DrumBeat: May 27, 2009

John Michael Greer A guide for the perplexed

...Schumacher stressed the central role of energy among primary goods. He argued that energy cannot be treated as one commodity among many; rather, it is the gateway resource that allows all other resources to be accessed. Given enough energy, shortages of any other resource can be made good one way or another; if energy runs short, though, abundant supplies of other resources won’t make up the difference, because energy is needed to bring those resources into the realm of secondary goods and make them available for human needs. Thus the amount of energy available per person puts an upper limit on the level of economic development possible in a society, though other forms of development – social, intellectual, spiritual – can still be pursued in a setting where hard limits on energy restrict economic life.

Third, Schumacher stressed the importance of a variable left out of most economic analyses – the cost per worker of establishing and maintaining a workplace. Only the abundant capital, ample energy supplies, and established infrastructure of the world’s industrial nations, he argued, made it functional for businesses in those nations to concentrate on replacing human labor with technology. In the nonindustrial world, where the most urgent economic task was not the production of specialty goods for global markets but the provision of paid employment and basic necessities to the local population, attempts at industrialization far more often than not proved to be costly mistakes.

Exxon Mobil Says Transition From Oil Is Century Away

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest refiner, said the transition away from oil-derived fuels is probably 100 years away.

Petroleum-based fuels including gasoline and diesel, as well as hydrocarbons such as coal and natural gas, will remain the dominant sources of energy for factories, offices, homes and cars for decades because there are no viable alternatives, Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told reporters today after Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholders meeting in Dallas.

EIA global outlook sees more use of unconventional fuel sources

Unconventional sources including biofuels could provide nearly half of the growth in global liquid fuel supplies during 2006-30, the US Energy Information Administration said on May 27 in its latest International Energy Outlook.

The forecast's base reference case, which does not assume any changes from current policies, said worldwide demand for liquids and other forms of petroleum could rise from 85 million b/d in 2006 to 91 million b/d in 2015 and to 107 million b/d in 2030.

Ed Milliband Visits the Transition Network Conference as a ‘Keynote Listener’

Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, visited the Transition Network conference on Friday afternoon as a ‘Keynote Listener’, which all went very well. He was meant to only stay for half an hour, but ended up stayed nearly an hour and a half.

China mulls more private role in oil, etc

China says it may encourage private investment in state-controlled industries such as railways, oil and power generation in an effort to boost the efficiency of the world's third-largest economy.

Energy: The Achilles Heel of the Resource Pyramid

When economists say that we have far larger mineral resources today than ever before, they are usually referring to a model known as the resource pyramid. What they often fail to mention is that cheap, abundant energy is the key input into this model and that without it much of our presumed abundance would vanish.

'Offshoots of recovery' for oil seen

VIENNA (Reuters) -- The global economy has strengthened enough to cope with oil at $75-$80 a barrel and that level will be hit soon as fuel demand picks up, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Wednesday.

Oil has already climbed from a low of $32.40 last December to six-month highs well above $60 a barrel this week.

"The price rise is a function of optimism better things are coming in the future," Naimi told reporters in Vienna.

"We see offshoots of recovery," he added. "There are a lot of positives in what I say because I am seeing a recovery."

Pemex Asks Finance Ministry for Extra $1.5 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, asked the Finance Ministry for an extra 20 billion pesos ($1.5 billion) in funding because of the peso’s slump.

The currency’s decline led to a “distortion” in Pemex’s budget, Carlos Morales, Pemex’s director for exploration and production, said today in Mexico City. The company may finalize an agreement with the government within days, he said.

UAE upstream oil and gas investment to hit $55bn

The UAE has accounted for the highest increase in upstream oil and gas investments in the Middle East, raising expenditure by 30 per cent from Dh154 billion ($41.9 billion) to Dh202 billion ($55 billion) in 2009, said a recent report.

GM moves step closer to bankruptcy

Company announces that few bondholders were interested in a plan to swap debt for stock. New ownership stakes take shape: U.S. to get nearly 70%.

Michigan's Hybrid Economy: Automakers Push a Gas Tax

"It was strange because they were so hot; for a while there couldn't give a big car away and everybody's rushing to the small cars and then just as quickly about when the price of gas came down again, we saw a complete reversal. Like a light switch that's how fast it cut off."

It's been like that all over the country. Dealers who last year had waiting lists for hybrids and small cars suddenly have a lot of extra inventory. Sales of hybrids are way down from last April, mostly because gas costs about half what it did last year.

Auto Tech: Tesla Motors

Tesla is the only company that builds highway-capable electric cars, and only electric cars. Based in California’s Silicon Valley, they are building the Tesla Roadster, which is currently on sale in the United States and will be available in Canada in the fall of 2009. The Tesla Roadster price starts at $140,000, which may seem high, but for a limited production supercar those prices are often near the bottom of the price range.

Slash energy costs by 30%

This time of year, you may find yourself having an internal debate at the thermostat: stay cool or save money? If you're tired of sweating high summer cooling costs - and winter heat bills besides - these techie tools can help. Used in concert, they may save you 30% annually on energy bills, says Zeke Hausfather of Climate Culture, an online community focusing on energy consumption. And that, as you'll see below, adds up to cool cash.

US steelworkers form unlikely alliance as renewables reinvigorate rustbelt

It may seem like a stretch to call Jack Bernat, who spends his off-duty hours collecting and lovingly restoring muscle cars of the 1980s, an environmentalist.

But then trace back a working life spent chasing after the vanishing jobs in Pennsylvania's steel industry. In his 35 years in the workforce, Bernat endured lay-offs and shut-downs, scrambled for part-time and temporary work, and took jobs far from home.

Now the former steelworker is hoping he has at last found a job with a future, putting the finishing touches to the giant fibreglass blades for wind turbines produced by the Spanish firm, Gamesa.

Racing the clock: Rapid climate change forces scientists to evaluate extreme conservation strategies

Scientists are, for the first time, objectively evaluating ways to help species adapt to rapid climate change and other environmental threats via strategies that were considered too radical for serious consideration as recently as five or 10 years ago. Among these radical strategies currently being considered is so-called "managed relocation." Managed relocation, which is also known as "assisted migration," involves manually moving species into more accommodating habitats where they are not currently found.

...So why is managed relocation, a once-taboo and potentially harmful strategy, now being seriously considered? "Because," says Hellmann, "it is becomingly overwhelmingly evident that climate change is a reality; and it is fast and large. Consequences will arise within decades, not centuries." So action seems much more important now than it did even five or 10 years ago when atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases were lower. Now, we are committed to greater degrees of climate change."

Why Obama Should Take Notes from Cuba on a Green Energy Revolution

Cuba has successfully greened its energy sector over the last few years, and is now exporting its energy revolution.

CNBC To Broadcast Live Special "CNBC REPORTS: BREAKING THE OIL ADDICTION": Tonight, Wednesday, May 27th From 8PM-9PM ET

CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, will broadcast a live special, "CNBC Reports: Breaking the Oil Addiction," reported by CNBC's Melissa Francis, Sharon Epperson, Phil LeBeau, Jane Wells and NBC's Janet Shamlian tonight, Wednesday, May 27th at 8PM ET.

CNBC anchors, reporters and experts will give viewers the latest developments on the OPEC meeting, what rising/falling oil prices mean for the future of alternative and traditional energies and the companies that produce them, new energy vs. old energy, and the impact on Detroit's automaking industry.

CNBC will have reporters around the globe to cover this topic from all angles.

Live discussion: Jeff Rubin on peak oil and the economy

Join us live on Thursday, May 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. ET as former CIBC chief economist Jeff Rubin takes your questions on oil and the economy.

...Join the discussion live on Thursday, or leave your questions for Jeff below and the Your Voice team will make sure they get answered.

Skyrocketing oil prices could bring jobs home

Canadians could be paying $2 for a litre of gasoline after oil rises as high as US$200 a barrel during the next economic cycle, says a Canadian author.

Former CIBC chief economist Jeff Rubin argues in his book, "Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization," that while oil has been cheaper during the current recession, it's not going to be that way for long.

Oil Demand

On May 20th 2009, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress held a sparsely-attended hearing on the implications of rising world oil demand for the U.S. economy. JEC chair Representative Carolyn Maloney (D) delivered an opening statement, James D Hamilton, economics professor at UCSD and founder of Econbrowser spoke, followed by Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize and Co-Founder and Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The initial statements weren't that interesting. Hamilton cautioned that demand could well drive up prices again, while Yergin advised that our strategic future lies with Canada's "oil sands." But they seemed to agree on a lot more than they did before the economy tanked.

Incoming Shell CEO cuts thousands of jobs

AMSTERDAM - Royal Dutch Shell PLC on Wednesday unveiled a major overhaul of its businesses and management that will affect thousands of jobs, part of a shake up ordered by the incoming chief executive.

