Drumbeat: July 28, 2009

An Important Greentech Bill You Need to Know: STORAGE

Why is it so important? Here are the basics:

In the same way that tax credits have been an important part of boosting the installation of renewable energy generation, the storage bill would provide an investment tax credit of 20 percent for grid-connected energy storage with a size of at least 2 MW that can deliver 500 kWh for 4 hours, and a 30 percent investment tax credit for residential energy storage gear. In addition, the bill would enable utility energy storage to be paid for by clean energy bonds.

According to a statement by Sen. Ron Wyden, who introduced the bill, tax credits could be used for “individual homeowners with plug-in hybrid vehicles,” businesses buying “thermal cooling systems,” (like Ice-Energy’s ice-powered cooling technology), and factories that want to “install biomass equipment to generate steam to power some of the machinery.”

Mines could provide geothermal energy

Mine shafts on the point of being closed down could be used to provide geothermal energy to local towns. This is the conclusion of two engineers from the University of Oviedo, whose research is being published this month in the journal Renewable Energy. The method they have developed makes it possible to estimate the amount of heat that a tunnel could potentially provide.

Offshore wind could be next wave for U.S.

The United States has experienced a surge in investment in wind power over the past four years, more than tripling its ability to turn wind into electricity. But construction has been entirely on land and largely in America's rural midsection -- leaving open the costly challenge of how to transmit power to the densely populated coasts where it is most needed.

That could be changing. Developers have proposed wind farms off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Jersey to meet the electricity needs of the East Coast.

Greenpeace study finds oil companies may be doomed

Environmental activist network argues that the oil industry might be approaching a tipping point from fall in the price, advances in technology and policies on climate change

Greenpeace also contends that a high oil price is simply unsustainable. It cites research from Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which suggests that economies become constrained when the price moves into a band between $100 and $120 a barrel, causing the price to fall back. Another report from energy business analysts Douglas Westwood puts the "recession threshold" even lower, at $80 a barrel.

FACTBOX-Oil production cost estimates by country

The International Energy Agency (IEA) -- in its latest November 2008 world energy outlook -- gave the following estimates for the all-in costs of producing oil from various types of hydrocarbons in different parts of the world:

Oilfields Estimated Production
/source Costs ($ 2008)
Mideast/N.Africa oilfields 6 - 28
Other conventional oilfields 6 - 39
CO2 enhanced oil recovery 30 - 80
Deep/ultra-deep-water oilfields 32 - 65
Enhanced oil recovery 32 - 82
Arctic oilfields 32 - 100
Heavy oil/bitumen 32 - 68
Oil shales 52 - 113
Gas to liquids 38 - 113
Coal to liquids 60 - 113

Source: International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2008

ASPO-USA: An Interview with Ray Leonard

Question: You worked in Kuwait. What do you see as the future of OPEC production?

Leonard: If you go country by country and look at production histories in post-peak countries, the first step to notice is where the production starts to flatten out. The next step is to look at domestic demand, and that usually keeps rising. The OPEC countries have a tendency to subsidize internal markets; that leads to rapidly rising internal consumption. Venezuela and Iran are good examples. Indonesia shows the next step, flat production with rising domestic demand that leads to steadily narrowing exports; now, with their exports gone, Indonesia is no longer a member of OPEC. One by one, the other members of OPEC will fall into that same category. Venezuela and Iran are two countries with a future like Indonesia’s. Eventually, OPEC is going to consist of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates; they’ll be the last three.

As production in the Rest of World drops, OPEC is going to have sway for a certain amount of time; it will be the Golden Age of OPEC. As demand recovers sometime over the next five years, OPEC will have everyone else at a choke point, and that will last for a while.

European power from the desert is a Fata Morgana

The Desertec project “Power for Northern Europe from the Sahara desert" is a Fata Morgana. The initiators know: There is no prospect of success. But for all that Desertec could be a good idea indeed. If the aim were to enable the Sahara countries to make the transition to energy generation completely from renewable sources, I would fully agree to the Desertec plan. The EU would make both an essential contribution towards stable economic and social prospects for the southern Mediterranean countries and to fighting climate change. Given their solar and wind power potentials, these countries would even be able to completely move to renewable energy for their electricity supply within less than 20 years. The beneficial effect to their economies would be much stronger compared with exporting power to Europe.

There are several essential reasons that the Desertec concept presented today for large-scale solar power exports to Europe is highly questionable. The expected costs are artificially down rated, while the possibilities to save costs when building the high voltage direct current transmission lines are highly overestimated.

Exploration Fuel

His Energy Futures group has just done a simulation of Canadian gas supplies for a government agency, and he believes the results will worry – or should worry – oil sands producers. “Without significant development of Canada’s unconventional gas and a significant reduction in natural gas use,” he says, “Canada will become a net importer somewhere between 2023 and 2030. Even with development of unconventional gas and a less aggressive shift towards natural gas supplied electricity, Canada may become a net importer by about 2050.”

Germans lament post-Communism decline

Every year, 12 million tonnes of Russian crude oil are processed here, into diesel, jet fuel and petrol - a tenth of the oil refined in Germany.

But this business also has a human story to tell, of the extraordinary jolting change that happened in the eastern part of Germany after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

New rules on natural gas to close up ‘Enron loophole'

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission imposed rules on natural gas swaps on the IntercontinentalExchange, tightening the so-called “Enron loophole” that exempted the contracts from regulation.

“To protect the American public, it is essential that we bring transparency and accountability to the marketplace,” Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement Monday. “Bringing this natural gas contract under the CFTC's regulatory authority is a critical step toward ensuring a fair and orderly marketplace.”


Something like a week remains before General Motors is reduced to lunch meat on industrial-capital's All-You-Can-Eat buffet spread. The wish is that its deconstructed pieces will re-organize into a "lean, mean machine" for producing "cars that Americans want to buy," and that, by extension, the American Dream of a Happy Motoring economy may be extended a while longer.

This fantasy rests on some assumptions that just don't "pencil out." One is that the broad American car-owning public can continue to buy their cars the usual way, on credit. The biggest emerging new class in America is the "former middle class." Credit kept the remnants of the middle class going for decades after their incomes stopped growing in the 1970s. Now, their incomes have stopped coming in altogether and they are sinking into swamp of entropy already occupied by the tattoo-for-lunch-bunch. Of course, this has plenty of dire sociopolitical implications.

Pipeline Firms Widen Natural-Gas Networks

A profound geographic shift in U.S. natural-gas drilling is leading pipeline companies to expand into new territories, even as prices for the fuel appear stuck in a lengthy slump.

A few years ago, pipeline companies were focused on moving plentiful natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to hungry Northeastern markets. Today's challenge is building enough infrastructure to handle the flood of gas now being pumped out of shale-rock formations in Appalachia and the Southeast.

Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest On Record For June

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880.

A Biofuel Process to Replace All Fossil Fuels

A startup unveils a high-yield process for making fuel from carbon dioxide and sunlight.

A startup based in Cambridge, MA--Joule Biotechnologies--today revealed details of a process that it says can make 20,000 gallons of biofuel per acre per year. If this yield proves realistic, it could make it practical to replace all fossil fuels used for transportation with biofuels. The company also claims that the fuel can be sold for prices competitive with fossil fuels.

Joule Biotechnologies grows genetically engineered microorganisms in specially designed photobioreactors. The microorganisms use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol or hydrocarbon fuels (such as diesel or components of gasoline). The organisms excrete the fuel, which can then be collected using conventional chemical-separation technologies.

Iraq to Hold Roadshow Aug 25 on 2nd Round Oil, Gas Deals

Unlike in the first round, there will be no soft loans attached to the second-round service contracts, but signature bonuses will be instated in a tender protocol to be issued in few weeks, the official said.

The second bidding round, unlike the first round's producing fields, covers mostly undeveloped fields. Some small oil fields were grouped together.

Traders Blamed for Oil Spike

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission plans to issue a report next month suggesting speculators played a significant role in driving wild swings in oil prices -- a reversal of an earlier CFTC position that augurs intensifying scrutiny on investors.

