DrumBeat: May 24, 2009

Rubin blames recession on oil

WHEN JEFF RUBIN said that oil was going to $50 a barrel, other economists thought he was on drugs. But it did. They scoffed again when he said it would go beyond $100. It went to $147 before dropping to $50. Don’t be suckered, says Rubin. As the recession ends, oil will go far higher — $200, $400, who knows?

For 20 years, Rubin was chief economist at CIBC World Markets. His newly published book Why Your World Is About To Get a Whole Lot Smaller (Random House, $29.95) rests on a simple argument. Our entire globalized economy depends on cheap oil, but we have already burned most of the easily obtained free-flowing oil. That’s why we’re now spending vast amounts to wring the difficult oil from the deep sea and the tar sands, because that’s all that’s left.

So the world’s steadily rising demand for oil ultimately can’t be satisfied. According to conventional economics, when a thing is scarce, its price goes up. Higher prices stimulate more production, which drives the price down again. But not this time. With the easy oil already used, we’ll be hard-pressed even to maintain today’s production for very long. More and more dollars will chase less and less oil, and the price will soar.

Less oil = smaller world = look out!

Your world is about to get a whole lot smaller, Canadian economist Jeff Rubin predicts, because the planet is running out of oil.

The price at the gasoline pumps may spike up and then subside, but the overall trend will be up, along with all other energy costs.

With the world economy based on the myth of cheap, infinitely abundant energy, the current recession will look puny compared to future economic dislocation, Rubin warns, if we don't find a way to cut the link between economic growth and burning oil.

Face-Off: Over A Barrel (Rubin vs. Yergin)

Oil prices are heading up. After hitting $145 last summer, then falling to $33 in February, a barrel of oil is now more than $60. How long until it's back above $100?

Scottish petrol stations are running on empty

Local authorities in Scotland are to campaign for public money that could be used to retain a network of filling stations in the highlands and islands as closures accelerate there.

The Highland Council said that more than half of the remaining 231 petrol outlets in its region faced closure in the next decade unless something was done.

IEA sees 21% drop in E&P spend

The International Energy Agency expects investment in oil and gas production to fall 21% in 2009 due to the financial crisis and ensuing economic slump, executive director Nobuo Tanaka said.

A Reuters report also quoted him as saying the IEA global power generation to fall 3.5% this year -- the first such decline since World War II.

Saudi Red Sea refineries not threatened by volcano

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia, May 23 (Reuters) - Recent seismic activity in a volcanic region in Saudi Arabia does not present nearby oil refineries with any danger, officials said on Saturday.

Authorities have evacuated thousands of people from the northwestern al-Ais region after a series of tremors hit the volcanic area over the past few weeks, culminating with a 5.4 Richter scale tremor on Tuesday, few hours after a 4.8 tremor.

Saudi Arabia has three oil refineries on the Red Sea coast, two of which in the port of Yanbu, about 150 km away from al-Ais.

Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is well positioned because of dependence on foreign energy

When the nation's first offshore oil port opened off the coast of Louisiana in 1981, the country was still reeling from an energy crisis that had sapped fuel consumption and slashed commodity prices.

No market meant no profits for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a platform standing 18 miles south of Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico. The port reportedly lost more than $40 million during its first full year of operation and struggled to turn a profit for years after that.

Nearly three decades later, LOOP is a much more lucrative operation. Demand for foreign oil has doubled since the 1980s, and the port receives about as much imported crude as it can handle. LOOP is now awash in profits, with $200 million in cash reserves at the beginning of 2008, according to Moody's Investors Services. LOOP's owners -- Shell Oil Co., Marathon Oil Co. and Murphy Oil Corp. -- shared $70 million in dividends from port operations in 2007, according to Moody's.

Fools for Fuel

Who would have thought that during the worst economic retrenchment precluding the Great Depression, the price of Gasoline would continue to race upwards?

Numerous factors affect gasoline prices, despite many of them have no direct correlation to the actual commodity at hand.

In order to break even, a refinery needs about $70 for a 42 gallon barrel of crude oil reflecting the cost of exploration to end sale. Today, Crude reached $60 for the first time in 6 months.

Meanwhile, we are told that stockpiles of fuel have reached unprecedented levels not seen in 20 years. This is not a result of continued massive refinery production, but more a dramatic cutback in worldwide end user consumption, be it commuters, truck, airline, ship and rail traffic.

Pakistan - No power outages after Dec: Ashraf

HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf announced here on Saturday that there would be no load-shedding in the country after December 2009 and construction of Basha dam would begin in the current year and other dams would also be built in order to curb power outages.

The minister called upon employees of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) to bring efficiency in the company and reduce line losses to avoid privatisation of the company.

Many Summer Internships Are Going Organic

A new wave of liberal arts students are heading to farms this summer, in search of both work and social change.

Commentary: Nuclear power is clean energy for a post-carbon era

INDIANAPOLIS — If America is on the verge of a "nuclear renaissance," as proponents of nuclear power contend, our nuclear Dark Age has cost us dearly.

The nuclear industry provides just 19.7 percent of America's electrical power, a remarkably small share for a country with our industrial capacity and energy needs. There were 112 reactors operating in the United States in 1990. Today, there are just over 100.

