Drumbeat: April 22, 2009

Apache Fires 6% of Employees, Blaming Low Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp., the biggest independent U.S. oil company by market value, is reducing the size of its global workforce by 6 percent as tumbling energy prices force producers to slash costs.

Cuts at the Houston-based company are based on its worldwide employee count of 3,639 at the end of last year, Bill Mintz, a company spokesman, said today in a telephone interview.

“Because lower commodity prices mean lower cash flow and capital budgets, we’ve reduced our employee ranks to reflect current activity levels,” Mintz said. “We expect the planned reduction will be substantially completed this week.”

Chinese demand only hope for oil sector in 2009

China remains the last hope for stimulating oil demand this year, the president of Energy Intelligence (EI), an energy advisor said yesterday.

Thomas Wallin said that instead of speculations and stockpiling of crude by the Chinese government, actual demand for crude is essential for providing support to the fluctuating prices.

Engineers act to secure future gas supply

Britain has never really had to store gas before because we have had our own ready supply from the North Sea. But production has been declining by around 7pc a year – and exploration activities in the North Sea have plummeted as finance for new projects dries up.

Electric cars: the infrastructure must come first

Mr Reilly said that a closer look at the range and recharging abilities of the Chinese cars showed they weren't very different from technology elsewhere.

What will make China the leader in electric cars, however, is the infrastructure. Again according to GM, China is already able to absorb the impact of a huge switchover to electric vehicles without much new investment.

A nuclear power renaissance? Maybe not.

Laguna Niguel, Calif. (Fortune) -- Three new nuclear power plants in the next ten years, max. That was the consensus among the experts attending Tuesday's morning session on nuclear power at Fortune's Brainstorm: Green conference. Maybe five, said one lonely voice. Either way, that's far from the nuclear renaissance we were reading about just a couple of years ago. What happened?

Scottish Power says Britain needs backup for wind

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain, which aims to install about 30 gigawatts (GW) of wind turbines by 2020, will need to build almost as much backup power generation for calm weather periods, an executive from Scottish Power said on Wednesday.

Montana Biodiesel Company Fails to Pay Farmers

BILLINGS – A Montana biodiesel company, which has received more than $1.6 million in grants and loans from the state and a regional economic development corporation, owes farmers in Montana and North Dakota $1.2 million for crops grown last year.

Students least informed about environmental science are most optimistic

Will problems associated with environmental issues improve in the next two decades? According to an analysis of student performance on PISA 2006--an international assessment of 15-year-olds--students who are the best informed about environmental science and the geosciences are also the most realistic about the environmental challenges facing the world in the next 20 years. Meanwhile, students who are least informed in these areas are the most wildly optimistic that things will improve.

Earth Day Special: Energy and Food in a World of Limited Natural Resources

The world is running out of oil and the evidence is mounting. The term most commonly used in the discussions surrounding first the ceiling in oil discoveries and now more recently the ceiling of oil production is Peak Oil. Peak Oil since the mid 1950s has been argued as theory but their are more convincing arguments than just $4 a gallon gasoline (last summer) that support what should now be deemed as fact. The chances of finding another large oil reserve fall dramatically each day. Another fact that augments this point is that the largest reserves should be the easiest to find and still a major discovery hasn’t happened since Prudhoe Bay in 1969, 40 years ago. Not finding more oil would be well and fine if we simply didn’t use it at all but that’s currently not the case.

U.S. May Never Need More Nuclear, Coal Plants, FERC Head Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. may never need to build new nuclear or coal-fired power plants because renewable energy and improved efficiency can meet future power demand, the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.

“They’re too expensive,” Jon Wellinghoff told reporters today at a press conference in Washington hosted by the U.S. Energy Association. “The last price I saw for a nuke was north of $7,000 a kilowatt. That’s more expensive than a solar system.”

Gas transit via Ukraine to Europe halved in first quarter

KIEV (Xinhua) -- Ukraine transported 17.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe in the first quarter, dropped more than 50 percent compared with the same period of last year, the country's fuel and energy ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ukraine sits on the main transit route for Russia's gas exports to Europe, where a quarter of gas needs is supplied by Russia.

Iran: oil prices to reach $60 if OPEC members cooperate

TEHRAN (Xinhua) -- Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said oil prices will reach 60 U.S. dollars a barrel if OPEC members cooperate, local Press TV reported Wednesday.

"Cooperation and coordination between OPEC members can raise oil prices to 60 dollars a barrel in the third quarter of 2009," Nozari said in an interview.

Exelon plans to build solar power plant on Chicago's South Side

Exelon Corp. will unveil on Wednesday plans to build a $60 million solar power plant on Chicago's South Side, a small step to fighting climate change that leans heavily on government funding due to the high cost of turning sunlight into electricity.

Kinder mulls sending ethanol on Plantation line

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - U.S. oil products pipeline company Kinder Morgan Energy Partners is exploring sending ethanol on the Louisiana to Virginia Plantation duct as business for the alternative motor fuel expands.

"We are evaluating the Plantation pipeline ... as the next possible pipeline system that can handle ethanol," Jim Lelio, a renewable fuels business development director at the company, told the Alternative Fuels & Vehicles conference in Orlando on Tuesday.

Why CEOs want carbon laws

Laguna Niguel, Calif. (Fortune) -- What do CEO Bill Ford of Ford Motor, CEO Jim Rogers of Duke Energy and CEO Bruce Usher of carbon trader EcoSecurities have in common? A deep aversion to unpredictability.

That's why Rogers has been begging for carbon legislation for years -- so he can make big investments in renewables. It's why Ford says he wants a gas tax -- so he can invest in smaller cars. And it's why Usher needs a cap and trade bill from Congress -- to jumpstart carbon trading in the U.S. and catalyze big investments in green technologies. Before it's too late.

"Market mechanisms not only work," Usher said during Tuesday's carbon finance session Fortune's Brainstorm: Green conference. "They work incredibly fast."

President Obama heads to Iowa for Earth Day

DES MOINES — President Obama is expected Wednesday to tout his administration's effort to accelerate the creation of renewable-energy jobs in his first trip as president to Iowa, the nation's No. 2 wind energy producer.

Obama, speaking at a wind turbine tower plant housed in the former Maytag appliance factory in Newton, Iowa, will urge Congress to move forward on legislation to spur that initiative.

National parks getting $750 million

National parks got $750 million in federal economic stimulus Wednesday to chip into a to-do list that includes repairing historic buildings, constructing trails and increasing renewable energy use from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to Yosemite in California.

"This is probably the most significant investment made in more than a generation," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in an interview before the Earth Day announcement.

Mexico oil output falls 7.8 pct in Q1

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican oil production fell 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2009 to 2.667 million barrels per day as output from the aging Cantarell field slid further, state oil company Pemex on Tuesday.

Mexico pumped 2.891 million bpd of crude in the first quarter of 2008, according to the energy ministry.

Pemex said Cantarell produced 787,000 bpd in the first three months of 2009, down 34 percent from the same period in 2008 when the field yielded 1.195 million bpd.

The company has forecast oil production will be between 2.7 and 2.8 million bpd in 2009, but analysts are skeptical the company can step up output sufficiently at other fields to make up for the relentless decline of Cantarell.

Study suggests western ND oil pipeline to Canada

A new study says building a pipeline from northwestern North Dakota to TransCanada Corp.'s new Keystone pipeline in southern Saskatchewan would be the most efficient way to move the region's oil production.

North Dakota officials intend to pitch the $199 million project next week at a regional oil conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, that is expected to draw more than 900 industry officials, said Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.

Russia's Gazprom buys Chevron oil ops in Italy

MILAN (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM), the oil arm of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM), extended a Russian push into European refining and marketing on Wednesday by buying Italian oil operations from U.S. oil major Chevron.

Gazprom Neft will buy a plant in Bari, southern Italy, which produces 36,000 tonnes of lubricants a year for cars, trucks and other industrial uses, and fuel marketing and sales operations in Rome, the companies said.

Mitsui Oil Ex-Manager Pleads Guilty to Faking Accounts in Singapore

The former general manager of Mitsui Oil (Asia) Pte. Ltd. pleaded guilty Tuesday to three of 17 counts of falsifying accounts in a 2006 petroleum trading fiasco that resulted in $81 million in losses for the company.

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Alan Hanson on Nuclear Power

What technical obstacles currently most curtail the growth of nuclear fission? What are the prospects for overcoming them in the near future and the longer-term?

In fact, no serious technical obstacles exist that would hamper the expansion of nuclear energy in the U.S. The newest generation of nuclear power plants builds on a foundation of excellence spanning decades and supported by significant improvement in plant efficiency. While the average U.S. nuclear plant in 1980 had a capacity factor of less than 60 percent, today's average is over 90 percent. Generation III+ reactors include safety and efficiency improvements over current models.

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Barry Cinnamon on Solar Power

What technical obstacles currently most curtail the growth of solar power? What are the prospects for overcoming them in the near future and the longer-term?

Right now, homeowners and business owners interested in solar systems are concerned about two things—performance and reliability—as these factors play an important role in a system's return on investment. From a panel standpoint, the silicon solar panels on the market are just about as efficient as they can be, as the industry has labored intensively over the years to increase energy yield. Yet there are several other system components—we call them part of the balance of system—that can threaten the performance and reliability of a system and decrease the amount of energy harvested. Hardly any time and energy had been spent to improve the racking, wiring and electrical grounding elements.

Peak People: The Interrelationship between Population Growth and Energy Resources

This paper investigates the link between population growth, energy resources and carrying capacity at a global level, to determine if there might be dependencies and if so, how they could be modelled. Different qualities of energy resources may interact differently with population growth. Finally the implications of a peak in energy resource availability on population growth are examined.

