Drumbeat: April 28, 2009

Has “Peak Oil” Peaked?

It is always interesting to watch what happens when the media latches onto a given issue and then, as the reality on the ground evolves — sometimes radically — the media fails to catch up to, or even monitor, the changes. This means the public is stuck with an outdated version of conventional wisdom which, even if it were true in the first place, is no longer so.

With oil prices falling by more than two-thirds last year before a slight rebound, the “peak oil” frenzy seems to have abated for now. Even its proponents must admit that high oil prices were driven in large part by a huge spike in demand (which has now fallen) and not just scarcity (whether real or sinisterly implied by those who hold oil reserves).

But even though the hysteria has died down, new technologies march on, quietly changing the rules of the debate (if, that is, there still were a debate).

Ramirez threatens oil service companies

Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez has threatened to take over oil service companies that fail to agree on new rates for their services, in one of several comments made to oil workers.

"To those contractors who stopped work during the 2002 oil strike, we've told them it's time to settle accounts and rates, change our relationship, or we will take over those companies," Ramirez told PDVSA employees during a videoconference last Friday, according to a full transcript of the speech published today.

Russian, Bulgarian premiers iron out disagreements on South Stream gas pipeline

MOSCOW (AP) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia and Bulgaria have set aside their differences over the proposed South Stream gas pipeline to Europe, paving the way for an agreement within the next couple of weeks.

"We have no disagreements left," Putin said at a televised news conference with his Bulgarian counterpart. "Our earlier disagreements were purely technical."

Valero Energy Profit Rises on Higher Refining Margins

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. oil refiner, said first-quarter profit rose 18 percent on increased margins for processing crude into gasoline and other petroleum products.

Net income rose to $309 million, 59 cents a share, from $261 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier, San Antonio-based Valero said today in a statement. The per-share results beat by 9 cents the average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales fell 50 percent to $13.8 billion.

Saskatchewan could produce more conventional oil than Alberta: Boyd

Saskatchewan could soon surpass Alberta in conventional oil production, Saskatchewan's energy minister says.

"The positive trend line for Saskatchewan is increasing and Alberta is going the other direction ... and it's great news for the province," Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said Monday at an oil industry conference in Regina.

Utica part of statewide 'hydrogen highway' plan

Utica is part of a plan being worked out between General Motors and the state to develop a “hydrogen highway” of filling stations across New York.

The line of stations would allow fuel cell cars now under development to drive from one end of the state to the other.

Utica is the site of one of several planned filling stations. Other possibilities include Buffalo and Syracuse. Stations already exist near New York City, Rochester and West Point. There are about 100 stations nationwide.

Two Cal professors to get $30M from DOE for carbon capture work

The Department of Energy will pay $30 million over five years to two professors at the University of California, Berkeley, for research on cleaning up power plant pollution.

Professors Berend Smit and Donald DePaolo will get $2 million and $4 million a year, respectively, to seek better ways to clean carbon out of the emissions from power plants and natural gas wells and to put it underground.

BP Delays First Oil Production From Sunrise Project With Husky

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, delayed production of the first heavy oil from the Sunrise oil-sands project in Alberta, its joint venture with Husky Energy Inc., for at least a year.

The partners are now expecting to start producing bitumen in 2013 or 2014, the London-based company said today in an update posted on its Web site. The companies plan to sanction the project in 2010.

Petrobras ‘Comfortable’ Starting Presalt at Current Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, is “comfortable” starting production at the country’s pre-salt oil fields at current oil prices, the company’s refining unit head said.

Qatari Jumbo Tanker Sails to U.K. Port, Depressing Gas Prices

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will get its biggest shipment of liquefied natural gas next week as a jumbo tanker from Qatar arrives at the South Hook LNG import terminal, depressing fuel prices after earlier gains today.

A South Hook spokeswoman said the expected arrival time is “on or around May 5” for the Mozah, a so-called Q-Max tanker with a capacity of 268,000 cubic meters of liquefied gas. That’s almost enough to supply all of the U.K.’s gas on a summer day.

Sinopec Profit Soars 85% as Fuel-Price Controls Ease

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, said profit jumped 85 percent in the first quarter after the government eased fuel-price controls and crude oil fell from a record.

Kuwait, China hope to agree on refinery location

Kuwait's oil minister said Tuesday he hoped to reach a final agreement with China on a long-stalled project to build a $9 billion refinery and petrochemical venture in the Asian nation's south.

Iraq owes Kuwait 25.5 bln dlrs in war damages

KUWAIT CITY - Iraq owes Kuwait 25.5 billion dollars of war reparations for the 1990 occupation of the oil-rich emirate by Saddam Hussein’s forces, a Kuwaiti official said on Tuesday.

The compensation claims, approved by the United Nations, have yet to be paid by Baghdad, head of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Compensation Khaled al-Mudhaf was cited as saying by the KUNA news agency.

Geothermal explosion rocks green energy hopes

The bid to produce green power on a commercial scale using heat mined from subterranean rocks – or "hot rocks" – has suffered a major setback, with the breach of a four-kilometre-deep well on Friday in the Cooper Basin in South Australia.

BP solar profits slump

BP has reported a slump in sales of solar panels and falling profits at its alternative energy division. Overall, BP group profits fell by almost two-thirds in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year. The company mainly blamed lower oil prices and higher taxes at its Russian subsidiary TNK-BP.

Icebergs break away from Antarctic iceshelf

PARIS (AFP) – A huge iceshelf that has wrenched away from the Antarctic peninsula has started to fracture into icebergs, the European Space Agency (ESA) here said on Tuesday.

"Satellite images show that icebergs have begun to calve (break away) from the northern front of the Wilkins Ice Shelf -- indicating that the huge shelf has become unstable," it said in a statement.

Bill McKibben: Waste Not, Want Not

There's waste that comes from doing something that manifestly doesn't need doing. A hundred million trees are cut every year just to satisfy the junk-mail industry. You can argue about cutting trees for newspapers, or magazines, or Bibles, or symphony scores—but the cascade of stuffporn that arrives daily in our mailboxes? It wastes forests, and also our time. Which, actually, is precious—we each get about 30,000 days, and it makes one a little sick to calculate how many of them have been spent opening credit card offers.

Wind farm firm cutting 1,900 jobs

Wind turbine-maker Vestas Wind Systems is to cut 1,900 jobs - mainly in the UK and Denmark - despite reporting a 70% rise in quarterly profits.

It will be closing its UK turbine plant on the Isle of Wight, cutting 450 jobs.

The Danish firm blamed the headcount reduction, which represents 9% of its workforce, on market oversupply.

Clean Coal: Not Ready for Prime Time Yet

The battle over coal is basically a battle over two equally dramatic points of view: Coal opponents such as NASA scientist James Hansen say, essentially, either we quit the coal habit or the planet gets it. Energy types such as Mr. Rogers respond, if we try to quit coal now, the economy gets it.

Some Economic Implications of Peak Oil

World oil production probably peaked in 2008. Liquid fuel production, including oil, is indicated by the OPEC data to have reached a peak in July 2008 at about 86 million barrels per day, with its price peaking at about the same time. ASPO International agrees, as indicated on the chart page of their recent newsletters.

Peak oil has profound economic implications, most of which are unwelcome. There is good evidence indicating that peak oil triggered the global economic crisis; that oil price was the limiting factor that broke the momentum as the global economy tried to keep expanding.

Pound-the-Table Time?

There is an old lawyer's saying, "When the facts are against, you argue the law. When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the law and the facts are both against you, pound the table."

For the advocates of holding on to the old fossil fuel economy, last week strongly suggested that as the science and the economics move decisively against them, it is table-pounding time.

Italian magazine interviews Richard Heinberg

Consapevole: Why hasn't peak oil entered the political agenda yet? Is it because of the opposition of the oil industry, or simply because it is an unspeakable truth?

Heinberg: The oil industry has played a role in preventing discussion of peak oil by understating the challenges of maintaining production growth given the decline in discovery of new oilfields, as well as the declining rates of production in existing giant oilfields. However, it is also the case that new issues require time to be understood by the media, policy makers, and the general public. It is only within the past five years that general discussion of peak oil has emerged. By comparison, climate change has been a significant topic for well over a decade.

The United Nations Must Manage a Global Food Reserve

In this paper, we examine the underlying causes of the recent rice crisis and assess the effectiveness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean) Emergency Rice Reserve, the East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (saarc) Food Security Reserve in addressing past and present world rice crises. In addition, we provide some recommendations for a global food reserve as an alternative to the existing regional rice reserves. We also suggest measures to improve rice productivity in rice-producing countries, strengthen market information in order to increase stocks, and better determine the production capacity and demand for each participating country and their consequent contribution to the global food reserve.

An economics addition to The Transition Handbook

Since the first edition of the Transition Handbook was published, huge and far-reaching changes have begun unfolding in the world economy. For many, they are seen as the outcome of the end of the age of cheap oil, the inevitable result of the inability of a global economy addicted to oil unable to get its fix, and in particular a result of the oil price spike of July 2008, with speculators escalating oil to a high of $147 a barrel, a price at which, quite clearly, the world economy as we know it is unable to function.

A useful place to start in an exploration of what exactly is happening to the global economy, in particular in the light of how it relates to peak oil and climate change, is with a look at what are the assumptions we have made thus far about the economy. Do they still hold after the events of recent months? Did they ever actually make sense in the first place? What are the assumptions about the economy and the financial system, as well as about the basic resources, both natural and cultural, on which we have based our decisions for the last 50 years - are they still valid?

Petrobras Increases Gas Flaring Due to Drop in Demand

Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras has increased gas flaring, or the burning of natural gas, in recent months due to a drop in demand for the fuel, the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported Sunday.

Petrobras burned some 8.1 million cubic meters per day of natural gas at its offshore platforms in February, or an amount equivalent to about one-third of the gas currently imported daily from Bolivia, the newspaper said, citing Energy and Mines Ministry figures.

Oil demand to pick up in 2010

The collapse in oil prices could end up cutting the growth in future oil supply in half from what would have been anticipated during the high price period, according to a study from Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), an IHS company. The Long Aftershock concludes that about 7.6 million barrels per day (mbd) out of total potential future net growth of 14.5 mbd from 2009 to 2014 are “at risk.”

“The inventory of potential new oilfield developments, including fields that could be developed and brought online during the next five years, remains adequate to meet likely demand in the medium to long term,” says CERA senior director Peter Jackson, an author of the report. “This, however, depends on sufficient and timely investment.”

Aramco sells May Jubail lot to Vitol

Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil explorer, has sold 90,000 tonnes of cracked 380-centistoke (cst) fuel oil from Jubail for lifting on May 12 to Vitol at similar discounts to previous deals, traders said.

...Fewer arbitrage barrels are expected to land in Asia in May -- falling about 18-20 per cent from April -- as European refiners slash capacity on poor margins.

Middle Eastern supplies are also shrinking in line with the peak summer demand season, soaking up fuel oil for domestic power generation.

India: Steel sector to get priority in gas allocation from KG basin

The steel industry will be accorded priority in allocation of natural gas from Reliance Industries Krishna Godavari basin once the initial fuel production exceeds 40 mmscmd, official sources said.

Nigeria: Inside Abuja's Flourishing Fuel Black Market

Prices of fuel in Abuja's black market rose astronomically when queues appeared at filling stations across the city penultimate week as the speculation of impending fuel shortage made the rounds.

Investigation by Daily Trust revealed that most black marketers who had before the fuel scarcity sold their products for 100 naira per litre now sell for as high as 350 and 450 naira per litre. The price could be more or less and the differences in price depend on many considerations. The sharp-minded fuel racketeers size you and your car up, the status of the particular part of the city, the length of the queues by the surrounding fuel stations, and so on, before they bill you.

Saudi Aims to Attract Vehicle Manufacturers

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia is seeking to attract vehicle and consumer goods manufacturers to build factories as the kingdom seeks to benefit from cheap crude oil to expand its economy and create jobs, according to state-run 
Saudi Aramco.

Rally in Hawaii pushes for power plant ban

Supported by Hawaii's Republican governor, environmentalists cheered for a proposal Monday that would force Hawaii to break its oil addiction by banning construction of new fossil fuel power plants.

