DrumBeat: May 11, 2009

Peak oil, not speculation

After many years of solid growth, oil production plateaued in October 2004. Regardless of the price level, the oil supply simply stopped responding, and from then on, the world had to make do with broadly flat supplies. Ordinarily, the expansion of the world's economy would be accompanied by increased energy consumption and an inelastic oil supply might have been expected to hinder economic development. It didn't. In the four years to mid-2008, the world economy expanded by 18 percent. The global economy boomed, even without new oil.

However, this came at a price. In the absence of oil supply growth, demand accommodation was required. This was achieved by secular prices rises averaging 25 percent per annum from 2003 to the end of 2007. In other words, the price of oil went up, and this constrained consumption by causing the marginal consumer to drop out of the market. This proved a workable solution for a time, but the global economy could not sustain 25 percent annual price increases indefinitely, and by the second half 2007, the situation was becoming critical. Consumption was being maintained by continuing draws on inventories averaging 1.4 mbpd, and virtually every producer, with the possible exception of the Saudis, was running flat out. By early 2008, even the Saudis were throwing the kitchen sink at the market - all to no avail. On paper, it looked like a peak oil nightmare.

Hard times ahead: a discussion on the post-oil world

It would be interesting to see the readership poll results concerning where we think this country will be 15 to 20 years from now. Perhaps it should include some reference to where we stand with regard to the rest of the world. As you know, just a few of the factors that would influence our view of the future would involve the results of peak-oil, climate change, national debt, inflation, loss of manufacturing, increasing population, state fascism, a broken educational system, an unjust medical system, etc. I can only speculate upon your perspective but, my research does not present a very pretty picture. Chris Martenson says it so clearly with his catch phrase, “The next twenty years will be completely unlike the last twenty years.”

Ensco to cancel contract with Venezuela

Ensco International, which had one of its drilling rigs seized by Venezuela in January, said it plans to cancel that contract unless it is paid or an agreement is reached by 30 May.

Venezuela to take over 39 oil industry contractors

Venezuela's state oil company will take over 39 oil contractors with the backing of a new law, the government said Monday.

Nigeria struggles to meet Opec quota

Persisting unrest and violence in Nigeria's Niger Delta is preventing the African oil producer from meeting its Opec output quota, a senior Nigerian oil ministry official said today.

Natural Gas Is The Mania De Jour

Many are wondering what the heck is going on in the natural gas (NG) market, because if it’s suppose to be such an essential commodity, why does the price keep crashing, especially with stability found in the larger equity complex? To answer this question properly, we must first set the stage with the appropriate background understandings, where because of the extremes in pricing we are seeing here, previous efforts in this regard now appear insufficient. In the first place, in order to fully understand what is occurring here, one must realize that the NG market is now showing all the signs of an extreme manic blow-off, only instead of an upside exhaustion, we are witnessing a ‘selling panic’. In this regard then, the important thing to realize is extremes in speculation and emotion are now in control of this market, not the fundamentals, making it the ‘mania de jour’.

Activists See Economy Trumping Climate In Obama Auto Task Force

Economic concerns appear to be trumping environmental priorities in the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the U.S. auto industry, environmentalists say, pointing to perceived disagreements on the White House auto industry task force over how strongly to push initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increasing fuel efficiency standards.

Specifically, they say environmental officials on the cabinet-level panel -- including White House climate and energy policy “czar” Carol Browner and EPA Senior Climate Policy Counsel Lisa Heinzerling—appear to have had their recommendations overruled by Treasury and economic officials on the task force, which includes Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers. Browner and Heinzerling were expected to be strong voices within the task force for reducing the auto industry’s emissions.

BP brings 'green era' to a close

Environmental groups have accused BP of dropping its pledge to be green and replacing it with a commitment to be "responsible".

The oil giant was widely recognised as the first oil company to both acknowledge and tackle climate change.

Also, its in-house carbon trading scheme - built with a little help from an unlikely ally, the US-based Environmental Defense Fund - was among the first of its kind.

However, a change of chief executive has led to an apparent change of policy.

Coal Supply May Be Vastly Overestimated

Forget peak oil -- a series of new estimates of the world's coal supply suggests reserves may be vastly overestimated, and if the planet isn't running on a majority of alternative energies within the next few decades, we could be facing an unprecedented global energy crisis.

On the flip side, a dwindling supply of coal could also throw the breaks on global warming, some argue.

New Danish research shows how oil gets stuck underground

It is a mystery to many people why the world is running out of oil when most of the world's oilfields have only been half emptied. However some of the oil that has been located is trapped as droplets of oil in small cavities in the surrounding rock or is stuck to the walls of the underground cavity and cannot be accessed by the techniques currently used in the oil industry.

Now, new Danish research may have come up with an explanation as to where and how North Sea oil clings to underground rocks. This explanation could turn out to be the first step on the way to developing improved oil production techniques with the intent of increasing oil production from Danish oil fields.

OPEC faces uphill struggle to get $75 a barrel

LONDON (Reuters) - The OPEC members most dependent on costly oil face a long struggle as some demand has gone for good and a target of around $75 a barrel is a distant dream, the executive director of the Centre for Global Energy Studies said.

Fadhil Chalabi, who was previously a senior official in the Iraqi oil ministry and in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said last year's record prices of nearly $150 meant consumer countries were changing their habits.

Pride, Chevron agrees to terminate rig contract

(Reuters) - Pride International Inc said it agreed with Chevron Corp to terminate the remaining contract term of a rig in West Africa, after an inspection revealed "unacceptable" levels of corrosion.

'Iran needs foreign cash injection'

Iran will need foreign capital if it is to meet its plans to invest up to $30 billion a year in its oil sector, a senior oil official was quoted as saying.

"The available information indicates that the use of internal resources does not meet investment needs," the daily Resalat quoted Seiffolah Jashnsaz, managing director of state-run National Iranian Oil Company, as saying at a conference. "We must seek foreign investments."

Ghana: On the Cusp of an Oil Boom

Accra — Attempts to produce commercial quantities of oil in Ghana date from the late 19th Century, and at regular intervals between that time and the present the West African country has had its hopes dashed by enthusiastic announcements of commercial oil finds that have later turned out to be premature.

Nigeria: Refineries Can't Meet Domestic Demand - DPR

Kaduna — Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has stated that even if all the refineries in the country operate at their optimal level of 18 million litres per day, the country would still have to depend on importation of fuel as Nigeria's domestic demand as at today stands at about 31 million litres.

Lovins: "New" Nuclear Reactors, Same Old Story

Reprocessing of any kind makes waste management more difficult and complex, increases the volume and diversity of waste streams, increases by several- to manyfold the cost of nuclear fueling, and separates bomb-usable material that can’t be adequately measured or protected. Mainly for this last reason, all Presidents since Gerald Ford in 1976 (except G.W. Bush in 2006– 08) discouraged it. An IFR/pyroprocessing system would give any country immediate access to over a thousand bombs’ worth of plutonium to fuel it, facilities to recover that plutonium, and experts to separate and fabricate it into bomb cores—hardly a path to a safer world.

Safety threat to planned nuclear power stations

Britain's plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations have been thrown into jeopardy by startling official safety fears. The nuclear regulatory body in Finland, where the first of the reactors is being built, has taken the extraordinary step of threatening to halt its construction because it has not been satisfied that key safety systems will work.

The Future of the American Dream

As Franklin Roosevelt understood, Americans will postpone immediate gratification and endure hard sacrifices--if they must--so long as they are convinced the future can be better than the past. But we face a far more difficult problem at our moment in history. What do you promise people who have been told they can have anything they want, who are repeatedly congratulated for living in the best of all possible circumstances? How do you tell them "the good times," as we have known them, are not coming back? Americans need a new vision that helps them deal with reality, a promising story of the future that helps them let go of the past.

Flush with Camaro orders, GM workers on OT

In a rare bright spot amid a darkening automotive landscape, workers at the General Motors' Oshawa operation are being asked to work additional shifts to meet "huge" demand for the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.

Honda Insight first hybrid to rank top in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co said on Monday its new Insight model became the first hybrid to be crowned Japan's best-selling car last month.

The Insight went on sale in Japan in early February as Honda's first real attempt to challenge Toyota Motor Corp's dominance in the gasoline-electric hybrid segment.

The Vulnerability of Energy Infrastructure to Environmental Change

● Much energy infrastructure lies in areas that are predicted to become increasingly physically unstable owing to changes in the environment.

● Already there have been environment-related disruptions to hydroelectric installations, offshore oil and gas production, pipelines, electrical transmission and nuclear power generation.

● As a result of scheduled decommissioning, revised environmental standards, stimulus spending and new development, there is likely to be substantial investment in new energy infrastructure.

● It is critical that new and existing infrastructure be designed or retrofitted for changing environmental conditions.

● It is no longer sufficient only to assess our impact on the environment; now we must also assess the impact of a changing environment on us.

Mining the moon, they hope

If we can mine natural resources underground or underwater, then why not in outer space?

That is the kind of thinking that will rule this week as some of Canada's top engineers gather in Toronto for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum's (CIM) annual conference. One of its ongoing mandates is to make sure Canada keeps its historical leg-up in mining technology and innovation.

Thrifty wartime habits return

Sir Winston Churchill famously urged the UK to both eat and dig for victory to help cope with the shortages brought on by the war against the Nazis.

Now it would seem Second World War austerity is very much back in vogue to combat a newer but equally unforgiving enemy - the global recession.

When the oil gives out (new book excerpt)

One way to evaluate the prospects of Eldertown might be to start from the viewpoint of one of the more apocalyptic environmental groups. The peak oil movement focuses tightly on the issue of energy, the Achilles heel of industrial society. Convinced that global oil production will soon peak — or perhaps already has — the peak oilers predict a horrendous cascade of disasters in our near future. Cars, lacking fuel, will vanish from our lives. Suburbs dependent on commuting will have to be abandoned. Big-box stores will be empty as both the goods and money for consumption disappear. Big homes, too expensive to heat or cool, will stand untenanted. At the extreme, this is of course an unlivable world. But short of that, if one looks at the lifestyle such radical changes demand, are we not dealing with choices that elders are far more apt to make than a younger population? Smaller homes or condos in more densely populated centers. Less driving or no driving at all in private cars. Lower consumption. To be sure, environmentalists, who have never given any attention to aging, are apt to feel none of this will happen soon enough, but surely it is of some importance that one is working with rather than against a powerful demographic trend.

Elon Musk: Once The Electric Charge Dies, The Volt Is Like A Lawnmower

Here's a video from early April of Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, explaining why he isn't doing plug-in hybrids (via Gas 2.0.) He hedges in a weak preamble saying he's not trashing the Chevy Volt, and he hopes it successful. Then he proceeds to trash it.

China Outpaces U.S. in Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants

TIANJIN, China — China’s frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants has raised worries around the world about the effect on climate change. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the world’s largest emitter of gases that are warming the planet.

But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost.

Coal-to-liquids permit under fire

CASPER -- The Sierra Club has filed an appeal to state regulator officials seeking more stringent emission limits for Medicine Bow Fuel & Power, LLC's proposed coal-to-gasoline refinery in Carbon County.

The appeal was filed Monday with the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council, which oversees environmental regulations guiding the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

Arctic project faces never-before-seen obstacles

The Shtokman field is one of the world's largest natural gas fields, and it lies in the central part of the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, 600 kilometers (370 mi) north of Kola Peninsula. Its reserves are about 3.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and more than 37 million tons of gas condensate. That would be $2-4 trillion worth at present prices.

“Gazprom asked us to design the infrastructure to last for 50 years, which is probably not possible in those severe conditions,” the representative related, “but we can be sure of 25 years and we can repair and replace to make 50 years happen.”

