DrumBeat: May 29, 2009

Wind Energy--Too Much of a Good Thing

A surfeit of wind energy is pushing down the price of all electricity. The real time price of electricity in West Texas, where almost all generation is wind, was negative for 23% of April 2009. The negative prices spilled over to the rest of Texas for about 1% of the month. This may be the future of the electric industry, with negative prices for a substantial amount of time each month.

Brazil to open up vast offshore fields

International oil companies will be invited to bid for concessions in Brazil’s enormous “pre-salt” oil fields as early as next year, Edson Lobão, mines and energy minister, has told the Financial Times.

World's largest fusion facility today celebrates long, difficult road to official opening

The challenging pursuit of fusion is nothing new to Lawrence Livermore Laboratory scientists. In the lab's early days in the 1950s, weapons designers successfully developed the fearsome hydrogen — or fusion — bomb, many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. In 1952, the lab joined a program called Project Sherwood that attempted to control the force of fusion to create a virtually unlimited source of electrical energy.

Today, the lab enters the newest chapter in its fusion quest with the official opening of the multipurpose National Ignition Facility, 15 contentious years after the project's approval. The massive, dark building on the eastern edge of Livermore — not far from hillsides dotted with grazing cows — covers the footprint of three football stadiums. With 192 lasers, it ranks as the world's largest laser fusion facility.

Slovakia says it may relaunch old nuke plant in crisis

(PRAGUE) - Slovakia said Friday an energy crisis may force it to relaunch an outdated Soviet-type reactor shut down as part of the deal that saw the country join the European Union in 2004.

"I cannot rule it out. If there was such a threat in Slovakia, it is more important to have light and warmth than dark and cold," Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said after the European Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague.

Panarchy: the Science of Cycles

Human civilizations, as Holling learned, also follow the same course as other natural systems, an awareness that has solidified his global reputation as a theorist and helped to coalesce his ideas into a multinational scientific community of thinkers called the Resilience Alliance. This makes panarchy theory particularly relevant and timely because it joins a growing body of thought from climatologists, ecologists, anthropologists, philosophers and others who are examining our modern civilization from the broad perspective of history and are recognizing the same worrisome trends that have occurred in collapsed civilizations of the past. To understand more clearly this basis for worry, we must understand panarchy theory and Holling's insights about the natural cycles of forests.

Byron King: Gold and the Cap-and-Trade Revolution

This is a critical matter and here’s the takeaway point: We’re about to see an UTTER TRANSFORMATION of the U.S. economy.

Your life will be regulated — directly and surely indirectly — by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mostly through its powers under the Clean Air Act (CAA). And the parts of your life not regulated by EPA will fall under the jurisdiction of your friendly state or provincial environmental authorities. Many of the policy details will be rounded out via litigation in state and federal courts, mostly initiated by the likes of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations.

New fuel standards aren’t as tough as they look

Good news for Americans with large families or who need to transport substantial amounts of gear: President Obama’s new vehicle emissions standards are not as tough as they seem. But this is bad news for environmentalists, who want to lower the use of gasoline.

Hurricane Center Tracks First Storm of '09 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Days before the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane season on June 1, the National Hurricane Center reported that it is currently tracking its first storm -- an unnamed tropical depression -- for 2009.

Hurricane season sparks anxieties

CHAUVIN, La. — Terri Broussard knows when it's hurricane season: Calls for refills of nerve-calming meds start piling up at the doctor's office where she works in this bayou community.

Detroit community groups work for city's new glory days

DETROIT — Despair shows on the faces of many people at soup kitchens and in unemployment lines here. And desperation is evident in Craigslist posts from a single mom who needs $950 for medical bills and a man who can afford to pay just $650 for a used car he needs to job hunt.

There is something else, though, in this shrinking city beset by chronic poverty and the unraveling of the industry that once made it great: hope.

A Job and No Mortgage for All in a Spanish Town

“They all thought that the market was God, who made everything work with his invisible hand,” Mr. Sánchez said on a recent morning, seated in his office below a portrait of Che Guevara. “Before, it was a mortal sin to talk about the government having a role in the economy. Now, we see we have to put the economy at the service of man.”

While the rest of Spain gorged on cheap credit to buy overpriced houses, the people of Marinaleda were building their own, mortgage-free, under a municipal program, he said. If a resident loses his job, the cooperative hires him, he said, so nobody wants for work — a bold claim in a region with 21 percent unemployment.

For Personal-Injury Lawyer, Michael Pollan’s Book Is Worth Fighting For

Among the things that Bill Marler feels passionately about are Washington State University (his alma mater), food safety and negotiation. So after he heard about a dustup on campus over the cancellation of a program requiring all freshmen to read the same book — Michael Pollan’s double-fisted examination of agribusiness, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” — he stepped in to resolve it.

Organic Dairies Watch the Good Times Turn Bad

For those farmers, the promises of going organic — a steady paycheck and salvation for small family farms — have collapsed in the last six months. As the trend toward organic food consumption slows after years of explosive growth, no sector is in direr shape than the $1.3 billion organic milk industry. Farmers nationwide have been told to cut milk production by as much as 20 percent, and many are talking of shutting down.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone organic if I knew it would end this way,” said Mr. Preston, 53.

Survey: Arctic may hold twice the oil previously found there

(CNN) -- Continental shelves beneath the retreating polar ice caps of the Arctic may hold almost double the amount of oil previously found in the region, scientists say.

In new findings, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic may be home to 30 percent of the planet's undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil.

Natural gas in the Arctic is mostly Russian

WASHINGTON – Nearly one-third of the natural gas yet to be discovered in the world is north of the Arctic Circle and most of it is in Russian territory, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey.

"These findings suggest that in the future the ... pre-eminence of Russian strategic control of gas resources in particular is likely to be accentuated and extended," said Donald L. Gautier, lead author of the study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

Energy reserves north of Arctic Circle mapped in detail for first time

Russia could benefit from increasing its existing gas reserves, currently the biggest in the world. But the oil estimate is small, compared with known reserves in major petroleum-exporting countries, and is unlikely to shift trade patterns greatly, the researchers say.

Oil Heads for Biggest Monthly Gain Since 1999 as Asia Rebounds

(Bloomberg) -- Oil headed for its biggest monthly gain in a decade as economic indicators from Asia and shrinking crude inventories in the U.S. pointed to a global recovery.

Oil rose to a six-month high above $66 a barrel after India’s economy grew more than expected in the last quarter, while Japan said today that its industrial output climbed the most in at least six years in April. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries predicted stronger demand as it decided yesterday to keep output quotas unchanged.

Rising oil may test U.S. economy's green shoots

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Swiftly rising oil prices threaten to sap the buying power of U.S. consumers who are essential to ending the longest recession since the Great Depression.

Oil has been on a tear in the last five weeks, rising 48 percent since April 21 to hit a 2009 intraday peak above $65 per barrel on Thursday. Part of that reflects hopes that the global economy is inching out of a deep slump, but it may also have something to do with investors seeking an inflation shield as the U.S. dollar weakens and government spending grows.

Petrol prices soar despite recession

The spectre of £1 a litre petrol is returning to haunt hard-pressed motorists at UK forecourts.

At many motorway service stations and in rural areas, the price is already a common sight – and average prices across the country as a whole are closing in on the level, according to the AA.

Ruble Heads for Biggest Monthly Jump Since 1995; Stocks Climb

(Bloomberg) -- The ruble rose, heading for its biggest monthly advance against the dollar since 1995, as oil extended gains in its best month in a decade. Stocks rallied to the highest level since September.

Nippon Oil sees June crude refining down 4 pct y/y

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's biggest refiner, Nippon Oil Corp, plans to refine 4 percent less crude in June from a year ago, a company executive said on Friday, as domestic demand for oil products remains sluggish. Oil sales in Japan, the world's third-biggest oil consuming nation, are down as the population ages, homeowners, business and drivers shifts towards greener energy, and the economy wallows in its worst recession since World War Two.

Oil Rally Driven by Sentiment, Not Demand, OPEC Says

(Bloomberg) -- Oil’s rally is driven by improving sentiment about the global economy and isn’t supported by crude demand, OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said a day after the group decided to leave production targets unchanged.

Global crude stockpiles remain very high, El-Badri told reporters at a briefing in Vienna. Still, prices may reach $70 to $75 a barrel by the end of the year, partly because speculators are returning to commodity markets, he said.

Total aims for new fields in North Sea

ABERDEEN (Reuters) - French oil major Total aims to shave a fifth off the cost base of its North Sea operations this year while looking to prolong the life of existing wells there and open new ones.

The firm's 2009 exploration and production budget in what is a declining oil and gas reserve area is 1.2 billion pounds, said Roland Festor, Total's head of E&P in Britain.

At around $30 per barrel on average, extraction costs in the North Sea are relative high, due mainly to a lack of competition between service providers and high pay packages.

Obama to discuss oil prices with Saudis

US President Barack Obama said he would discuss oil costs when he meets with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah next week and plans to say that big price rises are not in Riyadh's interests.

"I don't think it's in Saudi Arabia's interests to have a situation in which our economy is dependent -- or disrupted constantly -- by huge spike in energy prices," Obama said when asked by a reporter what his message would be during his June 3 visit to Saudi Arabia.

'Indonesia on track despite Cepu delays'

Oil production from Indonesia's huge Cepu field faces delays, but the country should still meet its oil production target this year, Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said today.

Indonesia, which has turned into a net importer of crude oil in recent years after a slump in production, should achieve a target of 960,000 barrels per day of crude and condensate production this year, the minister said in an interview with Reuters.

Allotting of Iraqi Oil Rights May Stoke Hostility

The sheik is one of thousands of Kurds who have moved to Kirkuk, an unstable oil town in northern Iraq, since the 2003 United States-led invasion and claimed plots of land not theirs to build houses. Some of the homes, illegal facts on the ground aimed at furthering Kurdish claims to Kirkuk, sit a mere half mile from towering flames of natural gas among the oil fields.

Their presence is one of many pressure points converging at a critical time in Kirkuk, as rights to those fields are scheduled to be awarded to the highest bidding international oil company next month as part of Iraq’s larger effort to bolster its slumping economy by nearly tripling oil production over the next six years.

Battling Big Oil Means Taking a Page Out of Their Playbook

"Big oil has successfully communicated their messages regardless of facts," said Joanna Schroeder, Principal of 4R Communications. "For many years, they have lobbied against the renewable energy industry and today they are beginning to position themselves to take it over. In order to dethrone big oil, the renewable energy arena needs to consider adopting similar tactics."

World Bank to bolster sustainable energy role

BERGEN, Norway (Reuters) - The World Bank seeks to play a bigger role in sustainable energy projects around the globe including experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, Vice President Katherine Sierra said on Thursday.

Car-driven society poses health risk for Americans

Driving is a way of life for Americans but researchers say the national habit of driving everywhere is bad for health.

The more you drive, the less you walk. Walking provides exercise without really trying.

NGOs sketch path to sustainable consumption

The EEB's blueprint is about shifting from "peak everything [peak oil, peak water, peak food etc.]" and reaching Earth's limits to the notion of contraction and simplification, Fedrigo explained. Meanwhile, the transition needs to be embraced "in an intelligent and planned way to avoid chaos," she underlined.

Arnold Tukker, one of the report's authors, called for limits to be placed on the use of natural resources. Emission and resource-use caps, standard setting, charges and energy-performance targets can be powerful policy measures, as can limitations on advertising and shifting taxes from labour to resources, he argued.

The 100 mile economy

What might our lives be like if oil prices surge back up, and go beyond, say, $200 a barrel?