In a contentious report last year, the main U.S. futures-market regulator pinned oil-price swings primarily on supply and demand. But that analysis was based on "deeply flawed data," Bart Chilton, one of four CFTC commissioners, said in an interview Monday.

The CFTC's new review, due to be released in August, adds fuel to a growing debate over financial investors who bet on the direction of commodities prices by buying contracts tied to indexes. These speculators have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in contracts that were once dominated by producers and consumers who sought to hedge against oil-market volatility.

The review also reflects shifting political winds.

China relaxes one-child rule to beat pension crisis

Fears that an ageing population could be left unable to support itself mean that China's biggest city and financial centre, Shanghai, is overhauling the decades-old One Child Policy and encouraging couples to have a second baby.

Many couples will be excluded from the new diktat, but if both parents were an only child, like most newly-weds in the city, they will be encouraged to conceive again, in an effort to ensure that the city's workforce is not outnumbered by its pensioners.

Oil Rises, But Will Rally Continue?

Short term, our fate is going to be determined by the stock market," said Phil Flynn, the vice president in charge of research for PFG Best in Chicago. "I think that we're being supported on oil because we're seeing better than expected earnings and better than expected housing numbers."

Being ignored in the market right now, bearish fundamentals will ultimately prevail Flynn advised.

"There's a possibility that we could see oil get into the $30s by the end of the year," he predicted. "We could get a major move to the downside. Obviously there are a lot of variables that could change that, but I think long term the fundamentals are bearish."

Sulphur feels weight of oversupply

Like in 2007, sulphur is in excess once again with prices as low as $45/tonne in March 2009. In some cases, refineries even had to pay to remove their sulphur, such as in the USA or Mexico with fertiliser producer Grupo Fertinal being paid to accept molten sulphur from US and Venezuelan refineries (IM April ’09, p.36: Fertiliser loses its mineral appetite). . .

He added: “From tight market conditions and resulting high prices, it went rather quickly in the opposite direction, affected by similar conditions impacting phosphate fertilisers, its major end use.”

Russian Consortium Visits Venezuelan Oil Fields

Russia's deputy premier and company officials from a Russian oil consortium visited Venezuela's eastern oil-producing region Monday, an area where it plans to drill for extra-heavy crude.

They were accompanied throughout the region by Venezuela Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who said he hopes to finalize a deal with the Russians by September. . .

The Russians could be involved in up to 1.2 million barrels a day of production in Venezuela if they were to win the bidding in the Carabobo and meet drilling expectations at the Junin 6 block, Ramirez said.

Hello people,

there was an DLL issue with my PO software last week, but it has been resolved now.




China relaxes one-child rule to beat pension crisis

It seems like it is going to be very difficult to get any area, long term, to agree to a one-child rule. If a government looks at the situation, there will be way too few people to fund pension plans. If individual families look at the situation, they will realize that the chance their one child will be alive, and be able to support them, is not high enough--especially if there is a spouse, whose parents also need to be supported.

Not to worry. Dieoff will take care of the elderly. Assuming that resources are unlimited, having multiple children makes sense. In a resource constrained world, those children will be too busy taking care of themselves.

Another issue is that if one only has one child, one has more resources left to support one's parents.

I suspect the truth lies somewhere inbetween.

With a few siblings around, there are more configurations available for housing and caring for aging parents.

For many places in the world, your offspring ARE a resource, not a burden. But it's always a balancing act against the local ecosystem and strung on an axis of luck.

Not to worry: The new health plan will take care of them. Give the old people a pill instead of required surgery and tell them of the benefits of assisted suicide when they can't get around any longer.

Your congress in action.

Sounds like the old health plan to me.

It does.

Beyond which, with the old health plan, Merck and Glaxo have been invited to charge us Regally for the pill.. 'OneBite Macht Frei' (Frei Markt, anyway)

The congresscriters can have my pill, and I hope that they do swallow it. That might be the best thing they have ever done.

The pill is for the hoi polloi - Congress gets their own special health care plan.

Yea, that is exactly what happens in all those awful socialist dikatorships such as Canada, Sweden, Germany, France, England, Spain, Japan, Australia...

Yep, in all those societies for the last thirty years people have had to report to carousel for renewal when their lifeclocks turn red and flash during Lastday.

First Genesis literalists (Earth 6,000 years old and such), then birthers, now the same ilk are spreading the rumor that a new health care plan will terminate everyone over thirty.

Some folks who preach LTG, PowerDown, Dieoff, and personal sacrifice cannot stomach cost controls on health care inflation when it is their pink butts on the line.

One might think that there could be some middle ground for a reasonable alternative between the extremes of: a) insisting on the absolute entitlement of 89 year olds, who are living encyclopedias of every chronic disease known to man, to public-financed transplants of every transplantable organ; and b) begrudging even an aspirin to anyone over 65 with a headache, and giving not-so-subtle reminders to the oldsters that it really would be better if they died and got out of the way sooner rather than later.

Just train every doctor to be like Greg House.
He is either brilliant enough to fix them or caustic enough to make them want to die.


I believe that another confounding issue is the fact that many chose to accept only male children and there are now not enough spouses for all these male babies. Which changes the question from who will look after my parents to who will look after me?
Unintended consequences indeed.

Other than the slippery slope argument (or is it the camels nose argument), this is less of a change then the headline suggests. A one child policy would have population levels dropping by more than two with each succeeding generation. Allowing a few to have two only changes that population decay number, but doesn't change the fundamental long term decline. Unless they start allowing significant numbers to have more than two kids this dynamic won't change.

In the long run yes, but when China implemented its one child policy, and birth rate fell below replacement level (2.1 ish) the population
continued to grow, and is still growing a generation later. This is because of the demographic bulge of the last generation of mass births.
That can take multiple generations to work its way through the numbers. Not helped by the older generation living longer....

Of course this does not prevent a huge demographic imbalance between the old and the young, making massive economic contraction almost inevitable, and a miserable old age for hundreds of millions, but that was (and is) better than mass starvation, if that can still be prevented.

Also, the cultural preference for boys in both China and India further accelerate the demographic effect - as well as store up more political and social unrest for the future.

We all live in interesting times. At least the Chinese plan ahead.

Walking the Land Where the Drilling Rigs Will Go

Places we never thought we'd see nat-gas drilling rigs - the Catskill rolling hills, where I was born (my father was a farmer there for 10 years) - are now fair game. This is the increasingly divisive issue troubling the farmers and vacation-home owners there.

- Dick Lawrence

I spent a weekend near Hancock, N.Y., along the East Branch of the Delaware River. This is an old fishing haunt of mine and in some ways, not a lot has changed. The woods were bright with leaves, and there was still a sharp boundary between well-kept farms and the wildness beyond.

There is plenty of change in the Catskills, much of it driven by energy development. The great scar of the Millennium Pipeline, which will someday bring natural gas from Ontario to New York City, comes straight over the mountains and down to the river. Yet that is nothing when measured against the huge changes that will come if New York State gives the go-ahead to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The Marcellus Shale is an enormous, subterranean layer of rock that runs from the Lower Adirondacks down through the Catskills and to western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Geologists believe there are colossal amounts of clean-burning natural gas trapped there. And for many months now, representatives from energy companies, whose job is to persuade property owners to sign development leases, have been fanning out across New York’s Southern Tier with contracts in hand. While prices have fluctuated, some landowners have gotten as much as $3,500 per acre, plus 20 percent royalty, far more than people who signed early leases received.

The question of whether you have signed or not has created a new social fault line in local society. Some owners argue that they have not only a right, but an obligation to exploit the resources on their property. Others insist their duty is to protect the land.

If these lands are within the Catskill park I have no idea how it is legal given the "forever wild" clause in the NY State Constitution:

Article 14 of the 1894 constitution and every one since

The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed. (from wiki)

It's always been a battle between developers and preservationists up here - I just can't imagine how large scale drilling operations can co-exist with the trout streams and the need for maintaining water quality in NYC reservoirs. The DEP has been working for a decade trying to improve run-off into the reservoirs and avoid a multi-billion $$ filtration plant... now just to turn around and have drilling permitted within a stone's throw of these same reservoirs... Looks like a BIG battle is a brewin' between competing "interests"

LOL my uncle who lives near the ashokin reservoir whenever possible pisses toward its general direction because he resents the "NYC people" taking his water. Hopefully the DEP people don't track this comment, he hates them too.