Kuwait signs five deals with China for future projects

The Kuwait and Chinese governments signed five agreements on Sunday for projects in the oil, gas and environment sectors, as part of a push by Beijing to deepen ties with resource-rich countries.

Nigeria: Prices of Food Items Rise Due to Fuel Scarcity

Prices of food items have gone up in Lagos metropolis due to scarcity of petroleum products, investigations by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has revealed.

Prices of major food items have gone up by between 10 and 15 per cent in major markets in Lagos in the last two weeks.

Royal Dutch Shell Publishes 2008 Sustainability Report

HOUSTON -- Royal Dutch Shell released its 2008 Sustainability Report, describing the company’s ongoing efforts to help meet one of the defining challenges facing society this century: providing more energy and lower CO2 emissions, according to ReportAlert.info.

Kuwait's state budget projected to post surplus despite drop in oil income

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- The 2009-2010 fiscal is projected to post a new surplus amounting to approximately KD 4.8 billion despite fall in oil income, according to a report released by the National Bank of Kuwait on Monday.

The NBK report said the drop in oil reruns would be compensated by the state declared plan for slashing public expenditure.

The Middle Kingdom meets the Middle East

BEIJING (Reuters) - With no fanfare, a $5 billion (3.3 billion pounds) refinery in which Saudi Aramco has a 25 percent stake quietly began processing oil a couple of weeks ago in eastern China.

The start-up of the Fujian plant, half-owned by top state-owned refiner Sinopec (0386.HK), testifies to the thickening trade and investment ties between China and the Arab world.

Saudi crude supply to Asia for June largely steady

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, will keep its curb on crude supplies to Asian lifters largely steady for June versus May, but within a wide range of 7 to 14 percent, industry sources said on Monday. Five refiners have been told they will receive steady cuts, while a sixth will get even lower supplies, deepening the reductions beyond 10 percent. A seventh refiner was notified of a narrower curb of 7 percent against 11 percent for May.

"It is a little deeper than last month," said a trader with one of the refiners who had seen the Saudi notice.

Russian tanker escapes pirate attack off Somalia

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - A Russian oil tanker was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday but managed to escape with no casualties or damage, a Russian shipping company said.

The Liberia-flagged tanker, the NS Spirit, with the 22-member Russian crew, was sailing from South-East Asia to a Persian Gulf port with 36,000 tons of gasoline on its board. It was attacked at 1:00 p.m. Moscow time (9:00 GMT) on Sunday while passing through the Gulf of Aden, the Novorossiysk Shipping Company said.

Chinese ambassador: China-Russia oil pipeline serves strategic goals of both sides

MOSCOW (Xinhua) -- The construction of the China-Russia oil pipeline conforms with the strategic goals of China and Russia to diversify the former's energy imports and latter's energy exports, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Liu Guchang has said.

The move reflects the two countries' confidence and determination to tide over together the current global economic downturn, Liu said in a recent written interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

When Chevron Hires Ex-Reporter to Investigate Pollution, Chevron Looks Good

What did Chevron do when it learned that “60 Minutes” was preparing a potentially damaging report about oil company contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador? It hired a former journalist to produce a mirror image of the report, from the corporation’s point of view.

As a demonstration of just how far companies will go to counteract negative publicity, the Chevron case is extraordinary. Gene Randall, a former CNN correspondent, spent about five months on the project, which was posted on the Internet in April, three weeks before the “60 Minutes” report was shown on May 3.

It’s the oil price, stupid

If you want to know which direction the GCC economy is heading, always check the oil price.

The global economy is more interconnected than ever, and so is the GCC economy. And no other sector of the global and local economy is a more reliable indicator of future trends than the oil price.

Lester Brown - Needed: A Copernican Shift

Economic theory and economic indicators do not explain how the economy is disrupting and destroying the earth’s natural systems. Economic theory does not explain why Arctic sea ice is melting. It does not explain why grasslands are turning into desert in northwestern China, why coral reefs are dying in the South Pacific, or why the Newfoundland cod fishery collapsed. Nor does it explain why we are in the early stages of the greatest extinction of plants and animals since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. Yet economics is essential to measuring the cost to society of these excesses.

Evidence that the economy is in conflict with the earth’s natural systems can be seen in the daily news reports of collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, eroding soils, deteriorating rangelands, expanding deserts, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, falling water tables, rising temperatures, more destructive storms, melting glaciers, rising sea level, dying coral reefs, and disappearing species. These trends, which mark an increasingly stressed relationship between the economy and the earth’s ecosystem, are taking a growing economic toll. At some point, this could overwhelm the worldwide forces of progress, leading to economic decline.

Trinidad: Gas is not renewable

Prime Minister Manning is either the eternal optimist or has completely misread the global economy. This is not a traditional boom-bust cycle, his economic "blip". On its recovery the global economy, with respect to petroleum demand, will change. The world recognises that it is at, or, near to peak oil and gas production for economic, political and geological reasons.

The producers will be unable to meet traditional demands for cheap oil/gas that would have kept the global economies expanding according to the old paradigm. Hence economic recovery will be slow and countries will be looking at new energy mixes (nuclear, low carbon alternative/renewable energy), energy efficiency etc.

Australia: Regional projects work towards sustainability

Three rural areas west of Murwillumbah in New South Wales have launched an economic and environmental plan designed to ensure their sustainability.

The Caldera Economic Transition Project has received $45,000 in State Government funds to create sustainable ideas that will boost the local economy and benefit the planet.

New Zealand: How small scale bears fruit

The Whangarei Growers' Market is an example of how locally based and focused initiatives can help overcome the tyranny of distance and economies.

Translate distance and economy into fuel and costs, bring in a Transition Town initiative that encourages communities to act, produce and buy and sell locally, and it's full circle back to the growers' market model.

DVD Review: Crude Impact

Crude Impact is a broad look at the role of oil in our civilization, and the dangers we face as oil begins to run low. The scope of investigation is commendable, addressing oil conflict, the environment, and effects on developing countries, as well as the consequences for suburban lifestyles.

Obama Isn't Enforcing Immigration Laws

Historians will scratch their heads when they ask the question: “Why did Americans do it to themselves? What were they thinking? What were their leaders doing? Why didn’t they move to stop the obvious when they still had a chance? Why didn’t they take action in 2009 when they knew what they faced?”

Many profoundly educated experts addressed it: Too Many People by Lindsey Grant; Population Fix by Edward C. Hartman; Blind Spot by Adolfo Doring; Peak Everything by Richard Heinberg; The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler; Food, Energy and Society by David Pimental; How Complex Societies Collapse by Dr. Tainter; A Bicentennial Malthusiam Essay by John Rohe; The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich; The Transition Book by Rob Hopkins; The End of Nature by Bill McKibben and more.

Honda, GM Stick to Fuel-Cell Plans as Obama Guts Hydrogen Funds

(Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. say they’ll push ahead with development of hydrogen-powered autos after the Obama administration gutted fuel-cell funding plans in favor of biofuels and batteries.

Government climate change report calls for new institutions to curb global warming

A report commissioned by the British government will call today for an overhaul of global institutions to combat climate change.

The report, to be published by the Centre on International Co-operation at New York University, recommends the creation of powerful surveillance and enforcement mechanisms similar to those of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The new institutions would ensure countries honour their commitments to cut carbon emissions.

Will global warming affect fresh groundwater?

A November 2007 article in ScienceDaily posited that coastal communities could face significant losses of fresh water supplies as saltwater intrudes inland. And whereas it had been previously assumed that salty water could only intrude underground as far as it did above ground, new studies show that in some cases salt water can go 50 percent further inland underground than it does above ground.

Salty water invading groundwater can reach not only residential water supplies but intakes for agricultural irrigation and industrial uses, as well. Economic effects include loss of coastal fisheries and other industries, coastal protection costs, and the loss of once-valuable coastal property as people move inland.

The Maldives' Struggle to Stay Afloat

"We are sitting on a time bomb," says Abdul Azeez, a leading Maldivian environmentalist. For a nation of so small a size (the Maldives' population is less than 400,000), the new government's task is monumental. "It is as if, in the same country, both Saddam Hussein was toppled and the Berlin Wall fell," says Ahmed Naseer, a painter and dissident who lived in exile in Sri Lanka with Nasheed. It falls to the new President — a slight, erudite former journalist who peppers conversation with quotes from Dostoyevsky and Dante — to save the Maldives from sinking under the weight of its problems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of scientists, forecasts that sea levels will rise an estimated 2 ft. (60 cm) this century, enough to inundate a good portion of the country, many of whose 1,200 isles sit just 3 ft. (1 m) above the ocean.

Tragedy of the Heavens

On the surface, it appears we are suffering from the classic “Ec10” problem known as the tragedy of the commons: Certain people’s self-interest is destroying collective and open resources. But it’s not that simple. What action is self-interested and what’s not is hard to identify when prosperity—albeit unequal prosperity—has historically relied on the use of what was once thought to be an endless resource: the atmosphere.

The fact is, the temperature is rising in our house, and not everyone is responsible for the heat wave to the same degree. Yet everyone must be involved in the solution. Furthermore, we cannot simply market-eer our way out of the maelstrom.

Michel Jarraud: Global warming proof undeniable

The observed increase in global surface temperatures is unequivocal and a clear manifestation of global warming.

That conclusion comes in particular from 150 years of data collected by the 188 members of the World Meteorological Organisation through observing networks of tens of thousands of stations on land, at sea, in the air and from constellations of weather and climate satellites.

The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies

In the debate over mandatory policy to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, a major issue has been the potential impact on the competitiveness of American industry. Many are concerned that if the United States moves forward with mandatory climate policy while other countries do not, U.S. jobs and production will move to emerging economic powers like China and India. This economic relocation would be accompanied by emissions “leakage,” with greenhouse gas reductions in the United States offset by increases elsewhere.

For the most part, the climate competitiveness debate has proceeded in the absence of hard data. With this report, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change hopes to contribute to a firmer analytical understanding of the potential for competitiveness impacts and of policies to address them. Through a detailed econometric analysis, authors Joseph E. Aldy and William A. Pizer provide a unique and robust quantitative assessment of the potential competitiveness impacts of mandatory climate policy on U.S. industry. Their findings strongly suggest that such impacts would be both modest and manageable.

It seems to me that the price of regular gasoline has increased faster that the price of crude lately. Are my observations correct? If so, why the disproportionate increase?

Even though it may be good (or less harmful) for the environment, I fear that a high fuel price - even though lower than the record highs we saw last year - will be enough to strangle our (now weaker) economy (yet again).

An analogy I have been using is a dog (the world economy) on a chain (constrained energy supplies). The dog is convinced that he can escape the constraints of the chain if he tries just one more time, so he charges again and is jerked back. After each cycle, the chain is shortened, but because the dog--having read Peter Huber and Michael Lynch's work- doesn't believe in limits, so he is constantly surging forward and then being jerked back.

This analogy may be somewhat unfair to the canine world, most dogs would probably learn from their mistakes before most humans will acknowledge the difficulty inherent in trying to maintain an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base (my apologies).

...and this is why the timing of Peak Oil and -by definition- knowleddge of remaining reserves is so important to know because presently to a country the world is operating in "there's plenty of transition time left" mode...

If it where not, if it where known that shortly this chain (in your analogy) would wrap so tightly it would strangle the dog we would be putting a much bigger chunk of remaining resources into finding 'an answer' (if one exists...)


had the dog's chain ended up in a noose - the learning curve would have been much steeper.
That said - I think Peak Oil (and more) will act as that very noose from now on ... and into eternity...