13 Breathtaking Effects of Cutting Back on Meat

The meat industry contributes to land degradation, climate change, air pollution, water shortage and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Earth Day Food for Thought: Shrinking Your ‘Cookprint’

Cookbook author Kate Heyhoe would like you to put down that organic avocado and chew on this morsel for a moment:

When it comes to being green, what you eat is not enough; how you cook it and what you cook with are equally essential to the green equation.

On the first page of her new book, “Cooking Green,” Heyhoe tells us right up that “appliances account for 30 percent of our household energy use, and the biggest guzzlers are in the kitchen.” (She refers to the oven as the “Humvee of the kitchen.”)

Steven Chu and Hilda Solis: Building the American clean energy economy

Today, people across the country and around the world will celebrate Earth Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of our natural resources and taking real action to make a difference.

For decades, while Americans across the country have worked to make a difference in their communities, politicians in both parties in Washington have ignored the energy crisis, imperiling our economy, our security and our planet. Now, we have a unique opportunity to attack the energy crisis head-on and create a comprehensive energy policy that will bolster our economy, end our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the threat of deadly pollution that is devastating our planet.

During his first months in office, President Obama already has taken some important first strides toward those goals as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included billions of dollars to be invested in cities and states to strengthen our clean energy industry and help restore America’s place at the forefront of the 21st century global economy.

Pondering the Fate of an Oil Exporter: Squandering One's Inheritance Cheaply

The fate of an oil exporter is to have sold the bulk of one’s inheritance cheaply - only to live out the twilight years cramped for income, and worried sick about reserves. Of course, this would be less the case if one had converted the built-up years of oil revenue to new productive capacity in energy. If we consider both the UK and Indonesia in this regard, two oil-exporters who turned net importers this decade, scant evidence exists that such capital investment took place. Perhaps the more solemn fate of an oil exporter is to author a tale of resource mis-management.

Saudi energy contractor Almojil's Q1 profit sinks

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi-based Mohammad al-Mojil Group 1310.SE (MMG), a contractor specializing in oil and gas projects, said net profit fell 96 percent in the first-quarter as several projects hit delays amid depressed energy demand .

China Resumes Spot LNG Imports After 6-Month Hiatus

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, resumed imports of spot liquefied natural gas cargoes in March after a six-month hiatus as prices of the cleaner-burning fuel tumbled.

A Platts Data Analysis Shows China's March Oil Demand Almost Flat From Year Ago

HONG KONG (Platts) - China consumed 31.26 million metric tons of crude oil in March, down a minor 0.25% from the corresponding month of 2008, a Platts analysis of official data showed April 22.

However, crude and refined products demand in the world's second-largest oil consuming nation in the first quarter was 4.8% lower versus the corresponding period of 2008, as China registered its slowest quarterly economic growth in almost a decade.

Cheap Oil Won't Support Investment

Crude oil futures dipped below $40 per barrel at the beginning of the year, having dropped from record highs over summer 2008. They appear now to have bottomed out, rising to around $50 per barrel from the second half of March. However, optimism remains predicated on an early--third to fourth quarter 2009--recovery in the world economy. Moreover, levels of demand, stock and surplus capacity suggest that oil market fundamentals remain weak.

OPEC Power. While OPEC's inability to control prices as they rose to record levels was starkly exposed by the organization's lack of spare capacity, it has demonstrated that it can, when it acts decisively and cohesively, support a falling market. OPEC has initiated a series of production cuts: Output remains more than 700,000 b/d above the cartel's stated target of 24.845 million b/d, excluding Iraq.

Statoil’s Arctic Status Threatened as Exxon, Shell Make Bids

(Bloomberg) -- StatoilHydro ASA may see its dominance eroded in Norway’s Arctic as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc bid in the country’s first frontier oil and natural-gas licensing round for three years.

Norway has offered 28 complete and partial blocks in the Barents Sea off its northern tip and 51 in the Norwegian Sea, which straddles the Arctic Circle. The permits will be awarded “sometime in the spring,” said Jon Evang, an Oil Ministry spokesman, without being more specific.

India Lures LNG Cargoes as Asia, Europe Cut Imports

(Bloomberg) -- India may rank among the largest markets for spot cargoes of liquefied natural gas this year as Japan, South Korea and Spain slash purchases.

India faces a shortage of 80 million cubic meters of gas a day, or more than half of domestic demand, even as economic growth slows, said Upendra Datta Choubey, chairman of gas distribution monopoly GAIL India Ltd.

Deepwater-Rig Use Slows on Economy, Oil Prices, Says Transocean

(Bloomberg) -- Demand for deepwater drilling equipment, led by Brazil and India, continues to grow at a slower pace amid the global recession and lower crude oil prices, said Transocean Inc., the world’s largest offshore oil driller.

The Geneva-based company is still participating in bids even as the number of tenders has declined, said Deepak Munganahalli, senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, at a conference in Singapore today. About 25 deepwater assets will become available within the next two to three years.

“That’s a very small number,” Munganahalli said at Sea Asia 2009. “Even last month there were significant fixtures in Brazil.”

Enel May Sell Stake in Renewable Unit By Year-End

(Bloomberg) -- Enel SpA may sell a minority stake in its renewable energy unit by the end of the year, as Europe’s most indebted utility seeks to reduce borrowing.

The "Flight of the Phoenix" Revisited

For the Phoenix survivors, the critical resource was water, with about 12 days of supply left to complete their reconstruction. For our country, the critical resource is oil. And just as the Phoenix survivors rebuilt their plane, our task is to rebuild our energy system. But the Phoenix survivors mode of transportation was still a plane, just as our energy system will continue to utilize oil.

Whatever the ultimate mix of energy resources turns out to be, this re-creation will be very difficult, and will take time -- and at least some failure of the other options -- before the activists get on board. One can only hope our country will exhibit the same ingenuity, tenacity and success in solving our energy crisis that the survivors of the Phoenix did.

Transitioning Somerville

Many foolish myths are woven through the popular culture that saturates our every waking hour: The future will be richer than the present. This ever-growing wealth will trickle down to uplift the poor. The things we buy will make us as happy as the people in television commercials seem to be, and if they don't, there must be something wrong with us. Our rugged individualism makes cooperating with neighbors and resolving our conflicts unnecessary.

Yet our own history reveals these myths to be lies that serve the consumption-driven economy that has produced our deepening national distress. My parents suffered during the Great Depression. They knew that things are not always better for the next generation.

It’s 2009. Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?

Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates ... the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.

Lent is upon us whether we asked for it or not. And with it, we hope, comes a chance at redemption. But redemption is not just a spiritual term, it’s an economic concept. At the turn of the millennium, the debt cancellation campaign, inspired by the Jewish concept of Jubilee, aimed to give the poorest countries a fresh start. Thirty-four million more children in Africa are now in school in large part because their governments used money freed up by debt relief. This redemption was not an end to economic slavery, but it was a more hopeful beginning for many. And to the many, not the lucky few, is surely where any soul-searching must lead us.

Eating can be energy-efficient, too

With Americans looking to reduce their "carbon footprints," food seems an obvious place to start.

Choosing a diet with a smaller carbon footprint means choosing foods that are processed in ways that emit less carbon dioxide — a heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas — into the atmosphere. In general, experts say, it breaks down to these guidelines:

'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary

SWOOPE, Va. — The white metal sign over the desk at Polyface Farm reads, "Joel Salatin: Lunatic Farmer."

Salatin is proud of that label. "I'm a third-generation lunatic," he boasts while standing in his lush, green central Virginia fields. Brown chickens strut and peck around his feet. "I don't do anything like average farmers do," he says.

What the 52-year-old farmer does is let his cows feed on grass instead of corn or grain. He moves his cows to new fields daily. Flocks of chickens scratch around open fields, spreading cow droppings, eating flies and larvae, and laying eggs in the Salatin-built eggmobile. Hogs forage in the woods or in a pasture house where they root through cow manure, wood chips and corn. The resulting compost gets spread back over the fields, fertilizing the grass for the cattle. That completes the cycle.

"It's completely counter to current agricultural wisdom," he says. Current agricultural practices often encourage using technology — petroleum-based fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics — to spur growth and reduce costs as much as possible.

Switch to renewable energy could save £13bn a year

Britain could save up to £12.6bn a year in imports of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal by 2020 if it embarks on a large- scale programme of energy efficiency and renewable technologies including wind power and biomass, a study showed yesterday.

The report, carried out by Edinburgh-based consultants Delta EE for the Renewable Energy Association (REA), is the first attempt to quantify the economic benefits to Britain of a move to energy efficiency and sustainability, rather than just the costs. The figure for savings is close to 1% of GDP at current levels.

Wal-Mart to double amount of solar energy use

For months, Wal-Mart has defied the economic slump by posting relatively healthy earnings even as other retailers got pummeled.

Now, it's offering a bright spot in a wobbly renewable energy market.

Wal-Mart plans to announce for Earth Day on Wednesday that it will as much as double the size of its solar-power initiative in the next 18 months by putting rooftop solar arrays on 10 to 20 stores and distribution centers in California. The retail giant early this month finished installing solar setups at 18 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores and two warehouses in California and Hawaii.

City Plans to Make Older Buildings Refit to Save Energy

Elected leaders in New York City will propose a suite of laws and other initiatives on Wednesday aimed at reducing energy consumption and related emissions of greenhouse gases by requiring owners of thousands of older buildings to upgrade everything from boilers to light bulbs.

Bright unveils ‘Idea’ hybrid-electric car

Anderson-based Bright unveiled its 100 miles-per-gallon vehicle, the “Idea,” on Tuesday in the nation’s capital, just in time for Earth Day.

“The promise of plug-in vehicles and smart-grid technology is not a dream, it is achievable today, here in America,” said Bright President and CEO John Waters. “Working with great companies and the most experienced team in the industry, Bright Automotive believes the Idea can be at the center of a new energy paradigm.”