What could the world economy - and our local economy - look like if we get to a point where fuel is not affordable?

Speaking Volumes book club: Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller

Sorry, but Rubin is persuasive only in the sense that all the other pessimists over all the other decades have been persuasive while wrong. The U.S. Geological Survey in 1920 estimated the world’s total endowment of oil at 60 billion barrels. By 1950, the estimate rose 10-fold, to 600-billion and now it’s about three trillion. Last year, the Geological Survey estimated over four billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation alone — that’s 25 times the estimate of a decade earlier.

The only clear trend I see is up. Over the last two decades of unprecedented globalization, oil reserves grew in the Americas, in Europe and Eurasia, in Africa, in the Middle East, even in the Asia Pacific region that includes voracious China and India. All told, world oil reserves increased by a staggering 36%, and that doesn’t include the 152 billion barrels in proven oil reserves obtainable from Canada’s tar sands. Never before in human history has energy been accessible in greater abundance in every major region of the world; never before has mankind faced a brighter energy future.

EU states seen backing duties on U.S. biodiesel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Most European Union member states indicated on Thursday they would support a European Commission plan to extend anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of biodiesel from the United States, EU sources said.

Sharing the rooftop garden secret

“The most important thing to realize is we need to localize our food supply,” said Gretchen Mead, head of the Milwaukee chapter of the Victory Garden Initiative, which promotes urban gardening wherever possible. Ever the advocate, Mead helped move compost at Future Green May 4 while her 7-month-old son Otto, in his blue PJs, was strapped to her chest in a sling.

“We’re not always going to have access to cheap, abundant fossil fuels” to transport food across the country, she said, launching into a constellation of criticisms of food that comes “1,500-miles-per-bite,” maligning the nutritional defects of “food on steroids,” and criticizing the industrial agricultural practices that she said contribute to disease mutations, the need for antibiotics, and global health crises like the swine flu epidemic.

Gardeners to form Saturday market downtown

“We don’t have a lot of farmers in the Blaine area but we do have a lot of gardeners,” said Blaine resident Ron Snyder, who, with his wife, Cathy grows about a quarter of their food on their Sweet Road farm and plans to do more. “The community sharing resources is a step toward a more viable downtown, and it’s a fun thing to do, a great way to meet and share with neighbors, a good community builder,” he said.

EPA: Recession Won't Stop Clean Energy Revolution

PARIS — The top U.S. environment official says it's time for the United States to shed its energy-wasting image and lead the world race for cleaner power sources instead.

After several years with a relatively low profile under President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "is back on the job," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told The Associated Press on Thursday during a trip to Paris.

UW scientists say new online tool aims to take world's temperature

How much warmer could Washington's summers be in 100 years?

Will June rainfall in Australia change by midcentury?

Climate experts today will unveil an online tool that shows how global warming could affect the entire world, including changes within cities, states and countries.

Forests and the Planet

A major shortcoming of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change was its failure to address the huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the destruction of the world’s rain forests. A proposal that rich nations be allowed to offset some of their emissions by paying poorer counties to leave their rain forests intact was shot down after European environmental groups objected. They argued that it would allow rich countries to buy their way out of their own obligations. The planet has been paying for that colossal blunder ever since.

Oil firms and loggers 'push indigenous people to brink of extinction'

Five "uncontacted" tribes are at imminent risk of extinction as oil companies, colonists and loggers invade their territiories. The semi-nomadic groups, who live deep in the forests of Peru, Brazil and Paraguay, are vulnerable to common western diseases such as flu and measles but also risk being killed by armed gangs, according to a report by Survival International, which identifies the five groups as the most threatened on Earth.

Sixty members of the Awá tribe are said to be fleeing from gangs of loggers and ranchers on their land near Maranhão, Brazil. "Logging roads have been bulldozed through a part of their territory, where the uncontacted groups are living. The ranchers want land to graze cattle for beef. The loggers regularly block roads to prevent government teams from entering the area to investigate," says David Hill, a Survival researcher and co-author of the report.

Maryland pollutes more than 150 countries

Maryland emitted more cumulative global warming pollution between 1960 and 2005 than more than 150 other nations surveyed, according to a report released this week by Greenpeace. And that makes it one of the least-polluting states on a per-person basis.

Climate 'catastrophe' killing 300,000 each year

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The first comprehensive report into the human cost of climate change warns the world is in the throes of a "silent crisis" that is killing 300,000 people each year.

...The vast majority of deaths -- 99 percent -- are in developing countries which are estimated to have contributed less than one percent of the world's total carbon emissions.

Let's start the day with a question: if you find something, is it really undiscovered? Or, if something is undiscovered, have you really found anything?

In new findings, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic may be home to 30 percent of the planet's undiscovered natural gas reserves and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil.


It's also unclear what the "twice as much" refers to.

"Based on our study, there are 40 [billion] to 160 billion barrels of oil north of the Arctic Circle," said Gautier. The USGS had previously estimated the Arctic is home to 90 billion barrels of oil.

I guess 160 is "almost" twice 90, but those 90 are also "undiscovered". But 40 is less than half of 90, so the headline could have said "less than half of that found previously".

GW Bush: "The Math doesn't work!"

Yeah, that is a bit of a humdinger. "Arctic believed to hold perhaps twice as much oil as was previously possibly thought."

"Arctic oil possibly twice the size of previous estimates." Hey, that almost makes sense! Doesn't convey the whole picture of course but this is the mass media we're dealing with here.

"Estimates of arctic oil double." I bet they have software generators for this kind of thing.

Perhaps "unfound". Or maybe "pre-found".

It's the green shoots theory of oil. They found a 2nd derivative through imagination and creative software. Rejoice! All our troubles are over.

"times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted arctic reserves rectify"

If one can belief the world is 6000 years old, one can go to war for peace, technology will save us, and "they hate us because we are free", it's easy to imagine there are plenty of unearned riches just waiting to be explored below arctic ice.

Let me update your post a little bit.
If you believe that you can spend trillions of dollars that you don't have, paint roofs white to stop global warming, and take over industries & lay people off to create jobs it is easy to imagine there are plenty of unearned riches just waiting to be explored below arctic ice.
There was an election, remember?

More like a Cheech and Chong movie. Two dudes fly over the Arctic in an airplane and one looks out the window.

"Mey man, look at all that oil!"

"That's water, you jackass!"

"No no, man, that's oil. I can see the sheen, man!"

"How many times do I have to tell you, the oil is underground."

"I don't care, man, I can see the oil. There is a billion, gazillion gallons of oil out there, man. There is enough oil out there to last for centuries ... (sigh)."

"This is supposed to be a scientific estimate. I can't tell the Geologic Survey that there are a 'billion-gazillion' barrels of oil ... "

"Gallons, man, gallons. Not barrels, gallons!"

"What's that number on the back of that piece of paper?"

"It's a phone number of that girl I met at the bar last night."

"Well, double it and that will be our 'official estimate'."

"Hey man! I can see Russia from here ..."

I should add a pointer to a TOD post by Jean Laherrere on Arctic oil and gas:


Good comments too.

Joules -- as posted on the other thread: Another worthless piece of filler for public consumption IMO. First, they don't say whether the volumes of oil they offer are inplace or recoverable. They probably meant recoverable but one can't be sure. But if they do mean recoverable reserves then their numbers are even more misleading. The amount of oil recoverable from a reservoir anywhere on the planet is a function of how much is inplace and how much can be recovered with existing technology AT A CERTAIN PRICE. At $30/bbl I doubt there is one bbl of oil recoverable from the Arctic basin. At $200/bbl there may well be 10's of billions of bbls recoverable. Just another of my rants against projections of recoverable oil reserves when a pricing assumption is not included.

Also, I've done such studies (though on a smaller scale) in my career. The basic modeling includes assumptions regarding aspects in similar depositional settings. The results are dependent to the degree of accuracy of those assumptions: if they are not close then model could be much greater or much less. That's why there is such a range of possibilities. But the early Deep Water Gulf of Mexico offered little potential -- WRONG. And the model for the Muckluk (sp) offshore North Slope years had great expectations -- WRONG.

As I've crudely teased modeling experts before: modeling is a lot like masturbating. Nothing wrong with it as long as you don't start believing it's the real thing.

The basic modeling includes assumptions regarding aspects in similar depositional settings. The results are dependent to the degree of accuracy of those assumptions: if they are not close then model could be much greater or much less.

I think I understand what you're saying. Unfortunately neither the general public nor the media seems to care about the details as they just print what they're told. Arctic, OPEC or OCS, where ever, just so we know there's plenty of oil.

Time reports that "By [2030] the world oil markets might once again follow the normal rules of economics."

Oil Is Plentiful, Demand Weak. Why Are Gas Prices Going Up?


The size of reserves tell you nothing at all about flow rates.

Rockman - Best post that I have ever read on this site!!

"As I've crudely teased modeling experts before: modeling is a lot like masturbating. Nothing wrong with it as long as you don't start believing it's the real thing."

I only hope and pray that those that worship at the altar of the "climate" modelers read your post.


The prescription for over-enthusiasm for probability estimates for unfound oil is to calm down and not bet to heavily that it is there.

The prescription for too much faith in climate models is what, in your opinion? Do nothing, because modeling is not the real thing?

Where the oil is is where it is. We can slowly gather more information, and if it is there, we'll find it (we might not be able to afford it).

Unfortunately, the climate is a complex system. I know you want something that you can just spin around in your head and make sense out of it, but then you just end up like the simple-minded folk who reason "gosh, the atmosphere is just way to big for us to have any impact!". Complexity cannot be dealt with so easily.

You don't trust the model? Fine. Do you understand the model? I doubt it. The problem is that there are probable dire consequences for just business as usual simply because you "don't trust those fancy modelers with fancy degrees in climate science."

I only hope and pray that those that worship at the altar of the "climate" deniers stop misrepresenting the role of models in climate science.

prevaricate: : to deviate from the truth

Particularly since we know the denialist stance is primarily lies and bad science.

The American Denial of Global Warming

ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

At the same time, there is not a single paper, study or presentation that purports to show how climate scientists have a money machine built specifically to cheat the world out of its hard-earned money. This despite the FACT that this lie has been central to many denialists' claims.

Huh. Imagine that.


Denialist claim: Models are unreliable

The Physics of Climate Modelling

Is Climate Modelling Science

Modeller vs Modeller

FAQ on Climate Models

Simple Models of Climate

General Circulation Models of Climate

Final thought: These links have been posted many times here, yet, they have been addressed by you various climate denialists exactly 0 times.

Huh. Imagine that.

Thanks jb. I don't dislike models per se. They are a valid tool. Rather it's what folks try to prove with models. One can argue all day long that the auumptions are correct. But some inputs are generaly accepted facts and others are assumptions. The problems I see arising is when folks present the models as truth without pointing out the assumptions. There is not one barrle of proven oil in the Artic region they are descibing. Is there some oil there? Almost certainly. But to use the model to assume future reserves that might impact the US/global economy to a certin degree is wrong IMO. Many folks look at model numbers and take them as promises. No honest modeler would ever present them as thus.

AGW is not my area. There are certainly proven facts in the models. There are also assumptions. As I see no possibility of the global societies ever reducing CO2 output the models don't really interest me. It's just as easy to just accept them on face value and anticipate the worst. In those models there are assumtions that probably will determine the degree of correctness (or wrongness) of the predictions. I'll let others explore those areas. I fully expect the world economies to swicth to increased coal utilization as other hydrocarbon sources dwindle in an effort to sustain the unsustainable growth model. If this destroys low areas then so be it. Industrialized economies will sacrifice those regions if that's what it takes to sustain themselves in the short run IMO.

