Drumbeat: August 3, 2009

How much oil do Opec countries really have?

This artificial scarcity that Opec manages to create did not allow oil prices to fall. The same idle capacity has been used to pump extra oil into the market to prevent dramatic price rises during times of unexpected supply interventions. Most of this idle capacity is in Saudi Arabia, the largest member of the Opec.

"This encouraged the belief that Opec could always be relied upon to make up the difference between non-Opec supply and global demand, whatever the circumstances. Economists, oil analysts and government officials all succumbed to the reassuring view that the 'call on Opec' could expand almost indefinitely," writes David Strahan in his book The Last Oil Shock -- A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man.

Oil Climbs Above $72, Gasoline Jumps on Prospect of Demand Gain

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose above $72 a barrel for the first time in a month and gasoline surged as increasing industrial activity bolstered optimism that fuel consumption will rebound.

Oil gained as much as 3.9 percent after reports showed that U.S. manufacturing shrank at the slowest pace in 11 months and factory output in China advanced to the highest level in almost a year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed above 1,000 for the first time since November, also bolstering optimism that raw-material demand and prices will increase.

Oil Prices: Past $70 on Economic Optimism; Just Wait for ‘Peak Oil’

They say that second marriages represent the triumph of hope over experience. The same, it seems, is true of the oil market.

Economic oil spill on the horizon?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices are on the march again, rising above $71 a barrel Monday for the first time in more than a month.

The good news is that increased optimism about an economic recovery is one big factor behind the jump in crude prices. The bad news is that if oil prices continue to rise, we may have to kiss those recovery hopes goodbye.

Oil Is Still the Key to U.S. Economic Future

Recently there has been a plethora of articles in the financial press, including SeekingAlpha, intimating the weakness of large integrated oil companies based on the last couple quarterly earnings reports. Most of the authors of such articles have a very short memory and obviously need a reality check. I'm happy to oblige.

Iraq to reinstate national oil company?

BAGHDAD (UPI) -- The Cabinet of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki approved a draft law to reinstate the Iraq National Oil Co., sending the matter for parliamentary approval.

Japan's refiners facing hard choices, must seek alliances to ease closings

Japanese refiners face a surplus of capacity at a time of massive global refining surpluses.

Analysis by the East-West Center, Honolulu, of Japan’s oil-product demand and exports outlook estimates Japan’s excess refining capacity for 2009 at 780,000 b/d, 990,000 b/d for 2010, and 1.4 million b/d for 2015. These estimates are based on current refining capacity and assume 93% yield for main petroleum fuels.

To optimize production, logistics, and commercial competitiveness, Japan’s refiners must make strategic and innovative decisions because petroleum will continue to be a vital mineral used mainly for transportation and as feedstock for petrochemical production. And petroleum remains an important commodity for Japan’s energy security.

Shell’s long hunt yields Saudi gas discovery

A Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary yesterday announced a natural gas discovery in Saudi Arabia, but tough commercial terms in the kingdom may prevent it from developing the find, analysts say.

Four teams of foreign partners searching for gas in the Rub al Khali desert have failed to announce any major discoveries in four years of drilling, representing a major setback to the country’s plans to build more power stations and develop heavy industry fed by gas.

Special Report: Pemex, PDVSA, Petrobras: how strategies, results differ

National oil companies control the vast majority of the world’s oil reserves, produce most of the planet’s crude, and own much of the oil and gas infrastructure, which makes them major forces in the industry.

But while competing as oil companies globally, NOCs face special challenges locally as agents of their governments with obligations to serve the needs of their nations. Some are successfully expanding operations beyond their borders. Some are struggling with depleting resources. And some have become the focus of political ambitions and the center of confrontations.

Saudi Aramco awards $400 mln seismic data contracts

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco has awarded $400 million worth of seismic contracts as it steps up oil and gas exploration in the kingdom, industry sources said on Monday.

The data-gathering contracts will cover the Red Sea and the 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) Moneefa oilfield, said the sources from BGB Arabia.

Vietnam: Fishing vessels caught in tangle of crew shortage, high fuel cost

Fishermen have also been worried about heading to sea in the wake of rising fuel prices after a government subsidy policy ended in March, the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper reports.

Diesel prices have increased by a total VND1,600 ($ 0.09) per liter in June and July, which means the costs for offshore fishing vessels increased by between 15-20 percent.

“Between 15-20 percent of 1,270 fishing boats in Tra Vinh Province’s Cau Ngang District haven’t headed offshore for fear of making losses,” said Duong Tan Dom, deputy head of the district’s Agriculture and Rural Development agency.

Refineries play catch-up following shutdown

Some Calgary gasoline stations may continue to run short of fuel this week, even after Petro-Canada and Imperial Oil restarted refineries shut down by a recent storm.

With gasoline supply already tight in Western Canada, Petro-Canada said it is rationing fuel and bringing in shipments from Montreal and British Columbia to alleviate the shortfall.

Oil brings wealth, and burden of responsibility

“Arab oil policy is based on the recognition that oil is a vital and strategic commodity for the world economy, and that producer countries have a responsibility to provide it reliably, without interruptions, and at reasonable prices,” he writes in the report.

“This responsibility requires the investment of tens of billions of dollars annually to expand capacity in order to meet incremental demand. It also extends to substituting for any major shortage in global markets, whether caused by industrial or political developments, or natural disasters.”

Nuke Power Comes Closer As Emirates Accept Key Protocols

ABU DHABI (Bernama) -- The Federal Government has agreed to three international conventions on nuclear safety in preparation for a formal launch of the country's nuclear power programme, expected within the month, the state news agency, WAM, said citing a report by "The National" Monday.

U.S. Needs to Add 45 Nuclear Reactors, Emissions Study Finds

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. needs to build 45 nuclear reactors and reduce power consumption by 8 percent by 2030 to meet greenhouse-gas emission reductions called for by Congress, a report funded by the electric industry says.

The Electric Power Research Institute, whose members produce and deliver more than 90 percent of U.S. power, issued the report today. It also calls building 100 million plug-in electric vehicles and retrofitting about 18 percent of U.S. coal-power plants to capture emissions.

California should revive nuclear energy option

Given the fiscal challenges facing California, there will be great temptation to put on hold any major new projects. It's important to remember, however, that postponing spending commitments doesn't mean they disappear; rather, costs rise even higher later while the needs remain.

As they re-examine options, this is an opportune time for California's legislators to address a continuing problem for the growing state and take a longer view of the state's energy policies. With the added financial imperative of making the most cost-efficient investment in California's energy infrastructure, perhaps it is time to rethink the state's position on new nuclear power plants.

Kunstler: Hunky Dory

When The Long Emergency was published in 2005, I said then that the greatest danger this society faced would be its inclination to gear up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs -- rather than face the need to make new arrangements for daily life. That appears to be exactly what has happened, and it didn't happen under the rule of some backward-facing, right-wing, Jesus-haunted crypto-fascist, but rather a "progressive" party led by a dynamically affable young man unburdened by deep cultural allegiance to Wall Street. Barack Obama has been sucked in and suckered. "Change you can believe in" has morphed into "a status quo you will bend heaven and earth to hold onto."

House GOP leaders urge to end to OCS delay

WASHINGTON, DC – Ninety-eight US House Republicans urged Interior Sec. Ken Salazar to end a 6-month delay early and move ahead with a 2010-15 federal offshore oil and gas leasing plan he halted on Feb. 10.

Japan confused about Chinese deal over Iranian oil field

TOKYO — The Japanese government called for international cooperation Monday to address Iran’s nuclear development, suggesting China’s recent move to take a major stake in an Iranian oil field may hamper such global efforts. ‘‘I think we have got a premise that the international community must cooperate to handle that problem,’’ Japanese Vice Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Harufumi Mochizuki said when asked about China’s action, which came after Japan gave up part of its concession in Iran’s Azadegan oil field amid criticism over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

‘‘It is not desirable that international cooperation collapses this way,’’ Mochizuki also told reporters. Media reports over the weekend said China’s state-run oil company has signed a memorandum with that of Iran to obtain a 70% stake in one of the largest oil fields in the Middle East.

Oil: Speculating on higher prices

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Oil prices hit their highest level in a month Monday on hopes that the U.S. economy was finally on the road to recovery. Still, that recovery is taking a lot longer than oil traders had hoped. Prices are nowhere near their all-time high of $147 a barrel a year ago.

Longer-term, what does this continued softness at home mean for the direction of prices? Our guess is less than you'd think.

It's been some time since U.S. demand was the primary driver of global oil prices.

Commentary: Global Energy Drivers in a “Black Swan World”

Last year the global credit crunch and its knock-on effects precipitated the sharpest oil and gas price declines in over two decades. Despite the recent $100+/ Bbl price implosion and subsequent partial recovery, we have now entered an historic inflection point—call it “practical peak oil”—in the global balance of conventional energy supplies due to:

1) undeniable conventional resource maturity—an aging infrastructure above aging oil fields;

2) entrenched resource nationalism;

3) realigned economic and national security interests—the resource base could accommodate further growth if the oil were not in the hands of countries acting increasingly in their own self interest; and

4) environmental sensitivities.