EPA proposes mercury cutbacks at cement plants

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Obama administration proposed sharp reductions Tuesday in airborne pollution from America's 99 cement plants, including first-ever limits on mercury from older kilns.

The rules also would lead to steep cuts in emissions of other toxins, including hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons, soot and sulfur dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Prices Carbon Dioxide at More Than $13 a Ton in Draft Plan

(Bloomberg) -- A proposed law to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would price carbon dioxide permits in a range of $13 to $26 a metric ton by 2015, according to a preliminary government analysis.

Permit prices would nearly double if the U.S. banned greenhouse gas reduction projects in developing countries from selling so-called “offsets” to domestic industry, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report late yesterday.

New York touts climate-saving plan to lock away CO2

NEW YORK (AFP) – Scientists in New York have touted an experimental plan to lock carbon dioxide gasses underground and prevent big polluters like China and the United States from wrecking the world's climate.

The idea, called carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, is at the cutting edge of attempts to dramatically reduce CO2 spewed by industrial plants into the atmosphere.

The technology exists, but is little tested and a group of energy companies, academics and state officials hope to make New York one of the field's trail blazers.

House climate hearings put Obama team on hot seat

WASHINGTON – Top members of President Barack Obama's energy and environmental team are weighing in on a bill that would curb the emissions blamed for global warming and transform how the nation produces and uses energy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, were to spend part of their Earth Day before a House energy panel Wednesday. Their appearance comes less than a week after the Obama administration took steps to regulate greenhouse gases without the help of Congress.

Atmospheric CO2 and Methane Still Building

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reporting that the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane, the two most important greenhouse gases released through human activities, rose in 2008.

The agency’s preliminary summary of greenhouse gas trends consolidates data from 60 monitoring stations around the world. A variety of factors shapes how much of these two gases remains in the atmosphere after they are emitted, which is one reason the global economic recession hasn’t become evident in the data yet, N.O.A.A. researchers said.

Great chart of newscientist.com: How long will it last?


Note the average US citizen uses 107 kg of phosphorus per year.

What is the context of that graph, which is amazing. Is there an article to go with it. I couldn't find anything.


I remember reading this article about two years ago. The original article is at


I'm not sure. An article was linked on peakoil.nl to lowtechmagazine.be, the latter having the graph with a Dutch languaged article

http://www.lowtechmagazine.be/2009/04/wanneer-zijn-de-grondstoffen-op.html The newscientist article is not linked there.

The referenced graph shows that Aluminum supply will last for 510 years to 1027 years.
That is awesome! We can substitute aluminum for a lot of other metals.
It requires energy to process though?
Tin, gold, silver, copper, zinc and other metals will run out much sooner - 15 to 40 years.
Some key items -
Antimony, Hafnium,Indium, Platinum, will run out in 5 to 15 years.
This will effect production of computers, medicine, cars and other items.

That is awesome! We can substitute aluminum for a lot of other metals.

Yeah, aluminum wiring in houses, aluminum engine blocks - great ideas, those.

Well, at least we won't run out of beer cans, aluminum siding, and thermite.

If we substitute aluminum for "a lot of other metals", then the aluminum supply won't last hundreds of years.

Aluminum is several % of the earth's crust, and it is easily recycled.

Best Hopes for Aluminum,


Aluminum also requires very good fuels for commercial smelting. Napoleon was proud to serve guests with aluminum table service, because nobody else could afford it when charcoal was the primary fuel source.

Hydroelectric (and geothermal) electricity works just fine.

Building Grand Inga alone should produce electricity for 100% of today's aluminum production.


"Aluminum also requires very good fuels for commercial smelting...."

Not really true.

Aluminum (AL) requires lots electric power to convert the bauxite (Alum ore) into the pure metal. To convert scrap aluminum into new ingots for rolling into sheet or extruding into structural shapes (aluminum windows, frames for solar panels), the AL remnants are simply heated in a ladle (sometimes in a controlled atmosphere) and poured into ingots. No special fuel or even high temp, like steel requires in converting scrap to new metal. Best thing about recycling AL is that 95% of the energy is saved versus making new AL metal from bauxite ore.

Tin, gold, silver, copper, zinc and other metals will run out much sooner - 15 to 40 years.
Some key items -
Antimony, Hafnium,Indium, Platinum, will run out in 5 to 15 years.

As I see it, there is always the possibility to extract more given more effort/expenditure. For instance, when it comes to uranium, wikipedia states: "Kenneth S. Deffeyes and Ian D. MacGregor point out that uranium deposits seem to be log-normal distributed. There is a 300-fold increase in the amount of uranium recoverable for each tenfold decrease in ore grade."

Does anyone know whether this holds true for other mined chemical elements as well? I'd guess so, and therefore, my current hypothesis is that "reserves" in number of years are quite meaningless for those. The reason is that if you want to "run out" in 40 years instead of in 20 years, all you have to do is to increase the price of the element by 32%. (Assuming extraction costs are inversely proportional to ore grade.) Reserves are only meaningfully stated in relation to price.

OTOH, reserves could be stated in number of years if we by that mean that a certain use of the element will be impossible above a certain price. But typically, reserve statements in number of years are misused. For instance, uranium reserve statements are based on completely arbitrary prices - they are never put in relation to what nuclear reactor operators would be willing to pay before closing shop, for instance.

And when the Tantalum is used up, it turns into ?

My point being, our landfills are probably richer sources of some of these elements than the ores that are so laboriously extracted and reduced in the first place.

Tantalum is one of the easier parts to extract from old electronics too

"Water Levels Dropping in Some Major Rivers as Global Climate Changes "


Where I am the sun is shining and today Wednesday 22nd is Earth Day.

Here's a short (3 mins) video from Greenpeace.

http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=zVu9eawb1QY

Humanity is essentially conducting an unplanned and uncontrolled experiment with the global climate, with potentially catastrophic effects. With the health of ourselves and the entire planet at risk, and insufficient knowledge about it, we should err on the side of safety.


Link has a space in it..
Great Video!!

Blessed are the Troublemakers! Sun just came out, I'm going outside!


The Lorax: Well, Mr. Once-ler?
The Once-ler: Hmm. First the poor Bar-ba-loots. Then the poor Swommee-Swans. Now the poor Humming Fish... oh, Mr. Lorax, Mr. Lorax... this cursed factory of mine! Now, at last, I understand.
Ms. Funce-ler: [over intercom] Mr. Once-ler! Mr. Once-ler!
The Once-ler: Hmm? Oh, yes, Ms. Funce-ler?
Ms. Funce-ler: Stock markets just closed, and Thneeds Inc. stock is up! Up 27 and 5/8 points!
The Once-ler: Wow. Wow! Rowdy-dow!
[to Lorax]
The Once-ler: Now, you listen to me, Pop, while I blow my top! Trees? Ha! You speak for the trees? Well I speak for men, and human opportunities! For your information, you Lorax, I'm figgering on biggering and biggering, and biggering, and BIGGERING, turning MORE truffula trees into thneeds! Which everyone, everyone, EVERYONE NEEDS!

Wanna find out what happens when terrorists get nukes...?

Taliban claims victory near Islamabad

Taliban militants who implemented Islamic law in Pakistan's violence-plagued Swat Valley last week have now taken control of a neighboring district.

Control of the Buner district brings the Taliban closer to the capital, Islamabad, than they have been since they started their insurgency. Islamabad is 60 miles (96 km) from the district.

"Our strength is in the hundreds," said Moulana Mohammad Khalil, as heavily armed men openly patrolled the roads in pickup trucks, singing Islamic anthems.

...The Pakistani government appears unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban's steady advance deeper into the territory of this nuclear-armed country...

"Wanna find out what happens when terrorists get nukes...?"

Threaten Iran?

Threaten Iran? Why? And by the way, we're the ones that gave Iran nuke tech anyway... Speaking of Iran, here's a great Pro-Nuke poster from the '70's...


The Shah of Iran is sitting on top of one the largest reservoirs of oil in the world.

Yet he's building two nuclear plants and planning two more to provide electricity for his country.

He knows the oil is running out--and time with it...

Happy Earth Day!

PaulusP may have been referring to American-sponsored state terror.

Ahhh... Thanks for the clarification. His thought might be along the lines of pitting one's enemies against themselves...

If people won't buy new cars, they MUST fix the old ones they have...

Auto repair business is booming (Video Warning)

A shop owner in Kokomo, Ind., has seen his business jump as the recession deepens.

This is true. I work for an engineering/architecture company and we're seeing 2 types of clients that are still building...Churches and car repair shops (tires, garages, et al)

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.9 million barrels from the previous
week. At 370.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above
the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total
motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week,
and are above the upper boundary of the average range. Finished gasoline
inventories fell last week while gasoline blending components inventories
increased during this same time. Distillate fuel inventories increased by
2.7 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range
for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.6 million
barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total
commercial petroleum inventories increased by 11.3 million barrels last week,
and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

The supply reduction is really looking like a "Checks in the Mail" truth. After all the "supposed" cuts in prodution the bottom line is B.S.. If you factor in the build in the SPR total inventories increase by 12.7 million barrels. Factor in the reduction in U.S. demand at about 1.3 MBD and you have an actual increase in supply over last year of 500,000 BPD. Starting to look like the glut is going to be here awhile. Meanwhile the CHinese gubmint is supposedly stockpiling, and obviously so are U.S. investors. The only positive is the steep drop in NGL's. Perhaps confirming the drop in the Natty gas production due to a declining rig count. OPEC is obviously not cutting like they said.

These are EIA numbers concerning the USA. The USA in not a member of OPEC. The USA is only one of many OPEC customers. Your conclusions would therefore unwarranted even if the EIA was not reporting lower US crude imports. As it happens, the EIA is reporting lower US crude imports.