More than 100 people at the rally in the Hawaii Capitol rotunda - complete with a solar-powered sound system - urged state lawmakers to pass the bill, which is being debated this week.

Many majority Democrats in the Legislature support the spirit of the measure, but they say it probably won't pass because of worries that an outright ban on additional fossil fuel generating capacity could limit the state's options in an energy crisis.

Simmons: Energy industry facing enormous challenges

“At the peak of the boom everyone prospered,” he said at the April 22 event in Wichita Falls, presented by the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. “High prices created the first genuine win-win-win we ever had, but too many people were saying these high prices will hurt the economy. Then came the collapse.”

By his assessment, Simmons said that for two decades the prices of gas and oil were so low that the energy consumers were the only winners.

“The energy consumers were living in a fool’s paradise,” he said. “…But the consumer party had to end. As oil and gas prices rose the consumers got angry. There was a period of time last year that I think every single morning that I saw the Today Show on the first story was ‘Pain at the Pump.’”

Commutes Speed Up as Fewer Drive

CHICAGO -- As unemployment rises and discretionary income shrinks, millions fewer Americans are driving. For commuters, that means some of the worst bottlenecks in the country are easing.

Americans drove 8.6 billion fewer miles in January and February than during the same months in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mileage has been declining since the end of 2007.

Mideast growth to halve as oil falls: World Bank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa is set to halve to 3 percent this year with the collapse of oil prices, demand and worker remittances, a senior World Bank official said on Tuesday.

Daniela Gressani, World Bank vice president for the region, said countries outside the Gulf such as Iran, Syria and Algeria, which have expensive state subsidy programs, will be hit the hardest by lower oil prices.

Swine flu could hit already ailing fuel demand

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The widening outbreak of swine flu could further quash already weak jet fuel demand if it grows to rival the SARS epidemic that hit global travel six years ago.

Mexico's Woes: Quakes, Flu and Oil Production Collapse

Reluctantly I’m going to briefly cover Mexico today. Your RSS newsreader and your Bloomberg however are already, no doubt, filled up with reports from Mexico’s Flu Zone. Or Quake Zone. Or both. Instead, I lightly suggest you turn your attention away from these acute conditions, to something more chronic: the relentless crash in Mexico’s oil production.

Student Speakers Call for Proper Energy Use

DUBAI - Collapse of civilisation, unemployment and dangerous consumption of oil were some of the foreboding predictions made at an environmental speaking series presented on Monday at Knowledge Village in Dubai.

Instead of policy makers or environmental advocates, the speakers were 13 and 15-year olds from high schools in the UAE, participating in the ninth oratory competition held by Emirates Environmental Group.

The speech prompts — ‘reducing water-energy footprint’ and ‘is this the peak oil era?’ — touched on issues particularly critical to the UAE, which uses costly desalination to obtain drinking water and is a net exporter of oil.

Saudi Investing to Boost Oil Production, Finance Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy, is investing to increase oil production capacity to provide for the global economy when it starts to recover from the economic crisis, the finance minister said.

“Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that’s now investing in oil capacity and more refining capacity,” Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdel Aziz al-Assaf said at a conference in Washington today. “I’m sure that this investment will come in handy when the world economy starts recovering.”

PetroChina to raise storage capacity for Russian oil

BEIJING (Reuters) - PetroChina's largest Daqing oilfield will add eight large crude oil storage tanks by 2010 after having installed two such tanks for offloading Russian oil, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The 10 tanks alone, with planned capacity of 150,000 cubic metres each, will boost Daqing's crude oil storage capacity by nearly 10 million barrels, as China is set to ship in more Russian oil following the recent oil-for-loan deals between the two countries, Xinhua said in a report over the weekend.

BP, Chevron Managers Leave Kuwait as Projects Delayed

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. and BP Plc are withdrawing top executives from Kuwait after more than a decade of negotiations failed to gain access to the world’s fourth- largest crude oil reserves.

Khursaniyah 'under starter's orders'

The central gas processing facility at state oil giant Saudi Aramco's 500,000 barrels per day Khursaniyah oilfield is expected to begin operations by October, according to reports.

The plant had been due to come on stream in December 2007, but construction had been delayed due to a shortage of labour and materials, a source said.

"The gas plant has two trains. The first one will be ready to start operations in July and the second train by October," a source told Reuters.

Ex Central Bank director believes that Venezuela may sell Citgo

Domingo Maza Zavala, the former director of the Central Bank of Venezuela, said on Monday that Venezuela may ponder the possibility of selling Citgo, Pdvsa's oil refining branch in the United States, because of the decline of revenues.

Maza Zavala told Venezuelan radio station Unión Radio that the Venezuelan government would even negotiate the Orinoco Oil Belt and some state assets to get funds and survive another year.

Can science save the oil sands?

FORT McMURRAY, ALTA. — If Selma Guigard is right, an elusive key to reducing the oil sands' emissions could lie in the science of the super-critical molecule.

Solving The Chalk Mystery To Generate Billions In Additional Income For Oil Industry

ScienceDaily — A piece of chalk in a laboratory at the University of Stavanger in Norway may be the key to unlock a great mystery. If the mystery is solved, it will generate billions in additional income for the oil industry. Associate Professor Merete Vadla Madland at the Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Stavanger is leading a group of geologists, petroleum engineers, rock mechanics, physicists, mathematicians and chemists who are now switching between modelling and experimental testing at the chalk laboratory.

China’s Petro-Shopping Spree

Armed with loads of ready cash, China has been on a shopping spree for oil resources. Over the past few months, Chinese companies have committed tens of billions of dollars as part of a government-sponsored oil and petrochemical stimulus plan to secure energy supplies.

Petro-Canada Posts Quarterly Loss on Oil’s Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Petro-Canada, the Canadian oil company that agreed last month to a takeover by Suncor Energy Inc., posted a first-quarter loss on lower crude prices, higher costs and charges from deferring an oil-sands project.

The net loss was C$47 million ($38.4 million), or 10 cents a share, compared with net income of C$1.08 billion, or C$2.20, a year earlier, the Calgary-based company said today in a statement. Petro-Canada cut its investment target for the year.

BP profit tumbles 62% on sliding oil prices

LONDON (AFP) – Oil major BP on Tuesday reported a 62-percent slide in first-quarter net profits to 1.639 billion pounds, as the price of crude halved.

The data excludes changes in the value of oil held in stock, a key measure for the industry, and compared to net profit totalling 4.279 billion pounds in the first quarter of 2008.

South Dakota hearings start on crude oil pipeline

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Western South Dakota residents get their chance Monday and Tuesday to speak out about a planned crude oil pipeline that could one day carry 900,000 barrels of oil a day through the state.

Fla. House passes bill to allow offshore drilling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The promise of money and jobs and the desire to reduce dependence on foreign oil beat out arguments that offshore drilling could harm the environment and hurt tourism as the House passed a bill Monday that could allow wells three miles off Florida's coast.

The governor and three-member Cabinet would be able to approve drilling leases in state waters between three and 10.5 miles from shore under the plan.

Peak Oil as a Function of Earth's Volume

So the fraction then of the stuff we kind of know about is ~0.1% of the earth's volume if my decimals are correct. Even if my math is bad, I think the conclusion is sound that we basically have very little idea what all is down there. There could be huge reserves of black gold just waiting for the right technology. Even just the "black smokers" discovered so far emit 17,000 million watts of energy roughly equivalent of the amount of energy that humans consume each year. (As quoted on the Discovery channel anyway).

A key energy industry nervously awaits its 'rebirth'

One of the biggest question marks in the nation's energy and climate policy is the future of nuclear power. In the past, the United States has made a major commitment to it. The U.S. nuclear power industry is the world's largest. The nation's 104 operating plants produce 20 percent of its electricity, making them, by far, the largest source of electricity that does not result in greenhouse gas emissions.

If a cap and a price are imposed on carbon dioxide emissions, these plants could be among the biggest economic winners in the vast economic shifts that would be created by greenhouse gas regulations.

Little power price impact seen from U.S. renewable mandate

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A proposed federal mandate to force power companies to provide up to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 is likely to have little impact on electric prices though 2020 and negligible impact after 2030, the Energy Information Administration said in a study Monday.

The largest impact would likely be seen in 2025 when the renewable electricity standard would go into effect, boosting average prices by up to 2.9 percent, EIA projected.

Putting A Price On Smart Power

An improved electric grid could potentially make electricity more reliable, more efficient, cleaner and perhaps even cheaper. But what would it cost to actually build it, and how much would it save?

The answer isn't simple. It's difficult to put a price tag on a new grid, and almost impossible to quantify the potential savings.

Solar powered airports? It could happen

Jet contrails may be adding to global warming but on the ground, many airports are getting very green. During last week's Earth Day celebration air travelers could get free recycling tips at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's energy fair, free tote bags at Denver International Airport, and free plantable postcards embedded with wildflowers at Boston's Logan Airport. And all during April, aka Earth Month, airports around the country trumpeted their successes with recycling, solid-waste reduction, hybrid vehicle adoption, air quality improvement programs, and other eco-friendly actions. One exciting trend: solar and wind power projects that may eventually allow some airports to operate off the grid. Here are just some of the airports generating their own juice.

How to turn greenhouse gas into a clean fuel

CONVERTING a greenhouse gas into a clean-burning fuel offers two benefits for the price of one. That's the thinking behind a novel process for converting carbon dioxide into methanol at room temperature, developed by a team at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore.

With high-speed rail, Obama is on the right track

Every now and then I get a strange sense that sanity is beginning to prevail in the world. It happened last week when I heard of Barack Obama's plan to spend $13 billion to establish high-speed passenger rail corridors throughout the United States.

I can only hope Canada will follow the American lead on this one.

An Open Letter to President Obama on Biofuels

Many individuals, universities and companies have been working diligently to help create renewable biofuels to meet the strategic needs of our country. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of numerous research projects and provided technology investment agreements or cooperative agreements to help develop at least 15 commercial or demonstration facilities since start of 2007. Despite this, recent forecasts indicate that, unless we do something different, we will fail to meet the renewable fuel standards (RFS) set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

Numerous studies have been released on this topic. One such study reported that, "Even at high oil prices, 2nd generation biofuels will probably not become fully commercial nor enter the market for several years without significant additional government support." What is needed is an immediate, comprehensive study to determine requirements for the full commercialization cycle. Once these requirements are known, we can apply them to those projects whose completion is necessary to meet our needs. The need is urgent, as 3 of the 15 funded projects that received DOE awards have already stopped plans to go forward. Unless something radically different is done, more projects are likely to drop out.

Lifting the ban on importation of palm oil

Today in Malaysia, palm oil brings export earnings worth US$ 6.2 billion, only trailing crude oil exports. But compared to crude oil, palm plantations create considerably more jobs, currently employing around 14% of the countries entire workforce. Around half of all palm oil is still produced by smallholders, that is, by individual farming families. In short, the Malaysian economy and society as a whole benefits immensely from the African palm.

Given these numbers, it is not difficult to understand why many developing countries are looking into replicating Malaysia's success story. With Peak Oil around the corner, and continuously rising energy prices, the temptation to massively use one's land to cultivate the energy crop is strong.

Philippines to slash coal use

The Philippines plans to reduce its energy dependence on coal over the next five years to lessen carbon emissions which contribute to climate change, an official from the Department of Energy (DoE) said Tuesday.

"Part of the plan is to reduce the share of coal in the total energy generation mix from more than 20 percent at present to a range of 10 to 15 percent in five years," said Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan.

Obama seeks reversal of mountaintop mining rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is taking steps to reverse a last-minute Bush-era rule that allows mountaintop mining waste to be dumped near streams.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday the administration will ask a federal court to abandon the rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump waste near streams. If the court agrees, the Obama administration could start drafting a new regulation that better protects waterways and communities sooner than if it sought to rewrite the measure itself.

The next seafood frontier: The ocean

Now the 29-year-old entrepreneur is trying the same model on a global scale. Starting this June, his latest company, Open Blue Sea Farms, aims to fly 30,000 live baby cobia every month from Miami to Panama City in the cargo hold of a Boeing 757. After being placed in tanks near the famous canal, the fish will travel by boat to their new home, a floating wire mesh globe as tall as a six-story building that will be moored to the Atlantic Ocean floor, 220 feet below.