Due to recent low prices, we have seen evidence of powerful self-correcting forces regarding the future supply outlook for oil and gas. To cite just one example, given investment trends we thought two million barrels of production from the Canadian oil sands was likely by 2011. With slowdowns due to low prices and other concerns, 2 mb/day is more likely by 2014-2015. And this is just one example of many around the world.

Cycle Law: Should Bikes Be Treated Like Cars?

One of the beauties of bike riding is the freedom. You buy one, or find one, and just jump on. There are no taxes, no fuel to buy and almost anything that goes wrong can be fixed by the rider. They’re also cheap enough that anyone can own one.

But should bikes be treated more like cars? Further, is it even possible to do so?

Cash for Clunkers lifts Ford sales

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Ford Motor Co. reported a 2% gain in July auto sales compared to a year earlier, the first increase from any U.S.-based automaker since November 2007.

Big wheels

Whether you want to hit the trails, get some exercise or just commute to work, there's a bike custom-built for you. Here are five sets of wheels -- all by American artisans -- for five different types of riders.

Sage grouse supporters take on wind farms

Environmentalists say wind farms could disrupt the chicken-sized bird's habitat. But green energy advocates say wind power is key to fighting global warming.

U.S. Weighs Cutting Off Iran’s Gasoline Imports if Nuclear Talks Are Rejected

The Obama administration is talking with allies and Congress about the possibility of imposing an extreme economic sanction against Iran if it fails to respond to President Obama’s offer to negotiate on its nuclear program: cutting off the country’s imports of gasoline and other refined oil products.

The option of acting against companies around the world that supply Iran with 40 percent of its gasoline has been broached with European allies and Israel, officials from those countries said. Legislation that would give Mr. Obama that authority already has 71 sponsors in the Senate and similar legislation is expected to sail through the House.

Oil hits one-month high near $71

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose to a one-month high near $71 a barrel on Monday as positive Chinese economic data and firmer equities bolstered hopes of economic recovery and higher energy demand.

The market climbed about 2 percent last week -- the third straight week of gains -- which helped to reverse steep losses in the middle of the month and brought July's monthly decline to a marginal 0.6 percent.

OPEC’s Production Rose a Fourth Month in July, Survey Indicates

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased oil output for a fourth month in July, with quota compliance slipping as some members took advantage of strong prices, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Oil output averaged 28.39 million barrels a day last month, up 45,000 from June, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. The 11 OPEC members with quotas, all except Iraq, pumped 26.035 million barrels a day, 1.19 million more than their target.

Saudi Arabia to see 'small' budget deficit this year

A surge in spending will ally with a sharp decline in oil export earnings to plunge Saudi Arabia into a fiscal deficit in 2009 for the first time in seven years but the shortfall will be easily managed, independent estimates showed yesterday.

As the actual shortfall could be as low as four per cent of the gross domestic product and the kingdom's foreign assets are at their peak, it will constitute no problem to the world's dominant oil power.

Germany’s Brimming Heating-Oil Tanks Signal Winter Demand Slump

(Bloomberg) -- German consumers, Europe’s largest buyers of heating oil, have filled their tanks more than usual this year, signaling weak demand in the coming winter.

Exxon Mobil Says Output From RasGas LNG Unit 6 Is ‘Imminent’

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, said production from its new liquefied natural-gas unit in Qatar is “imminent.”

Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co.’s train 6 “was mechanically completed during the second quarter,” David Rosenthal, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of investor relations, said in a conference call with analysts on July 30. “Gas is flowing into the unit and first LNG production is imminent.”

Roubini Says Commodity Prices May Rise in 2010

(Bloomberg) -- Commodity prices may rise further in 2010 as the global recession abates, said Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist who predicted the financial crisis.

“As the global economy goes toward growth as opposed to a recession you are going to see further increases in commodity prices especially next year,” Roubini said today at the Diggers and Dealers mining conference in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. “There is now potentially light at the end of the tunnel.”

China crude stocks down 2.7 pct from record high

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's crude oil stocks declined in June from a record high at the end of May, the official Xinhua news agency reported in a newsletter on Monday, as record crude processing drew down inventories despite hefty imports.

Crude stockpiles, including both state strategic reserves and commercial ones, declined 2.7 percent from a month earlier to 37.7 million tonnes or 275 million barrels at the end of June, according to the China Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals, or equivalent to around 77 days of net imports.

Iraq's Kurds and Arabs Struggle to Defuse Tensions

Iraq's prime minister headed north Sunday to the self-ruled Kurdish region to defuse rising tensions and address a range of disputes that have poisoned relations and threatened to become a new source of the conflict for the battered country as U.S. forces increasingly disengage.

RWE Seeks More Turkmen Natural Gas to Fill Pipeline to Europe

(Bloomberg) -- RWE AG, the German utility seeking to cut reliance on Russian natural gas, may get greater access to reserves in Turkmenistan after agreeing to develop a Caspian Sea block off the country’s coast.

“I’m confident that through the one option, others will open,” Georg Schoening, who heads RWE’s oil and gas unit, said in an interview on July 30. “We have to see what else the Turkmen offer us or what comes up in tender processes.”

Exxon Sees Natural Gas Potential with New Drilling Technique

Dozens of workers mill around a jumble of pipes and whirring equipment surrounding 10 natural gas wells operated by Exxon Mobil Corp.

At this well site in the desert, 80 miles west of the Rocky Mountains tourism hive, the men load cranes, operate pumps and monitor little red lines on computer screens. The work must happen simultaneously, in a carefully orchestrated ballet, to keep the well costs low -- and profit high enough -- to be worth the effort of the country's largest oil company.

"We're about 15 minutes away from a new frac being born," Randy Tolman, Exxon's project coordinator for the Piceance Basin, shouts over the noise. He invented this faster method of fracturing, or "fracing," the underground layers of rock and sand to unlock natural gas.

Back to $1 a gallon gas? It’s possible with natural gas

How does filling your tank for $1 per gallon sound?

Well, if you were using compressed natural gas, better known as CNG, that’s about what you would be paying today.

The economic benefits of CNG are so beautiful that many natural gas exploration and production companies are shouting these benefits from the highest rooftops.

Indonesian Oil Output May Rise to 965,000 Barrels a Day in 2010

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest oil and gas producer, may increase oil and condensate production by 0.5 percent next year, helped by additional output from new fields including Cepu, partly operated by Exxon Mobil Corp.

Output may average 965,000 barrels a day in 2010, while crude oil may average $60 a barrel, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told parliament today. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said in a June 1 statement to the parliament that the country may produce 960,000 barrels of oil and condensate a day in 2009, while oil may range between $50 and $60 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia May Cut Asian Oil Prices as Demand Falls

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia may cut the official price of its Light oil for September sales to Asia as a slump in demand for diesel fuel and gasoline reduced refiners’ crude purchases in the past month, refinery officials said.

Official: Energy industry not for the faint of heart

The oil and gas industry is one of exhilarating highs and dismal lows, and, as evident by the most recent economic downturn, the two sometimes can be no more than a few months apart.

But that fact doesn’t discourage many people with an entrepreneurial spirit from pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry, maybe hoping to strike it big, like the wildcatters of old.

Ford to post first monthly sales increase in 2 years

CHICAGO (AP) — Surging demand from the government's "cash for clunkers" program has helped lift Ford Motor Co. to its first monthly increase in two years, the company's top sales analyst said Sunday.

July sales results mark the first year-over-year gain for Ford since November 2007 and apparently the first uptick by any of the six biggest carmakers since last August, George Pipas said.

Asian giants put the West’s targets for solar energy in the shade

For years India and China have been cast in the West as the biggest obstacles to international agreement on how to tackle climate change. Now the two emerging economic giants of Asia have challenged the West to match their bold plans to develop solar power.

EDF, Enel Create Joint Venture for Nuclear Reactors in Italy

(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, and Enel SpA created a joint venture to develop at least four new-generation nuclear reactors in Italy more than two decades after the country banned atomic energy production.

College students are flocking to sustainability degrees, careers

Students interested in pursuing a job in sustainability now can choose from a variety of "green" degree programs.

With an increased interest in the environment and growth in the "green collar" job sector, colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate sustainability into their programs. From MBAs in sustainable-business practices to programs that give students the technical training necessary to operate wind turbines, students have an increasing array of options to choose from.

In Hawaii, coral reefs protected with big fines

HONOLULU (AP) — Wrecking coral will cost you in Hawaii.