U.S. considering its own isotope solution

OTTAWA - The Canadian nuclear reactor shutdown that will cause a worldwide shortage of crucial medical isotopes is going to hit Canada's largest trading partner particularly hard and strengthens the case south of the border for the United States to move away from its dependence on Canada and to develop its own production capacity.

The aging National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River, Ont., produces the majority of the world's supply of the critical isotopes that are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. After the reactor was shut down because of a power outage last week, a leak was found in the 52-year-old reactor, and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited estimates it will take at least a month to repair the damage, but it could be up to a year and it is possible it will have to be shutdown.

Exxon Mobil facing green squeeze

As President Barack Obama continues pushing his environmental agenda, Exxon Mobil — the slowest of the oil majors to embrace investment in renewable energy — faces a repeat lineup of green shareholder proposals at its annual meeting Wednesday.

The world’s largest publicly traded company has not changed its view that its business is oil and natural gas, and it won’t invest in renewables beyond research until they’re profitable without subsidies.

But some influential proxy advisory firms note that such proposals have steadily gained investor support, and the perception that Exxon Mobil has no use for renewables continues to damage its reputation.

Global energy security dominates G8 meeting in Rome

Rome - The need to safeguard global energy security to promote worldwide economic recovery topped the agenda as energy ministers and officials from the world's richest nations began talks Sunday in Rome.

Representatives from the Group of Eight (G8) most developed economies, which include the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Russia, are also set to discuss new 'clean' technologies to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Naimi sees Opec 'staying the course'

"By end of June we are going to have a capacity of 12.5 million bpd and we are idling a little bit less than 8 million bpd," he said.

"Do we need Manifa with a spare capacity of 4.5 million bpd?"

Naimi Says He’s ‘Happy’ With OPEC Output Compliance

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said he’s “absolutely fine” with the adherence to OPEC oil production quotas by member states.

“I’m happy with compliance,” al-Naimi told reporters today in Rome. “When it’s around 80, this is the best we can expect,” he said, referring to the percentage rate of compliance.

IMF was too pessimistic on oil price - Saudi finmin

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said on Sunday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was overly pessimistic on its forecast for the price of oil this year.

Speaking to al-Arabiya television, Assaf dismissed the likelihood of a contraction in the economy of the world's largest oil exporter saying these predictions were based on the IMF's oil price forecast.

"There was some exaggerated pessimism," he said.

Venezuela says world oil stocks too high

QUITO - Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Saturday world oil stock levels were too high and that was 'a bad sign' as OPEC prepares to meet next week.

He declined to say if he would support an OPEC output cut next week.

Supply up, demand down, but oil prices rise

"The fact it's going up now on nada is proof that speculators are still in control," said Judy Dugan, research director with the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog. "Unless there are curbs in place, it obviously could shoot through the roof again." Changing the rules

That fear is fueling efforts in Washington to change the rules of the oil market. A global warming bill wending its way through Congress includes provisions designed to limit the role of speculative oil investors, whom many politicians blame for last year's runaway bull market.

Shell bonus rebels want Job to go

ANGRY investors in Royal Dutch Shell are this weekend calling for the head of Sir Peter Job, the director at the centre of last week’s embarrassing pay revolt at the oil group.

Shareholders think the removal of Job, former chief executive of news group Reuters, should be the first step in the shake-up of a boardroom criticised as being out of touch.

Some Still Swear By Gas Guzzlers, But For How Long?

Whether I'm launching onto I-84 or passing a truck on Route 44, I want to hear a sound — not a buzz or a whine, but a throaty snarl that speaks of power and survival.

Like many Americans, I need a car with spirit and heft, and if it has some elegance or attitude in the fender lines, so much the better.

Events, however, are conspiring to end this long affair.

Entergy set to do battle over transmission grid

A long-simmering dispute between Entergy Corp. and independent power producers over the adequacy and accessibility of Entergy's transmission grid is about to come to a head.

The dispute has been brewing since a wave of deregulation and dreams of electrical competition spurred legions of power entrepreneurs to come to Louisiana to take advantage of the state's abundant natural gas supplies and water for cooling power plants.

But the question of who should pay for the upgrades to Entergy's transmission system so that the power from these newer, cleaner natural gas plants can be sold to small electric cooperatives, big refineries and even Entergy's customers has never been resolved.

The future of food: daunting, but doable

For thousands of years, the daily activities, exertions and plans of human beings orbited around one simple question: What’s for dinner?

As human innovation, cheap oil and abundant water have turned that laborious hunt for food into a convenient stop into the grocery store, though, that question has fallen from the forefront of our thoughts.

But today, with a perfect storm of challenges — drying aquifers, degraded soil, climate change, peak oil, more demand for meat, and less land to grow on — converging like a black cloud over agriculture, that issue of dinner is reemerging as one of the most important facing the global population.

Official: China ranks world 4th in wind power-installed capability

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- With total installed capacity of 12million kilowatts, China has become the world's fourth country in wind power-installed capacity, an official said on Saturday in Beijing.

"Concerning wind power-installed capacity, China is next only to the United States, France and Spain," Lu Yanchang, vice chairman of the China Science and Technology Association, made the above remarks at the fifth China Energy Strategy Forum.