Not only that, but the EIA has numbers for OPEC supply. Unsurprisingly, they more or less agree with the other well-known agencies and consultants, all of which are of course saying that the OPEC cuts really happened.

Whether you like it or not, OPEC has credibility. And so do the climate scientists you disparage in your other post. You, on the other hand, have none.

Can we stop with personal attacks, please? This goes for everyone. Attack the idea, not the person holding it.

Is it only the final sentence that bothers you?
I agree it was unnecessary, though I wouldn't call that a personal attack in this context because the credibility of OPEC (and implicitly of the leading data providers) was at issue.

Or is linking someone's musings on climate to her musings on other topics a personal attack as well?
I think that's a reasonable point to make but I gather some see climate science as a sort of religion. And I understand you're not supposed to call someone's views into question just because their religious beliefs are not factually grounded.

I trust the rest of the post can't be construed as a personal attack.

Yes, it's the final sentence that's the problem.

We want to keep the discussion civil here.


(I realize that you are not the worst offender. I just replied to you because it was a convenient spot to do so.)

Thanks for the clarification. I'm always wary of touching some cultural nerve on the web.

I can't edit the sentence out anymore apparently.

From the article above "Atmospheric CO2 and Methane Still Building"

...A variety of factors shapes how much of these two gases remains in the atmosphere after they are emitted, which is one reason the global economic recession hasn’t become evident in the data yet, N.O.A.A. researchers said.

True. But there is no visible slowdown in the RATE of accumulation either. Unless economic activity slows both the rate of CO2 production and the rate of reabsorption by the environment, all of that reduced shipping, reduced transportation fuel use, reduced manufacturing, etc. should be at least slowing the trend.

I can only conclude that the recession has had minimimal impact on energy use or that human activity is not much of a contributor to the CO2 trend (e.g. effects like ocean degassification dwarf human contribution).

Anyone have data on either hypothesis? Alternative hypotheses?

Well, oil consumption is down about 3-4%. That would cut global CO2 emissions from all sources by less than 1%. Coal consumption is probably still growing worldwide, but more slowly than before. At least here in the UK and probably in Europe, coal consumption is rising as natural gas gets scarce. No saving in CO2 there. Other sources are not directly economic. Methane production is related mostly to beef production, and that is still rising. Deforestation shows no sign of slowing. If we are getting to see tipping points like methane release from melting permafrost, and reduced CO2 absorption by the increasingly acidic oceans, then we would see accelerating CO2 levels even in a global depression.

I would be surprised if in ten years time we can even see a blip on the chart.


Why do you say that the oceans are increasingly acidic? From memory [possibly faulty], the oceans are alkaline. And, at the current rate of CO2 absorption, it will be thousands of years before they are acidic. Do you have different information?

It's not the endpoint but rather the delta that's bad. Even if the ocean PH goes down only a small bit, organisms that evolved under a higher PH (especially ones with shells) are under serious threat...

Average surface ocean pH
Time pH pH change Source
Pre-industrial (1700s) 8.179 0.000 analysed field
Recent past (1990s) 8.104 -0.075 field
2050 (2×CO2 = 560 ppm) 7.949 -0.230 model
2100 (IS92a) 7.824 -0.355 model

Why do you say that the oceans are increasingly acidic? From memory [possibly faulty], the oceans are alkaline. And, at the current rate of CO2 absorption, it will be thousands of years before they are acidic. Do you have different information?

Technically you are correct, the oceans are mildly basic, and the increasing CO2 is making them less so. It may be a sloppy use of language to describe a decrease in basicness (I don't know the proper term here) as acidification, but it is a common language term. The "acidification" is mostly a problem in near surface waters. The concerns are its biological significance, for instance will diatoms start dissolving -or suffer from problems building their structures?

The points that stick in my mind about CO2 and oceans: 1) ability of oceans to sink CO2 is decreasing and 2) by about 2030 or so small spiney things needing calcium start dissolving - plankton, krill, coral.

cfm in Gray, ME

Several creatures are already beginning to lose their shells--pteropods and forams have been well documented already, among others. By 2030 it will be worse as the ocean will likely no longer be supersaturated with respect to aragonite.

Your Quote: "The concerns are its biological significance, for instance will diatoms start dissolving -or suffer from problems building their structures?"

It relates back to these diatoms [and larger lifeforms] ERoEI. If they have to spend much of their gathered energy and resources upon increased bio-structure maintenance-->inevitably, much less successful reproduction occurs, then a tipping point towards extinction is eventually foreseen.

Chopping out the roots of ocean biota ripples throughout the entire foodchain forcing all lifeforms towards a lower ERoEI, too. Not where we want to go, IMHO. :(

Just to be pedantic, diatoms make their shells out of silica, SiO2. The decrease in pH probably won't mean much to them, since silica is less soluble in acidic than in basic solutions. A few sponges that live at the bottom of ultradeep water also make silicon skeletons.

But just about everything else with a shell or a skeleton, uses CaCO3 or some version of Calcium Phosphate.

So you end up with an ocean full of jellyfish and green slime...

From the poor quality and biased, misleading, pointless slant of your posts (degassification... christ...), I conclude you should stop posting on anything related to climate.

... "degassification," while misspelled, is a legitimate technical term.

You missed my point.


Observing that oil use is down 3%-4% and aggregate fossil fuel use is probably still up means that the recession is unlikely to show up in CO2 at all - unless the recession becomes catastrophic. This is useful information and actually supports your biases, CCPO.

An arcticle randomly mentioning the persistency of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere is poor, misleading reporting. It implies that modest human actions (i.e. a recession)have a big impact - we just haven't seen it yet. This thinking is unhelpful and undermines your biases, CCPO. In fact, even a recession is little more than spit in the wind. If humans want to have an impact they will have to do something radically different than they are today.

You and I may disagree whether such action is wise or warranted, but I think we can be more cooperative about establishing the facts.

Nothing you post on climate is intended to shed light on anything. Your post above is misleading and irrelevant, as already covered. Pretending there is a debate about climate change is criminal or ignorant, take your pick.

Extremism requires extremity, an adversary, real or imagined.

ccpo - is there a legitimate debate as to whether sea level rise this century will be 0.02 meters, 0.994 meters or 6.0 meters?

Not sure if you are curios or trying to provoke ccpo, but here is my take for the curious using seal level rise with the continence of BAU consupmtion:

0.02 meters - Miraculous. Outside of known science. Would take an unknown unknown occurrence of something.

0.994 meters - Not debatable. Within the expected range of scientific experts.

6.0 meters - Unlikely but debatable. Current science does not support this much sea level rise, but there are many known unknowns that put it within the realm of possibility. These include positive feedbacks from permafrost thaw, forest desertification etc. and unknown WAIS and Greenland glacier melting characteristics.

I'm not going to try an provide links because one can find links to almost any opinion related to climate easily enough.

I previously interchaged the term "ice shelves" with "ice sheets" in a previous post, but after re-researching it:

If the Antarctic ice SHEETS (glaciers sitting on bedrock in sea water (NOT floating)) were to melt - or otherwise slide into the ocean - it is possible to see sea levels rise by 20 to 60 feet within a decade. (These ice sheets also act as a cork for above sea-level land glaciers).

Agreed. The consensus is moving toward 1.5+. Personally, my thoughts are now such:

1-2: Virtually certain

2-3: 50%

3-4: 20%

4-6: 10%

The primary variables are Arctic albedo and Arctic Amplification, methane releases from clathrates and permafrost, Greenland ice sheet melt and WAIS melt, in that order. The thermohaline circulation probably fits in there somewhere along the line of Greenland and WAIS.

Most people don't understand at all just what Arctic sea ice means to the planet, particularly denialists. I would guess most just think ice up there = cold, like it does in their cocktails, and that's it. In reality, the Arctic mediates the temperatures for the rest of the planet. The Antarctic plays a similar, but less important role in this (in the short term) due to its unique isolation via circumpolar winds, being isolated from most other land masses, etc.

But the Arctic keeps the rest of the planet cooler in a significant way. A good analogy I've come across is a tank of water with a heating element and ice. As long as there is ice in the water the temperature will remain near freezing due to the melting process (Latent Heat of Fusion), but as soon as the ice is melted the water temperature will rise quickly.

And that's why the Arctic is important. You melt all that ice = higher insolation = warmer water = warmer air = warmer planet. (Ironically, denialists' excitement over the speed of ice growth this past fall was completely misplaced. That fast ice growth equaled large amounts of heat being transferred from the ocean to the air via the effects of Latent Heat of Fusion.)

There's a very nice blog entry on the topic here: http://homosapienssaveyourearth.blogspot.com/2009/04/anthony-marr-predic...

Denialists will call it alarmist, but it isn't. For the ice to be gone in summer within five years is entirely plausible. The likelihood you may argue over, but not the processes he discusses. It will happen if current trends continue; the question is when. Once that happens, all bets are off. Climate change could accelerate in surprising and speedy fashion.

I wish to god more people understood the import of non-linear systems and how hard their breakdowns are to predict and deal with. The dangers we face are vast. They've been described. More people need to listen. It is the non-linearity that demands we act now rather than later. If we wait to act until the bifurcation is happening, you may as well pray to your big toe for all the good any actions you take at such a late date will do.

All the other processes I listed are just icing on the cake, or, rather, coal to the fire. If they all continue to accelerate, 2100 will be a different world. Literally.

Uprate ++

A big problem is that most people have little contact with science so they have no concept of non-linear systems. They tend to "hop" from one local minima to another, finding another point of relative stability. The lack of knowledge of the sciences also allows deniers to obfuscate the issue and confuse the public, thus delaying desperately needed action.