AGW is not my area. There are certainly proven facts in the models. There are also assumptions.

This is not quite accurate, as I understand it. A big difference with geological models and climate models is that the geologic models are modeling something they have no direct experience with. It is pure guesswork in that sense. Yes, the underlying knowledge of geology gives strong clues, but those things have not actually been explored yet.

With climate, you start with the medium you are measuring. The current state of the thing, as opposed to oil in the Arctic, is already known. What we are looking at is what it's going to do, not whether or not the fundamentals are in place.

Finally, isn't it a little inaccurate to call parameters assumptions? That is treating modeling like prediction. This is perhaps the most damaging misunderstanding about climate modeling. Models are NOT used to tell us what the parameters should be, but are used to test the parameters determined by research. And those parameters are not guessed at, they are intentionally tested over a range of possibilities to give a breadth of possible futures.

This is not prediction, this is scenario generation.


Actually ccpo I have 35 years of direct experience modeling geology. Just like with climate modeling we use proven histories (the data base) just as any modeler would use.
Is a parameter an assumption? Yes if it isn't a generally accepted fact. I do modeling on a daily basis and have to continuely choose parameters I THINK are applicable. I model the pressures a well will encounter when drilling. Not enough back pressure and the well blows out. Not a good day: environmental nightmare, $700 million rig destroyed and perhaps some lives lost. And I do this with historical data from previous well drilled in the area. But even when using analogs assumptions must be made. "I think" is just another way to say I assume.

But I think you and I are on the same page when it comes to prediction vs. scenario. The USGS saying there is X bbls of oil in the Arctic is no different then Prof. X saying sea level will rise Y inches by year 2001. The public takes these scenarios as prediction IMO. And this isn't to say that either scenario, if accepted as a prediction, is wrong. I think you’re saying the same thing I might: models can be neither right nor wrong. They are merely the answer to a series of assumptions/calculations. But you and I are in the great minority IMO.

Actually ccpo I have 35 years of direct experience modeling geology.

I wasn't questioning your expertise, just the characterization. I don't mean to sound argumentative; I hope only to help clarify these things in people's minds. It's entirely possible I am completely off-base wrt modeling in your field.

Just like with climate modeling we use proven histories (the data base) just as any modeler would use.

Yes, but of areas you have not actually explored. With climate, you are modeling the existing reality and backwards into the past to check validity, then modeling with the same existing reality but moving forward to get some guesses of future conditions. It's not quite the same as you do with geological provinces that have never been drilled. I will allow as there is some correlation between unexplored areas and future time.

Is a parameter an assumption? Yes if it isn't a generally accepted fact. I do modeling on a daily basis and have to continuely choose parameters I THINK are applicable.

Sure, but, again, I see a difference in scale. A good run of a GCM includes hundreds of runs with the same parameters and with variation in the parameters to get a wide range of possible outcomes. Perhaps I am just wrong in assuming you don't run as many runs in the oil patch?

And I do this with historical data from previous well drilled in the area.

Sure. But I was referring specifically to an unexplored province, such as most of the Arctic.

But even when using analogs assumptions must be made.

Yes, but here is the difference: the GCMs are using current data, as if from well-explored fields rather than unexplored. Real research that reflects the real conditions on the ground (so to speak) to start with. When you go prospecting in the Arctic, you have only models and remote data. You don't have the real conditions. I suppose with seismic, etc., that is much improved, however.

But I think you and I are on the same page when it comes to prediction vs. scenario. The USGS saying there is X bbls of oil in the Arctic is no different then Prof. X saying sea level will rise Y inches by year 2001. The public takes these scenarios as prediction IMO. And this isn't to say that either scenario, if accepted as a prediction, is wrong. I think you’re saying the same thing I might: models can be neither right nor wrong. They are merely the answer to a series of assumptions/calculations. But you and I are in the great minority IMO.

Agreed. Worse, with climate, there are people intentionally misleading about the efficacy and usefulness of modeling. It's often not a matter of not understanding, but intentionally calling a spread of scenarios with probabilities prediction.


ccpo -- I didn't take your comments badly out all. Just my regular gruff tone Is suppose.

Big differences in geologic and weather models b for sure but lots of similarities. Climate modelers look at historic data...so do we. actually we tend to model the past and then forward model to current conditions. One big difference is the depth of the data base. Much greater with climate. Not that there aren't manner minor geologic factors but the are seldom ever considered. More of a sledgehammer then a tack hammer approach.

We measure the earth real time also but not on such a detailed scale of course. Some aspects , like seismic processing, do run 100's of iterations but that is unique to the effort.

I really wasn't trying to say much about climate modeling per se but just the general point that models are, as you point out, a cumulative answer to dozens of "what if's" and not a great predictive tool. Not that it can't be but I don't think they should be offered with such certainty as some folks do. Perhaps I'm just jaded by my own experiences. In my 35 years I've drilled 3 "sure shot...can't miss" projects. And two missed. So now I avoid the can't miss deals and stick with only the ones with a good chance of working.

Best regards

160 billion barrels is almost 2 years of oil. We are saved. We can stop worrying about Peak Oil and think about other things.

"I don't think it's in Saudi Arabia's interests to have a situation in which our economy is dependent -- or disrupted constantly -- by huge spike in energy prices," Obama said when asked by a reporter what his message would be during his June 3 visit to Saudi Arabia.

So clueless about PO he is.

My interpretation based on other stories is that Obama is saying that the Saudis should agree to price fixing.

Fair enough, Sarkozy was also pleading for stable prices by fixing them. From what I've seen so far O. still has no clue. We have passed Peak Obama, though.

It's like watching a low pressure system develop in the Gulf of Mexico, that deja vu sense of dread.

Don't look now but the energy price - interest rate price spiral is developing again.. Energy prices are prompting 'inflation' talk in credit markets and rising long term mortgage and interest rates are the consequence:

Mortgage Rates - It Could be as Bad as You Can Imagine

With respect to yesterday’s in the mortgage market — yes, it is as bad as you can imagine. No call can be made on the near-term, however, until we see where this settles out over the next week of so. If rates do stay in the mid 5%’s, the mortgage and housing market will encounter a sizable stumble. The following is not speculation. This is what happens when rates surge up in a short period of time - I lived this nightmare many times.

Yesterday, the mortgage market was so volatile that banks and mortgage bankers across the nation issued multiple midday price changes for the worse, leading many to ultimately shut down the ability to lock loans around 1pm PST. This is not uncommon over the past five months, but not that common either. Lenders that maintained the ability to lock loans had rates UP as much as 75bps in a single day. Jumbo GSE money — $417k - $729,750 — has been blown out completely with some lender’s at 8%. I have seen it all in the mortgage world — well, I thought I had.

A good friend in the center of all of the mortgage capital markets turmoil said to me yesterday “feels like they [the Fed] have lost the battle…pretty obvious from the start but kind of scary to live through it … today felt like LTCM with respect to liquidity.”

The consequences of 5.5% rates are enormous. Because of capacity issues and the long time line to actually fund a loan in this market, very few borrowers ever got the 4.25% to 4.75% perceived to be the prevailing rate range for everyone.

A significant percentage of loan applications (refis particularly) in the pipeline are submitted to the lenders without a rate lock. This is because consumers are incented by much better pricing to lock for a short period of time…12-30 day rate locks carry the best rates by a long shot. But to get this short-term rate lock, the loan has to be complete enough to draw loan documents, which has been taking 45-75 days over the past several months depending upon the lender’s time line. Therefore, millions of refi applications presently in the pipeline, on which lenders already spent a considerably amount of time and money processing, will never fund.

Furthermore, many of these ‘applicants’ with loans in process were awaiting the magical 4.5% rate before they lock — a large percentage of these suddenly died yesterday. From the lows of a month ago to today, rates are up 20%. To make matters worse, after 90-days much of the paperwork (much taken at the date of application) within the file becomes stale-dated and has to be re-done with new dates — if rates don’t come down quickly many will have to be canceled out of the lender’s system.

To add insult to near-mortal injury, unless this spike in rates corrects quickly, a large percentage of unlocked purchases and refis will have to be denied because at the higher interest rate level, borrowers do not qualify any longer. For the final groin kicker, a 5.5% rate just does not benefit nearly as many people as a 4.5%-5% rate does. Millions already have 5.25% to 5.75% fixed rates left over from 2002-2006.

So much for a housing recovery ...

It's easy to see the process in action now that everyone knows what to look for. The difference this time is the Funds rate/short term rates are low but long rates are high and jumping. The Fed's plan was to buy long bonds and GSE paper (Fannie and Freddie mortgage bonds) and drive rates lower - to stimulate the housing market and support high (2006 legacy) prices. This plan backfired because the Fed is a small potato in the bond market.

The Fed is a large if indirect player in commodities markets, however. The Fed aims its liquidity hose at real estate and energy winds up getting wet.

With the Fed still printing, broker- dealers (big companies like Goldman- Sachs) use the funds to buy oil futures. Index funds jump in - the market is going up, after all. The index funds are also supported by Fed liquidity. Add some velocity as G-S and PIMCO or Citi start selling contracts back and forth and $100 oil is a few short months away. Like August???

There is the also the 'supply' issue as the Treasury is seeking to fund the bailout machine to the tune of trillions of new debt issue. Much of this is short term - five years or less. Traders are looking at debt issue and putting it into the context of commodities and seeing inflation. Remember, it's not the fundamentals that matter - we are still in deflation - it's the appearance of fundamentals. Buy the rumor, sell the fact.

Gasahol prices jumped 40 cents here in the South last month. Anything is possible. There are plenty oil bears to keep the markets balanced - people who can take the other side of bullish positions. Only when all are oil bulls will this market crack. This might be over $150!

Oil price checklist:

- Lotsa oil bears ... check
- Strong long term fundamentals (peak oil!) ... check
- Ignorable short term fundamentals ... check
- Available investment cash ... check
- Lack of energy policy ... check
- Large open interest ... check
- Not so much OPEC cheating ... check
- Apparent 'Increased Asian demand' ... check

All it will take is a political crisis in Iran or Saudi Arabia and the lid will pop right off.

BTW, watch the grains. I think grains will skyrocket. Go long on 'Food Riots'.

Just because a politician makes a statement like that does not necessarily mean he is clueless; it e may mean he is pretending to be clueless. O is a master politician; introduction of reality will be a slow, painful process. Remember, he is a leader of millions of largely clueless people. Clueless people in denial do not vote for politicans who spout reality, revealing their non cluelessness.

Don't confuse the persona for public consumption with the reality.

Obviously, we must move in a direction where we will be less dependent upon oil; that is the only ultimate solution. But this failure goes back decades and the only President at all serious about doing something meaningful was Jimmy Carter. I still have some hope for O but politics will trump just about everything.

The other possibility, of course, is that once we are in serious decline, it will be game over. That would pretty much be the Kunstler scenario. No politician will call for a serious change in lifestyle. Denial works when you only have a 4 or 8 year time frame. Let the next guy deal with reality.

"Let the next guy deal with reality."

I thought Obama was the 'next guy' or
shall we just kick the can down the road again ??

Triff ..