Pickup truck gets 5,000 miles per cord of wood

LEWISTON, Maine — A pickup truck that was modified in Alabama to burn wood chips for fuel is headed to Maine with its new owners behind the wheel of the vehicle they call “Termite.”

Auburn, Maine, businessman Ford Reiche and his son George left Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday. The Lewiston Sun Journal said a device in the bed of the truck roasts wood chips to form a wood gas, which is cooled, filtered and fed into the engine.

Good news, bad news for biofuels

This past week’s news from the Obama administration to the biofuels industry was, in the words of one expert, a mixed bag.

The good news was the administration announced on May 5 the formation of a new Biofuels Interagency Working Group headed by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack said he would speed investment to the industry.

The bad news was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also filed a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Getting Ethanol Right

Representative Collin Peterson is furious that the Environmental Protection Agency is doing its job. The Minnesota Democrat says the agency is trying to kill off the biofuels industry — to the dismay of the corn farmers and ethanol producers he represents. He has vowed to vote against any bill, including climate change legislation, that might require the involvement of the E.P.A.

What inspired this tirade was an E.P.A. draft proposal showing how it intended to measure the greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol and other renewable fuels. The agency said it will not make any final rules until it completes further research, but its preliminary findings were not flattering to corn ethanol.

Biofuel plants can't compete with falling price of diesel

The local shutdowns are part of a national collapse that's ravaged the biodiesel market after years of exponential growth. At least a third of all biodiesel plants across the nation have ceased operation, and production this year is expected to be no more than half last year's total of 700 million gallons.

"It's a tough climate for biofuels," said Diane Mulloy, president of Milagro Biofuels.

US nuclear accord with a Persian Gulf state raises concerns about proliferation

Backers says the agreement with the United Arab Emirates is a model for other countries in the region. But critics worry about the UAE's ties with Iran.

Unemployed seek training for green-collar jobs

SAN JOSE, Calif. - As the economy sheds jobs, community colleges across the country are reporting a surge of unemployed workers enrolling in courses that offer training for "green-collar" jobs.

Students are learning how to install solar panels, repair wind turbines, produce biofuels and do other work related to renewable energy.

Not a drag: High-tech airplane wings could cut fuel costs by 20 percent

A new study says that within three years jumbo jet makers could be testing out a new type of wing that reduces mid-air drag and cuts fuel costs by an estimated 20 percent. The wing would do this using small, built in jets that redirect air around the wing during flight.

Pelosi in China to discuss climate change

BEIJING (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived Sunday in Beijing for a week of discussions with China on global warming.

Pelosi told reporters in Washington her goal is to pave the way for a global agreement on carbon emissions at December's meeting in Copenhagen, The Washington Post reported. She refused to say whether she would bring up criticisms of China's human rights record.

Solar Forecasts and Climate Change

Ultimately, global warming can be blamed on the sun. It's the sun's light that bathes the Earth and then gets sent back towards space as heat. But some of that heat gets blocked by those pesky carbon dioxide molecules building up in the atmosphere—inexorably warming our planet.

So the sun's output has a lot to do with what we can expect climate-wise. After all, a decrease in solar output known as the Maunder Minimum helped freeze Europe for a few centuries.

World Biz Leaders to Call for “Massive” Climate Investment

Next week, executives from some of the world’s largest corporations plan to get behind a call for an international treaty that would include “strong incentives for massive investment in new technologies and new climate solutions.” The Copenhagen Climate Council has dubbed this planned set of recommendations for policy, business strategies, and models for public-private partnerships the “Copenhagen Call,” and will deliver it at the end of the World Business Summit on Climate Change taking place May 24-26.

Yosemite's giant trees disappear

The oldest and largest trees within California's world famous Yosemite National Park are disappearing.

Climate change appears to be a major cause of the loss.

The revelation comes from an analysis of data collected over 60 years by forest ecologists.

They say one worrying aspect of the decline is that it is happening within one of most protected forests within the US, suggesting that even more large trees may be dying off elsewhere.

Some Still Swear By Gas Guzzlers, But For How Long?

So fill your tanks, hit the road and flip the bird to every Smart ForTwo you see. Floor it while you can, America.

And a big, middle finger, salute to you too, sir!

Honestly, who cares about people like that guy in that article? The sane people of the world will pass laws that make that kind of behavior so expensive that he won't do it. (Assuming the market doesn't beat us to the punch.)

What does bother me is the incessant desire of corporate media outlets to find the "man bites dog" story and give those wackaloons far more attention than they deserve. Of course there are people out there who think we have an infinite supply of oil, global warming is a hoax, we got zero-point energy from aliens and the Government is keeping it from us, we never landed on the moon, contrails are used to control the masses, etc. Heck, you can probably find some people who think Count Chocula is real. But that doesn't mean they're more important or useful or enlightening than about 100 other stories we all could name.

Give me also a "big, middle finger, salute." Because I deserve it. And I LOVE it!!! ahahhaahaaaa.

Take your econobox and shove it!