Saras Workers Hold Strike to Protest Fatal Accident

(Bloomberg) -- Saras SpA workers at the Sarroch refinery in Sardinia began an eight-hour strike, following the death of three workers yesterday in an accident.

About 3,000 workers walked out at 6 a.m. local time, a spokesman for the FILCEM-CGIL union said today in Rome by telephone. The spokesman declined to be identified by name.

Indonesia to double palm oil production by 2020

JAKARTA - Indonesia aims to more than double its crude palm oil output to 40 million tonnes by 2020 through increased yields and more plantations, officials said Wednesday.

Average oil palm plantation yields would increase from 3.5 tonnes to 4.5 tonnes a hectare while land under plantation would expand from 7.9 million hectares (19.5 million acres) to about 10 million, they said.

Research suggests we are genetically programmed to care about climate change

Dr Sozou said: 'This analysis shows that the social discount rate is generally lower than the private discount rate. An individual's valuation of a future benefit to herself is governed by the probability that she will still be alive in future. But she may value future benefits to her community over a timescale considerably longer than her own lifespan.

'Evolution is driven by competition. Caring about the future of your community makes evolutionary sense to the extent that future members of your community are likely to be your relatives.'

US: Carbon pollution to grow by 40 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. government forecast says that without mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere will increase by nearly 40 percent by 2030.

Canada - Greenhouse-gas estimates off by half: commissioner

OTTAWA — Canada’s environment commissioner says the Conservative government’s estimated cuts to greenhouse gases are off by at least half.

A large portion of the government’s anticipated cuts to greenhouse gases won’t actually occur, Scott Vaughan told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

France wants regulated oil prices: Sarkozy

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - France wants oil producers and consumers to agree to price regulation in an effort to safeguard buyers from market volatility and protect energy investments, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday.

During an official visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Sarkozy said France and the UAE might soon make a joint initiative on the issue.

"Why don't producer countries and consumers agree on general price guidelines to give to the market ... a price range which would guarantee investments (in producer countries) over the long term but which would not overwhelm consumer economies," he said in a speech.

China on borrowed time over fuel price rise

BEIJING (Reuters) - China must raise gasoline and diesel prices within days or risk more political lobbying and speculative fuel hoarding that would further erode the credibility of a landmark pricing reform launched just months ago.

The government faces a dilemma: raise fuel prices, rewarding speculators at the cost of hard-pressed farmers and industries; or leave them unchanged, betraying its pledge to make fuel prices more transparent and let them fluctuate more freely.

Only a sharp fall in crude oil prices -- hovering near six-month highs at around $60 a barrel -- would relieve pressure for a price change and get officials off the hook.

Venezuela's economy reels as oil income is cut in half

CARACAS, Venezuela — Prices for home appliances have skyrocketed, pharmacies are reporting shortages of drugs and General Motors is planning to stop car production here next month, as measures by the Venezuelan government to conserve dollars ripple through the weakening economy.

"Today, there's no milk, no rice, no beans, no chicken, no meat, no butter and no cooking oil," Francisco Quintero said as he shopped at a government store that sells subsidized staples for the poor.

Cuba sounds summer energy alarm, plans blackouts

HAVANA (AP) — Cubans are in for an especially hot summer under an energy saving plan that could shut off air conditioners at work and require Saturday-morning blackouts at home, according to an unpublished government directive obtained by The Associated Press.

The plan, signed by new Economics Minister Marino Murillo and circulating Tuesday among government offices and state companies, also calls for large-scale vacations for government workers but doesn't say if they will be paid. The measures are necessary, it says, to conserve petroleum used to generate electricity during the Caribbean nation's sweltering summer months.

Oil Rises Above $63 on Saudi Comments, Gasoline Supply Forecast

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose to a six-month high above $63 a barrel after the Saudi minister said fuel demand has started to recover.

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters in Vienna for this week’s OPEC meeting that there are signs of increasing demand in Asia. In the U.S., a report tomorrow is forecast to show gasoline supplies fell a fifth week amid growing optimism the worst of the recession is over.

Oil price rise warnings gather pace: IMF, Saudi Arabia, IEA join in

The warnings are not new, but they’re getting louder. Ever since oil prices began their plummet from July’s peak, concerns about investment in ever more difficult oil sources have been growing.

Monetary folly oils oil gains

Oil prices are again up and running. Are they heading up to the July 2008 level of US$147 per barrel, or even higher? Will higher oil prices again squash world economic growth?

Merrill: Oil prices could pose risk to economic recovery

However, a very fast increase in oil prices in the coming months could soon put the embryonic economic recovery at risk. In turn, an excessive rally in oil could put an end to the raging bull market in risky assets. Is there a near-term inflexion point in oil prices? Our economists believe that a jump in oil prices to the $70-80/bbl range could start to pose some meaningful risks to economic growth in OECD countries. Meanwhile, our economists see the risks to growth in the $90-100/bbl range for EMs.

Chinese hoarders 'are causing oil price boom'

THE big rally in the oil price in recent weeks is down to Chinese stockpiling, a leading energy industry analyst has claimed.

Oil industry experts Bernstein Research say they have been spying on the world's third-largest economy and have concluded China is actively hoarding supplies.

Looming oil shock means globalization's end: author

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Triple-digit oil prices are once again around the corner and will sound the death knell for globalization, an audacious but sometimes prescient Canadian economist predicts in a new book.

Jeff Rubin, who until two months ago was the chief economist and strategist at investment bank CIBC World Markets, argues that the days of cheap oil are over, making the global economy unsustainable and turning back the clock on the way we live.

Transneft to start work on new Baltic oil pipeline

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia plans next month to start construction of an oil link to the Baltic Sea, its oil pipeline monopoly said, launching a project that will allow Moscow to bypass Belarus in exporting 1 million barrels daily.

Gazprom eyes role in Iran-Pakistan pipeline

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is keen to participate in a pipeline to carry Iranian gas to Pakistan, the Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday, citing company and government officials.

"We are ready to join the project as soon as we receive an offer," Russia's deputy energy minister Anatoly Yankovsky told the daily.

Bishop to Queen 4: Recapturing Iran on the Grand Chessboard

One of the potentially more daring and unique foreign policy mandates of the Obama Administration involves a pivotal shift in U.S./Iran relations (or lack thereof). The core reasons for said shift are not limited to America's political interests in the Middle East. More so, they entail intricate long-term geostrategic considerations vis-à-vis Central and South Asian energy politics. The biggest open secret in international affairs involves the race for a wider determination of who will prevail in the "New Great Game" for Eurasian energy resources, pipeline access routes and the necessary alliances for solidifying them.* Considering rising global energy stakes, Iran's oil and gas positioning, as well as how 30 plus years of US sanctions and frozen relations have garnered little for Washington, it is clear that the US needs Iran more than the other way around. In essence, for the US and its closest allies, Iran increasingly appears to be the "queen piece" on the global energy chessboard.

Names of three ’08 hurricanes retired; new names selected

In preparation for the 2009 hurricane season, the WMO is ready with its list of names for Atlantic storms this year.

Toyota Aims to Sell 25,000 Lexus Hybrids a Year to Stem Slump

(Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus unit, struggling with the worst slump of its 20-year history, aims to sell 25,000 new luxury hybrid Lexus sedans a year in hopes the fuel-efficient model can revive demand for the brand.

The HS250h, the seventh gasoline-electric auto in Toyota’s U.S. lineup, should get 35 miles (56 kilometers) per gallon of gasoline in combined city and highway driving when it goes on sale in late August, Greg Thome, a Lexus spokesman, said yesterday. Toyota hasn’t announced pricing yet.

Chrysler submits $448 million electric car plan

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC said on Tuesday it submitted proposals totaling $448 million to the U.S. Department of Energy to research and develop electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models.

Hydrogen Highway Promoted in San Diego

A road trip to show the viability of hydrogen fuel cell cars took off from Chula Vista this morning. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce says the nine-day tour to Canada is intended to promote zero-emission vehicles.

GE eyes $1.5 billion in clean-tech research by 2010

BOSTON (Reuters) - General Electric Co aims to boost its investment in clean-tech research and development to $1.5 billion a year by 2010, the largest U.S. conglomerate said on Wednesday in its annual "Ecomagination" report.

The maker of products ranging from electricity-producing wind turbines to energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lights, wants to grow green-business revenues to what it called a "stretch" target of $25 billion next year, up from $17 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2004.

Concentrated solar power could generate 'quarter of world's energy'

Solar power stations that concentrate sunlight could generate up to one-quarter of the world's electricity needs by 2050, according to a study by environmental and solar industry groups. The technology, best suited to the desert regions of the world, could also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and save millions of tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Neste Oil Builds Europe’s Largest Renewable Diesel Plant in the Netherlands

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands -- Neste Oil today laid the foundation stone for its renewable diesel plant in the Port of Rotterdam. Upon completion, the plant will be the largest renewable diesel plant in Europe with an annual production capacity of 800,000 metric tonnes. The investment cost of the plant is estimated to be €670 million, and it will create over 100 jobs.