I would posit that Carter and his CIA were aware that Peak Oil would become a reality at some future point and embarked on a strategic course of action to ensure the US Empire would continue to get the very unequal amount it needs while controlling how much would be available to the Empire's rivals, and the Carter Doctrine was the enunciated result. A review of US Imperial policy since will confirm this hypothesis, and Obama continues to implement the strategic plan. This implies he is aware of Peak Oil, even Peak Energy. To opine Obama's clueless is to ignore his behavior, especially continuity of BushCo policies. That the strategic policy is wrong and will result in defeat is only mentioned by writers outside of the US Propaganda System. Congress is certainly onboard the Obama train just as it was for Bush, Clinton, Bush and Reagan. As usual, the public is deliberately being kept in the dark about the true aspirations of the US Empire.

I agree with the over all concept and the out come but IMO this just serves to illustrate that the Man in the big seat has very little to do with anything. I think Carter took his best shot at changing course (solar pannels, sweaters, etc.) but it was a no go so "things" went ahead as planned.

History is nothing but conspiracy and blow back.

Makes me wonder what is "planned" WRT Obamanos.

People keep talking about Carter's recognition of the energy problem. They forget that the Carter program depended on using oil shale. Not that he thought that was such a good idea, but it's what he could interest congress in.
It's like saying Nixon took us off the gold standard by a unilateral decision. I've seen that again and again. The US was forced off the gold standard because we insisted on a war (Vietnam) that we weren't willing to pay for. And today, all this talk about oil bringing down the credit house of cards. Just chance that we've again got wars we're not willing to pay for?
With respect to my remarks about Carter and Nixon, that's the way I remember it.

There were also social programs "we weren't willing to pay for" that combined with the war costs to generate the 1970s stagflation, which was certainly worsened by the oil embargoes, but the policy mistakes all occured in the 1960s. The borrow and spend sect is primarilly responsible for today's economic train wreck, and yes it sponsored many wars. War spending is another type of bubble economy in that it includes a bust at some point in time. But even if taxes were higher, we'd still have the problem of an out-of-control executive branch waging wars all over the planet with little congressional resistence that would debilitate the economy in a manner similar to that which caused the USSR's demise. IMO, the USA will default on bond payments at some point prior to the end of Obama's term, which will be the bust caused by the borrow and spand sect. I see nothing to prevent it as the shortfall in revenues needed to service the national debt continues to increase as do the amounts due just on interest alone, while amounts spent for war and other forms of corporate welfare continue to escalate unabated. This in turn will provide the basis for a contrived debate: Save Social Security and Medicare or continue to expand the subsidies to the military industrial complex and its relatives in banking, pharma, energy, etc. Guess which course of action the "liberal media" and Obama will support--feverishly.

History is nothing but conspiracy and blow back.

Nothing is planned. History is a tattered tale of incompetance, ignorance, and ego. The notion that everything is under control is a comforting one when the obvious alternative is that no one has any clue what they're doing. They don't.

But hey, keep checking you're fillings for mind control devices if thats what does it for ya.

Nothing is planned. History is a tattered tale of incompetance, ignorance, and ego. The notion that everything is under control is a comforting one when the obvious alternative is that no one has any clue what they're doing. They don't.

I think that overstates the case. Histories actors, sometimes have a high degree of vision and competance. At least part of the time, they are even able to move things in the direction they set out to. But, you are right that there is no quiding hand (or spirit), and so much is caused by attempts to deal with unintended consequences of earlier actions.

Don't confuse the persona for public consumption with the reality.

Isn't that what they kept telling us about the last Oval Office occupant? How'd that work out?

Careful, you're venturing into 'smarter than he comes across' territory.

The New York Times: In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble

The massive power plant under construction on muddy terrain on this Finnish island was supposed to be the showpiece of a nuclear renaissance. The most powerful reactor ever built, its modular design was supposed to make it faster and cheaper to build. And it was supposed to be safer, too.

But things have not gone as planned.

Some background is in order: traditionally Finland has had a very conservative approach to nuclear power. During its postwar independence, under the watchful eye of both the soviets and the west, Finland played a cautious game of pleasing both sides: buying nuclear reactors in turn from east and then west. These were also the years with strong economic growth and political control of both industrial investment and the labour unions. It was the 60's and 70's that Finland was 'built' - for many people those were happy, nostalgic years. Everyone kind of worked together towards 'progress' and mutual economic benefit.

Howeve now after the tumoultuous decades of 80's recession, collapse of soviet union, 90's rising free market growth and finally globalization, Finland is but a name for a country. The government, having joined the EU, having lost power over the labour unions and direction of major industries, has degraded to a level of a rubber stamp: how many reactors will permit some multinational investment funds to build next.

Even our ones strong paper&pulp industry no longer holds enough influence to have new powerplants built to supply them with cheaper electricity. They are all too busy moving their investments to China. So this new reactor isn't a particularly 'Finnish' project. It is an investment by the nordic electricity markets who plan to sell the power to each other and further out to Europe.

The problems with this project are familiar to anyone who works as an engineer in this modern new global free market. Projects like these are no longer aimed for their physical end, the generation of reliable power over a long period, but are mere financial instruments for the market. In their search to maximise short term profit and increase the market value of the participating investment funds (they don't deserve to be called companies!) these projects are chopped into smaller and smaller subcontracts which are poorly defined and illsupervised, leading to continous quality issues, delays and fighting over who is to pay for the budget overruns. Reaching the goal of efficiency is achieved by concentrating on 'core-knowhow' and outsourcing the rest, where by an engineering firm giving the lowest bid for the welding of the base plate for example then subcontracts the welding work to a 3rd company, the planning to a 4th company and supervision and inspection to a 5th company, effectively becoming just a manager of cashflow in between - and these other companies then in turn subcontract the work to further companies...

The result is a mess of over 3000 employees from over 100 contractors all working to maximise their profit, individually - without overall direction, supervision or control ie. not working together! This has led to a situation where even Mongolia could build these things faster and cheaper!

Of course instead of seeing its own incompetense and greed, Areva blames the Finnish Nuclear Regulatory Authority for causing these delays with their pesky 'inspections'. In fact the authority hasn't even made that many actual physical inspections to the site - they only made one after internal and external information of quality issues reached the national media and Areva failed to produce satisfactory paperwork of the quality control and workers qualifications. In fact at many times Areva could not even answer who actually were the people working at the site, let alone produce certificates of their qualitifications - because of the mess with the subcontractors.

Today's 'capitalism' has truly succomed to its own cleverness. It was all different back in the days when huge projects like these were given to huge companies with real Capital (huge in manpower and engineering force, not in some invisible market value!) who in turn were directed and supervised by a strong government - this 'good old' capitalism worked on trust - government made considerable investments on projects like these - and in turn gave exclusive rights to the big boys to make a profit on them - nowadays this would be called corruption - but now we see that this relationship, this 'government-militaryindustrialcomplex' actually worked!

What we are left now is the 'free' market: a no holds barred gamble, where the lowest bidder rules - where the government side is run by young incompetent bureacrats who have no idea of how to define and supervise a project - and on the other side a bunch of conmen, who compete with each other on who dares to bid the lowest price and deliver the cheapest garbage. And everyone has their lawyer ready to fight - instead of seeking to resolve issues and make the project run smoothly to everyones benefit.

We used to have big companies run by 'leaders of industry', with a culture of almost that of family firms - where projects like these were made to run smoothly with an iron fist for the long term benefit, reputation and profit for the company - with majority stakeholders being stable owners and long term investors. Now we have a 'blind' market which cares not for anything but the next quarter's bottom line, and companies which have been outsourced and stripped to the bare bones of all manpower and skills (because you can always contract those in when you need them, eh?), financial balloons, empty of substance.

What then is our fate? The greatest argument for why civilization cannot avoid collapse is that all the proposed megaprojects to save us: from solar to nuclear, localized no-till organic farming, population control - are all dependant on gigantic undertakings - the size of world war II or going to the moon combined - but we can't even build a freaking nuclear plant anymore!

(disclaimer: the above rant isn't meant to be nostalgic for the 'good old days', nor endorse any of the ideologs referenced: from industrial fashism to government controlled communism ... it is merely a series of observations)

Sounds like Finland is in the same boat as just about every other country in the world that is stuck in the old paradigm without having a clue what the new one is going to be like and having even less of a clue as to how to get there from where they are.

Good luck from a descendant of Hungarians! Finno-ugric... :-)

My comment is meant to ameliorate the above rant a titch.

Back in 1985 I invented and patented something, manufactured it for a short time then sold it to big corp. Repeated this process several times, many times with out bothering to patent.

Over the next 15 years I worked in industrial design/ product development for dozens of companies in many industries.

The dysfunction in the product development stages of large companies and corporations was universal, wasteful, and very unpleasant to experience.

And then I worked with a Co-op. WOW!!!

Burley Design Co-op is the largest mfg. of bike trailers in the world. They also made awesome recumbants, world class road bikes, commuters, sewn products, and more.
Employed several hundred in a beautiful new, fully paid for factory and owned the entire block of other buildings and leased them out.

No one made more that 10% more than anyone else. Profits were shared. Health coverage, retirement packages.etc.

When we were working out a new product we would call in the guy walking down the hall, who was operating drills and mills, and show him what we were coming up with. He would say “yes, that looks good but if you move this over here we can hit two holes in one cycle and save time” or some such thing.

Usually it was a battle between engineering, CAD folks, and fabrication, all saying that the other guys had no idea what they were doing and that it should be done their way instead.

At Burley they all worked together because they all got paid about the same so they saw each other as co-worker not the enemy above.

In my opinion this is the ONLY possible way forward.

At Burley they all worked together because they all got paid about the same so they saw each other as co-worker not the enemy above.

Whatta bunch of commies..../humor off

This gives me something to think about. When a dedicated team sees the mission as more important than their individual success/careers, that team can make a lot of progress.

When the individuals start bucking for status (of which pay is a big part), you get the dysfunctional silo & turf struggles that seem to be the norm.

A timely reminder, Soup. Thanks!

I have a Burley bike trailer. Expensive, but the quality of the design leaves the competition in the dust!

Yeah, Thanks Soup!
Good to hear about businesses and systems that find smart ways to work.

I KNOW they're out there, but I need to just keep a list that I add to every time I hear a good example!


I think that co-operatives are one of the most intelligent ways of organizing daily human tasks. From my observation those that involve group decision making and balanced job complexes tend to do best.

For example I sometimes buy lunch from a co-op restaurant and it is the only eatery where I truly trust that the conditions are hygenic. It is also one of the most economical, tasty and healthy places around. The workers seem to genuinely want to run a good business.

I hope that if the world's economic system suffers badly a space will open up for more co-operatives in the world as the large corporations crumble and fail.

My hope is that Olkiluoto will end all attempts to revive the nuclear power plant building business. Olkiluoto is now more than 3 years behind schedule (opening was planned this month) and 60% over budget.

The reason that hardly any nuclear power plants were built over the past decades is that they're simply too expensive to build and finance. Without exception, all recent additions had massive cost-overruns and construction delays. If you start planning now, you may have a plant or two in 10 years. By that time one of the following (but probably more than one) is likely to have happened.
1. A kWh from wind combined with backup capacity (dams, batteries, pressurized air, long-distance electricity transport) is cheaper than a kWh from a new nuclear plant (it probably already is cheaper)
2. Solar energy (including backup capacity as above) is cheaper (this will take a bit longer, but not 10 years)
3. No solution is found for the waste (see Yucca mountain in the US, and Asse in Germany)
4. Another nuclear power plant blows up (most operating plants are getting really creaky, and that includes the European ones)

If only one of these predictions comes true, nuclear is dead, and deserves to be. Private investors know this, so they won't build unless the state picks up the tab in the end (but not the profit).

Main thing is that nuclear already is simply too expensive, and the engineers who knew how to build them have retired. Now, we just have sub-sub-sub-contractors who cannot weld, plan, design and communicate.