I am heading down behind "The Orange Curtain" tomorrow. It is always a wake up call, and somewhat surreal experience, kind of like being on hallucinogens.
It is fun for a while, but eventually I need to get out of the shallow end of the pool.
Going to South Laguna, where life is always beautiful, and there is nothing to examine, or even to reject.
But the view is good, maybe a few waves, be with friends, and try not to point out that they are living in one of the least survivable situations around.

It's hard to keep quiet when visiting non-survivable people, is't it?

And of course they have been living like that for years and years so who is the kook? Depends on POV.

Maybe in the future they can equip electric cars and hybrids with a sound system that makes vrooom-vroom noises to keep the gearheads happy.

The story about the truck that runs on wood gas reminds me that during WWII, some countries (Sweden comes to mind) were doing this to get around petroleum shortages. The problem is that at the time there were tars and other impurities in the wood gas which gunked up the engine.

We had some long discussions on TOD several years ago about wood gas/biogas so anyone interested might do a search. Wood gas is going to be my fall-back fuel if things get to the point of hyper-expensive gas or unavailability.

The Mother Earth News also had many articles on this topic as well as plans. Journey to Forever might also have some car stuff. IIRC they also had some stuff on converting diesels to wood gas.


Germany was operating many such vehicles in WW2.

Woodgas is definitely a workable solution for some. I bought a gasifier recently to play with and it is a touchy beast. Tar is a serious issue, especially if you want to run an engine with woodgas. Some people do it very well. Others have problems. It's a developing field. Strange how so much technology has actually been lost. Us woodgas people are in the position of reinventing the wheel to some extent. The Swedes and others in WWII went to using charcoal in their gasifiers due to the difficulties with raw wood. Solved the tar issue. Closely related is biochar added to soil. There is lots of wood waste but not enough to save the big city.

Do you know if they try to create high-temp post-combustion to deal with Tar? This is how masonry stoves prevent the buildup of chimney Creosotes/etc that you'll get from cooler running woodstoves.. it's just a more progressive shaping of the combustion chamber, or a second combustion chamber and flow control, I believe.

The "high temp post combustion" phase takes place in the cylinder of an ICE. That's why tar is a problem. You drive off the combustible vapors of the fuel, then attempt to crack and filter the tars leaving clean gas to power an engine. Clean wood gas consists of H2, CO, and a small amount of methane. Add tar to that and you end up with a very cruddy engine.

hmm.. that was a glaring oversight, huh?

Of course, my next step is to keep all the combustion in the first burner and move the heat to steam.. but I don't know if there are any useful reciprocal steam designs still running around out there. The thought of a turbine to a gennie to electric drive is just getting silly, isn't it?



There is ongoing work down a lot of different paths. You can simply flare woodgas as a heat source for anything you want including steam or heating your house. Old fashioned steam engines are very inefficient. Steam turbine might be a bit complex and no off the shelf parts. Gas turbines have been tried but the high rpms make them rather delicate. People talk about heating a Sterling and it does work but Sterlings are not readily available, low cost machines. I'm personally not crazy about running a portable gasifier in the back of my car but lots of people are doing this with results as good as EVs. My own preference is a stationary application driving a genset. The better quality the fuel the better quality the gas output, ranging from wet wood chips (the worst) to charcoal (with BTU losses in the coaling step). The better quality filtering and tar removal the better your genset will run and the longer it will last. There's lots of information out there.

Steam turbine might be a bit complex and no off the shelf parts.

Why wouldn't a car water pump work? Tack on a home-made rotor/stator like on a DIY windmill.

But, I'm probably missing something.


I recall Tom McCahill, automotive editor of Mechanics Illustrated remarking that somebody had gotten 25 miles from a dead cat in a car gasifier during WWII. Tom died in 1975, a long time ago.

All cars after 1975 have to have a cat converter so we'll be fine.


Naimi sees Opec 'staying the course'

Ah. So we are to infer that you will repeat this slogan passionately for a couple of years, then directly contradict yourself?

They've learnt well, spin and propaganda are all you need to deceive the masses. Say something for long enough and shout it long enough and people can be duped for long periods of time. Remember operation 'Iraqi freedom', the Swiftboat campaign against Kerry, 'Yes We Can' more recently and the on going green shoots of economic recovery mantra.

As many of you know, I'm a strong advocate of high efficiency air source heat pumps, given the potential cost savings over oil and electric heat even in relatively cold climates such as my own (our winters are colder than those of Buffalo, NY).

Fujitsu is one of the technological leaders in this field and they've raised the bar again. Their recently introduced 9RLS and 12RLS units have a SEER rating of 26 and 25 respectively -- double that of many systems sold today. The HSPF (heating season performance factor) rating is 12, which translates to be a COP of 3.5. This puts its heating and cooling performance on par with that of a typical geothermal system (according to the AHRI database, the heating COP of a GSHP falls between 2.6 and 5.1*).

See: http://www.fujitsugeneral.com/PDF_06/9-12RLS%20Sell%20Sheet.pdf


(*) http://www.ahridirectory.org/ahriDirectory/pages/wbahp/defaultSearch.aspx

Paul -
First, congratulations and appreciation for the work you're doing toward improving energy efficiency in lighting and heating. Conservation is its own reward and has a much decreased payback period compared to 'infrastructure developmet.' Great stuff!
Second, can you provide any links to manufacturers like Fujitsu, who offer air exchange heat pumps that can be used with existing forced air systems? I'm very interested in finding something workable for the new high-efficiency gas heating system I installed last year.
Thanks and, again, great work.