If O'Hanlon succeeds in selling fish bred in this unique structure, dubbed the AquaPod, he could revolutionize an industry in crisis. Fish stocks are being rapidly depleted the world over. Consumer demand seems bottomless, and industrial fishing fleets have become too efficient for their own good. Ocean stocks of large fish - such as tuna, cod and halibut - have declined by 90% in the past 50 years, according to a recent study published in the science journal Nature.

Scientists warn that the oceans could be completely fishless in less than 40 years - a catastrophe for all life within them.

Green Agenda May Shift Farm Policy

Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives, Senate and White House means that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is likely--perhaps as early as this year. Agricultural producers and agribusinesses are concerned about the impact of new regulations on their industry, because it appears increasingly unlikely that it will be exempt from new rules. However, instead of resisting climate change reforms, many agricultural lobby groups have shifted their emphasis to a pro-active examination of how to position the sector to benefit from climate change legislation.

How to Live with Ecological Intelligence

Trying to be "green" quickly becomes tricky. A simple question like "Paper or plastic?" can lead to a complicated analysis of deforestation and water use versus peak oil and persistent pollution.

That's why Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence in 1995, has returned to the subject, but with an environmental angle.

Death knell sounds for Europe's beekeepers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's beekeeping industry could be wiped out in less than a decade as bees fall victim to disease, insecticides and intensive farming, international beekeeping body Apimondia said on Monday.

"With this level of mortality, European beekeepers can only survive another 8 to 10 years," Gilles Ratia, president of Apimondia, told Reuters.

Diarrhoea near epidemic in Bangladesh heatwave

DHAKA (AFP) – Cases of diarrhoea in Dhaka are reaching epidemic levels, according to a health expert, as the Bangladeshi capital is facing record temperatures, a severe water shortage and power cuts.

U.S. pledges to make up for lost time in climate fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States gathered China, India and the world's other top greenhouse gas polluters in Washington on Monday to "make up for lost time" and lay the groundwork for a U.N. deal to fight climate change.

The meeting, which U.S. President Barack Obama called last month, groups countries that produce about 75 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions to find ways to help seal a global warming pact this year.

Time low in global warming fight: Prince Charles

ROME (AFP) – Time is quickly running out in the battle against global warming, and history will judge the world's response to the crisis, Prince Charles of Britain told Italian lawmakers Monday.

"If we are to bequeath to our children a world that is fit to inhabit, then I fear we must act now," said Charles during a visit to Rome. "What on earth is the point of procrastinating?

"History will judge us by how we respond to climate change. Do we want our children and grandchildren to ... see this as the time we allowed a new darkness to sprawl across our future?" he asked Italian lawmakers and other government leaders.

Arctic CO2 levels growing at an 'unprecedented rate', say scientists

"It is not the level of CO2 that is the problem, because the earth will adapt. What is very worrying is the speed of change. Levels [here] are now increasing 2-3ppm a year.

"The rate of increase is much faster than only 10-20 years ago. You can almost see the changes taking place. Never before have CO2 levels increased so fast," he said.

I guess China's oil imports fell by 9% year over year. And if they import half then they're looking at a total drop of about 5%. Plus they're stockpiling more oil at these lower prices. So we could be looking at 6 or 7% yoy contraction in oil use in China. Yet they are claiming GDP growth. Ha ha HA!!

Icon -- Maybe the Chinese are fibbing...maybe not. But they are still commisioning one new coal fired electric plant PER WEEK the last I read. Oil obviously ins't the only fuel available to them for growth. I also wonder how they define "import oil". Little by little the Chinese have been expanding direct ownership of foreign oil production. If China ships 1 million bo from an overseas field they own, do they count that as imported? They are shiiping it into the country but, OTOH, they aren't buying imported oil from someone. I have no clue to what that answer is.

Rock and Icon,

If memory serves, in China 50-60% of oil still goes for heating and electricity generation. This is slowly changing as more coal and hydro(and some renewables) are filling this gap leaving more oil for transportation. As this mix changes we could see lower year over year growth in imports than many people think.

Like the rest of the World's economies the Chinese are in denial-IMO especially China, who consider themselves top dog now. I don't think the party line will exhibit any weakness.

And it is the fall in the export (of largely junk) that the Chinese are hurting from, and thus reducing their production and energy requirements. I can't see the truth on what is really happening there emerging soon.

You have to remember that China is much less dependent upon oil for GDP growth than the US is.

The Energy Export Databrowser now supports a new plot type that shows each country's energy mix (click on the "All Sources" tab). Creating an "All Sources" plot for Chinese energy consumption we can see that growth there is much more dependent on coal than it is on oil:

Switching back to the "Import/Export" plot we observe that China is pretty much "energy independent" when it comes to coal:

Now China may or may not be fibbing about GDP growth. I wouldn't trust their government pronouncements to be entirely accurate.

But I believe, based on the data from the BP Statistical Review, that it is at least possible they could grow while at the same time reducing their oil imports.

-- Jon

Geothermal explosion rocks green energy hopes

The bid to produce green power on a commercial scale using heat mined from subterranean rocks – or "hot rocks" – has suffered a major setback, with the breach of a four-kilometre-deep well on Friday in the Cooper Basin in South Australia.

This won't stop the ecotopians assuring us geothermal will save us. That includes MIT. I guess they overlooked a few problems like glitches with the underground plumbing. The granite is hot because it contains uranium. According to ecotopians radioactive rock = good but nukes = bad.

That would be the 'technologists', Boof.

Geothermal can be a huge benefit to us at a reasonable scale, just like any of the renewables.. but technologism is still swooning with the hazy promise of limitless power. I'm sure there are some self-styled Greens in that group.. but that doesn't tar the whole crowd, and going to big, or getting too greedy is still more than able to blow up in our faces.

jokuhl -- Might be a big future for geothermal but a long way to go yet I think. Not my specialty but I've followed efforts for 30 years. Worked for the company that owned the Geysers GT Field in N.CA. Worked to a degree but very difficult ops. During the late 70's oil boom lots of efforts in S La. to use deep high pressure wells that were drilled for oil/NG but failed and were given free to the effort. Still wasn't economical.

Geothermal sounds like a no brainer at first glance. But the engineering side is complex which leads to marginal economics. Actually, the most promising studies I've seen don't deal with massive deep well projects but shallow (100') low temperature projects utilized for commercial building heat sources. Not a lot of BTU's but the engineering is simple and, more importantly, cheap.

Leanan has linked to the story Little power price impact seen from U.S. renewable mandate.

The EIA report that underlies this can be found here. The analysis relates to the proposed federal mandate of 25% renewable energy by 2025.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. I have not read the report yet. We still have huge amount of existing facilities that need to be paid for, if they are to be used at all (or even if they are not, if we want their owners to remain solvent). The cost of new facilities will be in addition to the old facilities. How they will be paid for depends on what credit terms are available in the marketplace. There may be a reduction in the amount of coal used, at later points, but this is not a huge cost to the system.

According to the summary section of the report:

The higher renewable generation stimulated by the Federal RES leads to lower coal and natural gas generation. In the two RES cases, coal generation ranges between 182 billion kilowatthours (8 percent) and 257 billion kilowatthours (11 percent) below the reference case level. Similarly, natural gas generation in the two RES cases in 2030 is between 55 billion kilowatthours (6 percent) and 150 billion kilowatthours (15 percent) below the level projected in the reference case.

Given the amount of eligible renewable generation projected in the reference case, the RES is not expected to affect national average electricity prices until after 2020. As the required RES share increases to its maximum value in 2025, the value of RES credits increases, and impacts on national average electricity prices become evident. The peak effect on national average electricity prices, 2.7 percent in the RESFEC case and 2.9 percent in the RESNEC case, occurs as the required renewable share ramps up more rapidly than the demand for electricity is growing. In the later years of the projections, the impact on national average electricity prices is smaller, as the impact of the RES requirement on the cost of coal and natural gas, fuels whose use is reduced by added renewables, is increasingly reflected in electricity prices. By 2030, electricity prices are projected to be little changed from the reference case in both RES cases, with 2030 prices less than 1 percent higher than in the reference case.

I need to read through this to figure out what the report is saying. My impression is that the reason the federal standard does not have in impact immediately is because states already have renewable energy portfolio standards, and the federal doesn't add much too this. Thus, electricity costs may well be higher; it is just not the fault of the federal renewable energy standard. It is only later that the federal standards are higher, so it adds to the costs then.

I suspect that whoever is doing the report is biasing the findings in the direction that those writing the legislation would prefer.

Death knell sounds for Europe's beekeepers

That's so depressing, I haven't even started my first hive yet. Another step forward towards agricultural collapse. The pressure just keeps increasing, when can we expect peak agriculture?

The link doesn't open.

He's referring to a story posted up top. The link is there.


It's not just the bees....

From NPR's Living On Earth radio program:


This really is sickening. With all this evidence of the side-effects of pesticides, shouldn't we do more stringent tests (by independant labs, not just manufacturers) before this stuff is even marketed?

We're S_L_O_W_L_Y poisoning ourselves, our planet, our food sources....

My understanding is that bees have a crucial role as pollinators for all other plants particularly with regard to food crops. If the bee population crashes then agriculture crashes. Is this a correct interpretation?

Not a total crash. Honey bees are not native to North America. They were imported by Europeans for intensive agriculture. They are the only generalist pollinating insect, and are highly productive. Other insects/birds also pollinate (e.g., bumble bees).

IPM (powdered sugar in particular) can help control varroa, which seems to be the big problem.

Powdered sugar is helpful in controlling Varoa mites, but stronger measures are sometimes necessary. It used to be that beekeepers were just that - folks who kept bees and harvested honey at certain times of the year. Now its more accurate to call it bee management or even bee preservation. Beekeepers need to check hives frequently and intervene in a variety of ways to preserve colonies. Much of the is IPM, using powdered sugar dusting, screened bottom boards and brood cycle interruptions to decrease mite counts. However, sometimes mite counts are so high a miticide is the only way to save the colony. This year most beekeepers here in North West California are treating bees for Nosema, an intestinal virus that has been linked to colony collapse disorder.

Still 90% of feral hives have disappeared and beekeepers can only maintain colonies by maintaining close supervision and intervention as necessary. Luckily in our area there is not a lot of industrial agriculture with resultant pesticide use. The one large scale facility using pesticides is a bulb farm but that is located in greenhouses. I have four new colonies this spring, having lost last year's two to Varoa. I am completing an advanced beekeeping course and keeping my fingers crossed for better luck this summer.

Last week in the UK on BBC4 there was a documentary about the problems with honey bee colony collapse. One of the most interesting facts to emerge was that the urban bee colonies were in better health than the country cousins, they had a wider choice of food sources and some food was available almost the whole year round. The country cousins had it harder and one beekeeper described how a hive kept together for a year in east Anglia was split into three come October, one hive then kept in a natural wood and the other two hives on farms over the winter. By Spring the two hives kept on the farms were dead but the one in the wood was healthy.

There was discussion of the effect of pesticides, and most bees have a huge cocktail of various pesticides in their bodies. Some thought this could result in the bees navigation system breaking down.

In addition the commercially kept bees have the stress of being moved around. In the US 80% of your honey bees are moved in the spring to the central valley in California to pollinate the Almond trees. 80%!

Seems a good way to ensure any disease is spread very efficiently, add that to the stress and the pesticides the little creatures are carrying and is it any wonder that the poor little mites (bees) are dying out?

Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?, Science Daily, April 14, 2009:

For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.

There was a butterfly survey in south Germany a few years ago, and they realised that there was more diversity in the towns than in the countryside. The reason being that the towns have parks and gardens with a wide range of flowers, while the countryside is mostly monoculture full of chemicals.

The way to protect bees and other insects is to use less chemicals and to plant a wider variety of plants.

Mites wouldn't be that much of a problem if the bees were well fed and not poisoned by all the chemicals we put on our food.

Yes, it is the large-scale operators who are really in trouble, and deservedly so. Their's is an inherently unsustainable model, and it was just asking for trouble.

The future of beekeeping is millions of small-scale beekeepers tending little clusters of hives dotting the landscape. That more closely mimics the conditions under which the honey bees originally evolved, and is just bound to work a lot better.

"A hundred million trees are cut every year just to satisfy the junk-mail industry."