Hell, at least those water pipelines to NYC are cause enough to keep those reservoirs clean. Hopefully we don't find out that massive amounts of fracking water spill into one 'em.

I have no idea how it is legal given the "forever wild" clause in the NY State Constitution:

Easy, they are wildcatters ;-)

Slide in Home Prices Is Slowing Down, Index Shows

The long slide in housing prices is continuing to brake, figures released Tuesday indicate.

For the fourth consecutive month, there was modest improvement in May in the rate prices are falling, according to Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index, a closely watched measure of the market.

It is the rate of decrease that is down, not that prices are actually rising. This is a graph of prices.

It seems like the only "good news" that could be found these days is that maybe some things aren't getting bad quite as quickly as they used to.

Re: Global Ocean Surface Temperature Warmest On Record For June

This summer has been rather cool for the Eastern U.S. A few days ago, there was a note on Accuweather about the number of record lows set in the U.S. this summer. This situation has produced some comments from the denialist that there's no global warming. However, the warming of the oceans certainly runs counter to this point of view, as does this year's rate of decline of Arctic sea-ice. This just goes to show that a warmer planet won't result in the same increment of warming everywhere. That's why the problem is called "climate change".

E. Swanson

Sea ice isn't significantly different than recent years and is significantly better than 2007:


Polar air temperatures are running slightly below the 40yr average:


Do you have a similar data source for global sea surface temperature? Here is a graphic from NOAA but it is not seasonally adjusted to it is hard to see the "warming" you mention versus normal seasonal hemispheric differences.


Note also that sea temperatures are a strong integrator with significant lag. The temperature deviations you see today arise from conditions over the last several years. Colder air temperatures today will only show up in sea temperatures months from now.

DISCLOSURE: I am a climate anti-alarmist.

I think the recent trend with regards to record low temps globally is showing what BS the whole global warming alarmist propaganda is, BS.

Except that there are not record low temps globally, Boomer Sooner (or should I say BS).

Only 3000 of them this month alone.

2,000 of those were from the 100 thermometers in my back yard that I check daily.


Please provide links to your data..


Now before you get all excited, scroll down just slightly and look at all the caveats and disclaimers the author put there - no doubt because of the big deal that was made in parts of the blogosphere.

Indeed: The year, overall, from a records perspective, is still biased to record-breaking highs. [emphasis in original]

Which would fit with the characterization of 'Climate Chaos' as opposed to warming. Increased Extremes at both ends.

'What could possibly go wrong?..'

Scroll down a little further and read some of the wing nut comments. There's the usual denialist claims that sunspots are the cause of the recent warming and that Global Warming is a liberal hoax, etc.

One thing to remember about this data is that the maximum and minimum temperatures each have records, so there are record low maximum temperatures and record high minimum temperatures, in addition to the opposites. The data mentioned in the blog is the sum of the record low minimum temperatures and the record low maximum temperatures. Also, the data is for July, which isn't over yet. The data for June shows quite a few record high maximum temperatures along with record low minimums. The July data shows that most of the record minimum temperatures happened over a brief 4 day period from 18 thru 21 July. As should be obvious, 4 days of data does not prove anything about climate.

U.S. Record Temps, June-July09

These cool temperatures appeared over the eastern U.S., where there are a large number of stations. The analysis given in the Accuweather story is not weighted for area, so the dense number of stations would tend to overstate the impact of the outbreak of cooler air, IMHO. When average temperatures are calculated, the data is area averaged, which also tends to remove the effects of urbanization, since urban areas represent only a small fraction of the total area of the U.S.

EDIT: On the graph, the red bars are the record high maximum temps and the blue bars are the negative of the number of record low minimum temperatures. Also, today we find reports of unusually hot temperatures in western Washington and Oregon. That cooler air experienced over the Eastern U.S. likely arrived as the return flow in the circulation loop which is a result of the northward flow of warm air from the Pacific.

E. Swanson

boomer sooner is a 17 min 6 sec wonder.

What does global warming have to do with the increased CO2 in the air leading to increased CO2 in sea water - thus producing problems with ocean life?

Why do you hate the coral and clams?

Every year, there is a top drought state. This year it is Texas. Otherwise, in terms of US drought, things seem to be somewhat better. In terms of climate change, I don't see one years' weather saying much, one way or the other.

Texas Scorched by Worst Drought in 50 Years

Nearly 80 of Texas' 254 counties are in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought, the worst possible levels on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's index. Though other states are experiencing drought, no counties in the continental U.S. outside Texas currently register worse than "severe." In late April, the USDA designated 70 Texas counties as primary natural-disaster areas because of drought, above-normal temperatures and associated wildfires.

20 Months ago there was much talk here about evacuating Atlanta.

I am not sure Atlanta is any better off now, but that is because of a federal court ruling that Atlanta can't use Lake Lanier for water, and needs to figure out a compromise or way around the situation in three years. For example, see Lake Lanier blame game brews

Court records show the Corps repeatedly permitted local governments to withdraw water from the federal reservoir, even though Congress didn’t authorize its construction for that purpose. Meanwhile, the region’s population — and its demand for water — grew rapidly to the point where more than 3 million people depend on drinking water from the lake today.

But the fate of the region’s water supply now is in question after a federal judge issued a stinging ruling in the tri-state water rights war this month that says the Corps’ actions were illegal. The judge is giving Congress three years to decide how the reservoir should be used before tightening the spigot at the lake to levels from the mid-1970s, when Atlanta was a fraction of its size.

Full level is 1071 ft In late 2007 the level was down to 1050.7 ft
Currently at 1065.4 and rising.




With the latest rain fall the projections will be in error.

In Texas, drought means conserving every last drop

Among the most obvious problems are the lack of water in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan near Austin, two massive reservoirs along the Colorado River that provide drinking water for more than 1 million people and also are popular boating and swimming spots. Streams and tributaries that feed the lakes have "all but dried up," according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Lake Travis is more empty than full, down 54 percent. All but one of the 12 boating ramps are closed because they no longer reach the water, and the last may go soon. The receding waters have even revealed old stolen cars shoved into the lake years ago, authorities said.

Oh no! Hippie Hollow, on Lake Trav, must be high & dry. No longer can the yuppie boaters troll by & scope out naked hippie chicks. Sad day for Austin. :(

Looks like the level of the reservoir has dropped 17 feet in the past 60 days. That's pretty amazing. I can only hope that this debacle will contribute to the realization that damming rivers & storing water in reservoirs is a bad idea.

Old drought pictures from the 30's Any guesses why Boone Pickens' Amarillo High School basketball team was called the Sandies.


The arctic sea ice extent isn't that much higher than 2007, the ice is thinner, and the trend line is disturbing.

You might get comfort from the single favorable datapoint, but I get no such comfort.

As far as sea surface temperatures go, the National Hurricane Centers track those nicely: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsst.shtml

These graphics include the SST anomaly, which is the deviation from the average temperature for this time of year. I am sure that if you are really curious you could access enough raw data to make some pretty solid analyses.

Of course, that you didn't know to go to the NHC for this data does not bode well.

Russian Ship on New Trans-Arctic Supply Route
Era of Trans-Arctic Shipping Nigh

Era of Trans-Arctic Shipping Nigh

By Andrew C. Revkin

Since 1553, when Sir Hugh Willoughby led an expedition north in search of a sea passage over Russia to the Far East, mariners have dreamed of such a shortcut.

In part because of warming and the retreat and thinning of Arctic sea ice in summer, this northern sea route is slowly becoming a reality. Russian vessels have long hauled ore and oil along the country’s sprawling northern coast, but no commercial ships under other flags have passed between Asia and Western Europe. Now, a German company, the Beluga Group of Bremen, has a ship poised to make what appears to be the first such trip, an 8,000-mile shortcut compared with alternate routes. The “Arctic Rush” is on.

Now that's a disturbing piece of information.