Thanks for your kind words, NWpeaker. The work I do on behalf of Nova Scotia Power by way of their Small Business Lighting Solutions and Commercial+Industrial initiatives, as well as our work beyond these two programmes is tremendously gratifying. Every kWh saved eliminates, on average, some 0.84 kg of CO2e, 9.2 g of SO2, 1.8 g of NOx and 0.014 mg of Hg -- each kWh, modest as it may be, is seen as a small victory.

I'm afraid I don't know of any high efficiency heat pumps that would be suitable for your type of heating system. The traditional North American players such as Trane, Carrier, Lennox, Goodman, etc. are still flogging pretty much the same technology they sold in the '70s.

Although you have a forced air system, a ductless heat pump may be a good option if it allows you to target additional heating and cooling to an area that is difficult to serve, especially during the swing seasons. You can also use it to spot heat or cool the area where you spend the greatest amount of time, allowing you to turn down the main thermostat and thereby save energy.

Alternatively, if your furnace is equipped with a variable speed ECM motor, running your circulation fan on low would allow you to comfortably distribute the heat and coolth throughout your home; at these low speeds, an ECM motor may draw as little as 17-watts (source: http://irc.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/pubs/fulltext/nrcc38443/nrcc38443.pdf). In effect, you gain the best of both worlds, but with a system that is one and a half to two times more energy efficient and far less costly.


Thanks, Paul, for the information.
I do have an ECM motor, so that may be a more practical solution.
I still have some additional experimenting to do before taking action, although I feel time for mitigation strategies may be shorter than previously anticipated.
Much appreciation, again.

Hi Barry,

As you may recall from a previous post, there are two ductless heat pumps in our home: a 12,000 BTU/hr Friedrich (nee Fujitsu) I installed in August 2005 (7.2 HSPF) and a similar size Sanyo we added to the basement level last November (9.3 HSPF). Both are 15-amp/115-volt units, which is a critical consideration for us, as we have limited space left on our main panel. Both have an installed cost of about US$ 1,500.00 and, together, they supply virtually all of our space heating needs. The key difference is that the latter is a more advanced inverter model that offers superior cold weather performance, increased comfort, quieter operation and 30 per cent more heat from every kWh.

I'm now mulling over whether I should replace the Friedrich with another inverter system (it has already paid for itself in fuel oil savings and can be donated to the SPCA or some other non-profit organization where it can serve out the remainder of its nominal life). At an average usage of nearly 4,000 kWh a year, it accounts for one-third of our total household consumption. If I opt for another Sanyo such as we have now, we could save 900 kWh/year, however, this new Fujitsu could potentially bump that up to 1,600 kWh, which is more than enough to offset all of our DHW requirements. The main stumbling block is price, as I expect the Fujitsu to command a sizable premium (I can purchase either at wholesale so that does help lessen the sting somewhat).

I could never fully recover the cost of an early replacement, but that's not the primary motivator; I want to reduce our energy consumption to the greatest extent possible and whatever discretionary funds I may have, limited as they may be, I would rather spend on something like this than any number of alternatives (*).


(*) OK, with the possible exception of a Dodge Viper, hair transplant, liposuction, face lift, penis enlargement....

Re: your exceptions to alternatives - I've always asked for "dancing girls and a TransAm" on birthdays and gift occasions. Haven't seen either, yet. What's up with that?

Local conditions affect what solution is best.

Ventless room gas heaters (max 10,000 BTUs bedrooms, max 6,000 BTUs bathrooms) are 99.9% efficient and supply heat where needed. At moderate outside temperatures (say 40 F, +5 C), a heat pump (NG fuel electricity) should beat that, but not by much.

The total heating demand in New Orleans cannot come close to justifying the capital investment.

For cooling, I think humidity control is paramount in New Orleans and a humidistat connected to an ECM motor is the best solution I am aware of. A "tight house" to limit humidity leaks from outside is essential as well.

What are the humidity control characteristics of these new heat pumps ? Can the fans be throttled down on demand like ECMs ?



Hello, Alan -

Up here in the Pacific Northwest (actually eastside, close to the mountains in Idaho/Montana), our winters can be pretty chilly. So, the ventless heaters probably should have been a greater consideration before replacing the old oil burner. Overall, we average about 2500 degree days at a boundary of 50 degrees F., so it's not the worst place (certainly not like the upper Midwest) nor as easy-going as the middle East Coast and Gulf areas. Additionally, the humidity stays reasonable through the Summer, unlike say, Washington D.C., much of Tennessee, etc.

I'll take a look at a few of those heaters. Thanks for the additional input.
Respects to you and keep up the good work on electrifying transit.
btw, most of our electricity is hydro, with occasional NG backup for peaks.

Overall, pretty cheap (for the moment).