What really concerns me is the rate of change, which I am seeing in many different phenomena. Changes of 100% in ten years have been observed. As you understand, ten years is little more than a snap of the fingers when compared to most meteorological trends. I find that very ominous, if not terrifying.

My guts tell me that your SLR estimates are conservative, but no matter, we will find out soon enough.


The numbers I posted were from a list of predictions from the internet, I have lived at sea level for more than 40 years and have watched the tides, the Pacific storms, the beach erosion and the tsunamis warnings closely. One board moderator threatened to ban me when I posted pictures comparing the Malibu beach in 1940 and 2008.
--The difference between 1 and 6 meters will be important to my friends, relatives and neighbors. It is interesting that no POD poster actually claims to know the answers.

The IPCC does not claim to have the answers either.

Still, based on the reasoned statements of the pros, 6m in 2100 is beyond unlikely. Some alarmists keep coming up with implausible figures.

100 year trend for sea level rise: 1.8mm/year = 18cm per century = 7 inches.

Satellite trend for sea level rise: 3mm/year = 30 cm per century = 12 inches

Possible rise based on history: 11mm/year = 110 cm per century = over 3 feet over the next century.

100 year trend superimposed on Holocene sea level rise

I have a minor quibble. That last graph should be renamed. The first 2,000 years of the Holocene is not included, which was a period of warmer conditions often called the Holocene Optimum. And, there might be some mention of the 8,200 year BP event, which was a brief cooling period of a few hundred years, seen as a slight "hole" visible in the data shown for that period on your graph.

Of course, your graph does give a good perspective of things since the 8,200 year BP event, even though the data is rather noisy...

E. Swanson

You might want to read "Water: The Final Resource". In it the authors talk about the influence of the sun. There is a 180 year or so cycle where minimums in solar sunspots occur. The most famous of which is the Maunder Minimum (aka The Little Ice Age). We are approaching the next minimum and this year started off with a delayed sunspot start. The last one was the Dalton Minimum (from 1798 to 1826) and reduced the global temp by up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

This last reference has some interesting graphs and reasoning behind it but it is delivered in a smug (trollish) manner. The objective is to analyze all positions to try to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the data and their analyses.



So, if insolation drops precipitously and global average temperatures hold steady or rise all the people who say that CO2 contributions to global climate are meaningless will finally shut up about it?

I didn't think so. It isn't like water has a massive heat of fusion so that the melting of glaciers and ice caps takes much more heat out of the atmosphere than a 1 degree rise in that same volume of water would. Once most of the ice has melted, then we will see the really big temperature shifts.

I'd really like for IPCC and Al Gore to be wrong, but unless all the evidence popping up lately about glacier and ice cap shrinkage is completely wrong it appears that they are right.

I didn't think so. It isn't like water has a massive heat of fusion so that the melting of glaciers and ice caps takes much more heat out of the atmosphere than a 1 degree rise in that same volume of water would. Once most of the ice has melted, then we will see the really big temperature shifts

The current imbalance for the climate system is estimated at .5 to .75 watt/Meter squared. Multiplied by the surface area of the earth this is roughly 300terawatts, or enough energy to melt about 1.5 million tons of ice per second. This is also about a third of the estimated increase in the planets energy budget due to human influences (greenhouse gases minus reflective aerosols). If I assume the earth is losing about 100 km**3 per year of ice per year, less than a days worth of imbalance can provide that enough heat to melt it. So currently the melting of ice is only absorbing a tiny fraction of the imbalance. The rest is mostly going into raising the temperature of ocean water. My conclusion is that the ice sheets don't make much of a thermal buffer, although the oceans do.

Fair enough. The quantity of ice is quite a bit less than the quantity of liquid water, so while it might make more of a difference per pound there's a lot fewer pounds. That, and the heat does need to soak into it as well.

Thanks for the links Peter the sunspot cycles are truly fascinating and the potential to enter a Dalton or Maunder minimum quite frightening. The Climate Change crowd needs to acknowledge the impact of the sunspot cycle or risk losing some cred in the global warming discussions if temps continue to decline for the next decade or two as a result of reduced sunspot activity. While I don't deny the correlate between increasing carbon levels and warmer temps I don't think we can discount the impact of the sun on the climate and the historical precendence for declining temps as a result of the sunspot cycles. According to the linked PDF the author references the lower temps found at Mauna Loa Hawaii inspite of higher carbon levels. If we are in fact entering the sunspot minimums then the correlates of reduced temperatures, crop failures and increased disease maybe of greater shorterm concerns. The reduction in temps may also allow us the window to reduce our carbon levels due to depleting FF and increased renewables. The comments contained in the link point out the potential for significant issues with keeping the population healthy and fed now not in a 1/2 century or more.


So if I’m reading this right about the 180 year cycle sunspot minimum I find it hard to believe that any scientific correlation could be inferred from such a minimal amount of data points. After all, if I’m not mistaken, we’ve only been able to observe sunspots for a few hundred years anyways and I would think anything like a true scientific survey of sunspots numbers probably has only been carried out for about half of that time. So we’ve been able to observe only a handful (at best) of these cycles. Yet somehow we can come up with all these impacts to the planet’s climate due to these cycles…

This has to be the height of hypocrisy given how those who pass this kind of junk off as science routinely slam climate scientists for the lack of data about this or that minor variable in their models (never mind that the models incorporate thousands, millions (?) of data points).

Or am I missing something obvious here ?

And by the way – the errortheory blog has a short bio of the blogger – by training an economist…

More than enough reason to ignore anything he says regarding climate change…

The Climate Change crowd needs to acknowledge the impact of the sunspot cycle or risk losing some cred

A Ridgemont Story
Oh, wow, dude, like, my cred is dust. I was talkin' to this chick, and she was like, Dude!, did you, like, know if you, like - and this is fer real, man - like put a penny on a train track it will, like, knock the train over? And I was like, Dude! Really? Whoa! That's rockin'! So, we were like way cool and made out after school, ya know?

But, Dude... I blew it. I went to, like, science class, ya know? And, like, laid this on, like, my teach and he looked at me like I was, like, an idiot or somethin'. He, like, told me to go try it out, ya know? And so, like, I did this whole experiment. I was bummin', Dude. No splat, no train wreck... like... nothin' but a flat penny, Dude.

So, I went and, like, told this chick, ya know? And, Dude, she dumped me. Said she had to, like, go count sunspots or somethin' with her old man. Dude, I am so bummin'. Science cred, check, man, but babe cred? Nada.

For your perusal.


Hey Dude! From your referenced article

What happened 1 million years ago was that the climate system went from a situation where it fluctuated between two states (cold and warm) with a 40.000 year cycle, corresponding to the dominant change in the Sun's radiation. After this period the dynamic changed so that the climate jumped between 3 states, that is to say between a warm interglacial climate like our present climate, a colder climate and a very cold ice age climate. It is still the 40.000 year variation in solar radiation which controls our current fluctuations, but it results in changing climate periods of 80.000 and 120.000 years.

What is a sunspot but a change in the level of solar radiation. The article to me said the dominent factor in the earths temperature is a change in solar radiation. Causes? Change in the earths tilt, solar activity, or CO2 levels. I'm ok with that. The sun is the big dog in this hunt I guess we will see if it mitigates the temperature increases caused by the increased CO2 levels or not. I guess we will see pretty soon. Wonder who was around to monitor those 40,000 year cycles?

What is a sunspot but a change in the level of solar radiation.

Uh, it's really a lot more than that. Sunspots are the site of intense magnetic activity and are responsible for most if not all solar flares and CMEs (so much for a blanket decrease in solar radiation, eh?).

What is a sunspot but a change in the level of solar radiation. The article to me said the dominent factor in the earths temperature is a change in solar radiation. Causes? Change in the earths tilt, solar activity, or CO2 levels. I'm ok with that. The sun is the big dog in this hunt I guess we will see if it mitigates the temperature increases caused by the increased CO2 levels or not. I guess we will see pretty soon. Wonder who was around to monitor those 40,000 year cycles?

A sunspot is a totally different animal, essentially a place where turbulent energy that has accumulated in the form of magnetic energy escapes. These are kind of like storms on the surface of the earth, pretty awsome, but as far as the deep interior of the sun (or the currents in the earths mantle/core), a trifle. The 40Kyr, and 100Kyr cycles, are due to orbital changes, and changes in the obliquity (the angle between the pole, and the axis of the orbit) , and how its phase varies wrt. the near/far portions of the earths elliptical orbit. These later long term things are due do gravitational effects on the not-quite spherical earth, by the sun, moon, and other planets. They have little change on the amount of energy per year the planet intercepts, but they do change it's distribution wrt. lattitude and season. Distributions that favor norther hemisphere ice formation, cause more sunlight to be reflected, and CO2 to drop, which together allows global temps to drop -and reinforce the ice.

The variation in the sun's ouput via the 11year solar cycle is about .1%, which is comparable the the change in energy balance of the planet due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases during the same length of time. Of course the greenhouse gases just accumulate, whilst the solar variations simply oscillate. The bottom line is the greenhouse gases are the big dogs as far as climate change is concerned.

It is of course interesting that the sun has now reached a sort of superminimum, not seen for maybe a hundred years. If the sun was the only driver of climate, we would now be having the coldest climate in a century.

Yes, very good. Denialists need to deal with the fact that climate science knows all about the cycles of the sun and its output. As you said, it's .1%, so the role of the sun is neither ignored nor left out of the science.

They also need to deal with the fact that indications are that the effects of the sun are being overridden by GHGs and other feedbacks and forcings.

From the same article our friend selectively quoted from:

Chaotic dynamic climate
The climate does not become gradually colder or warmer - it jumps from the one state to the other. That which gets the climate to jump is that when the solar radiation changes and reaches a certain threshold - a 'tipping point', the existing climate state, e.g. an ice age, is no longer viable and so the climate jumps over into another state, e.g. a warm interglacial period. In chaos dynamics this phenomenon is called a bifurcation or a 'catastrophe'.