"Leaked communication between the Finnish nuclear regulator STUK and the constructor of Olkiluoto AREVA has revealed that there are severe problems with designing the control systems of the world’s largest, prototype nuclear reactor. Four years after start of construction, Finnish authorities are yet to receive design documents that would show how the basic principles of nuclear safety are going to be met. Fulfillment of these requirements should have been a precondition to the construction permit of the reactor, which was granted in 2005. Environmental groups are calling for cancellation of the construction permit.
"Finnish watchdog STUK has ordered the manufacturer to stop work until the issue is resolved."

I've said for some time that the number one thing proponents of wind, solar, wave, tidal, and geothermal power should push for is the following scenario:

1. No government subsidies, production tax credits, insurance or loan guarantees, etc. for any energy source. Government funding is limited to R&D and auxiliary efforts, like educating consumers about conservation measures.

2. A market-derived price for CO2 emissions, ala cap and trade, on a front-loaded schedule of cuts that gets us to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

3. All power producers are 100% responsible for all their post generation costs: Storing nuclear waste (essentially forever), decommissioning nuclear plants, tearing down old turbines, reclaiming completely all areas damaged via mountain top removal mining, the impacts of all non-CO2 emissions, etc. They have to either fund these efforts directly or find private insurance.

How many nuclear plants do you think would be built? How much of a rush to embrace renewables would we see?

The reason that hardly any nuclear power plants were built over the past decades is that they're simply too expensive to build and finance. Without exception, all recent additions had massive cost-overruns and construction delays. If you start planning now, you may have a plant or two in 10 years.

None of these are true if you look at the world rather than just the USA.

  • A large number of nuclear plants have been constructed in the last 10-20 years, in countries such as France, Japan, and China.
  • Some, such as the first ABWRs in Japan, were constructed on time and on budget - 3 years and $2,000/kW.

Another nuclear power plant blows up

If you take a look at a list of major nuclear power plant accidents, you'll find exactly one - Chernobyl - that was more deadly than a traffic accident. By contrast, coal pollution and mining kill tens of thousands of people every year.

Nuclear reactors are quite safe, relatively speaking, and appear widely accepted by the nations in which they're heavily used (France, Japan, China). Those nations are unlikely to stop design and production of reactors, meaning that nuclear power will continue to be available no matter what the US chooses to do.

A kWh from wind combined with backup capacity (dams, batteries, pressurized air, long-distance electricity transport) is cheaper than a kWh from a new nuclear plant (it probably already is cheaper)

It's about $0.15/kWh - I've run simulations on this with current pricing structures, hourly wind data, and hourly demand data - which is roughly double the cost of conventional power (including nuclear). However, that's for load-following generation (i.e., 100% of demand satisfied by wind+hydro), whereas nuclear is inflexible baseload, so the actual difference is less.

Fundamentally, though, wind and nuclear have complementary constraints, and backing both with a pumped storage system would have very nice synergy.


Nuclear power may not be ideal, but it's better than coal in terms of health and environmental concerns. So long as nuclear is displacing coal - which is typically the case - it's a net benefit.

Pitt the Elder: + 100 points.

Relative risk -- they (in particular the Greens) just don't get it. They either don't understand what it means, or they understand it but can't overcome their ideological biases, and so they simply ignore the argument.

Not to mention radiation hormesis (possible positive health effects of low doses of ionising radiation). Beyond their ken.

I agree with Pitt The Elder...too many people have an unreasonable fear of nuclear power plants. The situation is similar to people who are deathly afraid of airliner travel because of spectacular but very infrequent crashes which kill hundreds of people in one fell swoop and garner huge media attention...yet these people have no qualms about driving 10-12K per year where the risk of death and injury is far greater. Nukes = air travel and Coal = driving. Of course anyone who smokes and also opposes nuke plants is a super hypocrite. Nuke, solar, wind, geothermal, conservation...what is wrong with that mix?

Yup. ABC - Anything But Coal.

I see Olkiluoto 3 as a learning experience for mostly the european nuclear suppliers. I hope this and the large number of major uppgrades will give enough industrial capacity and fresh experience to build new powerplants on time and within budget.
Its very nice that it is built in Finland where the authorities are very through with the certification.

But it would have been a lot easier if the Chernoble accident had not killed the last momentum in the previous wave of powerplant building, it might even have saved ABB Atom who once could deliver advanced turn-key BWR:s.

Nuclear power has an edge in the construction material use, it is more about engineer hours and craftsmanship with special parts then lots of materal and thus energy use. Nuclear power ought to become more competitive when fossil fuels gets less available.

Finland and Sweden has no "Yucca mountain" problem, Finland has started building their high level waste facility and the siting for the Swedish one will be decided this summer, it stands between two competing municipialities but the one who do not get it will get some compensation. The storage technlogy development has been a fairly smooth extremely well documented process over about 20 years, Sweden and Finland will use the same solution but each country will have their own facility.

The solution is to place the waste in a cast steel container that is encased in a thick layer of copper and placed around 500 depth in bedrock. The free space between the cannisters and the bedrock will be filled with bentonite clay.

We did not abandoned nuclear power when Chernoble blew up in a steam expolosion, burned and dumped a significant ammount of radioactivity on us. The public support is a lot stronger today, people in general know about and care about global warming, there is a fair recognition of the supply problems for fossil fuels and a less stable situation will quickly make this common knowledge. I do not expect an accident to make nuclear power a dead end, that is wishfull thinking from the anti nuclear side.

Btw Olkiluoto is built on bedrock, I guess the "clay" were some kind of metafor?

My hope is that Olkiluoto will end all attempts to revive the nuclear power plant building business. Olkiluoto is now more than 3 years behind schedule (opening was planned this month) and 60% over budget.

Why would it? China and eastern Europe manage to get it done under budget and on time. Obstruction and ineptness in the west is not going to stop anyone else.

My view, admittedly jaundiced from years of scientific engineering research, is that it's not entirely down to "lowest bidder producing garbage". For the things in which all the design issues have been figured out (partly because the first ones that were built have failed and the failure issues resolved), they tend to be built on time and on budget (think of all those new housing estates where the time to build an individual house is pretty much exactly the time on the schedule, precisely because they're all built to a common pattern plus very minor variations.) In contrast, the culture seems to be for the underestimate in the time to figure out and build something new to be increasing. Part of this is obviously the tendering process: you get the contract on an unrealistic bid and once you're halfway through say that you won't complete the job without more money. But part of it does seem psychological: because human beings can build amazingly complex things, project planners somehow think we can build new complicated stuff "right first time" and amazingly quickly.

Iacocca losing pension, car in Chrysler bankruptcy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lee Iacocca, the car executive credited with saving Chrysler from bankruptcy in the 1980s, is to lose a big chunk of his pension and a guaranteed life-long company car due to the U.S. automaker's bankruptcy filing two decades later.

I'm sure he'll manage somehow...

Well, I suppose one would have to read the actual legalese, but it brings to my mind that the term "guaranteed life-time" may not mean what one thinks. Where's my Funk and Wagnall (say that 10 times fast).

Whose lifetime? Chrysler Corp's - perhaps Chrysler Corpse is more appropriate - I guess.


I doubt he'll miss the car, I just wish the present crop of CEOs had followed his example in working for a dollar/year after Chrysler's government loan.

Robert or Rembrandt should review Robin Mills's 2008 tome The Myth of the Oil Crisis. I'm pretty certain he's done his fair share of lurking here, for one thing, quoting text from web sites and referring to Hubbert disciples obsessing about a peak at 50% Qt, which sounds like Westexas talking.

Every paragraph is making my eyes sting or my head shake, and I'm only 65 pages in. Of course the US including Alaska doesn't fit a curve precisely; the Lower 48 is what's being modeled, for all we care it could be Kuala Lumpur. Yes, there are ways of dealing with chaotic production histories, care to bring those up? No? Still waiting for the words "flow rate" to show up; right now I'm wading through the reserves growth swamp. Can't wait to hear him discourse on his neologism, "Green Hydrocarbons."

Another aspect of this which I find very ironic is that he decries the Hubbertistas as fashioning unrealistic and oversimplistic models for future production, fixating on geology alone - then he lists a whole litany of things which have all stood in the way of bringing production online in the past. And therefore, our prospects for the future will be eternally rosy? Who cares if some study concluded that in an appropriate financial environment the US could have plateaued at 10 mb/d until the late 80s? In case you haven't noticed, it didn't. Tell me how that wildcatting in the realm of ideal platonic solids works out for ya, buddy.

So, deserving of attention. Mills is the hydrocarbon Bjørn Lomborg, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion, i.e., point-by-point. Ace had a response to one of Mills's bright spots, the Hawtah Trend exemplifying Saudi growth through discoveries: March 3, 2009.

If nothing else, we should be sure to get reviews into Amazon on the book. People look at these and they influence sales.

Maybe we can get an Oil Drum staff member to write a review/rebuttal. Something like this can be done by an interested Oil Drum reader as a guest post.

What a great idea - hadn't looked at it from that angle. The TOD staff should be all over Amazon, as you say people key off the reviews quite a bit, and it'd only take a few paragraphs to do a serious rebuttal to Mills's most egregious distortions.

Is it kosher at Amazon to refer to full reviews elsewhere? Don't know why that'd be a problem but someone might object to it as blog whoring.

Amazon automatically removes links to other sites from reviews. I think as an anti-spam measure. You can sometimes get one past their filters if you spell it out. (The Oil Drum dot com)

There's no length limit, though, at least that I've run into, so you could post your entire review at Amazon. Amazon doesn't insist that reviews not be published elsewhere.

w.t. already has commented on it Gail; All the personal reviews are at the bottom of the page.

the old hermit

It doesn't hurt to have more reviews. I helps bring the average rating down.

Re: Speaking Volumes book club: Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller

Here are the commentator's credentials, from the article:

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

As usual, he counters evidence of peak flow by harping on the size of reserves. And, of course, throws in oil shale reserves as if they were the same as conventional oil. Sigh...

The level of willful blockheadedness in some books is truly astounding. I forget the author, but some security policy wonk type wrote a book not long ago claiming that "the" fix for the US's oil dependency was to pass a law requiring all vehicles sold in the US to be E85 capable.

I sincerely apologize to anyone I just made spit coffee or some other beverage all over their computer...

it shouldn't be a problem to have everyone switch to N2O... your choice whether to breathe it or use in your engine...

I remember seeing a video of a seminar by maybe the same guy, telling about his new book. He yapped for 30 minutes about the wonders of E85 as a fuel and energy independence. Not a single word about how one would go about scaling up ethanol production to the required volumes.

At the end I was just wondering whether it was a joke or whether he really is that daft. He seemed entirely serious, though.

Re. Survey: Arctic may hold twice the oil previously found there.

Nature just published a few papers basically saying that we can only use about a quarter of our fossil fuel reserves (or half a trillion tons of carbon). More than that will make a temperature increase of more than 2°C very likely (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7242/full/nature08019.htm).

So, we find some more barrels and bubbles that cannot be used because our quota will be used up before an oil companies get to develop the new fields. Or, they will be developed anyway because:
- who the hell cares about the environment but those stupid greenies
- it's not my business anyway
- I'll be dead when life in Alaska becomes unbearable
- I don't believe in science
- I'm sure Exxon Mobil and the American Enterprise Institute provide accurate and balanced information on climate change, based on sound ideological reasoning

I don't know what's so magic about limiting temperature to 2°C increase. Who have set this number anyway? It's a devestating change to the world that might as well end mankind for the better part.

