial problems in Iraq.

Surely the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed in the illegal and unjustified war, should be paid by the invading nations: USA, UK, Australia etc.

How much infrastructure was destroyed by Americans and not rebuilt, versus how much was rebuilt by Americans and then destroyed by Iraqi's?

Illegal or unjustified is outdated and pointless. Iraq is probably just about to realize that the US money stream is about to turn off without the oil stream turning on, and I suspect they won't like the result.

All of the "invading" nations are worried about their own finances, and will be decreasingly willing to foot bills. That's what it means to win, even if you lose -- you pick the terms.

Sucks to be poor. Sucks to be powerless.

Five minutes after the USA leaves (which will never happen while black gold is there) China will be there with a big fat wad of cash to spend, so the premise that Iraq needs and should be grateful to the USA is very weak.

Brian -- the Chinese are not waiting for us to leave Iraq. Several months ago they were awarded a contract to operate a major oil development project in Iraq. Though they will actually be paid by Iraq to do the work I'm sure their primary interest was to get a nose under the tent for future deals involving securing oil rights. They've been working the same game plan around the world for over 10 years. Additionally a number of other oil deals have been cut with major oil companies. And last I saw none were US companies.

"Illegal or unjustified is outdated and pointless."

God we in the West have short memories. The rest of the world doesn't. They remember CIA and the Shah in 1953. Iraqis remember being bombed into submission by the British, in the 1920s. Afghans remember the atrocities British rule in the 1830s. Muslims remember the "Reconquista" in Spain in the 1200s. They even remember and refer to the Crusades for god-sakes, yet we in the West are already willing to forgive and forget our own invasion that has killed tens of thousands of them from only 6 years ago ??!!

Believe me, to large swaths of the world, the Iraq and Afghan invasions are not 'outdated and pointless'. They are and will continue to be rallying cries for centuries.

Good point. We keep attacking them and killing them in the attempt to force them to remember what a great shining promise capitalist democracy truly is.

Can anyone help me reconcile some numbers in regard to US oil consumption? I keep looking at US oil consumption in two different ways, and come up with vastly different results.

1) An oft-quote statistic is that the US consumes 25% of the world's oil production. For easy math, we'll just say global production is 80 million barrels/day (since 2005 I believe it's been in the low 80s and now it's in the high 70s). That means the US consumes 20 million barrels/day. I often see similar numbers from reports here on theoildrum by Ace, or WT, or Gail etc.

but if I look at the numbers a different way...

2) The EIA states that current (3/20/09) oil stocks in the US are 356.6 million barrels with days of supply being 25.1. That equates to consumption/demand of 14.2 million barrels/day. A year ago (3/21/08) oil stock in the US were 311.8 million barrels which was 21.5 days of supply. That equates to consumption/demand of 14.5 million barrels a day. Neither of these figures is close to the estimate above of 20 million barrels/day. Furthermore, during the US election and the whole media frenzy of "reducing dependence on foreign oil" I had often heard that the US produces only a third of the oil that it consumes. The other two thirds come from imports. Using those statistics along with the EIA numbers of US oil production, I calculate that the US uses around 15.3 (year ago) to 16.2 (today) million barrels/day.

So, in short, using numbers from logic #1 above, the US consumption is around 20 mb/d.
But using number from logic #2 above, the US consumption is 14.5 to 16 mb/d.

Quite a difference. Any thoughts, anyone?

The key here is that crude oil is not the only input.

Here's how you get to 20 mb/day (or about 19 now with demand destruction)

Crude + Natural Gas Liquids + Imports of refined product + "New supply" (biofuels) + "refinery gains".

Here's the breakdown of US product supplied. Currently running at 19,199 mb/day in December 2008 (last published monthly figure) http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_cons_psup_dc_nus_mbblpd_m.htm

And here's today's weekly data which literally sums it all up.

                                     Four Week

(Thousand Barrels per Day)           03/20/09 
Crude Oil Supply
Domestic Production (1)                  5,405
Net Imports (Incl SPR) (2)               9,149
   Gross Imports (Excl SPR)              9,178
   SPR Imports                               0
   Exports                                  29
SPR Stocks W/D or Added                   -185
Other Stocks W/D or Added                 -187
Product Supplied and Losses                  0
Unaccounted-for Crude Oil (3)               12

Crude Oil Input to Refineries           14,194

Other Supply
Natural Gas Liquids Prod. (4)            1,899
Other Liquids New Supply                   600
Crude Oil Product Supplied                   0
Processing Gain                            942 
Net Product Imports (5)                  1,631
   Gross Product Imports (5)             3,239
   Product Exports (5)                   1,608
Prod Stocks W/D or Added (6)(7)           -154

Total Prod Supplied for Domestic Use    19,112

And the historical chart

Thanks undertow. That pretty much sums it up. I was missing close to 5 million barrels

2.0 million barrels in natural gas liquids
0.5 million barrel in new supplies
1.5 million in refined imports
1.0 million in refinery gains

Okay please tell me if I'm wrong but I vaguely remember an article about the US military's oil usage and how its excluded from many of the tallies. Anyone know what they are (and % of US consumption) or is it an estimate only?

144 million brl's or 7 days of US consumption or 7/365=2%


So that 350,000 b/d is not counted as US consumption according to that article. Not overly significant but certainly interesting.

I'd like to offer another example of the enormous potential to reduce our electrical demand. Today, we're upgrading the lighting in four retail outlets. As part of this work, we'll be replacing 566 75-watt halogen PAR38s track heads with 512 Osram Sylvania 24-watt integrated ballast ceramic metal halide PARs. These lamps produce more light than the ones they replace, last four times longer and use less than one-third as much energy. Based on their hours of operation, this one measure alone will save 110,000 kWh/year and perhaps an additional 20,000 to 25,000 kWh/year in related a/c demand.

The client operates some 900 stores across Canada and if they're pleased with the results, it could very well be rolled out nation wide. As a rough guess, we could be looking at something in the order of 120,000 to 150,000 sockets in all, which is a potential load reduction of anywhere from 6 to 8 MW.


Great work! Your continued efforts to produce "Negawatts" is impressive. Amory Lovins would be proud.

E. Swanson

Thanks, Richard. "Saving the world, one light bulb (and ductless heat pump) at a time..."