You know, there seem to be two Michael Lynches to pick from the in the petroleum pundit pits:

Our boy:


And this old duffer:

Michael Lynch - Consultant - Michael E. Lynch - GLG

FYI. Confused me at first.

I like our ML. What spunk! We'll literally drown in the black stuff! Go to sleep!

You know I have never really looked into the writtings of Mr. Lynch before today. Maybe I should have to balance out the theories. I have followed this board and the contributors religiously for years, but never really researched "the other side" -- just rationalizing that resources were limited.

What struck me after reading snips of his work is that he is quick to push his agenda and not afraid to mock other points of view if it suits his purpose. Maybe that speaks more to him as a person than as a "scientist" but to me is strange.

Anywho, just my take as a guy who has no idea what's happening, but knows we are knee deep in something.

Take care.

To extend your analogy we still don't know if the chain is being reeled in fast or slow.

Collapse would occur if the dog makes the mistake of lunging forward during a period when the chain
is slack but gets reeled in rapidly breaking the dogs neck.

Again as you say unfair to the canine world and more applicable to human action as a group but
by expanding to include a variation in the rate the chain is reeled in you can see some very
nasty scenarios are possible. This variation can be because of rapid geologic depletion or because of
above ground factors but the key point is we probably won't see the chain reeled in at a steady slow pace.

When I was a kid we had a big, fast German Shepard that liked to chase cars. He would often be on a chain attached to an iron ring in the stone wall of the house. When a noisy truck would go by, he would run at full speed until he ran out of slack, whereupon the chain would yank his head up and his back feet would fly forward under him, and he would fall in a pile. He did this over and over - he knew where the chain stopped but did not care. Every now and then the choker chain would break and he'd be off.

There is no point to this story.

But why is regular going up faster than the price of crude?

Kloza blames crowd mentality not fundamentals (I trust this guy, his predictions are not perfect but he freely admits that any price prediction is something of a crapshoot):

I believe this is the year of unsustainable rallies - - whether it be in oil, equities, or real estate. We’ll go higher in the next few weeks - - perhaps to $2.20-$2.30 gal - - but there is too much additional refinery and crude production capacity to prevent markets from slipping back into a slog.

$2.23 in my neck of the woods (Wisconsin) this morning...

$2.10 for regular 10% ethanol here in Reno. It seems the last run up from $54 to $58 is not in our gas price yet. Usually there is a 2 week delay from crude price change to gas price change (somewhat longer if the price is going down).

It seems like we are getting to summer "blend" time.

Oil companies can't put in the cheap short-chain molecules that evaporate rapidly--instead must save them for when the weather is cooler. Reduces gasoline supply and increases cost of available supply.

c.f. Refining 101: Summer Gasoline (Rapier, R; 2007)

Gasoline prices are increasing because its demand has been more robust than other fuel products in 2009. Gasoline demand has been down just ~1-2% most of the year so far, while diesel and propane demand are down closer to 10%. So, while crude oil is near record storage levels at 375 million barrels, gasoline storage is just a bit higher than usual. Gasoline appears poised to rise another 10 cents (above $2.30 nationally) unless some bad economic news sends all fuel prices down again in the next couple weeks.

I posted
some more detailed thoughts on this
last Thursday.



This will be a deadline for dumping the extra products stored on all those storied tankers - can't hold onto the stuff all year, after all, and who's going to need winter blend post June 1?

But why is regular going up faster than the price of crude?

Simple - in order to make a profit from every barrel of crude.

Crude and gasoline are two different products linked only by the fact that one is made from the other - the cost of the crude is not the only cost when making the gasoline. Supply and demand of both crude and gasoline are balanced by price but there is no reason that both prices should move by the same %.

At the moment a portion of every barrel of crude can't be sold as refined product so has to go into storage for happier times - I wonder what happens when the market manipulation by OPEC and storage permitting this is full? - presumably demand will fall some more?

And the price of diesel has just dropped below that of gasoline again!

Note to self - get diesel pickup going again.

I would like to laud the article above...

"Michel Jarraud: Global warming proof undeniable"

...for being one of the most balanced, publicly accessible pieces I have seen. I have a few comments, however.

1. Global warming is undeniable. Human contribution is undeniable. The mechanisms and relative magnitudes are not understood with any certainty, however.

2. The author argues that short-term variations are meaningless. To the contrary, in a complex, non-linear system almost ALL of the information about the system is in the short-term variations.

3. If we had a good understanding of the underlying mechanisms, short-term variations would be valuable model-confirmation points. Our current models are biased more toward "description" than "structure", however, so short-term variations get in the way.

I too think that short term variations are rather meaningless, like noise. Climate is a somewhat artificial concept, being defined as the statistics of weather as we measure it. It turns out that there is little variation in the long term statistics as the driving force, the solar insolation, is nearly a constant. Also, there is a large thermal mass (the oceans) which moderate the temperatures as energy flows from the sun thru the atmosphere to the surface and back out as radiation to the near zero of deep space.

There was a discussion on Andy Revkin's blog about the problem of melting Arctic sea-ice and it's impact on polar bears in which a new report from the USGS was mentioned. Here's a link to the USGS report. In that paper, the authors reply to a paper which criticizes AGW models by pointing out that climate models are different from weather models. In the latter situation, the initial conditions of each model run constrain the results and the accuracy of the predictions declines as one looks farther out in time. In modeling climate, the situation is different. The model experiments all exhibit internal variation, somewhat like the variations seen in real world weather. But, the averaging process takes these variations out to reveal the long term changes, which can not be easily seen in data sets that cover only short periods.

E. Swanson


If you think discreet data points describe climate, then you either don't understand climate or don't understand trends. If you mean to say discreet data that are accurate are necessary, then I'm sure we all agree. That is not what you mean, though, is it?

An analogy is pointillist painting. Stand too close, you're looking at weather. Stand far enough back, you're looking at climate. Stand midway, you're you: confused.

The key to all this is the (intentional?) confusion of trends vs. data. From Merriam-Webster:

3: the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change.

The key word is general (vs. absolute.) This allows that the absolute direction at any given point might be other than directly in line with the trend. Thus, when we talk about 2008 being one of the ten warmest on record, we can understand that 2008 temperatures pulled the overall trend upward, not downward, because it was warmer than thousands of others.

To illustrate: If you draw a trend line from 1998 through 2008, you will see a downward slope. If, however, you draw that same line from 1997 through 2008, you will see an upward trend. In fact, any point chosen from 1997 (through 2008) or before will show an upward trend. Only one year ten or more years before 2008 will fail to do this: 1998. And that is why I tend to dismiss those who can't understand trends, or pretend not to.

Now, trends do reverse, but we can't know they have for a very long time. The time periods are so long as to not be useful for discussion unless we have reason. That is, supporting evidence. The problem with denialists is that they deny the evidence as well as the analysis. (Which is, of course, how you can identify them.)

With Anthropogenically-driven Climate Change (ACC), the supporting evidence is overwhelming. From GHG emissions increasing to glaciers receding to waters and air warming to changes in habitat ranges to changes in breeding cycles to movements of the jet streams.... it's absolutely overwhelming. There is nothing of import that I know of that would support a reversal of trend.

There is, however, some usefulness in noting a short-term change in data points making up the trend, or the noise, and that is that climate and human time scales are different. A cooling on the order of The Little Ice Age undoubtedly would have impacts that would be quite difficult for some people. Having a clue such a thing was coming might, indeed, be useful. But that doesn't change the long-term trend. At the end of the day, the long-term trend must be dealt with, and it must be prepared for with greater weight than the short-term deviation because the stakes are so much higher.

I'd like to head back to 2008 temps because they are actually a perfect sample of the dangers we face from looking at short-term trends or data points.

First, you must know what Arctic Amplification is. Any reader who does not should take a detour and google that. Basically, it's the canary in the coal mine. The idea is that the Arctic is more susceptible to rises in temperature. Also, the role of the Arctic in moderating temperature is so important, that changes in it's ability to do so are very, very important.

To temps. 2008 was a "cool" year for one reason and one reason only: La Nina. If not for the upwelling of cold water in the Eastern Pacific, 2008 might well have set new records, or at least come close. The near-record melt in the Arctic last summer illustrates this, and is our key to understanding how **unimportant** the 2008 data point really is. The temperatures in the Arctic were above the reference temps by up to 2C.

It's not that there was no warming, it's that there was a localized transfer of colder water to the surface that masked the warming. And the warming was in the worst possible place, the Arctic.

So, Shunyata, when you talk about short-term trends, you are talking GIGO. It means nothing at all unless there are many tens, hundreds or thousands of other data points supporting it.

Let me put a fine point on this: The Younger Dryas was a 1,000 return to the fridge. Not the freezer, but definitely the fridge. But it was still embedded in a long-term warming trend.

Go figure.


I have a thought experiment for you CCPO:

1. Program a spreadsheet to simulate a zero-drift, geometric brownian motion.

2. Press F9 repeatedly.

3. Qualitatively, how many scenarios have a "trend" despite a lot of intervening noise?

Riding along one of those scenarios, you would be pretty sure that trend is a fact of nature. Of course you as The Programmer know it is not. UNLESS YOU KNOW THE UNDERLYING MECHANICS, YOU CANNOT RELIABLY ESTIMATE TREND FROM NOISY PROCESSES. Contrary to ordinary intuition, you cannot rely on ergodicity to confirm trend.

And the informed person says, "But we have very good models, based in science, refined with measurements, that tell us to expect a rising trend." A skeptic (a very different animal than a denialist) will legitimately ask, "How good are those models? Does they make any testable predictions?" This is where the problem comes in.

The climate modeler tells us to expect temperatures to rise slowly over time, with attendant symptoms. But this rising trend is so small in comparison to short-term noise that it is impossible to verify until it is too late. In the short run, the climate modeler cannot not be sure that rising temperature is real, that it would not dissappear if The Programmer hit F9 again.

To prove his model, the climate modeler must make short-term predictions about the noise in the system, not the trend. For example, the modeler might predict that temperature extremes or range emerge in a particular way, with particular frequency. This approach will quickly reveal to the modeler whether he has correctly divined the mind of The Programmer.

To prove his model, the climate modeler must make short-term predictions about the noise in the system, not the trend. For example, the modeler might predict that temperature extremes or range emerge in a particular way, with particular frequency.

I am concerned that this standard of proof is a strawman. Aside from short term forecasts (say for weather or electricity demand) that issue predictions 1-2 days ahead, I can't think of a single complex system that can be represented to this degree of precision. And short term forecasts have the luxury of leveraging serial correlation.

Both skeptics and denialists in the global warming controversy have cited 'noise' in one form or another as reasons to doubt IPCC models. That IPCC models have gained the currency and status they enjoy (?) speaks to well over two decades of study and refinement, addressing much thoughtful criticism along the way.

Much like creationists have probed for fatal flaws in the principles of Darwinian Evolution, climate change denialists have gambled on finding any number of fatal flaws in IPCC's climate change modeling. They will lose the fight using those tactics. The burden is really on them at this point to develop plausible alternative models of climate interaction that support their case. If they can meet the standard you laid out, climate change denialists will certainly prevail. But I'm not holding my breath.

Here's why I wouldn't call you a skeptic (in reference to your post above):

1) The key mechanisms are well-understood. There is abundant literature on this.

2) Pomo sophistry! Mischaracterization of the system aside, the amount of information in the system is irrelevant. The long-term trends are what's relevant.

3) You'd need good data about what happens in the short-term in order to validate models against that. Heat doesn't vanish magically only to reappear later. The issue is that there is a paucity of solid information (about OHC in particular). Using long-term data considerably lowers the measurement bar because mixing tends to disperse heat across the system.