On the bright side, an 8000 mile shortcut means burning that much less bunker fuel.

Looking at the NSIDC data, the Arctic sea-ice has retreated faster since April than during the record year of 2007. Of course, the best indicator would be the yearly minimum, which we won't know until October. The sea-ice cycle of extent integrates the energy flows, as do the oceans' temperature, thus the resulting minimum is the most significant variable.


As for the sea surface temperatures, you could go the sources referenced in the article. Given that we have seen very low solar activity in sunspots over the past year, isn't it unexpected that the sea surface temperatures are reported to be so high? This finding would indicate that solar activity has little impact on climate.

Your "disclosure" statement is curious as well. Is a "climate anti-alarmist" the same as an "anti-scientist"? Are you a professional "anti-alarmist", as in paid to post comments?

E. Swanson

I am not paid to post and do not represent any interest other than my own.

Over the last year or so this forum has degenerated into an ossified collection of beliefs and predispositions. It used to be a vibrant colloqium for sharing personal research (some of those articles were brilliant pieces of thought and research), for challenging beliefs, and for exploring new possibilities. Now you either accept that the world is ending in generally accepted ways or you take it on the chin.

Perhaps I am simply thin-skinned, but I no longer have any interest in participating in this forum. Symbolically, and perhaps melodramatically, I request that my log-on priveleges be revoked and that my personal membership information no longer be maintained by this site.

I am quite serious about the latter point, however. I no longer wish to be affiliated with The Oil Drum.


To my mind, this forum has degenerated as a group of technocopian idealists have attempted to strongarm consensus according to their pollyannish fantasies of "green" technology surplanting fossil fuels in an only slightly modified BAU future. Some of these denialists may be simply frightened and in denial. Others are clueless. And yet others have an agenda of personal gain to promote. I have no idea which category you fall into Shunyata. In any case, the reality could not be more different from the peachy scenario such denialists hope to project.

I still think it's a great forum. :)

It's the best on the web. I am continually surprised by the collective grey matter here. Compare that to any number of fora where climate science deniers -- and those who have not the slightest idea what that even means -- chirp up incessantly with straw men and red herrings and all manner of poop that never gets scooped.

I have known Shunyata since before he began posting on The Oil Drum. I am sure he has no issues of personal gain. He has done several guest posts including Monetary Policy and Weaseling Out of Debt, nearly two years ago.

We try to keep a balance of posts on The Oil Drum, probably tending more toward doomer than techno-cornucopian. We have been trying to stay away from discussing the scientific basis of AGW in our posts, because we do not have technical expertise to address the issue properly, on either the pro or con side.

On Drumbeat, we get whatever mix we get. That changes over time. If you as a poster think the mix should be more in the direction of what you believe, then it makes sense to make appropriately referenced posts in the direction you consider appropriate.

See, it's funny because I could have sworn that two days ago the comments on the article were talking about how "all the cornucopians seem to have disappeared." Is this that confirmation bias thing in action?

What's this? You get a little bit of opposition to your anti-science position and you turn and run like a whipped dog? If you can't support your supposed scientific claims, then you probably shouldn't have been posting here, given that there are likely to be other people here that would question your claims.

Personally, I've attempted to understand the climate problem for more than 30 years, not that that means much. I've never claimed that the Earth is heading for some sort of runaway global warming, however, I do think that the Earth's climate has the potential to shift into other fundamentally different modes, which would lead to major impacts in the way humans live. I've presented my arguments in writing to the U.S. CCSP and have attempted to discuss them on this forum. My understanding is that at some point in the future, the reduction of sea-ice over the Arctic Ocean will result in a total loss of sea-ice cover at the end of the melt season. So far, the evidence appears to support that projection. Once the sea-ice melts completely, it would appear likely that it would continue to melt completely most years afterwards. I'm rather certain that the Earth's climate won't be the same after that point.

If you have other information, please don't hesitate to post it. Otherwise, have a nice life...

E. Swanson

I am not paid to post and do not represent any interest other than my own...

I no longer wish to be affiliated with The Oil Drum.

I am not paid to post either but if there is anyone out there who would pay me to post please email me. ;-)

I think this is all sour grapes on your part Shunyata. Sure there is a lot of crap being thrown around here but that is unavoidable. You will always have a certain percentage of nut cases posting their favorite beliefs no matter how crazy they are. These folks must simply be corrected then ignored if they persist. And of course you get the occasional jerk who just enjoys insulting everyone. These folks, have in the past, been banned.

But by and large this is the most informative blog/list on the net, in my opinion anyway. Anytime something interesting happens in the oil world, or energy world, someone informs us of it here. I would have missed hundreds of great articles and videos had I not been a member of this list. And I am more than willing to tolerate the occasional wingnut here because the great informative discussions and links far outnumber the the silly or insulting ones.

Ron P.

Arctic sea ice extent is at its lowest since it has been monitored, except for the off-the-chart-melt year of 2007. Total ice mass is now at its lowest recorded, probably its lowest for millions of years.

It is no great virtue to be anti-alarmist when alarming events are taking place all around you.

Some food for thought on sea ice. Around 1300 the Thule culture Inuit lived on the northern coast of Greenland:-


They are believed to have replaced the earlier Dorset culture because of greatly increased sea ice melt in the Medieval warm period:-


Dorset culture & history is broken up into four periods, the Early (which began around 500 BC), Middle, Late (starting around AD 800), and Terminal (AD 1000 to 1500) phases. The Terminal phase was already in progress occurred when the Thule were entering the Canadian Arctic as they migrated east from Alaska, and is most probably closely related to the onset of the medieval warm period, which started to warm the Arctic considerably around AD 800. With the warmer climates, the sea ice became less predictable and was isolated from the High Arctic. Since the Dorset were highly adapted to living in a very cold climate, and much of their food came from hunting sea mammals through holes in the ice, the massive decline in sea-ice which the Medieval Warm Period produced would have had a devastating impact upon their way of life, and they seem to have great difficulty adapting to this change.

and to have later been forced south by the Little Ice Age, which also led to the demise of Norse settlement on Greenland. That's why global warming types are always keen to focus only on the period "since records began".

You wrote:

...and to have later been forced south by the Little Ice Age, which also led to the demise of Norse settlement on Greenland. That's why global warming types are always keen to focus only on the period "since records began".

No, the scientists who study climate change don't limit themselves to the instrument record. That's why there's been so much shouting about the so-called "Hockey Stick" graphic from Mann, et al.

To begin with, there's no evidence that the Viking settlements in Greenland were lost because of an end to a postulated period of unusual warmth. There were a couple of other factors which could have easily produced the same result. For example, in 1453, there was a massive volcanic eruption in the Pacific, which produced a sharp global cooling. A similar event happened when Tambora blew it's top in 1815, which resulted in the "Year Without a Summer" in 1816. The impact on farmers in New England is well documented. Single events such as these aren't the same as a wide spread overall cooling, such as might have happened during the Little Ice Age. I say "might" because there appears to have been other large volcanic events which would have produced short term cooling, not a centuries long global cooling as some would have us believe occurred.

The other possible cause might be the arrival of the Black Death (or Plague), which hit Iceland hard. Estimates of numbers of deaths are around half the population. The Norwegian people in Greenland may simply have moved back to Iceland, as there is no archaeological evidence that they died in place. The record suggests that they left voluntarily, taking their important possessions with them...

E. Swanson

I will go out on a limb and question your contention that there is no evidence that the Norse settlement failed as a result of colder weather.

If irc the evidence shows,thru the distinctive marks left on the bones,that the Norse were forced to slaughter all thier animals and that starvation is the likeliest explaination.

I try to read only magazines and journals generally accepted as reputable,but I can't remember where or when I read this.