Watermelons Tapped For Ethanol

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies in Lane, Okla., have shown that simple sugars in watermelon juice can be made into ethanol. In 2007, growers harvested four billion pounds of watermelon for fresh and cut-fruit markets. Around 800 million pounds--or 20 percent of the total--were left in fields because of external blemishes or deformities.

Indonesia biofuel industry seeks higher subsidies

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian biofuel producers want authorities to allocate higher subsidies next year, in line with a surge in crude oil prices, the chairman of the industry association said on Wednesday.

Indonesia's palm-based biodiesel firms, which have mostly stopped operations, have said they are awaiting for a new price formula and government subsidies in order to survive after being hit by rebounding palm oil prices.

'Bottletop' technology could slash aviation emissions by a fifth

A team of British researchers reckon they have hit on a way of cutting airline fuel bills by up to a fifth by harnessing the same principle that applies when you blow across the top of a bottle to make a sound.

Speaking to BusinessGreen.com, Dr Duncan Lockerby, from the University of Warwick, who is leading the project, explained that placing tens or even hundreds of thousands of tiny holes in the surface of a plane's wing should dramatically reduce mid-flight drag, cutting fuel bills and carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent in the process.

Dear Grads, Help Save Us!: Armed with an Arts degree, you can be a hero

Heavily subsidized roads, low taxes on fuel and lax energy-efficiency standards drove decades of economic growth in Canada and the United States. But those same decisions look stupidly short-sighted when you factor in the climate change impact, the health and social costs of people spending dozens of hours each week alone in their cars, and the absurd lack of fit between our sprawling cities and the reduced ecological footprints now required by both climate change and peak oil.

Arts graduates have the tools to do things differently. We teach you about history, sociology, philosophy, psychology, literature and so much more because human experience—the collective memory of generations—provides a depth and wealth of knowledge and insight that guards against blinkered and short-term thinking.

Thanks to people like you, even the worst crises can be overcome.

Survivalism In The Suburbs

When considering physical preparation I think the best insurance is a three month supply of food and a 72 hour kit.

The kit should be extremely portable such as a backpack which may be quickly taken in the automobile should there be a need to evacuate. The food storage is a great hedge against inflation, insurance that you can eat which is not subject to counter-party risk, protection against potential supply chain disruptions such as the recent swine flu advertising campaign, and relatively cheap. Food storage is a form of savings and procuring a three month supply of food may cost only a few hundred FRN$s.

Share your backyard

The CEED Centre is now a partner in the Sharing Backyards website linking landless people with those who have spare planting space.

“So many people have backyards or other planting space that goes unused” said Maria Raynolds, president of the society. “We want to match up the green thumb people in apartments with those that have a few square feet in their backyards that can be used to grow food.”

Food fighters: Taking control of our food supply, from the kitchen garden to the community

Detroiter Holly White says what started her gardening was stark staring fear. After getting rattled by theories about "peak oil" — with its scenarios of a future where fuel prices soar so out of control that people can't afford to eat — she wanted to find a way to make a change.

"I got sort of freaked out," she says, now relaxing in the comfortable condo apartment she shares with her husband in a smartly refurbished old building near Cass and Canfield. "After freaking out, I figured the easiest thing to do was to take control over the food I was eating — to concentrate on food to ease my mind.

"But then I tasted my first fresh tomato and the flavor blew me away."

Where's the Beef?: Ghent Goes Vegetarian

The Belgian city of Ghent which collectively decided to try vegetarianism for one week.

Recession May Create CO2-Credit Oversupply, Bank Says

(Bloomberg) -- The global recession may lead to an oversupply of greenhouse-gas credits through 2012, the World Bank said in a report that outlines potential threats to carbon investments made by RWE AG and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Help for poor countries at Paris climate talks

PARIS – The world's biggest polluters made progress on a global deal to finance efforts to fight global warming and help poor countries cope with it, the French hosts of climate talks said Tuesday.

World Health Organization Says Health Sector Can Lead the Fight Against Climate Change

The health sector can play a leadership role in reducing the magnitude and consequences of global warming by reducing its climate footprint. These efforts, some of which are already underway, can greatly reduce the serious health threats posed by global warming and set an example for other sectors. That is the message of a discussion paper just issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Care Without Harm.

China Believes Climate Risk Tops Credit Crisis, Hu Aide Says

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, views global warming as more serious than the world financial crisis, President Hu Jintao’s special representative on climate change wrote in an editorial.

Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

US wants to paint the world white to save energy

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday the Obama administration wanted to paint roofs an energy-reflecting white, as he took part in a climate change symposium in London.
Making roads and roofs a paler colour could have the equivalent effect of taking every car in the world off the road for 11 years, Chu said.

Personal experience:
We replaced our home's dark asphalt shingle roof with a bright white metal roof a few years ago. Although we have central air conditioning, an additional window unit used to be needed to keep the upstairs bedrooms livable. Since switching to a white roof we have not even bothered installing the additional window unit. Our white roof WORKS GREAT for keeping the house cooler here in MO !

And the metal roof will probably outlive the house...

And it is a great start to a rainwater harvesting system...

And it is kind of fun to watch the accumulated snow avalanche off in the springtime :-)

Well that solves global warming and recession is over too so let's all go out and party!

Survey: Most economists see recession end in '09

US recession to end in second half:
By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer Jeannine Aversa, Ap Economics Writer – Wed May 27, 12:12 am ET

WASHINGTON – More than 90 percent of economists predict the recession will end this year, although the recovery is likely to be bumpy.

That assessment came from leading forecasters in a survey by the National Association for Business Economics to be released Wednesday. It is generally in line with the outlook from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues.

About 74 percent of the forecasters expect the recession — which started in December 2007 and is the longest since World War II — to end in the third quarter. Another 19 percent predict the turning point will come in the final three months of this year, and the remaining 7 percent believe the recession will end in the first quarter of 2010.

Man, does anyone know where I can get some of those happy pills those folks are taking?!

The CNBC hairdos admitted that this "optimistic" prediction is actually more pessimistic than the last survey. So maybe reality is slowly starting to sink in.

this "optimistic" prediction is actually more pessimistic than the last survey.

What the heck did the last survey show? Were they expecting Manna from heaven or something?!

The guy with a lack of a hairdo (sorry - can't remember his name - he's got the "Monkey Butt" baldness issue) was just reporting on Exxon-Mobil.

He actually reported that "Exxon-Mobil says lots of spare capacity will offset _____ and depletion" (Didn't hear what other words came before "Depletion". Could have been a slip of the tongue but I can't help but cringe at hearing that.

I don't think they get it.



“Between 2008 and 2015, to offset normal field declines and depletion, ExxonMobil expects to add approximately 1.5 million oil-equivalent barrels per day of new capacity through new projects -- equivalent to almost 40 percent of current production. In all, ExxonMobil's industry-leading portfolio of more than 100 projects is expected to support development of more than 24 billion oil-equivalent barrels of energy.”

Yes, but Tillerson is not telling the whole truth. As David Strahan points out in The Last Oil Shock, the overwhelming majority of Exxon's reserve additions come from natural gas, not oil, and that's why they make sure to always talk in "oil-equivalent" barrels. If they distinguished between oil and gas, people would see that their oil reserves are not nearly being replaced.

From 2002-2007, I believe you will find that over 90% of their reserve replacement came from Quatar North Field LNG trains. In 2008, they added a billion barrels for Imperial Oil Oilsands project(s).

Their reserve mix is becoming less and less profitable.


"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

It reminds me of a grade school science experiment I once did. 100w incandescent bulb with a sheet of black paper on one side of it, and equidistant from the bulb a white sheet of paper. Each had an equal blob of candle wax on it, and the amount of time it took for each blob of wax to melt was measured.

The wax on the white paper never melted.

Ah, the things one can learn in grade school, yet when people become engineers they forget such things. (My roof/walls are silver.)

What is the effect (if any) of your white roof on winter heating needs? Do white roofs make sense (in an overall sort of reasoning) in heating-dominant climates? In areas with frequent cloudy weather? Do light gray tiles make a difference? Should we be thinking of different colors on the south-facing side of the roof vs. the north-facing? Do solar panels help insulate the roof against overheating from the sun in summer? Do they prevent passive warming in winter?

Good points about the rainwater harvesting and durability. Any tips on embedded energy of metal roofs vs. asphalt shingles? Wood shingles? Tiles?

Can you tell I have a south-facing roof I need to replace in the near future? Oh and also a south-facing driveway - would love an alternative to concrete the HOA can live with.