In addition to the change in solar radiation there can be random changes in the Earth's weather variations, that contribute to triggering the bifurcation or the 'catastrophe'. Such variations are called 'noise', and a theory is, that the atmosphere's CO2 level can be an important noise-factor. This means that there is the possibility that the 'noise' is a decisive factor for very large climate changes, which can therefore be unpredictable.


Hey Enemy,

You note that the solar variation is on the same order as the ACC energy balance i.e. .1%. I got the impression that the change in insolation due to ACC was higher than that. The only reference I can find easily states that the energy balance is around 5.5 WY/m2.

Assuming average noon insolation is ~800W/m2 (my SWAG) then the energy (im)balance would be higher than .1%. It also fits with, IIRC the albedo change from .39 to .37.

I'm not challenging what you're saying, you seem to be pretty much up on things.

I'm just trying to figure out where my reasoning went awry.


I can only conclude that the recession has had minimimal impact on energy use or that human activity is not much of a contributor to the CO2 trend (e.g. effects like ocean degassification dwarf human contribution).

I think you are mostly correct. Any reduction in emissions from the current economic woes is likely only a few percent. CO2 is accumulating at perhaps 2ppm/year, but the natural seasonal cycle is several times larger than that, and depending upon natural events, such as weather and wildfires, the noise in the seasonal cycle, would be much larger that a few percent of 2ppm. Of course that doesn't mean humans aren't creating the long term imbalance that is causing the unprecedented buildup. As an analogy, think of a person who makes $25,000 per year, and spends on average the same amount. Then I start siphoning $100month from his bank account. At first if he doesn't carefully balance his checkbook he won't notice, the monthly variation in the size of his expenses is greater than that. But given time, I will drain his savings dry.

"But given time, I will drain his savings dry."

Not if he saving $500 per month, which is a much better comparison to the present situation.

The CO2 drop due to the recession will merely slow the rate of increase.

Unless economic activity slows both the rate of CO2 production and the rate of reabsorption by the environment, all of that reduced shipping, reduced transportation fuel use, reduced manufacturing, etc. should be at least slowing the trend.

Actually I was thinking we may see the reverse, at least in regards to increasing temps.
Consider Global Dimming. If all the above factors esp reduced stratospheric air travel continue, once Summer returns to the Northern Hemisphere we might expect to see measurable temperature increases.
The claim made at the above link was that there were immediate increases after the the fleet was grounded due to the 9/11 attacks.
My 2¢

Consider Global Dimming. If all the above factors esp reduced stratospheric air travel continue, once Summer returns to the Northern Hemisphere we might expect to see measurable temperature increases.
The claim made at the above link was that there were immediate increases after the the fleet was grounded due to the 9/11 attacks.
My 2¢

If we quickly cut back on the dirtiest power sources, which are now mainly low tech developing world stuff, we would get a sudden increase. Of course it could be that poor people switch from relatively clean sources like electricty to aerosol-dirty sources like biomass burning. So I don't expect a sudden dropping in the aerosols. The airplanes are supposed to cause net heating, contrails intercept upward infrared radiation more than they reflect incoming solar. Although the effect is not very large. IIRC the conclusion from the data gathered in the few planeless days in september 2001, was that contrails were reducing the day/night temperature difference by perhaps 1 degree F.

To futher complicate the picture, we have two sorts of aerosols, sulphates -mainly from industrial fosil fuel burning which cool, and black carbon, from biomass burning and low tech inefficient combustion which heats -especially if it is transported over snow covered regions. Cutting black carbon, might be a cost effective way to get a limited amount of global cooling (perhaps .25C).

When I first saw the show at the link I gave it stated thus:
"Another study that took advantage of the grounding gave striking evidence of what contrails can do. David Travis of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and two colleagues measured the difference, over those three contrail-free days, between the highest daytime temperature and the lowest nighttime temperature across the continental U.S. They compared those data with the average range in day-night temperatures for the period 1971-2000, again across the contiguous 48 states. Travis's team discovered that from roughly midday September 11 to midday September 14, the days had become warmer and the nights cooler, with the overall range greater by about two degrees Fahrenheit."

That is warming in the absence of contrails.

IMF: Global economy likely to shrink this year: First time in six decades; could leave at least 10 million people jobless

WASHINGTON - The world economy is likely to shrink this year for the first time in six decades.

The International Monetary Fund projected the 1.3 percent drop in a dour forecast released Wednesday. That could leave at least 10 million more people around the world jobless, some private economists said.

“By any measure, this downturn represents by far the deepest global recession since the Great Depression,” the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook. “All corners of the globe are being affected.”
Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

The new forecast of a decline in global economic activity for 2009 is much weaker than the 0.5 percent growth the IMF had estimated in January.

A logical response to a shrinking city: An Effort to Save Flint, Michigan by Shrinking It.

Freddie Mac's CFO commits suicide: Freddie executive death apparent suicide: police source, but Nothing links exec death and inquiries: Freddie Mac.

Finally, Reuters has GM saying they won't make a June 1 debt payment of $10^9.

For those in the area, Dennis Salatin will be speaking in Mayo, Florida from 9-3 this Saturday. Send me an e-mail for more info.

.."Freddie Mac's CFO commits suicide: Freddie executive death apparent suicide: police source, but Nothing links exec death and inquiries: Freddie Mac."..

Hmmm -- there must be something that links his death. They should look harder -- someone in high places (financial or political). Freddie is under investigation -- it's just too suspicious. This is big money game -- trillions are at stake. In the end, our politicians and judges are in bed with our banksters -- nothing will come out of this.

This smells funny. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is one of the guys came in after the wreck, to clean it up. He knew it was bad but wasn't one of the perps - at least not in the original cycle. Maybe he found a penny on the track?

cfm in Gray, ME

It might smell ... then again he actually had a 15 plus year history at Freddie which for a 41 year old means that it was the bulk of his career.

Maybe he hated what the company became. Maybe he thought he could clean up a horrendous mess and was depressed because he could not. Maybe he had levered up his own personal balance sheet -- he had made fairly serious money by most standards and might have seen that stream of income drying up.

I hope the investigation is thorough. If not, no matter the merits, an aroma [or a reasonable facsimile thereof] will linger.

IMHO a thorough investigation is pointless and unlikely. The chances of apprehending a professional killer are very slim so there is no motivation for the local police to stir up trouble unnecessarily-labelling this a murder (as it appears) would turn the focus towards the inability of the police to catch the murderer, so nothing would be gained. Close the case.

This smells funny. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is one of the guys came in after the wreck, to clean it up. He knew it was bad but wasn't one of the perps - at least not in the original cycle. Maybe he found a penny on the track?

He was promoted from Freddies upper management. He had been there for 16tears. So it is possible he may have been responsible for something nasty on Freddie's books. It would be even scarier though if someone was bumping off the white nights.

Finally, Reuters has GM saying they won't make a June 1 debt payment of $10^9.

I'm not a finance guy, but a billion clams sounds like a lot for a single debt payment. Is that just interest or principle?

According to this article, US manufacture of wind turbines is ramping up, and the US is manufacturing an increased proportion turbine parts.

Once again, the numbers tell the story: between 2005 and 2008, the percentage of domestically produced components in a turbine increased from around 30% to nearly 50%, based on cost. Continuing that trend, nacelle components will increasingly be produced domestically.

This is a certainly a step in the right direction. I wonder, though, if there still isn't a long supply chain that extends around the world, even if more wind turbine components are made here. Aren't we still importing the raw materials to make those parts? If there is, it would seem like we are still at risk if there is a major international economic dislocation.

Gail -

Exactly what raw materials would those be?

Apart from the possible exception of some very small amounts of rare-earth metals in the electronic for the controls, I am having a hard time coming up with any of the raw materials in a wind turbine that can't be procured domestically (and my definition of 'domestic' would also include Canada, perhaps for some chromium and nickel for steel alloys).

Certainly it's not the steel for the tower structure, nacelle, and various mechanical components such as gears and bearings. Nor the copper for the wiring.

And the blades, typically made out of fiber-reinforced resin, could easily be made in the US using our own glass and/or carbon fibers plus domestically produced resin from our petrochemical industry (the hydrocarbon portion coming from domestically produced oil and gas). Ditto for paints and other coatings.

Maybe I'm missing something, but either in terms of amount of material or in terms of value-added, I am at a loss to see why a wind turbine can't be 95%+ domestically produced. As I've said before, even a large wind turbine is one of the more low-tech means of producing alternative energy. Unlike the previously described solar power satellite schemes, it is hardly rocket science.

I was thinking of primarily the alloys, and possibly the wiring. You are probably right--most of the raw materials can be sourced locally--I really hadn't researched the issue. Glad to get your feedback and that of the others.

The primary raw materials used in wind turbines, listed by value (I think), are steel, fiberglass (resins + glass fiber), concrete, copper, aluminum and the components of paint.

The USA produces all of these and now that we are spending far fewer of these particular resources expanding Suburban Sprawl (construction takes a LOT of these materials), the USA has plenty to build WTs with.

Best Hopes for the Proper Uses of Resources,


I don't have any references (maybe someone can help) but I was told that a week or two ago the "Abrams & Bettes" show on The Weather Channel discussed the problems of bat deaths caused by windmills.

The reason I mention this is that yesterday someone mentioned some news report of concerns by PA officials that the "white nose" fungus deaths of bats in Pennsylvania may lead to tree deaths by bugs that bats usually eat.