Regarding your latest post, your obsession with models does not strike me as characteristic of a skeptic.
Slowly rising temperatures isn't a model prediction. It is easily derived from the physical principles.
Models are not proven. Predictions are not required to establish the usefulness of a model, much less short-term predictions.
The requirements for a climate model and a weather model are different, though somewhat overlapping. There are practical limitations to computing power as well.
More importantly perhaps, the noise isn't intrinsic to the relevant processes. The climate isn't a black box and your analogy therefore is not very useful.

I have a thought experiment for you CCPO:

1. Program a spreadsheet to simulate a zero-drift, geometric brownian motion.

2. Press F9 repeatedly.

3. Qualitatively, how many scenarios have a "trend" despite a lot of intervening noise?

Your analogy is irrelevant. How does it apply to climate science?

A skeptic (a very different animal than a denialist) will legitimately ask, "How good are those models? Does they make any testable predictions?" This is where the problem comes in.

Yes, and the problem is your problem because the models have made testable predictions and they have been right. Their predictions compared to reality only reinforce that they have been right. Sadly for your side, it's even worse than they predicted. How in hell you people think that supports your dogma (See: The American Denial of Global Warming) is beyond me.

To prove his model, the climate modeler must make short-term predictions about the noise in the system, not the trend.

How many different ways are you going to come up with to claim weather = climate **and** illustrate you really don't understand GCMs?

For example, the modeler might predict that temperature extremes or range emerge in a particular way, with particular frequency.

Again, that's weather, and GCMs will never do that. That is not their function. If you knew anything about Chaos Theory, you would also know that a chaotic system can be predicted to have certain features, but that it is basically impossible to predict the order and timing of said features with accuracy.

You're asking a whale to fly.

Unfortunately, due to the paucity of data, climatology is largely a study models. Proper understanding of models and modeling is quite relevant.

I am weary of the "weather is not climate" argument. Weather is how climate manifests. I understand perfectly well that most climate models "project the trend" and make no statement about short-term variation. HOW FAR DO WE HAVE TO STRAY FROM THE TREND, FOR HOW LONG, BEFORE WE CONCLUDE THE MODEL HAS FAILED? I ask this question quite seriously.

Unfortunately, due to the paucity of data, climatology is largely a study of models.

This statement confesses your great ignorance. Please go read the IPCC studies and the associated appendices. You can find them here:


I ask this question quite seriously.

You should have no problem obtaining an answer in the materials available above.

If you knew anything about Chaos Theory, you would also know that a chaotic system can be predicted to have certain features, but that it is basically impossible to predict the order and timing of said features with accuracy.

Thank you for paying attention, ccpo.

For everyone else interested in hidden order, underlying structures, the butterfly effect, and deterministic unpredictability, there's an overview and history on chaos theory by James Gleick called "Chaos: Making a New Science". Excellent book, required reading.

The climate modeler doesn't tell us the temperature will rise, the model experiments show us that to be the result of changing the optical characteristics of the atmosphere. The models are intended to capture the physics as we understand it, not some preconceived result. When the models are run with no change in CO2 or other greenhouse gases, the temperature does not exhibit a trend.

Making "short term predictions" is of no value, given that the trends would not be observable. Climate is usually calculated over the long term, say, 30 years. And the trend is not calculated by drawing a line between the two end points of the series, but by fitting a straight line with a least squares calculation. Model experiments have been performed with different starting points and different initilizations after the models have been run long enough to damp out the starting transients. Of course, if the model variation is much less than that found in nature, one would certainly worry, but I suspect that this is not the situation.

One question you must answer is this: If the AOCGCMs are of no value, as some have suggested, tell us with a high level of certainty just what will be the result of our changes to the atmosphere? I submit that neither you nor anybody else can answer that without using some sort of model, then the same questions you pose apply to that model...

E. Swanson

ccpo & Black_Dog - you have far more patience than I would. Thanks for the tireless efforts, regardless of what benefit they ultimately yield.

And for weather and climate you can always use one of my conjectures about complex systems.

Complex systems close to a dramatic state change tend to lie about their situation in the sense that a further small change in the variables will bring about a dramatic change in the system.
The straw that broke the camels back the grain of sand that caused the sand pile to collapse etc.

This is because tenuous energy like concepts enter into complex systems such as feedback loops stress and strain and in the case of climate a real increase in the amount of heat.

The distribution of both real energy and what we could call energy management pathways is itself complex.

Science tries to take this sort of system and using noisy data extract general trends assuming a slow variation while the underlying system is probably better modeled as a set of variable timed fairly fast transition events.

However even though you can and should question the timing and scale of changes from climate models I'd argue that if they consistently produced and upward trend then they are valid predictors of the overall direction of the system even though they are probably awful predictors of the particular time evolution of the actual system and probably even worse at predicting the magnitude of changes.

Expectation of minimal changes based on previous experience is not scientifically correct and is a useless argument. A safe assumption is that the complex system is becoming more strained and that it will transition to release this strain we can expect some of these transitions to have a big impact even though we can't reliably predict them.

Thats all you need to know to realize that climate change is and important problem and we probably should stop forcing the system via emission of C02. We don't need any more accuracy than this to make a policy decision certainly better numbers are good but they simply are not required.

As and aside Peak Oil is the same it does not matter when peak oil arrives the underlying model is sound so lets switch off oil.

|1) Mechanisms and orders of magnitude.
a The most important one direct forcing due to GHG changes of concentration is known to better than 10%.
b The amplifying effect of water vapor feedback, which is about a factor of two isn't quite as well tied down.
c The direct aerosol effect (smoke & smog scattering/absorbing sunlight), not that well known.
d Indirect aerosol effect (smog as cloud condensation nuclei), not very well known.
e black carbon effect on arctic warming/ice melt not that well constrained yet.

Note b is a multiplier on temperature, applied to net changes in forcing. It couldn't be off by more than maybe 20%.
c+d are short term cooling caused by the rate of pollution and is roughly half of a.
e is probably responsible for arctic ice melt being much greater than model predictions. Even without (e) arctic amplification of climate change is expected.

|2) Short term variations aren't very useful. If we could change the drivers on a short time scale they would be very meaningful, but that is impossible. The only real short term variations -aside from seasons are occasional volcanic eruptions, which have been used to valid the sensitivity of climate to forcing (change in energy balance). Denialists want to make a case based upon short term variations, of cherry picked metrics. Choose enough metrics and you can always find one or two to support any proposition.

|3) Using short term variations as validation. Some validity, you can use statistical measures of short term variability to validate models. This of course has not been overlooked. You cannot not a singel short term prediction in this way however.

Concerning the link up top: Lester Brown - Needed: A Copernican Shift, I love Lester Brown, I have read several of his books and most of the essays he has published on the net. And in this essay, Lester is exactly correct, we do need a Copernician shift in economics. But saying so is like saying we need to change human nature.

In at least one regard, human beings are not a lot different from other species. That is they usually look out for their own best interest and are extremely myopic in doing so. We look to survive even at the expense of other species and even at the expense of others of our own species, and we focus on short term survival because surviving today is what counts, we will deal with tomorrow when it arrives. That is simply the way we evolved and it has served us very well….up until the present day. But today that mode of survival is destroying the world, and it will continue to do so.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

We are not going to change Lester. We simply cannot change because it is in our very nature to behave the way we do. And to say we must change as useless as trying to turn back the tide.

Ron P.

I agree that we are not going to change Lester. And just as well, as he continues to make an enormous contribution just the way he is.

John (Straw Dogs) Gray on the other hand appears very malleable. Not so long ago he was telling us how Thatcherism was the light to guide the world's sinners to redemption. Later he abandoned that view and lord knows what he is preaching today.

Evolution is about adaptation. Objectively it can be described as change. Human beings are not some god-like unchanging and unchangeable entity.

We must change. It's a good thing we have deeply ingrained cooperative instincts, democratising mass communications technology, a religious-spiritual drive guided by the human capacity for self-reflective consciousness, and a plethora of small and large opportunities to pursue meaningful change.

Toil, I was not questioning tha ability of Lester to change, I really don't care, nor do I care how mallable John Gray is. My point was that human nature will not change.

Evolution is about adaptation. Objectively it can be described as change. Human beings are not some god-like unchanging and unchangeable entity.

Over evolutionary time Homo sapiens will undoubtly change. But that is a change in the species. Individuals do not change their nature during their lifetime, only the next generation and generations thereafter will show change because of natural selection. The survivors will adapt as one generation follows another but this generation's human nature will not change. I thout that point was very implicit in my original post.

We must change. It's a good thing we have deeply ingrained cooperative instincts, democratising mass communications technology, a religious-spiritual drive guided by the human capacity for self-reflective consciousness, and a plethora of small and large opportunities to pursue meaningful change.

Good Lord, where to start? What we must do and what we will do are two entirely different things. Homo sapiens, like all other species, will always look out for number one. We do not have deeply ingrained cooperative instincts. Where on earth did you get that idea? We have a genetic adaptation to cooperate within our tribe but not with other tribes. We have always competeted with other tribes and will continue to do so.

The rest of that sentence is nothing but feel good mumbo-jumbo. Religious-spiritual drive, self-reflective consciousness, and a plethora of whatever...give me a break!

Ron P.

We will change.

We will adapt or we will die, either is a change.

In the past enough of us managed to adapt. It seems likely that enough of us will continue to adapt for the future.

If not, then we die.

It doesn't mean BAU or peaches and cream, but even a cardboard box in the middle of the road and a lump of dry poison twice a day might suffice.

Evolution is about adaptation.

Yes, but that's only part of the story.


The basis of evolution is the genes that are passed on from generation to generation; these produce an organism's inherited traits. These traits vary within populations, with organisms showing heritable differences (variation) in their traits. Evolution itself is the product of two opposing forces: processes that constantly introduce variation, and processes that make variants become more common or rare. New variation arises in two main ways: either from mutations in genes, or from the transfer of genes between populations and between species. In species that reproduce sexually, new combinations of genes are also produced by genetic recombination, which can increase variation between organisms.

Two major mechanisms determine which variants will become more common or rare in a population. The first is natural selection, a process that causes helpful traits (those that increase the chance of survival and reproduction) to become more common in a population and causes harmful traits to become more rare. This occurs because individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to reproduce, meaning that more individuals in the next generation will inherit these traits.[2][3] Over many generations, adaptations occur through a combination of successive, small, random changes in traits, and natural selection of the variants best-suited for their environment.[4] The second major mechanism driving evolution is genetic drift, an independent process that produces random changes in the frequency of traits in a population. Genetic drift results from the role that chance plays in whether a given trait will be passed on as individuals survive and reproduce.

See Irish Elk or Giant Deer (Megaloceros giganteus)


Sometimes species can become extinct when changing environmental pressures make their adaptations maladaptive.

But Ron, you of all people know fully well that we WILL change. Either we will go extinct (a big change) or we will spawn a new, better adapted species. What it has to be adapted to is the big question, isn't it?

But, like you, I don't think Homo sapiens is up to the task. Homo needs to be much more sapient, to have a much higher capacity for long-term, good judgments regarding complex systems like the Ecos. The current brain, even with a relatively large lateral prefrontal cortex, isn't quite there yet.

Question Everything

But Ron, you of all people know fully well that we WILL change. Either we will go extinct (a big change) or we will spawn a new, better adapted species. What it has to be adapted to is the big question, isn't it?

George, I was talking about this generation not changing. And it will not. What happens, due to natural selection, over the next few generations is another matter. But that will be long after the crash.

Human nature, in this generation, is already firmly set in our genes and it will not change. When Lester, or anyone else for that matter says; "Here is what we must do" I just shake my head. We will not do a damn thing to prevent the coming global economic collapse. We will not do a damn thing about peak oil. Events shape our lives not dire warnings concerning the future. When something happens we will take action but the horse will already be out of the barn.