A Maui tour company is paying the state nearly $400,000 for damaging more than 1,200 coral colonies when one of its boats sank at Molokini, a pristine reef and popular diving spot. Another tour operator faces penalties for wrecking coral when it illegally dropped an anchor on a Maui reef.

The state plans to sue the U.S. Navy to seek compensation for coral ruined when a guided missile cruiser the length of two football fields ran aground near Pearl Harbor in February.

The fines began issuing fines two years ago as part of its efforts to punish those who damage a resource critical to Hawaii's fragile environment and tourism, the state's No. 1 industry.

Christian Leaders Urged to Speak Out for Climate Change Victims

Over 152 Christian leaders and development professionals from 38 countries are rallying church leaders, CEOs, and NGO and parachurch group directors around the world to join their call to world leaders ahead of critical climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

The leaders, who drafted a statement last month while attending the Micah Network Global Consultation on Climate Change in Limuru, Kenya, are urging world leaders to take decisive action to secure an ambitious and fair climate deal this year in Copenhagen,.where they will seek to agree on a post-2012 climate agreement that will replace the current Kyoto protocol.

Duke Energy Elbows Co-ops for Carbon Permits in Climate Measure

(Bloomberg) -- Some of the largest U.S. electricity companies, including Duke Energy Corp. and American Electric Power Co., are fighting what may be a $100 billion battle with smaller cooperatives, community providers and state regulators over the right to pollute.

Japan Utilities Emit Less CO2 as Recession Cuts Power Output

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. and nine other Japanese utilities emitted 5.3 percent less carbon dioxide after the global recession reduced demand for electricity.

The generators emitted 395 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the year ended March, compared with 416.9 million tons a year earlier, according to Bloomberg News calculations using data released by the utilities. In the previous year, power generation accounted for 30 percent of Japan’s overall greenhouse-gas emissions.

Report: Calif. should gird for heat, rising sea

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Even if the world is successful in cutting carbon emissions in the future, California needs to start preparing for rising sea levels, hotter weather and other effects of climate change, a new state report recommends.

It encourages local communities to rethink future development in low-lying coastal areas, reinforce levees that protect flood-prone areas and conserve already strapped water supplies.

"We still have to adapt, no matter what we do, because of the nature of the greenhouse gases," said Tony Brunello, deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, who helped prepare the report. "Those gases are still going to be in the atmosphere for the next 100 years."

How to Lick a Slug

All this comes to mind because for most of us in the industrialized world, nature is a rarer and rarer part of our lives. Children for 1,000 generations grew up exploring fields, itching with poison oak and discovering the hard way what a wasp nest looks like. That’s no longer true.

Paul, a fourth grader in San Diego, put it this way: “I like to play indoors better, ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.” Paul was quoted in a thoughtful book by Richard Louv, “Last Child in the Woods,” that argued that baby boomers “may constitute the last generation of Americans to share an intimate, familial attachment to the land and water.”

Only 2 percent of American households now live on farms, compared with 40 percent in 1900. Suburban childhood that once meant catching snakes in fields now means sanitized video play dates scheduled a week in advance. One study of three generations of 9-year-olds found that by 1990 the radius from the house in which they were allowed to roam freely was only one-ninth as great as it had been in 1970.

Peak Oil Date -

How is it that people can keep suggesting that peak oil will occur in 10 to 20 more years?
Where is all the new production that will take us to a level higher than 2008?
What year will they finally realize that 2008 was the peak?

I guess maybe there are some "secret" reserves that are not published?
Only time will tell.....

I've not actually tried this, but if you were to plot a 1 year or 6 month moving average for oil production the peak might lie anywhere between 2005 & 2008. Montly production figures are too noisy.


oil production the peak might lie anywhere between 2005 & 2008

Exactly, my computer shows a peak of C+C around the beginning of 2005.

But don't trust the data, EIA and IEA versions are almost always different, and subject to revisions at a later date.

Also 'peak oil' is a 'crude oil and condensate' problem not 'all liquids' - if you see somebody quoting 'all liquids' figures suspect statistical manipulation to paint a rosy picture for some reason!

The inability of 'all liquids' to keep up the 1.6% a year growth required post 2005 peak to allow economic BAU, even at today's low volumes, tells me that adequate alternate liquid fuels are a non-starter since they are less affordable than C+C.

If current crude oil volumes can't keep up with BAU growth, less affordable alternates certainly won't - the implication is that growth is over for any society relying on oil for economic growth.

I guess maybe there are some "secret" reserves that are not published?

You can find the secret 'new' reserves on www.aapg.org
Categorised by year and location. Numerous fields, however most of them very small.

I know about the yearly roundup of discoveries they publish in the January Explorer, is there an actual database you can ref on their site?

I know about the yearly roundup of discoveries they publish in the January Explorer, is there an actual database you can ref on their site?

In Explorer click on Archives. The site is www.aapg.org/explorer/archives.cfm

That's what I was talking about - the "World Developments" issue each January, that has the parade of notable discoveries courtesy of the IHS department. I've built up a few years issues into a spreadsheet, to try and see if any of these were making it into actual production. Not the most thorough database, but then these are the ostensible cream of the crop, hence most likely to become supply.

If published on the web, these are NOT the "secret" reserves.
Only the Top Secret classified info would reveal the "secret" reserves.

India pays couples to put off having children

Satara, funded by the National Rural Health Mission, is offering couples a reward of 5,000 rupees (£62) if they delay having a child for two years (70 rupees a day is a good wage in rural areas). If they wait another year, they receive a further 2,500 rupees.

The birthrate in the district rose from 16.5 births a thousand people in 2005 to 17 in 2007. The project initially attracted 977 couples, but that figure has risen to 2,366.

That's about 104 US dollars but they get another 52 bucks if they wait another year. As the article states the average wage in the area is about 70 rupees per day or about $1.46. I also find it interesting that the birth rate is rising, not falling as most peopel assume.

Ron P.

What a novel idea to pay people not to have children.
Next, they will pay people to commit suicide or murder.......

Many armed services of many different nations pay one group to kill another.
Plenty of murder for hire cases have passed through the courts.


she realized that terrorism is actually a business. When she talked to him, she realized that he thought like a banker or fellow economist...

So I'm not sure where you get the "next" from. Because if one was paying attention, people are already being paid to kill others.

Just this morning on NPR they were talking to an American woman who married a German and moved to Dusseldorf. They have a five month old child and the German government pays them a stipend for being parents. They are concerned about the aging of the population and hence are subsidizing parenthood. The concern is that in the coming decades there will be many elderly Germans and not enough young workers to support the society, unless they pay people to have children.

Their concern should be all those elderly Germans in the middle of December and Russia shutting off/running out of natural gas...

Gee, I guess they are...

RWE Seeks More Turkmen Natural Gas to Fill Pipeline to Europe

RWE AG, the German utility seeking to cut reliance on Russian natural gas, may get greater access to reserves in Turkmenistan after agreeing to develop a Caspian Sea block off the country’s coast.

“I’m confident that through the one option, others will open,” Georg Schoening, who heads RWE’s oil and gas unit, said in an interview on July 30. “We have to see what else the Turkmen offer us or what comes up in tender processes.”

RWE is a partner in the Nabucco project, a planned pipeline that will ship Caspian-region gas via Turkey to Austria starting in 2014. The link is intended to cut Europe’s dependence on Russian fuel, helping avoid a repeat of the cutoffs that reduced supplies to the region twice in the last three years.

Australia also subsidises breeding, via the $5000 Baby Bonus. :(


If Iran fires a nuke, who will be the first to respond?

If Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, who will respond?

Maybe no one on both counts.......

Hey, Iran, we are just going to cut off your Gasoline imports. So don't get too pissed at U.S....don't do anything stupid, like cut off our supply of crude thru the Straights....

Oky Doky??

Isn't that what the US did to Japan, followed by the Japanese response at Pearl Harbour?


Couldn't have said it better myself!

It really makes one have faith in the so-called people's representatives in Congress, doesn't it?

If I recall correctly, in rough ballpark numbers, Iran exports something like 2.5 million bbl of oil per day and imports roughly 250,000 bbl of gasoline, which is about 40% of its total gasoline usage. (Someone out there correct me if I'm way off). So we are threatening the world's fourth largest oil exporter with cutting off some of their relatively modest gasoline imports.

And of course, Iran closing off the Straits of Hormuz is very real and credible threat that if carried out would plunge the world oil markets into instant chaos, with the already shaky global economy soon to follow. Yeah, this would be a really smart move on our part.

However, there may be an ulterior motive to the whole thing. Perhaps the US and Israel are trying to force Iran to strike back in the same manner that Japan struck back on December 7, 1941, only a few months after we had cut off our oil shipments to Japan. That would give US/Israel an excuse to finally attack Iran .... something that the US pro-Israel lobby has been trying to push the US into for many years.