Up in in Maine we use an Empire Direct Vent, DV 25

Through the wall venting, no chimney. It's our backup to the wood stove. Illness, or just have to be away in midwinter for an extended time etc. Works just fine keeping the whole house toasty, though I watch the price of propane closely and we only use it if it's really needed. Runs just fine without electricity, although the fan addition does heat the rooms quicker. The pig full of propane is a nice addition to my fuel stocks if needed.

For the truly paranoid here, it also gives me heat without broadcasting my location with wood smoke.
Chuckle !!

Don in Maine

Hey, Don . . . how are you? Kinda' lost track for a bit - computer crash that took most of my e-mail stuff along with a ton of pictures and classwork from an academic program. Glad to here you're 'on top of things.'
Best to all,


Ventless propane (or natural gas) heaters have a high efficiency in theoretical terms, but the exhaust gases must still be vented. These heaters come with instructions to open a window when using them so that the oxygen level in the structure can be maintained. With tightly sealed house, the heater can burn out the oxygen, so these devices automatically shutdown when the O2 level is too low. Also, they are not approved for use in bedrooms. If the house is tightly sealed, one should also install an energy recovery venting device, which would solve the oxygen depletion problem and vent any other gases which might build up inside the building.

I've used a single 30,000 BTU propane unit to heat my entire house for the past couple of years, which works because I have super insulated the structure. I use this to supplement my solar heating system, for those cloudy days when there's not enough solar energy available. Winter temperatures around here are often in the teens and 20's, with occasional morning lows in the single digits. I don't have an energy recovery vent yet, so I just open one window slightly...

E. Swanson

the exhaust gases must still be vented

CO2 and water vapor ? More so than propane, NG (mainly CH4) burns VERY cleanly in the right furnace.

The only prohibitions are at least 50 ft3 per 1,000 BTU and a max of 6,000 BTU in bathrooms and 10,000 BTU in bedrooms and not in "unusually tight construction" and where "state or local codes prohibit".

In south Louisiana, where the annual low temperature may be 32 F (0 C) to 27 F (-3 C), 10,000 BTUs in a bedroom can be enough. No local codes prohibit them.

I do have a CO monitor "just in case" and an oxygen depletion sensor is standard. I use "Made in Japan" Rinnai units for quality control.

Best Hopes for efficiency,



In the classic "locked in the vault" scenario, it turns out that CO2 poisoning is likely to get you before oxygen depletion, something that a lot of people don't realize. Be careful with anything that vents carbon dioxide into your breathing air.


I assumed the >50 ft3/ 1,000 BTUs ratio of the regulations was meant to provide adequate dilution (assuming some air exchange). But I will run the #s before next winter.

PS: I exceed the 50 ft3/1,000 BTUs by a large margin.


Hi Alan,

Ventless space heaters are illegal in Canada; a definite no-no north of the 49.


Here is the latest of a number of PO-related articles that have appeared in The Economist over the last few years (this is an abbreviated [~50%] version of the print article):


I characterize The Economist of a fairly conservative point-of view...not American Conservative, with all the attendant trappings of 'kabuki theater' morality, but fiscal/'free market' conservative.

And even The Economist is starting to 'get it'.

Journals of science, such as Scientific American, have 'gotten it' for many years:


Unfortunately, I would hazard a guess that the majority of the U.S. population does not read The Economist, or Scientific American, other other such magazines (or 'newspapers', as the Brits call something like The Economist'), or reasonably well-research books which at least attempt to use the scientific method to make their points. Heck, I would bet all my salary that at least 50% of our citizens have not even heard of Scientific American and.or The Economist, or other publications of their types and quality.

Many people have no interest in anything that goes beyond 'fast and funny' sound bites...in fact, many people have even tuned out of the political sound bite culture. It is certainly an uphill battle to make necessary positive changes when the politicians of BAU (drill, baby, drill, etc) have perfected the art of dog whistling to their critical-thinking-challenged sheeple.

Denial is also a very human trait, humans have perfected the art of ignoring bad news and listening to views that conform to their bias. Peak oil, climate change, limits to growth have been known for more then 30 years or more. A lot of research has been done in these fields, maybe less so with peak oil but certainly the world's governments know of the problem.

But the problem is, would people elect someone who called for massive increases in their taxes, imposed huge consumption taxes, made gas twice or thrice as expensive to cut their purchasing power by half or more? NO. People wouldn't elect someone who spoke the truth, Jimmy Carter was thrown out of office after his message of frugality hit a raw nerve and Reagan spoke of infinite dreams and possibilities in a finite world.

Charles Hugh Smith has some salient observations on this, but with regards to the economic situation

The con only works because people want to believe.
They want to believe that government can keep them in a home they cannot afford. They want to believe that that taxpayers should subsidize the purchase of homes they cannot afford ($8000 tax credit). They want to believe that government can provide whatever service they want regardless the cost and have low productivity and low taxes. They want to believe that their stocks, 401K's, mutual fund and bond portfolios buying power is not decimated. They want to believe that the USD hegemony can and will continue regardless of our economic decline into stupendous debt can never be repaid. They want to believe that the rest of the world will except this arrangement indefinitely.

At some point reality is going to impose.

There's a longer version of the Economist article here (posted in the May 21 DrumBeat).