Ron P.

I knew that Ron. I was trying to reinforce the notion by pointing out the disparate bifurcation that seems to be the only way out (given your premise, which I agree is likely true).

On the matter of people telling us what we should do, I have a slightly different point of view. I actually think it is good that Lester Brown and others (even myself in my own modest way) think about the 'shoulds'. I think about them more as scenario spinning than actual action planning. Given that our nature works against us and we are, in essence, doomed, it is still instructive to have a vision of what we should have done, or should do if we had the chance. I don't see it as a totally useless exercise, even if those shoulds never unfold in this generation.

I retain some optimism that there will be survivors and that there will be some kind of evolutionary bottleneck phenomenon. Quite possibly, especially if those of us who prepare for such an event take action now, those survivors will inherit the wisest visions from this generation, the visions of how things should have been done. We can't guarantee that evolution of future humanity will go along any particular track, but we might be able to raise the likelihood of it involving the expansion of sapience a little. Who knows? I just have (what for me passes as) faith in the power of evolution in the long run.


Similar to Greer's advice to try to preserve something of value for the future. Unfortunately, I think the history of say, the British Isles after the fall of Rome will be an appropriate model - a thousand years of petty ambitious tyrants trying to return to the great glory of the past, and endless fools willing to follow them, none understanding the limitations that prevent it. Just like then, it may be a very long time that those skills and knowledge have to be preserved. But still, worth the effort. What else is there to do? May as well focus on mitigation, as the time for prevention has passed.

When Lester, or anyone else for that matter says; "Here is what we must do" I just shake my head. We will not do a damn thing to prevent the coming global economic collapse. We will not do a damn thing

Why are you trying so hard to push this idea that nothing will be done? Why are you spending so much time trying to kill hope? Why is it so important to you that everyone be as hopeless and despondent as you are?

You're like the guy who walks up to someone who's just learned they have cancer and says "you're gonna die". Is spending your time pushing misery and despair your idea of a good time? If not, why on earth do you keep doing it?

Gee, if you look a couple of comments down and well before you posted this, you will see Ron encouraging someone in a very positive fashion.

The key issue, if you're assuming the change has to be genetically-evolutionary, is that evolutionary variations is either driven be selection pressure or random (because there's no significant selction pressure on that particular kind of variation). Will there ever be a context giving selection pressure that benefits long term sustainability planning? I can't conceive of such a circumstance (which may be a failure of imagination, of course).

I tend to pin my hopes on the way that almost all human beings have minds which are very influencable to follow group behaviour (if the influence is structured in a way to avoids triggereing their strong belief systems). If we can get to a position where the "rules of economics" favour long-term sustainability and violating them is viewed morally/ethically/whatever-term-you-prefer like robbing a bank (ie, most people don't just think that robbing a bank is illegal, but that it's "wrong" even though more abstact but similar actions are viewed as more of a question of what the precise rules are and whether those rules should be obeyed), then hopefully the tendency to conformity will stop most people moving away from that position. Of course the huge question is whether we can get there from where we are now, which I'm not too optimistic about.

A small example of change. Now I kind of covet a bigger woodshed, after digging firewood out of the snow and ice all this winter is seems like a good idea. Not very long ago I would have just called up our local lumber supply and ordered some pressure treated posts, some 2x6's and 2x10's and rented a post hole auger and been right to it. Just fine for right now, but I got to thinking about when I first moved to the land and had no money, nothing at all.

I'm opening up more land for future planting "down back" and have some really tall straight spruces in the way, way to much shade so they need to go. SO I shifted gears, went hunting for my old peeling spud and now have 2 of the six posts I need cut, peeled and drying. Took some hunting but found my recipe for homemade wood preservative (Boric Acid and Propylene Glycol). So the peeled posts will dry through the summer and get treated in the fall. By that time I'll have the post holes dug, a little at a time through the summer.

One of the neighbors, I drive by on the way to work, has put his little saw mill back into operation, pretty much just as a hobby thing and his big problem is raw material. So about 4 of the big pines I have are coming down as well to feed his mill and I'll get "real" 2x6's and boarding boards as my part of the deal.

Outcome is the same, a new and bigger wood shed but give some thought to the mental change to get there, just a small example of what we will all need to do.

Don in Maine

Outcome is the same, a new and bigger wood shed but give some thought to the mental change to get there, just a small example of what we will all need to do.

Don, you are doing just great. Now if you can just convince the resto of the world to follow your lead, everything will be just great. Lotsa luck!

Ron P.

Yep. That which you can produce locally is much better for your community than that which you buy at the end of a long supply chain...

I am not sure the required change is that fundamental. Different professions reinforce different lessons for each individual. A farmer of twenty years is likely to see a problem differently than a casino operator. In a casino, irrational confidence is very important, the farmer doesn't care if you think it's going to rain, she doesn't care if everybody thinks it's going to rain. Expectations are never more important than facts. Under a fractional reserve credit monetary system, confidence is very important. The 'strongest' bank in the country will disappear if people lose confidence and there is a run on the bank. Furthermore massive amounts of wealth appear to be created and deployed very easily. In many ways it is a good system but it may be worthwhile noticing the influence it has on the way people think. Dr Alexander Elder advises investors to go to AA meetings because a gambling addiction can develop very easily, and it is useful to understand how addictions work. I suspect banker are influenced by a gambling mentality. Derivatives can be very useful. If a farmer sells forward half their crop to a bakery, both businesses may reduce the risk of price changes. If a bank has a trillion dollars in derivatives exposure (please let this be a fictional example) then it might seem that the logic of gambling is a work. An executive at such a bank might be less inclined to fund a long term project, partly as the derivatives will sink them or enrich them fabulously long before the long term project pays off. The banking system is very influential in how we allocate resources, and the system we are using is not the only option.
The impossible contract problem of creating money by issuing debt, but not for the interest is also likely to reinforce a manic view of economic growth. The way economists talk about deflation you would think that if the price of a pair of double A batteries goes down the whole world will collapse. The problem is the exposure of an instability inherent to the system - one that perhaps we might consider fixing.
This is not to say we will change, but just that we are not being constrained by human nature. There is every reason to think we could engineer a better environment for ourselves. We may not but there is that tiny ray of hope.

This is not to say we will change, but just that we are not being constrained by human nature. There is every reason to think we could engineer a better environment for ourselves. We may not but there is that tiny ray of hope.

Limits to Growth came out in 1972. A few people saw the light and started explaining to the world "what we must do". We did nothing. We (the world) have not done one dame thing to stop the catastrophe predicted in Limits to Growth. And we will not because too many people would have to make sacrifices, sacrifices they are not willing to make. Why?

There will always be people like Julian Simon and Bjorn Lomborg who tell us that we do not really need to do anything that things will get better and better. We hear different arguments and unless you are well versed in the discipline being discussed, you will believe the one who paints the brightest picture and gives us the most hope, it is just human nature!

In order to save the world we will do exactly what we have done for the last forty years, absolutely nothing. We will do nothing because the vast majority of people do not believe anything need be done. They believe Tupi proves there is no peak oil problem or that ethanol will power our cars and we can just keep on driving as usual.

People, in general, refuse to believe in the coming collapse because it is simply in their nature to do so. That is what I mean by us being constrained by human nature. You can deny it all you wish but denying it will not cause the world to spring into action and take action to prevent the collapse.

And Warren, if you really we are not being constrained by human nature, just try explaining peak oil, or the coming economic collapse to the next 20 people you meet. Then tell us what their reaction was and then I will explain, again, why they behaved in such a manner.

Ron P.

Perhaps the problem is that people do not recognize how late it really is. We don't really need to guess about what people will to to address these issues, we are past that and people did nothing. But change comes much more slowly than that anyway - people and societies do not change in the span of a few decades, especially not when swimming in more energy than has ever been experienced. Perhaps different social forms and attitudes may develop someday, but it will take a very long time and be in response to real limitations. Hell, we're only at the beginning of this collapse, and that will take generations to fully play out.

I've hit my head against brick walls plenty. But thanks for the suggestion. hmmm, 20 people, actually I think I've done that, you might think I would learn, he he.
I agree that complacency has been almost unanimous. And there is a human nature element to it. I was amazed in the last election that the Republicans did as well as they did when usually recessions are bad for incumbents and it was obvious to me that this one would be very bad. (I don't think it was obvious to everyone - and my assessment of human decision making was not entirely correct.) Also people who politically identify with the right may tend to be happier - so who can blame them. ha ha.
But the question is can people begin to think differently.
Flat earth lasted much longer than a scientist today might expect. But for most of that time there was little pressure on most people to challenge accepted ideas. (We are talking about more than a simple idea - I know.)
The diseases of racism and sexism have clung to peoples brains with tenacity for decades after they should have expired. And furthermore, there is a strong chance even now that given a major crisis, some politician will try to build a career from this septic tank of human intellect. Scapegoating does have a pretty good track record as a political device.
We may not have decades.
In the last forty years there has not been the same pressure on the mechanism we use for decision making. Overproduction in the auto industry, or the collapse of webvan.com or pets.com; or even the oil crisis didn't really demand that we rethink very much as a society. As a cyclist I find the remarkable SUV sales to be a stunning and nauseating reminder of how throughly the conservation movement that followed the oil crisis was trampled. However, if you step aside from the frustration for a second, you remember that for much of this time energy efficiency was little more than a curiosity with no support from society's leadership. Furthermore, that leadership generally retained their credibility. (oddly) At this point in our current crisis there is not still not much pressure to change anything. However this crisis is still getting worse. The credit supplement to the recent quarterly report from Fannie Mae was sobering material. (Don't read it - you are sober enough.) This time the root cause lies squarely with allocation of capital - bankers, who have yet to deflect blame.
In the medium sized cities where most people live, there has been little to force people to confront their ideas in the last forty years. So they didn't. That doesn't mean anything - even if it is frustrating. Logically the argument could have been made but a book doesn't really have the same punch as when half a millions jobs being lost is reported as a good thing and when suburbs are being bulldozed. Limits to Growth was not covered in the sports pages. I bet that the thousands of jumbo mortgages currently delinquent heading for foreclosure will include the homes of a good number of famous people. At first you focus on individual stories, but the conclusion that our leadership loused up gloriously will build. People will become more open to new ideas then they have been since the second world war. This is a punctuation mark in the punctuated evolution of peoples 'figuring'.
What happens is an open question. It may be that people will not change enough until it is too late. But this is the time to make the argument, and past failure is not determinant. Disheartening yes, but not determinant.

We will do nothing because the vast majority of people do not believe anything need be done.

Or because the vast majority of people don't know what to do.

Continually whining that we're doomed is worse than useless, because it makes people tune out and ignore the problem entirely. If you want to be remotely helpful, make suggestions for what people can do to help improve the situation and make a difference.

Or, at the very least, STFU so you don't undermine the efforts of people who are doing that.

if you really we are not being constrained by human nature, just try explaining peak oil, or the coming economic collapse to the next 20 people you meet.

There's an enormous difference between getting people to realize that consumption of a finite resource must eventually slow down and getting people to believe your guess of what that means for society. The former seems to be very easy, so anyone who's having trouble is most likely trying to do the latter instead.

There is only a tiny percentage of people who are capable of thinking rationally and creatively in the best of times, not to mention the problems inherent in the current, unfolding mess.

Most people cannot deal with large, radical changes, only small, incremental ones. Peak oil, climate change, et al, all require large, radical changes.

Most people do not have the educational, intellectual, or temporal capacity to understand the myriad interrelated issues, nor the emotional capacity to cope and deal with the consequences.