Anything lower than 2°C seems to be impossible already, and anything more will put us in completely unknown territory. The 2°C increase is the average for the globe, the oceans will see a lower increase, continents a higher increase, and high latitudes a much higher increase than low latitudes. The present increase of 0.7°C already causes problems: todays UN-report claims an annual death-toll of already 300000 now, and harmful effects for 300 million people (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/05/29/annan.climate.change.huma...).

A 2°C average increase in fact means 3-4° for most inland locations. Imagine what this will do to agriculture (especially in view of water availability). If there is enough water, you may switch to other crops. However, many tropical areas are now already at heat-stress limitations for the most heat-resistant crops. So, even if there's water, you may have much lower yields.
If there is no water, there's no agriculture: the likely scenario for Spain, Italy, Balkan countries.

However, agriculture also depends on functioning ecosystems, for example, for pollination, soil bacteria, fungi, insects, for keeping weeds and pests in check, etc. If the temperature increases by 3-4°C, the optimal zone for specific ecosystems shifts by hundreds of kilometers. Some species may be able to move, but many others can't (no legs, no wind-driven seeds, fragmented nature, natural barriers).

The problem is, we don't really know how bad the effects will be. And if we wait and see, we cannot reverse the process.

The highest standard of intellectual acheivment is "todays UN-report claims." Many are well on their way to becomming icons of history by recognizing the UN's superiority in scientific acheivment.

Chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming: 93%, but only if emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced by 60% over the next 10 years.
Chance of avoiding three degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches two degrees and triggers carbon-cycle feedbacks from soils and plants.
Chance of avoiding four degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches three degrees and triggers a runaway thaw of permafrost.
Chance of avoiding five degrees of global warming: negligible if the rise reaches four degrees and releases trapped methane from the sea bed.

Mark Lynas 6 Degrees

Chance of avoiding being "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon"?


In previous interglacials, the temperature has been up to 2 degrees warmer. Possibly the source for the number.

"In previous interglacials, the temperature has been up to 2 degrees warmer."

This is true. But in previous interglacials, the temperature did not rise those two degrees in the course of half a century.

It's like crashing into a wall: if you do it slowly, it doesn't do too much damage. Do it fast, though, and you have a lot of pain... briefly.

Even more to the point, there was no largely immovable civilization in the process of powering down and already in overshoot on a planetary scale.


Never before in human history has energy been accessible in greater abundance in every major region of the world; never before has mankind faced a brighter energy future.

When you read the full article containing the quote that ends with the above sentence, the revelation was made by Lawrence Solomon. From the article

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.

I'm just curious about what is going to happen to Mr. Soloman and his ilk in the future, if they are wrong? Do their investments reflect what they preach? If so, they should be heavily invested in beach-front (close to sea level) real estate, airlines, auto, trucking and other energy intensive industries. I hope they are so they can reap the benefit of their own considered opinions.

I guess that, as long as we can plod along in some semblance of a BAU mode, some people will just not get it, IOW they will continue to hold similar beliefs to those of Mr. Solomon. Sadly this includes a good buddy of mine who continues to spend his spare time indulging in a race car, albeit, a very lightweight one that uses a 1.4L motorcycle engine and gearbox. Although I've tried to present some of the facts to him, he's just not interested. I guess it would mean he'd have to stop playing with his favorite toy, so he won't take P.O. seriously until it's late in the day, just like most of the sheeple. The sad thing is that he is amazing at making/rigging/fixing stuff. Maybe he will be able to adapt quickly but, he's setting himself up to be woefully unprepared.

Got to go check out some more solar PV panels, an inverter and some batteries!

Alan from the islands

Deja Vu all over again- "This is far and away the strongest global economy I've seen in my business lifetime."
- U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson,
July 12 2007

It probably were the strongest global economy ever, the energy use had never been bigger and it built upon generations of technology and investments, but there were even more financial promises...

"Got to go check out some more solar PV panels, an inverter and some batteries!"

found any good deals ? ... I'm looking also.

Maybe here ... http://sunelec.com/

A Conversation with Robert Charles Wilson, Part 3

Brian Francis Slattery: What’s your opinion of James Howard Kunstler?

Robert Charles Wilson: Unlike most science fiction, Kunstler is predicting the future, and I freely borrowed much of the worst-case scenario he presents in The Long Emergency. (You might say the keys to Julian Comstock are Kunstler, Gibbon, and Oliver Optic.) Is he right? Well, he makes a good case for the absolute unsustainability of our way of life. The idea is that we’ve basically fed on oil for 150 years—literally, in the sense that we used oil to bring marginal cropland under cultivation and to create the system by which we transport food worldwide. And like any animal population, our numbers increased accordingly, to such a degree that the system would be strained even if we weren’t facing radical oil depletion. Not to mention the dozens of other potential ecological and economical disasters implicit in the problem.

I don’t think science fiction writers are obliged to be optimists or pessimists. I do believe in the possibility of progress—but not its inevitability.

Intro from interview Part One:

Robert Charles Wilson’s Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America opens on an America 163 years from now that looks a bit like the 19th century but feels, in unexpected and delightful ways, very much like the present. In Julian Comstock, with the demise of oil, America has returned to preindustrial levels of technology. The nation’s calamitous fall—involving a thorough depletion of the population and the collapse of the political system as we know it—is a hazy historical memory, replaced by a larger-feeling country, more sparsely populated and more difficult to control. The much-weakened government vies for authority with the Dominion, a huge religious organization with theocratic aims, while waging a war with a European power for possession of a recently opened Northwest Passage.

That three part Robert Charles Wilson was really interesting. Think I will buy the book.

Hell, I didn't even know there was a movement called Dominionism.

I always figure the whole "American Taliban" thing was just political theater. These people seem pretty serious about it. Even though I live in the south and have heard this sentiment articulated, I didn't think they were that serious. Now that I think back about those conversations I'm reconsidering what was said, and it is kind of scary.

Crunch Looms for Green Technologies as China Tightens Grip on Rare Earth Metals

Japan’s increasingly frantic efforts to lead the world in green technology have put it on a collision course with the ambitions of China and dragged both government and industry into the murky realm of large-scale mineral smuggling.


It seems like anyone who wants to expand in the new "green" high tech ways needs rare earth metals. Perhaps we need to be thinking about this issue.


In my view it's issue No 1: scaling up from the green boutique to mass production, from fairyland to 'reality sucks'.

Four function mathematics. Estimate (say) total quantity of lithium in the earth's crust. Divide (say) by 100 million (representing 100 million batteries for 100 million electric vehicles).

Green private transport? fuggedaboutit.

More here:

Forget peak oil. Are we facing peak lithium?


Forget peak oil. Are we facing peak lithium?


That article is well over two years old, and has seen extensive previous discussion.

Peak oil = Peak everything. The cost of extracting minerals will skyrocket at the same time that our ability to pay for it will sharply decline.

For more on the Lithium delusion.

For more, http://www.resourceinvestor.com/News/2009/4/Pages/Commentary---Nothing-b...

I just bought some Lithium stock...

Another green shoot wilting? :)

Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal

If you want to tell whether someone is conservative or liberal, what are a couple of completely nonpolitical questions that will give a good clue?

How’s this: Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?

And, second: Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.

Reminds me of this article, about how the brain is hard-wired for morality.

If it's hard-wired, how can we disagree so much about the "right" thing to do? There are five elements of morality: harm, fairness, community/loyalty, authority and purity. When people disagree about moral issues, it's because they rank those elements differently.

A lot of it is cultural, but there may be genetic elements as well.

Jonathan Haidt, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, studies the emotional basis of moral judgment and political ideology.


Thanks for the link, FMagyar.

In fact ALL the contributions to the 'Beyond Belief' symposium are first-rate. What a pity there are only 24 hours in a day!

Leanan, Like most generalizations this is just crap. Oh damn, is that a generalization?

The thing I have difficulty with is the emphasis on 'Identifying Liberals and Conservatives' us and them... these have become brands, hometeams, NOT ways of understanding of people's views.

I have liberal beliefs and conservative ones. Things I believe should be protected, things I think should be uprooted and remade. I don't think each of my views should get a Lib/Con rating, and that the final tally would tell you much about me. The average would really mean nothing.

The views towards Challenging Authority, and even 'The Appearance of Challenging Authority' does seem to be an interesting point to follow, because I do think there are parts of that which reflect the American Left and Right to some degree. But leave it to the NY Times to put it in terms which is about as Tabloid as 'Rachel Carson is the Green Pol Pot'. Is that 'Misleading with faint praise'.. or 'How to turn psychology into a Cockfight for fun and profit'

“Minds are very hard things to open, and the best way to open the mind is through the heart,” Professor Haidt says. “Our minds were not designed by evolution to discover the truth; they were designed to play social games.”

Maybe Prof. Haidt wouldn't want to be held too tightly to a comment that he tossed off in some interview, but the assumptions and baggage in statements like this do certainly point to 'Social Games' and not 'Truthseeking', while I know many people who could form a sentence that would make a reasonable link between the truths we have to discern in our Social Relationships, and the Material Facts of the world that we are also eager to study if we are to continue eating, breathing and making a living.

Earlier, there was that broadside from the author stating 'For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.' Yaaagh! This is right up there with the Abu Graib reasoning that 'discovered that Muslims are very sensitive about having their sexuality debased and ridiculed or by being threatened with vicious dogs'

We've come so far! 'Luck be a Gray Lady tonight!'

I agree - putting labels on ideas is just a lazy way to view the world. Once one joins a team, then there is no reason to think anymore, just regurgitate the official line. Further, one cannot consider ideas from the other team, as those must be awful by definition. And while the liberals and conservatives are busy focusing on how much they hate each other, and each others ideas, the wealthy international elite is ripping them off blind. I think it is just how the human mind works - us against them is so easy to fall into, and our two party system only emphasizes this behavior. As best as I can do it, I refuse to participate in that crap anymore.

The equation between an authoritarian personality and right-wing or ‘conservative’ politics is as old as the hills in psychology. It arose after WW2 (Adorno et al.) in an attempt to ‘psychologize’ and illuminate or partly explain fascism, the nazis, etc. Although quite a bit of interesting work was done, and it had some interesting offshoots in social psychology, one can argue that the basic premise, or the original aim (a bit of both actually) was flawed. That is because fascism is an extremism of the center, not of the right. This can be illustrated by US politics today. Anti-authoritarians can be found ‘on the fringes’ - e.g. anarchists, libertarians - and these may be left-shaded or right-shaded in various ways/degrees.

As for the mainstream, were one to compare Bush and Obama on some kind of ‘fascism’ scale, or an authoritarian scale (I mean their policies of course and not their personalities) they would come out about equal, as within the center they wield their authority in a ‘right’ or conservative way (e.g. free market, free reign for business, but no fly lists and the public admission of torture) or in a ‘left’ way (more laws, more gvmt. interference, more coercion, a more humane (?) fight against terrorism, etc.)

The rest is pop psychology with no validity whatsoever. Conservatives may be more fastidious (the door knob or whatever). If so, it is because they are richer, and a richer or more ‘upper’ environment and lifestyle implies more cleanliness and better self protection which includes hygiene. Their conservatism is self-protective as well; they simply support the status quo and those in power or 'at the top' (e.g. are against single payer health care, as it might cost them and certainly remove part of their competitive advantage.)

Don't know about my father Leanan; But I distinctly remember one time my Mother slapped me for saying something, and instinctivly I slapped her back, without warning. You should have seen the look on her face when I did that. Of course I grabbed her in a bear hug and apologized.

the old hermit

In addition to there being components of morality, there are also levels of moral awareness. Kohlberg suggested there are six stages, ranging from punishment/obedience through lawfulness to universal ethical principles.