We should have congress outlaw junk mail, and fine companies who continue use it.
It would save postage costs, trees, and landfill space.

All that junk mail subsidizes the cost of the postman coming by your house and delivering that in addition to those bills that you don't want. I would imagine that without junk mail, they would have to cut mail delivery to once or twice a week, but that's merely speculation on my part.

The time has come for occasional mail. Twice a week is fine by me. Beyond the trees saved by reducing junk mail, think of the energy savings.

With e-mail, cell phones, and other delivery services like UPS, daily mail is really not necessary any more. A lot of the people I know don't even check their mail daily (because they have to walk down the block to a community mailbox, or go to the post office to check their PO box).

To many of us out in the country, the daily mail service serves many other uses.
If someone doesn't pickup their mail for a certain number of days, the rural carrier notifies the Sheriffs Department to have someone go out and check on them. Many times this saves the life of some elderly person that has fallen and injured themselves to where they can't get up or they are sick in bed.
Many rural people get their daily paper delivered via the mail (and many of these rural people have no internet service or slow dial-up accounts).
Sometimes vehicles break down and the rural resident is dependent on getting the necessary repair parts via the mail.
Just a few of the reasons to keep 6 day a week rural mail service in operation.

Get rid of the postal service and use the billions of dollars in savings to help rural people get those services you mention Jon. The country would still save lots of money.

I predict there won't be daily papers for too much longer.

Just a few of the reasons to keep 6 day a week rural mail service in operation.

I don't see that happening. They are already making plans to cut back to five days, and that's just the beginning.

As for the rest...if there's a need, there will have to be some other way to provide. Maybe the original Sears Roebuck model will return for delivering parts. And if people know the mail carrier won't be checking up on Grandma every day, they'll have to check on her themselves. I'm not a rabid Libertarian or anything, but I find it ridiculous to expect the federal government to check up the elderly every day.

I'm guessing that at some point the USPS will go to setting up some sort of centralized neighborhood delivery point as an alternative to delivering to each individual address. You already see this in some rural areas, where there are a cluster of mailboxes along a main road, and in some developments where there is a cluster of mailboxes at the entrance. There are even a few small towns where there is no delivery, just a post office with PO boxes that everyone must rent. These examples will increasingly become more common, and then the norm.

Nowhere, that’s an interesting point. That would make a billion trees every decade to send out junk mail. Even assuming that these are managed forests where the trees are replanted, how many reach harvest age in a decade? How much CO2 is sequestered in a billion mature trees per year? I don’t know, however I am inclined to think it is a fair amount. I have often wondered why the role of deforestation and loss of plant life is rarely discussed in the context of global warming and rising atmospheric CO2 content relative fossil fuel consumption.

I remember reading a humorous article published 3 or 4 decades ago. It was written as an account of an archaeological dig many centuries in the future. They were exploring a US that had been suddenly buried by a massive avalanche of a substance called "Free!"; this was due to an error by the postal service, in which the decimal for the bulk mail rate was accidentally shifted one place to the left.

Of course, this points out a simple way to considerably reduce the volume of "junk mail": simply raise the bulk mail rates. Much easier than trying to define what is or isn't "junk mail".

Grist posted an article a few days ago suggesting the swine flu outbreak was related to an industrial pig farm and its improper waste handling. The evidence seemed scant, but this is interesting. Apparently, "ground zero" is near the Smithfield farm in question.

If swine flu becomes an epidemic, the tactic used to fight it will be social distancing.

Public health officials would be called upon to enact voluntary plans that could keep people away from work, out of school and in their homes for as long as it takes to quell the threat of infection.

Businesses would be advised to let workers telecommute, Longini said. Sports teams would be encouraged to cancel practices and games and parents would be urged to keep small children at home, avoiding even playgroups and parks.

...Evidence that social distancing cuts infection comes directly from the worst flu outbreak in memory, the 1918 pandemic.

Cities that closed schools, churches and theaters during the early months of that deadly plague had peak weekly death rates about 50 percent lower than those of cities that imposed such measures later or not at all, according to a 2007 paper led by Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

I already work at keeping swine at a distance. And I never ever get social with them.

Ya - I'm immune anyway being Jewish.
My company has a hilarious prediction of 30% of people working from home in the event of a pandemic.
"Hi, honey, I'm home. Achoo. Ay Caramba !"

Being Jewish do you think the following may be a reasonable solution? Could you perform this rite with virii?

Two Rabbis were discussing their problems with squirrels in their synagogue attic. One Rabbi said they simply called an exterminator and they never saw the squirrels again. The other Rabbi said, "We just gave them all a bar mitzvah, and never saw the squirrels again."

Achoo. !

Large gatherings, conferences, sport events, business travel, vacations, restaurants would all be tagets. In short an economic stimulus package in reverse.
Response tactics through the use of contingency plans can be ratcheted up in response to the threat.
It occurs to me that in some areas social distancing will be an option and in others not so much.

The supermarket will be even more fun.

Another category of doomer:

Whether H1N1 turns out to be a real pandemic with deaths in millions, or a flash in the pan, it's given new meaning to the idea of preparation. "Flu preppers" have basements full of canned goods and bottled water, expecting to hole up for weeks or even months while hospitals -- lacking "surge capacity" -- turn into charnel houses.




Worst case scenario underlies US pandemic plan

WASHINGTON – Two million dead. Hospitals overwhelmed. Schools closed. Swaths of empty seats at baseball stadiums and houses of worship. An economic recovery snuffed out. We're nowhere close to what government planners say would be a worst-case scenario: a global flu pandemic. But government leaders at all levels, and major employers, have spent nearly four years planning for one in series of exercises.

Their reports, reviewed by The Associated Press, and interviews with participants paint a grim picture of what could happen if the swine flu gets severely out of control.

A full-scale pandemic — if it ever comes — could be expected to claim the lives of about 2 percent of those infected, about 2 million Americans.

Google Map showing possible and confirmed cases. If this begins to rapidly fill with markers . . .


Hey, great, I can get directions to my nearest outbreak. Isn't Google great ?

thanks for the new keyboard and monitor!

Anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu are widely advertised as a treatment for viral infection and may lessen the severity of an infection. However, it seems that most lethal cases are caused by secondary pneumonia infections after airway tissues have been damaged and made susceptible to bacteria.

I visited my local health department yesterday and inquired about obtaining a polyvalent pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax) since the demographic most severely affected is the 25-50 age group. I was informed that vaccine is reserved for those over the age of 65 and infants and that I would have to make a request to my private physician. The regular flu does most severely affect young children and the elderly, however, this flu, like the Spanish flu of 1918, has its most dire effects on those with unimpaired immune systems.

For the immunocompromised, health care workers, and those with significant exposure to the public, it may be a good idea to bolster your immune system against the likes of Streptococcus pnuemoniae.

Will public health officials make pneumococcal vaccine available to the 25-50 age group? Perhaps the supply is too limited.

However, it seems that most lethal cases are caused by secondary pneumonia infections after airway tissues have been damaged and made susceptible to bacteria.

Maybe. But I suspect what's really happening is a "cytokine storm." The body's immune system overreacts, and ends up destroying the village to save it, so to speak.

It's young adults who are suffering the highest mortality rates. This is what happened during the Spanish flu, and with the hantavirus outbreak. Usually, it's children and the elderly who die of the flu. (Which is why vaccinations are recommended for them.) But if what's causing the fatalities is cytokine storm, it's healthy young adults who die, because they have the strongest immune systems. (The first recognized victim of the hantavirus outbreak was a 19-year-old track star.) The lungs fill up with fluid, so it's easily mistaken for pneumonia.

Here are some snippets from "Infectious Disease News". It looks like the whole topic requires more research for clarification. I'm pretty sure that cytokine storms can cause considerable tissue damage. In many cases, secondary bacterial infection probably finishes you off.

"Within the last six weeks, two articles have been published that have forced infectious disease investigators and the public health community to reconsider their thinking about the cause of the remarkable mortality recorded during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, and in addition to reconsider recommendations made for pandemic preparedness. "
"In one, a group of investigators at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases undertook a retrospective autopsy study of people who died during that pandemic. They examined lung tissue specimens from 48 autopsies, and reviewed bacteriologic and pathologic data from 109 published autopsy series from the pandemic. They found that the substantial majority of deaths in that pandemic resulted directly from secondary bacterial pneumonia, including pneumococci, streptococci, Bacillus influenzae, and in some series, staphylococci. Bacillus influenzae is, of course, the same organism we know today as Haemophilus influenzae."

"Not found was much histological evidence of an out-of-control cytokine storm, with a huge outpouring of inflammatory fluid into alveoli, thus essentially drowning the patient in his or her own secretions."

"Authors of both of these reports point out that their findings have important implications for pandemic preparedness today. U.S. preparedness policy, and indeed that of almost all other countries, has been focused on preventing or modifying influenza virus infection itself. Thus, vaccine development and anti-viral drugs (eg, neuraminidase inhibitors) have been the major efforts, and a great deal of stockpiling has already taken place. Clearly it is equally necessary to stockpile antibiotics effective against primarily community-acquired organisms causing post-influenza pneumonia today, including both MSSA and MRSA. Much more consideration needs to be given to the possible role of pneumococcal and possibly other bacterial vaccines as part of pandemic preparedness."


It makes me wonder then how things might be different given that we immunize children against Hemophilus influenza and Streptococcus pneumoniae (which is Pneumococcus). We have been using the H.Flu vaccine since roughly 1990 and the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar in babies since the late 1990's. Not sure how long the immunity was supposed to last.

In any event. before more of a public health mentality ensues, it could be a good thing to get a Pneumococcal vaccine (from a private physician) if you are so inclined. Effective antibiotics can be as inexpensive as a course of doxycycline if you are wanting to fight the more common pneumonia bacteria.

On the other hand, the thought of hundreds of people down with MRSA pneumonia is a doomsday scenario I am not happy to entertain. Communities such as Boulder, with high MRSA rates, make me worry.

BTW, fluid in the lungs vs. pneumonia should look entirely different on XR and certainly on microscopy, even though the symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) might be similar. Even on stethoscope examination they should sound different. Besides the sturdy immune response, what could be different in a young person is that they have not had a chance to get some immunity against pneumococcus yet, whereas a lot of people get "walking pneumonia" at some time in their lives.

BTW, fluid in the lungs vs. pneumonia should look entirely different on XR and certainly on microscopy, even though the symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) might be similar.

I've no doubt we can tell the difference, but are they using that technology in Mexico, where the deaths occurred? And it didn't exist during the Spanish flu pandemic.

Besides the sturdy immune response, what could be different in a young person is that they have not had a chance to get some immunity against pneumococcus yet, whereas a lot of people get "walking pneumonia" at some time in their lives.

True, but the so-called "young adults" are not really that young. They are talking 20-50 years old. Young, as compared to the seniors who usually suffer flu deaths.

Another curious thing about the Spanish flu...it happened in the summer, the opposite of the usual flu pattern.

I am reading that the first wave of 1918 Spanish flu was mild, and itpassed around the globe with few deaths during the first spring and summer. It was followed by two more pandemics of the lethal kind, and it is now thought the genes in this later variant were capable of triggering the 'cytokine' storm in younger and fitter people with powerful immune responses. RNA viruses are inherently unstable and sometimes generate viable forms from recombinant genomes. These forms are subject to selection by the conditions in successive hosts. There are parallels with this in what we are seeing now, but it will take time to confirm yes or no. Deaths outside of Mexico might indicate the beginning of a 'phase 2'. With luck this one might attenuate during human to human transmission, but again it is too early to tell. Concerning global spread, we do things quicker these days with airplanes compared with ship and rail connections.
I have seen a British military cemetery in Skopje (now in Macedonia) where the graves were all young military and nursing staff killed by the flu during the brief period after WW1 and after the end of hostilities in the region. My Aunt Jenny was born in Britain 1918/19 and orphaned by the flu at the age of a few months, and was adopted by mother's family.

Deaths outside of Mexico might indicate the beginning of a 'phase 2'.

I hope not.

California Declares State of Emergency Over Swine Flu

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Tuesday to respond to the swine flu outbreak as two fatalities in Los Angeles were being investigated for possible links to the virus.