Most people are capable of operating in only five modes. Irrational exuberance, complacency, fretting, denial, and blind panic. None of these include the contemplation, reflection, investigation, analysis, debate, and action necessary to deal with global, deep, and wide problems up front.

Even on this board, I've lost count of the number of times I've recommended looking at the systemic side of things, considering unmanageable complexity, and investigating chaos theory, which has more than a lot to do with the dynamic problems we face. And most people continue to come up with the same linear, myopic, destructive solutions which have plagued us for thousands of years and led us to this C/F we're in now.

So I'd prefer that most people ignore the problem entirely. Fortunately, it doesn't matter what I'd prefer. Most people will ignore the problem, regardless.

Or, at the very least, STFU so you don't undermine the efforts of people who are doing that.

Pitt, I have stated, time and time again on this list, that people should prepare themselves and their family for the crash. They should do things that will give them a greater chance of being among the survivors. If people listen to me, (but of corse they will not), then they just might survive where if they listen to you they would spend all their time, money and energy trying to save the whole damn world with no success.

So Pitt, if you would just STFU and tell them to listen to me, a lot more good people would survive. If they listen to you they will likely perish.
Ron P.

"Trichet: Global Economy at Turning Point"


Nothing to worry about, move along.

Denninger agrees...


Recovery? What recovery?

I wonder where the Great Depression is on that.

And that's just jobs...

I got to a backdoor page in the NYTimes site that shows the trends of indicators for the last recession... Definitely puts it all together.

And here's another backdoor hack showing home price trends for 20 major cities...

And here is another one that really demonstrates where the "green shoots" are at:


I saw this earlier today. 'Red shoots' indeed.

Reminded me of Joshua.


But will WE learn.


I wonder where the Great Depression is on that.

About 75 years prior to peak oil.

The only way out of this one is on renewable energy.

It's a good thing that the Republicans left us with a record budget surplus, a thriving economy, a strong and safe financial system, and a head start on renewable energy, isn't it...

Gawd. The Republicans have been out of power for over 100 days and you're still blaming them!?. Is your radio not working? Obviously, the economic problems are caused by the soft on crime, tax and spend, Democrats who prefer the sight of sinking American entrepeneurs to a water splash party for the odd evil terrorist. Could this be because Democrats and Terrorists both hate the American way of life?

How tall is Obama Sin Laden really?

I've once heard the name Obama bin Biden myself, but I digress...

Peak Oil and Peak Credit don't care who is in office... Politics in that context is absurdly irrelevant. When we run out, there will be consequences... And running out also means running out of credit, jobs, and future production of everything.

> left us with a record budget surplus,


> a thriving economy,


> a strong and safe financial system,

Fairly ok but it seems like we will have to help out the baltic countries in some way.
So har have one financial institution gone bankrupt, Carnegie made large scale bad loans and became insolvent, it was taken over by the government, the old owners were wiped out and it has already been sold to new owners to recover most of the taxpayer cost.

> and a head start on renewable energy,

check, and the grid investments are increasing, renewable energy still attracts fresh capital during the crisis, large investments in nuclear power are being done and the site for the high level waste repository will be decided this summer. The high level waste repository have been controversial for at east 20 years but now is the political issue how the loosing munincipiality that dont get the facility will be compensated.

Increasing the budget surplus up to the sudden onset of the financial crisis were not popular but insisting on fiscal resposibility during the crisis have so far been popular and the poll ratings for the government are very high.

The ailing personal car industry has not been bailed out but government resources are being used for whatever comes after the currently GM owned Saab and Ford owned Volvo. The focus is not on avoiding bankruptsy but maintaining the know-how and supplier base and making it easier to do something new regardless if it is called Saab or not wich I also think increases the value of Saab and Volvo.

I dont know how bad this financial mess will become but it feels good to see wise things being done both by politicians, unions and corporations and that a significant part of the population prefer short time tough but long time good decisions.


Is that a green shoot just ahead of that plunging blue line? Or is that only an optimistic speck on my monitor?

Nah, each line is a recession we've had in the past and how we compare. Apparently, with respect to jobs, this is bar-none the worst jobs recession we've had in almost 40 years.

Kunstler conjures up some imagery:

The choices now are stark and the kind of life on offer by the future is rather austere. The job of the current president, and the people who work with him, is to manage an epic contraction -- let's say, to land a very large, loaded defect-ridden airplane that has both run out of fuel and suffered grievous mechanical breakdown... and to bring down that vehicle in an unfamiliar country filled with angry savages. Sadly, the new president and his co-pilots just want to keep the plane up there, circling. The president's viziers are working round-the-clock to come up with some way, some toggle-switch, that might turn off the laws of gravity (which are not unrelated to the laws of thermodynamics). But all they seem to be able to come up with are mumbled prayers that are pale imitations of the algorithms once concocted by the Wall Street engineers who designed the aircraft they're riding in.

I realize it's jolly good fun to poke at the present administration, but I have a hard time picturing any other human (or group of humans) pulling off the landing that JHK describes. If you happen to be aboard that ill-fated craft, best to assume the crash landing position; if you are among the angry savages, please try to exercise some restraint; and if it looks like that thing is gonna land right on top of you, get out of the way!

It's the banking crap that ticks me off. I suppose it's a sign of how bad things really are, that even the Democrats are siding with the banks over the people.

I think the bankers view themselves, perhaps correctly, as the ailerons on this doomed plane. Do we really want to know what happens if we let the ailerons fail? Of course, airplane parts usually don't make you feel like your subject to blackmail, but I imagine a pilot must sacrifice attention to some systems while focusing on others. Some argue it doesn't matter much if we let the ailerons break up, since we are crashing either way. I think there's a difference between a traumatic skidding crash into the jungle and an all out nosedive into the earth. But then, I've never crashed more than a bicycle.

Disagree. They're not just trying to save the institutions of banks. They're trying to save the investors from taking the haircuts they have to take.

I've seen that same analysis before once or twice elsewhere. That sounds about right to me.

What I have not seen is any identification of WHO is a 'banker investor'.

That would seem to be a pertinent piece of info in the larger scheme of things.

Not only the BIG Banks, but the BIG insurance companies, the BIG mortgage companies, The BIG automobile manufacturers, ad naseaum.

Let them ALL go into regular Chapter 11 or 7 bankruptcy.
Not some pre-ordained Government proscribed faux bankruptcy. Followed by next to unlimited continued forever bailouts with USA (future) Taxpayers money.

When I lived in the UK I lived near an old Roman town. Once the Romans had left (or were evicted) the local inhabitants (probably Saxons) dismantled the town stone by stone, filled in the fresh water wells and warned people away from the place with skulls stuck on wooden poles. As far as they were concerned Roman civilisation was nothing more than a curse.

To dismantle a Roman town must have been a great deal of work and took quite some time to achieve with the relatively small population of the time. Their commitment to eradicating the source of the curse and preventing its return was quite remarkable.

I doubt there will be any restraint once the future again echoes the past.


Dilbert: If we lease a machine from you, how can we be sure you’ll stay in business to service it?
Vendor: How can we be sure you’ll have enough money to pay the lease?

Dilbert: You could check our financials.
Vendor: I’m pretty sure your financials are as fraudulent as ours.

Dilbert: Good point--Maybe we could ask trusted third parties to vouch for us. Do you trust any third parties?
Vendor: Not since my financial advisor put my retirements savings in a Ponzi scheme and had an affair with my wife.

Dilbert: Well, we tried.
Vendor: Maybe I could grow food in my car.

For those who think cellulosic ethanol does not affect food supply because it is a non food crop, here is the beginning of what will happen if the much ballyhooed switch grass ethanol actually happens:


If switch grass becomes more profitable than corn, the enevitable result will be a switch to switch grass. Thinking that this will not affect food supply is silly.

With the ever increasing costs of land, seed, fertilizer etc. and relatively cheap corn prices, it could happen.

So, the idea is that we can then cut the grass and use the cellulosic ethanol to power our plug-in hybrids...

Once The Electric Charge Dies, The Volt Is Like A Lawnmower

Here's a video from early April of Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, explaining why he isn't doing plug-in hybrids (via Gas 2.0.) He hedges in a weak preamble saying he's not trashing the Chevy Volt, and he hopes it successful. Then he proceeds to trash it.

He says once the electric charge is done, it's a weak engine. "When you've consumed your 40 miles...it's an engine that's under powered, it'll feel like a lawnmower engine powering a sedan...It'll feel anemic on the highway. It's problematic, neither fish nor fowl."

Hmmmm... A grass powered lawnmower, anyone? For $40+K?

I think the Volt is a PR stunt to keep investors from abandoning GM, but the idea that we somehow need so much power is stupid. A 40hp VW bug works just fine, and we could certainly make something that would outperform that very easily now. We could crank out inexpensive, small 4dr vehicles with 40hp that got great mileage very easily. My old 1300cc Fiat had 67hp, and that was way more than it needed to perform the required duties of transportation. My Hyundai has something like 88hp - it would work fine with half that. Of course, that assumes you are not towing around a complete 2nd electric drivetrain and energy storage system, and the required structure to support it.

Yup, my 1962 VW Bug gets over 30 MPG with 1930's air cooled engine engineering technology.
Current VW Beetles have 150 HP (and lousy gas mileage) - WHY?
1950's Studebakers with 1930's liquid cooled flat head 6 cylinder engine technology (and free wheeling overdrive - now illegal) got 35 to 40 mpg on the highway.
The list could go on and on ----

It sounds like maybe FORD is starting to catch on that it needs to add some low cost high mileage cars to its products list. Hopefully at least that one icon of American manufacturing ability will survive and thrive into the future.

Ford is flying high now because they got their debt lined up before the credit market disappeared, and they are getting some market share from Chrysler and GM, and because they've made somewhat better decisions overall. But after the present sucker's rally ends and people notice that it's really not actually getting better, Ford will be left with the problem of not nearly enough customers. Maybe some portion of them will survive. I do get the feeling they understand this, which is at least a step in the right direction.

Your 1962 beetle lacked:
-OBD_II on board diagnostics to meet current emission standards
-Electronic fuel injection
-Air injection to the exhaust
-Six catalytic converters
-Exhaust gas recirculation
-Air conditioning
-Electric windows
-Anti-lock brakes
-Eleventeen airbags
-Crash bumpers
-Tinted glass
-Power steering
-Power brakes
-A 600 amp-hour battery
-Nine speaker stereo with iPod interface
-Cell phone charger port
-Power seats with memory
-Traction control
-Seven speed automatic transmission with torque converter lockup
-On-star satellite communication

Try to find a new car without most of these "features"

The amazing thing is these cars actually get better gas-mileage than your beetle on a weight basis. BUT THEY WEIGH 4000 POUNDS.

My daughter, at the tender age of 18 described the above crap as "the usual stuff"

We've all gone mad.

Don't forget that Billy FourWheeler rides around on his 4x4 in the open air without most of those "options". The same is true for most motorcycles, although some might have electronic fuel injection and most have electronic ignition. My 500cc twin M/C weighs about 425 pounds and I consider it over powered. The higher you fly, the longer is the drop back to the ground..

E. Swanson


Not sure if you had seen this yet:


CBP eliminates the need for the production of expensive enzymes that are typically needed to break down the lignen and covert it to sugar. Rather, Mascoma is using engineered microorganisms that produce cellulases and ethanol in one step. “This is a true breakthrough that takes us much, much closer to billions of gallons of low cost cellulosic biofuels,” said Dr. Bruce Dale, with Michigan State University. “Many had thought that CBP was years or even decades away, but the future just arrived. Mascoma has permanently changed the biofuels landscape from here on.”

US Imports by API gravity:

Bit of an improvement on that musty EIA graph of LSC decline.