But if a country like China sends a tanker full of gasoline to Iran, is the US Navy really going to forcibly stop it? And what if that tanker is escorted by a Chinese naval vessel, are we going to sink it? It seems to me that we are playing a game of Russian roulette with 5 bullets in the 6-bullet chamber. Hardly a winning proposition.

When one sees stuff like this, is there a chance in hell that these buffoons in Washington are even remotely capable of getting us out of this energy mess rather than making it much worse?

I think we're on our own.


As far as I can see, there has never been any reason for anyone to suspect that Iran is attempting to produce atomic weapons. No independant evidence has ever been produced that such a scenario might exist. No more than the fictitious WMD in Iraq, used as the pathetic excuse to invade and pulverise that nation, with perhaps a million civilian deaths.

This fantasy seems to only exist within the psychotic ravings of the US and Israeli military cadres. Sadly these two military forces and their backing governments have more than enough nuclear firepower to wipe out all lifeforms higher than bacteria and viruses. They also appear to have far less intelligence than either a single virus or bacterium.

For some strange reason, not discernible from outside the US, the leaders of that nation seem to have a frenetic desire to constantly create fantasy threats to their sovereignty.

One can only assume that the pentagon peabrains have chosen Iran as the next target for their futile invasion activities.

The pathetic Yanks should have learned from their sanction and embargo efforts against Cuba, that such efforts only serve to increase the power and resistance of the afflicted nation.

As an Empire builder, the US has been a spectacular failure. Ever since the f*ckup of Suez, the US has always chosen the wrong way to attempt to "Win the Hearts and Minds" of the invaded nations. Bombing sh*t out of people, and then telling them that you are their "saviours" doesn't work.

If there is ever to be a chance for a chaos-free and violence-free world, the first and most critical requirement is for the US to repatriate all its military forces from other nations, and to also stop trying to implant the pathetically false concept of "American Democracy" on other nations.

Al-qaida and its clones would never have come into being if the Yanks had stayed at home.

Sadly, it appears inevitable that Yankee stupidity will force a confrontation with Iran, that can only lead to a much faster collapse of the global energy markets. Very few Sunburn missiles will be needed to knock out Ras Tanura and close the Staits of Hormuz. Even without any nuclear weapons, Iran can destroy the US economy,as they retaliate to the (almost) inevitable attack.


I suspect that what the Iranians really want is not so much to build a nuke ASAP, but rather to have the "break out" capacity to build one quickly should they ever need one.

If Iran fires a nuke, who will be the first to respond?

If Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, who will respond?

"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living."- Omar N. Bradley

If Israel attacks, I would't expect a respose. Iran knows better. They saw what happened to Iraq when they peeved the world off by attacking another country (in that case, Kuwait). They don't want the friendly American soldiers from Baghdad coming over to visit Tehran.

Iran would do better to act the victim and try to re-frame the argument into an economic 'don't do business with the aggressors'.

How to Lick a Slug

Last summer a few relatives sent their kids to us to give them a bit of country living. They rarely left the house last time, even though they had restricted access to the computer and forbidden to down load or install anything when they did have access. Without their artificial stimulation they were cabbages, spending their time fiddling with mobile phones, Gameboys and other bits of techno-junk they'd brought with them as backup.

The end of civilisation for them will be when their screens go blank. Unbelievably, they'd wait 20 minutes for a bus to avoid a 10 minute walk. It's hard to envision such a generation having a future, even without knowing what's ahead of us. Yet, they're the ones who are going to take humanity through the bottleneck.

I'm sure they'll adjust, if necessary.

But I do find it sad, how constrained childhood has become. I was kind of a geek as a kid myself, more interested in books than playing outside. Still...I spent a lot of time outside. It was just what kids did. City, suburb, or country, alone or with friends or family, kids played outside. We wandered so far my mom would probably have had a heart attack if she knew, and grounded me for life if she had any idea of what we did. But she didn't know, and as long as we were back in time for dinner, she was happy to have us out from underfoot.

My 11 year old granddaughter has spent the summer with us. I've tried to get her to help out in the garden but she resents it and mopes when I make her work, and doesn't do a very good job. It's easier just to capitulate and let her be a slug. I don't need her visit to be a constant struggle to get her to do anything. She won't want to come back next year if I make her contribute. One morning we were running late so my son asked his niece to feed & water the hens. She had trouble with the latch on the pen and rather than asking her grandmother for assistance she just blew off the birds & they went all day without water in brutal heat. It's a wonder we didn't lose some or all of them. My son & I were angry at her when we got home. I don't know how to force children to accept responsibility. If I adopted a "you don't work you don't eat" policy, she'd just call her mom & complain that I was being "mean" and want to go home, and wouldn't want to come visit anymore. So she spends the day watching movies, reading & listening to her i-pod.

Wow, that's really sad. As a grandparent, you probably can't force her to accept responsibility. But you'd think she would, if she understood how the birds were suffering.

I loved animals as a kid, and always enjoyed time spent with them. I even used to help out with the rats in my dad's lab, which were wild, and doomed to either be poisoned or sacrificed. I still didn't want them to go without water.

It is so comforting to know that when we get older, we will be dependent upon the tender mercies of such little darlings.


hahaha --
on the other note --- thanks to us for leaving such a crappy world to them.

I put the blame on us -- they are what we "mold" them to be. It's sux that we did such a bad job.
I guess most of TODers are very good models -- but 99.9% of society just follow the "great leader" --
be it the President, the Congress, or the Media.

Until that 99.9% become a 50+%, I see no hope for us to move forward. The good news is that eventually
we will reach 50% -- the bad news is the path to get there will be quite traumatic.

There are no, bad children in the world, only piss poor parents......

Then they grow up to be piss poor parents themselves.

There are no, bad children in the world,

Yes there are.


Dr. Essi Viding of the London Kings College Institute of Psychiatry and colleagues have found the tendency toward psychopathic behavior has a strong genetic component. (same press release here)

New research on the origins of antisocial behaviour, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, suggests that early-onset antisocial behaviour in children with psychopathic tendencies is largely inherited.

Hahaha -- if bad parents stop having children then we won't be bombarded with so many "bad children"... Hmmm, so which comes first? The "bad parents" with "bad genes", or the "bad children" with the "bad genes"?

I have a ten year old son and I can tell you they are, as a generation mostly like that.
To a large extent, we are all a product of our environment and it is very hard to fight the tide of this electronic gadget culture.
Our children will change when our society treats them as though they are the future and not a future consumer.

Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela's Ashes, died last last week and NPR replayed an interview with the author. He made a couple of comments which deserve repeating:

"When I was teaching I would often overhear my students talking among themselves about a program they had watched the night before. One day I realized the difference between my generation and theirs. When we would come to school we would talk about what we did the night before."

"If you want to give your children something worthwhile give them nothing. And give them nothing in front of F.A.O. Schwarz."


Nowadays, you can't even discuss the program you watched the night before. Nobody watches the same thing.

True dat. I recommend Venture Bros for overall hilarity.

"This show... If you'll permit me to get 'big picture,' this show is actually all about failure. Even in the design, everything is supposed to be kinda the death of the space-age dream world. The death of the jet-age promises." —Jackson Publick

"Yeah failure, that's what Venture Bros. is all about. Beautiful, sublime failure." —Doc Hammer

Venture Bros: Themes, homages, and references

We'd do well if Dr. Venture's father was in charge. Instead, Rusty is who is running the world today. Only someone with even less scientific competence than even him.

I'm still waiting for my Walking Eye.

I wish Dr. Girlfriend were in charge:

Yes, I kind of have a crush on her.

As I read & understood it.... Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper had a front page article on how NJ will encourage developers (through tax breaks) to build more commercial property.


I wonder if others have heard anything similar: I ran into an old aquiantance who's family is into imported specialty foods. He said that apparently due to climatic changes he's noticed:

- two crab species (no further details) have grown with poorer quality shells in recent years.

- many root crops have been lost in last two years due to increased rainfall/humidity in places that hadn't seen these conditions in the past.

Poor shell quality is more likely the result of ocean acidification, global warming's evil twin.

Climate change is expected to wreak havoc with agriculture generally.

The exoskeletons of crabs is composed of chitin which is a polysaccharide. Lower pH affects the calcium carbonate shells of mollusks but shouldn't have any affect on chitin, unless it's via an overall metabolic debilitation.

Ah cool, thanks for the info, DD!

I don't see it up yet on the APSO-USA website, but today's e-mailed Peak OIl Review says:

The chief scientist at the Department of Energy, Stephen Koonin, warned the Western Energy Summit that moving away from fossil fuels will require a calibrated judgment about what projects should be pursued and in what order.

Koonin maintains that there are simply not enough time and resources to let “1000 flowers bloom indiscriminately” and that carbon capture, nuclear, and biofuels should be the first priority. He would prefer that widespread adoption of electric cars be put off to concentrate on increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines.

He believes that the production of electricity using wind and solar will increase of its own accord but is unlikely to exceed 20 percent of US production. Nuclear and carbon sequestered coal will be needed to make up the difference.