...Los Angeles Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey told the Los Angeles Times that a hospital in Bellflower, Calif., reported the death of a 33-year-old Long Beach man who was brought in Saturday with symptoms resembling swine flu. The other death was a 45-year-old La Mirada man who died April 22 at a Norwalk, Calif., hospital.

Here is a chart of deaths per 1,000 people during the Spanish flu, by time (I think for the UK). Note that the maximum death rate was the Fall of 1918.


The chart shows the initial wave followed by a much larger peak at a 4 to 5 month interval.

The information from Mexico is conflicting but there are reports that the first illness was seen in December / January. After a four month period we are now hearing of deaths in Mexico. This would suggest that the virus has had the time to adapt and become more lethal. If this view is correct then we should see a growing rise in the death count from Mexico.

Or Phase Two might be this fall.

My interpretation is that Mexico may now be on the cusp of Phase Two and we would see Phase Two in the northern US and Canada after a 3 or 4 month lag so the fall sounds about right.

If the virus has evolved to a more lethal form (and I hesitate to use the word "evolved" as it may invoke a massive debate on what it has meant over the past 6,000 years of global existence) then a key question would be the degree to which modern transportation networks facilitate the spread of the lethal form.

1918 was the era of the steamship, railroad and telegraph. It was two days between Chicago and New York on a fast train, seven days New York to London on a fast ship and the majority of people did not have the money or inclination to travel.

Not sure how relevant speed of transport is, if it's human-human transmissible then only one case has to be transported from a distant locale to establish the illness in a new location.

Authorities have stated that this virus is human - human transmissible so it has effectively gone worldwide already, having reched Australia which is on the opposite side of the planet to Mexico. We are now waiting to see how virulent and lethal it is in the broader global community.

It is possible that there is some broad socioeconomic issue in Mexico that has made the virus more lethal, e.g poor general nutrition or sanitation, or even the high levels of stress that may be prevelant in a country that is in deep political, social and economic turmoil.

Deaths due to swine flu in the US in the 20 - 50 year old age group would be a real worry.

From crystal ball gazing, August and September this year are looking kind of stressfull globally which puts us right in the crosshairs of this virus and it's cycle time as mentioned by commenters above.

We should "know" what to expect from this virus in about a week, but it's starting to look a bit more dangerous than SARS. Some of the comments made by epidemiologists in regard to the genetic mix of swine, avian and human material in this virus and it's ability to adapt and mutate are making my sixth sense twitch a little.

It is possible that there is some broad socioeconomic issue in Mexico that has made the virus more lethal, e.g poor general nutrition or sanitation, or even the high levels of stress that may be prevelant in a country that is in deep political, social and economic turmoil.

We know that we have some serious sampling biases with the Mexican virulence data, but I don't think we have any clue how to correct for them. So far the OECD infection data suffers from small sample size, so we can't take any real comfort from the lack of deaths so far.

It would not be surprising if the epidemic seemed to abate for the summer season, and re-appear in the fall. If so it is fairly likely that the virus will have "evolved" somewhat, so predicting what it will be like is a fools errand. Hopefully (and it is still possible), this thing is no more virulent than ordinary seasonal flu.

I think Paranoid hit the bull's eye with the secondary pneumonia infection. I seriously doubt that vaccinations occur at the same rate in Mexico as they do in the US.

If this is accurate, then many of the deaths should be occurring due to secondary infections in Mexico, but very few of those should be occurring where vaccinations are widely used.

With infections leveling off in Mexico, we may have lucked out. However, if the infection gets a toe hold in any areas with low levels of vaccination, we should see flare ups here and there.


The idea that bacterial pneumonia is the major cause of death in influenza pandemics (as well as the yearly run-of-the-mill influenza that kills babies and the elderly) is not new, according to the article already quoted at http://www.nih.gov/news/health/aug2008/niaid-19.htm

Pathologists of the time, he adds, were nearly unanimous in the conviction that deaths were not caused directly by the then-unidentified influenza virus, but rather resulted from severe secondary pneumonia caused by various bacteria. Absent the secondary bacterial infections, many patients might have survived, experts at the time believed. Indeed, the availability of antibiotics during the other influenza pandemics of the 20th century, specifically those of 1957 and 1968, was probably a key factor in the lower number of worldwide deaths during those outbreaks, notes Dr. Morens.

They did have x-ray, and stethoscope, and so do Mexico City physicians. We used x-rays in Tanzania in 1986... they are not fancy.

It's pretty amazing how the west in particular has become so taken up with modern medical science, vaccines for viruses and anti-biotics for bacterial infections. On page three of chapter 1 of the Irwin Stone book l link to below, paragraph 8 reads:

In nearly all the mammals, ascorbic acid is manufactured in the liver from the blood sugar, glucose. The conversion proceeds stepwise, each step being controlled by a different enzyme. The mutation that occurred in our ancestral monkey destroyed his ability to manufacture the last enzyme in this series -- L-gulonolactone oxidase. This prevented his liver from converting L-gulonolactone into ascorbic acid, which was needed to carry out the various biochemical processes of life. The lack of this enzyme made this animal susceptible to the deadly disease, scurvy. To this day, millions of years later, all the descendants of this mutated animal, including man, have the intermediate enzymes but lack the last one. And that is why man cannot make ascorbic acid in his liver.

So if you follow Stone's hypothesis, we human beings face a fatal negative feedback loop whenever heavy demands are made on our immune systems. During such periods, our stocks of vitamin C get depleted rapidly, leaving us more vulnerable to infection. In the mammals that do produce vitamin C in their liver, stress such as a wound or infection precipitates a biofeedback response that increases production of vitamin C to cope with the stress. Paragraph 11 reads:

To the best of our knowledge, only two other non-primate mammals have suffered a similar mutation and have survived. How many others may have similarly mutated and died off, we shall never know. The guinea pig survived in the warm lush forests of New Guinea where vegetation rich in fresh ascorbic acid was readily available. The other mammal is a fruit-eating bat (Pteropus medius) from India. The only other vertebrates that are known to harbor this defective gene are certain passeriforme birds.

This would suggest that the best response to any infection, physical or emotional stress would be to drastically increase ones intake of vitamin C, a la Robert Cathcart with IV administration being used for severe cases.

I am not a doctor. I just found all this stuff by donig research on the internet. I can only speculate as to why most doctors are completely ignorant of this stuff.

Alan from the islands

Because 99% of the doctors today, are like 99% of the politians...only in it for the money.

Read up on Linus Pauling's extensive work with Vitamin C. It will open your eyes a little more.

And no, he did not invent LINUX......

But he is the second order namesake of Linux, as Linus Torvalds was named for him.

I would note, the discovery that Vitamin C helps is a product of modern medicine. Beats the heck out of bloodletting.

I think the discovery of vitamins in general has been a sort of golden era for medicine. Once the pharmacueticals realized that there was no chance of patent protection and thus super profits in the vitamin business, they quicly guided the health industry back to pushing their drugs.

Edit: The work of Stone and Klenner et al, predates the work of Linus Pauling and is fact what he based his work on.

Alan from the islands

But he is the second order namesake of Linux, as Linus Torvalds was named for him.

Not so.

Linus Torvalds was named after a character in the cartoon strip "Peanuts".

I heard differently from someone I would expect to know, but my knowledge is still second hand.

I called my doctor yesterday for a Tamiflu prescription, and was told the the CDC had order that no scripts get written unless you are already showing symptoms.

Although I can see the logic of that (keep a limited supply for those who need it), it also is kind of insane.

I already have a history of lung problems (asthma), and I work at an organization were people are constantly traveling to the current hot zones. In fact we are currently having a much scheduled conference, with attendees from the infected areas. An nobody has any intention of wearing a mask.

Plus, lets assume I do start to show symptoms, do you really want a person with the flu driving a vehicle all over the city? First to go to the doctors office then to the pharmacy? Assuming I can stay in control of my car (a big if when your that sick) I will be infecting everyone I come into contact with.

From what I have been reading, I think the way it works is that if your community were to have an outbreak, then massive restrictions would be implemented (schools, stores, public transportation, travel restrictions), and Tamiflu would be given prophylactically to indispensable workers, as well as therapeutically to folks with severe illness. After onset of symptoms (or after exposure to infected person), you have 48 hours to get full effectiveness from Tamiflu.

I think what gums up everything in this case is that the test result takes days to obtain, and meanwhile, infected people are steadily trickling in through airports (45 flights per day in LA alone). Kind of a boiled frog scenario - the whole time the frog is thinking "why jump out and risk further global economic disruption?"

I heard on the radio this afternoon that New York state is distributing tests that can confirm swine flu within 4 hours.

In a post a couple of days ago I wrote:

I would bet a considerable amount of money that, even the most severe influenzas could be cleared up with sufficient amounts of vitamin C supplemented with equally sufficient amounts of vitamin D. For an idea on the basis for this belief, you can have a look at the work of Robert Cathcart, the web sites of the Vitamin C Foundation, the aforementioned Vitamin D Council and DoctorYouself.com.

The web site about Robert Cathcart links to an article about a NC doctor called Frederick Klenner who had some remarkable results with patients displaying the onset of polio during the polio outbreak of 1948. From the article:

“The treatment employed was vitamin C in massive doses. It was given like any other antibiotic every two to four hours. The initial dose was 1,000 to 2,000 mg, depending on age. Children up to four years received the injections intramuscularly. Since laboratory facilities for whole blood and urine determinations of the concentration of vitamin C were not available, the temperature curve was adopted as the guide for additional medication. The rectal temperature was recorded every two hours. No temperature response after the second hour was taken to indicate the second 1,000 or 2,000 mg. If there was a drop in fever after two hours, two more hours was allowed before the second dose. This schedule was followed for 24 hours. After this time the fever was consistently down, so the drug was given 1,000 to 2,000 mg every six hours for the next 48 hours. All patients were clinically well after 72 hours. After three patients had a relapse the drug was continued for at least 48 hours longer — 1,000 to 2,000 mg every eight to 12 hours. Where spinal taps were performed, it was the rule to find a reversion of the fluid to normal after the second thy of treatment.

The article is at a web site that hosts lots of material in a similar vein including some by Irwin Stone the author of this book (reproduced online with permission). I am yet to see anything credible that debunks the claims made by these people but there has been little enthusiasm for them either. I would have thought that in the face of a serious pandemic, TPTB would be interested in a cheap, low tech treatment that has great potential with little or no side effects and very low toxicity (vitamin C is less toxic than water).

I would be interested to hear about anything that debunks these claims. Not the flawed studies done by the Mayo clinic and others. This artcle outlines the kind of misinformation that has been spread and explains the reason many studies end up producing misleading results.

Now, however, vitamin C advocates are about to go on the offensive. In their new book, Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C (www.lulu.com), Professors Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts at the University of Manchester in Great Britain allege the RDA for vitamin C has mistakenly been set too low. For the past year the British professors have been taking researchers at the Institutes of Medicine (IM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to task for faulty science. Drs. Hickey and Roberts claim researchers established the current RDA for vitamin C without recognition of its half-life. In about 30 minutes, half of any dose of vitamin C disappears from the human body. The RDA was established by measuring blood plasma levels of vitamin C 12 hours, or 24 half-lives, after consumption. "To be blunt," says Hickey, "the NIH gave a dose of vitamin C, waited until it had been excreted, and then measured blood levels."

Of course, adequate levels of vitamin D are also required.

Alan from the islands

The mortality rate seems relatively high around at least 6% (152 / 2583) but not all the non fatal occurrences are being reported, for comparison the usual mortality rate for the flu is around 0.1%. The Spanish flu had a mortality rate between 2% and 20%.

There is also some reporting of past pandemics that suggests that influenza follows a wave pattern. The first wave shows low lethality and that is followed approximately six months later by a much more lethal strain of the same virus.

Influenza has great capacity to adapt to its host and this need for an adaptation period is what gives rise to a change in lethality.

The evidence form the 1918 pandemic is that those exposed in the first wave built resistance and were not affected by the second more lethal wave.

This is not to be confused with what Leanan was stating about this virus attacking those with strong immune systems. The virus triggers an immune system failure with the result that your own immune system works against your other cells and this results in your death.