Re: Coal Supply

Murray and Rutledge diverge on the question of climate effects, though. Using IPCC models

False. Using *a* model used by the IPCC, whereas IPCC projections are based on multiple runs of multiple models. This is a big deficiency in the Rutledge modeling.

Rutlgedge argues that global temperatures won't get higher than 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, at the lower end of what scientists think might spark "dangerous" climate change.

"We're still going to have global warming, and it's a serious threat," Murray said. "I have no doubt the IPCC dramatically underestimates climate sensitivity."

1. And Murray is correct. There is zero doubt about this. I don't mean this is proven, only that it is correct. Natural observations tell us serious warming is happening. Models are tools to help us confirm our observations and scientific investigations. The models are underestimating the effects of ACC by a very significant margin. Occam's Razor: it's the sensitivity, stupid.

I strongly challenge anyone to offer a better explanation for the underestimate of changes.

2. Unfortunately, even if the lower coal estimates are correct, we already have enough CO2 in the atmosphere and likely to be burned to get us over a 2C increase.

3. There are other sources of GHG's that Rutledge did not include, such as permafrost and clathrates, both of which have been observed already happening, and those observations are supported by increased CH4 measurements the last two years. Lowered albedo will also allow for greater insolation.

I repeat my call for Rutledge to try his runs at 4, 5 and 6C sensitivities, as well as with software other than MAGICC, AND with feedbacks fully integrated. Do that, and there might be something to discuss. As it is, his work is the environmental equivalent of Russian Roulette: There are too many factors not accounted for. His paper is too limited to even tell us how many bullets are in the gun.


How about you first document this underestimation of yours?

4C is within the error bar for the traditional sensitivity estimate. 5C and 6C aren't.
Assuming that sensitivity is 4C or lower is reckless but asserting it is higher requires conclusive evidence.

The models are riddled with assumptions unrelated to sensitivity anyway. The data coverage and quality are poor as well.
Occam's razor isn't used to divine the source of a divergence when evidence is lacking.

How about you first document this underestimation of yours?

Did you not read what I said?

4C is within the error bar for the traditional sensitivity estimate. 5C and 6C aren't.


Assuming that sensitivity is 4C or lower is reckless but asserting it is higher requires conclusive evidence.

No, it doesn't. That's why it's an assertion and not a fact. Besides, you have eyes, don't you? The evidence is, frankly, overwhelming.

The models are riddled with assumptions unrelated to sensitivity anyway.


The data coverage and quality are poor as well.


Occam's razor isn't used to divine the source of a divergence when evidence is lacking.

Evidence is not lacking: Virtually all the models are right (trend is up), but also wrong thus far (serious underestimation of observed phenomena). Already said that.

The "The models suck!" argument is a waste of our time.


What you assert and what you can document are different things.

I don't mean this is proven, only that it is correct.



I haven't asked for a proof.

If all you're saying is that you can somehow eyeball or intuit sensitivity, then there's indeed nothing more to say.
But if there's a factual basis for your belief, it might be worthwhile to point to it.

C'mon, HFAT, you know where science starts. I said:

Natural observations tell us serious warming is happening... The models are underestimating the effects of ACC by a very significant margin.

The real science, the measured changes, are outside the ranges of the most pessimistic models using the highest sensitivities the IPCC used at that time. I don't personally think the models are useless math toys, nor do I accept that adding in all known feedbacks would cover the difference.

And, yes, this is my assertion. If you disagree with the assertion as backed up by observations of natural processes and the divergence from the models, please share as to why.

By the way, Hansen, et al. **did** include a little science in their paper on sensitivity, did they not?


I don't know what observations and measurements you refer to.

Generally, I would be skeptical of the attribution of any surprisingly rapid warming (of which I'm unaware to begin with) to sensitivity because high sensitivities are supposed to act slowly and therefore to be hard to distinguish from lower sensitivities initially.

The most relevant result I found with a quick Google Scholar was a short Rahmstorf paper from 2007 co-authored by Hansen. This does not support your assertions (though it unsurprisingly finds SLR in excess of the IPCC non-prediction). I guess you're thinking about something else.

It would be helpful if you were specific.

You want to ask such a ridiculous question? Please. See Black_Dog's post below, then look at receding glaciers, then changes in (forget the term) the animal, etc., worlds... C'mon. There are observations in all these that are exceeding predictions.

I'm not sure what you're playing at, HFAT, but it appears to be the fence.

Please don't waste my time with fundamental questions that really have no business being asked at this late stage. You may as well ask people on this forum whether Cantarrel is in rapid decline.


I don't know about "(forget the term) the animal, etc. worlds..." but melting glaciers and reduced Arctic sea-ice are not new observations. In any case, temperatures are what matter if you want to discuss sensitivity.
Rahmstorf should know about the cryosphere and that hasn't stopped him from reaffirming the IPCC sensitivity range as recently as last year. Furthermore, he claimed a narrowing of the range to 2-4C could now be justified (see the wikipedia article you linked to the other day).

The faux-skeptic "Shunyata" claims (in this DB), just like you, that current observations are outside the IPCC range. Just like you, she's provided no evidence to bolster her beliefs... just bluster.

You are here denying that the items listed above are not occurring at rates and periods of time outside IPCC projections.

Fantasy land.

melting glaciers and reduced Arctic sea-ice are not new observations.

Did I say they were? Don't lie about what I stated.

I'll repeat, just because, some of those things that have exceeded expectations/scenarios (btw, quit saying predictions; it's inaccurate and misleading):

1. Arctic sea ice melt. (Decades early)

2. Antarctic ice melt. (About a century early.)

3. Various glaciers melting. (Too many to state a time period.)

4. Various changes in animal and plant activities, e.g., earlier springs. (See #3.)


Rhamstorf: Good for him. I disagree. But, for chrissakes, is 4C not enough for you? You're taking pointless argumentation to new levels. This is bizarre.

In any case, temperatures are what matter if you want to discuss sensitivity.

Utterly incorrect.

Let me add a few more things that bolster my case:

* I'll see your Rhamstorf, who is a bit conservative (careful) with his science and raise you a Hansen. (To my knowledge, Rhamstorf hasn't actually done work directly on sensitivity of late.)

* Previously posted:

Asked what temperature rise was most likely, 84 of the 182 specialists (46%) who answered the question said it would reach 3-4C by the end of the century; 47 (26%) suggested a rise of 2-3C, while a handful said 6C or more. While 24 experts predicted a catastrophic rise of 4-5C, just 18 thought it would stay at 2C or under.

Some of those surveyed who said the 2C target would be met confessed they did so more out of hope rather than belief. "As a mother of young children I choose to believe this, and work hard toward it," one said.

If you've something worth saying, say it. Pretending I haven't answered your questions is childish, particularly since we are talking about my **opinion**.

Now, move the conversation forward or do be quiet.

I'm simply not aware of any IPCC projection regarding ice or the onset of spring. They might well have one for sea-ice (that has got to be modeled) but AR4 essentially says it can't quantify the melting of ice caps/sheets.

Again, the Guardian poll is not about sensitivity. The emissions scenarios and carbon feedbacks figures are missing.

I told you where to find "my" Rahmstorf (the wikipedia article on sensitivity you cited).
Another Rahmstorf (co-authored by Hansen) I mentionned earlier is "Recent climate observations compared to projections". I found it while looking for "your" Hansen which remains elusive. Would it be so taxing to tell me what paper you're talking about?

I'm simply not aware of any IPCC projection regarding ice or the onset of spring.

Are you a Republican? You post like the obstructionists we see in congress.

As for the above: I have not limited my comments to the IPCC, but I did refer to them because YOU are. Also re: the above: EXACTLY. THUS their projections were WAY off. Get it?

If you're not aware of Hansen, et al., on cliamte sensitivity, well, I think you're lying.

Enough. You've nothing to say.

I was at a talk yesterday by the heads of the Energy and Resources Group at Berkeley (John Holdren was/is a member of that group).

They emphasized that our natural systems are "chock full" of positive feedback loops and that more recent sensitivity estimates run as high as 7 degrees C for a doubling of CO2. It could still be just 1.5 degrees C, but the range is very large when one accounts for all the feedback loops.

Some of these feedbacks loops are excluded from the usual definition of sensitivity.

It's well-known that some estimates of sensitivity allow for huge values. Others don't. If both methods are valid, then actual sensitivity (to the extent it really exists) will most likely have a value compatible with both estimates.
But this is not new. If memory serves, the latest IPCC report has a caveat along these lines.
My understanding is that these high values are thought to be implausible because of the constraints that can be derived from reconstructions of ancient climate change.

Again, if there's actually new evidence or analysis, it might be useful to point to it for the benefit of those among us who don't follow the literature, conferences and such.

Most AOCGCMs don't show the same rapid loss of Arctic sea-ice as has been seen for the past few decades or so. It might be concluded that they are also optimistic regarding the rate of temperature increase in future, although there may be another reason for the rapid loss of sea-ice, such as black carbon deposited on the top of the sea-ice.

That's one of the reasons that the scientific community, such as Hansen, have become more vocal about the seriousness of the situation...

E. Swanson

I think Rutledge took a great first step. He brought up the issue of limited coal supplies and then worked it through to the end using 1 model. Pretty amazing for a side project.

Now that attention is getting focused on how resource limitations may impact the climate models, those who have access to serious computational power can get to work.

What I hope comes out of all this is some glimmer of a chance that if we can keep the unconventional oil and lowest quality coal in the ground, that we might survive the next few centuries. It makes a divide and conquer strategy possible. Some fossil fuel companies will not be penalized. And some will be restricted out of existence. But if there is a chance in getting some laws passed, it will be in restricting targets to a small minority and buying them off in some way.

I think Rutledge took a great first step.

I disagree. He's not a climate scientist at all. They have talked on RealClimate about the dangers of even untrained climate scientists using GCMs. Had he left his paper with the coal section and then asked for others to follow up with GCM modeling, I'd agree.

Remember: his response wrt why he chose 3C was that it was what the IPCC used. Not a very robust reason given research since and the fact IPCC sensitivities are based on work that is thirty years old.

Another reason he gave was that inputting the data took time. Let me show my ignorance: if the data is already there and input for the 3C run, is it that much trouble to change just the sensitivity and run it again? (I've downloaded MAGICC. If I can figure it out, I'll let you know.)

Further, he's been presenting his paper at various places. I know of no caveats he's uttered thus far.

Much like the question of oil reserves, there's an easy answer: Rutledge can run his data at 4, 5 and 6 and let us know how it turns out.

In his shoes, I'd be eager to do so.


I've downloaded MAGICC and ran a couple of peak fossil fuels scenarios through it at 2, 3 and 4C sensitivity. This was a while ago and I'd have to dig out the file but from what I remember 4C sensitivity + a Energy watch Group coal scenario + peak oil + peak gas gave a ~+3.5C over preindustrial temperature change. Email me on may name in lowercase no gaps at gmail and I'll send you some recent papers on this.


I think Rutledge took a great first step. He brought up the issue of limited coal supplies and then worked it through to the end using 1 model. Pretty amazing for a side project.

Agreed. I think it's wise simply to say, "this is the result of the model used in the third IPCC." If in the future he works with a climate modeler he likely would have access to different models and the result would be different (probably worse).

Climate change isn't going away as a problem even with these downward resource revisions, in my view.

There is zero doubt about this. I don't mean this is proven, only that it is correct. Natural observations tell us

Intuition is notoriously unreliable when it comes to complex science. When the best science in the world only gives us probabilities, claiming to have 100% knowledge of The Truth just makes you sound like a faith-based zealot, and that helps nobody.

There are other sources of GHG's that Rutledge did not include

My understanding is that Rutledge's work is not being billed as a comprehensive climate analysis, but rather a cursory analysis based on his model of coal. I think it's more productive to make sure it's clear what the limitations of the work are, rather than to demand that anyone who wants to do anything must do everything.