Koonin believes that resource constraints soon will force the Department of Energy to narrow its focus onto the most promising technologies.

I think the problem is that views on the most promising technologies are likely to differ. I have a hard time seeing CCS working in any reasonable timeframe (and without huge risk of a "burp", leaving us worse off).

I saw that one just now as well.
CCS means burning 20 - 40% more coal in a CCS power station, according to engineer friends this side of the pond.
Still, you can see where USA will try to go. Would not want to put my money on biofuels, either, but so it goes ...

I think the problem is that views on the most promising technologies are likely to differ. I have a hard time seeing CCS working in any reasonable timeframe (and without huge risk of a "burp", leaving us worse off).

Most likely the "constraints" are not scientific or even practical -- they are entirely about where the profit can be extracted. Major big boondoggles like "carbon capture" are clearly in the running under that constraint. Big dollars, arcane technology, major opportunity for overruns and scams.

But without credit, it can't happen. Better get some potatoes in for the winter -- and hope the blight doesn't hit this year.

Koonin maintains that there are simply not enough time and resources to let “1000 flowers bloom indiscriminately” and that carbon capture, nuclear, and biofuels should be the first priority. He would prefer that widespread adoption of electric cars be put off to concentrate on increasing the efficiency of internal combustion engines.

In other words, there is simply not enough time and resources to do all the right things, so let's just do all the wrong things instead.

I think that it is becoming quite clear that the FedGov can be counted upon to do exactly the wrong things, all the way to the bitter end.

What is the moral equivalent of the speed of light? Is anything absolute?

Right and Wrong are relative -- just depends on your inertial framework. If you live by economic bubbles, as our U.S. Government has for decades, then what the FedGov is doing is probably right for the smartest guys in the room. Pumping up a new bubble in "carbon capture" would seem to be exactly right if the goal is to extract profits for the elite.

I suppose that to answer my own question, the only absolute quantity that matters to people is the human lifespan. The importance of profit is inversely proportional to one's perception of time left on earth.

On the other hand, there seems to be an infinite number of young profit-takers growing up who haven't yet read Ecclesiates-- and who just itch to take the baton from the passing generation.

The problem with moral absolutes is they conflict with each other in the real world.

That, and there are too many insane people out there to break whatever model you might want to form.

I was considering "right" in the context above to be "doing what is necessary to maintain the USA (thus and its critical political, economic, and social institutions) as a going concern." The whole system is set up on the explicit premise that this is what those in charge are supposed to be responsible for. If they are not able or willing to at least try to do the "right" things - "right" being those things that will maximize our chances of our republic, our economy, and our society continuing into the future (and note that this is not exactly the same thing as "BAU", there is plenty of room for change and transformation in that) - then they really have no business being in charge.

Here's an article from last week:

DOE’s Chief Scientist Lays Out His Road Map

Steve Koonin, the chief scientist at the Department of Energy, says carbon capture, nuclear and biofuels should happen now. Electric cars should wait for the future.

And he says this:

Will humanity make it? One audience member asked for Koonin's opinions about the great extinction events that have occurred in Earth's history and how more are linking those extinctions to climate changes.

"One of the things I loved in retrospect most about being a professor was being able to say what I wanted," Koonin said. "Next question."

Interesting. I attended a talk he gave last year while still Chief Scientist at BP, and said that we had no worries about running out of oil because the reserves to production ratio at current production rates would last 41 years, undiscovered reserves would give us another 40 years, and unconventional oil would last an indeterminate time. This of course ignores all of the subtleties often discussed here, which he may very well be aware of, but just wasn't able to say as a BP employee. It all seemed to go over very well with the audience. He also downplayed global warming saying that 2005 had many hurricanes, 2006 was quiet, 2007 average and the climate is very noisy and highly variable. Also, according to Koonin, the last decade has not seen any significant increase in global temperature. "Why is that? Nobody knows, at least nobody predicted it."

Re: Germany’s Brimming Heating-Oil Tanks Signal Winter Demand Slump

I suspect the contraction in residential fuel oil sales will continue to accelerate going forward. Some four out of five new homes built in this province are now electrically heated and the trend away from oil took a sharp upturn with the price spikes of 2007 and 2008 (prices have fallen considerably since then, but the painful memories still linger on). Older, less efficient boilers and furnaces are being replaced by more efficient units at the end of their service life (and sometimes before) and, in some cases, swapped out for alternate fuels such as natural gas. Wood and pellet stoves are likewise increasingly popular secondary heat sources. There is also a greater push to improve the thermal efficiency of existing housing stock, stimulated in part by low-cost energy audits and generous government incentives. It would seem fuel oil dealers are being squeezed from all sides.

Last week, I convinced two more friends to purchase high efficiency ductless heat pumps -- three are being installed in a set of flats in St. John, NB as we speak and three more will be commissioned locally. Collectively, these units will likely eliminate a further 8,000 to 10,000 litres a year of fuel oil demand.


Weeks after bloodshed, American oil moves into Peruvian Amazon

Barely six weeks after dozens of Amazon natives were gunned down in cold blood by the Peruvian Army in the oil town of Bagua for protesting the cozy relationship between Big Oil and the government of President Alan Garcia, I find myself on the banks of the Mother of God River in Salvacion, Peru, wondering if all those folks died in vain.

Thanks for sharing this. The little I know about the development of oil and gas resources in countries such as Nigeria and now Peru only strengthens my resolve to minimize my own use and to encourage others to do the same. Unfortunately, electricity is often the substitute for oil and this, in turn, further increases our province's dependence upon imported coal; in effect, we end up substituting one evil for another. Thus, conservation first and fuel substitution second.


Is it primarily No. 2 Fuel Oil you use in Canada? Was trying to suss what the situation is like in the US but the EIA only gives out annual data up to 2007 for deliveries by end use - residential was actually up slightly for '07, but otherwise on a general trend down, 8% of total supply.

EIA has monthly #2 distillate figures which turned down sharply a year ago; but were actually trending upward before that, and this includes on-road applications of course. Are US consumers also turning away from heating oil much? #1 is almost passe but EIA says it's primarily used for outdoor applications.

No. 2 is used exclusively in these parts, at least in terms of home delivery, although #1 may be added to prevent cold weather gelling (I honestly don't know).

I'll see if I can find any recent consumption data for eastern Canada and get back to you. Last winter was a little colder than normal and certainly colder than the year before, so there could have been a slight bump for that reason alone. I have no insight into this industry, but I wonder if some homeowners (or distributors) let tanks run a little low in the hope that prices would fall later on in the season or, alternatively, kept them topped up in anticipation that prices might rise further; it would be interesting to know if this would have any material impact on sales y-o-y.


OK, here's what I've found out thus far... according to Stats Can, the percentage of Canadian homes heated by each of the following fuel types is as follows:

Principal heating fuel 	  	2003	2004	2005	2006	2007
  Oil or other liquid fuel 	12.4 	10.4 	09.6 	09.5 	09.5
  Piped gas (natural gas) 	49.0 	49.6 	50.4 	49.4 	50.5
  Bottled gas (propane) 	00.8 	01.0 	01.0 	01.0 	00.7
  Electricity 	 	 	33.3 	33.6 	34.2 	34.8 	34.0
  Wood 	 	 	 	04.2 	04.8 	04.5 	04.7 	04.7
  Other 	 	 	00.3 	00.6 	00.2 	00.6 	00.5

Source: http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/famil09a-eng.htm?sdi=fuel%20oil

Unfortunately, the data in this table predates the sharp run-up in residential fuel oil prices in 08 but, presumably, the impact of this would be negative.

From Natural Resources Can:

Because of a series of abnormally warm winters and increased use of alternative energy sources, Canada’s consumption of heating oil has decreased significantly. In fact, during the winter of 2007/2008 (September to April) Canadians consumed 3.5 billion litres of fuel oil—10% below the 3.9 billion litres consumed during the winter of 2002/2003. With Environment Canada forecasting normal or above-normal temperatures for much of Eastern Canada this winter, fuel oil sales may decrease.

Source: http://nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/sources/petpet/reprap/2008-11/supoff-eng.php

One thing to note... Environment Canada had initially predicted a warmer than normal winter for 08/09, but it turned out to be the other way around, although I would need to compare heating degree days to be absolutely certain.


The comparable figures for US sales/deliveries to residential consumers were:

2000      11.46%
2001      11.09%
2002      10.75%
2003      10.85%
2004      10.67%
2005      9.74%
2006      8.02%
2007      8.13%

There's a separate category for "farm," however, which isn't all tractors and milking machines - about half the volume delivered to residential users. Also #1 and kerosene figure in there somewhere, all are on a gradual downslope though. Morgan Downey says individual states regulate sulfur content but I see in this NYT piece from January that they're acting in concert to move to ULSD: Sulfur in Heating Oil to Be Reduced - NYTimes.com

The suppliers will reduce sulfur in heating oil to 0.0015 percent from 0.2 percent. Brandon Wright of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America said that consumers should see a small increase in the price of oil as a result of the change, but that it would be offset by savings from more efficient furnace and boiler operation in their homes.