Hi Paranoid,

I don't have a good handle on this, but a couple thoughts come to mind:

1) the amount of solar insolation during the winter months -- obviously, this will vary by location and local weather patterns (here, our winter days are relatively short and, regrettably, sunless so any potential solar benefit would be presumably rather modest);

2) the amount of snow accumulation on your roof, if any, and duration of coverage;

3) shading by tree cover, deciduous in particular; and,

4) the angle of the sun during the summer and winter months in relation to your roof

Lastly, in our part of the world, we try to keep our roofs "cool" during the winter months so as to prevent ice damage.


Personally I have not noticed an increase in winter heating needs since I switched to a white metal roof on my home.

Prior to changing the roof I had done extensive work insulating the upstairs bedrooms - they are the basic attic conversion type (chest high knee walls then sloped walls upto a narrow horizontal ceiling). So the heat bill was not big enough to notice an unusual change. I did not do any sort of purposeful study though.

There have been some reports that having a white roof does result in higher heating bills, but they all seem to relate to large flat industrial/commercial roofs. You could check out this article:

Below is a comment I made to that article. The author has not responded. I may be wrong, but it would be good to know...

Please expand on the mechanism of how, and how much of, the heat from a dark roof in the Fall/Winter/Spring actually transfers into the building? My understanding was that the heat captured in a dark roof coating has only two choices of where to go: either downward through the roof insulation to the relatively warm space below OR upward into cooler sky. Seems that because of the higher delta T, and the opportunity for convection, that heat gathered on the dark roof is going to head for the sky in cooler weather...

Another issue that has been brought up is snow cover in really cold climates. If your roof is always snow covered in the winter then there is no solar gain anyways, and using white at least makes for more comfortable summers.

Your question on embedded energy is good. Points in favor of metal roofing are: very long life, recyclability of the steel, and summer energy savings. I don't think that any shingles have any of those advantages.

We are very happy with our white metal roof. If I had to move I would seriously consider putting one on again.

If you are in a colder climate, you'll have a well-insulated attic/roof, so you are really not getting any heatgain THROUGH your rooftop, or you'd better not be.

That said, you SHOULD be using that whole roof to pipe in whatever solar heat and power you can derive from it. The first homebuilt Hot Air heater I put up this winter would blow 120degree air into our bedroom for about 5 hours a day, with the fan driven by a small pv panel. I hope to add a few more ASAP. But in the summer, (until I can rig the panel outputs into a Closet that will become our new ClothesDryer..) this Glass and BlackFelt box has two White Vinyl doors that shade the box from overheating.. and of course the box shades the roof to a small degree, taking that many more BTU's out of the home heat that we have to deal with.

Like the metal roof, the glass of my panels is a high energy product, but it's also very durable, and it's recyclable.. "so I've got that going for me.." as Bill Murray so wisely expressed in Caddyshack.

Here in Saskatchewan, I don't think having a white roof will have any impact on heating. Every house has a white roof in winter, as once it snows here, it tends to stay until spring.

Here in Saskatchewan, I don't think having a white roof will have any impact on heating. Every house has a white roof in winter, as once it snows here, it tends to stay until spring.

And if the temperature is well below freezing, you get extra insulation from the snow. I used to want to have snow on the roof when I lived in a cold climate! A dark roof, probably contributes to melting/losing that snow cover, as
once you get a bare spot is can expand by melting at the edges.

Its funny but Steven Chu's argument that painting the roofs white is a solution is the exact sort of thinking that I argue will certainly lead us to collapse.

Given the logic process that results in this sort of result I think this is all I need to know to write of Obama's administration.

This may sound flippant but once you know the logic process going on you really don't need more information.

Not only is Steven Chu not going to figure it out he will never figure out why he can't figure it out. This inability to even understand alternative logic flows is the Achilles heel of our civilization. No doubt in my mind that he simply cannot understand the problem. But It should not bother him he has plenty of smart people around that have the same problem and if everyone is sick no one is sick.

I do not believe that Dr Chu's advocacy for painting residential, business, and commercial roofs white to lessen isolation load to lessen air conditioning loads was presented as a be-all, end-all solution to AGW as you mis-characterize it.

It is simply one simple, yet effective suggestion to save energy use. There is no unobtanium, no warp drive required. People can't seem to wrap their noggins around simple and effective things like this, and like washing ones hands frequently and covering coughs and staying home from school and work if one might have the flu...people seem ingrqained to believe that only magic bullets can help them.

By the way, I have talked to several home owners in Albuquerque who swear by their blindingly white elastomeric roofs...significantly cuts solar heating of the house and lasts a lot longer at repelling water and preventing roof leaks, which is the bane of adobe/flat-roofed architecture. I've also talked to some folks with metal roofs, and from a durability aspect, these are the cat's meow...50 years +! A white metal roof would be the bee's knees.

So, in sum, this idea is not some half-baked stunt, it is a real, effective, proven, affordable idea. Of course, it is only affordable if one hasn't bought too much house and doesn't have any money left over for upkeep and improvements, and/or if one lost his/her job, or if one chooses to spend $10K for the latest huge LCD TVs, 7.1 surround sound, etc.

Try to give some thought to some of these ideas before sounding the 'Doomer Alert' for the umpteenth time. Not as viscerally fun as repeating 'TPTB don't get it, we are screwed' at every turn though.

If the roof were to be covered in solar panels, then there would be a few cm air gap, due to the mounting frames -- perhaps an even better result as there is no direct heating, and the airflow could vent most of the energy before it is radiated through to the roof surface, then through to inside the house.

Its a little bit more expensive from the gov's point of view -- solar panels vs new metal sheeting, but then again it would re-enforce the power grid, get the country well on the road to certain green energy generation targets, and make individuals feel they were doing something tangible for the climate.

Thanks all for the responses. In our case I think solar panels would be the best choice, even though we plan to move, because they increase the value of the house by about the cost of the panels after rebates. I am guessing (as we use no A/C at present, though Boulder summer temps reach into the 90s for days at a time) that given a white roof, or solar panels, that indoor temps may well stay below 80, making this house almost zero-energy for 6 months out of the year. It was built in 1977, when energy considerations in Boulder were popular.

I am guessing that memmel's argument is that talking about roof color amounts to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I have not written off the Obama administration just yet though. I think we do need roofs, and to consider the carbon impact of their color is a symptom of willingness to usher in a new mindset - I could see the administration raising the bar fairly quickly from there. Soon it could become impossible to purchase an energy inefficient appliance, or prohibitive to have more than 300 sq. ft. per person in your house...

white metal roof with air flow channels ...


I've been too busy outside to post this for the last few days, but the suburban 72 hour kit up top got me going. A week or so ago, survivalblog.com had a link to an excellent on-line book LDS Preparedness Manual. http://www.green-trust.org/freebooks/Preparedness.pdf

This is a 221 page compilation of articles related to preparedness. It contains tons of information and lists including a "Deluxe '96' Hour Kit."

I highly recommend it to all. I know one of the authors (Alan T. Hagan) of several food section articles from another forum and his information is always right on.

Yes, there is some LDS theology but it does not detract from the information.


Yes, there is some LDS LSD theology but it does not detract from the information.

I took a brief look and saw just one reference to packing your bible. I guess you could always use the pages for starting fires, though I personally prefer solar ovens. Otherwise the information is pretty comprehensive. I live in South Florida and most people here are familiar with hurricane preparedness which is much the same concept.

So pack your book rather than theirs.

The right book can be a real asset beyond it's caloric content.

""and most people here are familiar with hurricane preparedness which is much the same concept.""

And we all know how many actually prep here in Sunny Florida for the Big H, now don't we.....

Very few.

What are you talking about? The minute after they announce an impending hurricane all the beer disappears from the stores. Not to mention every last roll of duct tape within a 500 mile radius.

Wow that is one heck of a doc.
Thanks for posting.

I personally guarantee painting our urban jungle white will offset little more than 0.5% of carbon emissions. It's complete greenwash twaddle!

If people think they can go on living the same way as before just by painting their roofs and streets white they need to take a big dose of reality tablet!

We need to:

1) consume less
2) have less children
3) drive less
4) work and recreate close to home
5) go nuclear
6) go renewable

Then after this is all implemented maybe paint out stuff white


Greg in MO did point out individual benefits that are worthwhile if you'll ask me. I agree with your list (except for the nuclear; imo that's where you show you want to live the same way as before; not to blame you for it, though) and it will probably not even help off-setting ACC. It's too late

Yes I did go off on one there. Sorry. Jon Snow (UK channel 4 presenter) was on TV interviewing some climate change dude and they just do not get it. They all want or think there are solutions out there that mean we can carry on going.

My point is there are fractional changes we can make and there are sea changes. The media seems to be focusing on the fractional bits that will have little or no effect whilst putting their head in the sand about the big stuff!


Thanks for responding, Marco.

I'm afraid that for the majority, as outlined here repeatedly, implementing sea changes will happen when forced only. No one knows how bad this ACC is/will be, but most here must have noticed that all past predictions are being overtaken by real world events at lightning speed. I say we can expect all the worst case scenario's play out in full, and then some. And some more.