From Wikipedia, fwiw:

To investigate the possibility of climatic cooling, scientists drilled into the Greenland ice caps to obtain core samples. The oxygen isotopes from the ice caps suggested that the Medieval Warm Period had caused a relatively milder climate in Greenland, lasting from roughly 800 to 1200. However from 1300 or so the climate began to cool. By 1420, we know that the "Little Ice Age" had reached intense levels in Greenland.[14] Excavations of midden or garbage heaps from the Viking farms in both Greenland and Iceland show the shift from the bones of cows and pigs to those of sheep and goats. As the winters lengthened, and the springs and summers shortened, there must have been less and less time for Greenlanders to grow hay. By the mid-fourteenth century deposits from a chieftain’s farm showed a large number of cattle and caribou remains, whereas, a poorer farm only several kilometers away had no trace of domestic animal remains, only seal. Bone samples from Greenland Norse cemeteries confirm that the typical Greenlander diet had increased by this time from 20% sea animals to 80%.[15]

The demise of the Greenland Norse settlements

I seem to recall somewhere from my old statistics textbook that trying to base a statistical inference on a single data point isn't a very good idea.

Maybe they've deleted that from the newer, dumbed-down versions?


I seem to recall somewhere from my old statistics textbook that trying to base a statistical inference on a single data point isn't a very good idea.

Yet how often do we see the opinion stated that since there is life on this planet and so many yellow stars in the galaxy similar to Sol which may be likewise orbited by inner rocky planets, the presence of life on some of these planets must be a virtual probabilistic certainty? It's a known fact that >100% of the population hate, distrust, and misunderstand prob & stats! :D

We know it has happened once, and as time goes on we get more evidence that the prerequisites for complex life are fairly common.

The odds are good that it has happened more than once, but nobody will know for sure until we actually find another instance.

The odds are good that it has happened more than once...

And you've just demonstrated that you're in that >100%! :)

How exactly?

There is a process by which an end can be reached with a finite probability. (It happened once observably, therefore the probability is non-zero)
We have good evidence that preconditions for that process are widespread.

Space is so big that I cannot properly imagine it. It is considered to be potentially infinite, but even its observable extent is so large that very low probability events with a non-zero probability should happen on a regular basis.

Mere one in a million events happen all the time.

I would say that you have demonstrated a lack of comprehension of the enormousness of the universe.

Hmmm ...

Not only bigger but a lot more complex and interactive. We simplify, but some things defy simplification. I personally think the entire universe is alive and cognizant; I recall a discussion on Slashdot a few years ago where people postulated on what the most powerful computer would look and act like. Thermonuclear powered, huge and dense ... sound's like, what exactly?

Our measuring tools only reveal what we decide - and can afford - to look for. More than four dimensions we cannot instinctively understand and this universe presents us with multitudes. Many dimensions, many gravities, much complexities and 'local rules'. Our speed of light arrogance does not fit with the many other speeds of light in other areas ... or 'areas'. I suspect there are many Earths and everything found on this is on the others what is lost here is found on others. Even stupid people.

That doesn't mean there is a Sarah Palin in another part of the universe ...

The problem I have with what we know about the universe is related to the speed of light and its implications.

When we look at pictures from the Hubble Telescope and such what we are doing is looking back in time. The images we see are of events that happened billions of light years ago. We do not know what is happening now since the light has not arrived yet. We are just assuming that the rest of the universe has developed similar to our small corner of it.

It is the huge distances that I feel many do not appreciate. We are for all practical purposes floating in isolated ignorance of the rest of the universe even though we have pictures. What we know about it is historic light from billions of years ago and may have little relationship to what the universe is currently like just as the earth is something quite different from what it was a billion or even a hundred million years ago.

These huge distances make the rest of the universe nothing more than an old movie about what happened long ago that we are now seeing for the first time. We can never go there because it no longer exists.
And for sure we have no idea of what has become of the objects in the movie since it was released billions of light years ago.

It's not quite that bad. One benefit we have is that we don't just have snapshots of events billions of years ago, we have the whole movie. Looking out different distances shows how things were at different times in the past. Thus you can reconstruct cosmological evolution by seeing how things vary with distance. You might argue that this assumes a degree of sameness across the universe, but experiment indicates this is generally the case - the universe is remarkably homogeneous. Look back 5 billion years in any direction and you see basically the same thing. As you move closer to the present this consistency is retained. Another thing is that as you move closer to the present, there is less relative change. All the exciting stuff in the Universe happened long ago (most of it in the first few minutes.) Thus it is a reasonable assumption that the Universe we see around us locally is a fair representation of the Universe as a whole.

You're essentially worried that the world disapears when you close your eyes. Get over it.

And my wife was just asking me what abductive reasoning was...

abductive reasoning or maybe it was an abduction of reality that got this country into a search for wmd's.

i see many public traded companies using abductive reasoning (or maybe abduction of reality) to conclude that this country has 100+ yrs of ng supply, more energy equivalent than saudi arabia, more bullshit than uber good-ole-boy(pickens).

Very funny.

Yes, it is a crude expression of the facts, do you *really* want a full dissertation on the probability of complex life in the universe complete with reasonable estimates (yes guesses) of the probabilities involved and the opportunity space?

Just for a start:
The known opportunity space for complex life in this solar system alone over the history we might detect is 3, with one historical candidate (Mars), one current known possible(Europa), and one verified(Earth). There may be others I am not currently aware of. Presence of liquid water and chemical signs of life open the possibility, verification will be problematic due to distance even within our own system.

Anything beyond that we can only detect secondary effects (oxygen atmosphere and similar signs). We will probably never detect complex life as we know it unambiguously anywhere, almost certainly not in my lifetime, but given current data it appears to be fairly likely.

Life on other planets, somewhere? Not impossible, I suppose. Of course, it is also possible that if there is life elsewhere, it is nothing more than a bunch of crappy little extremophiles. That is a possibility that a lot of the "life on other planets" enthusiasts don't seem to relish all that much, yet it seems to me to be far more likely than is anything much more advanced.

Of course it's not impossible. The point is that no one knows, and can't assign a probability based on a sample size of one.

Since life arose on this planet nearly as soon as it had cooled sufficiently for water to exist in the liquid phase, the evolution of self-replicative, auto-catalytic organic redox systems may be quite common on wet space rocks. Such systems would conceivably have evolved into biofilm ecosystems somewhat like stromatolites or the films that develop in toilet bowls. The evolution of metazoan organization is much more problematic, let alone that of an aptitude for electromagnetic signal transmission. Then again, such communities of microorganisms would have to survive major bolide impacts and the bombardment of ionizing radiation. Wet space rocks infested with an organic redox scum may not be so common after all. Who knows?

I mean, the assumptions in coming up with those probabilities are well characterized... they're probabilities based on guesses, no one (should) be claiming that they are actually statistical. The idea was to start with guesses as to probabilities that "feel right" and then modify them as data becomes available...

You probably have seen this, but for others that haven't and are curious about how these kinds of order of magnitude estimates are made when there isn't enough information to actually solve the problem:


It is so much more likely to run into an extremophile microorganism ecology that there is evidence of more than one in our own solar system.

The jury is still out on whether there is life involved or merely odd chemical processes, but my opinion is that we'd probably still be arguing "life or not" if we had a sample under a microscope.

Ahhh, a 'Rare Earth' fan...

Little data right now, hoping for the 15-meter space telescope launched on an Ares V and the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL) to be built in the Atacama Desert some day.

LTG/Peak Everything be damned...I would eat grass for one week per month for the rest of my life to fund such instruments to image other earth-like worlds.

I don't think we'll have to wait more than about three years. By then, both COROT and Kepler should have spotted more Earth IIs than you can shake a stick at.

Not sure if they have any chance of detecting evidence of liquid water, a large magnetic field, and other things that contribute to earth being an ideal place for multicellular life to evolve.

True, but once we know where to look and can get some decent spectra, in short order we'll be able to figure out atmospheric chemistries. [rubs_hands]

While you can't make a mathematical basis from a single datapoint, you can still form a coherent argument.

Unless there is something special about our planet to distinguish it from other planets with very similar physical conditions, then thereis, on the face of things, no good reason why there shouldn't be life elsewhere.

Even if the prerquisites are extraordinarily fine-grained, given the number of planets, the timescale involved and the existence of subtle changes in chemical and physical properties over time on each one, it's foolish to conclude that life is unlikely to be possible elsewhere. In the absence of an understanding of how life began, Occam's razor suggests that we take the simplest approach, and so it's likely life exists elsewhere.