Just taking those two perspectives, if someone were to claim that certain sexual practices are immoral, they might invoke their religious beliefs (authority). And they might say those practices are immoral because you'll go to Hell (punishment) or because it's forbidden in a commandment (lawfulness) or because a sexual union is intended to be between a man and woman (universal principles).

And aside from ranking elements differently, and different levels of awareness, there can also be differences in perception and understanding about the situation in question. "Did he or did he not have sex with that cow?"

And aside from all that, if you are discussing moral considerations, there is also the problem that language itself can be an inaccurate conveyor of meaning. "That's my sister you're trash-talking, dude. Don't call her a cow, she's just big-boned."

All things considered, it's maybe a wonder we're all not beating each other to death left and right. Maybe a wonder, or maybe a pacifying cheap energy bubble.

More tax payer money poured into a (Fiat/Chrysler) blackhole?


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.

Chrysler and its "partners," plus the Department of Energy, would pay $224 million each should the proposals be approved and would include an investment of up to $83 million to build a new technology and manufacturing center in Michigan to help develop and assemble these vehicles

Chrysler said on Tuesday the vehicles it aimed to develop include the Dodge Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid, the Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid and the Chrysler Town & Country electric vehicle.

The plan would also include $365 million for a national demonstration fleet of more than 365 test vehicles for select customers and partners.

So the taxpayers are going to come up with $224 million via loans to Chrysler and $224 million from the Government to build an $83 million tech center building for Italian Fiat (formerly Chrysler) and $365 million to build 365 cars (that is a cool $1,000,000 per car!) And you will notice that the vehicles that they will be building are all full size vehicles - ie a Ram 1500 pickup and full size cars. NO economy vehicles. Yup, going to be a great success!
Sounds like a bargain to me? No billion$ involved? Everyone here going to buy one of the 365 million dollar cars?

Now that the Government is going to forgive (ie never collect repayment) of the 13+ billion already given to Chrysler and Government Motors I thin it is only fair that they loan (ie give) 5 or 10 billion to Ford to do what ever they want with?
And how about all the other auto manufacturing companies that have invested billions of their own money to build and operate manufacturing plants here in the USA and employ US workers?

I wish I had the money to go out and buy a Ford!

Europe Listens for U.S. Train Whistle

Europe's engineering and rail companies are lining up for some potentially lucrative U.S. contracts for high-speed rail projects.

At stake is $13 billion in stimulus funds that the Obama administration is allocating to upgrade existing rail lines and build new ones that could one day rival Europe's fastest.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled through Europe this week, riding France's 200 mile-per-hour bullet train, and meeting officials from several companies eager for U.S. orders.

In the article linked above New fuel standards aren’t as tough as they look

A 35 MPG CAFE standard corresponds roughly to a 26 MPG EPA standard, according to the automotive information Web site Edmunds.com, a 40 percent increase from present levels. Edmunds.com reports that this is met already by 29 car models and 36 truck models. Half these trucks and one third of the cars are made by domestic automakers.

I imagine the issue is that all of the goofy credits for flex-fuel vehicles and the like continue, so the 35 MPG looks good, but as long as the low mileage cars are made flex-fuel, they don't count in the in the calculation the same way. So the new regulation really does far less than the headlines made it sound.

Baker Hughes is reporting that the US rig count dropped by 1 overall. Gas directed rigs dropped by 8. The fall in drilling continues, but not as fast as last week.

doe's monthly (march)ng report here:


dry gas production: 58 bcfd, a recent history peak.

consumption down 5% from '08 ytd.

lng imports 1 bcfd, nothing dramatic.

Thanks for pointing this out.

It seems like it is really difficult to balance natural gas supply and demand. One almost needs someone overseeing the whole operation, and setting an appropriate price for the designated ones who are chosen to produce this week.

It seems like gas is always boom or bust. With only a little storage, one cannot set gas away for a rainy day. Some electricity can be switched from coal to natural gas production, but that depends on contracts, prices, and other factors. So far, it doesn't look like that has had much impact on total gas demand.

It seems like it is really difficult to balance natural gas supply and demand. One almost needs someone overseeing the whole operation, and setting an appropriate price for the designated ones who are chosen to produce this week.

To the extent that one can modulate excess supply that way. Better would be some good modeling of supply/demand. Modeling which takes into account the various lags in the system, such as industries planning to use NG because it is currently cheap, but the plant construction might take half a natural gas cycle (boom to bust to boom) and end up with disastrous timing. Similarly for those drilling new wells, it would be invaluable to know about a coming price collapse, before drilling, rather than after, or half way through when your sunk costs are too great to pull out of.

enemy -- There are departments in every medium to big company that runs such models daily. The problem they all face is the economic model. Supply side modeling isn't that difficult. As you point out the system can only change so fast (new construction or drilling programs, etc). But the supply side calcs are worthless if you don't get the demand side correct. A look back at the last 12 months shows that painfully clear.

Now give me a fairly accurate demand model for the next 5 to 10 years and I promise the industry will supply the reserves as needed. Without that model we're just stumbling in the dark like everyone else IMO.

enemy -- There are departments in every medium to big company that runs such models daily. The problem they all face is the economic model. Supply side modeling isn't that difficult. As you point out the system can only change so fast (new construction or drilling programs, etc). But the supply side calcs are worthless if you don't get the demand side correct. A look back at the last 12 months shows that painfully clear.

Now give me a fairly accurate demand model for the next 5 to 10 years and I promise the industry will supply the reserves as needed. Without that model we're just stumbling in the dark like everyone else IMO.

With regard to "Wind Energy: Too Much of a Good Thing", the notion that wind development in West Texas may reduce overall ERCOT marginal cost, is no surprise, and is good for society.

As Jerome a Paris said on May 6, 2009 in his piece on the Oil Drum, "The cost of wind, the price of wind, the value of wind",

'As the graph above suggests, the impact on price of significant wind injections is high throughout the day, and highest at times of high demand. When there's a lot of wind, you end up with prices that get flattened at the price of base load, i.e. the marginal cost of nukes or coal, and wind no longer has any influence on price.
But the consequence of this is that the more wind you have into the system, the lower the price for electricity. With gas, it's the opposite: the more gas you need, the higher the price will be (in the short term, because you need more expensive plants to be turned on; in the long run because you push the demand for gas up, and thus the price of gas, and thus of gas-burning plants, up). In fact, if you get to a significant share of wind in a system that uses market prices, you get to a point where wind drives prices down to levels where wind power loses money all the time! (That may sound impossible, but it does happen because the difference between the low marginal cost and the higher long term cost is so big).

There are two lessons here:
· wind power has a strongly positive effect for consumers, by driving prices down for them during the day.
· it is difficult for wind power generators to make money under market mechanisms unless wind penetration remains very low; this means that if wind is seen as a desirable, ways need to be found to ensure that the revenues that wind generators actually get for electricity are not driven by the market prices that they make possible.

That's actually the point of feed-in tariffs, which provide stable, predictable revenue to wind producers, and ensure that their maximum production is injected into the system at all times, which influences market prices by making supply of more expensive producers unnecessary. And these tariffs make sense for consumers. The higher fixed price is added to the bill for the buyers of electricity, but as that bill is lower than it would have otherwise been, the actual cost is much lower than it appears. As I've noted in earlier diaries, studies in Germany, Denmark and Spain prove that the net cost of feed-in tariffs in these countries is actually negative, i.e. a apparent fixed cost imposed on consumers ends up reducing their bills!'


Assuming that wind developers are rational and do not install too much capacity, why should the bubble burst?


Wind may have a strongly positive effect for customers on hour to hour and day to day on electricity prices, but ultimately, this doesn't make a whole lot of difference. The utilities need to stay in business, so need to get enough money to pay back their debt and pay for fuel and the cost of employees. Wind can't make enough to finance its own costs at the low rates other electricity producers receive, either. It always needs some sort of subsidy. So if rates are pushed down one place, needed subsidies for wind, and needed rate increases for other fuels, are pushed up. Since wind costs more than any of the other electric sources, ultimately costs to the consumers (electricity prices or taxes to pay for subsidies) have to rise.

Denmark hasn't built new wind for several years, but is talking about it now. Its material talks about the need for subsidies.

Wind needs subsidies, almost anywhere in the world it is installed. If the subsidies look too good, too much wind will be installed. According to this article, in Spain,

The government promotes clean fuels by letting generators charge as much as 10 times more for power from the sun or wind than from burning coal. The premium, added to bills of homes and businesses, has spawned a solar-investment boom by utilities. .

Hello TODers,

Can you "Remember when the Music"...

Are there any kids today that are tightly hugging their bags of NPK?

304-bushel corn — in 1955?

He was the rock star of corn.

..A state record corn yield of 179 bushels in 1950 for his first 4-H project, when he was just 10-1/2 years old...

..“I broke it deep, rowed it up in 28-inch rows, subsoiled, and used 30 wagonloads of barnyard manure, 1,200 pounds of Vigoro fertilizer, 1,000 pounds of soda, and planted Dixie 17, thinned to 12 inches, cultivated once.”

..“I made the crop with our eight-year-old mule, Dolly.

..I’d get up in the middle of the night, go down there with a shovel and a coal oil lantern, wading barefooted in mud ankle deep, to turn the water across to another row.

..After my first state record yield, companies gave us some 13-13-13 fertilizer and that made a big difference. We’d dump fertilizer in the irrigation water and you could almost see the corn change color before your very eyes. It was beautiful, and people came from all over to take photos.”
Are there any kids today that have abandoned their videogaming record attempts to pursue new agriculture records? Try to wrap your mind around the concept of a postPeak pre-teen working in the midnight loam with only the feeble light "of the cold-hearted orb that rules the night..."

That is certainly not 'Nights in White Satin, never reaching the end..."

How many kids will yearn to feel the 'white satin' of beneficiated fertilizers slipping from their fingers to the final square foot below? Borlaug: Without I-NPK, Game Over!

How many will fall to their knees to stir in the O-NPK they so laboriously saved?

"Remember when the music
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for time was just a line,
It was a gift we saved, a gift the future gave..."

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

Can you hear the very faint music 'that sets our minds afire' when very gentle winds blow across Spiderwebs 'strung with silver wire'?


"Remember when the music
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day.."--Harry Chapin

Or will we prefer the agonizing screams of a Nuhautl Tlameme?

An Indian woman carries a load of firewood on her head as she crosses the desert of The Little Rann of Kutch in the Kharaghoda region some 120 kms north-west of Ahmedabad on March 7, 2008, on the eve of International Womens Day. The woman regularly embarks on a journey of some twelve kilometres from Kharaghoda to a forested area to gather firewood to sell. One load would sell for sixty Indian Rupees (USD 1.48).

..“I broke it deep, rowed it up in 28-inch rows, subsoiled, and used 30 wagonloads of barnyard manure, 1,200 pounds of Vigoro fertilizer, 1,000 pounds of soda, and planted Dixie 17, thinned to 12 inches, cultivated once.”

Todays corn fields have many more stalks per lineal foot than when I was a boy living in southern Minnesota. The growth in yields has happened due to the ability for more corn plants to occupy the same ground after adding huge amounts of I-NPK. I remember (late 1960's early 1970's) the rows being over 12 inches apart because we could run between them without knocking them down, just had to watch out for the pig manure distributed early in the season. Furthermore, as one drove past a corn field you could see between the corn crosswise to a row due to the corn being spaced 10 to 12 inches or more in the rows.