Well now, sealevel change is a totally different matter....

sea changes.

When the sea changes you advocate are themselves a fantasy, I wonder who you are meaning to criticize.

$500 Billion = 50 - 100 nukes. <--- Not even enough for the US and decades away.


$500 Billion = we can get every home in the US at or close to energy efficient, and some energy neutral, for huge savings in energy, finances and carbon. And do it in a few years. And stimulate the economy on a very broad basis.

Not to be repetitive, but: http://aperfectstormcometh.blogspot.com/2008/03/build-out-grid-vs-househ...

You do the math.


They are hardly a fantasy if I can achieve 4 out of six of them and on my way to 5! Fully agree with the rest.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea to build out more nukes at the cusp of Energy Descent. We're going to have enough trouble decommissioning the current ones safely.

Introduce a meaningful carbon tax. Then this will sort itself out - people and companies will invest in the meaningful watts and negawatts, with the low hanging fruit taken first. Today, nuclear expansion is the only rational alternative to fossils in the "watts" category, so I expect that to be built.

Introduce a meaningful carbon tax. Then this will sort itself out

Hogwash. The Invisible Hand is a fallacy. The tragedy of the commons is reality. You are watching the proof; you are living it. This is the problem with "beliefs": it's very hard to change them regardless of the evidence.

The very issue we are discussing is the perfect example. The actions of the Global Climate (Killing) Coalition, the G. C. Marshall Institute, ExxonMobile, Bush and Cheney, et al., even when the knew the truth, are all the proof you will ever need. Power and money beget power and money, not concern for The Commons. By and large, the wealthy do what is best for the wealthy. Period.

nuclear expansion is the only rational alternative

Upwards of 10,000 plants worldwide, 400+ (minimum) in the US alone? Fast enough to be carbon neutral by 2050? Please. This is fantasy. It is no more rational than wishing our problems away.

I'm curious. Since your statements utterly ignore the evidence before you, just how long do you think we have to mitigate ACC? And why do you think it is better to spend 2-5 trillion for 400 nukes for the US instead of .5 trillion to retrofit every home for efficiency and/or energy production? One stimulates a limited sector of the economy, the other broadly stimulates the economy.

There is/are possible rational choices, but Nuke BAU is not now, and never will be, it. At least, not as a crisis solution. Very long term? Who knows. But right here, right now? Dreams of blue turtles.


Hogwash. The Invisible Hand is a fallacy. The tragedy of the commons is reality.

As usual, you are not really making sense. The invisible hand works as advertised. The tragedy of the commons, the lack of ownership, can be fixed either by introducing ownership, or by precisely what I suggested - a tax that internalizes external costs. Then the invisible hand works according to the new cost parameters and the economy adjusts.

By and large, the wealthy do what is best for the wealthy. Period.

What does this have to do with what I wrote?

Upwards of 10,000 plants worldwide, 400+ (minimum) in the US alone? Fast enough to be carbon neutral by 2050? Please. This is fantasy. It is no more rational than wishing our problems away.

400+ in the US by 2050 is a piece of cake, actually. Introduce a high enough carbon tax, and it will be done (if your negawatts doesn't eliminate the need). It might not be politically realistic, but very, very doable in a technical/economic perspective.

And why do you think it is better to spend 2-5 trillion for 400 nukes for the US instead of .5 trillion to retrofit every home for efficiency and/or energy production?

I don't really have an opinion. As I said, introduce a carbon tax and let this sort itself out.

I personally guarantee painting our urban jungle white will offset little more than 0.5% of carbon emissions. It's complete greenwash twaddle!

You do mean "Whitewash", right? :-)
Actually while I doubt it will solve climate change it can certainly ameliorate air conditioning costs of certain individual buildings.
I would like to see some data on how it compares with green roofs, a la hanging gardens of Babylon...

On the other hand if say the Feds gave tax write offs for painting roofs white it would be an immediate shovel paint brush ready project that could employ a lot of low skilled and laid off construction workers.

On the other hand if say the Feds gave tax write offs for painting roofs white it would be an immediate shovel paint brush ready project that could employ a lot of low skilled and laid off construction workers.

I can see foreign investors being completely inspired to buy vast amounts of T-Bills by the US plan to hire the reserve army of the unemployed to paint the place white.

I can see foreign investors being completely inspired to buy vast amounts of T-Bills...

white·washed, white·wash·ing, white·wash·es

Definition: To conceal or gloss over (wrongdoing, for example).

Maybe a little laundering might help, though I gather you don't think it would wash? ;-)

I personally guarantee painting our urban jungle white will offset little more than 0.5% of carbon emissions. It's complete greenwash twaddle!

The total effect on planetary albedo/temperature will be small, but the decreased powerdemand for cooling buildings will be significant. So to the extent it reduces demand for fossil fuels (for running AC) it is a conservation wedge. No single conservation/renewables wedge can be decisive, we need a whole bunch of them to collectively make a difference.

Yes I included the FF demand side. For starters some Aircon is offset extra heating in winter due to less absorbed energy. Secondly to get a real figure we would have to measure aircon power useage as a % or total power used worldwide:

Here goes!


world energy usage = 15TW equivelant

World aircon useage = 100GW (based on 1billion households with 10% having aircon) - feel free to maul me on this napkin calc!

Represents about 0.66% of total power use - I was close! BUT whiteout will not cut all use of Aircon, only reduce it.


Marco, think of "white roofs" as another silver BB
(from the idea that there is no silver bullet solution, but perhaps a collection of silver BB's will help)

Your list is an interesting collection of silver BB's. I am practicing 1, 3, and 4. Already had two kids before I knew about 2. The jury seems to still be out on your 5. And 6 is tough here in the middle of the city, though I do buy part of my city's solar electric generation.

How are you doing on your list?

I'm low on 1,2,3,4! - 1 child, cycle to work (13miles round trip) half the time, we both work close and play close. Car is 35mpg.

I can't claim 6) BUT iv'e got condensing combi LED's and compact flourescents all round, A+ energy star appliances and no aircon.

IMPORTANT disclaimer: It's true CCPO knows me as a bit of an AGW denier /sceptic ....BUT... it's goes without saying that we need to reduce our energy dependence. The solution to AGW/ACC is the same solution to the energy issue.


I'm doing pretty good on 1,3 and 4. Found out about PO when the 2nd child was on the way; still think that's not a bad score for 2. Presently saving for 6. Installing a woodstove and isolation should file under 1, I think.

I think there is no solution for ACC, not anymore. There is no "solution" for PO either, but it may just be possible to adjust, which is difficult to say of ACC.

Thanks Marco. TOD is a much better place when we are polite to each other.

If we shoot too many messengers we might experience Peak Message Syndrome (PMS) ;^)

1- The easiest way to "consume less" in terms of food is to go vegetarian. I'm pretty sure you're referring to "consumer" behavior of buying junk. In that regard, I've not purchased very much in the way of items that were not food, guns, or related to the construction ofmy house.

2- I have no children

3- I telecommute

4- I telecommute, and with exception to the weekends, am a home-body.

5- I can't own my own nuclear reactor, so I use the closest one I can use, the Sun.

6- I'm fully solar/wind powered in terms of electricity. I still use propane for cooking.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

If you earn money then leading a frugal lifestyle doesn't help. If your excess money is in the bank then they'll lend it to someone else to spend it. If you trying keeping the money in a suitcase under the bed then the government will see that as deflation and print money to compensate. Only society-wide solutions will work. Nobody gets forgiven unless they get involved in changing society, i.e. gets into politics. And I plan to do that as soon as I figure out what we should do.

I second your answer to 5)! It's similar to late R. Smalley's conclusion on humanity's "Terrawatt Challenge" that the only possible solution will be 'nuclear'- although:
- For safety reasons one would wish to completely decouple the reactors from the earth's biosphere by the vastest vacuum or metal shield possible and transmit the energy via photons or phonons respectively.
- For economic reasons one would try to use 'infrastructure' which is in place and has been successfully tested for a couple of billion years.
- For social reasons one would prefer an approx. equally distributed energy flux across the earths populated surface.
Neat to have 2 such miracle reactors at hand: the largest fusion reactor (the sun) and the largest fission reactor (the Earth's core). The engineering for harvesting the energy flux is is readily available. Is there a better business proposition ?

And the research backing up your "personal guarantee" is where? Personally, I claim you are wrong. Further, white roofs is just one strategy, we need many simultaneously.

is where?

See discussion above. Sometimes engineers can smell bull from 10 miles away!

Further, white roofs is just one strategy, we need many simultaneously

See discussion above.

Discussion above is the true bull. Try research and modeling.

BTW, the consideration is what we can get the current society to accomplish in all ways. It is not what you would do if you were world dictator. Sometimes I can spot empty talk a few paragraphs away.