The Spanish flu mortaity in some remote populations was even higher, in Labrador, it killed close to one third of the Inuit population. In some settlements the mortality rate was near or over 90%, in about a month 204 of the town of Okak's 263 residents were killed by the flu and in the town of Hebron the flu killed 86 of 100 residents. At Sillutalik the flu killed 40 of 45 residents, while 13 of 18 people died at Orlik.

Apparently this was due to the fact that remote populations lacked exposure to garden variety flue so when this much more lethal flue finally reached them they were completely defenseless.

There is a book 1491 which describes the Americas just prior to the European invasion. The early Spanish explorers found large aboriginal populations in the Mississippi basin but when later settlers arrived they found deserted "cities" and empty cropland. The thesis is that the Spaniards brought their pigs and disease to native peoples who had no prior exposure and no natural defenses and so they suffered the very high mortality rates you describe.

That is also a target population that due to local diet, has very minimal vitamin C in it. FWIW....

So, the choice is a couple of millions dead or a failed economic recovery (with its potential long term millions dead)? If you were "in charge" which do you choose?

As I commented on another Topic Post.

If you had contacted the Hong Kong flu like I ,my wife and two small children did in 1968-69 time frame you would never want to see something this viral again.

We vomited for days. Ran extremely high temperaturs. And was bed fast for about two weeks.

I didn't think we would make it. I have never been that sick in my life. I don't think I could handle contacting this swine flu due to being more advanced in age vs 20 something then.

So I am not leaving this farm until its over or a good vaccine is available. No church,no shopping,no movies,not gatherings of anykind, no handshakes,not even getting close to those who do the above.

If as bad as the Hong Kong? We are in worse shape due to lifestyle changes than back in the sixties.

You do NOT want to got there. Believe me. It will take the weak.


And the Hong Kong flu was the mildest of the flu pandemics. The Spanish flu was the worst, the Asian flu of the 1950s the second worst.

I note that "ground zero" is in the cooler mountains and the outbreak there was in winter.

The virus seems to be a real "tarball" of avian, swine and human flu viruses. What have they been feeding those pigs at the industrial pig farm?

Soylent Green Swine Feed.

Recent studies have show that it is not the cooler mountain air, but the low humidity that causes viruses to remain viable and airborne for much longer. Typically humidity and rain will wash out or precipitate a lot of the airborne viruses. Luckily on my part of the continental divide foothills this spring it has been record wet and humid (very unusual). Next fall is anyones' guess though...

The link contains circumstantial evidence to support a US producer hog farm as the source.

What is interesting is that if this does become a global pandemic then we have a case of private industry relocating to foreign jurisdictions to evade regulations. This results in private retention of all profit but the socialization of all costs; in the event of a pandemic then a great many people are going to pay with their lives for the degree to which laissez-faire globalization was forced upon them with little or no opportunity for them to vote on the issue.

This bears much similarity to the global financial crisis which also acts to socialize the costs of default. It is notable that the UK may be facing sovereign default. Key to the growth of the UK financial industry was a lax regulatory environment and low taxes.

Privatization of profit and socialization of costs are the modus operandi of hog factories. I have to put up with at least 7 of them around my place and have complained here that no one can be serious about human population control if they do not want to kill the hogs. The hog factory stench is horrendous and when the pits are emptied and spread on the fields it is nearly unbearable.

But is has been the policy of the government to have cheap grain for decades. Hog farmers with the help of corporations like Smithfield and Christensen Farms take advantage of the cheap grain to increase their profit. Only lately with the advent of ethanol has there been more competition for corn use. Hog and chicken producers have complained and are part of the anti ethanol jihad.

113 million hogs are slaughtered in the US each year. They eat a lot of corn and soybeans that could be used for human food or for less polluting animals. They waste large amounts of energy in pork production that could be used to make ethanol and now it is becoming more and more obvious they host diseases.

Yet it continues. The costs of the stench, the diseases and the deaths from swine flu and such are borne by society in general. The profits go to the hog factory operators and corporate meat conglomerates like Smithfield and that is why hogs factories are so difficult to close.

There is a sign on a big rock on 35W about half way between Des Moines and Minneapolis: "Hogs Don't Vote". They may not vote, but they sure know how to lobby and get politicians to do there bidding.

My guess is that hog factories isent the problem since they dont mix hogs, people and foul in close proxemity. It is more likely that the problem is closely packed poor people where disease that kills fairly fast has a good chance for finding new hosts before killing the current one and where people also have hogs and foul.

Natural occuring pandemia would thus probably not be as frequent if people had good living conditions.

Sadly this is probably already being seen in the demographics. Where the luxury of early recognition, premium care, and social distancing mitigation are the norm the 'fire' will tend to not reach the intensity as under the conditions you describe.

But could the conditions within the farm where litter counts, weight, and production are constanly being pushed with antibiotic treatment have provided the 'trigger' in a nice new highly resistant strain?

It would be interesting indeed to know what kind of 'issues' they had been combating at Smithfield and how much contamination they were leaking. Looks like they have history.

Antibiotics are medicine against bacteria, not viruses like flu. If antibiotic use affect the viruses it must be via some kind of secondary effect and I have no hypotesis for such an effect. The overuse of antibiotics might however make it hard or impossible to handle the bacterial infection you might get during or after the flu infection.

So that's a problem with the hog farm hypothesis, interesting.

And the fact that the virus seems to be a mix of human, swine and avian means the 'bred-by-contact' idea is more plausible?

Viruses "exchange" genetic inforamtion when a cell is invaded by two or more viruses at the same time and they get mixed up. I dont know if it is possible to figure out the sequenze of exchanges and the species of the host animal during each step in the process that happaned to give a viable virus.

I've heard some WHO folks state that viruses develop resistance to anti-viral drugs, Hog producers may be using antivirals to manage problems in thier animals. Scary thought.

Hog producers may be using antivirals to manage problems in thier animals.

According to this
it's quite common.

And another interesting piece

Manitoba's chief veterinarian Dr. Wayne Lees called pigs a "mixing vessel" for flu, since the animal has receptors in its trachea for bird flu and human flu, along with a susceptibility to swine flu. Lees said human flu prefers human hosts, bird flu prefers birds and swine flu normally likes pigs -- but he warned viruses can mutate quickly and jump from species to species.

I remember reading a site on the avian flu, though the factory farm method apply's the same, that if you introduce a pathogen at one end of a factory farm at the other end the pathogen has become more deadly and immune to many antibiotics.

Here in Iowa the officials are worrying about the virus spreading from people to swine. That's right from people to pigs.

A BBC report quoted an anonymous doctor in Mexico saying the government if forcing doctors to put anything but swine flu as cause of death. The doc believes the death rate in Mexico is much higher than officially reported.

Could the deaths in Mexico are related to the poor nutrition many Mexicans live with? The American teenagers who got sick but quickly recovered is the result of them being members of rich families.

"Here in Iowa the officials are worrying about the virus spreading from people to swine."

this is too strange to be fiction.

what is next ? man bites dog, dog gets rabies.

I happen to live in Florida and this really makes me very angry!


The next seafood frontier: The ocean
Facing a global seafood crisis, one startup's solution is to farm the open seas.

Unfortunately, Open Blue couldn't grow any further in U.S. territorial waters, which extend up to 200 miles offshore. (Open Blue's Puerto Rico operation was two miles out). The experimental farm required regulatory approval from no fewer than 20 U.S. agencies, and the government imposed a strict limit: Open Blue could produce no more than 50 tons of cobia per year, which it did in 2008, netting $500,000.

O'Hanlon struggled with red tape for six years before giving up and moving to Panama, where he faces far fewer regulations. He describes his forced departure as "a disservice to America" because the U.S. already imports more than 80% of its seafood and runs an annual seafood trade deficit of $9 billion, second only to oil.

The official government response: "Our role is to enable aquaculture in a safe way, under the toughest environmental regulations on earth," says Michael Rubino, head of NOAA's aquaculture program. "Making room for new things is not going to happen overnight."

Yeah, but we seem to have no qualms about allowing new drilling for oil of the coast of Florida, are we a country of idiots or what?


Fla. House passes bill to allow offshore drilling
Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The promise of money and jobs and the desire to reduce dependence on foreign oil beat out arguments that offshore drilling could harm the environment and hurt tourism as the House passed a bill Monday that could allow wells three miles off Florida's coast.

The Canadian west coast supports a large number of salmon farms which use similar floating pens in inlets. Fish farming supports the growth of aquatic lice and these have infected the wild salmon stock such that there is concern that the wild population will crash.

The kind of large scale fish farming being proposed will likely overwhelm the local eco-system and result in similar negative impacts which may not be evident for 10 or 15 years.

It is worrying to contemplate the degree to which recent global "growth" has derived from firms seeking to escape regulation. We may have gained cheaper food and larger volumes of food but at what hidden cost?

edited to correct "wet coast" The other coast is equally wet.

If that stands for blow out prevention, (ex deep sea rig diver here) you would do best to read up on their technology, you know, to prevent a blowout.

The kind of large scale fish farming being proposed will likely overwhelm the local eco-system and result in similar negative impacts which may not be evident for 10 or 15 years.

On what do you base that comment?

* Farms are located in the deserts of the sea, far from sensitive ecosystems in deep water with strong currents, reducing environmental impact.

* Fish are fed natural, high quality diets and raised at low stocking densities in pristine open ocean waters resulting in healthier fish free of pcb's, mercury, pesticides, colorants, hormones and antibiotics.

Comment was based on reports out of BC. Commercial fish farming was established there primarily in tide flushed coastal inlets.

One place that has garnered international media attention is British Columbia's Broughton Archipelago. There, juvenile wild salmon must "run a gauntlet" of large fish farms located off-shore near river outlets before making their way to sea. It is alleged that the farms cause such severe sea lice infestations that one study predicted a 99% collapse in the wild salmon population in another four years.[7] This claim, however, has been criticized by numerous scientists who question the correlation between increased fish farming and increases in sea lice infestation among wild salmon.


Due to being confined in pens the farmed fish are susceptible to disease and are fed antibiotics to manage this with the antibiotics then entering the food chain. The major difference between aquatic farming and swine and cattle production is that few humans get to experience the negative environmental impacts.

Deep sea diver? What sea? I could tell you about my training as a clearance diver but that is a pretty disgusting tale. Not pretty at all.

Deep sea diver? What sea?

South Western Atlantic Ocean.

I was certified 500ft for saturation diving by Sub Sea Oil in Zingonia Italy. I worked for a Brazilian company named Technosub in the late 70's we were subcontracted by Petrobras mostly in the Campos Basin off Rio de Janeiro state. I have to admit it was very nice diving all in all. The spearfishing off the rig wasn't bad either, fresh dolphin sure beats the frozen beef transported by tug boat any day.

I'm from back in the straight air, open circuit, steel tank days. Played with heli-ox in training but never used it operationally.

You had a better environment. All my underwater time was in the Pacific Northwest in piss poor conditions which still give me the willies if I start to think of it. In our off hours we dove for abalone and geoduck and feasted on those. If the world ever took the cold war hot I had a couple of spots picked out where I figured I could survive as a true bottom feeder!!

I get the sense that the fish farm move south may have undercut your employment opportunities. Sorry to hear it if that is the case. My concern is that one of the most pristine and beautiful wildernesses ever created, places so breathtaking that they should be kept secret forever, have instead been converted into factory farms shoveling dead flesh into the maw of urban dwellers who would scare themselves to death if they ever looked up at a true night sky.

I lived in Micronesia, and supplemented my income spear fishing (mostly free diving, but we did some crazy other stuff (I once did a 207 foot dive with an aluminum 80).
Anyway, keep the greed heads away from what is left.

I once did a 207 foot dive with an aluminum 80

Yep, that qualifies you as borderline,(nah, completely) insane, join the club!
Craziest air dive I ever did was at 48 meters in a shipping channel with a 10L steel tank at 200 bar of pressure with a J valve reserve and only a wrist gauge for depth no BC either. I only did 5 minutes of bottom time in quasi zero viz but I know I was seriously buzzed. Almost no safety stop on the way up because I was so low on air I could hardly suck air out of my single stage Royal Mistral regulator.

My concern is that one of the most pristine and beautiful wildernesses ever created, places so breathtaking that they should be kept secret forever,have instead been converted into factory farms shoveling dead flesh into the maw of urban dwellers who would scare themselves to death if they ever looked up at a true night sky.

I hear you loud and clear!