The change will begin going into effect in next year’s heating season, he said.

This is an agreement struck with the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Visibility Union. The rest of the country consumes something like 20% of what PADD 1 does; hafta take a closer look at that.

Thanks for the data; much appreciated. I take it the slight increase in sales in 07 versus 06 is most likely weather related. However, as noted above, I wonder if customer inventories in the fall of 07 were somewhat higher than normal due to expectations of higher prices that winter, or if there were other factors that may have encouraged distributors to push more product out the door (e.g., cash flow pressures). If so, some sales would have been brought forward into that calendar year.

In any event, this appears to be a dying business, and one presumes the smaller and weaker players will have an increasingly more difficult time keeping the lights on.


Tax revenues post biggest drop since Depression

WASHINGTON (AP) — The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation's plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab.

The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion.

Other figures underscore the recession's impact: Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever.

There seems to be an unlimited supply of money for the bankster gangsters, and at least a few "disputed" billions for clunkers.

No money to pay for health care, even less for housing for those who lost in the recent lottery. I guess they will just have to put all the debtors and vagrants in prison to prevent corpses from piling up in the streets.

History is always told by the revisionists...

U.S. Recession Worst Since Great Depression, Revised Data Show

...The world’s largest economy contracted 1.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the last three months of 2008, compared with the 0.8 percent drop previously on the books, the Commerce Department said yesterday in Washington. Gross domestic product has shrunk 3.9 percent in the past year, the report said, indicating the worst slump since the Great Depression...

...Residential construction fell 21 percent during the period, almost 2 percentage points more than previously reported, aggravating what was already the worst slump since the Great Depression.

The Commerce Department also reported yesterday that the economy contracted at a 1 percent annual rate from April through June after shrinking at a 6.4 percent pace in the first quarter, the most since 1982. The decline in the first three months of the year was previously reported as 5.5 percent....

The article also says:

Medicare tax receipts are also down less than a percentage point for the year, pretty close to government projections. Medicare started paying out more money than it received last year.

It seems like Medicare tax is a fixed percentage of wages that pretty much everyone pays. If that is the case, it could mean that wages, in total are down less then a percentage point, even with all of the lay-offs and reduced work weeks. That is better than I had expected.

If Medicare started paying out more money than it received last year, we can be pretty sure that that will be even more the case this year, with more people over 65. It seems like taxes have to go up, or the benefit needs to go down. I think there is a lot of room for the benefit to go down--doctors treat this as the "full employment act for physicians" act. Many seem to think it is OK to do whatever you can to keep great grandpa alive another few months, even if great-grandpa can't recognize family members any longer.

I know when my mother-in-law was dying, we were told that all organs were shutting down. The next question was whether we wanted her transferred back to intensive care. (There was zero chance she would live, and she had signed papers indicating she did not want to be kept alive by artificial means.) We said no, but there were doctors who seemed to be perfectly happy with the idea of keeping her alive on machines for as long as possible.

Many, many doctors also pad the number of visits almost without limit, and pad the number of types of pills as well. Medicare seems to pay the same piece rate for each "visit", regardless of how little a doctor might choose to accomplish. Maybe it also pays a piece rate for writing as many prescriptions as possible, I just don't know (but certainly the drug lobby that partly designs the "system" is paid at a piece rate.) The "system" seems to be a broken-down wreck that's often damaging health with so-called side-effects sometimes far outweighing meager benefits. (Sure, Grandma's cholesterol number, that holy of holies, is down infinitesimally, but never mind that it wouldn't have bothered her until 20 years after she had already died of something else, while in the here and now, her liver is dissolving and her muscles are so far gone she can't haul herself out of bed.)

And all that's before we even get into the loop holes, donut holes, and other holes unmentionable in polite company, plus excuses, exceptions, and dodges, all of which make Medicare 'coverage' something of an illusion, as skimpy as a hospital gown, so that people feel compelled to spend money they can't afford on "supplementary insurance." Maybe Charles Hugh Smith's impractical suggestion is where we will end up by default...(but some of his points are well-taken - and by the way, MRI scans cost about $100 not only in China, where I might not trust them, but also in Japan, where I more likely would; while some things are intrinsically expensive, many are unreachably expensive only in a thoroughly crooked, broken, and untrustworthy "system"...)

It could be nice to have an international market for health care. I understand that people already go to Brazil for plastic surgery.

plastic surgery doesnt generally equate to health care.

True, but you see my point? OK - it is not that great of a one.

It's not just plastic surgery. People are going overseas to get all kinds of healthcare.


People are going overseas for back surgery, bypass operations, hip replacements, you name it.

I got a different suggestion: a multi-tier system.

Tier one is a single-payer universal system. Not necessarilly national, I would prefer that each state have their own system, just as each Canadian province does. Tier one would just cover: a) infectious diseases, and b) trauma injuries. It is clearly in the public interest to prevent infectious diseases from spreading, so maximizing immunizations amongst the population is a justifiable public policy. Even with max immunizations, though, there will still be infectious diseases that cannot be prevented through immunization, or that get a foothold amongst those few who are unimmunized. It is thus essential that those who are infected get treatment promptly, and if necessary even be quarantined. All of this can best be facilitated by a single-payer universal system. As for trauma, accidents can happen to anyone, as can nautral, accidental, and intentional (terrorist) disasters. Especially in the case of large-scale disasters, we need to be able to just scoop people up and get them to the emergency room and not worry about who is paying. Again, a single-payer universal system facilitates that. I would suggest that such a single-payer universal system be funded through a broad-based tax, maybe a sales tax or a VAT. Since what is being covered is so strictly limited, the cost, and the rate of tax required, would be relatively low.

Tier two would essentially take over where tier one left off, covering non-infectious diseases, chronic conditions, etc. It would not provide 100% coverage of these however; this would be pretty much of a "major medical" coverage with very large deductibles and co-pays. This is intended to just be stop-loss coverage for what would otherwise be catastrophic medical bills. Tier two coverage could be offered by competing private sector insurers, but I would like to see each state help set up at least one cooperative insurer that can compete against the private insurers. There would be a requirement that all of these tier two policies are structured pretty much the same way, with the same coverages and exclusions. They would be required to be open to all applicants without any exclusion for pre-existing conditions. There would be some sort of national reinsurance or stop-loss plan to protect insurers from adverse selection. Employers that had been giving their employees group health insurance would be required to give their employees vouchers instead. There would be some sort of government program to give vouchers to those who are certifiably unable to afford tier one coverage for themselves or their dependents. This voucher program would also be funded through a broad-based tax.

Tier three would be a set of increasingly "rich" supplemental plans. The concept and structure would be very similar to the present Medigap plans, with a set of standard "alphabet" packages. Each insurer could offer all or some or none; the state-sponsored co-ops, however, would have to offer at least some, including an option which would essentially provide 100% HMO-type managed care coverage. There would also be a Health Savings Account option. Again, these must be offered to all applicants without exclusion for pre-existing conditions, and a reinsurance plan would cover any adverse selection. The employee vouchers could also be used for all or part of the cost of premiums for one of these supplemental plans; government vouchers would have to go to some type of managed care option. I suspect that most people would have to pay for most of the cost of their supplemental plan out of their own pocket; this could be structured so that for everyone it is paid with pre-tax rather than after-tax dollars.

Such a three-tiered program maps sufficiently closely to Medicare that I believe that Medicare could be eliminated entirely as a separate program, and all Americans of any age be enrolled in the same health care finance system. Some arrangement could be made so that those that had paid in to Medicare for a long time and were counting on its coverage during their retirement years would get credit in the form of a government voucher to at least cover the tier 2 coverage, and maybe even for one of the lowest tier three supplements.

I believe that such a system is feasible, it would achieve the goal of universal "coverage", it would avoid everyone being under a huge national bureaucracy, it would preserve some private sector competition, it would leave people free to make some choices, and it would provide some incentives to start people thinking more about the cost of expensive care for chronic (and often preventable) conditions, and to work with health care providers in a managed care environment to drive those costs down.

In short, I believe that it would accomplish just about everything that the proposals presently on the table do not.

"There would be some sort of national reinsurance or stop-loss plan to protect insurers from adverse selection."

sounds like a great deal for the insurance companies. a little like the current fda - their mission seems to be to protect the safety of drug manufacturer's profits.

It is clearly in the public interest to prevent infectious diseases from spreading, so maximizing immunizations amongst the population is a justifiable public policy.

And how is it good public policy to make the immunization makers immune from lawsuit? "Doing good" or "not doing harm" seems not to be what Corporations do - so if one takes away the stick of lawsuit - exactly what methods of control are left?