Thanks Roy. Of course the total offset from a maximal program is only about a year and a half of current emissions -so clearly this strategy only buys a limited amount of time. But, as far as silver BBs go, its fatter than many. In hot dry climates, like were I live it is estimated AC is about half of summer electrical demand, and most of that building heat load is from direct solar insolation, so the decrease in demand from an agressive program would be a significant energy conservation BB as well. We gotta encourage all the BBs we can. We aren't going to sell the population on large scale energy descent -as much as so many TODers rebel against any partial solutions -at this point IMO stacking up partial solutions is the only way we are going to make progress.

The other thing I like about this BB, is that rather than fighting nature with brute force industrial power (black roofs and big AC units), we are pushing things in the directions of using rather than fighting mother nature. If we can start doing that, and demonstrating benefits maybe the idea will catch on.

OK, even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and say it is a worthwhile task, let me throw my last card down:

Can you imagine the resource required to manufacture all that paint as it would become another massive burden on the petrochemical industry - paint comes from oil - in case you hadn't realised.

I shudder to try and calculate this extra burden. It's truly massive.


Uhhh, covering roofs with a white roofing material can be done concurrently, and much quicker than, most of the items you listed, and the white roof thing does not exclude or impeded any of the items on your list. Do you have the math to justify your WAG of 0.5%?

Nothing wrong with your list, including the advocacy for increased nuclear power, hopefully to replace coal-fired power generation.

For those ready to fire off missives about nuke and BAU: Someone advocating nuke to replace coal does not automatically dismiss the imperatives for having fewer children, driving less, consuming less, advocating more renewable energy, etc. Too much 'either/or' black hat.white hat' thinking here by many.

Hello Moonwatcher,

I hope that all those that paint their roofs white leave a little section unpainted for just one year. I think it would be really cool if tourists, upon looking down from their airplanes' windows, saw tens of thousands of white roofs with the unpainted section spelling out 'PeakOil', or 'TheOilDrum.com', 'Dieoff.org', 'Negative Sum Reality', etc.

Black hole Sun,
Won't you come
And wash away the rain...

Chuckle, up here we have many roof tops, barns and outbuildings, that have a large "FU" painted on them.It's a messageto the air nationalguard and DEA.In the fall they routinely get together and do a flyover to try to spot illegal herb plantings.

We had a large track burn a few years ago, all the local volunteer fire groups were called in, the radio traffic was a riot, as one group called for mutual aid after another, and were told to bring munchies to.

Don in Maine

Economic news...

Problem bank list tops 300

FDIC reports that the number of troubled lenders rose by more than 50 during the first quarter and hit its highest level since 1994.

IRS tax revenue falls along with taxpayers' income

Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago — the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says.

Home resales inch up in April

Existing home sales rose 2.9% while the median sales price fell 15.4% to $170,200.

Americans' credit scores fall as they struggle to pay bills

From the third quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 — the latest data available — the average TransUnion credit score dropped 6 points to 651, the credit bureau says. Scores fell more dramatically in states hardest hit by the housing bust: California saw a 10-point drop, for example, and Arizona, 11.

Air freight slump near bottom

Demand tumbled 21.7% in April, but the pace of decline in held steady, according to air industry association.

Consumer confidence: biggest jump in 6 years

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- U.S. consumer confidence soared in May to its highest level in eight months as severe strains in the labor market showed some signs of easing, though Americans' moods remained depressed by historical standards.

Restaurants cross lines as they struggle through recession

"The industry has never faced a period of stress like this," says Alan Hickok, a veteran restaurant industry consultant. "There's never been anything this deep."

As a result, the big chains are spinning out new products about as fast as any time in the industry's history.

States consider basing college funding on graduation rates

States fund public colleges primarily based on how many students are enrolled. But a number of legislatures are considering policies that would link funding to whether students graduate.

Add to those stories we have the latest from California:

Schwarzenegger details $5.5B more cuts to budget

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday proposed eliminating welfare for 500,000 families and terminating health coverage for nearly 1 million children to help close the state's ballooning budget deficit.

The Republican governor's administration released details of $5.5 billion in cuts, a week after state voters defeated special election ballot measures. The new proposals are on top of those previously announced by Schwarzenegger.

E. Swanson

There is a fascinating email exchange between Richard Heinberg (Post Carbon Institute) and Rob Hopkins (Transition Culture) at http://transitionculture.org/2009/05/27/to-plan-for-emergency-or-not-hei...

They are debating emergency planning in the context of Transition Initiatives. It is a rare peek into an email discussion between two public figures from the peak aware crowd who are trying to make a difference.


Rob Hopkins - I feel that absolutely key to all of this is the fact that, in terms of visioning, there isn’t a positive potential outcome to use to inspire and engage people [to emergency planning]. Transition is very deliberately designed to be non-threatening, to be inviting and engaging. It could be argued that emergency planning is the opposite. The danger is that if the vision becomes collapse next week, that the Transition group becomes seen as a survivalist cult, and loses people. It is hard enough for us to engage and work with our local authority here, and we are presenting ourselves to them as rational, positive thinking people with ideas they need, answers to questions they aren’t asking yet, although no doubt we are still seen as fringe players. If we were to take a very doomy position, and invite them to prepare for meltdown next week, I suspect we would find it far harder to find a way into them.

Richard Heinberg - Many thanks for your thoughtful reply to my earlier letter about Transition and emergency planning. I think the best way for me to continue the conversation would be to respond to specific points you made.

“Is it possible to design a bottom-up emergency response plan that is effective?”

If not, then I think that we (that is, those of us who desire to see an orderly, decentralized transition process) may be in danger of being written off as irrelevant at some point—perhaps in just a few months’ time. As you point out: during an emergency, people are much less interested in long-range plans and much more focused on satisfying immediate needs. The emergency is unfolding, and it is not going to be transitory. So as people deal with survival issues, how can their collective efforts trend toward sustainability?

“In the past bottom-up emergency planning worked superbly in the anarchist-led communities during the Spanish Civil War.”

This is an encouraging example to think about, even if—as you note—circumstances are very different now. In fact, I think communities are going to be left mostly to their own devices, once the efforts of national governments begin to fail—and fail they will. So how will communities get by? Who will help them organize their response to an almost complete economic shut-down, so that families still have food, water, shelter, sanitation facilities, work, and health care? I think anyone who can offer tangible help will be regarded with some respect.

Governments already plan for disasters like earthquakes, fires, power blackouts, hurricanes and winter storms. It's actually pretty easy to sell them on all this in the context of disaster preparedness. Self-sufficiency for a long term decline is a much harder sell to governments.

I've been doing what I can to get the conversation for emergency planning into the Transition movement. It is resisted mightily, and that evidently comes from the very top.

Ultimately, I determined that the Transition movement really handles only one half of the equation, and not even really that well yet (but it's young and improving quickly), so I stopped working on it locally and now put all my time into my company. It's my attempt to demonstrate that it's possible to get people ready without being hysterical about it.

For instance, Jason Bradford and I are in the middle of instructing our first UnCrash Course. We are between the fourth session ("Skills") and the fifth session ("Transportation and Communication") and we are handling precisely the things that Transition Towns isn't:

* how does one handle a mortgage and 401ks? what's the difference between a recourse and non-recourse loan? when is bankruptcy a good choice?
* why is it wise to expect and plan for a currency collapse? how do you plan for a currency collapse?
* what are the skills that will likely be in demand? what is the impact of machine production on the skills you will offer?
* what if you want a personal level of prosperity above "subsistence?" how do you achieve that?
* what determines the price the market will pay for your skills and/or the products you make? how does one increase that?
* what should you consider when picking a place to settle in for Energy Descent? (history of civil discord, proximity to food and water, family, etc.)
* what is a reasonable timeline for when major systems break down?
* and much more

The class just finished submitting their home energy audits and are working on the next piece of homework. For those people familiar with TT, you'll see that almost none of those questions are addressed in any concrete way inside of TT. In my local experience, most groups get to the point of identifying the problems but stall there and the actual level of preparedness is very very low even after one year of participation. (Your group's mileage may vary but I think my observation holds true for most groups according to people I've spoken to around the world.)

In a conversation with the TT leadership, I mentioned as an example of where TT falls down that it doesn't teach people how to handle their mortgage and assets. The response I received was, "I've never gotten that question since starting this. I have to wonder what you're saying that you're getting that question."

My response was, "Indeed! What are you saying that people have never asked you that question? It seems like you are avoiding talking about the difficult stuff."

Don't get me wrong, the Transition Town movement is great for showing people that it doesn't have to be doom and gloom and I believe the leadership is completely committed to learning and making sure it's a useful structure.

But for people ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work preparing, it still has a long way to go.




Good comments. As I'm poking around trying to get a handle on the unfathomable, I've sort of tried to pull in the best from all camps. In my experience, TT folks are both realists and also optimistic. I agree with Hopkins, doom isn't a very good attractor until the roof starts caving in. TT's objective about building resilience is quite wise to my thinking but I sense a bit more urgency. It will take a lot of time to re-engineer even a small village in the US and developed world.