Moonwatcher,every once in a while I feel a little surge of hope,until someome like you comes along and reminds me just how ill educated even the educated are for the most part.Of course I have been well aware of this fact for my entire adult life,but sometimes I manage to forget it for a few hours on a nice spring day.
Yiou might find somebody at a small liberal well insulated college who would bet that half of us know what kind of pub Scientific American is,even with the giveaway title.Not in a bar.

First of 3 UAE nukes by 2015 ?

The Gulf POV of the recent agreement mentioned up top.


Best Hopes for less "Export Land Model",


"U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived Sunday in Beijing for a week of discussions with China on global warming."

She promises to lower her own hot air emissions if China lowers theirs......
She still cannot remember what it was that the CIA told her.
Washington DC is full of hot air and contributes to global warming by its mere existance,
but she is out preaching to China on what they "should do"?
That trip is a waste of tax money, and created more debt too.

"She still cannot remember what it was that the CIA told her."

please tell us what the cia told her.

I doubt she'll be preaching anything given the Chinese gov't is far ahead of the US gov't (thanks to our Criminals-in-Chief, BuCheney) on this issue and since there have been negotiations going on with the Obama administration since last fall.



Hello TODers,

Bangladesh's toxic legacy

Much of Bangladesh's water contains dangerous quantities of arsenic, a toxic element that cripples human organs and can eventually lead to death.

The country is now scrambling to reverse what the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls "the largest mass poisoning in history", but it will not be an easy task.

Arsenic was commonly used as a poison in the 19th century, but in Bangladesh, it occurs naturally in the groundwater, which is pumped up by shallow tube wells.

Millions affected

No one has the exact figures of the number of wells contaminated with arsenic. But according to Ruhul Haq, Bangladesh's health minister, more than 50 per cent of the population is affected by arsenic contamination - that is more than 80 million poisoned people.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

It seems like a slow day so a good time to ask a question. Any of the great minds out there in TOD land know the relative advantages of aDsorption chillers vs. aBsorption chillers. Were going to have a significant amount of waste heat to allow the creation of large chilled spaces/ ice creation. Any thoughts on which technology to use?

Or you can rotate a gadolinium disk in and out of a magnetic field:

But, no thoughts on which technology to use. If I had complete freedom to choose, it would be a ground source heat pump. With butane as the working fluid.

Hello TODers,

I was pondering the implications of the latest Olduvai:

[FIG. 1 Discussion USA excerpt]: From '73 Peak SL @ 62.09 Boe/c to '07 @ 57.48 Boe/c, ..The net result was that the U.S. SL fell overall by 7.4% from 1973 to 2007.


From 1965 to 1973 the U.S. SL surged reaching its all time peak in 1973. This was followed by a dip-and-rebound from 1973 to 1979. Then from 1979 to 1983 came a precipitous plunge wherein the U.S. SL fell by 14.5% (8.92 boe/c) in 4 years. A rough recovery came from 1983 to a high in 2000. Then from 2000 to 2007 the U.S. SL declined by 4.1% (2.46 boe/c) in 7 years.
Which brings me to ask the question: What rate of SL decline and/or combination of other factors will set off alarm bells in the Govt, MSM, and general public?

What I can feebly recall of '79-'83 decline period was not widespread alarm in any general sense, wherein the U.S. SL fell by 14.5% (8.92 boe/c) in just 4 years. Same for the recent period from 2000 to '07 whereby the U.S. SL declined by 4.1% (2.46 boe/c)in 7 years.

If the SL from '07 to '11 drops another 9 Boe/c in an exact repeat of the '79-'83 decline recessionary period--will that be sufficient to cause a general awakening of the Govt, MSM, and general public? This would put us at [57.5 - 9.0 = 48.5 boe/c] or approx. 13.5 boe/c down from the '73 peak, or roughly 25% less energy/c.

Sure, we have become more energy efficient since '73, but have we now reached the point where cascading blowbacks, formerly hidden in these prior years, will now become postPeak self-evident to the huddled masses? Even a moron understands that losing his career, house, ICE-vehicles, and medical insurance will have deleterious effects upon his family's future.

So far, it appears that 0bama & staff purposely avoid specifically mentioning Peak Oil. Who knows?--it might even be a secret Presidential National Security Directive. I would also imagine that they carefully avoid any discussion of WT's ELModel and Duncan's recent Olduvai Update, too [but I would love to see the White House Press start asking these exact questions related to these topics--hint,hint!].

A potential 13.5 boe/c decline is a tremendous amount of lost energy utilization if one recalls that just one barrel is the equivalent of 25,000-40,000 hours of human manual labor. Ilargi & Stoneleigh [TAE blog] and others suggest this recession [Depression?] is much steeper and deeper, and will be more prolonged than the earlier '79-'83 recession. How bad might this continue to 2011 and beyond?

Additionally, recall recent TOD postings that suggest the birthrate is ramping up because more people are spending time at home with more procreative opportunities. This can further drive decline in Boe/c to reduce SL even more.