I dove in some pretty pristine off the beaten path places in my day and I saw many of them completely destroyed. Today I live in South Florida Hollywood beach and am the president of www.Kayuba.org I support Reef rescue locally. I'm on some nice reef right off our beach. I still go diving as often as I can. Do my best to raise awareness.

I checked out what Open Blue Sea Farms is doing, as far as fish farming is concerned it's the best I've seen so far, I doubt they are perfect and they still have to feed the fish with all that it entails but I like where they have placed the cages.

I may be a bit crazy but I would like to see insect farming for protein production, maybe fish farming could be done with insect protein in the food pellets. We need more environmentally friendly means of supporting our burgeoning human population.


Oh, boy! War stories!!

On my worst dive I get pulled out of my rack at 0430 and told not to bother getting dressed as I am going diving. So I waddle up to the gear locker and don't take a morning leak in order to retain the secret diver's method of warming a wet suit. It turns out the opposite crew had borrowed our custom fitted gear and my suit had a stretched crotch. I didn't find this out until it tore open on entry. Now,instead of a flood of warmth, I had this big cooling problem.

A 120' fish packer had capsized and was floating upside down in the winter fog. Smaller craft nearby thought they heard knocks on the hull so we were to go see if we could find any breathers. So we get into this vessel and start slowly working through the compartments, find some stiffs but not what we want. Finally we end up in the last dinky space and that too is filled with water. My thought was "if every compartment is flooded then there is no air pocket then is nothing holding this puppy up!"

I was likely hypothermic at that point. I just beetled my way out, didn't follow procedure, was pretty much on autopilot with my partner, Fuzzy, trying hard to keep up.

So I surface along side the cutter and I am pretty helpless. They have to haul me up, pull off my gear, wrap me up in blankets and throw me down in the mess to get warm. My back is to the exterior bulkhead and through that I hear this strange snap, crackle, and pop. Then Fuzzy comes down the companion and he is white like a sheet, never seen him that way before. "Wow," he says, "thanks."

"For what?" I cannot figure out what he is going on about. I just do not understand why he is looking so peaked and ghosty.

"Cause if you hadn't zipped us out of there and we had come out slowly like we should we would have been inside when she went down." I didn't understand what he was talking about until much later. Charted depth was around 160 fathoms.

Best dive I ever made came the day a big storm pushed a navigation buoy off its mooring. It was still floating but was off the pinnacle it was supposed to mark and so now it was itself a hazard to navigation as it was invisible, floating maybe 10 to 15 feet under the surface. We did a lot of track searches but couldn't locate it. Finally the skipper comes to me and tells me to suit up. His idea is to tow me on a line astern the cutter and when I see the cage on this buoy looming up out of the dark 3 feet from my face piece I am somehow to let him know this was the last thing I saw on earth. At that point I informed him that unfortunately, according to the regs, I was no longer qualified to dive. Best dive ever. Have had a real soft spot for regulations ever since.

All the best!

160 fathoms is very deep silent and cold...
Great stories!

Arlen Specter is switching parties.

Smart move for Arlen. Would't you have liked to been a fly on the wall when the horse trading went on. It will be interesting to see what he ends up with. I don't know him too well but he's struck me as real hard ball player.


For what it's worth, your assessment of Arlen Specter is consistent with what I've heard sort of second hand. The brother of person I once worked with was a former aide to Specter and said that he's one ruthless hard-assed SOB.

In my book, "Magic Bullet' Specter (who, let's not forget, was part of the Warren Commission whitewash) is a living argument for Congressional age and term limits, to be sure. I say two senate terms max and a mandatory retirement age of maybe 66 or 68. In times like these we can't afford to have these living fossils calling the shots.

I guess that would take Roscoe Bartlett out of the picture as well and he seems to be a good guy, plugging the gospel of peak oil incessantly. Pity, it seems nobody';s listening to him. Videos I've seen of his presentations show him speaking to a mostly empty room. Sad

Alan from the islands

islandboy -

Unfortunately, for every Roscoe Bartlett and Ron Paul, we've had several times the likes of Jesse Helmes, John Stennis, Robert Byrd, and Strom Thurmond.

Unlike many other areas of human endeavor, the US Congress is a place where long experience is highly detrimental to the common good. Like a stable, it should be regularly cleaned out and disinfected.

Interesting joule. It's easy to knock any politician these days (especialy Feds) but it seems clear to me that the political system is running on the same business plan as corporate America. Not a big surprise given how money totally dominates the process now. Term limits might surpress its effect but given the blatant and unappoligetic approach politicians take today I wonder how much TL might help. The lobbies are still intact and will chew on any new meat just a readily as the old fossils.

Arlen needs to pass into that great pool of oil that all the other dinosaurs have waddled into and leave Government to those that truly have the needs of the people in mind. Another criminal just changed his mask is all he did.

Specter is a 79-year-old veteran of five Senate terms

One more reason we need term limits for congress. After 30+ years in Washington I find it very hard to believe this man is representing the people of PA before his own self interest. This move is purely political and aimed squarely at retaining his own power in a state that has moved to the left in recent elections. This type of politics disgusts me, regardless of party.

on saturday i needed some gasoline to visit my girl friend. i stopped in a gas station in town. NO GAS! the attendant says he ran out 15 minutes ago about 5 pm. no regular or premium. i stopped in a station about 10 miles away and 10 cents cheaper. anyone else experience "out of gas"? two weeks ago i was dog sick. congestion in sinuses and lungs, coughing, sneezing. i got over it with bed rest and vitamin d. then just yesterday i had general weakness, nausea and loose BM and slightly elevated temperature. so off to the doctor and $80 as no insurance. inconclusive. i mentioned the swine flu a few times, it being saturated in the news. the dr prescribed tamiflu. the side effects of tamiflu are generalized weakness, nausea and loose BM. not to mention convulsions, delirium and erratic behavior. as today i am much improved i thought it best not to fill the prescribtion. the dr mentioned high fever, 104, and bodily aches a a sure sign of swine flu. but i could have had a very mild case of it, i hope. with any luck i can survive the coming collapse with my fellow doomers. maybe i can even get a job loading corpses into the stockpiled coffins i heard tell about. one side effect of a pandemic is the electric grid going down, so even though i have a 3KW PV system on my roof, the grid goes down, my system becomes a $25,000 decoration. never, ever install a grid tied PV system.

i have a 3KW PV system on my roof, the grid goes down, my system becomes a $25,000 decoration. never, ever install a grid tied PV system.

If you already have the PV panels can't you get some charge controllers and some deep cycle batteries?
At least you can use a part of your investment, then add some sine wave inverters or get some DC appliances.

Hey if you want to get rid of your useless panels drop me a line I might be willing to take them off your hands when the grid collapses. PV is not brain surgery especially if the grid has collapsed there are no more rules, right?

Good luck,


To a much smaller scale I have what your sugestion is about. I have a golf cart. 36 VDC @200 amps and three 130 watt PV panels and controller to charge the batteries. On the output side I have a 3K inverter. I will have the ability for a couple small lights, limited power tools, the fan on the fireplace and most important, I will have power for our well. Reno is a good area in that we have lots of sunlight even in the winter. The fully charged cart is good for about 10 miles or in its normal use two rounds of 7200 yards.

BTW: As they close golf courses there are cart auctions and they sell for about the price of a new set of batteries (7 to 8 hundred USD). If you are going to get one, the 48 VDC cart is easier to PV. 2 X 24 panels, 48 volt inverter, and 48 volt controller are easier to find than the 36 volt equipment.

Last but not least until TSHTF the grandkids have a great time driving around the pasture.

Yeah, as FMag says,
Those panels are yours.. you don't need the grid for them to feed you. You can jumper in ahead of the inverter (with a little knowledge and caution), and use that power.

In the meantime, while the grid is up, you're getting a decent discount from the 3kw, no?

Seriously, make sure you get a few basic parts so you can glom onto them when the time comes. Hit the breaker and send jumper cables into a charge controller/ batt pack of any size, and you've got some options available to you.

Feel free to email me (click on my user info) if you want some specifics.


About the difficulties of providing Web content to people who don't have a lot of money:

In Developing Countries, Web Grows Without Profit

Web companies that rely on advertising are enjoying some of their most vibrant growth in developing countries. But those are also the same places where it can be the most expensive to operate, since Web companies often need more servers to make content available to parts of the world with limited bandwidth. And in those countries, online display advertising is least likely to translate into results.

This intractable contradiction has become a serious drag on the bottom lines of photo-sharing sites, social networks and video distributors like YouTube. It is also threatening the fervent idealism of Internet entrepreneurs, who hoped to unite the world in a single online village but are increasingly finding that the economics of that vision just do not work.

Last year, Veoh, a video-sharing site operated from San Diego, decided to block its service from users in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, citing the dim prospects of making money and the high cost of delivering video there.

“I believe in free, open communications,” Dmitry Shapiro, the company’s chief executive, said. “But these people are so hungry for this content. They sit and they watch and watch and watch. The problem is they are eating up bandwidth, and it’s very difficult to derive revenue from it.”

With all this swine flu around, why hasn't Washington and Wall Street been decimated?

Denninger posted a C-span video today featuring an interview with an apparently high level financial consultant/troubleshooter.

Her name is Janet Tavakoli, and she presents the most straightforward, lucid and damning summary of the financial mess I've seen so far. If more people were aware of this, there would (and should) be mobs surrounding Congress.

It's a bit long but it has a high signal to noise ratio. If you don't want to raise your blood pressure, give it a miss.


We lose 36,000 people, every year, to the "flu."

As of this morning, we had lost NO ONE to the "Swine Flu."

Hello Kdolliso,

I think you will agree that it is still too early to tell how this new flu variant will play out as it is still spreading and will probably create new mutations of itself over the few years. See other TODer postings on 1918 infectious waves.

The mere fact that it attacks young and middle-aged adults during the abnormal non-flu season is problematic, too, as these people are the ones most likely to see themselves as 'invincible'; they will continue to go to work to further spread contagion [and new mutations], while also attending movie theaters, bars & restaurants, sporting events, Cinco de Mayo [big in Phx] and other celebrations, far-flung vacations, ocean cruises, etc. In short: they will be highly reluctant to hit the sickbed until they truly feel 'real lousy'.

It will be interesting to see if the US govt [think Iron Triangle] proactively decides to drastically curtail public gatherings in imitation of Mexico's Govt, or if the US grassroots will undertake this task on its own volition as the contagion awareness spreads. Along with the CDC, I feel confident that market traders are closely watching attendance figures at new movie premieres and other public gatherings to see the trend.

It would be tragic if the movie Wolverine, for example, ultimately resulted in a multi-million infection and numerous deaths. Let's hope it bombs at the box-office from people deciding it is not worth the exposure risk, but makes it up with strong cable/sat home viewership and netflix rentals. We shall see...

It will be interesting to see if the US govt [think Iron Triangle] proactively decides to drastically curtail public gatherings in imitation of Mexico's Govt, or if the US grassroots will undertake this task on its own volition as the contagion awareness spreads. Along with the CDC, I feel confident that market traders are closely watching attendance figures at new movie premieres and other public gatherings to see the trend.

There is evidence from the 1918 flu that communities that took active prevention steps early on (social distancing mostly) had only about half the death rate of those that didn't. Such measures are not a panacea, but they can substantially reduce the toll. That may be more true today, as even delaying the epidemic could buy time for a vaccine to be created/tested/manufactured/distributed in time to matter.

Well, swine flu is not new. It arose in 1976 at Ft. Dix, NJ army camp in 1976. President Ford ordered vacinations for everyone. Eventually, 500 soldiers at Ft Dix were infected as well as many Americans. [PS. The normal annual flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people wordwide every year.] Forty million Americans were vacinated by December of 1976 (Ford was accused of doing a publicity stunt to get re-elected.) At the end of of the catastrophe, one American was dead - the original soldier who got it. On the other hand, hundreds or perhaps thousands suffered a parlysis from the vacination [Guien-Barre syndrome (sp. ????)].

The reason the market is not in the toilet is that this level four swine flu is not as bad as the economic analyst thought it would be. They also analyze oil and climate change.