As I look around, I wonder if anyone anywhere has made all that much progress preparing for "change" on the community level. You know of any? Willits CA? How would you measure it?

I'm going to take a look at your class. You may hear from me there. Thanks.


I've had the opportunity to work with Jason at length while having great conversations as we designed the curriculum for the course and I don't think he would say Willits is much out in front. It's much further than most other towns in developed countries but still far from self-sufficient.

And I hope to see you in a future course. We're going to open registration for the next one in a few weeks. If you sign up for the newsletter you'll find out when it opens.

I agree completely, aangel. I very much am concerned about the speed of the Transition Town approach given how suddenly things lurch in new and unexpected directions.

Still, doing what I can to get it rolling in SK.


The nice thing about TT model is...there is a model. As I understand it, there are no hard and fast rules. Just a couple of premises and some very general steps. Shit will happen, might as well be ready. One dimentional solutions won't work, build resilience through building local diversity of services (triple bottom line), take advantage of collective intelligence (synergies in HR), and look for the positive cause being depressed won't grow beans.

Yes, I'm on the steering group of our local TT town in the UK, and the speed seems to be about getting things better in 10 years time. I think that the most valuable aspect of the local group, though, is building a community of people who are interested, aware and know each other's skills, so if things become dire we will at least know where to start.
But I think that a lot of people in TT groups are getting very frustrated.

Regarding mortgages and assets, it's certainly a non-trivial question. We may be working on our homesteads or our post-peak skills, but in the meantime we still exist in this financial economy where we pay money to occupy real estate. It's the largest household expense by far. Without it, I suspect most people could say "take this job and shove it" to their 9 to 5.

Who knows which way works out better when the crash comes? Having a claim on good real estate with some attendant debt or being a debt-free renter?

In a crash, being debt-free would be good, but not ideal. I think having the means to purchase good real estate (arable, watered land) at a discount would be ideal. Otherwise, being a renter you are at the mercy of the landlord, and as long as you don't lose your source of rent payment, you could be safe. There is more flexibility with owning real estate as long as your mortgage is not much above what your rent would have been.

If the crash involves deflation, you will wish you were a renter. But if there is hyperinflation, you will pine for a mortgage. So in the end, whatever makes you resilient, flexible and surrounded by a tight-knit community is the only thing that is guaranteed to be helpful.

Well, being in California where there's too many people and not enough water, renters have the flexibility of pulling up roots and leaving more easily. Cities will still be centers of trade and commerce, but urban real estate will get less valuable once utilities like water and power degrade. I could move in with family or friends if income for rent dried up, but they're in California too, so still stuck in the same boat. You're right about tight-knit community being the most important.

The thing is...if we do get hyperinflation, it's not going to happen overnight. You'll have time to buy, likely at a lower price, and with more information than you have now. Renting keeps your options open, and it doesn't have to be permanent. As Stoneleigh said...renting is paying someone else to take the risk of ownership, which is considerable in the current environment.

And CNBC had a story just now about how 4 out of 5 employers are considering going to a four-day work week. They pointed out that inflation would be hard to sustain if everyone's getting a 20% pay cut.

The link up top; Oil Demand is really fantastic. Dr. James D Hamilton, economics professor at UCSD and founder of Econbrowser, gives a great presentation. You need to click on: Oil and the Economy: The Impact of Rising Global Demand on the U.S. Recovery then from that page click on: Click here to watch an archived copy of the JEC hearing to watch the hearing.

Hamilton states the obvious; "We have seen a number of episodes over the last half century in which the price of oil shot up dramatically, and each time it was followed by an economic recession. I'm persuaded that the oil price surge over 2007-08 was also an important factor that contributed to the economic recession that began in 2007:Q4."

He makes the case that higher oil prices cause little immediate response to oil consumption. However this causes higher spending on energy and therefore less spending on other things. Then when prices get high enough it begins to effect oil consumption and oil prices collaps. All this leads to a recession.

Daniel Yergin then gives his presentation. He said he agreed with Hamilton that the price of oil was a major contributor to the economic collapse. He said it was the price of oil that knocked the automobile industry flat of its back, not what happened to Lehman Brothers. But he said that the world now had 6.5 million barrels per day of spare capacity. I think that is about 3 million barrels too high.

Ron P.


I would add that this video features one "Mr Brady" who plays the role of flaming idiot.

It is priceless hearing every lie and misconception debunked here 50,000 times issuing from his mouth.

Someone once wrote a whole novel without using the letter e. This whole video is an exercise in talking about peak oil without using the phrase "peak oil." Watch them tiptoeing around L'Elephant Noir.

Back to the infant. She wants teat.

Yes Brady seems to be a complete idiot from the statements he made and the questions he asked. On the other hand I was encouraged by Congressman Hinchey's statements. He seemed to know the situation.

Ron P.

But he [Yergin] said that the world now had 6.5 million barrels per day of spare capacity. I think that is about 3 million barrels too high.

Just a frame of reference check. CERA tends to couch their global production estimates in terms of 'crude + liquids'. Could that be the case with Yergin's assessment? 6.5 mbpd is closer to my guess for total liquids ...

Yes, I am sure he is talking about total liquids but that is still way too high. OPEC quotas do not include NGLs or condensate. So every OPEC nation produces all the NGLs and condensate as they possibly can. Of course cutting three million barrels of oil production would cut some NGls but not that much. I would guess that there are far less half a million bp/d of spare capacity in NGLs.

I think that OPEC was producing flat out last July. Therefore their spare capacity is what they have cut since then, minus any depletion.

Ron P.

I think that OPEC was producing flat out last July. Therefore their spare capacity is what they have cut since then, minus any depletion.

That sounds reasonable. Add in the incremental ramp-in of Khurais starting this year. Presumably, Saudi Arabia will bring this up as slowly as operationally feasible.

I was guessing global C+C at 89 mbpd, and equating that with production. Your thinking is perhaps 86 mbpd, with the balance in 2008 served from inventory drawdown?

I just checked, the world produced 212,000 fewer barrels per day of natural gas plant liquids in February than it did last July. International Petroleum Monthly spreadsheet 1.3. And we produced 3.057 fewer barrels per of total liquids. (Spreadsheet 1.4) In July of 2008 the world produced 86,697,000 barrels per day of all liquids.

No, I was not thinking of inventory drawdown. 86.7 mb/d was every nation on earth producing flat out. The world is now producing 3 million barrels per day less and that 3 million barrels is the maximum spare capacity available.

Yes, Khurais is coming on line. Other Saudi fields are in decline. Saudi's total decline from all their old fields is about 600,000 barrels per day per year. Khurais will offset that for one year. I don't think Khurais will ever produce over 600 kb/d, if that.

Now consider that several OPEC nations are clearly in decline and several others have clearly peaked.

Well hell, now that I think about it, three million barrels per day, all liquids, of spare capacity is probably way too high.

Ron P.

It could help explain the rally in crude a bit.

I've been wondering about how Peak Oil plays out in the more tactical sense that light sweet crude is probably well past peak. The aggregate quality of barrels hitting the market today is declining, and refiners (especially U.S.) can't handle a lot of the sour stuff. As a result we would hit another price wall before we got back to last year's global production/demand levels. It would look like spare production capacity had declined when the actual constraint was on the refining side.

But hey, we'll have lots of cheap asphalt....

I don't think Khurais will ever produce over 600 kb/d, if that.

Well, why not? I guess everyone gets to pick a number, though.

Before water injection was started, Ghawar produced less than 1 Mb/d. Pressure was dropping like a rock. A little pressure support helps a lot.


Before gas injection was started at Khurais it was producing less than 80 kb/d. Then a massive gas injection project was started and Khurais produced 144 kb/d in 1980. Then the next year, with the gas injection keeping the pressure up at Khurais, production dropped off dramatically. Aramco officials then decided it was not worth the effort and mothballed Khurais. Pressure was not dropping like a rock in 1981, the gas injection was keeping pressure very high but still production was dropping like a rock.

Well, why not?

Well, now you know.

Ron P.

Well, you are mistaken. First of all, it was not a "massive gas injection program', but rather gas lift on a few wells. Second, one cannot really say that this effort stabilized the pressure. Pressure continued to decrease with production and didn't recover till it was stopped.

Read this again.

1.2 million bpd does seem optimistic for 2 million bpd water injection.

Okay, Matt Simmons had his figures a little off and so did I. However Aramco was greatly disappointed with the performance of Khurais in the early 80's. Perhaps this frog will turn into a prince after all but I would not bet on it.

If they inject 2 million barrels of water per day then they are going to get over a million barrels per day of something out. I expect most of that will be the same water they injected. But no doubt they will get a lot of oil also. But how much and for how long is the question.

However you seem to have a lot more faith in Khurais than I. I am a man of facts, not faith. So we shall see.

Ron P.