Birds and bats do die as they pass through windmills during their migration. Just saw it today somewhere. I remembered hearing about the problem of bat in Penn from Public Radio about a month back but it didn't hit me about the bugs that the bats eat. Definitely, this will change the ecological balance until the bat population gets back to normal.
From "Biofuels, Solar, and Wind as Renewable Energy: Systems, Benefits, and Risks" - David Pimentel (pg 167)
Dr. Smallwood and K. Thelander reported that 2300 golden eagles, 10000 other raptors, and 50000 birds were killed at the Altemont Pass windfarm over 20 years. ... Eric Rosenbloom has reported figure of 350,000 bats, as well as 11,200 birds of prey and 3 million small birds, as having been killed by wind turbines in Spain...

Holy Cow!!! that is a lot of birds and bats. Check here too :

Birds Killed

For the record (http://www.awea.org/faq/sagrillo/swbirds.html)

Utility transmission and distribution lines, the backbone of our electrical power system, are responsible for 130 to 174 million bird deaths a year in the U.S.

Collisions with automobiles and trucks result in the deaths of between 60 and 80 million birds annually in the U.S

Best estimates put the toll due collisions with tall buildings and residential house windows at between 100 million and a staggering 1 billion deaths annually.

Agricultural pesticides are "conservatively estimated" to directly kill 67 million birds per year.

The most reasonable estimates indicate that 39 million birds are killed by cats only in Wisconsin each year.

The NWCC reports that: "Based on current estimates, windplant related avian collision fatalities probably represent from 0.01% to 0.02% (i.e., 1 out of every 5,000 to 10,000) of the annual avian collision fatalities in the United States."15 That is, commercial wind turbines cause the direct deaths of only 0.01% to 0.02% of all of the birds killed by collisions with man-made structures and activities in the U.S.

Thats how the food chain unravels.
If something kills off the bats or reduces the numbers to a very low level the insect's they eat have a population explosion and the plants or other insects that those insects eat have a massive drop off of population causing what ever they eat to have a population explosion..

RE:Mexico oil output falls 7.8 pct in Q1

Maybe there is some truth to the reasons behind the contracts for building those detention centers. Defense Dept. cites, 'in-flood of illegal immigrants.'

These continuing falls in production are frightening--like an invisible 5 cat hurricane just off the coast of 'refinery row.'

My comments from yesterday (regarding Mexico):


A 17% decline in production from 2004 to 2008 (-4.7%/year) and a 5% increase in consumption (+1.2%/year) resulted in a 42% decline in net exports (-13.5%/year), with the most recent annual net export decline accelerating to -25%/year.

Hey, if Mexican (and other) oil exports drop enough, people in the US might be heading South to avoid the cold Winter weather.

Or, as MAD Magazine once had a cartoon of things you'll tell your grandkids, "Yeap, we've always had a border problem with Mexico... only when I was your age it was the Mexicans who were trying to cross over this way." [probably not an exact quote]

From the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department...

The Missed Opportunity

For a snapshot of what’s wrong with our banking policy, look at the front page of the business section of today’s New York Times. On the left side: “U.S. in Standoff with Banks over Chrysler.” On the right side: “Banks Show Clout on Legislation to Help Consumers.”

On the left side, a consortium of banks holding Chrysler debt is refusing to agree to the current restructuring plan, which involves bondholders holding $6.9 billion in secured debt getting about 15 cents on the dollar - roughly where the bonds are currently trading, according to the Times.* The banks are playing the ongoing game of chicken with the government, betting that the government will cave and give them a better deal rather than take a risk on a bankruptcy.

On the right side, the banks are using their lobbying clout to block the administration’s proposals to help consumers and households, including the mortgage cram-down provision (which would allow bankruptcy courts to modify mortgages on first homes) and added consumer protections for credit card customers. They currently have all 41 Republican votes in the Senate tied up, which means nothing can pass


Add this to the lobbying and PR firms being paid with - likely - bailout funds by the bailed out.


I wrote this for Earth Day 13 years ago, living in New York.. thought I'd share it.

A friend once suggested that while the grasses ARE usually greener on the other side of the fence, it would be nice to make your own grass as green as possible while you're here.

A local trash cleanup effort was the first exposure I ever had with Earth Day in the late seventies, and remains to me the most satisfying activity for finding the spirit of this holiday. The act of simple housekeeping has a stunning effect on the participants as well as the witnesses to this event. It is an act of stewardship towards your home.. that is, your home town, your street, neighborhood or park. It is direct, intimate contact with the land you live on. It is a Johnny Appleseed approach that promises no particular credit, thanks or payment, and you'd better take what immediate gratification you do get from it, because it will certainly get dirty again. It is NOT an act of making New York City actually clean or of 'saving the world'.. All it is, is giving your Mother a kiss.

When other plans fell through today, I grabbed a couple bags and just gathered trash (the older the better) on my way over to the town's little Earth Day Fair.. glad I knew where to find a sink to wash my hands, but otherwise it was great to be outside, not just hurrying someplace, and really looking at what was around me. I got a few smiles and 'Thank You's', too.

Happy Earth Day!

Bob -

My girlfriend and I participated in a bit of a pre-Earth Day version of a clean-up on one our local rivers in the area last weekend. It was a nice spring day and our first day of the year out with our kayaks. We gathered up various bottles and bags and styrofoam bits and pieces from the water and when we got back on shore we also did a five minute clean up around the boat launch.

It was a strangely satisfying act - perfectly described in what you wrote 13 years ago. The whole place really did look a lot better afterwords - especially since there were no leaves yet to cover any of the unsightly trash before we picked it up.

We also managed to get paid a bit for our efforts - we retrieved about 15 returnable beer cans and bottles (ranging from Bud Light to Sam Adams).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts...

Geneseo update. Today there was a panel for the President's Sustainability Task Force, which is the teacher/faculty/student group focused on sustainability (obviously), which I recently joined (there's also a separate student-only group). Pretty productive dialogue actually. Friday we're having a slow-food cookoff, a tree planting, and a guy (industry guy) talking about PV solar.

Happy earth week!
Daniel Achstatter

May I suggest also promoting some low cost conservation measures.

When it is either hot or cold, go into the attic and check for air leaks. Losing 10% of the conditioned air is not uncommon (even more in some cases). Very cheap and easy to fix (if uncomfortable) with good quality duct tape, metallic tape and mastic.

Put gaskets behind switches and outlets. 3M Scotch tape (use the good stuff) if the hole was badly cut and the gasket does not quite cover it. $8 to $10 and a couple of hours work for most homes. Texas study from 1970s found that this stopped 10% of the air infiltration (avg of 100 homes). Almost as much as new windows.

Weatherstrip and insulate stairway to attic if it is from conditioned space. I have added a small slide bolt on some.

All worth doing even for renters (assuming 1 or 2 years stay).

Best Hopes for Conservation,


Re: Kinder mulls sending ethanol though Plantation Pipeline. Up top.

After being told since I started reading TOD that ethanol can not be distributed though current pipelines, it now turns out it can. From the article it appears that all that is required is an expensive "evaluation", a good cleaning and some other proprietary steps.

This reinforces my cynicism about the liquid fuel distribution monopoly. They will fight sending ethanol through pipelines until they don't have any oil or gas. Then low and behold due to "innovations" and such they can do it. It's all about money and power.

Don't worry, they will charge much more to pipeline ethanol because of the special preparations and procedures required.

Best Hopes for Sugar Cane derived Ethanol, the one with a positive ERoEI.


Yeah, maybe the Brazilians will pump a couple hundred billion dollars into New Orleans the next time a hurricane blows down the substandard dikes around your below sea-level city.

Think they will?


Chrysler unveils new electric minivan for the US Postal Service

The vans themselves are based on the concept Town and Country EV that was unveiled last Fall by Chrysler. However, because of the duty cycle used by the Postal Service, which generally amounts to only about 18-20 miles per day on a fixed route, these vehicles are being built without the range extender seen on the concept. However, the electric drive portion of the vehicles, including the motor, electronics and A123 System lithium ion battery pack is identical. The head of Chrysler's ENVI division, Lou Rhodes, told AutoblogGreen this morning that Chrysler is marketing this battery-only version of the van to commercial fleet customers who typically have shorter range requirements. The extended-range version will be focused on retail customers.

This is precisely the point I made in my submission on Electric Commercial Vehicles a couple weeks ago

Battery powered electric vehicles have restricted range. Overcoming the range restriction carries significant penalties in terms of battery pack size, weight and/or cost. For commercial vehicles, the range limits are not an insurmountable problem as a large percentage of delivery vehicles operate on fixed routes and schedules so their use and charging cycles can be planned with more certainty than an individual's personal transportation.

Alan from the islands

Ugh. I hope they look at total vehicle maintenance and put some real bumpers on that thing like with the current custom designed postal trucks. We'll know that car design has gotten radical when consumer vehicles have the same no frills functionality of a post office truck bumper.

Wiki Photo of post office truck

This will save energy in repair or part replacement costs over the life of the vehicle. It will also save money as insurance costs would come down. Currently we subsidize auto manufacturers through higher insurance premiums to pay for expensive easily broken parts when the inevitable accident occurs.

I am glad that they are going electric, I just don't think fenders bending should cause a problem.

Earth Day report from Michigan. Three Michigan governors now support nuclear power including Governor Milliken who is considered by many to be an "environmentalist." http://www.freep.com/article/20090421/NEWS01/904210316

How Many Lightbulbs? from Cambridge Ideas
A video from Prof MacKay designed to help the general public understand the issues involved in providing carbon-free energy. Perhaps the most dramatic (unintended) effect is to underline the difficulty of achieving what is needed.

Yep the average Brit uses the energy equivalent of 125 lightbulbs running 24/7. I think it should be far higher, closer to 200. He talks about wind as a solution but each wind project needs to be evaluated for EROEI. The sweeping changes are not going to happen by rational thinking, it's going to be forced pretty soon as a result of the great depression II and the supply crunch.