The risk of basing anything on a single data point though is that this datapoint might be special in some way; like counting one vegetarian and concluding that humans don't eat meat.

In general though, there's nothing we've found yet, scientifically speaking, which would suggest that we are special, whereas in the other argument we are already aware of the existance of vegetarains and carnivores. The specialness and uniqueness of life to planet earth is essentially the domain of religion and the supernatural; outside the measurable natural world.

So while an attempt to use some kind of mathematics or probability theorem to convice people that life elsewhere is a virtual probabilistic certainty would indeed be invalid, the basic logical path I've illustrated is most certainly not. It's like finding a vegetarian and concluding that there's probably at least one more somewhere.

I make an obvious remark only since I didn't see it said so far- maybe all is well, and life is rife, but when smart things get going on a planet, their power outruns their wisdom and they terminate themselves by unwise use of great power. See Fermi Paradox.

Or- look out the window.

Kinda analogous to a nuclear reaction- get enough sufficiently energetic bits close enough together, they goad each other, and WHAM. Fini for that one- on to the next.


Your last line about finding one vegetarian and assuming there is probably another one somewhere seems to best sum up this debate to me.

I do understand the implications of the "single data point" but the flip side of the coin is that just because we should n ot extrapolate from the one known example-the earth-niether should we extrapolate in the opposite direction,as we know nothing about other worlds that might harbor life except that one,other planets exist orbiting other suns,and two,given the number that have been discovered quickly ,once the astronomers found out how, there are probably LOTS of planets.

Not extrapolating in the opposite direction involves understanding Talebs"silent evidence",which he illustrates by saying,paraphrased,that "sailors who pray and die during storms are not around to offer thier testimony as to the efficacy of prayers,as sailors who pray and survive are wont to do."

As an occasional player of games of chance,if I know absolutely nothing about the odds of the outcome of the game (as niether side knows in this game)but also know that regardless of the odds there are only two outcomes,either heads-life in other places-or tails-no life in other places-common sense dictates that I go with the single known example,and bet in the affirmative.

What Iam saying is that if you put a lot of marbles in a can ,of only two colors,and do not know anything about the relative numbers of each color,a simple one time even money bet dictates that you bet on the color pulled the first time-because if there are three times as many reds as black,then the odds of getting a red the next time are 3 to 1.And the odds of getting a red were also 3to 1 in the first draw.of course.

Of course there is a counter argument that can be made that may or may not hold water.

It involves the fact that anyone who wins a lottery but does not understand probability justifiably believes he is in some way special-but of course he is not-he's just the one guy in a million struck by the good kind of lightning.

If this is comment isincoherent it may be because I am sleep deprived as a result of looking after somebody who is very ill at the moment.

A friend of mine is an atmospheric scientist at MIT, and told me that this is an "El Nino" year, where the average temperature on the earth is warmer than normal, but the temperature in the northeastern US is cooler than normal. He said that summer will probably last a few weeks longer than normal (mid-late September), and that it started about a month late.

He said that summer will probably last a few weeks longer than normal (mid-late September), and that it started about a month late.

I was wondering if I could still get away with planting a late crop of bush beans, and this settles it! Thanks for the info!

Job woes sap U.S. consumer confidence in July

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes slid to 46.6 in July from 49.3 in June. Economists had expected a reading of 49.0, based on the median of 64 forecasts in a Reuters poll.

The worsening of sentiment came as Americans saying jobs were hard to get increased and those who thought jobs were plentiful fell to its lowest in more than a quarter century, hurting their overall assessment of the present situation.

I know around here the official unemployment rate is 10%, and the percentage who are being paid less one way or another (fewer hours, mandatory furlows, going back to school since jobs are not available, discouraged-not looking) is a lot higher than that.

I have been installing standalone PV systems for going on 30 years, and one of the dirty secrets (not so green) of Gridless PV systems has been the Batteries. Not such an issue since most PV is now grid Tie. I'm been trying to find information on the actual eco footprint of Lead Acid (LA) Batteries. ie. just what is the quantifiable impacts of extracting the materials and manufacturing the batteries? What I find is propaganda on how the LA Battery is the recycling success story of all time (which is likely the case).

I use .12-.15 USD ballpark cost of storing electricity in LA batteries, so cost comparable to retail rates ... just to store electricity.Premium battery manufacturers state that the lead must be triple pure "99.999" for maximum performance. Some claim that they can not use recycle lead since it leads to performance inconsistencies. This may explain different lifetimes between batches of LA batteries in identical service. The last Edison Battery (NiFe)line in North America was purchased in the 70's by Exide and closed. Perhaps there was less profit in a battery that can last 50+ years (NiFe is best for stationary applications). Seems like being tied to the lead cartel and replacing LA batteries every 500-2000 cycles perhaps has a higher overall eco impact than being on the grid using fossil fuels.
One trick to living off grid with PV, is using heavy loads (like washing machines) when the sun is shining to reduce battery "consumption".

Anyone have any info or leads on the eco footprint of LA Batteries?
What would the metric be in terms of kWh or EROEI.

Donald Long

One route to examine is the volume of Lead recycling that has been offshored from the US to China, where the work and environmental conditions for all electronics dismantling has been predictably disastrous.

As I heard it, there is very little PB processing left in the US at this point, and hence the burdensome EPA and Hippie-driven 'restrictions' have been summarily lifted on the processes. As with PV manufacture, I don't doubt it can be done safely and with useful outputs, but it's going to cost more, require a more stringent and respectful attitude toward the value of the energy we harness.

I do like the idea of creating systems that use the Power when it's 'fresh', and either storing it more directly in the 'work done', or closer to the end use, as in pre-compressing a stockpile of refrigerant during the daytime or during the windy spells, instead of having a compressor going on whenever it wants. (Would call for far better insulated and bigger Fridge/Freezer setups, probably)

I'll keep an eye out on the Nickel Iron story, too. Please do post what you find.. I'm hungry for some practical and honest news here. Hardly starry-eyed about the Power-brokers that have held onto the keys for the last century or so..


Hippie-driven restrictions on Pb?

U prefer dAiN BrAmAgE?

Sorry, didn't include sarcanol tags.

I'm fully in favor of Environmental Health and Toxics regulations.. I think we need to bear those costs, but recognize that many/most business decisions follow the lowest-bidder rule, and such draconian rules are viewed as 'burdensome, Politically Correct finagling by the radical lefties who want to control us with good health' .. etc, etc. (Assume the Sarc tags are in place.. I'll try to be clearer with my double-entendre's in the future..)

Wait... that was a double entendre...?

Hippie driven... I'm rather frightened to think about what innuendo you could have been implying there...

Could it be that heavy metals widen the pelvis?

It's I who need apologize for not trusting the author's literacy. I've spent too much time on redneck cracker forums where people use the term 'hippie' as a pejorative. Still, GlockTalk has some expert advice and useful information, if you can wade through the Palin-extollers.

Another Edison Cell fan. Yay!

I'm convinced that in the post-peak world, durability and ease of maintenance will trump "efficiency".

On the natural gas side, there is news from Turkmenistan.

Energy-rich Turkmenistan says it wants to sell gas to Britain to create new export markets

Most natural gas from Turkmenistan, which produced around 70 billion cubic meters (2.5 trillion cubic feet) in 2008, goes to Russia. Those deliveries have been suspended since April amid a row over an explosion on a key pipeline that all but shut off Turkmenistan's exports to Russia. The two sides are continuing to bicker over the cause and cost for repairs.

A pipeline to China is to come online over the coming year and is expected to reach an annual capacity of 40 billion cubic meters (1.4 trillion cubic feet).

Turkmenistan has also said it hopes to boost its current deliveries to Iran and develop new markets in the West.

Some international experts have voiced doubt that Turkmenistan could meet all its supply obligations, but the government insists there is enough gas to supply all buyers.

I presume the Turkmenistan to Britain piece relates to the Nabucco pipeline. But this would seem to require building a pipeline under the Black Sea. I find it hard to believe it will all come to pass.