Saudi Aramco has become obsessed with hitting production targets. Their most recent developments (Haradh II&III - 300k each, Qatif - 500k, Shaybah - was 500k) all seemed to get their target, but it usually took a lot of extra effort that wasn't announced in splashy press conferences.

With Khurais, I'm convinced they have studied it enough to have a good stab at getting their target, but it will probably require more wells than they currently have planned. Whether it is sustainable or good for long term recovery, I don't know.

"EnCana to hold conference call and webcast on Haynesville & Deep Bossier plays on Wednesday, May 27, 2009"


Nice link elwood...thanks. One can also access a text version. Great geological and engineering picture show if you want to gain some basic knowledge. But it esentially highlights how much NG might be produced IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT. As been discussed before we do have a proven huge NG reserve base in these shale gas plays. We have many, many years of future drilling just waiting for the right moment. But it will take a critical minimum value for those reserves to be developed. More critical, IMO, volatility will still be the rule for a long time...perhaps decades. It's good to know we have such a proven resource. It would be even better if we could figure a way to avoid the boom/bust cycle as we've just seen the last 18 months. It's difficult to imagine the NG industry and the economy coping very well under such circumstances.

In Hot Pursuit of Fusion (or Folly)

"LIVERMORE, Calif. — Here in a dry California valley, outside a small town, a cathedral of light is to be dedicated on Friday. Like the cathedrals of antiquity, it is built on an unrivaled scale with unmatched technology, and it embodies a scientific doctrine that, if confirmed, might lift civilization to new heights. “Bringing Star Power to Earth” reads a giant banner..." (NYTimes)

Oversupply of carbon credits.

This is a scam that will undermine carbon caps or taxes. For some years large corporations have owned a few acres of tree plantations which magically absorb the pollution from huge industrial plant. Right now they help in greenwashing their product or in voluntary and low key carbon schemes. However if carbon abatement schemes get serious they will want to be let off the hook with major deductions.

Apart from trees there are also 'clean development' offsets many of which are brokered by the World Bank. Somehow good deeds in the back blocks also magically erase industrial pollution. Emitters in the Netherlands for example claims 50% of their CO2 emissions are neutralised by CDM offsets.

I suggest that the use of credits whether bogus or plausible be restricted to 10% of the required CO2 cuts. For example a coal fired plant that emits 10 million tonnes a year of CO2 may be required to cut 5% or half a million tonnes. Make that 0.45 Mt real cuts and just 0.05 Mt covered by offsets. Tightening the use of offsets will dramatically improve the effectiveness of carbon reduction schemes.

Cool development:

US bicycle sales higher than car & truck sales in 2009

Onwards to climate progress-


Bike SUV

How the heck do you steer that thing? And where's that kids helmet???

Maybe it's on the outskirts of Amsterdam, where they think the idea of people falling off their bikes and needing helmets is laughable.

I understand that in Europe bicyclists aren't considered "targets of opportunity" by every passing driver.

How could this happen, and what could we do to change it? [/sarc]

Very funny.

-1 in 8 of the cyclists with reported injuries had a brain injury.
-Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.
-A very high percentage of cyclists' brain injuries can be prevented by a helmet, estimated at anywhere from 45 to 88 per cent.
-Direct costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $81 million each year, rising with health care costs.
-Indirect costs of cyclists' injuries due to not using helmets are estimated at $2.3 billion each year.


Of course its different in Europe.

Reasons Why Helmets Should Not be Compulsory.
Cycling has many advantages to the individual (health, mobility) as well as to the society (reduced air pollution and congestion).
Calculations on the "total" health benefits of cycling, taking into account both accidents and reduced risk of certain diseases, shows that health benefits are greater than accident disbenefits.

A law requesting cyclists always to wear helmets would be totally in contrast to the nature of the bicycle as a simple and convenient form of transport. Such laws would meet strong opposition and lead to a decreased use of the bicycle, as the Australian example already has demonstrated.

Any attempt of compulsory helmet use should therefore be rejected as strongly as possible.


Even funnier is the fact that "Intense, taxpayer-funded bicycle helmet promotion campaigns have washed across the nation, initiated by the Danish Road Safety Council and the black sheep of the European cycling community, the Danish Cyclists Federation." is causing a drop in cycling.

Apparently some European societies have their own set of "deniers".

If progress can be measured in small steps...

We're currently upgrading the lighting in a couple retail outlets and I stopped in at one earlier this evening to check-in with the owners and see how things are coming along. I brought along my camera and since the work is about two-thirds complete, I was able to take a couple "before" and "after" shots (no enhancement -- straight from my camera to your screen).

Before -- 295-watt Metal Halide

After -- 145-watt High Bay T8 Fluorescent

In this case, we cut the lighting load by slightly more than half, for a total reduction of 14.7 kW. In addition, light levels and, most importantly, light quality are vastly improved. Previously, colours looked flat and dull and customers would often take bolts of fabric outside so that they could see how they look under daylight. Now, colours are more vibrant and natural and the store looks brighter and more cheerful. I'm happy to report the owners are thrilled.

Much better lighting, a $6,500.00/year reduction in utility costs ($8,000.00 after you factor in the related a/c savings) and a 50 tonne/yr reduction in CO2e emissions.


Yes - I can clearly see the visual difference.

I can also see there does not seem to be anyone in there SHOPPING.

Recovery in Canada?

Just giving you a hard time ;-)

Nice work!


Thanks, Pete. This store appears to be doing fairly well; it might even do better than most if more of us return to making our own clothes. There are two full-size classrooms in the store where they hold weekly sewing lessons, so there may be some opportunity for that yet.

It's not obvious, but the original metal halides were undergoing significant colour shift as they aged -- some of the lamps were taking on a mauve-pink hue (Philips), whereas others were turning more blue (Osram Sylvania) or green (GE). You can see some evidence of this if you look at the wall in the lower left corner of the first picture. The effect detracts from the overall look of the store. That won't be a problem with the new high performance T8s. They're 5,000K and have a CRI of 86 (the ones they replace were 3,700 to 3,900K in temperature and had a CRI of 65). Lamp life more than doubles (46,000 hours versus 20,000) and, at end-of-life, the T8s will still be cranking out 96 per cent of their initial lumens whereas the metal halides will fall to at about half (same watts, but 50 per cent less light).


Another fine example of 'ready to go' technology/ideas that could dramatically cut overall energy use if widely implemented or even better universally mandated. Just like white elastomeric and metal roofing. And if most everyone switched from current cars to Priuses and similar cars within five years then after that time gasoline consumption would plummet. Yea, yea, Jevon's Paradox, but I don't buy it...A Prius gets ~40 MPG+, and the average vehicle probably is around 20 MPG today...you can't tell me that folks are going to then double thier miles driven. If they are so inclined, then the government should double the price of gasoline through taxes and re-normalize the gasoline expense playing field. Twice the mileage at twice the price of gas=no financial hit to drivers (save the costs of buying the new fuel-efficient vehicle), half the gasoline consumption and CO2 emissions and contributions to Al Quaida et al, and much more government revenue for health care or whatnot. How again is this not a win-win-win situation? Except that twits will scream about 'fascism' and their holy 'right' to drive giant SUVs and pick-ups from their McMansions to the Wal-Mo.

Some folks can't get their brains in gear to realize that these 'off-the-shelf' solutions can make a big difference. But it is more satisfying for some to preach from the bully pulpit of dieoff for the hundredth time.

Hi MoonWatcher,

I suspect Jevon's Paradox may not be a major factor in our work given the intense pressure on most small businesses to control costs.

Further to that point, one of the nice side benefits of this programme is improved cash flow. Nova Scotia Power picks up 80 per cent of the cost of these upgrades and allows the customer to finance the remaining 20 per cent on their account, interest free, over 24 months. Moreover, the material (i.e., lamps, ballasts, fixtures, etc.) are sourced well below normal retail and there's no out-of-pocket or upfront expense (the audit is free and the customer is automatically pre-approved). Consequently, a $10,000.00 retrofit is just $2,000.00 or $83.33 a month over 24 months. However, that same customer may save $600.00 to $700.00 a month on their utility charges. It's an incredible deal all around.


Paul - a thing of beauty!

Kudos Paul !! You're doing great work, I'm impressed and that's not easy. The world could use a lot more people like you. Have you thought of doing a "campfire" piece for all of us here? Talk about making a "real" difference. My hats off to you.

Don in Maine

Thanks, Don; much appreciated. I give full credit to Nova Scotia Power and Conserve Nova Scotia, as well as the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board who authorized this project and who will ultimately decide if it goes forward (we're still in pilot). I think it's worked out well for all concerned and I'm tremendously proud of my association with our sponsors and our accomplishments to date.

My hope is that we'll never see another coal-fired power plant built in this province ever again. This is the goal and we chip away at it day by day.


"Towns Rethink Self Reliance as Finances Worsen" in the WSJ


Wondered when this was going to start happening.