From Drudge:

GM to close most auto plants for nine weeks this summer.


Some random thoughts:
A lot of my coworkers careers ended abruptly yesterday.
Most of them were entirely unprepared financially for this event.
As one said to me "Everybody lives paycheck to paycheck."
Many of those left still don't perceive this reprieve as being temporary though.
Now I am the sole inhabitant of my cubicle.
Strange, even though hundreds have lost their jobs at the Tech Center, I can find only one article from 2 days ago in the local rag.
None of those I've shared your ELP or Matt Savinars dire warnings with have made preparations. I think one had to discover these things entirely on their own for it to impress them.
The speed of this collapse has taken me completely by suprise and I was expecting it.
Last year the Hummer studio was a beehive of activity, today the Org chart shows it has no staff. Who'd a thunk?
Goddamn the banker man. Or is the credit collapse purely a manifestation of the Peak Oil Phenomenom?
Haven't been sleeping well, time for bed.

The speed of this collapse has taken me completely by suprise and I was expecting it.

Join the club. In the office park where my office is located, there used to be 10 occupied offices on the ground floor. Now, there are (I think) four or five occupied offices. On some days, I don't see another person in the hallway, and I have started locking my office door.

Ditto for Houston WT. The big under reported here is the layoffs from the oil field service companies. Just like many hands working for operators, a large number are "consultants" and not employees. So a compoany can send 500 of those folks to the house but report zero lay offs since they weren't employees.

I think one had to discover these things entirely on their own for it to impress them.

Yes, when you mention these things to otherwise intelligent people the natural tendancy seems to be to stick your head in the sand and ignore it as something not to think or learn about. Curiosity seems to go away. Most people do not want to know. Thought this post was a good example of some of what may be happening http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/nsf-sli042209.php
In essence, ignorance is bliss.

Hello TODers,

The major problem with turning around a profound deflationary trend is the basic phenomena of 'pushing on a string'; it is virtually impossible to get people to take on additional debt during a deflationary period if they prefer to increase their frugality mindset, their savings rate if they can, and to sit on liquid reserves of cash.

Additionally, concurrent real [energy and food pricing] inflation or even the general perception of such a trend: only reinforces this general frugality forcing even more deflation in other non-vital items. A vicious, self-reinforcing cascading blowback evolves thus spreading ever more economic deflation contagion over the global trade supply-chains. Yet, this phenomena does virtually little to induce waste reduction and sound investment in the needed Paradigm Shift.

Now recall my earlier posting on the NewYorkTimes [NYT] weblink [reposted below] for forcing negative finance rates. This could be a very powerful tool [if harnessed properly by well-designed legislation,] to force PostPeak mitigation towards Optimal Overshoot Decline when combined with full-on Peak Outreach.

It May Be Time for the Fed to Go Negative

..Imagine that the Fed were to announce that, a year from today, it would pick a digit from zero to 9 out of a hat. All currency with a serial number ending in that digit would no longer be legal tender. Suddenly, the expected return to holding currency would become negative 10 percent.

That move would free the Fed to cut interest rates below zero. People would be delighted to lend money at negative 3 percent, since losing 3 percent is better than losing 10.

Of course, some people might decide that at those rates, they would rather spend the money — for example, by buying a new car. But because expanding aggregate demand is precisely the goal of the interest rate cut, such an incentive isn’t a flaw — it’s a benefit...
The NYT article just addressed a very narrow economic domain [financing]. IMO, it did not imaginatively expand into possible applicability into the larger domain of our Ecosystem of Real Assets: Elements, Energy, and Biota. I hope to tickle your dopamine receptors in this direction. The many, more brilliant TODers than I, can further elaborate or refute the speculation below:

ZPG or less birthrate: Imagine if the number pulled from the hat was tied to the last digit of your SS#, and it imposed an extra tax based on your number of children > 1. If you had already proactively 'cut your teabags' and had zero or just one child: having your digit drawn inverts instead into an instant, proportional cash reward. Thus, a carrot & stick system so people will carefully consider the number of offspring.

Housing: If the number pulled from the hat matched the last digit on your home's address: if you had already earlier taken a negative loan out, but spent the money on insulation, or solar panels, garden & composting--> a cash rebate makes your negative loan rate neutral [or even positive]. If you spent the money on a big screen tv, pool, video games, vacation, marble kitchen countertops, or other pointless discretionary item-->an extra punitive tax is applied.

Last digit of Zipcode: if the local community did not use the funds raised from negative municipal bond sales for RR & TOD [Alan's ideas], or plowing golf courses, or other desired, mitigative community measure--> extra punitive tax kicks in. Examples might be further urban sprawl, opening another mall, paving more farmland,etc.

Large watershed: if this watershed's name was drawn from a hat and they already moved towards full-on O-NPK recycling and minimal water usage strategies--> rebate back the negative interest on their earlier loans. If they had built more golf courses and had a higher rate of extinction of biota, plus other bad habitat effects--> another punitive tax.

Ok, that should be enough to get your synapses firng, yet still keep this posting relatively short. In essence: this is another iteration of Asimov's Foundations for predictive collapse and directed decline. Thxs in advance for any replies.

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


The NYT article is kooky (I've not read it and I'm going by what you're saying). This would make it a mess of dealing with cash and fails to address electronic currency. There are simple solutions to address deflation with a fiat currency. Bonus points for guessing why certain commentators and media outlets keep pretending this isn't the case.

There is no point in drawing lots in order to inflict monetary penalties and such because it's usually simpler and more effective to spread the penalty equally on all offenders.

There might be a point with children. You can't have a fraction of a child like you can have a fraction of a certain amount of money. But there would only be a point if there was an actual ban on unauthorized children rather than a tax. This doesn't seem likely at all.

Your ideas are kinda fun alright but there's no reason you can't have fun with sensible policies. How about a lottery or a quiz show to get free supplies and expert advice for conservation, gardening and such? How about some amateur gardening competition to determine in which community a federally-funded hands-on retraining center would be established?

Hello Hfat,

Thxs for responding with good ideas. I would encourage you to read the entire NYT weblink. This is not authored by some kook, but by a Harvard Prof. who was also a Prez econ-advisor to the Shrub.

As briefly detailed in my posting above: legislatively linking negative returns to induce positive changes is much more accelerative than just fiat currency manipulation and its inherent lag-times. IMO, it allows 'Needed Change' to become a more powerful steering force for predictive collapse and directed decline; it becomes a nexus or focal point to drive coalescing of 2nd or 3rd piggy-back forces upon the initial execution. Much like lowering a very small sugar crystal into a supersaturated sugar solution rapidly precipitates a large rock candy result.

Having been a Bush adviser is hardly a recommendation. Harvard is better but has serious bias issues as well. And let's not get into the NYT...
The article still says the idea is outlandish and that one would do well not to associate one's name with it.

Obviously monetary policy has limitations in and out of itself. I guess this is what you mean with "fiat currency manipulation". That's not where the solutions lie.
Getting money into the people's hands would do the trick. Decent government spending can have an undesirable time lag but straight handouts work much faster. As this is politically unacceptable, I fully expect the weirdest schemes to be dreamt up and half-jokingly proposed if deflation sets it.

Mankiw is not only a Harvard professor and ex-Shrub adviser, he is also a large force in the world of economics education, having authored a major text for undergraduates. I read one of his on macroeconomics a few months back. Everything is described in terms of the old supply vs demand curves, which makes for great graphics but misses out on the obvious problems of resource availability.

That he uses an idea from one of his students makes one wonder what he really thinks. Reducing the money supply by removing dollar bills randomly? What about the "dollars" in all those electronic accounts. such as your brokerage or checking account? Will this scheme just arbitrarily reduce your account by 10 percent? Would the "dollars" simply evaporate or would there be a tax to send them to the treasury?

Mankiw mentions an old idea of a tax on money which he calls "outlandish", but he is apparently missing the fact of the tax on wealth called the Intangible Tax that some states still impose. I doubt that this tax would go over well in New York. How about a progressive tax that would take 10% a year out of all those accounts for individuals (and corporations?) who hold more than $5 million or 20% from those holding more than $10 million? Now, there is a really outlandish idea.

Instead, Mankiw then suggests that inflation should be encouraged. But, steady inflation works like a tax on savings, which is a bad idea if the goal is to promote savings to build capital, right? Does this guy really understand economics? Ultimately, the problem is that guys like Mankiw want to re-inflate the bubble economy, which appears to be impossible, since much of the bubble was in the housing market...

E. Swanson

Inflation isn't really a tax but one might say it's a tax on cash, figuratively. The "tax on savings" thing is just another misleading political slogan.
Fighting deflation and encouraging inflation is the same thing.

A tax on wealth would not be helpful. A tax on cash would. The thing is, you can't really tax physical cash. As to financial cash, it's hard to define and people would look for loopholes. Taxing only bank accounts is pointless.

How about a progressive tax that would take 10% a year out of all those accounts for individuals (and corporations?) who hold more than $5 million or 20% from those holding more than $10 million? Now, there is a really outlandish idea.

This is not an entirely unreasonable idea given the fact that much of the financial crisis is the outcome of bad decisions by the financial elite and their fellows in government.

At present they have little downside exposure; their jobs and institutions and investments have all been saved by public funds in the bail out. Mr and Mrs Middle class with less than 10% of their annual earnings is being made to accept the bill for their errant behavior.

To the degree that structured finance "worked" the players pocketed 100% of the proceeds - they got rich when the going was good. When the negatives started to appear these downside impacts were socialized and transferred to a middle class who neither caused theproblem nor fully understands it.

Instituting a "moral hazard tax" in which the wealthy elites are forced to cough up a greater share of the bail out funds would serve to wonderfully concentrate their minds on the outcomes of their decision making and force them into taking a measure of responsibility for their actions.