Absurdity of the day:

Australia mulling more coal support in carbon plans

The Australian government seems to have gotten a classical case schizophrenia: AUS gov version A is trying to reduce carbon emissions (by participating in Kyoto and carbon trading); AUS gov version B is supporting the same industry that version A is effectively trying to close down. Oh well, I guess this is the sign of the times to come.

LevinK,if only it was a simple matter of schizophrenia in the Australian government.There would be a strong case for regulation under the Mental Health Act.

This governmment,and her Majesty's loyal opposition,are in the pockets of big business.Kyoto and the forthcoming Copenhagen talk fest are just a smokescreen for the real intention - business as usual.

RE: Oil Production Cost Estimates

Intertesting that CTL is the most expensive, maybe even more so than oil shale. I wouldn't have guessed that. Given this, I rather doubt that we are going to see CTL to any great extent. CTG, on the other hand, is probably a lot less expensive, and maybe we could even figure out how to do it in situ. If that could be a way to stop the mountaintop removals, that would definitely be a real blessing.

Given the range in the estimates, my guess is that they are not very accurate, but at a $60 minimum, I would agree CTL not very likely to happen.

It seems like CTG would have to compete with natural gas. At current low prices, that is likely not to happen either.

Chart of the Day: S&P 500 Earnings, Inflation Adjusted

Today's chart provides some perspective on the current earnings environment by focusing on 12-month, as reported S&P 500 earnings. Today's chart illustrates how earnings are expected (38% of S&P 500 companies have reported for Q2 2009) to have declined over 98% since peaking in Q3 2007, making this by far the largest decline on record (the data goes back to 1936). In fact, real earnings have dropped to a record low and if current estimates hold, Q3 2009 will see the first 12-month period during which S&P 500 earnings are negative.


I just hung out an E-shingle as a local Handyman again, hoping that my fallback into the 'only somewhat discretionary side of the economy' has a hope of resurrecting my earnings for the year, and luckily, I've had 5 hits so far today.

Knock Wood! (Maybe that'll be the business name..)

"But the land was sweet and good, and I did what I could!"

From "Exploration Fuel":

“Canada will become a net importer somewhere between 2023 and 2030. Even with development of unconventional gas and a less aggressive shift towards natural gas supplied electricity, Canada may become a net importer by about 2050.”

Where are they going to be net importing from?


Some are under the illusion that they can survive for a long time on what they are hoarding to the detriment of their neighbors. The reality is that eventually a family will run out of something essential, such as the ammunition used to kill your starving neighbors, and then you die just a few months later than if you hadn't hoarded anything. It's like the author of the article you cited had never read the story of Lazarus and the rich man who let him starve to death. I'd would rather share what little I had left then die and leave the hell which the greed of the few created.

I agree with you that the idea of "hoarding and hiding" is the illusion for most modern First Worlders. It is probably also the most common delusion for most people when they first seriously contemplate Collapse.

I think having a pantry stored with several months or a year's worth of food and other "necessities" (defined by individual circumstance) is not "hoarding." At least not for most of our history - up until the last few decades when "just in time" and prepackaged food stuffs became the norm in much of the First World.

IF everyone in your home town practiced the historic norm of keeping a stocked pantry, there would be little to no panic when our financial system collapses later this year or early next.

But because most people do not anticipate the collapse, and because they dismiss storage as "hoarding" without serious thought, we will experience panic later this year or early next, when the global village's financial system has another major heart-attack.

I have been unable to substantiate this but I was told that Mormon's are encouraged to stock a year's worth of food to discourage "sinning" if something negative, like a job loss, happens.

Unemployment insurance seems to serve as the modern-day equivalent of stocking one's pantry.

No government program is half so reliable as dried beans and rice.

Some/most Mormon, Amish, Mennonite, Quakers and some elderly people store up to a year's worth of food still today.

A local Quaker women I know hangs out with some Mormons because of their "connections" - like wholesale prices on canning goods, honey processing equipment, etc...

The use of unemployment insurance in place of a stocked pantry is funny now that you mention it - just like the substitution with just-in-time delivery of pre-processed food...

We traded independence and individual responsibility for modern conviniences and complete dependency on The Machine ( i.e. our modern, technology-based, energy-intensive industrial civilization).

I see there is another scheme to produce oil from micro-organisms via photo synthesis. I would have called the microorganisms algae but the article specifically says they are not algae.

Joule Biotechnologies wants your money to build a pilot plant that will produce 20,000 gallons per acre of ethanol using cabon dioxide water and sunlight. They mention the Texas Panhandle so I decided to run some rough numbers. Using solar isolation tables a fixed reactor would recieve about 8860000KWH of energy per year in Amarillo, Texas (This can vary based on a lot of factors but this looks like a reasonable number based on the tables.) If I convert the heat of combustion of 20000 gallons of ethanol to KWH I get 495 million KWH. If my numbers are correct we have here a perpetual motion machine which produces more energy out than goes in.

This kind of article is a problem because many people won't catch the impossibility of this. If there are enough article like this and the Solix article of a few days ago too many people will begin to believe they can continue on and no one has to worry about the energy future. In my opinion this attitude has already had an impact on questions like drilling ANWR, Offshore Drilling, and Nuclear Energy.

This article caught my attention as well. 20000 gallons per year works out to 1.3 barrels/acre/day of finished product. So this perpetual motion machine is more like a black hole that will devour the planet before it substitutes for oil.

A commenter on the Solix article made a similar observation. These steps on biofuels are hardly cause for excitement.

If these claims are actualized then America could meet its oil needs on just 24,000 sq miles of now unused land. That is less than 1% of America's total land area.

Point taken; got my units confused. We'll see how it goes in any case.

Great! Now we just have to build 24,000 sq mi of enclosed bioreactors, i.e. lots and lots of clear tubing. Oops, not so easy as plowing up a field, is it?

Personally, I wouldn't start celebrating until we had a high yield process that used open ponds and salt water.

I think your numbers are incorrect:

1 gal ethanol = 3.78l
Energy content of 1l of ethanol: 23.5MJ = 6.5 KWH
Energy content of 1 gal = 3.78 * 6.5 = 24.7 KWH
20,000 gal ethanol * 24.7 = 493,500 KWH

You are off by 3 orders of magnitude.
However the claimed overall efficiency of the process seems to be unbelievably good for a photosynthesis based biofuel production - 493,500 / 8,860,000 ~ 5.6%
According to Wikipedia real-world photosynthetic efficiency is maximum 3 to 6% (sugar cane is an exception with 8%), so even if we take the high end (6%) the whole process of turning those microorganisms to ethanol would result in just 0.4% loss of energy content. Hard to believe (but probably not impossible).

Now that the so called American Dream ( to get as much rich as possible finally came to a death end, the US wants the rest of the world also to feel the "depression". I'm sorry, but here in Western Europe we have no depression. On the contrary, now in summer time, all cafes and restaurants are more than full. Even in the "cote d'azur", southern France, the Russians are coming back. Parties all night long.

Attached is a video of a very popular Austrian "rock star", Hansi Hinterseer. He used to be NO.1 skier for a long time. And look to the people! They are so happy. We in Europe do not need your fast food, your lousy quality of cars, your lack of sense of humour. Just because you need a new war every 3 months.


We in Europe do not need your fast food, your lousy quality of cars, your lack of sense of humour. Just because you need a new war every 3 months.

No, you just need us to save you from Nazi or Soviet aggression every generation or so.

The Simpsons - 'The Trillion Dollar Bill' European War Restoration Fund

The President’s payment never arrived, prompting Charles de Gaulle to promise that Europeans will act snooty to Americans forever.

Even in the "cote d'azur", southern France, the Russians are coming back. Parties all night long.

Parties all night with Russian oligarchs?

Oh, I get it, this is a joke! HAHAHA!

Who says we Americans don't have a sense of humor!

Those Austrian concerts used to have live musicians:

good bleepin god,
I'm almost embarrassed to be a primate
What was that? some sorta thecno polka

euro, you are out of order. So the rich in Europe (and the not so rich) are partying? Of course. If you think that right now in the USA there are no parties: there are lots, thousands, millions of people having fun you could not be more mistaken.