Today the corn is planted maybe 6 to 8 inches apart in rows (from my casual observation in central Illinois this week) and doused with generous amounts of anhydrous and phosphate. Greatly reduce this I-NPK and the ears would be half as large per stalk IMO. Planting in closer spacing without the NPK would have the effect of reducing the yield to less than if the spacing was larger.

I am not a farmer but my grandfather raised corn and wheat on his family's farm, and later his farm, until the 1930's made it uneconomical.

Hello Mbnewtrain,

Thxs for your reply full of info. I am a helpless city-boy still trapped in Asphaltistan.:(

As I am always trying to stay on the leading, bleeding edge of Peak Outreach and pushing for Optimal Overshoot Decline, I am vastly concerned with how we can blunt the BAU-push of the Iron Triangle by somehow coming up with a needed 'visceral punch' to engage the young for what lies ahead.

We need artists, musicians, photographers, and film-makers who can create memes much more powerful than our dry statistics. I don't have the moving eloquence, the story-telling magnificence, the acutely focused microscopical and macrotopical visions of what will be done, for what must surely come. Who will be 'Calling Wildfire..?

IMO, We need to somehow jumpstart 'Synaptic Wildfires' to 'Reload' the generations ahead for the awesome task that is being presented for them. I have previously linked other postings of mine to this moving video and also the high horsepower video of Remember when the Music in a crisp, Spring Montana dawn:

Wildfire Reloaded [4:52]
I dream of "a hootowl, howling outside the window now, for six nights in a row" outside of every child's window saying, Who,WHO,WHO--until they fully awaken and become Peak Outreach alert.

This young boy, the Rock Star of Corn in the weblinked posting above "..so by the dark of the moon he planted.." We also need to be so determined and forthright.

My guess is that, at times, he also rode a horse bareback like the young lad in the opening scene of this Youtube video. Can it be that obvious significance can be found by looking deep into the dark eyes of a rearing, ebony-crude horse, as its flailing front legs clearly semaphores the unceasing pace of cascading blowbacks?

Will those that are now 10 years-old have the same chance to offset their record labors by a respite; a vital release to even so briefly "..leave sod-busting behind and go riding Wildfire...to get the hard times right out of our minds"?

Or are they doomed to be trampled into bleached bones, dust, and obscurity by the Ride of the Four Horsemen? Can they truly see the Call for Innate Territoriality for the essential space to breathe and ride Free? Are these Steeds vital for our postPeak Needs--I think they are, as is the full Circle of Life.

Listen, REALLY LISTEN to the 'Silver Strings' of the piano, guitars, and other instruments==>What intricate Webs of Sound! Imagine, REALLY IMAGINE the Fresh Morning Dew springing from each individually vibrated strand. Can it be as beautifully synchronous as the slow motion movement of horses with their wind-tossed manes?

I have already posted that we need to name our wheelbarrows, just as we name our pets. IF I ever get the chance to try SpiderWebRiding: I wish to name my railbike Wildfire and sing this song as I feel my knees in the oh-so-smooth rolling breeze... and I want it to rain as I sing the refrain. I want the SpiderWeb tracks to be covered "..in dew from the cold Nebraska night".

What will other TODers think when they are old and looking up at the stars and your last Moon as your final campfire flickers out [as in the video]?

Will it be in a truly parched and desolate landscape such as the Desert of the Little Rann of Kutch, or will it be in a glorious and verdant Web handbuilt with our Personal Touch?

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

Hello TODers,

Recall my many speculative 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' postings as you read this weblink:

APOLLO BEACH - Mosaic Fertilizer has plans for a massive fertilizer warehouse that could save shipping and storage costs for the company over the long run.

A rezoning for the 500,000 square-foot warehouse, that would be constructed at the Big Bend Phosphate Terminal in Apollo Beach is scheduled to go before the Hillsborough County zoning hearing master July 27.
Since the UN FAO Fert Forecast [see my prior discussion] projects North America to be headed into a massive P-deficit: IMO, it only makes sense to build facilities for the storage of I-NPK products. Moroccan P transshipped across the pond will become increasingly strategic postPeak. If you recall my Ft. Knox scenario: we don't want to go in that direction if we can avert it.

EDIT: Are politicians finally beginning to realize the promise and peril of depleting Element P?

Phosphate Holdings, Inc. Announces That Senator C. Trent Lott and W. Thomas Jagodinski Have Been Elected to Its Board of Directors

Hello TODers,

Recall that Morocco is the USA's oldest ally. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will Minemakers be invited into the Phosphate Group ala Webb/Pomerene Act and other legal Acts?

A MINING company has entered into a $100 million contract to export phosphate through the Port of Darwin.

Minemakers operates the Wonarah project just north of the Barkly Highway on the Queensland border.

Minemakers estimates the Wonarah resource at 130 million tonnes, which could sustain a 30-year mining operation.

The Territory mine would break a long-standing world monopoly held by the King of Morocco.


CBS has an article today about the recent run up in the price of gasoline. There's no mention of the fact that the gasoline demand is only slightly below last year at this date. Also left out is any mention of those crafty Arabs who have set reduced production quotas thru OPEC and who just announced that they weren't going to change those quotas any time soon. Of course, the basic fact that population continues to increase, pushing up the implied demand for transport fuel, is also ignored.

And these guys get paid for this insightful stuff? Or, are they paid to spew disinformation in order to keep the sheeple in line? I get it, they are writing in the business section and all they can speak to is $$$$$$$.

E. Swanson

Need some help, on a completely different topic. As most of you know, the ASPO conference this year is October 11-13 in Denver, and will be a combined ASPO-USA and ASPO-International conference, so there are substantially more international aspects to the topics and speaker roster.

I'm currently trying to reach Richard O'Rourke (organizer of Cork conference, 2007) and Pedro Prieta / Daniel Gomez (organizers of Barcelona conference, 2008). My email addresses may be out of date as they haven't responded after 2 attempts. I know some of you speak to them or email occasionally. Can you please send me any contact information you have?

Please send to: dlawrence (at) aspo-usa (dot) com


dlawrence2 (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Best wishes,
Dick Lawrence
2009 ASPO Conference Organizing Committee

According to the DOE, domestic water heating accounts for eight per cent of all U.S. residential electricity demand, or some 110 billion kWh/year. Heat pump water heaters can effectively cut these numbers in half, and with this announcement, the work begins in earnest.

GE plant to make water heaters

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Boosted by $12.5 million in state and local tax incentives, General Electric unveiled plans yesterday to invest $69 million in Appliance Park to produce energy-efficient water heaters by 2011.

See: http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20090529/GREEN01/905290327/1008/N...

And from the great state of Maine, a family who posts their electricity consumption online for all to see (in real time) as well as their ongoing efforts to use it more wisely.



I have always wondered why the waste heat from AC systems could not produce hot water. On a hot day (80 deg F ambient or higher) the temp of the condensor coil is often close to 180 deg. F for higher pressure systems that use latest refrigerants. Instead of rejecting this heat (energy) to the atmosphere why not use this energy to heat domestic water? Seems like the AC manufacturers that could produce such a combined system would have a huge market, especially where nat. gas is not available.

My guess is that the water heater/AC combination system would eliminate the need for any electric energy to be used for making hot water in the summer.

GE does have a good idea, though.

It comes down to capital cost versus marginal cost often. Before hooking up some system that does coutilization of waste heat, simple ice-storage air conditioning systems are avaliable to vastly reduce electricity costs by purchasing off peak.

One of the most common heating systems for small houses in Sweden is to use a heat pump that picks up heat from outgoing ventilation air and then either heat the floors with a low temperature system or use medium temperature water radiators and also warm the hot water. Low temperature heating makes the heat pump more efficient, it needs more electricity to get to tap-water temperatures.

This system is popular since it needs less ducts and fans then a heat exchanger system for the ventilation, it provides cheap hot water and it is a nice revenue generating feature for the housing industry. It is mostly used on new builds but it is one of very few heat recovery systems that is reasonable to install in old houses.

It usually isent enough for heating a house unless you got lots of PC:s and flat screen TV:s ;-) It is often combined with some resistive electric heating wich anyway is a backup almost everybody installs, a low kW pellet stove, a heavy wood burning stove or an additiona heat pump loop that often is a ground source one. Some also combines it with solar heating but I guess only about 1/20 build a combined over invested system for the fun and bragging rights.

It is so far fairly uncommon to install AC systems for summer cooling but it seems to be a slow trend for more installations. Its not uncommon for ground source heat pumps to have a passive cooling loop that simply cirulates the fluid in the grund loop thru a cooling baffle. The most popular "cooling" feature seems to be installing awings for south facing windows.

Hi mbnewtrain,

Such technology does exist and goes by the convoluted name of desuperheater or desuperheating. It's more commonly used in the commercial sector where domestic hot water requirements are generally much higher and/or a source of waste heat is available all or near year round (restaurants and laundry mats come to mind). In residential applications, initial cost, as noted above, and plumbing considerations can be limiting factors.

In areas where air conditioning and dehumidification are welcome side benefits, a heat pump water heater (HPWH) is a great opportunity to gain two services for the price of one. I live in a maritime climate and my dehumidifier runs virtually non-stop April through October, and thus a HPWH would provide all the free hot water I require seven months out of twelve; needless to say, it's something that would be of significant benefit to me. Note that even during the winter months it would still be cost-effective as our home is heated with an air source heat pump with a seasonal COP of 2.5 to 3.0; the heat consumed by the HPWH during the heating season is still far less costly than either electric resistance or oil, the two fuels I use for DHW now.


Hello TODers,

If you recall my earlier posting series on Antarctica and subglacial caldera volcanism in the WAIS, then you might consider adding these two weblinks to your memory file:

JAKARTA (AFP) – A massive underwater mountain discovered off the Indonesian island of Sumatra could be a volcano with potentially catastrophic power, a scientist said Friday.

..The cone-shaped mountain is 4,600 metres (15,100 feet) high, 50 kilometres in diameter at its base and its summit is 1,300 metres below the surface, he said.

"It looks like a volcano because of its conical shape but it might not be. We have to conduct further investigations," he told AFP.
Consider that this could also easily be hidden in the Bentley Subglacial Trench, as it is the size of Mexico, or any other numerous spots in Antarctica.

Smoke haze from Victoria's devastating bushfires has become trapped in the atmosphere above Antarctica.

The ferocity of the fires has seen smoke reach heights never seen before and it has now traveled south.

..The intensity of the Victorian bushfires acted like a chimney, sucking smoke into the atmosphere and creating a fire-generated thunderstorm known as a pyrocumulonimbus.

.."They are in a location of our atmosphere where they will last for a long time."
Due to Circumpolar winds and atmospheric isolation: even a short term, surface-breaching volcanic event could have very prolonged, sustained effects upon Antarctica. Recall my speculative posting of chocolate icing on a white cake.

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

Hello TODers,

Nearly every state park in the Bay Area — from the towering redwoods at Big Basin to Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais to Mount Diablo and every state beach from Año Nuevo in San Mateo County to Big Sur — would close as part of budget cuts proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In all, 220 of California's 279 state parks, about 80 percent, would be padlocked starting as soon as Labor Day, under details of a historic closing plan released Thursday night by the state parks department.
What now remains to be seen is if Earthmarines will arise to keep people out to protect this biodiversity at all costs, and possibly enlarge these habitats over time going forward, OR if the weakened social apparatus will allow illegal drug growers, poachers, loggers, toxic waste dumpers, and other invaders to gradually trash and decimate these pristine areas. Time will tell..