In 1987, Dr. Hilleman, head of all vaccine production of Merck Pharmaceuticals stunned the world with his public admissions that the mass vaccination campaigns of the 1950s and ’60s likely caused thousands of cancer deaths each year. This was due to the presence of a cancer-causing virus that contaminated the first polio vaccine, according to Dr. Hilleman. Known as SV40, the virus originated from dead monkeys whose kidney cells were used to culture the first Salk vaccines. Doctors estimate that the virus was injected into tens of millions during the vaccination campaigns, including several million in Canada, before being detected and screened out in 1963. Those born between 1941 and 1961 are thought to be most at risk of having been infected with SV40, and are estimated to have a 300% greater chance of developing cancer. According to Hilleman MERCK KNEW THE VACCINES WERE INFECTED WITH SV40, but distributed them anyway. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edikv0zbAlU

Furthermore, research doctors in New Orleans reported in 1963 that a percentage of the Salk polio vaccines were found to have attenuated, (live) viruses, which actually CAUSED tens of thousands of polio cases during the 1950’s.

I can't believe that the legal immunity would cover knowingly distributing defective vaccines, or a careless disregard for safety.

But then there needs to be criminal liability, and the case law and penalties for dealing with Corporate criminal malfeasance are woefully underdeveloped.

And how do you "prove" that your problems X years in the future came from shot Y back in time Z?

PaulS -

It seems to me that most of focus of this whole health care issue has to do with whether enough people are 'insured', rather than whether the costs of health care are rational and reasonable. The idea being promoted seems to be that if enough people are insured, then everything is OK.

Well, even with universal insurance, clearly everything is NOT going to be OK. As anyone who has either been hospitalized or has had a loved one in a hospital for any length of time knows, the cost structure is from another dimension. It's like 'health care' dollars and normal dollars are not even in the same currency.

One gets bills that include visits by 'mystery doctors', i.e., those who pass by your room, look at your chart, and then charge something like $175 for their 'visit'. It is a total rip. If one had to pay these charges directly out of one's own pocket, they would never be able to get away with it. However, when 'Santa Claus' is footing the bill, one tends not to worry about what's in the bill.

The medical profession has long ceased to be a real profession and has now merely become a profit center for the insurance industry. Until the practice of medicine is decoupled from the insurance industry, there is zero chance of getting US health care costs under control. Is it any mystery why the health care industry and the related big pharma industry are just about the largest and most powerful lobbying group in Washington (after the banking 'industry') ?

We are ruled by swine.

imo, you owe swine an apology.

It seems like Medicare tax is a fixed percentage of wages that pretty much everyone pays. If that is the case, it could mean that wages, in total are down less then a percentage point, even with all of the lay-offs and reduced work weeks. That is better than I had expected.

That seems sensible. But 1% down in overall payroll at a time when the workforce is still growing means more than 1% per capita cuts. A proportional tax should be more stable, progressive income taxes can be more effected by a smallish change in wages, since the marginal tax rate is larger than the average. And then that portion of Fed and State revenue that is raised from capital gains -those nearly vanish during bear markets. A big component of California's budget problem is that taxes from capital gains are disproportionately larger.

zFacts Home
According to zFacts.com, we have reached the $11 trillion 700 billion threshold. We are adding $1 million every six seconds. We will be at 100% GDP very soon, sooner if the FED would come clean on two trillion of welfare to Wall Street. One trillion a year in annual deficits are on tap for the next 10 years. The dollar was at 1.44 to the Euro today. Oil is going up as are all commodities which are imported. Nobody in Washington cares a hoot about real inflation. They think they can change any measurement and lie like hell and get away with it. SS recipients are set to to get a zero percent increase next year. Unemployment will increase. 47 million of uninsured including children are probably not going to get any real relief or change.
Banks can only loan on 2.8 times family income for residential. Commercial loans can only be made on a 10% capitalization rate, not the 5-6% rate that has existed for the last four years. It cannot be treated as deflation because it was never treated as inflation from 2001 to 2005. Devaluation is not over because a government subsidy to first time buyers puts a finger in the dyke. Nor will the clunker subsidy have any lasting effect. It is a double dip recession or worse if people can not borrow as they did before, as real income will not keep up for most, Wall Street, Defense, and executives will get richer and most will be poorer under either party.
Europe has a safety net that does not take the recession out on workers. they also limit executive pay and have a single payer health care system at one half the cost and higher life expectancy. Of course a vat tax and high gas taxes are present also.


Link up top: Indonesian Oil Output May Rise to 965,000 Barrels a Day in 2010 . This is no big jump so why are they so excited. In 2008 they averaged 973,000 barrels per day and for the first four months of this year they have averaged 960,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.

Maybe the readers aren't as smart as you.

I think countries are increasingly happy at being able to maintain output rather than dropping precipitously like Mexico.

More Than 3.5 Mb/d Of Crude Oil Production Capacity That Was Supposed To Come Online Between 2009-13 Has Been Postponed

More than 15 projects in the Canadian oil sands have been suspended since late 2008 amounting to more than 1.72 mb/d of oil production capacity. More than 3.5 mb/d of crude oil production capacity that was supposed to come online in the next three years have been postponed, delayed or cancelled due to the financial crisis and the global economic slowdown. Similarly, more than 3.5 mb/d of crude oil production that was expected to come online from 2013 to 2015 has been postponed, delayed or cancelled.

The article is referring to global projects, not just those in the Canadanian oil sands.

Ron P.

Why peak oil doesn't matter

From The Independent [the article on Birol's warning], today: "The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned..."

...Dr. Birol makes it sound as if higher prices are a bad thing. Quite the contrary: low oil prices in the face of scarcity would be bad. High prices are needed to give us the incentive to "prepare ourselves." That's why peak oil doesn't matter. The peak means maximum production and maximum production means low prices. Low prices mean do nothing. High prices mean do something.

Thanks PaulS ; This quote and find is extremely important to grasp - it is a 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde'-moment , so who are you today ?

The peak means maximum production and maximum production means low prices. Low prices mean do nothing. High prices mean do something.

Christine Todd Whitman in "California should revive...":

Nuclear power easily beats fossil fuels in price on an ongoing operating basis, which is the best way to measure whether energy investments are worth it. In 2007, U.S. utilities spent an average of only 1.76 cents to produce each kilowatt-hour from nuclear energy. By comparison, it cost 6.78 cents for each kilowatt-hour from natural gas and 10.26 cents for petroleum.

Italics mine. She means "if we ignore the costs of construction and decomissioning, and only consider the costs of maintenance and fuel". How can she say that and smile? Maybe she can't keep a straight face. Please someone tell me that I shouldn't be disgusted.
Why does she include the cost for oil and omit the cost for coal?

CA, if I'm not mistaken, has mandates that require utilities to purchase power from non-coal sources.


I guess the moral is to just have one point per post. I didn't really care about why she didn't include coal, and no one uses oil anyway. If she is going to ignore construction costs, I assume that wind power with pumped storage or any kind of solar is even cheaper. That was my question - how can she claim that one ought to ignore construction costs, and destruction costs, and long term waste handling. She might be right that nuclear is needed, but the thinking is so tainted, that she looks like a shill, which is not what we need from an ex-governor.

"I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington DC that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink." EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman



Oh my. That is terrible. I forgot that that was her, was she.

New life for the North American automobile?

Engineer builds diesel-gas hybrid engine
Researchers find energy efficiency in blending fuels

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have developed an engine that runs on a mix of diesel and gasoline that produces fewer emissions and is as much as 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than conventional engines.

Led by mechanical engineering professor Rolf Reitz, a research team at the school presented their findings at a diesel engine conference in Detroit sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/08/03/diesel-gas-hybrid.html?ref...


What do they mean when they say "conventional engine"? If they mean the gasoline fueled engine found in most cars then "duh". Diesel engines are more efficient than Otto cycle engines pretty much irregardless of the fuel.

There's that 'toy of the week' feel to this... (I mean, come on... How many products do we read here that will give you 100 mpg, reduce CO2, and costs pennies per day? And, how many deliver...?) But, it makes sense to change the fuel mixture for an engine based on engine load, temperature, etc... Good luck (they're gonna need it).

Are these guys getting paid for this sh?t ? I wanna get me some of that...

Back in the late 60's and into the mid 70's, while driving a truck (18 wheeler to you city folk) in the cold north of the great plains, we used to cut diesel with gas all the time. about 10 gals per 100 gal tank. Detroit 318's, 238's and 12v92's will run too cold, ya see. So we just made run a bit hotter....not a bit of extra wear. Now with low sulphur fuel and unit injectors, you can still cut it, just not as much. The engine derates. Cetane VS Octane

But hey, lets get some GUBERMINT money for a bunch of bogus research to throw on the Merry-go-round...gotta love it. It's already too late.