As to those fun-loving Russian oligarchs, ask Deripaska or Abramovitch to invite you to their parties, not bloody likely.
The Spanish Nobel Prize Winner Ramón y Cajal once had a good laugh (in 1920!)at people who were proud that there were many millionaires in their town, while they themselves just make ends meet.
Learn a new English word: "staycation", that's like staying home for vacation and not going to Costa Blanca or 'la cote d'azur'.

We are feeling the pain, in Spain, 20% unemployment, 1 million people without any benefits -no food stamps in Spain.
Yet, you go right now to Playa San Juan, Alicante in fact the whole mediterranean shore, and there are millions of people having fun.

From the interview with Leonard:

Eventually, OPEC is going to consist of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates; they’ll be the last three.

From de Sousa's comment on The Oil Drum: Europe, 17 november 2006:

They have to push Kuwaiti reserves back because it already hit the media that proved reserves are below 30 Gb. The government is aware and taking measures to restrain production - Kuwait can be one of the first countries to "sign" the Oil Depletion Protocol.

Total phantom 2P reserves in the ME stand at 300Gb. Take that from the 2P reserves given by IHS and you get Laherrère's 800 Gb plus Tar Sands.

Probably in the 3 countries mentioned by Leonard, Kuwait will be replaced by Irak.

Hello Leanan,

Thx[S] for the DB toplink: "Sulphur feels weight of oversupply".

Contrast that article with this Oil & Gas Journal weblink:

Poten: Abu Dhabi gas demand could limit sour gas for LNG

..With domestic energy demand growing at 10%/year, said Poten, Abu Dhabi has decided to move forward with a plan to invest as much as $50 billion in developing large onshore and shallow-water sour-gas reserves. But freeing up extra gas for LNG could prove to be a very tall order, according to Poten’s analysis.

..The project consists of developing wells, pipelines, and gas plants with corrosion-resistant material throughout to handle 23% hydrogen sulfide and 10% carbon dioxide gas. The sulfur and condensates would be removed and exported through the port of Ruwais, while the treated lean gas would be fed back into the domestic market...This level of capital expenditure implies a cost of $4/MMbtu for the gas, says Poten...

Sulfur pipeline
Notably missing, Poten points out, is a tender for a 136-km liquid-sulfur pipeline connecting the Shah field to Ruwais, where the sulfur, more than 4.2 million tonnes/year, is to be granulated and exported to global markets. It is understood the sulfur pipeline package was not released due to a lack of qualified bidders.

Sulfur is already trucked from the Habshan gas-treatment plants to Ruwais. That option is hardly viable for the expansion, says Poten, as it would add more than 600/day 20-tonne truckloads of molten sulfur to the traffic on the main western highway. Any delays in the pipeline would therefore be controversial.

Once Qatar’s current projects are fully operational, the gulf area will be exporting huge quantities of sulfur, perhaps more than can be absorbed in the global market, according to Poten’s analysis. The alternative to exporting would be to cast the sulfur in giant blocks in the desert, an option that has not been acceptable to ADNOC in the past but would remove the need for the pipeline or trucking.
IMO, they should just temporarily fore go the added expense of building the melted-S pipeline until S-prices/ton rise much higher [or Webb/Pomerene type cartels force it much higher]; just build the giant S-blocks now. Future generations will be happy to have easy surface access to this S later for the superphosphating process and other finished I-NPKS products.

My feeble speculation: radically choking down the global S-flowrate, thus postPeak forcing the price of S/ton real high, should make it much easier to properly immediate cash-finance [little to none debt funding required] sour natgas, and sour, heavy crude projects, while simultaneously forcing a faster ramp of O-NPK recycling.

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

Joule Biotechnologies grows genetically engineered microorganisms in specially designed photobioreactors. The microorganisms use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol or hydrocarbon fuels (such as diesel or components of gasoline). The organisms excrete the fuel, which can then be collected using conventional chemical-separation technologies.

I like how this is stated as if the processes for separating the oil/ethanol/hydrocarbons from the growth media without killing all the organisms (in the case of an excreting system), or being prohibitively expensively (in the case of drying algae) has been readily solved.

Typical marketing speak.

Hello TODers,

How many other cites will soon relocate their destitute Overshoot?

NEW YORK - New York City is buying one-way plane tickets for homeless families to leave the city.

It's part of a Bloomberg administration program to keep the homeless out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. More than 550 families have left the city since 2007. All it takes is for a relative to agree to take them in.

..Families have been sent to 24 states and five continents, mostly to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

City officials say none of the relocated families have returned to city shelters.
Of course, the logical conclusion to this trend will be to forcibly round up the poor, as opposed to helping them, then relocate them to even worse areas WTSHTF. I anticipate no shortage of those willing to have a #119198 tattoo in exchange for daily eggs, ham, and jam.

Will future American families, with last names like Chin, O'Hannitty, Verducci, Smythe, Chekov, Rodriguez, Olsen, Yokosuke, et al, suddenly find themselves off-loaded in Haiti, with orders to find their long-lost Haitian relative that surprisingly offered to take them in?

I hear the supply of mud cookies is nearly unlimited...

Of course the logical conclusion is yet another dystopian doomer fantasyland...

Biofuel from genetically engineered bacteria. Hmmm put a lot of same species together all in one place and what are you likely to get - something that preys on them would be my bet based on the planet's experience. So we come to depend on these bacteria to keep our lifestyle up and then a disease hits the bacteria and its powerdown once again.

OTOH what if they escape - anyone know what they might do to the world we depend on for our sustenance.

What are the other materials needed to contain these wonder workers and siphon off their product? What food do they need? How much STUFF that they are not telling us about do we need to do this project?

But probably not to worry, like all of these miracle plans the devil is in the details, and likely will fail.

It's probably just a way to attract venture capital, which will have primarily wound up in the pockets of the people running the company by the time it is revealed that it is actually impossible to scale the technology up from the bench top experiment level to commercial production. It's only worth paying attention to these sorts of claims when they have a fully operational pilot plant.

Exiled, you hit the nail on the head. Remember thermal depolymerization - we were going to get oil from turkey guts or just about anything else. Per wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_depolymerization
Status as of February 2009

A May 2003 article in Discover magazine stated, "Appel has lined up federal grant money to help build demonstration plants to process chicken offal and manure in Alabama and crop residuals and grease in Nevada. Also in the works are plants to process turkey waste and manure in Colorado and pork and cheese waste in Italy. He says the first generation of depolymerization centers will be up and running in 2005. By then it should be clear whether the technology is as miraculous as its backers claim."[23]

However, as of August 2008, the only operational plant listed at the company's website is the initial one in Carthage, Missouri.[24]

Changing World Technology applied for an IPO on 12 Aug 2008, hoping to raise $100 million. [25]

The unusual Dutch Auction type IPO failed possibly because CWT has lost nearly $20 million with very little revenue.[26] [27]

CWT, the parent company of Renewable Energy Solutions, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. No details on plans for the Carthage plant have been released.[28]

I don't really know much about the thermal depolymerization process but as I understand it,the process itself works ok.

Apparently it's the business model that is at fault.

The corn ethanol model folks are all busted as a result of an uxexpected squeeze bewteen the price of corn and the price of ethanol.

It is my understanding that CWT was caught in the same trap-the inputs they expected to get for next to nothing suddenly became worth a lot more as feedstocks for other purposes-the manufacture of pet food,livestock food, and organic fertilizer..

When the price went up, the business model went down,is the way I heard it.

But I don't know for sure if this is true.

I have worked out a way to find out stuff like this that is fast and dirt cheap,but very dicey.

Google the business,google the nieghborhood,search a couple of phone numbers on the net and get on your cell phone.

If you have a plausible reason for calling,such as being interested in obtaining a catalog, or a sample,or just to ask-as if you were a trucker calling for exact directions to the plant-a question,a leading remark will get you all kinds of info sometimes.

A a supposed trucker,all you need to get some bored clerk started is "i bet the way business is now I won't have to wait long to get unloaded"and half the time you will hear plenty.

I do know that Warren Buffet put a lot of early money into this company and he is not known as a big risk taker.