Intuition can be developed with complex science, such as getting experience with graphing strange attractors in phase space, examining the Mandelbrot and Julia sets, and modeling systems of differential equations at critical points of inflection and bifurcation.

Mr. Pitt is also very studiously ignoring that a goodly number of scientific and technological breakthroughs were intuitive leaps.

He's forgetting or ignoring that the human brain is actually a far more powerful computer than the best computers we have can even dream of being. My take on intuition has always been that it's likely nothing more than our brains processing data at speeds and levels our conscious mind can't handle.

What is it with people today that they think there is no human element in science?

My understanding is that Rutledge's work is not being billed as a comprehensive climate analysis, but rather a cursory analysis based on his model of coal. I think it's more productive to make sure it's clear what the limitations of the work are, rather than to demand that anyone who wants to do anything must do everything.

Might *I* suggest you do a little less cherry picking with your quotes? Including other GHG's was perhaps the least pertinent thing I wrote. Why bother, Pitt?

As for the above, time is short, opportunity limited. We don't have time for misleading papers on important issues. I didn't ask for everything, I asked for minimally acceptable.

Reliable projections are always based on multiple runs over a range of scenarios. He did not do this, yet I don't recall his paper, nor the discussion here, being much in the way of equivocal. To wit:

The maximum temperature rise for our Producer-Limited Profile is 1.8°C in 2150. The blue lower curve shows the part of the temperature rise that is associated with future fossil-fuel use. This is calculated by running the simulation with and without future fossil fuels, and subtracting. It turns out that the maximum temperature rise associated with future fossil fuel use is only 0.8°C, less than half of the total. This means that the contributions to the temperature rise from fossil fuels that have already been consumed, and from deforestation, and from other greenhouse gases amount to more than the contribution from future fossil-fuel use.

But, dang, isn't the current 0.8 + 1.8 = 2.6 enough? That total rise is beyond what many (most?) climate scientists consider safe. Note that this is using 3C! So, if 3C sensitivity is DANGEROUS with greatly limited coal reserves, then are we not looking at the absolute best case scenario here? Who the hell considers a couple of standard deviations from the most likely outcome to be the most acceptable outcome?

Seriously, people need to wake up.


Yes, I saw that yesterday and it REALLY sucks. Gasoline is one thing, but don't price me out of coffee and sugar. That is serious.

In Venezuela sugar and coffee are listed as staple items and their price is controlled. When rumor spreads that the government will raise the price cap of coffee the regular grounds disappear off the shelf. Someone (not farmers and probably not grocery store owners) cuts off the supply until the price rises. Then they release the product and make a tidy profit as everyone rushes out to restock their cupboard.

I don't really mind with coffee. Sure I get really drowsy and dull for a few days, but its probably good for me to reduce y caffeine addiction. Sugar can be avoided. Milk and meat can be substituted.

But it really, really sucks when they do it with toilet paper. Its too bulky to store in decent quantities in a small apartment. The stores run out of napkins and paper towels too. You end up with the options of baby wipes (moist), newspaper (scratchy), rags (sometimes scratchy, run out fast) or cotton balls (way too tiny). I won't begin to describe the unhappiness my backside suffers.

If I ever find a decent alternative I will be pleased. (And will post the information)

I keep last year's Yellow Pages near The Throne. In an emergency I rip a page to pieces, crumple them between my hands. Also there's the Arab solution, use the left hand (I am too fastidious for that). Curious how often in the 1001 Nights a man tries to eat with his left hand, to the scandal of the others, who realize he's had his right hand cut off (the mark of a thief), and then tells his story.

Like a rock...

GM CEO Says Still Hope Of Avoiding Chapter 11

General Motors Corp. (GM) said Monday it could still avoid seeking bankruptcy protection, though key elements of its restructuring plan remain in flux.

The auto maker has just three weeks to resolve union and creditor discussions, finalize the fate of ailing brands and cull its U.S. dealer network.

"We need to move, and we need to move fast," said CEO Fritz Henderson on a conference call, as the company closes in on the June 1 deadline set by the U.S. administration. "We think there is still an opportunity for this to be done out of court."

Yeah, right.

Dude, you are burning through over $100 Million/day and have a market cap of less than $1 Billion. In fact, the government would probably be better off buying GM for market value (less than $1B) and dismantling it than throwing endless and fruitless lifelines...

My vote for a new bumper sticker:

NO to Bailouts/Bankruptcy

It's all in the spin, isn't it?

On the same day, AP ran a much bleaker piece. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/GM-CEO-says-tasks-are-large-apf-15208755.html

DETROIT (AP) -- Bankruptcy protection for the nation's biggest automaker is becoming more probable with a deadline just over two weeks away, the company's top executive told reporters Monday.

A construction worker falls of a 100 story building. As he passes the 50th floor, he says to himself "So far, so good."

Norway April production dip under 2m barrels per day:

OSLO, May 11 (Reuters) - Norway's oil production fell to a preliminary 1.99 million barrels per day on average in April from 2.15 million in March, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Thursday.

Production of natural gas liquids (NGL) and condensate fell to a preliminary 350,000 barrels per day in April from 389,000 in March, the directorate said in a statement.


This is quite a drop for one month..


International Petroleum Monthly (IPM)

April 2009 International Petroleum Monthly
Posted: May 11, 2009
Next Update: Early June 2009

The April IPM shows Feb 09 crude oil production down 2,135 million barrels a day from Feb.08. The run rate looks like 2004 at present.

I am intrigued by the 'Dog on a Chain' analogy, and am adding another one with what I call the 'Peak Oil Train'. This hypothetical train runs on oil (diesel) at current prices, and represents the World economy. The health of that economy is measured by the momentum of the train, in expansion or recession (slowing down). This train transports people, livestock, coal, packaged products, grain, etc. The people on board must pay a certain amount for a seat to travel, just as suppliers, merchants, etc. pay for boxcars. As the price of oil goes up, transport on the train goes up.

When oil reached 145 dollars a barrel, the price for travel and boxcars went up so high many poorer countries got off the train (the disenfranchised), letting the developed world have their shipments of oil. As the price rose ever higher, more and more people and businesses were unable to afford the cost of transport, even in the West. The loss of train sales reduced purchasing power for the oil (diesel) and the train lost momentum (recession).

The price required to slow the train initially was 145 a barrel, but since the economy (train) is now moving slower, the price to slow it even more will now be at a much lower price per barrel, maybe 70 or 90 dollars. As the world economy encounters lower EROEI coupled with oil depletion, increasing cost of oil will continue to slow the train, effectively putting the brakes on, then the price will drop to get passengers back on board, gain some momentum, then the cost will rise and passengers will get off. As this dry heaves, teeter totter action moves forward in time, the world economy will turn into national economies, then regional, then local (Kunstler).

Good analogy?

I'd say it's good in that differences between the analogy and reality are fairly obvious. Other analogies might fool more readers.

I keep being surprised by the difficulty many have in thinking about macroeconomic issues.
Reasoning by analogy seems to have an irresistible appeal, perhaps precisely because it allows people to convince themselves that a grasp on macro is not required.

What Rune has shown is that it was the OECD economies that got off the train. Developing countries did better, especially the oil producers and China and India did better.

Hello TODers,

The high-elevation 'sky island' of Nepal takes another step downwards towards Olduvai:

Subsidized fertilizer to miss paddy season

KATHMANDU, May 12: Farmers will not be getting subsidized fertilizer for the coming paddy season due to delay in the procurement process, said a senior government official.

“We need at least three to four months including shipment time to bring subsidized fertilizer from the overseas market,” added Dahal. The maize and paddy seasons are the major seasons when farmers need huge amounts of fertilizer.

..Dahal said the price of subsidized fertilizer will be set 25 percent higher than the prevalent prices in India.
My guess is that even the 25% increase is still not sufficient to overcome the combo logistics hurdle of drastic elevation change and far inland transport. Recall that prices can increase up to 6X compared to sea-level prices if the transport methods are rudimentary and/or infrastructure is in bad shape.

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

Production was NOT flat, demand was flat due to higher prices. The Saudis had oil to sell but no buyers (due to high prices/reduced demand) so they concluded correctly that such high prices were due to speculation.

National Guard members from Iowa and Nebraska who have farming backgrounds are on a special mission in Afghanistan, teaching farmers in the war-torn nation more efficient ways to grow crops and raise livestock.

About 50 soldiers from the two states have been overseas about eight months, working to introduce new methods to Afghan farmers who, in some cases, are following centuries-old traditions...
IMO, this is much, much better than a Nat-Guard unit from NYC's Wall Street: they would probably be teaching the Afghans how to jumpstart ponzi schemes to then build golf resorts.

Since I-NPK is at the Thermodynamic Maximum; ie, Moore's Law does not apply to I-NPK, [see quote below]:

"We've reached the theoretical maximum in terms of what our industry can do with energy efficiency," said Kathy Mathers of the Fertilizer Institute about the industry's worries about additional carbon-cutting measures. "At this point, we're limited by the laws of chemistry."
..IMO, it would greatly help the Afghanistanis if they got translated copies of the Humanure Handbook and the MacFarlane PDF on Japanese O-NPK practices. My guess is, like Nepal, they will postPeak find it increasingly difficult to import I-NPK.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Denver-based Intrepid Potash Inc., the largest producer of potassium fertilizer in the U.S., may reduce output of the crop nutrient by at least 28 percent this year as demand may remain lower than some analysts' estimates.
It would now appear that all the main potash producers, POT, Uralkali, Belaruskali, etc, are now united behind the idea of not selling the Element K at a per unit loss.

This is a worthwhile read, IMO:

Prairie gold

Potash. It just might be the world’s best business: a commodity with virtually unlimited demand, no viable substitute and abundant supply controlled by a handful of companies in just a few countries...

..Potash prices may moderate over the short term, he adds, but in the longer run, as the world’s soils become increasingly reliant on fertilizer to replace depleted nutrients, demand will hold sway. “Potash can’t be priced like a commodity,” he says. “It isn’t a commodity. It’s a necessity.”

Elon Musk: Once The Electric Charge Dies, The Volt Is Like A Lawnmower

Musk may be right in that the Volt may sound like a lawnmower but it will keep going whereas when the Tesla runs out of juice it ain't going anywhere.
They keep pushing the 200 mile range, too bad most testers are getting considerably less, more like 50.

I had a chance to see the production model in black rather than that pukey seafoam and it looks great.
If the drivetrain guys have done their jobs as well as design, the Volt will be an amazing vehicle.

'Distributed power' to save Earth

Economist Jeremy Rifkin galvanised the Research Connections 2009 conference in Prague with a roadmap to simultaneously solve the economic and energy crises.

He proposed a pan-European strategy of small-scale energy generation and smart energy grids that make everyone a partner in energy.

"If this energy is distributed over every square foot all over the world, why would we collect it only at a few points? The problem is we're using 20th century, centralised, top-down business models."

Instead, Mr Rifkin suggested overhauling the technology of infrastructure and architecture such that buildings have integral power generation: solar panels and small vertical wind turbines on roofs, heat pumps harvesting geothermal energy in basements.


The use of solar and wind in widely distributed production has been around for decades. The trouble is, the utilities in the U.S. have built their industry around centralized production, which produces electricity with high reliability and can meet the usual fluctuations in demand rather well. The utilities don't like to deal with distributed production, even though they are supposed to allow small producers to push their energy onto the grid.

Rifkin also suggests that small vertical axis wind turbines are the way to go, ignoring the abysmal efficiency of most of these designs. He's mostly grandstanding IMHO, something he seems to be good at, having done so before.

E. Swanson