Yes, I watched that this morning. If only she could be Treasury Sec. and Geithner and Paulson do a perp walk. She doesn't say anything that anyone who's been a regular TOD reader didn't already know although her explanation of the original intent was nice to know as was her description of how it all got perverted into something that could cripple the world economy. Her free info is now part of my bookmarks; hope to hear lots more from an obviously very smart person.

BTW, for any of you who haven't checked out that video yet - she started as a ChemEng doing work for oil refineries and, after marrying an Iranian and living in Iran during the overthrow of the Shah and rise of Khomeini, she went back to Chicago for her business education. Aside from the economics discussion, the interview paints a picture of a very interesting life.

Two thumbs up on this interview. Starts off slow but Ms Tavakoli knows Buffet, Dimon, Rubin and the others. As an insider she just rips them, alleges crony capitalism and a US Government helping to perpetrate a fraud of much greater scope than the one Madoff was involved with. She encourages Americans to write their congress people and if I was an American I would write a letter and deliver it on the end of a pitchfork.

A truly remarkable woman who speaks very clearly. A better Elizabeth Warren even?

We need women like this in power!

She perpetuates the myth that this was all the doing of some reckless financial types. Hey, people, if the steps she suggest had been taken, the result would not have been just a few bad apples thrown out of the game. The whole game would have come crashing down. Of course, crash it would eventually. I thought it would crash a lot earlier. It took that big oil spike to let the insiders know: Time to pull the plug and get out.

All of this is enough to make my head pop off! As for what foreign countries are doing with their oil and emissions...well we can't control that without providing a better example. It's all economics and if we make money by expanding our "green industries", then other nations will follow!

Take a look at what the youth is thinking


These kids wrote scripts or sent in videos on water efficiency and climate change flooding. Hopefully in the process they'll make a lot people think about their own water efficiency and carbon footprints.
Never hurts to put your ideas out there, so let's encourage them to keep at it. Give them a view and spread the word!

The Plug In Vehicle Scam -- Seeking Alpha

Listen up America – It's a scam! The emperor has no clothes! There is no such thing as a cost-effective electric vehicle that will carry a family of four at highway speeds. But the cautionary if not downright conservative analysis from sources as diverse and credible as the Department of Energy, the White House and Carnegie Mellon University somehow manages to get lost in a media sideshow that focuses on scientific breakthroughs that promise a 5-minute recharge time for batteries nobody can afford to buy.

I hate to be a buzz-kill and point out the brown object floating in the punch bowl but this graph comes from the DOE's brand new Annual Energy Outlook 2009 and shows their best estimate of the market penetration rates for various classes of hybrid electric vehicles over the next 20 years. In this chart, the PHEV-10 and PHEV-40 categories are the only cars with plugs. Everything else is either a full hybrid (HEV) or a mild hybrid (MHEV).

With due respect for emotionally committed carbon activists who sincerely believe plug-ins are the only way to save our beloved planet, the DOE estimates that cars with plugs will be 0.0% of the new car fleet in 2010, 1.1% of the new car fleet in 2015, 1.3% of the new car fleet in 2020, 1.8% of the new car fleet in 2025 and 2.3% of the new car fleet in 2030. In simpler terms, plug-in vehicles are not the Greatest Show on Earth and the three ring circus we fondly refer to as the auto industry would close the sideshow if it wasn't such a big draw for children of all ages (including government) that bring fat wallets.

If I read him right: since we aren't doing it now, we won't do it, and it'll never happen? And Li-Ion batteries are ugly and wear combat boots!

Not that I'm a big EV fan, but that article is a big piece of the brown object in the punch bowl.

Combat boots? So women who drive Prii will lose interest in shaving their armpits etc.?

The comments are a bit meatier than the story itself, understanding of which is predicated on having familiarity with Petersen's attitude towards lithium's prospects as viable tech for autos, which are based around more than DOE projections. Everyone knows what kind of BAU fantasyland those belong in, albeit he points out that they're not projecting them to have much inroad in the personal vehicle market either.

Lots of interesting reads in the Seeking Alpha archives, if you take an interest in Energy And Our Future. Don't know why I'm proselytizing to the TOD readership about that...call me a nut/cockeyed pessimist.

Re: Has "Peak Oil" Peaked?
(linked uptop)

Isn't this like the fifth time that Peak Oil has peaked?

In any case, Stephen Dubner is building a lot of his case on the recent article in the WSJ by Guy Chazen, "Squeeze that sponge." The EB posted my comments about this story at the following link (scroll down to the third story).


Here is an excerpt from the WSJ article:

"Peak oil" theorists believe the world's oil and gas supplies are fast running out. Champions of enhanced recovery, by contrast, say this isn't so, and point to steady upward revisions in estimates of the world's recoverable hydrocarbon reserves as the industry invents new ways to pump hard-to-get-at oil.

Two of the regions discussed by Chazen are Alaska and Norway. This is really rich. Chazen and Dubner are attempting to refute Peak Oil by citing the examples of two regions that are respectively down by about two-thirds and one-third since peaking.

Hello WT,

Please keep banging away at your keyboard on ELP & ELM & depletion.

Eventually, the MSM will understand that it is not the size of the reserves of any critical Element, but the actual global flowrate.

Example: Elemental Nitrogen is absolutely gargantuan, but now the affordable & actual applied flowrate is so minuscule in comparison to the pop. that 1 in 7 is now malnourished or worse [source: UN FAO].

If these badly informed authors extended their foolish mental extrapolations to Nitrogen, Water, etc--they would confidently say the existing reserves are so huge that it is clearly obvious & inevitable that we can anytime instantly transform our global deserts and drought-stricken areas into lushly green Gardens of Eden.

IMO, a typical desert cactus understands the dire importance of Elemental flowrates better than many of these authors.

WT, you posted a comment a couple of days ago which contained some pretty alarming crude production decline rates for several countries, that rekindled my interested in the technical (number crunching) situation with PO. Could you, or anyone, point me to TOD's most recent "number cruncher" articles on global decline rates, ELM and gross production stats please.

Production is of course down, but the key question is what happens when and if demand recovers and/or when the combination of voluntary + involuntary reductions in net oil exports bring the volume of exported oil below demand. I suspect that future declines in net oil exports will be mostly involuntary.

Isn't this like the fifth time that Peak Oil has peaked?

You are a hoot; using their own mind bending antics against them. LOL
As I've said time and again, the other siders (them, i.e. Freako-economics pundits) use linguistic trickery to convince the masses of the righteousness of their wrongful tales.

However, only the TOD faithful would pick up on your insider's joke, namely, that CERA and friends have ridiculed the Peak Oil "theorists" time and again with the Chicken Little allusion (Isn't this the 5th time you said the sky is falling? Isn't this the 5th time you said Peak Oil is here?) LOL. Good one.

Neptune production "falls of a cliff!"

Production at the BHP Billiton Ltd.-operated venture has “fallen off a cliff” from a peak in the third quarter last year shortly after it started up, JPMorgan said in an April 24 report. The partners may need to reduce reserve estimates or spend more to produce the same amount of oil, it said.

The $1.1 billion Neptune project, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, started production in July because of a delay after defects in the hull of the platform were detected in March. Output averaged 20,400 barrels a day of oil in the three months ended March 31, Woodside said last week, down from a peak of 50,000 barrels shortly after it started up.

full article:

I guess the declines in deep watrer can be quite deep!


Oh-oh, interesting observation Nawar.... (if it holds water I may add , the observation I mean - not the field), anyways ...

I'm getting a Jack 2 flashback here, without any further comparisons though.

Jumpin' Jack Flashback info -
The Jack 2 well is 175 miles (282 km) offshore in more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of water. The oil was extracted after drilling through more than 20,000 feet (6,100 m) of rock beneath the ocean floor.*** many world records here, I reckon (?) ***
Jack 2 proved the existence of a new play in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The estimated oil reserves the play could contain range between 3 and 15 billion barrels. *** nice range ***

Big Q pops up:
Will any of them newly found Insha'Allah Deep_water_Brazilian_fields hold any of those Neptune-characteristics ?

Nawar/pall -- That BP decline is much worse then typical DW declines. DW declines to tend to be rapid (down 80% or so in 5 or 7 years). That's the nature of the engineering more then the geology. Given the huge front end cost methods maximizing flow rate are employed. There must be something else wrong at Neptune. Either the engineering is failing or they badly estimated URR. Even with all the new technology we can still miss reserves estimate when Mother Earth decides to tell us where to stick our computer models.

As far as DW Brazil decline rates time will tell. But, again, the process is driven by the desire to maximize flow rate even if it hurts URR.

Peak oil has "peaked". Now that we have Swine flu to fear, no one in the media cares about oil.
When oil production falls to half the level that it is now, it will make the swine flu look like a picnic in the park! Swine flu may have a mortality rate of 1% of population which is a lot, but oil production decline will have a mortality rate of over 50%!

By the time we figure out how to slow global warming, oil production will be down below 50%.
People will not care about global warming when they have no food on the table to eat.

The opposite may be true.

I think of druggies and alcoholics who have no motivation to change until they put their life on the rocks and wake up to the fact that what they have been doing is insane and that they need to change.

I think of PO and the financial crisis and pandemics and AGW all taking place in the same interval and I think folks will wake from their slumber, start asking questions, seek an alternative mode of life, begin demanding change. Being anchored in a "non-negotiable" way of life is a big problem. Once you realize that "non-negotiablity" is the prerogative of mother earth alone then you realize you have no option but to accept and embrace change.

I just finished reading the articles in the ny papers about peak oil peaking.The people doing the writing and editing would be found guilty in any court of the grossest negligence and criminal intent to deceive if intellectual honesty had anything at all to do with mainstream journalism.

They tell us about how the production of a couple of fields has been extended by the use of enhanced recovery techniques without ever mentioning the HERD OF ELEPHANTSINTHE ROOM, which is that production in these very same fields peaked years ago and that production continues to fall year after year.OF COURSE we as readers opf the OIl DRUM know the facts, but the typical uninformed reader of this #### trash is going to come away thinking there is really nothing to worry about, and that WE peak oilers are just another bunch of wackos who will go away after awhile if every body laughs at us or simply pretends we don't exist.

Now it seems to me that maybe a few of the people involved in this kind of journalism may actually believe that there is nothing to worry about, and that therefore it's ok to whitewash the situation in order to save their readers from undue loss of sleep.Lots of breadwinners do basically the same thing when things aren't going so well at the office-tell a few little white lies to the spouse and kids.

The vast majority of them cannot possibly be that stupid.The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that THE WORD has come down from on high somewhere in the corporate ownership structure that if you want to get along,then you sure as hell better go along, because the owners and their buddies and the advertisers are much more interested in BAU than the truth.

Now this is a story as old as history, I guess, but it is a fine demonstration of just how far we have to go to get thru to the typical man/woman on the street. It also helps explain why we cannot count on any really effective interventions on the part of the government that might help us achieve a soft landing when things REALLY fall apart-which might well be within the next few years.

Mac: Of course the media is saying the words but if you want to write about oil, who could you ask for a story more qualified than Exxon, BP, Shell, Total, KSA, etc. Would you ask WT?

If you want to write about finance, who could you ask better qualified than Sec Treasury, Fed Reserve, POTUS, world famous economists, etc. Would you ask Ilargi?

The list of subjects goes on and on. It's only when things turn to caca do you hear, "No one would have ever anticipated something like that ever happening."

Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier posting series on a amputation countdown based on high extinction rates; digitizing somaticly for Optimal Overshoot Decline, if you will.

Looks like some are now willing to do it for a mere chance at gaining a hunk of cash:

Serbian's DIY amputation protest

A Serbian union official has cut off his little finger and eaten it, in protest at unpaid wages.

Zoran Bulatovic used a hacksaw to remove the digit and said "it hurt like hell".

He said some workers at the Raska Holding textile factory in Novi Pazar had been waiting years to be paid, and had nothing to eat, so he ate his finger to make an example...
Again, full credit goes to the so called 'primitive' tribe in Borneo for their early practice of this idea, but they added the digit to a necklace [not eating it].

After 2nd proofreading: edits added above for clarity.

Texas baby first flu death reported outside Mexico

..The World Health Organization said it may raise its pandemic alert level to phase five -- the second highest -- if it was confirmed that infected people in at least two countries were spreading the new disease to other people in a sustained way.

Swine Flu Vaccine May Be Months Away, Experts Say