(edit) And it has only been run "in simulation" Yaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Fareed Zakaria, talking head guru, has figured out how the world can back on track:

Get Out the Wallets The world needs Americans to spend.
We have come to believe that Americans are genetically coded to consume. Perhaps most important, we have decided as a society to massively favor spending over saving. All the programs and incentives to pull out the wallet remain in place.


Wow how logical, the problem initially was overborrowing and overspending and so the solution must be the same, overborrowing and overspending.

I now know how to cure an alcoholic, "more whiskey please"!

Nuclear Iran
If Iran's reactors used thorium, what objection could we have?

Maybe we should help Iran build a thorium reactor. We would get some practice, we would defuse the nuclear issue (We want to do that don't we? Or are we more comfortable with a Cold War...), and it could supply power to either Afghanistan or Iraq, depending on siting.

After all, Iran does not need to construct a bomb to have one. Anybody could just give them a few, as we offered to give the French a few, before Dien Bien Phu, as George Bidault, French Foreign Minister, reports that Dulles did.
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Hearts_and_Minds/60023304 @4:41

And what if the reactors The Shaw were in place and operational before the overthow of The Shaw happened?

What would be the kevetching over working reactors?

And what if the reactors The Shaw were in place and operational before the overthow of The Shaw happened?

What would be the kevetching over working reactors?

This is a great poster from ~30 years ago...

Yes, from the same folks that brought you Three Mile Island...

By chance, I ran across a much more recent report than 1954 of US nuclear proliferation. Sibel Edmonds reports that we have been cooperating with Turkey for some time. The details are not confirmed, however.

Not that Iran even needs a nuclear weapon - they already have one: pulling their oil out of the export market - except that the effect is hard to target, so it may not make a credible threat.

CNBC Video: The Call on Oil

This is quite interesting despite Ron Insana saying: At the time we were having a raging peak oil theory argument at $147, that the Ras Tanura oil field in Saudi Arabia was being depleted... Of course there is no Ras Tanura oil field, he was probably referring to Ghawar.

Ron P.

A bit of a "think tank" session on the economy as of now. These are not "answers" in a true sense, but just an attempt to gain perspective on what is a very confusing set of circumstances:

The risk markets (stock, mutual funds) seem to have gotten somewhat ahead of themselves fast. A rebound was expected, but this rebound has come very quickly, with the S&P Index back over 1000 points. Even conservative mutual funds are up about 8% on the year to date. Does this seem likely as a one year return given the environment we are in? The odds do not seem good, so that means a retreat on the second half of the year. That is not a catastrophe, but it will be made to sound like one by the panic market (which continues to be the growth industry of the new century)

The projections of fast recovery are driving the reborn oil concern, as everyone is going back to the projections of growth "pre-meltdown". Suddenly, all those folks who have shortened driving distance, cut vacations, and even changed housing locations are going to bounce back to the old "exurb" driving patterns and lifestyle. Even if they could, they wouldn't. The old "trust" in stable oil prices is gone for another generation. I know a woman who wanted a new job, and she is qualified for it...but it would require increased driving distance. She cannot take the chance of changing her housing location (she is near her grandchildren, etc.) and could not get a loan to buy a new home anyway. She is passing on a higher paying/higher status job because the "trust" factor (in fuel prices and the ability to get a decent mortgage) is gone. This is not an unusual story. Interestingly the folks who were most trustful of their mutual funds, 401K's, jobs, and home equities are the ones who are now the most shattered. Those of us who had always been a bit doomerish and doubtful are less surprised and now more willing to see the current situation as somewhat natural.

Speaking of credit, the credit crunch is far from over, in fact, I would argue that it is as bad now as it was at the bottom of the recent crisis: Credit card companies are stopping service to people who do not use their cards, to people with a low credit balance, and as people lower their balance, the credit limits are being dropped along with them. Getting mortgages are next to impossible as the bank and mortgage loan industry "cherry pick" for the absolute perfect customer and sit on assets. There is no friend like ready cash.

So what to do? The banks, ironically, are like the rest of us. They were hysterical at the bottom of the V-shaped collapse and missed the opportunity to triple their money. If you didn't get in back near the bottom, there is no point piling in now. This is typical of all recovery periods, the big players have made hundreds of percent returns, the little individual cheers when even a dozen percent gain is made, then pay taxes and brokerage fees on even that...effective return, zilch. Instead, pour all you can to debt repayment, and fund the 401K to the max if your employer matches, take their money! They are effectively allowing you to buy the stocks and bonds at a discount, so your still buying nearer to the collapse prices and most of us can't touch the money for the next decade anyway, the young even longer. By then we will be in a whole different world.

Energy: Given the "walking on eggshells" feel of the economy, the destruction of trust, the structural changes to less consumption, does anyone see a fast rebound in energy consumption? Those who see China and India as rebounding fast must assume those nations have customers around the world just pining to give away their best friend of ready cash on Asian made junk. Does that seem likely right now?

As I said, just thinking....


The Chinese have a large stimulus plan of their own and evidently it has been quite successful. Remember that they have been savers and have run large trade surpluses over recent years. So now they are increasing domestic consumption not exports so much. I have read that Buick sales in China are up 78 percent while American GM sales are down 19 percent.

Westexas has pointed out several times that oil prices rose during the 1930s mostly due the increased number of cars on the road. There are increased numbers of cars on the road in this Great Recession only the roads are in China. Yes, oil prices can go up even though the U.S. is stuck in recession. It is happening now. The drop in American oil consumption is not enough to offset increased Chinese consumption and the effects of Peak Oil.

The market will test how much demand drop to happen when oil is at $80, $100, or $120. I suspect that, while demand will not grow, it will not drop much either. There is not much elasticity downward when price moves up, because the demand in developing nations, including China and India, will make up the loss in developed nations. China has just out-sold the U.S. to become the largest car market. India has another 1.3 billion people to follow the suit.

On the other hand, I suspect you don't really know much what China builds these days, when you call the stuff they make "Asian made junk". The "junks" probably will include the LCD TVs you watch, the steel bridge spans you drive through, and the iPhones you call your friends with.

Full speed ahead -- looking like the cliff is just afoot.

The greatest Ponzi scheme needs to be supported. Everyone is just running around like a headless snake.
I just don't like the smell of it. Our government is giving money away for people to buy new cars. Soon
they need that kind of program for everything in the house. As long the Chinese are happy with all the newly
printed dollars -- it'll be BAU.

We are doomed -- as a friend of mine would say.

To those TOD members from Minnesota and surrounding area, Brian Kaller is giving a talk is titled,

"The Beginning is Near: Energy, Climate Change, and Self-Reliance."

It is scheduled for Wednesday, August 12, from 6:15 -8:00 p.m. in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Campus Center at Macalester College.

Here is how Brian is framing the lecture:

I hope to cover a lot of ground in my talk, which I think puts everything in perspective – the basics of peak energy and climate change, how energy consumption has shaped society, how much less energy we used even a few decades ago, and how much we can afford to cut back and still be prosperous. With that context, I can go into how various groups – us, Transition Towns, others – are organizing their communities to be self-sufficient – to go “off-globalisation” as individuals go “off-grid.” I can expand on the various things we are doing, TT Kildare are doing, Rob and Karl did in Kinsale, and so on, projects that can be undertaken by groups in the Twin Cities, which require no money or experience. I think you’ll be pleased with the result.

I want to emphasize that, while we are only seeing the beginning of difficulties like peak energy and climate change, our communities can not only cope with them, but become more resilient and long-lasting, and actually be much better as a result.

Brian Kaller
County Kildare, Ireland

-- Talk Contact

Margaret R. Beegle
Executive Assistant
Institute for Global Citizenship
Macalester College
1595 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

(651) 696-6332

I leave Minnesota for one week a year...

Well, hopefully a video or transcript gets posted.

Sorry you can't make it. If they do a video I will post here to let people know where to find it.

"Jobless graduate sues her college for $70,000"
NYC woman claims Bronx school’s career center didn’t help her find jobs


sounds a little frivolous, but i know a graduate who contacted the placement office for help and was asked " are you applying for jobs" ?
not the job placement assistance that was promised in the slick promotional materials showing happy, successful, fulfilled graduates.

TVA raises coal ash spill cost to $1.2B, reports 3Q loss

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority raised its estimates for cleaning up a massive coal ash spill to $1.2 billion on Friday, and partly blamed its third-quarter loss of $167 million on that cleanup.

Officials also suggested a rate increase could be looming.

The TVA has been very disappointing in it's reaction to new technology. While private stock holder utilities such as Florida Power and Light have increased their support of renewables in a noticable way, so far TVA has given us only token work.

Very sad for one of the most innovative organizations ever chartered. They have the history. TVA should be a showcase for how the transition to renewables and low carbon energy can be done.


Good thing we're going to have Clean Coal soon, right?... :\