13.5 boe/c X 40,000 hours = 540,000 lost hours/capita of potential Paradigm Shift tasks that could be done now to 2011 by mechanized energy slaves. That is a hell of a lot of wheelbarrow loads/capita if we wait too long. Or consider a mechanized jackhammer versus swinging a sledgehammer into reinforced concrete. Compare the power of an giant dragline or excavator to its human equivalent:


I would suggest: the world has set aflame the equivalent of 30 cubic miles of oil since 1973, but we [the Overshoot] sure don't have much to show for it to help us thrive postPeak. Just one example: how much have we restored/improved global aquifers, topsoil, forest and fishing habitats since the first Energy Embargo?

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? There is a lot of transformed energy embedded in each bag [generally I-NPK just has more than an equal weight bag of O-NPK manure], and there are No Substitutes to these Elements for photosynthesis.

Not to worry Bob. Dig up some asphalt or find a place in a park (or golf course) and plant some veggies.

This data’s primarily variables are oil -> SL and a couple population segments and ends in 2007. Things were pretty good then for the economy so it wasn’t considered. Neither was AGW nor arsenic in the wells of 80 million people nor a Chinese ‘one-baby’ policy. What about the re-emergence of a killer swine flu next fall? BTW: The only population segment that counts in this rat race is you and yours.

“Cheer up, things could be worse … so I cheered up and sure nuff, things got worse.”

And no, humans are not smarter than yeast! 6 1/2 billion and going ^^^

In regards to Forrester’s quote from Olduvai Theory - I had the good fortune (or perhaps misfortune) of being one of the very first persons to read and analyze Jay Forresters’ (and others) Limits to Growth in early 1972. This was because at that time I was studying under a professor from MIT who had worked with Forrester, and had helped construct his computer models.

My recollection is that Forrester was not specifically concerned at that time with oil, or energy in general, but with total available natural resources. More precisely - the availability of natural resources to support an expanding world population.

The 21st century seemed far in the future at the time, and although I agreed with the gloomy conclusions of Forrester, it seemed too far in the future to think my life in particular would be greatly affected.

No longer will those negative feedbacks of Forrester be far in the future, and they may be showing up quite soon. The declining use of fertilizers by farmers, especially this year, may result in unexpected shortfalls in total world food output. While I can not quantify it, it appears very likely less food will be produced in the world this year than last. With slim grain and other food reserves, the Olduvai Theory may no longer be a theory by next year.

Hello Lynford & Charles Mackay,

Thxs for your replies. It seems to me the ultimate goal of BAU & MPP is that the rich seek to consume sufficient energy, plus exploit and deplete aggregate resources, so that the last great game of competitive 'extinction eco-tourism' can begin:

[Bragger]"I just overflew Continental Africa and there was nothing but sand dunes for as far as you could see. Not one tree, elephant, lion, chimp, or even a camel. Boy, talk about a large sand bunker."

[Last Bragger?]"Hell, I can easily top that scene. I just returned from sailing my megayacht from Antarctica. No ice to be seen, except for a tiny little bergie-bit. In fact, the last of it is finally melting right now, right here, in my cocktail glass. Can you top that?"

EDIT: The slave-waiter interrupts the men's discussion to say, "Gentlemen, dinner is now being served in the Country Club. Tonight, we feature a change from the usual fare of sauteed slugs and beetles. On special consignment, we have just received a shipment of delicious cockroach toast, and Jellyfish will be scorched and served as the zestful topping to complete the entre'. Please follow me to the dining room."

Re: US considering its own isotope solution article, concerning the shutdown of a nuclear reactor in Ontario. Several articles on the web indicate that within days of the Chalk River reactor shutting down, Eastern Canadian hospitals ran out of the radioisotopes required for several tests that are basic to diagnosis in several emergency situations. Nuclear Medicine tests are not so well-used in the US, but more well-known in Canada, and also a technology accessible to Third World countries, possibly because they cost less than alternative tests, yet yield excellent medical information.

It is interesting to me that this lower cost of nuclear medicine tests has to be re-evaluated if the cost of building a new reactor has to be factored in. If no new reactors are built (given the economic climate), then next time the Chalk River reactor has a problem, up to 80% of all the supply in some regions just evaporates, taking with it entire nuclear medicine departments, and leaving countless patients in the lurch. Talk about dislocation of BAU...

Then, in a sequel, as costs of medical care continue to go through the roof, we slowly lose access to CT and MRI, and are left without any of these tests. Hopefully the internet is still up so the young whipper-snapper residents can look up old-fashioned ways of coming to a diagnosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association has been running a series for several years called "The Rational Clinical Examination", reviewing which low-tech signs and symptoms can be relied upon to come to definitive conclusions. We'll need that knowledge in the years to come.

NKorea declares it conducted nuclear test

By JEAN H. LEE – 21 minutes ago

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea claimed it carried out a powerful underground nuclear test Monday — much larger than one conducted in 2006 — in a major provocation in the escalating international standoff over its rogue nuclear and missile programs.

Pyongyang announced the test, and Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons — comparable to the bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The regime also test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles later Monday from the same northeastern site where it launched a rocket last month, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed sources. That liftoff, widely believed to be a cover for a test of its long-range missile technology, drew censure from the U.N. Security Council.

No science just politics. The indirect land use lies:


Is the ghost just over me - or did the Drumbeat of May 25 disappear for everyone?

I just sent a note asking what happened.

Fine ! ... and strange, could it be Hugo ?